Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

LESSON LXXVII.

EXORDIUM OF A SPEECH

а

AGAINST the prisoner at the bar, as an individual, I cannot have the slightest prejudice. I fould not do him the smallest injury or injustice. But I do not affect to be indifferent to the discovery and the punishment of this deep guilt. I cheerfully share in the opprobrium, how much soever it may be, which is cast on those who feel and manifest an anxious concern, that all who had a part in planning, or a hand in executing this deed of midnight assassination, may be brought to answer for their enormous crime at the bar of public justice. Gentlemen, it is a most extraordinary case.

In some respects, it has hardly a precedent anywhere; certainly none in our New-England history.

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. Deep sleep had fallen on the destined victim, and on all beneath his roof. A healthful old man, to whom sleep was sweet,

. the firsť sound slumbers of the night held him in their soft but strong embrace. The aasassin 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 hing -s; and he enters, and beholds his viction 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, showel 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! 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 nowhere. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner, where the guilty can bestow it, and say it is safe.

A thousand eyes turn at once to explore every man, everything, and 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 blazę 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.

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 heàrs** its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his courage, it

conquers his prudence. When suspicions from without begin to embarrass him, and the net of circumstance to entangle 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.

LESSON LXXVIII.

EULOGY ON HAMILTON.

He was born to be great. Whoever was second, Hamilton must be first. To his stupendous and versatile mind no investigation was difficult -no subject presented which he did not illuminate. Superiority in some particular, belongs to thousands. Preeminence, in whatever he chose to undertake, was the prerogative of Hamilton. No fixed criterion could be applied to his talents. Often has their display been supposed to have reached the limit of human effort; and the judgment stood firm till set aside by himself. When a cause of new magnitude required new exertions, he rose, he towered, he soared; surpassing himself as he surpassed others. Then was nature tributary to his eloquence! Then was felt his despotism over the heart! Touching, at his pleasure, , every string of pity or terror, of indignation or grief, he melted, he soothed, he roused, he agitated; alternately gentle as the dews, and awful as the thunder. Yet, great as he was in the eyes of the world, he was greater in the

a

eyes

of those with whom he was most conversant. The greatness of most men, like objects seen through a mist, diminishes with the distance: but Hamilton, like a tower seen afar off under a clear sky, rose in grandeur and sublimity with every step of approach. Familiarity with him was the parent of veneration. Over these matchless talents, probity threw her brightest lustre. Frankness, suavity, tenderness, benevolence, breathed through their exercise. And to his family!

- That noble heart beats no more: that eye of fire is dimmed; and sealed are those oracutar lips. Americans, the serenest beam of your glory is extinguished in the tomb!

but he is gone.

LESSON LXXIX.

UNION-LIBERTY.

Hall, our country's natal morn,
Hail, our spreading kindred born,
Hail, thou banner not yet torn,

Waving o'er the free!
While, this day in festal throng,
Millions swell the patriot song,
Shall not we thy notes prolong,

Hallowed Jubilee?

Who would sever freedom's shrine?
Who should draw the invidious line?-.
Though by birth, one spot be mine,

Dear is all the rest:

Dear to me the South's fair land,
Dear, the central Mountain band,
Dear, New-England's rocky strand

Dear the prairied West.

[ocr errors]

By our altars, pure

and

free, By our Law's deep rooted tree, By the past's dread memory,

By our Washington;
By our common parent tongue,
By our hopes, bright, buoyant, young,
By the tie of country strong,

We will still be one.

1

[merged small][ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuă »