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like Curius, could reject the costly and royal bribes of the Samnites with a virtuous disdain? If they are to be bought; if they have not attained a perfection almost beyond the condition of human nature, they may make their own terms. No price will be denied that can be raised out of the future revenues of America.
Our danger is the greater, because all the parts of their demands are so inseparably linked together, that the minutest concession involves in it and draws after it all the train of evils, and innumerable others, against which we have complained and fought so long. Or if the voice of one or two Colonies should be bought from among the rest, it may throw us into endless distractions, and prolong and increase the horrors of the war, by nursing enemies in our own bosom, more formidable than those, we encounter from abroad.
Besides, what are we to expect from a negotiation? The single question in dispute is, whether we are subject to the British legislation, consisting of King and Parliament, or to the Legislatures of America, consisting of the Kings Representative, and the Parliaments or Assemblies of the different Colonies. If the English House of Representatives mean to relinquish their pretended rights, what is easier than to open the way to peace and harmony, in which we can meet them with confidence, by passing a single bill declaratory of our privileges? Such a bill they will make no difficulty to pass, if they mean to meet us upon sincere and equitable principles. If they make their approaches under any other pretext, they must be totally futile, and, according to the common policy of European Courts, only meant to deceive.
Are we likely to be any nearer an accommodation after they have repealed three of their obnoxious acts? The rest remain in force; and the principle, the iniquitous principle on which they are all founded, is still supposed to be true, and is kept up like a sluice, ready to pour in an inundation of oppressions whenever it shall be admitted on our side the water. Does it not kindle every honest mans indignation to sec the whole Continent insulted in the refusal of these acts, as much as or more than in their creation? I can scarcely suppress the expressions of the warmest resentment when I conceive them approaching my country with the falsest proposals of treaty, and at the same time insulting, with the utmost indignity, our supposed credulity or ignorance.
They have repealed the Boston Port Bill, it is said, and no doubt they will make a mighty merit of conceding so far for the sake of peace. A meritorious concession, indeed! to open the ports of a town to their half-starved soldiers, after they have expelled its native inhabitants, burnt its houses and stores, pillaged its wealth, blocked up the only passage by which it can manage its trade with the country, and rendered it totally impossible to reap any benefit from the repeal. In whose emolument does all this parade of condescension issue? Not in that of the Colony; still less in that of the just proprietors of the town. It is, then, I presume, for the use and behoof of their officers and soldiersa company of miserable wretches, in the constant terrour of their lives, who neither know how nor have time nor money to make use of the privilege, unless it be to import some potatoes and porter, to keep in their souls and drown the sense of their misery. That, I suppose, the humanity of their masters would not have denied them, if the act had stood in the same predicament that it was. About half as much, upon a just computation, may be placed to the account of their merit, for the repeal of the Fishery Bill. I will venture to assert, and I dare almost engage to prove it, that they have had no design, for nine months past, to prevent the present inhabitants of Boston from devouring all the fish which they had time and courage to take. It would have been very cruel, because they were in a pet with New-England, to have made no distinction in their wrath, but have scourged their own children along with their servants, and set them down to a dry morsel of potato without any sauce. So that the sum total of Parliament merit may be pretty fairly expressed in the style of the algebraist thus: The repeal of 1 Bill for the administration of Justice + 1 Port Bill + 1 Fishery Bill = 0 - 3: that is, three full Bills less than nothing; a worthy bottom on which to open a negotiation. And yet, what concessions do they expect on this account from us? They have the insolence to demand an acknowledgment of the right to alter, cut up, new-model, and annul our charters, whenever a whimsical Minister takes it in head that he is not complaisantly treated, because we refuse to choke ourselves with tea, or to glut the avarice of half a million of swag-bellied pensioners out of our private purse, and to be bound by their laws in all cases whatsoever. Since they offer terms of accommodation on one side, I think we have a right to state our demands on the opposite column. But this I shall reserve for another paper.
March 25, 1776.
CHARLES CARROLL TO DANIEL OF ST. THOMAS JENIFER.
Mount Clare, March 25, 1776.
MY DEAR MAJOR: I was so much out of order that I was obliged to leave Annapolis earlier in the morning than I intended, that I might not hurry myself too much in my ride home. Unfortunately I got wet before I reached the Mount, and fear, from the pains I have in my hands and knees, and other appearances, that I shall have a smart fit of the gout before I again get to rights; however, shall be able to judge in two or three days. If I should escape, I am so entirely unhinged that I do not think I can venture to Annapolis before Monday next. I hope Mr. Rumsey will be down, that Mr. Smyth may not be detained longer than is convenient to him. I desired J. T. to request the Council to let me have their opinion about the tender now fitting out, and I would manage that business while up here. I find, by what I yesterday heard, that many in town think she is so dull a sailer that she will be of no use. Let me also know of any directions to be given about sending down hats, cartridge-boxes, &c.
I find we must look for another Second Lieutenant for our Annapolis Artillery Company, as General Lee has taken Mr. Massenbaugh with him. Let me know whether the Council think of coming up to Baltimore. If anything new occurs, let us have it.
I am, dear Major, your affectionate friend and servant,
To the Honourable Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Esq.
AMOS GARRETT TO BENJAMIN RUMSEY.
March 25, 1776.
SIR: I had a line from you about bayonets. I forged out by a servant I had (since runaway) about sixty, for one of the Militia Companies, and offered them at six shillings per piece. I delivered one as a sample. They are mostly unfinished; but I could get them done by another smith I have, if I could have a gauge given me as to the size of the barrel. They were originally intended to fit on guns of different bores; but if I had the size of the musket-barrels, they could be finished all but fitting them to the right barrels, which must be done by an artificer with the piece by him. If the Council of Safety should incline to take them, I will set about them, and it is likely I may make up one hundred or more, if I can, and deliver them to your order. If I had the guns I would gladly fit them; but it cannot be well done without.
I am, sir, your humble servant,
To Benjamin Rumsey, Esq.
MARYLAND COUNCIL OF SAFETY TO STEPHEN WEST.
SIR: We have been informed that you have a quantity of coarse blankets that are very suitable for the soldiery, who are in great want of that necessary article, and are afraid it will be some time before we shall be able to provide them, and that the soldiers in the mean time may suffer very much for want of them. Under these circumstances, and from the zeal you have manifested in the cause, we make no doubt but that you will readily spare all you possibly can, notwithstanding you may have laid them aside for the use of your own family.
You will please to write us on this subject by the first opportunity, and acquaint us what blankets you may think proper to supply the publick, and the price; for which we will send you an order on the Treasurer, and order them directly here. We are, &c.
To Mr. Stephen West.