« ZurückWeiter »
could do no act for our defence, yet they might retire, relinquish their power for a season, quit the helm to freer hands during the present tempest, to hands, chosen by their own interest too, whose prudence and moderation, with regard to them, they might safely confide in; secure, from their own native strength, of resuming again their present station, whenever it shall please them : should we remind them, that the public money, raised from all, belongs to all; that since they have, for their own ease and to secure themselves in the quiet enjoyment of their religious principles (and may they long enjoy them) expended such large sums to oppose petitions, and engage favourable representations of their conduct, if they themselves could by no means be free to appropriate any part of the public money for our defence; yet it would be no more than justice, to spare us a reasonable sum for that purpose, which they might easily give to the king's use as heretofore, leaving all the appropriation to others, who would faithfully apply it as we desire : should we tell them, that though the treasury be at present empty, it may soon be filled by the outstanding public debis col. lected; or at least credit might be had for such a sum, on a single vote of the assembly: that though they themselves may be resigned and easy under this naked, defenceless state of the country, it is far otherwise with a very great part of the people; with us, who can have no confidence that God will protect those, that neglect the use of rational means for their security ; nor have any reason to hope, that our losses, if we should suffer any may be made up by collections in our favour at home. Should we conjure them by all the ties of neighbourhood, friendship, justice, and humanity, to consider these things; and what distraction, misery, and confusion, what desolation and distress, may possibly be the effect of their unseasonable predominancy and perseverance; yet all would be in vain : for they have already been, by great numbers of the people, petitioned in vain. Our late governor did for years solicit, request, and even threaten them in vain. The council have since twice remonstrated to them in vain. Their religious prepossessions are unchangeable, their obstinacy invincible. Is there then the least hope remaining, that from that quarter any thing should arise for our security ?
And is our prospect better, if we turn our eyes to the strength of the opposite party, those great and rich men, merchants aud others, who are ever railing at Quakers for doing what their principles seem to require, and what in charity we ought to believe they think their duty, but take no one step themselves for the public safety. They have so much wealth and influence, if they would use it, that they might easily, by their endeavours and example, raise a military spirit among us, make us fond, studious of, and expert in, martial discipline, and affect every thing that is necessary, under God, for our protection. But envy seems to have taken possession of their hearts, and to have eaten out and destroyed every generous, noble, public-spirited sentiment. Rage at the disappointment of their little schemes for power, gnaws their souls, and fills them with such cordial hatred to their opponents, that every proposal, by the execution of which those may receive benefit as well as themselves, is rejected with indignation. “What,” say they, “shall we lay out our money to protect the trade of Quakers ? Shall we fight to defend Quakers ? No; let the trade perish, and the city burn; let what will happen, we shall never lift a finger to prevent it. Yet the Quakers have conscience to plead for their resolution not to fight, which these gentlemen have not. Conscience with you, gentlemen, is on the other side of the question : conscience enjoins it as a duty on you (and indeed I think it such on every man) to defend your country, your friends, your aged parents, your wives, and helpless children: and yet you resolve not to perform this duty, but act contrary to your own consciences, because the Quakers act according to theirs. Till of late, I could scarce believe the story of him, who refused to pump in a sinking ship, because one on board, whom he hated, would be saved by it as well as himself. But such, it seems, is the unhappiness of human nature, that our passions, when violent, often are too hard for the united force of reason, duty, and religion.
Thus unfortunately are we circumstanced at this time, my dear countrymen and fellow-citizens; we, I mean, the middling people: the farmers, shopkeepers, and tradesmen of this city and country. Through the dissentions of our leaders, through mistaken principles of religion, joined with a love of worldly power, on the one hand; through pride, envy, and implacable resentment on the other ; our lives, our families, and little fortunes, dear to us as any great man's can be to him, are to remain continually exposed to destruction, from an enterprising, cruel, now well-informed, and by success encouraged, enemy. It seems as if heaven, justly
displeased at our growing wickedness, and determined to punish * this once-favoured land, had suffered our chiefs to engage in these foolish and mischievous conLentions, for little posts and paltry distinctions, that our hands might be bound up, our understandings darkened and misled, and every means of our security neglected. It seems as if our greatest men, our civis nobilissimit of both parties, had sworn the ruin of the country, and invited the French, our most inveterate enemy to destroy it. Where then shall we seek for succour and protection ? The government we are immediately under denies it to us; and if the enemy comes, we are far from Zidon, and there is no deliverer near. Our case is dangerously bad ; but perhaps there is yet a remedy, if we have but the prudence and the spirit to apply it.
If this new flourishing city, and greatly improving colony, is destroyed and ruined, it will not be for want of numbers of inhabitants able to bear arms in its defence. It is computed, that we have at least (exclusive of Quakers) sixty thousand fighting men, acquainted with fire arms, many of them hunters and marksmen, hardy and bold. All we want is order, discipline, and a few cannon. At present we are like the separate filaments of flax before the thread is formed, without strength, because without connection ; but UNION would make us strong, and even formidable. Though the great should neither help nor join us; though they should even oppose our uniting, from some mean views of their own, yet, if we resolve upon it, and it please God to inspire us with the necessary prudence and vigour, it may be effected. Great numbers of our people are of British race, and though the fierce fighting animals of those happy islands are said to abate their native fire and intrepidity, when removed to a for reign clime, yet with the people it is not so; our neighbours of New England afford the world a convincing proof, that Britons, though a hundred years trans, planted, and to the remotest part of the earth, may yet retain, even to the third and fourth descent, that zeal for the public good, that military prowess, and that undaunted spirit, which has in every age distinguished their nation. What numbers have we likewise of those brave people, whose fathers in the last age made so glorious a stand for our religion and liberties, when invaded by a powerful French army, joined by Irish Catholics, under a bigotted popish king! Let the memorable siege of Londonderry, and the signal actions of the Iniskillingers, by which the heart of that prince's schemes was broken, be perpetual testimonies of the courage and conduct of those noble warriors! Nor are there wanting amongst us, thousands of that warlike nation, whose sons have ever since the time of Cæsar main, tained the character he gave their fathers, of joining the most obstinate courage to all the other military virtues: I mean the brave and steady Germans. Num. bers of whom have actually borne arms in the service
* When God determined to punish his chosen people, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who, thoughi breakers of his other laws, were scrupulous observers of that one, which required keeping holy the Sabbath-day; he suffered even the strict observation of that command to be their ruin : for Pompey, observing that they then obstinately refused to fight, made a general assault on that day, took the town, and butchered them with as little mercy as he found resistance.
+ Conjuravere cives nobilissimi patriam incendere ; GALLORUM GENȚEM, infestissimam nomini Romano, ad bellum arcessunt.
CAT, IN SALUST.