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From other lips, without a blush of shame,
'Tis infamy to die and not be missed,
And thou an angel's happiness shalt know, –
Shall deck thy grave with amaranthine flowers,
CHARACTER OF PITT.* - ROBERTSON.
(An exercise for reading in concert.] 1. The Secretary stood alone; | modern degeneracy had not reached him. Original and unaccommodating, the features of his character had the hardihood of antiquity. His august mind overawed majesty ; ) and one of his sovereigns thought royalty so impaired in his presence, that he conspired to remove him, | in order to be relieved from his superiority. | No state chicanery, no narrow system of vicious politics, no idle contest for ministerial victories, sunk him to the vulgar level of the great; but, overbearing, persuasive, and impracticable, his object was England, his ambition was fame. |
• Pitt, (William, Lord Chatham, or Earl of Chatham,) the Secretary of State and Prinie Minister of England, from 1756 to 1761. See note, p. 170.
2. Without dividing, he destroyed party ; | without corrupting, he made a venal age unanimous. | France sunk beneath him. With one hand he smote the house of Bourbon,* | and wielded in the other, the democracy of Eng. land. | The sight of his mind was infinite ; , and his schemes were to affect, not England, not the present age only, but Europe and posterity. / Wonderful were the means by which these schemes were accomplished, - | always seasonable, | always adequate, | the suggestions of an understanding animated by ardor, and enlightened by prophecy.
3. The ordinary feelings which make life amiable and indolent, / were unknown to him. | No domestic difficulties, no domestic weakness, reached him ; | but, aloof from the sordid occurrences of life, and unsullied by its intercourse, I he came occasionally into our system, / to counsel, and to decide.
4. A character so exalted, / so strenuous, / so various, so authoritative, / astonished a corrupt age; / and the treasury trembled at the name of Pitt, | through all her classes of venality. | Corruption imagined, indeed, that she had found defects in this statesman, / and talked much of the inconsistency of his glory, | and much of the ruin of his victories ; | but the history of his country, I and the calamities of the enemy, | answered and refuted her.
5. Nor were his political abilities his only talents ; | his eloquence was an era in the senate, | peculiar and spontaneous, | familiarly expressing gigantic sentiments and instinctive wisdom ; | not like the torrent of Demosthenes,t or the splendid conflagration of Tully; | it resembled sometimes the thunder, and sometimes the music of the spheres. Like Murray,t | he did not conduct the understanding
Bourbon, (house of,) the name of a royal family in France. † De-mos'the-nes and Tally. See notes on p. 67 and 29.
# Mur'ray, (William,) the same as Lord Mansfield, one of the most distinguished jurists of England. He died in 1793.
through the painful subtlety of argumentation ; | nor was he, like Townshend,* forever on the rack of exertion ; | but rather lightened upon the subject, and reached the point by the flashings of the mind, which, like those of his eye, I were felt, but could not be followed.
6. Upon the whole, there was in this man something that would create, subvert, or reform; / an understanding, | a spirit, , and an eloquence, | to summon mankind to society, or to break the bonds of slavery asunder; | something to rule the wilderness of free minds with unbounded authority; something that could establish, or overwhelm empire, and strike a blow in the world, that should resound through the universe.
THE FIRST AMERICAN CONGRESS. – Maxcy. [The pupil may note the exclamatory phrases in this piece, and tell how they should be read. See Rule 9, p. 116.]
1. The interposition of Divine Providence was eminently conspicuous in the first general Congress. What men, what patriots, what independent, heroic spirits! Chosen by the unbiased voice of the people; chosen, as all public servants ought to be, without favor and without fear ; what an august assembly of sages! Rome, in the height of her glory, fades before it.
2. There never was in any age or nation, a body of men, who, for general information, for the judicious use of the results of civil and political history, for eloquence and virtue, for the true dignity, elevation, and grandeur of soul, could stand a comparison with the first American Congress! See
• Townshend, (Charles,) a most eloquent parliamentary speaker.
what the people will do when left to themselves, to their unbiased good sense, and to their true interests ! The ferocious Gaul would have dropped his sword at the hall door, and have fled, thunder-struck, as from an assembly of gods !
3. Whom do I behold ? a Hancock, a Jefferson, an Adams, a Henry, a Lee, a Rutledge! Glory to your immortal spirits ! On you, depend the destinies of your country; the fate of three millions of men, and of the countless millions of their posterity ! Shall these be slaves, or will you make a noble stand for liberty, against a power whore triumphs are already coextensive with the earth; whose legions trample on thrones and scepters; whose thunders bellow on every ocean? How tremendous the occasion ! How vast the responsibility!
4. The president and all the members of this august assembly take their seats. Every countenance tells the mighty struggle within. Every tongue is silent. It is a pause in nature; that solemn, awful stillness, which precedes the earthquake and tornado! At length Demosthenes arises, - he only is adequate to the great occasion, - the Virginian Demosthenes, the mighty Henry! What dignity! What majesty! Every eye fastens upon him. Firm, erect, undaunted, he rolls on the mighty torrent of his eloquence.
5. What a picture does he draw of the horrors of servitude and the charms of freedom! At once he gives the full rein to all his gigantic powers, and pours his own heroic spirit into the minds of his auditors: they become as one man ; actuated by one soul, — and the universal shout is “ Liberty or Death!” This single speech, of this illustrious man, gave an impulse, which probably decided the fate of America.
• Han'cock, Jeffer-son, etc., some of the most conspicuous friends of the American Revolution, and members of the first Congress. During its sessions, Mr. Leo first proposed, and Mr. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, so boldly and eloquently sustained by Mr. Henry and others.
MOTION FOR PRAYERS IN THE CONVENTION.*
B. FRANKLIN. 1. Mr. President:— The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance and continued reasonings with each other, our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running all about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics, which, having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist. And we have viewed modern States all around Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
2. In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguisto it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights, to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard ; — and they were graciously answered.
3. All of us who were engaged in the struggle, must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence, we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establish
Con-ven’tion, the assembly of delegates from the thirteen original States, which met at Philadelphia in May, 1787, for the purpose of forming the Constitution of tbe United States.
† Franklin, (Benjamin,) one of the delegates to this convention, from Pennsyl. vania. See note, p. 64.