Gentlemen Paskalossians…Alter Your Method of Disputing

in about Warren

Date: February 2, 1767

Author: Roger De Coverly, a pseudonym

To the Publishers of the Boston Evening-Post.

Please oblige your Readers by giving the following a Place in your next.

Notwithstanding the great liberties which the warm opponents of Philanthrop have repeatedly taken with some of the most respectable characters among us, I must own, I was not a little surprised to find, with what freedom they have dared to treat me, in the last Monday’s Papers.  Why Gentlemen, do you know who I am? if not, let me tell you, that the famous Sir Roger De Coverly was my great Uncle’s own Cousin.  Do you consider what it is to oppugn, and speak disrespectfully of a Moderator? for such I am among you, and such, Gentlemen, positively I will be, whether you like it or not.  I love a joke, with a pipe and a tankard of porter, among friends, as well as any man in christendom; but I will always support the dignity of my office.  When I am moderating between contending parties, I will not have my ability or weight questioned by either side.  You Mr. E. E. pray Sir where did you learn your manners? to call me nothing but plain Coverly! is this, Sir, fit language to be used of your Moderator? and pray Sir, what business is it of yours where I got my logick, whether at Coverly or at Faneuil-Hall, or neither? but let me tell you, Mr. Prateapace, I did not get it where you got your manners.  And let me tell you further, Mr. Logician, that you don’t seem to understand the first rudiments of logick; or else you were very careless in reading my words.  I blamed you, or some of ye, for shifting the question; for Mr. A undertook to prove the G—r to be avaricious, in the affair of the Dollars at the Castle; and Philanthrop proved that he was not; and then you tack and say he was officious; (in a good cause, mind!) and now forsooth my skill in logick is called in question, because, truly, it is of some import whether he is officious.  Why what’s this to the purpose?  If it had been produced as an instance of officiousness and meddling, doubtless Philanthrop would have considered it in that light; otherwise I should have reproved him; but as it was produced to prove avarice, it ought to be confined to that; and the opponents were guilty of an evasion to avoid the entire force of Philanthrop’s conclusion, which I can by no means allow of in disputation; and I once more forbid it, as being contrary to all the rules of good logick and on pain of a much severer rebuke.  I must also tell you, Sir, that in your performance in last Monday’s Gazette, you are quite wide of the merits of the dispute; and are much too warm for a reasoner: you give a loose to ten times more anger and rage, scolding and cursing, and calling hard names, than you yourself condemn in honest Aminadab.  I am sorry to see such inconsistency.  Nay you seem to threaten hard; this looks as if you despair’d of victory in the way of fair argument, and would therefore frighten your antagonist.  This is wrong upon my word, Sir.

Mr. C. finds fault with Philanthrop for endeavouring to vindicate G—r B—d in the affairs of the Dollars, &c. as comparatively trifling.  Pray Sir, if they were trifling, why were they mentioned at all?  Please to answer me that in your next.  In the mean time, give me leave to think, that tho’ Philanthrop has shewn them to be trifles, yet they were produced by Mr. A. as high crimes and misdemeanors.  But further Sir, please to consider the beam in your own eyes.  You profess yourself to be “pleased at finding an advocate for G—r B—d,” and “to be really concerned for the reputation of the G—r.”  You blame the advocate for taking notice of trifles; and yet you trifle thro’ a column and an half, to prove this very advocate a liar, in an instance that is so evidently an undesigned mistake, that, I must tell you Sir, it is beneath a Gentleman and a Scholar to take the least notice of it; and it is utterly inconsistent with your introductory professions.  Pray Sir, think what you are about when you write; or else, don’t write at all.

Prithee Gentlemen let the dead rest peaceably in their graves; or, if you must raise them, don’t let it be, only to send them back again by murdering them, as you have done by poor Governor Winthrop.  For my part, Gentlemen, if I had used his name as you have done, I should not dare to sleep alone, lest his ghost should haunt me.

I find a piece in Messi[ ]rs Fleets paper, without any mark, or signature, as I think they chuse to call it; I hope the Printers did not compose it themselves.  But whoever this anonymous author is, he is certainly much wanting in the respect due to a Moderator.  But what, in the name of wonder, does he mean by quoting the words of Aminadab, to prove me guilty of partiality?  Surely I don’t mean to perswade me out of my christian name.  If Roger De Coverly is Aminadab Honesty, and what another man writes, is what I write; why then, my tabacco pipe may be a pheasant, and, as Humphry Ploughjogger says, a horse may be a cart, and Humphrey may be Toney, and soon; there’s an end of all distinctions.  For mercy sake, Gentlemen, keep within some bounds.  Why pray consider, that in this way of working, all your labour is lost entirely; for all you say of G—r B—d may be true, and all Philanthrop says may be true likewise; they may be all one and the same thing.  And this I guess you won’t like.  No, no, keep up distinctions, whatever you do. –

Paskalos calls, for the third time, he says, on Philanthrop, “to refute one single article of the charges brought by him against” – the G—r, I suppose he means; tho’ he don’t express himself very decently, but rather clownishly.  Why dear Mr. Paskalos, have you taken a nap of six weeks, or don’t you read the News-Papers?  One or t’other must be the case, and so Sir, I’ll tell you how [i]t [i]s.  You Sir, said some pretty hard things of the G—r, but in general termsPhilanthrop arose in his defence, and said you abused the G—r, for that he had done nothing worthy such cruel treatment.  Then Mr. A. took up the cudgels, and undertook to justify what you had said in general, by shewing in a variety of particular instances, that G—r B—d was guilty of the crimes for which the Roman Governor Verres, was infamous, viz. Avarice, &c.  Philanthrop closed here with Mr. A. and undertook to examine each article distinctly.  This he has been doing for some time past; he has, I think, to the satisfaction of most people, cleared up many things; and he seems to be pursuing his engagement steadily; what would you have more?  Pray Sir hear him out; and don’t interrupt him by calling on him, to do what he is doing.

I must insist on it, with all you Gentlemen Paskalossians, that you alter your method of disputing in several particulars, otherwise I must, tho’ against my inclination, exert the proper authority of a Moderator, and silence you.  There is a very unbecoming warmth and bitterness in the most of your writings, which tends not in the least to, the only worthy end of all disputation, the discover of the truth.  Philanthrop seems to think that he is engaged in the cause of publick peace and good government; and in the defence of an injured G—r; if these be his apprehensions, whether right or wrong, you must allow his principles are good, let his cause be ever so bad; and if so, then certainly he ought not to be abused; but you may convince him by calm and fair argument, that he is on the wrong side; and then, if he don’t knock under, I’ll soon silence him by virtue of my presidential authority.  On the other hand, if his cause be really good, as upon my honour I think it looks better and better every day, in this case Gentlemen, you will have reason to blush, for affecting to treat him with such contempt and indignity as you do.  Let me also advise you not to cast so many personal reflections at the supposed author; this leads you into great inconsistencies: sometimes you suppose him a G—r, sometimes a Judge, sometimes a Septemvirate, sometimes a Triumvirate, sometimes a poor lonesome insignificant Seeker, and upon all these inconsistent suppositions, you sneer very awkwardly Gentlemen.  And let me tell you, the rude insinuations you have thrown out, and the harsh names you have call’d him, and your weak attempts to depreciate his performances, are no advantage to your characters as Gentlemen, or as Scholars.  I remember a Latin scrap which I learnt out of Lilly’s Grammar, which, if I understand it, is very a propos,

Dedicisse fideliter artes liberales, emollit mores, nec sinit esse fe[r]os.[1]

That is, as I take it, a thor[o]ugh acquaintance with polite literature, softens our manners, banishes clownish rusticity, and renders us courteous to all.

– Pray mind it Gentlemen.

Roger De Coverly.”

Source: Boston Evening Post

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; F.F., February 2, 1767; Friend of the Province March 9, 1767.

Commentary: A Friend of Government takes Paskalos and other Whiggish pseudonymous writers to task for logical inconsistencies and for unwarranted vehemence in their newspaper attacks on Governor Francis Bernard.

[1] To dedicate oneself faithfully to the liberal arts softens the manners and does not allow one to be uncivilized.

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