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In a 1998 piece on Hale, Newsday writer George DeWan listed several versions of Hale’s Cato paraphrase:
“A 1777 newspaper article reported Hale as saying that ‘if he had ten thousand lives, he would lay them all down, if called to it, in defence of his injured, bleeding country,’” DeWan wrote. “Four years later another newspaper story quoted Hale’s last words as: ‘…my only regret is, that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.’ Hull’s 1848 memoirs give us the pithier version we know today: ‘I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.’”
No matter how he said it, Hale certainly recited some version of Cato’s famous lines, which was eloquent enough to have had an immediate and deep impact on the witnesses. And when, at 11 a.m. on Sept. 22, 1776, the British officer William Cunningham ordered, “Swing the rebel off!” Hale’s short life came to an end and his martyrdom began.
Only in death did Hale fully realize his wish to be useful to his country. Other spies — such as Haym Salomon, Abraham Woodhull, Robert Townsend, Hercules Mulligan, James Rivington, and a woman to this day known only by her code name, 355 — provided useful intelligence to the rebellion, which Hale never did. These successful spies avoided celebrity in the same way they avoided execution (355 died in captivity) — by drawing little attention to themselves. Had they each been given a stage from which to make a last statement for posterity, perhaps they would have achieved fame as well.
Yet it must be said that although many made better spies, few could have made of their final moments what Hale made of his. He had the education, valor, wit and patriotic fire to utter precisely the most compelling and heart-rending statement at precisely the right moment in history. His calm defiance gave eloquent expression to the sentimental aspirations of a young nation, which rightly counts him among its pantheon of heroes more than two and a quarter centuries later.p> Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. br> /p>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online