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ON THE KING OF ENGLAND'S SPEECH.
Or all the innocent passions which actuate the human mind, there is none more universally prevalent than curiosity. It reaches all mankind, and in matters which concern us, or concern us not, it alike provokes in us a desire to know them.
Although the situation of America, superior to every effort to enslave her, and daily rising to importance and opulence, hath placed her above the region of anxiety, it has still left her within the circle of curiosity; and her fancy to see the speech of a man who had proudly threatened to bring her to his feet, was visibly marked with that tranquil confidence which cared nothing about its contents. It was inquired after with a smile, read with a laugh, and dismissed with disdain.
But, as justice is due, even to an enemy, it is right to say, that the speech is as well managed as the embarrassed condition of their affairs could well admit of; and though hardly a line of it is true, except the mournful story of Cornwallis, it may serve to amuse the deluded commons and people of England, for whom it was calculated.
"The war," says the speech, "is still unhappily prolonged by that restless ambition which first excited our enemies to commence it, and which still continues to disappoint my earnest wishes and diligent exertions to restore the public tranquillity."
How easy it is to abuse truth and language, when men, by habitual wickedness, have learned to set justice at
lions of dollars, besides the fifteen shillings on every hundred pounds of property, and the charge of seven and a half per cent. for collecting, in certain instances, which, on the whole, would be upwards of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling.
Now if those very fines disable the country from raising a sufficient revenue without producing an equivalent advantage, would it not be for the ease and interest of all parties to increase the revenue, in the manner I have pro. posed, or any better, if a better can be devised, and cease the operation of the fines? I would still keep the militia. as an organized body of men, and should there be a real necessity to call them forth, pay them out of the proper revenues of the state, and increase the taxes a third or fourth per cent. on those who do not attend. My limits will not allow me to go further into this matter, which I shall therefore close with this remark; that fines are, of all modes of revenue, the most unsuited to the mind of a free country. When a man pays a tax, he knows that the public necessity requires it, and therefore feels a pride in discharging his duty; but a fine seems an atonement for neglect of duty, and of consequence is paid with discredit, and frequently levied with severity.
I have now only one subject more to speak of, with which I shall conclude, which is, the resolve of congress of the 18th of March last, for taking up and funding the present currency at forty for one, and issuing new money in its stead.
Every one knows that I am not the flatterer of congress, but in this instance they are right; and if that measure is supported, the currency will acquire a value, which without it, it will not. But this is not all: it will give relief to the finances until such time as they can be properly arranged, and save the country from being immediately double-taxed under the present mode. In short, support that measure, and it will support you.
I have now waded through a tedious course of difficult business, and over an untrodden path. The subject, on every point in which it could be viewed, was entangled with perplexities, and enveloped in obscurity, yet such are the resources of America, that she wants nothing but sys
defiance. That the very man who began the war, who with the most sullen insolence refused to answer, and even to hear, the humblest of all petitions, who hath encouraged his officers and his army in the most savage cruelties, and the most scandalous plunderings, who hath stirred up the Indians on one side, and the negroes on the other, and invoked every aid of hell in his behalf, should now, with an affected air of pity, turn the tables from himself, and charge to another the wickedness that is his own, can only be equalled by the baseness of the heart that spoke it.
To be nobly wrong is more manly than to be meanly right, is an expression I once used on a former occasion, and it is equally applicable now. We feel something like respect for consistency even in error. We lament the virtue that is debauched into a vice, but the vice that affects a virtuc, becomes the more detestable: and amongst the various assumptions of character, which hypocrisy has taught, and men have practised, there is none that raises a higher relish of disgust, than to see disappointed inveteracy twisting itself, by the most visible falsehoods, into an appearance of piety which it has no pretensions to.
"But I should not," continues the speech, "answer the trust committed to the sovereign of a free people, nor make a suitable return to my subjects for their constant, zealous, and affectionate attachment to my person, family and government, if I consented to sacrifice, either to my own desire of peace, or to their temporary ease and relief, those essential rights and permanent interests, upon the maintenance and preservation of which, the future strength and security of this country must principally depend."
That the man whose ignorance and obstinacy first involved and still continues the nation in the most hopeless and expensive of all wars, should now meanly flatter them with the name of a free people, and make a merit of his crime, under the disguise of their essential rights and permanent interests, is something which disgraces even the character of perverseness. Is he afraid they will send him to Hanover, or what does he fear? Why is the sycophant thus added to the hypocrite, and the man who pretends to govern, sunk into the humble and submissive memorialist?
What those essential rights and permanent interests are, on which the future strength and security of England must principally depend, are not so much as alluded to. They
are words which impress nothing but the ear, and are calculated only for the sound.
But if they have any reference to America, then do they amount to the disgraceful confession, that England, who once assumed to be her protectress, has now become her dependant. The British king and ministry are constantly holding up the vast importance which America is of to England, in order to allure the nation to carry on the war: now whatever ground there is for this idea, it ought to have operated as a reason for not beginning it; and therefore they support their present measures to their own disgrace, because the arguments which they now use, are a direct reflection on their former policy.
"The favorable appearance of affairs," continues the speech, "in the East-Indies and the safe arrival of the numerous commercial fleets of my kingdom must have given you satisfaction."
That things are not quite so bad every where as in America may be some cause of consolation, but can be none for triumph. One broken leg is better than two, but still it is not a source of joy: and let the appearance of affairs in the East-Indies be ever so favorable, they are nevertheless worse than at first, without a prospect of their ever being better. But the mournful story of Cornwallis was yet to be told, and it was necessary to give it the softest introduction possible.
"But in the course of this year," continues the speech, "my assiduous endeavors to guard the extensive dominions of my crown have not been attended with success equal to the justice and uprightness of my views."-What justice and uprightness there was in beginning a war with America, the world will judge of, and the unequalled barbarity with which it has been conducted is not to be worn from the memory by the cant of snivelling hypocrisy.
"And it is with great concern that I inform you that the events of war have been very unfortunate to my arms in Virginia, having ended in the loss of my forces in that province."-And our great concern is that they are not all served in the same manner.
"No endeavors have been wanting on my part," says the speech, "to extinguish that spirit of rebellion which our enemies have found means to foment and maintain in the colonies; and to restore to my deluded subjects in