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LESSON CXVII.

Extract from the Speech of PATRICK Henry, in the Convention

of Delegates of Virginia, in Support of his Resolution for putting the Colony into a State of Defence, and for arming and disciplining a number of Men sufficient for that Purpose: -232 March, 1775.

MR. PRESIDENT—It is natural for 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? Are 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 my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp, by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And, judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry, for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have 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. 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 arguments 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 ? 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,

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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 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? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, 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. 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, until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we 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. 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 the 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 band and foot?' Sir, we are not weak, if we pake a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath 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. 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! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable—and let it come!

-I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is 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 it, Almighty God.--I know not what course others may take, but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death !

LESSON CXVIII.

Account of the first hostile Attack upon the American Colonists,

by the British Troops, in the War of the Revolution, at Lexington and Concord, Mass. 19th April, 1775.--BOTTA.

War being every moment expected, the particular fate of the inhabitants of Boston had become the object of general solicitude. The garrison was formidable; the fortifications were carried to perfection; and little hope remained, that this city could be wrested from British domination. Nor could the citizens flatter themselves more with the hope of escaping by sea; as the port was blockaded by a squadron.

Thus confined, amidst an irritated soldiery, the Bostonians found themselves exposed to endure all the outrages to be apprehended from military license. Their city had become a close prison, and themselves no better than hostages in the hands of the British commanders. This consideration alone sufficed greatly to impede all civil and military operations projected by the Americans.

Various expedients were suggested, in order to extricate the Bostonians from this embarrassing situation; which, if

they evinced no great prudence, certainly demonstrated no ordinary obstinacy. Some advised, that all the inhabitants of Boston should abandon the city, and take refuge in other places, where they should be succoured at the public expense: but this design was totally impracticable, since it depended on General Gage to prevent its execution.

Others recommended, that a valuation should be made of the houses and furniture belonging to the inhabitants ; that the city should then be fired; and that all the losses should be reimbursed from the public treasure. After mature deliberation, this project was also pronounced not only very difficult, but absolutely impossible to be executed.

Many inhabitants, however, left the city privately, and withdrew into the interior of the country; some, from disgust at this species of captivity; others, from fear of the approaching hostilities ; and others, finally, from apprehensions of being questioned for acts against the government: but a great number, also, with a firm resolution, preferred to remain, and brave all consequences whatever.

The soldiers of the garrison, weary of their long confinement, desired to sally forth, and drive away these rebels, who intercepted their provisions, and for whom they cherished so profound a contempt. The inhabitants of Massachusetts, on the other hand, were proudly indignant at this opinion of their cowardice, entertained by the soldiers; and panted for an occasion to prove, by a signal vengeance, the falsehood of the reproach.

In the mean time, the news arrived of the king's speech at the opening of parliament; of the resolutions adopted by this body; and, finally, of the act by which the inhabitants of Massachusetts were declared rebels. All the province flew to arms: indignation became fury,-obstinacy, desperation. All idea of reconciliation had become chimerical: necessity stimulated the most timid; a thirst of vengeance fired every breast. The match is lighted, -the materials disposed, -the conflagration impends. The children are prepared to combat against their fathers; citizens against citizens; and, as the Americans declared, the friends of liberty against its oppressors,-against the founders of tyranny.

“In these arms,” said they,“ in our right hands, are placed the hope of safety, the existence of country, the defence of property, the honour of our wives and daughters. With these alone can we repulse a licentious soldiery, pro

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tect what man holds dearest upon earth, and, unimpaired, transmit our rights to our descendants. The world will admire our courage; all good men will second us with their wishes and prayers, and celebrate our names with immortal praises. - Our memory will become dear to posterity. It will be the example, as the hope, of freemen, and the dread of tyrants, to the latest ages. It is time that old and contaminated England should be made acquainted with the energies of America, in the prime and innocence of her youth : it is time she should know how much superior are our soldiers, in courage and constancy, to vile mercenaries. We must look back no more! We must conquer, or die! We are placed between altars smoking with the most grateful incense of glory and gratitude, on the one part, and blocks and dungeons on the other. Let each, then, rise, and gird* himself for the combat.† The dearest interests of this world command it: our most holy religion enjoins it: that God, who eternally rewards the virtuous, and punishes the wicked, ordains it. Let us accept these happy auguries; for already the mercenary sat'ellītes, sent by wicked ministers to reduce this innocent people to extremity, are imprisoned within the walls of a single city, where hunger emaciates them, rage devours them, death consumes them. Let us banish every fear, every alarm : fortune smiles upon the efforts of the brave !"

By similar discourses, they excited one another, and prepared themselves for defence. The fatal moment is arrived: the signal of civil war is given.

General Gage was informed, that the provincials had amassed large quantities of arms and ammunition, in the towns of Worcester and Concord; which last is eighteen miles distant from the city of Boston. Excited by the loyalists, who had persuaded him that he would find no resistance, considering the cowardice of the patriots, and, perhaps, not imagining that the sword would be drawn so soon, he resolved to send a few companies to Concord, in order to seize the military stores deposited there, and transport them to Boston, or destroy them.

It was said, also, that he had it in view, by this sudden expedition, to get possession of the persons of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, two of the most ardent patriot chiefs, and the principal directors of the provincial congress, then

* Pron. gerd.

cum-bat.

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