Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview

Cassius M. Clay

The meeting on Monday night at the Tabernacle was to us an occasion of deep and peculiar interest.1 It was deep, for the feelings there expressed and answered bore witness to the truth of our belief, that the sense of right is not dead, but only sleepeth in this nation. A man who is manly enough to appeal to it will be answered, in feeling, at least, if not in action, and while there is life there is hope. Those who so rapturously welcomed one who had sealed his faith by deeds of devotion, must yet acknowledge in their breasts the germs of like nobleness.

It was an occasion of peculiar interest, such as we have not had occasion to feel since, in childish years, we saw Lafayette welcomed by a grateful people.2 Even childhood well understood that the gratitude then expressed was not so much for the aid which had been received as for the motives and feelings with which it was given. The nation rushed out as one man to thank Lafayette, that he had been able, amid the prejudices and indulgences of high rank in the old regime of society, to understand the great principles which were about to create a new form, and answer manlike with love, service, and contempt of selfish interests to the voice of Humanity, demanding its rights. Our freedom would have been achieved without Lafayette, but it was a happiness and a blessing to number the young French nobleman as the champion of American Independence, and to know that he had given the prime of his life to our cause, because it was the cause of justice. With similar feelings of joy, pride and hope we welcome Cassius M. Clay, a man who has, in like manner, freed himself from the prejudices of his position, disregarded selfish considerations, and quitting the easy path in which he might have walked to station in the sight

____________________
1
An announcement for Clay's lecture is in the 12 January 1846 New-York Daily Tribune, p. 2, and the event itself is reported in “Cassius M. Clay in New-York,” 13 January 1846, p. 2.
2
Fuller had seen the Marquise de Lafayette when he visited Cambridge in 1824.

-338-

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