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without any reference to the possible contingencies of foreign war. Foreign war is an event which, in a free country like our own, must in a great measure be left to take care of itself, when it comes; for no nation can be fully prepared for it without the maintenance of such a standing army as is the very bane of a Republican system. God grant that a foreign war may never again come in our day and generation! And I rejoice to be able to express my belief that such an event is still a great way off, much farther off, certainly, than some recent demonstrations might lead us to apprehend. For one, I have no fear that the flag of our country - its honor, its inviolability - is soon to require any belligerent vindication either on land or on sea. If it should, there will be “ hearts of oak” enough to do the needful. And all our hearts will be with them, and all our hands, too, whenever and wherever they may be wanted. But no foreign nation --- and certainly not our old mother Britain - will seriously and deliberately adventure upon the experiment of attempting to humiliate the banner of the American Union, - whatever provoking annoyances may have been perpetrated here and there by a few petty underlings who may be privileged to wear a button and a cockade. Great Britain has certainly enough to do at present in the jungles of India, without rendering herself responsible for “ unchaining the Tiger” on this side of the ocean; and even if she had not, for I had always rather trust to her justice than to her fears, she is too sensible of what is due to us, and due to herself, and due to the cause of civilization, of international law and international love, to let slip her dogs of war wantonly and wilfully upon our commercial marine. We have already seen sufficient indications, I think, to assure us that all our grievances in this line will be redressed without any appeal to arms. Ah, my friends, the honor of our flag is always in more danger from ourselves than from anybody else. We are able to take care of it for ourselves, and we must take care of it for ourselves, on the sea and on the shore. Let us only preserve it in all its integrity and purity, untarnished and untorn, without spot or rent or wrinkle, in its old original, unsullied lustre, and all the nations of the earth will respect it, and we may repose beneath its folds with nothing to fear for its independence or its honor.
Certainly, gentlemen, the danger which the citizen-soldier is emphatically called on to guard against, is a danger which is to be found at home. It is the domestic violence, the internal disorganization, incidental to a state of Republican freedom, which creates the necessity for the perpetual preparation of the Volunteer Militia of our land. How suddenly and how frequently, of late, have we witnessed such a necessity in all parts of our wide-spread country! But yesterday it presented itself at New Orleans. Not long before it had been manifested at Washington, at Baltimore, at Philadelphia. Just a year ago to-morrow, the noble regiment whose hospitalities you have so recently shared, was summoned out from that memorable march to Bunker Hill, with the Governor of New York at its head, to unite in preserving the public peace amid the very scenes you have so lately left. I need not say, too, that we have known such occasions among ourselves. Indeed, the whole history of our Commonwealth and country, from the days of Shay's Rebellion to the present day, bears continuous testimony to the vital necessity of a well-organized, well-disciplined, patriotic militia, as a part of our Republican system.
Brave old John Adams, who once said of himself, “I am John Yankee, and as such I shall live and die,” — and who certainly knew as well as any man what constituted the ingredients of the Yankee character, — that distinguished patriot and statesman, during whose Presidential administration, and in support of whose Presidential policy, this very corps was originally organized, just sixty years ago, and whose blood is at this moment to be found in your ranks and his inherited name upon your rolls, made a memorable entry in his diary while he was in London, as the first ambassador from the United States of America. When asked as to the origin of the peculiar characteristics of NewEnglanders, he reports himself as having replied, "the meetinghouse and school-house and training-field are the scenes where New England men were formed.” And the remark is as true now as it was then. We must have them all, if New England men are to be formed, or if American institutions are to be sustained. There must be spiritual training, and there must be moral and mental training. But there must be physical and mili
tary training also. The love and the fear of God must be inculcated in the church.. Human learning and languages and sciences and arts must be disseminated through the schools. Religion and education must go along side by side, promoting the spirit of peace and the arts of peace; and may the day be hastened when they shall have exorcised every other spirit and rendered vain and futile every other art! But until that millennial triumph shall have been accomplished, there must still be found behind them both, and around them both, the strong arm of flesh, nerved and disciplined to wield the sword and the bayonet in defence of civil order and against foreign aggression. Christian citizenship, Christian scholarship, Christian statesmanship, Christian soldiership, - we must have them all;' and upon this point I would give more for the character and example of the heroic Havelock, - who seems just living for the world, now that he has just died for his country, - than for all the abstract disquisitions which were ever composed by those who have been accustomed to denounce the profession of a soldier as inconsistent with that of a Christian. We must have them all them all — for the protection of property, for the defence of our homes and hearth-stones, our churches and altars, for the execution of our laws and the maintenance of civil and religious liberty.
These were the principles, Mr. Commander and gentlemen, which I adopted and cherished in my earliest manhood, when I first accepted a commission in this corps, and I am not sorry of an opportunity to avow them, unchanged and unchangeable, now that I am fairly and willingly enrolled both on the political and military retired list. I am glad of an opportunity to commend them to you, young men of the rank and file, not singly to be chosen between, but jointly to be supported together. The meeting-house, the school-house, the training-field, --sustain them all, identify yourselves with the support of them all, and then, if you are ever called to the sterner duties of the camp, you will go forth in the fear of God, in the love of your fellow-men, as Christian patriots, armed for defence, and not for conquest; for vindication and not for vengeance; in the very spirit in which our own Washington, eighty-three years ago this day, accepted the appointment, under which he led the army of Independence to victory.
A word or two more, Mr. Commander, in conclusion. I owe to this corps a personal and official acknowledgment, which I may not have another opportunity to offer. I do not refer to the mere fact that from it I received my earliest public honor after leaving the University, - though one's first honor is always the last to be forgotten; nor to the many kind invitations and attentions with which it has favored me since. Nor do I refer to the handsome escort which was tendered and performed by the corps. on the last New Year's Day, when it was my privilege to be the organ of the Building Commissioners in dedicating our new Public Library, - though I could not fail to recognize a peculiar appropriateness in that service, in view of the relations which two of your old commanders sustained to the occasion; one of them in the capacity which I have sufficiently suggested, and the other (Captain Russell Sturgis) as a relative and friend and business partner of that munificent native son of Massachusetts and benefactor of Boston, to whose princely endowments that library owes so much of the brilliant success which has attended its establishment.
But I refer to a still different obligation, which even you yourselves may, perhaps, have forgotten. Your plans for the excursion from which you have just returned, were made during the last summer, and were intended to have been carried into execution early in the autumn. After they were matured, the commercial sky became suddenly overcast, and many of our business houses were involved in the deepest gloom. You promptly abandoned your purposes of pleasure, out of regard for the condition and feelings of the community. But that was not all. You took the opportunity to send the nice new soldier's blankets, which had been prepared for your own use, to the Boston Provident Association, to be given to the poor.
As President of that Association (and I am sure that its whole Board of Managers would gladly unite with me) I now publicly thank you for that seasonable and signal act of thoughtful humanity, and I can truly say that if one consideration predominated in
my heart above all others, in bringing me to this festive board, amid many conflicting engagements to-day, it was the remembrance of that act, and the desire to acknowledge it in the most acceptable way in my power. Once more, gentlemen, let me welcome you to your homes, to Boston, to this sacred hall, and let me propose as a closing sentiment, —