Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter II: Malcontents in Council >> Page 18

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription i8JOSCELYN
to be any other than a loyal and dutiful subject of the king of
Great Britain. But that is all for you to consider. I know where
I am, and how I set down my foot; and when I do so plant myself,
then everybody knows where I am to be found ! "
There was a good deal in this speech, and in the manner of
its utterance, calculated to gall the spirit of the young man, who
answered promptly, and with some asperity.
"My faith, sir, is my own, and I will suffer no man to question
it, whether by direct charge or by insinuation. I trust that when
the time comes for its trial, I shall not be found to shrink from
my duty. But I am not prepared to recognize as duty the things
that are prescribed to me, arbitrarily, by other men. Matters have
been thrust upon me to-day for which I have not been prepared,
and I must weigh well this matter of duty, on a subject so entirely
new and complicated, as closely, with the mind of the lawyer, as
with that of the man."
"You can't, sir ! you can't! Impossible! As regards the king,
sir his majesty your duty, sir, as a loyal subject demands�"
"The duty of a subject, sir, not that of a slave! If kings violate
law, they forfeit authority. The law is superior to any sovereign ! "
"And who shall pronounce upon them, upon the law, upon the
sovereign?"
"All men who are themselves just, and who suffer from a king's
misdoings. Have you forgotten your own history, sir, and that of
England? But, sir, pardon me if I say that neither yourself nor
your friends are fair judges between me and my people. You have
a king here, but I have a people also. You are all of that foreign
kingdom. I am a son of the soil �a native of the country kindred
with its people trained in a long course of exercise to share in
their sympathies to feel when they are hurt, and to relieve them
if I can; and, though I freely say to you that I see no good reason
for open resistance to the crown, yet justice bids me equally to
declare that the people of these colonies have serious and good
cause for complaint, which king and parliament have shown but
too little disposition to remedy."
"Heavens give me patience!�This boy! This miserable boy.
Why he is already speaking the language of that arch-traitor,
Drayton, and his aristocratic crew along the seaboard ! "