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of the country has been changed from a barren wilderness into the hospitable abodes of peace and plenty. Without them we had either never existed as Americans, or existed only as savages; the oaks would still have possessed their native spots of earth, and never have appeared in the form of ships and houses. What are now well-cultivated fields, or flourishing cities, would have remained only the solitary haunts of wild beasts, or of men equally wild. The reader cannot help perceiving that, through this whole paragraph, our connection with Britain is left entirely out of the question, and our present greatness attributed to internal causesagriculture and commerce. This is a strange way, Cato, of overturning Common Sense, which says: I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation to show a single advantage which this Continent can reap by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat (says he) the challenge. Not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for, buy them where we will, Cato introduces his next paragraph with saying, That much of our former felicity was owing to the protection of England, is not to be denied. Yes, Cato, I deny it wholly, and for the following clear and simple reasons, viz: that our being connected with, and submitting to be protected by her, made, and will still make, all her enemies our enemies; or, as Common Sense says, sets us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint.
The following passage is so glaringly absurd, that I shall make but a short comment upon it: And if, hereafter, (says Cato,) in the fulness of time, it shall be necessary to separate from the land that gave birth to (some of) our ancestors, it will be in a state of perfect manhood, when we can fully wield our own arms, and protect our commerce and coasts by our own fleets. But how are we to come by fleets, Cato, while Britain hath the government of the Continent? unless we are to supposeas you have hinted in the former paragraphthat our oaks are to grow into ships, and to be launched, self-built, from their native spots of earth. It is Catos misfortune, as a writer, not to distinguish justly between magick and imagination; while, on the other hand, there are many passages in his letters so seriously and deliberately false, that nothing but the most hardened effrontery, and a cast of mind bordering upon impiety, would have uttered. He frequently forces me out of the common track of civil language, in order to do him justice; moderation and temper being really unequal to the task of exposing him.
Cato, unless he meant to destroy the ground he stood upon, ought not to have let the following paragraph be seen: If our present difference (says he) can be accommodated, there is scarce a probability that Britain will ever renew her late fatal system of policy, or attempt again to employ force against us. How came Cato to admit the probability of our being brought again into the same bloody and expensive situation? But it is worth remarking, that those who write without principle, cannot help sometimes blundering upon truth. Then there is no real security, Cato, in this reconciliation of yours on constitutional principles? It still amounts to nothing; and, after all this expense of life and wealth, we are to rest at last upon hope, hazard, and uncertainty. Why, then, by all that is sacred, it is time to part.
But Cato, after admitting the probability of our being brought again into the same situation, proceeds to tell us how we are to conduct ourselves in the second quarreland that is, by the very same method we have done the present one, viz: to expend millions of treasure, and thousands of lives, in order to patch up a second reunion, that the way may be open for a third quarrel; and in this endless and chequered round of blood and treacherous peace hath Cato disposed of the Continent of America. That 1 may not be thought to do Cato injustice, I have quoted the whole passage: But should Britain be so infatuated (says he) at any future period as to think of subjugating us, either by the arts of corruption, or oppressive exertions of power, can we entertain a doubt but we shall again, with a virtue equal to the present, and with the weapons of defence in our hands, when necessary, convince her that we are willing, by a constitutional connection with her, to afford and receive reciprocal benefits; but although subjects of the same King, we will not consent to be her slaves. Come hither, ye little ones, whom the poisonous hand of Cato is rearing for destruction, and remember the page that warns ye of your ruin!
Cato, in many of his expressions, discovers all that calm command over the passions and feelings which always distinguishes the man who hath expelled them from his heart. Of this careless kind is the before-mentioned phrase. Our present differences, and the same unpardonable negligence is conveyed in the following one: Although I consider her (says he) as having, in her late conduct towards us, acted the part of a cruel step-dame. Wonderful sensibility, indeed! All the havock and desolation of unnatural war; the destruction of thousands; the burning and depopulating of towns and cities; the ruin and separation of friends and families, are just sufficient to extort from Cato this one callous confession. But the cold and creeping soul of Cato is a stranger to the manly powers of sympathetick sorrow. He moves not, nor can he move, in so pure an element. Accustomed to lick the hand that hath made him visible, and to breathe the gross atmosphere of servile and sordid dependance, his soul would now starve on virtue, and suffocate in the clear region of disinterested friendship.
Surely, when Cato sat down to write he either did not expect to be called to an account, or was totally regardless of reputation; otherwise, he would not have endeavoured to persuade the publick that the doctrine of Independence was broached, in a kind of seditious manner, at a time when (says he) some gleams of reconciliation began first to break in upon us. Come forth, Cato, and prove the assertion. Where do these gleams of reconciliation spring from? Are they to be found in the Kings Speech?in the Address of either House of Parliament?or in the Act which lets loose a whole kennel of pirates upon our property, and commissions another set to insult, with pardons, the very men whom their own measures had sought to ruin? Either prove the assertion, Cato, or take the reward of it; for it is the part of an incendiary to endeavour, with specious falsehoods, to mislead the credulity of unwary readers. Cato likewise says: That, while we continue united, and renounce all thoughts of Independence, we have the utmost assurance of obtaining a full redress of our grievances, and an ample security against any future violation of our just rights. If Cato means to insinuate that we have received such an assurance, let him read the conclusion of the preceding paragraph again. The same answer will serve for both.
Perhaps, when we recollect the long and unabated cruelty of the British Court towards us, and remember the many prayers which we have put up, both to them and for them, the following piece of declamation of Cato can hardly be equalled, either for absurdity or insanity: If we new affect Independence, (says he,) we must be considered as a faithless people in the sight of all mankind, and could scarcely expect the confidence of any nation upon earth, or look up to Heaven for its approving sentence. Art thou mad, Cato, or art thou foolish? or art thou both? or art thou worse than both? In this passage, thou hast fairly gone beyond me. I have not language to bring thee back. Thou art safely intrenched, indeed! Rest, therefore, in thy stronghold till he who fortified thee in it shall come and fetch thee out.
Cato seems to be possessed of that Jesuitical cunning which always endeavours to disgrace what it cannot disprove; and this he sometimes effects by unfairly introducing our terms into his arguments, and thereby begets a monster, which he sends round the country for a show, and tells the good people that the name of it is Independence. Of this character are several passages in his fourth and fifth letters, particularly where he quotes the term foreign assistance, which he ungenerously explains into a surrender of the Continent to France and Spain. Such an unfair and sophistical reasoner doth not deserve the civility of good manners. He creates, likewise, the same confusion by frequently using the word peace for union, and thereby charges us falsely by representing us as being determined to reject all propositions of peace. Whereas our wish is peace, but not reunion; and though we would gladly listen to the former, we are determined to resist every proposal for the latter, come from where it will; being fully persuaded that, in the present state of affairs, separation of Governments is the only and best thing that can be done for both countries.