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The inhabitants of that
part of the country where the murder was committed, sent a deputation
to General Washington with a full and certified statement of the fact.
Struck, as every human breast must be, with such brutish outrage, and
determined both to punish and prevent it for the future, the General
represented the case to General Clinton, who then commanded, and
demanded that the refugee officer who ordered and attended the
execution, and whose name is Lippencott, should be delivered up as
a murderer; and in case of refusal, that the person of some British
officer should suffer in his stead. The demand, though not refused, has
not been complied with; and the melancholy lot (not by selection, but by
casting lots) has fallen upon Captain Asgill, of the Guards, who, as I
have already mentioned, is on his way from Lancaster to camp, a
martyr to the general wickedness of the cause he engaged in, and the
ingratitude of those whom he served.

The first reflection which arises on this black business is, what sort
of men must Englishmen be, and what sort of order and discipline do
they preserve in their army, when in the immediate place of their
headquarters, and under the eye and nose of their commander-in-chief,
a prisoner can be taken at pleasure from his confinement, and his death
made a matter of sport.

The history of the most savage Indians does not produce instances
exactly of this kind. They, at least, have a formality in their
punishments. With them it is the horridness of revenge, but with your
army it is a still greater crime, the horridness of diversion. The
British generals who have succeeded each other, from the time of General
Gage to yourself, have all affected to speak in language that they have
no right to. In their proclamations, their addresses, their letters
to General Washington, and their supplications to Congress (for they
deserve no other name) they talk of British honor, British generosity,
and British clemency, as if those things were matters of fact; whereas,
we whose eyes are open, who speak the same language with yourselves,
many of whom were born on the same spot with you, and who can no more
be mistaken in your words than in your actions, can declare to all the
world, that so far as our knowledge goes, there is not a more detestable
character, nor a meaner or more barbarous enemy, than the present
British one. With us, you have forfeited all pretensions to reputation,
and it is only by holding you like a wild beast, afraid of your keepers,
that you can be made manageable. But to return to the point in question.

Though I can think no man innocent who has lent his hand to destroy
the country which he did not plant, and to ruin those that he could not
enslave, yet, abstracted from all ideas of right and wrong on the
original question, Captain Asgill, in the present case, is not the
guilty man. The villain and the victim are here separated characters.
You hold the one and we the other. You disown, or affect to disown and
reprobate the conduct of Lippincut, yet you give him a sanctuary; and by
so doing you as effectually become the executioner of Asgill, as if you
had put the rope on his neck, and dismissed him from the world. Whatever
your feelings on this interesting occasion may be are best known to
yourself. Within the grave of your own mind lies buried the fate of
Asgill. He becomes the corpse of your will, or the survivor of your
justice. Deliver up the one, and you save the other; withhold the one,
and the other dies by your choice.

On our part the case is exceeding plain; an officer has been taken from
his confinement and murdered, and the murderer is within your lines.
Your army has been guilty of a thousand instances of equal cruelty,
but they have been rendered equivocal, and sheltered from personal
detection. Here the crime is fixed; and is one of those extraordinary
cases which can neither be denied nor palliated, and to which the custom
of war does not apply; for it never could be supposed that such a brutal
outrage would ever be committed. It is an original in the history
of civilized barbarians, and is truly British. On your part you are
accountable to us for the personal safety of the prisoners within your
walls. Here can be no mistake; they can neither be spies nor suspected
as such; your security is not endangered, nor your operations subjected
to miscarriage, by men immured within a dungeon. They differ in every
circumstance from men in the field, and leave no pretence for severity
of punishment. But if to the dismal condition of captivity with you must
be added the constant apprehensions of death; if to be imprisoned is
so nearly to be entombed; and if, after all, the murderers are to be
protected, and thereby the crime encouraged, wherein do you differ from
[American] Indians either in conduct or character?

We can have no idea of your honor, or your justice, in any future
transaction, of what nature it may be, while you shelter within your
lines an outrageous murderer, and sacrifice in his stead an officer of
your own. If you have no regard to us, at least spare the blood which
it is your duty to save. Whether the punishment will be greater on him,
who, in this case, innocently dies, or on him whom sad necessity forces
to retaliate, is, in the nicety of sensation, an undecided question? It
rests with you to prevent the sufferings of both. You have nothing to do
but to give up the murderer, and the matter ends.

But to protect him, be he who he may, is to patronize his crime, and to
trifle it off by frivolous and unmeaning inquiries, is to promote it.
There is no declaration you can make, nor promise you can give that will
obtain credit. It is the man and not the apology that is demanded.

You see yourself pressed on all sides to spare the life of your own
officer, for die he will if you withhold justice. The murder of Captain
Huddy is an offence not to be borne with, and there is no security which
we can have, that such actions or similar ones shall not be repeated,
but by making the punishment fall upon yourselves. To destroy the last
security of captivity, and to take the unarmed, the unresisting prisoner
to private and sportive execution, is carrying barbarity too high for
silence. The evil must be put an end to; and the choice of persons rests
with you. But if your attachment to the guilty is stronger than to the
innocent, you invent a crime that must destroy your character, and if
the cause of your king needs to be so supported, for ever cease, sir,
to torture our remembrance with the wretched phrases of British honor,
British generosity and British clemency.

From this melancholy circumstance, learn, sir, a lesson of morality. The
refugees are men whom your predecessors have instructed in wickedness,
the better to fit them to their master's purpose. To make them useful,
they have made them vile, and the consequence of their tutored villany
is now descending on the heads of their encouragers. They have been
trained like hounds to the scent of blood, and cherished in every
species of dissolute barbarity. Their ideas of right and wrong are
worn away in the constant habitude of repeated infamy, till, like men
practised in execution, they feel not the value of another's life.

The task before you, though painful, is not difficult; give up the
murderer, and save your officer, as the first outset of a necessary
reformation. COMMON SENSE.

PHILADELPHIA May 31, 1782.




THE CRISIS. XII. TO THE EARL OF SHELBURNE.


MY LORD,--A speech, which has been printed in several of the British and
New York newspapers, as coming from your lordship, in answer to one from
the Duke of Richmond, of the 10th of July last, contains expressions and
opinions so new and singular, and so enveloped in mysterious reasoning,
that I address this publication to you, for the purpose of giving them a
free and candid examination. The speech I allude to is in these words:

"His lordship said, it had been mentioned in another place, that he had
been guilty of inconsistency. To clear himself of this, he asserted that
he still held the same principles in respect to American independence
which he at first imbibed. He had been, and yet was of opinion, whenever
the Parliament of Great Britain acknowledges that point, the sun of
England's glory is set forever. Such were the sentiments he possessed on
a former day, and such the sentiments he continued to hold at this
hour. It was the opinion of Lord Chatham, as well as many other able
statesmen. Other noble lords, however, think differently, and as the
majority of the cabinet support them, he acquiesced in the measure,
dissenting from the idea; and the point is settled for bringing
the matter into the full discussion of Parliament, where it will be
candidly, fairly, and impartially debated. The independence of America
would end in the ruin of England; and that a peace patched up with
France, would give that proud enemy the means of yet trampling on this
country. The sun of England's glory he wished not to see set forever; he
looked for a spark at least to be left, which might in time light us
up to a new day. But if independence was to be granted, if Parliament
deemed that measure prudent, he foresaw, in his own mind, that England
was undone. He wished to God that he had been deputed to Congress, that
be might plead the cause of that country as well as of this, and that he
might exercise whatever powers he possessed as an orator, to save both
from ruin, in a conviction to Congress, that, if their independence was
signed, their liberties were gone forever.

"Peace, his lordship added, was a desirable object, but it must be an
honorable peace, and not an humiliating one, dictated by France, or
insisted on by America. It was very true, that this kingdom was not in a
flourishing state, it was impoverished by war. But if we were not
rich, it was evident that France was poor. If we were straitened in our
finances, the enemy were exhausted in their resources. This was a great
empire; it abounded with brave men, who were able and willing to fight
in a common cause; the language of humiliation should not, therefore, be
the language of Great Britain.



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