3 January 1774232


    Stand back, thou manifest CONSPIRATOR.

    ——— Tell me what they deserve,

    That do conspire our Death with devilish plots?

    ————— O conspiracy!

    Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough,

    To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy,

    Hides it IN SMILES and AFFABILITY.


    GREAT pains have been taken to bring his Excellency out of the company with whom he is found, and to save him from sharing the guilt of those with whom he has openly and SECRETLY associated himself. This is no doubt renouncing the conduct of many as, indefensible to save one from his just portion of ignominy and reproach. But it was no doubt good policy to consign the minor villains to shame and infamy, if this would reinstate their leader in favor and influence.

    But I never yet could discern any propriety in judging the conduct of a band of conspirators separate and apart, the one from the other, when all appear, from beginning to end, jointly conspiring to the same purpose, adopting the same measures and acting in the closest union and concert.

    If a gang of robbers combine to attack my house, and each agrees upon his separate part; if they unite in the plot, and when they come to the time of execution;—one watches my door, another enters my house, a third rifles my family, and a fourth sheds my blood;—while the rest stand without for the purpose of carrying on the common plan;—surely they must be all equally guilty in the eye of reason and common sense. And what difference is there, between those, who assist in the invasion of a private edifice, and they who attack the public building of the Commonwealth;—between those who rifle and destroy my house, and those who plunder and overturn the fabrick of the state? Surely none, which makes in favor of any one of the assailants, or can exempt from a common abhorrence and punishment, any member of the combination.

    Not one of the advocates (base and shameless as they have been) for the chief conspirator against our laws and liberties hath ever so much as mentioned a word (to my knowledge) in defence or justification of the writings and conduct of Oliver, Hallowell or Paxton.234 Yet what was this triumvirate without their hero? Oliver was too timid to be formidable, Hallowell too much the man of arms to be an assassin; and Paxton too contemptible to be regarded. Hallowell would have crossed the ocean, harmless & unnoticed as any other seaman, without a political letter of credit from the governor; Paxton might have frothed the “open rebellion of Boston,”* & remained as little regarded, as when he fawned or flattered, without countenance from the same personage, & a recommendation from his Excellency’s brother “as a good friend”;† and Oliver would have trembled to lisp a “a taking off incendiaries”‡ had not his Excellency talked of “marks of parliamentary resentment to the province in general or PARTICULAR PERSONS”—and gave his sanction—that “IT OUGHT TO BE SO.”#

    THE PRESENT GOVERNOR, therefore, I consider as the great CAPITAL OFFENDER:—To him I look as the origin of all our public calamities—because without his aid, his sanction, his authority and influence, our public enemies would have remained a paltry few, a spiritless body, a despicable cabal.

    Thus whenever we scrutinize the manoeuvres of the sub-confederates—we ought to attend to their connexions and accomplices:—We shall ever find the grand mover of their mischievous operations lurking in the dark;—for in all the more capital movements, the arch agent keeps himself as much as possible disguised, while, like the master of puppets, he holds the political wire, and directs all the motions—behind the curtain.


    * See his Letter to Whately. [See n. 159 infra.]

    † Letter 13th February 1769.

    ‡ Letter 20th January.

    # Letter 7th May 1767.235

    [To be continued.]