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WAR AND LOYALTY.*
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for October, 1846.)
Our orators have invested the Fourth of July with so many disturbing associations, that our citizens are gradually becoming less and less disposed to greet its annual return with those festivities which it was the hope of our fathers would continue to mark it through all generations to come. Still, it is a day sacred in the affections of every American citizen, and it cannot come round without exciting lively emotions of gratitude and joy in every American heart. The birth of a nation is an event to be remembered, and the day on which it takes its rank in the family of independent nations is well deserving to be set apart by some service, at once joyous and solemn, recounting the glory which has been won, the blessings which have been received, and pointing to the high destiny and grave responsibilities to which the new people are called.
The orations ordinarily given on our national anniversary are of that peculiar sort which it is said neither gods nor men can tolerate. They are tawdry and turgid, full of stale
. declamation about liberty, fulsome and disgusting glorification of ourselves as a people, or uncalled-for denunciations of those states and empires, that have not seen proper to adopt political institutions similar to our own. perhaps, be too fastidious in our taste, and too sweeping in our censures. Boys will be boys, and dulness will be dulness, and when either is installed “orator of the day,” the performance must needs be boyish or dull. But when the number of orations annually called forth by our national jubilee, from all sorts of persons, throughout the length and breadth of the land, is considered, we may rather wonder that so many are produced which do credit to their authors, and fall not far below the occasion, than that there are so few. All are not mere school-boy productions; all are not patriotisin on tiptoe, nor eloquence on stilts. Every year
Yet we may, sends out a few, which, for their sound sense, deep thought, subdued passion, earnest spirit, manly tone,and chaste expression, deserve an honorable place in our national literature. There are-and perhaps as large a proportion as we ought. to expect—Fourth of July orators, who, while they indulge in not unseemly exultations, forget to disgust us with untimely rant about self-government, the marvellous virtue and intelligence of the masses, and the industrial miracles they are daily performing; who show by their reserve. rather than by their noisy declamation, that they have American hearts, and confidence in American patriotism and American institutions. A people not factitionsly great has no occasion to speak of its greatness; and true patriotism expresses itself in deeds, not words. The real American patriots are not those shallow brains and gizzard hearts which are always prating of the American spirit, American genius, American interests, American greatness, and calling for an American party; but those calm, quiet, self-possessed spirits who rarely think of asking themselves whether they are Americans or not, and who are too sincere and ardent in their patriotism to imagine it can be necessary to parade its titles. Their patriotisin has no suspicions, no jealousies, no fears, no self-consciousness. It is too deep for words. It is silent, majestic. It is where the country is, does what she bids, and, though sacrificing all upon her altars, never dreams that it is doing any thing extraordinary. There is, perhaps, more of this genuine patriotism in the American people than strangers, or even we ourselves, commonly suppose.
*An Oration delivered before the Authorities of the City of Boston in the Tremont Temple, July 4, 1846. By FLETCHER WEBSTER. Boston: 1846.
The foam floats on the surface, and is whirled hither and thither by each shifting breeze; but below are the sweet, silent, and deep waters.
Among the orations delivered on our great national festival, which we would not willingly forget, the one before us by Mr. Fletcher Webster, eldest son of Daniel Webster, deserves a high rank. It is free from the principal faults to which we have alluded, simple and chaste in its style and language, bold and manly in its tone and spirit, and, in the main, sound and just in doctrine and sentiment. It frequently reminds us of the qualities which mark the productions of the author's distinguished father, and which have placed him at the head of American orators; and it bears ample evidence, that, with time, experience, and effort, the son need not be found unworthy of such a father.
Certainly, we do not subscribe to every sentiment, view,