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will promise to suffer yourself to be wronged of more money than the wrong you have sustained amounts to ?
Suppose that the doctrine of taxation, which is the remote cause of our divisions, admits of some objections, as the plainest doctrines always do, (for the brightest clouds have their obscure side, and the most shining diamonds cast a faint shade,) yet the immediate cause of the American war, the refusing to make restitution for goods feloniously destroyed, has no shadow of difficulty. Whoever is honest enough to disapprove the malicious destruction of an innocent man's property, whoever is conscientious enough, to praise the steadiness of a government, which stands by oppressed subjects, whom it is bound to protect, and whoever is so far a lover of order, as to blame a wanton opposition to the sovereign when he discharges liis duty, must confess that the guilt of " cutting throats” in America, is properly caused by the obstinate injustice of the American patriots, and not by the moderate taxes laid by the British legislature. To assert the contrary, is almost as great a mistake in politics, as it is in divinity to hint, that the miseries consequent upon man's fall, were not properly caused by the tempter's artful misrepresentations, and by Adam's wilful rebellion ; but by God's reason able demand of a little proof of Adam's loyalty.
And now, Sir, if I have duly confirmed my proofs, that the doctrine of taxation which you oppose, is just in every point of view; if I have shown that you con. found loyal subjection with abject slavery ; if I have demonstrated that your notions concerning the supreme power of the people are subversive of all government ; and if I have made appear, that you do not fix the charge of wantonly “ cutting throats” upon those who are properly guilty of that atrocious crime, may I not call upon your rational and moral feelings to decide, if I have not vindicated my Vindication ?
And are you not as precipitate, when you pronounce me “one of the most unmeaning and unfair disputants, that ever took * up the polemical gauntlet,” as when you insinuate that the British legislature ~ commits robbery,” because it
lays a moderate tax upon those who have long basked in the beams of its protection, and have acquired im. mense wealth under the guardian shadow of its flags and standards ?
Hoping that no controversial heat will make us forget that we are fellow-creatures, fellow-subjects, fellow-protestants, and fellow-labourers in the Gospel of Truth and Love; I ask a part in your esteem, equal to that which, notwith anding your heats and mistakes, you have in the cordial respect of, Rev. Sir, Your affectionate Brother, and obedient Servant,
Dr. F'rice's Politics are shewn to be as irrational, un
scriptural, and unconstitutional as those of Mr. Evans. -His principal arguments are retorted. The foundation of his capital Error is sapped.- The Legisla. tive Freedom of the Members of the House of Commons is asserted, in opposition to the Legislative Pretensions of Plebeian Levellers.—The Partiality and Inconsistency of the London Patriots are pointed out.
-On Dr. Price's Levelling Principles, there is an end of all Subjection both on Earth and in heaven. A conditional Reproof to Mr. Evans and Doctor Price.
If I have answered you in the preceding letters, I may look your Second in the face : I mean the ingenious Dr. Price, whom you call to your help in your notes, and whose arguments you introduce by this high enco. mium_“ Dr. Price's most excellent pamphlet, just published, carries conviction in every page, and breathes that noble spirit of liberty, for which the author so ably pleads !”
Page 46, Your first quotation from him runs thus :“ In the 6th of George II, an act passed for imposing certain duties on all foreign spirits, and sugars imported into the Plantations. In this act the duties imposed are said to be given and granted by the parliament to the King, &c., and a small direct revenue was drawn by it from them.” The Doctor intimates soon after, that " this revenue-act was at worst only the exercise of a power, which then they (the Colonists] seem not to have thought much of contesting : I mean the power of taxing them externally.” I thank Dr. Price and you, Sir, for thus granting that the Colonists were taxed before the present parliament and the present reign. This shews that the odium cast upon the present government, springs more from prejudice than from reason. If George II, his whig ministry, and his approved parliament, raised a“ direct revenue,” by taxing the Colonies, why do the American patriots insinuate that George III, the present ministry, and the present parliament, are robbers, because they raise a direct revenue by taxing the Colonists ? And how strangely does Dr. Price forget himself, where
“ How great would be our happiness, could we now recal former times, and return to the policy of the last reigns !” What have our law-givers done after all ? Truly, they have recalled former times, and returned to the policy of the last reigns ;' and yet Dr. Price, instead of being thankful for our happiness, frightens the public with the most dreadful hints about the infatuation of our governors, and the danger of “ general wreck;" just as if his grand business was to spirit up the Colonists, and to deject his own coun. trymen.
The Doctor, it is true, tries to obviate this difficulty by making a distinction between external and internal taxes; insinuating that in the late reign the Colonists were taxed externally, whereas in the present reign they have been taxed internally. But if this distinction be frivolous, will it reflect any praise on your patriotism ? And that it is such, 1 prove by the following argument : -A distinction about taxation, which has no founda
tion in Reason, Scripture, or the Constitution, is frivolous : But Dr. Price's distinction has no foundation in Reason, Scripture, or the Constitution ; and therefore it is frivolous in the present controversy. contest the second proposition of this syllogism, I ask-By what dictates of reason does it appear, that if taxes are due from subjects to their sovereign, they may not be levied internally, by rates upon the goods we already possess, as well as externally, by duties upon goods imported, which purchase has not yet made our own? Where does St. Paul charge Christians to pay taxes, if they are externally taxed ; and to fly to arms if they are taxed internally ? Did not Christ speak of internal taxes, when he commanded the Jews to render to Cæsar what was his ? And is there any law, either of God or of the realm, which allows the legislative power to tax the subjects of Great Britain externally, and precludes it from taxing them internally ?
The Doctor's distinction is not only unscriptural and unconstitutional, but unreasonable ; in as much as it would, in a great degree, enable subjects to avoid paying taxes at all. Suppose, for example, we could be taxed only externally, by means of duties laid upon imported goods, such as tea, coffee, foreign wines, and rum ; might we not, if I may so speak, starve the government, by drinking only sage, or balm-tea, ale, made-wines, and spirits distilled from our own wheat ?–The Doctor's distinction is not only unreasonable, but unjust. Why should the Colonies enjoy greater privileges than the mother-country? Why should Britons be taxed externally and internally, whether they have votes or not, and the Americans only externally; when both have their property internally and externally guarded by the protective power ? If I owed my lawyer reasonable fees, amounting to ten pounds, what would you think of my honesty, if I said to him, Sir, I give you leave to pay yourself by demanding a shilling from me, every time I drink a glass of claret or a dish of chocolate : But I declare to you, that, except in such cases, I will take
property ?- The Doctor's distinction is not only unjust: in the present case, but it might prove destructive to the Commonwealth. It is granted on all sides, that taxes and money are the sinews of the government. If external taxes did not bring in money enough to discharge the necessary expences of the state ; and if the sove. reign could not lay internal taxes to supply that deficiency, what would become of the kingdom ? Must it not fall a wanton sacrifice to Dr. Price's political refinements ? I hope, Sir, that if you weigh these observa. tions, you will own that his book, ingenious as it is, far from “ carrying conviction in every page,” carries frivo. lousness and mischievous absurdity in the very first quotation, which you produce from him.
And we may well suppose, you did not pick out his weakest argu. ment, to support the praises which you bestow on his 66 most excellent pamphlet.”
But let us hear him out. You continue, p. 47, to quote him thus : “ The Stamp-act was passed. This being an attempt to tax them internally ; and a direct attack on their property, by a power which would not suffer itself to be questioned; which eased itself by loading them; and to which it was impossible to fix any bounds, they were thrown at once, from one end of the Continent to the other, into resistance and rage.” This sounds well to the ear; but judicious patriots, who expect to find the kernel of truth under the specious shell of fine words, may be a little disappointed. Permit me, Sir, to break the shell, and to see if the kernel be sound.
1. An attempt to tax subjects internally is a direct attack on their property! And what if it be? When reasonable taxes are due, may they not be directly de. manded? And that they are due, do you not grant, p. 27, where you so much resent my supposing, that you deny “the necessity of subjects paying taxes,” whether they be external or internal ?—(2.) The legislative power of Great Britain would not suffer itself to be questioned ! The Doctor should have said, that it would not suffer itself to be deprived of its right of de