Date: March 15, 1775
Author: Dr. Thomas Bolton
An Oration delivered March Fifteenth, 1775. At The Request of a Number of the Inhabitants of The Town of Boston
Ye Friends to justice, equity, and truth,
Ye Foes to falsehood, treason, and rebellion,
– – – – – – – With patience hear me.
The flourishes of rhetoric I cannot use—these will I leave to
the Sons of Liberty of this degenerate age.
I cannot boast the ignorance of Hancock, the insolence of Adams, the absurdity of Rowe, the arrogance of Lee, the vicious life and untimely death of Mollineaux, the turgid bombast of Warren, the treasons of Quincy, the hypocrisy of Cooper, nor the principles of Young—Nor can I with propriety pass over the characters of these modern heroes, (or, to use their own phrase, Indians,) without a few observations on their late conduct.
These sachems, or Indian chiefs, tho’ of different titles, all proceeded from one and the same tribe; who being originally inhabitants of a country a thousand leagues to the eastward, were transplanted (or in the vulgar phrase, transported) hither, only for asserting that claim, which is the natural right of every man, to a share of the good things of this world; which good things, Fortune had most unjustly bestowed upon others in too large a proportion.
It was a matter of dispute for some time whether they were of the Mohawk kind or not; and this suspicion, I imagine, first arose from the observation of a learned physiognomist, who perceiving their Os frontis to be uncommonly flat, burst out into the following exclamation:
Your sapsculls are neither square, oval, nor round,
A proof that their judgments can never be found:
I really believe they are put wrong way on,
As they seem to resemble a cobler’s lap-stone.
But notwithstanding the above assertion might border upon truth, yet several of these chiefs denied it, by openly declaring themselves to be neither more nor less than plain Narragansets; who scorn’s to scalp any person who would submit to have his private property destroyed, without complaining.
With regard to their political schemes, I challenge all Hell to match them. Law they have none, nor any do they want; and could they send to Salem or Endor to procure a witch to bring Mollineaux from the dead, even he would condemn them.
The First of these chiefs is A–ms, a sachem of vast elocution; but being extremely poor, retails out syllables, sentences, eulogiums, etc. to draw in the multitude; and it can be attested, that what proceeds from the mouth of A–ms is sufficient to fill the mouths of millions in America. But it is prophesied that the time is near at hand, when the frothy food will fail them.
But generous John scorns to let him starve—far from it; ’tis well known his purse-strings have been at Sam’s disposal ever since he assisted in making the Oration delivered by John on the 5th March 1774, to a crowded audience of Narraganset Indians.
The Second of these chiefs is H—-ck, who having been possess’d of too much money for a private gentleman, resolved to make a public attempt to become a Monarch, and having courted popularity and power almost as long as he did Miss ———— Miss ———— or Mr Barnard’s cook-maid, Betty Price, is at last likely to be jilted in his turn, and in the end to be wedded to beggary, contempt, and a g—–s.
The Third of these incomparable Indians is Rowe; a chief (according to George Alexander Stevens) possess’d of a great fund of knowledge; but having a skull of an uncommon thickness, and the sutures of the cranium being closely compacted, he never has been able to display any rational faculties, except when he invented the new method of making Tea.
But, oh! for words to grace the character of the most traiterous of men!—a modern Bravo. Did not the name of rebel stain the soldier, I could have afforded him a more brilliant title, and have call’d him a General. His name is L–. Oh! beware my friends of his follies! He mounted to almost the height of preferment, but mazed with ambition, he fell from the precipice, burst himself asunder, and exposing his pride, proved Mr. Pope’s assertion.
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods;
Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebell.
The Fifth of these chiefs is now no more. His name was M——–x. He had a strong aversion to all order, civil or ecclesiastic; he swore the K— was a tyrant, the Q—- a ————, the Prince a bastard, the bishops, papists, and the houses of lords and commons, a den of thieves. Thro’ the strength of his own villainny, and the laudanum of Doctor W—-n, he quitted this planet, and he went to a secondary one in search of Liberty.
The Sixth of these worthies is named W-rr-n; a man, who by his great skill in chemistry, could turn water into milk, and sell it for six coppers the quart. He was bound apprentice to an apothecary, and turn’d out a Quack; but thinking this profession too grovelling for so sublime a genius, he has lately changed it for that of Orator, and is already so great a proficient in the sough, or true puritanic whine, and his notes are so remarkably flat and productive of horror, that when he dismisses his hearers, you would swear they were just come out of the cave of Triphonius. – – – – – – – There’s an Orator for you!
Oh! that some Son of Liberty would go to hell, and fetch a spark from the altar of enthusiasm, to kindle in me the reforming zeal of W—-n!—then might I speak his language.
The Seventh of these pillars of the state is Q—cy, and tho’ I have placed him only as the seventh sachem, yet it has been asserted that he is worthy of a higher rank; having lately composed a Treatise, in which he absolved all his Majesty’s subjects from their allegiance; and was one of the first inventors of mobbing, tarring and feathering, and sundry other modes tending to the overthrow of all societies, civil and moral.
The Eighth of these heroes is Y—g, whose character cannot be drawn by any pen with the consistency that becomes a true limner. Could we raise up the spirit of one of the murderers of St Stephen, to tell us what a figure Paul cut, when he breathed out threatning and slaughter against his Saviour, then might we form an idea of Dr Y—g; but since that is impossible, I can only refer you to—his own countenance, wherein you may read his true and genuine disposition. Suffice it to say, this man stands accused of rebellion, not only against his Sovereign, but against his God—he makes a mock at the merits of his Redeemer, and uses his God only to swear by.
Oh! my friends and fellow subjects! what infatuation must possess the deluded fools who depend on such a race of rascals for their leaders!
I shall pass over many others who are too insignificant to become the subject of my pen; – – – – – – –
And now to end th’ infernal group here
Who is so fit as Doctor C—–?
When gospel trumpeter surrounded
With long-ear’d rout to battle sounded,
And pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
Was beat with fist instead of a stick;
He, prostituting his religion,
Turns a dispenser of sedition;
And to the greedy, gaping million,
For holy writ, deals out rebellion;
His sacred functions quite forsaking,
Smells profit in oration making;
And when with pangs and throws he’s dropt it,
Gets foolish, simple John t’adopt it:
By me advis’d, ne’er mind the nation,
But work at home a reformation;
Leave, against kings and rulers railing,
Give curtain lectures against stealing.
Instead of making an Oration,
Make sermons against fornication;
And with uplifted voice and hand,
Strongly enforce the seventh command.
Of your black crimes ‘gainst George and heav’n
Repent; you may be yet forgiv’n.
Reform the Rebel, Thief, and W———,
And mercy suppliantly implore;
Then entertain a ray of hope,
T’escape d-mn—-n and a Rope.
Source and References: Bolton, Thomas. An Oration: Delivered March 15th, 1775, at the Request of a Number of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston. New York: James Rivington, 1775. David Potter and Gordon L. Thomas, The Colonial Idiom, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, IL, 1970; pp. 301-304. Jones, E. Alfred. The Loyalists of Massachusetts-Their Memorials, Petitions and Claims. London: Saint Catherine Press, 1930, pp. 43-44.
Commentary: According to Potter and Thomas, “[I]n an effort to pass time and, perhaps, maintain their feeling of superiority, literate loyalists and British officers lampooned in verse, dramatic production, and oratory the “misadventures” of their antagonists. Typical of the oratory is… a burlesque of Warren’s second Boston Massacre oration.”
Dr. Thomas Bolton was a physician in Salem, Massachusetts, for a few years prior to the Revolution. There he may have encountered Dr. John Warren, Joseph’s youngest brother and medical apprentice, while both Bolton and Warren sought to establish medical practices in that town. At the commencement of hostilities on April 19, 1775, Dr. Bolton joined British forces as a volunteer. He was present at Battle Road, Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Quebec, presumably acting as a doctor rather than as a soldier. He suffered long-term and serious consequences from wounds sustained at Bunker Hill, relocated to England, and was granted a yearly pension of £50.
Tory publisher James Rivington certified Dr. Bolton’s services to the Crown. On July 13, 1776, Rivington stated, “Dr. Boulton exhibited after Dr. Warren’s treasonable oration at the Brick Meeting House at Boston on March 5, 1775, a humorous and satirical parody on this oration at the British Coffee House, in Boston, which was afterwards printed and published at the request of many principal officers of the army and by them sent to New York, where it was reprinted and became serviceable to the cause of Government.”