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every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent it bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
Religion and Morality. Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?
And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabrick?
Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened,
and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt but, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it; can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature.
This great orator was born at Studley, Hanover County, Virginia ; and, while his early education in books was not extensive, he studied man and nature from life very deeply and thoroughly. He attempted farming and merchandising for some years, then read law and at the
age of twenty-four was admitted to the bar where his splendid powers had full scope. In 1765 he was elected to the State Legislature, or House of Burgesses, as it was then called.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Mr. Henry certainly gave the first impulse to the ball of the Revolution.” During the war, he served at first in the field, and later in the Legislature, and as governor, being elected three times. He retired from public life in 1791 and devoted himself to his law practice, by which he gained wealth.
His most famous speech was delivered before the Convention sitting in council in the old St. John's Church, Richmond, 1775, after the House of Burgesses had been dissolved by the royal governor. An extract from this speech, as given in Wirt's “Life of Henry,” follows. No
faithfully exact copy of his speeches is preserved, for he never wrote them out, and his eloquence was so overmastering that no one could listen and report at the same time. He takes his place among the great orators of the world.
Speeches, legal and political, (as they have been gathered from traditionary reports.)
See his Life by Wirt, Tyler, and W. W. Henry, his grandson.
REMARK ON SLAVERY, Slavery is detested. We feel its fatal effects. We deplore it with all the pity of humanity.
Not BOUND BY STATE LINES, (from the opening speech of the first Continental Congress,
1774.) I am not a Virginian. I am an American.
IF THIS BE TREASON, (Speech in House of Burgesses, 1765.) Cæsar had his Brutus-Charles the First, his Cromwell,and George the Third-(" Treason!” cried the Speaker), may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
THE FAMOUS REVOLUTION SPEECH, 1775.
(From Wirt's Life of Henry.) “Mr. President,” said he, “it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth—and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this,” he asked, “the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Were we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes see not, and having ears hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For his part, whatever anguish of spirit it might
cost, he was willing to know the whole truth ; to know the worst, and provide for it."
“He had,” he said, “but one lamp by which his feet were guided ; and that was the lamp of experience. He knew of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, he wished to know what there had been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen had 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. tlemen, 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, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she 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 anything 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 en
I ask gen