Page images
PDF
EPUB

sanctuaries of God shall be made desolate. Where now a whole people congregate in thanksgiving for the benefactions of time, and in humble supplication for the

mercies of eternity, there those very houses shall then be 5 left without a tenant. The owl, at noon-day, may roost

on the high altar of devotion, and the “fox look out at the window," on the utter solitude of a New England Sabbath.

New England shall, indeed, under this proscribing 10 policy, be what Switzerland was, under that of France.

New England, which, like Switzerland, is the eagle-nest of freedom; New England, where, as in Switzerland, the cradle of infant liberty "was rocked by whirlwinds, in their

rage;" New England shall, as Switzerland was, in truth, 15 be “the immolated victim, where nothing but the skin

remains unconsumed by the sacrifice ;" New England, as Switzerland had, shall have "nothing left but her rocks, her ruins, and her demagogues.”

The mind, sir, capable of conceiving a project of mis 20 chief so gigantic, must have been early schooled, and

deeply imbued with all the great principles of moral evil.

What, then, sir, shall we say of a spirit, regarding this event as a "consummation devoutly to be wished ?"-a 25 spirit, without one attribute, or one hope, of the pure in

heart; a spirit, which begins and ends every thing, not with prayer, but with imprecation ; a spirit, which blots from the great canon of petition, “Give us this day our daily bread;" that, foregoing bodily

, nutriment, he may 30 attain to a higher relish for that unmingled food, prepared

and served up to a soul "hungering and thirsting after wickedness ;" a spirit, which, at every rising sun, exclaims, "Hodie ! hodie ! Carthago delenda !” “To-day, to-day ! let New England be destroyed !"

LESSON CCVIII.-PARTY SPIRIT.-WILLIAM GASTON. Threats of resistance, secession, separation-have become common as household words, in the wicked and silly violence of public declaimers. The public ear is

familiarized, and the public mind will soon be accustomed, 5 to the detestable suggestions of DISUNION! Calculations

and conjectures, What may the East do without the South,

and what may the South do without the East - sneers, menaces, reproaches, and recriminations, all tend to the same fatal end! What can the East do without the

South? What can the South do without the East ? 5 If it must be so, let parties and party men continue to

quarrel with little or no regard to the public good. They may mystify themselves and others with disputations on political economy, proving the most opposite doctrines to

their own satisfaction, and perhaps, to the conviction of no 10 one else on earth. They may deserve reprobation for

their selfishness, their violence, their errors, or their wickedness. They may do our country much harm. They may retard its growth, destroy its harmony, impair

its character, render its institutions unstable, pervert 15 the public mind, and deprave the public morals. These

are, indeed, evils, and sore evils, but the principle of life remains, and will yet struggle with assured success, over these temporary maladies.

Still we are great, glorious, united, and free; still we 20 have a name that is revered abroad, and loved at home,

a name, which is a tower of strength to us against foreign wrong, and a bond of internal union and harmony,ma name, which no enemy pronounces but with respect, and

which no citizen hears, but with a throb of exultation. 25 Still we have that blessed Constitution, which, with all its

pretended defects, and all its alleged violations, has conferred more benefit on man, than ever yet flowed from any other human institution,—which has established justice,

insured domestic tranquillity, provided for the common 30 defence, promoted the general welfare, and which, under

God, if we be true to ourselves, will insure the blessings of Liberty to us and our posterity.

Surely, such a country, and such a Constitution, have claims upon you, my friends, which cannot be disre35 garded. I entreat and adjure you, then, by all that is

near and dear to you on earth, by all the obligations of patriotism, by the memory of your fathers, who

fell in the great and glorious struggle, for the sake of your sons,

whom you would not have to blush for your degeneracy; 40 by all your proud recollections of the past, and all the

fond anticipations of the future renown of our nation, preserve that Country,-uphold that Constitution. Resolve, that they shall not be lost, while in your keeping; and may God Almighty strengthen you to perform that vow!

LESSON CCIX.-RESTLESS SPIRIT OF MAN.WILBUR FISK.

There is a spirit, an active, aspiring principle in man, which cannot be broken down by oppression, or satisfied by indulgence.

“ He has a soul of vast desires, 5

It burns within with restless fires :" Desires, which no earthly good can satisfy ; fires, which no waters of affliction or discouragement can quench. And it is from this, his nature, that society derives all its

interests, and here also lies all its danger. This spirit is 10 at once the terror of tyrants, and the destroyer of republics.

To form some idea of its strength, let us look at it in its different conditions, both when it is depressed, and

when it is exalted. See, when it is bent down, for a time, 15 by the iron grasp and leaden sceptre of tyranny, cramping,

and curtailing, and hedging in the soul, and foiling it in all its attempts to break from its bonds and assert its native independence. In these cases, the noble spirit,

like a wild beast in the toils, sinks down, at times, into 20 sullen inactivity, only that it may rise again, when

exhausted nature is a little restored, to rush, as hope excites, or madness impels, in stronger paroxysms against the cords which bind it down.

This is seen in the mobs and rebellions of the most 25 besotted and enslaved nations. Witness the repeated con

vulsions in Ireland, that degraded and oppressed country. Neither desolating armies, nor numerous garrisons, nor the most rigorous administration, enforced by thousands of public executions, can break the spirit of that restless

Witness Greece: generations have passed away, since the warriors of Greece have had their feet put in fetters, and the race of heroes had apparently become extinct ;

and the Grecian lyre had long been unstrung, and her 35 lights put out. Her haughty masters thought her spirit

was dead; but it was not dead, it only sl pt. In a moment, as it were, we saw all Greece in arms; she shook off her slumbers, and rushed, with frenzy and hope, upon

seeming impossibilities, to conquer or to die. 40 We see, then, that man has a spirit, which is not easily

broken down by oppression. Let us inquire, whether it can be more easily satisfied by indulgence. And, in every

30 people.

step of this inquiry, we shall find that no miser ever yet had gold enough; no office-seeker ever yet had honor enough; no conqueror ever yet subdued kingdoms enough.

When the rich inan had filled his store-houses, he must 5 pull down and build larger. When Cæsar had conquered all his enemies, he must enslave his friends.

When Bonaparte had become the Emperor of France, he aspired to the throne of all Europe. Facts, a thousand

facts, in every age, and among all classes, prove, that such 10 is the ambitious nature of the soul, such the increasing

compass of its vast desires, that the material universe, with all its vastness, richness, and variety, cannot satisfy it. Nor is it in the power of the governments of this

world, in their most perfect forins, so to interest the feel15 ings, so to regulate the desires, so to restrain the passions,

or so to divert, or charm, or chain the souls of a whole community, but that these latent and ungovernable fires will, sooner or later, burst out and endanger the whole

body politic. 20 What has been the fate of the ancient republics? They

have been dissolved by this same restless and disorganize ing spirit, of which we have been speaking. And do we not see the same dangerous spirit, in our own compara

tively happy and strongly constituted republic ? 25 Here, the road to honor and wealth is open to all; and

here, is general intelligence. But here, man is found to possess the same nature as elsewhere.

And the stirrings of his restless spirit have already disturbed the peace of

society, and portend future convulsions. Party spirit is 30 begotten; ambitious views are engendered, and fed, and

inflamed; many are running the race for office; rivals are envied; characters are aspersed ; animosities are enkindled ; and the whole community are disturbed by the

electioneering contest. 35 Already office-seekers, in different parts of the country,

unblushingly recommend themselves to notice, and palm themselves upon the people, by every electioneering manæuvre; and in this way, such an excitement is pro

duced, in many parts of the Union, as makes the contend40 ing parties almost like mobs, assailing each other. Only

let the public sense become vitiated, and let a number of causes unite to produce a general excitement; and all our fair political proportions would fall before the spirit of

party, as certainly and as ruinously, as the fair proportions of Italian architecture fell before the ancient Goths and Vandals.

LESSON CCX.-RECTITUDE OF CHARACTER.-WILLIAM WIRT.

The man who is so conscious of the rectitude of his intentions, as to be willing to open his bosom to the inspection of the world, is in possession of one of the

strongest pillars of a decided character. The course of 5 such a man will be firm and steady, because he has

nothing to fear from the world, and is sure of the approbation and support of Heaven. While he, who is conscious of secret and dark designs, which, known, would

blast him, is perpetually shrinking and dodging from pub10 lic observation, and is afraid of all around, and much more of all above him.

Such a man may, indeed, pursue his iniquitous plans steadily; he may waste himself to a skeleton in the guilty

pursuit ; but it is impossible that he can pursue them with 15 the same health-inspiring confidence, and exulting alacrity,

with him who feels, at every step, that he is in pursuit of honest ends, by honest means.

The clear, unclouded brow, the open countenance, the brilliant eye which can look an honest man steadfastly, 20 yet courteously, in the face, the healthfully beating heart,

and the firm, elastic step, belong to him whose bosorn is free from guile, and who knows that all his motives and purposes are pure and right. Why should such a man

falter in his course ? He may be slandered; he may be 25 deserted by the world; but he has that within which will

keep him erect, and enable him to move onward in his course, with his eyes fixed on Heaven, which he knows will not desert him.

Let your first step, then, in that discipline which is to 30 give you decision of character, be the heroic determination

to be honest men, and to preserve this character through every vicissitude of fortune, and in every relation which connects you with society. I do not use this phrase,

“honest men,” in the narrow sense, merely, of meeting 35 your pecuniary engagements, and paying your debts; for

this the common pride of gentlemen will constrain you to
do.
I use it in its larger sense of discharging all your

« PreviousContinue »