Martin Fitzpatrick, Emma Macleod, and Anthony Page (eds), The Wodrow–Kenrick Correspondence 1750–1810, Vol. 1: 1750–1783
pg 380Letter 59: Samuel Kenrick to James Wodrow, 29 January & 13 February 1778
My Dearest Friend
Your very kind & voluminous favour of Octr. 1st. came duly to hand. But of all its important contents, the last page & half wch. concerned yourself, family & friends, was infinitely more interesting to me & more valuable in my estimation & that of my family's than all your reasonings & 〈 – – 〉 ^generous^ defence of a cause, wch. appears to me ill-founded, & inconsistent wth. the true original principles of liberty & of our own excellent constitution. With what face dare I then presume to contend wth. you, who are daily using the weapons of argumentation & persuasion! When all that you have said, & warmly urged, has had little or no effect upon my mind, how much less than nothing & vanity must all I can say, have upon yours! And yet if I say nothing; you would have a reason to blame me for ill-manners– & a want of openness & candour, in not pointing out honestly, what I think the insufficiency of ^some of the positions^ which you have advanced. For my own ease I shall run over in your letter as it lyes before me; but for fear of tiring you, more than from want of inclination, I shall touch as briefly as possible, the points wherin I know we differ–
Your repeated complaints against the postmasters, astonish me– nor can I account for the delay of my letters to you: nor how they could charge you postage for the last frank I wrote in. But this I know, ^that^ in the spirit of a true American I should not have paid one farthing but returned the frank'd envelope, & threatened to make my complaint to the gentleman who frank'd it, if they persisted in demanding payment. I have returned the envelope, where I thought I was overcharged, more than once & never heard a syllable more abt. it. As to altering the direction, it was not done with my knowledge– I left it sealed as originally directed in Messrs. Fulton's Counting-house London.1 You observe (like a true American & spirited Bostonian) that no Briton likes (I say ought) to submit to the unlawful payment of a single penny– but ought to demand redress as they did wth. manly resolution– & when attacked wth. arms, as the last resource to defend themselves with arms. But I am afraid you will not join me in all this. As to what you say besides abt. your future directions &c it shall all be observed.
pg 381I am ^as^ far from approving– as you can be– our devoting so large a part of our correspondence, to political subjects– in wch. alone we seem to differ– for at bottom I agree with you in thinking that our sentiments are equally liberal & generous, & probably the same. The difference seems solely to arise from your partiality– if you will allow me to call it so– for our present rulers & consequently every measure of theirs;– & from my partiality– wch. I dare say, you will easily grant me– for the ill-used & injured Americans. We have duly formed our opinions, have taken sides, & are daily confirming ourselves in our several attachments, by reading greedily whatever favours our sentiments & courting the conversation of friends who think as we do: in vain is it then to expect any alteration, 'till it first take place between the contending parties. And there I think your party will be first tired & glad to accept the first terms wch. the Americans offered them over & over again– viz to repeal every offensive irritating act & place them on the same footing as they were in 1763– And if they do not accept of this to make the best commercial treaty with them you can.
But party say you– what do you mean by disgracing us wth. that sneaking diminitive word– wch. can only be apply'd to your forlorn pitiful faction?2 We are in Scotland twenty to one (I am glad to hear, however, that you are upon the decrease– for in Augt. 75 you assured me you were 100 to one against us) & you are assured that they are five to one in England. Therefore the measures right or wrong– (that is excellent! & therefore are justifiable & ought to be pursued)– are national. Nay the Americans do not doubt of it– nor anybody in the world but a discontented party in Britain, who are pleased to consider themselves as the nation.
As to your unanimity in Scotland, tho' by your own acct. upon the decline, I shall not dispute it– but with regard to England I will venture to say, you are mistaken. And if we were the pitiful & significant faction you seem to look upon us, do you think we should be treated wth. less severity, than the American tories on the other side of the Atlantic, for the bold home truths uttered publicly in & out of parliament?– you credit the lenity & moderation of our governors wth. this generous forbearance, but I debit it to their fears & to the consciousness of the pg 382badness of the cause, which they are supporting. They are & they know they are unpopular to the bulk of the English nation.3 Determined enemies to the principles of the Revolution & of consequence to the Hanover succession– they can never be popular in this country, whatever they may with you: & as long as they continue to have our sovereign's ear, they will not fail, I fear, to render his reign inglorious, this lately happy ^flourishing^ & united people, oppressed & discontented, & finally utterly ruined. But you still say you have the majority in both houses. In counting noses I grant it. But what will you say, when out of 80 representatives for the 40 English counties– the great majority of them certainly Gentleman of independent fortunes– 39 of those oppose every ministerial measure wth. regard to America & only 33 constantly support them. Of the remaining 8, some ^seldom or ^ never attend & 4 of them vote sometimes on one side, at other times on the other. The names of these gentlemen were published at full length in one of our news papers within this week– for the very purpose I now mention them to you. And out of the rest, if you take your 45 representatives ^& 24 Welsh^ (who are to a man ^the tools &^ creatures of every ministry) placemen ^includg. officers in the army & navy^, pensioners, contractors, & the rest of the needy sort who intend to become so; all wch. I still insist on it, will make a majority for every ministry & any measures:– there will still remain ^on our side^ a majority of creditable independent country gentlemen. I grant you, there are several respectable country gentlemen, who join this ministry from principal, because they are tories – deduct these from the representatives of counties & boroughs– And how few true staunch whigs, who are from principal ^the^ friends & assertors of the sacred rights of mankind, of the Revolution the great Ӕra of English liberty, & of our free constitution, will you find, of that great national party wch. you are so fond of believing exists among us? I have as much to say wth. regard to the other house: And of both, that men of the most virtuous & respectable characters– whose virtues & abilities are well known & admired– form the greater part of what is called the minority: & that it is necessary to be such to make governors & government popular & respected. Of the present groope, the premier, is certainly the most respectable character– & as such I always revere him, tho' he is a tory.4 He is the keystone pg 383that keeps ^the arch^ together. And I cannot help thinking that he has too much wisdom, to approve heartily of these violent measures wch. seem dictated by a higher power.5
But let us leave Lords & Courts & come nearer home.– Here I can assure you that the Ld. Lieutenant of this county (Ld. Coventry)6 & the 2 members for the county7 are of the minority. So are the 2 County members for Warwickshire8 to the east of us, one of Gloucestersh. to the south & one of Herefordshire to the west. Lastly in our own little Borough– where I believe that common run of the inhabitants are pretty equally divided abt.– tho' all heartily tired of, this unhappy business– but without any violence on either side: & this I find to be the case of the common people for 15 or 20 miles about:– here I say, our Bailiff or principle Magistrate for the present year, & the Prætor designatus, who is intended to succeed him before the close of it are both what you call Americans & what we call here honest Whigs & Britons:9 besides we can count 5 out of thirteen of the same spirit among our Capital burgesses or aldermen:– altho' our Representative (brother of the late worthy Ld. Lyttelton)10 is a Ld. of the Treasury, our high Steward a ministerial Lord & placeman (the presnt . Ld. Lytt.) & our Recorder a staunch ministerialist & member for the next county to the north of us. From hence you may observe a striking characteristic of the English nation, wch. I think elevates them greatly above every other. Sed non est his locus11.
pg 384What do you think of the town of Nottingham?12– of wch. Sir Wm. Howe13 who now commands in America, is one of the representatives– the corporation of this town & the inhabitants at large, have each presented petitions to his Majesty against this unnatural war, begging in the warmest
terms ^manner^ that he wd. order a stop to be put to it– & marking their abhorrence of it, in the strongest ^terms^. The same sort of petition is now getting ready in the county of Norfolk – the 3rd. if not the second county in the Kingdom for extent populousness &c.14 Yorkshire & Devonshire will probably follow the example. On the other hand, Bristol, Manchester & Liverpool & Birmm. have offered to raise money & men in favour of ministry.15 Will these make five to one according to your calculation?
Aye but say you we are at twenty to one in Scotland.– I am glad as I said above that you are not a hundred to one as you were two years ago. Be it so– & shall I tell you what the consequence of your violence in the matter will be here? Take my word for it, having the direct contrary effect to sympathy– as your fury & violence increase, in the same proportion will coolness & indifference prevail here.– Aye but says Sir John Dalrymple, or whoever is the author of a foolish declamatory pg 385rant intitled Reflections &c on the spirit of the times– or something like it16– "there is the handsome Duke of Hamilton, the rich Duke of Atholl, Bailey, Maxwell of Edr. whose bror. was a good soldier– the writers of the signet– & taylors, shoemakers & bonnet makers of Glasgow have subscribed immense sums– Ergo, all Britain is united– this is a national war, every soul upon this side of the Atlantic is determined upon the destruction of every soul on the other side– or to perish in the attempt. Nay those that do not chuse to go, are determined to beggar themselves, according to his account, to encourage others to go upon this bloody errand. This is a love of bloodshed with a vengeance.– I should like to ask the author, or these generous Glasgow Websters,17 who offer to subscribe to one hundred pounds out of their whole stock of £200– in the spirit of meekness as you do. What motive prompts them or what end have they in view – As Achilles says of the Trojans, they never plundered my flocks nor herds.18 So far from hurting Glasgow, it was America that raised it to that pitch of glory & opulence in wch. it now figures. These Americans are human creatures like ourselves– tho' they were not born in Glasgow– speak the same language, profess the same religion, worship the same merciful God– believed they had the privileges as other British subjects, not to part with their property without their own consent– but generously resigned to us the whole controul & management of their trade. If the Emperor of Germany, the Elector of Hanover's supreme master, or the King of France as Duke of Normandy– should appoint tax gatherers in England ^or Scotland^ to collect their arbitrary impositions, upon any commodities wch. were imported hither from either of those countries– it could not surprise or shock us more than our tea tax did the Americans. They thought as you do, from time immemorial, that they were to pay no taxes in their own country, but what they consented to in their parliaments & imposed upon themselves. Thus they lived as you do, thinking all that they had was really their own. Suppose the King of France was to send such an order to you. Would not your souls fire at the insult, the injustice, the unreasonableness of the requisition? I know you wd. refuse it like men of spirit– & perhaps sink or burn the ^cargo &^ vessel that brought it pg 386over. What is the consequence? You have roused the French Lion. He sends over 50,000 ^armed men^ & 50 ships of the line to lay waste with fire & sword your cities, towns & villages. As you have a good cause ^at least you think so^ & heaven on your side, you set his fleets & armies at defiance. You baffle all his wild attempts. And make his generals beat themselves: while they are teaching & traing. you up all the while to conquer them. By the bye, Lewis was told that you were a parcel of dastardly cowards but amazingly rich. And he & all the court of Versailles believed it. Nay so happy & so sure of victory were he & his courtiers, that they had all your rich cultivated lands, houses & villas already forfeited, & parcelled out to them & their friends. However you shew'd him at Bunker's hill,19 at Whiteplains20, at Trenton,21 at Saratoga,22 at Germantown23 (we will suppose these fictitious names) that you had spirit & would soon tire him out. When behold news is brought you, that poor Lewis has got no more men to send nor money to pay them: but that in this dilemma he is surrounded by all the barbers taylors & men-milliners of Paris & its environs, offering him the half of their fortunes to cut the throats of these rascally islanders.– Is this enough?
All I would say is that the Americans, thought themselves injured, & looked upon our present governors– not the country in general– as their most inveterate enemies, who would rob them of their dearest rights & priveledges.– Whether it were so in fact is a different thing.– But if they think so how vain must every future attempt be, when they have already baffled our utmost efforts?– Men who prefer liberty to life are invincible. Is it wisdom is it prudence in your leading men in Scotland to drain it still more of its useful inhabitants, upon so fruitless an errand?– I know well the motive of many of them, to provide for a parcel of useless idle beings called gentleman's youngest sons, with commissions, & if they are not knock'd o' the head– wch. matters not to their friends or country– to have pg 387them maintained afterwards on half pay. This is one reason wch. will always keep up the military spirit in Scotland: but you will find nothing like it in England. And yet the author mentioned above seems to take it for granted as well as you: Nay all that think otherwise are disloyal, republicans, enemies to their country, seditious &c– This is the true cant of party spirit. For it is well known that everyone, almost, who are charged with these epithets, are the very people or of the same stamp, who brought about the Revolution & supported the happy succession of the house of Hannover: & who are now branded with opprobrious names for continuing steady in, & uniformly consistent wth. their first principles. This I have told you more than once: tho' you seem to think it groundless– for an obvious reason:– because you & many of your friends who embrace the same opinions as we do, do not see any just ground for this charge. I have not time now to enter into particulars. Only when you set about answering this charge formerly, you
have forgot to justify the employing the present authors who write in defence of the present men & measures– namely Dictionary Johnson,24 a most invincibly bigotted jacobite, who obstinately refused to take the oath of abjuration to entitle him to his pension of £300 per ann. & it was dispensed with. Dr. Shebbeare,25 who was pilloried above 30 years ago for his jacobitical writings, is not only protected but pensioned for bespattering with the most virulent abuse King William, the Revolution & the worthy patriots, who then stood forth at the risque of their lives & fortunes, in defence of the sacred rights of mankind;26 & to whom we are indebted for the civil & religious liberties wch. we now enjoy– Westley27 the canting Methodist– who has clearly diverged from his religious line of conduct: & lost many friends, by it– & lastly Dalrymple, MacPherson28 & too many of your sensible countrymen who, whatever private advantage they may find in it, have forfeited much of the esteem of many wise & good men, wch. their pg 388ingenious labours would otherwise have entitled them to.– But let me divert you a moment from this serious subject I am running into, with a trifling anecdote of the just mentioned baronet– who, if I mistake not, was a fellow student ^with us^ at Glasgow. You know he writes in a stiff, pedantic, affected style. From thence I make no doubt, he talks in the same way– & thinks it certainly fine, clever, sublime, & all that as Mr. Bayes29 says– & that his readers & hearers admire it. How much must he be surprized & mortified!– even more than the eloquent Theophrastus, by the Athenian herb-woman, or fish-woman; wch. was it?30 Your son will tell you– to find himself so great a master of language, charged with impropriety, & laughed at for it; by a parcel of silly young giggling girls at a boarding-school. I had it from one of them, a friend's daughter of mine of this town, who was present. Sir John comes stumbling into the school one day in quest of his daughter. The eyes & attention of the young, innocent, chearful assembly were fixed upon him. He addresses the Governess in an audible voice, wch. they all heard, to request her permission to his daughter to accompany him to a friends house for two or three days – & let her take added he two or three clean shirts with her.– The grave lady bitg. her lips ^assented^– the young ones stared at each ^other^ simpering & tittering ready to burst– 'till they were relieved by the departure of the baronet: when they gave full vent to their innocent mirth & harmless raillery.– charging poor Miss D. with the odious crime of wearing her father's shirts. For you know that that word in England is as exclusively a ^part of^ male dress as breeches, tho' it be in Scotland of the common or Epicene gender. Besides there is a disagreeable impropriety in a man's naming that part of a lady's dress at ^all^, especially before an assembly of ladies, where a general word or an easy periphrasis would have convey'd the same idea wth. equal perspicuity.– You, or perhaps some severer friend of his, may call this false delicacy. I cannot help that. Custom has established it so. And custom according to Horace & truth, is the supreme judge of the propriety or impropriety of language. In this instance pg 389ridicule is unanswerable. All the powers of logic & rhetoric vanish like smoak before it.
But to return to your letter. I think you must grant me that the cause is not so national as it seem'd to you to be– & that it has never yet been proved to be the hearty cause of our country. Nay I am still of opinion, that were our ministry to take it into their heads to send an army & navy to the conquest of Japan or China– they would find as many men & officers to go, as against America– & a majority in both houses of parliament, with a mighty pompous plausible speech from the throne recommending it in the strongest terms.– Sure you would not call that a national war, merely because it was the will of the ministry?– Ministry say you!– "was there ever a war carried on, that was not the war ^scheme &^ of the ministry"? Yes this country did it & forced the ministry into it within my memory. The war with Spain in 1739 as well as the subsequent one with France in 1744 was directly contrary to the inclination of the then minister & ministry. So was that in 1756.31 Indeed I hardly think there ever was ^an^ instance, since our nation has been governed by a minister or ministry, of war originating from them except the present one– in wch. I do not think as I said before our Premier is hearty.32 There is a confusion & derangement in war that do not suit him. If he has business enough upon his hands in peace, what must he have in time of war? The above wars were popular– the ministry was forced into them– it was a war of the country– wch. I still deny the present to be.
But at last you allow me to call our present governors a "Junto", but they are such a Junto as have governed England since the days of Elizh.33 None more unpopular, you might have added, during that period. Instead of wch. you say they are the best we have had for these 20 years. There I can't agree with you. Only recollect the glorious years, 58, 59, 60.34 Was not the whole nation from John O' Grott's to Dover Cliffs, or the Lands End, of one heart, one mind, one spirit– such as I fear we shall never see again. Yes I do still insist upon it– and perhaps the event is not far off, when it will be seen– that were the present ministry displaced, there would immediately be a majority in favour of the new ministry, be they better or worse than the present,– as long as there exists a majority pg 390of needy men– & ministry have places to bestow upon such. Yes I do remember the Rockingham Junto (as you are welcome to call those worthy virtuous men) & how they reversed the former measures, Stamp Act &c– fatal repeal, say you– more fatal imposition say I, that it ever was hazarded.35 Yes I do remember by what numbers it was carried in both houses. You say scarce a majority in the house of Commons, tho' you will find it to be 275 against 167 a majority of 108.36 Compare this with Ld. North's majoritys– viz feb. 2 on Mr. Fox's motion 259 against 165– viz 94.37 Again feb. 3. 223 against 130 viz 9338 & on friday last feby. 6 223 against 137 viz 86.39 Examine any of this latter minorities & you will find in them gentleman of the first rank, property & abilities in the nation. But you will hardly find one Scotsman or placeman whatever. That was not the case in the first minority where you will find above thirty placemen; wch. was a plain indication that the measure however popular & national was not relished by the higher powers, to wch. these placemen sacrificed– & that wisely, as all of them that are alive still enjoy the same or better places.– And in the house of Lords against a minority you say of Eighty one. But if you take the trouble to count the list over again as I have done you will find it to be Seventy one. Amo[n]g40 these 71, how many scots peers, placemen & bishops were there?– As clear as that of the other house. We know whence the influence came. Read the account of the whole transaction in the Annual Register (the best incomparably of our periodical histories.)41 You will there find it recorded that this same execrable Repeal was carried in triumph to the house of Lords by above 200 members of the lower house (– an event pg 391(subjoins the judicious author the late learned & laborious Dr. Campbell)42 that caused more universal joy throughout the British dominions than perhaps any other that can be remembered.
And yet my best friend the most honest, candid & judicious of men, calls it a fatal repeal, wch. was scarce carried by a majority in the house of commons– when it was clearly carried by a great majority– directly contrary to the will & pleasure of a deluded misled 〈–〉 & that of all his devoted creatures & favourites.
From all this I draw a contrary conclusion to yours, namely that the Americans know, & shew through their whole conduct that they know it, that they have a great majority of friends in England, as they have every where, else, where justice, wisdom & good policy, are preferred to mean cunning, short sighted folly, shocking barbarity, & the most contemptible ignorance. There's a Rowland for your Oliver!43
Come we next to justice & sound policy. Let us examine this with all your ^coolness^ & leave prejudice & passion to Dr. Price &c.44
But still you come to facts– & here I deny that the Americans did first fly to arms, or resisted authority. The city of Edr. did it more in Porteus' affair.45 As to the right of taxation, 'tis to no purpose to dispute about ^it^. But summum jus summa injuria est.46 Sound policy would only dictate to impose such taxes, as would certainly be paid, & bring a clear revenue into the exchequer; not such as would be disputed & refused. But our late governours in their great wisdom, recalled a tax of one shillg. in the pound paid here without any trouble or deduction, for a poor pitiful 3d per gallon wch. was to be collected in America,47 by a parcel of pg 392ravenous excisemen & collectors who would devour the greatest part of it– & this is for the poor, pitiful, insignificant 〈–〉 ^provision^ for a few more dependents upon a corrupt administration. Where is the wisdom, the good policy of this manœuvre?– This is dropping the good fat collop,48 to snatch at the shadow.
I am afraid I shall tire you. And yet you will be affronted if I presume to disagree with you, without telling you why or where^fore^. As this will probably be the last of the sort, I will go on.– They never dream'd of indepen^den^cy– at least the best part of them– 'till you drove them to it. You are mistaken in calling them subjects in the same extent as we are. We had the whole of their trade at our mercy. And a wise government would have looked upon this advantage as sufficient– without ever plaguing themselves & America, with metaphysical disputes, about the ^limits &^ extent of right & favour.49– Their territory English? What before they took possession of it?– No afterwards. Then they made it so. But its being called English does not entitle them to all the priviledges of Englishmen unless they come home:– & when they do come home, they may be made members of the English legislature. But they must be elected by Englishmen at home, & as they do not elect, they certainly are not represented. Aye say you & so are many in England, who have no voice for a member of parliament. I know it ^is^ so– & a great imperfection it is in our government, quite contrary to the spirit & nature of our free constitution. For every free man has a natural, indefaisible right ^in a free country^ of voting for a representative– as you will find it practised in America. Do not therefore extend ^to America^ the imperfection & faulty parts of our
government ^constitution^– if you ^will not or^ cannot ^give them^ the wholesome & useful ones– of allowing them representatives. Besides their case is very different at present:– for our representatives when they tax us, impose the same taxes upon themselves– wch. would not be the case if you were to allow them to tax people 3 or 4000 miles off, whom they never saw nor new nothing of each other. You may by the same argument say, that the Americans being now independent States, will have a right to tax this country, if they allow Britons, as they certainly will, to go over & settle among them & acquire property enough to qualify them to become representatives there in any of their parliaments. But you will not find the Americans, such absurd logicians, nor weak politicians. These quibbles are left for unprincipled pensioned pamphleteers.
pg 393I have a very clear idea of one being the subject of a government & not bound to every tax imposed by that government– the Americans believed for 150 years that they were subjects of that sort. And what have we but belief for our own right to not being taxed with our own consent. If a Stuart king makes our representatives hereditary, like the upper house, & commands taxes at pleasure with a bayonet at our breasts– of what avail will it be to say, that we thought or believed he had no right to it. Besides I can conceive the subject of a government to be so dependent, as to be entirely obedient to the absolute will & pleasure of that government– where he may be whipped, punished, hanged, without judge or jury: & yet in this deplorable situation, the right of property is left sacred. Witness o^u^r slaves in America; witness our slaves at home called soldiers. But no slavish or martial Code has yet pretended to take the money out of the pockets of its humble subjects without their consent:– That glorious stroke of policy was reserved for a British parliament.
You say our government had this absolute right I do not think so: or if they had, that they should not have had recourse ^to^ force, unless they were sure of gaining their ends that way. But this was in both cases impossible– for if they could not conquer them they lost all– & if they could reduce them, what would a country of slaves be worth to them. Or they could get, would-be places for menbutchers?, con tractors, comissaries &c &c wch. wd. ensure a majority in parliament & they troubled their heads no farther.– But when you come to Wisdom & sound policy you give all of these imaginary rights up– and now ^we^ are reconciled again & go hand in hand in every thing. Alas this is too good to last long. For I astonish you in thinking that our government wanted to make slaves of their colonies. There is the greatest lenity in our laws. And so there is in the French & Spanish laws over all their distant or conquered countries for very obvious reasons. I grant you that if the restrictions of trade had been removed &c the Americans not only ought but would chearfully have submitted to equal taxation– Not but you & I think they were much happier under those restrictions, than they would be in the latter case. Now you agree with me again that our governo^u^rs were errant fools through the whole transaction. But that plaguy Stamp Act sets us by the ears again– it was timidly repealed– I say wisely, nobly, like a generous people. Again we are friends – when repealed it ought to have been adhered to,– but you spoil all– with drudging on half a century– expending our very blood & vitals– & at last shaken off. The American trade & connection wch. was worth more than 4 millions per ann. to this nation– & still increasing seems to me to have a very contrary effect.– Then poor Boston comes in for a share of your vengeance with her tea riot– so wantonly cruel unjust– Don't be in so violent a passion! my good friend– I never pg 394saw you in one in my life. Edr. auld Reeky as she is was as guilty in 1738 as Boston in the tea tax– & yet I never saw any body angry at Edr. for it– altho' the transactions bear many strong marks of similarity.– I would only add to your fleet & army, to have had a cool legal tryal of the offenders, as was done a few years before in the case of Capt. Preston, who was honourably acquitted by a Bostonian jury,50 when charged with murdering many of their citizens in a riot like Porteus's.– Still you will borrow the blustering thrasonical51 tone of our wise governors– blood, fire, vengeance– at firs[t] wd. have prevented all these unhappy consequences.– Never, never– I fear my friend.
No don't blame them– this was all done from a merciful generous design, just my own generous principles & yours. I wish you could prove it: & that no Col. Grant52 had said in the house of Commons that the Americans were all poltroons & that he would drive them from one end of the continent to the other wth. 10 thousand men. Our ministry believed it– & many other lies sent them from different governours– hinc ista semper unitas.53 Nay all the subsequent starvation acts, in your worthy Ld. advocate's style,54 proceeded from nothing but pg 395stark love & kindness. Curse such kindness say the Americans. And even Ld. North's last motion– than wch. nothing could be more insidious, half kind, half generous– the worst of all kindness & generosity– so are the commisioners sent over & so must every thing be that proceeds from such shallow or ill-designing politicians.55
As to the progress of resistance in America– it may be as you say– but I look upon them to be as unanimous as any country ever was or can be: their late successes will compleat their unanimity– & the disunion in our concils established it.
As to the next subject you start, of the want of wisdom & policy in the American leaders, in starting at all or starting so soon– This will bring us back to our first dispute. You know they did not do it by choice, but necessity– they were driven to it. There was only one alternative, liberty or slavery. They have risqued all not to gain nothing, but to gain the most valuable treasure under heaven, without wch. every thing sublunary is of no value Liberty & the security of their property. As to their paying dear for it & groaning under their present heavy taxes– that is ^a^ price they must expect to pay for so valuable a possession. And they have purchased it at a much cheaper price, than any other country in the world. How can you say the spirit of liberty is extinguished? And appeal to fact– that were a man in America to write such a letter as mine his fate would be a dungeon or a gibbet.– Great allowances will be made by all wise men for the state of fermentation and temporary fury of a great nation struggling for its dearest rights. That will soon subside. But your intelligence is very different from mine. I have seen several unfortunate people who have been obliged to leave America and great property– that is they choose to do it rather than take up arms against their mother country. They ^say^ that 3 proposals, were made them, to take up arms, to be confined or to quit the country. And was not this unavoidable in such a situation. Oh my good friend you seem a stranger to the genius of America in the midst of so many facts & anecdotes, reported by partial incensed sufferers. Some time or other I hope you will live to see different facts that will yet justify in your candid eyes all these steps wch. now appear so criminal. I pass now to your last attack– the affront offered to the ancient kingdom of Scotland, by refusing her a pg 396militia. In the first place no militia was ever agreeable to the views of ministry. It was attempted 19 years ago, by the late Sir Gilbert Elliott56 then a patriot & opposed by all the scots ministerialists, particularly your present president Mr. Dundas of Arniston.57 I never will believe it was at bottom the plan of ministry altho' Ld. Mountstewart made the motion. In the 2nd. place you have gained by your loss. For the militia in England has been the utter destruction of the morals of our country people, by introducg them into towns & there initiating them in every vice & wickedness. Hence thefts, robberies & debauchery are diffused through the whole lower class of people.
Thank heavens I have now come to yourself– & find you clothed with all that open frankness & ^ready with that^ rational chit chat wch. was always to me most agreeable.– I have never seen Wetherspoon's sermon.58 I should like to see it much. I am sorry to find by the papers that he has lost a son in this unhappy contest. Make no apologies for your want of reading on the subject– for you advance everything that I have ever seen advanced– & were it not for the unlucky circumstance of being
being a Presbyterian & a man of moderate principles, you wd. stand a good chance of being made a bishop, if your political abilities were but known.– Our friend the honest Abbott Hamilton59 stands as good a pg 397chance– for he has America-phobia to as high a pitch as you have. Then he has a fine large portly jolly figure, that wd. fill the episcopal chair so well.– Good God! when such celestial souls as yours & his can cherish so much animosity, what must we think of your country at large. I declare I durst not set my foot in it, 'till this storm is passed, if ever. And yet a friend of mine at Edr. writes in a different strain.60 He says he often converses with the good Dr. Erskine61 who seems to understand American affairs better than any body there– & this good Doctor is totally averse to our present measures. Do tell me who else is there of the same sentiments, that I may know my friends in case I shd. ever come there– & acquaint a friend of mine an alumnus of Glasgow & of Hutcheson– a native of your Country– who has been out of Scotland these 34 years– & has been proposing to me to make a party thither next summer– but he is as violent ^an^ American & a much better master of the argument then I can pretend to be– & with all as honest worthy intelligent a soul as I know. I mean Dr. John Smith of Oxford.62– Poor Mr. Warner– no hopes of seeing him better! what a melancholy loss to his friends & country?
The hints you have given of the Milliken Family are interesting– I trust you will fulfill your promise– as I am favoured with very imperfect accts. of them– tho' my heart is attached to them by the strongest ties of gratitude & recollection of the many many, happy days I spent with them–
I was again in London, about 3 months ago– & the very day of my arrival passing by the exchange along wth. the gentleman who accompanied me to town, an odd sort of figure moved slowly before us– viz a man rather under the middle size, dress'd in a handsome black suit close button'd, with a large white wig, twisted in abt. a dozen paralel horizontal semicircular curls– crowned with a large broad brim'd hat, cocked in the top of the fashion about 20 years ago– We were both struck with the appearance– says my friend, this for a guinea is one of our non-con teachers: we quickened our pace to get a view of his countenance– When behold my surprize– in this grotesque figure I recognized every feature of our quondam friend Danl. Noble.63 I knew him– stopp'd pg 398him– catched hold of his right hand to the equal astonishment of my Bewdley & Glasgow friend. Hey! says I, Mr. Noble! Upon my word, says he, with the same harmless bashful countenance & hoarse sort of voice, you have the advantage of me. What! have you forgot your old friend K.? No, says he I never shall forget him.– When we had settled common salutations, my stay in town, & our next meeting at his house we took leave. Accordingly I waited upon him abt. 10 of the clock one morning. I was very civilly received by a decent elderly lady after I had told my name– accompanied with 2 plain dressed young women from 18 to 20 years of age. The lady was not long in opening her mind to me– & as her husband did not appear– told me the reason of it, that he was still in bed– owing to his sitting up at night so late at his studies– wch. she looked upon as a great grievance & inconvenience to his school. In about a quarter of an hour I was summoned up to his study: where he received ^me^ exactly in his Glasgow dress, a loose plod night gown– & his eyes scarcely open. He gave me a sketch of his life as I did to him of mine. He has taught school ever since he has been in London.
^How does Mr. Sherreff do? has he no commands to his old friends?^64
It was for many years in a very flourishing way having above 60 scholars & most of them boarders. To ease the burden he took in the master of another academy into partnership abt. 8 or 10 years ago, who turned out a vilain & traitor– by corrupting the
young minds & morals of his young disciples, & bringing the most odious of all disreputes upon the school. He did not discover this 'till it was almost too late– all his scholars going to leave him. He got rid however of this monster & took the sole management of it again into his own hands; having masters in every branch of art or science upon the most extensive plan.– He took me to his school, wch. appear'd quite full– where there were 2 or 3 masters instructing the little fraternity. Besides he preaches twice every week, viz on Saturday to his Sabbatarians & Sunday to what was formally one of the largest congregations in London– the late worthy Dr. Forster's65 if I could be not mistaken.– But he pg 399made a remark upon public preaching wch. surprised me not a little– namely that people of ^no^ education & from the lowest ranks of life were to his knowledge the best preachers & instructors of mankind. Even a butcher, who in most countries is as devoid of religion as of humanity, is one of their first hands. He said that people of this sort could enter more into the feelings & notions of the vulgar, & had a language adapted to their mutual ideas, wch. never could be acquired at College or by reflection. I mentioned the danger of error from ignorance being so nearly connected wth. prejudice, superstition & fanaticism. This he seemed to consider as of little or no weight as the great truths in religion & morality were obvious to all minds. And that artificial knowledge was more calculated
Feb.y 13 – 1778
to propagate & defend error & falsehood, than to establish truth.
Alas I had not the pleasure of seeing nor hearing my admird Theophilus Lindsay. His church had been pulled down & was rebuilding. It will soon be one of the best attended houses of public worship in London. Have you read his apology & the Sequel?66 Or the writings of another conscientious clergyman67 in this neighbourhood, at Tewksbury in Gloucestershire, who has resigned his living after standing a long contest with the Bishop (Warburton) in wch. he was supported by his parishioners. He addresses the Kg as supreme head of the church, to promote a farther reformation.68 This was published 3 or 4 years ago. He is not pleased with the last 12 Verses of Matt. says they are superstitious– ^I remember somebody's wishing the 3 first chapters 〈far enough〉– do you?^ Nay he is for excludg. this Evangelist all together. He has published a very spirited letter to Dr. pg 400Hurd on his late sermons on prophecy– where he has some curious remarks on that subject & upon miracles– but particularly on the prophecies of the Book of Revelation.69 His name is Evanson. There are 2 professors at Cambridge Jebb70 & Tyrwhitt,71 who have resigned their gowns on the same footing. On the other hand we have a multiplyg. sect called Methodists, who profess the most minute belief in the doctrinal parts of the articles, in the most rigid calvinistical sense– & who preach sing & pray morning noon & night, in private places. Few or no dissenters join them. They are protected by the countess of Huntington, who has established a school or College for their teachers– but most of the members are occasional preachers.72 Whitfield was I believe their founder. Well adieu complts. to Mrs. Wodrow your sisters & all friends.
- Yrs. afftely K