« PreviousContinue »
to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My Lords, these enormities ery aloud for redress and punishment. But, my Lords, this barbarous measure has been defended, not only on the principles of policy and necessity, but also on those of morality; "for it is perfectly allowable" says Lord Suffolk, "to use all the means which God and nature have put into our hands ". I am astonished, I am shocked, to hear such principles confessed; to hear them avowed in this house, or in this country. My Lords, I did not intend to encroach so much on your attention, but I cannot repress my indignation — I feel myself impelled to speak. My Lords, we are called upon as members of this house, as men, as Christians, to protest against such horrible barbarity !—"That God and nature have put into our hands"! What ideas of God and nature that noble lord may entertain, I know not; but I know, that such detestable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What! to attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping knife! to the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering, devouring, drinking the blood of his mangled victims! Such notions shock every precept of morality, every feeling of humanity, every sentiment of honor. These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation.
I call upon that right reverend, and this most learned bench, to vindicate the religion of their God, to support the justice of their country. I call upon the Bishops, to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn — upon the judges, to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of your Lordships, to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maintain your own. I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country, to vindicate the national character. I invoke the Genius of the Constitution. From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of this noble Lord frowns with indignation at the disgrace of his country. In vain did he defend the liberty, and establish the religion of Britain, against the tyranny of Rome, if these worse than Popish cruelties, and inquisitorial practices, are endured among us. To send forth the merciless cannibal, thirsting for blood I against whom ? — your protestant brethren ! — to lay waste their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race and name by the aid and instrumentality of these horrible hounds of war. Spain can no longer boast pre-eminence in barbarity. She armed herself with bloodhounds to extirpate the wretched natives of Mexico; we, more ruthless, loose these dogs of war against our countrymen in America, endeared to us by every tie that can sanctify humanity. I solemnly call upon your Lordships, and upon every order of men in the state, to stamp upon this infamous procedure, the indelible stigma of the public abhorrence. More par. ticularly, I call upon the holy prelates of our religion, to do away this iniquity; let them perform a lustration, to purify our country from this deep and deadly sin. My Lords, I am old and weak, and at present unable to say more: but my feelings and indignation were too strong to have said less. I could not have slept this night in my bed, nor even reposed my head upon my pillow, without giving vent to my eternal abhorrence of such enormous and preposterous principles.
ON BRITISH MEASURES.
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 syren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty 1 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 our 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 1 Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received 1 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, gentlemen, 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 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 tight, 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 and unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger ? Will it be the next week or the next year -I 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 sacred 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 light our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies 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, 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 earslthe clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the Held! 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 l
REPLY TO THE DUKE OF GRAFTON.
[The duke had (in the House of Lords) reproached Lord Thurlow with his plebeian extraction, and his recent admission to the peerage. Lord Thurlow rose from the woolsack, and advanced slowly to the place from which the Lord Chancellor addresses the house; then fixing his eyes upon the duke, spoke as follows.]
My Lords, I am amazed, yes, my Lords, I am amazed at his grace's speech. The noble duke cannot look before him, behind him, or on either side of him, without seeing some noble peer, who owes his seat in this house to his successful exertions in the profession to which I belong. Does he not feel that it is as honorable to owe it to these, as to being the accident of an accident? To all these noble lords, the language of the noble duke is as applicable and insulting as it is to myself. But I do not fear to meet it single and alone. No one venerates the peerage more than I do. But, my Lords, I must say that the peerage solicited me, not I the peerage.
Nay more, I can and will say, that, as a peer of parliament, as speaker of this right honorable house, as keeper of the great seal, as guardian of his majesty's conscience, as lord high chancellor of England, nay, even in that character alone, in which the noble duke would think it an affront to be considered, but which character none can deny me, as a Man, I am at this moment as respectable, I beg leave to add, as much respected, as the proudest peer I now look