And thus it is ever with science. It sheds a glory over the neglected and unvalued, and converts the commonest spot into a museum of marvels. How impressively it teaches the connection of all orders of being with each other. Objects the most remote and diverse are brought into beautiful relation. Celestial radiations, the growth of plants, and the thinking of men, are indissolubly connected.

. And as we go on, the veils are progressively lifted; new and delightful surprises await us, and we realize the prophetic vision of a new heavens and a new earth.





On the occasion of the last celebration of the anniversary of American Independence in this city of Boston, New England's favorite orator pronounced the civic oration. Many of you here present listened in person to his glowing and earnest eloquence, and the press, that great servitor of the public, soon brought the printed thoughts to the door of such as were absent.

You will remember how thoroughly the attention of the whole country was arrested, and the comments of the leading journalists showed the current of popular thought to run deep and strong. The orator's theme was the defence of popular government, against, as he expressed it, “misgivings at home and disparagement abroad.”

The immediate occasion was the assertion of Earl Grey, made in a debate in the House of Lords, on the 19th of April, on the question of the extension of the elective franchise in England. The example of the United States was quoted as showing the evils of enlarged suffrage. The British Lord asserted that in the United States, since the Revolutionary period, and by the undue extension of the right of suffrage, “ our elections have become a mockery, our legislators venal, our courts tainted with party spirit, our laws cobwebs, which the rich and poor alike break through, and the country and government, in all its branches, given over to corruption, violence, and a general disregard of public morality.” The answer to this scathing criticism of the English Lord was, not alone a noble defence of the right of free suffrage, but a glowing prophecy of the future greatness of the Republic, and of the entire safety of resting the government in the hands of the governed people.

But, is it not well to consider whether there is no significance in the fact that so eminent an orator and thinker should deem it necessary to go into a defence, before the country, of our free institutions, and whether the very eagerness with which the press and people received and adopted this defence, while it shows a deep rooted attachment to popular government, does not also show a lurking suspicion in the popular mind that we shall repeat the history and experience of the earlier Republics, and that there is well grounded apprehension, (to quote Mr. Everett's inquiry on that occasion,) “ that we have, indeed, reached, that we have passed, the meridian, and have now to look forward to an evening of degeneracy, and the closing in of a rayless and hopeless night of political decline."

With none of the spirit of an alarmist, would I quote Lord Macaulay's opinion of our government, as expressed in a letter written in 1857, in reply to Henry S. Randall, the author of the “ Life of Jeffer


Said the English historian: “I am certain that I never wrote a line, and that I never in Parliament, in conversation, or even on the hustings, uttered a word indicating an opinion, that the supreme authority of a State ought to be intrusted to a majority of citizens, told by the head. I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty or civilization, or both.”

I have not quoted the hostile opinions of these thoughtful men, to weaken your faith in the permanency of our institutions. Loyalty to administrations there may not be in this country; loyalty to the principles underlying our government there is. Indeed, it is deeper than mere opinion ; it is born of the race from which we come, and there is much generic truth in what has been alleged, that all Saxons are Protestants, and all Celts Catholic,- that Celts love unity of power, and Saxons the representative principle. Emerson has said truly, that race in the Negro is of appalling importance. I am aware that it is no unusual thing for Americans, when abroad, to speak slightingly of their country, and some of the representatives of our national government have given little of sympathy or encouragement to the free spirit in Europe. What wonder that the unfriendly echo of their words sometimes reaches us, from those educated under a constitutional monarchy so secure and well-founded as England.

I see before me Educators from all parts of our common country, - men who have given a life-time to the service of the great cause that calls us together here to-day, and at whose feet I feel like sitting, wanting experience, wanting knowledge, wanting everything, save a little of enthusiasm,— and to such men I appeal, to say whether, in their opinion, there is no danger that this grand experiment of Free Government now on trial here, “ for the whole world and for all time,” may prove a failure; and prove so, because of a neglect of those means which past experience, the unanimous testimony of the founders of these free Commonwealths, and their own settled convictions, alike declare to be indispensable in a government founded upon the popular will. With no hope of giving you new thought, and with a consciousness that the subject has been often presented by those able to treat it both wisely and with learning, I ask your attention to some thoughts upon 6 The Necessity of Education in a Free State.Carlyle, in one expressive sentence, thus sums up the highest office and use of human government: “ The great test of government,” said he, “ is to educate men.” And Daniel Webster expressed the same thought as tersely, and with better directness to our times, when he said, “ The merit of the Colonies was, that they produced Washington.”.

Now, the thought here is, not alone that institutions produce men, that out of the exigencies of the times, out of the troubles, prosperities, or decay of Governments, arise the Washingtons or Garibaldis, master spirits, to “ride the whirlwind and direct the storm" of revolution, but that no Government can be

« ForrigeFortsett »