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as the world appreciates the elements of true greatness. Of mankind I say-for the landing on Plymouth Rock, on December 22, 1620, marks the origin of a new order of ages, by which the whole human family will be elevated. Then and there was the great beginning.
Throughout all time, from the dawn of history, men have swarmed to found new homes in distant lands. The Tyrians, skirting Northern Africa, stopped at Carthage; Carthaginians dotted Spain and even the distant coasts of Britain and Ireland; Greeks gemmed Italy and Sicily with art-loving settlements; Rome carried multitudinous colonies with her conquering eagles. Saxons, Danes, and Normans violently mingled with the original Britons. And in more modern times, Venice, Genoa, Portugal, Spain, France, and England, all sent forth emigrants to people foreign shores. But in these various expeditions, trade or war was the impelling motive. Too often commerce and conquest moved hand in hand, and the colony was incarnadined with blood.
On the day we celebrate, the sun for the first time in his course looked down upon a different scene, begun and continued under a different inspiration. A few conscientious Englishmen, in obedience to the monitor within, and that they might be free to worship God according to their own sense of duty, set sail for the unknown wilds of the North American continent. After a voyage of sixty-four days in the ship Mayflower, with Liberty at the prow and Conscience at the helm [applause), they sighted the white sandbanks of Cape Cod, and soon thereafter in the small cabin framed that brief compact, forever memorable, which is the first written constitution of government in human history, and the very corner-stone of the American Republic; and then these Pilgrims landed.
This compact was not only foremost in time, it was also august in character, and worthy of perpetual example. Never before had the object of the “civil body public ” been announced as “to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices from time to time as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony." How lofty! how true! Undoubtedly, these were the grandest words
of government with the largest promise of any at that time uttered.
If more were needed to illustrate the new epoch, it would be found in the parting words of the venerable pastor, John Robinson, addressed to the Pilgrims, as they were about to sail from Delfshaven—words often quoted, yet never enough. How sweetly and beautifully he says: “And if God should reveal anything to you by any other instrument of his, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth by my ministry; but I am confident that the Lord hath more light and truth yet to break forth out of his holy word.” And then how justly the good preacher rebukes those who close their souls to truth! “ The Lutherans, for example, cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw, and whatever part of God's will he hath further imparted to Calvin, they will rather die than embrace, and so the Calvinists stick where he left them. This is a misery much to be lamented, for though they were precious, shining lights in their times, God hath not revealed his whole will to them.” Beyond the merited rebuke, here is a plain recognition of the law of human progress little discerned at the time, which teaches the sure advance of the human family, and opens the vista of the ever-broadening, never-ending future on earth.
Our Pilgrims were few and poor. The whole outfit of this historic voyage, including £1,700 of trading stock, was only £2,400, and how little was required for their succor appears in the experience of the soldier Captain Miles Standish, who, being sent to England for assistance—not military, but financial-(God save the mark!) succeeded in borrowing—how much do you suppose?-£150 sterling. (Laughter.) Something in the way of help; and the historian adds, " though at fifty per cent. interest." So much for a valiant soldier on a financial expedition. [Laughter, in which General Sherman and the company joined.] A later agent, Allerton, was able to borrow for the colony £200 at a reduced interest of thirty per cent. Plainly, the money-sharks of our day may trace an undoubted pedigree to these London merchants. [Laughter.] But I know not if any son of New England, oppressed by exorbitant interest, will be consoled by the thought that the Pilgrims paid the same.
And yet this small people—so obscure and outcast in condition—so slender in numbers and in means—so entirely unknown to the proud and great—so absolutely without name in contemporary records—whose departure from the Old World took little more than the breath of their bodies -are now illustrious beyond the lot of men; and the Mayflower is immortal beyond the Grecian Argo, or the stately ship of any victorious admiral. Though this was little foreseen in their day, it is plain now how it has come to pass. The highest greatness surviving time and storm is that which proceeds from the soul of man. [Applause.] Monarchs and cabinets, generals and admirals, with the pomp of courts and the circumstance of war, in the gradual lapse of time disappear from sight; but the pioneers of truth, though poor and lowly, especially those whose example elevates human nature and teaches the rights of man, so that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth [great applause], such harbingers can never be forgotten, and their renown spreads coextensive with the cause they served.
I know not if any whom I now have the honor of addressing have thought to recall the great in rank and power filling the gaze of the world as the Mayflower with her company fared forth on their adventurous voyage. The foolish James was yet on the English throne, glorying that he had “ peppered the Puritans.” The morose Louis XIII,
, through whom Richelieu ruled, was King of France. The imbecile Philip III swayed Spain and the Indies. The persecuting Ferdinand the Second, tormentor of Protestants, was Emperor of Germany. Paul V, of the House of Borghese, was Pope of Rome. In the same princely company and all contemporaries were Christian IV, King of Denmark, and his son Christian, Prince of Norway; Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden; Sigismund the Third, King of Poland; Frederick, King of Bohemia, with his wife, the unhappy Elizabeth of England, progenitor of the house of Hanover; George William, Margrave of Brandenburg, and ancestor of the Prussian house that has given an emperor to Germany; Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria; Maurice, landgrave of Hesse; Christian, Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburg; John Frederick, Duke of Würtemberg and Teck; John, Count of Nas, sau; Henry, Duke of Lorraine; Isabella, Infanta of Spain
and ruler of the Low Countries; Maurice, fourth Prince of Orange; Charles Emanuel, Duke of Savoy and ancestor of the King of United Italy; Cosmo de' Medici, third Grand Duke of Florence; Antonio Priuli, ninety-third Doge of Venice, just after the terrible tragedy commemorated on the English stage as “ Venice Preserved ”; Bethlehem Gabor, Prince of Unitarian Transylvania, and elected King of Hungary, with the countenance of an African; and the Sultan Mustapha, of Constantinople, twentieth ruler of the Turks.
Such at that time were the crowned sovereigns of Europe, whose names were mentioned always with awe, and whose countenances are handed down by art, so that at this day they are visible to the curious as if they walked these streets. Mark now the contrast. There was no artist for our forefathers, nor are their countenances now known to men; but more than any powerful contemporaries at whose tread the earth trembled is their memory sacred. [Applause.] Pope, emperor, king, sultan, grand-duke, duke, doge, margrave, landgrave, count--what are they all by the side of the humble company that landed on Plymouth Rock? Theirs, indeed, were the ensigns of worldly power, but our Pilgrims had in themselves that inborn virtue which was more than all else besides, and their landing was an epoch.
Who in the imposing troop of worldly grandeur is now remembered but with indifference or contempt? If I except Gustavus Adolphus, it is because he revealed a superior character. Confront the Mayflower and the Pilgrims with the potentates who occupied such space in the world. The former are ascending into the firmament, there to shine forever, while the latter have been long dropping into the darkness of oblivion, to be brought forth only to point a moral or illustrate the fame of contemporaries whom they regarded not. [Applause.] Do I err in supposing this an illustration of the supremacy which belongs to the triumphs of the moral nature? At first impeded or postponed, they at last prevail. Theirs is a brightness which, breaking through all clouds, will shine forth with ever-increasing splendor.
I have often thought that if I were a preacher, if I had the honor to occupy the pulpit so grandly filled by my friend near me [gracefully inclining toward Mr. Beecher], one of my sermons should be from the text, “ A little leaven shall leaven the whole lump.” Nor do I know a better illustration of these words than the influence exerted by our Pilgrims. That small band, with the lesson of self-sacrifice, of just and equal laws, of the government of a majority, of unshrinking loyalty to principle, is now leavening this whole continent, and in the fulness of time will leaven the world. [Great applause.] By their example, republican institutions have been commended, and in proportion as we imitate them will these institutions be assured. [Applause.]
Liberty, which we so much covet, is not a solitary plant. Always by its side is Justice. [Applause.] But Justice is nothing but right applied to human affairs. Do not forget, I entreat you, that with the highest morality is the highest liberty. A great poet, in one of his inspired sonnets, speaking of this priceless possession, has said, “ But who loves that must first be wise and good." Therefore do the Pilgrims in their beautiful example teach liberty, teach republican institutions, as at an earlier day, Socrates and Plato, in their lessons of wisdom, taught liberty and helped the idea of the republic. If republican government has thus far failed in any experiment, as, perhaps, somewhere in Spanish America, it is because these lessons have been wanting. There have been no Pilgrims to teach the moral law.
Mr. President, with these thoughts, which I imperfectly express, I confess my obligations to the forefathers of New England, and offer to them the homage of a grateful heart. But not in thanksgiving only would I celebrate their memory. I would if I could make their example a universal lesson, and stamp it upon the land. [Applause.) The conscience which directed them should be the guide for our public councils. The just and equal laws which they required should be ordained by us, and the hospitality to truth which was their rule should be ours. Nor would I forget their courage and steadfastness. Had they turned back or wavered, I know not what would have been the record of this continent, but I see clearly that a great example would have been lost. [Applause.) Had Columbus yielded to his mutinous crew and returned to Spain without his great discovery; had Washington shrunk away disheartened by Brit.