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stood, no question could be more full of interest; if we look at it now, and judge of its importance by its effects, it appears in still greater magnitude.
2. Let us, then, bring before us the assembly, which was about to decide a question thus big with the fate of empire. Let us open their doors, and look in upon their deliberations. Let us survey the anxious and care-worn countenances, let us hear the firm-toned voice of this band of patriots. HANcock presides over the solemn sitting; and one of those not yet prepared to pronounce for absolute independence, is on the floor, and is urging his reasons for dissenting from the declaration.
3. "Let us pause! This step, once taken, cannot be retracted. This resolution, once passed, will cut off all hope of reconciliation. If success attend the arms of England, we shall then be no longer colonies, with charters, and with privileges; these will all be forfeited by this act; and we shall be in the condition of other conquered people-at the mercy of the conquerors.
4. "For ourselves, we may be ready to run the hazard; but are we ready to carry the country to that length? Is success so probable as to justify it? Where is the military, where the naval power, by which we are to resist the whole strength of the arm of England ?—for she will exert that strength to the utmost. Can we rely on the constancy and perseverance of the people? or will they not act, as the people of other countries have acted, and, wearied with a long war, submit, in the end, to a worse oppression?
5. "While we stand on our old ground, and insist on redress of grievances, we know we are right, and are not answerable for consequences. Nothing, then, can be imputable to us. But, if we now change our object, carry our pretensions farther, and set up for absolute independence, we shall lose the sympathy of mankind. We shall no longer be defending what we possess, but struggling for something which we never did possess, and which we have solemnly and uniformly disclaimed all intention of pursuing, from the very outset of the troubles. Abandoning thus our old ground, of resistance only to arbitrary acts of oppression, the nations will believe the whole to have been mere pretense, and they will look on us, not as injured, but as ambitious subjects.
6. "I shudder before this responsibility. It will be on us, if, relinquishing the ground we have stood on so long, and
Pre sides', sits over, directs.
d Con'-stan-cy, fixedness, steadiness.
stood on so safely, we now proclaim independence, and carry on the war for that object, while these cities burn, these pleasant fields whiten and bleach with the bones of their owners, and these streams run blood. It will be upon us, it will be upon us, if, failing to maintain this unseasonable and illjudged declaration, a sterner despotism, maintained by military power, shall be established over our posterity, when we ourselves, given up by an exhausted, a harrassed, a misled people, shall have expiated1 our rashness, and atoned for our presumption on the scaffold."
7. It was for Mr. Adams to reply to arguments like these. "It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence. But there's a Divinity which shapes our ends. The injustice of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded to her interest, for our good she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours. Why, then, should we defer the declaration? Is any man so weak as now to hope for a reconciliation with England, which shall leave either safety to the country and its liberties, or safety to his own life, and his own honor?
8. "Are not you, sir, who sit in that chair; is not he, our venerable colleague near you; are you not both already the proscribed and predestined objects of punishment and of vengeance? Cut off from all hope of royal clemency,a what are you, what can you be, while the power of England remains, but outlaws? If we postpone independence, do we mean to carry on, or to give up the war? Do we mean to submit to the measures of parliament, Boston port-bill and all? Do we mean to submit, and consent that we ourselves shall be ground to powder, and our country and its rights trodden down in the dust?
9. "I know we do not mean to submit. We never shall submit. Do we intend to violate that most solemn obligation ever entered into by men, that plighting, before God, of our sacred honor to Washington, when, putting him forth to incur the dangers of war, as well as the political hazards of the times, we promised to adhere to him, in every extremity, with our fortunes, and our lives?
10. "I know there is not a man here, who would not rather see a general conflagratione sweep over the land, or an earthquake sink it, than one jot or tittle of that plighted faith fall to the ground. For myself, having twelve months ago, in this place, moved you, that George Washington be appoint
a Ex'-pi-a-ted, atoned for.
b Pro-scri'-bed, doo:ned to destruction Pre-des'-ti-ned, predetermined.
d Clem'-en-cy, mildness of temper,
e Con-fla-gra'-tion, a great fire.
ed commander of the forces, raised, or to be raised, for defense of American liberty, may my right hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I hesitate or waver in the support I give him.
11. "The war, then, must go on. We must fight it through. And, if the war must go on, why put off longer the declaration of independence? That measure will strengthen us. It will give us character abroad. The nations will then treat with us, which they never can do while we acknowledge ourselves subjects, in arms against our sovereign. Nay, I maintain that England herself will sooner treat for peace with us on the footing of independence, than consent, by repealing her acts, to acknowledge that her whole conduct toward us has been a course of injustice and oppression.
12. "Her pride will be less wounded by submitting to that course of things which now predestinates our independence, than by yielding the points in controversy to her rebellious subjects. The former she would regard as the result of fortune; the latter she would feel as her own deep disgrace.Why then, sir, do we not, as soon as possible, change this from a civil to a national war? And, since we must fight it through, why not put ourselves in a state to enjoy all the benefits of victory, if we gain the victory?
13. "If we fail, it can be no worse for us.-But we shall not fail. The cause will raise up armies; the cause will create navies. The people, if we are true to them, will carry us, and will carry themselves, gloriously through this struggle. I care not how fickle other people have been found. know the people of these colonies; and I know that resistance to British aggression is deep and settled in their hearts, and cannot be eradicated. Every colony, indeed, has expressed its willingness to follow if we but take the lead.
14. "Sir, the declaration will inspire the people with increased courage. Instead of a long and bloody war for restoration of privileges, for redress of grievances, for chartered immunities held under a British king, set before them the glorious object of entire independence, and it will breathe into them anew the breath of life. Read this declaration at the head of the army; every sword will be drawn from its scabbard, and the solemn vow uttered, to maintain it or to perish on the bed of honor.
15. "Publish it from the pulpit; religion will approve it, and the love of religious liberty will cling around it, resolved to stand with it, or fall with it. Send it to the public halls ; proclaim it there; let them hear it, who heard the first roar b E-rad'-i-ca-ted, rooted out.
a Ag-gres'-sion, act of hostility.
of the enemy's cannon; let them see it, who saw their brothers and their sons fall on the field of Bunker-Hill, and in the streets of Lexington and Concord,—and the very walls will cry out in its support.
16. "Sir, I know the uncertainty of human affairs; but I see clearly through this day's business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to the time, when this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die, colonists; die, slaves; die, it may be, ignominiously, and on the scaffold. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may.
17. "But, whatever may be our fate, be assured that this declaration will stand. It may cost treasure, and it may cost blood; but it will stand, and it will richly compensate for both. Through the thick gloom of the present, I see the brightness of the future as the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious, an immortal day. When we are in our graves our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires, and illuminations. On its annual return, they will shed tears, copious, gushing tears, not of subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but of exultation, of gratitude, and of joy. Sir, before God Í believe the hour is come. My judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it;-sink or swim, survive or perish, I am for the declaration! D. Webster.
Extract of a Speech of Counsellor PHILLIPS, at a public dinner in Ireland, on his health being given, together with that of Mr. Payne, a young American, in 1817.
1. THE mention of America, sir, has never failed to fill me with the most lively emotions. In my earliest infancy,—that tender season when impressions at once the most permanent and the most powerful, are likely to be excited,-the story of her then recent struggle raised a throb in every heart that loved liberty, and wrung a reluctant tribute even from discomfited oppression.
2. I saw her spurning alike the luxuries that would enervate, and the legions that would intimidate; dashing from her lips the poisoned cup of European servitude; and, through all the vicissitudes of her protracted conflict, displaying a a Ig-no-min'-i-ous-ly, disgracefully. Com'-pen-sate, to make amends.
magnanimity that defied misfortune, and a moderation that gave new grace to victory. It was the first vision of my childhood; it will descend with me to the grave. But if, as a man, I venerate the mention of America, what must be my feelings toward her as an Irishman! Never, O! never, while memory remains, can Ireland forget the home of her emigrant,a and the asylum of her exile.
3. No matter whether their sorrows sprung from the errors of enthusiasm, or the realities of suffering; from fancy or infliction that must be reserved for the scrutiny of those, whom the lapse of time shall acquit of partiality. It is for the men of other ages to investigate and record it; but, surely, it is for the men of every age to hail the hospitality that received the shelterless, and love the feeling that befriended the unfortunate.
4. Search creation round, and where can you find a country that presents so sublime a view, so interesting in anticipation? What noble institutions! What a comprehensive policy! What a wise equalization of every political advantage! The oppressed of all countries, the martyr of every creed, the innocent victim of despotic arrogance, of superstitious frenzy, may there find refuge; his industry encouraged, his piety respected, his ambition animated; with no restraint but those laws which are the same to all, and no distinction but that which his merit may originate.
5. Who can deny, that the existence of such a county presents a subject for human congratulation! Who can deny, that its gigantic advancement offers a field for the most rational conjecture! At the end of the very next century, if she proceeds as she seems to promise, what a wondrous spectacle may she not exhibit! Who shall say for what purpose a mysterious Providence may not have designed her? Who shall say, that, when in its follies or its crimes the old world may have interred all the pride of its power, and all the pomp of its civilization, human nature may not find its destined renovation in the new.
Mr. Sheridan's invective against Mr. Hastings.
1. HAD a stranger at this time gone into the province of Oude, ignorant of what had happened since the death of Sujah Dowla,—that man, who with a savage heart had still great
a Em'-i-grant, one who leaves one country to reside in another.
b En-thu'-si-asm, heat of imagination. c Ar'-ro-gance, haughtiness.
d In-vec'-tive, a railing speech.
e Warren Has'-tings, governor of British India in 1786.