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man of any literary description whatever, has come up, in the one instance to the pure sentiments of morality, or in the other, to that variety of knowledge, force of imagination, propriety and vivacity of allusion, beauty and elegance of diction, strength and copiousness of style, pathos and sublimity of conception, to which we this day listened with ardor and admiration. From poetry up to eloquence there is not a species of composition, of which a complete and perfect specimen might not, from that single speech, be culled and collected. Burke.
Extract from Mr. Pitt's Speech in the British Parliament,
1. WHEN your lordships look at the papers transmitted to us from America,-when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom,-you cannot but respect their cause, and wish to make it your own. For myself, I must declare and avow, that in all my reading and observation, (and it has been my favorite study: I have read Thucidydes, and have studied and admired the master-spirits of the world,) I say I must declare, that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of difficult circumstances, no nation nor body of men, can stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia.
2. I trust it is obviousd to your lordships, that all attempts to impose servitude upon such men,-to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation,-must be vain, must be fatal. We shall be forced, ultimately, to retract; let us retract while we can, not when we must. I say we must necessarily undo these violent and oppressive acts. They MUST be repealed. You WILL repeal them. I pledge myself for it, that you will in the end repeal them. I stake my reputation on it:-I will consent to be taken for an idiot, if they are not finally repealed.
3. Avoid, then, this humiliating, disgraceful necessity. With a dignity becoming your exalted situation, make the first advances to concord, to peace and happiness: for it is your true dignity to act with prudence and justice. Thaty t you should first concede, is obvious from sound and rational policy. Concession comes with better grace, and more salu
a Diction, manner of expression. Parliament, the legislature of Great
c Thu-cyd'-i-des, a Greek historian.
d Ob'-vi-ous, evident, plain.
e Des'-po-tism, absolute power.
tary effects, from superior power; it reconciles superiority of power with the feelings of men; and establishes solid confidence on the foundation of affection and gratitude.
4. Every motive, therefore, of justice and of policy, of dignity and of prudence, urges you to allay the ferment in America, by a removal of your troops from Boston,-by a repeal of your acts of Parliament, and by demonstration of amicable dispositions toward your colonies. On the one hand, every danger and every hazard impend, to deter you from perseverance in your present ruinous measures.Foreign war hanging over your heads by a slight and brittle thread; France and Spain watching your conduct, and waiting for the maturity of your errors, with a vigilant eye to America and the temper of your colonies, more than to their own concerns, be they what they may.
5. To conclude, my lords, if the ministers thus persevere in misadvising and misleading the King, I will not say, that they can alienate the affections of his subjects from his crown; but I will affirm, that they will make the crown not worth his wearing: I will not say that the King is betrayed; but I will pronounce, that the kingdom is undone.
Extract from a Speech of Patrick Henry, before a Convention of Delegates for the several counties and corporations of Virginia, in March, 1775.
1. MR. HENRY rose with a majesty unusual to him in an exordium, and with all that self-possession by which he was so invariably distinguished. "No man," he said, “thought more highly than he did, of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who had just addressed the house. But different men often saw the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, he hoped it would not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen, if, entertaining as he did, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, he should speak forth his sentiments freely, and without reserve.
2. This was no time for ceremony. The question before the house was one of awful moment to this country. For his own part, he considered it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery. And in proportion to the magnitude of the subject, ought to be the freedom of the debate. It was only in this way that they could hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which they held to God and their
a Am-i-ca-ble, peaceable. A-lien-ate, to estrange.
c Ex-or'-di-um, ntroduction.
d Re-spons'-i bil-i-ty, liability to pay.
country. Should he keep back his opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, he should consider himself as guilty of treason toward his country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which he revered above all earthly kings.
3. "Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Were we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For his part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, he was willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst; and to provide for it.
4. "He had but one lamp by which his feet were guided; and that was, the lamp of experience. He knew of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, he wished to know what there had been in the conduct of the British ministry, for the last ten years, to justify those hopes, with which gentlemen had been pleased to solace themselves and the house? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition, comports with those warlike preparations, which cover our waters and darken our land,
5. "Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation,-the last argument to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies?
6. "No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains, which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we any thing new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every
a Il-lu'-sions, deceptive appearances.
b Sy'-ren, a goddess who enticed men by the charms of music.
c Ar'-du-ous, difficult.
d In-sid'-i-ous, deceitful, sly.
light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find, which have not been already exhausted?
7. "Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. We have done every thing that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition, to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne.
8. "In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free,-if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending,—if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, untill the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained,must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!! An appeal to arms, and to the God of Hosts, is all that is left us!
9. "They tell us, sir, that we are weak-unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies shall have bound us, hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature has placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.
10. "Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God, who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery! a Re-mon'-stra-ted, urged reasons c In-vin'-ci-ble, cannot be conquered. against. d E-lec'-tion, choice, preference.
Sup-pli-ca-ted, entreated, beseeched.
Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitablea—and let it come!! I repeat it, sir, let it come!!!
11. "It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace,-peace,-but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north, will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid Almighty God!-I know not what course others may take; but as for me," cried he, with both his arms extended aloft, his brows knit, every feature marked with the resolute purpose of his soul, and his voice swelled to its loudest note of exclamation,-"give me liberty, or give me death!"
12. He took his seat. No murmur of applause was heard. The effect was too deep. After the trance of a moment, several members started from their seats. The cry, "to arms," seemed to quiver on every lip, and gleam from every eye! Richard H. Lee arose and supported Mr. Henry, with his usual spirit and elegance. But his melody was lost amidst the agitation of that ocean, which the master spirit of the storm had lifted up on high. That supernatural voice still sounded in their ears, and shivered along their arteries. They heard, in every pause, the cry of liberty or death. They became impatient of speech-their souls were on fire for action.- Wirt.
Extract from a Discourse in Commemoration of the Lives and Services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, delivered in Boston, 3d August, 1826.
1. IN July, 1776, our controversyd with Great Britain had passed the stage of argument. An appeal had been made to force, and opposing armies were in the field. Congress then was to decide, whether the tie, which had so long bound us to the parent state, was to be severed at once, and severed forever. All the colonies had signified their resolution to abide by this decision, and the people looked for it with the most intense anxiety. And surely, fellow-citizens, never, never were men called to a more important political deliberation. If we contemplate it from the point where they then
a In-ev'-i-ta-ble, that cannot be avoided. Ex-ten'-u-ate, to lessen, palliate.
c Com-mem-o-ra-tion, public celebration. d Con'-tro-ver-sy, dispute, contention.