Page images

and ignominious situation, where we cannot act with success, nor suffer with honour, calls upon us to remonstrate in the strongest and loudest language of truth, to rescue the ear of majesty from the delusions which surround it. The desperate state of our arms abroad is in part known ; no man thinks more highly of them than I do. I love and honour the English troops. I know their virtues and their valour. I know they can achieve any thing except impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility. You cannot, I venture to say it, you cannot conquer America.


You may swell every expense, and every effort, still more extravagantly; pile and accumulate every assistance you can buy or borrow; traffic and barter with every little pitiful German Prince, that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign Prince; your efforts are for ever vain and impotent doubly so from this mercenary aid on which you rely. For it irritates, to an incurable resentment, the minds of your enemies-to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder; devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty! If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms-never, never, never.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Extract from Lord MANSFIELD's Opinion, on the Outlawry of WILKES.

It has been intimated, that consequences of a frightful nature will flow from the establishment of this outlawry. It is said the people expect the reversal; that the temper of the times demands it; that the multitude will have it so; that the continuation of the outlawry in force will not be endured; that the execution of the law upon the defendant will be resisted. These are arguments which will not weigh a feather with me. If insurrection and rebellion are to follow our determinations, we have not to answer for the consequences, though we should be the innocent cause. We e can only say, Fiat justitia, ruat celWe shall discharge our duty, without expectations of approbation, or apprehensions of censure. If we be subjected to the latter, unjustly, we must submit to it. We cannot prevent it. We will take care not to deserve it. He must be a weak inan indeed, who can be staggered by such a consideration.


We are careless of the mis-apprehension, or mis-representation of the ignorant, or the wicked, and of the mendax infamia,

[ocr errors]


which is the consequence of both. These things make no impression on men of firmness and intrepidity. Those who imagine judges are capable of being influenced by such indirect and unworthy means, most grossly deceive themselves. my own part, I trust that my temper and the texture of my life have furnished me with a suit of armour to shield me from such arrows. If I have ever supported the King's measures; if I have ever afforded any assistance to government; if I have discharged my duty as a public or private character, by endeavouring to preserve pure and perfect the principles of the constitution; maintain unsullied, the honour of the courts of justice; and by uprightly administering, giving energy to the laws, I have hitherto done it without any other gift or reward, than that most pleasing and most honourable one, the conscientious conviction of rectitude. I do not affect to scorn the opinions of mankind. I wish earnestly for popularity. I will seek and have popularity. But I will tell you how I will obtain it. I will have that popularity which follows, not that which is run after. It is not the applause of a day, it is not the huzzas of thousands that can give a moment's satisfaction to a rational being. That man's mind must indeed be a weak one, and his ambition of a most depraved sort, who can be seduced by such wretched allurements, or satisfied by such momentary gratifications. I say with the Roman orator, and I can say it with as much truth as he did; Ego hoc animo semper fui,__ut invidiam, virtute partam, gloriam non infamiam putarem. But threats have been carried farther. Personal violence has been denounced, unless popular humour be obeyed. I do not fear such threats. I do not believe there is any reason to fear them. It is not the genius of the worst men in the worst times to proceed to such shocking extremities. But if such an event should happen, let it be so. Even such an event might be productive of wholesome effects. Such a stroke might rouse the better part of the nation from their lethargy, to an active and alert state, to assert and execute the law, and to punish the daring and impious hands, which had violated it. Men, who now supinely behold the danger, which threatens all liberty with the most abandoned licentiousness, might by such an event, be roused to a sense of their situation, as drunken men are sometimes stunned into sobriety. If the security of our persons and our property, of all we hold dear and valuable, are to depend on the caprice of a giddy multitude, or be at the disposal of a giddy mob; if in compliance with their humour, and to appease their clamours, all civil and political institutions are to be disregarded or overthrown, a life of somewhat more than sixty years is

not worth preserving at such a price. He can never die too soon, who lays down his life, in support and vindication of the policy, the government and the constitution of his country.

Manifesto of the Congress of the United States in 1775,

But why should we enumerate our injuries in detail? by one statute it is declared that parliament "can of right make laws to bind in all cases whatsoever." What is it to defend us against so enormous, so unlimited a power? Not a single man of those who assume it is chosen by us, or is subject to our controul or influence, but on the contrary, they are all of them exempt from the operation of such laws, and an American revenue, if not diverted from the ostensible purposes for which it is raised, would actually lighten their own burdens, in proportion as they increase ours. We saw the misery to which such despotism would reduce us. We for ten years incessantly and ineffectually besieged the throne as supplicants, we reasoned, we remonstrated with parliament in the most mild and decent language.

We are reduced to the alternative, of choosing either an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice: we have counted the cost of the contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honour, justice, and humanity forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and disgrace of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.

Our cause is just, our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable: We gratefully acknowledge as signal marks of divine favour towards us, that his Providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength; had been previously exercised in warlike operations, and possessed of the means of defending ourselves. With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, DECLARE, that exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent creator has graciously bestowed on us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, will,

in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perse verence, be employed for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.

Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of any of our friends and fellow subjects in any part of the empire, we assure them we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored; necessity has not yet driven us into that desperate measure, or induced us to excite any other nation to war against them: we have not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great Britain and establish_ ing independent states. We fight not for glory or for conquest. We exhibit to mankind the remarkable spectacle of a people attacked by unprovoked enemies without any imputation or even suspicion of offence. They boast of these privileges and civilization, and yet proffer no milder terms than servitude or death.

In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birth-right, and which we ever enjoyed until the late violation of it, for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our forefathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the ag gressors, and all danger of their being renewed, shall be removed, and not before.

Extract from EVERETT's Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

The most powerful motives call on us for those efforts, which our common country demands of all her children. Most of us are of that class, who owe whatever of knowledge has shone intą our minds, to the free and popular institutions of our native land, There are few of us, who may not be permitted to boast, that we have been reared in an honest poverty or a frugal competence, and owe every thing to those means of education, which are equally open to all. We are summoned to new energy and zeal by the high nature of the experiment we are appointed in Provi dence to make, and the grandeur of the theatre on which it is to be performed. When the old world afforded no longer any hope, it pleased Heaven to open this last refuge of humanity. The attempt has begun, and is going on, far from foreign corruption,

on the broadest scale, and under the most benignant auspices; and it certainly rests with us to solve the great problem in human society, to settle, and that forever, the momentous question -whether mankind can be trusted with a purely popular system? One might almost think, without extravagance, that the departed wise and good of all places and times, are looking down from their happy seats to witness what shall now be done by us; that they who, lavished their treasures and their blood of old, who laboured and suffered, who spake and wrote, who fought and perished, in the one great cause of Freedom and Truth, are now hanging from their orbs on high, over the last solemn experiment of humanity. As I have wandered over the spots, once the scene of their labours, and mused among the prostrate columns of their senate houses and forums, I have seemed almost to hear a voice from the tombs of departed ages; from the sepulchres of the nations, which died before the sight, They exhort us, they adjure us to be faithful to our trust. They implore us, by the long trials of struggling humanity, by the blessed memory of the departed; by the dear faith, which has been plighted by pure hands, to the holy cause of truth and man; by the awful secrets of the prison houses, where the sons of freedom have been immured; by the noble heads which have been brought to the block; by the wrecks of time, by the eloquent ruins of nations, they conjure us not to quench the light which is rising on the world. Greece cries to us, by the convulsed lips of her poisoned, dying Demosthenes; and Rome pleads with us in the mute persuasion of her mangled Tully.Yes, such is the exhortation which calls on us to exert our powers, to employ our time, and consecrate our labors in the cause of our native land;

In that high romance, if romance it be, in which the great minds of antiquity sketched the fortunes of the ages to come, they pictured to themselves a favoured region beyond the ocean, a land of equal laws and happy men. The primitive poets beheld it in the islands of the blest; the Doric bards surveyed it in the Hyperborean regions; the sage of the academy placed it in the lost Atlantis ; and even the sterner spirit of Seneca could discern a fairer abode of humanity, in distant regions then unknown. We look back upon these uninspired predictions, and almost recoil from the obligation they imply. By us must these fair visions be realized, by us must be fulfilled these high promises, which burst in trying hours from the longing hearts of the champions of truth. There are no more continents or worlds to be revealed; Atlantis hath arisen from the ocean, the far

« PreviousContinue »