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will scarce give us an example of any people that ever recurred to an expedient of this kind without having their allies, at last, for their masters. The fatal consequences of hasty resolutions, in great questions, might be well illustrated by the conduct of the foolish Danes, who, to avenge themselves of their nobility, in one dreadful moment made an irretrievable surrender of their own liberty, and that of their posterity, into the hands of a tyrant. And had I been disposed to work upon the passions, rather than address the reason of my readers, the mention which was made in my last of the arbitrary Governments of France and Spain, their bloody massacres and unrelenting persecutions, gave me an opportunity of entering into descriptions which would have harrowed up the very souls of Protestants and Freemen.
The Administration of Great Britain itself, daring as they seem to be, have not yet dared to recur to the desperate measure of calling in foreign aid. But some of our best friends intimate that an example of this kind, on either side, would justify the like conduct on the other. A great majority of the patriotick Freeholders of the County of Berks, in England, nobly supporting our cause before the Throne, compliment us upon thisthat we have not thrown ourselves into the arms of other Powers, and that our Petitions have yet appeared before no Throne but that of Britain. Let not England (say they) set an example, which is but too easily copied, by drawing into a free country the insidious and mercenary aid of foreign forces, trained to the support of barbarous despotism. The moment that a great army of such, or of any foreigners, shall enter your territories, the liberties of your people are at an end. Strenuous as we are for the honour of our country, we cannot be forgetful of its peace and concord. It is therefore we abhor the idea of encouraging foreigners to make a prey of this nation and its dependencies, under the miserable and uncovered pretext of discountenancing faction and sedition among ourselves.
It is but too reasonable, then, to conclude, that whichsoever sideGreat Britain or Americashall first call in foreign assistance, will but force the other into the same desperate measure. In either case, this devoted land would become one field of blood and carnage for a length of years; which, at last, it is to be apprehended, would only be dreadfully closed in our perpetual subjection and slavery to the victorious side, whether allies or foes! It is, indeed, impossible to describe the miseries of that country which is once made the seat of foreign wars. Torn in pieces by contending armies, subjected to the alternate ravages and oppressions of rival powers, the merchant, the farmer, the peasant, has nothing to call his own. Even the wife of his bosom, and the daughter of his affection, are not safe from the unholy violence of mercenary soldiers, rioting through every corner of a land not their own, insolent in victory, and barbarous in defeat.
Although we now sadly bleed under the cruel hand of an unjust Administration, who have kindled up a most unnatural war among brethren in their own land, yet (God be thanked) that war hath not reached, and, I trust, will never be able to reach, much farther than our sea-shores. A nation cannot long continue totally blind to all its most essential interests. Our own vigour and virtue have already gone a great way to convince our oppressors of the inanity, as well as the impracticability, of their schemes to govern a great and distant country by force. Perseverance, on our side, will speedily accomplish the rest. Our friends in Britain unbought by us, and uncorrupted by our foes, are yet of more worth to us than whole nations of foreigners drawn in to our assistance by mercenary or interested views. If, by no precipitate or unnecessary measures, we forfeit the esteem of the former, and make them also enemies, we shall prevail by our united strength. The devices of those who, for ambitious purposes, strive to divide a house against itself, will be finally confounded, and the whole family of Britons, on both sides of the Atlantick, may yet be bound together by fresh ties of mutual love and interest for many generations.
But, (I repeat it once more,) by the former measure of calling in foreigners to decide our quarrels, we shall bleed, not in a few parts only, but at every pore; and the present generation will not, probably, see the end of the contest. Would to Heaven that they who press such a measure, as preferable to reconciliation with our ancient friends, upon whatever terms, could but behold the face of Poland, and visit the scenes of havock and desolation which mark the late footsteps of contending foreign powers in that country, or read the accounts of the like scenes in many parts of Germany. They would not then continue to urge such a measure till they could clearly prove that the last necessity was come.
Let it not be said that I am here drawing a horrible picture to strengthen this country into an absolute submission to Great Britain. No. I persevere in my belief, that, on our present plan of resistance, Britain can never force us, either into submission or reconciliation, but upon such terms as the united wisdom of the Colonies shall deem safe and honourable. But, upon the other plan, it is much to be feared that submission, as well as ruin, might be our lot. And were I disposed to give bad names to any persons who may, perhaps, be honestly inquiring after our true interest in this contest, they who advise such a plan, and not Cato, might be called inimical to these Colonies. Nor let it be said that the wished-for assistance is not that of armies, but of fleets for trade, and commercial protection. Even supposing that to be the case, will the fleets of any power, who can look those of Britain in the face, be content just to take a peep at our fruitful shores, give us their protection when called upon, and then return quietly home? But the author of Common Sense (and it is him I am now answering) makes no such distinction; and speaks of the assistance of France and Spain generallyand that for the purposes of a total separation from Great Britain. His words are these;
It is unreasonable to suppose that France or Spain will give us any kind of assistance, if we mean only to make use of that assistance for the purpose of repairing the breach, and strengthening the connection between Britain and America.
That the assistance here meant, is not confined to mere naval assistance, in the idea of some who are great advocates for this authors pamphlet, might have been easily gathered from their expressions, when we received the late accounts of the arrival of unusual numbers of troops in the neighbouring French West-Indies.
But this only alarmed others the more; and I am well persuaded that this writers idea is not yet adopted by many persons of much consideration in this country, much less by any publick bodies. I consider it only as thrown out to collect the sentiments of America upon it, although I cannot but think it a dangerous, as well as unseasonable question at this time, and could have been content that it had not been brought before the publick. But, since it hath been made a question, it ought now to be fairly discussed; for whatever we have left worthy of our attention as freemen, is all involved in this stake; and when important questions are put upon the footing that, if they are not answered, they are to be taken for granted, it becomes absolutely necessary to examine them.
For my part, the more I consider the matter, (and I have long considered it impartially,) the more I am persuaded that our political salvation can only be worked out by our own united virtue, and upon our own foundation. When it shall clearly appear that we can no longer stand upon this ground; when we shall be generally convinced, by better arguments than declamation, and the abuse of things venerable and ancient, that future connection with Great Britain is neither possible nor safe; then we shall be fully united and prepared, at every risk, to pursue whatever measures the sense of the community, fairly collected, shall think necessary to adopt. But even then, before we launch forth, many domestick concerns are to be adjusted.
Under what form of Government are we to confederate? How much of our ancient Constitutions is to be preserved? Who is to settle our clashing Territorial claims? In what cases are the jurisdiction and expenses of these Colonies to be joint or separate? On what terms are we to engage foreign alliances, and yet to secure our liberties in connection with them? Are the Colonies to vote equally in determining these grand concerns? or is a new representation to be formed in proportion to numbers and consequence?
I might propose more questions of this kind; and when the necessity comes, they will rise thick enough upon us, and we must then encounter them all, for the sake of American liberty, which I would never desert but with my life. But