Mr. R. Nicholson
Antigua 10 February 17601
I had lately the pleasure to receive your favour of 25 October by way of Guadalupe. You certainly think I am possessed of a good deal of patience, by letting me continue so long without hearing from you, or you imagine as I have been several Years an Exile from my native Country, that my affections are so far estranged from it, as to leave me indifferent to the affairs of it, and the concerns of my friends. Indeed I find my connections with England lessening, without my attachments strengthening here. I seldom hear from any one except my Brother or Sister. He informs me [of] no News and she has sufficient weight upon her to give little room to other thoughts. How hard is it for a person of benevolent affections, to be separated from his friends! To stand alone in the World! I am alone, unsupported, a Stranger in the World—without a home—my youth is now past—my expectations are damped. Nine years of anxiety and solicitude are a great trial of a man’s patience, and almost sufficient to sour his Temper—yet this I have experienced with little outward consolation, advice or sympathy.
If you imagine me possessed of right Sentiments, and generous affections, you cannot think I can reflect on our past friendship without much tender feeling. I would not wish any one who feels as I do, to experience what I have done. I have no one to share in the troubles which oppress me. I look back on past scenes wherein I was happy, but they will no more return; before me the prospect is dreary. This life, though short, has many changes; nothing is certain—may you be happy. I assure you it will be a matter of great pleasure to me to hear that you are so.
Could you inform me of no events amongst our friends? As to the Publick we have heard with great Joy the glorious events of 59.2 I have lately read two good productions, Robertson’s history of Scotland and Montague on the rise and fall of antient Republicks.3 I could wish to have your Townspaper sent me by Vessels coming to any of these Islands. There is always in it some Townside news which I am glad to see. I have often desired Brother to send it me, but in vain. Will you be so kind? If you will, I’ll rummage amongst my scraps of Poetry and send you some in return, though I assure you I’ll rhyme no more. Some time since a Gentleman sent me a Latin Poem on the King of Fairies, desiring me to translate it. I neglected it some time till he pressed me much. I send it to you, inclosed with a song on 594 that I may be beforehand with you. The latter I could not refuse, as it was designed for our publick dinner, on the taking of Quebec, but no one could find a tune for it—don’t think I waste my time in Rhyming. I assure you I find better employment.
Pray make my Compliments to Mr. Hodgson and I wish him happy in his new state. What is J. Dobson about?
I wish my best respects to Mrs. Nicholson, your Brother’s, Mr. Cropper’s, Mr. Lightbody’s5 familys, and all friends.
Your Most Obedient Servant,
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Mr. R. Nicholson
Merchant in Liverpool
24 January 17611
I own myself indebted to you for the favour of a letter some time past but hope the uncertain situation I have been in, will excuse to you for my not writing.
I expect to hear from the Baron2 by the next Mails, which perhaps will determine the point of my going to Germany, or not. He is desirous to see me there, but I am less solicitous as to an employment with the Army, as I am afraid I should not gain much reputation in it; there have been loud clamours lately against the management of the Commissaries, and people grow weary of the heavy expences of the War in Germany.
If I do not go to Germany, I cannot expect any effect from my Solicitations till after the Parliament is chose, and then I can hardly hope for advancement at home, for to be sure my Interest is not equal to what it was, had I returned a year sooner I might have got something handsome, events have fallen out a little unlucky for me but it is not becoming a right mind to be disturbed by those disappointments which arise from causes independent of its own prudence and skill.
To spend life in the West Indies is a dreary prospect. I have suffered much in being unrivetted from past connections, and I cannot enter into new engagements with that warmth I have formerly done. Indeed it is rare to meet with proper objects on whom to place our confidence and affection. The heart grows callous and suspicious from frequent disappointments and is unwilling to expose itself to fresh pain by connections that may only prove the disingenuity and ingratitude of human nature.
I have met with a few great and good characters in different parts, and it is worthwhile turning over a good deal of rubbish to find a few diamonds.
Interest, vanity and pleasure are the bane of the generous affections, they contract the mortals view into its own little significance and prevent the mind from exerting itself in any thing worthy or good: and yet one or the other of these engages the chief attention of most people in this great World of London. For my own part, I am here alone. I have no Business in the City, no employment elsewhere. I am not fond of Cards, and have no ear for musick. As to the playhouses, they never were in a lower state, nor were ever more crowded. They have few tolerable actors, and they act little but the same trash over again. The Beggar’s Opera, Minor, and Jovial Crew have been acted half the nights this Winter.
I go down every Saturday to Waltham’s tow, and stay til Tuesday. Mr. Basnett bears his misfortunes with great resignation and is pretty chearful when he has company. We had Miss Friend and Mrs. Cockshutt at different times to spend the Holidays there. Miss Basnett is returned to the Boarding School at Clapton and I believe Mr. Basnett has thoughts when she comes from thence for her to go to Liverpool.
My Brother wrote me since his return from Buxton, that my sister was in a bad State of Health, which gave me much concern. I wrote to her but have not heard from either of them since.
I hear you are likely to have an opposition at Liverpool. If so, I should not choose to be with you till after the Election.
I shall conclude my Letter with an extract from the last I had from my friend Mr. Ruling at Brunswick, as I think the sentiments will please you.
“I hope you received my Letter in which I explained to you my reasons in regard to your circumstances, being very sensible to all that concerns your affairs. The greatest blessing in human life is I think to sympathize in the troubles of our friends and enjoy the satisfaction of a good conscience. I know by experience that Adversity is the school of Wisdom where the Virtues are all cherished, Prosperity that of Folly where the Vices are encouraged. Philosophy and Religion are the best supports in our Life, which, without rules of morality is a wayward uneasy being, with snatches only of Pleasure; but under the regulation of Virtue, a reasonable and uniform habit of enjoyment.”
I am with my best respects to Mrs. Nicholson, Mr. Cropper’s, your Brother’s, Mr. Lightbody’s families, and all friends.
Your Most Obedient
On my arrival at Head Quarters in Germany I was set down to certify accounts to Contractors &c. The Vouchers for these were so irregular and so much confusion and Iniquity were detected that I was very cautious in certifying; and wherever I detected any fraud I prosecuted it to the utmost. To give you a proof of this, the very first day I was at Paderborn, even before I began business, a man came to me, and offered me a Ton and [a] half of Gold to get him a Contract (about £15,000). This person did get a Contract (not through my means) and I kept such an eye on him as to detect his Iniquity and I arrested him at Head Quarters, had him confined and he was brought to ruin.
In the course of business I happened to detect some orders given by Monsr. de Masson (the Duke’s prime minister) which I thought gave opening to great frauds. I represented the evil—was not attended to—insisted upon it—was dropped and removed from my department—had a very severe one appointed to me, where I could be of little service. I wrote to the Treasury with a state of my Conduct, and this was the first notice they got of the iniquitous business going forward.
The Commission of Enquiry was appointed some time after in which I was placed and when we were called home it was intended that Mr. Cuthbert and I should have been in the German Commission; but either the contractors by their friends prevented us being kept together or Mr. Pownal through interest got appointed unto it4—but I was intended by Mr. Grenville to be Secretary to the Commissioners of the Customs for the plantations. Yet when my constitution was made out, it was only plantation clerk.
The salary was to be £500 per Annum, without being subject to the Land Tax. Not being called Secretary, the Secretary got the fees of my Office, and to do a good turn the Secretary’s office gave in my name to the Commissioners of the Land Tax as subject to it, which ought not to have been done. However, I am saddled with £90 per Annum. I gave up my place at Antigua, which was above £300 per Annum, and my present employment is reduced by taxes £125 per Annum.
What I want and expect now is to have the Land tax made up to me, and my employment was never intended to be subjected to it.
Mr. Cuthbert and I were employed a year at Whitehall in the business of our enquiry, that no doubt the Treasury will pay us for, and I expect a handsome Gratuity for my German services; but the countenance and recommendation of some people of consequence with the Ministry is necessary to obtain even our just pretensions. The German Office has closed with great reputation and Mr. Cornwall5 and Mr. Cuthbert will, I don’t doubt, both of them have handsome gratuities and good employments.
It was a more easy matter to liquidate unsatisfied demands at Whitehall than to attack and prosecute a set of Contractors &c. in Germany. To charge these people with frauds in their past accounts—to revise those acts with infinite Labour and lay the proofs before the Treasury—to stop payments of Money to these people and seize many others, by which the iniquity was greatly checked—to recover back considerable sums to Government—to do this not unsupported and unprotected only, but under every discountenance abroad was a bold and arduous task: and I may safely say that there could not have been found in Germany two men besides ourselves to have gone through what we did in the course of that commission.
Westminster 10 December 17631
I intended writing to you as soon as I knew where our situation in London would be, but we are not yet fixed; my Brother has been looking out some time for more convenient lodgings. We are here three miles from the Custom House. His employment is a new establishment by Mr. Grenville, and the business is to examine and give instructions to the officers of His Majesty’s Customs in the plantations, and no one can be appointed without a certificate from my Brother. There are numbers now waiting to receive instructions from him, and he has first to learn by consulting Acts of Parliament, and then he is to form a plan for conducting the Business, which has not before been under any regulations. It is very extensive, being not only appointing new officers, but an inspection over all the officers abroad, in order that they do their duty, and the prevention of frauds. Mr. Grenville appears to have it much at heart, and hopes thereby to find a great increase in the Revenue. My Brother is dependent on none but Him and the Commissioner of ye Customs, both [of] whom he has immediate communication with. The salary fixed is £500 per annum and ye fees supposed to be above £200. The task they had set him seems to be, after combating with ye knaves in G[ermany], to find ‘em out in America and ye West Indies. I am concerned it is a place that requires so much attention and care, for the constant application and perplexing difficulties he has been subject to above two years past has I fear injured his health, and relaxation and exercise would be best for him. He intends going to Bath about Xtmas, as he’s advised.
It is surprising how he has got through such arduous circumstances. A kind providence had supported and protected him, else he must have been crushed to pieces when contending with a host of wicked malicious and powerfull enemies. Every man in Germany from the Duke to the lowest was his foe. He could lay open such a scene of iniquity as would be amazing. Every art was used to bring him over or ruin him, first by flatteries and allurements, then by embarrassments and traps to ensnare him, then by false oaths and accusations, by reproaches and threats. He was threatened with private revenge if not public satisfaction (the Lords of the Treasury say they wonder he was not assassinated). All this he had to support alone, but after remonstrating to those who had it in their power to stem the torrent of iniquity in vain, he wrote to the Treasury, and their Lordships immediately appointed the Commission of Inquiry, investing the Commissioners with a power greater than the Secretary of State has here. This struck terror and gave a check to the iniquitous practices which, if carried on, and the war continued a few years longer, must have exhausted the Treasure of Britain, and proved its ruin, even though we had still been successful in arms. It is strange there was not a man in Germany that would make a stand against the general corruption. There was some few of honest hearts, but intimidated by power and carried by the stream, not one man to be found in whom skill, honesty, spirit, and ability were united. Nor were there, they say, any men that would have undertaken and gone through what Mr. Cuthbert and my Brother did, nor would they again, I believe, upon any consideration whatever. Mr. Cuthbert is a fine old gentleman, but I doubt his heart is broke by these German affairs. My Brother could have got £50,000 in six months’ time after he went over, with much less trouble than it cost him not to do it, though it must have been on terms too hard for him to submit to.
Methinks ‘tis a strange world I am got into. I can’t stir out but I must either be jolted in a hackney coach, or have a German valet attending me that can scarce speak a word of English. Indeed, I walk in the park sometimes, when the weather is good, and I’ve company, and yesterday I presumed to venture out by myself to call upon a young lady whom I had been to see oftener than once with my Brother. But it’s a shame to say I lost myself, and could neither find the way there nor home again, though at length I arrived safe back, to my great joy.
It is expected the Court will be very gay soon when the Hereditary Prince arrives. They say the Princess Augusta is in very poor spirits on the prospect of her change of circumstances, and that the Hereditary Prince has not a great deal of zeal, having, it’s said, another attachment. This alliance can be no great advantage to England, which, however, is very generous in its Dowry to the Princess.2
Yesterday Mr. Wilkes’ trial with the Secretary of State, at the Court of Common Pleas, was decided in favour of Wilkes, and £1000 damages allowed him. Lord Halifax and Mr. Wilkes both live in the next street to us, that is Georges Street. Wilkes’ house was illuminated last night, and the mob went with musick and played before his Door, shouting for Wilkes; then they went to Lord H[alifax]s’s, doing the same and cursing Lord H[alifax]. Tomorrow Wilkes is to be brought before the House of Lords to answer ye accusation of writing a libel, and it’s expected he must stand in the Pillory. I hope he will recover of the wound he received in the duel for Mr. Martin’s sake, a gentleman my Brother is more obliged to than any man in the world.
Mr. R. Nicholson
London 17 December 17631
I did not write after the receipt of your favour of the 3rd October, as I was daily expecting to see you in town and have been much disappointed that you could not undertake the Journey, as I flattered myself with great pleasure in the Interview—and was sorry by your last Letter to hear the Occasion that prevented it; but hope your health is now reestablished. Your Brother did us the favour to dine one day with us and another day I was with him, along with Mr. Percival, whose acquaintance I am much pleased with.
I have been much engaged in entering into the detail of my new Office and this before I was well recovered from the fatigues of business abroad. My health was there impaired, and my present attention prevents its reestablishment—but I intend going to Bath next Friday for three weeks and hope that will recover me.
The Ministry have much at heart the improvement of the American Revenue and are taking proper measures towards it. The Treasury thought it necessary to separate this branch from the other service in the customs and to appoint a person to the charge of the plantation Affairs under the Commissioners, who are to be particularly attentive to the conduct of the Revenue Officers in America and to prepare all the correspondence and business from the Board with them—and Mr. Grenville did me the honour to appoint me to this department as an approbation of my past Services and confidence in future ones. I am now engaged in this business, which will be growing every year, and I hope to make mine an office of Utility and thereby advance my own consequence. My Office and business is detached from the Secretary’s and is in effect a Secretary for the plantations, as I have an immediate communication with the Board—but they don’t chuse to have two Secretaries and I am only called Plantation Clerk, with an appointment as Secretary and two clerks under me.
I was very much concerned at the unfortunate affair of Mr. Martin with Mr. Wilkes.2 Mr. — [Martin] has been very much my friend and did me great Justice in representing my Conduct to the former as well as present Board of Treasury. He told them there never was in his or any country two men of more distinguished Integrity or that had a greater claim upon Government for their services than Mr. Cuthbert and myself. It is an unhappy thing that this affair of W[ilkes] is still drawn on and both houses have been taken up in enquiring into circumstances that have fallen out in consequence of it. Mr. M[artin] is in Flanders.
You remember Dr. Demainbray at Liverpool. He has now a good place in the Customs. I reminded him the other day of my being his pupil then and he recollected you and several friends. He told me Mr. Grenville had spoken of me to him — Says the Dr., “he is engaged in a very extensive and arduous department” — and says Mr G[renville] “it is nothing new to him: we know him well from his services in Germany” and said many handsome things of me; so you see I stand very well with one of the first great men.
I am &c.,
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Willaston 4 September 17671
Dear Mrs L. is I imagine in the Country where I hope She enjoys health and pleasure and benefit by her journey to Buxton.
I have many things to tell you, and some very interesting events I must communicate to my Friend.
I received a letter from my Brother date August 29th, that Morning about 5 o’Clock my Sister was happily Delivered of a fine Boy. She had a severe time. The Midwife attended from Thursday till then (Saturday), when my Brother wrote She was better than could be expected, and proposed to suckle it herself.2 A few hours after this stranger arrived in this world my Brother received a summons from the Treasury to prepare for going to the New World, which is matter of great concern to him, I suppose you have heard of the new commission to be established in America. They have appointed my Brother to be one of the Commissioners even before his Knowledge of it, or acquainting him with it and he says there has been something very extraordinary in the Circumstances of all the employments he has had, as he has been appointed to them all without a particular solicitation for that Office. In the present Affair they have behaved very genteel to him, he took no measures to be appointed but rather avoided it. The offer from his Grace the D[uke] of G[rafton] to be the first in the Commission was a mark of great Confidence—had he declined accepting this offer, he must have remained at home on his bare salary, and should never have been taken notice of again by the treasury.
There are some circumstances (he says) in the alteration that will tend to soften the change of Situation and as Providence orders his Lot he chearfully acquiesces.
But he must go immediately as soon as the Commission has passed the great Seal. It will be a great embarrassment to him. He can not possibly remove his Family and Effects, Therefore he will endeavour to get Leave to stay til Spring, though the Treasury are bent on a speedy Establishment of the Commission.
Now you must Know that my Brother and Sister, it seems, are desirous for me to accompany them. He says I may be sure it would make them very happy, and that he shall be in such a situation as to give me every advantage that the place and society can yeild, and for my comfort we shall not be exposed to such a corruption of manners, as in London, for the Presbyterians have the Majority at Boston. I shall let the Commissioners know that his Sister, if she goes, does not intend to set up for a fine Lady, but for something more uncommon a Merchant—a Character, however, which She thinks She can act with greater propriety and advantage, as well as satisfaction to herself. Some usefull employment as Traffick or cultivating a small Plantation in the Country will be most agreeable to my genius and inclination and best for health. Whatever scheme I pursue I shall submit to his judgement and direction, and shall beware of any partnership; have seen enough of that. I have continued here a great deal longer than I intended, but this house not being set, and my Brother having none in the Country this Summer, and I find riding about and going to Parkgate to Bathe, very conducive to my health, my Brother therefore encouraged me to stay a while longer—besides there has been a great many repairs necessary here, which the Tenant was desirous to have done whilst I was here. The Bearer of this goes to Mr. Carle to get some Deal Balk for repairing our Barn. I hope to leave here the latter end of next week or the week after, and to be in London by the 20th of this month—My Brother’s Wedding Day. Perhaps I may take another Dip or two the next Spring, and I don’t know but Miss J: will come here and spind a day at Parkgate if I don’t go up before, and the Weather be good.
I’ve gone often to Chester and Parkgate where I met many of my acquaintance, and it has been very agreeable.
I understand Dr. P[ercival] is likely to fix at Manchester. I was at Chester last Saturday, and believe shall go next there, was very glad to find Mr C[ropper?] so much better.
It is a mysterious part of the Providence of God, when he permits his Servants to be incapacitated for usefulness, and to labour under languishing affliction and severe Tryals, when he could ease ‘em with a word. But surely it is that they may have the more experience of his Faithfulness, and Goodness, and he of their Obedience, and Love, That they may know the Loving kindness, the care, and Wisdom, of that God, that Pilots their Ship, when it is covered with Storms and Waves, and that they may be encouraged more and more to Trust Him, who can Deliver when all the help of Man is vain. I reflect with pleasing Admiration and Gratitude on the Dealings of Providence, even the Afflictive dispensations, when he hath placed me amongst strangers and in such circumstances that I stood most in need of the kind aids and soothing voice of Friendship. When I seemed destitute and sinking into the Grave, A Gracious God appeared for my relief, and wrought out deliverance for me though unworthy and distrustfull. It is impossible for those who do not feel what a sufferer feels to know, how in circumstances of Distress, even neglect wounds, and how doubly grateful and endearing consolatory, and supporting, at such a season, is the officious kindness of a friend.
I look to the highest cause, acknowledge and adore the Sovereign Hand that hath mingled some bitter ingredients in my portion to quick my relish for the blessings of life, and perhaps prepare me for a more prosperous Scene, or however, no doubt, to teach Me a more entire dependance upon and resignation to him under all Events. O, may I learn duty to improve present mercies, and maintain an habitual, humble, resigned and grateful frame, That I may not be taught the value of my enjoyments by a deprivation of them. Several circumstances have concurred to weaken my attachment to England. Though I have many friends here in whose happiness I must still be interested, and shall take my leave with an heavy heart, if I do not indulge a secret hope of revisiting my native country, But if Providence does not permit us to meet again in this world, I trust in some happier Region we shall, and with Transport and glowing Gratitude, review, and recount, Those Steps, and that Discipline, by which our heavenly Father has led us to, and prepared us for, a State of perfection and happiness. That this may be, though at some distant Period, that you may long enjoy the present Scene and an increasing felicity in your family, is the ardent Wish and Prayer of Dear Yours.
My Compliments to all friends. I’ve received several Obliging letters from Mrs. W, and am ashamed not to have answered her last so long agoe, but I believe it would be as easy to keep up a correspondence from North America as this Place. Opportunity so rarely happen immediately from hence, besides one does not know always when they go. J[ohn] H[incks] is not set sail yet. It will be strange if my Brother should go to America before him. I don’t know what detains the former. The Bride and Groom, Mr. And Mrs. Wrench, were engaged to Dine ay my Brother’s the Day my Sister was taken ill, and so my Brother was obliged to excuse himself from receiving them on that Account. He did not know Mr W. till they called on him, before then he wondered we should be surprized at his geting a Wife when had so much money—let him be what he would, yet if he came up to London with £40,000 he would find 500 ready to have him. In his next Letter he said he did not think above 250 even there, but everyone to their taste.
London 17 December 17671
. . . To Day we have the pleasure to receive two Letters from my Brother of the 5th and 15 November, giving an Account of his Voyage and safe Arrival at Boston, a pretty good Voyage of six weeks. He was sick half the time. As for J[ohn] Hincks2 he never was ill, but eat and drank all the way. Our next Attention is to what reception the Commissioners met with. Many people think they will meet with difficulties having Turbulent Folks to deal with. My Brother is pretty well known there and in the W. Indies by his late employment, and we hope from what we have heard that they are rather prejudiced in his favour, though his present Commission will not help to recommend.
He says they happened unluckily to arrive on the most riotous day in the year, the 5th November. [He] believes the mob carried twenty Devils, Popes, and Pretenders, through the Streets, with Labels on their breasts, Liberty and Property and no Commissioners. He laughed at ‘em with the rest. By the last Letter, all was very quiet.
We had a Note from Mrs. Rogers yesterday. One of her little Boys was recovering of a Fever, Mrs W. was very ill, and almost all the Servants ill too. Mr R. they say died worth 60,000, which he bequeathed to Mr R.
Miss Newton is gone over to Venice with Lady Wright . . .
Your Affectionate friend
London 15 February 17681
The Receipt of Dear Mrs L. favor gave Me great pleasure, and was glad to find your family was well—wish Mr and Mrs R L joy of their Son. My Sister and I are as happy as we can be in our absense from my Brother, and as busy as we can be in preparing to go to him. We shall embark I believe sooner than we thought of, for there is but one Vessel appointed fit for us to Sail in. It’s called the Boscowen, Captain Jacobson. The Merchants are so obliging to give my Sister the choice of her Company in the Cabbin, there being many persons desirous to go in the same Ship
The company fixed on are the Collector of Bahama, his Lady and young Child, who have made the Voyage before and therefore have experience and will know how to bear the squalling of Brats. My little Nephew was innoculated in the height of the fashion in the Cool way. My Sister I believe would never innoculate one so young again, as it’s distressing not to know their complaints when they are so very ill. She had a wet Nurse, though as much averse to it as you are, and her prejudice against them is far from being removed. It was necessity obliged her to it, and great importunity from us all prevailed on her, for the Life of the Infant seemed to depend upon it. The Error was in the month, Nurse not putting it to suck of so long a time, till it could not. It did very well for a week by feeding, then declined till it was just expiring, but soon recruited at the Breast and is now a fine Boy. I hope Mrs A’s are got safe through innoculation.
I was much Surprized to hear by yours of the Death of Miss N. Bent. Mrs K. and Miss T. spent the evening with Us not long agoe and we supped with them last night but one,2
It was indeed very providential J[ohn] H[inck]s’s not going to Florida. Though his Stay here did seem to be the effect of prudence, yet I hope it will prove for the best. The Commissioners have appointed him Clerk of the Minnets, which they say is the best place in the disposal of the Board.
The Commissioners began an Assembly at Boston in order to wear off the prejudice of the people and to cultivate their Acquaintance. There were about 100 at the first Opening of it, and my Brother had the honor of dancing the first Minnuet. J[ohn] H[incks] made no small figure at it, and is very easy and happy with them all, but the Misfortune is there are no fortunes there.
Our Estate at W. is to be sold at L. the 10th of Next Month as you’ll see Advertised. Mr E. writes me that my being present is not necessary and I shall willingly be excused Crossing the Water this time of the Year, but intend being at Chester in a fortnight’s time.
Castle William, Boston Harbor
June 30, 17681
I presume it will be agreeable to you to hear that my Brother’s Family had a good Voyage of 5 Weeks and arrived all well at Boston the 5th Instant. You will be surprized to hear how we were obliged to fly from the Place in six Days after and take Refuge on board the Romney Man of War, lying in Boston Harbour. Mrs Burch, at whose house I was, had frequently been alarmed with the Sons of Liberty surrounding her house with most hideous howlings as the Indians, when they attack an Enemy, to many insults and outrages She had been exposed since her arrival, and threatened with greater violences. She had removed her most valuable Effects and held herself in readiness to depart at an hours notice. The Occasion soon happened. When my Sister and I accompanyd her at 10 o’Clock at night to a Neighbour’s house, not apprehending much danger, but we soon found that the Mobs here are very different from those in O[ld] England, where a few lights put into the Windows will pacify, or the interposition of a Magistrate restrain them, but here they act from principle and under Countenance, no person daring or willing to suppress their Outrages, or to punish the most notorious Offenders for any Crimes whatever. These Sons of Violence, after attacking Houses, breaking Window[s], beating, Stoning and bruizing several Gentlemen belonging to the Customs, the Collector mortally,2 and burning his boat, they consulted what was to be done next, and it was agreed to retire for the night. All was ended with a Speech from one of the Leaders, concluded thus, “We will defend our Liberties and property, by the Strength of our Arm and the help of our God, to your Tents O Israel.”3 This is a Specimen of the Sons of Liberty, of whom no doubt you have heard, and will hear more.
The next Day the Commissioners had sufficient notice of their danger and the Plots against them. All their friends Advised ‘em to retire to a more secure place, The Governor particularly telling ‘em it was not in his power to protect ‘em.
That Evening Saturday We set off in a Barge under a Convoy of Man of War Boats, with Marines, their bayonets fixed, to the Romney, a fifty Gun Ship of War, lying ready in the Harbour. About fifty of us Refugees were well accommodated and very genteely entertained there for nine Days, the Captain’s Lady being on board. On the 21st Instant We removed to this Castle, by the Governor’s permission. This was a Scene you will believe quite new to me, and indeed the series of events since leaving Old England appears romantic.
I must own I have been ashamed of the Presbyterians, but have the satisfaction to hear they are very different, these being Oliverian Independants.4
From the inherent Republican, and levelling principles, here’s no subordination in the Society. Government is extirpated, and it is quite a State of Anarchy. There are some sensible and good people that are greatly alarmed at their impending fate. The infant Colonies have been advancing toward a State of Independency. Many things have concurred to bring on the Crisis sooner than expected. The Sedition has been falsely represented at home as a dying Faction — but the defection is too general; most of the other Provinces are only waiting to see the event of this effort in Boston. The poison of disaffection has been infused and spread by inflammatory writers over the Continent. Lord Camden and Lord Chatham’s Speechs on the Repeal of the stamp Act has opened to them a new view of their priviledges, and I dare say they are enrolled in their Records, as sacred as their Charters, from this Authority, the Authority and power of the British Parliament to tax them is openly denied. To this purpose the Assembly here sent a Petition to His Majesty[,] which it was thought proper at home not to present.
The Credulity of the Common people here is imposed on by a number of Lies raised to irritate and inflame them. They believe that the Commissioners have an unlimited power given to tax even their Lands, and that it’s in order to raise a Revenue, for supporting a Number of Bishops that are coming over &c. They are inspired with an enthusiastic Rage for defending their Religion and liberties. Every Officer of the Crown that does his duty is become obnoxious, and they must either fly or be sacrificed. The Attacks were always in the dark, several hundreds against one Man, and there’s great Reason to believe that the Lives of some in particular was aimed at—As to my Brother and Mr. Burch, we often hear that it[’]s generally said They have no personal peak5 to them. As Gentlemen they would treat ‘em with great Civility, but as Commissioners most dreadful threatenings are denounced against all. They are prohibited setting foot on Shore against their peril, and in case any of them does, the Sexton of each Church has orders to give Notice by tolling a Bell, when all the Bells are to ring as for Fire to alarm the Inhabitants and raise the Mob to tear ‘em to pieces. They likewise threaten to drive Us hence, saying this Castle belongs to the province and not to the King, But have not yet taken this step to an Open Rebellion, though from good intelligence we know they have been plotting to surprize us in the Night. Should they make this desperate attempt, they might massacre Us[,] but their Escape would be impossible, for the Man of War; this is all our security at present.
However hard the fate of us fugitives may seem, we must acknowledge there are many favorable circumstances attending. It is happy for Us that our flight was in the Summer, for this Island they say would not be habitable for Us in the Winter. Though it now appears delightful and a most Agreeable Summer Retreat. I am Your Affectionate
Castle William 12 July 17681
This incloses my letter of the 30th past (intending to be sent by a Ship bound for Liverpool) which informs you of our critical Situation, in which we are likely to remain some time till Government is restored and its Servants supported. The business of the Commission in the mean time carried on here. My Brother has had a vast deal on his hands ever since he came Out. We found him just recovering of a fever caught by Lodging in an unaired Bed in a House he had taken about 4 Miles from Boston[,] in the Country (it’s about 2 Miles off Us here besides one mile by Water), of no use to us now, though half of the Furniture is brought there, and there’s a Negro Servant employed in the Garden. Mr Burch’s and my Brother’s Families have Apartments here in the Citade[l], which are rather elegant than Commodious. Two of the Commissioners besides are of our Mess, but don’t Lodge here. One of ‘em goes every night to the Romney and the other Lodges in the Barracks. The Clerks all Lodge in the Barracks, and make separate families. The fifth Commissioner, Mr. T[emple] is connected with the Town in every respect. He does not Associate with us though he Lodge[s] here to save appearances.2
This is our Situation, and you are not to imagine us, though, in a state of banishment, secluded from Society or the rest of the World. It is rather like one of the Publick water drinking places in England. We have a great many Visitors come every Day from Boston incog[nito], and are seldom less than twenty at dinner. We live luxuriously though I don’t find provisions so cheap as I expected, but I believe We Government people pay dearer. The increase of our Naval Force has added to the gaiety of the place. The task assigned me, steward of the Household and Mistress of the Ceremony of the Tea table Morning and Evening is no little business I assure you. This fine Climate agrees well with us all and every body seems much happier in their exiled state than on the Land of Liberty. Mrs. B[urch] is a well[-]bred, agreeable woman. She says surely there never was a number of persons jumbled together so agreeable to each other, and I hope she will have more rest now we are better guarded, for she seldom went to bed before 3 o’Clock in the Morning for watching the Enemy.
The Sons of Liberty within these ten Days several unexpected strokes of3 their The Dissolution of the General in consequence of Dr. Hilsbrough to the Governor on their refusal Resolutions of the Last House the Forces from the back Settlements Towns, leaving open to the Indians—and of Ships and Sloopes of War arrived here from Jamaica. We have now no less than five Stationed round this Island as our Guard. The Commodore has shown great Attention to the Service, and sends word if they are not enough he will come himself, but we are now sufficiently guarded, having each a Ship near our Window, however another Ship . . . Captain Corner has made a discovery that this harbour will admit of many Ships of the Line. This was unknown to Government before. It’s reported that a Regiment of Soldiers is on the way from New York to Boston. The seventeen Members that Voted for Rescinding are now persecuted as much as the Commissioners and worse, being more in their power. Dear Madam, Your Affectionate Friend
Governor Bernard has just now drank tea here with Us. His Excellency says, two more such years as the past and the British Empire is at an End.
[Henry Hulton to Mr. de Ruling]
Hohentham near Halle, Saxe
23 August 17681
Mr. De Ruling
It is a considerable time since I had the honor to write to You; indeed, the attention I have been obliged to give to the business of the Revenue, in which I am engaged, has not allowed me time for my private correspondence; and my health has suffered by close application. However, I am at present pretty well, and had the satisfaction to be joined by my family here from England, in perfect health, about two months ago.
It would be impossible to give You a State of the affairs in this Country, and of our situation in it, in the compass of a letter. The Americans, having been long indulged by Great Britain, were extreamly averse to the payment of any duties towards defraying the expence which the Mother Country was at in maintaining and defending them; and the Parliament having laid a Stamp duty on America about four Years ago, which they afterwards repealed, upon the clamours and remonstrances of the Americans, and their friends at home. These people imagined that the same measures would produce the like consequences; and upon the establishment of a Board of Customs, and laying some new duties in America in the last Year, the like clamours, and opposition to the measures of Government arose. The most inflammatory publications were spread through the Colonies and every plan was concerted that might counteract the resolutions of Parliament. They cry aloud for liberty, and boast of loyalty to their Sovereign, but their notion of liberty is licentiousness, and their loyalty a spirit of independence, denying the authority of Great Britain.
Such was the temper of the Colonies when we Commissioners arrived here. The Demagogues of the People have been stirring them up to resistance ever since our arrival; whilst the several Assemblies have been remonstrating with the Ministry at home; and complaining of the hardship of their fate in being taxed by the Parliament of Great Britain. We continued to act in our duty at Boston as long as it was safe for our persons to remain there; but the Civil Government being in so relaxed a State as not to be able to give Us any support, and there being no troops there to protect Us, we were obliged to retire into the Castle, on a small Island in the harbour about three miles from Boston; where we shall remain untill Government at home takes measures to support its authority here.
From the account I have given of our situation, You will conceive it to be very disagreable, and our task an arduous one; however, I can reconcile myself to the former, and do not doubt to go through the latter, when we are supported.
The form of Government in this Country is too much of the Democratic to allow proper vigor to the executive branch; and the ease with which landed property is acquired, tends to keep up those independent leveling principles which the first Set[t]lers brought with them. There being new land sufficient for all comers to this Country, and the necessary provisions easily raised, population goes on amazingly. The climate in this part of America is very healthy, though I think the winter colder and the Summer hotter than in England.
If you are desirous to read the history of New England, I would recommend You Hutchinson’s lately published. That Gentleman is Lt. Governor of this Province; a native of it and one who is an honor to it and to mankind; however, he has the misfortune, like the best characters in most Countries, not to meet with due honor from his Countrymen. He has been persecuted and vilified for what should have rendered him most respected.
[Henry Hulton to Mr. de Ruling]
To the Same
6 April 17691
About the middle of November we returned to Boston from the Castle, four Regiments being arrived there by order of Government for our protection, and the support of the Laws. And we have since continued to exercise our Commission quietly in town; but the temper of the people is not altered, and the ferment that has been raised throughout the Country, against the authority of Parliament will not soon subside. There will require an alteration in the Constitutions of these Colony Governments, to maintain this Country in proper subordination to Great Britain: and I do not doubt that measures will be taken this Session of Parliament, to support its authority, and secure the future obedience of the Colonies.
We have had a pretty good Society this Winter, from an addition of a number of Servants of the Crown. I found great difficulty on my return to town to get either a house, or lodging, from the prejudice of the people against the Commissioners; so that I was in a manner obliged to look out in the Country and I have bought a house about five miles from Boston with about thirty Acres of land; and I flatter myself with a great deal of happiness in this retirement. The business of the Commission will require my attendance in Boston four days in the week, and the other part I hope to employ with my family, and little improvement upon the farm.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Mr. Robert Nicholson
Merchant in Liverpool
Boston 6 April 17691
I am obliged to your for your kind favour of the 23rd December and much concerned to hear of the Indisposition of your family—but hope your young ones are recovered and that they will be continued as future blessings to you. We have all been very well, both during our exile at the Castle and since our return. The sea air and salt water were of great service to us, and little Tom Thumb has been so well nursed, and tossed about that he is thought a wonderful child by other folks besides his father and Mother, and I shall be very well satisfied if the young American that is coming is but equal at its age to the young Englishman.
We have gone through many perils, and besides all the resistance and resentment that we have found from the people, we have had to combat with many difficulties that have been stirred up by persons near ourselves, and our Secretary is gone home under suspension.2 We have an arduous task—but the raising a Revenue is only a secondary consideration until the authority of the Laws is restored.
We returned to Boston from the Castle about the middle of November, and have since that time exercised our Commission in quiet, having the protection of his Majesty’s troops. But the temper of the people is not changed, and as they cannot attack us publickly, they publish the most gross and illiberal calumnies against us and the other Servants of the Crown, nor could we have the prospect of any redress from a prosecution in their courts and by their juries.
The Servants of Government here are now pretty numerous, and we have a good Society with them and a few families in town. But as to the people in general and their politics, I would wish to avoid saying any thing of them. Let your Republicans, Independents and Zealots for Liberty come to Boston. They will then learn the value of good Government and the respect they owe to the Laws and Constitution of their Country.
When we returned from the Castle it was with difficulty I procured Lodgings for my family at a high rate in Town; for such was the prejudice of the people against the Commissioners that no one would rent me a house; and I found myself under the necessity of looking out for one in the country, and at last I have been obliged to purchase one to which I shall remove soon. It is about five Miles from town, with 30 Acres of Land; but no sooner was it known to be the property of a Commissioner, than the people broke the windows. However, I flatter myself with a great deal of happiness in that retirement.
The business of the board will call me to town four days in the week, and the other three I hope to spend in quiet with my family. The close application I have had to business since my being in America makes it necessary for me to have some relaxation and exercise.
I return you thanks for the Newspapers you sent me and shall be obliged to you for them by such opportunities as after from your post—I am &c.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Boston 10 April 17691
I had the pleasure to receive D[ea]r Mrs L[ightbody’]s Kind favor. Was truly concerned for your Affliction, which I had heard of before, doubt not you bore it with your usual patience and resignation, and trust you still experience the care and goodness of God all sufficient. I hope domestick happiness has succeeded to the afflictive Scenes in yours & Mr N[icholson’]s families.
We have resided quietly here since November, and I hope we shall be in no more dangers or alarms from lawless Mobs, yet it’s uncertain what may be on the first execution of the spirited resolves of Parliament, however salutary the effects will be to the Establishment of Government, and the good of the Colonies. But it is certain that our safety and quiet depends on the Army and Navy being here, and that Opposition will be vain when G[reat] Britain is resolved.
They have no other way now but scurrilous abuse, which constantly employs some wicked Low genius. Government, its Friends and Servants, are the Objects. Indeed, Mr B[urch] and my Brother are most favorably treated of any of the four Commissioners as it’s said they came here Strangers to the Country. But against those in Office who are Americans the inveteracy is inconceivable, as acting against their Country they say is an Aggravation. The Gentlemen of the Army share in the Abuse. The Commanding Officer, General Pomeroy, is an amiable worthy Man, and takes great care that his men shall give no real Offense.
This is a very large Town. I have not seen half of it yet. It is joined to the Continent by a small neck of Land, so there’s but one way out of the Town by Land. You will suppose our Acquaintance is not very general, nor do we wish it to be, we have enow,2 for we have been much engaged ever since we came from the Castle, in receiving and paying Visits to different Persons. Most of the better sort of People that we’ve conversed with seem sensible of the great want of a reform, or alteration in the Constitution of Government here, for certainly the Tyranny of the Multitude is the most Arbitrary and oppressive. There’s no justice to be obtained in any case, and many Persons awed by the people are obliged to court Popularity for their own Security. This is only to be done by opposing Government at home. If the People took a dislike to any One, they would make nothing of pulling down their houses. Several persons were threatened with this for no other reason than Visiting Us at the Castle, and it would certainly have been done, with a deal more mischief, had not the Troops arrived Seasonably for our Protection, as well as that of every person of property. Yet there are very few to be met with that will allow the right of taxation to the British Parliament; therefore we avoid politicks.
We are in Lodgings, for there was never a House to be had for a Commissioner when we returned to Boston, and this occasioned my Brother to purchase one, in order to secure a dwelling Place. It is in the Country, five Miles off in an agreeable Situation; has some Land to it. He intends keeping a Cow, and to reside there all Year if it be practicable, but the Winters are very severe here. It is a more unequal Climate than Old England, the extreams of heat and Cold very great, and the changes from one to the other Sudden, frequently on the change of the Wind, yet the Climate agrees with Us.
Here is a very good Assembly set up since we came, the best there is in all America they say, about sixty couple dance every night, once a fortnight, though another called the Liberty Assembly is set up in Opposition. Besides these there is a Concert every other week. I am limited by my paper. Give me leave to hint that it will be a good Opo3 to enclose a few Lines in the parcel to let me know how you and your family and friends do4 It is to come by a Vessel to sail from London in August. My Brother and Sister join in Respects to you, Mr L[ightbody,] and all friends. Yours Affectionately
5 February 17701
I am obliged to you for your french exercise. It was truly french; for the paper was full, and yet there was little in it— little interesting, I mean; for we were in hopes to have heard much of your good self and family, of which not a word. Excuse me if I content myself with plain English in return. You are au faite2 in french. I cannot write it without help, and have not time, if I had patience to look into Dictionaries. It must be owned I am not much endowed with that Virtue, though I lived for some time under the instruction of a laborious German commentator. However, I satisfy my conscience in the want of it, by a reflection that your very patient folks are not people of warm passions; that they can sit still, and see cooly the misfortunes of their friends, without stir[r]ing to help ‘em, and therefore, if I had more of that Virtue, I might have less of the social ones. Now, if you are persuaded of this, I am sure you must pity me; what a life of discipline and tryal have we not had, for upwards of two years past? Our patience is almost worn out, and if Government does not do something effectual this year, they had better withdraw their servants, and leave these people to themselves. I need not say anything of the weakness of Government, and Tyranny of the people here. The inclosed newspaper shews it sufficiently. The poor Lt. Governour3 has nobody to stand by him—there is a general Lachete,4 as Governor Bernard calls it. Such Councellors! Such Magistrates! Such a constitution! A few Demagogues govern the people. They sett the town bells a ringing, gather all the tag-rag together, then harangue the Mob, talk treason; stir up sedition, pass resolves, and every Man that does not say and do as they please, is afraid for his life, property, or reputation. Yet no one dares set himself against them: though there are two Regiments in town, no Counsellor or Magistrate will dare, or perhaps does not chuse, to make use of them.
It is not possible to give you a thorough idea of these people, and of the state of Government in this Country, in words; you must see it to believe things are, as they are.
Government at home set out wrong in their first Establishment in this Country. They were glad to get rid of a troublesome set of people, and gave ‘em what charters they desired. They did not look to the remote consequences, nor consider the trouble they should give to their successors in office. No nation will retain distant Colonies long in subjection, the Government of which is established upon a popular plan. Yet the New England Governments are the most popular that can be devised.
In the Massachusetts province the Representatives are chosen once a year, and they, together with the old Council, chuse the New Council, so that the Council who ought to support the honour and dignity of the Crown, depend on the favour of the people for their Annual election.
Any town having forty familys has heretofore been entitled to send a Representative to the General Assembly; and the people are obliged to chuse a person resident in their town. Two or three people, (generally the Tavern keeper[,] the Justice, and the Minister) lead the town and get themselves returned Members. In such an Assembly there are many low, ignorant, illiberal shoestringed people, who are easily led by a few crafty designing Men; and these ride the people and make disturbances in the province, bellowing out for liberty, and independence, and raising a clamour from the apprehended dread of taxes, troops, Bishops, and Commissioners.
Every township manages its own prudential affairs at a meeting of the people at large; and every political doctrine is there canvassed freely. And thus they become the constant cause of faction, and sedition. Every man has a voice at these meetings and it is generally the strongest lungs that carries the argument. The sensible and moderate part of the people avoid these meetings, as they cannot oppose popular measures without being exposed to insult and resentment.
The Governor, though appointed by the Crown, is dependant on the people for his salary, and for the sake of peace and harmony, he endeavours to be on good terms with the people; indeed, his power is so limited, that in any contest with them he would reap little but uneasiness to himself. He can negative a Counsellor on the day the new Council is proposed to him by the Assembly, but cannot suspend him afterwards. He can only make or suspend a Justice of the peace with the approbation of his Council, and he can scarce do any act of Government without the advice of his Council; and to be sure, if the matter is the least unpopular, they will not advise him to it. At the meeting of the last Mob Governours, mentioned in the inclosed Newspaper, the Lieut. Governour would have issued a Proclamation for them to disperse, but his Council would not assent to it, and the Mob issued their resolves to the terror of the inhabitants, in defyance of his authority. You see the genius and manner of their Cromwelian Progenitors in their answer to the Lt. Governor. Scripture is brought in, to cover Treason, and Murder.
These people have likewise been suffered to adopt the most democratic form in their religious establishment.
They are mostly Independants, or Congregationalists. Every Township, which answers to our parishes, is a separate Congregation, quite independant of every other power in Church affairs; as are their Ministers of each other. The people chuse their own Minister and pay him what they please to raise among themselves; their Clergy thus become dependant on them for support. The Minister must preach what doctrine suits the people, and live and do just as they please; so that having no real power, they are obliged to acquire an artificial one, which they do by trimming with the people and accommodating themselves to their whims, and humours, and they manage them very dexterously. To please the present passion, in their long prayers they expostulate with the almighty, and pray him to remove their grievances, and the dark clouds that are hanging over them; then they warn their people with a glorious enthusiasm and rouse ‘em in the cause of liberty and independence.
You will see that our Establishment every way seems to have ben intended for preserving the glorious spirit that reigned about 120 years ago; and indeed it has been as well kept, as if it had been bottled, corked, and waxed. Some allowance must be made for an increase of ferocity, from the settlement of a wild country in a rude state of society.
Though this Government should be altered, yet the prospect of order, subordination, and a civilized state is remote. Everything tends to maintain the levelling spirit; great quantities of land remain to be cleared and settled. Every settler is a freeholder. The Crown has retained no quit rents, or other tenure in these provinces. No one will be a servant, or rent an estate from another. No Estates are entailed, but a Man’s property is divided among his children pretty near equally. And there are many people in reduced circumstances, whose parents possessed the greatest fortunes, or held the first Offices in the province. Families soon rise and soon go to decay here; the richest are connected with the poorest, and the lowest are related to some of the highest. Levelling is the principle, and there seems to be no political method yet adopted to secure the continuance of property in a family.
The genius of the people seems to revolt against acknowledging a superior. No pains are taken to instill into Children a respect for Kings, Governours, Magistrates, or superiors. The doctrine, that one Man is as good as another; that we are all born of the same parents; all flesh and blood alike, is early instilled into children’s minds. The servant will not call the person he lives with, Master; and they have the utmost aversion to wearing any thing in the shape of a livery, or performing any Office of allegiance on your person, or table. We have, however, a Coachman, who has the fortitude to drive us in spite of the ridicule of his Countrymen, who point and look at him with contempt, as he passes by. The people are very inquisitive, and what we should call impertinent; they never give on a direct answer, but commonly return your question by another, and if you fall in with them on the road, or at a public house, they will directly enquire of you, who and what you are, and what is your business. One day I overtook a Country man on the road; and after saying something to him about the weather, he began, Are you from Boston? What is the news? Are you a Merchant? Mehaps you are going into the Country to get in your debts? Can you lend a body a hundred or two pounds? No. You can if you would.
The nature of these Governments allows every Man to talk and discuss freely upon all Government, and political matters; and they are all politicians. There are five presses that publish weekly newspapers in the town of Boston. The people are litigious, and perfectly versed in all the little chicane of the Law. The Governor and Commissioners have long been the objects of the grossest abuse in the public papers, but they can have no redress. But if a friend of Government offends one of them, he will be made to pay for it. For instance, a licentious printer abused Mein, a brother printer, and friend to Government. Mein hit him a stroke or two with his cane; an action was commenced and and Mein has been fined about £100 for the affair. The Patriot Otis abused all the Commissioners in the public papers; Mr. Robinson thrashed him heartily. Otis is now prosecuting him at Law, the grand Jury have found a bill, and there is no doubt a Jury will give as much as they can against Mr. Robinson. About the same time, Mr. Temple, another Commissioner, (though not one with the other four) knocked down Mr. Fluker, a Gentleman of fortune, and friend to Government. Mr. Fluker proved the fact by two witnesses, with himself, but the Grand Jury would not find a bill against Mr. Temple.
The weakness of Government, the want of some power to which you can resort for protection, makes every one afraid of his neighbour. The desire of popularity of being well spoken of and not offending the people, is the predominant value and the people knowing their own power, being bred up in sentiments of equality, are presuming and arrogant to the last degree. And it is a great gulp that a person must take on his first coming here, to bear with their manner after being used to that attention and respect which people in a civilised state of society shew to superiors, and each other. They have no sense of that distance and respect due to superior characters, and the most common Mechanic will take to pieces the Governor’s conduct, and judge of your merit as a Divine, a Lawyer, or Philosopher, be your abilities ever so eminent.
Provisions are cheap, and land easily acquired; and from the principles of equality and independence that prevail, every Man will work just as he chuses; so that you who employ him, are obliged to solicit as a favour the Man who is to do any labour, or business for you. Every Man conceives himself to be something above the station he is placed in. The large towns abound in shop keepers, who retail English goods; these are all stiled Merchants, though they depend on the credit of the Merchant in London for their continuance in that character. Yet they pretend to give themselves consequence by subscribing not to import British Goods. It is from the great towns that all the sedition and resistance to the authority of Parliament has arisen. The Lawyers raised a hue and cry against the stamp Act, and the traders expecting they should be checked in their clandestine trade, by the regulations that would be established under a Board of Customs, have supported the clamour against the power of Parliament. The duties they pay are trifling, but their being prevented from carrying on a commerce contrary to the regulations of law, it is that is the grievous burthen; and these interested persons set up for Patriots, and poison the minds of the poor country people, telling them they shall be enslaved, and their Estates taken from them.
I have now given you a long detail of affairs here, which I thought would be agreeable at this time, when American matters are (I suppose) much the subject of conversation. I shall excuse you for half the quantity of paper in return and I hope you will write me particularly as to our friends and the public news.
We have passed over the winter very chearfully, and have felt no inconvenience from our situation in the Country, though the weather has been very severe for some weeks past. The children come on very well, and I hope Mrs. H will write to Mrs. H[incks] and give an account of herself, and her family affairs; I beg you will present my best respects to all the family, and I remain with great regard. Dear Sir.
12 March 17701
As I had not the honour of hearing from you, after having wrote a number of letters, in consequence of your desire, I did not intend to have troubled you again, but to go on in the course of my duty in the best manner I could, and to submit to the severity of my fate without complaining; and this I have done, till my three brethren and myself are fairly worn down with this life of trial, combat, and anxiety.
Government will be informed particularly from Lt. Governour Hutchinson of the event that has taken place here, and as it had been thought advisable (to prevent fatal consequences) that his Majesty’s two Regiments which were quartered in Boston, should be withdrawn from thence to Castle William, it is become matter of great concern to us, to provide for the carrying on our Commission in any wise free from insult, and violence.
The general report now is that the people having carryed their point of compelling the troops to quit the town, will not suffer any violence to be used to the person of the Commissioners, or other servants of the Government, who may remain behind. But what security have we for our safety a single day? The Governour, the Magistracy, have no authority, no power! The Demagogues have the people entirely at their devotion; hundreds of Men are in Arms, and the lives and properties of every one depends on their caprice. The Commissioners are considered as having brought the troops here, are pointed out in the public papers as the Abettors of murder; and every means has been used to inflame the minds of the people, to punish us, as the objects of their vengance.
You cannot conceive the anxiety of our minds from this distracted situation, and the reasons must be obvious to you, why in these circumstances, we cannot hazard a debate at the Board, as to what measures should be taken for the service, and the safety of ourselves and familys.
Mr. Robinson has taken the resolution to go to London, and he will acquaint you particularly as to public matters and the state of the Board, and Revenue business.
Mr. Burch, Mr. Paxton, and myself, at first intended to retire into Castle William with our familys, and the Officers of the Board; but as we might be even there subject to persecutions (on Account of our Mem[oria]ls to their Lordships) in the Superior and General Courts, which meet this Week, we think it will be best to take shelter out of the province, whilst they are siting, and adjourn the Board from time to time, but Mr. Robinson will be able to acquaint you further of the measures we may take.
Near Boston 4 May 17701
As the people in America had been so long suffered to resist the constitutional authority of Great Britain uncorrected, you will hardly have been surprized at those events that have taken place at Boston: but I am sure you must have felt for the servants of the Crown and have sympathized with us in the Insults persecutions and distresses under which we have laboured.
The Resolves of the several Assemblies being adopted as principles by the people’s combinations were formed to defeat the operation of the Revenue Laws, prevent the Importation and Sale of British Goods, and persecute and distress all those who came not into the agreement proposed to answer those ends. The few who were so hardy as to refuse submission to the terms prescribed were marked for Oppression—their names were published in all the Papers as persons to be avoided and held in Infamy and Abhorrence. The servants of the Crown, particularly the military, were insulted and the grossest abuses and indignities used to some of the lower officers of the Revenue in several ports; but no Magistrate stood forth to stem the torrent to protect the injured or maintain the authority of the Laws. The infection was general, and the fanatic rage of independant Levellers bore down all order and respect to government (Mr Murray at Boston indeed shew’d a firm spirit to the last, but he was alone2). I think the disease has been universal through the British dominions. Let me except one part of its subjects—to the honour of Scotland, her sons have kept free from the general contagion they have not joined either at home or abroad in the defection from authority, but proved themselves good subjects and supporters of Government and order.3 From the unrestrained licence permitted to the mob, it became very unsafe at Boston for anyone who did not adopt the popular measures the mob assembled frequently about the houses and shops of the persons called Importers, to insult and abuse them and their customers, if any should dare to enter these shops. As they were in their acts of outrage at one house, a person named Richardson passed by; the word was given that he was an Informer—they pursued him to his dwelling and proceeded to such violence, that at length he fired on them, and killed a boy. A few nights after, the mob attacked the centry on duty at the Custom House; he was supported by a party from the main guard the insults and abuse of the mob increased, some of the soldiers fired and killed three or four people. The alarm was given, the town arms seized and town and country took to arms. Notwithstanding the Officer and his men were that night committed to jail, nothing would satisfy the people the next day but the two Regiments must withdraw from the Town into the Castle. Some thousands were assembled together. They expected the country to come in and were determined to try the issue. The Lt. Governor in council received such a message from the people that by the unanimous advice of his council he desired Col. Dalrymple to withdraw the two regiments to the Castle, where they are now.
The Demagogues of the People had now carried one main point, and could exercise their power uncontrouled. The getting rid of the military was a necessary step to getting rid of the Commissioners, and the first being done, there was little difficulty in the latter.
They had long loaded their newspapers with the most injurious and bitter invectives against us, holding us out as enemies to their Country. They now charged us as assassins, abetters of murder, and contrivers of a plot to massacre the inhabitants and objects of their immediate vengeance to give these accusations the appearance of truth, and to induce a belief of them in the minds of the people, it was given out that they could prove orders were sent from the Custom House for Richardson to fire, and that several guns were fired out of the Custom house windows the night the people were killed by the Soldiers.
A Committee of the leaders of the people was set up, evidences were sought for to depose to facts that never existed. Bills of indictment were found against three persons belonging to the Custom House for murder by firing out of the windows. They were committed to jail, and after several days confinement bailed out. All this roused the passions of the people in town and country against the Commissioners to a pitch of fury not to be described, and answered the intentions of the Demagogues by making us retire for our own security. Mr. Robinson went for England, Mr. Burch and his family to my house in the Country and Mr. Paxton to a friend’s in Cambridge.
The Superior Court sat about the middle of March, and resolved with unanimous consent of the Bar to adjourn to June. When this got abroad the Demagogues came into Court and urged their proceeding to business, and they sat accordingly the 21st of March. Government was then prostrate! Seeing the people had got all the power into their hands, and the Superior Court so far overawed as to depart from their resolution to adjourn, Mr. Burch and myself resolved to retire out of the province for a while, till the passions of the people should subside, and something like order be restored, and we went directly to Piscataqua in the Government of New Hampshire, leaving our families at my house.
On Friday the 2nd of April the tryal of Richardson came on at Boston, and the judges when they summed up the evidence gave it unanimously as their opinion in their charge to the [jury] that the crime could not amount to more than manslaughter, if so much. About nine the next morning the jury brought in their verdict guilty of Murder, to the astonishment and horror of every honest Man, thereby establishing a new doctrine, that from henceforth no man is safe, either in or out of his house. The Court gave no sentence, and it is supposed by some that they will not accept of the verdict. They immediately adjourned to the 29 of May, when the jury brought in their verdict guilty, there was universal clapping of hands, and signs of applause. After the adjournment of the superior [court] at Boston, we returned to my house, but found matters at Boston only more inflamed and further measures of resistance gone into. Several ships are arrived from London loaded with goods, which is thought the Importers will be compelled to reship for London. No partial repeal will satisfy these people; and they are supported in their resistance by the accounts and publications received from home—they hold town meetings almost dayly, and a paper called the Whisperer, and the remonstrance of the Livery of London have been there publickly read.4 We see no likelyhood of being able to hold a Board in Boston, nor is there a prospect of finding a place of rest for us in America. The times are violent and distressing, and our situation truly lamentable.
[Henry Hulton to John Esq.]
4 May 17701
As the people in America had been so long suffered to resist the constitutional authority of Great Britain uncorrected, You will hardly have been surprised at those events that have taken place at Boston; but I am sure you must have felt for the servants of the Crown, and have sympathized with us in the insults, persecutions, and distress, under which we have laboured.
The resolves of the several Assemblies being adopted as principles by the people, combinations were formed to defeat the operation of the Revenue Laws, prevent the Importation and Sale of British Goods, and persecute and distress all those who come not into agreements proposed to answer those ends. The few who were so hardy as to refuse submission to the terms prescribed, were marked for oppression. Their names were published in all the papers as persons to be avoided, and held in infamy and abhorrence.
The Servants of the Crown, particularly the Military, were insulted and the grossest abuses and indignities used to some of the lower officers of the Revenue, in several parts; but no Governour, no Magistrate, stood forth to stem the torrent, to protect the injured, or maintain the authority of the Laws. The infection was general, and the fanatic rage of independant Levellers bore down all order, and respect to Government. I think the disease has been universal through the British dominions. Let me except one part of its subjects. To the honour of Scotland, her sons have kept free from the general contagion. They have not joined either at home or abroad, in the defection from authority, but proved themselves good Subjects, and supporters of Government and order.
From the unrestrained licence permitted to the Mob, it became unsafe at Boston for any one who did not adopt the popular measures; the Mob assembled frequently about the houses and shops of the persons called Importers, to insult and abuse them, and their Customers, if any should dare to enter their shops. As they were in their acts of outrage at one house, a person named Richardson passed by; the word was given he was Informer. They pursued him to his dwelling and proceeded to such violence, that at length he fired on them and killed a boy. A few nights after the Mob attacked the centry at the Custom House. He was supported by a party from the Main Guard. The insults and abuse of the Mob increased, and some of the men fired, and killed three or four people. The alarm was given, the town Arms seized, and town and Country took to Arms. Notwithstanding the Officer and his men were that night committed to Goal, nothing would satisfy the people next day, but the two Regiments must withdraw from the town into the Castle; some thousands were assembled together. They expected the Country to come in, and were determined to try the Issue. The Governor in Council received such a Message from the people, and by the unanimous advice of his Council, he desired Col D[alrymple] to withdraw the two Regiments into the Castle, where they now are.
The Demagogues of the people had now carried one main point, and could exercise their power uncontrouled. The getting rid of the Military was a necessary step to getting rid of the Commissioners, and the first being done, there was little difficulty in the latter.
They had long loaded their newspapers with the most injurious and bitter invectives against us, holding us out as Enemies to their Country. They now charged us as Assassins and abettors of murder and contrivers of a plot to massacre the inhabitants, and objects of their immediate Vengance. To give these accusations the appearance of truth, and to induce a belief of them in the minds of the people, it was given out that they could prove orders were sent from the Custom house to Richardson to fire, and that several Guns were fired out of the Custom House windows the night the people were killed by the Soldiers.
A Committee of the Leaders of the people was set up evidences were sought to depose to facts that never existed. Bills of Indictment were found against three persons belonging to the Custom House, for Murder, by fireing out of the Windows. They were committed to Goal, and after several days confinement bailed out. All this raised the passions of the people in town and country against the Commissioners to a pitch of fury not to be described, and answered the intentions of the Demagogues, by making us retire for our own security. Mr. Robinson went for England, Mr. Burch and his family to my house in the Country, Mr. Paxton to a friend’s house at Cambridge.
A little french Boy who was servant to Manwaring, one of the Officers of the Customs accused, was the evidence against his Master, but Manwaring produced the evidence of two persons who were in company with him at his lodging at the time, and of the Landlady of the house. He was several times had before the Justices but dismissed for want of proof. However, the Grand Jury found a bill not only against him, but against one of the persons who was in company with him at his lodgings.
The Porter of the Custom House, and the Messenger’s son, on examination, are said to have given such evidence as made in favour of the Military. They were several times examined and told there was evidence to prove that Guns were fired out of the Custom House, and if they did not confess they should be committed, and hanged themselves.
The Superior Court met about the middle of March and resolved with the unanimous consent of the Bar to adjourn to June. When this got abroad, the Demagogues came into Court, and urged their proceeding to business, and they sat accordingly the 21st.
Government was then prostrate, seeing the people had got all power into their hands, and the Superior Court so far over awed, as to depart from their resolution of adjourning. Mr. Burch and myself resolved to retire out of the province for a while, till the passions of the people should subside, and something like order be restored. And we went directly to Piscataqua, in the Government of New Hampshire, leaving our families at my house.
On Friday the 20th April the tryal of Richardson came at Boston, and the Judges when they summed up the Evidence gave it unanimously as their opinion in their charge to the Jury that the crime could not amount to more than manslaughter, if so much; about 9 the next morning the Jury brought in their verdict guilty of Murder, to the astonishment and horror of every honest Man, thereby establishing a new doctrine, that from hence forth no man is safe, either out of or in his house. The Court gave no sentence, and it is supposed by some that they will not accept the verdict. They immediately adjourned to the 29th of May. When the Jury brought in their verdict guilty there was an universal clapping of hands, and signs of applause.
After the adjournment of the Superior Court at Boston, we returned to my house but found matters at Boston still more inflamed, and further measures of resistance gone into. Several ships are arrived from London loaded with goods, which the Importers have been compelled to reship for London. No partial repeal will satisfy them, and they are supported in their opposition by the Accounts and publications received from home. They hold town meetings almost daily, and a paper called the Whisperer and the Remonstrance of the Livery of London have there publickly been read.
We see no prospect of being able to hold a Board in Boston, nor is there a place of rest for the soles of our feet in America. The times are violent and distressing, and our situation truly lamentable.
Your favour of the 6th of June I did not receive till the 9th of October. I can give you no favourable account of Mr. Mitchell. We appointed Mr. Roupel2 Collector of Charlestown, till a new one entered on the Office in consequence of a Treasury Warrant. Mr Hincks is still with us in the same situation, and desires his best respects to you. I beg my best respects to Mrs. W.
[Henry Hulton to Johan von Walmoden]
Mr. Le General de Walmoden
5 May 17701
I was honoured a few days ago with your favour from Lausanne in Switzerland, and it gives me great concern to hear of your long indisposition, and I sincerely pray that you may find relief, and be restored to your desired state of health and usefullness.
On your return to London you will find great advances made in luxury, and licentiousness since you left it; the certain consequences of great commerce, wealth and an easy Government. It is a melancholly revelation, that those circumstances which advance a nation the most rapidly tend to destroy good morals, and by depraving the individual, undermine the foundations of Government.
The spirit of faction and licentiousness that has so long prevailed at home, has given great encouragement to the Colonies to continue in their resistance to the authority of Parliament.
From the constitution of Government in these Countrys, and the first principle of the British Nation in their foreign establishments, there is little likelihood that such measures will take place, as may secure the obedience of this Country to Great Britain.
No nation will retain remote Colonies long in subjection, the Government of which is established upon a popular plan; yet the New England Governments are the most popular that can be devised; and where commercial views are the first object, the honors of the crown, and authority of Government, will be ill[-]supported.
Indeed, at this time the situation of the servants and friends of Government in this Country is much to be lamented. There is no security for any one who does not adopt the popular clamour and join in the measures of the reigning faction. I think it may be called reigning, for it is possessed of all authority, power and there is such a general lachete,2 that no Governor, or Magistrate, dare, or is inclined to set himself against it, or to maintain the authority of the Laws, by protecting the quiet subject who would pay obedience to them.
It has been my lot to be called out to a great deal of toil and combat in the public service. I realized no advantage by an exchange from my establishment at home to the one here, except being placed more immediately under observation, and being made more accountable, may be called such. But as things are in this Country, few people would be desirous of the distinction; no honour can be gained and everything may be lost by clamour, malice, and misrepresentation. Life, for the time, is made unhappy; for nothing is more disagreeable than a continued state of toil, combat, suspense, and anxiety. Though one can render little service, and therefore may not have much to plead on that head, yet the enduring a life of tryal, remote from one’s country and friends, amongst a people adverse to us, for the Office we bear, should give one some pretentions to future favor. And I trust we shall be properly considered for what we have done and endured in the service.
On our return from the Castle, no one would rent me a house in the town, and I was obliged to purchase one in the Country a few miles from Boston, where I now live and endeavour in my retreat to forget as much as I can the disorderly town, which I seldom visit but to attend the Board. And I enjoy at least domestic happiness, which these turbulent people cannot deprive me of; we have two little boys that make the chief of our present pleasures, and I hope will be comforts to our future age.
The Assemblys of most of the Colonies, having denied the authority of the parliament of Great Britain to impose taxes on America for the purpose of raising a Revenue: and this being adopted as a principle by the people, a resistance to the operation of such laws became patriotic; and combinations were joined to prevent the importation and sale of British Goods, and either from principle, or from threats, and measures most of the people in trade in the several towns were brought to sign such agreements as the committees of the Merchants and traders thought fit to propose to answer the ends intended.
The few traders in Boston who had the hardiness to refuse to sign these agreements were voted enemies to their country, and were to be oppressed by every means; their names were published in all the papers, and every one was forbid to hold any commerce or intercourse with them.
It had been a practice for some weeks for the people to gather every Thursday about the shops of some of the persons called Importers (or who would not sign the agreement,) to insult and abuse them, and their Customers, if any should dare to enter their shops. There were two Regiments in the town, but no Magistrate would call upon them ro support the peace; and from the principle of disaffection to the British authority, and the unrestrained licence permitted to the mob, it became very unsafe for anyone who did not adopt the popular measures.
Frequent insults were offered, particularly to the Military, and in every squabble between them and the towns people, the latter took all the advantage of the Laws to harrass and distress the soldiers. As the Mob were in their acts of outrage at one house, a person named Richardson passing by, he was insulted, and called an Informer. He fled to his house, where they pursued him, threw stones, broke his windows, and proceeded to such violence that he threatened to fire on them if they did not desist; and as they persisted, he fired, and killed a boy, upon which he, and another Man with him were committed to goal. Some nights after, the Mob insulted and attacked the Centry on guard at the Custom house. The porter of the Custom house ran to the Main Guard, to acquaint them of the distress the Centry was in, and a party from the Main Guard came to his support; the insults and abuse of the Mob increased; some of the soldiers fired and three or four men were killed; the town was ready for the alarm, the town arms were seized, the bells rung, and town and Country took to Arms. The Captain of the Guard, and the Men that fired, were that night committed to Goal, yet the ferment increased the next day, and a Message was sent to the Lt. Governor in Council from the people in Arms, that nothing would satisfy them, but the immediate removal of the two Regiments to the Castle; otherwise they would try the issue. The Council unanimously advised for their removal, and to prevent consequences, the Governor agreed to it.
The Demagogues of the people having carried this material point, next laboured by every means to lay the odium of these unhappy events to the Commissioners. They charged them in their publications as accessaries to the Murders, and left nothing undone to obtain evidence that the Commissioners sent orders to Richardson to fire; and to prove that Guns were fired out of the Custom house Windows on the people, at the time the Soldiers killed the men mentioned. To enrage the people the more against the Commissioners, and point us out as the objects of their vengeance, the evidence of the servants that were in the house was disregarded, and they published representations, which themselves could not believe to be true. These people have adopted a popish doctrine, that any means are allowable to bring about a good end, and it is shocking to see and hear of their proceedings. In this state of affairs we could not pretend to do any business in Boston. Mr. R[obinson] went for England. Mr. B[urch], Mr. P[axton] and myself with our families retired from the town, and waited to take further measures as events should arise.
Since the troops are withdrawn great quiet has been kept in the town. So they give out that the Commissioners may remain, and do business there in safety; but who would be dependant on their caprice? the Lieut. Governor came down to my house on Monday evening, the 19th March. He said a Deacon had said we might be in town in safety, but on being asked if he and his council could advise us to it, and assure us of protection, he could not say any such thing, and we have kept our Board adjourned.
The Superior Court met on Tuesday the 13th of March, and with the unanimous consent of the Bar agreed to adjourn to June. As soon as it got abroad, the Demagogues, as a Committee from the town, came into Court, and urged their proceeding to business, saying the blood of their Citizens lay on the ground.
The Court met again on Wednesday the 21st March, and on the next day proceeded to business, having been so far over awed by the Committee of the people as to alter their own resolution of Adjournment.
We had been threatened with prosecutions on Account of our Memorials to the Treasury: and finding the Superior Court were sit[t]ing on Thursday the 22d March, Mr B[urch] and myself resolved to go out of the province for a while; and we set out immediately for New Hampshire Government, which has kept the quietest of any in these times of trouble.
The sons of liberty were desired by advertisement to attend the funerals of the people that were killed. Upwards of 1200 attended the funeral of the boy that was killed by Richardson; and the people on their return being displeased with something that was said by a Gentleman in the street, they fell upon him, tore his clothes off his back and pursued him with rage to a house where he took shelter, and before they could be appeased, he was obliged to appear at a Window, acknowledge his fault and ask pardon. At the funeral of the Men that were killed, a greater procession attended, amongst whom was Mr. T[emple]. And the day that the Demagogues went into the Superior Court to remonstrate with the Judges why they did not proceed to tryal of the Criminals, they had dined at Mr. T[emple’s] house, from whence they proceeded to the Court.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Brooklyn near Boston 11 May 17701
I wrote to you at the beginning of the year 1769 in answer &c. to a letter I received about Christmas, since which I have not been favoured with any from you.
I have lived in the Country for near twelve months past, as retired as my business would allow from the turbulent and disorderly town of Boston. My family are in good health and our situation would be agreeable enough, if these people would suffer us to live in peace. But contentions and broil seem necessary to the existence of a Bostonian, and indeed our present circumstances are very critical and alarming, as our lives and properties depend on the caprice of our Sovereign Lords the people.
The inclosed will shew you further the state of matters in this Country and I shall say nothing more thereon, for perhaps we may differ in opinion as to the conduct of the people, both at home and abroad, and as to measures which should be taken by Government. I should be glad to hear of your and your family’s health and welfare. Mrs. H. And my sister desire to join with me in best regards to yourself and Mrs N. I beg you will make my best respects and Compliments to both your family [and] friends.
I am, Dear Sir, your &c.
Near Boston 29 May 17701
Whilst I am waiting for an Opportunity to write to Dear Mrs L. by some ship for Liverpool, I received her agreeable Letter, was made happy about Xtmas by your former one dated September.
I thought your candid disposition would make favorable allowance for a delay in writing, and your late favor convinces me of it. I hoped to be able to give you a more favorable Account of Affairs in America, and our situation, than has been in my power for sometime past, and there is more risque in giving a true Account of Matters and Events, than one’s friends in England can easily imagine. I believe my Brother has wrote lately to Mr N[icholson]. You will probably hear from him all the News from hence, better than I can relate and I would chuse more pleasing Subjects. It indeed gives me pleasure to hear of your happiness in your little Family, and the pleasing prospects from hence. It would be matter of great Joy to me to hear of the Addition of a Son, that the many trials of your patience and resignation may be more amply rewarded in this Life. In the future I’ve no doubt they will and I have only to wish in regard to futurity that I may share in your bliss. Though We are widely seperated at present, and our trials may be very different in kind, yet such as the alwise Disposer knows to be best for each of Us.
What pleasure would it be if I could but now and then see some of my old friends, and have a little converse with them. Methinks it would disscipate every care and alleviate every trouble. But this is not a State to enjoy all we wish for, if we have any Supports there is reason for thankfulness. I enjoy health and have a good Brother for whose safety indeed I am more anxious than for my own, but I trust that Kind Providence which has preserved, will still protect Us. My Brother lives on a Spot of Earth which he calls his own, and a lone House so retired that not one person in 50 in Boston ever saw it before, yet the Situation so agreeable to Mr. and Mrs. H. that they would not chuse to change it for any other Spot in New England. And we have found no want of Company, for we have been near 20 of family for some time till today. Now eight of them have left besides my Brother and Sister[,] who are just set of[f] for Rhode Island, to return in 10 Days time. When I immediately set down to write to my friend, my only Companion left being my Nephew Tom, who interrupts Me not a little with his prating and playing, I ask him what he will have to Miss L., whether he won’t send Love. He says, no, but she’ll not take it amiss, as She may be assured it is because he does not know her, or he would be exceeding fond of her, I’m certain. He is a fine lively boy, and a sweet disposition. Harry is very stout; walks alone. I am, Dear Madam, Your Affectionate
Brooklin near Boston 12 June 17701
I did not receive your favour of the 5th January till the 16 May, when I had wrote the inclosed letter, but I delayed sending it till I could write in answer to the matter you desired me to make inquiry about. I have had little acquaintance in the town of Boston, as few people there are inclined to shew any of the civil offices of society to the Servants of the Crown.
I have not been in Boston these past three months past. They who put the power into the hands of the mob now feel the scourge themselves, and the town is little short of a state of anarchy.
My family are very well, but we live in a state of alarm, distress and anxious expectation.
Mrs. H. and sister join me in best respects to Mrs N. and I am with great regard Dear Sir yours &c.
[Henry Hulton to Thomas Hutchinson]
21 June 17701
I take the liberty of laying before your Honour, the circumstances of an outrage committed on me Tuesday night the 19th instant.
About midnight I was awaked by a gentle knocking at the House door; hearing it repeated I got out of bed, and asked who was there, a Man answered he wanted to see Mr. Hulton. What is your business with him at this time of night? answer, I want to deliver him a letter that came by the express this morning from New York. Question, Who are you I am Capt. [blank] from the Granades,2 and have been detained at Cambridge, which has made me thus late. I’ll come down. I’ll stay says he. I slipt on my clothes, took my sword in my hand, and just opened the parlour window. The man beg’d I would let him have a night’s lodging as it was so late. I answered I would not open my door at that time of night; but put my hand out, and said, give me the letter; he said I have a letter indeed, and moved as with intention to push the Window up, upon which I claped it down: and instantly, with a damn you, he struck several violent blows, that broke through the frames of the upper sash, but resting on the middle frame, prevented their hurting me. As soon as he gave the first blow, all the lower windows of the South and West sides of the house (being eight) were instantly broke, in like manner. I had not heard the least noise before, and had no apprehention of their being any people in company. The noise this made raised the family in a great fright and alarm; the people without soon after went away, making a loud noise and huzzaing.
[Henry Hulton to Lord North]
25 June 17701
The situation of affairs in the town of Boston having rendered it impossible for the Commissioners to carry on the service. Mr. Burch, Mr. Paxton and myself have been obliged for some months past to give our chief attention to our own safety.
In consequences of the affair of the 5th of March Mr. Burch and myself retired for some time to Piscataqua, and Mr. Paxton to a friend’s house at Cambridge, and after our return from Piscataqua we thought it necessary to keep out of the way, whilst the Superior Court was sit[t]ing.
We were unwilling to take refuge in the Castle, as long as there was any probability of safety for ourselves in the Country, being desirous to give the people of Boston time to recover from the violence of passion, and an opportunity of shewing towards us a behaviour becoming good subjects.
As we found no likelihood of a change of disposition in the people, Mr. Burch, who had not been in Boston since the middle of March, at length took a house in the Country, and we were in hopes to have rested in quiet in our houses some miles from Boston, until we could know the commands of Government.
Several outrages were committed on our Officers and others in the town of Boston, before the people proceeded to an actual attempt on ourselves. But after the attack on me made on the night of the 19th instant (a relation of which is contained in a letter to the Lt. Governour, a copy of which I beg leave to inclose) We found it absolutely necessary for the safety of ourselves, and families, to retire to Castle William, where we have been received with great civility and kindness by Colo. Dalrymple, and the Lt. Governour has ordered the apartment of the Governour and Lt. Governour for our accommodation.
There were some expressions made use of by the Mob when they attacked me, which were heard by my servant, but as I did not hear them myself I did not insert them in my letter to the Lt. Governour, such as dead or alive we’ll have him. He’ll fire. No he darn’t fire, we’l come again. And I was told by a Gentleman that one of the Council (on the morning of the night I was attack’d) said to him that they were determined to drive off the Commissioners, and when the matter was considered in Council two or three of the Members suggested that the Commissioners had got themselves attacked in order to bring a reproach on the province.
It is now two years since we were obliged to make this place an asylum from the rage of the people, and on that occasion we are assured of future protection, and support, and of, the reward of Government. We were indeed afterwards enabled to resume the exercise of our Commission in Boston, and in some manner to carry on the Service. But returned to a life of distress, persecution, and painful anxiety, and ourselves and the officers of the Board, are quite wore down, and overcome with the length and severity of our dishonourable sufferings.
Yet I should still think myself happy, if by any thing I could do, or endure, I could render any service to my Country, but I fell a double pain in what I suffer, from the repeated indignities done to the authority of Government.
[Henry Hulton to Thoms Bradshaw, Esq.]
Castle William 29 June 17701
It has been a great aggravation of the distresses under which I have laboured, that I have not been honoured with any letter from you, or had your sentiments in any wise communicated to me.
Our situation has been the most severe, and we have undergone a life of constant anxiety for the service, and for ourselves.
After a wearisome time of outward insult, indignity and persecution; of family dread, and distress; we have at length taken shelter in this Castle; but not before I was drove from my own house at midnight, narrowly escaping assassination.
I have taken the liberty of laying before my Lord North the circumstances of this assault on my house and person.
Whatever measures may be taken by Government, for repressing the disorders and licentiousness that prevail, and for restoring and supporting its authority, the Servants of th Crown must do, and endure a great deal, and for a long time, before they will be any wise respected, or at ease. A sense of duty, inclination, and zeal for the service, will carry men a great way; but the best minds will be damped by a long endurance of persecution from their enemies, and neglect from their friends.
This is the time when good servants are most wanted, and must be cherished, if the service is to be carried on. Not a man but shrinks from the service, in the state it is. Where is the support for the Officer? Where is the protection for the Man? Reproach and insult were sufficient for a while, the most ignominious treatment of a Revenue Officer became sport, and pastime of the people; and now, we are assaulted in our houses, and it is doing public Service to destroy us.
I have been subjected to many extraordinary expences by coming to America, being separated from my family, bringing them out here, being drove off, and living in the Castle, being obliged from necessity to buy and repair a house in the Country, as no one would rent me one in town—and now again by being drove to the Castle, all these, with the extraordinary expence of living, from the circumstances of the times, have encreased my disbursements far beyond my appointment from thee Crown.
You know Sir the situation I was in before I came to America, and you know my services before that time, and I challange your experience of Men, since your engagement in public business, to produce a more faithful servant of the Crown. You are sensible Sir under what expectation I came out to this country, and I have that confidence in you, expecting something in my favour, from your representation of my services, and support of my pretentions.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Castle Island, near Boston 25 July 17701
It is about Seven weeks ago that I did myself the pleasure of writing to Dear Mrs. Lightbody. Since that, you will have heard my Brother has been driven from his own Habitation and afterwards retired with his Family to this place2 for safety. I have often thought of what you said, that surely we did not live in a lone House. It’s true we have long been in a dangerous situation, from the State of Government. The want of protection, the perversion of the Laws, and the spirit of the People inflamed by designing men. Yet our house in the Country has been a place of retreat for many from the disturbances of the Town, and though they were become very alarming, yet we did not apprehend an immediate attack on our House, or that a Mob out of Boston should come so far, before we had notice of it, and were fully persuaded there are Persons more obnoxious than my Brother, that he had no personal Enemy, and confident of the good will of our Neighbours (in the Township we live in) towards him, so that we had no suspicion of what happened the night of June the 19th—we have reason to believe it was not the sudden outrage of a frantic Mob, but a plot artfully contrived to decoy My Brother into the hands of assassins. At Midnight when the Family was asleep, had not a merciful Providence prevented their designs, we had been a distressd Family indeed.
Between 12 and 10’Clock he was wakened by a knocking at the Door. He got up, enquired the person’s name and business, who said he had a letter to deliver to him, which came Express from New York. My Brother puts on his Cloaths, takes his drawn Sword in one hand, and opened the Parlor window with the other. The Man asked for a Lodging—said he, I’ll not open my door, but give me the letter. The man then put his hand, attempting to push up the window, upon which my Brother hastily clapped it down. Instantly with a bludgeon several violent blows were struck which broke the Sash, Glass and frame to pieces. The first blow aimed at my Brother’s Head, he Providentialy escaped, by its resting on the middle frame, being double, at same time (though before then, no noise or appearance of more Persons than one) the lower windows, all round the House (excepting two) were broke in like manner. My Brother stood in amazement for a Minute or 2, and having no doubt that a number of Men had broke in on several sides of the House, he retired Upstairs.
You will believe the whole Family was soon alarmed, but the horrible Noises from without, and the terrible shrieks within the House from Mrs. H. and Servants, which struck my Ears on awaking, I can’t describe, and shall never forget.
I could imagine nothing less than that the House was beating down, after many violent blows on the Walls and windows, most hideous Shouting, dreadful imprecations, and threats ensued. Struck with terror and astonishment, what to do I knew not, but got on some Cloaths, and went to Mrs. H.’s room, where I found the Family collected, a Stone thrown in at her window narrowly missed her head. When the Ruffians were retreating with loud huzzas and one cryd he will fire—no says another, he darn’t fire, we will come again says a third—Mr. and Mrs H. left their House immediately and have not lodged a night since in it.
The next day we were looking up all the Pockit Pistols in the house, some of which were put by, that nobody could find ‘em and ignorant of any being charged, Kitty was very near shooting her Mistress, inadvertently lets it off. The bullets missed her within an inch and fixed in a Chest of Drawers. Here was another miraculous escape, so that we have reason to be thankful, we are all safe and well, though truly Prisoners in a Castle, the old place of refuge.
But there is no security from the virulence of Lying Tongues. Can you believe it, that a person shall suffer abuse, an attack upon his House, and attempt on his Life, and afterwards the reproach of having done it himself. This is really the case, the persons who are so vile as to be at the bottom of the Mischeif, have in order to remove the odium from themselves, and the Town, industriously spread this report, that Mr H. hired people to break his own Windows, for an excuse of his removal to the Castle, and to ruin this Country.
However ridiculous this Aspersion, yet it is believed or seemingly believed by one half of the people, as we are told. But the more sensible and moderate are ashamed of the absurdity, and freely say, that this outrage against Mr H. will hurt their Country more than anything which has been done yet. And for the honour of the Township we lived in, I must say, the principal People, have of their own accord taken up the affair very warmly, exerting their endeavors to find out the Authors, or perpetrators of the Villainy. They have produced above twenty witnesses, Men in the Neighborhood who were out a Fishing that night, that prove they met upon the Road from Boston towards my Brother’s House, Parties of Men that appeared disguised, their faces blacked, with white Night caps and white Stockens on, one of ‘em with Ruffles on and all, with great clubs in their hands. They did not know any of ‘em, but one Fisherman spoke to ‘em, to be satisfied whether they were Negroes or no, and found by their Speech they were not, and they answered him very insolently. Another person who mett them declares, that one of ‘em asked him the way to Mr. H’s house, and another of ‘em said he knew the way very well. After all, you may judge how much any further discovery is likely to be made, or justice to be obtained in this Country, when I tell you that the persons who were thus active to bring the dark deed to light, were immediately stop’d and silenced, being given to understand (as I’m well informed) that if they made any further stir about the matter, they might expect to be treated in the same manner as Mr H. was. However, so much is proved as to clear Mr H. from the charge of doing himself the mischief, one would think.
This instance shews the State this Country is in. It is not the case of one, but of every faithful Officer and Loyal Subject here that is; to suffer abuse, persecution calumny and reproach, and if they seek redress or any personal attempts to do them Justice, it is not to be expected, but threats of greater evils.
What Government intends doing to remedy these, We are yet strangers, or whether anything effectual will be done. Here’s a report that the Board is to be removed to the Jerseys. That place would be as agre[e]able as any part of America to us, but whether the Board be removed, called home, or abolished, we have reason to hope my Brother’s interest will not be prejudiced.
If G[reat] Britain leaves Boston to itself, though its own honour will not be maintained thereby, it will certainly be the greatest punishment that can be inflicted on the place and people, but a cruelty to some individuals, who have shewn themselves friends to Government. The Town is now in the greatest confusion, the People quarreling violently about Importation, and Exportation.
The New Yorkers having broke through their nonimportation agreement, is a heavy Stroke, and though 90 out a 100 of the Merchants and traders here, want to do the same, yet they are terrified to submit to [the]3 Tyranny of that Power they at first set up, and are going to reship their British Goods, though it’s expected there will be some broken Noses first, and that these combinations cannot hold long. However, the Trade of the Town is ruined, and the principal Branch, that of Ship Building, which supported some hundred of Families, is removed by the Glasgow Merchants to other places, because their Goods were not allowed to be [disposed]4 of here: — and in return, the Town or Leaders of the5 resolved to banish all the Scotchmen from the [Place] and began with one McMasters, an honest industrious Tradsman, who had 3 or 4000£ Sterling in Effects, and more in outstanding debts here. Without any preten[sions but] that he was an Importer, they gave him warning [to] Quit the Town within 3 days, or he must take the consequences (which means Taring and Feathering), a most cruel violence, with which they intimidate and force everyone to submit to their demands. The poor Man not complying, they [seized] him at noon day, put him into a Cart, exhibited him through the Town, and were going to Tar and F[eather] him, but that they forced an Oath from him, that he would leave the place. And now he and his Brother [are] ruined men and forlorn Wanderers upon this Island, lost [his] property and [l]ost his [senses]
I’ve wrote more freely to you than I should have done; but as I have that confidence in my friend that my letter will not be exposed. I would not have my name or my Brother’s mentioned in a Sea Port Town as sending any news from hence. You may not know, though I do the risque of [it], therefore I gi[ve you] the hint. My Respects to Mr L.
I (am de)[ar Madam Your Affectionate]
[Henry Hulton to] M Esq.
30 October 17701
I wrote to you of the 10th instant, since which the trial of Captain Preston came on before the Superior Court. It continued during several days, and was considered as one of the most solemn and important that has come before the Court. Every thing was conducted with the utmost order and decorum; and the prisoner on the most impartial trial, has been honorably acquited. The event of this tryal may be considered of the utmost consequence, as establishing the principle of resistance to assault by the Military, as well as civil subject.
The Lawyers on the side of the Prisoner, and the Judges in their charge to the Jury have fully supported this principle. There is now a greater appearance of our being able to carry on business quietly in Boston, than at any time since we came out; but the alteration in the temper of the people may arise from what they see has been done, and their apprehensions of what is to follow, and will probably go off, unless further regulations take place, which are generally expected.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Brooklyne near Boston
21 December 17701
Dear Mrs. Lightbody’s kind favor gives me great pleasure though received three months after the date. It affords me some satisfaction to know that you and your family was well then, (for it’s many months since I heard anything from Old England) it bring to remembrance former times and the agreable hours I spent with you.
I am much obliged to you for the kind concern you express for us, in this hostile Land, and our late situation in it.
I bless God I can say, that after many changes, dangers and trials in Life, I now enjoy health, and ease, peace, and plenty, and that my Brother with his Family, are quietly reinstated in his beloved Habitation, after near five Months Exile at the Castle. It’s Six weeks since we returned here. We find the face of things exceedingly changed indeed. To be exposed to the rage of a frantic mob, or subject to alarms and fears, is a dreadful situation, especialy where there’s no Government or Law. But upon the appearance (or some steps towards Establishing) of these supports of Society, and protecting of Individuals, the desperate Invaders, and abettors of the disturbances disapear. Peace and Order takes place, and the past Scenes of confusion and disorder, appears as a dream.
We never thought ourselves more safe from the Sons of Violence, than at present. Yet our Security and the continuance of it, under a kind Providence depends on Circumstances, Chiefly the Authority and Support of Government. From thence the Impartial Trial and honorable acquital of Captain Preston and the Soldiers has the most happy Effect. It has exposed the Conduct of the Faction, and opened the Eyes of the People in general, convinced them that they have been deceived by false opinions, and false representations of Facts. It has ascertained the right of Self defence, which they were taught to beleive was illegal without the aid of a civil Majistrate. These Trials together with that of the Custom House Officers charged with Firing out of the C[ustom]H[ouse], and the Suborning of false Witnesses against them which appeared on the Trial, and the witness since commit[t]ed for Perjury.2
These things have laid open a Scene of Iniquity that the greatest Advocates are now ashamed of the Cause, and most persons wish to be thought friends to that Government which appears determined to punish, and reward, according to des[s]erts.
Many persons have told us that we shall never receive any more insults or attacks here, for the man (say they) is gone that sent out the Assassins to Mr H.
There’s great reason to believe their design was upon his Life. I hope he will never have occasion to defend himself or his House, yet we are provided against the worst with Fire Arms—a great Dog and a Bell at the top of the House, to give Notice to the Neighborhood in case of necessity. We have no doubt of the good disposition of People in the Country towards my Brother from the abhorrence they in general shewed at the former outrage, and their endeavors to find out the Authors, as well as the solicitude they expressed for our return home, and offers to Watch and guard our House, by nights in their turns, if we were under any Apprehensions. But that we are not at present. Far from insu3[lt or] abuse, we have met with every civility and respect possible, both in Town and Country, from all sorts of people.
Our acquaintance increases to more than we can well keep up in a visiting way, every one seems desirous to make out Situation agre[e]able to us, and to banish the prejudices we may have received against it.
It’s not a little that will destroy the partiality of Mr. and Mrs H. for their rural retreat, a short banishment serves to heighten their enjoyment [of] it, even in the depth of winter. Two fine Boys adds to their happiness, and afford constant entertainment to their Aunt by their innocent prattle. They have the Countenances of Cherubs, and Constitutions for Farmers, Strong and hearty.
My paper allows no more than to assure you your Friends here joyn in wishing you every happiness they enjoy
My best respects to Mr Lightbody and your Sisters — Miss H. and Mrs. R. L. — J. Hincks is here now, engaged at Cards well and Easy; as [usual] knows not how many Neices or nephews he has, [whether] 5 or five and twenty. I am
Dear Madam, Your Affectionate
Brooklyn near Boston 29 March 17711
I did not receive your favour of the 15 September till the 21 December, and am obliged to you for the newspapers. You acknowledge the receipt of my Letter of the 12 June and I imagine you must have heard of the assault that was made on my house at midnight seven days after, which obliged us to take refuge once more in Castle William, where we remained ‘till the 7 November. And as the passions of the people seemed then to be in a good measure subsided, we ventured to return to our dwelling, and we have passed the Winter quietly and comfortably, and if there was good Government in this Country, our situation might be supportable enough. The Winter had been remarkably fine, and though we are without publick diversions, yet we do not regret our removal from the town, or feel the time heavy on our hands. Business, books, and friends leave us no vacancy, and the Winter evenings have never been long, or dreary; indeed, there have been Concerts and Assemblies in Boston, but we have never been at them. People wonder how we could live in the Country and thought we never should be easy there; however, we feel ourselves happy, and think we enjoy more pleasure and satisfaction than they who are in town. My business gives me exercise and employment, my books and friends entertainment, my farm amusement, and my children pleasure. I have two boys and the Boston one rivals the Old England one with many people, and they who flatter us say we bear the bell for fine children. They have both the true Boston disposition for rioting, and the house is never quiet whilst they are awake. All my family enjoy health and we have every real good in our power that the place or society can afford, and if this people will let us rest in quiet I hope we shall enjoy them in comfort. Mrs H. and my sister join me in best respects to yourself and Mrs N. My best Compliments to all your family connections. I remain with great regard, Dear Sir, your &c.
Boston 3 August 17711
I am obliged to you for your favour of the 8th April, with some newspapers enclosed. I had the pleasure of writing to you in May and June the last year, but do not find I have written since ‘till the 29 March past. We have been very quiet since our return from the Castle, and the people will continue so long as they are allowed to disown the authority of Great Britain with impunity.
It is happy for this society that such a gentleman as Mr. Hutchinson has in these times arisen amongst them, and been appointed their Governor. Since the Stamp Act affair many gentlemen of property and liberal minds have been left out of the Council and Assembly, and more violent and less informed people brought in, and the General Court has so long refused and denied without being compel[l]ed to obey, that they now want the Governor to act without regard to the King’s instructions. Even the Governor, with his superior abilities, temper and moderation, cannot lead them to do that which is right, or prevent them from doing absurd and extravagant Acts.
They tax people here for their Profession or Employment, under the term Faculty. By this Law they made us pay taxes for our salaries from the Crown.
The Governor received an Instruction lately whilst the Assembly were sitting, not to pass the Tax Bill unless the Commissioners of the Customs were excepted for their Salaries. The answer to the Governor on his message thereon was “we know of no Commissioners of the Customs, nor of any right the King has to establish a Revenue in this Country.”2 The Governor prorogued them the next day without passing the Tax Bill that had been prepared before his message was sent.
In the month of May Mrs H. and I made a journey through some part of this Province and Connecticut. Nothing less than the Enthusiasm of the first Set[t]lers and their violent spirit of Independency could have made people undergo the labour of reducing these lands to a state of cultivation. After cutting down the trees, the land is very rocky and scarce any English grain is produced in these parts. Indian Corn and Hay are the chief produce. It is amazing to see the quantities of fine timber that are destroyed. They girdle the trees, which die and in time fall down, rot and perish on the ground without use. The people never can grow rich upon these Lands, but they increase wonderfully. The spirit of equality prevails throughout the Country, and they have no notion of rank or distinction in society. They are at first shy of admitting you into their houses, and will shew more respect to one another than to those who appear to be something above them. It is a favour done you, if they acco[m]modate you for your money. As they become acquainted, they ask you a thousand strange impertinent questions, sit down by you when they should wait at table, and perhaps ask if the young man (meaning your servant) is not to dine with you. Indeed, in these two Provinces are few persons settled who may be called Gentlemen, I mean men of property, education and liberal minds. The first sat down in a wood, built a shed, and lived on salt pork, and to this day they seem to have got little further. In travelling there are no fresh provisions to be had, and their liquor is sour cyder and a little New England Rum.
As the family increases, the young men go back into the woods, and do as their fathers did before them. There seems no prospect of advancement, or chance of opulence for them, and as their principles bring all on a level, they feel no oppression from anyone above them, and see nothing to excite envy, or raise admiration, but leave us without emulation, or desire of distinction. And what is human nature? If these passions are not excited, everything noble and great is damped, but from these people’s original principles, education and government, and the extent of Country yet uncleared there seems no prospect but of their remaining as they are for many generations. Since the Stamp Act affair, they have attempted to manufacture homespun, but as every farmer goes through the whole process, it is awkwardly done at the best and they spend much time that might be better employed in the farm. The women do not work in the fields and the children are not employed. Great numbers of people have come from the Southward, and other parts of late years to settle on Lands in the Eastern back parts of this Province, and that of New Hampshire. They take up lands without authority, live without Law or Government, Priest, or Magistrate, and if better regulation and order than I expect does not take place, it will not be many years before other such insurrections and civil broils as have happened in N[orth] Carolina will arise in different parts of this Continent. How weak, then, are the people of property on the coast, in resisting the only power that can protect them, and establish order and good government amongst them.
We have been very happy in our rural abode since our return from the Castle. The business of the Board calls me often to town and as one Member is absent3 it leaves me little time for other matters. When at home I am fully employed with my family and farm. My little prat[t]lers are become very agreeable companions, and my domestick comforts make up for any chagrine I may have suffered from outward circumstances. I have built a new Barn and made a large crop of hay that almost fills it. Mrs H. and my sister desire to join with me in their best wishes and regards for yourself and family, and I remain with great esteem, Dear Sir, yours &c.
Some Specimens of the justice of a Boston jury. Mr. Otis, the Patriot, published in the newspapers the most gross abuse on the Commissioners of the Customs and spoke many reproachful speeches against them, particularly pointing at Mr. Robinson, as that he would break his head the next time he met him. Mr R. called him to account in the Coffee house for these affronts and gave him a very good drub[b]ing. The action for damages was lately tried and the jury gave Mr Otis £2000 damages. Mr. Robinson is still in England and I suppose will now remain there sometime longer. Another action of assault and broken head was tried and the jury gave £5 damages, but these parties were both Boston gentlemen.
One Owen Richards, who had been many years Tidesman in this Port, some time ago was assaulted and taken from his duty on board a ship, strip[p]ed naked, put into a cart and covered with tar and feathers, and for several hours led about the town, a shocking spectacle, hissed, beaten and abused the whole time. Actions were brought against some of the parties concerned in this outrage and the facts were proved to the satisfaction of the Court. The cause was tried by the same jury and before the same court that had tried Mr. Otis’s action a few days before. The parties were acquit[t][ed, and Richards left to pay his own costs—a pretty state of society this, for the servants of the Crown.4
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
I have Dear Mrs. Lightbody’s agreable favor of the 28 February. It gives me real pleasure to hear you and your family are well, and that the alarming Apprehensions which you must have had for those [who]2 are dear to you were over. The Hannahs, I hope, are both perfectly [recovered].
I would gratify your Curiosity, or rather answer your obli[ging] enquires, about this Country, where your friend’s Lot is cast. I am not thoroughly acquainted with the Town of Boston. It is in short like a large Seaport Town in England, and the People speak as good English as anywhere. It is built on a Peninsula and about two mile[s] Long, joynd to the Continent by a piece of Land called the Neck, which is a mile Long, and twice as broad as a great Street. This is the only way by Land out of the Town. The main Street entering the Town is a mile Long; there are a great number of By Streets and hobbling Pavements. The publick buildings are the Exchange, the Town House, and Fennil Hall, there are 2 Episcopal churches, besides the King’s Chaple, but one Presbyterian (properly called) and about 12 Independant Congregationalists. Some of these Ministers are very flaming Preachers; that is, they take occasion to inflame the People, both by their Sermons and Prayers against Government and all belonging to it, particularly Dr. C[oo]per and Dr. Chancy &c. It may seem strange, but I believe it’s very true, that the Sunday after my Brother was attacked in his own House, with an apparent design upon his Life, after we were gone to the Castle — Dr Ch[aun]cy preached a Sermon on that occasion and told his people plainly out of the Pulpit that the Commissioner broke his own windows, to cast odium on the Country, and the next day this Rev. Dr. went all about, impressing this opinion on the People. And however ridiculous it may seem, it was actually believed by two thirds of the People in Boston, Untill those of our Township of their own accord exerted ‘emselves to bring the matter to light, [and brought] Several Evidences before a Justice of Peace, who swore to meeting the Villains disguised upon the Road and that they enquired the way to Mr H.’s house, nay, the Evidences went so far as naming particular persons, upon which they were Stop’d and privately threatened that if they proceeded further in Information they should suffer, so there the enquiry ended.
But since People have spoke their opinion more freely, many have declared they believed Mr T— (then a Commissioner) sent them out. He has certainly a heart capable of such an action; as diabolical a one perhaps as ever possessed a human breast. Before the Commission was established he was Surveyor General, and he imagined if he could get rid of the Commissioners, he should be reestablished in that office. And his whole study and business was to harrasse, distress, counteract, and if possible to overturn the Board at which he satt and he almost succeeded. He Stir[re]d up the People to persecute every Member of it, making ‘em believe if they drove away the Commissioners, they would get rid of pay[in]g Duties. But since they find these hopes are vain, that T — is discarded by the King, and Sunk in oblivion in London, this Country has been more peaceable and the abuse of the Commissioners in a great measure ceased, not but the seeds of discord and sedition that has been sown, still remains, and there are not wanting persons who are industrious to inflame and stir up the People, encouraged by the Lenity of Government and no doubt the fruit will break forth in some future day. I wish it may not be in ours.
His Majesty’s Instructions to his Government are the present Subjects of Contention, and we all in an uproar on a new occasion. You must know that the manner of Laying Taxes by the Province here are arbitrary, and partial, and though they don’t allow G: Britain has any right to tax ‘em here, they have extorted very exorbitant and oppressive Taxes from the Crown Officers, and the King in order to relieve ‘em from this oppression, in His late Instructions [to the Governor] forbids his Assent to the Tax Bill unless the Commissioners are excepted in it from any Tax on the Saleries, as well as the Governor.
If these Instructions had arrived a day later it would have come too late for this year. This affair has made a great noise, but no further consequences. I hope the Storm is almost over, but no Tax Bill passed. We think ourselves happy in a retreat from the Town, where every cross wind or what thwarts their inclinations raises a Storm [and ferment.] The Climate agrees well with us all. We are on as healthy [a spot] as any part of No[rth] America, yet I can’t but think O[ld] England a healthy Climate on the whole. The extreams of heat and cold are [severe] here, and the vicissitudes so sudden, now we are melting with heat and anon perhaps the wind may turn Easterly and we may chill with cold. However the excessive heat of Summer continues not Long, little Spring, fine Autumns, and very Long winter Season, most part keen frost, which we think as pleasant weather as any.
It was thought hardly practicable for a Gentleman’s Family to live in Winter in the Country here, till my Brother made the attempt, and now it is become the taste to reside in the Country, so that there [are] no Houses to be had. My Brother’s is esteemed one of the most desirable places (as I’ve heard several Gentlemen say) in this part of the Country, from the improvments he has made, merely in convenience and neatness. As to the situation, there’s no very extensive prospect from the House, being surrounded with Hills and Woods at a good distance. This makes it more habitable and warm in Winter, but from our Ground near we have fine Views. The House built on a Rock, supplyd with good Water Springs, with a Large Lawn in front, Shrubs and flowers on the borders of it to imitate Nature in its Wildness and variety. We keep two Cows. Hay and Apples the chief produce of the Land. Have made 90 Barrels of Cyder in one Year, and at same time consumed 100 Bushils of Apples in the Family. The Children almost Live upon ‘em when ripe. I have attempted to give you an idea if our place and situation[,] as you are pleased to desire, and admitting it may be possessed in peace, in quiet, Mr and Mrs H. would not I believe chuse to exchange it for any other in America.3 the cheapness of Living, it can only be comparatively so in regard to London, for it is dearer upon the whole than any other part of England, Though Provisions as Flesh, Fish and Fowl, are about the same prices as in Chester Market, yet every other article is dear as in London, particularly Houses, and pine wood, and this is a proof of it that a Single person can’t Board and Lodge in Boston under £35 Sterling a year, [nor] could my Brother have a House there for his Family for Less than £50 a year.
We can’t boast of such agreable neighbors as you have, both in Town and in country, nor any very near, but those we have are inoffensive to us. The circle of our acquaintances is very large, more than we can well keep up, for it is not afternoon Visits those we seldom go without dineing too. Wednesdays and Saturdays we have always Company at home, seldom less than 10 or 12 on Saturdays to dine with us. Kitty, whom I sent to Mrs H., proves a usefull Servant and very good Cook. She has a white Girl and two Negroes under her in the House, besides the Nursery maid and Farmer.
There’s a little genteel Town about 4 Miles off called Cambridge, where a number of Gentlemen’s Familys live upon their Estates, and there is an Assembly there in the Winter to which my Brother Subscribed. They all seemed pleased at his joyning their Society, everyone endeavoring to make it as agreable to us as possible, about 20 couple[s] generally danced once a fortnight. I went twice or thrice in the Winter.
There are a great many Meeting Houses in the Country as well as the Town, no less than Six within 3 or 4 Mile[s] of us round about, one of ‘em a field’s length off our house, to which we all go on Sunday when we don’t go to Town. There’s a new Meeting House built two M[iles off] in which Mr Whitefield preached one of his last Sermons. It was a Kind of consecration Sermon. I heard him that once; he had always a very crouded Audience at Boston whilst he remained here. This Meeting House has never been fixed with a Minister, though many have been on Trial in twelve months past. But at length a Mr. Gordon, from Stepney near London, comes over to America, with strong recommendation. He receives an Invitation to this Congregation and is so extreamly well[-]liked, that the patron of it, is going to build a House for him and his wife for their Lives.4 This new Meeting is opposid by its neighbors, who will not permit the Dues p[ai]d by its members to be taken from the other Meetings tow[ar]ds Supporting this; that is, to make it a distinct Congregation by Authority.
Upon which the Patron is so disgusted that he threatens to make it an Episcopal Church, if Mr Gordon will conform and go to England to recieve Orders. We went the other Sunday to hear this Gentleman. My Brother was much pleased with his Sermon and delivery; but it seems surprizing to us that so good a Preacher should quit a Place in England for America, where here’s not so much want of Ministers. Perhaps you may know this Mr G. makes Me mention him. You see I write you all the news I can, though I must own none very interesting to you in peaceable times here. I took a large Sheet.
Winter Cards were sent to 40 or 50 persons in this form: A Party of Ladies and Gentlemen intending to dine at such a place on—desire the pleasure of Mr. and Mrs. — Company. Mr. and Mrs H., declining the invitation, as well as many others, are excused afterwards from sharing in these parties, which they are very glad of, and think themselves on the best terms with them all that is, that of civility and respect, visiting now and then. Indeed, for sometime after we left the Town Mrs H. did not visit Mrs B[urch,] but several persons spoke to her, saying that Mrs B. was under great concern that any distance or shyness should be between em. Mrs H. — fd, She would visit Mrs B., but She would not meet Mrs S. there. If She did, would instantly leave the House. Accordingly She went, and who should come driving in immediately to her but Mrs S. Mrs. H. got up, saying as She had other company, She would take her leave at present, and went away ere the other—to account for this breach of politeness would be too tedious to describe the Lady and all her behaviour, but she’s the most singular Character I ever met with—such a mixture of the Agreeable and the Audacious, and her conduct was unaccountable till she no longer kept up appearances. Her Husband a good natured, insignificant besotted Man, he entertained his Ladies in one Part of a great House, and She her Gentlemen at the other.
I took a large Sheet, thinking it would contain all I have to say, but have exceeded its limits. Mr. and Mrs. Hulton went a Circuit of 300 Miles (to see some of the Country) at Whitsuntide.5 I had a Journey of 260 Miles.
It is only the Vast and extensive in its Original State that engages the Curiosity of the Traveller here, and to be sure We see a great variety of Noble Prospects at the cost of much fatigue bad roads and hard fare. As to the Elegancys of Life, the improvements of Art, or fine cultivated fields of Grain, Nobody needs expect to see these in greater perfection or are they to be expected at all in the Wilds of America. All the Luxury and Elegance that is in this Province is confined to Boston, and twenty Miles round. If you travel further, it is necessary to carry your Provisions with you.
Here we follow the fashions in England and have made great strides in Luxury and Expence within these three years, Especialy in that of Dress and the young Ladies seem as smart as those we left in England. The only publick Entertainment and amusements are in an Assembly in the Winter in Boston, and Feasting and Partys going out into the Country[,] having a Dinner and a Dance, this is very Common and often not returning home till day break, but we have avoided ‘em; however, we are going today on a small Fishing Party. We are entirely seperated from Mr. Burch’s family since a West India Family came over, a Mr Sobers, for you must know their taste and way of Life proved upon further acquaintance quite different to ours, dis[s]ipation and pleasure, indulgence and Luxury, being the business of their Lives and every day devoted to it. Mrs. Sober suited em exactly, till her Conduct became notorious and her house avoided by all Ladies of Character, and they (Mr. and Mrs. S.) were forced to leave this Country for Barbadoes, where their Estate is. But before this arrives Commodore Gambia6 and his Lady. She [is] young, genteel, and Lively, joins or leads the gay circle with great Vivacity (consisting of 4 or 5 Ladies and some Officers of the Army and Navy), but Mrs. G[ambier] could not bear Mrs S. and the tone being given against her, Mrs B. would have dropped her if they could, when they could not keep her up. The first Party of Pleasure after Mrs G. arrived was in the depth of Winter.
My Brother, though in the publick Office that he is, is Obliged to see and entertain a deal of Company, as well as to shew Civilities where he receives ‘em, yet his recourses for pleasure is in the enjoyment of a few friends and in retired and Domestick Life. And his two fine Boys contribute not a little to it, being a constant fund of entertainment. Besides that, he sais he has too much business on his hands to allow time for Frolicks. He is, I am confident, the only Man of business in the Commission it to be observed that whatever dissentions there is between the Ladies, it does not reach to the Gentlemen at their Board. I have given you a long history publick and private. And trust you will reckon this two or three Letters, and read it accordingly at different times, that you may not be quite tired and wish me not to write again; depend on it, never so much at once. It will always give me pleasure to hear of Yours and Your happiness, and I hope you and Mr L. will enjoy it long with your Children in your new House, since Your former neighbours are removed and You have those near that are agreeable to you. I hope it was not want of health that occasioned Mr N[icholson?] to go live at the Park, that’s but a Step. Hope theirs and Mr. C[ropper?] Family are all well. I wish to be remembered with Kind regards to all friends.
31 August 17711
I had the pleasure to receive your kind letter of the 15th October from Sienna in March last, and have waited writing to you till I might expect a letter would meet you in London where I hope this will find you, safely returned, pleased with your tour, yet satisfyed to sit down in Old England, and be happy in the society of your old friends again; and I flatter myself it will be some addition to the pleasure you will receive in seeing them to hear of the health, and welfare of your friends that are most remote from you. I Bless God my family have been and are all well and enjoy every blessing this place can afford. You have been in the World of politeness, and pleasure; you have ranged through the great, the gay, the grand, and magnificent. May you have treasured up the useful, and ornamental, so as to be able to pass retirement agreeably or to appear in public with advantage and respect. I am persuaded from the sentiments of your heart and the improvements you have made, that you will appear with reputation in life; but that which in a great measure will constitute the happiness of it, is yet to be tried, and I trust your good judgment, and good stars, will direct you right.
We have been quiet in our own habitation since our return from the Castle, in November last. Though remote from my County and friends, and retired from the World, I have still enjoyed Domestic Comforts, and found resources within myself and the little circle about me: my Wife, my Children, my Books, and my farm. He that never looked through a Microscope is a stranger to a World of Entertainment; so is he who neglects the little pleasures at home, that are within his reach. They may appear trifling at first, and by many are overlooked; but cultivated, you find the fund increase. They solace in every hour and afford comfort under every disquietude from without. My little prat[t]lers are become very agreeable companions; they make our rural abode chearful to us. Tom is an amiable Child, quite mild, tender, and affectionate. Harry is a curled[-]pated, stout, and bold, black eyed rogue—talks almost as well as Tom, repeats what he says, and does what he does. They seem to have both fine constitutions, are in brave health, and the house is never free from noise. The Business of the Board calls me often to town, and when at home, I find full employment with my family, and farm.
In the month of May your Sister and I made a journey through some part of this Province and Connecticut. An Account of our tour must be the very reverse of what I expect to hear of yours. You have seen the World in its polished, we, in its rude State. You have gone over the Boasted remains of Antiquity, and observed the Conscious pride of those who demand respect from the lustre of their descent, and glory in what they have been. We have seen the face of nature as it was left at the flood; uncleared, and uncultivated and mankind in a state of equality. But though we cannot glory in heroic actions or claim the honours of an illustrious Ancestry, yet do not think that we are without an imaginary superiority, that we do not pride ourselves in the possession of advantages over others. Happy delusion! Where are the people, or where is the mortal, that has not a little fund of this self-flattery? That cannot place himself in some point of view, where he can look down upon others? This gratification to pride is a most comfortable cordial, and makes the wretched support many evils—but what, say you, is your boast? Why, we boast a glorious Independency. We look on the rest of the World as Slaves, and despise titles, and honour. And as we cannot glory in what we have been, we pride ourselves in what we shall be. The little Island of Great Britain is a small inconsiderable spot; We shall be the Empire of the World, and give Law to the nations.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Boston 5 November 17711
I received your kind favour of the 25 of July and the 1st of September.
Mrs H. has lately lain in of another Boy, that is to be christened Edward, so that I have a growing family of Americans. We are very happy in our domestic life and become every year more attached to our rural habitation.
My farm this year will turn out very well. I make 70 barrels of Cyder, and besides a large crop of hay, I have great plenty of fruit, and garden stuff for the Winter. And I expect the value of my produce to pay the interest of my money, and the expence of a farmer, gardener, and labourer, and I get the benefit of a great deal of health and amusement into the bargain.
I could not conceive a domestic situation in this Country wherein I could be happier than I am at present. We are indeed out of the World of business, of politics, and pleasure, but we have a World of happiness within ourselves. I have seen enough and wish rather to be ignorant of, than know more of mankind. We are upon civil terms with all we would be desirous to be acquainted with. I endeavour neither to flatter or offend; it is not the genius of this people to offer much of the former (to any servant of government at least) and I do not find a disposition in them at present to shew much of the latter, and separate from my office. I do not believe I have any personal enemies. I meet with nothing to mortify me in my intercourse abroad, and feel no wants that I have it not in my power to gratify, so that if our bounds of enjoyment are narrow, yet the absence of higher luxuries of the refined amusements and pleasures of life is fully compensated by the ease and tranquility of mind one enjoys in this sober retirement.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Boston 20 March 17721
I take the opportunity of a Ship bound immediately for Liverpool to acknowledge the receipt of Dear Mrs. Lightbody’s agreable favor, of 30th November and the Packet, (which never Comes in less than three months) And to assure her that it gives me sincere pleasure, to hear of her and her Familys welfare, and of your enjoying pleasure in little rambles abroad. Here we reckon a few hundred Miles but a little way, where everything in Nature is upon a large Scale.
I am obliged to you for your intelligence in regard to persons and affairs in or about Liverpool.
Poor Ned. Hinck’s case gives me great concern. I heard of it from my Aunt, and wrote to her in January. Am afraid by yours, there was but little hopes of his recovery. It must prove indeed a severe Trial, if she should Lose so good a son. J[ohn] H[incks] is well, we see him here, pretty often. I doubt he does not yield that comfort to his Mother that he might do, in writing more frequent.
I don’t know that he is concerned in any business at present, besides that of his office under the Commissioners of the Customs. It is the best place in their Gift, that may not be superceded by the Treasury. Yet there are some infelicities attending it, to serve a number of Masters, who are not all disposed, as my Brother is, to make those under them happy. He receives £80 a year Salary and £20 a year from my Brother[,] which makes it £100 Sterling. This seems a pretty income for a young Man, Yet it would not do for one to settle upon in this Country, and I doubt not He would gladly remove from Boston, if anything offered else where more for his advantage. I have heard my Brother often say, that when he put him into this office, it was not that he thought it an advantageous Establishment for him; his only motive was to remove him from the dangerous situation he was in, in London, without employment, and that he thought something certain for him would be better than pursuing uncertain schemes.
You have heard perhaps of another American being born in our family, a Edward Hulton, he is now five months old, a fine lively boy, but all my three Nephews are ill at this time of the [w]hooping Cough.
A melancholy affair has happened lately here, which affects us much, and thrown several Families we are acquainted with into deep distress — Mr. and Mrs. John Apthrop [Apthorp], who lived in our Neighborhood, at Cambridge, having a handsome independent fortune, lived in a very genteel way, and made the greatest figure of any Gentleman in the Provence (he had lived some time in England and in Italy) but set down at last in his own Country, where he married his second wife, a very handsome and amiable yong lady; had two Girls by her. He seemed to have everything this world could give, excepting a Son. This was his ardent wish, which Heaven granted about 12 Months ago. (Governor Hutchinson and my Brother were Sponsors.) Something still was wanting for happiness. Mr A., to vary the Scene, and escape a Winter, resolved to vissit the Southern Provences. Mrs A., an obliging wife, attends him, though as a tender Mother, she quits her dear little family with the greatest reluctance. They both took leave of us in October last and about the middle of November they embarked from New York for North Carolina, which is a few days passage. But alas! They have never been heard of since, though it’s four months ago. We have hoped the Vessil might have been drove to some of the West India Islands, but by this time, there’s too much reason to fear that the vessil was lost at Sea. Violent Storms arose a few days after it sailed. Mrs. A.’s father and mother are in the utmost Affliction, three Infants are left without a Parent, and many aggravating circumstances besides.
I fancy the Spring is opening upon you in Old England, whilst we are surrounded with a deep Snow and freezing with severe cold. A long and sharp winter we shall have, and perhaps, towards May or June suddenly emmerge from the depth of it, into the height of Summer, without the pleasure of a Spring, or but a short one. Yet here are pleasures which even this frozen state and sequestered Situation affords, for there are but few days but what we might make excursions in Sleighs (carriages without wheels that travel extreanly quick, 10 or 12 Miles an hour). While nature Smiles in a bright Sky, and a white world around us, we don’t in the least envy the inhabitants of the Town, finding here no want of Society as you may think, when Mrs. H. had near 50 Lades from Boston &c. to vissit her in her Lying in. We are farmers without expecting to reap any proffit, besides that of health and pleasure. I believe it’s very conducive to my Brothers’s Health, being obliged to ride to own frequently, and the relaxation and amusement which his little Farm affords. He has made great improvements, and built barns, Stables, and many conveniences, amongst the rest a Green house, in order to preserve Vegetables in the Winter, and raise early plants so that we may be supplied all the year round. Though this appears quite a necessary, and is general[l]y approved as a great convenience, yet it’s what has not been done before in this Province. I have studied Gardening here, and by my observation, and experience, have acquired a little Skill, so that I am Director General of the Vegatible Tribe. Though our farmer is a good common Gardener, yet many things we require, which are not used to be raised here. We put in the green house last fall 500 heads of the finest Celery that ever was seen here, I mean for the table; as to fine Gardens, there’s no such thing attempted by any Gentleman, for besides the Severe Frosts destroying everything, Labour hire is so dear, it would require a Nabob’s fortune to keep fine Gardens in taste. But I have been told that it’s only of late years that Greens or Cabbages have been raised in this Country at all, or in any plenty. All Greens and roots are called by the name of Sause here. As to fruits, Apricots and Necterans are rarities indeed, but Peaches, Strawberries, and Gooseberries grow wild. Yet these, compared with those cultivated in gardens in Old England, are in Size as crabs to Apples, and of little value. We have these in Garden cultivated, besides, curannce and rasberries, but all scarse with us, the Birds devouring ‘em when ripe.
My Brother has planted some hundreds of Fruit Trees of all sorts, so that we hope to have plenty. His Land, his 30 Acres, every field an Orchard, reckoned the greatest Apple Farm and the finest fruit in this Provence. We have plenty of standing Peach Trees, improved by Pruning. English wheat does not succeed here, but Hay and Pasture land with Indian Corn and Apples.
There’s a great enemy to the Fruit, a kind of Worm that rises out of the Ground into the Trees as soon as the Frost breaks, destroys the Apples ere they Bud, and all the Leaves, so that all the Trees round us, appears with a most dreary aspect in Summer. There’s only one remedy to prevent this Evil, found out, that is, Taring all the Trees for about 3 months every Evening after sunsett. This is a great piece of work for our Farmer, for if one evening be missed, it renders all ineffectual, and even the practice destroys the Trees in time, to guard against which, a girdle of cloth is bound round each Tree. By this means my Brother has preserved his Fruit, whilst many of our Neighbors, who would not be at the trouble and expense, have all been destroyed, and unless the practice be universal, these Vermin, which are a growing Evil, can’t be extirpated. And this makes both good Cyder and apples very rare here at this time of Year, and the Latter very acceptable to our friends at Boston and round us, not withstanding the plenty of Apples Trees in this Country.
It’s not so very cheap Living in this Country as some imagine. Though provisions are plenty, yet they grow dearer, I believe, all over the world, as it’s what the Inhabitants here complain of. Some think the Navy and Army has helped to raise the price of things. However, I believe the People are so civil to us Strangers, or new comers, to make us pay more handsomely for everything than they do their own people. Fish is the cheapest thing for which he must Send to Boston. Butcher’s meat passes our Door; we pay for mutton and veal 3d and 3½d Sterling a pound. Beef something Less. Pork more. Fresh butter is not to be procured in Winter, but we get fine Tub Butter at 6½ Sterling a pound.
Our wild fowl are cheifly Quails, Partridges, Pigeons and Robins — woodcocks and Snips are great variety. We never saw any Larks here; plenty of Tame Fowl in Season. Fat ducks we pay a shilling a piece for, and 6d or 7d for chickens. We have rabbits and Hares, but very different from what they are in England. What they call hares are more like Rabbits, small and white as Snow, and unsavory meat, near as white as rabbits.
Squrrils are eat here — After all, it’s not the price, but the Quantities of provision, the great Feasts and increasing Luxury, that is expensive to House Keepers. Your Cooks and confectioners are imported from London, and there are few families when the[y] make a Dinner but hires professed Cooks. (These are what we have never had in our house.)
Besides there are several essential articles extreamly Dear. The price of firewood at this time is 2d Sterling a square foot each way, so that I am surprised any who pinches with cold and poverty don’t run away to a warmer climate, but in the Southern Provences provisions are dearer.
Upon the whole it’s very easy for a Family to expend 4 or 500 a year. Mr. J[ohn] A[pthorp] did not spend less than £1000 a year, cheifly in entertaining elegantly.
We in this retreat are never better satisfied [than] with plain Roast and boiled, yet we must keep up [some] Society with those who shew us civilities. At this time we are seperated from all the world by a [deep snow], and thankfull we are provided against this Siege [by] Store of Salt Provisions. We kill two hogs and [cure] 16 Hames besides upon Winter — are twelve in [family].
Finding myself obliged to put the first sheet under cover, am not so genteel to send it blank, but have [filled] it with Triffles, which occurs to my thoughts. I should be glad you would be so obliging to order for me 4 pair Pumps, and 4 pair Shoes, of good black Everlasting from Mr. Garnet. I shall advise again which way to send ‘em, perhaps towards Autumn. Only desire he will please to get ‘em ready.
The Gay party I mentioned in my last were broke up when Commodore Gambia2 went. Admiral Montague and his Lady are more sedate rational folks go to Bed at 10 o’Clock. She [is a w]oman of strong S[ense], a gracefull person, and great Address, takes care of the education of her Children, and instructed her Sons in Latin, as I heard her say.
I proposed writing to Chester by this conveyance, but doubt if this will come in time, or whether [the ship] can sail this weather. My Brother and Sister [joyn] in respects to [Mr. And] Mrs. L. and Miss L. with
Dear Madam, your Affectionate
21 April 17721
I did not receive your favour of the 29th June till about four months after, and am much obliged to you for your kind remembrance and correspondence.
I observe it is the general notion at home, seeing that we are at present quiet, that we are returned to a sense of our duty as peaceable, loyal and obedient. Whereas the principle of denying the authority of Parliament is as fixed as ever, and the quiet that is, is purchased either by making concessions or not enforcing the Laws.
The conduct of Britain with regard to her Colonies seems to have been directed entirely on commercial principles. The Question has been, how shall we extend our commerce, not how shall we support our authority? And the restrictions that have been adopted, have been Ministerial, not national ones. This Minister has had one plan, the next another. No general Parliamentary and national conduct has been fixed on, to be abided by; so that Government has by a change of measures been let down, and the respect to its authority has been very much lessened.
The Constitutional Government of several of these Colonies is already independant of the Sovereign. Maryland does not know the King. His name is not used in their courts; it is my Lord Proprietor. Pensilvania is a proprietary Government. Connecticut and Rhode Island chuse their own Governours. And the Counsel of Massachusetts Bay, who are to advise the Governour in cases where the King’s honour and service is concerned, are chosen by the people, whose spirit is to resist his authority. What can be expected, or rather what may not be prognosticated from such constitutions of Government, in a Country situated so remote from G. Britain, where the people increase amazingly, and may settle on fresh Lands, without end?
The authority of Government should be well established, before it is proposed to raise a Revenue from any people. Would the powers of the Crown have been thought sufficient for this purpose, in Colonies so constituted as those above mentioned, supposing they were near to the seat of Empire? Would the Stamp Act have gone down in Yorkshire, or Scotland, supposing them under the constitution of Maryland or Connecticut? How much less in places so remote?
The late Mr. Charles Townshend2 once sent for me, and told me they proposed to lay some fresh duties on American Imports and desired me to suggest to him what Goods imported from Great Britain it might be best to lay a duty on. It struck me as an improper thing to burthen our own exports to our Colonies with duties. I answered, “it may be best, Sir, before you lay any new duties to see those well[-]collected that are already laid.”
He then said, they intended to appoint a Board of Commissioners, and more Officers in America. I answered, “it may be best, Sir, to see that the Officers already there, are protected in doing their duty.” After this I was no more sent for, and though my name was put the first in the Commission, I never solicited the appointment, nor was I ever spoke to by the first Lord, or Chancellor of the Exchequer on the matter.3
For myself, I have continued to live quietly at my Farm for these eighteen months past, and we carry on the business of the Board at Boston in the best manner we can; but smug[g]ling prevails to a great degree in most parts of America. I have now three Boys, and from any thing I can yet see it is probable that I, and my family after me, will remain in these parts. I see little prospect of compensation for all my extra Service and sufferings, but I rather think that my conduct heretofore was a bar to my advancement. I made many Enemies in Germany, by my labouring for the public; and we have had no small combat in this country to establish ourselves, which has drawn on us the resentment of many people. And at this remote distance we may be misrepresented, and injured, without knowing it. However, I have through the whole acted upon the same principles, and I am not disheartened, or sink in the least. I have the consolation of having done my duty; of having stood against many storms, to the loss of friends, and to preventing the advancement of my own fortune.
I am not solicitous about my return to England. I find myself happy with my family here, and I am only concerned for my children’s education, and their Establishment. I do not think I should feel myself happy in England; that country is only fit for people of large fortune to live in, or for those who are in the way of acquiring one. My principles were a bar to my fortune. But though in this I can rejoice, yet the thought of submitting to neglect, when one is conscious of having deserved well of one’s country, is too mortifying, and I do not intend putting it to the risk. We may be here rudely treated by the Mob, but we know nothing of the high looks of the proud. We have had a long and severe Winter, and from the begin[n]ing of March, to the middle of April, hardly any body from Boston could get to us, the Roads being full of snow. But though retired from the World of business, and pleasure, we have not been without employment, and pleasing amusements; the time has never been tedious, or our situation irksome. Indeed, I have never found time to do half the business I proposed. The Board, and the Farm, Books, and letter writing, company, and my children; all require some time, and I never find any of it on my hands. The spring now opens upon us, and we shall have a deal of agreeable occupation in the Garden, and field. I long, &c.
My Sister is the chief director about the Garden, and we raise sufficient for our Winter store, being obliged in our situation, and in this climate, to lay up a good deal of necessaries in the fall, and I make from my farm about seventy barrels of Cyder.
I shall be glad to hear of your success in the scheme for a Canal. I think it must prove of great benefit to the City. It seems to me that the natural advantages in the neighbourhood of Chester have not been attended to. No part would be better for a manufacturing Country, than from Flint to Chester: a navigable River, plenty of Coal, cheapness of provision, vicinity of Ireland, for the raw materials of Wool, Yarn, Hides, Skins, &c.
Chester itself has a very fine situation, the best walks, market, and Society. In short, [it] is the most agreeable place for a Gentleman to put on his night cap in, of any I have seen. But it is not for young and active people to settle there.
Poor Williamson. Your letter is the only Account I have had of his death. I should be much obliged to you to write me particularly as to persons and things with you. You cannot make your letter too long. There are two young Gentlemen from Chester here, who now and then do us the favor to come over. Ensign H., a son of Admiral H., and W Griffith, a Midshipman on board the Captain, son of Mr. Ralph G.
[Henry Hulton to Mr. de Ruling]
Mr. de Ruling at Hohenthurm
Proche de Halle, Saxe
I had the pleasure to receive your favour of the 14th July and I hope you received a letter from me which I had the honour of writing in August last.
I am concerned at the disappointment you met with in the management of your Estate, and for the distresses of the people from the scarcity of Provision. The people in this Country, I believe, are more at their ease than the peasantry in any other. They are proprietors of the soil they cultivate; they know no subjection to great Lords, and enjoy the benefits of protection from a Government whose authority they are always disputing. Independency was the principle the first settlers set out upon, when they quitted England, to cultivate the wilds of America: and the same spirit is continued in their descendants. And from the immense country that remains to be cleared, and settled, and the mildness of the British Government, it is probable they will be several ages before they are brought into that state of order, and subordination, that prevails in European nations.
We have continued in quiet in our habitations for a considerable time past, and I enjoy much satisfaction with my family in my rural retirement, taking great pleasure in the occupation of the farm: planting trees, and shrubs, clearing and improving my little Estate.
I have now three stout boys, who give us great delight. The first seven or ten years after marriage is certainly the happiest in life; a Man is then fixed, his concern about his Establishment is over. A circle of little domestic comforts take place of roving desires, and the calm pleasures of his family, the affection of his Wife and the innocent of his children, give him peace and satisfaction, which he in vain sought in crowds, in the eye of admiration, and the pleasures of novelty. After a while come the cares of the family; attention to the education, and providing for the Establishment of the Children, and anxiety as to their conduct.
This is but an indifferent part of the world either for the Education, or Establishment of children; and by many years residence in this country, one becomes lost to one’s friends, one’s Interest, and connections at home. However, we must accommodate ourselves to circumstances, be satisfied with doing our duty, and leave the event to providence; not repining at the loss of some comforts, nor being greatly anxious for the future.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
In my last Letter I desired to favor of you to bespeak for me of my Shoemaker Mr. Garnet, 8 pair of Black Everlasting Pumps and Shoes, and could wish to have added to them a pair of Black Silk Shoes, if you can get any Strong[-]figured or Spotted black Silks (black Satten is not servisable). If a remnant and not very dear, I should have no Objection to two pair.
Let the Shoemaker pay for it, and charge it in his Bill, which I shall desire Cousin Sukey Hincks to send Cash to you for payment of — There is another commission which I am desired to beg the favor of you. That is a small Crate of Staffordshire ware, if to be bought at Liverpool. I sent a Crate of the Yellow ware from thence which cost about £3 to my Brother and they are now almost demolished. My Sister liked them much and desires to have another Crate, if I could trouble you to buy ‘em. But she Says if there’s any new fashion or invention of Mr. Wedgwood of this kind of ware, that is approved. Should prefer it to the Yellow over again, but chuses the usefull and neat, rather than Ornamental, as they are for common Servise; therefore nothing Gilt, and no matter how few Tureens.2 One is sufficient, as we have several China ones, but if they can’t he had without two Tureens, it can’t be helped. Chuse Sause boats rather without Spoons, as these break. But drinking cups, Jugs and3 we could dispense with a good many in the Crate, along with the Dishes plates, &c.
Now, as to sending these things to Boston, we must wait till a Liverpool Vessil comes here, but would desire they may be sent by the first Opportunity. I doubt it’s hardly to be expected this side of Xmas. For the payment of what you Lay out on this account you will likewise call on Cousin S. H. I shall mention it to her. The Shoes may be sent in a Box, each pair (tell the Shoemaker) to be lapd well in paper. I forgot to mention a pair of Cork Goloshoes. Should wish to have a pair. Please tell him to make ‘em Long enough, and the Top Leather all in a piece, and let him paste some white Sheep’s Leather within the bottom of the Shoes, for they are general[l]y too wide in the Winter, though the[y] may fitt in the Summer. I used to pay him 4/6 a pair,4 but the last he charged somthing more; perhaps it was for Carrege. I can buy here as cheap as them, but not to fit so well.
Mr. and Mrs. Hulton desire to joyn me in respectfull Compliments to you and Mr. L: They are intending themselves a Little Tour soon of about a Thousand Miles, and will be at Least two or three Months away. I am to be left with [the] care of my three Nephews, fine hearty Boys. The Measles are at every House almost in Boston, and about us.
My Brother, who has been continualy making Improvements in his Habitation, has this Summer built a Kitchen, [a] Room over it, and a Dairy. Whilst this was doing, Our House was broke open one Night, and most of our Plate carried off, and I doubt we shall never find it again.
We have never heard anything of poor Mr. and Mrs. Apthrop [Apthorp], who I mentioned in my last as Lost in their passage from New York. Their friends are all gone into Mourning.
I have just received a letter from London, [which] gives me the pleasure to hear Mrs. Ashton was got quite well, and that your Sister was well at Mr. Collys. I am sorry, alas, for their Loss in Young Mr. Colly; it must be a severe stroke.
There are two great inconveniences for Families [in this] Country, the want of good Servants, no one [will c]all another Master. It’s owing partly to there is, no distinctions, scarsly in the So[ciety], another is the want of good Schools for Education. Here is a Colledge indeed, but the Independancy and Liberty with which the Youths are brought up, and indulged, makes too many of ‘em proficients in Vice. So that my Brother would not trust a Son of his [there] on any account, and I believe, therefore, my little Nephews would be sent to England for Education. But here’s lately a worthy Clergyman proposes to begin a private academy upon a new Plan, and to take a few Boys, of which numbr my nephew Tom is to be [one a] year or two hen[ce. A]t present, he is my Pupil. It will be 20 Miles off us where5
We was lately by invitation at a publick Dinner given at Cambridge, on one of the Youths taking his degrees, at which there was four hundred Ladies and Gentlemen Set[t dow]n at one Table [out] of Doors, under a Cover made on purpose. It was a genteel Entertainment and a pretty Scene.
I am Dear Mrs. Lightbody’s Affectionate
Boston 25 August 17721
I have dear Mrs. Lightbody’s kind favor of 12 March. I esteem it more so, as you did not wait for my acknowledgment of your former one, of November, though I wrote immediately on the receipt of it; I think it was in March.
The Disorder which attacked you was very alarming, yet I can imagine you composed and resigned under it, but not so your friends. They no doubt were full of anxiety and distress on your account, as your friend in America would have been had she been present.
I hope all danger of any return of those symptoms was over when you wrote, and that you have recovered Your health and strength, though probably it may be long before, after being weakened so much.
Here is a Gentleman who had a violent spitting of blood, at times, for three Years, which reduced him to such a weak and emaciated State, that he was not able to walk, and his Life was despaired of. Yet he is now in a good State of health, though very thin. It was 18 years before he perfectly regained his health. I asked him lately, what Means he found benifit by, He said that giving over all business and care, he quited the Town, the Country Air, riding a great deal in it, Dieting partly on Milk, was the method he used and which he found conducive to his Recovery and health. This Gentleman is a Scotchman, his name, Logan.
I mention him particularly as he is a very worthy character, and a great friend of my Brother’s. He says his equal is not to be met with in this Country, or scarsly in any for Assiduity, faithfulness and fortitude in Serving his friends, and in times of the greatest danger and distress. And that from his understanding Skill, probity, and diligence He would be a valuable treasure to any great Man of Fortune, that could afford to allow him 3 or £400 a year—as a Steward to Manage his affairs. He is my Brother’s right hand in regard to his advice about his Farm, being one of the best farmers in this Country, and he often tells him that he owes his agreable place of abode to him — for he purchased this House and Land for my Brother in his own name; at the time nobody would Lett or Sell to a Commissioner. We can’t but think it fortunate that what was purchased from necessity, almost without knowing anything more than that it was a place to put his family in, should prove one of the most desirable places in this Provence, as it seems to be by what everybody we see here tells us.
This Worthy Man (as I have mentioned him I must tell you his story), Mr L., has been, alas! very unfortunate. He possessed a pretty fortune, which he employed in Trade as a Merchant in Boston, in Partnership with another person who injured him notoriously. He went off with all Mr L.’s effects, and he after a fruitless pursuit of him for about twelve Months, from one West India Island to another, is obliged to Sit down with his wife and family in a Cottage, or small house, two or three Miles of us, on a little place in the Customs of £50 a year, which he since obtained. This is but penury here. He is expecting Sir Francis Bernard will procure something better for him, and justly so, if it be in his power, from his unwearied attention to his interest and services rendered him in his absense, for which he will not receive any gratuity, otherwise than as a Gentleman. But there’s no other channel scarsely to perferment than through Members of Parliament who can serve the Minister. A Life of Servises and Sufferings, even in the cause of Government, without this will avail nothing. But what is more discouraging to faithfull Servants of the Crown than to see the Vilest Characters and its greatest Enemies countenanced and advanced?
I am greatly concerned for A[un]t H[incks]’s Affliction in the Loss of her Son; did not hear of it till five Months after, from Miss Tylston. Letters are so long in coming by the Packet. J[ohn] H[incks] seemed much affected at first on hearing it. There’s little prospect of his getting anything better than the place he has under this Board.
I suppose you are now fixed in an agreable House of your own, May you Long enjoy it with your family in Comfort. I doubt [not?] the things I left in your house would be in your way and give you some trouble. I should pay the Porterage of ‘em.
The disagreable affairs to which they belong, and which has occasioned me so much trouble are never finished yet. I have never received anything from the West Indies, where there’s about £1000 lying in debts. The Gentleman to whom I sent the Power to recover ‘em is now in London, and has promised to write we soon about them, and as soon as I hear from him shall write Mr. Earle on the subject.
Whatever money I received for the Estate &c. I put into the Bank Stock, agreable to Mr Earle’s advice, and there it still lies, till the affair can be adjusted between Mr. J[ames] G[ildart] and the other Creditors, which I found beyond my power to do.
[Henry Hulton to Jacob Preston]
28 October 17721
On my return last week from Quebec, I had the pleasure to meet your letter of the 4th of August; the contents giving us great joy, and we are impatient to hear of your happiness being compleated.
I am so much hurried with publick and private business on my return that I can only write a few lines by Mr. Reeves, who intended to sail tomorrow.
We had an agreeable tour on the whole, and traversed many Woods, and mountains, unpassed by coach or chaise before. We crossed the Lakes George, Champlain, and went down the river St. Lawrence from Montreal to Quebec. We returned to Montreal by Land, and from thence to Quebec. [Canada] is a fine well settled Country; the soil luxuriant, but the people very lazy and dirty, yet very chearful, and happy. We were out 54 days, in which time by land and water we travelled 1380 miles and returned in good health, and spirits, and found all our family very well. This journey, you must know, is looked on as a great affair, and your sister is considered as a most heroic Woman, to have made such a tour, and I assure you she behaved heroically, and never was daunted or lost her spirits, under any difficulty. And we were sometimes in circumstances that put our fortitude to the tryal.
We were in an open Batteau on Lake Champlain, with a corporal and four soldiers. The second day at noon it blew a storm. There was no house or shed within 40 or 50 miles of us. All around us rocks! mountains! untrod, inhospitable Woods! The sky settled black, threatening a deluge of rain. We put ashore, made fires, raised a frame, threw the sail over it, laid our bed on some logs, eat a hearty dinner of cold beef, and slept comfortably the night. The three following nights we passed in wretched log houses, and were five nights without taking our clothes off, yet neither of us got cold, or were fatigued with the Voyage. We crossed Lake George likewise in an open Batteau. It blew hard, and rained all the time; but the wind was fair, and we thought it a fine passage in six and [a] half hours.
Such journeying by Land you cannot conceive, as some part of our travels were such Woods, such rocks, and mountains, with such trees fallen, and falling, hanging over one’s head so tremendous, as made one forget the difficulties of the road beneath. However, chaise and horses held out wonderfully, and all the country were amazed at seeing our Carriage, crying such a one never was that road before and asked what we called it, what we were laden with? We had our own liquors, and our Coachman is a tolerable Cook, or we should have been miserably off.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Boston 21 November 17721
I had the pleasure to receive your Letter of the 4 of September. I give you joy of the increase of your family, eight children. You would really make a figure in North America, which is as prolific, I believe, as any part. We have only three. Two of them are now ill of the measles, which have prevailed very much in these parts of late.
This has been a great Cyder year with us. We finished our grinding this day, and I have made 87 barrels from off my farm. It has sold very cheap in town, for 5/sh a barrel, but I dispose of none. I have about 800 apple trees. We raise a great deal of garden stuff, and last year I built a green house for my Winter store, so that we have plenty during the Winter.
About a month ago Mrs H. and I returned from a tour we made to Montreal and Quebec, which to the surprize of every body here we performed in less than 8 weeks. We travelled by land and Water 1380 Miles, and went to Lake George in our own post chaise through Woods over Rocks and Mountains unbent by coach or chaise before. We were seven days on Lake Champlain in going and six in returning. In the latter we were in an open Batteau. One night we slept in the Woods without any covering but the Boat’s sails, and four nights we lay on the floor in Log houses. However, we surmounted all our difficulties, and returned to our family in good health and spirits, fully satisfied with our domestic comforts, not having found any habitation more agreeable than our own, however Canada is a fine Country, very well settled from Montreal to Quebec, and rich in its produce of wheat. But the people are ignorant, indolent and dirty, yet simple in their manners, chearful and happy.
Mrs H. and my sister desire to join with me in presenting our best respects to you and Mrs. N. I remain with great regard
Dear Sir, &c.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Brooklyn near Boston
21 November 17721
Having a short notice of a vessil just sailing for Liverpool, I would write a few Lines.
Am anxious to hear how Dear Mrs. Lightbody does. Hope it has pleased God to recover and establish your health since that interruption of it, which your last favor informed me of; shall be very glad to hear of yours and your family’s health.
We have a sick house at present. My Nephews Tom and Harry are ill of the Measles; hope they will do well, though the latter has them violently.
I wrote to you in August last, and desired the favor of you to buy, and send a small Crate of Staffordshire Ware by a vessil from Liverpool, for my Brother. I mentioned that if there is any new invention or fashion since the Cream colourd, Mrs. Hulton woud chuse it rather than that, but by no means gilt cream colourd, as some are, They are wanted for daily and common use. Besides that, the plain or figured Edge we esteem genteeler. I hear there has been lately a large importation of them to Boston. However, we shall now wait till we hear from you and are in hopes of some variety in the fashion, from Liverpool. Be that as it will, we shall be obliged to you; I am sorry to give you the trouble.
I desired too some Shoes to be made by Mr. Garnet for me. If they are done, please to send them in a box at [the]same time, and call upon Cousin Sukey Hincks to pay whatever you Lay out on our accounts.
My Brother and Sister, who have traveled lately near 1400 Miles, say they found them at every house.
I think I mentioned in my last that they were setting out on a journey to Canada, they returned by the 20th of October. This adventure of theirs has made a great Noise here at Boston, and amased everybody, to hear where they had been, for it was before thought an impracticable thing for a wheeled Carriage to pass through the trackless Woods that lyes between this and Canada, or an idea of [the] difficulties encountered in traversing the Wilds of America. Mrs H. surmounted them all, and endured the hardships with great resolution. A kind Providence preserved them both through many dangers in the way.
By Brother writes by this opportunity to Mr Nicholson [and] probably gives him some account of his journey.
The Sons of Liberty in Boston are using all [their] endeavors to raise a Riot. The pretence is the Salaries appointed by Government for the Judges here. We are told from Gentlemen who know the people well that it will be imposible for them ever to raise a Mob that will attack us again; that the disposition of the People in general towards my Brother, and particularly in our Town is so well known, that they will not attempt to disturb him on any account.
We have been alarmed with a report of Pirates hovering about the Coast, which deters Ships from going out for sometime past. There is some foundation for it, but the Governor and Admiral can’t yet fathom the bottom of it2 A Sloop of War is sent out in quest of them.
My Brother and sister joyn in best Respects to you and Mr Lightbody.
Friend and Humble Servant
J. Hincks is here at present and very well.
3 December 17721
I did not receive your favour of the 26th December till four months afterwards, and the barrenness of matter in this part of the world must be some apology to our friends for our not writing more frequently than we do. I may say our, for I believe Mrs. H. is as blameable in that respect as myself. You would hardly think it, but really in this retreat she finds means to fill up her time, pretty much with domestic business; and the Board and other matters, leave me none on my hands. The leisure I have is most agreeably spent within the compass of my farm. However, to acquire fresh ideas, and lay up some chat for old age, we found ourselves disposed this summer to make a tour through this wild country. And a great Journey we accomplished, to the wonder of all the good people in Boston. In Europe you are invited to ramble by the works of Art, the pomp of Courts, the amusements of public places; but here it is all rude nature, nature in its first state; and the progress of society and cultivation is worth observing. The daring setler sits down in the inhospitable wood, raises a log house, girdles the trees, plants a little corn and potatoes, keeps a pig or two, and by degrees gets a Cow and other Cattle. Perhaps no other setler is within some miles of him. How he gets through the dreary Winter, or the little brood with which he is surrounded, are brought into the World, and reared, is amazing. But he that providentially careth for the Raven feedeth them.2
In such a Journey as we made, you will imagine there were many inconveniences to be put up with, and poor accommodations in respect to diet, and lodging to be expected. All these we rubbed through very well; but such roads! such rocks and mountains! inhospitable woods! as we went through, untrod by Coach or Chaise before, how we got through them is amazing. We went in our own post chaise through Albany to Lake George and without any accident.
In the Western extremity of this province we travelled through a country for twenty miles of immense Woods, rocky, and rude, called the Green Woods. Many thousand of trees that have been girdled lye perishing on the ground; others, decayed, hang across the road, ready to fall. Many of them are from 2 to 4 feet in diameter, and from 70 to 150 feet high, so that one forgets the difficulty of the road, in the apprehension from the impending trees.
The lower town of Quebec is close to the water[’s] edge on one side, and joins to a lofty hill on the other, which makes it very strait, close and confined. The way to the upper town is very disagreeable, steep, slippery, and dirty.
The Ramparts of the upper town are as high again as the tops of the houses in the lower. The Bishop’s palace, the Intendant’s Religious houses, and churches, make the chief part of the upper town. The streets are badly paved, and dirty; the town is mostly rebuilt since the siege. There is a fine extensive view of the River and Country from the Ramparts, which inclose a great deal more ground than is built upon. We visited the Indian Village of Loretta, and went to see the falls of Montmorenci, and Chandiere. The latter are the most striking; but the Waters were low at that season. We traversed the plains of Abraham, with great attention.
This conquest, after viewing the country, the situation, and works of the Enemy, I believe must appear very extraordinary to the military Gentleman. There does not appear to be any other place where they could have effected a landing, but just where it was made; and that was very critical, and hazardous. Another day would have prevented the success of that attempt, as a Battalion was to have taken post there, and the gaining the heights, through the narrow pass where they got up, might have been prevented by a small number of Men.
Wheat is the staple of Canada and they raise and export great quantities of this Grain. There is a great simplicity and civility amongst the people, yet without any mauvais[e] honte,3 for they address you with all that freedom and ease so natural to the french. However they may have been oppressed formerly, no people can be more at their ease than the Canadian under their present Government. They pay no taxes, and have the free enjoyment of their Religion. Luxury has as yet made no advances amongst them; they are even ignorant of many comforts, and conveniences, which their soil would afford, and a moderate ingenuity would find out, but which a commerce with other people, must in time shew them. They are a chearful, lazy, dirty, happy people. Their Religion, and the length and severity of their Winter, allow them fewer days of labour than other Countries, yet in their working days they do not do half the work of our people. But their idle time is not so much spent in vice, as in chearful dissipation; every one has his house, and calash;4 and their pleasure is to drive about, dance, and sing. Yet in spite of all their laziness, they must grow rich: nature amply repays for the severity of the Winter, by the clothing she gives the soil; and as soon as the snow melts, the vegetation is surprizing. They bestow no pains in manuring, or improving the Lands; yet the soil along the River side is very rich, and fertile; and great quantities of dung are left every year on the ice to be carried away; and they are so lazy as to suffer a great deal of Grass to remain uncut, and grow to waste, though their cattle are half starved in the Winter for want of fodder. Indeed, their cows are poor, small, miserable Creatures, but they have no idea of a Dairy, or of making an house clean. They never wash their floors. Their butter they make by beating it between their hands and never put salt to it; and they know nothing of cheese. The Peasantry are all dressed alike, in a rough flannel jacket, with a Hood. They eat a great deal of bread, and but little flesh meat. The oven and the pott are the chief Arts in their Cookery.
The road from Quebec to Montreal is on the side of the River St. Lawrence. The country is well settled all along the banks, and you travel in Post Calashes, with great dispatch.
We were six days on Lake Champlain in an open Batteau on our return. One night we slept in the woods and four nights in Log houses, without taking off our clothes, and it rained very hard most of the time we were on Lake George. To avoid some of the terrible bad roads we had passed, we came a round of 50 miles from Albany through Connecticut. Yet in this rout we had 15 miles of road inconceivably bad. The houses in Connecticut are pretty well built, and the people manufacture a good deal of their own clothing. There is an entire equality amongst them; they are all settled on their own Lands, and seem a comfortable set of Farmers, or Yeomanry. But they have no idea of a superior, or of a Gentleman, other than themselves. For there they are all Gentlemen, and independent. Happily, we arrived at home without any accident, and I bless God our children are all well, and we enjoy peace, and even domestic comfort.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Brooklyn near Boston 10 May 17731
I received your favour of the 3 of March and am much obliged to you for the newspapers.
Our journey to Quebec was thought very extraordinary. We made circuit of near fourteen hundred miles, and traversed many woods and mountains that had never been beat by wheels before. I should now think it hardly prudent for a woman to undertake such an expedition, but Mrs H. supported all her difficulties with great spirit. I had read Knox’s campaigns before we went this journey, which you say you have been reading lately.2 You will perhaps be pleased with hearing farther of this Country, and I intend to send you some extracts from my journal for your amusement, but shall hardly have time to write them out before the ship sails. You will see a good description of Canada in Emily Montague written by Mrs. Brooke.3
From the time we left our own house to our return we did not meet with comfortable accommodations except at the Collectors of Quebec—It is amazing how rapidly the back parts of this Country are settling, and with what little means of living people sit down in the inhospitable woods.
We have had a very short pleasant Winter of only three months and now we are in full Summer, it is very warm everything is in full blossom and the Country is delightful. Indeed, we find no inconveniences in living here the year round, and would not exchange our situation for any in the town or neighborhood. This Climate certainly improves from the back country being cleared and this part of the World is not only healthy but would be agreeable enough if we had good Government in it. But I fear we shall have much trouble before that is established.
There is a negro girl born in Affrica going from hence to England by desire of Lady Huntington. She has shewn a great genius for Poetry, and her works are to be published in London. She is certainly an extraordinary instance of natural genius. She has only been 8 or 9 years from Guinea. I have not seen her, but am told she has read most of the best English books and translations from the antients, and that she converses upon them with great propriety.4
There is a boy now shewing in Boston 10 or 11 years of age, tall and strong, so that he will lift the stoutest Man from the ground.
They have had a very good Assembly and Concert in Boston this Winter. They may talk of discouraging British Manufactures but there is no place where luxury advances faster. They have now a great number of elegant Chariots — the dressing of every young ladies head for the Assembly or Concert costs at least _ a dollar. We abound in hair dressers; however rigid and severe the old people may have been, the young ones are forward enough in following every thing that is fashionable and genteel.
My family are all well in health. Mrs H. and my sister desire to join me in presenting our best respects to Mrs N. and yourself. I am, Dear Sir, &c.
Boston 7 July 17731
I send you inclosed the extracts from my journal to Quebec, mentioned in my last letter. The printed Letters inclosed will shew you the state we were in four or five years ago, and the proceedings of the Assembly thereon will shew you the state we are now in — There seems no more prospect of our being peace and quietness than when we first arrived in this Country. You will excuse my caution in saying no more on this subject.
I am, Dear Sir, &c.
[Henry Hulton to unknown correspondent in London]
Boston 1 October 17731
I had the honour to receive your two very kind favours of the 12th January, and 26th of February. And it gives me great satisfaction to find you enjoy so much consolation at present, and such animating hopes for the future. Happy consequences of the review of a life well spent.
Through many toils, and many duties done,
Through many combats Virtues prize is won;
That prize is sweet reflection on the past,
And humble hope of heavenly Bliss at last.
In our tour to Canada we did not pass within 300 miles of the falls of Niagara, and that would have been too long and hazardous a journey for us to have made, merely for the curiosity of seeing them.
I enjoy real pleasure from the enlarged idea of the works and goodness of the great Creator, which you indulge in your last letter. You seem to be got on the threshold of heaven, and to anticipate the happiness enjoyed by the blessed inhabitants above. The thought is greatly animating, and should influence us to cultivate such sentiments and dispositions, as will be most likely to render us acceptable companions of such a society.
In the mean time my links and attachments to the present World are strengthening. I have now three little prattlers, and Mrs. H. is ready to lay in of a fourth. Anxiety for their establishment will soon take place, but alas! What shall we do with them in this Country? From the principles and practises that have long prevailed here and the neglect of the Mother Country, we have a melancholly prospect before us.
Yet without correcting the disorders in the present Governments, new and interior Establishments are going on. If we cannot keep the colonies on the Sea Coast in Order—what shall we do with those a thousand or 1500 miles inland?
You will have heard of the persecution and abuse of our worthy Governour and other Gentlemen have undergone on account of some of their letters, written to the late Mr Wheatley,2 being returned and printed here. Under this apprehension, people will be cautious of writing any account of the transactions here, and offering their opinions thereon. It beho[o]ves us to be quiet and to suffer in silence, whilst the Servants of the Crown are in this situation. I think it very happy that I have sufficient of domestic pleasures, and amusements to fill up my leisure hours. I have no roving desires, no cravings after objects beyond my reach, and feel no vacancy of enjoyment when at home. In this simplicity and retirement, if the passions are not agitated by the new, the agreeable, and surprizing, the heart is less corrupted, and the mind is more composed tranquil, and satisfied, than in the World of business and pleasure.
I cannot enough express the great sense I have of the regard you shew, and the good wishes you offer for me and mine,
O could my verse the poignant griefs assuage,
Or sooth the pains that wait on reverend age,
The Muse should all thy weary hours beguile,
And smoothe times rigid furrows to a smile.
But better comfort than the Muses have You,
A consolation in past life’s review.
Faith to thy soul doth heavenly aid impart,
Sooths all thy pains, and cheers thy drooping heart.
Still may She smile with a benignant ray,
And usher thee to everlasting day.
8 October 17731
We continue in our old state of domestic comfort, and retirement; with little variety to animate us, yet without having desires to disturb us; and we find no vacancy of enjoyment at home. This summer has past over pretty free from outward disturbance. We were only once alarmed, on occasion of the letters from the Governour, which were returned from England and printed here. At that time the people were in a great ferment, and threatened Vengeance to us all. But the storm soon subsided; however, it is as readily raised again, on any occasion. The feebleness of this Government and the dispositions and principles of the people will always subject the Servants of the Crown to popular insults, and abuse; but it is our business to suffer anxiety, and be silent. Redress is not to be expected, and only worse treatment would follow if it was to be known that we had dared to complain. When I was assaulted in my house 3 years ago at midnight, I got no relief by my complaints, and when I was pelted by the Mob this last summer, I took it quietly, and said nothing. And I am told they now say I am such a patient[,] quiet Gentleman, they will trouble me no more.
It may relieve the mind to unburthen its cares to its distant friends, but in our remote situation the sympathy that is raised at the recital of our troubles, only gives pain to our friends, without alleviating our distress; the expressions of their feeling and regard, may arrive when the mind is at ease; when the past trouble is forgot; and when it only feels a concern for having raised a painful sensation in the minds of its friends.
Notwithstanding the general prejudices, I believe we have many friends in this Country and that we are as much esteemed as any persons can be, who are in the service of the Crown. We endeavour to live quietly, neither to flatter or offend; and by an even civil behaviour, bearing and forbearing. Whatever we may be in public character, we rub on in private life pretty well, but there is no answering for the people if any popular prejudice takes them, or if it should be thought necessary to the political plan to get rid of us at once; we must then submit to the torrent.
I have the pleasure to acquaint you that Mrs. Hulton was happily delivered of a fourth son on the 2d instant. She and the infant are both very well, and he takes to the breast very kindly. She suckles him herself. Her last words were, I wish I could know how Netty was; tell her we have got boys to match her Girls, and there is no fear of their living to be old Maids in this Country. These children are only pleasures at present, but anxiety in their Education and Establishment will soon take place. This is a bad part of the World for children to learn proper principles. The authority of the Minister and Magistrate, of the parent and Master, is lost. The glorious spirit of liberty has got the better of all restraint and subordination, and there is a great depravity amongst the young people of Boston.
There is a very ingenious young Clergyman has lately fixt himself at Salem about 20 miles from this, and takes in about a dozen Youths at once to educate, and I intend to place my Children with him. His name is Nickols; he was bred at Oxford, and came from Barbados here.
We have had a fine long summer, but some months of it have been very warm. We slept for a month together under a sheet only, with a window open. The extremes of heat and cold here are very great. We had a day lately in the morning, the Thermometer was at 76, in the afternoon at 110. Yet these New England Governments are the only liveable parts of America. All to the southward of New York is unsupportable in the summer months, and a man had much better be in any of the West India Islands, than in the Carolinas in that season.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
I had the pleasure to receive Dear Mrs. Lightbody’s favor in May, together with the Cask of Staffordshire ware, and box with Shoes, all which gave Satisfaction, as I then acknowledgd by letter to you. Hope you received it, and that you are paid [by] Cousin S[ukey] Hincks what you laid down for those Articles.
It will give sincere pleasure to your friends in America to hear that you and yours enjoy health. I hope Mr. L. is quite recovered of his disorder, which he was affected with when you wrote. Was sorry to hear of the return of your Stomack complaints, though trust it is not dangerous. Wish you long to enjoy your agreable habitations in Town and Country, and every felicity in your Family. That we may meet in a better world I need not say is my most ardent wish. — When we reflect on the goodness of Providence in Supporting and carrying us through difficulties and trials, what an encouragement is it to hope and trust That he intends to Lead us to a durable felicity.
The Events that have occurred with us since I wrote last, are the addition of another Son to my Brother (which makes four boys) and the removal of J[ohn] Hincks to New Providence at the Bahamas, as Comptroler of the Customs there. It was about three Months ago that he sailed. I have wrote Aunt Hincks twice since, first acquainting her of his Embarking, and afterwards of his arrival at the Port. He found the Island in very Sickly State, a Company of the 14th Regiment which had been on the Expedition to St Vincent’s haveing brought a Malignant Fever that spread over the Island, had carryd off most of the Soldiers, and Officers, some of whom H. was particularly acquainted with, and had flattered himself to meet there.
Altogether, made it very melancholy to him. Yet we have great reason to hope he would escape the destemper, as the violence of the Contagion was pretty well over when he arrived, he said, and it was 10 or 12 days after his arrival when he wrote to my Brother. We are now preparing some Pork, Beef, Pickels &c. whatever is eatable (and proper to send him) will be acceptable by Lieut. Griffith in a King’s Vessil, which is going to be Stationed there. And no small joy will it be to H. to see his old acquaintance G. He is son to Mr. Griffith, Attorney in Chester.
Boston is reckoned to be one of the healthiest Climates on this Continent, yet the great Extreams of the Seasons, and Sudden changes of the weather must be trying to Constitutions. Mrs H. says she’s sure we shall lose Seven years of our Lives by living here, yet we have all had a pretty good share of health hitherto.
There are some disorders which People here am most Subject to; as Rhumatisms and Consumptions, the latter takes off many Young persons. There’s another terrible disorder, called here the throat Distemper, which attacks Children cheifly. This sometimes Spreads, and sweeps away numbers in a short time.
To give you some idea of the great and sudden changes of the weather, at which times few persons escape colds, It is so hot generaly in the few hot Summer months that people will Lodge with their windows open upon them and only a Sheet to cover ‘em — when suddenly the wind perhaps changes to East and pierces one through —the Pores being open by the violent heat preceding. The next day we have been obliged to have a fire in the parlour. The Thermometer was observed to be between 30 and 40 degrees different in two days together, last Summer—The hottest day in Summer, it rises to about 100 degrees, and the coldest, it is several degrees below 0. — The last Winter was the most moderate and the Summer the longest ever known here (by what they say.) It has continued near Seven Months to the Middle of this Month.
You would perhaps expect to hear an account of our political State, rather than of the Seasons and Weather. Indeed, one is not more subject to vicissitudes than the other. When it appears a calm, we never look upon it as settled. It depends very much on what Wind blows from your quarter of the World. When dark clouds and Storms threaten us across the Atlantic, then the tempest subsides here, and a profound Calm succeeds for a while. But then those impending Clouds being blown away, this Calm is followed by commotions and hurricanes. The Patriotic friends in England (particularly one who enjoys very lucrative office under Government) have wrote that here they have nothing to hope from the justice but everything from the fears of those in Administration. As they impute every indulgence to timidity in Government. You’l not wonder that we are still in the midst of Storms and alarms — a dreadful State of Society.
I have not heard from Chester a long time; hope friends there are well. In regard to your inquiry about J[ohn] H[incks] and his new Employment at the Bahamas, It is doubtless a promotion in point of Rank, but as to profit, it depends cheifly on Fees, and therefore it’s uncertain whether it will be to his advantage in this respect, till he has made trial.
The climate of new Providence, where he is, They say is healthy, though to the Southward the Sea breezes moderating it greatly. There is another good circumstance— he writes that they had the advantage of Boston in this—that the Officers of the Revenue are there all treated with respect by the Inhabitants. Otherwise it must have been disagreable in a confined Society, as it is, to one who likes Company. It is (what they say the healthiest places often are) a Dry Barren Soil. Does not produce many necessarys of Life, as I understand, but plenty of Fish, particularly Turtle, and other Luxuries, as Pine Apples, Oranges, Limes, &c. They are supplied with provisions from North America &c.
If it does not prove so advantageous or agreable an Appointment as J. H. or my Brother could wish for him, It’s probable it will only be for a time, and that something better may turn up for him, after a while. It were to be wished it could be independant of the Board of Customs in North America—At a Board which consists of a number of Persons, the majority of whose Votes determine everything relating to the Board, and each member having their private Opinions, and prejudices, their different connections, and Attachments. It can not be expected that they should be harmonious in all points. The case here is otherwise, and Hincks has his Enemies as well as friends at the Board. My Brother says he is unfortunate in a talent for ridicule, and raising Mirth, which has occasioned him to sacrifice his interest, and friends, for the diversion of Company, in unguarded hours, by talking too freely of some of the Commissioners, by which he made them his Enemies, and gave them advantage over him. I know my Brother has suffered a deal of uneasiness and vexation on his account, and I believe many contests with his Brethren. If J. H. had more prudence and less wit, he would have been in a much better situation (my Brother says) than he is, or has been in.
I have wrote you more freely on this Subject, as you make particular inquiries about him, and in confidence that you will not let anything be known which you think might add to the Afflictions of his poor Mother. It’s very possible you may have heard otherways, of the prejudices of some members of the Board against Hincks for Mr. Humphreys, who was appointed to his Office Clerk of the Ministers to the Board m[ar]ried a Miss Gardner, I believe a Sister of Major Gardner, who used to live with Mr Tarleton. Another Sister of hers has been sometimes at Mrs Hinckes, at Chester. Mr. Humphreys is a Sober, industrious Young Man; he was born at Constantinople. Miss G. came over with one of her Sisters to New York, a Brother of theirs residing there. Miss G. afterwards married Mr H[umphreys] on a short acquaintance. He came to Boston 2 or 3 years ago as Agent Victualer. He was very ill used by some persons here, who misrepresented him to his principals at home, by which he lost his employment, and you may suppose then in an unhappy situation, in a strange Country, and Mrs. Humphreys very sickly. Mrs Montague, the Admiral’s Lady, who was acquainted with a Brother of Mrs. Humphreys, and having, I believe, a great opinion of Mr. H[umphrey’]s merits Interested herself much in his favor to procure from the Commissioners the vacant office under them. The subject led me to mention this, and you know some of the connections.
I am much obliged to you for the Pamphlet in Prose by Miss Aikin. Both this and the Poems which Dr. Percival sent my Brother at same time have afforded us great Entertainment.2 The young Lady has a fine poetic genius indeed. My Brother has recomended and promised the reading of them to Miss M[ontagu], the Admiral’s Daughter, who is a very genteel young Lady about fifteen.
I am Dear Mrs Lightbody’s
There were several young Ladies here desiring a Copy of the Poem, so my Brother got a few Coppies printed.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Boston 25 November 17731
My Brother and Sister in their Adventure to the Northward went as far as Quebec. Theirs was the first Post Chaise that ever accomplished the journey, I believe, through Woods and Wilds, over Rocks and Mountains, that were deemed impassable for a Wheel Carriage before, and with only one and the same pair of Horses too, which performed surprisingly. The Carriage, Horses, and one Servant who road on Horseback were left on this Side when they crosd the Lakes. They returned home pleased with their Journey, very partial to Canada, and especialy to Montreal.
Their success has put many persons here on the thoughts of making the like Excursion. A Gentleman here, who has been at Antigua, says that Sir Edward Payne said to him, I hear you have roads now between Boston and Canada, for that Mr. and Mrs. H. have gone it in a Carriage.
I have not seen Knox’s journal, but there are places where the Indians would receive very unfavorable impressions of Xtianity. Though without the Soldiers, to see every Vice not only dishonorable to Xtianity, but shocking to humanity, prevail, and practiced, under the Cloak of Religion. Such places there are in the World.
The Books my Brother is reading to us at present are the Voyages of Commander Byron &c. by Hawksworth, Jartin’s Sermons, and Beattie on Truth — this last is said to be the best answer to the modern Sceptics that has been published.2
Colonel Leslie (who commands the Soldiers at Castle William) sent it us. This is an Amiable and good man, the Father of his Choir, and the Soldiers who all look up to him with respect, and affection. He’s of a Noble Scotch family, but distinguished more by his humanity and affability.3 The former Colonel was an exact contrast: proud, haughty, and voluptuous, devoted to self, and Self gratification. Hated in general by those under his command, and universaly despised. The retreat of the Regiments from Boston on the 5th of March, the military can none of ‘em forgive him for.4
We have seen here a greater variety of Characters than perhaps we should ever have been acquainted with in England. We are Seldom without Company. This last Summer a very agreable Lady spent some time with us. She had been married about two years to Captain Williams of the Active Man of War, stationed at Boston. He is first cozen to Lady North.
Mrs. W. is quite a woman of fashion, bred in high Life and exceeding Lively and agreable. They are by this time arrived in England and she will have many strange Anecdotes to tell Lord N. of what she had seen in this Country the few months they were here. The reason of their quiting this Station before the time was out was Their having a great inclination to return to England and the Admiral would not refuse ‘em when an opportunity offered of changing Captain Williams’s command from the Active to the Lively Man of War, which was was ordered for England.
The Ships Laden with Tea from the East India House are hourly expected. The People will not suffer it to be landed at Boston; they demand the Consignes to promise to send it back. Mr. Clark resolutely refuses to comply; will submit to no other terms than to put it into warehouse till they can hear from England. They threaten to tear him to pieces if it’s Landed. He says he will be tore to pieces before he will desert the Trust reposed in him by the Consigners. His Son, who is just arrived from England (he was at Liverpool last Summer), and all the family were got together the first night, rejoicing at his Arrival, when the mob surround the House, attacking it with Stones and clubs, did great damage to the House, and furniture, when young [Clark] spoke to ‘em, told ‘em if they did not desist [he should] certainly fire a Gun at them, which he did, and wounded a man, it’s supposed, for they retreated carrying off a man, but they threatened to destroy every person in the House if anyone of their associates was killed. And a great number of Stones, each so large as to have killed any person they had hit, were thrown about the Table where the family were at Supper, but Providence directed ‘em so that they did not fall on any person. All the avenues to the House at same time were guarded by armed Men to prevent Mr. Clark escaping.5 This was beyond anything of the kind since we came here.
My Brother joyns me in best respects to you & Mr L.; likewise to Miss Lightbody, to whom he desires to [send] the inclosed Poem. I am, Dear Madam,
Your Affectionate friend
2 December 17731
On Monday the 29th Mrs. H. and myself came to this Island, on a visit to Colonel Leslie, being an engagement of a week before. The proceedings of the Town that day in respect to the Tea Consignees were very violent. Hall, with the Tea on board arrived the day before, and nothing would satisfy the people, but that the Tea should be sent back in the same bottom.2 Before we had finished dinner, the two young Mr. Clerks, Mr. Hutchinson, and Mr. Faneuil, the Tea Consignees, came to the Island for shelter. The Town for sometime had drawn Committees from the neighbouring Towns, to meet their Committees in Faneuil Hall, where it is said they were shut up in the Evenings and concerted their plans secretly. The next day, Tuesday the 30th November, was a numerous Meeting of the people, not from Boston alone, but from that and the neighbouring towns. They were now no longer town meetings, but the people, and assembled in the old South Meeting. During their sit[t]ing, and resolving, the sheriff appeared with a Message from the Governour, directing them to disperse at their peril. This message they treated with the utmost contempt, and used very gross and rude expressions towards the Governour. And in the afternoon they met again. The Governour had already found himself unsupported by his Council, and now Government was prostrate; the ferment was very high indeed and everyone was big with apprehensions. Mr. B[urch] and Mr. P[axton], having alarming advices brought to them at Dorchester, came over to the Castle that day at noon.
On Wednesday morning the Governour came to the Castle on a visit and returned soon after. It was the opinion of us all that we could not pretend to do business in Boston, and that the Castle was the only place where we could be in security; and indeed, for the quiet of our families, and our own safety, we did not think it right to return to sleep in our houses, though we might ride into the Country in the day time. Mr. Hallowell went on Tuesday in search of intelligence, slept at a friend’s house, and returned on Wednesday evening to the Castle; and that evening Mr. Clark, the father, came from Salem by Water, w[h]ere he had retired from the fury of the people.
We are received and treated with the greatest kindness and politeness by Colonel Leslie and the Gentlemen of the 64th. But I am concerned at the inconvenience and trouble we occasion. I fear we are in for the Winter campaign on this Island. This frequent family dread, and distress, is very severe; it is more than can be borne, or can be expected to be endured by any servants of Government, in civil offices. A Certain Gentleman about five years ago gave great hopes of reward to those who faithfully persevered in well doing. I suppose he meant in the Kingdom of Heaven, for I have seen no signs of it on Earth; after five long years further of toil, and warfare, of patient endurance and humble submission to our hapless fate.
The people on Tuesday broke up their meeting after taking Hall’s ship into their care and custody; placing 25 men on board her, and appointing signals of alarm; and being told to lie in readiness, and prepared, it is said seven men are kept ready, to carry Expresses into the Country, on any emergency. They likewise sent an Express to New York and Philadelphia, to acquaint their friends of their doings. P. R. is gone over again to the true sons, and distinguished himself on the present occasion. J. W. was Moderator on Tuesday. The Gentlemen who has shown the most spirit in opposing these measures is G. E.3
The Consignees would have stored the Tea here, and have waited for orders, but that would not do, no; they must send it back at their own risk, in the same bottom. Now, the Gentlemen are not to be found; a day of Grace is given for fifteen days. If it is not then gone, something very mighty is to be done. The next attack is on the Custom House Officers—the tone is we’ll make them clear it out, and the Governour to grant his Let pass, too. It must, and shall be done, say they. This morning Bruce is arrived with more tea.4 The speaker lately received a letter from Dr. F[ranklin] with the copy of one from L[ord] D[artmouth] to him, said to be of the consoling kind, which has been shewn about, and has tended to keep up their spirits. But these consoling Epistles are cruel strokes to the more distressed servants of Government. I have left the Women and children in my family subject to dayly fears and alarms, and their greatest distress would be to see me enter my own dwelling.
Castle Island 3 December 17731
I wrote yesterday to Mr. Irving with a detail of matters at Boston and intended giving you a relation of intelligence come to hand, but last night the inclosed publication came to us, and as it contains the people’s own account of their proceeding, it is unnecessary to say any thing further thereon. We can only fly here for shelter from the storm, and sigh over this prostration of order and Government. Great pains are taken to draw in the people of the Country to adopt the violent measures of the capitol. Many towns have had meetings, [militia] trainings, and have sent Committees to the committees and meetings in Boston. We are verging, tending, hastening to rebellion. We feel mighty bold, having nobody to oppose, and threaten blood, slaughter, and destruction—and to be sure, they may do as they please with the few harassed and distressed servants of Government. The spirit is said to be general, and to be sure no one dare to speak, or act, against the popular opinion. Town meetings, papers, and pulpits, are filled with sedition; and the people are almost stark mad. Give up the Tea duty; will that satisfy? No. For then shall we require to be freed from all duties imposed by the Mother Country. In short, if one thing is granted, another will be required, and there is no medium between supporting authority, and giving up the country.
[Henry Hulton to P Esq. London]
Castle William 8 December 17731
The inclosed Memorandum and News paper will explain to you the reasons of my writing from this place. My family at Brooklyn are all very well, but are under concern from the situation of affairs in this province. It is very severe on the servants of Government in civil offices to be thus subjected to the violences of the people, and obliged to seek for shelter in this Castle, particularly at this season of the year.
This is the third time of our flying here for protection. Four times have we retired into the country from our habitations. Once I was assaulted in my dwelling house at midnight, and once I was pelted in the streets of Boston by the Mob. Now it is really purchasing an employment at too dear a rate to be subject to all the distresses which we have undergone for six years past. Add to this, misrepresentation to our superiors, and neglect from home.
It is probable that some measures will be resolved on by Government on the advices that will be received by this Vessel, either to support its authority, or to give way. If the latter, there will soon be little need for Commissioners of the Revenue in America; and if the former, they will still lead (for some time to come, at least) but a very disagreeable life, and every one must wish to get out of this line of service, without some better encouragement, and support than we have hitherto had.
The great indulgence shown to Mr. Robinson is severe upon us, who must do his duty and be deprived the rotation of visiting England. I believe the fresh leave given to Mr. R. has prevented Mr. B[urch] from making use of his leave of absence, and going home this year.
I imagine the people of Boston will wait the return of their Express sent to New York before they proceed further—If the Tea is imported into the ports to the southward, the violence of opposition may subside for the present. We must conduct ourselves as circumstances shall arise; and a week’s time will probably determine whether we may visit Boston again this Winter, or not.
We are happy here at present under the protection of a most amiable Gentleman, and in the society of the Gentlemen of the 64 Regiment. We put them to inconveniences, but they do every thing for our accommodation, with great politeness and kindness.
[Henry Hulton to addressee unknown]
8 January 17741
I received your favour of the — July on the 8th October. You will have heard before this arrives of the opposition made to the reception of the Tea sent here for sale by the East India Company, and of the destruction of three Cargoes of the said Tea on board the Vessels in this harbour. During the violence of this storm, the Commissioners retired to the Castle; and as it subsided after the Tea was destroyed, we returned to our families at Christmas, and held a Board again in Boston on the 30th December. But as all authority is in the hands of the people, our continuing either to exercise our commission, or to remain in quiet in our dwellings, depends on their pleasure. And whatever measures may be adopted by Government, there seems little prospect of peace for us. I have had a life of severe toil, and combat, in the public service, three years contest with fraudulent contractors in Germany and six years uphill labour to establish an American Revenue.
I have thrice been obliged to take shelter in the Castle and several times have gone into the Country during the rage of the people’s passions. Yet after my return from one of these excursions I was assaulted in my house at midnight and this last summer I was pelted by the Mob in coming from a public Provincial Entertainment, where I had dined by the Governour’s invitation. And yet, separate from my being a Commissioner, I believe the people owe me no ill will; nay, rather, that in my private character I am respected by them, but they are as mad now as they were in the time of the Witches; instead of the Devil and Witches, you only need to write Commissioners and Taxes.
In this state of society, the people, under the influence of popular leaders, are led to every extravagance. And the disorders of the multitude are not to be considered, or corrected, as in old countries, where order and Government are established, and where the authority of the Magistrate is respected. Here, before subordination is known, or admitted, disorder prevails; and before good Government is Established, Anarchy is introduced. Hence proceeds every thing narrow and illiberal in sentiment and practice; an envy at superior fortune, or talents; a disrespect toward all distinctions of rank, and authority; and a corruption of manners, without a refinement in taste.
In the present state of Government and temper of the people, there can be little consolation without doors for Officers of the Crown; and I am happy, as my chief pleasures are domestic, in having much comfort at my own fire side; but it was distressing in the height of the storm to leave my family. Children are great pleasures till trouble, or distress, arise, and then there is equal anxiety for their safety, and happiness. I bless God we are now all happy, and well, under our own roof, where we shall wait with solicitude the issue of these matters, if the people suffer us to remain in quiet.
[Henry Hulton to Jacob Preston]
18 January 17741
I wrote to you from the Castle with an account of our situation, and the proceedings of these people. Since Christmas we have returned home, and have remained in quiet in our dwelling, and the Board has been held as usual at Boston. And I imagine we shall continue undisturbed for two months to come; and then there will be anxious expectation of the measures from Great Britain. Whether our resolves will be considered as a declaration of War, or as the impotent rage of seditious subjects, yet I think important consequences will arise from our proceedings. Your sister and I differ in opinion as to the Measures that will be pursued; but we agree that whatever plan may be adopted, we shall in no wise be at rest. If the Colonies are to be reduced to obedience, what is to become of us till order is established? If they are to indulged in their pretentions, we cannot be suffered to remain in the exercise of our Commission. If we are removed to another part of the Continent, we shall be exposed to the like indignities we have experienced. If we are recalled, there is an end of authority. If we remain at Boston, we must stand the issue of the storm.
A little before the late violent agitations I made a present to the Boston Ladies of a little Poem—a few copies of which are inclosed in a packet to you, in a box sent from the Board to Mr. Leake. And you will be so good as to receive it and distribute the copies to the Ladies, our friends, as directed. Indeed, I am told that I have a strong party amongst the Women, and that, let what will happen, we shall remain in our habitation undisturbed; but there is no answering for the conduct of the people when their passions are inflamed, and when any object of their resentment is within their reach. The Tea consignees, who are all Gentlemen of, and largely connected with, Boston, are still the objects of great resentment, and are obliged to keep themselves sheltered at the Castle.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Boston 25 January 17741
Dear Mrs. Lightbody will find the inclosed was wrote above two months ago. I understood then that there was a vessil bound for Liverpool, but after writing it, could not hear of any such opportunity. Though it is now an old Letter, and a mere Scrawl, yet I send it, at same time desiring you will destroy it, as soon as you have read it.
By Captain Marsh I had the pleasure to receive your agreable favor of October last, along with the pamphlet. Was glad to hear so good an account of you, and your family, and that you, Mr. and Miss Lightbody had made an agreable Tour, which I hope contributed both to your healths and amusement. My Brother desires his respects to you and Mr L., and advises him by all means to ride at least Ten Miles every day; it is what he does 3 or 4 days in the Week, and finds benificial. He recommends to him, likewise, instead of Malt Liquor, to drink Spruce Beer at Meals, which is esteemed very Sweetening to the Blood. However, he don’t pretend to prescribe as a Doctor. No doubt you have had the best advise, but he desired me to mention it from him, and that he heartily wishes Mr. L.’s recovery.
You may see by the inclosed Letter, I did not stand upon the form of one from you. Did you know when I confine myself long to writing, how my health suffers by it, I am perswaded my friend would excuse me writing frequently such long letters as my inclination desposes to, when I sit down to communicate my thoughts to you.
Nothing but necessary business, or to keep up a communication with some valuable friends, who will indulge me in the pleasure of hearing from them, would ever prompt me to use my pen.
I must own, I am not disinterested in my correspondence, but expect a return of pleasure, and satisfaction, for what I send out, however trifling be the value of the Adventure. You will allow me to treat with you in the Mercantile Stile, who have been conversant in these matters lately. Yet be assured a kind regard to you and the hopes of hearing of your health and welfare is the first Motive.
I have been engaged several weeks past on a disagreable subject. Examining Account and papers, and preparing a Letter of several sheets, to send Mr. Earle by this opportunity, in order to Lay before him, and other Gentlemen whose interest is concerned, a State of the Affairs, and to have them brought to a conclusion. But when I attempt to settle the Affairs, I find so many difficulties and obstacles to the completion of them, that I think it necessary to write to Mr. James Gildart,2 to be satisfied in some points, before that Letter be sent (or the whole of it). When I left England There were several Affairs depending, particularly a Law suit in Chancery with one Thomas Fearns, which I hope by this time is determined, though I am not acquainted with the decision. It was for a considerable Sum, Mr. T. G. and my late Brother were the Plaintiffs.
Mr. Francis Gildart was employed on their side, and Mr. Pickance was Attorney for the Defendants.
When I am satisfied in regard to this and other matters from Mr. G., I shall (though it’s not in my power at this distance to act) propose a plan for accommodating the Affairs, and bringing them to a final Issue, so as I doubt not will meet with the Approbation of the Creditors in general. Some of the principal of them required of me, that I should do nothing further of consequence in these matters, without acquainting them, and with this view I write to Mr. Earle, Though I cannot expect or desire further from him, than to communicate the contents of my Letter (to him) to some others of the Gentlemen, who are interested, and if several of them woud joyn in endeavoring to adjust and conclude the Affairs, I doubt not it may be Effected before X’mas.
You may wonder why I trouble you with this subject, but I would desire the favor of you to acquaint Mr. Cropper with what I now write upon it. My compliments to him, and if he will please to Apply to Mr R. Earle, he will be further informed, as I have wrote him by this opportunity.
I should be glad to Know whether that Law suit be decided, and if it is in favor of the Plaintiffs, what might be the Sum recovered. Perhaps it may be publickly known, but if not, Messrs. Cropper and Carter could learn upon inquiry of Mr. Pickance, if not otherways.
And if you will please to advise me as to this, it would be of servise. I could wish to know further whether (in case the Affairs with Mr. Gildart &c. should be Settled) Mr. Lightbody’s House will allow me to order the Money to be remitted into their hands, in order to take up the Bond from Mr G., provided he has not received sufficient.
As it will be proper to Lodge it with a third person who will do me that favor. At present it is in the Stocks, and it would be improper to transfer it thence, till there’s a certainty my intention of concluding the Affairs will not yet meet with Obstructions.
I understand Captain Marsh intends coming out again to Boston early this Spring, when I may expect to hear from Mr. Gildart, and also hope for the favor of Your Answer.
Brooklyn near Boston 29 January 17741
I received your favour of the 7th of October by Captain Marsh, with the newspapers and a packet from Dr. Percival, who has been so obliging as to send me two Vols. of his Works, and Miss Aikin’s Poems, the latter of which I have read and have been greatly delighted with the perusal.2
You will have heard before this arrives of the reception the Tea sent for sale by the East India Company met with during the violence of the Storm the Commissioners retired to the Castle, but after the destruction of the Tea, the fury of the people subsided, and we returned to our families before Christmas, and held Our Board again in Boston on the 30th December. But everything depends on the good pleasure of the People, who have all authority in their hands.
You will excuse me entering on the subject of the present American disputes; by your letter I can see you are a stranger to the views and conduct of these people, and no one can have a proper idea of affairs here who has not been in this Country.
I have had a life of labour and combat in the publick service, and the prospect before us is still very unfavourable, as whatever measures may be adopted by Government, it will be a long time before the Commissioners can be any wise in quiet. However, I have the consolation of having done my duty, and amidst the gloom that is around us, I have at least a sunshine in domestic comforts. But these which are the sources of our first pleasures in prosperity are likewise what give the keenest edge to adversity; and to distress; and to be obliged to fly from one’s family, to leave them exposed to the madness of the people, is very severe, and can only be felt by those who have been in the same circumstances. But however the people may be incensed, yet I do not believe they mean to do me any personal injury, nor do I apprehend I shall be an object of resentment, otherwise than as a member of the Board.
The Tea Consignees are still at the Castle, where I imagine from the temper of the people they will be obliged to pass the Winter.
I happened to be at the Castle on a visit to Colonel Leslie when those Gentlemen and my Brethren came there for shelter. We were there from November 29 to December 23—and nothing could exceed the politeness and kindness of Colonel Leslie towards us all. This gentleman is son of the Earl of Leven, and a most amiable worthy character he is. Young Mr. Clark, one of the Tea Consignees, was at Liverpool last summer. I inclose some newspapers for your perusal, and a copy of a little poem for your Daughter. I wish you and yours may enjoy all happiness. We shall be in a state of anxious incertitude for some time to come. Indeed, when shall we be at peace, after six years of allarm and distress?
I beg my best compliments to your Brother’s and Mr. C[ropper’s] and Mr. L[ightbody’s] families. Mrs H. and my sister desire to join me in presenting their best respects to Mrs N. I remain, Dear Sir, &c.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
31 January 17741
You will perhaps expect me to give you some Account of the State of B[oston] and late proceedings here, but really the times are too bad and the Scenes too shocking for me to describe. I suppose you will have heard long before this arrives of the fate of the Tea — Whilst this was in suspence, the Commissioners of the Customs and the Tea Consignees were obliged to seek refuge at the Castle. My Brother happened to be there on a visit of a long engagement to Colonel Lesley when those other Gentlemen came over. He continued there about twenty days, in the mean time visiting his own House (about 8 miles from the Castle) several times. The Colonel and the Gentlemen of his Choir rendered the retreat as agreable as possible by their polite Attention to every Refugee. After the destruction of the Tea, my Brother returned Home and the other Commissioners left the Castle, the violent fury of the People having subsided a little. One would have thought before that all the malice that Earth and Hell could raise were pointed against the Governor. Mr. Paxton (one of the Commissioners) and the Tea Consignees, two of whom are the Governor’s Sons, the others are Mr. Clark, a respecta[ble] Old Gentleman, and his Sons, with two other Merchants, Mr Haliwell, another Commissioner, and likewise of this Country, was an object of their threats.
The Tea Consignees remain Still at the Castle. Six weeks since the Tea was destroyed, and there is no prospect of their ever returning and residing in Boston with Safety. This place, and all the Towns about, entered into a written agrement not to afford them any Shelter or protection, so that they are not only banished from their families and homes, but their retreat is cut off, and their interest greatly injured by ruining their Trade.
It is indeed a severe case, and can hardly be credited, I think, that the Governor’s Sons should be treated as fugitives and outlaws in their own Country. One of them lately went from the Castle, and with his Wife to her Father’s House, a Gentleman at Plymouth, 40 Miles from Boston. They had no sooner arrived there but the Bells tolled and, the Town Assembling, instantly went to the House, demanded that Mr. Hutchinson should depart immediately out of the Town. Colonel Watson, his father[-]in[-]law, spoke to them, saying that it was so late at Night, and the Weather so severe, that Mr H. and his wife could not without great inconvenience remove from his house that night, but promised them, they should go in the Morning by 9 o’Clock. The time came, and they were not gone, when the Town bells tolled again, and the people gathered about the house. Upon which the Young Couple Sett off in a great snow storm, and nobody knows since where they are.2
But the most shocking cruelty was exercised a few Nights ago upon a poor Old Man, a Tidesman, one Malcolm. He is reckoned creasy [crazy]; a quarrel was picked with him, he was afterward taken, and Tarred and feathered. There’s no Law that knows a punishment for the greatest Crimes beyond what this is, of cruel torture. And this instance exceeds any other before it. He was stript Stark naked, one of the severest cold nights this Winter, his body covered all over with Tar, then with feathers, his arm dislocated in tearing off his cloaths, he was dragged in a Cart, with thousands attending, some beating him with clubs and Knocking him out of the Cart, then in again. They gave him several severe whippings at different parts of the Town. This Spectacle of horror and sportive cruelty was exhibited for about five hours.
The unhappy wretch, they say, behaved with the greatest intrepidity, and fortitude all the while. Before he was taken, defended himself a long time against Numbers, and and afterwards, when under Torture, they demanded of him to curse his Masters, the King, Govenor, &c., which they could not make him do, but he still cried, [“]Curse all, Traitors. [”] They brought him to the Gallows and put a rope about his neck, saying they would hang him. He said he wished they would, but that they could not, for God was above the Devil. The Doctors say that it was impossible this poor creature can live. They say his flesh comes off his back in Slakes.3
It is the second time he has been Tarred and feathered, and this is looked upon more to intimidate the Judges and others than a spite to the unhappy Victim, though they owe him a Grudge for some things particularly he was with Governor Tryon in the Battle with the Regulators, and the Governor has declared he was of great servise to him in that Affair, by his undaunted Spirit encountering the greatest dangers.
Governor Tryon had sent him a gift of ten Guineas just before this inhuman treatment. He has a Wife and family, and an Aged Father and Mother, who they say saw the Spectacle, which no indifferent person can mention without horror.
These few instances, amongst many, serve to shew the abject State of Government and the licentiousness and barbarism of the times. There’s no Majestrate that dare or will act to suppress the outrages. No person is secure. There are many Objects pointed at, at this time and when once marked out for Vengence, their ruin is certain.
We are under no apprehension at present on our own Account, but we can’t look upon our Safety, secure for Long4
[Henry Hulton to Thomas Esqr. London]
15 March 17741
I have received your favour of the 28th December, and am much obliged to you for your communication: it is great satisfaction to hear from you, though you have little consolation to give us, and you in return can only expect to receive accounts of our troubles, and distresses, increasing.
The people have been incouraged in their excesses by the accounts they have received from their friend the Dr.,*2 and the neglect, or decay, tenderness, or supineness, or call it what you please, of Government, certainly has rendered their resistance to authority more daring, and the persecution to the Officers of the Crown more outrageous, and violent; and they will, if not soon prevented, go on til they have got rid of every thing that they call a Yoke, check, or restraint, from the Mother Country—having set aside the chief Justice, and prevented the legal importation of Tea. The Courts of Admiralty, and the other branches of the Customs, will be the next objects. How they will settle the matter of power, and Government amongst themselves, is another question; at present they are in a wretched state of thraldom. Everyone is sensible of the power they have assisted to raise, they feel the oppression, yet hardly any one dares to complain, or exert themselves to be relieved.
I feel much of the prostration of Government, but our immediate concern is for ourselves and families. And though I do not think I have any personal Enemies, yet when the matter is ripe for execution, I must share in the further sufferings, and dishonor, that will be brought on our service. This season of suspence and apprehension is dreadful. Hitherto the threats of the people have been confined to Mr. P[axton] and Mr. H[allowell], and it is shocking to hear the execrations that are dealt out respecting them.
The spirit that is first stir[r]ed up in Boston spreads like wildfire through the country. They have established Committees of Correspondence with all the Towns, and the like is now carrying on from the several provinces with each other. It is supposed that a scheme is in agitation to form a General Congress, where they are to settle a bill of rights, to be demanded of Great Britain.
The temper of the people is now raised to that pitch, that there would be no security to the Board if it was removed to another part of the Continent; though had it been established at first elsewhere, it might not have met with that resistance, and those insults, it has found. If the measures of Government should be to support its authority, where must we be placed till these measures have operated? If none are to be taken, the best step will be to recall the Board, or else the Crown will certainly suffer indignity, in the treatment the Board will receive.
The worthy Lt. Governour is gone “where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest.”3 I believe the Governour and Lt. Governour had wrote to Mr W[hately] to explain further the matter of the letters, and we do not think that matter will end with the Dr.’s acknowledgement, which is a very extraordinary thing indeed. Pray then, who did he get them from? Every Gentleman in Office with whom he has had any communication, must certainly oblige him to answer that question. Nobody doubted that he was the sender of the Letters, but none of His Majesty’s British servants have been suspected as capable of betraying his American servants and service, in the manner alledged by the Dr.
Boston 24 May 17741
I have received your three favours of the 5th February, 9th March and 9th April, in the latter some Minutes of the 31st March and copies of the Blockade Act.
We are now preparing to remove to Salem, where I apprehend they will be well pleased to receive us, though the patriots of Boston have been endeavouring to prevail on the other towns in this Government, and in the several provinces, to break off all Commerce with Great Britain; and to endeavour to distress the W. India Islands. On the other hand, the well[-]disposed part of the Inhabitants have been forwarding an address to our late Governour, and as he is now going home, he will be able to give the best account of the present dispositions of the people. They do not as yet seem thoroughly awake to the evils that await them. But when the Act2 has begun to operate, and they find other places, instead of adopting their follies, take warning by their misfortunes, I imagine they will pay the money, profess a disposition to be peaceable and obedient, and pray the General to intercede for them. And when order and good Government are once restored at Boston, I hope we shall sit down there again, and be upon a better footing than ever.
[Henry Hulton to Samuel Esq.]
24 May 17741
As you have withdrawn yourself from the busy scene, an Epistle from this American land may be some amusement to you in a leisure hour. At least, I am sure you would have a satisfaction to hear of us, if it was only a detail of our domestic matters— As to our public ones, I am weary both of thinking and writing about them. The Nation, however, now, not only seem to know both us and our practises, but to be so roused, as to be resolved to bring us to order and obedience. Our professed loyalty, which our daring resistance of Government, our roaring for liberty, yet exercising the severest tyranny, and oppression, are now all known and acknowledged; and the Constitution is to be mended; but what are we to get for undergoing this seven years’ persecution? It will now be said the Commissioners have been sadly misrepresented, and ill[-]used, but where is the consolation for all our sufferings, and expences, for all our family dread, and distress, under the tyranny of a Boston Mob?
We have been happy, during the late years of disturbance, to be retired from the town, and in our Country retreat have avoided a great deal of public notice. So that except my going to the Board, or our making particular visits, we were seldom from home. As members of society we gave no offence, and except my being a Commissioner, the people were very well satisfy’d with me. Happy in our domestic turn, and little amusements about our fields, and garden, we screened ourselves at home, whilst the storm raged around; we entered into no disputes about rights, and liberties, and not being particularly obnoxious, we only shared in the general execrations against Government, taxes, and Commissioners. This was in the general, but at some time, when the liberty pulse beat high, we were all distress and dismay. The Governour, Commissioners, all were to be sacrificed; they were not worthy to live. In such times, after spending nights in terror, expecting to be attacked, and have the house pulled down, I have been obliged to fly thrice to the Castle, and three or four times to different parts of the Country. After my return from one of those excursions, four years ago, I was assaulted in my house at midnight, and narrowly escaped being assassinated.
Our family has been growing through all our distresses. We have now four stout boys, who some years hence may be a guard and protection to us. Our present concerns for their education, and establishment; the prospect here for youth is but melancholy. Added to the natural democratic spirit of these people, the late agitations about liberty, has set the common people and youth loose from all restraint—the authority of the parent, and master, of the minister, and magistrate is lost. The clergy depending on the people for support have been obliged to preach to their passions, and adopt their prejudices, and they have assisted very much to forwarding that licentiousness with regard to order, and Government, that prevails.
We are infatuated with foolish notions of Independence, with an enthusiastic spirit of liberty. The original leven of pride and obstinacy has been well fermented in this American land, and it will be difficult to bring the people to a right sense of their dependance on, and cordial affection to any power that pretends to be their superiour.
Trained up in the principles of equality, and abounding in the means of subsistance, they revolt against acknowledging a superior, and view with an evil eye the possessors of those advantages which create respect and beget distinctions in society; and therefore we need not wonder if the sentiments of gratitude prevail less amongst them than people who have been bred in those degrees of subordination and dependence, which arise in states more ancient and civilized.
To acknowledge a benefit implys a consciousness of our wants, and dependence; and is a mortification of our pride; the sacrifice of which, we are hardly induced to make, till compelled by necessity.
All the youth go through the same course of Colledge education, and each continues in that seminary till he takes a degree, whether he be intended for trade, for sea, or the farm, as well as for any of the learned professions. By this course of education, many learn more than is necessary to qualify them for their future occupations in life, and all get such a smattering of law, and Government, as to enable them to be politicians, to make them factious, and litigious; whilst those who are intended for the practice of Law, and physic, have not the opportunity of acquiring a proper knowledge in those exercises, for there are no Establishments in the Colledge for instruction in the branches belonging to those professions; and in the line of Divinity, they only train Ministers for a particular sect.
By this mode of education, the youth seem to be prepared for entering upon any sort of occupation, or business, and it is very common to see persons change their employment, from one business to another, to dart suddenly into a new profession, and to be at the same time a trader, a Judge, and a General.
[Henry Hulton to unknown addressee, in London]
19 June 17741
The hurry we have been in of late has prevented my writing to you. Besides, as I knew Mr. Stewart would communicate to you an account of all matters that occurred till he joined you, I thought I could not give you any fresh intelligence.
The late Act has not yet operated sufficiently to bring these people to their senses. Instead of endeavouring to recover the favour of Government, the obstinate and perverse disposition of the majority leads them to measure the very reverse of procuring reconcilement.
The leaders, or the committee of Correspondence, are endeavouring to bring in the country to a solemn league and Covenant, not to have any dealings with Great Britain: and you will see the proceeding of the Council and Assembly have been in no wise pleasing to the General, as the former received a pretty severe rebuke in offering their Address; and the General Court is dissolved, for going into matters foreign to the business of the Province; however, it is said they have appointed Members to a General Congress.
The General’s conduct has been very sensible. He says little, but acts with spirit. And from what I have seen of him, I rejoice that the honour of the Nation at this time is put in such hands. Added to the natural disposition of these people, they seem to be held by a delusion that gets the better of what good sense they otherwise may have had. They flatter themselves with an idea of their consequence, and importance. Like a Merchant on the brink of bankruptcy, they imagine that every sail is the Vessel that is loaded for their relief. They lose sight of impending evils, to catch at clouds; nay, they think the Deity is to interpose by a Miracle, and instead of hearkening to the plain words of the Act, obey and live, they figure to themselves a thousand evils by complyance—yet by delay and disobedience are laying up for themselves a load of certain evil, sorrow, and distress. For I am fully perswaded that till the terms of the Act are complied with, the port will not be opened, and that if their obstinate spirit is not soon reduced, they will pass a miserable Winter.
The great clamour now is against the Commissioners of the Customs, for causing the fuel and provision Vessels to be duly searched at Marblehead. If they could pass easily without a thorough inspection, the intentions of the Act might be greatly evaded.
Our Board is now removed to Salem and there are no Officers of the Customs left in Boston. I come over to Brooklyn on Thursdays, and return on Monday or Tuesday morning.
The Merchants who signed the Address are about inquiring into the correspondence that has been held by the Town committee, and propose taking measures thereon. Mr. George Erving has shewn the most spirit in this business, and has great merit for his endeavours: and I hope in a little time that the well[-]disposed in the town will be able to make head against the popular leaders.
[Henry Hulton to unknown addressee]
6 July 17741
I received the favour of a letter from you in March. We have been for some time past a good deal harried and unsettled. In consequence of the Boston port act, our Board is removed to Salem, but my family remain at Brooklyn and I am frequently going between the two places. The act has not yet operated as could be wished; the people of Boston, instead of complying with the requisitions of it, have been urging the other Colonies to give them support, and join to counterwork the measures of Government; and they build much on the resolutions of the Assemblies and Towns to the southward; and the leaders of the faction are indefatigable in alarming the country, and stir[r]ing the yeomanry up, to a resistance of the authority of Great Britain. They are drawing them into a solemn League and Covenant, not to Import or use British Goods, and they and the Ministers have influenced the minds of the people to such a height, that when the new Acts which are daily expected arrive, and the alteration in the Government takes place, it is to be apprehended they may resist the operation of them in such a manner as may draw on more serious consequences. As for the town of Boston, it is now pretty well tied down, having four Regiments and a company of Artillery encamped on the Common, and several Men of War in the harbour; but though their commerce is at a stop, yet their spirit is not humbled. They are still very stubborn and obstinate, and prove themselves the true descendants of the race from which they sprung. I am afraid they will require yet further correction before they are brought to a sense of their duty. At present, there does not seem a disposition towards it. They look to a General Congress, and expect assistance from the other Colonies. If they are still supported by them, and should not be damped by spirit and resolution of Government, every thing may be expected that can be supposed of mad fanatics, though the consequence must be their own destruction.
Every one is intent and anxious for the issue of these affairs; they engage all conversation, and every one’s thoughts. Whilst one abhors the leaders, one cannot but pity the deluded multitude, who are led to the brink of ruin. The principle adverse to the authority of Parliament is too deeply riveted to be removed, till they have felt the weight of the authority and the hand of power I fear must be exerted before we are brought to a proper respect to Government.
Many of the principal Merchants in Boston made an attempt in the Town Meeting to dissolve the Committee of Correspondence, but they were borne down by numbers; they have since protested against the proceedings of the Committee.
My family are all well at Brooklyn, but if there should be disturbances in the country, they must flee to Boston, or the Castle. I just write this from Salem, as Admiral Montagu sails tomorrow, as I thought our family friends would be anxious to hear of our situation at this critical time. I apprehend within a month or six Weeks we shall see how far the phrenzy of the people will lead them. The General behaves with great good sense, and spirit — they wanted a Fast, which he not granting, they are to have a day of prayer of their own appointing the 14th instant. The General has given some very good answers to addresses presented to him. The Council’s Address he would not hear read through. I hope this will find you and your family and all our friends well and happy. There is no probability of our being otherwise than in a state of hurry, alarm and anxiety for some time to come.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
8 July 17741
My Dear Friend’s favor of the 1st March I esteem the kinder, as she did not wait to hear from me. Hope you would receive afterwards a packet of several Letters wrote at different times and sent [by] Captain Marsh, who sailed from Boston in February last.
The concern you express for your friends in these troublesome times here, deserved an immediate acknowledgment. But indeed, I’ve waited some weeks for the opportunity of a Liverpool Vessil, which I heard was expected, yet none has arrived this Spring, and I can’t delay it longer, though as I understand Letters by London Ship are generaly put in at Portsmouth — a long way to travel by Land.
I imagine you will be desirous to Know how the New Acts of Parliament operate here, and how your friends are affected by the Commotions and disturbances of the Publick. I am sorry to say there appears no disposition yet in the People towards complying with the Port Bill. — They carry their Melasses and other Goods easily by Land from Salem, and find little inconvenience at present from its operation. The distress it will bring on the Town will not be felt very severely before Winter, when Roads will be impassible. There’s little prospect of Boston Port being Opened this Year. The Leaders of the Faction are only more unwearied, and are pursuing every measure to draw the People onto resistance, and to irritate Government more and more, and which probably will end in the total ruin of the Town and the Individials.
It is now a very gloomy place, the Streets almost empty, many families have removed from it, and the Inhabitants are divided into several parties, at variance, and quarreling with each other; some appear desponding, others full of rage. The People of Property of best sense and Characters feel the Tyrrany of the Leaders, and foresee the Consequences of their proceedings, would gladly extricate themselves from the difficulties, and distress they are involved in by makeing their peace with G. Britain, and speedily submitting to the Conditions and penalties required.
These who are well disposed towards Government (more from interest than principle, it’s to be feared, as there are few willing to acknowledge the Authority of Parliament) are termed Tories. They daily increase, and have made some efforts to take the power out of the hands of the Patriots, but they are intimidated and overpowered by Numbers, and the Arts, and Machinations of the Leader, who Governs absolutly, the Minds and the Passions of the People — by publishing numberless falshoods to impose on their credulity, and various artifices to influence or terrify. The Ministers from the Pulpit and the Committee of Correspondence by writing inflame the Minds of the ignorant Country People. Their endeavors to engage the Other Colonies to shut up their Ports, and the Merchants here to joyn in a Nonimportation Agrement, proving without effect. The next plan is in opposition to the Merchants, and which if it spreads must be attended with the ruin of most of ‘em here ‘tis a Solemn League and Covenant not to use any British Manufactures till the Port is opened, and the New Acts repealed. This is a deep and diabolical scheme, and some people are taken into the Snare, but it’s to be hoped the progress of it will be stopd. General Gage, who conducts himself with great good sense and spirit, issues a Proclaimation Against it to warn ‘em of its Consequences. They are startled in general; however, the little Town of Marlborough has had the Audacity to burn the General in effigy, with the Proclaimation.
There are four Regiments and a Train of Artillery now encamped on the Common at Boston, and several Men of War [in]2 ye Harbour, though as yet we are in no wise humbled. We [expect] support from the other Colonies, and build much on a general Congress to be held in September or October of Deputies from all the [Colonies]. We are told that Blocking up the Port is the best thing that can be for Americans, that it will unite the Colonies against G. B., distress their Manufactorers and raise our friends, a numerous body, as we have been informed by Dr. Frankland, viz., the Dissenters and the Commercial part of the nation, to exert themselves in our favor, and that we may expect a Rebellion there, which will answer our purpose, and we shall become intirely free and Independant. But if we now submit — Our Lands will be taxed — Popery introduced, and we shall be Slaves for ever. I mention these as Some of the Artifices and Arguments which Keep up the spirit of opposition, [by] which the People are inflamed to the highest degree.
However, I don’t despair of seeing Peace and tranquility in America, though they talk very high and furious at present. They are all preparing their Arms and Amunition, and say if any of the Leaders are seized, they will make reprizals on the friends of Government. Three weeks will bring on the Crises.
Have not room to say all I would. Mr H. at Salem, his family at Home. Can’t be very easy as times are, though well in health. Heard lately from Hincks he was well a month [ago]. Best respects to all yours and to Mr. Cropper’s Family, [I wish] much happiness to the young married Couple. I shall note other matters [when] I write next. Your Affectionate
Friend & Servant
I hope for the pleasure soon of hearing from you. If there are no vessils bound for any Port in this Colony, it’s all one if you send Letters to New York or Philadelphia, Directing for your friend the Commissioner at Salem. They will no doubt be conveyed safe here, as he informs me. I’ve now filled every blank space.
[Henry Hulton to unknown addressee]
12 August 17741
Since the receipt of your letter of the 20th ulto little material has occured here.
The Scarborough arrived with the Regulating Acts the 6th instant and the General called a meeting of the Members of the new Council on Monday last. Only ten qualified that day. Four or five excused themselves, or took time to consider. Twelve were necessary to form the Board, so they adjourned to Tuesday next, without doing business. The next day, last Tuesday, a Town Meeting was held at Boston by adjournment, in the face of the Act. I am fully persuaded that everything that can be expected from the spirit and ability of a commander will be found in the general, but it is a bad presage, where Men of property who are appointed to the posts of honour and authority, shrink back, and betray a timidity of spirit. Til the resolves of Government are known on the proceedings of Congress, I have little expectation of any spirited measures being taken by the advice of Council. On the other hand, I am persuaded that everything short of open force will be done to intimidate individuals, perplex, distress, and resist the measures of Government. This Congress would seem to draw the matter near to a crisis. And it cannot be long before Great Britain must determine to support its authority effectually, or give way to the demands of the Colonists. If she is firm, we must be either subjects, or Rebels. And when it comes to the point, I think few will be mad enough to rank themselves in the latter class. There has been a Gentleman here, who has excelled even the warmest of the sons in the cause of liberty, yet a servant of the Crown and an old Englishman. He endeavoured to stir up the people of New York to violent measures, and is now said to be gone to this Congress, a self[-]chosen Delegate. Fame will no doubt have reported him to you.
[Henry Hulton to unknown addressee]
14 August 17741
The General has been at Boston these two or three days past. I hear he sent for the Select Men, and acquainted them that if they had any business that they thought necessary to call a town meeting upon, and they would propose it to him, he would consider it. That they said they had an Adjournment of one already to be held, upon which he said that by the late Act that could not be, and that he should take care the Act should be carryed into execution. However, we are going to have country meetings to advise &c. in this alarming Crisis. This was suggested by the Boston town meeting in July, perhaps thinking to evade the Act thereby, and to make the resolves more general and formidable.
Could it be imagined that the alteration that appears in the Billeting Act would be effectual? Under that Act the troops will yet be distressed for Quarters, unless provided at an heavy expence to the Crown. The money that has been already paid for Quarters at Boston, and expended in building that strange Blockhouse at Castle William, would have built noble Barracks in the Town, and it must come to that at last.
We keep receiving budgets of letters every Packet from Scotland, and Ireland; which mode of intelligence generally arrives a month after the Vessels are arrived at their Ports. But what does it avail, though we hear of Vessels from Holland, and Hamburg, with cargoes of Tea, and could send Accounts to the ports before they arrived. Alas! These Vessels never come nigh their ports of discharge before they are cleared of all their illicit goods by small Vessels on the Coast. Smug[g]ling never was so extensively carried on as at this time. Iit is now more patriotic than ever to distress the Commerce of Great Britain. A number of small Vessels employed in cruizing on the Coast is the only means to put a stop to smug[g]ling. The Men of War may give protection to such Vessels, but never of themselves will suppress this illicit commerce.
Boston 8 September 17741
I did not receive your favour from Bath of the 1st March till the 18th ultimo. Since which I have had the pleasure to hear of your arrival at Antigua, by a letter from Mr. Merlin at the Custom House, and I rejoice to hear such agreeable Accounts of your family, and to find you enjoy health and chearfullness. The peace and tranquility I enjoyed at Brooklyn is now at an end, and we have the most gloomy prospect before us.
When the Boston Port Act took place our Board was removed to Salem and we remained pretty quiet till the regulating Act began to operate. A Town Meeting was soon after called at Salem, in defiance of the Law. The morning it was to be held, the General came to Salem and caused the people to disperse. The Committee who called the meeting was taken before a Magistrate; two of them entered into Bail, the rest refused. The Magistrate was afraid to commit them. On this, other Towns held meetings and chose Delegates to County Meetings, supposed with intention to chuse representatives to a Provincial Meeting. County Meetings were held, and it is said they are to establish a new Government at Worcester. The Courts of Justice met; no one would serve on Juries under the new Act. The Courts were shut up. Twenty-six Members had qualified as Councellors. The people set about intimidating them; some voluntarily resigned, others were surprized in their houses by large bodies of people, threatened in the severest manner, and compelled to give up. Now all the Country were preparing their Arms, and melting down all the lead they could come at into bullets. The General the 1st instant caused the powder in the Magazine at Medford, near Cambridge, to be removed to Castle William. The next day the people from many towns, to the number of three or four thousand, assembled at Cambridge and seized the persons of Mr. [Thomas] Oliver, the Lt. Governour,2 of the High Sheriff, and some of the Counsellors, and compelled two Counsellors to resign, and the High Sheriff to sign a paper that he would not Issue the Writs under the new Act. Mr. Oliver was permitted on his parole to go to Boston, to see the Governor, and returned to the people again. He was not apprehensive of all their designs, and gave such an Account of the matter to the General as made him not to suspect any danger to the Lt. Governor. Otherwise, the General would have taken measures for his security and protection. When Mr. Oliver returned home, the people grew more violent, and outrageous; and they finally compelled him to sign a paper renouncing his seat as Counsellor.
Whilst the people were assembled at Cambridge, and were waiting the return of Mr. Oliver from Boston, the Commissioners of the Customs passed through the town, on their return from Salem. The people suffered my chaise to go quietly along, but soon pursued Mr. Hallowell, and he narrowly escaped being taken; he happened to have a brace of pistols; the cry was, stop him! he has killed a Man! and when the chase grew warm, he got out of his chaise on his servant’s horse, and with a pistol in each hand, kept the people off and got safe to the Guard at Boston. In the evening I left Brooklyn, and all the Commissioners, with the Counsellors that have not signed, are now in Boston, and my family are packing up to remove into town. The General has directed a redoubt to be thrown up, and some Guns to be mounted at the neck. The Select Men have been to remonstrate against it, and we are threatened with Twenty and thirty thousand Men, being to march down and destroy all before them.
The Country is in a state of Anarchy, and distraction; and dreadful calamity I fear will be the issue of this disorder, and licentiousness.
[Henry Hulton to unknown addressee, Esqr.]
Boston 13 September 17741
I wrote to you a few days ago, and sent the letter by one of the Transports that were expected to sail for England. But she is now ordered to New York, and has taken the letter with her, and I suppose you will receive mine from thence.
Appearances here grow every day more hostile. The General is fortifying the Neck, seven Regiments are in the town, and Castle, and more are sent for from Quebec, and New York. The people, on their part, are all arming, melting their lead into bullets, and drag[g]ing Cannon into the Country. They have long lost all respect for Government; deluded, and inflamed by their Priests and Patriots; ignorant and insolent; and confident in their numbers, they are rushing into Rebellion, and drawing on themselves the severest Calamities. They absolutely deny the authority of Parliament; will not submit to its Laws, and have defeated the execution of them, and it is said are proposing to form a new Government to be established at Worcester.
On occasion of an alarm lately sent through the Country, that the soldiers had killed some of the people, and the Admiral had fired on the town of Boston, the people in many towns of Connecticut took to their Arms and marched towards the relief of Boston, and were reluctantly sent back on finding the Account prove false. A Justice of the peace remonstrated with them, and told ‘em it was high treason to take up Arms against the King, upon which he was brought before the tribunal of the People, and obliged to sign a recantation of their own drawing up.
The remaining Counsellors, the Commissioners, all in office, and others, have taken shelter in Boston, as the only place of safety. Such numbers of new inhabitants makes it difficult to get houses. I have hired one, but shall not be able to get into it this fortnight. My family are all well, but still at Brooklyn. I wish to get them to town as soon as possible, though I have no apprehensions from our Brooklyn people.
[Henry Hulton to Saml. Martin Junr. Esqr.]
12 December 17741
I do not trouble you with a detail of the proceedings of these people. I suppose every newspaper will be filled with them. It were endless to relate all the instances of cruelty and oppression that have been practised within a few Months past. And now the Inquisitions appointed in consequence of the resolves of the Continental Congress are exerciseing a tyranny over the minds, bodies, and Estates of the people in the several Provinces; no one can speak or write, eat or drink, or wear, buy, or sell any thing, without undergoing the scrutiny of an Inquisitor. And many instances of torture and oppression I fear there will be, before the powers of Government operate effectually in restoring order.
[Henry Hulton to unknown addressee]
I should sooner have acknowledged the receipt of your favor of the 25th July, which came to my hands in October last, had I not imagined from its contents I should soon receive a further letter on the matter contained therein; in the meantime, however, please to accept my best acknowledgements for the trouble you have had on our account, and I shall be very glad to hear from you, without having other subject than your own welfare, which it will always make one happy to hear of. I observe your city is again entered into the African trade, and that you are a party concerned in the Adventure, and I wish you success in your enterprize. It is a necessary business. But I have always lamented that the first branch of our commerce, should make a breach on our principles of humanity. Yet We Americans, so jealous of our own liberty, such assertors of the rights of mankind, make no scruple to exercise the severest tyranny over the unhappy natives of Affrick.
I imagine American matters are the general subject of conversation, and that you are all amazed at our violent and audacious proceedings. As you may not be thoroughly informed of affairs here, I shall endeavor in as concise a manner as I can, to give you an account of our present situation, and the causes of it. The evil has been long growing, and is now near come to a head.
You will no doubt have read the resolutions of our Provincial and Continental Congresses; and will have seen by the Accounts published by the people themselves, that they deny the authority, and refuse obedience to the Acts of the British Parliament; that we are in a state of Anarchy, the Courts of Justice, the civil and Militia Officers who were appointed by the Crown, being suspended; and new Militia Officers and Men raised by the people, are trained for action, and a new Treasurer appointed by them to receive the Provincial Taxes, in defiance of the King’s Governour.
The resolves of the Continental Congress are now executing in the several provinces, and political Inquisitors are appointed in each town to pry into the Conduct of individuals, that they observe the orders prescribed respecting the Importation and Exportation of British Goods &.
The past concessions of Great Britain have given them confidence, and their forte is in her weakness; they expect to raise a clamour amongst the Manufacturers at home, that they will fight their battles, for the parade they here make of resistance is all a flash, without bottom. They are without order, and discipline, Officers and money, Military stores and places of defence.
It is well known that the southern provinces had imported a supply of Goods sufficient for two or three years, before the resolutions of the Congress took place, and that none of the Colonies can keep to the resolutions of the Congress; and if the nation is united, and shew firmness and spirit, the Americans must soon submit to the authority of Parliament.
It were endless to relate all the instances of cruelty, and oppression, that have been practised for some months past in this Country on those persons who have been deemed by the people unfriendly to American liberty. Every one who did not conform in all things to the will of the people was considered as a proper object of persecution; many, to save themselves and families from destruction, signed to any articles that were imposed upon them, and were compelled to make the most humiliating submissions. Still, this would not satisfy. And he who would not take up Arms, say all that they said, and justify all that they did, was judged to be a Tory, and an Enemy to his country, and therefore to be expelled the society.
So adverse are the deluded people to the Government and authority of Great Britain, so confident in their numbers and their cause, that they seem to brave her power, and dare her to the combat; and perhaps the only cure for their disorder is the severity of her chastisement. This I imagine they will feel, but to make good subjects of them afterwards will be a difficult task.
We have now a formidable force assembled here, waiting the Orders of Government, on the resolutions of Parliament; whilst the people of the country are levying and training their Militia, having chosen their own Officers, and keeping what they call minute Men ready for action, in case of any attack or alarm.
The Winter has passed off thus far without any material disturbances.
The temper and forbearance of the General, the good conduct of the Officers, the Order and discipline observed by the Troops, amidst repeated insults, and provocations, are highly to be commended.
Lord Percy’s great condescension wins upon every one, and the people must own and admire the gentle manners and good behavior of the Military in general.
Having acquainted you with the present situation of affairs here, I am now to endeavour to point out the source of these Evils, and the causes of this depravity.
The original then from whence these Evils spring is the Constitution of these New England Governments; and the causes which have urged on their progress in depravity is a long indulgence in illicit trade, and the neglect of the Mother Country to correct the evils and disorders, which their Constitutions and Commerce must of necessity occasion.
The first British settlers in these Colonies were separated from the parent state about 150 years ago. Wild Enthusiasts and violent Republicans, they came out in a storm amidst the rage of contending Parties and settled in the Wilderness. The spirit of Enthusiasm was increased in the gloom of the forest. The hardships of their condition, the severity of their occupations, and their remoteness from civil life, increased the ferocity of their manners; whilst their ease in acquiring landed property, and the Democratical form of Government they adopted, cherished their natural independency of spirit.
Great Britain, distracted by the turbulence of factions, and glad to get rid of a troublesome set of people, let them assume what forms of government they pleased. But that which appeared eligible for infant Colonies, and in a state of Virtuous simplicity, was found incompatible for a more advanced state of society, and had a natural tendency to deprave the people.
With the increase of numbers, the improvement in Commerce, Arts, Luxury, and Civilisation; Faction and intrigue, Wants, and Necessities, Frauds and Crimes kept pace.
The Councellors and Executive Officers being elective (in some of the provinces annually) and therefore subject to frequent changes from the caprice of the people, every one was tempted to look to the people for their approbation, and the Magistrates could hardly have the virtue and fortitude to execute the Laws, and do their duty, when it thwarted with a popular prejudice. Hence the Laws lost their spirit and energy from the want of some superior power to cling to for protection, every one became timid and suspicious, and cast about before he said or did anything, to see how it would affect his popularity.
In like manner the Ministers of the people, who depended on the people for their choice, support, and continuance in the Parish, were obliged to adopt popular prejudices and to preach from the holy book, not what they judged the fittest, but what the people would have to be the right doctrine. Hence the pulpits have been made the Vehicles of sedition; from thence the people have been urged to treason, and rebellion, and to destroy a Tory, has been preached up as a justifiable act.
To have told the people their duty in the simple and pure manner of their great Master, and to have insisted on the plain precepts of Morality, as an essential part, would have been reprobated by many as placing merit in good works; and therefore highly criminal, whilst the abstruser points of Divinity were topicks inexhaustible, and inexplicable, and were good substitutes to preach upon, in the room of moral duties, and the strick observance of outward Ordinances gave a good appearance to the World, and served as a cover to deceit and guile. For from the principles of the Constitution, Art and duplicity became necessary.
The lower class, feeling their consequence, became assuming, pragmatical, and insolent. Idle, and inquisitive, they wasted their time in political meetings and Cabals, judging and determining upon every one’s principles, and conduct.
Ever jealous and envious of superior talents and fortune, they endeavoured to pull down and depreciate all those who were above them; or who distinguished themselves in the state, by their Virtue and abilities. Turbulent and restless, they were forever the dupes of crafty knaves, by whom they were continually engaged in faction and sedition, and were now led into rebellion. Men of property, dreading their displeasure, were timid and fearful. Not having their due weight in the state, what must they do? They were obliged to have recourse to Art, to supply the want of power, and by coaxing and trim[m]ing, by Address and plausibility, they endeavoured to win on the passions of the intemperate Vulgar, and from habit and necessity, from timidity, and Art, the mixture of fear and cun[n]ing is wrought into the practise of society, and the intercourse of Offices.
As commerce increased, the sources of depravity increased therewith. The tillage of the soil was severe. Agriculture, which should have been the first principle in the settlement of an extensive continent, soon gave way to one more grateful to indolence, and avarice; and the neglect and indulgence of Great Britain tended to increase that depravity which Commerce introduced. They settled Colonies on Commercial principles only, encouraged them by Bounties, cherished them with care, and protected them on every occasion; but neglected to provide for the support of her Authority and Government over them. She passes Laws which she never inforced, and submitted to innovations on her prerogative, without inflicting any punishment on the offenders, till at length her authority was denied, and her Laws trampled underfoot.
The Sugar Act of the 6th Geo. II, made to gratify the West India Planters, operated to debauch the minds of the North Americans, without producing any benefit to the Revenue.
The masters of Vessels easily reconciled themselves to an Oath, on the breach of which penalties inflicted by the Law were never inforced, and the Merchants readily submitted to a Law of Revenue, which was never carried into execution; and the price of the evasion of which was only a small sum to the Officers of the Customs for conniving at the breach of an Act, which their superiors did not chuse to inforce. But when the Ministry turned their thoughts towards raising some Revenue, when they greatly reduced the duties, but insisted on the small sum that was laid to be duly paid; then it was found out, that the Law was unconstitutional, that the parliament had no right to lay any Duties in America, and therefore it was no crime to evade the payment of them. The Oath it enjoined was therefore esteemed in no wise obligatory, and they who had their own interest to serve by this kind of Casuistry, soon reconciled themselves to the Doctrine. To defraud the Revenue was deemed patriotic. Perjury became licensed, and Rebellion established on principle. Grown wanton with indulgence and prosperity, they seem to brave all authority, human and divine, and to be ripe for correction.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Boston 21 February 17751
I did not receive your favour of the 15 October till the 28 January. Though our Port is shut up, yet if you write by opportunities to any of the neighbouring Ports to the care of the Collector of such Port, it will be forwarded to me. I am much obliged to you for the concern you express on my Account. On the 2 September I quitted my habitation in the Country, and my family have been with me in Town since the middle of October, as this is the only place of security in the province for the servants or friends of Government. I imagine American matters are the general subject of conversation, and that you are all amazed at our violent and audacious proceedings.
You will no doubt have read the resolutions of our Provincial and Continental Congresses, and will have seen by the accounts published by the people themselves, that they deny the authority and refuse obedience to the Acts of the British Parliament. In consequence of which we have been for some time in a state of anarchy. The Courts of Justice being suspended, the Militia Officers superceded, and new ones appointed by the people, and a new treasurer nominated by them, to receive the Provincial taxes in defiance of the King’s authority.2
The resolves of the Continental Congress are now executing in the several Provinces, and Political inquisitors are appointed in each town to pry into the conduct of individuals that they observe the orders prescribed, respecting the Importation of British Goods &c. The past concessions of Great Britain have given the people confidence, and their forte is in her weakness. They expect to raise a clamour amongst the manufacturers at home, that they will fight their battles for them, for the parade they here make of resistance is all a flash without bottom. They are without Officers and Money, Military Stores, and places of defence, they have no sense of Order, and will never submit to discipline.
It is well known that the Southern provinces had imported a supply of goods sufficient for two or three years, before the resolutions of the Continental Congress took place, and that none of the Colonies keep to the resolutions of the Congress; and if the Nation shews firmness and spirit, the Americans must soon submit to the authority of Parliament.
It were endless to relate all the instances of cruelty and oppression that have been practised for some months past in this Country on those persons who have been deemed by the people unfriendly to American liberty. Everyone who did not conform in all things to the will of the people was considered as a proper object of persecution; many, to save themselves and families from destruction, signed to any articles that were imposed upon them, and were compelled to make the most humiliating submissions. Still, this would not satisfy and he who would not take up arms, say all that they said, and justify all that they did, was judged to be a Tory, and an Enemy to his Country, and therefore to be expelled the Society.
We have now a formidable force assembled here, waiting the Orders of Government, on the resolutions of Parliament, whilst the People of the Country Levying and training their Militia keeping what they call minute Men ready for action, in cases of any attack or allarm.
The Winter has passed off so far without any material disturbances. The temper and forbearance of the General, the good conduct of the Officers, the Order and discipline observed by the Troops amidst repeated insults and provocations are highly to be commended. Lord Percy’s great condescention wins everyone and the people must own and admire the gentle manner and good behaviour of the military in general.
A Provincial Congress has been sitting at Cambridge since the first instant, till within these few days they have published Resolves “strictly forbid[d]ing the People from furnishing the Army with any military Stores, or supplying them with necessaries to enable them to take the field.” “Urging the militia in general to perfect themselves in military discipline, and the Towns and Districts to encourage the manufactory of firearms and Bayonets; and recommended to them to cause their respective proportions of the Province tax to be paid into the hands of Mr Henry Gardner of Stow, lately appointed treasurer of the Province by the former Congress.” And after appointing the 16 of March to be kept as a day of fasting and prayer, they adjourn to meet at Concord on the 22nd of March.
Thus after seven years of trouble and trial, our situation is become still more critical and interesting. We are not subject to such frequent allarms for our own safety as heretofore, but we are concerned for the consequences which the madness of this deluded people will occasion, as it is hardly to be expected that anything less than the hand of correction can bring them back to order and obedience.
I condole and congratulate on the changes in your family, and I beg to present my best Compliments to all your family connections. Mrs. H. and my Sister desire to present the same to Mrs N. and yourself. They and the children have had their health very well through all our hurries and troubles.
I remain with great regard, Dear Sir, &c.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
I acknowledged the receipt of My Dear Friend’s kind favor of the 20th September the begining of last Month, though did not fully Answer it, purposing as I intimated to write again soon. Be assured, as your favors are always very acceptable, so nothing you say passes unnoticed, or appears unimportant to me. But at present my mind is too much agitated to attend to any subject but one, and it is that which you will be most desirous to hear particulars of, I doubt not in regard to your friends here, as to our Situation, as well as the Publick events. I will give you the best account I can, which you may rely on for truth.2
On the 18th instant, at 11 at Night, about 800 Grenadiers and light Infantry were ferry’d across the Bay to Cambridge, from whence they marched to Concord, about 20 Miles. The Congress had been lately assembled at that place, and it was imagined that the General had intelligence of a Magazine being formed there and that they were going to destroy it.
The People in the Country (who are all furnished with Arms and have what they call Minute Companys in every Town ready to march on any alarm), had a signal, it’s supposed by a light from one of the Steeples in Town, upon the Troops embarking. The alarm spread through the Country, so that before daybreak the people in general were in Arms and on their March to Concord. About Daybreak a number of the People appeared before the Troops near Lexington. They were called to, to disperse, when they fired on the Troops and ran off, upon which the Light Infantry pursued them and brought down about fifteen of them. The Troops went on to Concord and executed the business they were sent on, and on their return found two or three of their people Lying on the Agonies of Death, scalped and their Noses and Ears cut off and Eyes bored out—which exasperated the Soldiers exceedingly. A prodigious number of People now occupying the Hills, woods, and stone walls along the road, the Light Troops drove some parties from the hills, but all the road being inclosed with stone Walls served as a cover to the Rebels, from whence they fired on the Troops, still running off whenever they had fired, but still supplied by fresh Numbers who came from many parts of the Country. In this manner were the Troops harrased in their return for seven or eight Miles. They were almost exhausted and had expended near the whole of their Ammunition [when] to their great joy they were relieved by a Brigade of Troops under the Command of Lord Percy with two pieces of Artillery. The Troops now combated with fresh Ardour, and marched in their return with undaunted Countenances, receiving Sheets of fire all the way for many Miles, yet having no visible Enemy to combat with, for they never would face ‘em in an open field, but always skulked and fired from behind Walls, and trees, and out of Windows of Houses. But this cost them dear, for the Soldiers entered those dwellings and put all the Men to death. Lord Percy has gained great honor by his conduct. Through this day of severe Servise he was exposed to the hottest of the fire and animated the Troops with great coolness and spirit. Several officers are wounded and about 100 Soldiers. The killed amount to near 50, as to the Enemy we can have no exact account, but it is said there was about ten times the Number of them engaged, and that near 1000 of ‘em have fallen3
The Troops returned to Charlestown about Sunset, after having some of ‘em marched near fifty miles, and being engaged from Daybreak in Action, without respite, or refreshment, and about ten in the Evening they were brought back to Boston. The next day the Country poured down its Thousands, and at this time from the entrance of Boston Neck at Roxbury round by Cambridge to Charlestown is surrounded by at least 20,000 Men, who are raising batteries on three or four different Hills. We are now cutt from all communication with the Country and many people must soon perish with famine in this place. Some families have laid in stores of Provisions against a Siege. We are threatened that whilst the Out Lines are attacked with a rising of the Inhabitants within, and fire and sword, a dreadful prospect before us, and you know how many and how dear are the objects of our care. The Lord preserve us all and grant us an happy Issue out of these troubles.
For several nights past I have expected to be roused by the firing of Cannon. Tomorrow is Sunday, and we may hope for one day of rest. At present a Solemn dead silence reigns in the Streets, numbers have packed up their effects and quit[t]ed the Town, but the General has put a Stop to any more removing, and here remains in Town about 9000 Souls (besides the Servants of the Crown). These are the greatest security; the General declares that if a Gun is fired within the Town the inhabitants shall fall a Sacrifice — Amidst our distress and apprehension I am rejoyced our British Hero was preserved. My Lord Percy had a great many and miraculous escapes in the late action — This amiable Young Nobleman, with the Graces which attracts admiration, possesses the virtues of the heart, and all those qualities that form the great Soldier — vigilent, active, temperate, humane, great command of temper, fortitude in enduring hardship and fatigue, and Intrepidity in dangers. His Lordship’s behavior in the day of trial has done honor to the Percys. Indeed, all the Officers and Soldiers behaved with the greatest bravery, it is said.
I hope you and yours are all well and shall be happy to hear so. I would beg of you whenever you write to mention the dates of my Letters which you have received since you wrote, specialy my last of March 2d.
I am not able at present to write our Dear friends at Chester. Would desire the favor of you to write as soon as you receive this, and present my [compliments and] respects to your and my friends there, and likewise the same to those who are near to you.
I wrote not long ago both to Miss Tylston and to my Aunt H[incks]—have not heard yet from the Bahamas.
Have never heard from Mr Gildart or Mr. Earle yet.4
The Otter Man of War is just arrived Sunday Morning.5
[Henry Hulton to J Esqr.]
The intelligence that will be received by this opportunity I imagine will make you a good deal anxious for our safety, and though we are hardly sufficiently informed or composed, yet I will endeavour to give you a state of our present situation.
On the 18th instant, at eleven at night, about 800 Grenadiers and Light Infantry were ferryed across the Bay to Cambridge, from whence they marched to Concord, about twenty miles. The Congress had been lately assembled at that place, and it was imagined that the General had intelligence of a Magazine being formed there, and that they were sent to destroy it.
The whole of these New England people have been long furnished with Arms, and for a considerable time past they have kept what they call Minute Companys in every town, ready to march on any alarm. It seems upon the troops embarking, the signal by a light from one of the Steeples was given to Charles town across the Water, and this was forwarded through the Country, so that before day break the people in general were in Arms and on their march to Concord. About day break a number of them appeared before the troops, near the meeting house at Lexington. They were called to disperse; when they fired on the Troops and ran off, upon which the Light Infantry pursued them and brought down about fifteen. The Troops went on to Concord, and executed the business they were sent on; and on their return found two or three of their people not yet dead, yet scalped and their Noses and Ears cut off, which exasperated them very much. Numbers of People now occupied ths hills, Woods, and stone Walls along the road. The Light troops drove some parties from the hills, but all the road being inclosed with stone Walls, served for a cover to the Rebels, from whence they fired on the Troops, still running off whenever they had fired, but still supplyed by fresh numbers, who came from many parts of the Country. In this manner were the Troops harrassed in their return for seven or eight miles. They then were almost exhausted, and had expended near the whole of their Ammunition; when to their great joy, they were relieved by a Brigade of troops under the command of Lord Percy, with two pieces of Artillery. The Troops now combated with fresh ardour, and marched on their return with the best countenance, receiving sheets of fire all the way for many miles, and yet having no visible Enemy to combat with, for they always skulked and fired from behind walls and trees. They likewise possessed themselves of the houses on the road side, and fired from the Windows on the Troops, but this cost them dear, for the Soldiers entered those dwellings, and put all the Men to death. Lord Percy has gained great honour by his conduct. Through this day of severe service he was exposed to the hottest of the fire, and animated the troops with great coolness, and spirit.2 Several Officers are wounded and it is imagined about 150 men are killed and Wounded, but that near 1000 of the Rebels have fallen.
The Troops returned to Charlestown about sun set, after having some of them marched near fifty miles, and being engaged from day break in action without respite, or refreshment. And about ten in the Evening they were brought back to Boston.
The next day the Country poured down its thousands and at this time from the entrance of Boston neck, at Roxbury, round by Cambridge to Charlestown, is surrounded by the Rebels. There are many reports of their intentions, but none to be depended on. We are now cut off from all communication with the Country and many people must soon perish with famine in this place. But we have laid in a store of provision for some months. The Rebels threaten to attack the Lines, but I think they will hardly be mad enough to attempt it. There are 13 Battalions and four ships of the Line here, and the people of the town seem disposed to be quiet, but we are not without apprehensions, and are ardently wishing for the arrival of the forces from Europe.
Boston 7 May 17751
I had the honour to write to you of the 8th October 10 and 12th of December.
You will no doubt have been particularly informed of the affair of the 19th of April from the best authority, and therefore I shall only endeavour to give you an account of our present situation, and of such matters as may be worthy of observation in this day of tryal and trouble.
Since the return of the Troops on the day above mentioned, the environs of this Town have been possessed by the Rebels, whilst every measure has been taken within to strengthen and secure the Lines, and the Common, against an attack, or surprise.
It cannot be doubted that the affair of the 19th of April was an happy event for the servants of Government, and the people called Tories in Boston. Before that day, there were many people very urgent with their friends in town to get them to remove out of it, and it was pressed upon them in such a manner, as expressed some speedy and sudden destruction being to fall on the place. And there are now very strong reasons for judging what the intended destruction was to have been.
Many of the Officers of the Army lodged in private houses in the Town. On Monday 24th April it was intended to have a public dinner of the servants of the Crown, in honour of St. George, and Lord Percy was to have given a Ball on the Wednesday following. Now from all circumstances, it is believed there was a plot laid to have sacrificed the Officers of the Crown on one of these two nights. That the Military were either to have been taken off in their Lodgings after their return home on the 24 at night, when they were to be supposed to be in liquor, or that the whole assembly were intended to have been blown up at Lord Percy’s ball. There were upwards of 2000 men in Town provided with Arms, and on their rising, on one of these occasions, the people of the Country, who were all ready, were to have rushed down in thousands on the lines. Happily, the affair of the 19th hath disconcerted their plot; the People in Boston have since been disarmed, and we are now under no apprehension, except of the town being set on fire by some of the Desperadoes who remain; for most of the inhabitants have abandoned their dwellings, and are now scattered all over the Country; every house and farm is filled with these fugitives, and thousands of these raging, misled fanaticks probably in a short time will fall a prey to famine, and disease. But no distress of the people will turn their leaders from their purposes. The whole Country is now in a state of madness, and the distemper may probably run through the Continent. Perhaps the same treatment as is applied to natural Lunaticks, may be best to these political ones; and hunger, and delay, be more effectual than immediate force to reduce them to their senses.
Two Delegates have been here from the Assembly of Connecticut, to inquire into the truth of matters. Though they may be persuaded that the reports they received before they came here were untrue, yet there is hardly any probability of the people of the Country receiving for truth any thing that combats with their prejudices; they are possessed with the notion that Great Britain means to enslave them. But this may only be thrown out to justify their rebellion. There is no doubt that a plan of resistance has been long concerted, and that these people mean to try to be independant of Great Britain: and they are much instigated to the measures they take, by the letters they receive from England. We have no great opinion of the bravery of these people, yet their enthusiasm will supply the place of courage, and their Jewish obstinacy of dispoition, will make them endure severe calamities, before they will submit. The face of this Country has great advantage for defence; all along the road are woods, hills, and enclosures of stone walls, so that an Army might be much harrassed on their march, but particularly convoys of Provision, by a people who are all Enemys, and in Arms, and who will never appear in the fair field before regular Troops.
But who will apply the whole of their power, under the influence of fear, and cunning; and exercise it under every advantage they can derive from a knowledge of the Country, its defensible passes, its heights, and defiles.
As yet they have made no advances by raising any works against the Town, and they are supposed to be waiting for the resolutions of the General Congress. If that body should resolve to support Massachusetts bay in their revolt, we may expect that the united endeavours of the Continent will be exerted against Great Britain; but if the Congress should be for pacific measures, these people will probably fall off, and return to their habitations.
If this Province should be supported by the other Colonies, and it should not be thought adviseable to hazard the lives of many brave troops in the interior parts of the Country, the way of reducing the Colonies to obedience by a Naval War is more open and sure, without the loss of many brave Britons.
The superiority of the power of Great Britain on the ocean will always enable her to regulate the commerce of America on what condition she pleases: and if America should still be obstinate, she may reduce this Country to the terms of shipping all their produce, and receiving all their supplies in British bottoms. The Merchants at home may find full employment for all their Vessels, and the resistance of the Americans tend to the increase of the British naval power.
The ports of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, may be easily secured. One ship will keep Charles town in order. Virginia and Maryland may be awed by a few ships; at least nothing can go without the Capes, if a single Frigate cruises between them, without her notice. And if Rhode Island be taken into the hands of Government, it may be a place of Arms for Army and Navy, be a seat of Commerce, of resort and refuge, for all the well[-]disposed to Government.
It will probably be a considerable time before this Province is restored to a state of order and Government, and there does not seem to be any place of shelter for the Board out of Boston on this coast. The operations of War may make it very inconvenient and distressing to us, already reduced to salt Provision; and we are cut off from all supplys by market, and from all communication by Post with other parts.
In the present state of affairs in America, I can see no place where we can be in any degree of safety, and be open to a communication by post with the Southern ports, but at Montreal. The post is six days on its way between Boston and New York, and it is little more between Montreal and New York. If it should be thought advisable for us to remove there, it would be necessary that immediate permission should be given, that we might act as circumstances should arise: for if we go up the River St. Lawrence, it should be before the fall of the Year.
[Henry Hulton to Sam]
London 21 May 17751
I wrote to brother Preston with an account of the affair of the 19th April, which I imagine he hath communicated to you. Since that time our anxieties and distresses have been increasing, as the Rebells have occupied all the Country round the Bay, from Roxbury to Charlestown, and cut us off from all supplies and Provision by Land, or communication with the Country by post, or otherwise; and the Port is blocked up by Act of Parliament.
Consider the situation we were in after the 19th April, surrounded by all the Country in Arms, and having a more dangerous Enemy within; for all the inhabitants were armed, and ready to rise on any attack being made from without. Nay, it is not doubted but a plot was concerted for an assault, and insurrection, to have taken place after a publick entertainment, to have been given in honour of St. George, the execution of which was disconcerted by the affair of the 19th of April.
The Inhabitants have since been disarmed, and many thousands of them have abandoned their dwellings and are now either wandering in the Country, or are associated with the Rebel Troops, who fill all the neighbouring towns.
The lines at the neck, the Common, the heights in the town are all fortified and every measure has been taken to put the place in the best state of defence. We have now near 5000 men in Garrison, and are impatiently waiting the arrival of the troops from Ireland; when it is expected the Army will march into the Country. Our chief wants at present are of fresh provision, and forage, and I fear the hot weather confinement, and salt provision, will occasion a sickness amongst us in town.
There is no doubt but there had been a general concerted plan amongst the Colonies of a revolt from the authority of Great Britain, and the affair of the 19th of April only brought on the matter a little sooner than they might have chosen to have entered on the execution of it. Had the plan laid by Sir Francis Bernard been carried into execution, it is probable all would have been quiet here long ago, but by delay, and expedients, these Colonies are near lost to G. B.
The account of the affair of the 19th April was the Signal of alarm to all the Colonies to the southward, and all the reports we receive from those Quarters are of an hostile complexion. It is said the Connecticut people have taken Ticonderoga, that they have voted to raise 6000 Men to join the Massachusetts people and that Rhode Island has voted 1500, that at York and Philadelphia they are all preparing for resistance and that the Virginians have taken Lord D[unmore] prisoner, and carried him into the interior part of the country, so that it looks as if the rebellion would be general, and require more force than we shall have this summer, and very vigorous exertions of power to quell it. In the meantime, our prospect is very gloomy and the concern about our young family fills us with many anxieties.
[Hulton to unknown addressee]
12 June 17751
The alarming advice you must have received of the state of affairs in this country, I do not doubt will have made you, and all our friends, very anxious on our Account. And indeed, our situation for some time past has been critical, and disagreeable, and the prospect before us is by no means pleasant. Since the 19th of April the town has been blockaded by the people of the Country, who are all in Arms. All supplies by Land are cut off from us, and every means used to prevent Provision, forage, and fuel, from being sent from the neighbouring ports by Water.
We are threatened with attack, and assault, from the people, and they have indeed hitherto behaved very audaciously; they have drove off the Cattle, and burnt Houses, and stores, on Islands just under our Eye; however I do not apprehend they will dare to make an attack upon the town. And when the troops from Ireland arrive, it is expected the Army will occupy the Country, and chase the people from this neighbourhood. In the mean time we are much in want of forage and fresh provision. We are anxious for our future distination, as there seems no prospect of peace and comfort on this Continent for some time to come.
If the Army gives the Rebels in this neighbourhood a severe check soon, it may prevent an open revolt of the other Colonies, and reduce these people to their senses, but at present they are possessed with all the wildness of Enthusiasm, and all in obstinacy of the Jews, and nothing but a severe calamity seems likely to bring them to order and obedience.
Most of the inhabitants of Boston have abandoned their dwellings, and are now fugitives in the Country, or are joined with the people that are in Arms in the Neighbourhood; those who stay in town are threatened by the Rebels to share in the destruction of the place, if they do not come out, and we have been apprehensive lest the town be should be set on fire by some of the Desperadoes within.
Many of the friends to Government have withdrawn themselves to other places, and we are soon likely to have few left but the Military and crown officers. In this situation, you must imagine we undergo no little perturbation of Mind for the event; in the best view, much destruction and calamity must ensue; and though successful, we must expect to lose some men, some friends, and acquaintances. Amongst those who are retiring from the place is my friend Mr. Nickols, a Clergyman who will be the Bearer of this Letter to you. He was educated at Oxford, and has been engaged in the instruction of youth for some years past in this province; but from the circumstances of the time, he has been obliged to give up his Academy. He was the only one of the Establishment in this Province engaged in such an undertaking, and I thought he was deserving of every encouragement, but without support from Government I fear the scheme cannot succeed; though if Government hereafter expects to have good subjects, they must cherish the Church of England, have public Schools on Royal foundations, and a Royal University in this Country. Mr. Nickols will inform you particularly of our family circumstances. He is very well esteemed here, and I believe carries with him introductions from Lord Percy to the Duke of N[orthumberland?] and other persons of rank.
[Henry Hulton to Esq.]
19 June 17751
I did not receive your favour of the 25 February by Sir Henry Calder till yesterday. Perhaps we may have later letters by the Vessel in which M[r.] Coffin is come, for we have some packages on board not yet landed, and were confident to hear from our friends by that opportunity. But put[t]ing letters into boxes is a bad way of conveyance.
I take notice of the Account inclosed in your letter, but have not yet time to look into it, or to write upon business; indeed, we are in too great an agitation of spirits to attend to any thing but our immediate situation.
The reinforcement to the Army from Ireland came very timeously, for the Rebels have been strengthening themselves all around us, ever since the 19th April, and the Generals only waited the arrival of these Regiments to enter upon action. We are now very anxious for the arrival of the second Division, and there must be another to that, before the Army can operate effectually round this place, for the whole of the people are in Arms, the Country is very strong by nature, and the Rebels have possessed themselves of all the advantageous posts, and have thrown up entrenchments in many parts.
From the heights of this place we have a view of the whole town, the harbour and Country round, for a great extent, and Last Saturday I was a spectator of the most awful scene my eyes have beheld.
In the morning of the 17th it was observed that the Rebels had thrown up a breastwork, and were preparing to open a Battery on the heights above Charlestown, from whence they might incommode the ship[p]ing and destroy the north part of Boston. Immediately a cannonading began from a battery on the North part of the town, and the ships of War on those Works, and on the Enemy wherever they could be discovered within reach of their Guns. Soon after 11 O’Clock the Grenadiers, Light Infantry, Marines, and two Battalions marched out of their Encampment, and Embarked in Boats, and before high Water were landed on a point of Land to the Eastward of Charlestown, and they immediately took post on a little eminence. Great was our trepidation, lest they should be attacked by superior numbers, before they could be all assembled and properly prepared; but more Boats arrived and an additional number of the Troops were landed unmolested, and the whole advanced on the side round the hill, where the Battery was erected, without any attack. On that side of the hill, which was not visible from Boston, it seems very strong lines of Intrenchments were thrown up, and were now occupied by many thousands of the Rebels.2 The Troops advanced with great order towards the intrenchments, but were much galled in the assault, both from artillery and small Arms, and many brave Officers and Men were killed and wounded. As soon as they got into the Intrenchments, the Rebels fled, and many of them were killed in the trenches, and in their flight the Marines in marching through Charlestown were fired at from houses, and there fell their brave Commander, Major Pitcairn.3 His son was likewise wounded. Hearing his father was killed, he cry’d out, I have lost my father! Immediately, the Corps returned, We have lost a Father! Upon the firing from the houses, the town was immediately set in flames, and at four o’clock we saw the fire and the sword, all the horrors of War raging. The town was burning all the night. The Rebels sheltered themselves in the adjacent hills and the Army possessed themselves of Charlestown neck. We were exulting in seeing the flight of our Enemies, but in an hour or two we had occasion to mourn and lament—dear was the purchase of our safety. In the evening the streets were filled with the wounded, and the dying; the sight of which, with the cries and lamentations of the Women and children over their husbands and fathers, pierced one to the Soul. We were now every moment hearing of some Officer or other of our friends and acquaintances who had fallen in our defence, and in supporting the honour of his Country. General How had his Aid de Camp wounded, who is since dead. The Major and three Captains of the 52 are killed. Most of the Grenadiers and Light Infantry, and about eighty Officers are killed and wounded.4
Immediately after the Action on the side of Charlestown, a brisk cannonading began from the Lines on Roxbury, but without much effect. It should seem that the Troops were not thoroughly apprized of the whole of the Works that had been thrown up by the Rebels on Bunker hill before they landed, and that we were unacquainted with the face of the Country on the opposite side, and the depth of Water in Mistick River, when we made the attack; for if there had been a floating Battery, or two, to have flanked the lines of the Rebels, and have played across the neck from the Mistick side, it is apprehended we should have lost very few Men in driving them from the strong post they had here formed. Whereas it appeared that, out of 1500 Men that were engaged, upwards of 1000 were killed or wounded, about 600 more that were landed were kept as a reserve Corps.
As the Rebels fled they met a body of 2000 coming to their support, who took to their heels likewise upon a Cannon being fired amongst them, when they were advanced near to the neck. Had there been 2000 fresh troops, it is probable they might have drove the fugitives several Miles and have possessed themselves of Cambridge; but the Troops contented themselves with maintaining and securing the post they had gained by so dear a purchase.
The Rebels have occupied a hill about a mile from Charlestown neck. They are very numerous and have thrown up intrenchments and are raising a redoubt on the higher part, whilst the Ships and Troops cannonade them wherever they can reach them. In the same manner, on the other side of Boston Neck, on the high Ground above Roxbury meeting house, the Rebels are intrenching, and raising Batteries.
Such is our present situation. We have been cut off from all supplies from the Country since the 19th April and the Rebels do every thing in their power to prevent any provision coming to us from the neighbouring parts by water. However, we have salt meat, and some fresh fish, and considering how we were surprized into a blockade, I think the town has held out wonderfully, without being distressed for eatables. Many thousands of the Inhabitants indeed abandoned the place after the 19th April, under the apprehension it would be destroyed, and if we had not carryed our point on Saturday, the operations on the other side would have made us soon very uneasy in Boston.
Boston 20 June 17751
I had the favour of a letter from you about two months ago. For these two months past our situation has been critical and allarming, the town being blockaded, and the whole Country in arms all around us. The people have not only cut us off from all supplies by land, but they do their utmost to prevent any kind of provision being sent us from the neighboring ports. And as we were surprized into these circumstances, I wonder we have held out so well as we have done. We have bread, salt meat, and fresh fish, and there appears no distress for want of subsistance. Many thousand of the inhabitants abandoned their dwellings in apprehension that a speedy destruction would fall on the place, and indeed we have been wonderfully preserved. The affair of the 19th of April prevented the execution of a diabolical plot, and had not the Troops gone out on the 17th instant, it is probable that the town at this hour would have been in ashes.
The reinforcement to the Army from Ireland came very timely, for the Generals only waited the arrival of these Regiments to enter upon action.
We are now very anxious for the arrival of the second division, and I am affraid it will be necessary to have another to that before the Army can operate effectually round this place.
The Country is very strong by Nature, and the Rebels have possessed themselves of all the advantageous posts, and have thrown up Entrenchments in many parts.
From the heights of this place we have a view of the whole town, the harbour and country round for a great extent, and last Saturday I was a spectator of a most awful scene my eyes have beheld. In the morning of the 17th it was observed that the Rebels had thrown up a breastwork and were preparing to open a Battery on the heights above Charlestown; from whence they might incommode the ship[p]ing, and destroy the north part of Boston. Immediately a Cannonading began from the Battery on the north part of the town and the Ships of War on those Works and on the enemy, wherever they could be discovered within reach of their guns. Soon after eleven o’clock the Grenadiers, Light Infantry, Marines, and two Battalions marched out of their Incampments and embarked in Boats, and before high water were landed on a point of land to the Eastward of Charlestown, and they immediately took post on a little eminence. Great was our trepidation lest they should be attacked by superior numbers before they could be all assembled and properly prepared, but more boats arrived and an additional number of troops were landed unmolested, and the whole advanced, some on the other side round the hill where the Battery was erected, and some through part of Charlestown. On that side of the hill which was not visible from Boston, it seems very strong lines were thrown up, and were occupied by many thousands of the Rebels. The troops advanced with great order towards the intrenchments, but were much galled in the assault, both from artillery and small arms, and many brave Officers and Men were killed and wounded. As soon as they got to the intrenchments the Rebels fled, and many of them were killed in the trenches, and in their flight.
The Marines, in marching through part of Charlestown, were fired at from the houses, and there fell their brave Commander Major Pitcairn. His son was likewise wounded. Hearing his father was killed, he cried out I have lost my Father. Immediately the Corps returned, we have lost a Father! How glorious to die with such an Epitaph. Upon the firing from the houses the town was immediately set in flames, and at four o’clock we saw the fire and the sword, all the horrors of war raging.
The town was burning all the night, the Rebels sheltered themselves in the adjacent hills and the neighbourhood of Cambridge, and the Army possessed themselves of Charlestown neck. We were exulting in seeing the flight of our Enemies, but in an hour or two we had occasion to mourn and lament. Dear was the purchse of our safety. In the evening the streets were filled with the wounded and the dying; the sight of which, with the cries and lamentations of the women and children over their husbands and fathers, peirced one to the soul. We were now every moment hearing of some officer or other of our friends and acquaintance who had fallen in our defence and in supporting the honor of our Country. General Howe had his aid de camp wounded, who is since dead. The Major and three Captains of the 52d were killed, or died of their wounds. Most of the Grenadiers and Light Infantry, and about eighty officers are killed or wounded.
The Rebels have occupied a hill about a mile from Charlestown neck. They are very numerous and have thrown up Entrenchments, and are raising a Redoubt on the higher part, whilst the ships and troops Cannonade them wherever they can reach them. In the same manner, on the other side of Boston neck, on the high ground above Roxbury Meeting, the Rebels are intrenching and raising a Battery. Such is our present situation.
In this Army are many of noble families, many very respectable, virtuous and amiable characters, and it grieves one that Gentlemen, Brave British Soldiers, should fall by the hands of such despicable Wretches as compose the banditti of the Country, amongst whom there is not one that has the least pretence to be called a gentleman. They are a most rude, depraved and degenerate race, and it is a mortification to us that they speak English and can trace themselves from that stock.
Since Adams went to Philadelphia, one Warren, a rascally Patriot and Apothecary of this town, has had the lead in the provincial Congress. He signed Commissions and acted as President. This fellow happily was killed in run[n]ing out of the trenches the other day, where he had commanded and spirited the people to defend their Lines, which he assured them were impregnable. You may judge what the herd must be when such a one is their Leader.2
Here it is only justice to say that there are many worthy people in this province, but that the chief of them are now in Boston and that amongst the Gentlemen of the Council particularly are many respectable and worthy characters.
I beg my best Compliments to Mrs N. and all friends with you, and remain with great regard, Dear Sir, yours &c.
30 July 17751
I wrote to you by the Cerberus Man of War, with an account of the action of the 17th June. Mr. Coffin tells me that his son John, who is bred to the sea, is going Mate of a Vessel to Liverpool. He is a very clever young fellow, and will give you an Account of the state of Affairs here, which it would be too long to relate fully in the compass of a letter. Neither should I chuse to make a detail of all the matters, relative to our present situation.
The Rebels have thrown up strong lines of intrenchments all round the Bay and have been very audacious in their attempts upon the Islands in the harbour, and their attacks upon our outposts. They lately burnt the Lighthouse, and two nights ago attempted to surprise and carry off the out Guard at Bunker hill.
We are much in want of fresh provision and forage, and the town is very sickly. And it is said the Rebels have several disorders reigning amongst them.
The remaining inhabitants of the Town that are adverse to Government are removing out of it, and indeed most of the Families of our friends that can get away are Embarking for Britain, and other parts, to escape from the impending calamities. We trust that we shall yet have a considerable reinforcement to the Army this fall and have large supplies of Provision, fuel &c. from Europe, otherwise our prospect for the Winter will be very gloomy. For we are cut off from all communication with the Country, and every day are subject to alarms, never going to bed without expectation of an attack, and frequently are awaked with Cannonadings in the night.
My family, thank God, continue pretty well, but I have many anxieties on their subject, and wish I could persuade Mrs. H. to take herself and children to England. But she will not quit the place without me, so we must wait the event; and I trust that the Almighty will grant us a happy issue out of all these troubles. But what private person can think much of enduring these evils, when Earl Percy goes through all toils and dangers with the greatest chearfulness, and alacrity, and gives life and spirit to the service, by his being the foremost in all the fatigues and hazards of his profession.
Early in July the Generals Washington and Lee arrived at Cambridge, being appointed by the Continental Congress to the command of their Army, which is now to be called the Army of the Confederated Provinces.
The Rebels on the side of Roxbury threw up entrenchments near our advanced post, and frequently fired at the Lines with some pieces of Cannon, and almost daily attacked and fired upon the Centries, which sometimes drew on a cannonading on our part. But in general the Lines and Centries received their fire without returning it. Brown’s house on the Neck, where the troops had a post, was at different times set on fire, and at length consumed. The Rebels had the audacity to go over to Long Island, four miles down the harbour, where about a dozen men were employed in mowing, and carried them off, with all the stock on the Island, and the next day returned and set fire to the house in the sight of several Men of War who fired at, and pursued them, but with no effect. About the middle of July several transports arrived with our Regiments of foot from Ireland, which had been at New York, but had Orders sent to them from the General to proceed to Boston, without landing there. At this time about 2000 Connecticut people have possessed themselves of New York, and all who will not join against Great Britain are to be expelled the Country, and at Philadelphia they are disciplining several Regiments to join the general cause.
July 31st. At 1 o’clock this morning we were waked with a furious cannonade of great Guns, and an heavy fire from small Arms in several Quarters, and apprehended the Enemy were making a general attack on the town in all parts. We have been long threatened that the town should be set on fire in different places, by the people within, whilst the Rebels, under favour of their numbers without, would attempt a general assault. They have been provided with several hundred Whale boats from Nantucket for some time past, which row with prodigious swiftness, and in these they venture to go upon Islands in sight of the Men of War, whose Boats cannot reach them. And they are so light as to be easily carried upon Men’s shoulders from place to place. In the midst of so much noise, under these apprehensions, consider the distress of a family of Women and Children, not knowing which way to flee for shelter. However, this affair has proved to be a feinte from our side in different parts, at the same time the Enemy made a second descent at the Light house, and killed the Officer and some of the troops that had lately been stationed there, and made prisoners of the rest of the party that was not destroyed.
[Henry Hulton to unknown addressee]
10 August 17751
I had the pleasure to write to you in February last, since which we have undergone a great deal of anxiety and distress. The chief occurrances are of such notoriety, I shall not repeat them. Since the affair of the 19th April, this place has been blockaded by the Rebels, who are strongly intrenched all round the Bay, and we have been cut off from all communication with the Country since that time, and they have prevented, all in their power, any supplys of provision or fuel coming to us from other parts; but as there appears a general disposition of revolt from the authority of Great Britain through out the Continent, so no other Colonies except Halifax, and Quebec, will send any thing for our support. The attack of Bunker’s Hill on the 17th June does great honour to the valor of our Troops, but cost us dear, and must be a caution to us how we attack the Enemy in their strong holds. However, that assault was absolutely necessary to the maintaining ourselves in this place.
Most of the inhabitants of Boston are removed, or are going out of it to other parts to avoid the impending calamities. The Town has already been very sickly, both amongst the Army and the people, and it is very lamentable to be witness to so much distress which you cannot relieve, and to see your Children and friends languishing for fresh provision, and the comfortable accommodations they have been accustomed to. But the present evils appear light in comparison to what must be apprehended in the course of Winter, if we are not powerfully supported and relieved from home. However, we live in hopes that Great Britain will exert itself, and that we shall have a large reinforcement of troops and supplys of provision and fuel from Europe before the Winter.
The Rebels have provided themselves with some hundreds of Whale Boats from the Island of Nantucket, which row with prodigious swiftness; in these they make descents on the Islands in the harbour, in sight of the Men of War; and they have been very audacious in these attempts. A little while ago they burnt the Light House, and some nights after landed there again, burnt the dwelling house, killed an Officer of Marines that was stationed there, and made his party prisoners.
We are exposed to frequent alarms, and are sometimes awaked at Midnight with furious cannonadings, and scarce a day passes without an exchange of musketry from some of the advanced posts.
The several Towns have sent Representatives to a Provincial Assembly, and those Representatives have chosen a Council, who have taken upon them the Government of the Province, but they have not appointed a Governour.
The proceedings of the Continental Congress appear as the effusions of wild fanatics. Their schemes will involve the Continent in ruin, but can never be carryed into effect. They talk of forming the United Colonies into a Mighty Empire, of establishing a Continental Revenue, maintaining a standing Army of 27,000, disciplining the whole people, raising a naval power, providing for an extensive Commerce, opening their Ports to all Nations. Surely they have forgot that they reckon without their Host, and will be made to feel the chastisement, due to their insolence. I am sorry that England should have given birth to one of their chief Generals.
Boston 11 October 17751
I wrote to you between the 20th September and this day, and gave my letter to Mr. Fluker, under cover to Mr. Samuel Horne. Mr. F. went along with General Gage, and Mr. Burch’s family sailed the same time, in another ship for London. Just as they embarked, Col. D[alrymple] landed from England. That day an express arrived from Quebec with very alarming accounts of the invasion of Canada by the Rebels under General Schyler.
I attended yesterday as Bearer to L[ady] P[epperell]. Never was a young person more generally or deservedly lamented. Poor Sir William; he is quite inconsolable! And we all grieve and lament. Oh! It is a great breach on our society. But alas! We are so much roused to attend to our present support, and safety, that we cannot have leisure to reflect on other calamities. Our supplies of provision are scanty and uncertain, and we dread the approach of Winter. No one is provided with fuel or victual. Yet in the midst of our distresses, some of the young and gay are preparing for the Winter’s amusement. And it is said a Tragedy is in rehearsal.
October 18th. Last night at 9 o’clock we were amused with a cannonading for about an hour. We thought it had been from the Charles town side, but it proved to be the Rebels exercising their armed Gondaloes, which came down from Cambridge river and fired at the tents in the Common. Happily, they did no mischief but to themselves, for one of their Guns burst, overset, or blew up the Boat and several of them were said to be killed or wounded. Mr. L. is come back from Halifax, and is going to Newport to look after his family.
October 23d. Yesterday we received Accounts that the Rebels at St. Johns in Canada had met with a severe check from the Regulars and Indians, that 1000 of them were killed and wounded.
October 25th. For two nights past the Troops have been under Arms in expectation of an attack from the Rebels. It is said that Dr. F[ranklin] and a Deputy from the Congress are come to Cambridge, to urge on the Rebels to an immediate attempt upon Boston.
We have had a great deal of rain, and it is very severe on the soldiers to be still in camp, but the Rebels feel the hardship of the season more severely; they are without proper clothing, and it is thought they will not long be kept together. Several Deserters are come in, and many are got in of late who have been amongst the Rebels, and we have various Accounts of the cruel treatment that the Tories in the Country have met with. Mr. Edward Brinley’s Wife at Roxbury, whilst laying in, had a guard of the Rebels always in her room, who treated her with great rudeness, and indecency, exposing her to the view of all their crew, as a sight to see, a tory Woman! and stripped her and her children of all their Linen and clothes. Mr. B. is in Chief Justice Oliver’s house at Middlebro, but his Daughter in law, who lived in it, was turned out, and all his cattle and stock have been sold. Mrs. Thomas at Marshfield has people living in her house on her substance, who never suffer her to speak to any one, or go abroad without them.
Captain Wallace has commenced hostilities on the Rhode Island side. We sent our schooner there to get provision. Unluckily, she arrived in the midst of the fray. About 1000 people from the Continent had got over, and were possessed of the heights about Newport, in order to prevent all supplies being sent them. Poor Mr. Dudley fled from his house.2 Captain Wallace sent them word [that] if they entered the Town he would lay it in Ashes. He had before fired upon Bristol, and all the coast are terrified, knowing what a Man he is. We hear the Rebels have a great number of large Boats ready at Cambridge and Watertown, that a few nights ago they had 7000 Men drawn out to embark in them for an attack on Boston, that General Lee commanded them, but that they could not settle who should go first, and so it passed off.
October 29th. About three weeks ago Captain Mourt and Lieutenant Dawson went down with some troops on an expedition to the Eastward. This day we hear that they have burn Falmouth in Casco bay.
By advice this day from Kennebeck we hear that the Committee there had sentenced a Man to be buried alive for wishing success to the King’s troops, and that the sentence has been executed upon him. By a Deserter come in this morning it is said notice is brought that the Town is to be attacked this night in three places.
November 3. The General, by Proclamation, recommended an association of the inhabitants for maintainance of order within the Town, and between 4 and 500 have subscribed. What measures will be taken with those who don’t subscribe, we do not yet know.
Poor Sir W. P. spent an hour or two with us the other Morning; he has a great attachment to us and our family, and seems fond to unbosom himself to us. Grief preys much upon him, and I fear he will hardly overcome his affliction; indeed, he seems rather desirous of dying, nor can be roused to wish for life, though the interest of his children so much depend upon it. “The ways of heaven are Dark and intricate”3 that such heavy afflictions should befall so virtuous a character; for I never met with a man of a fairer mind, less corrupted by the World, or possessed of a more benevolent heart.
Notwithstanding all the threats and allarms of the Rebels, they have as yet made no attack on the town. But the Troops undergo a great deal of watching, and fatigue; several Redoubts are casting up about the Common, and we expect soon to have some large sea Mortars mounted that will reach to Cambridge. The Rebels have built many large Barracks round the Bay, and some are building on Bunker’s hill for the Army. All the Houses near the water side round the town will be occupied by the Troops, and many old houses are now pulling down by the soldiers for fuel. Great is the want of that article, and of forage. What think you of ten Dollars for a cord of Wood, four Dollars a hundred for Hay, and two Dollars for a Goose? But the light horse Gentlemen give any price.
It is said that Doctor [Benjamin] Church is under confinement by the Rebels on suspicion of having corresponded with General Gage, and that parties run high among them whether he shall be hanged, or not.4
November 10th. Some Vessels are now got in with Troops and Stores from England, and Ireland. Last night it blew very violently at NE with rain. Many ships were seen in the bay in the afternoon; they prove to be a fleet of transports from the Eastward, loaded with wood.
Yesterday a party of Light Infantry landed on Phips’s Farm and brought off a number of Cattle, without the loss of a man. A great number of the Rebels came down as they reimbarked, but were dispersed, and many of them supposed to be killed by the fire from the Man of War and Batteries at Charlestown.
November 13th. Blows hard at NW, which keeps out the ships from Europe, many of which must now be on the Coast, and for whose arrival we are very anxious, as every one is in want of fuel and provision. We have been deluged with rain, and now it is a frost and very cold, yet the poor Soldiers are still in their tents without straw. Surely there will be subscriptions at home and donations sent out of many comforts and necessaries for them. What will become of the inhabitants, the Women and Children through this dreary Winter, I know not, but the prospect is gloomy. General Lee has wrote to an Officer, adviseing him to come over to them, for that they have got the Army in a net, and shall soon drive them into the sea, or put them to the sword. But he is considered as a wicked madman, and the Troops are in such spirits that when the reinforcements arrive, they hope to drive the Rebels from this neighbourhood.
November 16th. Yesterday we were greatly distressed with a report that the Minerva was lost on Scilly Island and all the people but 11 had perished, but it now appears there was no authority for the report.
November 25th. Several Vessels are got in from Nova Scotia with Hay, and the Phenix Man of War has been arrived from England for a Week past, but most of her Convoy are still out, and we are very anxious for the arrival of a Brig that came out with her, with Ordnance stores of great consequence, as several Vessels have lately been taken in the Bay.
The Rebels have thrown up some new Works near to Charlestown, where the Light Infantry landed, which occasions the troops’ fresh labour to erect a battery to oppose them.
November 26th. Several ships got in yesterday evening, but the weather is very tempestuous. Between 4 and 500 of the town people were sent off two days ago, and landed at Point Shirley. The Country people, it is said, will not receive them till they have been thoroughly smoaked, dreading the small pox.5 About 4000 Inhabitants and refugees now remain in the town.
Mr. Hallowell went down to the Light house to assist in putting up a new Light. An Armed Transport went down to protect the workmen and it is now lighted again, and 40 or 50 Soldiers are shut up in it. A Rebel schooner took a Brig near to the Light house two days ago. The Transport cut her cable and chased them, when the Rebels left the prize and escaped, but first set her on fire, which was extinguished by a boy of the crew that had hid himself on board. Several Men of War have been sent in search of the Ordnance Brig. They have spoke with her off the Capes, but been seperated from her by the violent winds, and are returned with loss of sails &c., and she is still out.
November 29th. Having read this letter to Mrs. H., she would by no means have me send it, as she hates to write any thing that only serves to make others unhappy. And says there is nothing in it to give you pleasure, and that I make the worst of our situation. So pray, be not over[-]anxious and distressed about us, for we hope to rub through the Winter tolerably well. We want only a few Chaldron of Coals, a few tidbits [of] Beef, pork, pease and potatoes, which I hope we shall be supply’d with by arrivals within a Week or ten days. Mr. Nicholson has sent me a fine Cheshire cheese. I wish I had ordered some potatoes from Liverpool, but have got a few bushels out of one of the Liverpool Vessels, at 8/sterling per bushel.
I am much obliged to you for your favour of2 and am much concerned you should have so much trouble in our affairs.
I had the pleasure to write you in August by my sister, who fled in a ship for Bristol, with many other passengers from the impending calamities. And I hope you will hear from her on the subject of the matters in your Letter.
We are still in the situation we have been in for several months past, environed by the Rebels, and under difficulties in regard to our subsistance. The troops have undergone great fatigue and hardships; and many of them are still encamped on Bunker’s hill, though the weather has been and continues very severe. We have been deluged with rain and it is now a hard frost, and every kind of provision, forage and fuel is very scarce and dear. However, we hope for supplies of all kinds from Europe, and that we shall yet have considerable reinforcements of troops this fall. And I trust the operations in the spring will be so extensive, powerful, and vigorous, as to bring the War to a speedy issue.
In the mean time, we undergo many difficulties, but we have rub[b]ed on pretty well through all our alarms and troubles, and I thank God all my family are in pretty good health and spirits. Mine has been a life of toil and persecution in this service, and I have been subjected to many heavy expences, and considerable loss of property, yet no one is more desirous of repose, or would cultivate peace more than myself. But it has been my lot to combat, and suffer, and though I hope in the course of another year that these people will be reduced to obedience, yet the comforts of tranquility and social intercourse, cannot be expected. The temper and disposition of the Americans will hardly be reconciled to the authority they may with reluctance be brought to acknowledge; and it must be very unpleasing to a humane mind to see the necessary exertions of power that must be employed, to reduce the refractory to obedience, and to dwell in a country suffering under the calamities of War. But we must submit to our fate, and make the best of circumstances that befall us; and if we cannot reproach ourselves that the evils we suffer arise from any misconduct of our own, we can bear them with greater fortitude, and draw consolation from right principles.
30 November 17751
I had the pleasure to receive your letter to my sister of the 1st August, a few days ago, under cover of one from Miss T. You will no doubt have heard from my sister from Bristol, for which place she Embarked with many other passengers in August, who fled from our impending calamities. I had the pleasure of a letter from you by Mr. Totty and should sooner have written in return, could I have communicated any thing agreeable in regard to the circumstances of Cozin J.2 or our own. His situation is in a small Island and in a confined society, but whatever inconvenience may attend it, his lot at this time is better than that of any Officer on the Continent. You will have been sufficiently informed of the events that have befallen us; we have still greater evils to apprehend, for it is impossible in our situation not to anticipate all the calamities of War. When I consider the hardships and fatigues the soldiers endure, the miseries of many people, and the general distress of every family, I almost forget my own misfortunes, and have great reason to be thankful that all my family yet enjoy so much health and so many comforts. Indeed, I am happy in a companion who possesses uncommon fortitude, and who never repines, or sinks under any difficulties that we are to encounter. And my four boys enjoy good health and contribute greatly to our amusement and pleasure. Your favorite name, Edward, is given in my family to my third son, who is a fine sprightly boy. They are all now under inoculation. But these connections, the sources of our comforts, are likewise the cause of a great deal of anxiety, especially under every alarm and difficulty, many of which we have undergone, and must still expect to experience.
These times call forth many characters into action, and they of distinguished abilities make their Virtues, or crimes, conspicuous—Here are two Gentlemen of our Country, the one the object of admiration, the other of abhorrence; the one does honour to his rank, to his country, to human nature; and is truly an illustrious character; the other from pride, disappointed ambition, and a corrupt heart, is involved in the guilt of rebellion, and is prostituting distinguished talents, by leading on a deluded people to their destruction. Such are Lord P[ercy] and Mr. [Charles]Lee.
We are very happy in the society of Mr.3 when he is ashore, which is but seldom. He is now a Lieutenant and much respected as a sensible, well[-]behaved Man.
Chester 17 January 17761
I have Dear Mrs Lightbody’s agreable favor of Yesterday’s date, and the pleasure to hear that you and your family enjoy health. Pray, accept my sincere good wishes for the continuance of your domestic happiness, and my best thanks for your Kind invitation, Be assured, it would make me happy to Meet you, my Dear friend, anywhere, and to talk over past scenes and events, provided the present gloomy scene was dispelled. I suppose you have heard that Mr. Tylston talks of going up to London with Miss Lem towards the end of next Month. They have almost perswaded your Sister and I to be of the party, This is not determined on, but if I don’t accompany them I am engaged to go to Mrs Hignet’s, when Mrs T. leaves Chester.
The uncertain and anxious state I am in on account of my Dear friends and Connections in America admits not of spirits to think of Journeys of pleasure, or to write long letters, though I have much to say; indeed, the constant daily engagements we have here allows me not leisure hardly to write to my Brother. By the latest Accounts from Boston, the Town was still invironed by the Enemy, who were urged to make a general attack upon it (by a deputation from the Congress). They had often threatened it and made some efforts. They had a great number of large boats, and one night the latter end of October, 7000 men were drawn out to embark in them. General Lee had harangued them, but they could not agree who should go first on the desperate attempt.
The greatest Mischief they did was to themselves, for one of their Guns burst overset or blew up the boat, with all the people in it. They are numerous but in a wretched condition, in Rags, dirt, and vermin, with consequent distempers, which were spread through all the Towns and it’s said 1200 of the fugitives out of Boston were dead since the Siege.
The King’s Troops endured great fatigues yet were in good spirits, and hoped to drive the Rebels.
Provisions and fuel were scarse and very dear, supplies uncertain. Heavy rains, Tempestuous weather, and the Winter set in very severe. Some vessils with Troops and Stores arrived; more seen off in the Bay, but kept out by contrary winds and it was to be feared some Provision Ships had been taken by the Provincials.
In this dreary situation are my Dear friends in Boston. Judge, then, what I feel. And there are other aggravating circumstances. Whilst they are looking out for present support for themselves and their little ones, they grieve and lament for the Loss of a most amiable woman, Lady Pepperril. A great breach it is in their Society, and proves an almost unsupportable Affliction to Sir William, left with four small Children. My Brother says, “the ways of Heaven are dark and intricate.” That such heavy affliction should befall so virtuous a Character! For he never met a man of a fairer mind, more uncorrupted by the world, or possessed of a more benevolent heart. They had been greatly distressed, too, with a report that the Vessil in which I and fifty passengers sailed for England was lost on one of the Scilly Islands, and that all the crew but eleven perished. They had no way of being satisfied to the contrary, but on Enquiry there appeared no Authority for the report. It was supposed to have arisen from some wicked people, to distress those who had friends on board the Ship.
Amidst all these alarms, dangers, and distresses, the Small pox spread Universaly, which Obliged them to innoculate the Children. Dear little creatures, God preserve them; support their Parents in this day of trial, grant relief to their anxious cares, and deliverance from the impending calamities.
My Brother says that Ships to Boston laden with Provision might make a prodigious Voyage of it. The articles they want are Beef, Pork, pease, and Potatoes, Coals, and Oates &c. He bought a few bushels of Potatoes out of a Liverpool Ship at 8/Sterling a Bushil. Beef sold at 16d and 18d a pound, and a Goose at 10/Sterling. I mention this, desiring you will please to make it known, probably some Merchants may send out Cargos from Liverpool the sooner this Spring the better. Insurance will be but the same as in Time of War.
I wish to hear when any Vessil goes. I would send out several Articles on freight, if I could.
I wrote to Mr R. Nicholson on this matter, and he was so obliging to answer me immediately, promising to let me know further. Please to acquaint him and other gentlemen what things are wanted at Boston, and they promote the sending of ‘em out to the great Advantage of the Owners.
My Brother received your favor to me, wrote at Warrington, August 23, for which I can only return my thanks, being a stranger to the contents of it, but I doubt not it gave him some pleasure. Pray, did you ever receive My Letters wrote in March and in April last?
I am sorry to hear you have so much trouble with my Shoe maker. I shall be glad to have the shoes when they are done, but not to give you trouble about ‘em. Please let me Know how to direct to him.
Mr G: Colquit’s being driven back is a disagreeable circumstance. So many of your friends will be writing to you, that I shall not pretend to send you any news from hence at present, but beg my best respects to Mr. and Miss Lightbody, and to Mr. & and Mrs. R. Nicholson, and an interest in your prayers for our friends at a distance, and your Affectionate friend and Humble Servant,
Boston 22 January 17761
I received your favour of the 5th September on the 27 November, and am much obliged to you for your kind present of a Cheshire Cheese, which was very acceptable, for every kind of provision and fuel has been very scarse and dear. Though we have had reports that a number of Ships were coming out with supplies for this place, yet few have arrived and the Army has been obliged to pull down a great many houses for fuel, Hay has been sold at a Guinea the hundred, Beef at 16 and 18 Sterling by the Quarter, and turkies for 3 and 4 dollars each; however, we have rubbed on thus far pretty tolerably, and as a considerable quantity of Coals are lately arrived for the Army, and we are in expectation of great quantities of necessaries of all sorts arriving soon, we keep up our spirits and do not fear being starved; and, as to the Rebels, we are under little apprehension from them — We have certainly undergone a good deal of anxiety and to be sure our situation is far from being agreeable, but we must submit to our lot and bear up as well as we can under unavoidable circumstances. And I am happy in a partner that possesses great fortitude under all our difficulties and distresses; indeed, it would be a strange thing for us to live in a state of peace and quietness, free from apprehensions and allarms. However, we have peace within ourselves and under our own roof, while all around us is hostile filled with the din of Arms and dreadful note of preparation.
I did not receive your two favours of the 26 September and 2nd October till the 16 instant. I am much obliged to you for the little book of moral tales by Dr. Percival,2 which I have begun to read to the Children. The Doctor sent me his books of Medical Essays, which I lent to an able Physician of my acquaintance, who speaks much in their favour and holds the Doctor in high consideration, and I have great respect for Dr. Percival’s Character.
I made application in behalf of the Ship commanded by Captain Robinson, agreeably to your request; so did Mr. Coffin and I believe there will be no difficulty in getting her employed in the King’s service.
I am obliged to you in paying respect to my recommendation of Mr. John Coffin, and his Father is sensible to the notice you have taken of him.
I imagine every one is now convinced of the intentions of the Americans, of which we on this side the Water had long been persuaded and could not but lament to see a man in the confidence and service of the Government, deceiving Administration, working himself into the favor of Men of Science by his Philosophy and deluding well disposed people at home, whilst he was fomenting the flames of rebellion in America.
This arch-traitor! This most atrocious of Men is Dr. Franklin! The only question now seems to be, whether it is more advisable to transport the Scepter of Empire to the Delaware, than to retain it on the Thames? And I hope there is no old Briton can hesitate at the question.
This town is now deserted by most of its inhabitants, friends as well as Rebels; however, we have plays acted by the Officers, and Assemblies and Concerts are just set a going—but I imagine our Winter Quarter amusements will not be of long continuance; for we expect an early, vigorous, extensive, and decisive Campaign. The Winter began very boisterously, but it seems to soften away, and is likely to go off soon without a severe frost.
The only cheap thing here is house-rent and the dwellers therein are frequently changing. Many people are glad to get a family into their house with the furniture standing whilst they flee from fear or to join the Rebels.
I am going to remove to my friend’s Sir William Pepperill’s house, that has a large garden and pasture adjoining, so that we hope to have all kinds of vegetables, and food for our Cow within ourselves during the Summer, which are great objects in our situation.
I was much concerned to see the account you sent me of my friend Mr C[ropper], pray how is my old friend Mr Bassnett? My best respects await all your family friends.
I imagine you will have heard of my Sister, who went from hence in August last. I had a letter from her of 25 September at Bristol, which is the only one yet come to hand. Mrs. H. desires her best respects to Mrs N. and Mrs B., with congratulations to the latter on the birth of her Son.
I am with great regard, Dear Sir, your most obedient Servant.
24 January 17761
When we lived at Brooklyn we were happy in our neighbourhood to Sir William. And Lady Pepperrill, and their society contributed very much to render our situation agreeable to us. The circumstances of the times at length drove both our families for shelter to Boston, and in our common sufferings we were greatly comforted and solaced by each others society and friendship. Indeed, the continuance of such connections would have rendered any circumstances supportable, for never were two persons better formed for all the Offices of social affection and intercourse, but alass! We were deprived of one of these amiable friends by death a few months ago, and the other has hitherto only brooded over his sorrow, and wasted his hours in unavailing grief. His friends wished him to change the scene and to divert his melancholy by new objects, remote from the din of Arms. But dreading the severity of a Winter’s passage, they were desirous he should stay till the spring, before he undertook the Voyage. However, as he remains still without consolation, and his health is greatly impaired, we are now anxious he should go home,2 as soon as possible, and he embarks by this opportunity for London, with four little children.
There is no person whose society we should more wish to retain than Sir William Pepperrill, and therefore nothing could make us submit to the loss of it, but the consideration of his health and interest. When you know him, I am sure you will esteem him as a Gentleman possessed of the fairest mind and most uncorrupted heart. To alleviate the sorrows of so worthy a character, I am sure will give you great satisfaction, and I have assured him of your kind offices of friendship, adapted to his feelings and situation; and may we beg that the Ladies of your family will assist him with their advice, in the best manner of placing his daughters in a train of education.
Chester 22 February 17761
I have wanted to hear good news from Boston to write to Dear Mrs Lightbody in better spirits, and not so gloomy a Letter as I wrote you before.
Last Sunday I received one from my Brother, but have been so much engaged since, that had not an opportunity of writing till now. The Arrival of several Transports with provision and forage, and a new Admiral2 to the command of the fleet at Boston, was a very seasonable relief, and my Brother seems to write in good spirits, though, at the best, their situation to us must appear very disagreable and even terrible, yet I rejoice that his children are all recovered from the Small pox, and that they had rubbed so far through this dreadful Winter.
He writes by way of Journal, the last Letter beginning the 2d December and concluding the 15th January, so that it contains a good deal of what we have heard by newspapers before. The poor Soldiers endured great hardships and fatigues, deluged with rain, then chilled with frost whilst they were in their Tents without Straw. Surely (says he) there will be subscriptions at home and donations sent out of many comforts and necessaries for them.
When they were at the greatest extremities for want of supplies, General Lee wrote to an Officer, advising him to come over to them, for that they had got the Army in a net, and should soon drive them into the Sea or put them to ye Sword.
This wicked Madman (for he is looked upon in that light by those who know him in Chester, as well as in Boston) went with 1200 Men to Rhode Island and carried away all the Officers of the Crown that would not take the shocking Oath he imposes.
The Rebels made a demand on the Collector at Rhode Island of the King’s Money, upon which he had fled on board the Rose, Man of War. They then seized on his house and effects, and turned his Wife out of doors. It is said (since this) that General Lee is gone to Canada. The cruelties which are exercised on all those who are in their power is shocking. By advice frm Kennebec, the Committee there had sentenced a Man to be buried alive for wishing success to the King’s Troops, and that the sentence had been executed upon him. At Roxbury Mr Edward Brinley’s wife, whilst laying in, had a guard of Rebels always in her room, who treated her with great rudeness and indecency, exposing her to the view of their banditti, as a sight “See a tory woman,” and stripd her and her Children of all their Linnen and Cloths.
On the 18th December the Rebels exercised their Artillery upon Boston; a 24 pound shot fell into the Garden of the House occupied by Lord Percy. During that Night and the next day there was a great discharge of Shells from Mortars against the Rebels in the opposite works, which silenced them.
When the Letter concluded, they seemed to be under little apprehension from the Enemy, if they could but get fuel and Victuals. What had been imported sold at an extravagant price. All the old houses and a number of wharves were pulling down to consume. The Rebel privateers were laid up; several of them had been taken, and it is to be hoped there will hereafter be better protection afforded the King’s Ships to those of his Subjects. Admiral Shuldam is arrived at Boston.
I wrote to Mr R. Nicholson by the Carrier on Monday and sent two parcels, to be forwarded in a Cask with other things to my Brother by the Ship for Boston. He desired particularly some Cobled Coals, if they could be sent, and I doubt not Mr. N. will if he can — I shall have Money to remit him (Mr N.) and I will desire him to pay you what you have paid for my Shoes, &c. I desired Miss Lem to mention My recieving ‘em some time ago.
We have just been drinking tea at your Sister’s She’s well, desires her love, as does Mrs. Tylston.
This day poor Miss Griffith’s remains was brought to Chester from Bristol to be interred here.
This Morning Dr. Weaver and Mrs. Richardson were married —a wedding much the Subject of conversation — With best Compliments to Mr. and Miss L.
I am, Dear Mrs Lightbody’s Affectionate friend, &c.
[Henry Hulton to Samuel Esqr.]
Boston 9 March 17761
The distress and anxiety of mind we have been under for a week past are not to be expressed, and we are still surrounded with difficulties and dangers. This place is now going to be evacuated by the Army, and every one is urgent and anxious to get on board the Transport assigned him. The Commissioners and their Officers are to embark on the Hellespont, Captain Leicester, and we expect the fleet will proceed to Halifax and, if it pleases God that arrive safe there, I shall write more particularly by the first opportunity. In the mean time you may be informed in what circumstances we shall have been left by some of the passengers who are going from hence in the Packet, and who will probably be heard of at the New England Coffee house.
March 17th. On board the Hellespont, Nantasket Road, Boston Harbour.
We embarked the 10th in a great hurry, and fell down here the 12th, greatly crowded and in want of seamen, and many accommodations; but we are to have some seamen from the Admiral, and the Carpenters are fitting up berths for the passengers, and I trust in God we shall be preserved and get safe to Halifax, where it is said we are to proceed. From thence I imagine we shall take the first good opportunity to embark for England. You will therefore please not to send anything for me to this Country, if not already sent, till you hear further from me. My family are as well as can be expected in our situation.
Journal at Boston. Saturday December 2nd 17751
This Evening the Tragedy of “Zara” was performed at Faneiul Hall by young Gentlemen of the Army and Ladies, to a numerous audience, with great applause.
December 3. Very alarming advices of the 8th November are received from Quebec that St. Johns is taken by the Rebels, and revolted Canadians, that General Carleton had abandoned Montreal and was going down the River from thence to Quebec, that 1500 Rebels under Arnold were advanced to point Levy by the way of Kennebec, and the Rebels from St. Johns were coming on. At the same time, only a few hundred of British and Canadian subjects were at Quebec in Arms to defend the place, which it was apprehended would fall into the hands of the Rebels, though the Lizard Man of War was arrived from England a few days before. General Carleton applied to General Gage for a reinforcement of troops by express, which arrived at Boston October 8, the day General Gage embarked for England. It was at first proposed to send a Battalion of Marines, but afterwards, on account of the advanced season—fearing the ships could not get up to Quebec, it was laid aside. Had the Troops gone at that time, they most probably would have arrived in time to have defeated Arnold’s party, and have saved the place.
By Accounts this day from Rhode Island, every thing there was in the utmost confusion. The Rebels had a number of troops on the Island, and had made a demand on the Collector of the King’s money in his hands, upon which the Collector fled on board the Rose Man of War; they then seized on his house and effects, and turned his Wife and family out of doors. A squadron of three ships of 36, 24 and 20 Guns are said to be fiting out at Philadephia, with the intention to attack Captain Wallace in the Rose Man of War at Newport.
The Assembly of Rhode Island have passed an act to punish with death any one who shall supply or correspond with his Majesty’s fleet or Army. And the Rebel Council of Massachusetts have passed an act to encourage the fitting out of Vessels of War, and to establish Courts of Admiralty within the province.
The Brig with Ordnance stores which has been in the Bay for some time past, but kept out by contrary winds, has been twice spoke with by Men of War, and brought in company with them, in sight of the Light house, and yet drove out again, and separated from the King’s ship, and is now said to be taken by the Rebels. There are a Mortar, shells, fire Arms &c. on board, which we are now to apprehend will be used against us. And the Rebels keep continually advancing their works nearer to us.
There was a report last night that a large fleet was in the Bay, but nothing appears of them, and what with all this bad news, and hard[-]hearted Winds, we are much alarmed and distressed. If the ships with troops, fuel and Stores should be drove off the Coast, we shall be in a sad situation. Starved and Bombarded. What great events depend on little causes. The want of a Regiment at Quebec may lose that province, and the Ordnance brig falling into the hands of the Rebels may distress us greatly, cause the loss of a great number of Men, and be the means of lengthening out the Rebellion.
December 5th. The Boyne Man of War sailed for England, with General Burgoine on board. The 65 Regiment are to go to Halifax to secure that place against an attack from the Rebels, and the Somersett Man of War, now there, and the Asia, at New York, both of the Line, which were to have gone home, are now detained to remain in America.
Several ships have been lately taken in this Bay by the Rebels, in small sloops, and schooners, which watch for single Vessels in Creeks and harbours, and come upon them suddenly. It is now found that Cape Cod is a good and safe harbour, where a ship of War is to be stationed to receive inward bound Vessels under her protection, and small schooners are to cruize for and Convoy Vessels coming in to that Harbour.
December 7. A Rebel Brig Privateer was sent in taken by the Fowey, Captain Montagu. She had 10 Guns and 75 Men on board, and many of the crew are European subjects. Her Colours were a pine tree on a white ground, and the Captain’s Commission was signed by John Hancock, President of the Provincial Congress.
December 16. The Tartar Man of War, Captain Meadows, sailed for England with the crew of the Rebel brig on board, and the 65 Regiment sailed for Halifax.
A number of Wharfs and houses are now taking down by the soldiers, by the General’s order, for fire wood; it is said 500 houses are to be pulled down.
Several Vessels from Halifax got in this evening with forage &c.—Advice is received from Halifax that the 2nd Regiment is got in there from Europe, and that two Regiments are gone from Ireland for Quebec.
December 17. The ships that sailed yesterday morning are come to at Nantasket, the wind being contrary, and it is said the 65 Regiment is countermanded.
Accounts are received from Rhode Island that Captain Wallace has landed some Marines and Sailors on Conohassett, his boats having been insulted by the people on shore, who fired on them, and killed one of his men; that he had burnt thirty houses, and killed some of the Country people.
December 19. The Rebels are extending their works on Phips’s Farm, near the Water side, opposite to Barton’s point. On Sunday they fired a shot that entered the Scarborough Man of War, lying off Barton’s point, and she is removed lower down.
Yesterday one of their 24 pound shot fell into the Garden near the house of Mr. William Vassals, now occupied by Lord Percy. During the night and this day, there has been a great discharge of shells from Mortars erected at Barton’s point, against the Rebels in the opposite works.
December 30. Admiral Shuldam in the Chatham and the Niger, Captain Talbot, arrived at Nantasket. Two store ships, two Transports with 12 Companys of the 17 and 55 Regiments, and an ordnance brig came in from Europe after long passages.
1776. January 5. The Scarborough, Captain Barclay, with several armed ships and 2 or 300 Marines, sailrd on an Expedition.
January 8th. This Evening after the Play, the farce called “The Blockade of Boston” was to have been acted, but at ½ past 8 o’clock, just as the farce was to begin, the Alarm Guns were fired, and all the Officers run out of the house to their posts. Immediately the remaining houses at Charlestown were in flames, and a brisk platoon firing, with the discharge of Cannon, was heard from the Redoubt on the heights above Charlestown: so that we imagined the Rebels were attacking the Redoubt. But the whole proved to be a party of the Rebels, that had come over the Mill dam, where they surprised 3 or 4 People in one of the Houses below, having had notice by a deserter the night before how these houses were occupied. The Rebels carried away the people, set fire to the houses and ran off, upon which some of the Soldiers began firing and occasioned the continuance of it for some time, before they found they had no Enemy to fire at, which occasioned a great shouting throughout the Rebel Army, and they have certainly in this affair got the laugh against us.
By advises received from Virginia, Lord Dunmore has published a Proclamation, requiring all his Majesty’s subjects able to bear Arms to repair to his standard, and has liberated all the slaves and white servants belonging to Rebels.
General Clinton is going to Embark to take the command of an Army to the southward, supposed to be for Virginia—Mr. Reeve is going his secretary. It is imagined that a number of foreign troops are on the sea for the southern part of this continent.
Several Vessels have arrived lately with fresh Meat and other victuals, which have sold at an extravagant rate. Some Coals have carried, but they are confined to the use of the Army. However, as we have rubbed on thus far we hope to get through the Winter without being starved, or burnt down. There has been no cannonading of late, and if we can get fuel and Victual, we seem to be under little apprehension from the Enemy. The weather has been very changeable, and we have had a great deal of high winds and rain, some severe cold and frost, but frequent thaws.
General Lee with 1200 Men from the Rebel Army has been at Rhode Island and carried off the Deputy Collector and Searcher, they not taking a shocking Oath which he would have imposed upon them. The Comptroller was frightened and compelled to take it. Several of the Meetings2 are now occupied as Barracks &c. for the use of the Army.
Two Privateers have been at the Island of St. Johns and carried off Mr. Calleck and some other inhabitants with their effects, and sent them to Cambridge, but General W[ashington] released and suffered them to home again.
February 13. Admiral Graves sailed from Boston in the Preston. Several Companys of Grenadiers and Lt. Infantry under the Command of Major Musgrave went over the Ice to Dorchester neck at four in the Morning; at the same time, Colonel Leslie, with a party from the Castle, landed at the other end of the Neck, and the troops burnt all the houses, and returned without any loss, bringing off about 10 prisoners. A Captain’s Guard with about 60 men made their escape.
February 29. The Rebels have been very busy for several days past in their works at Phips’s Farm, and a new battery is preparing against them under Mount Whoredom. They are daily expected to begin to play on the town from their Cannon and Mortars.
March 2. At ½ past 11 o’clock at night the Rebels began to play on the town with Cannon and Shells from Phips’s Farm and Roxbury. Their shot were much elevated, and struck houses in many parts, but did little damage; the firing continued til day break.
March 3d. At night the Cannonading repeated. Brought down our beds from the upper rooms, and laid them on the parlour floors.
March 4th. At ½ past 7 in the evening a most heavy Cannonading began from all sides on the Rebels, and continued without intermission till day break. The 5th, in the Morning, the Rebels were found to have possessed themselves of the heights on Dorchester neck that commanded the town, and many thousands of them were seen very busily employed in throwing up a breast work. All the Country are said to have been called in, and that 30,000 Men are now actually in the works round the Town.
At noon, about 3000 troops were embarked, supposed to attack the new Lines forming on Dorchester Neck. Great is our anxiety for the success of this expedition, which may probably determine our fate. In the afternoon it blows very hard; the troops cannot land; the Rebels are strengthening themselves all the while; whilst the ships with the Soldiers are obliged to come to anchor, and some of them get on shore in the Gale of Wind. Our anxiety and distress increases. At night the Rebels keep us alarmed with firing on the town, and wounded some of the soldiers in the Barracks. The 6th, in the Morning, it is said that the General has given orders to desist from the attempt on Dorchester neck, and that the Troops are to come back, and the Town is to be evacuated. The orders are soon confirmed and a new scene of General distress and confusion begins. Now every one is to look out for a transport to embark in, for fly we must from the town immediately. Houses are left and furniture neglected; where shall we go? All rush to be accommodated, yet there are not half ships enough to carry away the people and stores that are to be shipt off. It is said that the want of Provision is the cause of the Army abandoning the Town. Lamentable is the sight of distress, and confusion! At night we are under fresh apprehension of a cannonading from the Rebels, who are supposed to be erecting batteries to play on the ships to prevent their going out of the harbour.
March 7 and 8. All hurry and bustle in the town, every one packing up and shipping off their Effects. The Commissioners have a loaded Victulour appointed by the Admiral to carry them, their families and Officers. The ship cannot take in their Goods, or be fit to receive them till unladen. Ship some of our effects in the Custom House schooner, and on board a sloop.
When it was known abroad that the General intended to evacuate the Town, some of the principal inhabitants wrote a letter to the General of the Rebel Army, intreating him to desist from Cannonading on the town, or incommoding the Troops in their Embarkation and departure, if he would wish to preserve the town from destruction, which they apprehended would be the consequence of a contrary conduct. The answer to this letter was that as it came from no authority, he should pay no regard to it.
March 9th. Soon after dark the Rebels began a furious cannonading from several parts, which continued the whole of the night. At 11 o’clock went to bed. At Midnight was awaked by a speedy message from Mr. Dudley, acquainting me that Mr. H[allowell]’s family had been greatly alarmed by the Cannonading in their Neighbourhood, and that they were immediately embarking on board ship. Went to bed again.
March 10. At 3 in the morning a violent rapping at the door. Mr. W. called to acquaint us that the General had just given orders for all the transport ships to fall down at 12 at noon to Kingroad, and that we must lose no time in embarking. What accumulation of distress! A severe season! A pressing foe! Hundreds of people to be crammed on board each Vessel, without seamen to navigate them, or provision to support the passengers on the Voyage. Oh! the heart[-]racking pangs of every parent; the ruin of fortune; the shipwreck of property are not attended: go we must, and fly from the wrath of Man, unprovided against the rude elements, trusting only in an almighty protection for our deliverance. At five o’clock, before daylight, left our dwelling, carrying with us only our bed[d]ing and necessary linen, and leading our little ones in our hands, a mile through the town to Hutchinson’s Wharf. Thus like Aeneas from the Flames of Troy, bearing not my Sire, but an Infant in my Arms, and fled! And where. Alas! The Wharf was soon covered with fugitives, and their Effects, no boats were to be had, no seamen were in the ship. With the assistance of a Captain of Marines I got my family on board a lumbered Vessell, unprovided, unaccommodated for any Voyage.
The rest of the morning I employed in forwarding the papers of the Board, but was obliged to embark without them, though they were sent off the next day. Taking a last farewell of my dwelling, and shipwrecked substance, which I was obliged to abandon. I cast a look on my old faithful dog Argus; he seemed to know, and sympathize in my distress, and drew tears from my Eyes.
At 12 o’clock embarked on board the Hellespont, saw a number of my packages, with books, Looking Glasses, China, and other valuable furniture on the Wharf, which could not be taken off.
With difficulty we got under way, incommoded by a number of Vessels, crouded with people as anxious to depart as ourselves. For want of sailors, 12 Marines are lent to us, to get the Vessel down; we have only three Tidesmen, half seamen to assist us, and now are full of passengers without any accommodation for their Lodging &c. Come to Anchor abreast of the Town, the wind freshens, and we drive, get up the Anchor, and go near the Man of War. We see the Rebels very busy at Dorchester neck, and suppose they are erecting a battery, to incommode the ships going out. Lye down on the Cabbin floor. 36 Men, Women and Children in the Cabin, and state room.
March 11th. The marines are got to our liquors, and are most of them drunk, and very riotous. What distress! Hail a ship, the Captain a Lieutenant in the Navy, comes on board, takes off the drunken Marines with great difficulty, tumbles them pell mell into the boat. A horrid scene of noise, swearing, and blasting. Captain Collins in the Nautilus lends us four hands, to help us down. Get down to King road, come to Anchor.
March 12. The Chatham, with the Admiral on board, is near to us. Write to the Admiral. We are to go down to Nantasket, and then we are to be accommodated. Many ships are coming down as crouded and unprovided as ourselves—one of them runs foul of the Admiral’s Stern, and carrys away his poop Lanthorns, and Stern Galleys. Blows hard.
March 13th. Get down to Nantasket, and the Admiral sends a letter to Commodore Banks to assist us.
March 14th. Commodore Banks comes on board us in a small boat, not belonging to his ship Renown, says he has no seamen or boats on board, that they are all in town to assist the troops, can give us no assistance. Only lends us a Carpenter to make up Cabbins.
Mr. P[axton] goes on board the Admiral, sends a line at Night that when the Admiral comes down, we shall be accommodated. Blows hard.
March 15th. The Nautilus went out on a cruize, and has taken away the four seamen lent us. Many things necessary to be done for our accommodation, and fitting the ship for sea, which cannot be till we get seamen, and the ship is further discharged. rains hard.
March 16th. One Mr. Taylor, a Merchant of Boston and now a passenger on board one of the Transports outwards, went up the shrouds of the ship, and threw himself into the Sea and was lost; shocking instance of distress and despair! At Midnight a heavy Cannonading is heard between Dorchester neck and the Town, which continues till day light.
Sunday March 17. St. Patrick’s day. Fine Weather. The fireing last night was all from our side, to cover the embarkation of the Troops, who all got on board, before day, without any attempt from the Rebels to molest them, nor did they attempt to enter the town, till the evening after the retreat was compleated. This Morning the General went on board the Admiral’s ship at King road and Nantasket. There are about 700 of the Inhabitants of Boston, Refugees and civil officers in the fleet.
March 18. Fine Weather.
March 19. Blows fresh. The Savage Sloop and eight Transports arrive from Halifax.
March 20. Fine day. Cannonading at the Castle in the afternoon. At 9 at night the buildings at Castle William all in Flames. The Rebels had begun to fire from a battery at Dorchester neck this afternoon and a Cannon from the Castle that was fired against it burst on the second discharge, and killed three and wounded dangerously four others.
March 21. The Admiral in the Chatham came down to Nantasket with the General Officers on board, and several ships fell down with Troops from Kingroad. The Fowey Man of War, with about twenty sail get under way, being the first division of ships to proceed to Halifax, but the Wind being contrary, they came to Anchor again.
The Fowey is passing through the Fleet run foul of our ship, and distressed us for some time.
Still in want of seamen, and greatly incommoded with the lumber and discharge of our ship, which being a victualler, a number of orders are continually served upon her for a few Casks of provision for each Vessel. One family from on board of us is accommodated with a passage on board one of the Transports that came in two days ago.
March 22. Snow. fair.
March 23. Snow storm blows hard, very cold. Cabin Crowded, smokey and dirty.
March 24. Gale at NW. Continues very cold. Two ships drove ashore last night. Our Longboat drifted from us and lost.
March 25. Blows hard. Frost. Fowey sails with about 50 Vessels under Convoy. Moderate weather.
March 26. Snow storm. Very cold. Very busy discharging Provision, and taking in ballast, which the Admiral sends on board in flat[-]bottomed boats. The fleet to sail tomorrow.
March 27. All hurry and bustle on board, discharging provision. The Fleet to sail this afternoon. The Admiral sends more flat bottom boats on board with ballast for us. Get seamen from the Lively. Most of our baggage on board the Custom House schooner. The General sends to beg we will leave her to assist in discharging the Transport ship that is now aground. At 4 o’clock the fleet got under way. Order the Custom house schooner alongside us. All our baggage tossed upon Deck, and tumbled into the hold, whilst the Anchor is getting up. At 5 o’clock set sail. Between 60 and 70 ships under convoy of the Chatham, Centurion, and Lively Men of War. The Cabin and State room crammed with Women and Children, the Steerage filled with Gentlemen, and Women Servants passengers. Between Decks crouded with Men servants, and Negros, and the Quarter Deck loaded with Sheep, Pigs, and Poultry. Upwards of 70 People on board, and the fire place, and conveniences for cooking will not dress Victuals for more than thirty. Fair Wind, moderate Weather for two days, contrary winds for two days. very sick, dirty, and uncomfortable.
March 30th and April 1st. Rainy and tempestuous. Mrs. H. wet in her Cabin.
April 2d. Wind fair at noon. See Land in the afternoon, arrive at Halifax at 8 in the Evening.
April 3. Go on shore, the town crouded, no houses or Victuals to be got. Every one distressed and embarrassed. Luckily the Collector procures one small appartment, at his sister’s. Lay down ourselves and Children on the floor. No accommodations to be got for Mr. Hallowell’s family. They remain on board.
April 10th. Mr. H[allowell’]s family at length got into Quarters. Lodgings most extravagantly dear. And provision scarce. Many people who lived at their ease in Boston are now here without shelter or the means of subsistance. We still sleep on the floor. Most of the troops still on ship board.3
I am persuaded that the present war on the part of Great Britain was unavoidable (without relinquishing her authority), and to any one who lived in America, it was very apparent, that anarchy, and ruin, must be the consequence of the general principles and practises. It was obvious that the great grievance the people laboured under was the popular constitution of their Charter Governments; and it had long been a reproach to Great Britain that she neglected to reform them.
In the progress of Societies, Nations have generally risen to opulence, made advances in arts, refinements and Luxury, before they have sunk in corruption. But in America they have become depraved before they have been refined, and I can only account for it from the licentious Constitution of their Governments, and the neglect of Great Britain, which enacted Laws of Revenue at the same time that She winked at the open violation of them, so that illicit trade was a general practise; and a corruption of morals was accelerated by an avowed connivance of Smugling, and a flagrant prostitution of Custom house oaths.
When smug[g]ling became established and principle corrupted, the people of course revolted from the laws and authority of Great Britain, and became enemies to order and Government.
In a commercial light, it was high time to break with the Americans and to put the trade on a new footing; for they not only traded with You, on Your own Stock, but the credit they obtained at home was used to carry on a circuitous commerce with several foreign parts.
The produce of the British Merchants’ goods was employed to purchase teas in Holland, and to procure cargoes of Molasses from the foreign Islands, which were run into North America. All this while they were living in luxury, and increasing their substance, on the British Capital.
When I first arrived at Boston, I was struck with two things, which convinced me they were in the high road to destruction.
There were five printing Offices in the town, each of which published a Weekly News paper. And there were five vendue Warehouses.4 The people were all politicians, and all selling off their goods at any rate to raise money, and at the latter end, the goods were immediately sent, as they arrived from England, to the vendue warehouse, to be sold for what they would fetch.
In respect to their Governments, for want of some Superior power to cling to for protection, every man was affraid of his Neighbour, and cast about him before he said or did any thing, to see how it would affect his popularity, and they all stood in awe of the creature that was erected into the popular Demagogue. It appears fine at a distance, and in idea, to contemplate their free Constitutions; but in practise they are big with every evil, as every one who has lived under them and has possessed either property or talents superior to the vulgar has felt, and must own. And if ever America is recovered from its State of depravity, and its inhabitants are brought to be a free, and happy people, the first reformation must be in the Constitution of their Governments.
When I was at Rhode Island I waited on the Governor, and he afterwards caused it to be signified to me that he hoped I would excuse his not making me a visit in return; and I understood the reason, that it would affect his influence with the people, if he visited one of the King’s Officers.
At the time I was there, one of the late Governors was a Clerk to the inferior Court, and I was told that the man who had beat the Drum about the town for publick Sales was made a Judge. In short, in that most licentious State of Society, the Multitude elevated, or depressed annually, according to their caprice, to the prostitution and disgrace of all Order and Government.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Halifax, Nova Scotia 8 May 17761
Yesterday I received your favour of the 7th of March. And am much obliged to you and Mr L[ightbody] for the stores you have been so kind to send us, and for the trouble you have taken with those sent from my Sister, and for the newspapers now received. All these are very acceptable, for every kind of provision is very scarse and dear, and I imagine the Industry’s Cargoe will come to a very good Market. Capt M has called upon me, and if I can render him any service I shall be glad of it.
You will have heard of the evacuation of Boston. The circumstances attending our retreat have been somewhat severe upon the people in the Civil Departments, and our situation in this place is not such as to make us desirous of continuing in it. Most of those who can get away are removing from hence, and I hope we shall be able to embark in a short time for England.
Mrs H. joins with me in presenting best respects to yourself and Mrs N. I beg you will make my compliments to all friends with you. I remain with great regard, Dear Sir, your most obedient, humble Servant.
[Ann Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Wem 14 June 14 17761
Dear Mrs. Lightbody’s kind favour of the 30th May, I had the pleasure to receive here, was glad to hear you were taking pleasure in your Visit to Matlock, hope you will all reap benefit by it, particularly that Miss L.’s health will be confirmed, and may you long enjoy health and peace and every domestick blessing.
Though you had not desired it, I fully intended to write you, my Dear friend, when I should hear from my Brother, as I am perswaded your benevolent heart would participate in the Sufferings of your friends, and in what gives pleasure too, therefore this I should most readily communicate. Two or three days ago I received a Letter from my Brother dated Halifax, April 19th 1776. He says “after all our Perils and troubles we are thank God got safe to this place, and my family are in health.
It is wonderful how we have been preserved through all our alarms, Dangers, and distresses. We suffer in Loss of property with many worthy persons, here alas! are many families who lived in ease and plenty at Boston, that now have scarce a shelter, or any means of subsistence. However, the fugitives in general seem to bear thier Adversity with great fortitude.” He says nothing of coming to England, but that they wait for the next advices from London.
I desired my Aunt Hincks to acquaint Mr R. Nicholson. I would have sent you a more particular account of their departure from Boston, and their Voyage to Halifax, which I have from my Brother’s Journal, that a Gentleman in London has sent me, but that I am Straitened for time, having many Letters to write at once, to my friends. It is the Most Affecting Narrative to me I ever read; perhaps I may trouble you with some extracts from it sometime hence.
Not being certain whether you continue still at Matlock, I intend to send this in a packet to Chester, and am affraid of being too Late for the Newsman. I am at Mrs. Swanwick’s at present, think to return to Chester by the beginning of July. Am glad to hear your Sister is got so well; I thought the Country Air would be of servise to [her.]2 She was very poorly when I was at Chester Mrs Tylston and she talked of taking a jaunt to Wem, whilst I am here, but don’t hear whether they will or not. Mrs T. is, I believe, at Mrs. Hall’s still. Mrs. Swanwick desires her Love to you. At H. and Mrs. Whitworth’s. Staid here about 10 days, and Mrs. W. Brett and Miss were here. All friends this way are well.
My best respects to Mr & Mrs L.
I am, Dear Madam,
Friend and Humble Servant
[Henry Hulton to Ann Hulton]
Halifax 18 June 17761
This place is now pretty quiet, for the fleet, with the Army, sailed on an expedition nine days ago, yet all kinds of Provision are still very scarce and dear, except fish. But in short, there is no Country round Us to raise any supplies and it has been a strange waste of publick monies to attempt an establishment, in spite of Nature. For as to Soil and Climate, it is wretched indeed. We are now near Midsummer, without the comforts of that Season, or hardly the signs of vegitation. Most of the Boston people here have been sick and feel uncomfortably in this foggy chilling air, that obliges Us to keep fires, and yet at intervals We relax, and get colds, with the moist heat. A few days ago we hired a one horse Chaise to take a ride to Fort Sackville, which is ten miles, for which We were to pay three Dollars. We set out, expecting to see some thing of a Country, but all the road was along side the Bason on our right, with rocks and burnt Woods on our left, and there is nothing better to be seen for forty miles to Windsor, where they tell Us it is open into a fine Country. The horse failed Us on our return, and I had to drag and beat him most of the way home. However, for our comfort We have a better prospect before Us. After many difficulties and delays, We have at last brought matters to a conclusion, have engaged the Ship Aston Hall, Captain Parker, to carry Us to our Officers to London.
Stanstay near Wrexham
19 August 17761
I have long waited for good news, which I can now communicate to my Dear friend, of my Brother’s safe arrival in his Native Country, with his family all well. They sailed from Halifax the 18th July. The next day were seperated from thier Convoy in a heavy gale of wind, off the Isle of Sables, and with great difficulty they kept from driving to the Shore. Through the rest of the Voyage had mostly stormy weather. Mrs H. was sick the whole time. Upwards of 50 passengers on board. My Brother and Sister and their four boys Landed at Dover the 15th instant. Leaving the rest of the Passengers and thier Servants all on board the Ship (except the Child’s maid). The Wind still blew high.
What great dangers they have escaped, How long and painful the suspence I have been in, agitated between hope and fear. It has indeed been a time of severe trial to me.
Thanks be to God for his goodness in preserving them, and delivering me from the distressing apprehensions I have been under, particularly of late, which I could not avoid, as I supposed them to embark the beginning of July.
I doubt not you will joyn me in acknowledgments to Heaven, and let it encourage your and my trust in future.
My Brother writes me from Kensington, the 18 instant, when they had just arrived at the Reverend Mr. Heald’s, who married a Sister of Mrs. Hulton’s. Mrs. Heald had lain in about a fortnight, but had lost her little one, a boy. She has four girls, and the eight cozens were all gone to Walk in Kensington Gardens.
My Brother says he can’t answer for Edward, that he won’t beat some of his new relations before he returned—he is a Lively arch boy and was a favorite with the Military Gentlemen, particularly Lord Percy.
My Brother seems desirous to get down into the Country, but must continue in London a while to wait on his Superiors. There is a good house open for him and his family at Mr Preston’s in Charles Street, Berkley Square.
I hope this will find you, your family, and Cozin H. T. all. I beg to be kindly remembered to ‘em all.
I am, Dear Madam,
I’ve been here 3 Weeks for Country Air, but the Weather has been so bad, for the most part wet and windy, that have had little benefit of it. Here is good Company in the house Mrs. Cooper and Mrs. Wilbraham.
I think to go to Parkgate, again to Bathe, when our friend Mrs. T. returns. Hope we shall have Cosin H. T.’s company there too.
Charles Street Berkeley Square
22 August 17761
We sailed from Halifax the 18 of July and had rather a rough passage, but thank God I landed with my family safe at Dover the 13 instant and we feel ourselves very happy in being once more in our native land; of which blessing no one can be sufficiently sensible who has not lived out of it, and I would wish all murmurers to make the experiment, especially if they are sons of liberty: that they may enjoy the sweets of it for a while under the Boston Demagogues. I am perswaded that in no Country in no period of time there ever was a state of society in which the people were so improved, so generally comfortable and happy, as in the present state of Great Britain. In other Countrys, where you see the magnficence and splendor of the great, they are counterballanced by the poverty and misery of the Peasantry; they are oppressed, whilst the other live in luxury. But in England, there is an air of ease, an appearance of general opulence, and every one seems to enjoy their property in security, and to speak and act with freedom. Such a view must strike every stranger and make him wish to enjoy the life in this blessed land, where he can live without dread of oppression from the Great without fear of offending a popular Demagogue and having his house pulled down by the Rabble. I met a Letter from my sister a few days after my arrival, the contents of which damped the pleasure I received on my first coming to town. She informed me of the death of two of my old friends Mr. C[ropper] and Mrs. Rogers]; I sympathize with you and Mr C.’s family in your loss.
The many severe circumstances we have of late experienced, the frequent scenes of mortality and distress that have been around us, made us in a manner almost resigned to any events and little anxious about life, but when we came to see the happiness of this land, we were almost tempted to say “it is good for us to be here.” Indeed, several of the Americans I have conversed with in town say they had no idea of the opulence and grandure of this place, that it is not a City, but an Empire of itself, and is alone a match for ten America’s. We are at present at Mr. P[reston]’s house, and propose going to make him a visit in Norfolk, as soon as I can conveniently leave the town.
I shall be happy to hear of your family’s welfare; you will please to present our best Compliments to Mrs N. and Mrs B., and I remain with great regard, Dear Sir, your most obedient, humble Servant.
Beeston Hall near Norwich1
We left London the 24th September and lay that night at Newmarket. The next day we came to Mr. Burch’s, where we passed two Nights. They live at the house his Uncle left him at Cressingham, within 5 miles of Swaffham. It was then the races at Swaffham, and we went with them to the Assembly where was a fine shew of Ladies and Gentlemen.
We arrived at Norwich on Saturday, the 28th September. Mr. and Mrs. Preston were waiting for Us and received Us with the greatest affection and kindness, and conducted Us immediately in their Coach to Beeston. The House is in a park, situated rather low, with a piece of Water at the bottom. The front has the appearance of a Monestery, and one is surprized after passing through a large hall on entrance and leaving the appartments on the right, with a suite of three large lofty rooms to the left, fronting the Water.
Mr. P. had one of the Gentlemen Improvers here to modernize his grounds, and is busy in levelling his Lawns, removing Gardens, Walls and trees, and laying down a new kitchen Garden more remote from the house. It would grieve You if You were here to have such a fine kitchen garden cut up, as the present one is to be laid in a lawn. But so it must be; our ideas are more extensive than were those of our Ancestors. They were cribbed up in small appartments, and sat on little Cane Chairs, admiring the pretty inclosed garden edged with box and yew trees. We now indulge in elbow Chairs, in appartments 20 by 30, fifteen feet high, and must extend our new, over[-]improved grounds as far as the eye can see, without a disagreeable object intervening. But yet the main business of Art is to conceal art, for all would be spoiled if You were not made to think it was all Nature. We have every thing here to make in and out doors agreeable. A warm reception, an excellent table, a large library, a good garden—fine rides, horses and Carriages. Mr. P is no sportsman, but nevertheless finds employment, and fills up his time very rationally. He attends to his affairs, repairs the house and barns on his Estates, has greatly improved the roads in the Neighbourhood, and is now busy with the improvements about his house and garden, and is really a very virtuous good Character and a Christian, which for a Man of taste, fortune and education that has made the grand tour, is saying a great deal in this luxurious Age. He pays a Schoolmaster for instructing the Children in the Neighbourhood, and advises the Minister to hear them their Chatechism, and last Sunday Tommy and Harry were Chatechized at Church in the afternoon Service, along with the other Children. Mrs P. is a very sensible, polite amiable Woman; her behavior is very affectionate towards the Children, and we are made very happy in the cordiality of our treatment, in the cheerfulness, ease and kindness of our Hosts.
I have only been twice at Norwich. The City is very large but the Streets are many of them narrow. We went to the Sessions Assembly, which is the first Week in October and one of the most brilliant in the Year. The rooms are very spacious and there was a great shew of Nobility and Gentry.
I wished much for You on a visit to Mr. Petres, a Gentleman in this Neighbourhood. You would there have been amazed and delighted with a kitchen and fruit garden, such an one I have not seen: four Acres of ground inclosed, each Acre divided by a Wall. Such quantities of all kinds of fruit! And a new hot house building sixty feet deep, with such abundance of Pines, that all the Servants may live upon them. Then such extensive frames of Glass as high as the Walls, that will remove and cover a whole side of Wall to bring fruit forward. Add to this a vast melon ground. In short, the whole seems calculated to furnish fruit and garden stuff for a whole town rather than for a private family. But it is his hobby horse, and people may exceed in the most innocent amusements.
We took a ride the other morning to see a house about six miles off, lately built by a Mr. Norris, and it is really a curiosity. It is entirely on a Plan of his own, and differs from all others I have seen. The Stairs are in the Center and the landing place opens into a Gallery. The many odd ways and contrivances, from the ground floor to the top, makes it really worth seeing. This Country is rather low, is much inclosed, well[-]cultivated, and abounds in Churches.
What a sad reverse of fortune for Miss W—. The next person you mention, Mr. K—, has had as strange a reverse, on the other hand. The good things of life are desireable, but many pay too dear a purchase for them. Yet from the respect that is paid to Wealth, however acquired, and the neglect that is shewn to Virtue, however generally acknowledged, it requires the force of the best principles, and a constant realizing of futurity, for the mind to support itself amidst the frowns and the Scorns of the World. And it is truly lamentable, if whilst the mind labours under the evils of life, a gloominess is cast over its future prospects by erroneous Principles of religion. I was concerned to hear of the State of despondency in which You mention Mrs. B. to have died, and I fear her depression might in some part arise from her mind being early impressed with the gloomy doctrines of Calvin.
Chester 10 November 17761
I had the pleasure lately to hear of My Dear friend, that you were well.
Intended to write you by this Opportunity, and would not omit it, though indeed I have not had time to transcribe from the journal of the Retreat from Boston.
I am perswaded you will be pleased to hear that I am got into agreable Lodgings. It is at Mr. Sproston’s, in Watergate Street Row, where Mrs Wrench’s used to keep the Card Assembly. I have a good Comfortable Lodging room, besides a parlour to myself (though it’s to the Row and consequently Dark), and I board likewise in the house. The situation, you know, is not far from my friends. I wish you was in reach of this circle, but we are not to expect everything we wish. A number of Ladies have been so obliging to call on me in my new Apartments, and I have been engaged every Afternoon, except twice, since I came here a fortnight ago. However, it is a falling off to be sure from the last house I was at, where I had the pleasure of your Company. That was transient and the parting added to the mortifications I have met with in changing Scenes. The impressions of the past, pleasing or otherwise, cannot be effaced, and when a Solitary hour allows room for reflection, it still appears a wonder to Me that I am here in my Native Country, escaped from the dangers and free from dreadful alarms. That I can go to be without Apprehensions of Cannonadings, by which I used to be roused, and rise up without anxious thoughts, for supplies, and safety by day, and walk out and see plentiful markets and easy countenances, instead of deserted Streets, empty market-places, or to meet discontents looks, and anxious distress.
How wonderful are the ways of Providence, and by what severe discipline we may be taught the value of the common blessings of Life. Thanks to a Kind Providence that it was temporary, that the scene is changed, both with myself and my friends, for whose safety I have felt more than when I was amidst the alarms and horrors of War. I received a letter from my Brother a few days ago, when he was near setting out to return from Norfolk to London. He seems greatly pleased with the journey, their reception and entertainment there, and charmed with Mr. and Mrs. Preston, thier characters, and thier Kind and affectionate treatment. I doubt not they enjoyd with peculiar pleasure the soothing kindness of their friends, after the roughs and storms they have passd through. By this time my Brother is at Sir George Baker’s near Kensington Square — to reside the Winter, or till June next, if all be well.
Tomorrow I am to visit your Sister and meet Mrs. Potts’s there. Beg my best Compliments to Mr. and Miss L:
I am, Dear Madam, your Affectionate
Kensington 25 August 17771
I can now acquaint You of our being fixed in an habitation. It is Mr. Taylor’s house at Burcot, near Wells, Somersetshire. Our baggage is gone down, and we are just set[t]ing off for Bath. I hope We shall find all circumstances agreeable to Us in our new settlement, and I do not fear when We are once set down in the Country but we shall be very happy; and that is more than we could expect to be in the neighbourhood of London. Men of my Principles and dispositions are not much sought for; and it is in retirement only that I can preserve respect to myself—but it comports more with my temper, and fortune, to withdraw from the bustle of Society than to combat with the worthless and vain, and see the arts and intrigues of designing Men. From the experience I have had, I am the more reconciled to retirement. The Commerce of the World does not heighten our opinion of human Nature; and if we maintain right principles, through the intercourses of active life we shall find that We must sacrifice many gratifications to support them, and be subjected to many mortifications, by the preference we have made of Principle, to worldly interest. And therefore, there should seem to be some thing more necessary than the meer consciousness of Virtue to enable Us to support our integrity through all circumstances: and the older I grow, the more I am fixed in my first Principles, and persuaded of the folly of abandoning them for any earthly good. It is of small consequence whether we are great or little for the short time we are here; but it is of high importance whether We act a Virtuous or a dishonorable part; whether We maintain our integrity, or submit to guilt and depravity. The Sentiments We cultivate, and the conduct We support at present, will be the source of our honor and comfort hereafter, or of our future shame, remorse, and punishment.
[Henry Hulton to Ann Hulton]
Burcot near Wells 19 September 17771
We left Kensington with Tom and Harry the 25 August and came to Wells by Andover and Frome. The Maids, with Edward and Preston, set out on Tuesday, and went by the way of Bath, and we all met together on Thursday evening. And the next day the Maids and Children removed to their new habitation at Burcot, and Dan got there at Night. The situation is very pleasant, within a Mile and half of Wells, and there is a fine prospect all the way to town.
I found a School at Wells which was very well recommended to me. The Master is a Clergyman and has about twenty boys for education in his own house. I was well pleased with his Character, and have placed the three oldest there at School; the rates are 20 Guineas boarding, and Schoolings.
After giving Orders to the Workmen and set[t]ling the Children, We made a little tour till the house should be ready for Us.
At Bath We ordered some furniture, and went on to Bristol; from thence We crossed the Channel to Chepstow, and after seeing Pensfield, We passed on to Nieuport, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Neath, and Swansea. Nothing certainly can be more charming than the prospects in this tour. Tthe Country is in high cultivation, and the hills are inclosed and improved to the Summit, and You are forever opening from one luxuriant Scene of smiling hill and cultured Vale to another; with views of the Channel and the distant hills in England, frequently breaking upon You. All the houses are Whitewashed on the outside, which gives a very clean, chearful appearance to the Villages. The roads, the entertainment, and accommodations are all very good, and the Weather was delightful all the time we were out. We returned to Chepstow and went round by Gloucester to Bristol, and in short, all the way to this place is through a Country rich in its soil, and cultivation, and beautifully diversified, with frequent prospects of land and Water intermixed.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Burcot 27 September 17771
Mr. R. Nicholson
Since I last had the pleasure of writing to You I made a tour to Dorsetshire and Somersetshire, with a view to fix my family, as the places I had visited in the North did not answer my expectations on the whole.
The Neighbourhood of Wells appeared to me for several reasons an eligible part to settle in, and finding a house near that town to be let, I entered into treaty for it, and have now removed my family to it.
I am now more set[t]led, retired, and at my ease, than I have been for some years past. It is a calm after a Storm. I look back on perils and dangers that have been escaped; on troubles and difficulties that have been encountered, and surmounted.
If We can review the efforts We have made, without a consciousness of guilt, We may enjoy satisfaction, though our endeavours have been unsuccessful. I can truly say that I have been more intent to do my duty, and serve the publick in the Offices I have held, than to advance my interest; and if I have not been very fortunate, at least I am not now unhappy. It is often from our ignorance that things are heightened in our opinion, and from our knowledge of Men we may become better reconciled to retirement. After all the combat for honors, Wealth, and Power, for which so many sacrifices are made, the chief of outward good is comprized in Simplicity and Sympathy—happy is he who knows how to value them. Whilst I enjoy these I shall think little of the want of many of those things, which are the objects of general pursuit, and estimation.
[Henry Hulton to Ann Hulton]
Burcot 14 October 17771
I received Your favor of the 24 instant and am very much concerned at Your ill state of health, and wish You may find benefit from the Waters in Leicestershire, where You propose going.
We have experienced many circumstances to shew Us how precarious and uncertain is health, and all sublumary good; at the same time, We have to acknowledge the enjoyment of many mercies and relief in many distresses; and I am thankful that I am now in such circumstances of health, peace, and comfort.
I can look back on the trials and difficulties in my past life with satisfaction, and gratitude. I can leave the busy Scene without regret, for it was to me a life of thankless toil and combat for the publick.
My disposition leads me to enjoy and improve retirement; and it is a great blessing to have leisure to cultivate our understandings, and to detach ourselves from the World.
I enjoy the most substantial blessings in life, and pine not for things out of my reach, or envy others their enjoyments. My domestic comforts are great, and the little boys give Us every hope that We can desire from them; and they are placed much to our satisfaction. Edward asked Tom what he must do to be good, and now behaves very well. Little Preston is my Companion in my walks, and we are very happy together—See, Papa, the baa Lambs; then he is frightened at the Cows, and cries, there’s a Bull. But the joy is to see the meeting of the Brothers, when the Boys come home.
We walk to meet them over two fields. Preston kisses them all, over and over, then he runs off with Edward and tells him all about Kitty and Polly; whilst Tom and Harry are both at once telling their stories about their Schooling to their Mama and me.
Burcot 10 December 17771
I received Your favor of the 10th Ulto. The sameness of our daily occupation and the few occurences that We meet with in our new mode of living, prevent my writing more frequently. However, We had one event here which You must have heard of at the time, that surprized Us a good deal. Mr. Taylor, our Landlord, came down to Wells Last month. You may remember that Mr. Cuthbert and I had a good deal of altercation with him in Germany, and it was a little odd my receiving his visit for the first time, in his own house. I had called to see him at Wells, when he was not within. The next day he came over and spent some hours with Us, and invited Us to dinner for the day following. Accordingly We went, and I thought he shewed a desire of being upon good terms, and nothing would satisfy him but he must have the Children to dinner likewise. The Carriage was sent for them, and he seemed very well pleased with them, and at going away he gave each of them something. Edward kept it in his hand till he came to the light at home. He thought it had been a halfpenny, but seeing it was a Shilling, he cried out, I am a Shilling Man. In the course of conversation, Mr. Taylor said that no Man had found more friends than himself, had enjoyed more health, or had been more prosperous. Yet, says he, “I would not wish to live life over again.” I am afraid it had its stings. I happened to say something of Virtue—he stopt me short. “What have you lived so long in the World, and talk of Virtue.” He was in perfect health and good spirits when we parted, and the next evening he returned from Dinner quite hearty, but suddenly expired at nine o’clock. He was a Man, bold, rude, and uncultured, but of very strong natural parts: and had the talent to make himself useful to great Men. To the World, he sacrificed, took advantage of extraordinary opportunities, and amassed a prodigious fortune, but with all his affluence was wretched. He built a pallace, of which he had no enjoyment, for he lived without domestic consolation, the sure consequence of unprincipled attachment.
The consideration of such a Character, and his sudden exit, may be a lesson of instruction to all, and shew to those who are bent on acquiring this World’s good, by every means the insufficiency of it when acquired, the uncertain tenure by which it is held, and the vanity of their pursuits.
In this retreat We have great pleasure in our domestic comforts, and though we have contracted the circle of our amusements, we have not reduced the means of our happiness. Retirement opens fresh sources of entertainment to the virtuous and rational mind: and that peace and tranquility which arises from moderated passions, the culture of the mind, and innocent employments, is beyond any thing that the World can give. I feel no lassitude or wearyness, or ever have an hour on my hand, though I follow no Country diversions.
When I look back coolly on the life of persecution we led, and the dangers We have escaped, I shudder, and am greatly thankful for our deliverance, and that we are all alive in such comfortable circumstances. In the hurry of action, our spirits were wonderfully supported; and we did not seem impressed with sufficient apprehensions from the impending evils. Now they are over, we can trace back many instances of extraordinary protection and deliverance, and I hope they will never be forgotten by me or mine.
Nothing now gives me so much concern as Your circumstances and state of health.
I hope Providence will support You under Your trials, and that You will find Your health mastered by the means You propose useing, and that We shall meet in comfort in the Summer. It may be happy for Us that the mind is sometimes damped to the enjoyment of the surrounding objects of pleasure, and that it does not find consolation in the things without it. Happy, if the pain of body leads Us to seek tranquility of mind, where only it can be found, and happy, if from the loss of worldly good we are led in search of treasures more durable, that cannot be taken from Us.
[Henry Hulton to Ann Hulton]
Burcot March 17781
I have the pleasure of Your favour of the 5th instant, which relieved me from some anxiety, as I began to be fearful that You were prevented writing by sickness. I am very sensible how much You are interested in my happiness, and indeed there is nothing at present that gives me so much concern, as a regard for your health and comfortable settlement. I dread Your having any further matters to distress or affect You, and wish You to bring Your affairs into a narrow compass, to secure what property You have, and attend only to make Your life comfortable and easy to You. When You have set[t]led Your affairs, I suppose You will pursue Your intention of going to Leicestershire, and when You have tried those Waters awhile, we shall hope to see You here, where You will find simplicity and sympathy. We are here in peace and retirement, and know little of what passes in the World. And happy is it for Us in these distracted times that We are somewhat removed from the fury of the Storm. Alas! The prospect is gloomy, and I fear the issue of these publick calamities. Who could have imagined the progress of this rebellion and present state of affairs? Rapid are the advances of Commercial Nations towards their summit of Glory, but short the duration of their Splendour. The internal corruption that great commerce produces would soon urge a Nation to its decline, without the ingratitude of its Colonies. But there is an hand unseen that directs the whole; and it is no wonder that he should make wicked nations the instruments of each other’s punishments. However, individually We may learn to submit, and adore, and lament to see the World that is passing away, distracted by the violence of human passions. And if We are in some measure disturbed thereby, yet it should render the prospect before Us more pleasing and delightful. For my own part, I could very much forego any further pursuits of ambition, or interest—the peaceable enjoyment of retirement in national Studies, and little intercourses of Society, would give me the greatest Pleasure; and if it was not for my Children’s sakes, I should not wish to engage again in the business and bustle of life. I have had my share of them; and from experience, I would not desire to renew a commerce with the interested and unprincipled World.
I should dread to be in a Society, exposed to constant Cards and dissipation. It is a fine expression of Hotspur’s in Harry the 4th “Our time is short, to spread that shortness basely ‘twere too long.”2 We have some Society within our reach, enough for to amuse Us. We go once a week to town, to a Card Assembly. Our Play is very moderate; and in short, to People of our turn, whose chief pleasures are domestic, our situation is pleasing, and having the Children so nigh is a great comfort.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Burcot 12 March 12 17781
Mr. R. Nicholson. Liverpool.
I had proposed myself the Pleasure of writing to You for some time past, but deferred it from time to time, as I had little worth mentioning to my friends in my present situation.
I cannot now amuse You with the relation of perilous adventures; but I can say that I am thankful in having this retreat from the Storm; that I enjoy peace and tranquility, and many domestic comforts.
I can look back at leisure on the various events in my past life, and with gratitude acknowledge many surprizing escapes and deliverances. I almost shudder to think on the many circumstances of danger and distress from which I have been delivered. And when I view, after all, ourselves and the little brood around Us, in health comfort and safety, it really greatly affects me; and many of the sentiments of David2 rise in my mind, and I hope and trust that he who has hitherto preserved Us, will continue to guide and direct Us.
I know very little of what is passing abroad, except what my Newspaper shews me; and the account in Your last letter was matter of great surprize to me, both the rise and fall of our old friend. He seems to have been a very bold Adventurer—That he should have risqued so much in America, in these times, is surprizing, and that afterwards he should have had credit to carry on such extensive concerns is no less so.
His original business I imagine was very profitable to him. Success therein led him on to further enterprize. Aiming at too much has undone many. When intemperate passions of any kind get the dominion, People lose sight of Principle and Prudence in pursuit of the favorite object. It is difficult to hold the reins upon appetite, to keep in the right path when tempted by Pleasure, or gain, or to maintain right Principles when the support of them exposes one to mortification and neglect. And yet I am persuaded that, sooner or later, every bad Man is sensible of the emptiness and insufficiency of every earthly good that has been purchased by the sacrifice of his integrity; and that no good Man ever repented that he had made passion and interest yield to truth and Virtue.
It gave me great Pleasure to hear that Mr. Lightbody’s family were coming to Bath. I wish You had been of the Party. It is a long time since We met. I flatter myself with much satisfaction in talking over matters with my old friends. There is great consolation in a relation of past adventures to those who sympathize with Us, and feel for Us, &c.
[Henry Hulton to Charles Dudley]
Burcot 25 March 17781
Charles Dudley Esq.
I am obliged to You for two of your favors, the former on the 10th October and one of the 19th instant.
I have been affected in like manner with Yourself by the untoward events that have happened, and the gloomy prospect of affairs, so that I have had no heart to write to any of my friends. And amongst all my fellow sufferers, in this day of our calamity, there is no one I have sympathized with more heartily than Yourself, who endure the pain of seperation, added to losses, and other distress. But it gives Us much satisfaction to hear You have such good accounts from Mrs. Dudley, that She supports herself with so much fortitude. May You and She still keep up Your Spirits, and amidst the gloom that surrounds you, may You trust in an Almighty friend for guidance and direction; and may he be Your comfort and support.
Alas! who could have imagined that We should be reduced to so humiliating a State! Which ever way we cast our eye, we see nothing to give Us consolation. Publick and private distress are before Us. May they have the effect that is intended by the Almighty in his chastisements. Vain wish, You’l say, —Alas! I fear so. — Bid me, look around, see the torrent of fashion overwhelming every Principle of truth and duty. Ask me, what Nation can stand when the bulk of its individuals are profligate? I fear the description and apprehension are too just.
I think it happy that I removed my family from the Neighbourhood of the Capital. Considering our dispositions and all circumstances, I do not think We could have set down any where more to our satisfaction, as events have turned out. We have avoided a great deal of mortification and uneasiness by retreating from the bustle of the World. We are content with the enjoyment of domestic peace, and tranquility, though we have some Society within our reach. And it is great satisfaction to Us to have the Children so nigh to Us as Wells, which is within two miles. The Boys come on very well; their tempers and dispositions are very good and we flatter ourselves that they will be comforts to Us. If We are deprived of some enjoyments, We should endeavour to make the most of those that remain, and not pine after things that are out of our reach. But We often overlook what would afford real happiness, in the pursuit of imaginary pleasure. The little circle about Us may afford sufficient for our support and comfort, if properly cultivated; and if We cannot figure in Courts, or command the applause of popular Assemblies, we find resources within the compass of our own fire side, our books, or our garden.
There is a luxury enjoyed by the contemplative mind, greater than any the Epicurean can partake, and procured without toil, expence, or guilt. His Sentiment harmonizing with Nature: when the heart, softened and tranquilized by the view of creation, joins in the morning gratulations of the peaceful creatures around, and exults in the opening splendour of the day, the verdant face of the earth, and the happiness partaken by so many rational and animated beings. For my own part, I have more joy in seeing the progress of vegitation than in the splendour of a Court, and much greater pleasure in the singing of the birds, the lowing of the Cattle, and the bleating of the Sheep, than in the finest Concert. Stupid Creature, some will say—but I say, Nature is beyond Art in every thing. And he who has not brought himself to a thorough relish for the beauties of the former, I do not allow to be a proper judge. Alas! The depraved taste of Man, the vanity of his pursuits, and the inordinancy of his Passions! We all live to appear happy in the eyes of others, not to be really so in ourselves. We court applause, and depend on the voice of the multitude. We accumulate wealth by crimes and perish without enjoying it. A little while ago I had the opportunity of seeing one of the favorites of fortune, who had amassed great Wealth, but withal was wretched. It was Peter Taylor. He died here suddenly in November last. The day before he died I dined with him. He was then very hearty and well, in the course of conversation he observed, that no Man had found more friends, had enjoyed more health, or been more fortunate than himself; yet, says he, I would not wish to live life over again. Alas! People often pay a dear purchase for this World’s good, and are afterwards disap[p]ointed. The consciousness of guilt damps the enjoyment.
I am obliged to You for the communication in Your letters, for I hear nothing relative to our American friends from any one.
The same restless and vacant mind continues with one, and the same intriguing Spirit with another.
The epithet gentle is well applied, for the poor Man will for ever be a Prey to violent Passions.
I congratulate the Congress on the choice of their Ambassador. But I apprehend the Services of his Embassy will never answer the expence of his Wardrobe. With regard to Mr. Fisher, I am a little at a loss to comprehend his fishing plan.
There is a satisfaction in having seen the World, and it is necessary to know something of it, to be able to get through life, with any tolerable degree of safety and success. But I do not think they are to be envied, whose Commerce in Society leads them much amongst the artful, and unprincipled, and who are engaged in a continual round of competition for interest, or honors. And I would rather remain in ignorance, than acquire knowledge at the expence of my happiness; for to detect the foibles and depravity of the human heart, through its wiles and intrigues, and the turbulence of its passions; what is it, but to make Us disgusted with our fellow Creatures?
When we say of any one that he knows the World well, it supposes him to have had a deal of evil communication; and therefore if he has preserved good morals, he is a wonderful creature. For alas! In general the heart soon becomes corrupted by interest, and seared and hardened by the Commerce of the World, like a beaten path. You will say, how this Man moralizes, turns Cynic, and shews a disap[p]ointed and discontented mind.
It is good to draw resources from necessity. Perhaps had I gone before the wind with a prosperous gale, I might have thought the Voyage pleasant, and have shared in the pleasures that were going forward. But I might then have been less attentive to the making a safe port at the end of the Voyage than now, after being ruffled with Storms, and sometimes becalmed—in which Latter state I now am—and I cast an eye back on the Storms and distresses in my past Voyage, with wonder and gratitude for my deliverance; and I look forward with calmness, seriousness and attention. I could sit down in tranquility, without wishing to know or be known, without desiring any more intercourse with the busy world, if a sense of duty and regard to my family did not call me into it.
Our enjoyments are in a small compass, but our little Companions make them sweet and pretious. We are not much exposed to rude intruders, but are blessed with the two most comfortable fire side Companions, Simplicity and Sympathy. Now and then apprehension will cast a gloom, and care and anxiety intrude; but there is a still voice within that says peace be still, look to the experience of past mercies, and trust that He who hath delivered, will still deliver. In this retreat I have one great blessing, in having my time at my own disposal, and if I do not employ it in cultivating the understanding, and amending the heart, then are reflection, experience, and leisure, bestowed in vain.
Indeed, I find great consolation in an old book that is much neglected by the gay and prosperous; but however it yields solid comfort in the hours of solitude, in the time of Sickness and distress. The Author of it says, in the World Ye shall have tribulation, but he bids Us be of good cheer, and tells us that he has overcome the World, and that he is gone to prepare a place for Us. Happy tidings! To all who are weary with their journey, and grieved in their present miserable habitations.2
[Henry Hulton to William Pepperrell]
Burcot 28 March 17781
Sir Wiliam Pepperril London
I received Your favour of the 10th November but have been so much affected with the lamentable state of affairs, that I have had no heart to write to any of my friends, and I can now only say that I droop and mourn. Alas! Who could have imagined our being reduced to so humiliating a state. As events have turned out, I think it very fortunate that I removed my family from the neighbourhood of the Capital.
We are here in a quiet retirement; and though We see little of the World, our situation is no wise irksome to Us, and it is a great comfort to have the Children at School so near Us as Wells, where we have some Society. Indeed, for People of our disposition, I do not think We could have found a more agreeable retreat. I can look back on my past deliverances with gratitude, and I trust in the same gracious protection and guidance of me and mine that I have hitherto experienced.
The reviving of Nature in the opening Season, the melody of Birds, and the gratulations of all the Animals around Us, all tend to soften the mind; to make it sympathetic in the general peace, tranquility, and joy of nature. But alas! Man’s cursed passions lead him astray and make him incapable of relishing the blessings prepared for him. Or if he is disposed to enjoy the simplicity of Nature, he is soon disturbed by some evil or distress, and called to lament and grieve. Now, War, horrid War, sounds in our ears, and instead of a quiet enjoyment of the Season, and retirement, We shall brood over calamity and anticipate distress.
I know the anxieties You must have, by what I feel myself, and I hope Your Young family enjoy health and make every improvement You can desire, and if you should alter Your condition, may it be in every respect for Your, and their, advantage.
The future prospect is very gloomy. But let Us not despair; a ray of comfort may dart through the darkest cloud, and some events may arise that may chear and comfort Us. And let us trust in him who hath delivered, and can still deliver.
In any success that attends Your wishes, we shall rejoice. If You meet with disap[p]ointment, or are weary of the gay and the Great, You know where to find simplicity and sympathy. We will endeavour to share with You, to sooth and comfort You in any distress. &c.
[Henry Hulton to Thomas Percival]
Burcot March 17781
Dr. Percival Manchester
I was greatly obliged to You for Your kind favor in October, and received much comfort and satisfaction in the perusal. There is no such earthly cordial to the drooping Spirits as the expressions of sympathy from an affectionate friend—nor can any thing animate Us more to persevere in an arduous course of duty, than the approbation and countenance of good Men.
For some time past I have been so much affected by the gloom on publick and private affairs, that I have had no heart to write to any of my friends, and the prospect before Us does not afford any thing to chear and comfort Us.
There is some satisfaction in not being exposed to many trifling and noisy intruders, in being remote from many Scenes of vanity that could corrupt, or misery that would disturb Us, in having our time at our own disposal, and Leisure to attend to the still voice of truth and Nature. I have gone through many Storms, but am now becalmed. In this retreat I have leisure to look back on a life of toil and combat; and though it has been passed to little proffit to myself and family, and I have undergone many losses and distresses; yet I have reason to acknowledge many escapes and deliverances; many instances of divine favor and protection; and I cannot see myself with all my family about me, in health, peace, and tranquility without wonder and gratitude.
The Boys come over once a fortnight, and it is great delight to hear their little tales, to see the big Joy sparkling in their Countenances, and to share in the ardour and vivacity of their minds. Their age is all novelty, and extacy. These Young ones, the joy of our hearts and the hopes of our lives, are likewise the objects of much anxiety, and their education, the inculcating right Principles into their minds, and forming them to a love of truth and virtue, must ever be matter to engage our thoughts, care, and attention. From the Parents’ example, they take the first impressions, and his eye is their strictest guard. Indeed, as to some parents, it may be best their Children should be remote from them; but to any one who has a love of letters, and virtue, I think an attention to his Children’s education must be his great delight.
I am highly obliged to You for the great regard and kind wishes You express for me.
I own myself somewhat wounded by my experience of the World, though I hope it does not lessen my benevolence to Mankind; and the depravity of Character I have seen in some, and the imperfections and foibles of others, tend to heighten my respect for those who have distinguished themselves by their talents and virtues. The examples of the latter animate Us to maintain the same noble course; they raise our respect for our own nature, and their is a pride and delight, mingled with affection, when we view our amiable friends and companions, supporting themselves with integrity and fortitude, through the toilsome combat of a tempting and troublesome world. And I have great pleasure in reflecting on some Characters of my deceased friends, whom I greatly respected, and by whom I was cherished, and I have still some living ones in my eye, who I think are ornaments of human Nature, and the consideration of whose virtues ought to put one in good humour with our fellow Creatures.
How I could take my book of patulae recabons sub tegmini fagi,2 [and] forget the noise and bustle of the World. But I am soon roused from my repose and disturbed in the enjoyment of the tranquil Simplicity of Nature—every post brings a fresh allarm and now bella, horrida bella3 sounds in our Years. Oh! The cursed passions of Man! How they deform this fair Creation. Now We shall brood over calamity and anticipate distress. May heaven avert the terrors of its wrath from this guilty land.
In letter to Dr. Percival from Page 50 [insertion follows]4
Amidst the impurity and profligacy of the West Indies, the Character of Colonel Martin shone with distinguished lustre. He was my friend, and in his Society I was cheared, animated and improved. The Scholar and Gentleman shewed themselves at all times in his conversation and behavior, ever animated with a virtuous Patriotism. The Island of Antigua owes to him many of its best laws.
Courteous to all, humane to his Negroes, he lived in a regular performance of the divine, social, and personal duties.
So many polite accomplishments, and liberal endowments, so much publick Spirit and manly exertion of his talents, so much strictness in moral conduct, so virtuous, and christian behavior, are seldom united in one man.#
Amidst the confusion, publick spoil, and peculation in Germany, I had a friend whose integrity was unshaken, whose Spirit and fortitude were unequalled. This was Mr. Cuthbert. And there is a Military Gentleman now in America, who I have the honor to call my friend, who united with all the qualifications of the Soldier and the Gentleman all the virtues that adorn the Man and the Christian. It is the Honorable General Leslie. My heart glows when I think of these Characters. Two of them, alas! are no more, and for the third, the tear starts in my eye when I think with anxiety to what perils his life is exposed. #Addition to Colonel Martin’s Character, from the other side.
At Seventy Years of Age his conversation had charms for Youth and beauty; and the Ladies would sit with eager Ears, delighted with his discourse. He had lived very much at the Court of the late Prince of Wales, and it did honor to his Royal Patron that he distinguished him, for he was withal a Person of strict Morals and a religious Man. He joined to great abilities the warmest zeal for the Publick, and was unwearied in its Service. And he was ever doing friendly kind offices to particular Persons, so that he was at once an ornament and a blessing to Society. His Table was always served with great hospitality, but till the latter part of his life he himself only drank Water.
[Henry Hulton to Ann Hulton]
Burcot 7 April 17781
I received Your favor of the 31st Ulto. Alas! You will have heard the melancholy tidings respecting our friends at Bath long before this reaches you. I had written to Mr. Lightbody and I flattered myself with the pleasure of seeing them here, when suddenly on Thursday morning I received a letter from Mr. C, with whom they lodged, acquainting me of Mr. Lightbody’s death.
I thought Mrs. Lightbody might be without a female friend, and we immediately set off for Bath and got there at 7 in the evening. Mr. William Lightbody, with his daughter and Mrs. R. Lightbody, were arrived a day or two before. It was a melancholy meeting with friends after so long an absence, on such an occasion, but I am very glad we went. I am sure they took it kind, and I believe it was some comfort to them.
I did not see Mr. William Lightbody that evening. The next morning, when I went in to the parlour, I saw a Gentleman there, but had no idea that it was him, and went out again. They shewed me in again. When he spoke to me, I really should not have known him, he was so much altered, and depressed.
That morning I assisted at the funeral, and we stayed with the family that day, and returned home on Saturday.
It is trying and extraordinary circumstances that call forth the proofs of the affection and attachment of friends. We were really much concerned for these Ladies, when we heard of their distress, and our attachment has been increased by an acquaintance with them, and we should esteem it a happiness to have them nearer our Society.
[Henry Hulton to Mrs. Hincks]
Burcot 15 April 17781
I have long wished to be able to give You consolation, having shared very heartily with You in Your afflictions, but alas! My ability to comfort is not equal to my wishes and desires for Your relief. I know indeed that You draw resources from a fountain that will never fail; and that You have better comfort at hand, than any the World can give. However, there is a cordial in the expressions of sympathy from an affectionate friend that is very chearing to the Spirits, and I am persuaded You will at least be pleased in hearing from one who was dear to You from infant Years, from one who has an affectionate feeling in Your distresses, and would wish to mitigate Your sorrows and make the remainder of the road of life in some measure more sweet and pleasant to You. Alas! We have each of Us had our trials, and difficulties, and throughout the changing circumstances and events of Life, We have experienced many things to wean us from it. Many instances of divine favor and protection, under severe trials; and are now in the enjoyment of many mercies, and comforts that should excite our gratitude and thankfulness.
In this retreat I have leisure to look back on the past and consider the future: and from past experience I ought to have my heart amended and my affections weaned from an unjust attachment to earthly good. Indeed, I have learned to be very moderate in my desires and expectations from the World. I have seen many sacrifices made to obtain the great things of life, and have often thought them purchased at too dear a rate. I have seen others who were in the same line with myself advanced to great prosperity, whilst I have been tried with severe circumstances, have met with many disap[p]ointments, and may think myself neglected: and my fortitude would have often sunk, and my Spirits have been depressed, if I had not looked beyond the present Scene of things.
Amidst pain and sorrow, affliction and distress, one glance into futurity is consolation. There is a promise to the patient continuer in well doing that may support the drooping Spirits; and We may look to him, in all our troubles, who was made perfect through sufferings.
A Christian, then, may be unfortunate, but he can hardly be unhappy. A bad Man may be prosperous, but he will ever be wretched.
- Retirement opens &c.
- The checking of the ardour &c.
- Virtue hath often &c.
I know I can say nothing on these Subjects that has not again and again occurred to You.
You have a supply of the best consolation in a mind reconciled to the will of heaven; meditating on its work and its ways, and relying on its promises and may they ever be sweet and pretious to You. &c. &c.
I had indulged myself lately in the hopes of seeing my old friends Mr. Lightbody’s family at Burcot, but alas! I was called to attend his funeral at Bath, and sympathize with his family in their distress. In vain we image to ourselves in the time of absence, the pleasure we shall have in meeting our friends again, and telling over all our adventures to those who have interested themselves for Us. Alas! On our return, we find every object New, strange, and unfeeling towards Us. The eye that longed to see Us and the heart that glowed with affection for Us, are sunk and cold. This has been my fate again and again. And on my return to London this last time, if it had not been for my connections by Marriage, I should have been a solitary Being.
[Henry Hulton to Thomas Cotgreave]
Burcot 15 April 17781
Mr. Cotgreave Chester
From the experience I have had of the World I am sufficiently satisfied with the busy scene and reconciled to retirement: not from an indolent disposition, for I would wish to be active as long as I can be useful. But the Scene I would wish to avoid is that where one sees much of the intrigues and corruptions of the human heart in the combat for interest and honors.
I do not think they are to be envied who advance themselves by the sacrifice of Principle—They have their good in possession and many stings therewith. The Just have theirs in reversion, and the anticipation of it is sweet, not in reversion only, but really there is a present satisfaction, a serenity and peace which the virtuous mind enjoys in all circumstances, that far surpasses all the tinseled and varnish glory of the vain and profligate.
In retirement We try what resources We can draw from our own minds. We look down upon the World, as from an eminence. And We correct a great deal of the false notions we had contracted, and find that the real good of life is more in our own Power than We had imagined.
Alas! To what a sad state are we not reduced? But our Constitution, a constant Prey to faction, wants energy for the government of remote territories. Whilst we are disputing, the time for action is lost.
I wish we may learn to make the most of the resources within ourselves, but I fear We have not the Virtue to contract our desires and reform our manners.
Commerce and Colonization have urged Us rapidly forward, but in their progress have spread the Seeds of Moral and Political destruction, and the prospect before Us is truly lamentable.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Burcot 25 April 17781
Mr R. Nicholson Liverpool
I received Your favor of the 24 Ultimo and was then happy in the prospect of meeting our friends. But alas! A few days brought Us melancholy tidings, and instead of the Pleasure I had indulged myself in, I was called to assist at the funeral of our friend.
In vain, in the hours of absence, do we image to ourselves the satisfaction We shall have in meeting again with those who are dear to Us; in telling over our tale, and relating the many wonderful incidents in our past life to those who are interested for Us.
Time wears out the traces of remembrance of Us from some, chills the ardor of affection in others, and bears many many of our friends to the state of oblivion. We return and find the houses, and the Churches, the publick paths the same. But where are the people who enlivened the Scene; with whom we spent the social hour; the eye that cheared at our sight, the heart that glowed with ardor at our approach? Alas! They are no more. New Persons are sprung up; they find other objects to engage and entertain them.
We become Strangers where we once were familiar and find ourselves in solitude in the midst of a Crowd. And it is well, that it is so ordered—the lesson is severe, but the duty it teaches is necessary to our happiness. It was not meant that we should find any sure rest or support in earthly comforts.
They drop from Us, or We become incapable of enjoying them: and when We are told where real happiness only is to be found, if We neglect to secure it, we can only reproach our own folly for our disap[p]ointment and loss.
I shed a tear at the remembrance of my old friend, Mr. Bassnet. He was an Israelite indeed. It pleased heaven to try him with afflictions, which he bore with great resignation, and is now gone to his reward.
In the late interview with our friends, I felt myself advanced to the middle age, seeing Young Ladies whose Mothers I had remembered very young.
[Henry Hulton to Mrs. Tylston]
Burcot 24 August 17781
Mrs. Tylston Chester
I had always a very high sense of Your friendship, and the experience I lately had of Your great kindness to my Sister has strengthened my sentiments of esteem and regard, and [I] could not leave Chester without a grateful sense of Your goodness.
As I was persuaded from the interest you were pleased to take in our happiness, that you would be desirous of hearing from us, so I was long in hopes that my Sister would be able to have the pleasure of communicating to You some favorable accounts with respect to herself. In these lingering and uncertain disorders, we are ready to flatter ourselves they may take some favorable turn, and we are unwilling to add to the concern of our friends by giving them unpleasing advices; and sensible of the Sympathy of Your feelings, I even now am averse from writing, as I would much rather conceal my own troubles than communicate what I am persuaded must give pain to others. But your friendship requires I should make you acquainted with the state of my Sister’s health, though I know it will occasion you concern.
The foundation of her disorder seems to lye in her stomach, which will not bear or digest properly any food. She continues weak and low, is not able to take exercise, nor is She relieved by that She uses, and seems to despair of being better. She is not able to read or write, but moves about, and sits in company. And though She is reduced in her looks, yet She does not appear so bad as would be expected in one who takes so little sustenance, and is so much oppressed as She is by her disorder.
Thank God, the rest of my family are well in health, and Mrs. H. is dayly expecting to lye in. She has always kept up good Spirits and been a support and comfort to me in all my troubles. Many we have undergone together—those of a publick nature were turbulent and allarming; but we were in some degree carried through them by the bustle of action, and having many companions in adversity.
The domestic afflictions and the silent griefs that are felt unseen and retired from the world, can only be supported by the influence of right Principles, and happy it is for us that they afford us consolation under every trouble and distress.
In this retreat, though we have little variety to amuse us, yet we do not find our time hang on our hands. As I have no engagements in publick or private business, I bestow my leisure in reading and writing what I think may tend to the instruction of my children—they are objects of constant care and anxiety, and if I cannot greatly advance their fortune, I will endeavour to fix them in such principles, and train them in such habits, that they may become virtuous and useful members of Society.
I think there is no place has more of the general advantages for the comfortable accommodation of life than Chester, and had I thoughts only of sit[t]ing down in retirement, I should have cast my view that way. But my disposition is active, and the object I have fixed for my employment is a quantity of unimproved land, if I can meet with it.
The pleasures of social intercourse, and the sympathy of affection in a small Society, far over ballance, in my opinion, all the pomp and vain shew of the Capital. In the extensive and dissipated intercourse of the metropolis, the heart can find no resting place, and it must contract the circle of its engagements if it would receive satisfaction itself, or communicate pleasures to others.
I am very sensible we have many friends in your Society, and indeed I think I could feel myself happy almost in any place where I could enjoy an intercourse with so many affectionate friends and well wishers, as I believe I have in your neighbourhood. It is your happiness to be a blessing to the circle around you, to contribute greatly to the pleasure and comfort of your friends, and to chear many a drooping heart. And may you long enjoy your health, and the heart felt satisfaction that arises from the exertion of warm benevolence, and generous friendship.
My Sister desires me to express her particular and grateful sense of all your kindnesses to her. She shed tears at the account I have given of her, saying, She has distressed at the concern it would give her friends. Mrs. H. joins me in every sentiment of respect and regard.
Burcot 7 September 17781
In our retired situation we have little to communicate that can yield entertainment to our friends. Our employments and amusements for the last year have been in a narrow circle; and the greatest pleasure we have had has been in walking across the fields and meeting our boys when they came from school—happy age of health and innocence—the Spirits all alive, the heart uncorrupted. It is [a] great delight to see their disinterested affection, to share in their joys. Thank God they come on as well as can be expected and I trust will be comforts to Us. Having no engagements of publick or private business, I endeavour to employ my time in the best manner I can, with an eye to their improvement. I am no sportsmen, have neither dog, nor Gun. Indeed, I cannot see to shoot. However, I have great delight in roving over the fields, with my book in my hand, and we have many pleasant walks, and fine prospects about us, and we pick up a good deal of comfort in our retreat, and our little companions make our enjoyments sweet and pretious to us. We are not exposed to many rude intruders, but are blessed with the two most comfortable fireside companions, Simplicity and Sympathy.
[Henry Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Mrs. Lightbody Liverpool
Burcot 8 September 17781
I was much obliged to You for the favor of two letters I received from You at Chester, and I should esteem myself very happy to be in the neighbourhood of such desirable friends as those of your family. The sympathy of communication with those who feel for us is great consolation, and alas! We each of us have those trials, as make us acquire comfort and support from affectionate friends.
Your kind letter to my Sister of the 15th August was duely received, and she is much penetrated with Your goodness and affection to her, but her state of health will not admit of her writing. And indeed, I have not found that she has received relief in her disorders from the change of air, and new objects, and she herself seems to despair of being better; and it is matter of great trouble to see the pain that one cannot aswage, the distress that one cannot relieve. During this time I have been in constant anxiety for Mrs H., who has wonderfully supported her spirits and borne up to the time of her relief with great fortitude. She was happily delivered of another fine boy on Sunday morning, the 6th instant, and thank God both the Parent and child are in the way to do well.
With a family of five boys, I cannot but have many anxieties for their future welfare, and as I have no engagements at present in publick or private business, I bestow my leisure in the way I think may best answer to their improvement.
I should wish to be more actively employed, to be more useful to them, and the publick, but as providence has cast my lot in this situation, I endeavour not to pass my time altogether unproffitably. I have a desire that my Children should reap some advantage from my having lived; that they should be distinguished by liberal endowments, and virtuous improvements; and would flatter myself that if in future life they find advantages from the benefits of a right cultivation, they may reflect with pleasure that they owed something to the example and precepts of their father.
I am much concerned to hear that Miss Lightbody has been so poorly, and hope she will find benefit by the Waters, and& that all your young family will be comforts to you. We are deprived of some blessings to teach us not to trust in any earthly good others are spared to us to chear and solace us in our journey, and happy for as amidst the evils of life, that there is a sure rock on which we may stand unmoved.
[Henry Hulton to Thomas Cotgreave]
Burcot 13 January 17791
Mr. Cotgreave Chester
I received Your kind favor of the [blank] and am much obliged to You for the great regard You shew me, and very sensible of the nature of your friendship. From the experience of the world we are taught to prize those connections which are founded in truth and sincerity; and it is great comfort to be esteemed and cherished in more advanced life by those who have known us from our early years. I have long lived remote from youthful connections, and those of that day are continually dropping off.
From the unpromising accounts you had received of my Sister’s state of health, You will not doubt have been expecting to hear of her dissolution. She endured a great deal for many months, and it pleased God to release her a few days ago from the pains and miseries of mortality, and from the hopes we may entertain of her we may consider the exchange as happy to her, though awful and affecting to Us. But indeed, to those who can look forward with the hope of the Christian, there is great consolation under every evil of life, and the death of friends, though depriving us of much comfort in our welfare, yet may be supported by faith, which assures us that it is only a dark passage to a glorious state—that it frees us from pain and sorrow to transport us to happiness eternal. May this be our consolation under the severest trials; and may we look forward with joy, and persevere with truth and faithfulness to the end.
[Henry Hulton to Mrs. Hincks]
Burcot 13 January 17791
Mrs. F. Hincks Chester
The long duration of my Sister’s illness, and the little hopes that could be entertained of her recovery, made us only pray that her latter end might be made easy to her. She endured a great deal for many months, but for some weeks past had been gradually declining, and seemed freer from pain than heretofore. For several days She appeared composed and resigned, and, on Saturday evening, quietly exchanged this world for a better—happy exchange—from the dogs of mortality—from the pains and distresses of human Nature, to the felicity of heaven. “To the faithful there ariseth up light in the darkness.”2 And amidst the present gloom and distress, I can cheer myself with the glorious prospect of a blessed immortality, where all tears shall be wiped from the eyes; where there shall be no more sickness or pain; no more Sin, or Sorrow—Blessed State—where we may once again hope to meet our dear and worthy relatives; and where the smiles of the Redeemer shall chear the faithful to eternity.
Let us not then mourn as they without hope—Let us consider the day of the departure of our virtuous friends out of this World as the day of their admission to light, to life, and glory—Let us plume our wings and look forward with joy, and follow with persevering steps, they who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.
Burcot, near Wells, Somersetshire
13 January 17791
From the unpromising accounts which You will have received from time to time of my Sister’s state of health, I doubt not You will have been expecting to hear the melancholy tidings I have now to communicate. She is released from the pains and sorrows of mortality; and considering the long duration of her sufferings, the event, though mournful to us, may be esteemed happy to her; and we may mitigate our sorrow from the hopes we may entertain of her having made an happy exchange.
It is these circumstances that call forth the trial of our faith. It is in these circumstances that we reap the fruit of it. There is great consolation in considering our dear and worthy friends as being gone a little while before Us to a state of happiness, to which we are every day nearer approaching. There is great comfort in looking forwards with steadfast hope through the gloom that is around Us to a future state of felicity, where we hope to meet again with those who were dear to Us, and enjoy an happiness uninterrupted by Sin, by pain, or Sorrow.
I often think on the last words of my late worthy friend, Colonel Martin of Antigua, when I took leave of him in that Island. “You leave me (says he) like a “Mercury on the house top, with my wings expanded towards heaven, and only one foot on the earth.” Happy state of the mind, to be so disposed; may we in like manner endeavour to have our affections so engaged, and hold ourselves so prepared.
Mrs. Hulton desires to join m[e in] best respects to Yourself and the Young Ladies, and I remain with great esteem and regard,
Your most obedient
and most humble Servant
Burcot 10 April 17791
Mrs. F. Hincks Chester
I received Your favor of the 27th Ultimo, and am only sorry that You were obliged to make it so short from increasing infirmities, as it always gives me pleasure to hear from you, and to be informed of Your and our other friends’ welfare. I am, however, very glad to know that You are much better than you have been, and to hear that All is so well and comfortably fixed. You are both of You happy in enjoying good Spirits. May they still chear you through the growing infirmities of mortality, and may you be supported by the sweet foretaste of future happiness—my idea of which is that it will be a progressive State; that it will depend very much on our present correction of the heart, and culture of the mind; and that he who brings his will most in conformity to the will of heaven, who receives corrections as mercies, and uses blessings as trusts to be accounted for, will be in the happiest state hereafter.
In this view I see the hand of heaven with gratitude in directing my lot. Through what perils of body and Soul have I not been led? And thank God, I am now enjoying a quiet repose, free from noisy intruders, with many sweet domestic comforts and Leisure for improvement. Though I have no business to engage me, I feel no lassitude or weariness, or even have an hour on my hands.
The mind that is rightly disposed can never want for proffitable occupation; and it is only from feeling its own weakness and barrenness, or, what is worse, seeking to fly from its own reflections, that it is so frequently on the wing of dissipation.
I have now finished what I proposed writing for my Children and have bound up three Volumes of what I call sketches on various Subjects.
As we advance in life, old connections drop off, and new cares, new anxieties arise, and but for these I should be very content to withdraw from the tumultuous world: but having these young plants to rear, I think my first business now is to assist in forming their minds, to endeavour to fit them for usefulness in life, and to forward their future establishment; and these duties may call me out to further activity.
Burcot 9 October 17791
Thos. Cotgreave Esq. Chester
It would be great comfort to us to be near the Society of so valuable a friend. I have really a great sense of all the kindness and attachment You have shewn to me.
In the course of my wanderings in the world I have had a very large acquaintance with persons of different countries, professions, and characters. I had some valuable German friends who are dead, or remote. Some others that I respected are dead; and now I have few friends remaining, and except my connexions by marriage, I should almost be alone in the midst of London. Many who set out with me in life have got the start of me, but I am persuaded that none of them are more happy than myself. The world may be made to contribute greatly to our pleasure and comfort in our passage through life, but the World can never make our happiness, if it is only sought there.
We live in retirement, with much domestic comfort, and thank God all my family enjoy health, and the young folks are docile and promise to be blessings to us, and my chief amusement is in writing what I hope will hereafter be read by them with pleasure and improvement. What they may pass through often gives me great anxiety. I know from experience somewhat of the combat, the troubles, and temptations of the world; and I would wish to form their minds and guard their hearts in some measure against the day of trial, and must console myself in commenting, and trusting them to him, whose grace alone can be sufficient for them.
[Henry Hulton to Sukey Hincks]
Burcot November 17791
Miss Sukey Hincks Chester
By a letter from Mrs. J. Hincks I am acquainted with the loss You have sustained; and I sincerely sympathize with You under Your affliction, and wish it was in my power to alleviate Your grief, to comfort and relieve.
The sympathy of friends that are present may sooth[e] the heart under its affliction. The communication with those that are remote will renew, but does not assuage our grief: however, in the tribute we pay to the memory of our deceased friends, we gratify the noblest sentiments of the heart. It is a sorrow mingled with delight to contemplate their Characters.
The Parent You have lost gave an example of the Power of the Principles She professed, by the chearfulness of temper and resignation of will with which She supported afflictions and trials. And now that You are called out to experience some of the like troubles and difficulties, may you be supported under them—may you be animated to tread in her steps. And may you put your confidence in him who is alone able to save; and may he be Your Shield and consolation.
Poor A. W. has seen most of her relatives go before her. She may almost be ready to cry out, “why do his Chariot wheels delay their coming,”2 “yet a little while, and he that shall come will come.”3 And under pressing infirmities, though we cannot glorfiy our maker by action, yet we may by resignation. “Thy will be done,” is always an acceptable testimony of our obedience, be it for life, or death.4
I apprehend by Your late loss that You must be straitened in Your circumstances. I wish it was in my power to make them easy to You. If five pounds per Annum can be of any Service, I shall feel happy in Your accepting it. And when I draw some small rents at Chester, shall remit that Sum for You.
[Henry Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Burcot 11 November 17791
Mrs. A. Lightbody Liverpool
The very kind favor of Your Letter in answer to mine, acquainting You of the death of my Sister deserved an earlier acknowledgment. And the account of your then late indisposition required my more early congratulations on your recovery. Indeed, I take an interest in Your and your family’s welfare, and should be happy we were so situated as to have a frequent communication with You. But having little to write from this State of retirement, and being (as every one else must be) depressed with the unpromising appearance of affairs, I was lo[a]th to send a copy of my mind in such circumstances. However, there is a consolation even in the communication of our Sorrows to those who feel for us; and he who can vent his griefs to a sympathizing heart is half relieved.
I had lately a letter from Chester acquainting me with the death of Aunt Hincks. She is removed from the trials and difficulties with which She was exercised here, and which She supported with so much Christian cheerfulness and fortitude, to the reward that is promised to the patient continuer in well[-]doing. I am much concerned for poor Cozin Sukey, and have written to her.
In the present state of our family we are as well in this situation as we could desire. We have some Society in Wells, though we know little of what passes elsewhere. But though all around us is gloomy and hostile, we have a Sunshine about our dwelling, and peace and comfort at our fire side. Our five boys are fine docile children—the youngest is named George. This is their day of innocence and joy. They know nothing of the corruptions of the heart. They are not aware what they are to struggle with in a troublesome and crafty world, but all these trials and difficulties arise to the imagination of the Parent: and the tear starts in the eye, when it is considered what such as yet amiable creatures may fall into from the temptations of the world, and the corruptions of their Nature. But I recollect that I have myself been a brand snatched out of the fire; and I trust that the same good providence that has so wonderfully preserved and favored me, will bless and direct these little ones.
After losses and disap[p]ointments, and unoccupied with business I should have been a prey to chagrin, and melancholy ideas in this retirement form the world if I had not engaged my mind in some rational Study.
My disposition leads me to be active, and in publick business I laboured much; in my solitude I never dropt my pen—indeed, I think time so valuable that every hour ought to be put to some use for ourselves, or others.
With this disposition, I have written and put together some Volumes of Sketches for my Children; and of late I have made extracts from the Scriptures, and am writing reflections thereon for their use, and my own.
Man engaged in the business, or pleasures of the World, neglects the most important of all concerns; he lives and dies a Stranger to himself.
There is no subject that opens such wonderful scenes to our contemplation as the consideration of our Nature and end. There is no book that can inform and satisfy us thereon but the Bible. The improvement I derive from the Study thereof and the satisfaction I feel in these exercises are great. Such employments call forth the faculties of the mind [and] the affections of the heart—they bring a man to a more intimate acquaintance with his Maker and himself. And as according to my ideas, the dispositions of mind and the habits we contract here will be the qualifications for our happiness, or the causes of our misery hereafter, so I think the entering into the invisible world as much as we can on earth is a main consolation under the troubles of this life, and a great means of fit[t]ing us for future felicity.
I would endeavour to please the imagination, and animate the passions; to shew that there is more of novelty and entertainment; more improvement to the understanding, and consolation to the heart, in such contemplations than in any other.
It gives me pleasure to hear of Your domestic comfort; may Your amiable daughters ever be blessings to You.
I am obliged to You for the general intelligence You write me, since which I have hardly heard any thing from Your part. I shall be obliged to You to suffer the box of papers to remain in Your garret, and to let any other things be sold.
[Henry Hulton to Robert Nicholson]
Burcot 11 November 17791
Mr. Robt. Nicholson Liverpool
The sameness of life in which my time passes in this retirement gives me little occasion to write to my friends, and the sad state of publick affairs casts such a gloom on one’s mind, that we can receive no pleasure in a communication of our ideas.
However, I would wish now and then to hear of my friends; and every year makes the remainder of old connections more pretious, as it takes away some or other of those who were dear to us in our youth.
I have just been acquainted with the death of my Aunt Hincks, who was a very valuable Woman. She supported severe trials with great chearfulness and resignation, and proved the force of the Principles She professed. We are all of us exercised in some measure or other; and no doubt these things are necessary to discipline, prove and train us, that we may be weaned from this World and fitted for a better Society before our departure out of it.
We who have many young folks to bring forward into the World have a great weight on our Spirits. What a World it is in which they are to enter? How difficult to unite the great concerns! to guard their morals, and advance their interests—to procure the present good, and promote their future happiness. Alas! The future is seldom made an object, if the present can be obtained.
Burcot 3 February 17801
Thos. Cotgreave Esq. Chester
I have been a considerable time looking out for an improvable Estate, which I might occupy with a prospect of advantage to my family, and I have at length met with one much to my mind in Wiltshire, bordering on Hampshire. It is a leasehold farm of upwards 800 Acres in a ring fence, and has been reducing in its value through the mismanagement of needy Tenants. I have agreed for the purchase, and am looking out for a house in the neighbourhood, as there is only a farm house on the Estate.
This business will new cast our lot, and give me full employment for some years to come; but it is in my opinion the most healthy, pleasant, and rational of any I could pursue; and I do not doubt it will be proffitable.
The mind must be employed; and when we see agreeable objects rising and improving dayly in our view, the appearance of which has been greatly assisted by our own industry, it is a source of great satisfaction to the mind. Making the barren field to smile with cultivation, seeing the increase of flocks and herds, and the giving employment to many industrious poor, are all grateful sensations; and in doing these the mind will have more pleasing reflections, than from any pursuits in the paths of ambition, or glory.
[Henry Hulton to Thomas Cotgreave]
Burcot 18 March 17801
It was with great concern that I received the account of the melancholy event communicated in Your letter of the 11th instant.
I sympathise sincerely with You in Your affliction, and can image the severity of Your distress to be seperated from one with whom You had been united by the tenderest affection from infant years.
We are all of us ready to offer arguments to compose the mind labouring under affliction; but it is difficult to be reconciled to the severe stroke when it affects ourselves, though it is the unavoidable lot of humanity to undergo it. And in vain do we seek for consolation under it, if we are not supported by the principles of Christianity. They carry us beyond the present scene, and enable us to realize futurity. They reconcile us to the loss of every present good, and to our own departure out of life. Under their influence the time of separation from our friends appears only a short interval; and we anticipate the joyful union again—the glorious morn of the resurrection, and behold ourselves and them rising free from the incumberances of mortality to life, to light, and glory.
The best consolation under the loss of our friends is to have this hope in their death; and the best encouragement to resignation under present trials and afflictions is to keep this prospect in view for ourselves; and I am confident you enjoy both these sources of comfort.
[Henry Hulton to Elizabeth Lightbody]
Blissmore Hall near Andover
13 July 17801
Mrs. E. Lightbody Liverpool
The receipt of Your favour of the 9th Ultimo gave me great pleasure. It came to hand a little before I left my late habitation, and we have been so much harried with packing and unpacking and the business of our farms that I have scarce had an hour of leisure since.
I feel very much for the family of my late worthy friend, Mr. R. Nicholson, and wish it was in my power to yield better consolation than words.2
From the calamities of war, added to the ordinary troubles of life, we have been called out to a deal of suffering in ourselves and friends; and I heartily sympathize with all those who feel the rod of affliction; but we have it from the best authority that it is good for us, and I wish we may all of us improve the evils of life to our spiritual advantage. I hope in your family You are to experience an increase of happiness. May every branch of it in the connections they form be united with persons worthy of them, and be blessings to You and to the world.
These young ones are sources of pleasure, are objects of constant care and anxiety. In their welfare we are so much interested, that we can hardly form an idea of happiness to ourselves seperate from it. Yet on how many delicate circumstances does their success or misfortune in life depend. The management of their bodies, the right culture and disposition of their minds, their early habits, and intimate connections, all influence their future well or ill being.
I wish You were nigher to Us, and should think myself happy in a frequent communication with you. We have each our cares and our troubles. They would be lighten[ed] by communication; for next to the consolation of heaven, is the commerce of liberal, honest, and sympathizing minds.
Thank God, I am blessed with a worthy partner in my cares, and with as yet promising and dutiful children.
Blissmore Hall 1 September 17801
Dr. Percival Manchester
Though I have not have the pleasure of hearing from You of a long time, yet I have had some tokens of your remembrance, and am obliged to You for your communications.
My intercourse with Your part is lessening every year. I lament the loss of several valuable friends since I was last favored with a letter from you, and would wish to cherish those that remain, and to have now and then the satisfaction of hearing of their welfare. I condole with you in your particular losses, and hope the remaining branches of your family will be spared to be comforts to You.
I had for a considerable time been looking out to purchase a large tract of improvable land, and at length met with a farm, to my mind containing near 1000 Acres, which I bought, and have removed my family from Wells to this place, in the neighbourhood of my farm.
It was matter of concern to me to be so long unemployed, and as we are still in a State of uncertainty as to our publick Service, I thought engaging in my present Scheme was the best use I could make of my time.
From the change of circumstances in life, we are called out at different periods, to the exertion of different virtues, and it is good for us to be so disciplined, and trained.
The pursuits of Science are pleasing, but activity is a duty, and Spirit is necessary to carry us through the toil and combat of the world. For myself, I would give up all views of worldly advantages for the pleasures of reading and writing; but I have many others to be interested for, and therefore I must not give way to chagrin from past discouragements and disap[p]ointments, but still exert myself in some way to be useful. How wise is the order of providence! To rouse us from indolence to duty by necessity.