Slike strani

much most of all, last of all, after the war with Mexico, needless if his counsels had governed, had ended in so vast an acquisition of territory, in presenting to the two great antagonist sections of our country so vast an area to enter on, so imperial a prize to contend for, and the accursed fraternal strife had begun—how much then, when rising to the measure of a true, and difficult, and rare greatness, remembering that he had a country to save as well as a local constituency to gratify, laying all the wealth, all the hopes, of an illustrions life on the altar of a hazardous patriotism, he sought and won the more exceeding glory which now attends—which in the next age shall more conspicuously attend—his name who composes an agitated and saves a sinking land; recall this series of conduct and influences, study them carefully in their facts and results, the reading of years—and you attain to a true appreciation of this aspect of his greatness—his public character and life.*


MR. WEBSTER delivered this address at the should pass that portion of our existence, which laying of the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill God allows to men on earth.

We do not read even of the discovery of this Monument, on the seventeenth of June, 1825.

continent, without feeling something of a per

sonal interest in the event; without being reThis uncounted multitude before me, and minded how much it has atfected our own foraround me, proves the feeling which the occa- tunes, and our own existence. It is more imsion has excited. These thousands of human possible for us, therefore, than for others, to faces, glowing with sympathy and joy, and, contemplate with unaffected minds that intefrom the impulses of a common gratitude, resting, I may say, that most touching and turned reverently to heaven, in this spacious pathetic scene, when the great Discoverer of temple of the firmament, proclaim that the day, America stood on the deck of his shattered the place, and the purpose of our assembling bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet have made a deep impression on our hearts. no man sleeping; tossed on the billows of an

It, indeed, there be any thing in local associa- unknown ocean, yet the stronger billows of tion fit to affect the mind of man, we need not alternate hope and despair tossing his own strive to repress the emotions which agitate us troubled thoughts; extending forward his hahere. We are among the sepulchres of our rassed frame, straining westward his anxious fathers. We are on ground distinguished by and eager eyes, till heaven at last granted him their valor, their constancy, and the shedding a moment of rapture and ecstasy, in blessing of their blood. We are here, not to fix an un- his vision with the sight of the unknown world. certain date in our annals, nor to draw into Nearer to our times, more closely connected notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our with our fates, and therefore still more interesthumble purpose had never been conceived, if ing to our feelings and affections, is the settlewe ourselves had never been born, the 17th of ment of our own country by colonists from June, 1775, would have been a day on which England. We cherish every memorial of these all subsequent history would have poured its worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience light, and the eminence where we stand, a point and fortitude; we admire their daring enterof attraction to the eyes of successive genera- prise; we teach our children to venerate their tions. But we are Americans. We live in piety; and we are justly proud of being dewhat may be called the early age of this great scended from men who have set the world an continent; and we know that our posterity, example of founding civil institutions on the through all time, are here to suffer and enjoy great and united principles of human freedom the allotments of humanity. We see before us and human knowledge. To us, their children, a probable train of great events; we know that the story of their labors and sufferings can our own fortunes have been happily cast; and never be without its interest. We shall not it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while by the contemplation of occurrences which have the sea continues to wash it; nor will our guided our destiny before many of us were brethren, in another early and ancient colony, born, and settled the condition in which we forget the place of its first establishment, till

their river shall cease to flow by it. No vigor

of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead * Discourse delivered before the Faculty, Students and the nation to forget the spots where its infancy Alumni of Dartmouth College, the day preceding Com

was cradled and defended. mencement, July 27, 1853, commemorative of Daniel Web- But the great event, in the history of the ster, by Rufus Choate, page 40.

continent, which we are now met here to commemorate ; that prodigy of modern times, at benefit, which has been conferred on our own once the wonder and the blessing of the world, land, and of the happy influences which have is the American Revolution. In a day of ex- been produced, by the same events, on the traordinary prosperity and happiness, of high general interests of mankind. We come, az national honor, distinction, and power, we are Americans, to mark a spot which must for ever brought together, in this place, by our love of be dear to us and our posterity. We wish, that country, by our admiration of exalted character, whosoever, in all coming time, shall turn his by our gratitude for signal services and patri- eye hither, may behold that the place is not unotic devotion.

distinguished where the first great battle of the The society, whose organ I am, was formed Revolution was fought. We wish that this for the purpose of rearing some honorable and structure may proclaim the magnitude and imdurable monument to the memory of the early portance of that event, to every class and every friends of American Independence. They have age. We wish that infancy may learn the purthought, that for this object no time could be pose of its erection from maternal lips, and more propitious than the present prosperous that weary and withered age may behold it. and peaceful period; that no place could claim and be solaced by the recollections which it preference over this memorable spot; and that suggests. We wish that labor may look up no day could be more auspicious to the under- here, and be proud, in the midst of its toil. taking, than the anniversary of the battle which We wish that, in those days of disaster, which, was here fought. The foundation of that monu- as they come on all nations, must be expected ment we have now laid. With solemnities to come on us also, desponding patriotism may suited to the occasion, with prayers to Al- turn its eyes hitherward, and be assured that mighty God for his blessing, and in the midst the foundations of our national power still stand of this cloud of witnesses, we have begun the strong, We wish that this column, rising work. We trust it will be prosecuted, and that towards heaven among the pointed spires of so springing from a broad foundation, rising high many temples dedicated to God, may contribute in massive solidity and unadorned grandeur, it also to produce, in all minds, a pious feeling of may remain, as long as heaven permits the dependence and gratitude. We wish, finally, works of man to last, a fit emblem, both of the that the last object on the sight of him who events in memory of which it is raised, and of leaves his native shore, and the first to gladden the gratitude of those who have reared it. his who revisits it, may be something which

We know, indeed, that the record of illustri- shall remind him of the liberty and the glory ous actions is most safely deposited in the uni- of his country. Let it rise, till it meet the sun versal remembrance of mankind. We know in his coming; let the earliest light of the mornthat if we could cause this structure to ascend, ing gild it, and parting day linger and play on not only till it reached the skies, but till it its summit. pierced them, its broad surfaces could still con- We live in a most extraordinary age. Events tain but part of that, which, in an age of know- so various and so important, that they might ledge, hath already been spread over the earth, crowd and distinguish centuries, are, in our and which history charges itself with making times, compressed within the compass of a single known to all future times. We know that no life. When has it happened that history has inscription on entablatures less broad than the had so much to record, in the same term of years, earth itself, can carry information of the events as since the 17th of June, 1775 ? Our own revowe commemorate, where it has not already lution, which, under other circumstances, might gone; and that no structure, which shall not itself have been expected to occasion a war of outlive the duration of letters and knowledge half a century, has been achieved ; twenty-four among men, can prolong the memorial. But sovereign and independent States erected; and our object is, by this edifice to show our own a general government established over them, so deep sense of the value and importance of the safe, so wise, so free, so practical, that we might achievements of our ancestors; and, by pre-well wonder its establishment should have been senting this work of gratitude to the eye, to accomplished so soon, were it not for the greater keep alive similar sentiments, and to foster a wonder that it should have been established at constant regard for the principles of the Revo- all. Two or three millions of people have been lution. Human beings are composed not of augmented to twelve; and the great forests of reason only, but of imagination also, and senti- the West prostrated beneath the arm of successment; and that is neither wasted nor misap- ful industry; and the dwellers on the banks of plied which is appropriated to the purpose of the Ohio and the Mississippi, become the fellowgiving right direction to sentiments, and open- citizens and neighbors of those who cultivate ing proper springs of feeling in the heart. Let the hills of New England. We have a comit not be supposed that our object is to perpetu- merce, that leaves no sea unexplored; navies, ate national hostility, or even to cherish a mere which take no law from superior force; revemilitary spirit. It is higher, purer, nobler. We nues, adequate to all the exigencies of governconsecrate our work to the spirit of national ment, almost without taxation; and peace with independence, and we wish that the light of all nations, founded on equal rights and mutual peace may rest upon it for ever. We rear a respect. Inemorial of our conviction of that unmeasured Europe, within the same period, has been


agitated by a mighty revolution, which, while it | but your country's own means of distinction has been felt in the individual condition and and defence. All is peace; and God has granted happiness of almost every man, has shaken to you this sight of your country's happiness, ere the centre her political fabric, and dashed you slumber in the grave for ever. He has al. against one another thrones, which had stood lowed you to behold and to partake the reward tranquil for ages. On this, our continent, our of your patriotic toils; and he has allowed us, own example has been followed; and colonies your sons and countrymen, to meet you here, have sprung up to be nations. Unaccustomed and in the name of the present generation, in sounds of liberty and free government have the name of your country, in the name of reached us from beyond the track of the sun ; liberty, to thank you! and at this moment the dominion of European But, alas ! you are not all here! Time and power, in this continent, from the place where the sword have thinned your ranks. Prescott, we stand to the south pole, is annihilated for Putnam, Stark, Brooks, Read, Pomeroy, Bridge!

our eyes seek for you in vain amidst this broken In the mean time, both in Europe and America, band. You are gathered to your fathers, and such has been the general progress of knowl- live only to your country in her grateful rememedge ; such the improvements in legislation, in brance, and your own bright example. But commerce, in the arts, in letters, and above all | let us not too much grieve, that you have met in liberal 'ideas, and the general spirit of the the common fate of men. You lived, at least, age, that the whole world seems changed. long enough to know that your work had been

Yet, notwithstanding that this is but a faint nobly and successfully accomplished. You lived abstract of the things which have happened to see your country's independence established, since the day of the battle of Bunker Hill, we and to sheathe your swords from war. On the are but fifty years removed from it; and we light of Liberty you saw arise the light of now stand here to enjoy all the blessings of our Peace, like own condition, and to look abroad on the

another morn, brightened prospects of the world, while we

Risen on mid-noon;'hold still among us some of those, who were active agents in the scenes of 1775, and who are and the sky, on which you closed your eyes, now here, from every quarter of New England, was cloudless. to visit, once more, and under circumstances so But-ah !-Him! the first great Martyr in affecting, I had almost said so overwhelming, this great cause! Him! the premature victim this renowned theatre of their courage and of his own self-devoting heart! Him! the head patriotism.

of our civil councils, and the destined leader of VENEP ABLE MEN! you have come down to us, our military bands; whom nothing brought from a former generation. Heaven has boun- | hither, but the unquenchable fire of his own teously lengthened out your lives, that you spirit; him! cut off by Providence, in the hour might behold this joyous day. You are now, of overwhelming anxiety and thick gloom ; where you stood, fifty years ago, this very hour, falling, ere he saw the star of his country rise; with your brothers, and your neighbors, shoul- pouring out his generous blood, like water, beder to shoulder, in the strife for your country. fore he knew whether it would fertilize a land Behold, how altered! The same heavens are of freedom or of bondage! how shall I struggle indeed over your heads; the same ocean rolls with the emotions, that stifle the utterance of at your feet; but all else, how changed! You thy name! Our poor work may perish; but hear now no roar of hostile cannon, you see no thine shall endure! This monument may moulmixed volumes of smoke and flame rising from der away; the solid ground it rests upon may burning Charlestown. The ground strewed sink down to a level with the sea; but thy with the dead and the dying; the impetuous memory shall not fail! Wheresoever among charge; the steady and successful repulse ; the men a heart shall be found that beats to the loud call to repeated assault; the summoning transports of patriotism and liberty, its aspiraof all that is manly to repeated resistance; a tions shall be to claim kindred with thy spirit ! thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly bared in But the scene amidst which we stand does an instant to whatever of terror there may be not permit us to confine our thoughts or our in war and death; all these you have witnessed, sympathies to those fearless spirits who hazarded but you witness them no more. All is peace. or lost their lives on this consecrated spot. We The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers have the happiness to rejoice here in the presand roofs, which you then saw filled with wivesence of a most worthy representation of the and children, and countrymen in distress and survivors of the whole Revolutionary Army. terror, and looking with unutterable emotions VETERANS! you are the remnant of many a for the issue of the combat, have presented you well-fought field. You bring with you marks to-day with the sight of its whole happy popu- of honor from Trenton and Monmouth, from lation, come out to welcome and greet you with Yorktown, Camden, Bennington, and Saratoga. an universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a VETERANS OF HALF A CENTURY! when in your

licity of position appropriately lying at the youthful days, you put every thing at hazard in foot of this mount, and seeming fondly to cling your country's cause, good as that cause was, around it, are not means of annoyance to you, and sanguine as youth is, still your fondest hopes

did not stretch onward to an hour like this! | miserable proffer was spurned, in a tone of the At a period to which you could not reasonably most lofty self-respect, and the most indignant have expected to arrive; at a moment of na- patriotism. “We are deeply affected,” said its tional prosperity, such as you could never have inhabitants, “with the sense of our public caforeseen, you are now met here, to enjoy the lamities; but the miseries that are now rapidly fellowship of old soldiers, and to receive the hastening on our brethren in the capital of the overflowings of an universal gratitude. province, greatly excite our commiseration. By

But your agitated countenances and your shutting up the port of Boston, some imagine heaving breasts inform me that even this is not that the course of trade might be turned hither, an unmixed joy. I perceive that a tumult of and to our benefit; but we must be dead to contending feelings rushes upon you. The every idea of justice, lost to all feelings of huimages of the dead, as well as the persons of manity, could we indulge a thought to seize on the living, throng to your embraces. The scene wealth, and raise our fortunes on the ruin of overwhelins you, and I turn from it. May the our suffering neighbors." These noble sentiFather of all mercies smile upon your declining ments were not confined to our immediate viyears, and bless them! And when you shall cinity. In that day of general affection and here have exchanged your embraces; when you brotherhood, the blow given to Boston smote shall once more have pressed the hands which on every patriotic heart, from one end of the have been so often extended to give succor in country to the other. Virginia and the Caroadversity, or grasped in the exultation of vic- linas, as well as Connecticut and New Hamptory; then look abroad into this lovely land, shiré, felt and proclaimed the cause to be their which your young valor defended, and mark the own. The Continental Congress, then holding happiness with which it is filled; yea, look its first session in Philadelphia, expressed its abroad into the whole earth, and see what a sympathy for the suffering inhabitants of Bosname you have contributed to give to your ton, and addresses were received from all quarcountry, and what a praise you have added to ters, assuring them that the cause was a comfreedom, and then rejoice in the sympathy and mon one, and should be met by common efforts gratitude which beam upon your last days from and common sacrifices. The Congress of Masthe improved condition of mankind.

sachusetts responded to these assurances; and The occasion does not require of me any par- in an address to the Congress at Philadelphia, ticular account of the battle of the 17th of June, bearing the official signature, perhaps among nor any detailed narrative of the events which the last, of the immortal Warren, notwithstandimmediately preceded it. These are familiarly ing the severity of its suffering, and the magknown to all. In the progress of the great and nitude of the dangers which threatened it, it interesting controversy, Massachusetts and the was declared, that this colony "is ready, at all town of Boston had become early and marked times, to spend and to be spent in the cause of objects of the displeasure of the British Par- America."* liament. This had been manifested in the Act But the hour drew nigh, which was to put for altering the Government of the Province, professions to the proof, and to determine and in that for shutting up the port of Boston. whether the authors of these mutual pledges Nothing sheds more honor on our early history, were ready to seal them in blood. The tidings and nothing better shows how little the feelings of Lexington and Concord had no sooner spread, and sentiments of the colonies were known or than it was universally felt that the time was at regarded in England, than the impression which last come for action. A spirit pervaded all these measures everywhere produced in Amer- ranks, not transient, not boisterous, but deep, ica. It had been anticipated, that while the solemn, determined, other colonies would be terrified by the severity of the punishment inflicted on Massachusetts,

"totamque infusa per artus

Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet." the other seaports would be governed by a mere spirit of gain; and that, as Boston was now cut War, on their own soil and at their own doors, off from all commerce, the unexpected advan- was, indeed, a strange work to the yeomanry tage which this blow on her was calculated to of New England; but their consciences were confer on other towns, would be greedily en- convinced of its necessity, their country called joyed. How miserably such reasoners deceived them to it, and they did not withhold themthemselves! How little they knew of the depth, selves from the perilous trial. The ordinary and the strength, and the intenseness of that occupations of life were abandoned; the plough feeling of resistance to illegal acts of power, was staid in the unfinished furrow; wives gave which possessed the whole American people! up their husbands, and mothers gave up their Everywhere the unworthy boon was rejected sons, to the battles of a civil war.

Death might with scorn. The fortunate occasion was seized, come, in honor, on the field; it might come, in everywhere, to show to the whole world that disgrace, on the scaffold. For either and for the colonies were swayed by no local interest, both they were prepared. The sentiment of no partial interest, no selfish interest. The Quincy was full in their hearts. “Blandishtemptation to profit by the punishment of Bos. ments," said that distinguished son of genius ton was strongest to our neighbors of Salem. and patriotism, “will not fascinate us, nor will Yet Salem was precisely the place where this threats of a halter intimidate; for, under God,

we are determined, that wheresoever, whenso- | with two generations. Heaven saw fit to ordain, ever, or howsoever we shall be called to make that the electric spark of Liberty should be conour exit, we will die free men."

ducted, through you, from the new world to The 17th of June saw the four New England the old; and we, who are now here to perform colonies standing here, side by side, to triumph this duty of patriotism, bave all of us long ago or to fall together; and there was with them received it in charge from our fathers to cherish from that moment to the end of the war, what your name and your virtues. You will account I hope will remain with them forever, one cause, it an instance of your good fortune, sir, that one country, one heart.

you crossed the seas to visit us at a time which The battle of Bunker Hill was attended with enables you to be present at this solemnity. the most important effects beyond its immediate You now behold the field, the renown of which result as a military engagement. It created at reached you in the heart of France, and caused once a state of open, public war. There could a thrill in your ardent bosom. You see the now be no longer a question of proceeding lines of the little redoubt thrown up by the inagainst individuals, as guilty of treason or re- credible diligence of Prescott; defended, to the bellion. That fearful crisis was past. The ap- last extremity, by his lion-hearted valor; and peal now lay to the sword, and the only ques- within which the corner stone of our monument tion was, whether the spirit and the resources has now taken its position. You see where of the people would hold out till the object Warren fell, and where Parker, Gardner, Mcshould be accomplished. Nor were its general Cleary, Moore, and other early patriots fell with consequences contined to our own country. him. Those who survived that day, and whose The previous proceedings of the colonies, their lives have been prolonged to the present hour, appeals, resolutions, and addresses, had made are now around you. Some of them you have their cause known to Europe. Without boast- known in the trying scenes of the war. Being, we may say, that in no age or country, has hold! they now stretch forth their feeble arms the public cause been maintained with more to embrace you. Behold! they raise their force of argument, more power of illustration, trembling voices to invoke the blessing of God or more of that persuasion which excited feel- on you, and yours, forever. ing and elevated principle can alone bestow, Sir, you have assisted us in laying the founthan the revolutionary state papers exhibit. dation of this edifice. You have heard us reThese papers will forever deserve to be studied, hearse, with our feeble commendation, the not only for the spirit which they breathe, but names of departed patriots. Sir, monuments for the ability with which they were written. and eulogy belong to the dead. We give them,

To this able vindication of their cause, the this day, to Warren and his associates. On colonies had now added a practical and severe other occasions, they have been given to your proof of their own true devotion to it, and evi- more immediate companions in arms, to Washdence also of the power which they could bring ington, to Greene, to Gates, Sullivan, and Linto its support. All now saw, that if America coln. Sir, we have become reluctant to grant fell, she would not fall without a struggle. Men these, our highest and last honors, further. We felt sympathy and regard, as well as surprise, would gladly hold them yet back from the little when they beheld these infant States, remote, remnant of that immortal band. “Serus in unknown, unaided, encounter the power of caelum redeas." Illustrious as are your merits, England, and in the first considerable battle, yet far, oh, very far distant be the day, when leave more of their enemies dead on the field, any inscription shall bear your name, or any in proportion to the number of combatants, than tongue pronounce its eulogy! they had recently known in the wars of Europe. The leading reflection, to which this occasion

Information of these events, circulating seems to invite us, respects the great changes through Europe, at length reached the ears of which have happened in the fifty years, since one who now hears me. He has not forgotten the battle of Bunker Hill was fought. And it the emotion which the fame of Bunker Hill, peculiarly marks the character of the present and the name of Warren, excited in his youth- age, that, in looking at these changes, and in ful breast.

estimating their effect on our condition, we are Sir, we are assembled to commemorate the obliged to consider, not what has been done in establishment of great public principles of lib- our own country only, but in others also. In erty, and to do honor to the distinguished dead. these interesting times, while nations are makThe occasion is too severe for eulogy to the ing separate and individual advances in improveliving. But, sir, your interesting relation to ment, they make, too, a common progress; like this country, the peculiar circumstances which vessels on a common tide, propelled by the gales surround you and surround us, call on me to at different rates, according to their several express the happiness which we derive from structure and management, but all moved foryour presence and aid in this solemn commemo- ward by one mighty current beneath, strong ration,

enough to bear onward whatever does not sink Fortunate, fortunate man! with what meas- beneath it. ure of devotion will you not thank God for A chief distinction of the present day is a the circumstances of your extraordinary life! community of opinions and knowledge amongst You are connected with both hemispheres and men, in different nations, existing in a degree

« PrejšnjaNaprej »