« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Monday, July 22d. Clay has made his great speech, and the question stands as it stood before, and the world goes on as it did before, but it is said that Congress will soon be at an end.
Clay spoke from three to four hours, but his speech, which was in fact a summing up of the whole state and development of the question during the session, as well as a statement of Clay's own part in the affair, did not seem to make any great impression upon the Senate. A sentimental address to the members of Congress, bidding them to reflect upon what they, on their return home, should have to tell their wives and children about the position of their country, did not succeed at all, and called forth laughter, so likewise his warning to them to put aside all little-mindedness, all selfish impulses, &c., and for the sake of the welfare of the whole land to vote for the Compromise Bill; and this last deserved to fail, inasmuch as it represented that all opposition to the bill was alone the effect of base motives, which is not the case. I can not, nevertheless, but admire the athletic soul of this man, and his power as a speaker.
After having spoken for more than three hours with fervor and power, sometimes with emotion, disentangling clearly and logically the progress and state of this contested question, which had occupied Congress for seven months, he stood vigorous still, and ready for a little fencing-match, although with very keen weapons—those of sarcasm and joke-with Senator Hale, of New Hampshire, who, as usual, set the whole house in a roar of laughter. Clay showed himself, however, a' master in this art of fencing as well as Hale, but somewhat more bitter. Some of his attacks were so vehemently applauded from the galleries, that the vice-president, after repeated reminders of silence, angrily said that he should be obliged to clear the galleries if the audience would not attend to his words.
Clay will now leave Washington. The rejection of his Compromise question will cost him dearly. Opposition against him and his bill is strong at this moment; and he stands with his bill just as obstinately against opposition.
I set off in the morning with Miss Dix to Baltimore, where I remain a couple of days on my way to Philadelphia.
I leave Washington, and this phasis of the life of the New World will close itself forever to me. What have I seen? Any thing nobler, any thing more beautiful than in the national assemblies of the Old World ? No! Have I seen any thing new? No! Not, at least, among the gentlemen senators. The new has our Lord given in the world which he created, and upon the new soil of which contests arise, and in the prospects which are opened by the questions between Freedom and Slavery, into regions and amid scenes hitherto unknown, and which are, even now, frequently but indistinctly seen through mists. That which is refreshing and new is in the various characters of the states represented, especially in those of the vast and half-unknown land of the West, over whose wildernesses and paradises many different races of mankind wander, seeking for or establishing homes; in the prospects unfolded by the immense Texas, out of which five states might now be formed, where the Rio Grande and the Rio Colorado, and innumerable rivers flow through fertile prairies; by New Mexico, with its stony deserts, “el Slano Estuccado," where water is not to be found for twenty, thirty, or forty miles, but in whose “Valle de los Angelos” the heat of the tropics ripens tropical fruits; finally, by California, with its gold-bearing rivers, its Rocky Mountains full of gold, its many extraordinary natural productions, its Sierra Nevada with eternal snows, its great Salt Lake, on the borders of which the Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, have established themselves in an extensive valley, the fertility of which, and the delicious climate of which, are said to ri. val those of Caucasus and Peru--and where equally, with
in these regions, exist all the natural requisites for the development of a perfected humanity. California, the greatest of all the states of the New World, a new world yet to be discovered, full of beautiful sights and pictures of horror; where the people from the East and the West pour in, seeking for the gold of Ophir ! California, which for its eastern boundary has the wild steppe-land of Nebraska, the hunting-ground of the wild Indian tribes, and on the other side the Pacific Ocean— that great Pacific Ocean, whose waves are said to strike with such regular pulsation against the shore, and with such mighty power, that its thundering sound is heard to a great distance, and the air and the leaves of the trecs tremble far inland. Be. hold-all this and still more such-as the prospects open. ed by Panama and the regions of Central America, where the people of the United States are now digging canals and laying down rail-roads to unite the oceans—all this is a new and invigorating spectacle, and it is presented in the Congress of the United States. In the discussions, on the contrary, I see nothing new. I see in them the same bit terness and injustice between political parties as in the kingdoms of Europe; the same distrust of each other's honesty of purpose; the same passions, great and small; and in debate the same determination to carry their point, to have their rights, cost what it will; the same misunderstanding and personality, the same continual deviation from the thing itself to the person; the same irritability and impatience about the beloved I, which cause incessant provocations, outbreaks of temper, explanations and fresh explanations, and an infinite number of little quarrels in the infinitely prolonged progress of the great quarrel; and which make the great men, the representatives of great states, frequently like childishly brawling chil.. dren. And if it happen, in addition, that the state's representative is very touchy on the subject of the honor of his state, and is ready to boil up on the slightest allusion
seems to touch its credit, and especially as the states are not just now on the best terms with each other, it will easily be seen that occasion of quarrel will exist in double measure.
So much for the dark side of the Assembly. But neither is there light wanted on the other side, and it is, I believe, equally strong with that which the Old World can show. There is no lack of great-minded protests against darkness and selfishness; no lack either of greatminded appeals to the highest objects of the Union, or to the highest weal of humanity. The eagle sits upon the rock of the sea, and lifts his pinions, glancing now and then toward the sun, but he has not yet taken his flight toward it. Henry Clay resembles this eagle. Daniel Webster is the eagle which wheels round in the clouds, resting upon his pinions, but flying merely in circles around an imaginary sun—the Constitution. Neither of them possess that greatness which I admire in the greatest statesman of the Old World— Moses. The greatest statesman of the New World has not yet come.
But what might not this representation be if it answered its condition and its purpose; if the representative of each individual state, permeated by the peculiar individuality of his state, its natural scenery and popular life, and by the bond of its connection with the highest object of the Union, stood forth to speak thus for it in the Congress! Of a truth, then would the Congress of the United States become a magnificent drama, a spectacle worthy of gods and men !
July 25th. A cordial good-morning to you, my sweet Agatha, from a wonderfully lovely country seat, with a view commanding the outlet of the River Patapsco into Chesapeake Bay, near Baltimore. I am here with Miss Dix, a guest at General S.'s, on my way to Philadelphia. My host is a lively, cordial, clever, loquacious officer, whose wife is a beautiful, quiet woman, the happy moth
er of ten young children; they are evidently a happy mar. ried pair, with a good and happy home. I feel such immediately on entering the house.
Having taken the kindest leave of my hearty, good, and kind entertainers at Washington, and of my beloved Quakeress friend, I set off with Miss Dix, and an agreeable friend of the Downings, Mr. William R.; but it was a difficult and fatiguing day's journey, in the great heat and from many delays, in consequence of the road being broken up by the floods. I was enabled, however, to see some beautiful views of the Susquehanna River.
Late in the evening, I sat in the most beautiful moonlight alone with Miss Dix, on the balcony of General S.'s villa, looking out upon the gleaming river, the broad Chesapeake Bay, and listening to the story of her simple but extraordinary life's destiny. Among all the varying scenes of my life in this country, this was not one of the least interesting. I asked Miss Dix to tell me what it was which had directed her into the path which she now pursues, as the public protector and advocate of the unfortunate. I will tell you more of her narrative by word of mouth; now, merely the words with which she replied to my question regarding the circumstances which had decided her
" It was,” said she, “no remarkable occurrence, nor change in my inner or outer life, it was merely an act of simple obedience to the voice of God. I had returned from England, whither I went on account of my health, which had obliged me to give up the school which I had kept for several years, and I now lived in a boardinghouse, without any determined occupation, employing myself in the study of various branches of natural history, to which I had always been attached, but yet some way depressed by the inactivity of my life. I longed for some nobler purpose for which to labor, something which would fill the vacuum which I felt in my soul.