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and the blessing upon Mount Gerizim. This injunction was faithfully fulfilled by his successor, Joshua. Immediately after they had taken possession of the land, Joshua built an altar to the Lord of whole stones, upon Mount Ebal. And there he wrote upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written in the presence of the children of Israel; and all Israel, and their elders and officers, and their judges, stood on the two sides of the ark of the covenant, borne by the priests and Levites, six tribes over against Mount Gerizim, and six over against Mount Ebal. And he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that was written in the book of the law.
"Fellow-citizens, the ark of your covenant is the Declaration of Independence. Your Mount Ebal is the confederacy of separate State sovereignties, and your Mount Gerizim is the Constitution of the United States. In that scene of tremendous and awful solemnity, narrated in the Holy Scriptures, there is not a curse pronounced against the people upon Mount Ebal, not a blessing promised them upon Mount Gerizim, which your posterity may not suffer or enjoy, from your and their adherence to, or departure from, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, practically interwoven in the Constitution of the United States. Lay up these principles, then, in your hearts and in your souls; bind them for signs upon your hands, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes; teach them to your children, speaking of them when sitting in your houses, when walking by the way, when lying down and when rising up; write them upon the door-plates of your house and upon your gates; cling to them as to the issues of life, adhere to them as to the cords of your eternal salvation. So may your children's children at the next return of this day of jubilee, after a full century of experience under your National Constitution, celebrate it again in the full enjoyment of all the blessings recognized by you in the commemoration of this day, and of all the blessings promised to the children of Israel upon Mount Gerizim, as the reward of obedience to the law of God."
GLIMPSES AT AN OLD MAN'S BUSY LIFE—FROM QUINCY TO
THE NATIONAL CAPITAL—THE PHILOSOPHER
DURING the summer of 1839, while at Quincy, Mr. Adams occupied some of his leisure in versemaking, notwithstanding he seemed to consider it a waste of his time to do so. To one of his many ardent admirers now appearing, Miss Sidney Pierce, of Chester County, Pennsylvania, he wrote at this time :—
"Fair maiden, my career on earth is run,
For I have wintered three score years and ten,
My term is closing, thine has just begun.
My thread of life from mingled yarn was spun,
And now from thee a nobler praise I 've won.
Of pure, bright, incorruptible renown;
More precious than Golconda's sparkling gem,
The hero's laurel, or the martvr's crown."
In November, he delivered a discourse on education at Braintree, and during this vacation he attended quite a number of festivals and celebrations, and was disgusted and put to shame by the eulogiums passed upon himself in his presence, a European custom which he hoped would never be tolerated or practiced in this country. He thought truly that this and the practice of giving " toasts" complimentary, and requiring responses, were coarse and unrefined, and led to the degradation of character. Public men of this day are not so particular on these points, and even in Mr. Adams's time this contemptible vanity was by no means scarce.
At the opening of Congress in December, 1839, after the hard struggle for organization, Mr. Adams was complimented for bringing order out of chaos by being again made chairman of the Committee of Manufactures, which had now, however, ceased to be an insult to him, as, the duties of that committee being merely nominal, he had leisure to follow his own inclinations.
Mr. Adams was again nominated for re-election to Congress, now by the Whigs; but he still persisted in taking no active part in the canvass. As he had before done, he addressed his constituents in writing on the political matters most concerning them. In the wonderful Presidential contest of 1840, he also declined to take any part, although invited to appear in the Whig interest in various parts of the country. He did not desire his acts to be misconstrued, and as he had never asked an office for himself, he could easily be consistent with his principles in refusing to ask for others.
At the end of the session he was more than usually despondent. "The continuance of the present Administration will," he said, "if accomplished, open wide all the floodgates of corruption. Will a change produce a reform? Pause and ponder! Slavery, the Indians, the public lands, the collection and disbursement of public moneys, the tariff, and foreign affairs, what is to become of them?"
Still the extraordinary proceedings of the political parties amazed and disgusted him. He wrote:—
"Electioneering for the Presidency has spread its contagion to the President himself, to his now only competitor, to his immediate predecessor, to the candidates, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, and to many distinguished members of both branches of Congress. The tendency of all this is to the corruption of popular elections both by violence and fraud. . . . One of the peculiarities of the present time is that the principal leaders of the political parties are traveling about the country from State to State, and holding forth, like Methodist preachers, to assembled multitudes, under the broad canopy of heaven. Webster, Clay, W. C. Rives, Silas Wright, and James Buchanan are among the first and foremost in this canvassing oratory; while Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Bureu, with his heads of Departments, are harping on another string of the political accordion, by writing controversial electioneering letters."
In reflecting with considerable asperity on the processes of elections here, Mr. Adams said they illustrated these mischievous facts and principles:—
"1. That the direct and infallible path to the Presidency is military service, coupled with demagogue policy.
"2. That, in the absence of military service, demagogue policy is the first and most indispensable element of success, and the art of party drilling the second.
"3. That the drill consists in combining the Southern interest in domestic slavery with the Northern riotous democracy.
"4. That this policy and drill, first organized by Thomas Jefferson, accomplished his election, and established the Virginia dynasty of twenty-four years; a perpetual practical contradiction of its own principles.
"5. That the same policy and drill, invigorated by success and fortified by experience, has now placed Martin Van Buren in the President's chair, and disclosed to the unprincipled ambition of the North the art of rising upon the principles of the South.
"And, 6. That it has exposed in broad day the overruling influence of the institution of domestic slavery upon the history and policy of the Union."
In nothing was the moral difference between the free and the slave sections of this country more clearly expressed than in the practice of dueling. Mr. Adams openly declared it to be the natural outgrowth and appendage of slavery. After the murder of Jonathan Cilley in this way, the feeling against dueling became greatly intensified, and the disposition to put it down was unusually strong in the North. There was, however, a very decided sentiment among the Southern members against the discussion of the subject in Congress. It was too intimately connected with its parent evil.
In the winter of 1840 Mr. Adams made one of his characteristically plain and caustic speeches on this subject, from which the following extract puts his own sentiments in sufficiently strong light:—
"Would you smother discussion on the dueling law? There is not a point in the affairs of this Nation more important than this very practice of dueling, considered as a point of honor in one part of the Union, and a point of infamy in another, with its consequences. I say there is no more important subject that can go forth, North and South, East and West; and I therefore take my issue upon it. I have come here determined to do so between the different portions of this House, in order to see whether this practice is to be continued; whether the members from that section of the Union whose principles are against dueling are to be insulted, upon every topic of discussion, because it is supposed that the insult will not be resented, and that 'there will be no fight.' . . .
"I was going on to say that the reason why I had brought this subject into the discussion is because it is most intimately