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not justly chargeable. As to the holding of opinions, I conceive that every man has a right to hold whatever sort he pleases, so long as he does not insist on obliging other people to hold the same.
At a Town Meeting held at Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, the 25th of December last, to appoint Delegates to represent them in Provincial Congress, we find their sentiments fully expressed by an unanimous vote of Instructions to their Delegates, as follows: The precept sent to this town for the choice of Delegates, mentions our taking up a form of Government in this Colony. This we conceive to be a measure to be entered upon with the greatest caution, calmness, and deliberation. We are of opinion that the present times are too unsettled to admit of perfecting a form stable and permanent, and that to attempt it now would injure us, by, furnishing our enemies in Great Britain with arguments to persuade the good people there that we are aiming at Independency, which we totally disavow. We should therefore prefer the Government of the Congress till God, in his providence, shall afford us quieter times. But leaving the matter of taking up a form of Government to their Convention, and recommending an earnest attention to putting the Province into a posture of defence, they add, At the same time, however, that we give you this instruction, we recommend it to you that, should a plan of accommodation be proposed, the completion of which will terminate in an honourable settlement of the present dispute, you give your assent thereto.
January 5, 1776, a Convention for the Province of New- Hampshire met at Exeter, and after reciting the necessity of assuming a form of Government, and the power given them by the Continental Congress for that purpose, as well as the abdication of the Governour and Council, they declare that, for the preservation of peace and good order, and for the security of the lives and properties of the inhabitants of this Colony, we conceive ourselves reduced to the necessity of establishing a form of Government, to continue during the present unhappy and unnatural contest with Great Britain, protesting and declaring that we never sought to throw off our dependance upon Great Britain, but felt ourselves happy under her protection, whilst we could enjoy our constitutional rights and privileges, and that we shall rejoice if such a reconciliation between us and our Parent State can be effected, as shall be approved by the Continental Congress, in whose prudence and wisdom we confide.
Thus, we find that a reunion with Great Britain, upon constitutional principles, has been the favourite object of the Continental Congress, whose conduct has been steadily marked with defensive movements, and nowhere giving way to revenge or resentmentpassions inconsistent with the dignity of publick bodies. Though deeply afflicted with the distresses of their country on every hand, they have made a redress of grievances, and the protection of America, their only care. Nor can I trace a single step which induces me to believe they now wish for Independence. Till they do, or publish their desires of taking the sentiments of the people at large, on this important question, in such manner as their own wisdom shall direct, every man will hold himself guiltless in both speaking and writing on the subject. It is not the subject of a day, that in the morning blossoms, and at night fades to unfold no more; but it is an event in which millions in future ages are to be deeply interested. Why, then, would the writers in favour of a total separation wish to suppress an opposition? If liberty and happiness has inlisted on the one side, and misery and slavery on the other, surely it is a truth that may be easily displayed, and will be shown more clearly by opposition. On the side of reconciliation, I find, exclusive of the Continental Congress:
Which is near one-third of the inhabitants of America. How many of the other Provinces have expressed their sentiments on the subject of Independence, I cannot pretend to say; but surely these are enough to justify any writer or writers on the Continent, in joining their voices, and to screen them from the ungenerous charges of being the corrupt tools of Government, and having no other view than pensions and titles for themselves and families. Away with all such unhandsome reflections on party schemes and party views. Convince me but once that more happiness is to be expected from Independence than from reconciliation, and instantly I renounce Great Britain forever.
Some late writers justify personality in publick disputes; for my part I cannot conceive what persons have to do with the matter. If a highwayman was to stop my coach on the road, and, after taking my purse, was to tell me I had lost the linchpin from my wheel, I should certainly deserve to be overturned if I neglected to examine into the truth of his information. So with respect to Independence; I care not who it is that informs me of the miseries of a separation, or what may be his views. I shall listen to his tale, and judge for myself. On the other hand, when the peace, plenty, and liberty of Independence are pointed out with all the colours of description, it is no matter to me whether my director has views of power and dignity for himself or not; I shall examine the principles and leave the man; but if, apart from argument, I should have any preference from prejudice, it would be to that side which appeared most inclined to grant an unlimited indulgence to a freedom of speech and the freedom of the press; for if grievances should hereafter arise in the Government I had chosen, such freedom would sooner enable me to obtain redress.
LETTER III.TO CATO.
Catos partisans may call me furious, I regard it not, There are men, too, who have not virtue enough to be angry; and that crime perhaps is Catos. He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Having thus balanced the charge, I proceed to Catos fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh letters, all of which, as they contain but little matter, I shall dismiss with as little trouble and less formality. Catos fourth, and the greatest part of his fifth letter, are constructed on a false meaning, uncivilly imposed on a passage quoted from Common Sense; and for which the author of that pamphlet hath a right to expect from Cato the usual concessions. I shall quote the passage entire, with Catos additional meaning, and the inferences which he draws therefrom.
He introduces it with saying, In my remarks on the pamphlet before me, I shall first consider those arguments on which he (the author) appears to lay his chief stress; and these are collected under four heads in his conclusion; one of which is, It is the custom of nations when any two are at war, for some other Powers not engaged in the quarrel, to step in by way of mediators, and bring about the preliminaries of a peace; but while America calls herself the subject of Great Britain, no Power, however well-disposed she may be, can offer her mediation. The meaning contained in this passage is so exceedingly plain, and expressed in such easy and familiar terms, that it scarcely admits of being made plainer. No one, I think, could have understood it any otherwise than that, while we continue to call ourselves British subjects, the quarrel between us can only be called a family quarrel, in which it would be just as indelicate for any other nation to advise, or any way to meddle or make, even with their offers of mediation, as it would be for a third person to interfere in a quarrel between a man and his wife. Whereas, were we to make use of that natural right which all other nations have done before us, and erect a Government of our own, independent of all the world, the quarrel could then be no longer called a family quarrel, but a regular war between the two Powers, of Britain and America, in the same manner as one carried on between England and France; and in this state of political separation, the neutral powers might kindly tender their mediation, (as hath always been the practice,) and bring about the preliminaries of a peace. Not a union, Cato; that is quite another thing. But instead of Catos taking it in this easy and natural sense, he flies away on a Wrong scent; charges the author with proposing to call in foreign assistance; and, under this wilful falsehood, raises up a mighty cry after nothing at all. He begins his wild and unintelligible comment in the following manner: Is this, says he, (meaning the passage already quoted,) common