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What, I ask, in that
case, would have been your conduct towards her? For that will point out
what it ought to be now. The problems and their solutions are equal,
and the right line of the one is the parallel of the other. The question
takes in every circumstance that can possibly arise. It reduces politics
to a simple thought, and is moreover a mode of investigation, in which,
while you are studying your interest the simplicity of the case will
cheat you into good temper. You have nothing to do but to suppose that
you have found America, and she appears found to your hand, and while
in the joy of your heart you stand still to admire her, the path of
politics rises straight before you.

Were I disposed to paint a contrast, I could easily set off what you
have done in the present case, against what you would have done in that
case, and by justly opposing them, conclude a picture that would make
you blush. But, as, when any of the prouder passions are hurt, it is
much better philosophy to let a man slip into a good temper than to
attack him in a bad one, for that reason, therefore, I only state the
case, and leave you to reflect upon it.

To go a little back into politics, it will be found that the true
interest of Britain lay in proposing and promoting the independence of
America immediately after the last peace; for the expense which Britain
had then incurred by defending America as her own dominions, ought to
have shown her the policy and necessity of changing the style of the
country, as the best probable method of preventing future wars and
expense, and the only method by which she could hold the commerce
without the charge of sovereignty. Besides which, the title which she
assumed, of parent country, led to, and pointed out the propriety,
wisdom and advantage of a separation; for, as in private life, children
grow into men, and by setting up for themselves, extend and secure the
interest of the whole family, so in the settlement of colonies large
enough to admit of maturity, the same policy should be pursued, and the
same consequences would follow. Nothing hurts the affections both of
parents and children so much, as living too closely connected, and
keeping up the distinction too long. Domineering will not do over those,
who, by a progress in life, have become equal in rank to their parents,
that is, when they have families of their own; and though they may
conceive themselves the subjects of their advice, will not suppose them
the objects of their government. I do not, by drawing this parallel,
mean to admit the title of parent country, because, if it is due any
where, it is due to Europe collectively, and the first settlers from
England were driven here by persecution. I mean only to introduce the
term for the sake of policy and to show from your title the line of your
interest.

When you saw the state of strength and opulence, and that by her own
industry, which America arrived at, you ought to have advised her to set
up for herself, and proposed an alliance of interest with her, and in
so doing you would have drawn, and that at her own expense, more real
advantage, and more military supplies and assistance, both of ships and
men, than from any weak and wrangling government that you could exercise
over her. In short, had you studied only the domestic politics of a
family, you would have learned how to govern the state; but, instead of
this easy and natural line, you flew out into every thing which was
wild and outrageous, till, by following the passion and stupidity of the
pilot, you wrecked the vessel within sight of the shore.

Having shown what you ought to have done, I now proceed to show why it
was not done. The caterpillar circle of the court had an interest
to pursue, distinct from, and opposed to yours; for though by the
independence of America and an alliance therewith, the trade would have
continued, if not increased, as in many articles neither country can go
to a better market, and though by defending and protecting herself,
she would have been no expense to you, and consequently your
national charges would have decreased, and your taxes might have been
proportionably lessened thereby; yet the striking off so many places
from the court calendar was put in opposition to the interest of the
nation. The loss of thirteen government ships, with their appendages,
here and in England, is a shocking sound in the ear of a hungry
courtier. Your present king and ministry will be the ruin of you; and
you had better risk a revolution and call a Congress, than be thus led
on from madness to despair, and from despair to ruin. America has set
you the example, and you may follow it and be free.

I now come to the last part, a war with France. This is what no man in
his senses will advise you to, and all good men would wish to prevent.
Whether France will declare war against you, is not for me in this place
to mention, or to hint, even if I knew it; but it must be madness in you
to do it first. The matter is come now to a full crisis, and peace is
easy if willingly set about. Whatever you may think, France has behaved
handsomely to you. She would have been unjust to herself to have acted
otherwise than she did; and having accepted our offer of alliance she
gave you genteel notice of it. There was nothing in her conduct reserved
or indelicate, and while she announced her determination to support her
treaty, she left you to give the first offence. America, on her part,
has exhibited a character of firmness to the world. Unprepared and
unarmed, without form or government, she, singly opposed a nation
that domineered over half the globe. The greatness of the deed demands
respect; and though you may feel resentment, you are compelled both to
wonder and admire.

Here I rest my arguments and finish my address. Such as it is, it is a
gift, and you are welcome. It was always my design to dedicate a Crisis
to you, when the time should come that would properly make it a Crisis;
and when, likewise, I should catch myself in a temper to write it, and
suppose you in a condition to read it. That time has now arrived, and
with it the opportunity for conveyance. For the commissioners--poor
commissioners! having proclaimed, that "yet forty days and Nineveh shall
be overthrown," have waited out the date, and, discontented with their
God, are returning to their gourd. And all the harm I wish them is, that
it may not wither about their ears, and that they may not make their
exit in the belly of a whale.

COMMON SENSE.

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 21, 1778.

P.S.--Though in the tranquillity of my mind I have concluded with a
laugh, yet I have something to mention to the commissioners, which, to
them, is serious and worthy their attention. Their authority is derived
from an Act of Parliament, which likewise describes and limits their
official powers. Their commission, therefore, is only a recital, and
personal investiture, of those powers, or a nomination and description
of the persons who are to execute them. Had it contained any thing
contrary to, or gone beyond the line of, the written law from which
it is derived, and by which it is bound, it would, by the English
constitution, have been treason in the crown, and the king been subject
to an impeachment. He dared not, therefore, put in his commission what
you have put in your proclamation, that is, he dared not have authorised
you in that commission to burn and destroy any thing in America. You are
both in the act and in the commission styled commissioners for restoring
peace, and the methods for doing it are there pointed out. Your last
proclamation is signed by you as commissioners under that act. You
make Parliament the patron of its contents. Yet, in the body of it, you
insert matters contrary both to the spirit and letter of the act, and
what likewise your king dared not have put in his commission to you. The
state of things in England, gentlemen, is too ticklish for you to run
hazards. You are accountable to Parliament for the execution of that act
according to the letter of it. Your heads may pay for breaking it, for
you certainly have broke it by exceeding it. And as a friend, who would
wish you to escape the paw of the lion, as well as the belly of the
whale, I civilly hint to you, to keep within compass.

Sir Harry Clinton, strictly speaking, is as accountable as the rest; for
though a general, he is likewise a commissioner, acting under a superior
authority. His first obedience is due to the act; and his plea of being
a general, will not and cannot clear him as a commissioner, for that
would suppose the crown, in its single capacity, to have a power of
dispensing with an Act of Parliament. Your situation, gentlemen, is nice
and critical, and the more so because England is unsettled. Take heed!
Remember the times of Charles the First! For Laud and Stafford fell by
trusting to a hope like yours.

Having thus shown you the danger of your proclamation, I now show you
the folly of it. The means contradict your design: you threaten to lay
waste, in order to render America a useless acquisition of alliance to
France. I reply, that the more destruction you commit (if you could do
it) the more valuable to France you make that alliance. You can destroy
only houses and goods; and by so doing you increase our demand upon her
for materials and merchandise; for the wants of one nation, provided it
has freedom and credit, naturally produce riches to the other; and,
as you can neither ruin the land nor prevent the vegetation, you would
increase the exportation of our produce in payment, which would be to
her a new fund of wealth. In short, had you cast about for a plan on
purpose to enrich your enemies, you could not have hit upon a better.

C. S.




THE CRISIS VIII. ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND.


"TRUSTING (says the king of England in his speech of November last,)
in the divine providence, and in the justice of my cause, I am firmly
resolved to prosecute the war with vigor, and to make every exertion
in order to compel our enemies to equitable terms of peace and
accommodation." To this declaration the United States of America, and
the confederated powers of Europe will reply, if Britain will have war,
she shall have enough of it.

Five years have nearly elapsed since the commencement of hostilities,
and every campaign, by a gradual decay, has lessened your ability to
conquer, without producing a serious thought on your condition or your
fate.



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