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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Peroration of the Oration on ‘The True Grandeur of Nations’
By Charles Sumner (1811–1874)
 
Delivered in Boston July 4th, 1845

THAT future which filled the lofty visions of the sages and bards of Greece and Rome, which was foretold by the prophets and heralded by the evangelists,—when man, in happy isles or in a new Paradise, shall confess the loveliness of peace,—may be secured by your care; if not for yourselves, at least for your children. Believe that you can do it, and you can do it. The true golden age is before you, not behind you. If man has been driven once from paradise, while an angel with a flaming sword forbade his return, there is another paradise, even on earth, which he may form for himself, by the cultivation of knowledge, religion, and the kindly virtues of life: where the confusion of tongues shall be dissolved in the union of hearts; and joyous nature, borrowing prolific charms from the prevailing harmony, shall spread her lap with unimagined bounty, and there shall be a perpetual jocund spring, and sweet strains borne on “the odoriferous wing of gentle gales,” through valleys of delight, more pleasant than the vale of Tempe, richer than the garden of the Hesperides, with no dragon to guard its golden fruit.  1
  Let it not be said that the age does not demand this work. The robber conquerors of the past, from their fiery sepulchres, demand it; the precious blood of millions unjustly shed in war, crying from the ground, demands it; the voices of all good men demand it; the conscience even of the soldier whispers, “Peace.” There are considerations, springing from our situation and condition, which fervently invite us to take the lead in this work. Here should bend the patriotic ardor of the land; the ambition of the statesman; the efforts of the scholar; the pervasive influence of the press; the mild persuasion of the sanctuary; the early teachings of the school. Here, in ampler ether and diviner air, are untried fields for exalted triumphs more truly worthy the American name than any snatched from rivers of blood. War is known as the last reason of kings. Let it be no reason of our Republic. Let us renounce, and throw off forever, the yoke of a tyranny more oppressive than any in the annals of the world. As those standing on the mountain-tops first discern the coming beams of morning, let us, from the vantage-ground of liberal institutions, first recognize the ascending sun of a new era! Lift high the gates, and let the King of Glory in,—the King of true Glory,—of Peace. I catch the last words of music from the lips of innocence and beauty:—
  “And let the whole earth be filled with His glory!”
  2
  It is a beautiful picture in Grecian story, that there was at least one spot, the small island of Delos, dedicated to the gods, and kept at all times sacred from war. No hostile foot ever sought to press this kindly soil; and the citizens of all countries here met, in common worship, beneath the ægis of inviolable peace. So let us dedicate our beloved country; and may the blessed consecration be felt, in all parts, everywhere throughout its ample domain! The temple of honor shall be surrounded, here at last, by the temple of concord, that it may never more be entered through any portal of war; the horn of abundance shall overflow at its gates; the angel of religion shall be the guide over its steps of flashing adamant; while within its enraptured courts, purged of violence and wrong, Justice, returned to the earth from her long exile in the skies, with mighty scales for nations as for men, shall rear her serene and majestic front; and by her side, greatest of all, Charity, sublime in meekness, hoping all and enduring all, shall divinely temper every righteous decree, and with words of infinite cheer shall inspire those good works that cannot vanish away. And the future chiefs of the Republic, destined to uphold the glories of a new era, unspotted by human blood, shall be “the first in peace, and the first in the hearts of their countrymen.”  3
  But while seeking these blissful glories for ourselves, let us strive to extend them to other lands. Let the bugles sound the truce of God to the whole world forever. Let the selfish boast of the Spartan women become the grand chorus of mankind, that they have never seen the smoke of an enemy’s camp. Let the iron belt of martial music which now encompasses the earth, be exchanged for the golden cestus of peace, clothing all with celestial beauty. History dwells with fondness on the reverent homage that was bestowed, by massacring soldiers, upon the spot occupied by the sepulchre of the Lord. Vain man! to restrain his regard to a few feet of sacred mold! The whole earth is the sepulchre of the Lord; nor can any righteous man profane any part thereof. Let us recognize this truth, and now, on this Sabbath of our country, lay a new stone in the grand temple of universal peace, whose dome shall be as lofty as the firmament of heaven, as broad and comprehensive as the earth itself.  4
 
 
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