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to the present day, I have felt it a sacred duty to present any
petition, couched in respectful language, from any citizen of the United
States, be its object what it may, - be the prayer of it that in which I
could concur, or that to which I was utterly opposed. I adhere to the
right of petition; and let me say here that, let the petition be, as the
gentleman from Virginia has stated, from free negroes, prostitutes, as
he supposes, - for he says there is one put on this paper, and he infers
that the rest are of the same description, - _that_ has not altered my
opinion at all. Where is your law that says that the mean, the low, and
the degraded, shall be deprived of the right of petition, if their moral
character is not good? Where, in the land of free-men, was the right of
petition ever placed on the exclusive basis of morality and virtue?
Petition is supplication - it is entreaty - it is prayer! And where is the
degree of vice or immorality which shall deprive the citizen of the
right to supplicate for a boon, or to pray for mercy? Where is such a
law to be found? It does not belong to the most abject despotism. There
is no absolute monarch on earth who is not compelled, by the
constitution of his country, to receive the petitions of his people,
whosoever they may be. The Sultan of Constantinople cannot walk the
streets and refuse to receive petitions from the meanest and vilest in
the land. This is the law even of despotism; and what does your law say?
Does it say, that, before presenting a petition, you shall look into it
and see whether it comes from the virtuous, and the great, and the
mighty? No, sir; it says no such thing. The right of petition belongs to
all; and so far from refusing to present a petition because it might
come from those low in the estimation of the world, it would be an
additional incentive, if such an incentive were wanting.


From his Fourth of July Oration at Quincy, 1831

Nullification is the provocation to that brutal and foul contest of
force, which has hitherto baffled all the efforts of the European and
Southern American nations, to introduce among them constitutional
governments of liberty and order. It strips us of that peculiar and
unimitated characteristic of all our legislation - free debate; it makes
the bayonet the arbiter of law; it has no argument but the thunderbolt.
It were senseless to imagine that twenty-three States of the Union would
suffer their laws to be trampled upon by the despotic mandate of one.
The act of nullification would itself be null and void. Force must be
called in to execute the law of the Union. Force must be applied by the
nullifying State to resist its execution -

"Ate, hot from Hell,
Cries Havoc! and lets slip the dogs of war."

The blood of brethren is shed by each other. The citizen of the
nullifying State is a traitor to his country, by obedience to the law of
his State; a traitor to his State, by obedience to the law of his
country. The scaffold and the battle-field stream alternately with the
blood of their victims. Let this agent but once intrude upon your
deliberations, and Freedom will take her flight for heaven. The
Declaration of Independence will become a philosophical dream, and
uncontrolled, despotic sovereignties will trample with impunity, through
a long career of after ages, at interminable or exterminating war with
one another, upon the indefeasible and unalienable rights of man.

The event of a conflict of arms, between the Union and one of its
members, whether terminating in victory or defeat, would be but an
alternative of calamity to all. In the holy records of antiquity, we
have two examples of a confederation ruptured by the severance of its
members; one of which resulted, after three desperate battles, in the
extermination of the seceding tribe. And the victorious people, instead
of exulting in shouts of triumph, "came to the House of God, and abode
there till even before God; and lifted up their voices, and wept sore,
and said, - O Lord God of Israel, _why_ is this come to pass in Israel,
that there should be to-day one tribe lacking in Israel?" The other was
a successful example of resistance against tyrannical taxation, and
severed forever the confederacy, the fragments forming separate
kingdoms; and from that day, their history presents an unbroken series
of disastrous alliances and exterminating wars - of assassinations,
conspiracies, revolts, and rebellions, until both parts of the
confederacy sunk in tributary servitude to the nations around them; till
the countrymen of David and Solomon hung their harps upon the willows of
Babylon, and were totally lost among the multitudes of the Chaldean and
Assyrian monarchies, "the most despised portion of their slaves."

In these mournful memorials of their fate, we may behold the sure, too
sure prognostication of our own, from the hour when force shall be
substituted for deliberation in the settlement of our Constitutional
questions. This is the deplorable alternative - the extirpation of the
seceding member, or the never-ceasing struggle of two rival
confederacies, ultimately bending the neck of both under the yoke of
foreign domination, or the despotic sovereignty of a conqueror at home.
May Heaven avert the omen! The destinies of not only our posterity, but
of the human race, are at stake.

Let no such melancholy forebodings intrude upon the festivities of this
anniversary. Serene skies and balmy breezes are not congenial to the
climate of freedom. Progressive improvement in the condition of man is
apparently the purpose of a superintending Providence. That purpose will
not be disappointed. In no delusion of national vanity, but with a
feeling of profound gratitude to the God of our Fathers, let us indulge
the cheering hope and belief, that our country and her people have been
selected as instruments for preparing and maturing much of the good yet
in reserve for the welfare and happiness of the human race. Much good
has already been effected by the solemn proclamation of our principles,
much more by the illustration of our example. The tempest which
threatens desolation, may be destined only to purify the atmosphere. It
is not in tranquil ease and enjoyment that the active energies of
mankind are displayed. Toils and dangers are the trials of the soul.
Doomed to the first by his sentence at the fall, man, by his submission,
converts them into pleasures. The last are since the fall the condition
of his existence. To see them in advance, to guard against them by all
the suggestions of prudence, to meet them with the composure of
unyielding resistance, and to abide with firm resignation the final
dispensation of Him who rules the ball, - these are the dictates of
philosophy - these are the precepts of religion - these are the principles
and consolations of patriotism; these remain when all is lost - and of
these is composed the spirit of independence - the spirit embodied in
that beautiful personification of the poet, which may each of you, my
countrymen, to the last hour of his life, apply to himself: -

"Thy spirit, Independence, let me share,
Lord of the lion heart and eagle eye!
Thy steps I follow, with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky."

In the course of nature, the voice which now addresses you must soon
cease to be heard upon earth. Life and all which it inherits, lose of
their value as it draws toward its close. But for most of you, my
friends and neighbors, long and many years of futurity are yet in store.
May they be years of freedom - years of prosperity - years of happiness,
ripening for immortality! But, were the breath which now gives utterance
to my feelings, the last vital air I should draw, my expiring words to
you and your children should be, INDEPENDENCE AND UNION FOREVER!


(1805 - 1848)

This English poet, whose hymn, 'Nearer, my God, to Thee,' is known
wherever the English language is spoken, was born at Great Harlow,
Essex, England, in 1805. She was the daughter of Benjamin Flower, who in
1799 was prosecuted for plain speaking in his paper, the Cambridge
Intelligencer. From the outcome of his trial is to be dated the liberty
of political discussion in England. Her mother was Eliza Gould, who
first met her future husband in jail, whither she had gone on a visit to
assure him of her sympathy. She also had suffered for liberal opinions.
From their parents two daughters inherited a distinguished nobility and
purity of character. Eliza excelled in the composition of music for
congregational worship, and arranged a musical service for the Unitarian
South Place Chapel, London. Sarah contributed first to the Monthly
Repository, conducted by W.J. Fox, her Unitarian pastor, in whose family
she lived after her father's death. In 1834 she married William Bridges
Adams. Her delicate health gave way under the shock of her sister's
death in 1846, and she died of decline in 1848.

Her poetic genius found expression both in the drama and in hymns. Her
play, 'Vivia Perpetua' (1841), tells of the author's rapt aspiration
after an ideal, symbolized in a pagan's conversion to Christianity. She
published also 'The Royal Progress,' a ballad (1845), on the giving tip
of the feudal privileges of the Isle of Wight to Edward I.; and poems
upon the humanitarian interests which the Anti-Corn-Law League
endeavored to further. Her hymns are the happiest expressions of the
religious trust, resignation, and sweetness of her nature.

'Nearer, my God, to Thee,' was written for the South Place Chapel
service. There are stories of its echoes having been heard from a
dilapidated log cabin in Arkansas, from a remote corner of the north of
England, and from the Heights of Benjamin in the Holy Land. But even
its devotion and humility have not escaped censure - arising, perhaps,
from denominational bias. The fault found with it is the fault of
Addison's 'How are thy servants blessed, O Lord,' and the fault of the
Psalmody begun by Sternhold and Hopkins, which, published in Geneva in
1556, electrified the congregation of six thousand souls in Elizabeth's
reign, - it has no direct reference to Jesus. Compilers of hymn-books
have sought to rectify what they deem a lapse in Christian spirit by the
substitution of a verse begining "Christ alone beareth me." But the
quality of the interpolated verse is so inferior to the lyric itself
that it has not found general acceptance. Others, again, with an excess
of zeal, have endeavored to substitute "the Cross" for "a cross" in the
first stanza.

An even share of its extraordinary vogue must in bare justice be
credited to the tune which Dr. Lowell Mason has made an inseparable part
of it; though this does not detract in the least from its own high
merit, or its capacity to satisfy the feelings of a devout soul. A
taking melody is the first condition of even the loveliest song's
obtaining popularity; and this hymn was sung for many years to various
tunes, including chants, with no general recognition of its quality. It
was Dr. Mason's tune, written about 1860, which sent it at once into the
hearts of the people.


He sendeth sun, he sendeth shower,
Alike they're needful to the flower;
And joys and tears alike are sent
To give the soul fit nourishment.
As comes to me or cloud or sun,
Father! thy will, not mine, be done.

Can loving children e'er reprove
With murmurs, whom they trust and love?
Creator, I would ever be
A trusting, loving child to thee:
As comes to me or cloud or sun,
Father! thy will, not mine, be done.

Oh, ne'er will I at life repine, -
Enough that thou hast made it mine.
When falls the shadow cold of death,
I yet will sing with parting breath,
As comes to me or cloud or sun,
Father! thy will, not mine, be done.


Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!
E'en though it be a cross
That raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be, -
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

Though, like a wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

There let the way appear
Steps unto heaven;
All that thou sendest me
In mercy given;
Angels to beckon me
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

Then with my waking thoughts
Bright with thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs
Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

Or if on joyful wing,
Cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot,
Upward I fly;
Still all my song shall be, -
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

From 'Adoration, Aspiration, and Belief.'




There are few figures in literary history more dignified and attractive
than Joseph Addison; few men more eminently representative, not only of
literature as a profession, but of literature as an art. It has happened
more than once that literary gifts of a high order have been lodged in
very frail moral tenements; that taste, feeling, and felicity of
expression have been divorced from general intellectual power, from
intimate acquaintance with the best in thought and art, from grace of
manner and dignity of life. There have been writers of force and
originality who failed to attain a representative eminence, to identify
themselves with their art in the memory of the world. There have been
other writers without claim to the possession of gifts of the highest
order, who have secured this distinction by virtue of harmony of
character and work, of breadth of interest, and of that fine
intelligence which instinctively allies itself with the best in its
time. Of this class Addison is an illustrious example. His gifts are not
of the highest order; there was none of the spontaneity, abandon, or
fertility of genius in him; his thought made no lasting contribution to
the highest intellectual life; he set no pulses beating by his eloquence
of style, and fired no imagination by the insight and emotion of his
verse; he was not a scholar in the technical sense: and yet, in an age
which was stirred and stung by the immense satiric force of Swift,
charmed by the wit and elegance of Pope, moved by the tenderness of
Steele, and enchanted by the fresh realism of De Foe, Addison holds the
most representative place. He is, above all others, the Man of Letters
of his time; his name instantly evokes the literature of his period.

[Illustration: JOSEPH ADDISON.]

Born in the rectory at Milston, Wiltshire, on May Day, 1672, it was
Addison's fortune to take up the profession of Letters at the very
moment when it was becoming a recognized profession, with a field of its
own, and with emoluments sufficient in kind to make decency of living
possible, and so related to a man's work that their acceptance involved
loss neither of dignity nor of independence. He was contemporary with
the first English publisher, Jacob Tonson. He was also contemporary with
the notable reorganization of English prose which freed it from
exaggeration, complexity, and obscurity; and he contributed not a little
to the flexibility, charm, balance, and ease which have since
characterized its best examples. He saw the rise of polite society in
its modern sense; the development of the social resources of the city;
the enlargement of what is called "the reading class" to embrace all
classes in the community and all orders in the nation. And he was one of
the first, following the logic of a free press, an organized business
for the sale of books, and the appearance of popular interest in
literature, to undertake that work of translating the best thought,
feeling, sentiment, and knowledge of his time, and of all times, into
the language of the drawing-room, the club, and the street, which has
done so much to humanize and civilize the modern world.

To recognize these various opportunities, to feel intuitively the drift
of sentiment and conviction, and so to adjust the uses of art to life as
to exalt the one, and enrich and refine the other, involved not only the
possession of gifts of a high order, but that training which puts a man
in command of himself and of his materials. Addison was fortunate in
that incomparably important education which assails a child through
every sense, and above all through the imagination - in the atmosphere of
a home, frugal in its service to the body, but prodigal in its ministry
to the spirit. His father was a man of generous culture: an Oxford
scholar, who had stood frankly for the Monarchy and Episcopacy in
Puritan times; a voluminous and agreeable writer; of whom Steele says
that he bred his five children "with all the care imaginable in a
liberal and generous way." From this most influential of schools Addison
passed on to other masters: from the Grammar School at Lichfield, to the
well-known Charter House; and thence to Oxford, where he first entered
Queen's College, and later, became a member of Magdalen, to the beauty
of whose architecture and natural situation the tradition of his walks
and personality adds no small charm. He was a close student, shy in
manner, given to late hours of work. His literary tastes and appetite
were early disclosed, and in his twenty-second year he was already known
in London, had written an 'Account of the Greatest English Poets,' and
had addressed some complimentary verses to Dryden, then the recognized
head of English Letters.

While Addison was hesitating what profession to follow, the leaders of
the political parties were casting about for men of literary power. A
new force had appeared in English politics - the force of public opinion;
and in their experiments to control and direct this novel force,
politicians were eager to secure the aid of men of Letters. The shifting
of power to the House of Commons involved a radical readjustment, not
only of the mechanism of political action, but of the attitude of public
men to the nation. They felt the need of trained and persuasive
interpreters and advocates; of the resources of wit, satire, and humor.
It was this very practical service which literature was in the way of
rendering to political parties, rather than any deep regard for
literature itself, which brought about a brief but brilliant alliance
between groups of men who have not often worked together to mutual
advantage. It must be said, however, that there was among the great Whig
and Tory leaders of the time a certain liberality of taste, and a care
for those things which give public life dignity and elegance, which were
entirely absent from Robert Walpole and the leaders of the two
succeeding reigns, when literature and politics were completely
divorced, and the government knew little and cared less for the welfare
of the arts. Addison came on the stage at the very moment when the
government was not only ready but eager to foster such talents as his.
He was a Whig of pronounced although modern type, and the Whigs were
in power.

Lord Somers and Charles Montagu, better known later as Lord Halifax,
were the heads of the ministry, and his personal friends as well. They
were men of culture, lovers of Letters, and not unappreciative of the
personal distinction which already stamped the studious and dignified
Magdalen scholar. A Latin poem on the Peace of Ryswick, dedicated to
Montagu, happily combined Virgilian elegance and felicity with Whig
sentiment and achievement. It confirmed the judgment already formed of
Addison's ability; and, setting aside with friendly insistence the plan
of putting that ability into the service of the Church, Montagu secured
a pension of £300 for the purpose of enabling Addison to fit himself for
public employment abroad by thorough study of the French language, and
of manners, methods, and institutions on the Continent. With eight Latin
poems, published in the second volume of the 'Musae Anglicanae,' as an
introduction to foreign scholars, and armed with letters of introduction
from Montagu to many distinguished personages, Addison left Oxford in
the summer of 1699, and, after a prolonged stay at Blois for purposes of
study, visited many cities and interesting localities in France, Italy,
Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Holland. The shy, reticent, but
observing young traveler was everywhere received with the courtesy which
early in the century had made so deep an impression on the young Milton.
He studied hard, saw much, and meditated more. He was not only fitting
himself for public service, but for that delicate portraiture of manners
which was later to become his distinctive work. Clarendon had already
drawn a series of lifelike portraits of men of action in the stormy
period of the Revolution: Addison was to sketch the society of his time
with a touch at once delicate and firm; to exhibit its life in those
aspects which emphasize individual humor and personal quality, against a
carefully wrought background of habit, manners, usage, and social
condition. The habit of observation and the wide acquaintance with
cultivated and elegant social life which was a necessary part of the
training for the work which was later to appear in the pages of the
Spectator, were perhaps the richest educational results of these years
of travel and study; for Addison the official is a comparatively obscure
figure, but Addison the writer is one of the most admirable and
attractive figures in English history.

Addison returned to England in 1703 with clouded prospects. The
accession of Queen Anne had been followed by the dismissal of the Whigs
from office; his pension was stopped, his opportunity of advancement
gone, and his father dead. The skies soon brightened, however: the
support of the Whigs became necessary to the Government; the brilliant
victory of Blenheim shed lustre not only on Marlborough, but on the men
with whom he was politically affiliated; and there was great dearth of
poetic ability in the Tory ranks at the very moment when a notable
achievement called for brave and splendid verse. Lord Godolphin, that
easy-going and eminently successful politician of whom Charles the
Second once shrewdly said that he was "never in the way and never out of
it," was directed to Addison in this emergency; and the story goes that
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, afterward Lord Carleton, who was sent
to express to the needy scholar the wishes of the Government, found him
lodged in a garret over a small shop. The result of this memorable
embassy from politics to literature was 'The Campaign': an eminently
successful poem of the formal, "occasional" order, which celebrated the
victor of Blenheim with tact and taste, pleased the ministry, delighted
the public, and brought reputation and fortune to its unknown writer.
Its excellence is in skillful avoidance of fulsome adulation, in the
exclusion of the well-worn classical allusions, and in a straightforward
celebration of those really great qualities in Marlborough which set his
military career in brilliant contrast with his private life. The poem
closed with a simile which took the world by storm: -

"So when an angel, by divine command,
With rising tempests shakes a guilty land,
(Such as of late o'er pale Britannia passed,)
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast;
And, pleased the Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm."

"Addison left off at a good moment," says Thackeray. "That simile was
pronounced to be the greatest ever produced in poetry. That angel, that
good angel, flew off with Mr. Addison, and landed him in the place of
Commissioner of Appeals - _vice_ Mr. Locke, providentially promoted. In
the following year Mr. Addison went to Hanover with Lord Halifax, and
the year after was made Under-Secretary of State. O angel visits! You
come 'few and far between' to literary gentlemen's lodgings! Your wings
seldom quiver at the second-floor windows now!"

The prize poem was followed by a narrative of travel in Italy, happily
written, full of felicitous description, and touched by a humor which,
in quality and manner, was new to English readers. Then came one of
those indiscretions of the imagination which showed that the dignified
and somewhat sober young poet, the "parson in a tye-wig," as he was

Online LibraryUnknownLibrary of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 1 → online text (page 14 of 46)