« AnteriorContinuar »
the opposition has been distinguished, amidst all its veerings and changes, by another inflexible feature, the application to Bonaparte of every vile and opprobrious epithet, our language, copious as it is in terms of vituperation, affords. He has been compared to every hideous monster, and beast, from that mentioned in the revelations, down to the most insignificant quadruped. He has been called the scourge of mankind, the destroyer of Europe, the great robber, the infidel, the modern Attila, and heaven knows by what other names. Really, gentlemen remind me of an obscure lady, in a city not very far off, who also took it into her head, in conversation with an accomplished French gentleman, to talk of the affairs of Europe. She too spoke of the destruction of the balance of power, stormed and raged about the insatiable ambition of the emperor; called him the curse of mankind, the destroyer of Europe. The Frenchman listened to her with perfect patience, and when she had ceased, said to her, with ineffable politeness; “ Madam, it would give my master, the emperor, infinite pain, if he knew how hardly you thought of him.” Sir, gentlemen appear to me to forget that they stand on American soil; that they are not in the British house of commons, but in the chamber of the House of Representatives of the United States; that we have nothing to do with the affairs of Europe, the partition of territory and sovereignty there, except so far as these things affect the interests of our own country. Gentlemen transform themselves into the Burkes, Chathams and Pitts of another country, and forgetting from honest zeal the interests of America, engage with European sensibility in the discussion of European interests. If gentlemen ask me, whether I do not view with regret and horror the concentration of such vast power in the hands of Bonaparte-I reply that I do. I regret to see the emperor of China holding such immense sway over the fortunes of millions of our species. I regret to see Great Britain possessing so un
controlled a command over all the waters of our globe. If I had the ability to distribute among the nations of Europe their several portions of power and of sovereignty, I would say that Holland should be resuscitated, and given the weight she enjoyed in the days of her De Witts. I would confine France within her natural boundaries, the Alps, Pyrenees and the Rhine, and make her a secondary naval power only. I would abridge the British maritime power, raise Prussia and Austria to their original condition, and preserve the integrity of the empire of Russia. But these are speculations. I look at the political transactions of Europe, with the single exception of their possible bearing upon us, as I do at the history of other countries, or other times. I do not survey them with half the interest that I do the movements in South Ameri
Our political relation with them is much less important than it is supposed to be. I have no fears of French or English subjugation. If we are united, we are too powerful for the mightiest nation in Europe, or all Europe combined. If we are separated and torn asunder, we shall become an easy prey to the weakest of them. In the latter dreadful contingency, our country will not be worth preserving.
Next to the notice which the opposition has found itself called upon to bestow upon the French emperor, a distinguished citizen of Virginia, formerly President of the United States, has never for a moment failed to receive their kindest and most respectful attention. An honorable gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Quincy,) of whom I am sorry to say, it becomes necessary for me, in the course of my remarks, to take some notice, has alluded to him in a remarkable manner. Neither his retirement from public office, his eminent services, nor his advanced age, can exempt this patriot from the coarse assaults of party malevolence. No, sir, in 1801, he snatched from the rude hand of usurpation the violated constitution of his country, and that is his crime. He preserved that instrument in form,
and substance, and spirit, a precious inheritance for generations to come, and for this he can never be forgiven. How vain and impotent is party rage directed against such a man! He is not more elevated by his lofty residence upon the summit of his own favorite mountain, than he is listed, by the serenity of his mind and the consciousness of a well spent life, above the malignant passions and bitter feelings of the day. No! his own beloved Monticello is not more moved by the storms that beat against its sides, than is this illustrious man, by the howlings of the whole British pack set loose from the Essex kennel! When the gentleman, to whom I have been compelled to allude, shall have mingled his dust with that of his abused an. cestors; when he shall have been consigned to oblivion, or if he lives at all, shall live only in the treasonable annals of a certain junto; the name of Jefferson will be hailed with gratitude, his memory honored and cherished as the second founder of the liberties of the people, and the period of his administration will be looked back to, as one of the happiest and brightest epochs of American history--an Oasis in the midst of a sandy desert. But I beg the gentleman's pardon; he has indeed secured to himself a more imperishable fame than I had supposed : I think it was about four years ago that he submitted to the House of Representatives, an initiative proposition for an impeachment of Mr. Jefferson. The House condescended to consider it. The gentleman debated it with his usual temper, moderation and urbanity. The House decided upon it in the most solemn manner, and, although the gentleman had some how obtained a second, the final vote stood, one for, and one hundred and seventeen against the proposition! The same historic page that transmitted to posterity the virtue and the glory of Henry the Great, of France, for their admiration and example, has preserved the infamous name of the fanatic assassin of that excellent monarch. The same sacred pen that portrayed the sufferings and crucifixion
of the Saviour of mankind, has recorded, for universal execration, the name of him who was guilty, not of betraying his country, (but a kindred crime,) of betraying his God.
In one respect there is a remarkable difference between the administration and the opposition; it is in a sacred regard for personal liberty. When out of power my political friends condemned the surrender of Jonathan Robbins; they opposed the violation of the freedom of the press in the sedition law; they opposed the more insidious attack upon the freedom of the person under the imposing garb of an alien law. The party now in opposition, then in power, advocated the sacrifice of the unhappy Robbins, and passed those two laws. True to our principles, we are now struggling for the liberty of our seamen against foreign oppression. True to theirs, they oppose a war undertaken for this object. They have, indeed, lately affected a tender solicitude for the liberties of the
people, and talk of the danger of standing armies, and the burden of taxes. But it must be evident to you, Mr. Chairman, that they speak in a foreign idiom. Their brogue evinces, that it is not their vernacular tongue. What! the opposition, who in 1798 and 1799, could raise an useless army to fight an enemy three thousand miles distant from us, alarmed at the existence of one raised for a known and specified object-the attack of the adjoining provinces of the enemy! What! the gentleman from Massachusetts, who assisted by his vote to raise the army of twenty-five thousand, alarmcd at the danger of our liberties from this very army!
But, sir, I must speak of another subject, which I never think of but with feelings of the deepest awe. The gentleman from Massachusetts, in imitation of some of his predecessors of 1799, has entertained us with a picture of cabinet plots, presidential plots, and all sorts of plots which have been engendered by the diseased state of the gentleman's imagination. I wish, sir, that another plot of a much more serious and alarming character-a plot that aims at the dismemberment of our union, had only the same imaginary existence. But no man, who has paid any attention to the tone of certain prints, and to transactions in a particular quarter of the union, for several years past, can doubt the existence of such a plot. It is far, very far from my intention to charge the opposition with such a design. No, I believe them generally incapable of it. But I cannot say as much for some, who have been unworthily associated with them in the quarter of the union to which I have referred. The gentleman cannot have forgotten his own sentiment, uttered even on the floor of this House,“ peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must;” nearly at the very time Henry's mission to Boston was undertaken. The flagitiousness of that embassy has been attempted to be concealed, by directing the public attention to the price which, the gentleman says, was given for the disclosure. As if any price could change the atrociousness of the attempt on the part of Great Britain, or could extenuate, in the slightest degree, the offence of those citizens, who entertained and deliberated upon a proposition so infamous and unnatural! There is a most remarkable coincidence between some of the things which that man states, and certain events in the quarter alluded to. In the contingency of war with Great Britain, it will be recollected, that the neutrality and eventual separation of that section of the union was to be brought about. How, sir, has it happened, since the declaration of war, that British officers in Canada have asserted to American officers, that this very neutrality would take place? That they have so asserted can be established beyond controversy. The project is not brought forward openly, with a direct avowal of the intention. No, the stock of good sense and patriotism in that portion of the country is too great to be undisguisedly encountered. It is assailed from the masked batteries of friendship, of peace and commerce on the one side,