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Essays on actions and events oxford clarendon press - essay-
A fondness for power is implanted in most men, and it is natural to abuse it when acquired. This maxim, drawn from the experience of all ages, makes it the height of folly to intrust any set of men with power which is not under every possible control; perpetual strides are made after more as long as there is any part withheld. We ought not, therefore, to concede any greater authority to the British Parliament than is absolutely necessary. There seems to be a necessity for vesting the regulation of our trade because in time our commercial interests might otherwise interfere with hers. But with respect to making laws for us, there is not the least necessity, or even propriety, in it. Our Legislatures are confined to ourselves, and cannot interfere with Great Britain. We are best acquainted with our own circumstances, and therefore best qualified to make suitable regulations. It is of no force to object that no particular colony has power to enact general laws for all the colonies. There is no need of such general laws. Let every colony attend to its own internal police, and all will be well. How have we managed heretofore? The Parliament has made no general laws for our good, and yet our affairs have been conducted much to our ease and satisfaction. If any discord has sprung up among us, it is wholly imputable to the incursions of Great Britain. We should be peaceable and happy, if unmolested by her. We are not so destitute of wisdom as to be in want of her assistance to devise proper and salutary laws for us.
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I am solicited to write the affairs of my own time by some, who fancy I look upon them with an eye less blinded with passion than another, and have a clearer insight into them by reason of the free access fortune has given me to the heads of various factions; but they do not consider, that to purchase the glory of Sallust, I would not give myself the trouble, sworn enemy as I am to obligation, assiduity, or perseverance: that there is nothing so contrary to my style, as a continued narrative, I so often interrupt and cut myself short in my writing for want of breath; I have neither composition nor explanation worth anything, and am ignorant, beyond a child, of the phrases and even the very words proper to express the most common things; and for that reason it is, that I have undertaken to say only what I can say, and have accommodated my subject to my strength. Should I take one to be my guide, peradventure I should not be able to keep pace with him; and in the freedom of my liberty might deliver judgments, which upon better thoughts, and according to reason, would be illegitimate and punishable. Plutarch would say of what he has delivered to us, that it is the work of others: that his examples are all and everywhere exactly true: that they are useful to posterity, and are presented with a lustre that will light us the way to virtue, is his own work. It is not of so dangerous consequence, as in a medicinal drug, whether an old story be so or so.