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[242] brought out on the eighth of January, was most op-
Chap. LVI.} 1776. Jan.
portune; the day before, the general congress had heard of the burning of Norfolk; on the day itself the king's speech at the opening of parliament arrived. ‘The tyrant!’ said Samuel Adams; ‘his speech breathes the most malevolent spirit; and determines my opinion of its author as a man of a wicked heart. I have heard that he is his own minister; why, then, should we cast the odium of distressing mankind upon his minions? Guilt must lie at his door: divine vengeance will fall on his head; and, with the aid of Wythe of Virginia, the patriot set vigorously to work to bring on a confederation and independence.’

The friends of the proprietary government stood in the way. The pamphlet of ‘Common Sense,’ which came suddenly into every one's hands, was written outside of their influence; and its doctrines threatened their overthrow. On the day after its publication, Wilson, to arrest the rapid development of opinion, came to congress with the king's speech in his hand, and quoting from it the words which charged the colonists with aiming at a separation, he moved the appointment of a committee to explain to their constituents and to the world the principles and grounds of their opposition, and their present intentions respecting independence. He was strongly supported. On the other hand, Samuel Adams insisted that congress had already been explicit enough; and apprehensive that they might get themselves upon dangerous ground, he rallied the bolder members in the hope to defeat the proposal; but in the absence of John Adams even his colleagues, Cushing and Paine, sided with Wilson, who carried the

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