On the repeal of the Stamp Act, there was an expression of general joy, and controversy subsided. When fresh aggressions, in, the passage of the Revenue Acts of 1767, required a new movement, the popular leaders, profiting by past sad experience, strove to prevent excesses, and patiently labored to build up their cause in the growth of an intelligent public opinion. Even in reference to obnoxious local officials, the word ran through the ranks,—"Let there be no mobs, no riots. Let not the hair of their scalps be touched." Hard as it is to restrain the rash, when the popular passion is excited, not a life was sacrificed, not a limb even was dislocated, by the patriots of Boston in political action, until the ripe hour of the Lexington rising.
In this way Massachusetts, when called upon to stand by old customs and rights, acted not only in a spirit of fidelity to liberty, but also in a spirit of loyalty to law and order. Her conduct in the Stamp Act crisis turned towards her the eyes and drew towards her the hearts of the other Colonies, and elevated her into what was then a perilous, but is now a proud, pre-eminence; and the call was made on her (1767) in the journals of other Colonies, and copied into the Boston papers, as "the liberties of a common country were again in danger," "to kindle the sacred flame that should warm and illuminate the continent." So instinctively did the common peril suggest the thought and expression of a common country.
The Loyalists, for years, put Boston as in a pillory for punishment. It was (they said) the head-quarters of sedition. It was the fountain of opposition to the Government. It was under the rule of a trained mob. It was swayed to and fro by a few popular leaders. It was the nest of a faction. James Otis and Samuel Adams were the two consuls. Joseph Warren was one of the chiefs. John Hancock was possessed of great wealth and of large social and commercial influence. Such leaders, bankrupts on the exchange or in character, controlled everything. They controlled the clubs,—and there was not a social company or political club that did not claim to have to do with the Government: they controlled the town-meetings,—and these were the instrumentalities of rebellion: and the town-meetings controlled the legislature, and this controlled the Province. Then the local press was filled with incendiary matter from the cabinet of the faction. Thus the spirits who led in the clubs, the town-meetings, and the legislature supplied the seditious writing that was scattered broadcast over the Colonies, and poisoned as it spread.
There was some truth in this Loyalist strain. Patriotic rays gathered and drew to a focus in Boston, and there became intensified with a steady power. The town had jealousies to encounter and prejudices to overcome; but, as if to the manner born, it acted in a spirit of such comprehensive patriotism that it came to be regarded as an exponent of the feelings of the whole country. Its key-note was Union. In fitting words Philadelphia (1768) grandly said to Boston,—"Let us never forget that our strength depends on our union, and our liberty on our strength; united we conquer, divided we die." Boston returned the pledge, "warmly to recommend and industriously to promote that union among the several Colonies which is so indispensably necessary for the security of the whole."
Boston at this period is usually described as a noted and opulent trading town,—the Great Town,—the Metropolis of New England,—the best situated for commerce in North America,—the largest city in the American British Empire. It had the air of an English city. Its commodious residences had spacious lawns and gardens and fields; while the contents of its stores, as seen in advertisements that sometimes cover a broadside of the journals, and the number of ship-yards that are shown by the maps to have girdled the town, betoken its business activity. Its population of sixteen thousand, with its three thousand voters, and no pauper class, had carefully nurtured the common school, and was characterized not only by love of order, but by enterprise, intelligence, and public spirit. It early welcomed the doctrine of a right in the people to interpret the religious law and to fashion, the political law, and thus practically welcomed freedom of thought and of utterance, and acknowledged allegiance only to truth. It had tested for more than a century the working of this principle, as it was carried out in the congregation and in the municipality, in the Church and in the State. By it each citizen was made deeply interested in the support of liberty; and thus the town had not only a public, but a public life, quietly nurtured as worthy citizens were successively called to manage the local affairs. It furnished the instance of a community composed of men of small estates who very rarely had to use a mark for their name, and imbued by the spirit of individual independence toned into a respect for law, which, on the decline of feudalism, began to play a part on the national stage. Thus the political character of Boston was sharply defined and firmly fixed. It started in the republican way, went on for over a century in republican habits, and had the priceless heirloom of principles and traditions that were certainly life-giving, and may not inaptly be termed national. The prediction was publicly uttered here, two centuries ago, and printed, that a day would come when "those that were branded before for Huguenots and Lollards and Hereticks, they should be thought the only men to be fit to have crowns upon their heads, and independent government committed to them"; and the crown that shone with superior lustre was progress in things that elevate and adorn humanity.
Such a government, so far as it regarded local affairs, the people substantially enjoyed under the protecting wing of a proud nationality. They loved the old flag. They claimed its history as their history, and its glory as their glory. It gave security to their rights as men, as Christians, and as Englishmen. It thus sheltered the precious body of civil and religious liberties which they were in the habit of speaking of as the rights of mankind. For this they were attached to the English Constitution. For this they said, "Dear England!" Their strong expressions in favor of the union with Great Britain were sincere. The turn of the words showed the honest bent of the mind. No man respected the English Constitution more than Samuel Adams, and his strong language now (1768) was,—"I pray God that harmony may be cultivated between Great Britain and the Colonies, and that they may long flourish in one undivided empire." His resolution was no less strong to stand for local self-government. As the idea began to be entertained that the preservation of this right might require a new nationality, nothing legs worthy for country was thought of than a union of all the Colonies in an American commonwealth, with one constitution, which should be supreme over all in questions common to country, and have one flag. The great idea was expressed by New Jersey, that the continent must protect the continent.
This idea of creating a new nationality was forced on the Colonies by wanton aggressions on the local self-government. There was far from unanimity of opinion as to the acts, much less as to the ascribed purposes of the Ministry. Setting aside a class of no-party men in peace and of non-combatants in war, the people of Boston, as of other places, were divided into the friends and the opponents of the Administration, Loyalists and Whigs. The Whigs held that the new policy was flat aggression on the old republican way, hostile to their normal political life,—in a word, unconstitutional: the Loyalists maintained that the new policy was required to preserve the dependence on Great Britain, and therefore a necessity. The Whigs, zealous as they were for the local government, claimed to be loyal to the King: the Loyalists, however zealous for the independence of Parliament, claimed, in supporting the supremacy of law, to be friends of freedom. As it was not the original purpose of the Loyalists to invoke for their country the curse of arbitrary power, so it was not the original purpose of the Whigs to sever relations with the British crown. Men, however, are but instruments in the hands of Providence. Both parties drifted into measures which neither party originally proposed or even desired; and thus the Loyalist, to maintain the sovereignty of Parliament, grew into the defender of arbitrary power, and the Whig, to preserve the local government, grew into the asserter of national independence.
Nor was there unanimity among the Patriots themselves as to the way in which the Revenue Acts ought to be opposed; indeed, some were averse to making any opposition to them; but at length the policy of uniting the Colonies in the non-importation agreement, after being talked over at one of the political clubs in Boston, was agreed upon at a public meeting, and sent out to the country. Hence this was the period fixed upon by the Ministry as the time when the popular leaders made themselves liable to the penalties of violated law. When, in England, the idea was entertained and acted upon, that nothing would restore the authority of the Government but the arrest and transportation to London of the originators of the opposition to the Revenue Acts, Lord Hillsborough's instructions to the Massachusetts Executive ran thus:—"The King has thought fit to direct me to signify to you his Majesty's commands that you do take the most effectual methods for procuring the fullest information that can be obtained touching all treasons or misprisions of treason committed within your government since the 30th day of December, 1767, and transmit the same to me, together with the names of persons who were most active in the commission of such offences."
This language was addressed to Francis Bernard, who was at this time the highest representative of British power in Boston. He was a native of England, an Oxford graduate, and, from the training of Solicitor of Doctors Commons, was sent over, by the favor of aristocratic relationship, to be the Governor of New Jersey, and now for eight years had been Governor of Massachusetts. He was a scholar, and kept his memory of Alma Mater fresh. He loved literature and science, could write elegies in Latin and Greek, used to say that he could repeat the whole of Shakspeare, and had such gifts of conversation as to charm the social circle. His politics were of the Oxford school, and old at that. He looked upon the people with distrust, and upon the king with veneration: the people had good claim to be well governed, and British Imperialism had the divine right to govern them well. He was a good hater of republican institutions; habitually spoke of the local self-government as a trained mob; and to it (he was not far from right here) he ascribed the temper of the community which he was set to care for and to rule. It was vexatious to his Tory spirit to see the democratic element, which had excluded primogeniture and the hereditary principle and large landed estates, so firmly bedded here, as if for a mighty superstructure; and his reform plans tended to a change to centralization. It was a marvel to him, that this work, which he deemed essential to the maintenance of British power here, had not been begun long before,—that Charles II. had not made a clean sweep of the little New England republics. He urged that this ought to be done now,—that more general governments ought to take their place, with executives having vice-regal powers; and of course, being English, he urged that they should be moulded by England into a shape as nearly as possible like England and for the benefit of England, and thus be made homogeneous. He sighed to impose the dazzle of a miniature St. James on reality-loving New England: as though the soil which had been furrowed for a race of sovereigns could grow a crop of lords; as though the Norman role of privilege could be engrafted on a society imbued with the Saxon spirit of equality: and he clinched the absurdity of his thought by uttering the prediction, that, though the people might bluster a little when such reform was proposed, yet they never would resist by force; and if they did, a demonstration of British power, such as the presence of the King's troops in a few coast-towns and the occupation of a few harbors by the royal navy, would soon settle the contest.
As such an arrogant official, from yet unsealed Oxford heights, thus paternally looked down over Boston and New England, he could see in the little self-directing communities that clustered about the village church and the public school but a race of nobodies. He may be pardoned for not finding greatness in art, literature, or science in the circle that has been called the Athens of America; he could not be expected to measure the rich and enduring fame of a Jonathan Edwards; and it was an article in the then Oxford creed, that there could not be, unmoulded by the influences of an hereditary nobility, such a general product as a people lifted up by education and religion into a self-directing race of high-minded men, as the basis of a State. But a small class of British observers, who had other principles and other eyes, saw now in Boston the most orderly town and the most intelligent and moral people on the face of the earth; and said—the words were printed (1768) in London, and reproduced in the local press here—that no people since the ruin of the Roman Commonwealth seemed to entertain more just ideas of liberty or breathed forth a truer spirit of independence than these American colonists. Now Governor Bernard and his political friends regarded the chafings of such a people at what they held to be palpable aggressions on their established system of local government as the acts of a trained mob, and proofs of a long-matured design to cast off allegiance to the British crown and of an immediate purpose of insurrection; and for years they systematically urged, and attempted to fortify their policy by the most unscrupulous misrepresentations, that nothing could check this anarchical element and traitorous design but the abrogation of fundamental parts of the local constitution and the implanting of a feudal exotic by military power. The people claimed to be as free as the English were, and the calumnies were heaped on them of being anarchists and rebels.
This theory of insurrection was acted upon by the Governor as long as he remained in the Province. Every hasty word of the violent, and every public deliberation of the wise as well, were made to nurture this theory. By acting on such premises, besides doing gross injustice to the people, he made himself ridiculous. Still he clung tenaciously to his error and his plans as long as he remained in office; and even after he returned to England, the course of the Patriots continued to strengthen his convictions, and he wrote back that it was "plainly the design of the chiefs of the Boston faction to measure swords with Great Britain."
Though Governor Bernard had long thought a military force necessary to sustain the new measures, yet he refused to make a requisition for it. He expected the Government, of its own motion, would order troops to Boston in the time of the Stamp Act, and looked for trouble on their arrival. "The crisis," he wrote, (September 1, 1766,) "which I apprehend most danger from, is the introduction of King's troops into this town, which, having become necessary to the support of the Government, will be placed to the account of the Governor." But no troops were ordered then. He never was able to get his Council, even when he supposed a majority agreed with him in politics, to recommend their introduction; for no policy or measure which even such a Council indorsed required troops to enforce it. The Governor, however, was a zealous advocate of the new policy of the Ministry, which he judged could not be carried out without military force; but his point was, that, along with the stiff instructions to carry that policy out, the Ministry ought to supply force enough to do it.
The new Revenue Acts provided for a Board called the Commissioners of Customs, who were empowered to collect duties along a truly imperial line of coast, extending from Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico. They were appointed to reside in Boston. They were five in number,—Charles Paxton, Henry Hulton, William Burch, John Robinson, and John Temple. Not much is said of Hulton and Burch, who appear to have been simply zealous partisans; Robinson's violent temper is seen in his savage assault on Otis; Temple was not in favor of the creation of the Board, and won its enmity by taking exceptions to its doings; Paxton was charged with being the father of the Board and its chief. He was a zealous official, with a clean Tory record, of bland, courtlike ways, and certificated to England as Bernard's confidential friend. There he is said to have "whined, cried, professed, swore, and made his will in favor of that great man," Charles Townshend, whom, when in Boston, he had supplied with funds, and thus gained his objects. This Board soon became a severe and chronic local irritant. The foreign ways of its members, for most of them were strangers, supplied the wits of the town with material for satire, while its main acts were as iron to the soul of a high-spirited community. As it was created to collect taxes held to be unconstitutional, it could not have been popular; but it discharged an ungracious task in an ungracious way; and so singularly ill-judged was its action, that, while it excited odium here, it elicited censure in England.
The Commissioners were full believers in the theory that the popular leaders designed insurrection. The Governor, in a letter to Lord Barrington, (March 8, 1768,) relates that they would ask him what support he could give them, "if there should be insurrection." "I answer," Bernard says, "'None at all.' They then desire me to apply to the General for troops. I tell them I cannot do it; for I am directed to consult the Council about requiring troops, and they will never advise it, let the case be ever so desperate. Indeed, I no more dare apply for troops than the Council dare advise me to it. Ever since I have perceived that the wickedness of some and the folly of others will in the end bring troops here, I have conducted myself so as to be able to say, and swear to it, if the Sons of Liberty shall require it, that I have never applied for troops; and therefore, my Lord, I beg that nothing I now write may be considered such an application." This is a fair show for this royal official. He begins his letter by telling how, within ten days just passed, nights have been twice fixed upon for a mob; at the close, he returns to the matter of a mob, and tells how he has promised the Commissioners an asylum at the Castle in case of a mob; and he warns his superior that a mob, unchecked, "might put the Commissioners and all their officers on board ship, and send them back to England." This was the Governor's method of not asking for troops. The Commissioners, at least, asked for troops in a manly way. "About a fortnight ago," Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson writes, (March 23, 1768,) "I was in consultation with the Commissioners. They were very desirous the Governor should——for a R——. If he had done it, by some means or other it would have transpired, and there is no saying to what lengths the people would have gone in their resentment." The letter just cited explains why the Governor did not send for a regiment.
A few days after this consultation the Patriots celebrated the anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act by a day of general rejoicing. There were things that could be perverted, and were perverted, into signs of mob-rule and disloyalty. Daylight revealed hanging on the Liberty Tree effigies of Commissioner Paxton and Inspector Williams, the latter of whom, being a cabinet-maker, had a glue-pot by his side, but by order of the popular leaders they were soon removed; there were salutes, liberty toasts, and other joyful demonstrations, and in the evening a procession, which was quite harmless, though, as it went along the street by the Province House, somewhat noisy, so that the Governor said that he and his family were disturbed. But there was an allegation that ran deeper than processions, and which went to the meaning of these rejoicings. The Loyalists said that the Patriots congratulated one another on their glorious victory over England in the repeal of the Stamp Act; and if the Tory relations may be believed, there were men in Boston who were so foolish as to say,—We have shown our spirit; we have convinced them of our resentment; they repealed their foolish act; they durst not do otherwise; if they had, we should have ruined them. And the Loyalists said, that, when the mother-country had a right to look for gratitude, she actually met with insult.
With such views of the day, it is easy to see how its proceedings might be perverted. They were represented to the Ministry by Governor Bernard as signs of a rebellious spirit; and were made the ground by the Commissioners of a direct application to Commodore Hood, at Halifax, for the protection of a naval force,—he being advised that the conduct and temper of the people, the adverse aspect of things in general, the security of the revenue, the safety of its officers, and the honor of Government required immediate aid; and the hope being expressed that he would find it consistent with the King's other service to afford such assistance. The Commodore ordered the Romney to be fitted out with all possible despatch, and, accompanied by two armed schooners, she sailed for Boston. As they came into the harbor, being short of men, a press-gang landed from them, who impressed on board Massachusetts citizens. Ever since the revival of the aggressions on Colonial rights, "Hyperion" (Josiah Quincy, Jr.) says, the Loyalists publicly threatened the defenders of the rights of America with halters, fire, and fagots; but there was nothing more serious than threats, or more authentic than rumors, until this appearance of the Romney and her two tenders.
This show of naval force, though no troops came, was irritating, and multiplied the sayings of the violent, which appear to have been reported to the Governor, who advised the Ministry that he was "well assured that it was the intention of the faction in Boston to cause an insurrection against the crown officers." At this time he favored Lord Hillsborough with a lucid explanation of a paradox,—how a few leaders of bankrupt reputation ruled with a rod of iron the most virtuous town in the world. "It has been a subject of wonder," are the Governor's words, (May 19,1768,) "how the faction which harasses this town, and through it the whole continent, which is known to consist of very few of the lowest kind of gentry, and is directed by three or four persons, bankrupts in reputation as well as in property, should be able to keep in subjection the inhabitants of such a town as this, who possess a hundred times the credit and property (I might say much more) of those who rule them with a rod of iron. This paradox is at once solved by showing that this town is governed by the lowest of the people, and from the time of the Stamp Act to this hour has been and is in the hands of the mob." He represented the friends of the Government as very desponding, on seeing, unchecked, the imperial power treated with a contempt not only indecent, but almost treasonable. Of such cast were letters read to George III. in his closet, and made the basis of royal instructions which it was claimed had the force of law.
This was an anxious hour in Boston. The journals carried into every circle the reports, private and public, that the Ministry were resolved upon new and decisive measures; and thus this show of force had a painful significance. It was the common talk, that the people were doomed to be taxed to maintain a parcel of sycophants, court favorites, and hungry dependants; that needy lawyers from abroad or tools of power at home would be their judges; and that their governors, if natives, would be partisans rewarded for mercenary service, or if foreigners, would be nobles of wasted fortunes and greedy for salaries to replenish them. Kindling-matter from abroad was thrown on this inflammable public mind at home; for after each arrival the journals would be filled with the enthusiasm of the Wilkes controversy, which then was at its height in England; and if "London resounded the word Liberty from every corner and every voice," there was an echo in every street and every home in Boston. The people knew they were misrepresented and ill-used, and were sullen. They knew they were in the right, and they were resolute.
In about a month after Governor Bernard had solved the problem how such bankrupts in reputation as Joseph Warren, James Otis, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams ruled the town as with a rod of iron, there was (June 10, 1768) a real mob. The Board of Customs directed the revenue officers, for alleged violations of the revenue laws, to seize the sloop Liberty, owned by Hancock, which they did on a Friday, near the hour of sunset, as the men were going home from their day's work. And as though the people contemplated forcible resistance to the law, and would refuse to respect the arrest, the sloop, after the broad arrow was put upon her, contrary to the advice of the Collector, was moved, with vulgar and rough words by the officers, from the wharf where she lay, and moored under the guns of the Romney. This was the beginning of a war of epithets, in the usual way of brawls, between the crowd, which kept increasing, and the custom-house officers,—and, by a sort of natural law of mobs, grew into a riot, in which the offending officials were severely pelted with dirt and stones. It is related, that, while Warren, Hancock, and Samuel Adams were in consultation, the mob broke the windows of the residences of the Comptroller and Inspector, and dragged the pleasure-boat of the Collector to the Common, where they burned it. But here Hancock and other popular leaders went among them, and succeeded in restoring quiet. These were outrages, and could not be justified, though the parents of them were the brutal words of the captain of the Romney and the mob procedure of the officers in taking the vessel, which was detained three days without any legal process being filed against her. After all, this was a very slight affair when compared with the contemporary terrific mobs of London and elsewhere, which did not spare the highest officials, and, instead of stopping at breaking glass, pushed into the most costly houses, made complete havoc of furniture, destroyed life, and were checked only by military force and bloodshed. In view of these, Colonel Barre might truly say in the House of Commons, that, in this riot, "Boston was only mimicking the mother-country."
But the officials, and especially the Commissioners, all but Temple, chose to consider the mob as quite original and American, and as proof that the people of Boston were ripe for open revolt. They regarded the excitement that arose as confirming this view. The Commissioners, who had not been harmed and were not threatened, were the most violent and unreasonable; and though the Governor all Saturday and Sunday endeavored to persuade them "to come into some pacific measures," yet it was all to no purpose. On Monday morning, they, with the exception of Temple, notified the Governor by a card that they were going on board the Romney, and desired the necessary orders for them to use the Castle; and they took their families with them. They immediately sent Hallowell off to England, and advised the Lords of the Treasury,—"Nothing but the immediate exertion of military power will prevent an open revolt of this town, which may probably spread throughout the Colonies." Temple, and a number of the subordinates of the Board, remained in town, were not molested, and gathered in the revenue which importers continued to pay.
The town regarded the manner of the seizure of the Liberty as a gross affront, and coupled with it the recent cases impressment; and on Monday things looked threatening. But the popular leaders came out, put themselves at the head of the movement, and guided the indignation along the safe channels of law, in such a manner that it resulted in nothing more violent than petition and remonstrance, calmly, but strongly, expressed through the town-meeting. It is not necessary to detail what took place at the Liberty Tree, in Faneuil Hall, and in the Old South, where the Patriots held the greatest meetings, so it is written, that were ever seen on the American continent At their commencement, on Tuesday morning, at the Liberty Tree, the Governor, whose town-residence was the Province House, was at his country-seat at Jamaica Plain, in Roxbury. He received such startling advices from his friends, as to the doings of the Sons of Liberty, that he sent one of his own sons into town with a message desiring the immediate presence of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, as he was "in expectation of very important news from town," and such as would make it necessary for him to withdraw. While with perturbed nerves he awaited Hutchinson's arrival, he must have been surprised to see moving towards his house, not a Parisian populace, pell-mell, flourishing liberty-caps and pikes, or even a growling London mob, but a peaceful train of eleven cozy chaises, conveying a very respectable committee from a public meeting, at the head of which were Warren, Otis, and Samuel Adams. They bore a petition to the Governor from the town, which protested against the right of Parliament to tax the Colonies, and denied the legality of press-gangs in Massachusetts. "I received them," are the Governor's words, "with all possible civility, and having heard their petition, I talked very freely with them, but postponed giving a formal answer till the next day, as it should be in writing. I then had wine handed round, and they left me highly pleased with their reception, especially that part of them which had not been used to an interview with me." Considering the Governor's state of mind, the committee could not have been more highly pleased when they left than he was when they arrived; but his perturbations were over when Hutchinson came in, and there was no occasion for unusual political action.
The Governor's reply to the town, on the next day, was conciliatory. The petition which the committee presented to him was regarded by Hutchinson as going beyond anything that had yet been advanced in the way of a practical denial of Parliamentary authority; but the Governor wisely declined to argue the vexed question of that day, and as wisely promised redress for the press-gang outrage, all of which was highly satisfactory to the meeting. The chairman, James Otis, made the reply more satisfactory by acknowledging the Governor's hospitality. Still the men who filled the Old South to overflowing did not omit the duty of stern-worded protest against the aggressions of Parliament; and in an elaborate and admirable paper, marked with Joseph Warren's energy of soul, they alleged the unconstitutional imposition of taxes as the groundwork of the recent troubles. It was oppression, and it "came down upon the people like an armed man, though they were the subjects of an empire which was the toast of the nations for freedom and liberty."
It was now the current rumor that this and other aggressions were to be enforced by arms. The idea was abhorrent to the people. A committee, to whom was referred the subject of the rumored introduction of troops, reported to the meeting a resolve to the effect that whoever had urged this measure was "a tyrant in his heart, a traitor and an open enemy to his country"; but though this resolve was advocated by William Cooper, the faithful and intrepid town-clerk, and by others, the resolution finally adopted declared only that any person who should solicit or promote the importation of any troops at this time was an enemy to the town and the Province, and a disturber of the peace and good order of both.
The Governor was now on good terms with the people. He was in the habit of saying that nothing which he had done would bring troops into the town,—that he was desirous of promoting harmony between the Province and the mother-country,—and the memorial to the Ministry in their behalf contained the assurance that they bore "the same sentiments of loyalty and duty towards their gracious King, and the same reverence for the great council of the nation, the British Parliament, as ever." This was the truth, touchingly expressed. The Bostonians never considered the Parliament to be such an embodiment of Imperialism that it could rightfully mould their local institutions, or control their congregations and their town-meetings, their highways and their homes; and always looked upon the Crown as the symbol of a national power that would shield their precious body of customs and rights. Thus what the Governor said on the paramount point of nationality met with an honest response from those to whom it was addressed. "I am myself," he wrote, (June 18,) "on better terms with the people than usual. A civil treatment of a petition of the town to me, a plain and friendly answer thereto, and some real service by interposing with the men-of-war, have given me a little popularity. But it won't last a week. As soon as I have executed the orders I have just received from the Secretary of State, in the General Assembly, there will be an end of my popularity; and I don't know whether I sha'n't be obliged to act like the captain of a fire-ship,—provide for my retreat before I light my fusee."
But he quietly lighted his fusee, when the horizon became all aglow with what to the Loyalists was the lurid flame of destruction, but to the Patriots was as light from heaven. The occasion is too well known to need more than a glance. The House of Representatives, on the eleventh of February, had sent its famous Circular Letter to the other Colonies, proposing, that, in the present crisis, there should be unity of action among them. The Loyalists charged that this was an attempt to organize a Confederacy, and therefore was revolutionary; the Patriots averred that its sole object was to unite in petition and remonstrance for redress of grievances, and therefore that it was constitutional; the Ministry regarded the act as in the last degree dangerous to the prerogative, and ordered Governor Bernard to demand of the House to recall or rescind this Circular Letter. The communication of this order was what the Governor called lighting his fusee. His daily letters show precisely his state of mind as he touched it off. He saw a determination to resist Great Britain; he was told that the people were making preparations to do it; and he wrote to his relative, Viscount Barrington, who had the entree of the royal closet,—sending the letter by Hallowell,—with rather more than the usual emphasis of error,—"I am sure that things are coming apace to a crisis, and I fear the Bostonians will get the start of you." In this mood the Governor sent in the arrogant British demand. The House, (June 26, 1768,) by the memorable vote of ninety-two to seventeen, flatly refused to comply with the royal order; whereupon the Governor, as the punishment, dissolved the General Court; and for many months Massachusetts was without a legislature.
These were of the order of events that take fast hold of the public mind. Far and wide and profound was the sensation; and the unity of the response from abroad, made known to the people through the press, was truly inspiring. "We all rejoice," says a letter, "in what your Assembly has done, and join in acclamations to the glorious Ninety-Two. 'Twas certainly the most important case an American assembly ever acted upon." This brief narrative is uncommonly suggestive. The letter of Bernard is a testimony to the kindly disposition of the people, who were ready to return much gratitude for little service, and who only asked to be left to the measure of freedom that was enjoyed by their brethren in England; the magnificent No which the House gave to the royal command shows how they could maintain their self-respect, and stand by their local government; and the general indorsement of the action of the House in other Colonies indicates a community of interest in each other's destiny.
The replies of local legislatures, as they were printed from time to time in the journals, filled the hearts of the Boston patriots with joy. Hutchinson, who kept constant watch of these things, and who rightly estimated the importance of the formation of public opinion, wrote,—"The action of the other Colonies keeps up the spirit of our demagogues. I am told Adams and Cooper say it is the most glorious day they ever saw." They saw a general manifestation of a spirit of unity in the support of common rights. Without union they knew they were nothing; with union they felt equal to all things. Thus here were working two of the elements of our political system, local self-government and American nationality.
The June mob, the public meetings, the vote of the House of Representatives, and the union feeling supplied zealous Loyalists with rich material to pervert into fresh argument for the necessity of troops to keep the people in order. It was promptly seized upon. The Commissioners set out the Boston tumults as the heralds of a rebellion that had begun its course over the continent. They not only sent a batch of falsehoods to England by Hallowell, but they also sent letters to General Gage, the Commander-in-Chief, whose head-quarters were in New York, with a request for troops, and to Commodore Hood at Halifax asking for more ships. General Gage was surprised at not receiving letters from the Governor, but with a soldier's promptness he at once (June 24) tendered to Governor Bernard all the force he might need to preserve the public peace; yet regarding it as improper to order the King's forces into a Province to quell a riot without a requisition from the Executive, he frankly advised the Governor to this effect. But the Governor did not want troops to quell a riot, and said so; and in answer to the tender, returned a long and heavy disquisition, showing why, though he considered troops essential to the promotion of the good of his country, he did not and would not make a formal requisition for any, and thus, all unconsciously, betrayed and condemned himself at every word,—for while he was talking of country, he was thinking of self. Commodore Hood, believing that the good people of Boston were actually on the eve of a revolt, and that the precious lives of the Commissioners were hardly safe in Castle William, where they now were, "immediately sent two more ships," which, he says, "secured the Castle from all attempts at surprising it." But, according to Hutchinson, though the people were mad, yet they were not Don Quixotes, and though a few might have talked of attacking it, yet the Castle was in no danger, even though no one of His Majesty's ships had been in the harbor.
The ships promptly arrived, and were moored about Castle William; but no troops appeared, though early in July the Governor felt sure they were ordered here from Halifax, from the fact that General Gage sent a batch of despatches, under cover to him, addressed to Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple, the senior British officer in command at that station. On forwarding these despatches, Bernard wrote to Dalrymple,—"You know that my situation requires that I should appear to know as little in the proceedings of this kind as can well be. I should, therefore, be obliged to you, if in conducting a business of this kind you would let me appear a stranger to it until it becomes necessary to communicate it to me officially. In the mean time any private hints, conveyed to me by a safe hand, will be acceptable."
A straightforward British officer must have conceived contempt for such an official, even before subsequent action on the part of this official elicited an expression of it.
The Governor was doomed to disappointment. The orders which he transmitted merely placed troops in readiness to proceed to Boston on his requisition, which requisition he steadily refused to make, and he wrote,—"The crisis awaits the arrival of the troops, and I now learn they are not coming." He next officially laid the tender of the Commanding General before the Council, when he found that its members were unanimously of the opinion that troops were not required. Now this body contained decided Loyalists; and this unanimity of opinion appears to have amazed the Governor. He advised Lord Barrington, that the fact convinced him that he could "no longer depend upon the Council for the support of the small remains of royal and parliamentary power now left, the whole of which had been gradually impeached, arraigned, and condemned under his eye"; which was arrant party-misrepresentation. He further expressed the opinion that the sending of troops to Boston ought to be a business of quartering and cantonment. "It is no secret," he said, "that this ought to have been done two years and a half ago. If it had, there would have been no opposition to Parliament now, and above all, no such combinations as threaten (but I hope vainly) the overthrow of the British Empire. If provision was to have been made against faction and sedition, the head-quarters should have been secured." Instead of this, "Boston has been left under a trained mob from August 14, 1765, to this present July 23, 1768."
While these things had been going on here, the die as to Massachusetts and Boston had been cast in the British cabinet, by the conclusion to place a military force at the command of the Governor. This decision was reached before the June meeting or the June riot; and it is quite in vain to seek the real reason for it in what appears on paper about the processions on the eighteenth of March or the equally insignificant prior manifestations. Hutchinson and Gage and other Loyalists admitted that all these were trifles. The Ministers were no strangers to mobs; even if there had been as violent ones in Boston as there were in London, they could not have acted upon them as proofs of disloyalty. Besides the calumnies that made out the popular leaders to be anarchists, that perverted love of the local government into a desire for independence, there was one that touched the pride of the mother-country; for the Loyalists said of the Bostonians,—(there is nothing like the language of the time to embody the spirit of the time,)—that "every dirty fellow, just risen from his kennel, congratulated his neighbor on their glorious victory over England; and they were so intoxicated with their own vast importance, that the lowest wretch among them conceived himself superior to the first English merchant." This was falsehood; for it is certain that the joy for the repeal of the Stamp Act was joy for harmony restored between the Colonies and Great Britain.
Thus, owing to such representations, while the people of Boston were deliberating in the great town-meetings of June, orders were on their way to General Gage, whose head-quarters were in New York, to place troops in Castle William, to station a detachment in Boston, and to keep a naval force in the harbor. The despatch of Lord Hillsborough, addressed to Governor Bernard, communicating this conclusion, was elaborate and able, and laid down in full the policy of the Government. The instructions were based on the pretence that Boston was "in possession of a licentious and unrestrained mob"; that it was animated by a disposition "to resist the laws and to deny the authority of Parliament"; and that the alleged "illegal and unwarrantable measures which had been pursued in opposing the officers of the revenue in the execution of their duty, and for intimidating the civil magistrates, showed the necessity of strengthening the hands of the Government." This despatch refers to five of Bernard's letters as containing such representations. It is worthy of remark, that Lord Hillsborough sharply rebuked the Governor for having all along asked the advice of the Council as to the introduction of the troops; for to admit such a function in the Council, he said, was to concede a power inconsistent with the Constitution. "It is you," are the official words, "to whom the Crown has delegated its authority, and you alone are responsible for the best use of it."
This action was unknown to the popular leaders, and the month of August passed in doubt as to whether the Ministers would be persuaded to quarter troops in Boston. The town was remarkably quiet, when the Governor issued (August 3, 1768) a proclamation against riots, and calling all magistrates to suppress tumults and unlawful assemblies, and to restore vigor and firmness to the Government. "It cannot be wondered at," said "Determinatus," (August 8,) in the "Gazette," "if the mother-country should think that we are in a state of confusion equal to what we hear from the orderly and very polite cities of London and Westminster. There, we are told, is the weavers' mob, the seamen's mob, the tailors' mob, the coal-miners' mob, and some say the clergy's mob; and, in short, it is to be feared the whole kingdom, always excepting the * * * * and P——t, will unite in one general scene of tumult. I sincerely pray for the peace and prosperity of the nation and her colonies, whose interest, if she would open her eyes, she would clearly discern to be undivided." The journals during this month have full details of these mobs. The coal-heavers of Wapping destroyed property and committed murders, and two thousand keel-men and sailors of Sunderland fairly beat off the King's troops that were sent against them from Newcastle. Happily such want of reverence for law was unknown in Boston or the Province. Still the Governor kept on representing that he was under the control of a mob; and another day of rejoicing gave him another opportunity of misrepresenting the people. This was the fourteenth of August, being the third celebration of the uprising against the Stamp Act. In the procession on this occasion there was one man who had had a hand in the attack on the Lieutenant-Governor's house on the twenty-sixth of August, and had in consequence incurred the penalty of death, and who was now celebrating his mob-exploits; and at the head of the procession were two Boston merchants, who thus were charged with countenancing mobs. The Governor well knew that the Patriots abhorred the outrages of the twenty-sixth of August as much as they gloried in the uprising against the stamp-duty on the fourteenth of August. Hutchinson, moreover, was a good deal disturbed by the public affronts put upon the Commissioners, who were still at the Castle, though their subordinates were in town collecting the revenue. The Cadets, on motion of Hancock, voted to exclude them from the usual public dinner; and the town voted to refuse the use of Faneuil Hall for the dinner, unless with the stipulation that the Commissioners were not to be invited. Such proceedings, with petitions and resolutions, made nearly the whole outrage of the Boston "trained mob" that the Governor talked about. Yet he affected to be in fear of an insurrection, and on the last day of the month whiningly wrote,—"The town is at present just as defensible as it was two years ago,—not a sergeant's guard of real soldiers within two hundred miles of it."
In a few days after, on a Saturday night, William Sheriff, aide-de-camp to General Gage, arrived in town from New York, which he left on Wednesday morning, bearing the following letter to Governor Bernard, the original of which is indorsed, "Received Sept. 3."
* * * * *
THOMAS GAGE TO FRANCIS BERNARD.
"New York, Aug. 31,1768.
"Sir,—It is not necessary to trouble you with any answers to your letters, and I only acknowledge the receipt of them.
"I am now to acquaint you that I have received orders to send forces to Boston, and would regulate the number to be sent agreeable to your opinion of the number that will be necessary. Captain Sheriff, my aide-de-camp, goes to Boston under pretence of private business, and will deliver you this letter. He is directed to settle this matter with you; and you may rely on his discretion, prudence, and secrecy. I have intrusted him with a letter of orders to the commander of his Majesty's forces at Halifax to embark with the 14th Regiment, and left a blank in the letter for Captain Sheriff to fill up with the like order for the 29th Regiment, in case you shall judge it proper to have the whole or any part of the 29th Regiment, as well as the 14th, and not think one regiment a sufficient force. When you shall have fixed the matter with Captain Sheriff, you will be so good as to send me immediate notice, that I may without delay write you a public letter to demand quarters for the numbers that will be ordered into your Province. The contents of this, as well as your answer, and everything I now transact with you, will be kept a profound secret, at least on this side of the Atlantic.
"It is submitted in my letters, whether it would not be advisable, as troops will probably continue at Boston, to take possession of Castle William, which, being a place of some strength, may in case of emergency be of great service, and it is said to belong to the Crown.
"You will be so good as to fix with Captain Sheriff, whether you would have the whole, or any part of the troops ordered to Boston, quartered in Castle William. If you should be of opinion that troops stationed there will not answer the intention of sending them to Boston, for the purposes of enforcing a due obedience to the laws, and protecting and supporting the civil magistrates and the officers of the Crown in the execution of their duty, part may be stationed there, and part in the town. Should you require both the regiments from Halifax, one of them, or three or four companies of one of them, might be quartered in the Castle, and you would then have an entire regiment and five companies of another in the city. I mention this, but leave it to your determination; and you will regulate this matter with Captain Sheriff according to the number of troops you think necessary to be sent to Boston. You will be pleased to give me notice of your resolves on this head.
"I don't know if you can supply bedding for such of the troops as you would choose to be lodged in the Castle; if not, Captain Sheriff will write to Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple to bring bedding with him from Halifax, sufficient for the number of men you shall fix upon for the garrison of Castle William.
"I have the honor to be with great regard,
"Sir, "Your most obedient, "Humble servant, "TH'S. GAGE."
Such was the mode in which the Sam Adams Regiments were ushered into Boston According to this letter, the Governor himself, substantially, gave the order that brought all but the Fourteenth Regiment,—an order which was to "be kept a profound secret, at least on this side of the Atlantic."
At this time the mass of the citizens Boston were very bitter and suspicious towards all who were in any way supposed to be concerned in urging the introduction of troops among them; because troops had come to be looked upon as means of subjugating them to laws to which they never would give their consent through their representatives. The fiery Josiah Quincy, Jr., would say,—"Before the freeborn sons of the North will yield a general and united submission to any tyrannic power on earth, fire and sword, desolation and ruin, will ravage the land." The intrepid Samuel Adams would say,—"Before the King and Parliament shall dragoon us, and we become slaves, we will take up arms and our last drop of blood." The calm Andrew Eliot would say,—"You cannot conceive of our distress: to have a standing army! What can be worse to a people who have tasted the sweets of liberty?" Hutchinson wrote,—"Many of the common people were in a frenzy, and talked of dying in defence of their liberties," while "too many above the vulgar countenanced and encouraged them." Such was the intensity of the public feeling; such the earnestness with which liberty was ranked above material prosperity. It was now to be seen whether the American cause was to suffer shipwreck on the rock of premature insurrection, or whether it was to be led on by such cautious and wise steps as develop into the majesty of revolution.
The present public alarm was occasioned by vague statements from abroad or rumors started at home as to the coming of a military force. Troops were ordered in from the outposts of Canada to Halifax; an unusual naval force was gathering at that station; it was said that the destination of both was Boston: but the Governor persisted in denying that he had done anything that would bring troops here, and kept on playing the know-nothing. This created a painful suspense, and, to cool observers, the policy of the Government appeared inexplicable. But however deep may have been the indignation of the people at the prospect of military rule, it was no part of the plan of the popular leaders, if troops came here, to resist the landing, or to allow the rash spirits, who are ever ready for any imprudence, to do so; but their object was to fix in the public mind a just sense of the rights thus violated, to guide the general indignation into a safe channel of action, and thus turn the insult to the benefit of the general cause.
Two days after the Governor received the letter of General Gage, a communication appeared in the "Boston Gazette," under the head of "READER! ATTEND!" which arraigned, with uncommon spirit and boldness, the course of the officials who were urging the policy of arbitrary power, as having a direct tendency "to dissolve the union between Great Britain and her colonies." It proposed to remonstrate against this policy to the King, and at the same time to declare that "there was nothing this side eternity they dreaded more than being broken off from his government." In urging resistance to this course the author said,—"We will put our lives in our hands, and cry to the Judge of all the Earth, who will do right."
This paper, like many similar appeals in that well-stored Liberty arsenal, the "Boston Gazette," had the genuine Liberty ring, yet there was in it nothing very unusual; but the royal circle at the Province House lived in an unusual atmosphere, and this article came sounding in among them like a great moral Dahlgren. "In the Boston Gazette of the fifth instant," the Governor, with his usual acuteness, wrote to the Secretary of State, "appeared a paper containing a system of politics exceeding all former exceedings. Some took it for the casual ravings of an occasional enthusiast. But I persuaded myself that it came out of the cabinet of the faction, and was preparatory to some actual operations against the Government. In this persuasion, I considered, that, if the troops from Halifax were to come here on a sudden, there would be no avoiding an insurrection, which would at least fall upon the crown officers, if it did not amount to an opposition to the troops. I therefore thought it would be best that the expectation of the troops should be gradually communicated, that the heads of the faction might have time to consider well what they were about, and prudent men opportunity to interpose their advice." Accordingly (September 8) he "took an occasion to mention to one of the Council, in the way of discourse, that he had private advice that troops were ordered to Boston, but had no public orders about it"; and before night, the Governor adds, the intelligence was all over the town.
Before night, too, a petition, addressed to the Selectmen, was circulating all over the town, and large numbers were affixing their names to it. It prayed that the town might be legally convened to require of the Governor the reasons for his declaration that three regiments might be daily expected, and "to consider of the most wise, consistent, and salutary measure suitable to meet the occasion." The Selectmen acted promptly, (John Hancock was on the Board,) and summoned the citizens to meet on the Monday following. In this way, openly before men, not covertly like a body of conspirators, did the solid men and prudent men of Boston prepare for council.
Though the Governor averred that his object, in his verbal communication, was to give a chance for an interposition of such sound advice, yet to Lord Hillsborough he actually represented the call and the movement of these men as proofs that the long-contemplated insurrection was now at hand. He informed the Secretary, that on the next evening (Friday) there was a large private meeting, where "it was the general opinion that they should raise the country and oppose the troops"; and that on the succeeding evening (Saturday) there was a very small private meeting at the house of one of the chiefs, where it was resolved "to surprise and take the Castle the Monday night following." The Governor evidently had misgivings about its being the fact that such an object was planned. "I don't," he said, "relate these as facts, but only as reported and believed." I have found no account of the Friday-evening meeting, which undoubtedly was a meeting of one of the political clubs of the time; but on Saturday evening James Otis and Samuel Adams met at Warren's residence in Hanover Street (on the site of the American House) for conference as to Monday's meeting,—for instance, to draw up the resolves and decide upon the action that might be expedient: whatever may have been the warmth of expression of popular leaders, or the wishes of extremists among the people, the whole object of this conference was to concentrate and use only the moral force of public opinion; and there is not a trace of a design of insurrection in all the known private correspondence of these patriots.
However, the belief in insurrection, at this time, appears to have been as strongly rooted in the minds of prominent Loyalists as it was in the mind of the again perturbed Governor. Signs of what is thought to be near at hand are apt to be seen or fancied; and it was so in this case. Somebody had put a turpentine barrel in the skillet that hung at the top of the beacon-pole on Beacon Hill. Now it had been designed, for a long time, by such a mode of bonfire, to alarm the country, in case of invasion. This fact was put with another fact, namely, that the beacon had been newly repaired; and from the two facts was drawn the startling inference, that matters were ready for a rising in the town, and for giving the concerted signal to summon in the country to aid this rising,—and this, too, when the Governor had not a sergeant's guard of real soldiers nearer than two hundred miles. And now members of the Council flocked to the Governor and demanded a meeting of this imposing body; and a meeting was promptly held at a gentleman's residence half-way between Boston and Jamaica Plain, where, after grave debate about taking down the barrel, it was finally voted to make a formal demand on the Board of Selectmen to order it to be done. On the next day, (Sunday,) the Fathers of the Town held a special meeting to consider the vote of the Council, which resulted in declining to act on this matter of taking down the barrel as too trivial. About the hour of dining, on this day, however, Sheriff Greenleaf gave some peace to the frightened officials by repairing to Beacon Hill with half a dozen others and removing the obnoxious barrel, which proved to be empty. The public did not hear the last of this affair for months, as may be seen in the affidavits about it, afterwards, in the journals.
There was really no ground for all this alarm. The popular leaders, from the excited state of the public mind, might have been apprehensive of an explosion from the rash, which they meant, if possible, to prevent, and if it came, to repress; but the Loyalist leaders would have it that there was a deep-laid plot even for a revolution. "It is now known," is Governor Bernard's malicious misrepresentation, as he reviewed these scenes and justified the introduction of the troops, "that the plan was to seize the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor and take possession of the treasury, and then set up their standard." He said that five hundred men had been enrolled to take the Castle, and it was likely that the names, at least of the chief of them, would be discovered. There is no such list in thirteen folio volumes of his correspondence. Hutchinson's misrepresentation was as mischievous, but more cautious; for he assured his British correspondents that at the time when the troops landed in Boston the Province was on the brink of ruin, and that their arrival prevented the most extravagant measures,—though, he said, he did not certainly know what the dark designs of the heads of the opposition were.
On the morning of the town-meeting, (September 12,) Governor Bernard believed that the popular leaders were resolved not merely to capture the crown officials, but to resume the first charter, which, he said, had not a single ingredient of royalty in it. But while he was looking for insurrection, a committee of the highest respectability waited on him, and asked him to be pleased to communicate to the town the grounds and assurances on which he had intimated his apprehensions that one or more regiments might he daily expected. On the next day the Governor replied in writing,—"My apprehensions that some of his Majesty's troops are to be expected in Boston arise from information of a private nature; I have received no public letters notifying to me the coming of such troops." The information came by letter from the only official in the country who could order troops into Boston, and yet he said it was private; according to this letter, he must have decided on the number of troops that were to come, and yet he prattled about apprehensions. Such was the way in which a royal Governor of the Stuart school dealt with a people filled with patriotic concern for their country. It is the dealing of a small man. If he can escape the charge of deliberate falsehood, it is only, on demurrer, by the plea of a contemptible quibble.
It is not necessary here to follow the noble popular demonstrations that rounded off by a delegate convention, which, at the simple request of Boston, assembled in Faneuil Hall. The officials, who had long played falsely with a liberty-loving, yet loyal people, now fairly quailed before the whirlwind of their righteous indignation. Two days after Bernard had "intimated his apprehensions," as though steps had been taken to countermand the order for the troops, the following semi-official doubt appeared in the "News-Letter":—"It is conjectured that there are troops to come here; but at present we can find no authentic accounts of it, nor that any person has declared that they actually are, though there is great probability that they will soon be here, if ever." This, from a Loyalist source, is a singularly worded paragraph, and is richly Delphic.
The circular letter which Boston addressed (September 14) to the towns, calling a Convention, accurately states the object of the military force that was now expected:—"The design of these troops is, in every one's apprehension, nothing short of enforcing by military power the execution of Acts of Parliament, in the forming of which the Colonies have not, and cannot have, any constitutional influence. This is one of the greatest distresses to which a free people can be reduced." The object of the Convention is as accurately stated to be, "to prevent any sudden and unconnected measures," and to act in every constitutional way for the preservation of invaluable rights. The Governor, as usual, acting on his theory of insurrection, held that the Convention was designed to mature plans for it; and he wrote (September l6) to Lord Hillsborough as to his own plans,—"For my own part, if I had any place of protection to resort to, I would publish a proclamation against the assembling of the Convention, but I dare not take so spirited a step without first securing my retreat"; and, with unusual good sense, he expressed "much doubt whether the force already ordered by General Gage, namely, two regiments, would be sufficient" to fight off the original charter, and to keep the crown officers in their places. There was a small party who were in favor of resuming the old charter; but the union of the towns of Massachusetts, and then the union of all the Colonies, for the sake of continued union with Great Britain, was the key of the action of the leaders who were the exponents of the Patriots. They did not contemplate going into acts of government; and neither now nor in the future did they ever contemplate "sudden and unconnected measures."
Three days later (September 19) Governor Bernard threw off all disguise. He formally announced to the Council that troops were coming, and asked this body to provide them quarters. And now began a long, irritating, and arrogant endeavor on the part of the Executive to browbeat the local authorities in the matter of providing quarters for the troops. The official record is voluminous. The Patriots kept strictly to the law, and won a moral victory: the royal officials persisted in virtually urging burly British will as law, and suffered the shame of an ignominious defeat. The Governor thought the Government had received a blow that made it reel; and, in a garrulous, complaining letter, supplies not only a vivid idea of the whole of this struggle, but an idea of his well-deserved individual mortification. "The account up to this time," (October 30, 1768,) he wrote, "will end in my having employed myself from September nineteenth to October twenty-sixth, that is, thirty-eight days, in endeavoring to procure quarters for the two regiments here to no purpose. For having during this time been bandied about from one to another, I at length got positive refusals from every one that I could apply to, that is, the Council, the Selectmen, and the Justices of the Peace; upon which the General, [Gage,] who came here on purpose, has found himself obliged to hire and fit up buildings at the expense of the Crown, by which means the two regiments are at length got into good occasional barracks."
The new scene of an American States-General in Faneuil Hall,—so the royal Governor and Parliamentary orators termed the Convention,—a manifestation of the rising power of the people, was followed by the spectacle of an imposing naval force in the harbor. The Sam Adams Regiments, sent on the mission of warring against the republican idea, were proudly borne to Boston by fifteen British men-of-war, which were moored (September 29) in well-chosen fighting positions around the north end of the quiet, but glorious town. In the evening the curious Bostonians put out in their boats from the wharves to get a near view of the ships. There were great rejoicings on board. The sky was brilliant with the rockets that were shot off from the decks, and the air resounded with the music of the bands. It was noticed that the favorite piece seemed to be "the Yankee tune": it was played by the regimental bands when Earl Percy led a British force out of Boston on Lexington morning, but no mention is made of its being performed when this force returned in the evening of that famous day, or when the Sam Adams Regiments left the town.
The King's troops landed on the first day of October. Though it had been printed in England that ten thousand men were enrolled to oppose them,—though the local officials had predicted that the event would occasion a crisis in affairs,—though John Bull had been so abominably imposed upon that he as much expected to see a mob resist the landing as he lately expected the mob would resist the delivery of the Confederate Commissioners,—and though not merely ministerial circles, but all England, were looking forward with serious apprehensions to the result,—yet the day was so tame that little history was made worth relating. As the spectators on board the ships, about noon, were looking for a battle-scene, they saw only a naval and military show. The ships of war were prepared for action by loading the guns and putting springs on the cables. The troops, after sixteen rounds of powder and ball had been served out to them, entered the boats. Rude artists were looking on, and sketching the peaceful display, setting down each boat and ship and island, with view undisturbed by the smoke of battle or even of salute. They did not notice, however, that the commander of the land force, Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple, went ashore privately, at about eleven o'clock, and sauntered over the town. He met no local militia; he saw nor horns nor hoofs of insurrection; he saw not even the royal Governor, for he had retired to Jamaica Plain; and instead of a cordial Executive greeting and proper directions as to what to do, he found that everything was left to himself. He knew that neither the Council nor the Governor had provided quarters for his command; but from the doings or non-doings of this day he conceived feelings towards the runaway official which he expressed by words, at the time, "full as plain as pleasant," and afterwards officially in writing to his superiors. Bernard met Dalrymple's intimations of cowardice by the truthful allegation that there was not the least danger of insurrection, and of want of attention by the mean allegation that the Colonel was chagrined because he was not complimented with a dinner.
An hour after the Commander made his reconnoissance, about noon, the boats moved in fine order towards the Long Wharf, so termed as being a noble commercial pier running far out into the Bay. Here the Fourteenth Regiment, under Colonel Dalrymple, landed, and, having formed, marched, in the words of the time, with drums beating, fifes playing, and colors flying, up King Street (now State Street) to the Town-House, where it halted. It is not said that the troops were complimented by the presence of the people, who, on holidays then as on holidays now, usually appeared, having an air of self-respect, well-dressed, well-behaved, with nothing moving among them more threatening than the baton of the police as the sign of law and authority, but respecting that as the symbol of their own law. What Tory writers and officials say warrants the inference that the Patriots kept away. Dalrymple said that the Convention was planet-stricken; "Sagittarius," a Tory scribbler, says the Convention ran, and tells how they ran:—"The courage of the faithful only consisted in blustering, for the morning that the troops landed they broke up, and rushed out of town like a herd of scalded hogs." If the Patriots generally were absent, it was from design. The Fourteenth Regiment remained near the Town-House until the Twenty-Ninth joined it, when the column marched to the Common. About four o'clock these troops were joined by the Fifty-Ninth Regiment, and a train of artillery with two field-pieces. This made a force of a thousand fine-appearing and well-disciplined regulars.
Colonel Dalrymple ordered the Twenty-Ninth Regiment to encamp immediately, which, as it had field-equipage, it was enabled to do, and pitched its tents on the Common; but he had no cover for the Fourteenth Regiment, and he now endeavored to obtain quarters for it. He was directed to the Manufactory House, a large building owned by the Province, in what is now Hamilton Place, near the Common, which was hired by a zealous Patriot, who declined to let the troops occupy it; whereupon he applied to the Selectmen for Faneuil Hall, promising that the utmost care should be taken not to injure the property. "About twilight," in the words of the "Gazette," "the Fourteenth Regiment marched down to the Hall, where they stood under arms till near nine o'clock, when the door, by some means or other, being opened, they took up their lodgings there that night." The Colonel exultingly wrote,—"By tolerable management I got possession of Faneuil Hall, the School of Liberty, from the Sons thereof, without force, and thereby secured all their arms": about four hundred had been recently placed there to be cleaned.
Such was the day, so long looked forward to, of the landing of the King's troops. The people were indignant, but were silent and preserved their self-respect; but the object of the popular leaders had been accomplished, so far as the reception of the military force was concerned. A candid British observer, who was in Boston, saw the truth and printed it in England:—"The Patriot leaders of the Opposition were much more concerned at any mobs that happened than the Government people. These last seem pleased with them, as countenancing their representations,—the necessity of sending soldiers to keep them in order." On this occasion, in the words of the "Gazette," "Not the least attempt was made or contemplated to oppose the landing of the King's troops or their encampment on the Common." There is no mention made of even hisses or groans, as the colors that symbolized arbitrary power were proudly borne up King Street. The peace and good order that marked the day much chagrined the Loyalists, and fairly astonished "the gentlemen of the military."
These gentlemen might have read in the next issues of the journals the temper of the public mind, in the comments freely made on their mission and on the events that were said to have occasioned their presence. The pretext, the obnoxious proceedings of the eighteenth of March, was characterized as the trifling hallooing of a harmless procession; the mob of the tenth of June was more serious, but was soon over; but on the all-important and vital point of allegiance, they might have seen expressed, in the weighty words of the Council, infinite regret at the reflection which that show of force implied on the loyalty of the people to their sovereign, who had not in his wide-extended dominions any more faithful subjects than in the town of Boston. And what really was the offence of the Patriots? They had resolved, they had petitioned, they had agreed not to import or to buy British goods. But they were not law-breakers, for they could triumphantly challenge their opponents to produce a single instance since the tenth of June of an interruption of the public peace or of resistance to law; and they were not political heretics, for the principles of colonial administration which they stood on were such as their countrymen unanimously now indorse, and British statesmanship is now pleased to accept. Yet they were threatened in the streets with the whipping-post and the pillory, with the loss of their ears or their heads,—and in official instructions, printed in the journals, with transportation to England for trial. This last threat was serious. The Government proposed to make arrests under a statute of the reign of Henry VIII.: actually designed (Lord Mahon's words) "to draw forth the mouldering edict of a tyrant from the dust where it had long lain, and where it ever deserved to lie, and to fling it" against a band of popular leaders who were wisely and well supporting a most sacred cause. But these leaders were not actuated by the fanaticism that is always blind and often cruel, nor by the ambition that is unworthy and is then reckless and criminal; but, with a clear apprehension of their ground and definite notions of policy, they went forward with no faltering step. Their calm and true statement through the press was,—"It is the part this town has taken on the side of Liberty, and its noble exertions in favor of the rights of America, that have rendered it so obnoxious to the tools of arbitrary power." "We are now [October 3, 1768] become a spectacle to all North America. May our conduct be such as not to disgrace ourselves or injure the common cause!"
Thus wove the solid men of Boston their mantle of enduring glory.
OUT OF THE BODY TO GOD.
Wearily, wearily, wearily: Sobbing through space like a south-wind, Floating in limitless ether, Ether unbounded, unfathomed, Where is no upward nor downward, Island, nor shallow, nor shore: Wearily floating and sobbing, Out of the body to God!
Lost in the spaces of blankness, Lost in the deepening abysses, Haunted and tracked by the past: No more sweet human caresses, No more the springing of morning, Never again from the present Into a future beguiled: Lonely, defiled, and despairing, Out of the body to God!
Reeling, and tearless, and desperate, On through the quiet of ether, Helpless, alone, and forsaken, Faithless in ignorant anguish, Faithless of gasping repentance, Measuring Him by thy measure,— Measure of need and desert,— Out of the body to God!
Soft through the starless abysses, Soft as the breath of the summer Loosens the chains of the river, Sweeping it free to the sea, Murmurs a murmur of peace:— "Soul! in the deepness of heaven Findest thou shallow or shore? Hast thou beat madly on limit? Hast thou been stayed in thy fleeing Out of the body to God?
"Thou that hast known Me in spaces Boundless, untraversed, unfathomed, Hast thou not known Me in love? Am I, Creator and Guider, Less than My kingdom and work? Come, O thou weary and desolate! Come to the heart of thy Father Home from thy wanderings weary, Home from the lost to the Loving, Out of the body to God!"
THE HEALTH OF OUR GIRLS.
Among the lower animals, so far as the facts have been noticed, there seems no great inequality, as to strength or endurance, between the sexes. In migratory tribes, as of birds or buffaloes, the males are not observed to slacken or shorten their journeys from any gallant deference to female weakness, nor are the females found to perish disproportionately through exhaustion. It is the English experience that among coursing-dogs and race-horses there is no serious sexual inequality. Aelian says that Semiramis did not exult when in the chase she captured a lion, but was proud when she took a lioness, the dangers of the feat being far greater. Hunters as willingly encounter the male as the female of most savage beasts; and if an adventurous fowler, plundering an eagle's nest, has his eyes assaulted by the parent-bird, it is no matter whether the discourtesy proceeds from the gentleman or the lady of the household.
Passing to the ranks of humanity, it is the general rule, that, wherever the physical nature has a fair chance, the woman shows no extreme deficiency of endurance or strength. Even the sentimental physiology of Michelet is compelled to own that his elaborate theories of lovely invalidism have no application to the peasant-women of France, that is, to nineteen-twentieths of the population. Among human beings, the disparities of race and training far outweigh those of sex. The sedentary philosopher, turning from his demonstration of the hopeless inferiority of woman, finds with dismay that his Irish or negro handmaiden can lift a heavy coal-hod more easily than he. And while the dream is vanishing of the superiority of savage races on every other point, it still remains unquestionable that in every distinctive attribute of physical womanhood the barbarian has the advantage.
The truth is, that in all countries female health and strength go with peasant habits. In Italy, for instance, About says, that, of all useful animals, the woman is the one that the Roman peasant employs with the most profit. "She makes the bread and the cake of Turkish corn; she spins, she weaves, she sews; she goes every day three miles for wood and a mile for water; she carries on her head the load of a mule; she toils from sunrise to sunset without resisting or even complaining. The children, which she brings forth in great numbers, and which she nurses herself, are a great resource; from the age of four years they can be employed in guarding other animals."
Beside this may be placed the experience of Moffat, the African missionary, who, seeing a party of native women engaged in their usual labor of house-building, and just ready to put the roof on, suggested that some of the men who stood by should lend a hand. It was received with general laughter; but Mahuto, the queen, declared that the plan, though hopeless of execution, was in itself a good one, and that men, though excused from lighter labors, ought to take an equal share in the severer,—adding, that she wished the missionaries would give their husbands medicine and make them work.
The health of educated womanhood in the different European nations seems to depend mainly upon the degree of conformity to these rustic habits of air and exercise. In Italy, Spain, Portugal, the women of the upper classes lead secluded and unhealthy lives, and hence their physical condition is not superior to our own. In the Northern nations, women of refinement do more to emulate the active habits of the peasantry,—only substituting out-door relaxations for out-door toil,—and so they share their health. This is especially the case in England, which accordingly seems to furnish the representative types of vigorous womanhood.
"The nervous system of the female sex in England seems to be of a much stronger mould than that of other nations," says Dr. Merei, a medical practitioner of English and Continental experience. "They bear a degree of irritation in their systems, without the issue of fits, which in other races is not so easily tolerated." So Professor Tyndall, watching female pedestrianism among the Alps, exults in his countrywomen:—"The contrast in regard to energy between the maidens of the British Isles and those of the Continent and of America is astonishing." When Catlin's Indians first walked the streets of London, they reported with wonder that they had seen many handsome squaws holding to the arms of men, "and they did not look sick either";—a remark which no complimentary savage was ever heard to make in any Cisatlantic metropolis.
There is undoubtedly an impression in this country that the English vigor is bought at some sacrifice,—that it implies a nervous organization less fine and artistic, features and limbs more rudely moulded, and something more coarse and peasant-like in the whole average texture. Making all due allowance for national vanity, it is yet easy to see that superiority may be had more cheaply by lowering the plane of attainment. The physique of a healthy day-laborer is a thing of inferior mould to the physique of a healthy artist. Muscular power needs also nervous power to bring out its finest quality. Lightness and grace are not incompatible with vigor, but are its crowning illustration. Apollo is above Hercules; Hebe and Diana are winged, not weighty. The physiologist must never forget that Nature is aiming at a keener and subtiler temperament in framing the American,—as beneath our drier atmosphere the whole scale of sounds and hues and odors is tuned to a higher key,—and that for us an equal state of health may yet produce a higher type of humanity. To make up the arrears of past neglect, therefore, is a matter of absolute necessity, if we wish this experiment of national temperament to have any chance; since rude health, however obtuse, will in the end overmatch disease, however finely strung.
But the fact must always be kept in mind that the whole problem of female health is most closely intertwined with that of social conditions. The Anglo-Saxon organization is being modified not only in America, but also in England, with the changing habits of the people. In the days of Henry VIII. it was "a wyve's occupation to winnow all manner of cornes, to make malte, to wash and ironyng, to make hay, shere corne, and in time of nede to help her husband fill the muchpayne, drive the plough, load hay, corne, and such other, and go or ride to the market to sell butter, cheese, egges, chekyns, capons, hens, pigs, geese, and all manner of cornes." But now there is everywhere complaint of the growing delicacy and fragility of the English female population, even in rural regions; and the king of sanitary reformers, Edwin Chadwick, has lately made this complaint the subject of a special report before the National Association. He assumes, as a matter settled by medical authority, that the proportion of mothers who can suckle their children is decidedly diminishing among the upper and middle classes, that deaths from childbirth are eight times as great among these classes as among the peasantry, and that spinal distortion, hysteria, and painful disorders are on the increase. Nine-tenths of the evil he attributes to the long hours of school study, and to the neglect of physical exercises for girls.
This shows that the symptoms of ill-health among women are not a matter of climate only, but indicate a change in social conditions, producing a change of personal habits. It is something which reaches all; for the standard of health in the farm-houses is with us no higher than in the cities. It is something which, unless removed, stands as a bar to any substantial progress in civilization. It is a mere mockery for the millionnaire to create galleries of Art, bringing from Italy a Venus on canvas or a stone Diana, if meanwhile a lovelier bloom than ever artist painted is fading from his own child's cheek, and a firmer vigor than that of marble is vanishing from her enfeebled arms. What use to found colleges for girls whom even the high-school breaks down, or to induct them into new industrial pursuits when they have not strength to stand behind a counter? How appeal to any woman to enlarge her thoughts beyond the mere drudgery of the household, when she "dies daily" beneath the exhaustion of even that?
And the perplexity lies beyond the disease, in the perils involved even in the remedy. No person can be long conversant with physical training, without learning to shrink from the responsibility of the health of girls. The panacea for boyish health is commonly simple, even for delicate cases. Removal from books, if necessary, and the substitution of farm-life,—with good food, pure air, dogs, horses, oxen, hens, rabbits,—and fresh or salt water within walking distance. Secure these conditions, and then let him alone; he will not hurt himself. Nor will, during mere childhood, his little sister experience anything but benefit, under the same circumstances. But at the epoch of womanhood, precisely when the constitution should be acquiring robust strength, her perils begin; she then needs not merely to be allured to exertion, but to be protected against over-exertion; experience shows that she cannot be turned loose, cannot be safely left with boyish freedom to take her fill of running, rowing, riding, swimming, skating,—because life-long injury may be the penalty of a single excess. This necessity for caution cannot be the normal condition, for such caution cannot be exerted for the female peasant or savage, but it seems the necessary condition for American young women. It is a fact not to be ignored, that some of the strongest and most athletic girls among us have lost their health and become invalids for years, simply by being allowed to live the robust, careless, indiscreet life on which boys thrive so wonderfully. It is fatal, if they do too little, and disastrous, if they do too much; and between these two opposing perils the process of steering is so difficult that the majority of parents end in letting go the helm and leaving the fragile vessel to steer itself.
Everything that follows in these pages must therefore be construed in the light of this admitted difficulty. The health of boys is a matter not hard to treat, on purely physiological grounds; but in dealing with that of girls caution is necessary. Yet, after all, the perplexities can only obscure the details of the prescription, while the main substance is unquestionable. Nowhere in the universe, save in improved habits, can we ever find health for our girls. Special delicacy in the conditions of the problem only implies more sedulous care in the solution. The great laws of exercise, of respiration, of digestion are essentially the same for all human beings; and greater sensitiveness in the patient should not relax, but only stimulate, our efforts after cure. And the unquestionable fact that there are among us, after the worst is said, large numbers of robust and healthy women, should keep up our courage until we can apply their standard to the whole sex.
In presence of an evil so great, it is inevitable that there should be some fantastic theories of cure. But extremes are quite pardonable, where it is so important to explore all the sources of danger. Special ills should have special assailants, at whatever risk of exaggeration. As water-cures and vegetarian boarding-houses are the necessary defence of humanity against dirt and over-eating, so is the most ungainly Bloomer that ever drifted on bare poles across the continent a providential protest against the fashion-plates. It is probable, that, on the whole, there is a gradual amelioration in female costume. These hooded water-proof cloaks, equalizing all womankind,—these thick soles and heavy heels, proclaiming themselves with such masculine emphasis on the pavement,—these priceless india-rubber boots, emancipating all juvenile femineity from the terrors of mud and snow,—all these indicate an approaching era of good sense; for they are the requisite machinery of air, exercise, and health, so far as they go.