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Cosmopolitan, No. III



To the Inhabitants of the AMERICAN Colonies.

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

We are strangely inattentive to the events of past ages. We read of the rise of Kingdoms and the ruin of Empires, together with the causes that produced them, as we peruse the fables of antiquity. Never giving ourselves the trouble of comparing and applying former occurrences, which are the beacons to warn posterity, with our own times, we turn over a few pages, are pleased with the tale, close the book, and the impressions die away. The consequences flowing from certain actions are much the same in all ages. We may derive knowledge, through the channels of history, from the fountains of remote time. By observing the behaviour of others, we gain experience for our own conduct, and are taught what things to pursue after, and what to avoid. It is likewise not uncommon, when the thunder begins to jumble at a near distance, when the political atmosphere is black and gloomy, when, amidst the scenes of war, misery, and distress, serious prospects open to view, to be lost in the contemplation of present difficulties, and to forget the origin, progress, and those links in the chain which have led to such, threatening calamities. This knowledge is, however, necessary, as it furnishes materials of immediate utility. I must, therefore, my dear countrymen, beg your full recollection of the historical sketch in my last, and your equal attention to the contents of the present; that by comparing the intrigues, oppressions, practices, and the secret progress of slavery in: our own State, which had brought it to totter on the verge of destruction, with those which have proved fatal to the freedom of others, you may be led to adore the goodness of that guardian angel who, as we were insensibly gliding into the most abject state, of humiliation, has, we trust, kindly snatched us, from, the jaws of ruin, Being no courtier, I shall produce you the materials for the comparison with freedom, uninfluenced, by private pique or party spirit; as a descendant of one who, in search of liberty, found it in a desert, as a member of a community struggling for its rights, I shall do it with seriousness and becoming sensibility.

I shall take the Massachusetts Province, only, as an


instance; not only because the stabs she received were the stabs of America, but because similar oppressions, management, and arts of subjugation, were pursued in all the other Colonies.

Taking, then, a part for the whole, I assert, and will prove it, that America has been trembling under the rod of tyranny for several years; that her neck has been galled by the yoke, and her spirits, for a time, almost subdued; that the shackles have been forged and put upon her hands; and, judging of what was to come from what we felt, had they been riveted, we should have been the servants of servants, the most despicable of God' s creation. I assert, that we have enjoyed little more than the formalities, without the real advantages of liberty; that, under the habits of regularity, real anarchy, confusion, and concealed tyranny, had made an amazing progress. This is the ill-shaped monster into which our Government has gradually been forming. The cockatrice, though hatched in an earlier period, could not stretch itself until nurtured by the fostering hand of its recent nurses. They brooded over it, gave it genial warmth, and made it a brat in their own likeness. I assert, further, as matter of opinion, that the destruction of the tea, and the assumption of government into the hands of the people, was the happy dawn of a bright and glorious day; that at this instant, notwithstanding fire and fagot are spreading desolation far and wide, the western world is now in blossom; that the flames that have consumed the dwellings of our countrymen will serve only to whet up the edge of our courage, to add a brilliancy to our sufferings, light up the lamps of fame; and that the trump of renown, in the mouths of revering posterity, will hail us the bulwarks of general liberty and the friends of mankind. Be this as it may, one thing is certain: that a state of war, that the consequences of independency, that no state can be more depressing to the spirits of Englishmen, than the state we have been in for years that are past.

Two instances may show how a dread of power had blunted the ardour of an Englishman' s resolution. When the tool of a Ministerial despot, from the wantonness of revenge, had drove the Assembly from their State-House in Boston, how did they resent the gross affront? They came to what they called a constitutional stand: maintained their ground for A while, and then (I had almost said shamefully) gave it up. Britons, upon discovering an arbitrary, vindictive display of prerogatives, would have returned to their legal and usual seat of residence, and proceeded to business.

The conduct of the people upon the surrender of the Castle, that important fortress, erected by the Province, its defence and security, must be imputed either to an affectionate scrupulosity of displeasing the Parent State, or to such sentiments of the heart; as I blush to name. In honour to my countrymen, I hope it was the former. But no one effectual step was taken to recover it from the hands of Ministerial butchers, It is true, the Assembly addressed the Justice of the King, by a dry remonstrance. It might have been but the spirit of Englishmen, had we addressed the hearts of our enemies by more forcible weapons, and bound the traitorous betrayer of his Country' s rights in fetters of iron, and packed him off to his royal master. This perfidious wretch has since dared to exult in the success of his treachery. It is too much for mortals to recollect. Horum meminisse non possum sine indignatione quadarn. But not to dwell upon particulars:

Let any one recollect the uninterrupted series of oppressions, cruelty, and barbarity, under which we have laboured, from the Grenvillian to the late pitiful exertions of the present Minister, and he must confess that no sorrows for their origin, nature, and circumstances, have been like our sorrows. He must confess what I have advanced, that we have sufferfed all the horrours of slavery, under the formalities of a free Government. I say, let him recollect, for its description would baffle the force of genius, and exceed the boldest flights of fancy. On this subject language is barren, and imagination wing-broken.

While the wounds we had received from the Stamp Act were still bleeding, the Revenue Laws, fretted the sore, and caused it to gape anew. These acts were thedesigned criterions of British authority. Had we been deceived,


coaxed, frightened, or forced into a recognition of this monstrous power, American liberty would have been gone forever. The wise and the virtuous saw this, but their line of conduct was the cold line of prudence. The times required a more spirited procedure. But men' s minds were forming for something future. The period is now arrived. While our chair, as to the purposes of doing good, was filled with a mere machine, wheeled about by Ministerial agency, whose hands were tied up and formed for mischief by sought-for instructions, the people were sinking under the capricious weight of the same authority. While our Board had become the simple skeletons of power, without nerves or sinews, and, in some of its hebdomadal sessions, tools to the duped, our House was a well formed mass of matter, with feverish pulses, but without real strength or energy. It was wearied, dragooned, dogged, and harassed into unworthy compliances. I do not mention it as matter of blame, but a subject of pity. It struggled to the utmost; what could it do? Its greatest merit was to bear gracefully; its greatest strength, to lay still. Our misfortune was the fault of the times, the temper of the day, the policy of the Continent. How could it be otherwise, when the spirit of the Continent could see, as it did see, the legislative authority of one Colony entirely suspended, and the Representatives of another drove, by the mouth of cannon and the points of bayonets, from their usual and legal place of residence, with as much insignificancy as a marching posse of regulars, with a corporal at their head, crosses a green? Thus the bare badge and semblance, of a Governour, with all the pageantry of power, and a band of mercenaries at his heels, (those curses of the day, and scourges of mankind,) bursted the sacred bands of society asunder, and dried up the sources of justice. This perversion of faith has been the arts of the little despots of the day. Instructions first wrote for, and then made the pretence for opposing every attempt in the Assembly for the good of their constituents. The interest of the Governour and that of the people consisting in opposite extremes, when, by a prostitution of the laws in being, he could not be the author of positive evil, he was a never failing obstruction to future good, by proscribing the advantages of new laws. Every discouragement,check, and restriction,was practised, to goad down our necks to a vile dependence. Hedged out from the advantages of Government, such a mockery from power, such a delusion of command, has heightened the colours of our slavery; such an insult upon our feelings has made servitude more servile. The American, generous and humane, has suffered his private virtue to betray him into a weakness in politicks. He too prone in excusing long the servants of the people, the first dawnings, and even repeated instances of tyranny, he imputes to any cause, rather than an oppressive design. But when he discovers a long premeditated plan; when he sees himself impoverished, plundered, robbed, and distressed, he becomes determined and daring, a tide of just indignation swells his veins, and neither the ornaments of power nor the trappings of state will sooth the fervour of his spirits. They may lift the culprit to higher view, and render his fall the more conspicuous. But to return to our history.

It was not enough to see our Representatives contemned, insulted, held in duresse, by a mere fang of power; not enough to be shut out from the advantages of enacting wholesome laws, and a printer who dared to publish the truth, marked out for destruction; not enough to see law, justice, and the principles of a free Constitution, set at defiance — but the very shadows of freedom must be puffed away by the contaminated breath of a Minister. Is it possible that a King of the Brunswick line should stoop from the dignity of his station to prescribe the form of a preamble to a Provincial law? That he should instruct the representative of his own virtues to assent to no law which contained in its purview words purporting the authority by which it was enacted? Is it possible that an assembly of freemen should submit to the wanton restriction, as it leads to servitude and all the absurdities of the Tresillian doctrine? I repeat it from memory, but for its confirmation appeal to the Records of the House — the Assembly strangely complied. Was there any occult meaning, any magick threatening the supremacy of Parliament, any treason, any thing that looked like riots, routs, unlawful assemblies,


or combinations of a dangerous tendency, that these five words, "by authority of the same," must be proscribed and forever struck out, shamefully banished the code of our Provincial laws? Was the very form of liberty so odious in the eyes of the "best of Princes," that the most obsequious of his subjects could not be indulged with its mere shadow? I say shadow — I blush for my countrymen — I speak it with indignation, nothing else remained. I beg pardon for being ludicrous upon a subject so melancholy. I feel a sacred loyalty for Kings and the Representatives of Majesty, but the transaction merits consummate contempt.

Other badges, or rather effects of slavery, were the unconstitutional Board of Commissioners, and its twin sister, the Court of Admiralty. These two hopeful children of oppression have been constantly merchandising in cruelty, knavery, injustice, and bribery. However black these charges may seem, they can be proved by evidence and supported by arguments. The former of these monsters had a numerous offspring, without property or sentiment, of pimps, clerks, and tide-waiters, who rioted on the spoils of the people, living by plunder and peculation. The latter, rendered despicable to an odious degree by some extraordinary decisions,was well calculated to enslave and procure submissions, and, by its expansions; to be destructive of that jewel in the English Constitution, trial by juries.

The egregious violation of our charter, in the independency of our Governour, was completing the tragedy, and productive of the worst of evils. This opened new scenes. Unchecked, and without control from the governed, he assumed airs, prerogatives wantoned in all their licentious rigour, power grown rampant, opposition ineffectual, and every moving popular principle, except the tongues of the oppressed, was sealed in silence. The liberty of the press was basely, was infamously attacked by this dignified bribed oppressor — a privilege ever dear to Englishmen, as it is an engine fruitful of mighty events, in battering down the strong holds of the powerful. It should always be viewed with jealousy, and defended at every hazard. Tyrants have often felt its force, and wreaked their malice against it. Says the ingenious Hume, "It is sufficiently known that arbitrary power would steal in upon as," we' re we not extremely watchful to prevent its progress, and were there not an easy way of conveying the alarm from one end of the Kingdom to the other. The spirit of the people must frequently be roused, in order to curb the ambition of the Court, and the dread of that spirit' s being roused must be employed to prevent that ambition. Nothing so effectual to this purpose as the liberty of the press, by which all the learning, wit, and genius of the nation may be employed on the side of liberty, and every one be animated to its defence. "It is from the efficacy of this that our opposition is so respectable, our unanimity so ample. It is equally open to the Court and the Country, to the man in publick life, and the private speculator, who may have the world for his theatre, and the publick for the object of his beneficence, while buried in obscurity, and confined to the smoke of his own chimney. In this way, many have been the watchings in our day, long the lucubrations, great the toils, and constant the labours, of some obscure individuals, God knows, for the good of their Country. Yet very contracted must have been their sphere, and useless their private efforts, had they been confined to that narrow circle into which the lot of Providence had cast them. But this liberty of the press, which is of common, right the palladium of freedom, important as it is, and useful as it must be, has been attacked with impunity by the sacrilegious hand of a pensioned Governour.

I must reserve the remainder of this catalogue, which blackens the escutcheons of an Hutchinson, and gives him a plenitude of infamy, to some future number. I think this, at least, is very apparent from the adduced instances: that if our disease was not slavery itself, it had most of its threatening symptoms, and was hastening fast to a crisis; if it was riot the worst we had to fear, it Was what Denmark, France, and Spain, died of. We are now in a fair way of recovery; let us not relapse by our own supineness, inattention, or cowardice.

Worcester, Massachusetts, November 10, 1775.