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If there be any honor in pursuing self-destruction
with inflexible passion--if national suicide be the perfection of
national glory, you may, with all the pride of criminal happiness,
expire unenvied and unrivalled. But when the tumult of war shall cease,
and the tempest of present passions be succeeded by calm reflection, or
when those, who, surviving its fury, shall inherit from you a legacy
of debts and misfortunes, when the yearly revenue scarcely be able to
discharge the interest of the one, and no possible remedy be left for
the other, ideas far different from the present will arise, and embitter
the remembrance of former follies. A mind disarmed of its rage feels no
pleasure in contemplating a frantic quarrel. Sickness of thought, the
sure consequence of conduct like yours, leaves no ability for enjoyment,
no relish for resentment; and though, like a man in a fit, you feel
not the injury of the struggle, nor distinguish between strength and
disease, the weakness will nevertheless be proportioned to the violence,
and the sense of pain increase with the recovery.

To what persons or to whose system of politics you owe your present
state of wretchedness, is a matter of total indifference to America.
They have contributed, however unwillingly, to set her above themselves,
and she, in the tranquillity of conquest, resigns the inquiry. The case
now is not so properly who began the war, as who continues it. That
there are men in all countries to whom a state of war is a mine of
wealth, is a fact never to be doubted. Characters like these naturally
breed in the putrefaction of distempered times, and after fattening
on the disease, they perish with it, or, impregnated with the stench,
retreat into obscurity.

But there are several erroneous notions to which you likewise owe a
share of your misfortunes, and which, if continued, will only increase
your trouble and your losses. An opinion hangs about the gentlemen
of the minority, that America would relish measures under their
administration, which she would not from the present cabinet. On this
rock Lord Chatham would have split had he gained the helm, and several
of his survivors are steering the same course. Such distinctions in
the infancy of the argument had some degree of foundation, but they now
serve no other purpose than to lengthen out a war, in which the limits
of a dispute, being fixed by the fate of arms, and guaranteed by
treaties, are not to be changed or altered by trivial circumstances.

The ministry, and many of the minority, sacrifice their time in
disputing on a question with which they have nothing to do, namely,
whether America shall be independent or not. Whereas the only question
that can come under their determination is, whether they will accede to
it or not. They confound a military question with a political one, and
undertake to supply by a vote what they lost by a battle. Say she shall
not be independent, and it will signify as much as if they voted
against a decree of fate, or say that she shall, and she will be no more
independent than before. Questions which, when determined, cannot be
executed, serve only to show the folly of dispute and the weakness of
disputants.

From a long habit of calling America your own, you suppose her governed
by the same prejudices and conceits which govern yourselves. Because you
have set up a particular denomination of religion to the exclusion of
all others, you imagine she must do the same, and because you, with an
unsociable narrowness of mind, have cherished enmity against France and
Spain, you suppose her alliance must be defective in friendship.
Copying her notions of the world from you, she formerly thought as you
instructed, but now feeling herself free, and the prejudice removed, she
thinks and acts upon a different system. It frequently happens that
in proportion as we are taught to dislike persons and countries, not
knowing why, we feel an ardor of esteem upon the removal of the mistake:
it seems as if something was to be made amends for, and we eagerly give
in to every office of friendship, to atone for the injury of the error.
But, perhaps, there is something in the extent of countries, which,
among the generality of people, insensibly communicates extension of the
mind. The soul of an islander, in its native state, seems bounded by
the foggy confines of the water's edge, and all beyond affords to him
matters only for profit or curiosity, not for friendship. His island
is to him his world, and fixed to that, his every thing centers in it;
while those who are inhabitants of a continent, by casting their eye
over a larger field, take in likewise a larger intellectual circuit,
and thus approaching nearer to an acquaintance with the universe, their
atmosphere of thought is extended, and their liberality fills a wider
space. In short, our minds seem to be measured by countries when we are
men, as they are by places when we are children, and until something
happens to disentangle us from the prejudice, we serve under it without
perceiving it.

In addition to this, it may be remarked, that men who study any
universal science, the principles of which are universally known, or
admitted, and applied without distinction to the common benefit of all
countries, obtain thereby a larger share of philanthropy than those
who only study national arts and improvements. Natural philosophy,
mathematics and astronomy, carry the mind from the country to the
creation, and give it a fitness suited to the extent. It was not
Newton's honor, neither could it be his pride, that he was an
Englishman, but that he was a philosopher, the heavens had liberated him
from the prejudices of an island, and science had expanded his soul as
boundless as his studies.

COMMON SENSE.

PHILADELPHIA, March, 1780.




THE CRISIS IX. (HAD AMERICA PURSUED HER ADVANTAGES)


HAD America pursued her advantages with half the spirit that she
resisted her misfortunes, she would, before now, have been a conquering
and a peaceful people; but lulled in the lap of soft tranquillity, she
rested on her hopes, and adversity only has convulsed her into action.
Whether subtlety or sincerity at the close of the last year induced the
enemy to an appearance for peace, is a point not material to know; it is
sufficient that we see the effects it has had on our politics, and that
we sternly rise to resent the delusion.

The war, on the part of America, has been a war of natural feelings.
Brave in distress; serene in conquest; drowsy while at rest; and in
every situation generously disposed to peace; a dangerous calm, and
a most heightened zeal have, as circumstances varied, succeeded each
other. Every passion but that of despair has been called to a tour
of duty; and so mistaken has been the enemy, of our abilities
and disposition, that when she supposed us conquered, we rose the
conquerors. The extensiveness of the United States, and the variety of
their resources; the universality of their cause, the quick operation of
their feelings, and the similarity of their sentiments, have, in every
trying situation, produced a something, which, favored by providence,
and pursued with ardor, has accomplished in an instant the business of
a campaign. We have never deliberately sought victory, but snatched it;
and bravely undone in an hour the blotted operations of a season.

The reported fate of Charleston, like the misfortunes of 1776, has at
last called forth a spirit, and kindled up a flame, which perhaps
no other event could have produced. If the enemy has circulated a
falsehood, they have unwisely aggravated us into life, and if they have
told us the truth, they have unintentionally done us a service. We were
returning with folded arms from the fatigues of war, and thinking and
sitting leisurely down to enjoy repose. The dependence that has been
put upon Charleston threw a drowsiness over America. We looked on the
business done--the conflict over--the matter settled--or that all which
remained unfinished would follow of itself. In this state of dangerous
relaxation, exposed to the poisonous infusions of the enemy, and having
no common danger to attract our attention, we were extinguishing, by
stages, the ardor we began with, and surrendering by piece-meal the
virtue that defended us.

Afflicting as the loss of Charleston may be, yet if it universally rouse
us from the slumber of twelve months past, and renew in us the spirit of
former days, it will produce an advantage more important than its loss.
America ever is what she thinks herself to be. Governed by sentiment,
and acting her own mind, she becomes, as she pleases, the victor or the
victim.

It is not the conquest of towns, nor the accidental capture of
garrisons, that can reduce a country so extensive as this. The
sufferings of one part can never be relieved by the exertions of
another, and there is no situation the enemy can be placed in that does
not afford to us the same advantages which he seeks himself. By dividing
his force, he leaves every post attackable. It is a mode of war that
carries with it a confession of weakness, and goes on the principle of
distress rather than conquest.

The decline of the enemy is visible, not only in their operations, but
in their plans; Charleston originally made but a secondary object in the
system of attack, and it is now become their principal one, because
they have not been able to succeed elsewhere. It would have carried a
cowardly appearance in Europe had they formed their grand expedition, in
1776, against a part of the continent where there was no army, or not
a sufficient one to oppose them; but failing year after year in their
impressions here, and to the eastward and northward, they deserted their
capital design, and prudently contenting themselves with what they can
get, give a flourish of honor to conceal disgrace.

But this piece-meal work is not conquering the continent. It is a
discredit in them to attempt it, and in us to suffer it. It is now full
time to put an end to a war of aggravations, which, on one side, has
no possible object, and on the other has every inducement which honor,
interest, safety and happiness can inspire.



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