« AnteriorContinuar »
cant of criticism, in all ages, to make a distinction between logic and eloquence, and to stigmatize the latter as declamation. Logic ascertains the weight of an argument, Eloquence gives it momentum. The difference is that between the vis inertia of a mass of metal, and the same ball hurled from the cannon's mouth. Eloquence is an argument alive and in motion, the statue of Pygmalion inspired with vitality.
13. SENDING RELIEF TO IRELAND, 1847.-S. S. Prentiss.
WE have assembled, not to respond to shouts of triumph from the West, but to answer the cry of want and suffering which comes from the East. The Old World stretches out her arms to the New. The starving parent supplicates the young and vigorous child for bread. There lies, upon the other side of the wide Atlantic, a beautiful island, famous in story and in song. Its area is not so great as that of the State of Louisiana, while its population is almost half that of the Union. It has given to the world more than its share of genius and of greatness. It has been prolific in statesmen, warriors, and poets. Its brave and generous sons have fought successfully all battles but their own. In wit and humor it has no equal, while its harp, like its history, moves to tears, by its sweet but melancholy pathos. Into this fair region God has seen fit to send the most terrible of all those fearful ministers who fulfil his inscrutable decrees. The earth has failed to give her increase; the common mother has forgotten her offspring, and her breast no longer affords them their accustomed nourishment. Famine, gaunt and ghastly famine, has seized a nation in its strangling grasp; and unhappy Ireland, in the sad woes of the present, forgets, for a moment, the gloomy history of the past.
O! it is terrible, in this beautiful world, which the good God has given us, and in which there is plenty for us all, that men should die of starvation! You, who see, each day, poured, into the lap of your city, food sufficient to assuage the hunger of a nation, can form but an imperfect idea of the horrors of famine. In battle, in the fulness of his pride and strength, little recks the soldier whether the hissing bullet sings his sudden requiem, or the cords of life are severed by the sharp steel. But he who dies of hunger wrestles alone, day after day, with his grim and unrelenting enemy. The blood recedes, the flesh deserts, the muscles relax, and the sinews grow powerless. At last, the mind, which, at first, had bravely nerved itself for the contest, gives way, under the mysterious influences which govern its union with the body. Then he begins to doubt the existence of an overruling Providence; he hates his fellow-men, and glares upon them with the longings of a cannibal, and, it may be, dies blaspheming!
Who will hesitate to give his mite to avert such awful results? Surely not the citizens of New Orleans, ever famed for deeds of benevolence and charity. Freely have your hearts and purses opened, here
An allusion to the victories in Mexico, the news of which had been recently received.
tofore, to the call of suffering humanity. Nobly did you respond to oppressed Greece and to struggling Poland. Within Erin's borders is an enemy more cruel than the Turk, more tyrannical than the Russian. Bread is the only weapon that can conquer him. Let us, then, load ships with this glorious munition, and, in the name of our common humanity, wage war against this despot Famine. Let us, in God's name, "cast our bread upon the waters," and if we are selfish enough to desire it back again, we may recollect the promise, that it shall return to us after many days.
14. A PLEA FOR THE SAILOR.- William Mountford.
O, THE difference between sea and land! The sailor lives a life of daily, hourly, momentary risk, and he reckons it by voyages. He goes on your errands, he dares dangers for you, he lives a strange life for you. Think of what winter is at sea. Think of what it is to have the waves discharge themselves on a ship, with a roar like artillery, and a force not much less. Think of what it is for a sailor to be aloft in the rigging, holding on by a rope, wet with the rain, or numbed with the cold, and with the mast of the ship swaying, with the wind, like a reed. Think of what it is when men drop from the yard-arms into the sea, or when they are washed from the deck like insects. Think of what it is, day and night, without rest and without sleep, to strive against a storm, against the might of wind and waves, every wave a mighty enemy to surmount. Think what it is to strike on a rock,- to shriek but once, and then, perhaps, be drowned. Think of the diseases that come of hardships at sea. Think of what it is to be sick in a lazaretto, to lie dying in a foreign hospital. Think of all this, and then, perhaps, you will think rightly of what it is to be a sailor.
Think of what you yourselves owe to the sailor. It is through his intervention that you are possessed of those comforts that make of a house a home. Live comfortably you cannot, live at all, perhaps, you cannot, without seamen will expose themselves for you, risk themselves for you, and, alas! often, very often, drown, - drown in your service, drown, and leave widows and orphans destitute. O! what a consideration it is, that, so often, my happiness is from suffering somewhere! My salvation is from a death upon a cross. church I worship in has every one of its pillars deep founded in a martyr's grave. The philosophy that delights me for its truth is what some wise man had first to learn in bitterness. My comforts are mine, many of them, through other men's miseries. Commerce spreads the world about me with blessings, but not without there being shipwrecks from it on every coast, and deaths by drowning, several every day,
Ah! yes; to beg with me, to plead with me, for the widow and orphan of the mariner, there comes, from many a place where seamen have died, a call, a prayer, a beseeching voice; - a cry from the coast
of Guinea, where there is fever evermore; a cry from Arctic seas, where icebergs are death; a cry from coral reefs, that ships are wrecked on horribly; a cry from many a foreign city, where the sailor, as he dies, speaks of his family, and is not understood; a cry from mid-ocean, where many a sailor drops into a sudden grave! They ask your help, your charity, for the widows and the orphans of those who, in times past, have gone down to the sea, - have gone down to the sea in ships!
15. OUR RELATIONS TO ENGLAND, 1824. — Edward Everett.
WHO does not feel, what reflecting American does not acknowledge, the incalculable advantages derived to this land out of the deep fountains of civil, intellectual, and moral truth, from which we have drawn in England? What American does not feel proud that his fathers were the countrymen of Bacon, of Newton, and of Locke? Who does not know, that, while eyery pulse of civil liberty in the heart of the British empire beat warm and full in the bosom of our ancestors, the sobriety, the firmness, and the dignity, with which the cause of free principles struggled into existence here, constantly found encouragement and countenance from the friends of liberty there? Who does not remember, that, when the Pilgrims went over the sea, the prayers of the faithful British confessors, in all the quarters of their dispersion, went over with them, while their aching eyes were strained till the star of hope should go up in the western skies? And who will ever forget, that, in that eventful struggle which severed these youthful republics from the British crown, there was not heard, throughout our continent in arms, a voice which spoke louder for the rights of America than that of Burke, or of Chatham, within the walls of the British Parliament, and at the foot of the British throne? No; for myself, I can truly say, that, after my native land, I feel a tenderness and a reverence for that of my fathers. The pride I take in my own country makes me respect that from which we are sprung. In touching the soil of England, I seem to return, like a descendant, to the old family seat, to come back to the abode of an aged and venerable parent. I acknowledge this great consanguinity of nations. The sound of my native language, beyond the sea, is a music, to my ear, beyond the richest strains of Tuscan softness or Castilian majesty. I am not yet in a land of strangers, while surrounded by the manners, the habits, and the institutions, under which I have been brought up. I wander delighted through a thousand scenes, which the historians and the poets have made familiar to us, of which the names are interwoven with our earliest associations. I tread with reverence the spots where I can retrace the footsteps of our suffering fathers. The pleasant land of their birth has a claim on my heart. It seems to me a classic, yea, a holy land; rich in the memory of the great and good, the champions and the martyrs of liberty, the exiled heralds of truth; and richer, as the parent of this land of promise in the West.
I am not I need not say I am not the panegyrist of England I am not dazzled by her riches, nor awed by her power. The sceptre,
the mitre, and the coronet, - stars, garters, and blue ribbons, to me poor things for great men to contend for. Nor is my admiration awakened by her armies, mustered for the battles of Europe; her navies, overshadowing the ocean; nor her empire, grasping the furthest East. It is these, and the price of guilt and blood by which they are too often maintained, which are the cause why no friend of liberty can salute her with undivided affections. But it is the cradle and the refuge of free principles, though often persecuted; the school of religious liberty, the more precious for the struggles through which it has passed; the tombs of those who have reflected honor on all who speak the English tongue; it is the birth-place of our fathers, the home of the Pilgrims; it is these which I love and venerate in England. I should feel ashamed of an enthusiasm for Italy and Greece, did I not also feel it for a land like this. In an American, it would seem to me degenerate and ungrateful to hang with passion upon the traces of Homer and Virgil, and follow, without emotion, the nearer and plainer footsteps of Shakspeare and Milton. I should think him cold in his love for his native land who felt no melting in his heart for that other native country, which holds the ashes of his forefathers.
16. IMPERISHABILITY OF GREAT EXAMPLES. - Edward Everett.
To be cold and breathless, to feel not and speak not, - this is not the end of existence to the men who have breathed their spirits into the institutions of their country, who have stamped their characters on the pillars of the age, who have poured their hearts' blood into the channels of the public prosperity. Tell me, ye who tread the sods of yon sacred height, is Warren dead? Can you not still see him, not pale and prostrate, the blood of his gallant heart pouring out of his ghastly wound, but moving resplendent over the field of honor, with the rose of Heaven upon his cheek, and the fire of liberty in his eye? Tell me, ye who make your pious pilgrimage to the shades of Vernon, is Washington, indeed, shut up in that cold and narrow house? That which made these men, and men like these, cannot die. The hand that traced、 the charter of Independence is, indeed, motionless; the eloquent lips that sustained it are hushed; but the lofty spirits that conceived, resolved, and maintained it, and which alone, to such men, "make it life to live," these cannot expire:
"These shall resist the empire of decay,
When time is o'er, and worlds have passed away;
But that which warmed it once can never die."
17. CIVILIZATION OF AFRICA, 1832. — Edward Everett.
It is said that it is impossible to civilize Africa. Why? Why is it impossible to civilize man in one part of the earth more than in another? Consult history. Was Italy -was Greece-the cradle of civilization? No. As far back as the lights of tradition reach,
Africa was the cradle of science, while Syria, and Greece, and Italy, were yet covered with darkness. As far back as we can trace the first rudiments of improvement, they came from the very head waters of the Nile, far in the interior of Africa; and there are yet to be found, in shapeless ruins, the monuments of this primeval civilization. To come down to a much later period, while the West and North of Europe were yet barbarous, the Mediterranean coast of Africa was filled with cities, academies, museums, churches, and a highly civilized population. What has raised the Gaul, the Belgium, the Germany, the Scandinavia, the Britain, of ancient geography, to their present improved and improving condition? Africa is not now sunk lower than most of those countries were eighteen centuries ago; and the engines of social influence are increased a thousand-fold in numbers and efficacy. It is not eighteen hundred years ago since Scotland, whose metropolis has been called the Athens of modern Europe, the country of Hume, of Smith, of Robertson, of Blair, of Stewart, of Brown, of Jeffrey, of Chalmers, of Scott, of Brougham, -was a wilderness, infested by painted savages. It is not a tho and years since the North of Germany, now filled with beautiful cities, learned universities, and the best educated population in the world, was a dreary, pathless forest.
Is it possible that, before an assembly like this,-an assembly of Americans, it can be necessary to argue the possibility of civilizing Africa, through the instrumentality of a colonial establishment, and that in a comparatively short time? It is but about ten years since the foundations of the colony of Liberia were laid; and every one acquainted with the early history of New England knows that the colony at Liberia has made much greater progress than was made by the settlement at Plymouth in the same period. More than once were the first settlements in Virginia in a position vastly less encouraging than that of the American colony on the coast of Africa; and yet, from these feeble beginnings in New England and Virginia, what has not been brought about in two hundred years? Two hundred years ago, and the Continent of North America, for the barbarism of its native population, and its remoteness from the sources of improvement, was all that Africa is now. Impossible to civilize Africa! Sir, the work is already, in no small part, accomplished.
18. WHAT GOOD WILL THE MONUMENT DO? 1833.- Edward Everett.
I AM met with the great objection, What good will the Monument do? I beg leave, Sir, to exercise my birthright as a Yankee, and answer this question by asking two or three more, to which I believe it will be quite as difficult to furnish a satisfactory reply. I am asked, What good will the monument do? And I ask, what good does any thing do? What is good? Does anything do any good? The persons who suggest this objection, of course, think that there are some projects and undertakings that do good; and I should therefore like to have the idea of good explained, and analyzed, and run out to its