Copyright
David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) online

. (page 7 of 56)
Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) → online text (page 7 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


to expect from other causes. That the service of the sailors will
be set up to sale by auction, and that the merchants will bid
against the government, is incontestable; nor is there any doubt
that they will be able to offer the highest price, because they
will take care to repay themselves by raising the value of their
goods. Thus, without some restraint upon the merchants, our
enemies, who are not debarred by their form of government from



72



SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE



any method which policy can invent, or absolute power put in
execution, will preclude all our designs, and set at defiance a na-
tion superior to themselves.

William Pitt, Esquire, spoke to the following purport: — Sir,
it is common for those to have the greatest regard to their own
interest who discover the least for that of others. I do not,
therefore, despair of recalling the advocates of this bill from the
prosecution of their favorite measures by arguments of greater
efficacy than those which are founded on reason and justice.
Nothing, sir, is more evident than that some degree of reputa-
tion is absolutely necessary to men who have any concern in the
administration of a government like ours; they must either secure
the fidelity of their adherents by the assistance of wisdom, or of
virtue; their enemies must either be awed by their honesty, or
terrified by their cunning. Mere artless bribery will never gain
a sufficient majority to set them entirely free from apprehensions
of censure. To different tempers different motives must be ap-
plied: some, who place their felicity in being accounted wise are
in very little care to preserve the character of honesty; others
may be persuaded to join in measures which they easily discover
to be weak and ill-concerted, because they are convinced that the
authors of them are not corrupt, but mistaken, and are unwilling
that any man should be punished for natural defects or casual
ignorance. I cannot say, sir, which of these motives influence
the advocates for the bill before us; a bill in which such cruelties
are proposed as are yet unknown among the most savage na-
tions, such as slavery has not yet borne, or tyranny invented,
such as cannot be heard without resentment, nor thought of
without horror. It is, sir, perhaps, not unfortunate, that one
more expedient has been added rather ridiculous than shocking,
and that these tyrants of the administration, w^ho amuse them-
selves with oppressing their fellow-subjects, who add without re-
luctance one hardship to another, invade the liberty of those
whom they have already overborne with taxes, first plunder and
then imprison, who take all opportunities of heightening the pub-
lic distresses and make the miseries of war the instruments of
new oppressions, are too ignorant to be formidable, and owe their
success, not to their abilities, but to casual prosperity or to the
influence of money.

The other clauses of this bill, complicated at once with cruelty
and folly, have been treated with becoming indignation; but this



SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE ^^

may be considered with less ardor of resentment, and fewer emo-
tions of zeal, because, though perhaps equally iniquitous, it will
do no harm ; for a law that can never be executed can never be
felt. That it will consume the manufacture of paper and swell
the books of statutes is all the good or hurt that can be hoped
or feared from a law like this; a law which fixes what is in its
own nature mutable, which prescribes rules to the seasons and
limits to the wind. I am too well acquainted, sir, with the dis-
position of its two chief supporters, to mention the contempt
with which this law will be treated by posterity, for they have
already shown abundantly their disregard of succeeding genera-
tions; but I will remind them that they are now venturing their
whole interest at once, and hope they will recollect before it is
too late that those who believe them to intend the happiness of
their country will never be confirmed in their opinion by open
cruelty and notorious oppression; and that those who have only
their own interest in view will be afraid of adhering to those
leaders, however old and practiced in expedients, however strength-
ened by corruption, or elated with power, who have no reason to
hope for success from either their virtue or abilities.

Sir Robert Walpole rose, and spoke as follows: — Sir, every
lavvT which extends its influence to great numbers in various re-
lations and circumstances must produce some consequences that
were never foreseen or intended, and is to be censured or ap-
plauded as the general advantages or inconveniences are found
to preponderate. Of this kind is the law before us, a law en-
forced by the necessity of our affairs, and drawn up with no
other intention than to secure the public happiness, and produce
that success which every man's interest must prompt him to de-
sire. If in the execution of this law, sir, some inconveniences
should arise, they are to be remedied as fast as they are discov-
ered; or, if not capable of a remedy, to be patiently borne in
consideration of the general advantage. That some temporary
disturbances may be produced is not improbable; the discontent
of the sailors may for a short time rise high, and our trade be
suspended b}^ their obstinacy; but obstinacy, however determined,
must yield to hunger, and when no higher wages can be ob-
tained, they will cheerfully accept of those which are here
allowed them. Short voyages, indeed, are not comprehended in
the clause, and therefore the sailors will engage in them upon
their own terms; but this objection can be of no weight with



74



SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE



those that oppose the clause, because, if it is unjust to limit the
wages of the sailors, it is just to leave those voyages without
restriction; and those that think the expedient here proposed
equitable and rational may perhaps be willing to make some con-
cessions -o those who are of a different opinion. That the bill
will not remove every obstacle to success, nor add weight to one
part of the balance without making the other lighter; that it will
not supply the navy without incommoding the merchants in some
degree; that it may be sometimes evaded by cunning, and some-
times abused by malice, and that at last it will be less efficacious
than is desired may, perhaps, be proved; but it has not yet been
proved that any other measures are more eligible, or that we are
not to promote the public service as far as we are able, though
our endeavors may not produce effects equal to our wishes.

Mr. Attorney-General spoke next to this purport: — Sir,
the clause before us cannot, in my opinion, produce any such
dreadful consequences as the learned gentleman appears to im-
agine. However, to remove all difficulties, I have drawn up an
amendment which I shall beg leave to propose : ^^ That the con-
tracts which may be affected as the clause now stands shall be
void only as to so much of the wages as shall exceed the sum
to which the House shall agree to reduce the seamen's pay " ;
and as to the forfeitures, they are not to be levied upon the
sailors, but upon the merchants or trading companies who em-
ploy them and who are able to pay greater sums without being
involved in poverty and distress. With regard, sir, to the reasons
for introducing this clause, they are, in my judgment, valid and
equitable. We have found it necessary to fix the rate of money
at interest, and the rate of labor in several cases; and if we do
not in this case, what will be the consequence ? A second em-
bargo on commerce, and perhaps a total stop to all military
preparations. Is it reasonable that any man should rate his
labor according to the immediate necessities of those that employ
him ? 0±' that he should raise his own fortune by the public ca-
lamities ? If this has hitherto been a practice, it is a practice
contrary to the general happiness of society, and ought to pre-
vail no longer. If the sailor, sir, is exposed to greater dangers
in time of war, is not the merchant's trade carried on likewise
at greater hazard ? Is not the freight, equally with the sailors,
threatened at once by the ocean and the enemy ? And is not the
owner's fortune equally impaired, whether the ship be dashed



SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE



75



upon a rock or seized by a privateer ? The merchant, therefore,
has as much reason for paying less wages in time of war as the
sailor for demanding more, and nothing remains but that the
legislative power determine a medium between their different in-
terests, with justice, if possible, at least with impartiality.

Horatio Walpole, Esquire, who had stood up several times,
but was prevented by other members, spoke next, to this purport:
Sir, I was unwilling to interrupt the course of this debate while
it was carried on with calmness and decency, by men who do
not suffer the ardor of opposition to cloud their reason, or trans-
port them to such expressions as the dignity of this assembly
does not admit. I have hitherto deferred to answer the gentle-
man who declaimed against the bill with such fluency of rhetoric,
and such vehemence of gesture, who charged the advocates for
the expedients now proposed with having no regard to any in-
terest but their own, and with making laws only to consume
paper, and threatened them with the defection of their adherents,
and the loss of their influence upon this new discovery of their
folly and their ignorance. Nor, sir, do I now answer him for
any other purpose than to remind him how little the clamors of
rage and petulancy of invectives contribute to the purposes for
which this assembly is called together; how little the discovery
of truth is promoted, and the security of the nation established
by pompous diction and theatrical emotions. Formidable sounds,
and furious declamations, confident assertions, and lofty periods,
may affect the young and inexperienced, and, perhaps, the gen-
tleman may have contracted his habits of oratory by conversing
more with those of his own age than with such as have had
more opportunities of acquiring knowledge and more successful
methods of communicating their sentiments. If the heat of his
temper, sir, would suffer him to attend to those whose age and
long acquaintance with business give them an indisputable right
to deference and superiority, he would learn, in time, to reason
rather than declaim, and to prefer justness of argument, and an
accurate knowledge of facts, to sounding epithets and splendid
superlatives, which may disturb the imagination for a moment,
but leave no lasting impression on the mind. He will learn, sir,
that to accuse and prove are very different, and that reproaches
unsupported by evidence affect only the character of him that
utters them. Excursions of fancy and flights of oratory are, in-
deed, pardonable in young men, but in no other; and it would



76



SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE



surely contribute more, even to the purpose for which some gen.
tlemen appear to speak, that of depreciating the conduct of the
administration, to prove the inconveniences and injustice of this
bill, than barely to assert them, with whatever magnificence of
language, or appearance of zeal, honesty, or compassion.

William Pitt, Esquire, replied: — Sir, the atrocious crime of
being a young man, which the honorable gentleman has with such
spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to
palliate, nor deny, but content myself with wishing that I may
be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and
not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience.
Whether youth can be imputed to any man as a reproach, I will
not, sir, assume the province of determining; but surely age may
become justly contemptible, if the opportunities which it brings
have passed away without improvement, and vice appears to pre-
vail when the passions have subsided. The wretch that, after
having seen the consequences of a thousand errors, continues
still to blunder, and whose age has only added obstinacy to stu-
pidity, is surely the object of either abhorrence or contempt, and
deserves not that his gray head should secure him from insults.
Much more, sir, is he to be abhorred, who, as he has advanced
in age, has receded from virtue, and becomes more wicked with
less temptation; who prostitutes himself for money which he can-
not enjoy, and spends the remains of his life in the ruin of his
country. But youth, sir, is not my only crime; I have been ac-
cused of acting a theatrical part. A theatrical part may either
imply some peculiarities of gesture, or a dissimulation of my real
sentiments and an adoption of the opinions and language of an-
other man.

In the first sense, sir, the charge is too trifling to be con-
futed, and deserves only to be mentioned that it may be despised,
I am at liberty, like every other man, to use my own language;
and though I may, perhaps, have some ambition to please this
gentleman, I shall not lay myself under any restraint, nor very
solicitously copy his diction, or his mein, however matured by
age, or modeled by experience. If any man shall by charging
me with theatrical behavior imply that I utter any sentiments
but my own, I shall treat him as a calumniator and a villain ;
nor shall any protection shelter him from the treatment which he
deserves. I shall, on such an occasion, without scruple, trample
upon all those forms with which wealth and dignity intrench



SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE 77

themselves, nor shall anything but age restrain my resentment:
age, which always brings one privilege, that of being insolent and
supercilious without punishment. But with regard, sir, to those
whom I have offended, I am of opinion that if I had acted a
borrowed part, I should have avoided their censure; the heat that
offended them is the ardor of conviction, and that zeal for the
service of my country which neither hope nor fear shall influ-
ence me to suppress. I will not sit unconcerned while my liberty
is invaded, nor look in silence upon public robbery. I will exert
my endeavors at whatever hazard to repel the aggressor and drag
the thief to justice, whoever may protect them in their villainy,
and whoever may partake of their plunder. And if the honor-
able gentleman —

Here Thomas Winnington, Esquire, called to order, and [Will-
iam Pitt, Esquire, sitting down] spoke thus: — It is necessary, sir,
that the order of this assembly be observed, and the debate re-
sumed without personal altercations. Such expressions as have
been vented on this occasion become not an assembly intrusted
with the liberty and welfare of their country. To interrupt the
debate on a subject so important as that before us is, in some
measure, to obstruct the public happiness and violate our trust.
But much more heinous is the crime of exposing our determina-
tions to contempt, and inciting the people to suspicion and mutiny
by indecent reflections or unjust insinuations. I do not, sir, un-
dertake to decide the controversy between the two gentlemen,
but must be allowed to observe that no diversity of opinion can
justify the violation of decency and the use of rude and virulent
expressions; expressions dictated only by resentment, and uttered
without regard to —

Here William Pitt, Esquire, called to order, and said : — Sir, if
this be to preserve order, there is no danger of indecency from the
most licentious tongue; for what calumny can be more atrocious,
or what reproach more severe than that of speaking with regard
to anything but truth. Order may sometimes be broken by pas-
sion, or inadvertency, but will hardly be re-established by mon-
itors like this who cannot govern his own passion, whilst he is
restraining the impetuosity of others. Happy, sir, would it be
for mankind if every one knew his own province; we should not
then see the same man at once a criminal and a judge, nor
would this gentleman assume the right of dictating to others
what he has not learned himself. That I may return in some



^8 SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE

degree the favor which he intends me I will advise him never
hereafter to exert himself on the subject of order; but whenever
he finds himself inclined to speak on such occasions to remember
how he has now succeeded, and condemn in silence what his
censures will never reform.



SIR ROBERT WALPOLE ON PATRIOTS

(Delivered in Parliament in 1740 on a Motion to Dismiss Him

from the Council)

IT HAS been observed, Mr. Speaker, by several gentlemen, in
vindication of this motion, that if it should be carried, neither

my life, liberty, nor estate, will be affected. But do the hon-
orable gentlemen consider my character and reputation as of no
moment ? Is it no imputation to be arraigned before this House
in which I have sat forty years, and to have my name trans-
mitted to posterity with disgrace and infamy ? I will not con-
ceal my sentiments, that to be named in Parliament as a subject
of inquiry is to me a matter of great concern; but I have the
satisfaction, at the same time, to reflect that the impression to be
made depends upon the consistency of the charge and the mot-
ives of the prosecutors. Had the charge been reduced to specific
allegations, I should have felt myself called upon for a specific
defense. Had I served a weak or wicked master, and implicitly
obeyed his dictates, obedience to his commands must have been
my only justification. But, as it has been my good fortune to
serve a master who wants no bad ministers, and would have
hearkened to none, my defense must rest on my own conduct.
The consciousness of innocence is sufficient support against my
present prosecutors.

Survey and examine the individuals who usually support the
measures of Government, and those who are in opposition. Let
us see to whose side the balance preponderates. Look round
both houses, and see to which side the balance of virtue and
talents preponderates. Are all these on one side, and not on the
other ? Or are all these to be counterbalanced by an affected
claim to the exclusive title of patriotism ? Gentlemen have talked
a great deal about patriotism. A venerable word, when duly
practiced! But I am sorry to say that of late it has been so
much hackneyed about that it is in danger of falling into dis-



SIR ROBERT AND HORACE WALPOLE



79



grace. The very idea of true patriotism is lost; and the term
has been prostituted to the very worst of purposes. A patriot,
sir! Why, patriots spring up like mushrooms! I could raise fifty
of them within the four-and-twenty hours. I have raised many
of them in one night. It is but refusing to gratify an unreason-
able or an insolent demand, and up starts a patriot. I have
never been afraid of making patriots; but I disdain and despise
all their efforts. This pretended virtue proceeds from personal
malice and from disappointed ambition. There is not a man
amongst them whose particular aim I am not able to ascertain,
and from what motive he has entered into the lists of opposi-
tion'




JOSEPH WARREN

(1741-1775)

arrkn's enduring reputation anion*:^ the Revolutionary orators
of New England is due to the eloquence with which he de-
nounced the occupation of Boston, JMassachusetts, by a Brit-
ish military garrison. In 1772 and again in 1775 he was chosen to de-
liver the oration of the day on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre.
The oration of 1775 was delivered in times of great excitement, when
the orator's life was threatened and the outbreak of hostilities was im-
minent. In force of idea, as well as in form, it is greatly inferior to
the address of March 5th, 1772, in which Warren states eloquently and
without exaggeration the grievance which was the immediate cause of
revolution. That grievance was the use of military garrisons by Eng-
land to do police duty in the Colonies. Warren's objection to it could
be replied to only in one way, — as it was at Bunker Hill, when he fell
under the fire with which Lord North's administration imagined it was
possible to "pacify the Colonies."

Warren was born at Roxbury, Massachusetts. June nth, 1741.
Graduating at Harvard in 1759, he began the practice of medicine in
Boston, where, when the agitation against England's colonial policy
began, he became one of the leaders of the American Revolutionary
party. In 1774 he was Chairman of the Committee of Public Safety,
and President of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. Pie fought
at the battle of Lexington and was made Major General of the Massa-
chusetts militia. At Bunker Hill he served as a volunteer aid, and was

killed there June 17th, 1775,

80



JOSEPH WARREN 8l

CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY AND ARBITRARY POWER

(An Oration Delivered at Boston, March 5th, 1772)

Qtiis talia fando,
Myrmidonum, Dolopumve, aut duri miles Ulyssei,
Tej/tperet a lacrymis. — ViRGlL.

WHEN we turn over the historic page and trace cne rise and
fall of states and empires, the mighty revolutions which
have so often varied the face of the world strike our
minds with solemn surprise, and we are naturally lead to en-
deavor to search out the causes of such astonishing changes.

That man is formed for social life is an observation which,
upon our first inquiry, presents itself immediately to our view,
and our reason approves that wise and generous principle which
actuated the first founders of civil govemmen": an institution
which hath its origin in the weakness of individuals, and hath
for its end the strength and security of all; and so long as the
means of effecting this important end are thoroughly kn^wn. and
religiously attended to, government is one of the richest biess-
ings to mankind, and ought to be held in the highest vene.'ation.

In young and new-formed communities the grano. design of
this institution is most generally understood and the most strictly
regarded; the motives which urged to the social compact cannot
be at once forgotten, and that equality which is remembered to
have subsisted so lately among them prevents those who are
clothed with authority from attempting to invade the freedom of
their brethren; or if such an attempt be made, it prevents the
community from suffering the offender to go unpunished: every
member feels it to be his interest and knows it to be his duty
to preserve inviolate the constitution on which the public safety
depends, and he is equally ready to assist the magistrate in the
Execution of the laws and the subject in defense of his right;
and so long as this noble attachment to a Constitution, founded
on free and benevolent principles, exists in full vigor, in any
State, that State must be flourishing and happy.

It was this noble attachment to a free Constitution which
raised ancient Rome from the smallest beginnings to that bright
summit of happiness and glory to which she arrived; and it was
the loss of this which plunged her from that summit into the
black gulf of infamy and slavery. It was this attachment which
10 — 6



g2 JOSEPH WARREN

inspired her Senators with wisdom; it was this which glowed in
the breast of her heroes; it was this which guarded her liberties
and extended her dominions, gave peace at home, and commanded
respect abroad; and when this decayed her magistrates lost their
reverence for justice and the laws, and degenerated into tyrants
and oppressors, — her senators, forgetful of their dignity, and se-
duced by base corruption, betrayed their country, — her soldiers,
regardless of their relation to the community, and urged only by
the hopes of plunder and rapine, unfeelingly committed the most
flagrant enormities; and, hired to the trade of death, with relent-
less fury they perpetrated the most cruel murders, whereby the
streets of imperial Rome were drenched with her noblest blood.
Thus this empress of the world lost her dominions abroad, and
her inhabitants, dissolute in their manners, at length became
contented slaves; and she stands to this day the scorn and de-
rision of nations, and a monument of this eternal truth that pub-
lic happiness depends on a virtuous and imshaken attachment to
a free Constitution.

It was this attachment to a Constitution, founded on free and
benevolent principles, which inspired the first settlers of this
country, — they saw with grief the daring outrages committed on
the free Constitution of their native land, — they knew nothing
but a civil war could at that time restore its pristine purity. So
hard was it to resolve to imbrue their hands in the blood of
their brethren that they chose rather to quit their fair possessions



Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) → online text (page 7 of 56)