Page images

7. The principles of the Revolution were not the suddenly acquired property of a few bosoms: they were abroad in the land in the ages before; they had always been taught, like the truths of the Bible; they had descended from father to son, down from those primitive days when the pilgrim, established in his simple dwelling, and seated at his blazing fire, piled high from the forest which shaded his door, repeated to his listening children the story of his wrongs and his resistance, and bade them rejoice, though the wild winds and the wild beasts were howling without, that they had nothing to fear from great men's oppression.

8. Here are the beginnings of the Revolution. Every settler's hearth was a school of independence; the scholars were apt, and the lessons sunk deeply; and thus it came that our country was always free; it could not be other

than free.

9. As deeply seated as was the principle of liberty and resistance to arbitrary power, in the breasts of the Puritans, it was not more so than their piety and sense of religious obligation. They were emphatically a people whose God was the Lord. Their form of government was as strictly theocratical, if direct communication be excepted, as was that of the Jews; insomuch that it would be difficult to say where there was any civil authority among them entirely distinct from ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

10. Whenever a few of them settled a town, they immediately gathered themselves into a church; and their elders were magistrates, and their code of laws was the Pentateuch. These were forms, it is true, but forms which faithfully indicated principles and feelings; for no people could have adopted such forms who were not

thoroughly imbued with the spirit, and bent on the practice, of religion.

II. God was their King; and they regarded him as truly and literally so as if he had dwelt in a visible palace in the midst of their state. They were his devoted, resolute, humble subjects; they undertook nothing which they did not beg of him to prosper; they accomplished nothing without rendering to him the praise; they suffered nothing without carrying their sorrows to his throne; they ate nothing which they did not implore him to bless.

12. Their piety was not merely external; it was sincere; it had the proof of a good tree in bearing good fruit; it produced and sustained a strict morality. Their tenacious purity of manners and speech obtained for them, in the mother country, their name of Puritans, as honorable an appellation as was ever bestowed by man on man.

13. That there were hypocrites among them is not to be doubted; but they were rare; the men who voluntarily exiled themselves to an unknown coast, and endured there every toil and hardship for conscience' sake, and that they might serve God in their own manner, were not likely to set conscience at defiance, and make the service of God a mockery; they were not likely to be, neither were they, hypocrites. I do not know that it would be arrogating too much for them to say that, on the extended surface of the globe, there was not a single community of men to be compared with them, in the respects of deep religious impressions and an exact performance of moral duty.


To love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all the other virtues.



I. I call that mind free, which masters the senses, which protects itself against the animal appetites, which penetrates beneath the body and recognizes its own reality and greatness. I call that mind free, which escapes the bondage of matter; which, instead of stopping at the material universe and making it a prison wall, passes beyond it, and finds, in the radiant signatures which that universe everywhere bears of the infinite Spirit, helps to its own spiritual enlargement.

2. I call that mind free, which sets no bounds to its love, which recognizes in all human beings the image of God and the rights of his children, which delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering wherever they are seen, which conquers pride, anger, and sloth, and offers itself up a willing victim to the cause of mankind.

3. I call that mind free, which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, which is not swept away by the torrent of events, which is not the creature of accidental impulse, but which bends events to its own improvement, and acts from an inward spring, from immutable principles which it has deliberately espoused.

4. I call that mind free, which protects itself against the usurpations of society, which does not cower to human opinion, which feels itself accountable to a higher tribunal than man's, which respects a higher law than fashion, which reverences itself too much to be the slave or tool of the many or the few.

5. I call that mind free, which, through confidence in God and in the power of virtue, has cast off all fear but that of wrong-doing, which no menace or peril can inthrall;

which is calm in the midst of tumults, and possesses itself, though all else be lost.

6. Finally, I call that mind free, which, conscious of its affinity with God, devotes itself faithfully to the unfolding of all its powers; which transcends the bounds of time and death, which hopes to advance forever, and which finds inexhaustible power, both for action and suffering, in the prospect of immortality.



1. Born upon the verge of civilization, his father's house the furthest by four miles on the Indian trail to Canada, Mr. Webster retained to the last his love for that pure, fresh nature in which he was cradled. The dashing streams, which conduct the waters of the queen of New Hampshire's lakes to the noble Merrimac; the superb group of mountains (the Switzerland of the United States), among which those waters have their sources; the primeval forest, whose date runs back to the twelfth verse of the first chapter of Genesis, and never since creation yielded to the settler's ax; the gray buttresses of granite which prop the eternal hills; the sacred alternation of the seasons, with its magic play on field and forest and flood; the gleaming surface of lake and stream in summer; the icy pavement with which they are floored in winter; the verdure of spring, the prismatic tints of the autumnal woods, the leafless branches of December, glittering like arches and corridors of silver and crystal in the enchanted palaces of fairyland — sparkling in the morning sun with winter's jewelry, diamond and amethyst, and ruby and sapphire; the cathedral aisles of pathless woods—the mournful hemlock, the "cloud-seeking" pine-hung with drooping

creepers, like funeral banners pendent from the roof of chancel or transept over the graves of the old lords of the soil these all retained for him to the close of his life an undying charm.

2. But though he ever clung with fondness to the wild mountain scenery amidst which he was born and passed his youth, he loved nature in all her other aspects. The simple beauty to which he had brought his farm at Marshfield, its approaches, its grassy lawns, its well-disposed plantations on the hillsides, unpretending but tasteful, and forming a pleasing interchange with his large cornfields and turnip patches, showed his sensibility to the milder beauties of civilized culture.

3. He understood, no one better, the secret sympathy of nature and art, and often conversed on the principles which govern their relations with each other. He appreciated the infinite bounty with which nature furnishes materials to the artistic powers of man, at once her servant and master; and he knew not less that the highest exercise of art is but to imitate, interpret, select, and combine the properties, affinities, and proportions of náture; that in reality they are parts of one great system; for nature is the Divine Creator's art, and art is rational man's creation.

4. But not less than mountain and plain he loved the sea. He loved to walk and ride and drive upon that magnificent beach which stretches from Green Harbor all round to the Gurnet. He loved to pass hours, I may say days, in his little boat. He loved to breathe the healthful air of the salt water. He loved the music of the ocean, through all the mighty octaves deep and high of its farresounding register; from the lazy plash of a midsummer's ripple upon the margin of some oozy creek to the sharp howl of the tempest, which wrenches a lighthouse from its

« EelmineJätka »