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Cosmopolitan No. V



To the Inhabitants of the AMERICAN Colonies.

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

In many instances we insensibly glide into error, judging by the force of habits and the association of ideas. Having once investigated the relation subsisting between objects, and apprehended the consequences resulting from that relation, in some early period, we seldom trace subsequent propositions, which are the subjects of our disquisitions, to first principles or evident matters of fact. We are too apt to avoid the pain and labour of a tedious thorough scrutiny, to rest satisfied upon former determinations, although their grounds are continually variating, and circumstances so changed as to reverse inferences of earlier times. It is natural to the mind, in her pursuits, to acquiesce, so soon as she perceives a deduction from some presumed or commonly received truth; not adverting to the argument in


the intermediate stages, or scanning the evidence in the progress, she takes the shortest way to a decision, and substitutes habitual presumptions in the room of proof and conviction. This is safe and convenient in reasoning upon permanent ideas and the immutabilities of nature; but things that are constantly fluctuating demand a different procedure. The relation between different communities is incessantly variating, touching their numbers, power, and riches. One may be labouring under the weight of her own greatness, while the other is but beginning to exist; the latter in many respects may, from natural causes, equal the former in her progress, and even surpass, unconscious of her own strength. There is, perhaps, no instance where these principles have more fallaciously operated, than in comparing the combined strength of the United Colonies with that which Britain is capable of exerting against them, She is called, by a figure of speech, the Parent State. This family term has innocently betrayed many into that groundless opinion, that she possessed parental authority, and could with as much ease chastise and force submissions from the Colonies, as the parent of a family corrects and governs his feeble offspring. Hence it is that expressions borrowed from the domestick economy have been so often prostituted to a political purpose.

We can all recollect, and I am sure discernment and sensibility must blush for them, persons unmeaningly and ridiculously arguing themselves into a belief of falsehood, from the mere force of names. Say they: "Can a child oppose the power of the parent? Has not she a right to govern at pleasure, and by her corrections cure it of its inwardness, and reduce it to a sense of duty and filial obedience? Shall a child complain of a smart inflicted for its good? or is it possible for the parent not to have the interest of its own likeness near at heart?" The truth is, the expression only marks our reciprocal relations in point of time and circumstances, not right of authority and superiority of strength. The present aggregate collection of British inhabitants did not give being to the Americans, or afford them any degree of support. The blood that circulates through our veins flowed from the same fountain with theirs, only with greater purity. They claimed the rights of primogeniture; these they enjoyed. They possessed the splendid inheritance of our common ancestors, while, like younger sons, we became adventurers abroad in a distant country. In our infantile indigency and impotent minority, we looked with admiration on the comparative greatness and strength of our elder brothers. At this period were those habits generated, and language formed, that are handed down to the present day. So great is the force of custom, that it is scarcely possible now, at first blush, to feel ourselves in any degree equal to those which were once so much our superiors; as a son or a pupil seldom loses, even in manhood, those impressions of inferiority which he received under the culture of his parent, or instruction of his master. This is all fallacy, and leads to delusion. But if any one still insists that America is the child, she is certainly a sturdy, large-boned one, well-proportioned in all its parts, in the bloom of vigour and health, who has lost its natural mother, and has both right and ability to renounce an old, stern, encroaching step-dame, not, indeed, worn out by age, but greatly impaired with the refinements of luxury and the arts of debauchery; a dame who, for the sake of proging for her spurious Scottish connexions, chooses to quarrel with the genuine heirs. Refusing the indelicate milk, and weaned from the breast of parental luxuries, we shall soon ripen into manhood. Let us contemplate the sources of our sufficiency, hug to the bosom and explore the bowels of our own Country, learn our strength, and the arts of improving it.

It is necessary, in all examinations, to divest ourselves of all prejudices, to dismiss from our breast every prepossession, to attend to realities, scan the arguments, and determine upon the stubborn evidence of facts. The strength of a country, as remarked in my last, arises from the joint concurrence of numbers, of riches considered as the internal resources of war, of situation, and the temper and spirit of its inhabitants. America, considered in this four-fold point of view, swells tp an amazing, an inconceivable pitch of greatness. No country under heaven can reach her height, or compare with her wide expansions. The planter, the farmer, the manufacturer, and the mechanick, with


their dependencies, make up the principal part of those three million inhabitants of the British Colonies.

These are the sinews, the safety and ornament of a country in the day of invasion, being formed to fatigue, and having their nerves strung by hardy industry. It is said that a fifth part of the three millions, at a modest computation, is capable of joining the train-bands, and bearing arms in defence of the rights of their Country. This gives us a muster-roll of six hundred thousand fighting men, all from their childhood allowed the use and skilled in the exercise of the gun, the spade, and the pick-axe; many thousands of whom have been wont to traverse the seas, to crowd the sail, and ply the oar. Can the mother, as she is called, marshal so many belligerent sons attached to her cause? Is it possible numbers should be wanting from this multitude to recruit our armies, and man our ships and lesser craft? Can Britain, with her utmost force destinable to America, of twenty, or five and twenty thousand, cope with six, some say eight or twelve hundred thousand determined and well-regulated militia? Can she preserve her conquest against that increasing torrent of population, which, in the course of half a century, will give us double her numbers? Has not the skill and experience, acquired in the last war, given us Generals and commanders equal to any service, capable of any achievements? Will not the present martial school, which has already advanced us centuries in the military art, which has made the soldier of the citizen, called the husbandman from his farm, conveyed the knowledge of war to the inhabitant of the village and the cottager of the mountain, which has made the children of the streets, with a semblance of a war, emulate in measuring their steps to the fife and the drum — I say, will not such amazing ardour and application leave to posterity the character of a General, that shall equal if not obscure the names of a Marlborough or a Wolfe?

Our numbers do not end here. A large catalogue of virtuous matrons, useful wives, industrious daughters, and active sons, follow in the train, and plead for a part in the merits of the day. These, by manufacturing, providing, supplying, and even cultivating, render essential services, and form a numerous band of useful auxiliaries. These will all, immediately or indirectly, contribute something to support the endangered goddess, to sustain the temple of liberty, to strengthen the great eagle' s nest, for the structure of which all animals are said to furnish some rough materials. Is there any deduction to be made? Will a small, doubting, discontented, and disaffected party lessen the account? Can their numbers ever deserve mentioning, unless it is to mark their insignificancy, and our own importance and unanimity? Will they balance, in the comparison, those zealous votaries and enterprising characters that, from foreign parts, will be constantly flocking to America, as an asylum from persecution and oppression, or repairing to our standard to assist in displaying the banners of justice, liberty, and truth? Has not the accession of a Lee already more than cancelled their whole importance?

The riches of a country, considered as the resources of war, do not necessarily or immediately consist in gold or in diamonds. These have neither intrinsick worth or direct utility. An army can neither be fed upon diamonds, clothed with gold, or fight with powder made of silver; they may be the medium of exchange, the means of procuring to a destitute country the implements for fighting and the necessaries for war. Where these abound, the country is rich, and a paper currency is equal to the mines of Peru; where they are wanting, all the treasures of the east would be but glittering poverty. An ample supply, and independent resources of food to eat, and raiment to put on, of lumber and cordage, of powder and ball, of guns and spears, with courage to wield them, is martial opulence. Mountains of gold can produce no more, and, where these abound, mountains of gold are mountains of dross. If America then yields such a produce, she has in herself, touching a war, the stamina of exhaustless wealth. On this question we are not left to wander in the dark regions of uncertain conjecture, or to traverse territories unexplored. The effects and produce of present improvements demonstrate its certainty. Taking past experience and known examples for our guide, let us examine it a little in detail. Standing on this ground, without divination, we may extend our knowledge into futurities. It is presumed that the


omnipotence of Parliament will never be able to arrest the sun in her course, subvert the order of nature, alter the charter of Heaven, or interdict vegetation. If, then, we may judge of the future from what we have experienced, that annual produce that has sustained the Continent the last, may do the same for the present, or any year yet to come, with an increase only in proportion to the increase of its inhabitants. We shall also have in reserve that vast quantity exported to the West-Indies, and to a number of other ports. Surely, if we could feed ourselves, and so many of our hungry neighbours, in a time of luxury and extravagancy, we can do the former in a time when every individual is roused to industry, and piqued to economy. The army that heretofore have been garrisoned in our Towns, and the navy that have invested our coast, were likewise supplied from our stalls and our granaries. These drains being hedged up by bulwarks and intrenchments, must make provisions flow back upon our hands in an uncommon surplusage. No country has less to fear on this score than ourselves, notwithstanding the chimerical idea of some, of starving us into submission. I appeal to facts, to daily observations. The interior parts of the Continent are like one capacious store-house, immensely furnished with every necessary, or like a living fountain constantly flowing. From this source we see our capital roads alive with passing droves and labouring teams. By these means supplies at our camps are become much more ample than their wants, and the farmer is unable to vend his marketing. His complaints will probably increase. Those subduers of the wood who have received their nourishment from the older improvements, who, by selling the hemlock and cutting the shrub, have been annually planting Towns in the wilderness, and threatening to reach the Pacifick Ocean by their extended settlements, will, for the future, supply others. We shall see their fields rejoicing with wheat, and their hills skipping with flocks and with herds.

The article of clothing may be an acquisition of more, but not of lasting difficulty. Our wants will perfect the arts of supplying. Necessity will lead to inventions, and drive to exertions. The skill of producing the raw materials is continually improving; with this skill the knowledge of manufacturing keeps equal pace, and both are hastening to the zenith. Nothing can be wanting but application and assiduity. Wool and flax may be made to abound. The produce of the several climates is various. One part of our Country is adapted for grazing and the raising of sheep; others are famed for different productions. Flax, if properly managed, may generally grow in every climate. It may be annually increased to any degree, and wool, likewise, in an amazing proportion. The manufacturing of saltpetre at length wears a promising aspect. In different parts, attempts are making with various success. In the school of experience we may soon acquire the needed skill. Like the electrick fluid, it exists in almost every subject. The plain, diligent, persevering hand is all that is requisite. The fingers of the fair may even assist in the business. Materials at large, for every expedient, are the common produce for each particular Province, either for ammunition, guns, fortresses, and potent ships of war. The one and the other, and all of these are now in making. The Colony of the Massachusetts alone, as appears by a representation to the Lords of Trade, have furnished five hundred sail of ships, and employed near as many thousand sailors. The other Colonies have done in the same proportion. A Country that could do this for the increase of its opulence, can do something effectual for the defence of its maritime borders.

The millions that were remitted for trinkets and superfluities will now cease. The stoppage of those silver and golden streams that have been, like the vulture upon the entrails of our Country, consuming its vitals, will now have an opposite effect, and increase the fund of our riches. This alone will almost carry us triumphant through the expenses of the day.

Wide is the difference between assaulting and being assaulted, and this in some proportion to the distance of the invading power from the invaded. The question is not whether we are able to conquer Great Britain, as has been sometimes asked, nor whether we are competent to the levying of troops equal to their transportation, and capable of carrying the war home to her own doors, or able to


maintain a conflict, and furnish resources in her very bowels, sufficient for her conquest. Suppose us increased to any given number, I hold we are totally unequal to the task. The only question is, whether we are equal to a defence against such a very remote assailant. I assert that we are; and nothing but the curse of cowardice in us, or the power of miracles in them, can ever yield them the laurels of victory.

The strength of the invaded depends much upon the situation and nature of the country they are in possession of. Nature sometimes not only supplies the place of art, but greatly exceeds and even baffles its most laboured efforts. Of all countries, America is the worst calculated for a subjugation by foreign force, and the best adapted for its own defence. Did she, with Roman intrepidity, know her internal strength, she might bid defiance to the conjoined efforts of all Europe. To elude the force of prejudice and habitual influences, which are too apt to sway the mind, let the reader paint to himself Great Britain, stripped of all resources from the Colonies, maimed and crippled as she is. Let him view her as described in my last number, sinking under the enormous sum of an hundred and forty-two millions sterling, with an acquired fatality of taking the worst method to every end, and using the most expensive means for the accomplishment of every purpose. Let him paint the merchant, the manufacturer, the mechanick, and the labourer, murmuring for business, loaded with taxes, and distressed for bread. Let him paint, in lively sensations, her internal convulsions and vital contortions, with the capital of the Kingdom in determined opposition to the supremacy of Government. Let him paint, but in modest colours, the rendings of parties and the clashings of debate, from the influence of the idols of the people — a Pitt, a Camden, a Burke, a BarrĂ©, a Wilkes, and others, the political heroes of the day. A Pitt, who has pawned his understanding and pledged his reputation for the success of America. A Burke, who has vowed by all that is great and tremendous, by all that is dear to him, both here and hereafter, if he can be properly supported by the people, to bring the planners of the present measures to merited punishment. Let him paint Ireland as she is, and France and Spain as they may be. Let him still go on painting other objects, too many to be enumerated, that must and will influence. Then let him pause, and, by the force of imagination, conjure up from the midst of the sea a new world, a large rugged Continent, above an hundred times as big as the Island of Great Britain, and a thousand leagues distant from her, with a coast extending from north to south more than three thousand miles along the Atlantick, with an infinite variety of ports, natural harbours, and capacious bays. Let him suppose this ideal Continent stretching itself back thousands of miles westward, with a continued irregularity of mountains, rivers, valleys, and hills, together with an uninterrupted spread of forts, retrenchments, moats, ramparts, bastions, parapets, guards, counter-guards, covert-ways, and other lines of defence, no matter whether natural or artificial. Let him suppose three millions of people to cover the face of this fortified territory, and in the domestick possession of those natural bulwarks. Suppose ten or twelve hundred thousand of these inhabitants to be trained to arms, to have anticipated an invasion, to have taken their posts, and to be prepared for a defence, with resources and barracks on the spot. Suppose them united in one object, directed by prudence, animated by zeal, and regulated by the wisest of men — a Continental Congress. Suppose a well-organized and disciplined army of twenty, thirty, fifty, or an hundred thousand, as the occasion may be, intrenched on the frontiers as guards in advance, with experienced leaders in command, and ordnance for use, to prevent a pervasion of the country. Let him suppose a main body of eight or ten hundred thousand in reserve, to be in possession of the interior works, and fully competent, in conjunction with others, for the raising provisions, and the purposes of husbandry, tillage, and manufacturing. In such a situation, let the reader give further loose to the extravagance of imagination, and suppose some one inhabitant of Great Britain, perhaps a Minister of State, romantickly mad enough to project the conquest of such a country, the blockade of all her harbours, and the destruction of all her trade. Let him still wander in the regions of fancy, and suppose Great


Britain, which, to give the argument its utmost force, he may call the Parent State, infatuated by the magnificence of her empty pomp, and mistaking the size of her sickly corpulence for vigorous strength, should rashly attempt the daring enterprise. Let him suppose her ships destined to guard those numerous ports, commodious for trade, to discharge their broadsides at boards and brickbats, to starve to submissions, and to hedge in commerce from the whole globe. Let him further suppose, and in sober seriousness if possible, her sending her hackneyed troops in partial drizzlings, from a peace establishment, by companies and regiments, to the amount of ten, fifteen, twenty, or it may be thirty thousand, with orders to pervade and traverse the Continent, compel subjections, secure the conquest, and to inflict on opposers the punishment due to treason and rebellion. I say, in such a supposed case, would not Americans, as indifferent spectators, view such operations as frantick, weak, and impracticable? Would they hesitate in pronouncing the man who projected it a subject for bedlam, the nation who adopted it strangely bewildered and consigned to destruction, and the tools who were to execute it prisoners of war and victims for slaughter? or the people of the Continent little pigmies, food for cranes, or great poltroons, fit only for slaves and vassals? Otherwise, could success possibly attend them, or conquest ultimately await them? Let the inhabitants of such a Continent only secure their own locks, their natural advantages, and they could break to pieces the brittle lines of a marching camp. The perfidious Philistines could never bind them, nor the soft persuasions of the treacherous Delilahs in their own bosoms long deceive them. Britain, in the attempt, might possibly be crushed beneath the falling weight of her massy pillars, with her lords and her nobles; but the Continent would survive the shock unhurt.

That the above is justly descriptive of the American situation, however astonishing to the unthinking and timorous, is certainly true. Her numerous harbours, framed by nature and improved by art, can never be blocked up by a British navy. Our own fleets may soon be their equal match. Our trade, which is a jewel, a precious prize that every commercial State must wish to acquire, cannot long be much obstructed by cutters and tenders. It may rather command respect. The alliances and the fleets of every power in Europe, the British ships may, for a time, harass, plague, injure, and distress, but America must, at last, rise superior to all her arts to deceive and exertions to subdue; and the day which crowns our liberty, if obtained by the point of the sword, must seal Britain' s melancholy doom to an eternal duration. These prostituted maidens of the sea may sputter and spit their fiery venom on the borders of the ocean; they cannot, like the Trojan horse, enter our inland Towns, and from their bellies pour out armed battalions. Possibly we must abandon some of our comrnercial Cities to their relentless rage, and invite our retiring friends to exchange the benefits of commerce for the tillage of the earth, and to embrace in its stead the bosom of cultivation, until innocency and liberty shall rise supremely triumphant, and the tide of ministerial corruption cease to flow.

An army of twenty thousand may undoubtedly secure themselves on islands and peninsulas, by intrenchments, ships, and batteries, both floating and permanent. They cannot force American lines defended by numbers, resolution, and bravery. But admitting they should, and attempt to penetrate the country, fortified as it is by a continued succession of hills, valleys, rocks, swamps, rivers, fences, walls, trees, and woods, which are so many natural ramparts, breastworks, and redoubts; these will constantly defend our militia from the fire of the enemy, and as constantly embarrass and impede their march, tied up as they are to the regular pomp and trappings of war. Such a wild profusion of rustick intrenchments, as are the appendages of every farm, pass, and road, are commodious for sallies, retreats, and seasonable succours. They are the revival of antiquity, the defences of the ancient warriors of the world, which consisted in fences made of the trunks and the branches of trees, of unformed heaps of earth, and walls of stone. Behind these they secured themselves against the attack of their foes, and used their own weapons with security and success. Regular invaders must penetrate such a country with prodigious loss, being incessantly exposed


to a surrounding fire of concealed promiscuous detachments, parties that are flanking, and formidable bodies in their front and their rear. Being constantly dogged, galled, and annoyed, they must be frequently decoyed or drove into ambuscades, until they are enfeebled and wasted away. In the beautiful phraseology of the Eastern dialect, "The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it. Wo to him that buildeth a Town with blood, and established a City by iniquity! Behold, is it not of the Lord of Hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and weary themselves for very vanity?"

Habakkuk, chap. ii, v˙ 11. Surely ruin must await them from every quarter, and destruction spring out of every corner. In the arts of the bush, and a skirmishing fight, we stand unrivalled. As is said of the natives, we may approach like the fox, fly like the bird, and fight like the Numidian wolf or Getulian lion.

Let us again put probability upon the rack, and suppose their forces augmented to a number sufficient for traversing the Continent, with destruction stalking by their side, ravaging, wasting, and destroying as they march. Can they garrison the places through which they pass, and occupy a progress of eighteen hundred miles? Can they stretch, in their advances, from the North to the South, and sweep, by their ranks, from the Atlantick to the seas of the West? Will not the Americans, wronged and insulted, oppressed and plundered as they are, fill in after them, start up in every corner, hill, and valley, and gather fresh strength from increased opposition? Having marched from one end of the Continent to the other, from Nova-Scotia to Georgia, and from Georgia to Nova-Scotia, the same route will still remain. Like a vibrating pendulum, in the open air, they will leave no traces of a conquest behind them. The annual increase of sixty thousand will more than supply the posts of our slain; and industry, frugality, and economy, will fully compensate their ravages and depredations; and, as our resources are permanent and internal, we can endure the struggle for ages. To give them the least prospect of a conquest, they should have potent armies at once operating in an hundred different places, which is, happily, out of their power. This is no theoretical fiction; it is founded on recent experience, and the sagacious policy of one of the brightest luminaries of the age, Pitt, (whose praises are with all nations, and will be resounded to latest ages,) in the last war, being sensible that a single effort, carried on against the extended territory of the single Province of Canada, could never bring the enemy to a subjection. He therefore planned his measures to attack the French in several different parts at the same time, in all their places of strength. Accordingly expeditions went on. General Amherst, with a body of twelve thousand men, was to attack Crown Point; General Wolfe was at the opposite quarter, to enter the River St˙ Lawrence, and undertake the siege of Quebeck, the capital of the French-American Dominions; while General Prideaux and Sir William Johnson were to attempt a fort near the cataract of Niagara, &c˙, &c.

Much has been said, more might be said, on the spirit and temper of the Americans; we might minutely trace it, in its causes, qualities, and consequences. But, in tenderness to the patience of the reader, I must deny myself the pleasure of expatiating on this copious and animating subject. Suffice it to say, that the mind of the American has been gradually forming to its present tenor. By a constant succession of innovated oppressions and innovating measures, he has been roused to reflection. By one complex idea, he has connected liberty, religion, and happiness, in one mutual and indissoluble bond. He has seen with a forbearing spirit the one and the other of these repeatedly struck at by usurpation and corruption. Increasing oppressions, which have made his blood occasionally swell high in his veins, have at length hardened doubt into a determined resolution. He has traced ministerial manoeuvres, in all their various windings and future consequences; he could see nothing but the horrors of servitude attendant on a resignation. The pitiful exertions of the Court, when seated as judge in its own case; denouncing destruction to this and the neighbouring Colonies, by the Port, Regulating, Murder, and Fish Bills, filled his heart to its full dimensions. While, from musing on these things, the sacred fire burnt within, the battle of Lexington


caused it to burst, and, like a conflagration, to spread over the whole Continent, not in sudden flashes, but in a constant, fervent, inextinguishable glow, such as every genuine lover of his Country feels animating and warming his own breast. It has now a fixed predominancy; nor is there danger of a decline from inconstancy of make. It is interwoven with his constitution, improved by education, enlivened by religion, confirmed by habits, and increased by every motive that can play on the human heart. It is therefore solid and inflexible. This ought to inspire mutual confidence, mutual affection, and joint vigorous exertions in the common cause.

Having in a general way collected the materials, and delineated the power of Great Britain and America respecting the present dispute, resulting from the conjoined forces of the numbers, riches, situation, and temper of each contending State, and placed them in a contrasting point of view, let the reader recollect the whole of my two last numbers. Fixing the contents fairly in his mind, let him examine if the description is in substance true; then let him compare his ideas, and see which is the strongest, considering the one as invading, the other defending. The conclusion may be certain, and the process the same as determining mathematical propositions. Measuring on this scale, I have determined for myself; and I dare to prophesy, and for its accomplishment I dare to risk my all, that if the Americans are virtuous, resolute, and brave, it is not all the ships, armies, guns, and bayonets, that Great Britain can send, can conquer our spirits and subdue our Country. She might as well storm the planets by kites, or conflict with sky-rockets the thunderbolts of Heaven.