26 March 1770112

    Boston March 26th 1770

    Honoured Sir

    I have little leisure and less inclination, either to know or to take notice of those ignorant slanderers, who have dared to utter their “bitter reproaches” in your hearing against me, for having become an advocate for criminals charged with murder. But the sting of reproach, when envenomed only by envy and falsehood will never prove mortal.—Before pouring their reproaches into the ear of the aged and infirm, if they had been friends, they would have surely spared a little reflection, on the nature of an attorney’s oath, and duty.—Some trifling scrutiny into the business and discharge of his office and some small portion of patience in viewing my past and future conduct.

    Let such be told, Sir, that these criminals charged with murder, are not yet legally proved guilty: and therefore however criminal, are entitled by the laws of God, and man, to all counsel and legal aid.—That my duty as a man obliged me to undertake, that my duty as a lawyer strengthened the obligation. That from abundant caution, I, at first declined being engaged, but that after the best advice and most mature deliberation had determined my judgment, I waited on Captain Preston and told him that I would afford him my assistance, but prior to this, in presence of two of his friends, I made the most explicit declaration to him of my real opinion, on the contests (as I expressed it to him) of the times, and that my heart and hand, were indissolubly attached to the cause of my country; and finally, that I refused all engagement, until advised and urged to undertake it by an Adams, a Hancock, a Molineux, a Cushing, a Henshaw, a Pemberton, a Warren, a Cooper and a Phillips.113

    This, and much more might be told with great truth, and I dare affirm that you, and this whole people will one day rejoice that I became an advocate for the aforesaid “criminals,” charged with the murder of their fellow citizens.

    I never harboured the expectation, nor any great desire, that all men should speak well of me. To enquire my duty, and do it, is my aim. Being mortal, I am subject to error, and conscious of this I wish to be diffident. Being a rational creature, I judge for myself according to the light afforded me—When a plan of conduct is formed with an honest deliberation, neither murmuring, slander or reproaches move—For my single self, I consider—judge—and with reason, hope to be immutable.

    There are honest men in all sects. I wish their approbation. There are wicked bigots in all parties. I abhor them.

    I am truly, and affectionately your son

    Josiah Quincy junr.