My latest article for The Culture Trip discusses the history of The Tate. I felt a bit odd writing this, as the day I started writing I discovered I been unsuccesful in applying for an internship there. Oh well!
This is, to my knowledge, the only copy of the final in a series of four articles which appeared in the London Public Ledger over the summer of 1765, and which were responded to by Samuel Adams and James Otis Jr the following year in the American papers. I cannot be sure that all the capitalisations are correct, as I wrote this for my own use: squinting over and over again at a terrible scanned copy online is not good for one’s eyes whilst attempting to write a commentary:
Having in the course of my late letters relative to the colonies, pointed out what I thought culpable in their conduct; as well as what I look’d upon to be injudicious in our own I shall now conclude the subject with a general observation or two, relative to the absolute necessity of giving them a proper number of representative in the British Parliament; as I am really of the opinion that nothing but the general abolition of their assembles can possibly secure their dependence; or render them of any material consequence to the Mother-Country.
The gentlemen who have the ascendency in the colonies are, as in every other country, those who have the greatest fortunes, but with this difference, this essential difference, that being unused to constraint, and unacquainted with reprehension, they are naturally haughty and overbearing and having perhaps six or seven hundred miserable wretches on whom they can exercise the most unlimited fullness of insolence and brutality, they become callous to the nicer feelings of humanity, as well as insensible to the proper regulations of government; and are every whit as dangerous in their public character as Citizens, as we find them uncontrollable in their private capacity as Men. Notwithstanding the number of imaginary hardships which they are continually murmuring at; and notwithstanding the few inconveniences which they really feel, we are very sensible that the principal number of them are every day increasing in opulence ; and know also that this opulence every day adds to the inherent pride and turbulence of their tempers. If a proof is necessary for this character, let us only look to the colonies of Jamaica and Virginia; here we see the first are claiming privileges superior even to the representatives of Great Britain; and there we find the latter carrying matters to a still greater length, and absolutely disowning our power and defying our authority. – If we suffer these matters any longer to go on, the mutual haughtiness of the colonies may occasion the strictest engagements of a mutual confidence; and they may possibly unite as one people to shake off the obedience which they owe to that Mother-Country whom they now so plausibly represent as a general enemy to them all.
To prevent the fatal consequences therefore which may, nay which must in all human probability inevitably proceed from lodging anything like a legislative power in such dangerous hands; let us at once indulge them with the same privileges, which we ourselves enjoy, and which they seem to consider with so great a degree of an envying admiration. The moment they share every one of our advantages they cannot scruple to participate in every one of our distresses; and ‘tis to be hoped, that as their own interests will then be more immediately connected with ours , they will shew a little more sensibility, than they have hitherto manifested about our national burdens; though they themselves have been the principal occasion of laying those burdens on.
The great difficulty to be apprehended in this extended alteration of their government, is, that they will require a much more considerable number of representatives, than it can be for the security of the Mother-Country to allow. But this is a point which must be very carefully attended to by the people of this kingdom. The gentlemen of our colonies have already no contemptible influence in the British Parliament; and in proportion as they advance in opulence, we may naturally expect to find this influence increased. They are continually coming over, and without purchasing any property amongst us, they smuggle themselves into the House of Commons, and in a manner dictate laws to the Mother-Country, tho they are to the last degree offended where the Mother-Country presumes to take such a liberty with themselves; Hence it is, Mr Printer, that we find an additional duty laid upon the unfortunate Porter Butt, while the rum puncheon remains firm from any fresh taxation; and hence it is that we pay four shillings in the pound for our corn fields, while nothing in the least adequate is placed upon those happier shores which gives birth to the sugar cane.
These circumstances, therefore, must oblige every well-wisher to Old England, if such a coalition between us and the Colonies should take place, to be very parsimonious in the number of representatives which may be allowed them in the British Parliament. The more formidable they are at present in that August Assembly, the more cautious we must be in multiplying them, unless we make, an absolute stipulation, that no native of the colonies whatsoever shall be entitle to a seat, but he who is immediately appointed to represent some part of America. If the Mother-Country, to the numbers which even at this time have a voice in our legislature, should injudiciously add anything of a considerable list from the colonies, She will go a long way towards destroying her own happiness: She will, in all probability, furnish them with the means of getting a majority in a little time; and put it perhaps in their power to remove the seat of empire to the inhospitable banks of the Oronoque, or the Ohio, from the delightful borders of the Thames.
I have scarce conversed with any person of understanding on this subject, who has not expressed the strongest apprehension about the independence of the colonies. Almost everybody I have talked to has declared how, in another century, ‘twill be more than probable that our posterity will be broiling on the sands of America, and receiving laws from the very people whom their ancestors established with such a profusion of treasure, and such a deluge of blood. Some tawny descendent of an African Negro may, perhaps, be invested with the administration of justice; and some free born Englishman may be dragged before a jury of mulattoes, as ignorant of humanity as justice, and equally unacquainted with the principles of Liberty and Law. In order to prevent the likelihood of such a melancholy circumstance, let us take care to keep the power where it undoubtedly ought to rest in our own hands. We have in a manner created the colonies and have a right therefore to give them laws. They are our children, ‘tis true; yet they ought to be treated as aliens to our blood; whenever they wish to be independent of that parent, who has given them not only their existence, but every blessing which they have enjoyed since that existence was conferred. For these reasons then, if we should judge it expedient to make them British Subjects, in every different sense of the word, let us allow them such a number of Representatives, as will be able to advise without presuming to dictate such a number as may elucidate our Arguments, without restraining the freedom of our resolutions; and not a single individual more than may be necessary to point out their interests; for fear such an indulgence should be prejudicial to our own. They can depend with more safety on our justice, than we can rely upon their gratitude; and we only furnish them with a temptation to shake off their duty, if we ever trust an occasion in their hands.