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whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp, by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the house? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, all this accumulation of navies and armies? has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains, which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we any thing new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done every thing that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated, we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and
to call for No, sir, she
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 fond 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 by 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 battle, 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!
MR PULTENEY'S SPEECH ON THE MOTION FOR REDUCING THE ARMY.
Sir, we have heard a great deal about parliamentary armies, and about an army continued from year to year. I always have been, sir, and always shall be, against a standing army of any kind. To me it is a terrible thing; whether under that of parliamentary or any other designation, a standing army is still a standing army, whatever name it be called by: they are a body of men distinct from the body of the people; they are governed by different laws; and blind obedience, and an entire submission to the orders of their commanding officer, is their only principle. The nations around us, sir, are already enslaved, and have been enslaved by those very means: by means of their standing armies they have every one lost their liberties: it is indeed impossible that the liberties of the people can be preserved in any country where a numerous standing army is kept up. Shall we then take any of our measures from the examples of our neighbours? No, sir; on the contrary, from their misfortunes we ought to learn to avoid those rocks upon which they have split.
It signifies nothing to tell me, that our army is commanded by such gentlemen as cannot be supposed to join in any measures for enslaving their country. It may be so; I hope it is so I have a very good opinion of many gentlemen now in the army; I believe they would not join in any such measures; but their lives are uncertain, nor can we be sure how long they may be continued in command: they may all be dismissed in a moment, and proper tools put in their room. Besides, sir, we know the passions of men; we know how dangerous it is to trust the best of men with
too much power. Where was there a braver army than that under Julius Cæsar? Where was there ever an army that had served their country more faithfully? That army was commanded generally by the best citizens of Rome, by men of great fortune and figure in their country; yet that army enslaved their country. The affections of the soldiers towards their country, the honour and integrity of the under officers, are not to be depended on; by the military law, the administration of justice is so quick, and the punishment so severe, that neither officer nor soldier dares offer to dispute the orders of his supreme commander; he must not consult his own inclinations: if an officer were commanded to pull his own father out of this house, he must do it; he dares not disobey; immediate death would be the sure consequence of the least grumbling. And if an officer were sent into the Court of Request, accompanied by a body of musketeers with screwed bayonets, and with orders to tell us what we ought to do, and how we were to vote, I know what would be the duty of this house; I know it would be our duty to order the officer to be taken and hanged up at the door of the lobby; but, sir, I doubt much if such a spirit could be found in this house, or in any house of commons that will ever be in England.
Sir, I talk not of imaginary things; I talk of what has happened to an English house of commons, and from an English army: not only from an English army, but an army that was raised by that very house of commons; an army that was paid by them, and an army that was commanded by generals appointed by them. Therefore do not let us vainly imagine, that an army raised and maintained by authority of parliament will always be submissive to them; any army be so numerous as to have it in their power to overawe the parliament, they will be submissive as long as the parliament does nothing to disoblige their favourite general; but when that case happens, I am afraid that in place of the parliament's dismissing the army, the army will dismiss the parliament, as they have done heretofore. Nor does the legality or illegality of that parliament, or of that army, alter the case; for, with respect to that army, and according to their way of thinking, the parliament dismissed
by them was a legal parliament; they were an army raised and maintained according to law, and at first they were raised, as they imagined, for the preservation of those liberties which they afterwards destroyed.
It has been urged, sir, that whoever is for the Protestant succession, must be for continuing the army; for that very reason, sir, I am against continuing the army. I know that neither the Protestant succession in his majesty's most illustrious house, nor any succession, can ever be safe, as long as there is a standing army in the country. Armies, sir, have no regard to hereditary succession. The first two Cæsars at Rome did pretty well, and found means to keep their armies in tolerable subjection, because the generals and officers were all their own creatures. But how did it fare with their successors? Was not every one of them named by the army, without any regard to hereditary right, or to any right? A cobbler, a gardener, or any man who happened to raise himself in the army, and could gain their affections, was made emperor of the world. Was not every succeeding emperor raised to the throne, or tumbled headlong into the dust, according to the mere whim or mad frenzy of the soldiers?
We are told this army is desired to be continued but for one year longer, or for a limited term of years. surd is this distinction! Is there any army in the world continued for any term of years? Does the most absolute monarch tell his army, that he is to continue them for any number of years, or any number of months? How long have we already continued our army from year to year? And if it thus continues, where will it differ from the standing armies of those countries which have already submitted their necks to the yoke? We are come to the rubicon; our army is now to be reduced, or it never will: from his majesty's own mouth we are assured of a profound tranquillity abroad; we know there is one at home. If this is not a proper time, if these circumstances do not afford us a safe opportunity for reducing at least a part of our regular forces, we never can expect to see any reduction; and this nation, already overburdened with debts and taxes, must be loaded with the heavy charge of perpetually supporting a numerous standing