Appendix F. Speeches For Study And Practise. Part 2
This last difficulty that you have so successfully up to now surmounted, at the present hour confronts the mother country and deeply perplexes her statesmen. Liberty and union have been called the twin ideas of America. So, too, they are the twin ideals of all responsible men in Great Britain; altho responsible men differ among themselves as to the safest path on which to travel toward the common goal, and tho the dividing ocean, in other ways so much our friend, interposes, for our case of an island State, or rather for a group of island States, obstacles from which a continental State like yours is happily altogether free.
Nobody believes that no difficulties remain. Some of them are obvious. But the common-sense, the mixture of patience and determination that has conquered risks and mischiefs in the past, may be trusted with the future.
Strange and devious are the paths of history. Broad and shining channels get mysteriously silted up. How many a time what seemed a glorious high road proves no more than a mule track or mere cul-de-sac. Think of Canning's flashing boast, when he insisted on the recognition of the Spanish republics in South America - that he had called a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old. This is one of the sayings - of which sort many another might be found - that make the fortune of a rhetorician, yet stand ill the wear and tear of time and circumstance. The new world that Canning called into existence has so far turned out a scene of singular disenchantment.
Tho not without glimpses on occasion of that heroism and courage and even wisdom that are the attributes of man almost at the worst, the tale has been too much a tale of anarchy and disaster, still leaving a host of perplexities for statesmen both in America and Europe. It has left also to students of a philosophic turn of mind one of the most interesting of all the problems to be found in the whole field of social, ecclesiastical, religious, and racial movement. Why is it that we do not find in the south as we find in the north of this hemisphere a powerful federation - a great Spanish-American people stretching from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn? To answer that question would be to shed a flood of light upon many deep historic forces in the Old World, of which, after all, these movements of the New are but a prolongation and more manifest extension.
What more imposing phenomenon does history present to us than the rise of Spanish power to the pinnacle of greatness and glory in the sixteenth century? The Mohammedans, after centuries of fierce and stubborn war, driven back; the whole peninsula brought under a single rule with a single creed; enormous acquisitions from the Netherlands of Naples, Sicily, the Canaries; France humbled, England menaced, settlements made in Asia and Northern Africa - Spain in America become possessed of a vast continent and of more than one archipelago of splendid islands. Yet before a century was over the sovereign majesty of Spain underwent a huge declension, the territory under her sway was contracted, the fabulous wealth of the mines of the New World had been wasted, agriculture and industry were ruined, her commerce passed into the hands of her rivals.
Let me digress one further moment. We have a very sensible habit in the island whence I come, when our country misses fire, to say as little as we can, and sink the thing in patriotic oblivion. It is rather startling to recall that less than a century ago England twice sent a military force to seize what is now Argentina. Pride of race and hostile creed vehemently resisting, proved too much for us. The two expeditions ended in failure, and nothing remains for the historian of to-day but to wonder what a difference it might have made to the temperate region of South America if the fortune of war had gone the other way, if the region of the Plata had become British, and a large British immigration had followed. Do not think me guilty of the heinous crime of forgetting the Monroe Doctrine. That momentous declaration was not made for a good many years after our Gen. Whitelocke was repulsed at Buenos Ayres, tho Mr. Sumner and other people have always held that it was Canning who really first started the Monroe Doctrine, when he invited the United States to join him against European intervention in South American affairs.
The day is at hand, we are told, when four-fifths of the human race will trace their pedigree to English forefathers, as four-fifths of the white people in the United States trace their pedigree to-day. By the end of this century, they say, such nations as France and Germany, assuming that they stand apart from fresh consolidations, will only be able to claim the same relative position in the political world as Holland and Switzerland. These musings of the moon do not take us far. The important thing, as we all know, is not the exact fraction of the human race that will speak English. The important thing is that those who speak English, whether in old lands or new, shall strive in lofty, generous and never-ceasing emulation with peoples of other tongues and other stock for the political, social, and intellectual primacy among mankind. In this noble strife for the service of our race we need never fear that claimants for the prize will be too large a multitude.
As an able scholar of your own has said, Jefferson was here using the old vernacular of English aspirations after a free, manly, and well-ordered political life - a vernacular rich in stately tradition and noble phrase, to be found in a score of a thousand of champions in many camps - in Buchanan, Milton, Hooker, Locke, Jeremy Taylor, Roger Williams, and many another humbler but not less strenuous pioneer and confessor of freedom. Ah, do not fail to count up, and count up often, what a different world it would have been but for that island in the distant northern sea! These were the tributary fountains, that, as time went on, swelled into the broad confluence of modern time. What was new in 1776 was the transformation of thought into actual polity.