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Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in London to a Friend



My opinion is not a whit changed from what it was last winter. Ministers and Parliaments cannot alter common sense. A majority in both Houses is devoted to the Minister, and the Minister to the invisible power which rules in the cabinet. The landed interest are as ignorant as the trading interest are venal. Hence the desire of the country gentlemen to tax America, and hence the addresses of several Towns to pursue the war. The Ministers promote and receive, with a greedy pleasure, these addresses, as they equally assist in imposing upon the King, and keeping them in office. A few circumstances have happened, which the mass of the people do not understand, but which men of discernment say have lulled the Kingdom into a most fatal errour. The loss of the American trade has not been felt, owing to the large orders from Spain for the flota, from the Baltick and Germany, owing to the peace between Russia and the Porte, and the troubles in Poland having ceased. These orders came very opportunely, together with larger remittances from America than usual. The very considerable quantity of grain from America, and the advanced prices of oil and tobacco, have enabled the Americans (except those in Boston) to discharge their debts this year better than formerly. This prodigious influx of money has been placed in the stocks for a little temporary interest, (and this has kept up the funds,) in expectation that the American trade will, in a short time, be opened again. My opinion is, that the American trade will never be opened again; that the Colonies are lost. Owing to the temporary orders which I have already explained, some weak people persuade themselves, that if the American trade should be lost, we shall not suffer by it. How ignorant are those men! Is the consumption of three millions of people no loss? Such men deserve no notice. Time alone can undeceive them. Six months from this date, this Country will begin to awake, and not sooner. Disputes of another complexion will happen next summer, all of them originating in this ruinous American war. I am confident there will be no more petitions from America, and I am also confident that, as soon as the Delegates to the Continental Congress are informed of the treatment their petition has met with, a system of civil government, for that great Country, will make its appearance, that people here have no idea of; and that foreign assistance, which intelligent men know very well was offered to them a few months ago, will be accepted, on condition of granting to that foreign Power certain exclusive commercial advantages. From that instant Great Britain must date her decline, and I fear her downfall. America has offered to compromise this unhappy difference. She wishes most


ardently for a reconciliation with Great Britain. But such is the false policy of this unhappy reign, no distinction seems to be made between the duty of subjects and the condition of slaves. America is ready and willing to submit to the absolute authority of Parliament to regulate and control her trade in whatever mode, channel, or restriction, Parliament shall think proper, if the idea of taxation is totally done away, and all the acts since 1763 are repealed. But if a revenue is insisted upon, fix a sum in proportion to what is raised here, and she will pay it, provided she may have an open trade, because she can buy the articles she has hitherto bought of us cheaper elsewhere, which will enable her to pay the required sum. In a word, she will give us either trade or revenue, but not both. She asks only to be put upon the same footing with ourselves. But it must not be. The resolution at St˙ James' s is against her. Though the Court is not a little embarrassed by the failure of the Russian negotiation, application was made for twenty thousand Russians, to be sent to America in the spring. It has met with a negative at Petersburgh. The idea of the Bedford party is, to prosecute a littoral war in America next summer. The Fleet and Army must be supplied with provisions from England. Reflect for a moment on the extreme folly of making Smithfield the shambles of America. The Lord Mayor might prevent this. Every pound of mutton sent to America costs Government two shillings at least. How long can the landed interest support this expense? Every tax has been continued (except a small temporary diminution of the land tax) that supported the late glorious war. It was an increase of trade that enabled us to bear this continuation of taxes. But the Elector of Hanover may possibly get money by this American war. If five Regiments of his Troops are taken into British pay, their former pay out of the revenues of Hanover is saved of course, and goes clear into his pocket. He got a hundred thousand Pounds last year by the job of Somerset House. Parliament meets to grant money; the Ministers cannot go on without it; they have expended every shilling of last year' s supplies. Therefore it was called so early that there might be no stop to carrying on the American war. Astonishing infatuation!