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 4) online

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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 4) → online text (page 23 of 39)
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out before an excited mob, advocating community of
goods, the abolition of trustees, the destruction of all lawful


rights of ownership. To-day the right of spoliation is being dig-
nified to the rank of a science; but none the less when attempts
are made to realize such theories as I have referred to, a close
approach is made to the domain of crime.

A favorite field with the agitator is the island of Sicily, but
the field is ill chosen, for there the sentiments of life and prop-
erty are strongly rooted. Glance at the scenes of our recent riots
and you will not be able to say that they were caused by dis-
tress. In the Province of Trapani and in the communes of Pa-
lermo, where the riots were fiercest, the conditions of the people
are unusually good. There are few large estates in the district,
and land is distributed in small holdings among an industrious
peasantry. The outbreaks in Sicily were the result of a well-
organized conspiracy and the effects would have been even more
dire had not a vigilant government taken wise precautions.

The country is thickly sown with socialistic clubs, which are
well known as Fasci dei Lavoratori. Originally they seemed to
be harmless organizations created for benevolent objects. A year
later, in 1892, the National Exposition was held in Palermo.
Far too promising to neglect was this opportunity for dissemi-
nating pernicious doctrines, and agitators from the mainland
flocked to the island and took contagion with them. From that
time onward, by means of congresses and other incitements from
revolutionaries who lived abroad, the real organization of the
Fasci dei Lavoratori as revolutionary societies began. The Fasci
numbered one hundred and sixty-six and had two hundred and
eighty-nine thousand members. The chiefs declared that they
had no trust in the labors of Parliament, but put their confi-
dence in revolution. This was made manifest by passages in
letters which had been seized.

Unpatriotic, as revolutionists of this type are sure to be, they
had endeavored to come to an understanding with clerical so-
cieties in Italy and elsewhere, and of this also we have the clear-
est proof. Finally, a meeting was held in Marseilles, and there it
was decided that the " New Garibaldi of Anarchy " should go to

It had been determined to rise in insurrection about the
middle of February, but fearing that the govei-nment had been
warned it was decided to anticipate the date originally fixed and
there was a Fourth of April in which neither the " New Gari-
baldi* nor any of his friends took any part. The peasants had



been promised that during this year lands would be divided
evenly among them, and the conspirators had planned to bring
about a war by the help of Russia to which country it was in-
tended to cede a port.

If you would understand the character of the movement, listen
to this proclamation published in one commune. It describes
the working classes as ^* Children of the Vespers,*^ and closes with
these words: —

<* Do you sleep ? Hasten to the prison to rescue your breth-
ren. Death to the King. Death to employers. Down with taxes.
Burn the mayoralty. Burn the Civilians' Club. Long live the
Fascio. When the bells ring let us rush to the castle, for all is
ready for liberty. Listen for the signal."

In the province of Massa Carrara the revolution burst forth
in its worst forms. There as in Sicily martial law had to be
proclaimed. . . .

The conditions in Sicily are precisely the same as those in
the balance of Italy and the social laws which apply to the work-
ing classes on the mainland must apply to those on the island.
The resources of Sicily are so great that the government desires
to make use of them in repurchasing the latifundia, which it
would divide among the people and so put an end to the injus-
tices of the communal administrations, especially in regard to
'"ithes. Concerning this we propose to ask for a magistrate spe-
cially detailed to readjust the rates.

Italy must consolidate and fortify herself, and for this, time
and labor are still necessary. I ask you, therefore, to follow
me in my program. Let us cleave to the King — the symbol of
unity, the ark of salvation. I say now as I said in 1864, that the
Monarchy alone guarantees unity and the future of the country.
With this faith, which is the faith of the country, we must ward
off dangers, oppose internal and external enemies, and carry
Italy to the greatness to which we have aspired and without
which she cannot exist


(I 787-1863)

foHN J. Crittenden represented, from 1850 to his death in
1863, the strong Union sentiment of Kentucky as it hecame
decisive during that period of crisis in the United States. He
ranks with B. Gratz Brown and Frank P. Blair among the leaders of
the determined band of Unionists who prevented Kentucky and Mis-
souri from following their natural bent towards the Confederacy. His
instincts, however, like those of Henry Clay, were conservative, and by
the Crittenden Compromise of 1860-61, as well as by his work in the
Peace Commission of 1861, which he was largely instrumental in or-
ganizing, he labored ineffectually to bring about reconciliation between
the opposing sections. He was born in Woodford County, Kentucky,
September loth, 1787. A graduate of William and Mary College, he
made a military record during the War of 1812, and thereafter held his
position in public life securely until his death, July 26th, 1863. He was
elected to the Kentucky legislature in 1816, and in 1817 was promoted
to the United States Senate. He was Attorney-General under Harri-
son and Tyler, and in 1842 was again elected to the Senate. From
1848 to 1850 he served as Governor of Kentucky, leaving that office to
become Attorney-General in the Cabinet of President Fillmore. Re-
turning once more to the Senate in 1855, he served until 1861, when,
the Whig party being now completely disorganized, he was elected a
Member of the House of Representatives as a Unionist. His eulogy of
Henry Clay is generally presented as the most representative of his
many striking public speeches, but it scarcely equals, either in the dig-
nity or the force of its eloquence, his speech of February 15th, 1859,
delivered in the Senate, against the proposed acquisition of Cuba.


(Delivered in 1852)

I AM to address you in commemoration of the public services of
Henry Clay, and in celebration of his obsequies. His death
filled his whole country with mourning, and the loss of no citi-
zen, save the Father of his Country, has ever produced such
manifestations of the grief and homage of the public heart. His



history has indeed been read ^*in a nation's eyes.** A nation*?
tears proclaim, with their silent eloquence, its sense of the na-
tional loss. Kentucky has more than a common share in this
national bereavement. To her it is a domestic grief; — to her
belongs the sad privilege of being the chief mourner. He was
her favorite son, her pride, and her glory. She mourns for him
as a mother. But let her not mourn as those who have no hope
nor consolation. She can find the richest and noblest solace in
the memory of her son, and of his great and good actions; and
his fame will come back, like a comforter, from his grave, to
wipe away her tears. Even while she weeps for him, her tears
shall be mingled with the proud feelings of triumph which his
name will inspire; and Old Kentucky, from the depths of her
affectionate and heroic heart, shall exclaim, like the Duke of Or-
mond, wh2n informed that his brave son had fallen in battle, * I
would not exchange my dead son for any living son in Christen-
dom.** From these same abundant sources we may hope that
the widowed partner of his life, who now sits in sadness at Ash-
land, will derive some pleasing consolations. I presume not to
offer any words of comfort of my own. Her grief is too sacred
to permit me to use that privilege.

Henry Clay lived in a most eventful period, and the history
of his life for forty years has been literally that of his country.
He was so identified with the Government for more than two-
thirds of its existence, that, during that time, hardly any act
which has redounded to its honor, its prosperity, or its present
rank among the nations of the earth, can be spoken of without
calling to mind involuntarily the lineaments of his noble person.
It would be difficult to determine whether in peace or in war, in
the field of legislation or of diplomacy, in the springtide of his
life or in its golden ebb, he won the highest honor. It can be
no disparagement to any one of his contemporaries to say that,
in all the points of practical statesmanship, he encountered no
superior in any of the employments which his constituents or his
country conferred upon him.

Henry Clay was indebted to no adventitious circumstances for
the success and glory of his life. Sprung from a humble stock,
** he was fashioned to much honor from his cradle ** ; and he
achieved it by the noble use of the means which God and Nature
had given him. He was no scholar, and had none of the advan-
tages of collegiate education. But there was a ** divinity that


Stirred within him.* He was a man of a genius mighty enough
to supply all the defects of education. By its keen, penetrating
observation, its quick apprehension, its comprehensive and quick
conception, he gathered knowledge without the study of books; —
he could draw it from the fountain head, — pure and undefiled;
it was unborrowed; the acquisition of his own observation, re-
flection, and experiences, and all his own. It entered into the
composition of the man, forming part of his mind, and strengthen-
ing and preparing him for all those great scenes of intellectual
exertion or controversy in which his life was spent. His armor
was always on, and he was ever ready for the battle.

This mighty genius was accompanied, in him, by all the
qualities necessary to sustain its action, and to make it most
irresistible. His person was tall and commanding, and his de-
meanor —

* Lofty and sour to them that loved him not ;
But to those men that sought him, sweet as summer.**

He was direct and honest, ardent and fearless, prompt to form
his opinions, always bold in their avowal, and sometimes impet-
uous, or even rash, in their vindication. In the performance of
his duties he feared no responsibility. He scorned all evasion
or untruth. No pale thought ever troubled his decisive mind.

* Be just and fear not " was the sentiment of his heart and
the principle of his action. It regulated his conduct in private
and public life; all the ends he aimed at were his country's, his
God's, and truth's.

Such was Henry Clay, and such were his talents, his qualities,
and objects. Nothing but success and honor could attend such
a character. For nearly half a century he was an informing
spirit, a brilliant and heroic figure in our political sphere, mar-
shaling our country in the way she ought to go. The "bright
track of his fiery car" may be traced through the whole space
over which, in his day, his country and its Government have
passed in the way to greatness and renown. It will still point
the way to further greatness and renown.

The great objects of his public life were to preserve and
strengthen the Union; to maintain the Constitution and laws of
the United States; to cherish industry; to protect labor; and to
facilitate, by all proper national improvements, the communica-
tion between all parts of our widely extended country. This
4 — 16


was his American system of policy. With inflexible patriotism
he pursued and advocated it to his end. He was every inch an
American. His heart, and all there was of him, were devoted
to his country, to its liberty, and its free institutions. He in-
herited the spirit of the Revolution, in the midst of which he
was born; and the love of liberty, and the pride of freedom were
in him principles of action.

A remarkable trait in the character of Mr. Clay was his in-
flexibility in defending the public interest against all schemes for
its detriment. His exertions were, indeed, so steadily employed
and so often successful in protecting the public against the in-
jurious designs of visionary politicians or party demagogues, that
he may be almost said to have been, during forty years, the
guardian angel of his country. He never would compromise the
public interest for anybody, or for any personal advantage to

He was the advocate of liberty throughout the world, and his
voice of cheer was raised in behalf of every people who strug-
gled for freedom. Greece, awakened from a long sleep of servi-
tude, heard his voice, and was reminded of her own Demosthenes.
South America, too, in her struggle for independence, heard his
brave words of encouragement, and her fainting heart was ani-
mated and her arm made strong.

Henry Clay is the fair representative of the age in which he
lived; an age which forms the greatest and brightest era in the
history of man; an age teeming with new discoveries and devel-
opments, extending in all directions the limits of human knowl-
edge, — exploring the agencies and elements of the physical
world, and turning and subjugating them to the uses of man, —
unfolding and establishing, practically, the great principles of
popular rights and free government, and which, nothing doubt-
ing, nothing fearing, still advances in majesty, aspiring to and
demanding further improvement and further amelioration of the
condition of mankind.

With the chivalrous and benignant spirit of this great era
Henry Clay was thoroughly imbued. He was, indeed, molded
by it and made in its own image. That spirit, be it remem-
bered, was not one of licentiousness, or turbulence, or blind
innovation. It was a wise spirit, good and honest as it was
resolute and brave; and truth and justice were its companions
and guides.


These noble qualities of truth and justice were conspicuous
in the whole public life of Henry Clay. On that solid founda-
tion he stood erect and fearless; and when the storms of state
beat around and threatened to overwhelm him his exclamation
was still heard, ^* Truth is mighty, and public justice certain. '^
What a magnificent and heroic figure does Henry Clay here pre-
sent to the world! We can but stand before and look upon it
in silent reverence. His appeal was not in vain; — the passions
of party subsided, truth and justice resumed their sway, and his
generous countrymen repaid him for all the wrong they had
done him, with gratitude, affection, and admiration in his life,
and tears in his death.

It has been objected to Henry Clay that he was ambitious
So he was. But in him ambition was virtue. It sought only th'=?
proper, fair objects of honorable ambition, and it sought these
by honorable means only, — by so serving the country as to de-
serve its favors and its honors. If he sought office, it was for
the purpose of enabling him, by the power it would give, to
serve his country more effectually and pre-eminently; and, if he
expected and desired thereby to advance his own fame, who wil]
say that was a fault ? Who will say that it was a fault to seek
and desire office for any of the personal gratifications it may
afford, so long as those gratifications are made subordinate to the
public good ?

That Henry Clay's object in desiring office was to serve his
country, and that he made all other considerations subservient,
I have no doubt. I knew him well, — I had full opportunity of
observing him in his most unguarded moments and conversation,
— and I can say that I have never known a more unselfish, a
more faithful or intrepid representative of the people, of the peo'
pie's rights, and the people's interests, than Henry Clay.

It was most fortunate for Kentucky to have such a represen-
tative, and most fortunate for him to have such a constituent as
Kentucky; fortunate for him to have been thrown, in the early
and susceptible period of his life, into the primitive society of
her bold and free people. As one of her children, I am pleased
to think that from that source he derived some of that magna
nimity and energy which his after life so signally displayed. I
am pleased to think that mingling with all his great qualities
there was a sort of Kentuckyism (I shall not undertake to
define it), which, though it may not have polished or refined.


gave to them additional point and power, and free scope of

You all know Mr. Clay; your knowledge and recollection of
him will present him more vividly to your minds than any pic-
ture I can draw of him. This I will add, — he was in the high-
est, truest sense of the term, a great man, and we shall never
look upon his like again. He has gone to join the mighty dead
in another and better world. How little is there of such a man
that can die! His fame, the memory of his benefactions, the
lessons of his wisdom, all remain with us, — over these death has
no power.

How few of the great of this world have been so fortunate
as he! How few of them have lived to see their labors so re-
warded! He lived to see the country that he loved and served
advanced to great prosperity and renown, and still advancing.
He lived till every prejudice which at any period of his life had
existed against him was removed, and until he had become the
object of the reverence, love, and gratitude of his whole country.
His work seemed then to be completed, and fate could not have
selected a happier moment to remove him from the troubles and
vicissitudes of this life.

Glorious as his life was, there was nothing that became him
like the leaving of it, I saw him frequently during the slow
and lingering disease which terminated his life. He was con-
scious of his approaching end, and prepared to meet it with all
the resignation and fortitude of a Christian hero. He was all
patience, meekness, and gentleness; these shone round him like a
mildj celestial light, breaking upon him from another world —

"And to add greater honors to his age
Than man can give, he died in fear of God.*


(Prom a Speech in the Senate, February 15th, 1859, on the Proposed

Acquisition of Cuba)

IT WAS once the great policy of this Government to preserve
amity and the kindest relations with all the States of North
and South America; and we succeeded. A noble course of
policy it was. I was here when they were springing into inde-
pendence — emerging from that Spanish despotism into which they


had been immersed for so many ages. I remember the sensi-
bihty and the sympathy with which we all regarded the struggles
going on in South America; and, as a Kentuckian, I remember
with especial pride that it was the trumpet-toned voice of Henry
Clay that led on this great subject of American policy and Amer-
ican sympathy. In South America, at that early day, nothing
was so much cherished; and the speeches of Henry Clay in their
behalf, proffering peace and friendship and kindness to them,
and encouragement in their efforts, were read at the head of
their armies, and hailed with shouts and enthusiasm. They came
into the world as free nations, as it were, under our auspices;
hailed, cheered on, and encouraged, by the voice of America.
All their eyes were turned on us; we were an exemplar to them.
What has become of that feeling? Where is it, you rulers of
our people, where is it ? or how is it that you have lost all these
good feelings on their part? The good-will of a whole continent
is a mighty fund of national strength; and we have lost it. The
nations of South America were striving to establish such liberty
as we had established; striving to connect themselves with us by
all those bonds which unite republics, to take our stand against
the great European world, and the great European system. That
was the object of this policy.

At the close of the great wars of Europe, when Spain solic-
ited assistance to resubjugate her South American colonies,
when their menacing reached the ears of the rulers of this coun-
try, what was done ? It was the mightiest question that had
been presented to the world in this century — whether South
America should be Europeanized and fall under the European
system of government and policy, or whether it should be Amer-
icanized according to the American system of republics. What a
mighty question was it By kindness, by encouragement, by
offers of unlimited kindness and protection, we won their hearts,
and they fell into our system. They gave us all their sympathy;
but now, where has it gone ? Read the last message of the
President, and consider the troubled state of our relations with
these States which it depicts. There is not a state where we do
not find enemies, where our citizens are free from violence, where
their property is not taken from them. It seems that the per-
sons and property of our citizens are exposed continually to daily
violence in every State of South America with which we have
relations. It is so, too, in Mexico and Guatemala and Costa
Rica and the various States of Central America.


How has it been that this state of things has been brought
about ? How has it been that we have lost that mighty acquisition,
— an acquisition, not of territory, but an acquisition of the hearts
of men; an acquisition of the hearts of nations, ready to follow
our lead; to stand by us in a common cause, to fight the world,
if it were necessary ? That great golden chain that bound freemen
together from one end of the North to the end of the South
American continent has been broken in a thousand pieces; and
the message tells us the sad tale that we are everywhere treated
with enmity and hostility, and that it is necessary for us to
avenge it. We are gathering up little accounts with these na-
tions; we are making quarrels with them. They have done some
wrong; practiced some enmity against our citizens; taken some
property that they ought not to have taken; and, besides, we
have claims against them. From the Feejee Islands to the
Spanish throne, we have demands to be urged; and I think we
are coming to a very summary process of collection, where no
congress is to sit to examine into the casus belli, but a ship of
war, better than all the constables in the world, is to go around
collecting, from the cannibals and others, whatever she is com-
missioned to say is due to us.

What peace can we have, what good-will can we have among
men, if we are to depart from the noble course which governed
our forefathers, who had no quarrels but those which they could
make a fight out of, and ought to have made a fight out of,
directly and at once, and be done with them ? Do all these
little clouds or specks of war that darken our horizon promise
additional prosperity, or an increase of revenue to meet our
debts? No, sir. If they portray anything, they portray the con-
trary — increased expenditures; for however summary your collec-
tions, however summarily you take vengeance on other nations,
it costs always, and it will cost, a good deal. Fighting is an
expensive luxury; luxury it may be considered, but there is cost
in it. . . .

Here, in view of all this, we propose to let the President make
war as he pleases. The Constitution says the Congress of the
United States shall have the power to make v/ar. Has anybody
else the power to make war but we and the House of Represen-
tatives ? Is it a little inferior jurisdiction that we can transfer
and delegate to others ? Did the Constitution intend that the
President should exercise it ? No ; it gave it to us, and in the


balance of powers just as much denied it to the President as it
gave it to us. We subvert the whole system of our Government-
the whole constitutional framework of it is a wreck, if you take
this most dangerous and most important of all powers and put it
in the hands of the President of the United States, Can you
abdicate this power which the people have given you as their
trustees ? You cannot do it. Does not this bill do it ?

To be sure, it will be observed that the right of summary
redress is limited to weak States, There seems to be some sav-
ing understanding upon the part of the framers of this policy
that it would not be applicable to large States. Some trouble,

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 4) → online text (page 23 of 39)