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company them with any request of being myself concealed, for believing what I did to be in the way of my duty as agent, though I had no doubt of its giving offence, not only to the parties exposed, but to administration here, I was regardless of the consequences. However, since the letters themselves are now copied and printed, contrary to the promise I made, I am glad my name has not been heard on the occasion; and as I do not see it could be of any use to the public, I now wish it may continue unknown, though I hardly expect it. As to yours, you may rely on my never mentioning it; except that I may be obliged to show your letter in my own vindication, to the person only who might otherwise think he had reason to blame me for breach of engagement."
With the above-mentioned letter of the 14th of June, I received one from another of the gentlemen to whom the papers had been communicated, which says, “ By whom and to whom they were sent is still a sceret, known only to three persons here, and may still remain so if you desire it.” My answer to him of July 25th, was, “I accompanied them with no restriction relating to myself: my duty to the province as their agent, I thought, required the communication of them so far as I could. I was sensible I should make enemies there, and, perhaps, might offend government here; but these apprehensions I disregarded. I did not expect, and hardly still expect, that my sending them could be kept a secret. But since it is such hitherto, I now wish it may continue so, because the publication of the letters, contrary to my engagement, has changed the circumstances. His reply to this of the 10th of November, is, “ After all the solicitous inquiries of the governor and his friends respecting his letters, it still remains a secret from and to whom they were sent here. This is known among us, to two only besides myself; and will remain undiscovered, unless further intelligence should come from your side the water, than I have reason to think has yet been obtained. I cannot, however, but admire
honest openness in this affair, and noble negligence of any inconveniencies that might arise to yourself in this essential service to our injured country.”
To another friend I wrote of the same date, July 25th, what will show the apprehensions I was constantly under of the mischiefs that attend a breach from the exasperated state of things, and the arguments I used to prevent it, viz. “ I am glad to see that you are elected into the council, and are about to take part in our public affairs. Your abilities, integrity, and sober attachment to the liberties of our country, will be of great use, at this tempestuous time, in conducting our little bark into a safe harbor. By the Boston newspapers there seem to be among us some violent spirits, who are for an immediate rupture. But I trust the general prudence of our countrymen will see, that by our growing strength we advance fast to a situation in which our claims must be allowed ; that by a premature struggle we may be crippled and kept down another age; that as between friends every affront is not worth a duel, and between nations every injury is not worth a war; so between the governed and the governing, every mistake in government, every encroachment on rights, is not worth a rebellion: it is, in my opinion, sufficient for the present, that we hold them forth on all occasions, not giving up any of them, using, at the same time, every means to make them generally understood and valued by the people; cultivating a harmony among the colonies, that their union in the same sentiments may give them greater weight; remembering withal that this Protestant country (our mother, though of late an unkind one) is worth preserving; and that her weight in the scale of Europe, her safety, in a great degree, may depend on our union with her. Thus conducting, I am confident, we may, within a few years, obtain every allowance of, and every security for, our inestimable privileges, that we can wish or desire.” His answer of December 31st is: “I concur perfectly with
in the sentiments expressed in your last. No considerate person, I should think, can approve of desperate remedies, except in desperate cases. The people of America are extremely agitated by the repeated efforts of administration to subject them to absolute power. They have been
amused with accounts of the pacific disposition of the ministry, and flattered with assurances that upon their humble petitions all their grievances would be redressed. They have petitioned from time to time, but their petitions have had no other effect than to make them feel more sensibly their own slavery. Instead of redress, every year has produced some new manœuvre, which could have no tendency but to irritate them more and
The last measure of the East India Company's sending their tea here, subject to a duty, seems to have given the finishing stroke to their patience. You will have heard of the steps taken at Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, to prevent the payment of this duty by sending the tea back to its owners. But as this was found impossible at Boston, the destruction of the tea was the consequence. What the event of these commotions will be God only knows.
The people through the colonies appear immovably fixed in their resolution, that the tea duty shall never be paid; and if the ministry are determined to enforce these measures, I dread the consequences: I verily fear they will turn America into a field of blood. But I will hope for the best."
I am told that administration is possessed of most of my letters sent or received on public affairs for some years past; copies of them having been obtained from the files of the several assemblies, or as they passed through the post-office. I do not condemn their ministerial industry, or complain of it. The foregoing extracts may be compared with those copies; and I can appeal to them with confidence, that upon such comparison these extracts will be found faithfully made; and that the whole tenor of my letters has been, to persuade patience and a careful guarding against all violence, under the grievances complained of, and this from various considerations, such as that the welfare of the empire depended upon the union of its parts, that the sovereign was well-disposed towards us, and the body of this nation our friends and well-wishers; that it was the ministry only who were prejndiced against us ; that the sentiments of ministers might in time be changed, or the ministers themselves be changed; or that, if those chances failed, at least time would infallibly bring redress, since the strength, weight and importance of America was contiqually and rapidly increasing, and its friendship, of course, daily becoming more valuable, and more likely to be cultivated by an attention to its rights. The newspapers have announced, that treason is found in some of my letters. It must then be of some new species. The invention of court lawyers has always been fruitful in the discovery of new treasons: and perhaps it is now become treason to censure the conduct of ministers. None of any other kind, I am sure, can be found in my correspondence.