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it is not a few abstractions engrossed on parchment, that make free Governments. No, Sir ; the law of liberty must be inscribed on the heart of the citizen: THE word, if I may use the expression without irreverence, MUST BECOME FLESH. You must have a whole People trained, disciplined bred, - yea, and born, – as our fathers were, to institutions like ours. Before the Colonies existed, the Petition of Rights, that Magna Charta of a more enlightened age, had been presented, in 1628, by Lord Coke and his immortal compeers. Our founders brought it with them, and we have not gone one step beyond them. They brought these maxims of civil liberty, not in their libraries, but in their souls; not as philosophical prattle, not as barren generalities, but as rules of conduct; as a symbol of public duty and private right, to be adhered to with religious fidelity; and the very first pilgrim that set his foot upon the rock of Plymouth stepped forth a living constitution, armed at all points to defend and to perpetuate the liberty to which he had devoted his whole being.
163. EMOTIONS ON RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES, 1837. – Legaré.
SIR, I dare not trust myself to speak of my country with the rapture which I habitually feel when I contemplate her marvellous history. But this I will say, -that, on my return to it, after an absence of only four years, I was filled with wonder at all I saw and all I heard. What is to be compared with it ! I found New York grown up to almost double its former size, with the air of a great capital, instead of a mere flourishing commercial town, as I had known it. I listened to accounts of voyages of a thousand miles in magnificent steamboats on the waters of those great lakes, which, but the other day, I left sleeping in the primeval silence of nature, in the recesses of a vast wilderness; and I felt that there is a grandeur and a majesty in this irresistible onward march of a race, created, as I believe, and elected, to possess and people a Continent, which belong to few other objects, either of the moral or material world.
We may become so much accustomed to such things that they shall make as little impression upon our minds as the glories of the Heavens above us; but, looking on them, lately, as with the eye of the stranger, I felt, what a recent English traveller is said to have remarked, that, far from being without poetry, as some have vainly alleged, our whole country is one great poem. Sir, it is so; and if there be a man that can think of what is doing, in all parts of this most blessed of all lands, to embellish and advance it, — who can contemplate that living mass of intelligence, activity and improvement, as it rolls on, in its sure and steady progress, to the uttermost extremities of the West, — who can see scenes of savage desolation transformed, almost with the suddenness of enchantment, into those of fruitfulness and beauty, crowned with flourishing cities, filled with the noblest of all populations, – if there be a man, I say, that can witness all this, passing under his very eyes, without feeling his heart beat high, and his imagination warmed and transported by it, be sure, Sir, that the raptures of song exist not for him; he would listen in vain to Tasso or Camoëns, telling a tale of the wars of knights and crusaders, or of the discovery and conquest of another hemisphere.
WHEN the administration was striving, by the operation of peaceful measures, to bring Great Britain back to a sense of justice, the Gentlemen of the opposition were for old-fashioned war. And, now the have got old-fashioned war, their sensibilities are cruelly shocked, and all their sympathies lavished upon the harmless inhabitants of the adjoining Provinces. What does a state of war present 2 The united energies of one People arrayed against the combined energies of another; a conflict in which each party aims to inflict all the injury it can, by sea and land, upon the territories, property, and citizens of the other, — subject only to the rules of mitigated war, practised by civilized Nations. The Gentlemen would not touch the continental provinces of the enemy; nor, I presume, for the same reason, her possessions in the West Indies. The same humane spirit would spare the seamen and soldiers of the enemy. The sacred person of his Majesty must not be attacked, for the learned Gentlemen on the other side are quite familiar with the maxim that the King can do no wrong. Indeed, Sir, I know of no person on whom we may make war, upon the principles of the honorable Gentlemen, but Mr. Stephen, the celebrated author of the orders in council, or the board of admiralty, who authorize and regulate the practice of impressment!
The disasters of the war admonish us, we are told, of the necessity of terminating the contest. If our achievements by land have been less splendid than those of our intrepid seamen by water, it is not because the American soldier is less brave. On the one element, organization, discipline, and a thorough knowledge of their duties, exist, on the part of the officers and their men. On the other, almost everything is yet to be acquired. We have, however, the consolation that our country abounds with the richest materials, and that in no instance, when engaged in action, have our arms been tarnished.
An honorable peace is attainable only by an efficient war. My plan would be, to call out the ample resources of the country, give them a judicious direction, prosecute the war with the utmost vigor, strike wherever we can reach the enemy, at sea or on land, and negotiate the terms of a peace at Quebec or at Halifax. We are told that England is a proud and lofty Nation, which, disdaining to wait for danger, meets it half way. Haughty as she is, we once triumphed over her; and, if we do not listen to the councils of timidity and despair, we shall again prevail. In such a cause, with the aid of Providence, we must come out crowned with success; but, if we fail, let us fail like men, – lash ourselves to our gallant tars, and expire together in one common struggle, fighting for FREE TRADE AND SEAMEN's RIGHTS!
165. DEFENCE OF JEFFERSON, 1813. - Henry Clay. Next to the notice which the opposition has found itself called upon to bestow upon the French emperor, a distinguished citizen of Virginia, formerly President of the United States, has never for a moment failed to receive their kindest and most respectful attention. An honorable gentleman from Massachusetts, of whom I am sorry to say, it becomes necessary for me, in the course of my remarks, to take some notice, has alluded to him in a remarkable manner. Neither his retirement from public office, his eminent services, nor his advanced age, can exempt this patriot from the coarse assaults of party malevolence. No, Sir! In 1801, he snatched from the rude hand of usurpation the violated Constitution of his country, — and that is his crime. He preserved that instrument, in form, and substance, and spirit, a precious inheritance for generations to come, — and for this he can never be forgiven. How vain and impotent is party rage, directed against such a man! He is not more elevated by his lofty residence, upon the summit of his own favorite mountain, than he is lifted, by the serenity of his mind and the consciousness of a well-spent life, above the malignant passions and bitter feelings of the day. No! his own beloved Monticello is not less moved by the storms that beat against its sides, than is this illustrious man, by the howlings of the whole British pack, let loose from the Essex kennel ! When the gentleman to whom I have been compelled to allude shall have mingled his dust with that of his abused ancestors, when he shall have been consigned to oblivion, or, if he lives at all, shall live only in the treasonable annals of a certain junto, — the name of Jefferson will be hailed with gratitude, his memory honored and cherished as the second founder of the liberties of the People, and the period of his administration will be looked back to as one of the happiest and brightest epochs of American history!
166. MILITARY INSUBORDINATION, 1819. - Henry Clay. We are fighting a great moral battle, for the benefit, not only of our country, but of all mankind. The eyes of the whole world are in fixed attention upon us. One, and the largest portion of it, is gazing with contempt, with jealousy, and with envy; the other portion, with hope. with confidence, and with affection. Everywhere the black cloud of legitimacy is suspended over the world, save only one bright spot, which breaks out from the political hemisphere of the West, to enlighten, and animate, and gladden, the human heart. Obscure that by the downfall of liberty here, and all mankind are enshrouded in a pall of universal darkness. To you, Mr. Chairman, belongs the high privilege of transmitting, unimpaired, to posterity, the fair character and liberty of our country. Do you expect to execute this high trust, by trampling, or suffering to be trampled down, law, justice, the Constitution, and the rights of the People ? by exhibiting examples of inhumanity, and cruelty, and ambition ? When the minions of despot
ism heard, in Europe, of the seizure of Pensacola, how did they chuckle, and chide the admirers of our institutions, tauntingly pointing to the demonstration of a spirit of injustice and aggrandizement made by our country, in the midst of an amicable negotiation : Behold, said they, the conduct of those who are constantly reproaching Kings: You saw how those admirers were astounded and hung their heads. You saw, too, when that illustrious man who presides over us adopted his pacific, moderate, and just course, how they once more lifted up their heads, with exultation and delight beaming in their countenances. And you saw how those minions themselves were finally compelled to unite in the general praises bestowed upon our Government. Beware how you forfeit this exalted character Beware how you give a fatal sanction, in this infant period of our republic, scarcely yet two-score years old, to military insubordination Remember that Greece had her Alexander, Rome her Caesar, England her Cromwell, France her Bonaparte; and that, if we would escape the rock on which they split, we must avoid their errors. I hope gentlemen will deliberately survey the awful isthmus on which we stand. They may bear down all opposition; they may even vote the General" the public thanks; they may carry him triumphantly through this House. But, if they do, in my humble judgment, it will be a triumph of the principle of insubordination, a triumph of the military over the civil authority, a triumph over the powers of this House, a triumph over the Constitution of the land. And I pray most devoutly to Heaven, that it may not prove, in its ultimate effects and consequences, a triumph over the liberties of the People !
167. THE NOBLEST PUBLIC VIRTUE, 1841. – Henry clay.
THERE is a sort of courage, which, I frankly confess it, I do not possess, a boldness to which I dare not aspire, a valor which I cannot covet. I cannot lay myself down in the way of the welfare and happiness of my country. That, I cannot, — I have not the courage to do. I cannot interpose the power with which I may be invested—a power conferred, not for my personal benefit, nor for my aggrandizement, but for my country's good—to check her onward march to greatness and glory. I have not courage enough. I am too cowardly for that. I would not, I dare not, in the exercise of such a threat, lie down, and place my body across the path that leads my country to prosperity and happiness. This is a sort of courage widely different from that which a man may display in his private conduct and personal relations. Personal or private courage is totally distinct from that higher and nobler courage which prompts the patriot to offer himself a voluntary sacrifice to his country's good.
Apprehensions of the imputation of the want of firmness sometimes impel us to perform rash and inconsiderate acts. It is the greatest
* General Jackson.
courage to be able to bear the imputation of the want of courage. But pride, vanity, egotism, so unamiable and offensive in private life, are vices which partake of the character of crimes, in the conduct of public affairs. The unfortunate victim of these passions cannot see beyond the little, petty, contemptible circle of his own personal interests. All his thoughts are withdrawn from his country, and concentrated on his consistency, his firmness, himself! The high, the exalted, the sublime emotions of a patriotism which, soaring towards Heaven, rises far above all mean, low, or selfish things, and is absorbed by one soul-transporting thought of the good and the glory of one's country, are never felt in his impenetrable bosom. That patriotism which, catching its inspirations from the immortal God, and, leaving at an immeasurable distance below all lesser, grovelling, personal interests and feelings, animates and prompts to deeds of self-sacrifice, of valor, of devotion, and of death itself, — that is public virtue ; that is the noblest, the sublimest of all public virtues !
168. THE EXPUNGING RESOLUTION, 1837.— Henry Clay. The Senate having, in 1834, passed resolutions to the effect that President Jackson had assumed and exercised powers not granted by the Constitution, notice was given of a motion to expunge the same, which motion was taken up and carried in 1837, when the majority of the Senate was of a different party complexion.
What patriotic purpose is to be accomplished by this expunging resolution? Can you make that not to be which has been? Can you eradicate from memory and from history the fact that, in March, 1834, a majority of the Senate of the United States passed the resolution which excites your enmity ? Is it your vain and wicked object to arrogate to yourselves that power of annihilating the past which bas been denied to Omnipotence itself? Do you intend to thrust your hands into our hearts, and to pluck out the deeply-rooted convictions which are there? Or, is it your design merely to stigmatize us? You cannot stigmatize us!
“Ne'er yet did base dishonor blur our name." Standing securely upon our conscious rectitude, and bearing aloft the shield of the Constitution of our country, your puny efforts are impotent, and we defy all your power!
But why should I detain the Senate, or needlessly waste my breath in fruitless exertions ? The decree has gone forth. It is one of urgency, too. The deed is to be done, - that foul deed, which, like the stain on the hands of the guilty Macbeth, all ocean's waters will never wash out. Proceed, then, to the noble work which lies before you; and, like other skilful executioners, do it quickly. And, when you have perpetrated it, go home to the People, and tell them what glorious honors you have achieved for our common country. Tell them
have extinguished one of the brightest and purest lights that ever burnt at the altar of civil liberty. Tell them that you have silenced one of the noblest batteries that ever thundered in defence of