Page images

Smith, Sydney Continued

'consequences of being too fond of glory:Taxes! Taxes upon every article which enters into the mouth, or covers the back, or is placed under the foot; taxes upon everything which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste; taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion; taxes on everything on earth, and the waters under the earth; on everything that comes from abroad, or is grown at home; taxes on the raw material; taxes on every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man; taxes on the sauce which pampers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him to health; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs the criminal; on the poor man's salt, and the rich man's spice; on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribbons of the bride ;at bed or board, couchant or levant, we must pay.

The schoolboy whips his taxed top; the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with a taxed bridle, on a taxed road; - and the dying Englishman, pouring his medicine, which has paid seven per cent., into a spoon that has paid fifteen per cent., flings himself back upon his chintz bed, which has paid twenty-two per cent., makes his will on an eight-pound stamp, and expires in the arms of an apothecary, who has paid a license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death. His whole property is then immediately taxed from two to ten per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him in the chancel; his virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed marble; and he is then gathered to his fathers, to be taxed no more.

[ocr errors]

Wounds, Shrieks, and Tears in Government I cannot describe the horror and disgust which I felt at hearing Mr. Percival call upon the then ministry for measures of vigor in Ireland. If I lived at Hampstead upon stewed meats and claret,-if I walked to church, every Sunday, before eleven young gentlemen of my own begetting, with their faces washed and their hair pleasingly combed,- if the Almighty had blessed me with every earthly comfort,- how awfully would I pause before I sent for the flame and the sword over the cabins of the poor, brave, generous, open-hearted peasants of Ireland!

How easy it is to shed human blood; how easy it is to persuade ourselves that it is our duty to do so, and that the decision has cost us a severe struggle; how much, in all ages, have wounds and shrieks and tears been the cheap and vulgar resources of the rulers of mankind; how difficult and how noble it is to govern in kindness, and to found an empire upon the everlasting basis of justice and affection! But what do men call vigor? To let loose hussars, and to bring up artillery, to govern with lighted matches, and to cut, and push, and prime,-I call this, not vigor, but the sloth of cruelty and ignorance. The vigor I love consists in finding out wherein subjects are aggrieved, in relieving them, in studying the temper and genius of a

people, in consulting their prejudices, in selecting proper persons to lead and manage them, in the laborious, watchful, and difficult task of increasing public happiness, by allaying each particular discontent.

Socrates (Greece, c. 470-399 B. C.)

Peroration Before His Judges-You, therefore, O my judges! ought to entertain good hopes with respect to death, and to meditate on this one truth, that to a good man nothing is evil, neither while living nor when dead, nor are his concerns neglected by the gods. And what has befallen me is not the effect of chance; but this is clear to me, that now to die and be freed from my cares is better for me. On this account the warning in no way turned me aside; and I bear no resentment toward those who condemned me, or against my accusers, although they did not condemn and accuse me with this intention, but thinking to injure me. In this they deserve to be blamed.

Thus much, however, I beg of them. Punish my sons when they grow up, O judges; paining them, as I have pained you, if they appear to you to care for riches or anything else before virtue; and if they think themselves to be something when they are nothing, reproach them as I have done you, for not attending to what they ought, and for conceiving themselves to be something when they are nothing. If ye do this, both I and my sons shall have met with just treatment at your hands.

But it is now time to depart,-for me to die, for you to live. But which of us is going to a better state is unknown to everyone but God.-(399 B. C.)

Soulé, Pierre (American, 1802-1870.)

American Progress-Sir, public opinion scorns the presumptuous thought that you can restrain this growing country within the narrow sphere of action originally assigned to its nascent energies, and keep it eternally bound up in swaddles. As the infant grows, it requires a more substantial nourishment, a more active exercise. So the lusty appetite of its manhood would il fare with what might satisfy the soberer demands of its youth. Do not, therefore, attempt to stop it on its onward career; for as well might you command the sun not to break through the fleecy clouds that herald its advent in the horizon, or to shroud itself in gloom and darkness as it ascends the meridian. -(From a speech delivered in the Senate Chamber of the United States, March 12th, 1852.)

Spalding, Martin John, Archbishop (American, 1810-1872.)

"Post Nummos Virtus »—Avarice is the besetting sin of the age. Ours is, emphatically, the enlightened age of dollars and cents! Its motto is: Post nummos virtus,—money first, virtue afterwards! Utilitarianism is the order of the day. Everything is estimated in dollars and cents. Almost every order and profession,-our

literature, our arts, and our sciences,- all worship in the temple of Mammon.

The temple of God is open during only one day in the week; that of Mammon is open during six. Everything smacks of gold. The fever of avarice is consuming the very heart's blood of our people. Hence that restless desire to grow suddenly rich; hence that feverish agitation of our population; hence broken constitutions and premature old age. If we have not discovered the philosopher's stone, it has surely not been for want of the seeking. If everything cannot now be turned into gold, it is certainly not for want of unceasing exertions for this purpose.-(From an address.)

[blocks in formation]

Stephens, Alexander H. (American, 18121883.)

On the Compromise of 1850-Be not deceived, and do not deceive others,- this Union can never be maintained by force. With the confidence and affections of the people of all sections of the country, it is capable of being the strongest and best government on earth. But it can never be maintained upon any other principles than those upon which it was formed. All free governments are the creatures of volition,a breath can make them and a breath can destroy them. This government is no exception to the rule. And when once its spirit shall have departed, no power on earth can ever again infuse in it the Promethean spark of life and vitality. You might just as well attempt to raise the dead.- (1850.)

Stevens, Thaddeus (American, 1793-1868.)

Against Politicians in the Pulpit - Dante, by actual observation, makes hell consist of nine circles, the punishments of each increasing in intensity over the preceding. Those doomed to the first circle are much less afflicted than those in the ninth, where are tortured Lucifer and Judas Iscariot,—and I trust, in the next edition, will be added the traitors to liberty. But notwithstanding this difference in degree, all, from the first circle to the ninth, inclusive, is hell,— cruel, desolate, abhorred, horrible hell! If I might venture to make a suggestion, I would advise these reverend perverters of Scripture to devote their subtlety to what they have probably more interest in,-to ascertaining and demonstrating (perhaps an accompanying map might be useful) the exact spot and location where the most comfort might be enjoyed,-the coolest corner in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone ! - (1850.)

Hero Worship, the Danger of Republics Late events have convinced me that it were better in republican, representative governments, where the people are to judge and decide on every measure, if there were no great, overshadowing names to give factitious force to their views, and lead the public mind captive. If the people were to put faith in no man's argument, they would examine every question for themselves, and decide according to their intrinsic merit. The errors of the small do but little harm; those of the great are fatal. Had Lucifer been but a common angel, instead of the chief of the morning stars, he had not taken with him to perdition the third of the heavenly hosts, and spread disunion and discord in celestial, and sin and misery in earthly places.

Sir, so long as man is vain and fallible; so long as great men have like passions with others, and, as in republics, are surrounded with stronger temptations, it were better for themselves if their fame acquired no inordinate height, until the grave had precluded error. The errors of obscure men die with them, and cast no shame on their posterity. How different with the great!

How much better had it been for Lord Bacon, that greatest of human intellects, had he never, during his life, acquired glory, and risen to high honors in the state, than to be degraded from them by the judgment of his peers. How much better for him and his, had he lived and died unknown, than to be branded through all future time as the

"Wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind."

So now, in this crisis of the fate of liberty, if any of the renowned men of this nation should betray her cause, it were better that they had been unknown to fame. It need not be hoped that the brightness of their past glory will dazzle the eyes of posterity, or illumine the pages of impartial history. A few of its rays may still linger on a fading sky; but they will soon be whelmed in the blackness of darkness. For, unless progressive civilization, and the increasing love of freedom throughout the Christian and civilized world are fallacious, the Sun of Liberty, of universal liberty, is already above the horizon, and fast coursing to his meridian splendor, when no advocate of slavery, no apologist of slavery, can look upon his face and live. - (1850.)

Storrs, R. 8.

(American, 1821-1900.)

What Heaven and Hell Mean-It is when we have borne submissively some dreadful sorrow that we see the golden ladder reaching upward, as did Perpetua from the darkness of the dungeon; when we have given ourselves to some great work and wrought it, by God's help and the inspiration of His spirit, triumphantly to the end, that the vision of heaven is granted us.

Eternal punishment is not simply a voluntary infliction; it is the consolidation and perpetua. tion of evil character, projecting itself into the

eternal world, and reaping its own self-prepared results and consequences.

Story, Joseph (American, 1779-1845.)


Hasty Work Is 'Prentice Work-It was a beautiful remark of Sir Joshua Reynolds "that great works, which are to live and stand the criticism of posterity, are not performed at a heat." "I remember," said he, "when I was at Rome, looking at the fighting gladiator in company with an eminent sculptor, and I expressed my admiration of the skill with which the whole is composed, and the minute attention of the artist to the change of every muscle in that momentary exertion of strength. was of opinion that a work so perfect required nearly the whole life of man to perform." What an admonition! What a melancholy reflection to those who deem the literary fame of the present age the best gift to posterity. How many of our proudest geniuses have written, and continue to write, with a swiftness which almost rivals the operations of the press. How many are urged on to the ruin of their immortal hopes, by that public favor which receives with acclamations every new offspring of their pen. If Milton had written thus, we should have found no scholar of our day, no "Christian Examiner," portraying the glory of his character with the enthusiasm of a kindred spirit. If Pope had written thus, we should have had no fierce contests respecting his genius and poetical attainments by our Byrons, and Bowleses, and Roscoes. If Virgil had written thus, he might have chanted his verses to the courtly Augustus; but Marcellus and his story would have perished. If Horace had written thus, he might have enchanted gay friends and social parties; but it would never have been said of his composition, decies repetita placebit.—(1826.)

Death of Adams and Jefferson - Yes, Adams and Jefferson are gone from us forever, -gone, as a sunbeam to revisit its native skies,

gone, as this mortal to put on immortality. Of them, of each of them, every American may exclaim :

Ne'er to the chambers, where the mighty rest,
Since their foundation, came a nobler guest;
Nor e'er was to the bowers' of bliss convey'd
A fairer spirit, or more welcome shade. "

We may not mourn over the departure of such men. We should rather hail it as a kind dispensation of Providence, to affect our hearts with new and livelier gratitude. They were not cut off in the blossom of their days, while yet the vigor of manhood flushed their cheeks and the harvest of glory was ungathered. They fell not as martyrs fall, seeing only in dim perspective the salvation of their country. They lived to enjoy the blessings earned by their labors and to realize all which their fondest hopes had desired. The infirmities of life stole slowly and silently upon them, leaving still behind a cheerful serenity of mind. In peace, in the bosom of domestic affection, in the hallowed reverence of their countrymen, in the full possession of

their faculties, they wore out the last remains of life, without a fear to cloud, with scarcely a sorrow to disturb, its close. The joyful day of our jubilee came over them with its refreshing influence. To them, indeed, it was "a great and good day." The morning sun shone with softened lustre on their closing eyes. Its evening beams played lightly on their brows, calm in all the dignity of death. Their spirits escaped from these frail tenements without a struggle or a groan. Their death was gentle as an infant's sleep. It was a long, lingering twilight, melting into the softest shade.

Fortunate men! so to have lived and so to have died. Fortunate, to have gone hand in hand in the deeds of the Revolution. Fortunate, in the generous rivalry of middle life. Fortunate, in deserving and receiving the highest honors of their country. Fortunate, in old age to have rekindled their ancient friendship with a holier flame. Fortunate, to have passed through the dark valley of the shadow of death together. Fortunate, to be indissolubly united in the memory and affections of their country. men. Fortunate, above all, in an immortality of virtuous fame, on which history may with severe simplicity write the dying encomium of Pericles, "No citizen, through their means, ever put on mourning. » — ( 1826.)

Passing of the Indians-There is something in their hearts which passes speech. There is something in their looks, not of vengeance or submission, but of hard necessity, which stifles both; which chokes all utterance. It is courage, absorbed in despair. They linger but for a moment. Their look is onward. They have passed the fatal stream. It shall never be repassed by them, —no, never. They know and feel that there is for them still one remove further, not distant, nor unseen. It is to the general burial ground of their race.

The Latest and the Last Republic-We stand the latest, and, if we fail, probably the last experiment of self-government by the people. We have begun it under circumstances of the most auspicious nature. We are in the vigor of youth. Our growth has never been checked by the oppressions of tyranny. Our constitutions have never been enfeebled by the vices or luxuries of the Old World. Such as we are, we have been from the beginning,— simple, hardy, intelligent, accustomed to selfgovernment, and to self-respect. The Atlantic rolls between us and any formidable foe. Within our own territory, stretching through many degrees of latitude and longitude, we have the choice of many products, and many means of independence. The government is mild. The press is free. Religion is free. Knowledge reaches, or may reach, every home. What fairer prospect of success could be presented? What means more adequate to accomplish the sublime end? What more is necessary than for the people to preserve what they have themselves created? Can it be that America, under such circum

[ocr errors]

stances, can betray herself? Can it be that she is to be added to the catalogue of republics, the inscription upon whose ruins is: They were, but they are not ?

Strafford, The Earl of (England, 1593-1641.)

"For a Fair But Bounded Liberty » — Give me leave, my lords, here to pour forth the grief of my soul before you. These proceedings against me seem to be exceedingly rigorous and to have more of prejudice than of equity, that upon a supposed charge of hypocrisy or errors in religion, I should be made so odious to three kingdoms. A great many thousand eyes have seen my accusations, whose ears will never hear that when it came to the upshot those very things were not alleged against me! Is this fair dealing among Christians? But I have lost nothing by that. Popular applause was ever nothing in my conceit. The uprightness and integrity of a good conscience ever was and ever shall be my continued feast; and if I can be justified in your lordships' judgments from this great imputation, as I hope I am, seeing these gentlemen have thrown down the bucklers, I shall account myself justified by the whole kingdom, because absolved by you, who are the better part, the very soul and life of the kingdom.

As for my designs against the state, I dare plead as much innocency as in the matter of religion. I have ever admired the wisdom of our ancestors, who have so fixed the pillars of this monarchy that each of them keeps a due proportion and measure with the others, have so admirably bound together the nerves and the sinews of the state that the straining of any one may bring danger and sorrow to the whole economy. The prerogative of the crown and the propriety of the subject have such natural relations that this takes nourishment from that, and that foundation and nourishment from this. And so, as in the lute, if any one string be wound up too high or too low, you have lost the whole harmony, so here the excess of prerogative is oppression, of pretended liberty in the subject is disorder and anarchy. The prerogative must be used as God doth his omnipotence, upon extraordinary occasions; the laws must have place at all other times. As there must be prerogative because there must be extraordinary occasions, so the propriety of the subject is ever to be maintained, if it go in equal pace with the other. They are fellows and companions that are, and ever must be, inseparable in a well-ordered kingdom; and no way is so fitting, so natural to nourish and entertain both, as the frequent use of parliaments, by which a commerce and acquaintance is kept up between the king and his subjects.

These thoughts have gone along with me these fourteen years of my public employments, and shall, God willing, go with me to the grave God, his Majesty, and my own conscience, yea, and all of those who have been most accessory to my inward thoughts, can

bear me witness that I ever did inculcate this, that the happiness of a kingdom doth consist in a just poise of the king's prerogative and the subject's liberty, and that things could never go well till these went hand in hand together. I thank God for it, by my master's favor, and the providence of my ancestors, I have an estate which so interests me in the commonwealth that I have no great mind to be a slave, but a subject. Nor could I wish the cards to be shuffled over again, in hopes to fall upon a better set; nor did I ever nourish such base and mercenary thoughts as to become a pander to the tyranny and ambition of the greatest man living. No! I have aimed and ever shall aim at a fair but bounded liberty; remembering always that I am a freeman, yet a subject, that I have rights, but under a monarch. It hath been my misfortune, now when I am gray-headed, to be charged by the mistakers of the times, who are so highly bent that all appears to them to be in the extreme for monarchy which is not for themselves. Hence it is that designs, words, yea, intentions, are brought out as demonstrations of my misdemeanors. Such a multiplying-glass is a prejudicate opinion! (At his impeachment. 1641.)

Sumner, Charles (American, 1811-1874.)

The True Grandeur of Nations - The true honor of a nation is to be found only in deeds of justice and in the happiness of its people, all of which are inconsistent with war. In the clear eye of Christian judgment vain are its victories; infamous are its spoils. He is the true benefactor and alone worthy of honor who brings comfort where before was wretchedness; who dries the tear of sorrow; who pours oil into the wounds of the unfortunate, who feeds the hungry and clothes the naked; who unlooses the fetters of the slave; who does justice; who enlightens the ignorant; who enlivens and exalts, by his virtuous genius, in art, in literature, in science, the hours of life; who, by words or actions, inspires a love for God and for man. This is the Christian hero; this is the man of honor in a Christian land. He is no benefactor, nor deserving of honor, whatever may be his worldly renown, whose life is passed in acts of force; who renounces the great law of Christian brotherhood; whose vocation is blood; who triumphs in battle over his fellow-men. Well may old Sir Thomas Browne exclaim: "The world does not know its greatest men"; for thus far it has chiefly discerned the violent brood of battle, the armed men springing up from the dragon's teeth sown by Hate, and cared little for the truly good men, children of love, Cromwells guiltless of their country's blood, whose steps on earth have been as noiseless as an angel's wing.

Thus far mankind has worshiped in military glory an idol compared with which the colossal images of ancient Babylon or modern Hindostan are but toys; and we, in this blessed day of light, in this blessed land of freedom, are among the idolaters. The heaven-descended

« EelmineJätka »