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Josiah Tucker, Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects 
Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects, 2nd edition (Glocester: R. Raikes, 1774).
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Table of Contents
THE first of these Pieces was never printed before, and is now published as a Kind of Introduction to those that follow, or as a Sort of Basis on which the succeeding Arguments are chiefly founded. The Piece itself arose from a Correspondence in the Year 1758, with a Gentleman of North-Britain, eminently distinguished in the Republic of Letters. Tho’ I cannot boast that I had the Honour of making the Gentleman a declared Convert, yet I can say, and prove likewise, that in his Publications since our Correspondence, he has wrote, and reasoned, as if he was a Convert.
The second Tract was first published in the Year 1763, just after the Conclusion of the War. At that Juncture the Mob and the News-Writers were so enraged at the Thoughts of Peace, that the Pamphlet lay neglected above a Year in the Hands of the Publisher, and had very few Readers. But the Approbation which it has since met with, especially from Abroad, where Premiums have been instituted for Dissertations on a like Plan, induce me to hope that Prejudices begin to wear off, and that it hath a better Chance now than it had before of being read with Candour, and attended to with Impartiality. Indeed it was necessary for me to publish it in this Collection, because of the Use which will be made of the same Train of Arguments in the fourth of these Tracts, when we come to shew the true Interests of Great-Britain with respect to the Colonies, and the only Means of living with them on Terms of Harmony and Friendship.
One Thing more I have to say on this Head: The Tract sets forth, that it is the Fragment of a greater Work. This Work was undertaken at the Desire of Dr. Hayter, then Lord Bishop of Norwich, and Preceptor to the Prince of Wales, his present Majesty. His Lordship’s Design was to put into the Hands of his Royal Pupil such a Treatise as would convey both clear, and comprehensive Ideas on the Subject of National Commerce, freed from the narrow Conceptions of ignorant, or the sinister Views of crafty and designing Men; and my honoured Friend, and revered Diocesan, the late Lord Bishop of Bristol, Dr. Conybeare, was pleased to recommend me, as a Person not altogether unqualified to write on such a Subject. I therefore entered upon the Work with all imaginable Alacrity, and intended to intitule my Performance, The Elements of Commerce, and Theory of Taxes. But I had not made a great Progress, before I discovered that such a Work was by no Means proper to be sheltered under the Protection of a Royal Patronage, on account of the many Jealousies to which it was liable, and the Cavils which might be raised against it. In fact, I soon found that there was scarcely a Step I could take, but would bring to Light some glaring Absurdity, which Length of Time had rendered sacred, and which the Multitude would have been taught to contend for, as if their All was at Stake: Scarce a Proposal could I make for introducing a free, generous, and impartial System of national Commerce, but it had such Numbers of popular Errors to combat, as would have excited loud Clamours, and fierce Opposition; and, therefore, as the Herd of Mock-Patriots are ever on the Watch to seize on all Opportunities of inflaming the Populace by Misrepresentations, and false Alarms; and as the People are too apt to swallow every idle Tale of this Sort, I determined to give no Occasion to those who continually seek Occasion. In short, as I perceived I could not serve my Prince, by a liberal and unrestrained Discussion of the Points relative to these Matters, I deemed it the better Part to decline the Undertaking, rather than do any Thing under the Sanction of his Patronage, which might disserve him in the Eyes of others: For these Reasons I laid the Scheme aside; and if ever I should resume, and complete it, the Work shall appear without any Patronage, Profection, or Dedication whatever.
The third Tract is, A Letter from a Merchant in London to his Nephew in America. This was first printed in the Year 1766, towards the Close of the Debate about the Stamp Act; and the Character which it assumes, is not altogether fictitious:—For an elderly Gentleman, long versed in the North-American Trade, and perfectly acquainted with all the Wiles there practised both during Peace, and in Time of War, and who had Relations settled in that Part of the World, desired me to write on this Subject, and to give the Treatise that Turn of Expression, and Air of Authority, which would not be unbecoming an old Man to his dependent Relation. He furnished me with some curious Materials, and remarkable Anecdotes, concerning the Smuggling Trade which the Americans carried on with the French and Spaniards during the Heat of the War, even to the supplying them with Ships, and naval and military Stores, for destroying the Trade and Shipping of the Mother-Country, and even in Defiance of Mr. Secretary Pitt’s circular Letter to the Governors of the Provinces, forbidding such an infamous Trafic, and traiterous Correspondence. But if I was obliged to the old Gentleman in these Respects, my Argument was a Sufferer by him in another: For tho’ he admitted, that the Colonies were grown ungovernable; tho’ he himself declared, from his own Experience, that we gave a better Price for their Iron, Hemp, Flax-Seed, Skins, Furs, Lumber, and most other Articles, than they could find in any other Part of Europe; and that these Colonies took nothing scarcely from us in Return, but what it was their Interest to buy, even supposing them as independent of Great-Britain, as the States of Holland, or any other People; and tho’ he evidently saw, that the longer the Connection subsisted between the Colonies and the Mother-Country, the more heavy would the Burdens grow upon the latter, and the greater would be the Opportunities for the artful and designing Men of both Countries to irritate and inflame the giddy, unthinking Populace; tho’ he admitted, I say, and allowed all these Premises, he could not come at the Conclusion: For he startled as much at the Idea of a Separation, as if he had seen a Spectre! And the Notion of parting with the Colonies entirely, and then making Leagues of Friendship with them as with so many independent States, was too enlarged an Idea for a Mind wholly occupied within the narrow Circle of Trade, and a Stranger to the Revolutions of States and Empires, thoroughly to comprehend, much less to digest. In Consequence of this, I was obliged, as the Reader will see towards the Conclusion, to give the Argument such a Turn, as expressed rather a casual Threat to separate, than a settled Project of doing it.
Now, to supply this Defect, or rather to make the Conclusion to correspond with the Premises, I have added a fourth Tract, wherein I attempt to shew what is the true Interest of Great-Britain in regard to the Colonies; and to explain the only Means of living with them on Terms of mutual Satisfaction and Friendship. Referring therefore the Reader to the Tract itself, I shall only say at present, that the more we familiarize ourselves to the Idea of a Separation, the less surprized, and the more prepared we shall be whenever that Event shall happen. For that it will, and must happen, one Day or other, is the Opinion of almost every Man,—unless indeed we except the extraordinary Notion of the celebrated Dr. Franklin, and of a few other exotic Patriots and Politicians, who are pleased to think, that the Seat of Government ought to be transferred from hence to America; in Consequence of which Translation, this little Spot will necessarily become a Province of that vast and mighty Empire. Surely every home-born Englishman will readily prefer a Separation, even a speedy Separation, to such an Union as this; and yet, alas! the Time is approaching, when there can be no other Alternative.[Back to Table of Contents]
FOUR TRACTS, On POLITICAL and COMMERCIAL SUBJECTS.[Back to Table of Contents]
The great Question resolved, Whether a rich Country can stand a Competition with a poor Country (of equal natural Advantages) in raising of Provisions, and Cheapness of Manufactures?—With suitable Inferences and Deductions.
IT has been a Notion universally received, That Trade and Manufactures, if left at full Liberty, will always descend from a richer to a poorer State; somewhat in the same Manner as a Stream of Water falls from higher to lower Grounds; or as a Current of Air rushes from a heavier to a lighter Part of the Atmosphere, in order to restore the Equilibrium. It is likewise inferred, very consistently with this first Principle, that when the poor Country, in Process of Time, and by this Influx of Trade and Manufactures, is become relatively richer, the Course of Traffic will turn again: So that by attending to this Change, you may discover the comparative Riches or Poverty of each particular Place or Country.
The Reasons usually assigned for this Migration, or rather Circulation of Industry and Commerce, are the following, viz. In rich Countries, where Money is Plenty, a greater Quantity thereof is given for all the Articles of Food, Raiment, and Dwelling: Whereas in poor Countries, where Money is scarce, a lesser Quantity of it is made to serve in procuring the like Necessaries of Life, and in paying the Wages of the Shepherd, the Plowman, the Artificer, and Manufacturer. The Inference from all which is, that Provisions are raised, and Goods manufactured much cheaper in poor Countries than in rich ones; and therefore every poor Country, if a near Neighbour to a rich one, and if there is an easy and commodious Communication between them, must unavoidably get the Trade from it,—were Trade to be left at Liberty to take its natural Course. Nor will this Increase of Agriculture and Manufactures, whereby the richer Country is drained, and the poorer proportionably enriched, be stopped or prevented, ’till Things are brought to a perfect Level, or the Tide of Wealth begins to turn the other Way.
Now, according to this Train of Reasoning, one alarming and obvious Consequence must necessarily follow, viz. That the Provisions and Manufactures of a rich Country could never find a Vent in a poor one, on Account of the higher Value, or dearer Price set upon them: Whereas those of a poor Country would always find a Vent in a rich one, because they would be afforded the cheapest at the common Market.
This being the Case, can it be denied, that every poor Country is the natural and unavoidable Enemy of a rich one; especially if it should happen to be adjoining to it? And are not we sure beforehand, that it will never cease from draining it of its Trade and Commerce, Industry and Manufactures, ’till it has reduced it, at least so far as to be on a Level and Equality with itself? Therefore the rich Country, if it regards its own Interest, is obliged by a Kind of Self-defence to make War upon the poor one, and to endeavour to extirpate all its Inhabitants, in order to maintain itself in statu quo, or to prevent the fatal Consequences of losing its present Influence, Trade and Riches. For little less than a total Extirpation can be sufficient to guard against the Evils to be feared from this dangerous Rival, while it is suffered to exist.
But is this indeed the Case?—One would not willingly run Counter to the settled Notions of Mankind; and yet one ought not to make a Sacrifice of Truth to mere Numbers, and the Authority of Opinion; especially if it should appear, that these are Truths of great Moment to the Welfare of Society. Therefore, with a becoming Deference, may it not here be asked,—Can you suppose, that Divine Providence has really constituted the Order of Things in such a Sort, as to make the Rule of national Self preservation to be inconsistent with the fundamental Principle of universal Benevolence, and the doing as we would be done by? For my Part, I must confess, I never could conceive that an all-wife, just, and benevolent Being would contrive one Part of his Plan to be so contradictory to the other, as here supposed;—that is, would lay us under one Obligation as to Morals, and another as to Trade; or, in short, make that to be our Duty, which is not, upon the whole, and generally speaking (even without the Consideration of a future State) our Interest likewise.
Therefore I conclude a priori, that there must be some Flaw or other in the preceding Arguments, plausible as they seem, and great as they are upon the Foot of human Authority. For though the Appearance of Things at first Sight makes for this Conclusion, viz. “That poor Countries must inevitably draw away the Trade from rich ones, and consequently impoverish them,” the Fact itself cannot be so. But leaving all Arguments of this Sort, as being perhaps too metaphysical for common Use, let us have Recourse to others, wherein we may be assisted by daily Experience and Observation.
Suppose therefore England and Scotland to be two contiguous, independant Kingdoms, equal in Size, Situation, and all natural Advantages; suppose likewise, that the Numbers of People in both were nearly equal; but that England had acquired Twenty Millions of current Specie, and Scotland had only a tenth Part of that Sum, viz.Two Millions: The Question now is, Whether England will be able to support itself in its superior Influence, Wealth, and Credit? Or be continually on the Decline in Trade and Manufactures, ’till it is sunk into a Parity with Scotland; so that the current Specie of both Nations will be brought to be just the same, viz Eleven Millions each.
Now, to resolve this Question in a satisfactory Manner, a previous Enquiry should be set on Foot, viz. How came England to acquire this great Surplus of Wealth? And by what Means was it accumulated?—If in the Way of Idleness, it certainly cannot retain it long; and England will again become poor;—perhaps so poor as to be little better than Hungary or Poland: But if by a Course of regular and universal Industry, the same Means, which obtained the Wealth at first, will, if pursued certainly preserve it, and even add thereto: So that England need not entertain any Jealousy against the Improvements and Manufactures of Scotland;—and on the other Hand, Scotland without hurting England, will likewise increase in Trade, and be benefited both by its Example, and its Riches.
But as these are only general Assertions, let us now endeavour to support them by an Induction of particular Cases.[Back to Table of Contents]
ENGLAND has acquired 20,000,000l. of Specie in the Way of National Idleness, viz. Either by Discoveries of very rich Mines of Gold and Silver,—or by successful Privateering and making Captures of Plate Ships,—or by the Trade of Jewels, and vending them to foreign Nations for vast Sums of Money,—or, in short, by any other conceivable Method, wherein (universal Industry and Application being out of the Question) very few Hands were employed in getting this Mass of Wealth (and they only by Fits and Starts, not constantly)—and fewer still are supposed to retain what is gotten.
According to this State of the Case, it seems evidently to follow, That the Provisions and Manufactures of such a Country would bear a most enormous Price, while this Flush of Money lasted; and that for the two following Reasons: 1st. A people enriched by such improper Means as these, would not know the real Value of Money, but would give any Price that was asked; their superior Folly and Extravagance being the only Evidence which they could produce of their superior Riches. 2dly. At the same Time that Provisions and Manufactures would bear such an excessive Price, the Quantity thereof raised or made within the Kingdom would be less than ever; inasmuch as the Cart, and the Plow, the Anvil, the Wheel, and the Loom, would certainly be laid aside for these quicker and easier Arts of getting rich, and becoming fine Gentlemen and Ladies; because all Persons, whether Male or Female, would endeavour to put themselves in Fortune’s Way, and hope to catch as much as they could of this golden Shower. Hence the Number of Coaches, Post-Chaises, and all other Vehicles of Pleasure, would prodigiously increase; while the usual Sets of Farmer’s Carts and Waggons proportionably decreased: The Sons of lower Tradesmen and Labourers would be converted into spruce, powdered Footmen; and that robust Breed, which used to supply the Calls for laborious Occupations, and common Manufactures, would turn off to commence Barbers and Hair-Dressers, Dancing Masters, Players, Fidlers, Pimps, and Gamesters. As to the Female Sex, it is no difficult Matter to foresee, what would be the Fate of the younger, the more sprightly, and pleasing Part among them. In short, the whole People would take a new Turn; and while Agriculture, and the ordinary mechanic Trades became shamefully neglected, the Professions which subsist by procuring Amusements and Diversions, and exhibiting Allurements and Temptations, would be amazingly increased,—and indeed for a Time enriched; so that from being a Nation of Bees producing Honey, they would become a Nation of Drones to eat it up. In such a Case certain it is, that their industrious Neighbours would soon drain them of this Quantity of Specie,—and not only drain them, so far as to reduce them to a Level with the poor Country, but also sink them into the lowest State of abject Poverty. Perhaps indeed some few of the Inhabitants, being naturally Misers, and foreseeing the general Poverty that was coming upon the Country, would make the more ample Provision for themselves; and, by feeding the Vices, and administering to the Follies and Extravagances of others, would amass and engross great Estates. Therefore when such a Nation came to awake out of this gilded Dream, it would find itself to be much in the same Circumstances of pretended Wealth, but real Poverty, as the Spaniards and Portuguese are at present. Nay, when their Mines, or their former Resources of Gold and Silver, came to fail them, they would really be in a much worse; and their Condition would then approach the nearest of any Thing we can now conceive, to that of Baron and Vassal in Poland and Hungary, or to Planter and Slave in the West-Indies.
According to this System of Reasoning, the Expedition in the late*Spanish War against Carthagena must have been ill-judged in every Particular; for if the End in View had been only to open a Market for British Manufactures, this End was answered, as far as an hostile Method could have answered a commercial End, by taking the Forts at the Mouth of the Haven, and therefore the Attempt ought not to have been pushed any farther:—But if the Design was to destroy the Fortifications round Carthagena, and to give up the Town to the Plunder of the Soldiers, and then to have deserted, or to have restored it to its former Owners at the Conclusion of the War (for surely it would have been the very Height of Madness in us to have been at the Expence of keeping it)—this was an End by no Means worthy of national Attention, and not at all adequate to the Blood and Treasure it must have cost,—even tho’ the Project had succeeded. But if the real Plan was to open a Way to the Spanish Mines by taking the Port or Entrance into them, and so to get rich all at once without Trade or Industry,—this Scheme would have been the most fatal and destructive of any, had not Providence kindly interposed by defeating it. For if we had been victorious, and had vanquished the Spaniards, as they formerly vanquished the Indian Inhabitants, our Fate and Punishment would have been by this Time similar to theirs;—Pride elated with imaginary Wealth, and abject Poverty without Resource.
Hence likewise we may discern the Weakness of one Argument (indeed the only popular one) sometimes insisted on with more Warmth than Judgment in Favour of a general Naturalization, viz. That it would induce such rich Foreigners as are not engaged in any Trade or Business, and consequently would not interfere with any of the Natives, to come and spend their Fortunes in this Land of Liberty. [What is truly to be hoped from a general Naturalization, is, that it would induce industrious and ingenious Foreigners, Men who have their Fortunes yet to make, to come, and enrich the Country at the same Time that they are enriching themselves by their superior Industry, Ingenuity, and other good Qualities.] For as to idle Foreigners, living on the Income of their great Estates,—pray, of what national Advantage would they be to us? What, I say, even supposing we could persuade all the wealthy Foreigners of this Class throughout the World to come and reside in England? The real Fact is, that no other Consequences could ensue, but that this Nation, instead of being chiefly composed of substantial Yeomen, and Farmers, creditable Manufacturers, and opulent Merchants, would then become a Nation of Gentlemen and Ladies on the one Side, and of Footmen and Grooms, Ladies’ Women, and Laundresses, and such like Dependants, on the other. In short, we have Proofs enough already of this Matter, now before our Eyes, and in our own Kingdom, if we will but make the proper Use of them. For Example, the Towns of Birmingham, Leeds, Halifax, Manchester, &c. &c. being inhabited in a Manner altogether by Tradesmen and Manufacturers, are some of the richest and most flourishing in the Kingdom: Whereas the City of York, and such other Places as seem to be more particularly set apart for the Residence of Persons who live upon their Fortunes, are not without evident Marks of Poverty and Decay.
Hence also we come to the true Reason, why the City of Edinburgh, contrary to the Fears and Apprehensions of its Inhabitants, has thriven and flourished more since the Union than it did before, viz. It has lost the Residence of the Court and Parliament, and has got in its Stead, Commerce and Manufactures; that is, it has exchanged Idleness for Industry: And were the Court and Parliament of Ireland to leave Dublin by Virtue of an Union with Great-Britain, the same good Consequences would certainly follow.[Back to Table of Contents]
ENGLAND has acquired Twenty Millions of Specie in the Way of general Industry, viz. By exciting the Ingenuity and Activity of its People, and giving them a free Scope without any Exclusion, Confinement, or Monopoly;—by annexing Burdens to Celibacy, and Honours and Privileges to the married State;—by constituting such Laws, as diffuse the Wealth of the Parents more equally among the Children, than the present Laws of Europe generally do;—by modelling the Taxes in such a Manner, that all Things hurtful to the Public Good shall be rendered proportionably dear, and placed beyond the Reach of the Multitude; whereas such Things as are necessary, or useful, shall be proportionably encouraged; and, in short, by every other conceivable Method, whereby the Drones of Society may be converted into Bees, and the Bees be prevented from degenerating back into Drones.
Therefore, as we are to suppose, that by such Means as these, the South-Britons have accumulated 20,000,000l. in Specie, while the North-Britons have no more than 2,000,000l.: The Question now is, Which of these two Nations can afford to raise Provisions, and sell their Manufactures on the cheapest Terms? “Supposing that both did their utmost to rival one another, and that Trade and Manufactures were left at Liberty to take their own Course, according as Cheapness or Interest directed them.”
Now, on the Side of the poorer Nation, it is alledged, That seeing it hath much less Money, and yet is equal in Size, Situation, and other natural Advantages, equal also in Numbers of People, and those equally willing to be diligent and industrious; it cannot be but that such a Country must have a manifest Advantage over the rich one in Point of its parsimonious Way of Living, low Wages, and consequently cheap Manufactures.
On the contrary, the rich Country hath the following Advantages which will more than counter-ballance any Disadvantage that may arise from the foregoing Articles, viz.
1st. As the richer Country hath acquired its superior Wealth by a general Application, and long Habits of Industry, it is therefore in actual Possession of an established Trade and Credit, large Correspondences, experienced Agents and Factors, commodious Shops, Work-Houses, Magazines, &c. also a great Variety of the best Tools and Implements in the various Kinds of Manufactures, and Engines for abridging Labour;—add to these good Roads, Canals, and other artificial Communications; Quays, Docks, Wharfs, and Piers; Numbers of Ships, good Pilots, and trained Sailors:—And in respect to Husbandry and Agriculture, it is likewise in Possession of good Enclosures, Drains, Waterings, artificial Graffes, great Stocks, and consequently the greater Plenty of Manures; also a great Variety of Plows, Harrows, &c. suited to the different Soils; and in short of every other superior Method of Husbandry arising from long Experience, various and expensive Trials. Whereas the poor Country has, for the most Part, all these Things to seek after and procure.—Therefore what the Poet observed to be true in a private Sense, is true also in a public and commercial one, viz.
2dly. The richer Country is not only in Possession of the Things already made and settled, but also of superior Skill and Knowledge (acquired by long Habit and Experience) for inventing and making of more. The Importance of this will appear the greater, when we consider, that no Man can pretend to set Bounds to the Progress that may yet be made both in Agriculture and Manufactures; for who can take upon him to affirm, that our Children cannot as far exceed us as we have exceeded our Gothic Forefathers? And is it not much more natural and reasonable to suppose, that we are rather at the Beginning only, and just got within the Threshold, than that we are arrived at the ne plus ultra of useful Discoveries? Now, if so, the poorer Country, however willing to learn, cannot be supposed to be capable of making the same Progress in Learning with the Rich, for want of equal Means of Instruction, equally good Models and Examples;—and therefore, tho’ both may be improving every Day, yet the practical Knowledge of the poorer in Agriculture and Manufactures will always be found to keep at a respectful Distance behind that of the richer Country.
3dly. The richer Country is not only more knowing, but is also more able than the other to make further Improvements, by laying out large Sums of Money in the Prosecution of the intended Plan. Whereas the poor Country has here again the Mortification to find, that the Res angusta domi is in many Cases an insuperable Bar to its Rise and Advancement: And this Circumstance deserves the more Regard as it is a known Fact and trite Observation, that very few great and extensive Projects were ever brought to bear at first setting out; and that a vast deal of Money must be sunk, and many Years be elapsed, before they are capable of making any Returns. In short, the Inhabitants of a poor Country, who, according to the vulgar Phrase, generally live from Hand to Mouth, dare not make such costly Experiments, or embark in such expensive and long-winded Undertakings, as the Inhabitants of a rich Country can attempt, and execute with Ease.
4thly. The higher Wages of the rich Country, and the greater Scope and Encouragement given for the Exertion of Genius, Industry, and Ambition, will naturally determine a great many Men of Spirit and Enterprize to forsake their own poor Country, and settle in the richer; so that the one will always drain the other of the Flower of its Inhabitants: Whereas there are not the same Temptations for the best Hands and Artists of a rich Country to forsake the best Pay, and settle in a poor one.—Though for Argument’s Sake, it was allowed at the Beginning, that the Numbers of People in these two adjoining States were just equal, yet certain it is, that the Thing itself could never have so happened,—the richer Country being always endowed with the attractive Quality of the Loadstone, and the poor one with the repelling: And therefore, seeing that the poorer Country must necessarily be the least peopled (if there is a free Intercourse between them) the Consequence would be, that in several Districts, and in many Instances, it would be impossible for certain Trades even to subsist; because the Scarcity and Poverty of the Inhabitants would not afford a sufficient Number of Customers to frequent the Shop, or to take off the Goods of the Manufacturer.
5thly. In the richer Country, where the Demands are great and constant, every Manufacture that requires various Processes, and is composed of different Parts, is accordingly divided and subdivided into separate and distinct Branches; whereby each Person becomes more expert, and also more expeditious in the particular Part assigned him. Whereas in a poor Country, the same Person is obliged by Necessity, and for the Sake of getting a bare Subsistence, to undertake such different Branches, as prevent him from excelling, or being expeditious in any. In such a Case, Is it not much cheaper to give 2s. 6d. a Day in the rich Country to the nimble and adroit Artist, than it is to give only 6d. in the poor one, to the tedious, aukward Bungler?
6thly. As the richer Country has the greater Number of rival Tradesmen, and those more quick and dexterous, the Goods of such a Country have not only the Advantages arising from Quickness and Dexterity, but also will be afforded much the cheaper on Account of the Emulation of so many Rivals and Competitors. Whereas in a poor Country, it is very easy for one rich, over-grown Tradesman to monopolize the whole Trade to himself, and consequently to set his own Price upon the Goods, as he knows that there are none who dare contend with him in Point of Fortune;—or, what is full as bad, the like Consequences will follow where the Numbers of the Wealthy are so few, that they can combine together whenever they will, to prey upon the Public.
7thly. and lastly. In the rich Country, the Superiority of the Capital, and the low Interest of Money, will insure the vending of all Goods on the cheapest Terms; because a Man of 2000l. Capital can certainly afford to give the best Wages to the best Workmen, and yet be able to sell the Produce or Manufacture of such Workmen at a much cheaper Rate than he who has only a Capital of 200l. For if the one gets only 10l. per Cent. per Ann. for his Money, that will bring him an Income of 200l. a Year; a Sum very sufficient to live with Credit and Reputation in the Rank of a Tradesman; and considerably more than double to what he would have received in the Way of common Interest, even if lent at 4l. and an Half per Cent. Whereas, the other with his poor Capital of 200l. must get a Profit of at least 20l. per Cent. in order to have an Income just above the Degree of a common Journeyman.—Not to mention, that Men of superior Capitals will always command the Market in buying the raw Materials at the best Hand; and command it also in another View, viz. by being able to give longer Credit to their Dealers and Customers.—So much as to the reasoning Part of this Subject: Let us now examine how stand the Facts.
And here it must be premised, that were a greater Quantity of Specie to enhance the Price of Provisions and Manufactures in the Manner usually supposed, the Consequence would be, that all Goods whatever would be so much the dearer in a rich Country, compared with a poor one, as there had been different Sets of People employed, and greater Wages paid in making them. For the Argument proceeds thus,—The more Labour, the more Wages;—the more Wages, the more Money;—the more Money paid for making them, the dearer the Goods must come to Market: And yet the Fact itself is quite the Reverse of this seemingly just Conclusion. For it may be laid down as a general Proposition, which very seldom fails, That operose or complicated Manufactures are cheapest in rich countries;—and raw Materials in poor ones: And therefore in Proportion as any Commodity approaches to one, or other of these Extremes, in that Proportion it will be found to be cheaper, or dearer in a rich, or a poor Country.
The raising of Corn, for Instance, employs a considerable Number of Hands, has various Processes, takes up a great deal of Time, and is attended with great Expence. If so, pray, Where is Corn the cheapest? Why, Corn is raised as cheap in England as in Scotland, if not cheaper. Moreover, tho’ Wages are very high in Hertfordshire, as being in the Neighbourhood of London, and the Lands dear, and far from being naturally good; yet the Price of good Wheat is certainly as cheap in Hertfordshire as in Wales, and sometimes much cheaper; tho’ the Wages in Wales are low, the Rents easy, and the Lands in many Places sufficiently rich and fertile, and the Land-Tax extremely light.
The raising Garden-Stuff, and all Sorts of Produce fit for the Kitchen is another Instance; for this likewise is an expensive and operose Affair, requiring great Skill and Judgment. But the Price of Garden Stuff is prodigiously sunk to what it was in former Times; and I much question, whether any Town of Note in Scotland can now vie with the common Markets of London in that Respect. Certain it is, that formerly, viz. about 100 Years ago, a Cabbage would have cost 3d. in London, when London was not near so rich as it is now, which at present may be bought for a Halfpenny. And were you to proceed on to Colliflowers, Asparagus, Broccoli, Melons, Cucumbers, and all Sorts of the choicer Wall Fruits, you would find the Disproportions still greater. But waving such Exotics, even the common Articles of Pease and Beans, Sallads, Onions, Carrots, Parsneps, and Turneps, are considerably cheaper than ever they were known to be in former Times; tho’ the Rent of Garden Grounds, and Wages of Journeymen Gardeners, are a great deal higher.
On the contrary, the raising both of small and large Cattle is a more simple Affair, and doth not employ near so many Hands, as the raising of Corn or Garden-Stuff: Therefore you will find that small and large Cattle are much cheaper in poor Countries than in rich ones; and that the Produce of such Cattle, for the same Reason, viz. Milk, Wool, and Hair, also the Flesh, Skins, Horns, and Hides, are cheaper likewise. As to Milk, this being made into Butter or Cheese by a short and single Process, and the Intervention of only one Female Servant, is indeed cheaper in the poorer Country. But were Butter and Cheese to have required a more intricate Operation, and to have taken up as much Time, and employed as many Hands in the manufacturing of them, as Wool, or Leather, it might be greatly questioned whether the richer Country would not have produced Butter and Cheese at a cheaper Rate than the poor one. And what countenances this Suspicion is, that in the Case of Wool, Hair, Horns, and Hides, when manufactured into Cloth, Hair Cloths, Hornery-Ware, and Leather, the richer Country hath generally the Advantage: Indeed, if there are some Exceptions, they are extremely few. And it is an indisputable Fact at this Day, that there are more Woollen Cloths, Stuffs, Serges, &c. more Horn Combs, Ink-Horns, Powder-Flasks, Lanthorns, &c. more Leather for Shoes and Boots, sent by the Manufacturers of England into Scotland, than by those of Scotland into England.
Wood, or Timber, is another Instance in Point: For Timber may be reckoned to be in a great Degree the spontaneous Production of Nature, and therefore Timber is always cheapest in a poor Country. But what shall we say of such Manufactures, of which Timber is only the raw Material? Are they cheaper also?—This, I am sure, is much to be doubted; especially in those Instances where the Manufacture is to pass through several Hands, before it is completed. Nay, were you to go into a Cabinet Maker’s Shop in London, and enquire even for common Articles, you would not find that the same Articles of equal Neatness and Goodness could be bought in Scotland much cheaper, if so cheap. Moreover, as to Ship-building, than which nothing creates so great a Consumption of Timber, Pray, how much cheaper is a Ship of any Burthen, viz. 3 or 400 Tons, built at Leith or Glasgow, than in the Yards bordering on the Thames? And are not Ships built at Sardam, in Holland, where the Necessaries of Life and Wages cannot be cheap, and where not a Stick of Timber grows, are not they built as cheap there as in most Countries whatever, even such Countries which have the raw Materials just at their Doors?
The like Observations might be made to extend to the building of large and sumptuous Houses, and purchasing all the Furniture proper for them; and to almost every other Article, where many Hands, much Labour and Expence, great Skill and Ingenuity, and a Variety of different Trades are required before the Thing in Question is completely finished. For in all these Cases, the rich, industrious Country has a manifest Advantage over the poor one. London, tho’ the dearest Place in the Kingdom to live at, is by far the cheapest for purchasing Houshold Goods.
After so much hath been said on the Subject, it would be needless to have Recourse to the Branch of Metals for further Illustrations, were it not that there is something so very striking in their Case, that it ought not to be omitted. Iron Ore, for Example, is dug in Lancashire, and frequently sent by Sea Carriage into the County of Argyle, there to be smelted, on Account of the great Plenty and Cheapness of Wood and Charcoal. Now, when it is thus brought into Pigs and Bars, the great Question is, What becomes of it? Do you find that any considerable Quantity remains in Scotland? Or is the far greater Part brought back again, in order to be sent into the manufacturing Counties of England?—The latter is indisputably the Case, notwithstanding the Expence of Re-carriage; notwithstanding also, that the Collieries in Scotland could supply as much Coal as even about Birmingham, or Sheffield, were Coal the only Article that was wanted. But for all that, Sheffield and Birmingham are in Possession of the Trade; and will ever keep it, unless it be their own Faults.
The Case of Sweden is still more extraordinary (and surely Sweden is a Country poor enough) for the Swedish Iron pays a large Duty to the Swedish Government before Exportation;—it is then burdened with Freight into England;—it pays a heavy Duty upon being landed here;—is then carried partly by Water, and partly by Land, into the manufacturing Counties;—is there fabricated,—re-carried again to the Sea-Side,—there shipped off, for Sweden,—pays a very heavy Duty, as English Manufactures;—and yet, almost every Article of such Manufactures, as hath passed thro’ two, three, or more Stages, before it was completed, is afforded so cheap at the Market of Stockholm, that the Swedes have lost Money in every Attempt they have made to rival them.
Judge now, therefore, what little Cause there is to fear that a poor Country can ever rival a rich one in the more operose, complicated, and expensive Branches of a Manufacture: Judge also, whether a rich Country can ever lose its Trade, while it retains its Industry; and consequently how absurd must every Project be for securing or encreasing this Trade, which doth not tend to secure, or encrease the Diligence and Frugality of the People.
A War, whether crowned with Victory, or branded with Defeats, can never prevent another Nation from being more industrious than you are; and if they are more industrious, they will sell cheaper; and consequently your former Customers will forsake your shop, and go to theirs; tho’ you covered the Ocean with Fleets, and the Land with Armies:—In short, the Soldier may make Waste, the Privateer, whether, successful or unsuccessful, will make Poor; but it is the eternal Law of Providence, that The Hand of the Diligent alone can make Rich.
This being the Case, it evidently follows, that as no trading Nation can ever be ruined but by itself, so more particularly the Improvements and Manufactures of Scotland can never be a Detriment to England; unless the English do voluntarily decline their Industry, and become profligate in their Morals. Indeed, when this comes to pass, it is of little Consequence by what Name that Nation is called, which runs away with their Trade; for some Country or other necessarily must. Whereas, were the English to reform their Manners, and encrease their Industry, the very Largeness of their Capitals, and their Vicinity to Scotland, might enable the English to assist the Scotch in various Ways, without prejudicing themselves, viz. By lending them Money at moderate Interest,—by embarking in Partnership with them in such Undertakings as require large Stocks and long Credits,—by supplying them with Models and Instructors,—exciting their Emulation, and directing their Operations with that Judgment and good Order which are only learnt by Use and Experience.
Nay, to pass from Particulars to Generals, we may lay it down as an universal Rule, subject to very few Exceptions, that as an industrious Nation can never be hurt by the encreasing Industry of its Neighbours; and as it is so wisely contrived by Divine Providence, that all People should have a strong Biass towards the Produce and Manufactures of others;—so it follows, that when this Biass is put under proper Regulations, the respective Industry of Nation and Nation enables them to be so much the better Customers, to improve in a friendly Intercourse, and to be a mutual Benefit to each other. A private Shopkeeper would certainly wish, that his Customers did improve in their Circumstances, rather than go behind-hand; because every such Improvement would probably redound to his Advantage. Where then can be the Wisdom in the public Shopkeeper, a trading People, to endeavour to make the neighbouring States and Nations, that are his Customers, so very poor as not to be able to trade with him?
The Conclusion of the whole is this: Heaps of Gold and Silver are not the true Riches of a Nation: Gold and Silver got in the Ways of Idleness are its certain Ruin; it is Wealth in Appearance but Poverty in Reality: Gold and Silver got by Industry, and spent in Idleness, will prove to be Destruction likewise: But Gold and Silver acquired by general Industry, and used with Sobriety, and according to good Morals, will promote still greater Industry, and go on, for any Thing that appears to the contrary, still accumulating; so that every Augmentation of such Money is a Proof of a preceding Increase of Industry: Whereas an Augmentation of Money by such Means as decrease Industry, is a national Curse—not a Blessing. And therefore, tho’ the Accounts of such a Nation may look fair to the Eyes of a Merchant or Tradesman, who (keeping their own Books by Pounds, Shillings, and Pence) suppose, that all must be right, when they see at the Foot of the Account, a large Balance of Pounds, Shillings, and Pence, in the Nation’s Favour; yet the able Statesman, and judicious Patriot, who are to keep the public Accounts by quite different Columns,—by Men, Women, and Children, employed, or not employed,—will regard this Tumour of Wealth as a dangerous Disease, not as a natural and healthy Growth. In one Word, the only possible Means of preventing a Rival Nation from running away with your Trade, is to prevent your own People from being more idle and vicious than they are; and by inspiring them with the contrary good Qualities: So that the only War, which can be attended with Success in that Respect, is a War against Vice and Idleness; a War, whose Forces must consist of—not Fleets and Armies,—but such judicious Taxes and wise Regulations, as shall turn the Passion of private Self-Love into the Channel of public Good. Indeed Fleets and Armies may be necessary, where the Merchant or Manufacturer are in Danger of being robbed or plundered in carrying their Goods to Market; but Fleets and Armies can never render those Goods the cheaper; and consequently cannot possibly encrease the Number of your Customers; supposing such Customers have the Liberty of trading where ever they please, and to the best Advantage. But if you should continue these Armaments, in order to stop up the Ports of other Nations, and deprive them of the Benefit of a free Trade, what will be the Consequence of this wise Manœuvre? Plainly this;—That while you are getting One Shilling, you are spending Ten; while you are employing a few in a Course of regular Industry, you are supporting Thousands in Habits of Idleness, and at the same Time involving the Nation in such immense Expences as must, if persisted in, inevitably prove its Ruin.—Grant, therefore, that during a War, a War crowned with uninterrupted Success (for no other can avail) grant, I say, that in some Articles you enjoy an Increase of Trade, at what Expence is this Increase obtained, and how long is it to last? Moreover, that Consequences will arise when the War is at an End, and other Ports are open? (for surely it cannot be intended that a trading Nation is to fight for ever,) and when Peace is made, what new Duties, what additional Taxes are to be imposed for defraying both Principal and Interest of the Charges of such a War?—How are they to be levied?—Who is to bear them?—And will you by this Means be better able to render your Goods cheaper at a foreign Market than heretofore?—A plain Answer to these Questions, would unravel the whole Matter, and bring Mankind to a right Use of their Senses.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE only set of Objections, as far as they have come to my Knowledge, which have been hitherto made to the Principles and Reasonings laid down and illustrated in the foregoing Treatise, are the four following:
1st. That according to this Hypothesis, Improvements, Industry, and Riches, may be advanced and encreased ad infinitum; which is a Position too extravagant to be admitted.
2dly. That in Consequence of this accumulating Scheme, one Nation might engross the Trade of the whole World, and beggar every other State or Kingdom: which Opinion is not only contradicted by Fact and Experience, but is also contrary to my own System of Commerce, wherein I strongly declare against Monopoly and Exclusion of every Kind.
3dly. That tho’ a poor Country cannot immediately and at once rival a rich one in its Trade and Manufactures, yet it may do it by Degrees, beginning first with the coarser and less complicated Kinds, and then advancing Step by Step to others more compounded, operose, and costly; ’till at length it hath reached that Summit of Art, Industry, and Riches, from which the rich Country hath lately fallen, and from whence also this upstart Adventurer must recede in its Turn. And to strengthen this Reasoning, it may be observed,
4thly. “That all human Things have the Seeds of Decay within themselves:—Great Empires, great Cities, great Commerce, all of them receive a Cheque, not from accidental Events, but from necessary Principles.”
Thus stand the Objections of that acute Philosopher, and celebrated Writer, who honoured the above Treatise with his ingenious Remarks. Let us now therefore attend to the Force of each of these Objections with that Care and Impartiality which the Cause of Truth deserves; and with that Respect also, which is due to a Person of Eminence in the Republic of Letters.
And 1st. I must beg Leave to observe, that the Gentleman has, in Part at least, mistaken my Meaning, where I say, towards the Close of the Treatise, “That Gold and Silver acquired by general Industry, and used with Sobriety, and according to good Morals, will promote still greater Industry, and go on, for any thing that appears to the contrary, still accumulating:”—I say, he has mistaken my Meaning, if he imagined, that I roundly and positively there asserted, that the Progress must be, ad infinitum: For I did not intend to assert any such Thing, and one Reason, among others, which restrained me, was the Consideration that I am not Metaphysician enough to comprehend was Infinity really means. Therefore what I undertake to maintain is this,—That such a Progression as here described, may be so far carried on, as evidently to prove, that no Man can positively define, when, or where it must necessarily stop: No Man can set Bounds to Improvements even in Imagination; and therefore, ’till the ne plus ultra of all Advancements in Arts, Sciences, and Manufactures, in Agriculture, Trade, and Navigation, &c. &c. is clearly demonstrated (a Thing which I presume no one will be in Haste to attempt) we may still be allowed to assert, that the richer manufacturing Nation will maintain its Superiority over the poorer one, notwithstanding this latter may be likewise advancing towards Perfection. This being the Cause it follows,
2dly. That my Hypothesis is so far from supposing that one Nation may engross the Trade of the whole World, and beggar all the rest, that it remains just the contrary: Because it follows, from my System, that every Nation, poor as well as rich, may improve their Condition if they please. The poorer Nation, for Example, may adopt the good Police,—the Abolition of Monopolies and exclusive Companies, and several useful Regulations of its richer neighbouring State: All these it may adopt without Expence, at the same Time that it may avoid their Errors or Mistakes; for Errors there will be, more or less, in all human Institutions. Moreover, tho’ the poorer Nation cannot rival the Manufactures of a richer one at a third Place, or in a foreign Market, where the Goods and Merchandize of both are supposed to be admissible on the same Footing, yet it may, and ought, by Means of judicious Taxes, to discourage the too great or excessive Consumption of alien Manufactures, and especially Liquors, within its own Territories; and as this likewise may be done without Expence, nay, to the great Advantage of the Revenue, it therefore follows, that the poorer Nation may get forwards in many Respects without being obstructed by the rich one. To which Consideration we should not forget to add, that there are certain local Advantages resulting either from the Climate, the Soil, the Productions, the Situation, or even the natural Turn and peculiar Genius of one People preferably to those of another, which no Nation can deprive another of, unless by Violence and Conquest; and therefore, these being out of the Question, the necessary Consequence is, that the poor Country is left at Liberty to cultivate all these natural and local Advantages, as far as it can. Nay, I observe further, than the very superior Riches of a neighbouring State may contribute greatly to the carrying of such a Plan into Execution: And here I do not mean merely to say, that the Manufactures and Merchant Adventurers of the poorer Country may avail themselves of the Wealth of a richer by borrowing Money, at a low Interest, to be employed in Trade; tho’ by the bye, that is no small Benefit: But what I lay the chief Stress on at present is, that a rich Neighbour is more likely to become a good Customer than a poor one; and consequently, that the Traders of the poorer Country will find a better Market, and a more general Demand for their peculiar Productions, whether of Art or Nature, by Means of the superior Wealth and great Consumptions of their richer Neighbours, than they could possibly have had, were the latter equally poor with themselves. Moreover, vice versa, I affirm on the other Hand, that even the rich Country will be benefited in its Turn, by this Accession of Wealth flowing into the poor one. For when the Inhabitants of the poorer Country feel themselves enabled, there is no Doubt to be made, but that they will also become proportionably willing to purchase some of the more commodious or more sumptuous Furniture, and elegant Manufactures, of those Persons, who are actually their best Customers, as well as richer Neighbours. Indeed, to say the Truth, these Things are no other than the usual Consequences, and almost necessary Effects of natural Causes: And surely that Man must have been a very great Stranger to what passes in the World, who cannot discern these daily Rotations of Commercial Industry.
But there is one Circumstance more, relative to this Subject, which being not so obvious to common Observers, seems therefore to require a particular Explanation. The Circumstance is this,—That the very same Country may be relatively both richer and poorer than another at the very same Time, if considered in different Points of View; and consequently, that all the opposite and seemingly contradictory Assertions concerning both the Cheapness and the Dearness of Manufactures, may be found to correspond with Truth and Matters of Fact. Thus, for Example, England is undoubtedly richer either than Scotland or Ireland, in regard to most Branches of Trade and Manufacture; and therefore it sells those Manufactures much cheaper than they can be fabricated in either of those Countries. But nevertheless, both Scotland and Ireland are richer than England in respect to one particular Point; for both these Countries have got the Start of England in respect to the Linen Manufacture, by more than Half a Century; and in Consequence thereof, their Capitals are larger, their Machinery is better, and their Correspondences are become more extensive; so that in short, almost every thing relative to the Linen Manufacture in those Countries is conducted with more Adroitness, and managed to greater Advantage, than in England. Hence therefore it is easily to be accounted for, how it comes to pass that the Scotch and Irish can sell their Linens, and more especially their fine Linens, considerably cheaper than the English Linen Manufacturer is able to do. Nay, by Way of strengthening the general Argument, I would observe further, that tho’ the Modes of Living are more expensive, tho’ the daily Wages, and Rents of Houses and Lands, and the Prices of Provisions, are at least doubled, if not trebled, in the manufacturing Parts of Scotland and Ireland, to what they were about 60 or 70 Years ago,—yet the present Linens are both better and cheaper than the former, in a very considerable Degree; so that theScotland and Ireland of the Year 1763, if compared with the Scotland or Ireland of 1700, are as strong an Instance, and as convincing a Proof, as can possibly be desired of the Truth of these Positions:—And hence also we may observe, that the Riches of England in many Branches, and the Riches of Scotland and Ireland in some Branches, are mutually assistant to, and reciprocally advantageous to each other: For by mutually consuming and wearing each other’s Manufactures, the English, Scotch, and Irish, become the better and the greater Customers to each other.
The 3d Objection needs not a Reply so long and laboured as the second: For when the Gentleman proposed, that the poorer Country should first begin with the coarser and more simple Manufactures, and then proceed Step by Step to others more operose, complicated, and expensive, ’till at last it had supplanted the rich one in all its Trade and Manufactures,—he unfortunately forgot, that in Proportion as his poorer Country made a Progress in these Things, in the same Proportion, or nearly the same, would the Price of Labour, of Provisions, and of raw Materials, advance likewise; so that all these imaginary Advantages would vanish away like a Dream, when they were most wanted, and when he most depended on their Assistance. In fact, his not paying due Attention to this Circumstance was probably the very Thing which led him and others into so many Errors on this Head. But as he had one Objection more to offer, let us see whether the Weight of that will make up for the Deficiency of the others.
Now his 4th Objection, or rather his Observation, is, “That all Human Things have the Seeds of Decay within themselves: Great Empires, great Cities, great Commerce, all of them receive a Cheque, not from accidental Events, but from necessary Principles.” From all which it is implied, that the richer Nation cannot maintain its Superiority over a poorer one; because, when it comes to a certain Period, it must necessarily fall to Decay;—I say, this must be the Inference intended, otherwise the Observation is not applicable, and has nothing to do with the present Subject.
Here therefore, as the Ideas and Terms made use of, are borrowed from the State of natural Bodies, and from thence metaphorically transferred to political Constitutions, one Thing is taken for granted in this Argument, to which I cannot readily assent. It is taken for granted, that as all Animals, by having the Seeds of Decay within themselves, must die sooner or later, therefore political or commercial Institutions are subject to the like Fate, and on the same Principles. Now this remains to be proved; for the Parallel doth not hold in all Respects; and tho’ it be true that the Body Politic may come to an End, as well as the Body Natural, there is no physical Necessity that it must. A Set of Rules and Regulations may be formed for the distributing Property, the securing and disfusing Industry, the preventing the present shocking Vices of Electioneering, and in general, for the correcting most, if not all of those Evils, which great Riches, Excess of Liberty, and Length of Time, are too apt to introduce. I say such a Set of Rules and Regulations may be formed; against the Admission of which into our Code of Laws, there cannot be the least Pretence of a Physical Impossibility. In one Word, the Constitution of the Body Natural is so framed, that after a certain length of Time, no Remedy in Nature can restore it to its pristine Health and Vigour; for at last old Age will necessarily destroy it, if nothing else shall put a Period to it sooner:—But the Diseases of the Body Politic are not absolutely incurable; because Care and Caution, and proper Remedies, judiciously and honestly applied, will produce those Effects in one Case, which it would be impossible for them to produce in the other.[Back to Table of Contents]
The CASE of going to War; BEING The Fragment of a greater Work.
Prevention of Wars.
DID the Difficulty in this Argument consist in the Dubiousness of the Fact, ‘Whether Wars were destructive to Mankind, or not,’ that Difficulty would not long subsist; for, if ocular Demonstration can be allowed to be Proof, it is but too manifest, That both the conquering, and conquered Countries, are prodigious Losers by them. But, alas! in this Case the Difficulty lies not in the Obscurity of the Proof, but in the Feebleness of the Attempt to dissuade Men from a Practice they have been long accustomed to consider in a very different Light from that in which it will be here set forth: And such is the Inveteracy of bad Habits, such the bewitching, tho’ empty Sounds of Conquest and Glory, that there remains only the bare Possibility of Hopes of Success in these Endeavours; for as to all the Degrees of Probability, they are certainly on the contrary Side.
However, as the Nature of my Argument leads me to set forth the several Means of rendering a Country populous, certainly the Prevention of Wars, as one of the most capital Means, cannot be omitted: And therefore I must consider myself in this Case as People do when they commence Adventurers in a Lottery; where, though there are perhaps almost an infinite Number of Chances against any single Adventurer, yet every Individual cherishes the flattering Expectation, that he shall be the happy Man to whose Share the great Prize will fall. Now, if a Conduct, grounded on so much Improbability, can escape the Censure of general Ridicule, it is to be hoped, that my Folly, for such I acknowledge it, may escape likewise; at least, as it is of so innocent and harmless a Nature, let me be allowed to petition, that mine may be esteemed less irrational than that military and political Folly which consists in seeking for Empire by Means of Desolation, and for national Riches by introducing universal Poverty and Want.
In ancient Times, Men went to War without much Ceremony or Pretence: It was thought Reason good enough to justify the Deed, if one Man liked what another Man had; and War and Robbery were the honourable Professions: Nothing was adjudged dishonourable but the Arts of Peace and Industry. This is Herodotus’s Account of the Manner of living of the Barbarians of Thrace; and this, with very small Alterations, might serve to characterise all other Barbarians, either of ancient or modern Times.
But at present, we, who chuse to call ourselves civilized Nations, generally affect a more ceremonious Parade, and many Pretences. Complaints are first made of some Injury received, some Right violated, some Incroachment, Detention, or Usurpation; and none will acknowledge themselves to be the Aggressors; nay, a solemn Appeal is made to Heaven for the Truth of each Assertion; and the final Avenger of the Oppressed, and Searcher of all Hearts, is called upon to maintain the righteous Cause, and to punish the wrong Doer. Thus it is with both Parties; and while neither of them will own their true Motives, perhaps it is apparent to all the World, that, on one Side, if not on both, a Thirst of Glory, a Lust of Dominion, the Cabals of Statesmen, or the ravenous Appetites of Individuals for Power or Plunder, for Wealth without Industry, and Greatness without Merit, were the only real and genuine Springs of Action.
Now the Aims of Princes in these Wars are partly the same with, and partly different from, those of their Subjects: As far as Renown is concerned, their Views are alike, for Heroism is the Wish and Envy of all Mankind; and to be a Nation of Heroes, under the Conduct of an heroic Leader, is regarded, both by Prince and People, as the Summit of all earthly Happiness. It is really astonishing to think with what Applause and Eclat the Memoirs of such inhuman Monsters are transmitted down, in all the Pomp of Prose and Verse, to distant Generations: Nay, let a Prince but feed his Subjects with the empty Diet of military Fame, it matters not what he does besides, in regard to themselves as well as others; for the Lives and Liberties, and every Thing that can render Society a Blessing, are willingly offered up as a Sacrifice to this Idol, Glory. And were the Fact to be examined into, you would find, perhaps without a single Exception, that the greatest Conquerors abroad, have proved the heaviest Tyrants at Home. However, as Victory, like Charity, covereth a Multitude of Sins, thus it comes to pass, that reasonable Beings will be content to be Slaves themselves, provided they may enslave others; and while the People can look up to the glorious Hero on the Throne, they will be dazzled with the Splendor that surrounds him, and forget the Deeds of the Oppressor.
Now, from this View of Things, one would be tempted to imagine, that a Practice so universally prevailing, was founded in the Course and Constitution of Nature. One would be tempted to suppose, that Mankind were created on Purpose to be engaged in destructive Wars, and to worry and devour one another. “Perhaps the Earth would be overstocked with Numbers were it not for such Evacuations, salutary upon the whole, and necessary for the Good of the Remainder. Perhaps, likewise, there may be some Truth in what is vulgarly given out, that one Nation cannot thrive but by the Downfall, and one People cannot grow rich but by the impoverishing, of its Neighbours.”
And yet, when we examine into this Affair, neither Reason, nor Experience will give the least Countenance to this Supposition. The Reason of the Thing we will consider now, and reserve the Fact ’till by and by. Here then, if Principles of Reason are to be our Guide, one would think, that a Being overflowing with Benevolence, and not limitted in Power, might have made a much better Provision for his Cretures, than what is here suggested: Certainly he might have rendered their several Interests less repugnant to each other; or rather, he might have caused them all to spring from one common Center, or to unite in one common Basis. And we are confirmed in this Train of Reasoning, when we reflect, that even the Benevolence and Power of human Governments, narrow and imperfect as they are, do actually provide for the Safety and Welfare of their respective Subjects by this very Method of an Union and Coalition of separate Interests. Thus for Example, the Inhabitants of one County, or of one City, have not so much as an Idea, that they are, and must be, according to the unalterable Course of Things, the constitutional Foes of those of another County or City under the same Government: Nor do we at all conceive that this or that particular Town, or District, cannot grow rich, or prosper, ’till the Districts, or Towns around it are reduced to Poverty, or made a dreary Waste. On the contrary, we naturally conclude, and justly too, that their Interests are inseparable from our own: And were their Numbers to be diminished, or their Circumstances altered from Affluence to Want, we ourselves, in the Rotation of Things, should soon feel the bad Effects of such a Chance. If, therefore, this is the Case, with respect to human Governments; and if they, notwithstanding all their Faults and Failings, can regulate Matters so much for the better; how then comes it to pass, that we should ascribe so much Imperfection, such Want of Benevolence, such Partiality, nay such premeditated Mischief to that great and equal Government, which presideth over all? Is it do you think, that the Almighty God cannot govern two large Districts, France and England for Example, as well, and as wisely as you can govern two small ones? Or is it, that he hath so egregiously blundered in his first framing the Constitution of Things as to render those Exploits, called Wars, necessary for the Good of the Whole under his Administration, which you would justly consider to be a Disgrace to yours, and severely punish as an Outrage? Surely no: And we cannot without Blasphemy, ascribe that Conduct to the best of Beings; which is almost too bad to be supposed of the worst: Surely it is much more consonant to the Dictates of unbiassed Reason to believe, that our common Parent and universal Lord regards all his Children and Subjects with an Eye of equal Tenderness and Good-will; and to be firmly persuaded, that in his Plan of Government the political Interest of Nations cannot be repugnant to those moral Duties of Humanity and Love which he has so universally prescribed.
So much as to the Reason of the Thing: Let us now consider the Fact, and be determined by Experience. Princes expect to get by successful Wars, and a Series of Conquests, either more Territory, or more Subjects, or a more ample Revenue; or perhaps, which is generally the Case, they expect to obtain all three. Now, in regard to Territory, if mere Superficies were the Thing to be aimed at, it must be allowed, that a Country of a Million of square Miles is more in Quantity than one of half that Extent. But if Countries are not to be valued by Acres, but by the Cultivation and the Produce of those Acres, then it follows, that ten Acres may be better than a thousand, or perhaps ten thousand; and Bishop Berkley’s Query may come in here very apropos,—“May not a Man be the Proprietor of twenty Miles square in North America, and yet be in Want of a Dinner?”
As to Numbers of Subjects, surely War and Conquest are not the most likely Means for attaining this End; and a Scheme, which consists in the Destruction of the Human Species, is a very strange one indeed to be proposed for their Increase and Multiplication: Nay granting that Numbers of Subjects might be acquired, together with the Accession of Territory, still these new Subjects would add no real Strength to the State; because new Acquisitions would require more numerous Defences, and because a People scattered over an immense Tract of Country are, in fact, much weaker than half their Numbers acting in Concert together, and able by their Vicinity to succour one another.
Moreover, as to the Affair of the Revenue, and the Produce of Taxes, the same Arguments conclude equally strong in this Case as in the former: And the indisputable Fact is, that an ill-peopled Country, though large and extensive, neither produces so great a Revenue as a small one well cultivated and populous; nor if it did, would the neat Produce of such a Revenue be equal to that of the other, because it is, in a Manner, swallowed up in Governments, Guards, and Garrisons, in Salaries and Pensions, and all the consuming Perquisites and Expences attendant on distant Provinces.
In reference to the Views of the People—as far as such Views coincide with those of the Prince, so far they have been considered already: But, seeing that the Thirst of inordinate Riches in private Subjects, which pushes them on to wish so vehemently for War, has something in it distinct from the Avarice of Princes, let us now examine, whether this Trade of War is a likely Method to make a People rich, and let us consider every Plea that can be offered. “Surely, say these Men, to return Home laden with the Spoils of wealthy Nations is a compendious Way of getting Wealth; surely we cannot be deceived in so plain a Case: For we see that what has been gathering together and accumulating for Years, and perhaps for Ages, thus becomes our own at once; and more might be acquired by a happy Victory within the Compass of a Day, perhaps of an Hour, than we could otherwise promise to ourselves by the tedious Pursuits of Industry through the whole Course of a long laborious Life.”
Now, in order to treat with this People in their own Way, I would not awake them out of their present golden Dream; I would therefore suppose, that they might succeed to their Heart’s Desire, though there is a Chance at least of being disappointed, and of meeting with Captivity instead of Conquest; I will wave likewise all Considerations drawn from the intoxicating Nature of Riches, when so rapidly got, and improperly acquired: I will also grant, that great Stores of Gold and Silver, of Jewels, Diamonds, and precious Stones, may be brought Home; and that the Treasures of the Universe may, if you please, be made to circulate within the Limits of our own little Country: And if this were not enough, I would still grant more, did I really know what more could be wished for or expected.
The Soldier of Fortune, being thus made rich, sits down to enjoy the Fruits of his Conquest, and to gratify his Wishes after so much Fatigue and Toil: But alas! he presently finds, that in Proportion as this heroic Spirit and Thirst for Glory have diffused themselves among his Countrymen, in the same Proportion the Spirit of Industry hath sunk and died away; every Necessary, and every Comfort and Elegance of Life are grown dearer than before, because there are fewer Hands, and less Inclination to produce them; at the same Time his own Desires, and artificial Wants, instead of being lessened, are greatly multiplied; for of what Use are Riches to him unless enjoyed? Thus therefore it comes to pass, that his Heaps of Treasure are like the Snow in Summer, continually melting away; so that the Land of Heroes soon becomes the Country of Beggars. His Riches, it it true, rushed in upon him like a Flood; but, as he had no Means of retaining them, every Article he wanted or wished for, drained away his Stores like the Holes in a Sieve, ’till the Bottom became quite dry: In short, in this Situation the Sums, which are daily and hourly issuing out, are not to be replaced but by a new War, and a new Series of Victories; and these new Wars and new Victories do all enhance the former Evils; so that the relative Poverty of the Inhabitants of this warlike Country becomes so much the greater, in Proportion to their Success in the very Means mistakenly proposed for enriching them.
A few indeed, excited by the strong Instinct of an avaricious Temper, may gather and scrape up what the many are squandering away; and so the Impoverishment of the Community may become the Enrichment of the Individual. But it is utterly impossible, that the great Majority of any Country can grow wealthy by that Course of Life which renders them both very extravagant, and very idle.
To illustrate this Train of Reasoning, let us have recourse to Facts: But let the Facts be such as my Opponents in this Argument would wish of all others to have produced on this Occasion: And as the Example of the Romans is eternally quoted, from the Pamphleteer in the Garret, to the Patriot in the Senate, as extremely worthy of the Imitation of Britons, let their Example decide the Dispute. “The brave Romans! That glorious! That godlike People! The Conquerors of the World! Who made the most haughty Nations to submit! Who put the Wealthiest under Tribute, and brought all the Riches of the Universe to centre in the Imperial City of Rome!”
Now this People, at the Beginning of their State, had a Territory not so large as one of our middling Counties, and neither healthy, nor fertile in its Nature; yet, by Means of Frugality and Industry, and under the Influence of Agrarian Laws (which allotted from two to six, or eight, or perhaps ten Acres of Land to each Family) they not only procured a comfortable Subsistence, but also were enabled to carry on their petty Wars without Burden to the State, or pay to the Troops; each Husbandman or little Freeholder serving gratis, and providing his own Cloaths and Arms during the short Time that was necessary for him to be absent from his Cottage and Family on such Expeditions.
But when their Neighbours were all subdued, and the Seat of War removed to more distant Countries, it became impossible for them to draw their Subsistence from their own Farms; or in other Words, to serve gratis any longer; and therefore they were under a Necessity to accept of Pay. Moreover, as they could seldom visit their little Estates, these Farms were unavoidably neglected, and consequently were soon disposed of to engrossing Purchasers: And thus it came to pass, that the Lands about Rome, in Spite of the Agrarian Laws, and of the several Revivals of those Laws, were monopolized into a few Hands by Dint of their very Conquests and Successes: And thus also the Spirit of Industry began to decline, in Proportion as the military Genius gained the Ascendant* . A Proof of this we have in Livy, even so far back as the Time of their last King Tarquinius Superbus: For one of the Complaints brought against that Prince was couched in the following Terms, That having employed his Soldiers in making Drains and Common Sewers, “they thought it an high Disgrace to Warriors to be treated as Mechanics, and that the Conquerors of the neighbouring Nations should be degraded into Stone-cutters and Masons,” though these Works were not the Monuments of unmeaning Folly, or the Works of Ostentation, but evidently calculated for the Health of the Citizens and the Convenience of the Public. Had he led forth these indignant Heroes to the Extirpation of some neighbouring State, they would not have considered that as a Dishonour to their Character.
But to proceed: The Genius of Rome being formed for War, the Romans pushed their Conquests over Nations still more remote: But alas! the Quirites, the Body of the People, were so far from reaping any Advantage from these new Triumphs, that they generally found themselves to be poorer at the End of their most glorious Wars than before they begun them. At the Close of each successful War it was customary to divide a Part of the Lands of the vanquished among the veteran Soldiers, and to grant them a Dismission in order to cultivate their new Acquisitions. But such Estates being still more distant from the City, became in fact so much the less valuable; and the new Proprietor had less Inclination than ever to forsake the Capital, and to banish himself to these distant Provinces. [For here let it be noted, that Rome was become by this Time the Theatre of Pleasure, as well as the Seat of Empire; where all, who wished to act a Part on the Stage of Ambition, Popularity, or Politics; all who wanted to be engaged in Scenes of Debauchery, or Intrigues of State; all, in short, who had any Thing to spend, or any Thing to expect, made Rome their Rendezvous, and resorted thither as to a common Mart] This being the Case, it is not at all surprising, that these late Acquisitions were deserted and sold for a very Trifle; nor that the Mass of the Roman People were so immersed in Debt, as we find by their own Historians, when we reflect, that their military Life indisposed them for Agriculture or Manufactures, and that their Notions of Conquest and of Glory rendered them extravagant, prodigal, and vain.
However, in this Manner they went on, continuing to extend their Victories and their Triumphs; and, after the Triumph, subsisting for a while by the Sale of the Lands above-mentioned, or by their Shares in the Division of the Booty: But when these were spent, as they quickly were, then they sunk into a more wretched State of Poverty than before, eagerly wishing for a new War as the only Means of repairing their desperate Fortunes, and clamouring against every Person that would dare to appear as an Advocate for Peace: And thus they encreased their Sufferings, instead of removing them.
At last they subdued the World, as far as it was known at that Time, or thought worth subduing; and then both the Tribute, and the Plunder of the Universe were imported into Rome; then, therefore, the Bulk of the Inhabitants of that City must have been exceedingly wealthy, had Wealth consisted in Heaps of Gold and Silver; and then likewise, if ever, the Blessings of Victory must have been felt had it been capable of producing any. But alas! whatever Riches a few Grandees, the Leaders of Armies, the Governors of Provinces, the Minions of the Populace, or the Harpies of Oppression might have amassed together, the great Majority of the People were poor and miserable beyond Expression; and while the vain Wretches were strutting with Pride, and elated with Insolence, as the Masters of the World, they had no other Means of subsisting, when Peace was made, and their Prize-Money spent, than to receive a Kind of Alms in Corn from the public Granaries, or to carry about their Bread Baskets, and beg from Door to Door. Moreover, such among them as had chanced to have a Piece of Land left unmortgaged, or something valuable to pledge, found to their Sorrow, that the Interest of Money (being hardly ever less than twelve per Cent. and frequently more) would soon eat up their little Substance, and reduce them to an Equality with the rest of their illustrious Brother-Beggars. Nay, so extremely low was the Credit of these Masters of the World, that they were trusted with the Payment of their Interest no longer than from Month to Month,—than which there cannot be a more glaring Proof, both of the abject Poverty, and of the cheating Dispositions of these heroic Citizens of Imperial Rome.
Now this being the undoubted Fact, every humane and benevolent Man, far from considering these People as Objects worthy of Imitation, will look upon them, with a just Abhorrence and Indignation; and every wise State, consulting the Good of the Whole, will take Warning by their fatal Example, and stifle, as much as possible, the very Beginnings of such a Roman Spirit in its Subjects.
The Case of the ancient Romans having thus been considered at large, less may be requisite as to what is to follow. And therefore suffice it to observe, that the Wars of Europe for these two hundred Years last past, by the Confession of all Parties, have really ended in the Advantage of none, but to the manifest Detriment of all: Suffice it farther to remark, that had each of the contending Powers employed their Subjects in cultivating and improving such Lands as were clear of all disputed Titles, instead of aiming at more extended Possessions, they had consulted both their own and their People’s Greatness much more efficaciously, than by all the Victories of a Cæsar, or an Alexander
Upon the Whole, therefore, it is evident to a Demonstration, that nothing can result from such Systems as these, however specious and plausible in Appearance, but Disappointment, Want, and Beggary. For the great Laws of Providence, and the Course of Nature, are not to be reversed or counter-acted by the feeble Efforts of wayward Man; nor will the Rules of sound Politics ever bear a Separation from those of true and genuine Morality. Not to mention, that the Victors themselves will experience it to their Costs sooner or later, that in vanquishing others, they are only preparing a more magnificent Tomb for their own Interrment.
In short, the good Providence of God hath, as it were, taken peculiar Pains to preclude Mankind from having any plausible Pretence for pursuing either this, or any other Scheme of Depopulation. And the Traces of such preventing Endeavours, if I may so speak, are perfectly legible both in the natural, and in the moral Worlds.
In the natural World, our bountiful Creator hath formed different Soils, and appointed different Climates; whereby the Inhabitants of different Countries may supply each other with their respective Fruits and Products; so that by exciting a reciprocal Industry, they may carry on an Intercourse mutually beneficial, and universally benevolent.
Nay more, even where there is no remarkable Difference of Soil, or of Climates, we find a great Difference of Talents; and if I may be allowed the Expression, a wonderful Variety of Strata in the human Mind. Thus, for Example, the Alteration of Latitude between Norwich and Manchester, and the Variation of Soil are not worth naming; moreover, the Materials made Use of in both Places, Wool, Flax, and Silk, are just the same; yet so different are the Productions of their respective Looms, that Countries, which are thousands of Miles apart, could hardly exhibit a greater Contrast. Now, had Norwich and Manchester been the Capitals of two neighbouring Kingdoms, instead of Love and Union, we should have heard of nothing but Jealousies and Wars; each would have prognosticated, that the flourishing State of the one portended the Downfall of the other; each would have had their respective Complaints, uttered in the most doleful Accents, concerning their own Loss of Trade, and of the formidable Progress of their Rivals; and, if the respective Governments were in any Degree popular, each would have had a Set of Patriots and Orators closing their inflammatory Harangues with a delenda est Carthago. “We must destroy our Rivals, our Competitors, and commercial Enemies, or be destroyed by them; for our Interests are opposite, and can never coincide.” And yet, notwithstanding all these canting Phrases, it is as clear as the Meridian Sun, that in Case these Cities had belonged to different Kingdoms (France and England for Example) there would then have been no more Need for either of them to have gone to War than there is at present. In short, if Mankind would but open their Eyes, they might plainly see, that there is no one Argument for inducing different Nations to fight for the Sake of Trade, but which would equally oblige every County, Town, Village, nay, and every Shop among ourselves, to be engaged in civil and intestine Wars for the same End: Nor, on the contrary, is there any Motive of Interest or Advantage that can be urged for restraining the Parts of the same Government from these unnatural and foolish Contests, but which would conclude equally strong against separate and independant Nations making War with each other on the like Pretext.
Moreover, the Instinct* of Curiosity, and the Thirst of Novelty, which are so universally implanted in human Nature, whereby various Nations and different People so ardently wish to be Customers to each other, is another Proof, that the curious Manufactures of one Nation will never want a Vent among the richer Inhabitants of another, provided they are reasonably cheap and good; so that the richer one Nation is, the more it has to spare, and the more it will certainly lay out on the Produce and Manufactures of its ingenious Neighbour. Do you object to this? Do you envy the Wealth, or repine at the Prosperity of the Nations around you?—If you do, consider what is the Consequence, viz. that you wish to keep a Shop, but hope to have only Beggars for your Customers.
Lastly, the good Providence of God has further ordained, that a Multiplication of Inhabitants in every Country should be the best Means of procuring Fertility to the Ground, and of Knowledge and Ability to the Tiller of it: Hence it follows, that an Increase of Numbers, far from being a Reason for going to War in order to thin them, or for sending them out to people remote Desarts, operates both as an exciting Cause to the Husbandman to increase his Quantity, in Proportion to the Demand at Market; and also enables him to raise more plentiful Crops, by the Variety and Plenty of those rich Manures, which the Concourse of People, their Horses, Cattle, &c. &c. produce: And it is remarkable, that very populous Countries are much less subject to Dearth or Famines than any other.—So much as to those Stores of Providence, which are laid up in the natural World, and graciously intended for the Use of Mankind.
As to the moral and political World, Providence has so ordained, that every Nation may increase in Frugality and Industry, and consequently in Riches* , if they please; because it has given a Power to every Nation to make good Laws, and wise Regulations, for their internal Government: And none can justly blame them on this Account. Should, for Example, the Poles, or the Tartars grow weary of their present wretched Systems, and resolve upon a better Constitution; should they prefer Employment to Sloth, Liberty to Slavery, and Trade and Manufactures to Theft and Robbery; should they give all possible Freedom and Encouragement to industrious Artificers, and lay heavy Discouragements on Idleness and Vice, by Means of judicious Taxes; and lastly, should they root out all Notions of beggarly Pride, and of the Glory of making maroding Incursions;—what a mighty, what a happy Change would soon appear in the Face of those Countries! And what could then be said to be wanting in order to render such Nations truely rich and great?
Perhaps some neighbouring State (entertaining a foolish Jealousy) would take the Alarm, that their Trade was in Danger. But if they attempted to invade such a Kingdom, they would find to their Cost, that an industrious State, abounding with People and with Riches, having its Magazines well stored, its frontier Towns* well fortified, the Garrisons duly paid, and the whole Country full of Villages and Enclosures; I say, they would feel to their Cost, that such a State is the strongest of all others, and the most difficult to be subdued: Not to mention that other Potentates would naturally rise up for its Defence and Preservation; because, indeed, it would be their interest that such a State as this should not be swallowed up by another, and because they themselves might have many Things to hope from it, and nothing to fear.
But is this Spell, this Witchcraft, of the Jealousy of Trade never to be dissolved? And are there no Hopes that Mankind will recover their Senses as to these Things? For of all Absurdities, that of going to War for the Sake of getting Trade is the most absurd; and nothing in Nature can be so extravagantly foolish. Perhaps you cannot digest this; you don’t believe it:—I grant, therefore, that you subdue your Rival by Force of Arms: Will that Circumstance render your Goods cheaper at Market than they were before? And if it will not, nay if it tends to render them much dearer, what have you got by such a Victory? I ask further, What will be the Conduct of foreign Nations when your Goods are brought to their Markets? They will never enquire, whether you were victorious or not; but only, whether you will fell cheaper, or at least as cheap as others? Try and see, whether any Persons, or any Nations, ever yet proceeded upon any other Plan; and if they never did, and never can be supposed to do so, then it is evident to a Demonstration, that Trade will always follow Cheapness, and not Conquest. Nay, consider how it is with yourselves at Home: Do Heroes and Bruisers get more Customers to their Shops because they are Heroes and Bruisers? Or, would not you yourself rather deal with a feeble Person, who will use you well, than with a Brother-Hero, should he demand a higher Price?
Now all these Facts are so very notorious, that none can dispute the Truth of them. And throughout the Histories of all Countries, and of all Ages, there is not a single Example to the contrary. Judge, therefore, from what has been said, whether any one Advantage can be obtained to Society, even by the most successful Wars, that may not be incomparably greater, and more easily procured, by the Arts of Peace.
As to those who are always clamouring for War, and sounding the Alarm to Battle, let us consider who they are, and what are their Motives; and then it will be no difficult Matter to determine concerning the Deference that ought to be paid to their Opinions, and the Merit of their patriotic Zeal.
1. The first on the List here in Britain (for different Countries have different Sorts of Firebrands) I say the first here in Britain is the Mock-Patriot and furious Anti-Courtier: He, good Man, always begins with Schemes of Oeconomy, and is a zealous Promoter of national Frugality* . He loudly declaims against even a small, annual, parliamentary Army, both on Account of its Expence, and its Danger; and pretends to be struck with a Panic at every Red-Coat that he sees. By persevering in these laudable Endeavours, and by sowing the Seeds of Jealousy and Distrust among the Ignorant and Unwary, he prevents such a Number of Forces, by Sea and Land, from being kept up, as are prudently necessary for the common Safety of the Kingdom: This is one Step gained. In the next Place, after having thrown out such a tempting Bait for Foreigners to catch at, on any trifling Affront he is all on Fire; his Breast beats high with the Love of his Country, and his Soul breathes Vengeance against the Foes of Britain: Every popular Topic, and every inflammatory Harangue is immediately put into Rehearsal; and, O Liberty! O my Country! is the continual Theme. The Fire then spreads; the Souls of the noble Britons are enkindled at it; and Vengeance and War are immediately resolved upon. Then the Ministry are all in a Hurry; new Levies are half-formed, and half-disciplined:—Squadrons at Sea are half-manned, and the Officers mere Novices in their Business. In short, Ignorance, Unskilfulness, and Confusion, are unavoidable for a Time; the necessary Consequence of which is some Defeat rereceived, some Stain or Dishonour cast upon the Arms of Britain. Then the long-wished for Opportunity comes at last; the Patriot roars, the Populace clamour and address, the Ministry tremble, and the Administration sinks. The ministerial Throne now being vacant, the Patriot triumphantly ascends it, adopts those Measures he had formerly condemned, reaps the Benefit of the Preparations and Plans of his Predecessor, and, in the natural Course of Things, very probably gains some Advantages; this restores the Credit of the Arms of Britain: Now the Lion is roused, and now is the Time for crushing our Enemies, that they may never be able to rise again. This is Pretext enough; and thus the Nation is plunged into an Expence ten Times as great, and made to raise Forces twenty Times as numerous, as were complained of before. “However, being now victorious, let us follow the Blow and manfully go on, and let neither Expence of Blood nor of Treasure be at all regarded; for another Campaign will undoubtedly bring the Enemy to submit to our own Terms, and it is impossible that they should stand out any longer.” Well, another Campaign is fought,—and another,—and another,—and another, and yet the Enemy holds out; nor is the Carte blanche making any Progress in its Journey into Britain. A Peace at last is made: the Terms of it are unpopular. Schemes of excessive Œconomy are called for by a new Set of Patriots; and the same Arts are played off to dethrone the reigning Minister, which he had practised to dethrone his Predecessor. And thus the patriotic Farce goes round and round; but generally ends in a real and bloody Tragedy to our Country and to Mankind.
2. The next in this List is the hungry Pamphleteer, who writes for Bread. The Ministry will not retain him on their Side, therefore he must write against them, and do as much Mischief as he can in order to be bought off. At the worst, a Pillory, or a Prosecution is a neverfailing Remedy against a political Author’s starving; nay, perhaps it may get him a Pension or a Place at last: In the Interim, the Province of this Creature is to be a Kind of Jackall to the Patriot-Lion; for he beats the Forest, and first starts the Game; he explores the reigning Humour and Whim of the Populace, and by frequent Trials discovers the Part where the Ministry are most vulnerable. But above all, he never fails to put the Mob in Mind, of what indeed they believed before, that Politics is a Subject which every one understands,—except the Ministry; and that nothing is so easy as to bring the King of France to sue for Peace on his Knees at the Bar of a British House of Commons, were such—and such—at the Helm, as honest and uncorrupt as they ought to be. “But alas! What shall we say! French Gold will find an Admission every where; and what can we expect, when the very Persons, who ought to have saved us, have sold their Country?” This is delightful, and this, with the old Stories of Agincourt and Gressy, regales, nay intoxicates, the Mob, and inspires them with an Enthusiasm bordering upon Madness. The same Ideas return; the former Battles are fought over again; and we have already taken Possession of the Gates of Paris in the Warmth of a frantic Imagination: Though it is certain, that even were this Circumstance ever to happen, we ourselves should be the greatest Losers; for the Conquest of France by England, in the Event of Things, would come to the same Point as the Conquest of England by France; because the Seat of Empire would be transferred to the greater Kingdom, and the lesser would be made a Province to it.—[The philosophic Dr. Franklin adopts the same Ideas in regard to the present Contest between North-America and Great-Britain. He supposes, agreeably to the Newtonian Philosophy, that there is a mutual Attraction and Gravitation between these two Countries; but nevertheless, that the Powers of Gravitation and Attraction being so much stronger in the vast Continent of North-America, than in the little Spot of Great-Britain, it therefore follows, that the former will swallow up, or absorb the latter, and not vice versa. The present astonishing Emigrations from Great-Britain and Ireland seem to confirm the Hypothesis of this eminent Philosopher but too well: And it were greatly to be wished, that the magical Spell, which is made to chain this our Island to those immense Regions, were dissolved ’e’re it be too late.]
3. Near a-kin to this Man, is that other Monster of modern Times, who is perpetually declaiming against a Peace, viz. the Broker, and the Gambler of Change-alley. Letters from the Hague, wrote in a Garret at Home for Half a Guinea;—the first News of a Battle fought (it matters not how improbable) with a List of the Slain and Prisoners, their Cannon, Colours, &c. Great Firings heard at Sea between Squadrons not yet out of Port;—a Town taken before the Enemy was near it;—an intercepted Letter that never was wrote;—or, in short, any Thing else that will elate or depress the Minds of the undiscerning Multitude, serves the Purpose of the Bear or the Bull to sink or raise the Price of Stocks, according as he wishes either to buy or sell. And by these vile Means the Wretch, who perhaps the other Day came up to London in the Waggon to be an Under-Clerk or a Message Boy in a Warehouse acquires such a Fortune as sets him on a Par with the greatest Nobles of the Land.
4. The News-writers are a fourth Species of political Firebrands: A Species which abounds in this Country more than in any other; for as Men are in this Kingdom allowed greater Liberties to say, or write what they please; so likewise is the Abuse of that Blessing carried to a higher Pitch. In fact these People may be truly said to trade in Blood: For a War is their Harvest; and a Gazette Extaordinary produces a Crop of an hundred Fold: How then can it be supposed, that they can ever become the Friends of Peace? And how can you expect that any Ministers can be their Favourites, but the Ministers of War? Yet these are the Men who may be truly said to govern the Minds of the good People of England, and to turn their Affections withersoever they please; who can render any Scheme unpopular which they dislike, and whose Approbation, or Disapprobation, are regarded by Thousands, and almost by Millions, as the Standard of Right or Wrong, of Truth or Falshood: For it is a Fact, an indisputable Fact, that this Country is as much News mad, and News ridden now, as ever it was Poperymad, and Priest-ridden, in the Days of our Forefathers.
5. The Jobbers and Contractors of all Kinds and of all Degrees for our Fleets and Armies;—the Clerks and Pay-Masters in the several Departments belonging to War;—and every other Agent, who has the fingering of the public Money, may be said to constitute a distinct Brood of Vultures, who prey upon their own Species, and fatten on human Gore. It would be endless to recount the various Arts and Stratagems by which these Devourers have amassed to themselves astonishing Riches, from very slender Beginnings, through the Continuance and Extent of the War: Consequently, as long as any Prospect could remain of squeezing somewhat more out of the Pockets of an exhausted, but infatuated People; so long the American War-hoop would be the Cry of these inhuman Savages; and so long would they start and invent Objections to every Proposition that could be made for the restoring Peace,—because Government Bills would yet bear some Price in the Alley, and Omnium and Scrip. would still sell at Market.
6. Many of the Dealers in Exports and Imports, and several of the Traders in the Colonies, are too often found to be assistant in promoting the Cry for every new War; and, when War is undertaken, in preventing any Overtures towards a Peace. You do not fathom the Depth of this Policy? you are not able to comprehend it. Alas! it is but two easily explained; and when explained, but too well proved from Experience. The general Interest of Trade, and the Interest of particular Traders, are very distinct Things; nay, are very often quite opposite to each other. The Interest of general Trade arises from general Industry; and, therefore can only be promoted by the Arts of Peace: But the Misfortune is, that during a Peace the Prices of Goods seldom fluctuate, and there are few or no Opportunities of getting suddenly rich. A War, on the contrary, unsettles all Things, and opens a wide Field for Speculation; therefore a lucky Hit, or the engrossing a Commodity, when there is but little at Market,—a rich Capture,—or a Smuggling, I should rather say a traiterous, Intercourse with the Enemy, sometimes by Bribes to Governors and Officers, and sometimes through other Channels;—or perhaps the Hopes of coming in for a Share in a lucrative Job, or a public Contract: These, and many such like notable Expedients are cherished by the Warmth of War, like Plants in a Hot bed; but they are chilled by the cold languid Circulation of peaceful Industry.
This being the Case, the warlike Zeal of these Men, and their Declamations against all reconciliatory Measures, are but too easily accounted for; and while the dulcis odor lucri is the governing Principle of Trade, what other Conduct are you to expect?
But what if the Men of landed Property, and the numerous Band of English Artificers and Manufacturers, who constitute, beyond all Doubt, the great Body of the Kingdom, and whose real Interests must be on the Side of Peace; what if they should not be so military in their Dispositions as these Gentlemen would wish they were? Why then all Arts must be used, and indefatigable Pains be taken to persuade them, that this particular War is calculated for their Benefit; and that the Conquest of such, or such a Place would infallibly redound both to the Advantage of the landed Interests, and the Improvement and Extension of Manufactures. “Should (for Example) the English once become the Masters of Canada, the Importation of Skins and Beavers, and the Manufacture of fine Hats, would extend prodigiously: Every Man might afford to wear a Beaver Hat if he pleased, and every Woman be decorated in the richest Furs; in return for which our coarse Woollens would find such a Vent throughout those immense Northern Regions as would make ample Satisfaction for all our Expences.” Well, Canada is taken, and is now all our own: But what is the Consequence after a Trial of some Years’ Possession? Let those declare who can, and as they were before so lavish in their Promises, let them at last prove their Assertions, by appealing to Fact and Experience. Alas! they cannot do it: Nay, so far from it, that Beaver, and Furs, and Hats are dearer than ever: And all the Woollens, which have been consumed in those Countries by the Native Inhabitants, do hardly amount to a greater Quantity than those very Soldiers and Sailors would have worn and consumed, who were lost in the taking, defending, and garrisoning of those Countries.
“However, if Canada did not answer our sanguine Expectations, sure we are, that the Sugar Countries would make Amends for all: And, therefore, if the important Islands of Guadaloupe and Martinico were to be subdued, then Sugars and Coffee, and Chocolate, and Indigo, and Cotton, &c. &c. would become as cheap as we could wish; and both the Country Gentleman and the Manufacturer would find their Account in such Conquests as these.” Well, Guadaloupe and Martinico are both taken, and many other Islands besides are added to our Empire, whose Produce is the very same with theirs. Yet, what Elegance of Life, or what Ingredient for Manufacture, is thereby become the cheaper? And which of all these Things can be purchased at a lower Rate, at present than before the War?—Not one can be named. On the contrary, the Man of landed Property can tell but too circumstantially, that Taxes are risen higher than ever,—that the Interest of Money is greater;—that every additional Load of National Debt is a new Mortgage on his exhausted and impoverished Estate;—and that, if he happens to be a Member of Parliament, he runs the Risque of being bought out of his Family Borough, by some upstart Gambler, Jobber, or Contractor.
TheEnglish Manufacturer, likewise, both sees and feels, that every foreign Material, of Use in his Trade is grown much dearer,—that all Hands are become extremely scarce,—their Wages prodigiously raised,—the Goods, of course, badly and scandalously manufactured,—and yet cannot be afforded at the same Price as heretofore,—that, therefore, the Sale of English Manufactures has greatly decreased in foreign Countries since the Commencement of War;—and what is worse than all, that our own Colonies, for whose Sakes the War was said to be undertaken, do buy Goods in Holland, in Italy, and Hamburgh, or any other Market where they can buy them cheapest, without regarding the Interest of the Mother-Country, when found to be repugnant to their own. All these Things, I say, the English Manufacturer both sees and feels: And is not this enough? Or must be carry his Complaisance still farther, and never be a Friend to Peace ’till it becomes the Interest of the Trader to befriend it likewise? Surely, surely, this is rather too much to be expected. In one Word, and to return to the Point from which we set out, the Interest of the Trader, and the Interest of the Kingdom, are two very distinct Things; because the one may, and often doth, get rich by that Course of Trade, which would bring Ruin and Desolation on the other.
7. The Land and Sea Officers are, of course, the invariable Advocates for War. Indeed it is their Trade, their Bread, and the sure Way to get Promotion; therefore no other Language can be expected from them: And yet, to do them Justice, of all the Adversaries of Peace, they are the fairest and most open in their Proceedings; they use no Art or Colouring, and as you know their Motive, you must allow for it accordingly. Nay, whether from a Principle of Honour natural to their Profession, or from what other Cause I know not; but so it is, that they very frankly discover the base and disingenuous Artifices of other Men. And the Author of these Sheets owes much of his Intelligence to several Gentlemen of this Profession, who were Eye and Ear-witnesses of the Facts related.
But after all, What have I been doing? and how can I Rope for Proselytes by this Kind of Writing?—It is true, in regard to the Points attempted to be proved, I have certainly proved that, “Neither Princes nor People can be Gainers by the most successful Wars:—Trade in particular, will make its Way to the Country where Goods are manufactured the best and cheapest:—But conquering Nations neither manufacture well nor cheap:—And consequently must sink in Trade in Proportion as they extend in Conquest,” These Things are now incontestibly clear, if any Thing ever was so. But, alas! Who will thank me for such Lessons as these? The seven Classes of Men just enumerated certainly will not; and as to the Mob, the blood thirsty Mob, no Arguments, and no Demonstrations whatever, can persuade them to withdraw their Veneration from their grim Idol, the God of Slaughter. On the contrary, to knock a Man on the Head is to take from him his All at once. This is a compendious Way, and this they understand. But to excite that Man (whom perhaps they have long called their Enemy) to greater Industry and Sobriety, to consider him as a Customer to them, and themselves as Customers to him, so that the richer both are, the better it may be for each other; and, in short, to promote a mutual Trade to mutual Benefit: This is a Kind of Reasoning, as unintelligible to their Comprehensions, as the Antipodes themselves.
Some few perhaps, a very few indeed, may be struck with the Force of these Truths, and yield their Minds to Conviction;—Possibly in a long Course of Time their Numbers may encrease;—and possibly, at last, the Tide may Turn;—so that our Posterity may regard the present Madness of going to War for the Sake of Trade, Riches, or Dominion, with the same Eye of Astonishment and Pity, that we do the Madness of our Forefathers in fighting under the Banner of the peaceful Cross to recover the Holy Land. This strange Phrenzy raged throughout all Orders and Degrees of Men for several Centuries; and was cured at last more by the dear-bought Experience of repeated Losses and continual Disappointments, than by any good Effects which cool Reason and Reflection could have upon the rational Faculties of Mankind. May the like dear-bought Experience prevail at last in the present Case![Back to Table of Contents]
A Letter from a Merchant in London TO HIS NEPHEW in AMERICA.
YOUR Letters gave me formerly no small Pleasure, because they seemed to have proceeded from a good Heart, guided by an Understanding more enlightened than is usually found among young Men: And the honest Indignation you express against those Artifices and Frauds, those Robberies and Insults, which lost us the Hearts and Affections of the Indians, is particularly to be commended; for these were the Things, as you justly observed, which involved us in the most bloody and expensive War that ever was known; and these, by being repeated, will stimulate the poor injured Savages to redress their Wrongs, and retaliate the Injury as soon as they can, by some Means or other. You did therefore exceedingly right, in manifesting the utmost Abhorrence and Detestation of all such Practices.
But of late I cannot say, that I receive the same Satisfaction from your Correspondence: You, and your Countrymen, certainly are discontented to a great Degree; but whether your Discontent arises from a Desire of Change, and of making Innovations in your Form of Government, or from a mistaken Notion, that we are making Innovations in it, is hard to say.
Give me Leave, therefore, to expostulate with you, on this strange Alteration in your Conduct. You indeed talk loudly of Chains, and exclaim vehemently against Slavery:—But surely you do not suspect, that I can entertain the most distant Wish of making any Man a Slave, much less my own Brother’s Son, and my next of Kin.—So far from it, that whether I can make you a Convert to my Way of thinking or not, I shall still act by you as my nearest Relation; being always desirous of allowing that Liberty to others, which I hope ever to enjoy myself,—of letting every Man see with his own Eyes, and act according to his own Judgment:—This I say, I would willingly indulge every Man in, as far as ever is consistent with good Government, and the public Safety. For indeed Governments there must be of some Kind or other; and Peace and Subordination are to be preserved; otherwise, there would be no such Thing as true Liberty subsisting in the World.
In Pursuance therefore of this rational Plan of Liberty, give me Leave to ask you, young Man, What is it you mean by repeating to me so often in every Letter, The Spirit of the Constitution? I own, I do not much approve of this Phrase, because its Meaning is so vague and indeterminate; and because it may be made to serve all Purposes alike, good or bad. And indeed it has been my constant Remark, That when Men were at a Loss for solid Arguments and Matters of Fact, in their political Disputes, they then had Recourse to the Spirit of the Constitution as to their last Shift, and the only Thing they had to say. An American, for Example, now insists, That according to the Spirit of the English Constitution, he ought not to be taxed without his own Consent, given either by himself, or by a Representative in Parliament chosen by himself. Why ought he not? And doth the Constitution say in so many Words, that he ought not? Or doth it say, That every Man either hath, or ought to have, or was intended to have a Vote for a Member of Parliament? No, by no Means: The Constitution says no such Thing.—But the Spirit of it doth; and that is as good, perhaps better.—Very well: See then how the same Spirit will presently wheel about, and assert a Doctrine quite repugnant to the Claims and Positions of you Americans. Magna Charta, for Example, is the great Foundation of English Liberties, and the Basis of the English Constitution. But by the Spirit of Magna Charta, all Taxes laid on by Parliament are constitutional, legal Taxes; and Taxes raised by the Prerogative of the Crown, without the Consent of the Parliament, are illegal. Now remember, young Man, that the late Tax of Duties upon Stamps was laid on by Parliament; and therefore, according to your own Way of reasoning, must have been a regular, constitutional, legal Tax. Nay more, the principal End and Intention of Magna Charta, as far as Taxation is concerned, was to assert the Authority and Jurisdiction of the three Estates of the Kingdom, in Opposition to the sole Prerogative of the King: So that if you will now plead the Spirit of Magna Charta against the Jurisdiction of Parliament, you will plead Magna Charta against itself.
Leaving therefore all these shifting, unstable Topics, which, like changeable Silks, exhibit different Colours, according as they are viewed in different Lights; let us from the Spirit of the Constitution, come to the Constitution itself. For this is a plain, obvious Matter of Fact; and Matters of Fact are said to be stubborn Things. Now the first Emigrants, who settled in America, were certainly English Subjects,—subject to the Laws and Jurisdiction of Parliament, and consequently to parliamentary Taxes, before their Emigration; and therefore subject afterwards, unless some legal, constitutional Exemption can be produced.
Now this is the Question, and the sole Question between you and me, reduced to a plain, simple Matter of Fact. Is there therefore any such Exemption as here pretended? And if you have it, why do you not produce it?—“The King, you say, hath granted Charters of Exemption to the American Colonies.” This is now coming to the Point; and this will bring the Dispute to a short Issue. Let us therefore first enquire, Whether he could legally and constitutionally grant you such a Charter? And secondly, Whether he did ever so much as attempt to do it? And whether any such Charters are upon Record?
Now, upon the first settling an English Colony, and before ever you, Americans, could have chosen any Representatives, and therefore before any Assembly of such Representatives could have possibly met,—to whose Laws, and to what legislative Power were you then subject? To the English most undoubtedly; for you could have been subject to no other. You were Englishmen yourselves; and you carried the English Government, and an English Charter over along with you. This being the Case, were you not then in the same Condition, as to Constitutional Rights and Liberties, with the rest of your Fellow-subjects, who remained in England? Certainly you were. I most cordially agree, that you ought not to have been placed in a worse; and surely you had no Right to expect a better. Suppose, therefore, that the Crown had been so ill advised, as to have granted a Charter to any City or County here in England, pretending to exempt them from the Power and Jurisdiction of an English Parliament;—what would the Judges? what would the Lawyers? nay, what would you Americans have said to it? Apply this now to your own Case; for surely you cannot wish to have it put upon a fairer Footing; try, therefore, and see, and then tell me; is it possible for you to believe, that the King has a Power vested in him by the Constitution of dividing his Kingdom into several independant States, and petty Kingdoms, like the Heptarchy in the Times of the Saxons? Or can you really imagine, that he could crumble the parliamentary Authority and Jurisdiction, were he so minded, into Bits and Fragments, by assigning one Parliament to one City or County, another to another, and so on? Is it possible, I say, for you to believe an Absurdity so gross and glaring? And yet gross and palpable as this Absurdity is, you must either believe it, or adopt a still greater, viz. that, though the King cannot do these strange Things in England, yet he can do them all in America; because the Royal Prerogative, like Wire coiled up in a Box, can be stretched and drawn out to almost any Length, according to the Distance and Extent of his Dominions. Good Heavens! what a sudden Alteration is this! An American pleading for the Extension of the Prerogative of the Crown? Yes, if it could make for his Cause; and for extending it too beyond all the Bounds of Law, of Reason, and of Common Sense!
But though I have for Argument’s Sake, and merely to confute you in your own Way, here supposed, that the Crown had been so ill-advised, as to grant Charters to the Colonies so unconstitutional and illegal, as these undoubtedly must have been;—yet the Fact itself is far otherwise* ; for no such Charters were ever granted. Nay, many of your Colony Charters assert quite the contrary, by containing express Reservations of Parliamentary Rights, particularly that great one of levying Taxes. And those Charters which do not make such Provisoes in express Terms, must be supposed virtually to imply them; because the Law and Constitution will not allow, that the King can do more either at home or abroad, by the Prerogative Royal, than the Law and Constitution authorize him to do.
However, if you are still doubtful, and if you would wish to have a Confirmation of this Argument by some plain Fact, some striking Proof, and visible Example, I will give you one; and such an one too, as shall convince you, if any thing can, of the Folly and Absurdity of your Positions: The City of London, for Instance,—a Body Politic as respectable, without Offence, as the greatest of your Colonies, with Regard to Property, and superior to many of them with respect to Numbers;—this great City, I say, the Metropolis of the whole British Empire, hath long enjoyed, before the Colonies were ever thought of, the threefold Power of Jurisdiction, Legislation, and Taxation in certain Cases: But no Man in his Senses ever yet supposed, that the City of London either was, or could be exempted by these Charters from Parliamentary Jurisdiction, or Parliamentary Taxes; and if any Citizen should plead the Charters in Bar to Parliamentary Authority, or refuse to pay his Quota of the Land Tax, because that Tax is not laid on by an Act of the Lord-Mayor, Aldermen, and Common-Council;—I do not say, indeed, that the Judges would commit him to Newgate;—but I do verily believe, that they would order him to another Place of Confinement, much fitter for a Person in his unhappy Situation.
And now, my good Friend, what can you say to these Things?—The only Thing which you ought to say is, that you did not see the Affair in its true Light before; and that you are sincerely sorry for having been so positive in a wrong Cause. Confuted most undoubtedly you are beyond the Possibility of a Reply, as far as the Law and Constitution of the Realm are concerned in this Question. But indeed it seems to me by certain Passages in your Letters, that, though you raise a terrible Outcry against the supposed Violation of your Charters; you yourself would not rest the Merits of your Cause upon the Proof of such a Violation; and that you would rather drop that Point, than attempt to justify the Charge if called upon to do it.
What then is it, which you have next to offer? Oh! “The Unreasonableness! the Injustice! and the Cruelty of taxing a free People, without permitting them to have Representatives of their own to answer for them, and to maintain their fundamental Rights and Privileges!”
Strange, that you did not discover these bad Things before! Strange, that though the British Parliament has been, from the Beginning, thus unreasonable, thus unjust, and cruel towards you, by levying Taxes on many Commodities outwards and inwards,—nay, by laying an internal Tax, the Post-Tax for Example, on the whole British Empire in America;—and, what is still worse, by making Laws to affect your Property,—your Paper Currency, and even to take away Life itself, if you offend against them:—Strange and unaccountable, I say, that after you had suffered this so long, you should not have been able to have discovered, that you were without Representatives in the British Parliament, of your own electing, ’till this enlightening Tax upon Paper opened your Eyes! And what a Pity is it, that you have been Slaves for so many Generations, and yet did not know that you were Slaves until now.
But let that pass, my dear Cousin; for I always choose to confute you in your own Way. Now, if you mean any Thing at all by the Words unreasonable, unjust, and cruel, as used in this Dispute; you must mean, that the Mother Country deals worse by you, than by the Inhabitants of Great-Britain; and that she denies certain Constitutional Rights and Privileges to you abroad, which we enjoy here at home. Now pray what are these constitutional Rights and Liberties, which are refused to you? Name them, if you can. The Things which you pretend to alledge are, “The Rights of voting for Members of the British Parliament; and the Liberty of chusing your own Representatives.” But surely you will not dare to say, that we refuse your Votes, when you come hither to offer them, and choose to poll: You cannot have the Face to assert, that on an Election Day any Difference is put between the Vote of a Man born in America, and of one born here in England. Yet this you must assert, and prove too, before you can say any thing to the present Purpose. Suppose therefore, that an American hath acquired a Vote (as he legally may, and many have done) in any of our Cities or Counties, Towns, or Boroughs; suppose, that he is become a Freeman, or a Freeholder here in England;—on that State of the Case, prove if you can, that his Vote was ever refused, because he was born in America:—Prove this, I say, and then I will allow, that your Complaints are very just; and that you are indeed the much injured, the cruelly treated People, you would make the World believe.
But, my good Friend, is this supposed Refusal the real Cause of your Complaint? Is this the Grievance that calls so loudly for Redress? Oh! no, you have no Complaint of this Sort to make: But the Cause of your Complaint is this; that you live at too great a Distance from the Mother Country to be present at our English Elections, and that in Consequence of this Distance, the Freedom of our Towns, or the Freeholds in our Counties, as far as voting is concerned, are not worth attending to. It may be so; but pray consider, if you yourselves do choose to make it inconvenient for you to come and vote, by retiring into distant Countries,—what is that to us? And why are we to be reproached for committing a ‘Violation on the Birth-rights of Englishmen, which, if it be a Violation, is committed only by yourselves?’ It seems, you find it to be your particular Interest to live in the Colonies; it seems, that you prefer the Emoluments of residing there to your Capacity, or Capability (take which Word you please) of residing and voting here. Now this is your own free Choice; and we leave you at full Liberty to act as you think proper: But then, are we obliged to alter our Political System merely to accord with your Convenience? Are we to change and new model our fixed and ancient Constitution, just as you shall see fit to command us? and according as it shall please you to remove from Place to Place? And is this the Complaisance, which you expect the Mother Country should shew to her dutiful Children? Yes, it is; and you demand it too with a loud Voice, full of Anger, of Defiance, and Denunciation.
However, the Lion is not always so fierce as he is painted; and ’till we are beaten into a Compliance, it is to be hoped, that we may be allowed to expostulate with you in a few harmless, unbloody Words. Granting therefore, that the Colonies are unrepresented in the British Parliament: Granting that two Millions of People in America have, in this Respect, no Choice, nor Election of their own, through the Necessity of the Case, and their Distance from the Place of Election:—What would you infer from this Concession? And wherein can such Kind of Topics support your Cause? For know, young Man, that not only two Millions which are the utmost, that your exaggerated Accounts can be swelled to;—I say not only two Millions, but six Millions at least of the Inhabitants of Great-Britain, are still unrepresented in the British Parliament. And this Omission arises, not from the Necessity of the Case, not from consulting Interest and Convenience as with you, but from original Ideas of Gothic Vassalage,—from various Casualties and Accidents,—from Changes in the Nature of Property,—from the Alteration of Times and Circumstances,—and from a thousand other Causes. Thus, for Example, in the great Metropolis, and in many other Cities, landed Property itself hath no Representative in Parliament; Copyholds and Leaseholds of various Kinds have none likewise, though of ever so great a Value. This you yourself very well know; because when you were here last, you knew, that I was possessed of considerable landed Property in London, and of several Copyhold and beneficial Leaseholds, in the Country, and yet that I never had a Vote. Moreover, in some Towns neither Freedom, nor Birth right, nor the serving of an Apprenticeship, shall entitle a Man to give his Vote, though they may enable him to set up a Trade: In other Towns the most numerous, the most populous and flourishing of any, there are no Freedoms or Votes of any Sort; but all is open; and none are represented. And besides all this, it is well known, that the great East-India Company, which have such vast Settlements, and which dispose of the Fate of Kings and Kingdoms abroad, have not so much as a single Member, or even a single Vote, quatenus a Company, to watch over their Interests at home. What likewise shall we say in regard to the prodigious Number of Stock-holders in dur public Funds? And may not their Property, perhaps little short of One hundred Millions Sterling, as much deserve to be represented in Parliament, as the scattered Townships, or straggling Houses of some of your Provinces in America? Yet we raise no Commotions; we neither ring the Alarm-Bell, nor sound the Trumpet; but submit to be taxed without being represented, and taxed too, let me tell you, for your Sakes. Witness the additional Duties on our Lands, Windows, Houses; also on our Malt, Beer, Ale, Cyder, Perry, Wines, Brandy, Rum, Coffee, Chocolate, &c. &c. &c. for defraying the Expences of the late War,—nor forgetting the grievous Stamp-Duty itself. All this, I say, we submitted to, when you were, or at least, when you pretended to be, in great Distress; so that neither Men, almost to the last Drop of Blood we could spill,—nor Money, to the last Piece of Coin, were spared: But all was granted away, all was made a Sacrifice, when you cried out for Help. And the Debt which we contracted on this Occasion, is so extraordinary, as not to be parallelled in History. It is to be hoped, for the Credit of human Nature, that the Returns which you have made us for these Succours, and your present Behaviour towards us, which perhaps is still more extraordinary, may not be parallelled likewise.
But as you Americans do not chuse to remember any thing, which we have done for you;—though we, and our Children shall have Cause to remember it ’till latest Posterity;—let us come to the Topic, which you yourselves do wish to rest your Cause upon, and which you imagine to be the Sheet Anchor of your State Vessel. “You are not represented; and you are Two Milions; therefore you ought not to be taxed.” We are not represented; and we are Six Millions; therefore we ought not to be taxed. Which now, even in your own Sense of Things, have most Reason to complain? And which Grievance, if it be a Grievance, deserves first to be redressed? Be it therefore supposed, than an Augmentation ought to take place in our House of Commons, in order to represent in Parliament the prodigious Numbers of British Subjects hitherto unrepresented. In this Case the first Thing to be done, is to settle the Proportion. And therefore if Two Millions (the Number of Persons actually represented at present) require Five Hundred and Fifty-eight Representatives (which I think is the Number of our modern House of Commons) how many will Six Millions require?—The Answer is, that they will require One Thousand Six Hundred and Seventy-four Representatives. Now this is the first Augmentation, which is to be made to our List of Parliament Men. And after this Increase, we are to be furnished, by the same Rule of Proportion, with Five Hundred and Fifty-eight more from the Colonies. So that the total Numbers will be Two Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Representatives in Parliament! A goodly Number truly! and very proper for the Dispatch of Business! Oh, the Decency and Order of such an Assembly! The Wisdom and Gravity of Two Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Legisiators all met together in one Room! What a Pity is it, that so hopeful a Project should not be carried into immediate Execution!
But, my noble Senator,—for certainly you yourself intend to figure away in such an august Assembly,—permit an old Man to reveal one Secret to you, before you proceed any further in your representing Scheme—That the Complaint itself of being unrepresented, is entirely false and groundless. For both the Six Millions at home, and the Two Millions in the Colonies, are all represented already. This perhaps may startle you; but nevertheless this is the Fact. And though I have hitherto used a different Language merely to accommodate myself to your Ideas, and to confute your Folly in your own Way, I must now tell you, that every Member of Parliament represents you and me, and our public Interests in all essential Points, just as much as if we had voted for him. For though one Place, or one Set of Men may elect, and send him up to Parliament, yet, when once he becomes a Member, he becomes then the equal Guardians of all. And he ought not, by the Duty of his Office, to shew a Preference to his own Town City, or County, but in such Cases only, where a Preference shall not be found to interfere with the general Good. Nay, he ought in Conscience to give his vote in Parliament against the Sense, and against the Instructions of his Electors, if he should think in his Conscience, that what they require, is wrong in itself, is illegal or injurious, and detrimental to the public Welfare. This then being the Case, it therefore follows, that our Birminghams, Manchesters, Leeds, Halifaxes, &c. and your Bostons, New-Yorks, and Philadelphias, are all as really, though not so nominally represented, as any Part whatsoever of the British Empire:—And that each of these Places have in fact, instead of one or two, not less than Five Hundred and Fifty-eight Guardians in the British Senate. A Number abundantly sufficient, as far as human Prudence can suggest, or the present imperfect State of Things will permit, for the Security of our Rights, and the Preservation of our Liberties.
But perhaps you will say, That though it may be a Senator’s Duty to regard the Whole rather than a Part, and to be the equal Protector of all;—yet he will, in fact, regard that most, which can best promote his own Interest, and secure his Election another Time. It may be so: For who can guard against all Possibility of Danger? And what System can there be devised, but may be attended with Inconveniences and Imperfections in some Respect or other?—Nevertheless, if your general Objection proves any thing, it proves a great deal too much: For it proves that no Man ought to pay any Tax, but that only, to which the Member of his own Town, City, and County, hath particularly assented: Because all other Members being chosen by other Persons, and not by him, and perhaps by Persons in an opposite Interest are therefore not his Representatives, and consequently not the true Guardians of his Property. Being therefore without a Representative in such a Parliament, he is under no Obligation to obey its Laws, or pay any of its Taxes.
Where now, my Friend, will you turn? And what can you do to extricate yourself from the Difficulties which arise on all Sides on this Occasion? You cannot turn about, and say, that the other Representatives, whom this Man never chose, and for whom he had no Vote to give, and against whom perhaps he had particular Exceptions, have nevertheless a Right of taxing him because he makes a Part of the Body Politic implied in, and concluded by the rest;—you cannot say this, because the Doctrine of Implication is the very Thing to which you object, and against which you have raised so many Batteries of popular Noise and Clamour. Nay, as the Objection is entirely of your own making, it must go still further: For if your Argument is good for any thing, it is as good for North-America as it is for Great-Britain; and consequently you must maintain, that all those in your several Provinces who have no Votes (and many Thousands of such there are) and also all those Voters, whose Representatives did not expressly consent to the Act of your Assemblies for raising any of your own provincial Taxes,—ought not to be compelled to pay them. These now are the happy Consequences of your own Principles, fairly, clearly, and evidently deduced: Will you abide by them?
But however, not to push you into more Absurdities of this Kind, let us wave the present Point, and come to another. For, after all your doleful Complaints, what if it should appear, that these Five Hundred and Fifty-eight Parliamentary Guardians, who represent you only by Implication, have, in fact, been kinder and more bountiful to you Americans, than they have been to their own British Voters, whom they represent by Nomination? And, what if even this Argument, so full of Sorrow and Lamentation, should at last be retorted upon you, and made to conclude, like all the rest, the very Reverse of what you intended? This, I believe, is what you little expected: But nevertheless, this is the Case: For if there be any Partiality to be complained of in the Conduct of the British Parliament, it will appear to be a Partiality in Favour of the Colonies, and against the Mother Country. Do you demand my Authority; for this Assertion? I will give it you:—The Statutes of the Realm are my Authority; and surely you cannot demand a better. By these then it will appear, that a Colonist, who is consequently subordinate to the Mother Country in the very Nature to Things, is nevertheless put upon a better Footing, in many Respects, than an Inhabitant of Great-Britain. By these it will appear, that the Parliament, like an over-indulgent Parent to his favourite, froward Child, hath been continually heaping Favours upon you, of which we are not permitted to taste. Thus, for Example, you have your Choice, whether you will accept of my Price for your Tobacco,—or after bringing it here, whether you will carry it away, and try your Fortune at another Market: But I have no Alternative allowed, being obliged to buy yours at your own Price; or else to pay such a Duty for the Tobacco of other Countries, as must amount to a Prohibition. Nay, in order to favour your Plantations, I am not permitted to plant this Herb on my own Estate, though the Soil should be ever so proper for it. Again, the same Choice, and the same Alternative are allowed to you, and denied to me, in regard to Rice; with this additional Advantage, that in many Respects you need not bring it into England at all, unless you are so minded. And what will you say in Relation to Hemp? The Parliament now gives you a Bounty of 8l. per Ton for exporting your Hemp from North-America; but will allow me nothing for growing it here in England; nay, will tax me very severely for fetching it from any other Country; though it be an Article most essentially necessary for all the Purposes of Shipping and Navigation. Moreover in respect to the Culture of Raw Silk, you have an immense Parliamentary Premium for that Purpose; and you receive further Encouragements from our Society for Arts and Sciences, which is continually adding fresh Rewards:—But I can receive no Encouragement either from the one, or from the other, to bear my Expences at first setting out; though most undeniably the white Mulberry-Trees can thrive as well on my Grounds, as they can in Switzerland, Brandenburgh, Denmark, or Sweden, where vast Quantities are now raising. Take another Instance:—Why shall not I be permitted to buy Pitch, Tar, and Turpentine,—without which I cannot put my Ships to Sea;—and Indigo, so useful in many Manufactures;—why shall not I be permitted to purchase these Articles wherever I can, the best in their Kind, and on the best Terms?—No, I shall not; for though they are all raw Materials, which therefore ought to have been imported Duty free, yet I am restrained by an heavy Duty, almost equal to a Prohibition, from purchasing them any where, but from you:—Whereas you on the contrary are paid a Bounty for selling these very Articles, at the only Market, in which you could sell them to Advantage, viz. the English* .
Much more might have been said on this Subject; and the like Observations might have been extended to the Sugar Colonies: But I forbear. For indeed enough has been said already (and as it exposes our Partiality and Infatuation a little severely, perhaps too much)—in order to prove to the World, that of all People upon Earth, you have the least Reason to complain.
But complain you will; and no sooner is one Recital of imaginary Grievances silenced and confuted; but like the Hydra in the Fable, up starts another. Let us see, therefore, what is your next Objection, which I think, is the last, that with all your Zeal, and Goodwill, you are able to muster up.—“The Inexpediency and Excessiveness of such a Tax! a Tax ill-timed in itself, and ill digested! unseasonably laid on! and exceeding all Rules of Proportion in regard to the Abilities of those who are to pay it!”
Now, my Friend, had there been any Truth, in these Assertions, which I shall soon make to appear, that there is not;—but had there been, the Plea itself comes rather at the latest, and out of Place from you:—from you, I say, who peremptorily object to the very Power and Authority of the British Parliament of laying any internal Taxes upon the Colonies, great or small or at any Time seasonable, or unseasonable. And therefore, had you been able to have proved the Illegality of such a Tax, it would have been quite superfluous to have informed us afterwards, that this Usurpation of your Rights and Liberties was either an excessive, or an unseasonable Usurpation. But as you have failed in this first Point; nay, as all your own Arguments have proved the very reverse of what you intended; and very probably, as you yourself was not originally quite satisfied with the Justice of your Cause;—and must have seen abundant Reason before this Time to have altered your former hasty, and rash Opinion;—I will therefore wave the Advantage, and now debate the Point with you, as though you had acknowledged the Parliamentary Right of Taxation, and only excepted to the Quantum, or the Mode, the Time, or the Manner of it.
Now two Things are here to be discussed; first, the pretended Excessiveness of the Tax; and secondly, the Unseasonableness of it. As to the Excessiveness of the Stamp Duties, the Proof of this must depend upon the Proof of a previous Article,—the relative Poverty, and Inability of those, who are to pay it. But how do you propose to make out this Point? And after having given us for some Years past such Displays of your growing Riches and encreasing Magnificence, as perhaps never any People did in the same Space of Time; how can you now retract and call yourselves a poor People? Remember, my young Man, the several Expostulations I had with your deceased Father on the prodigious Increase of American Luxury. And what was his Reply? Why, that an Increase of Luxury was an inseparable Attendant on an Increase of Riches; and that, if I expected to continue my North-American Trade, I must suit my Cargo to the Taste of my Customers; and not to my own old-fashioned Notions of the Parsimony of former Days, when America was a poor Country. Remember therefore the Orders given by him, and afterwards by you, to have your Assortment of Goods made richer, and finer every Year. And are your Gold and Silver Laces;—your rich Brocades, Silks and Velvets;—your Plate, and China, and Jewels;—your Coaches and Equipages,—your sumptuous Furniture, Prints, and Pictures. Are all these Things now laid aside? Have you no Concerts, or Assemblies, no Play Houses, or Gaming Houses, now subsisting? Have you put down your Horse Races and other such like Sports and Diversions? And is the Luxury of your Tables, and the Variety and Profusion of your Wines and Liquors quite banished from among you?—These are the Questions, which you ought to answer, before an Estimate can be made of your relative Poverty, or before any Judgment can be formed concerning the Excessiveness of the Tax.
But I have not yet done with you on this Head. For even though you were poor (which you know, you are not, compared with what you were Thirty Years ago) it may nevertheless happen, that our relative Poverty may be found to be greater than yours. And if so, when a new Burden is to be laid on, the proper Question is, which of these two Sorts of poor People, is the best able, or, if you please, the least unable to bear it?—especially if it be taken into the Account, that this additional Load is an American Burthen, and not a British one. Be it therefore granted, according to what you say, that you are Two Millions of Souls; be it also allowed, as it is commonly asserted, that the Public Debt of the several Provinces amounts to about 800,000l. Sterling; and in the next Place, be it supposed, for Argument’s Sake, that were this general Debt equally divided among the Two Millions, each Individual would owe about the Value of Eight Shillings. Thus stands the Account on one Side. Now we in Britain are reckoned to be about Eight Millions of Souls; and we owe almost One Hundred and Forty-four Millions of Money; which Debt were it equally divided among us, would throw a Burthen upon each Person of about 18l. Sterling. This then being the State of the Case on both Sides, would it be so capital an Offence, would it be High-Treason in us to demand of you, who owe so little, to contribute equally with ourselves, who owe so much, towards the public Expences;—and such Expences too as you were the Cause of creating?—Would it be a Crime of a Nature so very heinous and diabolical, as to call forth the hottest of your Rage and Fury? Surely no:—And yet, my gentle Friend, we do not so much as ask you to contribute equally with ourselves, we only demand, that you would contribute something. And what is this something? Why truly it is, that when we raise about Eight Millions of Money annually upon Eight Millions of Persons, we expect, that you would contribute One Hundred Thousand Pounds (for the Stamp Duty upon the Continent alone, without comprehending the Islands, cannot possibly amount to more) I say, we expect, that you should contribute One Hundred Thousand Pounds to be raised on Two Millions: that is, when each of us pays, one with another, Twenty Shillings per Head, we expect, that each of you should pay the Sum of One Shilling! Blush! blush for shame at your perverse and scandalous Behaviour!—Words still more severe, and perhaps more just, are ready to break forth, through an honest Indignation:—But I suppress them.
Perhaps you will say, and I think it is the only Thing left for you to say in Excuse for such Proceedings, that you have other Public Taxes to pay, besides those which the British Parliament now requires. Undoubtedly you have, for your Provincial and other Taxes are likewise to be paid: But here let me ask, is not this our Case also? And have not we many other Taxes to discharge besides those which belong to the Public, and are to be accounted for at the Exchequer? Surely we have: Witness our County Taxes, Militia Taxes, Poor Taxes, Vagrant Taxes, Bridge Taxes, High Road and Turnpike Taxes, Watch Taxes, Lamps and Scavenger Taxes, &c. &c. &c.—all of them as numerous and as burthensome as any that you can mention, And yet with all this Burthen, yea, with an additional Weight of a National Debt of 18l. Sterling per Head,—we require of each of you to contribute only One Shilling to every Twenty from each of us!—yes; and this Shilling too to be spent in your own Country, for the Support of your own Civil and Military Establishments; together with many Shillings drawn from us for the same Purpose. Alas! had you been in our Situation, and we in yours, would you have been content with our paying so small, so inconsiderable a Share of the Public Expences? And yet, small and inconsiderable as this Share is, you will not pay it. No, you will not! And be it at our Peril, if we demand it.
Now, my Friend, were Reason and Argument, were Justice, Equity, or Candour to be allowed by you to have any Concern in this Affair, I would then say, that you Americans are the most unfortunate People in the World in your Management of the present Controversy. Unfortunate you are, because the very Attempts you make towards setting forth your Inability, prove to a Demonstration, that you are abundantly able, were you but truly willing to pay this Tax. For how, and in what Manner do you prove your Allegations? Why truly, by breaking forth into Riots and Insurrections, and by committing every kind of Violence, that can cause Trade to stagnate, and Industry to cease. And is this the Method, which you have chosen to pursue, in order to make the World believe, that you are a poor People? Is this the Proof you bring, that the Stamp Duty is a Burthen too heavy for you to bear? Surely, if you had really intended our Conviction, you would have chosen some other Medium: And were your Inability, or Poverty the single Point in Question, you would not have taken to such Courses, as must infallibly render you still the poorer. For in fact, if, after all your Complaints of Poverty, you can still afford to idle away your Time, and to waste Days, and Weeks, in Outrages and Uproars; what else do you prove, but that you are a prodigal, and extravagant People? For you must acknowledge, that if but Half of this Time were spent, as it ought to be, in honest Industry and useful Labour, it would have been more than sufficient to have paid double the Tax which is now required.
But you will still say, that though the Tax may be allowed (nay indeed it must be allowed) to be very moderate, every thing considered, and not all excessive; “It may nevertheless be laid on very unseasonably; it may be wrong-timed, and ill-digested.”
Now, here I must own, that I am somewhat at a Loss how to answer you, because I am not quite certain that I unsterstand your Meaning. If, for Example, by the Term ill-digested, you would insinuate, that the American Stamp Duty would grind the Faces of the Poor, and permit the Rich to escape;—that it would affect the Necessaries, and not the Superfluities of Life;—that it would prevent the Building of Houses, or the Clearing of Lands, or the Cultivation of Estates already cleared;—or lastly, that it would diminish the Number of your Shipping, or stop the Pay of your Sailors: If these, or any of these are the Evils, which you would lay to the Charge of the Stamp Duty, nothing upon Earth could be a falser Charge; and you could not give a stronger Proof either of your Defect in Judgment, or Want of Integrity, than by uttering such Assertions as these;—Assertions, which both daily Experience and the Nature of Things evidently demonstrate to be void of Truth. We in Britain have been subject to a Stamp Duty for many, very many Years; a Duty much higher than that which is intended for America; and yet we know by long Experience, that it hath not been attended with any of the dreadful Consequences which are here supposed.
Again, as to the wrong-timing, or the Unseasonableness of this Tax:—If by this you mean to say, that it was laid on, at a Time, when you were poorer, and less able to bear it, than you were before;—that is false also. For you never were richer, and you never were more able to contribute your Quota towards the general Expences, than at the Juncture of laying on this Tax. To prove this, let it be observed, that just before this Event, you had not only been draining the Mother Country by the immense Sums drawn from us to pay our Fleets and Armies, when acting in Defence of America;—and that your Jobbers and Contractors had not only been sucking our Blood and Vitals by their extortionate Demands;—but you had also been enriched by the Spoils, and by the Traffic of the numerous Colonies of France and Spain. For you were continually acting the double Part either of Trade, or War, of Smuggling, or Privateering, according to the Prospect of greater Gain. And while we at Home were exerting our utmost to put a speedy End to the War by an honourable Peace,—you on the contrary were endeavouring to prolong it as much as possible; and were supplying our Enemies with all Manner of Provisions, and all Sorts of warlike Stores for that Purpose. Nay, because a Part of these ill-gotten Riches was laid out in English Manufactures (there being at that Time hardly a Possibility of purchasing any but English, when our Fleets were absolute Masters of the Sea) your Advocates and Authors trumpeted aloud the prodigious Profits of this North-American Trade;—not considering, or rather not willing that we should consider, that while a few Individuals were getting Thousands, the Public was spending Millions.
Once more:—If by the Epithet unseasonable, you would be understood to mean, that there was no need of taxing you at all at that Juncture; because the Mother Country was still as able to carry the additional Load, which you had brought upon her, as she had been to bear all the rest: If this be your Meaning, I must tell you once for all, that you are egregiously mistaken. For we can bear no more: we cannot support ourselves under heavier Taxations, even were we ever so willing; we have strained every Nerve already, and have no Resources left for new Impositions. Therefore let what will come of the present Affairs, let the Stamp Duty be repealed, or not; still the Expences of America must be borne by the Americans in some Form, or under some Denomination or other.
But after all; perhaps you meant none of these Things; perhaps you meant to insinuate (though it was Prudence in you not to speak out) that the late Act was ill-contrived and ill-timed; because it was made at a Juncture, when neither the French nor Indians were in your Rear to frighten, nor the English Fleets and Armies on your Front to force you to a Compliance. Perhaps this was your real Meaning; and if it was, it must be confessed, that in that Sense, the late Act was not well-timed; and that a much properer Season might have been chosen. For had the Law been made five or six Years before, when you were moving Heaven and Earth with your Cries and Lamentations; not a Tongue would then have uttered a Word against it; all your Orators would have displayed their Eloquence on other Topics; and even American Patriotism itself would at that Season have made no Difficulty of acknowledging, that the Mother Country had a Right to the Obedience of the Colonies in Return for her kind and generous Protection.
Upon the whole therefore, what is the Cause of such an amazing Outcry as you raise at present?—Not the Stamp Duty itself; all the World are agreed on that Head; and none can be so ignorant, or so stupid, as not to see, that this is a mere Sham and Pretence. What then are the real Grievances, seeing that the Things which you alledge are only the pretended ones? Why, some of you are exasperated against the Mother Country, on account of the Revival of certain Restrictions laid upon their Trade:—I say, a*Revival; for the same Restrictions have been the standing Rules of Government from the Beginning; though not enforced at all Times with equal Strictness. During the late War, you Americans could not import the Manufactures of other Nations (which it is your constant Aim to do, and the Mother Country always to prevent) so conveveniently as you can in Times of Peace; and therefore, there was no Need of watching you so narrowly, as far as that Branch of Trade was concerned. But immediately upon the Peace, the various Manufactures of Europe, particularly those of France, which could not find Vent before, were spread, as it were, over all your Colonies, to the prodigious Detriment of your Mother Country; and therefore our late Set of Ministers acted certainly right, in putting in Force the Laws of their Country, in order to check this growing Evil. If in so doing, they committed any Error; or, if the Persons to whom the Execution of these Laws were intrusted, exceeded their Instructions; there is no Doubt to be made, but that all this will be rectified by the present Administration. And having done that, they will have done all that in Reason you can expect from them. But alas! the Expectations of an American carry him much further: For he will ever complain and smuggle, and smuggle and complain, ’till all Restraints are removed, and ’till he can both buy and sell, whenever, and wheresoever he pleases. Any thing short of this, is still a Grievance, a Badge of Slavery, an Usurpation on the natural Rights and Liberties of a free People, and I know not how many bad Things besides.
But, my good Friend, be assured, that these are Restraints, which neither the present, nor any future Ministry can exempt you from. They are the standing Laws of the Kingdom; and God forbid, that we should allow that dispensing Power to our Ministers, which we so justly deny to our Kings. In short, while you are a Colony, you must be subordinate to the Mother Country. These are the Terms and Conditions, on which you were permitted to make your first Settlements: They are the Terms and Conditions on which you alone can be entitled to the Assistance and Protection of Great Britain;—they are also the fundamental Laws of the Realm;—and I will add further that if we are obliged to pay many Bounties for the Importation of your Goods, and are excluded from purchasing such Goods, in other Countries (where we might purchase them on much cheaper Terms) in order to promote your Interest;—by Parity of Reason you ought to be subject to the like Exclusions, in order to promote ours. This then being the Case, do not expect, from the present Ministry, that which is impossible for any Set of Ministers to grant. All that they can do, is to connive a while at your unlawful Proceedings. But this can be but of short Duration: For as soon as ever fresh Remonstrances are made by the British Manufacturers, and British Merchants, the Ministry must renew the Orders of their Predecessors; they must enforce the Laws; they must require Searches, and Confiscations to be made; and then the present Ministers will draw upon themselves, for doing their Duty, just the same Execrations, which you now bestow upon the last.
So much as to your first Grievance; and as to your second, it is, beyond Doubt, of a Nature still worse. For many among you are sorely concerned, That they cannot pay their British Debts with an American Sponge. This is an intolerable Grievance; and they long for the Day when they shall be freed from this galling Chain. Our Merchants in London, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow &c. &c. perfectly understand your many Hints and Inuendoes to us, on this Head. But indeed, lest we should be so dull as not to comprehend your Meaning, you have spoken out, and proposed an open Association against paying your just Debts. Had our Debtors in any other Part of the Globe, had the French or Spaniards proposed the like (and surely they have all at least an equal Right) what Name would you have given to such Proceedings? But I forget: You are not the faithless French or Spaniards: You are ourselves: You are honest Englishmen.
Your third Grievance is the Sovereignty of Great-Britain: For you want to be independent: You wish to be an Empire by itself, and to be no longer the Province of another. This Spirit is uppermost; and this Principle is visible in all your Speeches, and all your Writings, even when you take some Pains to disguise it.—“What! an Island! A Spot such as this to command the great and mighty Continent of North-America! Preposterous! A Continent, whose Inhabitants double every five and twenty Years! Who therefore, within a Century and an Half will be upwards of an hundred and twenty Millions of Souls!—Forbid it Patriotism, forbid it Politics, that such a great and mighty Empire as this, So should be held in Subjection by the paltry Kingdom of Great-Britain! Rather let the Seat of Empire be transferred; and let it be fixt, where it ought to be, viz. in Great America!”
Now my good Friend, I will not stay to dispute with you the Calculations, on which your Orators, Philosophers, and Politicians have, for some Years past, grounded these extravagant Conceits (though I think the Calculations themselves both false, and absurd); but I will only say, that while we have the Power, we may command your Obedience, if we please: And that it will be Time enough for you to propose the making us a Province to America, when you shall find yourselves able to execute the Project.
In the mean Time, the great Question is, What Course are we to take? And what are we to do with you, before you become this great and formidable People?—Plain and evident it is by the whole Tenor of your Conduct, that you endeavour, with all your Might to drive us to Extremities. For no Kind of Outrage, or Insult, is omitted on your Part, that can irritate Individuals, or provoke a Government to chastise the Insolence, not to say the Rebellion, of its Subjects; and you do not seem at all disposed to leave Room for an Accommodation. In short, the Sword is the only Choice, which you will permit us to make; unless we will chuse to give you entirely up, and subscribe a Recantation. Upon those Terms indeed, you will deign to acknowledge the Power and Authority of a British Parliament;—that is, you will allow, that we have a Right and a Power to give you Bounties, and to pay your Expences; but no other. A strange Kind of Allegiance this! And the first that has ever yet appeared in the History of Mankind!
However, this being the Case, shall we now compel you, by Force of Arms, to do your Duty?—Shall we procrastinate your Compulsion?—Or shall we entirely give you up, and have no other Connections with you, than if you had been so many Sovereign States, or Independent Kingdoms? One or other of these three will probably be resolved upon: And if it should be the first, I do not think that we have any Cause to fear the Event, or to doubt of Success.
For though your Populace may rob and plunder the Naked and Defenceless, this will not do the Business when a regular Force is brought against them. And a British Army, which performed so many brave Actions in Germany, will hardly fly before an American Mob; not to mention that our Officers and Soldiers, who passed several Campaigns with your Provincials in America, saw nothing either in their Conduct, or their Courage, which could inspire them with a Dread of seeing the Provincials a second Time.—Neither should we have the least Cause to suspect the Fidelity of our Troops, any more than their Bravery,—notwithstanding the base Insinuations of some of your Friends here (if indeed such Persons deserve to be called your Friends, who are in reality your greatest Foes, and whom you will find to be so at the last); notwithstanding, I say, their Insinuations of the Feasibility of corrupting his Majesty’s Forces, when sent over, by Means of large Bribes, or double Pay. This is a Surmise, as weak as it is wicked: For the Honour of the British Soldiery, let me tell you, is not so easily corrupted. The French in Europe never found it so, with all their Gold, or all their Skill for Intrigue, and insinuating Address. What then, in the Name of Wonder, have you to tempt them with in America, which is thus to overcome, at once, all their former Sense of Duty, all the Tyes of Conscience, Loyalty and Honour?—Besides, my Friend, if you really are so rich, as to be able to give double Pay to our Troops, in a wrong Cause; do not grudge, let me beseech you, to give one third of single Pay (for we ask no more) in a right one:—And let it not be said, that you complain of Poverty, and plead an Inability to pay your just Debts, at the very Instant that you boast of the scandalous Use which you intend to make of your Riches.
But notwithstanding all this, I am not for having Recourse to Military Operations. For granting, that we shall be victorious, still it is proper to enquire, before we begin, How we are to be benefitted by our Victories? And what Fruits are to result from making you a conquered People?—Not an Increase of Trade; that is impossible: For a Shop-keeper will never get the more Custom by beating his Customers: And what is true of a Shop-keeper, is true of a Shop-keeping Nation. We may indeed vex and plague you, by stationing a great Number of Ships to cruize along your Coasts; and we may appoint an Army of Custom-house Officers to patrole (after a Manner) two thousand Miles by Land. But while we are doing these Things against you, what shall we be doing for ourselves? Not much, I am afraid: For we shall only make you the more ingenious, the more intent, and the more inventive to deceive us. We shall sharpen your Wits, which are pretty sharp already, to elude our Searches, and to bribe and corrupt our Officers. And after that is done, we may perhaps oblige you to buy the Value of twenty or thirty thousand Pounds of British Manufactures, more than you would otherwise have done,—at the Expence of two or three hundred thousand Pounds Loss to Great Britain, spent in Salaries, Wages, Ships, Forts, and other incidental Charges. Is this now a gainful Trade, and fit to be encouraged in a commercial Nation, so many Millions in Debt already? And yet this is the best, which we can expect by forcing you to trade with us, against your Wills, and against your Interests?
Therefore such a Measure as this being evidently detrimental to the Mother Country, I will now consider the second Proposal, viz. to procrastinate your Compulsion.—But what good can that do? And wherein will this Expedient mend the Matter? For if Recourse is to be had at last to the Military Power we had better begin with it at first; it being evident to the whole World, that all Delays on our Side will only strengthen the Opposition on yours, and be interpreted by you as a Mark of Fear, and not as an Instance of Lenity. You swell with too much vain Importance, and Self-sufficiency already; and therefore, should we betray any Token of Submission; or should we yield to these your ill-humoured and petulant Desires; this would only serve to confirm you in your present Notions, viz. that you have nothing more to do, than to demand with the Tone of Authority, and to insist, with Threatenings and Defiance, in order to bring us upon our Knees, and to comply with every unreasonable Injunction, which you shall be pleased to lay upon us. So that at last, when the Time shall come of appealing to the Sword, and of deciding our Differences by Dint of Arms, the Consequence of this Procrastination will be, that the Struggle will become so much the more obstinate, and the Determination the more bloody. Nay, the Merchants themselves, whose Case is truly pitiable for having confided so much to your Honour, and for having trusted you with so many hundred thousand Pounds, or perhaps with some Millions of Property, and for whose Benefit alone such a Suspension of the Stamp Act could be proposed; they* will find to their Costs, that every Indulgence of this Nature will only furnish another Pretence to you for the suspending of the Payment of their just Demands. In short, you declare, that the Parliament hath no Right to tax you; and therefore you demand a Renunciation of the Right, by repealing the Act. This being the Case, nothing less than a Renunciation can be satisfactory; because nothing else can amount to a Confession, that the Parliament has acted illegally and usurpingly in this Affair. A bare Suspension, or even a mere Repeal, is no Acknowledgement of Guilt; nay, it supposes quite the contrary; and only postpones the Exercise of this usurped Power to a more convenient Season. Consequently if you think you could justify the Non-payment of your Debts, ’till a Repeal took Place, you certainly can justify the Suspension of the Payment ’till we have acknowledged our Guilt. So that after all, the Question may come to this at last, viz. Shall we renounce any Legislative Authority over you, and yet maintain you as we have hitherto done? Or shall we give you entirely up, unless you will submit to be governed by the same Laws as we are, and pay something towards maintaining yourselves?
The first it is certain we cannot do; and therefore the next Point to be considered is (which is also the third Proposal) Whether we are to give you entirely up?—And after havingobliged you to pay your Debts, whether we are to have no further Connection with you, as a dependent State, or Colony.
Now, in order to judge properly of this Affair, we must give a Delineation of two Political Parties contending with each other, and struggling for Superiority:—And then we are to consider, which of these two, must be first tired of the Contest, and obliged to submit.
Behold therefore a Political Portrait of the Mother Country;—a mighty Nation under one Government of a King and Parliament,—firmly resolved not to repeal the Act, but to give it Time to execute itself,—steady and temperate in the Use of Power,—not having Recourse to sanguinary Methods,—but enforcing the Law by making the Disobedient feel the Want of it,—determined to protect and cherish those Colonies, which will return to their Allegiance within a limited Time (suppose twelve or eighteen Months)—and as determined to compel the obstinate Revolters to pay their Debts,—then to cast them off, and to exclude them for ever from the manifold Advantages and Profits of Trade, which they now enjoy by no other Title, but that of being a Part of the British Empire. Thus stands the Case; and this is the View of Things on one Side.
Observe again a Prospect on the other; viz. a Variety of little Colonies under a Variety of petty Governments,—Rivals to, and jealous of each other.—never able to agree about any thing before,—and only now united by an Enthusiastic Fit of false Patriotism;—a Fit which necessarily cools in Time, and cools still the faster, in Proportion, as the Object which first excited it is removed, or changed. So much as to the general Outlines of your American Features;—but let us now take a nearer View of the Evils, which by your own mad Conduct you are bringing so speedily upon yourselves.
Externally, by being severed from the British Empire, you will be excluded from cutting Logwood in the Bays of Campeache and Honduras,—from fishing on the Banks of Newfoundland, on the Coast of Labrador, or in the Bay of St. Laurence,—from trading (except by Stealth) with the Sugar Islands, or with the British Colonies in any Part of the Globe. You will also lose all the Bounties upon the Importation of your Goods into Great-Britain: You will not dare to seduce a single Manufacturer or Mechanic from us under Pain of Death; because you will then be considered in the Eye of the Law as mere Foreigners, against whom these Laws were made. You will lose the Remittance of 300,000l. a Year to pay your Troops; and you will lose the Benefit of these Troops to protect you against the Incursions of the much injured and exasperated Savages; moreover, in Case of Difference with other Powers, you will have none to complain to, none to assist you: For assure yourself, that Holland, France, and Spain, will look upon you with an evil Eye; and will be particularly on their Guard against you, lest such an Example should infect their own Colonies; not to mention that the two latter will not care to have such a Nest of professed Smugglers so very near them. And after all, and in Spite of any thing you can do, we in Britain shall still retain the greatest Part of your European Trade; because we shall give a better Price for many of your Commodities than you can have any where else; and we shall sell to you several of our Manufactures, especially in the Woollen, Stuff, and Metal Way, on cheaper Terms. In short you will do then, what you only do now; that is, you will trade with us, as far as your Interest will lead you; and no farther.
Take now a Picture of your internal State. When the great Power, which combined the scattered Provinces together, and formed them into one Empire, is once thrown off; and when there will be no common Head to govern and protect, all your ill Humours will break forth like a Torrent: Colony will enter into Bickerings and Disputes against Colony; Faction will intrigue and cabal against Faction; and Anarchy and Confusion will every where prevail. The Leaders of your Parties will then be setting all their Engines to work, to make Fools become the Dupes of Knaves, to bring to Maturity their half-formed Schemes and lurking Designs, and to give a Scope to that towering Ambition which was checked and restrained before. In the mean Time, the Mass of your People, who expected, and who are promised Mountains of Treasures upon throwing off, what was called, the Yoke of the Mother Country, will meet with nothing but sore Disappointments: Disappointments indeed! For instead of an imaginary Yoke, they will be obliged to bear a real, a heavy, and a galling one: Instead of being freed from the Payment of 100,000l. (which is the utmost that is now expected from them) they will find themselves loaded with Taxes to the Amount of at least 400,000l.: Instead of an Increase of Trade, they will feel a palpable Decrease; and instead of having Troops to defend them, and those Troops paid by Great-Britain, they must desend themselves, and pay themselves. Nay, the Number of the Troops to be paid, will be more than doubled; for some must be stationed in the back Settlements to protect them against the Indians, whom they have so often injured and exasperated, and others also on each Frontier to prevent the Encroachments of each Sister Colony. Not to mention, that the Expences of your Civil Governments will be necessarily increased; and that a Fleet, more or less, must belong to each Province for guarding their Coasts, ensuring the Payment of Duties, and the like.
Under all these Pressures and Calamities, your deluded Countrymen will certainly open their Eyes at last. For Disappointments and Distresses will effectuate that Cure, which Reason and Argument, Lenity and Moderation, could not perform. In short, having been severely scourged and disciplined by their own Rod, they will curse their Ambitious Leaders and detest those Mock-Patriots, who involved them in so many Miseries. And having been surfeited with the bitter Fruits of American Republicism, they will heartily wish, and petition to be again united to the Mother Country. Then they will experience the Difference between a rational Plan of Constitutional Dependence, and the wild, romantic, and destructive Schemes of popular Independence.
And you also, after you have played the Hero, and spoke all your fine Speeches; after you have been a Gustavus Vasa, and every other brave Deliverer of his Country; after you have formed a thousand Utopian Schemes, and been a thousand Times disappointed; perhaps even you may awake out of your present political Trance, and become a reasonable Man at last. And assure yourself, that whenever you can be cured of your present Delirium, and shall betray no Symptoms of a Relapse, you will be received with Affection by
Your old Uncle,
A. B.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE True Interest of Great-Britain SET FORTH In REGARD to the COLONIES;
A VERY strange Notion is now industriously spreading, that ’till the late unhappy Stamp-Act, there were no Bickerings and Discontents, no Heartburnings and Jealousies subsisting between the Colonies and the Mother Country. It seems ’till that fatal Period, all was Harmony, Peace, and Love. Now it is scarcely possible even for the most superficial Observer, if his Knowledge extends beyond the Limits of a Newspaper, not to know, That this is entirely false. And if he is at all conversant in the History of the Colonies, and has attended to the Accounts of their original Plantation, their Rise, and Progress, he must know, that almost from the very Beginning, there were mutual Discontents, mutual Animosities and Reproaches. Indeed, while these Colonies were in a mere State of Infancy, dependent on their Mother Country, not only for daily Protection, but almost for daily Bread, it cannot be supposed that they would give themselves the same Airs of Self-sufficiency and Independence, as they did afterwards, in Proportion as they grew up to a State of Maturity. But that they began very early to shew no other Marks of Attachment to their antient Parent, than what arose from Views of Self-Interest and Self-Love, many convincing Proofs might be drawn from the Complaints of, and the Instructions to, the Governors of the respective Provinces; from the Memorials of our Boards of Trade, presented from Time to Time to his Majesty’s Privy Council against the Behaviour of the Colonists; from the frequent Petitions and Remonstrances of our Merchants and Manufacturers to the same Effect; and even from the Votes and Resolutions of several of their Provincial Assemblies against the Interest, Laws, and Government of the Mother Country; yet I will wave all these at present, and content myself with Proofs still more authentic and unexceptionable; I mean the public Statutes of the Realm: For from them it evidently appears, that long before there were any Thoughts of the Stamp-Act, the Mother Country had the following Accusations to bring against the Colonies, viz. 1st, That they refused to submit to her Ordinances and Regulations in Regard to Trade.—2dly, That they attempted to frame Laws, and to erect Jurisdictions not only independently of her, but even in direct Opposition to her Authority.—And 3dly, That many of them took unlawful Methods to skreen themselves from paying the just Debts they owed to the Merchants and Manufacturers of Great-Britain.
These are the Objections of the Mother-Country to the Behaviour of the Colonies long before their late Outrages, and their present Conduct:—For even as early as the Year 1670, it doth appear, that manyComplaints (the very Words of the Act) had been made against the American Proprietors of Ships and Vessels, for engaging in Schemes of Traffic, contrary to the Regulations contained in the Act of Navigation, and in other Statutes of the Realm made for confining the Trade of the Colonies to the Mother Country. Nay, so sensible was the Parliament, above an hundred Years ago, that Prosecutions for the Breach of those Laws would be to little or no Effect, if carried on in American Courts, or before American Juries, that it is expressly ordained, “It shall, and may be lawful for any Person or Persons to prosecute such Ship or Vessel [offending as described in the preceding Section] in any Court of Admiralty in England; the one Moiety of the Forfeiture, in Case of Condemnation, to be to his Majesty, his Heirs, and Successors; and the other Moiety to such Prosecutor or Prosecutors thereof.” [See 22 and 23 of Ch. II. Cap. 26, § 12 and 13.] And we find, that two Years afterwards, viz. 25 of Ch. II. Cap. 7. the same Complaints were again renewed; and in Consequence thereof higher Duties and additional Penalties were laid on, for the more effectually enforcing of the Observance of this and of the former Laws: But in Spite of all that was done, Things grew worse and worse every Day. For it is observable, that in the Year 1696, the very Authority of the English Legislature, for making such Laws and Regulations, seemed to have been called in Question; which Authority, therefore, the Parliament was obliged to assert in Terms very peremptory;—and I may likewise add, very prophetical. The Law made on this Occasion was the famous Statute of the 7th and 8th of William II. Cap. 7. wherein, after the Recital of “divers Acts made for the Encouragement of the Navigation of this Kingdom, and for the better securing and regulating the Plantation Trade, it is remarked, that notwithstanding such Laws, great Abuses are daily committed to the Prejudice of the English Navigation, and the Loss of great Part of the Plantation Trade to this Kingdom, by the Artifice and Cunning of ill disposed Persons.” Then, having prescribed such Remedies as these great Evils seemed to require, the Act goes on at §. 7. to ordain, “That all the Penalties and Forfeitures beforementioned, not in this Act particularly disposed of, shall be one third Part to the Use of his Majesty, his Heirs, and Successors, and one third Part to the Governor of the Colony or Plantation where the Offence shall be committed, and the other third Part to such Person or Persons as shall sue for the same, to be recovered in any of his Majesty’s Courts at Westminster, or in the Kingdom of Ireland, or in the Courts of Admiralty held in his Majesty’s Plantations respectively, where such Offence shall be committed, at the Pleasure of the Officer or Informer, or in any other Plantation belonging to any Subject of England, wherein no Essoin, Protection, or Wager of Law shall be allowed; and that where any Question shall arise concerning the Importation or Exportation of any Goods into or out of the said Plantations, in such Case the Proof shall lie upon the Owner or Claimer; and the Claimer shall be reputed to be the Importer or Owner thereof.”
Now here it is obvious to every Reader, that the Suspicions which the Parliament had formerly conceived of the Partiality of American Courts, and American Juries in Trials at Law with the Mother-Country, were so far from being abated by Length of Time, that they were grown higher than ever; because it appears by this very Act, that the Power of the Officer or Informer was greatly enlarged, having the Option now granted him of three different Countries for prosecuting the Offence; whereas in the former of Charles II. made 16 Years before, he had only two. Moreover it was this Time further ordained, that the Onus probandi should rest on the Defendant, and also that no * Essoin, Protection, or † Wager of Law should be allowed him.
But above all, and in order to prevent, if possible every Sort of Chicane for the future, and to frustrate all Attempts of the Colonies, either to throw off or evade the Power and Jurisdiction of the Mother Country,—It was at § 9. “further enacted and declared by the Authority aforesaid, that all Laws, Bye-Laws, Usages, or Customs, at this Time, or which hereafter shall be in Practice, or endeavoured, or pretended to be in Force or Practice, in any of the said Plantations, which are in any wise repugnant to the before-mentioned Laws, or any of them, so far as they do relate to the said Plantations, or any of them, or which are any ways repugnant to this present Act, or to any otherLaw hereafter to be made in this Kingdom, so far as such Law shall relate to, and mention the said Plantations, are illegal, null, and void to allIntents and Purposes whatsoever.”
Words could hardly be devised to express the Sentiments of the English Legislature, more fully and strongly, than these have done: And if ever a Body of uninspired Men were endowed with a Spirit of Divination, or of foreseeing, and also of providing against untoward future Events, as far as human Prudence could extend, the King, Lords, and Commons of the Æra 1696, were the very Men. For they evidently foresaw, that a Time was approaching, when the Provincial Assemblies would dispute the Right of American Sovereignty with the great and general Council of the British Empire: And therefore they took effectual Care that, whenever the Time came, no Law, no Precedent, nor Prescription should be wanting, whereby the Mother Country might assert her constitutional and inherent Right over the Colonies.
But notwithstanding these wise Precautions, some of the Colonies found Ways and Means to evade the Force and Meaning even of this express Law; at least for a Time, and ’till the Legislature could be sufficiently apprized of the Injury designed. The Colonists, who practised these disingenuous Arts with most Success, were those who were endowed with chartered Governments, and who, in Consequence of the extraordinary Favours thereby indulged them, could nominate or elect their own Council, and (if my Memory doth not fail me) their own Governors likewise;—at least, who could grant such Salaries to their Governors, and with such Limitations, as would render them too dependent on the Will and Pleasure of their Pay-Masters. Hence therefore it came to pass, that in the Colonies of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, the Massachuset’s Bay, and New Hampshire; the Governors of these Provinces suffered themselves to be persuaded to give their Sanction to certain Votes and Resolutions of their Assemblies and Councils; whereby Laws were enacted first to issue out Bills of Credit to a certain Amount, and then to make a Tender of those Bills to be considered as an adequate Discharge of Debts, and a legal Release from Payment. A most compendious Method this for getting out of Debt! And were the like Artifice to be authorized every where, I think it is very evident, that none but the most stupid Ideot would be incapable of discharging his Debts, Bonds, or Obligations; and that too without advancing any Money.
However, as soon as the British Legislature came to be fully apprized of this Scheme of Iniquity, they passed a Law, “to regulate and restrain Paper Bills of Credit in his Majesty’s Colonies or Plantations, of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, the Massachuset’s Bay, and New Hampshire, in America; and to prevent the same being legalTenders in Payments of Money.”—This is the very Title of the Statute; but for further Particulars, and for the different Regulations therein contained, consult the Act itself, 24th of George II. Cap. 53, Anno 1751.
Now will any Man after this dare to say, that the Stamp-Act was the first Cause of Dissention between the Mother Country and her Colonies? Will any Man still persist in maintaining so gross a Paradox, that ’till that fatal Period, the Colonies shewed no Reluctance to submit to the commercial Regulations, no Disposition to contest the Authority, and no Desire to Question the Right of the Mother Country? The Man who can maintain these Paradoxes, is incapable of Conviction, and therefore is not to be reasoned with any longer. “But the Stamp-Act made bad to become worse:—The Stamp-Act irritated and inflamed, and greatly encreased all those ill Humours, which were but too predominant before.” Granted; and I will further add, that any other Act, or any other Measure, of the British Government, as well as the Stamp-Act, if it were to compel the Colonists to contribute a single Shilling towards the general Expence of the British Empire, would have had the same Effect. For, be it ever remembered, that the Colonists did not so much object to the Mode of this Taxation, as to the Right itself of levying Taxes. Nay, their Friends and Agents here in England were known to have frequently declared, That if any Tax were to be crammed down their Throats without their Consent, and by an Authority which they disallowed, they had rather pay this Stamp-Duty than any other.
But indeed, and properly speaking, it was not the Stamp-Act which increased or heightened these ill Humours in the Colonists; it was rather the Reduction of Canada, which called forth those Dispositions into Action which had long been generating before; and which were ready to burst forth at the first Opportunity that should offer. For an undoubted Fact it is, that from the Moment in which Canada came into the Possession of the English, an End was put to the Sovereignty of the Mother-Country over her Colonies. They had then nothing to fear from a foreign Enemy; and as to their own domestic Friends and Relations, they had for so many Years preceding been accustomed to trespass upon their Forbearance and Indulgence, even when they most wanted their Protection, that it was no Wonder they should openly renounce an Authority which they never thoroughly approved of, and which now they found to be no longer necessary for their own Defence.
But here some may be apt to ask, “Had the Colonies no Provocation on their Part? And was all the Fault on one Side, and none on the other?” Probably not:—Probably there were Faults on both Sides. But what doth this serve to prove? If to exculpate the Colonies in regard to their present refractory Behaviour, it is needless. For I am far from charging our Colonies in particular with being Sinners above others; because I believe (and if I am wrong, let the History of all Colonies, whether antient or modern, from the Days of Thucydides down to the present Time, confute me if it can) I say, ’till that is done I believe, that it is the Nature of them all to aspire after Independence, and to set up for themselves as soon as ever they find that they are able to subsist, without being beholden to the Mother-Country. And if our Americans have expressed themselves sooner on this Head than others have done, or in a more direct and daring Manner, this ought not to be imputed to any greater Malignity, or Ingratitude in them, than in others, but to that free Constitution, which is the Prerogative and Boast of us all. We ourselves derive our Origin from those very Saxons, who inhabited the lower Parts of Germany; and yet I think it is sufficiently evident, that we are not over complaisant to the Descendants of these lower Saxons, i. e. to the Offspring of our own Progenitors; nor can we with any Colour of Reason, pretend to complain that even the Bostonians have treated us more indignantly than we have treated the Hanoverians. What then would have been the Case, if the little insignificant Electorate of Hanover had presumed to retain a Claim of Sovereignty over such a Country as Great-Britain, the Pride and Mistress of the Ocean? And yet, I believe, that in Point of Extent or Territory, the present Electoral Dominions, insignificant as they are sometimes represented, are more than a Moiety of England, exclusive of Scotland and Wales: Whereas the whole Island of Great-Britain, is scarcely a twentieth Part of those vast Regions which go under the Denomination of North-America.
Besides, if the American Colonies belonging to France or Spain, have not yet set up for Independence, or thrown off the Masque so much as the English Colonies have done—what is this superior Reserve to be impured to? Not to any greater filial Tenderness in them for their respective antient Parents than in others;—not to Motives of any national Gratitude, or of national Honour;—but because the Constitution of each of those parent States is much more arbitrary and despotic than the Constitution of Great Britain; and therefore their respective Offsprings are * awed by the Dread of Punishments from breaking forth into those Outrages which ours dare do with Impunity. Nay more, the very Colonies of France and Spain, though they have not yet thrown off their Allegiance, are nevertheless as forward as any in disobeying the Laws of their Mother Countries, wherever they find an Interest in so doing. For the Truth of this Fact, I appeal to that prodigious clandestine Trade which they are continually carrying on with us, and with our Colonies, contrary to the express Prohibitions of France and Spain: And I appeal also to those very free Ports which the British Legislature itself hath lately opened for accommodating these smuggling Colonists to trade with the Subjects of Great-Britain, in Disobedience to the Injunction of their Mother-Countries.
Enough surely has been said on this Subject; and the Upshot of the whole Matter is plainly this,—That even the arbitrary and despotic Governments of France and Spain (arbitrary I say, both in Temporals and in Spirituals) maintain their Authority over their American Colonies but very imperfectly; in as much as they cannot restrain them from breaking through those Rules and Regulations of exclusive Trade; for the Sake of which all Colonies seemed to have been originally founded. What then shall we say in Regard to such Colonies as are the Offspring of a free Constitution? And after what Manner, or according to what Rule, are our own in particular to be governed, without using any Force or Compulsion, or pursuing any Measure repugnant to their own Ideas of civil or religious Liberty? In short, and to sum up all, in one Word, How shall we be able to render these Colonies more subservient to the Interests, and more obedient to the Laws and Government of the Mother Country, than they voluntarily chuse to be? After having pondered and revolved the Affair over and over, I confess, there seems to me to be but the five following Proposals, which can possibly be made, viz.
1st, To suffer Things to go on for a While, as they have lately done, in Hopes that some favourable Opportunity may offer for recovering the Jurisdiction of the British Legislature over her Colonies, and for maintaining the Authority of the Mother-Country.—Or if these temporising Measures should be found to strengthen and confirm the Evil, instead of removing it;—then,
2dly, To attempt to persuade the Colonies to send over a certain Number of Deputies, or Representatives, to sit and vote in the British Parliament; in order to incorporate America and Great-Britain into one common Empire.—Or if this Proposal should be found impracticable, whether on Account of the Difficulties attending it on this Side of the Atlantic, or because that the Americans themselves would not concur in such a Measure;—then,
3dly, To declare open War against them as Rebels and Revolters; and after having made a perfect Conquest of the Country, then to govern it by military Force and despotic Sway.—Or if this Scheme should be judged (as it ought to be) the most destructive, and the least eligible of any;—then,
4thly, To propose to consent that America should become the general Seat of Empire; and that Great-Britain and Ireland should be governed by Vice-Roys sent over from the Court Residencies, either at Philadelphia or New York, or at some other American imperial City.—Or if this Plan of Accommodation should be ill-digested by home born Englishmen, who, I will venture to affirm, would never submit to such an Indignity;—then,
5thly, To propose to separate entirely from the Colonies, by declaring them to be a free and independent People, over whom we lay no Claim; and then by offering to guarantee this Freedom and Independence against all foreign Invaders whomsoever.
Now these being all the Plans which, in the Nature of Things, seem capable of being proposed, let us examine each of them in their Order.[Back to Table of Contents]
And 1st, as to that which recommends the suffering all Things to go on as they have lately done, in Hopes that some favourable Opportunity may arise hereafter for recovering the Jurisdiction, and vindicating the Honour of the Mother Country.
This Proposal is very unhappy at first setting out; because it takes that for granted, which History and Experience prove to be false. It supposes, that Colonies may become the more obedient, in Proportion as they are suffered to grow the more headstrong, and to feel their own Strength and Independence; than which Supposition there cannot be a more palpable Absurdity. For if a Father is not able to govern his Son at the Ages of 14 or 16 Years, how can it be supposed that he will be better able when the Youth is become a Man of full Age and Stature, in the Vigour of Health and Strength, and the Parent perhaps more feeble and decrepid than he was before? Besides, it is a Fact, that the Colonies, from almost one End of North-America to the other, have already revolted from under the Jurisdiction of the British Legislature;—each House of Assembly hath already arrogated to themselves a new Name, by stiling themselves an House of Commons; in Consequence of which Stile and Title, they have already declared, that the British House of Commons neither hath, nor ought to have, any Right to intermeddle in their Concerns. Now, after they have advanced thus far already, what Rhetoric would you use for calling these Revolters back? And is it at all probable, that the Provincial Assemblies would be induced by the Force of Oratory to renounce their own Importance, and to acknowledge that to be a Crime, which both they, and the People whom they represent, glory in as their Birth-right and unalienable Prerogative? The Man who can suppose these Things, must have a most extraordinary Opinion of his own Eloquence.
But here perhaps some may be inclined to ask, Why would you meddle with the Colonies, at all? And why not suffer Things to remain in statu quo? The obvious Answer to which Questions is this,—* That it is not the Mother-Country which meddles with the Colonies, but the Colonies which meddle with the Mother-Country: For they will not permit her to govern in the Manner she ought to do, and according to the original Terms of the Constitution; but are making Encroachments on her Authority every Day. Moreover as they increase in Riches, Strength, and Numbers, their civil and military Establishments must necessarily increase likewise; and seeing that this Circumstance is unavoidable, who is to defray the growing Expences of these increasing and thriving Colonies?—“The Colonies themselves you will naturally say, because none are so fit, and none so able:” And perhaps some American Advocates will likewise add, “That the Colonies do not refuse to defray these Expences, provided they shall be the sole Judges of the Quantum to be raised, or the Mode of raising it, and of the Manner of its Application.” But here lies the Difficulty, which remains yet to be solved: For if the Colonies are to be allowed to be the sole Judges in these Matters, the Sovereignty of the British Legislature is entirely at an End; and these Colonies become in Fact, as much independent of their Mother-Country, as we are independent of Hanover or Hanover of us;—only indeed with this Difference (which an American always chuses to forget) That whereas we lay a Duty on all raw Materials coming from the Electoral Dominions, we give a Bounty on those which are imported from the Colonies. Besides, many will be apt to ask, Could not this Matter be compromised in some Degree? And will nothing less content the Colonies than a total Revolt from under the Jurisdiction of the Mother-Country?—Some well-meaning Persons have proposed, that each Colony, like each Country here in England, should be allowed to raise Taxes for its own internal Uses, whilst the British Parliament, the sovereign Council of the British Empire, should preside over the whole; and therefore should enact such Laws for the levying of those general Taxes, as are to be applied for the common Protection, the Good, and Benefit of all. But the Misfortune is, that the Colonies will not consent to this Partition of Power and Jurisdiction; consequently any Scheme of this Nature is utterly impracticable. Indeed the late Stamp-Act itself was no other than a Part of this very Scheme: For the Money to be raised by that Tax, was to be applied to the sole Use of the Colonies, and to be expended no where else but in the Colonies. Nay it was not the Moiety, nor yet the third, nor the fourth Part of the Sum which Great-Britain was to have raised on the same Account, and to have expended in the same Provinces:—So anxious was the ancient indulgent Parent not to lay too heavy a Burden on her favourite Children. But alas! Favourites of all Kinds seldom make those returns of Gratitude and Obedience, which might be expected. For even as to that boasted Loyalty, which the Colonies have hitherto professed to maintain towards his Majesty King George,—this stands, and must stand, according to their present political System, on as precarious a footing as any of the rest of our Claims: For if the British Parliaments have no Right to make Laws to bind the Colonies, they certainly ought not to be allowed to prescribe to them who shall be their King;—much less ought they to pretend to a Right of enacting, That it shall be a most capital Offence, even High Treason itself, in a Colonist to dare to controvert the Title of any Prince or any Family, to the Americans Throne, whom the British Parliament shall place thereon.
Besides, some of those lower Houses of Assemblies (which each Province now affects to call its House of Commons) have already proceeded to greater Lengths of Sovereignty and Independence than a British House of Commons ever presumed to do except in the Days of the grand Rebellion. For they have already arrogated to themselves a Power of disposing, as well as of raising the public Monies, without the Consent of the other Branches of the Legislature; which is, in fact, nothing less than the Erection of so many sovereign and independent Democracies. Nay more, there is a general Combination and Confederacy entered into among them all: For each House of Assembly hath lately appointed a standing Committee for corresponding with the standing Committees of other Provinces, in order the more effectually to oppose the Authority and Jurisdiction of the Mother-Country.
What then is to be done in such a Case? Evident it is beyond a dispute, that timid and temporising Measures serve to no other Purpose but that of confirming the Colonies in their Opposition, and strengthening them in their present Revolt.[Back to Table of Contents]
Wherefore the 2d Proposal is, To attempt to persuade the Colonies to send over a certain Number of Representatives to sit and vote in the British Parliaments, in order to incorporate America and Great-Britain into one common Empire.
*This is the Scheme of a very worthy Gentleman, eminently versed in the Laws and Constitution of Great-Britain, and what is still better, a real, not a pretended Patriot. Let us therefore examine it with as much Respect and Deference to his Opinion, as the Cause of Truth will permit; which I am well persuaded, is full as much as he would require.
He begins with observing very justly, Page 4, “That the Subjects of the Crown of Great-Britain, must (i. e. ought to) continue to be so in every Respect, in all Parts of the World, while they live under the Protection of the British Government; and that their crossing the Atlantic Ocean with the King’s Licence, and residing in America for the Purposes of Trade, cannot affect their legal Subjection to the governing Powers of the Community to which they belong.
“But yet he observes, that the total Want of Representatives in the great Council of the Nation, to support their Interests, and give an Assent on their Behalf to Laws and Taxes by which they are bound and affected, is a Misfortune, which every Friend to Liberty and equal Government must be sorry to see them labour under, and from which he must with them to be relieved in a regular and constitutional Manner, if such Relief can possibly be afforded them, without breaking the Unity of the British Government.”
He therefore proceeds, at Page 10, to propose his Scheme for remedying this Misfortune; viz. “That about eighty Persons might be admitted to sit in Parliament, as Members of the Commons House of Parliament for all the King’s Dominions in America, the West-Indies, as well as North America; and that their Stile and Title should be The Commissioners of the Colonies of America.” After this he goes on to fix the Numbers requisite to represent each Colony, their Qualification, and the Mode of their Election; also the Time of their continuing in Office, and the Manner of their being re-elected, or superseded by others, if that should be judged necessary: In all which, tho’ the Proposals are not quite consistent with the Unity of the British Government, yet as he has obviated the principal Difficulties, it would be both ill-natured and unjust to spy out every small Fault, or to magnify Objections.
But when he come to give us the Form, the Extent, and the Limitation of these Commissions; nay, when he proposes to circumscribe the Authority and Jurisdiction of the British Parliament itself, even after it hath been strengthened by the Accession of these Colony-Representatives; there, I humbly apprehend, the importance of the Subject should preponderate over mere Deference and Complaisance. Nay I will go still further, and add, that if the Measures proposed should be shewn to have a Tendency to beget endless Jealousies, Quarrels, and Divisions, between the Mother-Country and the Colonies, instead of proving a Means of Reconciliation, and a Center of Union, the Gentleman himself, I am fully persuaded, would be among the first in rejecting his own Plan. Let us therefore now descend into Particulars.
And 1st, it is proposed, Page 11, That they (the Commissioners) should receive a Commission in Writing from their Electors (viz. the * Assemblies in each Province) “impowering them to sit and vote in the British House of Commons, and consult with the King, and the Great Men of the Kingdom, and the Commons of the same in Parliament assembled, upon the great Affairs of the Nation, and to consent on the Behalf of the Province, for which they were chosen, to such Things as shall be ordained in Parliament, &c.
Now this Form might pass very well among ourselves at Home, where the Majority are not continually on the Watch to spy out every Flaw, real or imaginary: But in regard to the Colonists, and especially an Assembly of Colonists, the Case is widely different: For it is well known that their Wits are perpetually at work to avail themselves even of the Shadow of an Argument to oppose the Right and Authority of the Mother-Country. Therefore they will immediately seize on the Words impowering and Consent, and reason after the following fallacious Manner:—“The Assemblies who elected the Commissioners, have a Right to instruct them; and these Instructions, when properly drawn up, are no other than so many Trusts or Powers granted to them from Time to Time, by the Assembly which elected them; which Assembly hath therefore a Right to contract or enlarge their Commission, as they shall find it to be the Interest of the Province so to do. Consequently, if these Commissioners should at any Time vote contrary to their Instructions, that is, to their Commission, it follows, that in these Respects they have exceeded the Bounds prescribed by their Electors. Therefore, being themselves prohibited from voting, and having no Authority to vote in such a Question, every Law wherein they gave their Suffrage, affecting the Interests of the Colonies in general, or any Province in particular, is ipso facto null and void.”
Again,—“The Colony Commissioners are to give their Consent in Behalf of the Province for which they are chosen, to such Things as shall be ordained in Parliament. This is the Foundation and Corner-Stone of all the Building: And therefore, if such or such Commissioners did not give their Consent in Behalf of the Provinces for which they were chosen, then it follows, of Course, that no Law, affecting the Interests of such respective Provinces, is obligatory, no Tax due or payable, nor any Regulations made by the pretended Authority of the British Parliament without the Consent of such Commissioners, are to be at all regarded by the American Electors.”—These are a few of those blessed Conclusions, which the Politicians on the other Side of the Atlantic will certainly draw from the Terms and Expressions contained in such a Form. And what is still worse, both our own haired-brained Republicans, and our Mock-Patriots at Home will as certainly adopt the same Language, and echo back the same specious, tho’ false Allegations, from one End of the Kingdom to the other. Indeed many there are, even among ourselves, who, with the most honest and upright Intentions, are at a Loss at present how to disintangle themselves from these fallacious Reasonings. For having unhappily learnt in Newspaper Dissertations, and from Coffee house Harangues, that the Deputies sent to the great Council of the Nation, are the mere Attornies of those who elected them;—the Inference is but natural, that these Attornies ought to do as they are bid; and that in Case of Competition, they ought not to prefer their own private Opinions to the Judgment of their Constituents.—I say, this Inference is natural; nay it is necessary, just, and true, were the Premises but true from whence it is deduced.
Wherefore, having often had the Advantage of hearing no less a Person than the late excellent Judge Foster, that true Friend to all reasonable Liberty, Civil and Religious,—I say, having often heard him discoursing on the Rise and Origin of Parliaments, I will venture to lay his State of the Case before my Reader, hoping that it may remove all his Difficulties (if he has any) and work the same Fulness of Conviction in his Mind, which it did in mine.
“To reason accurately, said this upright and able Lawyer, on the Origin of Parliaments, we must trace the Matter up to its constituent Principles. Now the first Idea which strikes one on this Occasion is, that of a large Assembly of different Tribes of Warriors, either preparing for some military Expedition, or got together, after a Victory, to share the Booty, and divide the Lands among the Conquerers. When all are met together in one Place, they chuse a Committee for managing their Affairs; having found it impracticable to transact any Business of Consequence in any other Way. Now this Committee, chosen by the whole Nation, actually assembled, gives us the first rude Draught of a national Parliament, or a national Council. But in process of Time, and when the Nation had made large Conquests, and was cantoned into distant Provinces, it was found to be extremely inconvenient to assemble the whole Nation together into one Place. Therefore the next, and indeed the only Expedient, was, that each Canton, or each District, which could assemble, should be authorized to elect a Deputy, or Deputies, not for itself alone,that is the grandMistake, but for the Nation at large, which could not assemble; and the Powers to be granted to such Deputy, or Deputies, were just the same as the Nation would have granted to them had it been actually assembled. Hence therefore it comes to pass, that each Deputy represents the whole Nation in general, as much as if he had been elected by the whole Nation; and consequently such a Deputy is the Attorney (if he must be called by that Name) not of any one particular Tribe, Society, or District, but of the whole collectively: So that it becomes the Duty of his Office to take Care of the Interests of all the People in general, because he represents them all. In short, he cannot, consistently with the Duty which he owes to the whole, pay any Deference to the Request, Instruction, Remonstrance, or Memorial, of his particular Electors, except in such Cases only wherein he is convinced in his Conscience, that the Measures, which they require him to pursue, are not incompatible with the public Good.”
Thus far this great Judge of the British Constitution. And tho’ many important Inferences might be drawn from hence, which would effectually remove those Difficulties, with which the Subject has of late been artfully and studiously perplexed (and particularly in the Case of the Expulsion* of a Member of the House of Commons) yet I shall content myself with one general Remark at present; viz. That as each Class of Men, each Society or District, throughout the British Empire, are as much represented by those Deputies, whom they did not personally elect, as they are by those whom they did; it therefore follows, that there is no need, that the Deputies, particularly elected by them, should give their personal Consent to any Acts of the Legislature; because a Vote of the Majority is in fact a Vote of the Nation to all Intents and Purposes.
But it is now high Time to attend to another Part of this Gentleman’s Plan for admitting Commissioners from the Colonies to sit and vote in the British House of Commons.
And that is, 2dly, the Extent of their Commission, and indeed the boundary Line prescribed to the British Parliament itself, whenever it shall interfere in American Affairs. For it seems (see P. 14) “That this legislative Power of Parliament should be exercised but seldom, and on Occasions of great Necessity. Whatever related to the internal Government of any particular Colony (such as raising the necessary Taxes for the Support of its civil Government, and passing Laws for building Bridges, or Churches, or Barracks, or other public Edifices) should be left to the Governor and Assembly of that Colony to transact among themselves, unless in Cases where the domestic Dissentions of the Colony put a Stop to public Business, and created a Kind of Necessity for the Interposition of the supreme Legislature. But when any general Tax was to be imposed upon all the American Colonies for the Support of a War, or any other such general Purpose; or any new Law was to be made to regulate the Trade of all the Colonies; or to appoint the Methods by which Debts owing from the Inhabitants of one Colony to those of another, or of Great-Britain, should be recovered; or to direct the Manner of bringing Criminals to Justice who have fled from one Colony to another; or to settle the Manner of quartering the King’s Troops in the several Colonies; or of levying Troops in them, and the Number each Colony should contribute; or to settle the proportionable Values or different Coins that should be made current in the several provinces; or to establish a general Paper-Currency throughout America; or for any other general Purpose that relates to several Colonies:—In these Cases the Authority of Parliament should be employed.”
Here now is a Kind of Barrier set up between these two contending Powers, the British Parliament, and the Provincial Assemblies;—a Barrier, which must be held so sacred by both Parties, as to limit their respective Pretensions, and to extinguish all further Claims. Let us therefore see how well this Scheme is calculated to answer such good Purposes.
And first it is said, that the Parliament ought to interfere but seldom; and then only on Occasions of great Necessity. Now here permit me to ask, Who are to be the Judges of what is seldom, or what is frequent? Moreover, who is to determine between the Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies, when there is a great Necessity for the Interference of the former, and when there is but a little one, or none at all?—Obvious it is, to all the World, that these jealous Rivals will never settle such Points among themselves; and if they will not settle them, indeed if they cannot, who is to be their common Umpire or Referee? Besides, granting even that this Difficulty could be got over in some Degree, another formidable one immediately starts up, like another Hydra; viz. What are these Colony Agents to do in our House of Commons, when no Colony Business happens to be transacted? Are they to remain as so many Mutes, without speaking a Word, or giving a single Vote for Weeks, or Months, or perhaps for a whole Session together?—Or are they to sit and vote in all British Causes, great or small; notwithstanding that the British Senators are precluded from voting, excepting in extraordinary Cases, in respect to the Colonies? In either Case here seems to be something introduced into the British Constitution of a very heterogeneous Nature; something very repugnant to that Unity of Government, which the Gentleman himself allows ought to be preferred to every other Consideration: And I will add further, that if the Colony-Commissioners are to sit and vote in all our Causes, tho’ our British Representatives are restrained from voting in theirs, perhaps ninety-nine Times in an Hundred, this will be the setting up of one of the most partial, unequal, and unjust Systems of Pacification, that ever yet appeared in the World.
We therefore proceed to another weighty Objection against the present Plan.—The Terms of this new Compact are declared to be, That the Colony Assemblies shall be invested with the Right of internal and provincial Jurisdiction and Legislation; while the British Parliament, even after the Accession of these 80 Colony Commissioners, shall be content to retain only that which is external and general.—But here alas! the very same Difficulties return which pressed so hard before: For who is to judge between the British Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies in these Respects? Who will venture to ascertain in every Case what is external and general; and what is merely internal and provincial? Nay indeed, may not the very same Things justly pass under both Denominations, according as they are seen from different Points of View? Surely they may; and to convince any Man of this, let him attend to the very Catalogue of Articles, with which this Gentleman hath himself presented us. For at Page 14, he observes, “That whatever related to the internal Government of any particular Colony, should be left to the Governor and Assembly of that Colony to transact among themselves;” among which Articles belonging to internal Government, he enumerates the building of Barracks, and of other public Edifices; and yet both he and every Man must allow, that the building of Barracks, of Forts, and Fortresses, the making of King’s Docks and Careening Places for the Navy, the laying out of military Roads, and the providing of Magazines for Provisions and military Stores, considered in another View, are of a general Nature; in the Erection and Preservation of which, the whole British Empire is deeply interested. And yet were the British Parliament to frame Laws, and to levy Taxes on the Americans for these Purposes, what Outcries would immediately be raised against the Mother Country! Every Fortress, nay every Barrack, would be described as an odious Badge of Slavery; and every little Magazine would be termed a Monument of Tyranny and despotic Power, and a Preparative for destroying the few Liberties that were left. Again, at the Bottom of the same Page, he declares, that the Authority of Parliament should be employed in settling the Manner of quartering the King’s Troops in the several Colonies. I will not object to the Interposition of Parliament in such a Case: For well I know, that if the Parliament did not interfere, the Troops would very often have no Quarters at all; and yet this very Circumstance would afford an American Assembly the most inviting Opportunity for Exclamation and Opposition. “What! The British Parliament to take upon them to settle the Manner of quartering the Troops in our own Province, and on our own Inhabitants! Who so proper Judges as ourselves, when or where, or after what Manner, they should be quartered? And how came the Gentlemen, met at Westminster, to be acquainted with the Circumstances of our People, and the Situation of Places, better than we, who reside on the Spot? No! These Acts of the British Parliament are all barefaced Encroachments on our Liberties, and open Violations of our Rights and Properties: They are the Chains which our pretended Protectors, but in Reality our Egyptian Task-Masters, have been long forging for us. Let us therefore all unite, and manfully resist them; let us postpone the paying of Debts, and enter into a general Association to refuse their Goods, to distress their Trade, and to harrass our cruel Enemies by every Method in our Power; and if we are thus united, they must yield, as they did before.” In short it would be endless to recount all the Topics which such a Scheme as this Gentleman has proposed would certainly furnish to every popular Declaimer in every popular Assembly; and the more improbable, the more absurd and unjust his Harangues were in Point of sound Argument and just Reasoning; so much, generally speaking, the more greedily would they be received.
However, there is one Point more which I cannot omit, because it will throw a further Light on this Matter, and disclose a new Scene of patriotic Manœuvres, and the Wiles of Politicians. At Page 13, this Author lays down a general Rule for the Conduct of Parliament with Respect to America, viz. “That it ought to be made a standing Order of both Houses of Parliament, never to pass any Law, whether for imposing a Tax, or for regulating Trade, or for any other Purpose whatsoever relating to any of the American Colonies, ’till one whole Year after the first reading of the Bill; unless it be to renew some expiring Laws of great Importance, and of immediate and urgent Necessity, such as the Act for billeting the King’s Troops, and perhaps some few others that might be specially excepted in the Order.”
This is the Restriction in Point of Time, which our Author proposes to lay on the Parliament of Great-Britain. “They never must pass any Law for imposing a Tax ’till one whole Year after the first reading of the Bill:” Why?—“In order to give the several Colonies an Opportunity of making proper Representations against it, and to prevent the Parliament from making injudicious Laws, not suited to the Condition of the Colonies.” A fine Contrivance truly! and a most effectual Expedient to prevent the Parliament from ever making any Laws to oblige the Americans to discharge their Duty towards their Mother-Country: For this Gentleman might have known, indeed it is hardly possible, that the Fact could have escaped his Notice, had he recollected it, that this very Circumstance of aYear’s Procrastination was the main Engine employed to batter down the late Stamp-Act. When the Duty on Stamps was first proposed, the Americans made as little Objection to it, as could be supposed to be made to any new Tax whatever. Nay, several of their popular Orators and Leaders used considerable Interest to be employed as Agents in the Distribution of these Stamps. But when the Outs and the Pouters on this Side the Water, saw the Advantage which the Minister gave them by a whole Year’s Delay, they eagerly seized the Opportunity; Emissaries and Agents were dispatched into all Quarters;—the Newspapers were filled with Invectives against the new-intended Tax. It was injudicious!—it was ill-timed!—oppressive!—tyrannical!—and every Thing that was bad! Letters upon Letters were wrote to America to excite the People to associate, to remonstrate, and even to revolt. The most ample Promises were made from hence, of giving them all the Assistance which Faction, and Clamour, and Mock-patriotism, could muster up.
Well, their indefatigable Endeavours proved but too successful with an infatuated People: For a violent Storm was raised against the Minister for the Time being, and overset him, as they intended. Our patriotic Outs then became the ministerial Ins; and therefore the Storm having now done its Business, they had no further Occasion for it, were its most obedient humble Servants, and wished it to subside. But here they found themselves egregiously mistaken. For the Americans had, in their Turn, learnt the Art of making Tools of them, instead of being made Tools by them: So that having been taught by these Preceptors to feel their own Weight and Independence, they were not to be wheedled by soothing and cajoling Letters to give over their Enterprize, or to become a tractable, obedient People for the future. In short, hence it came to pass, that even during the Continuance of this new and favourite Administration, the American Spirit was rising all the while, instead of sinking. And as like Causes will always produce like Effects, especially since Things have been suffered to grow to such an Heighth, evident it is to common Sense, that any future Attempt of the British Parliament to levy a Tax on America, will meet with no better a Fate than the Stamp-Act has done. Moreover, a Year’s Delay in laying it on will be just so much Time given the Colonies to prepare for Battle; and Woe to that Administration which shall propose it; for they will certainly be overturned by the same Arts and Managements which the former were, and with much greater Ease.
I should now have done with this Gentleman’s Scheme, were it not that I find him, at Page 28, making a Kind of Apology to the Americans for the Conduct of our Parliament in paying the King’s Debts of his Civil List. And I own myself more hurt by this Paragraph, than by all the rest of his Pamphlet: For as I am thoroughly persuaded, he wrote from Conviction, and not from any sinister Views, one is sorry to find so able, so honest, and upright a Man, carried away by the Torrent of the Times to such a Degree, as to adopt Notions, which are almost too crude for a Club of Livery Politicians met in some blind Alley at a City Alehouse. His Words are these:—“It is certain, that no such (exorbitant) Grants as are above mentioned have been made, unless in the single Instance of the Sum of 513,000l. granted to his present Majesty for the Discharge of the Debts of his Civil List. And in this Case I can easily suppose, that a Motive of Compassion for a Number of innocent Person, who would otherwise have been Sufferers from that Load upon his Majesty’s Revenue, and an affectionate Desire of relieving their excellent Sovereign (who has in no Instance endeavoured to violate the Liberties of his Subjects) from the unworthy Streights and Inconveniences, ill becoming the Royal Dignity, into which some of his Ministers had brought him by the injudicious Management of his Revenue, may have induced many Members of the House of Commons to consent to this Grant, without any View to their own private Interest; though at the same Time I acknowledge it to be, considering all its Circumstances, a dangerous Compliance, and not worthy to be drawn into Example.”
Now if the Compliance of the Parliament in discharging this Debt was dangerous, the Reason must be, because the Circumstance of contracting the Debt itself was really infamous; therefore ought not to be avowed, but had better be suppressed in Tenderness to the Royal Cause. But can this Author point out any such infamous Circumstances, if he were minded to make the Discovery?—I dare answer for him, that he cannot. And as I will not suppose that he has more Tales to tell than any other private Gentleman, and much less that he himself was an Accomplice in, or privy to any such Scenes of Iniquity as are here insinuated,—I will now undertake to prove to him and the World, how as great a Debt as this, nay a much greater, might have been contracted in the Space of ten Years, without the least Impeachment of Waste, Profusion, Mismanagement, or any other Misapplication whatsoever.
Every Office, Dignity, Rank, or Station, has a certain Character to sustain, which necessarily requires a correspondent Train of Expences; so that whether you consider the Demands upon a King with a Salary of 800,000l. a Year, or the Demands on a private Gentleman with only a clear Rental of 800l. a Year, the Scale of Expences must be proportionate, the Demands and Expences being relative one to the other.
We will therefore reason on what we are most conversant with (and with Respect to which we may be allowed to be competent Judges) viz. on the Case of a young Gentleman of a respectable ancient Family, just come to take Possession of an Estate, which clears him 800l. a Year.
1st. Therefore, being appointed Sheriff of the County, he must and ought to go through that expensive Office in such a Manner as would reflect no Disgrace on himself, or the respectable Family from which he is descended (and the Office of Sheriff belonging to a private Gentleman is of much the same Import in Point of Expence, as the Circumstances of a Coronation in respect to Majesty.)
2dly. ManyDeaths and Funerals within the above-mentioned Period create another Article of Expence, which must be borne; with this peculiar Circumstance attending it, That tho’ he must bury a Grandfather suitable to his Rank, also an Uncle, Aunt, a Brother and Sisters,—yet he himself acquires no Addition of Fortune by their Deceases.
3dly. SeveralMarriages in the Family, and his own* in particular, bring on a third Charge, which surely in Reason and Conscience ought not to be objected to.
4thly. Six or seven Christenings and Lyingsin, expensive Articles in all Families, necessarily happen from the Circumstance of the Case, to be peculiarly expensive in this: And yet neither the young Gentleman himself, nor any of his Friends and Well wishers to the Family, ought to be supposed even to have wished to have saved these extraordinary Charges.
5thly. A Train of unexpected Visitants bring on another heavy Load; and though they were not invited, yet, as they chose to come, they must be received with an Hospitality suitable to his and their Dignity, and the Relation of Friendship and Family-Ties subsisting between them.
Add to all this, 6thly, The uncommon Dearness of all Sorts of Provisions, which for some Years past hath exceeded any Thing known in former Times; and which alone hath actually swelled the Amount of House-keeping in every Family to a very considerable Sum.
Now the young Gentleman having supported himself under these several Pressures and growing Expences for ten Years together, at last is obliged to request his nearest Friends and dearest Relations to grant him some Assistance; because he is 513l. or almost three Quarters of a Year in Debt. Heavens! What a Sum! And is this all against which such loud Outcries have been raised? Yes, this is all! Therefore, indignant Reader, whoever thou art, Englishman or American, lay thy Hand on thy Heart, and ask thyself this plain Question, What wouldst thou have thought of such a young Man, had he been thine own Son, thy Grandson, or the Heir-apparent of thy Fortune? And what Sort of Treatment would he have deserved at thy Hands? Therefore, mutato nomine.—But I will add no more: Let Nature and Humanity, Justice and Equity, plead their own Cause.
We have now, I think, very sufficiently discussed every Part of this Gentleman’s Plan: Nay, we have amply and particularly shewn, that his Apology to the Americans in Behalf of the British Parliament, for paying the Arrears of his Majesty’s Civil List, was quite a needless Thing. For if no stronger Proofs can be brought of their Venality and Corruption than this Instance, they still may be safely trusted with the Guardianship of those Liberties and Properties, which they have hitherto not only preserved, but also strengthened and encreased to a Degree unknown before in this, or any other Country. In one Word, the Scheme of an Union under our present Consideration, is of such a Nature, as would necessarily tend to exasperate both Parties, instead of mollifying or reconciling either. And as the Americans have already given us to understand, both in their Provincial Assemblies, and at their General Congresses, that they will not accept of an Union with us; and as Great-Britain ought not to petition for it; surely more need not be added for laying the Scheme aside. Indeed the Gentleman himself, towards the Close of his Pamphlet, expresses but little Hopes of its Success: For, after all, the best Use he can put it to, seems to be the Justification of the Mother-Country in declaring War against the Colonies, in order to oblige them to submit to her Authority, and to return to their Obedience. So that this Scheme of Pacification is to end in a War at last. Therefore we are now come to consider the[Back to Table of Contents]
The Expediency of having Recourse to Arms, in order to compel the Colonies to submit to the Authority and Jurisdiction of the supreme Council of the British Empire, the Parliament of Great-Britain.
In regard to which important Point, the Gentleman reasons after the following Manner:—“After such an Offer (of an Union, as above described) and the contemptuous Refusal of it by the Colonies, we may well suppose, that they (the Inhabitants of Great-Britain) will act as one Man, to support the just and lawful, and necessary Authority of the supreme Legislature of the British Nation over all the Dominions of the Crown. The Justice of their Cause will give Vigour to their Measures; and the Colonies that shall have the Folly and Presumption to resist them, will be quickly reduced to Obedience.”
It is possible, nay indeed it is very probable, that if a War was to be speedily undertaken, before Great-Britain and Ireland had been too much exhausted of their Inhabitants, emigrating to North-America,—the Forces of the Mother-Country might prevail, and America, however unwilling, be forced to submit, But alas! Victory alone is but a poor Compensation for all the Blood and Treasure which must be spilt on such an Occasion. Not to mention, that after a Conquest of their Country, the Americans would certainly be less disposed, even than they are at present, to become our good Customers, and to take our Manufactures in return for those Injuries and Oppressions which they had suffered from us:—I say, Injuries and Oppressions: because the Colonies would most undoubtedly give no softer an Appellation to this Conquest, tho’ perhaps it would be no other in itself, than a just Chastisement for the manifold Offences they had committed. Moreover, as the Americans are endeavouring even at present to set up all Sorts of mechanic Trades in order to rival us, or at least to supersede the Use of our Manufactures in their Country,—can any Man suppose, that their Ardor for setting up Manufactures would be abated, by their being forced to deal at the only one European Shop, which they most detested?
But what is still worse, if possible,—though the British Troops might over-run the great Continent of North-America at first, it doth by no Means follow, that they could be able to maintain a Superiority in it afterwards for any Length of Time: And my Reason is, because the governing of a Country after a Peace, is a much more arduous Task, in certain Circumstances, than the conquering it during a War. Thus for Example, when a Peace ensues (and surely it is not intended that we shall be for ever in a State of War) then a civil Constitution of some Kind or other must necessarily be established; and in the Case before us, there seems to be no other Alternative, but either the permitting the Colonies to enjoy once more those Advantages of English Liberty, and of an English Constitution, which they had forfeited; or else a Resolution to govern them for the future by arbitrary Sway and despotic Power. If the latter should be the Plan adopted, I then humbly submit it to be duly weighed and considered, what a baleful Influence this Government a la Prusse would have on every other Part of the British Empire. England free, and America in Chains! And how soon would the enslaved Part of the Constitution, and perhaps the greater, contaminate the free and the lesser? Nay, as America was found to increase in Strength and Numbers, an Army of English-born Soldiers (for no others could be trusted) first of 50,000, and afterwards perhaps of 100,000, would scarcely be sufficient to keep these turbulent Spirits in Awe, and to prevent them, at such a prodigious Distance from the Center of Government, from breaking out into Insurrections and Rebellions at every favourable Opportunity. But if the former were to prevail, and a Return of English Liberties was again to take Place, it must also follow, that the System of Trials by Juries must return with them: And then, when America shall grow stronger and stronger every Day, and England proportionably weaker, how is an Insurrection to be quelled in America? And what English Officer, civil or military, would dare to do it? Nay, I ask, further, granting that he was so brave, or rather so fool-hardy, as to attempt to do his Duty, who is to protect him in the Execution of his Office? Or how is he to be preserved, by due Forms of Law, against the Determination of an American Jury? A Tumult is excited;—the Military is called forth;—the Soldiers are insulted;—many perhaps wounded, and some even killed. The Patience of the Officers worn out, and in their own Defence, they are obliged to give the Word of Command to fire. The Relations of those who fell by this Fire, bring on an Appeal of Blood. The American Jury find the Officers who commanded, and perhaps the whole Corps who fired, guilty of wilful Murder; and then all the Power of the Crown, legally exerted, is not able to save the Lives of these poor innocent Men. * Pitiable sure is such a Case; and yet it is a Case which would and must frequently then happen in the natural Course of Things, according to our legal Constitution.
Perhaps it might be said, that American Juries are as conscientious as other Juries in bringing in their Verdicts according to Law; and that it is very uncharitable even to suppose the contrary.—Be it so: But the Question here runs on, What will be the Suggestions of Conscience in the Breast of an American on such an Occasion?—What would be his Ideas of Law, Justice, or Equity, when England and America stood in Competition?—Certainly, if ever the Inhabitants of that Country should come (and they are for the most Part come already) to be fully persuaded, that the British Parliament hath no Right to make Laws either to tax or to govern them [and the having once beaten them will not be taken as a convincing Proof that we always have either the Right or the Power to beat them] then every Attempt towards throwing off this odious Yoke, would appear in their Eyes as so many noble Struggles for the Cause of Liberty: And therefore the base English Hireling, who would dare to injure this sacred Cause, deserved to die a thousand Deaths. Such undoubtedly would be the Language, and such the Sentiments of the great Majority of Americans, whenever such a Case should happen. In a Word, an erroneous Conscience, and a false Zeal, would have just the same bad Effects in the new World respecting civil Government, as they have formerly had in the old, in regard to Religion: And therefore, either Way, whether we should treat these Americans as an enslaved People, or whether we should restore to them, after a Conquest, the same Constitution which we enjoy ourselves, the Event would finally come to this,—That England would be the greatest Sufferer; and that America is not to be governed against its own Inclinations. Wherefore let us now come to the[Back to Table of Contents]
To consent that America should become the general Seat of Empire, and that Great-Britain and Ireland should be governed by Vice-Roys sent over from the Court Residencies either at Philadelphia, or New-York, or at some other American Imperial City.
Now, wild as such a Scheme may appear, there are certainly some Americans who seriously embrace it: And the late prodigious Swarms of Emigrants encourage them to suppose, that a Time is approaching, when the Seat of Empire must be changed. But whatever Events may be in the Womb of Time, or whatever Revolutions may happen in the Rise and Fall of Empires, there is not the least Probability, that this Country should ever become a Province to North-America. For granting even, that it would be so weakened and enfeebled by these Colony-Drains, as not to be able to defend itself from Invaders, yet America is at too great a Distance to invade it at first, much less to defend the Conquest of it afterwards, against the neighbouring Powers of Europe. And as to any Notion that we ourselves should prefer an American Yoke to any other,—this Supposition is chimerical indeed: Because it is much more probable, were Things to come to such a dreadful Crisis, that the English would rather submit to a French Yoke, than to an American; as being the lesser Indignity of the two. So that in short, if we must reason in Politics according to the Newtonian Principles in Philosophy,—the Idea of the lesser Country gravitating towards the greater, must lead us to conclude, that this Island would rather gravitate towards the Continent of Europe, than towards the Continent of America; unless indeed we should add one Extravagance to another, by supposing that these American Heroes are to conquer all the World. And in that Case I do allow, that England must become a Province to America. But
Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.
Dismissing therefore, this Idea, as an idle Dream, we come now lastly to consider the[Back to Table of Contents]
To propose to separate entirely from the North-American Colonies, by declaring them to be a free and independent People, over whom we lay no Claim; and then by offering to guarrantee this Freedom and Independence against all foreign Invaders whatever.
And, in fact, what is all this but the natural and even the necessary Corollary to be deduced from each of the former Reasons and Observations? For if we neither can govern the Americans, nor be governed by them; if we can neither unite with them, nor ought to subdue them; what remains, but to part with them on as friendly Terms as we can? And if any Man should think that he can reason better from the above Premises, let him try.
But as the Idea of Separation, and the giving up the Colonies for ever, will shock many weak People, who think, that there is neither Happiness nor Security but in an over-grown unweildy Empire, I will for their Sakes enter into a Discussion of the supposed Disadvantages attending such a Disjunction; and then will set forth the manifold Advantages.
The first and capital supposed Disadvantage is, That, if we separate from the Colonies, we shall lose their Trade. But why so? And how does this appear? The Colonies, we know by Experience, will trade with any People, even with their bitterest Enemies, during the hottest of a War, and a War undertaken at their own earnest Request, and for their own Sakes;—the Colonies, I say, will trade even with them, provided they shall find it their Interest so to do. Why then should any Man suppose, that the same Self-Interest will not induce them to trade with us?—With us, I say, who are to commit no Hostilities against them, but on the contrary, are still to remain, if they please, their Guardians and Protectors?
Granting, therefore, that North-America was to become independent of us, and we of them, the Question now before us will turn on this single Point,—Can the Colonists, in a general Way, trade with any other European State to greater Advantage than they can with Great-Britain? If they can, they certainly will; but if they cannot, we shall still retain their Custom, notwithstanding we have parted with every Claim of Authority and Jurisdiction over them. Now, the native Commodities and Merchandize of North-America, which are the most saleable at an European Market, are chiefly Lumber, Ships, Iron, Train-Oil, Flax-Seed, Skins, Furs, Pitch, Tar, Turpentine, Pearl-Ashes, Indigo, Tobacco, and Rice. And I do aver, that, excepting Rice and Tobacco, there is hardly one of these Articles, for which an American could get so good a Price any where else, as he can in Great-Britain and Ireland. Nay, I ought to have excepted only Rice; for as to Tobacco, tho’ great Quantities of it are re-exported into France, yet it is well known, that the French might raise it at Home, if they were permitted, much cheaper than they can import it from our Colonies. The Fact is this,—The Farm of Tobacco is one of the five great Farms, which make up the chief Part of the Royal Revenue; and therefore the Farmers General, for Bye-Ends of their own, have hitherto had Interest enough with the Court to prohibit the Cultivation of it in *Old France, under the severest Penalties. But nevertheless the real French Patriots, and particularly the Marquis de Mirabeau, have fully demonstrated, that it is the Interest of the French Government to encourage the Cultivation of it; and have pointed out a sure and easy Method for collecting the Duties;—which was the sole Pretence of the Farmers General for soliciting a Prohibition. So that it is apprehended, that the French Government will at last open their Eyes in this Respect, and allow the Cultivation of it. Tobacco therefore being likely to be soon out of the Question, the only remaining Article is Rice: And this, it must be acknowledged, would bear a better Price at the Hamburgh or Dutch Markets than it generally doth in England. But as this is only one Article, out of many, it should be further considered, that even the Ships which import Rice into England, generally bring such other Produce as would not be saleable to Advantage in other Parts of Europe: So that there is no great Cause to fear, that we should considerably lose the Trade even of this Article, were the Colonies to be dismembered from us. Not to mention that all the Coasts of the Mediterranean and the South of Europe are already supplied with Rice from the Colonies, in the same Manner as if there had been an actual Separation;—no Rice-Ship bound to any Place South of Cape-Finistere being at all obliged to touch at any Port of Great-Britain. So much, therefore, as to the staple Exports of the Colonies.
Let us now consider their Imports. And here one Thing is very clear and certain, That whatever Goods, Merchandize, or Manufactures, the Merchants of Great-Britain can sell to the rest of Europe, they might sell the same to the Colonies, if wanted: Because it is evident, that the Colonies could not purchase such Goods at a cheaper Rate at any other European Market. Now, let any one cast his Eye over the Bills of Exports from London, Bristol, Liverpool, Hull,Glasgow, &c. &c. and then he will soon discover that excepting Gold and Silver Lace, Wines, and Brandies, some Sorts of Silk and Linens, and perhaps a little Paper and Gun-powder; I say, excepting these few Articles, Great-Britain is become a Kind of a* general Mart for most other Commodities: And indeed were it not so, how is it conceiveable, that so little a Spot as this Island could have made such a Figure either in Peace or War, as it hath lately done? How is it possible, that after having contracted a Debt of nearly One Hundred and Forty Millions, we should nevertheless be able to make more rapid Progresses in all Sorts of Improvements, useful and ornamental, public and private, agricolic and commercial, than any other Nation ever did?—Fact it is, that these Improvements have been made of late Years, and are daily making: And Facts are stubborn Things.
But, says the Objector, you allow, that Gold and Silver Lace,—that Wines and Brandies,—some Sorts of Silks,—some Sorts of Paper, Gunpowder, and perhaps other Articles, can be purchased at certain European Markets on cheaper Terms than they can in England: And therefore it follows, that we should certainly lose these Branches of Commerce by a Separation, even supposing that we could retain the rest. Indeed even this doth not follow; because we have lost them already, as far as it was the Interest of the Colonies, that we should lose them. And if any Man can doubt of this, let him but consider, that the Lumber, and Provision-Vessels, which are continually running down from Boston, Rhode-Island, New-York, Philadelphia, Charles-Town, &c. &c. to Martinico, and the other French Islands, bring Home in return not only Sugars and Molasses, but also French Wines, Silks, Gold and Silver Lace, and in short every other Article, in which they can find a profitable Account: Moreover those Ships, which fail to Eustatia and Curacoa, trade with the Dutch, and consequently with all the North of Europe, on the same Principle. And as the Ships which steer South of Cape-Finistere; what do they do?—Doubtless, they purchase whatever Commodities they find it their Interest to purchase, and carry them Home to North-America. Indeed what should hinder them from acting agreeably to their own Ideas of Advantage in these Respects? The Custom-house Officers, perhaps, you may say, will hinder them. But alas! the Custom-house Officers of North-America, if they were ten Times more numerous, and ten Times more uncorrupt than they are, could not possibly guard a tenth Part of the Coast. In short these Things are so very notorious that they cannot be disputed; and therefore were the whole Trade of North-America to be divided into two Branches, viz. the Voluntary, resulting from a free Choice of of the Americans themselves pursuing their own Interest, and the Involuntary, in Consequence of compulsory Acts of the British Parliament;—this latter would appear so very small and inconsiderable, as hardly to deserve a Name in an Estimate of national Commerce.
The 2d Objection against giving up the Colonies is, that such a Measure would greatly decrease our Shipping and Navigation, and consequently diminish the Breed of Sailors. But this Objection has been fully obviated already: For if we shall not lose our Trade, at least in any important Degree, even with the Northern Colonies (and most probably we shall encrease it with other Countries) then it follows, that neither the Quantity of Shipping, nor the Breed of Sailors, can suffer any considerable Diminution: So that this Supposition is merely a Panic, and has no Foundation. Not to mention, that in Proportion as the Americans shall be obliged to exert themselves to defend their own Coasts, in Case of a War; in the same Proportion shall Great-Britain be exonerated from that Burden, and shall have more Ships and Men at command, to protect her own Channel Trade, and for other Services.
The 3d Objection is, That if we were to give up these Colonies, the French would take immediate Possession of them. Now this Objection is entirely built on the following very wild, very extravagant, and absurd Suppositions.
1st, It supposes, that the Colonists themselves, who cannot brook our Government, would like a French one much better. Great-Britain, it seems, doth not grant them Liberty enough; and therefore they have Recourse to France to obtain more:—That is, in plain English, our mild and limited Government, where Prerogative is ascertained by Law, where every Man is at Liberty to seek for Redress, and where popular Clamours too often carry every Thing before them,—is nevertheless too severe, too oppressive, and too tyrannical for the Spirits and Genius of Americans to bear; and therefore they will apply to an arbitrary, despotic Government, where the People have no Share in the Legislature, where there is no Liberty of the Press, and where General Warrants and Lettres des cachets are irresistible,—in order to enjoy greater Freedoms than they have at present, and to be rescued from the intolerable Yoke, under which they now groan. What monstrous Absurdities are these! But even this is not all: For these Americans are represented by this Supposition, as not only preferring a French Government to a British, but even to a Government of their own modelling and chusing! For after they are set free from any Submission to their Mother-Country; after they are told, that for the future they must endeavour to please themselves, seeing we cannot please them; then, instead of attempting to frame any popular Governments for redressing those Evils, of which they now so bitterly complain,—they are represented as throwing themselves at once into the Arms of France;—the Republican Spirit is to subside; the Doctrine of passive Obedience and Nonresistance is to succeed; and, instead of setting up for Freedom and Independence, they are to glory for having the Honour of being numbered among the Slaves of the Grand Monarch!
But 2dly, this Matter may be further considered in another Point of View: For if it should be said, that the Americans might still retain their Republican Spirit, tho’ they submitted to a French Government, because the French, through Policy, would permit them so to do; then it remains to be considered, whether any arbitrary Government can dispense with such Liberties as a republican Spirit will require. An absolute Freedom of the Press! No Controul on the Liberty either of Speaking or Writing on Matters of State! Newspapers and Pamphlets filled with the bitterest Invectives against the Measures of Government! Associations formed in every Quarter to cry down Ministerial Hirelings, and their Dependents! The Votes and Resolutions of the Provincial Assemblies to assert their own Authority and Independence! No landing of Troops from Old France to quell Insurrections! No raising of new Levies in America! No quartering of Troops! No building of Forts, or erecting of Garrisons! And, to sum up all, no raising of Money without the express Consent and Approbation of the Provincial American Parliaments first obtained for each of these Purposes!—Now I ask any reasonable Man whether these Things are compatible with any Idea of an arbitrary, despotic Government?—Nay more, whether the French King himself, or his Ministers, would wish to have such Notions as these instilled into the Subjects of Old France? Yet instilled they must be, while a Communication is kept open between the two Countries; while Corespondences are carried on; Letters, Pamphlets and Newspapers, pass and repass; and in short, while the Americans are permitted to come into France, and Frenchmen into America. So much therefore as to this Class of Objections. Indeed I might have insisted further, that Great-Britain alone could at any Time prevent such an Acquisition to be made by France, as is here supposed, if she should think it necessary to interfere, and if such an Acquisition of Territory would really and truly be an Addition of Strength in the political Balance and Scale of Power* . But surely I have said enough; and therefore let us now hasten briefly to point out[Back to Table of Contents]
The manifold Advantages attendant on such a Scheme.
And 1st, A Disjunction from the Northern Colonies would effectually put a Stop to our present Emigrations. By the Laws of the Land it is made a capital Offence to inveigle Artificers and Mechanics to leave the Kingdom. But this Law is unhappily superseded at present as far as the Colonies are concerned. Therefore when they come to be dismembered from us, it will operate as strongly against them, and their Kidnappers, as against others. And here it may be worth while to observe, that the Emigrants, who lately sailed in such Multitude from the North of Scotland, and more especially from the North of Ireland, were far from being the most indigent, or the least capable of subsisting in their own Country. No; it was not Poverty or Necessity which compelled, but Ambition which inticed them to forsake their native Soil. For after they began to taste the Sweets of Industry, and to partake of the Comforts of Life, then they became a valuable Prey for these Harpies. In short, such were the Persons to whom these Seducers principally applied; because they found that they had gotten some little Substance together worth devouring. They therefore told them many plausible Stories—that if they would emigrate to North-America, they might have Estates for nothing, and become Gentlemen for ever; whereas if they remained at Home, they had nothing to expect beyond the Condition of a wretched Journeyman, or a small laborious Farmer. Nay, one of these false Guides was known to have put out public Advertisements, some few Years ago, in the North of Ireland, wherein he engaged to carry all, who would follow him, into such a glorious Country, where there was neither Tax, nor Tithe, nor Landlord’s Rent to be paid. This was enough: It took with Thousands: And this he might safely engage to do.—But at the same Time he ought to have told them (as Bishop Berkley in his Queries justly observes) That a Man may possess twenty Miles square in this glorious Country, and yet not be able to get a Dinner.
2dly. Another great Advantage to be derived from a Separation is, that we shall then save between 3 and 400,000l. a Year, by being discharged from the Payment of any civil or military Establishment belonging to the Colonies:—For which generous Benefaction we receive at present no other Return than Invectives and Reproaches.
3dly. The ceasing of the Payment of Bounties on certain Colony Productions will be another great Saving; perhaps not less than 200,000l. a Year: And is very remarkable, that the Goods imported from the Colonies in Consequence of these Bounties, could not have been imported into any other Part of Europe, were there a Liberty to do it; because the Freight and first Cost would have amounted to more than they could be sold for: So that in Fact we give Premiums to the Colonies for selling Goods to us, which would not have been sold at all any where else. However, when the present Bounties shall cease, we may then consider, at our Leisure, whether it would be right to give them again, or not; and we shall have it totally in our Power to favour that Country most, which will shew the greatest Favour to us, and to our Manufactures.
4thly. When we are no longer connected with the Colonies by the imaginary Tie of an Indentity of Government, then our Merchant-Exporters and Manufacturers will have a better Chance of having their Debts paid, than they have at present: For as Matters now stand, the Colonists chuse to carry their ready Cash to other Nations, while they are contracting Debts with their Mother-Country; with whom they think they can take greater Liberties: And provided they are trusted, they care not to what Amount this Debt shall rise:—For when the Time for Payment draws on, they are seized with a Fit of Patriotism; and then Confederacies and Associations are to discharge all Arrears; or, at least, are to postpone the Payment of them sine die.
5thly. After a Separation from the Colonies, our Influence over them will be much greater than ever it was, since they began to feel their own Weight and Importance: For at present we are looked upon in no better a Light than that of Robbers and Usurpers; whereas, we shall then be considered as their Protectors, Mediators, and Benefactors. The Moment a Separation takes Effect, intestine Quarrels will begin: For it is well known, that the Seeds of Discord and Dissention between Province and Province, are now ready to shoot forth; and that they are only kept down by the present Combinations of all the Colonies against us, whom they unhappily fancy to be their common Enemy. When therefore this Object of their Hatred shall be removed by a Declaration on our Parts, that, so far from usurping all Authority, we, from henceforward, will assume none at all against their own Consent; the weaker Provinces will intreat our Protection against the stronger; and the less cautious against the more crafty and designing: So that in short, in Proportion as their factious, republican Spirit shall intrigue and cabal, shall split into Parties, divide, and sub-divide,—in the same Proportion shall we be called in to become their general Umpires and Referees. Not to mention, that many of the late and present Emigrants, when they shall see these Storms arising all around them, and when their promised earthly Paradise turns out to be a dreary, unwholesome, inhospitable, and howling Wilderness,—many of them, I say, will probably return to us again, and take Refuge at last in Old England, with all its Faults and Imperfections.
Lastly. Our West-India Islands themselves will receive signal Benefit by this Separation. Indeed their Size and Situation render them incapable of substracting all Obedience from us; and yet the bad Precedents of their Neighbours on the Continent hath sometimes prompted them to shew as refractory a Spirit as they well could.—But when they come to perceive, what are the bitter Effects of this untractable Disposition, exemplified in the Case of the North-Americans, it is probable, it is reasonable to conclude, that they will learn Wisdom by the Miscarriages and Sufferings of these unhappy People; and that from henceforward they will revere the Authority of a Government, which has the fewest Faults, and grants the greatest Liberty, of any yet known upon Earth.
But after all, there is one Thing more, to which I must make some Reply.—Many, perhaps most of my Readers, will be apt to ask,—What is all this about? And what doth this Author really mean?—Can he seriously think, that because he hath taken such Pains to prove a Separation to be a right Measure, that therefore we shall separate in good Earnest? And is he still so much a Novice as not to know, that Measures are rarely adopted merely because they are right, but because they can serve a present Turn?—Therefore let it be asked, What present Convenience or Advantage doth he propose either to Administration, or to Anti-Administration, by the Execution of his Plan?—This is coming to the Point, and without it, all that he has said will pass for nothing.
I frankly acknowledge, I propose no present Convenience or Advantage to either; nay, I firmly believe, that no Minister, as Things are now circumstanced, will dare to do so much Good to his Country; and as to the Herd of Anti-Ministers, they, I am persuaded, would not wish to see it done; because it would deprive them of one of their most plentiful Sources for Clamour and Detraction: And yet I have observed, and have myself had some Experience, that Measures evidently right will prevail at last: Therefore I make not the least Doubt but that a Separation from the northern Colonies, and also another right Measure, viz. a complete Union and Incorporation with Ireland (however unpopular either of them may now appear) will both take Place within half a Century:—And perhaps that which happens to be first accomplished, will greatly accelerate the Accomplishment of the other. Indeed almost all People are apt to startle at first at bold Truths:—But it is observable, that in Proportion as they grow familiarized to them, and can see and consider them from different Points of View, their Fears subside, and they become reconciled by Degrees:—Nay, it is not an uncommon Thing for them to adopt those salutary Measures afterwards with as much Zeal and Ardor, as they had rejected them before with Anger and Indignation.
Need I add, That the Man, who will have Resolution enough to advance any bold unwelcome Truth (unwelcome I mean at its first Appearance) ought to be such an one, whose Competency of Fortune, joined to a natural Independency of Spirit, places him in that happy Situation, as to be equally indifferent to the Smiles, or Frowns either of the Great, or the Vulgar?
Lastly, some Persons perhaps may wonder, that, being myself a Clergyman, I have said nothing about the Persecution which the Church of England daily suffers in America, by being denied those Rights which every other Sect of Christians so amply enjoys. I own I have hitherto omitted to make Mention of that Circumstance, not thro’ Inadvertence, but by Design; as being unwilling to embarrass my general Plan with what might be deemed by some Readers to be foreign to the Subject: And therefore I shall be very short in what I have to add at present.
That each Religious Persuasion ought to have a full Toleration from the State to worship Almighty God, according to the Dictates of their own Consciences, is to me so clear a Case, that I shall not attempt to make it clearer; and nothing but the maintaining some monstrous Opinion inconsistent with the Safety of Society,—and that not barely in Theory and Speculation, but by open Practice and outward Actions,—I say, nothing but the avowedly maintaining of such dangerous Principles can justify the Magistrate in abridging any Set of Men of these their natural Rights. It is also equally evident, that the Church of England doth not, cannot fall under the Censure of holding Opinions inconsistent with the Safety of the State, and the Good of Mankind,—even her Enemies themselves being Judges: And yet the Church of England alone doth not enjoy a Toleration in that full Extent, which is granted to the Members of every other Denomination. What then can be the Cause of putting so injurious a Distinction between the Church of England, and other Churches in this Respect? The Reason is plain. The Americans have taken it into their Heads to believe, that an Episcopate would operate as some further Tie upon them, not to break loose from those Obligations which they owe to the Mother Country; and that this is to be used as an Engine, under the Masque of Religion, to rivet those Chains, which they imagine we are forging for them. Let therefore the Mother-Country herself resign up all Claim of Authority over them, as well Ecclesiastical as Civil; let her declare North-America to be independent of Great Britain in every Respect whatever;—let her do this, I say, and then all their Fears will vanish away, and their Panics be at an End: And then, a Bishop, who has no more Connections with England either in Church or State, than he has with Germany, Sweden, or any other Country, will be no longer looked upon in America as a Monster but a Man. In short, when all Motives for Opposition are at an End, it is observable, that the Opposition itself soon ceases and dies away. In a Word, an Episcopate may then take Place; and whether this new Ecclesiastical Officer be called from a Name derived from the Greek, the Latin, or the German,—that is, whether he be stiled Episcopus, Superintendent, Supervisor, Overseer, &c. &c. it matters not,—provided he be invested with competent Authority to ordain and confirm such of the Members of his own Persuasion, as shall voluntarily offer themselves, and to inspect the Lives and Morals of his own Clergy.
[* ]The Reader is desired to bear in Mind, that this Tract was written in the Year 1748, just after the Spanish War.
[* ]T. Liv. lib. 1. Romanos homines, victores omnium circa populorum, opifices ac lapicidas pro bellatoribus factos. Thus reasoned the People of Rome, as soon as ever they began to be famous in the Character of Bellatores and Victores. And, as this Vanity is natural to Mankind, have not the Friends of Commerce too much Cause to fear that our Opifices and Lapicidas, now turned into Victores omnium circa Populorum, will reason after the same Manner? And yet the Romans were not so mad as to fight for Trade; they fought only for Conquest and Dominion, which may be acquired by fighting: But to fight for the Sake of procuring Trade, is a Species of Madness reserved only for Britons!
[* ]Indeed this Instinct, like all other Instincts and Passions, ought to be put under proper Regulations, otherwise it may do more Hurt than Good. But this Necessity of due Regulation is no more an Objection against the good Tendency of the Instinct itself, than the Rules of Temperance and Sobriety are Objections against Eating and Drinking in a moderate and reasonable Degree. The Instinct itself is certainly good; but may be misapplied:—And what may not? The political Regulations it should be under, will be mentioned elsewhere.
[* ]The Wealth of this Nation—that amazing Wealth, which has been so profusely squandered away in the two last general and devouring Wars, is principally owing to the wise Regulations of that able Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Justice to his Character, and Gratitude to his Memory, demand this Tribute of Acknowledgement to be paid him when dead, which was shamefully denied him while alive. Sed opinionum commenta delet dies! And the Time is now come when his very Adversaries frankly confess, That his Plan of Commerce was manly and rational; that his Endeavours to prevent an infatuated People from quarrelling with their best Customers, were truly patriotical; and that his very Crimes were more owing to the Extremities to which he was driven by his implacable Enemies, than to any Malignity of his own. When he came into Administration, he found the English Book of Rates almost as bad as any in Europe; but he left it the very best. And were you to compare what he did for promoting general Trade, (and much more he would have done, had it not been for the Madness of some, and the Wickedness of others) were you but to compare what he actually did, with what has been done either before or since, in this, or any other Country, not forgetting the Sully’s, and Colberts, and the Fleurys of France, you would find that he shone as much above all other Ministers, as England hath exceeded the rest of the World in her late enormous Expences.
[* ]As a Confirmation of the above, it may be observed, that this very Country of Great-Britain is become much more capable of Defence against a foreign Invasion, than it used to be; and that the numberless Enclosures, new Canals, and artificial Navigations, which are now forming almost every Day, render it a Kind of Fortress from one End to the other. For while a few Regiments were posted in Villages, or behind Hedges, or to line the Banks of Rivers and Canals; and while a few Light Horse were employed in harassing both the Front and Rear of the Enemy, in falling on his Convoys, destroying his Magazines, and keeping him in a perpetual Alarm;—his progress would be so retarded, and his Forces so weakened, at the same Time, that our own would be encreasing in Strength and Numbers, as would oblige him to retire without Danger to us, but with great shame and Loss to himself. Had Harold used the same Precaution against the Duke of Normandy, instead of coming to a decisive Engagement with him on his landing, the latter must have returned ingloriously, perhaps with not a fourth Part of his Troops;—if indeed he could have returned at all, after he had penetrated a great Way into the Country far from the Resources of his Shipping, Provisions, and Supplies. An Invasion of this Country is certainly a possible Thing, notwithstanding all our Fleets, and all the Vigilance of their Commanders. But the Invader would not have the least Chance of conquering the Country, unless the headstrong Impatience of the English to come to Blows, should give him an Opportunity of bringing the Affair to one decisive Battle.
[* ]All the Speeches and all the Pamphlets poured forth against Standing Armies during the Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, were levelled at a Number of Troops so small that their highest Complement did not exceed 20,000 Men. Yet these were represented as very formidable to the Constitution by their Numbers; and more formidable still by that vast Accession of Power, which accrued to the Crown from the Disposal of such a Multitude of Places.—How are the Times altered since!
[* ]Our former Princes claimed a Right, and frequently exercised the Power of levying Taxes, without the Consent of Parliament. But upon settling the Colonies, this supposed Right, which cost Charles I. his Crown, and his Life, was not insisted on in any of the Charters, and was expressly given up in that which was granted to Lord Baltimore for Maryland. Now this Clause, which is nothing more than the Renunciation of obsolete Prerogative, is quoted in our Newspapers, as if it was a Renunciation of the Rights of Parliament to raise Taxes. Whereas the King in that Charter stipulated only for himself, his Heirs, and Successors, not to raise Taxes by Virtue of the Prerogative Royal; which certainly he might do, and which was very proper to be done for the Encouragement and Security of a new Colony. But he could not stipulate for the Parliament; and indeed he did not attempt to do it.
[* ]Those who have not the Statutes at large, may see the Things here referred to, and many others of the like Sort, in Crouche’s or Saxby’s Book of Rates.
[* ]Ever since the Discovery of America, it has been the System of every European Power, which had Colonies in that Part of the World, to confine (as far as Laws can confine) the Trade of the Colonies to the Mother Country, and to exclude all others, under the Penalty of Confiscation, &c. from partaking in it. Thus, the Trade of the Spanish Colonies is confined by Law to Old Spain,—the Trade of the Brazils to Portugal,—the Trade of Martinico and the other French Colonies to Old France,—and the Trade of Curacoa and Surinam to Holland. But in one Instance the Hollanders make an Exception (perhaps a wise one) viz. in the Case of Eustatia, which is open to all the World. Now, that the English thought themselves entitled to the same Right over their Colonies, which other Nations claim over theirs, and that they exercised the same Right by making what Regulations they pleased, may be seen by the following Acts of Parliament, viz. 12 of Car. II Chap. 18.—15 of Car. II. Ch. 7.—22 and 23 of C. II. Ch. 26—25 of C. II. Ch. 7.—7 and 8 of Will. III. Ch. 22.—10 and 11 of W. III. Ch. 21.—3 and 4 of Ann. Ch. 5 and 10.—8 of Ann. Ch. 13.—12 of Ann. Ch. 9.—1 of G. I. Ch. 26.—3 of G. I. Ch. 21.—8 of G. I. Ch. 15 and 18.—11 of G. I. Ch. 29.—12 of G. I. Ch. 5.—2 of G. II. Ch. 28 and 35.—3 of G. II. Ch. 28.—4 of G. II. Ch. 15—5 of G. II. Ch. 7. and 9.—6 of G. II. Ch. 13.—8 of G. II. Ch. 18.—11. of G. II. Ch. 29.—12 of G. II. Ch. 30.—13 of G. II. Ch. 4 and 7.—15 and 16 of G. II. Ch. 23.—with many others of a later Date. I might also mention the Laws made in the Reign of his present Majesty; but as these Laws are now the Point of Controversy, I forbear.
[* ]The Event has severely proved this Conjecture to be but too justly founded.
[* ]An Essoin signifies, in Law, a Pretence or Excuse.
[† ]A Wager at Law, is a Power granted to the Defendant to swear, together with other Compurgators, that he owes nothing to the Plaintiff in the Manner set forth.—It is easy to see what use would have been made of such a Power, had it been allowed.
[* ]But notwithstanding this Awe, it is now pretty generally known, that the French Colonists of Hispaniola endeavoured lately to shake off the Government of Old France, and applied to the British Court for that Purpose.
[* ]See the preceding letter from a Merchant in London to his Nephew in America; wherein it is proved, to a Demonstration, that the Powers, which the Colonies will not allow the Mother-Country now to exercise over them, are no other than what always belonged to her from the very first Period of their Settlements, and according to the original Terms of their Constitution. The Question therefore is, Which of the two, the Colonies, or the Mother-Country, usurps on the legal Rights and constitutional Privileges of the other?
[* ]See a Pamphlet,—“Considerations on the Expediency of admitting Representatives from the American Colonies in to the British House of Commons.”—London, printed for B. White, 1770.
[* ]Quere, Whether it is intended that the lower Houses in each Assembly should have the sole Right of voting for these Commissioners; Or both Houses jointly? If the former, then the Colony Governments would become still more democratical than they now are, tho’ already so, to such an excessive Degree, as to be almost incompatible with any Idea of Monarchy: But if each House is to vote separately, what Jars and Factions, and reciprocal Reproaches, would this occasion! And how would they be able to agree? In short, either Way, the Prospect is alarming!
[* ]Surely the Nation might have expelled Mr. Wilkes, or have struck his Name out of the List of Committee, had it been assembled, and had it thought proper so to do. What then should hinder the Deputies of the Nation from doing the same Thing? And which ought to prevail in this Case, the Nation in general of the County or Middlesex?
[* ]Some shrewd Politicians have been wise enough to ask, Why did not his Majesty marry a large Fortune, in order to re-imburse some of these Expences?—What large Fortune would these Wiseacres have wished him to have married? A Dutchy or Principality on the Continent, in order to engage us still more in Continental Measures?—Or was it to be a large landed Estate at Home, to be annexed to the Crown, like another Dutchy of Lancaster?—This would have had a fine Influence on Electioneering, and English Liberties.—But perhaps they meant, that he should have gone into the City, and have paid his Addresses to Miss Plumbe, the rich Grocer’s Daughter, or to Miss Rescounters, the Heiress of the great Broker in Change-Alley. And to be sure, such a Match as this would have corresponded rarely well with the sublime Ideas of City-Politics. Our antient Nobility would have been delighted in giving the Precedency to such illustrious Princes of the Blood.
[* ]Since the first Edition of this Pamphlet, an Act has past for remedying the Evils so justly apprehended relative to the Case of Appeals of Blood.—But still, tho’ this Difficulty is removed, many and various ones yet remain.
[* ]Great Quantities of Tobacco are permitted to be raised in French-Flanders, Alsace, and all the Païs conquises, i. e. the newly conquered Provinces; because the Inhabitants of these Countries are indulged in many Liberties, which are denied to the Provinces of Old France. But the Farmers General keep a strict Watch, that none of this Tobacco shall be permitted to be brought into Old France, except by themselves or their Agents. And the Penalty against Smuggling in this Case is very cruel and severe.
[* ]I am credibly informed, that it appears by Extracts from the Custom-house Books, that more English Goods are sent up the two Rivers of Germany, the Weser and the Elbe, than up any two Rivers in North-America. Yet the North-Americans and their Partisans are continually upbraiding us, as if we enjoyed no Trade, worth mentioning, except that with the Colonies.
[* ]The Phænomenon of that prodigious Increase of Trade, which this Country has experienced since the happy Revolution, is what few People can explain; and therefore they cut the Matter short, by ascribing it all to the Growth of our Colonies: But the true Principles and real Causes of that amazing Increase, are the following: