Primary tabs

Reflections on American Affairs



London, March 23, 1776.

The dies are thrown, and the game is lost. The Addressers have won. Whether or not there was foul play, I will not inquire. But can they be so weak to imagine that the calamities of this war will only fall on the Americans? — that they only shall feel the storm, and that we shall remain safe and unhurt? Is it possible that a total stagnation of trade to America should bring no evil upon us? As well might it be asserted, and with as much truth, that causes have ceased to produce their effects. Alas ! miseries, accumulated miseries, must come upon us! There is that evil in the cause that must produce them. Thousands will be seen wringing their hands, and crying for bread, whose honest industry used plentifully to supply themselves and families. The affluent merchant, and all who depended upon him for support, must be overwhelmed with misery and wretchedness; and the poor rates must be swelled beyond the ability of the land to support. None of these evils may, indeed, at present be felt by the Addressers — with them all may be plenty, calm, and sunshine; but how long will, or can it remain so? Poison thrown into the natural body does not instantly show its effects. It is not possible that we should yet feel the miseries that lie concealed in the present measures; but they will operate, and, too soon, like poison, discover the fatality of their nature. Let every man, therefore, look to himself.

The Duke of Grafton must be allowed to be well acquainted with the finances and resources of Government.

His declaration in the House was very alarming. As a stockholder, it most sensibly affected me. If the resources fail, whence is my interest to arise? Ex nihilo nihil fit. Many, doubtless, see this evil; nor is it possible that so weighty a matter should escape the sagacity of our rulers. Would to God it had acted on them as a preventive, and turned their hearts to peace, instead of war!

If the Americans have drawn on them our resentment, they have certainly, by this time, been amply punished; but if delenda est Carthago, if nothing can appease the wrath risen up against them but their utter ruin, let it be remembered that the tares cannot be plucked up without the wheat suffering with it. David certainly made the wisest choice when he chose to fall into the hands of God, rather than into the hands of man. Man' s mercies are cruelties: intent upon the object of his resentment, he neither sees how he


may be hurt himself, nor regards what mischief he brings on others.

This war has more evils in it than can possibly be foreseen. It admits of no comparison with other wars. It is rather like a family quarrel, where, every one flying to law, the whole estate becomes lost in the contest.

O Addressers! what infatuation has seized you? Is not peace better than war? Would it be any loss to you to have a general amnesty granted to the Americans? Would ye be sufferers were you to behold them again as in the year 1763? Ye may live to curse the day when you set your hands to the fatal paper! Sooner should my right hand have perished than have been instrumental in bringing so great an evil on the land as the curse of war. The child unborn will rue the day.