« PreviousContinue »
He is a christian patriot; and in all the laborious duties of his official stations; in all his counsels with kindred souls; in all his plans of reform and improvement, the future moral and religious, as well as political, aspects of his beloved country, pass before his mind, and glow in his imagination, with all that vividness and beauty which his own creative fancy, in the light of the promises of revelation, sheds around them. His grandest projects, and his mightiest efforts, with their most splendid results, rise in his estimation to still higher degrees of grandeur and sublimity, because they are but the preparatory steps for making this his beloved country become, to the millions and millions of people who are yet destined to inhabit it, the great entrance way to that holier and happier country, where Jehovah, in the person of his Son, will manifest his glory, and his empire be one of universal peace and love.
He seeks the honor of his nation; but his estimate of this honor is made with reference to distant times and ages, when the records of history shal! breathe the same spirit as the records of revelation, and the admiration of mankind be directed to the heroes who have been great in doing good, and to the nations that have been the benefactors of mankind; and he seeks to prepare the way, in the very discharge of his political duties, to have his beloved country distinguished as the instrument, in the hand of the King of kings, of diffusing the blessings of civilization, of freedom, and of christianity throughout the world.
He is a christian statesman; and he anticipates the day when the principles which he recognizes, and the measures which he advocates, based on the eternal foundation of truth and justice; imbued with the spirit of the gospel; acknowledging the paramount obligation of loving our neighbor as ourselves, and of doing to others as we would have others do to us; breathing peace on earth and good will to men, when these principles shall regulate the intercourse of nations; and the universal
adoption of these measures shall bind all men together in one brotherhood of affection; when they shall acknowledge God as their common Father; his Son as their only Savior and Lord; living to do good to each other, as members of one great family; and inspired by the same hopes of immortality, as fellow-heirs of a common inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.
SECRETS OF GUILT NEVER SAFE FROM DETECTION. Daniel Webster.
Gentlemen, this is a most extraordinary case. In some respects it has hardly a precedent anywhere; certainly none in our New-England history. This bloody drama exhibited no suddenly excited, ungovernable rage. The actors in it were not surprised by any lion-like temptation springing upon their virtue, and overcoming it before resistance could begin. Nor did they do the deed to glut savage vengeance, or satiate long-settled and deadly hate. It was a cool, calculating, money-making murder. It was all"hire and salary, not revenge." It was the weighing of money against life; the counting out of so many pieces of silver, against so many ounces of blood.
An aged man, without an enemy in the world, in his own house, and in his own bed, is made the victim of a butcherly murder, for mere pay.-Truly, here is a new lesson for painters and poets. Whoever shall hereafter draw the portrait of murder, if he will show it as it has been exhibited in an example, where such example was last to have been looked for, in the very bosom of our New-England society, let him not give it the grim visage of Moloch, the brow knitted by revenge, the face black with settled hate, and the blood-shot eye emitting livid fires of malice. Let him draw, rather, a decorous, smooth-faced, bloodless demon; a picture in repose, rather than in action; not so much an example of human nature in its depravity, and in its paroxysms of crime, as
an infernal nature, a fiend, in the ordinary display and development of his character.
The deed was executed with a degree of self-possession and steadiness, equal to the wickedness with which it was planned. The circumstances, now clearly in evidence, spread out the whole scene before us. Deep sleep had fallen on the destined victim, and on all beneath his roof. A healthful old man, to whom sleep was sweet; the first sound slumbers of the night held him in their soft but strong embrace. The assassin enters, through the window already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With noiseless foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he winds up the ascent of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chamber. Of this, he moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it turns on its hinges; and he enters and beholds his victim before him. The room was uncommonly open to the admission of light. The face of the innocent sleeper was turned from the murderer, and the beams of the moon, resting on the gray locks of his aged temple, showed him where to strike. The fatal blow is given! and the victim passes, without a struggle or a motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death! It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work; and he yet plies the dagger, though it was obvious that life had been destroyed by the blow of the bludgeon.-He even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in his aim at the heart, and replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard ! To finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! he feels it, and ascertains that it beats no longer! It is accomplished. The deed is done. He retreats, retraces his steps to the window, passes out through it as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murder-no eye has seen him, no ear has heard him. The secret is his own, and it is safe!
Ah! gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be safe no where. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner, where the guilty can
bestow it, and say it is safe. Not to speak of that Eye that glances through all disguises, and beholds every thing, as in the splendor of noon,-such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection, even by men. True it is, generally speaking, that "murder will out." True it is, that Providence hath so ordained, and doth so govern things, that those who break the great law of heaven, by shedding man's blood, seldom succeed in avoiding discovery. Especially, in a case exciting so much attention as this, discovery must come, and will come, sooner or later. A thousand eyes turn at once to explore every man, every thing, every circumstance, connected with the time and place; a thousand ears catch every whisper; a thousand excited minds intensely dwell on the scene, shedding all their light, and ready to kindle the slightest circumstance into a blaze of discovery. Meantime, the guilty soul cannot keep its own secret. It is false to itself; or rather it feels an irresistible impulse of conscience to be true to itself. It labors under its guilty possession, and knows not what to do with it. The human heart was not made for the residence of such an inhabitant. It finds itself preyed on by a torment which it does not acknowledge to God nor man. A vulture is devouring it, and it can ask no sympathy or assistance, either from heaven or earth. The secret which the murderer possesses soon comes to possess him; and, like the evil spirit of which we read, it overcomes him, and leads him whithersoever it will. He feels it beating at his heart, rising to his throat, and demanding disclosure. He thinks the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, and almost hears its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It has become his master. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his courage, it conquers his prudence. When suspicions, from without, begin to embarrass him, the fatal secret struggles with still greater violence to burst forth. It must be confessed, it will be confessed; there is no refuge from confession but suicide, and suicide is confession.
REDGAUNTLET'S ADDRESS TO HIS NEPHEW.-Scott.
For you, my nephew, I had hoped to have done much. The weakness and timidity of your mother sequestered you from my care, or it would have been my pride and happiness to have trained up the son of my unhappy brother in those paths of honor in which our ancestors have always trod. I have no wish to reflect on her memory, though her mistrust has done so much injury, I will not say to me, but to the cause of my unhappy country.
Well, I now hold up to you, my dearest nephew, worthy object of ambition. Look eastward-do you see a monument stand on yonder plain, near a hamlet? That hamlet is called Burgh-upon-Sands, and yonder monument is erected to the memory of the tyrant Edward I. The just hand of Providence overtook him on that spot, as he was leading his bands to complete the subjugation of Scotland, whose civil dissensions began under his accursed policy. The glorious career of Bruce might have been stopped in its outset; the field of Bannockburn might have remained a bloodless turf, if God had not removed, in the very crisis, the crafty and bold tyrant who had so long been Scotland's scourge. Edward's grave is the cradle of our national freedom. It is within sight of that great landmark of our liberty, that I have to propose to you an undertaking, second in honor and importance to none since the immortal Bruce stabbed the Red Comyn, and grasped, with his yet bloody hand, the independent crown of Scotland.
I will not suppose that you are either so dull as not to comprehend the import of my words, or so dastardly as to be dismayed by my proposal-or so utterly degenerate from the blood and sentiments of your ancestors, as not to feel my summons as the horse hears the wartrumpet.
I will not hear you speak a word against the justice of