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little repose (except in a space of thirty years which elapsed between the peace of Utrecht and the war of 1744) brought forth men worthy of respectful imitation, and formed the mass of our citizens to the hardihood of military life; notwithstanding a soil and climate which, teeming with abundance, tempt to the enjoyment of ease and luxury. May we not be permitted, also, to believe that they are by nature brave? Pardon, gentlemen, a digression which, though it should conclude nothing, may furnish amusement—perhaps reflection. He who visits the nations which Tacitus and Caesar have described, will be struck with a resemblance between those who now inhabit particular districts, and those who dwelt there so many centuries ago. Notwithstanding the wars and conquests which have laid waste, depopulated, and repeopled Europe; notwithstanding the changes of government, and those which have been wrought by the decline and by the advance of society and the arts; notwithstanding the differences of religion, and the difference of manners resulting from all other circumstances; still the same distinctive traits of character appear. Similar bodies are animated by similar souls. We find, also, extending our view a little further east, and taking in a larger surface of the globe, that peculiarities in civil establishment and political organization, corresponding with the peculiarities of national character, have, from the earliest ages, distinguished those regions. We find that the attempt of tyrants to establish despotism, in some countries, was frequently baffled; while the endeavour of patriots to secure freedom, in others, was equally fruitless. He who considers the changes wrought by the tide of time on the face of our globe, this solid earth itself alternately raised above the ocean or plunged beneath its waves, and perceives those peculiarities of form and mind, which remain unchanged through such a long succession of generations, must be struck with the idea of the simple Indian, who, pressed to sell the possession of his tribe, replied, “We grew out of this ground. In its bosom our fathers repose. What! Shall we call upon their bones? Shall we bid them arise and go with us to a strange land?” We, gentlemen, grew out of this same ground with our Indian predecessors. Have we not some traits to mark our common origin? This question will be answered with more precision, when, after the lapse of centuries, the blood of our progenitors, operating with less force, the changes produced, not only in man, but in other animals, by that unknown cause which exhibits a peculiar race in each particular country, shall be more fully displayed. Let us, however, collect the facts which now present themselves. Among the curiosities of newlydiscovered America was the Indian canoe. Its slender and elegant form, its rapid movement, its capacity to bear burdens and resist the rage of billows and torrents, excited no small degree of admiration for the skill by which it was constructed. After the lapse of two centuries, the ships of America were equally admired in the ports of great naval powers, for their lightness, their beauty, the velocity with which they sail, the facility with which they are managed. Nautical architecture may be considered as one of the most important branches of mechanic knowledge. The higher order of mathematic science has been called into act for its advancement. And certainly a line of battle ship is one of the most powerful engines that was ever framed. In comparison with it, the ancient inventions, for defence or destruction, dwindle almost to insignificance. And yet our untutored ship builders have, by the mere force of genius, excelled their European brethren in this difficult, complex art.
So great is the difference, that children distinguish, at first sight, the American ship ascending the Elbe to Hamburgh, a city of considerable trade long before Columbus was born. Again: We find among our savage tribes the commemoration of events by painting; rude, indeed, but more distinct than in other barbarous nations. May I not remark that an American is at the head of that art in England, and that many others, who excel in it, drew their first breath on our shores. Again: Let ..me recall, gentlemen, to your recollection, that bloody field in which Herkemer fell. There was found the Indian and the white man, born on the banks of the Mohawk, their left hand clenched in each other's hair, the right grasping, in a gripe of death, the knife plunged in each other's bosom. Thus they lay frowning. Africa presents a number of nations, like those of America, uncivilized. But how different! I will not say inferior, for they also have excellence peculiar to themselves. They are not, indeed, either painters or builders; but no where, not even in Italy, is the taste for music more universal. If we believe, with Frederick the Great, that reason and experience are the crutches on which men halt along in the pursuit of truth, it may not be amiss to ask the aid of what is known about the Indian character and history, in order to draw the horoscope of our country. What is the statesman's business? If futurity were known, the simplest which can be imagined. For, as in reading Virgil we find the verse so smooth that every scholar thinks he could easily make as good; so, in glancing his eye along the page of history, an indolent reader figures to himself that he too could be a prince of Orange, a Walsingham, a Richelieu. And so, indeed, he might, by the aid of self command, common prudence, and common sense, could he see
into futurity, and penetrate the thoughts of those with whom he is to act. But there lies the difficulty.
Let us see, then, whether some other characteristic of the aborigines may not open to us a view of ourselves, and the perspective of our country. It has already been noticed that the Dutch, on their arrival, found the Indian tribes free. They were subject neither to princes nor to nobles. The Mohawks had not, like the Romans, naturalized those whom they subdued. It was a federal nation, a federal government, a people as free as the air they breathed ; acute, dexterous, eloquent, subtle, brave. They had more of the Grecian than of the Roman character. The most strongly marked, perhaps, of their moral features, was a high sense of personal independence. Is it not likely that this may be the character of our children's children? May we not hope that the liberty to which we were bred, will be enjoyed and preserved by them It must, indeed, be acknowledged, that an extent so vast as that of the United States is less savourable to freedom than a more confined domain, and gives reason to apprehend the establishment of monarchy. Moreover, the anxious patriot may well tremble at the prevalence of faction, at the attempts to prostrate law, and at those absurd principles of mob power, as wildly preached by some as they are wickedly practised by others, Still there is ground of hope. Still it is permitted to believe, that those who pursue despotic power, along the beaten path P democracy, and expect to establish their dominion over the people, by flattering the populace, will be sorely disappointed. The soul of this nation cannot be subdued. Neither will those who tread the soil in which the Mohawks are entombed submit to be slaves.
* * I shall not be surprised that ideas of this sort are treated as visionary speculations. When the great Chatham, in January, 1775, having moved an address for recalling the British troops from Boston, said, in a speech which will ever do honour both to his eloquence and discernment, “America, insulted with an armed force, irritated with a hostile army before her eyes, her concessions, if you could force them, would be suspicious and insecure. But it is more than evident that you cannot force them to your unworthy terms of submission. It is impossible. We ourselves shall be forced ultimately to retract. Let us retract while we can ; not when we must. I repeat it, my lords, we shall one day be forced to undo these violent, oppressive acts. They must be repealed. You will repeal them. I pledge myself for it, that you will in the end repeal them. I stake my reputation on it. I will consent to be taken for an idiot if they are not repealed.” When the venerable statesman thus poured forth prophetic eloquence, the wise ones of that day, exulting in “a little brief authority,” shrugged up their shoulders, and said, with a sneer of affected commiseration, poor old peer! he has outlived his understanding. In fancy, to be sure, he is young and wild, but reason is gone; he dotes. So, too, in the height of Gallic frenzy, there was a cry raised to hunt down those who, reasoning and reflecting, foresaw and foretold a military despotism as the natural, the necessary result of such unexampled atrocities. It became a fashion to speak of those who warned their country against the contaminating touch, the infectious breath of licentious pollution, as enemies of liberty, as mad with aristocratic notions, as whimsical and fantastic. But now the predictions of Chatham and of Burke are verified. And it may now be asked, where are the men who called those eloquent sages fools?