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1775.]

SPEECH OF PATRICK HENRY.

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soldiers-without arms-without generals, opposed to the formidable power which had shaken Christendom to its centre: they urged the duty of loyalty, the advantages of connexion with Britain, the domestic comforts they might enjoy, contrasted with the horrors of civil war.

It was now that Patrick Henry appeared in majesty. Rising Rising slowly from his seat, he commenced a speech which made every soul thrill with ineffable emotion. Enough of this address has been preserved to give to us some idea of the topics he presented; but none can paint the living power, the fire which animated his form and burned in his words. With mighty strokes he hewed down the defences which had been erected before the King and the Parliament, and disclosed them in all their deformity.

"Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. We have done every thing 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 in

violate 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 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.

"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 it, sir, let it come.

"Gentlemen may cry peace! peace! but there is no peace. The war is already begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are 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!"

Amid silence, dead and solemn, the orator resumed his seat. Not a murmur was heard; not a whisper of comment disturbed the Assembly; feel

1775.]

ITS EFFECT.

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ings too deep for utterance were struggling in every heart. The past, the present, and the future-the wrongs endured-the remedy offered-the slavery of peace-the terrors of war-the fear of defeatthe hope of success-all mingled together, and for a time stilled every tongue. But the moment of hesitation had passed. Quickly the blood returned with redoubled impetus to its channels. Every lip seemed ready to call to arms. Richard Henry Lee rose, and with graceful oratory seconded the resolutions. His voice was not needed to add to the effect of that eloquence which had seemed almost enough to call the dead to life. The proposal of Mr. Henry was adopted, and in a short time Virginia was alive with military preparation. In every county men were to be enrolled, arms prepared, powder and ball provided. The eastern counties were particularly recommended to raise companies of horse, and to train them with all diligence to the sound of firearms and the movements of the field. All things indicated that peace could not long endure.

The words of Patrick Henry were prophetic. The next breeze which blew from the north might have swept over the plains of Concord and Lexington while the combat between the British troops and Massachusetts yeomanry was in progress; and one day after this battle, a body of marines from the armed English schooner Magdalen, acting under the orders of Lord Dunmore, came up to

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Williamsburg in the dead of night, and carried off from the public magazine twenty barrels of powder, which they stored before daybreak in the hold of their vessel. (April 20.) Thus the war of the Revolution commenced in Virginia.

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• Skelton Jones's Virginia, 2; Wirt, 100, 101; Tucker's Jefferson, i. 68; Burk, iii, 407.

CHAPTER II.

Excitement in Williamsburg-Armed force from the Fowey man-of-warCaptain Montague-Proceedings in Fredericksburg-Patrick Henry marches at the head of a volunteer company to retake the powderRichard Corbin, King's Receiver-General-Last House of Burgesses in Virginia Conciliatory plan of English Ministry-Its duplicity-Virginia not deceived-Explosion in the Williamsburg magazine-Dunmore retires aboard the Fowey-Correspondence between the Governor and the House of Burgesses-Vigorous preparations for war-Dunmore enters Norfolk harbour-Seizure of Holt's printing press-Predatory warfareAttack on Hampton-Gallant defence-Enemy repulsed-Dunmore's success in Princess Anne-His inhuman proclamation-Plot with Conolly-Great Bridge-Colonel Woodford marches with the Virginia force-Conflict at the Great Bridge-Death of Fordyce-Success of the Virginians-Howe and Woodford enter Norfolk-Consternation of the Tories-English fleet-Norfolk fired upon and burned-Dunmore's de. gradation-General Charles Lee-Removal of people from Princess Anne and Norfolk Counties-Gwynn's Island-Dunmore takes possession of it-General Andrew Lewis attacks him-Drives him out with lossMiserable condition of the enemy-Dunmore sails to New York-Finally leaves America-His character-Virginia and the Revolution-Civil and religious freedom-Seldom enjoyed in the world-Virginia resolves, if possible, to secure them-Her gradual approaches to independencePaine's Common Sense-Virginia Gazette-Convention of 1776-Declaration of May 15-Bill of Rights-Constitution-Its character considered-Establishment of civil liberty.

WHEN the removal of the powder was made known in Williamsburg, intense excitement prevailed. The people crowded together in groups, uneasy, irritated, and alarmed. Each man looked to his arms, and many threatened violent retaliation.

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