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 38 of 39)
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first citizen in the great Republic of Humanity.

Encompassed by the inviolate seas stands to-day the American
Republic which he founded — a freer. Greater Britain — uplifted
above the powers and principalities of the earth, even as his
monument is uplifted over roof and dome and spire of the mul-
titudinous city.

Long live the Republic of Washington ! Respected by man-
kind, beloved of all its sons, long may it be the asylum of the
poor and oppressed of all lands and religions — long may it be
the citadel of that liberty which writes beneath the eagle's folded
wings, *^ We will sell to no man, we will deny to no man, right
and justice.'*

Long live the United States of America! Filled with the
free, magnanimous spirit, crowned by the wisdom, blessed by the
moderation, hovered over by the guardian angel of Washington's


example, may they be ever worthy in all things to be defended by
the blood of the brave who know the rights of man and shrink
not from their assertion; may they be each a column, and all
together, under the Constitution, a perpetual Temple of Peace,
unshadowed by a Caesar's palace, at whose altar may freely com-
mune all who seek the union of liberty and brotherhood.

Long live our country! Oh, long through the undying ages
may it stand, far removed in fact as in space from the Old
World's feuds and follies, alone in its grandeur and its glory,
itself the immortal monument of him whom Providence commis-
sioned to teach man the power of truth and to prove to the
nations that their redeemer liveth.


(From the Oration on the Death of Jefferson Davis Delivered Before the
General Assembly of Virginia, January 25th, 1890)

WHAT are the unities of our race ? They are : First, aversion
to human bondage; second, race integrity; third, thirst
for power and broad empire; fourth, love of confederated
union; fifth, assertion of local liberty, if possible, within the
bounds of geographical and governmental union; sixth, but asser-
tion of local liberty and individual right under all circumstances,
at all times, and at any cost. These traits are so strong as to be
the natural laws of the race. One or another of them has lost
its balance in the conflict between interest and instinct, but only
to reappear with renewed vigor when the suppressing circum-
stances were removed; and he who follows their operation will
hold the key to the ascendency of Anglo-Saxon character, and to
its wonderful success in grasping imperial domains and crowning
freedom as their sovereign.

It will not do to dispute the existence of these natural laws
of race, because they have been time and again overruled by
greed, by ambition, or by the overwhelming influence of alien
or hostile forces. As well dispute the courage of the race be-
cause now and then a division of its troops have become demor-
alized and broken in battle. Through the force of these laws
this race has gone around the globe with bugles and swords, and
banners and hymn books, and schoolbooks and constitutions, and
codes and courts, striking down old-time dynasties to ordain free


principles; sweeping away barbaric and savage races that their
own seed might be planted in fruitful lands; disdaining miscege°
nation with inferior races, which corrupts the blood and degen-
erates the physical, mental, and moral nature; widening the
boundaries of their landed possessions, parceling them out in mu-
nicipal subdivisions, and then establishing the maximum of local
and individual privilege consistent with the common defense and
general welfare of their grand aggregations; and then again ris-
ing in the supreme sovereignty of unfearing manhood against
the oppressions of the tax-gatherer and the sword, recasting their
institutions, flinging rulers from their high places, wrenching gov-
ernment by the mailed hand into consistency with their happi-
ness and safety, and proclaiming above all the faith of Jefferson
— «that liberty is the gift of God.»

I shall maintain that the Southern people have been as true
to these instincts as any portion of their race, and have made for
them as great sacrifices ; that the Southern Confederacy grew out of
them, and only in a subsidiary degree in antagonism to any one
of them; and I shall also maintain that Jefferson Davis is en-
titled to stand in the pantheon of the world's great men on a pedes-
tal not less high than those erected for the images of Hampden,
Sidney, Cromwell, Burke, and Chatham, of the Fatherland, and
Washington and Hamilton, Jefferson and Adams, Madison and
Franklin, of the New World, who, however varying in circum-
stances or in personality, were liberty-leaders and representatives
of great peoples, great ideas, and great deeds.

On what ground will he be challenged ? Did not the South-
ern folk show originally an aversion to slavery more manifestly
even than those of the North ? South Carolina protested against
it as early as 1727, and as late as 1760. Georgia prohibited it by
law. Virginia sternly set her face against it and levied a tax of
ten dollars per head on every negro to prevent it. They were
all overridden by the avarice of English merchants and the des-
potism of English ministers. ** Do as you would be done by '* is
not yet the maxim of our race, which will push off on its weaker
brethren what it will not itself accept; and thus slavery was thrust
on the South ; an uninvited — aye, a forbidden guest. Quickly
did the South stop the slave trade. Though the Constitution for-
bade the Congress to prohibit it prior to 1808, when that year
came every Southern State had itself prohibited it, Virginia lead-
/ng the list. When Jefferson Davis was born it was gone alto-


gether save in one State, South Carolina, where it had been
revived under combination between large planters of the South
and ship owners and slave traders of the north.

Fine exhibition, too, was that of unselfish Southern patri-
otism when in 1787 by Southern votes and Virginia's generosity,
and under Jefferson's lead, the great Northwestern Territory was
given to the Union and to freedom.

But the South yielded to slavery, we are told. Yes; but did
not all America do likewise ? Do we not know that the Pilgrim
Fathers enslaved both the Indian and African race, swapping
young Indians for the more docile blacks, lest the red slave
might escape to his native forest ?

Listen to this appeal to Governor Winthrop : ^^ Mr. Endicott
and myself salute you in the Lord Jesus. We have heard
of a division of women and children and would be glad of a
share — viz., a young woman or a girl and a boy if you think
good. '^

Do we not hear Winthrop himself recount how the Pequods
were taken '^ through the Lord's great mercy, of whom the males
were sent to Bermuda and the females distributed through the
Bay towns to be employed as domestic servants"? Did not the
prisoners of King Philip's War suffer a similar fate ? Is it not
written that when one hundred and fifty Indians came volun-
tarily into the Plymouth garrison they were all sold into cap-
tivity beyond the seas? Did not Downing declare to Winthrop:
" If upon a just war the Lord should deliver them [the Narra-
gansetts], we might easily have men, women, and children enough
to exchange for Moors, which will be more gainful pillage to us
than we can conceive, for I do not see how we can thrive until
we get in a stock of slaves sufficient to do all our business " ?
Were not choice parcels of negro boys and girls consigned to
Boston from the Indies and advertised and sold at auction until
after independence was declared ? Was not the first slave ship
in America fitted out by the Pilgrim colony ? Was not the first
statute establishing slavery enacted in Massachusetts in 1641,
with a certain comic comprehensiveness providing that there
should "never be any bond slavery unless it be of captives taken
in just war, or of such as willingly sold themselves or were sold
to them"? Did not the united colonies of New England consti-
tute the first American confederacy that recognized slavery; and
was not the first fugitive slave law originated at their bidding ?


All this is true. Speak slowly then, O man of the North,
against the Southern slave owners, or the Southern chief, lest you
cast down the images of your ancestors and their spirits rise to
rebuke you for treading harshly on their graves. On days of
public festival when you hold them up as patterns of patriotism,
take care lest you be accused of passing the counterfeit coin of
praise. Disturb not too rudely the memories of the men who
defended slavery; say naught of moral obliquity lest the vener-
erable images of Winthrop and Endicott be torn from the his-
toric pages of the Pilgrim Land, and the fathers of Plymouth
Rock be cast into outer darkness.

When Independence was declared at Philadelphia in 1776,
America was yet a unit in the possession of slaves, and when
the Constitution of 1787 was ordained, the institution still existed
in every one of the thirteen States save Massachusetts only.
True its decay had begun where it was no longer profitable, but
every State united in its recognition in the federal compact, and
the very fabric of our representative government was built upon
it, as three-fifths of the slaves were counted in the basis of rep-
resentation in the Congress of the United States, and property in
it was protected by rigid provisions regarding the rendition of
fugitive slaves escaping from one State to another.

Thus embodied in the Constitution, thus interwoven with the
very integuments of our political system, thus sustained by the
oath to support the Constitution, executed by every public serv-
ant and by the decisions of the supreme tribunals, slavery was
ratified by the unanimous voice of the nation, and was conse-
crated as an American institution and as a vested right by the
most solemn pledge and sanction that man can give.

Deny to Jefferson Davis entry to the Temple of Fame be-
cause he defended it ? Cast out of it first the fathers of the
Republic. Brand with the mark of condemnation the whole
people from whom he inherited the obligation, and by whom
was imposed upon him the oath to support their deed. America
must prostrate herself in sackcloth and ashes, repent her his-
tory, and revile her creators and her being ere she can call
recreant the man of 1861 who defended the heritage and promise
of a nation.



*ANTON, the greatest of the French Jacobins, and one of the
most formidable figures in modern history, was born at
Arcis-sur-Aube, October 28th, 1759, and he had not completed
his thirty-fifth year when he went to the guillotine, declaring it better
to live a poor fisherman than to have anything to do with the gov-
ernment of men.

No other man in modern times has so well and so reasonably em-
bodied the latent fierceness of society. When the young French
Republic was hemmed round with enemies; when all the forces of
the world seemed leagued against the handful of radicals and fanatics
who were attempting to make a constructive force out of the chaotic
impulses of the Parisian mob, Danton gave the keynote of his own
character and of the character of the great epoch which created
him, in a single sentence: **To conquer we have need to dare,
to dare again, always to dare; and France will be saved!'' That
sentence and yet another of Danton's overthrew Bourbonism. The
other was: ^<Let France be free, though my name were accursed!"
When a man of average abilities and average education so devotes
himself to any cause that he accepts in advance, as a probable inci-
dent of his work, not merely death, but infamy, he has already more
than half accomplished the possibilities of such achievement as made
Danton the constructive power by virtue of which the French Re-
public of the last quarter of the nineteenth century developed out of
the Reign of Terror. In the Arabian story those who attempt to
climb an enchanted mountain to find the talisman of power at the
top are assailed at every step of their upward progress by shrieks of
execration from unseen enemies attacking them from behind with
every imaginable calumny, every conceivable insult. Those who stop
to answer or turn back to punish these intangible <* conservative
forces* are at once transformed to smooth, black stones, destined to
remain inert under the power of obstruction until some one comes,
so strong, so self-contained, so capable of maintaining a set purpose,
that, like Danton, he will press forward to his object without fearing
either the death or the infamy with which he is threatened. Then
the smooth stones once more become men, and by virtue of the


1 ./. :



^ Photogravure after an Undated French Design of the Revolutionary Period.



} ^H^^j^^ the; tenth of August, 1792, Danton led the attack on. the

Tuileries. He is shown in the illustration ordering re-enforce-
ments to the attack which is progressing in the background. In

the portrayal of his features the illustration follows the most authentic





strength of the one leader as they crowd around him, all their fail-
ures become a part of his success.

If the story were an allegory as it seems to be, it would come
nearer than any biography of Danton can come to suggesting the
secret of his success and of his overthrow. He was at once devoted
and desperate. Threatened with everlasting infamy, he considered
what it would mean, and took the risk. He saw certain death before
him, and went forward to meet it, shrinking less from it for himself
than he had done in inflicting it on others. It is doubtful if such a
man could be created except through the very forces he so fiercely
antagonized. The impulse of tyranny, of mastering men so as to
compel them at their peril to accept the will of another, is shown in
the life of Danton as it was in that of the other Attilas who are
recognized by the generations after them as « Scourges of God.» But
neither an Attila nor a Danton could exist in a normal society. It is
only when a civilization is effete that the strongest men become at
once disorganizers and reorganizers. It is part of the theory of
Pasteur that as soon as life leaves matter the same invisible organ-
isms which operated to keep it alive begin to disintegrate it, that it
may be reorganized into other, and in the sum of things into higher
forms of life. We cannot study the life and work of such menacing
and Titanic figures as Danton without seeing that in its economies
and the conservation of its energies, nature is a unit, true to itself
in what is greatest as in what is least.

Danton was a struggling young lawyer in Paris when the Revolu-
tion overtook him. In the Cordeliers Club he fitted himself for the
popular leadership which came to him as a result of his fitness, when
Mirabeau, the idol of the people, deserted them for the court. Called
the « Mirabeau of the Sans-Culottes,» Danton did not disdain the title.
He accepted as an existing fact the wild desire of the populace of
Paris to be free; their fierce determination to go to any extreme
rather than return to the old order of things; and counting on it
not only as a fact but as a force of the greatest possibilities, he at-
tempted to use it first to demolish entirely the ruins of the monarchy
and on the old foundations to build the splendid structure of his
ideal Republic. His people were not fit for his ideal, nor was he
himself. Loving justice, mercy, and liberty, he could still reconcile
himself to shedding the blood of those he respected for their inten-
tions, while he opposed their purposes. In his own death he foresaw
and prophesied that of Robespierre. No doubt, he foresaw the
guillotine for himself in the death of Vergniaud. It is certain
that he was doomed when, regretting the « logic of the situation"
which sent the Girondists to the scaffold, he did not oppose to it the
same fiery energy that had saved the Republic from the Bourbons.


But his character shows always the same radical fault which appears
in his oratory. He had for the time being the almost omnipotent
power of passion, directed by intellect, but too intense to be sus-
tained, and ending in inevitable reaction. It was in the impotence of
such a reaction that on April 5th, 1794, Dan ton accepted the inevit-
able and went to the scaffold, leaving France and civilization *^in a
frightful welter, » out of which were to come Napoleon, Hugo, Thiers,
and Gambetta, Garrison, Phillips, Sumner, and Lincoln.

W. V. B.


(Delivered in the National Assembly, September 2d, 1792, on the Defense of

the Republic)

IT SEEMS a satisfaction for the ministers of a free people to an-
nounce to them that their country will be saved. All are

stirred, all are enthused, all bum to enter the combat.

You know that Verdun is not yet in the power of our ene-
mies and that its garrison swears to immolate the first who
breathes a proposition of surrender.

One portion of our people will guard our frontiers, another
will dig and arm the entrenchments, the third with pikes will
defend the interior of our cities. Paris will second these great
efforts. The commissioners of the Commune will solemnly pro-
claim to the citizens the invitation to arm and march to the de-
fense of the country. At such a moment you can proclaim that
the capital deserves the esteem of all France. At such a mo-
ment this National Assembly becomes a veritable committee of
war. We ask that you concur with us in directing this sublime
movement of the people, by naming commissioners to second and
assist all these great measures. We ask that any one refusing
to give personal service or to furnish arms shall meet the pun-
ishment of death. We ask that proper instructions be given to
the citizens to direct their movements. We ask that carriers be
sent to all the departments to notify them of the decrees that
you proclaim here. The tocsin we shall sound is not the alarm
signal of danger, it orders the charge on the enemies of France.
[Applause.] To conquer we have need to dare, to dare again,
always to dare! And France will be saved!

(Pour les vaincre^ il nous faut de laiidace; encore de Vaudace^
toujour s de Vaudace; et la France est sauv^e.)



(On the Disasters on the Frontier — Delivered in Convention, March

loth, 1793)

THE general considerations that have been presented to you are
true ; but at this moment it is less necessary to examine the
causes of the disasters that have struck us than to apply
their remedy rapidly. When the edifice is on fire, I do not join
the rascals who would steal the furniture, I extinguish the flames.
I tell you therefore you should be convinced by the dispatches
of Dumouriez that you have not a moment to spare in saving
the Republic.

Dumouriez conceived a plan which did honor to his genius.
I would render him greater justice and praise than I did recently.
But three months ago he announced to the executive power, your
General Committee of Defense, that if we were not audacious
enough to invade Holland in the middle of winter, to declare in-
stantly against England the war which actually we had long
been making, that we would double the difficulties of our cam-
paign, in giving our enemies the time to deploy their forces.
Since we failed to recognize this stroke of his genius, we must
now repair our faults.

Dumouriez is not discouraged; he is in the middle of Holland,
where he will find munitions of war; to overthrow all our ene-
mies, he wants but Frenchmen, and France is filled with citizens.
Would we be free ? If we no longer desire it, let us perish, for
we have all sworn it. If we wish it, let all march to defend our
independence. Your enemies are making their last efforts. Pitt
recognizing he has all to lose, dares spare nothing. Take Hol-
land, and Carthage is destroyed and England can no longer exist
but for Liberty! Let Holland be conquered to Liberty; and even
the commercial aristocracy itself, which at the moment dominates
the English people, would rise against the government which had
dragged it into this despotic war against a free people. They
would overthrow this ministry of stupidity, who thought the
methods of the ancien regime could smother the genius of Lib-
erty breathing in France, This ministry once overthrown in the
interests of commerce, the party of Liberty would show itself;
for it is not dead! And if you know your duties, if your com-
missioners leave at once, if you extend the hand to the strangers


aspiring to destroy all forms of tyranny, France is saved and the
world is free.

Expedite, then, your commissioners; sustain them with your
energy; let them leave this very night, this very evening.

Let them say to the opulent classes, the aristocracy of Europe
must succumb to our efforts, and pay our debt, or you will have
to pay it! The people have nothing but blood, — they lavish it!
Go, then, ingrates, and lavish your wealth! [Wild applause.] See,
citizens, the fair destinies that await you. What! you have a
whole nation as a lever, its reason as your fulcrum and you have
not yet upturned the world! To do this we need firmness and
character, and of a truth we lack it. I put to one side all
passions. They are all strangers to me save a passion for the
public good.

In the most difficult situations, when the enemy was at the
gates of Paris, I said to those governing: "Your discussions are
shameful, I can see but the enemy. ^* [Fresh applause.] You
tire me by squabbling in place of occupying yourselves with
the safety of the Repubic! I repudiate you all as traitors to
our country! I place you all in the same line!*^ I said to them:
"What care I for my reputation! Let France be free, though
my name were accursed ! ** What care I that I am called " a
blood-drinker *M Well, let us drink the blood of the enemies
of humanity, if needful; but let us struggle, let us achieve free-
dom. Some fear the departure of the commissioners may weaken
one or the other section of this convention. Vain fears! Carry
your energy everywhere. The pleasantest declaration will be to
announce to the people that the terrible debt weighing upon
them will be wrested from their enemies or that the rich will
shortly have to pay it. The national situation is cruel. The
representatives of value are no longer in equilibrium in the cir-
culation. The day of the workingman is lengthened beyond
necessity. A great corrective measure is necessary! Conquerors
of Holland reanimate in England the Republican party; let us
advance France and we shall go glorified to posterity. Achieve
these grand destinies; no more debates, no more quarrels, and
the Fatherland is saved.


(Delivered in the Convention, March 9th, 1793)

BEYOND a doubt, citizens, the hopes of your commissioners will
not be deceived. Yes, your enemies, the enemies of lib-
erty shall be exterminated, for your efforts shall be relent-
less. You are worthy the dignity of regulating and controlling
the nation's energy. Your commissioners, disseminated in all
parts of the Republic, will repeat to Frenchmen that the great
quarrel between despotism and liberty shall soon terminate. The
people of France shall be avenged; it becomes us then to put
the political world in harmony, to make laws in accord with such
harmony. But before we too deeply entertain these grander ob-
jects, I shall ask you to make a declaration of a principle too
long ignored; to abolish a baneful error, to destroy the tyranny
of wealth upon misery.

If the measures I propose be adopted, then Pitt, the Breteuil
of English diplomacy, and Burke, the Abb^ Maury of the British
Parliament, who are impelling the English people to-day against
liberty, may be touched.

What do you ask ? You would have every Frenchman armed
in the common defense. And yet there is a class of men sullied
by no crime, who have stout arms, but no liberty. They are the
unfortunates detained for debt. It is a shame for humanity, it is
against all philosophy, that a man in receiving money can pawn
his person as security. I can readily prove that this principle is
favorable to cupidity, since experience proves that the lender

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 38 of 39)