Unjust, Ungenerous and Indecent Attacks that Ever Were Made on a Public Character

in about Warren

Date: January 12, 1767

Author: Philanthrop, a pseudonym

Please to insert the following in your next.

Justum et tenacem propositi Virum,

            Non Civium Ardor prava jubientium, —

Mente quatit solida. — — —[1]


When at first I undertook the defence of his E—y, G—r B—d, against the most unjust, ungenerous and indecent attacks that ever were made on a public character, I had nothing in view, but, so far as was in my power, to enable my countrymen to see and pursue their true interests; and in judging upon the matters in debate, to do justice to their injured friend and G—r. – I was sensible that an honest and well disposed people, might easily be betray’d into an erroneous and partial judgment, by having their attention fix’d on one side of the question only; that, according to the trite proverb, one Story is, and always will be, good, till the other is told – and that therefore it was no more than what common justice required, that they should hear the defence, previous to their giving judgment upon the charge.  In this view, the fairest method, and which was most directly conducive to attain the end I proposed, was, as I then thought and still think, to examine impartially to the bottom, the several particular articles of impeachment against his E—y, and to trace each story, distinctly, to its original source – whereby all who are to judge might clearly discern, whether they had or had not any foundation in truth; and if they had, whether his E—y’s conduct, in each particular instance, proceeded from good or bad principles: — whether he was actuated by the base, selfish motives of avarice, rapacity and rooted enmity to this province – or by the generous motives of benevolence and public virtue.  This impartial examen, I humbly conceived I had an undoubted right to make, as a free born Englishman, and as a member of the community whose peace and happiness were intimately concerned in a discovery of the truth. – I also apprehended it to be altogether needless to give any other answers to general accusations, unsupported by evidence, than barely to say they were not true – this I conceived was all that was expected in argument upon any subject – and this, from the opinion I had formed of the good understanding of my fellow countrymen, for whos[e] information I write, I concluded would be all t[h]at they would require – I was perswaded they would not judge it requisite for me, against a general charge that his E—y was a murderer, to take upon me the unreasonable burthen of proving the negative side – but they would rather expect his accusers should point out the particular instance – and that I should defend him against that – and so of all other crimes. – Lastly, I have presumed to think, that as I had good right to enter upon this enquiry, so also, I was indisputably at full liberty to pursue it, in such method and order, as, to me, seemed fittest and best.  Accordingly, under these apprehensions, I have, in several papers, after careful examination, laid before the public, the facts from whence have been deduced several articles of charge against his E—y the G—r and his H—r the L—t G—r. – and I have many more, which in my own time and way, I shall impartially exhibit.  But, I had well nigh said, to my surprize, I have found the wrath of the accusers to wax hot and fierce against me, for presuming to write – and still hotter and fiercer for daring to write in my own way – Infamy, public scorn, death and destruction are denounced – Paskalos thunders with four fold malignity – A’s and A A’s, B’s and B B’s, in short almost the whole alphabet is conjured up, to assist in anathematizing Philanthrop, for the unpardonable sins of writing in defence of the G—r, and of not writing in the particular mode and form which the Junto are pleased dictatorially to prescribe.  But, as I have heretofore observed, there is an essential difference between scolding and reasoning – the latter, if it be fair and conclusive, will, I hope, always convince me; the former, neither influences my judgment, nor touches my passions. – Conscious of the integrity of my intentions, and, as yet, firmly perswaded of the justice of my cause, I can read with a calm serenity, all the abuse which the angry few can write against me; and consider it only as the last efforts of an expiring disappointed party.  I am well aware of the design to shift the dispute from G—r B—d, to Dots and Dashes, Colons and Semi-colons – and that instead of vindicating any farther, the conduct of his E—y, they would draw me into a defence of Philanthrop’s writings – but I am not thus to be diverted from my purpose; Proteus may assume a thousand shapes – he may assail under the mask or signature of Paskalos, A, AA, B, BB, Brutus, Cimon, X, or any other whatever, still I shall know Proteus – there are characteristick marks in each performance, sufficient to convince an attentive reader, that they all proceed from one and the same fountain – and they may assure themselves that all their cobweb artifices will not avail; I will neither be wheedled, nor threatned, nor prophecy’d out of my fix’d resolution, to examine, in my own way, every charge brought against G—r B—d, and, if it can be fairly done, to set his character for integrity and true friendship to the province, in that just point of light, in which I really think it ought to stand. – But for the satisfaction of the honest enquirers after the truth, I beg leave to observe, that as I will by no means offer any thing to the public, in vindication of his E—y or of any other, until I am myself fully convinced of the truth of it – and as I have not opportunity now to enquire into the truth or falshood of all the articles of charge; I cannot always answer them in the order in which they are alledged – and this, I hope, will be a sufficient apology for my passing over some at present, provided I consider them all before I conclude; which the public may depend on. –

In pursuance of my general design, I shall now observe upon another charge brought by A. against his E—y; which, as I conceive, is imply’d in the following query to Philanthrop – namely, – “Whether he has not heard of a G—r who could cause a certain Waterman to be arrested for a pretended false reply to some interrogatories founded thro’ a speaking trumpet, and then accept of five guineas as a private composition, when upon conviction the province would have been intitled to fifty pounds.”

It seems necessary to observe here, that since I explained the affair of the Dollar, at Castle-Island, in which I expressed my fears that A. had wilfully imposed a palpable falshood on the public – he has seen fit to acknowledge the fact to be as I related it – and has own’d that he knew it to be different from what he related – but yet chargeth me with cruelty and mistake, in suggesting that he imposed a falshood, because, he says, it was only a Query.  Now this is most certainly a quibble unworthy the pen of a writer who pretends to fair dealing; for all his charges are made in queries – and he could not but know that all his readers must understand his queries to have the force of direct affirmations – and it would be an evasion no more beneath a man of honour, if A. should now say, that his long string of queries about G—r B—d have no relation to Governor Bernard. – I shall therefore without scruple, consider the query now to be explained, as a positive assertion, to the following purport – That a certain Waterman – or Boatman was once hailed in passing the Castle, either by a bad speaker, or thro’ a bad trumpet – or in windy weather – or at too great a distance, so that he did not understand the questions put to him, and therefore innocently gave wrong answers; or else gave true answers, and was, or was pretended to be misunderstood – that for this real or pretended mistake the G—r caused him to be prosecuted, and then privately compounded the matter with him, and for five guineas which he pocketed, dropt the prosecution – that if the said Waterman had been convicted, he must have paid fifty pounds to the province; so that either the G—r unjustly extorted five guineas from the poor Waterman, or else he defrauded the province of fifty pounds – and consequently he was in this instance guilty of sordid avarice and unfaithfulness. – This I think is a just paraphrase upon the Query, and is no more nor less than what every one who has read it, must understand by it.  And if it was true, undoubtedly it was an instance of sordid avarice and unfaithfulness.  But the truth and generosity of the charge will best appear from the following account of facts, from which this formidable story takes it rise, if from any thing. –

By an act of this province made and passed in the 30th year of his late Majesty Geo. 2d. it is enacted, among other things, “that enquiry shall be made by the officer on duty at Castle William of every vessel coming from sea and passing by the castle – whence they came, and whether they have any infectious sickness on board, &c. and every commander giving a false answer shall forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, one moiety thereof to the use of the province, and the other moiety to the use of the informer, or suffer six months imprisonment.” – In the year 1760, the small-pox prevailed at Philadelphia; and the Selectmen of Boston were informed that several vessels from Philadelphia had passed the castle, by pretending to be from some other port – whereupon they applied to his Excellency the Governor, as commander of the castle, acquainting him with it, complaining that the town was endangered, and praying that effectual care might be taken to prevent it for the future – accordingly the Governor gave orders that strict enquiry should be made at the castle of all vessels inward bound.  On or about the sixteenth day of October 1760, one John Waterman, master of the sloop Deborah, belonging to the island of Nantucket, arrived in the harbour of Boston from Philadelphia; and being hailed at the castle, and asked from whence he came, answered, from Nantucket; and so was suffered to pass, and came up to Boston.  Of this the Selectmen being informed, they again made complaint to the Governor, and desired his advice in the affair; who told them, the only way to prevent such dangerous practices was to prosecute him for the penalty – accordingly Joshua Henshaw, Esq; and others the Selectmen of Boston, commenced an action against Waterman – but he readily acknowledging his fault, and promising amendment for the future; and the Governor being informed that he was poor and unable to pay the penalty, he desired the Selectmen not to exact it – but inasmuch as the passing it over, entirely without notice, might encourage him and others in a practice which might prove fatal to the town of Boston, he advised them to take five guineas of him and drop the action – and advised further, that when Waterman had performed another voyage, if upon his return he answered truly when hailed, that then his money should be restored – this he thought would answer all the good  purposes of a prosecution.  With this advice the Selectmen comply’d – and Ezekiel Goldthwait, Esp; who was then Town-Clerk, received the five guineas, and gave Waterman a receipt for them, and the action was drop’d.  And in the month of June 1761, Waterman having performed another voyage, and behaved unexceptionably, the five guineas were, by the desire of the Governor, repaid by Mr. Goldthwait to Waterman, for which he gave his receipt.  This was the only money paid by Waterman, or any other person, in this affair; and this was never in the hands of the Governor, but remained with Mr. Goldthwait from the time Waterman paid it until it was returned to him again. – If the truth of any of these facts be doubted by any, let them enquire of Mr. Goldthwait, or any of the Selectmen of Boston for the year 1760, and be satisfied.  And now, let all mankind judge, whether it was not cruel and unjust to the last degree, that this instance of G—r B—d’s care for the safety of the town of Boston on the one hand, and compassion to a poor man, on the other hand, should be urged as a proof of avarice and unfaithfulness. –

That neither A. nor any other of the G—r’s enemies, or my opponents, may ever meet with such accusers, is the hearty and unfeigned wish of,


[To be continued.]”

Source: Boston Evening Post

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

Commentary: Philanthrop, a Friend of Government, sets out to defend Governor Francis Bernard from Warren’s Paskalos and other Whiggish critics.

[1] (Editor’s Latin translation, from Horace, Odes 3:3):

“The man just and steadfast of resolution,

 the heat of  citizens decreeing the perverse

does not shake from a firm mind.”

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