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CHATHAM, PITT, FOX, SHERIDAN, ETC.
death-warrant with tears, and, but for the advice of the court martial, would have granted his last petition); and, more cruel than all this, Hale's letters, written the night before his death, to his betrothed, his mother, and other dear friends, and committed to his lordship for delivery after his execution, were broken open, read and burned, (noble conduct !), in order, as was said by the provost-marshal, “ that the rebels should not know that they had a man in their army who could die with so much firmness.” I have also read, that she who would have been his bride, went with her father at night through the British lines, and took his body from the gibbet, and carried it to their own house! Spartan woman! my only regret is, that thy country has not raised a monument to the memory of thyself and lover.
A lesson of wisdom may be learned at every grave; but a voice comes forth from the graves of some men buried here, which cannot but sink deep into the hearts of the living as they stand over the dust of the sleepers. The Earl of Chatham, William Pitt, and his great rival, Charles James Fox, Grattan, Canning, and Sheridan, all sleep close to each other : their strifes and heart-burnings, their lofty aspirings, their deep and subtle intrigues, all sleeping with them. In dying, these men woke from the gorgeous dreams of life for the first time.
While I was standing with one foot upon the grave of Fox, and the other upon that of Pitt, my friend came round from the north transept, and join
ed me. As we raised our eyes to the grand statue of the great minister, he said, " It is not strange that England should have honoured the genius of William Pitt; but it is strange that we can forget the prodigality of his administration. He may have made the name of England more glorious than it otherwise would have been, but in accomplishing this he laid a burden upon the English people, which, it is to be feared, nothing but a revolution can ever throw off. The English people will endure more oppression from their rulers than any people in the world. But this system of things cannot last always; and when the national feeling of England is once roused, as ere long it most certainly will be by the progress of the democratic principle, a host of abuses will be hurled to destruction in a single hour. A disabused and indignant people are not apt to listen to the terms their oppressors offer them : when they rise in their strength to demand justice, they will dictate their own terms.
“Any man who is familiar with the English character, and the history of the world, must be wilfully blind not to foresee that this crisis will sooner or later come in England, unless the aristocracy restore to the people their rights. And who that knows of what stuff the old English aristocracy is made, supposes for a moment that they will do this, until it is too late.
“The elder Pitt was the greater and better man. I always admired the wisdom and the boldness of
THE PILGRIM FATHERS.
those prophetic words of his to the English peers : * To conquer America is an impossibility. He was familiar with the history of the injured colonies ; he knew that justice and Heaven were on their side when the struggle began; and that love for homes they had reclaimed from the wilderness; love for liberty, their wives, and children, and for their
posterity in all coming time, would nerve the arm of Americans as British gold never could the hired legions of England. One of the most preposterous notions which ever found its way into the human brain, was that the descendants of the men who built their cabins on Plymouth Rock could ever be conquered.
“ It has always seemed to me that the embarcation of the Pilgrim Fathers must have been one of the finest spectacles ever presented. I have often thought that when the Mayflower weighed her anchor, she must have seemed like a life-boat bearing away a few noble hearts from a sinking wreck -another ark freighted with men saved to people a New World. I once read a stirring anecdote of that Mayflower. It appears that one man, who had intended to sail in her, manifested some indecision when they were about to haul in the plank: 'I don't know,' he said, 'as I had better go.' Well then,' exclaimed the brave commander, jump ashore; if you want to go you can go, and have our fare; if not, you can stay. At any rate, we want no faint-hearted men among this crew. The
man jumped ashore; the plank was the next instant hauled in, and in five minutes all her sails were set, and she was leaving Old England's shores behind.'
England has never been trod by a nobler company of men than the Pilgrim Fathers. They did not leave England because they were unwilling to struggle and die for their principles; but they saw the atmosphere of Europe was too cold and chilling for the growth of freedom, and they flung aside all but the hope that they might, in the fine language of Channing, transplant the tree of liberty to a new and more congenial clime. There never had been a crisis in the world's history to call forth such men; they had never been needed before. They were true heroes--not in the common use of that term, for such heroes had driven them from their homes; but Christian, brave men, who could not be intimi, dated by the threats of tyranny, nor conquered by sword and cannon. They had no confidence in the weak panoply of the soldier, although they could fight when it became necessary. They afforded a strong proof of the truth of that wise saying of an old historian, No man ever get failed who had faith in God, and a determination to be free.'
“The same despotism that oppressed the Puritans, urged their descendants into rebellion. There never was a greater outrage upon common sense, than the arrogant claim of England to tax the colonies, with no representation in the legislature which governed them. The Americans rejected that claim with scorn, and the conflict began.
« England could command the largest naval power on earth; and what had America as an offset? Only a few rusty firelocks, laid by from the old French and Indian wars; and, as old Starks said, a few kegs of powder, which they were obliged to set fire to a week or ten days before they wanted to shoot.' But then was raised the voice of Adams and Hancock,' To arms; for our chains are forged, and their clanking may be heard on the plains of Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill! What! subdue such men ? England might as well have undertaken to chain the comets.
“I always feel my blood thrill when I think of the American Revolution. Rotteck says, that in the Declaration of Independence, America planted herself between magnificence and ruin. It is a sublime idea. What a terrible thing it would have been if you had failed! Humanity would not have recovered from the disastrous blow in a hundred years. But to fail under such circumstances was impossible. The great Chatham foresaw all this; and England, who never takes advice from her friends until it is too late England, who commenced the war for the glory of her name and the wealth of her empire, might have saved herself millions of money, and tens of thousands of lives, and the eternal disgrace of being whipped out of the fairest portion of the habitable globe, had she only listened to the voice of that tongue, turned to dust in this grave.”
“I hope, my dear Manners," I replied, " for the