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and establish; and, great and happy as he should then behold his country, there should be nothing in prospect to cloud the scene, nothing to check the ardour of that confident and patriotic hope which should glow in his bosoni to the end of his longprotracted and happy life.
APPEAL AGAINST THE SLAVE-TRADE.
Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits. Living under the heavenly light of revelation, they hoped to find all the social dispositions, all the duties which men owe to each other and to society, enforced and performed. Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. Our fathers came here to enjoy their religion free and unmolested ; and, at the end of two centuries, there is nothing upon which we can pronounce more confidently, nothing of which we can express a more deep and earnest conviction, than of the inestimable importance of that religion to man, both in regard to this life and that which is to come.
If the blessings of our political and social condition have not been too highly estimated, we cannot well overrate the responsibility and duty which they impose upon us. We hold these institutions of government, religion, and learning, to be transmitted, as well as enjoyed. We are in the line of conveyance, through which whatever has been obtained by the spirit and efforts of our ancestors is to be communicated to our children.
We are bound to maintain public liberty, and, by the example of our own system, to convince the world that order and law, religion and morality, the rights of conscience, the rights of persons, and the rights of property, may all be preserved and secured, in the most perfect manner, by a government entirely and purely elective. If we fail in this, our disaster will be signal, and will furnish an argument, stronger than has yet been found, in support of those opinions which maintain that government can rest safely on nothing but power and coercioni. As far as experience may show errors in our establishments, we are bound to correct them; and, if any practices exist, contrary to the principles of justice and humanity, within the reach of our laws or our influence, we are inexcusable if we do not exert ourselves to restrain and abolish them.
I deem it my duty on this occasion to suggest, that the land is not yet wholly free from the contamination of a traffic at which every feeling of humanity must for ever revolt, -I mean the African slave-trade. Neither public sentiment nor the law has hitherto been able entirely to put an end to this odious and abominable trade. At the moment when God in His mercy has blessed the Christian world with a universal peace, there is reason to fear that, to the disgrace of the Christian name and character, new efforts are making for the extension of this trade by subjects and citizens of Christian States, in whose hearts there dwell no sentiments of humanity or of justice, and over whom neither the fear of God nor the fear of man exercises a control. In the sight of our law, the African slave-trader is a pirate and a felon; and in the sight of Heaven, an offender far beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt. There is no brighter part of our history than that which records the measures which have been adopted by the government at an early day, and at different times since, for the suppression of this traffic; and I would call on all the true sons of New England to coöperate with the laws of man and the justice of Heaven. If there be, within the extent of our knowledge or influence, any participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here, upon the rock of Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it. It is not fit that the land of the Pilgrims should bear the shame longer. I hear the sound of the hammer, I see the smoke of the furnaces where manacles and fetters are still forged for human limbs. I see the visages of those who by stealth and at midnight labour in this work of Hell, foul and dark, as may become the artificers of such instruments of misery and torture. Let that spot be purified, or let it cease to be of New England. Let it be purified, or let it be set aside from the Christian world ; let it be put out of the cir. cle of human sympathies and human regards, and let civilized man henceforth have no communion with it.
I would invoke those who fill the seats of justice, and all who minister at her altar, that they execute the wholesome and necessary severity of the law. I invoke the ministers of our religion, that they proclaim its denunciation of these crimes, and add its solemn sanctions to the authority of human laws. If the pulpit be silent whenever or wherever there may be a sinner bloody with this guilt within the hearing of its voice, the pulpit is false to its trust. I call on the fair merchant, who has reaped his harvest upon the seas, that he assist in scourging from those seas the worst pirates that ever infested them. That ocean, which seems to wave with a gentle magnificence to waft the burden of an honest commerce, and to roll along its treasures with a conscious pride,- that ocean, which hardy industry regards, even when the winds have ruffled its surface, as a field of grateful toil, - what is it to the victim of this oppression, when he is brought to its shores, and looks forth upon it, for the first time, loaded with chains and bleeding with stripes ? What is it to him but a wide-spread prospect of suffering, anguish, and death? Nor do the skies smile longer, nor is the air longer fragrant to him. The Sun is cast down from heaven. An inhuman and accursed traffic has cut him off in his manhood, or in his youth, from every enjoyment belonging to his being, and every blessing which his Creator intended for him.
The Christian communities send forth their emissaries of religion and letters, who stop, here and there, along the coast of the vast continent of Africa, and with painful and tedious efforts make some almost imperceptible progress in the communication of knowledge, and in the general improvement of the natives who are immediately about them. Not thus slow and imperceptible is the transmission of the vices and bad passions which the subjects of Christian States carry to the land. The slavetrade having touched the coast, its influence and its evils spread, like a pestilence, over the whole continent, making savage wars more savage and more frequent, and adding new and fierce passions to the contests of barbarians.
I pursue this topic no further, except again to say that all Christendom, being now blessed with peace, is bound by every thing which belongs to its character, and to the character of the present age, to put a stop to this inhuman and disgraceful traffic. 1)
BUNKER-HILL MONUMENT BEGUN.1
This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing with sympathy and joy, and, from the impulses of a common gratitude, turned reverently to Heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament, proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling have made a deep impression on our hearts.
10 This is, to me, the noblest passage of the Plymouth discourse. Mr. George Ticknor, who was present at the delivery, tells us, “The passage about the slave. trade was delivered with a power of indignation such as I never witnessed on any other occasion.” I must add, from the same hand, a description of Webster's appearance at a social gathering immediately after the discourse : “He was full of animation and radiant with happiness. But there was something about him very grand and imposing at the same time. In a letter, which I wrote the same day, I said that he seemed as if he were like the mount that might not be touched, and that burned with fire. I have the same recollection of him still.” The Reminiscences, from which this is taken, were written many years after the event. I find them quoted largely in Mr. George T. Curtis's very inter esting and instructive Life of Daniel Webster.
1 The corner-stone of Bunker Hill Monument was laid on the 17th of June, 1825, just fifty years after the battle of Bunker Hill, An Association had been formed some years before, for the purpose of rearing the monument, and Webster was at that time President of the Association. The occasion was one of high interest, and drew a vast throng of people together from various parts of the country. The discourse pronounced by Webster on that occasion was received with unbounded enthusiasm, and is certainly among his noblest strains of eloquence. I here give the opening portion of it. I had it in mind to give, also, the passage specially addressed to the band of Revolutionary Veterans who formed the crowning feature of the assemblage; but that well-known passage runs in a vein so lofty and so bold, that perhaps nothing less than Webster's own grand delivery could bring it fairly off, or carry the feelings smoothly through the course of it.
If, indeed, there be any thing in local association fit to affect the mind of man, we need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate us here. We are among the sepulchres of our fathers. We are on ground distinguished by their valour, their constancy, and the shedding of their blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th of June, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent history would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are Americans. We live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to suffer and enjoy the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probable train of great events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contemplation of occurrences which have guided our destiny before many of us were born, and settled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our existence which God allows to men on Earth.
We do not read even of the discovery of this continent without feeling something of a personal interest in the event; without being reminded how much it has affected our own fortunes and our own existence. It would be still more unnatural for us, therefore, than for others, to contemplate with unaffected minds that interesting, I may say that most touching and pathetic scene, when the great Discoverer of America stood on the deck of his shattered bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet no man sleeping; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair tossing his own troubled thoughts ; extending forward his harassed frame, straining westward his anxious and eager eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a moment of rapture and ecstasy, in blessing his vision with the sight of the unknown world.
Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our fates, and therefore still more interesting to our feelings and affections, is the settlement of our own country by colonists from England. We cherish every memorial of these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience and fortitude; we admire their daring enterprise ; we teach our children to venerate their piety; and we are justly proud of being descended from men who have set the world an example of founding civil institutions on the great and united principles of human freedom and human knowledge. To us, their children, the story of their labours and sufferings can never be without its interest. We shall not stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren in another early and ancient Colony forget the place of its first establishment, till their river shall cease to flow by it. No vigour of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the nation to forget the spots where its infancy was cradled and defended.
But the great event in the history of the continent, which we are now met here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at once the wonder and the blessing of the world, is the American Revolution. In a day of extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national honour, distinction, and power, we are brought together, in this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our gratitude for signal services and patriotic devotion.
The Society whose organ I am was formed for the purpose of rearing some honourable and durable monument to the memory of the early friends of American Independence. They have thought that for this object no time could be more propitious than the present prosperous and peaceful period ; that no place could claim preference over this memorable spot; and that no day could be more auspicious to the undertaking than the anni. versary of the battle which was here fought. The foundation : of that monument we have now laid. With solemnities suited to the occasion, with prayers to Almighty God for His blessing, and in the midst of this cloud of witnesses, we have begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted, and that, springing from a broad foundation, rising high in massive solidity and unadorned grandeur, it may remain as long as Heaven permits the works of man to last, a fit emblem both of the events in memory of which it is raised and of the gratitude of those who have reared it.
We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is