« AnteriorContinuar »
for gentleness of manners and kindness of heart, than for that passionless, unclouded intellect, which rendered him deserving of the praise, if ever man deserved it, of merely standing by, and letting reason argue for him: the true patriot, incapable of all selfish ambition, who shunned office and distinction, yet served his country faithfully, because he loved her: he, I mean, who consecrated, by his example, the noble precept, so entirely his own, that the first station in a republic was neither to be sought after nor declined; a sentiment so just and so happily expressed, that it continues to be repeated, because it can not be improved.
3. There was, also, a gentleman from Maryland,* whose ashes now slumber in your cemetery. It is not long since I stood by his tomb, and recalled him, as he was then, in all the pride and power of his genius. Among the first of his countrymen and +cotemporaries, as a jurist and statesman, first as an orator, he was, if not truly eloquent, the prince of rhetoricians. Nor did the soundness of his logic suffer any thing, by a comparison with the richness and classical purity of the language, in which he +copiously poured forth those figurative illustrations of his argument, which enforced while they adorned it. But let others pronounce his eulogy. I must not. I feel as if his mighty spirit still haunted the scenes of its triumphs, and when I dared to wrong them, indignantly rebuked me.
4. These names have become historical. There were others, of whom it is more difficult to speak, because yet within the reach of praise or envy. For one who was, or aspired to be, a politician, it would be prudent, perhaps wise, to avoid all mention of these men. Their acts, their words, their thoughts, their very looks, have become subjects of party controversy. But he whose ambition is of a higher or lower order, has no such need of reserve. is of no party, exclusively; nor is justice.
5. Among them, but not of them, in the fearful and solitary sublimity of genius, stood a gentleman from Virginia §-whom it were superfluous to designate; whose speeches were universally read; whose satire was universally feared. Upon whose accents, did this habitually listless and unlistening House, hang so frequently, with rapt attention? Whose fame was identified with that body for so long a period? Who was a more dextrous debater? a riper scholar? better versed in the politics of our own country? or deeper read in the history of others? Above all, who was more thoroughly imbued with the idiom of the English language? more completely master of its strength, and beauty, and delicacy? or more capable of breathing thoughts of flame, in words of magic, and tones of silver?
6. There was, also, a son of South Carolina,|| still in the service of the republic, then, undoubtedly, the most influential member of this house. With a genius eminently metaphysical, he applied to politics his habits of analysis, abstraction, and *condensation, and thus gave to the problems of government, something of that grandeur, which the higher mathematics have borrowed from astronomy. The wings of his mind were rapid, but capricious, and there were times, when the light which flashed from them as they passed, glanced like a mirror in the sun, only to dazzle the beholder. Engrossed with his subject, careless of his words, his loftiest flights of eloquence were sometimes followed by +colloquial or provincial +barbarisms. But, though often incorrect, he was always fascinating. Language, with him, was merely the scaffolding of thought, employed to raise a dome, which, like Angelo's, he suspended in the heavens.
7. It is equally impossible to forget or to omit, a gentleman from Kentucky,* whom party has since made the fruitful topic of unmeasured panegyric and +detraction. Of sanguine temperament, and impetuous character, his declamation was impassioned, his retorts acrimonious. Deficient in refinement, rather than in strength, his style was less elegant and correct, than animated and impressive. But it swept away your feelings with it, like a mountain torrent, and the force of the stream left you little leisure to remark upon its clearness. His estimate of human nature was, probably, not very high. Unhappily, it is, perhaps, more likely to have been lowered, than raised, by his subsequent experience. Yet then, and ever since, except when that imprudence, so natural to genius, prevailed over his better judgment, he adopted a lofty tone of sentiment, whether he spoke of measures or of men, of friend or adversary. On many occasions, he was noble and captivating. One, I can never forget. It was the fine burst of indignant eloquence, with which he replied to the taunting question, "What have we gained by the war?"
8. Nor may I pass over in silence a representative from New Hampshire, who has almost obliterated all memory of that distinction, by the superior fame he has attained as a senator from Massachusetts. Though then but in the bud of his political life, and hardly conscious, perhaps, of his own extraordinary powers, he gave promise of the greatness he has since achieved. The same vigor of thought; the same force of expression; the short sentences; the calm, cold, collected manner; the air of solemn dignity; the deep, sepulchral, unimpassioned voice; all have been developed only, not changed, even to the intense bitterness of his frigid irony. The piercing coldness of his sarcasm was, 3 Webster.
indeed, peculiar to him; they seemed to be temanations from the spirit of the icy ocean. Nothing could be at once so novel and so powerful; it was frozen mercury, becoming as
+caustic as red
R. H. WILDE.
ANTONY'S ORATION OVER THE DEAD BODY OF CESAR.
FRIENDS, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Cesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do, lives after them;
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
When that the poor have cried, Cesar hath wept;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see, that, on the Lupercal,
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
And sure, he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spake,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause;
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?
And men have lost their reason! Bear with me;
But yesterday, the word of Cesar might
And none so poor to do him reverence.
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
But here's a parchment, with the seal of Cesar;
Let but the Commons hear this testament,
And, dying, mention it within their wills, + Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.
One of the people. We'll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.
Ant. Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Cesar loved you;
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men ;
Ant. Will you be patient? Will you
Whose daggers have stabbed Cesar. I do fear it.
One of the people. They were traitors: honorable men!
Ant. You will compel me then to read the will?
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent,
Look! in this place, ran Cassius' dagger through;
Through this, the well-beloved Brutus stabbed;
Mark how the blood of Cesar followed it.
Quite vanquished him; then burst his mighty heart;
Oh, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
2d Cit. O noble Cesar!
3d Cit. We will be revenged! Revenge! about,-seek,-burn,— fire,-kill,-slay!-let not a traitor live.
Ant. Stay, countrymen.
1st Cit. Peace there: hear the noble Antony.
2d Cit. We'll hear him, we'll follow him, we 'll die with him. Ant. Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honorable;
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it; they are wise and honorable,
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts;
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain, blunt man,
Show you sweet Cesar's wounds, poor, poor, dumb mouths,
THE STORM AT SEA.
1. THE evening winds shrieked wildly: the dark cloud