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been deprived by our laws, I mean the liberty of the cudgel! In the rude state of society, prior to the existence of laws, if one man gave another ill. language, the affronted person might return it by a box on the ear, and if repeated, by a good drubbing; and this without offending against any law : but now the right of making such returns is denied, and they are punished as breaches of the peace, while the right of abusing seems to remain in full force; the laws made against it being rendered ineffectual by the liberty of the press.
My proposal then is, to leave the liberty of the press untouched, to be exercised in its full extent, force, and vigour, but to permit the liberty of the cudgel to go with it, pari passu. Thus, my fellowcitizens, if an impudent writer attacks your reputa- , tion—dearer perhaps to you than your life, and puts his name to the charge, you may go to him as openly, and break his head. If he conceals himself behind the printer, and you can nevertheless discover who he is, you may, in like manner, way-lay him in the night, attack him behind, and give him a good drabbing. If your adversary hires better writers than himself to abuse you more effectually, you may hire brawny porters, stronger than yourself, to assist you in giving him a inore effectual drubbing. Thus far goes my project, as to private resentment and retribution. But if the public should ever happen to be affronted, as it ought to be, with the conduct of such writers, I would not advise pro. ceeding immediately to these extremities, but that we should in moderation content ourselves with tarring and feathering, and tossing them in a blanket,
If, however, it should be thought that this proposal of mine may disturb the public peace, I would then humbly recommend to our legislators to take up the consideration of both liberties, that of the press, and that of the cudgel; and by an explicit law mark their extent and limits : 'and at the same time that they secure the person of a citizen from assaults, they would likewise provide for the secu. rity of his reputation.
· ESSAYS AND LETTERS
SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH AMERICA.
CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN DISCONTENTS
The waves never rise but when the winds blow.
Prou. SIR, As the cause of the present ill humour in America, and of the resolutions taken there to purchase less of our manufactures, does not seem to be generally understood, it may afford some satisfaction to your readers, if you give them the following short historical state of facts.
From the time that the colonies were first considered as capable of granting aids to the croton, down to the end of the last war, it is said, that the constant mode of obtaining those aids was, by requisition made from the crown, through its gow vernors, to the several assemblies, in circular let. ters from the secretary of state, in his majesty's name, setting forth the occasion, requiring them to
• This letter first appeared in a London paper, January T. take the matter into consideration, and expressing a reliance on their prudence, duty, and affection to his majesty's government, that they would grant such sums, or raise such numbers of men, as were suitable to their respective circumstances.
The colonies, being accustomed to this method, have from time to time granted money to the crown, or raised troops for its service, in proportion to their abilities, and, during all the last war, beyond their abilities; so that considerable sums were returned them yearly by parliament, as they had exceeded their proportion.
Had this happy method of requisition been con. tinued (a method that left the king's subjects in those remote countries the pleasure of showing their zeal and loyalty, and of imagining that they recommended theinselves to their sovereign by the liberality of their voluntary grants) there is no doubt, but all the money that could reasonably be expected to be raised from them in any manner, inight have been obtained, without the least heartburning offence, or breach of the harmony of affections and interests that so long subsisted between the two countries.
It has been thought wisdom in a government exercising sovereignty over different kinds of people, to have some regard to prevailing and established opinions among the people to be governed, wherever such opinions might, in their effects, obstruct or promote public measures. If they tend to obstruct public service, they are to be changed, if possible, before we attempt to act against them; and they can only be changed by reason and per. suasion ; but if public business can be carried on
without thwarting those opinions, if they can be, on the contrary, made subservient to it; they are not unnecessarily to be thwarted, how absurd such popular opinions may be in their nature.
This had been the wisdom of our government with respect to raising money in the colonies. It was well known that the colonists universally were of opinion, that no money could be levied from English subjects but by their own consent, given by themselves or their chosen representatives; that therefore whatever money was to be raised from the people in the colonies must first be granted by their assemblies, as the money raised in Britain is first to be granted by the house of commons; that this right of granting their own money was essential to English liberty; and that if any man, or body of men, in which they had no representative of their choosing, could tax them at pleasure, they could not be said to have any property, any thing they could call their own. But as these opinions did not hinder their granting money voluntarily and amply, whenever the crown, by its servants, came into their assemblies (as it does into its parliaments of Britain or Ireland) and demanded aids; there. fore that method was chosen, rather than the hateful one of arbitrary taxes.
I do not undertake here to support these opinions of the Americans; they have been refuted by a late act of parliament, declaring its own power; which very parliament, however, showed wisely so much tender regard to those inveterate prejudices, as to repeal a tax that had militated against them : and those prejudices are still so fixed and rooted in the Americans, that it has been supposed, not a single