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We occupy a country, with but few towns, and whose riches
consist in land and annual produce. The two last can suffer but little,
and that only within a very limited compass. In Britain it is otherwise.
Her wealth lies chiefly in cities and large towns, the depositories
of manufactures and fleets of merchantmen. There is not a nobleman's
country seat but may be laid in ashes by a single person. Your own
may probably contribute to the proof: in short, there is no evil which
cannot be returned when you come to incendiary mischief. The ships in
the Thames, may certainly be as easily set on fire, as the temporary
bridge was a few years ago; yet of that affair no discovery was ever
made; and the loss you would sustain by such an event, executed at a
proper season, is infinitely greater than any you can inflict. The East
India House and the Bank, neither are nor can be secure from this sort
of destruction, and, as Dr. Price justly observes, a fire at the latter
would bankrupt the nation. It has never been the custom of France and
England when at war, to make those havocs on each other, because the
ease with which they could retaliate rendered it as impolitic as if each
had destroyed his own.

But think not, gentlemen, that our distance secures you, or our
invention fails us. We can much easier accomplish such a point than any
nation in Europe. We talk the same language, dress in the same habit,
and appear with the same manners as yourselves. We can pass from
one part of England to another unsuspected; many of us are as well
acquainted with the country as you are, and should you impolitically
provoke us, you will most assuredly lament the effects of it. Mischiefs
of this kind require no army to execute them. The means are obvious, and
the opportunities unguardable. I hold up a warning to our senses, if you
have any left, and "to the unhappy people likewise, whose affairs are
committed to you."* I call not with the rancor of an enemy, but the
earnestness of a friend, on the deluded people of England, lest, between
your blunders and theirs, they sink beneath the evils contrived for us.


* General [Sir H.] Clinton's letter to Congress.

"He who lives in a glass house," says a Spanish proverb, "should never
begin throwing stones." This, gentlemen, is exactly your case, and you
must be the most ignorant of mankind, or suppose us so, not to see on
which side the balance of accounts will fall. There are many other modes
of retaliation, which, for several reasons, I choose not to mention. But
be assured of this, that the instant you put your threat into execution,
a counter-blow will follow it. If you openly profess yourselves savages,
it is high time we should treat you as such, and if nothing but distress
can recover you to reason, to punish will become an office of charity.

While your fleet lay last winter in the Delaware, I offered my service
to the Pennsylvania Navy Board then at Trenton, as one who would make
a party with them, or any four or five gentlemen, on an expedition down
the river to set fire to it, and though it was not then accepted, nor
the thing personally attempted, it is more than probable that your own
folly will provoke a much more ruinous act. Say not when mischief is
done, that you had not warning, and remember that we do not begin it,
but mean to repay it. Thus much for your savage and impolitic threat.

In another part of your proclamation you say, "But if the honors of
a military life are become the object of the Americans, let them seek
those honors under the banners of their rightful sovereign, and in
fighting the battles of the united British Empire, against our late
mutual and natural enemies." Surely! the union of absurdity with madness
was never marked in more distinguishable lines than these. Your rightful
sovereign, as you call him, may do well enough for you, who dare not
inquire into the humble capacities of the man; but we, who estimate
persons and things by their real worth, cannot suffer our judgments to
be so imposed upon; and unless it is your wish to see him exposed, it
ought to be your endeavor to keep him out of sight. The less you have
to say about him the better. We have done with him, and that ought to
be answer enough. You have been often told so. Strange! that the answer
must be so often repeated. You go a-begging with your king as with a
brat, or with some unsaleable commodity you were tired of; and though
every body tells you no, no, still you keep hawking him about. But
there is one that will have him in a little time, and as we have no
inclination to disappoint you of a customer, we bid nothing for him.

The impertinent folly of the paragraph that I have just quoted, deserves
no other notice than to be laughed at and thrown by, but the principle
on which it is founded is detestable. We are invited to submit to a man
who has attempted by every cruelty to destroy us, and to join him in
making war against France, who is already at war against him for our
support.

Can Bedlam, in concert with Lucifer, form a more mad and devilish
request? Were it possible a people could sink into such apostacy they
would deserve to be swept from the earth like the inhabitants of Sodom
and Gomorrah. The proposition is an universal affront to the rank which
man holds in the creation, and an indignity to him who placed him
there. It supposes him made up without a spark of honor, and under no
obligation to God or man.

What sort of men or Christians must you suppose the Americans to be,
who, after seeing their most humble petitions insultingly rejected;
the most grievous laws passed to distress them in every quarter; an
undeclared war let loose upon them, and Indians and negroes invited to
the slaughter; who, after seeing their kinsmen murdered, their fellow
citizens starved to death in prisons, and their houses and property
destroyed and burned; who, after the most serious appeals to heaven, the
most solemn abjuration by oath of all government connected with you, and
the most heart-felt pledges and protestations of faith to each other;
and who, after soliciting the friendship, and entering into alliances
with other nations, should at last break through all these obligations,
civil and divine, by complying with your horrid and infernal proposal.
Ought we ever after to be considered as a part of the human race? Or
ought we not rather to be blotted from the society of mankind, and
become a spectacle of misery to the world? But there is something in
corruption, which, like a jaundiced eye, transfers the color of itself
to the object it looks upon, and sees every thing stained and impure;
for unless you were capable of such conduct yourselves, you would never
have supposed such a character in us. The offer fixes your infamy. It
exhibits you as a nation without faith; with whom oaths and treaties
are considered as trifles, and the breaking them as the breaking of a
bubble. Regard to decency, or to rank, might have taught you better; or
pride inspired you, though virtue could not. There is not left a step in
the degradation of character to which you can now descend; you have put
your foot on the ground floor, and the key of the dungeon is turned upon
you.

That the invitation may want nothing of being a complete monster,
you have thought proper to finish it with an assertion which has no
foundation, either in fact or philosophy; and as Mr. Ferguson, your
secretary, is a man of letters, and has made civil society his study,
and published a treatise on that subject, I address this part to him.

In the close of the paragraph which I last quoted, France is styled the
"natural enemy" of England, and by way of lugging us into some strange
idea, she is styled "the late mutual and natural enemy" of both
countries. I deny that she ever was the natural enemy of either; and
that there does not exist in nature such a principle. The expression
is an unmeaning barbarism, and wholly unphilosophical, when applied to
beings of the same species, let their station in the creation be what
it may. We have a perfect idea of a natural enemy when we think of the
devil, because the enmity is perpetual, unalterable and unabateable. It
admits, neither of peace, truce, or treaty; consequently the warfare is
eternal, and therefore it is natural. But man with man cannot arrange
in the same opposition. Their quarrels are accidental and equivocally
created. They become friends or enemies as the change of temper, or the
cast of interest inclines them. The Creator of man did not constitute
them the natural enemy of each other. He has not made any one order of
beings so. Even wolves may quarrel, still they herd together. If any two
nations are so, then must all nations be so, otherwise it is not nature
but custom, and the offence frequently originates with the accuser.
England is as truly the natural enemy of France, as France is of
England, and perhaps more so. Separated from the rest of Europe, she
has contracted an unsocial habit of manners, and imagines in others the
jealousy she creates in herself. Never long satisfied with peace,
she supposes the discontent universal, and buoyed up with her own
importance, conceives herself the only object pointed at. The expression
has been often used, and always with a fraudulent design; for when the
idea of a natural enemy is conceived, it prevents all other inquiries,
and the real cause of the quarrel is hidden in the universality of the
conceit. Men start at the notion of a natural enemy, and ask no other
question. The cry obtains credit like the alarm of a mad dog, and is
one of those kind of tricks, which, by operating on the common passions,
secures their interest through their folly.

But we, sir, are not to be thus imposed upon. We live in a large world,
and have extended our ideas beyond the limits and prejudices of an
island. We hold out the right hand of friendship to all the universe,
and we conceive that there is a sociality in the manners of France,
which is much better disposed to peace and negotiation than that of
England, and until the latter becomes more civilized, she cannot expect
to live long at peace with any power.



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