صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

men have nobly aided in driving from the ocean a traffic which had long dishonored our country, and outraged the best feelings of our nature. The foreign slave-trade is now piracy. Would to God, the domestic might, like his barbarous brother of the seas, be made an outlaw of the land, and punished on the same gibbet.

"The Constitution, we know, does not permit one class of the States to legislate on the nature or condition of the property of the other class. Why tell us, for we already know, that neither our religion or our humanity can reach or release that condition. Humanity could once bathe the fevered forehead of Lazarus-she could not bring to his comfort so much as a crumb from the sumptuous and profuse table of Dives. Religion may weep, as the Saviour of the World wept over the proud city of Herod but her tears will fall like the rain-drops on the burning plough-share, and serve only to render the stubborn material more obdurate.

[ocr errors]

"We are called and pressed to decide this question, and yet threatened, that the decision will dissolve the Union. The discussion and the Constitution will terminate together.''Southern gentlemen will, in that event, leave this Hall.' Who makes this menace, and against whom? It cannot be a war cry; can it be a mere party watch-word? On what event of immeasurable moment are we thus adjured? In a paltry claim of two hundred and nine and thirty' pieces of silver, shall we, who have in this Hall, lifted the hand, or 'kissed' the hallowed gospel of God, in testimonial of high devotion to its requirements, shall we now, in the same place, 'deliver up' this our great national charter? This event cannot come with safety to our country, and wisdom would admonish us to inquire what concomitants may attend it; and whom they will visit most disastrously! Must we be schooled on the benefits of the Union? It were wise for such scholars to take some lessons on the evils of separation. The Hebrew, when fed by the bread of Heaven, murmured at his God; looked over the sea, and pined for the luxurious slavery of Egypt. Is it a vain imagining; or may there be a charm in foreign alliance, more potent than the

plain simplicity of domestic independence? England can, indeed, make lords. The United States can make none. She too, can, and has in the last century, made more slaves than all other nations, Pagan or Christian.

"We are surrounded, protected, and secured by our Constitution. By this, we are in safety from the power and violence of the world; as some wealthy regions are, by their own barriers, sheltered from the ravages of the ocean. Do not forget, for they never forget, that a small, insidious, persevering reptile, may, unseen, bore through the loftiest and broadest mound. The water follows its path, silently and imperceptibly at first, but the rock itself is worn away by the continual attrition of a perpetually running stream. A ravine, a breach is made; and the ocean rushing in, flocks, and herds, and men, are swept away by the deluge. Pause, before you peril such a country; pause, before you place in jeopardy so much wealth, and life, and intellect, and loveliness. Those of us, whose sun is far in the West, may hope to be sheltered before the storm. Be not deceived. Sparsed and blanched as are our hairs, they may be defiled in the blood of our sons; and to you, who in the pride of manhood, feel the warm blood flowing at your hearts, while you stand joyously in the blooming circle of household loveliness, the day may come, unless the all-merciful God pours into the bosom of this nation, the hallowed and healing spirit of mutual confidence and mutual conciliation-to you, the tremendous day may come, when you shall sigh for the sad consolation of him, who, before that hour, shall have sheltered his very last daughter in the sanctuary of the tomb. Do not understand me as I do not mean to be understood. Those who would avert the events of that catastrophe, do not stand here in mercy, or to menace, or to deprecate. They stand here amidst all the muniments of the Constitution. They will not desert the ship, leave her who may; they will perform the voyage, and to the very letter, and in the full spirit of all and singular the shipping articles; and they, too, will, by the blessing of God, perform it without fear-prosperously as they trust, and with triumphant

[merged small][ocr errors]

CHAPTER VII.

John Randolph.-He interrupts Mr. Burges while speaking.-Reply of the latter.-Debate continued the next day by Mr. Burges.—He comments on a Speech made by Mr. Randolph on the same Resolution.

:

THERE are few men, living or dead, who have been more celebrated for a peculiar kind of eloquence, united with satire and eccentricity, than the late John Randolph, of Virginia. It is known that for a long period, he exercised supreme control over every legislative body of which he was a member, by his bitter irony, contemptuous sneers at men who ranked high in public esteem, and violent opposition to every measure advanced to promote the interests of the New-England States. Yet, many excellent qualities are conceded to Mr. Randolph. He loved his country; in a narrow sense, however, his own Virginia. That spot he thought was the brightest and happiest upon the face of the globe-the land of eloquence, learning, and virtue its skies more beautiful, its climate more salubrious, its government and people more independent, than any other under heaven. Cherishing such prejudices, and imbued with a vaunting pride of ancestry, it is not wonderful that Mr. Randolph exhibited peculiar traits of character, and opinions based upon false premises. Accordingly, whenever an opportunity occurred, he abused New-England; her character, habits and institutions. We cannot but lament, that one possessed of knowledge so diversified, should have been the slave of prejudice and passion.' He might have done his country more good, and gone down to his grave covered with honor, had he possessed more magnanimity, and looked beyond the narrow limits of Virginia for worth and patriotism. With all his faults, his example may be

'It is said that these prejudices were even such, that his books were all bound in England, because he would not patronize “the Yankees.”

remembered, to be corrected. Men may learn how a fine mind can be turned from its proper channels, and paralyzed by the influence of prejudice.

Mr. Randolph was a member of the House of Representatives, when Mr. Burges first took his seat. As before remarked, he was accustomed to ridicule New-England men and measures. By common usage he had taken them under his own charge; and they shared the same fate that the lamb would receive under the protection of the wolf. No member opposed, hardly attempted, a reply to his taunts and accusations. In his own department of parliamentary eloquence he had been unrivalled. A subject was now under discussion, of vital importance to the Union-the Tariff. Mr. Burges having observed in the course of an argument on the amendment to the bill then under consideration, that there was a disposition among some gentlemen, to support British interests, in preference to American-Mr. Randolph rose, and interrupted him, saying, "This hatred of aliens, Sir, is the undecayed spirit which called forth the proposition to enact the Alien and Sedition Law: I advise the gentleman from Rhode-Island to move a re-enactment of those laws, to prevent the impudent foreigner from rivalling the American seller. New-England,-what is she?-Sir, do you remember that appropriate exclamation,—'Delenda est Carthago?"

Mr. Burges-" Does the gentleman mean to say, Sir, NewEngland must be destroyed? If so, I will remind him, that the fall of Carthage was the precursor of the fall of Rome. Permit me to suggest to him, to carry out the parallel. Further, Sir, I wish it to be distinctly understood, that I am not bound by any rules, to argue against Bedlam:-but, when I hear any thing rational in the hallucinations of the gentleman, I will answer them." The Speaker interposed, and Mr. Burges resumed his seat, saying, "Perhaps it is better, Sir, that I should not go on."

The next day, he continued his speech on the proposed amendment. He embraced this opportunity to refute the assertion made by Mr. Randolph a few days previous, in his remarks on the same subject. "This attempt," observed Mr. Burges, "to destroy all, yes, all protection of New-England labor, skill and

capital, has, by the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Randolph,) been justified by a public declaration made by him, in his place on this floor, that the whole capital of New-England originated in a robbery; a robbery committed more than forty years ago, and committed too, on the officers and soldiers of the revolutionary army. If it were a fact, what punishment is due to those who perpetrated the felony? If by force, the gallows; if by fraud, the loss of ears, and the pillory. If it be not true, what is merited by him, who has, knowing all the truth, made the accusation? The punishment, Sir, he merits, which would have alighted on him, in that community where it was first enacted: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.' What was that? Lex talionis, an eye for an eye.' He who would, by false accusation, peril the life or limb of another, did thereby place his own life and limbs in the same jeopardy. Let judgment pass to another audit.

Nor what to oblivion better were resigned,

Be hung on high to poison half mankind.'

"In the revolutionary war, all who were whigs and patriots, all who were not tories and enemies to their country, contended for the independence of the United States, and united their whole means in the public service. When the war was finished, balances were due, some more, some less, to the several States. Balances were, also, due to many individuals, who had furnished supplies. To the army, a debt of gratitude was due, which the world has not wealth enough to pay; and the United States owed them, moreover, a great amount for arrears of pay, for subsistence, and for depreciation of that currency, in which they had for several years of the war, received their wages. To all the soldiers who had continued in service from 1780, until the army was disbanded, a bounty was due ; and all the officers who had served, from the same date, until the same period, were entitled to receive half the amount of their monthly pay, during the whole term of their natural lives. In lieu of this half pay, Congress, after the close of the war, promised to pay all such officers five years full pay in hand, in money or security, bearing a yearly interest of six per cent. So soon as it could be

« السابقةمتابعة »