Page images

with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counsellor in the affairs of this Government whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering, not how the Union should be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the People when it shall be broken up and destroyed.

While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that, in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise ! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the Sun in Heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood ! Let their last feeble and lingering glance, rather, behold the gorgeous Ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured,—bearing, for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as—What is all this worth? nor those other words of delusion and folly-Liberty first and Union afterwards—but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole Heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable !



I SEE that banner proudly wave

Yes, proudly waving yet ;
Not a stripe is torn from the broad array,

Not a single star is set ;
And the eagle, with unruffled plume,
Is soaring aloft in the welkin dome.

Not a leaf is plucked from the branch he bears ;

From his grasp not an arrow has flown; The mist that obstructed his vision is past,

And the murmur of discord is gone : For he sees, with a glance over mountain and plain, The Union unbroken, from Georgia to Maine.

Far southward, in that sunny clime,

Where bright magnolias bloom,
And the orange with the lime tree vies

In shedding rich perfume,
A sound was heard like the ocean's roar,
As its surges break on the rocky shore.

Was it the voice of the tempest loud,

As it felled some lofty tree,
Or a sudden flash from a passing storm

Of heaven's artillery?
But it died away, and the sound of doves
Is heard again in the scented groves.

The links are all anited still

That form the golden chain,
And peace and plenty smile around,

Throughout the wide domain :
How feeble is language, how cold is the lay,
Compared with the joy of this festival day-

To see that banner waving yet

Ay, waving proud and high-
No rent in all its ample folds,

No stain of crimson dye:
And the eagle spreads his pinions fair,
And mounts aloft in the fields of air.



This is that day of the year which announced to mankind the great fact of American Independence. This fresh and brilliant morning blesses our vision with another beholding of the birth-day of our nation : and we see that nation, of recent origin, now among the most considerable and powerful, and spreading over the continent from sea to sea.

“Westward the course of empire takes its way;

The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day:

Time's noblest offering is the last.”

On the day of the Declaration of Independence, our illustrious fathers performed the first scene in the last great act of this drama : one, in real importance, infinitely exceeding that for which the great English poet invoked

" A muse of fire,

A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene."

The Muse inspiring our fathers was the Genins of Liberty, all on fire with a sense of oppression, and a resolution to throw it off ; the whole world was the stage, and higher characters than princes trod it ; and, instead of monarch, countries, and nations, and the age, beheld the swelling scene. How well

the characters were cast, and how well each acted his part, and what emotions the whole performance excited, let history, now and hereafter, tell.

On the Fourth of July, 1776, the representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, declared that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. This declaration, made by most patriotic and resolute men, trusting in the justice of their cause, and the protection of Heaven, and yet made not without deep solicitude and anxiety,—has now stood for seventy-five years, and still stands. It was sealed in blood. It has met dangers, and overcome them ; it has had enemies, and conquered them ; it has had detractors, and abashed them all, it has had doubting friends, but it has cleared all the doubts away; and now, to-day, raising its' august form higher than the clouds, twenty millions of people contemplate it with hallowed love, and the world beholds it, and the consequences which have followed from it, with profound admiration.

This aniversary animates, and gladdens, and unites, all American hearts. On other days of the year we may be party men, indulging in controversies more or less important to the public good; we may have likes and dislikes, and we may maintain our political differences, often with warmth, and sometimes with angry feelings. But to-day we are Americans all ; and all nothing but Americans. As the great luminary over our heads, dissipating mists and fogs, now cheers the whole hemisphere, so do the associations connected with this

« PreviousContinue »