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Perhaps it may
be said that I live in America, and write this from interest. To this
I reply, that my principle is universal. My attachment is to all the
world, and not to any particular part, and if what I advance is right,
no matter where or who it comes from. We have given the proclamation of
your commissioners a currency in our newspapers, and I have no doubt you
will give this a place in yours. To oblige and be obliged is fair.

Before I dismiss this part of my address, I shall mention one more
circumstance in which I think the people of England have been equally
mistaken: and then proceed to other matters.

There is such an idea existing in the world, as that of national honor,
and this, falsely understood, is oftentimes the cause of war. In a
Christian and philosophical sense, mankind seem to have stood still
at individual civilization, and to retain as nations all the original
rudeness of nature. Peace by treaty is only a cessation of violence for
a reformation of sentiment. It is a substitute for a principle that
is wanting and ever will be wanting till the idea of national honor be
rightly understood. As individuals we profess ourselves Christians, but
as nations we are heathens, Romans, and what not. I remember the late
Admiral Saunders declaring in the House of Commons, and that in the time
of peace, "That the city of Madrid laid in ashes was not a sufficient
atonement for the Spaniards taking off the rudder of an English sloop
of war." I do not ask whether this is Christianity or morality, I ask
whether it is decency? whether it is proper language for a nation to
use? In private life we call it by the plain name of bullying, and
the elevation of rank cannot alter its character. It is, I think,
exceedingly easy to define what ought to be understood by national
honor; for that which is the best character for an individual is the
best character for a nation; and wherever the latter exceeds or
falls beneath the former, there is a departure from the line of true
greatness.

I have thrown out this observation with a design of applying it to Great
Britain. Her ideas of national honor seem devoid of that benevolence of
heart, that universal expansion of philanthropy, and that triumph over
the rage of vulgar prejudice, without which man is inferior to himself,
and a companion of common animals. To know who she shall regard or
dislike, she asks what country they are of, what religion they profess,
and what property they enjoy. Her idea of national honor seems to
consist in national insult, and that to be a great people, is to be
neither a Christian, a philosopher, or a gentleman, but to threaten with
the rudeness of a bear, and to devour with the ferocity of a lion. This
perhaps may sound harsh and uncourtly, but it is too true, and the more
is the pity.

I mention this only as her general character. But towards America she
has observed no character at all; and destroyed by her conduct what she
assumed in her title. She set out with the title of parent, or mother
country. The association of ideas which naturally accompany this
expression, are filled with everything that is fond, tender and
forbearing. They have an energy peculiar to themselves, and, overlooking
the accidental attachment of common affections, apply with infinite
softness to the first feelings of the heart. It is a political term
which every mother can feel the force of, and every child can judge of.
It needs no painting of mine to set it off, for nature only can do it
justice.

But has any part of your conduct to America corresponded with the title
you set up? If in your general national character you are unpolished and
severe, in this you are inconsistent and unnatural, and you must have
exceeding false notions of national honor to suppose that the world can
admire a want of humanity or that national honor depends on the
violence of resentment, the inflexibility of temper, or the vengeance of
execution.

I would willingly convince you, and that with as much temper as the
times will suffer me to do, that as you opposed your own interest by
quarrelling with us, so likewise your national honor, rightly conceived
and understood, was no ways called upon to enter into a war with
America; had you studied true greatness of heart, the first and fairest
ornament of mankind, you would have acted directly contrary to all that
you have done, and the world would have ascribed it to a generous cause.
Besides which, you had (though with the assistance of this country)
secured a powerful name by the last war. You were known and dreaded
abroad; and it would have been wise in you to have suffered the world to
have slept undisturbed under that idea. It was to you a force existing
without expense. It produced to you all the advantages of real power;
and you were stronger through the universality of that charm, than any
future fleets and armies may probably make you. Your greatness was so
secured and interwoven with your silence that you ought never to have
awakened mankind, and had nothing to do but to be quiet. Had you been
true politicians you would have seen all this, and continued to draw
from the magic of a name, the force and authority of a nation.

Unwise as you were in breaking the charm, you were still more unwise
in the manner of doing it. Samson only told the secret, but you have
performed the operation; you have shaven your own head, and wantonly
thrown away the locks. America was the hair from which the charm was
drawn that infatuated the world. You ought to have quarrelled with no
power; but with her upon no account. You had nothing to fear from any
condescension you might make. You might have humored her, even if there
had been no justice in her claims, without any risk to your reputation;
for Europe, fascinated by your fame, would have ascribed it to your
benevolence, and America, intoxicated by the grant, would have slumbered
in her fetters.

But this method of studying the progress of the passions, in order to
ascertain the probable conduct of mankind, is a philosophy in politics
which those who preside at St. James's have no conception of. They know
no other influence than corruption and reckon all their probabilities
from precedent. A new case is to them a new world, and while they are
seeking for a parallel they get lost. The talents of Lord Mansfield can
be estimated at best no higher than those of a sophist. He understands
the subtleties but not the elegance of nature; and by continually
viewing mankind through the cold medium of the law, never thinks of
penetrating into the warmer region of the mind. As for Lord North, it
is his happiness to have in him more philosophy than sentiment, for he
bears flogging like a top, and sleeps the better for it. His punishment
becomes his support, for while he suffers the lash for his sins,
he keeps himself up by twirling about. In politics, he is a good
arithmetician, and in every thing else nothing at all.

There is one circumstance which comes so much within Lord North's
province as a financier, that I am surprised it should escape him,
which is, the different abilities of the two countries in supporting the
expense; for, strange as it may seem, England is not a match for America
in this particular. By a curious kind of revolution in accounts, the
people of England seem to mistake their poverty for their riches; that
is, they reckon their national debt as a part of their national wealth.
They make the same kind of error which a man would do, who after
mortgaging his estate, should add the money borrowed, to the full value
of the estate, in order to count up his worth, and in this case he would
conceive that he got rich by running into debt. Just thus it is with
England. The government owed at the beginning of this war one hundred
and thirty-five millions sterling, and though the individuals to whom it
was due had a right to reckon their shares as so much private property,
yet to the nation collectively it was so much poverty. There are as
effectual limits to public debts as to private ones, for when once the
money borrowed is so great as to require the whole yearly revenue to
discharge the interest thereon, there is an end to further borrowing;
in the same manner as when the interest of a man's debts amounts to
the yearly income of his estate, there is an end to his credit. This is
nearly the case with England, the interest of her present debt being
at least equal to one half of her yearly revenue, so that out of ten
millions annually collected by taxes, she has but five that she can call
her own.

The very reverse of this was the case with America; she began the war
without any debt upon her, and in order to carry it on, she neither
raised money by taxes, nor borrowed it upon interest, but created it;
and her situation at this time continues so much the reverse of yours
that taxing would make her rich, whereas it would make you poor. When we
shall have sunk the sum which we have created, we shall then be out of
debt, be just as rich as when we began, and all the while we are doing
it shall feel no difference, because the value will rise as the quantity
decreases.

There was not a country in the world so capable of bearing the expense
of a war as America; not only because she was not in debt when she
began, but because the country is young and capable of infinite
improvement, and has an almost boundless tract of new lands in store;
whereas England has got to her extent of age and growth, and has not
unoccupied land or property in reserve. The one is like a young heir
coming to a large improvable estate; the other like an old man whose
chances are over, and his estate mortgaged for half its worth.

In the second number of the Crisis, which I find has been republished
in England, I endeavored to set forth the impracticability of conquering
America. I stated every case, that I conceived could possibly happen,
and ventured to predict its consequences. As my conclusions were drawn
not artfully, but naturally, they have all proved to be true. I was upon
the spot; knew the politics of America, her strength and resources, and
by a train of services, the best in my power to render, was honored with
the friendship of the congress, the army and the people.



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