A STATED meeting of the Society was held, at the invitation of Mr. Samuel E. Morison, at the Club of Odd Volumes, No. 77 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, on Thursday, February 27, 1941, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Kenneth Ballard Murdock, in the chair.
The records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported the death of samuel henshaw, a Resident Member, on February 5, 1941, and that of Charles Rockwell Lanman, a Resident Member, on February 20, 1941.
The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of a letter from Mr. Thomas Herbert Johnson, accepting election to Corresponding Membership in the Society.
Mr. Elliott Perkins of Cambridge was elected a Resident Member of the Society.
Mr. Robert E. Peabody read the following paper:
NO one who studies the period of the Napoleonic Wars can help being struck with the similarity between that time and the present and between the problems created by the activities of two insatiable conquerors separated by a distance of a century and a quarter. Although one does not, perhaps, often think of it, the devastation of the Napoleonic Wars created a refugee problem paralleling that of today, and many people at that time sought to escape from war-torn Europe to start life anew in this country. Thus there came to the United States at the beginning of the last century, even as is happening today, many people of different nationalities, people from various walks of life, good and bad, educated and uneducated. Everyone is aware that the present influx of fugitives has brought to our shores many artists, musicians, scientists, and people of talent, and it can be assumed that the Napoleonic exiles included a like portion of such persons.
In April, 1937, I read before this Society a paper on the voyage of the Salem ship Mount Vernon to the Mediterranean in the years 1799–1800.447 At that time one of the things that especially interested me was the fact that the Mount Vernon brought back to Salem one such refugee from the Napoleonic Wars, an Italian artist who soon created quite a reputation in this country as a marine painter and an interior decorator. His name was Michaele Felice Corné, and all that I knew of him when I first wrote was that he came over in that ship and that some of his pictures hang in the Marine Room in the Peabody Museum in Salem. Being myself a would-be marine artist, I became intrigued to find out more about him, and I now give the story as I have been able to piece it together.
In July, 1799, the ship Mount Vernon, Captain Elias Hasket Derby, Jr., sailed from Salem for the Mediterranean on one of those trading voyages which formed the basis of New England commerce at that period, and after a passage of seven weeks, which included a stop at Gibraltar, she anchored at the port of Naples. For a year previous to her arrival Naples and the surrounding country had been the scene of revolution and much bloodshed. King Ferdinand of Naples, alarmed at the growth of the French republican movement and fearing that it would extend to his kingdom, made so bold as to declare war on France, hoping to obtain aid from England and Austria. This rather imprudent move of his resulted in the French quickly turning on him, and in January, 1799, a French army, aided by the Neapolitan Republicans, captured Naples. The King and Queen fled to Palermo, and the city remained in the hands of the French for several months until Nelson, returning with his fleet from the Battle of the Nile, stopped in at Naples and took up the cause of King Ferdinand. With the encouragement of this assistance a Neapolitan army was organized amongst those who had fled from the city, and after much fighting, while Nelson’s fleet attacked from the sea, Naples was finally recaptured in June, 1799, and the French driven out. A few weeks later the Mount Vernon arrived from Salem with a cargo of Cuban sugar. In view of the devastation caused by the war there was a great demand for this commodity, which gave Captain Derby the basis for the successful trading that he carried on at Naples and other Italian ports during the next few months, enabling him to purchase a return cargo not only for his own ship but for three smaller vessels as well.
As one might expect, the ravages of the fighting around Naples left many people homeless, ruined, and disillusioned, and when the Mount Vernon was ready to leave for home, it can well be imagined that there were many who would have liked to take passage on her for America to escape from war-torn Italy. At any rate, when the ship was about to sail, Captain Derby was approached by a Neapolitan artist, Michaele Felice Corné, who, weary of his service in the Neapolitan army, was anxious to get away from it all and come to America. He had been drafted into the forces raised to repel the French, and, although in no way a military man, had risen to be a captain of the King’s Life Guards. However, with the expulsion of the French and the restoration of peace, he was only too glad to give up military service and try his fortune in the United States.
On her eastbound passage the Mount Vernon had had an exciting encounter with a French fleet off the southern coast of Spain and another lively brush with a couple of French feluccas as she was approaching Gibraltar. In the Peabody Museum at Salem there are many paintings of the Mount Vernon by Corné, including several depicting these incidents. One can surmise that, knowing of these two engagements and Captain Derby’s great pride in the manner in which the Mount Vernon came through them, Corné made some of these paintings even before the ship sailed for home, and offered them to Captain Derby, thus getting the Captain to bring him to America. However this may have been, when the Mount Vernon sailed from Naples in April, 1800, she had on board as passenger Michael Felice Corné, and on July 7 he arrived on board of her at Salem.
The Mount Vernon, if one may judge from the number of paintings of her known to be in existence, must have been Corné’s favorite subject, for, in addition to those he did for Captain Derby, he made others, either on the voyage across or after his arrival in Salem, for Captain Luther Dana, First Officer of the Mount Vernon, whose descendants have a set, and for various of the men who were on the ship at the time. The result was that Corné arrived in Salem with a reputation as a marine artist, and in a shipowning community he soon obtained orders from shipowners and captains for paintings of other ships. Thus there is today a goodly number of examples of his work in the Marine Room of the Peabody Museum, where most of the pictures of the Salem ships of the past have found a safe resting place.
I have been unable to discover anything of Corné’s early history and background except that he was born in Elba in 1762. Captain Derby, with whom he lived for a time after first coming to Salem, used to say that Corné was of a noble family and the brother of a count. This, however, did not prevent him, soon after his arrival in this country, from opening a confectioner’s shop, from which he obtained some income to supplement that derived from his artistic endeavors. It is not known whether he was originally a painter of marine subjects or only took up this form of art on account of his voyage on the Mount Vernon. While some of his ship paintings have merit, they are not by any means in a class with those of his contemporaries, the Roux family of Marseilles, whose ship paintings are among the best of the time. His work does not show the innate understanding and feeling of ships and sails, of winds and seas, which one finds in the paintings of the Roux.
The Ship Mount Vernon
By Michaele Felice Corné
Corné was, however, a man of energy, and, seeking a wider field than that offered by ships, he apparently soon began to take orders for interior decoration of houses, doing such things as wall paintings, frescoes, and ceilings. For Captain John Derby, the brother of the man who brought him to America, he painted a fine picture of various Derby ships on the cupola of the Captain’s house. This cupola is now to be seen in the grounds of the Essex Institute in Salem. A fireplace cover done by Corné is in the Peabody Museum, showing the godowns at Canton, which he evidently copied from one of the old Chinese paintings which were then being brought to Salem. Another sample of his work in the same place is a decorative panel or sign with the name “East India Marine Hall,” and a ship under full sail flying the Derby flag, evidently departing from Salem for the East Indies. But the finest examples of Corné’s work to be found in Salem until recently were the painted wall decorations in the Barnard Andrews house on Essex Street. The subjects were all country landscapes and pastoral scenes: a waterfall, for instance, a thatched cottage with figures, and a lively hunting scene. The paintings were on thin paper pasted to the plaster walls and covered with a varnish wash which in the passage of time gave the pictures a warm glow as on the works of old masters. The subjects were interesting, and the whole effect most charming. Unfortunately, when the house was sold a few years since, the interior woodwork was removed, and the wall paintings have disappeared.
Another house decorated by Corné at about the same time was the Oak Hill mansion in nearby Peabody. Here Corné made two mural paintings, both depicting what was apparently a family group gathered about a cottage door. While perhaps not remarkable from an artistic point of view, they were extremely decorative, the general effect being one of browns and greens. This house, too, was sold some years since, and the paintings are gone.
Such work as this soon began to give Corné a reputation as an artist and interior decorator, and, wishing a larger field for his efforts, he moved to Boston, which was then becoming a center of wealth and culture. Here he painted frescoes and wall scenes for various houses, the most famous of which was the Hancock house. This building having been demolished long ago, there is nothing left to show of this work of his, nor can I find that there is any of his interior decoration to be seen in Boston today.
However, soon after completing his work at the Hancock house, and no doubt as a result of his reputation derived from that undertaking, Corné received an order to decorate the house of Sullivan Dorr in Providence. This work was done about 1812, and as the house, fortunately, is still standing, one can see today what was probably Corné’s best and most important decorative painting, and what is as well one of the finest examples of early American wall painting left in this country. The paintings, covering the walls of the parlor and upper and lower halls, depict a variety of subjects. There is a tropical scene, with palms and lush foliage, on one wall; a New England snow scene, with sleighs and a frozen river, on another. He did several views of ancient castles and classical ruins; there are pastoral scenes, a hunting picture, and pictures of a waterfall and of cliffs by the seacoast. Finest of all is a painting of his native Bay of Naples, with Vesuvius in the background, an American frigate lying in the roadstead, and many interesting figures of people in the costumes of the time shown in the foreground along the waterfront. In fact, it is the numerous figures and their gay costumes which give so much decoration and interest to Corné’s wall paintings. They appear in all his pictures: women in costume, children, soldiers in uniform, huntsmen in red coats, farmers, and fishermen.
One who knew him in his later years relates that it was usually Corné’s custom not to paint directly on a wall but to cover the surface with wide strips of white paper, joining the edges neatly, and putting the whole on like ordinary wallpaper. He first would sketch his subject in charcoal and then wash it in with water colors, using in the foreground opaque colors laid on with sizing. When doing one of these large decorating commissions he had for an assistant another Italian refugee, Botomore by name, a native of Bologna. Botomore was originally a confectioner, but Corné took him up, and under his instruction the assistant could wash in some of the simpler parts of a decorative scheme, mix the colors, and make himself generally useful. Eventually Botomore became so indispensable to Corné that he lived with him during the remainder of his life as his man Friday. Under the influence of America, Botomore became known as Billy, and so he was always called.
Thus Corné apparently eked out a fair living, doing interior decorating and occasionally making a ship painting and other odd sketches, until the War of 1812 began, in which the United States was successful in numerous naval combats. When word reached Boston of the victory of the Constitution over the Guerrière, there was tremendous excitement, and Corné, taking advantage of this situation, secured a large canvas, as big a one as he could get into an exhibition room, and quickly made his picture of this famous battle. People flocked to see it, paying an admission fee for the privilege, and the success of this exhibition led Corné to paint “The Surrender of the Java to the Constitution,” “The United States and the Macedonian,” “The Battle of Lake Erie,” and a number of other pictures which were exhibited to crowds. Book publishers soon took advantage of this situation, and Abel C. Bowen, a Boston engraver, entered into a deal with Corné to publish a history of the United States Navy, Bowen writing the narrative and Corné furnishing the illustrations. For this book, entitled The Naval Monument, Corné made about twenty-five paintings of all the important naval engagements of the War of 1812, and from these Bowen made wood engravings for the illustrations. The book was published in 1816 and was a great success. Unfortunately, Bowen’s engravings are rather crude and do not really do justice to Corné’s paintings, most of which have long since disappeared. However, the original of Corné’s “Constitution and Java” is in the Addison Gallery at Andover, Massachusetts, and his “Battle of Tripoli” is at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Moreover, the New Haven Colony Historical Society has a fine set of four of his paintings of the battle between the Constitution and the Guerrière which are said to have been done for the Constitution’s commander, Captain Isaac Hull, and were given by him to Yale University. Two of these paintings are reproduced in The Naval Monument. Although copies of this book are now only in the hands of collectors and a few libraries, Corné’s original illustrations are still found reproduced in history books of the present day.
Wall Painting by Michaele Felice Corné
In the Sullivan Dorr House, Providence, Rhode Island
“The Constitution and the Guerrière”
By Michaele Felice Corné
After a few years, as is the way with such things, interest in the victories of the War of 1812 was forgotten for matters of more immediate importance, but Corné had made hay while the sun shone. Although the demand for pictures of naval battles had disappeared, he found himself in far more comfortable circumstances than he had ever expected to be, and in 1822, having taken a liking to Newport, Rhode Island, he purchased a piece of land there, with a stable on it which he refashioned into a dwelling house for himself and Botomore. The latter revived his talents as a confectioner and set up a shop in the front room. For the last twenty-three years of his life Corné lived in Newport, where he soon established a reputation as a local celebrity. He was fond of company and was, in turn, apparently a favorite with all people in Newport. He was a great raconteur, and his stories and anecdotes, told in his peculiar accent and dialect—for he never fully mastered the English language—were apparently famous. He still indulged his art and made many sketches. In fact he completely covered the walls of his little house with his pictures, but he seems to have done no more serious work after he came to Newport. The Redwood Library and the Newport Historical Society have a number of his sketches of groups of people in costumes of his time, which he must have made at this period.
A resident of Newport who knew Corné in his latter years wrote of him as follows:
Mr. Corné was a native either of Italy or France, but passed his early manhood in Boston, coming to this city in his mature age. He was by profession an artist of real merit, which was proved by the portrayal, sometimes in crayons, on the plastered walls of his chambers. The perspective of many of them was admirable, and the representation of flame and smoke belching from the cannon’s mouth was startlingly realistic. The wooden well-curb on his limited lawn was painted in brightest hues, and the depicture of water coming from the mouth of a dragon with outspread wings was gazed at for hours by passers-by, and received the intense admiration of the children in the town.
Mr. Corné was a chef of high ability; his soups and a certain preparation of macaroni linger even now, like a sweet savor, in the memory. His delicacies, made from Newport quince into choice marmalade, were duly appreciated by the housewives of the town, and they easily commanded what was then considered extravagant prices.
Mr. Corné talked with an intermingling of the French and English languages which sounded so musically and euphoniously that one never tired of listening to him. He was fond of giving special prominence to the final syllable of every word, and his whole bearing and manner were so elegant and even courtly that he seemed a French count in disguise. He was unmarried, but found in his friend, Mr. William Bottomore, a genial companion, they for a score of years residing under the same roof.
Mr. Corné was the fortunate possessor of an annuity which assured him the comforts of life and possibly some of its luxuries. At his death his residence became legally the property of his adopted son, Mr. Bottomore.
Oddly enough, one of the reasons for Corné’s fame today is to be found in the fact that he is said to have been the man who introduced the tomato to America. Although this familiar fruit of today was an ordinary staple of diet in Italy in Corné’s time, it apparently had never been cultivated in this country and, in fact, was considered poisonous and not fit for human diet. Whether Corné brought some seeds with him is not known, but even soon after his arrival in Salem the Reverend Doctor Bentley, in his diary, speaks with amazement of the fact that Corné ate tomatoes without suffering any dire effects and recommended them to everybody. In New-port, likewise, Corné cultivated a large garden of tomatoes and gradually interested his neighbors in this fruit. From this small beginning their use as a food gradually spread over the country.448
Thus Corné spent the declining years of his life in Newport, a popular and picturesque figure in the community. Much of the time he worked in his garden over his tomatoes, while he lived comfortably on his macaroni, tomatoes, olive oil and chianti. He was quite a sportsman and loved nothing better than a day of fishing or duck shooting, on which expeditions he was usually accompanied by Botomore and some of the younger sportsmen of Newport, with whom he was a great favorite. Occasionally he painted on the walls of his little house scenes of his earlier years in Italy—glimpses of the high Italian hills, picturesque peasants, and fishermen along the shore. He died in 1845 at the age of eighty-three.
Corné was not by any means a great artist, and he was modest enough not to claim any such distinction, but his wall paintings, such as those in the Sullivan Dorr House, are among the best remaining in America, and his naval paintings, although not of great merit, are familiar to school children all over the country. If he was, as has been claimed, the one to introduce the tomato to America, certainly that is something to be remembered for. Thus the refugee from Napoleon’s wars made his contribution to the country of his adoption even as, a century and more later, many of the refugees from another war are making theirs to American civilization today.
President Murdock spoke briefly about American place names, with particular reference to Mount Cardigan in New Hampshire.449
The Editor communicated by title the following paper by Mr. George M. Elsey:
IN 1765 the radical merchants of Boston organized the Sons of Liberty to lead local resistance against the Stamp Act. Bold though they were in opposition to it and to the Townshend Acts, the Sons of Liberty lacked the self-assurance which would have come from the knowledge that their work was respected by men whom they admired. In 1768 they made a bid for outside support by writing to the idol of liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, John Wilkes. The tone of deep respect and humble courtesy in their first letter, dated June 6, is amazing to those familiar with the later careers of its signers, Benjamin Kent, Thomas Young, Benjamin Church, John Adams, and Joseph Warren. After the great Wilkes replied to this first letter of the group, the Bostonians took heart and wrote personal letters to him describing their grievances and begging for his assistance.
Two of the letters of this correspondence were, for political reasons, soon printed. Wilkes’s first two replies to the Sons of Liberty were published by him in August, 1771, as evidence in an attempt to disprove charges that he was an enemy of the Americans.450 He stoutly defended his friendship for the colonies in the Political Register: “The cause of Liberty in America received every assistance I could give on late important occasions, by the feeble productions of this pen. In no other way could I be useful in a prison.”451
Several others of these letters have been printed from time to time by Wilkes’s biographers, but the bulk of the correspondence was not published until 1914 when Worthington C. Ford edited seventeen letters to Wilkes from the Boston Sons of Liberty and two replies by Wilkes.452 Eight additional items in this correspondence have been found recently, and they are now printed here in their entirety for the first time.
Four of these are addressed by Wilkes to William Palfrey. They are important for their indication of Wilkes’s interest in the American radicals and his responsiveness to their appeals. Although he was busy directing London politics from his cell in King’s Bench Prison, Wilkes kept the colonists in mind, corresponded with at least one of them informally and personally, and gave advice and encouragement. The other four letters, from Palfrey to Wilkes, are much longer, for Palfrey took to heart Wilkes’s request for information. As a business partner of John Hancock and as Secretary of the Boston Sons of Liberty, Palfrey was a daily associate of the radicals and was in the thick of their activities. He wrote his letters carefully and self-consciously, and their interest lies in the reasonably detached account of the political events of 1770 in Massachusetts which the young merchant thought would interest Wilkes while in his London prison.
The texts of the Wilkes letters are from the original manuscripts, unless otherwise noted. Those of the Palfrey letters are from his corrected drafts. With the exception of the letter of September 27, 1769, which is in the Harvard College Library, the manuscripts are owned by John G. Palfrey, Esq., who has kindly given his permission for their publication.
John Wilkes to William Palfrey
King’s Bench Prison
April 14, 1769
I thank you for the favour of your letter of the 21st of February, which I received yesterday.453 I am always happy to hear from the friends of liberty, and I know no part of the world, which has more distinguished itself in support of that best of causes, than the capital of the Massachuset’s Bay.
If America can furnish an answer to the Farmer’s letters,454 it is more than Europe has yet been able to do. I shall certainly read, as soon as I can get a few hours leisure, what you have sent me,455 and I wish to know all that can be stated by the advocates of the two parties.
I shall be much obliged to you for the American Newspapers by any Captain, who would take the trouble of delivering them to my brother Hayley,456 for otherwise the postage would be enormous.
The cause of liberty in America as well as here shall always have in me a zealous advocate, and where my little influence extends, it shall be employed in the promotion of it.
I beg you, Sir, to believe me your obliged, and obedient,
John Wilkes to William Palfrey457
King’s Bench Prison
July 24, 1769
I am greatly obliged to you for the favour of your letter, dated June 13,458 & the several papers which accompanied it. You will see by the newspaper enclosed that I not only took care to have the affidavit published, but likewise it should be ushered in a proper manner into the world here.459
The pulse of this nation never beat so high for liberty as at the present moment, & all the true friends of it applaud exceedingly the late proceedings of the patriots in America. Most of our counties, cities, & boroughs are petitioners, & nothing can exceed the noble spirit & the high style of the addresses to the crown.
I shall be very glad to see your newspapers, & any particular curious papers which appear among you. I desire you to let the friends of freedom know that I will always cooperate with them as far as my poor abilities & small influence can extend. I beg my best compliments to Mr Hancock in particular. His late persecution460 I consider as a consequence of his known zeal to the cause of his country, which our common enemies desire to punish, when they cannot suppress it.
I am, Sir, your faithful & obliged
John Wilkes to William Palfrey461
King’s Bench Prison
Sept. 27, 1769
I am particularly to thank you for the acquaintance of Mr Samuel Eliot, who was so obliging as to call upon me with your letter the day after his arrival, and whom I found a very sensible and amiable gentleman.462
Captain Hood gave me your favour of the 26th of July, and sent me two very fine turtles.463 I desire you to make my most gratefull acknowledgements to the friends of liberty for so obliging a mark of their regard, and to assure them of all the services in my power for the common cause we have at heart.
Governor Bernard is looked on with horror by all true Englishmen. We are frequently meeting together with our American friends to concert measures to punish him in Westminster Hall for having dared to quarter Troops contrary to an express act of Parliament. We shall have the best law advice, and proper powers for this purpose must be sent over to your agents here. Serjeant Glynn464 will give us his advice gratis in all the steps to be pursued. Petitions to the King and Parliament are useless, altho’ necessary forms. They are both determined against you. The secret history of the Stamp Act would give you the real sentiments of the Court. Westminster Hall will do you justice, and a great number of separate actions against him will make your late proud, despotic governor tremble. You have many warm friends here, who will never give up your cause, nor rest till the declaratory bill, as well as all the late duties, are absolutely repealed. I am proud to be one of the foremost in that cause. You will soon hear more fully from us. We lose no time, but at present our friends are much dispersed on account of the vacation, and this week we are particularly busy on account of the election of a Lord Mayor.
It is believed that the Parliament will not meet till after Christmas. I send you everything of the kind, which has been printed in 8vo. As soon as the rest appears in the same form, you shall have it. I beg you freely to mention in whatever I can be usefull to you. My best respects attend Mr Hancock, and the other patriotic gentlemen.
Your obliged, humble Servant,
William palfrey to John Wilkes
[March 5, 1770]465
A severe fit of sickness which confin’d me upwards of three months & had well nigh carried me to “that unknown Country from whose Bourn no traveller returns,” prevented my answerg your obliging favour of Sept 27 last so soon as I ought to have done. I am now thank God & our friend Doctr Jeffries,466 so well recover’d as to be able to thank you for your genteel present of the North Britons, which I shall carefully preserve in memory of the donor.
It is so long since I wrote you last, together with my confinemt by sickness that I can’t recollect many intervening occurrences. You have doubtless seen our public prints tho’ I have not been able to send them. [The punishment of Governor Bernard is an event devoutly wish’d for by every Friend of Freedom on this Continent, and they would gladly strain every nerve to cooperate with you in promoting so desirable a purpose and would esteem it a singular favor if you would signify to them in what manner they may be useful. I expected to have heard further from you on the subject agreeable to the kind intimation in your last. We have had a rumor that Gov Sr Francis was arrested.]467
The Grand Jury of the last Superiour Court indicted Sr Francis, The Commissioners, Comptroller Hallowell, & Collector Harrison for falsely & maliciously misrepresenting the Province to his Majesty’s Ministers but the Attorny General never brought any of them to trial. Prosecutions of Crown Officers tho’ ever so justly founded, have never ended in the punishment of the delinquents, every chicane of Law has been practis’d to screen them from justice, and when every other method has fail’d they have been openly protected by the force of what they call the prerogative of the Crown. I send you a Copy of Sir Francis’s indictment for your amusement.
The Soldiers still continue their insults upon the inhabitants tho’ they are generally well rewarded for their trouble. There has scarce any skirmish of that kind happen’d in which they have not been well beaten tho’ three to one to the inhabitants this has almost cool’d their courage, and our Scotch Commanding officer468 begins to think it a more difficult matter to sweep the whole Continent before him with only his Regiment than he at first imagin’d.
You will see in the public prints an accot of a murder committed by one Richardson469 a fellow of a most infamous and abandon’d Character, who has for many years been employ’d as a Spy and informer by Mr Paxton the Commissioner, this fellow tho one of the most abject miserable wretches upon earth, & a notorious Knight of the Post470 was by Governor Bernard dignified with the title of Esquire to give a better grace to certain depositions of his which were taken ex parte & transmitted by him to the Ministry. he has enter’d warmly into all the Commissioners measures, & to shew a Zeal for their service endeavour’d to destroy a pageant which was exhibited by a few Boys in ridicule of a person who had imported Goods contrary to the agreement, he afterwards endeavor’d to excite a tumult by abusive language, and at last charg’d a reputable housekeeper who was passing by with being guilty of perjury the Man pursued him & Richardson ran into his own house which was near, to which he was follow’d by the Boys, it seems he was prepar’d for the purpose for in a few minutes he fir’d a Musquet loaded with Swan Shot & kill’d one Boy on the Spot & wounded another, tho’ no violence had been offer’d to him. The house was soon surrounded & he was taken together with another man in the Commissioners Service who was arm’d with a loaded Musquet & a Cutlass. The whole complection of the affair evidently shew’d it was pre-concerted to begin the Shedding of Blood. While he was in custody of the Sheriff a person endeavour’d to throw a noose over his head but fail’d in the attempt otherwise he would have been murder’d on the Spot by the Enrag’d populace.
Our house of Assembly has been adjourn’d from time to time in order I suppose to prevent their meeting early enough to lay their petitions before the Parliament, this is one of the political mainoevres of Governor Bernard. They are now prorogued to Cambridge abt 8 Miles from the metropolis to prevent any altercation about removing the Main Guard from the State house. Our Governors pay more attention to the accomodation of twenty Soldjers than 120 Senators, it was not so in old Rome—and even in these days of Ministerial Tyranny & Corruption it is not so in Old England. . . .471
The friends of freedom here intend to celebrate the day of your liberation472 in social festivity, we hope before that time to have the News of the repeal of the revenue Acts, which will afford double occasion to rejoice, the last Accounts from England seem to be very encouraging, and the little regard shewn to Governor Bernard seems to bode him no good; I pray God he may meet with his deserts. I have been personally afronted by him, and he has injur’d, greatly injur’d my native Country for which Reasons I would with pleasure cross the Atlantic to have the satisfaction of waiting upon him to Tyburn.
I should be extremely glad to hear from you oftener, but would by no means encroach upon your more important avocation. I am afraid when you launch forth into the world of business again, you will scarcely find time to write me a line, but I beg you would sometimes think of me and that I may know where to direct my Letters I should be much oblig’d to you to favour me with your address
Dear Sir you would always consider me as
Your obliged Friend
and most obedient Servant
John Wilkes to William Palfrey473
Princes Court, near
Storey’s Gate, Westminster
July 24, 1770
I sincerely regret that the multiplicity of my affairs has prevented my writing to you before as I ought to have done, and as I wished to do, in return to your kind favours. Ever since I have been a freed-man, the necessary duty of the City, and the arrears of business in my own ward,474 have almost engrossed my time. I beg you however to do me the justice to believe that whenever I can be of real service to the noble sons of liberty in America, or can contribute to restore their rights, or to relieve them from the variety of oppressions under which they labour, I will strain every nerve, and dedicate my time to their service. Pray assure all our friends that I will live and die in these sentiments.
I love to read the Boston papers, and you will greatly oblidge me by transmitting them regularly to me by private hands, and let me know whatever you wish from this side the Atlantic, and I will send it to you.
I am very grateful for the intelligence you have sent me, and I will in return give you from time to time the most interesting news of this country. Be so kind to write to me regularly, and you shall find me a punctual correspondent.
My best respects attend Mr. Hancock, and all the other friends of liberty.
I am, Dear Sir, your affectionate,
and obliged, humble servant,
William Palfrey to John Wilkes
[October 23–30, 1770]475
I very readily admit your apology for not writing me sooner, & am sensible that the arrears of the business of your ward must engross a great part of your time, and that your numerous friends in England claim a great share of your leisure hours; considering these circumstances I must acknowledge myself under the highest obligations for your favor of July last, more especially as I had so long been without a line from you that I was almost led to imagine you had entirely forgot me. Your kind promise of keeping up a punctual correspondence in future gives me inexpressible pleasure. You may be assured I shall do everything in my power to render it agreeable to you.
I sincerely wish it was in my power to give you a favorable Account of the state of our public affairs, but everything here seems to be tending fast towards that stupid senseless state of Slavery which commonly follows a long but unsuccessful struggle for Liberty. Even the most animating examples have lost their usual effect, and the people seem to be quite borne down by the powerful opposition of their enemies. I shall give you a few instances of the management of the Ministerial faction, which I shall leave with you to make your own reflections upon.
Before I begin it may not be amiss to give you a Short Sketch of the Character of Mr Hutchinson the Present Commander in chief of this Province the particulars of wch perhaps you have not yet been acquainted with. He is descended from a Family who were among the first settlers of this Province, some of whom had fill’d the first places of honor in it. The paternal inheritance being many times divided among large families, was near exhausted when a small portion of it descended to him. He was educated at Harvard College in Cambridge after which he practis’d Merchandize, and was for many Years in the Holland trade, where he constantly practis’d all the various methods of Smuggling. He inherited from his ancestors a strange kind of attachment to what is call’d the Kings prerogative, but being a man of the greatest duplicity, he had art enough to conceal it from the public, & about 30 years ago he was chosen Representative for the Town of Boston and afterwards Speaker of the house, here he had an opportunity of distinguishing those great abilities he had acquir’d by long Study & close application, & which might have been employ’d to the great advantage of his Country, if an unbounded ambition, & a desire to promote the grandeur of his family had not eradicated every other consideration. He was soon mark’d out as a proper person to promote the purposes of government, or in other words the Tyranny of administration. He was appointed a Judge of Probate of Wills &c for this County, In which office by an affected humility of deportment, & real distribution of impartial justice, he gain’d the universal esteem of the public. Upon a Vacancy in the Bench of Judges in the highest Court of Judicature in this Province, he was appointed Chief Justice by Governor Bernard to the great disappointment & mortification of some of the old practitioners at the Bar, among the first of whom was Mr Otis’s father,476 a Gentleman who had long been in the practise of the Law, & who from his fortune, connections & great interest in the County where he dwelt, thought himself intitled to that honor before Mr Hutchinson, hence originated that bitter enmity which has ever since subsisted between the Otis & Hutchinson families in this province. Mr Hutchinson had for some years before held a seat at the Council board & even after he was appointed Lt Governor, he was several times elected Councellor, & still retain’d his other Offices, the impropriety of which was never call’d in question ‘till Mr Otis was elected Member for Boston. In the time of the Stamp Act he was exceedingly zealous to have that odious & oppressive tax carried into execution, and by his connections with, & influence over Govr Bernard he procur’d the Office of Stamp Master for his Brother Oliver. In resentment of which, the populace destroy’d his dwelling house & furniture. It happen’d the next day the Superior Court was to be held. he appear’d there without his Robes, and in a most pathetic & artful speech to the Grand Jury so wrought upon his audience that not a man who was present could refrain from tears. The loss he sustain’d by the tumult of that Night, was afterwards amply made up to him by the House of Representatives, & he went upon the Floor & thank’d them in person. In all public steps taken by Sir Francis it is confidently said he has been his secret adviser, and you may remember that in a Letter from Sr F. to Ld Hillsboro, he says he can depend upon Mr Hns firmness & Resolution as much as he can upon his own, & no person ever yet doubted the truth of his declaration.
When Sr Francis embark’d for England the Government naturally devolv’d upon him, he immediately cast off the Mask, and appear’d the avow’d advocate of Ministerial oppression, This you will easily perceive by the tenor of his speeches, & the general conduct of his administration. But an anecdote which I am confident you have never heard will serve to convince you of his arbitrary principles. He one day last spring din’d at a Gentleman’s house where the conversation turn’d upon the propriety of Great Britain’s taxing the Colonies. Mr H[?] turning to the Lt Govr said. Pray Sir do you think if the Parliament of Great Britain should pass a Law to deprive me of my Estate without my having been guilty of any crime to forfeit it that I should be bound in duty & loyalty to comply. Mr H[utchinson] answer’d very solemnly & seriously Without doubt Sir.
By Govr Bernards rash and very precipitous conduct in negativing a large number of Councellors he had rais’d & continued annually to keep up such a powerful opposition in the house, as that he never was afterwards able with the few friends he had left to carry any point even of the smallest consequence. At the first election of Councellors after Mr Hutchinson was in possession of the Chair, he admitted every member (but two) who had been proscrib’d by Bernard, by this artful piece of policy he took off a number of the leading Members from the lower house, some of whom from what they call a principle of gratitude, but rather a versatility of disposition; prov’d stanch friends to him in the upper house. The Election was carried on at Cambridge, contrary to the express words of the Charter, and the house after protesting against the precedent refus’d to proceed to business, & were prorogued to July last at which time they again met at Cambridge.
The House of Assembly met but being determin’d not to proceed to business at a place remote from the public records, and where they still consider’d themselves as under duress, the Lt Govr adjourn’d them to the 27th day of Sept last, then to meet him again at Cambridge, previous to this Meeting, the Castle which had always been supported by this Government at a very great expense, was by an order of the Minister deliver’d into the possession of the Kgs 14 Regt commanded by the Scottish Collo Dalrymple. The operations of the Military in taking possession of this Fortress, was equally ridiculous with their other Manoeuvres. The utmost secrecy was observ’d, ‘till the Kgs Centinel mounted upon the Ramparts and a guard was plac’d at the door of the appartments of Mr Phillips who commanded under the Lt Governor. The old Garrison was allow’d two days to march off with their baggage without arms. The Lt Governor thinking the house would still persist in their resolutions not to proceed to business at Cambridge, was determin’d to strike a stroke which would at once alarm & intimidate them. By a Law of this Province if the house does not make provision to discharge the public debts, the Governor has a right to direct the Treasurer to issue his Warrant for the whole debt. during the altercation for two years past, the Tax Bill, among many others had been neglected & the Province debt very considerably increas’d. The Treasurer, by direction of the Govr issued his Warrants for the whole Province debt which amounted to the enormous Sum of £96000 Lawfl Money equal to £72000 Stg. these Warrants were artfully distributed to the several Counties just before the Meeting of the Assembly & had such an effect upon the Country Members that when they met a Majority appear’d for proceeding to business. The Lt Govr open’d the Sessions with a Speech in which he lamented his not being able to adjourn them to Town & pleaded his instructions. he represented the State of the province in very deplorable colours, the disadvantage which would arise from the state of several Laws of great consequence which were expir’d, and declar’d his readiness to concur with them in any measures which might tend to ease the Province Tax. The Members who were against proceeding to business finding a Majority against them, and that many members had not yet arriv’d, propos’d to adjourn the Question for a few days, and appointed a day of fasting & prayer, in the Meantime they sent expresses to the absent Members & were in hopes by that means to increase the Minority. The Revd Mr Cook Uncle to Mr Hancock was appointed to preach the Sermon, which he did & made a most excellent political discourse from the followg text in Nehemiah 9th Chapt which I shall recite at large. “Behold, we are Servants this day, and for the Land that thou gavest unto our fathers, to eat the fruit thereof, and the good thereof, behold we are Servants in it. And it yieldeth much increase unto the Kings whom thou hast set over us because of our Sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our Cattle at their pleasure and we are in great distress.” This text, (tho’ a Sermon in itself) & the consequent discourse, had no effect upon the Mercenary Members, The Question was put, & carried in favour of doing business by a Majority of 59 to 29. They however protested against an establishment of the precedent, & declar’d that their proceeding to business was from mere necessity. The Minority call’d upon them for their reasons for this extraordinary alteration of Sentiment, and a Committee was appointed to prepare & report them. These have not been yet publish’d. perhaps they may before this Vessell Sails:
The operations of the merchants have been no less extraordinary than those of the House. The Town had suffer’d greatly by the non-importation agreement, and the late defection of New York furnishd them with an opportunity, which had been long wish’d for by persons who were interested in the importation of Goods to break thro’ the whole agreement. At a large Meeting it was Voted to send a Letter to Philadelphia to propose a general congress for the purpose of relaxing the agreement. Before this Letter arriv’d at Phila the Merchants there had agreed to a general importation, & had dissolved their Committee. When this news reach’d Boston the Merchants here call’d a Meeting at which the Non-importation agreement underwent a final dissolution. It’s true the Article of Tea was excepted, but such is the strange infatuation of people, attach’d to the foolish and pernicious custom of Tea drinking, that I greatly fear it will be impossible to prevent the importation of it. The House have laid an Impost of £5 per Chest on that Article tho’ it is generally imagin’d the Lt Govr will not assent to it.
After repeated delays, the Trial of Capt Preston & the Soldiers concern’d in the Massacre of the 5th of March, was fix’d for the 23d inst but the day has now elapsed & the Judges have not appear’d, what reason they may have for thus deferring the trial from time to time I know not, but certain it is, our Judges are posess’d with a great degree of the courtly disposition of the Pale Mansfield and are most obsequiously devoted to the will of their Creator.
Mr Temple477 one of the Commissioners takes passage in Capt Scott. This Gentleman has made himself obnoxious to his Colleagues in office here, & in consequence thereof to the Ministry at home by a firm & unshaken attachment to the cause of constitutional Liberty. Tho’ all his dependance for support is upon the Office he holds under the Crown, yet that consideration has never had the least weight with him when brought in competition with his duty to this his native Country. From his acquaintance with, & dependance upon Lord Temple,478 I dare say you must have known him when formerly in London, & I am sure from the similarity of his disposition to that of the noble patriot before mention’d, you must esteem & value him. He is furnish’d with many curious particulars relating to my very good friend Sr Francis whose conduct while in the administration of Government in this Province he will set in a proper point of light in the view of his Superiours. I imagine he intends to prosecute the Cockle affair as it was from him (entre nous) that I had Tooveys deposition.479
Another person of a quite contrary character intends for London by the first opportunity. I mean the worthy Justice Murray who from a Councellor of another Province sunk to an acting Justice in this,480 purely to forward Governor Bernards loyal plan of reforming the Magistracy. Sr Francis has not been dissapointed in the great expectations he had form’d from Mr Murray’s Zeal and abilities. He has been constantly employ’d in taking depositions against the Town & individuals ex parte & in the most secret manner to be transmitted to the Secretary of State. The circumstance of his going to England at this Juncture, with many others who have distinguish’d themselves as Friends of Government is I imagine by the direction of Ld H[illsborough] & G[overnor] B[ernard] to be present at the next meeting of Parliament in order to contribute their mite towards dissolving the Charter of this Province, which has long been the darling object of those choice Spirits. It may not perhaps lessen your opinion of Mr Murrays good Qualities to inform you that he is a Scotchman & has continually caball’d with his loyal Countreymen in this Town, and the other Governmental tools against the Charter & liberties of this Province.
I have given you this detail (tedious as it may seem) that you may be able to form some Judgment of the Character of Men, whose information the Parliament may possibly avail themselves when the affairs of this Province shall hereafter come under their consideration, and what can be expected Sir from their decision when they build their proceedings upon the recommendation of a despotic & bloody Ministry & support them by the most infamous of all their Tools—believe me Sir there is not a more sordid groveling, obsequious dirty or infamous fellow upon Earth than this same Justice Murray and I would venture to lay my life he is introduc’d to the Parliament & Ministry by Govr Bernard as a Gentleman of the first Character in the Province. The other persons who are doubtless to make a considerable figure as witnesses at the next Parliament, are Messr Henry Barnes, Wm Jackson, & McMasters481 who have been long stigmatiz’d as Importers the two last of these are so extremely ignorant as to be almost incapable of doing much mischief. The other is a sensible artful man & capable of anything.
The impost of £5 per Chest on Tea which I mention’d in the former part of this Letter as having past the house, has since been non-concurred by the Council, and is one instance among many others which might be produc’d to prove that the Council is not under the influence of the house as has frequently & falsely been represented. It is true that in some instances they have conducted agreeable to the minds of the house & their constituents, but this has only happen’d when they could do no otherwise without notoriously flying in the face of all Law & Justice.
I broke off writing to attend the trial of Capt Preston which came on this 24th of Octr. I shudder with horror & indignation at the strange perversion of Justice which I have this day been witness to. By a Law of this Province the Jurors are return’d by the Selectmen, after the choice has been made by the Town. The Method of chusing them is the most fair & impartial that the wit of man could possibly devise. The freeholders names are roll’d in a Box in the same manner that Lotteries are usually drawn, & the first who are drawn out are return’d. In this manner the Jurors on Capt Preston’s trial were chosen & return’d. but when any are challeng’d the Sheriff has a right to return Talesmen. Capt Preston on his trial challenged twenty two of the Pannel, a number of his friends & most intimate acquaintances stood ready & were accordingly return’d by the Sherriff, among whom was a person that had been first drawn out by Lot by the Town & was excus’d because he alledged he was so much prejudic’d in Capt Preston’s favour, that he could not return an impartial verdict, yet this very person intimately connected with Capt Preston was return’d as a Talesman by the Sheriff. By this kind of management the last blow has been given to the expiring liberties of America. I have had occasion to mention the Sheriff to you as a person entirely devoted to the will of his Superiors, and in all his transactions he has discover’d himself a most infamous tool to Sr F. Bernard, & the other Friends of Government in this Provce. The Court was fill’d with Officers of the Army, Navy, & Customs & Capt Preston appear’d perfectly unconcern’d, as if conscious that the event would not prove prejudicial to him. The trial is likely to take up a long time, tho’ in effect nothing but a mere farce.
I send you by this opportunity the news papers you desir’d, & am extremely oblig’d to you for your kind offer to send me anything in return. I have but one request to make at present, which is, that you would be kind enough to send a print of you, the best likeness that is extant, as I am depriv’d of the happiness of seeing the original, I should Chuse to be furnish’d with the nearest resemblance. In one of your dear deceas’d Friend Churchill’s482 Letters I find mention made of one which he then says he tho’t very like you, & which he underwrote with a few Lines from Pope beginning “A Soul supreme in each hard instance tried” if one of these could be procur’d it would be doubly agreeable from his recommendation. however I shall leave it entirely with you to send such an one as you like. Dr Jeffries & others who have seen you tell me the generality of Metzotint prints bro’t here are not like you.
I would beg leave to remind you of another promise you generously made to furnish me with the News of your Country. I should be extremely glad to hear from time to time your opinion of American Affairs and it would give me the highest pleasure to hear that the Friends of Liberty in Gt Britain had baffled the malicious opposition of their implacable enemies.
Our house of Assembly are this day to proceed to the choice of an Agent, & I imagine Dr Lee483 will be the person chosen. Mr Adams tells me he is the Author of the Letters sign’d Junius Americanus. If so I am sure the Province is under the highest obligations to him, & ought to take the first opportunity of shewing their gratitude.
Octr 25: I happen’d to be mistaken in my judgment yesterday with regard to Dr Lee: The house have made choice of Dr Franklin for their agent, a Gentleman who you well know holds a considerable lucrative post under the Government, & whose Son is now Governor of the Jersies. Can it be suppos’d such a person will promote the cause of Liberty? Capt Preston’s trial continues to-day & is likely to take up a long time, only 5 Witnesses out of near fifty have yet been examin’d.
I should have been extremely glad to see the whole of the correspondence between the Duke of Cumberland & Lady Grosvenor.484 The few Letters that have appear’d here have given me the highest entertainment. How much is the Nation indebted to the Persons who superintended the Prince’s education, and what noble prospects of advantage may we not form from the Learning & Genius of the Royal Gallant. He has certainly given the Tars of the Navy a specimen of epistolary correspondence equal to any of the most elaborate of the productions of a Boatswain’s buffer.
The trial of Capt Preston after repeated delays, begun last Wednesday the 24th and continued ’till this 30th of Octr when the Jury returned a verdict not Guilty. After the Jury was empannell’d Capt Preston challenged 22 out of 26. A number of his friends and most intimate acquaintance attended at the trial who were well known to the Sheriff and were picked out by him as talesmen to compleat the Jury. Two of these were persons who from the time of Capt Preston’s confinement had interested themselves in his behalf, and had been extremely busy in procuring evidence in his favour. One of these Mr Phillip Dumaresq had repeatedly declared in presence of divers witnesses that he believed Capt Preston to be as innocent as the Child unborn, & that if he happened to be upon the Jury he would never convict him if he sat to all eternity. If I have time before this Vessell sails I will procure depositions to prove the truth of this fact & transmit them to you. It must however be confessed that the confusion of that unhappy night was so great that the Witnesses both for the Crown & the prisoner differed materially in some parts of their testimony, and even in my own mind there still remains a doubt whether Capt Preston gave the orders to fire, as the two Witnesses who swore to that point, declared also that Capt Preston had on a Surtout Coat, which he proved was not the case. The Court were unanimous in their opinion that the Soldiers were a lawful assembly, and as such had a right to defend themselves if assaulted, tho’ they did not pretend wholly to Justify the firing upon the people. One of the Judges, Mr Trowbridge, who had formerly been Attorny Genl when speaking of the propriety of sending troops into the Town, said that he had not the least doubt but that his Majesty had a right to send his troops into any parts of his dominions, but that in his opinion there was not the least necessity for sending them into this Town as some had pretended.
The management to pack the Jury was evident to every impartial spectator. By a Law of this province the Jurors are chosen by the Town, & returned into the Clerk’s Office. The method of choice is the most fair and impartial that can possibly be devised. The names of all the Freeholders who have not served within three Years are roll’d up and put in a Box in the same manner Lotteries are usually drawn, the first 36 who are drawn out are return’d. Mr Dumaresq, who I mentioned before, was drawn in this manner by the Town, and when he was notified of it by the Constable he went immediately to the Town meeting & desired to be excused as he was an intimate acquaintance of Capt Preston’s & therefore consider’d himself as an improper person to serve upon the Jury, he was accordingly excused, notwithstanding which he was returned as a talesman by the Sheriff and served upon the trial. If the prisoner challenges so many, that there are not sufficient left to make up the Jury, The High Sheriff may make up the deficiency from the bystanders, which was the case at Capt Preston’s trial. I have frequently had occasion to mention the High Sheriff to you as a Person entirely devoted to the will of his Superiours, and that in all his transactions he has discover’d himself a most obsequious tool to Sr F. B. for one instance of which I need go no farther than the affair at the Manufactory house when the Troops first Landed.
There is one circumstance attended this trial, which I cannot forbear mentioning, and which I hope you will take proper notice of. Mr Justice Murray who I mentioned before attended constantly at the trial and employ’d a Scotch underling of Mein the Bookseller’s to take down in Short hand all the Witnesses said in favor of Capt Preston, and the arguments of the Council in his behalf, without noticing anything that was offer’d on the other side the question. These I suppose he intends to make use of when he arrives in England in order to fix the odium upon the inhabitants as the first aggressors. But I hope Junius Americanus or some other good hand will clip his wings. The Chaplain of the Salisbury & many officers both of the Army & navy attended constantly at the trial and seemed greatly pleased with the verdict, as they look’d upon it as a kind of Sanction for them to murder the inhabitants at their pleasure. The trial of the Soldiers & others concern’d is put off to the next Court.
During the whole trial the greatest order and decorum was observed by the Spectators, and as soon as it was over they all departed very quietly. Capt Preston went immediately out of Court and waited upon Commodore Gambier after which he went to the Castle, among the Commissioners &c.
The House still continues sitting, but have done no business of any great consequence except chusing Dr Franklin their Agent. I was in hopes Dr Lee would have been the person, who Mr Adams tells me is the Author of the Letters signed Junius Americanus. I am sure this Province is greatly indebted to that Author for his spirited exertions on their behalf. They have also chosen a Committee to take into consideration the Grievances we labour under, and transmit a state of the same to their Agent to be laid before his Majesty. One would think the fate of the remonstrances from Middlesex & the other Counties in England would discourage them from another attempt.
The defection of New York from the non importation agreement render’d it impractible for the Merchants here to continue it any longer without doing an irreparable injury to the trade of this province, which at the same time would not favour the common cause, for as long as the importation continued open at New York & New Hampshire the Goods would find the way here, to our great loss & their proportionate advantage. The Non importation agreemt was therefore solemnly dissolved here much about the same time that it underwent a like fate at Philadelphia without being previously acquainted with each others sentiments. The Ministry have now completely conquered America. The Colonies have strengthened their hands & must take the consequence.
William Palfrey to John Wilkes
I wrote you a few days since very particularly by Capt Lyde, since which Capt Hall has arrived, and brought us the very agreeable News of great preparations making for a Spanish War. Will the present Ministry be able to carry it on? Will they be supported by the City of London after the infamous treatment they have so illiberally bestowed upon them? I fancy not, and that their downfall must be the inevitable consequence to the great joy of the much abused & long injured Nation. They have lately exhibited an incontestible proof of their profound policy in the appointment of Mr Hallowell to the Office of Commissioner of the Customs here in the Room of Mr Temple. It is not in the power of nature to form a greater contrast than there is between those two persons. Mr Temple a Gentleman bred & born, of Learning & great abilities—The other a man of no family and as ignorant and illiterate as the Duke of Cumberland, has recommended himself to the present ministry thro’ the medium of Govr Bernard, by a mulish & blundering opposition to the Cause of liberty here, and is now advanced to a disagreeable office, because he is a man most justly hated and despised by the whole Province. This Elevation is undoubtedly owing to Sr F B & serves in some measure to gratify his resentmt against Mr Temple who is his bitter enemy; and no circumstance whatever could have occasion’d Mr Temple greater mortification than to have Mr Hallowed placed in his Room. This extraordinary person who is so judiciously placed at the Head of the Customs here is so far from being able to judge of any Law relating to the King’s Duties that I would pawn my life he could not read one through without spelling. This is another instance of the judgement of your precious sett of Ministers.
Capt Scott is now getting under way which obliges me to break off. Do let me hear from you by all opport[unity].
I am Dear Sir
Your oblig’d friend & humble Servt
[Endorsed:] . . . Novr 20, 1770
William Palfrey to John Wilkes
Agreeable to my promise, & your obliging request I take this first opportunity to acquaint of my safe arrival after a very agreeable passage of 35 days from London.485 The Weather was so pleasant & my Shipmates so agreeable I was scarce sensible of the inconveniencies which generally attend a Sea Voyage and had the happiness at my return to find my family & friends in good health.
Mr Otis is perfectly recover’d of his late indisposition of Mind and was unanimously elected one of the representatives of this Town, a circumstance which evidently shews that the holy spirit of Freedom is not entirely quench’d here though much pains have been taken to make it so believ’d on your side the Atlantic.
We are extremely anxious to hear the events of the late arbitrary attack upon the franchises of the City of London There has been a report that Mr Sawbridge486 was committed to the Tower. Have you yet taken up lodgings at Newgate? Or have the Ministry through abject cowardice avail’d themselves of that pitiful subterfuge that you are beneath their notice?
Mr Adams will write you after our General Assembly is open’d when he hopes to [be] better able than at present to inform you of the true state of our political affairs. Notwithstanding all the pains which the Friends of Government have taken to prevent it it is certain we shall have a House well affected to the cause of Freedom.
Be pleas’d Sir to acquaint Mr Churchill487 I hate him as sincerely as he does Mr Hayley, and that I wish for an opportunity to convince him of it. Whenever Ministerial Tyranny obtains a conquest over the Liberties of the People of Great Britain (which God forbid should ever happen) the friends of Freedom may depend upon finding an Asylum in America. I don’t much expect to see either you or mr Churchl in N Ed till that event takes place.
I beg Sir you would present my Compliments to Miss Wilkes—and to the choice Spirits the Elect at Appleby’s.
I am with the greatest esteem
Your oblig’d friend &
most hble Servt
[Endorsed:] . . . June 1771