« PreviousContinue »
here, in the Senate, or elsewhere, to sneer at public merit, because it happened to spring up beyond the little limits of my own state, or neighbourhood: when I refuse, for any such cause, or for any cause, the homage due to American talent, to elevated patriotism, a sincere devotion to liberty and the country; or if I see an uncommon endowment of heaven; if I see extraordinary capacity and virtue in any son of the South-and if moved by local prejudice, or gangrened by state jealousy, I get up here to abate the tithe of a hair from his just character and just fame, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth! Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections-let me indulge in refreshing remembrance of the past-let me remind you that in early times no states cherished greater harmony, both of principle and of feeling, than Massachusetts and South Carolina. Would to God, that harmony might again return. Shoulder to shoulder they went through the revolution-hand in hand they stood round the administration of Washington, and felt his own great arm lean on them for support. Unkind feeling, if it exists, alienation and distrust, are the growth, unnatural to such soils, of false principles since sown. They are weeds, the seeds of which that same great arm never scattered.
Mr. President, I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts-she needs none. There she is-behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is her history-the world knows it by heart. The past, at least is secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill— and there they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, fallen in the great struggle for independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every state from New England to Georgia; and there they will lie for ever. And, sir, where American liberty raised its first voice, and where its youth was nurtured and sustained, there it still lives, in the strength of its manhood, and full of its original spirit. If discord and disunion shall wound it-if party strife and blind ambition shall hawk at and tear it-if folly and madness-if uneasiness, under salutary and necessary restraint, shall succeed to separate it from that Union, by which alone its existence is made sure, it will stand, in the end, by the side of that cradle in which its infancy was rocked; it will stretch forth its arm with whatever vigour it may still retain, over the friends who gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the proudest monuments of its own glory, and on the very spot of its origin.
Rai. Then wherefore?-and upon thy lofty brow Why burns the troubled flush?
Perchance 'tis shame.
Yes! it may well be shame!-for I have striven
Noting it thus. I have prepared
The means for thy escape.
What! thou! the austere,
The inflexible Procida! hast thou done this,
Deeming me guilty still?
It is even so.
Upbraid me not.
There have been nobler deeds
By Roman fathers done,—but I am weak.
Therefore, again I say, arise! and haste,
For the night wanes. Thy fugitive course must be
In silence, and for ever.
Let him fly
Who holds no deep asylum in his breast,
Art thou in love
With death and infamy, that so thy choice
And part me, with its dark remembrances,
Float in dim beauty through the gloom; but here,
Thy hopes are closed!
And what were they to mine?-Thou wilt not fly!
Why, let all traitors flock to thee, and learn
What high prerogatives belong to death.
Give shelter to our faults." When I am gone,
And they should be my own!
Storms which have rock'd the earth?-And shall I now
And plaything of the winds ?"-Look on me,
And tell me which is truth.
I will not plead.
I will not call th' Omnipotent to attest
My innocence. No, father, in thy heart
Pro. We will not part in wrath !-the sternest hearts, Within their proud and guarded fatnesses,
Hide something still, round which their tendrils cling
Sufficient to himself.
Yet, on that summit,
When with her bright wings glory shadows thee,
Yet might have soared as high!
Thou❜lt be remembered long.
No, fear thou not!
"Oh! not thus
Let me deem
I would not thus be thought of."
Now death has lost
His sting, since thou believ'st me innocent.
Pro. Thou innocent!—Am I thy murderer then? Away! I tell thee thou hast made my name
A scorn to men!-No! I will not forgive thee;
A traitor!-What! the blood of Procida
Filling a traitor's veins !-Let the earth drink it;
As death can make it.
Rai. Yet hear me !
No! thou'rt skill'd to make
E'en shame look fair. Why should I linger thus ?
[Going-he turns back for a moment.
If there be aught-if aught-for which thou need'st
Pro. 'Tis well.
I am prepared.
Men talk of torture !-Can they wreak
Upon the sensitive and shrinking frame,
Half the mind bears, and lives?—My spirit feels
THEN, by the mass, sir, I would do no such thing! ne'er a Sir Lucius O'Trigger in the kingdom should make me fight, when I wa'n't so minded. will the old lady say, when she hears o't?
Acres. But my honour, David, my honour! I must be very careful of my honour.
Dav. Ay, by the mass! and I would be very careful of it, and I think in return my honour couldn't do less than to be very careful of me.
Acr. Odds blades! David, no gentleman will ever risk the loss of his honour!
Dav. I say, then, it would but be civil in honour never to risk the loss of a gentleman. Lookye, master, this honour seems to me to be a marvellous false friend; ay, truly, a very courtier-like servant. Put the case, I was a gentleman (which, I thank my stars, no one can say of me ;) well-my honour makes me quarrel with another gentleman of my acquaintance. So, we fight. (Pleasant enough that.) Boh! I kill him; (the more's my luck.) Now, pray, who gets the profit of it? Why, my honour. But put the case, that he kills me! by the mass! I go to the worms, and my honour whips over to my enemy.
Acr. No, David, in that case! odds, crowns and laurels ! your honour follows you to the grave!
Dav. Now, that's just the place where I could make a shift to do without it.
Acr. Zounds! David, you are a coward! It doesn't become my valour to listen to you. What, shall I disgrace my ancestors? think of that, David; think what it would be to disgrace my ancestors!