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THE author of the following pages hopes that they may be thought not unworthy the attention of the British publick. He builds this hope, not on any extraordinary merit which he presumes that his poems will be thought to possess, but on their containing information relative to the manners, customs, and policy of a rising empire, between whose interests, and those of Great Britain, there subsists a most intimate and reciprocal connexion.t
* This preface was written in England.
+ “ For the information of those who may be induced * to suppose that we pay too much attention to the affairs “of America, we will briefly state, that America im“ports nearly more of the manufactures of Britain than “ all the nations of Europe put together; and that Great “ Britain and her colonies consume nearly nine tenths, we “ believe, of the whole exported produce of America. “ Add to this, with Britain her enemy, America could “not send a single ship to Europe ; while, with Britain “her friend, she might bid defiance to the enmity of the or whole world !"
Although the war, which terminated in a separation of the two nations, inflicted wounds which, it is to be feared, still rankle ; yet the more considerate of both countries have long desired (if I may be allowed a trans-Atlantick simile) that the hatchet of animosity might be buried in the grave of oblivion.* This event is greatly to be wished at the present crisis. Great Britain now presents the most important, perhaps the only barrier against an inundation of modern Goths, which threatens destruction to all civilized society. America remains neuter in the tremendous contest; and, from her relative situation, possesses tenfold consequence in the scale of nations. He, therefore, who contributes his mite towards preserving harmony between the two countries ought to be considered not only a well wisher to Great Britain and America, but the friend of man. If the following pages should have a tendency to that purpose, my highest ambition will be gratified.
I have, in various instances in this work, taken notice of characters in America, who style themselves republicans, but who should be called demagogues: men who, like the French revolutionary
* A hatchet is a weapon of war among the American Aborigines. Burying a hatchet is considered as a preliminary of peace among the tribes, who were the natives of the country.
leaders, obtained their political ascendency by a dereliction of every principle which ought to influence a gentleman and an honest man.*
I could have enlarged on the demerits of these political impostors. But I feared I might disgust the English reader, by such exhibitions of human depravity. I accordingly selected from my manuscript but a small part of what I had originally written for the purpose of displaying the real characters of those pseudo-patriots.
In America the experiment of a republican form of government, with sundry modern improvements, is making. I wish it success. I have no inducement to wish otherwise. It is my native country, and while I wish prosperity to the British empire, the interests of America are dear to my heart.
But, certainly, if it be possible to give stability to a republican form of government, in a territory
* I would not, hereby, be understood to include all those who denominate themselves republicans, and think themselves exclusively entitled to that appellation, in opposition to the supporters of Washington and Adams. Some of them I know to have been well meaning men, who have imbibed certain whimsical ideas relative to the perfectibility of man
-that society may be supported by the social feelings, and a sense of moral rectitude, without coercion, or any trouble to secure liberty by law. Such men may be honest; but a mad house is the place for them.
so extensive as that of America, it must be by foreseeing, and providing remedies for the evils with which such government is threatened. If I can suggest any thing which may induce a serious attention to the subject, from abler politicians, I shall think that I have not only deserved well of my country, but, to speak the language of your philanthropists, of human nature.*
Ist. The experiment of a republican government has been frequently made, but never in a ter. ritory of any considerable extent has it succeeded, 80 as to produce internal happiness, or security to pri. vate persons or private property.
Athens was a republick, in which the voice of the many was all powerful. But Socrates was murdered by popular phrensy on one day, and deified by the same mob the next. Rome, during the existence of the republick, was powerful abroad, but all was distraction at home. The Gracchi, Marius, Sylla, and many other demagogues deluged the imperial city with blood.
* I hope to be excused for stating, in this place, my apprehensions of the evils which are to be feared in a republican government, although the subject may be consi. dered as not immediately connected with my Original Poems. In these times, when the pillars of society are shaken to their foundation, every good man is in duty bound to contribute, on every occasion, to their support.
But America is more enlightened than were the republicks of antiquity. True, the means of information are increased by the art of printing, and 80 are the means of deception. Political lies are diffused with such industry and facility by artful, aspiring, and unprincipled demagogues, that the people, misinformed relative to publick men and measures, take every step in the dark, and, it is to be feared, will flounder on from anarchy to des. potism. · 2nd. The old maxim of vox populi vox dei is not true. The multitude are nine times in ten wrong in their measures. “ THEY MUST BE SAVED FROM THEMSELVES, OR ALL IS LOST.” Otherwise the cunning, flattering, fawning, hypocritical demagogue, who is ever a concealed tyrant, like Absolom of old, steals their hearts, and makes himself the Cromwell or the Buonaparté of a nominal republick.
Society cannot exist independent of a power to coerce and punish. If this power be not delegated and marked by strict, known, and legal boundaries, it will be assumed by the most unprincipled persons in the community.
3rd. In America there are too many who are immediately concerned in the affairs of government. All power being lodged with the people, they have of course all heads, and no hands ; or, in other