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government then becomes nothing but organized party, and, in the strange vicissitudes of human affairs, it may come at last, perhaps, to exhibit the singular paradox1 of government itself being in opposition to its own powers, at war with the very elements of its own existence. Such cases are hopeless. As men may be protected against murder, but can not be guarded against suicide, so government may be shielded from the assaults of external foes, but nothing can save it when it chooses to lay violent hands on itself.
There was in the breast of Washington one sentiment so deeply felt, so constantly uppermost, that no proper occasion escaped without its utterance. From the letter which he signed in behalf of the Convention when the Constitution was sent out to the people, to the moment when he put his hand to that last paper in which he addressed his countrymen, the Union — the Union was the great object of his thoughts. Here, in his judgment, was the great magazine 3 of all our means of prosperity; here, as he thought, and as every American still thinks, are deposited all our animating prospects, all our solid hopes 4 for future greatness. He has taught us to maintain this Union, not by seeking to enlarge the powers of the government, on the one hand, nor by surrendering them, on the other; but by an administration of them at once firm and moderate, pursuing objects truly national, and carried on in a spirit of justice and equity. The extreme solicitude
1 paradox. See Glossary.
2 the Union. thoughts. And so it was with Webster.
3 magazine, storehouse.
prospects. hopes. What is the distinction?
for the preservation of the Union, at all times manifested by him, shows not only the opinion he entertained of its importance, but his clear perception of those causes 1 which were likely to spring up to endanger it, and which, if once they should overthrow the present system, would leave little hope of any future beneficial reunion.
Washington could regard, and did regard, nothing as of paramount 2 political interest but the integrity of the Union itself. With a united government, well administered, he saw we had nothing to fear; and without it, nothing to hope. The sentiment is just, and its momentous truth should solemnly impress the whole country. If we might regard our country as personated 4 in the spirit of Washington; if we might consider him as representing her in her past renown, her present prosperity, and her future career, and as in that character demanding of us all to account for our conduct as political men or as private citizens, how should he answer him who has ventured to talk of disunion and dismemberment?5 Or how should he answer him who dwells perpetually on local interests, and fans every kindling flame of local prejudice? How should he answer him who would array. State against State, interest against interest, and party against party, care
1 those causes: that is, sectional 5 dismemberment=dis + mendifferences.
ber+ ment, the condition when the 2 paramount. See Webster. members (States) are put asunder
3 nothing to fear ... nothing to (dis) each from each. hope. What is the figure of speech? 6 local interests. Explain this
4 personated, represented, sym- expression. bolized.
7 array. Give a synonym,
less of the continuance of that unity of government which constitutes us one people ?
Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it; if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation, they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a trifle even if the walls of yonder Capitol2 were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of dlernolished government? Who shall rear 3 again the well-proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skillful architecture which unites national sovereignty with State rights, individual security, and public prosperity? No, gentlemen, if these columns fall, they will not be raised again. Like the Coliseum 4 and the Parthenon, they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy 6 immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them than were ever shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the remnants of a more glorious
1 If disastrous war . . . har 4 the Coliseum : the great circus vests. How many propositions in (Circus Maximus) in Rome. The this compound sentence?
ruins are still standing. 2 yonder Capitol. Explain.
the Parthenon, a celebrated 3 Who shall rear, etc. Note how temple of Minerva, in Athens. Its finely the architectural metaphor ruins remain also. is carried out in this sentence and 6 a mournful, a melancholy. those following:
Note the alliteration.
edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw, the edifice of constitutional American liberty.
But let us hope for better things. Let us trust in that gracious Being who has hitherto held our country as in the hollow of his hand.1 Let us trust to the virtue and intelligence of the people, and to the efficacy 2 of religious obligation. Let us trust to the influence of Washington's example. Let us hope that that fear of Heaven which expels all other fear, and that regard to duty which transcends all other regard, may influence public men and private citizens, and lead our country still onward in her happy career. Full of these gratifying anticipations and hopes, let us look forward to the end of that century which is commenced. A hundred years hence, other disciples of Washington will celebrate his birth with no less of sincere admiration than we now commemorate it.3 When they shall meet, as we now meet, to do themselves and him the honor, so surely as they shall see the blue summits of his native mountains 4 rise in the horizon; so surely as they shall behold the river on whose banks he lived, and on whose banks he rests, still flowing on toward the sea, --so surely may they see, as we now see, the flag of the Union floating on the top of the Capitol ; 6 and then, as now, may the sun, in
1 in the hollow of his hand, a 4 his native mountains. What scriptural phrase.
is the reference? 2 efficacy, power, potency. 5 the river . . . rests. Explain 3 A hundred years ...
it. In the allusion. what year will the second centen- 6 Capitol. See Webster for the nial of Washington's birth occur? etymology.
its course, visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!
Gentlemen, I propose — "THE MEMORY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON."
2.- PERORATION OF THE REPLY TO HAYNE.
[The following extract forms the peroration of Webster's most famous forensic effort, - the Second Speech on Foot's Resolution. This speech was made in the United States Senate, January, 1830.]
MR. PRESIDENT, I have thus stated the reasons of my dissent to the doctrines which have been advanced and maintained. I am conscious of having detained you and the Senate much too long. I was drawn into the debate with no previous deliberation, such as is suited to the discussion of so grave and important a subject. But it is a subject of which my heart is full, and I have not been willing to suppress the utterance of its spontaneous sentiments. I can not, even now, persuade myself to relinquish it without expressing once more my deep conviction that, since it respects nothing less than the Union of the States, it is of most vital and essential importance to the public happiness.
I profess, sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of the whole. country, and the preservation of our Federal Union. It is to that Union we owe our safety at home, and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that Union
1 advanced and maintained. Substitute synonyms.
2 deliberation. See Glossary.
3 It is ... abroad. Point out antithetical terms. Difference between “consideration" and "dignity" ?