« PreviousContinue »
K. Henry. Why, yet he doth deny his prisoners;
Hot. Revolted Mortimer!
Send me your prisoners with the speediest means,
[Exit K. H.
North. My son, farewell—no further go in this,
Hot. Father, adieu! O let the hours be short,
SPEECH OF LORD CAVENDISH ON AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
You see one half the empire lost, the other discontented and tottering; a kingdom of late the most prosperous, now sinking under every misfortune; a nation once renowned for its virtues, now contaminated with corruption; and arrived, in the train of every vice, losses, discomfiture and shame. The Americans are charged with planning independency; certainly it is not the merit of England, that they have not yet adopted such a resolution; for the ministers have neglected no possible violence to compel them to it. They are charged with dissimulation; but they have constantly affirmed, that the terms of reconciliation were those of returning to the state of things existing in 1763.
You are desired to send against them numerous armies and formidable fleets; but they are at home surrounded by friends, and abounding in all things. The English are at an immense distance, stinted in the means of subsistence; having for enemies, climate, winds, and men. And what wealth, what treasures, will not be necessary to subsist your troops in those distant countries! Impenetrable forests, inaccessible mountains, will serve the Americans in case of disaster, as so many retreats and fortresses, whence they will rush forth upon you anew. You will, therefore, be under a constant necessity to conquer or die; or what is worse than death, to fly ignominiously to your ships.
The Americans will avail themselves of the knowledge of places, which they only have, to harass the British troops, to intercept the ways, to cut off supplies, to surprise outposts, to exhaust, to consume, to temporise and prolong, at will, the duration of the war. Imagine not that they will expose themselves to the hazard of battles; they will vanquish us by dint of fatigue, placed, as we shall be, at a distance of three thousand miles from our country. It will be easy for them, impossible for us, to receive continual reinforcements. They will know how to use the occasion of their temporary superiority to strike decisive blows; the tardy succours that may arrive to us by the Atlantic, will not prevent our reverses; they will learn, in our school, the use of arms and the art of war; they will eventually give their masters fatal proofs of their proficiency.
But let victory be supposed: can there be any doubt that it will be sanguinary, that its results will be lands laid waste, towns desolated by fire, subjects envenomed by implacable hatred, the prosperity of commerce annihilated, and reciprocal distrusts always ready to rekindle war. Long have standing armies been considered as dangerous to liberty; but the protracted aad difficult war, which you are about to engage in, will enormously increase these armies. Is it to dissipate our fears on this point, that ministers subsidize these bands of Germans, an excellent race assuredly, but admirably adapted to serve the purposes of the fautors of despotism?
I have supposed that we shall be victorious: let us now suppose we should be beaten. Who will restore our treasures exhausted, our commerce annihilated, the spirit of our troops extinguished, our national glory, first source of public virtue, unworthily eclipsed? Who will efface the stigma branded upon the British name? In our reverses we shall not have the consolation of having acted with maturity of reflection, or that of having been taken unawares.
The quarrel of America will soon become the quarrel of Europe; and if our country perish not therein, it must be attributed rather to its happy star, than to the wisdom of those who govern it. Such is the importance, such are the consequences of the subject, that I cannot but deem it an incomprehensible fact, to see the passions allowed full scope on every side, instead of that calm, which ought to preside in the consideration of our melancholy situation, and in the investigation of the most prompt, the most efficacious, and the most expedient remedies.
Let us, therefore, unite in praying, in conjuring his Majesty to suspend the effects of his anger, and to prevent the running with such precipitation, to shed English blood by English hands. Rather let it be studied to calm and conciliate minds, to search out the causes of our discords, to discover the means which may enable us to rejoin the lacerated parts of the British empire. Let us labour to restore to the government its majesty, to the laws the obedience which is their due, to the parliament its legitimate authority, and to the British people the tranquillity and happiness of which they are so eminently worthy.
INFLUENCE OF LITERATURE AND DIVINE REVELATION.-Wayland.
Of all the books, with which, since the invention of writing, this world has been deluged, the number of those is very small, which have produced any perceptible effect on the mass of human character. By far the greater part have been, even by their contemporaries, unnoticed and unknown. Not many an one has made its little mark upon the generation that produced it, though it sunk with that generation to utter forgetfulness. But, after the ceaseless toil of six thousand years, how few have been the works, the adamantine basis of whose reputation has stood unhurt amid the fluctuations of time, and whose impression can be traced, through successive centuries, on the history of our species.
When, however, such a work appears, its effects are absolutely incalculable; and such a work, you are aware, is the Iliad of Homer. Who can estimate the results produced by this incomparable effort of a single mind! Who can tell what Greece owes to this first-born of song! Her breathing marbles, her solemn temples, her unrivalled eloquence, and her matchless verse, all point us to that transcendent genius, who, by the very splendour of his own effulgence, woke the human intellect from the slumber of ages.
It was Homer, who gave laws to the artist; it was Homer, who inspired the poet; it was Homer, who thundered in the senate; and more than all, it was Homer, who was sung by the people; and hence a nation was cast into the mould of one mighty mind, and the land of the Iliad became the region of taste, the birthplace of the arts. Nor was this influence confined within the limits of Greece. Long after the sceptre of empire had passed westward, genius still held her court on the banks of the Ilyssus, and, from the country of Homer, gave laws to the world.
The light, which the blind old man of Scio had kindled in Greece, shed its radiance over Italy; and thus did he awaken a second nation to intellectual existence. And we may form some idea of the power, which this one work has to the present day exerted over the mind of man, by re marking, that ‘nation after nation, and century after century, has been able to do little more than transpose his incidents, new name his characters, and paraphrase his sentiments.'