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The clouds and sunbeams o'er his I
No vestige where they flew.
The annals of the human ráce,
3. HENRY CLAY ON THE COMPROMISE, 1850.
Sir, what vicissitudes do we not pass through in this short mortal career of ours? Eight years, or nearly eight years ago, I took my leave finally, and, as I supposed, for ever from this body. At that time I did not conceive of the possibility of ever again returning to it. And if my private wishes and particular inclinations, and the desire during the short remnant of my days to remain in repose and quiet, could have prevailed, you would never have seen me occupying the seat which I now occupy upon this floor. The Legislature of the State to which I belong, unsolicited by me, chose to designate me for this station, and I have come here, sir, in obedience to a sense of stern duty, with no personal objects, no private views, now or hereafter, to gratify. I know, sir, the jealousies, the fears, the apprehensions which are engendered by the existence of that party spirit to which I have referred; but if there be in my hearing now, in or out of this Capitol, any one who hopes, in his race for honors and elevation, for higher honors and higher elevation than that which he may
occupy, I beg him to believe that I, at least, will never jostle him in the pursuit of those honors or that elevation. I beg him to be perfectly persuaded that, if my wishes prevail, my name shall never be used in competition with his. I beg to assure him that, when my service is terminated in this body, my mission, so far as respects the public affairs of this world and upon this earth, is closed, and closed, if my wishes prevail, for ever. But, sir, it is impossible for us to be blind to the facts. which are daily transpiring before us. It is impossible for us not to perceive that party spirit and future elevation mix more or less in all our affairs, in all our deliberations. At a moment when the White House itself is in danger of conflagration, instead of all hands uniting to extinguish the flames, we are contending about who shall be its next occupant. When a dreadful crevasse has occurred, which threatens inundation and destruction to all around it, we are contesting and disputing about the profits of an estate which is threatened with total submersion.
Mr. President, it is passion, passion-party, party, and intemperance-that is all I dread in the adjustment of the great questions which unhappily at this time divide our distracted country. Sir, at this moment we have in the legislative bodies of this Capitol and in the States, twenty-odd furnaces in full blast, emitting heat and passion, and intemperance, and diffusing them throughout the whole extent of this broad land. Two months ago all was calm in comparison to the present moment. All now is uproar, confusion, and menace to the existence of the Union, and to the happiness and
safety of this people. Sir, I implore Senators, I entreat them, by all that they expect hereafter, and by all that is dear to them here below, to repress the ardor of these passions, to look to their country, to its interests, to listen to the voice of reason-not as it shall be attempted to be uttered by me, for I am not so presumptuous as to indulge the hope that any thing I may say will avert the effects which I have described, but to listen to their own reason, their own judgment, their own good sense, in determining upon what is best to be done for our country in the actual posture in which we find her. Sir, to this great object have my efforts been directed during this whole session. I have cut myself off from all the usual enjoyments of social life, I have confined myself almost entirely, with very few exceptions, to my own chamber, and from the beginning of the session to the present time my thoughts have been anxiously directed to the object of finding some plan, of proposing some mode of accommodation, which should once more restore the blessings of concord, harmony, and peace to this great country. I am not vain enough to suppose that I have been successful in the accomplishment of this object, but I have presented a scheme; and allow me to say to honorable Senators that, if they find in that plan any thing that is defective, if they find in it. any thing that is worthy of acceptance but is susceptible of improvement by amendment, it seems to me that the true and patriotic course is not to denounce it, but to improve it-not to reject without examination any project of accommodation having for its object the restoration of harmony in this country, but to look at it to see if it be susceptible of elaboration or improvement, so as
to accomplish the object which I indulge the hope is common to all and every one of us, to restore peace and quiet, and harmony and happiness to this country. ***
Mr. President, I have said—what I solemnly believe -that the dissolution of the Union and war are identical and inseparable; that they are convertible terms.
Such a war, too, as that would be, following the dissolution of the Union! Sir, we may search the pages of history, and none so furious, so bloody, so implacable, so exterminating, from the wars of Greece down, including those of the Commonwealth of England, and the revolution of France-none, none of them raged with such violence, or was ever conducted with such bloodshed and enormities, as will that war which shall follow that disastrous event-if that event ever happen-the dissolution of the Union.
And what would be its termination? Standing armies and navies, to an extent draining the revenues of each portion of the dissevered empire, would be created; exterminating war would follow-not a war of two or three years, but of interminable duration—an exterminating war would follow-until some Philip or Alexander, some Cæsar or Napoleon, would rise to cut the Gordian knot, and solve the problem of the capacity of man for self-government, and crush the liberties of both the dissevered portions of this Union. Can you doubt it? Look at history-consult the pages of all history, ancient or modern look at human nature-look at the character of the contest in which you would be engaged in the supposition of a war following the dissolution of the Union, such as I have suggested-and I ask you if it is possible for you to doubt that the final
but perhaps distant termination of the whole will be some despot treading down the liberties of the people ?-that the final result will be the extinction of this last and glorious light, which is leading all mankind, who are gazing upon it, to cherish hope and anxious expectation that the liberty which prevails here will sooner or later be advanced throughout the civilized world? Can you, Mr. President, lightly contemplate the consequences? Can you yield yourself to a torrent of passion, amidst dangers which I have depicted in colors far short of what would be the reality, if the event should ever happen? I implore gentlemen-I adjure them from the South or the North, by all they hold dear in this world-by all their love of liberty-by all their veneration for their ancestors-by all their regard for posterity-by all their gratitude to Him who has bestowed upon them such unnumbered blessings-by all the duties which they owe to mankind, and all the duties they owe to themselves— by all these considerations, I implore upon them to pause-solemnly to pause-at the edge of the precipice before the fearful and disastrous leap is taken in the yawning abyss below, from which none who take it will ever return in safety.
And, finally, Mr. President, I implore, as the best blessing which Heaven can bestow upon me upon earth, that if the direful and sad event of the dissolution of the Union shall happen, I may not survive to behold the sad and heart-rending spectacle.
6. NATIONAL CHARACTER FROM NATIONAL RECOLLECTIONS.-E. Everett.
How is the spirit of a free people to be formed, and animated, and cheered, but out of the storehouse of its