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XIX. EXTRACT FROM MR. WEBSTER'S SPEECH ON THE GREEK
Sir-It may, perhaps, be asked, what can we do? Are we to go to war? Are we to interfere in the Greek cause, or any other European cause? Are we to endanger our pacific relations ?—No, certainly not. What, then, the question recurs, remains for us? If we will not endanger our own peace; if we will neither furnish armies, nor navies, to the cause which we think the just one, what is there within our power?
Sir, this reasoning mistakes the age. The time has been, indeed, when fleets, and armies, and subsidies, were the principal reliances even in the best cause. But, happily for mankind, there has come a great change in this respect. Moral causes come into consideration, in proportion as the progress of knowledge is advanced ; and the public opinion of the civilized world is rapidly gaining an ascendancy over mere brutal force. It is already able to oppose the most formidable obstruction to the progress of injustice and oppression; and, as it grows more intelligent and more intense, it will be more and more formidable. It may be silenced by military power, but it cannot be conquered. It is elastic, irrepressible, and invulnerable to the weapons of ordinary warfare. It is that impassable, unextinguishable enemy of mere violence and arbitrary rule, which like Milton's angels,
66 Vital in every part,
Cannot but by annihilating, die.” Until this be propitiated or satisfied, it is in vain for power to talk either of triumphs or of repose. No matter what fields are desolated, what fortresses surrendered, what armies subdued, or what provinces overrun. In the history of the year that has passed by us, and in the instance of unhappy Spain, we have seen the vanity of all triumphs, in a cause which violates the general sense of justice of the civilized world. It is nothing, that the troops of France have passed from the Pyrenees to Cadiz; it is nothing that an unhappy and prostrate nation has fallen before them; it is nothing that arrests, and confiscation, and execution, sweep away the little remnant of national resistance. There is an enemy that still exists to check the glory of these triumphs. It follows the conqueror back to the very scene of his ovations ;* it calls upon him to take notice, that Europe, though silent, is yet indignant. It shows him that the scepter of his victory is a barren scepter, that it shall confer neither joy nor honor, but shall moulder to dry ashes in his grasp. In the midst of his exultation, it pierces his ear with the cry of injured justice, it denounces against him the indignation of an enlightened and civilized age; it turns to bitterness the cup of his rejoicing, and wounds him with the sting which belongs to the consciousness of having outraged the opinion of
traged the oninions of mankind.
EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH OF MR. BURKE ON JUNIUS.
Sir-How comes this Junius to have broke through the cobwebs of the law, and to range uncontrolled, unpunished, through the land? The myrmidons of the court have been long, and are still, pursuing him in vain. They will not spend their time upon me, or you, or you. No! they disdain such vermin, when the mighty boar of the forest, that has broke through all their toils, is before them. But what will all their efforts avail ? No sooner has he wounded one than he lays down another dead at his feet. For my part, when I saw his attack upon the king, I own my blood ran cold. I thought he had ventured too far, and there was an end of his triumphs. Not
* Ovation, a lesser triumph among the Romans.
that he had not asserted many truths ; yes, sir, there are in that composition many bold truths; by which a wise prince might profit. It was the rancor and venom, with which I was struck. In these respects the North-Briton is as much inferior to him, as in strength, wit, and judgment. But while I expected, in this daring flight, his final ruin and fall, behold him rising still higher, and coming down souse upon both houses of parliament. Yes, he did make you his quarry, and you still bleed from the wounds of his talons. You crouched, and still crouch, beneath his rage. Nor has he dreaded the terrors of your brow, sir; he has attacked even you-he has—and I believe you have no reason to triumph in the encounter. In short, after carrying away our royal eagle in his pounces, and dashing him against a rock, he has laid you prostrate Kings, lords, and commons, are but the sport of his fury. Were he a member of this house, what might not be expected from his knowledge, his firmness and integrity? He would be easily known by his contempt of all danger, by his penetration, by his vigor. Nothing would escape his vigilance and activity. Bad ministers could conceal nothing from his sagacity; nor could promises nor threats induce him to conceal any thing from the public.
LORD THURLOW'S REPLY IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS TO
THE DUKE OF GRAFTON,
The Duke had reproached Lord Thurlow with his plebeian extraction and his recent admission to the Peerage. He rose from the woolsack and advanced slowly to the place from which the chancelor addresses the house, then fixing his eye on the Duke (in the words of a spectator,) " with the look of Jove when he has grasped the thunder," spoke as follows.
My Lords—I am amazed, yes my Lords, I am amazed at his grace's speech. The noble duke cannot look before him, behind him, or on either side of him, without seeing some noble peer, who owes his seat in this house to his successful exertions, in the profession to which I belong. Does he not feel that it is as honorable to owe it to these, as to being the accident of an accident ?-To all these noble lords, the language of the noble duke is as applicable and as insulting as it is to myself. But I don't fear to meet it single and alone. No one venerates the peerage more than I do-but, my lords, I must say that the peerage solicited me,--not I the peerage. Nay more,- I can say and will say, that as a peer of parliament,—as speaker of this right honorable house,--as keeper of the great seal,-as guardian of his majesty's conscience,-as lord high chancelor of England—nay, even in that character alone, in which the noble duke would think it an affront to be considered—but which character none can deny me-as a MAN, I am at this moment as respectable ; I beg leave to add-I am, at this time, as much respected, as the proudest peer I now look down upon.
EXTRACT FROM THE PLEA OF THOMAS MUIR, ESQ. AT
HIS CELEBRATED TRIAL IN SCOTLAND.
Gentlemen of the Jury- This is now perhaps the last time that I shall address my country. I have explored the tenor of my past life. Nothing shall tear from me the record of my departed days. The enemies of reform have scrutinized, in a manner hitherto unexampled in Scotland, every action I may have performed, every word I may have uttered. Of crimes, most soul and horrible, have I been accused; of attempting to rear the standard of civil war, to plunge this land in blood, and to cover it with desolation. At every step, as the
evidence of the crown advanced, my innocency has brightened. So far from inflaming the minds of men to sedition and outrage, all the witnesses have concurred, that my only anxiety was, to impress upon them the necessity of peace, of good order, and of good morals.
What then has been my crime? Not, the lending to a relation a copy of Mr. Paine's Rights of Man : not the giving away to another a few numbers of an innocent and constitutional publication; but for having dared to be, according to the measure of my feeble abilities, a strenuous and active advocate for an equal representation of the PEOPLE, in the HOUSE OF THE PEOPLE; for having dared to attempt to accomplish a measure, by legal means, which was to diminish the weight of their taxes, and to put an end to the profusion of their blood. From my infancy to this moment, I have devoted myself to the cause of the PEOPLE. It is a good cause. It will ultimately prevail. It will finally triumph. Say then openly, in your verdict, if you do condemn me, (which I presume you will not,) that it is for my attachment to this cause alone, and not for those vain and wretched pretexts stated in the indictment, intended only to color and disguise the real motives of my accusation. The time will come, when men must stand or fall by their actions; when all human pageantry shall cease; when the hearts of all shall be laid open to view. If you regard your most important interests; if you wish that your consciences should whisper to you words of consolation, rather than speak to you in the terrible language of remorse, weigh' well the verdict you are to pronounce.
As for me, I am careless and indifferent to my fate. I can look danger, and I can look death in the face; for I am shielded by the consciousness of my own rectitude. I may be condemned to languish in the recesses of a dungeon. I may be doomed to ascend the scaffold : but nothing can deprive me of the recollection of the past; nothing can destroy my inward peace of mind, arising from the remembrance of having discharged my duty.