Imágenes de páginas

of their adherents, and the loss of their influence, upon this new dissovery of their folly, and their ignorance. Nor, Sir, do I now answer him for any other purpose than to remind him how little the clamors of rage, and the petulancy of invectives, contribute to the purposes for which this assembly is called together; - how little the discovery of truth is promoted, and the security of the Nation estab lished, by pompous diction, and theatrical emotions. Formidable sounds and furious declamations, confident assertions and lofty periods, inay affect the young and inexperienced; and perhaps the gentleman may have contracted his habits of oratory by conversing more with those of his own age than with such as have had more opportunities of acquiring knowledge, and more successful methods of communicating their sentiments. If the heat of his temper, Sir, would suffer him to attend to those whose age and long acquaintance with business give them an indisputable right to deference and superiority, he would learn, in time, to reason rather than declaim, and to prefer justness of argument, and an accurate knowledge of facts, to sounding epithets, and splendid superlatives, which may disturb the imagination for a moment, but which leave no lasting impression on the mind. He will learn, Sir, that to accuse and prove are very different; and that reproaches, unsupported by evidence, affect only the character of him that utters them. Excursions of fancy, and flights of oratory, are, indeed, pardonable in young men, but' in no other; and it would surely contribute more, even to the purpose for which some gentlemen appear to speak (that of depreciating the conduct of the administration), to prove the inconveniences and injustice of this Bill, than barely to assert them, with whatever magnificence of language, or appearance of zeal, honesty, or compassion.

39. REPLY TO SIR R. WALPOLE, 1741. - William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham

William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham,- one of the greatest orators of modern times, and espeeially endeared to Americans for his eloquent appeals in their behalf against the aggressions of the Mother Country, - was born on the 15th of November, 1708, in the parish of St. James, in the city of Westminster, England, and died on the 11th of May, 1778. llis second son was the celebrated William Pitt, whose fame equals, though it does not eclipse, that of his father. “ Viewing the forms of the two Pitts, father and son,” says a biographer of the latter, "as they stand in Ilistory, what different emotions their images call forth! The impassioned and romantic father seems like a hero of chivalry ; the stately and classical son, as a Roman dictator, compelled into the dimensions of an English minister! “The principle," says llazlitt, “by which the Earl of Chatham exerted his influence over others, was sympathy. He himself evidently had a strong possession of his subject, a thorough conviction, an intense interest ; and this communicated itself from his manner, from the tones of his voice, from his commanding attitudes, and cager gestures, instinctively and unavoidably, to his hearers.” The first sound is Baid to have terrified Sir Robert Walpole, who immediately exclaimed, “We must muzzle that terrible cornet of horse." Sir Robert offered to promote Mr. Pitt in the army, provided he gave up his seat in Parliament. Probably Mr. Pitt was unwarrantnhly severe in the following reply to the fore going remarks of Sir Robert. The reply appeared originally in Dr. Johnson's Regis. ber of Debates, and probably received many touches from his pen.

Sır, — The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honor. able gentleman has, with such spirit and decency, charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny ; - but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their yoath, and not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience. Whether youth can be imputed to any man as a reproach, I will not, Sir, assume the province of determining ; — but surely age may become justly contemptible, if the opportunities which it brings have passed away without improvement, and vice appears to prevail when the passions have subsided. The wretch who, after having seen the consequences of a thousand errors, continues still to blunder, and whose age has only added obstinacy to stupidity, is surely the object of either abhorrence or contempt, and deserves not that his gray hairs should secure him from insult. Much more, Sir, is he to be abhorred, who, as he has advanced in age, has receded from virtue, and becomes more wicked with less temptation ; — who prostitutes himself for money which he cannot enjoy, and spends the remains of his life in the ruin of his country.

But youth, Sir, is not my only crime: I have been accused of acting a theatrical part. A theatrical part may either imply some peculiarities of gesture, or a dissimulation of my real sentiments, and an adoption of the opinions and language of another man. In the first sense, Sir, the charge is too trifling to be confuted, and deserves only to be mentioned, to be despised. I am at liberty, like every other man, to use my own language; and though, perhaps, I may have some ambition to please this gentleman, I shall not lay myself under any restraint, nor very solicitously copy his diction or his mien, however matured by age or modelled by experience. If any man shall, by charging me with theatrical behavior, imply that I utter any sen timents but my own, I shall treat him as a calumniator and a villain

nor shall any protection shelter him from the treatment he deserves. I shall, on such an occasion, without scruple, trample upon all those forms with which wealth and dignity intrench themselves, anything but age restrain my resentment; - age, which always brings one privilege, that of being insolent and supercilious without punishment. But with regard, Sir, to those whom I have offended, I am of opinion that, if I had acted a borrowed part, I should have avoided their censure: the heat that offended them is the ardor of conviction, and that zeal for the service of my country which neither hope nor fear shall influence me to suppress. I will not sit unconcerned while my liberty is invaded, nor look in silence upon public robbery. I will exert my endeavors, at whatever hazard, to repel the aggressor, and drag the thief to justice, — whoever may protect them in their villany, and whoever may partake of their plunder.

nor shall

40. IN REPLY TO MR. GRENVILLE, 1766. - Earl of Chatham. Sir a charge is brought against Gentlemen sitting in this House of giving birth to sedition in America. Several have spoken their sentiments with freedom against this unhappy act, - and that freedom has become their crime. Sorry I am to hear the liberi.y of speech in this Tlouse imputed as a crime. But the imputation shall not discourage me. The Gentleman tells us, America is obstinate; America is almost in open rebellion. I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as volun. tarily to let themselves be made slaves would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest. I come not here armed at all pointe with law cases and acts of Parliament, with the statute-book doubled down in dogs' ears, to defend the cause of liberty. I would not debats a particular point of law with the Gentleman. I know his abilities. But, for the defence of liberty, upon a general principle, upon a Constitutional principle, it is a ground on which I stand firm, - on which I dare meet any man.

The Gentleman boasts of his bounties to America. Are not those bounties intended finally for the benefit of this Kingdom? If they are not, he has misapplied the national treasures. He asks, When were the Colonies emancipated ? I desire to know when they were made slaves! But I dwell not upon words. I will be bold to affirm that the profits of Great Britain from the trade of the Colonies, through all its branches, are two millions a year. This is the fund that carried you triumphantly through the last war. This is the price America pays for her protection. And shall a miserable financier come, with a boast that he can fetch a pepper-corn into the Exchequer, by the loss of millions to the Nation ? *

A great deal has been said, without doors, of the power, of the strength, of America. It is a topic that ought to be cautiously meddled with. In a good cause, the force of this country can crush America to atoms. I know the valor of your troops ; I know the skill of your officers. But on this ground, -- on the Stamp Act, when so many here will think it a crying injustice, — I am one who will lift up my hands against it. In such a cause, even your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would fall like the strong man. She would embrace the pillars of the State, and pull down the Constitution along with her. Is this your boasted peace? To sheathe the sword, not in its scabbard, but in the bowels of your countrymen ? Will you quarrel with yourselves, now the whole House of Bourbon is united against you? While France disturbs your fisheries in Newfoundland, embarrasses your slave-trade to Africa, and withholds from your subjects in Canada their property stipulated by treaty? while the ransom for the Manillas is denied by Spain? The Americans have been wronged. They have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have occasioned ? Rather let prudence and temper come first from this side! I will undertake for America that she will follow the example.

« Be to her faults a little blind ;

Bo to her virtues very kind.” Let the Stamp Act be repealed; and let the reason for the repcal

• Mr. Nugent had said that & peppercorn in acknowledgment of the rigbt to lax America was of more value than millions without it

because the Act wus founded on an erroneous principle -- be assigned. 'Let it be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately!


Jan. 20, 1775, on his motion to withdraw the British troops from Boston.

In regard to this speech, we find in the diary of Josiah Quincy, jr., the following memoraa lam: " Attended the debates in the House of Lords. Good fortune gave me one of the best places for hearing, and taking a few minutes. Lord Chatham rose like Marcellus. llis language, voice and gesture, were more pathetic than I ever saw or heard before, at the Bar or Renate. lle seemed like an old Roman Senator, rising with the dignity of age, yet speaking with the fire of youth.” Dr. Franklin, who was also present at the debate, said of this speech, that " he had seen, in the course of his life, sometimes eloquence without wisdom, and often wisdom without eloquence; in the present instance, he saw both united, and both, as he though, in the highest degree possible."

AMERICA, my Lords, cannot be reconciled to this country - she pught not to be reconciled — till the troops of Britain are withdrawn. How can America trust you, with the bayonet at her breast ? Ilow can she suppose that you mean less than bondage or death? I therefore move that an address be presented to his Majesty, advising that immediate orders be despatched to General Gage, for removing his Majesty's forces from the town of Boston. The way must be immediately opened for reconciliation. It will soon be too late. An hour now lost in allaying ferments in America may produce years of calamity. Never will I desert, for a moment, the conduct of this weighty business. Unless nailed to my bed by the extremity of sickness, I will pursue it to the end. I will knock at the door of this sleeping and confounded Ministry, and will, if it be possible, rouse them to a sense of their danger.

I contend not for indulgence, but for justice, to America. What is our right to persist in such cruel and vindictive acts against a loyal, respectable people? They say you have no right to tax them without their consent. They say truly. Representation and taxation must go together; they are inseparable. I therefore urge and conjure your Lordships immediately to adopt this conciliating measure. If illegal violences have been, as it is said, committed in America, prepare the way — open the door of possibility — for acknowledgment and satisfaction; but proceed not to such coercion — such proscription : cease your indiscriminate inflictions; amerce not thirty thousand; oppress not three millions; irritate them not to unappensable rancor, for the fault of forty or fifty. Such' severity of injustice must forever render incurable the wounds you have inflicted. What though you march from town to town, from province to province? What though you enforce a temporary and local submission; how shall you secure the obedience of the country you leave behind you in your progress ? How grasp the dominion of eighteen hundred miles of continent, populous in numbers, strong in valor, liberty, and the means of resistance ?

The spirit which now resists your taxation, in America, is the same which formerly opposed loans, benevolences and silip-money, in Eng. land; — the same spirit which called all England on its legs, and, by the Bill of Rights, vindicated the English Constitation ; - the same spirit which established the great fundamental essential maxim of your libertics, that no subject of England shall be taxed but by his own con sent. This glorious Whig spirit animates three millions in America, who prefer poverty, with liberty, to gilded chains and sordid aflluence; and who will die in defence of their rights as men, as free men. What shall oppose this spirit, aided by the congenial flame glowing in the breast of every Whig in England ? “T is liberty to liberty engaged,” that they will defend themselves, their families, and their country. In this great cause they are immovably allied : it is the alliance of God and nature, — immutable, eternal, – fixed as the firmament of Heaven.

42. REPEAL CLAIMED BY AMERICANS AS A RIGHT. - From the same It is not repealing this or that act of Parliament, – it is not repealing a piece of parchment, — that can restore America to our bosom. You must repeal her fears and her resentments; and you may then hope for her love and gratitude. But, now, insulted with an armed force posted at Boston, irritated with a hostile array before her eyes, her conce ncessions, if


could force them, would be suspicious and insecure, — the dictates of fear, and the extortions of force! But it is more than evident that you cannot force them, principled and united as they are, to your upworthy terms of submission. "Repeal, therefore, my Lords, I say! But bare repeal will not satisfy this enlightened and spirited People. You must go through the work. You must declare you have no right to tax. Then they may trust you There is no time to be lost. Every moment is big with dangers. While I am speaking, the decisive blow may be struck, and millions involved in the consequence. The very first drop of blood shed in civil and unnatural war will make a wound which years, perhaps ages, may not heal. It will be immédicūbilé vulnus.

When your Lordships look at the papers transmitted to us from America, — when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause, and wish to make it your own. I must declare and avow, that, in the master States of the world, I know not the People nor the Senate, who, under such a complication of difficult circumstances, can stand in preference to the delegates of America assembled in General Congress at Philadelphia. For genuine sagacity, for singular moderation, for solid wisdom, manly spirit, sublime sentiments, and simplicity of language, --for everything respectable and honorable, -- they stand unrivalled. I trust it is obvious to your Lord. ships that all attempts to impose servitude upon such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty Continental Nation, must be vain, must be fatal. This wise People speak out. They do not hold the language of slaves. They tell you what they mean. They do not ask you to repeal your laws as a favor. They claim it as a right they demand it. They tell you they will not submit to them. And

« AnteriorContinuar »