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takes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity. The hours of this day are rapidly flying, and this occasion will soon be passed. Neither we nor our children can expect to behold its return. They are in the distant regions of futurity, they exist only in the all-creating power of God, who shall stand here a hundred years hence, to trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims, and to survey, as we have now surveyed, the progress of their country, during the lapse of a century. We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our sentiments of deep regard for our common ancestors. We would anticipate and partake the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of New England's advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will not disturb us in our repose, the voice of acclamation and gratitude, commencing on the Rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through millions of the sons of the Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs of the Pacific seas. We would leave for the consideration of those who shall then occupy our places, some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our fathers in just estimation; some proof of our attachment to the cause of good government, and of civil and religious liberty; some proof of a sincere and ardent desire to promote every thing which may enlarge the understandings and improve the hearts of men. And when, from the long distance of a hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall know, at least, that we possessed affections, which, running backward and warming with gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness, run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial salutation, ere yet they have arrived on the shore of being. Advance, then, ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste the blessings of existence where we are passing, and soon shall have passed, our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land of the fathers. We bid you welcome to the healthful skies and the verdant fields of New England. We greet your accession to the great inheritance which we have enjoyed. We welcome you to the blessings of good government and religious liberty. We welcome WOL. I.
you to the treasures of science and the delights of learning. We welcome you to the transcendent sweets of domestic life, to the happiness of kindred, and parents, and children. We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlasting truth!
THE allusion in the Discourse is to the large historical painting of the Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, executed by Henry Sargent, Esq., of Boston, and, with great liberality, presented by him to the Pilgrim Society. It appeared in their hall (of which it forms the chief ornament) for the first time at the celebration of 1824. It represents the principal personages of the company at the moment of landing, with the Indian Samoset, who approaches them with a friendly welcome. A very competent judge, himself a distinguished artist, the late venerable Colonel Trumbull, has pronounced that this painting has great merit. An interesting account of it will be found in Dr. Thacher's History of Plymouth, pp. 249 and 257.
An historical painting, by Robert N. Weir, Esq., of the largest size, representing the embarkation of the Pilgrims from Delft-Haven, in Holland, and executed by order of Congress, fills one of the panels of the Rotunda of the Capitol at Washington. The moment chosen by she artist for the action of the picture is that in which the venerable pastor Robinson, with tears, and benedictions, and prayers to Heaven, dismisses the beloved members of his little flock to the perils and the hopes of their great enterprise. The characters of the personages introduced are indicated with discrimination and power, and the accessories of the work marked with much taste and skill. It is a painting of distinguished historical interest and of great artistic merit.
The “Landing of the Pilgrims” has also been made the subject of a very interesting painting by Mr. Flagg, intended to represent the deep religious feeling which so strikingly characterized the first settlers of New England. With this object in view, the central figure is that of Elder Brewster. It is a picture of cabinet size, and is in possession of a gentleman of New Haven, descended from Elder Brewster, and of that name.
NOTE. B. Page 38.
As the opinion of contemporaneous thinkers on this important subject cannot fail to interest the general reader, it is deemed proper to insert here the following extract from a letter, written in 1849, to show how powerfully the truths uttered in 1820, in the spirit of prophecy, as it were, impressed themselves upon certain minds, and how closely the verification of the prediction has been watched.
“I do not remember any political prophecy, founded on the spirit of a wide and far-reaching statesmanship, that has been so remarkably fulfilled as the one made by Mr. Webster, in his Discourse delivered at Plymouth in 1820, on the effect which the laws of succession to property in France, then in operation, would be likely to produce on the forms and working of the French government. But to understand what he said, and what he foresaw, I must explain a little what had been the course of legislation in France on which his predictions were founded. “Before the Revolution of 1789, there had been a great accumulation of the landed property of the country, and, indeed, of all its property, by means of laws of entail, majorats, and other legal contrivances, – in the hands of the privileged classes; chiefly in those of the nobility and the clergy. The injury and injustice done by long continued legislation in this direction were obviously great; and it was not, perhaps, unnatural, that the opposite course to that which had brought on the mischief should be deemed the best one to cure it. At any rate, such was the course taken. “In 1791 a law was passed, preventing any man from having any interest beyond the period of his own life in any of his property, real, personal, or mixed, and distributing all his possessions for him, immediately after his death, among his children, in equal shares, or if he left no children, then among his next of kin, on the same principle. This law, with a slight modification, made under the influence of Robespierre, was in force till 1800. But the period was entirely revolutionary, and probably quite as much property changed hands from violence and the consequences of violence, during the nine years it continued, as was transmitted by the laws that directly controlled its succession. “With the coming in of Bonaparte, however, there was established a new order of things, which has continued, with little modification, ever since, and has had its full share in working out the great changes in French society which we now witness. A few experiments were first made, and then the great Civil Code, often called the Code Napoleon, was adopted. This was in 1804. By this remarkable code, which is still in force, a man, if he has but one child, can give away by his last will, as he pleases, half of his property, - the law insuring the other half to the child; if he has two children, then he can so give away only one third, – the law requiring the other two thirds to be given equally to the two children; if three, then only one fourth, under similar conditions; but
if he has a greater number, it restricts the rights of the parent more and more, and makes it more and more difficult for him to distribute his property according to his own judgment; the restrictions embarrassing him even in his lifetime. “The consequences of such laws are, from their nature, very slowly developed. When Mr. Webster spoke in 1820, the French code had been in operation sixteen years, and similar principles had prevailed for nearly a generation. But still its wide results were not even suspected. Those who had treated the subject at all supposed that the tendency was to break up the great estates in France, and make the larger number of the holders of small estates more accessible to the influence of the government, then a limited monarchy, and so render it stronger and more despotic. “Mr. Webster held a different opinion. He said, “In respect, however, to the recent law of succession in France, to which I have alluded, I would, presumptuously perhaps, hazard a conjecture, that, if the government do not change the law, the law in half a century will change the government; and that this change will be, not in favor of the power of the crown, as some European writers have supposed, but against it, Those writers only reason upon what they think correct general principles, in relation to this subject. They acknowledge a want of experience. Here we have had that experience; and we know that a multitude of small proprietors, acting with intelligence, and that enthusiasm which a common cause inspires, constitute not only a formidable, but an invincible power.’ “In less than six years after Mr. Webster uttered this remarkable prediction, the king of France himself, at the opening of the Legislative Chambers, thus strangely echoed it: –“Legislation ought to provide, by successive improvements, for all the wants of society. The progressive partitioning of landed estates, essentially contrary to the spirit of a monarchical government, would enfeeble the guaranties which the charter has given to my throne and to my subjects. Measures will be proposed to you, gentlemen, to establish the consistency which ought to exist between the political law and the civil law, and to preserve the patrimony of families, without restricting the liberty of disposing of one's property. The preservation of families is connected with, and affords a guaranty to, political stability, which is the first want of states, and which is especially that of France, after so many vicissitudes.” “Still, the results to which such subdivision and comminution of property tended were not foreseen even in France. The Revolution of 1830 came, and revealed a part of them; for that revolution was made by the influence of men possessing very moderate estates, who believed that the guaranties of a government like that of the elder branch of the Bourbons