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To the Earl of Dartmouth



Maryland, December 20, 1775.

MY LORD: If constitutional allegiance to my King, a warm attachment to my country, and the most sanguine emotions for peace and permanent union between the parent State and her Colonies, will sufficiently expiate for epistolatory freedom, permit a Minister of the King of Kings to address a Minister of the King of Great Britain, France, Ireland, and North-America; for it is the language of my soul, that the precious American jewel may speedily and immoveably be set in the most effulgent diadem.

Your Lordship sustains a two-fold character: a soldier of the Lord of Lords, and Secretary of State for the Northern Department, under our rightful Sovereign. High and honourable offices, indeed. But every soldier is not an intrepid warrior; or, as a noble lord once expressed it, "there are many professors, but few possessors;" nor is every servant of the Crown infallible. In both these, every man at best is but a fallible being. This doctrine your Lordship once loved, being then a real follower of the Lamb; for I well remember several opportunities, and the happy and precious, moments of each, when we bowed together at the


sacred altar; at which, when I beheld a right honourable communicant, with his livery servants on his right hand and left, my soul was raised almost to the third heaven, and my spirits filled with evangelical love; for not many mighty, not many noble, are truly godly. As your Lordship' s condescension was so laudable, honourable, and scriptural, as to appear a professor of Christianity, a witness for God, and the truly humble soul, I trust and firmly believe that "the most fine gold is not yet become dim." To whom, then, shall I write or speak, in behalf of the miserable convulsed empire; for your Lordship, hath, I trust, eternal life at heart, and everlasting felicity, by faith, in full view,

The Parliament of Great Britain say, that they have a right to tax or bind the Americans in all cases whatsoever; to which they answer, "As they were born free, free they will be or die." And upon many of their hats there is this motto: "Freedom or death;" upon others, "God and our rights."

Since the battle of Lexington, I have been twice in eight of the thirteen United Colonies, namely: Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Newcastle, &c˙, and Maryland; all which, except New-York, are almost unanimous in the voice of liberty. Indeed, none (save a few officers under the Crown) are willing to be bound by the British Parliament in all cases whatsoever. The Americans declare, a master can lay no greater burden on a slave than to bind him in all cases whatsoever. These things the United Colonies have imbibed) and before this can reach your Lordship, Canada will, in all human probability, be added to the thirteen; for St˙ John' s and Montreal have, upon capitulation, surrendered, and the rest of the Province, in every other respect, bids fair for a general surrender, or subjection to the American side. In New-York City and Province, although there are, I verily believe, more friends to Government, as they call themselves, than all the rest of the Colonies together can produce, yet in the City and Province there is on the other side of the question a majority large enough to subdue them at any time; for instance, a few weeks ago, some of these friends appeared in the Province in opposition to the American voice, whereon a small parly went out immediately, who subdued and disarmed them. These friends, my Lord, are not worthy of the appellation; they are only sycophants. They flatter with their lips and pens, and deceive, I fear, your Lordship and others in Administration, from packet to packet. They have repeatedly insinuated that the New-England Governments have nothing else in view but independence. It is totally repugnant to truth. Before the sword was drawn, there could not possibly be greater loyalists. In the year 1769, I arrived first in America, and they daily manifested what loving subjects they were; and the dissenting clergy, also, in every opportunity, were particularly anxious to invoke the great Jehovah in behalf of their dread sovereign, of whom they speak in terms the most pathetick; also for all Governours and officers, as well as for others, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, might still be and flourish under his sceptre. Add to this, I justly may, the several conversations I have had with, and the private prayers I have heard by those gentlemen, concerning His Majesty, his crown and dignity; with all which every loyalist could but be perfectly well pleased. To these facts, my Lord, I have-not only been an ear-witness in one Colony, but in many; nay, even in Massachusetts-Bay and her capital.

Now, my Lord, for Christ' s sake attend faithfully.

About two months ago, I viewed the camps, Roxbury and Cambridge. The lines of both are impregnable; with forts (many of which are bomb-proof) and redoubts, supposing them to be all in a direction, are about twenty miles; the breastworks of a proper height, and in many places seventeen feet in thickness; the trenches wide and deep in proportion, before which lay forked impediments; and many of the forts, in every respect, are perfectly ready for battle. The whole, in a word, an admiration to every spectator; for verily their fortifications appear to be the works of seven years, instead of about as many months. At these camps are about twenty thousand men, well disciplined.


The Generals and other officers, in all their military undertakings, solid, discreet, and courageous; the men daily raving for action, and seemingly void of fear. There are many floating batteries, and also batteaus in abundance; besides this strength, ten thousand militia are ordered in that Government to appear on the first summons. Provisions and money there are very plenty, and the soldiers faithfully paid. The army in great order, and very healthy, and about six weeks ago lodged in comfortable barracks. Chaplains constantly attend the camps, morning and night; prayers as often offered up for peace and reconciliation, and the soldiers very attentive. The roads, at the time I viewed the camps, were almost lined with spectators, and thousands with me can declare the above, respecting the camps, to be a just description. But, my Lord, I have more facts to mention.

A Continental and Provincial currencies, to facilitate this great undertaking, are emitted, which circulate freely, and are daily exchanged for silver and gold. Their harbours by the spring will swarm with privateers. An Admiral is appointed, a court established, and the 3d instant, the Continental flag on board the Black Prince, opposite Philadelphia, was hoisted. Many of the Captains of those vessels, in the last war, proved their intrepidity to the world by their prizes, and some of them have already taken many valuable prizes which Government had ordered to Boston, and thereby must have much distressed the troops; all which the prints will particularize.

The appointment of the Continental and Provincial Congresses and Committees, your Lordship, without doubt, before now must be fully acquainted with. These sets of gentlemen, by virtue of the great privileges with which the Colonies have entrusted them, claim now the following prerogatives over the United Colonies: The Continental Congress is over all, under the King; the Provincials over the Committees, and the Committees over the Counties, The Congresses and Committees have so raised and regulated the militia and minute-men, whom they have raised almost in every County, that they make in every city and town the most warlike appearance. Saltpetre is made in abundance, and powder-mills constantly employed in many Provinces, and many believe that there is now in the possession of the Americans powder enough for three years. This, to me, is very obvious. Soon after General Gage collected the troops from the several Provinces into one body at Boston, the Congresses ordered all the shopkeepers not to sell their powder to fowlers and hunters, but to keep the same for the use of the Colonies; which, in general, was faithfully observed. Before this, a person might get a large quantity of powder almost at every large store or merchant' s shop, in every city, town, and county, on the Continent. Now, all this collected together, and what the mills have made, together with the great quantites taken at St˙ John' s, Montreal, other forts, and on the seas, must make an immense quantity; add to this, the constant employment of the mills, and a great number of privateers faithfully looking out for yours. And, my Lord, how is it possible for all store-ships to escape a fleet so large, which at this lime, I firmly believe, is composed of fifty sail, and by next spring I shall not marvel if their fleet be doubled.

Iron guns of the best quality have been made in America; and as they have plenty of iron and lead mines, they can make what quantity of cannon, shot, and bullets they please. But Administration have lately supplied them with a very valuable assortment of such stores. Rifles, infinitely better than those imported, are daily made in many places in Pennsylvania, and all the gunsmiths every where constantly employed. In this country, my Lord, the boys, as soon as they can discharge a gun, frequently exercise themselves therewith, some a fowling, and others a hunting. The great quantities of game, the many kinds, and the great privileges of killing, make the Americans the best marksmen in the world, and thousands support their families principally by the same, particularly riflemen on the frontiers, whose objects are deer and turkies. In marching through woods, one thousand of these riflemen would cut to pieces ten thousand of your best troops. I don' t, my Lord, speak at random, or write partially. I have travelled too much among these men to be insensible of their abilities.


O, my Lord! if your Lordship knew but one half what I know of America, your Lordship would not persist, but be instantly for peace, or resign. But, my Lord, construe this epistle as you please; nevertheless, my meaning is that it should not in the least convey, or even hint any thing about the legality or illegality of the unhappy dispute. Many-great and celebrated writers have moved every nerve, but hitherto in vain. What then can I do, who am but a babe? Not much, truly. But when a house is in flames, all run without distinction, some with buckets, some with grapplings, and others with engines, wishing they providentially may extinguish the fire. Now, my Lord, the British empire is really in flames. I cannot, therefore, be inactive. Suffer, then, the insignificant with the most significant, to help forward with something. I present, therefore, for your Lordship' s acceptance, an engine of facts. The carved works are but homely; but the essential parts are sound and substantial. Try them lawfully and faithfully, and I, by God' s permission, will pledge my life they will stand the test. Facts are at all times proof against the most inveterate foes. By way of appurtenances, I must add: Up the North river, in the Province of New-York, there is erected an impregnable fort, against which vessels cannot possibly, many minutes, survive. In the New-England Governments, batteries are already made before most of the sea-ports. The minute-men before mentioned, like firemen, have all things proper and ready to attend on the first alarm. The American coast, long as it is, both by land and sea, is faithfully watched, and posts are every where established. Whether, therefore, Administration have in view the east or west of the continent, it matters not. Set but a foot ashore to execute their plan, and the same will instantly find enemies. Nay, let thousands be landed, and they will immediately find swarms of foes; for the electrical posts, riding day and night, will soon make them sensible thereof. My Lord, Administration have not one friend they can call theirs, in every respect, that is a resident among the Americans. They have several, it is true, who for sordid gain act under the rose; but wo to them if they should be discovered. Many examples have been already made, and this may be relied on, that in a few months, as ways and means are now under consideration, Administration will, in every respect, in America, be friendless. The destroying of Falmouth, and Lord Dunmore' s Proclamation, proclaiming a jubilee to the slaves and convicts in Virginia, provided they repair to the royal standard in due time, have exasperated the Americans beyond description, and made the breach infinitely wider. A few days ago, his Lordship' s party was repulsed with great loss. His Lordship, my Lord, can do nothing but cause the men and treasure, now under his command, to be sacrificed and expended in vain; for he is surrounded by hundreds of the best riflemen, who have driven his troops out of their intrenchments, &c. Most, if not all, by this time, of His Majesty' s Governours are afloat, and rendered incapable of fulfilling your Lordship' s commands.

The most celebrated military authors are reprinted for the use of the young officers, that they may be furnished with every prerequisite against spring. The ship-carpenters are very busy in getting the rest of the privateers ready, and also other hands to equip them wholly for sailing.

Now, right honourable sir, what will you do? Where will your Lordship look? Where can Administration fix their ideas with the least view of success? Say, my Lord, that their troops are good; the Americans have again and again repulsed them. Not one plan of Administration hath had the wished-for success; in general they have turned out abortive. Say, further, that twenty or thirty thousand, nay, double the numbers, shall be sent to subdue the Americans. Twenty thousand (descending to the camp phrase) may nearly serve for a breakfast, or rather do for a relish, and so from time to time British troops may be transported for the American sacrifice. But Administration can, destroy all their sea-ports. I reply, a few months ago they might have wrought such devastation, but now they will find it impracticable. Some harbours are blocked up, batteries before others erected as above-mentioned, and when the icy impediments are dissolved in their harbours, no marvel,


my Lord, if some of the British armament, as well as transports or store-ships, be taken. About an hundred privateers, with the most intrepid marines, and those persons who last natural war immortalized their names, again chosen for captains, are, touching their schemes, no contemptible enemy by sea. Convinced I am fully, that an hundred thousand of the best troops Europe can raise will not subdue the Americans, nor make them acquiesce in the Parliamentary claims. Let Government say what they please in favour of their forces, remember, my Lord, the Americans have just such blood, the like courage, the same spirits, and are equal in colour and stature, and as well disciplined. Some of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, are to British dust returned, and in silent repose, while their sons and grandsons are struggling for their birth-rights; for they traditionally or constitutionally retain the idea of liberty, and with him of old say, "God forbid that we should sell the inheritance of our fathers."

Whether this will be believed or not, I don' t know; but one thing I know, albeit the King requesteth, nevertheless, like Naboth, they will resist even unto death. Blessed be God, we have no Jezebel to stir up His Majesty; for his consort is the best of queens, and as such the Americans extol Her Majesty daily. Perhaps, my Lord, this may be viewed as partiality; but I can assure your Lordship I write from conviction, and not from a partial spirit. If I am charged any where herein with partiality, (as it is most natural and also very fashionable now to act the sycophant, where one' s interest is,) I certainly flatter your Lordship, as I fear too many have; for I have no interest nor kindred here, nor hopes of interest for, or reward for any thing of this nature that I have done or can do. But, I have immense hopes and views. My time here is very short; and ere long I shall be in a world of spirits, where the most noble, the right honourable, and reverend, persons must all appear. I know not, therefore, how to give flattering titles unto man; for in so doing, my Maker would soon take me away.

If figuratively two persons may represent both parties in dispute, there is a striking similarity in sacred writ, with which your Lordship is perfectly acquainted, and by which I beg permission to mention the following things:

I view both sides, as to their precious blood, as good old Jacob viewed his sons, Joseph and Benjamin, and am equally with him unwilling that either should be slain. If the British troops must be represented by the elder brother, grieved to my very heart I must be to hear that he is sacrificed; and if the American forces may be compared to the younger, I shall equally lament his death. May God of his infinite mercy save both by a speedy accommodation. Benjamin hath repeatedly petitioned Joseph for redress of grievances; but Joseph would not receive his petitions, but made himself strange, and spake roughly unto him, charging him with having and holding unjustly Pharaoh' s cup, of which the poor lad is perfectly innocent. O! that Joseph would take Benjamin in his arms, and embrace him, for they are brothers. If Benjamin have erred, let the age and wisdom of Joseph overlook and obliterate all. Let him no longer refrain, but fall on his neck and kiss him, and let love and virtue reunite them. As Joseph embraced and owned Benjamin as his brother, and returned his money, so let the parent State embrace and own the Colonies without fee or reward, and instantly the sword on both sides will be sheathed; and then Benjamin as usual will go and carry corn and money to Joseph, and take his superb clothing in exchange. But if Joseph will yet refrain, and not be reconciled, Benjamin is determined to clothe himself with his own wool, and keep his money, and send his corn to other merchantmen. Let facts, my Lord, apologize for prolixity. I will conclude now with a few lines.

The Americans may be led with a hair; but they have too much English blood in them, are too well disciplined and too numerous, to be driven even by an hundred thousand of the best forces Government can raise. Where Government can produce one thousand on the Continent, America, with as much ease and expense, can produce ten thousand in opposition; for men, women and children, are against the proceedings of Administration throughout the


United Colonies, to a wonderful majority. The women, both old and young, being greatly irritated at the inflexibility of Administration, are not only willing their sons and brothers should turn out in the field, but also declare that they will give them up, and themselves likewise, as a sacrifice, before they will bow to Pharaoh' s task-masters. This makes the raising of troops on the Continent very easy. Let a person go into any province, city, town, or county, and ask the females, "Are you willing your sons or brothers should go for soldiers, and defend their liberties?" they would severally answer, "Yes, with all my soul; and if they won' t go, I won' t own them as my sons or brothers; for I' ll help myself, if there should be any need of mine. If I can' t stand in the ranks, I can help forward with powder, balls, and provisions;" and presently this will appear more pellucid. Last summer, I saw in Philadelphia a company of school-boys called the Academy Company, in their uniforms, with real arms and colours. Upon this I asked how many such companies were in the city, and for what they were designed; to which I was answered by a gentlewoman, the mother of two of this company, "There are three companies; and as to the design, they are to learn the art or theory of war; and if there should be any occasion for them in the field of battle, they will go, for they are all volunteers. But I, for my part, am, I do aver, sir, heartily willing to sacrifice my sons, believing that with such sacrifice God is well pleased; for he has hitherto marvellously blessed our arms, and conquered our enemies for us; and he who, in the days of his flesh, spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, will in the end, I doubt not, evince the world that he is conqueror." This, my Lord, is the language of the American women. Your Lordship knows it is generally the reverse with the English; the mothers' and sisters' lives are bound up in the boys.

But I am afraid I shall trespass on your Lordship' s patience; therefore, in the great name, and for the sake of the ever-blessed Trinity, I now beseech your Lordship to weigh thoroughly, and with patience, impartiality, and love, this narrative of facts; and may that ever-blessed, adorable person, Jesus Christ, the wonderful counsellor and prince of peace, give your Lordship a right judgment and understanding in all things, and counsel and influence Administration to act wisely, and repeal the acts in dispute, and so make peace.

I am, my Lord, your Lordship' s ready and willing servant, for Christ' s sake.

B˙ P.

P˙ S. Some months ago I fully intended to see your Lordship before now, but the prohibition of exportation taking place before I could finish my business here, hath rendered it very difficult for me to embark at present. The first eligible opportunity in the spring, if any should offer, I intend to embrace and embark for Europe.



* Born in the city of Oxford.

* Of the Lock-Chapel.

† Although Newcastle, &c˙, belong to Pennsylvania, yet as they in Assembly are distinctly represented, and also in the Congress, those Counties therefore are viewed as and called one of the United Colonies.

* Store-vessels bound to Boston, taken by the Continental Captains.

* Each riding at anchor before his Government, or as near as convenience will admit.

* Not rendering unto Caesar the things which be Caesar' s.