Chapter 7

    Internal difficulties the Board of Customs had to combat with on its Establishment

    Upon the establishment of the Board the Commissioners had much labour in preparing proper Instructions, and forms of business for the Several Officers; and it took a considerable time to receive, and digest, the Accounts of the State of the Trade and Revenue in the several Ports. In all which business, they had little assistance from several of the Subordinate Officers, appointed by the Treasury. [111]

    Their Secretary was a poor, mulish, insignificant Creature, their Solicitor a drunken wretch and their two Inspectors General who were to visit, and report the State of the Trade and Revenue in the several Colonies[,] were unacquainted with the business of [the] Office they were to set about. And one of them was much more intent, on possessing the Officers with an opinion that he was of greater consequence than his Superiors, than in attending to the discharge of his duty. Even two of the Clerks of the Office, appointed by the Treasury, were insufficient [112] to their duty and were rather a burden, than of Use in Office, but the most distressing circumstance, to the operations of the Board, on its establishment and for some years after, was the opposition of Mr. Temple, one of its Members, to the conduct of his Brethren and the persecution and abuse they underwent from the Spirit he fomented against them.53

    Before his appointment as Commissioner, he had been Surveyor General of the Customs of the Northern District of America. Highly lifted up [113] with his consequence as Surveyor General, he thought himself reduced by being appointed a Commissioner.

    He could not submit to share his imagined consequence with anyone and it was sufficient that he had an equal in Office to make him hate the Man.

    He was vain and superficial, in no wise a Man of education, knowledge, or business. Confident, arrogant, [word scratched out] and ignorant; yet with some address, and a little specious shew he passed upon people at first [114] as a Man of parts, and cleverness. His vanity, and assuming manner might only render him worthy of contempt; but the wickedness of his heart, made him justly the object of detestation and abhorrence.

    If he was offended with another, he was implacable in his resentment. And whoever shewed countenance to the object of his hatred drew on himself his malignancy and shared in the bitterness of his vengance.

    It was equally dangerous to oblige him, for his pride [115] could not brook the sight of the Man who had done him favours.

    [Entire paragraph scratched out in the manuscript.]

    He bore an inveterate hatred to Governor Bernard and was a great fomentor of the troubles, and disturbances, that were raised against him in his Government. [116]

    When it was told to the Governor that Mr. Temple had said he should be content to go to the Gates of Hell[,] if he could plunge him therein, the Governor replyed “I may perhaps be carried to the gates of Heaven by saving him from destruction.”

    Mr. Temple would not attend his Brethren to the Governor on their arrival nor wait on him to qualify into Office. Nor would he visit Mr. Paxton, a Brother Member, or join at any of those Parties where the Commissioners were invited to Dinner (except once at the Lt. Governor’s), but entirely [117] seperated himself in opinion, and conduct from his Brethren, espousing the Popular party. And he drew off their little insignificant Secretary, Mr. Venner, from his duty to the Board, and to act unbecoming his confidential Office.54 And other subordinate Officers he spirited up against the Commissioners, and the measures of the Board. [118]