« AnkstesnisTęsti »
hopes for the future. The aged sat down; but they wept not. They should soon be at rest in fairer regions, where the Great Spirit dwelt, in a home prepared for the brave, beyond the western skies.
Braver men never lived; truer men never drew the bow. They had courage, and fortitude, and sagacity, and perseverance beyond most of the human race. They shrank from no dangers, and they feared no hardships. If they had the vices of savage life, they had the virtues also. They were true to their country, their friends, and their homes. If they forgave not injury, meither did they forget kindness. If their vengeance was terrible, their fidelity and generosity were unconquerable also. Their love, like their hate, stopped not on this side of the grave.
But where are they? Where are the villages, and warriors, and youth; the sachems and the tribes; the hunters and their families? They have perished. They are consumed. The wasting pestilence has not alone done the mighty work. No; nor famine, nor war. There has been a mightier power, a moral canker, which hath eaten into their heart cores; a plague, which the touch of the white man communicated; a poison which betrayed them into a lingering ruin. The winds of the Atlantic fan not a single region which they may now call their own. Already the last feeble remnants of the race are preparing for their journey beyond the Mississippi. I see them leave their miserable homes, the aged, the helpless, the women, and the warriors, "few and faint, yet fearless still."
The ashes are cold on their native hearths. The smoke no longer curls round their lowly cabins. They move on with a slow, unsteady step. The white man is upon their heels, for terror or despatch; but they heed him not. They turn to take a last look of their deserted villages. They cast a last glance upon the graves of their fathers. They shed no tears; they utter no cries; they heave no groans. There is something in their hearts which passes speech. There is something in their looks, not of vengeance or submission, but of hard necessity, which stifles both; which chokes all utterance; which has no aim or method. It is courage absorbed in despair. They linger but for a moment. Their look is onward. They have passed the fatal stream. It shall never be repassed by them-no, never! Yet there lies not between
us and them an impassable gulf. They know and feel that there is for them still one remove further, not distant, nor unseen. It is to the general burial-ground of the race.
LXVIII.-THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
THE United States of America constitute an essential portion of a great political system, embracing all the civilized nations of the earth. At a period when the force of moral opinion is rapidly increasing, they have the precedence in the practice and in the defence of the equal rights of man. The sovereignty of the people is here a conceded axiom, and the laws, established upon that basis, are cherished with faithful patriotism. While the nations of Europe aspire after change, our Constitution engages the fond admiration of the people, by which it has been established. Prosperity follows the execution of even justice; invention is quickened by the freedom of competition; and labour rewarded with sure and unexampled returns. Domestic peace is maintained without the aid of a military establishment; public sentiment permits the existence of but few standing troops, and those only along the seaboard and on the frontiers. A gallant navy protects our commerce, which spreads its banners on every sea, and extends its enterprise to every clime. Our diplomatic relations connect us on terms of equality and honest friendship with the chief powers of the world; while we avoid entangling participation in their intrigues, their passions, and their wars. Our national resources are developed by an earnest culture of the arts of peace. Every man may enjoy the fruits of his industry; every mind is free to publish its convictions. Our government, by its organization, is necessarily identified with the interests of the people, and relies exclusively on their attachment for its durability and support. Even the enemies of the State, if there are any among us, have liberty to express their opinions undisturbed; and are safely tolerated, where reason is left free to combat their errors. Nor is the Constitution a dead letter, unalterably fixed; it has the capacity for improvement; adopting whatever changes time and the public will may require, and safe from decay, as long as that will retains its energy. New States are forming in the wilderness; canals, intersecting our plains and crossing our highlands, open numerous channels to internal commerce;
manufactures prosper along our watercourses; the use of steam on our rivers and railroads annihilates distance by the acceleration of speed. Our wealth and population, already giving us a place in the first rank of nations, are so rapidly cumulative, that the former is increased fourfold, and the latter is doubled in every period of twenty-two or twenty-three years. There is no national debt; the community is opulent; the government economical, and the public treasury full. Religion, neither persecuted nor paid by the State, is sustained. by the regard for public morals and the convictions of an enlightened faith. Intelligence is diffused with unparalleled universality; a free press teems with the choicest productions of all nations and ages. There are more daily journals in the United States than in the world beside. A public document of general interest is, within a month, reproduced in at least a million of copies, and is brought within the reach of every freeman in the country. An immense concourse of emigrants of the most various lineage, is perpetually crowding to our shores; and the principles of liberty, uniting all interests by the operation of equal laws, blend the discordant elements into harmonious union. Other governments are convulsed by the innovations and reforms of neighboring States; our Constitution, fixed in the affections of the people, from whose choice it has sprung, neutralizes the influence of foreign principles, and fearlessly opens an asylum to the virtuous, the unfortunate, and the oppressed of every nation.
And yet it is but little more than two centuries, since the oldest of our States received its first permanent colony. Before that time the whole territory was an unproductive waste. Throughout its wide extent the arts had not erected a monument. Its only inhabitants were a few scattered tribes of feeble barbarians, destitute of commerce and of political connection. The axe and the ploughshare were unknown. The soil, which had been gathering fertility from the repose of centuries, was lavishing its strength in magnificent but useless vegetation. In the view of civilization, the immense domain was but a solitude.. BANCROFT.
LXIX. THE FIRST SETTLERS OF NEW ENGLAND.
SOME of the Puritans having conceived the design of withdrawing to Virginia, where they hoped that distance would at least mitigate the violence of oppression, a small party of them did actually repair thither; and a large number were preparing to follow, when Bancroft apprised of their intention, obtained a proclamation from the king, commanding that none of his subjects should settle in Virginia without the authority of an express license under the great seal. Thus harrassed and oppressed in England, and denied a refuge in Virginia, the Puritans began to retire in considerable numbers to the Protestant States of the Continent of Europe. In the year 1610, a congregation of Brownists, expelled by royal and ecclesiastical tyranny from their native land, removed to Leyden, where they were permitted to establish themselves under the ministry of their pastor, John Robinson. Enjoying the counsel and direction of this excellent person, the English exiles composing this congregation remained there for ten years, in harmony with each other, and in peace with their neighbors. But at the end of that period, the same pious views that had prompted their original departure from England invited them to undertake a more distant migration. They beheld with strong concern the prevalence around them of manners which they esteemed loose and profane; more particularly the neglect among the Dutch of a reverential observance of Sunday; and they reflected with apprehension on the danger to which their children were exposed from the natural contagion of habits so inimical to serious piety. Their country, too, still retained a hold on their affections; and they were loath to behold their posterity commingled and identified with the Dutch population. The smallness of their numbers, together with the difficulties occasioned by difference of language discouraged them from attempting to propagate in Holland the principles which, with so much peril and suffering, they had hitherto maintained; and the conduct of the English Government extinguished every hope of toleration in their native land. In these circumstances, it occurred to them that they might combine the indulgence of their patriotic attachment with the propagation of their religious principles, by establishing themselves in some remote, sequestered part of the British dominions; and after many days of earnest supplication
for the counsel and direction of Heaven, they unanimously determined to transport themselves and their families to the territory of America. It was resolved that a select portion of the congregation should proceed thither before the rest, to prepare a settlement for the whole; and that the main body meanwhile should continue at Leyden with their pastor. In choosing the particular scene of their establishment, they hesitated for some time between the territory of Guiana, of which Sir Walter Raleigh had published a most dazzling and attractive description (mainly the offspring of his own lively and fertile imagination), and the province of Virginia, to which they finally gave the preference; but Providence had ordained that their residence should be established in New England.
By the intervention of agents, whom they deputed to solicit the sanction of the English Government to their enterprise, they represented to the king "that they were well weaned from the delicate milk of their mother country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange land; that they were knit together in a strict and sacred bond, by virtue of which they held themselves bound to take care of the good of each other, and of the whole; and that it was not with them as with other men, whom small things could discourage, or small discontent cause to wish themselves at home again. The king, wavering between his desire to promote the colonization of America, and his reluctance to suffer the consciences of any portion of his subjects to be emancipated from his control, refused to grant them a charter, assuring the full enjoyment of ecclesiastical liberty; but promised to connive at their practices, and to refrain from molesting them. Then, having procured from the Plymouth Company, a grant of a tract of land, situated, as was supposed, within the limits of its patent, some members of the congregation sold their estates, and expended the purchase-money in the equipment of two vessels, in which a hundred and twenty of their number were appointed to embark from an English port for North America.
All things being prepared for the departure of this detachment of the congregation from Delfthaven, where they took leave of their associates, for the English port of ultimate embarkation, Robinson and his people devoted their last meeting in Europe to an act of solemn and social worship, intended to implore a blessing from Heaven upon the hazardous enterprise. After this he exchanged with them embraces