To Philanthrop (I)

in by Warren

Author: Paskalos, a pseudonym of Joseph Warren

Date: December 29, 1766

Source: Boston Gazette

Messieurs Edes & Gill,

I should be glad to have the following conveyed to Philanthrop, thro’ the Channel of your Gazette.

To Philanthrop.

Sir,

As I find you have several times mentioned me in your vain attempts to justify a certain unpopular gentleman, and have ignorantly and impertinently insinuated that I had engaged in a party to weaken government, I shall do myself the justice of assuring you that I am connected with no party, or set of politicians. I have no private selfish ends to answer. This is my native country, which I have from my earliest youth been taught to love and reverence. I have ever esteemed myself bound to defend the cause, and vindicate the honor of this kind indulgent parent. I have at all times been sensibly affected with joy at her prosperity; and with pain at her adversity. And when I found her environed with dangers, and threat[en]ed with ruin, it was natural that I should turn my [e]yes to the man whose business it was to watch for her safety, and who had received such particular favors from her hands, as ought to have engaged him forever in her interest. It was reasonable to suppose that he would have befriended and pitied her; at least, that he would not have insulted her in her misfortunes. But how was I surprized to find him advising her patiently to bow her neck to the yoke of slavery; and endeavouring to persuade her that tyranny and arbitrary power were disagreeable only for their novelty! I confess an apparent design to lull to sleep the pilots of our state, in so dangerous a storm, excited my indignation. However, I restrained my pen. — I hoped his unkindness did not arise from any fixed malice against my country, but from fear of giving offence to those on whom he depended. — But when the united cries of the colonies had reached the royal ear, and the British Parliament fully convinced of the injury done us, had kindly and wisely granted us relief, I doubted not but that all orders of men would have joined in promoting the peace and welfare of the people. Again I was disappointed, the cruel Verres then made it clear, that nothing could give contentment to his revengeful soul, but the ruin of this country: his disappointed malice broke out in every word and action: nothing pleased him, or could keep him in any tolerable humour. — This put me upon examining carefully into his conduct — Upon this examination was founded the opinion concerning him, which I freely and honestly published to the world, and have supported that opinion with arguments drawn from known facts; which arguments are unanswered, and I think unanswerable.

And now Philanthrop, since you have undertaken to defend the conduct of this man, let me inform you, that you have not a capacity equal to your undertaking: you are engaged in a bad cause, and are a very weak advocate: you have I grant a very good faculty of representing things very different from the truth, and where the facts are not well known, you may possibly answer your purpose; but when every man is fully acquainted with the true state of this matter, from his E—y the G—r even down to Abraham the Blackamore, I cannot think that misrepresentation will answer your design – Indeed Philanthrop you have entirely mistaken your genius.

I shall not take notice either of your spelling or pointing; I only inform you that I know when you are right and when wrong – And if you think a treatise on commas and semicolons absolutely necessary, I know of no person whose time the Public can better spare than your’s – but remember, when you have compleated this work, that some accuracy will be expected in your own performances.

I shall, in order to shew my good nature and complaisance, take the following quotation, points and all, from your first publication. “If then, no one has a right thus to destroy the established form o[f] government, it evidently follows, that no one can wilfully attempt it, without being guilty of the highest crime against the state – and it follows further, that whoever says or does any thing tending to this, be his intentions never so upright, is to be considered and treated as a public enemy, so far at least as to give a check to his proceedings.” – I shall in a very few words make it appear that Verres is the man who has wilfully attempted to destroy the established form of government in this province, and has done and said things tending thereto; and therefore by a consequence drawn from your own premises, is to be considered and treated as a publick enemy, so far at least as to give a check to his proceedings.

Now Sir, let me remark that the government of this province is lodged in the three branches of the legislature, which are as follow, the governor, the council, and house of representatives, who have each distinct powers and rights; and whoever attempts to deprive either of their authority, or endeavours to prevent them from freely exercising their rights, attempts to destroy the established form of government. And (because you have an extreme bad memory) I shall remind you of some things which none but you will ever forget: You dare not deny that the honorable members of the assembly have an undoubted right to chuse for counsellors such men as appear to them most likely to serve the public. And if they have, who but an enemy to the constitution would have pretended that the exercise of that right was a formal attack upon government, and an oppugnation of the King’s authority? yet Verres has asserted it. – Have not the representatives of a free people a right freely to give their votes in all matters which come before them? You must allow that they have. And if so, do they deserve punishment for exercising that right? Certainly to dispossess gentlemen of their honorable employments, because they exercise their just rights, is an attempt, and a very daring one too, to deprive them of those rights – but Verres has ventured upon it in the most public manner, in more instances than one. Again, have not the assembly a clear indisputable right to dispose of their own money, and to appropriate it as they think fit? You must know that they have. And yet Verres has more than once drawn money from their treasury, without consulting them, and sometimes for the most odious and hostile purposes. – Is not this an attempt to destroy, nay an actual violation of the constitution? And has not the same man endeavoured to persuade us, that a recommendation from a secretary of state, to grant a certain sum of money, was to be considered as coming with such authority as precluded all disputation about complying with it? Verres himself must confess I have not charged him falsly.

Pray Philanthrop, answer for once with truth and sincerity – Would not the established form of government have been miserably destroyed, if he had succeeded in these attempts? I cannot think that you will again appear in defence of the man who is so fairly condemned by your own law. – I beg you would not think me a Plagiary if I quote from you one paragraph more – and you may be assured, Sir, that I do it not because I have any particular desire to embellish my writing with any flourishes from you; but because I chuse that from your own mouth Verres should be condemned. You say, that “whatever tends to create in the minds of the people, a contempt of the persons of those who hold the highest offices in the state, tends [eventually] to destroy the subordination necessary to government.” If this assertion is true at all, it is undoubtedly as true of the other branches of the legislature, as of the G. And does not every one know, that Verres reviled, insulted and slandered the House and Board in a most unprecedented manner? – Indeed you have foolishly endeavoured to represent the base reproaches thrown against the province, in the same light with the kind admonition of a friend, who honestly tells us our faults to our faces. But thou short-sighted defender of a most dirty cause, Do we not know the G—r’s speeches to the assembly are published to all the world? that the Ministry and Court of Great-Britain become acquainted with them, and expect that the G—r gives sufficient reasons for treating the people over whom he presides, with such severity? A G—r who slanderously and falsly accuses the representative body of the people to their faces – becomes necessitated to support the injurious charge as well as he can, by representing them to the King & Parliament, as undutiful, disloyal & rebellious, since nothing else can render his own conduct in the least excuseable.

And I freely declare, that I never shall be easy under any government, where the chief magistrate has laid himself under a necessity to make the people appear villains, in order to prove himself honest; and therefore I cannot think the logick of my friend X so very new as you do.

You have taken great liberty with X and A, and several others, who, if I mistake not, are by no means your inferiors. Though, as I before informed you, I have no connections with those gentlemen, any otherwise than as friends to my country; as such I wish them well. – I shall readily & effectually answer you, Philanthrop, whenever you deny any thing which I have advanced – In the mean time, I trust that both A & X are capable of supporting their own assertions. I look upon myself no way concerned in the affair of Castle-William; nevertheless, I must observe, that the money even according to your own account, Philanthrop, was levied in an arbitrary manner, and never was applied to the use for which it wa[s] design’d: These things considered, in conjunction with the G—r’s character, may justify almost any supposition. I conclude, Sir, with advising you to quit the vindication of a man so justly odious to this country. For altho’ you declare you are no hireling; yet you must expect to receive scorn and abhorrence for your wages.

Paskalos.”

Commentary: The withering criticism of Governor Francis Bernard continues and extends to Friends of Government newspaper op-ed writers. If Paskalos is to be taken at his word, he writes as a Whig leaning independent: “I am connected with no party, or set of politicians.”

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