Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

WAR UNDER THE GUISE OF PEACE.

169

the preservation of which is not only the sole security for liberty with us, but the last hope of freedom throughout the world. If, in the depth of these convictions, I shall have fallen into a warmer tone of discussion than is my habit, it will be attributed, I trust, to its true cause, and not to any want of proper respect or kind feeling towards the members, one and all, of this body.

Sir, we live in times when it is a solemn duty which every man owes his country to speak his opinions, without disguise or equivocation, even at the risk of giving offense to some of those whom it would be his greatest pleasure, as well as highest ambition, to content in all things. I have been already admonished, sir, that a sword is, at this moment, suspended over my head, which

may

descend and sever the worthless thread of my political existence, for the act of public duty I am now performing. Sir, if it should be so, I shall have at least one consolation, the consciousness of having fallen in the defence of the constitution of my country, and of that liberty which is indissolubly connected with it.

WM. C. RIVES (1833).

XIII. - WAR UNDER THE GUISE OF PEACE. Sir, I have been exceedingly struck, while listening to gentlemen, with the fact that while the ends and objects at which they aim are all so pacific, their speeches are strewn and sown thick, broad-cast, with so much of the food and nourishment of war. Their ends and objects are peace

a treaty of peace; but their means and their topics wear a certain incongruous grimness of aspect. The “ bloom is on the rye ;” but, as you go near, you see bayonet-points sparkling beneath, and are fired upon by a thousand men in ambush ! The end they aim at is peace; but the means of attaining it are an offensive and absurd threat.

I declare, sir, that while listening to senators whose sincerity and patriotism I can not doubt, and to this conflict of topics and objects with which they half-bewilder me, I was forcibly reminded of that consum'mate oration in the streets of Rome, by one who

came to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.” He did not wish to stir up any body to mutiny and rage! O, no! He would not have a finger lifted against the murderers of his and the people's friend — not he! He feared he wronged them. Yet who has not admired the exquisite address and the irresistible effect with which he returns again and again to "sweet Cæsar's wounds, poor, poor dumb mouths,” and puts a tongue in each,

-to the familiar mantle, first worn on the evening of the day his great friend overcame the Nervii, now pierced by the cursëd stoel of

[ocr errors]

Cassius, of the envious Casca, of the well-beloved Brutus, – to his legacy of drachmas, arbors, and orchards, to the people of Rome, whose friend, whose benefactor, he shows to them, all marred by traitors, — till the mob break away from his words of more than fire, with :

“ We will be revenged ! Revenge About !

Seek - burn fire - kill — slay! – let not a traitor live !" Antony was insincere. Senators are wholly sincere. Yet the contrast between their pacific professions and that revelry of belligerent topics and sentiments which rings and flashes in their speeches here, half suggests a doubt to me, sometimes, whether they or I perfectly know what they mean or what they desire. They promise to show you a garden ; and you look up to see nothing but a wall “with dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms !” They propose to teach you how peace is to be preserved; and they do it so exquisitely that you go away half inclined to issue letters of marque and reprisal to-morrow morning. The proposition is peace; but the audience rises and

goes

off with a sort of bewildered and unpleasing sensation, that if there were a thousand men in all America as well disposed as the orator, peace might be preserved; but that, as the case stands, it is just about hopeless! I ascribe it altogether to their anxious and tender concern for peace, that senators have not a word to say about the good she does, but only about the danger she is in. They have the love of compassion, not the love of desire. Not a word about the countless blessings she scatters from her golden urn; but only “the pity of it, Iago ! the pity of it!” to think how soon the dissonant clangor of a thousand brazen throats may chase that bloom from her cheek,

" And Death's pale flag be quick advancëd there.” Sir, no one here can say one thing and mean another; yet much may be mcant, and nothing directly said. • The dial spoke not, but pointed full upon the stroke of murder.”

CHOATE,

XIV. - DESTINY OF THE UNITED STATES. One of England's own writers has said : “ The possible destiny of the United States of America, as a nation of one hundrr millions of freemen, stretching from the Atlantic to the Paci' living under the laws of Alfred, and speaking the language Shakspeare and Milton, is an august conception.” Sir, it is it

[ocr errors]

WAR CONSEQUENT ON DISSOLUTION.

171

august conception, finely embodied; and I trust in God that it will, at no distant time, become a reality. I trust that the world will see, through all time, our people living not only under the laws of Alfred, but that they will be heard to speak, throughout our wide-spread borders, the language of Shakspeare and Milton. Above all, is it my prayer that, as long as our posterity shall continue to inhabit these mountains and plains, and hills and valleys, they may be found living under the sacred institutions of Christianity.

Put these things together, and what a picture do they present to the mental eye! Civilization and intelligence started in the East; they have traveled, and are still traveling, westward; but when they shall have completed the circuit of the earth, and reached the extremest verge of the Pacific shores, then, unlike the fabled god of the ancients, who dipped his glowing axle in the western wave, they will take up their permanent abode; then shall we enjoy the sublime destiny of returning these blessings to their ancient seat; then will it be ours to give the priceless benefits of our free institutions, and the pure and healthful light of the Gospel, back to the dark family which has so long lost both truth and freedom ; then may Christianity plant herself there, and while with one hand she points to the Polynesian isles, rejoicing in the late-recovered treasure of revealed truth, with the other present the Bible to the Chinese.

It is our duty to aid in this great work. I trust we shall esteem it as much our honor as our duty. Let us not, like some of the British missionaries, give them the Bible in one hand and opium in the other, but bless them only with the pure word of truth. I hope the day is not distant, soon, soon may its dawn arise ! - to shed upon the farthest and the most benighted of nations the splendor of more than a tropical sun.

H. W. HILLIARD.

XV. – WAR CONSEQUENT ON DISSOLUTION. MR. PRESIDENT, I have said what I solemnly believe — that the dissolution of the Union and war are identical and inseparable; that they are convertible terms. Such a war, too, as that would be, following the dissolution of the Union! Sir, we may pearch the pages of history, and none so furious, so bloody, so placable, so exterminating, from the wars of Greece down, Saluding those of the commonwealth of England, and the revoluin of France

- none, none of them raged with such violencene was ever conducted with such bloodshed and enormities as

must attend that war which shall follow the disastrous event. if that event ever happen of dissolution.

And what would be its termination ? Standing armies and navies, to an extent draining the revenues of each portion of the dissevered empire, would be created ; exterminating wars would follow, — not a war of two or three years, but of interminable duration, — exterminating wars would follow, until some Philip or Alexander, some Cæsar or Napoleon, would rise to cut the Gordian knot, and solve the capacity of man for self-government, and crush the liberties of both the dissevered portions of this Union. Can you doubt it ?

Look at history — consult the pages of all history, ancient or modern ; look at human nature; look at the character of the contest in which you would be engaged in the supposition of a war following the dissolution of the Union, such as I have suggested, and I ask you if it is possible for you to doubt that the final but perhaps distant termination of the whole will be some despot treading down the liberties of the people ? — that the final result will be the extinction of this last glorious light which is leading all mankind, who are gazing upon it, to cherish hope and anxious expectation that the liberty which prevails here will sooner or later be advanced throughout the civilized world ? Can you lightly contemplate the consequences ? Can you yield yourself to a torrent of passion, amid dangers which I have depicted in colors far short of what would be the reality, if the event should ever happen?

I con-jure' gentlemen, - whether from the South or the North, — by all they hold dear in the world, by all their love of liberty, by all their veneration for their ancestors, by all their regard for posterity, by all their gratitude * to Him who has bestowed upon them such unnumbered blessings, by all the duties which they owe to mankind, and all the duties which they owe to themselves, -- by all these considerations I implore them to pause - solemnly to pause --- at the edge of the precipice, before the fearful and disastrous leap is taken in the yawning abyss below, which will inevitably lead to certain and irretrievable destruction. And, finally, I implore, as the best blessing which heaven can bestow upon me on earth, that if the direful and sad event of the dissolution of the Union shall happen, I may not survive to behold the sad and heart-rending spectacle.

CLAY.

* The long u in such words as gratitude, duy, student, tumult, &c., has a y sound, as in mute. But after r in the same syllable long r has the sound of long oo in food ; as in rule, brute, rude, intrude, &c.

ON THE FORCE BILL.

173

XVI. - ON THE FORCE BILL.

For what

purpose

is the unlimited control of the purse and of the sword to be placed at the disposition of the executive? To make war against one of the free and sovereign members of this confederation, which the bill proposes to deal with, not as a State, but as a collection of banditti or outlaws ; thus exhibiting the impious spectacle of this government, the creature of the States, making war against the power to which it owes its existence.

Do I say that the bill declares war against South Carolina ? No! It decrees a massacre of her citizens! War has something ennobling about it, and, with all its horrors, brings into action the highest qualities, intellectual and moral. It was, perhaps, in the order of Providence, that it should be permitted for that very purpose.

But this bill declares no war, except, indeed, it be that which savages wage; a war, not against the community, but the citizens of whom that community is composed. But I regard it as worse than savage warfare

—as an attempt to take

away life, under the color of law, without the trial by jury, or any other safeguard which the constitution has thrown around the life of the citizen! It authorizes the President, or even his deputies, when they may suppose the law to be violated, without the intervention of a court or jury, to kill without mercy or discrimination.

It has been said, by the senator from Tennessee, to be a measure of peace! Yes, such peace as the wolf gives to the lamb, the kite to the dove! Such peace as Russia gives to Poland, or death to its victim! A peace by extinguishing the political existence of the State, by awing her into an abandonment of the exercise of every power which constitutes her a sovereign community! It is to South Carolina a question of self-preservation; and I proclaim it, that, should this bill pass, and an attempt be made to enforce it, it will be resisted at every hazard that of death itself!

Death is not the greatest calamity; there are others, still more terrible to the free and brave, and among

them

may be placed the loss of liberty and honor. There are thousands of her brave sons who, if need be, are prepared cheerfully to lay down their lives in defense of the State, and the great principles of constitutional liberty for which she is contending. God forbid that this should become necessary!

It never can be, unless this government is resolved to bring the question to extremity; when her gallant sons will stand prepared to perform the last duty — to die nobly!

even

CALHOUN.

« ПредишнаНапред »