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Wesley and the American War

Monday, 27.--I set out for Norwich. That evening I preached at Colchester; Tuesday, at Norwich; Wednesday, at Yarmouth.

About this time I published the following letter in Lloyd's Evening Post:

"SIR,-l have been seriously asked, 'From what motive did you publish your Calm Address to the American Colonies?'

"I seriously answer, not to get money. Had that been my motive I should have swelled it into a shilling pamphlet and have entered it at Stationers' Hall.

"Not to get preferment for myself or my brother's children. I am a little too old to gape after it for myself: and if my brother or I sought it for them, we have only to show them to the world.

"Not to please any man living, high or low. I know mankind too well. I know they that love you for political service, love you less than their dinner; and they that hate you, hate you worse than the devil.

"Least of all did I write with a view to inflame any: just the contrary. I contributed my mite toward putting out the flame which rages all over the land. This I have more opportunity of observing than any other man in England. I see with pain to what a height this already rises, in every part of the nation. And I see many pouring oil into the flame, by crying out, 'How unjustly, how cruelly, the King is using the poor Americans who are only contending for their liberty and for their legal privileges!'

"Now there is no possible way to put out this flame, or hinder its rising higher and higher, but to show that the Americans are not used either cruelly or unjustly; that they are not injured at all, seeing they are not contending for liberty (this they had, even in its full, extent, both civil and religious); neither for any legal privileges; for they enjoy all that their charters grant. But what they contend for is the illegal privilege of being exempt from parliamentary taxation. A privilege this which no charter ever gave to any American colony yet; which no charter can give, unless it be confirmed both by King, Lords, and Commons; which, in fact, our colonies never had; which they never claimed till the present reign: and probably they would not have claimed it now had they not been incited thereto by letters from England. One of these was read, according to the desire of the writer, not only at the Continental Congress, but likewise in many congregations throughout the Combined Provinces. It advised them to seize upon all the King's officers and exhorted them, 'Stand valiantly, only for six months, and in that time there will be such commotions in England that you may have your own terms.'

"This being the real state of the question, without any coloring or aggravation, what impartial man can either blame the King or commend the Americans?

"With this view, to quench the fire by laying the blame where it was due, the Calm Address was written.

"Sir, I am,

"Your humble servant,

"John Wesley."

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