Item of the Day: A Speech Intended to Have Been Spoken (1774)

Full Title: A Speech Intended to Have Been Spoken on the Bill for Altering the Charters of the Colony of Massachusett’s Bay. The Third Edition. London: Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand, MDCCLXXIV. [1774]


The Author of the following Speech might justify his manner of publishing it by very great authorities. Some of the noblest pieces of eloquence, the world is in possession of, were not spoken on the great occasions they were intended to serve, as seem to have been preserved merely from the high sense that was entertained of their merit.

The present performance appears in public from humbler but juster motives: from the great national importance of the subject; from a very warm desire and some faint hope of serving our country, by suggesting a few of the useful truths which great men are apt to overlook.

The Author has abstained most religiously from personal reflections. He has censured no man, and therefore hopes he has offended no man. He feels most sensibly the misfortunes differing from many of those whom he wishes to live and act with; and from some of as much virtue and ability as this kingdom affords. But the are also great authorities on the other side; and the greatest authority can never persuade him that it is better to extort by force, what he thinks may be gained more surely by gentle means.

He looks upon power as a coarse and mechanical instrument of government, and holds the use of it to be particularly dangerous to the relation that subsists between a mother-country and her colonies. In such a case he doubts whether any point ought to be pursued, which cannot be carried by persuasion, by the sense of a common interest, and the exercise of a moderate authority. He thinks it necessary to lay down the limits of sovereignty and obedience, and more unnecessary to fight for them. If we can but restore that mutual regard and confidence, which formerly governed our whole intercourse with our colonies, particular cases will easily provide for themselves. He acts the part of the truest patriot in this dangerous crisis, whether he lives at London or at Boston, who pursues sincerely the most lenient and conciliating measures; and wishes to restore the public peace by some better method than the slaughter of our fellow-citizens.



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Filed under 1770's, Colonial America, Government, History, Massachusetts, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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