Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 9.djvu/141

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CORWIN


Mr President, this uneasy desire to augment our territory has depraved the moral sense and blunted the otherwise keen sagacity of our people. What has been the fate of all nations who have acted upon the idea that they must advance! Our young orators cherish this notion with a fervid but fatally mistaken zeal. They call it by the mysterious name of "destiny." "Our destiny," they say, is "onward," and hence they argue, with ready sophistry, the propriety of seizing upon any territory and any people that may lie in the way of our "fated" advance. Recently these progressives have grown classical; some assiduous student of antiquities has helped them to a patron saint. They have wandered back into the desolate Pantheon, and there, among the polytheistic relics of that "pale mother of dead empires,"[1] they have found a god whom these Romans, centuries gone by, baptized "Terminus."[2]

Sir, I have heard much and read somewhat of this gentleman Terminus. Alexander, of whom I have spoken, was a devotee of this divinity. We have seen the end of him and his empire. It was said to be an attribute of this god that he must always advance and never recede. So both republican and imperial Rome

  1. "Lone mother of dead empires," are Byron's exact words.
  2. Terminus, in Roman mythology, was the god who presided over the boundaries of States, and was represented without arms or legs, in order to indicate that he never gave up a place he had once occupied.