Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

find it quite consistent with my convictions of duty to resist their solicitations that I would be present with you this evening, to listen to others who had been invited to address you, and to express in a few plain words the views which I entertain of the pending political campaign.

I have said already, and I repeat, that I have not desired delay because my decision was not made up, or because there was the slightest wavering or hesitation in my mind, as to the cause or the candidates to be advocated and supported. I found on my table, indeed, on my return the other day, among many other letters awaiting a reply, one evidently written in ignorance of my absence from home, in which it was suggested that my long silence had been construed, in some quarters, into a change of political sentiments;- a change, too, in the direction of the selfstyled Republicanism of the day! And were I ambitious of finding a foothold in what has been for some years past the dominant party of this Commonwealth, - among those who have recently been denominated the Masters of Massachusetts,- it has been whispered in my ear that such an interval might afford me a favorable chance for doing so. I dare say it would. A much shorter interval, if I mistake not, has often answered the purpose for a much more considerable conversion. But it is not more true, Mr. President, that by an accidental and most agreeable coincidence, I sailed from Boston on the fifteenth day of June, 1859, and returned to Boston on the eighth day of September, 1860, in one and the same staunch old Steamer, with the best of all possible names, -- the America, – than it is that I brought back with me the self-same political opinions and principles with which I embarked, - unchanged, and, I think, unchangeable. Yes, I am with you, fellow-citizens, in all your aims and efforts to maintain and uphold the Constitution and the Union of our beloved country. I am with you in all your exertions to arrest the progress of sectional strife and discord. I am with you, too, in the earnest support of the candidates who have been nominated for the highest offices of the Nation and of the State, by the Constitutional Union Conventions at Baltimore and at Worcester. Every thing that I have seen abroad, and every thing, I may add, that I have heard from home during my absence, has confirmed me in my adhesion to the cause, which is so comprehensively and significantly summed up in those noble words of Henry Clay, which are emblazoned upon all your banners -66 The Union — the Constitution the enforcement of the Laws." Oh, for an hour of Henry Clay himself, — to press home that sentiment once more on the hearts of his fellow-countrymen !

It is, without all question, my friends, one of the best influences of a sojourn in foreign lands, upon a heart which is not insensible to the influences of patriotism, that one forgets for a time, or remembers only with disgust and loathing, the contentions and controversies which so often alienate and embitter us at home. There is no room on that little map of his country which every patriot bears abroad with him, photographed on his heart, - there is no room on that magical miniature map for territorial divisions or sectional boundaries. Large enough to reflect and reproduce the image and outlines of the whole Union, it repels all impression of the petty topographical features which belong to science and the schools. Still more does it repel the miserable seams and scratches by which sectional politicians have sought to illustrate their odious distinctions and comparisons. And so, the patriot traveller in foreign lands, with that chart impressed in lines of light and love on his memory, looks back on his country only as a whole. He learns to love it more than ever, as a whole. He accustoms himself to think kindly of it, and to speak kindly of it, as a whole; and he comes home ready to defend it as a whole, alike from the invasion of hostile armies or the assaults of slanderous pens and tongues. He grasps the hand of an American abroad as the hand of a brother, without stopping to inquire whether he hails from Massachusetts or from South Carolina, from Maine or Louisiana, from Vermont or Virginia. It is enough that his passport bears the same broad seal, the same national emblem, with his own. And every time his own passport is inspected, every time he enters a new dominion or crosses a new frontier, every time he is delayed at a custom-house, or questioned by a policeman, or challenged by a sentinel, - every time he is perplexed by a new language, or puzzled by a new variety of coinage or currency, -- he thanks his God with fresh fervency, that through all the length and breadth of that land

beyond the swelling floods, which he is privileged and proud to call his own land, there is a common language, a common currency, a common Constitution, common laws and liberties, a common inheritance of glory from the past, and, if it be only true to itself, a common destiny of glory for the future !

And does any one imagine for an instant, that, coming home from such influences and such impressions, I could be found giving in my adhesion to a party -- of which I would say nothing disrespectful, for it includes not a few of those whom I most esteem in private and social life, but so many of whose accredited organs and orators are busily engaged in arraying one half of the Union against the other half, and in pouring out a torrent of abuse, invective, and vituperation against a whole class, against a whole section, of their fellow-citizens ? Could any one imagine that I should take this opportunity, of all others, to unite myself with those whose selected candidate for the highest honors of our own Commonwealth, would seem to have expressed something more - something more than a sympathy with the deserved fate of an avowed and convicted instigator and organizer of slave insurrection and treason against the United States ?

I have said, Mr. President, that every thing which I had heard from my own land, during my absence, had confirmed my attachment to the cause in which you are assembled. I shall not soon forget the emotions with which I received at Vienna, last November, the first tidings of that atrocious affair at Harper's Ferry. They came in the form of a brief telegraphic despatch, without details, without explanations, simply announcing that an armed and organized band of abolition conspirators' had taken forcible possession of the National Arsenal, in furtherance of a concerted insurrection of the blacks, and that blood had already begun to flow. I think there could have been no true American heart in Europe at that moment that did not throb and thrill with horror at that announcement. But I confess to have experienced emotions hardly less deep or distressing, when I read, not long afterwards, an account of a meeting -- in this very hall, I believe – at which the gallows at Charlestown, in Virginia, was likened to the Cross on Calvary, and at which it was openly declared, that the ringleader of that desperate and wicked conspiracy was right.

as one to

Sir, if it had been suggested to me then, that before another year had passed away, the presiding officer at that meeting would have been deliberately nominated by the Republican party of Massachusetts for the Chief Magistracy of the Commonwealth, I should have repelled the idea as not within the prospect of belief, — as utterly transcending any pitch of extravagance, which even the wildest and most ultra members of that party had ever prepared us to anticipate. But the nomination is before us. The candidate, I am told, is a most amiable and respectable gentleman, and I have no wish to say an unkind word of him or of those who indorse him. But I should be false to every impulse of my heart, if being here at all this evening, if opening my lips at all during this campaign, I did not enter my humble protest, whom the cause of Christianity and of social order is dear, as one who would see the Word of God and the laws of the land respected and obeyed, — if I did not enter my humble but earnest protest, against such an attempt to give the seeming sanction of the people of Massachusetts to sentiments so impious and so abominable.

But I am glad to remember that the reports of other meetings, on the same subject and on other subjects, were not long afterwards forthcoming; meetings at Faneuil Hall, Conventions at Baltimore, and Ratification meetings in all parts of the country. It was in Paris, if I remember right, that I received the account of that patriotic and glorious gathering at which John Bell and Edward Everett were nominated for the Presidency and VicePresidency of the United States. Wherever it was, you may be sure that I ratified those nominations at sight, rejoicing with all my heart that names had been selected which represented no extreme opinions, which recognized both ends of the Union, and for which men of moderation and justice could vote with a clear conscience and a hearty good-will.

I have had the good fortune to know Mr. Bell for more than twenty years, and have been a humble witness to his labors and services in the Cabinet, and in both branches of Congress. Shame, shame upon the perversions and misrepresentations which would implicate him in the ultraisms or extravagances of either section of the Union! There is no truer friend to his whole country than John Bell; not one who would be more anxious, or more able, to administer the Government with an even hand upon the true principles of the Constitution, without fear or favoritism; not one who is less disposed to give any undue preponderance to the peculiar institutions of the section from which he comes; not one whose record contains nobler evidence of his courage to stand up singly and alone, if need be, against the South as well as against the North, whenever a sense of justice and of duty should call upon him to do so; not one, whose election at this moment would do so much to restore harmony to our national councils, and give us four years more of assured prosperity and peace at home and abroad.

As to Mr. Everett, it is for others in other places to speak of him. He needs no commendations here. His spotless character,

. his unrivalled accomplishments, his matchless eloquence, his ardent patriotism, are all too familiar to us to require an allusion. But it is not here alone that he is known; it is not here alone that he is appreciated. I express no off-hand, unconsidered, individual opinion, but the deliberate judgment of thousands at home and abroad, when I say that the result of a Presidential election which should place Edward Everett in either of the two highest offices of the National Government, would do more even than his own masterly address on the 4th of July - more than any words or acts of any or all other men – to vindicate our country in the estimation of the world from the impression which has been so lamentably prevalent of late, that our free institutions have proved a failure, that our national character and our national career are already marked by degeneracy and decline, and that all honorable, accomplished, and virtuous men are practically excluded from the management of our public affairs. He has himself furnished us with the best arguments against many of these foreign assaults; but the people of the United States, in electing him to one of the two highest offices in their gift, would supply the proof, illustration, and living example.

I have but little to say, my friends, about other candidates. I have no wish to institute odious comparisons. It was my fortune to be in the House of Representatives with Mr. Abraham Lincoln during his only term of Congressional service. You will

« ZurückWeiter »