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Yet this is Rome,
Biographical and Historical: Mary Russell Mitford, born in 1787, was an English writer of miscellaneous works. Among her most noted productions is the tragedy “Rienzi,” which was presented in London in 1828. It is the story of the Roman patriot, Rienzi, who led a revolution at Rome in 1347. He overthrew the power of the aristocracy and introduced many reforms in the government. After establishing himself in power, however, he is said to have become in turn haughty and arbitrary.
MY LORDS: What have I to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced on me, according to law I have nothing to say that can alter your predetermination, nor that it will become me to say with any view to the mitigation of that sentence which you are here to pronounce, and I must abide by. But I have that to say which interests me more than life, and which you have labored to destroy. I have much to say why my reputation should be rescued from the load of false accusation and calumny which has been heaped upon it.
Were I only to suffer death, after being adjudged guilty by gour tribunal, I should bow in silence, and meet the fate that awaits me without a murmur; but the sentence of law which delivers my body to the executioner will, through the ministry of that law, labor, in its own vindication, to consign my character to obloquy; for there must be guilt somewhere—whether in the sentence of the court, or in the catastrophe, posterity must deter
mine. The man dies, but his memory lives. That mine may not perish—that it may live in the respect of my countrymen— I seize upon this opportunity to vindicate myself from some of the charges alleged against me. When my spirit shall be wafted to a more friendly port; when
my shade shall have joined the bands of those martyred heroes
who have shed their blood, on the scaffold and in the field, in defense of their country and virtue; this is my hope—I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High, which displays its powers over man as over the beasts of the forest, which sets man upon his brother, and lifts his hand, in the name of God, against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or less than the government standard—a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows which its cruelty has made. I swear by the throne of Heaven, before which I must shortly appear—by the blood of the murdered patriots who have gone before me—that my conduct has been, through all this peril and all my purposes, governed only by the convictions which I have uttered, and no other view than that of the emancipation of my country from the superinhuman oppression under which she has so long and too patiently travailed; and that I confidently and assuredly hope, wild and chimerical as it may appear, that there is still union and strength in Ireland to accomplish this noble enterprise. My country was my idol. To it I sacrificed every selfish, every endearing sentiment; and for it I now offer up my life! I acted as an Irishman, determined on delivering my country from the yoke of a foreign and unrelenting tyranny, and from the more galling yoke of a domestic faction, its joint partner and perpetrator in the patricide, whose reward is the ignominy of existing with an exterior of splendor and a consciousness of depravity. It was
the wish of my heart to extricate my country from this doubly riveted despotism. I wished to place her independence beyond the reach of any power on earth. I wished to exalt her to that proud station in the world which Providence had fitted her to fill.
Let no man dare, when I am dead, to charge me with dishonor; let no man attaint my memory by believing that I could have engaged in any cause but that of my country’s liberty and independence, or that I could have become the pliant minion of power
in the oppression or the miseries of my countrymen. I would not
have submitted to a foreign oppressor, for the same reason that I would resist the domestic tyrant; in the dignity of freedom I would have fought upon the threshold of my country, and her enemies should enter only by passing over my lifeless corpse. Am I, who lived but for my country, and who have subjected myself to the vengeance of the jealous and wrathful oppressor, and to the bondage of the grave, only to give my countrymen their rights and my country her independence—am I to be loaded with calumny, and not to be suffered to resent or repel it? No! God forbid If the spirits of the illustrious dead participate in the concerns and cares of those who are dear to them in this transitory life, O ever dear and venerated shade of my departed father, look down with scrutiny on the conduct of your suffering son, and see if I have even for a moment deviated from those principles of morality and patriotism which it was your care to instill into my youthful mind, and for an adherence to which I am now to offer up my life My Lords, you are all impatient for the sacrifice. The blood which you seek is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim; it circulates warmly and unruffled through the channels which God created for noble purposes, but which you are bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous that they cry to Heaven Be ye patient; I have but a few words more to say. I am going to my silent grave; my lamp of life is nearly extinguished;
my race is run; the grave opens to receive me, and I sink into its bosom. I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world—it is the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph; for, as no one who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country shall take her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written I have done.
Biographical and Historical: During the latter part of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, the spirit of independence was abroad. The American Revolution was followed by the French Revolution, and in 1803 Robert Emmet, an Irish patriot, headed a band to gain independence for Ireland. After an unsuccessful attempt to take the arsenal and castle at Dublin, he fled to the Wicklow mountains, whence he planned to escape to the continent. Contrary to the advice of his friends, he determined to have a last interview with his sweetheart, but the delay proved fatal to him. He was seized and condemned to death. This extract is from the remarkably eloquent speech with which he vainly defended himself.
RING PHILIP TO THE WHITE SETTLER
THINK of the country for which the Indians fought. Who can blame them? As Philip looked down from his seat on Mount Hope, that glorious eminence, that
throne of royal state, which far
as he looked down, and beheld the lovely scene which spread beneath, at a summer sunset, the distant hill-tops glittering as
with fire, the slanting beams streaming across the waters, the broad plains, the island groups, the majestic forest,-could he be blamed, if his heart burned within him, as he beheld it all passing, by no tardy process, from beneath his control, into the hands of the stranger?
As the river chieftains—the lords of the waterfalls and the mountains—ranged this lovely valley, can it be wondered at, if they beheld with bitterness the forest disappearing beneath the settler's ax—the fishing-place disturbed by his saw-mills? Can we not fancy the feelings with which some strong-minded savage, the chief of the Pocomtuck Indians, who should have ascended the summit of the Sugar-loaf Mountain (rising as it does before us, at this moment, in all its loveliness and grandeur), -in company with a friendly settler,-contemplating the progress already made by the white man, and marking the gigantic strides with which he was advancing into the wilderness, should fold his arms and say, “White man, there is eternal war between me and thee! I quit not the land of my fathers, but with my life. In those woods, where I bent my youthful bow, I will still hunt the deer; over yonder waters I will still glide, unrestrained, in my bark canoe. By those dashing waterfalls I will still lay up my winter's store of food; on these fertile meadows I will still plant my corn.
“Stranger, the land is mine ! I understand not these paper rights. I gave not my consent, when, as thou sayest, these broad regions were purchased, for a few baubles, of my fathers. They could sell what was theirs; they could sell no more. How could my fathers sell that which the Great Spirit sent me into the world to live upon? They knew not what they did.
“The stranger came, a timid suppliant, few and feeble, and asked to lie down on the red man’s bear-skin, and warm himself at the red man's fire, and have a little piece of land to raise corn for his women and children; and now he is become strong, and mighty, and bold, and spreads out his parchments over the whole, and says, “It is mine.’