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to its full expression, as he touched on the rights of the colonies and the injustice of the king, as his kindling imagination presented to him the scenes of coming and doubtful conflict, and he prayed that he to whom the shields of the earth belong would gird on his sword and go forth with our hosts on the day of battle, and would open their eyes to behold in every valley and in every plain, as the prophet beheld by the same illumination chariots of fire and horses of fire, you would see then all those minor shades of individual peculiarity pass away from the face of the assembly and one universal and sublime expression of religion and patriotism diffuse itself over all countenances alike, as sunshine upon a late disturbed sea.
Thus somewhat would Scott contrive to give you a perception of that indefinable yet real and operative existence,the spirit of a strongly agitated age, of the temper and determination of a people in a state of high excitement and fermentation, not yet broken out into overt conduct, of that interval, so full of strange interest, between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion. . . .
In leaving this subject, I cannot help suggesting, at the hazard of being thought whimsical, that a literature of such writings as these, embodying the romance of the whole revolutionary and ante-revolutionary history of the United States, might do something to perpetuate the Union itself. . . . Poems and romances which shall be read in every parlor, by every fireside, in every school-house, behind every counter, in every printing-office, in every lawyer's office, at every weekly evening club, in all the States of this Confederacy, must do something, along with more palpable if not more powerful agents, toward moulding and fixing that final, grand, complex result,— the national character. A keen, well-instructed judge of such things said if he might write the ballads of a people he cared little who made its laws. Let me say if a hundred men of genius would extract such a body of romantic literature from our early history as Scott has extracted from the history of England and Scotland, and as Homer extracted from that of Greece, it perhaps would not be so alarming if demagogues should preach, or governors practise, or executives tolerate nullification. Such a literature would be a common property of all the States, a treasure of common ancestral recollections,- more noble and richer than our thousand million acres of public
land; and, unlike that land, it would be indivisible. It would be as the opening of a great fountain for the healing of the nations. Reminded of our fathers, we should remember that we are brethren. The exclusiveness of State pride, the narrow selfishness of a mere local policy, and the small jealousies of vulgar minds would be merged in an expanded, comprehensive, constitutional sentiment of old, family, fraternal regard. It would reassemble, as it were, the people of America in one vast congregation. It would rehearse in their hearing all things which God had done for them in the old time; it would proclaim the law once more; and then it would bid them join in that grandest and most affecting solemnity,— a national anthem of thanksgiving for the deliverance, of honor for the dead, of proud prediction for the future.
The tribes of Israel and Judah came up three times a year to the holy and beautiful city, and united in prayer and praise and sacrifice, in listening to that thrilling poetry, in swelling that matchless song, which celebrated the triumphs of their fathers by the Red Sea, at the fords of Jordan, and on the high places of the field of Barak's victory. But we have no feast of the Passover or of the Tabernacles or of the Commemoration. The States of Greece erected temples of the gods by a common contribution, and worshipped in them. They consulted the same oracle, they celebrated the same national festival, mingled their deliberations in the same Amphictyonic and subordinate assemblies, and sat together upon the same benches to hear their glorious history read aloud in the prose of Herodotus, the poetry of Homer and of Pindar. We have built no national temples but the Capitol: we consult no common oracle but the Constitution. We can meet together to celebrate no national festival. But the thousand tongues of the press clearer far than the silver trumpet of the jubilee, louder than the voice of the herald at the gamesmay speak and do speak to the whole people without calling them from their homes or interrupting them in their employments. Happy if they should speak and the people should hear those things which pertain at least to their temporal and national salvation.
Rufus Choate's Works are published in two volumes, with a memoir by S. G. Brown included in the first volume, in which, also, are collected the lectures and addresses upon historical and literary themes, the political
speeches appearing in the second volume. The selection from Choate's writings published in Warner's Library of the World's Best Literature (vol. vi.) is intelligently made, the biographical sketch which accompanies it being by Albert Stickney. There is an interesting chapter upon Choate in E. P. Whipple's "Recollections." Since Choate wrote the eloquent address reprinted almost entire in the present leaflet, the sense of the opportunities and importance of historical fiction has deepened and widened to a remarkable degree. There is hardly any field of history which the novelist and romancer have not entered during the last half of the century, often with great illuminating power. Our own American history has by no means fared the worst. Historical fiction has its large department in all the large libraries, and by many of these admirable finding-lists and catalogues have been issued." It is sufficient here to refer to the Chronological Index to Historical Fiction, published by the Boston Public Library. History itself has been treated by many master hands in a more glowing, graphic, and picturesque way, fulfilling the demands made by Macaulay in his old essay on History, written in the early part of the century. Green's History of the English People is the most conspicuous illustration of this eloquent and dramatic treatment of history; but in America we also have brilliant illustrations. No student of the history of a people may neglect the study of that people's literature, Greece cannot be understood without a knowledge of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes. To know England, we must know Shakespeare and Milton. The actual use of historical subjects by the poets is most important. Many men see English history, and Roman history as well, chiefly through the eyes of Shakespeare; and they might see it through worse eyes. The prominence of American history in American poetry during the nineteenth century is noteworthy. One of the subjects set for the Old South Essays for 1900 is "Longfellow's Use of American Subjects and his Services for American History." When we have named "Hiawatha," the "Courtship of Miles Standish," " Evangeline," and the "New England Tragedies," we have indicated a large portion of the sum total of Longfellow's poetry; and scores of briefer poems touching American history and life remain to be named. The meeting devoted to the memory of Longfellow just after his death in 1882, by the Massachusetts Historical Society, of which he was a member, was noteworthy for the tributes to his distinct and great services for our history; see the Society's Proceedings, vol. xix. The poetry of America forms an element as important in the poetry of Whittier and Lowell, and almost as important in the works of our other American poets; while it is to our poets, from Emerson down, that we go for the noblest expressions of our patriotism and the highest calls to a noble national life.
THE DIRECTORS OF THE OLD SOUTH WORK, Old South Meeting-house, Boston, Mass.
SPEECH IN FANEUIL HALL, THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL 29, 1852.
Ladies and Gentlemen,- Do me the justice to believe that I rise not with any pretension to eloquence within the Cradle of American Liberty. If I were standing upon the ruins of Prytaneum, and had to speak whence Demosthenes spoke, my tongue would refuse to obey, my words would die away upon my lips, and I would listen to the winds fraught with the dreadful realization of his unheeded prophecies. Spirit of American eloquence, frown not at my boldness that I dare abuse Shakespeare's language in Faneuil Hall! It is a strange fate, and not my choice. My tongue is fraught with a down-trodden nation's wrongs. The justice of my cause is my eloquence; but misfortune may approach the altar whence the flame arose which roused your fathers from degradation to independence. I claim my people's share in the benefit of the laws of nature and of nature's God. I will nothing add to the historical reputation of these walls; but I dare hope not to sully them by appealing to those maxims of truth the promulgation of which made often tremble these walls from the thundering cheers of freemen, roused by the clarion sound of inspired oratory.
"Cradle of American Liberty!" it is a great name; but there is something in it which saddens my heart. You should not say "American liberty." You should say "Liberty in America." Liberty should not be either American or European,it should be just "liberty." God is God. He is neither Amer
ica's God nor Europe's God. He is God. So shall liberty be. "American liberty" has much the sound as if you would say "American privilege.' And there is the rub. Look to history, and, when your heart saddens at the fact that liberty never yet was lasting in any corner of the world and in any age, you will find the key of it in the gloomy truth that all who yet were free regarded liberty as their privilege instead of regarding it as a principle. The nature of every privilege is exclusiveness; that of a principle is communicative. Liberty is a principle; its community is its security; exclusiveness is its doom.
What is aristocracy? It is exclusive liberty; it is privilege; and aristocracy is doomed, because it is contrary to the destiny and welfare of man. Aristocracy should vanish, not in the nations, but also from amongst the nations. So long as that is not done, liberty will nowhere be lasting on earth. It is equally fatal to individuals as to nations to believe themselves beyond the reach of vicissitudes. To this proud reliance, and the isolation resulting therefrom, more victims have fallen than to oppression by immediate adversities. You have prodigiously grown by your freedom of seventy-five years; but what is seventy-five years to take for a charter of immortality? No, no, my humble tongue tells the records of eternal truth. A privilege never can be lasting. Liberty restricted to one nation never can be sure. You may say, "We are the prophets of God," but you shall not say, "God is only our God." The Jews have said so, and the pride of Jerusalem lies in the dust. Our Saviour taught all humanity to say, "Our Father in heaven"; and his Jerusalem is lasting to the end of days.
"There is a community in mankind's destiny." That was the greeting which I read on the arch of welcome on the Capitol Hill of Massachusetts. I pray to God the republic of America would weigh the eternal truth of those words, and act accordingly. Liberty in America would then be sure to the end of time. But if you say "American liberty," and take that grammar for your policy, I dare say the time will yet come when humanity will have to mourn over a new proof of the ancient truth, that without community national freedom is never sure. You should change "American liberty" into "Liberty," then liberty would be forever sure in America, and that which found a cradle in Faneuil Hall never would find a coffin through all coming days. I like not the word "cradle "