Page images

For that service, for all service, whether of revenue, trade, or empire, my trust is in her interest in the British Constitution. My hold in the colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are ties, which, though light as air, are strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your government; they will cling and grapple to you; and no force under Heaven will have power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it be once understood, that your government may be one thing, and their privileges another ; that these two things may exist without any mutual relation, the cement is gone; the cohesion is loosened ; and every thing hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple, consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards

you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have ; the more ardent they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can have any where. It is a weed that grows in every soil. They may have it from Spain, they may have it from Prussia. But until you become lost to all feeling of your true interest and your natural dignity, freedom they can have from none but you. This is the commodity of price, of which you have the monopoly. This is the true art of navigation, which binds to you

the commerce of the colonies, and through them secures to you the wealth of the world. Deny them this participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond, which originally made, and must still preserve the unity of the empire. Do not entertain so weak an imagination, as that your registers and your bonds, your affidavits and your suffrances, are what form the great securities of your com

Do not dream that your letters of office, and your instructions, and your suspending clauses, are the things that hold together the great contexture of this mysterious whole. These things do not make your go

Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English communion that gives all



their life and efficacy to them. It is the spirit of the English Constitution, which, infused. through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies, every part of the empire, even down to the minutest member.

Is it not the same virtue which does every thing for us here in England ? Do you imagine, then, that it is the land tax act which raises your revenue ? that it is the annual vote in the committee of supply, which gives you your army? or, that it is the mutiny bill that inspires it with bravery and discipline? No! surely no! It is the love of the people ; it is their attachment to their government, from the sense of the deep stake they have in such a glorious institution, which gives you your army and your navy, and infuses into both thát liberal obedience, without which our army would be a base rabble, and your navy nothing but rotten timber.

All this, I know well enough, will sound wild and chimerical, to the profane herd of those vulgar and mechanical politicians, who have no place among us; a sort of people who think that nothing exists but what is gross and material; and who, therefore, far from being qualified to be the directors of the great movements of empires, are not fit to turn a wheel in the machine.

But to men truly initiated, and rightly taught, these ruling and master principles, which in the opinion of such men as I have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are in truth every thing, and all in all. Magnanimity in politics, is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together. If we are conscious of our situation, and glow with zeal to fill our places as becomes our station and ourselves, we ought to auspiciate all our public proceedings on America, with the old warning of the church, sursum corda! We ought to elevate our minds to the greatness of that trust to which the order of Providence has called us. By adverting to the dignity of this high calling, our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire; and have made the most extensive and the most honourable conquests; not by destroying, but by promoting the wealth, the number, the happiness of the human race. Let us get an American revenue as we have got an American empire. English privileges have made it all that it is; English privileges alone will make it all that it can be.

In full confidence of this unalterable truth, I now (quod felix fausturneque sit) lay the first stone of the temple of peace; and I move you,

“ That the colonies and plantations of Great Britain in North America, consisting of fourteen separate governments, and containing two millions and upwards, of free inhabitants, have not had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any knights and burgesses, or others, to represent them in the high court of Parliament.”

Extract from a Speech by the Hon. Robert G. HARPER,

in Congress, on the foreign intercourse bill, on Friday, 2d March, 1798.

DOES not history teach us there is nothing more common than for men to do mischief when they mean'to do good ? Did the La Fayettes, the Rochefoucaults, the Leincours, the Lamethe, and the Clermonts of France, when they first taught the doctrines of insurrection, and stirred up the mob to resist the government, intend to pull down ruin on their country, their families and themselves ? Did they intend to procure their own death or banishment, and the confiscation of their estates; to send to the guilotine hundreds of thousands of the best citizens, including their own families and friends, to drench the whole country in blood, and transfer the most absolute power into the hands of the vilest of mankind ? Certainly they had no such intentions, and yet we find that these consequences did result from their measures ; France and the world have groaned, and are groaning under these consequences; nor are they less real, or less deplorable because their authors intended to do good and not mischief. Fanatics never, or very rarely indeed, intend to do mischief; and yet all experience proves that no description of men is half so mischievous. 'They rush blindly on, without reflection or hesitation, and aim directly at the accomplishment of their designs, without being delayed or turned aside by any considerations of the result.

This is the nature, the peculiar characteristic of all fa

naticism, whether religious or political. It hurries on its votaries with an impetuous and inconsiderate fury, which renders them equally deaf to the voice of reason, and blind to the consequences of their actions. Thas the Quakers rush forward to the liberation of the blacks ; thus the falsely-named Philanthropists of France involved the French colonies in flames and slaughter; and thus a set of political fanatics in the same country, in the pursuit of their wild and visionary theories, put arms into the hands of the mob, taught the populace the doctrine and practice of insurrection, overthrew the government, and were themselves, with their families, their fortunes and their country, crushed under its ruins. Their fanaticism impelled them to pull down a stupendous fabric, the work of fourteen centuries, which by its fall spread death and devastation over the whole extent of the finest country on earth.

With these awful examples before us, shall we trust fanatic men with power by reason of their upright mo. tives ; or sit regardless of the consequences of their actions, because we are convinced that their intentions are pure? So far otherwise, that in my opinion, their honesty is an additional reason for dreading them. Of your cool, calculating, political knaves, I am never afraid. Such men are not apt to be much trusted, and moreover, they never do mischief but when there is something to be gained by it. They never do mischief for mischief's sake; and being, for the most part, men of sense and reflection, you may generally convince them that their own interest lies in avoiding mischief. But it is the sincere, the honest fanatic whom I dread, and whom I think myself bound to restrain, as I would confine a maniac. His honesty, his zeal, and his good character, enable him to inspire confidence and gain proselytes; the consciousness of upright intentions render him as bold as he is blind. He rushes directly forward, without looking to the right hand or the left; pulls down all that stands in his way, regardless on whom it may fall; destroys a country in order to make it free ; inflicts unheard-of calamities on the present generation, for the happiness of posterity ; and makes experiments on governments and nations, with the sang froid of an anatomist dissecting the body of a malefactor. These are the men of whom I am afraid, and whom I think it my duty at all times and places, to withstand : men whose projects and experiments have brought ruin on other countries, and will bring it on this unless they are resisted and restrained by the sober and reflecting part of the community.

After all, sir, I am not much afraid of these men. There was, indeed, a time when their efforts might have been formidable, because the phrenzy of revolution which seemed to have been poured out upon the earth, like a vial of wrath, which had fallen upon mankind like a plague, did once extend its dreadful influence to this country, where, in a greater or less degree, it infected every description of people, and made them eager for change, and ripe for revolution, but it has passed away, never to return. Fortunately, before the disease had risen to its height here, time was given for observing its terrible effects elsewhere ; and the American people profiting by example, and aided by the peculiar happiness of their situation, first resisted, and have finally subdued this dreadful malady, the love of revolution.

In this, I repeat it, they have been aided no less by their own happy situation, than by the mournful experience of other countries. For revolutions, sir, are brought about in all countries by three descriptions of men ; philosophers, jacobins and sans-culottes. They exist in all countries, and accordingly, in all countries are to be found the materials of revolution ; but they exist in different proportions, and according as these proportions are greater or less in any country, so is the danger of revolution wherewith it is threatened.

The Philosophers are the pioneers of revolution. They advance always in front and prepare the way, by preaching infidelity, and weakening the respect of the people for ancient institutions. They are, for the most part, fanatics, of virtuous lives, and not unfrequently, of specious talents. They have always, according to the expression of an ancient writer, “satis eloquenti, parum sapienti,eloquence enough, but very little sense. They declaim with warmth on the miseries of mankind, the abuses of government, and the vices of rulers ; all of which they engage to remove, provided their theories


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »