11 January 1775688

    London Jany 11th 1775

    My very dear friend

    Last night I returned from Bath and Bristol, where I have been to spend a few of the holydays. From the last of which places, I wrote to my friend Mr. Dickinson and yourself: the Letter to you (together with several others on board the same ship, written sometime since) the Capt. (Caldwell who sails in Messers Mackay and Mitchell’s employ) engaged on his arrival to deliver with his own hand.

    Last evening I was regaled with yours of the 3 & 14 of November; James Lovells of the 10, 25, & 28th of October; Dr. Chaunceys of the 21st of October and the 3rd of November; and Oliver Wendells of the 15th of November. To all these, my remembering friends, present my acknowledgment and thanks. Inform them I shall write answers, if the time limited for the sail of this vessel (which is at present fixed for tomorrow morning) is extended.*

    If the many letters, I have sent, come safe to your hands, my friends will see that I am neither less idle, nor less pregnant of my cause, than when I sojourned with them beyond Jordan. My avocations are so many and incessant, that I find but little time that I cannot employ more to the service of my country by attending to men and things here, than by writing my sentiments to those on the other side of the water. But that little time, whenever it occurs, is sacredly dedicated to that correspondence with my Bretheren in America, which is a substantial pleasure of my life. But let my friends in Boston and the Massachusetts be reminded, that my litterary connexions are extended through the Southern Colonies, and that, therefore, when they think themselves forgotten or neglected, my time has been so wholly employed with occurences here, or in transmitting advices to our Southern friends, that I have been denied any opportunity of paying that tribute of gratitude, respect and applause, that my Massachusetts friends may justly claim.

    But as I have wrote to you very constantly and largely upon the subject of our great concerns I must entreat, that those confidential friends, to whom you may show my letters, would consider them as information sent the Brotherhood in general, and in correspondence (by way of return) favor me with their advice and council, for which, as I shall ever stand much in need, so I shall be accordingly gratefull.

    The cause of the Colonies every day grows more popular; that of the ministry more desperate. The merchants are alarmed: the manufacturers are in motion; the artificers and handy craftsmen are in amaze, and the lower ranks of the Community are starving. Petitions are framing in all parts of the kingdom† in favor of their own dear selves; and if America reaps any advantage by this movement, be assured her tribute of gratitude is not due either to merchants or manufacturers. America might sink into bondage and long drag the load of misery and shame, before either of these orders (as a body of men) would feel one generous sentiment, or make one feeble effort—unless immediate and obvious interest prompted that exertion. I say immediate and obvious, for all know, that if the distance is beyond their own nostrils, or clouded by any thing deeper than a cob web shade, they will neither see, nor understand. I speak here of the governing majority; individuals are among them, who have knowledge, sentiment and spirit. But Heaven knows how little, how incredibly little, these noble qualities have influence here.

    There can be no doubt, that the peacefull, spiritless and self-denying warfare, in which the Colonies are now engaged, would yield an ample victory: to be sure not the most glorious and splendid of any on record. But the times of splendor and the parade of glory may de dispensed with, if we can obtain the object of our wishes, by attacks which are truly mock-heroic, and weapons, which are most certainly carnal. My great doubt is, whether oeconomic virtue is a quality deeply engrafted in the human mind, and whether it contains a spirit sharp and active enough to cement and animate any large popular body for any length of time. However, if my Countrymen, after deliberation are convinced, that they can sacredly keep the pure faith of oeconomy, that they can follow the simplicity of their fathers, and what is more, can compell and keep to the ordinance of self-denial their whole household, I will venture to assure them, that they shall obtain a bloodless victory, and be crowned with the most ample success. I am so certain of the truth of what I now say, and that my words are indeed the words of soberness, that I would put my life and my all on the hazard of the trial. Let the non-importation agreements be observed for one year, and this whole kingdom will be in agonies and convulsions. Let the non-exportation be kept at the same time, and this nation must starve—or emigrate to America.

    These are not the hasty opinions of a moment: they are sentiments founded upon enquiry and reflection. And I am convinced of no one truth more strongly, and I have no one judgment (in my own opinion) better founded, than what is above transmitted.‡

    I am thus explicit, because you very well know, that I not only wish the safety, but the glory of my country. I have heard its valour questioned. I have seen its honour touched. Of that valor I have an elevated idea; of that honor I am jealous. As I wish, therefore, the peace, the wellfare and the bloodless deliverance of my native land, I hope to see my Countrymen prudent, frugal, saving oeconomists. But when I shall wish to see them great and glorious,

    “I sure must view them in a nobler field.”689

    Permanent slavery or a full deliverance from their present burdens is the alternative now before America. No other country hath ever yet had any choice, but that of the sword for their emancipation from bondage. America, favored above the nations of antiquity, hath an alternative. If her Children can withstand the blandishments of luxury and the delusions of false pride, they may purchase liberty without it’s price. But if attachments to commercial leaks and onions (an idolatry equally degrading and, in the present case, almost as impious as that of Egypt) have debauched the appetite and blinded all sense, they must soon make their election of the load of slavery, or the sword of blood.

    The ministry are evidently plunged. Every thing bears the mark of distraction. Bute and Mansfield are not less your enemies, and Hutchinson is still the same man. Lord Dartmouth is _____ but America can at this day want no information as to his character. When hypocrisy throws away her mask, credulity must renounce her faith.

    No measures are yet determined upon in the cabinet. Every thing will be done at the meeting of Parliament on the spur of the occasion.

    The nation are 15 in 20, your friends and hearty well-wishers to your cause. The Lords and Commons are what they are, but another character is in principle your adversary, and will never be reconciled to your deliverance, till he sees (what, peradventure, he will not wait long for) a spirit going forth which compells rulers to their duty.

    I shall take care to keep you constantly informed of events as they rise. Very important ones must occur in a short time.

    The staunch friends of Our Country are here in high spirits. I should flatter your national vanity, if I told you all that is said and thought of Americans at this day. But the sentiments of this people are as fluctuating, and sometimes as boisterous, as the ocean.

    I find I shall have no time to write to the friends I mentioned above. Send them, therefore, this Letter to peruse by way of apology.

    My best wishes attend you. Present me to friends and relatives in the bonds of respect and love. In the same bonds continue to hold

    Your Henry Ireton

    PS. I would not have you make public, what is said of Lord Dartmouth, because great men have always some powers to hurt, and we generally find a proneness to revenge is co-equal with abilities to injure. I have wrote you already, if the acts are not repealed I shall be at Philadelphia in May next. I am in fine health and spirits, with many friends.690

    Post PS. Tell Samuel Adams I can scarcely forgive his breach of faith and neglect of me. Tell Mr. Morton, I imagine he does not expect forgiveness. Remember the rule I gave you in my former letters: Print nothing without an absolute necessity and the consent of your father.

    *Since writing the above I have received another letter from Dr Chauncey of the 4th of November, but have not as yet received the two pamphlets. Let him be the first to whom you transmit this letter. I have also receive a very usefull letter from my good friend Nathaniel Appleton. Let him be the next.

    †That of London hath this day past in a very large meeting unanimously. The assembly was larger and more respectable than upon any like occasion. The contents of the petition will not be published, till delivered, which will be on the first day of the setting of Parliament. The draught was much extolled by my informant, who was a member of the meeting.

    ‡January 11th. Having this instant received a letter, from a gentleman of rank and character in this city, which confirms my own opinion, I herewith transmit it to corroborate my own sentiments. You will take care not to publish his name, so as to reach this side [of] the water.