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" while I am a friend to the unlimited freedom of " the press, when exercised by an American, I am “ an implacable foe to its prostitution to a foreigner, “ and would at any time assist in hunting out of « society, any meddling foreigner who should dare “ to interfere in our politics. I hope the apathy
of our brethren of Philadelphia will no longer be « indulged, and that an exemplary vengeance will “ soon burst upon the head of such a presumptuous “ fellow. justice, honour, national gratitude, all “ call for it. May it no longer be delayed.
“ An American."
Are not you, Mr. Swanwick, the President of the Emigration Society? Well, then, Sir, as your institution is said to be for the information of persons emigrating from foreign countries, be so good as to insert the little extract, above quoted, in your next dispatches for a cargo of emigrants. Above all, Sir, be sure to tell those who are disposed to emigrate from England, those martyrs in the cause of liberty ; be sure to tell them that this is the land of equal liberty; that here, and here alone, they will find the true unlimited freedom of the press, but that, if they dare to make use of it, “ justice, “ honour, national gratitude, will call for exemplary “ vengeance on their heads.”
I should not have noticed this distinction between foreigners and Americans, had I not perceived, that several persons, who are, generally speaking, friends to their country, seem to think that it was impertinent in me to meddle with the politics here, because I was an Englishman. I would have these good people to recollect, that the laws of this country hold out to foreigners an offer of all that liberty of the press which Ainericans enjoy, and that, if this liberty be abridged, by whatever means it may be done, the laws and the constitution, and all to
gether, is a mere cheat; a snare to catch the credulous and enthusiastic of every other nation downright imposition on the world. If people who emigrate hither have not a right to make use of the liberty of the press, while the natives have, it is very ill done to call this a country of equal liberty. Equal, above all epithets, is the most improper that can be applied to it; for, if none but Americans have access to the press, they are their masters, and foreigners are their subjects, nay their slaves. An honourable and comfortable situation, upon my word! The emigrants from some countries may be content with it, perhaps : I would not say, that the “ Martyrs in the cause of liberty”. from England, would not quietly bend beneath the yoke, as, indeed, they are in duty bouud to do; but, for my part, who have not the ambition to aspire to the crown of martyrdom, I must and I will be excused. Either the laws shall be altered, or I will continue to avail myself of the liberty that they held out to me, and that partly tempted me to the country. When an act is passed for excluding Englishmen from exercising their talents, and from promulgating what they write, then will I desist; but, I hope, when that time arrives, no act will be passed to prevent people from emigrating back again.
Before I conclude, it seems necessary to say a word or two about the miserable shift which the democrats have had recourse to, respecting the infamous letter of Citizen Hint. They now pretend, that I fabricated it myself, though I have publicly declared, that it was delivered into my hands by a gentleman of reputation, whose name I have mentioned. Can any one be stupid enough to imagine, that I would, particularly at this time, have run the risk of being detected in such a shameful business? And, how could it have been underF2
taken without running that risk? Had I written it myself, there would have been my hand writing against me, and had I employed another, that other might have betrayed me; he might have ruined me in the opinion of all those, whom it is my interest as well as my pride to be esteenied by; or, at best; I should have been at his mercy for ever afterwards.
Besides the great risk of detection, let any one point out, if he can, what end I could propose to myself by such a device. As to making my shop and myself known, I presume I did not stand in need of a Scare-Crow, to effect that, when the kind deinocrats themselves had published to the whole Union, that I had taken the house in which I live, for the purpose of retailing my "poison,” as they called it, and had even had the candour to tell the world, that I had paid my rent in advance*. They
* It was to Mr. Franklin Bache's creditable and incorruptible Gazette, that I was indebted for this volunteer advertisement. This was generous in a declared foe; but those will not be astonished at the editor's candour and tolerating principles, who are acquainted with the following anecdote.
from the European Magazine, for September 1795, page 156.
~ When Voltaire arrived at Paris, an interview took place " between him and Franklin. After the first compliments, “ which by the way were more adulative than comported with “ the character of an American, and above all of a stern Re“ poblican, the Doctor presented his grandson to Voltaire, in “soliciting him for his blessing. The philosopher of impiety “ relished the pleasantry; and to render the farce complete, “ he rose from his chair, and with a patriarchal air, laid his “ hands on the head of the child, and solemnly pronounced, “ in a loud voice, these three words : God; Liberty, and Tole“ ration. All the pious were shocked at the American, who,
they said, burlesqued Rcligion in asking the blessing of Vol. " taire.”
affect to believe, sometimes, that the letter was a mere trick to bring in the pence, and, in one of their latest paragraphs, they call me a
" catchpenny author
But, let them recollect, that I am now a bookseller, whose trade it is to get money; and if I am driven to such shifts as the ScareCrow, to get a living, let them reconcile this circumstance with their assertions concerning my being liberally paid by Great Britain. A man in British pay, rolling in “ the gold of Pitt,” could certainly never be so reduced as to venture every thing for the sake of collecting a few eleven-penny bits. It is the misfortune of the deinocrats ever to furnish arguments against themselves.
Those who reason upon the improbability of the democrats sending the threatening letter, do not. recollect the extract I have above quoted from the Aurora, in which the people of Philadelphia are called upon to murder me, and are told, that “jus“ tice, honour, and national gratitude demand it.” It is very improbable that men, capable of writing paragraphs like this, should, upon finding the people deaf to their honourable insinuations, attempt to intimidate my landlord by a cut-throat letter?
Their great object is to silence me, to this all their endeavours point : lies, threats, spies and informers, every engine of Jacobinical invention is played off. I am sorry to tell them, that it is all in vain, for I am one of those whose obstinacy increases with opposition.
I have now to apologize to my indulgent reader, for having taken up so much of his time with subjects relating chiefly to myself. The task has, to me, been a very disagreeable one ; but it was become necessary, as well for the vindication of my own character as for the satisfaction of my
friends; yes, in spite of envy, malice and falsehood, I say, my numerous and respectable friends, who, I trust, will be well pleased to find, that there is nothing in the history of Peter Porcupine to raise a blush for the commendations they have bestowed on his works, or to render them unworthy of their future support.
END OF THE LIFE OF PORCUPINE.