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'N all the parts of human knowledge, whether
operating upon life private or civil, are admitted fome fundamental principles, or common axioms, which being generally received are little doubted, and being little doubted have been rarely proved.
Of these gratuitous and acknowledged truths it is often the fate to become lefs evident by endeavous to explain them, however neceffary fuch endeavours may be made by the mifapprehenfions of abfurdity, or the fophiftries of intereft. It is difficult to prove the principles of fcience, becaufe notions cannot always be found more intelligible than
than those which are queftioned. It is difficult to prove the principles of practice, because they have for the most part not been discovered by investigation, but obtruded by experience, and the demonftrator will find, after an operofe deduction, that he has been trying to make that feen which can be only felt.
Of this kind is the pofition, that the Supreme power of every community has the right of requiring from all its fubjects, fuch contributions as are necessary to the publick fafety or publick profperity, which was confidered by all mankind as comprising the primary and effential condition of all political fociety, till it became difputed by thofe zealots of anarchy, who have denied to the parliament of Britain the right of taxing the American Colonies.
In favour of this exemption of the Americans from the authority of their lawful sovereign, and the dominion of their mother-country, very loud clamours have been raised, and many wild affertions advanced, which by fuch as borrow their opinions from the reigning fafhion have been admitted as arguments; and what is strange, though their tendency is to leffen English honour, and English power, have been heard by Englishmen with a wifht to find them true. Paffion has in its firft violence controlled intereft, as the eddy for a while runs against the stream.
To be prejudiced is always to be weak; yet there are prejudices fo near to laudable, that they have been often praised, and are always pardoned. To love their country has been confidered as virtue in men, whofe love could not be otherwife than blind, because
because their preference was made without a comparison, but it has never been my fortune to find, either in ancient or modern writers, any honourable mention of thofe, who have with equal blindnefs hated their country.
These antipatriotick prejudices are the abortions of folly impregnated by faction, which being produced against the standing order of nature, have not strength fufficient for long life. They are born only to fcream and perish, and leave thofe to contempt or deteftation, whose kindness was employed to nurse them into mischief.
To perplex the opinion of the Publick many artifices have been used, which, as ufually happens when falfehood is to be maintained by fraud, lofe their force by counteracting one another.
The nation is fometimes to be mollified by a tender tale of men, who fled from tyranny to rocks and deferts, and is perfuaded to lofe all claims of justice, and all fenfe of dignity, in compaffion for a harmless people, who having worked hard for bread in a wild country, and obtained by the flow progreffion of manual induftry the accommodations of life, are now invaded by unprecedented oppreffion, and plundered of their properties by the harpies of
We are told how their induftry is obftructed by unnatural restraints, and their trade confined by rigorous prohibitions; how they are forbidden to enjoy the products of their own foil, to manufacture the materials which nature fpreads before them, or to carry their own goods to the neareft market: and furely the generosity of English virtue will never heap
heap new weight upon thofe that are already overladen, will never delight in that dominion; which cannot be exercised but by cruelty and outrage.
But while we are melting in filent forrow, and in the transports of delirious pity dropping both the fword and balance from our hands, another friend of the Americans thinks it better to awaken another paffion, and tries to alarm our intereft, or excite our veneration, by accounts of their greatnefs and their opulence, of the fertility of their land, and the fplendour of their towns. We then begin to confider the question with more evenness of mind, are ready to conclude that thofe reftrictions are not very oppreffive which have been found confiftent with this fpeedy growth of profperity, and begin to think it reasonable that they, who thus flourish under the protection of our government, fhould contribute fomething towards its expence...
But we are foon told that the Americans, however wealthy, cannot be taxed; that they are the descendants of men who left all for liberty, and that they have constantly preferved the principles and ftubbornness of their progenitors; that they are too obftinate for perfuafion, and too powerful for conftraint; that they will laugh at argument, and defeat violence; that the continent of North America contains three millions, not of men merely, but of Whigs, of Whigs fierce for liberty, and difdainful of dominion; that they multiply with the fecundity of their own rattle-fnakes, fo that every quarter of at century doubles their numbers.
Men accustomed to think themselves mafters do not love to be threatened. This talk is, I hope,
commonly thrown away, or raifes paffions different from those which it was intended to excite. Inftead of terrifying the English hearer to tame acquiefcence, it difpofes him to haften the experiment of bending obftinacy before it is become yet more obdurate, and convinces him that it is neceffary to attack a nation thus prolifick while we may yet hope to prevail. When he is told through what extent of territory we must travel to fubdue them, he recollects how far, a few years ago, we travelled in their defence. When it is urged that they will fhoot up like the hydra, he naturally confiders how the hydra was destroyed.
Nothing dejects a trader like the interruption of his profits. A commercial people, however magnanimous, shrinks at the thought of declining traffick, and an unfavourable balance. The effect of this terrour has been tried. We have been stunned with the importance of our American commerce, and heard of merchants with warehouses that are never to be emptied, and of manufacturers starving for want of work.
That our commerce with America is profitable, however less than oftentatious or deceitful estimates have made it, and that it is our intereft to preferve it, has never been denied; but furely it will most effectually be preserved, by being kept always in our own power. Conceffions may promote it for a moment, but fuperiority only can enfure its continuance. There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community that have no care but for themselves, and whofe care for themfelves reaches little farther than impatience of imVOL. X.