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Observations on the Boston Port Bill by Josiah Quincy II

May 14, 1774


To the FREEHOLDERS and YEOMANRY of my Country. The virtue, strength and fortitude of a state generally reside in the FREEHOLDERS of the Nation. In you, Gentlemen, as the LANDED INTEREST of the Country, do I place my confidence, under GOD, at this Day. To you, Gentlemen, therefore, I dedicate THIS temporary WORK, as a testimony of that great respect and warm affection, with which, I am, Your Friend and Countryman, JOSIAH QUINCY, jun. Boston, May 14, 1774.

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PREFACE.

THE Statute of the 14th George 3d, received in the last Ships from London (entitled “An Act, to discontinue, in such Manner, and for such Time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, the lading or shipping of Goods, Wares, Merchandize, at the Town, and within the Harbour of Boston, in the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, in North-America,”)


gave rise to the following OBSERVATIONS:—They will appear thrown together in haste; and as the Writer was out of Town on business, almost every day, the Sheets were printing off, no doubt many Errors of the Press escaped correction.



The Inaccuracies of a sudden Production from one of infirm health, perplexed with various avocations, will receive a mild censure: more material faults, FRIENDS may be prone to forgive; but from Enemies—public or private—we are never to expect indulgence or favor.

JOSIAH QUINCY, Junr.

Boston, May 14, 1774.

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OBSERVATIONS &c.


IN times of public calamity, it is the duty of a good citizen to consider. If his opportunities or advantages, for knowledge and reflection, are greater than those of mankind in general, his whole duty will remain undischarged, while he confines his thoughts to the compass of his own mind. But if danger is added to the calamity of the times, he who shall communicate his sentimentson public affairs with decency and frankness, merits attention and indulgence, if he may not aspire to approbation and praise.

Whoever attends to the tenor and design of the late act of the British Parliament for the BLOCKADE OF this HARBOUR, and duly considers the extensive confusion and distress this measure must inevitably produce; whoever shall reflect upon the justice, policy and humanity of legislators, who could deliberately give their sanction to such a procedure—must be satisfied, that the man, who shall OPENLY dare to expose their conduct, hazards fatal consequences.—Legislators, who could condemn a whole town unheard, nay uncited to answer; who could involve thousands in ruin and misery, without suggestion of any crime by them committed; and who could so construct their law, as that enormous pains and pe- [3; unpaginated] nalties would inevitably ensue, NOTWITHSTANDING THE MOST PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO IT’S INJUNCTIONS; I say, that legislators, thus formed as MEN, thus principled as STATESMEN, would undoubtedly imagine the attainder and death of a private individual, for his public animadversions, a less extraordinary act of power.


But all exertions of duty have their hazard:—if dread of Parliamentary extravagance is to deter from public energies, the safety of the common wealth will soon be despaired of; and when once a sentiment of that kind prevails, the excesses of present enormities so rapidly increase, that strides, at first appearance, exorbitant, will soon be found—but the beginning of evils. We therefore consider it as a just observation, that the weight and velocity of public oppressions are ever in a ratio proportionate to private despondency and public despair. [4]


He who shall go about to treat of important and perilous concerns,


and conceals himself behind the curtain of a feigned signature, gives an advantage to his adversaries; who will not fail to stigmatize his thoughts, as the notions of an unknown writer, afraid or ashamed to avow his sentiments; and hence they are deemed unworthy of notice and refutation. Therefore I give to the world both my sentiments and name upon the present occasion, and shall hear with patience him, who will decently refute what is advanced, and shall submit with temper to that correction and chastisement which my errors deserve.


The act now under consideration opens with a recital, that “dangerous commotions and insurrections have been fomented and raised in Boston—by divers ill-affected persons, to the subversion of his Majesty’s Government, and to theutter destruction of the public peace, and good order of the said town; in which commotions and insurrections certain valuable cargoes of Teas, being the property of the East-India Company, and on board certain vessels lying within the bay or harbour of Boston, were seized and destroyed: and in the present condition of said town and harbour, the commerce of his Majesty’s subjects cannot be safely carried on there, nor the customs payable to his Majesty be duly collected.”


Two questions naturally arise out of this preamble: The first, whether the facts set forth are true; and Secondly, whether upon a supposition of their truth, they are a sufficient foundation for the subsequent parts of the statute, or will warrant the disabilities, forfeitures, pains and penalties, enacted and inflicted on the subject?—Both inquiries seem intimately to concern the honour and justice of the British le– [5] gislature. And however unimportant the judgment of Americans may now appear to that august body—yet surely the judgment of Europe and future ages is not unworthy their high consideration. Removed from the eye of royalty, the piety of a Sovereign may cease to pity miseries it doth not behold; remote from the cries of public justice and the efforts of popular despair, Lords and Commons may remain unaffected, for a season, with American convulsions; yet justice and humanity must soon excite those operations in America and Europe, which hereafter will move even the senate of Britain. True knowledge and real virtue perhaps was never more diffused than on this northern continent; refined humanity (‘tis boasted) was never more predominant than in Europe at this day:—Can it be supposed, that this virtue will be discordant and inactive; that this knowledge will omit to unfold public wrongs, or that such humanity will cease to interpose?


That commotions were in Boston; that East-India tea was destroyed, are facts not controverted.


But that such commotions were natural to be expected; that they were such as statesmen must have foreseen and A FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, who foresaw, would prevent, rather than punish, is equally true. The sentiments of all Americans relative to the Tea act are no secret, their fervor in the COMMON CAUSE equally known; and their probable intemperance in consequence of the arrival of India teas, it required no profound skill in men and politics to predict. Nay the British papers were full, and the senate echoed, with the predictions similar to those which are now fulfilled. It was not difficult for Englishmen in Britain to tell how [6] Englishmen in Americawould conduct on such occasions. What shall we then say? Shall we impute to those, who are dignified as “the wisest and most august” the barbarous projection—deliberately to ensnare, that they might superlatively punish? The calm deliberation of premeditated malice seems rather more characteristick of a private bosom, than a public body. But Governor Hutchinson (the representative of his Majesty in this Province) when treating upon an act of the Massachusetts Government imposing a tax or duty upon goods of the inhabitants of other colonies, hath assured us, that “in all ages and countries, by bodies and communities of men such deeds have been done as most of the individuals of which such communities consisted, acting separately, would have been ashamed of.


An observation that his Excellency might have imbibed, from that prince of historians, Dr. Robertson. “To abandon usurped power, to renounce lucrative error, are sacrifices, which the virtue of individuals, has, on some occasions, offered to TRUTH; but from ANY SOCIETY of men, no such effort can be expected. The corruptions of society, recommended by common utility, and justified by universal practice, are viewed by it’s members, without shame or horror; and reformation never proceeds from themselves, but is always FORCED upon them by some FOREIGN hand.”


“Caesar, Lepidus and Antony, says Plutarch, shew, that no beast is more savage than man, when possessed of power equal to his passion.


If the sentiments of Dr. Robertson are just, have we not cause to fear from very powerful states and legislators an equal ferocity? [7]


And it is an observation of the illustrious Lord Clarendon, that it is the nature of man, rather to commit two errors, than retract one. When elevated characters commit a second error, it carries the air of an intended discovery, how little they feel for the first, how much they despise the people, how much they are above shame, fear and amendment. But to heighten cruelty by wantonness, to render it more pungent by insult, are such exorbitances, as seldom disgrace the records of mankind. But whenever such instances occur, they strikingly verify that eternal truth recorded in the House of Lords—“it is much easier to restrain liberty from running into licentiousness than POWER from swelling into tyranny and oppression.”


Can it add dignity to this noble sentiment, or weight to this important truth, to say, that among the illustrious personages who subscribed it with their hands and transmitted it to posterity, we find a “Chesterfield” and “Cobbam,” a “Strafford” and a “Bathurst[,] a “Haversham” and “Gower”?


But to return. Are popular commotions peculiar to Boston? Hath not every maritime town in England been repeatedly affected by them? Are they not incident to every commercial and popular city?—whence, then, is it, that BOSTON is devoted to such unexampled treatment? But it may be said, Boston, as a town, hath aided, abeted, and participated in these tumults. Where is the evidence of it? I presume the King, Lords and Commons of Great-Britain had none; for they do not suggest it: I presume they did not believe it, because they have not intimated it. And had they [8] been furnished with such evidence, had they believed the fact, surely it is an imputation unworthy of their dignity, to say, that they would not have given that matter in the preamble of the statute, as the ground of their extraordinary proceedure. But the records of Boston, and known facts prove that the inhabitants discountenanced and disavowed all riot and disorder.


I am thus warranted in saying, that the mere occurrences expressed in the act, is that matter which the British legislature have judged worthy the most unparallelled penal severities. Whether this judgment be right, is a subject interesting to a citizen of the town to enquire; it is a subject on which a man will speak feelingly; on which AN ENGLISHMAN will speak freely and openly.


Previous to further observations, it may be necessary to say, that the town of Boston had as a town cautiously and wisely conducted, not only without tumult, but with studied regard to established law. This the rolls of the town verify, and a hundred witnesses can confirm.

At the last town-meeting relative to the East-India tea and it’s consignees, it was largely debated, whether it should be an instruction to the committee, who were appointed to wait on those Gentlemen, to insist on their preremptory answer;—whether they would send back the Tea: and after long debate on the question, it passed by a very large majority in the negative. And the greatest enemy of the country cannot point out any one step of the Town of Boston, in the progress of this matter, that was tumultuous, disorderly and against law. This also is an additional reason, why we must conclude that the mere temporary events which [9]took place in Boston, without any illegal proceedure of the town, in the matter of the tea, is in the judgment of the British senate an adequate foundation for the last act received from that powerful body.


The first enacting clause of the statute now in view, annihilates all commercial transactions within two certain points of the harbour of Boston, uponpain of the FORFEITURE of “goods, wares and merchandize, and of boat, lighter, ship, vessel, or other bottom;—and of the guns, ammunition, tackle, furniture and stores, in or belonging to the same:” “and of any barge, hoy, lighter, wherry, or boat into which any goods &c. are laden,” &c.



The next paragraph, “in case any wharfinger,” &c. or any of their servants shall take up or land, or knowingly suffer to be taken up or landed, or shall ship off, or suffer to be water-born, at or from any of their said wharves, &c. goods &c.” enacts a FORFEITURE and LOSS of such “goods &c. and TREBLE the value thereof, to be computed at the highest price of such sort of goods, &c. together with the vessels and boats, and all the horses, cattle, and carriages, whatsoever made use of in the shipping, unshipping, landing, removing, carriage, or conveyance of any of the aforesaid goods,” &c.


The next clause provides, “that if any ship &c. shall be moored or lie at anchor, or be seen hovering within said bay, &c. or within one league from the said bay, &c. it shall and may be lawful for any Admiral, or commissioned officer of his Majesty’s fleet or ships of war, or for ANY OFFI- [10] CER OF HIS MAJESTY’S CUSTOMS, to compel such ship or vessel to depart to SOME OTHER port or harbour, or to SUCH STATION AS THE SAID OFFICER SHALL APPOINT and to use SUCH FORCE for that purpose as shall be found necessary: And if such ship or vessel shall not depart accordingly, WITHIN SIX HOURS after notice for that purpose given by such person as aforesaid, such ship or vessel, together with all the goods laden on board thereon, and all the guns, ammunition, tackle and furniture shall be forfeited and lost, WHETHER BULK SHALL HAVE BEEN BROKEN OR NOT.”


Let us here pause for a moment;—let us give time for one single reflection; let us give space for one pulse of the veins—one emotion of the heart. And who can think, but those exalted characters and that generous prince, stiled THE FATHER OF all HIS PEOPLE—who united to this terrible act had many reflections, many feelings of humanity, while they were solemnly consigning thousands—if not millions—to ruin, misery and desperation?

The persons in whom this authority is vested, are not confined to the ports or harbours on this continent: the vessel and cargo may be ordered to what harbour, port or station of the whole world, the officer pleases—if he appoint a continental station, ‘tis grace and favour;—and what may be the price of thatpurchase, who can tell! what scope for malice and ill-will; for pride and haughtiness; for avarice and power to wanton and insult, till the one is satiated and the other wearied!


Who are the persons to whom such unbounded, such enormous power is entrusted? Power is [11] known to be intoxicating in it’s nature, and in proportion to it’s extent, is ever prone to wantoness: power and authority, says Plutarch, awaken every passion, and discover every latent vice:


—what a cogent temptation is here placed to insnare the most virtuous? But if there be one depraved passion in the bosom, as power gives scope and opportunity, how soon will it be called forth in licentious exercise? Shall I be thought going too far; shall I trespass upon the bounds of truth and decency, if I say, that SOME of his Majesty’s commissioned officers, in his fleet, or ships of war; SOME officers of his customs are not altogether worthy of such high confidence and trust? Are there not inferior commissioned officers in the King’s ships; are there not many of the LOWER officers of the customs, who have neither strength of understanding or integrity of heart to weild such a mighty power? Nay, may not I add, that SOME FEW (into whose hands peradventure the estate of a good subject and opulent merchant may chance to fall) are destitute of all sense, mental and humane? While contemplating this subject,—while the mind is active, and heart warm—how apt are we to forget, that the illustrious Houses, who gave their sanction to this astonishing law, are dignified as learned and venerable;—and the Prince that gave his fiat, denominated—“THE WISEST AND BEST OF KINGS”?


Declining an entrance upon matters heretofore discussed by abler heads, I have omitted all observation on the right and policy of the claims and laws of Great-Britain over the colonies; upon the same principle, I waive entering that copious field which is presented, by that part of the present act, which provides for the recovery of all forfeitures and penalties in the courts of admiralty—whose extended [12] jurisdiction hath been matter of very great grievance, heart-burnings and complaint; whose judges hold their commissions by the tenure of will and pleasure; and whose large salaries are a most powerful incentive to the desire of—well-pleasing ALL on whom they depend.


Another passage in this statute makes utterly void ALL CONTRACTS, “for consigning, shipping, or carrying any goods, &c. to or from the harbour of Boston, which HAVE BEEN made or entered into, or which shall be madeor entered into, so long as the act continues in force, relating to any ship which shall arrive at said town or harbour after the first day of June”.


Jurisprudents and the sages of the law for centuries have taught, that retrospective or post facto statutes, were not only militant with the principles of sound morals, but those also of political wisdom. But the Parliament, who by the bold figure of common lawyers, are stiled omnipotent, here enforces a different doctrine. The english colonist, replete with loyalty to his sovereign; the descendant from Britain, animated by love for a mother-country, represses the excursions of his understanding and passions: but the subject or native of another state will feel no such restraint. He had contracted to send his merchandize to this port, expects his returns in the commodities of the country—in compliance with his obligations, his treasures are moving with hazard upon the ocean, with hopes warm for gain. The ship (in which peradventure he hath risqued his life as well as fortune) after many a toil and jeopardy, reaches the destined port. But how are his hopes baffled—how will he [13] rage and exclaim? vast hath been his expences to prepare for his adventure, and equally great his expectations from the Boston merchant. What guilt hath he contracted, what crime hath he committed, that he also should be involved in the calamitous consequences of this unexampled statute? Bouyed up for a moment, perhaps, with a vain expectation, that he may have a remedy on his contract against the merchant here;—how will this supposed foreigner sink with a ten-fold despondency, how will he rise again with adequate indignation, when he discovers all remedy gone;—his contract declared by the law,utterly void, to ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES WHATSOEVER?”—Here again, love of a parent-country, love for a parent-king checks the current of reason, and restrains the career of passion.


Having taken this view, before we proceed further, it is natural once more to ask, whence arose this extraordinary stride of legislation; what is it, that the town of Boston hath done? what new and unheard of crime have the inhabitants committed to justify enacting of such disabilities, forfeitures, pains, and penalties? punishments that descend indiscriminately on all ought to have the sanction of unerring wisdom, and almighty power, or it will be questioned, if not opposed:—The present vengeance falls indiscriminately on the acknowledged innocent, as well as the supposed guilty. Surely the evil is of a very malignant and terrible nature that can require such an extraordinary remedy. Admit fora moment, that the inhabitants of Boston were charged as high criminals; the highest criminals are not punishable, till arraigned before disinterested [14] judges, heard in defence, and found guilty of the charge. But so far from all this, a whole people are accused, prosecuted by they know not whom; tried they know not when; proved guilty they know now how; and sentenced in a mode, which for number of calamities, extent and duration of severity, exceeds the annals of past ages, and we presume, in pity to mankind, will not mark any future Era in the story of the world.


What will be the real consequences of this astonishing measure, and what those intended and expected by the planners of it are very different considerations. A MACHIAVEL may plan, and his schemes prove abortive; an [Duke of] ALVA may be sent to execute, and his army be defeated. The circle of the arts and sciences, like the ball of empire, hath held a western course. From Chaldea and Egypt to Greece and Rome, soon after in Italy, and thence to the western provinces of Europe. Chaldea and Egypt had their Magi, their law-givers and heroes, when Greece and Rome swarmed with petty feudatories and barbarians; Greece and Rome flourished in literature, when Gaul, Germany, and Britain were uncivilized, rude and ignorant.


Wise and sagacious politicians have not been able to stay the rotation of this revolving scientific circle, any more than mighty potentates to repel the velocity of the flying ball of empire:—superior to human powers, like blazing stars, they hold their destined course, and play their corruscations as they run their race.


The expectations of those who were the fautors of the present measures, must have been to bring down superlative distress, discord, confusion, despair, and perdition upon a multitude. How then [15] will our amazement increase, when we shall hear that the hard fate of this multitude cannot be avoided? Let the inhabitants comply with the requisitions of the statute, let them be implicitly obedient to it’s injunctions:—what is the evil they will escape? what is the boon they may hope to attain? hope and fear are said to be the hinges of government. Legislators have therefore considered it as sound policy, never to drive the subject into acts of despair, by causing punishments to appear as inevitable, on the first promulgation of a law. When a legislative body ordaineth penalties to take place in cases of performance or non-performance of particular matters, they surely will take due care, that sufficient notice is given of their public will and sufficient time to comply with their mandates; so that obedience maynot only proceed from principles of regard to the law-makers, but motives of personal safety to the subject himself. This seems not more consonant to political wisdom, than to nature and equity.—But let us now suppose, that upon the first intimations of the present law, Boston had been as prone to obey the edict of a British Court, as the Turk to comply with the mandate of the Divan;


let us imagine them as servile, as fawning as a court dependant to a minister of state;—nay, if there be any thing in nature, yet more humble and more base, let Boston (in idea for a short moment) be that humble, servile base and fawning something: What doth it all avail? The first time the inhabitants of this town had any intimation, of the will of the British Parliament, was on the tenth of may, and the act is to take place on the first of June; and thence to continue in full force, “until it shall sufficiently appear to his Majesty that [16] full satisfaction hath been made by or on behalf of the inhabitants of the said town of Boston to the united company of merchants of England trading to the East-Indies, for the damage sustained by the said company by the destruction of their goods sent to the said town of Boston, on board certain ships or vessels as aforesaid; AND UNTIL IT SHALL BE CERTIFIED TO HIS MAJESTY in council BY THE GOVERNOR, or LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, of the said province, that reasonable satisfaction hath been made to the officers of his Majesty’s revenue and OTHERS, WHO SUFFERED BY THE RIOTS AND INSURRECTIONS ABOVE MENTIONED, in the months of November and December in the year 1773, and in the month of January in the year 1774.”



Satisfaction could not be made to the East-India company, if all Boston had the WILL and POWER to do it, till the town had time and opportunity to call a meeting, assemble, consult and determine upon the measure: great bodies are not calculated for speedy decision, any more than velocity of motion. The resolution formed; time must be given for dispatches to England, application to the East-India company, an adjustment with them upon the nice point of “full satisfaction”:—that accomplished; time must be given for making the matter “sufficiently appear to his Majesty.”—Let any one consider but for a moment, what a length of time must inevitably elapse before all this can be accomplished: nay, may it not well be questioned, considering the parties and all persons concern’d and the circumstances of this affair, whether such accomplishment be practicable? But is this all that is to be done and effected before relief can be given to [17] this distressed land? Far otherwise. “The Governoror Lieutenant Governor, must also first certify to his Majesty, in Council, that reasonable satisfaction hath been made to the officers of his Majesty’s revenue, and OTHERS, who SUFFERED by the riots and insurrections above mentioned”. No person is particularly designated to be the judge between the subject, and the officers of his Majesty’s revenue: No provision being expressly made, touching this point, how probable that litigation might arise concerning it? If we say that the Governor, or Lieutenant Governor, is the implied judge of this matter: How is the question to be brought before him, how tried, and how adjusted? These also are points not settled in a moment: Long indeed would be the period before the subject in Boston will be capable to ascertain and make such satisfaction, as that the person here pointed out, would make his certificate, that it was plenary and reasonable. Governor Bernard lately filled the chair of government, while Mr. Hutchinson was second in command: Governor Hutchinson now fills the chair, and the office of Lieutenant Governor is vacant. How long would it be before the inhabitants of Boston would acquiesce in the decision of either of these gentlemen? How little probability is there, considering the sentiments, the past and present conduct of these gentlemen, that they would speedily give the required certificate?—If it hath been found difficult to touch the tender feelings of the American and Native, how long would it take to excite generous sentiments in the Briton and Stranger? [18]


But these are all preparatories to the obtaining any ease or relief from the pressure of this penal law. The prerequisites to the restoration of public felicity are here not only improbable, but when considered altogether and in the present crisis of public affairs are they not impracticable? But yet worse, being accomplished, it could in no way prevent the misery and calamities of this British edict. The space given for the subject to stay this torrent of evils is so short, that it is impossible for him, exerting his utmost energies, to prevent being overwhelmed. (But what mortals are unable to prevent—HEAVEN may stay or divert.)



An avenue seems to be opened by the benignity of our British fathers; but when attempted, affords no way of escape. My veneration for Britain is so great, that I will not suppose the great council of the nation intended to flatter with a false hope, that cruel disappointment might heighten the poignancy of suffering—the anguish of despair. But sure the fathers of a people will consider, what are like to be the sentiments and conduct of men driven to distractionby a multitude of inevitable evils, and consigned to despair from the terms of their deliverance?


Wonder was excited on the first view of the present law; our astonishment hath been increasing in the progress of our survey.


A period is not yet put to our admiration. The faculties of sensation are yet to be further stretched.


The civilian and statesman, the moralist and sage had heretofore delivered those maxims of truth and [19] those rules of government, which wise legislators have ever observed, and the bulk of mankind yet honour and revere.—To know the laws of the land already in force, previous to the publication of a new code, or in the technical phraseology of a common lawyer “to know how the law stood before we make a new statute”, hath been considered as an indispensable accomplishment of a good legislator. But that illustrious Parliament, whose power is distinguished, with the appellation of “omnipotent”, seem not to have exercised this important knowledge—tho’ we do not hence rashly infer, that they are destitute of information, because all who are vested with omnipotence of power are ever inspired with proportionate wisdom.


It must again be noticed, that no relief is to be had, “untill full satisfaction hath been made BY or ON behalf of the inhabitants of said town of Boston”. Now to suppose that any in England or Europe would make satisfaction “on behalf” of said Inhabitants was unnatural, if not absurd; but what is more to the point, it was certainly unparliamentary. The remaining alternative is that satisfaction must be made by Boston.


Every person knows, that towns in this Province cannot raise or appropriate any monies, but by the express provisions and direct authority of law: it is a matter of equal notoriety that all town assessments of money are expresly confined, by the 4 Wm. & Mar. c. 13. to the “maintenance and support of the ministry, schools, the poor, and defraying of other necessary TOWN CHARGES”. A law which received the royal approbation, almost a century agone.


[20]


Will any now say, that the monies appointed to be paid to the East-India house come within the words of “necessary town charges”? When did the town contract the debt, or how are they subject to the payment of it? Had the Parliament seen fit to enact, that monies requisite to satisfy the India merchants, should be so considered; two questions (not of quick decision) might then have arisen; the one touching the validity and obligatory force of the statute; theother, whether it would then come within the intent and design of the Province law. For past doubt, our Provincial legislators had no such charge (as the one here supposed) in view, when they made the law of Wm. & Mary; and in this way therefore the matter could not be brought within it’s provision. Parliament must then make a new act to enable and impower Boston to pay the India company, before the town can comply with the terms of relief of their trade. In the mean while, what is to be the situation of Boston and the inhabitants of the globe with whom they have such extensive connections?—But, it is very apparent, that the Parliament have not as yet enacted the payment of this satisfaction as a town charge. They have only placed it in the option of the town to make that payment, or submit to the consequences. That payment, we affirm, they cannot pay, without breach of the law of the land.—New and unheard of therefore is the state of this people. They must sustain the severest afflictions, they must stand the issue of distracting remedies—or—violate one of the most known and practiced laws of the land!—Let us search the history of the world;—let us inspect the records of a Spanish inquisition; [21] let us enter the recesses of an Ottoman court;—nay, let us traverse the regions of romance and fable—where shall we find a parallel?


“When the Hungarians were called REBELS first, they were called so for no other reason than this, (says the elegant Ld. Bolingbroke) that they would not be SLAVES”.


But for BRITONS, when they would not venture to call their CHILDREN, rebels, that they should treat them as worse than REBELS, was reserved to distinguish an age of vaunted light, humanity and knowledge—the Era of a King, who prides himself as born and bred a Briton!


To complain of the enormities of power, to expostulate with over-grown oppressors, hath in all ages been denominated sedition and faction; and to turn upon tyrants, treason and rebellion. But tyrants are rebels against the first laws of Heaven and Society:—to oppose their ravages is an instinct of nature—the inspiration of GOD in the heart of man. In the noble resistance which mankind make to exorbitant ambition and power, they always feel that divine afflatus, which, paramount every thing human, causes them to consider the LORD OF HOSTS as their leader, and his angels as fellow-soldiers: —trumpets are to them joyful sounds, and the ensigns of war, the banners of GOD; —their wounds are bound up in the oil of a good cause, and their blood flows into the veins of a Saviour; sudden death is to them present martyrdom,and funeral obsequies resurrections to eternal honour and glory:—their widows and babes, being received into the arms of a compassionate GOD, and their names enrolled among [22] DAVID’S WORTHIESS—greatest losses are to them greatest gains; for they leave the troubles of their warfare to lie down on beds of eternal rest and felicity.



There are other parts of the act now before us, which merit notice: particularly that, relative to the prosecution of suits in the ordinary courts of law, “for any thing done in pursuance of the act”; by which the defendant is enabled “to plead the general issue, and give the act, and the general matter, in evidence”: whereupon it follows, that if it shall appear so to have been done, the jury SHALL find for the defendant”; who, by an after clause, is to “recover treble costs”. From this passage some have been lead to conclude, that the appearance of this matter was to be to the Judge; and that if it had that appearance to him, and he should direct the jury accordingly; however it might appear to the jury, they must follow the directions of the Judge, and acquit the defendant. But this is a construction, which as the words do not necessarily carry that meaning, I will not permit myself to suppose the design of the law. However the late donations of large salaries by the crown, to the justices of our superior Courts, who are nominated by the Governor, and hold their commission, durante bene placito, have not a little contributed to the preceeding apprehension.


Another passage makes provision for “assigning and appointing such and so many open places, quays and wharfs, within the said harbour, creeks, havens and islands, for the landing, discharging, lading and shipping of goods, as his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall judge necessary and ex- [23] pedient”; and also for “appointing such and so many officers of the customs therein, as his Majesty shall think fit; after which it shall be lawful for any person or persons to lade or put off from, or to discharge and land upon, such wharfs, quays, and places, so appointed within the said harbour, AND NONE OTHER, any goods, wares and mechandize whatsoever”.


By which the property of many private individuals is to be rendered useless, and worse than useless; as the possession of a thing, aggravates the misfortune of those who are deprived of a capacity to enjoy. But if the property of some few is to be rendered nothing worth, so that of many others is to be openly invaded:—But why should we dwell upon private wrongs, while those of the multitude call for all our attention?


If any should now say—we are a commercial people—commercial plans can only save us. If any think that ideas of the merchant are at this day to give spring to our nerves and vigour to our actions; if any say, that empire in this age of the world, is only founded in commerce:—let him show me the people emancipated from oppression by commercial principles and measures: let him point me, that unexplored land, where trade and slavery flourish together. Till then, I must hold a different creed; and believe—that tho’ commercial views may not be altogether unprofitable; that tho’ commercial plans may do much, they never can do ALL. With regard then, to how much the merchant, the artificer, the citizen and the husbandsman may do, let us no longer differ. But let every one apply his strength and abilities to that [24] mighty burden, which unless removed, must crush US ALL. AMERICANS have one COMMON INTEREST to unite them; that interest must cement them. Natural allies, they have published to the world professions of reciprocal esteem and confidence, aid and assistance; they have pledged their faith of mutual friendship and alliance. Not only common danger, bondage, and disgrace; but national truth and honour conspire to make THE COLONISTS resolve—TO STAND OR FALL TOGETHER.



Americans never were destitute of discernment; they have never been grossly deficient in virtue; a small share of sagacity is now needful to discover, the insidious art of our enemies; the smallest spark of virtue will on this occasion kindle into flame.

Will the little temporary advantage held forth for delusion, seduce them from their duty? Will they not evidence at this time, how much they despise the commercial bribe of a British ministry; and testify to the world that they do not vail to the most glorious of the antients, in love of freedom and sterness of virtue? But as to THE INHABITANTS OF THIS PROVINCE, how great are the number, how weighty the considerations to actuate their conduct? Not a town in this colony, but have breathed the warmest declarations of attachment to their rights, union in their defence, and perseverance to the end. Should any ONE maritime town (for more than ONE I will not believe there can be) allured by the expectations of gain, refuse to lend their aid;—entertaining the base idea of build- [25] ing themselves upon the ruins of this metropolis—and in the chain of future events, on the destruction of ALL AMERICA,—what shall we say?—hours of bitter reflection will come,when their own feelings shall excite consideration; when remembrance of the past, and expectation of the future shall fill up the measure of their sorrow and anguish.—But I turn from the idea, which blasts my country with infamy—my species with disgrace.

The intelligent reader must have noticed, that through the whole of the act of Parliament, there is no suggestion that the East-India company had made any demand for damage done to their property:—if the company supposed they had received injury, it doth not appear whom they considered guilty, and much less, that they had alledged any charge against the town of Boston.


But I presume that if the company were intitled to receive a recompense from the town until they prosecuted their demand they are supposed to wave it. And we cannot but imagine, that this is the first instance, where Parliament hath ordered one subject to pay a satisfaction to another, when the party aggrieved did not appear to make his regular claim; and much more uncommon is it, for such recompence to be ordered without ascertaining the amount to which the satisfaction shall extend.



But if the East-India company were now made easy, and Boston reduced to perfect silence and humiliation:—how many “OTHERS” are they, who would suggest, that they “SUFFERED by the riots and insurrections abovementioned” and demand “reasonable satisfaction” therefor.—The singular texture, uncer- [26] tainty, looseness and ambiguity of this phrase in the statute seems so calculated for dispute, such an eternal bar to a full compliance with the requisitions of the act, and of course to render permanent it’s evils, that I cannot speak upon the subject without trespassing upon those bounds of respect and decency, within the circle of which I have endeavoured to move.


Here waiving further particular consideration of that subject which gave origin to this performance; I shall proceed to an equally interesting subject—that of STANDING ARMIES and CIVIL SOCIETY.



———————————

The faculty of intelligence may be considered as the first gift of GOD: it’s due exercise is the happiness and honour of man; it’s abuse his calamity and disgrace. The most trifling duty is not properly discharged without the exertion of this noble faculty; yet how often does it lie dormant, while the highest concernments are in issue? Believe me (my countrymen) the labor of examining for ourselves, or great imposition, must be submitted to; there is no otheralternative: and unless we weigh and consider what we examine, little benefit will result from research. We are at this extraordinary crisis called to view the most melancholy events of our day: the scene is unpleasant to the eye, but it’s contemplation will be useful; if our thoughts terminate with judgment, resolution and spirit.



If at this period of public affairs, we do not think, deliberate, and determine like men—men of [27] minds to conceive, hearts to feel, and virtue to act—what are we to do?—to gaze upon our bondage? while our enemies throw about fire-brands, arrows and death, and play their tricks of desperation with the gambols of sport and wantonness.

The proper object of society and civil institutions is the advancement of “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”.


The people (as a body, being never interested to injure themselves and uniformly desirous of the general wellfare) have ever made this collective felicity the object of their wishes and pursuit. But strange, as it may seem, what the many through successive ages have desired and sought, the few have found means to baffle and defeat. The necessity of the acquisition hath been conspicuous to the rudest mind; but man, inconsiderate, that “in every society, there is an effort constantly tending to confer on one part the height of power, and to reduce the other to the extreme of weakness and misery”, hath abandoned the most important concerns of civil society to the caprice and controul of those, whose elevation caused them to forget their pristine equality, and whose interest urged them to degrade the best and most useful below the worst and most unprofitable of the species.


Against this exertion, and the principle which originates it, no vigilance can be too sharp, no determination too severe. [28]


But alas—as if born to delude and be deluded—to believe whatever is taught, and bear all that is imposed—successive impositions, wrongs and insults awaken neither the sense of injury or spirit of revenge. Fascinations and enchantments, chains and fetters bind in adamant the understanding and passions of the human race. Ages follow ages, pointing the way to study wisdom—but the charm continues.


Sanctified by authority and armed with power, error and usurpation bid defiance to truth and right, while the bulk of mankind sit gazing at the monster of their own creation:—a monster, to which their follies and vices gave origin, and their depravity and cowardice continue in existence.


The greatest happiness of the greatest number” being the object and bond of society, the establishment of truth and justice, ought to be the basis of civil policy and jurisprudence. But this capital establishment can never be attained in a state where there exists a power superior to the civil magistrate and sufficient to controul the authority of the laws. Whenever, therefore, the profession of arms becomes a distinct order in the state, and a standing army part of the constitution, we are not scrupulous to affirm, that the end of the social compact is defeated, and the nation called to act upon the grand question consequent upon such an event.


The people who compose the society (for whose security the labour of it’s institution was perform- [29] ed, and of the toils it’s preservation daily sustained) THE PEOPLE, I say, are the only competent judges of their own welfare, and, therefore, are the only suitable authority to determine touching the great end of their subjection and their sacrifices. This position leads us to two others, not impertinent on this occasion, because of much importance to Americans:—


That the legislative body of the common-wealth ought to deliberate, determine and make their decrees in places where the legislators may easily know from their own observation the wants and exigencies, the sentiments and will, the good and happiness of the people; and the people as easily know the deliberations, motives, designs and conduct of their legislators, before their statutes and ordinances actually go forth and take effect:—

That every member of the legislature ought himself to be so far subject in his person and property to the laws of the state, as to immediately and effectually feel every mischief and inconvenience resulting from all and every act of legislation.


The science of man and society, being the most extended in it’s nature, and the most important in it’s consequences of any in the circle of erudition, ought to be an object of universal attention and study. Was it made so, the rights of mankind would not remain buried for ages, under systems of civil and priestly hierarchy, nor social felicity overwhelmed by lawless domination.


Under appearances the most venerable and institutions the most revered; under the sanctity of religion; the dignity of government, and the smiles of [30] beneficence, do the subtle and ambitious make their first incroachments upon their species. Watch and oppose ought therefore to be the motto of mankind.


A nation in it’s best estate—guarded by good laws, fraught with publicvirtue, and steeled with martial courage—may resemble Achilles: but Achilles was wounded in the heel. The least point left unguarded, the foe enters:—latent evils are the most dangerous—for we often receive the mortal wound, while we are flattered with security.


The experience of all ages shews that mankind are inattentive to the calamities of others, careless of admonition, and with difficulty roused to repel the most injurious invasions. “I perceive (said the great patriot Cicero to his countrymen) an inclination for tyranny in all Caesar projects and executes.” Notwithstanding this friendly caution, not “till it was too late did the people find out, that no beginnings, however small, are to be neglected.” For that Caesar, who at first attacked the common-wealth with mines very soon opened his batteries.


—Encroachments upon the rights and property of the citizen are like the rollings of mighty waters over the breach of antient mounds: slow and unalarming at the beginning; rapid and terrible in the current; a deluge and devastation at the end.—Behold the oak, which stretcheth itself to the mountains, and overshadows the vallies, was once an acorn in the bowels of the earth:—Slavery (my friends) which was


yesterday engraf- [31] ted among you, already overspreads the land, extending its arms to the ocean, and it’s limbs to the rivers:—Unclean and voracious animals under it’s covert, find protection and food,—but the shade blasteth the green herb, and the root thereof poisoneth the dry ground, while the winds which wave its branches scatter pestilence and death.


Regular government is necessary to the preservation of private property and personal security. Without these, men will descend into barbarism, or at best become adepts in humiliation and servility: but they will never make a progress in literature or the useful arts. Surely a proficiency in arts and sciences is of some value to mankind, and deserves some consideration.—What regular government can America enjoy with a legislative a thousand leagues distant, unacquainted with her exigencies, militant in interest, and unfeeling of her calamities? What protection of property—when ministers under this authority shall overrun the land with mercenary legions? What personal safety when a British administration—(such as it now is, and corrupt as it may be)—pour armies into the capital and senate-house—point their artillery against the tribunal of justice, and plant weapons of death at the posts of our doors?



Thus exposed to the power, and insulted by the arms of Britain—STANDING ARMIES become an object of serious attention. And as the history of mankind affords no instance of successful and confirmed tyranny, without the aid of military forces, we shall not wonder to find them the desiderata of princes, and the grand object of modern poli- [32] cy.—What, tho’ they subdue every generous passion and extinguish every spark of virtue—all this must be done, before empires will submit to be exhausted by tribute and plundered with impunity.


Amidst all the devices of man to the prejudice of his species, the institution of which we treat hath proved the most extensively fatal to religion, morals and social happiness. Founded in the most malevolent dispositions of the human breast, disguised by the policy of state, supported by the lusts of ambition, THE SWORD hath spread havock and misery throughout the world. By the aid of mercenary troops, the sinews of war, the property of the subject, the life of the common-wealth have been committed to the hands of hirelings, whose interest and very existence, depend on an abuse of their power. In the lower class of life, STANDING ARMIES have introduced brutal debauchery and real cowardice; in the higher orders of state, venal haughtiness and extravagant dissipation. In short whatever are the concommitants of despotism; whatever the appendages of oppression, this ARMED MONSTER hath spawned or nurtured, protected or established;—monuments and scourges of the folly and turpitude of man.


Review the armament of modern princes:—what sentiments actuate the military body? what characters compose it? Is there a private centinel of all the innumerable troops that make so brilliant a figure, who would not for want of property have been driven from a Roman cohort, when soldiers were the defenders of liberty?


[33]


Booty and blind submission is the science of the camp. When lust, rapacity, or resentment incite whole battallions proceed to outrage. Do their leaders command—obedience must follow. “Private soldiers (said Tiberius Gracchus from the Roman rostrum) fight and die to advance the wealth and luxury of the great.”


“Soldiers (said an eminent Puritan in his sermon preached in this country more than 130 years ago) are commonly men who fight themselves fearlessly into the mouth of hell for revenge, a booty, or a little revenue:—a cry of battle is a day of harvest for the devil”.


Soldiers, like men, are much the same in every age and country.


“Heroes are much the same, the point’s agreed, From Macedonia’s madman to the Sweed.”

What will they not fight for—whom will they not fight against?—Are these men, who take up arms with a view to defend their country and its laws? Do the ideas or feelings of the citizen actuate a British private on entering the camp?


Excitements, generous and noble like these are far from being the stimuli of a modern phalanx. The general of an army, habituated to uncontrouled command, feels himself absolute: he forgets his superiors, or rather despises that civil authority, which is destitute of an energy to compel his obedience. His soldiers (who look up to him as their sovereign, and to their officers as magistrates) loose the sentiments of the citizen and contemn the [34] laws. Thus a will and a power to tyranize become united; and the effects are as inevitable and fatal in the political, as the moral world.



The soldiers of Great Britain are by the mutiny act deprived of those legal rights which belong to the meanest of their fellow-subjects, and even to the vilest malefactor.


Thus divested of those rights and privileges which render Britons the envy of all other nations, and liable to such hardships and punishments as the limits and mercy of our known laws utterly disallow; it may well be thought they are persons best prepared and most easily tempted to strip others of their rights, having already lost their own.


Excluded, therefore, from the enjoyments which others possess, like Eunuchs of an Eastern seraglio, they envy and hate the rest of the community, and indulge a malignant pleasure in destroying those privileges to which they can never be admitted.


How eminently does modern observation verify that sentiment of Baron Montesquieu—a slave living among free-men will soon become a beast.



A very small knowledge of the human breast, and a little consideration of the ends for which we form into societies and common-wealths discover the impropriety and danger of admitting such an order of men to obtain an establishment in the state: the annals and experience of every age shew; that it is not only absurdity and folly—but distraction and madness. But we in this region of the earth have not only to dread and struggle with the natural and common calamities resulting from such military bodies, but the combined dan- [35] gers arising from AN ARMY OF FOREIGNERS, stationed in the very bowels of the land. Infatuated Britons have been told—and as often deceived, that an army of natives would never oppress their own countrymen.But Caesar and Cromwell, and an hundred others have enslaved their country with such kind of forces. And who does not know that subalterns are implicitly obedient to their officers;—who when they become obnoxious are easily changed, as armies to serve the purposes of ambition and power are soon new modelled.


But as to America, the armies which infest her shores, are in every view FOREIGNERS, disconnected with her in interest, kindred and other social alliances; who have nothing to lose, but every thing to gain by butchering and oppressing her inhabitants.—But yet worse:


—their inroads are to be paliated, their outrages are to receive a sanction and defence from a Parliament whose claims and decrees are as unrighteous, as the Administration is corrupt; as boundless as their ambition, and as terrible as their power. The usurpation and tyranny of the Decemviri of Rome are represented as singularly odious and oppressive: but even they never assumed what Britain in the face of all mankind hath avowed and


exercised over the Colonies:—the power of passing laws merely on her own authority. “Nothing that we propose (said they to the people) can pass into a law without your consent. Be yourselves, ye romans, the authors of those LAWS ON WHICH YOUR HAPPINESS DEPENDS”.


“The dominion of all great empires degrades and debases the human species”.


The dominion of Britain is that of a mighty empire. Her [36] laws waste our substance, her placemen corrupt our morals, and her armies are to break our spirits.


—Yes, are they not to do more? “To spoil, to slaughter and to commit every kind of violence; and then to call the manaeuvre by a lying name—GOVERNMENT; and when they have spread a general devastation, call it PEACE.”


In the barbarous Massacres of France, in the 16th century, the very hangmen refused obedience to the cruel mandates of the French monarch, saying they were legal officers, and only executed those the laws condemned. Yet history bears testimony that the soldiers performed the office which the hangman refused.


Who then can be at a loss for the views of those who were so fond of introducing and tenacious of obtaining similar peace-officers in this obnoxious capital?


But let all such—yes, let Great-Britain consider the nature of mankind: let her examine carefully the history of past events, and attend to the voice of experience.



In the same age we have just mentioned, the Low-Countries, then subject to the crown of Spain, being persecuted by the court and church of thatkingdom rose up to resist their oppressors. Upon which, in the year 1567, the Duke of Alva was sent, and entered the country with a well-appointed army, ten thousand strong; in order to quell and punish the insurgents. Terrified with these martial operations, the towns [37] suffered the open breach of their charters, and the people submitted to the most humiliating infraction of their liberties; while Alva, being invested with the government, erected the court of twelve, called the council of blood, and caused great numbers to be condemned and executed on account of the insurrections. Universal complaints insued on this disuse of the ordinary courts of law and the introduction of the army: but complaints were in vain, and all murmurs despised. The people became enraged; but without a leader, they were over-awed. “The army (says Sir William Temple) was fierce and brave, and desirous of nothing so much as a rebellion of the country.” All was seizure and process, confiscation and imprisonment, blood and horror, insolence and dejection, punishments executed and meditated revenge. But though the multitude threatened vengeance, the threats of a broken and unarmed people excited contempt and not fear. Alva redoubled his impositions and ravages, his edicts were published for raising monies without the consent of the state, and his soldiers were called to levy the exactions by force.—But the event shewed, that the timidity and tameness of mankind, like every thing human, will have a period. The patience of the miserable sufferers came to an end; and those commotions began which deluged great part of Europe with blood, and finally freed THE UNITED PROVINCES from the yoke of Spain and the inquisition.—What conflicts too sharp—what horrors too dreadful to endure for such a happy deliverance—such a glorious issue? Thus “the first period of the low-country troubles (says the same ingenious writer) proved to King Philip (of Spain) a dear experience, how little the boldest armies and best conduct are able to withstand the torrent of a stubborn and enraged people, which ever bears all [38] down before it, till it be divided into different channels by arts, or by chance; or till the springs, which are the humours that fed it, come to be spent, or dry up of themselves.


During several centuries, history informs us, that no monarch in Europe was either so bold, or so powerful as to venture on any steps toward the introduction of regular troops. At last, Charles the 7th of France, seizing a favourable opportunity in 1445, executed that which his predecessors durst not attempt, and established the first standing army known in Europe. Lewis the 11th, son,and successor of Charles, finding himself at the head of his father’s forces, was naturally excited to extend the limits of his ancestors, in the levies of money and men. Charles had not been able to raise upon his subjects two millions, but the army he left his successor enabled him to levy near five. The father established an army of about seventeen hundred, which “he kept in good order and placed for the defence of the realm”; but this army, though thus disciplined and stationed, enabled the son to maintain “in continual pay a terrible band of men of arms, which gave the realm (says the Historian Philip de Commines) a cruel wound of which it bled many years.”


How regular, correspondent and uniform are the rise and progression of military calamities in all ages! How replete with instruction—how full of admonition are the memorials of distant times—especially when contracted into the view, and held up in comparison with the present. [39]


Charles and Lewis having set the example, all the neighbouring crowned heads soon followed, and mercenary troops were introduced into all the considerable kingdoms of the continent. They gradually became the only military force that was employed or trusted. It has long been (says the learned Dr. Robertson) the chief object of policy to encrease and support them, and the great aim of Princes or ministers to discredit and to annihilate all other means of national activity or defence.


Who will wonder at this, who reflect, that absolute monarchies are established, and can only be supported by mercenary forces? Who can be surprized, that princes and their subalterns discourage a martial spirit among the people, and endeavour to render useless and contemptible the militia, when this institution is the natural strength, and only stable safeguard, of a free country?


“Without it, ‘tis folly to think any free government will ever have security and stability.”


A standing army in quarters will grow effeminate and dissolute; while a militia, uniformly exercised with hard labor, are naturally firm and robust. Thus an army in peace is worse than a militia; and in war, a militia will soon become disciplin’d and martial. But “when the sword is in the hands of a single person—as in our constitution—he will always (says the ingenious Hume) neglect to discipline the [40] militia in order to have a pretext for keeping up a standing army. ‘TIS EVIDENT, (says the same great character) that this is a mortal distemper in the BRITISH government; of which it must at last inevitably perish.”


What a deformed monster is a standing army in a free nation? Free, did I say? what people are truly free,whose monarch has a numerous body of armed mercenaries at his heels? who is already absolute in his power—or by the breath of his nostrils may in an instant make himself so?


No free government was ever founded or ever preserved it’s liberty without uniting the characters of citizen and soldier in those destined for defence of the state. The sword should never be in the hands of any, but those who have an interest in the safety of the community, who fight for their religion and their offspring


;—and repell invaders that they may return to their private affairs and the enjoyment of freedom and good order. Such are a well regulated militia composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property as individuals, and their rights as freemen. Such is the policy of a truly wise nation, and such was the wisdom of the antient Britons.


The primitive constitution of a state in a few centuries falls to decay:—errors and corruptions creep gradually into the admini- [41] stration of government—‘till posterity forget or disregard the institutions of their remote ancestors. In antient time, THE MILITIA of England was raised officered and conducted by common consent. It’s militia was the ornament of the realm in peace and for ages continued the only and sure defence in war. Was the King himself general of an army—it was by the consent of his people. Thus when the Romans visited the island of Britain, Cassibelan was the Prince and chief commander in war; but it was by the election of the great Common Council, Summa belli (says Caesar) COMMUNI CONCILIO, Cassibelano traditur. Nor will this seem strange, when we consider that it was the first state maxim of the Druids ne loqui de republica, nisi per concilium—not even to speak upon a matter of state but in council.


Nor is it to be wondered that such politicians informed Caesar, that they had been so long accustomed to liberty, that they knew not the meaning of tribute and slavery; and sent him word, that they had as good blood as he, and from the same fountain. Surely a message that was received by a Roman, may be sent to a British Caesar. There were those venerable Druids, who had inspired the Gauls, of whom Caesar reports this memorable boast; We can call or appeal to such a Great Common Council, as all the world cannot resist. Tacitus, speaking of our Saxon ancestors, relates, Reges ex nobilitate, Duces ex virtute in iisdem conciliis eliguntur. The great council, or the parliament of the state, had, not only the appointment of the principes militia, but the conduct of all military forces, from the first erection of the standard to it’s lodgment in theCitidel; for as the same noble writer informs, it was their general custom—not to intrust any man with the bearing of arms, antequam [42] CIVITAS suffecturum probaverit.


Such was the security of the people from the calamities of a standing army:—happy indeed if their successors could boast a similar provision—Britain would not now be groaning under oppression—nor her distant children struggling for their freedom.


A spirited nation thus embodied in a well disciplined militia will soon become warlike, and such a people more fitted for action than debate, always hasten to a conclusion on the subject of grievances and public wrongs, and bring their deliberations to the shortest issue. With them “it is the work of but one day, to examine and resolve the nice question, concerning the behaviour of subjects towards a ruler who abuses his power”.


Artful dissemblings and plausible pretences are always adopted in order to introduce regular troops. Dyonysius became the tyrant of Syracuse, the most opulent of all the Grecian cities, by feigning a solicitude for the people and a fear of his own person. He humbly prayed only a guard for his protection: they easily granted, what he readily took—the power of plundering by military force and entailing his sovereignty by a devise of his sword. Agathocles, a successor to the Dyonysian family and to the command of the army, continued the military tyranny, and butchered the enslaved people by centuries.

Cardinal Ximenes, who made the first innovation of this kind in Spain, disguised the measure under the pious and popular appearance of resisting the progress of the Infidels. The Nobles saw his views and excited opposition in the chief towns of the [43] kingdom. But by dexterously using terror and intreaty, force and forbearance, the refractory cities were brought to compliance. The nobles thus, driven to desperate resolutions by the Cardinal’s military movements, at a personal interview were warm and intemperate. When the Arch-prelate insensibly led them towards a balcony from which they had a view of a large body of troops under arms, and a formidable train of artillery, “Behold, says he, pointing to these and raising his voice, the powers which I have received from his Catholick majesty.” “With these I govern Castile and with these I will govern it”. Nobles and people discovered it was now too late for resistance:—to regret past folly and dread future calamities was the remaining fate of the wretched Castilians. After the Romans quitted the island of Britain, the first appearance of a standing army was under Richard the second. Thesuppression of his enemies in Ireland calling him out of England, his subjects, seized the opportunity and dethroned him.


Henry the 7th, a character odious for rapacity and fraud, was the first King of England who obtained a permanent military band in that kingdom. It was only a band of fifty archers:—with the harmless appellation of Yeomen of the guards. This apparently trivial institution was a precedent for the greatest political evil that ever infested the inhabitants of Britain. The ostensible pretext was the dignity of government—“the grandeur of majesty”:—


the alteration of the constitution and an increase of power was the aim of the prince. An early “oppugnation of the King’s authority”, tho’ no doubt his favorite subalterns would have stiled it “ILL TIMED”, had easily effected that disbanding of the new-raised forces, which being a little while delayed, no subsequent struggles have accomplished. The wisdom of resistance at the beginning has been repeatedly inculcated by the wise and liberal-minded of all nations, and the experience of every age hath confirmed their instruction. But no Precept or example can make the bulk of mankind wise for themselves. Tho’ cautioned (as we have seen) against the projects of Caesar, the smiles of his benignity deceived the Roman Common-wealth, till the increase of his power bid defiance to opposition. Celebrated for his generosity and magnificence, his complacency and compassion, the complaisant courtier made his way into the hearts of his countrymen. They would not believe, tho’ admonished by the best of men and first of patriots, that the smiling Caesar would filch away their liberties, that a native—born and bred a Roman—would enslave his country—the land of his fathers—the land of his birth—the land of his posterity.


But the ambitious Caesar aiming at authority, and [45] Caesar armed and intoxicated with power, appear in very different characters. He who appeared with the mildness of a fine gentleman, in his primaeval state, in an advanced station conducted with the sterness of a tyrant. Opposed by a tribune of the people in taking money out of the public treasury against the laws, Caesar WITH AN ARMY AT HIS HEELS, proclaimed “arms and laws do not flourish together.” “If you are not pleased, (added the usurper) with what I am about, you have nothing to do but to withdraw. Indeed war will not bear much liberty of speech. When I say this I am departing from my own right. For you and all I have found exciting a spirit of faction against me are ay my disposal.” Saying this, he approached the doors of the treasury, as the keys were notproduced, he sent his work-men to break them open.


This is the complaisant Caesar—renowned for his amiable qualities: by his early address he deceived and by his arts inslaved his countrymen—and prepared the way for a succeeding Nero to spoil and slaughter them.—Singular and very remarkable have been the interpositions of Providence in fa- [46] vour of New-England:—the permission of an early carnage in our streets, peradventure, was to awaken us from the danger;—of being politely beguiled into security and fraudfully drawn into bondage:—a state that sooner or later ends in rapine and blood.—Shall we be too enthusiastick, if we attribute to the Divine influence, that unexpected good which hath so often in our day been brought out of premeditated evil? Few, comparatively, of the many mischiefs aimed against us, but what have terminated in some advantage, or are now verging to some happy issue.—If the dexterity of veteran troops have not excited envy, if their outrage hath not provoked revenge, their military discipline hath set a well-timed example, and their savage fury been a well-improved incentive. The lusts of an enemy may touch a sensibility of mind and his very pride pique the virtue of the heart.


Fleets which appeared formidable, and armies which threatened destruction have either vapoured away with empty parade, or executed their mischievous designs with rashness and folly. To compensate the insult and repair the injury, Providence hath caused these armaments to scatter much wealth and diffuse abroad a martial passion:—a passion, which hath proved so contagious, that our MILITIA are advanced a century, at least, in discipline and improvements. Where are the people who can compose a militia of better men, more expert in the use of arms, and the conduct of the field, than we can now call forth into action? A militia who a few years ago, knew near as much of the science of Algebra, as of the art military. [47] Thus hostile invasions have roused among us the GENIUS of War.—that Genius, which under GOD, will conduct us with safety and honour—with triumph and glory.


Surely we may say of our adversaries;—in the net, which they hid, is their own foot taken, and they are snared in the wickedness of their own hands.—Our enemies the last ten years, have been employed to weave a spiders web and hatch the eggs of a Cocatrice:—consuming their own bowels by what they have weaved; and destroyed by what they have brought forth.—Thus Goliath is killed with his own sword, Haman hanged upon his own gallows.


Marvellous were thedoings of GOD in the eyes of our fathers;—nor less astonishing are his works in the days of their progeny.


Charles the 2d. told his Parliament, their “jealousy, that the forces he had rais’d were designed to controul law and property, was weak and frivolous.


The cajolement took for a season, [48] but his subjects having been abused by repeated violations of his most solemn vows, at last rouzed from their lethargy; and the King began to dread the severity of their vengeance. He therefore kept up a standing army, not only against law, but the repeated resolutions of every Parliament of his reign. He found that corruption without force could not confirm him a tyrant, and therefore cherished and augmented his troops to the destruction of his people and the terror of his senators. “There go our masters”


was a common saying among the members of Parliament. “No law can restrain these people; houses are taken from us, our lives are in danger” (said one member of Parliament.)


“Without betraying our trust, (said Russel) we must vote these standing forces a grievance. There are designs, about the King, to ruin religion and property. Public business is the least of their concern. A few upstart people, making hay while the sun shines, set up an army to establish their interest: I would have care taken for the future, that no army be raised for a cabal-interest. A Gentleman said the last session, that this war was made rather for the army, than the army for the war. This government, with a standing army, can NEVER BE SAFE: We cannot be secure in this house; and some of us may have our heads taken off.”


Patriots harrangued in vain—the Commons voted the Keeping up the army illegal and a grievance—but while they thus did, they openly betrayed a dread of that army. “I would not give an [49] alarm to those who have arms in their hands” said one member; “I cannot but observe that the House of Commons is now in fear of the army”, said another.


Plain as it was for what end the army was kept up, the people slumbered.


The exigencies of the times called for something more than votes and paper-resolutions. What was the consequence of this national cowardice and inactivity? “England saw herself engaged in the expence of 600,000 Pounds sterling, to pay an army and fleet, which certainly (says Rapin) had not been prepared TO make war with France OR FOR THE SECURITY OF ENGLAND”


—Spirited resolves may please the ear; senatorial eloquence may charm the eye, but these are not the weapons with which to combat standing armies: (thesewas not those,) which freed this Capital from stationed regiments;—they are not those, which will ultimately—But I forbear: time will unfold, what I may not foretell.


The British Court, never destitute of plausibilities to deceive, or inventions to enthrall the nation, appropriated monies, raised by Parliament for the purpose of disbanding the army, to their countenance, and uniformly pursued similar measures, till in the year 1684, “the King in order to make his people sensible of their new slavery, affected to muster his troops, which amounted to 4000 well-armed and disciplined.”


If Rapin denominated so small an armament, the slavery of the subject under Charles the 2d:—what would he call the state of Britons under George the third? With 4000 troops the kingdom it seems was reduced to servitude: but the spirit of the nation soon after [50] rose. In 1685 complaint was made in Parliament, “that the country was weary of the oppression, and plunder of the soldiers”; “the army (it was said) debauched the manners of all the people, their wives, daughters and servants.”


The grievance became intolerable—and what was happy, it was not too mighty for opposition. James the second, had only 14, or 15,000 troops,—and no riot act. The barbarities of a Kirk, and the campaign of a Jefferies, could not pass with impunity. THE REVOLUTION succeeded and James abdicated his throne.—Such was the fate of one, who vainly affected to play the despot with about fifteen regiments: had he been encircled with an hundred, no doubt, he had reigned an applauded tyrant—flattered in his day, with that lying appellation—“the wisest and the best of Kings.



The army of the present king of great Britain is larger than that with which Alexander sub- [51] dued the East, or Caesar conquered Gaul. “If the army, we now keep up (said Sr. John Phillips 30 Years ago, in the House of Commons) should once be as much attached to the Crown as Julius Caesar’s army was to him, I should be glad to know where we could find a force superior to that army.”


Is there no such attachment now existing?


Surely the liberties of England, if not held at will, are holden by a very precarious tenure.


The supreme power is ever possessed by those who have arms in their hands and are disciplined to the use of them. When the Archives conscious of a good title disputed with Lysander about boundaries, the Lacedemonian shewed his sword, and vauntingly cried out, “he that is master of this can best plead about boundaries.”


The Marmotines of Messina declined appearance at the tribunalof Pompey, to acknowledge his jurisdiction, alledging in excuse, ancient priviledges, granted them by the Romans—“Will you never have done (exclaimed Pompey) with citing laws and priviledges to men who wear swords.


What boundaries will they set to their passions, who have no limits to their power? Unlimited oppression and wantoness are the never-failing attendants of un- [52] bounded authority. Such power a veteran army always acquire, and being able to riot in mischief with impunity, they always do it with licentiousness.


Regular soldiers, embodied for the purpose of originating oppression or extending dominion, ever compass the controul of the Magistrate. The same force which preserves a despotism immutable, may change the despot every day. Power is soon felt by those who possess it, and they who can command will never servilely obey. The leaders of the army, having become masters of the person of their Sovereign, degrade or exalt him at will.


Obvious as these truths may seem, and confirmed as they are by all history, yet a weak or wicked Prince is easily perswaded, by the creatures who surround him to act the tyrant. A character so odious to subjects, must necessarily be timid and jealous. Afraid of the wise and good, he must support his dignity by the assistance of the worthless and wicked. Standing armies are therefore raised by the infatuated Prince. No sooner established, than the defenceless multitude are their first prey. Mere power is wanton and cruel: the army grow licentious and the people grow desperate. Dreadful alternative to the infatuated monarch! In constant jeopardy of losing the regalia of empire, till the caprice of an armed Banditti degrade him[53] from sovereignty, or the enraged people wreak an indiscriminate and righteous vengeance. Alas! when will Kings learn wisdom, and mighty men have understanding?


A further review of the progress of armies in our parent-state will be a usefull, tho’ not a pleasant employ. No particular reason or occasion was so much as suggested in the bill which passed the Parliament in 1717, for keeping on foot a standing army of 30,000 men in time of peace: (a number since amazingly encreased.) An act justly recorded in the Lord’s Journal to be a precedent for keeping the same army at all times, and which the protest of that day foretold “MUST INEVITABLY subvert the antient constitution of the realm, and subject the subjects to arbitrary power.


To borrow the pointed turn of a modern orator—what was once prophecy, is now history.


The powers given by the mutiny act which is now constantly passed everyyear was repeatedly in former times “opposed and condemned by Parliament as repugnant to MAGNA-CHARTA, and inconsistent with the fundamental rights and liberties of the people.”


In this statute no provision is made for securing the obedience of the military to the civil power, on which the preservation of our constitution depends. A great number of armed men gover- [54] ned by martial law, having it in their power, are naturally inclined not only to disobey, but to insult the civil Magistrate:


The experience of what hath happened in England, as well as the memorials of all ages and nations have made it sufficiently apparent, that wherever an effectual provision is not made to secure the obedience of soldiers to the laws of their country, the military hath constantly subverted and swallowed up the civil power.—What provision of this mind can the several Continental legislatures make against British troops stationed in the Colonies? Nay, if the virtue of one branch of government attempted the salutary measure, would the first branch ever give it’s consent? A Governor must—he will obey his master: the alternative is obvious. The armies quartered among us must be removed, or they will in the end overturn and trample on all that we ought to hold valuable and sacred.


We have authority, to affirm, that the regular forces of Great Britain consist of a greater number than are necessary for the guard of the King’s person and the defence of government, and therefore dangerous to the constitution of the kingdom.


What then do these armaments, when established here, threaten to our laws and liberties? Well might the illustrious members of the house of Peers, in 1722, hold forth the danger of “a total alteration of the frame of our constitution from a legal and limited monarchy to a despotick” [55] and declare, they were “induced to be of this judgment, as well from the nature of armies, and the inconsistency of great military power and martial law with civil authority, as from the known and universal experience of other countries in Europe, which, by the influence and power of standing armies, in time of peace, have from limited monarchies, like ours, been changed into absolute.


The taxes necessary to maintain a standing army, drain and impoverish the land. Thus exhausted by tribute, the people gradually become spiritless, and fall an early sacrifice to the reigning power.


Spirits, like Britons, naturally fierce and independent are not easily awed or suddenly vanquished by the sword. Hence an augmentation of forces hath been pushed, when there was no design of bringing them into action againstEnglishmen in an open field. New forces have oftener than once been raised in England more for civil than military service; and as elections for a new parliament have approached, this door has been opened to introduce a large body of commissioned Pensioners.


What hath been the consequence? A constant majority of placemen meeting under the name of a Parliament, to establish grievances instead of redressing them—to approve implicitly the measures of a court without information—to support and screen ministers they ought to controul or punish—to grant money without right and expend it without discretion? Have these been the baneful consequences? Are these solemn truths? Alas! we tremble to think:—but we may venture to say, that when this is true of that legislative autho [56] rity, which not only claims, (but exercises) “full power and authority to make laws and statutes to bind the colonies and people of America IN ALL CASES whatsoever”;


—the FORMS of our constitution, creating a fatal delusion, will become our greatest grievance.


The FORMALITIES of a free and the ends of a despotic state have often subsisted together. Thus deceived was the Republick of Rome:—Officers and Magistrates retained their old names:—the FORMS of the antient government being kept up, the fundamental laws of the Common-wealth were violated with impunity, and it’s once free constitution utterly annihilated.


He who gave Augustus Caesar the advice “that to the officers of state the same names, pomp and ornaments, should be continued, with all the appearances of authority, without the power, discovered an intimate acquaintance with mankind. The advice was followed, and Caesar soon became Senate, magistracy and laws. Is not Britain to America, what Caesar was to Rome?


It is curious to observe the various acts of imposition, which are alternately practiced by the [57] great and subtle of this world on their subordinate and simple-minded brethren. Are a people free, new oppressions are introduced or shrouded under old names;—are they in present bondage, and begin to grow turbulent; new appellations must be adopted to disguise old burthens. A notable instance of this latter kind we find in the Parliament of Great Britain, (in 36 Edw: 3.ch:2) upwards of four hundred years ago. The royal prerogative, called purveyance, having been in vain regulated by many preceeding statutes, still continued so intolerably greivous, that fresh murmurs and complaints called for a more adequate or better adapted provision. The British legislature, for this valuable purpose, therefore passed this very remarkable law; which by way ofremedy, enacted as follows, viz.—“That the hateful NAME of purveyor, shall be changed into that of Acator.” Thus the nation were to be made to believe, that the oppression ceased, because, the name was altered.—For the honour of government, as well as mankind, it is devoutly to be wished, that our laws and history contained no other record of such disgracefull practices.—If any late acts of the British parliament carry strong marks of a similar policy, it is surely, not altogether unworthy the consideration of the members of that august body;—how far, such disingenuous practices are consistant with the honour of their private characters, or the dignity of their public station.


The magic of sounds and appellations hath not ceased, and they work as much deception and abuse as ever. What valuable purpose does a wholly subordinate legislative serve, (except to amuse with the shadow, while the substance is departed) if [58] a remote state may legislate for and bind us “in all cases”? To what end doth an American house of Representatives go through the forms of granting away monies, if another power, full as familiar with our pockets, may annihilate all they do; and afterwards, with a modern dexterity, take possession of our purses without ceremony, and dispose of the contents with modesty;—without controul, and without account?


It is curious and instructive to attend the course of debate in the British Commons for keeping up the army. At first even the highest courtiers would argue—that a standing army, in time of peace, was never attempted;


Soon after the Court-speakers urged for continuance of a numerous army for one year longer. At the end of several years after, the Gentlemen throw aside the mask, and boldly declare such a number of troops must always be kept up. In short, the army must be continued till it be- [59] comes part of the constitution, and in later times members of the house have ventured to harangue for measures, none would have dared to lisp a few years before. The wise foresaw this, and the honest foretold it. “If we continue the army but a little while longer (said a celebrated member upwards of forty years ago,) it may be in the power of some Gentlemen to talk in this house in terms that will be no way agreable to the constitution or liberties of our country. To tell us, that the same number of forces must be always kept up, is a proposition full-fraught with innumerable evils, and more particularly with this, that it may make wicked ministers more audacious than otherwise they would be in projecting and propagating schemes which may be inconsistent with the liberties, destructive of the trade, and burthensomeon the people of this nation. In countries governed by standing armies, the inclinations of the people are but little minded, the ministers place their security in the army, the humours of the army they only consult, with them they divide the spoils, and the wretched people are plundered by both.”—Who that now reconsiders this prophetic language, in conjunction with the events of his own time, but will cry out—the speaker felt the impulse of inspiration!”


“Whoever (says the justly celebrated Dr. Blackstone) will attentively consider the English history may observe, that the stagnant abuse of any power, by the crown or it’s ministers, has always been productive of a struggle, which either dis- [60] covers the exercise of that power to be contrary to law, or (if legal) restrains it for the future.”


The ingenious commentator seems here to have particular reference to periods prior to the revolution. But will the learned judge say, that, since that era there have been no flagrant abuses of power by the crown or its ministers? Have not repeated struggles arose in consequence of such abuses, which did not terminate in the happy issue so characteristic of Englishmen? Let any one peruse the journals of parliament, especially those of the house of peers: let him carefully review the British and American annals, of the present century, and answer truly to those questions.—The natural enquiry will be—whence then is it—that such abuses have become so numerous and flagrant, and the struggles of Britons so unsuccessful? Will not the question receive an ample solution in the words of the same great lawyer?—“There is a newly acquired branch of (royal) power; and that not the influence only, but THE FORCE OF A DISCIPLINED ARMY, paid indeed ultimately by the people, but immediately by the crown; raised by the crown, officered by the crown, commanded by the crown.


We are told, by the same learned author, that “whenever the unconstitutional oppresssions, even of the SOVEREIGN POWER, advance with gigantic strides and threaten desolation to a state, mankind will not be reasoned out of the feelings of humanity, nor will sacrifice their liberty by a scrupulous adherence to those political maxims, [61] which were established to preserve it.”


—But those who cannot be reasoned out of their feelings, are easily repressed by the terror of arms from giving tokens of their sensibility; and states antient and modern—(yes Britain will bear me witness!)—who would disdain to sacrifice their freedom to political institutions have tremblingly stood alooff, while it was dragged to the altar under the banners of a royal army.


The policy and refinements of men cloathed with authority often deceive those who are subject to it’s controul; and thus a people are often induced to waive their rights, and relinquish the barriers of their safety. The fraud, however, must at last be discovered, and the nation will resume their antient liberties, if there be no force sufficient to screen the usurper and defend his domination. The sword alone is sufficient to subdue that spirit which compells rulers to their duty, and tyrants to their senses. Hence, then, though a numerous standing army may not be absolutely requisite to depress a kingdom into servitude, they are indispensably necessary to confirm an usurpation.

A large army and revenue are not easily and at once forced upon a free people. By slow degrees and plausible pretences, as we have seen in England, the end is accomplished. But when once a numerous body of revenue and military men, entirely dependant on the crown, are incorporated, they are regardless of any thing, but it’s will: and where that will centers and what such power can effect is a matter of no doubtfull disputation. [62]


The present army of a prince is always composed of men of honour, and integrity, as the reigning monarch is ever the best of kings. In such an army, it is said, you may trust your liberties with safety: in such a king you may put your confidence without reserve:—the good man has not a wish beyond the happiness of his subjects! Yet let it be remembered, that under the best of kings, we ought to seize the fleeting opportunity, and provide against the worst. But admitting that from this rare character—a wise and good monarch—a nation have nothing to fear;—yet they have every thing to dread from those who would cloath him with authority, and invest him with powers incompatible with all political freedom and social security.


France, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden, in modern times, have felt the baneful effects of this fatal policy. Tho’ the latter state are said to have this excellent institution; that the commissions to their military officers all run quamdiu se bene gesserit: a regulation which ought to be the tenure of all offices of publick trust and may be of singular utility in states which have incorporated a standing army as part of the constitution of government.


An invasion and conquest by mere strangers and foreigners are neither so formidable or disgraceful as the establishment of a standing army under co- [63] lour of the municipal law of the land. Thus Roman armies were more terrible to the Roman colonies, than an “enemy’s army.”


Valor has scope foraction against an open enemy, but the most precious liberties of a kingdom are massacred in cold blood by the disciplined Janizaries of the state, and there is little hope of a general resistance. The natural inherent right of the conquered is to throw off the yoke, as soon as they are able; but subjects enslaved by the military forces of their own sovereign, become spiritless and despondent; and scaffolds and axes, the gibbet and the halter, too often terrify them from those noble exertions which would end in their deliverance by a glorious victory or an illustrious death.


Yet in full peace without any just apprehensions of insurrections at home or invasions from abroad, it was the mischievous policy of the English ministry, in 1717, to procure an allowance of near double the forces to what had ever before been established by the sanction of parliament in times of public tranquillity. Well might many of the nobility of Britain conceive, that as so many forces were no ways necessary to support, they had reason to fear danger to the constitution, which way never entirely subverted but by a standing army.


The English military bands have since been much augmented;—and whether this disgraceful subversion has already taken place, or is still verging to it’s accomplishment, may be resolved, after a further inspection into memorials of the present age. [64]


More than half a century since, the discerning members of the house of Lords discovered the tendency of these extraordinary armaments to be no other, than to overthrow the civil power of the kingdom, and to turn it into a military government.


A very short period after this, many of the same noble house, bore open testimony, that they were “justly jealous from the experience of former times, that the crown itself, as well as the liberties of the people might be found at the disposal of a standing army at home.


But as if one standing army was not enough to ruin a nation of Englishmen, a new kind of forces was raised against the Common-wealth. The officers employed in the customs, excise, in other branches of the revenue, and other parts of the public service compose in effect A SECOND STANDING ARMY in England, and in some respects are more dangerous, than that body of men properly so called. The influence which this order have in the elections of members to serve in parliament, hath been too often felt in Great Britain to be denied. And we have good authority to say, “that examples are not hard to find, where the military forces have withdrawn to create an appearance ofa free election, and the standing CIVIL forces of this kind have been sent to take that freedom away.


—Is a house of commons thus chosen the representative of the people,—or of the administration,—or of a single minister?


As Lewis, the 11th of France, was the first monarch in Europe, who reduced corruption to a system, so the era of it’s establishment in England may be fixed at the reign of Charles the second. Britain, then for the first time, saw CORRUPTION, like a destroying angel, walking at noonday.—Charles pensioned his Parliament, and by it extinguished not only the spirit of freedom, but the sentiments of honour and the feelings of shame. Since the age of Charles, the science of bribery and corruption hath made amazing progress. Patriots of the last century told their countrymen what it threatned—the Worthies of this day ought rather to tell what hath been effected.


Nearly fifty years ago, there were more than two hundred persons holding offices or employments under the crown in the house of commons.


Since that time this body like the military (and for the same purposes) have received very notable additions.—Is it to be wondered, then, as we verge nearer to our own times, we should hear the most august assembly in the kingdom declaring to the whole world that “the influence of the crown is almost irresistable, being already overgrown and yet increasing.


—that “the most valuable rights of the nation are subverted by arbitrary and illegal proceedings:—“


that “a flagrant usurpation” (is made upon the subject) as highly repugnant to every principle of the constitution, AS THE CLAIM OF SHIP-MONEY BY KING CHARLES THE FIRST, or that of the dispensing power [66] by king James the second”?


Finally, considering all that we have seen in the course of our review, could any thing else be expected, than what forty of the house of Lords openly protest they “have seen with great uneasiness,—a plan for a long time SYSTEMATICALLY carried on, FOR LOWERING ALL THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS OF THE KINGDOM, rendering the house of Commons “odious and the house of Peers contemptible”?


Here let us pause (my fellow citizens) and consider:—hath the execrable plan thus systematically and for a long time pursued, at last, taken effect? Are all the constitutional powers of Great Britain so lowered in the estimation of the people, that their representatives are detested, and their nobility despised? Is their King possessed of power sufficient to make fear, a substitute for love? Has he an army at his absolute command, with which no force in his empire is able tocope?—judge ye, my countrymen, of these questions, upon which I may not decide:


—judge, for yourselves, of the political state of that kingdom, which claims a right of disposing of OUR ALL;—a right of laying every burden that power can impose;


—a right of over-running our soil and freeholds with mercenary legions, and still more mercenary placemen and dependants. Thus luxury and riot, debauchery and havock are [67] to become the order and peace of our cities, and the stability and honour of our times. To this and like hopeful purposes—we find “the fullest directions sent to the several officers of the revenue, that all the produce of the American duties, arising or to arise, by virtue of any British act of Parliament, should from time to time, be paid to the deputy pay-master in America to defrey the subsistence of the troops, and any military expences incurred in the Colonies.”


Highly favoured Americans! You are to be wasted with taxes and impositions in order to satisfy the charges of those armaments which are to blast your country with the most terrible of all evils—universal corruption, and a military government.