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“ Considerable, however, as most of them for happiness of situation, fertility of soil, product of valuable commodities, number of inhabitants, shipping, amount of exportations, latitude of rights and privileges, and every other requisite for the being and well-being of society, and more considerable than any of them all for the celerity of its growth unassisted by any human help but the vigor and virtue of its own excellent constitution.
“A father and his family, the latter united by interest and affection, the former to be revered for the wisdom of his instructions, and the indulgent use of his authority, was the form it was at first presented in. Those who were only ambitious of repose, found it here; and as none returned with an evil report of the land, numbers followed ; all partook of the leaven they found; the community still wore the same equal face; nobody aspired; nobody was oppressed; industry was sure of profit; knowledge of esteem, and virtue of veneration.
“ An assuming landlord, strongly disposed to convert free tenants into abject vassals, and to reap what he did not sow, countenanced and abetted by a few desperate and designing dependants, on the one side; and on the other, all who had sense enough to know their rights, and spirit enough to defend them, combined as one man against the said landlord and his encroachments, is the form it has since assumed.
“ And surely, to a nation born to liberty like this, bound to leave it unimpaired as they received it from their fathers in perpetuity to their heirs, and interested in the conservation of it in every appendage of the British Empire, the particulars of such a contest cannot be wholly indifferent.
“On the contrary, it is reasonable to think, the first workings of power against liberty, and the natural efforts of unbiassed men to secure themselves against the first approaches of oppression, must have a captivating power over every man of sensibility and discernment amongst us.
Liberty, it seems, thrives best in the woods. America best cultivated what Germany brought forth. And were it not for certain ugly comparisons, hard to be suppressed, the pleasure arising from such a research would be without alloy.
“ In the feuds of Florence, recorded by Machiavel, we find more to lament, and less to praise. Scarce can we believe the first citizens of the ancient republics had such pretensions to consideration, though so highly celebrated in ancient story. And as to ourselves, we need no longer have recourse to the late glorious stand of the French parliaments to excite our emulation.
" It is a known custom among farmers to change their corn from season to season for the sake of filling the bushel : and in case the wisdom of the age should condescend to make the like experiment another shape, hence we may learn, whither to repair for the proper species.
“ It is not, however, to be presumed, that such as have long been accustomed to consider the colonies, in general, as only so many dependencies on the council board, the board of trade, and the board of customs; or as a hot-bed for causes, jobs, and other pecuniary emoluments, and as bound as effectually by instructions as by laws, can be prevailed upon to consider these patriot rustics with any degree of respect. Derision, on the contrary, must be the lot of him, who imagines it in the power of the pen, to set any lustre upon them; and indignation theirs for daring to assert and maintain the independency interwoven in their constitution, which now, it seems, is become an improper ingredient, and therefore to be excised away.
“ But how contemptibly soever these gentlemen may talk of the colonies, how cheap soever they may hold their assemblies, or how insignificant the planters and traders who compose them, truth will be truth, and principle principle, notwithstanding. Courage, wisdom, integrity, and honor, are not to be measured by the sphere assigned them to act in, but by the trials they undergo, and the vouchers they furnish, and if so manifested, need neither robes nor titles to set them off.”
Though it is not very easy to form an abstract of a work so multifarious in its contents and minute in its details as the “ Historical Review,” yet as the representation which it contains of the constitution
of the province is necessary to the explication of the matters in dispute, the following summary is submitted for the information and amusement of the reader.
The writer sets out with this remarkable observation as the principle on which the claims of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania were founded, that “ the birthright of every British subject is, to have a property of his own, in his estate, person, and reputation; subject only to laws enacted by his own concurrence, either in person, or by his representatives, and which bírthright accompanies him wheresoever he wanders or rests; so long as he is within the pale of the British dominions, and is true to his allegiance.”
Having thus judiciously shown that neither distance nor circumstances could deprive the colonists of the right which they possessed in common with their fellow-subjects, the historian of Pennsylvania proceeds to a survey of the first charter granted to William Penn, in the beginning of the year 1681, which was “a most alarming period : the nation being in a strong ferment; and the court forming an arbitrary plan; which, under the countenance of a small standing army, they began the same year to carry into execution, by cajoling some corporations and forcing others by quo warrantos to surrender their charters ; so that by the abuse of law, the disuse of parliaments, and the terror of power, the kingdom became in effect the prey of will and pleasure.” After selecting and condensing the principal sections of the charter, it is observed that “they are penned with all the appearance of candor and simplicity imaginable; so that if craft had any thing to do with them, never was craft better hid. As little is left as possible to FUTURE INSTRUCTIONS, and nowhere is there to be found the shadow of a pretence, that such INSTRUCTIONS should be LAWS. All is equally agreeable to law and reason, the claims of the crown, and the rights of the subject; nor, indeed, would the grant have been valid, if it had been otherwise. The words LEGAL GOVERNMENT, are words of great significancy.
No command of the king's is a legal command, unless consonant to law, and authenticated by one of his seals ;-the forms of office in such case providing, that nothing illegal shall be carried into execution; and the officer himself being responsible to the laws in case of yielding a criminal obedience. It would, therefore, be a waste of words to show, that the crown is limited in all acts and grants by the fundamentals of the constitution; and that, as it cannot alienate any one limb or joint of the state, so neither, on the other, can it establish any colony upon, or contract it within a narrower scale, than the subject is entitled to by the great charter of England.”
As a prior grant had been made of this territory to James, Duke of York, it was necessary to have an assignment from him of his right thereto, which