Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

get

the whole glass stores of the city could not make out anything like what you desired. I therefore did what I thought would be best, imagining you wanted the number you mentioned at any event, and that not being able to get them of that form, you would take them of any other. I therefore got 4 pint cans, IOS; 2 quart do. 8s; and six half-pint tumblers, 6s., all of double flint. So that there still remains in my hands £4 16s., Pennsylva currcy.

Your teckle is not yet come. It seems the man who had promised to sell it to the gentleman I employed to get it, now raises some difficulties either to

off others which he calls the set, or to enhance the price. However, the gentleman still expects it, and I am after him every day for it. Our galleys at New York have had a smart engagement with the men-of-war which went up the river ; it is believed the enemy suffered a good deal. The galleys are much injured, though we lost but two men. The commander writes us word he retired, that he might go and give them another drubbing, which in plain English meant, I suppose, that he was obliged to retire. Gen. Washington commends the behavior of the men much. They lay pretty close to the enemy, and two of the galleys were exposed to the broadside of their ships almost the whole time. The damage done them proves they were in a warm situation. Madison (of the college) and one Johnson, of Augusta, were coming passengers in the New York Packet; they were attacked by one of our armed vessels, and nothing but the intervention of night prevented the packet being taken. She is arrived at New York, and they permitted to come.

In a letter by them, we have intelligence that the French ministry is changed, the pacific men turned out, and those who are for war, with the Duke de Choiseul at their head, are taken in. We have also the king's speech on the prorogation of parliament, declaring he will see it out with us to the bitter end.

The South Carolina army with Clinton Sr., arrived at Staten Island last week, one of their transports, with 5 companies of Highlanders, having first fallen into General Lee's hands. They now make Lord Howe 12,000 strong.

With this force he is preparing to attack. He is embarking his cannon; has launched 8 galleys, and formed his men-of-war into line of battle. From these circumstances, it is believed the attack of New York will be within three or four days. They expect with the utmost confidence to carry it, and they consider our army but as a rude undisciplined rabble. I hope they will find it a Bunker's Hill rabble. Notwithstanding these appearances of attack, there are some who believe, and with appearance of reason, that these measures are taken by the enemy to secure themselves and not to attack us. A little time will shew. General Arnold (a fine sailor) has undertaken to command our feet on the lakes. The enemy are fortifying Oswego, and I believe our army there, when recovered from their sickness, will find they have lost a good campaign, though they have had no battle of moment.

My love to Mrs. Eppes. I hope my letter by last post got there time enough to stay Patty with her a while longer. Adieu.

[blocks in formation]

PHILADELPHIA. Aug 13. 1776. Dear Sir,—Your's of Aug. 3. came to hand yesterday; having had no moment to spare since, I am obliged to set down to answer it at a Committee table while the Committee is collecting. My thoughts therefore on the subject you propose will be merely extempore. The opinion that our lands were allodial possessions is one which I have very long held, and had in my eye during a pretty considerable part of my law reading which I found always strengthened it. It was mentioned in a very hasty production, intended to have been put under a course of severe correction, but produced afterwards to the world in a way with which you are acquainted. This opinion I have thought & still think to prove I should have time to look into books again. But this is only meant with respect to the English law as transplanted here. How far our acts of assembly or acceptance of grants may have converted lands which were allodial into feuds I have never considered. This matter is now become a mere speculative

if ever

1

* From a copy courteously furnished by Dr. J. S. H. Fogg, of Boston. It was purchased by him in the papers of John Taylor of Caroline, but was probably written to Edmund Pendleton, whose papers passed into Taylor's hands.

as a tenure.

point; & we have it in our power to make it what it ought to be for the public good.

It may be considered in the two points of view ist. as bringing a revenue into the public treasury. 2d.

I have only time to suggest hints on each of these heads. 1. Is it consistent with good policy or free government to establish a perpetual revenue ? is it not against the practice of our wise British ancestors ? have not the instances in which we have departed from this in Virginia been constantly condemned by the universal voice of our country? is it safe to make the governing power when once seated in office, independent of it's revenue ? should we not have in contemplation & prepare for an event (however deprecated) which may happen in the possibility of things; I mean a reacknowledgment of the British tyrant as our king, & previously strip him of every prejudicial possession ? Remember how universally the people run into the idea of recalling Charles the ad after living many years under a republican government.—As to the second was not the separation of the property from the perpetual use of lands a mere fiction ? Is not it's history well known, & the purposes for which it was introduced, to wit, the establishment of a military system of defence ?

Was it not afterwards made an engine of immense oppression ? Is it wanting with us for the purpose of military defence ? May not it's other legal effects (such of them at least as are valuable) be performed in other more simple ways ? Has it not been the

practice of all other nations to hold their lands as their personal estate in absolute dominion ? Are we not the better for what we have hitherto abolished of the feudal system ? Has not every restitution of the antient Saxon laws had happy effects ? Is it not better now that we return at once into that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest & most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man, as it stood before the 8th century.

The idea of Congress selling out unlocated lands has been sometimes dropped, but we have alwais met the hint with such determined opposition that I believe it will never be proposed.—I am against selling the lands at all. The people who will migrate to the Westward whether they form part of the old, or of a new colony will be subject to their proportion of the Continental debt then unpaid. They ought not to be subject to more. They will be a people little able to pay taxes. There is no equity in fixing upon them the whole burthen of this war, or any other proportion than we bear ourselves. By selling the lands to them, you will disgust them, and cause an avulsion of them from the common union. They will settle the lands in spite of everybody.—I am at the same time clear that they should be appropriated in small quantities. It is said that wealthy foreigners will come in great numbers, & they ought to pay for the liberty we shall have provided for them. True, but make them pay in settlers.

in settlers. A foreigner who brings a settler for every 100, or 200 acres of land to be granted him pays a better price than if he had put into the

« PředchozíPokračovat »