« ZurückWeiter »
country in various stations through a period of forty years, who espoused in his youth, and adhered through his life to the cause of its liberty, and who has borne a part in most of the great transactions which will constitute epochs of its destiny.
"The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions, is, that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated. Let the avowed enemy to it be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened, and the disguised one as the serpent creeping with deadly wiles into Paradise."
As a leading member of the convention which framed the government, of the Congresses which organized it, of the administration of Jefferson, which conducted it for a long time in the path it has since for the most part followed, and finally as the head of his own administration in the most trying time, when the exigencies of war were superadded to the occasions of peace, no individual has impressed more of his mind, either theoretically or practically, on American institutions, than James Madison.
Until within a short period of his decease, Mr. Madison continued to keep pace with the passing literature of the day. Most American writers were proud to lay their productions before him; and he was a subscriber to the best periodicals. He was consequently acquainted with every thing literary that was of interest, and devoted no small attention to science;-most attached, perhaps, to the practical pursuit of natural history, having accumulated numerous interesting facts from his own observation. A member of his family, of whom we ventured to request information of his religious sentiments-on which subject, though an excellent biblical scholar, and otherwise well informed, he was always remarkably silent-answered by the significant assurance that he was good and perfect in religion and domestic life, and that nothing short of true religion can make man so.
On the 28th June, 1836, he died-as serene, philosophical, and calm in the last moments of existence, as he had been in all the trying occasions of life. President Jackson announced the event to Congress in a communication calling on that body for such measures as were proper to testify their sense of the respect due to the memory of one whose life had contributed so essentially to the happiness and glory of his country, and the good of mankind. And ex-president Adams in his eloquent address to the House of Representatives, of which he was a member, dwelt on the merits of the venerable statesman, to whose memory appropriate honors were unanimously voted.
Congress soon after appropriated adequate means to publish the precious relique of his private Journal of the Debates of the Convention which formed the Constitution of the United States, and others of his papers. They also conferred the franking privilege on his widow; and the whole American people, grown under his auspices from a small to a great nation, with one accord pronounced the spontaneous and cordial obituary eulogium of the honored and venerated Madison.
THOUGH 'NEATH THE WINTER'S DREARY CHILL.
Though 'neath the winter's dreary chill
And bideth but its coming hour.
And when the first soft gale of spring
Shall breathe upon that icy chain,
New sweets and charms abroad again.
Then yield not thou to dark despair,
My heart, 'neath fortune's bitterest frown,
Though sad and slow the hour the while,
From the Greek of Anacreon.
The Muses roving forth one day,
Met little Cupid in the way:
They bound him fast with chains of flowers,
Then Venus sought, with ransom large,
‘A. Mõσas 7òv 'Egwla, x. 7. λ.
To free her son, her darling charge:
But though some friend should grant her prayer,
EAST HAMPTON, L. I.
Cupid would still continue there,
He has so long in bondage lain,
The child has learned to like his chain.
GLANCES AT CONGRESS.-NO. II.
BY A REPORTER.
In resuming my "Glances at Congress," as the Twenty-fifth Congress with which they commenced is about expiring, it is impossible to avoid a passing reflection on the striking changes, evident at a glance' to one who knew the body at its commencement, and looked on it at its close.
Some whose faces were once familiar to me are no longer to be seen. Their places are filled with strangers. Some have retired from public service into the more quiet employments and enjoy. ments of domestic life. It is not without painful emotions that I recall to my memory the countenances of some, who, at the organization of this Congress, sat here, like their successors, with hearts swelling with hope and expectation, and responding to the sensibilities of friendship and conjugal and paternal affection, and to the aspirations of ambition, who now live only in the memory of their friends and countrymen. The agitation, the intrigues, the angry collisions, and the foul deed of violence which marked the last session, will pass in rapid review before the mind; but upon all these time has dropped the curtain, and I shall not uplift it.
I must dwell a moment on the new arrangements of the Hallan edifice itself of the most impressive character, in an architectural point of view. The Speaker's chair, the Clerk's table, and the seats of the members are restored to the position in which they were prior to the alterations authorized by the House, in the first session of the twenty-second Congress. The chair is now placed where it was originally designed to be-in the centre of the base of the half circle, which is the form of the Hall; and where it is the focus of all the sound, from whatever part of the Hall it may come. The opposite arrangement, which has been abandoned, was unarchitectural, and destructive of the original plan of the Hall. The first alteration was an experiment in acoustics, which theory did not justify, and which upon trial proved abortive. The object of the change was to increase the facility of speaking and hearing, but its effect was to deform the room, without gaining any advantage in this respect. Under the present arrangement, every thing which is uttered in any part of the Hall may be heard at the chair, and whatever is said at the chair is audible throughout the Hall.
It has been said-whether truly or not, I do not know-that the original design of the architect was to construct the Hall with a view to enable the members to address the House from the tribune, as in the French chamber of Deputies. If this was his object, it must be admitted that he succeeded in it most admirably. There is not a place, except the chair or Clerk's table, from which a member may be distinctly heard in all parts of the Hall. It is also difficult, even for veteran orators to speak in this Hall; to fill it with a volume of tone is impossible. The consequence is, that every speaker who is solicitous of being heard strains and breaks, and soon ruins his voice. The most successful speakers here have been those whose voices were shrill and fife-like, and destitute of deep and guttural tones. John Randolph and Philip P. Barbour, as I well remember, had voices so admirably adapted to the Hall that they could speak in it, and be entirely audible in every part, without any seeming effort. John Randolph, in his very lowest tones of passion and feeling, was distinctly heard in every recess of the House. This, to be sure, may be partly attributable to the silence and attention which he always commanded, but more to the peculiarity of his voice. Before dismissing the Hall, however, and its arrangements, I must be indulged in a passing protest against the vile taste in upholstery which still seems to have the ascendent about the Speaker's chair. The vulgar and gingerbread finery of the former plan has only given place to a tower of merino tasselled and fringed, more, much more obnoxious and offensive, inasmuch as to procure the room for this tasteless display, the unpardonable liberty has been taken of greatly abridging the limited space of the ladies' gallery, shutting out the public from a most advantageous position to see the House, and adding vastly and most unjustifiably to the discomfort and inconvenience of the place. We hope the Speaker or the new Clerk will deem it worth their while for the future to prevent these fantastic yet expensive tricks of upholstery run mad.
Mentioning the Speaker's chair, I cannot avoid the expression of my regret that its distinguished occupant is so soon voluntarily to retire from a position which he has made illustrious as it was arduous, it being well known that this is the last year of Mr. Polk's long and favorable term of service in the House.
The Democratic Review has already given a fine sketch of the Speaker's life, but I may notwithstanding be permitted to add the remarks that fall within my own peculiar range of observation. I have never seen a man preside over a popular legislative body with more dignity and effect than Mr. Polk. In person he is rather below the middle size, and has a firm and upright carriage which gives great self-possession and command to his manner. His head is finely formed, with a broad and ample forehead, and features in
dicative of a character at once urbane and decided. He is scrupu lous in his dress and always appears in the chair as if he were at a dinner party. His quickness of eye and ear in presiding over the House, his untiring attention, which never flags for a moment, seem to give his presence a species of ubiquity. His manner towards a member when speaking is that of an earnest listener, and so completely is he master of this art of necessary politeness, that even when he is signing bills, or doing some other indispensable duty, it would not be apparent that he had in the least withdrawn his attention. His knowledge of the rules of the House is more extens sive and minute than that of any member of the body, and this doubtless is one cause of his admirable success in conducting its business. Mr. Polk must have worked hard to acquire this, but its possession has been proved on so many occasions that it is no longer dis puted. In stating a decision, or settling a point of order, his man❤ ner and tone are at once fluent and collected, as if speaking from an entire consciousness of right, and intimate knowledge of his position. The soundness of his judgment has been confirmed in repeated appeals which disconcerted partizans have made from his decisions. Every party now willingly unites in testifying to the rare ability and success with which he has filled this most difficult and unenviable position.
Who will be his successor, I cannot foretell; but this is certain, that it will be easier to find a successor to his place, than to fill his place. By his prompt and firm interposition of the authority of the chair, he has guided the House through many storms and agitations; and often have I seen shallow impertinence and brazen impudence abashed by his collected and dignified rebuke.
Immediately below the Speaker, at the centre of the semicircular table or tribune which fronts the Hall, the figure of a young man with spectacles, oval countenance, and hair brushed aside from his forehead, will attract the attention. It is Hugh A. Garland, of Virginia, the new Clerk of the House, whose election at the commencement of the present Session over Mr. St. Clair Clarke, an opponent so influential and so popular that he was believed to be invincible, was a source of much congratulation to the administration party, and of surprise as well as mortification to the opposition. Though scarcely over thirty, Mr. Garland has brought to his present position a high political reputation, the more honorable as it was achieved in a State prolific of public talent, and where the science of politics is more generally cultivated and understood than in any other part of the Union. His career in the Legislature of Virginia was brilliant and successful. He was prominent among those who, in that highly respectable and leading assembly, took ground in support of the late President Jackson, upon the great financial questions which were agitated during his administration.