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and the honest discharge of the obligation which binds every man to the community. Those who have watched with solicitude the career of a public man thus regardless of personal elevation, and insensible to merely selfish impulses, will understand the mingled feelings of regret and veneration which this disinterested and self-disparaging conduct inspires. The reputation of a great man, earned by a life of usefulness, is, however, the property of the dation, and from the press, as the natural guardian of that part of the nation's property, much will be expected and required.
This is neither the place nor the occasion, for an elaborate tribute to Mr. Sergeant's character and services. It is as a public man especially that he is now looked to by the community with deep and increasing interest, and it is with a view to do justice to him in this respect, that this volume has been prepared. It is as little suited to the occasion, and to the ability of the publishers, to attempt to characterise his eloquence, as it has been developed in the legislature of the union. The same masculine intelligence and comprehensive grasp of mind, which originally gained for him professional distinction, enabled him at once on his entrance on a new sphere of action, to reach a high and proud eminence, which, in the course of a public life chequered by alternate triumphs and reverses, he has never abandoned, and which he will occupy so long as rich intellectual endowment, and consistent patriotism can be appreciated.
The American bar has always had, and always deserved, an exalted character; and it is to the public services of such men as John Sergeant and his illustrious predecessors
and contemporaries, mingling from nececessity as well as inclination, political with professional pursuits, that this reputation is to be attributed. The bar has supplied the most efficient defenders of our free institutions, and should the hour ever arrive when civil liberty, as we enjoy it, shall be threatened or endangered, it is to the American lawyer, conversant by habitual reflection with the eternal princiciples of liberty as applied to the rights of social man, that the patriot must look for effectual aid, and by his hand can alone be applied what Sir Edward Coke has called “the golden metwand” by which the right of the citizen is measured, and the authority of the government maintained. The active energies of humanity can never sink into “ the easy trance of servitude," while the beacons of the law burn brightly, and the restless eye of juridical vigilance is unclouded.
DELIVERED IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ON THE
TWENTY-FOURTH OF JULY, 1826, IN COMMEMORATION
FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS,
Time, in its course, has produced a striking epoch in the history of our favoured country; and, as if to mark with peculiar emphasis this interesting stage of our national existence, it comes to us accompanied with incidents calculated to make a powerful and lasting impression. The dawn of the fiftieth anniversary of independence beamed upon two venerable and illustrious citizens, to whom, under Providence, a nation acknowledged itself greatly indebted for the event which the day was set apart to commemorate. The one was the author, the other “the ablest advocate," of that solemn assertion of right, that heroic detiance of unjust power, which, in the midst of difficulty and danger, proclaimed the determination to assume a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth, and declared to the world the causes which impelled to this decision. Both had stood by their country, with unabated ardour and unwavering fortitude, through every vicissitude of her fortune, until “ the glorious day" of her final triumph crowned their labours and their sacrifices with complete success. With equal solicitude, and with equal warmth of patriotic affection, they devoted their great faculties, which had been employed in vindicating the rights of their country, to construct for her, upon deep and strong foundations, the solid edifice of social order and of civil and religious freedom. They had both held the highest public employ