Since the publication of the first edition of this pamphlet,
or rather, on the same day on which it came out, the King's Speech
made its appearance in this city. Had the spirit of prophecy directed
the birth of this production, it could not have brought it forth,
at a more seasonable juncture, or a more necessary time.
The bloody mindedness of the one, shew the necessity of pursuing
the doctrine of the other. Men read by way of revenge.
And the Speech, instead of terrifying, prepared a way
for the manly principles of Independance.
Ceremony, and even, silence, from whatever motive they
may arise, have a hurtful tendency, when they give the least
degree of countenance to base and wicked performances;
wherefore, if this maxim be admitted, it naturally follows,
that the King's Speech, as being a piece of finished villany,
deserved, and still deserves, a general execration both by the
Congress and the people. Yet, as the domestic tranquillity of
a nation, depends greatly, on the chastity of what may properly
be called national manners, it is often better, to pass
some things over in silent disdain, than to make use of such
new methods of dislike, as might introduce the least innovation,
on that guardian of our peace and safety. And, perhaps,
it is chiefly owing to this prudent delicacy, that the King's
Speech, hath not, before now, suffered a public execution.
The Speech if it may be called one, is nothing better than
a wilful audacious libel against the truth, the common good,
and the existence of mankind; and is a formal and pompous
method of offering up human sacrifices to the pride of tyrants.
But this general massacre of mankind. is one of the privileges,
and the certain consequence of Kings; for as nature knows them not,
they know not her, and although they are beings of our own creating,
they know not us, and are become the gods of their creators.
The Speech hath one good quality, which is, that it is not calculated
to deceive, neither can we, even if we would, be deceived by it.
Brutality and tyranny appear on the face of it. It leaves us at no loss:
And every line convinces, even in the moment of reading, that He,
who hunts the woods for prey, the naked and untutored Indian,
is less a Savage than the King of Britain.
Sir John Dalrymple, the putative father of a whining jesuitical piece,
fallaciously called, “the address of the people of England
to the inhabitants of America,” hath, perhaps, from a vain supposition,
that the people here were to be frightened at the pomp and description
of a king, given, (though very unwisely on his part) the real character
of the present one: "But" says this writer, "if you are inclined to pay
compliments to an administration, which we do not complain of,"
(meaning the Marquis of Rockingham's at the repeal of the Stamp Act)
"it is very unfair in you to withhold them from that prince
by whose nod alone they were permitted to do any thing."
This is toryism with a witness! Here is idolatry even without a mask:
And he who can calmly hear, and digest such doctrine,
hath forfeited his claim to rationality an apostate
from the order of manhood; and ought to be considered as one,
who hath not only given up the proper dignity of man,
but sunk himself beneath the rank of animals,
and contemptibly crawl through the world like a worm.
However, it matters very little now, what the king of England
either says or does; he hath wickedly broken through every
moral and human obligation, trampled nature and conscience
beneath his feet; and by a steady and constitutional spirit
of insolence and cruelty, procured for himself an universal
hatred. It is now the interest of America to provide for herself.
She hath already a large and young family, whom it is more her
duty to take care of, than to be granting away her property,
to support a power who is become a reproach to the names
of men and christians--ye, whose office it is to watch over
the morals of a nation, of whatsoever sect or denomination
ye are of, as well as ye, who, are more immediately the guardians
of the public liberty, if ye wish to preserve your native country
uncontaminated by European corruption, ye must in secret wish
a separation--But leaving the moral part to private reflection,
I shall chiefly confine my farther remarks to the following heads.
First. That it is the interest of America to be separated from Britain.
Secondly. Which is the easiest and most practicable plan,
reconciliation or independance? With some occasional remarks.
In support of the first, I could, if I judged it proper,
produce the opinion of some of the ablest and most experienced men
on this continent; and whose sentiments, on that head, are not yet
publicly known. It is in reality a self-evident position:
For no nation in a state of foreign dependance, limited in its commerce,
and cramped and fettered in its legislative powers, can ever arrive
at any material eminence. America doth not yet know what opulence is;
and although the progress which she hath made stands unparalleled
in the history of other nations, it is but childhood,
compared with what she would be capable of arriving at,
had she, as she ought to have, the legislative powers in her own hands.
England is, at this time, proudly coveting what would do her no good,
were she to accomplish it; and the Continent hesitating on a matter,
which will be her final ruin if neglected. It is the commerce
and not the conquest of America, by which England is to he benefited,
and that would in a great measure continue, were the countries
as independant of each other as France and Spain; because in many articles,
neither can go to a better market. But it is the independance of this country
on Britain or any other, which is now the main and only object worthy
of contention, and which, like all other truths discovered by necessity,
will appear clearer and stronger every day.
First. Because it will come to that one time or other.
Secondly. Because, the longer it is delayed the harder
it will be to accomplish.
I have frequently amused myself both in public and private
companies, with silently remarking, the specious errors
of those who speak without reflecting. And among the many
which I have heard, the following seems the most general, viz.
that had this rupture happened forty or fifty years hence,
instead of now, the Continent would have been more able
to have shaken off the dependance. To which I reply, that our
military ability, at this time, arises from the experience
gained in the last war, and which in forty or fifty years time,
would have been totally extinct. The Continent, would not,
by that time, have had a General, or even a military officer left;
and we, or those who may succeed us, would have been as ignorant
of martial matters as the ancient Indians: And this single position,
closely attended to, will unanswerably prove, that the present time
is preferable to all others. The argument turns thus--at the conclusion
of the last war, we had experience, but wanted numbers;
and forty or fifty years hence, we should have numbers,
without experience; wherefore, the proper point of time,
must be some particular point between the two extremes,
in which a sufficiency of the former remains, and a proper
increase of the latter is obtained: And that point of time
is the present time.
The reader will pardon this digression, as it does not properly
come under the head I first set out with, and to which I again return
by the following position, viz.
Should affairs he patched up with Britain, and she to remain the governing
and sovereign power of America, (which, as matters are now circumstanced,
is giving up the point entirely) we shall deprive ourselves of the very means
of sinking the debt we have, or may contract. The value of the back lands
which some of the provinces are clandestinely deprived of, by the unjust
extension of the limits of Canada, valued only at five pounds sterling
per hundred acres, amount to upwards of twenty-five millions,
Pennsylvania currency; and the quit-rents at one penny sterling per acre,
to two millions yearly.
It is by the sale of those lands that the debt may be sunk,
without burthen to any, and the quit-rent reserved thereon,
will always lessen, and in time, will wholly support the yearly
expence of government. It matters not how long the debt is in
paying, so that the lands when sold be applied to the discharge
of it, and for the execution of which, the Congress for the time
being, will be the continental trustees. .
I proceed now to the second head, viz. Which is the easiest
and most practicable plan, reconciliation or independance;
With some occasional remarks.
He who takes nature for his guide is not easily beaten out of his argument,
and on that ground, I answer Generally--that independance
being a single simple line, contained within ourselves;
and reconciliation, a matter exceedingly perplexed and complicated,
and in which, a treacherous capricious court is to interfere,
gives the answer without a doubt.
The present state of America is truly alarming to every man who is
capable of reflexion. Without law, without government, without any
other mode of power than what is founded on, and granted by courtesy.
Held together by an unexampled concurrence of sentiment, which,
is nevertheless subject to change, and which, every secret enemy is
endeavouring to dissolve. Our present condition, is, Legislation
without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name;
and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect Independance contending
for dependance. The instance is without a precedent; the case never
existed before; and who can tell what may be the event? The property
of no man is secure in the present unbraced system of things. The mind
of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before
them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion starts. Nothing is criminal;
there is no such thing as treason; wherefore, every one thinks himself
at liberty to act as he pleases. The Tories dared not have assembled
offensively, had they known that their lives, by that act, were forfeited
to the laws of the state. A line of distinction should be drawn, between,
English soldiers taken in battle, and inhabitants of America taken in arms.
The first are prisoners, but the latter traitors.
The one forfeits his liberty, the other his head.
Notwithstanding our wisdom, there is a visible feebleness in some
of our proceedings which gives encouragement to dissensions.
The Continental Belt is too loosely buckled. And if something
is not done in time, it will be too late to do any thing,
and we shall fall into a state, in which, neither reconciliation
nor independance will be practicable. The king and his worthless
adherents are got at their old game of dividing the Continent,
and there are not wanting among us, Printers, who will be busy
in spreading specious falsehoods. The artful and hypocritical letter
which appeared a few months ago in two of the New York papers,
and likewise in two others, is an evidence that there are men
who want either judgment or honesty.
It is easy getting into holes and corners and talking of reconciliation:
But do such men seriously consider, how difficult the task is, and how
dangerous it may prove, should the Continent divide thereon. Do they
take within their view, all the various orders of men whose situation
and circumstances, as well as their own, are to be considered therein.
Do they put themselves in the place of the sufferer whose all
is already gone, and of the soldier, who hath quitted all for the defence
of his country. If their ill judged moderation be suited to their own
private situations only, regardless of others, the event will convince them,
that "they are reckoning without their Host."
Put us, says some, on the footing we were on in sixty-three:
To which I answer, the request is not now in the power of Britain
to comply with, neither will she propose it; but if it were,
and even should be granted, I ask, as a reasonable question,
By what means is such a corrupt and faithless court to be kept
to its engagements? Another parliament, nay, even the present,
may hereafter repeal the obligation, on the pretense,
of its being violently obtained, or unwisely granted;
and in that case, Where is our redress?--No going to law
with nations; cannon are the barristers of Crowns;
and the sword, not of justice, but of war, decides the suit.
To be on the footing of sixty-three, it is not sufficient,
that the laws only be put on the same state, but, that our circumstances,
likewise, be put on the same state; Our burnt and destroyed towns repaired
or built up, our private losses made good, our public debts
(contracted for defence) discharged; otherwise, we shall be millions
worse than we were at that enviable period. Such a request,
had it been complied with a year ago, would have won the heart
and soul of the Continent - but now it is too late, "The Rubicon is passed."
Besides, the taking up arms, merely to enforce the repeal
of a pecuniary law, seems as unwarrantable by the divine law,
and as repugnant to human feelings, as the taking up arms
to enforce obedience thereto. The object, on either side, doth not
justify the means; for the lives of men are too valuable
to be cast away on such trifles. It is the violence which is done
and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property
by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword,
which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms: And the instant, in which
such a mode of defence became necessary, all subjection to Britain ought
to have ceased; and the independancy of America, should have been considered,
as dating its aera from, and published by, the first musket that was fired
against her. This line is a line of consistency; neither drawn by caprice,
nor extended by ambition; but produced by a chain of events,
of which the colonies were not the authors.
I shall conclude these remarks with the following timely
and well intended hints. We ought to reflect, that there are
three different ways by which an independancy may hereafter
be effected; and that one of those three, will one day or other,
be the fate of America, viz. By the legal voice of the people
in Congress; by a military power; or by a mob--It may not always
happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude
a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked,
is not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independancy
be brought about by the first of those means, we have every
opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the
noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have
it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation,
similar to the present, hath not happened since the days
of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand,
and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains,
are to receive their portion of freedom from the event of a few months.
The Reflexion is awful--and in this point of view, How trifling,
how ridiculous, do the little, paltry cavillings, of a few weak
or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.
Should we neglect the present favourable and inviting period,
and an Independance be hereafter effected by any other means,
we must charge the consequence to ourselves, or to those rather,
whose narrow and prejudiced souls, are habitually opposing the measure,
without either inquiring or reflecting. There are reasons to be given
in support of Independance, which men should rather privately think of,
than be publicly told of. We ought not now to be debating whether
we shall be independant or not, but, anxious to accomplish it on a firm,
secure, and honorable basis, and uneasy rather that it is not yet began upon.
Every day convinces us of its necessity. Even the Tories (if such beings
yet remain among us) should, of all men, be the most solicitous to promote it;
for, as the appointment of committees at first, protected them from
popular rage, so, a wise and well established form of government,
will be the only certain means of continuing it securely to them.
wherefore, if they have not virtue enough to be whigs,
they ought to have prudence enough to wish for Independance.
In short, Independance is the only bond that can tye and keep
us together. We shall then see our object, and our ears will
be legally shut against the schemes of an intriguing, as well,
as a cruel enemy. We shall then too, be on a proper footing,
to treat with Britain; for there is reason to conclude,
that the pride of that court, will be less hurt by treating
with the American states for terms of peace, than with those,
whom she denominates, "rebellious subjects," for terms of accommodation.
It is our delaying it that encourages her to hope for conquest, and our
backwardness tends only to prolong the war. As we have, without any good
effect therefrom, withheld our trade to obtain a redress of our grievances,
let us now try the alternative, by independantly redressing them ourselves,
and then offering to open the trade. The mercantile and reasonable part
in England, will be still with us; because, peace with trade, is preferable
to war without it. And if this offer be not accepted, other courts
may be applied to.
On these grounds I rest the matter. And as no offer hath
yet been made to refute the doctrine contained in the former
editions of this pamphlet, it is a negative proof, that either
the doctrine cannot be refuted, or, that the party in favour
of it are too numerous to be opposed. Wherefore, instead
of gazing at each other with suspicious or doubtful curiosity;
let each of us, hold out to his neighbour the hearty hand of
friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of
oblivion shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissension.
Let the names of Whig and Tory be extinct; and let none other
be heard among us, than those of a good citizen,
an open and resolute friend, and a virtuous supporter
of the rights of mankind and of the free and independant states of America.
To the Representatives of the Religious Society of the People called Quakers,
or to so many of them as were concerned in publishing the late piece,
entitled "The ancient testimony and principles of the People called Quakers
renewed, with Respect to the king and government, and touching the commotions
now prevailing in these and other parts of America addressed to the
people in general."
The Writer of this, is one of those few, who never dishonours religion
either by ridiculing, or cavilling at any denomination whatsoever.
To God, and not to man, are all men accountable on the score of religion.
Wherefore, this epistle is not so properly addressed to you as a religious,
but as a political body, dabbling in matters, which the professed Quietude
of your Principles instruct you not to meddle with. As you have, without
a proper authority for so doing, put yourselves in the place of the whole body
of the Quakers, so, the writer of this, in order to be on an equal rank
with yourselves, is under the necessity, of putting himself in the place
of all those, who, approve the very writings and principles, against which,
your testimony is directed: And he hath chosen this singular situation,
in order, that you might discover in him that presumption of character
which you cannot see in yourselves. For neither he nor you can have any
claim or title to political representation.
When men have departed from the right way, it is no wonder that they
stumble and fall. And it is evident from the manner in which ye have
managed your testimony, that politics, (as a religious body of men)
is not your proper Walk; for however well adapted it might appear to you,
it is, nevertheless, a jumble of good and bad put unwisely together,
and the conclusion drawn therefrom, both unnatural and unjust.
The two first pages, (and the whole doth not make four) we give you
credit for, and expect the same civility from you, because the love
and desire of peace is not confined to Quakerism, it is the natural,
as well the religious wish of all denominations of men. And on this ground,
as men labouring to establish an Independant Constitution of our own, do we
exceed all others in our hope, end, and aim. our plan is peace for ever.
We are tired of contention with Britain, and can see no real end to it
but in a final separation. We act consistently, because for the sake
of introducing an endless and uninterrupted peace, do we bear the evils
and burthens of the present day. We are endeavoring, and will steadily
continue to endeavour, to separate and dissolve a connexion which hath
already filled our land with blood; and which, while the name of it
remains, will he the fatal cause of future mischiefs to both countries.
We fight neither for revenge nor conquest; neither from pride nor
passion; we are not insulting the world with our fleets and armies, nor
ravaging the globe for plunder. Beneath the shade of our own vines are
we attacked; in our own houses, and on our own lands, is the violence
committed against us. We view our enemies in the character of Highwaymen
and Housebreakers, and having no defence for ourselves in the civil law,
are obliged to punish them by the military one, and apply the sword,
in the very case, where you have before now, applied the halter--
Perhaps we feel for the ruined and insulted sufferers in all and every
part of the continent, with a degree of tenderness which hath not yet
made its way into some of your bosoms. But be ye sure that ye mistake not
the cause and ground of your Testimony. Call not coldness of soul, religion;
nor put the bigot in the place of the Christian.
O ye partial ministers of your own acknowledged principles. If the
bearing arms be sinful, the first going to war must be more so,
by all the difference between wilful attack, and unavoidable defence.
Wherefore, if ye really preach from conscience, and mean not to make
a political hobbyhorse of your religion convince the world thereof,
by proclaiming your doctrine to our enemies, for they likewise bear arms.
Give us proof of your sincerity by publishing it at St. James's,
to the commanders in chief at Boston, to the Admirals and Captains
who are piratically ravaging our coasts, and to all the murdering
miscreants who are acting in authority under him whom ye profess to serve.
Had ye the honest soul of Barclay ye would preach repentance to your king;
Ye would tell the Royal Wretch his sins, and warn him of eternal ruin.
["Thou hast tasted of prosperity and adversity; thou knowest what it is
to be banished thy native country, to be over-ruled as well as to rule,
and set upon the throne; and being oppressed thou hast reason to know
how hateful the oppressor is both to God and man: If after all these warnings
and advertisements, thou dost not turn unto the Lord with all thy heart,
but forget him who remembered thee in thy distress, and give up thyself
to fallow lust and vanity, surely great will be thy condemnation.--
Against which snare, as well as the temptation of those who may
or do feed thee, and prompt thee to evil, the most excellent and prevalent
remedy will be, to apply thyself to that light of Christ which shineth
in thy conscience, and which neither can, nor will flatter thee,
nor suffer thee to be at ease in thy sins."--Barclay's address to Charles II.]
Ye would not spend your partial invectives against the injured
and the insulted only, but, like faithful ministers, would cry aloud
and spare none. Say not that ye are persecuted, neither endeavour to make
us the authors of that reproach, which, ye are bringing upon yourselves;
for we testify unto all men, that we do not complain against you because
ye are Quakers, but because ye pretend to be and are not Quakers.
Alas! it seems by the particular tendency of some part of your testimony,
and other parts of your conduct, as if, all sin was reduced to,
and comprehended in, the act of bearing arms, and that by the people only.
Ye appear to us, to have mistaken party for conscience; because,
the general tenor of your actions wants uniformity--And it is exceedingly
difficult to us to give credit to many of your pretended scruples;
because, we see them made by the same men, who, in the very instant
that they are exclaiming against the mammon of this world, are nevertheless,
hunting after it with a step as steady as Time, and an appetite as keen
The quotation which ye have made from Proverbs, in the third page
of your testimony, that, "when a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh
even his enemies to be at peace with him"; is very unwisely chosen
on your part; because, it amounts to a proof, that the king's ways
(whom ye are desirous of supporting) do not please the Lord, otherwise,
his reign would be in peace.
I now proceed to the latter part of your testimony, and that, for which
all the foregoing seems only an introduction viz.
"It hath ever been our judgment and principle, since we were called to
profess the light of Christ Jesus, manifested in our consciences unto
this day, that the setting up and putting down kings and governments,
is God's peculiar prerogative; for causes best known to himself:
And that it is not our business to have any hand or contrivance therein;
nor to be busy bodies above our station, much less to plot and contrive
the ruin, or overturn of any of them, but to pray for the king, and safety
of our nation. and good of all men - That we may live a peaceable and
quiet life, in all godliness and honesty; under the government which God
is pleased to set over us" - If these are really your principles why
do ye not abide by them? Why do ye not leave that, which ye call
God's Work, to be managed by himself? These very principles instruct
you to wait with patience and humility, for the event of all public measures,
and to receive that event as the divine will towards you. Wherefore,
what occasion is there for your political testimony if you fully believe
what it contains? And the very publishing it proves, that either,
ye do not believe what ye profess, or have not virtue enough to practise
what ye believe.
The principles of Quakerism have a direct tendency to make a man
the quiet and inoffensive subject of any, and every government
which is set over him. And if the setting up and putting down of kings
and governments is God's peculiar prerogative, he most certainly
will not be robbed thereof by us: wherefore, the principle itself leads
you to approve of every thing, which ever happened, or may happen to kings
as being his work. Oliver Cromwell thanks you. Charles, then, died not
by the hands of man; and should the present Proud Imitator of him,
come to the same untimely end, the writers and publishers of the Testimony,
are bound, by the doctrine it contains, to applaud the fact. Kings are not
taken away by miracles, neither are changes in governments brought about
by any other means than such as are common and human; and such as we are
now using. Even the dispersion of the Jews, though foretold by our Saviour,
was effected by arms. Wherefore, as ye refuse to be the means on one side,
ye ought not to be meddlers on the other; but to wait the issue in silence;
and unless ye can produce divine authority, to prove, that the Almighty
who hath created and placed this new world, at the greatest distance
it could possibly stand, east and west, from every part of the old,
doth, nevertheless, disapprove of its being independent of the corrupt
and abandoned court of Britain, unless I say, ye can shew this,
how can ye on the ground of your principles, justify the exciting
and stirring up the people "firmly to unite in the abhorrence
of all such writings, and measures, as evidence a desire and design
to break off the happy connexion we have hitherto enjoyed,
with the kingdom of Great-Britain, and our just and necessary subordination
to the king, and those who are lawfully placed in authority under him."
What a slap of the face is here! the men, who in the very paragraph before,
have quietly and passively resigned up the ordering, altering,
and disposal of kings and governments, into the hands of God, are now,
recalling their principles, and putting in for a share of the business.
Is it possible, that the conclusion, which is here justly quoted,
can any ways follow from the doctrine laid down? The inconsistency
is too glaring not to be seen; the absurdity too great not to be laughed at;
and such as could only have been made by those, whose understandings
were darkened by the narrow and crabby spirit of a despairing political party;
for ye are not to be considered as the whole body of the Quakers
but only as a factional and fractional part thereof.
Here ends the examination of your testimony; (which I call upon no man
to abhor, as ye have done, but only to read and judge of fairly;)
to which I subjoin the following remark; "That the setting up and putting
down of kings," most certainly mean, the making him a king, who is yet
not so, and the making him no king who is already one. And pray what hath
this to do in the present case? We neither mean to set up nor to pull down,
neither to make nor to unmake, but to have nothing to do with them.
Wherefore, your testimony in whatever light it is viewed serves only
to dishonor your judgement, and for many other reasons had better
have been let alone than published.
First, Because it tends to the decrease and reproach
of all religion whatever, and is of the utmost danger
to society to make it a party in political disputes.
Secondly, Because it exhibits a body of men, numbers of whom disavow
the publishing political testimonies, as being concerned therein
and approvers thereof.
Thirdly, because it hath a tendency to undo that continental harmony
and friendship which yourselves by your late liberal and charitable
donations hath lent a hand to establish; and the preservation of which,
is of the utmost consequence to us all.
And here without anger or resentment I bid you farewell.
Sincerely wishing, that as men and christians, ye may always
fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right;
and be, in your turn, the means of securing it to others;
but that the example which ye have unwisely set,
of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed
and reprobated by every inhabitant of America.