Dateline: Virginia, 20 February 1745: The Executive of the Virginia Colony delivers a speech to support George II over the so-called Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charles. The title of this post is taken from words in the speech.
He also delivers standard rhetoric against Catholicism, praises William and Mary College, and promises supplies to English ships that were blown off course into their ports.
Bonnie Prince Charles was born in Rome and brought up speaking French. He landed on the west coast of Scotland on 25 July 1745 and summoned the Highland clans to rally to his support, to restore the Stuart line. He progressed to Derby, one hundred miles from London, by 6 December, but Stuart supporters failed to materialize. He beat a retreat, but couldn’t resist a battle with an experienced English army. At Culloden near Inverness, on 16 April 1746, the Highlanders were cut to pieces. Charles escaped on a French frigate.
Here’s the Executive’s speech expressing his concern that Charles and the French and Spaniards may launch a war to support the Stuart.
Modern transcription begins:
Gentlemen of the Council, Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses:
I should not have shortened my last prorogation to call you together so suddenly and at this season is not an incident of the most affecting concern to us, had not demanded our immediate regard and left me without excuse for my silence:
By all accounts we have lately had from our Mother Country, the sons of violence have again taken up rebellious arms against our Sovereign, incited by the preference of an intriguing dependent on foreign courts and animated by the promise of a assistance from our most inveterate enemies, the French and Spaniards, intending with those tools of tyranny and oppression to subvert our excellent Constitution in Church and State and force us to exchange the blessings of liberty for the most abject slaver under the arbitrary will of a popish pretender, brought up and his sons after him to idolize the glaring ceremonies of the Romish communion and pay a blind obedience to the Briefs and Mandates of a supposed infallible judge: That spiritual deceiver by whose perfidious casuistry, making religion subservient to every vicious inclinations: Pardons and granted for past sins, indulgences for future ones, and for fees proportioned to such mighty favours, departed souls are released from a troublesome state of expiation and others qualified for the Society of Saints in Heaven.
These are some of the grand Articles of that profane and ostentatious system of iniquity to which by the Rebellion they mean to compel us to submit. These are the fables, cunningly contrived, to ensnare the ignorant and captivate the more circumspect, though in the gospel we have received, it manifestly appears, that our High Priest Jesus, the Son of God, left no such derivative authority to any of his Apostles; that purgatory is an imaginary place and that no man upon earth has an absolute power to forgive sins.
But, Gentlemen, as I am convinced of your aversion to this destructive scheme and that I can’t excite in you a more lively abhorrence of the detestable enterprise and that what the first news of it inspired, rather than waste time with what you all know, the absurdity of the Pretender’s claim, or the horrid cruelties exercised upon us under the notion of heretics by that spirit of persecution which forever attends this corruption of faith and morality, I choose to lead you to consider how we ought to demean ourselves in a conjuncture that calls for instances of duty and gratitude.
And I must submit it to you, whether in our distant situation and adequately to our zeal, we can sufficiently express our indignant resentment against the dreadful attempt and give such ample proof of our sincere and ardent attachment to the present establishment, unless with an occasional address to the King, we after the example of our fellow-subjects enter into an association, obliging ourselves with our lives and fortunes to maintain, defend, and support the person, family and government of his Most gracious Majesty King GEORGE, our only rightful and lawful Sovereign and the just guardian of our sacred and civil rights.
Such a covenant, when our religion and liberties are in such imminent danger, our bounden to our King and Country will suggest to us, as the best testimony words can convey of our honourable fidelity to the engagements [commitments] we are already under.
These are the principles and these only that can protect us, with Divine assistance, we are next week to implore, from the miseries and calamities of intestine war, from rebellion, false doctrine, heresy and schism, and secure to us, if we are not wanting [lacking] to ourselves peace of mind whilst we live and that peace at last, which the Roman prelate can neither, by his interdicts deprive of us, nor by his mistaken devotion procure for us.
And now, Gentlemen of the Council and House of Burgesses, that you will endeavour, during this session, to advance the honour and welfare of your Country, suitable to the present exigencies and unanimously comply with what I have with great fervency proposed, I am abundantly convinced by the reputation you have justly acquired of loyal subjects, staunch Protestants, and true patriots.
In order there to perpetuate this amiable and favourable character, Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, I must beg your indulgence one moment longer. The College of William and Mary, that seminary of learning and ornament to Virginia, though founded and endowed with royal contributions, you are all sensible, could not have flourished to the advantage of erudition it has arrived without your bounty and additional munificence, as the Act conveying that largess is now near expiring, I am induced by a pious regard for the advancement of pure religion and the study of useful knowledge to recommend to you its renewal, to which I shall with uncommon pleasure give my assent and promise to procure his Majesty’s confirmation.
If I tell you that there is not any part of the world a College where good order, decency, and discipline are better maintained, where God Almighty is more constantly and devoutly worshiped and where greater care is taken to train up young students in the rudiments of religion, loyalty, science, and good manners and carrying then on towards perfection than this. I am sure I should speak without artifice or flattery, and I dare say within the bounds of truth.
This, which I have observed with great satisfaction, no doubt you hear with delight and approbation; for with what comfort may you from hence extend your views through future centuries and anticipate the happiness provided for posterity, by reflecting that not only your sons, but their descendants to latest Ages will there be guided in the paths of virtue and found literature and fitted, as they may by genius be disposed for the service of the King, Country, and their GOD.
Upon these considerations, I am persuaded you will not only think such diligent and discreet instructors of your, worthy the continuance of the annual income arising from the whole penny, which has hitherto been their chief support, but kindly take them under your constant patronage and protection.
Gentlemen, I have one request more to make of you, with which I shall conclude: Several transports with two regiments bound to Cape Breton to preserve the valuable conquest of Louisbourg, after a tedious voyage from Gibraltar by bad weather and contrary winds have been forced with the convoys into this colony. The Commodore and the commanding officers of the regiments, pursuant to an order I have seen, that in case they could not reach that Island and were obliged to take shelter in any of these provinces, they should apply to the Governor, for whatever assistance they might stand in need of; on their arrival made application to me and among other necessaries, such as landing their men and allowance of wood and candles, desired some fresh provision for them, many being very sick and infirm; for the disembarking their men for fire and candles, which I judged indispensable, without any hesitation I gave orders promising to report and recommend the whole to the consideration of your House, in whose power it is to relieve them. And I do it with greater earnestness, because I am certain at this critical juncture and on such an occasion, a generous supply will be accepted by his Majesty as a token in ratification of your duty and of your regard to that important service for which these brave men are appointed.
This is how the House and Council responded immediately after the speech was delivered on the Table:
Modern transcription begins:
Resolved, that an humble address be presented to the Governor to return him the thanks of this House for his affectionate speech; to acknowledge his great care and unwearied attention, in discharge of the important trust reposed in him by his Majesty in the government in this Colony; to assure his Honour we will do everything in our power to promote the Honour and Interest of our country; and exert the utmost of our endeavours to maintain the succession of the Crown in the present Royal family.
After two committee meetings to study the speech and how best to respond to the request for wood and candles, here’s the final resolution on Thursday 27 February 1745:
The House, according to order, resolved into a committee, to take into further consideration the Governor’s speech; and after some time spent therein, Mr. Speaker resumed the Chair; and Mr. Conway reported that the Committee had had under their further consideration the Governor’s speech and had made some further progress therein and had come to a resolution thereupon. But not having time to go through the same had directed him to move for leave [permission] to sit again. Then he read the said Resolution in his place and afterwards delivered the same in at the Table, where it was again read and agreed to by this House, as follows:
Resolved, that the sum of six hundred pounds be paid by the Treasurer out of the Public Money in his hands to Mr. Secretary Nelson, Mr. Digges, Mr. Sweney, Mr. Westwood, Mr. Crawford, Mr. Boush [Bush], and Mr. Hutchins by them applied towards providing firewood, candles, and fresh provision and quarters for the soldiers bound to Cape-Breton, but by bad weather and contrary winds forced into this Colony, in proportion to the number of men in each county and to be accounted for the next Assembly.
So the House decided to spend £600 to furnish the Royal Navy with supplies.
The Governor reminds the Council and House that Jesus is the High Priest, not the Pope. He appeals to their loyalty, Protestantism, and patriotism. These Protestants believed that submission to Rome meant submission to a foreign power and loss of liberty.
The Governor speaks well of William and Mary College, but his words can apply to the entire country, even today (except the King):
… may you from hence extend your views through future centuries and anticipate the happiness provided for posterity, by reflecting that not only your sons, but their descendants to latest Ages will there be guided in the paths of virtue and … as they may by genius be disposed for the service of the King, Country, and their GOD.
Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia 1742-1747, 1748-1749, edited by H. R. McIlwaine (Richmond, 1909).