Friday, July 3, 2015

"Listen to the Voice of Reason"

"Happy should I be, were it possible to induce this deluded people to listen to the voice of reason; to abandon a set of me making them stilts to their own private ambition; to return to their former confidence in the King and his Parliament, and like the Romans when they threw off the yoke of the Decemvirs: -- 'Inde libertatis captare aurum, unde servitutem timendo Republicam in eum statum perduxere.'"

That's the last paragraph of Jonathan Lind's introduction to An Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress (London: Printed for T. Cadell in the Strand; J. Walter, Charing Cross; and T. Sewell, near the Royal Exchange, 1776). In this volume, Lind attacks the various assertions and statements contained in the Declaration of Independence one article at a time.

The tone of the rebuttals tends to be on the sarcastic side, if not outright inflammatory. Take Lind's opening sally in his answer to Article 4 - the one about calling legislative bodies together in unusual, uncomfortable and distant places.
There is something so truly ridiculous in this Article that it is hardly possible to answer it with any becoming gravity. At first blush it looks as if inserted by an enemy, as if intended to throw an air of ridiculousness on the declaration in general.
The whole Answer is 132 pages long. In terms of spin control and swaying the populace it certainly wasn't as effective as the much shorter Declaration of Independence. Lind's final plea to make "whatever efforts may be necessary, to bring this ungrateful and rebellious people back to the allegiance they so daringly renounced" doesn't quite have the same linguistic polish as the last line of the Declaration: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

To read all of Lind's Answer, ask for McGregor 104.

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