« AnteriorContinuar »
calculated to break up the harmony which has so long prevailed among the States and People of this Union.
It is not, however, for the learned gentleman, nor for myself, to say, here, that we speak for the country. We advance our sentiments and our arguments, but they are without authority. But it is for you, Mr. Chief Justice and Judges, on this, as on other occasions of high importance, to speak, and to decide, for the country. The guardianship of her commercial interests; the preservation of the harmonious intercourse of all her citizens; the fulfilling, in this respect, of the great object of the Constitution, are in your hands; and I am not to doubt that the trust will be so performed as to sustain, at once, high national objects, and the character of this tribunal.
AT THE TRIENNIAL CELEBRATION OK THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY, OXFORD, ENGLAND, JULY 18, 1839.
In the spring of 1839, Mr. Wiiitih went to England, Tor the first time in his life. He went in no public capacity. But his reputation bad preceded him, and he was received with every mark of the most distinguished consideration. He was present at several public festivals, and his addresses appear to have made a deep impression on those who heard them. The following is the only one, however, which was reported at any length. It was delivered at the first Triennial Celebration of the National Agricultural Society, held at Oxford, on the 18th of July. Three thousand persons were at table. Earl Spercer presided, and, in introducing Mr. Webster, said they had " already drunk the health of a foreign minister who was present, but they had the honor and advantage of having among them other foreigners, not employed in any public capacity, who had come among them for the purpose of seeing a meeting of English farmers, such as he believed never had been witnessed before, but which he hoped might oflea be seen again. Among these foreigners was one gentleman, of a most distinguished character, from the United States of America, that great country, whoa* people we were obliged legally to call foreigners, but who were still our brethren in blood.
"It was most gratifying to him that such a man had been present at that meeting, that he might know what the farmers of England really were, and be able to report to his fellow-citizens the manner in which they were united, from every class, in promoting their peaceful and most important objects." He gave,
"The health of Mr. Webster, and other distinguished strangers."
The toast was received with much applause.
Mr. Webster said the notice which the noble earl at the head of the table had been kind enough to take of him, and the friendlysentiments which he had seen fit to express toward the country to which he belonged, demanded his most cordial acknowledgments. He should therefore begin by saying how gratified he had been in hav'ng it in his power to pass one day among the proprietors, the cultivators, the farmers of Old England — that England of which he had been reading and conversing all his life, and now for once ha J the pleasure of visiting.
He would say, in the next place,— if he could say, — how much he had been pleased and gratified with the exhibition of one product, or branch of product, of that agriculture for which England was so justly distinguished. When persons connected with some pursuit, of whatever description, assembled in such numbers, he could not but look on them with respect and regard; but he confessed at once that he was more than ordinarily moved on all such occasions, when he saw before him a great assemblage of those whose interests, whose hopes, whose objects and pursuits, were connected, on either continent, with the cultivation of the soil.
Whatever else might tend to enrich and beautify society, that which feeds and clothes comfortably the great mass of mankind should always, he contended, be regarded as the great foundation of national interest. He need not say that the agriculture of England was instructive to all the world; as a science, it was here better understood; as an art, it was here better practised; as a great interest, it was here as highly esteemed as in any other part of the- globe.
The importance of agriculture to a nation was obvious to every man ; but it, perhaps, did not strike every mind so suddenly, although certainly it was equally true, that the annual produce of English agriculture was a great concern to the whole civilized world. The civilized and commercial states were so connected, their interests were so blended, that it was a matter of notoriety, that the fear or the prospect of a short crop in England deranged and agitated the business transactions and commercial regulations and speculations of the whole world.
It was natural that this should be the case in those nations which looked to the occurrence of a short crop in England, as an occasion which may enable them to dispose profitably of their own surplus produce; but the fact went much farther, for when there was such an occurrence in the English capital, — the centre of commercial speculations for the whole world; where the price of commodities was settled and arranged; where the exchanges between nations were conducted and concluded, — its consequences were felt every where, as none knew better than the noble earl who occupied the chair.
Should there be a frost in England fifteen days later than usual, — should there be an unseasonable drought, or ten cold and wet days, instead of ten warm and dry ones, when the harvest should be reaped, — every exchange in Europe and America felt the consequence of it. He would not pursue these remarks. [Loud cries of "Go on, go on."] He must, however, say that he entertained not the slightest doubt of the great advantage to the interest of agriculture which must result from the formation and operation of this society.
Was it not obvious to the most common observer, that those who Vol. in. 51 11 H *
cultivated the soil had not the same conveniences, opportunities, and facilities, of daily intercourse and comparison of opinions as the commercial and manufacturing interests? Those who arc associated in the pursuits of commerce and manufactures naturally congregated together in cities; they had immediate means of frequent communication. Their sympathies, feelings, and opinions, were instantaneously circulated, like electricity, through the whole body.
But how was it with the cultivators of the soil? Separated, spread over a thousand fields, each attentive to his own acres, they had only occasional opportunities of communicating with each other. If, among commercial men, chambers of commerce and other institutions of that character, — if, among the trades, guilds were fbund expedient, — how much more necessary and advisable to have some such institutions, which, at least annually, should bring together the representatives of the great agricultural interest!
In many parts of the country to which he belonged, there were societies upon a similar principle, which had been found very advantageous. They had rewards for specimens of fine animals; they had rewards for implements of husbandry supposed to excel those which had been known before. They turned their attention to every thing supposed to facilitate the operations of the farmer, and improve his stock, and interest in the country. Among other means of improving agriculture, they had imported largely from the best breeds of animals known in England.
He knew that a gentleman who had to-day deservedly obtained many prizes for stock, would not be displeased to learn that he bad seen along the rich pastures of the Ohio and its tributary streams, animals raised from those which had been furnished by his farms in Yorkshire and Northumberland. But, apart from this subject, he must be allowed to make a short response to the very kind sentiments, which went near to his heart, as uttered by the noble earl at the head of the table.
Their noble chairman was pleased to speak of the people of the United States as kindred in blood with the people of England. I am an American. I was born on that great continent, and I am wedded to the fortunes of my country, for weal or for wo. There is no other region of the earth which I can call my country. But I know, and I am proud to know, what blood flows in these veins.
I am happy to stand here to-day, and to remember, although my ancestors, for several generations, lie buried beneath the soil of the western continent, yet there has been a time when my ancestors and your ancestors toiled in the same cities and villages, cultivated adjacent fields, and worked together to build up that great structure of civil polity which has made England what England is.
When I was about to embark, some friends asked me what I was going to England for. To be sure, gentlemen, I came for no object of business, public or private; but I told them I was coming to see the elder branch of the family. I told them I was coming to see my distant relations, my kith and kin of the old Saxon race.
With regard to whatsoever is important to the peace of the world, its prosperity, the progress of knowledge and of just opinions, the diffusion of the sacred- light of Christianity, I know nothing more important to the promotion of those best interests of humanity, and the cause of the general peace, amity, and concord, than the good feeling subsisting between the Englishmen on this side of the Atlantic, and the descendants of Englishmen on the other.
Some little clouds have overhung our horizon — I trust they will soon pass away. I am sure that the age we live in does not expect that England and America are to have controversies carried to the extreme, upon any occasion not of the last importance to national interests and honor.
We live in an age when nations as well as individuals are subject to a moral responsibility. Neither government nor people — thank God for it — can now trifle with the general sense of the civilized world; and I am sure that the civilized world would hold your country and my country to a very strict account, if, without very plain and apparent reason, deeply affecting the independence and great interests of the nation, any controversy between them should have other than an amicable issue.
I will venture to say that each country has intelligence enough to understand all that belongs to its just rights, and is not deficient in means to maintain them; and if any controversy between England and America were to be pushed to the extreme of force, neither party would or could have any signal advantage over the other, except what it could find in the justness of its cause and the approbation of the world.
With respect to the occasion which has called us together, I beg to repeat the gratification which I have felt in passing a day among such a company, and conclude with the most fervent expression of my wish for the prosperity and usefulness of the Agricultural Society of England.