Page images

cured, as humanity suggested-as a wise policy dictated, or rendered expedient,

EMPERORS and monarchs are great in their own dominions only-strip them of their robes of royalty—their diadem-their sceptre the pageantry and pomp of power, and thousands of their subjects are their superiors. Not so the pre-eminent chief whose loss we now deplore "None but himself was his parallel"-Trace his illustrious actions from the embattled plain, where he was so gloriously distinguished, to the presidential chair of the nation, whose affections he so amply commanded, and they were uniform as they were great. We find him in all, the first and bravest of soldiers the ablest and greatest of statesmen the wisest and best of citizens. Elevated without pride-great without ambition-superior without ostentation like the finest vernal day, he was praised by all, and by all unenvied. Conqueror of himself, and always prepared for the invisible event, no difficulties deterred-no dangers alarmed him. Brave without temerity, he knew when to check the ardor of conquest the fire of enthusiasm. Deliberate without passion, he could coolly see, and avail himself of the great-the inportant moment when fortune herself, yielding to his matchless caution, acknowledged his superiority. Pious and exemplary, no fastidious parade, no rigid distance marked his character. The high standard by which his exalted worth was measured, was known to all but himself. He ascribed to heaven, what conquerors generally arrogate to themselves-victory.

"WISDOM his guide, and providence his trust" he felt not the ordinary motives that have actuated most heroes of antient and modern times. He fought, not for triumph, but for his country. He gave not the rich emolument of his toils and long career of military life, in securing her independence, for the poor applause of vulgar fame-he magnanimously gave themand those emoluments were dearly earned. As midnight vigils kept-daily and hourly fatigue-thought profound and silentcontributions made to his country in its hour of utmost need'as first in every danger-last to seek his safety, and all his gal、 lant exploits, can well attest.


WHAT must have been the anguish, the trying conflict of a mind like his, at the awful crisis, when the fate of the nation was suspended, as it were, by a single thread-at the crisis which was to decide the independence of his country, or to have rivetted her chains, perhaps, for ever! What must have been his feelings, after the just renown he had gained, when he had conquered, and a part of his army forgetting discipline, inflamed and irritated, would have destroyed or sullied the independence, he and his brave comrades had atchieved? What must he have felt when he laid down his command, and bade his fellow-soldiers, his victorious troops, a long, a last adieu?—And, above all, how great-how more than great, and heroic beyond example, must he have been, when, but a year before his existence was to close, he again exchanged the plough-share for the sword, and forgetting age, ease and repose, and the tranquillity so justly due to the evening of a life that had been passed as his was, in the deep scenes of the cabinet and the dangerous hazards of the field, when clouds of dark, portentous import, menaced his country-voluntarily to accept the first military command, and once more, should the councils of his nation so will it, to encounter all the perils, turmoils and vicissitudes of doubtful war!

SCARCELY a river that rolls through our immense territory, but boasts some great exploit of our hero. The wild, rich streams of the Monongahela first watered the laurel, that adorned, the youthful warrior's brow. When the savage yell, dread herald of death, struck with panic all but himself!-his general slain his legions routed this beardless champion-cool and collected, to safety led, through slaughtered heaps, the scanty relicts of a brave, but devoted army.

THE rocky clifts of the Brandywine, where retreat was more glorious than victory, thickened those laurels. Then pondering on the sure destruction of his presuming foe-scarce-a month had elapsed before his conquerors trembled and retired, subdued before his superior genius. When he advanced, it was with the cool resolution of the first Cæsar-when he retreated, it was with the wise policy of a Fabius.

[ocr errors]

THE lofty, full flowing Delaware, when icy torrents menaced death to all that approached, he with his little cohort braving every danger, sharing in every toil and fatigue, and at that great crisis, when all was at stake--when a disappointed, wornout army complained-when desertion thinned every rank-Yes! the Delaware can tell how then he defied her dangers how he passed her rapid cataracts-how he boldly led his handful of troops to conquest and to fame.

THE Raritan, that arrested the flying enemy and checked his retreat, swells with pride when she relates how a gallant veteran army retired before him. This, Columbia, was thy proudest moment then revived a drooping nation's spirit-then her pulse, new strung, beat afresh to patriotism and independence.

BUT shall the iron-bound Hudson be silent? She who beheld an infant army, like Hercules in his cradle, attacking every foe, and defeated by none. United mercenaries and the gallant British, all opposing--yet still invincible. Yes, on her hardy margin, in letters never to be erased, is a Washington's glory, and his nation's courage for ever recorded.

THE majestic Chesapeake sealed and immortalized his valor, his martial fame. The flower of Britain's army commanded by her bravest general-the mighty conqueror of the east, there laid at Washington's feet, the brilliant trophies, for ages heaped together. Then independence stood erect, and taking her mighty champion by the hand-" This," said she, is my hero-immortality I have given him. Engrave it, Americans, on your hearts his valor has saved you-his wisdom and example, if you regard them, will forever secure you from foreign invasion-from domestic convulsion."

HERE I should pause, and leave, to the concise eloquence of a Lee, the bold elocution of a Morris, the manly and nervous style of a Jackson, and superior abilities of many others of equal celebrity, his companions in war and in the cabinet, more particularly to delineate his splendid actions in the field-his vast decisions in council! those his cotemporaries, can best describe

the great atchievements that marked his life. How, with a handful of new, undisciplined soldiers, he performed prodigies of genius and courage. When utmost difficulties surrounded, how his great soul surmounted them. How undismayed he was by superior numbers. How his valor encouraged, his example animated, and his wisdom fortified his little army against an assailing, powerful foe. How, in a conflict, when civil war menaced his country, when brother unsheathed the sword against brother, when opinion almost equally vibrated,—how he united, conciliated and conquered.

MERIT so appropriate virtues so uncommon and rare are the rich inheritance, that this great man bequeathed to his country-let us cherish it-let us consider and prize it as the first, the most inestimable, of public blessings.

WHILE patriotism, in pensive sorrow, mourns her loss, she impresses on her sons, this consolatory lesson, that millions yet unborn, will retrace the annals of this her greatest championand read in his history a nation's glory-a nation's happiest refuge, the rich depository of virtues formed in so peculiar a manner, as to give, to genuine liberty, her only chance of gaining and preserving her greatest conquest-of enthroning her in a grateful people's hearts-of placing her on the everlasting basis of an equal, a representative and an energétic government,-a government from which oppression flies-one to which misery and persecution resort, as to their last and safest asylum, and where religion, morality and law, are the only directories to public virtue and to private happiness.

ERECT and sublime, fate itself could not subdue him. In hin, the pangs of dissolution were lost. At the awful moment of death, when human nature bursting her fondest dearest bonds and heaving with convulsive agonies, instinctively shrinks and is appalled-we behold this god-like man, unmovedcalm as in the hour of tranquil health. Though solicited to live by all that could render life most desirable, the allurements of friendship and opulence-every domestic elegance and comfort-his country's gratitude and lovea govern


ment of his choice-and, above all, the luxurious retrospect of
a life that had discharged every moral, social and religious duty-
a life devoted to, and spent in the performance of, the greatest
and noblest actions, he descended to the grave without a sigh.
Wonderful man! immortal hero! thou art gone, but the wide-
spreading mantle of sympathy and sorrow, wet with the tears of
patriotism and virtue, still remains, and so long as patriotism
and virtue hold a place on earth, thy laurels will never fade-
thy name will never-never be forgotten.

"No hope to live in the world's memory,
"The marble featur'd into "likeness"
"Th' eternizing brass, inscribing fame;
No, not the wonder of a future age.
"No motive striking on the pride of man,
"No ostentation swelled within his
"But undistinguish'd benefit to all,
"And his first, last, great care--

[ocr errors]

Oration on the death of lieutenant-general GEORGE WASHINGTON, late president of the United States; delivered in St. Michael's church, at the request of the inhabitants of Charleston, South-Carolina- By DAVID RAMSAY, M. D.

[ocr errors]

F ever any country owed to one of its citizens an incalculable debt of gratitude-that country is the United States-that citizen was the late GEORGE WASHINGTON. To do justice to his exalted merit, far exceeds my abilities. In making the attempt, I must surely fail, for none could succeed. I not only crave, but claim your indulgence. The task on which I am entering is of your appointment, and it is of such a delicate and arduous nature, that to its proper execution, not only my feeble powers, but the first abilities in the world, would be inadequate.

On the 11th of February, 1732, Virginia had the honor of giving birth to the illustrious man, whose death we this day de

« PreviousContinue »