and Ladies and Gentlemen: I feel half inclined to borrow a little wit from an article in a late number of the Atlantic Monthly, --“My double, and how he undid me,” --and say, “I agree entirely with the gentleman who has just taken his seat.”
[Laughter.] “So much has been said, and so well said, that I feel there is no need of my occupying your attention.”
[Renewed laughter.] But then I should lose the hearty satisfaction it gives me to say with what delight I stand upon this platform, and how sincerely I appreciate the honor you do me, Mr. Chairman
, by allowing me to aid in opening this course of lectures.
I know, Sir, that you hoped, as I did, that this post would be filled by our great Senator
, who seeks health on a foreign soil.
No one laments more sincerely than I do that he felt it impossible and inconsistent with his other duties to be here.
It is not too much to say that the occasion was worthy of a word even from Charles Sumner
Appreciating the lyceum system as I do, looking upon it as one of the departments of the national school, truly American in its origin, and eminently republican in its character and end, I feel how eloquently his voice would have done it justice.
For this is no common evening, Mr. President.
The great boast of New England
culture and toleration.
Easier to preach than to practise.
Many lyceums have opened their doors to men of different shades of opinion, and some few have even granted a fair amount of liberty in the choice of subject, and the expression of individual opinion.
None of us can forget, on such an occasion as this, the eminently catholic spirit and brilliant success of that course of Antislavery Lectures in the winter of 1854 and 1855, which we owed chiefly to the energy and to the brave and liberal spirit of Dr. James W. Stone
But you go, Gentlemen, an arrow's flight beyond all lyceums; for, recognizing the essential character of civilization, you place upon your platform the representatives of each sex and of both races.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will listen to consummate eloquence, never heard in Boston
before from the lyceum platform, because “guilty of a skin not colored like our own.”
[Applause.] And you will listen, besides, to woman, gracefully standing on a platform which boasts itself the source of national education.
For decent justice has not been done to woman, in regard to her influence, either upon literature or society; and I welcome with inexpressible delight the inauguration of a course of lectures national and American in the proper sense of the words.
There are men who prate about “nationality,” and “the empire,” and “manifest destiny,” --using brave word, when their minds rise no higher than some petty mass of white States making money out of cotton and corn.
My idea of American nationality makes it the last best growth of the thoughtful mind of the century, treading under foot sex and race, caste and condition, and collecting on the broad bosom of what deserves the name of an empire, under the shelter of noble, just, and equal laws, all races, all customs, all religions, all languages, all literature, and all ideas.
I remember, a year or two ago, they told us of a mob at Milwaukie that forced a man to bring out the
body of his wife, born in Asia
,--which, according to the custom of her forefathers, he was about to burn,--and compelled him to submit to American funeral rites, which his soul abhorred.
The sheriff led the mob, and the press of the State
vindicated the act. This is not my idea of American civilization.
They will show you at Rome
the stately column of the Emperor Trajan.
Carved on its outer surface is the triumphal march of the Emperor
, when he came back to Rome
, leading all nations, all tongues, all customs, all races, in the retinue of his conquest; and they traced it on the eternal marble, circling the pillar from base to capital.
Just such is my idea of the empire, broad enough and brave enough to admit both sexes, all creeds, and all tongues in the triumphal procession of this great daughter of the west of the Atlantic
[Loud applause.] That is the reason why I hail this step in Boston
,--the brain of the Union
,--saying to the negro and to woman, “Take your place among the teachers of American Democracy.”
[Applause.] I said justice had never been done to woman for her influence upon literature and society.
Society is the natural outgrowth of the New Testament, and yet nothing deserving of the name ever existed in Europe
until, two centuries ago, in France
, woman called it into being.
Society,--the only field where the sexes have ever met on terms of equality, the arena where character is formed and studied, the cradle and the realm of public opinion, the crucible of ideas, the world's university, at once a school and a theatre, the spur and the crown of ambition, the tribunal which unmasks pretension and stamps real merit, the power that gives government leave to be, and outruns the lazy Church in fixing the moral sense of the age,--who shall fitly describe the lofty place of this element in the history of the last two centuries? Who shall deny that, more than anything else, it
deserves the name of the most controlling element in the history of the two centuries just finished?
And yet this is the realm of woman, the throne which, like a first conqueror, she founded and then filled.
So with literature.
The literature of three centuries ago is not decent to be read: we expurgate it. Within a hundred years, woman has become a reader, and for that reason, as much or more than anything else, literature has sprung to a higher level.
No need now to expurgate all you read.
Woman, too, is now an author; and I undertake to say that the literature of the next century will be richer than the classic epochs, for that cause.
Truth is one forever, absolute; but opinion is truth filtered through the moods, the blood, the disposition, of the spectator.
Man has looked at creation, and given us his impressions, in Greek
literature and English
, one-sided, half-way, all awry.
Woman now takes the stand to give us her views of God's works and her own creation; and exactly in proportion as woman, though equal, is eternally different from man, just in that proportion will the literature of the next century be doubly rich, because we shall have both sides.
You might as well plant yourself in the desert, under the changeless gray and blue, and assert that you have seen all the wonders of God's pencil, as maintain that a male literature, Latin, Greek
, or Asiatic, can be anything but a half part, poor and one-sided; as well develop only muscle, shutting out sunshine and color, and starving the flesh from your angular limbs, and then advise men to scorn Titian's flesh and the Apollo, since you have exhausted manly beauty, as think to stir all the depths of music with only half the chords.
[Applause.] The diapason of human thought was never struck till Christian culture summoned woman into the republic of letters; and experience as well as nature tells us, “what God hath joined, let not man put asunder.”
I welcome woman, therefore, to the platform of the world's teachers, and I look upon the world, in a very important sense, as one great school.
said, ten years ago, “Governments, religion, property, books, are nothing but the scaffolding to build a man. Earth holds up to her Master no fruit but the finished man.”
Education is the only interest worthy the deep, controlling anxiety of the thoughtful man. To change Bryant
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,
The venerable woods, rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green, and, poured round all
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great school of man.
It is in this light and for this value that I appreciate the lyceum.
We have four sources of education in this country,--talk, literature, government, religion.
The lyceum makes one and the most important element of each.
It is a church, without a creed, and with a constant rotation of clergymen.
[Applause.] It teaches closer ethics than the pulpit.
Let lyceum committees debate whether they shall invite Theodore Parker
, or theological papers scold because Beecher
stands on your platform, and out of such debate the people will pick a lesson of toleration better, more real, and more impressive than Locke
's Treatise or a dozen sermons could give them.
Responsibility teaches as nothing else can. That is God's great motor power.
When your horse cannot move his load, throw a sack of grain on his back and he draws easily on. He draws by weight, not by muscle.
Give the masses nothing to do, and they will topple down thrones and cut throats; give them the government, as here, and they will make pulpits useless and colleges an impertinence.
It is the best part
of literature, too, for it is the only part that is vital.
I value letters.
I thank God that I was taught for many years; enough to see inside the sham.
The upper tier of letters is mere amateur; does not understand its own business.
William H. Prescott
would have washed his hand twice, had Walker
the filibuster grasped it unwittingly; but he sits down in his study and writes the history of filibusters, respectable only because they died three hundred years ago He did not know that he was the mere annalist of the Walkers and Jefferson Davises
of that age. [Applause.]
[In this connection, Mr. Phillips
referred to Bunyan
and to Shakespeare
, by way of illustrating his point that the literature which is of use is the literature that is not honored as such when it is written.]
So it is with government.
Government arrogates to itself that it alone forms men. As well might the man down here in the court-house, who registers the birth of children, imagine that he was the father of all the children he registers.
[Loud laughter.] Everybody knows that government never began anything.
It is the whole world that thinks and governs.
Books, churches, governments, are what we make them.
is Catholic, and has a pope; but she is the most tolerant country in the world in matters of religion.
is Protestant, and has toleration written all over her statute-book; but she has a pope in every village, and the first thing that tests a boy's courage is to dare to differ from his father.
why, we have got two as signal popes as they had in Europe
three centuries ago,--there is Belows
[Great merriment, followed by loud applause.] So with government.
Some think government forms men. Let us take an example.
Take Sir Robert Peel
as measures and examples; two great men, remarkably alike.
them ever had an original idea.
[Laughter.] Neither kept long any idea he borrowed.
Both borrowed from any quarter, high or low, north or south, friend or enemy.
Both were weathercocks, not winds; creatures, not creators.
's idol,--the unquestioned head of the statesmen of the age; Webster
the disgraced and bankrupt chief of a broken and ruined party.
Why? Examine the difference.
borrowed free trade of Calhoun
, and tariff of Clay
; took his constitutional principles from Marshall
, his constitutional learning from Story, and his doctrine of treason from Mr. George Ticknor Curtis
[laughter]; and he followed Channing
a little way, then turned doughface in the wake of Douglas
[applause and a few hisses]; at first, with Algernon Sidney
(my blood boils yet as I think how I used to declaim it), he declared the best legacy he could leave his children was free speech and the example of using it; then of Preston S. Brooks
he took lessons in smothering discussion and hunting slaves.
In 1820, when the world was asleep, he rebuked the slave-trade; in 1850, when the battle was hottest, he let Everett
omit from his works all the best antislavery utterances!
Sir Robert Peel
was just like him. He “changed every opinion, violated” (so says one of the Reviews) “every pledge, broke up every party, and deserted every colleague he ever had,” yet his sun went down in glory.
Why? Because his step was ever onward; he lived to learn.
Every change was a sacrifice, and he could truly use, in 1829, the glorious Latin Webster
borrowed of him, “Vera pro gratis,
”--“I tell you unwelcome truth.”
's steps, crab-like, were backwards.
[Applause and hisses.] Hisses well, “Because thou art virtuous, shall there be no more cakes and ale?”
Because you have your prejudices, shall there be no history written
Our task is unlike that of some recent meetings,--History
, not flattery.
moved by compulsion or calculation, not by conviction.
He sunk from free trade to a tariff; from Chief Justice Marshall
to Mr. George Ticknor Curtis
; from Garrison
; from Algernon Sidney
to the slave overseers.
I read in this one of the dangers of our form of government.
says so wisely, “The weakness of a Democracy is that, unless guarded, it merges in despotism.”
Such a life is the first step, and half a dozen are the Niagara
carrying us over.
But both “builded better than they knew.”
Both forced the outward world to think for itself, and become statesmen.
No man, says D'Israeli
, ever weakened government so much as Peel
Thank Heaven for that!--so much gained.
Changing every day, their admirers were forced to learn to think for themselves.
In the country once I lived with a Democrat who never had an opinion on the day's news till he had read the Boston Post.
[Laughter.] Such close imitation is a little too hard.
's retainers fell off into the easier track of doing their own thinking.
A German, once sketching a Middlesex County
landscape, took a cow for his fixed point of perspective; she moved, and his whole picture was a muddle.
was a muddle; hence came the era of outside agitation,--and those too lazy to think for themselves at least took a fixed point for their political perspective,--Garrison
or Charles Sumner
, for instance.
continued by remarking that all the people had ever asked of government was, not to take a step ahead, not to originate anything, but only to Undo its mistakes
, to take its foot from off its victim, take away its custom-houses, abolish its absurd and wicked legislation and free the slave.
He then proceeded to urge upon his
hearers the importance of free individual thought,--the questioning of whatever came before us, with an honest desire and effort to reach truth.] He said:--
We shall have enough to do if we do our duty.
The world is awake,--some wholly, and some only half.
Men who gather their garments scornfully and close about them when their fellows offer to express sympathy for the bravest scholar and most Christian minister the liberal New England
sects know,--these timid little souls make daily uproar in the market-place, crying for a Broad
Church, a Broad
Church,--and one who lives by venturing a bold theory to-day, and spending to-morrow in taking it back, finding that he has been
Dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing out,
assures you that it is not cowardice, but lack of candles and of a liturgy, that makes him useless; and, kind-souled man, he apologizes, and begs us not to be startled with his strange new views, having lived so long in the thin air of his own vanity that he does not know we have had a broad Church for fifteen years,--broad enough for all races and colors, all sects, creeds, and parties, for heads and hearts too; broad enough to help the poor, teach the ignorant, shield the weak, raise the fallen, and lift the high higher, to honor God and earn the hate of bad men,--ministered to by one whose broad diocese is bounded on the north by the limits of habitable land, runs west with civilization, and east with the English
language, and on the south stretches to the line where men stop thinking and live only to breathe and to steal.
This Broad-Church reformer knows his place so little, that he sneers at spiritualism and socialism, as “vices entitled to no terms.”
One, an honest effort, however mistaken, to make all men wholly and really brothers in life, property, and thought; and the other, that reaching
into the land of spirit which has stirred the heart and roused the brain of the best men of all ages, and given to literature its soul.
Does he give no heed to that profound maxim of Coleridge
,--“There are errors which no wise man will treat with rudeness while there is a probability that they may be the refraction of some great truth still below the horizon” ?
Yes, this “Broad Church” !--humanity would weep if it ever came, for one of its doctrines is, that the statute-book is more binding than the Sermon on the Mount, and that the rights of private judgment are a curse.
Save us from a Church not broad enough to cover woman and the slave, all the room being kept for the grog-shop and the theatre,--provided the one will keep sober enough to make the responses, and the other will lend its embroidered rags for this new baby-house.
[Laughter and applause.]
The honors we grant mark how high we stand, and they educate the future.
The men we honor, and the maxims we lay down in measuring our favorites, show the level and morals of the time.
Two names have been in every one's mouth of late, and men have exhausted language in trying to express their admiration and their respect.
The courts have covered the grave of Mr. Choate
Let us see what is their idea of a great lawyer.
We are told that “he worked hard,” “he never neglected his client,” “he flung over the discussions of the forum the grace of a rare scholarship,” ( “no pressure or emergency ever stirred him to an unkind word.”
A ripe scholar, a profound lawyer, a faithful servant of his client, a gentleman.
This is a good record surely.
May he sleep in peace!
What he earned, God grant he may have!
But the bar that seeks to claim for such a one a place among great jurists must itself be weak indeed; for this is only to make him out the one-eyed
monarch of the blind.
Not one high moral trait specified; not one patriotic act mentioned; not one patriotic service even claimed.
Look at Mr. Webster
's idea of what a lawyer should be in order to be called great, in the sketch he drew of Jeremiah Mason
, and notice what stress he lays on the religious and moral elevation, and the glorious and high purposes which crowned his life!
Nothing of this now!
did testify for Mr. Choate
's religion [laughter and applause]; but the law maxim is, that a witness should be trusted only in matters he understands, and that evidence, therefore, amounts to nothing.
[Merriment.] Incessant eulogy; but not a word of one effort to lift the yoke of cruel or unequal legislation from the neck of its victim; not one attempt to make the code of his country wiser, purer, better; not one effort to bless his times or breathe a higher moral purpose into the community; not one blow struck for right or for liberty, while the battle of the giants was going on about him; not one patriotic act to stir the hearts of his idolaters; not one public act of any kind whatever about whose merit friend or foe could even quarrel, unless when he scouted our great charter as a “glittering generality,” or jeered at the philanthropy which tried to practise the Sermon on the Mount!
, the Roman Senator
, whom Tiberius
murdered, was addressing his fellows, he began: “Fathers, they accuse me of illegal words; plain proof that there are no illegal deeds with which to charge me.”
So with these eulogies,--words, nothing but words; plain proof that there were no deeds to praise.
The divine can tell us nothing but that he handed a chair or a dish as nobody else could [laughter]; in politics, we are assured he did not wish to sail outside of Daniel Webster; and the Cambridge Professor
tells his pupils, for their special instruction, that he did not dare t6
think in religion, for fear he should differ from South-side Adams
[Loud laughter and applause.] The Professor
strains his ethics to prove that a good man may defend a bad man. Useless waste of labor!
, travellers tell us that the women, wholly naked, are very careful to veil their faces.
So the Professor
strains his ethics to cover this one fault.
Useless, Sir, while the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint.
Yet this is the model which Massachusetts
offers to the Pantheon of the great jurists of the world!
Suppose we stood in that lofty temple of jurisprudence, --on either side of us the statues of the great lawyers of every age and clime,--and let us see what part New England
, educated, free New England
--would bear in the pageant.
points to a colossal figure and says, “That is Papinian, who, when the Emperor Caracalla murdered his own brother, and ordered the lawyer to defend the deed, went cheerfully to death, rather than sully his lips with the atrocious plea; and that is Ulpian, who, aiding his prince to put the army below the law, was massacred at the foot of a weak, but virtuous throne.”
stretches forth her grateful hands, crying, “That is D'Aguesseau
, worthy, when he went to face an enraged king, of the farewell his wife addressed him,--‘ Go!
forget that you have a wife and children to ruin, and remember only that you have France
says, “That is Coke
, who flung the laurels of eighty years in the face of the first Stuart
, in defence of the people.
This is Selden
, on every book of whose library you saw written the motto of which he lived worthy, ‘ Before everything, Liberty
That is Mansfield
tongued, who proclaimed,
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free.
This is Romilly
, who spent life trying to make law synonymous
with justice, and succeeded in making life and property safer in every city of the empire.
And that is Erskine
, whose eloquence, spite of Lord Eldon and George III., made it safe to speak and to print.”
Then New England
shouts, “This is Choate
, who made it safe to murder; and of whose health thieves asked before hey began to steal.”
had a lawyer once, worthy to stand in that Pantheon; one whose untiring energy held up the right arm of Horace Mann
, and made this age and all coming ones his debtors; one whose clarion voice and life of consistent example waked the faltering pulpit to its duty in the cause of temperance, laying on that altar the hopes of his young ambition; one whose humane and incessant efforts to make the penal code worthy, of our faith and our age ranked his name with McIntosh
, with Bentham
, Beccaria, and Livingston
Best of all, one who had some claim to say, with Selden
, “Above all things, liberty
,” for in the slave's battle his voice was of the bravest,--Robert Rantoul
[Prolonged and hearty plaudits.] He died crowned with the laurels both of the Forum and Senate-house
The Suffolk Bar took no note of his death.
No tongue stirred the air of the courts to do him honor.
“When vice is useful, it is a crime to be virtuous,” says the Roman
Of that crime, Beacon Street, State Street, and Andover
had judged Rantoul
The State, for the second time in her history, offers a pedestal for the statue of a citizen.
Such a step deserves thought.
On this let us dare to think.
Always think twice when saints and sinners, honest men and editors, agree in a eulogy.
[Laughter.] All wonders deserve investigation, specially when men dread it.
No man criticises when private friendship moulds the loved form in
Stone that breathes and struggle,
Or brass at seem to speak!
Let Mr. Webster
's friends crowd their own halls and grounds with his bust and statue.
That is no concern of ours.
But when they ask the State
to join in doing him honor, we are natives of Massachusetts
, and claim the right to express an opinion.
It is a grave thing when a State puts a man among her jewels,--especially one whose friends frown on discussion,--the glitter of whose fame makes doubtful acts look heroic.
One paper, a tea-table critic, warns a speaker not born in the State
to cease his criticism of the Webster
I do not know why Massachusetts
may not import critics as well as heroes; for, let us be thankful, Webster
was no Boston
boy. But be sure you exercise your right to think Now.
His eulogy has tasked the ripest genius and the heartiest zeal.
Some men say his eulogist has no heart.
That is a mistake and cruel injustice!
As the French
wit said of Fontenelle
, he “has as good a heart as can be made out of brains.”
[Laughter.] No matter what act Webster
did, no matter how foul the path he trod, he never lacked some one to gild it with a Greek anecdote, or hide it in a blaze of declamation!
I do not say the deed was always whitened, but surely it was something that the eulogist shared the stain.
They say in England
that when Charles X., an exile in England
, hunted there, others floundered through mud and water as they could, but the exiled king was followed by a valet who flung himself down in his path and Charles walked over him as indifferently as if he had really been a plank.
How clean the king kept, I do not know.
The valet got very muddy.
A striking picture of Webster
and his eulogists!
His bronze figure stands on the State-House Green
Standing there, it reminds me of some lines, written in an album by Webster
, when asked to place his name under that of John Adams
If by his name I write my own,
'T will take me where I am not known;
The cold salute will meet my ear,--
“Pray, stranger, how did you come here ”
In the printed speech of Mr. Everett
, you will find three feet,--exactly one yard,--by newspaper measurement, about the Northeastern Boundary
map with a red line on it
! but not a line, or hardly one, relating to the great treason of the 7th of March, 1850.
The words he dared to speak, his friends dare not repeat; the life he dared to live, his friends dare not describe, at the foot of his statue!
To mention now what he thought his great achievement will be deemed unkind
's silence was wise.
He could not blame; nature denied him the courage.
He was too wary to praise, for he recollected the French
proverb, “Some compliments are curses.”
So he obeyed the English
statesman's rule, “When you have nothing to say, be sure and say nothing.”
But that is the printed speech.
It seems some meddlesome fellow stood within reach of the speaker, and actually circulated, it is said, petitions for the removal of the statue from the public grounds.
Then the orator forgot his caution, and interpolated a few unpremeditated sentences, “very forcible and eloquent,” says the press, specially intended for this critic; terming this impudent meddler “Mr. Immaculate
,” and quoting for his special benefit the parable of the Pharisee and Publican,--“God be merciful to me a sinner!”
Singular eulogy, to make out his idol a miserable “sinner” ! [Laughter.] Is this the usual method, Mr. Chairman
, of proving one's right to a statue?
The Publican repented, and was forgiven; but is a statue, ten feet high, cast in bronze, a usual element of forgiveness?
And, mark, the Publican repented
. When did Mr. Webster
repent, either in person or by the proxy
of Mr. Edward Everett
We have no such record.
The sm is confessed, acknowledged, as a mistake at least; but there's no repentance!
Let us look a little into this doctrine of statues for sinners.
Take Aaron Burr
Tell of his daring in Canada
, his watch on the Hudson
, of submissive juries, of his touching farewell to the Senate.
“But then there was that indiscretion as to Hamilton
Well, Mr. Immaculate
, remember “the Publican.”
Or suppose we take Benedict Arnold
,--brave in Connecticut
, gallant at Quebec
, recklessly daring before Burgoyne
“But that little peccadillo at West point” Think of “the Publican,” Mr. Immaculate
Why, on this principle, one might claim a statue for Milton
He was brave, faithful to his party, eloquent, shrewd about many a map “with a red line on it” ! There's only that trifle of the apple to forgive and forget in these generous and charitable days!
No, if he wants an illustration, with due humility, I can give the orator a great deal better one.
had a brother as witty as himself, and a great hater of O'Connell
” (for so they called him) had one day marshalled O'Connell
's faults at a dinner-talk, when his opponent flung back a glowing record of the great Irishman
looked down a moment.
“Well, such a man,--such a mixture; the only way would be to hang him first, and then erect a statue to him under the gallows.”
A disputed statue rising out of a sea of angry contempt, half-hearted admiration, and apologetic eulogy, reminds me of the Frenchman tottering up, at eighty years old, to vote for Louis Bonaparte
“Why, he is a scoundrel,” said Victor Hugo
“True,--very true,--but he is a necessary
“Ah,” as the Greek said, “many men know how to flatter, few men know how to praise.”
These Cambridge Professors and fair-weather eulogists have no ability to
,--either his capacity or his faults.
They were dazzled blind by the splendor of his endowments, they were lost in the tumult of his vices.
's estimate is the truest ever made.
History will adopt it as her verdict.
His head and heart were the only ones large enough to grasp the subject, and brave enough to paint it truly.
[Enthusiastic applause.] The real admirer of Webster
turns from these French daubs to find there the cool, truthful tone of Raphael, and feels that the statesman has met there his kindest critic, and the man his most appreciating judge.
Accuse us not if we award him blame as well as praise.
As I said just now, our task is history, not flattery.
I know well that every statesman must compromise; but, as Macaulay
says, “A public man is often under the necessity of consenting to measures he dislikes, to save others he thinks important.
But the historian is under no such necessity.
On the contrary, it is one of his most sacred duties to point out Clearly
the errors of those whose general conduct he approves.”
If this be true of “errors
,” how still more sacred this duty when the question is one of treachery to Liberty herself!
Blame me not that I again open the record, Mr. Chairman
His injudicious friends will not let him die. Indeed, the heavy yoke he laid on innocent and friendless victims frets and curses them yet too keenly to allow him to be forgotten.
He reaps only what he sowed.
In the Talmud, the Jews have a story that Og, King
, lifted once a great rock, to hurl it on the armies of Judah
God hollowed it in the middle, letting it slip over the giant's neck, there to rest while he lived.
This man lifted the Fugitive-Slave Bill
to hurl it, as at Syracuse
, on the trembling and hunted slave, and God has hung it like a millstone about his neck forevermore.
[Applause.] While the echoes of Everett
's periods still lingered in our
streets, as I stood with the fresh-printed sheet of his eulogy in my hand, there came to me a man, successful after eight attempts, in flying from bondage.
Week after week he had been in the woods, half starved, seeking in vain a shelter.
For months he had pined in dungeons, waiting the sullen step of his master.
At last God blessed his eighth effort, and he stood in Boston
, on his glad way from the vulture of the States to the safe refuge of English law. He showed me his broad bosom scarred all over with the branding-iron, his back one mass of record how often the lash had tortured him for his noble efforts to get free.
As I looked at him, the empty and lying eulogy dropped from my nerveless hand, and I thanked God that statue and eulogy both were only a horrid nightmare, and that there were still roofs in Boston
, safe shelter for these heroic children of God's right hand.
But you and I, Mr. Chairman
, were born in Massachusetts
, and we cannot but remember that the character of the State
is shown by the character of those it crowns.
A brave old Englishman tells us the Greeks “had officers who did pluck down statues if they exceeded due symmetry and proportion.
We need such now,” he adds, “to order monuments according to men's merits.”
Indeed we do!
Daniel Webster said, on Bunker Hill
, in one of his most glorious bursts of eloquence: “That motionless shaft will be the most powerful of speakers.
Its speech will be of civil and religious liberty.
It will speak of patriotism and of courage.
It will speak of the moral improvement and elevation of mankind.
Decrepit age will lean against its base, and ingenuous youth gather round it, speak to each other of the glorious events with which it is connected, and exclaim, ‘ Thank God I also am an American I’ ” It is a glorious lesson, and the noble old shaft tells it daily.
But when ingenuous youth stand at his pedestal, what will they say?
Alas that your
latest effort was to sneer at a “higher law” Most able and eloquent advocate I could you find no other cause to plead than that of our lowest instincts against our highest and holiest sentiments?
Alas that your last and ablest argument was the duty of hunting slaves!
Fated to die not very old, and yet live long enough to see all the plans of your manhood become obsolete ideas, except just those you had abandoned!
Surely you were a great party leader!
for you found the Whig party strong, spent life in its service, and died prophesying its annihilation; found it decent, at least in profession, left it despicable in utter shamelessness; found it the natural ally of free labor and free speech, stirred it to a contest with its rival in servile bidding for Southern fellowship, and left it despicable for the attempt, and still more despicable and ridiculous for its failure!
The curses of the poor have blighted your laurels.
You were mourned in ceiled houses and the marts of trade; but the dwellers in slave-huts and fugitives along the highways thanked God, when you died, that they had one enemy the less.
Wherever that terrible face turned, it carried gloom to the bondman.
On how many a humble hearth did it cost the loftiest Christian principle to forbear calling down curses on your head!
“ And yet your flatterers tell us this was the ‘ grandest growth of our soil and institutions I ’ this the noblest heart Massachusetts
can offer to the world for a place beside the Phocions and the Hampdens, the Jays and the Fayettes Thank
God, then, we are not Massachusetts
When I think of the long term and wide reach of his influence, and look at the subjects of his speeches,--the mere shells of history, drum-and-trumpet declamation, dry law, or selfish bickerings about trade,--when I think of his bartering the hopes of four million of bondmen for the chances of his private ambition, I recall the criticism
on Lord Eldon,--“No man ever did
his race so much good as Eldon prevented
Again, when I remember the close of his life spent in ridiculing the antislavery movement as useless abstraction, moonshine, “mere rub-a-dub agitation,” because it did not minister to trade and gain, methinks I seem to see written all over his statue Tocqueville
's conclusion from his survey of French and American Democracy,--“The man who seeks freedom for anything but freedom's self, is made to be a slave
Monuments, anniversaries, statues, are schools, Mr. Webster
tells us, whose lessons sink deep.
Is this man's life a lesson which the State
can commend to her sons?
, as usual, embalmed his idol in a Greek anecdote.
It is a good storehouse.
Let us open it. In that great argument which gave us the two most consummate orations of antiquity, the question was whether Athens
should grant Demosthenes
He had fled from battle, and his counsels, though heroic, brought the city to ruin.
His speech is the masterpiece of all eloquence.
Of the accusation by Aeschines
, it is praise enough to say that it stands second only to that.
In it Aeschines
warns the Athenians that in granting crowns they judged themselves, and were forming the characters of their children.
His noble burst is worth translating:--
“ Most of all, fellow-citizens, if your sons ask whose example they shall imitate, what will you say?
For you know well it is not music, nor the gymnasium, nor the schools that mould young men; it is much more the public proclamations, the public example.
If you take one whose life has no high purpose, one who mocks at morals, and crown him in the theatre, every boy who sees it is corrupted.
When a bad man suffers his deserts, the people learn,--on the contrary, when a man votes
against what is noble and just
, [how exactly he describes this case!] and then
comes home to teach his son, the boy will very properly say, ‘Your lesson is impertinent and a bore.’
Beware, therefore, Athenians, remembering posterity will rejudge your judgment, and that the character of a city is determined by the character of the men it crowns.”
I recommend this page of Aeschines
to Mr. Felton
Has the State
, then, no worthier sons, that she needs import such poor material?
Within her bosom rests the dust of Horace Mann
, whose name hundreds of thousands of children on Western prairies, looking up to Massachusetts
teachers, learn to bless.
He bears the sceptre of Massachusetts
influence to the shores of the Pacific
When at the head of our Normal School, a colored girl was admitted, and the narrow prejudice of Newton
closed every door against her, “Come to my table; let my roof, then, be your home,” said Mr. Mann
[Hearty applause.] Antioch College staggered under $60,000 debt.
One, bearing the form of a man, came to its President
, and said, “I will pay one sixth, if you will promise me no negro shall enter its halls.”
“Let it perish first,” was Horace Mann
[Renewed and enthusiastic applause.] The Legislature are asked to put his statue opposite Webster
's. O no. When the Emperor
makes his horse a consul, honest men decline a share in the consulship.
While that ill-used iron stands there, our State is in bad odor to offer statues to anybody.
, one of the Hanse towns
, they will show you, in their treasury, the sword which, two hundred years ago, beheaded a lawless Baron
for daring to carry off his fugitive slave from the shelter of the city walls.
Our great slave-hunter is beyond the reach of man's sword; but if any noble soul in the State
will stir our mother Massachusetts
to behead his image, we will cherish the name of that true Massachusetts
boy as sacredly as they keep the brave old sword at Reval
[Loud and prolonged applause.]