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rance of men lays us under the danger of mistaking plausibility for principle. Could the wolf bleat like the lamb, the stock would soon be enticed into ruin; wherefore, to prevent the mischief, he ought to be seen as well as heard. There never was, nor ever will be, nor ever ought to be, any important political debate carried on, in which a total separation, in all cases, between men and measures, could be admitted with sufficient safety. When hypocrisy shall be banished from the earth, the knowledge of men will be unnecessary, because their measures cannot then be fraudulent; but until that time comes, (which never will come,) they ought, under proper limitations, to go together. We have already too much secrecy in some things, and too little in others. Were men more known, and measures more concealed, we should have fewer hypocrites, and more security.
As the chief design of these letters is to detect and expose the falsehoods and fallacious reasonings of Cato, he must not expect, when detected, to be treated like one who had debated fairly; for I will be bold to say, and to prove, that a grosser violation of truth and reason scarcely ever came from the pen of a writer; and the explanations which he hath endeavoured to impose on the passages which he hath quoted from Common Sense, are such as never existed in the mind of the author; nor can they be drawn from the words themselves. Neither must Cato expect to be spared where his carelessness of expression, and visible want of compassion and sentiment, shall give occasion to raise any moral or philosophical reflection thereon. These things being premised, I now proceed to review the latter part of Catos second letter.
In this place, Cato begins his first attack on Common Sense; but as he only discovers his ill-will, and neither offers any arguments against it, nor makes any quotation from it, I should, in this place, pass him by, were it not for the following strange assertion: If little notice, says Cato, (little opposition he means) has yet been taken of the publications concerning Independence, it is neither owing to the popularity of the doctrine, the unanswerable nature of the arguments, nor the fear of opposing them, as the vanity of the author would suggest. As Cato hath given us the negative reasons, he ought to have given us the real ones; for as he positively tells what it was not owing to, he undoubtedly knows what it was owing to, that he delayed his answers so long; but instead of telling us that, (which, perhaps, is not proper to be told,) he flies from the argument with the following plump declaration: Nine-tenths of the people of Pennsylvania (says he) yet abhor the doctrine. But stop, Cato! Not quite so fast, friend. If this be true, how came they, so late as the 2d of March last, to elect, for a Burgess of this city, a gentleman of known independent principles, and one of the very few to whom the author of Common Sense showed some part thereof while in manuscript? Cato is just as unfortunate in the following paragraph: Those, says he, who made the appeal, (that is, published the pamphlet,) have but little cause to triumph in its success. Of this they seem sensible, and, like true quacks, are constantly pestering us with additional doses, till the stomachs of their patients begin wholly to revolt. It is Catos hard fate to be always detected; for perhaps there never was a pamphlet, since the use of letters was known, about which so little pains were taken, and of which so great a number went off in so short a timeI am certain that I am within compass when I say one hundred and twenty thousand. The book was turned upon the world like an orphan, to shift for itself. No plan was formed to support it; neither hath the author ever published a syllable on the subject from that time till after the appearance of Catos fourth letter. Wherefore, what Cato says of additional doses administered by the author, is an absolute falsity. Besides which, it comes with an ill-grace from one who frequently publishes two letters in a week, and often puts them both into one paper. Cato here, Cato there, look where you will.
At the distance of a few lines from the above quotations, Cato presents us with a retrospective view of our former state, in which, says he, we considered our connection with Great Britain as our chief happiness. We flourished, grew rich and populous to a degree not to be paralleled in history. This assertion is truly of the legerdemain kind, appearing, at once, both right and wrong. All writers on Catos side have used the same argument, and conceived themselves invincible. Nevertheless, a single expression, properly placed, dissolves the charm, for the cheat lies in putting the consequence for the cause; for had we not flourished, the connection had never existed, or never been regarded: and this is fully proved by the neglect shown to the first settlers, who had every difficulty to struggle with, unnoticed and unassisted by the British Court.
Cato proceeds very industriously to sum up the former declarations of Congress and other publick bodies, (some of which were made upwards of a year ago,) to prove that the doctrine of Independence hath no sanction from them. To this I shall give Cato one general answer, which is, that, had he produced a thousand more such authorities, they would now amount to nothing. They are out of date. Times and things are altered. The true character of the King was but little known among the body of the people a year ago; willing to believe him good, they fondly called him so, but have since found that Catos Royal Sovereign is a Royal Savage.
Cato hath introduced the above-mentioned long quotation of authorities against Independency with the following curious preface: Nor have many weeks (says he) yet elapsed since the first open proposition for Independence was published to the world. By what men of consequence this scheme is supported, or whether by any, may possibly be the subject of future inquiry. Certainly it hath no countenance from the Congress, to whose sentiments we look up with reverence. On the contrary, it is directly repugnant to every declaration of that respectable body. Now, Cato, thou hast nailed thyself with a witness! Directly repugnant to every declaration of that respectable body! Mind that, Cato, and mark what follows. It appears, by an extract from the resolves of the Congress, printed in the front of the Oration delivered by Dr. Smith in honour of that brave man, General Montgomery, that he (the Doctor) was appointed by that honourable body to compose and deliver the same, in the execution of which, the Orator exclaimed loudly against the doctrine of Independence; but when a motion was afterwards made in Congress (according to former usage) to return the Orator thanks, and request a copy for the press, the motion was rejected from every part of the House, and thrown out without a division.
I now proceed to Catos third letter, in the opening of which he deserts the subject of Independence, and renews his attack on the Committee. Catos manner of writing has as much order in it as the motion of a squirrel. He frequently writes as if he knew not what to write next, just as the other; and jumps about only because he cannot stand still. Though I am sometimes angry with him for his unprincipled method of writing and reasoning, I cannot help laughing at him, at other times, for his want of ingenuityan instance of which he gives us in kindly warning us against the foul pages of interested writers, and strangers intermeddling in our affairs. Were I to reply seriously, my answer would be this: Thou seemest, then, ignorant, Cato, of that ancient and numerous order which are related to each other in all and every part of the globewith whom the kindred is not formed by place or accident, but in principle and sentiment. A freeman, Cato, is a stranger nowhere; a slave, everywhere. But were I disposed to answer merrily, I should tell him that, as his notions of friendship were so very narrow and local, he obliges me to understand that, when he addresses the people with the tender title of My dear Countrymen, (which frequently occurs in his letters,) he particularly means the long list of Macks published in Donald MacDonalds commission.
In this letter Cato recommends the pamphlet called Plain Truth a performance which hath withered away like a sickly, unnoticed weed, and which even its advocates are displeased at, and the author ashamed to own. About the middle of this third letter Cato gives notice of his being ready to take the field: I now proceed (says he) to give my reasons. How Cato hath managed the attack, we are now to examine; and the first remark 1 shall offer on his conduct, is, that he has most unluckily entered the list on the wrong side, and discharged his first fire among the Tories. In order to prove this, I shall give the paragraph entire. Agriculture and commerce (says Cafo) have hitherto been the happy employments by which these Middle Colonies have risen into wealth and importance. By them the face