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"The people of Alabama, in convention assembled, have forever prohibited slavery — in so doing they have forever established Liberty. Let us boldly, watchfully, and with unfaltering purpose, pursue the grand idea."--Governor Parsons to the Legislature of Alabama. There is something surpassingly tasteful, as well as suggestive, in this short sentence. The Governor is evidently a man of brilliant imagination, and knows how to express his conceptions. "Liberty" is here described, first, as a fixed and immovable monument, deep- rooted in the earth, and rearing its head toward the clouds. A man of dull fancy would have been satisfied with advising a sharp lookout upon this inappreciable treasure, if there can be any necessity for watching an object which is of itself eternally stationary, and therefore runs no risk of taking wings unto itself and fleeing away. But the genius of the Governor had no sooner planted Liberty than it uprooted her, and put her in motion, with the whole people of Alabama in full cry at her heels, like a pack of hounds. This beats any metamorphosis in Ovid in the suddenness and startling character of the change. The Governor, we venture to suggest, has mistaken his calling. He is a post, not a politician. We like that hint about the "grand idea. " It is historical, almost classical. Many peoples and communities have "pursued" it before, from which we should infer that it is not quite so immortal as the Governor would have us believe. It was, for instance, a monomania with the Athenians, who illustrated it in their own way. For example, when they suspected their allies of the island of Melos of a design to pursue the same "grand idea," they massacred every man, woman and child of them, leaving not one to tell the tale. The terms which they offered are still extant, and may be read by anybody, who chooses to take the trouble, in Thucydides. They beautifully illustrate the "grand idea." They amount to this: that the Athenians were the strongest, and were determined to exercise the "largest liberty" in the premises or, in other words, that "Might made Right." The Romans pursued this "grand idea" "bodily, watchfully, and with unfaltering purpose," for eight hundred years, during the course of which they conquered and enslaved all the countries that lie between Cadiz and the Indus. That great asserter of liberty, Julius Caesar, in the innumerable battles which be fought with the Gaul, besides slaughtering a million of them, made as many more prisoners of war, all of whom, according to the custom of those times, were sold into slavery. He was, indeed, a perfect monomaniac upon the subject. He loved liberty so well that he did not suffer anybody else to have a particle of it. He monopolized it completely. The French "pursued the grand idea" in their great revolution more effectually than any people of modern times. The Guillotine was to them the type, the emblem, the sensible and tangible embodiment of that idea, and they illustrated it in fine style. Robespierre guillotined eighty a day, Sundays included, in the city of Paris alone, for nine months before his fall — all in pursuit of "the grand idea. " In the course of five years, they established five different constitutions. In each of these constitutions "slavery was forever prohibited," and, as a necessary consequence, "liberty forever established." Among existing "pursuers" of the "grand idea" we take the Emperor Alexander II. to be the most striking example. He is himself the owner of all the liberty extant in his dominions. Like Julius CÆsar, he is a monopolist. None other than himself is allowed to deal in the article. He knows its value too well to trust it to others. He would as soon trust the great Pitt Diamond, which is the most costly jewel in his crown. He keeps a standing army, a million strong, to preserve it; and everybody knows how essential a standing army is to the "grand idea." We once heard a man say that locust posts would last forever, assigning, as a proof, the fact of his having himself tried them three times! We think of the man and his posts whenever we hear eternal duration ascribed to anything of mere mortal conception.
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