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EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH OF PATRICK HENRY IN THE LEGISLATURE OF VIRGINIA, IN FAVOUR OF PERMITTING THE BRITISH REFUGEES ΤΟ RETURN TO THE UNITED
THE personal feelings of a politician ought not to be perImitted to enter these walls. The question before us is a national one, and in deciding it, if we act wisely, nothing will be regarded but the interest of the nation. On the altar of my country's good, I, for one, am willing to sacrifice all personal resentments, all private wrongs; and I flatter myself that I am not the only man in this house, who is capable of making such a sacrifice.
We have, Sir, an extensive country, without population. What can be a more obvious policy than that this country ought to be peopled? People form the strength and constitute the wealth of a nation. I want to see our vast forests filled up, by some process a little more speedy than the ordinary course of nature. I wish to see these states rapidly ascending to that rank which their natural advantages authorize them to hold among the nations of the earth.
Cast your eyes, Sir, over this extensive country. Observe the salubrity of your climate; the variety and fertility of your soil; and see that soil intersected, in every quarter, by bold navigable streams, flowing to the East and to the West, as if the finger of Heaven were marking out the course of your settlements, inviting you to enterprise, and pointing the way to wealth.
Sir, you are destined, at some period or other, to become a great agricultural and commercial people: the only ques
tion is, whether you choose to reach this point by slow gradations, and at some distant period-lingering on through a long and sickly minority-subjected meanwhile to the machinations, insults and oppressions of enemies foreign and domestic, without sufficient strength to resist and chastise them; or whether you choose rather to rush at once, as it were, to the full enjoyment of those high destinies, and be able to cope, single-handed, with the proudest oppressor of the world.
If you prefer the latter course, as I trust you do,-encourage emigration-encourage the husbandmen, the mechanics, the merchants of the old world to come and settle in the land of promise.—Make it the home of the skilful, the industrious, the fortunate and the happy, as well as the asylum of the distressed. Fill up the measure of your population as speedily as you can, by the means which Heaven hath placed in your power; and I venture to prophecy there are those now living, who will see this favoured land amongst the most powerful on earth-able, Sir, to take care of herself, without resorting to that policy which is always so dangerous, though sometimes unavoidable, of calling in foreign aid. Yes, Sir, they will see her great in arts and in arms— -her golden harvests waving over fields of immeasurable extent— her commerce penetrating the most distant seas, and her cannon silencing the vain boast of those, who now proudly affect to rule the waves.
CONCLUSION OF THE SAME SPEECH.
INSTEAD of refusing permission to the refugees to return, it is your true policy to encourage emigration to this country, by every means in your power. Sir, you must have men. You cannot get along without them. Those heavy forests of timber, under which your lands are groaning, must be cleared away. Those vast riches which cover the face of your soil, as well as those which lie hid in its bosom, are to be developed and gathered only by the skill and enterprise of men. Your timber, Sir, must be worked up into ships, to transport the productions of the soil, and find the best markets for them abroad. Your great want, Sir, is the want of men; and these you must have, and will have speedily, if you are wise.
Do you ask, Sir, how you are to get them? Open your doors, Sir, and they will come in. The population of the old world is full to overflowing. That population is ground, too, by the oppressions of the governments under which they live. Sir, they are already standing on tiptoe upon their native shores, and looking to your coasts with a wishful and longing eye. They see here, a land blessed with natural and political advantages, which are not equalled by those of any other country upon earth-a land on which a gracious Providence hath emptied the horn of abundance— a land over which Peace hath now stretched forth her white wings, and where Content and Plenty lie down at every door!
Sir, they see something still more attractive than all this. They see a land in which Liberty hath taken up her abode― that Liberty whom they had considered as a fabled goddess, existing only in the fancies of the poets. They see her here, a real divinity-her altars rising on every hand, throughout these happy states-her glories chanted by three millions of tongues-and the whole region smiling under her blessed influence.
Sir, let but this our celestial goddess, Liberty, stretch forth her fair hand towards the people of the old world— tell them to come, and bid them welcome-and you will see them pouring in from the North, from the South, from the East, and from the West. Your wilderness will be cleared and settled; your deserts will smile; your ranks will be filled; and you will soon be in a condition to defy the powers of any adversary.
But gentlemen object to any accession from Great Britain-and particularly to the return of the British refugees. Sir, I feel no objection to the return of those deluded people. They have, to be sure, mistaken their own interests most wonderfully, and most wofully have they suffered the punishment due to their offences. But the relations which we bear to them and to their native country are now changed. Their king hath acknowledged our independence. The quarrel is over. Peace hath returned, and found us a free people.
Let us have the magnanimity, Sir, to lay aside our antipathies and prejudices, and consider the subject in a political light. They are an enterprising monied people. They will be serviceable in taking off the surplus produce of our lands, and supplying us with necessaries during the infant state of our manufactures. Even if they be inimical to us,
As far as the difference of seasons would permit, they have merely parodied the summer campaign of Major Sturgeon; and, indeed, the whole proceedings, civil and military, seem formed on the model of those of the mayor and corporation of Garratt. Such marchings and countermarchings! from Nottingham to Bulnell-from Bulnell to 'Bareford-from Bareford to Mansfield! and when, at length, the detachments arrived at their destination, in all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war, they came just in time to witness the mischief which had been done, and ascertain the escape of the perpetrators;-to collect the spolia opima, in the fragments of broken frames, and return to their quarters amidst the derision of old women, and the hootings of children.
Now, though in a free country, it were to be wished that our military should never be too formidable, at least, to ourselves, I cannot see the policy of placing them in situations where they can only be made ridiculous. As the sword is the worst argument that can be used, so should it be the last; in this instance it has been the first, but, providentially, as yet only in the scabbard.
The present measure will indeed pluck it from the sheath: yet had proper meetings been held in the earlier stages of these riots; had the grievances of these men and their mas ters (for they also have had their grievances) been fairly weighed and justly examined, I do think that means might have been devised to restore these workmen to their avocations, and tranquillity to the country. At present the country suffers from the double infliction of an idle military, and a starving population.
SEVERITY TO THE SUFFERING POOR UNWISE AND UNJUST. Extract from the same Speech.
IN what state of apathy have we been plunged so long, that now, for the first time, the House has been officially apprised of these disturbances? All this has been transacting with one hundred and thirty miles of London, and yet we, 'good easy men! have deemed full sure our greatness was a ripening,' and have sat down to enjoy our foreign triumphs in the midst of domestic calamity. But all the cities you have taken, all the armies which have retreated before your lead