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Preface to the Second Edition, 1783

|| 1: Introduction

Preface to the Second Edition, 1783

Since the publication of this volume, we hear that Mr. St. John has accepted a public employment at New York. It is therefore, perhaps, doubtful whether he will soon be at leisure to revise his papers, and give the world a second collection of the American Farmer Letters.

To the Abee Raynal, F.R.S.

Behold, Sir, an humble American Planter, a simple cultivator of the earth, addressing you from the farther side of the Atlantic; and presuming to fix your name at the head of his trifling lucubrations. I wish they were worthy of so great an honour. Yet why should not I be permitted to disclose those sentiments which I have so often felt from my heart? A few years since, I met accidentally with your Political and Philosophical History, and perused it with infinite pleasure. For the first time in my life I reflected on the relative state of nations; I traced the extended ramifications of a commerce which ought to unite but now convulses the world; I admired that universal benevolence, that diffusive goodwill, which is not confined to the narrow limits of your own country; but, on the contrary, extends to the whole human race. As an eloquent and powerful advocate you have pleaded the cause of humanity in espousing that of the poor Africans: you viewed these provinces of North America in their true light, as the asylum of freedom; as the cradle of future nations, and the refuge of distressed Europeans. Why then should I refrain from loving and respecting a man whose writings I so much admire? These two sentiments are inseparable, at least in my breast. I conceived your genius to be present at the head of my study: under its invisible but powerful guidance, I prosecuted my small labours: and now, permit me to sanctify them under the auspices of your name. Let the sincerity of the motives which urge me, prevent you from thinking that this well meant address contains aught but the purest tribute of reverence and affection. There is, no doubt, a secret communion among good men throughout the world; a mental affinity connecting them by a similitude of sentiments: then, why, though an American, should not I be permitted to share in that extensive intellectual consanguinity? Yes, I do: and though the name of a man who possesses neither titles nor places, who never rose above the humble rank of a farmer, may appear insignificant; yet, as the sentiments I have expressed are also the echo of those of my countrymen; on their behalf, as well as on my own, give me leave to subscribe myself,

Sir, Your very sincere admirer,
J. Hector St. John. Carlisle in Pennsylvania