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is insanity in us to entrust them with it; and in this sense, all those who have had it have done us right by abusing us into reason. Nature seems sometimes to laugh at mankind, by giving them so many fools for Kings; at other times she punishes their folly by giving them tyrants; but England must have offended highly to be cursed with both in one. Rosseau proposed a plan for establishing a perpetual European peace; which was for every State in Europe to send Ambassadors to form a General Council, and when any difference happened between any two nations, to refer the matter to arbitration instead of going to arms. This would be forming a kind of European Republick; but the proud and plundering spirit of Kings hath not peace for its object. They look not at the good of mankindthey set not out on that plan; and if the history of the creation, and the history of Kings be compared together, the result will be this, that God hath made a world, and Kings have robbed him of it.
But that which sufficiently establishes the Republican mode of Government, in preference to a Kingly one, even when all other arguments are left out, is this simple truth, that all men are Republicans by nature, and Royalists only by fashion. And this is fully proved by that passionate adoration which all men show to that great and almost only remaining bulwark of natural rights, Trial by Juries, which is founded on a pure Republican basis. Here the power of Kings is shut out. No Royal negative can enter this Court. The Jury, which is here supreme, is a Republick, a body of judges chosen from among the People. The charter which secures this freedom in England was formed, not in the Senate, but in the field; and insisted on by the People, not granted by the Crown. The Crown in that instance granted nothing, but only renounced its former tyrannies, and bound itself over to its future good behaviour. It was the compromise by which the wearer of it made his peace with the People, and the condition on which he was suffered to reign.
Here ends my reply to all the letters which have at present appeared under the signature of Cato, being at this time seven in number. I have made no particular remarks on his two last, which treats only of the mode of Government, but answered to them generally. In one place I observe he accuses the writer of Common Sense with inconsistency, in having declared, that no man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than himself before the fatal 19th of April, 1775; that is, (says Cato,) reconciliation to Monarchal Government. To which I reply, that war ought to be no mans wish, neither ought any man to perplex a State already formed, with his private opinions, the mode of Government being a proper consideration for those countries only, which have their Governments yet to form.Common Sense.
On a review of the ground which I have gone over in Catos letters, (exclusive of what I have omitted,) I find the following material charges against him:
First. He hath accused the Committee with crimes generally; stated none, nor proved, nor attempted to prove any. N. B. The pretence of charging the acts of a body of men on individuals is too slender to be admitted.*
Secondly. He hath falsely complained to the publick of the restraint of the Press.
Thirdly. He hath wickedly asserted that gleams of reconciliation had lately broken in upon us; thereby grossly deceiving the People.
Fourthly. He hath insinuated, as if he wished the publick to believe, that we had received the utmost assurance of having all our grievances redressed, and an ample security against any future violation of our just rights.
Fifthly. He hath spread false alarms of calling in foreign Troops.
Sixthly. He hath turned the Scripture into a jest.Ez. xxxv.
* Cato and I differ materially in our opinion of Committees. I consider them as the only constitutional bodies at present in this Province, and that for the following reason: they were duly elected by the people, and cheerfully and faithfully do the service for which they viere elected. The House of Assembly were likewise elected by the people, but do the business for which they were not elected. Their authority is truly unconstitutional, being self-created. My charge is as a body, and not as individuals.
These falsehoods, if uncontradicted, might have passed for truths, and the minds of persons remote from better intelligence, might have been greatly embarrassed thereby. Let our opinions be what they will, truth, as to facts, should be strictly adhered to. It was this affecting consideration that drew out the Forester (a perfect volunteer) to the painful task of writing three long letters, and occasioned to the publick the trouble of reading them.
Having, for the present, closed my correspondence with Cato, I shall conclude this letter with a well-meant, affectionate address
TO THE PEOPLE.
It is not a time to trifle. Men who know they deserve nothing from their country, and whose hope is on the arm that hath sought to enslave ye, may hold out to you, as Cato hath done, the false light of Reconciliation. There is no such thing. Tis gone! tis past! The grave hath parted us, and death, in the persons of the slain, hath cut the thread of life between Britain and America.
Conquest, and not reconciliation, is the plan of Britain. But admitting even the last hope of the Tories to happen, which is, that our enemies, after a long succession of losses, wearied and disabled, should despairingly throw down their arms and propose a reunion, in that case, what is to be done? Are defeated and disappointed tyrants to be considered like mistaken and converted friends? Or would it be right to receive those for governours, who, had they been conquerors, would have hung us up for traitors? Certainly not Reject the offer, then, and propose another; which is, We will make peace with you as with enemies; but we will never reunite with you as friends. This effected, and ye secure to yourselves the pleasing prospect of an eternal peace. America, remote from all the wrangling world, may live at ease. Bounded by the ocean, and backed by the wilderness, what hath she to fear but her God?
Be not deceived. It is not a little that is at stake. Reconciliation will not now go down, even if it were offered. Tis a dangerous question; for the eyes of all men begin to open. There is now no secret in the matter; there ought to be none. It is a case that concerns every man, and every man ought to lay it to heart. He that is here, and he that was born here, are alike concerned. It is needless, too, to split the business into a thousand parts, and perplex it with endless and fruitless investigations, in the manner that the writer signed a Common Man hath done. This unparalleled contention of nations is not to be settled like a school-boys task of pounds, shillings, pence, and fractions. That writer, though he may mean well, is strangely below the mark. For the first and great question, and that which involves every other in it, and from which every other will flow, is happiness. Can this Continent be happy under the Government of Great Britain or not? Secondly Can she be happy under a Government of our own? To live beneath the authority of those whom we cannot love, is misery, slavery, or what name you please. In that case, there will never be peace. Security will be a thing unknown, because a treacherous friend in power is the most dangerous of enemies. The answer to the second question, Can America be happy under a Government of her own? is short and simple, viz: as happy as she please. She hath a blank sheet to write upon. Put it not off too long. *
Painful as the task of speaking the truth must sometimes be, yet I cannot avoid giving the following hint, because much, nay, almost everything depends upon it; and that is, a thorough knowledge of the persons whom we trust. It is the duty of the publick, at this time, to scrutinize closely into the conduct of their Committee members, Members of Assembly, and Delegates in Congress; to know what they do, and their motives for so doing. Without knowing this, we shall never know who to confide in; but shall constantly mistake friends for enemies, and enemies for friends, till, in the confusion of persons, we sacrifice the cause. I am led to this reflection by the following circumstance: that the gentleman to whom the unwise and arbitrary instructions to the Delegates of this Province owe their being, and who hath bestowed all his power to support them, is said to be the same person who, when the ships now on the stocks were wanting timber, refused to sell it, and thus, by preventing our strength, to cry out of our insufficiency. But his hour of fame is pasthe is hastening to his political exit.
* Forget not the helpless African.