Primary tabs

Lord Stirling to Governour Franklin



Baskinridge, September 25, 1775.

SIR: Your Excellency' s letter of the 15th of this month was delivered to me last Saturday afternoon. At the time I wrote you my letter of the 14th instant, I did not know that Mr˙ Pettit was either Secretary or Clerk of the Council for this Province, for it was a matter of publick report, some months since, that he was displaced from every office he held under the Crown, and I have some other authority to believe that the report was true. I had therefore great reason to believe he wrote me the letter of the 7th as your private Secretary or Clerk, especially as he did not sign that letter with the additions of his office, which he generally did when he wrote officially. I shall not at present say any thing further in answer to your Excellency' s letter, as it would probably involve us in a long epistolary dispute, upon a subject which is already sufficiently understood by the generality of mankind. I cannot so easily pass over the postscript you have, on a sight of a copy of Mr˙ Pettit' s letter of the 7th instant, been pleased to add to your letter. The sight of this copy of Mr˙ Pettit' s letter seems, to have had a very strange effect. "Surprise, astonishment, mutilation, contemptible meanness, and dishonesty," are all jumbled together in a most violent agitation; and for what? Because, as you say, I have committed the heinous sin of leaving out the words further and in Council, in quoting Mr˙ Pettit' s letter. Let me beg a few minutes of your Excellency' s dispassionate, attention, while we examine into the importance of these words being left out or not. In the preceding part of the letter Mr˙ Pettit does not say that he has any thing in command from your Excellency, in Council or out of it, and had begun the second part of his letter with the words "I have it further in command." I believe your Excellency would have thought it nonsense; and, in quoting that paragraph, I believe your Excellency would have taken the liberty to have made sense of it. Where, then, could have been the important difference between his saying "I have it further in command," or "I have, it in command," unless it be to preserve as far as it is


connected with the preceding paragraph. But what must be your Excellency' s surprise and astonishment when I assure you that in the original letter from Mr˙ Pettit to me, now in my possession, the word "further" is not to be found. We will next examine the importance of the words "in Council." Whether your Excellency was in Council, or out of it, when you gave the command, it was equally your command; and if the command was improper or impolite out of Council, it is not the advice of your whole Council, which can sanctify it, or make it proper or polite in Council. Can your Excellency, therefore, be justified in using the language you have done on this occasion? Your Excellency next intimates that I have made frequent "publick as well as private declarations, that a man ought to be damned who would take up arms against his Sovereign on the present occasion." Your Excellency cannot assert this of your own knowledge, for I have never been in your company since the present occasion occurred. Since the rejection of the most humble, dutiful, and respectful petitions to the Throne has been known in America, since the battles of Lexington and Bunker' s Hill, since the wanton and cruel destruction of Charlestown, and since the design of the Ministry to bring indiscriminate ruin on the Colonies on this Continent has been publickly avowed, I have not had the honour of seeing your Excellency, and therefore I may, without offence to you, Sir, say that the assertion, so far as it relates to the present occasion, is false. To retort the rest of this extraordinary postscript would be descending to the language of a certain place in the environs of the Tower of London, with which I am but little acquainted. I shall only observe, that gentlemen who feel themselves intrenched in such exalted offices as that of Governour of a Province, should be extremely cautious how they make use of bad language, either in speaking or writing. The world is very censorious, and will be raising suspicions to their disadvantage. On this very occasion there may be some who will suspect that this postscript, as well as part of the letter, would not have been framed in the style it is, had we been in any other Province than New-Jersey.

I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,


To Governour Franklin.