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Rubicon, and the patriotic arm even of Brutus could not preserve the liberties of his devoted country! The celebrated Madame de Staël, in her last and perhaps her best work, has said, that in the very year, almost the very month, when the president of the directory declared that monarchy would never show its frightful head in France, Bonaparte with his grenadiers entered the palace of St. Cloud, and, dispersing with the bayonet the deputies of the people, deliberating on the affairs of the state, laid the foundation of that vast fabric of despotism which overshadowed all Europe.
3. I hope not to be misunderstood; I am far from intimating that General Jackson cherishes any designs inimical to the liberties of the country. I believe his intentions to be pure and patriotic. I thank God that he would not, but I thank Him still more that he could not if he would, overturn the liberties of the Republic. But precedents, if bad, are fraught with the most dangerous consequences. Man has been described, by some of those who have treated of his nature, as a bundle of habits. The definition is much truer when applied to governments. Precedents are their habits. There is one important difference between the formation of habits by an individual and by governments. He contracts it only after frequent repetition. A single instance fixes the habit and determines the direction of governments.
4. Against the alarming doctrine of unlimited discretion in our military commanders, when applied even to prisoners of war, I must enter my protest. It begins upon them; it will end on us. I hope our happy form of government is to be perpetual. But if it is to be preserved, it must be by the practice of virtue, by justice, by moderation, by magnanimity, by greatness of soul, by keeping a watchful and steady eye on the executive; and, above all, by holding to a strict accountability the military branch of the public force.
5. We are fighting a great moral battle, for the benefit not only of our country, but of all mankind. The eyes of the whole world are in fixed attention upon us. One, and the largest portion of it, is gazing with contempt, with jealousy, and with envy; the other portion, with hope, with confidence, and with affection. Everywhere the black cloud of legitimacy is suspended over the world, save only one bright spot, which breaks out from the political hemisphere of the west, to enlighten and animate and gladden the human heart. Obscure that, by the downfall of liberty here, and all mankind are enshrouded in a pall of universal darkness.
6. To you, Mr. Chairman, belongs the high privilege of transmitting unimpaired to posterity, the fair character and liberty of our country. Do you expect to execute this high trust, by trampling or suffering to be trampled down, law, justice, the constitution, and the rights of the people? by exhibiting examples of inhumanity and cruelty and ambition? When the minions of despotism heard, in Europe, of the seizure of Pensacola, how did they chuckle, and chide the admirers of our institutions, tauntingiy pointing to the demonstration of a spirit of injustice and aggrandizement made by our country, in the midst of an amicable negotiation! Behold, said they, the conduct of those who are constantly reproaching kings! You saw how those admirers were astounded and hung their heads. You saw, too, when that illustrious man who presides over us, adopted his pacific, moderate, and just course, how they once more lifted up their heads, with exultation and delight beaming in their countenances. And you saw how those minions themselves were finally compelled to unite in the general praises bestowed upon our government. Beware how you forfeit this exalted character. Beware how you give a fatal sanction, in this infant period of our republic, scarcely yet two-score years old, to military insubordination. Remember that Greece had her Alexander, Rome her Cæsar, England her Cromwell, France her Bonaparte, and that, if we would escape the rock on which they split, we must avoid their errors.
7. I hope gentlemen will deliberately survey the awful isthmus on which we stand. They may bear down all opposition; they may even vote the General the public thanks; they may carry him triumphantly through this House. But, if they do, in my humble judgment, it will be a triumph of the principle of insubordination, a triumph of the military over the civil authority, a triumph over the powers of this House, a triumph over the constitution of the land; and I pray most devoutly to Heaven, that it may not prove, in its ultimate effects and consequences, a triumph over the liberties of the people.
XXXI.— GOD'S JUDGMENT ON A WICKED
2. Every day the starving poor
3. At last, Bishop Hatto appointed a day
4. Rejoiced such tidings good to hear,
5. Then, when he saw it could hold no more,
6. “ ['faith, 'tis an excellent bonfire !” quoth he, “And the country is greatly obliged to me, For ridding it, in these times forlorn, Of rats that only consume the corn.”
7. So then to his palace returned he,
8. In the morning, as he entered the hall,
9. As he looked, there came a man from his farm; He had a countenance white with alarm; “My lord, I opened your granaries this morn, And the rats had eaten all your corn.”
10. Another came running presently, And he was pale as pale could be,“Fly! my Lord Bishop, fly!” quoth he, “ Ten thousand rats are coming this way,– The Lord forgive you for yesterday.”
11. “I'll go to my tower on the Rhine,” replied he, 6. 'Tis the safest place in Germany; The walls are high and the shores are steep, And the stream is strong and the waters deep.”
12. Bishop Hatto fearfully hasten’d away,
13. He laid him down and closed his eyes,–
14. He listened and looked; it was only the cat;
15. For they have swam over the river so deep,
16. They are not to be told by the dozen or score; By thousands they come, and by myriads and more. Such numbers had never been heard of before; Such a judgment had never been witnessed of yore.