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Thomas Paine (1737–1809).  The Writings of Thomas Paine.  1906.
 
II.
A Dialogue between General Wolfe and General Gage in a Wood near Boston
 
Gen. WOLFE.  Welcome my old friend to this retreat. 1  1
  Gen. GAGE.  I am glad to see you my dear Mr. Wolfe, but what has brought you back again to this world?  2
  Gen. WOLFE.  I am sent by a group of British heroes to remonstrate with you upon your errand to this place. You are come upon a business unworthy a British soldier, and a freeman. You have come here to deprive your fellow subjects of their liberty.  3
  Gen. GAGE.  God forbid! I am come here to execute the orders of my Sovereign,—a Prince of unbounded wisdom and goodness, and who aims at no higher honor than that of being the King of a free people.  4
  Gen. WOLFE.  Strange language from a British soldier! I honour the crown of Great-Britain as an essential part of her excellent constitution. I served a Sovereign to whom the impartial voice of posterity has ascribed the justice of the man as well as the magnanimity of a King, and yet such was the free spirit of the troops under my command, that I could never animate them with a proper martial spirit without setting before them the glorious objects, of their King and their COUNTRY.  5
  Gen. GAGE.  The orders of my Sovereign have been sanctified by the Parliament of Great-Britain. All the wisdom and liberty of the whole empire are collected in that august Assembly. My troops therefore cannot want the same glorious motives which animated yours, in the present expedition. They will fight for their country as well as their King.  6
  Gen. WOLFE.  The wisest assemblies of men are as liable as individuals, to corruption and error. The greatest ravages which have ever been committed upon the liberty and happiness of mankind have been by weak and corrupted republics. The American colonies are entitled to all the privileges of British subjects. Equality of liberty is the glory of every Briton. He does not forfeit it by crossing the Ocean. He carries it with him into the most distant parts of the world, because he carries with him the immutable laws of nature. A Briton or an American ceases to be a British subject when he ceases to be governed by rulers chosen or approved of by himself. This is the essence of liberty and of the British constitution.  7
  Gen. GAGE.  The inhabitants of the province of Massachusetts Bay, have not only thrown off the jurisdiction of the British Parliament, but they are disaffected to the British crown. They cannot even bear with that small share of regal power and grandeur which have been delegated to the Governors of this province. They traduced Sir Francis Bernard, and petitioned the King to remove Mr. Hutchinson from the seat of government. But their opposition to my administration has arisen to open rebellion. They have refused to obey my proclamations. They have assembled and entered into associations to eat no mutton and to wear clothes manufactured in this country,—they have even provided themselves with arms and ammunition, and have acquired a complete knowledge of the military exercises, in direct opposition to my proclamations.  8
  Gen. WOLFE.  The inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay were once a brave and loyal people. If they are disaffected to his present Majesty, it is because his Ministers have sent counterfeit impressions of his royal virtues to govern them. Bernard and Hutchinson must have been a composition of all the base and wicked qualities in human nature to have diminished the loyalty of those illustrious subjects, or weakened their devotion to every part of the British constitution.—I must add here that the late proceedings of the British Parliament towards the American colonists have reached the British heroes in Elysium, and have produced a suspension of their happiness. The Quebec Bill in a particular manner has roused their resentment. It was once the glory of Englishmen to draw the sword only in defence of liberty and the protestant religion, or to extend the blessings of both to their unhappy neighbours. These godlike motives reconciled me to all the hardships of that campaign which ended in the reduction of Canada. These godlike motives likewise reconciled me to the horror I felt in being obliged to shed the blood of those brave Frenchmen, who opposed me on the plains of Abraham. I rejoiced less in the hour of my death, in the honor of my victory, than in the glory of having communicated to an inslaved people the glorious privileges of an English constitution. While my fellow soldiers hailed me as their conqueror, I exulted only in being their DELIVERER. But popery and French laws in Canada are but a part of that system of despotism, which has been prepared for the colonies. The edicts of the British Parliament (for they want the sanction of British laws) which relate to the province of Massachusetts Bay are big with destruction to the whole British empire. I come therefore in the name of Blakeney—Cumberland—Granby—and an illustrious band of English heroes to whom the glory of Old England is still dear, to beg you to have no hand in the execution of them. Remember Sir you are a man as well as a soldier. You did not give up your privileges as a citizen when you put on your sword. British soldiers are not machines, to be animated only with the voice of a Minister of State. They disdain those ideas of submission which preclude them from the liberty of thinking for themselves, and degrade them to an equality with a war horse, or an elephant. If you value the sweets of peace and liberty,—if you have any regard to the glory of the British name, and if you prefer the society of Grecian, Roman, and British heroes in the world of spirits, to the company of Jeffries, Kirk, and other royal executioners, I conjure you immediately to resign your commission. Assign the above reasons to your Sovereign for your conduct, and you will have the sole glory of performing an action which would do honour to an angel. You will restore perpetual harmony between Britain and her colonies.  9
 
Note 1. From the Pennsylvania Journal, January 4, 1775. [back]
 
 
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