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THE DEATH OF JOIN QUINCY ADAMS.
THE PILGRIM FATHERS.
AN ADDRESS, DELIVERED BEFORE THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY, IN THE
CITY OF NEW YORK, DECEMBER 23, 1839.
Towards the close of the year 1558, about two hundred and eighty-one years ago, a little more than nine times the period which has been commonly assigned as the term of a generation, and only four times the threescore years and ten which have been divinely allotted to the life of man, a virgin Princess ascended the throne of England. Inheriting, together with the throne itself, a full measure of that haughty and overbearing spirit which characterized the royal race from which she sprung, she could not brook the idea of any partition of her power, or of any control over her person. She seemed resolved that that race should end with her, and that the crown which it had so nobly won on Bosworth Field should seek a new channel of succession, rather than it should be deprived, in her person, and through any accident of her sex, of one jot or tittle of that high prerogative which it had now enjoyed for nearly a century. She seemed to prefer, not only to hold, herself, a barren sceptre – no heir of her's succeeding - but even to let that sceptre fall into the hands of the issue of a hated, persecuted, and finally murdered rival, rather than risk the certainty of wielding it herself, with that free and unembarrassed arm which befitted a daughter of the Tudors.
Accordingly, no sooner had she grasped it, and seated herself securely upon the throne of her fathers, than she declared to her suppliant Commons — who doubtless presumed that they could approach a Queen of almost six-and-twenty, with no more agreeable petition, than that she would graciously condescend to select for herself an help-meet in the management of the mighty interests which had just been intrusted to her — that England was her husband; that she had wedded it with the marriage ring upon her finger, placed there by herself with that design on the very morning of her coronation; that while a private person she had always declined a matrimonial engagement, regarding it even then as an incumbrance, but that much more did she persist in this opinion now that a great kingdom had been committed to her charge; and that, for one, she wished no higher character or fairer remembrance of her should be transmitted to posterity, when she should pay the last debt to nature, than to have this inscription engraved on her tombstone: “ Here lies Elizabeth, who lived and died a Maiden Queen."
In the purpose thus emphatically declared at her accession, the Queen of whom I speak persevered to her decease. Scorning the proverbial privilege of her sex, to change their minds at will upon such a subject, and resisting the importunities of a thousand suitors, she realized that vision of a Midsummer Night's Dream, which was so exquisitely unfolded to her by the immortal Dramatist of her day :
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free." But Elizabeth was not quite content to wait for a tombstone, on which to inscribe this purpose and its fulfilment. Proclaimed, as it annually was, through the whole length and breadth of the Old World, from almost every corner of which proposals of a character to shake and change it were continually poured in upon her, — she resolved to engrave it once and forever upon the New World also, where as yet there was no civilized suitor to tease her with his pretensions, whose very existence had been