CELEBRATION IN BALTIMORE
TRIUMPH OF LIBERTY IN FRANCE
DELIVERED ON THAT OCCASION,
ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1830.
Published by order of the Committee of Arrangements.
BALTIMORE: JOHN D. TOY, PRINTER, Corner of Market and St. Paul streets. 1830.
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND, TO WIT:
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the thirtieth day of October, in the fifty-fifth year of the Independence of the United States of America, John D. Toy, of the said District, hath deposited in this office, the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit:
"Celebration in Baltimore of the Triumph of Liberty in France: with the Address delivered on that occasion, by Wm. Wirt, on Monday, October 25, 1830. Published by order of the Committee of Arrangements."
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;" and also to the act, entitled "An Act supplementary to the act, entitled 'An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned:' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."
PHILIP MOORE, Clerk of the District of Maryland.
THE PEOPLE OF BALTIMORE,
RECENT TRIUMPH OF LIBERTY
MAYOR'S OFFICE, Baltimore, Oct. 5, 1830.
At the request of a number of Citizens, I am induced to invite my Fellow Citizens to assemble in their respective WARDS, at the places where elections are usually held, on THURSDAY EVENING NEXT, at 8 o'clock, in order to appoint two persons from each ward to meet in General Committee on Friday evening following at the City Hall, at 7 o'clock, in order to adopt measures to celebrate the triumph of Liberty in France.
JACOB SMALL, Mayor.
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At a meeting of the delegates from the several wards, held at the City Hall on Tuesday the 12th inst. for the purpose of considering the propriety of celebrating in this City, the recent triumph of Liberty achieved by the people of France, Col. SAMUEL MOORE was called to the chair, and Col. JOHN THOMAS and JAMES L. RIDGELY, appointed secretaries.
It was resolved, that a procession of the citizens commemorative of that event, be recommended on the 19th inst.
That the Major General of the third division, be requested to order under arms the uniform Corps of his command, on the morning of the 19th inst., and that the day be ushered in by a National Salute.
That the several trades and professions be invited to attend, with appropriate banners and badges.
That the natives of France in the City of Baltimore be invited to unite in the celebration of the day.
That the citizens, not included in the above resolutions, be requested to assemble in Monument Square, on Tuesday the 19th inst.
That WILLIAM WIRT, Esq. be requested to deliver an oration suited to the occasion.
That Gen. SAMUEL SMITH, be requested to prepare and submit an Address expressive of the feelings of the citizens of Baltimore, on the recent triumph of Liberty in France.
That Col. JOHN THOMAS be appointed Marshal-in-chief for the day, and have power to select all necessary sub-marshals and assistants.
That the Marshal-in-chief, cause suitable arrangements to be made at Monument Square, for the accommodation of the Executive of Maryland, the natives of France in this City on that day, the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Rev. Clergy, Soldiers of the Revolution, Officers of the Army and Navy, Judges of the several Courts, and members of the General Committee.
That the ceremonies of the day be announced by three pieces of Artillery in quick succession, and a National air from the Band.
That the keepers of the public places be requested to display their Colours, together with the Tri-coloured flag of France during the day.
That the members of the several trades and professions, be requested to hold meetings, prior to the 19th, with a view of making their necessary arrangements.
That the citizens of Baltimore be requested to suspend all kind of business on the day of celebration.
Resolved, That the Marshal take such order in making his arrangements as to enable the Orator to commence at 12 o'clock precisely.
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the Chairman and Secretaries, and published in the several papers of the City.
SAMUEL MOORE, Chairman.
JOHN THOMAS, } Secretaries. JAMES L. RIDGELY, }
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HEAD QUARTERS, THIRD DIVISION, October 14, 1830.
The Major General of the Third Division accedes to the request of the delegates of the City. He therefore orders, that the uniformed troops of all arms attached to his command assemble on parade, at 9 o'clock A. M. on the 19th inst. to celebrate the recent triumph of liberty in France. The day to be ushered in by a national salute.
General Steuart of the Light Brigade, will assume the command; and is charged with the execution of this order.
By order of Major General Smith,
JOHN THOMAS, Inspector of Division.
ORDER OF THE MARSHAL-IN-CHIEF.
The following Order of Procession will be observed on the 19th October, 1830, in Commemoration of the Triumph of Liberty in France:
The Uniform Corps of the Third Division.
1. Band of Music. 2. Printers. 3. Agricultural Society. 4. Farmers and Planters. 5. Gardeners. 6. Plough Makers and makers of other Agricultural Implements. 7. Millers and Inspectors of Flour. 8. Bakers. 9. Victuallers. 10. Tailors. 11. Blacksmiths and Whitesmiths. 12. Millwrights, Rollers of Iron and Copper, and Steam Engine Makers. 13. Weavers, Bleachers and Dyers, and Manufacturers of Cotton and Wool. 14. Carpenters and Joiners, Lumber Merchants and Plane Makers. 15. Stone Cutters. 16. Masons and Bricklayers. 17. Painters and Glaziers. 18. Plasterers. 19. Cabinet Makers. 20. Upholsterers. 21. Fancy and Windsor Chair Makers. 22. Ornamental Chair Painters. 23. Tanners, Curriers and Morocco Dressers. 24. Cordwainers. 25. Hatters. 26. Turners and Machine Makers. 27. Coopers. 28. Brush and Bell Makers. 29. Coach Makers. 30. Whip Makers. 31. Cedar Coopers. 32. Brass Founders, Coppersmiths and Tin Plate Workers. 33. Comb Makers. 34. Tobacconists. 35. Potters. 36. Sugar Refiners. 37. Watch Makers, Jewellers and Silversmiths. 38. Engravers. 39. Glass Cutters. 40. Ship Carpenters, Ship Joiners, Block and Pump Makers. 41. Boat Builders. 42. Rope Makers. 43. Riggers. 44. Sail Makers. 45. Pilots. 46. Ship Captains and Mates. 47. Seamen. 48. Draymen and Cartmen. Music. Juvenile Associations.
The respective trades and professions comprising the Second Division, will assemble with their Banners and Personal Decorations, at such place or places as they may deem convenient. Each trade and profession will appoint a Marshal on foot, who will be distinguished by a blue sash, and who will conduct their respective associations to Baltimore street, where they will be received by the Marshals appointed for that purpose, and posted at their stations in line.
Comprising the following bodies, will assemble at the Exchange.
The Governor and Executive Council of the State, in an open Carriage. Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, Esq. in an open Carriage, supported by James H. McCulloch and Monsieur de Bois Martin. Genl. Sam'l Smith and the Orator of the day, Wm. Wirt, Esq. in an open Carriage. The Natives of France in the city. The Mayor and City Council and officers of the Corporation. Foreign Ministers and Consuls. Senators and Members of Congress. Senators and Members of the State Legislature. The officers of the Army and Navy. The Clergy of all denominations. The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. The Trustees and Faculty of the University of Maryland. The Collector and officers of the Customs. The Marshal of the United States, and High Sheriff of Baltimore County and their officers. The Chancellor and Judges of the Court of Appeals. Judges and members of the Bar and officers. Justices of the Peace. Public Teachers. Students of Divinity, Law, and Physic. Merchants and Traders. Clerks and Accountants. Citizens, Mechanics, and Artizans not included in the above arrangement. Mr. Blanchard's Equestrian Corps. Capt. Bouldin's troop of horse.
The line of Procession will be formed in Baltimore street at 9 o'clock A. M., the right of the line resting on Bond street.
The several bodies composing the procession will assemble at their respective places of meeting at 8 o'clock, A. M. precisely, three guns will be the signal for the different associations to commence their march to Baltimore street, under the direction of their own officers. On reaching Baltimore street, they will be conducted by the Marshals, appointed for the purpose, to their respective places in line.
The procession will take up the line of March at 10 o'clock, A. M. precisely. Any association not in line, when the procession shall have taken up the line of march, will fall in the rear.
JOHN THOMAS, Marshal-in-Chief.
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AFTER ORDER OF THE MARSHAL-IN-CHIEF.
Mr. Blanchard having accepted the invitation of the Marshal, his Corps of Equestrians will be attached to the Third Division.
The procession will move up Baltimore to Eutaw street, up Eutaw to Fayette street, down Fayette to Howard street, up Howard to Franklin street, from Franklin to Hamilton street, down Hamilton to Calvert street, on Calvert street to Monument Square; when the ceremonies of the day will be performed in the following order.
Three pieces of Artillery, fired in quick succession, will be the signal for the commencement of the ceremonies of the day.
A National Air will then be played by the Band.
Mr. Wirt will then deliver an Oration.
After which General Smith will submit an Address expressive of the feelings of the Citizens of Baltimore, on the recent Triumph of Liberty in France.
The Marseilles Hymn will then be performed by the Band.
On the conclusion of the ceremonies, the Procession will be dismissed, and the several associations will leave the ground under charge of their respective marshals.
All those who shall unite in this procession are requested to wear a tri-coloured cockade and an appropriate badge.
The following gentlemen are appointed Aids and Marshals.
CAPT. WILLIAM G. COOK, } Aids to the Marshal-in-Chief. ALCAEUS B. WOLFE, }
JAMES L. RIDGELY, EDWARD SPEDDEN, JESSE HUNT, GEN. BENJAMIN EDES, JAMES BIAYS, JR., MCCLINTOCK YOUNG, JONATHAN FITCH, GEORGE DOBBIN, W. P. MILLS, HENRY GREEN, CAPT. HENRY MYERS, R. D. MILLHOLLAND.
Captains Kelly, Myers, and Cook, assisted by William F. Small and Alcaeus B. Wolfe, Esqrs. are charged with the arrangements at the Monument Square.
JOHN THOMAS, Marshal-in-Chief.
When the Procession arrived at Monument Square, Col. S. MOORE, as Chairman of the Committee of Arrangement, announced that General SAMUEL SMITH, was appointed to act as Chairman and JOHN S. SKINNER, Esq. as Secretary to the meeting, with instructions to sign the Address on behalf of the Citizens of Baltimore, and forward the same to General LAFAYETTE, to be disposed of in such manner as he may see most proper.
MR. WIRT'S ADDRESS.
We have met, fellow citizens, to give public expression to the feelings which animate every bosom in our society, and to unite our congratulations on the triumph of liberty in France. On this subject, there is but one heart, one voice among us, and that a heart and voice of universal joy.
Had this great event occurred even in a land of strangers, unendeared to us by any previous act of kindness, and having no other claim upon our sympathies than that they belonged to the same family of human beings with ourselves, it would still have been cause of private joy to each individual among us; for it would have borne evidence of the progress of liberty in the world. But it is not in a land of strangers, it is not in a country unendeared to us by previous acts of kindness that it has occurred. It is in France, our ancient friend and ally: in France, who stood by us in the darkest days of our own revolution; in France, by the powerful aid of whose fleets and armies, the last ensign of British authority was struck in our land, and we took our undisputed place among the nations of the earth. Yes, it is in France, the land of our benefactors and friends, that this spectacle has been exhibited. And such a spectacle! unparalleled in the history of the world! A nation of more than thirty millions of people emancipated by the efforts of a single city in three days! Not by a great body of lords and barons, cased in armour of iron, and with well appointed hosts of vassals at their backs: but by the common body of the citizens of Paris; the labouring classes—mechanics—manufacturers—merchants—boys from the Polytechnic school; rushing naked and unarmed, upon the armed bands of the king; without a leader to direct their movements, and yet moving with a judgment, a concert, an energy that would have done honor to the ablest general; and, at the same time, with a moderation, a humanity, an integrity, a respect for private property and private feelings that would have graced the noblest school of philosophers in ancient times, or of christians in modern; finishing the whole stupendous operation in three days, and then returning, quietly and peaceably to their respective occupations, and committing the details of their political arrangements to their more experienced friends!
In the stern decision, in the rapid and resistless execution, in the thorough accomplishment of the purpose, and in the sudden and perfect calm that succeeded, tyrants may read a lesson that may well make them tremble on their thrones; for they see that it is only for the people to resolve, and it is done.
Had this story been told to us by some writer of romance, as the product of his own imagination, there is not a man among us who would not have condemned it as unnatural, improbable, a mere extravagance entirely out of keeping with the human character. And yet the thing has actually taken place; the work has been done, and well and nobly done.
The French have sometimes been spoken of as a light people, without depth or stability of character. Let those who thus describe them, open the annals of England (the Rome of modern times) and shew us there, a movement, from the period of their invasion by Julius Caesar to the present day, that can match this magnificent movement of the common people of Paris. No. In the enlightened motive, in the station of the actors, in the character of the action itself, and in its beautiful consummation, there is nothing in the archives of history, ancient or modern, nor even in the volumes of the boldest and wildest imagination, that will bear a comparison. It was for liberty they struck, and the blow was the bolt of heaven. The throne of the tyrant fell before it. The work was done: and all was peace. Well may we be proud to claim such a people as our friends and allies, and to unite in this public demonstration of joy at their triumph.
To give us a still deeper interest in the transaction, whom do we see mingling brilliantly in the conflict, partaking of the triumph, and benevolently tempering and guiding its results? Lafayette, our own Lafayette, the brave, the good, the friend of man. Well may we call him our own: for he gave to us the flower of his youth! freely sacrificed the splendors of a court, all the pleasures and enjoyments natural to his age, nay his fortune and his blood, on the altar of our liberty. With the weight of more than seventy winters upon his head, broken with the struggles of a long life devoted to the cause of liberty, in America and in France—a cause which he has never ceased to cherish in the midst of the most depressing circumstances, even in the dungeon's gloom—we see him now throwing off at once the weight of years, recovering, as if by magic, all the animation of his youth, with all its generosity and humanity; building up the liberties of his country with one hand, and with the other, protecting and alleviating the misfortunes of the fallen dynasty, and its misguided adherents. This is, indeed, to ride like an angel in the whirlwind and direct the storm: like an angel whose mercy is equal to his power. Yes—if any thing could swell still louder the note of our exultation at this great achievement, it is the part which Lafayette, the noble pupil of our Washington, has borne and is still bearing in it. He seems to have been preserved by heaven, amid the countless perils through which he has passed, that he might witness the final triumph of liberty in his native land. The great object of his life, that alone for which he seemed to wish to live, is accomplished; and he wears, at this moment, a brighter crown than ever graced the brow of a Bourbon; for it is formed of the best affections, the love and gratitude of an admiring world.
Here let us pause, and endeavor to recover from the amazement with which such an event is calculated to overwhelm the mind, that we may contemplate it more calmly.
On the first arrival of the intelligence, we involuntarily asked ourselves, "Can this be a reality?" And when we could no longer doubt the evidence of the fact, the next anxious inquiry which pressed itself upon us, was "Will it stand, or are we again to be disappointed as we were by the revolution of 1789?"
This is not a question of mere idle and speculative curiosity with regard to which we are indifferent about the result. It is one in which our feelings are keenly interested; and more—it is one of deep and awful import to the liberties of the world. For if France is again to revolve through years and through seas of blood and crime, and to terminate, at last, at the point from which she set out—a despotism—despair will fill the European world, and the people will be disposed rather to bear the ills they have, than to encounter the unavailing horrors of the double precedent which France will have set. Let us look, therefore, calmly, for a few moments, at the very interesting question of the probable stability and success of this revolution.
Those of us who remember the revolution of 1789, are forcibly reminded of it by the late event, and from the catastrophe of the former struggle, are apt to draw a mournful presage of the present. It is not for human penetration to foretell, with certainty, the ultimate issue of such a movement. In a case so dependent on the capricious passions of man, there are too many contingencies that may arise to darken the fairest prospect and disappoint our hopes. But there seem to be fundamental points of difference between the two cases which forbid us to reason from the one to the other, and justify, now, the hope of a happy result. Let us attend for a moment to these points of difference.
In the first place, the state of political information in France, and in Europe at large, is widely different now from that which existed in 1789. France was not prepared for that revolution: nor were the people of Europe prepared to understand it, to second it, and to turn it to the best account. This is a grand and over-ruling distinction between the cases.
With regard to France, her people had been buried, for ages, in the night of despotism, and had no idea of the meaning of political liberty. I speak of the great body of the people. On the upper classes, it is true, that day had recently broken from the writings of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau and Raynal. But thick darkness still rested upon the lower classes. Their faculties were benumbed by its influence, and their spirits enslaved and debased by the habit of subjection. The condition of things which they saw around them, and which had been immemorially transmitted from father to son, seemed to them to be the natural condition, and they considered themselves born for the use of their prince and his nobles.
Such, too, was the general state of things in Europe. As to political rights, the body of the people were all in Egyptian darkness. The yoke had been fixed and locked upon them in far distant ages, of which they had no knowledge; they had borne it, time out of mind, and their necks had became so callous and accustomed to its pressure, that it never entered into their imaginations to question the right.
In this state of habitual subjection and inveterate ignorance, the sun of liberty suddenly arose upon France, in full glory; when, "blind with excess of light," and maddened by the too rapid circulation of the blood which had so long stagnated in their veins, they passed in a few years, from the extreme of despotism to the extreme of anarchy, and deeds of horror were perpetrated which humanity shudders to recall. They frightened the rest of Europe by their example, instead of alluring them to an imitation of it.
But widely different is the state of information at this day. That revolution itself, dreadful as it was, has awakened the whole continent from the sleep of ages, and put them upon inquiry into the foundations of government, and the purposes for which it was ordained: and during nearly half a century which has since elapsed, a degree of light has been thrown upon the great subject of the rights of man which has found its way into every hamlet and every cottage of southern Europe, and is advancing to the north with such increasing lustre as will ere long scatter the gloom that yet hangs over Siberia and Kamschatka. Hence the people of France, certainly, and perhaps of the whole south of Europe, are now prepared for the temperate enjoyment of liberty, under the administration of a regular government, for which they were totally unfitted in 1789.
There is another striking difference between the cases, and a most important one it is, as it affects the question before us.
France has now the benefit of her own past experience before her eyes: she had no such lamp to light her steps in 1789. Yes; that dreadful lesson is fresh in her recollection. She has had full time to study it: to discover every false step that was then taken, and to observe the causes which led to the miscarriage of that revolution. And to satisfy us that she has profited by this study, a comparison of her very different conduct on those two occasions will suffice.
The former revolution was one long-protracted tragedy of horrors to which there seemed to be no end, and of which the most sagacious men among us could not guess the denouement, except that from its very protraction and violence it would probably end in a despotism. At the close of every scene of horror, we kept saying to ourselves, "surely it will close now, and France will at length have rest and peace." But we were doomed to be disappointed, time after time. One explosion followed another until the heart sickened "with hope deferred," and we turned away our eyes at last in despair from the appalling spectacle.
It was this slow, vacillating, indecisive course of the former revolution which generated all the causes that conspired to defeat it. The Bastile was stormed in 1789. It was not until the latter part of 1792 that the unfortunate monarch was deposed. During these three years, though strokes of great boldness were struck, one after another, yet none of them were of a decisive character: none of them indicated a fixed point at which the revolution was to stop: while they were all of a character to alarm, to exasperate and to raise up powerful enemies to the revolution both at home and abroad.
Thus, in 1789 privileges and distinctions of orders were abolished, and the hitherto sacred revenues of the church suffered a deep encroachment.
In 1790 titles of nobility, with all their insignia of emblasoned arms and feudal power, were annihilated, and the estates attached to them were seized for the public use. These measures drove from France a numerous and powerful body of emigrants, inflamed with resentment and despair, who preached up, at every court in Europe, the cause of kings, which they represented, with reason, to be menaced with general destruction; and they left in France an equally numerous and powerful body of malcontents, whose cabals kept every part of the kingdom in a state of constant ferment and insurrection. The people, released at once from the restraints of the clergy and of their feudal lords, and suddenly become their own masters, without the discretion necessary for their guidance, became licentious and turbulent, and the whole kingdom presented a scene of riot and disorder which there were no laws to repress. And now was hatched that political hydra, the Jacobin faction, which no Frenchman will ever be able to remember without an involuntary shudder.
In 1791 the affrighted king made an unsuccessful attempt to escape with his family. They were arrested near the confines of the kingdom and brought back to Paris under the most humiliating circumstances; but still he was acknowledged to be the king of France, and a constituent part of the existing government. A new constitution was then framed, to which he was required to take an oath of obedience, and he took it per force. The leading patriots, who had nothing more in view than the enjoyment of rational liberty under a regular government, attempted to stop the revolution at the point of a limited monarchy. Mirabeau, that prodigy of genius and vice, was believed to have been of this number. The virtuous Lafayette certainly was, and so was a host of others of the brightest names in France. But the ball had rolled beyond their reach, and had acquired a momentum which they could no longer control. A set of unprincipled men, engendered by the slow progress of the revolution, had, by their flatteries and appeals to the worst passions of the populace, worked themselves up to the head of affairs and drove on the revolution before the storm, without any fixed object on their own part.
These infamous men infused suspicions into the minds of the people against their best friends, and even Lafayette had to defend himself against their accusations.
In 1792 the king was tried, condemned and deposed, and a republic was established; but it was a republic of bedlamites. The revolution now assumed a most dreadful form. France, delivered up, at once, to the fury of a foreign and a civil war, and at the same time rent asunder by the most frightful anarchy, exhibited a picture which the heart quails to contemplate even at this distance of time. All was chaos and confusion, and Lafayette perceiving that the great object for which he had contended was lost, retired from the kingdom, and was doomed to mourn, for years, in an Austrian dungeon, the disappointment of his patriot hopes.
In 1793 the amiable and unfortunate king was torn from his family, and bade adieu, on the scaffold, to all the troubles of life; and thenceforth the guillotine streamed with the blood of the best patriots of France. No confidence existed any where. Every one was distrusted. Generals, whose victories had shed the highest glory upon their country, were called from the head of their armies to perish in disgrace. Denunciation and massacre were the order of the day. Suspicion became full proof, and every accusation was fatal. To consummate the horror of the scene, the christian religion was formally abolished, and a sort of heathen worship was substituted in its place. The republic was dissolved, the government was declared to be revolutionary, and a dictatorship was established, compared with which those of Marius and Sylla formed a golden age. Terror, death, and rapine walked abroad in triumph, and the diabolical spirits which had set the mischief afoot, hovered over the bloody spectacle and mocked at the misery which they had created.
In 1794 the ruffians, Danton and Robespierre, fell in succession, and expiated their crimes (if indeed such crimes be expiable at all) on that guillotine which they had so often deluged with the blood of innocence, even of female innocence and beauty. But the reign of terror still held on its course. The government was continually shifting its form. In truth, there was virtually no government at all. It was one continued scene of anarchy and confusion. Those terrible factions, the Jacobin, the Gironde, the Mountain, in their struggles for power, and their alternate ascendancy, continued to exhibit France as one great slaughter-house of human victims, without regard to guilt or innocence, sex or age. The whole nation seemed to have been metamorphosed into a nation of demons, wild and frightful, and drunk with human blood, with which they seemed incapable of being satiated.
And yet, strange as it may seem, and strange as it does now seem even to ourselves, there was a splendour, a magnificence about that revolution that riveted our admiration and sympathy with a force that could not be at once detached by all the horrors that accompanied it.
In the first burst of the revolution, nothing was seen by us but a brave and generous effort by the people for the recovery of their long lost rights and liberties. The spectacle of such a people, a people so endeared to us by recent services, rising, in such a cause, against the whole wealth and power of the court and the vast body of the nobles, temporal and spiritual, who had so long lorded it over France, was well calculated to enlist our strongest sympathies.—The first movements of the national convention, too, were marked with an energy, a grandeur, a magnanimity, and a power of eloquence such as the world had never witnessed, and such as no human heart could withstand.—And, then, when the combined armies moved upon France, the heroism with which they were met by the armies of the republic—chaunting, as they marched up in order of battle, the sublime strains of their national hymn—and the stupendous power with which they were beaten off, and their armies crushed and annihilated one after another—threw such a blaze of glory around the revolution as made us blind to all its excesses. Those excesses, too, came to us, veiled and softened by the distance, and by the medium through which they passed: and, however much to be deplored, we were ready, with the French patriots, to consider them as the unavoidable consequences of such a struggle, and to charge all the blood that was spilt in France, to the tyrants, abroad and at home, who chose to resist, to death, the rightful demands of the people.
Those "wonderful people," too, (as they were characterised by Gen. Washington in '96,) in the midst of the terrific scenes which they were daily enacting, contrived to throw a grace and a beauty around their public acts, and to gild even their wildest projects with a moral sublimity that effectually concealed, at the time, all their folly and injustice, and gave them a rapturous reception throughout the United States. Thus, when, in the rage of reformation which seemed determined to leave nothing of the old order of things remaining, they resolved to abolish the calendar, and, in lieu of the barbarous names by which the months had been distinguished, to introduce a new nomenclature, founded on the exhibitions of nature, in the different seasons: there was a poetic beauty in the conception and a felicity of taste in the execution of which no other nation on earth seemed capable. Their months of buds, flowers and meadows, of harvest, heat and fruit, of vintage, fog and sleet, of snow, rain and wind, were so beautiful and so expressive, that they extorted the admiration even of the reluctant world. Even the wild project of propagating liberty by the sword, and folding the whole human family in their fraternal embrace, was so bold and generous and grand, that, in the contemplation of its magnificence, we forgot its folly. And when, in execution of this project, the young hero of the republic crossed the Alps, and by a series of victories that eclipsed the brightest boasts of ancient history, brought Italy, Austria and Prussia to his feet, it seemed as if heaven itself had set its seal to the high resolve.
Those days come fresh upon our recollection in consequence of the recent movement in France. There are not many of us now alive who were old enough then to understand and recollect them. The first shock of the revolution, the storming of the bastile, struck this whole continent, from one end to the other, like an electric flash, and I believe that there was not a man in the United States whose first impulse it was not to rush to the side of the gallant people of France, and to triumph or die in their cause. Had it not been for the barrier of the ocean, there were hundreds and thousands of our countrymen who would have obeyed the impulse. Even with that impediment in our way, it was with extreme difficulty that the illustrious man then at the head of our affairs, the Father of his country, could restrain us from plunging into the conflict. No other man, and no other thousand men in the United States could have done it. And even when done by him, the idol of our love and the pride of our nation, and of mankind, we complained, in no very measured terms, of a restraint which probably saved us from ruin. In truth, our hearts were too deeply engaged to give fair play to our heads. Many of us were very young, and all of us under a paroxysm of excitement which scarcely left us morally responsible for our conduct. So all-absorbing was the passion, that our own affairs had no longer any flavor for us. We gave to France all that we were permitted to give, our hearts, our prayers, and all the sympathies of our nature. Our eyes, our ears were turned, incessantly, towards her coast, to catch the earliest tidings of her progress, and every new sail from abroad that hove in sight, set our bosoms into the wildest commotion. We identified ourselves with her as far as possible. We assumed her badges, adopted her language of salutation and intercourse, and all her votive cries of joy and triumph. The names of her patriots, orators, and generals, "familiar in our mouths as household words, were, in our flowing cups, most devoutly remembered!" We recited with rapture those noble bursts of indignant or pathetic eloquence which were continually breaking from her tribune. Every shout of victory from her shores was echoed back from ours. Every house and every cottage, our mountains and valleys, rung with her national airs, and often did we see groups of the old and the young, the rich and the poor, fathers and sons, virgins and matrons, swelling the heroic chorus of the Marseilles hymn, with the tears and the fire of enthusiasm in their eyes. Those days are gone; but there is still a mournful pleasure in their remembrance. They recall to us many of those who were wont to join with us in those celebrations, but who can join with us no more. They recall those visions of glory which then surrounded France, but which were, afterwards, so mournfully overcast. They attest the universality, the sincerity, the depth of the interest which we have ever taken in the cause of her liberty. Long, very long, was it before that enthusiasm subsided. Never did it subside, while there was a remaining hope that France might still be free. But the combined powers, though beaten in every field, were still able to protract the war, until all the bloom and beauty of the revolution were gone, and, what was worse, until its very object was lost sight of and exchanged for a deadly thirst of vengeance, and a proud passion for the glory of the arms of France. It was this moral transition in the sentiments of the people, which ultimately defeated the great purpose of the revolution. For it conducted Napoleon to an imperial throne; and his ambition, grown frantic with success, urged him to those rash measures which resulted in the restoration of the Bourbons, and thus brought back the revolution to the point from which it had started.
This sketch, imperfect as it necessarily is, will enable us to institute a comparison between the former revolution and the present. And we cannot but see that it was the slow, lingering, fluctuating course of the former revolution, and the repeated intervals in which there was, virtually, no government at all, that gave time for the demoralization of the people, and for the formation of those terrible factions within, and those powerful combinations without, which finally ended in its discomfiture. But here the blow has been struck, and the whole revolution rounded off and finished in three days. No time has been afforded for the demoralization of the people; none for the formation of factions within, or combinations without. The first intelligence that Europe, or even the remote provinces of France have of the affair is, that it is finished. It is this celerity, and the constant presence of an efficient government, which distinguish this revolution from the former and constitute its safety. The men who head this movement are practical men, with strong common sense, (the best of all sense) and with honest intentions. With the former revolution full in their view, and a thorough knowledge of all the causes of its miscarriage, they have gone to work in this case with the decision and despatch of men of business. They change their monarch, limit his powers, and there they stop. And what power in Europe can complain?
Can England? She has saved us the trouble of a speculation on this subject by a prompt acknowledgment of the existing government.
Can Austria or Prussia complain of it, as breaking the line of legitimate succession, while acknowledging Michael on the throne of Portugal? Or can Russia, while not only acknowledging Michael, but having her own throne at this moment filled with the younger brother of the family? These are, both, departures from the strict line of legitimate succession adopted by the holy alliance: and if it be sufficient to excuse the departure in these two instances, that the reigning prince is of the same blood with the right heir, the same may be urged for the reigning king of France; for he is a Bourbon in the maternal line. It is not upon the abstract principle of the strict line of legitimate succession that these powers can be expected to unite in a war against France. If they do unite in such a war, it will be to assert the right of a prince to rule despotically, in violation of the social compact which unites him with his people. Is this probable? Let us remember that Alexander of Russia was the chief of the armed negotiators by whom this compact was arranged. That monarch saw the impossibility of maintaining a despotic prince, of the obnoxious house of Bourbon, on the throne of France, in the state of high illumination which then existed among the people. And although the allied armies were in possession of Paris, he would not permit Louis the XVIII. to enter until he had given to his people the charter which they required. Will the present Emperor of Russia support with his arms the violation of the charter thus sanctioned by his august brother? That it has been most shamefully and most unwisely violated, all Europe admits. That the offender has been removed with astonishing moderation and humanity, is equally admitted. That the revolution is not a war upon monarchy is apparent by the fact that a monarch now occupies the throne, and substantially under the charter to which Russia herself gave her sanction in 1814. With what decency, then, could Russia interfere? But, waving the decorum of such an interference, (which perhaps would not be insurmountable,) let us attend to the motives by which princes are more generally governed; the practicability of the enterprize, and the value of its precarious success, compared with the certain costs and hazards of the attempt.
The question is every day becoming more complicated to them: and circumstances which, at first, seem calculated to provoke this attempt, immediately assume an appearance well fitted to discourage it. Thus the contagion is spreading: the Netherlands have risen and demanded a charter from their king. This is a new alarm to the neighboring monarchies. But the king of the Netherlands is a sensible and honest man, and has, we are told, already called the States General, with a view to the redress of the grievances of his subjects. This monarch has followed, in the main, the policy of England so closely as to leave but little doubt that he will be willing to adopt the British form of government; and that he will, also, follow her example in the immediate recognition of that of France. Similar governments will probably soon be instituted both in Spain and Portugal; and they will be recognized by England, France, and the Netherlands.
Now, although England was willing in 1792 to unite in a war against that wild democracy in France, which threatened to subvert, by force, monarchy in every form, throughout the world, and to give the fraternal embrace to every nation upon earth, willing or unwilling, does it follow that she will look with composure at a war on the limited monarchies in her neighborhood, which she has thought proper to recognize, and that war, too, headed by Russia? Jealous as she is, and with good reason, of the alarming strides of the great autocrat, and interfering, as she certainly did, with his distant enterprise upon Turkey, will she be content to see the kingdoms in her immediate neighborhood reduced to Russian dependencies, by those armies of occupation with which the success of Russia must be followed? Will Russia rise against the resistance of England to such an enterprise, when she is believed to have mitigated her designs on Turkey in consequence of English mediation? This is scarcely credible. Or if she should, will Austria and Prussia, notwithstanding their alleged servility to her views, follow her in such an enterprise? Those powers will unquestionably consult their own safety, and will weigh the consequences, on both sides, before they take such a step. There is a wide difference between their situation and that of Russia, and what may be politic for Russia, might be very impolitic for them. The subjects of Russia are yet in polar darkness: those of Austria and Prussia are in a very different condition. Look at the internal state of their own dominions. The spirit of liberty has gone abroad among their people, and even in Prussia is so strong, that so far back as 1814 the king found it necessary to promise his subjects an amelioration of their political condition, to induce them to follow his standard against France. In Austria liberty is awake, not only in her Universities, but among the body of her people. Neither of these powers could send an army against France, without raising and maintaining another at home to keep down the discontents of their own people. Those people are no longer the automatons they were in 1814. They have discovered that they are men as their monarchs are, deriving from the God of nature equal rights, and with a clear right to participate in the government of their choice. Is it credible that they would bear the repeated conscriptions to which such a war would subject them, for the purpose of carrying on a crusade against the liberties of others abroad, and thus riveting, more closely, their own chains at home?
If, in spite of all these discouragements, those powers were mad or fatuitous enough to meditate such an enterprise, have they any reason to believe that it could succeed? Must they not see, on the contrary, that it would be utterly hopeless? Have they forgotten that when France stood alone, with all Europe combined against her, they found her invincible; that she swept their embattled hosts from every field, and led her victorious legions into their own capitals? One of these monarchs is reported already to have said that "he has had enough of French wars." Well may he say so; and well may Austria respond "Amen." They have not forgotten that Napoleon twice "struck their crowns into the hazard," and that it was by his gift that they now wear them. And although Napoleon be no more, they well know the gigantic power of France when armed in such a cause, and how readily a war upon her liberties will raise up some other Napoleon, probably from among the heroes of the Polytechnic school, once more to sweep like a whirlwind over their dominions, and to bring them again to his feet. If France, single-handed, was able to do this, while every power in Europe frowned upon her, what will she not be able to accomplish when cheered by the countenance, and perhaps supported by the arms of England?
Amid so many discouragements, is it conceivable that these powers will brave the consequences of an enterprise so full of despair? No one believes that their decision will be governed by any other motive than their own interest. Their own safety will be their supreme law. But will not this very consideration conduct them to the conclusion that it is their wisest course to keep the peace with France, and endeavor to preserve peace at home? Can they fail to perceive that the irresistible course of events must constrain them ultimately to make terms with their subjects; and that it is far wiser to make them at once, with as good a grace as remains to them, and to place their governments at least on the basis of the British constitution, of whose stability they have had such signal proof? Must they not see that it is far wiser thus to act, than to peril the consequences of that wild and desolating uproar throughout Europe, which an invasion of France would unquestionably produce?
That they will take the course that is wisest, because it is the wisest, may be problematical. But it is scarcely to be presumed that these sovereigns are so utterly bereft of reason as to provoke and precipitate their own ruin by a measure so hopeless. If they do attempt it, it can only be because Heaven, resolved upon their destruction, has first made them mad.
What course they will take is yet problematical. But supposing them to have the use of their reason, we have fair grounds of hope, that although the astounding character of the revolution, and of the progress of the same principles in the neighboring kingdoms may make them pause for a while, their own common sense will at length conduct them all to the conclusion, that there is no other course left for them but to recognize the existing government of France, and to direct their attention, exclusively, to their affairs at home.
Very much, indeed every thing, depends upon the prudence of France herself. If she shall stop where she is, remain quiet, united and happy at home, and avoid all interference with other governments, the work is done. If, on the other hand, storms should arise within to drive her from her present anchorage, and set the revolution afloat again on a sea of anarchy, every thing is to be feared for herself and for Europe. Is there any danger of such a relapse? That there are domestic malcontents, and perhaps foreign emissaries enough in the kingdom to make the wicked attempt, is probable enough. Is there any reason to believe that such an attempt will succeed?
The great security of France arises from her past experience, which must make her distrust all counsels tending to disunion and disorganization. There is, moreover, an efficient and watchful government in being, under whose jealous vigilance these incendiaries will have to carry on their machinations. What theme can they find of sufficient power to persuade the people of France to leave the port in which they now find themselves safe and happy, and to commit themselves again to those seas of whose dangers they have heretofore had such dreadful experience.
Will it be sympathy for the fallen house of Bourbon? There is no nerve in France that will respond to such an appeal. That house has no place in the affections of the people. It was forced upon them, at the point of the bayonet, in 1814. It has been tried a second time: found to be incurably despotic, and every indication attests that the revolution which has again ejected them from the throne, is, in this respect, popular throughout France. The influence of that family is extinguished for ever, in the kingdom.
Nor do we learn that there is any other competitor for the crown that has a party of sufficient strength to unfurl a banner in his cause with any hope of success. It is not a small faction that can disturb the peace of such a kingdom as that of France, instructed as they must necessarily be by their past experience.
It has been suggested that the limited monarchy which has been established is distasteful to the republicans: and that the match of discord may be applied with success to this party. But Gen. Lafayette is at the head of the republicans, and a letter from him which has been recently published is well fitted to quiet our apprehensions on this score. He would have preferred a republic on our model. But the question was not what was best in the abstract, but what was best for France in the situation in which she was placed. What was that situation? The tastes and prejudices of foreign princes were to be consulted to avoid all pretext for interference on their part, and such a government was to be established as the more liberal among them, (England for example,) would promptly recognize. On the other hand, with a view to immediate repose in France, herself, it was indispensably necessary that there should be at once a firm and efficient government, to avoid those factions which are always hatched by protracted revolutions, and fluctuating counsels; witness the afflicting scenes in South America. Hence the necessity of that compromise which he, Gen. Lafayette, says was so promptly made. The wisdom of it, both in its foreign and domestic aspect, is so striking, that the people of France, with the lights of their past experience before them, cannot fail to see it. Nor can those republicans fail to see what Gen. Lafayette has so intelligibly stated in another letter "that although the government be a monarchy, it is a very republican monarchy, susceptible of farther improvement:" and they have a king manifestly prepared to yield to any improvement they desire; for he is, in spirit, as much a republican as any man among them.
The people of France finding themselves at once in the actual enjoyment of the sweets of peace and freedom, under the protection of a government mild, conciliating and efficient—open, moreover, to such amendments as experience shall suggest, will hardly be persuaded to go again in quest of anarchy and confusion, with the horrors and the catastrophe of the former revolution full in their view. No: they have not forgotten that fearful lesson: and to suppose them ready, without any necessity, to re-enact that tragedy, is to suppose them madmen, without any other claim upon the sympathies of the world than such as are felt for the inmates of a lunatic asylum.
The quiet and orderly manner in which the people restored the pavement of their streets, purified their city, and went back to their respective occupations, after their battle of three days, was, at that time, a pledge for Paris, always the most to be dreaded of any other part of the kingdom. They acted like honest and sensible workmen. They had a public job to do; they finish it, at once, with all possible moderation and humanity; and then peaceably resume their private pursuits.
Whom have they to quarrel with? The guards, it seems, fired upon them reluctantly, until their hearts would permit them to fire upon their fellow citizens no longer—when they throw down their arms and rush into their embrace in a manner so touching as to leave no doubt of the sincerity and permanency of the reconciliation. France, at large, seems tranquil. A few petty disturbances there may have since been; but they are the mere foam which was to have been expected from the fall of such a water-spout. Should more serious disturbances arise, from any public grievance which demands redress, who can doubt that it will be redressed, and that the people will be satisfied? We have this important guaranty for the tranquillity of France, that Lafayette is in the counsels of the king, and possesses the unbounded confidence of the people. With a perfect knowledge of his countrymen, and with an address of unrivalled tact to soothe and to conciliate, he is, moreover, at the head of the National Guards, and of the whole military force; and possesses, therefore, the power to entreat with energy, where moral persuasion fails. But we have no authentic information to justify the fear that the application of force will become necessary; and we have good reason to distrust those reports which, according to custom, will be continually thrown upon the London Exchange, for the unworthy purpose of speculations in stock.
The quiet and very leisurely manner in which Charles the X. with his family, was permitted to retire from the kingdom, and his reception by the people, every where upon his journey, speak volumes on the subject of the temper of the French, in the very crisis of the revolution. How different from the flight of the unfortunate Louis and his family in 1791—posting by night, in disguise and in dismay—pursued by armed dragoons—finally arrested by the discovery of the keeper of a post-house—and brought back in disgrace to Paris under an armed guard, the informer sitting triumphant above him crowned with laurel—the frantic rabble exulting in his humiliation, and with difficulty restrained from laying violent hands upon him. Charles X. on the contrary, travels, with his family, in open day, by the slowest and easiest journeys, under the respectful escort of the commissaries of the new government; and the people, every where, so far from any vulgar display of insolent triumph, touch their hats in silent respect for the sorrows of the party, with a delicacy of feeling eminently characteristic of the French when in a state of peace, but at the same time with an air of calm decision quite as manifest as their delicacy.
The whole movement stands in striking contrast to the former revolution. In the two legislative houses there was no violence of debate. Differences of opinion there were: but there was no rude and bitter altercation. On the contrary, all was as calm and decorous as it was decisive. And so far from adopting the bloody revolutionary tribunal which characterised the movement of 1789, one of the first measures proposed is the abolition of capital punishment. It was made immediately after the arrest of the late ministers, and was supported by Lafayette; and no one who observes the point of time and knows the man, can mistake the purpose. How noble is this humanity to the fallen; and how strikingly and honorably does it distinguish the present revolution from the vindictive and sanguinary proceedings of that of 1789. Is it not manifest that every man who has had any thing to do with this affair, is acting with direct reference to the former revolution, and with a settled determination to avoid the false steps which led to its miscarriage? And is not this determination a most propitious pledge of the stability and success of the present revolution?
After all—in a case so dependent on the crooked policy of princes, and on the wayward and turbulent passions of man—it is possible that our hopes may be disappointed. Judging, however, by general appearances both in France and out of it, (so far as any authentic information has reached us) we have reason to cherish the hope that that beautiful country is at length as free as she chooses to be, and that the genius and taste, the fine sensibilities and generous affections which so pre-eminently distinguish her, will now have genial skies and full scope for their cultivation and expansion. Sure I am that I speak the sentiments, not only of this city but of the whole United States, when I say, that no nation will hail her success with a truer heart of joy than ours, and that there is none on which we believe that liberty will sit more gracefully and attractively than on hers.
Never has her character appeared in a form so captivating as in the late movement. It has brought forward, among her people, a new class of candidates for foreign respect and admiration: that class which her nobles, in haughty contempt, were wont to style the canaille, but who proved themselves, on that occasion, the true noblemen of France, the noblemen of nature. Their conduct throughout the whole movement was marked with the noblest lineaments, and their sudden transition from the shock of arms to the stillness of peace, was sublime. In this they proved their perfect title to liberty by their fitness to enjoy it, and, on a most trying occasion, have presented a model of prudence and wisdom worthy of the remembrance and imitation of us all.
Among the youth of the Polytechnic school, too, there was a beautiful little incident, so characteristic of the fine and delicate sensibility of the French, that I cannot forbear adverting to it. When those boys were required by the present king to designate from among their number the twelve most distinguished in the late conflict, with the view of conferring on them the decorations of the legion of honor—what was their answer? Permit me to read it, as extracted from our papers, for it is one of those things that will bear a second reading.
"To the Secretary of War:
"General—We come in the name of the Polytechnic school, to express our gratitude on the subject of the crosses of honor awarded to us: but the recompense appearing to us above our services, and, moreover, no one of us deeming himself more worthy than his comrades to receive it, we beg permission to decline accepting them.
"There is a favor, however, we desire to ask of you. One of our comrades, Venneau, perished on the day of the 27th: We recommend to your kindness his father, who is in the service of the government, in the collection of the revenue. We recommend, farther, to your kindness, General, another of our comrades, Charras, dismissed from the schools by General Bourdsoulle on account of his opinions. We ask that he may be restored to our ranks, in which he did good service these few days.
"In the name of the Polytechnic school, the two scholars deputed by their comrades,
J. DUPRESNE, FERRI PISANI.
August 7th, 1830."
There is no parade here. It is the simple voice of nature, and goes, at once, to the heart of every reader. Such is France: radiant with taste and feeling and generosity in every department of her society: "in war, the mountain storm—in peace, the gale of spring." Long may the sun of liberty gild with his glories her vine-covered hills, her laughing valleys and her splendid cities.
With no pretence of right, and no wish to interfere with the political institutions of other countries, but, on the contrary, holding it to be the right of all to pursue their own happiness, in their own way, and under the form of government which they deem most conducive to that end—yet believing, as we do, that civil and religious freedom are essential to the happiness of man, and to the development of the high capacities, mental and moral, with which his Creator has endowed him, it is natural for us to rejoice when we see any nation, and more especially one so endeared to us as France, coming, of her own accord, into the fold of free governments. If there be any people who believe that their peace and order and happiness require the curb of a despotic government, be it so: their believing it, is proof enough to us that it is so, with regard to them: And however much we may regret, it is not for us to disturb their repose. Free government is good only for those who understand its value and are prepared for its enjoyment. It cannot be forced, with advantage, upon any people who are not yet ripe for its reception. Nations yet in darkness require, like children, to be disciplined and instructed before they can act with advantage for themselves. Their best instruction from abroad, is the example of other nations; their only proper teachers at home, are their own enlightened patriots; and the wisest process, the gradual diffusion of light among them. That a movement may be premature and end only in abortion and misery, the former example of France has instructed them. That it may be mature, and the deliverance easy, quick and safe, she has now given them a happy and beautiful illustration. It is only by such a revolution as this that the cause of liberty can present an attraction to the world. It is only in such a revolution that the humane and benevolent can take delight.
Charity is due even to the prejudices of princes. They are, probably, as much in the dark on this head, as their subjects. They have been taught from their cradles that they were born to rule, as their subjects have been taught from theirs, that they were born to be ruled. The mistake seems to be mutual, and is, perhaps, equally honest on both sides. Humanity requires that its correction should be attended with as little violence as possible, and this can be best effected by the gradual diffusion of light. Let us be content with the order of nature, which, however slow, is always safest and best. The sun does not spring at once from the nadir to the zenith. Such a leap would bring on a convulsion of nature and the crash of worlds. No: his ascent is gradual. Our eyes are accommodated, without pain, to his increasing light. The landscape is softly and beautifully unfolded, and the planetary system, in the meantime, maintains its harmonious and salutary action. The seasons revolve in their order; and the earth brings forth her flowers and her fruits, in peace. So let us be content to have it in the intellectual world. Let not vain man presume to be wiser than his Maker, and, in a foolish attempt to force the order of nature, create only misery, where he intended happiness.
Let us not fear that the light which has already gone forth will be extinguished. Tyrants might as well attempt to blot the sun from the firmament. They may attempt it; but "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn." The creatures formed for his worship will be permitted to worship him with exalted faculties and full liberty of conscience. Placed here for their common good and happiness, and indued with minds and affections fitted for enlightened intercourse, and the mutual interchange of kind offices, let us not be so impious as to fear that the light which has arisen will be suffered to be put out and the world re-plunged in darkness and barbarity.
Fellow citizens, this light was first struck in our land. The sacred trust is still among us. Let us take care how we guard the holy fire. We stand under a fearful responsibility to our Creator and our fellow creatures. It has been his divine pleasure that we should be sent forth as the harbingers of free government on the earth, and in this attitude we are now before the world. The eyes of the world are upon us; and our example will probably be decisive of the cause of human liberty.
The great argument of despots against free governments is, that large bodies of men are incapable of self-rule, and that the inevitable and rapid tendency of such a government as ours is to faction, strife, anarchy and dissolution. Let it be our effort to give, to the expecting world, a great, practical and splendid refutation of this charge. If we cannot do this, the world may despair. To what other nation can we look to do it? We claim no natural superiority to other nations. We have not the folly to think of it. We claim nothing more than a natural equality. But circumstances have conspired to give us an advantage in making this great political experiment which no other modern nation enjoys. The government under which the fathers of our revolution were born was the freest in Europe. They were rocked in the cradle and nurtured in the principles of British liberty: and the transition from those institutions to our own was extremely easy. They were maturely prepared for the change both by birth and education, and came into existence as a republic under the happiest auspices that can ever again be expected to arise. If, therefore, our experiment shall fail, I say again that the world may well despair. Warned as we are by the taunts of European monarchists, and by the mournful example of all the ancient republics, are we willing to split on the same rock on which we have seen them shipwrecked? Are we willing to give our enemies such a triumph as to fulfil their prophecy and convince the world that self-government is impracticable—a mere chimera—and that man is fit only to be a slave to his fellow man? Are we willing to teach the nations of the earth to despair, and resign themselves at once to the power that crushes them? Shall we forfeit all the bright honors that we have hitherto won by our example, and now admit by our conduct, that, although free government may subsist for a while, under the pressure of extrinsic and momentary causes, yet that it cannot bear a long season of peace and prosperity; but that as soon as thus left to itself, it speedily hastens to faction, demoralization, anarchy and ruin? Are we prepared to make this practical admission by our conduct, and extinguish, ourselves, the sacred light of liberty which has been entrusted to our keeping? Or, shall we not rather show ourselves worthy of this high trust, maintain the advanced post which we have hitherto occupied with so much honor, prove, by our example, that a free government is the best pledge for peace and order and human happiness, and thus continue to light the other nations of the earth on their way to liberty? Who can hesitate between these two alternatives? Who that looks upon that monument that decks the Park, and observes the statue by which it is surmounted, or on this that graces our square, and recalls the occasion on which it was erected, is willing to admit that men are incapable of self-government, and unworthy of the blessing of liberty? No man, I am sure, who has an American heart in his bosom.
Away, then, with all faction, strife and uncharitableness from our land. We are brothers. Let no angry feelings enter our political dwellings. If we differ about measures or about men, (as, from the constitution of our nature, differ we must,) let us remember that we are all but fallible men, and extend to others that charity of which the best of us cannot but feel that we stand in need. We owe this good temper and indulgence to each other as members of the same family, as all interested, and deeply interested, in the preservation of the Union and of our political institutions: and we owe it to the world as the van-couriers of free government on earth, and the guardians of the first altar that has been erected to Liberty in modern times. In the casual differences of opinion that must, from time to time, be expected to arise among us, it is natural that each should think himself right. But let us be content to make that right appear by calm and respectful reasoning. Truth does not require the torch of discord to light her steps. Its flickering and baleful glare can only disturb her course. Her best light is her own pure and native lustre. Measures never lose any thing of their firmness by their moderation. They win their way as much by the candor and kindness with which they are conducted, as by their intrinsic rectitude.
Friends and fellow-citizens, "our lines have fallen to us in pleasant places: yea, we have a goodly heritage." Let us not mar it by vindictive altercations among ourselves, and offend the shades of our departed fathers who left this rich inheritance to us. Let us not tinge with shame and sorrow, the venerable cheek of the last surviving signer of the Declaration of our Independence, whom heaven still spares to our respect and affections. Let us not disappoint the world which still looks to us for a bright example, and is manifestly preparing to follow our steps. Let us not offend that Almighty Being who gave us all these blessings, and who has a right to expect that we will enjoy them in peace and brotherly love. It is His will that we should so enjoy them; and may His will be done.
THE CITIZENS OF BALTIMORE
THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE.
FRIENDS AND ANCIENT ALLIES:
We, the people of Baltimore, in Convention assembled, do, with unqualified satisfaction, tender you our heartfelt congratulations, on the late glorious assertion of your undoubted rights. When we behold the many and severe trials through which you have passed, we cannot but express our joy, that your liberty is now fixed on a firm, and, as we ardently hope, an enduring basis. We must ever bear in vivid recollection, the efficacious assistance you so liberally extended to us in our day of peril. The blood and the treasure of France flowed freely in our cause. Under circumstances of great national difficulty you alone, among the nations of the world, interposed your shield for our protection. Frenchmen and Americans fought side by side in the holy contest for freedom; and variant as were their habits, religion, manners, and language, it is nevertheless true, that not a solitary instance of discord disturbed the harmony of the two people. The most exemplary citizen of America did not render more absolute submission to the laws, and to the civil authority, than did the gallant and devoted soldier of France. Such are the noble inspirations of liberty! These recollections are cherished with gratitude, and will be faithfully transmitted to millions of unborn Americans. To Heaven, to France, and to the stout hearts of our ancestors, are we indebted for all that man should most highly prize. And we rejoice that our ancient and faithful allies have triumphed over tyranny, have asserted their unalienable rights, and themselves ordained their great charter of government. We rejoice that this triumph has been accomplished with that mild and chastened spirit becoming the age, and peculiar to advanced civilization. No excess, no absence of moderation, no intemperate ardor nor vengeful aspirations. In this sublime display of courage and of humanity, of victory and of forbearance united, Americans are delighted to see the hand, and to recognize the benevolent spirit of the great and good LAFAYETTE, to whom the hearts of the people of Baltimore are bound by so many indissoluble and grateful associations. History affords no brighter example of cool and philosophic expression of matured thought, and of determined yet temperate action. The omen is most propitious, and a people so actuated must enjoy ages of that liberty they have so dearly yet so nobly achieved. That this brilliant omen may be carried out into happy reality, through all courses of time, is our sincere wish, and our most earnest supplication to HIM who holds the destinies of nations in his hand.
SAMUEL SMITH, Chairman.
JOHN S. SKINNER, Sec'ry.
'Bastille' is spelled both 'Bastile' and 'bastile' in this text, matching the original document.
The following changes have been made to the text:
Page 5: Added missing period (Jewellers and Silversmiths.)
Page 7: Added missing comma (A. M., the right of the line)
Page 7: Added missing comma (JAMES BIAYS, JR.,)
Page 24: Changed 'enterprize' to 'enterprise' for consistency with other cases in the address (the enterprise, and the value)
Page 25: Changed 'recognise' to 'recognize' for consistency with other cases in the address (proper to recognize)
Page 39: Changed 'his' to 'His' for consistency with other references to an Almighty Being (may His will be done)