David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) online

. (page 30 of 56)
Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) → online text (page 30 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

sary ; and that the public money will remain in
their possession to be disposed of, not as the
public interest, but as theirs may dictate. The
time, indeed, seems fast approaching, when no
law can pass, nor any honor can be conferred,
from the Chief Magistrate to the tidewaiter,
without the assent of this powerful and inter-
ested combination, which is steadily becoming
the Government itself, to the utter subversion of
the authority of the people.

Commercialism Militant — R. B. Sheridan :

There was something in the frame and constitu-
tion of the company which extended the sordid
principles of their origin over all their succes-
sive operations, connecting with their civil pol-
icy, and even with their boldest achievements,
the meanness of a peddler and the profligacy
of pirates. Alike in the political and the mil-
itary line could be observed auctioneering em-
bassadors and trading generals; and thus we
saw a revolution brought about by affidavits ;
an army employed in executing an arrest; a
town besieged on a note of hand; a prince
dethroned for the balance of an account. Thus
it was that they exhibited a government which
united the mock majesty of a bloody sceptre
and the little traffic of a merchant's counting-
house, wielding a truncheon in one hand and
picking a pocket with the other. — On the East
India Company.

Communism of Capital — Grover Cleve-
land : Communism is a hateful thing and a
menace to peace and organized government.
But the communism of combined wealth and
capital, the outgrowth of overweening cupidity
and selfishness w'nich assiduously undermines
the justice and integrity of free institutions,
is not less dangerous than the communism of
oppressed poverty and toil, which, exasperated
by injustice and discontent, attacks with wild
disorder the citadel of misrule.-

Conditioa, not Theory — Grover Cleveland :

It is a condition which confronts us — not a
theory. — Annual message, 1887.

Conkling's « Turkey- Gobbler Strut» —
James G. Blaine : As to the gentleman's cruel
sarcasm, I hope he will not be too severe. The
contempt of that large-minded gentleman is so
wilting ; his haughty disdain, his grandiloquent
swell, his majestic, supereminent, overpower-
ing, tujkey-gobbler strut has been so crushing
to myself and all the Members of this House,
that I know it was an act of the greatest te-
merity for me to venture upon a controversy
with him. But, sir, I know who is responsible
for all this. I know that within the last five
weeks, as Members of the House will recollect,
an extra strut has characterized the gentleman's



bearing. It is not his fault. It is the fault of
another. That gifted and satirical writer, Theo-
dore Tilton, of the New York Independent,
spent some weeks recently in this city. His
letters published in that paper embraced, with
many serious statements, a little jocose satire,
a part of which was the statement that the
mantle of the late Winter Davis had fallen
upon the Member from New York. The gen-
tleman took it seriously, and it has given his
strut additional pomposity. It is striking. Hy-
perion to a satyr, Thersites to Hercules, mud
to marble, dunghill to diamond, a singed cat
to a Bengal tiger, a whming puppy to a roar-
ing lion. Shade of the mighty Davis, forgive
the almost profanation of that jocose satire. —
From the debate of April 30th, 1866, in the United-
States Senate.

Constitutional Government — H. W. Bil-
liard: History describes upon none of its
pages such a scene. Other governments had
grown up under circumstances whose imperious
pressure gave them their peculiar forms and
they had been modified from time to time, to
keep pace with an advancing civilization ; but
here was a government created by men eman-
cipated from all foreign influence, and who, in
their deliberations, acknowledged no supreme
authority but that of God.

States already republican and independent
were formed into a confederation, and the great
principles of the Government were embodied
in a Constitution.

Constitutional Liberty a Tradition — Hugh
S. Legar6 : Our written constitutions do noth-
ing but consecrate and fortify the ^< plain rules
of ancient liberty,'^ handed down with Magna
Charta, from the earliest history of our race.
It is not a piece of paper, sir, it is not a few
abstractions engrossed on parchment, that make
free governments. No, sir; the law of liberty
must be inscribed on the heart of the citizen: « the
Word,» if I may use the expression without irrev-
erence, « must become Flesh.» You must have
a whole people trained, disciplined, bred. — yea,
and bom, — as our fathers were, to institutions
like ours. Before the Colonies existed, the Peti-
tion of Rights, that Magna Charta of a more
enlightened age, had been presented, in 1628,
by Lord Coke and his immortal compeers. Our
founders brought it with them, and we have not
gone one step beyond them. They brought
these maxims of civil liberty, not in their li-
braries, but in their souls; not as philosophical
prattle, not as barren generalities, but as rules
of conduct; as a symbol of public duty and
private right, to be adhered to with religious
fidelity; and the very first pilgrim that set his
foot upon the rock of Plymouth stepped forth
a living constitution, armed at all points to de-
fend and to perpetuate the liberty to which he
had devoted his whole being.

Constitutional Liberty and the American
Union — Henry A. Boardman : This Union can-
not expire as the snow melts from the rock, or
a star disappears from the firmament. When

it falls, the crash will be heard in all lands.
Wherever the winds of heaven go, that will
go, bearing sorrow and dismay to millions of
stricken hearts; for the subversion of this Gov-
ernment will render the cause of constitutional
liberty hopeless throughout the world. What
nation can govern itself, if this nation cannot ?

Cotton Is King — David Christy: Cotton is
king; or, slavery in the light of political econ-

Cotton Is King — James H. Hammond: No,

sir, you dare not make war on cotton. No
power on earth dares make war upon it. Cot-
ton is king. Until lately the Bank of England
was king, but she tried to put her screws as
usual, the fall before last, upon the cotton
crop, and was utterly vanquished. The last
power has been conquered. — United States Sen-
ate, March /Sj8.

Covenant with Death and Agreement with
Hell — William Lloyd Garrison : Resolved,
That the compact which exists between the
North and the South is a covenant with death
and an agreement with hell involving both
parties in atrocious criminality, and should be
immediately annulled. — Adopted at a meeting of
the Alassachusetts Antislavery Society.

« pvark Lanterns » in Politics— Henry A.
'-' Wise : Know-Nothingism is against the
spirit of Reformation and of Protestantism. Let
the most bigoted Protestant enumerate what he
defines to have been the abominations of the
church of Rome. What would he say were
the worst ? The secrets of Jesuitism, of the
Auto-da-fd, of the Monasteries and of the Nun-
neries. The private penalties of the Inquisi-
tion's Scavenger's Daughter, proscription,
persecution, bigotr3% intolerance, shutting up of
the Book of the Word. And do Protestants
now mean to out- Jesuit the Jesuits ? Do they
mean to strike and not be seen ? To be felt
and not to be heard ? To put a shudder upon
humanity by the masks of mutes ? Will they
wear the monkish cowls ? Will they inflict
penalties at the polls without reasoning together
with their fellows at the hustings ? Will they
proscribe ? Persecute ? Will they bloat up
themselves into that bigotry which would burn
Nonconformists? Will they not tolerate free-
dom of conscience, but doom dissenters, in
secret conclave, to a forfeiture of civil privi-
leges for a religious difference ? Will they not
translate the scripture of their faith ? Will they
visit us with dark lanterns and execute us by
signs, and test oatlis, and in secrecy ? Prot-
estantism, forbid it! — From an address in 1 8^6,
against the Know-Nothings.

Demosthenes Denounced — Dinarchus : Let

us no longer suffer by the corrupt and pernic-
ious conduct of Demosthenes. Let it not be
imagined that we shall ever want good men
and faithful counselors. With all the generous
severity of our ancestors, let us punish the man
whose bribery, whose treason, are unequivocally
detected; who could not resist the temptation



of gold; who in war has proved himself a
coward, in his civil conduct a busybody ; who,
when his fellow-citizens are called forth to
meet their enemies in the field, flies from his
post, and hides himself at home ; when the
danger is at home, and his aid is demanded
here, pretends that he is an embassador, and
runs from the city !

Let this man no longer amuse you with airy
hopes and false representations, and promises
which he forgets as soon as uttered ! Let not
his ready tears and lamentations move you!
Reser\'e all your pity for your countrj' : your
country, which his practices have undone —
your country, which now implores you to save
it from a traitor's hand. When he would waken
all your sympathy for Demosthenes, then turn
your eyes on Athens. Consider her former
glory. Contrast it with her present degrada-
tion! And ask yourselves, whether Demosthe-
nes has been reduced to greater wretchedness
by Athens, or Athens by Demosthenes! — From
an oration delivered at Athens against De-
mosthenes, C.324 B. C.

Despotism and Extensive Territory —
Alexander Hamilton : It has been advanced
as a principle, that no government but a des-
potism can exist in a very extensive country.
This is a melancholy consideration, indeed. If
it were founded on truth, we ought to dismiss
the idea of a republican government, even for
the State of New York. But the position has
been misapprehended. Its application relates
only to democracies, where the body of the
people meet to transact business, and where
representation is unknown. The application
is wrong in respect to all representative gov-
ernments, but especially in relation to a con-
federacy of States, in v/hich the supreme leg-
islature has only general powers, and the civil
and domestic concerns of the people are regu-
lated by the laws of the several States. I in-
sist that it never fan be the interest or desire
of the national legislature to destroy the State

Disraeli — Liberalism : As I sat opposite
the Treasury Bench, the ministers reminded
me of those marine landscapes not very unusual
on the coast of South America. You behold
a range of exhausted volcanoes. Not a flame
flickers on a single pallid crest. But the situ-
ation is still dangerous. There are occasional
earthquakes, and ever and anon the dark rum-
bling of the sea. — Fj-om a speech at Manchester.

pioquence and Loquacity— Pliny the
*-* Younger: Eloquence {eloqitetitia) is the
talent of the few, but the faculty which Can-
didus calls loquacity (loquentia) is common to
many and is generally an incident of impudence.

England's Drumbeat — Baniel Webster :
Every encroachment, great or small, is import-
ant enough to awaken the attention of those
who are intrusted with the preservation of a
constitutional government. We are not to wait
till great public mischiefs come, till the Gov-

ernment is overthrown, or liberty itself put in
extreme jeopardy. We should not be worthy
sons of our fathers were we so to regard great
questions affecting the general freedom. Th«se
fathers accomplished the Revolution on a strict
question of principle. . . . They saw in the
claim of the British Parliament a seminal prin-
ciple of mischief, the germ of unjust power;
they detected it, dragged it forth from under-
neath its plausible disguises, struck at it, nor
did it elude either their steady e3'e, or their well-
directed blow, till they had extirpated and de-
stroyed it to the smallest fibre. On this question
of principle, while actual suffering was yet afar
off, they raised their flag against a power to
which, for purposes of foreign conquest and
subjugation, Rome, in the height of her glory,
is not to be compared ; a power which has
dotted over the surface of the whole globe with
her possessions and military posts ; whose morn-
ing drumbeat, following the sun, and keeping
company with the hours, circles the earth daily
with one continuous and unbroken strain of the
martial airs of England.

Entangling Alliances with None — Thomas
Jefferson : Equal and exact justice to all men,
of whatever state or persuasion, religious or
political ; peace, commerce, and honest friend-
ship with all nations, entangling alliances with
none. — From his first Inaugural Address, March
4th, 1 80 1.

Exclusiveness — Orville Dewey: Why

should those who are surrounded with every-
thing that heart can wish, or imagination con-
ceive — the very crumbs that fall from whose
table of prosperity might feed hundreds — why
should they sigh amidst their profusion and
splendor? They have broken the bond that
should connect power with usefulness, and op-
ulence with mercy. That is the reason. They
have taken up their treasures and wandered
away into a forbidden world of their own, far
from the sympathies of suffering humanity.

Experience — Patrick Henry: I have but
one lamp by which my feet are guided ; and
that is the lamp of experience. I know of no
way of judging of the future but by the past.

Few Die, None Resign — Thomas Jefferson:
If a due participation of office is a matter
of right, how are vacancies to be obtained ?
Those by death are few'; by resignation, none.
— To a com??iittee of New England merchants
in 1801.

« Fifty-Four Forty or Fight » —William Al-
len : Fifty-four forty or fight ! (54° 40 ' N.) —
From a speech on the Oregon Bozcndary Ques-
tion, United States Sotafe, 1844.

Fire Bells as Disturbers of the Peace —
Edmund Burke : Where there is abuse, there
ought to be clamor ; because it is better to
have our slumber broken by the fire bell than
to perish, amidst the flames, in our bed.

Fitness for Self-Government — T. B. Mac-
aulay : Many politicians of our time are in
the habit of laying it down as a self-evident



proposition, that no people ouffht to be free
till tlicy are fit to use their freedom. The
maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story,
who resolved not to go into the water till he
had learned to swim ! If men are to wait for
liberty till they become wise and good in
sla\ ery, they may, indeed, wait forever.

Flool, Henry — On Grattan : A mendicant
patriot, subsisting upon the public accounts, —
who, bought by his country for a sum of money,
then sold his country for prompt payment.

Foreign War and Domestic Despotism —
Jeremiah Clemens : The Senator from Mich-
igan was right when he said that our fears were
to be found at home. I do fear ourselves.
Commit our people once to unnecessary foreign
wars, — let victory encourage the military spirit,
already too prevalent among them, — and Ro-
man history- will have no chapter bloody enough
to be transmitted to posterity side by side with
ours. In a brief period we shall have re-
enacted, on a grander scale, the same scenes
which marked her decline. The veteran sol-
dier, who has followed a victorious leader from
clime to clime, will forget his love of country
in his love for his commander; and the bayo-
nets you send abroad to conquer a kingdom
will be brought back to destroy the rights of
the citizen, and prop the throne of an Emperor.

Freedom Above Union — Charles Sumner:

Not that I love the Union less, but freedom
more, do I now, in pleading this great cause,
insist that freedom, at all hazards, shall be pre-
served. God forbid that for the sake of the
Union, we should sacrifice the very thing for
which the Union was made. — From a speech
at Faneuil Hall, Boston, November 2d, 1833.

Freedom of Conscience — Father «Tom»

Burke : The conscience of man, and conse-
quently of a nation, is supposed to be the great
guide in all the relations that individuals or
the people bear to God. Conscience is so free
that Almighty God himself respects it. It is a
theological axiom that if a man does wrong
when he thinks he is doing right, the wrong
will not be attributed to him by Almighty God.
— From his reply to Froude, New York, 1872.

Freedom to Err — Thomas Jefferson : Error
of opinion may be tolerated where reason is
left free to combat it.

Free Speech in Parliament and Congress —
James Sidney Rollins : During the War of the
Revolution, when the infant colonies of this
country were struggling for existence, every
member upon this floor knows what terrible
anathemas were hurled against the British Gov-
ernment by Chatham, Burke, Fox, Sheridan,
and other distinguished orators in the British
Parliament. Their language has never been
equaled in severity by an\'thing that has been
said by any Member on this floor, and yet who
ever heard of a resolution introduced for their
expulsion ? . . .

Sir, in a free country like ours is no latitude
of debate to be allowed, is not discussion to be

as broad as it is under a monarchical govern-
ment, in the Parliament of Great Britain ? Sir,
there is no subject on which a people are more
sensitive than that of free speech. It is re-
garded, and justly so, as one of the bulwarks
of liberty, and any attempt to abridge it — and
especially in these halls — must be, as it ought
to be, condemned by the American people. —
From a speech in the House of Representatives,
April /2th, 1864, against expelling Congressman
Long, of Ohio.

« Free Trade and Seamen's Rights »— Henry
Clay : If we fail, let us fail like men, lash our-
selves to our gallant tars, and expire together
in one common struggle, fighting for Free Trade
and Seamen's Rights. — 1813.

/Gladstone, William E.— The American Con-
^-* stitution : As far as I can see, the Ameri-
can Constitution is the most wonderful work
ever struck off at one time by the brain and
purpose of man.

Glittering Generalities — Rufus Choate :
The glittering and sounding generalities of
natural right, which make up the Declaration
of Independence. — 7^o the Maine Whig Com-
mittee, 1836.

Good Enough Morgan — Thurlow Weed :
That is a good enough Morgan for us until
you bring back the one you carried off. — Dur-
ing the Anti-Masonic Excitemetit of 1827. An-
other version is : That is a good enough Morgan
until after election.

Good Government, The Sum of— Thomas
Jefferson : With all these blessings, what more
is necessary to make us a happy and prosper-
ous people ? Still one thing more, fellow-
citizens : a wise and frugal government, which
shall restrain men from injuring one another,
shall leave them otherwise free to regulate
their own pursuits of industry and improve-
ment, and shall not take from the mouth of
labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum
of good government; and this is necessary to
close the circle of our felicities.

Government a Trust — Henry Clay: Gov-
ernment is a trust, and the officers of the gov-
ernment are trustees; and both the trust and
the trustees are created for the benefit of the
people. — At Ashland, Kentucky, March i82g.

Government by the Gallows — Sir W. Mere-
dith : Whether hanging ever did, or can, answer
any good purpose, I doubt ; but the cruel ex-
hibition of ever>' execution day is a proof that
hanging carries no terror with it. The multi-
plicity of our hanging laws has produced these
two things : frequency of condemnation, and
frequent pardons. If we look to the executions
themselves, what examples do they give ? The
thief dies either hardened or penitent. All that
admiration and contempt of death with which
heroes and martyrs inspire good men in a good
cause, the abandoned villain feels, in seeing a
desperado like himself meet death with intre-
pidity. The penitent thief, on the other hand,
often makes the sober villain think that by



robbery, forgery, or murder, he can relieve all
his wants ; and, if he be brought to justice, the
punishment will be short and trifling, and the
reward eternal.

Government of, by, and for tlie People —
Theodore Parker : The American idea, . . .
a democracy, that is, a government of all the
people, by all the people, for all the people.—
Boston, 1830.

Governmental Power and Popular Inca-
pacity— John C. Calhoun: The quantum of
power on the part of the Government, and of
liberty on that of individuals, instead of being
equal in all cases, must, necessarily, be very
unequal among different people, according to
their different conditions. For, just in propor-
tion as a people are ignorant, stupid, debased,
corrupt, exposed to violence within and dan-
ger without, the power necessary for govern-
ment to possess, in order to preserve society
against anarchy and destruction, becomes
greater and greater, and individual liberty less
and less, until the lowest condition is reached,
when absolute and despotic power becomes
necessary on the part of the Government, and
individual liberty extinct.

Grant, Ulysses S.— Freedom and Educa-
tion : The free school is the promoter of that
intelligence which is to preserve us as a free
nation. If we are to have another contest in
the near future of our national existence, I
predict that the dividing line will not be Ma-
son and Dixon's, but between patriotism and
intelligence on the one side, and superstition
and ambition and ignorance on the other. Now
in this Centennial year of our existence I be-
lieve it a good time to begin the work of
strengthening the foundation of the house
commenced by our patriotic forefathers one
hundred years ago, at Concord and Lexington.
Let us all labor to add all needful guarantees
for the more perfect security of free thought,
free speech, free press, pure morals, unfettered
religious sentiments, and of equal rights and
privileges to all men, irrespective of national-
ity, color, or religion. Encourage free schools,
and resolve that not one dollar of money ap-
propriated to their support, no matter how
raised, shall be appropriated to the support of
any sectarian school. Resolve that the State
or Nation, or both combined, shall furnish to
every child growing up in the land the means
of acquiring a good common-school education,
unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistic
tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the
family altar, the church, and the private school
supported entirely by private contributions.
Keep the Church and State forever separate.
With these safeguards I believe the battles
which created the Army of the Tennessee will
not have been fought in ^diSxs.. — From an ad-
dress to the Ar7ny of tite Tennessee, at its re-
union, September 2qth, 1875, at Des Moines, Iowa.

Graves, John Temple — On Henry W.
Grady : No fire that can be kindled upon the
altar of speech can relume the radiant spark

that perished yesterday. No blaze born in all
our eulogy can burn beside the sunlight of his
useful life. After all, there is nothing grander
than such living.

I have seen the light that gleamed from the
headlight of some giant engine rushing on-
ward through the darkness, heedless of oppo-
sition, fearless of danger, and I thought it was
grand. I have seen the light come over the
eastern hills in glory, driving the hazy dark-
ness like mist before a sea-born gale, till leaf,
and tree, and blade of grass glittered in the
myriad diamonds of the morning ray, and I
thought it was grand. I have seen the light
that leaped at midnight athwart the storm-
swept sky, shivering over chaotic clouds, mid
howling winds, till cloud and darkness and the
shadow-haunted earth flashed into midday
splendor, and I knew it was grand. But the
grandest thing next to the radiance that flows
from the Almighty throne is the light of a noble
and beautiful life wrapping itself in benediction
round the destinies of men and finding its home
in the blessed bosom of the everlasting God,

Greeley, Horace — After-Dinner Speech on
Franklin : Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, if
I were required to say for which of Franklin's
achievements he deserved most and best of
mankind, I should award the palm to his auto-
biography — so frank, so sunny, so irradiated by
a brave, blithe, hearty humanity. For if our

Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) → online text (page 30 of 56)