« PreviousContinue »
The offices of this day belong less to eloquence than to grief. We celebrate one of those great events which, by uniting public calamity with private affliction, create in every bosom a response to the throes of an empire. God, who doeth wonders; whose ways must be adored, but not questioned, in severing from the embraces of America her first-beloved patriot, has imposed on her the duty of blending impassioned feeling with profound and unmurmuring submission. An assembled nation, lamenting a father in their departed chief; absorbing every inferior consideration in the sentiment of their common lofs; mingling their recollections and their anticipations; their wishes, their regrets, their sympathies, and their tears, is a spectacle not more tender than awful; and excites emotions too mighty for utterance, I should have no right to complain, Americans, if, instead of indulging me with your attention, you should command me to retire, and leave you to weep in the silence of
woe. I should deserve the reprimand, were I to appear before you with the pretensions of eulogy. No! Eulogy has mistaken her province and her powers, when she assumes for her theme the glory of WASHINGTON. His deeds and his virtues are his high eulogium. His deeds most familiar to your memories, his virtues most dear to your affections. To me, therefore, nothing is permitted, but to borrow from yourselves. And though a pencil more daring than mine would languish in attempting to retrace the living lines which the finger of Truth has drawn upon your hearts, you will bear with me, while, on a subject which dignifies every thing related to it, ' I tell you that 'which you yourselves do know.'
The name of WASHINGTON, connected with all that is most brilliant in the history of our country, and in human character, awakens sensations which agitate the fervors of youth, and warm the chill bosom of agc. Transported to the times when America rose to repel her wrongs, and to claim her destinies, a scene of boundless grandeur bursts upon our view. Long had her filial duty expostulated with parental injustice. Long did she deprecate the rupture of those ties which she had been proud of preserving and displaying. But her humble intreaty spurned ; aggression followed
by the rod, and the rod by scorpions, having changed remonstrance into murmur, and murmur into resistance, she transfers her grievances from the throne of earth to the throne of heaven; and precedes by an appeal to the God of battles, her appeal to the sword of war. At issue now with the mistress of the seas; unfurnished with equal means of defence; the convulsive shock approaching; and every evil omen passing before her, one step of rashness or of folly inay seal her doom. In this accumulation of trouble, who shall command her confidence, and face her dangers, and conduct her cause? God, whose kingdom ruleth over all, prepares from afar the instruments best adapted to his purpose. By an influence which it would be as irrational to dispute, as it is vain to scrutinize, he stirs up the spirit of the statesman and the soldier. Minds on which he has bestowed the elements of greatness, are brought, by his providence, into contact with exigencies which rouse them into aetion.... It is in the season of effort and of peril that impotence disappears, and energy arises. : The whirlwind which sweeps away the glow-worm, uncovers the fire of genius, and kindles : it into a blaze that irradiates at once both the peniļh and thepoles.--*But among the heroes who sprung from obscurity, when the college, the counting-house, and the plough, teemed with “ thunderbolts of war," none could, in all respects, meet the wants and the wishes of America. She required, in her leader, a man reared under her own eye; who come. bined, with distinguished talent, a character above suspicion; who had added to his physical and moral qualities the experience of difficult service; a man who should concentrate in himself the public affections and confidences; who :.' should know how to multiply the energies of every other man under his direction, and to make disaster itself the means of success—hiş arm a fortress, and his name a host. Such a man it were almost presumption to expect; but such a man all-ruling Heaven had provided, and that man was WASHINGTON.
PRE-EMINENT already in worth, he is summoned by his country to the pre-eminence of toil and of danger. Unallured by the charms of opulence: unappalled by the hazard of a dubious warfare: unmoved by the prospect of being, in the event of failure, the first and most conspicụous victim, he obeys her mandate, because he loves his duty. The resolve is. firm, for the probation is terrible. His theatre is a world; his charge, a family of nations; thé interest staked in his hands, the prosperity of millions unborn in ages to come. His meaps,
under aid froin on high, the resources of his own breast, with the raw recruits and irregular supplies of distracted colonies. O crisis worthy of such a hero! Followed by her little bands, her prayers and her tears, WASHINGTON espouses the quarrel of his country. As he moves on to the conflict, every heart palpitates, and every knee trembles. The foe, alike valiant and veteran, presents no easy conquest, nor ought inviting but to those who had consecrated their blood to the public weal. . The Omnipotent, who allots 'great enjoyment as the meed of great exertion, had ordained that America should be 'free; but that she should learn to value the blefsing by the price of its acquisition. She shall go to a “ wealthy place," but her way is “ through fire and through water.” Many a generous chief must bleed, and many a gallant youth sink, at his side, into the surprised grave; the field must be heaped with slain; the purple torrent must roll, ere the angel of peace descend with his olive. It is here, amid devastation, and horror, and death, that WASHINGTON must veap bis laurels, and engrave his trophies on the shields of immortality. Shall Delaware and Princeton? Shall Monmouth and York ?But I may not particularize; far less repeat the tale which babes reçite, which poets sing, and Fame has published