8 June 1772146

    “The Serpent, subtlest Beast of all the Field.”147

    I SCARCE ever inspected the face of Mr. H. or considered his conduct in public and private life, but some passage of my beloved Milton came to my mind. And however “doubtful or equivocal” his behavior may appear to the gullable* and gaping, he is easily ’kenned and seen thro’ by the sagacious and penetrating. Worldly policy and serpentine insinuation have in general been his characteristicks: these have so often served his turn, and a dolt must become so considerable an adept by practice, that when he obviously stumbles out of his common track, I suspect he is ridden by a superannuated driver, or urged on by one, who has been a blunderer from the beginning.

    It was Mr. H’s business on his meeting the general assembly at Cambridge on Election-Day, to sooth and conciliate: Accordingly this gentleman sets out with a formal protestation, that—“in EVERY measure, as far as shall consist with my duty to the King and with the welfare and prosperity of the province, I will chearfully concur with you.” From this we may fairly conclude, that no desire of the Council and House, compatible with these pretended objects of concern, would be non concurred by his Excellency: Undoubtedly he was, and intended to be, so understood: The Council indeed thought proper to thank his excellency for the readiness he expressed to this purpose. Whether it was necessary, politick, prudent, polite, or christian-like to thank a ruler for doing his duty, I am too unskilled in parliamentary forms to say: However the phraseology in the reply is shrewdly indicative of a suspicion not over-favorable to his Excellency’s sincerity.

    The Council with much delicacy and caution proceed explicitly to declare to his Excellency, that “the sitting of the General Court out of Boston is in MANY respects VERY INCONVENIENT”:—And—“therefore pray his Excellency to remove it to the Court House in that Town”—And solemnly deliver it as their opinion, that—“it will be more for his Majesty’s service and the true interest of the Province the Court should be there held.”

    The whole, (and not a favorite, picked and—junto) of the Council are here deliberately giving their Judgment, and are supplicating the chair to advance that service and interest which Mr. H. is pledging his honour and faith that he has at heart.

    A matter of state, in “many respects very inconvenient,” and incompatible with the highest interest of king and people, must be “very grievous” to their honest representatives. In this sentiment the House concur with the second branch of government, and accordingly make their reply;—and as his Excellency had not acted correspondent to the same impressions, they are CONSTRAINED earnestly to request a removal to Boston as a matter of the greatest public advantage.

    No reasonable person could expect or desire that the Council and House should be more cautious, civil and polite. His Excellency, had he been the man he pretends himself to be, would have here closed, droped the controversy, and instantly prorogued the assembly to Boston. But with an ostentatious solemnity, he formally takes “the matter into consideration”, and declares with seeming sincerity, that “if it shall not appear to him necessary for his Majesty’s service and the good of the province to continue the court in some other place than the town of Boston, he will remove it there.

    Let us consider this conduct: One who fills the seat of Governor surely ought not to answer a message he does not fully understand, or pass his word without intending to perform it. The necessity of his Majesty’s service and the good of the province is the standard to determine the Court’s continuance out of Boston. If there is no such necessity, Mr. H. promises to gratify the House and remove the assembly to Boston. Now we presume that it is incumbent upon his Excellency to show forth this necessity, or fulfill his declaration. A failure in either of these points will leave casuists to decide between an egregious blunder or a worse falsehood.

    Three days consideration are had upon the afore-mentioned necessity; this necessity, we therefore conclude, was discovered, if it existed. If it was discovered, his Excellency had nothing to do, but to show it, and the matter would of course end: there is no pretence of any such discovery; we have therefore a right from this alone to suppose there is no such necessity, and further from our own knowledge, we affirm there is none in nature or sound policy. His Excellency, his dependants and expectants, are therefore now to clear his truth from suspicion. Prove this necessity—or give up his veracity.

    His Excellency raises a doubt, for what end others must conjecture; but for my own part I tho’t this necessity was the criterion; and if so, what need of solving a question of words:—I say, a doubt is raised, whether the House intended the convening of the assembly at Cambridge when Mr. H. first removed it there, or the convening this year. Now I will venture to affirm no man of common sense could have any doubt about the matter; and whether his Excellency had any in his own mind, people will believe with discretion. The House thought and declare, with the approbation of nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand of their constituents, that “all expressions in their message are sufficiently clear and plain, and that it is needless to make any explanation of them.”

    But I have some other reasons, besides that of believing Mr. H. a man of good common sense, which make me a little uncharitable in this instance: I will mention one.

    His Excellency “the first time he removed the assembly from Boston, did not in the PARLIAMENTARY sense of the word CONVENE the assembly at Cambridge.

    Every statesman knows, that this word convene as used in parliament, is a technical expression; and no doubt was thus used by the house in it’s peculiar and appropriate sense, which must preclude all honest pretence of doubt upon the subject. However, would it cleanse Mr. H.s’ reputation to admit that there might be made a doubt on this head? I think not.

    In the first place, the rules of construction in law, reason, and charity are to take words in their best sense; had Mr. H. been what his station denotes him, the father of this people, he would have so done. Further, it is past the art of man to make any just inference from that message, injurious to the service of the King or his prerogative—those darlings, to which all that is truly desireable must be sacrificed. All pretext is therefore taken away; all that quibbling is able to except to, turns our to be a bare non-appearance:—“It does not appear to us, that there was any necessity” say the house—For heaven’s sake! Is the declared non-appearance of a matter of necessity to be a foundation for the denial of the united request and prayer of the LORDS and COMMONS of this land?—A declaration made too by those, who are the constitutional guardians of the people, the legal advisers and councellors of the first magistrate! Into what times are we fallen? NO BRITISH MONARCH EVER DARED THE LIKE EXPERIMENT.—INDEPENDANCE—insult,—oppression—and madness from the beginning were inseperable!


    *He who does not like the Word may substitute another.