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I conceive likewise a horrid idea in
receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to
the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the
orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one.
There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which
threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he
succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect
mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where
conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the
fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard
equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and
partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their
arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage,
and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which
passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate
forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of
Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to
give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are
all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were
the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the
resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to
chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up
its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons
and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is
the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state
that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous
destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see
it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your
ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know
our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was
collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him
that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to
ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with
a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred
miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest
part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our
retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it,
that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to
meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not
seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected
inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had
never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our
new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall
be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed
and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By
perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue;
by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils--a
ravaged country--a depopulated city--habitations without safety, and
slavery without hope--our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses
for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall
doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet
remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it
unlamented.

COMMON SENSE.

December 23, 1776.




THE CRISIS II. TO LORD HOWE.

"What's in the name of lord, that I should fear
To bring my grievance to the public ear?"
CHURCHILL.

UNIVERSAL empire is the prerogative of a writer. His concerns are with
all mankind, and though he cannot command their obedience, he can assign
them their duty. The Republic of Letters is more ancient than monarchy,
and of far higher character in the world than the vassal court of
Britain; he that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in
defence of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to "Defender
of the Faith," than George the Third.

As a military man your lordship may hold out the sword of war, and call
it the "ultima ratio regum": the last reason of kings; we in return
can show you the sword of justice, and call it "the best scourge of
tyrants." The first of these two may threaten, or even frighten for a
while, and cast a sickly languor over an insulted people, but reason
will soon recover the debauch, and restore them again to tranquil
fortitude. Your lordship, I find, has now commenced author, and
published a proclamation; I have published a Crisis. As they stand, they
are the antipodes of each other; both cannot rise at once, and one of
them must descend; and so quick is the revolution of things, that your
lordship's performance, I see, has already fallen many degrees from
its first place, and is now just visible on the edge of the political
horizon.

It is surprising to what a pitch of infatuation, blind folly and
obstinacy will carry mankind, and your lordship's drowsy proclamation
is a proof that it does not even quit them in their sleep. Perhaps you
thought America too was taking a nap, and therefore chose, like Satan
to Eve, to whisper the delusion softly, lest you should awaken her. This
continent, sir, is too extensive to sleep all at once, and too watchful,
even in its slumbers, not to startle at the unhallowed foot of an
invader. You may issue your proclamations, and welcome, for we have
learned to "reverence ourselves," and scorn the insulting ruffian that
employs you. America, for your deceased brother's sake, would gladly
have shown you respect and it is a new aggravation to her feelings,
that Howe should be forgetful, and raise his sword against those, who at
their own charge raised a monument to his brother. But your master has
commanded, and you have not enough of nature left to refuse. Surely
there must be something strangely degenerating in the love of monarchy,
that can so completely wear a man down to an ingrate, and make him proud
to lick the dust that kings have trod upon. A few more years, should you
survive them, will bestow on you the title of "an old man": and in some
hour of future reflection you may probably find the fitness of Wolsey's
despairing penitence--"had I served my God as faithful as I have served
my king, he would not thus have forsaken me in my old age."

The character you appear to us in, is truly ridiculous. Your friends,
the Tories, announced your coming, with high descriptions of your
unlimited powers; but your proclamation has given them the lie, by
showing you to be a commissioner without authority. Had your powers been
ever so great they were nothing to us, further than we pleased; because
we had the same right which other nations had, to do what we thought
was best. "The UNITED STATES of AMERICA," will sound as pompously in the
world or in history, as "the kingdom of Great Britain"; the character of
General Washington will fill a page with as much lustre as that of
Lord Howe: and the Congress have as much right to command the king and
Parliament in London to desist from legislation, as they or you have
to command the Congress. Only suppose how laughable such an edict would
appear from us, and then, in that merry mood, do but turn the tables
upon yourself, and you will see how your proclamation is received here.
Having thus placed you in a proper position in which you may have a full
view of your folly, and learn to despise it, I hold up to you, for
that purpose, the following quotation from your own lunarian
proclamation.--"And we (Lord Howe and General Howe) do command (and in
his majesty's name forsooth) all such persons as are assembled together,
under the name of general or provincial congresses, committees,
conventions or other associations, by whatever name or names known and
distinguished, to desist and cease from all such treasonable actings and
doings."

You introduce your proclamation by referring to your declarations of
the 14th of July and 19th of September. In the last of these you sunk
yourself below the character of a private gentleman. That I may not
seem to accuse you unjustly, I shall state the circumstance: by a verbal
invitation of yours, communicated to Congress by General Sullivan, then
a prisoner on his parole, you signified your desire of conferring with
some members of that body as private gentlemen. It was beneath the
dignity of the American Congress to pay any regard to a message that
at best was but a genteel affront, and had too much of the ministerial
complexion of tampering with private persons; and which might probably
have been the case, had the gentlemen who were deputed on the business
possessed that kind of easy virtue which an English courtier is so truly
distinguished by. Your request, however, was complied with, for honest
men are naturally more tender of their civil than their political fame.
The interview ended as every sensible man thought it would; for
your lordship knows, as well as the writer of the Crisis, that it is
impossible for the King of England to promise the repeal, or even the
revisal of any acts of parliament; wherefore, on your part, you had
nothing to say, more than to request, in the room of demanding, the
entire surrender of the continent; and then, if that was complied with,
to promise that the inhabitants should escape with their lives. This was
the upshot of the conference. You informed the conferees that you were
two months in soliciting these powers. We ask, what powers? for as
commissioner you have none. If you mean the power of pardoning, it is
an oblique proof that your master was determined to sacrifice all before
him; and that you were two months in dissuading him from his purpose.
Another evidence of his savage obstinacy!



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