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for Manchester, that there is no call by the people for any change of the judicial system. Certainly there is no proof of such a call. The documentary history of the Convention utterly disproves it. But that topic is exhausted. I wished to add only, that my own observation, as far as it has gone, disproves it too.
I have lost a good many causes, first and last; and I hope to try, and expect to lose, a good many more; but I never heard a client in my life, however dissatisfied with the verdict, or the charge, say a word about changing the tenure of the judicial office. I greatly doubt, if I have heard as many as three express themselves dissatisfied with the judge; though times without number they have regretted that he found himself compelled to go against them. My own tenure I have often thought in danger — but I am yet to see the first client who expressed a thought of meddling with that of the Court. What is true of those clients, is true of the whole people of Massachusetts. Sir, that people have two traits of character — just as our political system in which that character is shown forth, has two great ends. They love liberty; that is one trait. They love it, and they possess it to their hearts' content. Free as storms to-day do they not know it, and feel it — every one of them, from the sea to the Green Mountains? But there is another side to their character, and that is the old Anglo-Saxon instinct of property; the rational, and the creditable desire to be secure in life, in reputation, in the earnings of daily labor, in the little all which makes up the treasures, and the dear charities of the humblest home; the desire to feel certain when they come to die that the last will shall be kept, the smallest legacy of affection shall reach its object, although the giver is in his grave; this desire, and the sound sense to know that a learned, impartial, and honored judiciary is the only means of having it indulged. They have nothing timorous in them, as touching the largest liberty. They rather like the exhilaration of crowding sail on the noble old ship, and giving her to scud away before a fourteen-knot breeze; but they know, too, that if the storm comes on to blow; and the masts go overboard; and the gun-deck is rolled under water; and the lee shore, edged with foam, thunders under her stern, that the sheet-anchor and best bower then are everything! Give them good ground-tackle, and they will carry her round the world, and back again, till there shall be no more sea.
SPEECH DELIVERED AT THE CONSTITUTIONAL
MEETING IN FANEUIL HALL.
NOVEMBER 26, 1850.
[“ The Citizens of Boston and its vicinity, who reverence the Constitution of the United States; who wish to discountenance a spirit of disobedience to the laws of the land, and refer all questions arising under those laws to the proper tribunals; who would regard with disfavor all further popular agitation of subjects which endanger the peace and harmony of the Union, and who deem the preservation of the Union the paramount duty of every citizen, are requested to meet and express their sentiments on the present posture of public affairs, in Faneuil Hall, Nov. 26, 1850, at 4 o'clock, P. M."
The above call having been published in the newspapers, and posted up in the “ Merchants' Reading Room ” for some days, received the signatures of about five thousand citizens of Massachusetts, and the meeting was convened agreeably to the request therein expressed.
At a few minutes before four o'clock, the Committee of Arrangements came in, and were received with loud cheers. At four o'clock, precisely, Thomas B. Curtis, Esq., mounted the rostrum, and nominated for President John C. Warren.
A series of resolutions having been read, the meeting was addressed by B. R. Curtis, B. F. Hallett, and S. D. Bradford; after which Mr. Choate spoke as follows:]
I feel it, fellow-citizens, to be quite needless, for any purpose of affecting your votes now, or your judgment and acts for the future, that I should add a word to the resolutions before
you, and to the very able addresses by which they have been explained and enforced. All that I would have said has been better said. In all that I would have suggested, this great assembly, so true and ample a representation of the sobriety, and principle, and business, and patriotism of this city and its
vicinity, — if I may judge from the manner in which
have responded to the sentiments of preceding speakers, - has far outrun me. In all that I had felt and reflected on the supreme importance of this deliberation, on the reality and urgency of the peril, on the indispensable necessity which exists, that an effort be made, and made at once, combining the best counsels, and the wisest and most decisive action of the community an effort to turn away men's thoughts from those things which concern this part or that part, to those which concern the whole of our America — to turn away men's solicitude about the small politics that shall give a State administration this year to one set, and the next year to another set, and fix it on the grander politics by which a nation is to be held togetherto turn away men's hearts from loving one brother of the national household, and hating and reviling another, to that larger, juster and wiser affection which folds the whole household to its bosom to turn away men's conscience and sense of moral obligation from the morbid and mad pursuit of a single duty, and indulgence of a single sentiment, to the practical ethics in which all duties are recognized, by which all duties are reconciled, and adjusted, and subordinated, according to their rank, by which the sacredness of compacts is holden to be as real as the virtue of compassion, and the supremacy of the law declared as absolute as the luxury of a tear is felt to be sweet — to turn away men's eyes from the glare of the lights of a philanthropy — they call it philanthropy
some of whose ends may be specious, but whose means are bad faith, abusive speech, ferocity of temper, and resistance to law; and whose fruit, if it ripens to fruit, will be woes unnumbered to bond and free, — to turn all eyes from the glitter of such light to the steady and unalterable glory of that wisdom, that justice, and that best philanthropy under which the States of America have been enabled and may still be enabled to live together in peace, and grow together into the nature of one people, — in all that I had felt and reflected on these things, you have outrun my warmest feelings and my best thoughts. What remains, then, but that I congratulate you on at least this auspicious indication, and take my leave ? One or two suggestions, however, you will pardon to the peculiarity of the times.
I concur then, first, Fellow-citizens, with one of the resolutions, in expressing my sincerest conviction that the Union is in extreme peril this day. Some good and wise men, I know, do not see this; and some not quite so good or wise, deny that they see it. I know very well that to sound a false alarm is a shallow and contemptible thing. But I know, also, that too much precaution is safer than too little, and I believe that less than the utmost is too little now. Better, it is said, to be ridiculed for too much care, than to be ruined by too confident a security. I have then a profound conviction, that the Union is yet in danger. It is true that it has passed through one peril within the last few months, - such a peril, that the future historian of America will pause with astonishment and terror when he comes to record it. The sobriety of the historic style will rise to eloquence, — to pious ejaculation, - to thanksgivings to Almighty God, -as he sketches that scene and the virtues that triumphed in it. “ Honor and praise,” will he exclaim, " to the eminent men of all parties — to Clay, to Cass, to Foote, to Dickinson, to Webster — who rose that day to the measure of a true greatness, who remembered that they had a country to preserve as well as a local constituency to gratify,
who laid all the wealth, and all the hopes of illustrious lives on the altar of a hazardous patriotism, - who reckoned all the sweets of a present popularity for nothing in comparison of that more exceeding weight of glory which follows him who seeks to compose an agitated and save a sinking land.”
That night is passed, and that peril; and yet it is still night, and there is peril still. And what do I mean by this? I believe, and rejoice to believe, that the general judgment of the people is yet sound on this transcendent subject. But I will tell you where I think the danger lies. It is, that while the people sleep, politicians and philanthropists of the legislative hall—the stump, and the press -- will talk and write us out of our Union. Yes — while you sleep, while the merchant is loading his ships, and the farmer is gathering his harvests, and the music of the hammer and shuttle wake around, and we are all steeped in the enjoyment of that vast and various good which a common government places within our reach— there are influences that never sleep, and which are creating and diffusing a PUBLIC OPINION, in whose hot and poisoned breath,
before we yet perceive our evil plight, this Union may melt as frost-work in the sun. Do we sufficiently appreciate how omnipotent is opinion in the matter of all government? Do we consider especially in how true a sense it is the creator, must be the upholder, and may be the destroyer of our united government? Do we often enough advert to the distinction, that while our State governments must exist almost of necessity, and with no effort from within or without, the UNION of the States is a totally different creation — more delicate, more artificial, more recent, far more truly a mere production of the reason and the will — standing in far more need of an ever-surrounding care, to preserve and repair it, and urge it along its highway? Do we reflect that while the people of Massachusetts, for example, are in all senses one — not E Pluribus Unum — but one single and uncompounded substance, so to speak — and while every influence that can possibly help to hold a social existence together — identity of interest; closeness of kindred; contiguity of place; old habit ; the ten thousand opportunities of daily intercourse; everything — is operating to hold such a State together, so that it must exist whether we will or not, and “ cannot, but by annihilating, die”—the people of America compose a totally different community - a community miscellaneous and widely scattered; that they are many States, not one State, or if one, made up of many which still coexist ; that numerous influences of vast energy, influences of situation, of political creeds, of employments, of supposed or real diversities of material interest, tend evermore to draw them asunder; and that is not, as in a single State, that instinct, custom, a long antiquity, closeness of kindred, immediate contiguity, the personal intercourse of daily life and the like, come in to make and consolidate the grand incorporation, whether we will or not; but that is to be accomplished by carefully cultivated and acquired habits and states of feeling; by an enlightened discernment of great interests, embracing a continent and a future age; by a voluntary determination to love, honor, and cherish, by mutual tolerance, by mutual indulgence of one another's peculiarities, by the most politic and careful withdrawal of our attention from the offensive particulars in which we differ, and by the most assiduous development and appreciation, and contemplation of those things wherein we are alike — do we reflect