Page images

So thought the countries of Demosthenes and the Spartan, yet Leonidas is trampled by the timid slave, and Athens insulted by the servile, mindless, and enervate Ottoman! In his hurried march, Time has but looked at their imagined immortality, and all its vanities, from the palace to the tomb, have, with their ruins, erased the very impression of his footsteps! The days of their glory are as if they had never been; and the island that was then a speck, rude and neglected in the barren ocean, now rivals the ubiquity of their commerce, the glory of their arms, the fame of their philosophy, the eloquence of their senate, and the inspiration of their bards! Who shall say, then, contemplating the past, that England, proud and potent as she appears, may not one day be what Athens is, and the young America yet soar to be what Athens was! Who shall say, when the European column shall have mouldered, and the night of barbarism obscured its very ruins, that that mighty continent may not emerge from the horizon, to rule for its time sovereign of the ascendant!

Such, Sir, is the natural progress of human operations, and such the unsubstantial mockery of human pride. But I should, perhaps, apologize for this digression. The tombs are at best a sad although an instructive subject. At all events, they are ill suited to such an hour as this. I shall endeavour to atone for it, by turning to a theme which tombs cannot inurn or revolution alter. It is the custom of your board, and a noble one it is, to deck the cup of the gay with the garland of the



great; and surely, even in the eyes of its deity, his

grape is not the less. lovely when glowing beneath the foliage of the palm-tree and the myrtle. Allow me to add one flower to the chaplet, which though it sprang in America, is no exotic. Virtue planted it, and it is naturalized every where. I see you anticipate me- I see you concur with me, that it matters very little what immediate spot may be the birth-place of such a man as Washing

No people can claim, no country can appropriate him; the boon of Providence to the human race, his fame is eternity, and his residence ereation. Though it was the defeat of our arms, and the disgrace of our policy, I almost bless the convulsion in which he had his origin. If the heavens thundered and the earth rocked, yet, when the storm passed, how pure was the climate that it cleared; how bright in the brow of the firmament was the planet which it revealed to us! In the production of Washington, it does really appear as if nature was endeavouring to improve upon herself, and that all the virtues of the ancient world were but so many studies preparatory to the patriot of the new. Individual instances no doubt there were; splendid exemplifications of some single qualification : Cæsar was merciful, Scipio was continent, Hannibal was patient; but it was reserved for Washington to blend them all in one, and like the lovely chef d'euvre of the Grecian artist, to exhibit in one glow of associated beauty, the pride of every model, and the perfection of

As a General, he marshalled the

every master.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

peasant into a veteran, and supplied by discipline the absence of experience; as a statesman, he enlarged the policy of the cabinet into the most comprehensive system of general advantage ; and such was the wisdom of his views, and the philosophy of his counsels, that to the soldier and the statesman he almost added the character of the sage! A conqueror, he was untainted with the crime of blood; a revolutionist, he was free from any stain of treason; for aggression commenced the contest, and his country called him to the command. Liberty unsheathed his sword, necessity stained, victory returned it. If he had paused here, history might have doubted what station to assign him, whether at the head of her citizens or her soldiers, her heroes or her patriots. But the last glorious act crowns his career, and banishes all hesitation. Who, like Washington, after having emancipated an hemisphere, resigned its crown, and preferred the retirement of domestic life to the adoration of a land he might be almost said to have created !

“ How shall we rank thee upon Glory's page,

Thou more than soldier and just less than sage ;
All thou hast been reflects less fame on thee,

Far less than all thou hast forborne to be ! Such, Sir, is the testimony of one not to be accused of partiality in his estimate of America. Happy, proud America! the lightnings of heaven yielded to your philosophy! The temptations of earth could not seduce your patriotism!

I have the honour, Sir, of proposing to you as a toast, The immortal memory of GEORGE WASHINGTON!









HAVING taken, in the discussions on your ques

tion, such humble share as was allotted to my station and capacity, I may be permitted to offer my ardent congratulations at the proud pinnacle on which it this day reposes.

After having combated calumniès the most atrocious, sophistries the most plausible, and perils the most appalling, that slander could invent, or ingenuity devise, or power array against you, I at length behold the assembled rank and wealth and talent of the Catholic body offering to the Legislature that appeal which cannot be rejected, if there be a Power in heaven to redress injury, or a spirit on earth to administer justice. No matter what may be the depreciations of faction or of bigotry; this earth never presented a more ennobling spectacle than

that of a Christian country suffering for her religion with the patience of a martyr, and suing for her liberties with the expostulations of a philosopher; reclaiming the bad by her piety; refuting the bigoted by her practice; wielding the Apóstle’s weapons in the patriot's cause, and at length, laden with chains and with laurels, seeking from the country she had saved the Constitution she had shielded! Little did I imagine, that in such a state of your cause, we should be called together to counteract the impediments to its success, created not by its enemies, but by those supposed to be its friends. It is a melancholy occasion; but melancholy as it is, it must be met, and met with the fortitude of men struggling in the sacred cause of liberty. I do not allude to the proclamation of your

Board; of that Board I never was a member, so I can speak impartially. It contained much talent, some learning, many virtues.

It was valuable on that account; but it was doubly valuable as being a vehicle for the individual sentiments of any Catholic, and for the aggregate sentiments of every Catholic. Those who seceded from it, do not remember that, individually, they are nothing; that as a body, they are every thing. It is not this wealthy slave, or that titled sycophant, whom the bigots dread, or the parliament respects! No, it is the body, the numbers, the rank, the property, the genius, the perseverance, the education, but, above all, the Union of the Catholics. I am far from defending every measure of the Boardperhaps I condemn some of its measures even

« PreviousContinue »