323 | To Richard Jackson

    Boston Novr. 30th. 1764

    Dear Sr.

    I now set down to give you a fresh subject for trouble in a business that I cannot but intrest my self in; & also to retain you as a Council, & engage you as a Patron to a Man very injuriously oppressed. If I was to state all the preliminary matters introductory to this business, there would be no end of explanation: I shall only premise that Mr. Temple, the Surveyor General has ever since his Arrival here, shown a most extreme & haughty jealousy of me, my Office & Authority; for which no other possible reason could be assigned, but that I was his superior, & he could not bear One. This has subjected me to many gross insults & Indignities, much more that  I ought to have passed over; & also all others that had any particular connexions with me. — Among wch Mr. Cockle, Collector of Salem, has experienced a tyranny of Office, that I believe is scarce to be paralleled within the Kings Government: I mean separately from & previous to the present ^subject of^ complaint. But I shall postpone the Explanation of all other matters, & confine this letter to the present subject, which will be sufficiently explained by the papers that will accompany this.

    The whole History of this Affair may be brought within this narrow Compass: Mr. Cockle by means of a Letter from the West Indies, discovered an extraordinary fraud in introducing large quantities of foreign Melasses into his port as British produce. He acquainted me with it; I immediately consulted the Advocate general, & we both thought it necessary immediately to file informations in the Court of Admiralty; & that I should write to Govr. Thomas, from whose Government the information came, for further Proofs. This was done without ^the least^ loss of time: And as soon as Mr. Cockle was released from me, He informed the Surveyor General of it. He flew in a great passion for his Advising with me before he informed him; and after a good deal of altercation, he has suspended him from his Office: and he is now going home to vindicate himself. Mr. Cockle is generally esteemed & really is as good & as faithfull an Officer as any in America; and the very contrary to a corrupt one. So that it is generally understood to be a stroke at me: and the surveyor general has given me to understand that he has complained against me. But I defy him and all the world to charge me wth. any act of Corruption. It will be well for him, if his Conduct will bear so strict a scrutiny as mine will.

    But to return to Mr. Cockle: He had the misfortune, before he left England, to be involved in a Bankruptcy of his Brother, who under pretence of admitting him into partnership, made him subject to all his debts, without his ever contracting any of his own.1 This makes him afraid to go to London least his Brothers Creditors should lay hold of him, & force from him a little Money which he has got together since he has been in America. He therefore proposes to go to France or Holland, & write to you from thence: & will desire you to be his Council, as well in this business as in the affair of his Brothers Bankruptcy, which he intends ^to endeavour^2 to get free from by agreement with the Creditors, if it can be; ^He^ Will also desire you to appoint a Sollicitor for him in both businesses.3 It is my particular request, that in regard to the former business, you would not only advise him as a Council, but assist him as a patron. His Case is good enough, if it be but well understood: but it will be necessarily envelloped in much paper; and in publick Offices it is a difficult thing to prevail with the higher powers to read much paper. I therefore wish you could find a friend among the Commissioners of the Customs that will make himself Master of this Case: when he is so justice & Humanity will make him a friend to Mr. Cockle.

    I wrote to you some time ago of this Gentlemans desire to part with his Office, if he could get a sum of money for it. He was led into this by two considerations, the imperiousness of his Lord & master here, & the unreasonableness of his Brothers Creditors at home. He still continues in this Humour tho’ he is sensible that it is impracticable to think of resigning upon a consideration, untill he is rectus in curiâ,4 & has got an order for his restoration, without this it would be a disgrace for him to resign on any terms.

    Among the proofs ^which^ he will carry with him, will be a Certificate of mine, which is made most strictly conformable to truth.5 In order to give scope to my opinion of his integrity without leaving room for the impeachment of my veracity, I found myself obliged to declare what might be exceptionable in his Conduct in common with all other Officers in America. For in truth, if conniving at foreign sugar & molasses, & Portugal wine & Fruit may is to be reckoned Corruption, there was never, I believe, an uncorrupt Custom house Officer in America, till within these 12 months.6 And therefore Incorruption in the best of them must be considered not as a positive, but comparative term. However, tho’ my declaration does credit to Mr. Cockle in the general, yet I have a doubt whether it is not too free to be laid before a public Board, altho’ it might safely & properly be communicated to every member of it.

    In short Mr. Cockle has in the Course of little more than two years (during which time he received what have been called in America partial Duties for Sugar & Melasses) brought to the Account of the Crown upwards of 2,000 Pounds, all which according to the practice of other Officers with impunity, he might have put in his own pocket.7 This he did in pursuance of my advice, which was to pocket nothing but what he could Avow: & accordingly he has been contented to be honest & poor. And if after all, he is to be ruined by the despotic power of an unfeeling Superior, upon pretences framed upon the very act of discovering & prosecuting frauds in trade, I can never again advise an officer to be honest.

    I am, Dr Sr. your most faithfull & obedt servt.

    Rich. Jackson Esqr.

    L, LbC BP, 3: 265-267.