3 October 176883

    Messieurs EDES & GILL,

    Please to insert the following.

    “Warm in my country’s rights and nature’s laws,

    I call forth all our hope in freedom’s cause;

    Assert an empire to ALL belongs,

    And vindicate a world’s long suffer’d wrongs;

    In strains no slave dare sing, nor tyrant hear.”

    THE aggregated judgment of the common people, says an eminent writer, discerns most truly the errors of government, for as much as they are the first to be sure that smart under them. In this only they come to be short sighted; that tho’ they know the diseases, they understand not the remedies; and tho’ good patients, they are ill physicians.”84 What are the present sentiments of the Inhabitants of North America? Discern they not most truly, and smart they not most severely under the errors of government? The disease is known and felt—but where is the remedy, where is the physician? For the people to ask council is deemed treasonable; to assemble themselves to consult is denominated rebellion. Thus would some potentates terrify mankind with a few founding, technical expressions. It has been found, in all ages, very difficult to perswade men, by the most refined court-chicane, out of their reason, and tyrants have ever found it impossible to argue, sooth or frighten the common people out of their feelings. And it is truly strange to hear the arguments and see the parade of some, at this day: One would, from their conduct, be induced to imagine, they thought it the most likely way of dispiriting the people, to render their case irremediable. Certainly such politicians have little studied the volume of nature. A nation, not as yet intirely enervated by luxury, not wholly depressed by slavery, when reduced to despair, are invincible to a proverb.

    After what has been said and wrote, on both sides of the atlantic, upon colony-affairs; after the most perspicuous demonstration of the illegality and ill policy of the measures pursued, against this continent; it would be an affront to the understanding, to attempt setting the matter in a clearer point of view: The meanest capacity must perceive, the remotest peasant, in the wilds of America, must feel the consequences.

    British taxations, suspension of legislatures, and standing armies are but some of the clouds which over-shadow the northern world.—Heaven grant, that a grand constellation of virtues may shine forth with redoubled lustre and enlighten this gloomy hemisphere! If ever there was a time, this is the hour, for Americans to rouze themselves, and exert every ability.—Their all is at hazard, and the die of fate spins doubtful!—In vain, do we talk of magnanimity and heroism, in vain, do we trace a descent from the worthies of the earth, if we inherit not the spirit of our ancestors. Who is he, who boasteth of his patriotism? Has he vanquished luxury and subdued the worldly pride of his heart? Is he not yet drinking the poisonous draught, and rolling the sweet morsel under his tongue?85 He, who cannot conquer the little vanity of his heart, and deny the delicacy of a debauch’d palate, let him lay his hand upon his mouth, and his mouth in the dust. Now is the time for this people to summon every aid human and divine, to exhibit every moral virtue, and call forth every christian grace. The wisdom of the serpent, the innocence of the dove, and the bold, inflexible intrepidity of the lion, with the blessing of GOD, will yet save us from the jaws of destruction.

    Where is the boasted Liberty of Englishmen, if property may be disposed, charters suspended, assemblies dissolved, and every valued right annihilated, at the uncontroulable will of an external power? Does not every man, who feels one etherial spark yet glowing in his bosom, find his indignation kindle, at the bare imagination of these wrongs? What would be our sentiments, were this imagination realized? Did the blood of the ancient Britons swell our veins, did the spirit of our fore-fathers inhabit our breasts, should we hesitate a moment, in preferring death to a miserable existence in bondage? Did we reflect on their toils, their dangers, their fiery trials, the thought would inspire unconquerable courage, unless we are indeed bastards and not sons. Who has the front to ask, wherefore do you complain? Who dares assert every thing, worth living for, is not lost, when a nation is inslaved?—Are not pensioners, stipendiaries, and salary-men (unknown before) hourly multiplying on us, to riot in the spoils of miserable America? Does not every eastern gale waft us some new insect, even of that devouring kind, which eat up every green thing? Is not the bread taken out of the childrens mouths and given unto the Dogs? Are not our estates given to corrupt sycophants, without a design, or even a pretence, of solliciting our assent, and our lives put into the hands of those, whose tender mercies are cruelties? Has not an authority, in a distant land, in the most public manner, proclaimed a right of disposing the all of Americans? In short, what have we to lose, what have we to fear? Are not our distresses more than we can bear; and to finish all, are not our cities, in a time of profound peace, filled with standing armies, to preclude us even from that last solace of the wretched;—to open their mouths in complaint and send forth their cries in bitterness of heart?

    But is there no ray of hope? Is not G. B. inhabited by the children of those renowned barons, who waded thro’ seas of crimson gore to establish their liberty? And will they not allow us their fellow-men to enjoy that freedom, which we claim from nature, which is confirmed by our constitution, and which they pretend so highly to value? Was a tyrant to conquer us, the chains of slavery when opposition would be less useless, might be supportable; but to be shackled by Englishmen, by our equals, is not to be borne!—By the sweat of our brow, we earn the little we possess; from nature, we derive the common rights of man, and by charter we claim the liberties of Britons:—Shall we, dare we, pusillanimously, surrender our birthrights? Can the debt of nature be cancelled,—is the obligation to our fathers discharged,—is the debt we owe posterity paid? Answer me, thou coward! who hidest thyself in the hour of trial.—If there is no reward in this life, no prize of glory in the next, capable of animating thy dastard soul; think and tremble, thou miscreant! at the whips and stripes thy master shall lash thee with on earth, and the flames and scorpions thy second master shall torment thee with, in hell!

    Oh my countrymen! what will our children say, when they read the history of these times, should they find we tamely gave away the most invaluable earthly blessings? As they drag the galling chain, will they not execrate us? If we have any respect for things sacred, any regard to the dearest treasure on earth, if we have one tender sentiment for posterity, if we would not be despised by the whole world, let us in the most open, solemn manner, and with the determined fortitude of a Corsican, sware, We will die, if we cannot live Freemen.86 Be not lulled, my countrymen, with vain imaginations, and idle fancies. To hope for the protection of heaven, without doing our duty, and exerting ourselves as become men, is to mock the Deity: Wherefore had man his reason, if it was not to direct him; wherefore his strength, if it be not his protection?

    To banish folly and luxury, correct vice and immorality, and stand immoveable in the freedom, in which we are free indeed, is eminently the duty of each individual, at this day. When this is done, we may rationally hope for an answer to our prayers; for the whole council of GOD, and the invincible armour of the Almighty. However righteous our cause, we cannot, in this period of the world, expect a miraculous salvation. Heaven will undoubtedly assist us, if we act like men; but to expect protection from above, while we are enervated by luxury, and slothful in the exertion of those abilities with which we are indued, is an expectation vain and foolish. With the smiles of heaven, virtue, unanimity and firmness, will insure success; while we have equity, justice, and GOD on our side, tyranny, spiritual or temporal, shall never ride triumphant in a land inhabited by ENGLISHMEN.

    “Avert it heaven! you love the brave,

    You hate the treach’rous, willing slave,

    The self-devoted head.

    Nor shall an hireling’s voice convey

    That sacred prize to lawless sway,

    For which a nation bled.

    Vain prayer, the coward’s weak resource!

    Directing reason, active force,

    Propitious heaven bestows.

    But ne’er shall flame the thund’ring sky,

    To aid the trembling herd that fly

    Before the weaker foes.

    In names there dwell no magick charms,

    The British virtues, British arms

    Unloos’d our father’s bands:

    Say, Greece and Rome! If these should fail,

    What names, what ancestors avail,

    To save a sinking land?87