« PreviousContinue »
Cleavé to the root, as with a ten years' drought,
0 thou, my country, may the future see
(Published in 1850.)
(EXTRACT FROM MR. MURDOCH'S LECTURES.) I FIRMLY believe Abraham Lincoln, our Chief Magistrate, to be earnest, honest, and truthful, and solely bent on serving the country for the country's sake. I also believe him to be imbued with unbounded faith in the justice of our country's cause, and with a never-failing hope that the efforts of his loyal countrymen throughout the length and breadth of the land, strengthened by the mercy and grace of Almighty God, will restore peace to the people and unity to the nation. In consideration of these truths, I have prepared, and will cause to be presented to the President of the nation, a memorial emblematic of the noble virtues of the people whom he represents, and of that trust in Providence by which his public acts have ever been impelled. I desire to bring to public remembrance, by the gift I have prepared, and which will be presented to Mr. Lincoln in behalf of the loyal men and women of America, some of those great national events upon which rests the true glory of our American Republic.
Among other mementoes fondly cherished, I have in my possession a piece of the Treaty Elm of William Penn, a part of the veritable keel of the old United States frigate Alliance, and a fragment of the flag-halliards of the noble ship Cumberland, lately lost in Chesapeake Bay.
In the form of an ornamental paper-weight, I have caused to be placed together these authentic relics of three great periods of our national history,—the treaty of William Penn with the aborigines, the unfurling of the flag of our Republic in '76, and the equally heroic defence of that flag against the formidable domestic treason with which we are now contending. This memento, though of but little intrinsic value, is to me, and I feel assured it will be to the President, of inestimable price, as a relic of our country's history, and a memorial of the many noble charities which have been established during the present war to aid the sick and wounded soldiers and their suffering families. The cheerful, bountiful, and laborious efforts of these truly humane institutions, aided, and in many instances inaugurated, by the ladies, present a grand and generous offering of a free people to the noble army of patriots whose stalwart arms and undaunted hearts are the bulwarks of the country. This offering was conceived and will be tendered in a truely Christian and patriotic spirit; and its record will forever remain to express the heartfelt sympathy and devotion which the American women manifest for their gallant defenders. It will ever prove how dear to them is the cause their soldiers bleed for, and how precious is every drop of blood shed and every pang endured by their countrymen. The sufferings of our army, and the sustaining sympathy of our noble countrywomen, have thrown around the nation and its starry. emblem a halo of religious sanctity, an atmosphere of selfsacrificing devotion, which will forever vindicate our patriotism from the sneers of foreign critics, and add an almost sacred glory to the history of republican institutions.
In order to revive in the public mind the recollections of the past, of old times and old things, and to connect them with the passing events of the present, I will here introduce a few words of comment and description regarding the articles which compose the mementoes I have prepared
First, a piece of the elm-tree which stood on the shores of the Delaware near the city of Philadelphia, under whose branches William Penn made his treaty with the Indians. The morning after the old tree had been blown down, about fifty years ago, my father, Lieutenant Thomas Murdoch, a resident of my native city, Philadelphia, cut a piece of the wood to keep as a memento of the locality and the event that had made it memorable.
Second, a piece of the wood of the keel of the old frigate Alliance, a ship whose log-book recorded triumphs and incidents as glorious as the achievements of any vessel in the navies of the world,
She carried the pennant of that old sea-king, Commodore Paul Jones, and bore the first American flag that was ever saluted in a foreign port.
My father (who, I am proud to say, commanded a volunteer battery in the War of 1812, and was a great venerator of every thing connected with the history of his country) was familiar with the story of the ship, and with the old hulk_which lay in the mud of Petty's Island, opposite the extreme northern section of Philadelphia, for nearly half a century. Fifteen years ago, or more, perhaps, the remains were removed, to make way for improvements; and my father caused the workmen to cut out pieces of the keel, which were found to be in good preservation, to add to his stock of relics.
Third, and last, a piece of the halliards of the flag of the frigate Cumberland, whose gallant defence against the iron-clad Merrimac has excited the wonder and admiration of the world. This relic was procured from the wreck and presented to me by Mr. George B. Coal, of Baltimore, a short time after the conflict.
These articles are wrought into a stand on which rests a miniature anchor with a coil of cable attached, forming an emblematical paper-weight.
The anchor, being the received emblem of faith and hope, suggested the appropriateness of the present to Mr. Lincoln.
The treaty-tree represents the colonial state of the country.
The war-ship, the struggle by which our forefathers established the present Government.
The shreds of the halliards, the foul conspiracy in the South to overthrow that Government.
The simplicity and truthfulness of the President's character, the peaceable and humble nature of his early pursuits, his manly and determined opposition to wrong, the firmness with which he took his stand at the onset of the rebellion, together with his hopeful dependence on the protecting arm of Providence, and his firm trust in the mercy and goodness of our Father in heaven,—all these traits of a just. and good man, holding the helm of state in a crisis involving the happiness and safety of all, point to him as the man of the nation most fitting at this moment to possess these emblems of the noble actions of his countrymen.
In order to throw around this present, so simple in itself, and yet so full of rich historic value, the charm of poetic enforcement and appreciation, I will call to my aid a poem whose sublime sentiment seems to me to be equally applicable to the country and to her honest and able Chief Magistrate, the immortal lines of our own poet and fervent advocate of truth, William Cullen Bryant:
“Ah, never shall the land forget
How gush'd the life-blood of the brave,
Upon the soil they sought to save.