Слике страница
PDF
ePub

individual within the limits of the country who could have so successfully achieved this happy event.

“We are aware, Sir, that this treaty is not yet completed, but that an important act is yet necessary for its accomplishment. We anticipate no such result, and yet it may be that still further work is necessary for the crowning of our hopes. You have brought skill and labor, ay, and self-sacrifice too, to this great work, we know. And whatever may befall the country, in this or any other matter, we are sure that you will be ready to sacrifice every thing for her good, save honor. And on that point, amidst the perplexities of these perplexing times, we shall be at ease; for we know that he who has so nobly maintained his country's honor may safely be intrusted with his own.

“ And permit us, Sir, most warmly to greet you as our personal friend and fellow-citizen. Though the few and brief intervals of leisure which your public duties have permitted you, have allowed us far less intercourse with you in private life than we have wished, we have never ceased to feel that you were one of us. We rejoice in the kind Provi. dence which has been with you in the past, and may Heaven still smile upon your future years. Long may you live to be an ornament and support of your native republic. And when at last your sun goes down, as every orb, the brightest even, must set, may it be from a serene and tranquil sky. It was bright at its rising; it is brilliant at its meridian. May no clouds gather around its departing; but, life's labors done and honors won, may it, — in your own classical and beautiful words, may it go down with slow-descending, long-lingering light.'

“And now, fellow-citizens, it would be the idlest ceremony in the world, to presume to introduce to you our distinguished guest. It was his privilege, upon the occasion of an important trial in the Supreme Court of this Commonwealth, a few years since, to introduce to that court, and to the bar, the late lamented William Wirt, his opposing counsel in the cause. He did it by a just and beautiful tribute to his eminent talents and worth. It was the no less just and beautiful reply of Mr. Wirt, when he rose in turn to address the court, that he had one reason to regret the very kind introduction which he had just received; for his friend, Mr. Webster, had thereby placed him under an obligation which it never would be in his power to return, - for he never could meet that gentleman at any bar in the United States where his name and his fame had not gone before him.

“ And here, fellow-citizens, in Boston,- here in Faneuil Hall, last place of all, and amongst you, last people of all, is such a ceremony needed. I have only to say that Daniel Webster, the faithful representative, the manly and able statesman, your fellow-citizen and friend, is before you, and I leave his name to do the rest."

[merged small][ocr errors]

RECEPTION AT BOSTON.

I know not how it is, Mr. Mayor, but there is something in the echoes of these walls, or in this sea of upturned faces which I behold before me, or in the genius that always hovers over this place, fanning ardent and patriotic feeling by every motion of its wings, — I know not how it is, but there is something that excites me strangely, deeply, before I even begin to speak. It cannot be doubted that this salutation and greeting from my fellowcitizens of Boston is a tribute dear to my heart. Boston is indeed my home, my cherished home. It is now more than twenty-five years since I came to it with my family, to pursue, here in this enlightened metropolis, those objects of professional life for which my studies and education were designed to fit me. It is twenty years since I was invited by the citizens of Boston to take upon myself an office of public trust in their service.* It gives me infinite pleasure to see here to-day, among those who hold the seats yielded to such as are more advanced in life, not a few of the gentlemen who were earnestly instrumental in inducing me to enter upon a course of life wholly unexpected, and to devote myself to the service of the public.

Whenever the duties of public life have withdrawn me from this home, I have felt it, nevertheless, to be the attractive spot to which all local affection tended. And now that the

progress

of time must shortly bring about the period, if it should not be hastened by the progress of events, when the duties of public life shall yield to the influences of advancing years, I cherish no hope more precious, than to pass here in these associations and among these friends what may remain to me of life; and to

* The office of Representative in Congress.

leave in the midst of you, fellow-citizens, partaking of your fortunes, whether for good or for evil, those who bear my name, and inherit my blood.

The Mayor has alluded, very kindly, to the exertions which I have made since I have held a position in the Cabinet, and especially to the results of the negotiation in which I have been recently engaged. I hope, fellow-citizens, that something has been done which may prove permanently useful to the public. I have endeavored to do something, and I hope my endeavors have not been in vain. I have had a hard summer's work, it is true, but I am not wholly unused to hard work. I have had some anxious days, I have spent some sleepless nights; but if the results of my efforts shall be approved by the community, I am richly compensated. My other days will be the happier, and my other nights will be given to a sweeter repose.

It was an object of the highest national importance, no doubt, to disperse the clouds which threatened a storm between England and America. For several years past there has been a class of questions open between the two countries, which have not always threatened war, but which have prevented the people from being assured of permanent peace.

His Honor the Mayor has paid a just tribute to that lamented personage, by whom, in 1841, I was called to the place I now occupy; and although, Gentlemen, I know it is in very bad taste to speak much of one's self, yet here, among my friends and neighbors, I wish to say a word or two on subjects in which I am concerned. With the late President Harrison, I had contracted an acquaintance while we were both members of Congress, and I had an opportunity of renewing it afterwards in his own house, and elsewhere. I have made no exhibition or boast of the confidence which it was his pleasure to repose in me; but circumstances, hardly worthy of serious notice, have rendered it not improper for me to say on this occasion, that as soon as President Harrison was elected, without, of course, one word from me, he wrote to me inviting me to take a place in his Cabinet, leaving to me the choice of that place, and asking my advice as to the persons that should fill every other place in it. He expressed rather a wish that I should take the administration of the treasury, because, as he was pleased to say, I had devoted myself with success to the examination of the questions

of currency and finance, and he felt that the wants of the country, — the necessities of the country, on the great subjects of currency and finance, — were moving causes that produced the revolution which had placed him in the presidential chair.

It so happened, Gentlemen, that my preference was for another place, - for that which I have now the honor to fill. I felt all its responsibilities; but I must say, that, with whatever attention I had considered the general questions of finance, I felt more competent and willing to undertake the duties of an office which did not involve the daily drudgery of the treasury.

I was not disappointed, Gentlemen, in the exigency which then existed in our foreign relations. I was not unaware of all the difficulties which hung over us; for although the whole of the danger was not at that moment developed, the cause of it was known, and it seemed as if an outbreak was inevitable. I allude now to that occurrence on the frontier of which the chairman has already spoken, which took place in the winter of 1811, the case of Alexander McLeod.

A year or two before, the Canadian government had seen fit to authorize a military incursion, for a particular purpose, within the territory of the United States. That purpose was to destroy a steamboat, charged with being employed for hostile purposes against its forces and the peaceable subjects of the

The act was avowed by the British government at home as a public act. Alexander McLeod, a person who individually could claim no regard or sympathy, happened to be one of the agents who, in a military character, performed the act of their sovereign. Coming into the United States some years after, he was arrested under a charge of homicide comınitted in this act, and was held to trial as for a private felony.

According to my apprehensions, a proceeding of this kind was directly adverse to the well-settled doctrines of the public law. It could not but be received with lively indignation, not only by the British government, but among the people of England. It would be so received among us. If a citizen of the United States should as a military man receive an order of his government and obey it, (and he must either obey it or be hanged,) and should afterwards, in the territory of another power, which by that act he had offended, be tried for a violation of its law, as for a crime, and threatened with individual punish

crown.

« ПретходнаНастави »