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THE LOSS OF NATIONAL CHARACTER.
1. THE loss of a firm national character, or the degradation of a nation's honor, is the inevitable prelude to her destruction. Behold the once proud fabric of a Roman empire; an empire carrying its arts and arms into every part of the eastern continent; the monarchs of mighty kingdoms dragged at the wheels of her triumphal chariots; her eagle waving over the ruins of desolated countries. Where is her splendor, her wealth, her power, her glory? Extinguished forever.
2. Her moldering temples, the mournful vestiges of her former grandeur, afford a shelter to her solitary monks. Where are her statesmen, her sages, her philosophers, her orators, her generals? Go to their solitary tombs and inquire. She lost her national character, and her destruction followed. The ramparts of her national pride were broken down, and Vandalism desolated her classic fields.
3. Place their example before you. Let the sparks of their veteran wisdom flash across your minds, and the sacred altars of your liberty, crowned with immortal honors, rise before you. Relying on the virtue, the courage, the patriotism, and the strength of our country, we may expect our national character will become more energetic, our citizens more enlightened, and may hail the age as not far distant when will be heard, as the proudest exclamation of man; I am an American!
• In the Roman triumphs, the victorious general, seated in a gilded chariot, drawn by white horses, clad in purple, crowned with laurel, and bearing a scepter, with the eagle, ed the procession; while the conquered monarchs followed, being sometimes chained to the triumphal car. b Eagle; the brazen eagle of the Roman standard. c The Vandals were a fierce and barbarous people, once inhabiting the shores of the Baltic Sea.
OUR OBLIGATIONS AS CITIZENS.
1. LET the sacred obliga ons which have devolved on this generation, and on us, sink deep into our hearts. Those are daily dropping from among us, who established our liberty and our government. The great trust now descends to new hands. Let us apply ourselves to that which is presented to us, as our appropriate object.
2. We can win no laurels in a war for independence. Earlier and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are there places for us by the side of Solon," and Alfred, and other founders of states. Our fathers have filled them. But there remains to us a great duty of defense and preservation; and there is opened to us, also, a noble pursuit, to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us.
3. Our proper business is improvement. Let our age be the age of improvement. In a day of peace, let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered. Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and harmony. In pursuing the great objects, which our condition points out to us, let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feeling, that these thirty states are one country.
4. Let our conceptions be enlarged to the circle of our duties. Let us extend our ideas over the whole of the vast field in which we are called to act. Let our object be, our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. And by the blessing of God, may that country itself become
a Solon; one of the seven wise men of Greece, and the lawgiver of Athens, B. C. 600. b Alfred (ǎl'fred; ) one of the wisest of England's kings, and founder of Oxford univer sity.
a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, of peace, and of liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration, forever!
THE JUST JUDGE.
1. A GENTLEMAN, who possessed an estate worth about five hundred a year, in the eastern part of England, had also two sons. The eldest, being of a rambling disposition, went abroad. After several years, his father died; when the younger son, destroying his will, seized upon the estate. He gave out that his elder brother was dead, and bribed false witnesses to attest the truth of it.
2. In the course of time the elder brother returned; but came home in miserable circumstances. His younger brother repulsed him with scorn, and told him that he was an imposter and a cheat. He asserted that his real brother was dead long ago, and he could bring witnesses to prove it. The poor fellow, having neither money nor friends, was in a most dismal situation. He went round the parish making complaints, and at last to a lawyer, who, when he had heard the poor man's story, replied, "You have nothing to give me. If I undertake your cause and lose it, it will bring me into disgrace, as all the wealth and evidence are on your brother's side.
3. "But, however, I will undertake your cause on this condition: you shall enter into an obligation to pay me one thousand guineas, if I gain the estate for you. If I lose it, I know the consequences; and I venture with my eyes open." Accordingly, he entered an action against the younger brother, which was to be tried at the next general assizes" at Chelmsford, in Essex.
4. The lawyer having engaged in the cause of the young
• As-sizes; a court in England.
man, and stimulated by the prospect of a thousand guineas, set his wits to work to contrive the best methods to gain his end. At last he hit upon this happy thought, that he would consult the first judge of his age, Lord Chief Justice Hale." Accordingly, he hastened up to London, and laid open the cause and all its circumstances. The judge, who was a great lover of justice, heard the case attentively, and promised him all the assistance in his power.
5. The lawyer having taken leave, the judge contrived matters so as to finish all his business at the King's Bench," before the assizes began at Chelmsford. When within a short distance of the place, he dismissed his man and horses, and sought out for a single house. He found one occupied by a miller. After some conversation, and making himself quite agreeable, he proposed to the miller to change clothes with him. As the judge had a very good suit on, the man had no reason to object.
6. Accordingly the judge shifted himself from top to toe, and put on a complete suit of the miller's best. Armed with a miller's hat, and shoes, and stick, away he marches to Chelmsford, and procured good lodging, suitable for the assizes that should come on next day. When the trials came on, he walked, like an ignorant country-fellow, backward and forward along the county hall. He had a thousand eyes within him, and when the court began to fill, he found out the poor fellow who was the plaintiff.
7. As soon as he came into the hall, the miller drew up to him. "Honest friend," said he, "how is your cause like to go, to-day?" "Why," replied the plaintiff, "my cause is in a very precarious situation, and if I lose it, I am ruined for life." "Well, honest friend," replied the miller, "if you will take my advice, I will let you into a secret, which, perhaps, you do not know; every Englishman has the right and privilege to except against any one juryman through the whole twelve; now do you insist upon your privilege,
a Sir Matthew Hale. See p. 139. b The English court of judicature, in which the lord chief justice presides as the king's deputy.
without giving a reason why, and, if possible, get me chosen in his room, and I will do you all the service in my power."
8. Accordingly, when the clerk had called over the names of the jurymen, the plaintiff excepted to one of them. The judge on the bench was highly offended with this liberty. 'What do you mean," said he, "by excepting against that gentleman?" "I mean, my lord, to assert my privilege as an Englishman, without giving a reason why."
9. The judge, who had been highly bribed, in order t conceal it by a show of candor, and having a confidence in the superiority of his party, said, "Well, sır, as you claim your privilege in one instance, I will grant it. Whom would you wish to have in the room of that man excepted?" After a short time taken in consideration, "My lord," says he, "I wish to have an honest man chosen ;"—and, looking round the court, (6 My lord, there is that miller in the court, we will have him, if you please." Accordingly the miller was chosen.
10. As soon as the clerk of the court had given them all their oaths, a little dexterous fellow came into the apartment, and slipped ten guineas into the hands of eleven jurymen, and gave the miller but five. He observed that they were all bribed, as well as himself, and said to his next neighbor, in a soft whisper, "How much have you got?” "Ten pieces," said he. But he had concealed what he had got himself. The cause was opened by the plaintiff's counsel, and all the scraps of evidence they could pick up were adduced in his favor.
11. The younger brother was provided with a great number of witnesses and pleaders, all plentifully bribed, as well as the judge. The evidence deposed that they were in the self-same country when the brother died, and saw him buried. The counsellors pleaded upon this accumulated evidence; and everything went with a full tide in favor of the younger brother. The judge summed up the evidence with great gravity and deliberation. "And now, gentlemen of the jury," said he, "lay your heads together, and bring in your verdict as you shall deem most just."