Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

lawful for any person or persons authorized, i them together in little groups, and by degrees &c." What å scene does this open! Every in larger congregations, for mutual assistance man prompted by revenge, ill-humor, or wan- and defence. And this must have happened tonness to inspect the inside of his neighbor's before any formal covenant, by express words or house, may get a writ of assistance. Others signs, was concluded. When general councils will ask it from self-defence; one arbitrary and deliberations commenced, the objects could exertion will provoke another, until society be be no other than the mutual defence and secuinvolved in tumult and in blood.

rity of every individual for his life, his liberty,

and his property. To suppose them to have The summary of this speech can be best, and surrendered these in any other way than by can now be only given in the words of John equal rules and general consent, was to suppose Adams, who divides it into five parts:

them idiots or madmen, whose acts were never

binding. To suppose them surprised by fraud, 1. “He began with an exordium, containing or compelled by force into any other compact, an apology for his resignation of the office of such fraud and such force could confer no obliAdvocate General in the Court of Admiralty; and gation. Every man had a right to trample it for his appearance in that cause in opposition under foot whenever he pleased. In short, he to the Crown, and in favor of the town of Bos- asserted these rights to be derived only from ton, and the merchants of Boston and Salem. nature, and the author of nature; that they

2. “A dissertation on the rights of man in a were inherent, inalienable, and indefeasible by state of nature. He asserted that every man, any laws, pacts, contracts, covenants, or stipumerely natural, was an independent sovereign, | lations, which man could devise. subject to no law but the law written on his 4. “These principles and these rights were heart, and revealed to him by his Maker, in the wrought into the English constitution, as funconstitution of his nature, and the inspiration damental laws. And under this head he went of his understanding and his conscience. His back to the old Saxon laws, and to Magna right to his life, his liberty, no created being Charta, and the fifty confirmations of it in Parcould rightfully contest. Nor was his right to liament, and the executions ordained against his property less incontestable. The club that the violators of it, and the national vengeance he had snapped from a tree, for a staff or for which had been taken on them from time to defence, was his own. His bow and arrow time, down to the Jameses and Charleses; and were his own; if by a pebble he had killed a to the position of rights and the bill of rights, partridge or a squirrel, it was his own. No and the revolution. He asserted, that the secreature, man or beast, had a right to take it curity of these rights to life, liberty and propfrom him. If he had taken an eel, or a smelt, erty, had been the object of all those struggles or a sculpion, it was his property. In short, he against arbitrary power, temporal and spiritual, sported upon this topic with so much wit and civil and political, military and ecclesiastical, in humor, and at the same time with so much in every age. He asserted, that our ancestors, as disputable truth and reason, that he was not British subjects, and we, their descendants, as less entertaining than instructive. IIe asserted British subjects were entitled to all those that these rights were inherent and inalienable. rights, by the British constitution, as well as That they never could be surrendered or alien- by the law of nature, and our provincial charated, but by idiots or madmen, and all the acts acter, as much as any inhabitant of London or of idiots and lunatics were void, and not obliga- | Bristol, or any part of England; and were not

ory, by all the laws of God and man. Nor to be cheated out of them by any phantom of were the poor negroes forgotten. Not a Qua- | 'virtual representation,' or any other fiction ker in Philadelphia, or Mr. Jefferson in Vir- of law or politics, or any monkish trick of derinia, ever asserted the rights of negroes in ceit and hypocrisy. stronger terms. Young as I was, and ignorant 5. “He then examined the acts of trade, one as I was, I shuddered at the doctrine he by one, and demonstrated, that if they were taught; and I have all my life shuddered, and considered as revenue laws, they destroyed all still shudder, at the consequences that may be our security of property, liberty, and life, every drawn from such premises. Shall we say, that right of nature, and the English constitution, the rights of masters and servants clash, and and the charter of the province. Here he can be decided only by force? I adore the idea considered the distinction between external of gradual abolitions! but who shall decide and internal taxes,' at that time a popular and how fast or how slowly these abolitions shall commonplace distinction. But he asserted be made?

that there was no such distinction in theory, 3. “From individual independence he pro- or upon any principle but "necessity.' The ceeded to association. If it was inconsistent necessity that the commerce of the empire with the dignity of human nature to say that should be under one direction, was obvious. men were gregarious animals, like wild geese, The Americans had been so sensible of this neit surely could offend no delicacy to say they cessity, that they had connived at the distincwere social animals by nature; that there were tion between external and internal taxes, and natural sympathies, and above all, the sweet had submitted to the acts of trade as regulaattraction of the sexes, which must soon draw / tions of commerce, but never as taxations, or revenue laws. Nor had the British govern- Charles II., a plagiarism from Oliver Crozu. ment, till now, ever dared to attempt to en- well. This act had lain dormant for fifteen force them as taxations or revenue laws. They / years. In 1675, after repeated letters and orhad lain dormant in that character for a cen- ders from the king, Governor Leverett very tury almost. The navigation act he allowed to candidly informs his majesty that the law had he binding upon us, because we had consented not been executed, because it was thought anto it by our own legislature. Here he gave a constitutional; Parliament not having authority history of the navigation act of the first of over us."

THE STUDY OF THE LAW.

I shall always lament that I did not take a , he began the study, of the law. Sir Peter year or two further for more general inquiries King, formerly Lord High Chancellor of Engin the arts and sciences before I sat down to land, kept a grocer's shop till he was turned of the laborious study of the laws of my country. thirty, then fell into an acquaintance with the Early and short clerkships and a premature immortal John Locke, who discovered a genius rushing into practice, without a competent in him, advised him to books and assisted in knowledge in the theory of law, have blasted bis education; after which he took to the study the hopes of (and ruined the expectations of the common law, and finally attained to the formed by the parents of) most of the students highest place to which his royal master could in the profession, who have fallen within my ob-advance a lawyer. I think I have been told servation for these ten or fifteen years past. the Lord Chief Justice Pemberton, or some one

I hold it to be of vast importance that a of the Chief Justices of England, was a bankrupt, young man should be able to make some eclat and in the Fleet prison for debt, before he even at his opening, which it is in vain to expect from dreamed of being a lawyer. I mention these one under twenty-five: missing of this is very instances, not as arguments to prove it would apt to discourage and dispirit him, and what is be most eligible to stay till thirty or forty, beof worse consequence, may prevent the appli-fore a man begins the study of a profession he cation of clients ever after. It has been ob- is to live by; but this inference I think very served before I was born, if a man don't obtain fairly follows, that those gentlemen availed a character in any profession soon after his first themselves much of the ripeness of their judgappearance, he hardly will ever obtain one. ments when they began this study, and made The bulk of mankind, I need not inform you, much swifter progress than a young man of who have conversed with, studied and found twenty with all the genius in the world could many of them out, are a gaping crew, and like do; or they would have been approaching sulittle children and all other gazing creatures, perannuation before they would be equipped won't look long upon one object which gives with a sufficient degree of learning once to them pleasure; much less will they seek for en give hope for the success they found, and then tertainment where they have been twice or such hope would vanish, unless they could get thrice disappointed. The late eminent Mr. a new lease of life and understanding.* John Reed, who, by some, has been perhaps jastly esteemed the greatest common lawyer * This extract is taken from a letter addressed by James this continert ever saw, was, you know, many Otis to his father, in reference to the legal education of his years a clergyman, and had attained the age of younger brother, Samuel Allyne Otis, who, in later life, boforty before he began tbe practice, if not before came Secretary of the Senate of the United States.

PATRICK HENRY.

This distinguished "orator of nature," was born at Studley, in the county of Hanover, and Colony of Virginia. His father emigrated to America, from Aberdeen, Scotland, in quest of fortune, sometime prior to 1730; and his mother, who belonged to the family of Winstons, was a native of the county in which he was born. On the maternal side, he seems to have belonged to an oratorical race. His uncle, William Winston, is said to have been highly gifted with that peculiar cast of eloquence for which Mr. Henry became afterwards so justly celebrated. An anecdote of this gentleman's rhetorical powers is recorded by the eloquent biographer of Mr. Henry. During the French and Indian war, soon after the defeat of the unfortunate Braddock, when the militia were marched to the frontiers of Virginia against the enemy, William Winston was the lieutenant of a company. The men, who were indifferently clothed, without tents, and exposed to the rigor and inclemency of the weather, discovered great aversion to the service, and were anxious and even clamorous to return to their families; when Winston, mounting a stump, addressed them with such keenness of invective, and declaimed with such force of eloquence, on liberty and patriotism, that when he concluded, the general cry was, “Let us march on ; lead us against the enemy!” and they were now willing and anxious to encounter all those difficulties and dangers which, but a few moments before, had almost produced a mutiny.

The youth of Mr. Henry gave no presage of his future greatness. He was idle and indolent; playing truant from his school, and spending the greater portion of his time in the sports of the field; often sitting whole days upon the margin of some stream, waiting for a bite, or even “one glorious nibble.” The lamentable effects of this idleness clung to him through life. After passing one year as merchant's clerk, young Henry, at the age of sixteen, was established in trade by his father, but “through laziness, the love of music, the charms of the chase, and a readiness to trust every one,” he soon became bankrupt. One advantage, however, he derived from this experiment; it was in the study of humar nature. All his customers underwent his scrutiny, not with reference to their integrity or solvency, but in relation to the structure of their minds and opinions. In this school, it is the opinion of his biographer, Mr. Henry was prepared for his future life. “For those continual efforts to render himself intelligible to his plain and unlettered hearers, on subjects entirely new to them, taught him that clear and simple style which forms the best vehicle of thought to a popular assembly; while his attempts to interest and affect them, in order that he might hear from them the echo of nature's voice, instructed him in those topics of persuasion by which men are most certainly to be moved, and in the kind of imagery and structure of language which were the best fitted to strike and agitate their hearts."

At the early age of eighteen, Mr. Henry was married to Miss Shelton, the daughter of a pool but honest farmer in the neighborhood of his birthplace. The young couple settled on a small farm, and “with the assistance of one or two slaves, Mr. Henry had to delve the earth for his subsistence.” His want of agricultural skill and natural aversion to all kinds of systematic labor, closed his career as a farmer in two years, when he again commenced and again failed in

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »