« ForrigeFortsett »
cherished recollections of the loved, the honored, and the lost.
4. The skill of the painter and sculptor, which thus comes in aid of the memory and imagination, is, in its highest degree, one of the rarest, as it is one of the most exquisite, accomplishments within our attainment, and in its perfection as seldom witnessed as the perfection of speech or of music. The plastic hand must be moved by the same ethereal instinct as the eloquent lips or the recording pen. The number of those who, in the language of Michael Angelo, can discern the finished statue in the heart of the shapeless block, and bid it start into artistic life, — who are endowed with the exquisite gift of molding the rigid bronze or the lifeless marble into graceful, majestic, and expressive forms,—is not greater than the number of those who are able, with equal majesty, grace, and expressiveness, to make the spiritual essence, — the finest shades of thought and feeling, -sensible to the mind, through the eye and the ear, in the mysterious embodiment of the written and the spoken word. If Athens, in her palmiest days, had but one Pericles, she had also but one Phidias.
5. Nor are these beautiful and noble arts, by which the face and the form of the departed are preserved to us, calling into the highest exercise, as they do, all the imitative and idealizing powers of the painter and the sculptor,-the least instructive of our teachers, The portraits and the statues of the honored dead kindle the generous ambition of the youthful aspirant to fame. Themistocles could not sleep for the trophies in the Ceramicus; and when the living Demosthenes had ceased to speak, the stony lips remained to rebuke and exhort his degenerate countrymen. More than a hundred years have elapsed since the great Newton passed away; but from age to age his statue by Roubillac, in the ante-chapel of Trinity College, will give distinctness to the conceptions formed of him by hundreds and thousands of ardent youthful spirits, filled with reverence for that transcendent intellect, which, from the phenomena that fall within our limited vision, deduced the imperial law by which the Sovereign Mind rules the entire universe. We can never look on the person of Washington; but his serene and noble countenance, perpetuated by the pencil and the chisel, is familiar to far greater multitudes than ever stood in his living presence, and will be thus familiar to the latest generation.
6. What parent, as he conducts his son to Mount Auburn or to Bunker Hill, will not, as he passes before their monumental statues, seek to heighten his reverence for virtue, for patriotism, for science, for learning, for devotion to the public good, as he bids him contemplate the form of that grave
and venerable Winthrop, who left his pleasant home in England to come and found a new republic in this untrodden wilderness; of that ardent and intrepid Otis, who first struck out the spark of American independence; of that noble Adams, its most eloquent champion on the floor of Congress; of that martyr, Warren, who laid down his life in its defense; of that self-taught Bowditch, who, without a guide, threaded the starry mazes of the heavens; of that Story, honored at home and abroad as one of the brightest luminaries of the law, and, by a felicity of which I believe there is no other example, admirably portrayed in marble by his son ?
7. What citizen of Boston, as he accompanies the stranger around our streets,-guiding him through our busy thoroughfares, to our wharves crowded with vegsels which range every sea and gather the produce of every climate,-up to the dome of this capitol, which commands as lovely a landscape as can delight the eye or gladden the heart, will not, as he calls his attention at last to the statues of Franklin and Webster, exclaim,“ Boston takes pride in her natural position, she rejoices in her beautiful environs, she is grateful for het material prosperity; but, richer than the merchandise stored in palatial warehouses, greener than the slopes of sea-girt islets, lovelier than this encircling panorama of land and sea, of field and hamlet, of lake and stream, of garden and grove, is the memory of her sons, native and adopted; the character, services, and fame of those who have benefited and adorned their day and generation. Our children and the schools at which they are trained, our citizens and the services they have rendered, -these are our jewels,-these our abiding treasures.”
8. Yes, your long rows of quarried granite may crumble to the dust; the cornfields in yonder villages, ripening to the sickle, may, like the plains of stricken Lombardy, a few weeks ago, be kneaded into bloody clods by the madding wheels of artillery; this populous city, like the old cities o. Etruria and Campagna Romagna, may be desolated by the pestilence which walketh in darkness,—may decay with the lapse of time, and the busy mart, which now rings with the joyous din of trade, become as lonely and still as Carthage or Tyre, as Babylon or Nineveh : but the names of the great and good shall survive the desolation and the ruin ; the memory of the wise, the brave, the patriotic shall never perish.
9. Yes, Sparta is a wheat-field; a Bavarian prince holds court at the foot of the Acropolis; the traveling virtuoso digs for marble in the Roman Forum, and beneath the ruins of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus; but Lycurgus and Leonidas, and Miltiades and Demosthenes, and Cato and Tully “still live”; and HE* still lives, and all the great and good shall live in the heart of ages, while marble and bronze shall endure; and when marble and bronze have perished, they shall “still live” in memory, so long as men shall reverence law, and bonor patriotism, and love liberty !
* Daniel Webster,
XXXIII.-THE VETO POWER.
1. Mr. President, I protest against the right of any chief to come into either House of Congress, and scrutinize the motives of its members; to examine whether a measure has been passed with promptitude or repugnance; and to pronounce upon the willingness or unwillingness with which it has been adopted or rejected. It is an interference in concerns which partake of a domestic nature. The official and constitutional relations between the President and the two Houses of Congress subsist with them as organized bodies. His action is confined to their consummated proceedings, and does not extend to measures in their incipient stages, during their progress through the Houses, nor to the motives by which they are actuated.
2. There are some parts of this message that ought to excite deep alarm; and that especially in which the President announces that each public officer may interpret the constitution as he pleases. His language is, “Each public officer who takes an oath to support the constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others.” “ The opinion of the judges has no more authority over Congress than the opinion of Congress has over the judges; and on that point the President is independent of both.” Now, Mr. President, I conceive, with great deference, that the President has mistaken the purport of the oath to support the constitution of the United States. No one swears to support it as he understands it, but to sup. port it simply as it is in truth. All men are bound to obey the laws, of which the constitution is the supreme; but must they obey them as they are, or as they understand them ?
3. If the obligation of obedience is limited and controllo by the measure of information; in other words, if the party is bound to obey the constitution only as he understands it, what will be the consequence? The judge of an inferior court will disobey the mandate of a superior tribunal, because it is not in conformity to the constitution as he understands it; a custom-house officer will disobey a circular from the treasury department, because contrary to the constitution as he understands it; an American minister will disregard an instruction from the President, communicated from the department of state, because not agreeable to the constitution as he understands it; and a subordinate officer in the army or navy will viclate the orders of his superiors, because they are not in accordance with the constitution as he understands it.
4. We shall have nothing settled, nothing stable, nothing fixed. There will be general disorder and confusion throughout every branch of the administration, from the highest to the lowest officer-universal nullification. For, what is the doctrine of the President but that of South Carolina applied throughout the Union ? The President indepen. dent both of Congress and the Supreme Court ! Only bound to execute the laws of the one and the decisions of the other as far as they conform to the constitution of the United States as he understands it! Then it should be the duty of every President, on his installation into office, carefully to examine all the acts in the statute book, approved by his predecessors, and mark out those which he is resolved not to execute, and to which he means to apply this