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tiplication of officers to strengthen the court interest; perpetually extending the prerogatives of the king, and retrenching the rights of the subject; advancing to the most eminent stations men, without education, and of the most dissolute manners; employing, with the people's money, a band of emissaries to misrepresent and traduce the people; and, to crown the system of misrule, sporting our persons and estates, by filling the highest seats of justice with bankrupts, bullies and blockheads.
From such a nation, (though all this we bore, and should perhaps have borne for another century, had they not avowedly claimed the unconditional disposal of life and property,) it is evidently our duty to be detached. To remain happy or safe, in our connexion with her, became thenceforth utterly impossible. She is moreover precipitating her own fall, or the age of miracles is returned, and Britain a phenomenon in the political world, without a parallel. The proclamations to ensnare the timid and credulous, are beyond expression disingenuous and tantalizing. In a gilded pill they conceal real poison: they add insult to injury. After repeated intimations of commissioners to treat with America, we are presented, instead of the peaceful olive-branch, with the devouring sword: instead of being visited by plenipotentiaries to bring matters to an accommodation, we are invaded by an army, in their opinion, able to subdue us. discovering their error, the terms propounded amount to this : " If you will submit without resistance, we are content to take your property, and spare your lives; and then (the consummation of arrogance !) we will graciously pardon you, for having hitherto defended both.”
Considering, then, their bewildered councils, their blundering ministry, their want of men and money, their impaired credit and declining commerce, their lost revenues and starving islands, the corruption of their parliament, with the effeminacy of their nation,
and the success of their enterprize is against all pro'ability. Considering further, the horrid enormity of their waging war against their own brethren, expostulating for an audience, complaining of injuries, and supplicating for redress, and waging it with a ferocity and vengeance unknown to modern ages, and contrary to all laws, human and divine; and we can neither question the justice of our opposition, nor the assistance of heaven to crown it with victory.
Let us not, however, presumptuously rely on the interposition of providence, without exerting those efforts which it is our duty to exert, and which our bountiful Creator has enabled us to exert. Let us do our part to open the next campaign with redoubled vigor; and until the United States have humbled the pride of Britain, and obtained an honorable peace, cheerfully furnish our proportion for continuing the war—a war, founded, on our side, in the immutable obligation of self-defence, and in support of freedom, of virtue, and every thing tending to ennoble our nature, and render a people happy; on their part, prompted by boundless avarice, and a thirst for absolute sway, and built on a claim repugnant to every principle of reason and equity—a claim subversive to all liberty, natural, civil, moral and religious; incompatible with human happiness, and usurping the attributes of Deity, degrading man and blaspheming God.
Let us all, therefore, of every rank and degree, remember our plighted faith and honor, to maintain the cause with our lives and fortunes. Let us inflexibly persevere in prosecuting, to a happy period, what has been so gloriously begun, and hitherto so prosperously conducted. And let those, in more distinguished stations, use all their influence and authority, to rouse the supine, to animate the irresolute, to confirm the wavering, and to draw from his lurking hole the skulking neutral, who, leaving to others the heat and burden of the day, means in the final result to reap the fruits of that victory, for which he will not contend.
Let us be peculiarly assiduous in bringing to condign punishment those detestable parricides, who have been openly active against their country. And may we, in all our deliberations and proceedings, be influenced and directed by the great Arbiter of the fate of nations, by whom empires rise and fall, and who will not always suffer the sceptre of the wicked to rest on the lot of the righteous, but in due time avenge an injured people on their unfeeling oppressor, and his bloody instruments.
DELIVERED JULY 4, 1787,
REFORE THE SOCIETY OF THE CINCINNATI OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK; IN COMMEMORATION OF THE INDE
PENDENCE OF AMERICA,
BY ROBERT LIVINGSTON.
I could have wished, gentlemen, that the task I am now about to perform, had been assigned to some abler speaker; and in that view, I, long since, tendered my apology for declining it, and hoped, till lately, that it had been accepted. Disappointed in this hope, and unwilling to treat any mark of your favor with neglect, I determined to obey your commands, although I was satisfied, that, in the execution of them, I should not answer your expectations. There is a style of eloquence adapted to occasions of this kind, to which I feel myself unequal; a style which requires the glowing imagination of younger speakers, who, coming recently from the schools of rhetoric, know how to dress their sentiments in all its flowery ornaments. The turbulence of the times, since I first entered upon public life, and the necessity, they imposed upon those who engaged in them, of attending rather to things than words, will, I fear, render me, if not a useless, at least an unpolished speaker.
If the mind dwells with pleasure on interesting events; if the soul pants to emulate the noble deeds it contemplates; if virtue derives new force from the successful struggles of the virtuous, it is wise to set apart certain seasons, when, freed from meaner cares, we commemorate events, which have contributed to the happiness of mankind, or afford examples worthy their imitation. What are we this day called upon to commemorate? Some signal victory, in which the victor weeps
the loss of friends, and humanity mourns over the graves of the vanquished? The birth of some prince, whom force, fraud, or accident, has entitled to a throne ? Or even that of some patriot, who has raised the reputation, and defended the rights of his country? No, gentlemen, a nobler subject than the splendor of victories, or the birth of princes, demand our attention. We are called upon to commemorate the successful battles of freedom, and the birth of nations.
It may be expected, and indeed I believe it is usual on such occasions, that I should tread the steps we have taken from the dawn of oppression to the bright sunshine of independence; that I should celebrate the praise of patriots who have been actors in the glorious scene; and more particularly that I should lead you to the shrines of those that have offered up their lives in support of their principles, and sealed with their blood your charters of freedom. Had I no other object in view than to amuse you and indulge my own feelings, I should take this path. For what task more delightful, than to contemplate the successful struggles of virtue; to see it, at one moment, panting under the grasp of oppression, and rising in the next with renewed strength; as if, like the giant son of earth, she had acquired vigor from the fall; to see hope and disappointment, plenty and want, defeats and victories, following each other in rapid succession, and contributing, like light and shade to the embellishment of the piece! What more soothing to the soft and delicate emotions of humanity, than to wander, with folded arms and slow and pensive step, amidst the graves of departed heroes, to indulge the mingled emotions of grief and admiration; at one moment, giving way to private sorrow, and lamenting the loss of a friend, a relation, a brother; in the next, glowing with patriot warmth, gazing with ardor on their wounds, and invoking their spirits, while we ask of heaven to inspire us with equal fortitude! But, however pleasing this task, the desire of