Imágenes de páginas

colonization of America was going on the most rapidly, the best citizens of England, (if it be any part of good citizenship to resist oppression,) were immured in her prisons of state, or lying at the mercy of the law.

Such were the convicts by which America was settled. Men convicted of fearing God more than they feared man; of sacrificing property, ease, and all the comforts of life, to a sense of duty, and the dictates of conscience:―men convicted of pure lives, brave hearts, and simple manners. The enterprise was led by Raleigh, the chivalrous convict, who unfortunately believed that his royal master had the heart of a man, and would not let a sentence of death, which had slumbered for sixteen years, revive and take effect, after so long an interval of employment and favour. But nullum tempus occurrit regi.

[ocr errors]

The felons who followed next, were the heroic and long suffering church of Robinson, at Leyden,-Carver, Brewster, Bradford, and their pious associates, convicted of worshipping God according to the dictates of their consciences, and of giving up all,-country, property, and the tombs of their fathers, that they might do so unmolested. Not content with having driven the Puritans from her soil, England next enacted, or put in force, the oppressive laws, which colonized Maryland with Catholics, and Pennsylvania with Quakers. Nor was it long before the American plantations were recruited by the Germans, convicted of inhabting the Palatinate, when the merciless armies of Louis XIV. were turned into that devoted region; and by the Huguenots, convicted of holding what they deemed the simple truth of Christianity, when it pleased the mistress of Louis XIV. to be very zealous for the Catholic faith. These were followed, in the next age, by the Highlanders, convicted of loyalty to their hereditary prince, on the plains of Culloden; and the Irish, convicted of supporting the rights of their country, against an oppressive external power. Such are the convicts by whom America was settled.



IN the unceasing march of things, which calls forward the successive generations of men to perform their part on the stage of life, we at length are summoned to appear. Our fathers have passed their hour of visitation;-how worthily, let the growth and prosperity of our happy land, and the security of our firesides, attest. Or, if this appeal be too weak to move us, let the eloquent silence of yonder venerated heights,-let the column, which is there rising in simple majesty, recall their venerated forms, as they toiled, in the hasty trenches, through the dreary watches of that night of expectation, heaving up the sods, where they lay in peace and in honour, ere the following sun had


The turn has come to us. The trial of adversity was theirs: the trial of prosperity is ours. Let us meet it as men who know their duty, and prize their blessings. Our position is the most enviable, the most responsible, which men can fill. If this generation does its duty, the cause of constitutional freedom is safe. If we fail,-if we fail— not only do we defraud our children of the inheritance which we received from our fathers, but we blast the hopes of the friends of liberty throughout our continent, throughout Europe, throughout the world, to the end of time.

History is not without her examples of hard-fought fields, where the banner of liberty has floated triumphantly on the wildest storm of battle. She is without her examples of a people, by whom the dear-bought treasure has been wisely employed and safely handed down. The eyes of the world are turned for that example to us. It is related by an ancient historian, of that Brutus who slew Cæsar, that he threw himself on his sword, after the disastrous battle of Philippi, with the bitter exclamation, that he had followed virtue as a substance, but found it a name. It is not too much to say, that there are at this moment, noble spirits in the elder world, who are anxiously watching the march of our institutions, to learn whether liberty, as they have been told, is a mockery, a pretence, and a curse, or a blessing. for which it becomes them to brave the rack, the scaffold, and the scimitar.

Let us then, as we assemble, on the birthday of the nation, as we gather upon the green turf once wet with precious blood, let us devote ourselves to the sacred cause of constitutional liberty. Let us abjure the interests and passions, which divide the great family of American freemen. Let the rage of party spirit sleep to-day. Let us resolve that our children shall have cause to bless the memory of their fathers, as we have cause to bless the memory of ours.


Go to war with Rome! you might as well go to war with the ocean, for her power is as wide; you might as well fight the storm, for her vengeance is as rapid; you might as well call up the armies of Judea against the pestilence, for her sword is as sweeping, as sudden, and as sure.

Who but madmen would go to war without allies? and where are yours to be looked for? Rome is the mistress of all nations. Would you make a war of fortresses? Rome has in her possession all your walled towns. Every tower from Dan to Beersheba has a Roman banner on its battlements. Would you meet her in the plain? Where are your horsemen? The Roman cavalry would be upon you before you could draw your swords; and would trample your boldest into the sand. Would you make the campaign in the mountains? Where are your magazines?

The Roman generals would disdain to waste a drop of blood upon you; they would only have to block up the passes, and leave famine to do the rest. Harvest is not come; and if it were, you dare not descend to the plains to gather it. You are told to rely upon the strength of the country. Have the fiery sands of the desert, or the marshes of Germany, or the snows of Scythia, or the stormy waters of Britain, defended them?

Does Egypt, within your sight, give you no example? A land of inexhaustible fertility, crowded with seven millions and a half of men passionately devoted to their country, opulent, brave, and sustained by the countless millions of Africa, with a country defended on both flanks by the wilderness, in the rear inaccessible to the Roman, expos

ing the narrowest and most defencible front of any nation on earth: yet Egypt, in spite of the Lybian valour, and the Greek genius, is garrisoned at this hour by a single Roman legion! The Roman bird, grasping the thunder in its talons, and touching with one wing the sunrise, and with the other the sunset, throws its shadow over the world. Shall we call it to stoop upon us? Must we spread for it the new banquet of the blood of Israel?


WHAT! must we first mingle in the cabals of Jerusalem, and rouse the frigid debaters and disputers of the Sanhedrim into action? Are we first to conciliate the irreconcilable, to soften the furious, to purify the corrupt? If the Romans are to be our tyrants till we can teach patriotism to faction, we may as well build the dungeon at once, for, to the dungeon we are consigned for the longest life among us.

Death or glory for me. There is no alternative between, not merely the half-slavery that we now live in, and independence, but between the most condign suffering, and the most illustrious security. If the people would rise, through the pressure of public injury, they must have risen long since; if from private violence, what town, what district, what family, has not its claims of deadly retribution! Yet here the people stand, after a hundred years of those continued stimulants to resistance, as unresisting, as in the day when Pompey marched over the threshold of the Temple.

I know your generous friendship, Eleazar, and fear that your anxiety to save me from the chances of the struggle, may bias your better judgment. But here I pledge myself, by all that constitutes the honour of man, to strike, at all risks, a blow upon the Roman crest, that shall echo through the land.

What! commit our holy cause into the nursing of those pampered hypocrites, whose utter baseness of heart you know still more deeply than I do? Linger, till those pestilent profligates raise their price with Florus, by betraying

a design, that will be the glory of every man who draws a sword in it? Vainly, madly, ask a brood that, like the serpent, engender and fatten among the ruins of their country, to discard their venom, to cast their fangs, to feel for human feelings? As well ask the serpent itself to rise from the original curse.

It is the irrevocable nature of faction to be base till it can be mischievous; to lick the dust until it can sting; to creep on its belly until it can twist its folds round the victim. No! let the old pensionaries, the bloated hangers-on in the train of every governor, the open sellers of their country for filthy lucre, betray me when I leave it in their power. To the field, I say; once and for all, to the field.


[blocks in formation]

THAT I may obey your commands, Reverend Sir, I will not again offer myself to this person's presence; for shame it were to me, to break the peace of the Halidome-but not less shame, to leave my brother's death unavenged. Fear nothing, my Reverend Father, (for so in a hundred senses may I term you,) fear not, that I will in anything diminish the respect which I owe to the venerable community, by whom we have so long been protected; far less, that I will do aught, which can be personally less than respectful to you. But, the blood of my brother must not cry for vengeance in vain.-Your Reverence knows our Border creed.

Father (father to me you have been in every sense,) you know that my hand grasped more readily to the book than to the sword; and, that I lacked utterly the ready and bold spirit which distinguished-I would say, that I was unequal to Halbert in promptitude of heart and of hand:— but Halbert is gone, and I stand his representative, and that of my father-his successor in all his rights, and bound to assert and maintain them, as he would have done therefore I am a changed man, increased in courage, as in my rights and pretensions.

« AnteriorContinuar »