« PreviousContinue »
you to show me a desperately indebted people any where who can bear a regular sober government. I throw the challenge to all who hear me. I say that the character of the good old Virginia Planter-the man who owned from five to twenty slaves, or less, who lived by hard work, and who paid his debts, is passed away. A new order of things is come. The period has arrived of living by one's wits-of living by contracting debts that one cannot payand above all, of living by office-hunting.
Sir, what do we see? Bankrupts-branded bankrupts-giving great dinners-sending their children to the most expensive schools-giving grand parties-and just as well received as any body in society. I say, that in such a state of things the old Constitution was too good for them; they could not bear it. No, Sir-they could not bear a freehold suffrage and a property representation.
I have always endeavoured to do the people justice— but I will not flatter them-I will not pander to their appetite for change. I will do nothing to provide for change. I will not agree to any rule of future apportionment, or to any provision for future changes called amendments to the Constitution. They who love change-who delight in public confusion-who wish to feed the cauldron, and make it bubble-may vote if they please for future changes. But by what spell-by what formula are you going to bind the people to all future time? You may make what entries upon parchment you please. Give me a Constitution that will last for half a century—that is all I wish for. No Constitution that you can make will last the one half of half a century.
Sir, I will stake any thing short of my salvation, that those who are malcontent now, will be more malcontent three years hence than they are at this day. I have no favour for this Constitution.-I shall vote against its adoption, and I shall advise all the people of my district to set their faces-aye-and their shoulders against it. But if we are to have it-let us not have it with its death-warrant in its very face, with the Sardonic grin of death upon its coun
SECOND EXTRACT FROM THE SAME AUTHOR.
MR CHAIRMAN,-I must notice a topic of the gravest character which has been several times brought to our view, by
eastern members, in the course of debate. I mean a separation of the state-at one time gently insinuated at another wrapped up in beautiful rhetorical language, and finally expressed in what has been emphatically called plain old English. I am not disposed, Sir, to regard such menaces, because I am aware of the extremities of intellectual warfare, and can estimate the effervescence of momentary excitement. They would not be impressed upon my mind, but for a corresponding sentiment which I have reason to believe prevails amongst the western people. I do not say that if slave representation should be forced upon them, they will raise the standard of rebellion, or in any wise resist the constituted authorities. Far from it. But within the pale of the constitution and laws, they will carry their opposition to the utmost limit; and the members of this Committee can estimate the feelings of hostility by which it will be accompanied. The final result will be a separation of the state. No one can doubt that if such an event should be perseveringly, though peaceably sought, by a large portion of the state, it would be ultimately conceded.
I beg, Sir, to be distinctly understood. There is no one in this Committee to whom the idea of such a separation is more abhorrent than myself. I believe there is no man here who wishes separation for its own sake, or who could contemplate it for a moment, except as a refuge from greater evils.
We should look forward to such a calamity, only to deprecate and avoid it. Surely, it will not,-must not be.— Separate Virginia! Shall she be shorn of her strength, her influence, and her glory? Shall her voice of command, of persuasion, and reproof, be no longer heard in the national councils? Shall she no more be looked up to as the guide of the strong, the guardian of the weak, and the protector of the oppressed? Break in twain the most precious jewel, and the separated parts are comparatively worthless. Divide Virginia, and both the East and the West will sink into insignificance, neglect and contempt.
I would to God, that for this single occasion only, I could utter my feelings in
'Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.'
I would kindle a flame, which should find an altar in every heart-which should burn to ashes the prejudices of the hour, and the petty interests of the day, and throw upon our path of duty a strong and steady light, directing us
forward to the permanent welfare, safety, and honour of Virginia.
SPEECH OF CATILINE IN THE ROMAN SENATE, ON HEARING HIS SENTENCE OF BANISHMENT.
BANISHED from Rome! what's banished, but set free
Or make the infant's sinew strong as steel.
WILLIAM TELL IN THE FIELD OF GRUTLI.
Tell. YE crags and peaks, I'm with you once again! I hold to you the hands you first beheld,
'To show they still are free. Methinks I hear
A spirit in your echoes answer me,
I saw an eagle wheeling near its brow
Of measuring the ample range beneath
THE TORCH OF LIBERTY.
I SAW it all in Fancy's glass-
"T was like a torch-race-such as they
Of Greece performed, in ages gone,
Passed the bright torch triumphant on.
I saw the expectant nations stand,
To catch the coming flame in turn-
The clear, but struggling glory burn.
And, oh, their joy, as it came near,
And each, as she received the flame,
From Albion first, whose ancient shrine
And lit a flame, like Albion's, steady.
The splendid gift then Gallia took,
And, like a wild Bacchante, raising The brand aloft, its sparkles shook,
As she would set the world a-blazing!
And, when she fired her altar, high
Shrunk, almost blinded by the glare!
Next, Spain, so new was light to her,
Leaped at the torch-but, ere the spark She flung upon her shrine could stir,
'T was quenched-and all again was dark.
Yet, no-not quenched-a treasure, worth
And shone, a beacon, in all eyes!
Who next received the flame? alas !
Unworthy Naples.-Shame of shames, That ever through such hands should pass That brightest of all earthly flames!
Scarce had her fingers touched the torch,