Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

love of country and to brotherly affection among citizens, touching; and the solemnity with which it urges the observance of moral duties, and impresses the power of religious obligation, gives to it the highest character of truly disinterested, sincere, parental, and Christian advice. . His pure morals and his deep sense of religious duty form, indeed, the crown. ing glory of his character."

These lessons," says Edward Everett, "are, if possible, more import, ant now than formerly. In the infancy of the republic, our very weakness was a protection from dangers, both at home and abroad, to which we are now exposed by the consciousness of our strength.” Speaking of it as the gathered wisdom of an eventful life, and as beyond all price, John J. Crittenden said, on a late occasion : "So long as we remember it, it will render our government and our liberties imperishable ; and when we forget it, it will survive in the memory, I trust in God, of some other people more worthy of it, even if it be to shame this degenerate republic. That Farewell Address contains wisdom enough, if we but attend to it-contains lessons enough to guide us in all our duties as citizens, and in all our public affairs." And Richard Rush, in a letter addressed to Col. Bissell, dated February, 1852, thus speaks on the same subject :

“ The principles embodied in that solemn document have by universal consent be come of such peculiar value and magnitude, under national views, that mere words can no longer describe them. We must take results. Combined with Washington's en. forcement of them during the first administration of our government, they have been the chief moral cause in making us what we are. We have stood upon them as on adamant. In a wonderfully brief period they have raised us to a high pitch of greatness and glory; only juvenile, however, as yet, but sufficient to have drawn forth the rational admiration of mankind. Had we not adhered to them, there is ample room for the belief that such quick and extraordinary results would never have been witnessed. We owe it, then, to ourselves, if not to the world, whose trustee for the preservation of human liberty we have often desired to be thought, to pause, to reflect, to avoid haste before departing from them in any form. Especially should we be distrustful of taking steps in a new direction, under temporary excitements appearing to be now in operation, some or others of which might not be favorable to the calm exercise of judginent.

“ The study of his character will be the more apt to end in right convictions, the more deeply it is gone into. There is a strength and universality in his principles foi governing nations which it is not easy to conceive of any thing human surpassing. They are not for this age or that for this exigency or that, Duration is written upon them. They will be of force to hold empires together, which would be shivered to pieces under the maxims as under the conduct of a Napoleon. Whilst other men, called great in their day, ground, or sink, in going down the stream of time, hís proportions hecome more visible and grand. Intrinsic superiority entered into every element of bis moral and intellectual being. All his passions were so controlled that none of evil tendency ever intruded into the government of his conduct. He secured the deliberate re

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

neration of minds the most exalted and pure. He forever carried with him the confi. dence and hurras of the masses. He was immaculate in honor, inflexible in justice, invariable in dignity. He had resources of wisdom when others were baffled, and of firmness when others were shaken. Kings respected him. The people adored him, his transcendent qualities and deeds being felt by all classes of mankind.

As tokens of this, if any single ones may be pointed out when the world is so full in all ways of his prodigious fame, may I dare to mention the homage rendered to it on two occasions, omitting others, which it happened to me to witness officially abroad ? One of them was in the palace of George III., whose subject our great chief was before becoming the victor over his disciplined and formidable legions in the hard-fought fields of the long war of American Independence. Being in the apartments of that palace as the representative of my country, in the time of the Prince Regent, his son and successor, it was my lot to hear tributes to his extraordinary virtues and illustrious career, from a member of the British royal family, uttered where the assembled ambassadors of Europe might have heard them; and need I add how gratefully they fell upon the ear of an American minister ?

« The other instance which, under your permission, I will recall, was more signal, moro historical, more illustrative. It was in France, where also I was honored with the re. presentative trust from this our great republic, whose roots have been laid as if for cen, turies in our soil. And it was in that memorable February of '48, at the epoch of the blessed anniversary you are to celebrate. Then it was that the French monarchy fell at a blow, and a republic was proclaimed upon its ruins. Wild shouts of joy went up from sacked and burning palaces, as their inmates fled for safety through the avenues and bowers of their ancient gardens. Not singly, either, did such shouts go up. Even the sober-minded gave way to hope, as if the heavens had opened with bright and cheering illuminations upon the troubled path of France. So, at first, seemed the vision ; and millions wished at first to read in it a golden future for this gallant, powerful and highly advanced people. But when difficulties came, when the shock in Paris 'vibrated through continental Europe, upheaving the people above thrones, when the struggles of rival interests and passions, the keen clashings of opposite theories and dogmas, the fierce jealousies, and selfishness, and violence, of alternate factions con tending for domination, were all seen to be fearfully commingled; when these were revealing how hard is the task of reconciling public liberty with public order, and the security of private rights, in great communities that suddenly throw off their forms of guvernment; when wise and good men were appalled, and knew not what to do, or were jostled and thrown off the stage by the cunning and bad—what was it I then heard? Let Americans remember it, native and adopted, who deem lightly of the work of re. volutionizing foreign despotisms, tumbling down European monarchies, or contending at this day from our shores in any manner with transatlantic tyranny. Why, it was under this dark aggregate of accumulated and accumulating perils that I heard, as did others, the master spirit of the Provisional government, Lamartine, say—the man who saved France from torrents of blood by the self-possession, courage, and eloquence of a minute--it was in these terrible times I heard him despairingly say, that • THE WANT OF THE AGE WAS A EUROPEAN WASHINGTON !'

CHAPTER XLII.

CONCLUSION.

The writer of these pages, it may not be improper to remark, in conclusion, is not a member of the Ameriean Order. Nor would he have the reader to infer, from what has been said in favor of the cultivation of American feeling and sentiment, that he would countenance or uphold the political proscription of any person on account of his religion, or that he believes a religious test, secresy of action, or oath-bound obligations, to be consistent with the cultivation and development of genuine Americanism.

The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, may be considered as one of the absolute rights of individuals, recognized in our American constitutions, and secured to them by law. Civil and religious liberty generally go hand in hand, and the suppression of either of them, for any length of time, will terminate the existence of the other. It is ordained by the Constitution of the United States that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and the same principle appears in all the State constitutions. The principle is generally announced in them without any kind of qualification or limitation annexed, and with the exclusion of every species of religious test. 2 Kent, 32.

It is further provided in the Constitution that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the United States ;” and it is clear, therefore, that any attempt to apply & religious test is violative of the spirit, if not the letter of the Constitution, as well as of that republican equality which is the very basis of the American government, and ought not to meet with any favor among those who would follow the precepts and principles of their American fore. fathers, and contribute their might to Americanize America.

Aside of the constitutional principle involved, however, and viewing the matter in the mere light of expediency, every liberal-minded man must concede the propriety of freeing the American movement from any and all religious tests or sectarian distinctions. Political proscription on account of religion, however plausible the pretext, is and always will be, as it deserves to be, obnoxious to men of liberal views and feelings, and will not, and ought not long to be countenanced or sustained by any considerable portion of the American people. The following extract, taken from a pamphlet recently issued, and said to be from the pen of Mr. Sage, of New Orleans, who is himself a member of the American

[graphic][subsumed]

danger at all to be apprehended from any Catholicism, it is that which comes in from abroad, mixed with foreign ignorance and vice, and subject to priestly and demagogical control. This we get rid of, or deprive of harmful power, by carrying out the principles of anti-foreignism. The true policy is to cut off the source of supply, and then gradually educate and republicanize the mass we have received. We must keep in view the idea of progression, and human improvability.

meeste But the most serious idea on the score of expediency is, that this distinction induces tens of thousands, all over the country, who have no religion, and whose political garments are loose, and perhaps easily changed, to say: "We agree with you on foreignism, but cannot sanction your religious test."

Moreover, there are thousands in our order, entirely opposed to any discrimination in any way, between native Protestants and Catholics, and who will withdraw from affiliation, if it be not abolished.

But, brethren, suppose the objections we have urged, and many others which might be mentioned, to be untenable ; the very fact that the special portion of the eighth article of the Philadelphia platform, is calculated, without the proper gloss, to place the American party in a false position ; the fact that it forces us into an interminable politicoreligious argument with those who would otherwise agree with us; the fact that it makes people fear that the spirit which prompted its adoption, was one of religious bigotry and intolerance, (for the full extent of partizan feeling is never expressed in a platform ;) the fact that it divides us among ourselves, on a question of paramount importance not necessary to the issue; and, above all, the fact that it enables our enemy to bring us to battle on narrow and most disadvantageous fields, so that we can be worried and made to expend our strength and ammunition, before we reach that broad and true field, on which Americanism and foreignism shall be drawn up in battle array, and where we can fight a decisive battle, with ample room and full force, and with a prospect of victory ;-these facts alone, we say, should determine us to discard this test or distinction, as well as every thing else but nativism ;-for on this we are all agreed'; and any thing else might cause dissension.

We say, then, to our brethren of the other States, let us confine ourselves to antiforeignism, which we all agree upon ; and not meddle with what will cause dissension among us. By carrying out this principle, we affect the only class of Catholics that we need fear-if there are any such—we mean foreigners, who are ignorant, vicious, bigoted, and politically controllable by priests—controllable not so much through their religion, as through their ignorance. At all events, this one issue is an all-sufficient basis for a party—as was the same issue for our fathers in the Revolution ; and its importance should prompt every patriot to desire that it should be disencumbered, and presented nakedly to the American people.

[graphic]

Equally obnoxious are, and ever mast and will be, all efforts to cultivate and develop American sentiment and feeling, by means of secret and oath-bound political organizations. Publicity is the very first necessity of republicanism; and if those engaged in the attempt to redeem American institutions from foreign influence, would speedily accom. plish their laudable and patriotic object, they must do so in the true spirit of Americans and with republican means. They must move in an American manner, with an open organization, permitting the light of day to shine upon all their acts, and not by adopting the very system and the

« AnteriorContinuar »