Page images
PDF
EPUB

let us look upon those subjects where there is no difference of sentiment. There are two portions of the administration of President Jackson into which he threw all the vigour of his general character, to the honour and good of his country. I refer to his attachment to the union of these states, and the preservation of a lofty dignity in his intercourse with foreign nations. Upon these two points he has left the traces of his footsteps in as indelible impressions as those where geologists discover the marks of living animals even in antediluvian rocks. No future president can disregard these landmarks without losing the respect of the American nation just in proportion as he swerves from the visible line; and I will venture to say, that since the origin of the maxim inculcated by Washington, “In peace, prepare for war,” a maxim too little regarded, there has been no sentiment uttered so congenial to the spirit and temper of our people as that “whilst we should ask nothing but what is right, so we should submit to nothing that is wrong.” It has already passed into a popular saying, and is engraven in letters of fire upon the hearts of the people. Let our rulers take care to ask nothing that is not clearly right; and if they fail in obtaining this, the people, with an unanimous voice, will bear them out when they refuse to submit to what is wrong. Popular governments are essentially pacific, and we may trace the continuance of peace for the last thirty years in Europe, more to the influence which popular rights and principles have acquired, than to any other cause. The age has long since passed away when nations could be plunged into the horrors of war in order that a king might aggrandize his family by placing his grandson on a foreign throne. But just in proportion as a popular government is disinclined to war, is it powerful when its resources are brought out. Let me make a passing remark upon this subject. If it should be our destiny to be again involved in war, as Ť

suppose

it must be sooner or later, let your

confidence be bestowed

upon

those legislators only who will effectually call forth the dormant energies of the nation. Two examples are before us of the dangers which flow from insufficient preparation.

Washington and Jackson had to exert all their mighty powers to avoid being overwhelmed; and if you will not believe these two, you would not believe, though one rose from the dead.

The last few years of the life of Jackson were marked by the only useful example which a man can show forth after the work of life is done. Always intense in his feelings, he threw into his devotional character the same fervour which had marked his chequered career, and awaited his final summons with Christian hope and resignation. As the twilight closed in around him, the evening star of his religious faith shed more and more brilliancy upon the darkening scene, until the Christian patriot sunk to sleep.

[ocr errors]

There is but one more trumpet that can rouse the soldier from his slumber. May we not hope, when we reflect upon his long life spent in the service of his country, that he will appear with his five talents in his hand, saying, “Behold, I have gained other five over and above;" and that the response will be, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

The impression which Andrew Jackson made upon the time in which he lived, is agreed by all to have been deep, and its importance to be great. But how immeasurably is this importance enhanced by the reflection, that numerous and powerful as the American people are, we are still in our infancy. There are those within the sound of my voice whose eyes will witness the close of this century; and in the year 1900, before they taste of death, what will be the spectacle exhibited to their gaze? I know that we are reproached with living always in anticipation, and boasting of the greatness which is yet to come. But if we do allow ourselves to raise the curtain of futurity, and gaze upon the distant prospect, it is only to impress more thoroughly upon our minds the conviction that the destiny of unborn millions depends upon us and our actions. The course of public events in our day, casts its shadow or its brightness down the long vista of time, and every important step of the government will draw after it a long train of consequences which cannot be avoided.

I could have wished to have said something of the effects which the life and character of Jackson are likely to produce upon future generations; but time will not permit. And perhaps, too, the speculation would be ulisuited to the present purpose.

What we de. sire to accomplish by the ceremonies of this day, is that we may all return to our pursuits in life, with our love of country increased, and our admiration of excellence stimulated. We have met under the conviction that our country belongs to us all, as our common property, in the preservation of whose honour every man feels a personal interest. It is said that in the peninsular war, individuals of the hostile armies met, during the interval of a brief truce, upon the banks of a small stream ensanguined by their recent conflict, and exchanged friendly greetings while they sought to slake their thirst. After the celebration of this day shall be over, and we return to the cares and occupations of the busy world, with all its differences of opinion, let us not forget that we are bound up in a common destiny, whether it be for good or for evil; that there is much, very much, in our public concerns, upon which we have only the feeling which belongs to American citizens; and that whenever the occasion shall arise for the children of the family to reassemble around the domestic altar, we shall be found ready, heart and hand, to sustain our country's cause, and to swear upon that altar, “ The Union must and shall be preserved."

a

EULOGY

DELIVERED AT ALBANY, JUNE 30, 1845,

BY

JOHN VAN BUREN,

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

a

FELLOW-CITIZENS :—This country for the last two weeks has presented a picture which every philosopher and patriot should love to contemplate. On Sunday, the 8th of this month, an event occurred in a far distant section of the Union, the announcement of which, as it passed from quarter to quarter, with the celerity of communication now so extraordinary, caused a deep and mournful sensation in the popular heart, the intensity of which was certainly never exceeded in the present century. Courts of justice, legislative and municipal bodies in session, or specially assembled for the occasion, as the tidings came, gave expression to their grief, and immediately adjourned. The chief magistrate of the Union, by public proclamation, directed the business of government to be suspended. City followed city in manifestations of sorrow. The emporium of our state, unequalled in our young republic for its extent, its activity, its enterprise, and its continued strife, bustle, confusion of trade, bowed down in sadness and was hushed in silence. All ordinary avocations were suspended, and tens of thousands of her citizens marched through her majestic streets in a funeral procession unexampled in its numbers and in its solemnity. Public and private buildings were clad in mourning. Eloquent and touching eulogiums were delivered, and everything betokened that deep affliction had befallen that city. The melancholy intelligence reaches the capital of our state. The public authorities of the state and city exhibit the same feelings of distress, and it is accompanied by similar marks of respect and mourning. The military and civic societies—our citizens without distinction of partyall ages, sexes, and conditions, assembled to commemorate the event by appropriate ceremonies. Universal grief is depicted on the

a

[ocr errors]

face of the people of the United States—profound sorrow penetrates the popular heart.

Why are these things so? What event is heralded that causes this wide-spread movement? What mean these funeral ceremonies, that we have just performed? What these trappings of woe, that meet our eyes at every glance? Why is the music that we have just heard, and which is so capable of moving joy and mirth, now so plaintive and so sad? Why am I here, amid many whom I am unaccustomed to meet on public occasions, addressing you in a strain so unusual, if not unnatural? What universal, pervading, crushing affliction has befallen this country ?what calamity has befallen this people? It is, my friends I see, and feel, and know that it is a national mourning for a nation's loss. Andrew Jackson, who has, in an unsurpassed degree, engrossed the public attention for the last thirty years—a soldier, whose brilliant military exploits are the pride and glory, as they were the noble defence, of his country—a statesman, who, through a long, useful, and eventful public life, was fully sustained by a large majority of the American people

and a man who had, above all others, the merit of attaching to him the warmest regard, and, as some think, idolatrous devotion-of an honesty that all must respect, and a simplicity that a child might love,—Andrew Jackson is dead! and a void is left in the public mind and public heart that we, probably, shall never live to see filled. We are only beginning to realize this truth. Startled, stunned, bewildered, by the melancholy intelligence, sufficient time has not elapsed to ascertain the length and breadth of the loss we have sustained; but the public appreciation of it may be gathered from the circumstances to which I have already alluded. A stranger to our institutions, and to the character of Andrew Jackson, in view of a scene such as I have faintly described, on sight of the assemblage here present to-day, would naturally inquire, What high title did the illustrious person hold whom you have assembled to honour? Or, as in your country titles are unknown, what high station did he occupy at the time of his decease? None, sir, none: he was, and had been for eight years, a private citizen. Then, perhaps, he was a neighbour ? No, sir : his residence was distant thousands of miles. But probably he was a frequent visiter at your city, and personally well known to the inhabitants ? No, sir : I believe he never was in Albany; and probably not a tenth of the persons present ever saw him. Was his death sudden? No, sir : every mail for months had been feared as freighted with the tidings of his decease. Then he must have had relations dwelling among you, and a long line of the bereaved and sorrowing swell this crowd, or suggested this demonstration ? Alas! no, sir : he had not a single blood relation in the world. Confounded by the peculiarity of these circumstances, he might then

suggest that some law had been passed, or some proclamation or order issued by some superior power, directing this assemblage and ceremony. Still the answer would be, No, sir, no! this is a spontaneous gathering of the people themselves, to do honour to a private citizen who was a public benefactor! And you,

fellow-citizens, do right thus to honour the illustrious dead. It is peculiarly an American duty. Other countries lavish titles and estates upon successful public men, which are transmitted to their descendants; pensions are liberally bestowed upon them and their families; splendid monuments are erected to their memories. But, with us, the highest title a soldier or statesman can earn, or should wish, is that of being his country's benefactor his richest pension, the people's gratitude-his proudest and most durable monument, to be enshrined in their hearts; and witnessing, as we do daily, when individuals of high standing and character are taken from us by death, how rapidly the progress of our several avocations, or the occurrence of more recent and startling events, crowd him from the public recollection, we can appreciate the wisdom and patriotism of arresting, even for a day, this current which sweeps the things of the present into the oblivion of the past ; of marking the day by memorable observances, and dedicating it to mournful reflection.

By your partiality, fellow-citizens, I have been invited to participate in your proceedings this day. If an elaborate eulogium upon the character and virtues of General Jackson had been expected, I am sure a speaker would have been selected who had cultivated more carefully the grace of oratory. If a minute narration of even the stirring events of his extraordinary career had been desired, I should have been obliged to ask you to excuse me, from want of time for preparation. But such is not my impression of either your feelings or expectations. Andrew Jackson needs no eulogy. The greatness of character necessarily impresses itself upon the age in which it exists. No storied urn, or sculptured shaft, or eloquent recital is necessary to fix in the public mind the memory of virtues strongly marked. So, too, the deeds of a statesman and patriot constitute the history of the country, they are found in elementary books of instruction; they are studied in youth, and reperused in mature age, and form a part of the or formation of our citizens; or, if too recent to be thus written, their boldness and brilliancy arrest and retain the public attention.

Nor is this the time or the occasion for anything like a minute narrative of the military and civil career of Andrew Jackson. It is natural, however, in dwelling upon his memory, to recall his appearance and some of the prominent features of his character; and, in connexion with these, the mind necessarily reverts to a few of the incidents of his life. I do not hope, in doing this, to bring to your attention any novel or unfamiliar facts. It is the

nary in

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »