« FöregåendeFortsätt »
trated 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 sond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free--if we mean to preserve inviolate 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 glorious 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.
They tell us, sir, that we are weak-unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house ? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible to any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. 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 batile, 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 !!!
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually 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.
Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you; trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier had spoken my lines. And do not saw the air too much with your hands; but use all gently : For in the very torrent, tempest, and, as 1 may say, whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh! it offends me to the soul, to hear a robustious, perriwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings; who (for the most part) are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and noise. Pray you avoid it.
Be not too tame, neither; but let your own discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance, that you overstep not the modesty of nature, for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing; whose end is—to
hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of one of which must, in your allowance, overweigh a whole theater of others. Oh! there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, that, neither having the accent of christian, nor the gait of christian, pagan nor man, have so strutted and bellowed, that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
MR. CURRAN FOR FINNERTY THE PRINTER, ON AN INDICT
MENT FOR LIBEL ON THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND.
Gentlemen—My case is as follows :-William Orr was indicted for having administered the oath of a United Irishman. Every man now knows what this oath is; that it is simply an engagement; first, to promote a brotherhood of affection among men of all religious distinctions. Secondly, to labor for the attainment of parliamentary reform. And thirdly, an obligation of secrecy, which was added to it when the convention law made it criminal and punishable to meet by any public delegation for that puspose.
After remaining upwards of a year in jail, Mr. Orr was brought to his trial; was prosecuted by the state ; was sworn against by a common informer by the name of Wheatly, who, himself, had taken the obligation, and was convicted under the insurrection act, which makes the adıninistering such an obligation felony or death. The jury recommended Mr. Orr to mercy. The judge, with a humanity becoming his character, transmitted the recommendation to the noble prosecutor in this case. Three of the jurors made solemn affidavit in court, that liquor had been conveyed into their box; that they were brutally threatened by some of their fellow jurors with capital prosecution if they did not find the prisoner guilty ; and that under the impression of those threats, and worn down by watching and intoxication, they had given a verdict of guilty against him, though they believed him in their conscience to be innocent. Further inquiries were made, which ended in a discovery of the infamous life and character of the informer; a respite was therefore sent once, and twice, and thrice, to give time, as Mr. Attorney-General has stated, for his excellency to consider whether mercy could be extended to him or not; and, with a knowledge of all these circumstances, his excellency did finally determine that mercy should not be extended to him; he was accordingly executed upon that verdict, and died with a prayer for the welfare of his country. Of the publication, which this indictment charges to be false and seditious, Mr, Attorney-General is pleased to say, that the design of it is to bring the courts of justice into contempt. As to this point of fact, gentlemen, I beg to set you right. To the administration of justice, so far as it relates to the judges, this publication has not even alluded. It relates to a department of justice, that cannot begin until the duty of the judge is closed. To the lord lieutenant of Ireland alone it is confined, and against him the charge is made, as strongly, I suppose, as the writer could find words to express it, “ that the viceroy of Ireland has cruelly abused the prerogative of royal mercy, in suffering a man under such circumstances to perish like a common malefactor.” For this, Mr. Attorney-General calls upon you to pronounce the publication a false and scandalous libel, though he has resisted the admission of the evidence by which we offered to prove every word of it to be true.
Let me now ask you if any of you had addressed the public ear upon so foul and monstrous a subject, in what language would you have conveyed the feelings of horror and indignation ? Would you have stooped to the meanness of qualified complaint?-would you have been mean enough—but I entreat your forgiveness—I do not think meanly of you ; had I thought so meanly of you, I could not suffer my mind to commune with you as it has done. If I do not therefore grossly err in my opinion of you, I could use no language upon such a subject as this, that must not lag behind the rapidity of your feelings, and that would not disgrace those feelings, if it attempted to describe them.
Gentlemen, the learned counsel for the crown seemed to address you with a confidence of a very different kind; he seemed to expect a kind and respectful sympathy from you with the feelings of the castle, and the griefs of chided authority. Perhaps, gentlemen, he may know you better than I do. If he does, he has spoken to you as he ought. If you agree with him, gentlemen ' of the jury, do a courteous thing. Upright and honest :. jurors, find a civil and obliging verdict against the printer! And when you have done so, march through the ranks of your fellow-citizens to your own homes, and bear their looks, as ye pass along; retire to the bosom of your families and your children, and when you are presiding over the morality of the parental board, tell those infants, who are to be the future men of Ireland, the history of this day. Tell them the story of Orrtell them of his captivity, of his children, of his hopes, of his disappointments, of bis courage, and of his death; and when you find your little hearers hanging upon your lips, when you see their eyes overflow with sympathy and sorrow, and their young hearts bursting with the pangs of anticipated orphanage, tell them that you had the boldness, and the injustice to stigmatize the man who had dared to publish the transaction !