Слике страница
PDF
ePub

ment and perpetuation of our freedom, Lafayette found the most perfect form of government. He wished to add nothing to it. He would gladly have abstracted nothing from it. Instead of the imaginary Republic of Plato, or the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, he took a practical existing model, in actual operation here, and never attempted or wished more than to apply it faithfully to his own country.

It was not given to Moses to enter the promised land; but he saw it from the summit of Pisgah. It was not given to Lafayette to witness the consummation of his wishes in the establishment of a republic, and the extinction of all hereditary rule in France. His principles were in advance of the age and hemisphere in which he lived. The life of the patriarch was not long enough for the development of his whole political system. Its final accomplishment is to be looked for in the future.

• The anticipation of this event is the more certain, from the consideration that all the principles for which Lafayette contended were practical. He never indulged himself in wild and fanciful speculations. The principle of hereditary power was, in his opinion, the bane of all republican liberty in Europe. Unable to extinguish it in the revolution of 1830, so far as concerned the chief magistracy of the nation, Lafayette had the satisfaction of seeing it abolished with reference to the peerage.

There is no argument producible against the existence of an hereditary peerage but applies, with aggravated weight, against the transmission, from sire to son, of an hereditary

The prejudices and passions of the people of France rejected the principle of inherited power, in every station of public trust, excepting the first and highest of them all; but there they clung to it, as did the Israelites of old to the savory deities of Egypt.

This is not the time or the place for a disquisition upon the comparative merits, as a system of government, of a republic, and a monarchy surrounded by republican institutions. Upon this subject there is among us no diversity of

crown.

opinion; and if it should take the people of France another half century of internal and external war, of dazzling and delusive glories, of unparalleled triumphs, humiliating reverses, and bitter disappointments, to settle it to their satisfaction, the ultimate result can only bring them to the point where we have stood from the day of the declaration of independence - to the point where Lafayette would have brought them, and to which he looked as a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Then, too, and then only, will be the time when the character of Lafayette will be appreciated at its true value throughout the civilized world. When the principle of hereditary dominion shall be extinguished in all the institutions of France; when government shall no longer be considered as property transmissible from sire to son, but as a trust committed for a limited time, and then to return to the people whence it came - as a burdensome duty to be discharged, and not as a reward to be abused; when a claim, any claim, to political power by inheritance shall, in the esti mation of the whole French people, be held as it now is by the whole people of the North American Union, then will be the time for contemplating the character of Lafayette, not merely in the events of his life, but in the full development of his intellectual conceptions, of his fervent aspirations, of the labors and perils and sacrifices of his long and eventful career upon earth ; and thenceforward, till the hour when the trump of the archangel shall sound to announce that tine shall be no more, the name of Lafayette shall stand enrolled upon the annals of our race, high on the list of the pure and disinterested benefactors of mankind.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

The above is extracted from an Oration on the Life and Character of Lafayette, delivered, at the request of both Houses of the Congress of the United States, before them, in the House of Representatives, at Washing. ton, on the 31st of December, 1834.

138. Cato on the Immortality of the Soul.

It must be so Plato, thou reasonest well!
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread and inward horror
Of falling into nought? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction ? -
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis Heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity !-thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes, must we pass !
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me,
But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a Power above us, -
And that there is, all Nature cries aloud
Through all her works, — he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in must be happy.
But when? or where? This world was made for Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjectures this must end them.

(Laying his hand on his sword.)
Thus I am doubly armed. My death and life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me.
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die!
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter and the crush of worlds !

ADDISON

139. Speech in the House of Peers, against the

American War, and against employing the Indians as Allies.

I CANNOT, my lords, I will not, join in congratulation on misfortune and disgrace. This, my lords, is a perilous and tremendous moment. It is not a time for adulation ; the smoothness of Aattery cannot save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is now necessary to instruct the throne in the language of truth. We must, if possible, dispel the delusion and darkness which envelop it, and display, in its full danger and genuine colors, the ruin which is brought to our doors.

Can ministers still presume to expect support in their infatuation? Can parliament be so dead to their dignity and duty as to give their support to measures thus obtruded and forced

upon them ?- measures, my lords, which have reduced this late flourishing empire to scorn and contempt! “But yesterday, and Britain might have stood against the world; now, none so poor as to do her reverence.” — The people whom we at first despised as rebels, but whom we now acknowledge as enemies, are abetted against us, supplied with every military store, have their interest consulted, and their ambassadors entertained, by our inveterate enemy and ministers do not, and dare not, interpose with dignity or effect.

The desperate state of our army abroad is in part known. No man more highly esteems and honors the British troops than I do. I know their virtues and their valor; I know they can achieve any thing but impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of British America is an impossibility. You cannot, my lords, you cannot conquer America. What is your present situation there? We do not know the worst; but we know that in three campaigns we have done nothing, and suffered much.

You may swell every expense, accumulate every assistance,

nev

and extend your traffic to the shambles of every German despot ; your attempts will be forever vain and impotent doubly so, indeed, from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates to an incurable resentment the minds of your adversaries, to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty. If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms - Never! er ! — never !

But, my lords, who is the man, that, in addition to the disgraces and mischiefs of the war, has dared to authorize and associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage ? — to call into civilized alliance the wild and in human inhabitant of the woods ? — to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My lords, these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishmen.. But, my lords, this barbarous measure has been defended, not only on the principles of policy and necessity, but also on those of morality; “for it is perfectly allowable," says Lord Suffolk, “ to use all the means which God and nature have put into our hands."

I am astonished, I am shocked, to hear such principles confessed; to hear them avowed in this house, or even in this country. My lords, I did not intend to encroach so much on your attention, but I cannot repress my indignation. I feel myself impelled to speak.

My lords, we are called upon as members of this house, as men, as Christians, to protest against such horrible barbarity. “That God and nature have put into our hands !” What ideas of God and nature that noble lord may entertain, I know not; but I know that such detestable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and huinanity. What ! tu attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping-knife! to the cannibal, torturing, murdering, devouring, drinking the blood of his mangled

« ПретходнаНастави »