« AnteriorContinuar »
duction, that he has been trying essied, not wit which can be only felt.
ition which latter Of this kind is the position, that ble this
The heroes of of every community has the right of our ad n
ad not been reits subjects, such contributions as areits export, and their public safety or public prosperity, whicirican pulence, by all mankind as comprising the prithe de: to dispe tial condition of all political society, till iť a haula puted by those zealots of anarchy, who have ned mounthe parliament of Britain the right of taxing the Ame rican colonies.
In favour of this exemption of the Americans from the authority of their lawful sovereign, and the dominion of their mother-country, very loud clamours have been raised, and many wild assertions advanced, which by such as borrow their opinions from the reigning fashion have been admitted as arguments; and what, is strange, though their tendency is to lessen English honour, and English power, have been heard by Englishmen with a wish to find them true. Passion has in its first violence controlled interest, as the eddy for a while runs against the stream.
To be prejudiced is always to be weak; yet there are prejudices so near to laudable, that they have been often praised, and are always pardoned. To love their country has been considered as virtue in men, whose love could not be otherwise than blind, because their preference was made without a comparison; but it has never been my. fortune to find, either in ancient or modern writers, any honourable mention of those, who have with equal blindness hated their country.
These antipatriotic prejudices are the abortions of folly impregnated by faction, which being produced against the standing order of nature, have not strength sufficient for long life. They are born only to scream
opinion of the public many artifices which, as usually happens when falseaintained by fraud, lose their force by
-n is sometimes to be mollified by a tender baxt-, who fled from tyranny to rocks and deserts, and is persuaded to lose all claims of justice, and all sense of dignity, in compassion for a harmless people, who having worked hard for bread in a wild country, and obtained by the slow progression of manual industry the accommodations of life, are now invaded by unprecedented oppression, and plundered of their properties by the harpies of taxation.
We are told how their industry is obstructed by unnatural restraints, and their trade confined by rigorous prohibitions; how they are forbidden to enjoy the products of their own soil, to manufacture the materials which nature spreads before them, or to carry their own goods to the nearest market: and surely the generosity of English virtue will never heap new weight upon those that are already overladen; will never delight in that dominion, which cannot be exercised but by cruelty and outrage.
But while we are melting in silent sorrow, and in the transports of delirious pity dropping both the sword and balance from our hands, another friend of the Americans thinks it better to awaken another passion, and tries to alarm our interest, or excite our veneration, by accounts of their greatness and their opulence, of the fertility of their land, and the splendour of their towns. We then begin to consider the question with more evenness of mind, are ready to conclude that
those restrictions are not very oppressi
ed, not without a
ation which latter been found consistent with this speedy gi, perity; and begin to think it reasonable th."
The heroes of
ad not been rethus flourish under the protection of our g should contribute something towards its ex
e something towards its port, and their But we are soon told that the American wealthy, cannot be taxed; that they are the de: of men who left all for liberty, and that they ha
grvurid, ax? •d the principles and stubbornnes tains, AND BE: that they are too obstinate for per These sur powerful for constraint; that they wil
jd of Freedom cement, and defeat violence; that the con-' after doorth America contains three millions, not of
therely, but of whigs, of whigs fierce for liberty, and disdainful of dominion; that they multiply with the fecundity of their own rattlesnakes, so that every quarter of a century doubles their numbers.
Men accustomed to think themselves masters do not love to be threatened. This talk is, I hope, commonly thrown away, or raises passions different from those which it was intended to excite. Instead of terrifying the English hearer to tame acquiescence, it disposes him to hasten the experiment of bending obstinacy before it is become yet more obdurate, and convinces him that it is necessary to attack a nation thus prolific while we may yet hope to prevail. When he is told through what extent of territory we must travel to subdue them, he recollects how far, a few years ago, we travelled in their defence. When it is urged that they will shoot up like the hydra, he naturally considers how the hydra was destroyed.
Nothing dejects a trader like the interruption of his profits. A commercial people, however magnanimous, shrinks at the thought of declining traffic, and an unfavourable balance. The effect of this terror has been
e been stunned with the importance of TAX commerce, and heard of merchants with
that are never to be emptied, and of manuarving for want of work. s commerce with America is profitable, howthan ostentatious or deceitful estimates have
and that it is our interest to preserve it, has ween denied; but surely it will most effectually preserved, by being kept always in *s and deserts, Concessions may promote it for a mo: justice, and all Cority only can insure its continuance. Trmless people, be a part, and always a very large part one country, munity that have no care but for themselves, a mousty care for themselves reaches little farther than pre.. tience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good. The blind are said to feel with peculiar nicety. They who look but little into futurity, have perhaps the quickest sensation of the present. A merchant's desire is not of glory, but of gain; not of public wealth, but of private emolument; he is therefore rarely to be consulted about war and peace, or any designs of wide extent and distant consequence.
Yet this, like other general characters, will sometimes fail. The traders of Birmingham have rescued themselves from all imputation of narrow selfishness by a manly recommendation to parliament of the rights and dignity of their native country.
To these men I do not intend to ascribe an absurd and enthusiastic contempt of interest, but to give them the rational and just praise of distinguishing real from seeming good, of being able to see through the cloud of interposing difficulties, to the lasting and solid happiness of victory and settlement.
Lest all these topics of persuasion should fail, the greater actor of patriotism has tried another, in which
terror and pity are happily combined, not without a proper superaddition of that admiration which latter ages, have brought into the drama. The heroes of Boston, he tells us, if the stamp act had not been repealed, would have left their town, their port, and their trade, have resigned the splendour of opulence, and quitted the delights of neighbourhood, to disperse themselves over the country, where they would till the ground, and fish in the rivers, and range the mountains, AND BE FREE,
These surely are brave words. If the mere sound of freedom can operate thus powerfully, let no man hereafter doubt the story of the Pied Piper. The removal of the people of Boston into the country, seems even to the congress not only difficult in its execution, but important in its consequences. The difficulty of execution is best known to the Bostonians themselves; the consequence, alas! will only be, that they will leave good houses to wiser men.
Yet before they quit the comforts of a warm home for the sounding something which they think better, he cannot be thought their enemy who advises them to consider well whether they shall find it. By turning fishermen or hunters, woodmen or shepherds, they may become wild, but it is not so easy to conceive them free; for who can be more a slave than he that is driven by force from the comforts of life, and is compelled to leave his house to a casual comer, and whatever he does, or wherever he wanders, finds every moment some new testimony of his own subjection? If choice of evil be freedom, the felon in the galleys has his option of labour or of stripes. The Bostonian may quit his house to starve in the fields; his dog may refuse to set, and smart under the lash, and they may then congratulate each other upon the