BY Robert Fowle, Rector of the Episcopal Church, New-Holderness.




AN Oration.

"To boast our Liberty, is weak and vain,
While tyrant vices in our bosom reign;
Nor Liberty alone our Nation saves—
Corrupted Freemen are the worst of slaves."

WE are assembled to commemorate the an­niversary of the birth-day of our Country. The smiles of Heaven have, as yet, blessed that effort of our infancy when the intrepid Fathers of our Nation declared us a free, sovereign and independ­ent People, while the floating batteries of Great-Britain pointed the fateful tubes of war against our shores, and its armies were ravaging our territories.

AFTER a seven years struggle, led on by the illustrious Hero of the age, our enemies, aston­ished at the efforts of our hardy yeomen, whose valor only was discipline, and the skill of whose Leader they found to be strength, granted us the precious boon of Independence. The clangor of arms was heard no more, and the clarion of war ceased to assail our ears.

AT an early period of the settlement of this Country, the discerning eye of the politician must [Page 6] have seen that the Independence of America was an embryo in the womb of time. If its birth was premature, the weakness of the infant has been cherished with a proportionate degree of tender­ness—its growth has improved—it has now reach­ed the stature, and assumes the dignity, of manhood. During the interval, till it arrived to its present state, our infant Republic was not without symp­toms, which its ablest physicians have thought to be dangerous.

AFTER the establishment of peace, a portent­ous cloud hung around our horizon. The arm of the Nation became nerveless. The old Confed­eration, paralized by the impeded flowing of the nervous spirits of the Union, proved inadequate, and unable to conduct the great affairs of the Na­tion.—But by an exertion which perhaps history can scarcely parallel—by an unanimity equalled only in the records of American virtue, the old Constitution was suffered to expire, and a new one, like the Phenix from its ashes, rose in its place, consolidated the Union, and gave vigor to Government. Selected from the volume of expe­rience, composed by the events of past ages, it profited by the errors of former times, and ap­pears to be a happy transcript of human political wisdom—and by the firmness and integrity of its Administration, has drawn forth flattering encomi­ums from the pens of European politicians. But [Page 7] its effects pronounce its eulogium—These were felt like the electric shock through the body of the Nation. The active hand of industry, which had almost forgotten its office, felt a new flow of spirits and strength—The national credit returned from its ebb; and the war-worn, scarr'd veteran, receiv­ed a pension, for his toil, from the Country which he had fought to save—Our commerce soon whit­ened the ocean; and the treasures of Europe▪ Asia and Africa, were thrown in profusion on the bo­som of our Country—The industrious husband­man, the hardy cultivator of our soil, rose with cheerfulness at the early morn, to pursue the labors of the field; and, fearless of danger, joyfully filled his bosom with sheaves—his Country was free and happy. We might indeed expect that such a Coun­try, under such a Government, would be the proper soil for the luxuriant growth of patriotism; but the richest soils produce the rankest weeds—and Faction, like the tares among the wheat, finds a place in the purest Republics.

THUS, after a train of prosperity had distin­guished America among the nations of Europe, a period of trouble commenced—The jealousy of Great-Britain, suspecting our partial friendship for France, assailed our defenceless commerce. This attack was terminated by an amicable negociation. But when the flame of war burst forth in Europe, and Victory pursued the standards of France, she [Page 8] cast the lustful eye of dominion on the fair Coun­try of America; to violate whose sacred rights, was no barrier to her designs—It was devoted as a victim to swell the catalogue of her perfidies. Jealous of her rival, and emboldened by her ex­ample, our unprotected commerce became an easy prey to her lawless rapacity. When injured, America complained of her wrongs; her Ambas­sadors were treated with insult—The emissariess of the Republic had been commissioned to sow divi­sion among our citizens; that by distracting our councils, they might weaken the energy of Gov­ernment. This fatal principle, the operation of which is marked with a disastrous train of evils among the Republics of Europe, has been too suc­cessfully practised on ours—Its contagion has spread, and our Liberty has been endangered. What had we not to fear, when we consider the means which were used? Its enemies, to effect their purpose, are hurling the shafts of malice, dipp'd in the venomous gall of detraction, against the Rulers of our Nation—The engines of wicked­ness are busily employed to destroy our confidence in them—The measures of Government are held up to view as pregnant with political death—and we are told, that all the evils of Pandora's box are ready to be opened on our devoted Country. If we lived in an age of unquestioning credulity, these fictions might gain the currency of credit.

[Page 9] THE means used for national defence, and the consequent expenses, are also insidiously managed as instruments to persuade the credulous into the belief, that their fatal predictions will soon be veri­fied. But the flimsy covering of their arguments does not screen their futility—A posture of defence is a pledge of security, and we shall gain respect only as we hold ourselves in a condition to com­mand it—Then, and not till then, however galling it may be to the pride of imperious nations, this trib­ute will be paid.

DESIGNING and misled men, thus attempting to sap the foundations of the political edifice, are like the son of Manoah, famous on the records of sacred history, who in the last struggle of his life, to revenge himself for the abuse received from the Philistines, crushed the pillars of the house where they were assembled, and perished with them in its ruin: For what sovereign balsam will these disqui­eted persons apply to the wound which they pretend rankles in their liberties? What deep empirics have discovered a catholicon for the disorders of the body politic? Do they wish to throw their dearest rights on the turbulent ocean of Democracy, and expose them to the gales of man's lawless passions? In doing this, they would grasp at a shadow, while they lose the reality, and find it a dream of mis­judged theory.

[Page 10] PROUD of his Country, proud of its Govern­ment, the true American wishes for no change—His heart is the repository of their love—To the il­lustrious and patriotic Heroes and Statesmen, whom his Country has produced, he is willing to confide its safety—His oraisons will ascend to the Throne of Heaven on the wings of sincerity, that a stream of wisdom from the divine fountain may replenish and fertilize their minds, and that, when the God of nations shall be pleased to call them from the stage of action, they may, like Elijah of old, im­part a two-fold portion of their spirit to succeed­ing Elishas.

BLESSED with a Constitution of Government whose prominent features are wisdom and strength, let us embrace, support, and protect it with an ar­dency of affection, a glow of zeal and a firmness of virtue—Let us esteem it as a most precious treas­ure, and transmit it pure to posterity. Our exer­tions in this cause are not confined to our own per­sons—The lisping infant, whose tender age we are bound to cherish, looks to us for the preservation of the invaluable blessing—And the dear partners of your bosoms, and the pledges of your mutual love, in the eloquent language of a trickling tear, and in the silent, though impressive rhetoric of tender­ness, beseech you to regard your sacred, dearest rights, and not sacrifice your virtue at the altar of Faction.

[Page 11] THE true spirit of an American is figured in the emblem of our Standard. There we behold the Eagle, towering with the boldest flight: In one talon carrying the shafts of death, ready to be hurl­ed with dauntless vigor against the enemies of our Liberty: In the other the olive branch of peace, extended to every nation, stimulated with a desire of friendship on the honorable ground of recipro­cal advantage: In her beak supporting the charter of our Freedom, the birth-right of Americans, and the terror of disorganizers. While the spirit there displayed actuates the Nation in general, we have no enemy to fear. The crest-fallen opposer of Government will hang his head, pressed by the weight of hopeless mischief—Abashed by the vir­tue of its friends, he will seek a refuge in the cov­ert of obscurity, and emaciate with the mania of disappointed ambition.

PERHAPS the crisis is nearly arrived, when our virtue is to be proved; when our patriotism is to be assayed on the touchstone or purity. We hope it will bear the most scrutinizing trial, and come forth as silver seven times purified in the fire. The integrity of our Chief Magistrate, the fortress of our safety, is assailed by arts whose meanness is characteristic of its opposers. While the virtuous citizens of America glory in his wisdom and firm­ness, they analizing the merits of others by the standard formed in their own judgments, would [Page 12] blast his fame, and wrest the staff of Government from his hands. But though they may attempt to hide the virtues of an ADAMS in the mists of as­persion, their lustre will dispel the cloud, and while it charms the lovers of real merit, will flash blind­ness on the eye-balls of Calumny. We trust he will yet be the magnet of our affections, and that our choice will be directed to this Pole-star of our hopes—Let us strengthen his arm by our confi­dence. Shielded by this, the shafts of malice will spend their force, and fall guiltless of injury. We may fear that their plans are extended through the different parts of the Union; and that by their ar­tifices, manoeuvres, and a false show of patriotism, many well meaning citizens have been duped into their designs, and, unconscious of danger, have been ensnared by the cobweb machinery of their pretexts.

THE Federalism of New-Hampshire has tri­umphed. Although some of her sister States have yielded their honor, we are not without a hope that they will awake from their lethargy, and with manly vigor oppose their danger.

WE have a loud call for the faithful exercise of our Virtue. If we yield this fortress, the Pal­ladium of our Liberty, we throw ourselves on the bosom of destruction. And let us not forget that the altars of our holy Religion must be guarded [Page 13] and protected by the hands of piety. We must reverence its sacred precepts, which teach submis­sion to rightful authority. The Philosophy, which blasts the hopes of a Christian, and which, by shut­ting the avenues to future bliss, robs him of his best comfort, that cordial to the way-worn pilgrim of piety, merits our detestation. When men are taught that death is an eternal sleep, the flattering doctrine blunts the stings of vice; and the fear of future punishment, which in some measure arrests its prev­alence, is thereby diminished.

A GOVERNMENT without Religion, is but a feeble sanction to the rights of the citizen. To this, the perpetration of the most barbarous deeds in France, bears an agonizing testimony. Tho' once the leading model of polished manners, that nation has shewn itself capable of actions which the tongue of a Christian would not wish to relate, nor could his ear listen to the recital without horror. The wounds which we have received from this deficien­cy of principle, still bleed, and speak with a thou­sand mouths. Arm yourselves, therefore, against the attacks on the invaluable blessing of your Reli­gion. The pens of writers worthy a better cause, with shining abilities and with subtilty of argument, are endeavoring to disseminate the most pernicious poi­son into our minds:—But let the sentiments of the revered WASHINGTON prove an antidote to its [Page 14] effects. Though this primary Star in the Constel­lation of American worthies has set—though the cold hand of death has sealed the eyes of this illus­trious Hero and Statesman, yet he still lives in our memories; he lives in the great example which he has left his Countrymen; he lives in the records of his wisdom which he has bequeathed to them and their Posterity. In these he hath taught us, that, "of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are in­dispensable supports. In vain (adds he) would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human hap­piness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens." Let us engrave these sentiments on our hearts, in characters durable as his fame, and bright as the virtue which suggested them.

IT becomes us, as a free, sovereign and inde­pendent Nation, to be prepared for every event which political discernment may predict as possible. Though the prospect of peace glimmers with a ray of hope, the blessing may be more distant than our wishes may lead us to expect. But while we cher­ish and show a disposition for peace, we are free from the charge of delighting in the desolations of war; and shall prove to the world with what reluc­tance we should appeal to this last and dreadful re­source—and that we wish "the rights and liberties [Page 15] of nations to be fully restored." Blessed with the means of national happiness, independence, and glory, we desire only the undisturbed enjoyment of what Heaven has been pleased to bestow on our Country. Let us prove to the world, that the vi­olator of these enjoyments will find the rouzed re­sentment of Americans will not be easily appeased. While our Navy is chastizing the marauders of the ocean, may the public virtue of our citizens beam like the splendor of the Sun, and like the destruc­tive lightning blast the plots inimical to the peace and happiness of our Country.—

THEN may we hope, that till the Conqueror of Time has extended his banners over the world, and Kingdoms, Empires and States, have yielded to his dominion, the prosperity of Columbia will be continued—and that its Freedom and Indepen­dence will only end with the last wreck of matter,

May Heav'n indulgent hear this last request,
And grant Columbia ever to be blest;
Inspire her Sons with Freedom's sacred flame,
And give our Liberty a deathless name.
Long may her ADAMS guide the helm of State—
Heav'n's choicest blessings be his happy fate,
Till death shall call him to the realms above,
To dwell forever with the GOD of love.

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