10 January 1774236


    ——— Think on thy country,

    And die in terror of thy guiltiness.


    POLITICALLY speaking, the crime of betraying one’s country is—the unpardonable sin. No guilt more deeply poisons the heart and embitters reflection. What pangs must swell in the breast of a man, in the close of life, who looks back and sees himself—laboring to abridge the liberties of his country, enslaving it’s inhabitants, and procuring the introduction of troops, which insult the civil magistrate and shed the blood of his brethren? What and how exquisite must be his feelings, when he hears young and old imprecate vengeance on his hoary head, and sees his name and progeny blasting with execrations and infamy.

    The man who slanders his neighbour with dark insinuations and aims his distruction in secret, is obnoxious to general odium. But what must be our sentiments of him, who with these weapons deliberately renews the same attack on both individuals and the community?

    In his excellency’s letter of the 18th June 1768, “Mr. Hancock” is first noticed as “a representative of Boston, a wealthy merchant, of great influence over the POPULACE,” whose sloop being seized, the writer informs, “a mob was immediately raised.”

    As the populace ever compose such assemblies, and Mr. Hancock being declared to have great influence over them, is there not the plainest insinuation, that this gentleman was the exciter of this tumult? Now as nothing could be more foreign from the truth, and scarce any thing more known to this informer, was not his design wicked and his mode of attack base?—

    And when we advert to what the same writer says, in a subsequent letter, relative to resentment from Great Britain against PARTICULAR PERSONS, and compare it with a passage in the letter wrote a few days after by his brother Oliver, concerning the TAKING OFF of Incendiaries, is there not great reason to believe, that this “wealthy merchant” was held up as a victim, and that hopes of sharing the plunder of his riches on a confiscation of his estate was the motive of action? Who can doubt that forfeitures and confiscations of this sort were the penalties of another kind, his excellency thought so adequate—so well adapted to the purpose.*

    But we forget the injuries done the private character, when we contemplate the public.

    Whoever reads governor Bernard’s letters, of the 16, 17, and 18th of June 1768, Mr. Hutchinson’s and Paxton’s of the same date, and carefully compares them, can have no doubt, that they wrote in concert, and were each apprized of the purport of the other’s letter: such a comparison will convince the intelligent reader, that the conspiracy was joint, and the guilt of the actors equal, unless the subtlety of Mr. Hutchinson, and his station as chief Justice, aggravate his crime above that of his fellows.238

    There is one instance of union between Paxton and our chief Justice which I do not recollect Bernard to have shared in. Paxton refers his correspondent to “Mr. Hallowell, the comptroller, to inform of many particulars”.† Mr. Hutchinson “begs leave to refer to him (Hallowell) for a more full account.”‡ To give such a sanction to the stories of a man, who went over heated with party-rage and burning with resentment against this country, is such an instance of unfairness and disingenuity, malice and cowardice, as Bernard with all his enormity could not stoop to practice.#

    We find in the 31st page of Mr. Hutchinson’s history, that in 1634, Morton the infamous libeller and public enemy of this colony sent his confidential letters “by a convenient messenger”: like principles and views in this and the last century produce similar actions: Thus we find Hallowell is letter-bearer to the chief Justice and Mr. Commissioner in 1768, as Paxton was for brother Oliver in 1767.*

    His honor Mr. Hutchinson in the above letter, which contains his account of a mob on the 10th of June, affirms, that “NO NOTICE was taken of their extravagance in the time of it, NOR ANY ENDEAVOURS by any authority except the governor, the next day to discover and punish the offenders.” Now it is most certain, that not only the governor, but the council of this province the very next morning after the riot “agreed that an examination should be made into the affair, in order to the discovery and punishment of the offenders;” and “appointed a committee of such members of the board as were qualified to act as justices of the peace in the county of Suffolk to make enquiry into the facts.”† Surely the council were an authority, and their proceedings a notice which militate with the account and veracity of this American correspondent.

    In what way consistent with either conscience or honor can we acquit this letter writer;—whose station as Chief Justice ought not only to have preserved him from such high crimes, but have kept him perfectly immaculate from the little base views and enterprizes of party. But so far was this gentleman from keeping his mind untinctured with the feuds of the times, he enters deeply into party pursuits, and in other passages of this very letter, his heart appears fraught with rancor against the council and the town of Boston, and his writings, invite the resentment of the British administration.

    I know that it has been said; I know his Excellency has said, “that these were private letters—wrote before he came to the chair—and expressly confidential!”‡

    That the letters were written when Mr. Hutchinson was not governor, but chief justice, that they were secret and confidential, in my mind, adds a tenfold guilt. The gentleman to whom these writings were addressed was an active member of parliament and a zealous advocate of it’s measures with the colonies. There can be no doubt, from many circumstances besides the letters themselves, that they were intended to have an operation against the people of this province. But I have one reason to suppose they actually had this effect, from certain resolutions of the house of lords, which I do not remember ever to have seen in print.

    Among the Resolves of the Lords, sent by them to the House of Commons in December 1768, I find these following.

    “Thirdly, Resolved by the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament assembled, that it appears that the town of Boston in the province of the Massachusetts-Bay, has for some time past been in a state of great disorder and confusion, and that the peace of the said town has at several times been disturbed by riots and tumults of a dangerous nature, in which the officers of his majesty’s revenue there have been obstructed by acts of violence in the execution of the laws, and their lives endangered.

    Fourthly, Resolved by the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament assembled, that it appears, that neither the council of the said province of Massachusetts-Bay, nor the ordinary civil magistrates did exert their authority for suppressing the said riots and tumults.

    Fifthly, Resolved by the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament assembled, that IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES of the province of the Massachusetts Bay, and of the town of Boston, the preservation of the public peace, & the due execution of the laws BECAME IMPRACTICABLE, without the aid of a military force to support and protect the civil magistrate, and the offenders of his majesty’s revenue.

    Sixthly, Resolved by the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament assembled, that the declarations, resolutions and proceedings in the town meetings at Boston, on the 14th of June and 12th of September, were illegal and unconstitutional, and calculated to excite sedition and insurrections in his majesty’s province of the Massachusetts Bay.

    Seventhly, Resolved by the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament assembled, that the appointment at the town meeting on the 12th of September, of a convention to be held in the town of Boston on the 22 of that month, to consist of deputies from the several towns and districts in the province of the Massachusetts Bay, and the issuing a PRECEPT* by the selectmen of the town of Boston, to each of the said towns and districts, for the elections of such deputies, were proceedings subversive of his majesty’s government, and evidently manifesting a design in the inhabitants of the said town of Boston, to set up a new and unconstitutional authority, independent of the crown of Great Britain.

    Eighthly, Resolved by the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament assembled, that the election by several towns & districts in the province of the Massachusetts-Bay, of deputies to sit in the said convention, and the meeting of such convention in consequence thereof, were daring insults offered to his majesty’s authority, and audacious usurpations of the persons of government.”239

    It is very observable, that the supposed neglect of council and the civil magistrate, of which Mr. Hutchinson gave information in his confidential letters, are those very circumstances, which induced the fifth resolution of the peers; in which they appear to be grossly misinformed, as to solemnly resolve upon an impracticability which never existed in nature.

    We can no longer doubt that Mr. Whately was of a like spirit with his friend, and made use of his American intelligence with a disposition congenial with his correspondent. And as we know that previous to these resolutions, not only the letter of the 18th of June, but divers others of the same hand had reached England, so we are fully satisfied that the troops quartered in this town, the bloodshed and debauchery they introduced, are all placed to his Excellency’s account,—and that in this world and the next he must stand the audit: and let me add in his own words “because it ought to be so.

    The introduction and establishment of British land-forces in this province are replete with the worst consequences: if not driven out from among us, they must in the end destroy not only public liberty and security, but all private morality and piety. They, therefore, who were the prime movers and instruments of this measures, are stained with a crime, that this people ought not—they cannot—they will not forget or forgive.


    [To be continued.]

    * See his Excellency’s Letters in 1769.

    † Letter 18 June, 1768.

    ‡ Letter of the same day.

    # Hutchinson is guilty of the same mean artifice, by referring to Hallowell for information against Mr. Temple in his Letter in August following.

    * See Secretary Oliver’s Letter, 7 May 1767.240

    † See the proceedings and records of Council heretofore published.

    ‡ Message to the House of Representatives.241

    * This is another flagrant evidence of the base misinformation sent from people on this side the water to persons in authority on the other.—Does not this whole province know, that no such precept was ever issued, and that there was not even a colour to pretend that there was?—What punishment too great for SUCH INFORMERS against their country!