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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

Eulogy on Washington

By Robert Treat Paine, Jr. (1773–1811)

[Oration at Newburyport, Mass., 2 January, 1800.Works, in Verse and Prose. 1812.]

AMERICANS! The Saviour of your country has obtained his last victory. Having reached the summit of human perfection, he has quitted the region of human glory. Conqueror of time, he has triumphed over mortality; Legate of Heaven, he has returned with the tidings of his mission; Father of his people, he has ascended to advocate their cause in the bosom of his God. Solemn, “as it were a pause in nature,” was his transit to eternity; thronged by the shades of heroes, his approach to the confines of bliss; pæaned by the song of angels, his journey beyond the stars!

The voice of a grateful and afflicted people has pronounced the eulogium of their departed hero; “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” That this exalted tribute is justly due to his memory, the scar-honored veteran, who has fought under the banners of his glory, the enraptured statesman, who has bowed to the dominion of his eloquence, the hardy cultivator, whose soil has been defended by the prodigies of his valor, the protected citizen, whose peaceful rights have been secured by the vigilance of his wisdom,—yea, every fibre, that can vibrate in the heart of an American—will attest with agonized sensibility.

Born to direct the destiny of empires, his character was as majestic as the events, to which it was attached, were illustrious. In the delineation of its features, the vivid pencil of genius cannot brighten a trait, nor the blighting breath of calumny obscure. His principles were the result of organic philosophy,—his success, of moral justice. His integrity assumed the port of command,—his intelligence, the aspect of inspiration. Glory, to many impregnable, he obtained without ambition; popularity, to all inconstant, he enjoyed without jealousy. The one was his from admiration, the other from gratitude. The former embellished, but could not reward; the latter followed, but never could lead him. The robust vigor of his virtue, like the undazzled eye of the eagle, was inaccessible to human weakness; and the unaspiring temperament of his passions, like the regenerating ashes of the phœnix, gave new life to the greatness it could not extinguish. In the imperial dignity of his person was exhibited the august stature of his mind.