Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

5

7

8

But what awak'st thou in the heart, O Spring!
The human heart, with all its dreams and sighs?
Thou that giv'st back so many a buried thing,
Restorer of forgotten harmonies!

and scents break forth where'er thou art: What wak'st thou in the heart?

6 Too much, oh, there, too much!

we know not well
Wherefore it should be thus; yet, roused by thee,
What fond, strange yearnings, from the soul's deep cell,
Gush for the faces we no more may see!
How are we haunted, in thy wind's low tone,
By voices that are gone!

Fresh songs

Looks of familiar love, that never more,

Never on earth, our aching eyes shall meet,
Past words of welcome to our household door,

And vanished smiles, and sounds of parted feet-
Spring, midst the murmurs of thy flowering trees,
Why, why revivest thou these?

Vain longings for the dead! — why come they back
With thy young birds, and leaves, and living blooms?
O, is it not that from thine earthly track

Hope to thy world may look beyond the tombs?
Yes, gentle Spring; no sorrow dims thine air,
Breathed by our loved ones there.

XLVII.

-IMAGINARY SPEECH IN OPPOSITION TO THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

WEBSTER.

[This lesson and that which succeeds it are both taken from Mr. Webster's ་་ Eulogy on Adams and Jefferson," delivered in Faneuil Hall, Boston, August 2, 1826. The first speech presents such arguments as might have been urged against the declaration of the independence of the colonies, by a man of timid

and desponding temperament; and the views of bolder and far-seeing statesmen are uttered by the lips of Mr. Adams. Many persons have supposed that the speech put into the mouth of Mr. Adams was really delivered by him, but this is not the case. It was written by Mr. Webster.]

LET us pause! This step, once taken, cannot be retraced. This resolution, once passed, will cut off all hope of reconciliation. If success attend the arms of England, we shall then be no longer colonies, with charters and 5 with privileges; these will all be forfeited by this act; and we shall be in the condition of other conquered people, at the mercy of the conquerors.

For ourselves, we may be ready to run the hazard; but are we ready to carry the country to that length? Is 10 success so probable as to justify it? Where is the military, where the naval power, by which we are to resist the whole strength of the arm of England; for she will exert that strength to the utmost? Can we rely on the constancy and perseverance of the people? or will they 15 not act as the people of other countries have acted, and, wearied with a long war, submit, in the end, to a worse oppression? While we stand on our old ground and insist on redress of grievances, we know we are right and are not answerable for consequences. Nothing, then, can 20 be imputed to us.

But if we now change our object, carry our pretensions farther, and set up for absolute independence, we shall lose the sympathy of mankind. We shall no longer be defending what we possess, but struggling for something 25 which we never did possess, and which we have solemnly and uniformly disclaimed all intention of pursuing, from the very outset of the troubles. Abandoning thus our old ground, of resistance only to arbitrary acts of oppression, the nations will believe the whole to have been mere pre30 tence, and they will look on us, not as injured, but as ambitious, subjects. I shudder before this responsibility.

It will be on us, if, relinquishing the ground we have stood on so long, and stood on so safely, we now proclaim

independence, and carry on the war for that object, while these cities burn, these pleasant fields whiten and bleach with the bones of their owners, and these streams run blood. It will be upon us, it will be upon us, if, failing 5 to maintain this unseasonable and ill-judged declaration, a sterner despotism, maintained by military power, shall be established over our posterity, when we ourselves, given up by an exhausted, a harassed, a misled people, shall have expiated our rashness and atoned for our presumption on the scaffold.

XLVIII. MR. ADAMS'S REPLY TO THE ABOVE.

But

SINK or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence. there's a divinity which shapes our ends. The injustice 5 of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded to her own interest for our good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours. Why, then, should

[ocr errors]

10

we defer the declaration?

Is any man so weak as now to hope for a reconciliation with England, which shall leave either safety to the country and its liberties, or safety to his own life and his own honor? Are not you, sir, who sit in that chair, is

not he, our venerable colleague near you, are you not both 15 already the proscribed and predestined objects of punishment and of vengeance? Cut off from all hope of royal clemency, what are you, what can you be, while the power of England remains, but outlaws? If we postpone independence, do we mean to carry on or to give up the 20 war? Do we mean to submit to the measures of parliament, Boston Port Bill and all? Do we mean to submit,

and consent that we ourselves shall be ground to powder, and our country and its rights trodden down in the dust?

I know we do not mean to submit. We never shall submit. Do we intend to violate that most solemn obli5 gation ever entered into by men, that plighting, before God, of our sacred honor to Washington, when, putting him forth to incur the dangers of war, as well as the political hazards of the times, we promised to adhere to him, in every extremity, with our fortunes and our lives? 10 I know there is not a man here, who would not rather see a general conflagration sweep over the land, or an earthquake sink it, than one jot or tittle of that plighted faith fall to the ground. For myself, having, twelve months ago, in this place, moved you, that George Washington be 15 appointed commander of the forces raised, or to be raised, for defence of American liberty, may my right hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I hesitate or waver in the support I give him.

The war, then, must go on. We must fight it through. 20 And if the war must go on, why put off longer the declaration of independence? That measure will strengthen us. It will give us character abroad. The nations will then treat with us, which they never can do while we acknowledge ourselves subjects in arms against our sov25 ereign. Nay, I maintain that England herself will sooner treat for peace with us on the footing of independence, than consent, by repealing her acts, to acknowledge that her whole conduct toward us has been a course of injustice and oppression.

30

Her pride will be less wounded by submitting to that course of things which now predestinates our independence, than by yielding the points in controversy to her rebellious subjects. The former she would regard as the result of fortune; the latter she would feel as her own 35 deep disgrace. Why then, why then, sir, do we not as soon as possible change this from a civil to a national war?

And since we must fight it through, why not put ourselves in a state to enjoy all the benefits of victory, if we gain the victory?

If we fail, it can be no worse for us. But we shall not 5 fail. The cause will raise up armies; the cause will create navics. The people, the people, if we are true to them, will carry us, and will carry themselves, gloriously, through this struggle. I care not how fickle other people have been found. I know the people of these colonies, and I 10 know that resistance to British aggression is deep and settled in their hearts, and cannot be eradicated. Every colony, indeed, has expressed its willingness to follow, if we but take the lead.

Sir, the declaration will inspire the people with in15 creased courage. Instead of a long and bloody war for the restoration of privileges, for redress of grievances, for chartered immunities held under a British king, set before them the glorious object of entire independence, and it will breathe into them anew the breath of life. Read 20 this declaration at the head of the army; every sword will be drawn from its scabbard, and the solemn vow uttered. to maintain it, or to perish on the bed of honor. Publish it from the pulpit; religion will approve it, and the love of religious liberty will cling round it, resolved to stand 25 with it, or fall with it. Send it to the public halls; proclaim it there; let them hear it who heard the first roar of the enemy's cannon; let them see it who saw their brothers and their sons fall on the field of Bunker Hill, and in the streets of Lexington and Concord, and the very walls will 30 cry out in its support.

Sir, I know the uncertainty of human affairs, but I see, I see clearly through this day's business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to the time when this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die colo35 nists; die slaves; die, it may be, ignominiously, and on the scaffold. Be it so. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of

« VorigeDoorgaan »