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PONT, the strait of Dardanelles. 12. RU' DI CON, a small river of Italy, now called Rucone. 13. WANTONNESS, sportiveness; extravagance.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
STORY. [Conclusion of a Discourse, delivered Sept. 18th. 1823, in Commemoration of the
first settlement of Salem, Mass.) 1. WHEN we reflect on what has been, and is, how is it possible not to feel a profound sense of the responsibleness of this republic to all future ages! What vast motives press upon us for lofty efforts !
What brilliant prospects invite our enthusiasm! What solemn warnings at once demand our vigilance, and moderate our confidence!
2. The old world has already revealed to us, in its unsealed books, the beginning and end of all its own marvelous struggles in the cause of liberty. Greece, lovely Greece, “the land of scholars and the nurse of arms,” where sister republics, in fair processions, chanted the praises of liberty and the gods,—where and what is she ? For two thousand years, the oppressor has bound her to the earth. Her arts
are no more.
3. The last sad relics of her temples are but the barracks of a ruthless soldiery; the fragments of her columns, and her palaces, are in the dust, yet beautiful in ruin. She fell not when the mighty were upon her. Her sons were united at Thermopylæ and Marathon; and the tide of her triumph rolled back upon the Hellespont. She was conquered by her own factions. She fell by the hands of her own people. The man of Macedonia did not the work of destruction. “It was already done by her own corruptions, banishments, and dissensions.
4. Rome, republican Rome, whose eagles glanced in the rising and setting sun,---where and what is she? The eternal city yet remains, proud even in her desolation, noble in her decline, venerable in the majesty of religion, and calm as in the
composure of death. The malaria has but traveled in the paths worn by her destroyers. More than eighteen centuries have mourned over the loss of her empire. A mortal disease was upon her vitals, before Cesar had crossed the Rubicon. The Goths, and Vandals, and Huns, the swarms of the North, completed only what was already begun at home. Romans betrayed Rome. The legions were bought and sold, but the people offered the tribute money.
5. And where are the republics of modern times, which clustered round immortal Italy? Venice and Genoa exist
but in name.
The Alps, indeed, look down upon the brave and peaceful Sviss in their native fastnesses; but the guaranty of their freedom is in their weakness, and not in their strength. The mountains are not easily crossed, and the valleys are not easily retained. When the invader comes, he mores like an avalanche, carrying destruction in his path. The peasantry sinks before him. The country is too poor for plunder, and too rough for valuable conquest. Nature presents her eternal barriers, on every side, to check the wantonness of ambition; and Switzerland remains with her simple institutions, a military road to fairer climates, scarcely worth a permanent possession, and protected by the jealousy of her neighbors.
6. We stand the latest, and, if we fail, probably the last, experiment of self-government by the people. We have begun it under circumstances of the most auspicious nature. We are in the vigor of youth. Our growth has never been checked by the oppressions of tyranny. Our constitutions have never been enfeebled by the vices or luxuries of the old world. Such as we are, we have been from the beginning ; simple, hardy, intelligent, accustomed to self-government and self-respect. The Atlantic rolls between us and any formidable foe.
7. Within our own territory, stretching through many degrees of latitude and longitude, we have the choice of many products, and many means of independence. The government is mild. The press is free. Religion is free. Knowledge reaches, or may reach, every home. What fairer prospect of success could be presented ? What means more adequate to accomplish the sublime end ? What more is necessary, than for the people to preserve what they themselves have created ?
8. Already has the age caught the spirit of our institutions. Ít has already ascended the Andes, and snuffed the breezes of both oceans. It has infused itself into the life-blood of Europe, and warmed the sunny plains of France, and the low lands of Holland. It has touched the philosophy of Germany and the North, and moving onward to the South, has opened to Greece the lessons of her better days.
9. Can it be that America, under such circumstances, can betray herself? that she is to be added to the catalogue of republics, the inscription upon whose ruins is, “ They were, but they are not ?" forbid it, my countrymen; forbid it, Hèayen.
10. I call upon you, fathers, by the shades of your ances: tors, by the dear ashes which repose in this precious soil, by all you are, and all you hope to be; resist every project of disunion, resist every encroachment upon your liberties, resist every attempt to fetter your consciences, or smother your public schools, or extinguish your system of public instruction.
11. I call upon you, young men, to remember whose sons you are, whose inheritance you possess. Life can never be too short, which brings nothing but disgrace and oppression. Death never comes too soon, if necessary in defense of the liberties of your country, 12. I call upon you, old men,
counsels, and your prayers, and your benedictions. May not your gray down in sorrow to the grave, with the recollection that you have lived in vain? May not your last sun sink in the west upon a nation of slaves ?
13. No, I read in the destiny of my country far better hopes, far brighter visions. We, who are now assembled here, must soon be gathered to the congregation of other days. The time of our departure is at hand, to make way for our children upon the theater of life. May God speed them and theirs. May he, who, at the distance of another century, shall stand here, to celebrate this day, still look round upon a free, happy, and virtuous people. Nay he have reason to exult as we do. May he with all the enthusiasm of truth, as well as of poetry, exclaim, that here is still his country,-
“ Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free;
QUESTIONS.-1. When, where, and on what occasion was this discourse delivered ? 2. How long since ? 3. How should a reflection of the present and the past influence us? 4. What is said of Greece ? 5. By what was Grecce conquered ? 6. What is said of Rome? 7. By whom was she destroyed ? 8. How long since the loss of her empire ? 9. What can you say of the Republics of Italy? 10. What, of Świtzerland ? 1. What of our own Republic? 12. What influence has it exerted on other nations ? 13. What are our fathers called upon to resist! .14. What, our young men ?
What inflection at the end of each sentence, first verse, and why? What, at the end of the quotation, ninth verse, and why?