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sweeps from the north, will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course other's may take; but as for me,” cried he, with both his arms extended aloft, his brows knit, every feature marked with the resolute purpose of his soul, and his voice swellel to its boldest note of exclamation, 66give me liberty, or give me death !”
• He took his seat. No murmur of applause was heard. The effect was too deep. After the trance of a moment, several members started from their seats. The cry, “to arms," seemed to quiver on every lip, and gleam from every eye! Richard H. Lee arose and supported Mr. Henry, with his usual spirit and elegance. But his melody was lost amidst the agitations of that ocean, which the master spirit of the storm had lifted up on high. That supernatural voice still sounded in their ears, and shivered along their arteries. They heard in every pause the cry of liberty or death. They became impatient of speech; their souls were on fire for action.".
The resolutions were adopted, and Patrick Henry, Richard H. Lee, Robert C. Nicholas, Benjamin Harrison, Lemuel Riddick, George Washington, Adam Stevens, Andrew Lewis, Wm. Christman, Erlmund Pendleton, Thomas Jefferson, and Isaac Zane, Esquires, were appointed a committee to prepare the plan called for by the resolutions.
In April, 1775, after lord Dunmore had conveyed on board a ship, a part of the powder from the magazine of Williamsburg, Mr. Henry distin- : guished himself by assembling the independent companies of Hanover and King William counties, and directing them towards Williamsburg,
with the avowed design of obtaining payment for the powder, or of compelling its restitution. The object was effected, for the king's receiver general gave a bill for the value of the property. The governor immediately fortified his palace, and issued a proclamation, charging those who had procured the bill with rebellious practices. This only occasioned a number of county meetings, which applauded the conduct of Mr. Henry, and expressed a determination to protect him. In August, 1775, when a new choice of deputies to congress was made, he was not re-elected, for his services were now demanded more exclusively in his own state. After the departure of lord Dunmore, he was chosen the first governor in June, 1776, and he held this office several succeeding years, bending all his exertions to promote the freedom and independence of his country.
In June, 1777, and again in 1778, he was unanimously re-elected governor; but he declined the honour. In 1780, we find him again in the assembly, and one of the most actire members of the house. . In 1788, he was a member of the convention of the state of Virginia, which was appointed to consider the consitution of the United States; and he exerted all the force of his masterly eloquence, day after day, to prevent its adoption. He contended that changes were dangerous to liberty; that the old confederation had carried us through the war, and secured our independence, and needed only amendment; that the proposed was a consolidated government, in which the sovereignty of the states would be lost, and all pretensions to rights and privileges would be rendered insecure. He offered .. a resolution, containing a bill of rights and amendments, which, however, was not accepted.
“ The convention had been attended from its commencement by a vast concourse of citizens, of
all ages and conditions. The interest so universally felt in the question itself, and not less the transcendent talents which were engaged in its discussion, presented such attractions as could not be resisted. .."Towards the close of the session, an incident occurred of a character so extraordinary as to deserve particular notice. The question of adoption or rejection was now approaching. The decision was still uncertain, and every mind and every heart was filled with anxiety. Mr. Henry partook most deeply of this feeling; and while engaged, as it were, in his last effort, availed himself of the strong sensation which he knew to pervade the house, and made an appeal to it which, in point of sublimity, has never been surpassed in any age or country in the world. After describing in accents which spoke to the soul, and to which every other bosom deeply responded, the awful immensity of the question, to the present and future generations, and the throbbing apprehensions with which he looked to the issue, he passed from the house and from the earth, and looking, as he said, “ beyond that horizon which binds mortal eyes,” he pointed, with a countenance and action that made the blood run back upon the aching heart, to those celestial beings, who were hovering over the scene, and waiting with anxiety for a decision which involved the happiness or misery of morethan half the human race. To those beings; with the same thrilling look and action; he had just addressed an invocation, that made every nerve shudder with supernatural horror--when lo! a storm, at that instant arose, which shook the whole building, and the spirits whom he had called, seemed to have come at his bidding: Nor did his eloquence, or the storm immediately cease; but, availing himself of the incident, with a master's art, he seemed to mix in the fight of his æthereal auxiliaries, and
“rising on the wings of the tempest, to seize upon . the artillery of Heaven, and direct its fiercest thunders against the heads of his adversaries.” The scene became insupportable; and the house rose, without the formality of adjournment, the members rusbing from their seats with precipitation and confusion.”
The constitution was adopted by a small majority. Mr. Henry's bill of rights, and his amendments, were then accepted, and directed to be transmitted to the several states. Some of these amendments have been ingrafted into the federal constitution.
"The case of John Hook is worthy of insertion. Hook was a Scotchman, a man of wealth, and suspected of being unfriendly to the American cause. During the distresses of the American army, consequent on the joint invasion of Cornwallis and Phillips in 1781, a Mr Venable, an army commissary, had taken two of Hook's steers for the use of the troops. The act had not been strictly legal; and on the establishment of peace, Hook, under the advice of Mr Cowan, a gentleman of some distinction in the law, thought proper to bring an action of trespass against Mr Venable, in the district court of New London. Mr Henry appeared for the defendant, and is said to have disported himself in this cause to the infinite enjoyment of his hearers, the unfortunate Hook always excepted. After Mr. Henry became animated in the cause, he appeared to have complete controul over the passions of his audience: at one time he excited their indignation against Hook: vengeance was visible in every countenance: again, when he chose to relax and ridicule him, the whole audience was in a roar of laughter. He painted the distresses of the American army, exposed almost naked to the rigour of a winter's sky, and marking the frozen ground over which they march
ed, with the blood of their unshod feet; where was the man, he said, who has an American heart in his bosom, who would not have thrown open his fields, his barns, his cellars, the doors of his house, the portals of his breast, to have received with open arms, the meanest soldier in that little band of famished patriots? Where is the man? There he stands; but whether the heart of an American beats in his bosom, you gentlemen, are to judge. He then carried the jury, by the powers of his imagination, to the plains around York, the surrender of which had followed shortly after the act complained of: he depicted the surrender in the most glowing and noble colours of his eloquence. The audience saw before their eyes the huiniliation and dejection of the British, as they marched out of their trenches; they saw the triumph which lighted up every patriotic face, and the shouts of victory, and the cry of Washington and liberty, as it rung and echoed through the American ranks, and was reverberated from the hills and shores of the neighbouring river; but, hark, what notes of discord are these which disturb the general joy, and silence the acclamations of victory; they are the notes of John Hook, hoarsely bawling through the American camp, beef! beef! beef!
“The whole audience were convulsed: a particular incident will give a better idea of the effect, than any general description. The clerk of the court, unable to command himself, and unwilling to commit any breach of decorum in his place, rushed out of the court house, and threw himself, on the grass, in the most violent paroxysm of laughter, where he was rolling, when Hook, with very different feelings, came out for relief, into the yard also. The cause was decided almost by acclamation. The jury retired for form sake, and instantly returned with a verdict for the defendant. Nor did the effect of Mr. Henry's speech