Dr. Philianthrop in his First Paper

in about Warren

Date: February 2, 1767

Author: F.F., a pseudonym

To the Printers.

nec, quid speraret, habebat,

            Tantum inter densas, umbrosa cammina, fagos

            Assidue veniebat; ibi haec incondita solus

            Montibus et et sylvis studio jactabit inani.[1]

Dr. Philanthrop, in his first paper, asked two or three questions, which by his own logic with Mr. A. amount to a peremptory denial that G. B—d “ever employed his influence at the court of G. B. to the injury of this province, discovered the least inclination to abridge us of any of our constitutional rights or liberties, or attempted to stretch prerogative beyond its just bounds.”  A writer who signs B. B. struck, I conjecture, as I freely own I was, with astonishment, at the effrontery of the man, only modestly glanced at the undeniable and yet undenied transaction, at the general election 1764.  How pertinently he adduced that notorious instance of a bold and dangerous attempt against our constitutional rights and liberties, appears in part by the flutter the bare mention of it has occasioned in the Cabel, and the more abundant labours to smooth it over; but in the sequel it must be fully elucidated.  I own my surprize to find the allegations of B. B. at this distance so well established, that even Philanthrop has not dared to deny one of them: so far from it, that he has expressly conceded them all.  After this his general charge on B. B. of false colouring, his fibs about Dic, Richand and King Jemmy, must be taken as words of course, flowing from Jonathan’s small Budget of intelligence, every time he opens his mouth, snatches up his pen, “starts forth,” or “sallies out” in an Evening-Post.  I shall spend no time in triffling, but proceed immediately to examine Philanthrop’s colourings, and endeavour to shew all the world what kind of a painter he is.

In the first place, what he has alledged as the discourse, “in effect,” as he calls it, of Col. Otis, was not first said, if at all, by that gentleman, nor Col. White.  The truth is, as I am well informed, his honor the Lieut. Governor, the hon. Thomas Hubbard, Esq; and those two other gentlemen, as they had been old and experienced members of the house, and all of them in their turns speakers, were applied to by the G—r to declare their sentiments of the course and usage of the house, in regard to evidently illegal and irregular returns.  On the desire of the G—r, they all declared, and agreed in their opinion, of what had been the practice of the house.  It was also said, by one or all of them, “that there had been a precedent or precedents of a G—r sending a message to the house, after it was embodied, and before they proceeded to the election of counsellors, to notify them of a palpably illegal return, and that no offence had been taken, but the house had immediately proceeded at the desire of the chair, to determine the matter; and that sometimes they had done it on the motion,” or to that effect.  Who said this, at this distance, my informer will not be positive; but that all assented to it is certain.  And so it is that not one of those, or any other gentlemen of the council, said a word to the committee in justification of the seclusion of members in the unheard of way of excepting their names out of the Dedimus.  The G—r not finding that firm support in his newly devised project of a secluding clause, that he might expect, or for others reasons best known to himself, and which, if he pleases, he may communicate to Philanthrop against next week, at last said, he was content on the whole for the present to have the secluding clause considered in the nature of a message, i.e. sweet Philanthrop, in your stile, a caveat, or mild and kind notification to the house, that they were in danger of burning their fingers.  He also graciously condescended to consent all of the members should be sworn, provided he could be reasonably assured they would immediately proceed to a consideration of the Newbury return.  On this some of the committee, particularly Judge Russel, the hon. Ed. Trowbridge, Esq; & another, were for yielding the point, and readily complying with his E—y’s proposed expedient.  If I am misinformed in this, which is barely possible; yet I appeal to all the members of the then house, who are living, if those gentlemen did not with their whole force, oppose the motion for a conference, and urge the members to qualify under that ignominiously restrictive Dedimus?  The G—r was told by some of the committee, they had no doubt but the house would readily accept of the proposed expedient.  But others of them happened to be of quite a different opinion, and it was observed to the G—r to this effect, “Your E—y may be assured that those gentlemen who have spoken in favour of your expedient, have exceeded their commission.  We were not sent here to bargain away the privileges of a house of representatives; but to remonstrate against a procedure, which if valid, would put it intirely in a G—r’s power to decide whether there should be any house at all.  If the G—r can thus seclude two, he may seclude an hundred.”  One of them added, “I know not to flatter, your E—y is grossly deceived and abused by the persons who advised to this step.  And you will be deceived again, if you expect the house to recede an inch.  No such terms will nor can, and if I have influence enough to prevent it, they never shall be accepted.  The sole and independent right of the house to be absolute judges of the qualifications of their members, has this day been so openly at[ta]cked, that they must in justice to themselves, and [fi]delity to their constituents, insist on being left [ ]t perfect freedom in the case, which the first [prin]ciples of the constitution require.  And tho’ a message rightly conceived, or motion might at first have set all right, yet it is too late to think of either, after so dangerous a claim has been formally made, as a matter of rights & just prerogative of the crown.”  Much more was said to the same purpose.  The G—r at last receded.  But as Philanthrop has conceded, it was for that time only & he endeavors to show the propriety of representing the claim home.  What answer his E—y may have had to this packet of inclosures and packages, we are not yet informed.  However, as no seclusion of members has been since attempted, I conjecture he has a cold cause of it – But yet the claim subsists, and Philanthrop last Monday argued as well as he could in favor of it.  It was not therefore very consistent in him to represent this attempt as a sudden affair, and as readily given up.  Far from the truth is he in this.  The conference was lengthy, and the point at last yielded, as far as it was yielded, with great reluctance.  There was no question made in the conference but the return was illegal; and when it was afterwards made one in the house, it was so determined to be, without division or debate.  But the grand question was, if the house are sole judges of the qualifications of their members, or subject to a Praefectorial seclusion at pleasure.  I think it eno’ that the chair has a negative on counsellors and speakers, and too much of all conscience, unless a more discreet use of this branch of the prerogative was made than we have sometimes seen.  Thank God there can be no negative of a representative but by the house, or by his constituents.  The G—r in the instance before us clearly attempted to make himself sole judge of the returns to the house, and even to decide on those returns, before he would suffer the house, the only proper judges, to be embodied.  If he was right in this attempt, as master Philanthrop thinks he was, what could restrain him, or any other G—r, from secluding all but his dear creatures.  Had the members in 1764 been stupid or wicked enough to have qualified under such a restrictive Dedimus, they afterwards could only have humbly assented to the Governors forejudger of their secluded brethren.  It would have been in vain for them to dissent, for the G—r having before decided the point by refusing the oaths; on his and Philanthrop’s principles, the house could not have brought the secluded members in, had the return been found to be ever so legal and regular.  This attempt to G. B. on the essential and justly darling priviledge of a house of representatives, was much more dangerous than that of G—r L—tle—t—n of J—m—c-, which however, tis said caused his removal.  He as lord high chancellor of the island, moved peradventure with the usual compassion of plantation Praefects for the sufferings of their fellow men, only liberated two notorious culprits committed indeed for high contempt of the house of commons there.  But it was reserved to such geniuses as your B—d’s, your B—n’s, your King Jemmy’s and Charley’s, openly to assume to be sole judges who should set in, and who be secluded from a house of commons.  If G. B. was so very unusually conscience-bound by the letter or spirit, of the pretended instruction, why did he not attempt to seclude Col. William Williams, who on a time was returned as manifestly, prima facie, against a law of this province then lately made, and if I mistake not assented to by G. B. as were Messieurs Gerrish & Little?  That law did not give the town of Pittsfield, I think it was, the priviledge of returning a member within three years.  Col. Williams was returned within that term; he was therefore politically speaking born out of due season.  But not a lisp was there in the Dedimus of this premature and illegal return.  He stayed and actually voted in all the elections of the day, and the next morning withdrew or was dismissed.  Whereas it was notorious to all the house in 1764, that both Col. Gerrish and Capt. Little modestly declined voting or acting at all in the elections, notwithstanding the malicious and infamous suggestion of Philanthrop to the contrary.  His loose talk about the letter and spirit of an instruction, perhaps planned and drawn up here by the very men who transmitted to the great financier the bones of the sugar-act and stampt-act, is nothing to the purpose.  No instruction to a plantation G—r in letter or spirit ever directed him to seclude members from the house of representatives.  Should such an instruction be given, it would be against law and void.  And since Mr. Philanthrop talks of hanging all the hose of representatives, what the minister who should advise, and the G—r who should obey such an instruction would both deserve, is left to the consideration of the reader.  Is this or any other colony on the continent at this time of day to be governed by the dictatorial mandates of even a British minister, or by the known laws of the land?  There is no room to suppose with Philanthrop, that ever a house of representatives would suffer forty members from Boston, or any undue number from any other town, to set and vote with them.  But should that be the case, it would not give a governor a right to seclude any of the house, any more than mal-administration would give them a right to seclude him, nor so good neither: By a petition to his Majesty, and proof of the fact, this might be done.  Should the city of London return an 100 members to the house of commons, would this give the King a right to seclude them?  By no means.  Should the house of commons receive them, there would be an easy remedy at hand; his Majesty could constitutionally dissolve his parliament, and all the world in such a case would justify the measure, and his loyal subjects would testify their approbation by dropping such unreasonable men at a new election.  In the case before us, had the G—r waited till it was determined by the house whether to admit those two gentlemen, he might, had they been actually received, and if he tho’t they were influential eno’ to get any of his favorites out, for no “crime but their fidelity to the crown”, have called both houses traitors and rebels, dissolved the assembly, and sent them all home, as he ought last May, if the one half he said of them were true.

F. F.

In the 2d line of the motto, for cammina, r. cacumina; in the last, dele the last et, and for jactabit, r. jactabat.”

Source: Boston Gazette

See also: Beezlebub, June 9, 1766; Anonymous, November 24, 1766; Philopatriae, January 12, 1767; Philanthrop, January 12, 1767; C.C., January 12, 1767; Anonymous, February 2, 1767; Roger D. Coverly, February 2, 1767; Friend of the Province, March 9, 1767.

Commentary: FF., a pseudonymous Whig writer referencing Paskalos and B.B., joins the newspaper fray against Tory writer Philanthrop and the latter’s defense of Governor Francis Bernard. This piece accuses Governor Bernard of attempting to exclude legally elected representatives from the province House of Representatives.

Joseph Warren’s Paskalos was likely to have been a Whig-leaning independent, who was one of Benjamin Edes’ informal group of Boston Gazette writers.



[1] … and he was not having what he was hoping,

so among the thick beech trees, the shadowy canopy,

ceaselessly he used to go.  There, alone, these uncouth things

he would hurl to the mountains and the trees with hollow zeal.

– Vergil, Eclogue 2

Previous post:

Next post: