Page images

But when I see a sordid shed

Of birchen bark, procured with care,
Designed to shield the aged head

Which British mercy placed there-
'Tis too, too much: I cannot stay,
But turn with streaming eyes away.

Oh, how your heart would bleed to view

Six pretty prattlers like your own,
Exposed to every wind that blew,

Condemned in such a hut to moan.
Could this be borne, Cordelia, say?
Contented in your cottage stay.

'Tis true, that in this climate rude,

The mind resolved may happy be ;
And may with toil and solitude,

Live independent and be free.
So the lone hermit yields to slow decay :
Unfriended lives—unheeded glides away.

If so far humbled that no pride remains,

But moot indifference which way flows the stream;
Resigned to penury, its cares and pains ;

And hope has left you like a painted dream ;
Then here, Cordelia, bend your pensive way,
And close the evening of Life's wretched day.

Richard Henry Lee.

BORN in Stratford, Va., 1732. Dies at Chantilly, Va., 1794


[From the Address adopted by Congress, July 8, 1775.]

AFTER the most valuable right of legislation was infringed; when

powers represented, and from our local and other circumstances cannot properly be represented, rendered our property precarious; after being denied that mode of trial to which we have long been indebted for the safety of our persons and the preservation of our liberties; after being in many instances divested of those laws which were transmitted to us by our common ancestors, and subjected to an arbitrary code, compiled under the auspices of Roman tyrants; after those charters, which encouraged

our predecessors to brave death and danger in every shape, on unknown seas, in deserts unexplored, amidst barbarous and inhospitable nations, were annulled; when, without the form of trial, without a public accusation, whole colonies were condemned, their trade destroyed, their inhabitants impoverished; when soldiers were encouraged to imbrue their hands in the blood of Americans, by offers of impunity; when new modes of trial were instituted for the ruin of the accused, where the charge carried with it the horrors of conviction; when a despotic government was established in a neighboring province, and its limits extended to every part of our frontiers; we little imagined that anything could be added to this black catalogue of unprovoked injuries: but we have unhappily been deceived, and the late measures of the British ministry fully convince us, that their object is the reduction of these colonies to slavery and ruin.

If still you retain those sentiments of compassion by which Britons have ever been distinguished; if the humanity which tempered the valor of our common ancestors has not degenerated into cruelty, you will lament the miseries of their descendants.

To what are we to attribute this treatment? If to any secret principle of the constitution, let it be mentioned; let us learn that the government we have long revered is not without its defects, and that while it gives freedom to a part, it necessarily enslaves the remainder of the empire. If such a principle exists, why for ages has it ceased to operate? Why at this time is it called into action? Can no reason be assigned for this conduct? or must it be resolved into the wanton exercise of arbitrary power? And shall the descendants of Britons tamely submit to this? No, sirs! We never will; while we revere the memory of our gallant and virtuous ancestors, we never can surrender those glorious privileges for which they fought, bled, and conquered. Admit that your fleets could destroy our towns, and ravage our sea-coasts; these are inconsiderable objects, things of no moment to men whose bosoms glow with the ardor of liberty. We can retire beyond the reach of your navy, and, without any sensible diminution of the necessaries of life, enjoy a luxury, which from that period you will want—the luxury of being free.

We know the force of your arms, and was it called forth in the cause of justice and your country, we might dread the exertion; but will Britons fight under the banners of tyranny ? Will they counteract the labors, and disgrace the victories of their ancestors ? Will they forge chains for their posterity? If they descend to this unworthy task, will their swords retain their edge, their arms their accustomed vigor? Britons can never become the instruments of oppression, till they lose the spirit of freedom, by which alone they are invincible.

Our enemies charge us with sedition. In what does it consist? In

our refusal to submit to unwarrantable acts of injustice and cruelty? If so, show us a period in your history in which you have not been equally seditious. We are accused of aiming at independence; but how is this accusation supported ? By the allegations of your ministers—not by our actions. Abused, insulted, and contemned, what steps have we pur. sued to obtain redress? We have carried our dutiful petitions to the throne. We have applied to your justice for relief. We have retrenched our luxury, and withheld our trade.

The great bulwarks of our constitution we have desired to maintain by every temperate, by every peaceable means; but your ministers (equal foes to British and American freedom) have added to their former oppressions an attempt to reduce us, by the sword, to a base and abject submission. On the sword, therefore, we are compelled to rely for protection. Should victory declare in your favor, yet men trained to arms from their infancy, and animated by the love of liberty, will afford neither a cheap nor easy conquest. Of this, at least, we are assured, that our struggle will be glorious, our success certain; since even in death we shall find that freedom which in life you forbid us to enjoy.

Let us now ask, What advantages are to attend our reduction? The trade of a ruined and desolate country is always inconsiderable, its revenue trifling; the expense of subjecting and retaining it in subjection, certain and inevitable. What then remains but the gratification of an ill-judged pride, or the hope of rendering us subservient to designs on your liberty?

Soldiers who have sheathed their swords in the bowels of their Amer. ican brethren, will not draw them with more reluctance against you. When too late, you may lament the loss of that freedom which we exhort you, while still in your power, to preserve.

On the other hand, should you prove unsuccessful; should that connection which we most ardently wish to maintain, be dissolved; should your ministers exhaust your treasures, and waste the blood of your countrymen in vain attempts on our liberty, do they not deliver you, weak and defenceless, to your natural enemies?

Since, then, your liberty must be the price of your victories, your ruin of your defeat—what blind fatality can urge you to a pursuit destructive of all that Britons hold dear?

If you have no regard to the connection which has for ages subsisted between us; if you have forgot the wounds we have received fighting by your side for the extension of the empire; if our commerce is not an object below your consideration; if justice and humanity have lost their influence on your hearts, still motives are not wanting to excite your indignation at the measures now pursued. Your wealth, your honor, your liberty are at stake.

Notwithstanding the distress to which we are reduced, we sometimes forget our own afflictions, to anticipate and sympathize in yours. We grieve that rash and inconsiderate counsels should precipitate the destruction of an empire, which has been the envy and admiration of ages; and call God to witness! that we would part with our property, endanger our lives, and sacrifice everything but liberty, to redeem you from ruin. A cloud hangs over your heads and ours: ere this reaches you,


may probably burst upon us; let us, then (before the remembrance of former kindness is obliterated) once more repeat those appellations which are ever grateful in our ears; let us entreat Heaven to avert our ruin, and the destruction that threatens our friends, brethren, and countrymen on the other side of the Atlantic.

Benjamin Church.

Born in Newport, R. I., 1734. Lost at sea, 1776.


[The Times : a Poem, by an American. 1765.]

AIR liberty, our soul's most darling prize,

A bleeding victim flits before our eyes :
Was it for this our great forefathers rode
O'er a vast ocean to this bleak abode !
When liberty was into contest brought,
And loss of life was but a second thought ;
By pious violence rejected thence,
To try the utmost stretch of providence ;
The deep, unconscious of the furrowing keel,
Essayed the tempest to rebuke their zeal ;
The tawny natives and inclement sky
Put on their terrors, and command to fly ;
They mock at danger ; what can those appall ?
To whom fair liberty is all in all.
See the new world their purchase, blest domain,
Where lordly tyrants never forged the chain ;
The prize of valor, and the gift of prayer,
Hear this and redden, each degenerate heir !
Is it for you their honor to betray,
And give the barvest of their blood away?
Look back with reverence, awed to just esteem,
Preserve the blessings handed down from them ;
If not, look forward, look with deep despair,
And dread the curses of your beggared heir ;
What bosom beats not, when such themes excite
Be men, be gods, be stubborn in the right.

John Adams.

BORN in Braintree, Mass., 1735. DIED at Quincy, Mass., 1826.


[The Works of John Adams. Edited by his Grandson, Charles Francis Adams. 1856.)



OOD-sense will make us remember that others have as good a right

to think for themselves, and to speak their own opinions, as we have; that another man's making a silly speech does not warrant my ill-nature and pride in grasping the opportunity to ridicule him and show my wit; a puffy, vain, conceited conversation never fails to bring a man into contempt, although his natural endowments be ever so great, and his application and industry ever so intense; no accomplishments, no virtues, are a sufficient atonement for vanity and a haughty overbearing temper in conversation; and such is the humor of the world, the greater a man's parts, and the nobler his virtues in other respects, the more derision and ridicule does this one vice and folly throw him into. Good-sense is generally attended with a very lively sense and delight in applause; the love of fame in such men is generally much stronger than in other people, and this passion, it must be confessed, is apt to betray men into impertinent exertions of their talents, sometimes into censorious remarks upon others, often into little meannesses to sound the opinions of others, and, oftenest of all, into a childish affectation of wit and gayety. I must own myself to have been, to a very heinous degree, guilty in this respect; when in company with persons much superior to myself in years and place, I have talked to show my learning; I have been too bold with great men, which boldness will, no doubt, be called self-conceit; I have made ill-natured remarks upon the intellectuals, manners, practice, etc., of other people; I have foolishly aimed at wit and spirit, at making a shining figure in gay company; but, instead of shining brighter, I only clouded the few rays that before rendered me visible. Such has been my unhappy fate. I now resolve, for the future, never to say an ill-natured thing concerning ministers or the ministerial profession; never to say an envious thing concerning governors, judges, ministers, clerks, sheriffs, lawyers, or any other honorable or lucrative offices or officers; never to affect wit upon laced waistcoats, or large estates, or their possessors; never to show my own importance or superiority by remarking the foibles, vices, or inferiority of others. But I now resolve, as far as lies in me, to take notice chiefly of the amiable

« PreviousContinue »