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Reply To A Paper In The Gazetteer
by [?]

I am asked, whether I meant to satirize the man, or criticise the writer, when I say, that “he believes, only, perhaps, because he has inclination to believe it, that the English and Dutch consume more tea than the vast empire of China.” Between the writer and the man, I did not, at that time, consider the distinction. The writer I found not of more than mortal might, and I did not immediately recollect, that the man put horses to his chariot. But I did not write wholly without consideration. I knew but two causes of belief, evidence and inclination. What evidence the journalist could have of the Chinese consumption of tea, I was not able to discover. The officers of the East India company are excluded, they best know why, from the towns and the country of China; they are treated, as we treat gipsies and vagrants, and obliged to retire, every night, to their own hovel. What intelligence such travellers may bring, is of no great importance. And, though the missionaries boast of having once penetrated further, I think, they have never calculated the tea drunk by the Chinese. There being thus no evidence for his opinion, to what could I ascribe it but inclination.

I am yet charged, more heavily, for having said, that “he has no intention to find any thing right at home.” I believe every reader restrained this imputation to the subject which produced it, and supposed me to insinuate only, that he meant to spare no part of the tea-table, whether essence or circumstance. But this line he has selected, as an instance of virulence and acrimony, and confutes it by a lofty and splendid panegyrick on himself. He asserts, that he finds many things right at home, and that he loves his oountrv almost to enthusiasm.

I had not the least doubt, that he found, in his country, many things to please him; nor did I suppose, that he desired the same inversion of every part of life, as of the use of tea. The proposal of drinking tea sour showed, indeed, such a disposition to practical paradoxes, that there was reason to fear, lest some succeeding letter should recommend the dress of the Picts, or the cookery of the Eskimaux. However, I met with no other innovations, and, therefore, was willing to hope, that he found something right at home.

But his love of his country seemed not to rise quite to enthusiasm, when, amidst his rage against tea, he made a smooth apology for the East India company, as men who might not think themselves obliged to be political arithmeticians. I hold, though no enthusiastick patriot, that every man, who lives and trades under the protection of a community, is obliged to consider, whether he hurts or benefits those who protect him; and that the most which can be indulged to private interest, is a neutral traffick, if any such can be, by which our country is not injured, though it may not be benefited.

But he now renews his declamation against tea, notwithstanding the greatness or power of those that have interest or inclination to support it. I know not of what power or greatness he may dream. The importers only have an interest in defending it. I am sure, they are not great, and, I hope, they are not powerful. Those, whose inclination leads them to continue this practice, are too numerous; but, I believe their power is such, as the journalist may defy, without enthusiasm. The love of our country, when it rises to enthusiasm, is an ambiguous and uncertain virtue: when a man is enthusiastick, he ceases to be reasonable; and, when he once departs from reason, what will he do, but drink sour tea? As the journalist, though enthusiastically zealous for his country, has, with regard to smaller things, the placid happiness of philosophical indifference, I can give him no disturbance, by advising him to restrain, even the love of his country, within due limits, lest it should, sometimes, swell too high, fill the whole capacity of his soul, and leave less room for the love of truth.