It is the peculiar good fortune of this country to have given birth to a citizen whose name everywhere produces a sentiment of regard for his country itself. In other countries, whenever and wherever this is spoken of to be praised, it is called the country of Washington. I believe there is no people, civilized or savage, in any place however remote, where the name of Washington has not been heard, and where it is not respected with the fondest admiration. We are told that the Arab of the desert talks of Washington in his tent, and that his name is familiar to the wandering Scythian. He seems, indeed, to be the delight of humankind, as their beau-ideal of human nature. No American, in any part of the world, but has found the regard for himself increased by his connection with Washington, as his fellow-countryman; and who has not felt a pride, and has occasion to exult, in the fortunate connection?
A century and more has now passed away since he came upon the stage, and his fame first broke upon the world; for it broke like the blaze of day from the rising sun—almost as sudden, and seemingly as universal. The eventful period since that era has teemed with great men, who have crossed the scene and passed off. Some of them have arrested great attention—very great. Still Washington retains his preeminent place in the minds of men; still his peerless name is cherished by them in the same freshness of delight as in the morn of its glory. History will keep a record of his fame; but history is not necessary to perpetuate it. In regions where history is not read, where letters are unknown, it lives, and will go down from age to age, in all future time, in their traditionary lore. Who would exchange this fame, the common inheritance of our country, for the fame of any individual which any country of any time can boast? I would not; with my sentiments I could not.
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The Brightest Name on History’s Page
Land of the West! though passing brief
the record of thine age,
Thou hast a name that darkens all on history’s wide page!
Let all the blasts of Fame ring out,—thine shall be loudest far;
Let others boast their satellites,—thou hast the planet star.
Thou hast a name whose characters of light shall ne’er depart;
’Tis stamped upon the dullest brain, and warms the coldest heart;
A war-cry fit for any land where freedom’s to be won;
Land of the West! it stands alone,—it is thy Washington!
Rome had its Caesar, great and brave,
but stain was on his wreath;
He lived the heartless conqueror, and died the tyrant’s death.
France had its eagle, but his wings, though lofty they might soar,
Were spread in false ambition’s flight, and dipped in murder’s gore.
Those hero-gods, whose mighty sway would fain have chained the waves—
Who flashed their blades with tiger zeal to make a world of slaves—
Who, though their kindred barred the path, still fiercely waded on,
Oh, where shall be their “glory” by the side of Washington!