Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

country; and surely we all know that the machine of a free constitution is no simple thing, but as intricate and as delicato as it is valuable. We are members in a great and ancient monarchy, and we must preserve religiously the true legal rights of the sovereign, which form the key-stone that bind: together the noble and well-constructed arch of our empire and our constitution. A constitution made up of balanced powers must ever be a critical thing. As such I mean to touch that part of it which comes within

my

reach, I know my inability, and I wish for support from every quarter. In particular, I shall aim at the friendship, and shall cultivate the best correspondence, of the worthy colleague you have given me.

XXXVI. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

[From a speech to his constituents on failing to be re-elected.] 1. When we know that the opinions of even the greatest multitudes are the standard of rectitude, I shall think myself obliged to make those opinions the masters of my conscience. But if it may be doubted whether Omnipotence itself is competent to alter the essential constitution of right and wrong, sure I am that such things as they and I are possessed of no such power. No man carries further than I do the policy of making government pleasing to the people. But the widest range of this politic complaisance is confined within the limits of justice. I would not only consult the interest of the people, but I would cheerfully gratify their humors. We are all a sort of children that must be soothed and managed. I think I am not austere or formal in my nature. I would bear, I would even myself play my part in, any innocent buffooneries to divert them. But I will never act

the tyrant for their amusement. If they will mix malice in their sports, I shall never consent to throw them any living, sentient creature whatsoever,—no; not so much as a kitling: -to torment.

2. "But if I profess all this impolitic stubbornness, I may chance never to be elected into Parliament.” It is certainly not pleasing to be put out of the public service. But I wish to be a member of Parliament to have my share of doing good and resisting evil. It would therefore be absurd to renounce my objects in order to retain my seat. I deceive myself, indeed, most grossly, if I had not much rather pass the remainder of

my

life hidden in the recesses of the deepest obscurity, feeding my mind even with the visions and imaginations of such things, than to be placed on the most splendid throne of the universe, tantalized with a denial of the practice of all which can make the greatest situation any other than the greatest curse.

3. Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude to you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in any measure giving quiet to private property and private conscience; if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects and subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the good-will of his countrymen ;- if I have thug taken my part with the best of men in the best of their actions, I can shut the book; - I might wish to read a page or two more but this is enough for my measure.

I have not lived in vain.

4 And now, Gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride on the nature of the charges that are against me.

I do not here stand before you accused of venality or of neglect of duty. It is not said, that, in the long period of my service, I have, in a single instance, sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition or to my fortune. It is not alleged that, to gratify any anger or revenge, of my own or of my party, I have had a share in wronging or oppressing any description of nien, or any one man in any description. No! the charges against me are all of one kind,- that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far; further than a cautious policy would warrant; and further than the opinions of many would go along with me.— In every accident which may happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in depression, and distress- I will call to mind this accusation, and be comforted

XXXVII. - THE EVE OF ELECTION.

JOHN G. WHITTIER.
1. From gold to gray

Our mild sweet day
Of Indian summer fades too soon ;

But tenderly

Above the sea
Hangs, white and calm, the hunter's moon.

2. In its pale fire

The village spire
Shows like the zodiac's spectral lance;

The painted walls

Whereon it falls,
Transfigured stand in marble trance !

3. O'er fallen leaves

The west wind grieves,
Yet comes a seed time round again ;

And morn shall see

The state sown free
With baleful tares or healthful grain.

4. Along the street

The shadows meet
Of destiny, whose hands conceal

The molds of fate

That shape the state,
And make or mar the common weal.

5. Around I see

The powers that be;
I stand by empire's primal springs :

And princes meet

In every street, And hear the tread of uncrowned kings!

6. Hark! through the crowd

The laugh runs loud, Beneath the sad, rebuking moon.

God save the land

A careless hand May shake or swerve ere morrow's noon.

7. No jest is this ;

One cast amiss
May blast the hope of freedom's year.

O take me where

Are hearts of prayer, And foreheads bowed in reverent fear!

8. Not lightly fall

Beyond recall
The written scrolls a breath can float;

The crowning fact,

The kingliest act,
Of freedom, is the freeman's vote.

9. For pearls that gem

A diadem
The diver in the deep sea dies;

The regal right

We boast to-night
Is ours through costlier sacrifice;

10. The blood of Vane,

His prison pain
Who traced the path the Pilgrim trod,

And hers whose faith

Drew strength from death,
And prayed her Russell up to God!

grow cold:

11. Our hearts

We lightly hold
A right which brave men died to gain –

The stake, the cord,

The ax, the sword,
Grim nurses at its birth of pain.

12. The shadow rend,

And o'er us bend,
O martyrs, with your crowns and palms, -

Breathe through these throngs
Your battle

songs, Your scaffold prayers, and dungeon psalms !

« ForrigeFortsett »