28 January 1775708

    Jany 28. 1775


    When I consider the present sittuation of our Publick affairs, I compare them with that of Rome and the Free States of Greece, just before they lost their liberty. It gives me very melancholy Ideas. Philip of Macedon, before he could conquer that brave free people of Greece, he introduced Luxury, Venality, and dissipation among them, and by corrupting their Leaders and Orators in their Assemblys by Money, he was enabled to conquer that brave people. And Julius Caesar by the same methods, laid the foundation for the destruction of the liberties of Rome, and the example of Curio, a Roman senator, who oposed him with great apearance of Patriotism, and was afterwards among the keenest of his friends, may shew us what we have to fear, from the inumerable Posts and Pensions, that now exist among us. To get the better of his Patriotism, it cost Caesar more than £400,000. And that brave people who whilst they continued free were unconquerable, were so dispirited in a few years after they lost their liberties, that the Senate itself in the Reign of Tiberius, the second Prince from Caesar, durst not make any resolve, without previously knowing the commands of the Prince, and in Caligula’s time (his imediate successor) they were so far degenerated from brave Free men to Brutes, that they durst not oppose his making his Horse a Consul.

    Our sittuation is such, that our only safety depends upon our Fleet. I was with that great Man the late Lord Stair, when Ambassador at Paris, and he was my relation, I often had the honour of conversing with him, at home, after his return from Paris.709 And as his love to his country was sincere, when Mr. Robert Walpole, cajoled by Cardinal Fleury, to a neglect of the national trade, he wated upon the King and told him, that by neglecting trade his Minister was sacrificing him and the Nation to France, for said he, if by the loss of our Trade, our sailors are not double the number of those of France, we are undone, and the King of France can make us a Province to France, when he pleases, as our Fleet cant all be in one place, and the invasion from France may be from different Ports of France, and our Army compared to that of France is a nothing.

    Now let us consider the sittuation of our trade at the present. Our chief trade lies with America. By our breaking with them, the number of our sailors will be decreased the one half of what they are, as I am told from Merchants, and instead of having the assistance of America, we shall be at War with them, and our Troops and Navy will be employed to destroy the very people by whose assistance and friendship we may be the greatest Nation in Europe. We can have from thence, all sorts of Naval stores, which costs us near two millions a year, to the northern powers of Europe. And from America we should have them in exchange for our manufactures, and in a few years when that large Continent is better peopled, we should be furnished with Wines, Raw Silk and Fruits &c from thence, which costs us at present, more than our naval stores, so that by a breach with America, we not only lose all these advantages and their Assistance against our enemies, but we likewise deprive Manufacturers at home of bread, and force the Americans to take what they wanted from Great Brittain, from France and Holland. And indeed had I been asleep for some years past, I should have thought that some late Acts of Parliament, had taken their rise at the court of Versailles, as I am afraid they must have consequences big with the destruction of the Brittish empire, and may probably end in our becoming a Province of France, when ever that ambitious nation, find our Fleet and Army, engaged to destroy our own strength, by attacking our own Collonys, and I believe nobody doubts of their taking hold of that opportunity, when ever it is in their power, and we may consider wether it is better for us to continue as we are, or to be treated by France as the Island of Corsica now is.

    I was amazed some days ago, to hear of a speech in the house of Commons mentioning the Merchanets of Great Brittain, as not to be regarded though they should all concur in Pettitions and speaking of the landed interest, as what had no connection with Trade. The Gentleman who made this speech, I have heard spoken of as a man of sense, and yet there is no mathematical proposition clearer than this, by Trade this nation is become one of the most powerful in the World, and by losing its trade it would dwindle as to nothing, with regard to the rest of the powers of Europe, and the landed interest would fall to below a half of what it now pays, and the number of inhabitants would decrease a one half, and upon the number of inhabitants, the power and riches of any country depends.

    I have never heard that the inhabitants of America desired any more from Great Brittain, than to continue in possession of what they have possessed for 200 years past, and what their Charters entittled them to, which are granted by the Crown, and which the parlement have virtualy confirmed more than once, and I can’t see how it can consist with the honour of the Mother Country, to break through these Charters and priviledges. The Latin inhabitants of Italy, were long the Allies of Rome, they thought themselves entitled to the priviledges of Roman Cittazens. The Romans refused them that priviledge, which occasioned a long and bloody War. Afterwards the Romans granted their desire, and never afterwards attempted to deprive them of these priviledges. The case of the Americans is much stronger in their favour. They are our bretheren, and were indued by the Charters and priviledges granted them, to attempt to settlement at the risk of their lives and fortunes in a Wilderness, and would it be fair and honourable, for their mother country to break through the Charters and priviledges they have granted them. And indeed had no priviledges been granted them, it would be the interest of Great Brittain, to give them all they ask; for no nation can be great under an Arbitrary and despotick Power. And a very great author observes Arbitrary power is political damnation, and particularly a trading nation, and therefore I hope there may be some real friends about his Majesty, who may convince him, that entering into a War with America must destroy the greatest Bulwark for his and the national safety, and that all attempts to introduce Arbitrary power and Popery, to any part of the brittish dominions, is contrary to the intentions of the act of settlement, in favour of the Royal Family.

    I bore Arms under his Grace the Duke of Argyle, in 1745, against the Rebels in Scotland, at the head of a company of 52 volunteers, which besides of venturing my life and fortune, it cost me a considerable sum of money. I thought I fought against Popery and slavery, and should be sorry to live so long to see any encouragement given to these things I fought against, or to see any measures followed that may occasion jealousy in the minds of his Majestys subjects.

    As I have no concern with any party, I am too Old to have any view of Ambition, and don’t so much as expect repayment of the money I expended in the service of the Crown, and therefore have no view by this letter, but an honest wish to see the Eyes of my Countrymen opened, to perceive that the loss of America, may in all probability prove the destruction of Great Brittain, and therefore to induce them to prevent a War with America.

    I am


    Your most Humble Servant,

    Hugh Baillie

    Doctor of Laws

    P.S. I believe there never was a time, when there was a better correspondence between a great majority in parlement and the ministry than now, and it puts me in mind of what Cicero observes with regard to the sittuation of Rome in his time. Says he, you must either speak and vote with the Triumverate Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus or through710 away your speeches and votes, by speaking or voting against them. We seem to be galoping into Arbitrary power and we won’t find it easy to get another Prince of Orange to bring us out of danger.