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Bishop op Carlisle's Speech In Defence Of Richard n.


Would Heaven, that any in this noble presence
Were enough noble to be upright judge
Of noble Richard; then true nobleness would
Teach him forbearance from so foul a wrong.
What subject can give sentence on a king 1
And who sits here, that is not Richard's subject?
Thieves are not judged, but they are by to hear,
Although apparent guilt be seen in them;
And shall the figure of God's majesty,
His captain, steward, deputy elect,
Anointed, crowned and planted many years,
Be judged by subject and inferior breath,
And he himself not present? O forbid it, Heaven,
That in a Christian climate, souls refined
Should show so heinous, black, obscene a deed!
I speak to subjects, and a subject speaks,
Stirred up by Heaven thus boldly for his king,
My lord of Hereford here, whom you call king.
Is a foul traitor to proud Hereford's king:

And if you crown him, let me prophesy,

The blood of English shall manure the ground,
And future ages groan for this foul act:
Peace shall go sleep with Turks and Infidels,
And, in the seat of peace, tumultuous wars
Shall kin with kin, and kind with kind confound;
Disorder, horrour, fear and mutiny,
Shall here inhabit, and this land be called
The field of Golgotha and dead men's skulls.
O,L'you rear this house against this house,
It will the wofullest division prove
That ever fell upon this cursed earth.
Prevent, resist it; let it not be so,
Lest children's children cry against you—Wo!



Let me exhort you to a progressive state of virtue, from the pleasant consideration that it has no period. There are limits and boundaries set to all human affairs. There is an ultimate point in the progress, beyond which they never go, and from which they return in a contrary direction. The flower blossoms but to fade, and all terrestial glory shines to disappear. Human life has its decline as well as its maturity: from a certain period the external senses begin to decay, and the faculties of the mind to be impaired, till dust returns to dust.

Nations have their day. States and kingdoms are mortal, like their founders. When they have arrived at the zenith of their glory, from that moment they begin to decline: the bright day is succeeded by a long night of darkness, ignorance and barbarity. But in the progress of the soul to intellectual and moral perfection, there is no period set. Beyond these heavens the perfection and happiness of the just is carrying on, but shall never come to a close. God shall behold his creation forever beautifying in his eyes; forever drawing nearer to himself, yet still infinitely distant from the fountain of all goodness.

There is not in religion a more joyful and triumphant consideration than this perpetual progress, which the soul makes to the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at its ultimate period. Here truth has the advantage of fable. No fiction, however bold, presents to us a conception so elevating and astonishing, as this interminable line of heavenly excellence. To look upon the glorified spirit, as going on from strength to strength; adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge; making approaches to goodness which is infinite; forever adorning the heavens with new beauties, and brightening in the splendours of moral glory throughout all the ages of eternity, has something in it so transcendent and ineffable, as to satisfy the most unbounded ambition of an immortal spirit.

Christian! Does not thy heart glow at the thought, that there is a time marked out in the annals of Heaven, when thou shalt be what the angels are now; when thou shalt shine with that glory, in which principalities and powers now appear; and when, in the full communion of the Most High, thou shalt see him as he is?

The oak, whose top ascends unto the heavens, and which covers the mountain with its shade, was once an acorn, contemptible to the sight. The philosopher, whose views extend from one end »f nature to the other, was once a speechless infant hanging at the breast. The glorified spirits, who now stand nearest to the throne of God, were once like you. To you, as to them, the heavens are open: the way is marked out: the reward is prepared.


The early period of life is frequently a season of delusion. When youth scatters its blandishments, and the song of pleasure is heard, the inexperienced and the unwary listen to the sound, and surrender themselves to the enchantment. Not satisfied with those just and masculine joys, which nature offers and virtue consecrates, they rush into the excesses of unlawful pleasure: not satisfied with those fruits bordering the paths of virtue, which they may taste, and live, they put forth their hand to the forbidden tree. One criminal indulgence lays the foundation for another, till sinful pleasure becomes a pursuit, that employs all the faculties, and absorbs all the time of its votaries.

There is no moderation nor government in vice. Desires that are innocent may be indulged with innocence: pleasures that are pure may be pursued with purity, and the round of guiltless delights may be made without encroaching on the duties of life. But guilty pleasures become the masters and tyrants of the mind; when these lords acquire dominion, they bring all the thoughts into captivity, and rule with unlimited and despotic sway.

Look around you. Consider the fate of your equals in age, who have been swept-away, not by the hand of time, but by the scythe of intemperance, and involved in the shades of death. Contemplate that cloud which vests the invisible world, where their mansion is fixed forever. When the songs of the siren call you to the banquet of vice, stop in the midst of the career, pause on the brink, look down, and while yet one throb belongs to virtue, turn back from the verge of destruction. Think of the joyful morning that rises after a victory over sin—reflection thy friend, memory stored with pleasant images, thy thoughts like good angels announcing peace and presaging joy.

Or, if this will not suffice, turn to the shades of the picture, and behold the ruin, that false pleasure introduces into human nature. Behold a rational being arrested in his course; a character, that might have shone in public and in private life, cast into the shade of oblivion; a name, that might have been uttered with a tear, and left as an inheritance to a race to come, consigned to the roll of infamy. All that is great in human nature sacrificed at the shrine of sensual pleasure in this world, and the candidate for immortality in the next, plunged into the irremediable gulf of folly, dissipation and misery.


Is there a member of this house who can lay his hand on his heart and say, that, consistently with the plain words of our constitution, we have a right to repeal this law? I believe not. And, if we undertake to construe this constitution to our purposes, and say that the public opinion is to be our judge, there is an end to all constitutions. To what will not this dangerous doctrine lead? Should it to-day be the popular wish to destroy the first magistrate—you can destroy him. And should he, to-morrow, be able to conciliate to him the popular will, and lead them to wish for your destruction, it is easily effected. Adopt this principle, and the whim of the moment will not only be the law, but the constitution of our country.

The gentleman from Virginia has mentioned a great nation brought to the feet of one of her servants. But why is she in that situation? Is it not because popular opinion was called on to decide everything, until those who wore bayonets decided for all the rest? Our situation is peculiar. At present our national conduct can prevent a state from acting hostilely towards the general interest. But, let this compact be destroyed, and each state becomes instantaneously invested with absolute sovereignty. But what, I ask, will be the situation of these states (organized as they now are) if, by the dissolution of our national compact, they be left to themselves? What is the probable result? We shall either be the victims of foreign intrigue, and, split into factions, fall under the domination of a foreign power; or else, after the misery and torment of civil war, become the subjects of an usurping military despot. What but this compact—what but this specific part of it can save us from ruin? The judicial power, that fortress of the constitution, is now to be overturned.

Yes, with honest Ajax, I would not only throw a shield before it—I would build around it a wall of brass. But I am too weak to defend the rampart against the host of assailants. I must call to my assistance their good sense, their patriotism, and their virtue. Do not, gentlemen, suffer the rage of passion to drive reason from her seat. If this law be indeed bad, let us join to remedy the defects. Has it been passed in a manner which wounded your pride or roused your resentment? Have, I conjure you, the magnanimity to pardon that offence. I entreat, I implore you, to sacrifice these angry passions to the interests of our country. Pour out this pride of opinion on the altar of patriotism. Let it be an expiatory libation for the weal of America. Do not, for God's sake, do not suffer that pride to plunge us all into the abyss of ruin.

Indeed, indeed, it will be but of little, very little avail, whether one opinion or the other be right or wrong: it will heal no wounds; it will pay no debts; it will rebuild no ravaged towns. Do not rely on that popular will which has brought us frail beings into political existence. That opinion is but a changeable thing. It will soon change. This very measure will change it. You will be deceived. Do not, I beseech you, in reliance on a foundation so frail, commit the dignity, the harmony, the existence of our nation to the wild wind. Trust not your treasure to the waves. Throw not your compass and your charts into the ocean. Do not believe that its billows will waft you into port. Indeed, indeed, you will be deceived. Oh! cast not away this only anchor of our safety. I have seen its progress. I know the difficulties through which it was obtained. I stand in the presence of Almighty God and of the world. I declare to you, that if you lose this charter, never, no

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