15 September 176874

    Boston September 15th 1768

    Respected Sir,

    Your friendly letter came to hand a few days since, and a leisure moment now presenting, I with pleasure seize the opportunity of hitting off something that may please the fancy “of a partial friend, tho’ probably it will afford but little satisfaction” to his benevolent “mind.”

    The rights and liberrties of Americans become every day more and more the serious object of attention. As political disputation increases, a settlement of the point in question removes further and further from the design of both parties. Private pique, envy, and personal resentment soon preclude a fair and candid discussion, an infernal group of intemperate passions will forever prevent any equitable decision. But, thank God! whatever may be the execrable schemes of ministerial parasites, or popular incendiaries, the Rights of Man stand upon a foundation which (with reverence I affirm) Omnipotence cannot shake. This I hold may be easily demonstrated; if I am indeed mistaken, you, who know my fervent zeal in the cause of an oppressed people, will pardon a too strong expression: the recording Angel, who knows my sincerity, will, it is trusted, “drop a tear and blot it out forever.”75

    The present aspect of the day is gloomy indeed, yet we are far from despair. Though the clouds, full charged, rise thick and fast, the thunders roll, and lightnings play, nay it is said, are just within striking distance, there are not wanting those among us, who believe that proper conductors will safely carry off all the political fluid, the clouds disperse, and the sky soon become calm and serene. Visionaries, you know, are credulous, enthusiasts are bold and enterprizing. Many such, Mr. Eagleson is sensible, inhabit these northern regions.

    We, Americans, have a righteous cause. We know it. The power of Great Britain may oppress, nay, for a time, apparently subdue us. But, before all the free born sons of the North will yield a general and “united submission,” to any tyrannic power on earth, fire and sword, famine and slaughter, desolation and ruin, will ravage the land. When thus I venture, without any pretence to the spirit of prophecy, at a hasty prediction, you will probably smile at my reverie; but, you know political dreamers are the most obstinate and incorrigible of sinners. You will see, by our public prints, the late transactions of this town, and the situation that we are in at present. Daily in expectation of troops, some say three regiments, and seven ships of the line. Opinions differ respecting what might, and what will be, the deportment of this people. On the one hand, a swarm of court dependants, and a standing army in the bowels of a state; in all ages and nations, thought, and found to be the bane of civil freedom. On the other, an open rupture with Great Britain (I had like to have said mother state) is a dreadful alternative.

    But our all is at stake!

    The pulse of the people beats high, and it may well be imagined that in our present state, all ranks among us are much agitated. This therefore may apologize for my not being in a facetious and proper frame of mind to answer some parts of your entertaining letter. To see the daily blunders which are committed, and the deep tragedy which is now acting on the political theatre, and not to be moved, is to be an unfeeling wretch indeed. If the contempt and indignation of every sensible and humane man in Christendom, was sufficient to explode a political system, there would be some hopes of seeing “Venice preserved and the plot discovered.”76

    But waving politicks, we rejoice with all the heartiness of honest friends, at your promising settlement. May friend Eagleson always be provided with something to moisten the clay, and support the tabernacle, in the laundry and cellar—“till superstition, bigotry and oppression shall be banished the world and all mankind on the genuine principles of universal benevolence write heart, and hand, hailing the halcyon days of peace and concord, and singing with the shepherd”

    “Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas,

    Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.

    Iam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna:

    Iam nova progenies Ca[e]lo dimittur alto!”77

    Josiah Quincy junr.