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copy of the Iliad under his pillow. If any commercial views are justly ascribed to the projector of such an expedition, it furnishes an early and striking illustration of the idea, which the general current of history has since confirmed, that the mercantile and martial spirits were never to be the subjects of reconciliation and compromise, nor commerce destined to be seen yoked to the car, and decorating the triumph of military ambition. At all events, it supplies an amusing picture of the navigation of those early days, and shows how poorly provided and appointed was the mercantile spirit of antiquity for its great mission of civilization and peace. Transports and triaconters, skimming along the coast without a compass, and propelled by oarsmen who were panic-stricken at the spouting of a whale, were not the enginery by which commerce was to achieve its world-wide triumphs. And it was another Admiral than Nearchus, not yielding himself reluctantly to the call of an imperious sovereign, but prompted by the heroic impulses of his own breast, and offering up his prayers and oblations at another shrine than that of Jupiter or Neptune, who, in a still far distant age, was to open the world to the nations, give the commercial spirit sea-room, and lend the original impulse to those great movements of navigation and trade by which the whole face of society has been transformed.
Well might the mail-clad monarchs of the earth refuse their countenance to Columbus, and reward his matchless exploit with beggary and chains. He projected, he accomplished that, which, in its ultimate and inevitable consequences, was to wrest from their hands the implements of their ferocious sport, — to break their bow and knap their spear in sunder, and all but to extinguish the source of their proudest and most absolute prerogative.
“No kingly conqueror, since time began
The long career of ages, hath to man
From the discovery of the New World, the mercantile spirit has been rapidly gaining upon its old antagonist; and the establishment upon these shores of our own Republic, whose Union was the immediate result of commercial necessities, whose Independence found its original impulse in commercial oppressions, and of whose Constitution the regulation of commerce was the first leading idea, may be regarded as the epoch at which the martial spirit finally lost a supremacy which, it is believed and trusted, it can never again acquire.
Yes, Mr. President, it is Commerce which is fast exorcising the fell spirit of war from nations which it has so long been tearing and rending. The merchant may, indeed, almost be seen at this moment summoning the rulers of the earth to his counting desk, and putting them under bonds to keep the peace! Upon what do we ourselves rely, to counteract the influence of the close approximation of yonder flaming planet to our sphere? Let me rather say, (for it is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are to look for the causes which have brought the apprehensions of war once more home to our hearts,) upon what do we rely, to save us from the bloody arbitrement of questions of mere territory and boundary, into which our own arbitrary and ambitious views would plunge us ? To what do we look to prevent a protracted strife with Mexico, if not to arrest even the outbreak of hostilities, but to the unwillingness of the great commercial powers, that the trade of the West Indies and of the Gulf should be interrupted ? Why is it so confidently pronounced, that Great Britain will never go to war with the United States for Oregon? Why, but that trade has created such a Siamese ligament between the two countries, that every blow which England could inflict upon us, would be but as a blow of the right arm upon the left. Why, but that in the smoke-pipe of every steamer which brings her merchandise to our ports, we see a calumet of Peace, which her war-chiefs dare not extinguish, Commerce, has, indeed, almost realized ideas which the poet, in his wildest fancies, assumed as the very standard of impossibility: We may not "charm ache with air, or agony with words ;” but may we not “ fetter strong madness with a cotton thread?” Yes, that little fibre, which was not known as a product of the North American soil, when our old colonial union with Great Britain was dissolved, has already been spun
by the ocean-moved power-loom of international commerce, into a thread which may fetter forever the strong madness of
Yet let us not, — let us not experiment upon its tension too far. Neither the influences of Commerce, nor any other influences, have yet brought about the day, (if indeed such a day is ever to be enjoyed before the second coming of the Prince of Peace,) when we may regard all danger of war at an end, and when we may fearlessly sport with the firebrands which have heretofore kindled it, or throw down the firearms by which we have been accustomed to defend ourselves against it. Preparation, I will not say, for war, but against war, is still the dictate of common prudence. And while I would always contend first, for that preparation of an honest, equitable, inoffensive, and unaggressive policy towards all other nations, which would secure us, in every event, the triple armor of a just cause, I am not ready to abandon those other preparations for which our constitution and laws have made provision. Nor do I justify such preparations only on any narrow views of state necessity and worldly policy. I know no policy, as a statesman, which I may not pursue as a Christian. I can advocate no system before men, which I may not justify to my own conscience, or which I shrink from holding up in humble trust before my God.
This is not the time or the place, however, for discussing the policy or the principle of military defences. I have only alluded to the subject, lest, in paying a heartfelt tribute to the pacific influences of commerce, I might seem to sympathize with views which would call upon Congress, at their coming session, to disband our army and militia, and dismantle our fortifications and ships of war, while Mexico is still mustering her forces upon the Rio Grande; while England may be concentrating her Heets upon the Columbia; and while Cherokees, and Seminoles, and Camanches, burning with hereditary hatred, and smarting under immediate wrongs, are ready to pounce upon the powerless wherever they can find them.
I honor the advocates of peace wherever they may be found; and gladly would I hail the day, when their transcendent principles shall be consistent with the maintenance of those organized
societies which are so clearly of Divine original and sanction; the day, when
“All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail,
In the mean time, let us rejoice that the great interests of international commerce are effecting practically, what these sublime principies aim at theoretically. It is easy, I know, to deride these interests as sordid, selfish, dollar-and-cent influences, ema. nating from the pocket, instead of from the heart or the conscience. But an enlightened and regulated pursuit of real interests, is no unworthy policy, either on the part of individuals or nations, and a far-sighted selfishness is not only consistent with, but is often itself, the truest philanthropy. Commandments of not inferior authority to the Decalogue, teach us, that the love of our neighbor, a duty second only in obligation to the love of God, is to find its measure in that love of self, which has been implanted in our nature for no unwise or unwarrantable ends. Yet, Gentlemen, while I would vindicate the commercial spirit from the reproaches which are too often cast upon it, and hail its triumphant progress over the world as the harbinger of freedom, civilization, and peace, I would by no means intimate an opi. nion, that it is not itself susceptible of improvement, — that it does not itself demand regulation and restraint. The bigotry of the ancient Canonists regarded trade as inconsistent with Christianity, and the Council of Melfi, under Pope Urban the Second, decreed that it was impossible to exercise any traffic, or even to follow the profession of the law, with a safe conscience. God forbid, that while we scoff at the doctrine which would excommunicate commerce from the pale of Christianity, we should embrace the far more fatal doctrine, which should regard the principles of Christianity as having no place, and no authority in the pursuits of commerce! The commercial spirit has rendered noble service to mankind. Its influence in promoting domestic order, in stimulating individual industry, in establishing and developing the great principle of the division of labor; its appropriation of the surplus products of all mechanical and all agricultural industry for its cargoes; its demand upon the highest exercise of invention and skill for its vehicles; its appeal to the sublimest science for its guidance over the deep; its imperative requisition of the strictest public faith and private integrity; its indirect, but not less powerful operation in diffusing knowledge, civilization, and freedom over the world;- all conspire with that noble conquest over the spirit of war which I have described, in commending it to the gratitude of man, and in stamping it with the crown-mark of a divinely appointed instrument for good. As long as the existing state of humanity is unchanged, as long as man is bound to man by wants and weaknesses and mutual dependencies, the voice which would cast out this spirit, will come from the cloistered cells of superstition, and not from the temples of a true religion. But that it requires to be tempered, and chastened, and refined, and elevated, and purified, and Christianized, examples gross as earth and glaring as the sun, exhort us on every side.
Commerce diffuses knowledge; but there is a knowledge of evil as well as of good. Commerce spreads civilization; but civilization has its vices as well as its virtues. And is there not too much ground for the charge, that most of the trade with the savage tribes the world over, is carried on in a manner and by means calculated only to corrupt and degrade them, and even where it makes nominal proselytes to Christianity, to make them tenfold more the children of perdition than before? I look to the influence of associations like that before me, to aid in arresting this abuse, by elevating the views of those who are preparing to engage iņ mercantile business, above the mere pursuit of gain; and by impressing upon their hearts, while they are still open to impression, a deeper sense of responsibility for the conduct of civilized man, in those relations towards these ignorant and wretched beings which commercial intercourse creates. It cannot fail to have given joy to every benevolent bosom, to find the historian of the late Exploring Expedition, bearing such unqualified testimony to the character and services of the American Missionaries in the various savage islands which he visited; and it may be hoped, that the day is not far distant, when the