Page images
PDF
EPUB

upon, and inclining, those who are instruments in his hand, to conduct these affairs. The war under contemplation, like other things, was begun by men; carried on by men; and terminated by men.

From motives of interest we can see, that the losing party, having no prospect of better success, would wish to put an end to the game which they had with ill founded hopes, and too little foresight, begun; but interested motives would have prompted to a different wish the party winning continually, and in a fair way to win all.

With all the corruption therefore, that there is in the English nation, and in the English court, we must grant, or be unreasonable, that there was some influence of heaven, to which the result, so favorable to us as a people, is to be attributed. Those who do not believe this might be inquired of why they obey the call of any magistrate of the nation, or of the state, to give thanks to God for this affair; for according to their scheme, Jehovah has had no more to do with it than Jupiter. That we ought to bring our thank offering to God for the blessing of peace is very apparent; and this blessing will appear the greater if we look back upon the war and consider some of its effects.

During the war, short as it was, thousands, it will never be known how many, came to an untimely end by the sword, or in some other manner. Whether we call the slain friends or enemies, they were our fellow creatures, immortal and accountable; taken from a state of probation to a state of retribution; and probably, many of them quite unprepared. If we take no interest in the fall of any who were not our countrymen, it may be said that thousands of them have fallen; and fallen not only into the dust, but perhaps into the pit, from which there is no rising, and in which there is no hope. Surviving friends are left in mourning; parents, widows, fatherless children, brothers and sisters; and other relatives, and connexions.

In some instances the sting of death has been peculiarly poignant in the heart of the living, in consequence of the circumstances attending it. What feeling mother do ou think can ever refrain from tears, when she recollects, that her son was shot, not in the field of battle; but on his own

parade; not by the hand of an enemy; but with the muskets of his fellow soldiers, reluctantly obeying the orders of their superiors; not for a crime of the deepest die; but for deserting; cold, hungry, and pennyless. Should we fall into company with such a mother, who must be indeed a woman of a sorrowful spirit, would she not spend a long evening of winter, in giving us an account of her journey to the camp; of the arguments, and entreaties, which she used, to procure a pardon for her incautious stripling; of the hard speeches which were returned, instead of compliance or condolence; and of the anguish of the parting scene, the last farewell!

While the generation now acting on the stage shall be living, our country will be patrolled by the poor, the mained, the halt, and the blind; whose names are on the pension list; whose scars of honor, and whose rewards for service, will be but a meager compensation for the damage they have sustained. Who, that has a whole body, could be persuaded to set a price upon his leg, his arm, or his eye; a price which he would take, and give up either, to any one who should ask it of him. Such remnants of themselves we have many of us seen, and if we have no pity for them, we should all be quite loath to be placed under the same disadvantages.

The pecuniary expense of the war is a matter understood by all classes of the people; and it is a burden, which if not felt equally, is felt universally. We are sensible of it in what we eat, and drink and wear. A few years since the debts of our country were diminishing so fast, that the diminution held a conspicuous place in every Presidential message. But, the millions which are now charged to our account, are so many, that all hope of ever being free is taken away from this generation. Tax gatherers are so many, and taxation is so heavy, that we shall be in danger of adopting the same mode of speaking which was common among the Jews, living under the Roman government, in the time of our Savior; who mentioned publicans and sinners, together, concluding that they must form but one class.

Reviewing the calamities of the war, we shall never forget that the seat of government, dignified by the name of our political Father, was reduced to ashes. Every one has pride enough to be mortified at the recollection of an affair attended with so much humiliation. We have it from high authority that nothing like to this had ever taken place before; when an army had entered an enemy's country and taken his capital. Without criminating or excusing, let the fact be stated as it was. In the fact as in a glass we see our own prostration,

We all know, who know any thing of public matters, what claims were set up by our government; and that the war was declared, and carried on, to maintain these claims; and we all know, who know thus much, that these claims were given up when the war concluded, and disappeared, as the light dies away when the candle burns out in the socket. Whether these claims were reasonable, or unreasonable, is not now made a question; but if they were reluctantly yielded, the sacrifice was great, on the part of those who claimed; and the triumph was great on the part of those who refused. Commercial and other privileges, which we had before the war, it must be granted we lost by the war; and if they should ever be restored, they could not be considered as conditions of the peace, for the treaty

peace contained no stipulation for their restoration.

Should you inquire how peace can be a blessing if all these things are true, I would refer you to the highest authority among us; I would beg you to ask the rulers of the nation, who know all these things to be true, why they regard peace as a blessing. Would they not tell you, that our independence is preserved; that our means, though diminished, are not all gone; and, that in a case of such extreme jeopardy as ours was, when every wave was a messenger of death, we ought to rejoice, if we can get safe to land; some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship.

If a peace with Algiers has been established, upon such terms as will free us, in future, from paying tribute to that piratical Power; and secure our countrymen from becoming captives in that land, where the barbarous people cast firebrands, arrows, and death, and say are we not in sport; it

of

is a matter which we ought to enter on the list of mercies, calling for gratitude at this time. It must be attributed to God, that our means at this day, have been equal to the conflict; for in former times, attempts made by the most formidable nations of Europe, against this nest of free booters have proved unsuccessful.

Our hearts must be very much depraved, if we do not rejoice in the general repose of Europe. Has there been any thing like the settled purpose, and the deliberate and harmonious movement of the nations at this time, to restore order where every thing was disjointed, and thrown back into chaos? Did not those conclude, who speculated upon passing events, taking what had been, as a rule to judge by of what was to be expected, that the confederacy, from mutual jealousy, would break up; that the bond of union would be a rope of sand; that the mountain in labor, would exhibit, at the most, but a puny production? But the result has been great and glorious; for the God of the armies of Israel was invoked, and the cause of a sinking world was put into his hands.

We are bound to condole with that nation in Europe which is suffering in consequence of the sentinels placed over her, and judged to be necessary, from the existing state of things.

If this had been a favorite measure with the nations of the Confederacy, it would have been earlier adopted; if they had wished to humble and break down France, they would have left an army there in the first instance before an experiment had been made, to see how the people would manage for themselves. This nation, long engaged in war, and victorious, must contain many restless spirits, to whom no government would be acceptable; which should cherish peace, and endeavor to curb the turbulent passions of an unholy nature. These restless spirits are the disturbers, and to them must be attributed all the evils to which the community is subjected. Those who are engaged in the common occupations of life must bear their part of the burden; and though they bear it impatiently, they are probably convinced, that the general good requires the present order of things. This is the nation, we are to remember, which for a course of years, has presented the bitter cup to all parts of the world, to which she could extend her arm. While we sympathize with her, we cannot forget the calamities which she brought upon Spain; Holland; and to say no more upon Europe generally. Let us consider her like a maniac who must be restrained to prevent his acts of violence upon others, and upon himself.

That military chieftain who has astonished the world, by his strides over it, and by his bloody thrusts upon it, has retired, a second time, to private life. May this arch seducer never again be seen in the bowers of paradise! May this hammer of the whole earth, never again be employed to dash in pieces the nations! May walls of water encompass the man whose ambition has been without bounds, until he shall know like the once haughty Nebuchadnezzar, that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will!

Should his exile prove like the captivity of Manasseh; should his cogitations in his solitary situation, be like those of Saul of Tarsus in Arabia; we would traverse land and sea to be witnesses to the wonderous change; to hear him, who has been a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, declare himself the chief of sinners, and extol the grace of God, for opening his eyes upon a new world, and for pointing out for him a new employment. In present circumstances, let us be thankful, that he has become weak as other men; that the crown has fallen from his head, and the sceptre from his hand!

In the consideration of mercies, let us call to mind that the earth has been caused to yield her increase, so that all our real wants may find a supply. Many times have our expectations been far exceeded, and our melancholy forebodings have been as groundles, if not as wicked, as the language of the unbelieving Samaritan lord, in a time of famine; or as the language of the complaining Israelites, who said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? We have had experience enough to show us the importance of that scriptural direction, In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not the hand, for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this, or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. If any from indolence, or distrust have left their fields untilled, that has been the conse

« PreviousContinue »