Page images
PDF
EPUB

appear to speak, (that of depreciating the conduct of the administration,) to prove the inconveniences and injustice of this bill, than barely to assert them, with whatever magnificence of language, or appearance of zeal, honesty, or compassion.

27.

REPLY TO THE ILL-TIMED REFLECTIONS OF MR. WALPOLE.

--Pitt.

Sir, -The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honorable gentleman has, with such spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny; but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies cease with their youth; and not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience.

Whether youth can be imputed to any man as a reproach, I will not, sir, assume the province of determining—but surely, age may become justly contemptible-if the opportunities which it brings have passed away without improvement, and vice appears to prevail when the passions have subsided. The wretch who, after having seen the consequences

of a thousand errors, continues still to blunder, and whose age has only added obstinacy to stupidity, is surely the object of either abhorrence or contempt; and deserves not that his grey hairs should secure him from insult. Much more, sir, is he to be abhorred—who, as he has advanced in age, has receded from virtue, and becomes more wicked with less temptation : who prostitutes himself for money which he cannot enjoy, and spends the remains of his life in the ruin of his country.

But youth, sir, is not my only crime. I have been accused of acting a theatrical part.

A theatrical part may either imply. some peculiarities of gesture, -or a dissimulation of my real sentiments, and the adoption of the opinions and language of another man.

In the first sense, the charge is too trifling to be confuted; and deserves only to be mentioned that it may be despised. I am at liberty, like every other man, to use my own language ; and though I may, perhaps, have some ambition,-yet to please this gentleman, I shall not lay myself under any restraint, nor very solicitously copy his diction, or his mien; however ma

; tured by age, or modeled by experience. If any man shall, by

me with theatrical behavior, imply that I utter any sentiments but my own, I shall treat him as a calumniator and A villain ; nor shall any protection shelter him from the treat

charging

ment he deserves. I shall, on such an occasion, without scruple trample upon all those forms with which wealth and dignity intrench themselves ; nor shall any thing but age restrain my resentment;-age, which always brings one privilege, that of being insolent and supercilious without punishment. But with regard, sir, to those whom I have offended, I am of opinion, that if I had acted a borrowed part I should have avoided their censure; the heat that offended them is the ardor of conviction, and that zeal for the service of my country, which neither hope nor fear shall influence me to suppress. I will not sit unconcerned while my liberty is invaded, nor look in silence upon public robbery. I will exert my endeavors, at whatever hazard, to repel the aggressor, and drag, the thief to justice,—whoever may protect them in their villany, and whoever may partake of their plunder.

28.

BENZVOLENCE OF THE SUPREME BEING.-Chalmers.

It is saying much for the benevolence of God, to say, that a single world, or a single system, is not enough for it-that it must have the spread of a mightier region, on which it may pour forth a tide of exuberancy throughout all its provincesthat, as far as our vision can carry us, it has strewed immensity with the floating receptacles of life, and has stretched over each of them the garniture of such a sky as mantles our own habitation—and that, even from distances which are far beyond the reach of human eye, the songs of gratitude and praise may now be arising to the one God, who sits surrounded by the regards of his one great and universal family.

Now, it is saying much for the benevolence of God, to say, that it sends forth these wide and distant emanations over the surface of a territory so ample—that the world we inhabit, lying imbedded as it does, amidst so much surrounding greatness, shrinks into a point that to the universal eye might appear to be almost imperceptible. But does it not add to the power and to the perfection of this universal eye, that at the very moment it is taking a comprehensive survey of the vast, it can fasten a steady and undistracted attention on each minute and separate portion of it; that at the very moment it is looking at all worlds, it can look most pointedly and most intelligently to each of them; that at the very moment it sweeps the field of immensity, it can settle all the earnestness of its regards upon every distinct hand-breadth of that field ; that at the very moment at which it embraces the totality of existence, it can send a most thorough and penetrating inspection into each of its details, and into every one of its endless diversities? You cannot fail to perceive how much this adds to the power of the all-seeing eye. Tell me, then, if it do not add as much perfection to the benevolence of God, that while it is expatiating over the vast field of created things, there is not one portion of the field overlooked by it; that while it scatters blessings over the whole of an infinite range, it causes them to descend in a shower of plenty on every separate habitation ; that while his arm is underneath and round about all worlds, he enters within the precincts of every one of them, and gives a care and a tenderness to each individual of their teeming population. Oh! does not the God, who is said to be love, shed over this attribute of his its finest illustration! when, while he sits in the highest heaven, and pours out his fulness on the whole subordinate domain of nature and of providence, he bows a pitying regard on the very humblest of his children, and sends his reviving spirit into every heart, and cheers by his presence every home, and provides for the wants of every family, and watches every sick bed, and listens to the complaints of every sufferer ; and while, by his wondrous mind, the weight of universal government is borne, oh! is it not more wondrous and more excellent still, that he feels for every sorrow, and has an ear open to every prayer!

29.

ADDRESS TO THE ARMY OF ITALY.—Bonaparte.

a

Soldiers,—You are precipitated like a torrent from the heights of the Appenines ; you have overthrown and dispersed all that dared to oppose your march. Piedmont, rescued from Austrian tyranny, is left to its natural sentiments of regard and friendship to the French. Milan is yours; and the republican standard is displayed throughout all Lombardy. The dukes of Parma and Modena are indebted for their political existence only to your generosity. The

army which so proudly menaced you, has had no other barrier than its dissolution to oppose to your invincible courage. 'The Po, the Tessen, the Adda, could not retard you a single day. The vaunted bulwarks of Italy were insufficient. You swept them with the same rapidity that you did the Appenines, Those successes have carried joy into the bosom of your country. Your representatives decreed a festival dedicated to your victories, and to be celebrated throughout all the communes of the republic. Now your fathers, your mothers, your wives, and your sisters, will rejoice in your success, and take pride in their relation to you.

Yes, soldiers, you have done much; but more still remains for you to do. Shall it be said of us, that we know how to conquer, but not to profit by our victories ? Shall posterity reproach us with having found a Capua in Lombardy? But already I see you fly to arms. You are fatigued with an inactive repose.—You lament the days that are lost to your glory! Well, then, let us proceed; we have other forced marches to make, other enemies to subdue ; more laurels to acquire, and more injuries to avenge.

Let those who have unsheathed the daggers of civil war in France ; who have basely assassinated our ministers; who have • burnt our ships at Toulon ; let them tremble ; the knell of vengeance has already tolled !

But to quiet the apprehensions of the people, we declare ourselves the friends of all, and particularly of those who are the descendants of Brutus, of Scipio, and those other great men whom we have taken for our models.

To re-establish the capital ; to replace the statues of those heroes who have rendered it immortal ; to rouse the Roman people entranced in so many ages of slavery ; this shall be the fruit of your victories. It will be an epoch for the admiration of posterity; you will enjoy the immortal glory of changing the aspect of affairs in the finest part of Europe. The free people of France, not regardless of moderation, shall accord to Europe a glorious peace; but it will indemnify itself for the sacrifices of every kind which it has been making for six years past. You will again be restored to your firesides and homes; and your fellow-citizens, pointing you out, shall say, "There goes one who belonged to the army of Italy !"

30.

THE SCRIPTURES AND THE SAVIOR.-Rousseau.

The majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with astonishment, and the sanctity of the gospel addresses itself to my heart. Look at the volumes of the philosophers, with all their pomp: how contemptible do they appear in comparison to this! Is it possible, that a book at once so simple and sublime, can be the work of man? Can he who is the subject of its history, be

himself a mere man? Was his the tone of an enthusiast, or of an ambitious sectary? What sweetness! What purity in his manners !, What an affecting gracefulness in his instructions! What sublimity in his maxims! What profound wisdom in his discourses! What presence of mind, what sagacity and propriety in his answers ! How great the command over his passions! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live, suffer, and die, without weakness and without ostentation ! When Plato described his imaginary good man, covered with all the disgrace of crime, yet worthy of all the rewards of virtue, he described exactly the character of Jesus Christ. The resemblance was so striking, it could not be mistaken, and all the fathers of the church perceived it. What prepossession, what blindness must it be to compare the son of Sophronius, to the son of Mary! What an immeasurable distance between them! Socrates, dying without pain, and without ignominy, easily supported his character to the last; and if his death, however easy, had not crowned his life, it might have been doubted whether Socrates, with all his wisdom, was any thing more than a mere sophist. He invented, it is said, the theory of moral science. Others, however, had before him put it in practice; and he had nothing to do but to tell what they had done, and to reduce their examples to precept. Aristides had been just, before Socrates defined what justice was; Leonidas had died for his country, before Socrates made it a duty to love one's country. Sparta had been temperate before Socrates eulogized sobriety : and before he celebrated the praises of virtue, Greece had abounded in virtuous men. But from whom of all his countrymen, could Jesus have derived that sublime and pure morality, of which he only has given us both the precepts and example? In the midst of the most licentious fanaticism, the voice of the sublimest wisdom was heard ; and the simplicity of the most heroic virtue crowned one of the humblest of all the multitude.

The death of Socrates, peaceably philosophising with his friends, is the most pleasant that could be desired! That of Jesus, expiring in torments, outraged, reviled, and execrated by a whole nation, is the most horrible that could be feared. Socrates, in receiving the cup of poison, blessed the weeping executioner who presented it; but Jesus in the midst of excruciating torture, prayed for his merciless tormentors. Yes! if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God. Shall we say that the evangelical history is a mere fiction—it does not bear the stamp of fiction, but the contrary. The history of Socrates,

« PreviousContinue »