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

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fathers had not — largely by the aid of his coun-
sel, his labors, his sacrifices — achieved their in-
dependence at the first effort, they would have
tried it again and again until they did achieve
it ; if he had not made his immortal discovery of
the identity of electricity with the lightning, that
truth would nevertheless have at length been
demonstrated; but if he had not so modestly
and sweetly told us how to wrestle with poverty
and compel opportunity, I do not know who
beside would or could have done it so well.
There is not to-day, there will not be in this
nor in the next century, a friendless, humble
orphan, working hard for naked daily bread,
and glad to improve his leisure hours in the
corner of a garret, whom that biography will
not cheer and strengthen to fight the battle of
life buoyantly and manfully. I wish some hu-
man tract society would present a copy of it
to every poor lad in the United States.

But i must not detain you. Let me sum up
the character of Franklin in the fewest words
that will serve me. I lore and revere him as a
journeyman printer, who was frugal and didn't
drink ; a parvenu who rose from want to com-
petence, from obscurity to fame, without losing
his head \ a statesman who did not crucify man-
kind with long-winded documents or speeches ;
a diplomatist who did not intrigue ; a philoso-
pher who never loved, and an office-holder who
didn't steal. So regarding him, I respond to
your sentiment with « Honor to the memory
of Yx&wWxwy^— Complete text of Mr. Greeley's
speech at the Franklin Banquet of 1870, in New
York city.




I all, Kobert — Duty and Moral Health: Of
an accountable creature duty is the con-
cern of every moment, since he is every moment
pleasing or displeasing to God. It is a universal
element, mingling with every action, and quali-
fying every disposition and pursuit. The moral
quality of conduct, as it serves both to ascertain
and to form the character, has consequences in
a future world so certain and infallible, that it is
represented in Scripture as a seed no part of
which is lost, " for whatsoever a nian soweth that
also shall he reap.» That rectitude which the
inspired writers usually denominate holiness is
the health and beauty of the soul, capable of
bestowing dignity in the absence of every
other accomplishment, while the want of it
leaves the possessor of the richest intellectual
endowments a painted sepulchre. — From a ser-
mon preached at Leicester, England, in iSio.

Hampdens's Twenty Sliillings— Edmund
Burke : Would twenty shillings have ruined
Mr. Hampden's fortune? No! but the pay-
ment of half twenty shillings, on the principle
it was demanded, would have made him a
slave! It is the weight of that preamble, of
which you are so fond, and not the weight of
the duty, that the Americans are unable and
unwilling to bear.

Hannibal to His Army — Livy: Soldiers,
there is nothing left to us, in any quarter, but
what we can vindicate with our swords. Let
those be cowards who have something to look
back upon ; whom, flying through safe and un-
molested roads, their own country will receive.
There is a necessity for us to be brave. There
is no alternative but victory or death; and, if
it must be death, who would not rather en-
counter it in battle than in flight ? I'he im-
mortal gods could give no stronger incentive
to victory. Let but these truths be fixed in
your minds, and once again I proclaim, you
are conquerors!

Earsh as Truth — William Lloyd Garri-
son : I will be as harsh as truth, and as un-
compromising as justice. — 1S31.

Henderson, John B.— The Right to Make
Foolish Speeches : The Constitution provides
that Congress " shall make no law abridging
the freedom of speech or of the press.>> The
P/esident, like other persons, is protected un-
der this clause. He, too, has the right to make
foolish speeches. I do not now say that there
is no limit to the enjoyment of this right, or
that it might not be so much abused by a
President as to demand his impeachment and
removal from office. But in this case the
offense is certainly not of so heinous a char-
acter as to demand punishment in the absence
of a law defining the right and providing spe-
cific penalties, and also in the face of a con-
stitutional provision declaring that the freedom
of speech cannot be abridged by law. — From
an Opinion Delivered at the Itnpeachment of
President Johnson in j868.

Higher Law — W. H. Seward : We deem the
principle of the law for the recapture of fugi-
tive slaves unjust, unconstitutional, and im-
moral ; and thus, while patriotism withholds its
approbation, the conscience of our people con-
demns it. You will say that these convictions
of ours are disloyal. Grant it, for the sake of
argument. They are nevertheless honest; and
the law is to be executed among us, not among
you ; not by us, but by the P'ederal authority.
Has any government ever succeeded in chang-
ing the moral convictions of its subjects by
force ? But these convictions imply no disloy-
alty. We reverence the Constitution, although
we perceive this defect, just as we acknowl-
edge the splendor and the power of the sun,
although its surface is tarnished with here and
there an opaque spot. . . . The Constitu-
tion regulates our stewardship; the Constitu-
tion devotes the domain to union, to justice, to
defense, to welfare, and to liberty. But there
is a higher law than the Constitution, which
regulates our authority over the domain and
devotes it to the same noble purposes. — From
a speech in the United States Senate, March
13th, 1S30.

Higher Law— Wendell Phillips: We con-
fess that we intend to trample under foot the
Constitution of this country. Daniel Webster
says: <<You are a law-abiding people *>; that
the glory of New England is ^<that it is a law-
abiding community.'^ Shame on it, if this be
true ; if even the religion of New England
sinks as low as its statute book. But I say
we are not a law-abiding community. God be
thanked for it! — From a speech at a Free-Soil
Meeting in Boston, in May i84g.

"Higher Law» Defined in Court — John
Brown : In the first place, I deny everything
but what I have all along admitted — the de-
sign on my part to free the slaves. I intended,
certainly, to have made a clean thing of the
matter, as I did last winter when I went into
Missouri and there took slaves without the
snapping of a gun on either side, moved them
through the country, and finally left them in
Canada. I designed to have done the same
thing again, on a larger scale. That was all I
intended. I never did intend murder, or trea-
son, or the destruction of property, or to excite
slaves to rebellion, or to make insurrection.

I have another objection ; and that is, it is
unjust that I should suffer such a penalty.
Had I interfered in the manner which I admit,
and which I admit has been fairly proved (for
I admire the truthfulness and candor of the
greater portion of the witnesses who have tes-
tified in this case) — had I so interfered m be-
half of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent,
the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their
friends, either father, mother, brother, sister,
wife, or children, or any of that class, and suf-
fered and sacrificed what I have in this inter-
ference, it would have been all right, and every
man in this court would have deemed it an
act worthy of reward rather than punishment



This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the
validity of the law of God. I see a book
kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible,
or at least the New Testament. That teaches
me that all things whatsoever I would that
men should do to me, I should do even so to
them. It teaches me, further, to '■'■ remember
them that are in bonds as bound with them.')
I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I
say, I am yet too young to understand that
God is any respecter of persons. I believe
that to have interfered as I have done — as I
have always freely admitted I have done — in
behalf of his despised poor, was not wrong,
but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that
I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of
the ends of justice, and mingle my blood fur-
ther with the blood of my children, and with
the blood of millions in this slave country
whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel,
and unjust enactments — I submit: so let it
be done ! — From his speech to the court which
sentenced him in iSsQ, a.s reported in the Lib-
erator by William Lloyd Garrison.

Higher Law in England — Lord Brougbam :

Tell me not of rights, — talk not of the prop-
erty of the planter in his slaves. I deny the
right, — I acknowledge not the property. The
principles, the feelings of our common nature,
rise in rebellion againsc it. Be the appeal
made to the understanding or to the heart, the
sentence is the same that rejects it. In vain
you tell me of laws that sanction such a claim!
There is a law above all enactments of hu-
man codes, — the same throughout the world,
the same in all times, — such as it was before
the daring genius of Columbus pierced the
night of ages, and opened to one world the
sources of power, wealth, and knowledge ; to
another all unutterable woes ; such as it is at
this day. It is the law written in the heart of
man by the finger of his Maker; and by that
law, unchangeable and eternal, while men de-
spise fraud, and loathe rapine, and abhor blood,
they will reject the wild and guilty phantasy
that man can hold property in man ! In vain
you appeal to treaties, to covenants between
nations ; the covenants of the Almighty, whether
of the old covenant or the new, denounce such
unholy pretensions. — Ln the House of Conimotts,

Hissing Prejudices — Samuel Taylor Cole-
ridge : I am not at all surprised that when
the red-hot prejudices of aristocrats are sud-
denly plunged into the cool element of reason
they should go off with a his.?,.— From a speech
at Bristol.

Hope and Truth — Patrick Henry : It is

natural to man to indulge in the illusions of
hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a
painful truth, and listen to the song of that
siren, till she transforms us into beasts.

If I Were an American — Lord Chatham:
You cannot, I venture to say it, you cannot
conquer America. What is your present situa-
tion there ? We do not know the worst ; but

we know that in three campaigns we have done
nothing, and suffered much. You may swell
every expense, and strain every effori; still more
extravagantly ; accumulate every assistance you
can beg or borrow ; traffic and barter with every
little pitiful German prince that sells and sends
his subjects to the shambles of a foreign coun-
try ; your efforts are forever vain and impotent,
— doubly so from this mercenary aid on which
you rely ; for it irritates to an incurable resent-
ment the minds of your enemies, to overrun
them with the sordid sons of rapine and of
plunder, devoting them and their possessions
to the rapacity of hireling cruelty ! If I were
an American, as I am an Englishman, while
a foreign troop was landed in my country,
I never would lay down my arms I — never I
never ! never I

Imperialism Old and New — George Graham
Vest : Sir, we are told that this country can do
anything. Constitution or no Constitution. We
are a great people, — great in war, great in
peace, — but we are not greater than the peo-
ple who once conquered the world, not with
long-range guns and steel-clad ships, but with
the short sword of the Roman legion and the
wooden galleys that sailed across the Adriatic.
The colonial system destroyed all hope of re-
publicanism in the olden time. It is an ap-
panage of monarchy. It can exist in no free
country, because it uproots and eliminates the
basis of all republican institution';, mat govern-
ments derive their just powers from the con-
sent of the governed.

I know not what may be done with the
glamor of foreign conquest and the greed of
the commercial and money-making classes in
this country. For myself, I would rather quit
public life and would be willing to risk life
itself rather than give my consent to this
fantastic and wicked attempt to revolutionize
our Government and substitute the principles
of our hereditary enemies for the teachings of
Washington and his associates. — From a speech
in the United States Senate, December 12th, i8g8.

Indestructible Union of Indestructible
States — Salmon P. Chase : The Constitution,
in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible
Union composed of indestructible States. — From
the Decision in Texas versus White, 7 Wallace

Innocuous Desuetude — Grover Cleveland :

After an existence of nearly tv:'i!ty yf:irs of
almost innocuous desuetude, these laws are
brought ioxth.— Message, March /8S6.

Innovation — William Huskisson: I have
been charged with being the author in some in-
stances, an.d the promoter in others, of innova-
tions of a rash and dangerous nature. I deny
the charge. I dare the authors of it to the
proof. Gentlemen, when they talk of innova-
tion, ought to remember, with Lord Bacon, that
<* Time has been and is the great Innovator.*'
Upon that innovator I have felt it my duty



cautiously to wait, at a becoming distance and
with proper circumspection ; but not arrogantly
and presumptuously to go before him, and en-
deavor to outsLiip his course.

Intimidation of Judges — Stephen J. Field :
When judges shall be obliged to go armed, it
will be time for the courts to be closed.

Irish Heroism — Robert L. Taylor: If I

were a sculptor, I would chisel from the mar-
ble my ideal of a hero. I would make it the
figure of an Irishman sacrificing his hopes and
his life on the altar of his country, and I would
carve on its pedestal the name of Robert Emmet.

If I were a painter, I would make the can-
vas eloquent with the deeds of the bravest
people who ever lived, whose proud spirit no
power can ever conquer and whose loyalty and
devotion to the hopes of free government no
tyrant can ever crush. And I would write un-
der the picture « Ireland."

If I were a poet, I would melt the world to
tears with the pathos of my song. I would
touch the heart of humanity with the mournful
threnody of Ireland's wrongs and Erin's woes.
I would weave the shamrock and the rose into
garlands of glory for the Emerald Isle, the land
of martyrs and memories, the cradle of heroes,
the nursery of liberty.

Tortured in dungeons and murdered on scaf-
folds, robbed of the fruits of their sweat and
toil, scourged by famine and plundered by the
avarice of heartless power, driven like the
leaves of autumn before the keen winter winds,
this sturdy race of Erin's sons and daughters
have been scattered over the face of the earth,
homeless only in the land of their nativity, but
princes and lords in every other land where
merit is the measure of the man.

Isaeus — The Athenian Method of Examin-
ing Witnesses : Now, you are all, I believe,
persuaded that an inquisition by torture, both
in public and private causes, is the best and
surest mode of investigating the truth; nor, when
both freemen and slaves are present and it is
expedient to obtain a discovery of facts, is it
your custom to examine the freemen, but to
rack thj slaves, and thus to extort a true rela-
tion of all that has happened; in this respect
you think and act wisely, judges; for you well
know that many persons examined in the usual
form have given evidence indubitably false;
but of all those who have been exposed to tor-
ture, none have ever been convicted of false-
hood; and will this most audacious of men re-
quest you to believe his artful pretenses, and his
witnesses, who swear against truth, when he
declines a mode of proof so exact and conclu-
sive ? Our conduct is widely different; and, as
we first proposed to discover the whole trans-
action by the means of torture, to which pro-
posal we have proved that they would not
consent, we think it reasonable that our wit-
nesses should be credited. — From the speech on
the estate of Ciron, delivered at Athens, c. 373

Judges and the Law — Edmund Burke.
Judges are guided and governed by the
eternal laws of justice, to which we are alJ
subject. We may bite our chains, if we will;
but we shall be made to know ourselves, and
be taught that man is born to be governed by
law ; and he that will substitute will in the
place of it is an enemy to God.

Law Reform — Lord Brougham: You saw
the greatest warrior of the age, — conqueror
of Italy — humbler of Germany — terror of the
North, — saw him account all his matchless vic-
tories poor compared with the triumph you are
now in a condition to win, — saw him contemn
the fickleness of fortune, while, in despite of
her, he could pronounce his memorable boast :
<* I shall go down to posterity with the Code
in my hand ! " You have vanquished him in
the field ; strive now to rival him in the sacred
arts of peace ! Outstrip him as a lawgiver
whom in amis you overcame ! The lustre of
the regency will be eclipsed by the more solid
and enduring splendor of the reign. It was
the boast of Augustus, — it formed part of the
glare in which the perfidies of his earlier years
were lost, — that he found Rome of brick and
left it of marble. But how much nobler will
be the sovereign's boast when he shall have
it to say, that he found law dear and left it
cheap ; found it a sealed book, left it a living
letter; found it the patrimony of the rich, left
it the inheritance of the poor; found it the
two-edged sword of craft and oppression, left
it the staff of honesty and the shield of inno-
cence ! — Peroration of the speech on Law Re-

Leosthenes and the Patriot Dead— Hy-
perides : With us, and with all the living, as
we have seen, they shall ever have renown ;
but in the dark underworld — suffer us to ask
— who are they that will stretch forth a right
hand to the captain of our dead ? May we not
deem that Leosthenes will be greeted with
welcome and with wonder by those half-
gods who bore arms against Troy, — he who
set himself to deeds germane with theirs, but
in this surpassed them, that while they, aided
by all Hellas, took one town, he, supported by
his own city alone, humbled the power that
ruled Europe and Asia? They avenged the
wrong offered to one woman ; he stayed the
insults that were being heaped on all the cit-
ies of Hellas — he and those who are sharing
his last honors — men who, coming after the
heroes, wrought deeds of heroic worth. Aye,
and there, I deem, will be Miltiades and The-
mistocles, and those others who made Hellas
free, to the credit of their city, to the glory of
their names — whom this man surpassed in
courage and in counsel, seeing that they repelled
the power of the barbarians when it had come
against them, but he forbade its approach ; they
saw the foemen fighting in their own country,
but he worsted his enemies on their own
soil. And surely they who gave the people
trusty proof of their mutual love, Harmodios



and Aristogeiton, will count no friends so near
to themselves, or so faithful to you, as Leos-
thenes and those who strove beside him, nor
will they so consort with any dwellers in the
place of the dead. Well may it be so, since
these have done deeds not less than theirs,
but, if it may be said, even greater ; for they
put down the despots of their own city, but
these put down the despots of Hellas. O beau-
tiful and wonderful enterprise, O glorious and
magnificent devotion, O soldiership transcend-
ent in dangers, which these offered to the free-
dom of Greece !

Let Us Alone — Jefferson Davis : All we

ask is to be let alone. — Message to the Confed-
erate Congress, March 1861.

Liberty and Eloquence — William Preston :

Liberty and eloquence are united, in all ages.
Where the sovereign power is found in the
public mind and the public heart, eloquence is
the obvious approach to it. Power and honor,
and all that can attract ardent and aspiring
natures, attend it. The noblest instinct is to
propagate the spirit, "to make our mind the
mind of other men.>'

Liberty and Society — John C. Calhoun:

Government has no right to control individual
liberty, beyond what is necessary to the safety
and well-being of society.

Liberty and Union— Daniel Webster:

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 1 Let their last feeble and lin-
gering glance rather behold the gorgeous en-
sign of the Republic now known and honored
throughout the earth, still full high advanced,
its arms and trophies streaming in their ori-
ginal lustre, 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 de-
lusion and folly, << Liberty first, and union after-
wards,'^ but every\vhere, 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 ! — Closing Sen-
tences of the Reply to Hayne.

Liberty of the Press — John Philpot Cur-
ran : As the advocate of society, therefore, of
peace, of domestic liberty, and the lasting
union of the two countries, I conjure you to
guard the liberty of the Press, that great sen-
tinel of the State, that grand detector of pub-
lic imposture ! Guard it, because, when it sinks,
there sinks with it, in one common grave, the
liberty of the subject, and the security of the
Crown I

10 — 20

Liberty or Death — Patrick Henry: Is life
so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased
at the price of chains and slavery ? Forbid
it. Almighty God ! I know not what course
others may take ; but as for me, give me lib-
erty, or give me death !

Limitation — E. P. Humphrey : The course
of nature itself seems to confirm the proposi-
tion as to the relation between sin and suf-
fering. The most thorough inquiry into the
structure of the physical universe conducts to
the conclusion that it was created by a being
infinitely good and intended for a race infi-
nitely sinful. It is a magnificent palace-prison ;
as a palace declaring the glory of its maker,
as a prison revealing the character of its in-

Louder, Sir, Louder — Thomas F. Marshall:

Mr. President, on the last daj% when the angel
Gabriel shall have descended from the heav-
ens, and, placing one foot upon the sea and the
other upon the land, shall lift to his lips the
golden trumpet and proclaim to the living and
the resurrected dead that time shall be no
more, I have no doubt, sir, that some infernal
fool from Buffalo will start up and cry out,
" Louder, please, sir, louder !>> — From a speech
at Buffalo, denouncing a 7nalicious interruption.

Loving Him for His Enemies — Edward S.
Bragg : They love him, gentlemen, and they
respect him, not only for himself, for his char-
acter, for his integrity and judgment and iron
will, but they love him most for the enemies
he has made. — From a speech made as chair-
man of the Democratic National Convention oj
1884, — referring to Grover Cleveland and his
oppotients in Tammany Hall.

Lycurgus — Peroration of the Speech
Against Leocrates : Be sure, judges, that each
of you, by the vote which he now gives in se-
cret, will lay his thought bare to the gods.
And I deem that this day, judges, you are
passing a collective sentence on all the great-
est and most dreadful forms of crime in all of
which Leocrates is manifestly guilty ; on trea-
son, since he abandoned the city to its troubles
and brought it under the hand of the enemy;
on subversion of the democracy, since he did
not stand the ordeal of the struggle for free-
dom; on impiety, since he has done what one
man could to obliterate the sacred precincts
and to demolish the temples ; on ill-treatment
of parents, — for he sought to destroy the mon-

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 31 of 56)