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acquired property of a few bosoms; they were abroad in the land in the ages before ; they had always been taught, like the truths of the Bible; they had descended from father to son, down from those primitive days, when the pilgrim, established in his simple dwelling, and seated at his blazing fire, piled high from the forest which shaded his door, repeated to his listening children the story of his wrongs and his resistance, and bade them rejoice, though the wild winds and the wild beasts were howling without, that they had nothing to fear from great men's oppression and the bishops' rage.
Here were the beginnings of the revolution. Every settler's hearth was a school of independence ; the scholars were apt, and the lessons sunk deeply; and thus it came that our country was always free; it could not be other than free.
As deeply seated as was the principle of liberty and resistance to arbitrary power, in the breasts of the Puritans, it was not more so than their piety and sense of religious obligation. They were emphatically a people, whose God was the Lord. Their form of government was as strictly theocratical, if direct communication be excepted, as was that of the Jews; insomuch that it would be difficult to say where there was any civil authority among them entirely distinct from ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
Whenever a few of them settled a town, they immediately gathered themselves into a church; and their elders were magistrates, and their code of laws was the Pentateuch. These were forms, it is true, but forms which faithfully in. dicated principles and feelings; for no people could have adopted such forms, who were not thoroughly imbued with the spirit, and bent on the practice, of religion.
God was their King; and they regarded him as twly and literally so, as if he had dwelt in a visible palace in the midst of their state. They were his devoted, resolute, hunible şubjectş; they undertook nothing which they did not beg of hiin to prosper; they accomplished nothing without rendering to him the praise; they suffered nothing without carry. ing up their sorrows his throne; they ate* nothing which they did not implore him to bless.
Their piety was not merely external ; it was sincere; i: had the proof of a good tree, in bearing good fruit; it produced and sustained a strict morality. Their tenacious purity of nianners and speech obtained for them, in the mother country, their name of Puritans; which, though given in derision, was as honourable a one as was ever bestowed by man on man.
* Pron. et.
That there were hypocrites among them, is not to be doubted; but they were rare; the men who voluntarily exiled themselves to an unknown coast, and endured there every toil and hardship for conscience' sake, and that they might serve God in their own manner, were not likely to set conscience at defiance, and make the service of God a mock. ery; they were not likely to be, neither were they, hypo crites. I do not know that it would be arrogating too much for them to say, that, on the extended surface of the globe, there was not a single community of men to be compared with them, in the respects of deep religious impressions, and an exact performance of moral duty.
The same, concluded.
What I would especially inculcate is, that, estimating as impartially as we are able the virtues and defects of ow forefathers' character, we should endeavour to imitate the first, and avoid the last.
Were they tenderly jealous of their inborn rights, and resolved to maintain them, in spite of the oppressor ? And shall we ever be insensible to their value, and part with the vigilance which should watch, and the courage which should defend them ? Rather let the ashes of our fathers, which have been cold so long, warm and quicken in their graves, and return imbodied to the surface, and drive away their degenerate sons from the soil which their toils and sufferings purchased!
Rather let the beasts of the wilderness come back to a wilderness, and couch for prey in our desolate gardens, and bring forth their young in our marts, and howl nightly to the moon, amidst the grass-grown ruins of our prostrate cities ! Rather let the red sons of the forest reclaim their pleasant hunting grounds, and rekindle the council fires which once threw their glare upon the eastern water, and roam over our hills and plains, without crossing a single track of the white man !
I am no advocate for war. I abominate its spirit and its cruelties. But to me there appears a wide and essential difference between resistance and aggression. It is aggression, it is the love of arbitrary domination, it is the insane thirst for what the world has too long and too indiscriminately called glory, which light up the flames of war and devastation.
Without aggression on the one side, no resistance would he roused on the other, and there would be no war. And if all aggression was met by determined resistance, then, too, there would be no war; for the spirit of aggression would be humbled and repressed. I would that it might be the universal principle of our countrymen, and the determination of our rulers, never to offer the slightest injury, never 10 commit the least outrage, though it were to obtain territory, or fame, or any selfish advantage.
In this respect I would that the example which was sometimes set by our forefathers, might be altogether forsaken. But let us never forsake their better example of stern resistance; let us cherish and perpetuate their lofty sentiments of freedom; let us tread the soil which they planted for us as free as they did, or lie down at once beside them.
“The land we from our fathers had in trust
Of them that were before us," Our fathers were pious---eminently so. Let us forever venerate and imitate this part of their character. When the children of the pilgrims forget that Being, who was the pilgrim's Guide and Deliverer; when the descendants of the Puritans cease to acknowledge, and obey, and love that Being, for whose service the Puritans forsook all that men chiefly love, enduring scorn and reproach, exile and poverty, and finding at last a superabundant reward; when the sons of a religious and holy ancestry fall away from its high communion, and join themselves to the assemblies of the profane;-they have stained the lustre of their parentage; They have forfeited the dear blessings of their inheritance: and they deserve to be cast out from this fair land without
even a wilderness for their refuge. No! Let us still keep
be thought, that, even granting this to be their fault, we are so rapidly advancing toward an opposite extreme, that any thing like a caution against it is out of season, and superfluous. And yet I see not why the notice of every fault should not be accompanied with a corresponding caution.
That we are in danger of falling into one excess, is a reason why we should be most anxiously on our guard at the place of exposure; but it is no reason why another excess should not be reprobated, and pointed out with the finger of warning. The difficulty is, and the desire and effort should be, between these, as well as all other extremes, to steer an equal course, and preserve a safe medium.
I acknowledge that luxury, and the blandishments of prosperity and wealth, are greatly to be feared; and if our softnesses, and indulgences, and foreign fashions, must, inevitably, accomplish our seduction, and lead us away from the simplicity, honesty, sobriety, purity, and manly independence of our forefathers, most readily and fervently would I exclaim, Welcome back to the pure old times of the Puritans ! welcome back to the strict observances of their strictest days. welcome, thrice welcome, to all their severity, all their gloom ! for infinitely better would be hard doctrines and dark brows, Jewish Sabbaths, strait garments, formal manners, and a harsh guardianship, than dissoluteness and effeminacy; than empty pleasures and shameless debauchery; than lolling ease, and pampered pride, and fluttering vanity; than unprincipled, faithless, corrupted rulers, and a people unworthy of a more exalted government.
But is it necessary that we must be either gloomy or corrupt, either formal or profane, either extravagant in strictness, or extravagant in dissipation and levity? Can we not so order our habits, and so fix our principles, as not to suffer the luxuries of our days to choke, and strangle, with their rankness, the simple morality of our fathers' days, nor permit a reverence for their stiff and inappropriate formali
ties and austerities to overshadow and repress our innocent comforts and delights?
Let us attempt, at least, to maintain ourselves in so desirable a medium. Let us endeavour to preserve whatever was excellent in the manners and lives of the Puritans, while we forsake what was inconsistent or unreasonable ; and then we shall hardly fail to be wiser and happier, and even better than they were.
Extract from the Speech of W. Prit, Earl of Chatham, in
the British Parliament, January, 1775.
My lords—I rise with astonishment to see these papers brought to your table at so late a period of this business ;papers, to tell us what? Why, what all the world knew before; that the Americans, irritated by repeated injuries, and stripped of their inborn rights and dearest privileges, have resisted, and entered into associations for the preservation of their common liberties.
Had the early situation of the people of Boston been attended to, things would not have come to this. But the infant complaints of Boston were literally treated like the capricious squalls of a child, who, it was said, did not know whether it was aggrieved or not. But, full well I knew, at that time, that this child, if not redressed, would soon assume the courage and voice of a man. Full well I knew, that the sons of ancestors, born under the same free constitution, and once breathing the same liberal air, as Englishinen, would resist upon the same principles, and on the same occasions.
What has government done? They have sent an armed force, consisting of seventeen thousand men, to dragoon' the Bostonians into what is called their duty; and, so far from once turning their eyes to the impolicy and destructive consequence of this scheme, are constantly sending out more troops. And we are told, in the language of menace, that if seventeen thousand men won't do, fifty thousand shall.
It is true, my lords, with this force, they may ravage the country, waste and destroy as they march; but, in the progress of fifteen hundred miles, can they occupy the places