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A friend to Mr. Samuel Adams of Boston, had recommended to me the establishing a correspondence with Mr. Adams. As it coincided with my views, I readily adopted his advice, and wrote to him as follows.
“MIDDLE TEMPLE, January 10, 1771. Sir,–Our friend Mr. Sayre has done me the favour of communicating to me your very obliging invitation to a correspondence. An honour which I accept with great pleasure, because I have long respected your character, though your person was unknown to me.
It will always make me happy to submit my sentiments on the present state of politics, so very alarming to public liberty, to one, with whom I flatter myself I shall entirely harmonize in views of public good. It will be peculiarly unfortunate when the foes of liberty and virtue are conspiring together manifestly to subvert the constitution, if the friends of freedom should stand single and un-united, to fall unpitied sacrifices in an unavailing struggle. And certainly, despicable as those are who meditate our ruin, they set us an example of union, secrecy
perseverance, which highly deserves our imitation. Nothing escapes, of the conferences between Lord Hillsborough and Governor Bernard. Their doings are kept perfectly secret, and by the instructions to the wretched, because dishonest Hutchinson, they seem determined to fix an hermetic seal on all the springs of their movements with you. I have great comfort, however, in perceiving with what sagacity your house developes their designs, and the firmness with which you oppose them. Even the plausibility of a Hutchinson is not equal to the task of evading that vigilance, which marks the representatives of your province as the real guardians of the people's rights. In that truly respectable and patriotic house, you, sir, stand eminently distinguished; and as a friend to liberty I have long been thankful to you for your wise and spirited exertions in its defence, without having had an opportunity of offering you my thanks. Do me the favour to accept them now, and be assured that whatever may be the event of the contest, they who have stood honestly
forth in defence of the liberties of their country, will have their reward in the applause at least of all the worthy part of mankind. .
The infraction of the non-importation associations with you, has operated here like an opiate on all but the enemies of America. It has either benumbed their expectations, or quieted their apprehensions, so as to make them believe the American opposition entirely annihilated. It is plain, however, that our enemies are not so deceived, since they are strengthening the hands of oppression with you, and taking every precaution to render their despotic system as permanent as it is pernicious. We have, therefore, now little to expect from the public here, and still less from the leading men in this nation. From this number, however, I am bound in truth to except the lords Chatham, Shelburne and Camden, and Col. Barré, who very sincerly wish, as I well know, to restore to us our violated rights, and the constitution as we formerly enjoyed it. Two evils have arisen from the manner in which the associations have been broken, which I am much afraid are irremediable—the loss of all character here with the public, and the destruction of that confidence and harmony among the colonies, so essentially necessary to unite their efforts and render them successful in the common cause. To regain the opinion of the public here, and reunite the affections and operations of the colonies, is a task, however arduous, that must be undertaken. I can hardly think that the best plan of opposition will otherwise succeed. Might it not effect this to establish a correspondence among the leading men of each province, that you might harmonize in any future measure for the general good in the several assemblies.
Unanimity among yourselves will render you formidable and respected here. I observe that those who write in the public papers here against your town, are furnished with very speedy and accurate intelligence on all political affairs with you, which they communicate in such portions and manner as may best prejudice the public and
I have often lamented the want of authentic inforınation to refute them,
where from the general complexion of their story I conjectured it was fraudulent and false. It will not, however do to hazard one's conjecture on this ground, because being once wrong would fix mistrust on every future attempt. I shall therefore be always obliged to you for such intelligence as will enable me to detect their falsehoods, and defend the province and the town from their unjust aspersions. The character you give of Mr. H-h-n is exactly conformable to the idea I had formed of him. The lust of power, not worthy of being dignified with the name of ambition, is the animating principle of his conduct; and duplicity, the mould in which he casts it. His public acts show him to be a devoted tool of the present government, and I could not brand my bitterest foe with a more odious appellation.
My Lord Sandwich,“ homo omnium quos terra sustinet sceleratissimus," is made secretary of state on the resignation of Lord Weymouth. The cause of his resignation is supposed to be the accommodation which is contriving with Spain, too infamous it seems even for him to countenance. Madame Barré has gained the entire ascendancy in the French cabinet, in consequence of which Chosieul, who was for peace, is supplanted. Upon the whole, I believe it will hardly be in the power of our abject ministers to avoid a war; and if so, America will, for the present, suffer no farther oppression. Indeed if she is wise, then will be the time to insist on a bill of rights, before she lends her blood and treasure to increase that power which is turned to her destruction.
I have the honour to be sir, with very great respect, your most obedient humble servant,
At this time the disposition of the court of Spain seemed so inclined to war, that though it was as little the wish of the ministry to hazard themselves in that field, as it formerly was that of Sir Robert Walpole, yet the bold proceedings of the Spaniards seemed to render it inevitable. The ministry were constantly goaded to it by the opposition, as a rock on which they must be wreck
ed. Every one knows by what a shameful submission they appeased the wrath of Spain. The manner in which the non-importation agreement had been violated in America dwelt heavily on my mind. The bad consequences of it appeared alarming in proportion to the high expectations which were founded on it. I was deceived both in my expectations and apprehensions. There are indeed so many unforeseen circumstances which defeat the best concerted political projects, that an experienced politician will build upon them with extreme caution. The anxiety of my mind dictated the following part of a letter to Mr. John Dickinson, dated January 10th, 1771.
“ From this pleasing prospect I must now turn to the melancholy view of our political state. When I speak of my country it is in the despair and grief of my heart. She is undone. That virtue which alone could have saved her does not exist. There is in my apprehension a fatal sympathy between the merchants and the people. The former would never have hazarded such copious importations had they not been assured that the latter would purchase them. And if our liberties are not worth the difference between a homespun and a broadcloth coat, between a worsted and a silk stocking in the estimation of the people, on what are we to found our hopes of retrieving our rights? We have demonstrated our slavery, and submit to be enslaved for the most contemptible of all human gratifications, that of vanity. We have rattled our chains through all Europe, that all Europe might see we have not spirit to shake them off. It is not a doubtful business, a plausible usurpation, but an avowed, demonstrated, and acknowledged tyranny. We are not deluded, but driven into slavery. And this, not by the valour, the wiles, or the wisdom of the tyrant; but by our own intolerance of every honourable and virtuous effort to redeem us from bondage. It is not that the non-importation agreements have been given up; but that they were faithlessly kept and shamefully abandoned. A measure found by experience to be impracticable or inadequate, might have been dropped with honour and propriety, but mutual treachery and bitter
recrimination must render every future operation contemptible and nugatory. In these circumstances sir, even your confidence and assurances can hardly revive my hopes. I am certain too that even our friends here, were they to come into power to-morrow, would not attempt to redress our grievances. They well know that against the sense of the members and lords of parliament, against the plans and principles of the ostensible administration men and interior cabinet, but above all against the wish of the king and his favourite ; such an attempt, without a steadfast, determined, alarming opposition on the part of America, must be without success. It is therefore but too sure that the chains which the late system imposed, are rivetted on us. There are indeed leading men in this kingdom who are against the whole system, both principle and practice, but their opinions are over-ruled, and that without hope of the reverse. There is however one event to which I yet look forward with some confidence ; an event which cannot be at any great distance, that of a war. One noble and united struggle then would yet redeem us. I therefore took the liberty of proposing to your consideration whether it would not be proper to prepare for that opportunity, especially in point of union ; for unanimity among the colonies is absolutely necessary to success, whatever may be the measure pursued. The assemblies should harmonize in three things. Refusing supplies without redress of grievances ; repeating their resolve of rights; and sending over petitions for redress at that critical and alarming period, when the value of our affection and assistance will appear in its highest lustre ; the more symptoms we show of discontent and alienated affections the more sure will be the attainment of our end. Therefore the moderation so commendable at other times, would assuredly injure us then. If you could communicate this scheme, modelled and digested by your better judgment to such leading men in each colony as may be trusted, a plan might be deliberately formed, and a measure of so great importance would not be left to the precipitate emergency of the moment of action.