صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

STR

VIR, I have to say a few words about an accusation

which has been brought against those who speak in favor of universal amnesty. It is the accusation resorted to, in default of more solid argument, that those who advise amnesty, especially universal amnesty, do so because they have fallen in love with the rebels. No, sir, it is not merely for the rebels I plead. We are asked, Shall the Rebellion go entirely unpunished? No, sir, it shall not. Neither do I think that the Rebellion has gone entirely unpunished. I ask you, had the rebels nothing to lose but their lives and their offices? Look at it. There was a proud and arrogant aristocracy, planting their feet on the necks of the laboring people, and pretending to be the born rulers of this great republic. They looked down, not only upon their slaves, but also upon the people of the North, with the haughty contempt of self-asserting superiority. When their pretensions to rule us all were first successfully disputed, they resolved to destroy this republic, and to build up on the cornerstone of slavery an empire of their own in which they could hold absolute sway. They made the attempt with the most overweeningly confident expectation of certain victory. Then came the Civil War, and after four years of struggle their whole power and pride lay shivered to atoms at our feet, their sons dead by tens of thousands on the battle-fields of this country, their fields and their homes devastated, their fortunes destroyed; and more than that, the whole social system in which they had their being, with all their hopes and pride, utterly wiped out; slavery forever abolished, and the slaves themselves created a political

power before which they had to bow their heads, and they, broken, ruined, helpless, and hopeless in the dust before those upon whom they had so haughtily looked down as their vassals and inferiors. Sir, can it be said that the Rebellion has gone entirely unpunished?

You may object that the loyal people, too, were subjected to terrible sufferings; that their sons, too, were slaughtered by tens of thousands; that the mourning of countless widows and orphans is still darkening our land; that we are groaning under terrible burdens which the Rebellion has loaded upon us, and that therefore part of the punishment has fallen upon the innocent. And it is certainly true.

But look at the difference. We issued from this great conflict as conquerors; upon the graves of our slain we could lay the wreath of victory; our widows and orphans, while mourning the loss of their dearest, still remember with proud exultation that the blood of their husbands and fathers was not spilled in vain; that it flowed for the greatest and holiest and at the same time the most victorious of causes; and when our people labor in the sweat of their brow to pay the debt which the Rebellion has loaded upon us, they do it with the proud consciousness that the heavy price they have paid is infinitely overbalanced by the value of the results they have gained: slavery abolished; the great American Republic purified of her foulest stain; the American people no longer a people of masters and slaves, but a people of equal citizens; the most dangerous element of disturbance and disintegration wiped out from among us; this country put upon the course of harmonious development, greater, more beautiful, mightier than ever in its self-conscious power. And

thus, whatever losses, whatever sacrifices, whatever sufferings we may have endured, they appear before us in a blaze of glory.

But how do the Southern people stand there? All they have sacrificed, all they have lost, all the blood they have spilled, all the desolation of their homes, all the distress that stares them in the face, all the wreck and ruin they see around them-all for nothing, all for a wicked folly, all for a disastrous infatuation; the very graves of their slain nothing but monuments of a shadowy delusion; all their former hopes vanished forever; and the very magniloquence which some of their leaders are still indulging in, nothing but a mocking illustration of their utter discomfiture! Ah, sir, if ever human efforts broke down in irretrievable disaster, if ever human pride was humiliated to the dust, if ever human hopes were turned into despair, there you behold them.

Copyright, Lee & Shepard. Reprinted with permission. By WENDELL PHILLIPS. HOME men look upon this temperance cause as

whining bigotry, narrow asceticism, or a vulgar sentimentality, fit for little minds, weak women, and weaker men. On the contrary, I regard it as second only to one or two others of the primary reforms of this age, and for this reason. Every race has its peculiar temptation; every clime has its specific sin. The tropics and tropical races are tempted to one form of sensuality; the colder and temperate regions, and our Saxon blood, find their peculiar temptation in the stimulus of drink and food. In old times our heaven was a drunken revel. We relieve ourselves from the over-weariness of constant and exhausting toil by intoxication. Science has brought a cheap means of drunkenness within the reach of every individual. National prosperity and free institutions have put into the hands of almost every workman the means of being drunk for a week on the labor of two or three hours. With that blood and that temptation, we have adopted democratic institutions, where the law has no sanction but the purpose and virtue of the masses. The statutebook rests not on bayonets, as in Europe, but on the hearts of the people. A drunken people can never be the basis of a free government. It is the corner-stone neither of virtue, prosperity, nor progress. therefore, the title deeds of whose estates and the safety of whose lives depend upon the tranquillity of the streets, upon the virtue of the masses, the presence of any vice which brutalizes the average mass of mankind, and tends to make it more readily the tool of

To us,

intriguing and corrupt leaders, is necessarily a stab at the very life of the nation. Against such a vice is marshalled the Temperance Reformation. That my sketch is no mere fancy picture, every one of you knows. Every one of you can glance back over your own path, and count many and many a one among those who started from the goal at your side, with equal energy and perhaps greater promise, who has found a drunkard's grave long before this. The brightness of the bar, the ornament of the pulpit, the hope and blessing and stay of many a family,-you know, every one of you who has reached middle life, how often on your path you set up the warning, "Fallen before the temptations of the streets !" Hardly one house in this city, whether it be full and warm with all the luxury of wealth, or whether it find hard, cold maintenance by the most earnest economy, no matter which,-hardly a house that does not count, among sons or nephews, some victim of this vice. The skeleton of this warning sits at every board. The whole world is kindred in this suffering. The country mother launches her boy with trembling upon the temptations of city life; the father trusts his daughter anxiously to the young man she has chosen, knowing what a wreck intoxication may make of the house-tree they set up.

Alas! how often are their worst forebodings more than fulfilled! I have known a case--and probably many of you can recall some almost equal to it-where one worthy woman could count father, brother, husband, and son-in-law, all drunkards,-no man among her near kindred, except her son, who was not a victim of this vice. Like all other appetites, this finds resolution weak when set

« السابقةمتابعة »