Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Landon Carter

Dear Sir

Tired at length with vain expectation, I have determined to make that opportunity I have so long waited for, to answer your obliging favor of Nov? last. I am not surprised that your good sense should lead you to disapprove the proceedings that gave rise to the Gazette extraordinary. Absurdities are there too plain to be missed, nor do I hesitate to agree entirely with you in sentiment on that affair. But, what my friend, is to be the issue of all this? Are we really to be enslaved by part of our own Community, as a grateful return for the benefits they have derived from the danger and enterprise of our Fathers? And have we hitherto been suffered to drink from the cup of Liberty, that She may be more sensibly punished by its being withdrawn, and the bitter dregs of Servility forced on us in its place? This truly will be adding wanton cruelty to excessive injustice. Indeed every account seems to confirm their intention of abolishing our Liberty, by the establishment of these most oppressive Acts, for Laws I cannot call them, as I agree altogether with their own Maxim, - Nihil quod est contra Rationem est Licitum, quia Ratio Legis, est Anima Legis - This rule of judging the Law should be applied to the making it also - Unhappily for us, Fortune, or whatever Being presides in such cases, seems to favor these detestable designs! - Else why are Devonshire, Cumberland, and Churchill numbered with the dead, whilst Bute, Greenville, and Townshend (I mean Charles) not only live, but live in power? You may judge what profit we can propose to receive from Memorials, however fraught with reason, or filled with justice; When a Gentleman well informed, writes me from London in October last - "That every argument which Zeal and Reason could suggest was urged in vain to oppose the S. Act whilst it was under consideration, and that one of the Ministry being much dissuaded from specifying the mode of Taxation - the Minister replied passionately - G - d d - n them, we will shew them that we have power to tax them, and will tax them." I think this is more the breath of brutality, than it is the voice of Reason, and when Brutes are allowed to govern Men, deplorable no doubt must be the consequence. - I want greatly to see you, that we may converse seriously on this greatly important business, and I think of waiting on you as soon as my Shoulder (lately hurt by a Gun) permits me to travel.

I sent your packet for Mr. Green by a safe hand, with charge not to let it contribute to establish despotism by going into the P. Office.

The Bearer brings a Letter for your Son, which please deliver him with my compliments - The family of Sabine Hall have always my best wishes - I am dear Sir,

your ever affectionate friend.
R. H. Lee

P.S. Can you spare me for a short time, Churchill's prophecy of famine, and his poem on retirement.


Lee PapersVirginia Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 12 - 14.