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Then shall thy meteor glances glow,
And cowering foes shall sink beneath
That lovely messenger of death. . .
By angel hands to valor given,
And all thy hues were born in heaven.
Where breathes the foe but falls before us,
-J. RODMAN DRAKE.
LIBERTY AND UNION
I PROFESS, sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and the honor of the whole country, and the preservation of the Federal Union. I have not allowed myself to look beyond the Union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind; I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty, when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder.
I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depths of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counselor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering, not how the Union should be preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the poeple when it shall be broken up and destroyed.
While the Union lasts we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that, I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind !
When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union ; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds or, drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood. Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured ; bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as, “ What is all this worth ?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “ Liberty first, and Union afterwards”; but everywhere spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds as they float over the sea, and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart,“ Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable.”
- DANIEL WEBSTER.
Right and wrong, justice and crime, exist independently of our country. A public wrong is not a private right for any citizen. The citizen is a man bound to know and do the right, and the nation is but an aggregation of citizens. If a man should shout, “My country, by whatever means extended and bounded; my country, right or wrong !” he merely repeats the words of the thief who steals in the street, or of the trader who swears falsely at the customhouse, both of them chuckling, “My fortune, however acquired.”
Thus, we see that a man's country is not a certain area of land, - of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.
In poetic minds and in popular enthusiasm, this feeling becomes closely associated with the soil and symbols of the country. But the secret sanctification
upon his heart.
of the soil and the symbol is the idea which they represent; and this idea the patriot worships through the name and the symbol, as a lover kisses with rapture the glove of his mistress and wears a lock of her hair
So, with passionate heroism, of which tradition is never weary of tenderly telling, Arnold von Winkelried gathers into his bosom the sheaf of foreign spears, that his death may give life to his country. So Nathan Hale, disdaining no service that his country demands, perishes untimely, with no other friend than God and the satisfied sense of duty. So George Washington, at once comprehending the scope of the destiny to which his country was devoted, with one hand puts aside the crown, and with the other sets his slaves free.
So, through all history from the beginning, a noble army of martyrs has fought fiercely and fallen bravely for that unseen mistress, their country. So, through all history to the end, as long as men believe in God, that army must still march and fight and fall, recruited only from the flower of mankind, cheered only by their own hope of humanity, strong only in their confidence in their cause.
- GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS.
WHAT MAKES A NATION?
What makes a nation ? Bounding lines that lead
from shore to shore, That trace its girth on silent hills or on the prairie
That hold the rivers and the lakes and all the fields
between The lines that stand about the land a barrier unseen ?
Or is it guns that hold the coast, or ships that sweep
The flag that flaunts its glory in the racing of the
breeze; The chants of peace, or battle hymn, or dirge, or
Or parchment screed, or storied deed, that makes a
nation strong ?
What makes a nation? Is it ships or states or flags or guns
? Or is it that great common heart which beats in all
That deeper faith, that truer faith, the trust in one
for all Which sets the goal for every soul that hears his
country's call ?