Common Sense, British Edition

Of the Present Ability of America, with Some Miscellaneous Reflexions

Page 37

COMMON SENSE.                              37
to continued insults with the patience of a coward. The
more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture.
The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly
power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.

Youth is the seed time of good habits, as well in nations
as in individuals. It might be difficult, if not impossible,
to form the continent into one government half a century
hence. The vast variety of interests, occasioned by an in-
crease of trade and population, would create confusion. Co-
lony would be against colony. Each being able might scorn
each other's assistance: and while the proud and foolish glo-
ried in their little distinctions, the wise would lament, that
the union had not been formed before. Wherefore, the pre-
time is the true time for establishing it. The intimacy
which is contracted in infancy, and the friendship which is
formed in misfortune, are of all others the most lasting and
unalterable. Our prefent union is marked with both these
characters: we are young, and we have been distressed ; but
our concord hath withstood our troubles, and fixes a memor-
able aera for posterity to glory in.

The present time likewise is that peculiar time, which
never happens to a nation but once, viz. the time of forming
itself into a government. Most nations have let slip the op-
portunity, and by that means have been compelled to receive
laws from their conquerors, instead of making laws for them-
selves. First, they had a king, and then a form of govern-
ment ; whereas, the articles or charter of government,
should be formed first, and men delegated to exeucute them
afterwards : but from the errors of other nations, let us learn
wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity—-To begin
government at the right end.

When William the Conqueror subdued England, he gave
them law at the point of the sword; and until we consent,
that the seat of government, in America, be legally and au-
thoritatively occupied, we shall be in danger of having it
filled by some fortunate ruffian, who may treat us in the same
manner, and then where will be our freedom ? where our
property ?

As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensible duty of all
government, to protect, all conscientious professors thereof,
and I know of no other business which government hath to



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