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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 70 pages of information about A Letter Addressed to the Abbe Raynal, on the Affairs of North America, in Which the Mistakes in the Abbe's Account of the Revolution of America Are Corrected and Cleared Up.

It often happens, that the weight of an argument is lost by the wit of setting it off, or the judgment disordered by an intemperate irritation of the passions:  yet a certain degree of animation must be felt by the writer, and raised in the reader, in order to interest the attention; and a sufficient scope given to the imagination, to enable it to create in the mind a sight of the persons, characters, and circumstances of the subject; for without these, the judgment will feel little or no excitement to office, and its determinations will be cold, sluggish, and imperfect.  But if either or both of the two former are raised too high, or heated too much, the judgment will be jostled from his seat, and the whole matter, however important in itself, will diminish into a pantomime of the mind, in which we create images that promote no other purpose than amusement.

The Abbe’s writings bear evident marks of that extension and rapidness of thinking and quickness of sensation which of all others require revisal, and the more particularly so when applied to the living characters of nations or individuals in a state of war.  The least misinformation or misconception leads to some wrong conclusion and an error believed becomes the progenitor of others.  And as the Abbe has suffered some inconveniences in France, by mistating certain circumstances of the war and the characters of the parties therein, it becomes some apology for him, that those errors were precipitated into the world by the avarice of an ungenerous enemy.


[1] The state of literature in America must one day become a subject of legislative consideration.  Hitherto it hath been a disinterested volunteer in the service of the revolution, and no man thought of profits:  but when peace shall give time and opportunity for study, the country will deprive itself of the honour and service of letters and the improvement of science, unless sufficient laws are made to prevent depredations on literary property.  It is well worth remarking that Russia, who but a few years ago was scarcely known in Europe, owes a large share of her present greatness to the close attention she has paid, and the wise encouragement she has given to science and learning, and we have almost the same instance in France, in the reign of Lewis XIV.


To an author of such distinguished reputation as the Abbe Raynal, it might very well become me to apologize for the present undertaking; but as to be right is the first wish of philosophy, and the first principle of history, he will, I presume, accept from me a declaration of my motives, which are those of doing justice, in preference to any complimental apology, I might otherwise make.  The Abbe, in the course of his work, has, in some instances extolled, without a reason, and wounded without a cause.  He has given fame where it was not deserved, and withheld it where it was justly due; and appears to be so frequently in and out of temper with his subjects and parties, that few or none of them are decisively and uniformly marked.

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