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[59] of any such design, and in the course which they actually pursued with regard to it.

It is tempting and would be easy, did circumstances allow, to add proof to proof and illustration to illustration, but this is not the place to pursue the subject farther. Strictly speaking, indeed, it is not necessary, for the vindication of Virginia's course, to enter upon the question of right at all. For this purpose it is amply sufficient that the constitutional views which she has consistently supported in the forum and on the field, semper et ubique, were honestly entertained. No mind, not blinded by passion and prejudice to such an extent as to be proof against any force of evidence, could doubt this. The strongest motives that can appeal to the lower and more material side of human nature concurred to impel her to their abandonment. Neither states nor men court martyrdom in defence of opinions insincerely professed, or even laxly and superficially held. So patent was this that it has actually been made a subject of reproach to her by Mr. Blaine. ‘Virginia,’ says he (Twenty Years of Congress, Vol. I, page 301,) ‘could not be restrained though she was warned, and ought to have seen that, if she joined the rebellion, she would inevitably become the battle-ground, and would consign her territory to devastation and her property to destruction.’ Unquestionably, in whatever way the contest on which she was entering might end, it could not but bring to her incalculable loss and suffering. Even if victorious, she must, as a border State, be left in a most exposed and dangerous situation, while a large portion of her property would in any event be lost or rendered utterly insecure.

All this she saw in full prospect before her, yet she ‘could not be restrained’ by any fear of consequences, however certain and terrible, from standing firmly in adversity by the principles she had professed in prosperity. So far Mr. Blaine was right, and he has unconsciously pronounced the highest of eulogies on her conduct. At the ‘parting of the ways’ she did not choose the broad and gently sloping high-road of safety and self-interest, but the narrow and painfully ascending path marked out by duty. She proved herself still the same commonwealth which nearly a century before, in the cause of Massachusetts, had braved the power of Great Britain. When the choice was placed before her, she deliberately elected rather to suffer wrong than to inflict it, to take the incalculably weaker side which she believed to be just rather than the stronger which she believed to be unjust. History records no nobler act of any people. To the latest generation of her children it will descend as a proud

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