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Yet this is Rome,
The Eternal City shall be free! 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 5 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. 10 Were I only to suffer death, after being adjudged guilty by
your 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 15 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 20 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 25 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 30 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. 35 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 40 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 strergth in Ireland to accomplish this noble
enterprise. 45 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 50 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 55 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 inde
pendence, or that I could have become the pliant minion of power 60 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. 65 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! 70 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 75 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 80 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! 85
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 90 cpitaph; 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 95 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 Rev. olution, 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.
KING 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
10 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? 15 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, 20 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 25 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. 30 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 35 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 rm himself 40 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.'