The Devil May Be the Lord’s Anointed

Post image for <center> The Devil May Be the Lord’s Anointed</center>

in by Warren

Date: February 29, 1768

“Messieurs Edes & Gi[ll,] Please to insert the following.

May it please you –, We have for a long Time known your Enmity to this Province.  We have had full Proof of your Cruelty to a loyal People.  No Age has perhaps furnished a more glaring Instance of obstinate Perseverance in the Path of Malice, than is now exhibited in your –.  Could you have reaped any Advantage from injuring this People, there would have been some Excuse for the manifold Abuses with which you have loaded them.  But when a diabolical Thirst for Mischief is the alone Motive of your Conduct, you must not wonder if you are treated with open Dislike; for it is impossible, how much soever we endeavour it, to feel any Esteem for a Man like you – Bad as the World may be, there is yet in every Breast something which points out the good Man as an Object worthy of Respect, and marks the guileful treacherous Man-hater for Disgust and Infamy. –

Nothing has ever been more intollerable than your Influence upon a late Occasion, when you had by your jesuitical Insinuations, induced a worthy Minister of State, to form a most unfavorable Opinion of the Province in general, and some of the most respectable Inhabitants [in] particular.  You had the Effrontery to produce a Letter from his Lordship, as a Proof of your Success in calumniating us. – Surely you must suppose we have lost all Feeling, or you would not dare thus tauntingly to display the Trophies of your Slanders, and, upbraidingly, to make us sensible of the inexpressible Misfortunes which you have brought upon us. – But I refrain, lest a full Representation of the Hardships suffered by this too long insulted People, should lead them in an unwarrantable Revenge.  We never can treat good and patriotic Rulers with too great Reverence – But it is certain that Men totally abandoned to Wickedness, can never merit our Regard, be their Stations ever so high.

If such Men are by God appointed,

The Devil may be the Lord’s anointed.

            A true Patriot.

Source: Boston Gazette, February 29, 1768, issue 674, suppl 2. Adapted without attribution from Rochester, J.W., W. Dillon, and C.S. Dorset. The Works of the Earls of Rochester, Roscomon, And Dorset: Also Those of the Dukes of Devonshire, and Buckinghamshire; London: Goodcurl publisher, 1735, p. 35

Commentary: Joseph Warren, writing under the pseudonym A True Patriot, adapts a literary reference implicitly condemning Royal Governor Francis Bernard for correspondence to Colonial officials in London derogatory to American Whigs. The stinging words pack multiple punches –they imply Bernard is a hellion unfit for office and seems to reject both the monarchy and the divine right of kings. The quote is adapted from the Earl of Rochester, who questioned the Restoration Monarchy in verse decades before. The source couplet reads:

“If such Kings are by God appointed,

The Devil may be the Lord’s Anointed.”

Rochester’s writings had been published in multiple editions in London. They were likely familiar to literate English speakers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

To put it mildly, Francis Bernard was not amused.

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