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' Lucius' on the treatment the Colonies


Boston, March 17, 1775.

The Massachusetts Gazette of February 23d, has given the publick a long and laboured account of the terrible mischiefs done by mobs in this Province, and the names of the persons who are said to have suffered by them. I own I was not displeased at the particular mention of their names, nor would I have had one left out of this shining list: for the world ought to know, and posterity to remember the men who have taken so open and decisive a part against their Country, at a time when if was nobly exerting itself in one of the most important and severe contests that ever fell to the share of any community. That they have suffered, and will continue to suffer as long as any remains of honour and conscience, and feelings for the estimation and love of their fellow-subjects reside with them, I firmly believe. This is all the revenge their much injured Country has hitherto taken: of them.

That they live, some of them in affluence and splendour, upon the revenue extorted from, their much injured Country, live to combine their heads and hearts for enslaving America, is a striking proof of the moderation and


lenity of that people in whose power it was, had it been equally their inclination, to have taken another kind of revenge.

The Act for shutting up the Port of Boston, which the Tories themselves did not scruple at first to call unjust and cruel, and which the whole world regards with abhorrence and indignation, was received by the inhabitants of that Town in a manner that does them everlasting honour. Neither transported by resentment, nor sunk with fear, nor warped by a regard to their private interest, they have now for near nine months endured all the relentless rigour of that Act, and a total deprivation of the commerce upon which they subsisted, rather than set an example to America of a tame and base resignation of our invaluable rights. They calmly referred their cause to the whole Continent, knowing it to be a common one; they have accordingly been applauded and supported by all the Colonies, and are now waiting with a patience and fortitude that will never be forgotten, the final issue of this reference.

With respect to the other Acts of Parliament that soon followed, (for vacating our Charter, in the important article of appointing His Majesty' s Council, a branch of our Legislature, and for altering the mode of administering justice,) it was impossible for the people of this Province to exhibit the same patience. They waited indeed till the moment these Acts were to take effect, when they found, themselves reduced to this cruel alternative, either tamely to submit to a deprivation of privileges which they held dearer than life, or run the risk of an immediate opposition. Had they bowed their necks to the yoke at that important moment, it would have been riveted upon them forever; no resistance could afterwards have been made with any prospect of success. The force of humble petitions and complaints had been already tried for a succession of years, and the men who had distinguished themselves in defence of our inalienable rights would have felt all the resentment of Government, in its new and tyrannical form; and juries, pricked off by a Sheriff appointed and removable at the pleasure of the Chair, instead of acquitting, might only have given a sanction to the sufferings of the virtuous and loyal, though accused subject.

In this extremity, which they had been endeavouring by every means in their power to avoid, they determined upon a virtuous and brave opposition; an opposition, all circumstances considered, planned and conducted with great prudence, and a lenity not to be exampled. The freeholders of the several Counties, headed by men of the first estimation and character among them, peaceably assembled, and without doing injury to a single person, or any man' s property, calmly, though resolutely prohibited the courts of justice from sitting and acting upon a plan that must have ruined the liberties of their Country, and destroyed every security for their property and lives. In the same manner the people demanded of the Mandamus Councilmen a resignation of an office totally inconsistent with their Charter rights. Those who resigned were restored to the good opinion of their fellow-citizens, and have had nothing to fear. Others deluded their honest openhearted neighbours, who were ready to accept the slenderest pledges of an intention not to destroy their civil rights. When these men had gained the protection of the Army, they insulted the credulity of their countrymen, and have been incessant in their endeavours to bring military vengeance upon a people to whose tenderness and forbearance they owe their own safety.

After the well known Powder expedition, the general alarm consequent upon it, and the resolution of General Gage to reside, with all his Troops, in Boston, great pains were taken to induce all the friends of Government, that is, all the enemies to the claims of America, to remove to the same place, and claim the protection of the Army. Of such a measure the Commissioners of the Customs had before set an example, with no small success. Accordingly , some who might have remained at home in safety, and at ease too, had it not been for a consciousness that their own views and inclinations were directly opposite to what the whole community deemed its most important interests, removed with their families to Boston. It is easy to see with what views this measure was taken, and what consequences were expected and wished to follow from it.

History does not afford an instance of a people so long


irritated by cruel and oppressive innovations in their Government, harassed by Fleets and Armies, and an unheard of Port Bill, and obliged by the last necessity to oppose the mere forms of law to preserve the spirit and blessings of the British Constitution, who have conducted their opposition with more caution and moderation, and with less damage to those who have all along obstructed them in every probable method they could devise for their safety. This will appear more remarkable, when we consider, that in such contests injuries from brethren, men born and bred in the community, and under every obligation to protect its rights, are more severely resented than from strangers, and that many of these unnatural children of the Massachusetts were known to be its most implacable enemies, most ready to expose it by their speeches and writings to the scorn and hatred of the world, and most eager to whet the sword that might deluge it in blood.

In all this exertion for publick safety not a life nor a limb has been taken away; not a field has been laid waste, nor a dwelling destroyed. Some indiscretions and violences may have been committed by boys and the lowest of the people, which cannot, in such circumstances as this community has unhappily been reduced to, be prevented or properly punished. But are these to be compared with the horrid scene exhibited a few years ago, in King-street, on the fifth of March; with the bloody and dangerous affrays with the soldiery since that time, notwithstanding the utmost caution and exertion of the Commander-in-Chief to prevent them? Are they to be compared with the loss of property sustained by the Port Bill, and the distress and anxious apprehensions brought upon a large community of merchants, mechanicks, and yeomanry, by large Fleets and Armies, in hostile array? Or with the painful solicitude with which all our bosoms have been agitated for those rights, without which life itself would be a burden? And yet all these evils have been brought upon their Country; chiefly by the very men and their connexions who would represent themselves, in the world as suffering from it in the most inhuman manner. For it is plain, even to demonstration, that had these men, and their head, now residing in England, concurred with their Country in a love to its ancient Constitution, and its sacred rights; and had they honestly and steadily resolved to accept no commissions, nor to act from any under an innovated Government; had they done this at the beginning of our troubles. Administration must of necessity have given up the design of taxing America, and vacating our Charter; and all the distressing measures we have since endured for the purposes, would have been peaceably avoided. Instead of this, the Tories of this Province, under the auspices of Bernard and Hutchinson, have been the most zealous promoters, if not the original contrivers of this most injurious design, and the methods taken to effect it.

It is astonishing to observe how alienated these men are from the interest of the community in which they were born and educated, and still live; how inflexibly opposed to its prevailing sentiments and principles; and with what scorn and detestation they regard the united exertions of all America to defend itself from the attempts of a corrupt Administration to enslave it. In their account, the love of liberty is sedition; a claim of the rights of Englishmen, which are no more than the rights of human nature, is treason; and a deliberate united determination to defend them, is rebellion. If the people, the fountain of all civil honour and authority, and of whom the first rulers are incdeed servants; if the people, I say, assemble and consult for the preservation of their rights, these men immediately cry out in a rage, a mob! and seem to wish, like Nero, that the whole. Province had but one neck, that they might divide it at a stroke. They will plead in excuse for the Quebeck Bill, which establishes the Roman Cathotick Religion and a French Government in a British Colony, that it is tenderly accommodated to the prejudices of the majority in that Colony; but for the prejudices and misapprehensions of their brethren in the Protestant Colonies, allowing them to be in an errour, they have no indulgence. It is humane and just that the Canadians should claim and enjoy the tyranny of French laws; but for the British inhabitants of the other Colonies to urge their claim for British privileges, deserves confiscation of estate and a halter.

Let these men, if they please, go on to call the orderly


assembling of the freeholders of this Province in defence of their unalienable rights, a mob. It is such a kind of mob as has more than once preserved the British Constitution from absolute ruin; such a mob as rose in England, in the reign of James the Second, consisting of the body of the people, and the first characters in every literary and honourable department; a mob which the two Universities, the Clergy, and even the Army itself did not hesitate to join, and of which the great Churchill, afterwards John Duke of Marlborough, was a principal ringleader. The difference is, they opposed an arbitrary Monarch, while we are only defending ourselves against the unconstitutional, despotick power of our fellow-subjects — the Lords and Commons of Great Britain . They took the field. We have not yet been reduced, and I hope never shall, to that cruel necessity! May American mobs be crowned with the same success, and all posterity will revere them as the glorious conservators of the rights of mankind.




* See Volume I, Folio 1260.