ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Mr. President, it is natural to 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 siren 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, 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 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 anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 everything 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 hand and foot?. Sir, we are not weak, if we make 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

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 in 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

:00 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! Biographical and Historical: Patrick Henry was an American patriot and orator whose eloquent speech was a powerful force in moulding public opinion at the time of the Revolution. This famous speech

was made in the Virginia Convention, March 28, 1775, and is an appeal . to place the colonies in a state of defence.

THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY

EDWARD EVERETT HALE

I first came to understand anything about “the man without a country” one day when we over-hauled a dirty little schooner which had slaves on board. An officer was sent to take charge of her, and, after a few minutes, he sent back his boat to ask that

5 someone might be sent him who could talk Portuguese. But none

of the officers did; and just as the captain was sending forward to ask if any of the people could, Nolan stepped out and said he should be glad to interpret, if the captain wished, as he under

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

stood the language. The captain thanked him, fitted out another boat with him, and in this boat it was my luck to go. There were not a great many of the negroes; most of them were out of the hold and swarming all round the dirty deck, with a central throng surrounding Waughan. “Tell them they are free, Nolan,” said Vaughan ; “and tell them that I will take them all to Cape Palmas.” Cape Palmas was practically as far from the homes of most of them as New Orleans or Rio Janeiro was; that is, they would be eternally separated from home there. And their interpreters, as we could understand, instantly said, “Ah, non Palmas.” The drops stood on poor Nolan's white forehead, as he hushed the men down, and said: “He says, “Not Palmas.” He says, “Take us home, take us to our own country, take us to our own house, take us to our own pickaninnies and our own women.” He says he has an old father and mother who will die if they do not see him. And this one says,” choked out Nolan, “that he has not heard a word from his home in six months.” Even the negroes stopped howling, as they saw Nolan's agony, and Vaughan's almost equal agony of sympathy. As quick as he could get words, Vaughan said: “Tell them, yes, yes, yes; tell them they shall go to the Mountains of the Moon, if they will.” And after some fashion Nolan said so. And then they all fell to kissing him again. But he could not stand it long; and getting Vaughan to say he might go back, he beckoned me down into our boat. As we lay back in the stern-sheets and the men gave way, he said to me: “Youngster, let that show you what it is to be without a family, without a home, and without a country. And if you are ever tempted to say a word or to do a thing that shall put a bar between you and your family, your home, and your country, pray God in his mercy to take you that instant home to his own heaven. Think of your home, boy; write and read, and talk about it. Let it be

50

10

nearer and nearer to your thought, the farther you have to travel from it; and rush back to it when you are free, as that poor black slave is doing now. And for your country, boy,” and the words rattled in his throat, “and for that flag,” and he pointed to the ship, “never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids you, though the service carry you through a thousand terrors. No matter what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or who abuses you, never look at another flag. Remember, that behind all these men you have to do with, behind officers, and government, and people even—there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to Her as you belong to your own mother.”

Biographical and Historical: This is an extract from “The Man Without a Country,” a book written by Edward Everett Hale, a clergyman and author, who was born in 1822 and is a grand nephew of Nathan Hale, of Revolutionary fame.

“The Man without a Country” is the story of Philip Nolan, a young officer of the United States army. On account of his intimacy with Aaron Burr, he was court-martialed and, having expressed the wish never to hear the name of his country again, was banished and sentenced to live upon a government boat, where no one was allowed to mention his country.

LOVE OF COUNTRY
(From “The Lay of the Last Minstrel,” Canto VI.)

SIR WALTER SCOTT

BREATHEs there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said:—
“This is my own, my native land!”
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,

« 前へ次へ »