The Stamp Act was passed on the tenth of January, 1765, and repealed on the twenty-second of February, of the next year. The news of its repeal was hailed with joy. Bonfires illuminated the hills, and the voice of the people throughout the country united in one earnest display of exultation and loyalty. Many pieces, both in prose and metre, appeared at the time, celebrating the occasion. The following is declared, in the papers of the day, to have been spoken at "a mirthful celebration of the free inhabitants of Northampton, Virginia."
IN Greece and Rome renowned for art and arms,
Whose every bosom felt fair Freedom's charms,
Those manly breasts which generous ardor fired,
When public weal their swords or care required;
When peace abroad their conquering arms procured,
At home, when wisdom, Liberty secured:
Greatly unbending o'er the social bowl,
Indulged the transports of a genial soul.
So we, nor second to those sons of Fame,
In love of freedom, tho' of humbler name;
Or dauntless courage, bravely to oppose
Domestic tyranny, or foreign foes;
We, who far foremost here, a virtuous few,
Dare to our country and ourselves be true;
Who dare, in spite of ev'ry venial frown,
Assert our rights, and lawless power disown;
Spite of each parasite, each cringing slave,
Each cautious dastard, each oppressive knave;
Each gibing Ass, that reptile of an hour,
The supercilious pimp of abject slaves in power;
Spite of those empty boasters, who conceal
Their coward fear with circumspection's veil,
Are met, to celebrate in festive mirth
The day that gives our second freedom birth;
That tells us, Britain's Grenvilles never more
Shall dare usurp unjust, illegal power,
Or threat America's free sons with chains,
While the least spark of ancient fire remains;
While records bid the virtuous sons admire
The godlike acts of each intrepid sire.
Exult America ! each dauntless son
Will ever keep fair Liberty their own;
Will base submission, servile fear despise,
And Freedom's substance, not her shadow prize. Triumph America! thy patriot voice
Has made the greatest of mankind rejoice,
Immortal PITT ! - O ever glorious name!
Far, far unequalled in the rolls of fame!
What breast, for virtue is by all approved,
And freedom even by Asia's slaves beloved,
What breast but glows with gratitude to thee,
Boast of mankind, great prop of Liberty!
To thee, the best of parents and of friends,
America with grateful homage bends,
Her thanks, her love, unable to express,
To thee, great patron of her happiness.
Raised by thy hand, beneath thy guardian care,
Luxuriant blooms adorn her vernal year;
And, when rapacious harpies would devour
The infant fruit, and blast the tender flower,
Shielded by thee, she mocks the abortive wiles; Beneath thy shade, again her verdure smiles.
Would 'twere in pity to mankind decreed,
That still a PITT should to a PITT succeed:
When proud oppression would subvert the laws,
That still a CAMDEN should defend the cause.
Nor let's forget the gallant BARRE'S merit,
His TULLY'S periods and his CATO'S spirit;
His, too, an honest independent heart,
Where fear, nor fraud, nor avarice have part:
Or generous MEREDITH, our worthy friend,
The first our injured freedom to defend;
Who nobly, not by powerful wrath deterred,
Our just remonstrance and complaints preferred.
Proceed, great names! your mighty influence
Your country's arts, and policies refine:
Assist great CONWAY, and reform the state;
Bid peaceful commerce reassume her seat;
Bid BRITISH navies whiten ev'ry coast,
And BRITISH freedom ev'ry country boast.
Let us then, emulous of each great name
Conspicuous in the ancient page of fame,
Resolve, that freedom to our sons be sped,
Not worse than when our valiant fathers bled:
Emerging glorious from our late distress,
Let ev'ry bosom hail returning peace:
This day let nought but jocund mirth employ,
Relax each brow, and give a loose to joy.
And you, ye fair, on whom our hopes depend,
Our future fame and empire to extend;
Whose fruitful beds will dauntless myriads yield,
To fight for freedom in some future field;
Resign each fear.
To-day, let gladness beam in every face,
Soften each smile and brighten every grace;
While the glad roofs with lofty notes resound,
With grace harmonious move the mazy round.
Make our hearts feel the long-forgotten fire
Wake into flame each spark of soft desire.
Too long indignant tumults and alarms
Have made us heedless of your lovely charms
But, now, beneath the downy wings of peace,
With freedom blest, our care shall be to please;
Each day the genial pleasure to improve,
And add new sweetness to connubial love.