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country's glory, for the timidity of the awe-stricken worshiper, either of Antiquity, or of that European Literature, whose laurels spring from the very principles, which we are cultivating, with more energy, assiduity and ardor than all other nations.
Why did Grecian surpass Roman Literature, in all the constituent excellencies of originality, energy and richness, of sublimity, beauty, and variety? To what causes shall we ascribe this superiority, but to THE FREEDOM AND POWER OF THOUGHT ? And whence did these arise, but from the popular institutions of Greece, from the mutual action and re-action, the national pride, and emulation, which influenced individuals and the sister States of the same political neighborhood? And do we not see, moreover, that the Literature of Greece was the child of her prime, whilst power, and glory, and liberty flourished; but the Augustan age of Rome was the offspring of her declining years, when the republic had perished, in form as well as in soul? Why did Italy excel Spain, in the same characteristics of literary merit? Why is there a force, a beauty, a variety, an originality of genius in the Fine Arts and in poetry, in Philosophy and History, which are unrivaled by the Spaniards, eminent as they are? Do we not trace the efficient causes, in that spirit, which once animated Venice and Genoa, Rome and Florence, and many of the small principalities in the North of Italy? Do we not discover them in the national pride and emulation of independent princes; in the comparative freedom, activity, boldness and enterprize, which marked the Italian people, at the jubilee of their literary glory? Why have the writers of Germany been superior to their gay and gallant neighbors of La Belle France, in the philosophical spirit, in the inventions of original thinking, though not in the graces of the artist; in the profound investigation of principles, though not in the critical application of rules; in various, solid and valuable learning; in the energy and enthusiasm, with which they have studied Man, whether as the subject of Religion or the end of civil society; whether as the object of philosophy, history or poetry? Shall we not assign as adequate causes, that the German States were the Patriarchal family of the Reformation; that the manner and habit, the love and obligation of intense study, and sound erudition, have been the common inheritance of their Universities: And that the character of their state of soci. ety, and political arrangements, has imparted more of pas
ture, energy and individuality, and, if I may venture the expression, more of romantic and picturesque beauty to their Literature! Why, indeed, have the Protestants of Germany left far behind them, in the Olympic Games of Science and Art, their brethren of the same national household, if it be not, that causes of peculiar, force, of flexible and diversified character, have exerted a commanding influence over the fortunes of the one, but have left untouched the destinies of the other? Why has Catholic France excelled Catholic Spain, in genius and taste, in literature and knowledge, in philosophy and history, in the theory and practice both of Arts and Sciences ? Was it not chiefly, because the
power and intelligence, the learning and enterprize of the Protestant party, though they had failed to reform France either in Church or in State, yet contributed pre-eminently to that warfare of minds and feelings, of thinking and reasoning, of opinions and sentiments, which made her EMPHATICALLY PROTESTANT IN SCIENCE AND LITERATURE?
Why, in fine, have the British Isles excelled the North and the South, the Middle and the West of Europe, in depth, comprehensiveness, and power of thought; in political Science, both practical and speculative; in all that regards the best interests of Man, as to religion, society and government; in the knowledge of human nature, individual and social; in the intellectual and imaginative sublime, whether of philosophy, eloquence or poetry; in a profound moral sympathy with the visible and invisible world; and in a beauty and pathos, which invest the writings of the Orator, Novelist and Poet, with an air of peculiar majesty, richness, simplicity and taste? What cause shall we assign for these phenomena, but the power of study, the freedom of thought, and the liberty, that lives and moves in their institutions? And why, did British Literature, during the reign of the third George, ascend the heights of fame, with a step, so bold and free ; with an air of such elegance, dignity, and grace? Why did her authors so pre-eminently excel in originality and variety : in reasoning, eloquence, and the knowledge of principles, theoretical and practical; in the power of thought, comprehensive, profound and acute; in sublimity and beauty ; in pathos, splendor, and richness ? Shall we not recognize, in our day, the mysterious agency, the uncontrollable working of causes, analogous to those, which created the gigantic literature of the age of Elizabeth ? The Reformation was the well-spring of thought and principles, at that period. Our Revolution of '76, is the fountain of living waters now. The war of life and death, waged by Philip the Second gave to the whole nation, unexampled concentration of effort, enthusiasm of sentiment, and fixedness of purpose; and an intensity of feeling, endued with all the holiness of martyrdom, all the self-devotion of patriotism, and all the energy of passion. And who can deny, that when the fountains of the great deep of the Moral world, were broken up by the French Revolution, a mightier power swayed British minds, profounder emotions swelled British hearts, and a spirit, unrivaled in decision of character, variety of resource, loftiness of motive, and inextinguishable ardor kindled alike in the Prince and the People, in the Warrior, the Statesman, and the Orator, in the Novelist and the Poet ?
What, though my country may never produce a Homer or a Virgil, a Phidias, or an Apelles ?—What, though Michael Angelo and Raphael, Tasso and Shakspeare may never have a rival in our land; yet have we already brought forth men, greater and better, wiser and more valuable, than the Poet, the Painter, the Statuary, and the Architect. Even at this day, have we done more for the solid, permanent, rational happiness of man, than all the Artists, that ever lived. One citizen, the fruit and example of institutions, virtuous, benevolent and peaceful, wise and free, is worth more to his family, his social circle, his country, than the clouds of Aristophanes, the group of the Rhodian Sculptors, or the transfiguration of Raphael. If the sons of Cornelia were her jewels, each citizen, free, educated, happy, is to America a pearl above all price.
The time is fast coming, when the wide-spread influence of moral wisdom, and of instructed common sense, shall assign to Poetry and the Fine Arts, a rank far below that, which they have held, from a singular concurrence of circumstances, in the judgment of the world. When this consummation shall have been fulfilled, the Poet and the Artist, however eminent, shall then be classed far, very far below the Statesman and Orator, the Philosopher and Historian. But let me curb the patriot feeling, which hurries me onward, from flight to flight, in contemplating the rich inheritance of our children, the glorious destiny of our country. Let me then pause, and gather up the moral, as it were, of all that has been said.
of the American Revolution is to the rights of Man, what the age of the Reformers was to his duties. This, republished the true principles of Christian liberty, obligation and happiness—that of natural right, of political and civil freedom. The Reformation of Luther laid the foundation of the rights of Man in Society. The Revolution of 1776 finished the superstructure of Religious Liberty.--The principles of the Protestant epoch remodeled the Church—those of the American æra—Society and Government. Daughters of the same divine parent, the Religion of the Bible, they have founded a new family among the nations. Whilst all Europe trembled, as with an earthquake, amidst the convulsions of the thirty years' war, the foundations of this new family were laid at Jamestown and Plymouth. Here, on these Western shores, savage and inhospitable, the infant state was born, unnoticed and unknown, like the child in Revelations, that was hidden in the wilder
Many a wild torre of Indian massacre swept over our childhood; and left behind it the desolate pathway of the whirlwind. Many a mountain wave from the battlefields of Europe rushed across the Atlantic; and garments rolled in blood were the portion of our youth. As the prime of life approached, the children of the outcast and wanderer arose, and fought on their own soil, by the side, and in the cause of the parent nation. The prime of life came, and the principles of the Reformation taught them, that Independence was a right and a duty, when civil and political liberty was invaded. The Gordian knot of colonial obedience was severed: a fierce struggle for the mastery ensued: and it pleased the Almighty, that the victory should be ours. That victory was a consequence, however remote--a triumph, however unlooked for, of the Reformation.
The spirit of inquiry, first principles, thinking, reasoning, were the very essence, the genius of the Reformation, in the age of Luther. The same were the essence, the genius of the Revolution, under Washington. The Protestant nations have surpassed all the rest of the European family in the depth and comprehensiveness, in the sublimity and beauty, in the richness and variety of their Literature and Science. Britain, the guardian angel of the liberty of Europe, the vanguard of civilization and freedom in the Old World,
“She, in the soul of Man, her better wealth,
And we, the only offspring nation ever bore, worthy of such an ancestry, we must not, we cannot, we shall not rest satisfied, with inferiority to English fame, in Science and Literature. The spirit of inquiry, first principles, thought, reasoning, these are the causes, which, under circumstances singularly felicitous, have made her in power and glory, in wisdom and virtue, in wealth, happiness, freedom and knowledge, the greatest of European States, whether ancient or modern. And the same causes shall enable us, still more fortunate in situation, at our appointed day of meridian excellence, to ascend a loftier hight of power and glory, of wisdom and virtue, of wealth, happiness, freedom, and knowledge, than England has ever attained. She has accomplished all, that a European people, subjects of a limited monarchy, can attain, under the transforming, regenerating influence of the Reformation. She is the Rome of the Modern World, but has far excelled the Imperial Republic of Antiquity. We shall accomplish still more, in effecting all, that an American people, citizens of a confederacy of Republics can perform, under the combined influence of the Reformation and of our Revolution. We shall be the Greece of the Modern World, unrivaled by the Literature of three thousand years. All, indeed that the system of the Reformers can bring to pass, our country, the only holy land of Religious liberty, the only promised land of political freedom, shall assuredly accomplish. Then shall OUR COUNTRY be-emphatically, pre-eminently—THE EMPIRE OF MIND, THE REPUBLIC OF LETTERS.