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therefore nothing remains for him, but to win the good will of his inferiors by apparent condescensions, softness of manners, and those lighter acts of friendship, which throw silken chains around collected hearts, and improve the facilities of social life. With you, it is all contest of rough and umble. The rich man is austere, because he fears his prerogatives are invaded; and the poor man is soured, because he is crowded from his station, by one whom he deems no better than himself.
On the other hand, it is said by a sanguine party among us, that your experiment in giving to a whole people self-government, is eminently successful. America is represented as the home of the virtuous, and the paradise of the free; the generous nature of man is said to be there expanding under institutions, sufficiently strong to regulate, but too feeble to cramp his powers; your roughness of manners is said to be only the flashes of sincerity; and your prostrate church, is only religion freed from its outward forms, and putting on the patchwork robe, whose variegated colors only increase its beauty. Even the railing and severity which fill the electioneering articles in your papers, are represented as the flumes, through which the black waters flow away from the field and leave the soil and atmosphere healthful and pure. It is a smoke that indicates but little fire. In short, it is said, that you are the first people, who knew how to build up the edifices of liberty on their lasting foun
dations, by trusting human nature according to the perfectibility of its powers.
My dear friend, I am no dogmatist in philosophy or religion, and I have written to you for your testimony on this subject. Write to me carefully, for your words will have a bearing on my uture conduct. You will assist me, I hope, in fixing the middle point between conservative toryism, and headlong innovation. I want your testimony, rather than your opinion; still, as the one can scarcely come without some tinge of the other, I would not debar you from a free use of your pen, and full communication of your heart.
Should I say, that I pay very little atention to the representation of those travellers, whose prejudices have galled your countrymen so much, I should only convey a superfluous piece of information. But no nation exists for itself; its moral and political attraction will be felt, as certainly as, in a physical sense, our solar system would be affected, should a new planet be rolled into its compass. America is to act an important part in advancing or retarding the common welfare; and her example, bright or pernicious, will be felt in the last destinies of mankind.
Ten thousand follies through Columbia spread,
Dwight to the Continental Convention.
REALLY, my friend, you have set me a severe task; your questions open a field which it would require a life to explore. You not only ask me to estimate the influence of republicanism in church and state, on our manners and social happiness, but you want a testimony, which is to modify the proceedings of the whole island of Great Britain. This is too much for one who hardly dares to adopt the responsibility of forming opinions for himself.
In our country, as everywhere else, politics and social life is a complex scene, where good and evil are mixed up in all proportions and endless variety of combinations; and I cannot wonder, that a man who has a theory to support, and has formed all his views from being under an old government, should find much to bias him against republicanism and its effects. I have no quarrel with your travellers; some of them may be honest; but most of them use an argument against us, which proves too much, and therefore proves nothing; for I put it to your conscience, my friend, if I were to come to Great Britain, and collect every moral deformity of person or proceeding, from the hovels of the highlands, to the miseries of the weavers in Spitalfields, London, as an argument against monarchy, whether I could not reason as forcibly, and with as much conviction to an honest heart? The worst argument amid all the sophisms of false logic, is a partial statement of facts.
We, like all other nations, have our advantages, and those advantages are combined with many painful abatements Our republic, you know, was founded in irritation; our fathers, persecuted as they thought by Laud, fled from his power, to found their privileges in this wilderness; and here, all they deemed privilege, was for years a matter of contest. On the restoration of king Charles II., as you know, a quo warrant was issued to seize their charter, and Andros,
the creature of king James, they seized and put in chains. William was more popular; but even of him they obtained a charter, which did not satisfy them; and of kings they knew little, but by the contests their prerogatives could excite, and the evils their long arms could inflict. Then came the revolutionary war, when every passion was roused, every energy called forth, in which, after incalculable sufferings, they won their independence. It cannot be known to you, as it is to me, who have heard the tale from my grandfather's fireside, at what an immense expense of suffering, on our part, that conflict was maintained. It literally took the bread from our mouths; and I have heard my grandfather say, that in a scarce year, which happened during that war, he was puzzled, on some occasions, to find bread for the communion table. The officers of the American army were literally a band of gentlemen beggars; and as to the privates, their marches in winter, (and even then they were compelled to march,) could be tracked by the blood from their frozen feet. The people, therefore, deriving all their evils, as they believed, from political oppression, it is not wonderful, if they, by a natural reaction, indulged romantic expectations of blessings to arise from liberty obtained. Politics was to do everything for us; government was to be a magazine of universal felicities. Only make the people free, and secure a good constitution, and it would open a sluice-way for the