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OUR COMMON SCHOOLS.
grave in which her energies lie entombed,
and cry aloud! Tell her that there was a time when the soul of a Briton would not bend before the congregated world; tell her that she once called her sons around her, and wrung the charter of her liberties from a reluctant despot's hand; tell her that she was the părent of the band of brothers that fought on Crispin's day; tell her that Spain sent forth a nation upon the seas against her, and that EngIland and the elements overwhelmed it; tell her that six centuries were toiling to erect the edifice of her constitution, and that at length the temple arose; tell that there are plains in every quarter of the globe where victory has buried the bones of her heroes;
"That the spirits of her fathers
Shall start from every wave,
For the deck it was their field of fame,
And ocean was their grave!"
Tell her that when the enemy of human liberty arose, the freedom of the whole world took refuge with her; that with an arm of victory, alone and unaided, she flung back the usurper, till recreant Europe blushed with shame ; tell her all this; and I say that the power of lethargy must be omnipotent, if she does not shake the dust from her neck, and rise in flames of annihilating vengeance on her destroyer.
For the reader of history, every hero has fought, every philosopher has instructed, every legislator has organized. Every blessing was bestowed, every calamity was inflicted, for his information. In public, he is in the audit of his counselors, and enters the senate with Peri-clés, Solon, and Lycurgus, about him; in private, he walks among the tombs of the mighty dead; and every tomb is an oracle. But who is he that should pronounce this awakening call? who is he whose voice should be the trumpet and war-cry to an enslaved and degraded nation?—It should be the voice of such a one as he who stood over slumbering Greece, and uttered a note at which Athens started from her indolence, Thebes roused from her lethargies, and Macedon trembled.
REV. CHARLES WOLFE.
XXVI. OUR COMMON SCHOOLS.
SIR, it is our common schools which give the keys of knowledge to the mass of the people. Our common schools are important in the same way as the common air, the common sunshine, the common rain, - invaluable for their commonness. They are the corner-stone of that municipal organization which is the char
acteristic feature of our social system; they are the fountain of that wide-spread intelligence which, like a moral life, pervades the country.
From the humblest village school, there may go forth a teacher who, like Newton, shall bind his temples with the stars of O-ri'on's belt; with Herschel, light up his cell with the beams of before undiscovered planets; with Franklin, grasp the lightning. Columbus, fortified with a few sound geographical principles, was, on the deck of his crazy caravel, more truly the monarch of Castile and Aragon, than Ferdinand and Isabella, enthroned beneath the golden vaults of the conquered Alhambra. And Robinson, with the simple training of a rural pastor in England, when he knelt on the shore of Delft Haven, and sent his little flock upon their Gospel errantry beyond the world of waters, exercised an influence over the destinies of the civilized world, which will last to the end of time.
Sir, it is a solemn, a tender and sacred duty, that of education. What, sir, feed a child's body, and let his soul hunger! pamper his limbs, and starve his faculties! Plant the earth, cover a thousand hills with your droves of cattle, pursue the fish to their hiding-places in the sea, and spread out your wheatfields across the plain, in order to supply the wants of that body which will soon be as cold and as senseless as the poorest clod, and let the pure spiritual essence within you, with all its glorious capacities for improvement, languish and pine! What! build factories, turn in rivers upon the water-wheels, unchain the imprisoned spirits of steam, to weave a garment for the body, and let the soul remain unadorned and naked! What! send out your vessels to the farthest ocean, and make battle with the monsters of the deep, in order to obtain the means of lighting up your dwellings and work-shops, and prolonging the hours of labor for the meat that perisheth, and permit that vital spark, which God has kindled, which He has intrusted to our care, to be fanned into a bright and heavenly flame, permit it, I say, to languish and.go out!
What considerate man can enter a school, and not reflect with awe, that it is a seminary where immortal minds are training for eternity? What parent but is, at times, weighed down with the thought, that there must be laid the foundations of a building which will stand, when not merely temple and palace, but the perpetual hills and adamantine rocks on which they rest, have melted away!—that a light may there be kindled, which will shine, not merely when every artificial beam is extinguished, but when the affrighted sun has fled away from the heavens! I
THE PEOPLE ALWAYS CONQUER.
can add nothing, sir, to this consideration. I will only say, in conclusion, Education, when we feed that lamp, we perform the highest social duty! If we quench it, I know not where (humanly speaking), for time or for eternity,
"I know not where is that Pro-me'the-an heat,
That can its light relume!"
XXVII. - THE PEOPLE ALWAYS CONQUER.
SIR, in the efforts of the people, of the people struggling for their rights, moving, not in organized, disciplined masses, but in their spontaneous action, man for man, and heart for heart,there is something glorious. They can then move forward without orders, act together without combination, and brave the flaming lines of battle without intrenchments to cover or walls to shield them. No dissolute camp has worn off from the feelings of the youthful soldier the freshness of that home, where his mother and his sisters sit waiting, with tearful eyes and aching hearts, to hear good news from the wars; no long service in the ranks of a conqueror has turned the veteran's heart into marble. Their valor springs not from recklessness, from habit, from indifference to the preservation of a life knit by no pledges to the life of others; but in the strength and spirit of the CAUSE alone, they act, they contend, they bleed. In this they conquer.
The people always conquer. They always must conquer. Armies may be defeated, kings may be overthrown, and new dynasties imposed, by foreign arms, on an ignorant and slavish race, that care not in what language the covenant of their subjections runs, nor in whose name the deed of their barter and sale is made out. But the people never invade; and, when they rise against the invader, are never subdued. If they are driven from the plains, they fly to the mountains. Steep rocks and everlasting hills are their castles; the tangled, pathless thicket their palisado; and nature, God, is their ally! Now He overwhelms the hosts of their enemies beneath his drifting mountains of sand; now He buries them beneath a falling atmosphere of polar snows; He lets loose His tempests on their fleets; He puts a folly into their counsels, a madness into the hearts of their leaders; He never gave, and never will give, a final triumph over a virtuous and gallant people, resolved to be free.
"For Freedom's battle once begun,
-WAR UNSANCTIONED BY CHRISTIANITY.
WHERE, sir, in what page of its records, does Christianity sanction war? Is it in the angels' song at the birth of Christ, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men"? Is it in the benediction promised by our Divine Lord on the peace-makers? Is it in his command to love our enemies, and, when smitten on one cheek, to turn, without resistance or revenge, the other to the offender? Is it, in short, in the whole genius and spirit of Christianity? Is it not strange that Christianity should have been eighteen centuries delivering its lessons in our world, and that men should be so ignorant of its nature and duties, as to need to be told that it is hostile to the spirit of war?
It is this propensity to hostility, on the part of so many who profess Christianity, that has alienated so many from it, and fostered the infidelity of the age. How often are we met with the taunt, that Christendom has been as deeply involved in this dreadful practice as the pagan and Mahometan nations. We deplore the fact; but we deny that it is sanctioned by the New Testament. Tell us not of the foul deeds that have been perpetrated in the name of Christianity;-that her princes have been ambitious, and her priests rapacious; that one has drawn the sword and unfurled the banner under the benediction of the other; and that both have met in the camp, the crusade, and the battle-field, covered with blood, and reveling in slaughter. The question is not what her sacred name has been abused to sanctify; but has it been performed by her authority, has it accorded with her principles, and been congenial with her spirit? Shall those who have violated her maxims, set at defiance her commands, despised her remonstrances, and stifled her cries, shall they be allowed to plead her authority in justification of their doings? Not only Christianity herself, but common honesty says, No.
I know very well there are four millions of men under arms in Europe; I know also what a seemingly petty incident may call all those to deadly strife; and it is quite possible, if not even probable, that a deadly struggle may impend. Still, the reign of peace is coming. Many a bright and beautiful day has been ushered in by a terrific thunder-storm, and while the thunders were rolling, day was advancing behind the cloud that sent them forth. Let Europe be again involved in battle and bloodshed, still here in this our congress is the dawn of the day of peace. Take courage, then, Christian brethren, in carrying on your paci
THE MOTHER OF EMPIRES.
fic schemes. Your children, or your children's children, may hear the last peals of war die away amid the shouts of universal peace, and see the commencement of the millennial period of general brotherhood, when Christians, blushing over the crimes of former generations, shall hasten to hide the memorials of their shame, and upon the anvil of revelation shall, with the brawny arm of reason, "beat the swords into plowshares, and the spears into pruning-hooks."
REV. JOHN ANGELL JAMES.
At the Railroad Celebration in Boston, September 19, 1851.
SIR, it is impossible to live as long as I have in America without entering very keenly into the feelings of pride and gratification with which Americans, and Canadians too, talk of their country. It is wonderfully progressing, and has wonderful resources. But when I hear boastful language indulged in, partaking of a tone somewhat disparaging as respects other countries, less advantageously situated, I cannot help thinking of an eloquent passage in the writings of my most eloquent friend, now no more, the late Dr. Chalmers, in which he refers to the simultaneous discovery of the telescope and the microscope. He dilates in gorgeous and emphatic language upon the vast lights shed by each in its respective sphere upon the beneficence, the wisdom, and the power, of the Almighty. So would I say to such a speaker as I have just referred to:
Sir, when you have satisfied your gaze by contemplating the magnificent scene spread out before you; when, with the aid of the telescope, you have scanned those mighty prairies which the plowshare has not yet broken; when you have cast your eye upon those boundless forests which the ax has not yet touched; when you have traveled over those extensive territories which are underlain by valuable mineral fields which the cupidity of man has not yet rifled; when you have gazed upon all these to your heart's content, just lay your telescope aside, and take this little microscope from me, and I will show you a little island, far hidden behind that Eastern wave; an island so diminutive that you might take it up bodily, and toss it into the lakes which lie between the Canadas and the United States, without filling them up; but which, nevertheless, was the source whence came forth the valor and the might which laid on this continent the foundation of empires.