Page images
PDF
EPUB

lators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity; which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which, vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.

VI.—THE SWORD OF WASHINGTON AND THE STAFF

OF FRANKLIN.

(JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.) John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, second President of the United States,

was born at Boston in 1769. He himself became President of the United

States in 1825. Died 1848. George Washington, born 1732; died 1799. Benjamin Franklin, born 1706 ;

died 1790.

THE Sword of Washington! the Staff of Franklin ! O sir, what associations are linked in adamant with these names! Washington, whose sword was never drawn but in the cause of his country, and never sheathed when wielded in his country's cause! Franklin, the philosopher of the thunderbolt, the printing-press, and the ploughshare ! What names are these in the scanty catalogue of the benefactors of human kind! Washington and Franklin ! What other two men, whose lives belong to the eighteenth century of Christendom, have left a deeper impression of themselves upon the age in which they lived, and upon all after time!

WASHINGTON, the warrior and the legislator! In war, contending by the wager of battle for the independence of his country, and for the freedom of the human race, --ever manifesting, amid its horrors, by precept and by example, his reverence for the laws of peace, and for the tenderest sympathies of humanity ;-in peace, soothing the ferocious spirit of discord among his own countrymen into harmony and union, and giving to that very sword, now presented to his country, a charm more potent than that attributed, in ancient times, to the lyre of Orpheus.

FRANKLIN! the mechanic of his own fortune; teaching in early youth, under the shackles of indigence, the way to wealth, and, in the shade of obscurity, the path to greatness; in the maturity of manhood, disarming the thunder of its terrors, the lightning of its fatal blast, and wresting from the tyrant's hand the still more afflictive sceptre of oppression : while descending into the vale of years, traversing the Atlantic Ocean, braving, in the dead of winter, the battle and the breeze, bearing in his hand the Charter of Independence which he had contributed to form, and tendering from the self-created nation to the mightiest monarchs of Europe, the olive-branch of peace, the mercurial wand of commerce, and the amulet of protection and safety to the man of peace, on the pathless ocean, from the inexorable cruelty and merciless rapacity of war.

And finally, in the last stage of life, with fourscore winters upon his head, under the torture of an incurable disease, returning to his native land, closing his days as the chief magistrate of his adopted commonwealth, after contributing by his counsels, under the presidency of Washington, and recording his name, under the sanction of devout prayer, invoked by him to God, to that Constitution under the authority of which we are here assembled, as the representatives of the North American people, to receive, in their name and for them, these venerable relics of the wise, the valiant, and the good founders of our great confederated republic,-these sacred symbols of our golden age. May they be deposited among the archives of our government! And may every American who shall hereafter behold them, ejaculate a mingled offering of praise to that Supreme Ruler of the Universe, by whose tender mercies our Union has been hitherto preserved, through all the vicissitudes and revolutions of this turbulent world; and of prayer for the continuance of these blessings, by the dispensations of Providence, to our beloved country, from age to age, till time shall be no more !

VII.-RICHARD LALOR SHEIL'S REPLY TO LORD LYNDHURST.

(SHEIL.)

Mr. Sheil was a native of Ireland. He distinguished himself in early life as a

writer of dramas. But it was in the political arena that he gained his brighter laurels. He was for some time Master of the Mint, and afterwards British

Minister at Florence, where he died in 1851. The venerable Lord Lyndhurst is of an Irish family, but was born in Boston,

United States of America, in 1772. His father was a painter. He has frequently held office in the government, and in 1827 became Lord Chancellor of England.

[ocr errors]

THE Duke of Wellington is not, I am inclined to believe, a man of excitable temperament. His mind is of a cast too martial to be easily moved; but, notwithstanding his habitual inflexibility, I cannot help thinking, that, when he heard his countrymen (for we are his countrymen), designated by a phrase as offensive as the abundant vocabulary of his eloquent confederate could supply-I cannot help thinking that he ought to have recollected the many fields of fight in which we have been contributors to his renown. Yes, “the battles, sieges, fortunes,” that he has passed, ought to have brought back upon him-he ought to have remembered—that, from the earliest achievement in which he displayed that military genius which has placed him foremost in the annals of modern warfare, down to that last and surpassing combat, which has made his name imperishable from Assaye to Waterloo—the Irish soldiers, with whom our armies are filled, were the inseparable auxiliaries to the glory with which his unparalleled successes have been crowned. Whose were the athletic arms that drove your bayonets at Vimiera through those phalanxes that never reeled in the shock of war before? What desperate valour climbed the steeps and filled the moats of Badajos ? All-all his victories should have rushed and crowded back upon his memory :—Vimiera, Badajos, Salamanca, Albuera, Toulouse, and last of all, the greatest ! Tell me, for you were there,—I appeal to the gallant soldier before me, * from whose opinions I differ, but who bears, I know, a generous heart in an intrepid breast; tell me, for you must needs remember,-on that day, when the destinies of mankind were trembling in the balance-while, death fell in showers upon them-when the artillery of France, levelled with a precision of the most deadly science, played upon them-when her legions, incited by the voice, and inspired by the example, of their mighty leader, rushed again and again to the onset-tell me, if, for an instant, when to hesitate for that instant was to be lost, the “aliens” blenched? And when at length the moment for the last and decisive movement had arrived, and the valour which had so long been wisely checked was at length let loose when with words familiar but immortal, the great captain exclaimed, “Up, lads, and at them !"—tell me, if Ireland with less heroic valour than the natives of your own glorious isle precipitated herself upon the foe? The blood of England, of Scotland, and of Ireland, flowed in the same stream-on the same field. When the still morning dawned, their dead lay cold and stark together-in the same deep pit their bodies were deposited ;—the green corn of spring is now breaking from their commingled dust—the dew falls from heaven upon their union in the grave. Partakers in every peril-in the glory shall we not be permitted to participate? and shall we be told as a requital, that we are estranged from the noble country for whose salvation our life-blood was poured out ?

* Sir Henry Hardinge.

VIII.-CURRAN ON FREEDOM.

(JOHN PHILPOT CURRAN.)

John Philpot Curran, the celebrated barrister and wit, was born near Cork in

1750, and died in 1817.

a

I put it to your oaths :- do you think that a blessing of that kind—that a victory obtained by justice over bigotry and oppression-should have a stigma cast upon it, by an ignominious sentence upon men bold and honest enough to propose that measure £—to propose the redeeming of religion from the abuses of the Church, the reclaiming of three millions of men from bondage, and giving liberty to all who had a right to demand it !-giving, I say, in the so much censured

Ι words of this paper, giving “ Universal Emancipation !" I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commensurate with, and inseparable from British soil; which proclaims, even to the stranger and sojourner, the moment he sets his foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of Universal Emancipation. No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion, incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burnt upon him; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery ;—the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty ; his body swells beyond the measure of the chains that burst from around him; and he stands-redeemed, regenerated, and disinthralled, by the irresistible genius of " Universal Emancipation.”

IX.—THE SUSPENSION OF THE HABEAS CORPUS ACT.

(C. J. Fox.) The Right Honourable Charles James Fox was third son of the Right Honour

able Henry Fox (afterwards Lord Holland of Foxley), and of Lady Georgiana Caroline, eldest daughter of Charles, second Duke of Richinond. He was born in 1749, and died in 1806,—the same year which proved fatal to his great

rival, William Pitt. The Habeas Corpus Act was passed in the reign of Charles II., 1679. It provides

that no British subject can be kept in prison beyond a certain period, without a public examination of the charges brought against him. It has been occasionally suspended, in cases of extreme emergency; but then only by the consent of Parliament. On the occasion referred to in the following speech (1794) Mr. Pitt proposed its suspension in consequence of a message from the King.

AGAINST whom, I would ask, is the thunder of government levelled ? Is it against men of influence? No. Such a convention* could have no influence, and it would be ridiculous in government to stop them. The Constitution has too many admirers, has too many defenders, to have any

* Certain societies who designated themselves “The British Convention."

« PreviousContinue »