Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

illuminate. Superiority in some particular, belongs to thousands. Pre-eminence, in whatever he chose to undertake, was the prerogative of HAMILTON. No fixed criterion could be applied to his talents. Often has their display been supposed to have reached the limit of human effort ; and the judgment stood firm till set aside by himself. When a cause of new magnitude required new exertions, he rose, he towered, he soared ; surpassing himself, as he surpassed others. Then was nature tributary to his eloquence ! Then was felt his despotism over the heart! Touching, at his pleasure, every string of pity or terror, of indignation or grief; he melted, he soothed, he roused, he agitated ; alternately gentle as the dews, and awful as the thunder. Yet, great as he was in the eyes of the world, he was greater in the eyes of those with whom he was most conversant. The greatness of most men, like objects seen through a mist, diminishes with the distance : but HamILTON, like a tower seen afar off under a clear sky, rose in grandeur and sublimity with every step of approach. Familiarity with him was the parent of veneration. Over these matchless talents Probity threw her brightest lustre. Frankness, suavity, tenderness, benevolence, breathed through their exercise. And to his family !—but he is gone.—That noble heart beats no more : that eye of fire is dimmed ; and sealed are those oracular lips. Americans, the serenest beam of your glory is extinguished in the tomb !

FATHERS, friends, countrymen ! the death of HAMILTON IS no common affliction. The loss of distinguished men is, at all times, a calamity ; but the loss of such a man, at such a time, and in the very meridian of his usefulness, is singularly portentous, When WASHINGTON was taken, HAMILTON was left_but Hamilton is taken, and we have no WASHINGTON. We have not such another man to die ! WASHINGTON and HAMILTON in five years !-Bereaved America ! Thou art languishing beneath the divine displeasure. Let this awfully impress my hearers, that when the Almighty God is about to * shake terribly the earth ;” when he has bidden scourge to follow scourge,' and vengeance to press on vengeance, one of his means is to deprive a nation of their ablest men. Thus bereft of counsel, their affairs run into confusion, and bring forth misery. I invent nothing ; I only repeat the admonition of holy writ : "For behold the Lord, the Lord of hosts doth " take away the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge,

and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the cap. “ tain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and " the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator." The disas.

trous consequences are, impotent governors, and ruthless anarchy. For the prophet continues, “ I will give children to be “ their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the “people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every "one by his neighbour; the child shall behave himself proud" ly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable."

FATHERS, friends, countrymen ! the grave of HAMILTON speaks. It charges me to remind you that he fell a victim, not to disease nor accident; not to the fortune of glorious warfare; but, how shall I utter it? to a custom which has no origin but superstition, no aliment but depravity, no reason but in madness. Alas! that he should thus expose his precious life. This was his error. A thousand bursting hearts reiterate, this was his error. Shall I apologize ? I am forbidden by his living protestations, by his dying regrets, by his wasted blood. Shall a solitary act into which he was betrayed and dragged, have the authority of a precedent ? The plea is precluded by the long decisions of his understanding, by the principles of his conscience, and by the reluctance of his heart, Ah! when will our morals be purified, and an imaginary honour cease to cover the most pestilent of human passions ? My appeal is to military men. Your honour is sacred. Listen. Is it honourable to enjoy the esteem of the wise and good ? The wise and good turn with disgust from the man who lawlessly aims at his neighbour's life. Is it honourable to serve your country? That man cruelly injures her, who, from private pique, calls his fellow-citizen into the dubious field. Is infidelity honourable ? That man forswears his faith, who turns against the bowels of his countrymen, weapons put into his hand for their defence. Are generosity, humanity, sympathy, honourable ? That man is superlatively base, who mingles the tears of the widow and orphan, with the blood of a husband and father. Do refinement, and courtesy, and benignity, entwine with the laurels of the brave? The blot is yet to be wiped from the soldier's name, that he cannot treat his brother with the decorum of a gentleman, unless the pistol or the dagger be every

moment at his heart. Let the votaries of honour look at their deeds. Let them compare their doctrine with this horrible comment. Ah! what avails it to a distracted na: tion that HAMILTON was murdered for a punctilio of honour ? My flesh shivers ! Is this, indeed, our state of society ? Are transcendant worth and talent to be a capital indictment before the tribunal of ambition ? Is the Angel of Death to record, for sanguinary retribution, every word which the collision of political opinion may extort from a political man ? Are integrity and candour to be at the mercy of the assassin ? And systematic crime to trample under foot, or smite into the grave, all that is yet venerable in our humbled land ? My countrymen, the land is defiled with blood unrighteously shed. Its cry, disregarded on earth, has gone up to the throne of God; and this day does our punishment reveal our sin. It is time for us to awake. The voice of moral virtue, the voice of domestic alarm, the voice of the fatherless and widow, the voice of a nation's wrong, the voice of Hamilton's blood, the voice of impending judga ment, calls for a remedy. At this hour Heaven's high reproof is sounding from Maine to Georgia, and from the shores of the Atlantic to the banks of the Mississippi. If we refuse obedi. ence, every drop of blood spilled in single combat, will lie at our door, and will be recompensed when our cup is full. We have, then, our choice, either to coerce iniquity, or prepare for desolation, and in the mean time, to make our nation, though infant in years, yet mature in vice, the scorn and the abhorrence of civilized man!

FATHERS, friends, countrymen ! the dying breath of HAMILTON recommended to you the Christian's hope. His single testimony outweighs all the cavils of the sciolist, and all the jeers of the profane. Who will venture to pronounce a fable, that doctrine of life and immortality,” which his profound and irradiating mind embraced as the truth of God?". When you are to die, you will find no source of peace but in the faith of Jesus. Cultivate for your present repose and your

future consolation, what our departed friend declared to be the support of his expiring moments : tender reliance on the mer.

cies of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus so Christ.?

HAMILTON ! we will cherish thy memory, we will embalm thy fame ! Fare thee well, thou unparalleled man, farewell for ever!

"

Lord MOIRA's Speech, to the Members of the College at

Calcutta, Among the languages of modern Europe, specious but subordinate pretensions have been advanced to cadence, terseness, or dextrous ambiguity of insinuation, while the sober majesty of the English tongue stood aloof and disdained a competition on the ground of such inferior particularities. I even think that we have erred in regard to Greek and Latin. Our sense

of the inestimable benefit we have reaped from the treasures of taste and science, which they have handed down to us, has led us into an extravagance of reverence for them. They have high intrinsic merit, without doubt, but it is a bigotted gratitude, and an unweighed admiration, which seduces us to prostrate the character of the English tongue before their altars. Every language can furnish to genius casually a forcible expression;

and a thousand turns of neatness and delicacy may be found in most of them; but I will confidently assert, that, in that which should be the first object of all language, precision, the English tongue surpasses them all; while, in richness of colouring and extent of power, it is exceeded by none, if equalled by any. What subject is there within the boundless range of imagination, which some British author has not clothed in British phrase, with a nicety of definition, and accuracy of portraiture, a brilliancy of tint, a delicacy of discrimination, and a force of impression, which must be sterling, because every other nation of Europe, as well as our own, admits their perfection with enthusiasm ? Are the fibres of the heart to be made to. tremble with anxiety, to glow with animation, to thrill with horror, to startle with amaze, to shrink with awe, to throb with pity, or to vibrate in sympathy with the tone of pictured love, know

ye not the mighty magicians of our country, whose potent spell has commanded and continues irresistibly to command those varied impulses ? Was it a puny engine, a feeble art, that achieved such wondrous workings ? What was the sorcery? Justly conceived collocation of words is the whole secrei of this witchery, a charm within the reach of any one of you and remember that there was a period, not remote, when all these recorded beauties of our language were a blank ; were without form, and void. The elements of those compositions, which now so uncontroulably delight and elevate our souls, existed; but they existed as dormant powers, inert capacities; they were the unconnected notes of the gamut; the untouched strings of the harp. The music was in the instrument; but the master's hand had not thrown itself across the chords to rouse them from their slumber, and bid them scatter ecstacies. Then do you

make trial of their force ; fear not that the combinations are exhausted. Possess yourselves of the necessary energies, and be assured, you will find the language exuberant beyond the demand of your intensest thought. Enjoying the treasures thus heaped up, we do not deign attention to the efforts by which they have been collected. How many positions are there, that form the basis of our every day's reflection; the matter for the ordinary operation of our minds, which were

[ocr errors]

toiled after, perhaps for ages, before they were seized and rendered comprehensible? How many subjects are there, which, we must be severally conscious, we ourselves have strived at, as if we saw them floating in an atmosphere just above us, and found the arm of our intellect but just too short to reach them and then comes a happier genius, who, in a fortunate moment, and from some vantage ground, arrests the meteor in its flight; grasps the fleeting phantom : drags it from the skies to earth; condenses that which was but the impalpable corruscation of spirit; fetters that which was but the lightning glance of thought; and having so mastered it, bestows it as a perpetual possession and heritage on mankind ? With an accumulation of such magnificent bequests you begin your career.

You will set out with numberless patterns of excellence for your guidance; and pathways cut for you up all the steeps of science, Think with what advantages over your predecessors you start, and then think what ought to be expected from you,

Extract from VERPLANCK's Address before the New York

Historical Society. The study of the history of most other nations, fills the mind with sentiments not unlike those which the American traveller feels on entering the venerable and lofty cathedral of some proud old city of Europe. Its solemn grandeur, its vastness, its obscurity, strike awe to his heart. From the richly painted windows, filled with sacred emblems and strange antique forms, a dim religious light falls around. A thousand recollections of romance, and poetry, and legendary story come crowding in upon him. He is surrounded

by the tombs of the mighty dead, rich with the labours of ancient art, and emblazoned with the pomp of heraldry.

What names does he read upon them? Those of princes and nobles who are now remembered only for their vices, and of sovereigns, at whose death no tears were shed, and whose inemories lived not an hour in the affections of their people. There, too, he sees other names, long familiar to him for their guilty or ambiguous fame. There rest, the blood-stained soldier of fortune-the orator, wh was ever the ready apologist of tyranny-great scholars, who were the pensioned flatterers of power and poets, who profaned their heaven-given talent to pamper the vices of a corrupted court.

Our own history, on the contrary, like that poetical temple of Fame, which was reared by the imagination of Chaucer,

« ForrigeFortsæt »