Slike strani
PDF
ePub

|

swelling pride, in which they may look back | confessing that his highest expectations had with a barbarous joy upon the triumph of their been realized, and even surpassed in the intertalents, and feast upon the adulation of the view. sycophants that surround them: but night and silence come; and conscience takes her turn. The bloody field rises upon the startled imagination. The shades of the slaughtered innocent stalk, in terrific procession, before the couch. The agonizing cry of countless widows and orphans invades the ear. The bloody dagger of the assassin plays in airy terror before the vision. Violated liberty lifts her avenging lance: and a down-trodden nation rises before them in all the majesty of its wrath. What, what are the hours of a splendid wretch like this, compared with those that shed their poppies and their roses upon the pillows of our peaceful and virtuous patriots! Every night bringing to them the balm and health of repose, and every morning offering to them "their history in a nation's eyes!" This, this it is to be greatly virtuous: and be this the only ambition that shall ever touch an American bosom !

Of "the chief of the Argonauts," as Mr. Jefferson so classically and so happily styled his illustrious friend of the north, it is my misfortune to be able to speak only by report. But every representation concurs in drawing the same pleasing and affecting picture of the Roman simplicity in which that Father of his Country lived; of the frank, warm, cordial, and elegant reception that he gave to all who approached him; of the interesting kindness with which he disbursed the golden treasures of his experience, and shed around him the rays of his descending sun. His conversation was rich in anecdote and characters of the times that were past; rich in political and moral instruction; full of that best of wisdom which is learnt from real life, and flowing from his heart with that warm and honest frankness, that fervor of feeling and force of diction, which so strikingly distinguished him in the meridian of his life. Still unexhausted by such a life of service in Many of us heard that simple and touching acthe cause of his country, Mr. Jefferson found count given of a parting scene with hin, by yet another and most appropriate employment one of our eloquent divines: When he rose up for his old age; the erection of a seat of science from that little couch behind the door, on in his native State. The University of Virginia which he was wont to rest his aged and weary is his work. His, the first conception; his, the limbs, and with his silver locks hanging on each whole impulse and direction; his, the varied side of his honest face, stretched forth that and beautiful architecture, and the entire super-pure hand, which was never soiled even by intendence of its erection: the whole scheme suspicion, and gave his kind and parting beneof its studies, its organization, and government, diction. Such was the blissful and honored reare his. He is, therefore, indeed the father of tirement of the sage of Quincy. Happy the the University of Virginia. That it may fulfil, life, which, verging upon a century, had met to the full extent, the great and patriotic pur- with but one serious political disappointment! poses and hopes of its founder, cannot fail to and even for that, he had lived to receive a be the wish of every American bosom. This golden atonement, "even in that quarter in was the last and crowning labor of Mr. Jeffer- which he had garnered up his heart." son's life: a crown so poetically appropriate, that fancy might well suppose it to have been wreathed and placed on his brow by the hand of the epic muse herself.

It is the remark of one of the most elegant writers of antiquity, in the beautiful essay which he has left us "on Old Age," that "to those who have not within themselves the resources of living well and happily, every age is oppressive; but that to those who have, nothing is an evil which the necessity of nature brings along with it." How rich our two patriots were in these internal resources, you all know. How lightly they bore the burden of increasing years was apparent from the cheerfulness and vigor with which, after having survived the age to which they properly belonged, they continued to live among their posterity. How happy they were in their domestic relations, how beloved by their neighbors and friends, how revered and honored by their country and by the friends of liberty in every quarter of the world, is a matter of open and public notoriety. Their houses were the constant and thronged resort of the votaries of virtue, and science, and genius, and patriotism, from every portion of the civilized globe; and no one ever left them without

Let us now turn for a moment to the patriot of the south. The Roman moralist, in that great work which he has left for the government of man in all the offices of life, has descended even to prescribe the kind of habitation in which an honored and distinguished man should dwell. It should not, he says, be small, and mean, and sordid: nor, on the other hand, extended with profuse and wanton extravagance. It should be large enough to receive and accommodate the visitors which such a man never fails to attract, and suited in its ornaments, as well as its dimensions, to the character and fortune of the individual. Monticello has now lost its great charm. Those of you who have not already visited it, will not be very apt to visit it, hereafter; and, from the feelings which you cherish for its departed owner, I persuade myself, that you will not be displeased with a brief and rapid sketch of that abode of domestic bliss, that temple of science. Nor is it, indeed, foreign to the express purpose of this meeting, which, in looking to "his life and character," naturally embraces his home and his domestic habits. Can any thing be indifferent to us, which was so dear to him, and which was a subject of such just admiration to

the hundreds and thousands that were contin- | array of the fossil productions of our country, ually resorting to it, as to an object of pious pil- mineral and animal; the polished remains of grimage? those colossal monsters that once trod our forests, and are no more; and a variegated display of the branching honors of those "monarchs of the waste," that still people the wilds of the American Continent.

The mansion house at Monticello, was built and furnished in the days of his prosperity. In its dimensions, its architecture, its arrangements, and ornaments, it is such a one as became the character and fortune of the man. It stands upon an elliptic plain, formed by cutting down the apex of a mountain; and, on the west, stretching away to the north and the south, it commands a view of the Blue Ridge for a hundred and fifty miles, and brings under the eye one of the boldest and most beautiful horizons in the world: while, on the east, it presents an extent of prospect, bounded only by the spherical form of the earth, in which nature seems to sleep in eternal repose, as if to While the visitor was yet lost in the contemform one of her finest contrasts with the rude plation of these treasures of the arts and scienand rolling grandeur on the west. In the wide ces, he was startled by the approach of a strong prospect, and scattered to the north and south, and sprightly step, and turning with instinctive are several detached mountains, which contrib-reverence to the door of entrance, he was met ute to animate and diversify this enchanting by the tall, and animated, and stately figure of landscape; and among them, to the south Wil- the patriot himself-his countenance beaming liss' Mountain, which is so interestingly depicted with intelligence and benignity, and his outin his Notes. From this summit, the Philoso- stretched hand with its strong and cordial prespher was wont to enjoy that spectacle, among sure, confirming the courteous welcome of his the sublimest of nature's operations, the loom- lips. And then came that charm of manner ing of the distant mountains; and to watch the and conversation that passes all description-so motions of the planets, and the greater revolu- cheerful-so unassuming-so free, and easy, and tion of the celestial sphere. From this summit, frank, and kind, and gay-that even the young too, the Patriot could look down, with uninter-and overawed, and embarrassed visitor at once rupted vision, upon the wide expanse of the forgot his fears, and felt himself by the side of world around, for which he considered himself an old and familiar friend. There was no effort, born; and upward, to the open and vaulted no ambition in the conversation of the philoso heavens which he seemed to approach, as if to pher. It was as simple and unpretending as keep him continually in mind of his high re- nature itself. And while in this easy manner sponsibility. It is indeed a prospect in which he was pouring out instruction, like light from you see and feel, at once, that nothing mean or an inexhaustible solar fountain, he seemed conlittle could live. It is a scene fit to nourish those tinually to be asking, instead of giving informagreat and high-souled principles which formed tion. The visitor felt himself lifted, by the conthe elements of his character, and was a most tact, into a new and nobler region of thought, noble and appropriate post for such a sentinel and became surprised at his own buoyancy and over the rights and liberties of man. vigor. He could not, indeed, help being astounded, now and then, at those transcendent leaps of the mind, which he saw made without the slightest exertion, and the ease with which this wonderful man played with subjects which he had been in the habit of considering among the argumenta crucis of the intellect. And then there seemed to be no end to his knowledge. He was a thorough master of every subject that was touched. From the details of the humblest mechanic art, up to the highest summit of science, he was perfectly at his ease, and every where at home. There seemed to be no longer any terra incognita of the human understanding: for, what the visitor had thought so, he now found reduced to a familiar garden walk; and all this carried off so lightly, so playfully, so gracefully, so engagingly, that he

Approaching the house on the east, the visitor instinctively paused, to cast around one thrilling glance at this magnificent panorama: and then passed to the vestibule, where, if he had not been previously informed, he would immediately perceive that he was entering the house of no common man. In the spacious and lofty hall which opens before him, he marks no tawdry and unmeaning ornaments; but before, on the right, on the left, all around, the eye is struck and gratified with objects of science and taste, so classed and arranged as to produce their finest effect. On one side, specimens of sculpture set out, in such order, as to exhibit at a coup d'ail the historical progress of that art; from the first rude attempts of the aborigines of our country, up to that exquisite and finished bust of the great patriot himself, from the mas-won every heart that approached him, as certer hand of Caracci. On the other side, the tainly as he astonished every mind. visitor sees displayed a vast collection of specimens of Indian art, their paintings, weapons, ments and manufactures; on another, an

Mr. Jefferson was wont to remark, that he never left the conversation of Dr. Franklin without carrying away with him something

From this hall he was ushered into a noble saloon, from which the glorious landscape of the west again bursts upon his view; and which, within, is hung thick around with the finest productions of the pencil-historical paintings of the most striking subjects from all countries, and all ages; the portraits of distinguished men and patriots, both of Europe and America, and medallions and engravings in endless profusion.

A/

new and useful. How often, and how truly, | individual, or how insignificant the subject.
has the same remark been made of him. Nor With Mr. Jefferson this was a sacred law, and
is this wonderful, when we reflect, that that as he always wrote at a polygraphic desk, copies
mind of matchless vigor and versatility had have been preserved of every letter. His cor-
been, all its life, intensely engaged in conversing respondence travelled far beyond his own coun-
with the illustrious dead, or following the march try, and embraced within its circle many of the
of science in every land, or soaring away, on its most distinguished men of his age in Europe.
own steady and powerful wing, into new and What a feast for the mind may we not expect
unexplored regions of thought.
from the published letters of these excellent
Shall I follow him to the table of his elegant men! They were both masters in this way,
hospitality, and show him to you in the bosom though somewhat contrasted. Mr. Adams,
of his enchanting family? Alas! those attic plain, nervous, and emphatic, the thought
days are gone; that sparkling eye is quenched; couched in the fewest and strongest words,
that voice of pure and delicate affection, which and striking with a kind of epigrammatic force.
ran with such brilliancy and effect through the Mr. Jefferson, flowing with easy and careless
whole compass of colloquial music, now bright melody, the language at the same time pruned
with wit, now melting with tenderness, is of every redundant word, and giving the thought
hushed for ever in the grave! But let me leave with the happiest precision, the aptest words
a theme on which friendship and gratitude have, dropping unbidden and unsought into their
I fear, already been tempted to linger too long. places, as if they had fallen from the skies;
There was one solace of the declining years and so beautiful, so felicitous, as to fill the mind
of both these great men, which must not be with a succession of delightful surprises, while
passed. It is that correspondence which arose the judgment is, at the same time, made captive
between them, after their retirement from pub- by the closely compacted energy of the argu-
lic life. That correspondence, it is to be hoped, ment. Mr. Jefferson's style is so easy and har-
will be given to the world. If it ever shall, I monious, as to have led superficial readers to
speak from knowledge when I say it will be remark that he was deficient in strength; as if
found to be one of the most interesting and af- ruggedness and abruptness were essential to
fecting that the world has ever seen. That strength. Mr. Jefferson's strength was inherent
"cold cloud" which had hung for a time over in the thoughts and conceptions, though hidden
their friendship, passed away with the conflict by the light and graceful vestments which he
out of which it had grown, and the attachment threw over them. The internal divinity exist-
of their early life returned in all its force. They ed and was felt, though concealed under the
had both now bid adieu, a final adieu, to all finely harmonized form of a man; and if he did
public employments, and were done with all not exhibit himself in his compositions with the
the agitating passions of life. They were dead insignia of Hercules, the shaggy lion's skin and
to the ambitious world; and this correspond- the knotted club; he bore the full quiver and
ence resembles, more than any thing else, one the silver bow of Apollo; and every polished
of those conversations in the Elysium of the an-shaft that he loosened from the string told with
cients, which the shades of the departed great unerring and fatal precision :
were supposed by them to hold, with regard to
the affairs of the world they had left. There
are the same playful allusions to the points of
difference that had divided their parties; the
same mutual, and light, and unimpassioned
raillery on their own past misconceptions and
mistakes; the same mutual and just admiration
and respect for their many virtues and services
to mankind. That correspondence was, to them
both, one of the most genial employments of
their old age; and it reads a lesson of wisdom
on the bitterness of party spirit, by which the
wise and the good will not fail to profit.

Besides this affectionate intercourse between
them, you are aware of the extensive corres-
pondence which they maintained with others,
and of which some idea may be formed by those
letters which, since their death, have already
broken upon us through the press, from quar-
ters so entirely unexpected. They were con-
sidered as the living historians of the Revolu-
tion, and of the past age, as well as oracles of
wisdom to all who consulted them. Their
habit in this particular seems to have been the
same; never to omit answering any respectful
letter they received, no matter how obscure the

Δεινη δε κλαγγή γενετ' αργυρεοιο βιοιο.

These two great men, so eminently distinguished among the patriots of the Revolution, and so illustrious by their subsequent services, became still more so, by having so long survived all that were most highly conspicuous among their coevals. All the stars of first magnitude, in the equatorial and tropical regions, had long since gone down, and still they remained. Still they stood full in view, like those two resplendent constellations near the opposite poles, which never set to the inhabitants of the neighboring zones.

But they, too, were doomed at length to set; and such was their setting as no American bosom can ever forget!

In the midst of their fast decaying strength, and when it was seen that the approach of death was certain, their country and its glory still occupied their thoughts, and circulated with the last blood that was ebbing to their hearts. Those who surrounded the death-bed of Mr. Jefferson report, that in the few short intervals of delirium that occurred, his mind

affairs! Philosophy, recovered of her surprise, may affect to treat the coincidence as fortuitous. But philosophy herself was mute, at the moment, under the pressure of the feeling that these illustrious men had rather been translated, than had died. It is in vain to tell us that men die by thousands every day in the year, all over the world. The wonder is, not that two men have died on the same day, but that two such men, after having performed so many and such splendid services in the cause of liberty-after the multitude of other coincidences which seem to have linked their destinies together—after having lived so long together, the objects of their country's joint veneration-after having been spared to witness the great triumph of their toils at home-and looked together from Pisgah's top, on the sublime effect of that grand The patriarch of Quincy, too, with the same impulse which they had given to the same glocertainty of death before him, prayed only for rious cause throughout the world, should, on the protraction of his life to the same day. His│this fiftieth anniversary of the day on which prayer was also heard: and when a messenger they had ushered that cause into light, be both from the neighboring festivities, unapprised of caught up to Heaven, together, in the midst of his danger, was deputed to ask him for the their raptures! Is there a being, of heart so honor of a toast, he showed the object on obdurate and sceptical, as not to feel the hand which his dying eyes were fixed, and exclaimed and hear the voice of Heaven in this wonderful with energy, Independence for ever!" His dispensation! And may we not, with revercountry first, his country last, his country ence, interpret its language? Is it not this? always! "These are my beloved servants, in whom I am well pleased. They have finished the work for which I sent them into the world; and are now called to their reward. Go ye, and do likewise!"

66

manifestly relapsed to the age of the Revolu- |
tion. He talked, in broken sentences, of the
committees of safety, and the rest of that great
machinery, which he imagined to be still in
action. One of his exclamations was, "Warn
the committee to be on their guard;" and he
instantly rose in his bed, with the help of his
attendants, and went through the act of writing
a hurried note. But these intervals were few
and short. His reason was almost constantly
upon her throne, and the only aspiration he
was heard to breathe, was the prayer, that he
might live to see the fourth of July. When
that day came, all that he was heard to whis-
per was the repeated ejaculation—“Nunc Dom-
ine dimittas "Now, Lord, let thy servant de-
part in peace! And the prayer of the patriot
was heard and answered.

"O save my country-Heaven! he said and died!"

Hitherto, fellow-citizens, the fourth of July had been celebrated among us, only as the anniversary of our independence, and its votaries had been merely human beings. But at its last recurrence the great jubilee of the nation-the anniversary, it may well be termed, of the liberty of man-Heaven, itself, mingled visibly in the celebration, and hallowed the day anew by a double apotheosis. Is there one among us to whom this language seems too strong? Let him recall his own feelings, and the objection will vanish. When the report first reached us, of the death of the great man whose residence was nearest, who among us was not struck with the circumstance that he should have been removed on the day of his own highest glory? And who, after the first shock of the intelligence had passed, did not feel a thrill of mournful delight at the characteristic beauty of the close of such a life. But while our bosoms were yet swelling with admiration at this singularly beautiful coincidence, when the second report immediately followed, of the death of the great sage of Quincy, on the same day-I appeal to yourselves-is there a voice that was not hushed, is there a heart that did not quail, at this close manifestation of the hand of Heaven in our

[blocks in formation]

SPEECH IN THE TRIAL OF AARON BURR.

In May, 1807, Aaron Burr was arraigned in the Circuit Court of the United States, held at Richmond, Virginia, for treason, in preparing the means of a military expedition against the possessions of the King of Spain, with whom the United States were at peace.* Under the direction of President Jefferson, Mr. Wirt was retained, to assist the United States Attorney in the prosecution, and in the course of the trial, he spoke as follows:

and

dermine the liberties of a great portion of the people of this country, and subject them to a usurper a despot, we are obliged to use the terms which convey those ideas. Why then are gentlemen so sensitive? Why on these occasions, so necessary, so unavoidable, do they shrink back with so much agony of nerve, as if, instead of a hall of justice, we were in a drawing-room with Colonel Burr, and were barbarously violating towards him every principle of decorum and humanity?

Mr. Wickham has, indeed, invited us to consider the subject abstractedly; and we have been told that it is expected to be so considered; but sir, if this were practicable, would there be no danger in it? Would there be no danger, while we were mooting points, pursuing ingenious hypotheses, chasing elementary principles over the wide extended plains and Alpine heights of abstracted law, that we should lose sight of the great question before the court? This may suit the purposes of the counsel for the prisoner; but it does not, therefore, necessarily suit the purposes of truth and justice. It will be proper, when we have derived a principle from law or argument, that we should bring it to the case before the court, in order to test its application and its practical truth. In doing which, we are driven into the nature of the case, and must speak of it as we find it. But, besides, the gentlemen have themselves rendered this totally abstracted argument completely impossible; for one of their positions is, that there is no overt act proven at all. Now, that an overt act consists of fact and intention, has been so often repeated here, that it has a fair title to Justice Vaughan's epithet of a “decantatum." In speaking then of this overt act, we are compelled to inquire, not merely into the fact of the assemblage, but the intention of it; in doing which, we must examine and develope the whole project of the prisoner. It is obvious, therefore, that an abstract examination of this point cannot be made; and since the gentlemen drive us into the examination, they cannot complain, if, without any softening of lights or deepening of shades, we exhibit the picture in its true and natural state.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONORS: It is my duty to proceed, on the part of the United States, in opposing this motion. But I should not deem it my duty to oppose it, if it were founded on correct principles. I stand here with the same independence of action, which belongs to the Attorney of the United States; and as he would certainly relinquish the prosecution the moment he became convinced of its injustice, so The humanity also most certainly would I. and justice of this nation would revolt at the idea of a prosecution, pushed on against a life which stood protected by the laws; but whether they would or not, I would not plant a thorn, to rankle for life in my heart, by opening my lips in support of a prosecution which I felt and believed to be unjust. But believing, as I do, that this motion is not founded in justice, that it is a mere manœuvre to obstruct the inquiry, to turn it from the proper course, to wrest the trial of the facts from the proper tribunal, the jury, and embarrass the court with a responsibility which it ought not to feel, I hold it my duty to proceed for the sake of the court, for the sake of vindicating the trial by jury, now sought to be violated, for the sake of full and ample justice in this particular case, for the sake of the future peace, union, and independence of these States, I feel it my bounden duty to proceed. In doing which, I beg that the prisoner and his counsel will recollect the extreme difficulty of clothing my argument in terms which may be congenial with their feelings. The gentlemen appear to me to feel a very extraordinary and unreasonable deThis motion is a bold and original stroke in It marks the gree of sensibility on this occasion. They seem to forget the nature of the charge, and that the noble science of defence. For it gives to We do not stand genius and hand of a master. we are the prosecutors. here to pronounce a panegyric on the prisoner, the prisoner every possible advantage, while it but to urge on him the crime of treason against gives him the full benefit of his legal defencehis country. When we speak of treason, we the sole defence which he would be able to must call it treason. When we speak of a trai- make to the jury, if the evidence were all inWhen we troduced before them. It cuts off from the tor, we must call him a traitor. speak of a plot to dismember the Union, to un-prosecution all that evidence which goes to

connect the prisoner with the assemblage on the island, to explain the destination and objects of the assemblage, and to stamp beyond controversy the character of treason upon it. Connect this motion with that which was made

* A full report of this extraordinary trial was taken in short hand by Mr. T. Carpenter, and published in three volumes, 1907. See note at page 174, in the first volume of

this work; also the speech of Mr. Randolph, at the same
place.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »