Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

This is the man required by liberty. The want of the age is a European Washington!

And who shall supply that want but he who so vividly realizes it? Enthusiastic, eloquent, admirable Lamartine! Though the magic wires may even now be trembling with the tidings of his downfall, we will not yet quite despair of him. Go on in the high career to which you have been called! Fall in it, if it must be so; but fall not, falter not, from it! Imitate the character you have so nobly appreciated! Fulfil the pledges you have so gloriously given! Plead still against the banner of blood! Strive still against the reign of terror! Aim still

“By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
And make persuasion do the work of fear!"

May a gallant and generous people second you, and the Power which preserved Washington sustain you, until you have secured peace, order, freedom to your country!

“Si qua fata aspera rumpas, Tu Marcellus eris." *

But, fellow-citizens, while we thus commend the character and example of Washington to others, let us not forget to imitate it ourselves. I have spoken of the precise period which we have reached in our own history, as well as in that of the world at large, as giving something of peculiar interest to the proceedings in which we are engaged. I may not, I will not, disturb the harmony of the scene before me by the slightest allusion of a party character. The circumstances of the occasion forbid it; the associations of the day forbid it; the character of him in whose honor we are assembled forbids it; my own feelings revolt from it. But I may say, I must say, and every one within the sound of my voice will sustain me in saying, that there has been no moment since Washington himself was among us, when it was more important than at this moment, that the two great leading principles of his policy should be remembered and cherished.

.'

* These forebodings were but too soon fulfilled. The tidings of the downfall of Lamartine's administration were received a few days after this Address was delivered.

Those principles were, first, the most complete, cordial and indissoluble Union of the States; and, second, the most entire separation and disentanglement of our own country from all other countries. Perfect union among ourselves, perfect neutrality towards others, and peace, peace, — domestic peace and foreign peace, - as the result; this was the chosen and consummate policy of the Father of his country.

But above all, and before all, in the heart of Washington, was the Union of the States; and no opportunity was ever omitted by him, to impress upon his fellow-citizens the profound sense which he entertained, of its vital importance at once to their prosperity and their liberty.

In that incomparable Address in which he bade farewell to his countrymen at the close of his Presidential service, he touched upon many other topics with the earnestness of a sincere conviction. He called upon them in solemn terms to “ cherish public credit;" to " observe good faith and justice towards all nations,” avoiding both “inveterate antipathies, and passionate attachments" towards any; to mitigate and assuage the unquenchable fire of party spirit,“ lest, instead of warming, it should consume;" to abstain from “characterizing parties by geographical distinctions ;” “to promote institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge;" to respect and uphold “ religion and morality, those great pillars of human happiness, those firmest props of the duties of men and of citizens."

But what can exceed, what can equal, the accumulated intensity of thought and of expression with which he calls upon them to cling to the Union of the States. “ It is of infinite moment," says he, in language which we ought never to be weary of hearing or of repeating, “ that you should properly estimate the immense value of your National Union' to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can, in any event, be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts."

The Union, the Union in any event, was thus the sentiment of Washington. The Union, the Union in any event, let it be our sentiment this day !

Yes, to-day, fellow-citizens, at the very moment when the extension of our boundaries and the multiplication of our territories are producing, directly and indirectly, among the different members of our political system, so many marked and mourned centrifugal tendencies, let us seize this occasion to renew to each other our vows of allegiance and devotion to the American Union, and let us recognize in our common title to the name and the fame of Washington, and in our common veneration for his example and his advice, the all-sufficient centripetal power, which shall hold the thick clustering stars of our confederacy

in one glorious constellation forever! Let the column which we are about to construct, be at once a pledge and an emblem of perpetual union! Let the foundations be laid, let the superstructure be built up and cemented, let each stone be raised and riveted, in a spirit of national brotherhood! And may the earliest ray of the rising sun, — till that sun shall set to rise no more, - draw forth from it daily, as from the fabled statue of antiquity, a strain of national harmony, which shall strike a responsive chord in every heart throughout the Republic!

Proceed, then, fellow-citizens, with the work for which you have assembled! Lay the corner-stone of a monument which shall adequately bespeak the gratitude of the whole American people to the illustrious Father of his country! Build it to the skies; you cannot outreach the loftiness of his principles ! Found it upon the massive and eternal rock; you cannot make it more enduring than his fame! Construct it of the peerless Parian marble; you cannot make it purer than his life! Exhaust upon it the rules and principles of ancient and of modern art; you cannot make it more proportionate than his character !

But let not your homage to his memory end here. Think not to transfer to a tablet or a column, the tribute which is due from yourselves. Just honor to Washington can only be rendered by

observing his precepts and imitating his example. Similitudine decoremus. He has built his own monument. We, and those who come after us in successive generations, are its appointed, its privileged guardians. This wide-spread Republic is the true monument to Washington. Maintain its Independence. Uphold its Constitution. Preserve its Union. Defend its Liberty. Let it stand before the world in all its original strength and beauty, securing peace, order, equality, and freedom to all within its boundaries, and shedding light, and hope, and joy, upon the pathway of human liberty throughout the world, and Washington needs no other monument. Other structures may fitly testify our veneration for him ; this, this alone, can adequately illustrate his services to mankind.

Nor does he need even this. The Republic may perish; the wide arch of our ranged Union may fall; star by star its glories may expire; stone after stone its columns and its capitol may moulder and crumble; all other names which adorn its annals may be forgotten; but as long as human hearts shall anywhere pant, or human tongues shall anywhere plead, for a true, rational, constitutional liberty, those hearts shall enshrine the memory, and those tongues shall prolong the fame, of GEORGE WASHINGTON!

* We may well add, with Tacitus, Si natura suppeditet.

8*

THE

LIFE AND SERVICES OF JAMES BOWDOIN.

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, AT

BOWDOIN COLLEGE, ON THE AFTERNOON OF THE ANNUAL COMMENCE

MENT, SEPTEMBER 5, 1849.

Mr. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY,

I AM here, as you are aware, and as I trust this crowded and brilliant assembly is aware, for no purpose of literary discussion, philosophical speculation, or oratorical display. The character of the occasion would alone have pointed me to a widely different line of remark, and would, indeed, have imperatively claimed of me some more substantial contribution to the objects for which you are associated. But your committee of invitation have kindly relieved me from the responsibility of selecting a topic from the wide field of American history, and have afforded me a most agreeable and welcome opportunity of fulfilling a longcherished intention. They have called upon me, as one likely to have more than ordinary materials for such a work, as well as likely to take a more than ordinary interest in its performance, to give some ampler account than has ever yet been supplied, of a Family, which, while it may fairly claim a place in the history of the nation, as having furnished one of the most distinguished of our revolutionary statesmen and patriots, has been more directly identified, both by its earliest adventures and by its latest acts, with the history of Maine; — of Maine, both as it once was,--an honored and cherished part of the good old Commonwealth of Massachusetts, -and as it now is, ---a proud, prosperous, and independent State.

« AnteriorContinuar »