five column format
From the New York Observer.
LETTERS FROM WASHINGTON.
Feb. 21, 1821
Messrs Editors -- Mr. Everrett has this day concluded his speech on the Indian question, and the House have adjourned, refusing to make a special order for a further hearing of it. Of course it will not come up again till next Monday. Whether the gentlemen, who wish to speak, will be able to satisfy themselves on that day, or whether a special order will then be arranged for this object -- remains to be determined. Hr. Haynes, of Georgia, and Mr. Bell, of Tennessee, have been up today in reply to Mr. Everett -- Mr. Bell being still upon the floor for Monday. The latter gentleman is probably as good an advocate for Georgia, as is likely to stand up. He is an accomplished and powerful orator. I love to hear him -- although his argument, necessarily, is an entire failure thus far. He has promised, however, to triumph -- the poorest thing he has said.
Mr. Bell has said today, with some severity -- that Mr. Everett's argument is only a new and improved edition of his argument last session. There is some truth in it. And why not? How could it be otherwise? The text is the same -- and Mr. Everett has not forgot, even yet, the connection between a text and a sermon. I hope, however, we shall soon have the whole speech. It will not be found tautology, even along side of the other. It ought soon to be forthcoming -- and to be scattered and read through the nation. It was a great, consistent, irresistible argument. His peroration was superlative, both in structure and sentiment. It was hard to shield the heart against its subduing power.
Two of the Cherokees stood immediately behind and over me. In the midst of Mr. Everett's peroration, I though I heard something like a drop of rain fall upon the cape of my cloak, near to my ear. I looked up, and the head of one of these Cherokees had fallen upon his hand, and he was endeavoring to conceal his tears. Sirs -- there is honesty and great power in tears. Never did I stand in such a place before -- never can I expect to again. The moment I discovered the fountain and the cause of that summons of my attention, -- a world of thought and an ocean of feeling rushed upon me. First, I felt like being dissolved and annihilated -- as if I could not stand before that tear. All the sins of the nation done to this people seemed embodied, concentrated in it -- crying for atonement. An innocent drop in itself -- but charged with such associations and such a cause, it seemed to my conscience -- (as a part of the conscience of this community) -- as if charged also with the element of Jehovah's wrath. If the voice of God could hear the cry of Abel's blood, will not his eye regard the Indian's tear, and make inquisition? --- thought I. I looked at the majestic columns of marble, which encircle the Hall, and it seemed -- that they would dissolve, and the lofty dome, supported by them, crush in its falling ruins those very men, who a year ago enacted the ill-fated doom of their red brethren. It seemed so -- for my own weakness practised nought by illusion on all surrounding objects. An Indian bending over me in tears! I knew him -- had talked and sympathized with him. I loved him. But now he asked no sympathy. He was overtaken in an unexpected moment. And he sought to hide his grief -- and in that very effort his grief was betrayed.
A man may listen for hours -- and even days -- the most luminous and powerful ratiocination, that was ever uttered by man -- and on almost any theme -- and still remain in his moral affections unmoved. But who can sustain himself against a tear? Would, that this whole nation could have stood in my place. He, who had been there, would need no other argument.
This seems to me an eventful day. I do not mean this age -- but this day of the year -- of the month -- of the week. To me it seems. For besides the unsubduing scene I have just referred to, ominous I fear, two Indians from the North West called upon me this morning for a trifling errand, and as they retired. One of them whispered to me -- that the Indians, now at Washington, from various parts, in view of their present discouraging prospect -- more discouraging than ever, so far as their hope has been in man -- have agreed to observe a day of religious solemnity on that account -- a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer; and as they immediately withdraw, I understood no more. I confess, Sirs, though perhaps as much alive upon this theme, as is common among the friends of Indians, under all the appeals which have ever been made to me under all their forms -- and with all their concentrated influence and power, and with all the admonitions of judicial visitation from the hand of God, I have ever heard or imagined, as awaiting this nation for the injuries we have done and are ready to do to this afflicted and imploring people; -- as if I had hear nothing, seen nothing, felt nothing before -- the announcement of this contemplated religious solemnity, in such circumstances, for such purposes, and to be observed by such a group -- the representatives of such a people -- has moved me, as if I had been come over by an unexpected and mighty wave of the sea! Are they, indeed, about to give themselves to prayer? to weep before the throne of God? to prefer their complaints into the ear of Him, who will punish the oppressor, and pity the oppressed? Having suffered the breach of all covenants between themselves and us -- are they about to seal a covenant with Jehovah -- that he may be their advocate and their defender? I would not, that they should pray against me; I would not, that they should pray against my people. I would not see them on their knees, and hear them lifting their voices, mingled with their tears, and saying unto God; 'Be thou the avenger of our cause -- and visit our oppressors.' Are there no invisible stores of wrath in the magazines of Jehovah's retribution? Where -- and how far distant -- an on what contingency is suspended -- the scourge of civil discord? And when once it has been broken loose, where will it be restrained? Where sleepeth the spirit of general strife among the nations, that his face should not look on us? Where is the earth quake, and pestilence, and famine -- and the numberless scourges of God's avenging hand -- which ever lie in abeyance to his summons? Dare we challenge them? Can they not -- will they not, some of them, and in their wasting, desolating power, be wakened up by the prayers and strong cryings of these poor Indians? They have appointed a day, in which they are to spread their cause before the throne of heaven. They have no expectancy from earth. Their hearts are sickened by disappointment. They are gathering up their wasted and lost affections -- arming their wounded spirits with a new species of courage -- and beginning to lift their eye up where Jehovah dwells. We, (Christians once) have taken their lands 0-- and they have taken our religion -- and learned to use it against us. Not, that they would hurt us. O no. Nor desire our hurt. Far from it. But we have taught them to pray -- to pray in distress -- and for relief from trouble. But, peradventure, God cannot give them relief, except as he turns his hand upon their oppressors, to humble their pride, and make them will to be just. Shall the sufferer, in the hour of his importunity, while prostrate before the throne, dictate to God the methods of his deliverance? He thinks of his misery -- and he prays for relief as God shall please. This is all. And God chooses his own methods.
For one, I fear the prayers of these Indians. I never looked upon them, as I do this day. I had ever supposed that they were in our hands. But, as I am a Christian, I verily believe -- we are in their hands. They have betaken themselves to a weapon, whose strokes are invisible -- they have engaged in a warfare, the guidance and control of which are vested in the controlling hand. We cannot meet them on this ground, except we come as they -- weeping and repenting. There are no truths more true than these: God will hear prayer, and punish pride -- when the prayer cometh up from the oppressed. And, it is more blessed to be the injured, than the injurer.