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AEt. 67.] THE STRENG 7H of AN EMPIRE. I47
apprehended with Spain, the different countenance put on by some great men here towards those who were thought to have a little influence in America, and the language that began to be held with regard to the then minister for the colonies, I am confident, that, if that war had taken place, he would have been immediately dismissed, all his measures reversed, and every step taken to recover our affection and procure our assistance. Thence I think it fair to conclude, that similar effects will probably be produced by similar circumstances. But, as the strength of an empire depends not only on the union of its parts, but on their readiness for united exertion of their common force ; and as the discussion of rights may seem unseasonable in the commencement of actual war, and the delay it might occasion be prejudicial to the common welfare; as likewise the refusal of one or a few colonies would not be so much regarded, if the others granted liberally, which perhaps by various artifices and motives they might be prevailed on to do; and as this want of concert would defeat the expectation of general redress, that otherwise might be justly formed ; perhaps it would be best and fairest for the colonies, in a general congress now in peace to be assembled, or by means of the correspondence lately proposed, after a full and solemn assertion and declaration of their rights, to engage firmly with each other, that they will never grant aids to the crown in any general war, till those rights are recognized by the King and both Houses of Parliament; communicating at the same time to the crown this their resolution. Such a step I imagine will bring the dispute to a crisis; and, whether our demands are immediately complied with, or compulsory measures thought of to make us rescind them, our ends will finally I48 7//E STRENGTH OF AN EMPIRE. [AET. 67.
be obtained ; for even the odium accompanying such compulsory attempts will contribute to unite and strengthen us, and in the mean time all the world will allow, that our proceeding has been honorable. No one doubts the advantage of a strict union between the mother country and the colonies, if it may be obtained and preserved on equitable terms. In every fair connexion, each party should find its own interest. Britain will find hers in our joining with her in every war she makes, to the greater annoyance and terror of her enemies; in our employment of her manufactures, and enriching her merchants by our commerce; and her government will feel some additional strengthening of its hands by the disposition of our profitable posts and places. On our side, we have to expect the protection she can afford us, and the advantage of a common umpire in our disputes, thereby preventing wars we might otherwise have with each other; so that we can without interruption go on with our improvements, and increase our numbers. We ask no more of her, and she should not think of forcing more from us. By the exercise of prudent moderation on her part, mixed with a little kindness; and by a decent behaviour on ours, excusing where we can excuse from a consideration of circumstances, and bearing a little with the infirmities of her government, as we would with those of an aged parent, though firmly asserting our privileges, and declaring that we mean at a proper time to vindicate them, this advantageous union may still be long continued. We wish it, and we may endeavour it; but God will order it as to his wisdom shall seem most suitable. The friends of liberty here wish we may long preserve it on our side of the water, that they may find it there, if adverse events should destroy
it here. They are therefore anxious and afraid, lest we should hazard it by premature attempts in its favor. They think we may risk much by violent measures, and that the risk is unnecessary, since a little time must infallibly bring us all we demand or desire, and bring it to us in peace and safety. I do not presume to advise. There are many wiser men among you, and I hope you will be directed by a still superior wisdom. With regard to the sentiments of people in general here, concerning America, I must say, that we have among them many friends and wellwishers. The Dissenters are all for us, and many of the merchants and manufacturers. There seems to be, even among the country gentlemen, a general sense of our growing importance, a disapprobation of the harsh measures with which we have been treated, and a wish that some means may be found of perfect reconciliation. A few members of Parliament in both Houses, and perhaps some in high office, have in a degree the same ideas; but none of these seem willing as yet to be active in our favor, lest adversaries should take advantage, and charge it upon them as a betraying the interests of this nation. In this state of things, no endeavour of mine, or our other friends here, “to obtain a repeal of the acts so oppressive to the colonists, or the orders of the crown so destructive of the charter rights of our province in particular,” can expect a sudden success. By degrees, and a judicious improvement of events, we may work a change in minds and measures; but otherwise such great alterations are hardly to be looked for. I am thankful to the House for their kind attention, in repeating their grant to me of six hundred pounds. Whether
the instruction restraining the governor's assent is with
drawn or not, or is likely to be, I cannot tell, having never solicited or even once mentioned it to Lord Dartmouth, being resolved to owe no obligation to the favor of any minister. If, from a sense of right, that instruction should be recalled, and the general principle on which it was founded is given up, all will be very well; but you can never think it worth while to employ an agent here, if his being paid or not is to depend on the breath of a minister, and I should think it a situation too suspicious, and therefore too dishonorable for me to remain in a single hour. Living frugally, I am under no immediate necessity; and, if I serve my constituents faithfully, though it should be unsuccessfully, I am confident they will always have it in their inclination, and some time or other in their power, to make their grants effectual.
To Samuel I perused your tracts with pleasure. I see Mather, da- - - ted London, you inherit all the various learning of your 7J"'Y' '773 famous ancestors, Cotton and Increase Mather. The father, Increase, I once heard preach at the Old South Meeting for Mr. Pemberton; and I remember his mentioning the death of “that wicked old persecutor of God's people, Louis the Fourteenth;” of which news had just been received ; but which proved premature. I was some years afterwards at his house at the North End, on some errand to him, and remember him sitting in an easy chair, apparently very old and feeble. But Cotton I remember in the vigor of his preaching and usefulness. You have made the most of your argument, to prove that America might be known to the ancients. There is another discovery of it claimed by the Norwegians, which you have not mentioned, unless it be under the words, “ of old
viewed and observed,’’ page 7. About twenty-five years since, Professor Kalm, a learned Swede, was with us in Pennsylvania. He contended, that America was discovered by their northern people, long before the time of Columbus; which I doubting, he drew up and gave me some time after a note of those discoveries, which I send you enclosed. It is his own handwriting, and his own English; very intelligible for the time he had been among us. The circumstances give the account a great appearance of authenticity. And if one may judge by the description of the winter, the country they visited should be southward of New England, supposing no change since that time of the climate. But, if it be true, as Krantz, I think, and some other historians tell us, that old Greenland, once inhabited and populous, is now rendered uninhabited by ice, it should seem that almost perpetual northern winter had gained ground to the southward; and, if so, perhaps more northern countries might anciently have had vines, than can bear them in these days. The remarks you have added, on the late proceedings against America, are very just and judicious; and I cannot See any impropriety in your making them, though a minister of the gospel. This kingdom is a good deal indebted for its liberties to the public spirit of its ancient clergy, who joined with the barons in obtaining Magna Charta, and joined heartily in forming the curses of excommunication against the infringers of it. There is no doubt but the claim of Parliament, of authority to make laws hinding on the colonies in all cases whatsoever, includes an authority to change our religious constitution, and establish Popery or Mahomedanism, if they please, in its stead; but, as you intimate, power does not infer right; and, as the