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WEBSTER'S MASTER-PIECE

AS

A DEDICATORY ORATOR.

BUNKER HILL MONUMENT.

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

At the time he was called upon to deliver the address at the laying of the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument, Mr. Webster had never performed a similar Bervice; nor had it been very common to require such services on such occasions; but the manner in which he that day discharged his duty not only covered his own name with undying luster, but brought the practice into such repute, that nothing can now be erected, from a school-house to a cathedral, without its being consecrated by a public dedication. No man, however, of all that have followed in the footsteps of Mr. Webster, bas ever surpassed, or equaled, or very nearly approached the great model, who, at the time this address was delivered, was not forty-three years of age His address at the laying of the corner-stone of the extonsion of the Capitol is nearly equal to it

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THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT.

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE LAYING OF THE CORNER-STONE OF THE

BUNKER HILL MONTMENT, AT CHARLESTOWN, MASS., JUNE 17, 1825.

This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing with sympathy and joy, and from the impulses of a common gratitude turned reverently to heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament, proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling have made a deep impression on our hearts.

If, indeed, there be anything in local association fit to affect the mind of man, wè need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate us here. Wē are among the sepulchres of our fathers, We are on ground distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their

blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th of June, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent history would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of attraction to the eyes of succcessive generations. But we are Americans. We live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to suffer and enjoy the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probable train of great events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is natural, therefore, that we should bę moved by the conteinplation of occurrences which have guided our destiny before many of us were born, and settled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our existence which God allows to men on earth.

We do not read even of the discovery of this continent, without feeling something of a personal interest in the event; without being reminded how much it has affected our own fortunes and our own existence. It is more impossible for us, there fore, than for others, to contemplate with unaffected minds that interesting, 1 may say that most touching and pathetic scene, when the great discoverer of America stood on the deck of his shattered bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet no man sleeping; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair tossing his own troubled thoughts; extending forward his harassed frame, straining' westward his anxious and eager eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a moment of rapture and ecstacy, in blessing his vision with the sight of the unknown world,

Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our fates, and therefore still more interesting to our feelings and affections, is the settlement of our own country by colonists from England. We cherish every memorial of these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience and fortitude; we admire their daring enterprise; we teach our children to venerate their piety; and we are justly proud of being descended from men who have set the world an example of founding civil institutions on the great and united principles of human freedom and human knowledge. To us, their children, the story of their labors and sufferings can never be without its interest. We shall not stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren in another early and ancient colony forget the place of its first establishment, till their river shall cease to flow by it. No vigor of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the pation to forget the spots where its infancy was cradled and defended.

But the great event in the history of the continent, which we

are now met here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at once the wonder and the blessing of the world, is the American revolution. In a day of extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national honor, distinction, and power, we are brought together, in this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our gratitude for signal services and patriotic devotion.

The society whose organ I am, was formed for the purpose of rearing some honorable and durable monument to the memory of the early friends of American independence. They have thought, that for this object no time could be more propitious than the present prosperous and peaceful period; that no place could claim preference over this memorable spot; and that no day could be more auspicious to the undertaking, than the anniversary of the battle which was here fought. The foundation of that monument we have now laid. With solemnities suited to the occasion, with prayers to Almighty God for his blessing, and in the midst of this cloud of witnesses, we have begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted, and that, springing from a broad foundation, rising high in massive solidity and unadorned grandeur, it may remain as long as Heaven permits the works of man to last, a fit emblem, both of the events in memory of which it is raised, and of the gratitude of those who have reared it.

We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most safely deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know, that if we could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it reached the skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could still contain but part of that which, in an age of knowledge, hath already been spread over the earth, and which history charges itself with making known to all future times. We know that no inscription on entablatures less broad than the earth itself can carry information of the events we commemorate where it has not already gone; and that no

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