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in the course of my life to be censured sharply for the part I took in them. Such censures I have generally passed over in silence, conceiving, when they were just, that I ought rather to amend than defend; and when they were undeserved, that a little time would justify me. Much experience has confirmed my opinion of the propriety of this conduct; for notwithstanding the frequent, and sometimes the virulent attacks which the jostlings of party interests have drawn upon me, I have had the felicity of bringing down to a good old age as fair a reputation (may I be permitted to say it?) as most public men that I have known, and have never had reason to repent my neglecting to defend it.
I should therefore (persisting as old men ought to do in old habits) have taken no notice of the late invective of the solicitor-general, nor of the abundant abuse in the papers, were I not urged to it by my friends, who say, that the first being de livered by a public officer of government before a high and most respectable court, the privy council, and countenanced by its report, and the latter having that for its foundation, it behoves me, more especially as I am about leaving this country, to furnish them with the knowledge of such facts as may enable them to justify to others their good opinion of me. This compels me to the present undertaking; for otherwise, having for some time past been gradually losing all public connexions, declining my agencies, determined on retiring to
ed each by its own laws, though with the same sovereign, and having each the right of granting its own money to that sovereign.
At the same time, I considered the king's supreme authority over all the colonies as of the greatest importance to them, affording a dernier resort for settling all their disputes, a means of preserving peace among them with each other, and a centre in which their common force might be united against a common enemy.
This authority I therefore thought, when acting within its due limits, should be ever as carefully supported by the colonists as by the inhabitants of Britain.
In conformity with these principles, and as agent for the colonies, I opposed the stamp act, and endeavored to obtain its repeal, as an infringement of the rights of the colonists, of no real advantage to Britain, since she might ever be sure of greater aids from our voluntary grants than she could expect from arbitrary taxes, as by losing our respect and affection, on which much of her commerce with us depended, she would lose more in that commerce than she could possibly gain by such taxes, and as it was detrimental to the harmony which had till then so happily subsisted, and which was so essential to the welfare of the whole. And to keep up, as much as in me lay, a reverence for the king, and a respect for the British nation on that side the water, and on this, some regard for the colonies (both tending to promote that harmony,) I industriously, on all occasions, in my letters to America, represented the measures that were grievous to them, as being neither royal nor national measures, but the schemes of an administration which wished to recommend itself for its ingenuity in finance, or to avail itself of new revenues in creating, by places and pensions, new dependencies; for that the king was a good and gracious prince, and the people of Britain their real friends. And on this side the water, I represented the people of America as fond of Britain, concerned for its interests and its glory, and without the least desire of a separation from it. In both cases I thought, and still think, I did not exceed the bounds of truth, and I have the heart-felt satisfaction attending good intentions, even when they are not successful.
With these sentiments I could not but see with concern the sending of troops to Boston; and their behavior to the people there gave me infinite uneasiness, as I apprehended from that measure the worst of consequences ;-a breach between the two countries. And I was the more concerned when I found, that it was considered there as a national measure, (since none here opposed it) and as a proof that Britain had no longer a parental regard for them. I myself in conversation sometimes spoke of it in this light, and I own with some resentment, (being myself a native of that country) till I was, to my great surprise, assured by a gentleman of character and distinction (whom I am not at present permitted to name) that not only the measure I particularly censured so warmly, but all the other grievances we complained of, took their rise, not from the government here, but were projected, proposed to administration, solicited, and obtained, by some of the most respectable among the Americans themselves, as necessary measures for the welfare of that country. As I could not readily assent to the probability of this, he undertook to convince me, and he hoped through me (as their agent here) my countrymen. Accordingly, he called on me some days after, and produced to me these very letters from Lieutenant Governor Hatchinson, Secretary Oliver, and others, which have since been the subject of so much discussion.
Though astonished, I could not but confess myself convinced, and I was ready as he desired to convince my countrymen; for I saw, I felt indeed by its effect upon myself, the tendency it must have towards a reconciliation, which for the common good I earnestly wished; it appeared, moreover, my duty to give my constituents intelligence of such importance to their affairs ;--but there was some difficulty, as this gentleman would not permit copies to be taken of the letters ; and if that could have been done, the authenticity of those copies might have been doubted and disputed. My simple account of them, as papers I had seen, would have been still less certain ; I therefore wished to have the use of the originals for that purpose, which I at length obtained, on these express conditions: That they should not be printed; that no copies should be taken of them; that they should be shown only to a few of the leading people of the government; and that they should be carefully returned.
I accepted those conditions, and under the same transmitted the original letters to the committee of correspondence at Boston, without taking or reserving any copy of them for myself. I agreed the more willingly to the restraint, from an apprehension that a publication might, considering the state of irritation in which the minds of the people there had long been kept, occasion some riot of mischiev. ous consequence. I had no other scruple in sending them, for as they had been handed about here to injure that people, why not use them for their advantage? The writers, too, had taken the same liberty with the letters of others, transmitting hither those of Rosne and Auchmuty in confirmation of their own calumnies against the Americans; copies of some of mine, too, had been returned here by officers of government; why then should theirs be exempt from the same treatment? To whom they had been directed here I could only conjecture; for I was not informed, and there was no address upon them when I received them. My letter, in which I inclosed them, expressed more fully the motives above-mentioned for sending them, and I