25 November 1771135

    Messieurs EDES & GILL,

    Please to insert the following,

    To the Man whom Conscience forbids to stile my Governor.


    A Patriot Prince on his death bed left this sage admonition to his heir; “Beware my son of doing wrong to any one yourself; or of suffering any one (particularly your servant) to do wrong to others: For one wrong done or connived at by you, will produce a million by its example; and each of these will multiply others, in their justification or defence.”

    How happy had it been for you, Sir, had you made this sentiment your own at setting out in life! The moderate share of genius you possess, if warmed with a love of Right, and animated with that benevolence for your fellow creatures, which exalts the human mind above its little self, would have rendered you beloved, if not considerably admired.

    Give me leave, Sir, to imagine your undebauched heart then glowing towards your countrymen with the feelings of a christian, and judgment of a man. What rapture would have returned upon your mind from considering yourself in league with the Deity, an instrument in his hand to diffuse his blessings impartially among his people? A virtuous habit, would have preserved a humane sympathy with every sensitive being within your knowledge.

    This you may say would have given you trouble and some degree of pain, but surely the pleasures arising from that peace which passeth all understanding, would have been to you an exceeding great reward.

    Are riches the desire of your eyes? In the right hand of wisdom and virtue are riches, yea, durable riches, and pleasures for evermore—Does power inflame your ambition? Consider you can be but a subordinate ruler, you must please a master, or be at lest ‘dismissed and punished’, let the denunciation seem as grating to you as it will; and who so great, so powerful or honorable a master as the King of Kings, who requires you on pain of his highest displeasure, to govern this great people as one that must give an account? The meanest peasant is as much the darling of heaven as the finest courtier—Is honor (a good name) better to you than silver? You cannot certainly expect much of this, from ensuring to yourself the reputation of having the principal hand in subverting the constitution of your country—Is a good conscience a most cordial companion through life, and a comforting stay to the soul, when, sublunary things receeding, the DIVINITY enlarges upon the mind? This is only to be maintained in doing unto others, as by change of circumstance you would wish them to do unto you. A timely check to the rabies dominandi which early infected your mind, would have secured you all these. But alas such a conquest as this was too hard for a stripling, who early confessed he had sucked prerogative milk, and observed it would never be good times till the landed interest was got into few hands—Who with the celebrated Claudia felt always a sovereign contempt for the scoundrel mob, meaning by these the bulk of the citizens.

    Were you ignorant of the numberless and inconceivable calamities, usurpation, tyranny and oppression, inevitably bring upon a brave & free people, I should pity your head, & in some measure excuse your heart. But I presume you would as readily ruin me for discovering a doubt of your capacity as integrity, or may I add, humanity? Indeed while I am upon that head, I know not how I can expect to escape destruction from you in one shape or other, if you proceed in the manner you are now said to be going on. If you can of your own motion, without the pretence of one iota of authority for it, erect yourself and as many as you please of your council into a court of judicature, and barely on suspicion, hale a gentleman before you to answer for an affront pretended to be offered yourself: Nay some go so far as to say, that even during this process pendente lite136 before you, the same atrocious crime (no doubt as dangerous to the very being of government, as was the modest address to governor Bernard, which made so much noise a day or two) is to be bro’t by information before another tribunal. It also seems the matter is to be remarkably hurried along, and threats we hear are given out, that if any attorney dares to vindicate the publication, he shall be thrown over the bar. Here Sir, my text most remarkably applies itself. How terrible a thing is it for a little tyrant to begin a deviation from the beaten path of his duty! One would think that a people who in seven years had been declared controulable in every action, taxable i. e. deprivable of every farthing, liable to the imposition of an indefinite number of revenue officers, invested with such powers as destroy utterly the notion of a man’s house being his castle, and this too augmented by the virtue of those baleful death warrants to the constitution, called writs of assistance, to all the wanton exertions of a pretended prerogative in the hands of a ministerial creature, to a fleet and standing army to carry these dreadful measures into execution; to a seizure of the principal fortress in the dominion, and garrisoning it with troops utterly independent of the legislature of the province; to the virtual, absolute incapacitation of that legislative to act with any efficacy, for the protection of the rights of their constituents; one I say would have thought that such a people allowed to be sensible enough, in all the foregoing trials of temper, would hardly be irritated anew, with an entire invasion of every remaining security that ever a Caracalla or a Dionisius of Sicily could wish to deprive them of at once.137 If perhaps one oppression will make a wise man mad, what must be the outrage and despair of a people over whom the coercive power is absolute, and by them uncontroulable; where grievances may be multiplied by millions, and even the most fundamental of them cannot be so much as enquired into without exposing a worthy citizen to the unconstitutional hardship of suffering a persecution in the Star-Chamber mode of prosecuting by information, and even then deprived of counsel for his defence: If menaces of loss of living, can deter men of conscience and spirit from stemming the torrent which aims to sweep off the last resource of the wretched, the opportunity of complaint; surely, Sir, these steps are alarming; these strides are very rapid.

    What hope, Sir, have we left, if our representatives are reduced to cyphers, with whom it seems you have very little business, however universal and earnest be the complaints of the people of a long neglect of most interesting matters to them: If our courts of Justice be filled with expectants, of whose behavior no Printer is by me requested to advertise the world, having already thoroughly established its own reputation, without the pains. If denied of that inestimable and indefeasible birthright of an Englishman, which secures to him his liberty and fame, ‘till a majority of twenty-four of the grand inquest of his county find him guilty of a crime, if put to the difficulty of sending to another government for lawyers to defend us, and after that harassed with prosecutions in such distant countries as are supposed to have pliant jurors?

    You know, Sir, that to prevent such cruel treatment of man to man as this, government itself was instituted; and I cannot realise it yet, that you could bear to contemplate the horror and confusion, perhaps carnage and desolation, that might follow such a train of most glaring injustice and intolerable stretch of power!

    Your party gives out that you have not a fair chance if a bill is presented to a grand jury, having found the aversion of these sort of people to the star chamber law of libels, which holds the truest representation of the villainy of any ruler to be the most false, scandalous and seditious libel upon government itself. Had you compared small things with great, you might have been ashamed to have attacked the press for telling you in a pretty indeterminate hypothetical way, what all the world believes true to a tittle. The very notice you take of it confirms it to every one! Call me a seditious incendiary, a fellow of no property who aims at nothing but a revolution in the state that he may enrich himself with the substance of others, I laugh at the pointless invective: And how dirt can stick to such excellent hands, as some say you possess, rather than mine, may be accounted for by your vindicators, if any of them please to undertake it. Your master has been treated with ten times the freedom you have been, and of late has declared his aversion to meddle with the press any further.

    The King of Prussia ordered the paper which reproach’d him bitterly to be stuck up again; but well does Montesquieu observe that petty sovereigns are much more irritable than great one’s; the reason is plain. But considering the advantage you have over him in one shape, and the uneasy terms on which you hold this odious, this formidable tenure, ‘tis no wonder you endeavor to rid your side of such a pricking thorn. Were I in your place, I would tremble at being tho’t a usurper, and knowing that I was incapable of denying that I held more power than was possibly reconcileable with any idea of freedom in the people I governed. The case between Mucius and you is as short and plain as an honest man could wish.138 Should it be determined by a grand and petty jury of this county, that you are a governor nominated and appointed, only, by the King, and such a one, as holds no powers inconsistent with the liberty and security of men entitled to all the privileges of natural born subjects of Great-Britain, they will undoubtedly find him guilty of writing and publishing a false, scandalous and seditious libel against you. But on the contrary, should they in conscience believe you are in possession of an independency unknown even to your master; and that independency assumed in downright opposition to the will of the people you govern, and exactly reversive of their and your conditions; i. e. that whereas your constitutional condition is that of a servant, your assumed one, is that of an uncontroulable despot, they will be hard set to find the falshood: And if you cannot bear to be told of such attrocious crimes as conspiring the destruction of so great a people, for the gratification of a humour becoming only the Devil himself, to vex and torment; and directed in a like manner more especially at the most noble, disinterested and virtuous members of the community, do not further deserve it.

    All men of sense must be convinced of the badness of your cause when you discover a reluctance to leave it to the legal determination of an impartial grand jury. If you deny they are impartial, the implication is strong against you, that you are driving measures alarming to the whole community; and such as writers ought to be rewarded rather than punished for exposing to every one. They know that a free Press can never hurt an honest man; and I presume the secretion of the crimes of a traitor or usurper from the knowledge of the public, will not yet become a public engagement.

    Could yourself or any one for you, deny a tittle laid to your charge, or set your behaviour in any thing of a better light than we receive it from those authors your tools affect to call the faction, it would certainly be attended to; but the complement of our freedom of complaint, is too important, to be made to any man, much less a man to whom this province feels so little obligation. It would be infernal injustice to hinder your puppey to yelp in proportion to the pain you gave him by trampling on him; and if Englishmen will bear a treatment too base for a puppey, they may yelp to eternity under your tramplings, without the pity or further regard of their much neglected monitor.


    P.S. A certain writer addressing a great man in a situation similar to your’s says, “You have voluntarily abdicated the love of this people, & have rendered yourself too ridiculous to move their fears.” If your privy council persuade you otherwise, pursue your malicious prosecution in your own way, and it will at least ensure the sale of another edition of Zenger’s trial with additions, &c.139