Title: An oration on the extent and power of political delusion. Delivered in New-Haven, on the evening preceding the public commencement, September, 1800. / By Abraham Bishop.
Author: Bishop, Abraham, 1763-1844.
Collection: Evans Early American Imprint Collection
Court-casuists find it typisied in the pentateuch. War is decided on; armies are raised; the legions, who depend on war for support, are all in motion; the papers are full of news; public curiosity is on the stretch. The cabinet, which in time of peace was occupied only in the means of internal order, has now to consult the balances of foreign governments—to receive letters weighing five ounces in ships of 500 tons sailing in ballast—is thronged with ex∣presses; great scenes are opening; the naval armament, which but for this had been laid up in dry docks, and the army, which in time of peace was in no estimation, rise into importance; prize masters arrive with the ill-gotten wealth of honest adventurers. The country abounds with proof prints of admirals and generals and naval engage∣ments, forts stormed and all the dignified array of carnage and desolation.Here delusion opens batteries, which are never silen∣ced till liberty and public happiness are gone forever; for a war system is fatal to them both.When courtiers tell you that such a system can alone preserve peace, fly or sight the delusion. Mark you that the man who learns the art of fencing in his youth is sel∣dom contented with having received his lessons, you will hear of him in a duel. An army or a navy well officered and manned is always restless in a stae of peace; war must and will be had at some rate. After a few years of war and a few bullet-holes through admirals' hats and some flesh-wounds and broken limbs, the bill for services be∣comes greater than can be paid with money; honors, stars and ribbons or pensions must go towards an instalment. A nation which makes greatness its polestar can never be free; beneath national greatness sink individual greatness, honor, wealth and freedom. But though history, experi∣ence and reasoning confirm these ideas; yet all-powerful delusion has been able to make the people of every na∣tion lend a helping hand in putting on their own setters and rivetting their own chains, and in this service delu∣sion always employs men too great to speak the truth, and yet too powerful to be doubted. Their statements are be∣lieved —their projects adopted—their ends answered and the deluded subjects of all this artifice are left to passive