« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
DELIVERED AT RICHMOND, V A., JUNE 28, 1845,
ANDREW STEVENSON, Esq.
To consecrate the memory of illustrious men—to record their actions and celebrate their praise, has been the laudable usage
of all ages, and the grateful duty of every people.
The rudest nations have thus dispensed the rewards and motives of virtue, whilst the arts and sciences of polished society have contributed their noblest efforts to this, their best and highest application.
Exalted virtue and public services emphatically demand the confidence and gratitude of freemen. It is this which not only infuses into free government its public spirit, but cherishes emulation and exalts patriotism. To great abilities, it is an incentive, and brings them into action; to the good and useful, in whatever degree, it intimates and yields encouragement! Hence, that strong desire, which is inseparable from our nature, to live after death; to embody our names in the annals of our country, and descend to posterity with the admiration of the wise and the blessings of the virtuous. And it is this love of fame, when subordinate to the general good of mankind, that is inseparable from those who are truly great! Singularly impressive in this respect were some of the customs of the most highly improved nations of antiquity.
The Egyptians, besides celebrating the names and actions of their great and good men, embalmed their bodies, that they might long be kept before the public view as examples of virtue, and though dead, yet speaking. If there were, then, no other reasons for honouring the dead, these would be more than sufficient.
But there is another obligation of a still higher moment. Great virtues, like great men, are the offspring of great occasions; and the doctrines of our holy religion teach, that eminently great men are qualified for work, by an overruling and wise Providence—and that, in honouring them, we honour Him!
Influenced by these sentiments and those usages, rendered holy by the best feelings of our nature, we have assembled this day to perform one of the highest and most solemn duties which the living owe to the dead! And can there, under Heaven, be a more interesting spectacle, or one more deeply touching to the human heart, than that of a whole nation of freemen rising up as one man, and with one mind, to do honour to the memory of an illustrious and beloved fellow-citizen, by public demonstrations of sorrow and solemn acts of devotion to God? This crowded and solemn assem. bly; these banners which surround this sacred desk ;* the gloom which has overspread our whole country, like a visitation of darkness, and struck a pang into the bosom of every American patriot, proclaim an event-a grief-of no ordinary character. They announce to us, that the aged and venerable patriot of the Hermitage, has at last gone down to the tomb, in the ripeness of age, crowned with the honours and loaded with the benedictions of a beloved country! They announce to us the solemn truth, that America has lost its greatest benefactor and friend; earth one of its noblest spirits; and the world one of its greatest men!
In coming to do honour to such a man; one who, in the language of our own Jefferson, “had filled the measure of his country's glory,” let us show that we know the difference between the ostentatious pomp and mockery of grief, and that ardent and spontaneous affection with which a free and grateful people can cherish and honour the memory of an illustrious patriot: let us come to it with those feelings of gratitude and admiration which belong to the character of American freemen, and which are now poured out in every corner of our land! Let us do it, moreover, uninfluenced by party or political feeling. Whatever the spirit of party may be in the ardour of our political contests, here it should not enter! Although, in life, it spares neither elevation nor humility, but goes forth regardless of everything but its own gratification, high-minded and liberal men will not consent that it shall poison all the charities of social life, much less invade the sanctity of the tomb!
Let us not suffer the week-day paltriness of life to profane the sacredness of this occasion, or chill its solemnities. Let it not be said, that we refused to lay upon the altar of our country, and on the graves of its heroes and patriots, our party bickerings and strifes.
Who is there that will withhold from the patriot the gratitude due from the patriot's heart? What free and proud Virginianwhat generous American is here, who, like the Carthaginian of old, is prepared, not only to bring his enmities and his children to the altar of his country, but to the very graves of its benefactors, and there swear the oath of undying hate? None!—I trust, none! Charity to ourselves, gratitude to the illustrious dead, and love of country—these, these are the feelings which belong to this occasion.
* Mr. S. spoke from the pulpit of the Old Baptist Church.
And you, too, my fair and beloved countrywomen, whose first honour is in the gentleness of your nature, will you not unite your sympathies and tears over the grave of that man, who, above all others, was the most devoted friend and admirer, might I not say romantic, that woman ever had ?
Who so prompt to defend and protect her rights, or guard her from injury and insult?
Who ever cherished or exalted more the purity of the domestic and social virtues, so infinitely more important to human happiness than all others ? Whose valour was it that protected our mothers, and wives, and daughters from the savage tomahawk, and a licentious soldiery, and one of our finest cities, with its “ Beauty and booty,” from ruthless invaders ?
Whose, but Andrew Jackson's ?
And will you not act with the firmness which becomes the wives and daughters of freemen, and by your example invigorate the spirit of patriotism in your countrymen? From the spirit which pervades this assembly, I anticipate your answer.
Come, then, and mingle your sympathies with those of your country, and pour out your tears over the grave of this great and good man.
And here in this temple, dedicated to the living God—here, over the ashes of an illustrious and beloved patriot, I invoke the spirit of peace and patriotism to shed around its holy calm, refreshing alike to the feelings and the intellect.
In consenting to become your organ on this occasion, I am not only sensible of the difficulty and delicacy of the undertaking, but I feel that your too partial choice has devolved on me the performance of a duty, to which powers, much higher than any I possess, would alone be equal.
For, if it be true, that next to the performance of great actions, is the difficulty of representing them, who shall attempt to delineate justly the character of a man that was the type of everything chivalrous in valour, generous in honour, and pure in patriotism, or, in what language, tell the story of that eventful life, whose every action was worthy of praise ?
To confer the just meed of eulogy on a character so remarkable -to entwine the blended glories of the hero and statesman, and with them to mingle the milder radiance of religion and morality, would seem, indeed, to require little less than an inspiration, not only of the feelings and sentiments which pervade the hearts of millions of freemen throughout our whole country, but of those opinions which his great virtues and character have so strongly and deeply impressed upon the world:
Of legislators, in whose labours and honours he was associated by all that was useful and dignified:
Of armies, to whom he was endeared by every obligation of gratitude and glory:
Of a people, by whom he was regarded as their protector and benefactor :
Of ministers of our holy religion, by whom he was beloved and admired :
Of enemies in war, by whom he was alike dreaded and revered :
And of the wise, and just, and generous of all nations, of whom he was an ornament and example.
This is indeed a high duty, and I would to God, it could have passed into other hands, more worthy and competent to do it justice. But you
have determined otherwise, and in yielding to your wishes, as I readily do, I feel that I am but performing a sacred duty; one that I owe to you; to the mrmory of the illustrious man whose death we commemorate, and to myself. And, although I know that private friendships are not fit topics for such occasions, yet it would be difficult, standing in the relations that I did for so many years, to this great man, and bound to him by so many ties, not to be allowed to mix up with higher motives, those of a more humble and individual character. The incense of public praise will not ascend with the less grateful odour, for being mingled with the aspirations of individual gratitude.
The suffrages, perhaps the prejudices of mankind, have concurred, with what propriety, I shall not stop to inquire, in assigning to the profession of arms, the first station in the ranks of glory. On this occasion, the decision can be of no importance. He, whose memory we now honour, was alike pre-eminent in peace and war; in the cabinet and the field; and the olive and the laurel have equally contributed their honours, to form the chaplet of his great renown. It is, therefore, only in the order of his distinguished services, that I shall first ask your attention to his military career, noticing, however, very briefly, before I do so, some circumstances connected with the history of his early life.
The birth, parentage, and early portions of General Jackson's life, belong to history. We are here to commemorate the character of the hero, statesman, and patriot. I shall say nothing, therefore, of his ancestors. Virtue and greatness have no need of birth. Born a simple citizen, of poor, but respectable parents, he became great by no other means than the energy of his own character, and being, as he seems to have been, the favourite of nature and Heaven! Had he been born to wealth and influence, he might probably have lived and died, an obscure and ordinary man!
Severe discipline and poverty, inured him, in early life, to great hardship and industry; and it has been justly said of him, that he seems to have been an orphan from the plough to the presidency. He must, therefore, be regarded as the architect of his own fame and fortunes! Although too young to have taken any distinguished part in lighting up the beacon fires of our glorious Revolution, or unfurling the banner of liberty with our revolutionary heroes and patriots, the close of that memorable struggle found him, though a boy of only fourteen, in arms in the corps of the gallant Davie, and soon afterwards, with a brother, a prisoner in Camden; where he underwent severe hardships and suffering, and was finally, at the intercession of his mother, liberated by an exchange of prisoners.
These early scenes of our Revolution, were not lost upon mind as Jackson's. The bravery and devotion of our fathers; their stern determination to meet coming events, and vigorous preparation to meet them successfully; the great battles which had been fought; the services and sacrifices which had been made; the renowned men of those times, both in the field and the cabinet, and the imperishable glory they achieved—were ever fresh in his recollection, and contributed mainly to form, in after times, the bent and character of his great mind. They made an impression on him, whucn ceased only with his last breath, and were the examples that stimulated his patriotism, and formed his own heroic heart.
He drank, and deeply too, at the pure fountain of the Revolution. From his boyhood, he was distinguished by many of those noble traits of character, which marked his progress through life. There was an openness, a simplicity, a good faith, an affectionate ardour, an elevation of soul, with an invincible physical and moral courage, and boldness, and love of truth, which irresistibly made way to the hearts of all who nearly approached him, and rendered him the object, through life, of a zealous and enthusiastic attachment almost unexampled. These qualities adhered to him throughout his eventful life, and signally marked, as you will see, its close.
It is said, that in his youth, he had no relish for literary and scientific pursuits. This is, no doubt, true.
His education was certainly nothing more than that which was afforded in those days to the children of the poorer classes, and was confined principally to the rudiments of the English, and the lower and practical branches of mathematics. Regular and classical education has been thought, by some distinguished men, to be unfavourable to great vigour and originality of the understanding; and that, like civilization, whilst it made society more interesting and agreeable, yet, at the same time, it levelled the distinctions of nature. That whilst it strengthened and assisted the feeble, it was calculated to deprive the strong of their triumph, and beat down the hopes of the