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-What can strive
With virtue? which of nature's regions vast
Which envy's self contemplates, and is turned
Propitious brings, and there a temple holds
E'er drew such eager eyes, or prompted such Deep wishes, as the zeal that snatches back From slander's poisonous tooth a foe's renown; Or crosseth danger in his lion walk, 25 A rival's life to rescue? as the young Athenian warrior sitting down in bonds, That his great father's body might not want A peaceful, humble tomb? the Roman wife Teaching her lord how harmless was the wound 30 Of death, how impotent the tyrant's rage,
Who nothing more could threaten to afflict Their faithful love? Or is there in the abyss, Is there, among the adamantine spheres Wheeling unshaken through the boundless void, 35 Aught that with balf such majesty can fill The human bosom, as when Brutus rose Refulgent, from the stroke of Cæsar's fate Amid the crowd of patriots; and, his arm
Aloft extending, like eternal Jove
When guilt brings down the thunder, called aloud
61. Character of Brutus.
Ask any one man of morals, whether he approves of assassination; he will answer, No. Would you kill your friend and benefactor? No. The question is a horrible insult. Would you practise hypocrisy and 5 smile in his face, while your conspiracy is ripening, to gain his confidence and to lull him into security, in order to take away his life? Every honest man, on the bare suggestion, feels his blood thicken and stagnate at his heart. Yet in this picture we see Brutus. It would 10 perhaps, be scarcely just to hold him up to abhorrence; it is, certainly, monstrous and absurd to exhibit his conduct to admiration.
He did not strike the tyrant from hatred or ambition; his motives were admitted to be good; but was not the 15 action nevertheless, bad?"
To kill a tyrant, is as much murder, as to kill any other man. Besides, Brutus, to extenuate the crime, could have had no rational hope of putting an end to the tyranny; he had foreseen and provided nothing to 20 realize it. The conspirators relied, foolishly enough,
on the love of the multitude for liberty-they loved their safety, their ease, their sports, and their demagogue favourites a great deal better. They quietly looked on, as spectators, and left it to the legions of Antony, and 25 Octavius, and to those of Syria, Macedonia, and Greece,
to decide, in the field of Phillippi, whether there should be a republic or not. It was accordingly, decided in favour of an emperor; and the people sincerely rejoiced in the political calm, that restored the games of the cir30 cus, and the plenty of bread.
Those, who cannot bring their judgments to condemn the killing of a tyrant, must nevertheless agree that the blood of Cæsar was unprofitably shed. Liberty gained nothing by it, and humanity lost much; for it cost eigh35 teen years of agitation and civil war, before the ambition of the military and popular chieftains had expended its means, and the power was concentred in one man's hands.
Shall we be told, the example of Brutus is a good one, 40 because it will never cease to animate the race of tyrant-killers-But will the fancied usefulness of assassination overcome our instinctive sense of its horror? Is it to become a part of our political morals, that the chief of a state is to be stabbed or poisoned, whenever a fan45 atick, a malecontent, or a reformer shall rise up and call him a tyrant? Then there would be as little calm in despotism as in liberty.
But when has it happened, that the death of an usurper has restored to the public liberty its departed life? 50 Every successful usurpation creates many competitors for power, and they successively fall in the struggle. In all this agitation, liberty is without friends, without resources, and without hope. Blood enough, and the blood of tyrants too, was shed between the time of the 55 wars of Marius and death of Antony, a period of about sixty years, to turn a common grist-mill; yet the cause of the public liberty continually grew more and more desperate. It is not by destroying tyrants, that we are to extinguish tyranny; nature is not thus to be exhaust60 ed of her power to produce them. The soil of a republic sprouts with the rankest fertility; it has been sown with dragon's teeth. To lessen the hopes of usurping demagogues, we must enlighten, animate and combine the spirit of freemen; we must fortify and guard the 65 constitutional ramparts about liberty. When its friends become indolent or disheartened, it is no longer of any importance how long-lived are its enemies: they will prove immortal.
62. Conclusion of Webster's Plymouth Discourse.
The hours of this day are rapidly flying, and this occasion will soon be passed. Neither we nor our children can expect to behold its return. They are in the distant regions of futurity, they exist only in the all5 creati power of God, who shall stand here, a hundred years hence, to trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims, and to survey, as we have now surveyed, the progress of their country, during the lapse of a century. We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our 10 sentiments of deep regard for our common ancestors. We would anticipate and partake the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of New-England's advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will not disturb us in our repose, the voice of acclama15 tion and gratitude, commencing on the Rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through millions of the sons of the Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs of the Pacific seas.
We would leave for the consideration of those who 20 shall then occupy our places, some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our fathers in just estimation; some proof of our attachment to the cause of good government, and of civil and religious liberty; some proof of a sincere and ardent desire to promote 25 every thing which may enlarge the understandings and improve the hearts of men. And when, from the long distance of an hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall know, at least, that we possessed affections, which running backward, and warming with 30 gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness, run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial salutation, ere yet they have arrived on the shore of Being.
Advance, then, ye future generations! We would 35 hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste the blessings of existence, where we are passing, and soon shall have passed, our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land of the Fathers. We bid yo
40 welcome to the healthful skies, and the verdant fields of New-England. We greet your accession to the great inheritance which we have enjoyed. We welcome you to the blessings of good government, and religious liberty. We welcome you to the treasures of science, and 45 the delights of learning. We welcome you to the transcendant sweets of domestic life, to the happiness of kindred, and parents, and children. We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlast50 ing Truth!
Address to the Patriots of the Revolution.
VENERABLE MEN! you have come down to us, from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day. You are now, where you stood, fifty years ago, 5 this very hour, with your brothers, and your neighbours shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country. Behold, how altered! The same heavens are indeed over your heads; the same ocean rolls at your feet: but all else, how changed! You hear now no roar of 10 hostile cannon, you see no mixed volumes of smoke and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strewed with the dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and successful repulse; the loud call to repeated assault; the summoning of all that is 15 manly to repeated resistance; a thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in war and death;-all these you have witnessed, but you witness them no more. All is peace. The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers 20 and roofs, which you then saw filled with wives and children and countrymen in distress and terror, and looking with unutterable emotions for the issue of the combat, have presented you to-day with the sight of its whole happy population, con out to welcome and 25 greet you with an universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a felicity of position appropriately lying at the