Week 11: Paine’s Common Sense
Charles Inglis, The Deceiver Unmasked
The Deceiver Unmasked
THE DECEIVER UNMASKED; OR, LOYALTY AND INTEREST UNITED: IN ANSWER TO A PAMPHLET ENTITLED COMMON SENSE. BY A LOYAL AMERICAN.
NEW-YORK: PRINTED BY SAMUEL LOUDON. M.DCC.LXXVI.
THE following pages contain an answer to one of the most artful, insidious and pernicious pamphlets I have ever met with. It is addressed to the passions of the populace, at a time when their passions are much inflamed. At such junctures, cool reason and judgment are too apt to sleep: The mind is easily imposed on, and the most violent measures will, therefore, be thought the most salutary. Positive assertions will pass for demonstration with many, rage for sincerity, and the most glaring absurdities and falshoods will be swallowed.
The author of COMMON SENSE, has availed himself of all those advantages. Under the mask of friendship to America, in the present calamitous situation of affairs, he gives vent to his own private resentment and ambition, and recommends a scheme which must infallibly prove ruinous. He proposes that we should renounce our allegiance to our sovereign, break off all connection with Great-Britain, and set up an independent empire of the republican kind. Sensible that such a proposal must, even at this time, be shocking to the ears of Americans; he insinuates that the [Page iv]novelty of his sentiments is the only obstacle to their success,—that, “perhaps they are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; that a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom.”
In this he imitates all other enthusiasts and visionary of paradoxes, who were conscious that the common feelings of mankind must revolt against their schemes: the author, however, tho’ he did not intend it here, pays a compliment to the Americans; for this amounts to a confession, that amidst all their grievances, they still retain their allegiance and loyalty.
With the same view, I presume, to make his pamphlet go down the better, he prefixes the title of Common Sense to it—by a figure in rhetoric, which is called a Catachresis, that is, in plain English, an abuse of words. Under this title, he counteracts the clearest dictates of reason, truth, and common sense. Thus have I seen a book written by a popish bigot, entitled, Mercy and Truth; or, Charity maintained; in which the author very devoutly and charitably damns all heretics.
I find no Common Sense in this pamphlet, but much uncommon phrenzy. It is an outrageous insult on the common sense of Americans; an insidious attempt to poison their minds, and seduce them from their loyalty and truest interest. The principles of government laid down in it, are not only false, but such as scarcely ever entered the head of a crazy politician. Even Hobbes would blush to own the author for a disciple. He unites the violence of a republican with all the folly of [Page v]a fanatic. If principles of truth and common sense, however, would not serve his scheme, he could not help that by any other method than by inventing such as would; and this he has done.
No person breathing, has a deeper sense of the present distresses of America, than I have—or would rejoice more to see them removed, and our liberties settled on a permanent, constitutional foundation. But this author’s proposal, instead of removing our grievances, would aggravate them a thousand fold. The remedy is infinitely worse than the disease. It would be like cutting off a leg, because a toe happened to ache.
It is probable that this pamphlet, like others, will soon sink in oblivion—that the destructive plan it holds out, will speedily be forgotten, and vanish, like the baseless fabric of a vision; yet while any honest man is in danger of being seduced by it—whilst there is even a possibility that the dreadful evils it is calculated to produce, should overtake us; I think it a duty which I owe to God, to my King and country, to counteract, in this manner, the poison it contains. Nor do I think it less a duty thus to vindicate our honourable Congress, and my injured countrymen in general, from the duplicity and criminal insincerity with which this pamphlet virtually charges them.
The reader however must not expect that I should submit to the drudgery of returning a distinct answer to every part of a pamphlet, in which the lines in many places are out numbered by the falshoods; and where the author’s malice and antipathy to monarchical government, misrepresent almost every thing relative to the subject I [Page vi]have done, notwithstanding what I conceive to be sufficient—I have developed his leading principles, and obviated such misrepresentations as are aptist to mislead the unwary. I have, moreover, shewn that his scheme is big with ruin to America—that it is contrary to the sentiments of the colonists, and that in a reconciliation with Great-Britain, on solid, constitutional principles, excluding all parliamentary taxation, the happiness and prosperity of this continent, are only to be sought or found.
I neither have, nor can possibly have any interests separate from those of America—any object in view but her welfare. My fate is involved in her’s. If she becomes a conquered country, or an independent republic, I can promise myself no advantage or emolument in either case; but must inevitably share with millions in the evils that will ensue. This I can declare, before the searcher of hearts, is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Can the author of Common Sense do the same? Can he truely and sincerely say, that he has no honour, power, or profit in view, should his darling republican scheme take place? If not, than he is an interested, prejudiced person, and very unfit to advise in this matter. We should be distrustful of his judgment, and on our guard against what he recommends.
The author calls himself an Englishman, but whether he is a native of Old England, or New England, is a thing I neither know nor care about. I am only to know him by the features he hath there exhibited of himself, which are those of an avowed, violent Republican, utterly averse and [Page vii]unfriendly to the English constitution. He hath not prefixed his name to his pamphlet; neither shall I prefix mine to this. But as I fear his abilities just as little as I love his republican cause, I hereby pledge myself, that in case he should reply, and publish his name; I also, should I think it necessary to rejoin, shall publish my name. I honour genius wherever I meet with it; but detest its prostitution to bad purposes. The few faint glimmerings of it that are thinly scattered throw this pamphlet, are but a poor compensation for its malevolent, pernicious design; and serve only to raise our indignation and abhorrence.
I hope the reader will distinguish where there is a real difference between this Republican’s cause, and that of America. If not, and if he is not willing to listen calmly to truth, I advise him to stop here and lay down this pamphlet. But if the case be otherwise, I have only to beseech him, whilst perusing this treatise, to remember that it was written to promote our reconciliation with a King and nation, whom, not long since, we sincerely loved and esteemed. The bitterest enmity I know is that which subsists between those who were once friends, but have fallen out. On such occasions, and whilst our resentment is high, the advice which tends to gratify that resentment, may be the most welcome. But when our passions subside, our former affections will also return; and we shall then look upon him to be much more our friend who would calm our resentment, than him who would inflame it. From our former connection with Great Britain, we have already derived numberless advantages and benefits; from a closer union with her, on proper principles, [Page viii]we may derive still greater benefits in future. Duty, gratitude, interest, nay, Providence, by its all-wise dispensations, loudly call on both countries to unite, and would join them together; and may infamy be the portion of that wretch who would put them asunder.
February 16, 1776.
ANSWER TO SECTION I.
Of the Origin and Design of Government in general; with concise Remarks on the English Constitution.
WRITERS on politics, like those on philosophy, are very apt to be warped by prejudice, and the systems they have previously adopted. They often draw general conclusions from particular premises, and form their judgment of human nature, not from a general view of mankind in their various situations; but from the conduct of a few individuals, and the particular state of things at the time they wrote. Whilst some of them pretend to delineate the true state of human nature, perhaps they only give us a disgusting picture of their own dark and gloomy minds. Moreover, those writers are charged with founding their principles, not on nature and fact, but on their own prejudices, on improbable suppositions and imaginary cases, which never had an existance. Hence that variety of visionary political fabricks that have been [Page 10]raised, contradictory to each other, and repugnant to common sense, and which will not bear the test of sober examination. Some of them indeed may do very well on paper, but can never be reduced to practice, unless a race of beings, very different from men, can be found for the purpose.
Whilst writers of this sort amuse themselves with Utopian systems, and go no further, they may be borne with, and pass without much censure. Their works may be read like other romances, or fictions. But if they presume to loose the bands of society, and overturn governments that have been formed by the wisdom of ages, to make way for their own crude systems, and thereby entail misery and ruin upon millions; it is then absolutely necessary to examine those systems, point out their destructive tendency, and unmask the deceivers that propose them.
The author of a pamphlet, falsly and absurdly entitled COMMON SENSE, is not only chargeable with a large portion of the above defects, in common with other political system-makers, but also with the further design of rending the British empire asunder. To realize his beloved scheme of independent republicanism, he would persuade the colonists to renounce their allegiance to our true and lawful liege sovereign King GEORGE III. plunge themselves into a tedious, bloody, and most expensive war with Great-Britain, and risque their lives, liberties and property on the dubious event of that war.
This is the principal object his pamphlet has in view; other things are only mentioned as conducive to that end. To prepare the reader for it— [Page 11]to take off that horror which every honest man and well-informed friend of America must naturally feel at a proposal so wicked and ruinous; he first treats of some other matters which he fashions to his purpose; he poisons the fountain that the stream may be avoided: With this design, he delivers his sentiments on government, the English constitution and monarchy. I shall now very briefly examine what he has offered on these subjects.
He tells us, that “some writers have confounded society with government;” and then supplies us with a distinction which is to set all right. He says, “Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness.” We may reasonably presume there are neither wants nor wickedness in Heaven. According to this doctrine then, there can be no society or government there; and yet we are assured of the contrary.
This distinction is not only inaccurate, but it […] also founded on false principles; and we might expect the reverse of both, when the errors of others are professedly corrected. Our wants do not produce society; nor are the first or principal cause of it. Did this gentleman ever know of any one that was born out of society? Are we not by an act of providence in our birth made members of society? A state of society is the natural state of man; and by the constitution of his mind and frame he is fitted for it. Not only his wants and weakness require it, but his inclinations, his noblest faculties impel him to it; and the more perfect those faculties are, the better is he fitted for society. As nature has thus made us members of society, without any choi […], [Page 12]or will of ours; so, whatever happiness or perfection we are capable of, can only be attained in society.
This writer’s account of the origin of government is equally exceptionable with that of the origin of society. I can no more assent to it than to Hobbes’s notion,—”that mankind are naturally in a state of war, and that government is founded in superior power or force.”
Since providence hath formed us for society, and placed us in it from the time of our first existance, I am of Hooker’s opinion,—”that society could not be without government, nor government without law,” tho’ mankind were ever so virtuous. For what is government, but the regulation of society by laws? It is well known to all who are conversant in history, that the different states, the different forms of government which have subsisted in the world, have had their origin from a variety of causes peculiar to each. Of these I speak not, but of government in general, herein following my republican guide.
As we cannot doubt but the benevolent author of our being, wills our happiness in the state where he hath placed us, he surely wills also the means which lead to that end—those means are order and government. Thus far I hold with the best republican writers on this subject, the divine right of government, whose end is the good of mankind; yet without appropriating that right to any particular form, exclusively of others. Were men as virtuous as angels, yet, if collected in large societies, there must be a variety of states and conditions among them; and wherever such societies are, government will be indispensibly necessary.
[Page 13]But not to enter deeply into this subject, which would be foreign to my design, I shall just observe, that man is a moral agent, and thereby fitted to be governed by laws:—He is born in society, whose ends cannot be obtained, but by subordination, order and the regulation of laws; and where these are, there is government. I conclude, therefore, that government is agreeable to the will of the Deity—that it has its origin in the nature and state of man—that in framing governments by mutual compact, men act according to the law of their nature, and dictates of reason, which thus point out the only effectual way to attain happiness and avoid evil. I draw my principles from nature and fact, without having recourse to system—the never failing refuge of weak minds, and of party writers.
Agreeably to the origin he assigns to government, our author seems to think the only business of government is to punish; for, he says, that as society is a “patron,” so government is “a punisher.” But to think thus, betrays an equal ignorance of the principles of government, and of matter of fact. Numberless blessings slow from government besides the security resulting from a restraint of vice by punishing the vicious. Were there no wickedness, there would probably be little occasion for penal laws; but are these the only laws enacted by government? The criminal law of any state makes but a small part of its general code. It is Livy, I think, who some where defines government to be, “The empire of laws, and not of men.” According to this definition, the laws of our author’s government, produced by wickedness, would exercise a most tyrannical [Page 14]sway—being designed only to punish, they would probably resemble the laws of Draco, which were said to be written in blood. Persons who entertain such notions of government, may be well calculated to form a sanguinary code of laws, and afterwards to execute them; for doubtless they would feel very well inclined to inflict every kind of punishment without scruples.
To evince the truth of his assertion, that “Government is produced by wickedness,” our author adds, “Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of Kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of Paradise.” This is mighty florid—what pity that it has no solidity! Just so, say I. Ploughing and sowing, like dress, are the badges of lost innocence: The farmer’s cottage, barn, stable, and hog-house are built upon the ruins of the bowers of Paradise. I cannot see that this pretty sentence proves any thing but the author’s enmity to kings and monarchical governments: For if he would hereby shew the inexpediency of either, the same argument will equally shew the inexpediency of ploughing and sowing, of the former’s cottage, barn, &c.
Having thus laid his foundation, the author proceeds to erect his superstructure; and I assure you, gentle reader, the one is perfectly suitable to the other. “In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government,” says he, “let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest; they will represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty,”—well! what [Page 15]would they first do or think of? Why,—”society will be their first thought!” This indeed might possibly happen, were we to suppose that these persons had dropped from the clouds, or sprung out of the earth, and could all speak the same language. On any other principle, the case here stated is utterly devoid of probability.
The author in this, follows the example of some other manufacturers of political systems, who fly to fiction, when matters of fact should be related: But as he has managed things, his fiction is contradictory and replete with absurdity, For he supposes that those persons, “settled in some sequestered part of the earth,” had emigrated—”that the first difficulties of emigration had bound them together;” and yet gravely tells us, “their first thought,” when settled, “would be society!” I opine this thought would strike them, and had been practised long before.
But further, Amidst “a thousand motives that would excite them thereto,” i. e. society, “one” among others, he says, would be that—”disease, nay even misfortune would be death; for altho’ neither might be mortal, yet either would disable any individual from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.” Here, “disease, nay even misfortune” would be “death;” yet neither be “mortal,” yet still either would “disable from living;” but this would only be “perishing” and not “dying!” I here give the author’s own words—I did not make these contradictions and blunders, but found them.
It would be a waste of time to trace this gentleman’s wonderful colony any further; which is[Page 16] so far from “representing the first peopling of any country,” that I sincerely believe it represents the first peopling of no one country since the days of Adam; at least my memory does not furnish me with one parallel instance at present; and some parts of his scheme are destitute even of the faintest probability. It is very likely however, that he had the first settlement of these British colonies in view, while thus helping us “to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government.” Many circumstances favour this supposition; but there is not the least resemblance between them. The first British emigrants to America, were in a state of Society before their emigration;—in England they jointly applied for grants of land here—they received grants, charters and instructions, which vested them with a legal title to those lands, and marked the outlines of those governments that were to be formed here. When those emigrants found themselves in America, they did not then first think of society; for they were in a state of society before, and the governments they erected here, were conformable to the plans they had previously received in England.
After finishing this goodly political edifice, the author is pleased to bestow some “remarks on the so much boasted constitution of England.” He assures us—”he draws his idea of the form of government from a principle in nature which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view, he offers his remarks.” But he instantly forgets this promise, and pays no regard [Page 17]to this maxim. Absolute monarchy is, past all doubt, the simplest form of government; yet this gentleman prefers democracy, which is infinitely more complex, and the most liable to disorders of any. The truth is, that this principle was ushered in, purely to contrast it with the complex nature of the English constitution, and thereby prejudice the reader against the latter. Let me add, that if, as he himself declares, “we are never in a proper condition of doing justice to others, while we continue under the influence of some leading partiality;” this partial, avowed republican is one of the unfittest persons breathing to offer remarks on the English constitution. He cannot hold the scales of justice with an even hand.
“That the constitution of England was noble,” says he, “for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected, is granted.” This is condescending—it would be more so, had he informed us what “dark and slavish times” he refers to. The constitution of England, as it now stands was fixed at the revolution, in 1688—an aera ever memorable in the fair annals of liberty. It was then that the limits of royal prerogative on the one hand, and the liberties and privileges of the subject, on the other; were ascertained with precision. But certainly that was neither a “dark nor slavish time.” It would not be worth while to contend with a man that could assert it. The lamp of science never shone brighter in any country than in Britain, nor did patriots of greater same ever adorn the cause of freedom▪ than those who stood forth to assert her liberties, at that distinguished period. If our author means [Page 18]any time before that, it is impertinent to the purpose, nor am I concerned about it. What is it to us, what the constitution of England was two or three hundred or a thousand years ago? That constitution, as fixed at the revolution, as it now stands, is what we are interested in.
“But that it is imperfect,” he continues, “subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise, is easily demonstrated.” If he will be pleased to inform me of any political constitution, of human contrivance, that was or is perfect, and not subject to convulsions, I shall be obliged to him, and readily give it the preference to that of England. But until he, or some other person does so, I shall continue in my present firm belief, that the constitution of England approaches the nearest to perfection—that it is productive of the greatest happiness and benefit to the subject, of any constitution on earth. Nor shall I hesitate to prefer it, in these respects, to any constitution that antiquity can boast of.
“But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together, without being able to discover in which part the fault lies.” These are matters that fall not within my line—I leave them to such profound, eagle-eyed politicians as our author. One thing is certain, that if any man is aggrieved, either in his person or property, he must soon know it; and in either case he has a speedy remedy by the constitution of England. The late legal decision in favour of Mr. Wilkes, (no favourite of the court or ministry)—respecting general warrants, evidently demonstrates [Page 19]the security enjoyed by a British subject, the equity and superior excellence of the English constitution. But what is the complexness of that constitution to us? The constitution of the colonies is very simple; each being administred by a governor, council and assembly. Let our liberties, property and trade be once secured on a firm constitutional bottom, and the complexness of the English constitution cannot in the least affect us.
Having hitherto skirmished only at a distance, our author prepares now for a nearer and more formidable attack on the English constitution; such as seems to threaten it with total demolition. “By examining its component parts, he finds them to be the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with some new republican materials. 1st, The remains of monarchical tyranny in the person of the King. 2d, The remains of aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers. 3d, The new republican materials, in the persons of the commons; the two former being hereditary, are independent of the people, and therefore in a constitutional sense contribute nothing towards the freedom of the state.”
Here are several hard words; and as some readers may not well understand them, I shall beg leave to explain them. The learned reader will the more readily excuse me, as this method may best elucidate the subject before us, and develope this vile medley of jargon and misrepresentation.
It is, I think, generally agreed to by all, that there is in every state, whatever its form of government may be, a supreme, absolute power. The distribution [Page 20]of this power, is what constitutes the different forms of government; and that form is best, which most effectually secures the greatest share of happiness to the whole. There are usually reckoned three forms of governments, called simple, in opposition to those which are compounded of all three, or only two of the three. The first is monarchy, when the supreme power of a state is lodged in one person. When this power is placed in the hands of a few, or small number of nobles, it is called an aristocracy, which is the second form of simple government. The third is where the sovereign power is lodged in the people at large, and this is called democracy.
Each of these forms is subject to abuse, and often has been abused. The abuse of monarchy is called tyranny—The abuse of aristocracy is called oligarchy—The abuse of democracy is called anarchy; though the word tyranny may be applied to the abuse of any of them. Our republican author applies it to the two former, even when not abused; and through his whole pamphlet he makes no distinction between the right use and abuse of a thing. If he happens to dislike it, as in the case of monarchy, however restrained and calculated for the benefit of the subject; it is reprobated by the gross—it is nothing but tyranny.
It may not be improper to observe here, that monarchical governments are best adapted to extensive dominions; popular governments to a small territory. It is also worthy of observation, that although there have been, and still are many absolute monarchies; yet no government was ever purely aristocratical or democratical—owing probably [Page 21]to the unavoidable evils incident to each—or to the impracticableness of forming either. This is candidly owned by Harrington, a noted republican writer. “Though for discourse,” says he, “politicians speak of pure aristocracy, and pure democracy, there is no such thing as either of these in nature or example.” Algernon Sidney, another republican writer, acknowledges the same.*
As each of these simple forms would be attended with numberless inconveniences, it has been the opinion of the wisest men in every age, that a proper combination of the three, constitutes the best government. It is the peculiar, distinguishing glory of the English constitution, that it is a happy mixture of these; so tempered and balanced, that each is kept within its proper bounds, and the good of the whole thereby promoted.
For what is the constitution—that word so often used—so little understood—so much perverted? It is, as I conceive, “that assemblage of laws, customs and institutions which form the general system; according to which the several powers of the state are distributed, and their respective rights are secured to the different members of the community.” By impartially examining the component parts of the English constitution, it will be found that the supreme power is distributed in the best manner to attain this important end, the security of their respective rights to all the members of the community. These parts are,—
I. The King; who has the executive power, and other prerogatives, which are all so ordered,[Page 22] so restrained within constitutional limits, as to prevent their being injurious. He can take no man’s money, or property of any kind, without a law passed by the other branches of the legislature for that purpose. He can take no man’s life, before the person has had a trial, and is condemned by his peers. He can deprive no man of his liberty, unless the person has violated the laws of the state. And this is what our candid republican calls the “base remains of monarchical tyranny.”
II. The Peers; who are one branch of the legislature, and in some cases have a share in the judicial power. They have other privileges also, but all circumscribed so as to prevent injury to others. As these are chiefly hereditary, and are vested with large property, they are equally independent of the crown and people, and deeply interested in the welfare of the state. Hence they form a strong barrier against any encroachment from either of the other branches, and give stability to the constitution. These are what our gentle republican calls “the base remains of aristocratical tyranny.”
III. The House of Commons; the members of which are chosen by the people; without whose consent, no money can be levied, nor law passed to bind the subject; and who are themselves, as well as others, bound by the laws that are enacted. These are what our author calls the “new republican materials.” But why new? The House of Commons was not first formed at the Revolution. Its origin is hid in the remote depths of antiquity. It may be traced with certainty [Page 23]for near six hundred years back;—some, especially republican writers, trace it much further; although it may have undergone several variations before the revolution. Calling it new, therefore, is just of a piece with many other of our author’s expressions.
The supreme power of the state is distributed among these three branches of the British legislature, in such a manner, that the constitution has almost all the advantages of each of the three simple forms of government, and scarcely any of their inconveniences. On preserving an equal poize in each of these branches, depends the good of the whole: No prudent man, therefore, no real friend of British liberty, will ever wish to see any of them pass the constitutional limits; or attempt to throw power into any of them which would destroy tho balance.
This is a plain, concise representation of the English constitution. It is sufficient to refute our Republican’s misrepresentation of it, just as relating truth, in other cases, is a sufficient refutation of falshood. But left he, or my reader, should think that I mean to skip over any thing that has the appearance of argument, I shall follow him a little further on this subject.
“To say, that the constitution of England is an union of three powers reciprocally checking each other is farcical,”—he tells us. This is a new and short method of confutation,—such indeed as nothing can withstand. How happy is it for mankind, that this acute reasoner has not thought proper to employ it in shewing the nullity of those reciprocal duties and obligations subsisting between husband and wife, parent and [Page 24]child, master and servant! They must all have infallibly vanished, and have been annihilated by a few farcical strokes of his pen! Yet so it happens, that the best and wisest men, the warmest advocates of liberty, have viewed this reciprocal check of the three branches of the legislature, not as farcical, unmeaning or contradictory; but as the most effectual method that human wisdom could devise to promote happiness and liberty.
Still, however, he insists,—that “to say the Commons are a check upon the King, presupposes two things. 1. That the King is not to be trusted without being looked after.” I think no man should be trusted with uncontrouled power during life.—No, not even a self-denying, humble Republican. “Or that a thirst of absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy.”—Not a jot more so than of republicanism. 2. That “the Commons by being appointed for that purpose, are either wiser or more worthy of confidence than the King.—But as the same constitution which gives the Commons a power to check the King, gives afterwards the King a power to check the Commons; it again supposes that the King is wiser than those, whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!”
There is, I confess, a palpable absurdity here; but it lies in our author’s suppositions concerning what the constitution supposes; not in the mutual check which the King and Commons have upon each other. Is it not highly absurd to suppose, that a man, because he has a constitutional check upon others, must therefore be wiser than those others? A common constable has, in many cases, [Page 25]a check upon his fellow-subjects; does it therefore follow that he must be wiser, or that the constitution supposes he is wiser than they?
The remaining part of this section is such miserable stuff, that it would only be flinging away time to expose it;—it is not worthy of confutation. It consists of declamation against the English constitution that would disgrace a school-boy. Some expressions, indeed, such as these, “That the English constitution is too incomprehensible to be within the compass of description:—that no power can be from God that needs checking;” with others of the same kind, seem to flow from insanity, and to be rather the effusions of a distempered brain, than the language of a person possessed of common, or any other, sense.
I shall conclude this head by referring my reader to the testimony of one of the best judges in subjects of this sort, and the greatest masters of jurisprudence, that any age has produced, in favour of the English constitution,—I mean the celebrated MONTESQUIEU. His testimony will out-weigh, with the judicious, the silly declamations of ten thousand such Politicasters as our republican author. The passage I allude to is in Book xi. Chap. 6. Of the Spirit of Laws,—though many others of the same kind are interspersed in that excellent work.
ANSWER TO SECTION II.
Of Monarchy and hereditary Succession.
COME we now to our author’s observations on “Monarchy and hereditary Succession.” The last of these I shall say little about, for the following reasons. I have humility enough to think, that those illustrious patriots who settled the succession of the crown of England in the House of Hanover, soon after the revolution, knew full as much of the matter as I do,—or as even our author knows. What they did in this respect, I believe was right, and therefore acquiesce in it. Few, I imagine, will dissent from my opinion on this head, notwithstanding this author’s objections. In the next place, the crudities here offered concerning hereditary succession, are not new, but borrowed from other writers.—Most of them may be found in a small treatise* written by one John Hall, a pensioner under Oliver Cromwell; and I have nothing to do with John Hall, but with the author of Common Sense. Hereditary monarchy is infinitely preferable to elective, and more conducive to the welfare of mankind. In Poland we see a specimen of the misery and wretchedness to which elective monarchy exposes a ration.
[Page 27]But it will be proper to bestow a few minutes in examining what is here alledged concerning monarchy in general; against which this republican marshals a formidable host of arguments. The reader will remember, that monarchy may be either absolute; or mixed and combined with the other simple forms of government. Our author makes no distinction between these; and altho’ all he says, and a thousand times more that might be said, were true with respect to the former; yet all this would not militate in the least against the mild and tempered monarchy of Great-Britain. Let us, however, attend his arguments.
“In the early ages of the world, according to scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion. Holland without a king hath enjoyed more peace for this last century, than any of the monarchical governments in Europe.” It were needless, at present, to determine how early kings began to reign; especially as we find by scripture chronology and scripture history, that there was murder, violence and war,—that “the earth was filled with violence”—long enough before we hear a syllable about kings,—I may say, before there were any. Referring those disorders, therefore, to that origin, is unfair and untrue. Melchezidec is one of the first kings we read of; he lived in the times of patriarchal simplicity, and his character is respectable, being nor only a king, but also “the priest of the most high God.” This account of kings is very different from our author’s.
[Page 28]The instance of Holland is injudiciously selected, to shew that states which have no kings, are therefore exempt from war. There has not been a general war in Europe for a century past, in which Holland was not deeply engaged; except the very last, and this was more owing to inability than any other cause. Every page almost of the history of the Seven United Provinces, is a refutation of our author’s assertion. His insinuation, that states which have not Kings, are exempt from, and not addicted to war, is equally groundless. Republics have been as much involved in wars as other states. The several republics of Greece, inlisted under the banners of Sparta, on one side, or those of Athens, on the other—both republics, waged a most bloody war for thirty years together. And what is remarkable, they were plunged into this war by Pericles, a very popular Athenian, and celebrated speaker; who, being impeached for embezzling the public money, and applying it to his own private use, took this terrible method to divert an enquiry. The war ended in the destruction of Athens. The single republic of Rome, made greater havock of the human species, shed more blood, disfused more wretchedness and misery thro’ the earth, and was guilty of more cruelty, oppression and tyranny, than perhaps any three monarchies that can be mentioned in the whole compass of ancient history. If a few small republics of modern date, have more respite from war than some monarchies; it is more owing, like their very existance, to their particular situations, the jealousy of neighbouring powers, and other similar circumstances, than to the nature of their government.
[Page 29]“Government by Kings,” this writer tells us, “was first introduced by Heathens.” And so, saw I, was Greek and Latin—so was smoaking tobacco; and yet I can read Homer and Virgil, or enjoy my pipe, with great composure of conscience. The first hint of bleeding, in cases of sickness, is said to have been taken from the crocodile—of administring clysters, from the ibis, an Egyptian bird. These seem to be of worse than heathen origin; yet mankind use them without scruple; and perhaps their discipline might not be amiss for our author, considering his state of mind. If a thing is good in itself, I conceive it to be a matter of very little moment, who it was that first introduced it. I am clearly of opinion also, that democracy, our author’s favourite scheme of government, was of heathenish origin, as well as monarchy: And since he is so averse to any thing heathenish, I would beg leave to remind him, that falshood, deceit, and speaking evil of dignities, are heathenish crimes, and expressly forbidden by scripture.
But the worst is yet to come; for “government by Kings, was the most prosperous invention the devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The heathens paid divine honours to their deceased Kings.” If he was the author of this invention, for the purpose here alledged, then I aver the devil was mistaken in his forecast; or else he soon retained all the Heathen republics in his service, to promote the same end. For it is a most notorious, undeniable fact, that the ancient republics—Rome, Carthage, Athens, &c. were as infamous for every species of the grossest and most abominable idolatry, as any monarchies [Page 30]whatever. Let the Floralia of Rome, and human sacrifices offered at Carthage, to mention no other instances, serve as proofs of this. The truth is, that idolatry had spread its gloomy reign almost universally over the Heathen world. The form of government in any state, neither promoted nor retarded it any more than the shape of their shields, or the form of their whiskers. The purest system of religion, that Heathen antiquity can boast of, prevailed in Persia, where monarchy was established; the remains of which religion, are said to be preserved to this day among the Gentoos of Indostan.
But “Heathens paid divine honours to their deceased kings.” The more fools they, no doubt; however, they did the same to their deceased heroes, and benefactors in general, whether kings or not, whether male or female. If this argument, therefore, is of any force against government by kings, it is of equal force against any improvement in agriculture; against cleaning stables, and killing snakes; for Heathens paid divine honours to deceased persons for all those exploits. It is scarcely possible to return a grave answer to such sophistry; especially, when the author may, perhaps, care as little for the bible, as he does for the alcoran or shastah, only as it may serve his purpose.
From Heathenism, our author flies next to scripture for arguments against monarchy. Were I a parson, I should be better qualified to deal with him in this way. However, as I am a sincere believer in divine revelation, I sometime read the scripture for instruction—nor am I ashamed to own it—Boyle, Locke, and Newton, did the [Page 31]same. I also have recourse sometimes to a few commentators, which the clergyman of the place where I live, hath recommended to me. Thus furnished, I shall venture to examine his scripture arguments. One consolation to me is, that he seems to be an equal adept in theology and jurisprudence.
“The will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and Samuel,” says our republican, “expressly disapproves of government by kings.” So it might on those particular occasions, and for some peculiar reasons; and yet our government by kings at this time, may be as acceptable to the Almighty, as any other government. “All anti-monarchical parts of scripture,” he continues, “have been smoothly glossed over in monarchical governments.” If so, our author has profited by the practice, and has greatly improved on it; for he has entirely slipt over, (without giving even a smooth gloss) all the monarchical parts of scripture, except one, which I shall immediately consider, after assuring the reader, that I never have met with the anti-monarchical parts of scripture. In the bible, I am sure they are not. The Jewish polity, in which the Almighty himself condescended to be king, (and thence called a Theocracy) is rather in favour of monarchy than against it; tho’ I am not clear, that any one species of regular government is more acceptable to the deity now than another; whatever preference may be due to one above another, in point of expediency and benefit.
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, is the scripture doctrine of courts,” says our author; and pray is it not scripture doctrine [Page 32]in other places, as well as courts? Is it not the doctrine of Him who is the Saviour of men? The words are part of an answer which our Saviour returned to an insidious question that was proposed to him by some emissaries from the Pharisees, viz. Whether it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, i. e. the Roman Emperor, or not? Judaea was at this time subject to the Romans. The G […]ulonites, or Zealots, a sect or party so called, affirmed that the Jews, being God’s people, should not acknowledge any other Lord, nor pay tribute to an heathen power—others affirmed the contrary—the determination was therefore put to Jesus, with design to ensnare him. His decision, which was for paying the tribute, was grounded on the then practice and established maxims of the Jews. They held, that wherever the money of any person, bearing his title and image, was current, the inhabitants thereby acknowledged that person for their sovereign. Since, therefore, the Jews owned this of Caesar, by admitting his money, which bore his title and image, our Saviour told them, they should also pay him tribute. For he ordered the tribute money to be brought, and the Jews owning that it bore Caesar’s image and superscription, or title,—”Render therefore, (says he) to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s,” i. e. Since you acknowledge his sovereignty over you by admitting his coin, render to him the tribute which, on your own principles, is thereby due.
If this text has been applied to support monarchical government any further than to shew, that we—ever is by custom, law or otherwise justly due to sovereigns, should be punctually paid, whether [Page 33]it be tribute, obedience, honour, &c.—if, I say, it has been applied to support monarchy any further than this, it must be by some person who understood it as little as our author; though not for the reason he assigns, and which in truth makes against himself.
But I hasten to the passages of scripture, in which our republican author triumphs most; which, he says, “are direct and positive, and admit of no equivocal construction. That the Almighty has in them entered his protest against monarchical government, is true, or else the scripture is false.” On the contrary, I aver, that the Almighty has not there entered his protest against monarchical government, further than the Jews had departed from a former permission he had given them to chuse kings, and that the scripture is not false. Let us now see how a little common sense, reason and truth will help to clear up the matter.
The passages alluded to by the author, are in 1 Sam. viii. where the Israelites assembled in a tumultuous manner, and desired Samuel to make them “a king, to judge them like all the nations;” which offended Samuel, and in some measure was displeasing to the Almighty. That simply desiring a king, could not be a crime, is undeniably evident; because the Almighty had long before expressly permitted it, had directed the mode of chusing a king, and prescribed the line of conduct the king should observe, when chosen. This is done in Deuteronomy xvii. 14—20; and I shall here lay a few of the passages before the reader.
‘When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt say, [Page 34]I will set a king over me like as all the nations that are round about me: thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall chuse: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee which is not thy brother.’
The Almighty then proceeds to give directions for the king’s conduct, thus chosen; all wisely suited to the Jewish state, both in a religious and political view. The king “was not to multiply horses;” to prevent any intercourse with Egypt, which supplied other nations with horses; and besides, cavalry was not suited to the hilly country of Judaea. The king was “not to multiply wives, that his heart turn not away;” as happened to Solomon when he disobeyed this precept: Nor “greatly multiply gold and silver to himself,” which would introduce luxury and dissolution of […].
The directions go on—‘And it shall be when he, i. e. the king, fitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write a copy of this law in a book, and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and these statutes to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment—to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom; he and his children in the midst of Israel.’
Now after this, I leave the reader to judge, whether government by kings could be displeasing to the Almighty; or whether desiring a king, [Page 35]according to this permission and these directions could be a crime in the Israelites. It is impossible that either can be true. The crime of these people, therefore, when they desired a king of Samuel, “to judge them like all the nations,” must be attributed to something else. And upon examination, we shall find, that their error lay in the manner of their asking a king—in the principles on which they acted—in a disregard of the venerable old prophet—but chiefly in a neglect of the directions above mentioned. This will appear evident from a bare recital of facts.
Samuel, by his faithful administration, had restored the purity of religion, and rescued the nation from the hostile attempts of their enemies. Debauched by prosperity, as too frequently happens, dazzled with the lustre of a splendid court, and desirous of its pomp, the people tumultuously assembled to desire a king, who would resemble the despotic kings which surrounded them. They covered their real design with the pretext of Samuel’s age and infirmities, and his sons irregularities, which was insulting the prophet’s misfortunes. This is evidently implied in their own words, and in the sequel.
‘Behold, (say they to Samuel) thou art old and thy sons walk not in thy ways; now […] us a king to judge us like […].’ Hereby Samuel, who had faith […] […] had been displaced; and such […] they desired, had destro […] […] were under. According […] Samuel, ‘They have […] have rejected me […] them.’ i. e. It […] [Page 36]that they have rejected. Although Samuel was ungratefully treated; yet they still more wickedly neglected the directions given by the Almighty. Pride and ambition, stimulated them to seek a king, not such as the Almighty had directed them to chuse; but such as the nations had; and such as would overturn the theocracy. This was virtually rejecting the Almighty from being their king.
Samuel, however, was directed to hearken to the people; but at the same time to lay also before them, the nature of that monarchy they desired, a monarchy like those around them. The eastern nations, it is well known, were under despotic monarchs, the manner or nature of which Samuel accordingly describes to the Israelites, to try whether they would persist in their choice after hearing it. Kings of this sort would ‘take their sons and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen—he would take their daughters to be confectioners, and to be cooks, and to be bakers, &c. &c.’
This whole passage is a description of the eastern despotic monarchs, which Samuel held up to the Israelites, with design to deter them from chusing such; and this is the passage which our author sets down, enriched with his own most […] comments, to shew that God “enter […] against monarchical government in […], in truth, it is only an ac […] despotic monarchies of the […] directed to lay before […] might see how inconsist […] with their peculiar state […] again with design to […]
[Page 37]Ambition and pride, however, got the better of duty and interest with the people—a case that happens but too frequently. They still insisted on having the king they had set their hearts on—‘That we also, say they, may be like other nations.’ Hereby shewng the greatest blindness to their own happiness, which consisted in being unlike the other nations, by having God himself for their king; and such a judge or king as would be his DEPUTY, not an absolute prince. The Almighty at last condescended to their infirmities, and gave them a king; but as in the case of the ritual law, he tempered his justice with his mercy. He gave them Saul, who proved a scourge; yet he ordered matters so that the general end of his dispensation to the Jews was not defeated. Saul’s successor, was “a man after his own heart,” by a zealous attachment to, and punctual execution of, the Mosaic law; and David again, in our author’s phrase, “to the evil of monarchy, added that of hereditary succession;” which it seems, however, the Almighty did not disapprove of.
The reader is now left to determine freely, whether these passages make in the least against government by kings; and whether this republican’s perversion of them, either thro’ real or affected ignorance, should have any weight to influence us against our sovereign. For my part, I think the case so plain, that I shall not bestow another word upon it; only to add the following reflections of a learned writer on the above transaction. ‘The secret spring of the people’s conduct, (says he) was the ambition of their leaders, who could live no longer without the splendor of a regal court—where every one of [Page 38]them might shine a distinguished officer of state. This it was that made their demand criminal; for the chusing regal, rather than aristocratical, vice-roys, was a thing plainly indulged to them by the law of Moses, Deuteronomy xvii. As therefore ambition only was in the view of the ringleaders, and no foolish fears for the state, or hopes of bettering the public administration, it is evident to all acquainted with the genius of this time and people, that compliance with their demand must have ended in the utter destruction of the Mosaic religion, as well as law.’
Thus ambition set the Israelites on desiring a King; our republican author should reflect, whether the same principle does not actuate and lead him to reject his lawful sovereign.
The author of Common Sense, suspects, “there is as much king-craft as priest-craft, in with-holding the scripture from the public in Popish countries. For monarchy is the Popery of government.” But is it not strange that he himself should be guilty of the very crime he here charges upon others? Yet he does this by with-holding from the reader every text that would develope the falshood of his own beloved scheme. This I think may be called Republican-craft; and let it hereafter be added to the two species of craft above mentioned. A man of candour would deal fairly, and give both sides of the question. Had there been another text in the bible that could be pressed into his service, besides what he has quoted, we may be sure he would have produced it, with his own enlightened comments. With his good leave, therefore, I shall now set down a few texts, which probably [Page 39]he may call the “scripture doctrine of monarchy;” but which are the words of inspired truth notwithstanding. I assure the reader further, that I am none of your “passive-obedience and non-resistance men.” The principles on which the glorious revolution in 1688 was brought about, constitute the articles of my political creed; and were it necessary, I could clearly evince, that these are perfectly conformable to the doctrines of scripture. To proceed then, like a parson, with my texts; referring in the margin, to the places in which they are contained, that the reader may consult them at his leisure.
“Destroy him not,” says David to Abishai, when about to kill Saul, who was entirely in their power. ‘Destroy him not; for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltlessa? Curse not the king, no, not in thy thoughtb,’ was the admonition of a wise, inspired preacher. Eternal wisdom is introduced, declaring, ‘By me kings reign, and princes decree justicec.’ The wise man’s advice is, ‘My son, fear thou the Lord, and the king; and meddle not with them that are given to changed. Kings are promised for nursing fathers to the christian churche.’ The prophet Daniel declares of the Almighty—‘He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kingsf.’ The same prophet says, ‘The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever [Page 40]he willg.’ These are a few of the many texts to be found in the Old Testament, which contradict our author’s scheme. If we look into the New Testament, which properly contains the religion of christians, we find the same doctrine more explicitly inculcated.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers,” was Paul’s direction to the Romans. ‘For there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained of Godh.’ I seem inclined to think that Paul did not believe with our author, that “Government by kings was the invention of the devil!” “I exhort,” says the same apostle, in another place, ‘that first of all, supplications and prayers, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honestyi.’
Let us hear another apostle, namely, Peter. ‘Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the kingk.’ In another part of his writings, I meet with this remarkable passage—‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly—and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment, to be punished: But chiefly them which walk[Page 41] after the flesh, and despise government: Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitiesl.’ To the same purpose, another apostle, Jude, says,—‘Likewise these filthy dreamers, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael, the arch-angel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, the Lord rebuke theem.’ One would think that these apostles had spoken directly of our COMMON SENSE author, and meant to describe him, and such as him.
All these texts, besides many others of the same kind, I find in my bible. I must therefore renounce my bible, if I believe this republican. But I would not renounce the bible, which contains the words of eternal life, for any earthly consideration—no, not if this Gentleman were to assure me of being made Perpetual Dictator, or Stadtholder of his new republic. I have taken the trouble to transcribe the above texts, however unusual the employment, merely to lay the plain truth, the genuine testimony of scripture on this point, before such as might not be at the pains of examining it themselves; and might therefore be missed by our author. I confess, I felt both astonishment and indignation at his abuse of sacred writ. Had his principles, respecting monarchy, been good, had truth been their basis, certainly, this had not been necessary. But he is not the first tempter that would seduce others by the perversion of scripture.
ANSWER TO SECTION III.
Thoughts on the present State of American Affairs.
IF the person who was capable of so vile a prostitution of scripture, as we have seen in the preceding section, should equally prostitute the words, reason, argument, common sense, in this, it is not to be wondered at. That this is the case, will appear by a near examination. From the author’s desultory way of writing, and want of method in delivering his thoughts, it is not easy to follow him,—however, I must do as well as I can.
In this section before me, this Gentleman unfolds his grand scheme of a revolt from the crown of England, and setting up an independent republic in America. He leaves no method untried, which the most experienced practioner in the art of deceiving could invent, to persuade any people to a measure which was against their inclinations and interest, that was both disagreeable and destructive. He unsays in one place what he had said in another, if it happens to serve the present purpose; he cants and whines; he tries wit, raillery and declamation by turns. But his main attack is upon the passions of his readers, especially their pity and resentment,—the latter of which is too apt to be predominant in mankind. As for himself, he seems to be every where transported with rage—a rage that knows no limits, and hurries him along, like an [Page 43]impetuous torrent. Every thing that falls not in with his own scheme, or that he happens to dislike, is represented in the most aggravated light, and with the most distorted features. Such a malignant spirit I have seldom met with in any composition. As often as I look into this section, I cannot forbear imaging to myself a guilty culprit, fresh reeking from the lashes of indignant justice, and raging against the hand that inflicted them. Yet I cannot persuade myself, that such fire and fury are genuine marks of patriotism. On the contrary, they rather indicate that some mortifying disappointment is rankling at heart; that some tempting object of ambition is in view; or probably both. I always adopt the amiable Bishop Berkeley’s maxim in such cases,—‘I see a man rage, rail and rave; I suspect his patriotism.’
That these observations are justified by the author’s own words, I shall now proceed to evince; and I doubt not but the candid reader will consider what I say in the sense it is meant—as directed against this republican’s ruinous scheme of independency. This, and this only, is what I combat. My most ardent wish—next to future happiness—is, to see tranquillity restored to America—our liberties, property and trade settled on a firm, generous, and constitutional plan, so that neither of the former should be invaded, nor the latter impoliticly or unjustly restrained; that in consequence of this, a perfect reconciliation with Great-Britain were effected, an union formed, by which both countries, supporting and supported by each other, might rise to eminence and glory, and be the admiration of mankind till time shall [Page 44]be no more. In such a plan, the real interest of America is indubitably to be sought; and could my influence avail, there would not be a dissenting voice in the colonies—all would unite as one man, and use every effort, to have such a plan speedily settled.
The author of Common Sense says, “He has no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he would divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and feelings to determine for themselves.” I have no objection to these preliminaries. They are such as I myself would chuse to settle with the reader; provided his feelings are not those of rage and resentment, which are exceedingly improper to determine in matters of such moment. It is not improbable indeed, that every republican who is as prejudiced, interested, and vindictive as himself, will agree with him in all his extravagancies; and so perhaps they would, though an angel from Heaven were to assure them that they are wrong. But I am confident the readers of that stamp make but a very small number at present in America.
After observing, that “many writers have embarked in the present controversy, with various designs,” he says, “they have all been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Arms, as the last resource, decide the contest; the appeal was the choice of the King, and the continent accepted the challenge.” That an appeal was made by the King to arms for the decision of this unhappy contest, on the 19th of April, the period our author fixes, is a matter in which I am not quite clear; but more of this presently. If such [Page 45]a challenge was accepted by the Americans, I am sure it was with great reluctance. They desired it not; although this writer, by his manner of expression, insinuates they did. But be these matters as they will, certain it is, that the period of debate did not then close. The challenge was not accepted so as to exclude an amicable accommodation. Since that time, the Honourable Continental Congress petitioned the King, and transmitted addresses to the inhabitants of Great-Britain and Ireland, to facilitate a reconciliation. Nor can I conceive it possible, that any one, unless some sanguinary wretch, who hopes to profit by our confusions, should wish to see the contest finally decided by arms.
“By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new aera of politics is struck—all plans, proposals, &c. prior to the 19th of April—are like the almanacks of last year; which, tho’ proper then, are superceded and useless now.” I shall not undertake to decide on the value of old almanacks, as I am not an almanack-maker—the author may know more of the matter. But he here takes for granted what should have been proved, viz. that the matter or contest was ultimately referred from argument to arms. If the sense of our Congress, and of the inhabitants of this continent at large, is any rule to judge by, all plans and proposals, even those prior to the 19th of April, are not useless. A free people, who have a just sense of their rights and liberties, are very justifiable in shewing they will not tamely give them up without a struggle. But no people, except some tribes of savages, who aim at the total extermination of their enemies, will ever [Page 46]lose sight of argument and negociation, to terminate such disputes. To insinuate the contrary of the Americans, is at once doing them the greatest injustice, and offering them the greatest insult. No people under Heaven are less sanguinary, or deserve such a character less.
Our author repeats the same sentiment elsewhere. “No man,” says he, “was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself, before the fatal 19th of April, 1775; but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of father of his people, can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.” This is the man, gentle reader, who declares, “he is not induced by motives of pride, party or resentment, to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence;” no, no; and if you will take his own word for it, he is by no means for “inflaming or exaggerating matters!” The reader must be sensible, that a person who can thus set truth and decency at defiance, and is regardless of even the appearance of consistency, has a great advantage over his antagonist.
The affair of April 19, 1775, alluded to here, is the expedition to Lexington, and skirmish that ensued—a most rash, ill-judged expedition undoubtedly. It was risquing the lives of innocent and brave men on both sides, as well as the peace of this whole continent, for no other object than destroying a few barrels of flour! Our author has my leave to load that expedition, with all the reproaches he can invent. I disapprove of [Page 47]it as much as he—I lament its effects much more. But why is the king charged with it, or blamed for it? Did he order that expedition? No—he knew nothing of it—he gave no orders, general or particular, for it. So far from this, that I have been repeatedly assured from the very best authority, that his orders to all his commanders or generals on this continent were, to act only on the defensive—and to avoid shedding the blood of his subjects. Now, after giving such restraining orders, how the blood of those who were killed at the distance of three thousand miles from him, could be “on his soul,” is utterly inconceivable. Nor do I believe that he “unfeelingly heard of their slaughter.” The King’s real character is just the reverse of what is here falsly and maliciously held up to view. I was assured lately in England, by those who knew him well, that his temper is compassionate and humane,—his moral character unblemished, and in religion exemplary. If this republican, therefore, rejected his Sovereign on account of the Lexington affair, it was only because he had little or no attachment to him. This accident could only be seized to give vent to disaffection which slumbered before; for an accident it certainly was. To accuse even a private man falsly, and lay guilt to his charge, of which he is innocent, is highly criminal; to do so to an ordinary magistrate, is still more atrocious: But to revile one’s Sovereign thus falsly, to poison the minds of his subjects, and sow disaffection among them, which may be productive of general misery, is a crime of such complicated guilt, that none but men of the most abandoned profligate hearts, are capable of committing.
[Page 48]After all, it is impossible to assign any good reason, why a reconciliation with Great-Britain, which was so proper before the Lexington affair, should be so improper afterwards. Our author, indeed, in his usual way, dogmatically asserts it; but his assertions will not pass for proofs. If peace and reconciliation on constitutional grounds, and proper security for our several rights, was desirable and advantageous before the 19th of April, must they not have been equally so after the event of that unfortunate day? Let reason and common sense answer.
“But as so much has been said of the advantages of reconciliation,” continues our author, “it is but right that we should examine the contrary side of the argument, and inquire into the material injuries which the colonies sustain, and always will sustain by being connected with Great-Britain.” He alledges, indeed, several evils which he supposes would attend that connection; but cautiously avoids any mention of the numberless evils and calamities which we must infallibly suffer by breaking it off. As in a former case, so in this also, I shall endeavour to supply his omission in due time.
“Some have asserted,” he tells us, “that as America hath flourished under her former connection with Great-Britain, that the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness. Nothing can be more fallacious.” He adds,—”We may as well assert, that because a child hath thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat.” However glib this quaint simile may run upon paper; however convincing it may appear to shallow readers; yet, in truth, when examined, it [Page 49]contains a palpable impropriety, and is impertinent to the case before us. Great-Britain is figuratively called the parent state of the colonies; their connection, therefore, may be properly compared to the relation subsisting between parent and child. But to compare our connection with Great-Britain to the literal food of a child, a thing different from, and not necessarily belonging to that relation, is manifestly absurd, and a violation of the propriety of language; as all who are judges of the nature of language must be sensible. The relation of parent and child ends not, when the latter has arrived to maturity, although the use of milk may be laid aside; and that relation may be still necessary to the happiness of both; the same may be truly affirmed of our connection with Great-Britain. But if we must stretch the simile further, and find something analogous to the literal food of a child, it is the literal support afforded by Great-Britain to the colonies, in their infant state formerly; and the administration of the colonies now, as well as the general laws of regulation she may make for us. As to any support now, in the above sense, it is confessed the colonies do not require it. With respect to the administration of the colonies, and regulating laws proper for them, these should certainly be varied, and adapted to our maturer state. The want of this is the true source of our present calamities; and the attainment of it, by a reconciliation and constitutional union with Great-Britain, is what every honest American should earnestly wish for. But the remedy proposed by our author, would resemble the conduct of a rash, froward stripling, who should call his [Page 50]mother a d-mn-d b—ch, swear he had no relation to her, and attempted to knock her down.
“But even this,” subjoins our author, “is admitting more than is true; for I answer, roundly, that America, would have flourished as much, and probably much more had no European power taken any notice of her. The commerce by which she hath enriched herself, are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.” If no European power had taken any notice of America, that is to say, if none had been at the expence or trouble of discovering it, and settling colonies in it; there is great probability that America had not flourished, but remained to this day as savage a wilderness as when Columbus or Cabbot first descried its coasts.—But to pass over this blunder. Let the reader only turn to any history of the settlement of the British colonies, and then judge what had been the condition of Virginia, the first colony, and latterly of Georgia and Nova-Scotia, if Great-Britain had not supported them. They must as infallibly have perished, as an infant without its proper food, had not Great-Britain afforded her aid and support; which have been more or less extended to all the colonies. Even after they had surmounted their first difficulties, what had been their fate, had not GreatBritain protected them? It so happens, that avarice, ambition and fighting, are customs of Europe as well as eating. This being the case, some other European power would indubitably have seized all these colonies, in their infant state, had not Great-Britain held out her protection.
[Page 51]And here much matter of grief is presented to this poor Gentleman. He pathetically laments, that—”Alas! we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition”—by “not considering that the motive of Great-Britain In protecting us, was interest, not attachment;” and then he spins out a tedious, affected sentence of her “not protecting us from our enemies on our account, but from her enemies on her own account,” &c. Supposing this were true, where is the harm? Great-Britain actually did protect us; and it is a matter of little moment to us, what her motives were. If she received benefit by it, so much the better. Mutual interest is the strongest bond of union between states, as the history of mankind testifies; and certainly that nation would act a most absurd, as well as wicked part, which lavished away its blood and treasure, without any prospect of national advantage in return. But I firmly believe, that his assertions on this head are as false, as they are ungenerous; and that Great-Britain, in protecting us, was actuated by motives of affection and attachment, as well as interest. The whole of her conduct to the colonies, till lately, evinces it—the Americans themselves have acknowledged it. Great-Britain, no doubt, derived many advantages from the colonies; but should we undervalue her protection on that account, or ascribe it to sordid motives only? It is every man’s interest as well as duty to be honest; would it, therefore, be candid, generous or true, to suppose, that every honest man is actuated by selfishness only?—But candour and truth are things that have nothing to do with the procedure of this dark republican, [Page 52]who aims at utterly effacing every trace of former affection and friendship between Great-Britain and the colonies; and, like a fiend that delighted in human misery, would arm them with the most deadly, irreconcilable hatred against each other.
But he denies that Britain is the parent country or those colonies. He “reprobates the phrase, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.—Europe, (says he) and not England, is the parent country of the colonies.” It is an observation of Epictetus, ‘That if a man will contradict the most evident truths, it will not be easy to find arguments wherewith to confute him—that the disposition to contradict such truths, proceeds from want of candour and modesty.’ He moreover adds,—that when som adventruous spirits in his time undertook to deny the plainest and most evident truths—‘This denial was admired by the vulgar for strength of wit and great learning.’
Whatever circumstances can denominate any country to be the parent state or country of colonies, may be truly predicated of Britain, with respect to these American colonies. They were discovered at the expence of the British crown—first settled by British emigrants, and the governments erected here were formed on the model of the British government, as nearly as the state of things would admit. The colonists were deemed British subjects, and intitled to all the privileges of Englishmen. They were supported and protected at the expence of British blood and treasure. Emigrants, it is true, resorted here from other countries in great numbers; but these were not intitled to the privileges of British subjects, [Page 53]till naturalized by an act of the British legislature, or some Assembly here; and the prodigious confluence of strangers into the colonies, is a proof of the mild and liberal spirit by which they were cherished and administered. If these particulars do not intitle Britain to the appellation of mother country, to these colonies, I know not what can; and these particulars cannot be predicated of any other country in Europe, besides Britain.
The author tells us, however—”that the phrase parent or mother country, hath been jesuitically adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds.” I conceive the present king, or his parasites, as he calls them, were not the first or only persons who adopted this phrase; and therefore it could not answer such a design. The phrase hath always been used, both here, and in Britain, since the first settlement of the colonies.
But this curious observation was introduced purely to insinuate that the king is a papist; which hath just as much truth in it as to insinuate that he is a Mahometan or Gentoo; for there is not a firmer Protestant in Great-Britain, than his present Majesty. The insinuation might have some effect on the credulous weakness of some ignorant people, who have harboured such an opinion; and I have heard the Quebec bill, alledged as a proof of it, by which, they said, popery was established in Canada, and the king had violated his coronation oath.
An examination of the Quebec bill, falls not within the compass of my design. It has undergone [Page 54]the scrutiny of much abler hands; some of which have affirmed, and others denied, that popery was thereby established. I dislike the bill, chiefly because it vests the governor and his council with exorbitant power. It is certain, however, that the popish clergy of Canada, complain of the bill, and think themselves in a worse situation by it, than the articles of capitulation and surrender left them. Be all this as it may, it is past any doubt, that the king did not in the least violate his coronation oath by assenting to that bill. This will evidently appear by inspecting the oath itself; and as the removal of mutual prejudices to faciliate a reconciliation, is my principal view; as the oath is short, and has been seen by few, I shall here insert it. The coronation oath is administered by one of the archbishops or bishops, in the following words and manner—
The archbishop shall say, Will you solemnly promise and swear, to govern the people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same? The king shall say, I solemnly promise so to do.
The archbishop. Will you, to your power, cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all your judgments? King. I will.
The archbishop. Will you, to the utmost of your power, maintain the laws of God; the true profession of the gospel, and the protestant reformed religion, established by law? And will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by the [Page 55]law do or shall appertain unto them, or any of them? King. All this, I promise to do.
After this the king laying his hand on the holy gospels, shall say, The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep: So help me God. And then shall kiss the book.
This is the coronation oath, and mode of administering it, as prescribed by law; and the reader must see that it has no more relation to the state of religion in Canada, a conquered country, than to the state of religion in Minorca, a conquered island, the inhabitants of which are papists, and enjoy as great, if not greater privileges than the Canadians.
“But admitting,” continues our author, “that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing. Britain being now an open enemy, extinguishes every other name and title; and to say that reconciliation is a duty, is truly farcical.” Here the farcical argument meets me again; and what shall I say to it? I protest I do not understand it. I have searched for its meaning in vain; and have no hope of fathoming it, till the author is pleased to explain it. But to the point in hand. If what would promote our happiness and interest, to mention nothing else, be a duty, then reconciliation is our duty.
He elsewhere enlarges on this head. “Bring the doctrine of reconciliation,” says he, “to the touch-stone of nature, and then tell me, whether you can hereafter love, honour and faithfully serve the power that carried fire and sword into your land!” All this, and a great deal more of the kind, can only proceed from a supposition of the author, that others are as vindictive and unforgiving [Page 56]as himself. When states go to war, mutual acts of hostility must necessarily ensue; and to think that no reconciliation should afterwards take place between them, is as contrary to every dictate of humanity and religion, as to think that a private person should never forgive a private injury, or be reconciled to him that offered it. I lament as much as any one, the blood that has been shed, and the devastation that has been made during this contest: But these have been comparatively small, if we consider the torrents of blood that have flowed, the wide-spread ruin that has taken place, in the frequent destructive wars between England and Scotland; yet these nations are now happily united—they mutually love, honour and faithfully serve each other.
The author refers us to the state of Boston, and paints the distresses of its inhabitants in the strongest colours, to stimulate the revenge of Americans, and banish every idea of reconciliation with Britain. I sincerely take part in the calamities of Boston, and other places that have suffered. I feel the most tender sympathetic pity for the distresses of their inhabitants. But how the shedding of more blood, or spreading equal devastation along the whole sea coast of this continent—the inevitable consequences of not listening to reconciliation—how these, I say, can alleviate the misfortunes of the people of Boston, or any other sufferers, is what I am not able to see.
“Much hath been said,” he tells us, “of the united strength of Britain and the colonies; that in conjunction they might bid defiance to the world: But this is a mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain—the next war may not [Page 57]turn out like the last.” But he chants quite another tune, when he would hold up the advantages of a separation from Britain. In that case he avers—”‘Tis not in the power of England, or of Europe to conquer America—nay, our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of the whole world!”—This is only one sample, among a thousand, of the duplicity and contradiction which run through this pamphlet.
After telling us what is very true, that we have no business to “set the world at defiance,” he adds, as an inducement to separate from Britain—”Our plan is commerce; and that well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of Europe, because it is the interest of Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver will secure her from invaders.”—Yes, yes; no doubt but if America were once to throw off her connection with Britain, the golden age would be restored! The Millennial state would commence. ‘Men would instantly beat their swords into plough-shears, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation would not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war any more.’ Such are the happy times our author promises us, if America were an independent republic! But until he can give us some assurance that may be relied on, that ambition, pride, avarice, and all that dark train of passions which usually attends them, will be extinguished in the human breast, and will no more exert their baneful influence, I must beg leave to doubt the truth of his assertions—I must question, whether we shall live in perpetual peace with Europe, or even with each other, after our revolt from England.
[Page 58]The argument or reason he advances for it here, is contradicted by general experience and matter of fact. A flourishing trade naturally increases wealth; and for this, and other reasons, as naturally leads to war. Carthage, Venice and Holland—all commercial republics—were frequently engaged in bloody wars, in the days of their prosperity. Nor is “barrenness of gold and silver” any security against war or invasions. Experience and fact are equally against this position. I never heard of the gold or silver mines of Flanders. The Low Countries are intirely barren of both; but they are remarkable for their fertility, good pasturage, manufactures, and formerly for trade: Yet I may say, each field there is a field of blood, and has been the scene of some dreadful carnage. Great-Britain and France have few or no gold and silver mines; yet they have been theatres of bloody wars, as long as any record we have of either reaches. On the other hand, South America supplies half the globe with gold and silver; and yet, strange to tell, on our author’s principles, no rival power has ever contended with Spain or Portugal for the dominion of South America! No invaders have attempted to dispossess them!
The truth is, that mines producing those metals are rather injurious than beneficial to any country. They unbrace the nerves of industry, induce sloth, and damp the spirit of commerce. Spain was one of the most flourishing, powerful monarchies in Europe, when this continent was discovered. Peru and Mexico then poured their immense treasures into her lap, and have been doing so ever since; yet Spain ever since has been [Page 59]on the decline, and is dwindled, notwithstanding her gold and silver, into a state, I may say, of insignificance. The country that abounds in fertile fields and luxuriant pasturage—that produces the necessaries of life in abundance—that furnishes the various materials for industry and art, and the articles for an extensive commerce; such a country, though barren of gold and silver, is the most inviting to ambition, the most exposed to invasions; and such a country is North-America.
But our author now waxes so exceedingly warm, and assumes so terrific an air, that I almost dread to approach him. “I challenge,” says he, “the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to shew a single advantage that this country can reap by being connected with Great-Britain. I repeat the challenge, not a single advantage is derived.”
The positive, dogmatical manner in which this challenge is repeated, reminds me of an observation made by the excellent Dr. Beattic, which applies, in the present case, as exactly, as if this blustering challenge had given rise to it. “In reading sceptical books,” says the worthy Doctor, ‘I have often found, that the strength of the author’s attachment to his paradox, is in proportion to its absurdity. If it deviates but a little from common opinion, he gives himself but little trouble about it; if it be inconsistent with universal belief, he condescends to argue the matter, and to bring what with him passes for a proof of it; if it be such as no man ever did or could believe, he is still more conceited of his proof, and calls it demonstration; but if it is inconceivable, it is a wonder if he does [Page 60]not take it for granted.’ Our republican takes it for granted, that no advantage could result from our future connection with Great-Britain—a parodox which, I think, must be utterly inconceivable to every other human understanding. Brimful, however, of this conceit, he throws down his gauntlet, and offers this challenge; leaving his readers to stare a convenient time, and to hesitate, which they should admire most—the absurdity of taking this point for granted—or, the fortitude of face that could advance such a parodox.
I think it no difficult matter to point out many advantages which will certainly attend our reconciliation and connection with Great-Britain, on a firm, constitutional plan. I shall select a few of these; and that their importance may be more clearly discerned, I shall afterwards point out some of the evils which inevitably must attend our separating from Britain, and declaring for independency. On each article I shall study brevity.
1. By a reconciliation with Britain, a period would be put to the present calamitous war, by which so many lives have been lost, and so many more must be lost, if it continues. This alone is an advantage devoutly to be wished for. This author says—”The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘Tis time to part.” I think they cry just the reverse. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries—It is time to be reconciled; it is time to lay aside those animosities which have pushed on Britons to shed the blood of Britons; it is high time that those who are connected by the endearing ties of religion, kindred and country, should resume their [Page 61]former friendship, and be united in the bond of mutual affection, as their interests are inseparably united.
2. By a reconciliation with Great-Britain, peace—that fairest offspring and gift of Heaven—will be restored. In one respect, peace is like health; we do not sufficiently know its value but by its absence. What uneasiness and anxiety, what evils has this short interruption of peace with the parent state, brought on the whole British empire! Let every man only consult his feelings—I except my antagonist—and it will require no great force of rhetoric, to convince him, that a removal of those evils, and a restoration of peace, would be a singular advantage and blessing.
3. Agriculture, commerce and industry would resume their wonted vigour. At present, they languish and droop, both here and in Britain; and must continue to do so, while this unhappy contest remains unsettled.
4. By a connection with Great-Britain, our trade would still have the protection of the greatest naval power in the world. England has the advantage in this respect of every other state, whether of ancient or modern times. Her insular situation, her nurseries for seamen, the superiority of those seamen above any others—these circumstances, to mention no other, combine to make her the first maritime power in the universe; such exactly is the power whose protection we want for our commerce. To suppose, with our author, that we should have no war, were we to revolt from England, is too absurd to deserve a confutation. I would just as soon set about refuting the reveries of some brain-sick enthusiast. [Page 62]Past experience shews that Britain is able to defend our commerce, and our coasts; and we have no reason to doubt of her being able to do so for the future.
5. The protection of our trade, while connected with Britain, will not cost us a fiftieth part of what it must cost, were we ourselves to raise a naval force sufficient for the purpose.
6. Whilst connected with Great-Britain, we have a bounty on almost every article of exportation; and we may be better supplied with goods by her, than we could elsewhere. What our author says is true—”That our imported goods must be paid for, buy them where we will;” but we may buy them dearer, and of worse quality, in one place than another. The manufactures of Great-Britain confessedly surpass any in the world—particularly those in every kind of metal, which we want most; and no country can afford linens and woolens of equal quality cheaper.
7. When a reconciliation is effected, and things return into the old channel, a few years of peace will restore every thing to its pristine state. Emigrants will flow in as usual from the different parts of Europe. Population will advance with the same rapid progress as formerly, and our lands will rise in value.
These advantages are not imaginary, but real. They are such as we have already experienced; and such as we may derive from a connection with Great-Britain for ages to come. Each of these might easily be enlarged on, and others added to them; but I only mean to suggest a few hints to the reader.
[Page 63]Let us now, if you please, take a view of the other side of the question. Suppose we were to revolt from Great-Britain, declare ourselves independent, and set up a republic of our own—what would the consequences be?—I stand aghast at the prospect—my blood runs chill when I think of the calamities, the complicated evils that must ensue, and may be clearly foreseen—it is impossible for any man to foresee them all. Our author cautiously avoids saying any thing of the inconveniences that would attend a separation. He does not even suppose that any inconvenience would attend it. Let us only declare ourselves independent, break loose from Great-Britain, and according to him, a paradisaical state will follow! But a prudent man will consider and weigh matters well before he consents to such a measure—when on the brink of such a dreadful precipice, he must necessarily recoil, and think of the consequences, before he advances a step forward. Supposing then we declared for independency, what would follow?—I answer—
1. All property throughout the continent would be unhinged; the greatest confusion and most violent convulsions would take place. It would not be here, as it was in England at the revolution in 1688. That revolution was not brought about by any defeazance or disannulling of the right of succession. James, by abdicating the throne, left it vacant for the next in succession; accordingly his eldest daughter and her husband stept in. Every other matter went on in the usual, regular way; and the constitution, instead of being dissolved, was strengthened. But in case of our revolt, the old constitution would be totally subverted [Page 64]The common bond that tied us together, and by which our property was secured, would be snapt asunder. It is not to be doubted but our Congress would endeavour to apply some remedy for those evils; but with all deference to that respectable body, I do not apprehend that any remedy in their power would be adequate, at least for some time. I do not chuse to be more explicit; but I am able to support my opinion.
2. What a horrid situation would thousands be reduced to, who have taken the oath of allegiance to the king; yet contrary to their oath, as well as inclination, must be compelled to renounce that allegiance, or abandon all their property in America! How many thousands more would be reduced to a similar situation; who, altho’ they took not the oath, yet would think it inconsistent with their duty, and a good conscience, to renounce their sovereign! I dare say these will appear trifling difficulties to our author; but whatever he may think, there are thousands and thousands who would sooner lose all they had in the world, nay, life itself, than thus wound their conscience.
3. By a declaration for independency, every avenue to an accommodation with Great-Britain would be closed; the sword only could then decide the quarrel; and the sword would not be sheathed till one had conquered the other. The importance of these colonies to Britain need not be enlarged on, it is a thing so universally known. The greater their importance is to her, so much the more obstinate will her struggle be, not to lose them. The independency of America would, in the end, deprive her of the West-Indies, shake [Page 65]her empire to the foundation, and reduce her to a state of the most mortifying insignificance. Great-Britain therefore must, for her own preservation, risque every thing, and exert her whole strength, to prevent such an event from taking place. This being the case—
4. Devastation and ruin must mark the progress of this war along the sea-coast of America. Hitherto, Britain has not exerted her power. Her number of troops and ships of war, here at present, is very little more than she judged expedient in time of peace—the former does not amount to 12,000 men—nor the latter to 40 ships, including frigates. Both she, and the colonies, hoped for, and expected an accommodation; neither of them has lost sight of that desirable object. The seas have been open to our ships; and altho’ some skirmishes have unfortunately happened, yet a ray of hope still chear’d both sides, that peace was not distant. But as soon as we declare for independency, every prospect of this kind must vanish. Ruthless war, with all its aggravated horrors, will ravage our once happy land; our sea-coasts and ports will be ruined, and our ships taken. Torrents of blood will be spilt, and thousands reduced to beggary and wretchedness.
This melancholy contest would fast till one side conquered. Supposing Britain to be victorious; however high my opinion is of British generosity, I should be exceedingly sorry to receive terms from her in the haughty tone of a conqueror. Or supposing such a failure of her manufactures, commerce and strength, that victory should incline to the side of America; yet who can say in that case, what extremities her sense of resentiment [Page 66]and self-preservation will drive Great-Britain to? For my part, I should not in the least be surprised, if, on such a prospect as the independency of America, she would parcel out this continent to the different European powers. Canada might be restored to France, Florida to Spain, with additions to each—other states also might come in for a portion. Let no man think this chimerical or improbable. The independency of America would be so fatal to Britain, that she would leave nothing in her power undone to prevent it. I believe as firmly as I do my own existence, that if every other method failed, she would try some such expedient as this, to disconcert our scheme of independency; and let any man figure to himself the situation of these British colonies, if only Canada were restored to France!
5. But supposing, once more, that we were able to cut off every regiment that Britain can spare or hire, and to destroy every ship she can send—that we could beat off any other European power that would presume to intrude upon this continent; yet a republican form of government, would neither suit the genius of the people, nor the extent of America.
In nothing is the wisdom of a legislator more conspicuous than in adapting his form of government to the genius, manners, disposition, and other circumstances of the people with whom he is concerned. If this important point is overlooked, confusion will ensue; his system will sink into neglect and ruin. Whatever checks or barriers may be interposed, nature will always surmount them, and finally prevail. It was chiefly [Page 67]by attention to this circumstance, that Lycurgus and Solon were so much celebrated; and that their respective republics rose afterwards to such eminence, and acquired such stability.
The Americans are properly Britons. They have the manners, habits, and ideas of Britons; and have been accustomed to a similar form of government. But Britons never could bear the extremes, either of monarchy or republicanism. Some of their kings have aimed at despotism; but always failed. Repeated efforts have been made towards democracy, and they equally failed. Once indeed republicanism triumphed over the constitution; the despotism of one person ensued; both were finally expelled. If we may judge of future events by past transactions, in similar circumstances, this would most probably be the case of America, were a republican form of government adopted in our present ferment. After much blood was shed, those confusions would terminate in the despotism of some one successful adventurer; and should the Americans be so fortunate as to emancipate themselves from that thraldom, perhaps the whole would end in a limited monarchy, after shedding as much more blood. Limited monarchy is the form of government which is most favourable to liberty—which is best adapted to the genius and temper of Britons; altho’ here and there among us a crackbrained zealot for democracy, or absolute monarchy, may be sometimes found.
Besides the usuitableness of the republican form to the genius of the people, America is too extensive for it. That form may do well enough for a single city, or small territory; but would be [Page 68]utterly improper for such a continent as this. America is too unwieldy for the feeble, dilatory administration of democracy. Rome had the most extensive dominions of any ancient republic. But it should be remembered, that very soon after the spirit of conquest carried the Romans beyond the limits that were proportioned to their constitution, they fell under a despotic yoke. A very few years had elapsed from the time of their conquering Greece, and first entering Asia, till the battle of Pharsalia, where Julius Caesar put an end to the liberties of his country. Caesar himself was the first who entirely subdued the Gauls, though near neighbours, and that penetrated into Britain. Had it not been for the rivalship between Sylla and Marius, who were a check upon each other, Rome had surrendered her liberties before, to one or other of those tyrants. Holland is the most considerable republic in Europe at present; yet the small kingdom of Ireland is more than twice as large as the Seven United Provinces. Holland, indeed, has considerable colonies in the East and West-Indies; but these are under as rigid and arbitrary an administration as any colonies of France or Spain.
The author of Common Sense, in his abundant care and providence, lays before the public, a sketch of the government he would recommend. We thank him for his kindness; but dislike his ware. It is patch work, and would make sad work in America. The principal outlines of this sketch seem to be taken from Mr. Harrington’s Rota, which was too romantic even for the times of Cromwell. Our author has made such alterations as he conceived would adapt it to America. [Page 69]It is as much in the democratic style as the Rota; and as improper for America, as the other was for England. I may truly say of it, and its author, so far as he may claim authorship by it, what Montesquieu said of Harrington and his Occana, of which the Rota is a kind of abridgment—‘For want of knowing the nature of real liberty, he busied himself in pursuit of an imaginary one; and he built a Chalcedon, tho’ he had before his eyes a Byzantium.’ To make way for this crude, wretched system, our author would destroy the best, the most beautiful political fabrick which the sun ever beheld!
6. In fine. Let us for a moment imagine that an American republic is formed, every obstacle having been surmounted; yet a very serious article still remains to be inquired into, viz. the expence necessary to support it. It behoves those who have any property, to think of this part of the business. As for our author, it is more than probable he has nothing to lose; and like others in the same predicament, is willing to trust to the chapter of accidents and chances for something in the scramble. He cannot lose; but may possibly gain. His own maxim is certainly true—”The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture;*” and vice versa, say I.
It would be impossible to ascertain with precision the expence that would be necessary for the support of this new republic. It would be very great undoubtedly—it would appear intolerable to the Americans, who have hitherto paid so few taxes. I shall just hint at a few articles.—
[Page 70]Our author asserts the necessity of our having a naval force, when independent. It is granted—we could not be without one. The reader, however, will not expect that I should either adopt, or formally refute his hopeful scheme, viz. That merchant ships armed shall be employed for our defence—that is to say—that ships when on trading voyages to Europe, Africa, the Eastor West-Indies, or taking in their ladings at that those places, shall defend the trade and coasts of America! “This,” he says, “would be uniting the sinews of commerce and defence, and making our strength and riches play into each others hands.” The thought I verily believe is original, and the plan entirely his own—it might intitle him to a distinguished seat among the sage professors of Laputa, who, according to Swift, were employed in ‘extracting sun beams out of cucumbers, calcining ice into gun powder, and making fire malleable,’ with other such ingenious inventions.
This gentleman thinks, that “fifty or sixty ships, mounting 20, 30, 40, or 50 guns, with a few guard ships, would keep up a sufficient navy.” Let us take a medium of those numbers, and suppose the American navy to consist of fifty-five ships, each mounting fifty guns; which would be a very moderate navy indeed for this continent. In England the general calculation of expence in building ships of war, is, that when fitted for actual service, with six months pay and provisions, one thousand pounds sterling are expended for each gun. According to this calculation, the building and fitting out the above navy, would cost £.2,750,000 sterling; i. e. two millions, seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds, sterling money; which is nearly equal to 12,222,222 [Page 71]dollars; i. e. twelve millions, two hundred and twenty-two thousand, two hundred and twenty-two Spanish dollars, reckoning each dollar: at 4s. 6d. sterling. If the above calculation should be deemed too large, as I am not certain but it may, since the precise cost of building a fifty gun ship is £.14,200 sterling: Yet, considering the high price of labour in America—the docks, arsenals, armories, foundries, &c. &c. which are previously necessary towards keeping up a regular naval force, and are all very expensive; I am persuaded the expence of fitting out this fleet would not fall short of the sum I have mentioned.
The annual expence is next to be considered. The certain annual expence of a fifty gun ship in England, and for which provision is made by government, amounts to £.18,200 sterling. This is allowed for wear and tear, victualling and wages. Repairs and expence of amunition are another article, which as it cannot be ascertained, I shall pass over. The American fleet, consisting of 55 ships, each mounting 50 guns, would therefore be a certain annual expence of £.1,001,000 sterling; i. e. one million, one thousand pounds sterling.
Considering our extensive line of sea coast, and our no less extensive frontier, along which so many thousands of savages are settled, I think America, when independent, cannot keep less than fourteen thousand land forces in constant pay; that is 20 regiments of 700 men each. The small republic of Holland has 40,000 land forces in time of peace, one half of which is employed in garisons. The annual expence of an English [Page 72]regiment, consisting of 700 privates, is nearly £.15,743 sterling; and the expence of raising arming, &c. of a regiment is about £.6 a man. i. e. £.4,200 for a regiment. Thus the annual expence of 14,000 men, or 20 regiments of 700 men each, would be £.314,860 sterling. Besides the charge of arming, &c. those 20 regiments, which amounts to £.84,000 sterl. Moreover, we should find it necessary, to have three or four regiments of cavalry, to be distributed in or near the large towns or cities. Let us suppose three regiments to be raised, of 300 privates each. The annual expence of an English regiment of dragoons, of three hundred men, is nearly £.16,137 sterling. The annual expence of three such regiments, would be £.48,561 sterling, besides the charge of horses, arming, &c. which is computed at 30 guineas per man, and will amount to £.28,350 sterling.
Let us now cast up those several sums of annual expence:—
|Annual expence of 55 ships, of 50 guns each,||£.1,001,000|
|Annual expence of 20 regiments of foot,||314,860|
|Annual expence of 3 regiments of cavalry,||48,561|
|Total of annual expence in the naval and military departments,||£.1,354,421|
The civil department still remains; and after considering it with as much exactness as the nature of the case will admit, I shall not hesitate to aver, that when this is added to the two former, the annual expence of America, after she becomes independent, will at least amount to £.1,500,000 sterling, i. e. one million, five hundred thousand pounds sterling money; which is [Page 73]nearly equal to 6,666,666 dollars; i. e. six millions, six hundred and sixty-six thousand, six hundred and sixty-six dollars.
Supposing, then, that Canada, Nova-Scotia and Florida, were joined to the thirteen colonies now united, the number would be sixteen. The above sum equally divided amongst them, would be about £.93,750 sterl. nearly equal to 416,666 dollars, annual expence to each colony. But it should be observed, that Rhode Island is a small colony—that the three counties of New-Castle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, are reckoned as a colony—that Nova-Scotia, Georgia and Florida are very young colonies; none of these, therefore, could possibly contribute an equal share with the older and larger colonies; the expence of the latter must therefore be proportionably greater to make up the deficiency.
Besides this annual expence, the proportion to each of the sixteen colonies—
|For building 55 ships of war, would be||£.131,250 sterl.|
|For raising, arming, &c. twenty regiments of infantry,||5,250|
|For raising, arming, &c. three regiments of cavalry,||1,771|
So that each colony must expend the sum of one hundred and thirty-eight thousand, two hundred and seventy-one pounds sterling, nearly equal to 642,537 dollars, i. e. six hundred and forty-two thousand, five hundred and thirty-seven Spanish dollars, immediately after the war with Great-Britain was ended.
[Page 74]I have not knowingly exaggerated a single article in the above estimate; and were the trial to be made, I verily believe the expence would be found much greater. For I have formed this estimate according to the state of things in England; but it is well known, that wages, and the price of labour in general, are much greater in America than in England. Labour necessarily must be dear in every country where land is cheap, and large tracts of it unsettled, as is the case here. Hence, an American regiment costs us more than double what a British regiment, of equal number, costs Britain. Were it proper to be explicit, and descend to particulars, I could evince this past all possibility of doubt; and I appeal for the truth of it to those gentlemen among us who are acquainted with these matters.
Where the money is to come from, which will defray this enormous expence of a million and a half sterling annually, I know not. The whole of our exports from the thirteen united colonies in the year 1769, amounted only to £.2,887,898 sterling,* which is not twice as much as our annual expence would be, in case we were independent of Great-Britain. Those exports, with no inconsiderable part of the profits arising from them, it is well known, centered finally in Britain, to pay the merchants and manufacturers there for goods we had imported thence; and yet left us still in debt. What then must our situation be, or what the state of our trade, when oppressed with such a load of annual expence! When every article of commerce, every necessary of [Page 75]life, together with our lands, must be taxed to defray that expence!
Such is the debt and expence we should incur by this writer’s hopeful exchange of our present connection with Great-Britain for independency and republicanism! And all this after being exhausted by a tedious war, and perhaps all our shipping and sea ports destroyed! How little do those who desire such an exchange, know what they are about, or what they desire!
Our author frequently refers us to Holland, as if that were the only land of liberty—crowned with every blessing, and exempt from every evil. But hear a little plain truth. The national debt of Holland is much greater, in proportion, than that of England. The taxes in Holland far exceed not only those in England, but even those in France; insomuch, that a certain writer declares, he scarcely knows any thing they have, which has escaped taxation, “except the air they breathe.” Nay more—the people at large have no voice in chusing the members of their several senates, as we have in chusing representatives. The members of each senate, upon any vacancy, elect new members; and the deputies from those senates, constitute the States General. So that in fact, the people have no share in the government, as with us; “They have nothing to do but pay and grumble,” as Lord Chesterfield observes. Yet this is the country our author holds up for imitation; and if we were to follow his advice, I have not the least doubt but we should soon resemble them in paying heavy taxes, as well as in other matters.
[Page 76]But here it may be said—”that all the evils above specified, are more tolerable than slavery.” With this sentiment I sincerely agree—any hardships, however great, are preferable to slavery. But then I ask, is there no other alternative in the present case? Is there no choice left us but slavery, or those evils? I think there is; and that both may be equally avoided. Let us only shew a disposition to treat or negociate in earnest—let us fall upon some method to set a treaty or negociation with Great-Britain on foot; and if once properly begun, there is a moral certainty that this unhappy dispute will be settled to the mutual satisfaction and interest of both countries. For my part, I have not the least doubt about it.
It would be improper and needless for me to enlarge on the particulars that should be adjusted at such a treaty. The maturest deliberation will be necessary on the occasion, as well as a generous regard to every part of the empire. I shall just beg leave to suggest my opinion on a few points.—I think America should insist, that the claim of Parliamentary taxation be either explicitly relinquished, or else such security given as the case will admit, and may be equivalent to a formal relinquishment, that this claim shall not be exerted. When this most important point is gained, America should consider, that there is a great difference between having her money wrested from her by others, and not giving any of it herself, when it is proper to give. While she is protected, and shares in the advantages resulting from being a part of the British empire, she should contribute something for that protection and those advantages; and I never heard a sensible American [Page 77]deny this. Moreover, she should stipulate for such a freedom of trade as is consistent with the general welfare of the state; and that this interesting object be settled in such a manner as to preclude as much as possible any impolitic, or injurious infringements hereafter. All this may be easily done, if both sides are only disposed for peace; and there are many other particulars which would be exceedingly beneficial to America, and might be obtained, as they could not interfere with the interest of Great-Britain, or any other part of the empire.
But it may be asked—What probability is there that Britain will enter on such a treaty, or listen to proposals of this kind? Is she not preparing for war, and fitting out a formidable armament against the colonies? I answer—there is every reason to believe that she will enter on such a treaty if it is desired; and that she will listen to reasonable proposals. It is her interest to do so. To hold these colonies by the sword only, were she ever so powerful, would be holding them by a very precarious, expensive tenure. Such an union with the colonies as will promote their interests equally with her’s, is the only effectual way of attaching them to her. Is it reasonable to suppose that Great-Britain does not see this? Or that she is not sensible of it? Besides, it has been openly and expressly declared in Parliament, that “taxation is given up” by the ministry; and we are assured that some very respectable names have been lately added to the advocates of America. All these things are in our favour, and promise a prosperous issue to a negociation, if once begun. The British armament[Page 78] will not in the least impede a treaty. Belligerent powers, when on the eve of peace, always make vigorous preparations for war, as if there were no thoughts of peace. America is also preparing for war, which is no more than a prudent step. It need not prevent her from treating; and she may thereby obtain better terms.
But a declaration for independency on the part of America, would preclude the treaty entirely; and could answer no good purpose. We actually have already every advantage of independency, without its inconveniences. By a declaration of independency, we should instantly lose all assistance from our friends in England. It would stop their mouths; for were they to say any thing in our favour, they would be deemed rebels, and treated accordingly.
Our author is much elated with the prospect of foreign succour, if we once declare ourselves independent; and from thence promiseth us mighty matters. This, no doubt, is intended to spirit up the desponding—all who might shrink at the thought of America encountering, singly and unsupported, the whole strength of Great-Britain. I believe in my conscience, that he is as much mistaken in this, as in any thing else; and that this expectation is delusive, vain and fallacious. My reasons are these, and I submit them to the reader’s judgment.
The only European power from which we can receive assistance is France. But France is now at peace with Great-Britain; and is it probable that France would interrupt that peace, and hazard a war with the power which lately reduced her so low, from a disinterested motive of[Page 79] aiding and protecting these colonies? The fate of Corsica may teach us how ready European states are to act on disinterested motives, in such cases. France has now a pacific king; she is burthened with an enormous national debt; both which circumstances will naturally tend to keep her quiet. If it be said—That the exclusive trade of America would be a sufficient inducement for France to engage on our side,—I answer—That she never can have our exclusive trade, till the power of Great-Britain is totally annihilated. Now, supposing France were able to effect this—(a supposition not very probable)—yet the other European states are too jealous of her—too deeply interested in preserving a due balance of power, which is a principal object in European politics, ever to suffer such an event to take place.
It is well known that some of the French colonists, not long since, offered to put themselves under the protection of England, and declare themselves independant of France; but England rejected the offer. The example would be rather dangerous to states that have colonies—to none could it be more so than to France and Spain, who have so many and such extensive colonies. The practice of courts is as much against us in this, as in the instance our author mentions. Can any one imagine, that because we declared ourselves independent of England, France would therefore consider us as really independant? And before England had aquiesced, or made any efforts worth mentioning to reduce us? Or can any one be so weak as to think, that France would run the risk of a war with England, unless [Page 80]she (France) were sure of some extraordinary advantage by it, in having the colonies under her immediate jurisdiction? If England will not protect us for our trade, surely France will not. In truth, France need not hazard a war to have her purposes answered with respect to America, if we should be so infatuated as to declare for independency. I am confident, that in less than six months, after such a declaration, France would be put in quiet possession of Canada.
Indeed, were France ever so willing and able to assist us, the experiment would be imprudent and hazardous in the highest degree. There is scarcely an instance recorded in history of foreigners being called in to assist in domestic quarrels, that it did not prove ruinous to those that sought their aid. The ancient Britons invited the Saxons to assist them against the Picts—the Picts were subdued and the Britons enslaved. One instance more I cannot forbear mentioning. The Etolians and other Greek states, called in the Romans to assist them against Philip of Macedon, one of Alexander’s successors. Philip was reduced, and the Roman yoke was imposed on the Grecian states. Sensible of their error, when it was too late, and anxious for deliverance from the Romans, the Etolians applied for aid to Antiochus, who then possessed the remains of Alexander’s Asiatic dominions. The Romans now employed Philip to subdue Antiochus and the Etolians, as before they employed the Etolians to subdue Philip. The Roman yoke was more confirmed and made heavier. Thus were the French and colonists to succeed against Britain in the present struggle, the French might [Page 81]hereafter employ the colonists to subdue Britain.
I have heard the case of Holland’s revolt from Spain, and Queen Elizabeth’s affording aid to the former, mentioned as parallel to ours. But instead of being parallel, the cases differ in every cicrumstance. Elizabeth, embarrassed greatly by Roman catholics at home, was then at war with Philip II. of Spain—a cruel, gloomy tyrant, who had lately introduced the inquisition into the Low Countries, where hundreds of his Protestant subjects were sacrificed by that bloody court. This was the real cause of the Dutch revolt; though civil matters partly mingled with it. Elizabeth, by assisting the Dutch, served two important purposes. One was to protect the Protestants, who were every where threatened with destruction. The other was to distress her implacable enemy, who aimed at no less than the utter ruin of her religion, crown and kingdom. The Dutch States offered Elizabeth the sovereignty of their country; but she refused it, having no design of that fort. It is more than probable, the French King would not be so disinterested, modest and self-denying as Elizabeth was, were we to make him the like offer. Such was the case of Holland; yet some have been so silly as to compare our present case to that of the Dutch.
Consider this matter as you will, view the declaration of independency in what light you please, the ruin of America must be the inevitable consequence. Our author’s earnestness and zeal, therefore, that we should declare ourselves independent, serves only to prove, that he himself is desperate; and that he would gladly bring this whole continent into the same situation.
[Page 82]But our author repeatedly tells us, “That to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, is unworthy of the charge.” Now, to pass over the gross insult here offered to the Continental Congress, who had this important object principally in view, in the spirited measures they have taken; I answer—That if five times as many millions had been expended, America would be an immense gainer, provided those acts are repealed, and her liberties, property and trade are settled on a firm basis, by a constitutional union with Great-Britain. Were that measure once effected, the peace and prosperity of this continent would be as immutably and certainly secured as any thing in this world can. The Americans have fully evinced, to the conviction of the most incredulous, that they have an high sense of their liberties, and sufficient spirit to vindicate those liberties. Their numbers, strength and importance will be daily increasing; these will command respect from Great-Britain, and insure to them a mild and equitable treatment from her. She will not hereafter be over anxious to contend, or come to blows with them. This, I think, is clear to demonstration; and hence we may learn to set a proper value on the rant which this author throws out, as if America would be perpetually embroiled with England hereafter, unless we declare for independency.
For my part, I look upon this pamphlet to be the most injurious, in every respect, to America, of any that has appeared since these troubles began. The Continental Congress, the several Provincial Congresses, and Assemblies, have all unanimously and in the strongest terms, disclaimed every idea [Page 83]of independency. They have repeatedly declared their abhorrence of such a step; they have as often declared their firm attachment to our sovereign and the parent state. They have declared, that placing them in the same situation that they were at the close of the last war, was their only object; that when this was done, by repealing the obnoxious acts, our former harmony and friendship would be restored. I appeal to the reader whether all this has not been done from one end of the continent to the other.
Yet here steps forth a writer, who avers with as much assurance as if he had the whole continent at his back, and ready to support his asseverations—That independency is our duty and interest—That it was folly and rashness to go to the expence we have been at for the sake of repealing those obnoxious acts; and moreover, loads with the most approbrious terms, that sovereign and nation to which we had declared our attachment! In what light can this be viewed in Britain? Must it not weaken the influence of our friends—strengthen the hands of the ministry—and give weight to every thing our enemies have said to our disadvantage? Must it not induce people to suspect our candour—that all our declarations were insincere, fallacious—intended only to amuse and deceive?—It is as much to vindicate my injured countrymen from this disgrace, which they deserve not, as to oppose the destructive project of independency, that I appear on this occasion.
I have now considered every thing in this incendiary’s pamphlet, that deserves notice. If some things are passed over, it is not because they are unanswerable; but because they are not [Page 84]worthy of an answer. I have on purpose omitted every subject, the discussion of which might tend to raise jealousy among the colonists; such as religion, the claims of some colonies on others, besides many more of the same kind. But it was more difficult to avoid speaking of these, than to point out what prolific sources of animosity, bitterness, and bloody contests they must infallibly prove, were America to become independent. The whole is freely submitted to the reader’s candid, dispassionate judgment.
The author of Common Sense may probably call me “a disguised tory, a prejudised man,” or what in his estimation “will be productive of more calamities to this continent than all others—a moderate man.” But I am too conscious of the sincerity of my own heart, and of the rectitude of my intentions, to pay any regard to whatever he is pleased to call me. Who indeed would be ambitious of his approbation, when he expressly reprobates moderation—that offspring of true wisdom and sound judgment? The welfare of America is what I wish for above any earthly thing. I am fully, firmly, and conscientiously persuaded, that in a reconciliation and union with Great-Britain, on constitutional principles, the welfare of America is only to be found. I am fully, firmly, and conscientiously persuaded, that our author’s scheme of independency and republicanism is big with ruin—with inevitable ruin to America. Against this scheme, therefore, as an honest man, as a friend to human nature, I must and will bear testimony.
Let the spirit, design and motives which are undeniably evident in our respective pamphlets, decide which should be attended to most.
[Page 85]The author of Common Sense is a violent strickler for democracy or republicanism only—every other species of government is reprobated by him as tyrannical. I plead for that constitution which has been formed by the wisdom of ages—is the admiration of mankind—is best adapted to the genius of Britons, and is most friendly to liberty
HE takes pleasure in aggravating every circumstance of our unhappy dispute—would inspire others with the same rage that instigates himself, and would set his fellow-subjects to cutting each others throats: I would most gladly, were it in my power, draw a veil of eternal oblivion over any errors which Great-Britain or the colonies may have fallen into—I would willingly perseade them to mutual harmony and union; since on these their mutual happiness and interest depend.
HE is evidently goaded on by ambition and resentment, to seek for the gratification of those passions in an independent republic here; which would reduce America to the same desperate state with himself: I have no interest to serve but what is common to my countrymen—but what every Ameaican of property is concerned in equally with me.
HE places himself at the head of a party; and spurns from him with the utmost contempt and indignation, all who will not enlist under his banner: I am of no party, but so far as the welfare of America is aimed at; and I believe there are many who aim at this in every party. I have not learnt to pace with such intire acquiesence in [Page 86]the trammels of any party, as not to desert it the moment it deserts the interest of my country.
This, as far as I can know or see, is the true case—let heaven and earth judge between us.
America is far from being yet in a desperate situation. I am confident she may obtain honourable and advantageous terms from Great-Britain. A few years of peace will soon retrieve all her losses. She will rapidly advance to a state of maturity, whereby she may not only repay the parent state amply for all past benefits; but also lay it under the greatest obligations. America, till very lately, has been the happiest country in the universe. Blest with all that Nature could bestow with the profusest bounty, she enjoyed, besides, more liberty, greater privileges than any other land. How painful is it to reflect on these things, and to look forward to the gloomy prospects now before us! But it is not too late to hope that matters may mend. By prudent management, her former happiness may again return; and continue to encrease for ages to come, in a union with the parent fiate.
However distant humanity may wish the period; yet in the rotation of human affairs, a period may arrive, when, (both countries being prepared for it) some terrible disaster, some dreadful convulsion in Great-Britain, may transfer the seat of empire to this western hemisphere—Where the British constitution, like the Phoenix from its parent’s ashes, shall rise with youthful vigour, and shine with redoubled splendor.
But if America should now mistake her real interest—if her sons, infatuated with romantic notions of conquest and empire, ere things are [Page 87]ripe, should adopt this republican’s scheme: They will infalibly destroy this smiling prospect. They will dismember this happy country—make it a scene of blood and slaughter, and entail wretchedness and misery on millions yet unborn.
QUOD DEUS A NOBIS PROCUL AVERTAT.