Je suis toujours pour les persecutés.





I TAKE the earliest opportunity of letting you know, how much I have suffered by the perusal of your travels, and I think it necessary to make this declaration public. I have a very cogent reason for so doing. They, in many places, contain errors, and, I will venture to say, a poison, which, under your name, will have a rapid circulation; and to which we cannot be too hasty in applying an antidote.

A poison! You may start at the expression; but I can neither suppress or soften it, as it is so precisely characteristic of your opinions respecting the Quakers, the Negroes, and the People.

In vilifying the Quakers, you may prevent the good effects of their pious example. In refusing the name of men to the Negroes, you give your sanction to the treating them like beasts of burthen, if not to the spilling of their blood; and you hinder the effects of that philosophical commotion, which will no doubt procure their general emancipation. In making the People contemptible, you invite their oppressors to rivet their chains. These are matters of great [Page 2] importance.—They will justify me to the pub­lic, for having taken up my pen in so precipitate a manner; they will justify me, even in your eyes, for having used it against yourself: your reason will undoubtedly plead for me, in opposition to your feel­ings, and you will pardon me for having published truths, perhaps disagreeable ones for you, when I shall have convinced you, that they are of public uti­lity, and not to be suppressed. Amicus Plato sed magis ami [...]a veritas. This should be the motto of every writer who has really the public good at heart.

I do not mean, in this place, to criticise your book throughout.—Let the journalists point out the beau­ties of your stile.—My business is to obviate the mis­chievous tendency of your work, without paying any attention to the elegance of the language. I should, indeed, have been better pleased, if you had not shewn so much uneasiness about getting a bad supper, or so muc h pleasure from having made a good one; and could have dispensed with the exact detail you have given us of every dish; for it is not the journal of an Apicius, but that of a philosopher and states­man which we expect to read, when we see the name of the author of La Felicité Publique * in the title page.—I should have been better pleased if your observations had not been confined to taverns, and if you had not sacrificed our American friends to the pleasure of making jests.—Alas! what will be the opinion of those whom you have thus offended, when they read your book—and how can we expect a friendly reception from them, when they find their secrets betrayed, and the unreserved effusions of the heart ridiculed by a man decorated with so many ti­tles? What confidence will they now place in an ob­scure Frenchman? On his first approach, the Ame­can will exclaim—are you also come to spy out our follies, and publish them to Europe?

[Page 3]It would have been satisfactory to have seen more penetration in your enquiries concerning the effects of the different political constitutions of America.— I could have wished for some account of the number of criminals; of the crimes which are most frequent; of the difference of morals in the cities, in the coun­try, and in the newly settled parts; of the state of the finances, &c. and I should also have been better pleased, if, instead of railing at democracies, you had summed up grievances and well attested facts.— But this is not a proper place for the discussion of these interesting subjects.

The principal charges, I bring against you, may be reduced to three:

I. You have calumniated and ridiculed the respect­able sect of Quakers.

II. You have vilified the Negroes.

III. You have vilified Mankind and the People.

These are the three general charges against you, which I now lay before the tribunal of the Public.— After having discussed them, I shall add some reflec­tions on several other subjects you have treated of, which appear to me equally susceptible of censure.

In making this examination, I shall, first of all, quote your opinions and assertions, and then endea­vour to refute them.

I begin with the article concerning the Quakers.


‘Instead of their company, we had that of Mr. Benezet, an old Quaker, whose short stature, and low, mean figure, formed a perfect contrast to Mr. Pendleton's. This Mr. Benezet may be looked on rather as a model of what the Quakers ought to be than as a specimen of what they are.—As his only object was the good of others, his charity and generosity made him greatly respected in those more happy times, when a citizen derived all his honor from his virtues. Now the din of arms has drowned the sighs of charity, and the love of our [Page 4] fellow creatures yields to patriotism. Yet Mr. Bene­zet still continues in the practice of doing good. He came to get some information from me, on the means lately found out in France, of restoring drowned per­sons to life. I promised, not only to send him an account of the methods used in those cases, when I returned to Newport, but also to procure him one of the boxes which our government has ordered to be placed at every sea-port town. We soon got bet­ter acquainted; and, speaking of the misfortunes of war, he said to me,—My Friend, I know thou art a man of letters, and a member of the French academy. Several good things have lately been writen by men of letters; they have attacked errors and prejudices, and especially intolerance: Will not they try to give men a distaste for war, and make them live to­gether like friends and brethren? Thou art right, said I, in expecting something from the progress of philosophical knowledge. Several active hands are now at work upon the great edifice of public good; but it will be to no purpose for them to finish any part of it, while the foundation is wanting, and this foundation is, as thou hast said, a general peace. As to intolerance and persecution, it is true, that those two enemies of mankind are not yet suf­ficiently chained down; but let me whisper a word in thy ear, the full meaning of which thou wilt not perhaps comprehend, though thou art well ac­quainted with the French language. They are no longer fashionable; and, I should even think, they were nearly out of date, were it not for some little matters thou art unacquainted with: which is, that those who attack them are sometimes imprisoned, while their defenders are rewarded with livings of an hundred thousand livres a year. An hundred thousand livres a year! cries Benezet, why, with that they might build hospitals, and set up manu­factories; and, to be sure, that's what they do with their money. No, my friend, said I, persecution must be paid for; and yet, I must say, the pay is [Page 5] but mean, and the highest price given by the richest persecutor, is no more than one thousand, or twelve hundred livres a year, to some satirical poets, or writers of journals, who are enemies to lite­rature, and whose works are much read, tho' they have but a dull sale. Friend, says the Quaker to me, this persecution is a strange thing; I can hard­ly believe what has happened to myself. My fa­ther was a Frenchman born, and so am I. It is now about sixty years since he was obliged to seek an asylum in England, carrying with him his chil­dren, the only treasures which he could save in his misfortunes. Justice, or what is called so in thy country, had him hung in effigy, because he ex­plained the Gospel in a different way from your priests. The English clergy gave my father but lit­tle more satisfaction, so that he wished to get away from all hierarchy, and came to settle in this coun­try, where I have lived very happily until the breaking out of the war. I have long since forgot­ten all the persecutions my family have undergone. I love thy nation, because it is a mild and a feeling one; and for thee, my friend, I know thou dost every thing in thy power to serve thy fellow creatures. When thou returnest to Europe, get thy brethren to assist thee:—and let me now recom­mend our friends in Rhode-Island to thy attention. He then named all the Quakers who live in that state, and are pretty numerous; and recommended them to my care. At parting, he asked leave to send me some pamphlets of his own manufacturing, written chiefly in defence of his sect. I assured him, it would give me great pleasure to read them; and he did not fail to send them next morning.’

‘Of whatever sect a man, glowing with zeal and love for his fellow creatures, may be, he is most undoubtedly a respectable being; but, I confess, I cannot bestow on this sect in general, the esteem which some individuals of it are entitled to. The law, which many of them follow, of not saying [Page 6] you, nor sir, is far from giving them an air of plainness or candor. It is perhaps to make up for this clown­ishness, that they often speak in a whining, insinuat­ing tone, which is perfectly jesuitical. Their con­duct too, is quite of a piece with their language. Concealing their indifference for the public good, un­der the appearance of religion, they are sparing of blood, it is true, and especially of their own; they are mere sharpers at cheating both parties out of their money, and that without a blush, or the least regard to what may be thought of them. It is a received maxim in trade, that they are not to be trusted. This opinion is a just one, and time will more and more shew the propriety of it.’

‘Indeed, nothing can be more dangerous than en­thusiasm in its decline; for hypocrisy is the only substitute that can be found for it. This monster, so well known in Europe, gains but too much ground in every religious sect.’

‘On Sunday, the 10th, I determined to take a turn thro' the churches, and study the different modes of wor­ship. Unfortunately for me, the several sects, who agree in nothing else, have fixed on the same hour for assembling their congregations; so that I could only go to the Quaker's meeting-house in the morning, and to the church of England in the afternoon. The Qua­ker's meeting is a square room, in every part of which, and parallel to the four walls, are benches and desks, so that they sit opposite to one another; without altar or pulpit to fix their attention. When they are met, some one of their elders makes an ex­tempore prayer, just what comes into his head; they are then silent, 'till some man or woman is inspired, and gets up to speak. Travellers must be believed on their words, let the account they give be ever so extraordinary. Like Ariosto, I shall relate pro­digies —dirò maraviglia. It is nevertheless true, that a woman held her tongue just as I came in. A man took her place, and spoke like a blockhead on in­ternal grace, the illumination of the Spirit, and all the [Page 7] other tenets of his sect, which he had over and over again, without attempting to explain any thing. He at length got to the end of his sermon, to the great joy of his brethren and sisters, who all appeared absent and tired out. After seven or eight minutes silence, an old man got on his knees, and retailed us out of a very insipid prayer, after which they broke up the meeting.’

‘On leaving this gloomy and clownish meeting, the service of the church of England, with the music and ornaments, seemed like an opera. An handsome pulpit, placed before a fine organ, a well-dressed minister in the pulpit, reading, speaking, and sing­ing, with a grace perfectly theatrical; the young women, from the pit and boxes, joining him with their melodious voices; a soft and agreeable singing, interrupted by some excellent airs on the organ; all this, compared to the worship of the Quakers, Ana­baptists, and Presbyterians, seemed rather a little Para­dise, than the road to Paradise. However, by reflecting on so many different sects, some of whom are rigid, and some trifling, but every one imperious and narrow, one is lead to believe, that all mankind read the great book of nature, as * Montauciel read his own; where, for "vous etes un blanc bee"—he always read, "trompette blessée." It is a thousand to one that he guesses the meaning of a single line, as he cannot even spell; but should such an one come to you for assistance, give him none. You had better leave him to enjoy his mistake, than cut one another's throats.’

This is the most violent attack in your travels a­gainst the Quakers. In other parts you have several things against them, but none worth mentioning.

Before entering into the particulars which the ex­amination [Page 8] of your satire requires, I shall make bold to ask you, Sir, what facts, books, or men, have authorised you to condemn this sect so hastily? Have you known a great number, or the generality of Quakers? Have you lived a long time in habits of in­timacy with them? Can you form a judgment of them all, and know the worth of the whole society, from having been at one or two of their meetings? or from having conversed with one or two of them in a hasty manner? or from having been introduced to one who did not think fit to look at you? When you went into that religious meeting, where you formed a judgment of the discourse, or prayer which you heard, were you in a proper state of mind for the sincere investigation of truth? Had you no prejudices against the Quakers? and your theatrical knowledge too, which brought ridicule into your head, this ridi­cule which is so powerful an argument for a French Man; did not this same knowledge spread a veil over your mind—Have you not been prejudiced against the Quakers by Voltaire, who has by turns, praised them and endeavoured to make them appear ridiculous, though he knew but little of them? And indeed, who would not at first sight, regard your testimony as suspicious, and your judgment as partial, on con­sidering your moral and religious opinions, your cha­racter of academician, soldier and man of quality, that three fold character, which this society so justly detest.

And why have you, in forming a judgment of them, abandoned those principles by which our judg­ment should ever be directed—We have no right to censure any one, unless we have either ourselves de­tected him violating the laws of honour and probity, or upon the authentic and impartial testimony of others on his crime. Vague reports ought never to have any weight.

To condemn a whole body of men at once, a soci­ety of long standing, to accuse them of cheating, of selfishness, and hypocrisy, requires a series of well [Page 9] attested facts, the truth of which is of the greater consequence, as the charges are serious, and involve so many people in them.

Thus, should any one charge the Catholics with hav­ing been persecutors, they might prove it by their Autos­da-fé, their inquisition, Saint Bartholomew's day, the Irish massacre, &c. To prove that the Puritans of former times were persecutors, we need only men­tion the tragical scenes which were acted during the revolution of 1650 in England, and the persecutions they excited in the new world.—To prove the ambi­tious, intriguing and persecuting spirit of the Jesuits, we have only to refer to their unceasing manoeuvres in England and France, the destruction of Port-Roy­al, and the many lettres de cachet, which they have made use of to destroy, in secret prisons, a crowd of victims, whose only fault was a different way of thinking—These are facts well attested.

But have you, Sir, any such facts to allege against the Quakers? not a single one—So far from that, you produce none but what are in their favour—For I shall now and then have the satisfaction of making use of your own words to refute you.

But it is because you bring no positive charge of any crime against the Quakers; it is because you judge them only by hear-say and vague reports, that I conclude you have no proof of the vices and crimes you reproach them with; and that your judgment of them is unjust.

I will not, however, confine myself to this general method of reasoning, but will follow you step by step— I believe your reflections on the Quakers may be re­duced to three principle heads; they affect

Either their moral and private conduct,

Their religious tenets,

Or their civil principles—

I shall now proceed to shew how unjustly you have treated them in these three different respects.


I have been acquainted with many Quakers in Lon­don [Page 10] —I have endeavoured to become acquainted with their principles, and have looked on it as my duty to pay them the following public tribute of esteem, in a work,* written at a time when I wished to serve my countrymen, by giving them a faithful account of that Island, which deserves our imitation, rather than our jealousy; in a work, wherein, as a writer of a foreign journal has well observed, my design was to intro­duce good principles in an English dress.

‘Simplicity, candor and honesty, characterized their words and actions; they were not full of pro­fessions, but sincere; they were not polished, but hu­mane; they had no wit—none of that wit so essential in France, and which there supplies the place of eve­ry thing else; but they possessed good sense, sound judgments, upright hearts and honest souls; in a word, if I were to seek for society, it should be a­mongst the Quakers; if I sought for amusement, I would have recourse to my own countrymen—And their women too, I shall be asked, what can be said of them? They are just what women should be eve­ry where, faithful to their husbands, affectionate to their children, careful and frugal in their domestic economy, plain in their dress, § and above all, they are neither solicitous to please any other individu­al, nor to attract the public attention. As they make no outward shew, they pay a greater regard to the cultivation of their minds—This simplicity of manners is yet observable in some other coun­tries; the Arabs, for example, even now, follow [Page 11] the same wandering lives as the first Patriarchs. It cannot be too often repeated, that such manners as these are productive of domestic economy, the hap­piness of families, and public virtues—But we have renounced them, diseased unhappy wretches as we are, with all our civilization and politeness—And yet what man amongst us is happy, but he who has the courage to live as nature directs, as the good of past ages have lived, who are so politely ridiculed by the wits of the present day—Si ad naturam vives, says Seneca, nunquam eris pauper, si ad opinionem nunquam dives—If thy life is regulated by nature, says Seneca, thou wilt never be poor, if by the opi­nions of others, thou wilt never be rich.’

I have not the presumption to suppose that my single testimony will be preferred to yours—But how many others See l' Historie de l' Establissement des Europiens dans les Indes, at the article Pennsylvania. See also the translation of the Pennsylvania Farmer's letters to the in­habitants of North-America; an excellent work (of a different nature from St. John de Crevecoeur's) which was published the beginning of the troubles in America by Mr. Dickinson, who was a principal character in the revolution, and lately President of the Council of Pennsylvania. We owe the translation of this work to the celebrated Turgot, who had a high opinion of it: It was published at Paris in 1769, and although it contained many important political truths, yet no impression was made by it. See further on this subject, the following works. A small Pamphlet by Anthony Benezet, on the settlement of the Qua­kers in America. A Sermon preached by Dr. Priestly, on the abolition of the Slave trade. Several of the articles in Voltaire's Questions on the Encyclopedia. Some considerations on the Test-Law of Pennsylvania, by an Author of great merit, who is no Quaker. could I bring in support of my own. I shall select one, which is striking and de­cisive; it is that of the sentimental author of the American farmer's letters—You as well as myself, are personally acquainted with him, and you know too, that his candor, goodness of heart, and dispositi­on, entitle him to our confidence; I am united to him by the tenderest ties of friendship, and a great similarity of sentiment; but, I mean not to be sway­ed by friendship, while I am considering the weight [Page 12] which is due to his testimony. He lived for a long time in America, and lived with Quakers; he has been intimate with them, has attended to, and ma­turely considered their behaviour in civil life, and his opinion of them is wholly different from yours— With what warmth does he praise the simple and cor­dial hospitality he met with in their houses, and the peace and happiness which reigned there—"Every thing there is done in silence, and with cheerfulness" How does he praise the good sense, the sagacity, the temperance, the softness and the education of their women. ‘They are generally, says he, shining without being showy, solid without pedantry, the enemies of levity, trifles and affectation; from rea­ding good books in their early youth, their conver­sation is more interesting than is often met with, and they acquire a foundation of solid learning, which has often surprised me—They are remarka­ble, not only for the simplicity of their dress, but also for the extreme neatness of their houses, and of every thing about them—Silence and modesty, a peculiar manner of ordering their servants and in­feriors, an uniform, tranquil behaviour, seem to con­stitute the general character of these good people.’

And who has not read his interesting visit to the botanist Bartram, the affecting anecdote of the eman­cipation of Warner Mifflin's Negro, and the account of his bold errand to general Howe? who has not eagerly seized on all those recitals which paint so well the very soul of the Quakers, and lay open their principles to us? What reader so frozen-hearted as not to be moved, affected, transported into America, in raptures with the patriarchal life? What reader but will indulge himself in these delightful reveries, and wish to become, like them, good, simple, and the child of nature? What reader, in a word, but has felt himself inclined to respect them as the most mo­ral, edifying and pious, of all religious sects?

[Page 13]And you, Sir, wish to destroy this enchantment— By your silence you contradict all I have said. Cruel man! If it was an illusion, how could you wish to un­deceive us? It was dear to us, as it served to in­crease the consolation of the good, and the remorse of the wicked—But no, it is no illusion—they are truths, they are facts, which you are combating; you who have seen America only in her camps, amidst the din of arms, and in one of those violent revolutions, where man, thrown out of his sphere, is no longer himself, and can neither form a right judgment of things, nor is he a proper subject for the judgment of others; you who have obtained your knowledge of America only by flying through it, by stopping at taverns, and perhaps now and then going to a ball, or tea-party; you, to contradict a native of America, a farmer who gives his opinion, after twenty-five years of observations, made at his leisure in the midst of peace, confidence and friendship!

And what are the weapons you make use of? Eu­ropean and national prejudices. You have no facts on your side, and this respectable man has many; they are well authenticated, and the names he men­tions well known. He quotes a Benezet, a Mifflin, a Bartram, and you, with all your talking of hypocrites and cheats, you name nobody. How then can we give credit to your assertions?

In my opinion you deserve a very severe reproof for such conduct—When one author attacks the sen­timents of another, he should quote him, name him, and appeal to the public decision: Nothing but the despicable character of our opponent can excuse such an omission—Now, you have published opinions and assertions, directly in contradiction to those of St. John de Crevecoeur, and you have not said a single syllable of him, nor of his book; a book too which has enga­ged the public attention, and yet you have read it.— You well know how much the author is esteemed in America, and you yourself have expressed your person­al esteem for him. Since you attack, not merely [Page 14] his opinions, but his narrations and his facts; com­mon politeness, attention and respect for the public, did then, and still do, require, that you give your reasons for not mentioning him, and for differing from him in sentiment.

Who then shall we give credit to, concerning the Quakers? to St. John de Crevecoeur, or to the Marquis de Chatellux? one praises, the other traduces them: these are questions I have often heard, and which you ought to have prevented; but by not mentioning this author's name, nor his book, you have thrown the public into a state of uncertainty on these points.

I know very well, that this treacherous, jesuitical silence, which Academicians and men of the world are so well acquainted with, is honored with the name of consideration and respect. The means of ruining a public character, by general remarks, or by not saying any thing at all of him, is a secret many are well acquainted with; but believe me, this cow­ardly practice of our literary aristocracy, in no-wise becomes you. The motto of every honest writer should be, When I attack any one, I do it from motives of duty, and do it openly.

The public cannot long remain in the state of un­certainty you have thrown them into, if they will but attend to the arguments I have already brought to controvert your opinions, and to those I shall here­after produce. The difference in your manner of writing is against you. If I were even unacquainted with St. John de Crevecoeur, if I had not been on the most intimate footing with him, I could give my judgment after having read over both your books; his is a work of the heart, your's shews that you have a great deal of wit; but republicans, pure moralists, such as the Quakers, must be judged by the heart; their reputation will receive no shock from all the art you have made use of to injure them.

I shall now begin to follow you step by step.

The law which you say, many of them observe, of saying neither You, nor Sir, is far from giving them [Page 15] an air of simplicity and candor. This is not the cu­stom of many, but of all the society.

You speak of an air, as if the Quakers assumed any airs; as if their plainness was but affectation. They are much above it; the plainness of their lan­guage consists in renouncing those empty forms, those ridiculous compliments and fashionable falshoods which French politeness requires; it is on this plainness the Quakers value themselves; they do not tell a stranger that they are charmed to see him; they keep silence at the first interview, and wait for an opportunity of forming a judgment; they do not squeeze the hand of a man whom they despise; they do not bow to a fine suit of clothes, a cross, or a red or blue ribband; they do not pay court to a minister, who is detested by the nation—If they thee and thou every body, it is be­cause they believe all men are equal; are not these sufficient reasons for a Philosopher?

The undaunted manner in which they have sup­ported this custom at court, and at the bar; that boldness which has constrained those in authority to give way to them, will not even this entitle them to your praise? For admitting with you, that it is a matter of indifference to say you or thou to a single person, yet it must be of importance, to have a cha­racter, and to possess a degree of firmness, of that unshaken firmness, which is so hateful to oppressors, because they dread the consequences of it; and, it matters not, that this firmness appears in small things, and trifling circumstances; for there is no doubt, but it will be called forth with greater energy, on more important occasions. Now, the persecutions which the Quakers have undergone, for not giving up their Thee and Thou, shew a greatness of character, and of consequence a superiority over the rest of mankind, which they have ever sustained, when their civil or religious principles have been attacked by govern­ment. But after all, as to this custom of theirs, which you find so much fault with, let us see whether they or the men of the world are in the right: since You takes in several persons, why make use of it to one [Page 16] only? adulation first invented this corrupt practice, and pride and baseness of soul have brought it into general use: The Quakers wish to restore the customs of propriety, and what objections can you make to them? must they limp because you are not strong enough to walk upright?

If our self-conceited literati, and would-be philoso­phers, had really any philosophy about them, would not they imitate the Quakers? Would they not re­nounce those mean ceremonies, which show the slavish­ness and falshood of mankind? Would they not in­stead of ridicuiling the Quakers, endeavour, like them to exalt human nature, and compel the great to be­lieve that the lowest of their fellow creatures is their equal: This was the conduct of Diogenes, the hero of our Academicians, whose example however they will not follow; Diogenes in this respect acted like a true Quaker, that is to say, like a wise man, who knew the dignity of man, and the insignificancy of those distinctions which we meet with in civil life.

And I would be glad to know too, what meaning you affix to the word candor, which you say the Quakers make use of as a blind? To have candor, is to speak unreservedly from the very heart, which must be pure for such a purpose—To have candor is to speak what you think, and to pay the strictest attention to truth. This is the general character of the Quakers, and it is a character they have obtained by the sacrifice of their lives.

But you think very differently; for you charge them with a whining, insinuating tone, which is perfectly jesu­itical; you say too, that their conduct is quite of a piece. Horrid and false comparison! what do we mean by a Jesuit? a deceiver, with the air of candor, an art­ful hypocrite, one who is ambitious and plotting, un­der the appearance of renouncing honors and riches; a tyrant with an air of softness, subjection and polite­ness, and one who pretends to be humane, and yet is wholly given to selfishness.

The Jesuits were inflamed with a desire of domi­neering over the the consciences of men, that they might [Page 17] rule kingdoms, open prisons by their nod, and bury alive their rivals and their enemies—this was their reason for affecting a whining insinuating tone, which hurts no one's vanity, but flatters and misleads it.

The Jesuits raged with the desire of making pro­selytes, they besieged the growing talents of the youth, and bent them to their own purposes; they over-reached great and small; they had spies at court, and at the bar; they had their puffers and partisans in pay. In short they were for attempting and sub­duing every thing.

I would ask any one, who knows any thing of the Quakers, who has lived ever so short a time amongst them, whether any part of this character suits this plain people? can they, who renounce all places and honors, be charged with the lust of power? can they, who have no ambition, be called plotters? should they be supposed deceitful, without any motives for being so? does not the whole world know, that they do not attempt to make proselytes! that they do not seek for praise, either by writing or flattery! every body knows that they detest intolerance, and, of con­sequence, those horrid methods which are practised on persons in confinement, those private tortures and inquisitions which the Jesuits made use of to over­throw the doctrine of the efficacy of grace. The Quakers have been often derided, mutilated, and im­prisoned; they have never treated their enemies in such a manner; can the same be said of the Jesuits?

Is there any thing extraordinary in this softness of their manners? does it not naturally accompany their love of humanity, and principles of universal tolera­tion? there is nothing in it characteristic of the insinuating sharper; his schemes are for the acqui­sition of power, riches, fame or titles; but the true Quaker seeks not for power, he is of all men the least desirous of wealth, he cares little for a name, and despises all marks of distinction.

But you are not satisfied with denying them all pretensions to plainness and candor; you are not [Page 18] satisfied with comparing them to one of the most ambitious, plotting, and tyrannical sects that ever ex­isted —but you will not even allow them to possess common honesty. You tell us, that during the Ame­rican war, they cheated both parties out of their mo­ney, without a blush, and careless of what might be thought of their conduct.

And yet you bring no proof in support of so se­vere an accusation: an accusation which affects the whole society; which affects their Benezets and Mifflins: men whom you praise, and whom the lov­ers of virtue will admire. How could you, thus in a moment, endeavour to disgrace so many respectable characters? And even admitting, what I neither can nor will believe, till you prove it by well-attested facts—admitting, I say, that there were some Quak­ers who took advantage of the times, to sell at exor­bitant prices, or, as you express it, to cheat both par­ties out of their money, was it well done in you, to throw the odium on the whole society? If any amongst them are culpable, name them; it is your duty to do so. You, yourself are culpable if you do not; for, indeed, by your silence, you involve both the innocent and guilty in the charge.

But as you never could have known the Quaker's methods of dealing; as you never could, nor ever will be able to prove, that they are all cheats, with­out exception, it follows that your assertions are downright defamation; for which you ought to make amends at the public tribunal, where you have unfair­ly traduced them. At this tribunal, I now impeach you. I, who have been well acquainted with some Quakers, and am fully convinced of the general probity of their society, and observing, that they are accused by a man of rank and quality, and member of several academies—considerations which might lead the pub­lic to doubt of the honesty of the Quakers, I summons you to produce your charges, and your proofs before the public; and if you are still silent, let me once more repeat it, I shall think myself authorized to treat your assertions as mere defamation.

[Page 19]This word will shock you, sir; I use it with re­gret; but I do not use it without having sufficient­ly attended to the meaning of it. A defamatory work, is one which is made public, in which an avowed or anonymous author, injures one or more persons, by accusing them, falsly, of crimes, meannesses or vices; or, in a word, strives to injure their character. Now, do not you accuse the Quakers of being sharpers, cheats, hypocrites, and men careless of the public good?

We will suppose the Quakers may have furnished the English, as well as the Americans, with provisions. Do you call that a crime? You should recollect that the Quakers look on all men as their brethren, and that no one is their enemy, not even their persecutors. In this point of view, English and Americans were the same to them. The greatest part of them thought that England was carrying on an unjust war. But the Quakers did not look on the Hessians as part­ners in this act of injustice, they thought them equally entitled to their assistance with their American brethren.

According to my present sentiments that the on­ly justifiable war, is that which is carried on to re­sist oppression, and that the American war was of this kind, I must confess I should have been better pleas­ed if the Quakers had joined the Americans, that they might the sooner have got rid of the destroyers of their country.

But since they have not done so, since they have scrupulously adhered to their principles, of not shed­ding blood, I cannot accuse them of any thing crimi­nal; and the less so, because their principles and con­duct were known before hand, to both parties *.

And we will suppose also that they may have sold their goods at a high price to both parties. But do you call this cheating? In discussing this charge, I should be [Page 20] glad of well stated facts. But, as there are none, for you have not furnished me with any, I must suppose, that you have been led away, by the common prejudice, against the merchant who takes the benefit of circum­stances, to sell at an advanced price.

When any trade is free, not in the hands of indi­viduals, when the buyer is not forced to give what­ever price may be demanded, there can be no cheat­ing, not even if they sold at the most extravagant rates.

The natural consequence of a war, is to raise the price of goods very high, because produce is lessened, and goods become scarce. The seller is then no more culpable for raising the price on account of the scarcity, than the buyer would be for offering a small price in plentiful times. But the common people, who are used to fixed prices, and whose resources are diminished in time of war; this common people, who are then forced to buy every thing at a high price, exclaim that they are cheated. And I dare say, that a great many of our French officers, in their travels through the United States, have, as well as you, met with poor inns, and bad fare; and yet were obliged to pay a high price, for a mean lodging, and a wretch­ed supper. These, I have no doubt, often thought themselves imposed upon, and looked upon all the American inn-keepers as cheats. And you, your­self, seem to insinuate as much in several places*. But you and your brother officers were all wrong; For you paid, first, for the scarcity of hands, and ex­cessive price of labour; secondly, for the scarcity of provisions; thirdly, for the scarcity of travellers; and fourthly, for the scarcity of taverns; and, on these four different accounts, it is no wonder, if you paid four times as much as in France.

I do not mean to lay before you, in this place, all [Page 21] my opinions on high prices . I shall only say, that this can never be called cheating, as long as the buy­er knows the quality of the goods, and the conditions of sale: secondly where there are many sellers, the buyer is at liberty to purchase, or leave it alone.

The Quakers have the name of selling at high rates, I suppose, because their merchandise is al­ways of a good quality. But since you are at liberty to provide yourself elsewhere, you cannot complain of their selling dear; and if you give them the pre­ference, it must be because you esteem their goods, though of a higher price, yet of a superior quality, to those which are sold at a lower rate.

It is, besides, very well known, that the Quakers in general sell nearly at a fixed price. Now, such a custom admits of no cheating, which can only be prac­tised by those who vary their charges, and who, by taking advantage of the ignorance and credulity of the purchaser, ask much more than the market price. These are the men who are to be mistrusted, and not the Quakers, who sell at a fixed rate.

There is then very little probability in your slan­derous assertion, that it is a received maxim in trade, that they are not to be trusted.

But I maintain that it is a false assertion. I have heard quite a different account of them at London— a city, wherein, if they were much inclined to cheat­ing and corruption, they would much sooner become cheats, and be corrupted, than at Philadelphia. Now, this is far from being the case, and it may be looked on as one of the greatest prodigies of the age, that they have preserved their virtue in such a sink of vice.

I dare say, you may have heard such an account in America. But would it not have been right for you to have traced out the foundation of this tale? Should you not have sought for its origin in the [Page 22] wickedness and envy * of others? Should not you yourself have been sure of the truth of it? And in­stead of only saying that the maxim is well founded, should you not have shown that it was so, by well-attested facts? Once more, sir; when a citizen is accused of a crime, the proofs and facts must be brought forward at the same time. Otherwise, an accusation is but calumny, and as such will your's be re­garded, unless you particularise those heavy charges you accuse the Quakers with, and the whole society at once, for you have slandered them all indiscriminately.


I shall now go on to treat of the ridicule you throw on the Quakers, when speaking of their mode of wor­ship and religious tenets; and here too, I shall follow you, step by step.

On Sunday the 10th, say you, I determined to take a turn thro' the churches, and study the different modes of worship.

It must be confessed, that your's was a laughable way of studying; to go and hear a single prayer or sermon, and catch at hazard few expressions, in a language and religion you were a stranger to. Since all sects have their peculiar idioms, and make use of com­mon words in a different way from other people▪ the wit, who is for making so superficial a course of stu­dies, runs a risk of understanding nothing, and of forming erroneous sentiments of every thing he hears.

But, what could you mean by taking this strange turn through the churches? Was it to become ac­quainted with their ceremonies? The Presbyterians have but few—and the Quakers none at all. Was it to become acquainted with the principles and spirit of each sect? This would have been a more reasonable [Page 23] and important object: But let a man be ever so pe­netrating, how can he flatter himself with fully un­derstanding, in a single hour, at a single opportunity, the principles and practice of any sect? The first is to be learnt from books, the second by frequent and long continued intercourse.

We are but too much addicted to this mania of judg­ing of objects from superficial views, without going to the bottom of any thing. This is the case with re­spect to all the sciences. A man will suppose himself very knowing in natural philosophy, and quite a mas­ter of chymistry, when he has attended a few lectures. This error has been already much complained of; but it does and will keep its ground, because it is favora­ble to the quackery of teachers, and the laziness and vanity of scholars.

"Unfortunately, say you, the several sects, who agree in nothing else, have fixed on the same hour to as­semble their congregations."

How can you affirm, that the religious sects in Eng­land, and in the United States, do not agree in any one point; when, all, to bring but a single instance, look upon the Gospel as a divine book; when, all, ex­cept the Unitarians, regard Christ as the Son of God, and all admit the necessity of prayer, &c. You know too much to be ignorant of these facts; but you have sacrificed the truth, to the pitiful pleasure of making an antithesis. It is rather singular too, that for the ac­commodation of the curious, you would wish to sub­ject all the sects to different hours, for the perform­ance of their worship. Alas, why did not you make your tour of worships, as the petits maitres of Paris do their tour of play-houses? A song at the Italian— a scene at the French theatre—a dance at the Ope­ra —and a turn at Vauxhall—they have seen every thing, and know every thing, for they have shewn themselves every where, and all in the space of two hours.

When you made use of this expression, if you had but recollected, that the man, whose soul is raised to God from a feeling sense of duty, has his attention [Page 24] but little turned to strangers, but is wholly fixed on one object; if you had remembered too, the perni­cious consequences, which, I shall hereafter show, at­tend this way of degrading religious subjects, treating them in a light manner, and putting them on a level with play-houses, you would not have formed a judg­ment so superficially of the Quakers, and Presbyteri­ans, nor even of the members of the church of Eng­land.

If you had recollected too, that there is no distinc­tion of sex in the sight of God, you would certainly have spared that sorry jest upon the women, which no one expected to see from the pen of an admirer of the fair sex, and an academician: "Like Ariosto, I shall relate prodigies, dirò maraviglia, just as I entered, a woman held her tongue."

How could this trifling and hacknied piece of wit escape you, especially with all the air of importance with which you make the quotation? You who are so warm in the praise of our French ladies—have you, then, never been acquainted with any who knew how to be still, or whose conversation was agreeable? Have you never lived with English and American ladies? Have you not observed that they are modest and si­lent, never in haste to speak, although well-inform­ed? Yes, well-informed, and well qualified to teach even men of learning and academicians. I shall men­tion but one—Mrs. Macaulay: Her history of the Stuarts is certainly more useful than all the French academy has ever produced.

And besides, why would you lessen the women? By undervaluing any one, you make him become des­picable. The Quakers have done that justice to their women which we refused them. They have shewn they were not unworthy of it; for Quakerism has had its Porcias.

You seem determined to find fault with every thing the Quakers do, whether they speak or are silent. For you go on to say, "A man took the woman's place, and spoke like a block-head on internal grace, the illumination of the spirit, and all the other tenets [Page 25] of his sect, which he had over and over again, but without explaining any thing.

I shall here, sir, make bold to ask you if you were sufficiently acquainted with the language of the sect, to understand this Quaker, and to form a judgment of his discourse? A foreigner may understand the eloquent Burke in the house of commons, or Miss Young at the theatre, without being always able to comprehend the preacher of any society. The Quakers, of all others, have a language of their own, which cannot be easily understood, with­out having read some of their books, such as Barc­lay's Apology, with a great deal of attention. Now, I should suspect, from a word you have made use of, that you were not perfectly acquainted with the idiom and doctrine of the Quakers. It is when you find fault with the preacher for not explaining their religious tenets. Most probably he was clear enough for his brethren who understood his language, while to you who did not comprehend it, he was obscrue. Now on the same principles, what would you think of a man, who, having learned the Indostan language, only in the grammar of Halhed, should tell us of a Bramin's speaking very stupidly about Vistnou? What would you think of a wit, who, from his ignorance of the new doctrine of magnetism, should call your reflec­tions on motion *, a collection of riddles? And what would you say, if an Englishman, ignorant of the many hundred revolutions which have happened in the Nomenclator of French chymistry, should call the Oxigine of Messrs. Fourcroy and Lavoisier, a stupid and obscure term?

It is no difficult matter to accuse a sect, or ridicule their tenets. I have seen some of those jesters, who could not even tell you the meaning of the technical terms which they had picked up—I have heard many of them quote the doctrines of Jansenius with a sneer, [Page 26] who would have been greatly puzzled if any one had asked them to explain the very first article.

The ignorant are led away by words, and I make no doubt, that most persons who read your book, and know nothing of the Quakers, will form their judgment of them, from the caricatura you have drawn; from these single words "inward grace, illumination which pro­ceeds from the spirit," and more especially from the beautiful turn about saying over and over again. They will exclaim—Where are these creatures from?— They are surely born in the last age—or inhabitants of some other world—poor ignorant mortals!

I know nothing of the discourse made by the Qua­ker you heard preach, but I will confess that the te­nets he should have supported, the tenets of his sect, do not appear to me to be so stupid as they did to you. I shall now give a short account of them, not for your information, for you must certainly have read Benezet before you ridiculed him, but for those who have no other knowledge of the Quakers but what they get from the stage.

The Quakers believe in one almighty, eternal and unchangeable God.

They believe in the divinity and mission of Christ.

They believe that all men may be saved.

They admit of grace and universal light. That is to say, that God, of his grace, makes himself known, and discloses the truth, to all those who sincerely desire to know it, and seek after it.

They believe that this grace was given to Socrates, Epictetus and Seneca, and to all those ancient Philo­sophers, who joined the practice of virtue to their search after truth. By the inward light, which they follow as their guide, they mean the Holy Spirit.

Whoever, says Benezet*, retires seriously into him­self, with a sincere desire to know, and to do his duty, will never fail to find there a sure guide, a ray from the fountain of light, which will enlighten his understand­ing, [Page 27] and teach him, with certainty, to distinguish good from evil. Those who are obedient to this light, this divine guide, whatever religion they profess, soon ar­rive at the enjoyment of purity, holiness, &c.

The Bible is the principal book which they read, or have recourse to, for council and direction. They cannot, however, says Benezet, regard it as the word of God, because this title belongs to Christ alone; be­cause its contents admit of different interpretations, and because men are apt to think that nothing further is necessary to their salvation.

Concerning worship, they have neither ceremonies nor sacraments, because they say these terms are not found in the holy scriptures.

They do not believe in elementary baptism, nor the use of bread and wine, as a sacrament, to be essential; they look upon them as types and images; and think a good life is the certain way to salvation.

They believe in the necessity of prayer, but that it should always proceed from inspiration.

They keep meetings, because God has promised, that where two or three persons are gathered in his name, there he is in the midst of them.

They undertake not to ordain either priests, bishops or ministers, according to the hierarchy maintained in other Christian churches.

They think any man presumptuous who would pre­tend to the exclusive privilege of communion with God. Every believer may become a priest and minister. Eve­ry Quaker is a preacher, when he feels himself autho­rised thereto by divine inspiration. They therefore refuse paying tythes. It is, according to their prin­ciples, degrading religion, to make it a matter of com­merce; it is disobeying the Supreme Being, who has said, freely ye have received, freely give.

For the same reason, they reject the science, called theology, as commonly taught in the schools, believing that it serves only to produce pride and disputation.

I shall in another place speak of their sentiments concerning war.

It is well known that they never swear, according [Page 28] to the command of Jesus Christ, swear not at all, but let your communication be yea, yea, nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.

The internal police of this sect is very strict and rational. They have their monthly meetings, which are made up of the members of such meetings as lie contiguous; their quarterly meetings, which are com­posed of the several monthly meetings, which are nearest to each other; and in like manner, their year­ly meetings, composed of the several adjacent quar­terly meetings. If a brother behaves amiss, the el­ders caution him repeatedly, and get others to do the same. If he is irreclaimable, they lay his case be­fore the monthly meeting, where it is judged. He may, if dissatisfied with their decision, appeal from this meet­ing to the quarterly meeting, where he has another hearing, and from thence, if still discontented, to the yearly meeting, where it is finally adjudged. They are careful to avoid law suits; if any Quaker is poor, or unfortunate, the society assists him.*

They look on it as a duty to contribute to general charities.

They hold no places of office in the magistracy; but in Pennsylvania they were for some time in those offices. Perceiving, however, that it was hardly pos­sible to adhere to their principles, amongst the temp­tations that occurred there, they at length resolved to give them up entirely.

Such are the civil and religious tenets of the Quak­ers; and to their praise be it spoken, they could never be compelled to abandon them, even in those coun­tries where they were without power, and persecut­ed; and they obliged no one to embrace them, where they had the power in their own hands. To prove this, I shall quote two striking passages, from Barclay and Penn, in their own words:—

"But of this excellent patience and sufferings, the witnesses of God, in scorn called Quakers, have gi­ven [Page 29] a manifest proof: for so soon as God revealed his truth among them, without regard to any opposi­sition whatsoever, or what they might meet with, they went up and down, as they were moved of the Lord, preaching and propagating the truth in mar­ket-places, highways, streets, and publick temples, though daily beaten, whipped, bruised, haled, and imprisoned therefore. And when there was any where a church or assembly gathered, they taught them to keep their meetings openly, and not to shut the door, nor do it by stealth, that all might know it, and those who would might enter. And as hereby all just occasion of fear of plotting against the government was fully removed, so this their courage and faithfulness in not giving over their meeting together (but more especially the presence and glory of God manifested in the meeting being terrible to the consciences of the persecutors) did so weary out the malice of their adversaries, that often­times they were forced to leave their work undone. For when they came to break up a meeting, they * were obliged to take every individual out by force, they not being free to give up their liberty by dissol­ving at their command: and when they were haled out, unless they were kept forth by violence, they presently returned peaceably to their place. Yea, when sometimes the magistrates have pulled down their meeting-houses, they have met the next day openly upon the rubbish; and so by innocency kept their possession and ground, being properly their own, and their right to meet and worship God, being not forfeited to any. So that when armed men have come [Page 30] to dissolve them, it was impossible for them to do it, unless they had killed every one; for they stood so close together, that no force could move any one to stir, until violently pulled thence: so that when the malice of their opposers stirred them to take shovels, and throw the rubbish upon them, there they stood unmoved, being willing, if the Lord should so per­mit, to have been there buried alive, witnessing for him. As this patient but yet courageous way of suffer­ing made the persecutors work very heavy and wea­risome unto them, so the courage and patience of the sufferers, using no resistance, nor bringing any wea­pons to defend themselves, nor seeking any ways of re­venge upon such occasions, did secretly smite the hearts of the persecutors, and made their chariot-wheels go on heavily. Thus, after much and many kind of sufferings, thus patiently borne, which to re­hearse, would make a volume * of itself, which may in due time be published to the nations (for we have them upon record) a kind of negative liberty has been obtain­ed; so that at present, for the most part, we meet toge­ther without disturbance from the magistrate. But on the contrary, most Protestants, when they have not the allowance and toleration of the magistrate, meet only in secret, and hide their testimony?" &c.

Barclay relates their sufferings also in his spirited dedication to Charles IId, in which he affirms, that no Quaker was ever discovered to have been concern­ed in the many plots laid against him; and finishes this singular dedication with the following bold ex­pressions.

"Thou hast tasted of prosperity and adversity; [Page 31] thou knowest what it is to be banished thy native country; to be over-ruled, as well as to rule, and to sit upon the throne; and being oppressed, thou hast reason to know how hateful the oppressor is, both to God and man: If after all these warnings and ad­vertisements thou dost not turn unto the Lord, with all thy heart; but forget him who remembered thee in thy distress, and give up thyself to follow lust and vanity, surely great will be thy condemnation, &c."

These passages, Sir, are a sufficient proof of the stea­diness and constancy of the Quakers, in the midst of persecutions; and the spirited language of Barclay to Charles the IId, has always been maintained by them. The following passage will also show their toleration, in a country where they had the power in their own hands.

The immortal Penn, in the charter of privileges, which he granted to the inhabitants of Pennsylvania, on the 28th October 1701, inserted the following clause.

"Because no people can be truly happy, tho' un­der the greatest enjoyment of civil liberties, if abridg­ed of the freedom of their consciences, as to their religious profession and worship: And almighty God being the only Lord of conscience, father of lights and spirits; and the author, as well as the object of all divine knowledge, faith and worship, who only doth enlighten the minds, and persuade and convince the understandings of people, I do bereby grant and declare, that no person or persons, inhabiting in this province or territories, who shall confess and acknow­ledge one almighty God, the creator, upholder and ruler of the world; and profess him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the civil government, shall be in any case molested or prejudiced, in his, or their person or estate, because of his or their conscien­tious persuasion or practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place or ministry, contrary to his or their mind, or to do or suffer any other act or thing, contrary to their religious persua­sion. And that all persons who also profess to be­lieve [Page 32] in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other persuasions and practices in point of conscience and religion) to serve this government in any capacity, both legis­latively and executively."

And now, sir, forget that you have written against the Quakers, lay aside your prejudices and witticisms, retire within, and after reading the ac­count I have just given, ask yourself whether the te­nets and worship of the Quakers are so very stupid as you would suppose them.

But you will say, what is the meaning of that mys­terious farrago about inward grace, illumination and the spirit? I understand you, and might answer your question by referring to the belief and tenets of the Catholics and Protestants, whom your censure in­volves equally with the Quakers; but a philosopher, an academician, must be answered in a different man­ner, and I shall now attempt it.

The words illumination, inward grace, extacy, en­thusiasm, express the same spiritual state of man, that state in which he is plunged, when absorbed, and en­tirely taken up in a profound meditation on his rela­tion to God and man. Were you never in this situation? If not, I pity you; for it is certainly the highest source of happiness, I had almost said, of enjoyment on earth. I will not attempt to describe the effects of it—they are beyond description. Those delightful reveries in which the soul wanders, when escaped from the wretch­ed coverings which confine her; that sublime and con­solatory glimpse of things beyond herself, beyond the globe and in a better world, is fled and gone, when we attempt to describe it.

This state is to be arrived at, solely, by a perfect in­ward retirement, and a solitary * and innocent life; and [Page 33] can only be relished by those pure souls who are lifted above the vain pleasures and trifling objects of worldly ambition.

This state is the direct road to the knowledge of God, of real happiness, and of the proper objects of man's pursuit. It leads us naturally to the true means of obtaining it. These means are the public and social virtues. From whence it follows, that the man who is continually employed in self-meditation, becomes of course, good, tolerant, just and beneficent—for he endeavours to approach the Divinity, and to resemble him; and it is virtue alone that can fill up the inter­mediate space which separates them.

Illumination, inward grace, the holy spirit of the Quakers, is nothing else but this state of knowledge, which is to be attained by meditation. They never pray without meditating—they never preach without being inspired, which is always the fruit of meditation.

I have then proved to you, that the man who is con­tinually employed in meditation on himself, on the Divinity, and on his own duty, will naturally become a virtuous man; and, of course, the illumination of the Quakers directs them naturally to virtue; which con­clusion is supported by facts; of consequence their sy­stem is a respectable one, and making a jest of it, shews an ignorance of it's principles and effects—It is an of­fence against virtue.

It seems to me that these conclusions cannot be deni­ed, however, I challenge you to do it.

I well know that our wits, even some of the cele­brated ones, have been very ingenious in their sar­casms on this state of illumination. But what do sar­casms prove? What absurdity may not a wit be guilty of? What virtue is safe from their ridicule? Let us leave irony apart, and come to facts and reasoning— Turn over Voltaire from beginning to end, the man who has, above all others, brought into repute this rage of substituting ridicule for reasoning, and who has carried it even to the scaffold. In all his writings, [Page 34] you will not find one solid argument against illuminati­on:* His only weapons are puns and epigrams.

It is with regret I mention it, but these too, are the weapons most frequently made use of by the Count de Mirabeau, in the book which he has just published against the celebrated Lavater and his followers, whom he calls the enlightened, and against illumina­tion in general.

But there is a distinction to be made which has esca­ped this writer, and those who have wrote on the same subject before him, and which is daily escaping the vulgar who are so ready to condemn every thing above their reach—He has confounded the pretended, with the real enlightened man.

I agree that the pretended are the most numerous; for whenever there appears in the world characters strongly marked, who announce important truths and fix the attention of mankind, they are soon surround­ed and followed by a crowd of intriguing persons, who take advantage of their discoveries, and who, aping their appearance, hope to dupe the credulous public, and too often are successful.

The real philosopher ought to make the most vigor­ous effors to detect these infamous cheats; he ought to inveigh against hypocrisy and illumination, when made a trade of, but not against real illumination: For by ridiculing this last only, they are disappointed in their aims, they traduce what is respectable, and treat with respect, or pass over in silence, those things which should be condemned. They give encouragement to [Page 35] the hypocrite, who is put on a footing with the virtuous man, and finds a shelter under his protection.

But there is, in this case, an infallible method of distinguishing the false from the true. Whenever one of these enlightened persons has ambitious, interested, or worldly views, you may be certain that he is only a pretender to illumination, and you should never he­sitate to detect the cheat.

Philosophy too, has been the instrument of cheating in the hands of the sophists. But as it would be absurd to throw on real philosophers that odium which be­longs only to the cheats who have usurped this title to acquire riches or reputation, so it would be unjust to confound George Fox, Penn, Benezet and the rest of the true Quakers, with the false, if there are any, who, as you tell us, make use of this covering to conceal their vices and interested views. It would be unjust to confound the honest Lavater with the ad­venturers who make a trade of illumination and ex­tasies.

What I now say, is equally applicable to the enlight­ened Catholics—I have no doubt but Fenelon was of this number—That sweet anointing virtue which runs through his letters, could only be produced by conti­nued extasies—And who is there so devoid of reason and feeling as to say that Fenelon was a cheat or a fool?

Such a man would at once condemn almost every true philosopher, and especially Rousseau. Read this author's dialogues with himself; they seem to be writ­ten in another world: And a man who exists in this world only, and has never been beyond it, could not have written two words of them.

Were I to run over the catalogue of ancient and modern philosophers, there is scarce one of them who has not been enlightened, and consequently been looked upon as a fool by his cotemporaries; this was Plato's case; and did not Descartes appear as a mad-man, when, in the public church, and presence of the divinity, he consecrated himself by an oath to the defence of truth. And his pupil, the famous Mal­lebranche, do not all his works bear the wonderful [Page 36] stamp of illumination? He was the child, the man of meditation.

The example of these great men will be another proof, sir, of what I have already demonstrated, that this state, far from being dangerous to society, is on the contrary, favourable to virtue. For where shall we find a more disinterested character than Malle­branche, where a more sublime one than Rousseau, where one more beneficent, or more resembling the divinity, than Fenelon?

And let it be observed too, that this disinterested­ness, this sublimity, this beneficence, were the natu­ral fruits of that habit of spiritual contemplation, in which man becomes ex-organised, and ex-humanised, if I may use the expressions.

In forming a judgment of extraordinary men, I believe we do not pay a sufficient attention to their private characters; I do not mean, that this should always influence us with regard to their opinions; but it should at least teach us to be careful in passing our judgment, and above all things, not to blacken their characters: Their virtue should apologize for their mistakes, but genius can never be an excuse for vice.

I am further of opinion, that we are too apt to condemn whatever is foreign to us, and to our way of thinking. The courage of those who dare to strike out new paths, is not held in the estimation it deserves. The good consequences of enthusiasm, ex­cited by new ideas, is not sufficiently felt.

Every kind of enthusiasm is attended with a move­ment, a displacing of the human mind, a flight be­yond the ordinary bounds. This is the natural consequence of the elements of our spiritual princi­ciple, of it's restless activity, of it's curiosity to know what is true, and to enjoy the best. This active dis­position, often leads the soul astray into errors and chimeras; but on the other hand, it often leads to the discovery of useful truths. To stop the course of enthusiasm then, by ridicule, is to limit the num­ber of truths, and to circumscribe human perfection.

[Page 37]But further, the cause of tyranny is served by this kind of ridicule; for since there are amongst these truths which have been, or may be discovered, some that might prove fatal to it; it is the interest of ty­rants to oppose that enthusiasm which causes them to be discovered, spread and adopted. Tyrants, by pur­suing this system, would make man a mere machine. A Nero, were he now alive, would look with terror upon the present state of mens' minds. He would regard them with horror, agitated by a secret fer­ment, continually seeking to change their situation, tor­mented with the weight they feel, and endeavouring to free themselves from it. He would see, with horror, some launching into the regions of metaphysics, and there boldly hovering between heaven and earth; others penetrated with a sense of the dignity of man, are shocked at the attempts of individuals, to degrade it, all moving with the same enthusiasm, boldly main­taining their doctrines, and giving rise to discussions which tend to the public improvement.

As tyranny is continually obstructing the progress of knowledge, the simple and obscure individual who re­sists it, must have a support, and none so certain as enthusiasm—Armed with the inward conviction that he is the defender of truth, raised above all fear, be­cause he is continually raised above all earthly things; the enthusiast gives a shock to the mind, while he him­self remains immoveable.*

His existence is a real benefit to the community that possesses him; he in time makes them partakers of his exalted state. And indeed, enthusiasm, transporting the minds of men into a more exalted sphere, habituates them to a certain elevation, which they preserve when they descend into the common circle of things. The en­thusiast, [Page 38] the enlightened man, have not the same language nor the same physiognomy as common men. Theirs is an heavenly language, a noble countenance, which most forcibly electrines those who look upon it. Observe the man who has frequent communion with himself and with his God—Serenity reigns on his vis­sage and happiness in his life; there is a something commanding in his looks, which seems to make you feel your inferiority—In his presence vanity shrinks, vice blushes, and feeble virtue grows strong. Thus, the real and virtuous enthusiast, governs a whole commu­nity by his presence, and by a firm and steady resolu­tion.

You, sir, who have studied the secrets of magnetism, and who have boldly ranked yourself amongst it's defen­ders, in spite of the academic confederacy, you must be well acquainted with the singular effects of this re­solution, this beneficent enthusiasm, in which the whole system of magnetism consists. Be no longer, then, the enemy of enthusiasts and enlightened persons; make a jest of them no longer. I have but one word more to say on this head: If the progress of George Fox and William Penn had been checked by ridicule, what a mis­fortune would it have been for mankind! The Ame­rican Indians would still be massacred; the Negroes would still be slaves; the principles of equality and their consequence, democracy, would not have been so well known, and the American revolution would not have been effected: And all this is owing to the spirit of illumination and enthusiasm.

No longer vilify the worship of the Quakers, because you think it gloomy and clownish. It is simple, and of consequence more respectful to the Deity. It turns the minds of men from idolatry, and by confi­ning them to a state of meditation, fixes their serious attention on the supreme being, which is of much greater importance than singing his praises by rote.

No longer speak so highly of the Church of Eng­land's mode of worship, for the resemblance you saw in it to an opera; for the fine pulpit, beautiful organ, handsome minister, and elegant women; or for the [Page 39] agreeable sonatas you heard sung there. Good hea­vens! compare a church to a playhouse; and the eja­culations of the devout man to the Divinity, to Italian songs! How could you descend to such puerile and in­decent comparisons? It is excusable in a child to be captivated by fine play-things, but how mean an opini­on must we entertain of the judgment and metaphy­sics of a man grown, an academician too, who calls himself a philosopher, to see him looking after and admiring nothing else in divine worship, but the dress of the ladies and the elegant theatrical grace of a surplused Petit-maitre. For what must be your idea of the Divinity, if you suppose that the prayers and homage of a handsome minister and well-dressed wo­men, are more acceptable to him, than those of vir­tuous men, with plain clothes; or that charming songs are more acceptable than good works? At any rate, this sensual taste, can only belong to the indolent and voluptuous deities of Epicurus, but the God of the philosopher is the source of all truth and virtue. Does he not receive a more acceptable homage from those who seek truth by meditation, and practise virtue, than from singing and dancing. And is it not uttering blasphemy against him, if it were possible to do so, thus to suppose he can be worshipped by stage-players and buffoons?

I by no means charge you with making such con­clusions, but would-be-wits, and weak minds, will draw them from your jests—How diverted they will be with your curious quotation from the Deserter, and that comparison between the ignorant sectary and Montauciel, who finds in his book, words that were never there. But this is the true academic turn of mind.—Unhappy disposition, which gives us puns and jests for reasons, which lessens every thing that is great * by the mere touch, which shrivels up the soul, [Page 40] shortens the sight, and disfigures every object! I must again lament that the author of la Felicité publique, should be corrupted by this epidemic rage for wit.

And you suppose, then, that you have proved to a demonstration, that all religious sects are in an error, by comparing them to Montauciel, who could not spell, and by saying, that it was a million to one, that he guessed right.

Which is as much as to say, that because Montau­ciel, who did not know his letters, could not read, so we have no method of becoming versed in the sci­ences; and consequently, that we are not possessed of reason, inward feeling or conscience, those three guides of knowledge and conduct. That, in religious matters, it is a million to one, that the truth is yet concealed, that the true religion is yet unknown, and like to be so, for there is a million of chances against it. Now is such a system as this defensible? Do you suppose that there is no such thing as a reli­gious truth? such a supposition would make the great­est part of mankind unhappy, and place oppressors wholly at their ease.

Is there any more appearance of reason, in your traducing the Quakers, by charging them with bloody disputes, and by saying that it is better to leave them in their error than to go to cutting throats with them? How is this? do the Quakers endeavour to convince or gain over any one? And do they, when resisted, wield the sword, or light the faggot? You do not believe it; or if you did, history would undeceive you, and yet, when casting your jokes on all the sects, you charge them as well as the others, with this enormity.

There appears throughout this paragraph, an air of ridiculing every religious sect, as well as of the [Page 41] worship of the Deity, which weak minds will extend to the Deity himself. Oh sir, blame not a society for any thing but for their intolerance, and for professing principles which produce hatred: But let us commend them for resembling one another in be­lieving in God, and in the necessity of divine wor­ship.

Philosophers, by being too warm in their opposi­tion to certain religious prejudices, have not yet suffi­ciently considered the extensive influence which a be­lief in God and a future state, would have on political constitutions: He who believes in God, can fear nobo­dy: He who believes in God, will speak the truth bold­ly, he will despise torments and death itself: He who believes in God, will love and cherish all mankind, he will, if possible, revenge them when opprest: He who believes in God, may become a Cato, a Sidney, a Benezet, the greatest and most respectable of hu­man beings, but he can never become a Caesar or a Sejancus.

How strong is man when supported, on one hand by the truth, and on the other by the Deity! He is then irresistible—Power vanishes before him, and the sword menaces in vain .

You smile—but look at the Quakers; defenceless they have triumphed over their armed persecutors— and these are the fruits of enthusiasm.

[Page 42]


Have you been more successful or just, sir, in your attack upon the political or civil principles of the Qua­kers? I think not. One of them claims the favour and encouragement of all sovereigns. They are eve­ry where respectful and obedient to government, and never revolt, or have recourse to arms, whatever im­positions they suffer. You do not reproach them for this principle of forbearance, which, perhaps singly, prevents crowds of virtuous, but brave men, from embracing their system; but you are offended, be­cause in consequence of it, they proscribe war, and that military art you so ardently admire.

"Concealing, say you, their indifference for the public good, under the appearance of religion, they are sparing of blood, especially their own, &c."

Thus, sir, you misapply words, which ill under­stood, beget absurd and bloody contests. If the dis­putes of princes, or the respective national pretensi­ons, often supported with the unnecessary effusion of blood, constitute what you denominate public good; it must be confessed that the Quakers are indifferent to such follies, and refuse to contribute to them. But in respect to the general benefit of society, that is to say, the relief of distressed individuals, the assist­ance of the indigent, zeal and liberality in the pro­motion of useful institutions, the Quakers, far from being indifferent, are among the first to comfort and assist the unfortunate. For proof, I oppose you to yourself, I quote you for all you allow them to have done for the public good at Philadelphia, where they have principally planned and supported many useful and necessary institutions. For, notwithstanding they dis­courage public spectacles, you will allow that they may promote the welfare of their fellow-citizens, without entertaining them with an opera or a stage play. I quote that Benezet, whom you cannot but esteem, that Mifflin, of whom M. St. John de Creve­coeur gives us such an amiable character, that Fother­gill, whose life was one continued scene of great and [Page 43] good actions, in a word, I quote their general eman­cipation of the Negroes. Where shall we meet with such another sublime instance of regard for the public good! Can you suppose that the restoration of milli­ons of wretched beings to life, to virtue, and to soci­ety; and the abolition of the most detestable trade that ever was undertaken, a trade in human blood! Can you suppose, I say, that these are objects of less importance to the public welfare than the massacre of thousands of Englishmen out of patriotism?

Confess, sir, that this kind of public spirit de­serves the preference, and no doubt you will be con­vinced upon serious reflection, that the Quakers have shewn themselves friends to the public good, by taking no part as a body in the civil commotions which have laid waste and dismembered the British empire in the last and present centuries. What! would you blame them because they did not pray for the success of that tyrant Charles II, uncorrected by the misfor­tunes of his father, whose wars only served him for a pretence to rob his subjects of money to lavish upon his mistresses? For the ambitious William, who cast the first link of that oppressive chain of national debt, whose weight becomes at present too heavy to be borne? For Ann successively governed by ambitious or obscure favorites, uninformed, intriguing, and a stranger to her subjects? For the absurd dispute about the Spanish succession, or that of the empire no less absurd and expensive? In short, would you blame them for not having joined with Clive to assassinate Nabobs, who had been the benefactors of his country, with Verelst, to hurry three millions of Indians into eternity by the cruel death of famine, with Hastings, to exterminate a hundred thousand Rohillas; in short, with all the ravages of India, to rob, fetter, massa­cre the most mild, virtuous and friendly people upon earth.

If this mass of national enormities, is what you call public good, it is not only a virtue not to stain our hands with it; it is a duty to avoid it—confess, sir, that such public good is merely that of a few in­dividuals, of the ministry, of the military, who for [Page 44] amusement or promotion, charitably set people to cut each other's throats. But such public good is a general evil, an evil for all nations, and especially to the people, who are always oppressed, whether con­quering or conquered. Let us then commend the Quakers for their indifference to such nominal public good; let us commend them for weeping over its ca­lamitous consequences, though they never contribute to them, and thus uniting religion and humanity.

They are sparing of blood—so much the better—Are there not enough who lavish it? Are not a million of bayonets at our breasts from one end of Europe to the other, sufficient? Are there not murderers enough? Must it be counted a crime in the Quakers, not to be found in this list of destroyers of the hu­man race.

These enlightened men, fully convinced that the basis of universal happiness is universal peace, and that war must be utterly renounced to introduce it. Convinced that preaching would be ineffectual, if not seconded by example, and that princes would find the means of perpetuating war as long as men could be hired to cut each others throats, determined never to use arms or contribute to the support of any war. They have been robbed, imprisoned, tortured, martyred; they endured it all, and at length, over­come by their constancy, tyranny has exempted them from military services, and is obliged to use force in obtaining contributions from them. And indeed what should the Quakers pay for? To hire soldiers? They would there were none. Priests? they do not want any; they are all priests. Magistrates? they need none, they have no law-suits.

What would become of our heroe's, if every sect had imbibed this anti-military spirit; if all anathema­tized war; if no Automaton would suffer himself to be trained up for the infernal task of murdering his bro­ther? —What would become of the ambition of con­querors, if all men, turned Quakers, should firmly, and with one consent, refuse to second their preten­sions with a musket? O then! if we love the public [Page 45] good, let us pray that this exalted sect may increase and spread over the earth, or at least, that its humane principles may be every where received, then would that peace become universal*, which the Quakers have already realised, in those countries where they are most numerous. Let the ambitious who sigh for ribbands and crosses, detest this idea; let them ridi­cule us, suspect us of cowardice, and proclaim to the world, that we are sparing of our own blood; it is better to be ridiculous, if this is so, than to become the murderers of our brethren.

It is thus, sir, you are pleased to banter the Qua­kers; you say they shun war, particularly to spare their own blood; as if the Quaker, who uses no wea­pons of defence, were not more exposed to danger than he who carries them and defends himself; as if the angry savage would respect his scalp, or the European conqueror his existence.

No, the Quakers do not avoid fighting to spare their own blood, but to spare that of their fellowmen. Can you doubt it, you who have seen them during the late war boldly venturing to succour their bre­thren, their countrymen, their enemies themselves?

If you still doubt their courage, look back to the persecutions they have suffered, read their martyro­logy; behold them tranquil and serene in dungeons, undaunted before their judges, mounting the gallows without terror; behold even their women, possessed of equal resolution, braving torture and defying the ex­ecutioner. Such courage, sir, is very different from [Page 46] that of the soldier in the day of battle, chiefly inspi­red by the adventitious circumstances which sur­round him, and possess every faculty of his soul. The confused discharge of musketry, and the report of cannon, sounds which banish all reflection, the necessity to kill or be killed, the chance of escape, the looks of his comrades and of his general, the hope of laurels, and crosses, every thing supports, every thing animates, and impels him to what is called heroism; but all this is foreign to it.

How different is the fortitude of the individual, who ascends the scaffold a martyr to his religious or political opinions! every thing around is against him, or at least indifferent; the image of certain death be­fore him, and the apparatus of his execution. He has no escape, no honors, no ribbands to expect—death advances, and he meets him without terror.

Behold the man of true courage! behold the he­roe! His courage is innate, it springs from his own breast; he dies alone, sensible of the approach of death. Such were Russel, Sydney, Barnevelt, De Witt, &c. and all those Quakers who have suffered imprisonment and death in defence of their faith. Now will you venture to make a jest of their courage, their singularities, or the plainness of their language?

If the witty, following your example, cannot be satisfied without disparaging this respectable sect by [Page 47] their sarcastic sneers—I repeat what I have said else­where, I will forgive them their epigrams, if they can say on their death-beds, with a descendant of the celebrated Penn, "I never did a wicked thing know­ingly." I will forgive them, if they can quit life and its enjoyments in the bloom of youth without regret, if they have the resolution, like most Quakers, to comfort their weeping friends—I will forgive them, if they practised through life, the meekness, probity, and other good qualities of the Quakers. Though they may appear ridiculous in the eyes of a French­man, and their language may seem emphatic, and en­igmatical, even though they should hold immaterial er­rors, or insist too strenuously upon minutiae; what matter if they are virtuous? Let us shun their weak­nesses, but imitate their good qualities, or if we can­not accomplish both, let us sacrifice our vanity to vir­tue, and be very careful how we blame. Hitherto, the Quakers have been represented in a ridiculous point of view; both at Paris and London, they have been indecently exhibited upon the stage. An Aris­tophanes, has been found to sacrifice Socrates to the public. Let the public lay aside their prejudices, let them study, let them scrutinize the Qua­kers, they will find their doctrines plain, their morals pure, and the simplicity of their manners perfectly consistent; they will find energy and sublimity in their character, in the midst of general seduction and the most shocking depravity. Even selfishness, that uni­versal poison, is a vice unknown to the true Quaker. All Quakers are his friends, his brethren—He re­joices in their joy, he weeps for their misfortunes, he supports them in their distress; his friendship ex­tends to the whole human race, it is his family, and he delights in doing good to all its members. May such principles spread and be imitated, and practised by all. But they will find no imitators until men shall boldly adopt the simplicity of the Quakers, for luxury cannot be humane. The income of a Croesus will always be exceeded by his expences; the man who sacrifices to pleasure, rarely enjoys the luxury of doing good.

[Page 48]Three great vices, or rather crimes, have introduced all the evils that afflict the earth; such as despotism, war, and public or private injustice: They are am­bition, covetousness, and luxury—Are not the Qua­kers, who renounce power, free from Ambition? What object could inspire covetousness amongst people who despise luxury*? This then is the sect for those States which would banish despotism, and all other po­litical crimes. It is the sect for republics; It is the sect for monarchies; In a word, it is the sect for hu­manity. Since if Quakerism were universal, all man­kind would form but one loving and harmonious fa­mily.

And yet this is the people you calumniate! but I am not surprised at it; the Quakers detest the military art, and you are a soldier. They undervalue what we call wit, and you have displayed your pretensions to it; you are a member of the royal academy! They preach equality of men and ranks, and you are a man of quality .

While I was concluding this article, in defence of the Quakers, and when it was almost printed off, a Penn­sylvanian, who sincerely esteems, because he is well ac­quainted with them, and who is much concerned at your reflections upon them, sent me the following ob­servations —I shall translate them in their own simple strength, without a comment; they alone would have been sufficient to refute your assertions.

"The reputation of this sect is founded upon a mul| [Page 49] of claims upon an austerity of manners, and steadiness of principle, unequalled by any other, and particu­larly upon the good they have done within this centu­ry in America."

"The British act of Parliament, which allows the simple affirmation of the Quakers in civil cases, ex­empting them from the oath which is required of all other sects, is the fullest eulogium upon their principles, their morals, and their constancy."

"Upon an attentive examination of the constitutions of their churches, schools, hospitals and other charita­ble institutions, there appears a degree of philanthro­phy that should disarm envy and ridicule."

"What father, acquainted with their manner of educating the youth, would not prefer it to that of every other sect."

"I know of no sect, which has so many intelligent, and even learned members of both sexes. The en­franchisement of the Negroes, now a part of their re­ligious discipline, is one of the noblest monuments ever erected to humanity."

"Beneficence, a general characteristic of the Qua­kers, shone with peculiar lustre in the good John Fo­thergill, who spent his life in healing the sick, in as­sisting and comforting the miserable. This was the first man who thought of teaching the wretched in­habitants of the coast of Guinea to plant the sugar­cane, instead of cultivating it for the whites in a strange land.*"

[Page 50]"But surely calumny should cease to persecute the Quakers, at the appearance of Anthony Benezet, whose whole life was consecrated to the service of his fellow creatures; humble, plain, unostentatious, regardless of ridicule, danger, or prejudice, he was continually employed in serving others, rarely him­self."

"He died universally regretted, in 1784. The citizens of Philadelphia attended his funeral; and up­wards of four hundred Negroes, who owed him their liberty, and whom he had instructed himself, bedewed his coffin with their tears. This benefact­or of the blacks, desirous to serve them even after his death, left his whole fortune for the support of the schools he had established for their instruction, with a view to make them more worthy of that free­dom which had been granted them by the excellent law of 1780."

"It is also to his zeal in part, that we are indebt­ed for the existence of the society lately instituted for facilitating the manumission of the blacks, and protecting those who are, or may become free."

You knew, Sir, you conversed with this wonder­ful person, this angelic benefactor of mankind, and yet you ventured to traduce the Quakers! Did not his spirit confuse your imagination, while your pen was falsifying his brethren, those whom he che­rished and led by the hand; did not your own heart ask you, can Benezet belong to a band of rogues and hypocrites? Is it possible that his noble reply on your telling him of our rich livings, of an hundred thou­sand [Page 51] livres a year "that would build a great many hospitals." Is it possible I say that this itself could not disarm your rigor? It does not indicate the warm benevolence of one man only, it breathes the spirit of his brethren. Such fervency is not to be found in a declining sect; it no longer inspires it. Bene­zet could not have been the member of a corrupt­ed body. His fervent charity would form too striking a contrast to the selfishness of hypocrisy.


First let me repeat your longest section relative to that people.

‘Below this class of inhabitants, (the whites of no property, in Virginia,) we must rank the Negroes, who would be still more to be pitied, if their natu­ral insensibility did not in some measure alleviate the wretchedness inseparable from slavery. Seeing them ill lodged, ill clothed, and often overcome with la­bour, I concluded that their treatment had been as rigorous as it is elsewhere. Notwithstanding I have been assured that it is very mild, compared to what they suffer in the Sugar Colonies. And indeed one does not hear habitually, as at Jamaica and St. Do­mingo, the sound of whips, and the outcries of the wretched beings, whose bodies are torn piece meal by their strokes. It is because the people of Virginia are commonly milder than those of the Sugar Colonies, which consist chiefly of rapacious men, eager to amass fortunes, as soon as possible, and return to Europe. The produce of their labours being also less valuable, their tasks are not so rigorously exacted, and in justice to both, it must be allowed that the Negroes them­selves are less treacherous and thievish, than they are in the Islands: for the propagation of the black speices being very considerable here, most of them are born in the country, and it is remarked that these are in general less depraved than those import­ed from Africa. Besides, we must do the Virgini­ans the justice to remark, that many of them treat [Page 52] their Negroes with a great deal of humanity, and what is still more to their honor, they appear sorry there are any among them, and are forever talking of abolishing slavery, and falling upon some other mode of improving their lands, &c.’

‘However this may be, it is fortunate that differ­ent motives concur to deter mankind from exercis­ing such tyranny, at least upon their own species, if we cannot say, strictly speaking, their equals; for the more we observe the Negroes, the more we are con­vinced that the difference between us does not lie in the colour alone, &c.’

‘Enough upon this subject, which has not escaped the attention of the politicians and philosophers of the present age: I have only to apologize for treating it without declaimation; but I have al­ways thought, that eloquence can only influence the resolutions of the moment, and that every thing which requires time, must be the work of reason. And besides, it will be an easy matter to add ten or twelve pages to these few reflections, which may be considered as a concert composed only of prin­cipal parts, con corni ad libitum.

Upon reading this passage attentively, I was sur­prised to find it contain a singular mixture of contra­dictory principles, and in the same breath, the senti­timents of a philosopher and of a colonist; of an ad­vocate for the Negroes, and of their enemy.

It is evident that as a philosopher, and a friend to humanity, you are inclined to alleviate the lot of the Negroes, and commend those who do so; but this tenderness itself conceals a subtile venom that ought to be exposed. For you only bestow your pity upon the Negroes, while you owe them, if you are a philoso­pher, vindication and defence; you wish their masters to be humane; they ought to be just. Instead of praising such humanity, you ought to have blamed them for stopping there, in short, such a contempt for the Negroes pervades this whole article, as will necessarily encourage their tormentors to rivet their [Page 53] chains. Is not this contempt observable, for instance, in the very first period?

"Below this class of inhabitants (the meanest whites of Virginia) we must rank the Negroes, who would be still more to be pitied, if their natural in­sensibility did not in some measure alleviate the wretched­ness inseparable from slavery."

And who told you, Sir, that nature had created the Negroes with less feeling than other men? do you judge so because they have vegetated for three cen­turies in European fetters, and at this day have not altogether shaken off the horrid yoke? But do not their frequent risings, and the cruelties they from time to time retaliate upon their masters, give the lie to this natural insensibility? for an insensible being has no resentment. If he does not feel, how should he remember? Do you think the wretched Indians, who, since the discovery of the new world, are bu­ried in the mines of Peru, are also naturally insensi­ble, because they suffer patiently?

You calumniate nature in making her grant fa­vours to particulars; in giving her a system of ine­quality among her offspring. All men are cast in the same mould—The varieties which distinguish in­dividuals, are the sports of chance, or the result of different circumstances; but the black comes into the the world with as much sensibility as the white, the Peruvian, as the European.

What then degrades this natural and moral sensi­bility? The greater or less privation of liberty; in pro­portion as man loses it, he loses the powers of sen­sation; he looses the man; he sickens or becomes a brute. It is slavery alone which can reduce a man to a level with the brute creation, and sometimes de­prives him of all sensibility; but you blame nature, that kind parent, who would have us all equal, free and happy, for the crime of social barbarity, and you pass by this crime, to extenuate another, to extenuate the horrid torments of slavery! Not satisfied with violating nature, by abusing her offspring, even in her name, you encourage slave-holders to torment them.

[Page 54]Do you not arm their tyrants, when you tell them, the insensibility of the Negroes alleviates their tor­ments?

What! because greatness of soul raised Sidney a­bove the terrors of death, the infernal Jefferies * who caused his execution, was less guilty! because the Quakers appeared insensible to insults, blows, or punishments, they are less to be pitied, and it was right to martyr them! A dangerous notion, whose consequences I am sure you would disapprove. If this insensibility with which you reproach the Ne­groes mitigated the cruelty of their masters, it were well: but their tormentors do not wish them not to feel; they would have them all feeling, for the plea­sure of torturing them; and their punishments are increased in proportion to their insensibility.

"Seeing the Negroes, say you, "ill lodged, ill cloathed, and often overcome with labour, I conclu­ded that their treatment had been as rigorous as it is elsewhere. Notwithstanding I have been assured that it is very mild, compared to what they suffer in the Sugar Colonies."

Why this comparison, which seems to insinuate a justification of the Virginians? does a misfortune cease to be such, because there is a greater elsewhere? Was Cartouche less detestable because Brinvilliers had existed before him? Let us not weaken by com­parisons the idea of criminality, nor lessen the atten­tion due to the miserable, this were to countenance the crime. The Negroes are ill lodged, ill cloathed, oppressed with labour in Virginia: this is the fact, this is the offence. It matters not whether they are worse treated elsewhere; in whatever degree they are so in Virginia, it is still outrage and injustice.

And again, why are the Negroes of Virginia less [Page 55] cruelly treated? Humanity is not the motive, it is be­cause covetousness cannot obtain so much from their la­bours, as in the Sugar Islands. Was it otherwise, they would be sacrificed to it here, as well as there; how can we praise such forced humanity? how, on the contrary, not give vent to all the indignation, which must naturally arise in every feeling mind?

"And to do justice to both, you add, if the Vir­ginians are not so severe, it is because the Negroes themselves are less treacherous and thievish than in the islands, because the propagation of the black spe­cies being very considerable here, most of the Ne­groes are born in the country, and it is remarked, that these are in general less depraved than those imported from Africa."

Here is a strange confusion of causes and effects, and a strange abuse of words. First let us clear up the facts. Here are some valuable ones for the cause of the Negroes.

You say they are not so thievish in Virginia, pro­pagate faster, and are less depraved: Why? Because they are less cruelly treated—Here is the cause and the effect, you have mistaken one for the other.

We must conclude from this fact, that if the Vir­ginians were no longer severe, and should treat the blacks like fellow-creutures, they would not be more vicious than their white servants.

The degree of oppression is the measure of what is improperly called the viciousness of the slaves.— The more cruel their tyrants, the more treacherous, villainous and cruel are the slaves in return—Can we wonder that Macronius should assassinate his ma­ster Tiberius? This viciousness is a punishment that heaven inflicts upon tyranny.

Can the efforts of a slave for the recovery of his liberty, be denominated vicious or criminal? From the moment you violate the laws of nature, in regard to them, why should not they shake them off in their relative duties to you? You rob them of their liberty, and you would not have them steal your gold! You whip and cruelly torment them, and expect them not [Page 56] to struggle for deliverance! You assassinate them eve­ry day, and expect them not to assassinate you once! You call your outrages, rights, and the courage which repulses them, a crime! What a confusion of ideas! what horrid logic!

And you, sir, a humane philosopher! are accessary to this injustice, by describing the blacks in the style of a dealer in human flesh! You call what are no more than natural consequences of the compression of the spring of liberty—treachery, theft and depravation*. But can a natural consequence be criminal? Remove the cause, or is it not the only crime?

For my part, sir, I firmly believe, that the barba­rities committed by the Negroes, not merely against their masters, but even against others, will be attribut­ed at the bar of eternal justice, to the slave-holders, and those infamous persons employed in the Guinea trade. I firmly believe, that no human justice has the right of putting a Negro slave to death for any crime whatever, because not being free, he is not sui juris, and should be regarded as a child or an idiot, being almost always under the lash. I be­lieve that the real criminal, the cause of the crime, is the man who first seized him, sold him, or enslaved him—And if ever I should fall under the knife of an unhappy runaway, I would not resent it upon him, but upon those white men who keep blacks in slavery. I would tell them, your cruelty towards your Negroes, has endangered my life—they execrate you, they take me for a tyrant because I am white like you, and the vengeance due to your crimes has fallen upon me.

God forbid, however, that I should undertake to encourage the blacks to take up arms against their [Page 57] masters! God forbid, however, that I should under­take to justify the excesses to which their resentments have sometimes hurried them, and which have often fallen on persons who were not accessary to their wretchedness! The slavery under which they groan, must be abolished by peaceable means; and thanks to the active spirit of benevolence which animates the Quakers, the prious undertaking is already begun. In most of the United States of America, the yoke has been taken from their necks; in others the Gui­nea-trade has been prohibited. Societies have been formed both at Paris and London, to collect and cir­culate information upon this interesting subject, to induce the European governments to put a stop to the Negro trade, and provide for their gradual eman­cipation in the West-India islands: No doubt success will crown their views, and the friends of liberty will enjoy the satisfaction of communicating its blessings to the blacks.

But the blacks must wait for the happy moment that shall restore them to civil life, in silence and in peace; they must rely upon the unwearied diligence and zeal of the numerous writers who advocate their cause, and the efforts of the humane to second their endea­vours; they must strive to justify and support the argu­ments that are adduced in their favour, by displaying virtue in the very bosom of slavery; they must en­deavour, in a word, to render themselves worthy of liberty, that they may know how to use it when it shall be restored to them; for liberty itself is some­times a burthen, when slavery has stupified the soul.

Such blacks, therefore, as are so inconsiderate as to be concerned in insurrections, are guilty of retard­ing the execution of the general plan for their eman­cipation; for the question is not, at the present day, whether a million of slaves ought to be set at liberty, but whether they can when free, be put into a capa­city of providing for the subsistence of themselves and their families. Insurrections, far from effecting this purpose, would destroy the means. Regard, therefore, to their own interests, if there were no [Page 58] other motive, should therefore engage the blacks to patient submission, and no doubt but they will yield it, if their masters and the ministers of the gospel in particular, to whom the task of comforting and in­structing them, is committed, endeavour to prepare them for approaching freedom.

You sir, have adopted the vulgar notion, that the Negroes born in Virginia, are less depraved than those imported from Africa. You call the firmness which is common in the early stages of their slavery, greater degeneracy; they are depraved, that is, in your lan­guage —they are wicked and treacherous to those who have purchased them, or brought them from their own country—But in my mind, they are not depra­ved, because the acts of violence their genius in­spires them to revenge themselves upon their tyrants, are justified by the rights of nature.

And why are those imported, more wicked in your opinion? In mine, more quick, more ardent in their resentments? because, not having forgotten their former situation, they feel their loss the more sensibly; and having strong ideas, their resolutions are more firm and their actions more violent, they not having yet contracted the habits of slavery.

They soon fall into that degree of apathy and in­sensibility, which you unjustly believe to be natural to them; that is, in your language, they become less depraved; but I would say that their depravity begins with this apathy and weakness—For depravity is the loss of nature, and the want of those virtues inhe­rent in man, courage and the love of liberty. Our readers may judge from this article, how strangely writers have wrested words to condemn these unhap­py Negroes, and the unfortunate in general.

I do not, however, pretend to say, that the Ne­groes of Africa are all good, or even that many of them are not depraved. But is this fact to be impu­ted to them as a personal crime? Ought you not ra­ther to have ascribed it to the foreign source by which they are corrupted. Alike in them and in the whites, [Page 59] the depravity of man is a consequence of his wretched­ness, and the usurpation of his rights, Wherever he is free and at ease, he is good; wherever the con­trary, he is wicked. Neither his nature nor the cli­mate corrupt him, but the government of his coun­try. Now that of the Negroes is almost universally despotic, such as must necessarily debase and corrupt the Negro.

How much is the depravity, occasioned by the go­vernment of his country, encreased by his second slavery, far worse than the first—for he is no longer among friends in his native land—surrounded by the pleasing scenes of his childhood, he is among monsters who are going to live by, and trade in his blood, and has nothing before his eyes but death, or oppression equivalent to an endless punishment.

How is it possible such horrid prospects should not fire his soul? How, if chance should present him with arms and liberty, should he resist using them, to put an end to his own existence, or that of his torment­ors? What white man would be less cruel in his situ­ation? Truly I think myself of a humane disposition, that I love my fellow-creatures and detest the effusion of blood; but if ever a villain, white or black, should snatch me from my freedom, my family, and my friends; should overwhelm me with outrages and blows, to gra­tify his caprice, should extend his barbarities to my wife and children—My blood boils at the thought— perhaps in a transport of revenge * * * * * * * If such vengeance would be lawful in me, what makes the Negro more guilty? Why should that be called wickedness and depravity in him, which would be stiled virtue in me, in you, in every white man? Are not my rights the same as his? Is not nature our common parent? God his father as well as mine? His conscience an infallible guide as well as mine? Let us then no longer make other laws for the blacks than those we are bound by ourselves, since Heaven has placed them on a level with us, has made them like us, since they are our brethren and our fellow-creatures.

Here you stop me, you say that the Negro is not our fellow-creature, that he is below the white.

[Page 60]How could so shocking an opinion escape the pen of a member of the Royal Academy, a writer who would be thought a friend of mankind!

Do not you see the tormentors of St. Domingo, avail themselves of it already, redoubling their strokes, and regarding their slaves as mere machines, like the Cartesians do the brutes? They are not our fellow-crea­tures will they say: a philosopher of Paris has proved it.

What! the blacks not our equals! Have not they eyes, ears, a shape, and organs like ours? Does na­ture follow another order, other laws for them?— Have not they speech, that peculiar characteristic of humanity? But then the colour! What of that? Are the pale white Albinos, the olive or copper coloured Indians also of different species! Who does not know that colour is accidental. They are not our equals! Have not they the same faculties—reason, memory, imagination? Yes, you reply, but they have written no books. Who told you so? Who told you there were no learned blacks? And supposing it were so, if none but authors are men, the whole human race is different from us.

Shall I tell you why there are no authors or men of learning among the Negroes? What has made you what you are? Education and circumstances!— Now where are the Negroes favoured by either? Consider them wherever they are to be found—In Africa, wretchedly enslaved by domestic tyrants; in our islands perpetual martyrs; in the southern Uni­ted States, the meanest of slaves; in the northern, domestics; in Europe, universally contemned, every where proscribed, like the Jews; in a word, every where in a state of debasement.

I have been told that there are blacks of property, in the northern parts of America; but these, like the other settlers, are no more than sensible farmers or traders—There are no authors among them, because there are few rich and idle people in America*.

[Page 61]What spring of action could raise a Negro from his debased condition? the road to glory and honor is impassible to him: What then should he write for? Besides, the blacks have reason to detest the sciences, for their oppressors cultivate them but they do not make them better.

Shall we say that the Indians or Arabs are not our equals, because they despise both our arts and our sciences? or the Quakers, because they neither re­spect academies nor wits?

In short, if you will deny the Negroes souls, ener­gy, sensibility, gratitude or beneficence, I oppose you to yourself, I might quote your own anecdote of Mr. Langdon's Negro, and abundance of other well known facts in favour of the blacks. You may find some striking ones in the Abbé Raynals' philosophi­cal history. One of them would have been sufficient. The Negroe who killed himself when his master who had injured him was in his power, was superior to Epictetus, and the existence of a single Negro of so sublime a character, ennobles all his kind.

But how could you judge whether the blacks were different from the whites, who saw them only in a state of slavery and wretchedness? Do we estimate beauty by the figure of a Laplander? magnanimity by the soul of a courtier? or intelligence by the stu­pidity of an Esquimaux?

If the traces of humanity were so much weakened and effaced in the Negroes, that you did not recog­nize them, I conclude not that they do not belong to our species, but that they must have been cruelly tor­mented to reduce them to this state of degeneracy. I do not conclude that they are not men, but that the Europeans who kidnap the blacks, are not wor­thy of the name.

You consider what precautions it may be necessary to take to avoid the danger which might attend a ge­neral emancipation of the Negroes.

I shall not now enter into a discussion of this nice question, but reserve it for another work: yet I must say in a word, that the Negroes will never be our [Page 62] friends, will never be men, until they are possessed of all our rights, until we are upon an equality. Civil liberty is the boundary between good and evil, order and disorder, happiness and misery, ignorance and knowledge. If we would make the Negroes worthy of us, we must raise them to our level by giving them this liberty.

Thus, the chief inconvenience you expect will fol­low the emancipation of the Negroes, may be avoid­ed; that although free, they will remain a distinct species, a distinct and dangerous body.

This objection will vanish when we intermix with them, and boldly efface every distinction. Unless this is the case, I foresee torrents of blood spilt and the earth disputed between the whites and blacks, as America was between the Europeans and Savages.

Perhaps, and it is no extravagant idea—perhaps it might be more prudent, more humane, to send the blacks back again to their native country, settle them there, encourage their industry, and assist them to form connections with Europe and America. The cele­brated doctor Fothergill conceived this plan, and the society for the abolition of slavery, at London, have carried it into exccution at Sierra Leona. Time and perseverance, will discover the policy and utility of this settlement. If it should succeed, the blacks will quit America insensibly, and Sierra Leona become the centre from whence general civilization will spread over all Africa.

Perhaps, sir, you will place these thoughts upon the Negroes with those declamations you are pleased to ridicule: But what is the epithet of declaimer to me, if I am right, if I make an impression upon my read­ers, if I dart remorse into the breast of a single slave-holder; in a word, if I contribute to accelerate the general impulse toward liberty.

You disapprove the application of eloquence to this subject; you think nothing can affect it but the exer­tions of cool reason. What is eloquence but the lan­guage of reason and sensibility? When man is op­pressed, he struggles, he complains, he moves our passions, and bears down all opposition. Such eloquence [Page 63] can perform wonders, and should be employed by those who undertake to plead the cause of the unfortu­nate who spend their days in continual agony, or he will make no impression—I do not conceive how any man can display wit instead of feeling, upon this distracting subject, amuse with an antithesis, instead of forcible reasoning, and only dazzle where he ought to warm. I have no conception how a sensible and thinking being, can see a fellow-creature tortured and torn to pieces, perhaps his poor wife bathe in tears, with a wretched infant sucking her shriveled breast at his side; I say I have no conception how he can behold such a sight, with indifference; how, unagonized and unconvulsed with rage and indignation, he can have the barbarity to descend to jesting! Notwithstanding, your observa­tions upon the Negroes, conclude with a jest.

"It will be an easy matter, say you, to add ten or twelve pages to these few reflections, which may be considered as a concert, composed only of princi­pal parts, "con corni ad libitum."

I hope there is nothing cruel, because there is no­thing studied in this connection, this inconsiderate manner: but how could such a comparison come into the head of a man of feeling? It is the sad effect of wit, as I said before; it contracts the soul. Ever glancing over agreeable objects, it is unfeeling when intruded upon by wretchedness—uneasy to obliterate the shocking idea, and elude the groans of nature, it rids itself of both by a jest. The humane Benezet would never have connected this idea of harmony with the sound of a Negro driver's whip.

Having proved that you have wronged the Quak­ers and the Negroes, I shall proceed to shew that you have equally injured mankind and the people.


I might quote several passages on this subject, but the following, which is one of the most striking, will be sufficient. After giving a description of an Irish­man, [Page 64] who had treated you with a good dinner, you proceed.

‘He was polite and attentive, and his wife, a de­licate, pretty woman, had nothing of the peasant in her air or manners; for the Virginian, though in the midst of the woods, and cares of a country life, bears no resemblance to the European Peasant—He is universally a free man, who has his share in the government, and possesses some Negro slaves; so that he enjoys the double title of Citizen and Master; in which respect he is quite on a footing with the generality of those who composed that order which was called the People in the ancient republics, a Peo­ple very different from those of the present day; but who have been very improperly confounded in all those trifling declamations, wherein our would-be philo­sophical writers, by not making a proper distinction between ancient and modern times, have mistaken the word People for Mankind in general; and have really been liberal in their praises to tyrants, when they meant to defend the cause of humanity: num­berless are the opinions which require correction! numberless are the words, whose proper meaning is yet undefined! The favourite phrase of the dig­nity of man, has long been made use of; and yet this dignity of man is merely comparative; if applied to individuals, it depends on the rank they hold in life. Thus, the inferior station of the common people, gives dignity to the nobility, that of the slave to the freeman, and that of the blacks to the whites.’

‘If we apply it in a general sense, it will make men tyrannical and cruel to the animal creation; and thus, by destroying universal beneficence, will counteract the order and designs of nature—On what founda­tion then shall reason, freed from sophistry and de­clamation, fix her seat? On an equality of rights, on the general good, which is to predominate over every thing else; on the good of individuals as united with the good of the whole; and on that order in so­ciety, as absolutely necessary as the symmetry of a [Page 65] bee-hive, &c.—If these sentiments are unfavourable to eloquence, we shall lose nothing by it; for a good system of morality is certainly preferable to an ele­gant one .’

And so, sir, you think the people of the present day, are a very different set of beings from the peo­ple of old times, and of consequence, more disposed to and fit for slavery—And you blame our philoso­phers too, for putting the people of our day more on a level with those of antiquity, and for asserting, that the only difference between them, is owing to the government they live under—Your conclusions, though not avowed, are, that the people of the pre­sent day are to be kept in a state of the severest thraldom—for you assert that their vices and follies are more numerous, and that their depravity is irre­mediable.

Now, I maintain, that these sentiments are false and detrimental to the people, whom you have thus tra­duced. You have already had my creed on this head. I believe that men receive their character, almost en­tirely from the nature of the government they live un­der —And that liberty exalts them, while the want of it hastens their degeneracy. I believe that the ignorant Barbarian slave, who receives his existence on the banks of the Bosphorus, would have been an enlight­ened republican, had he been born at Philadelphia. I shall not affront you by bringing proofs in support of my assertions: They are proved by the history of every nation in the world, and who can be supposed better acquainted with history than the author of la Felicité Publique?

We may conclude then, that there is no more natural distinction between the ancients and mo­derns, than there is between the whites and the blacks; and that those which do exist, are merely ac­cidental —Transport the government of Athens to Constantinople, and those very Turks who now [Page 66] appear so like barbarians, would equal the Athenians in valour, patriotism and knowledge. Liberty would animate these machines. The mine is prepared, the combustibles are all ready, nothing but the spark is wanting.

Cease then to vilify the people of the present day; drive them not to a state of desperation; but rather try to encourage them, by showing them that their state of degradation is owing to a cause which may be remov­ed; and that when it is removed, they will become men.

I must confess, I do not rightly understand your meaning, when you say, that the defenders of the People of our days, have been liberal of their praises to tyrants; this is saying, that Locke, Sidney, Price, Rousseau, Helvetius and Raynal, have commended them; for these writers too, have unfortunately been of opinion, that the People of modern times will be quite on a footing with the ancients, when they shall be placed in the same situation.

But I can clearly see, that your system is far more favourable to the real oppressors of mankind; for by teaching them to consider the people of the present times as unworthy of liberty, and incapable of en­joying it; that the people, and mankind in general are daily degenerating, and will continue to do so, even if the cause of their degeneracy were removed— I say, by teaching such pretended truths as these, you encourage their oppressors to continue their servitude.

But your system is utterly false; the revolution of America has clearly proved it to be so: for the chief actors of this revolution, are the descendants of En­glishmen, (who were oppressed by the Stuarts,) or of German slaves.

You think to exalt the Americans by putting them on a level with the Greeks and Romans: for my part, I think them vastly superior to those ancient nations; But I do not mean to prove my assertion at present—I shall now content myself with just men­tioning my sentiments on this head; and on a future occasion demonstrate, that the men of the present age, so far from having degenerated, will be superior to their predecessors, when placed in a more favourable situation.

[Page 67]After having decried the people of the present age, you go on to vilify mankind, and the dignity of man, which you look upon as merely comparative, and of course, you reckon up the different degrees of the dignity of man. According to your ideas on this subject, we have one or two hundred kinds of dignity in Europe, such as the dignity of a Duke, of a Baron, of a Marquis, of a Bailly, &c. &c. What abuse of words! and what an abominable system is here con­cealed —How can you, who are a philosopher, believe in the natural dignity of a nobleman above a plebei­an, of a freeman above a slave, or of a white-man above a black? How could it escape you, that these different degrees of dignity, were but so many degrees of injustice and usurpation? How could you maintain the first, after having read in the different con­stitutions of America, that all men are born free, equal, and independent ; and after having offered to shed your blood in defence of such principles? You will scarcely maintain that they are not universally true; for surely no magic can make any principle true, on the banks of the Delaware, and false on the borders of the Seine. I know that these prejudices about distinctions still subsist in Europe; but how very unbecoming is it for a philosopher to be led away by prejudices, and to go so far, as to add new force to them by his wri­tings.

And how could you make mention of the names of Plebeian and Patrician—those fatal distinctions, which brought on all the misfortunes and commotions of the Roman republic; distinctions, which involved Rome in perpetual wars, that were favourable to aristocratic power; which inspired her with the lust of conquest, and hurried her on to a despotic go­vernment? If Rome had been acquainted with, and had adopted that natural and sacred equality which the Americans have made one of the pillars of their [Page 68] constitutions, her existence would certainly have been of a much longer duration. It was with a view to these principles, that I just now said, the Americans were superior to the Romans.

The dignity of the freeman, compared with that of the slave, has at first sight, something more plausi­ble in it; and yet it is a mere chimera: For by na­ture they both possess an equal degree of dignity; their natural rights are the same—Slavery may de­prive a man of the use of his rights and dignity, but it cannot deprive him of his title to them. The free­man should esteem himself happy in being free, but he should at the same time, sympathize with his fellow-creatures who are in slavery, and not entertain any ideas of self-superiority. The mean slave who glories in his situation, is the only proper object of contempt.

But what can you mean by that strange kind of dignity which you have invented to raise the whites above the blacks? What title is there to be found for this dignity and superiority? What author has men­tioned it? Have not the blacks on the coast of Gui­nea, who are robbed of their gold dust, their gums, and their children, by European pilferers, as good a reason for arrogating to themselves a dignity and a superiority over the whites?

Away, sir, with these contracted ideas of dignity and inequality; they are far more likely than that general or specific dignity which you find fault with, to inspire men with sentiments of tyranny and cru­elty towards their fellow-creatures. These answer no other end, but that of perpetuating continental, national, civil and personal animosities; and of ren­dering the earth the scene of eternal discord and blood-shed. For the antiquity of this inequality, can be of no force in depriving us of our rights or of our sentiments. It prevents no one from being sen­sible, that he is, by birth, equal to the man who enjoys the most elevated station; it prevents no one from detesting, according to his feelings, the man who vi­olates this equality, by ruining or debasing his fellow-creatures.

[Page 69]This is no new doctrine—Rousseau had taught it, and Locke and Sidney had taught it before him: It was their opinion also, that the wars and crimes of mankind were owing to this inequality, this compa­rative dignity which you are so liberal in your prais­es of, which you cherish and deify, under the appel­lation of order and symmetry—you, the champion for equality amongst the Americans! And yet, you who have drawn your sword in support of the digni­ty of man, are ignorant of the meaning of the term! read over, once more, the first section of the con­stitution of Pennsylvania; you will there find a clear and sublime definition of this term, which now ap­pears to you so obscure and indeterminate; and which you blame the philosophers for having made an improper use of. The dignity of man consists in his liberty, in his equality of rights, in his indepen­dence, in being subject to no laws, but those which are made by his own consent; in the controul whith he exercises over those to whom he has dele­gated authority. The dignity of man consists, more­over, in the perfect developement of his moral and intellectual faculties, in his efforts to discover, and promulgate truth—It consists, in a word, in great ideas, in a steady and determined resolution. The mere man of the world, who is from his very infancy sur­rounded by narrow prejudices, and appearances, which he is continually obliged to give up to, who is always conversant with men of confined sentiments, and void of resolution; the mere man of the world, I say, possesses not this dignity; I do not mean to affirm that this principle has not been implanted in his breast, or that it cannot expand itself when a fa­vourable opportunity offers; but when suppressed, it languishes and withers—It is revivified by medita­tion, by the electrifying power of vigorous minds, by holding converse with the mighty dead, by continual­ly studying those histories, which afford the noble spectacle of an individual opposing a tyrant. All these supports afforded to man, fill his mind with exalted [Page 70] sentiments, impel him to the pursuit of noble objects, and determine him boldly to resolve on performing every thing that is good and sublime. Having thus explained to you the theory of what I mean by the dignity of man, I shall shew you, by a few examples, where it has been realized.—A Hampden, suffer­ing imprisonment, rather than pay an illegal tax; A Sidney, ascending the scaffold * with composure; A Locke, unfolding his ideas on civil government; A Rousseau, writing his social compact; A Franklin, undergoing his examination with wisdom and firm­ness, before the British Parliament; A Warren, breathing his last in the cause of liberty, at Bunker's Hill; A Burke, prosecuting the destroyer of the Rohillas, and Tyrant of the Indies — These are great examples, and illustrious monuments, of the dignity of man; if you cannot perceive it in such ex­amples, I pity you—There are those who will rea­dily discover it, men, who have not lost the sense of their native greatness, and of their rights. The English nation, but more certainly the Americans, will easily discover it; numbers of them undoubtedly will sigh on reading this inconsiderate attack of yours against the dignity of man: They will naturally en­quire, why you went to America, since you do not believe in the dignity of man; since you are only for comparative dignities, which they are either unac­quainted with, or hold in contempt; and finally, since you are for an inequality of rank, which they have excluded, from a belief of its being the source of all political evils.

This is not the only passage, wherein you discover your contempt for the People; it is manifest else­where. For instance, you describe the People of Pennsylvania, as being more inclined to anarchy, than democracy. I shall not now attempt to discuss the motives which dictated this reflection upon the inha­bitants [Page 71] of Pennsylvania, who appear to me, to have in part realized the idea of as perfect a democracy, as it is possible to conceive, although perhaps it is too refin­ed for the present state of things. This is certain, that the word anarchy, has been hitherto greatly abused. But I reserve my sentiments on this abuse of words, for another work.

I have now finished the unpleasing task I imposed myself, in the beginning of this letter. I think I have proved, that you have calumniated the Quakers, the Negroes, the People and Mankind.

I ought perhaps to extend my observations to upon the other numerous errors contained in your tra­vels; they must be dangerous under the sanction of your name. None of them are uninteresting: but I was not made for a critic, it is too painful an occupa­tion for me. I shall therefore confine myself to a few remarks upon some of your sentiments, and such anecdotes as appeared most striking.

To begin with your opinion on the art of war. You have principally applied yourself to a descripti­on of the different engagements which have effected the American revolution. You think these descrip­tions useful for military men, that they will be par­ticularly so to those of America; and by the compla­cence with which you treat the subject, we perceive that it is your favourite art, and that you believe it very necessary to society, especially in a republic.

I am entirely of a different opinion, and indepen­dent of the uncertainty, and inutility of such descrip­tions, * I seriously believe that the military art tends to the advancement of aristocracy, and consequent­ly ought to be banished from republics. I will not enter into those declamations, with which philosophers are reproached, when they write upon it, and shall advance nothing but well attested facts.

[Page 72]The moment you make war a profession, you con­stitute a body of men who are constantly engaged in it, study it, teach it, and consequently forsake com­merce and agriculture; they must therefore be maintained by their fellow citizens.

Those who possess this art, will employ it to ac­quire fame or wealth, they consequently desire, and foment hostilities: but republics ought to shun war, and especially the spirit of it.

If this art is not employed abroad, it will be at home.

As the military form a distinct body, they think themselves superior to their fellow-citizens, especi­ally those who are peaceable. The prejudice en­creases; it renders some insolent, and debases others.

The military art diminishes true courage. It is to nations what fencing is to individuals. It supplies the place of true courage, but does not inspire it. But it is with courage only that republics must defend themselves from foreign attacks.

When men shall be thoroughly inspired with the love of liberty, and accustomed to exercise it in its full ex­tent, they will possess a spirit no military art can sub­due. The man who exclaims I will die or be free, has no master; the nation that repeats it, is no longer en­slaved. A conqueror might massacre them all, but he could not make himself master of a single individual. Such courage does not need the support of art or fortifications*. It can support itself.

The real strength of a republic, depends upon the insuperable attachment of its members to liberty and their rights. Possessing this, the republican repels every attack, he soon learns the military art, he har­rasses and overcomes all his enemies: Witness many of the American generals, whose virtues and abilities you acknowledge. The greatest part of them had ne­ver handled a musquet; they had been merchants, far­mers, [Page 73] physicians, book-sellers. Witness Warren, Knox, Morgan, Greene, and the infamous Arnold, whose talents should have ornamented the soul of a patriot. And no wonder that republicans so speedily acquire military skill. The preservation of their li­berties engages every faculty; a more powerful in­centive than the pay of mercenaries, or even the distinctions of European armies. This is the reason that one or two years experience, and two or three defeats, instruct republicans more than twenty or thirty years spent in the service of other govern­ments.

Animated by the love of liberty, republican soldi­ers are more patient, and bear fatigue better than hi­red troops. Witness your own commendations of the American soldiers, who always fought bravely, although ill paid, ill provided for, ill cloathed, and unaccustomed to the business. You allow that they soon learned to serve the artillery, that their bar­racks were of the best construction, that they were brave, &c. &c. &c. What produced these wonders? The love of liberty. While they preserve it, they will have nothing to fear, and the military art will be useless to them.

They will do well to remember the battles you de­scribe, not to study the plans or circumstances of them, but as splendid monuments erected to liberty. If they are ever obliged to reassume their arms, the same genius will inspire them without this study.

In a word, every individual of a republic, should be brave, should be a soldier, by birth the defender of his country; but none should be so by profes­sion.

Republics have no more need of standing armies, than of magistrates, or representatives for life; which introduce war and corruption, with despotism in their train.

[Page 74]You, Sir, no doubt think differently, you love war, and boast that it is the passion of our countrymen: We love war, you cry with an air of triumph; so much the worse; I see no reason to boast of disease: The real prosperity of France will depend upon the abatement of this passion for war.

You also compliment us on another account, less fatal perhaps, but of dangerous influence upon our manners and constitutions; I mean the taste for ridi­cule, for which you are a warm advocate, and lavish it upon every thing: You think good epigrams are made no where but in France, and a Frenchman ne­ver suffers himself to be outdone in this point, so much the worse; Asia has produced the best fabu­lists.

All our great wits have repeated from Horace, that ridicule is an excellent weapon. Ridiculum acre magnas plerumque secat res. But Horace wrote un­der Augustus—Let me give you my reasons for hating and proscribing ridicule:

Ridicule accustoms us to laugh at abuses which ought to excite indignation; it produces nothing but a volatile sensation, which passes off without any du­rable exertions to remove the evil: The epigram is soon forgotten, but the complaint remains.

It is otherwise with a grave people, accustomed to reflection in forming a judgment of things: When a writer has demonstrated to such a people, the exist­ence and effects of a public evil; convinced and alarm­ed, they interest themselves in it, and the govern­ment perceives and corrects its error.

To reform a people therefore, they must be reclaim­ed from the rage for ridicule, and brought back to cool reasoning. Ridicule is a rattle to amuse children.

[Page 75]What is a nation in a state of infancy? Nothing: For shame, let us no longer compliment ourselves upon our songs and our ballads.

You seem to regret that the taste for these things abates, that we are no longer so jocose, so epigrama­tic. This is to regret that the empire of reason has commenced.

You regret that our conversation begins to grow dull from being too rational; for you think we are the only people who know how to converse. Why this insult to all nations and to truth? Can it be said that we know how to converse in France, where it is cus­tomary to listen to nothing, and men of parts especially, thinking themselves above instruction, indulge their own ideas, without attending to yours? What is con­versation? It ought to be a means of connecting man­kind, of informing the judgment and humanizing the heart. But are these the objects of a French conver­sation? Do we instruct, nay do we even amuse one another? We merely glance upon our subjects. From the weather to a criticism upon the opera, from the opera to a battle, from the battle to a cap, &c. If you regret that this sublime style of amusing and in­structive conversation declines, you must pardon me for not joining you. But do not think me less a friend to my countrymen than yourself, who appear to flat­ter them. I believe that they possess the seeds of eve­ry virtue, and that their expansion depends upon themselves; while you give them nothing but the art of punning:* which of us honors them most? In like manner intending to compliment our French women you traduce them in the following descrip­tion; ‘not a motion without grace, no grace without expression—The wish to please perfects and perpetu­ates the means of pleasing, and nature is rather as­sisted than thwarted by art, not being abandoned to the [Page 76] cares of domestic life, nor wasted by continual childbear­ing. That is to say plainly, that you compli­ment our countrywomen, upon being no longer good mothers or good housewives, and not scrupling to destroy their posterity for the sake of preserving an elegant shape, and pleasing their unmarried gallants. Shocking thought! what must the Americans think of our morals and of our women, at least in Paris (for this is only a view of the capital) when they read your tra­vels, should any of them be weak enough to be se­duced by this licentious language, or tempted to sa­crifice to the same desires? Heaven preserve those re­publicans from such depravity!

Perhaps, and it is to be hoped, that the satires upon the Americans, and their chaste partners, with which your book abounds, will operate as an antidote to the pleasing venom it contains. Satires, you will say. Yes, cast your eye over the following list, which compre­hends but a very small part of them.

You represent the American women, as being lit­tle accustomed to give themselves any trouble, and indifferent about every thing, except sipping their tea, and keeping the house clean. Let the reader compare this picture, with that of their virtues, drawn by St. John de Crevecoeur, who has lived so long in America, and he may judge how much you wrong them.

Your informing them in another place, that you did not think any of them handsome, or that they danced ill, is a piece of rudeness that French urbani­ty should have forbidden.

But your satiric vein flows most freely, when you bring an old or homely woman upon the stage. With what glaring colours you paint Mrs.—and the la­dy you openly expose by a sarcasm, upon her taste for liberty, not even suppressing the initials of her name, least the blow should miss: Could you sup­pose that such affected mystery could conceal her in a city of but twenty thousand inhabitants, in which the circle of ladies who use white and red, must be very contracted.

[Page 77]You praise none of them, except it is for imita­ting the levity and frivolousness of our French wo­men, or because she intends to introduce the fashions at Philadelphia, and produce a revolution in the taste of the toilette, of greater importance you say, than that already effected in politics.

You treat the men with as little ceremony: you charge them openly with formality, pedantry, ingratitude, hypocrisy, and even roguery. Their slightest defects could not escape your observing eye. Here a scho­lar addresses you in French, and you do not answer him in English, not to rob him of the pleasure of dis­playing what he knows. There you ridicule the di­rector of a ball, upon the solemn air, with which he exercises his office; or a respectable governor, to whom you give all the pedantry of a republican, a Barnevelt, or a Heinsius. Heaven grant our petit maitres such pedantry and such virtues, and they will at least resemble men. In another place, you sow the seeds of discord between the different citizens, by representing, that some of the Americans call the Dutch thick-skulls, and make them the butt of their ridicule.

Thus perhaps your book will give rise to jealousy and ill-will.

Nor must I forget the ridicule you cast upon some of those religious republicans for saying grace.

Why make a jest of religion, before people who reverence it? Recollect, that the settlement of Ame­rica was owing to religious enthusiasm, which has given her the character of firmness that still exists, and to which her present liberty is to be ascribed. Recollect, that the Atheists sided with Charles IId. * and flattered him; while the Puritans did honour to human nature, but their voluntary exile.

What must we think of those dissolute princi­ciples, [Page 78] which you endeavour to excuse, by apologiz­ing for yourself, in the affair of the American Girl, a tale you should have suppressed in respect to mora­lity, and the peace of the unhappy woman. But the pen drops from my hand, and I can follow you no longer, for it seems to me that your epigrammatic conceits have caused you to forget the respect due to strangers, to allies, to friends, to good people who gave you a friendly welcome, and vied with each o­ther to entertain you.

If your travels contained information, let them be made public: But must it be published to the whole universe if you chanced to meet with an inkeeper who had lost an eye or was hump-backed? Have you forgotten that every thing which may tend to humble an indivi­dual unnecessarily and undeservedly, ought to be con­cealed, and this is always the case with natural de­fects? that silence is a duty in strangers, whose ridi­cule may make a lasting impression? Have you forgot­ten the respect that every writer owes to his readers? Can the faults or vices of private individuals interest the public? or the intelligence that such a one loves grog, is very tedious, or a great boaster? and that such a woman is old or ugly, &c.? What conclusi­ons can be drawn from such wretched anecdotes? Shall we conclude like the German, who described all the women of Blois to be red haired and ill-tem­pered, because his hostess was so.

If such circumstances cannot be generalized they are not worth notice: for every private fact, which will not admit of general inferences relating to history, manners or customs, is useless, and ought to be suppressed. Before a traveller publishes his ob­servations, he ought to be fully impressed with the thought which Phedrus has expressed in the following adage, nisi utile est quod facimus stulta est gloria: Thus after riding over a vast extent of country,* and seeing [Page 79] a great many men and a great many things. To form an interesting picture of them, we must represent what may be useful to the public. § On this principle two thirds of your travels might be retrenched, and the remainder would be less imperfect. In justice to such of my countrymen who have read your travels I must say, that your book has made the same impressions upon them that it has upon myself, and no doubt the Americans will be pleased to hear it: I therefore protest in their names against those inferences, which might be drawn from it upon our national character. The Americans may believe me when I assure them that many of the brave Frenchmen who have defend-their cause, have the highest esteem for their constitu­tions, their manners and their customs; that they are generally esteemed in France; and that our different habits have not prevented us from perceiving the full value of their simplicity and innocence. They may rest assured, that many of our countrymen who may have the satisfaction of visiting them in fu­ture, will be very capable of studying their constitu­tion, and improving by their manners, without betray­ing the confidence of hospitality.

Perhaps, sir, you will complain of the severity of my censure, and the apparent harshness of this exa­mination. It is severe I allow: but such is my dispo­sition that I can neither disguise* my feelings nor ex­press them with indifference.

[Page 80]I know that severity is reckoned a sort of crime a­mong us in the present age, wherein false politeness is substituted in the place of honest freedom, that is to say a shadow for the substance. I must therefore justi­fy my bluntness. It may possibly tend to remove those prejudices which discourage the investigation and re­tard the progress of truth in our country.

When one writer has attacked another with warmth, we are apt to exclaim: Why so severe? He might have been treated with decency at least.

This national dislike to severity is a proof that vice preponderates and character is lost. Every individual capitulates more or less with the duties of his station, and barters his moral obligations for titles or pensions, and every one, conscious of his own misconduct, and re­cognizing some features of himself in the portrait of the weak or the guilty man, exposed to public view, inclines to indulgence, because he stands in need of it himself; and joins to persecute the nervous writer be­cause he is a stranger to the spirit by which he is ac­tuated; for innocence itself is an offence to the guilty.

I make no doubt that when Cicero uttered his thun­dering orations against Catiline, there were some sena­tors weak enough to advise him to moderation; perhaps in the pusillanimous adage, we must not give offence. False maxim! Gentleness has ever been the ruin of indi­viduals as well as communities. Bad men have made but too much advantage of the indulgence of virtue: For which reason I think that a virtuous man ought to be uniformly severe, that his character should be strong­ly marked, and boldly expressed, that he should never weaken his sentiments, or affect a dangerous modera­tion: truth demands, and the general good requires it.

Writers, above all men, should observe this line of conduct, to render themselves worthy of the task of instructing mankind; for how can they expect the confidence of their fellow-citizens, if they condescend [Page 81] to accommodate their principles to circumstances, or compromise with the enemies of the community? They cannot, their influence is justly forfeited. It is said they only play their parts, and the wicked remain as before.

This decided character, now quite lost among our writers, was universal, during the sixteenth and se­venteenth centuries. The civil dissentions, which then divided the citizens into parties, and impressed them with peculiar characters, influenced the writers of those times: Each was attached to a party, and treat­ed its opponents with rigor. And this was not with­out its use: for the apprehension of a severe censure, obliged them to be just and accurate. The present gentleness of censure, has been the ruin of science.

In this respect I confess myself much better pleas­ed with the manner in which Saumaise and Petau, Bayle and Jurieu, treated each other, than with the in­offensive satires and hypocritical compliments▪ so com­mon in our academies, and modern pamphlets.

It may be objected that abuse proves nothing. I grant it; but it serves to unmask a character. What is proved by our perfidious compliments, our cutting-ironies, and our Italics especially? Mere malice with­out any of that frankness which might palliate its ma­lignity.

Besides, abuse is too often applied to that boldness of feature, wherein the man of virtue is obliged to paint the villain. What! shall Locke or Sidney, re­futing the doctrines of the detestable Filmer, be re­quired to treat him with delicacy and tenderness? No: living or dead, let infamy brand the villain.

Such a character as these two great men possessed, can never be concealed; it will appear in the phy­siognomy, the gestures, the speech, the writings of its possessor Men of cooler tempers, strive to discou­rage it, by starting difficulties in its way, and the friends of the party second their endeavours from prudential considerations; but if it is deeply rooted, op­position only forces it to expand itself, which is a happi­ness for the public, as well as for the individual who is so strongly organized. He possesses in himself an [Page 82] ample recompense for every inconvenience to which it may subject him. Such a one, like the philoso­phers of antiquity, ought to consult his secret geni­us upon every occasion. It is the nymph of Numa, the demon of Socrates, and the spiritual light of the Quakers. He ought to listen to it, with unceasing attention, and speak when it inspires.* Its inspira­tions never decieve those whose primary object is the public good, nor can they fail of general utility.

With such a character, it is impossible to be a cool spectator of scenes that shock every feeling of hu­manity, or remain unmoved at the sight of general calamity and injustice.

The generality of our writers preserve their mo­deration amidst these shocking scenes: They treat even criminals and oppressors, with civility and ten­derness, because they have neither spirit, nor charact­er. Shall I tell you the reason of this? Independ­ent of other general causes, it may be attributed to their way of life. Consider how a great character is formed, and then cast your eye upon the life of one of our writers.

A nervous character, is the result of a natural eleva­tion of sentiment, an habitual indignation at the sight [Page 83] of oppression, and frequent meditation, which tends to preserve the soul from the external causes of ge­neral lethargy and decay; in a word, it is the result of a man's constant communion with his own heart or with superior objects.

But how rare are these habits! can such meditati­on be enjoyed amidst the hurry and dissipation of a metropolis: yet here our geniuses are sent to receive that polish which is often fatal to every bold and original quality. Here they connect themselves in societies, communicate indiscriminately with each other, or with men of weaker minds, and thus de­base themselves. Interest or habit, accustom them to praise whatever they meet with in these societies, and so the public is deceived. Is it worth while to undeceive it? All must live—and to live in peace, must avoid giving offence. Upon this principle, li­berty, character, and independence, are soon lost, and the cause of truth is served only as it suits convenience.

Perhaps you will say that all this has been in print twenty times before—granted; it has been twen­ty times true, is now so for the twenty-first time, and is still necessary to be repeated, for the evil re­mains unreformed. It may also be affirmed, that truth, virtue and reformation, are only to be expected from the man who devotes himself to solitude and obscurity. Elevated ideas, bold resolutions, in a word, great characters are formed in solitude; and what can be expected from such a man, but severity of censure, which, notwithstanding, is by no means incompatible with kindness or urbanity. Authors should be friendly when they meet, should cherish and assist each other in cases of necessity, and bestow their applauses when merited; but they should also openly, candidly and vigorously, oppose each other, when wrong. Thus Price and Priestly, Kirwan and Cavendish, now treat each other in England. They are friends as far as is consistent with truth. Thus the patriot Jebb, treated the celebrated Charles Fox. Although inti­mately connected with him in private life, he warmly opposed him in his writings, and in all public assemblies.

[Page 84]These are the examples I proposed to myself for imitation. Whenever opportunity offered, I have paid a just tribute of esteem to your useful treatise de la Felicité Publique; I cannot therefore be sus­pected of prejudice in this reply to your satires upon the Quakers, the Negroes, and the dignity of man. They excited concern and indignation in my breast: I have expressed what I felt; if the warmth of my feelings has sometimes hurried me too far, ascribe it to the importance of the object; but do not suspect me of a wish to offend you: it always was and always will be far from my intention.

Notwithstanding, I have freely censured such parts of your travels as appeared to me to deserve blame, or lead to destructive consequences, I am not the less inclined to do justice to your interesting enquiries, and your just encomiums upon those celebrated charac­ters who have contributed to restore the freedom of America. Is there a single Frenchman, or Ame­rican, who will not review with satisfaction the portraits of Washington, the learned Jefferson, and that gallant youth whom you so justly describe as the hope of our nation, spes altera Romae, whose name will never be separated from that of his friend and father Washington, in the annals of the United States. These passages and some others almost equally interesting which relate to the American ge­nerals, together with your anecdotes of the revolu­tion, stripped of the idle tales, scandalous stories, epigrams, puns, and mistaken notions, would form a volume of valuable materials for the history of the United States. No doubt the friends of liberty and humanity will join me in encouraging you to present them with such a work: Ex fumo dare lucem—this is now incumbent upon you, and would be useful to the public, as well as honorable to yourself.

[Page 85]


I HAD just finished this letter, when a friend handed me the review of your travels, which ap­peared in the Mercure of the first of July.

The following passage in which the Quakers are mentioned, struck me particularly: "A conversa­tion with one Mr. Benezet leads the author to speak of the Quakers. Some think he has not done them justice. We also doubt whether his reproaches may be generally deserved by them. The religious princi­ples of these people do not inspire them with bad mo­rals, besides it appears improbable that theirs should differ from those of their fellow-citizens, &c. &c."

I do not know the writer of this article. Whoe­ver he was, it is astonishing that he should take the liberty to speak in this contemptuous style of Mr. Benezet and the Quakers. He could not be ignorant that the article one before a proper name is never so applied in our language but to men of contemptible characters: he could not be ignorant, that the expressi­on those people, is insulting and blends a body of valua­ble men with what we call the vulgar: If he was not ignorant, how dared this journalist to make use of such expressions, to describe an individual and a society who are equally respectable? Where is the man in all Europe, of whatever rank or birth, who is equal to Benezet? who is not obliged to respect him? How long will authors suffer themselves to be shackled by the prejudices of society? Will they ne­ver perceive that nature has created all men equal— that wisdom and virtue are the only real criterion of superiority? Now who was more virtuous than Be­nezet? who more useful to society, to mankind? What author, what great man, will ever be follow­ed to his grave by four hundred Negroes, snatched, by his own assiduity, his own generosity, from igno­rance, wretchedness, and slavery? Who, then, has a right to speak haughtily of this benefactor of men?

With respect to the Quakers, after having consi­dered the abstract here given, of their religious, moral [Page 86] and political principles, it must excite indignation, to hear them described under the contemptuous appel­lation of those people. Shall nothing be honored but titles, rank, or splendor? and will authors always conspire with the favourers of aristocracy, to place the modest and simple virtues below titles, to which they are infinitely superior? On looking over what you say against the Quakers, I see with concern that you have not only used a like expression of contempt yourself when speaking of Benezet, but that you have even affected to thee and thou him in conver­sation. Permit me to make a remark upon this subject, which escaped me before: It is a principle of the Quakers, to reject those ceremonious expressions, which have been invented by vanity or meanness. They cannot see any natural difference in their fellow-creatures, sufficient to authorize a distinction in their address or deportment toward each other. The prac­tice of saying you to a single person, appears to them false and absurd. Whether they are right or wrong, in this respect, it is equally certain, that plain lan­guage cannot be rude in them. They use it among themselves, whatever relation they bear to each other: they use it to every body. But it does not follow, that those who are not of their sect, who have not their principles, or way of thinking, should speak in the same style to them. It would not only be very im­polite to do so, but a misplaced familiarity: yet plain language is not a mark of familiarity in the Quakers. Without departing from their thee and thou, they are careful to acknowledge the respect due to merit, to age, and to authority; and are decently reserved in their address to strangers. They know what good breeding requires, and are pleased with respect­ful treatment as well as the rest of the world: for they are at no loss to account for the affected plainness of those whose manners and principles are not consistent with such behaviour. It must appear to them either a misplaced familiarity or the mistake of ignorance, which being unable to comprehend the motive of their customs, thinks to [Page 87] flatter them by a conformity to one of the least im­portance. Or indeed (as is most commonly the cafe) from that contracted self-love which is mortified by such bluntness, although it is universal and without respect of persons. In a word, they are sensible that plainness of speech is not contemptuous in them, but that it is so in other people, unless dictated by friendship or consangui­nity. There is another absurdity, sir, in this review: its author doubts the justice of your charges against the Quakers, because, says he, their religious principles do not inspire them with bad morals. As if any religious principles inspired bad morals!—as if all the mem­bers of a sect must necessarily be honest men, because its principles are good!—as if there had never been any Protestant or Catholic rogues, because Protes­tant or Catholic principles do not inculcate roguery! Contemptible argument! weak defence! only cal­culated to confirm the public in the idea you give of the Quakers, which it is evident that the fawn­ing or cowardly author of this article did not care to oppose.

Such criticism is a disgrace to the man who under­takes to give the public the true character of a book. He should be perfectly master of the subject it is written upon. And, to return to the Quakers: if this writer must give his opinion between you, he should have been well acquainted with Barclay's Apo­logy, and every other publication in their favour, but especially the letters of M. St. John de Crevecoeur; or if he had never read them, he might have confess­ed his ignorance, and kept his judgment to himself.

If I were inclined to discuss most of the other ar­ticles in this review, it would be easy to demonstrate that almost all of them are stamped with the same marks of frivolousness, ignorance, and adulation.

Every thing is praised down to the very table of contents, perhaps, because your dinners and suppers are faithfully registered there, and not a single fact is criticised, not a single idea*.

[Page 88]We must both agree, that people of quality and men of established reputation have a sad privilege in France; it is that of receiving nothing but in­cense. As criticism is never wholly free with respect to them, this incense is never pure; and the disgrace of their works, so pompously announced, shews them sooner or later, that encomiums obtained from mean­ness, by prudential considerations, will not entitle them to the esteem of their own age, much less to descend to posterity.

I must give you one instance, sir, of the pusillanimity of writers of the lower class towards privileged authors: it relates to yourself.

I was lately in company, when the conversation turning upon your travels, an author related, that not long since he could not help conceiting you frowned upon him, at table, and asked the per­son who sat next him, what could be the reason of it, who answered, M. Le Marquis de Cha­tellux believes you to be the author of the article against his travels, in the Correspondence Lit­teraire Secrette: he has been told that you write for it. For Heaven's sake undeceive him directly; I have no hand in it; I did not write that article. Why need you deny it so warmly? replied I; the work may deserve criticism. That may be, rejoins my gentleman; but I would not attack M. de Chastellux; [Page 89] he has the ear of M. de Montesquieu, who is in fa­vour with Monsieur the King's brother: it would be the ruin of me; I have a wife and children to provide for. Well, sir, replied I, I am a father and a husband as well as you, but I will criticise these travels, and that openly: for I have too good an opinion of M. le Marquis de Chatellux not to believe, that if I should be persecuted for it (which but to suppose, were absurd and injurious to the persons you mention) he would himself be the first to defend me. Indeed it appears to me, that every judicious man, who regards his own interest, should be of the opinion of Lycurgus upon public discussions. This passage of Plutarch is so striking, and you are so great a lover of antiquity, that I am tempted to transcribe it entire.

‘The Spartan legislator, carefully strewed the seeds of ambition and jealousy among the citizens of his commonwealth, to whom the administration of the public affairs was entrusted, as an incen­tive to virtue—choosing that such men should al­ways have something to canvass and controvert, among themselves; being convinced that the slugglish, unmanly courtesy, with which men mutually concede to, and pardon one another, is falsely called harmony: and some think that Ho­mer must have been of this opinion, or he would never have made Agamemnon pleased to see Ulys­ses and Achilles quarrelling, if he had not thought that strise and emulation among the principal men, caused them to have a watchful eye upon each other, and tended to the public advantage.’ &c. &c. Plutarch's Life of Agesilaus.

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