17 January 1774242


    Meet it is, I here set down,

    That one may smile, & smile, and be A VILLAIN:

    ——- And with this visage sugar o’er



    SUBTERFUGE and evasion are the true characteristics of a little mind;—and so are falshood and cowardice. Such artifices are but temporary expedients which great souls scorn to use: like base coin they may pass currently with the ignorant and incautious for a short time, but the cheat is soon discovered; and the impostor is punished and remains infamous for life. Thus he who practices the low arts of political cunning will in the end be detected and sink into contempt, unless his crimes and his station consign him to an exemplary punishment and everlasting infamy.

    His excellency, in his message to the house of representatives of the 9th of June, affirms that “there is not one passage in them (his letters then lying on the speaker’s table) which was ever intended to respect the particular constitution of this government as derived from the charter.”244

    If his excellency had in contemplation the alteration of our form of government, and committed his sentiments to writing with a view to their being used in derogation of our liberties or annihilation of our charter; I should not be surprized to find an ambiguity of expression with a plainess of meaning: he would be too explicit for his confident to misunderstand his design, yet would retain a characteristic phraseology, which might stand him in stead in case his plan did not take, or his correspondent did not keep the secret.*

    But the most wary knaves, when they enter into deep plots and perplex themselves with many plans, have their conduct attended with certain circumstances which seldom or ever fail to betray their guilt. And even where they have the exquisite caution to use an intermediate instrument for the purpose of self-concealment, the connexion between the master-workman and the tool is commonly discovered, by some unlucky accident which subtlety did not provide against.

    But to return to his excellency, for whom I am in pain. He explicitly declares to his correspondent, that “there MUST BE an abridgment of what are called ENGLISH liberties.245

    Now I know of no liberties, emphatically called English, but what are as dear, if not more so, than any derived from our charter. Hence I suppose his excellency would not thank any one for an endeavour to save his veracity, by suggesting that he designed an excision of those liberties, which are peculiar to us as Englishmen, and not the abridgment of those that are recognized by our provincial charter. This would be to wreck him on Charybdis in order to deliver him from Sylla.246—But, alas! what other subterfuge remains? Neither his excellency or his friends will say, that he did not “intend to respect” those subjects to which his reasonings were applied; and to which his words and the whole scope of his correspondence had a direct and plain tendency. Till, therefore, the above expedient—(poor indeed)—is adopted, or his excellency can show “an abridgment of what are called English liberties” which does not “respect the particular constitution of this government as derived from charter,” he must stand self-recorded not only odiously wicked, but despicably mean.—Was not the dye of conspiracy against a whole people sufficiently deep, without adding the stain of falshood to the hateful hue?

    But in order to determine the truth and sincerity of the preceeding message to the house, let us proceed with our considerations.

    In the letter of the 20th of January 1769, Mr. Hutchinson says to his correspondent, that it is most certain that marks of PARLIAMENTARY resentment will be placed somewhere, and affirms that IT OUGHT TO BE on the PROVINCE IN GENERAL or particular persons. Now I have no doubt that if this resentment had extended to THE TAKING OFF those particular persons (which mode his brother Oliver more explicitly pointed out) it had gratified the sanguine appetite of his excellency. But when the writer talks of parliamentary resentment to the province in general (and this after so much resentment had been shown as to send troops) I have no doubt, that he had “respect” to the “charter of this government,” and that he had a more immediate reference to it’s annihilation or abridgment, by an express act of parliament to that purpose. I am satisfied this was meant, because he soon after proceeds, “but if no measures (that is of parliament) shall have been taken to secure this dependance, (of this colony) or NOTHING MORE than some DECLARATORY acts or resolves, it is all over with us.” And I am still more confirmed in this opinion, because with his peculiar hypocrisy he in the same letter soon after adds, “I never think of the measures necessary for the peace and good order of the colonies without pain:”—and then subjoins with his characteristic grace, “I wish the good of THE COLONY when I wish to see SOME FARTHER RESTRAINT OF LIBERTY, rather than the connexion with the parent-state should be broken.”247 Now I should be glad to know what parliamentary measures could be taken to secure our dependance as a province without injury to our charter? I should be equally glad to be informed what additional restraint of liberty would prevent the breach of the before-mentioned connexion; or rather what new restraint would not dissolve it? And what farther restraint of our liberties could be effected, and especially by a parliamentary interposition, that would not capitally “respect our constitution of government,” and destroy our “charter”?—Surely his excellency’s genius failed him when he penned his message.

    But I have not done with the matter yet. The manner in which his excellency and his advocates have endeavoured to illude the imputation of a design to subvert our constitution, shows that the guilt of the attempt is apparent. I have in a former number sufficiently intimated, that union of conduct and criminality which took place with the clan of our public enemies. I shall now take occasion to give one specimen (among many) which evinces the justness of my opinion.

    It is worthy of notice, that there appears but 24 days difference in the date of the preceeding letter of Mr. Hutchinson, and one from his brother Oliver, which contains a most PREMEDITATED PLAN TO ALTER OUR CONSTITUTION AND ANNIHILATE THE CHARTER. It is far from being certain, that even that time intervened between the periods of the writing those letters: but be that as it may, whoever attends to the purport and expressions of both of them will have little doubt, that they were wrote in close concert, by parties who imbibed each others sentiments by an intimate communion upon the subject, if in fact they were not wrote by the same hand.

    Mr. Hutchinson begins his letter to Mr. Whately with an acknowledgment of “very great obligations by a full and clear account of proceedings in parliament;” and Mr. Oliver informs the same gentleman that “the lieutenant governor (H.) had communicated to him the letter (of Mr. Whately) containing an account of the debates in parliament.” Hutchinson “expects to be in suspence for three or four weeks, and then to hear our fate,” and Oliver “soon expects their decision, on American affairs.”

    Mr. Oliver writes “I have very lately had occasion to know, that be the determination of parliament what it will, it is the determination of some to agree to no terms that shall remove us from OUR OLD FOUNDATION.”—Here is a plain intimation that it was then a matter of consideration with the members of that august body to alter the foundation of this government; and here is a key to what his colleague Mr. Hutchinson means by “marks of resentment the parliament will show to the province in general,” and confirms my preceeding observation that he intended his “abridgment of English liberties” through the instrumentality of king, lords & commons.

    Mr. Oliver directly after mentioning the above resolution to stand on the old foundation, immediately adds, “this confirms me in opinion, that if there be no way to TAKE OFF the original incendiaries, they will continue to instill their poison into the minds of the people.”248 And his brother (Hutchinson) in league with him against the community and individuals, gives his sanction as we have before noticed, that marks of resentment OUGHT TO BE on the province in general or PARTICULAR PERSONS. The one adhering to his old cunning, is not explicit who those particular persons are, but from the words of the other, we may easily collect, they were those who wisely determined not to be removed from their old foundation.

    His Excellency after expressing his “doubt whether it is possible to project a system of government in which a colony 3000 miles distant from the parent state shall enjoy all the liberty of the parent state,” adds “I am certain I have seen no such projection.” Now let the reader judge, where the mighty difficulty, nay impossibility of such a project for the government of a Colony, without a diminution of the liberties enjoyed by the mother-country, was not sent forward in order to make way for the favorable reception of a joint projection of this kind, which in a few days was to be forwarded under the signature of Andrew Oliver. A project which to be sure most notably abridg’d those English liberties enjoyed by the parent state; and which an Englishman needed some preparation in order to receive without horror, and which he never could read without cursing the projector. The plan transmitted, treated deliberately of proposed “alterations in the charters of the Colonies,” and what is called “a reform of them.”

    Hutchinson begs “pardon for his excursion,” and Oliver apologizes for what he affects to call “his reveries”;249 in which there is kept up that similarity of expression and sentiment which runs thro’ both the letters; and so characteristically marks them, that few will doubt, they were the work of the same hand; and none will hesitate to pronounce them the joint project of two public conspirators against the rights and liberties, the happiness and peace of their native country.


    * See his Letter, 20 October 1769.

    [To be continued.]