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Cosmopolitan, No. IV



To the Inhabitants of the AMERICAN Colonies.

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

As our publick affairs are now situated, when almost every day opens new scenes, and every manoeuvre of our adversaries has an aspect cruelly hostile: when worse than death stares us full in the face: when horror sits brooding over America: when our capital is clad in the robes of affliction, and her bosom bathed in the tears of distress: when Town after Town is falling victims to the infuriating rage of merciless cut-throats: when the pious petitions of beggared families are ascending in sweet memorials to the throne of God: when the orphan' s cries and the inconsolable anguish of a weeping mother in silent eloquence demand our pity: when the manes of a Warren and our slaughtered heroes, when reason and common sense, the feelings of humanity, and the sacred laws of our violated Constitution, call for justice to an injured community: when not only our own welfare, but the very being of freedom, and the prosperity of future generations, seem to turn upon a critical period: when business of the last consequence demands our attention, and matters of the most interesting nature plead for consideration — to listen with credulity to the suggestions of fancy, and to be amused with the phantoms of fear, is trifling and unmanly — it is worse: it is folly and wretchedness, misery and destruction, slavery and death. What then shall we do to be saved, is an


obvious inquiry. The answer is easy: caution and bravery, magnanimity and spirit, prudence and firmness, will conduct us, with honour and success, to glory and happiness.

Our immediate business is to annoy, weaken, and distress the enemy, to the utmost of our power; to improve in the art, and, by all possible ways, procure the means of doing the same for the future; to exert our whole force uniformly and at once, and at every hazard guard against and prevent the enemy' s getting any advantage, any foot-hold in our Country. Let us conduct by foresight, and avoiding the common calamities of after-wisdom. Whatever is practicable, at any expense, it ought to be done. The consideration of cost and trouble sink to nothing, are not to be mentioned, when our Country is invaded, and piratical depredations are constantly making. Is the plan good? and its execution feasible? are the only questions. The skill of war, and the art of destroying, though dreadful, are become of unavoidable necessity. We have got the rampant lion by the beard; by keeping the hold we may demolish his strength, and bring him to the ground; if we yield to his force, he will rend us to atoms, or grind us to powder in his voracious, sanguinary jaws. Let us not only oppose, but make effectual opposition. Let us do it in time. It is in our power. There is in the power of mortals a degree of enterprise and persevering resolution that invariably commands success. Nothing else is wanting. For God' s sake, and our Country' s sake, let us exert it on the great and trying occasion. If a people once yield to the expansions of power and the efforts of a tyrant, their case is forlorn. If they are staggered by the force of superior abilities, caught by surprise, or the suggestions of the timid, the enemy enters and the danger advances. A single point gained, adds to the weight in the opposite scale, and one advantage secured, gives a facility in obtaining a second. The invader in his progress receives fresh accessions of strength. His power, incessantly growing like a torrent increasing as it runs, soon becomes too forcible for any possible barriers opposed to its passage. Many invasions which might have been repelled by a seasonable, bold, and united resistance, have become invincible, by cowardice, divisions, and preposterous exertions. One part of the community is subdued and made subservient to enslaving the other. On this fatal rock were wrecked the ancient republicks of the world. By it Caesar destroyed the liberties of Rome; by it thousands have waded through blood to despotick command. The conquering tribes among the Huns and the Goths, with their bold and enterprising warriors, says the historian, for a succession of ages, furnished their Princes with their military guards; but at length were made the tools of oppressing themselves. In this manner has slavery and ruin made their way into regions so much renowned for the wild freedom of nature. A power which was the terrour of every effeminate Province is disarmed, and the nursery of nations is itself gone to decay. Happy the people that profit by others' misfortunes! Doubly happy! Happy in themselves, and happy in a numerous progeny of freemen.

I do not mean to assert that a single victory, or a repeated conquest, would enable the enemy to subdue our Country, or ought to dishearten; I intend to show the reverse. Delays in preparing, and remissness in executing, are dangers to be guarded against. Every inch of ground should be disputed with spirit, to enhance the price of the enemy' s purchase. The present acquisitions of our enemies were obtained at a dear rate. If they were to pay in the same proportion for the most inferior Province on the Continent, it would exhaust the nation of her blood and treasure, and she must soon die insolvent. I am sensible there are some who have chanted a different tone. They seem to have considered every thing British as unrivalled. They have represented her as the store-house of wisdom, and the only place where soldiers are formed; as placed in the centre of being, an overawing creation. She frames her edicts, and the nations are hushed. She hurls her thunderbolts, and all is conquest. At her gentle reproofs, union was to languish; at her more decisive frowns, opposition die. It is true she is powerful, and her troops naturally brave. But has experience verified such unmeaning rant? Or are events still sleeping in the lap of futurity? Has not picked Battalions, chosen Brigades, with a Percy at their head, marched the quick-step before a sudden collection


of undisciplined peasants? Does her resources come forth of the dust, or her invincible power spring out of the ground? Are her troops invulnerable? Are their bones bars of iron? Have they brass sinews? Does tempered steel compose their muscles? and are their hearts cased with adamant? Or have our swords leaden points, that they cannot penetrate? Or are our balls watery bubbles that will burst in air? In what then consists the boasted superiority at British mercenaries, compared with the freeborn sons of America? In voce et praeterea nihil. In gasconading, and nothing else.

Let us appeal to facts, attend coolly and deliberately to the real circumstances of each conflicting power, as they connect with and will necessarily affect each party in the bloody dispute. It is prudent, it is wise to inquire if we are equal to a defence against all the power that Great Britain can possibly exert. I assert that we are, and must ultimately triumph, having our temples wreathed with laurels of eternal glory. The strength of a country consists in numbers, riches, situation, temper and habits, the common resources of war. A state composed of corrupted, degenerate, cowardly men, is weak, however numerous, wealthy, and refined; consisting of virtuous, vigorous, learned, publick spirited, and resolute men, is strong, is invincible, however attacked, however despised; but the resources of war in hands that will not employ them, is like a keen edged sword sleeping in its scabbard.

Let us consider Great Britain in this four-fold point of view. Consider her numbers, her riches, her situation, her temper and habits, in relation to a war with America. With respect to her numbers, let us deduct from the account all those who cannot in some way or another, either mediately or immediately, add to the strength of the nation, and subserve the purposes of war. Let us further consider how much of the labour of the useful, and wealth of the nation, is constantly consumed in supporting this large catalogue of burdensome beings, this dead weight in luxury and debauchery. It is not the effeminate, luxurious, and debauched, that can defend their Country in the day of battle! they increase timidity by their example, weaken counsels by their influence, and are so many useless mouths constantly consuming the resources of war. The Spaniards and Portuguese, says an historian, are incapable of defending themselves against a powerful foreign invasion. The immense wealth of the Indies, that every year comes home to their ports, goes to enrich a few. Their subjects are either in the extremes of wealth or poverty. The rich have only slaves beneath them, who hate those for whom they must labour; the poor have no acquisitions or property to defend! so that their armies are composed, either of wretches pressed into the service, who only seek for opportunities not to fight, but to fly; or of men rich and noble, courageous from pride, yet weak from luxury. These observations apply in many respects to Great Britain. Besides these, that illustrious band of patriots and Whigs, both in Britain and Ireland, that are engaged in a glorious opposition, and are willing to range under the American standard should it ever be erected in Britain, must diminish in a great degree, as it operates in a duplicate ratio, adding to one scale what it takes from the other. Another circumstance which goes to the quality of this garbled number sinks its importance still lower, in a military point of view. The lower and middling sort of people, although useful citizens, add but little to the martial strength, for, by the tyranny of certain laws, being deprived of the use of arms, they neither possess the knowledge, nor the natural aptitude for the use of the sword or the musket. This difficulty cannot easily be cured. It is founded upon a ruinous principle of national policy. A calculation then, subject to the above deductions, gives us the full strength of Great Britain, so far as it consists in numbers. I shall not attempt a particular computation that will give a product precisely equivalent to her whole numerical force, as this would be rather a round of sportive acuteness than of real utility; but I will venture to assert, that it cannot be equal to those banded thousands, I had almost said millions, of brave musketeering Americans. Their principal muscular strength, at present, consists then in a number of mercenary, hackneyed, tattered Regiments, patched up by the most abandoned and debauched of mankind, the scum of the nation, the dregs of Irish and Scottish desperadoes.


Let us next proceed to a consideration of those countless millions which compose the wealth of Great Britain. I doubt whether her riches will render her more formidable and respectable than her numbers, I mean considered as detached from the Colonies. After deducting about an hundred and forty-two millions, a debt for the payment of which the sources of all her wealth are mortgaged, together with the interest of between four and five millions annually, in what consists her boasted riches? It exists only in idea, in name, in paper, in publick faith, in Parliamentary security. The land, the trade, and the industry of her subjects, are pledged for this security. What then must be the consequence of this enormous debt, which has long hung like a mill-stone about her neck; when the American trade, the source of her wealth — which gave her her national rank — as a nursery, furnished her navy with seamen, made her sovereign of the ocean, and would soon have raised her to be mistress of the world, is dried up? What the consequence of losing that trade upon which the credit of the nation was supported, and the profitable industry of the manufacturer and the merchant very much depended? What the consequence of being denied that supply of timber, iron, plank, masts, pitch, tar, and hemp, by which her navy was built and kept in repair? It will, it must sink her from among the nations, ruin her credit, and make her a bankrupt. Add to this the enormous sum of millions it has cost her for securing her troops with experienced Generals in their Boroughs, the forcing one intrenchment, the work of a single night, and reducing two defenceless Towns to ashes, in a manner that so stains the lustre of the British name, as will not be washed out by the inundation of time; and those incredible sums for pensioners, placemen, and court sycophants, which must be paid, if the nation is ruined. A calculation then, with a diminution resulting from a concurrence of the above combined causes, gives us the full absolute strength and wealth of Great Britain. It gives us the whole that she could lift to action, against an enemy in her own neighbourhood, was she to bend all her power and spend all her force upon him.

Her situation is the next thing, in the order proposed, that demands our attention. This, in point of locality, and from the relation she stands in to the European powers, will still further lessen her already diminished strength, touching the American dispute. This, if carefully attended to, will enable us to form some judgment of that power by which she must subdue the Colonies. It gives us her relative strength, which is certainly much below her absolute power. While she is subduing the Colonies, she must defend herself. It is irrational to suppose that, by draining off her men and money for foreign service, she will leave home so destitute as to fall a prey to the first invader. An island as she is, and envied as she has been, instead of having those fortified frontiers to defend her from the incursions of her inveterate enemies, she is obliged to secure her maritime borders by her floating bulwarks, her powerful fleets and squadrons. It is true, that Great Britain is said to be at peace with her rival powers; but nominal peace, by the modern policy of nations, is a species of inactive war. The large and numerous armies and fleets that are kept encamped and supported in pay by one nation, induce a necessity of standing armies and a naval power to watch their motions and prevent their operations in another. France and Spain, always emulating the British glories, have in constant readiness for action large forces, both by land and sea. Their late increased war-like preparations wear an hostile aspect, and threaten some important blow. The latter has even dared to insult with impunity the mistress of the seas; the former has often attempted and is still waiting an opportunity to humble the pride of the English power. Ireland is also, in general, opposed, from the intolerable grievances and oppressions they suffer. Notwithstanding the heavy expenses of Government, they are burdened with the payment of a list of pensioners and placemen upon the Irish establishment, which, in 1765, from a motion by the House of Commons, in that Kingdom, to address His Majesty upon the subject, the sum appears to have amounted, in the then two last years, to above a hundred and fifty-eight thousand Pounds; the greater part of which is paid to persons with whom they have no sort of concern. It is said there are upwards of two millions in the Kingdom so


extremely poor that they are unable to pay the two shilling tax for their single hearth, and are so distressed by their tax-gatherers, that they are obliged very frequently to sell the pot in which their potatoes are boiled. I am astonished, says one, under such depressing circumstances, to observe such a love of liberty still animating that loyal and generous nation, and nothing can raise higher my idea of the integrity and publick spirit of the people who have preserved the sacred fire of freedom from being extinguished, though the altar on which it burned has been thrown down. What heart does not melt at the deplorable situation of this people? What community, what Kingdom does not deprecate its fate? It speaks in peals of thunder to America.

But to return. In addition to all this, there is a large train of discontented subjects in the very bowels of Great Britain, headed by the greatest and best men in the nation; these will be a thorn in her foot that will give her trouble and impede her progress. In this situation, will the wisest and best of Princes leave Ireland to rise in arms? Will he abandon himself to the just indignation of his British subjects? Will he leave the nation a prey to France or Spain? or relinquish the possession of his other Dominions? If not, it must necessarily divert much of his strength from the American Colonies, many of his ships to defend his own borders; otherwise, other Princes will make him feel the weight of their swords, and constrain him to yield to the force of their arms.

There is another point of view in which this division of the subject naturally presents itself. America is three thousand transmarine miles from this belligerent power. Shafts shot across the Atlantick must lose their force in air. Great Britain must beat the air and plough the ocean, before she can take the field. The seas will continue to roll, the wind to blow, and the cold frost to visit our northern shores, which arrest the streams in their course, and lash them fast to the river' s side. She must spend much of her strength in getting at an object so remote. And after carrying on an expensive war with wind and weather, does she mount the stage upon equal terms? Can she, like Hannibal, recruit her wasted Army and procure resources in an enemy' s country, where children are upon guard, and women tarry by the stuff? Or will the skeletons of Government, the renegadoes at her standard, form one fighting phalanx, and yield her real aid. Besides all this, there is the difficulty of levying troops for service so remote, and of such doubtful success; of procuring seasonable supplies for such long and uncertain campaigns; of commanding transports and performing voyages so lengthy, in which sickness is contracted in the passage, and the consequent loss of life; the want of fresh provisions; the delays ever attendant on movements so distant from the cabinet — movements which have engaged the attention of the world. I am sensible much has been said of the thousands of Hessians and Hanoverians that are taken into British pay for present emergencies. These will not fight without pay. There must be some great object to induce them to leave their native country, to which they never may return, and to take part in a foreign quarrel. But where is the wealth to come from that shall enable Great Britain to engage in her service a sufficient number of foreigners to subdue the Colonies, and to maintain that conquest, after the richest and most luxuriant sources of her wealth are dried up and gone forever? Where are the armies, the pay for those multiplied demands that will result from her situation, at home and abroad, with her own subjects and other States?

I shall be short upon the last branch of the subject. Bravery, humanity, and a love of liberty, were formerly supposed to enter into the composition of an Englishman' s temper. Are there no habits of friendship between the descendants of a common parent, who have fought and bled side by side, that will check the ardour of offensive warriors, who are contending for domination against the defenders of their rights? Will not a recollection of mutual instances of kindness lead to recollection, and excite pity from scenes of barbarity? Will no spectacles kindle the relentings of nature in favour of a brave, virtuous, and oppressed people, struggling for their liberties? Will tliere be no defection from the sentiments of humanity? Allowing the Americans are deluded, will they have no


compassion for a general and inevitable delusion? Will not they see that the dagger which opens the way to what they call a deluded heart, and lets out life, conveys no conviction to a survivor' s head? The delusion still continues, and the spirit is invincible; and although it should bend, for a moment, like an unwieldy bow, yet soon it would fly from its over-wrought tension, and, like flames smothered in a burning pit, blaze out anew. At length, fatigued with havock, and despairing of success, will not serious reflection seize their heads, and the pangs and twitchings of a wounded spirit, which stings like an adder and bites like a serpent, cool their courage, sheath their swords, and carry them back to their own homes, to demand the forfeited heads of their blood-thirsty employers?

From this summary view of the strength of Great Britain, we have no reason to think her force matchless, or that her efforts against America will prove successful. It is a good rule never to despise the power of an enemy, but to presume upon the worst, and prepare for the hardest. I shall, in my next, take a similar view of the internal strength of the United American Colonies, in the new world; that, having the whole before you in a collected point, you may make your comparisons, and draw such inferences as may be warranted by the nature of the case and the truth of fact respecting both Countries.

Worcester, November 17, 1775.