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the situation of this continent, pronounced in a der of nations, and the Builder of worlds, that vein of poetic inspiration,
what then was prophecy, may continue unfold
ing into history—that the dearest hopes of the “Westward the Star of empire takes its way.” human race may not be extinguished in disap
pointment, and that the last may prove the Let us unite in ardent supplications to the Foun-I noblest empire of time.
CHARACTER OF LAFAYETTE.*
Pronounce him one of the first men of his practical existing model, in actual operation age, and you have yet not done him justice. here, and never attempted or wished more than Try him by that test to which he sought in vain to apply it faithfully to his own country. to stimulate the vulgar and selfish spirit of It was not given to Moses to enter the promised Napoleon; class him among the men who, to land ; but he saw it from the summit of Pisgah. compare and seat themselves, must take in the It was not given to Lafayette to witness the compass of all ages; turn back your eyes upon consummation of his wishes in the establishment the records of time; summon from the creation of a Republic, and the extinction of all herediof the world to this day the mighty dead of tary rule in France. His principles were in every age and every clime—and where, among advance of the age and hemisphere in which he the race of merely mortal men, shall one be lived. A Bourbon still reigns on the throne of found, who, as the benefactor of his kind, shall France, and it is not for us to scrutinize the title claim to take precedence of Lafayette ?
by which he reigns. The principles of elective There have doubtless been, in all ages, men, and hereditary power, blended in reluctant whose discoveries or inventions, in the world of union in his person, like the red and white matter or of mind, have opened new avenues to roses of York and Lancaster, may postpone to the dominion of man over the material creation; aftertime the last conflict to which they must have increased his means or his faculties of ultimately come. The life of the Patriarch was enjoyment; have raised him in nearer 'approxi- not long enough for the development of his mation to that higher and happier condition, the whole political system. Its final accomplishobject of his hopes and aspirations in his presentment is in the womb of time. state of existence.
The anticipation of this event is the more Lafayette discovered no new principle of certain, from the consideration that all the politics or of morals. He invented nothing in principles for which Lafayette contended were science. He disclosed no new phenomenon in practical. He never indulged himself in wild the laws of nature. Born and educated in the and fanciful speculations. The principle of highest order of feudal Nobility, under the most hereditary power was, in his opinion, the bane absoluto Monarchy of Europe, in possession of of all republican liberty in Europe. Unable to an affluent fortune, and master of himself and extinguish it in the revolution of 1830, so far of all his capabilities at the moment of attaining as concerned the chief magistracy of the nation, manhood, the principle of republican justice and Lafayette had the satisfaction of seeing it abolof social equality took possession of his heart ished with reference to the peerage. An herediand mind, as if by inspiration from above. He tary Crown, stript of the support which it may devoted himself, his life, his fortune, his heredi- derive from an hereditary peerage, however tary honors, his towering ambition, his splendid compatible with Asiatic despotism, is an anomhopes, all to the cause of liberty. He came to aly in the history of the Christian world, and in another hemisphere to defend her. He became the theory of free government. There is no one of the most effective champions of our Inde- argument producible against the existence of an pendence; but, that once achieved, he returned hereditary peerage, but applies with aggravated to his own country, and thenceforward took no weight against the transmission, from sire to part in the controversies which have divided us. son, of an hereditary Crown. The prejudices In the events of our Revolution, and in the and passions of the people of France rejected the forms of policy which we have adopted for the principle of inherited power, in every station of establishment and perpetuation of our freedom, public trust, excepting the first and highest of Lafayette found the most perfect form of gov- them all; but there they clung to it, as did the ernment. He wished to add nothing to it. He Israelites of old to the savory deities of Egypt. would gladly have abstracted nothing from it. This is not the time or the place for a disquiInstead of the imaginary Republic of Plato, or sition upon the comparative merits, as a system the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, he took a of government, of a republic, and a monarchy
surrounded by republican institutions. Upon • From Mr. Adams's oration on the life and character of La this subject there is among us no diversity of fayette, delivered before the Congress of the United States, opinion; and if it should take the people of December 31st, 1884.
France another half century of internal and VOL. 11.-17
externa. war, of dazzling and delusive glories; , whence it came; as a burdensome duty to be of unparalleled triumphs, humiliating reverses, discharged, and not as a reward to be abused ; and bitter disappointments, to settle it to their when a claim, any claim, to political power by satisfaction, the ultimate result can only bring inheritance shall, in the estimation of the whole them to the point where we have stood from French people, be held as it now is by the whole the day of the Declaration of Independence—to people of the North American Union-then the point where Lafayette would have brought will be the time for contemplating the character them, and to which he looked as a consumma- of Lafayette, not merely in the events of his life, tion devoutly to be wished.
but in the full development of his intellectual Then, too, and then only, will be the time conceptions, of his fervent aspirations, of the when the character of Lafayette will be appre- labors and perils and sacrifices of his long and ciated at its true value throughout the civilized eventful career upon earth; and thenceforward, world. When the principle of hereditary do- till the hour when the trump of the Archangel minion shall be extinguished in all the institu- shall sound to announce that Time shall be no tions of France; when government shall no more, the name of Lafayette shall stand enrolled longer be considered as property transmissible upon the annals of our race, high on the list of from sire to son, but as a trust committed for a the pure and disinterested benefactors of manlimited time, and then to return to the people kind.