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Legislative Instructions. D. WEBSTER. 1. Sir, it has become, in my opinion, quite too common a practice for the state legislatures to present resolutions here on all subjects, and to instruct us here on all subjects. There is no public man that requires instruction more than I do, or who requires information more than I do, or desires it more heartily; but I do not like to have it come in too imperative a shape.
2. I took notice, with pleasure, of some remarks upon this subject made the other day in the Senate of Massachusetts, by a young man of talent and character, of whom the best hopes may be entertained. I mean Mr. Hillard. He told the Senate of Massachusetts that he would vote for no instructions whatever to be forwarded to members of Congress, nor for any resolutions to be offered, expressive of the sense of Massachusetts as to at her members of Congress ought to do.
3. He said that he saw no propriety in one set of public servants giving instructions and reading lectures to another set of public servants. To their own master all of them must stand or fall, and that master is their constituents. I wish these sentiments could become more common, a great deal more common.
4. I have never entered into the question, and never shall, about the binding force of instructions. I will, however, simply say this : if there be any matter pending in this body, while I am a member of it, in which Massachusetts has an interest of her own not adverse to the general interests of the country, I shall pursue her instructions with gladness of heart, and with all the efficiency which I can bring to the occasion.
5. But if the question be one which affects her interest, and at the same time equally affects the interests of all other states, I shall no more regard her particular wishes or instructions than I should regard the wishes of a man who might appoint me an arbitrator, or referee, to decide some question of important private right between him and his neighbor, and then instruct me to decide in his favor. .
6. If ever there was a government upon earth, it is this government, - if ever there was a body upon earth, it is this body, - which should consider itself as composed by agreement of all; - each member appointed by some, but organized by the general consent of all, sitting here, under the solemn obligations of oath and conscience, to do that which they think to be best for the good of the whole.
The Laborer. - WM. D. GALLAGHER.
2. What then? - Thou art as true a man
of the throng. 3. Who is thine enemy? the high In station, or in wealth the chief?
The great, who coldly pass thee by,
4. If true unto thyself thou wast,
5. No:- uncurbed passions, low desires,
6. These are thine enemies thy worst;
7. Thou art thyself thine enemy! The great!
what better they than thou?
8. True, wealth thou hast not - 't is but dust!
- a noble mind !
9. With this, and passions under ban,
1. I HOPE, that in all that relates to personal firmness, all that concerns a just appreciation of the insignificance of human life, — whatever may be attempted to threaten or alarm a soul not easily swayed by opposition, or awed or intimidated by menace,
a stout heart and a steady eye, that can survey, unmoved and undaunted, any mere personal perils that assail this poor, transient, perishing frame, I may, without disparagement, compare with other men.
2. But there is a sort of courage, which, I frankly confess it, I do not possess, - a boldness to which I dare not aspire, a valor which I cannot covet. I cannot lay myself down in the way of the welfare and happiness of my country. That I cannot, I have not the courage to do. I cannot interpose the power with which I may be invested
a power conferred, not for my personal benefit, nor for my aggrandizement, but for my country's good — to check her onward march to greatness and glory. I have not courage enough. I am too cowardly for that.
3. I would not, I dare not, in the exercise of such a trust, lie down, and place my body across the path that leads my country to prosperity and happiness. This is a sort of courage widely different from that which a man may display in his private conduct and personal relations. Personal or private courage is totally distinct from that higher and nobler courage which prompts the patriot to offer himself a voluntary sacrifice to his country's good.
4. Apprehensions of the imputation of the want of firmness sometimes impel us to perform rash and inconsiderate acts. It is the greatest courage to be able to bear the imputation of the want of courage. But pride, vanity, egotism, so unamiable and offensive in private life, are vices which partake of the character of crimes, in the conduct of public affairs. The unfortunate victim of these passions cannot see beyond the little, petty, contemptible circle of his own personal interests. All his thoughts are withdrawn from his country, and concentrated on his consistency, his firmness, himself.
5. The high, the exalted, the sublime emotions of a patriotism, which, soaring toward heaven, rises far above all mean, low, or selfish things, and is absorbed by one soultransporting thought of the good and the glory of one's country, are never felt in his impenetrable bosom. That patriotism, which, catching its inspirations from the immortal God, and leaving at an immeasurable distance below all lesser, groveling, personal interests and feelings, animates and prompts to deeds of self-sacrifice, of valor, of devotion, and of death itself, – that is public virtue; that is the noblest, the sublimest, of all public virtues !
1. I PROFESS, sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of the whole country, and the preservation of our federal union. It is to that union we owe our safety at home, and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our country.
2. That union we reached only by the discipline of our virtues, in the severe school of adversity. It had its origin in the necessities of disordered finance, prostrate commerce, and ruined credit. Under its benign influences, these great interests immediately awoke, as from the dead, and sprang forth with newness of life.
3. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its utility and its blessings; and although our territory has stretched out wider and wider, and our population spread further and further, they have not outrun its protection, or its benefits. It has been to us all a copious fountain of national, social, and personal happiness.
4. I have not allowed myself, sir, to look beyond the union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty, when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder.
5. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counselor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering, not how the union should be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it shall be broken up and destroyed.
6. While the union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that, in my day at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind !
7. When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious union; on states dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood !
8. Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as, What is all this worth ? nor those other words of delusion and folly, Liberty first, and union afterward; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable !
Love of God and of Man inseparable. — I. HUNT.
1. ABOU BEN ADHEM (may his tribe increase !)