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Maryland; and the boldest and coarsest, Wigfall, of Texas. Breckinridge was, in many respects, a true orator, and seemed to copy much from Clay and Crittenden. Jefferson Davis was always a capital dialectician, not strong in argument, but always stern in convictions. Hammond, of South Carolina, had a good presence and a persuasive tone, but was not a great man. Toombs, of Georgia, was the stormy petrel, often grand as a declaimer, and always intolerant, dogmatic, and extreme. was as violent in 1850, when he was a Unionist, as he was in 1860, when he became a Secessionist.
Two scenes are deeply imprinted on my memory. They exhibit the two schools of oratory, West and South. One was the remarkable appeal of Hon. James McDowell, of Virginia, in the House of Representatives, on the 3d of September, 1850. That was the initiative period—the porch, so to speak, which introduced us to the arena of civil war; and McDowell, like other patriots, stood upon its steps and predicted the dark future if we did not harmonize. He was then in his fifty-fifth year, not in good health, but full of genuine love of liberty. He had won high honors as a popular speaker in Virginia. Born in that State, and educated at Princeton College, New Jersey, he was profoundly attached to the Union. He was filled with apprehensions of dismemberment in 1850. The extremists demanded that California should not be admitted as a free State without an equivalent in the extension of slave territory—an exaction indignantly resisted by the North. The agitation was intense — the peril imminent. At this inoment Mr. McDowell rose to address the House. His tall form, graceful gestures, and commanding voice revived the expectations created by his fame as a Virginia orator, and his sustained and splendid appeal confirmed them. When he proclaimed these noble words the House broke forth into involuntary applause, which could not be restrained by Speaker Cobb:
"From the empire of Nebuchadnezzar to that of Napoleon,
JAMES MCDOWELL, OF VIRGINIA.
how immense the distance, how stupendous the revolutions that have intervened, how intense the fiery contests which have burned over continents and ages, changing their theatre and their instruments, and leaving upon the whole surface of the globe scarce a spot unstained by their desolating and bloody track; and yet no national offspring has sprung from them all so fitted as our own United America to redeem for the world the agonies they have cost it. Whatever, in that long period, other nations may have risen up to be, and however truly and illustriously a few of them may have prolonged their day and advanced the civilization and the wisdom of themselves and the world, still none of them has ever embodied such an aggregate of rational happiness or political truth as our own Republic, and none like it has ever fulfilled the ultimate problem of all government, that, namely, of making the utmost freedom of the citizen and the utmost power of the State the co-existing and the upholding conditions of one another. With a freedom only inferior to that of Rome in the worst qualities of hers, those of aggression and conquest, and superior to that of Greece in its best, those of civilization and defense ; with nothing but this freedom, its story and its triumphs, our Republic has become confederate alike with the liberty sentiment of the world and with the majestic power of human sympathy to propagate itself, and hence its flag is destined to wave not only over an empire of illimitable means but over the illimitable empires of re-born and self-governing man. And now that this Republic of freedom, happiness, and power is a heritage of ours, who that has shared, as we have done, in the countless blessings that belong to it—who that knows it, as we do, to be the heritage of every good which human nature can enjoy or human government secure—who, so situated, could make it or could see it the sport of violent, selfish, or parricidal passions? Who of us, without putting forth every faculty of soul and body to prevent it, would see it go down, down under some monstrous
struggle of brother with brother, an external crush upon ourselves, an external example for the shuddering, the admonition, the horror, and the curse of universal man? There have been those who, impelled only by their own noble and generous nature, have rushed forward on the field of battle and given their own bosom to the blow of death, that thereby some loved comrade or commander might be spared, or some patriotic purpose vindicated and secured; there have been those who have gone into the dungeons of misfortune and of guilt, and worn out the days and years of their own lives that they might alleviate the disease or the despair of their wretched inmates, and, at least, kindle up for another world the aspirations and hopes which were extinguished for this. And there have been others, too, who have companioned with the pestilence, and have walked, day by day, in its silent and horrid footsteps, that they might learn in what way to encounter its power, and so be enabled, reverently, to lift up from crushed and anguished communities the too heavy pressing of the hand of the Almighty. And are we, who hold the sublimest political trust ever committed to the hands of any other people—are we alone to be incapable of any and every dedication of ourselves which that trust requires ? Can we stand calmly, helplessly, and faithlessly by, and allow it to be wrecked and lost?
“In this hour of danger—this eventful hour of the age—this hour which is all in all to us and to millions besides, those oppressed millions of other lands who are ruled by irresponsible power, and who, as they lie upon the earth, overwhelmed and crushed by the weight of altars or of thrones, still look to us for hope, and pour out their hearts in sobbings and in prayer to Heaven that ours may be the radiant and the steady light which shall never bewilder or betray; in this hour, so full of interest, our mother country comes into our very midst, and taking each by the hand, says to each: 'Son, give me, give me thy heart.' And will we not, can we not do it? Can we not give it freely,
proudly give it all ? keeping no part of it back for any end or any passion of our own, though dear, it may be, as a right eye or a right arm. If any of us can not—if there is any lingering, denying, clinging feeling which the heart will not or can not deliver over at such a moment, let us tear that heart from our bosom if we can, and lift up our supplications to the Father above that he would send us another in its place, better fitted for the sight of Heaven and for the service and fellowship of man.
“Give us in our duties here but something of the spirit of the Roman father, who delivered up his son to the axe of justice because he loved his country better than his blood, or that of the gallant young officer of the Revolution, who was detected and executed while performing under the orders of his immortal chief the service of a spy. [Lieutenant Hale.] When led to the spot of execution, as he stood upon it and looked forth, for the last time, upon the smile of day, and upon the bright and benignant sun of Heaven as it beamed upon him, and felt the agony that all--all was gone, his young and hopeful and joyous nature involuntarily shrank, and he is said to have cried out with impassioned exclamations : ‘Oh, it is a bitter, bitter thing to die, and how bitter, too, to know that I have but one life which I can give to my country! Give us only this spirit for our work here; doubt not but that it will be approved of by our land, and be crowned with a long futurity of thankfulness and rejoicing."
The other scene was when, some ten years later, Owen Lovejoy, of Illinois, startled the House by one of those terrific explosions of eloquence so uncommon in these now formal times. It will be recollected that his brother had been killed by a proslavery mob at Alton, Illinois, some years before, simply for publishing an anti-slavery paper. He made this the text of his argument, and never was there a more thrilling or effective one. He was much affected, and his emotions affected others on both sides of the House. I regret I can not fix the exact date of this memorable display, to complete the parallel with the Virginia statesman and patriot.
They were eminently representative men. As orators they were most dissimilar. McDowell was tall and dignified; Lovejoy short, quick, and impetuous. McDowell's complexion was light; Lovejoy's dark as a Spaniard's, save in moments of excitement, when it fairly glowed. Had McDowell lived during the war he would undoubtedly have been a Secessionist, like all of his school; but his words are not less applicable to-day than they were in 1850. Lovejoy lived to see three years of war, and to enjoy the abolition of slavery, for which he had prayed and toiled. He preceded his friend, Abraham Lincoln, a little more than a twelvemonth. I knew him well. He was as generous as he was brave; as gentle as he was sincere. A devoted friend, a chivalric foe, he has left a record honorable to himself, his posterity, and his country.
McDowell died in August of 1851, in less than a year after his noble speech from which I quote, aged fifty-five. Lovejoy died March 25, 1864, aged fifty-three. They should have lived longer, but they lived long enough to leave thousands to mourn their loss and to revere their memory.
[March 2, 1871.]
JAMES BUCHANAN had, like most men, a few favorite anecdotes, which he was sure to reproduce to every new visitor who ate his excellent dinners and drank his nutty old Madeira. One of these related to President Jackson. It was a custom of Mr. Buchanan's enemies to say that he never had the entire confidence of Old Hickory. Certain it is he never had the support of Amos Kendall, Francis P. Blair, or Andrew J. Donel