« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
America,” imposing duties on glass, paper, painters' colors and tea; and by virtue of another act, the king was empowered to put the customs and other duties in America, and the execution of the laws relating to trade in the colonies, under the management of resident commissioners. The news of the passage of these bills revived the popular excitement which arose at the time of the Stamp Act, which had died away on its repeal. A town meeting was held in Boston, at which Mr. Otis appeared, "contrary to his usual practice, as the adviser of cautious and moderate proceedings,” for which moderation he was charged with being a friend to the act for appointing commissioners. To this charge he replied, “If the name and office of Commissioner General imports no more than that of a Surveyor General, no man of sense will contend about a name. The tax—the tax is undoubtedly, at present, the apparent matter of grievance.” At this meeting resolutions were passed to encourage the manufactures of the province, and to abstain from the purchase of articles on which duties were imposed, thus deceiving Bernard, the governor, by the quiet character of their proceedings, which were represented as "the last efforts of an expiring faction," but at the same time becoming more firm and decided.
To all the movements of the king and ministry to abridge the liberties of the colonists, Otis maintained a decided and fearless opposition. Bold and daring in the expression of his principles and opinions, he sometimes gave utterance to unguarded epithets, but never employed his gift of irony and sarcasm in a spirit of hatred towards the masses of mankind. Owing to a severe refutation of some strictures upon him, published in the public papers in 1769, he was attacked by one John Robinson, a commissioner of the customs, in a coffee-house in Boston, and in a general affray was cruelly wounded; from the effects of which he never recovered. His wounds did not prove mortal, but his reason was shattered, and his great usefulness to his country destroyed. He gained heavy damages for the assault; but in an interval of returning reason he forgave his destroyer and remitted the judgment. He lived until May 28, 1783. On that day, during a heavy thunder-storm, he, with a greater part of the family with whom he resided, had entered the house to wait until the shower should have passed. Otis, with his cane in one hand, stood against the part of a door which opened into the front entry, and was in the act of telling the assembled group a story, when an explosion took place, which seemed to shake the solid earth, and he fell without a struggle, or an utterance, instantaneously dead. He had often expressed a desire to die as he did. In one of his lucid intervals
, a few weeks previous to his death, he said to his sister: "I hope, when God Alinighty, in his righteous providence, shail take me out of time into eternity, that it will be by a flash of lightning.” He lived to see tho Independence of the Colonies, but never fully to enjoy it.
“When the glorious work which he begun,
THE WRITS OF ASSISTANCE. May it Please your Honors: I was de- | under a fee or not, (for in such a cause as this I sired by one of the Court to look into the despise a fee,) I will to my dying day oppose books, and consider the question now before with all the powers and faculties God has given them concerning Writs of Assistance. I have me, all such instruments of slavery on the one accordingly considered it, and now appear hand, and villany on the other, as this writ of not only in obedience to your order, but like- assistance is. wise in behalf of the inhabitants of this town, It appears to me the worst instrument of who have presented another petition, and out arbitrary power, the most destructive of English of regard to the liberties of the subject. And liberty and the fundamental principles of law, I take this opportunity to declare, that whether that ever was found in an English law book. Í
must therefore beg your honors' patience and I say I admit that special writs of assistance, to attention to the whole range of an argument, search special places, may be granted to certain that may perhaps appear uncommon in many persons on oath; but I deny that the writ now things, as well as to points of learning that are prayed for can be granted, for I beg leave to more remote and unusual: that the whole ten- make some observations on the writ itself, bedency of my design may the more easily be per- fore I proceed to other acts of Parliament. In ceived, the conclusions better descend, and the the first place, the writ is universal, being force of them be better felt. I shall not think directed “to all and singular justices, sheriffs, much of my pains in this cause, as I engaged in constables, and all other officers and subjects;' it from principle. I was solicited to argue this so that, in short, it is directed to every subject canse as Advocate General; and because I would in the king's dominions. Every one with this not, I have been charged with desertion from writ may be a tyrant; if this commission be my office.* To this charge I can give a very legal, a tyrant in a legal manner, also, may consufficient answer. I renounced that office, and trol, imprison, or murder any one within the I argue this cause from the same principle; and realm. In the next place, it is perpetual, there I argue it with the greater pleasure, as it is in is no retnrn. A man is accountable to no perfavor of British liberty, at a time when we hear son for his doings. Every man may reign the greatest monarch upon earth declaring from secure in his petty tyranny, and spread terror his throne that he glories in the name of Briton, and desolation around him, until the trump of and that the privileges of his people are dearer the archangel shall excite different emotions in to him than the most valuable prerogatives of his soul. In the third place, a person with this his crown; and as it is in opposition to a kind writ, in the daytime, may enter all houses, of power, the exercise of which informer shops, &c., at will, and command 'all to assist periods of history, cost one King of England him. Fourthly, by this writ, not only depahis head, and another his throne. I have taken ties, &c., but even their menial servants, are more pains in this cause than I ever will take allowed to lord it over us. What is this but to again, although my engaging in this and another have the curse of Canaan with a witness on us; popular cause has raised much resentment. But to be the servant of servants, the most despicaI think I can sincerely declare, that I cheerfully ble of God's creation ? Now one of the most submit myself to every odious name for con- essential branches of English liberty is the freescience' sake ; and from my soul I despise all dom of one's house. A man's house is his those, whose guilt, malice, or folly has made castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well them my foes. Let the consequences be what guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, they will, I am determined to proceed. The if it should be declared legal, would totally anonly principles of public conduct, that are wor- nihilate this privilege. Oustom-house officers thy of a gentleman or a man, are to sacrifice may enter our houses when they please; we estate, ease, health, and applause, and even are commanded to permit their entry. Their life, to the sacred calls of his country.
menial servants may enter, may break locks, These manly sentiments, in private life, bars, and every thing in their way: and whemake the good citizen; in public life, the ther they break through malice or revenge, no patriot and the hero. I do not say, that when man, no court can inquire. Bare suspicion brought to the test, I shall be invincible. I without oath is sufficient. This wanton exerpray God I may never be brought to the melcise of this power is not a chimerical suggestion ancholy trial, but if ever I should, it will be o: a heated brain. I will mention some facts. then known how far I can reduce to practice Mr. Pew had one of these writs, and when Mr. principles which I know to be founded in Ware succeeded him, he endorsed this writ over truth. In the mean time I will proceed to the to Mr. Ware : so that, these writs are negotiasubject of this writ.
ble from one officer to another; and so your Your honors will find in the old books con- honors have no opportunity of judging the cerning the office of a justice of the peace, pre- persons to whom this vast power is delegated. cedents of general warrants to search suspected Another instance is this: Mr. Justice Walley houses. But in more modern books, you will had called this same Mr. Ware before him, by a find only special warrants to search such and constable, to answer for a breach of the sabsuch houses, specially named, in which the bath-day acts, or that of profane swearing. As complainant has before sworn that he suspects soon as he had finished, Mr. Ware asked him his goods are concealed; and will find it ad- if he had done. He replied, Yes. Well then, judged, that special warrants only are legal. said Mr. Ware, I will show you a little of my In the same manner I rely on it, that the writ power. I command you to permit me to search prayed for in this petition, being general, is your house for uncustomed goods; and went illegal. It is a power that places the liberty on to search the house from the garret to the of every man in the hands of every petty officer. cellar; and then served the constable in the
same manner! But to show another absurdity * Otis had lately. been occupying the office of Advocate in this writ, if it should be established, I insist General of the Crown, and had resigned because "he be upon it every person, by the 14th Charles SeVered these writs to be illegal and tyrannical," and would cond, has this power as well as the customnot prostitute his office to the support of an oppressive act. I house oflicers. The words are, “it shall be
lawful for any person or persons authorized, I them together in little groups, and by degrees &c." What a 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, The summary of this speech can be best, and surrendered these in any other way than by
and his property. To suppose them to have 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. "À 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 å 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. He 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 tory, 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 deginia, 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 Cromment, 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 be 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 his 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 Itke 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 justly esteemed the greatest common lawyer * This extract is taken from a letter addressed by James this continent 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, bo. forty before he began the practice, if not before came Secretary of the Senate of the United States.
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 s 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 merchants 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 scratiny, 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 poor 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 snbsistence." 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