REV. JOHN WESLEY, A.M.
SOMETIME FELLOW OF LINCOLN COLLEGE, OXFORD.
WITH THE LAST CORRECTIONS OF THE AITIHOR.
2, CASTLE STREET, CITY ROAD, E.C.;
A'ND AT 66, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
[~Entereb at %tationcto' Ra1I.]
HAYMAN, CHRISTY AND LILLY, LTD., HATTON WORKS, FARRINGDOO ROAD, E.C.
Serious Thoughts occasioned by the late Earthquake at
Lisbon. .............................. .. 1
Free Thoughts on the Present State of Public Affairs:
In a Letter to a Friend. ..................... 14
Thoughts upon Liberty ....................... 34
Thoughts concerning the Origin of Power ........... 46
Thoughts on the Present Scarcity of Provisions ....... 53
Thoughts upon Slavery......................... 59
A Calm Address to our American Colonies ........ .<. 80
Some Observations on Liberty: Occasioned by a late Tract 90
A Seasonable Address to the more serious part of the
Inhabitants of Great Britain, respecting the Unhappy
Contest between us and our American Brethren:
With an occasional Word interspersed to those of a
different Complexion. By a Lover of Peace ...... 119
A Calm Address to the Inhabitants of England ....... 129
A Serious Address to the People of England, with regard
to the State of the Nation ................... 140
A Compassionate Address to the Inhabitants of Ireland. 149
How far is it the Duty of a Christian Minister to Preach
Politics? ............................. 154
An Estimate of the M3anners of the Present Times ..... 156
A Word to a Sabbath-Breaker. .................. 164
A Word to a Swearer............. ............. 167
A Word to a Drunkard ....................... 169
A Word to an Unhappy Woman ................. 171
A Word to a Smuggler......................... 174
A Word to a Condemned Malefactor ................ 179
A Word in Season: Or, Advice to an Englishman ..... 182
A Word to a Protestant........................ 187
A Word to a Freeholder ...................... 196
Advice to a Soldier... ..................... ... 198
A Collection of Forms of Prayer, for every Day in the
W eek ................................. 203
A Collection of Prayers for Families................ 237
Prayers for Children ......................... 259
A Short Account of the Life and Death of the Reverend
John Fletcher ........................... 273
OF HIS PARENTAGE AND YOUTH ............ 277
OF HIS CONVERSION TO GO. ............... 282
FROM HIS CONVERSION TO HIS SETTLING AT
FROM HIS SETTLING AT MADELEY, TO HIS LEAV-
ING TREVECKA .............. .......... 292
FROM HIS LEAVING TREVECKA, TO HIS GOING TO
BRISTOL ................... ........ 300
FROM HIS LEAVING NEWINOTON, TILL HIS RETURN
FROM SWITZERLAND TO MADELEY ......... 309
OF HIS MARRIAGE. ...................... 326
CHAPTER VIII. Page.
FROM HIS MARRIAGE, TO THE BEGINNING OF HIS
LAST ILLNESS .............. .............. 333
HIS CHARACTER ................. ....... 340
HIS DEATH. .................. ........ 356
SA Plain Account of Christian Perfection, as believed and
taught by the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, from the
year 1725 to the year 1777 ....... .......... 366
Brief Thoughts on Christian Perfection ............ 446
Some Thoughts on an Expression of St. Paul, in the
First Epistle to the Thessalonians, v. 23 ......... 447
On Christian Perfection. To the Rev. Mr. Dodd ..... 448
An Answer to the Rev. Mr. Dodd ................ 450
Some Account of the late Dr. Dodd ............... 454
Thoughts on a Single Life....................... 456
A Thought upon Marriage ..................... 463
Advice to the People called Methodists, with regard to
Dress ............................ .. 466
Thoughts upon Dress ......................... 477
A Letter to the Rev. Mr. Thomas Maxfield: Occasioned
by a late Publication ...................... 478
A Clear and Concise Demonstration of the Divine
Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures .... ........ 484
The Real Character of Montanus ................ 485
Letter on Preaching Christ .................... 486
Thoughts on Salvation by Faith .................. 492
God's Eyes are over all the Earth ................ 496 -
A Remarkable Providence ..................... 497 -
An Account of the Brothers' Steps................. 498
A Providential Event ........................ 500
An Extraordinary Cure ...... ................ 501
Murder Prevented by a three-fold Dream ........... 502
An Answer to a Report ....................... 503
A Letter to a Friend concerning Tea .............. 504
Thoughts on Nervous Disorders: Particularly that
which is usually termed Lowness of Spirits. ....... 515
A Scheme of Self-Examination. Used by the First
Methodists in Oxford ..................... 521
Thoughts upon Dissipation ............... ..... 524
A Question concerning Dew on Coach-Glasses ........ 526
Some Account of an Eminent Man ........ ...... 527
THE LATE EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON.
[PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1755.]
Tua res agitur, parties quum proximus ardet.*
THINKING men generally allow that the greater part of
modern Christians are not more virtuous than the ancient
Heathens; perhaps less so; since public spirit, love of our
country, generous honesty, and simple truth, are scarce any-
where to be found. On the contrary, covetousness, ambition,
various injustice, luxury, and falsehood in every kind, have
infected every rank and denomination of people, the Clergy
themselves not excepted. Now, they who believe there is a
God are apt to believe he is not well pleased with this.
Nay, they think, he has intimated it very plainly, in many
parts of the Christian world. How many hundred thousand
men have been swept away by war, in Europe only, within
half a century! How many thousands, within little more
than this, hath the earth opened her mouth and swallowed
up'! Numbers sunk at Port-Royal, and rose no more!
Many thousands went quick into the pit at Lima! The
whole city of Catanea, in Sicily, and every inhabitant of it,
perished together. Nothing but heaps of ashes and cinders
show where it stood. Not so much as one Lot escaped out
And what shall we say of the late accounts from Portugal?
That some thousand houses, and many thousand persons, are
no more that a fair city is now in ruinous heaps Is there
indeed a God that judges the world? And is he now making
inquisition for blood? If so, it is not surprising, he should
begin there, where so much blood has been poured on the
This quotation from Horace is thus translated by Boscawen:-
'Tis your own interest that calls
When flames invade your neighbour's walls."-EDi .
VOL. XI. B
SERIOUS THOUGHTS ON
ground like water! where so many brave men have been
murdered, in the most base and cowardly as well as barbarous
manner, almost every day, as well as every night, while none
regarded or laid it to heart. "Let them hunt and destroy
the precious life, so we may secure our stores of gold and
precious stones."* How long has their blood been crying
from the earth! Yea, how long has that bloody House of
Mercy,-t the scandal not only of all religion, but even of human
nature, stood to insult both heaven and earth "And shall
I not visit for these things, saith the Lord? Shall not my
soul be avenged on such a city as this?"
It has been the opinion of many, that even this nation has
not been without some marks of God's displeasure. Has not
war been let loose even within our own land, so that London
itself felt the alarm?. Has not a pestilential sickness broken
in upon our cattle, and, in many parts, left not one of them
alive ? And although the earth does not yet open in England
or Ireland, has it not shook, and reeled to and fro like a
drunken man? and that not in one or two places only, but
almost from one end of the kingdom to the other ?
Perhaps one might ask, Was there nothing uncommon,
nothing more than is usual at this season of the year, in
the rains, the hail, the winds, the thunder and lightning
which we have lately heard and seen? particularly, in the
storm which was the same day and hour that they were
playing off Macbeth's thunder and lightning at the theatre.
One would almost think they designed this (inasmuch as the
entertainment continued, notwithstanding all the artillery of
heaven) as a formal answer to that question, "Canst thou
thunder with a voice like Him?"
What shall we say to the affair of Whitson Cliffs ? of which,
were it not for the unparalleled stupidity of the English, all
England would have rang long ago, from one sea to another.
And yet, seven miles from the place, they knew little more of
it in May last, than if it had happened in China or Japan.
The fact (of the truth of which any who will be at the
pains of inquiring may soon be satisfied) is this: On Tuesday,
Merchants who have lived in Portugal inform us, that the King had a large
building filled with diamonds; and more gold stored up, coined and uncoined,
than all the other princes of Europe together.
+ The title which the Inquisition of Portugal (if not in other countries also)
takes to itself
THE EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON. 3
March 25, last, (being the week before Easter,) many persons
heard a great noise near a ridge of mountains, called Black
Hamilton, in Yorkshire. It was observed chiefly on the
south-west side of the mountain, about a mile from the course
where the Hamilton races are run, near a ledge of rocks,
commonly called Whitson Cliffs, two miles from Sutton, and
about five from Thirsk.
The same noise was heard on Wednesday by all who went
that way. On Thursday, about seven in the morning, Edward
Abbot, weaver, and Adam Bosomworth, bleacher, both of
Sutton, riding under Whitson Cliffs, heard a roaring (so they
termed it) like many cannons, or loud and rolling thunder.
It seemed to come from the cliffs; looking up to which, they
saw a large body of stone, four or five yards broad, split and
fly off from the very top of the rock. They thought it strange,
but rode on. Between ten and eleven, a larger piece of the
rock, about fifteen yards thick, thirty high, and between sixty
and seventy broad, was torn off and thrown into the valley.
About seven in the evening, one who was riding by observed
the ground to shake exceedingly; and soon after several large
stones or rocks, of some tons weight each, rose out of the
ground. Others were thrown on one side, others turned
upside down, and many rolled over and over. Being a little
surprised, and not very curious, he hoisted on his way.
On Friday and Saturday the ground continued to shake,
and the rocks to roll over one another. The earth also clave
asunder in very many places, and continued so to do till
Being at Osmotherley, seven miles from the Cliffs, on
Monday, June 1, and finding Edward Abbot there, I desired
him the next morning to show me the way thither. I
walked, crept, and climbed roand and over great part of the
ruins. I could not perceive by any sign, that there was ever
any cavity in the rock at all; but one part of the solid stone
is cleft from the rest, in a perpendicular line, and as smooth
as if cut with instruments. Nor is it barely thrown down,
but split into many hundred pieces, some of which lie four or
five hundred yards from the main rock.
The ground nearest the cliff is not raised, but sunk con-
siderably beneath the level. But, at some distance, it is
raised in a ridge of eight or ten yards high, twelve or fifteen
broad, and near a hundred long. Adjoining to this lies an
SERIOUS THOUGHTS ON
oval piece of ground, thirty or forty yards in diameter, which
has been removed, whole as it is, from beneath the cliff,
without the least fissure, with all its load of rocks, some of
which were as large as the hull of a small ship. At a little
distance is a second piece of ground, forty or fifty yards
across, which has also been transplanted entire, with rocks of
various sizes upon it, and a tree growing out of one of them.
By the removal of one or both of these, I suppose the hollow
near the cliff was made.
All round them lay stones and rocks, great and small, some
on the surface of the earth, some half sunk iito it, some almost
covered, in variety of positions. Between these the ground
was cleft asunder in a thousand places. Some of the apertures
were nearly closed again, some gaping as at first. Between
thirty and forty acres of land, as is commonly supposed,
(though some reckon above sixty,) are in this condition.
On the skirts of these, I observed, in abundance of places,
the green turf (for it was pasture-land) as it were pared off,
two or three inches thick, and wrapped round like sheets of
lead. A little farther it was not cleft or broken at all, but
raised in ridges, five or six foot long, exactly resembling the
graves in a churchyard. Of these there is a vast number.
That part of the cliff from which the rest is torn, lies so
high and is now of so bright a colour, that it is plainly
visible to all the country round, even at the distance of
several miles. We saw it distinctly, not only from the street
in Thirsk, but for five or six miles after, as we rode toward
York. So we did likewise in the great North Road, between
Sandhutton and Northallerton.
But how may we account for this phenomenon? Was it
effected by a merely natural cause ? If so, that cause must
either have been fire, water, or air. It could not be fire; for
then some mark of it must have appeared, either at the time,
or after it. But no such mark does appear, nor ever did;
not so much as the least smoke, either when the first or
second rock was removed, or in'the whole space between
Tuesday and Sunday.
It could not be water; for no water issued out, when the
one or the other rock was torn off. Nor had there been any
rains for some time before. It was in that part of the country
a remarkable dry season. Neither was there any cavity in
thiat part of the rock, wherein a sufficient quantity of water
THE EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON.
might have lodged. On the contrary, it was one single, solid
mass, which was evenly and smoothly cleft in sunder.
There remains no other natural cause assignable, but
imprisoned air. I say imprisoned; for as to the fashionable
opinion, that the exterior, air is the grand agent in earth-
quakes, it is so senseless, unmechanical, unphilosophical a
dream, as deserves not to be named but to be exploded. But
it is hard to conceive, how even imprisoned air could produce
such an effect. It might indeed shake, tear, raise, or sink
the earth; but how could it cleave a solid rock ? Here was
not room for a quantity of it sufficient to do anything of
this nature; at least, unless it had been suddenly and
violently expanded by fire, which was not the case. Could a
small quantity of air, without that violent expansion, have
torn so large a body of rock from the rest, to which it
adhered in one solid mass ? Could it have shivered this into
pieces, and scattered several of those pieces some hundred
yards round? Could it have transported those promon-
tories of earth with their incumbent load, and set them down
,unbroken, unchanged, at a distance? Truly I am not so
great a volunteer in faith as to be able to believe this. He
that supposes this, must suppose air to be not only very
strong, (which we allow,) but a very wise agent; while it
bore its charge with so great caution, as not to hurt or
dislocate any part of it.
What, then, could be the cause ? What indeed, but God,
who arose "to shake terribly the earth;" who purposely
chose such a place, where there is so great a concourse of
nobility and gentry every year; and wrought in such a manner,
that many might see it and fear,-that all who travel one of the
most frequented roads in England might see it, almost whether
they would or no, for many miles together? It must like-
wise for many years, maugre all the art of man, be a visible
monument of His power; all that ground being now so
incumbered with rocks and stones, that it cannot be either
ploughed or grazed. Nor can it well serve any use, but to
tell all that see it, Who can stand before this great God ?
Who can account for the late motion in the waters; not
only that of the sea, and rivers communicating therewith, but
even that in canals, fishponds, cisterns, and all either large or
small bodies of water? It was particularly observed, that
while the water itself was so violently agitated, neither did the
SER1OUS THOUGHTS ON
earth shake at all, nor any of the vessels which contained
that water. Was such a thing ever known or heard of before?
I know not, but it was spoken of once, near eighteen hundred
years ago, in those remarkable words, "There shall be o-e o 0o"
(not only "earthquakes," but various "concussions" or
"shakings") "in divers places." And so there have been in
Spain, inPortugal, in Italy, in Holland, in England, in Ireland;
and not improbably in many other places too, which we are
not yet informed of. Yet it does not seem that a concussion
of this kind has ever been known before, since either the
same or some other comet revolved so near the earth. For
we know of no other natural cause in the universe which is
adequate to such an effect. And that this is the real cause,
we may very possibly be convinced in a short time.
But alas! why should we not be convinced sooner, while
that conviction may avail, that it is not chance which governs
the world? Why should we not now, before London is as
Lisbon, Lima, or Catanea, acknowledge the hand of the
Almighty, arising to maintain his own cause? Why, we
have a general answer always ready, to screen us from any
such conviction: "All these things are purely natural and
accidental; the result of natural causes." But there are two
objections to this answer: First, it is untrue: Secondly, it
First. If by affirming, "All this is purely natural," you
mean, it is not providential, or that God has nothing to do
with it, this is not true, that is, supposing the Bible to be
true. For supposing this, you may descant ever so long on
the natural causes of murrain, winds, thunder, lightning, and
yet you are altogether wide of the mark, you prove nothing
at all, unless you can prove that God never works in or by
natural causes. But this you cannot prove; nay, none can
doubt of his so working, who allows the Scripture to be of
God. For this asserts, in the clearest and strongest terms,
that "all things" (in nature) "serve him;" that (by or
without a train of natural causes) He "sendeth his rain on
the earth;" that He bringeth the winds out of his
treasures," and maketh a way for the lightning and the
thunder;" in general, that "fire and hail, snow and vapour,
wind and storm, fulfil his word." Therefore, allowing there
are natural causes of all these, they are still under the direc-
tion of the Lord of nature: Nay, what is nature itself, but
THE EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON.
the art of God, or God's method of acting in the material
world? True philosophy therefore ascribes all to God, and
says, in the beautiful language of the wise and good man,-
Here like a trumpet, loud and strong,
Thy thunder shakes our coast;
While the red lightning wave along,
The banners of thy host.
A Second objection to your answer is, It is extremely
uncomfortable. For if things really be as you affirm; if all
these afflictive incidents entirely depend on the fortuitous
concourse and agency of blind, material causes; what hope,
what help, what resource is left for the poor sufferers by
them? Should the murrain among the cattle continue a
few years longer, and consequently produce scarcity or
famine, what will there be left for many of the poor to do,
but to lie down and die? If tainted air spread a pestilence
over our land, where shall they fly for succour? They cannot
resist either the one or other; they cannot escape from
them. And can they hope to appease
Illachrymabilem Plutona 9
Inexorable Pluto, king of shades ?
Shall they intreat the famine or the pestilence to show mercy ?
Alas! they are as senseless as you suppose God to be.
However, you who are men of fortune can shift tolerably
well, in spite of these difficulties. Your money will undoubt-
edly procure you food as long as there is any in the kingdom.
And if your Physicians cannot secure you from the epidemic
disease, your coaches can carry you from the place of infec-
tion. Be it so: But you are not out of all danger yet, unless
you can drive faster than the wind. Are you sure of this?
And are your horses literally swifter than the lightning?
Can they leave the panting storm behind ? If not, what will
you do when it overtakes you? Try your eloquence on the
whirlwind. Will it hear your voice? Will it regard either
your money, or prayers, or tears? Call upon the lightning.
Cry aloud; see whether your voice will "divide the flames of
fire." O no! it hath no ears to hear! It devoureth and
showeth no pity !
But this is not all. Here is a nearer enemy. The earth
threatens to swallow you up. Where is your protection
SERIOUS THOUGHTS ON
now? What defence do you find from thousands of gold
and silver? You cannot fly; for you cannot quit the earth,
unless you will leave your dear body behind you. And while
you are on the earth, you know not where to flee to, neither
where to flee from. You may buy intelligence, where the
shock was yesterday, but not where it will be to-morrow,-
to-day. It comes! The roof trembles The beams crack !
The ground rocks to and fro! Hoarse thunder resounds
from the bowels of the earth! And all these are but the
beginning of sorrows. Now, what help ? What wisdom can
prevent, what strength resist, the blow ? What money can
purchase, I will not say deliverance, but an hour's reprieve?
Poor honourable fool, where are now thy titles? Wealthy
fool, where is now thy golden god? If any thing can help,
it must be prayer. But what wilt thou pray to? Not to the
God of heaven; you suppose him to have nothing to do with
earthquakes. No; they proceed in a merely natural way,
either from the earth itself, or from included air, or from
subterraneous fires or waters. If thou prayest, then, (which
perhaps you never did before,) it must be to some of these.
Begin: 0 earth, earth, earth, hear the voice of thy children !
Hear, O air, water, fire!" And will they hear? You
know it cannot be. How deplorable, then, is his condition,
who in such an hour has none else to flee to How uncom-
fortable the supposition, which implies this, by direct necessary
consequence, namely, that all these things are the pure result
of merely natural causes !
* But supposing the earthquake which made such havoc at
Lisbon should never travel so far as London, is there nothing
else which can reach us? What think you of a comet?
Are we absolutely out of the reach of this? You cannot say
we are; seeing these move in all directions, and through
every region of the universe. And would the approach of
one of these amazing spheres be of no importance to us?
especially in its return from the sun; when that immense body
is (according to Sir Isaac Newton's calculation) heated two
thousand times hotter than a red-hot cannon-ball. The late
ingenious and accurate Dr. Halley (never yet suspected of
enthusiasm) fixes the return of the great comet in the year
1758; and he observes that the last time it revolved, it moved
in the very same line which the earth describes in her annual
course round the sun; but the earth was on the other side of
THE EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON.
her orbit. Whereas, in this revolution, it will move, not
only in the same line, but in the same part of that line
wherein the earth moves. And who can tell," says that great
man, "what the consequences of such a contact may be ?"
Who can tell! Any man of common understanding, who
knows the very first elements of astronomy. The immediate
consequence of such a bo:iy of solid fire touching the earth
must necessarily be, that it will set the earth on fire, and
burn it to a coal, if it do not likewise strike it out of its
course; in which case, (so far as we can judge,) it must drop
down directly into the sun.
But what, if this vast body is already on its way? if it is
nearer than we are aware of? What, if these unusual,
unprecedented motions of the waters be one effect of its near
approach? We cannot be certain that it will be visible to
the inhabitants of our globe, till it has imbibed the solar fire.
But possibly we may see it sooner than we desire. We may
see it, not as Milton speaks,-
From its horrid hair
Shake pestilence and war;
but ushering in far other calamities than these, and of more
extensive influence. Probably it will be seen first drawing
nearer and nearer, till it appears as another moon in magni-
tude, though not in colour, being of a deep fiery red; then
scorching and burning up all the produce of the earth, driving
away all clouds, and so cutting off the hope or possibility of
any rain or dew; drying up every fountain, stream, and river,
causing all faces to gather blackness, and all men's hearts to
fail; then executing its grand commission on the globe itself,
and causing the stars to fall from heaven.* 0, who may
abide when this is done? Who will then be able to stand?
Quo mare, quo tellus, correptaque regia coli
Ardeat; et mundi moles operosa laboret ? t
What shall we do? do now, that none of these things
may come upon us unawares? We are wisely and diligently
What security is there against all this, upon the infidel hypothesis ? But
upon the Christian, there is abundant security : For the Scripture prophecies ase
not yet fulfilled.
*t This quotation from Ovid is thus translated by Dryden:-
When all his blazing worlds above shall burn,
And all the inferior globe to cinders turn ? "-EDIT.
10 SERIOUS THOUGHTS ON
providing for our defence against one enemy; with such a
watchful wisdom and active diligence, as is a comfort to every
honest Englishman. But why should we not show the same
wisdom and diligence in providing against all our enemies?
And if our wisdom and strength be sufficient to defend us,
let us not seek any further. Let us without delay recruit our
forces, and guard our coasts against the famine, and murrain,
and pestilence; and still more carefully against immoderate
rains, and winds, and lightning, and earthquakes, and
comets; that we may no longer be under any painful appre-
hensions of any present or future danger, but may smile,
Secure, amidst the jar of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds I
But if our own wisdom and strength be not sufficient to
defend us, let us not be ashamed to seek farther help. Let
us even dare to own we believe there is a God; nay, and
not a lazy, indolent, epicurean deity, who sits at ease upon
the circle of the heavens, and neither knows nor cares what
is done below; but one who, as he created heaven and
earth, and all the armies of them, as he sustains them all
by the word of his power, so cannot neglect the work of his
own hands. With pleasure we own there is such a God,
whose eye pervades the whole sphere of created beings, who
knoweth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by
their names; a God whose wisdom is as the great abyss,
deep and wide as eternity;
Who, high in power, in the beginning said,
Let sea, and air, and earth, and heaven be made:
And it was so: And when he shall ordain
In other sort, hath but to speak again,
And they shall be no more :
Yet more; whose mercy riseth above the heavens, and his
faithfulness above the clouds; who is loving to every man,
and his mercy over all his works. Let us secure him on our
side; let us make this wise, this powerful, this gracious
God our friend. Then need we not fear, though the earth
be moved, and the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;
no, not though the heavens being on fire are dissolved, and
the very elements melt with fervent heat. It is enough
that the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of love is our
THE EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON.
But how shall we secure the favour of this great God ?
How, but by worshipping him in spirit and in truth; by
uniformly imitating Him we worship, in all his imitable
perfections? without which the most accurate systems of,
opinions, all external modes of religion, are idle cobwebs of
the brain, dull farce and empty show. Now, God is love:
Love God then, and you are a true worshipper. Love man-
kind, and God is your God, your Father, and your Friend.
But see that you deceive not your own soul; for this is not a
point of small importance. And by this you may know: If
you love God, then you are happy in God; if you love God,
riches, honours, and the pleasures of sense are no more to
you than bubbles on the water: You look on dress and
equipage, as the tassels of a fool's cap; diversions, as the bells
on a fool's coat. If you love God, God is in all your thoughts,
and your whole life is a sacrifice to him. And if you love
mankind, it is your one design, desire, and endeavour, to
spread virtue and happiness all around you, to lessen the
present sorrows, and increase the joys, of evtry child of man;
and, if it be possible, to bring them with you to the rivers of
pleasure that are at God's right hand for evermore.
But where shall you find one who answers this happy
and amiable character? Wherever you find a Christian;
for this, and this alone, is real, genuine Christianity. Surely
you did not imagine that Christianity was no more than
such a system of opinions as is vulgarly called faith; or a
strict and regular attendance on any kind of external
worship. O no Were this all that it implied, Christianity
were indeed a poor, empty, shallow thing; such as none but
half-thinkers could admire, and all who think freely and
generously must despise. But this is not the case; the
spirit above described, this alone, is Christianity. And, if so,
it is no wonder that even a celebrated unbeliever should
make that frank declaration, "Well, after all, these Christian
dogs are the happiest fellows upon earth!" Indeed they
are. Nay, we may say more; they are the only happy men
upon earth; and that though we should have no regard at
all to the particular circumstances above mentioned; suppose
there was no such thing as a comet in the universe, or none
that would ever approach the solar system; suppose there
had never been an earthquake in the world, or that we were
assured there never would be another; yet what advantage
SERIOUS THOUGHTS ON
has a Christian (I mean always a real, scriptural Christian)
above all other men upon earth !
What advantage has he over you in particular, if you do
not believe the Christian system! For suppose you have
utterly driven away storms, lightning, earthquakes, comets,
yet there is another grim enemy at the door; and you cannot
drive him away. It is death. "0 that death," (said a
gentleman of large possessions, of good health, and a cheerful
natural temper,) I do not love to think of it It comes in
and spoils all!" So it does indeed. It comes'with its
"miscreated front," and spoils all your mirth, diversions,
pleasures! It turns all into the silence of a tomb, into
rottenness and dust; and many times it will not stay till the
trembling hand of old age beckons to it; but it leaps upon
you while you are in the dawn of life, in the bloom and
strength of your years.
The morning flowers display their sweets,
And gay their silken leaves unfold,
Unmindful of the noon-tide heats,
And fearless of the evening cold.
Nipp'd by the wind's unkindly blast,
Parch'd by the sun's director ray,
The momentary glories waste,
The short-lived beauties die away.
And where are you then? Does your soul disperse and
dissolve into common air? Or does it share the fate of its
former companion, and moulder into dust? Or does it
remain conscious of its own existence, in some distant,
unknown world? It is all unknown! A black, dreary,
melancholy scene Clouds and darkness rest upon it.
But the case is far otherwise with a Christian. To him life
and immortality are brought to light. His eye pierces through
the vale of the shadow of death, and sees into the glories of
eternity. His view does not terminate on that black line,
The verge twixtt mortal and immortal being;
lut extends beyond the bounds of time and place, to the
house of God eternal in the heavens. Hence he is so far
from looking upon death as an enemy, that he longs to feel
his welcome embrace. He groans (but they are pleasing
groans) to have mortality swallowed up of life.
Perhaps you will say, But this is all a dream. He is
THE EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON.
only in a fool's paradise !" Supposing he be, it is a pleasing
Maneat mentis gratissimus error *
If he is only in a fool's paradise, yet it is a paradise; while
you are wandering in a wide, weary, barren world. Be it
folly; his folly gives him that present happiness which all
your wisdom cannot find. So that he may now turn the
tables upon you, and say,-
"Whoe'er can ease by folly get,
With safety may despise
The wretched, unenjoying wit,
The miserable wise."
Such unspeakable advantage (even if there is none beyond
death) has a Christian over an Infidel It is true, he has
given up some pleasures before he could attain to this. But
what pleasures ? That of eating till he is sick; till he
weakens a strong, or quite destroys a weak, constitution.
lie has given up the pleasure of drinking a man into a beast,
and that of ranging from one worthless creature to another,
till he brings a canker upon his estate, and perhaps rotten
ness into his bones. But in lieu of these, he has now
(whatever may be hereafter) a continual serenity of mind, a
constant evenness and composure of temper, "a peace which
passeth all understanding." He has learned in -every state
wherein he is, therewith to be content; nay; to give thanks,
as being clearly persuaded, it is better for himi than any
other. He feels continual gratitude to his supreme Bene-
factor, Father of Spirits, Parent of Good; and tender,
disinterested benevolence to all the children of this common
Father. May the Father of your spirit, and-the Father of
our Lord' Jesus Christ, make you such a'Christian! May
He work in your soul a divine conviction of things not
discerned by eyes of flesh and blood May He give you to
see Him that is invisible, and to taste of the powers of the
world to come May He fill you with all peace and joy in
believing, that you may be happy in life, in death, in
Let this pleasing mental error remain.-EDrT.
THE PRESENT STATE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
IN A LETTER TO A FRIEND
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1708
Periculose plenum opus alex
Traceas; et incedis per ignes
Suppositos cineri doloso.*-IIORAT.
You desire me to give you my thoughts freely on the
present state of public affairs. But do you consider? I am
no politician; politics lie quite out of my province. Neither
have I any acquaintance, at least no intimacy, with any that
bear that character. And it is no easy matter to form any
judgment concerning things of so complicated a nature. It
is the more difficult, because, in order to form our judgment,
such a multitude of facts should be known, few of which can
be known with tolerable exactness by any but those who are
eye-witnesses of them. And how few of these will relate
what they have seen precisely as it was, without adding,
omitting, or altering any circumstance, either with or with-
out design And may not a slight addition or alteration
give a quite different colour to the whole ?
And as we cannot easily know, with any accuracy, the facts
on which we are chiefly to form our judgment; so, much less
can we expect to know the various springs of action which
gave rise to those facts, and on which, more than on the bare
actions themselves, the characters of the actors depend. It
is on this account that an old writer advises us to judge
* Thus translated by Francis:-
"You treat adventurous, and incautious tread
On fires with faithless embers overspread."-EDIT.
FREE THOUGHTS ON PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
nothing before the time; to abstain, as far as possible, from
judging peremptorily, either of things or persons, till the
time comes, when the hidden things of darkness," the facts
now concealed, "will be brought to light," and the hidden
springs of action will be discovered,-"the thoughts and
intents of" every human "heart."
Perhaps you will say, "Nay, every Englishman is a politi-
cian; we suck in politics with our mother's milk. It is as
natural for us to talk politics as to breathe; we can instruct
both the King and his Council. We can in a trice reform the
State, point out every blunder of this or that Minister, and
tell every step they ought to take to be arbiters of all Europe."
I grant, every cobbler,tinker, porter, and hackney-coachman
can do this; but I am not so deep learned : While they are
sure of everything, I am in a manner sure of nothing;
except of that very little which I see with my own eyes, or
hear with my own ears. However, since you desire me to
tell you what I think, I will do it with all openness. Only
please to remember, I do not take upon me to dictate either
to you or to any one. I only use the privilege of an English-
man, to speak my naked thoughts; setting down just what
appears to me to be the truth, till I have better information.
At present, indeed, I have not much information, having
read little upon this head but the public papers; and you
know these are mostly on one side; in them little is to be seen
on the other side; and that little is seldom wrote by masterly
writers. How few of them lave such a pen as Junius !
But supposing we have ever so much information, how
little can one rely on it! on the information given by either
party For is not one as warm as the other ? And who does
not know how impossible it is for a man to see things right
when he is angry ? Does not passion blind the eyes of the
understanding, as smoke does the bodily eyes? And how
little of the truth can we learn from those who see nothing
but through a cloud?
This advantage then I have over both parties,-the being
angry at neither. So that if I have a little understanding
from nature or experience, it is (in this instance at least)
unclouded by passion. I wish the same happiness which I
wish to myself, to those on one side and on the other. I.
would not hurt either in the least degree; I would not
willingly give them any pain.
FREE THOUGHTS ON
I have likewise another advantage, that of having no bias
one way or the other. I have no interest depending; I want
no man's favour, having no hopes, no fears, from any man;
and having no particular attachment of any kind to either of
the contending parties.
But am I so weak as to imagine, that because I am not
angry at them, they will not be angry at me? No; I do not
imagine any such thing. Probably both will be angry
enough; that is, the warm men on both sides, were it only
for this,-that I am not as warm as themselves. For what
is more insufferable to a man in a passion, than to see you
keep your temper? And is it not a farther provocation, that
I do not behave as he does to his opponent; that I call him
no ill names; that I give him no ill words ? I expect, there-
fore, to be abused on all sides; and cannot be disappointed,
unless by being treated with common humanity.
This premised, I come to the point, to give you my "free
thoughts on the present state of public affairs;" the causes
and consequences of the present commotions. But permit me
to remind you, that I say nothing peremptorily. I do not take
upon me to affirm, that things are thus or thus. Ijust set down
my naked thoughts, and that without any art or colouring.
"What then do you think is the direct and principal
cause of the present public commotions, of the amazing
ferment among the people, the general discontent of the
nation ?" which now rises to an higher degree than it has
done in the memory of man; insomuch that I have heard it
affirmed with my own ears, "King George ought to be treated
as King Charles was !" Is it the extraordinary bad character
of the King ? I do not apprehend it is. Certainly, if he is
not, as some think, the best Prince in Europe, he is far from
being the worst. One not greatly prejudiced in his favour
does not charge him with want of virtue, (of this he judges
him to have more than enough,) but with wanting those
royal vices, which (with Machiavel and the ingenious Doctor
Mandeville) he supposes would be public benefits.
"But does he not likewise want understanding?" So it
has been boldly affirmed. And it must be acknowledged, this
charge is supported by facts which cannot be denied. The
First is, he believes the Bible; the Second, he fears God; the
Third, he loves the Queen. Now, suppose the First of these,
considering the prejudice of education, might consist with some
share of understanding, yet how can this be allowed with
regard to the Second? For although, in the times of igno-
rance and barbarism men imagined, "the fear of God" was
"the beginning of wisdom," our enlightened age has discovered
it is the end of it; that whenever the fear of God begins,
wisdom is at an end. And with regard to the Third, for a
man to love his wife, unless perhaps for a month or two,
must argue such utter want of sense, as most men of rank are
now ashamed of. But, after all, there are some who, allowing
the facts, deny the consequence; who still believe, and that
after themnost accurate inquiry, from such as have had the best
means of information, that there are few noblemen or gentle-
men in the nation, (and we have many not inferior to most in
Europe,) who have either so good a natural understanding, or
so general a knowledge of all the valuable parts of learning.'
"But suppose something might be said for His Majesty's
understanding, what can be said in excuse of his bad actions;
as, First, his pardoning a murderer ?" I really think some-
thing may be said on this head also. Can you or I believe
that the King knew him to be such? understood him to be
a wilful murderer? I am not sure of it at all; neither have
you any rational proof, even supposing this to have been the
case, which is far from being clear. And if he did not know
or believe him to be such, how can he be blamed for pardon-
ing him ? Not to have pardoned him in this case would
have been inexcusable before God and man.
But what can be said in excuse of his being governed by
his mother, and fixing all his measures at Carlton-House ?"
It may be said, that if it was so, it is past, and so is no.
matter of present complaint. But who informed you that it
was ? any eye and ear witness ? 0, it is in every body's
mouth." Very well; but every body is nobody; so this proof
is no proof at all. And what better proof have you, or any
man, of his fixing any of his measures there ? This has been,
affirmed an hundred times, but never was proved yet. "Nay,
but is it not undeniable fact, that he spent hour after hour
with her; and especially when he was hard pressed, and
knew not which way to turn?" And what then? Who
loves him better than his parent ? And whom has he a right
to love better than her ? Who is more faithful to him, more
steadily desirous of his welfare ? And whom can he trust
better ? Suppose then it was true, (which is more than any
VOL. XI. C
FREE THOUGHTS ON
man can prove,) that he did consult her on all occasions, and
particularly when he was in trouble and perplexity, who can
blame him for so doing ?
"Well, be this as it may, who can help blaming him for
giving so many pensions?" This is a thing which I do not
understand, and can therefore neither praise nor blame.
Some indeed, I think, are well bestowed on men eminent in
their several professions. All, I believe, are well designed,
particularly those given to men who are removed from public
employment. Yet, I fear, some of these are ill bestowed on
those who not only fly in the face of their benefactor, but
avail themselves of his favours to wound the deeper. "For
were he not in the wrong, these would never turn against
him!" What pity they should enjoy them another day,
after such foul and flagrant ingratitude !
This fault (if it were really such) would argue too great
easiness of temper. But this is quite the reverse of what is
commonly objected,-inflexible stubbornness. "Nay, what
else could occasion the settled disregard of so many petitions
and remonstrances, signed by so many thousand hands, and
declaring the sense of the nation?" The sense of the nation!
Who can imagine this that knows the manner wherein nine
in ten, I might say ninety-nine in an hundred, of those
petitions are procured? A Lord or Squire (sometimes two
or more) goes, or sends his steward, round the town where
his seat is, with a paper, which he tells the honest men is for
the good of their King and country. He desires each to set
his name or mark to this. And who has the hardiness to
gainsay; especially if my Lord keeps open house ? Mean-
time, the contents of it they know nothing about.
I was not long since at a town in Kent, when one of these
petitions was carrying about. I asked one and another,
Have you signed the petition?" and found none that had
refused it. And yet not one single person to whom I spoke
had either read it, or heard it read.
Now, I would ask any man of common sense, what stress
is to be laid on these petitions; and how they do declare
"the sense of the nation;" nay, of the very persons that
have signed them? What a shocking insult is it then on
the whole kingdom, to palm these petitions upon us, of
which the very subscribers have not read three lines, as the
general sense of the nation I"
But suppose they had read all that they have subscribed,
what judges are they of these matters ? To put this beyond
dispute, let us only propose one case out of a thousand.
Step back a few years, and suppose Mr. Pitt at the head of
the administration. Here comes up a petition from New-
castle-upon-Tyne, signed by five hundred hands, begging
His Majesty to dismiss that corrupt Minister, who was
taking such measures as tended to the utter ruin of the
nation. What would Mr. Pitt say to this? Would he not
ask, "How came these colliers and keelmen to be so web
acquainted with affairs of State ? How long have they been
judges of public administration? of naval and military
operations ? How came they to understand the propriety or
impropriety of the measures I take? Do they comprehend
the balance of Europe? Do they know the weakness and
strength of its several kingdoms; the characters of the
Monarchs and their Ministers; the springs of this and that
public motion? Else, why do they take upon them to scan
my conduct? Ne sutor ultra crepidam 'Let them mind
their own work,' keep to their pits and keels, and leave State
affairs to me."
But surely you do not place the citizens of London on a
level with the colliers of Newcastle !" I do not. And yet I
suppose they were equally incompetent judges of the measures
which Mr. Pitt took. And I doubt they are full as incom-
petent judges of the measures taken by the present ministry.
To form a tolerable judgment of them requires, not only a
good understanding, but more time than common tradesmen
can spare, and better information than they can possibly
procure. I think, therefore, that the encouraging them to
pass their verdict on Ministers of State, yea, on King, Lords,
and Commons, is not only putting them out of their way,
but doing them more mischief than you are aware of.
"But the remonstrance Surely the King ought to have
paid more regard to the remonstrance of the city of London."
Consider the case: The city had presented a petition which
he could by no means approve of, as he judged it was
designed not so much to inform him as to inflame his subjects.
After he had rejected this, as mildly as could be done, whilst
he viewed it in this light, they present a remonstrance to the
same effect, and (as he judged) with the same design. What
then could he do less than he did ? Could he seem to approve
FREE THOUGHTS ON
what he did not approve? If not, how could he testify his
full disapprobation in more inoffensive terms ?
As to the idle, shameless tale of his bursting out into'
laughter at the Magistrates, any who know His Majesty's
temper would as soon believe that he spit in their faces, or
struck them a box on the ear.
His Majesty's character, then, after all the pains which
have been taken to make him odious, as well as contemptible,
remains unimpeached; and therefore cannot be, in any
degree, the cause of the present commotions. His whole
conduct, both in public and private, ever since he began his
reign, the uniform tenor of his behaviour, the general course
both of his words and actions, has been worthy of an
Englishman, worthy of a Christian, and worthy of a King.
"Are not, then, the present commotions owing to his
having extraordinary bad Ministers? Can you say that his
Ministers are as blameless as himself?" I do not say this;
I do not think so. But I think they are not one jot worse
than those that went before them; nor than any set of
Ministers who have been in place for at least thirty years last
past. I think they are not a jot worse than their opponents,
than those who bawl the loudest against them, either with
regard to intellectual or moral abilities, with regard to sense
or honesty. Set twenty against twenty, or ten against ten;
and is there a pin to choose ?
However, are not these commotions owing to the extra-
ordinary bad measures they have taken? Surely you will
not attempt to defend all their measures No, indeed. I
do not defend General Warrants. But I observe, 1. The
giving these, be it good or bad, is no extraordinary measure.
Has it not been done by all Ministers for many years, and
that with little or no objection ? 2. This ordinary measure
is of exceeding little importance to the nation in general:
So little, that it was never before thought worthy to be put
into the list of public grievances: So little, that it never
deserved the hundredth part of the outcry which has been
made concerning it.
I do not defend the killing of Mr. Allen. But I would
have the fact truly represented. By the best information I
can gain, I believe it stands just thus: About that time the
mob had been very turbulent. On that day they were likely
to be more insolent than ever. It was therefore judged proper
to send a party of soldiers to prevent or repress their violence.
Their presence did not prevent it; the mob went so far as to
throw stones at the soldiers themselves. One of them hit
and wounded a soldier; two or three pursued him; and fired
at one whom, being in the same dress, they supposed to be
the same man. But it was not; it was Mr. Allen. Now,
though this cannot be excused, yet, was it the most horrid
villany that ever was perpetrated ? Surely, no. Notwith.
standing all the tragical exclamations which have been made
concerning it, what is this to the killing a man in cool blood I
And was this never heard of in England ?
I do not defend the measures which have been taken relative
to the Middlesex election. But let it be remembered, First,
that there was full as much violence on the one side as on
the other. Secondly, that a right of expulsion, of putting a
member out of the. House, manifestly implies a right of
exclusion, of keeping him out; otherwise that right amounts
to just nothing at all. Thirdly, that consequently, a member
expelled is incapable of being re-elected, at least during that
session; as incapable as one that is disqualified any other
way. It follows, Fourthly, that the votes given for this
disqualified person are null and void, being, in effect, given
for nobody. Therefore, Fifthly, if the other candidate had
two hundred votes, he had a majority of two hundred.
Let it be observed farther, if the electors had the liberty
of choosing any qualified person, it is absolute nonsense
to talk of their being deprived of the liberty of choosing,
because they were not permitted to choose a person utterly
But suppose a single borough or county were deprived of
this in a single instance; (which undoubtedly is the case,
whenever a person duly elected does not sit in the House;)
how is this depriving the good people of England, the nation,
of their birthright ? What an insult upon common sense is
this wild way of talking If Middlesex is wronged (put it
so) in this instance, how is Yorkshire or Cumberland affected
by it; or twenty counties and forty boroughs besides; much
less all the nation ? O, but they may be affected by ar.
by." Very true! And the sky may fall!
To see this whole matter in the clearest light, let any one
read and consider the speech of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield,
on a motion, made by Lord Chatham, "to repeal and rescind
'REE THOUGHTS ON
the Resolutions of the House of Commons, in regard to the
expulsion and incapacitation of Mr. Wilkes:"-
In this debate, though it has been already spoken tc
with great eloquence and perspicuity, I cannot content
myself with only giving a single vote; I feel myself under a
strong necessity of saying something more. The subject
requires it; and though the hour is late," (it being then near
ten o'clock,) "I shall demand your indulgence, while I offei
my sentiments on this motion.
I am sure, my Lords, many of you must remember, from
your reading and experience, several persons expelled the
House of Commons, without ever this House once pretending
to interfere or call in question by what authority they did so.
I remember several myself;" (here his Lordship quoted
several cases;) "in all which, though most of the candidates
were sure to be re-chosen, they never once applied, resting
contented with the expulsatory power of the House, as the
only self-sufficient, dernier resort of application.
"It has been echoed on all sides, from the partisans of this
motion, that the House of Commons acted illegally, in accept.
ing Colonel Luttrel, who had but two hundred and ninety-
six votes, in preference to Mr. Wilkes, who had one thousand
one hundred and forty-three. But this is a mistake of the
grossest nature imaginable, and which nothing but the intem-
perature of people's zeal could possibly transport them to, as
Mr. Wilkes had been previously considered by the laws as an
unqualified person to represent the people in Parliament;
therefore it appears very plainly, that Colonel Luttrel had a
very great majority, not less than two hundred and ninety-
six, Mr. Wilkes being considered as nobody in the eye of the
law; consequently, Colonel Luttrel had no legal opposition.
In all contested elections, where one of the parties think
themselves not legally treated, I should be glad to know to
whom it is they resort ? Is it to the freeholders of the borough
or the county they would represent? Or is it to the people at
large? Who cannot see at once the absurdity of such a ques-
tion? Who so ignorant of our laws, that cannot immediately
reply and say, 'It is the House of Commons who are the only
judges to determine every nicety of the laws of election; and
from whom there is no appeal, after they have once given their
determination?' All the freeholder has to do is to determine
on his object, by giving him his vote; the ultimate power lies
with the House of Commons, who is to judge of his being a
legal object of representation in the several branches of his
qualifications. This, my Lords, I believe, is advancing no
new doctrine, nor adding an iota to the privilege of a member
of the House of Commons, more than what the constitution
long ago has given him; yet here is a cry made, in a case
that directly applies to what I have been speaking of, as if it
was illegal, arbitrary, and unprecedented.
"I do not remember, my Lords, in either the course of my
reading or observation ever to have known an instance of a
person's being re-chosen, after being expelled, till the year
1711; then, indeed, my memory serves me with the case of Sir
Robert Walpole. He was expelled the House of Commons,
and was afterwards re-chosen: But this last event did not take
place till the meeting of the next Parliament; and during that
interval, I find no debate about the illegality of his expulsion, no
interference of the House of Lords, nor any addresses from the
public, to decry that measure by a dissolution of Parliament.
"Indeed, as for a precedent of one House interfering with
the rules, orders, or business of another, my memory does
not serve me at present with the recollection of a single one.
As to the case of Titus Oates, as mentioned by the noble
Lord in my eye, (Lord Chatham,) he is very much mistaken
in regard to the mode; his was a trial in the King's Bench,
which, on a writ of error, the House of Commons interfered
in, and they had an authority for so doing. A Judge
certainly may be mistaken in points of law; the wisest and
the best of us may be so at times; and it reflects no discredit,
on the contrary, it does particular, honour, when he finds
himself so mistaken, to reverse his own decree. But for one
House of Parliament interfering with the business, and
reversing the resolutions, of another, it is not only
unprecedented, but unconstitutional to the last degree.
"But suppose, my Lords, that this House coincided with
this motion; suppose we all agreed, nem. con., to repeal and
rescind the Resolutions of the House of Commons, in regard
to the expulsion and incapacitation of Mr. Wilkes;-Good
God what may be the consequence The people are violent
enough already; and to have the superior branch of legisla,
tion join them, would be giving such a public encouragement
to their, proceedings, that I almost tremble while I even
suppose such a scene of anarchy and confusion."
FREE THOUGHTS ON
What then can we think of the violent outcry, that the
nation is oppressed, deprived of that liberty which their
ancestors bought with so much treasure and blood, and
delivered down through so many generations? Do those
who raise this cry believe what they say ? If so, are they
not under the highest infatuation? seeing that England,
from the time of William the Conqueror, yea, of Julius
Caesar, never enjoyed such liberty, civil and religious, as it
does at this day. Nor do we know of any other kingdom or
state in Europe or in the world, which enjoys the like.
I do not defend the measures which have been taken with
regard to America: I doubt whether any man can defend
them, either on the foot of law, equity, or prudence. But
,whose measures were these? If I do not mistake, Mr.
George Grenville's. Therefore the whole merit of these
measures belongs to him, and not to the present ministry.
But is not the general dissatisfaction owing, if not to any
of the preceding causes, to the extraordinary bad conduct of
the Parliament, particularly the House of Commons ? This
is set in so clear a light by a late writer, that I need only
transcribe his words:-
"The last recess of Parliament was a period filled with
unprecedented troubles; and the session opened in the midst
of tumults. Ambitious men, with a perseverance uncommon
in indolent and, luxurious times, rung all the changes of
popular noise for the purpose of intimidation. The ignorant,
who could not distinguish between real and artificial clamours,
were alarmed; the lovers of their own ease.wished to sacrifice
the just dignity of the House of Commons to a temporary
relief, from the grating sound of seditious scurrility.
Hence the friends of the constitution saw the opening of
the session with anxiety and apprehension. They were afraid
of the timidity of others, and dreaded nothing more than
that panic to which popular assemblies, as well as armies, are
sometimes subject. The event has shown that their fears
were groundless: The House supported its decisions against
the current of popular prejudice; and, in defending their
own judicial rights, secured the most solid part of the liberties
of their constituents.
Their firm adherence to their Resolutions was not more
noble than their concessions in the matter of their own rights
was disinterested and generous. The extensive privileges which,
in a series of ages, had accumulated to the members of both
Houses, were certainly inconsistent with the impartial distri-
bution of justice. To sacrifice these privileges was not only
diametrically opposite to the idea of self-interest, with which
some asperse the Legislature, but it has also thrown a greater
weight into the scale of public freedom than any other Act passed
since the Revolution. And ithas reflected honour on the present
administration, that a bill, so very favourable to the liberty of
the subject, was brought in and carried through by them.
"The arbitrary manner of determining petitions about
elections has been a serious complaint, and of long continu-
ance. I shall not deny to Mr. Grenville the merit of bringing
in a bill for remedying this grievance; but its passing as it
did is a certain proof "that the pretended influence of admi-
nistration over a majority of the House is a mere bugbear,
held forth for private views by the present opposition.
"During the whole session, the House of Lords behaved
with that dignity and unalterable firmness which became the
first assembly in a great nation. Attacked with impertinent
scurrility, they smiled upon rage, and treated the ravings of
a despotic tribune with contempt. When, with an infamous
perversion of his pretended love to freedom, he attempted to
extend the control of the Peers to the resolutions of the
representatives of the people, they nobly rejected the golden
bait; and scorned to raise the dignity of their House upon
the ruins of the other. They, in short, throughout the
session, showed a spirit that disdained to be braved, a
magnanimity that diminished their own personal power for
the ease and comfort of the inferior subject.
If the conduct of Parliament is in any instance blamable,
it is in a lenity that is inconsistent with the vulgar idea of
political courage. They have been attacked with scurrility
in the Lower House; in the Upper, they have been treated
with indecency and disrespect. Their prudence and love for
the public peace prevailed over their resentment. They
knew that legal punishment is in these times the road to
popularity; and they were unwilling to raise insignificant
men into a consequence that might disturb the State."
So far we have gained. We have removed the imaginary
causes of the present commotions. It plainly appears, they are
not owing to the extraordinary badness, either of the King,
of his Parliament, of his Ministers, or of the measures which
FREE THOUGHTS ON
they have taken. To what then are they owing ? What are
the real causes of this amazing ferment among the people ?
Before I say anything on this subject, let me remind you
once more, that I do not dictate; I do not take upon me to
affirm anything, but simply tell you what I think. I think,
the first and principal spring of the whole motion is'French
gold. "But why do you think so?" I will tell you as
plainly as I can:-
A person of a complete, uniform character, encumbered with
no religion, with no regard to virtue or morality, squanders
away all that he has. He applies for a place, but is disap-
pointed. He is thoroughly exasperated, abuses the ministry,
asperses the King's mother in the grossest manner, is prose-
cuted, (not for this, but other achievements,) and retires to
France. After some time, he suddenly returns to London,
sets up for a patriot, and vehemently inveighs against evil
counsellors, grievances, and mal-administration. The cry
spreads; more and more espouse his cause, and second him
with all their might. He becomes head of the party; and
not only the vulgar but the world runs after him. He drives
on with still increasing numbers, carrying all before him,
inflaming the nation more and more, and making their
minds evil-affected, in appearance towards the Ministers of
State, but in reality towards the King. Now, can any reason-
able man believe that the French are ignorant of all this; or
that they have no hand at all therein, but are mere uncon-
cerned spectators ? Do they not understand their own interest
better? If theylid not kindle the fire, will they not use all
means to prevent its going out? Will they not take care to
add fuel to the flame ? Will they not think forty or fifty thou-
,sand louis-d'ors well bestowed on so important an occasion ?
I cannot but think this is (at least) one principal spring of
all the present commotions. But may not other causes like-
wise concur? As, First, covetousness; a love of English as
well as of French gold. Do not many hunger after the
lucrative employment which their neighbours enjoy? They
had rather have them themselves. And will not those that
are hungry naturally cry for food ? Secondly, ambition. How
many desire honour, perhaps more than they do money itself!
and how.various are the shapes which they will put on in
order to attain it! Thirdly, those who are not so much under
the power of these, are yet susceptible of pride or envy; and
PUBLIC AFFAIRS. 27
frequently of both together. To these we may, Fourthly,
add resentment. Many doubtless look upon themselves as
injured, were it only on this account, that they are not
regarded, yea, and recompensed, as their merits or services
deserve. Others are angry because they are disappointed;
because, after all their schemes, which they imagined could
not fail of success, they are not able to carry their point.
Now, all these, united by these various motives, some
encouraged by good pay in hand, (and perhaps by promises
of more,) others animated by covetousness, by ambition, by
envy, pride, and resentment, by every means animate all
they have access to. They treat both rich and poor, according
to their rank, with all elegance and profuseness. They talk
largely and vehemently. They write abundantly, having
troops enough in their service. They publish addresses,
petitions, remonstrances, directed nominally to the King,
(otherwise they would not answer the end,) but really to the
people. Herein their orators make use of all the powers of
rhetoric. They bring forth their strong reasons,-the very
best which the cause will bear. They set them off with all
the beauty of language, all the poignancy of wit. They spread
their writings in pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, &c., to
every corner of the land. They are indefatigable in their
work; they never stop to take breath; but as they have
tongues and pens at command, when one has done, another
begins, and so on and on with a continuance. By this means
the flame spreads wider and wider; it runs as fire among the
stubble. The madness becomes epidemic, and no medicine
hitherto has availed against it. The whole nation sees the
State in danger, as they did the Church sixty years ago; and
the world now wonders after Mr. Wilkes, as it did then after
One means of increasing the ferment is the suffering no
contradiction; the hooting at all who labour for peace, and
treading them down like dirt; the using them just as they do
the King, without either justice or mercy. If any writes on
that head, presently the cry is raised, 0, he only writes for
pay !" But, if he does, do not those on the other side too ?
Which are paid best I do not know; but doubtless both are
paid, a very few old-fashioned mortals excepted, who, having
nothing to hope, and nothing to fear, simply consider the
good of their country.
FREE THOUGHTS ON
But what do you think the end will be?" It is easy to
foresee this. Supposing things to take their natural course,
they must go from bad to worse.
In stipulam veluti cum flammafurentibus Austris
Incidit, aut rapidus montanoflumine torrens
Exiit, oppositasque evicit gurgite moles.*
The people will be inflamed more and more; the torrent will
swell higher and higher, till at length it bursts through all
opposition, and overflows the land. The consequences of
these commotions will be (unless an higher hand interpose)
exactly the same as those of the like commotions in the last
century. First, the land will become a field of blood; many
thousands of poor Englishmen will sheathe their swords in
each other's bowels, for the diversion of their good neigh-
bours. Then either a commonwealth will ensue, or else a
second Cromwell. One must be; but it cannot be determined
which, King W- or King Mob.
"But that case is not parallel with this." It is not, in all
particulars. In many respects it is widely different. As,
First, with regard to the King himself. Few will affirm the
character of King Charles, even allowing the account given by
Lord Clarendon to be punctually true in every respect, to be
as faultless as that of King George. But other passions, as
well as love, are blind. So that when these are raised to a
proper height, especially when Junius has thrown a little
more of his magic dust into the eyes of the people, and con-
vinced them, that what are virtues in others, are mere vices
in him, the good patriots will see no manner of difference
between a King George and King Charles, or even a Nero.
The case is also widely different, Secondly, with regard to
the ministry. King George has no such furious drivers about
him as poor King Charles had. But a skilful painter may
easily add a few features, either to one or the other, and by a
little colouring make Lord North the very picture of Lord
Strafford, and Archbishop Cornwallis of Archbishop Laud.
How different likewise is the case, Thirdly, with regard to
These quotations from Virgil are thus translated by Pitt:-
Thus o'er the corn, while furious winds conspire,
Rolls on a wide-devouring blaze of fire;
Or some big torrent, from a mountain's brow,
Bursts, pours, and thunders down the vale below,"-
And" rolls resistless o'er the levell'd mounds."-EDIr.
the administration of public affairs! The requiring tonnage
and poundage, the imposing ship-money, the prosecutions in
the Bishops' Courts, in the High Commission Court, and in
the Star Chamber, were real and intolerable grievances. But
what is there in the present administration which bears any
resemblance to these? Yet if you will view even such an
affair as the Middlesex election through Mr. Horne's
magnifying-glass, it will appear a more enormous instance
of oppression than a hundred Star Chambers put together.
The parallel does not hold, Fourthly, with regard to the
opposers of the King and his ministry. Is Mr. Burke the
same calm, wise, disinterested man that Mr. Hampden was?
And where shall we find twenty noblemen and twenty gentle-
men (to name no more) in the present opposition, whom any
impartial man will set on a level with the same number of
those that opposed King Charles and his ministry.
Nor does the parallel hold, Fifthly, in this respect: That
was in great measure a contest about religion; at least, about
rites, and ceremonies, and opinions, which many supposed to
be religion. But all religion is out of the question now:
This is generally allowed, both by the one side and the
other, to be so very a trifle, that they do not give themselves
the least concern about it.
In one circumstance more there is an obvious difference.
The Parliament were then the King's enemies: Now they are
his firmest friends. But indeed this difference may easily be
removed. Let the King only take Mr. Wilkes's advice, and
dissolve Parliament. The Parliament of 1640, the first which
sat after the troubles began, although many therein were
much dissatisfied with the measures which had been taken, yet
would never have been prevailed upon to join in the schemes
which afterwards prevailed. But when that Parliament was
so seasonably dissolved, and a few men, wise in their
generation, practising with unwearied industry on the heated
spirits of the people, had procured a new Parliament to be
chosen after their own heart; then it was not long ere the
train took fire, and the whole constitution was blown up !
But, notwithstanding the disparity between the present
and past times in the preceding respects, yet how surprisingly
does the parallel hold in various particulars 1. An handful
of people laid a scheme, which few would have believed had a
man then declared it unto them; though indeed it is probable
U0 FREE THOUGHTS ON
that at the beginning they had no settled scheme at all.
2. These professed great zeal for the good of their country,
were vehement contenders for liberty, cried aloud against evil
Ministers and the evil measures which they pursued, and
were continually declaiming against either real or imaginary
grievances. 3. They were soon joined by men eminent for
probity as well as for understanding, who undoubtedly were
what the others appeared, lovers of their King and country,
and desired nothing but the removal of bad Ministers, and
the redress of real grievances. 4. The spirits even of these
were gradually sharpened and embittered against the King.
And they were drawn farther and farther by the art of their
leaders, till they had gone so far, they knew not how to
retreat; yea, till they, passively at least, concurred in those
measures which at first their very souls abhorred. 5. Mean-
time, the nation in general was inflamed with all possible
diligence, by addresses, petitions, and remonstrances, admir-
ably well devised for the purpose; which were the most
effectual libels that could be imagined against the King and
Government, and were continually spread throughout the
land, with all care and assiduity. 6. Among the most inflamed
and embittered in all England were the people of London, as
the managers had the best opportunity of practising upon
them. 7. All this time they professed the highest regard for
the King, for his honour as well as safety; an authentic
monument whereof we have in the Solemn League and
Covenant. And these professions they continued with equal
vehemence till within a short time of the cutting off his head!
Now, what man that has the least degree of understanding
may not see, in the clearest light,'how surprisingly the
parallel holds in all these circumstances ?
But do not you think it is in the power of the King to
put an end to all these commotions, by only sending his
mother away, changing his Ministers, and dissolving the
Parliament?" He may send his mother away; and so he
may his wife, if they please to rank her among his evil coun-
sellors. He may put out his present Ministers, and desire the
Lord Mayor to put others in their place. He may likewise
dissolve the present Parliament, (as King Charles did that of
1640,) and exchange it for one chosen, animated, and tutored
by Mr. Wilkes and his friends. But can you really believe
this would mend the matter? would put an end to all these
commotions? Certainly the sending his mother to the Indies
would avail nothing, unless he removed his Ministers too.
Nor would the putting out these, yea, every man of them,
avail anything, unless at the same time he put in every man
whom Lord Chatham chose. But neither would this avail,
unless he struck the finishing-stroke, by dissolving the
Parliament. Then indeed he would be as perfectly safe as
the sheep that had given up their dogs."
It would puzzle the wisest man alive to tell what the King
can do. What can he do, that will still the raging of the sea,
or the madness of the people ? Do you imagine it is in his
power to do anything which will please all parties ? Can he
do anything that will not displease one as much as it will
please the other? Shall he drive his mother out of the
land? Will this then please all parties? Nay, will not
some be apt to inquire, "How has she deserved it at his
hands ?" "Why, she is an evil counsellor." How does this
appear? Who are the witnesses of it? Indeed we have
read as grave and formal accounts of the conferences at
Carlton-House, as if the relater had stood all the time behind
the curtain, and taken down the whole matter, in short-hand.
But what shadow of proof of all this ? No more than of the
conferences related in Tristram Shandy.
"But she is a bad woman." Who ever said or thought
so, even while she was in the flower of her age ? From the
time she first set foot in England, was there a more faultless
character in the nation? Nay, was not her whole behaviour
as a wife, as a mother, as a mistress, and as a Princess, not
only blameless but commendable in the highest degree, till
that period of time arrived, when it was judged proper, in
order to blacken her (supposed) favourite, to asperse her too?
And then she was illud quod dicere nolo t One would
think that even the ignobile vulgus, the beasts of the people,"
the lowest, basest herd who wore the human form, would be
ashamed of either advancing or crediting so senseless, shame-
less a tale. Indeed I can hardly think it is credited by one
in an hundred even of those who foul their mouths with
repeating it. Let it die and be forgotten Let it not be
remembered that ever any Englishman took so dirty a
slander into his mouth.
This was wrote before the Princess Dowager went abroad.
t What I am reluctant to express.-EDIT.
FREE THOUGHTS ON
However, become what will of his mother, let him put
away his bad Ministers." Suppose they really are bad, do you
know where he can find better? Where can he find twenty
men, we will not say of Christian but of Roman integrity?
Point them out,-men of sound judgment, of clear appre-
hension, of universal benevolence, lovers of mankind, lovers
of their country, lovers of their King; men attached to no
party, but simply pursuing the general good of the nation;
not haughty or overbearing, not addicted to passion, not of a
revengeful temper; superior to covetousness on the one hand,
free from profuseness on the other. I say, show me the men,
only this small number; or rather, show them to His Majesty.
Let clear and satisfactory proof be given that this is their
character; and if these worthy men are not employed in the
place of the unworthy ones, you will then have some reason
to stretch your throat against evil Ministers.
But if the matter were wholly left to him, would not Lord
- immediately employ twenty such?" That may bear
some doubt. It is not certain that he would; perhaps he
knows not where to find them. And it is not certain to a
demonstration, that he would employ them if he did. It is
not altogether clear, that he is such himself, that he perfectly
answers this character. Is he free from pride; from anything
haughty in his temper, or overbearing in his behaviour? Is
he neither passionate nor revengeful? Is it indisputably
plain, that he is equally clear of covetousness on the one
hand, and profuseness on the other? Is he steady and
uniform in his conduct; always one thing ? Is he attached
to no party, but determined at all events singly to pursue the
general good of the nation ? Is he a lover of the King ? Is
he remarkably grateful to him, from whom he has received
no common favours? If not, though he has a strong under-
standing, and a large share of manly eloquence, still it may
be doubted, whether he and his friends would behave a jot
better than the Ministers we have already.
And suppose the King were to dissolve the Parliament, what
hope is there of having a better, even though the nation were as
quiet and peaceable as it was ten years ago? Are not the pre-
sent members, generally speaking, men of the greatest property
in the land ? And are they not, the greater part of them at
least, as honest and wise as their neighbours? How then should
we mend ourselves at any time; but especially at such a time
as this ? If a new Parliament were chose during this epidemic
madness, what probability of a better than the present?
Have we not all the reason in the world to apprehend it
would be a much worse? that it would be the Parliament of
1641, instead of the Parliament of 1640 ? Why, this is the
very thing we want, the very point we are aiming at. Then
would Junius and his friends quickly say, Sir King, know
your place! Es et ipse lignum.* Take your choice! Be
King log, or to the block !"
Does it not then appear, upon the whole, that it is by no
means in the power of the King, by any step which he can
possibly take, to put a stop to the present commotions;
that especially he cannot make concessions without making a
bad matter worse; that the way he has taken, the standing
his ground, was as wise a method as he could take, and as
likely to restore the peace of the nation, as any the wit
of man could devise? If any is more likely, would it not
be, vigorously to execute the laws against incendiaries;
against those who, by spreading all manner of lies, inflame
the people even to madness; to teach them, that there is
a difference between liberty, which is the glory of English-
men, and licentiousness, a wanton abuse of liberty, in
contempt of all laws, divine and human? Ought they not
to feel, if they will not see, that scandalum regis, scandalizing
the King," is as punishable as scandalum magnatum ?t that
for the future none may dare to slander the King, any more
than one of his nobles; much less to print and spread that
deadly poison among His Majesty's liege subjects ? Is not
this little less than high treason ? Is it not sowing the seeds
of rebellion ?
It is possible this might restore peace, but one cannot affirm
it would. Perhaps God has a controversy with the land,"
for the general neglect, nay, contempt, of all religion.
Perhaps he hath said, "Shall not my soul be avenged on
such a nation as this ?" And if this be the case, what can
avail, unless his anger be turned away from us? Was there
ever a time in which there was a louder call for them that
fear God to humble themselves before him? if haply general
humiliation and repentance may prevent general destruction I
You are yourself also a log of wood.-EDIT.
+ Scandalizing the nobility.-EDIT.
VOL. XI. D
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
I scorn to have my free-born toe
Dragoon'd into a wooden shoe.-PRaon.
1. ALL men in the world desire liberty; whoever breathes,
breathes after this, and that by a kind of natural instinct
antecedent to art or education. Yet at the same time all men
of understanding acknowledge it as a rational instinct. For
we feel this desire, not in opposition to, but in consequence
of, our reason. Therefore it is not found, or in a very low
degree, in many species of brutes, which seem, even when
they are left to their choice, to prefer servitude before liberty.
2. The love of liberty is then the glory of rational beings;
and it is the glory of Britons in particular. Perhaps it would
be difficult to find any nation under heaven, who are more
tenacious of it; nay, it may be doubted if any nation ever
was; not the Spartans, not the Athenians; no, not the
Romans themselves, who have been celebrated for this very
thing by the poets and historians of all ages.
3. Was it not from this principle, that our British fore-
fathers so violently opposed all foreign invaders; that Julius
Caesar himself, with his victorious legions, could make so little
impression upon them; that the Generals of the succeeding
Emperors sustained so many losses from them; and that,
when at length they were overpowered, they rather chose to
lose all they had than their liberty; to retire into the Cam-
brian or Caledonian mountains, where, if they had nothing
else, they might at least enjoy their native freedom?
4. Hence arose the vehement struggles of the Cambro-
Britons through so many generations against the yoke, which
the Saxons first, and afterwards the English, strove to
impose upon them; hence the struggles of the English
Barons against several of their Kings, lest they should lose
the blessing they had received from their forefathers; yea,
the Scottish nobles, as all their histories show, would no
THOUGUTS UPON LIBERTY.
more bear to be enslaved than the Romans. All these
therefore, however differing from each other in a thousand
other respects, agreed in testifying the desirableness of
liberty, as one of the greatest blessings under the sun.
5. Such was the sense of all our ancestors, even from the
earliest ages. And is it not also the general sense of the
nation at this day ? Who can deny, that the whole kingdom
is panting for liberty.? Is not the cry for it gone forth,
not only through every part of our vast metropolis,-from
the west end of the city to the east, from the north to the
south, so that instead of no complaining in our streets, there
is nothing but complaining,-but likewise into every corner
of our land, borne by all the four winds of heaven ? Liberty!
Liberty! sounds through every county, every city, every
town, and every hamlet !
6. Is it not for the sake of this, that the name of our great
patriot (perhaps not so admirable in his private character as the
man of Ross, or so great a lover of his country as Codrus or
old Curtius) is more celebrated than that of any private man
has been in England for these thousand years; that his very
picture is so joyfully received in every part of England and
Ireland; that we stamp his (I had almost said, adored) name
on our handkerchiefs, on the cheerful bowl, yea, and on our
vessels of various kinds, as well as upon our hearts ? Why is
all this, but because of the inseparable connexion between
Wilkes and liberty; liberty that came down, if not fell, from
heaven; whom all England and the world worshippeth ?
7. But mean time might it not be advisable to consider, (if
we are yet at leisure to consider anything,) what is liberty?
Because it is well known the word is capable of various
senses. And possibly it may not be equally desirable in
every sense of the word.
8. There are many nations in America, those particularly
that border on Georgia and Carolina, wherein if one dis-
approves of what another says, or perhaps dislikes his looks,
he scorns to affront him to his face, neither does he betray
the least dissatisfaction. But as soon as opportunity serves,
he steps from behind a tree and shoots him. And none calls
him that does it to an account. No; this is the liberty he
derives from his forefathers.
9. For many ages the free natives of Ireland, as well as tha
Scottish Highlands, when it was convenient for them, made an
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
excursion from their woods or fastnesses, and carried off, for
their own proper use, the sheep, and oxen, and corn of their
neighbours. This was the liberty which the O'Neals, the Camp-
bells, and many other septs and clans of venerable antiquity,
had.received by immemorial tradition from their ancestors.
10. Almost all the soldiers in the Christian world, as well as
in the Mahometan and Pagan, have claimed, more especially
in time of war, another kind of liberty; that of borrowing the
wives and daughters of the men that fell into their hands;
sometimes, if they pleaded scruple of conscience or honour,
using little necessary force. Perhaps this may be termed the
liberty of war. But I will not positively affirm, that it has never
been used in this free country, even in the time of peace.
11. In some countries of Europe, and indeed in England,
there have been instances of yet another sort of liberty, that
of calling a Monarch to account; and, if need were, taking
off his head; that is, if he did not behave in a dutiful
manner to our sovereign lords the people.
12. Now, that we may not always be talking at random,
but bring the matter to a determinate point, which of these
sorts of liberty do you desire? Is it the First sort; the
liberty of knocking on the head, or cutting the throats, of
those we are out of conceit with ? Glorious liberty indeed !
What would not king mob do to be gratified with it but for
a few weeks? But, I conceive, calm, sensible men do not
desire to see them entrusted with it. They apprehend there
might be some consequences which, upon the whole, would
not redound to the prosperity of the nation.
13. Is the Second more desirable; the liberty of taking,
when we see best, the goods and chattels of our neighbours ?
Undoubtedly, thousands in the good city of London (suppose
we made the experiment here first) would be above measure
rejoiced threat, would leap as broke from chains. O how
convenient would it be to have free access, without any let
or hinderance, to the cellars, the pantries, the larders, yea,
and the coffers of their rich, overgrown landlords! But
perhaps it would not give altogether so much joy to the
Lord Mayor or Aldermen; no, nor even to those stanch
friouds of liberty, the Common Councilmen. Not that they
regard their own interest at all; but, setting themselves out
of the question, they are a little in doubt whether this liberty
would be for the good of trade.
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
14. Is it then the Third kind of liberty we contend for;
the liberty of taking our neighbours' wives and daughters?
Ye pretty gentlemen, ye beaux esprits, will ye not, one and
all, give your voices for this natural liberty? Will ye not
say, If we cry out against monopolies of other kinds, shall
we tolerate the monopoly of women?" But hold. Are there
not some among you too, who have wives, if not daughters,
of your own ? And are you altogether willing to oblige the
first comer with them ? I say the first comer; for, observe,
as you are to give the liberty you take, so you must not pick
and choose your men; you know, by nature, all men are on
a level. "Liberty! Liberty! No restraint! We are free-
born Englishmen; down with the fences! Lay all the
inclosures open!" No; it will not do. Even nature
recoils. We are not yet polished enough for this.
15. Are we not ripe, however, for the Fourth kind of
liberty, that of removing a disobedient King? Would Mr.
Wilkes, would Mr. Horne, would any free Briton, have any
objection to this ? provided only, that, as soon as our present
Monarch is removed, we have a better to put in his place.
But who is he? King John? That will not sound well;
even in the ears of his greatest admirers. And whoever
calmly considers the characters and endowments of those
other great men, who may think themselves much fitter for
the office than His present Majesty, will hardly concur in
their opinion; so that a difficulty lies in your way. What-
ever claim you may have to this liberty, you must not use it
yet, because you cannot tell where to find a better Prince.
16. But to speak seriously. These things being set aside,
which the bawling mob dignify by that name; what is that
liberty, properly so called, which every wise and good man
desires? It is either religious or civil. Religious liberty is
a liberty to choose our own religion, to worship God accord-
ing to our own conscience, according to the best light we
have. Every man living, as man, has a right to this, as he
is a rational creature. The Creator gave him this right
when he endowed him with understanding. And every man
must judge for himself, because every man must give an
account of himself to God. Consequently, this is an inde-
feasible right; it is inseparable from humanity. And God
did never give authority to any man, or number of men, to
deprive any child of man thereof, under any colour or
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
pretence whatever. What an amazing thing is it, then, that
the governing part of almost every nation under heaven
should have taken upon them, in all ages, to rob all under
their power of this liberty yea, should take upon them, at
this day, so to do; to force rational creatures into their own
religion! Would one think it possible, that the most
sensible men in the world should say to their fellow-creatures,
"Either be of my religion, or I will take away your food,
and you and your wife and children shall starve: If that will
not convince you, I will fetter your hands and feet, and
throw you into a dungeon: And if still you will not see as I
see, I will burn you alive ?"
17. It would not be altogether so astonishing, if this were
the manner of American savages. But what shall we say, if
numberless instances of it have occurred, in the politest
nations of Europe? Have no instances of the kind been
seen in Britain ? Have not England and Scotland seen the
horrid fires? Have not the flames burning the flesh of
heretics shone in London as well as in Paris and Lisbon ?
Have we forgot the days of good Queen Mary ? No; they
will be had in everlasting remembrance. And although
burning was out of fashion in Queen Elizabeth's days, yet
hanging, even for religion, was not. It is true, her successor
did not go quite so far. But did even King James allow
liberty of conscience? By no means. During his whole
reign, what liberty had the Puritans? What liberty had
they in the following reign? If they were not persecuted
unto death; (although eventually, indeed, many of them
were; for they died in their imprisonment;) yet were they
not continually harassed by prosecutions in the Bishops'
Courts, or Star-Chamber? by fines upon fines, frequently
reducing them to the deepest poverty? and by imprisonment
for months, yea, for years, together, till many of them,
escaping with the skin of their teeth, left their country and
friends, fled to seek their bread in the wilds of America?
" However, we may suppose all this was at an end under the
merry Monarch, King Charles the Second." Was it indeed ?
Where have they lived who suppose this? To wave a thou-
sand particular instances; what will you say to those two
public monuments, the Act of Uniformity, and the Act against
Conventicles? In the former it is enacted, to the etcinal
honour of the King, Lords, and Commons, at that memorable
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
period: "Every Parson, Vicar, or other Minister whatever,
who has any benefice within these realms, shall, before the
next twenty-fourth of August, openly and publicly declare
his unfeigned assent and consent to all and everything con-
tained in the Book of Common Prayer, or shall, ipso facto,
be deprived of all his benefices Likewise, if any Dean,
Prebendary, Master, Fellow, Chaplain, or Tutor, of any
College, Hall, House of Learning, or Hospital, any public
Professor, or any other person in Holy Orders, any School-
master, or Teacher, or Tutor in any private family, do not
subscribe hereto, he shall be, ipso facto, deprived of his
place, and shall be utterly disabled from continuing therein."
Property for ever! See how. well English property was
secured in those golden days !
So, by this glorious Act, thousands of men, guilty of no
crime, nothing contrary either to justice, mercy, or truth,
were stripped of all they had, of their houses, lands, revenues,
and driven to seek where they could, or beg, their bread. For
what ? Because they did not dare to worship God according
to other men's consciences So they and their families were,
at one stroke, turned out of house and home, and reduced to
little less than beggary, for no other fault, real or pretended,
but because they could not assent and consent to that
manner of worship which their worthy governors prescribed !
But this was not all. It was further enacted by the same
merciful lawgivers: "If any person act as a Teacher, Tutor,
or Schoolmaster, in any private family, before he has sub-
scribed hereto, he shall suffer three months' imprisonment,
without bail or mainprize."
Liberty for ever I Here is security for your person, as
well as your property.
By virtue of the Act against Conventicles, if any continued
to worship God according to their own conscience, they were
first robbed of their substance, and, if they persisted, of their
liberty; often of their lives also. For this crime, under this
"our most religious and gracious King," (what were they
who publicly told God he was such?) Englishmen were not
only spoiled of their goods, but denied even the use of the
free air, yea, and the light of the sun, being thrust by
hundreds into dark and loathsome prisons !
18. Were matters much better in the neighboring king-
dom? Nay, they were inexpressibly worse. Unheard-of
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
cruelties were practised there, from soon after the Restoration
till the Revolution.* What fining, plundering, beating,
maiming, imprisoning, with the most shocking circumstances I
For a specimen, look at Dunotter Castle; where young and
old, of both sexes, (sick or well, it was all one,) were thrust
together between bare walls, and that in the heat of summer,
without a possibility of either lying or sitting; yea, without
any convenience of any kind; till many of them, through
hunger, thirst, heat, and stench, were set at liberty by death 1
Considering this; considering how many others were hunted
over their native mountains, and shot whenever they were
overtaken, with no more ceremony than beasts; considering.
the drowning, hanging, cutting off of limbs, and various arts
of torturing, which were practised by order of King Charles,
and often in the presence of King James, who seemed to
enjoy such spectacles; it would be no wonder if the very
name of an Englishman was had in abomination from the
Tweed to the Orkneys.
19. But is this the case at present with us? Are we
abridged of our religious liberty? His late Majesty was
desired, about thirty years ago, to take a step of this kind.
But his answer was worthy of a King, yea, the King of a free
people: "I tell you, while I sit on the English throne, no.
man shall be persecuted for conscience' sake." And it is.
certain he made his promise good from the beginning of his
reign to the end. But perhaps the case is altered now.
Does His present Majesty tread in his steps? He does: He.
persecutes no man for conscience' sake. If he does, where is
the man? I do not ask, Whom has he committed to the
flames, or caused to die by the common hangman? or,
Whom has he caused to die many deaths, by hunger and
thirst, cold and nakedness ? but, Whom has he tortured or
thrust into a dungeon, yea, or imprisoned at all, or fined, for
worshipping God according to his own conscience, in the
Presbyterian or any other way? O, compare King Charles,
gracious Charles the Second, with King George, and you will
know the value of the liberty you enjoy.
20. In.the name of wonder, what religious liberty can you.
desire, or even conceive, which you have not already ? Where
is there a nation in Europe, in the habitable world, which
See W odrow's History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland."
TIUOUGIITS UPON LIBERTY.
enjoys such liberty of conscience as the English ? I will be
bold to say there is nothing like it in Holland, in Germany,
(Protestant or Popish,) in either the Protestant or Popish
cantons of Switzerland; no, nor in any country under the sun.
Have we not in England full liberty to choose any religion,
yea, or no religion at all? to have no more religion than a
Hottentot, shall I say ? nay, no more than a bull or a swine ?
Whoever therefore in England stretches his throat, and bawls
for more religious liberty, must be totally void of shame, and
can have no excuse but want of understanding.
21. But is not the ground of this vehement outcry, that
we are deprived of our civil liberty? What is civil liberty?
A liberty to enjoy our lives and fortunes in our own way;
to use our property, whatever is legally our own, according to
our own choice. And can you deny, "that we are robbed of
this liberty?" Who are? Certainly I am not. I pray, do
not face me down that I am. Do not argue me out of my
senses. If the Great Turk, or the King of France, wills that
a man should die, with or without cause, die he must. And
instances of the kind continually occur; but no such instances
occur in England. I am in no more danger of death from
King George, than from the Queen of Hungary. And if I
study to be quiet and mind my own business, I am in no
more danger of losing my liberty than my life. No, nor my
property; I mean, by any act of the King. If this is in any
degree invaded, it is not by the King, or his Parliament, or
army, but by the good patriots.
Hark Is hell or Bedlam broke loose? What roaring is
that, loud as the waves of the sea? "It is the patriot mob."
What do they want with me? Why do they flock about my
house? "Make haste illuminate your windows in honour
of Mr. Wilkes." I cannot in conscience; I think it is
encouraging vice: "Then they will all be broken." That is,
in plain English, Give them twenty shillings, or they will rob
you of five pounds. Here are champions for the laws of the
land I for liberty and property O vile horse-guards
That dared, so grim and terrible, to' advance
Their miscreated fronts athwart the way I
True, they did nothing and said nothing. Yet, in default of
the civil powers, who did not concern themselves with the
matter, they hindered the mob from finishing their work.
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
22. Why, thpn, these men, instead of anyway abridging it,
plainly preserved my liberty and property. And by their
benefit, not the care of those to whom it properly belonged,
I still enjoy full civil liberty. I am free to live, in every
respect, according to my own choice. My life, my person,
my property, are safe. I am not murdered, maimed, tortured
at any man's pleasure; I am not thrown into prison; I am
not manacled; see, I have not one fetter, either on my
hands or feet. And are not you as free as I am? Are not
you at liberty to enjoy the fruit of your labours? Who
hinders you from doing it? Does King George? Does
Lord North? Do any of His Majesty's officers or soldiers?
No, nor any man living. Perhaps some would hinder you,
if you acted contrary to law; but this is not liberty, it is
licentiousness. Deny the fact who can; am not I free to
use my substance according to my own discretion? And do
not you enjoy the self-same freedom? You cannot, you dare
not, deny it. At this hour I am at full liberty to use my
property as I please. And so are you; you do, in fact, use
your house, your goods, your land, as is right in your own
eyes. Does any one take them from you? No; nor does
any one restrain you from the full enjoyment of them.
What then is the matter? What is it you are making all
this pother about ? Why are you thus wringing your hands,
and screaming, to the terror of your quiet neighbours,
"Destruction slavery bondage Help, countrymen Our
liberty is destroyed! We are ruined, chained, fettered, undone!"
Fettered! How? Where are the fetters, but in your own
imagination? There are none, either on your hands or mine:
Neither you nor I can show to any man in his senses, that we
have one chain upon us, even so big as a knitting-needle.
23. I do not say, that the ministry are without fault; or
that they have done all things well. But still I ask, What
is the liberty which we want? It is not civil or religious
liberty. These we have in such a degree as was never known
before, not from the times of William the Conqueror.*
But all this is nothing; this will never satisfy the bellua
multorum capitum. That "many-headed beast," the people,
roars for liberty of another kind. Many want Indian liberty,
the liberty of cutting throats, or of driving a brace of balls
If the famous Middlesex election was an exception to this, yet observe, one
swallow makes no summer.
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
through the head of those ugly-looking fellows, whom they
cannot abide the sight of. Many more want the old High-
land liberty, the convenient liberty of plundering. Many
others there are who want the liberty of war, of borrowing
their neighbours' wives or daughters; and not a few, though
they do not always avow it, the liberty of murdering their
24. If you are a reasonable man, a man of real honour,
and consequently want none of these, I beg to know what
would you have ? Considering the thing calmly, what liberty
can you reasonably desire which you do not already enjoy ?
What is the matter with you, and with multitudes of the
good people, both in England and Ireland, that they are
crying and groaning as if they were chained to an oar, or
barred up in the dungeons of the Inquisition? The plain
melancholy truth is this: There is a general infatuation,
which spreads, like an overflowing stream, from one end of
the land to the other; and a man must have great wisdom
and great strength, or he will be carried away by the torrent.
But how can we account for this epidemic madness? for it
deserves no better name. We must not dare to give the
least intimation, that the devil has anything to do with it.
No this enlightened age is too wise to believe that there is
any devil in being! Satan, avaunt! we have driven thee
back into the land of shadows; keep thou among thy own
With hydras, gorgons, and chimeras dire.
Suppose it then to be a purely natural phenomenon; I
ask again, How can we account for it ? I apprehend if we
could divest ourselves of prejudice, it might be done very
easily; and that without concerning ourselves with the hidden
springs of action, the motives or intentions of men. Letting
these alone, is there not a visible, undeniable cause, which
is quite adequate to the effect? The good people of England
have, for some years past, been continually fed with poison.
Dose after dose has been administered to them, for fear the
first, or second, or tenth, should not suffice, of a poison
whose natural effect is to drive men out of their senses.
Is "the centaur not fabulous?" Neither is Circe's cup.
See how, in every county, city, and village, it is now turning
quiet, reasonable men, into wild bulls, bears, and tigers I
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
But, to lay metaphor aside, how long have the public papers
represented one of the best of Princes as if he had been one
of the worst, as little better than Caligula, Nero, or Domitian!
These were followed by pamphlets of the same kind, and
aiming at the same point,-to make the King appear odious
as well as contemptible in the eyes of his subjects. Letters
succeed, wrote in fine language, and with exquisite art, but
filled with the gall of bitterness. Yes, but not against the
King; Junius does not strike at him, but at the evil adminis-
tration." Thin pretence! Does not every one see the blow
is aimed at the King through the sides of his Ministers?
All these are conveyed, week after week, through all London
and all the nation. Can any man wonder at the effect of
this? What can be more natural? What can be expected,
but that they who drink in these papers and letters with
all greediness, will be thoroughly embittered and inflamed
thereby? will first despise and then abhor the King? What
can we expect, but that by the repeated doses of this poison
they will be perfectly intoxicated, and only wait for a con-
venient season to tear in pieces the royal monster, as they
think him, and all his adherents ?
25. At present there are hinderances in the way, so that
they cannot use their teeth as they would. One is an
untoward Parliament, who will not look upon the King with
the same eyes that they do; but still think he has no more
design or desire to enslave the nation, than to burn the city
of London. A still greater hinderance is the army; even
lions and bears do not choose to encounter them, so that
these men of war do really at this time preserve the peace of
the nation. What then can be done before the people cools,
that this precious opportunity be not lost ? What indeed,
but to prevail upon the King to dissolve his Parliament and
disband his army? Nay, let the Parliament stay as it is, it
will suffice to disband the army. If these red-coats were but
out of the way, the mob would soon deal with the Parliament.
Probatum est: Nothing is more easy than to keep malignant
members from the House. Remember Lord North not
long ago;t this was a taste, a specimen, of their activity.
What then would they not do if they were masters of the
field, if none were left to oppose them? Would not the
This has already been put to the proof.-EDIT.
t Rudely insulted by a turbulent mob, as he was going into the House-
THOUGHTS UPON LIBERTY.
avenues of both Houses be so well guarded, that none but
patriots would dare to approach?
26. But (as often as you have heard the contrary affirmed)
King George has too much understanding, to throw himself into
the hands of those men who have given full proof that they bear
him no great good-will. Nor has he reason to believe that they
are much more fond of his office than of his person. They are
not vehemently fond of monarchy itself, whoever the Monarch
be. Therefore neither their good nor ill words will induce
him, in haste, to leap into the fire with his eyes open.
27. But can anything be done to open.the eyes, to restore
the senses, of an infatuated nation? Not unless the still
renewed, still operating cause of that infatuation can be
removed. But how is it possible to be removed, unless by
restraining the licentiousness of the press? And is not this
remedy worse than the disease? Let us weigh this matter a
little. There was an ancient law in Scotland, which made
leasing-making a capital crime. By leasing-making was meant,
telling such wilful lies as tended to breed dissension between
the King and his subjects. What pity but there should be
such a law enacted in the present session of Parliament! By
our present laws, a man is punishable for publishing even
truth to the detriment of his neighbour. This I would not
wish. But should he not be punished, who publishes palpable
lies? and such lies as manifestly tend to breed dissension
between the King and his subjects ? Such, with a thousand
more, was that bare-faced lie of the King's bursting out into
laughter before the city Magistrates Now, does not the
publisher of this lie deserve to lose his ears more than a com-
mon knight of the post ? And if he is liable to no punishment
for a crime of so mischievous a nature, what a grievous defect
is in our law And how loud does it call for a remedy !
28. To return to the point whence we set out. You see
whence arose this outcry for liberty, and these dismal com-
plaints that we are robbed of our liberty echoing through the
land. It is plain to every unprejudiced man, they have not
the least foundation. We enjoy at this day throughout these
kingdoms such liberty, civil and religious, as no other king-
dom or commonwealth in Europe, or in the world, enjoys;
and such as our ancestors never enjoyed from the Conquest
to the Revolution. Let us be thankful for it to God and the
King! Let us not, by our vile unthankfulness, yea, our
THOUGHTS CONCERN NO
denial that we enjoy it at all, provoke the King of kings to
take it away. By one stroke, by taking to himself that
Prince whom we know not how to value, He might change
the scene, and put an end to our civil as well as religious
liberty. Then would be seen who were patriots and who
were not; who were real lovers of liberty and their country.
The God of love remove that day far from us! Deal not
with us according to our deservings; but let us know, at
least in this our day, the things which make for our peace I
February 24, 1772.
CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF POWER.
1. BY power, I here mean supreme power, the power over
life and death, and consequently over our liberty and
property, and all things of an inferior nature.
2. In many nations this power has in all ages been lodged
in a single person. This has been the case in almost the
whole eastern world, from the earliest antiquity; as in the
celebrated empires of Assyria, of Babylon, of Media, Persia,
and many others. And so it remains to this day, from
Constantinople to the farthest India. The same form of
government obtained very early in very many parts of Afric,
and remains in most of them still, as well as in the empires of
Morocco and Abyssinia. The first adventurers to America
found absolute monarchy established there also; the whole
power being lodged in the Emperor of Mexico, and the Yncas
of Peru. Nay, and many of the ancient nations of Europe
were governed by single persons; as Spain, France, the
Russias, and several other nations are at this day.
3. But in others, the power has been lodged in a few,
chiefly the rich and noble. This kind of government, usually
styled aristocracy, obtained in Greece and in Rome, after
THE ORIGIN OF POWER.
many struggles with the people, during the later ages of the
republic. And this is the government which at present
subsists in various parts of Europe. In Venice indeed, as
well as in Genoa, the supreme power is nominally lodged in
one, namely, the Doge; but in fact, he is only a royal shade;
it is really lodged in a few of the nobles.
4. Where the people have the supreme power, it is termed
a democracy. This seems to have been the ancient form of
government in several of the Grecian states. And so it was
at Rome for some ages after the expulsion of the Kings.
From the earliest authentic records, there is reason to believe
it was for espousing the cause of the people, and defending their
rights against the illegal encroachments of the nobles, that
Marcus Coriolanus was driven into banishment, and Manlius
Capitolinus, as well as Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, murdered.
Perhaps formerly the popular government subsisted in several
states. But it is scarce now to be found, being everywhere
swallowed up either in monarchy or aristocracy.
5. But the grand question is, not in whom this power is
lodged, but from whom it is ultimately derived. What is the
origin of power? What is its primary source? This has
been long a subject of debate. And it has been debated
with the utmost warmth, by a variety of disputants. But as
earnest as they have been on each side of the question, they
have seldom come to any good conclusion; but have left the
point undecided still, to be a ball of contention to the next
6. But is it impossible, in the nature of things, to throw any
light on this obscure subject? Let us make the experiment;
let us (without pretending to dictate, but desiring every one
to use his own judgment) try to find out some ground
whereon to stand, and go as far as we can toward answering
the question. And let not any man be angry on the account,
suppose we should not exactly agree. Let every one enjoy
his own opinion, and give others the same liberty.
7. Now, I cannot but acknowledge, I believe an old book,
commonly called the Bible, to be true. Therefore I believe,
"there is no power but from God: The powers that be are
ordained of God." (Rom. xiii. 1.) There is no subordinate
power in any nation, but what is derived from the supreme
power therein. So in England the King, in the United Pro-
vinces the States are the fountain of all power. And there
is no supreme power, no power of the sword, of life and
death, but what is derived from God, the Sovereign of all.
8. But have not the people, in every age and nation, the
right of disposing of this power; of investing therewith whom
they please, either one or more persons; and that, in what
proportion they see good, and upon what conditions ? Con-
sequently, if those conditions are not observed, have they not
a right to take away the power they gave ? And does not
this imply, that they are the judges whether those conditions
are observed or not ? Otherwise, if the receivers were judges
of their own cause, this right would fall into nothing.
9. To prove this, that the people in every country are the
source of power, it is argued thus: "All men living upon
earth are naturally equal; none is above another; and all are
naturally free, masters of their own actions. It manifestly
follows, no man can have any power over another, unless by
his own consent. The power therefore which the governors
in any nation enjoy, must be originally derived from the
people, and presupposes an original compact between them
and their first governors."
10. This seems to be the opinion which is now generally
espoused by men of understanding and education; and that
(if I do not mistake) not in England alone, but almost in
every civilized nation. And it is usually espoused with the
fullest and strongest persuasion, as a truth little less than
self-evident, as what is clear beyond all possibility of doubt,
what commands the assent of all reasonable men. Hence if
any man affected to deny it, he would in most companies be
rather hooted at than argued with; it being so absurd to
oppose what is confirmed by the general suffrage of mankind.
11. But still (suppose it to need no proof) it may need a
little explaining; for every one does not understand the term.
Some will ask, "Who are the people ?" Are they every man,
woman, and child? Why not? Is it not allowed, is it not
affirmed, is it not our fundamental principle, our incontestable,
self-evident axiom, that "all persons living upon earth are
naturally equal; that all human creatures are naturally free;
masters of their own actions; that none can have any power
over others, but by their own consent ?" Why then should
not every man, woman, and child, have a voice in placing their
governors; in fixing the measure of power to be entrusted with
them, and the conditions on which it is entrusted? And why
THE ORIGIN OF POWER.
should not every one have a voice in displacing them too;
seeing it is undeniable, they that gave the power have a right
to take it away ? Do not quibble or shuffle. Do not evade
the question; but come close to the point. I ask, By what
argument do you prove that women are not naturally as free
as men? And, if they are, why have they not as good a
right as we have to choose their own Governors ? Who can
have any power over free, rational creatures, but by their own
consent ? And are they not free by nature, as well as we ?
Are they not rational creatures?
12. But suppose we exclude women from using their
natural right, by might overcoming right, by main strength,.
(for it is sure that we are stronger than they; I mean that
we have stronger limbs, if we have not stronger reason,) what
pretence have we for excluding men like ourselves, yea,
thousands and tens of thousands, barely because they have
not lived one-and-twenty years? "Why, they have not
wisdom or experience to judge concerning the qualifications
necessary for Governors." I answer, (1.) Who has? How
many of the voters in Great Britain ? one in twenty ? one in
an hundred? If you exclude all who have not this wisdom,
you will leave few behind. But, (2.) Wisdom and experience
are nothing to the purpose. You have put the matter upon
another issue. Are they men? That is enough. Are they
human creatures ? Then they have a right to choose their own
Governors; an indefeasible right; a right inherent, insepar-
able from human nature. "But in England, at least, they
are excluded by law." But did they consent to the making
of that law? If not, by your original supposition, it can
have no power over them. I therefore utterly deny that we
can, consistently with that supposition, debar either women
or minors from choosing their own Governors.
13. But suppose we exclude these by main force, (which it
is certain we are able to do, since though they have most
votes they have least strength,) are all that remain, all men
of full age, the people ? Are all males, then, that have lived
one-and-twenty years allowed to choose their own Governors ?
"Not at all; not in England, unless they are freeholders,
unless they have forty shillings a year." Worse and worse.
After depriving half the human species of their natural right
for want of a beard; after depriving myriads more for want
of a stiff beard, for not having lived one-and-twenty years;
VOL. XI. E
you rob others (probably some hundred thousands) of their
birthright for want of money Yet not altogether on this
account neither; if so, it might be more tolerable. But here
is an Englishman who has money enough to buy the estates
of fifty freeholders, and yet he must not be numbered among
the people because he has not two or three acres of land!
How is this? By what right do you exclude a man from
being one of the people because he has not forty shillings a
year; yea, or not a groat ? Is he not a man, whether he be
rich or poor? Has he not a soul and a body ? Has he not
the nature of a man; consequently, all the rights of a man,
all that flow from human nature; and, among the rest, that
of not being controlled by any but by his own consent.
14. "But he is excluded by law." By what law? by
a law of his own making? Did he consent to the making
of it? Before this law was passed, was his consent either
obtained or asked? If not, what is that law to him? No
man, you aver, has any power over another but by his own
consent. Of consequence, a law made without his consent
is, with regard to him, null and void. You cannot say other-
wise without destroying the supposition, that none can be
governed but by his own consent.
15. See, now, to what your argument comes. You affirm,
all power is derived from the people; and presently excluded
one half of the people from having any part or lot in the
matter. At another stroke, suppose England to contain eight
millions of people, you exclude one or two millions more.
At a third, suppose two millions left, you exclude three-fourths
of these. And the poor pittance that remains, by I know
not what figure of speech, you call the people of England !
16. Hitherto we have endeavoured to view this point in the
mere light of reason. And even by this means it manifestly
appears that this supposition, which is so high in vogue, which
is so generally received, nay, which has been palmed upon us
with such confidence, as undeniable and self-evident, is not
only false, not only contrary to reason, but contradictory to
itself; the very men who are most positive that the people
are the source of power, being brought into an inextricable
difficulty, by that single question, "Who are the people?"
reduced to a necessity of either giving up the point, or owning
that by the people they mean scarce a tenth part of them.
17. But we need not rest the matter entirely on reasoning;
THE ORIGIN OP POWER.
let us appeal to matter of fact. And because we cannot
have so clear and certain a prospect of what is at too great a
distance, whether of time or place, let us only take a view of
what has been in our own country for six or seven hundred
years. I ask, then, When and where did the people of England
(even suppose by that word, the people, you mean only an
hundred thousand of them) choose their own Governors?
Did they choose, to go no farther, William the Conqueror?
Did they choose King Stephen, or King John? As to those
who regularly succeeded their fathers, it is plain the people
are out of the question. Did they choose Henry the Fourth,
Edward the Fourth, or Henry the Seventh ? Who will be so
hardy as to affirm it? Did the people of England, or but
fifty thousand of them, choose Queen Mary, or Queen
Elizabeth ? To come nearer to our own times, did they choose
King James the First? Perhaps you will say, "But if the
people did not give King Charles the supreme power, at least
they took it away from him. Surely, you will not deny this."
Indeed I will; I deny it utterly. The people of England no
more took away his power, than they cut off his head. "Yes,
the Parliament did, and they are the people." No; the
Parliament did not. The lower House, the House of Com-
mons, is not the Parliament, any more than it is the nation.
Neither were those who then sat the House of Commons;
no; nor one quarter of them. But suppose they had been
the whole House of Commons, yea, or the whole Parliament;
by what rule of logic will you prove that seven or eight
hundred persons are the people of England ? Why, they
are the delegates of the people; they are chosen by them."
No; not by one half, not by a quarter, not by a tenth part,
of them. So that the people, in the only proper sense of
the word, were innocent of the whole affair.
18. "But you will allow, the people gave the supreme
power to King Charles the Second at the Restoration." I will
allow no such thing; unless by the people you mean General
Monk and fifteen thousand soldiers. However, you will
not deny that the people gave the power to King William at
the Revolution." Nay, truly, I must deny this too. I cannot
possibly allow it. Although I will not say that William the
Third obtained the royal power as William the First did;
although he did not claim it by right of conquest, which
would have been an odious title; yet certain it is, that he
52 THOUGHTS CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF POWER.
did not receive it by any act or deed of the people. Their
consent was neither obtained nor asked; they were never
consulted in the matter. It was not therefore the people that
gave him the power; no, nor even the Parliament. It was the
Convention, and none else. "Who were the Convention?"
They were a few hundred Lords and gentlemen, who, observing
the desperate state of public affairs, met together on that
important occasion. So that still we have no.single instance
in above seven hundred years of the people of England's con-
veying the supreme power either to one or more persons.
19. Indeed I remember in all history, both ancient and
modern, but one instance of supreme power conferred by the
people; if we mean thereby, though not all the people, yet a
great majority of them. This celebrated instance occurred at
Naples, in the middle of the last century; where the people,
properly speaking, that is, men, women, and children, claimed
and exerted their natural right in favour of Thomas Aniello,
(vulgarly called Masanello,) a young fisherman. But will
any one say, he was the only Governor for these thousand
years, who has had a proper right to the supreme power? I
believe not; nor, I apprehend, does any one desire that the
people should take the same steps in London.
20. So much both for reason and matter of fact. But
one single consideration, if we dwell a little upon it, will
bring the question to a short issue. It is allowed, no man
can dispose of another's life but by his own consent. I add,
No, nor with his consent; for no man has a right to dispose
of his own life. The Creator of man has the sole right to
take the life which he gave. Now, it is an indisputable
truth, Nihil dat quod non habet, "none gives what he has
not." It plainly follows, that no man can give to another a
right which he never had himself; a right which only the
Governor of the world has, even the wiser Heathens being
judges; but which no man upon the face of the earth either
has or can have. No man therefore can give the power of
the sword, any such power as implies a right to take away
life. Wherever it is, it must descend from God alone, the
sole disposer of life and death.
21. The supposition, then, that the people are the origin
of power, is every way indefensible. It is absolutely over-
turned by the very principle on which it is supposed to stand;
namely, that a right of choosing his Governors belongs to
THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS. 53
,every partaker of human nature. If this be so, then it
belongs to every individual of the human species; conse-
quently, not to freeholders alone, but to all men; not to men
-only, but to women also; nor only to adult men and women,
to those who have lived one-and-twenty years, but to those
who have lived eighteen or twenty, as well as those who have
lived threescore. But none did ever maintain this, nor
probably ever will. Therefore this boasted principle falls to
the ground, and the whole superstructure with it. So
common sense brings us back to the grand truth, "There is
no power but of God."
THE PRESENT SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS.
MANY excellent things have been lately published con-
cerning the present scarcity of provisions; and many causes
have been assigned for it, by men of experience and reflec-
tion. But may it not be observed, there is something
wanting still, in most of those publications? One writer
assigns and insists on one cause, another on one or two
more. But who assigns all the causes that manifestly
concur to produce this melancholy effect ? at the same time
pointing out, how each particular cause affects the price of
each particular sort of provision ?
I would willingly offer to candid and benevolent men a few
hints on this important subject; proposing a few questions,
and subjoining to each what seems to be the plain and direct
I. 1. I ask, First, Why are thousands of people starving,
perishing for want, in every part of the nation? The fact I
know; I have seen it with my eyes, in every corner of the
land. I have known those who could only afford to eat a
little coarse food once every other day. I have known one
THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT
in London (and one that a few years before had all the
conveniences of life) picking up from a dunghill stinking
sprats, and carrying them home for herself and her children.
I have known another gathering the bones which the dogs
had left in the streets, and making broth of them, to prolong
a wretched life I have heard a third artlessly declare,
"Indeed I was very faint, and so weak I could hardly walk,
until my dog, finding nothing at home, went out, and
brought in a good sort of bone, which I took out of his
mouth, and made a pure dinner !" Such is the case at this
day of multitudes of people, in a land flowing, as it were,
with milk and honey! abounding with all the necessaries,
the conveniences, the superfluities of life !
Now, why is this ? Why have all these nothing to eat?
Because they have nothing to do. The plain reason why
they have no meat is, because they have no work.
2. But why have they no work? Why are so many
thousand people, in London, in Bristol, in Norwich, in every
county, from one end of England to the other, utterly
destitute of employment?
Because the persons that used to employ them cannot
afford to do it any longer. Many that employed fifty men,
now scarce employ ten; those that employed twenty, now
employ one, or none at all. They cannot, as they have no
vent for their goods; food being so dear, that the generality
of people are hardly able to buy anything else.
3. But why is food so dear? To come to particulars:
Why does bread-corn bear so high a price? To set aside
partial causes, (which indeed, all put together, are little more
than the fly upon the chariot-wheel,) the grand cause is,
because such immense quantities of corn are continually
consumed by distilling. Indeed, an eminent distiller near
London, hearing this, warmly replied, "Nay, my partner and
I generally distil but a thousand quarters a week." Perhaps
so. And suppose five-and-twenty distillers, in and near the
town, consume each only the same quantity: Here are five-
and-twenty thousand quarters a week, that is, above twelve
hundred and fifty thousand a year, consumed in and about
London Add the distillers throughout England, and have
we not reason to believe, that (not a thirtieth or a twentieth
part only, but) little less than half the wheat produced in the
kingdom is every year consumed, not by so harmless a way
SCARCITY OF PROiYISIONS.
as throwing it into the sea, but by converting it into deadly
poison; poison that naturally destroys not only the strength
and life, but also the morals, of our countrymen?
It may be objected, "This cannot be. We know how
much corn is distilled by the duty that is paid. And hereby
it appears, that scarce three hundred thousand quarters a
year are distilled throughout the kingdom." Do we know
certainly, how much corn is distilled by the duty that is
paid? Is it indisputable, that the full duty is paid for all
the corn that is distilled? not to insist upon the multitude
of private stills, which pay no duty at all. I have myself
heard the servant of an eminent distiller occasionally aver,
that for every gallon he distilled which paid duty, he distilled
six which paid none. Yea, I have heard distillers themselves
affirm, "We must do this, or we cannot live." It plainly
follows, we cannot judge, from the duty that is paid, of the
quantity of corn that is distilled.
However, what is paid brings in a large revenue to the
King." Is this an equivalent for the lives of his subjects ?
Would His Majesty sell an hundred thousand of his subjects
yearly to Algiers for four hundred thousand pounds ? Surely
no. Will he then sell them for that sum, to be butchered
by their own countrymen ? But otherwise the swine for
the Navy cannot be fed." Not unless they are fed with
human flesh! Not unless they are fatted with human
blood 0, tell it not in Constantinople, that the English
raise the royal revenue by selling the flesh and blood of their
4. But why are oats so dear? Because there are four
times as many horses kept (to speak within compass) for
coaches and chaises in particular, as were a few years ago.
Unless, therefore, four times the oats grew now that grew
then, they cannot be at the same price. If only twice as
much is produced, (which, perhaps, is near the truth,) the
price will naturally be double to what it was.
And as the dearness of grain of one kind will always raise
the price of another, so whatever causes the dearness of wheat
and oats must raise the price of barley too. To account,
therefore, for the dearness of this, we need only remember
what has been observed above; although some particular
causes may concur in producing the same effect.
5. Why are beef and mutton so dear? Because many
THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT
considerable farmers, particularly in the northern counties,
who used to breed large numbers of sheep, or horned cattle,
and very frequently both, now breed none at all: They no
longer trouble themselves with either sheep, or cows, or
oxen; as they can turn their land to far better account by
breeding horses alone. Such is the demand, not only for
coach and chaise horses, which are bought and destroyed in
incredible numbers, but much more for bred horses, which
are yearly exported by hundreds, yea, thousands, to France.
6. But why are pork, poultry, and eggs so dear? Because
of the monopolizing of farms; perhaps as mischievous a
monopoly as was ever introduced into these kingdoms. The
land which was some years ago divided between ten or twenty
little farmers, and enabled them comfortably to provide for
their families, is now generally engrossed by one great farmer.
One farms an estate of a thousand a year, which formerly
maintained ten or twenty. Every one of these little farmers
kept a few swine, with some quantity of poultry; and, having
little money, was glad to send his bacon, or pork, or fowls
and eggs to market continually. Hence the markets were
plentifully served; and plenty created cheapness. But at
present, the great, the gentlemen-farmers are above attending
to these little things. They breed no poultry or swine,
unless for their own use; consequently they send none to
market. Hence it is not strange if two or three of these,
living near a market-town, occasion such a scarcity of these
things, by preventing the former supply, that the price of
them is double or treble to what it was before. Hence, (to
instance in a small article,) in the same town wherein, within
my memory, eggs were sold six or eight a penny, they are
now sold six or eight a groat.
Another cause (the most terrible one of all, and the most
destructive both of personal and social happiness) why not
only beef, mutton, and pork, but all kinds of victuals, are so
dear, is luxury. What can stand against this? Will it not
waste and destroy all that nature and art can produce ? If a
person of quality will boil down three dozen of neats' tongues,
to make two or three quarts of soup, (and so proportionably
in other things,) what wonder that provisions fail ? Only
look into the kitchens of the great, the nobility and gentry,
almost without exception; (considering withal, that "the toe
of the peasant treads upon the heel of the courtier;") and
SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS.
when you have observed the amazing waste which is made
there, you will no longer wonder at the scarcity, and conse-
quently dearness, of the things which they use so much art
7. But why is land so dear? Because, on all these
accounts, gentlemen cannot live as they have been accus-
tomed to do without increasing their income; which most of
them cannot do, but by raising their rents. And then the
farmer, paying an higher rent for the land, must have an
higher price for the produce of it. This again tends to raise
the price of land; and so the wheel runs round.
8. But why is it, that not only provisions and land, but well
nigh everything else, is so dear? Because of the enormous
taxes, which are laid on almost everything that can be named.
Not only abundant taxes are raised from earth, and fire, and
water; but, in England, the ingenious Statesmen have found
a way to lay a tax upon the very light! Yet one element
remains: And surely some man of honour will find a way to
tax this also. For how long shall the saucy air strike a
gentleman on the face, nay, a Lord, without paying for it?
9. But why are the taxes so high ? Because of the national
debt. They must be so while this continues. I have heard
that the national expense, seventy years ago, was, in time of
peace, three millions a year. And now the bare interest of
the public debt amounts yearly to above four millions! to
raise which, with the other stated expenses of government,
those taxes are absolutely necessary.
To sum up the whole: Thousands of people throughout the
land are perishing for want of food. This is owing to various
causes; but above all, to distilling, taxes, and luxury.
Here is the evil, and the undeniable causes of it. But
where is the remedy.?
Perhaps it exceeds all the wisdom of man to tell: But it
may not be amiss to offer a few hints on the subject.
II. 1. What remedy is there for this sore evil,-many thou-
sand poor people are starving ? Find them work, and you will
find them meat. They will then earn and eat their own bread.
2. But how can the masters give them work without
ruining themselves ? Procure vent for what is wrought, and
the masters will give them as much work as they can do.
And this would be done by sinking the price of provisions;
for then people would have money to buy other things too.
58 THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS.
3. But how can the price of wheat and barley be reduced ?
By prohibiting for ever, by making a full end of that bane of
health, that destroyer of strength, of life, and of virtue,-distil-
ling. Perhaps this alone might go a great way toward answer-
ing the whole design. It is not improbable, it would speedily
sink the price of corn, at least one part in three. If anything
more were required, might not all starch be made of rice, and
the importation of this, as well as of corn, be encouraged?
4. How can the price of oats be reduced ? By reducing
the number of horses. And may not this be effectually done,
(without affecting the ploughman, the waggoner, or any of
those who keep horses for common work,) (1.) By laying a
tax of ten pounds on every horse exported to France, for
which (notwithstanding an artful paragraph in a late public
paper) there is as great a demand as ever? (2.) By laying
an additional tax on gentlemen's carriages ? Not so much
on every wheel, (barefaced, shameless partiality!) but five
pounds yearly upon every horse. And would not these two
taxes alone supply near as much as is now paid for leave to
poison His Majesty's liege subjects ?
5. How can the price of beef and mutton be reduced?
By increasing the breed of sheep and horned cattle. And
this would soon be increased sevenfold, if the price of horses
was reduced; which it surely would be, half in half, by the
method above mentioned.
6. How can the price of pork and poultry be reduced ?
Whether it ever will, is another question. But it can be
done, (1.) By letting no farms of above an hundred pounds
a year: (2.) By repressing luxury; whether by laws, by
example, or by both. I had almost said, by the grace of
God; but to mention this has been long out of fashion.
7. How may the price of land be reduced? By all the
methods above-named, as each tends to lessen the expense
of housekeeping: But especially the last; by restraining
luxury, which is the grand and general source of want.
8. How may the taxes be reduced? (1.) By discharging
half the national debt, and so saving, by this single means,
above two millions a year. (2.) By abolishing all useless
pensions, as fast as those who now enjoy them die: Espe-
cially those ridiculous ones given to some hundreds of idle
men, as Governors of forts or castles; which forts have
answered no end for above these hundred years, unless to
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
shelter jackdaws and crows. Might not good part of a
million more be saved in this very article?
But will this ever be done? I fear not: At least, we have
no reason to hope for it shortly; for what good can we expect
(suppose the Scriptures are true) for such a nation as this,
where there is no fear of God, where there is such a deep,
avowed, thorough contempt of all religion, as I never saw,
never heard or read of, in any other nation, whether Chris-
tian, Mahometan, or Pagan? It seems as if God must
shortly arise and maintain his own cause. But, if so, let us
fall into the hands of God, and not into the hands of men.
January 20, 1773.
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
[PUBLISHED IN THE YEAR 1774.]
I. 1. BY slavery, I mean domestic slavery, or thatof a servant
to a master. A late ingenious writer well observes, "The
variety of forms in which slavery appears, makes it almost
impossible to convey a just notion of it, by way of definition.
There are, however, certain properties which have accompanied
slavery in most places, whereby it is easily distinguished from
that mild, domestic service which obtains in our country." *
2. Slavery imports an obligation of perpetual service, an
obligation which only the consent of the master can dissolve.
Neither in some countries can the master himself dissolve it,
without the consent of Judges appointed by the law. It
generally gives the master an arbitrary power of any
correction, not affecting life or limb. Sometimes even these
are exposed to his will, or protected only by a fine, or some
slight punishment, too inconsiderable to restrain a master of
an harsh temper. It creates an incapacity of acquiring
anything, except for the master's benefit. It allows the
master to alienate the slave, in the same manner as his cows
* See Mr. IIargrave's Plea for Somerset the Negro.
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
and horses. Lastly, it descends in its full extent from parent
to child, even to the last generation.
3. The beginning of this may be dated from the remotest
period of which we have an account in history. It commenced
in the barbarous state of society, and in process of time spread
into all nations. It prevailed particularly among the Jews,
the Greeks, the Romans, and the ancient Germans; and was
transmitted by them to the various kingdoms and states
which arose out of the Roman Empire. But after Christianity
prevailed, it gradually fell into decline in almost all parts of
Europe. This great change began in Spain, about the end of
the eighth century; and was become general in most other
kingdoms of Europe, before the middle of the fourteenth.
4. From this time slavery was nearly extinct till the
commencement of the sixteenth century, when the discovery
of America, and of the western and eastern coasts of Africa,
gave occasion to the revival of it. It took its rise from the
Portuguese, who, to supply the Spaniards with men to
cultivate their new possessions in America, procured Negroes
from Africa, whom they sold for slaves to the American
Spaniards. This began in the year 1508, when they imported
the first Negroes into Hispaniola. In 1540, Charles the
Fifth, then King of Spain, determined to put an end to
Negro slavery; giving positive orders that all the Negro
slaves in the Spanish dominions should be set free. And
this was accordingly done by Lagasca, whom he sent and
empowered to free them all, on condition of continuing to
labour for their masters. But soon after Lagasca returned
to Spain, slavery returned and flourished as before. After-
wards, other nations, as they acquired possessions in America,
followed the examples of the Spaniards; and slavery has
taken deep root in most of our American colonies.
II. Such is the nature of slavery; such the beginning of
Negro slavery in America. But some may desire to know
what kind of country it is from which the Negroes are
brought; what sort of men, of what temper and behaviour
are they in their own country; and in what manner they are
generally procured, carried to, and treated in, America.
1. And, First, what kind of country is that from whence
they are brought? Is it so remarkably horrid, dreary, and
barren, that it is a kindness to deliver them out of it? I
believe many have apprehended so; but it is an entire
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
mistake, if we may give credit to those who have lived many
years therein, and could have no motive to misrepresent it.
2. That part of Africa whence the Negroes are brought,
commonly known by the name of Guinea, extends along the
coast, in the whole, between three and four thousand miles.
From the river Senegal, seventeen degrees north of the line,
to Cape Sierra-Leone, it contains seven hundred miles.
Thence it runs eastward about fifteen hundred miles, including
the Grain Coast, the Ivory Coast, the Gold Coast, and the
Slave Coast, with the large kingdom of Benin. From thence
it runs southward, about twelve hundred miles, and contains
the kingdoms of Congo and Angola.
3. Concerning the first, the Senegal coast, Monsieur Brue,
who lived there sixteen years, after describing its.fruitfulness
near the sea, says, "The farther you go from the sea, the
more fruitful and well-improved is the country, abounding
in pulse, Indian corn, and various fruits. Here are vast
meadows, which feed large herds of great and small cattle;
and the villages, which lie thick, show the country is well
peopled." And again: "I was surprised to see the land so
well cultivated: Scarce a spot lay unimproved; the low
lands, divided by small canals, were all sowed with rice; the
higher grounds were planted with Indian corn, and peas of
different sorts. Their beef is excellent; poultry plenty, and
very cheap, as are all the necessaries of life."
4. As to the Grain and Ivory Coast, we learn from eye-
witnesses, that the soil is in general fertile, producing
abundance of rice and roots. Indigo and cotton thrive
without cultivation; fish is in great plenty; the flocks and
herds are numerous, and the trees loaden with fruit.
5. The Gold Coast and Slave Coast, all who have seen it
agree, is exceeding fruitful and pleasant, producing vast quan-
tities of rice and other grain, plenty of fruit and roots, palm
wine and oil, and fish in great abundance, with much tame
and wild cattle. The very same account is given us of the
soil and produce of the kingdoms of Benin, Congo, and Angola.
From all which it appears, that Guinea, in general, is far
from an horrid, dreary, barren country,-is one of the most
fruitful, as well as the most pleasant, countries in the known
world. It is said indeed to be unhealthy; and so it is to
strangers, but perfectly healthy to the native inhabitants.
6. Such is the country from which the Negroes are brought.
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
We come next to inquire what sort of men they are, of what
temper and behaviour, not in our plantations, but in their
native country. And here likewise the surest way is to take
our account from eye and ear witnesses. Now, those who
have lived in the Senegal country observe, it is inhabited by
three nations, the Jalofs, Fulis, and Mandingos. The King
of the Jalofs has under him several Ministers, who assist in.
the exercise of justice. The Chief Justice goes in circuit
through all his dominions, to hear complaints and determine
controversies; and the Viceroy goes with him, to inspect the
behaviour of the Alkadi, or Governor, of each village. The
Fulis are governed by their chief men, who rule with much
moderation. Few of them will drink anything stronger than
water, being strict Mahometans. The Government is easy,
because the people are of a quiet and good disposition, and
so well instructed in what is right, that a man who wrongs
another is the abomination of all. They desire no more land
than they use, which they cultivate with great care and
industry: If any of them are known to be made slaves by
the white men, they all join to redeem them. They not
only support all that are old, or blind, or lame among them-
selves, but have frequently supplied the necessities of the
Mandingos, when they were distressed by famine.
7. "The Mandingos," says Monsieur Brue, "are rigid
Mahometans, drinking neither wine nor brandy. They are
industrious and laborious, keeping their ground well cultivated,
and breeding a good stock of cattle. Every town has a
Governor, and he appoints the labour of the people. The
men work the ground designed for corn; the women and girls,
the rice-ground. He afterwards divides the corn and rice
among them; and decides all quarrels, if any arise. All the
Mahometan Negroes constantly go to public prayers thrice a
day; there being a Priest in every village, who regularly
calls them together; and it is surprising to see the modesty,
attention, and reverence which they observe during their
worship. These three nations practise several trades; they
have smiths, saddlers, potters, and weavers; and they are very
ingenious at their several occupations. Their smiths not
only make all the instruments of iron which they have occa-
sion to use, but likewise work many things neatly in gold
and silver. It is chiefly the women and children who weave
fine cotton cloth, which they dye blue and black."
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
8. It was of these parts of Guinea that Monsieur Allanson,
correspondent of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris,
from 1749 to 1753, gives the following account, both as to the
country and people :-" Which way soever I turned my eyes, I
beheld a perfect image of pure nature: An agreeable solitude,
bounded on every side by a charming landscape; the rural
situation of cottages in the midst of trees; the ease and quiet-
ness of the Negroes, reclined under the shade of the spreading
foliage, with the simplicity of their dress and manners: The
whole revived in my mind the idea of our first parents, and
I seemed to contemplate the world in its primitive state.
They are, generally speaking, very good-natured, sociable,
and obliging. I was not a little pleased with my very first
reception; and it fully convinced me, that there ought to be a
considerable abatement made in the accounts we have of the
savage character of the Africans." He adds: "It is amazing
that an illiterate people should reason so pertinently concerning
the heavenly bodies. There is no doubt, but that, with proper
instruments, they would become excellent astronomers."
9. The inhabitants of the Grain and Ivory Coast are repre-
sented by those that deal with them, as sensible, courteous,
and the fairest traders on the coasts of Guinea. They rarely
drink to excess; if any do, they are severely punished by the
King's order. They are seldom troubled with war: If a
difference happen between two nations, they commonly end
the dispute amicably.
The inhabitants of the Gold and Slave Coast likewise,
when they are not artfully incensed against each other, live
in great union and friendship, being generally well-tempered,
civil, tractable, and ready to help any that need it. In
particular, the natives of the kingdom of Whidah are civil,
kind, and obliging to strangers; and they are the most
gentleman-like of all the Negroes, abounding in good
manners toward each other. The inferiors pay the utmost
respect to their superiors; so wives to their husbands,
children to their parents. And they are remarkably indus-
trious; all are constantly employed,-the men in agriculture,
the women in spinning and weaving cotton.
10. The Gold and Slave Coasts are divided into several dis-
tricts, some governed by Kings, others by the principal men,
who take care each of their own town or village, and prevent or
appease tumults. They punish murder and adultery severely;
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
very frequently with death. Theft and robbery arc punished
by a fine proportionable to the goods that were taken. All
the natives of this coast, though Heathens, believe there is one
God, the Author of them and all things. They appear like-
wise to have a confused apprehension of a future state. And,
accordingly, every town and village has a place of public wor-
ship. It is remarkable that they have no beggars among them;
such is the care of the chief men, in every city and village, to
provide some easy labour even for the old and weak. Some
are employed in blowing the smiths' bellows; others in
pressing palm-oil; others in grinding of colours. If they are
too weak even for this, they sell provisions in the market.
11. The natives of the kingdom of Benin are a reasonable
and good-natured people. They are sincere and inoffensive,
and do no injustice either to one another or to strangers.
They are eminently civil and courteous: If you make them a
present, they endeavour to repay it double; and if they are
trusted till the ship returns the next year, they are sure
honestly to pay the whole debt. Theft is punished among them,
although not with the same severity as murder. If a man and
woman of any quality are taken in adultery, they are certain
to be put to death, and their bodies thrown on a dunghill, and
left a prey to wild beasts. They are punctually just and honest
in their dealings; and are also very charitable, the King
and the great Lords taking care to employ all that are capable
of any work. And those that are utterly helpless they keep
for God's sake; so that here also are no beggars. The
inhabitants of Congo and Angola are generally a quiet people.
They discover a good understanding, and behave in a friendly
manner to strangers, being of a mild temper and an affable
carriage. Upon the whole, therefore, the Negroes who inhabit
the coast of Africa, from the river Senegal to the southern
bounds of Angola, are so far from being the stupid, senseless,
brutish, lazy barbarians, the fierce, cruel, perfidious savages
they have been described, that, on the contrary, they are
represented, by them who have no motive to flatter them, as
remarkably sensible, considering the few advantages they have
for improving their understanding; as industrious to the,
highest degree, perhaps more so than any other natives of so
warm a climate; as fair, just, and honest in all their dealings,
unless where white men have taught them to be otherwise;
and as far more mild, friendly, and kind to strangers, than any
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
of our forefathers were. Our forefathers! Where shall we
find at this day, among the fair-faced natives of Europe, a
nation generally practising the justice, mercy, and truth,
which are found among these poor Africans? Suppose the
preceding accounts are true, (which I see no reason or
pretence to doubt of,) and we may leave England and France,
to seek genuine honesty in Benin, Congo, or Angola.
III. We have now seen what kind of country it is from
which the Negroes are brought; and what sort of men (even
white men being the judges) they were in their own country.
Inquire we, Thirdly, In what manner are they generally
procured, carried to, and treated in, America.
1. First. In what manner are they procured? Part of
them by fraud. Captains of ships, from time to time, have
invited Negroes to come on board, and then carried them
away. But far more have been procured by force. The
Christians, landing upon their coasts, seized as many as they
found, men, women, and children, and transported them to
America. It was about 1551 that the English began trading
to Guinea; at first, for gold and elephants' teeth; but soon
after, for men. In 1556, Sir John Hawkins sailed with two
ships to Cape Verd, where he sent eighty men on shore to
catch Negroes. But the natives flying, they fell farther
down, and there set the men on shore, to burn their towns
and take the inhabitants." But they met with such resist-
ance, that they had seven men killed, and took but ten
Negroes. So they went still farther down, till, having taken
enough, they proceeded to the West Indies and sold them.
2. It was some time before the Europeans found a more
compendious way of procuring African slaves, by prevailing
upon them to make war upon each other, and to sell their
prisoners. Till then they seldom had any wars; but were in
general quiet and peaceable. But the white men first taught
them drunkenness and avarice, and then hired them to sell
one another. Nay, by this means, even their Kings are
induced to sell their own subjects. So Mr. Moore, factor of
the African Company in ] 730, informs us: When the King
of Barsalli wants goods or brandy, he sends to the English
Governor at James's Fort, who immediately sends a sloop.
Against the time it arrives, he plunders some of his neigh-
bours' towns, selling the people for the goods he wants. At
other times he falls upon one of his own towns, and make
VOL. XI. F
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
bold to sell his own subjects." So Monsieur Brue says, "I
wrote to the King," (not the same,) "if he had a sufficient
number of slaves, I would treat with him. He seized three
hundred of his own people, and sent word he was ready to
deliver them for the goods.", He adds: Some of the natives
are always ready" (when well paid) "to surprise and carry off
their own countrymen. They come at night without noise, and
if they find any lone cottage, surround it and carry off all the
people." Barbot, another French factor, says, Many of the
slaves sold by the Negroes are prisoners of war, or taken in the
incursions they make into their enemies' territories. Others
are stolen. Abundance of little Blacks, of both sexes, are
stolen away by their neighbours, when found abroad on the
road, or in the woods, or else in the corn-fields, at the time of
year when their parents keep them there all day to scare away
the devouring birds." That their own parents sell them is
utterly false: Whites, not Blacks, are without natural affection !
3. To set the manner wherein Negroes are procured in a yet
stronger light, it will suffice to give an extract of "Two Voyages
to Guinea" on this account. The first is taken verbatim
from the original manuscript of the Surgeon's Journal:-
Sestro, Dec. 29, 1724.-No trade to-day, though many
traders came on board. They informed us, that the people
are gone to war within land, and will bring prisoners enough
in two or three days; in hopes of which we stay.
"The 30th.-No trade yet; but our traders came on
board to-day, and informed us the people had burnt four
towns; so that to-morrow we expect slaves off.
"The 31st.-Fair weather; but no trading yet. We see
each night towns burning. But we hear many of the Sestro
men are killed by the inland Negroes; so that we fear this
war will be unsuccessful.
"The 2nd of January.-Last night we saw a prodigious
fire break out about eleven o'clock, and this morning see the
town of Sestro burned down to the ground." (It contained
some hundred houses.) So that we find their enemies are
too hard for them at present, and consequently our trade
spoiled here. Therefore about seven o'clock we weighed
anchor, to proceed lower down."
4. The second extract, taken from the Journal of a Surgeon,
who went from New York on the same trade, is as follows:
"The commander of the vessel sent to acquaint the King,
TIIOUGIHTS UPON SLAVERY.
that he wanted a cargo of slaves. The King promised to
furnish him; and, in order to it, set out, designing to surprise
some town, and make all the people prisoners. Some time
after, the King sent him word, he had not yet met with the
desired success; having attempted to break up two towns,
but having been twice repulsed; but that he still hoped to
procure the number of slaves. In this design he persisted,
till he met his enemies in the field. A battle was fought,
which lasted three days. And the engagement was so bloody,
that four thousand five hundred men were slain upon the spot."
Such is the manner wherein the Negroes are procured Thus
the Christians preach the Gospel to the Heathens !
5. Thus they are procured. But in what numbers and in
what manner are they carried to America? Mr. Anderson,
in his History of Trade and Commerce, observes: "England
supplies her American colonies with Negro slaves, amounting
in number to about an hundred thousand every year;" that
is, so many are taken on board our ships; but at least ten
thousand of them die in the voyage; about a fourth part
more die at the different islands, in what is called the season-
ing. So that at an average, in the passage and seasoning
together, thirty thousand die ; that is, properly, are murdered.
O Earth, O Sea, cover not thou their blood !
6. When they are brought down to the shore in order to
be sold, our Surgeons thoroughly examine them, and that
quite naked, women and men, without any distinction; those
that are approved are set on one side. In the mean time, a
burning-iron, with the arms or name of the company, lies in
the fire, with which they are marked on the breast. Before
they are put into the ships, their masters strip them of all
they have on their backs: So that they come on board stark
naked, women as well as men. It is common for several
hundred of them to be put on board one vessel, where they
are stowed together in as little room as it is possible for
them to be crowded. It is easy to suppose what a condition
they must soon be in, between heat, thirst, and stench of
various kinds. So that it is no wonder, so many should die
in the passage; but rather, that any survive it.
7. When the vessels arrive at their destined port, the
Negroes are again exposed naked to the eyes of all that flock
together, and the examination of their purchasers. Then they
are separated to the plantations of their several masters, to see
68 THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
each other no more. Here you may see mothers hanging
over their daughters, bedewing their naked breasts with tears,
and daughters clinging to their parents, till the whipper soon
obliges them to part. And what can be more wretched than
the condition they then enter upon? Banished from their
country, from their friends and relations for ever, from every
comfort of life, they are reduced to a state scarce anyway pre-
ferable to that of beasts of burden. In general, a few roots,
not of the nicest kind, usually yams or potatoes, are their food;
and two rags, that neither screen them from the heat of the
day, nor the cold of the night, their covering. Their sleep is
very short, their labour continual, and frequently above their
strength; so that death sets many of them at liberty before
they have lived out half their days. The time they work in
the West Indies, is from day-break to noon, and from two
o'clock till dark; during which time, they are attended by
overseers, who, if they think them dilatory, or think anything
not so well done as it should be, whip them most unmercifully,
so that you may see their bodies long after wealed and scarred
usually from the shoulders to the waist. And before they
are suffered to go to their quarters, they have commonly
something to do, as collecting herbage for the horses, or
gathering fuel for the boilers; so that it is often past twelve
before they can get home. Hence, if their food is not pre-
pared, they are sometimes called to labour again, before they
can satisfy their-hunger. And no excuse will avail. If they
are not in the field immediately, they must expect to feel the
lash. Did the Creator intend that the noblest creatures in
the visible world should live such a life as this?
Are these thy glorious work, Parent of Good ?
8. As to the punishments inflicted on them, says Sir Hans
Sloane, "they frequently geld them, or chop off half a foot:
After they are whipped till they are raw all over, some put
pepper and salt upon them; some drop melted wax upon their
skin; others cut off their ears, and constrain them to broil and
eat them. For rebellion," (that is, asserting their native liberty,
which they have as much right to as to the air they breathe,)
"they fasten them down to the ground with crooked sticks
on every limb, and then applying fire, by degrees, to the feet
and hands, they burn them gradually upward to the head."
9. But will not the laws made in the plantations prevent or
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
redress all cruelty and oppression? We will take but a few
of those laws for a specimen, and then let any man judge:-
In order to rivet the chain of slavery, the law of Virginia
ordains: "That no slave shall be set free upon any pretence
whatever, except for some meritorious services, to be adjudged
and allowed by the Governor and Council; and that where
any slave shall be set free by his owner, otherwise than is
herein directed, the Churchwardens of the parish, wherein
such Negro shall reside for the space of one month, are
hereby authorized and required to take up and sell the said
Negro by public outcry."
10. Will not these lawgivers take effectual care to prevent
cruelty and oppression?
The law of Jamaica ordains : "Every slave that shall run
away, and continue absent from his master twelve months,
shall be deemed rebellious." And by another law, fifty pounds
are allowed to those who kill or bring in alive a rebellious
slave. So their law treats these poor men with as little cere-
mony and consideration, as if they were merely brute beasts !
But the innocent blood which is shed in consequence of such
a detestable law, must call for vengeance on the murderous
abettors and actors of such deliberate wickedness.
11. But the law of Barbadoes exceeds even this: "If any
Negro under punishment, by his master, or his order, for
running away, or any other crime or misdemeanor, shall suffer
in life or member, no person whatsoever shall be liable to any
fine therefore. But if any man, of wantonness, or only of
bloody-mindedness, or cruel intention, wilfully kill a Negro of
his own," (now, observe the severe punishment !) "he shall
pay into the public treasury fifteen pounds sterling! and not
be liable to any other punishment or forfeiture for the same! '"
Nearly allied to this is that law of-Virginia: "After
proclamation is issued against slaves that run away, it is
lawful for any person whatsoever to kill and destroy such
slaves, by such ways and means as he shall think fit."
We have seen already some of the ways and means which
have been thought fit on such occasions; and many more might
be mentioned. One gentleman, when I was abroad, thought
fit to roast his slave alive But if the most natural act of
"running away" from intolerable tyranny, deserves such
relentless severity, what punishment have these lawmakers to
expect hereafter, on account of their own enormous offences ?
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
IV. I. This is the plain, unaggravated matter of fact.
Such is the manner wherein our African slaves are procured;
such the manner wherein they are removed from their native
land, and wherein they are treated in our plantations. I
would now inquire, whether these things can be defended, on
the principles of even heathen honesty; whether they can be
reconciled (setting the Bible out of the question) with any
degree of either justice or mercy.
2. The grand plea is, "They are authorized by law." But
can law, human law, change the nature of things? Can it
turn darkness into light, or evil into good? By no means.
Notwithstanding ten thousand laws, right is right, and wrong
is wrong still. There must still remain an essential differ-
ence between justice and injustice, cruelty and mercy. So
that I still ask, Who can reconcile this treatment of the
Negroes, first and last, with either mercy or justice ?
Where is the justice of inflicting the severest evils on those
that have done us no wrong ? of depriving those that never
injured us in word or deed, of every comfort of life ? of tearing
them from their native country, and depriving them of liberty
itself, to which an Angolan has the same natural right as an
Englishman, and on which he sets as high a value? Yea,
where is the justice of taking away the lives of innocent,
inoffensive men; murdering thousands of them in their own
land, by the hands of their own countrymen; many thou-
sands, year after year, on shipboard, and then casting them
like dung into the sea; and tens of thousands in' that cruel
slavery to which they are so unjustly reduced ?
3. But waving, for the present, all other considerations, I
strike at the root of this complicated villany; I absolutely
deny all slave-holding to be consistent with any degree of
I cannot place this in a clearer light than that great
ornament of his profession, Judge Blackstone, has already
done. Part of his words are as follows:-
"The three origins of the right of slavery assigned by
Justinian, are all built upon false foundations: (1.) Slavery is
said to arise from captivity in war. The conqueror having a
right to the life of his captives, if he spares that, has then a
right to deal with them as he pleases. But this is untrue, if
taken generally,-that, by the laws of nations, a man has a
right to kill his enemy. IIe has only a right to kill him in
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
particular cases, in cases of absolute necessity for self-defence.
And it is plain, this absolute necessity did not subsist, since
he did not kill him, but made him prisoner. War itself is
justifiable only on principles of self-preservation: Therefore it
gives us no right over prisoners, but to hinder their hurting
us by confining them. Much less can it give a right to torture,
or kill, or even to enslave an enemy when the war is over.
Since therefore the right of making our prisoners slaves, depends
on a supposed right of slaughter, that foundation failing, the
consequence which is drawn from it must fail likewise.
"It is said, Secondly, slavery may begin by one man's
selling himself to another. And it is true, a man may sell
himself to work for another; but he cannot sell himself to be
a slave, as above defined. Every sale implies an equivalent
given to the seller, in lieu of what he transfers to the buyer.
But what equivalent can be given for life or liberty ? His
property likewise, with the very price which he seems to
receive, devolves ipso facto to his master, the instant he
becomes his slave: In this case, therefore, the buyer gives
nothing, and the seller receives nothing. Of what validity
then can a sale be, which destroys the very principle upon
which all sales are founded?
"We are told, Thirdly, that men may be born slaves, by
being the children of slaves. But this, being built upon the
two former rights, must fall together with them. If neither
captivity nor contract can, by the plain law of nature and
reason, reduce the parent to a state of slavery, much less can
they reduce the offspring." It clearly follows, that all
slavery is as irreco cilable to justice as to mercy.
4. That slave-h Iding is utterly inconsistent with mercy, is
almost too plain tf need a proof. Indeed, it is said, "that
these Negroes b ing prisoners of war, our captains and
factors buy them, merely to save them from being put to
death. And is not this mercy?" I answer, (1.) Did Sir
John Hawkins, and many others, seize upon men, women,
and children, who were at peace in their own fields or houses,
merely to save them from death? (2.) Was it to save them
from death, that they knocked out the brains of those they
could not bring away?. (3.) Who occasioned and fomented
those wars, wherein these poor creatures were taken prisoners ?
Who excited them by money, by drink, by every possible
means, to fall'upon one another? Was it not themselves?
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
They know in their own conscience it was, if they have any
conscience left. But, (4.) To bring the matter to a short
issue, can they say before God, that they ever took a single
voyage, or bought a single Negro, from this motive ? They
cannot; they well know, to get money, not to save lives, was
the whole and sole spring of their motions.
5. But if this manner of procuring and treating Negroes
is not consistent either with mercy or justice, yet there is
a plea for it which every man of business will acknowledge
to be quite sufficient. Fifty years ago, one meeting an
eminent Statesman in the lobby of the House of Commons,
said, "You have been long talking about justice and equity.
Pray which is this bill; equity or justice?" He answered
very short and plain, "D--n justice; it is necessity." Here
also the slave-holder fixes his foot; here he rests the strength
of his cause. If it is not quite right, yet it must be so;
there is an absolute necessity for it. It is necessary we
should procure slaves; and when we have procured them, it
is necessary to use them with severity, considering their
stupidity, stubbornness, and wickedness."
I answer, You stumble at the threshold; I deny that villany
is ever necessary. It is impossible that it should ever be
necessary for any reasonable creature to violate all the laws
of justice, mercy, and truth. No circumstances can make it
necessary for a man to burst in sunder all the ties of humanity.
It can never be necessary for a rational being to sink himself
below a brute. A man can be under no necessity of degrading
himself into a wolf. The absurdity of the supposition is so
glaring, that one would wonder any one can help seeing it.
6. This in general. But, to be more particular, I ask, First,
What is necessary ? and, Secondly, To what end? It may
be answered, "The whole method now used by the original
purchasers of Negroes is necessary to the furnishing our
colonies yearly with a hundred thousand slaves." I grant,
this is necessary to that end. But how is that end necessary ?
How will you prove it necessary that one hundred, that one,
of those slaves should be procured ? Why, it is necessary
to my gaining an hundred thousand pounds." Perhaps so:
But how is this necessary ? It is very possible you might be
both a better and a happier man, if you had not a quarter of
it. I deny that your gaining one thousand is necessary either
to your present or eternal happiness. "But, however, you
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY,
must allow, these slaves are necessary for the cultivation of
our islands; inasmuch as white men are not able to labour in
hot climates." I answer, First, it were better that all those
islands should remain uncultivated for ever; yea, it were more
desirable that they were altogether sunk in the depth of the
sea, than that they should be cultivated at so high a price as
the violation of justice, mercy, and truth. But, Secondly, the
supposition on which you ground your argument is false. For
white men, even Englishmen, are well able to labour in hot
climates; provided they are temperate both in meat and drink,
and that they inure themselves to it by degrees. I speak no
more than I know by experience. It appears from the ther-
mometer, that the summer heat in Georgia is frequently equal
to that in Barbadoes, yea, to that under the line. And yet I
and my family (eight in number) did employ all our spare time
there, in felling of trees and clearing of ground, as hard labour
as any Negro need be employed in. The German family, like-
wise, forty in number, were employed in all manner of labour.
And this was so far from impairing our health, that we all con-
tinued perfectly well, while the idle ones round about us were
swept away as with a pestilence. It is not true, therefore,
that white men are not able to labour, even in hot climates,
full as well as black. But if they were not, it would be
better that none should labour there, that the work should be
left undone, than that myriads of innocent men should be
murdered, and myriads more dragged into the basest slavery.
7. "But the furnishing us with slaves is necessary for the
trade, and wealth, and glory of our nation." Here are several
mistakes. For, First, wealth is not necessary to the glory of
any nation; but wisdom, virtue, justice, mercy, generosity,
public spirit, love of our country. These are necessary to the
real glory of a nation; but abundance of wealth is not. Men
of understanding allow that the glory of England was full
as high in Queen Elizabeth's time as it is now; although our
riches and trade were then as much smaller, as our virtue was
greater. But, Secondly, it is not clear that we should have
either less money or trade, (only less of that detestable trade of
man-stealing,) if there was not a Negro in all our islands, or in
all English America. It is demonstrable, white men, inured to
it by degrees, can work as well as them; and they would do it,
were Negroes out of the way, and proper encouragement given
them. However; Thirdly, I come back to the same point:
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
Better no trade, than trade procured by villainy. It is far
better to have no wealth, than to gain wealth at the expense
of virtue. Better is honest poverty, than all the riches bought
by the tears, and sweat, and blood, of our fellow-creatures.
8, However this be, it is necessary, when we have slaves,
to use them with severity." What, to whip them for every
petty offence, till they are all in gore blood? to take that
opportunity of rubbing pepper and salt into their raw flesh ?
to drop burning sealing-wax upon their skin ? to castrate
them ? to cut off half their foot with an axe? to hang them
on gibbets, that they may die by inches, with heat, and
hunger, and thirst? to pin them down to the ground, and
then burn them by degrees, from the feet to the head ? to
roast them alive? When did a Turk or a Heathen find it
necessary to use a fellow-creature thus ?
I pray, to what end is this usage necessary ? "Why, to
prevent their running away; and to keep them constantly to
their labour, that they may not idle away their time: So miser.
ably stupid is this race of men, yea, so stubborn, and so wicked."
Allowing them to be as stupid as you say, to whom is that
stupidity owing? Without question, it lies altogether at the
door of their inhuman masters; who give them no means, no
opportunity, of improving their understanding; and, indeed,
leave them no motive, either from hope or fear, to attempt any
such thing. They were no way remarkable for stupidity while
they remained in their own country: The inhabitants of
Africa, where they have equal motives and equal means of
improvement, are not inferior to the inhabitants of Europe; to
some of them they are greatly superior. Impartially survey,
in their own country, the natives of Benin, and the natives of
Lapland; compare (setting prejudice aside) the Samoeids and
the Angolans; and on which side does the advantage lie, in
point of understanding ? Certainly the African is in no respect
inferior to the European. Their stupidity, therefore, in our
plantations is not natural; otherwise than it is the natural
effect of their condition. Consequently, it is not their fault,
but yours: You must answer for it, before God and man.
9. But their stupidity is not the only reason of our treating
them with severity. For it is hard to say, which is the greatest,
this, or their stubbornness and wickedness." It may be so:
But do not these, as well as the other, lie at your door ? Are
not stubbornness, cunning, pilfering, and divers other vices,
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
the natural, necessary fruits of slavery ? Is not this an
observation which has been made in every age and nation?
And what means have you used to remove this stubbornness?
Have you tried what mildness and gentleness would do ? I
knew one that did; that had prudence and patience to make
the experiment; Mr. Hugh Bryan, who then lived on the
borders of South Carolina. And what was the effect? Why,
that all his Negroes (and he had no small number of them)
loved and reverenced him as a father, and cheerfully obeyed
him out of love. Yea, they were more afraid of a frown from
him, than of many blows from an overseer. And what pains
have you taken, what method have you used, to reclaim them
from their wickedness? Have you carefully taught them,
that there is a God, a wise, powerful, merciful Being, the
Creator and Governor of heaven and earth? that he has
appointed a day wherein he will judge the world, will take an
account of all our thoughts, words, and actions? that in that
day he will reward every child of man according to his works ?
that then the righteous shall inherit the kingdom prepared
for them from the foundation of the world; and the wicked
shall be cast into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and
his angels ? If you have not done this, if you have taken no
pains or, thought about the matter, can you wonder at their
wickedness? What wonder, if they should cut your throat?
And if they did, whom could you thank for it but yourself?
You first acted the villain in making them slaves, whether
you stole them or bought them. You kept them stupid and
wicked, by cutting them off from all opportunities of improv-
ing either in knowledge or virtue: And now you assign their
want of wisdom and goodness as the reason for using them
worse than brute beasts !
V. 1. Itjremains only to make a little application of the
preceding observations. But to whom should that application
be made? That may bear a question. Should we address
ourselves to the public at large? What effect can this have?
It may inflame thie world against the guilty, but is not likely
to remove that guilt. Should we appeal to the English nation
in general? This also is striking wide; and is never likely to
procure any redress for the sore evil we complain of. As little
would it in all probability avail, to apply to the Parliament.
So many things, which seem of greater importance, lie before
them, that they are not likely to attend to this. I therefore
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
add a few words to those who are more immediately
concerned, whether captains, merchants, or planters.
2. And, First, to the captains employed in this trade. Most
of you know the country of Guinea; several parts of it, at
least, between the river Senegal and the kingdom of Angola.
Perhaps, now, by your means part of it is become a dreary,
uncultivated wilderness, the inhabitants being all murdered
or carried away, so that there are none left to till the ground.
But you well know how populous, how fruitful, how pleasant
it was a few years ago. You know, the people were not
stupid, not wanting in sense, considering the few means of
improvement they enjoyed. Neither did you find them savage,
fierce, cruel, treacherous, or unkind to strangers. On the
contrary, they were, in most parts, a sensible and ingenious
people. They were kind and friendly, courteous and obliging,
and remarkably fair and just in their dealings. Such are the
men whom you hire their own countrymen to tear away from
this lovely country; part by stealth, part by force, part made
captives in those wars which you raise or foment on purpose.
You have seen them torn away,-children from their parents,
parents from their children; husbands from their wives, wives
from their beloved husbands, brethren and sisters from each
other. You have dragged them who had never done you any
wrong, perhaps in chains, from their native shore. You have
forced them into your ships like an herd of swine,-them who
had souls immortal as your own; only some of them leaped
into the sea, and resolutely stayed under water, till they
could suffer no more from you. You have stowed them
together as close as ever they could lie, without any regard
either to decency or convenience. And when many of them
had been poisoned by foul air, or had sunk under various
hardships, you have seen their remains delivered to the deep,
till the sea should give up his dead. You have carried the
survivors into the vilest slavery, never to end but with life;
such slavery as is not found among the Turks at Algiers, no,
nor among the Heathens in America.
3. May I speak plainly to you ? I must. Love constrains
me; love to you, as well as to those you are concerned
Is there a God ? You know there is. Is he a just God ?
Then there must be a state of retribution; a state wherein
the just God will reward every man according to his
THOUGHTS UFON SLAVERY.
works. Then what reward will he render to you? 0 think
betimes before you drop into eternity Think now, He
shall have judgment without mercy that showed no mercy."
Are you a man? Then you should have an human heart.
But have you indeed? What is your heart made of? Is
there no such principle as compassion there ? Do you never
feel another's pain ? Have you no sympathy, no sense of
human woe, no pity for the miserable? When you saw the
flowing eyes, the heaving breasts, or the bleeding sides and
tortured limbs of your fellow-creatures, was you a stone, or
a brute ? Did you look upon them with the eyes of a tiger?
When you squeezed the agonizing creatures down in the
ship, or when you threw their poor mangled remains into
the sea, had you no relenting? Did not one tear drop
from your eye, one sigh escape from your breast? Do you
feel no relenting now? If you do not, you must go on, till
the measure of your iniquities is full. Then will the great
God deal with you as you have dealt with them, and require
all their blood at your hands. And at "that day it shall
be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you!"
But if your heart does relent, though in a small degree,
know it is a call from the God of love. And "to-day, if
you will hear his voice, harden not your heart." To-day
resolve, God being your helper, to escape for your life.
Regard not money! All that a man hath will he give for
his life! Whatever you lose, lose not your soul: Nothing
can countervail that loss. Immediately quit the horrid
trade : At all events, be an honest man.
4. This equally concerns every merchant who is engaged in
the slave-trade. It is you that induce the African villain to
sell his countrymen; and in order thereto, to steal, rob,
murder men, women, and children without number, by enabling
the English villain to pay him for so doing, whom you overpay
for his execrable labour. It is your money that is the spring
of all, that empowers him to go on: So that whatever he or
the African does in this matter is all your act and deed. And
is your conscience quite reconciled to this? Does it never
reproach you at all ? Has gold entirely blinded your eyes, and
stupified your heart? Can you see, can you feel, no harm
therein? Is it doing as you would be done to? Makethe case
your own. "Master," said a slave at Liverpool to the merchant
'hat owned him, "what, if some of my countrymen were to come
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
here, and take away my mistress, and Master Tommy, and
Master Billy, and carry them into our country, and make them
slaves, how would you like it?" His answer was worthy of a
man: "I will never buy a slave more while I live." O let his
resolution be yours Have no more any part in this detestable
business. Instantly leave it to those unfeeling wretches who
Laugh at human nature and compassion!
Be you a man, not a wolf, a devourer of the human species !
Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy !
5. And this equally concerns every gentleman that has an
estate in our American plantations; yea, all slave-holders, of
whatever rank and degree; seeing men-buyers are exactly on
a level with men-stealers. Indeed you say, "I pay honestly
for my goods; and I am not concerned to know how they are
come by." Nay, but you are; you are deeply concerned to
know they are honestly come by. Otherwise you are a par-
taker with a thief, and are not a jot honester than him. But
you know they are not honestly come by; you know they are
procured by means nothing near so innocent as picking of
pockets, house-breaking, or robbery upon the highway. You
know they are procured by a deliberate series of more com-
plicated villany (of fraud, robbery, and murder) than was ever
practised either by Mahometans or Pagans; in particular, by
murders, of all kinds; by the blood of the innocent poured
upon the ground like water. Now, it is your money that pays
the merchant, and through him the captain and the African
butchers. You therefore are guilty, yea, principally guilty, of
all these frauds, robberies, and murders. You are the spring
that puts all the rest in motion; they would not stir a step
without you; therefore, the blood of all these wretches who
die before their time, whether in their country or elsewhere, lies
upon your head. "The blood of thy brother" (for, whether
thou wilt believe it or no, such he is in the sight of Him that
made him) "crieth against thee from the earth," from the ship,
and from the waters. 0, whatever it costs, put a stop to its
cry before it be too late: Instantly, at any price, were it the
half of your goods, deliver thyself from blood-guiltiness!
Thy hands, thy bed, thy furniture, thy house, thy lands,
are at present stained with blood. Surely it is enough;
accumulate no more guilt; spill no more the blood of the
innocent! Do not hire another to shed blood; do not pay
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
him for doing it Whether you are a Christiin or no, show
yourself a man Be not more savage than a lion or a bear!
6. Perhaps you will say, "I do not buy any Negroes; I
only use those left me by my father." So far is well; but is
it enough to satisfy your own conscience? Had your father,
have you, has any man living, a right to use another as a
slave ? It cannot be, even setting Revelation aside. It cannot
be, that either war, or contract, can give any man such a
property in another as he has in his sheep and oxen. Much
less is it possible, that any child of man should ever be born
a slave. Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon
as he breathes the vital air; and no human law can deprive
him of that right which he derives from the law of nature.
If, therefore, you have any regard to justice, (to say nothing
of mercy, nor the revealed law of God,) render unto all their
due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every
child of man, to every partaker of human nature. Let none
serve you but by his own alet and deed, by his own voluntary
choice. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion!
Be gentle toward all men; and see that you invariably do
unto every one as you would he should do unto you.
7. O thou God of love, thou who art loving to every man,
and whose mercy is over all thy works; thou who art the
Father of the spirits of all flesh, and who art rich in mercy
unto all; thou who hast mingled of one blood all the nations
upon earth; have compassion upon these outcasts of men, who
are trodden down as dung upon the earth! Arise, and help
these that have no helper, whose blood is spilt upon the
ground like water Are not these also the work of thine
own hands, the purchase of thy Son's blood? Stir them up
to cry unto thee in the land of their captivity; and let their
complaint come up before thee; let it enter into thy ears!
Make even those that lead them away captive to pity them,
and turn their captivity as the rivers in the south. 0 burst
thou all their chains in sunder; more especially the chains
of their sins! Thou Saviour of all, make them free, that
they may be free indeed !
The servile progeny of Ham
Seize as the purchase of thy blood !
Let all the Heathens know thy name:
From idols to the living God
The dark Americans convert,
And shine in every pagan heart I
OUR AMERICAN COLONIES.
Ne, pueri, ne tanta animis assuescite bella,
Neu patrie validas in viscera vertile vires*,VinGroL.
[PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1775.]
TO THE READER.
I WAS of a different judgment on this head, till I read a
tract entitled, "Taxation no Tyranny." But as soon as I
received more light myself, I judged it my duty to impart it
to others. 1 therefore extracted the chief arguments from
that treatise, and added an application to those whom it most
concerns. I was well aware of the treatment this would
bring upon myself; but let it be, so I may in any degree
serve my King and country.
A late tract, wrote in answer to this, is wrote in just such
a spirit as I expected. It is strewed over with such flowers
as these: "Contemptible sophistry Fallacious to the last
degree Childish quirks! Pitiful sophisms !" with strong
assertions, repeated over and over, and with florid quotations.
But all the arguments which are produced therein, may be
contained in a nut-shell.
The writer asserts twenty times, "He that is taxed without
Thus translated by Pitt:-
"0 check your wrath, my sons ; the nations spare;
And save your country from the woes of war;
Nor in her sacred breast, with rage abhorr'd,
So fiercely plunge her own victorious sword !"-EDIT.
Or writers. For I am informed by a correspondent in Bristol, that this letter
was wrote by two Anabaptist Ministers, assisted by a gentleman and a tradesman
of the Church of England.
OUR AMERICAN COLONIES.
his own consent, that is, without being represented, is a
slave." I answer, No; I have no representative in Parlia.
ment; but I am taxed; yet I am no slave. Yea, nine in ten
throughout England have no representative, no vote; yet
they are no slaves; they enjoy both civil and religious liberty
to the utmost extent.
He replies, "But they may have votes if they will; they
may purchase freeholds." What! Can every man in England
purchase a freehold ? No, not one in an hundred. But, be
that as it may, they have no vote now; yet they are no
slaves, they are the freest men in the whole world.
"Who then is a slave?" Look into America, and you
may easily see. See that Negro, fainting under the load,
bleeding under the lash He is a slave. And is there "no
difference" between him and his master ? Yes; the one is
screaming, "Murder! Slavery!" the other silently bleeds
and dies !
But wherein then consists the difference between liberty
and slavery?" Herein: You and I, and the English in
general, go where we will, and enjoy the fruit of our labours
This is liberty. The Negro does not: This is slavery.
Is not then all this outcry about liberty and slavery mere
rant, and playing upon words ?
This is a specimen of this writer's arguments. Let us just
touch upon his quotations:-
"All the inhabitants of England," says the fanciful
Montesquieu, as one terms him, "have a right of voting at
the election of a representative, except such as are so mean, as
to be deemed to have no will of their own!" Nay, if all have
a right to vote that have a will of their own, certainly this
right belongs to every man, woman, and child in England.
One quotation more: "Judge Blackstone says, 'In a free
state, every man who is supposed to be a free agent ought to
be in some measure his own governor.' Therefore, one
branch, at least, of the legislative power should reside in the
whole body of the people." But who are the whole body of
the people? According to him, every free agent. Then the
argument proves too much. For are not women free agents?
Yea, and poor as well as rich men. According to this
argument, there is no free state under the sun.
SThe book which this writer says I so strongly recommend,
I never yet saw with my eyes. And the words which he says
VOL. XI. G
CALM ADDRESS TO
I spoke, never came out of my lips. But I really believe, he
was told so.
I now speak according to the light I have. But if any
one will give me more light, I will be thankful.
BRETHREN AND COUNTRYMEN,
1. THE grand question which is now debated, (and with
warmth enough on both sides,) is this, Has the English
Parliament a right to tax the American colonies?
In order to determine this, let us consider the nature of
our colonies. An English colony is, a number of persons to
whom the King grants a charter, permitting them to settle
in some far country as a corporation, enjoying such powers
as the charter grants, to be administered in such a manner
as the charter prescribes. As a corporation they make laws
for themselves; but as a corporation subsisting by a grant
from higher authority, to the control of that authority they
still continue subject.
Considering this, nothing can be more plain, than that the
supreme power in England has a legal right of laying any
tax upon them for any end beneficial to the whole empire.
2. But you object, "It is the privilege of a freeman and
an Englishman to be taxed only by his own consent. ,And
this consent is given for every man by his representatives in
Parliament. But we have no representatives in Parliament.
Therefore we ought not to be taxed thereby."
I answer, This argument proves too much. If the Parlia-
ment cannot tax you because you have no representation
therein, for the same reason it can make no laws to bind you.
If a freeman cannot be taxed without his own consent, neither
can he be punished without it; for whatever holds with regard
to taxation, holds with regard to all other laws. Therefore
he who denies the English Parliament the power of taxation,
denies it the right of making any laws at all. But this
power over the colonies you have never disputed; you have
always admitted statutes for the punishment of offences, and
for the preventing or redressing of inconveniences; and the
reception of any law draws after it, by a chain which cannot
be broken, the necessity of admitting taxation.
3. But I object to the very foundation of your plea: That
"every freeman is governed by laws to which he has consented:"
OUR AAdERICAN COLONIES.
As confidently as it has been asserted, it is absolutely false.
In wide-extended dominions, a very small part of the people
are concerned in making laws. This, as all public business,
must be done by delegation; the delegates are chosen by a
select number. And those that are not electors, who are far
the greater part, stand by, idle and helpless spectators.
The case of electors is little better. When they are near
equally divided, in the choice of their delegates to represent
them in the Parliament or National Assembly, almost half of
them must be governed, not only without, but even against,
their own consent.
And how has any man consented to those laws which were
made before he was born? Our consent to these, nay, and
to the laws now made even in England, is purely passive.
And in every place, as all men are born the subjects of some
state or other, so they are born, passively, as it were,
consenting to the laws of that state. Any other than this
kind of consent, the condition of civil life does not allow.
4. But you say, you "are entitled to life, liberty, and
property by nature; and that you have never ceded to any
sovereign power the right to dispose of these without your
While you speak as the naked sons of nature, this is
certainly true. But you presently declare, Our ancestors,
at the time they settled these colonies, were entitled to all the
rights of natural-born subjects within the realm of England."
This likewise is true; but when this is granted, the boast of
original rights is at an end. You are no longer in a state of
nature, but sink down into colonists, governed by a charter.
If your ancestors were subjects, they acknowledged a
Sovereign; if they had a right to English privileges, they
were accountable to English laws, and had ceded to the King
and Parliament the power of disposing, without their consent,
of both their lives, liberties, and properties. And did the
Parliament cede to them a dispensation from the obedience
which they owe as natural subjects ? or any degree of inde-
pendence, not enjoyed by other Englishmen ?
5. "They did not" indeed, as you observe, "by emigra-
tion forfeit any of those privileges; but they were, and their
descendants now are, entitled to all such as their circum-
stances enable them to enjoy."
SThat they who form a colony by a lawful charter, forfeit no
CALM ADDRESS TO
privilege thereby, is certain. But what they do not forfeit by
any judicial sentence, they may lose by natural effects. When
a man voluntarily comes into America, he may lose what he
had when in Europe. Perhaps he had a right to vote for a
knight or burgess; by crossing the sea he did not forfeit this
right. But it is plain, he has made the exercise of it no
longer possible. He has reduced himself from a voter to one
of the innumerable multitude that have no votes.
6. But you say, "As the colonies are not represented in
the British Parliament, they are entitled to a free power of
legislation. For they inherit all the right which their
ancestors had of enjoying all the privileges of Englishmen."
They do inherit all the privileges which their ancestors had;
but they can inherit no more. Their ancestors left a country
where the representatives of the people were elected by men
particularly qualified, and where those who wanted that
qualification were bound by the decisions of men whom they
had not deputed. You are the descendants of men who either
had no votes, or resigned them by emigration. You have
therefore exactly what your ancestors left you; not a vote in
making laws, nor in choosing legislators; but the happiness
of being protected by laws, and the duty of obeying them.
What your ancestors did not bring with them, neither they
nor their descendants have acquired. They have not, by aban-
doning their right in one legislature, acquired a right to consti-
tute another; any more than the multitudes in England who
have no vote, have a right to erect a Parliament for themselves.
7. However, the "colonies have a right to all the privi-
leges granted them by royal charters, or secured to them by
The first clause is allowed : They have certainly a right to
all the privileges granted them by royal charters; provided
those privileges be consistent with the British constitution.
But as to the second there is a doubt: Provincial laws may
grant privileges to individuals of the province; but surely no
province can confer provincial privileges on itself! They
have a right to all which the King has given them; but not
to all which they have given themselves.
A corporation can no more assume to itself privileges which
it had not before, than a man can, by his own act and deed,
assume titles or dignities. The legislature of a colony may
be compared to the vestry of a large parish, which may lay a
OUR AMERICAN COLONIES.
cess on its inhabitants, but still regulated by the law, and
which, whatever be its internal expenses, is still liable to
taxes laid by superior authority.
8. But whereas I formerly allowed, "If there is, in the
charter of any colony, a clause exempting them from taxes
for ever, then they have a right to be so exempted;" I allowed
too much. For to say, that the King can grant an exemption
from the power of Parliament, is saying in other words, that
one branch of the legislature can grant away the power of the
others. This is so far from being true, that if there is, in
the charter of any colony, a clause exempting them from
taxes for ever, yet, unless it were confirmed by an act of the
whole Legislature, that clause is void in itself. The King (to
use the phrase of the law) was "deceived in his grant," as
having given that which he had no right to bestow.
Of all these charters, then, it may be said, either they do
contain such a clause, or they do not. If they do not, the
plea of charter-exemption drops. If they do, although the
.charter itself stands good, yet that clause of it is null and void,
.as being contrary to the principles of the British Constitution.
9. Give me leave to add a few words on this head: The
following acts show clearly, that, from the Restoration, the
colonies were considered as part of the realm of England, in
point of taxation, as well as everything else :-
25th Charles II., chap. 7, expressly relates to the colonies,
and lays several specific duties on commodities exported from
9th Anne, chap. 10, orders a revenue to be raised in America
from the post-office.
9th Anne, chap. 27, lays a duty on several goods imported
3d George II., chap. 28, lays a duty on all rice exported
from Carolina to the South of Cape Finisterre.
8th George II., chap. 19, extends the same to Georgia.
6th George II., chap. 13, lays several duties on rum, sugar,
and molasses imported into North-America.
10. All that impartially consider what has been observed,
must readily allow that the English Parliament has an
undoubted right to tax all the English colonies.
But whence then is all this hurry and tumult? Why is
America all in an uproar? If you can yet give yourselves
time to think, you will see the plain case is this :-
CALM ADDRESS TO
A few years ago, you were assaulted by enemies, whom
you were not well able to resist. You represented this to
your mother-country, and desired her assistance. You was
largely assisted, and by that means wholly delivered from all
After a time, your mother-country, desiring to be
re-imbursed for some part of the large expense she had been
at, laid a small tax (which she had always a right to do) on
one of her colonies.
But how is it possible, that the taking this reasonable and
legal step should have set all America in a flame ?
I will tell you my opinion freely; and perhaps you will
not think it improbable. I speak the more freely, because
I am unbiassed; I have nothing to hope or fear from either
side. I gain nothing either by the Government or by the
Americans, and probably never shall. And I have no preju-
dice to any man in America: I love you as my brethren
11. My opinion is this: We have a few men in England
who are determined enemies to monarchy. Whether they hate
His present Majesty on any other ground than because he is
a King, I know not. But they cordially hate his.office, and
have for some years been undermining it with all diligence, in
hopes of erecting their grand idol, their dear commonwealth,
upon its ruins. I believe they have let very few into their
design; (although many forward it, without knowing anything
of the matter;) but they are steadily pursuing it, as by various
other means, so in particular by inflammatory papers, which
are industriously and continually dispersed throughout the
town and country; by this method they have already wrought
thousands of the people even to the pitch of madness. By
the same, only varied according to your circumstances, they
have likewise inflamed America. I make no doubt but these
very men are the original cause of the present breach between
England and her colonies. And they are still pouring oil
into the flame, studiously incensing each against the other,
and opposing, under a variety of pretences, all measures of
accommodation. So that, although the Americans in general
love the English, and the English in general love the
Americans, (all, I mean, that are not yet cheated and
exasperated by these artful men,) yet the rupture is growing
wider every day, and none can tell where it will end.
UUC AMEIUCAN COLONIES.
These good men hope it will end in the total defection of
North-America from England. If this were effected, they
trust the English in general would be so irreconcilably
disgusted, that they should be able, with or without foreign
assistance, entirely to overturn the Government; especially
while the main of both the English and Irish forces are at so
convenient a distance.
12. But, my brethren, would this be any advantage to
you? Can you hope for a more desirable form of govern-
ment, either in England or America, than that which you
now enjoy ? After all the vehement cry for liberty, what
more liberty can you have? What more religious liberty can
you desire, than that which you enjoy already? May not
every one among you worship God according to his own
conscience ? What civil liberty can you desire, which you
are not already possessed of? Do not you sit, without restraint,
"every man under his own vine?" Do, you not, every one,
high or low, enjoy the fruit of your labour ? This is real,
rational liberty, such as is enjoyed by Englishmen alone; and
not by any other people in the habitable world. Would the
being independent of England make you more free? Far,
very far from it. It would hardly be possible for you to
steer clear, between anarchy and tyranny. But suppose,
after numberless dangers and mischiefs, you should settle
into one or more republics, would a republican government
give you more liberty, either religious or civil? By no
means. No governments under heaven are so despotic as
the republican; no subjects are governed in so arbitrary a
manner as those of a commonwealth. If any one doubt of
this, let him look at the subjects of Venice, of Genoa, or
even of Holland. Should any man talk or write of the Dutch
Government, as every cobbler does of the English, he would
be laid in irons before he knew where he was. And then,
woe be to him Republics show no mercy.
13. "But if we submit to one tax, more will follow,"
Perhaps so, and perhaps not. But if they did; if you were
taxed (which is quite improbable) equal with Ireland or Scot-
land, still, were you to prevent this, by renouncing connexion
with England, the remedy would be worse than the disease.
For O what convulsions must poor America feel, before any
other Government was settled? Innumerable mischiefs must
ensue, before any general form could be established. And
CALM ADDRESS TO
the grand mischief would ensue when it was established; when
you had received a yoke which you could not shake off.
14. Brethren, open your eyes! Come to yourselves Be
no longer the dupes of designing men! I do not mean any of
your countrymen in America; I doubt whether any of these
are in the secret. The designing men, the Ahithophels, are
in England; those who have laid their scheme so deep, and
covered it so well, that thousands, who are ripening it, suspect
nothing at all of the matter. These well-meaning men,
sincerely believing that they are serving their country, exclaim
against grievances, which either never existed, or are aggra-
vated above measure; and thereby inflame the people more
and more, to the wish of those who are behind the scene.
But be not you duped any longer; do not ruin yourselves for
them that owe you no good-will, that now employ you only for
their own purposes, and in the end will give you no thanks.
They love neither England nor America, but play one against
the other, in subserviency to their grand design of overturning
the English Government. Be warned in time; stand and
consider, before it is too late; before you have entailed
confusion and misery on your latest posterity. Have pity
upon your mother-country! Have pity upon your own!
Have pity upon yourselves, upon your children, and upon all
that are near and dear to you Let us not bite and devour
one another, lest we be consumed one of another O let us
follow after peace Let us put away our sins! the real
ground of all our calamities; which never will or can be
thoroughly removed, till we fear God and honour the King!
A SERMON preached by Dr. Smith, in Philadelphia, has
been lately reprinted in England. It has been much
admired, but proceeds all along upon wrong suppositions.
These are confuted in the preceding tract; yet I would just
touch upon them again.
Dr. Smith supposes, 1. They have a right of granting their
*own money; that is, of being exempt from taxation by the
supreme power. If they "contend for" this, they contend
for neither more nor less than independency. Why then do
they talk of their rightful Sovereign ?" They acknowledge
no Sovereign at all.
OUR AMERICAN COLONIES.
That they contend for "the cause of liberty," is another
mistaken supposition. What liberty do you want, either civil
or religious? Youhad the very same liberty we have inEngland.
I say you had; but you have now thrown away the substance,
and retain only the shadow. You have no liberty, civil or
religious, now, but what the Congress pleases to allow.
But you justly suppose, "We are by a plain original
contract entitled to a community of privileges, with our
brethren that reside in England, in every civil and religious
respect." (Page 19.) Most true. And till you appointed
your new sovereigns, you enjoyed all those privileges. Indeed
you had no vote for members of Parliament; neither have I,
because I have no freehold in England. Yet the being
taxed by the Parliament is no infringement either of my civil
or religious liberty. And why have you no representatives
in Parliament ? Did you ever desire them ?
But you say again, "No power on earth has a right to
grant our property without our consent." (Page 22.)
Then you have no Sovereign; for every Sovereign under
heaven has a right to tax his subjects; that is, "to grant
their property, with or without their consent." Our Sove-
reign* has a right to tax me, and all other Englishmen,
whether we have votes for Parliament-men or no.
Vainly, therefore, do you complain of "unconstitutional
exactions, violated rights, and mutilated charters." (Page 24.)
Nothing is exacted but according to the original constitution
both of England and her colonies. Your rights are no more
violated than mine, when we are both taxed by the supreme
power; and your charters are no more mutilated by this,
than is the charter of the city of London.
Vainly do you complain of being "made slaves." Am I
or two millions of Englishmen made slaves because we are
taxed without our own consent ?
You may still "rejoice in the common rights of freemen."
I rejoice in all the rights of my ancestors. And every right
which I enjoy is common to Englishmen and Americans.
But shall we "surrender any part of the privileges which
we enjoy by the express terms of our colonization;" that is,
of our charter? By no means; and none requires it of you.
None desires to withhold anything that is granted by the
* That is, in connexion with the Lords and Commons.
OBSERVATIONS ON LIBERTY.
express terms of your charters. But remember! one of your
first charters, that of Massachusetts-Bay, says, in express
terms, you are exempt from paying taxes to the King for
seven years; plainly implying, that after those seven years
you are to pay them like other subjects. And remember your
last charter, that of Pennsylvania, says, in express terms, you
are liable to taxation; yea, it objects against being taxed by
the King, unless in connexion with the Lords and Commons.
But "a people will resume," you say, "the power which
they never surrendered, except"-No need of any exception.
They never surrendered it at all; they could not surrender
it; for they never had it. I pray, did the people, unless you
mean the Norman army, give William the Conqueror his
power? And to which of his successors did the people of
England (six or seven millions) give the sovereign power?
This is mere political cant; words without meaning. I know
but one instance in all history wherein the people gave the
sovereign power to any one: That was to Massaniello of
Naples. And I desire any man living to produce another
instance in the history of all nations.
Ten times over, in different words, you profess yourselves
to be contending for liberty." But it is a vain, empty
profession; unless you mean by that threadbare word, a liberty
from obeying your rightful Sovereign, and from keeping the
fundamental laws of your country. And this undoubtedly it
is, which the confederated colonies are now contending for.
SOME OBSERVATIONS ON LIBERTY.
OCCASIONED BY A LATE TRACT.
[PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1776.]
1. IT was with great expectation that I read Dr. Price's
"Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles
of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with
OBSERVATIONS ON LIBERTY.
America;" and I was not disappointed. As the author is
a person of uncommon abilities, so he has exerted them to
the uttermost in the tract before us, which is certainly a
master-piece of its kind. He has said all that can be said
upon the subject, and has digested it in the most accurate
manner; and candour requires us to believe that he has wrote
with an upright intention, with a real design to subserve
the interest of mankind in general, as well as the subjects
of the British empire. But as the Doctor is a friend to
liberty, so he can "think and let think." He does not
desire that we should implicitly submit to the judgment,
either of him or any other fallible man; and will not there-
fore be displeased at a few further observations on the same
subject. That subject is,
2. The liberty which is now claimed by the confederate
colonies in America. In order to understand this much-
controverted question, I would set aside everything not
essential to it. I do not therefore now inquire, whether this
or that measure be consi tent with good policy; or, whether it
is likely to be attended with good or ill success : I only want
to know, is their claim eight or wrong? Is it just or unjust?
3. What is it they cl im? You answer, "Liberty." Nay,
is it not independency? You reply: "That is all one; they
do claim it, and they h e a right to it."
To independency? hat is the very question. To liberty
they have an undoubte right; and they enjoy that right. (I
mean, they did, till t e late unhappy commotions.) They
enjoyed their liberty n as full a manner as I do, or any
reasonable man can de ire.
"What kind of libe ty do they enjoy ?" Here you puzzle
the cause, by talking of physical and moral liberty. What
you speak of both is exactly true, and beautifully expressed :
But both physical and moral liberty are beside the present
question; and the introducing them can answer no other end
than to bewilder and confuse the reader. Therefore, to beg
the reader "to keep these in his view," is only begging him
to look off the point in hand. You desire him, in order to
understand this, to attend to something else! "Nay, I beg
him to look straight forward;. to mind this one thing; to.fix
his eye on that liberty, and that only, which is concerned in.
the present question: And all the liberty to which this
question relates, is either religious or civil liberty,"
OBSERVATIONS ON LIBERTY.
4. Religious liberty is, a liberty to choose ou" wn
religion; to worship God according to our own conscience.
Every man living, as a man, has a right to this, as he is o
rational creature. The Creator gave him this right vben I'p
endowed him with understanding; and every man must judge
for himself, because every man must give an account of himself
to God. Consequently, this is an unalienable right; it is
inseparable from humanity; and God did never give authority
to any man, or number of men, to deprive any child of man
thereof, under any colour or pretence whatever."*
Now, who can deny that the colonies enjoy this liberty to
the fulness of their wishes ?
5. Civil liberty is a liberty to dispose of our lives, persons,
and fortunes, according to our own choice, and the laws of
I add, according to the laws of our country: For, although,
if we violate these, we are liable to fines, imprisonment, or
death; yet if, in other cases, we enjoy our life, liberty, and
goods, undisturbed, we are free, to all reasonable intents and
Now, all this liberty the confederate colonies did enjoy,
till part of them enslaved the rest of their countrymen; and
all the loyal colonies do enjoy it at the present hour. None
takes away their lives, or freedom, or goods; they enjoy
them all quiet and undisturbed.
"But the King and Parliament can take them all away."
But they do not; and, till it is done, they are freemen. The
supreme power of my country can take away either my
religious or civil liberty; but, till they do, I am free in both
respects: I am free now, whatever I may be by and by. Will
any man face me down, I have no money now, because it
may be taken from me to-morrow ?
6. But the truth is, what they claim is not liberty; it is
independency. They claim to be independent of England;
no longer to own the English supremacy.
A while ago, they vehemently denied this; for matters were
not then ripe: And I was severely censured for supposing
they intended any such thing. But now the mask is thrown
off: They frankly avow it; and Englishmen applaud them
for so doing!
Nay, you will prove, that not only the colonies, but all
See a tract, entitled, "Thoughts upon Liberty."