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history and experience in government reach back forty centuries.
It would be an interesting inquiry with what results governments
have existed so long, especially in the later periods and among
the most enlightened of the nations. Charles the Fifth boasted
that his empire saw no setting sun. It included Spain and all her
vast American provinces, over large part of which to-day wave our
own Stars and Stripes. The national escutcheon bore two globes;
and the coin, the two Pillars of Hercules, the then acknowledged
boundary of the Eastern world, with the motto "More beyond."
Spain, under Philip Second, dictated law, learning, religion,
especially religion, to unknown millions, not alone in Europe,
but in North and South America, Africa and all the Indies. And
now in the remote south-western corner of Europe is all that
remains of this mighty power of the sixteenth century.

France in the eighth century under Charlemagne, was another
mistress of the globe. And Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope,
"Sovereign of the New Empire of the West." And yet, in less than
fifty years all that mountain of magnificence exploded; and many
rival nations sprang from its lava streams of blood and ashes! A
remnant, too, of France was preserved; and its history for almost
eight hundred years, "may be traced, like the tracks of a wounded
man through a crowd, by the blood;" until it culminated in the
French Revolution ("suicide of the eighteenth century," as
Carlyle calls that terrible phenomenon) and Napoleon Bonaparte!
And he also summoned to his coronation the Roman Pontiff, like
his great predecessor of a thousand years before. And beneath the
solemn arches and arcades of Notre Dame, was crowned by Pope Pius
the Seventh--"_The high and mighty Napoleon, the first Emperor of
the French!_" Plunging remorselessly into the most desolating
wars, he soon astonished the civilized world with his successes.
He made himself master of almost half the globe. The reign of
Napoleon was an earthquake which, for fifteen years, shook the
sea and the land, carrying down innumerable human lives in the
general cataclysm. But he sunk at last! He aspired to the very
heaven of heavens in his ambitions; and his conquests were the
wonder and terror of mankind. But he left France smaller, weaker,
poorer, and more debased and depraved than he found her.

Just eight hundred years ago last September, William the Norman
landed in Britain and commenced its subjugation. Since that
period, the history of Great Britain has not differed materially
from that of other European nations. As the sun is said never to
set on the British domain, so the thunder of its war-guns has
reverberated almost continually in some corner of the globe. To
trace her history, however rapidly, even had we time, could give
no pleasure to this audience, and would add nothing to my present
argument. It is sufficient to say that, with real estate almost
immeasurable, with personal property incalculable, with a wealth
of material resources of every conceivable description,
absolutely unknown and unknowable, she yet contrives to support
her costly establishment by a system of oppressive taxation
almost unparalleled in the annals of the human race. Some of you
must remember the graphic but not exaggerated description of
British taxation given by Sidney Smith in the _Edinburgh Review_.
It was almost fifty years ago; but no less revenue must be raised
in some way, still. He said:

We have taxes upon everything which enters into the mouth,
or covers the back, or is placed under the feet; taxes upon
everything which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell,
or taste; taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion; taxes on
everything on earth, and in the waters under the earth;
taxes on everything that comes from abroad, or is grown at
home; taxes on the raw material, taxes on every fresh value
added to it by the industry of man; taxes on the sauces
which pamper man's appetite, and the drugs that restore him
to health; taxes on the ermine which decorates the judge,
and on the rope which hangs the criminal; on the poor man's
salt and the rich man's spice; on the ribbons of the bride,
on the shroud of the corpse, and the brass nails of the
coffin. The school-boy whips his taxed top; the beardless
youth rides his taxed horse, with a taxed saddle and bridle,
on a taxed road; and the dying Englishman, pouring his
medicine, which has paid seven per cent., into a spoon that
has paid fifteen per cent., flings himself back upon his
chintz-bed, which has paid twenty-two per cent., and expires
in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a license of a
hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death.
His whole property is then taxed from two to ten per cent.
Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him
in the chancel. His virtues are then handed down to
posterity on taxed marble, and he is gathered to his
fathers, to be taxed no more!

And we are told, what is doubtless true, that the enormous debt
of Great Britain is the chain that binds its many parts together,
and preserves its nationality. No nation, then, ever maintained a
more precarious existence. Chartism in Scotland, Repeal in
Ireland, Trades Strikes everywhere, East India Wars, Irish
Famines, Fenianism, Reform Leagues, Reform Riots, Bread
Riots--all these attest how volcanic is its under stratum, and
what dangers impend above. In some of the gloomy gorges of the
Alps, there are seasons of the year when no traveler passes but
at the expense of life, on account of the terrible "_thunderbolts
of snow_" that hang suspended on the sides or summits of the
mountains. None can know their hour; but descend they must, by
all the laws of gravitation, with resistless energy, sweeping all
before them. At such times, all who pass creep along with
trembling caution. They move in single file, at a distance from
each other, hurrying fast as possible, with velvet step, avoiding
all noise, even whispers--the guides meanwhile muffling the bells
of the mules, lest the slightest vibration communicated to the
air should untie the tremulous mass overhead and entomb them
forever. Great Britain, with her frightful debt, her terrible
taxation, her dissatisfied, restless, beggared myriads of the
lower working classes, her remorseless aristocracy, her bloated
spirit of caste, her enforced but heartless religion, has hung a
more terrible avalanche over her head than ever leaped down the
heights of the Tyrol.

Such are examples of success or failure in attempts at
government, among the proudest and most prosperous nations of the
Old World, in modern and what are called enlightened times. If
seventy years be the life of a man, what should be the life of a
nation? Half the children born die under five years old. But
proportionably a greater mortality prevails among nations and
governments. Not one nation has ever yet attained an honorable
manhood. There is something rotten in the state of every Denmark.

Will you tell me Democracy, Republicanism, consecrated by
Christianity, is the remedy for all these ills? Let us look,
then, at the best example. Our own nation is not yet a hundred
years old, but it had behind it in the beginning, the chronicles
of forty or sixty centuries, written mostly in tears and blood.
At the end of an eight years' revolutionary war, our new
governmental columns were reared, not, like some pagan temples,
on human skulls, but on the imbruted bodies and extinguished
souls of five hundred thousand chattel slaves. We had our
Declaration of Independence, our war of Revolution, and a new
Constitution and code of laws. We had a Washington for our first
President, a John Jay for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and
a constellation of senators, statesmen, and sages who challenged
the respect and admiration of mankind. We closed that
dispensation with James Buchanan as Chief Magistrate, and Roger
B. Taney as Chief-Justice, with his diabolical Dred Scott
Decision, and with a war of Treason and Rebellion which deluged
the land in the blood of more than half a million of men. We had
multiplied our slaves to four millions, with new cruelties and
horrors added to the system, and at least ten generations of them
were lost in unknown graves. The new Republican President pledged
his official word and honor to the rebels already in arms, that,
would they but return to their allegiance, he would favor
amendments to the Constitution that should not only render slave
property more secure than ever before, but also make all its old
guarantees and safeguards, _Fugitive Slave law and all_, forever
"_irrevocable_" by any act or decree of Congress! So were we
endeavoring to bulwark and balustrade our slave-system about, in
the name of a Christian Republicanism, when it was struck by the
lightnings of a righteous retribution, and the world is rid of it
forever. And our old nationality went down in the ruin. Now we
are divided, distracted, deranged in currency, commerce,
diplomacy, with State and Federal liabilities resting on the
people, amounting to not less than six thousand millions of
dollars, not to speak of current expenditures which are also
appalling; with a President whose weakness finds no parallel but
in his wickedness, with a Secretary of State who has become his
full counterpart in both, and a Senate too cowardly, or too
corrupt, to impeach the one or to seek the removal of the other!

For more than two years we have been attempting to restore the
fragments of our once boasted Union.



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