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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Rebuke to John Randolph

By Tristam Burges (1770–1853)

[From a Speech on the Tariff. U. S. H. of R. 1828.]

WHENCE all this abuse of New England, this misrepresentation of the North and the West? It is, sir, because they, and all the patriots in the nation, would pursue a policy calculated to secure and perpetuate the national independence of Great Britain. It is because they are opposed by another policy, which, by its entire, and by every part of its operation, will inevitably bring the American people into a condition of dependence on Great Britain, less profitable, and not more to our honor, than the condition of colonies. I cannot, I would not look into the secrets of men’s hearts: but the nation will examine the nature and tendencies of the American and the anti-American systems; and they can understand the arguments offered in support of each plan of national policy; and they too can read, and will understand, the histories of all public men, and of those two systems of national policy. Do we, as it has been insinuated, support the American policy, in wrong, and for the injury and damage of old England? I do not; those with whom I have the honor to act, do not pursue this course—No, sir,
  • “Not that I love England less,
  • But that I love my country more.”
  • Who, sir, would wrong; who would reduce the wealth, the power of England? Who, without a glorious national pride, can look to that as to our mother country? It is the land of comfort, accommodation, and wealth; of science and literature; song, sentiment, heroic valor, and deep, various, political philosophy. Who is not proud that our fathers were the compeers of Wolfe; that Burke and Chatham spoke our mother tongue? Who does not look for the most prosperous eras of the world, when English blood shall warm the human bosom over the habitable breadth of every zone—when English literature shall come under the eye of the whole world—English intellectual wealth enrich every clime; and the manners, morals, and religion, of us and our parent country, spread civilization under the whole star-lighted heaven; and, in the very language of our deliberations, the hallowed voice of daily prayer shall arise to God, throughout every longitude of the sun’s whole race.

    I would follow the course of ordinary experience; render the child independent of the parent; and from the resources of his own industry, skill, and prudence, rich, influential, and powerful, among nations. Then, if the period of age and infirmity shall, as God send it may never, but if it shall come, then, sir, the venerated parent shall find shelter behind the strong right hand of her powerful descendant….

    The policy of the gentleman from Virginia calls him to a course of legislation resulting in the entire destruction of one part of this Union. Oppress New England until she shall be compelled to remove her manufacturing labor and capital to the regions of iron, wool, and grain; and nearer to those of rice and cotton. Oppress New England until she shall be compelled to remove her commercial labor and capital to New York, Norfolk, Charleston, and Savannah. Finally oppress that proscribed region, until she shall be compelled to remove her agricultural labor and capital—her agricultural capital? No, she cannot remove that. Oppress and compel her, nevertheless, to remove her agricultural labor to the far-off West; and there people the savage valley, and cultivate the deep wilderness of the Oregon. She must, indeed, leave her agricultural capital; her peopled fields; her hills with culture carried to their tops; her broad, deep bays; her wide, transparent lakes, long-winding rivers, and populous water-falls; her delightful villages, flourishing towns, and wealthy cities. She must leave this land, bought by the treasure, subdued by the toil, defended by the valor of men, vigorous, athletic, and intrepid; men, godlike in all, making man resemble the moral image of his Maker; a land endeared, oh! how deeply endeared, because shared with women pure as the snows of their native mountains; bright, lofty, and overawing, as the clear, circumambient heavens, over their heads; and yet lovely as the fresh opening bosom of their own blushing and blooming June. “Mine own romantic country,” must we leave thee? Beautiful patrimony of the wise and good; enriched from the economy, and ornamented by the labor and perseverance of two hundred years! Must we leave thee, venerable heritage of ancient justice and pristine faith? And, God of our fathers! must we leave thee to the demagogues who have deceived, and traitorously sold us? We must leave thee to them; and to the remnants of the Penobscots, the Pequods, the Mohicans, and Narragansetts; that they may lure back the far retired bear, from the distant forest, again to inhabit in the young wilderness, growing up in our flourishing cornfields and rich meadows, and spreading, with briars and brambles, over our most “pleasant places.”

    All this shall come to pass, to the intent that New England may again become a lair for wild beasts, and a hunting-ground for savages. The graves of our parents be polluted; and the place made holy by the first footsteps of our pilgrim forefathers become profaned by the midnight orgies of barbarous incantation. The evening wolf shall again howl on our hills, and the echo of his yell mingle once more with the sound of our water-falls. The sanctuaries of God shall be made desolate. Where now a whole people congregate in thanksgiving for the benefactions of time, and in humble supplication for the mercies of eternity, there those very houses shall then be left without a tenant. The owl, at noonday, may roost on the high altar of devotion, and the “fox look out the window,” on the utter solitude of a New England Sabbath.

    New England shall, indeed, under this proscribing policy, be what Switzerland was under that of France. New England, which, like Switzerland, is the eagle nest of Freedom; New England, where, as in Switzerland, the cradle of infant liberty “was rocked by whirlwinds, in their rage;” New England shall, as Switzerland was, in truth, be “the immolated victim, where nothing but the skin remains unconsumed by the sacrifice;” New England, as Switzerland had, shall have “nothing left but her rocks, her ruins, and her demagogues.”

    The mind, sir, capable of conceiving a project of mischief so gigantic, must have been early schooled, and deeply imbued with all the great principles of moral evil.

    What, then, sir, shall we say of a spirit, regarding this event as a “consummation devoutly to be wished?”—a spirit without one attribute, or one hope, of the pure in heart; a spirit which begins and ends everything, not with prayer, but with imprecation; a spirit which blots from the great canon of petition, “Give us this day our daily bread;” that, foregoing bodily nutriment, he may attain to a higher relish for that unmingled food, prepared and served up to a soul “hungering and thirsting after wickedness;” a spirit, which, at every rising sun, exclaims, “Hodie! hodie! Carthago delenda!” “To-day, to-day! let New England be destroyed!”

    Sir, Divine Providence takes care of his own universe. Moral monsters cannot propagate. Impotent of everything but malevolence of purpose, they can no otherwise multiply miseries, than by blaspheming all that is pure, and prosperous, and happy. Could demon propagate demon, the universe might become a Pandemonium; but I rejoice that the father of Lies can never become the father of liars. One “adversary of God and man” is enough for one universe. Too much! Oh! how much too much for one nation.