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Letter from Josiah Quincy, Jun˙, to John Dickinson

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JOSIAH QUINCY, JUN˙, TO JOHN DICKINSON.

Boston, August 20, 1774.

MUCH RESPECTED AND DEAR SIR: Your cordial approbation of my poor work communicates a happiness surpassed only by your kind invitation of me into the circle of your friends. Believe me, sir, that I recollect no feeling which would give me more solid, heartfelt satisfaction, than being considered by you as an honest friend, unless I except a consciousness of deserving that rank and confidence.

Your sentiments relative to that "Colony which shall advance too hastily before the rest, contrary to the maxims of discipline," &c˙, are no doubt just. Yet permit me, sir, to use a freedom, which your partiality seems to invite, and observe, that those maxims of discipline are not universally known in this early period of Continental warfare; and are with great difficulty practised by a people under the scourge of publick oppression. When time shall have taught wisdom, and past experience fixed bounds to the movements of a single Colony, its intemperate and over-hasty strides will be more unpardonable. But if we should unfortunately see one Colony, under a treble pressure of publick oppression, rendered impatient by the refinements, delays, and experiments of the Philadelphians, of their less oppressed and therefore more deliberate brethren; I say, if a Colony thus insulted, galled from without, and vexed within, should seem to advance and "break the line of opposition," ought it to incur the heavy censure of "betraying the common cause?" Though not to be justified, may not its fault be considered venial? Believe me, dear sir, you know not all our patriotick trials in this Province. Corruption (which delay gives time to operate) is the destroying angel we have most to fear. Our enemies wish for nothing so much as our tampering with the fatal disease. I fear much that timid or lukewarm counsels will be considered by our Congress as prudent and politick. Such counsels will inevitably enslave us; — we subjugated, how rapid and certain the fall of the rest. Excuse my freedom of telling what I dread, though seeming to differ from those I honour and revere. We are, at this time, calm and temperate; and, partiality to my countrymen aside, I question whether any ancient or modern state can give an instance of a whole people suffering so severely with such dignity, fortitude, and true spirit. Our very enemies are dismayed, and though they affect to sneer at our enthusiasm, yet they so far catch the noble infirmity as to give an involuntary applause.

I see no reason to apprehend our advancing before our brethren, unless the plans they should adopt should very evidently be too languid and spiritless to give any rational hopes of safety to us, in our adherence to them. Sobrius esto is our present motto. At the urgent solicitation of a great number of warm friends to my country and myself, I have agreed to relinquish business and embark for London, and shall sail in eighteen days certainly. I am flattered, by those who, perhaps, place too great confidence in me, that I may do some good the ensuing winter at the Court of Great Britain; hence, I have taken this unexpected

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resolution. My design is to be kept as long secret as possible; I hope till I get to Europe. Should it transpire that I was going home, our publick enemies here would be as indefatigable and persevering to my injury as they have been to the cause in which I am engaged, heart and hand; perhaps more so, as personal pique would be added to publick malevolence.

I would solicit, earnestly, intelligence from you, sir, while in London. I shall endeavour to procure the earliest information from all parts of the Continent. As I propose dedicating myself wholly to the service of my country, I shall stand in need of the aid of every friend of America; and believe me, when I say that I esteem none more capable of affording me that aid than those who inhabit the fertile banks of the Delaware.

If you can lead me into any channel of doing real service to the common cause, I flatter myself you are not disinclined; and though it should never be in my power to cancel the obligation, it will ever be my study to remember it.

I am your most humble and obedient servant,

JOSIAH QUINCY, JUN.

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