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Taxation No Tyranny
by [?]

Lest all these topicks of persuasion should fail, the greater actor of patriotism has tried another, in which terrour and pity are happily combined, not without a proper superaddition of that admiration which latter ages have brought into the drama. The heroes of Boston, he tells us, if the stamp act had not been repealed, would have left their town, their port, and their trade, have resigned the splendour of opulence, and quitted the delights of neighbourhood, to disperse themselves over the country, where they would till the ground, and fish in the rivers, and range the mountains, and be free.

These, surely, are brave words. If the mere sound of freedom can operate thus powerfully, let no man, hereafter, doubt the story of the Pied Piper. The removal of the people of Boston into the country, seems, even to the congress, not only difficult in its execution, but important in its consequences. The difficulty of execution is best known to the Bostonians themselves; the consequence alas! will only be, that they will leave good houses to wiser men.

Yet, before they quit the comforts of a warm home, for the sounding something which they think better, he cannot be thought their enemy who advises them, to consider well whether they shall find it. By turning fishermen or hunters, woodmen or shepherds, they may become wild, but it is not so easy to conceive them free; for who can be more a slave than he that is driven, by force, from the comforts of life, is compelled to leave his house to a casual comer, and, whatever he does, or wherever he wanders, finds, every moment, some new testimony of his own subjection? If choice of evil be freedom, the felon in the galleys has his option of labour or of stripes. The Bostonian may quit his house to starve in the fields; his dog may refuse to set, and smart under the lash, and they may then congratulate each other upon the smiles of liberty, “profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight.”

To treat such designs as serious, would be to think too contemptuously of Bostonian understandings. The artifice, indeed, is not new: the blusterer, who threatened in vain to destroy his opponent, has, sometimes, obtained his end, by making it believed, that he would hang himself.

But terrours and pity are not the only means by which the taxation of the Americans is opposed. There are those, who profess to use them only as auxiliaries to reason and justice; who tell us, that to tax the colonies is usurpation and oppression, an invasion of natural and legal rights, and a violation of those principles which support the constitution of English government.

This question is of great importance. That the Americans are able to bear taxation, is indubitable; that their refusal may be overruled, is highly probable; but power is no sufficient evidence of truth. Let us examine our own claim, and the objections of the recusants, with caution proportioned to the event of the decision, which must convict one part of robbery, or the other of rebellion.

A tax is a payment, exacted by authority, from part of the community, for the benefit of the whole. From whom, and in what proportion such payment shall be required, and to what uses it shall be applied, those only are to judge to whom government is intrusted. In the British dominions taxes are apportioned, levied, and appropriated by the states assembled in parliament.

Of every empire all the subordinate communities are liable to taxation, because they all share the benefits of government, and, therefore, ought all to furnish their proportion of the expense.

This the Americans have never openly denied. That it is their duty to pay the costs of their own safety, they seem to admit; nor do they refuse their contribution to the exigencies, whatever they may be, of the British empire; but they make this participation of the publick burden a duty of very uncertain extent, and imperfect obligation, a duty temporary, occasional, and elective, of which they reserve to themselves the right of settling the degree, the time, and the duration; of judging when it may be required, and when it has been performed.