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cultivating a friendly intercourse with them, and restraining, by exemplary punishment, the irregularities of the soldiery, that their affections can ever be regained. To accomplish this most important purpose, the Congress have enjoined the commanding officer in Canada to be very attentive to military discipline, and to punish, severely, every violation thereof. To this must be added all the arts of insinuation and address, which, I make no doubt, you in particular, and the rest of the officers, will exert to the utmost of your abilities.
I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,
JOHN HANCOCK, President
To Colonel Hazen, Montreal.
TO THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA.LETTER VIII.
The all-wise Creator having enabled every man to judge, in some degree, what is good for himself, the study of Government is a duty of the highest concern to all the members of a free State. But men, in general, may be said to feel better than they can see; and therefore seldom take the trouble to employ their thoughts on publick affairs while they are tolerably administered; nor is it till oppression becomes flagrant, and even palpable to the sight, that a People are universally roused into a serious attention to abuses in Government.
Numerous are the evils which spring from distractions and convulsions in a State; but they are often productive of one advantage, which outweighs them all. The civil Constitutions of countries, although long neglected through the indolence of the people, and tottering on the verge of dissolution, have nevertheless been thus purged of their corruptions, brought back to their first principles, and made to flourish, with renewed vigour, through many succeeding ages. But as this can only be the work of heroism, conducted by wisdom, virtue, and prudence, every writer who, upon such great and trying occasions, seeks to exaggerate or conceal facts, to state but one side of a question, to warp the judgment by partial representations, to give railing for reason, invectives for arguments, and to urge a people into hasty resolutions, by addressing the inflamed passions rather than the sober reasonevery such writer, I say, insults his country in distress, and is a fellow-worker with its enemies, to hasten its ruin.
Had the author of Common Sense considered this, or were he possessed of the least reverence for the judgment or feelings of a great and enlightened people, whom he has thought himself fit to address, his performance would have been of a different nature. It would at least have worn the semblance of argument, and contained something which had a chance to meet the reason of wise men, and to stand the test of their candid examination. He would have listened patiently to their remarks upon his production, and would have coolly replied to their objections. He would not have dared to offer such an indignity to the publick, as to throw out impotent threats, instead of answers, against the meanest of his fellow-citizens, (if fellow-citizens he has in this place,) merely for endeavouring, in a country yet free, to detect his misrepresentations, to supply his defect of materials, and thereby enable a people to judge fairly of their own weighty concerns.
The contest in which America is engaged, was not lightly undertaken. The sword was drawn in defence of our laws and liberties. Till these are rendered safe, let it not be returned to the scabbard; but, still, let not the scabbard be thrown away. If our just rights can be best secured by reconciliation with our own flesh and bloodwith a yet powerful nation, whose religion, laws, and manners, in our former happy days, we gloried to call our ownGod forbid that we should shut the door against it, by any hasty measure among ourselves. This happy period of our miseries is still hoped for and devoutly wished, not only by multitudes of the zealous friends of America, through all the Colonies, but by whole Colonies, in their publick capacity, regardless of anything that has yet been offered to the contrary. While this continues to be the case, he who seeks to disturb the union which we nobly supported on our former ground, is the worst foe to this country. If the British Administration has a tool here, labouring to forward their ruinous purposes by divisions and distractions, thou art the man; even thou, the author of Common Sense, who hast started thine ignis-fatuus, to draw the unwary into untried regions, full of tremendous precipices and quagmires, treacherous to the foot, whither the wise and considerate think it not safe to follow. Couldst thou succeed in this, thou dost effectually confirm all the slanders of our Ministerial foes against us; and instead of America, strong in domestick union, and supported by a respectable part of Britain, thou wilt give us Britain united, and America rent by divisions, amidst the mighty contest. Thou sayest that now is the exact time for adopting thy plan, and boldest up ruin as the sure consequence of the least delay. Thou saidst the same and didst threaten the same, near three months ago, if we hesitated a moment to follow thy advice. Possibly, any time may be thy now, especially if thou shouldst have nothing to lose, and, peradventure, mayest hope to gain something by the change. But when the Almighty shall be pleased to say now, thy interpretations will be unnecessary. He will send conviction along with it, in circumstances so clear and unambiguous, that they who run may read them.
The publick will excuse the occasional notice I am forced to take of the answers hitherto given to my letters. Were I disposed to deviate from my plan, or, by immediate retaliation, to draw the attention of the reader to the political characters, connexions, and dependencies of my antagonists, (which the author of Common Sense, in his new character of the Forester, allows to be very essential in such a controversy,) I believe it would add little to the credit of their works; especially if, upon inquiry, it should be found that they have neither character nor connexions in this place, and that they are the avowed instruments and dependants of some, who, having no concern in our domestick affairs, are nevertheless constantly intermeddling with them, to the great disturbance of the Province, and injury of the publick cause.
The popular leaders who overturned the Monarchy in the last age, were not themselves friends to Republicks. They only made use of the name to procure the favour of the people; and whenever, by such means, they had mounted to the proper height, each of them, in his turn, began to kick the people from him as a ladder then useless.
Cromwell exercised the power of a King, and of the most absolute King, under the specious name of a Protector. The instrument of Republican Government, which he had at first extolled as the most perfect work of human invention, he began (as soon as he thought his authority sufficiently established) to represent as a rotten plank, upon which no man could trust himself without sinking. He had his eyes fixed upon the Crown; but when he procured an offer of it, from a packed Parliament, his courage failed him. He had outwitted himself by his own hypocrisy, and, in his way to power, had thrown such an odium upon the name of the King, that his own family, apprehensive he would be murdered the moment the diadem should touch his brow, persuaded him to decline that honour.
The great Sydney never meant more, by his celebrated work, than to reform the abuses of mixed Government, and to restrain the rapid progress which the nation was making, in his time, towards absolute Monarchy. And he was as much a foe to Cromwell as to Charles the First, considering both as governing above the laws. But he did not write against Kings generally, more than other rulers who might abuse their power.
Nothing, says he, is further from my intention than to speak irreverently of Kings; and he explains what Kings he means, viz: those limited by law in mixed Governments. He has written a whole section to show that the best Governments in the world have been composed, as the English is, of Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy. He says God ordained a mixed Government, answering to this in all its parts, and consisting of a single Judge, or chief Captain, (we contend not for names,) a Council of seventy chosen men, or Sanhedrim, and the General Assemblies of the People. Is not this our own form complete?
When he speaks of popular Governments, he uses the utmost precision. To avoid unnecessary disputes, says he, I give the name of popular Governments to those of Rome, Athens, Sparta, and the like; but improperly, unless the same may also be given to many that are usually called Monarchies, since there is nothing of violence in either. As to popular Governments, in the strict sense, (that is,