Chapter V

LITERARY ECHOES

THE Revolutionary upheaval produced no polite literature in any respects comparable to its utilitarian prose. The expiring wit literature of England was an exotic that refused to be naturalized, and the times were unpropitious for the creation of a native poetry. An occasional dilettante like Mather Byles aspired to be a wit, but the reputation of the clever Bostonian owed more to his tongue than to his pen, and he is dimly remembered for the letter that he received from the great Mr. Pope, rather than for notable verse. Nevertheless in the early seventies pure literature was beginning to make a perceptible stir in New England. Clever young men in the colleges were turning moderns and making ready to wage a new battle of the books. They preferred the refinements of verse to the didacticism of sermons; they were discovering the charm of playful satire; and they found in the currently fashionable tetrameter a brisk vehicle for their attacks on academic dullness. They admired Churchill, then at the height of his brief fame, but they were restrained by a decent modesty and dared not go his length in brutal frankness. It was from these young men, amateurs in verse writing and amateurs likewise in politics, that the American cause mainly recruited its literary defenders. They might be flaming Whigs but they were also well-bred young gentlemen who studied the amenities and sought to unite patriotism with good form.

I

THE WHIG SATIRISTS

1. JOHN TRUMBULL

There was the best of Yankee blood in the veins of John Trumbull. Among his kinsmen were the Reverend Benjamin Trumbull, historian of Connecticut, Governor Jonathan Trumbull—Washington's "Brother Jonathan"—and John Trumbull the painter. On his mother's side he was descended from the vigorous Solomon Stoddard, grandfather of Jonathan Edwards. His father was a scholarly minister, long a trustee of Yale College, at which school the son spent seven years as undergraduate and tutor. He was a precocious youth with a strong love of polite letters, and a praiseworthy desire to achieve literary distinction. Greek and Latin had been the toys of his childhood and when he was seven years of age he passed the entrance examination to college. During the period of his tutorship he joined with Timothy Dwight and Joseph Howe in the work of overhauling the stale curriculum, supplementing Lilly's Grammar and Calvin's Institutes with Pope and Churchill. Like other aspiring youths of the day he dabbled in Spectator papers, practiced his couplets, and eventually produced The Progress of Dulness, the cleverest bit of academic verse till then produced in America. At heart Trumbull was thoroughly academic, and nothing would have suited his temperament better than the life of a Yale professor; but the prospects proving unfavorable, he began to mingle Blackstone with the poets in preparation for his future profession.

He was thus engaged during the middle years of the long dispute with England, the bitter wranglings of which seem to have disturbed him little in his quiet retreat. But in 1773 he resigned his tutorship to prepare himself further in the law. Removing to Boston he entered the office of John Adams, then rising to prominence as a spokesman of the popular party; and he took lodgings in the house of Caleb Cushing, Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly. Placed thus at the storm center of provincial politics, he was soon infected with the Whig dissatisfactions and joined himself to the patriotic party. When Adams went to Philadelphia to sit in the Continental Congress, Trumbull withdrew to Hartford, where he established himself. Before quitting Boston he had published an Elegy on the Times, a political tract that seemed to Adams so useful to the cause that he marked the young poet for future service, and the year following he encouraged the writing of M'Fingal, the first part of which appeared in 1775. So great was the prestige it met with that Trumbull tinkered with it for seven years, publishing it finally in its completed form in 1782. The law seems to have been a jealous mistress then as now, and his dreams of further literary work were inadequately realized. He is believed to have had a hand in The Anarchiad, and he wrote some minor poems; but he soon drifted into politics, went on the bench, finally removed to Detroit in 1825, and died there in 1831, at the age of eighty-one. He had outlived his Revolutionary generation, long outlived his literary ambitions, and was pretty much forgotten before he died. His collected works, published in 1820, proved a losing venture for the printer. America in 1820 was turning romantic, and few, it seems, cared to invest in two volumes of echoes.

Trumbull's reputation rests exclusively on M'Fingal. It was so popular in its time that more than thirty pirated editions were issued. It was broadcasted by "news-papers, hawkers, pedlars, and petty chapmen," and it served its partisan purpose. The author was complimented by the Marquis de Chastellux on fulfilling all the conditions of burlesque poetry as approved since the days of Homer; but in spite of the indisputable cleverness of some of the lines, it is not a great work. In its final form it is spun out to extreme length, and pretty much swamped by the elaborate machinery on which the poet visibly prided himself. Even in the thick of attack Trumbull did not forget his academic reading, but he explains his allusions with meticulous care. He seems, indeed, rather more concerned about the laws of the mock epic than the threatened rights of America. The Scotch Tory hero is a figure so unlike the real Tory—the Olivers and Leonards and Hutchinsons, with their love of power and dignified display—that the caricature loses much in historical veracity. Trumbull's patriotism was well bred and unmarked by fierce partisanship. His refined tastes were an ill equipment for the turmoil of revolution. The ways of the radical were not lovely in his eyes; the Sons of Liberty with their tar-pots and feather-beds were too often rough fellows, and although they provided him with comic material to set off the blunderings of the Squire, they probably seemed to him little better than tools of demagogues. Very often this tousleheaded democracy behaved like a mob, and Trumbull in his tie-wig did not approve of mobs.

The more thoughtfully one reads M'Fingal, throwing upon it the light of the total career of its author, the more clearly one perceives that John Trumbull was not a rebellious soul. In the year 1773, while projecting some fresh ventures in the Spectator vein, "he congratulated himself on the fact 'that the ferment of politics' was, as he supposed, 'pretty much subsided,' and that at last the country was to enjoy a 'mild interval from the struggles of patriotism and self-interest, from noise and confusion, Wilkes and liberty.'" He had then no wish for embroilment in civil war, no dreams of political independence. All his life he seems to have suffered from ill health, which probably sapped his militancy and lessened his pugnacity. From this temperamental calmness came a certain detachment that allowed his partisanship to remain cooler than the hot passions of the times commonly suffered. He could permit himself the luxury of a laugh at the current absurdities; and it is this light-heartedness that made M'Fingal so immediately effective. The rollicking burlesque of the Tory argument, the telling reductio ad absurdum of the Tory logic, must have tickled the ears of every Whig and provoked many a laugh in obscure chimney-seats. Laughter is a keen weapon, and Trumbull's gayety laid open weak spots in the Tory armor that were proof against Freneau's invective. It was a rare note in those acrimonious times, and one likes Trumbull the better for minding his manners and engaging in the duel like a gentleman. After all, this son of Yale had certain characteristics of the intellectual, and if his environment had been favorable and the law had not claimed him, very likely he would have given a better account of the talents that were certainly his. He wrote with ease if not with finish, and he possessed the requisite qualities of a man of letters. A lovable man he seems to have been, but somewhat easy-going, too lightly turned away from his purpose; and in consequence his later life failed to realize the expectations of his early years.

That he was not a Loyalist was probably due in large measure to environment and his family connections. Considering his temperament, it is not easy to discover any logical reason why he should have turned Whig. He had never suffered in his own fortune from existing arrangements; he was not a political idealist to throw the glamor of republicanism about the struggle; he had not subjected the colonial question to critical analysis. He was an academic dilettante, unconcerned with political principles, little more than an echo of the Connecticut gentry in such matters; and if he espoused the Whig cause it is a pretty good indication that Yale College was indoctrinated in Whig principles. An echo he remained throughout his life. When later he became a Federalist and enjoyed some of the emoluments of party victory, and when later still democracy lifted up its head in Connecticut, wearing the cockade, and bringing down upon it the wrath of all respectable people, he reflected faithfully the views of his class.

John Trumbull was a moderate liberal, but no leveler, no democrat, no friend to Jeffersonian heresies. Democracy he detested heartily, and he joined with the other Hartford Wits to draw its portrait in unflattering terms. As a Connecticut gentleman he was insistent on the supremacy of the tie-wig in government as well as in society; he would scarcely have been a Connecticut gentleman had he thought otherwise.

2. FRANCIS HOPKINSON, ESQ.

If the career of Trumbull indicates that Whiggery existed among the young collegians of Connecticut, the career of Francis Hopkinson suggests that the culture of Philadelphia, the great center of fashion and wit, was Whiggish also. That it should have been so is the more noteworthy, for the Quaker spirit of Philadelphia was far less militant than the Puritan spirit of Boston; more peaceful, if not more conservative. The city had long been dominated by a group of sober merchants who detested the leveling tendencies of New England. But the domination of these older men was passing; a younger generation, more aggressive in trade and speculation, was rising to power; and that Philadelphia finally went with the Whigs was due to the influence of these younger merchants. When it became clear that the commercial interests of men like Robert Morris and George Clymer were disadvantaged by the connection with England, the ardor of patriotism grew stronger, and talk of independence became common. No sooner had business come out for independence than culture swung over; the wit which would gladly have remained loyal applauded the comments of the countinghouse, and the newspaper essay reflected the new patriotic sentiments.

Chief among the Philadelphia wits was Francis Hopkinson, Esq., a charmingly versatile dilettante, who to the vocation of the law and the bench of admiralty, joined the polite avocations of painting, music, natural philosophy, and literature. He was indisputably clever, full of innumerable sprightly enthusiasms, and master of cultivated speech and manners. Of his skill in painting and music we cannot judge, but of his literary accomplishments the record has been preserved. Life seems to have been an agreeable experience to him, and if his dainty enthusiasms were a marvel to John Adams, [1] it would indicate that society in Philadelphia in 1775 was far more refined than in provincial Boston.

Hopkinson possessed ample means to gratify his polite tastes, and had long moved in the most exclusive circles. The son of an eminent lawyer, he had received the best education available in the colonies, after which he went abroad to acquire old-world polish. Some fourteen months were spent in England, where, as a near kinsman of the Bishop of Worcester, he frequented the best English society, made the acquaintance of eminent men, and even enjoyed the distinction of dining with my Lord North. On his return he prudently fell in love with an heiress of the Bordens, of Bordentown, and turned Jerseyman the better to administer his wife's estates. He entered the law, and doubtless at the solicitation of his kinsman the Bishop, be became a beneficiary of ministerial patronage: receiving appointment in 1772 to a sinecure post as collector of customs at Newcastle, and two years later being made mandamus councilor for New Jersey—a somewhat hazardous post, considering the nature of the office and the temper of the people. Already in Massachusetts certain gentlemen had learned that the compliment of royal recognition might cost too dear a price. That Hopkinson should have been tendered such an appointment as late as 1774, shows that he was regarded by the ministry as good Tory material.

During the anxious months of 1774, when intelligent Americans were trying to forecast the outcome of the growing radicalism of the colonial temper, Hopkinson must have done some serious thinking; with the result that when in September the Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, he offered to the members as his contribution to the discussion a clever little allegory wherein the whole question at issue between England and the colonies was sketched with a light touch that is an agreeable relief from the arguments of the official debaters. In A Pretty Story Hopkinson is frankly pro-colonial, and offers his wit to the service of his country. It is not a great work, but it shows that he had definitely put aside the ministerial temptation—probably to the disgust of the good Bishop-and had gone over to the Whigs. Two years later he took a seat in the Congress, and within a week voted for the Declaration of Independence, aligning himself against the conservative group led by his fellow townsman, John Dickinson.

What impelled Hopkinson to so momentous a shift in political opinion can be explained by no records that have been preserved, and must remain a matter of conjecture. Even less than Trumbull was he revolutionary in temper. His Whiggery was probably commercial in origin, a reflection of the economic interests of the merchant class with which he mingled. That he went so far as to attack the aristocratic spirit of the English government—its debauching of public servants and its sordid motives—may have been due quite as much to a refined integrity as to partisan advantage; but for an aristocrat to attack the aristocratic principle of government was unusual as it was dangerous for his class. But though he turned Whig he was no agrarian to substitute the majority will for the royal prerogative; and when the war was over and political re-alignment was under way, Hopkinson went with his group, became a stout Federalist, defended the Constitution, and enjoyed his share of the party emoluments. His wit was unembittered by the acrimonious disputes of Jacobin days, and his partisanship retained its note of casual sprightliness through the dogdays of the nineties.

His chief contributions to the debate over the Constitution were The New Roof and Objections to the Proposed Plan of a Federal Government for the United States, on Genuine Principles. They are delightfully clever, but the cleverness cannot conceal a goodnatured contempt for the democratic underling and all his ways. The attitude of aristocratic superiority is the more striking for its easy bearing. The first is an implied eulogy of James Wilson, Scotch lawyer of Philadelphia, who as master-architect finds his plans for erecting a splendid roof over a "certain Mansionhouse" violently opposed by Margery, a slattern midwife, for no better reason than that "in the construction of the new roof, her apartments would be considerably lessened." Margery, of course, is agrarian democracy, and to further her interests she incites three worthless servants to testify that the old leaky roof is better than the one proposed. Naturally their flimsy arguments are laughed out of court, and the wisdom of the architect is apparent to all except a "half-crazy fellow" [2] who filled the air with his "fustian," making himself a general nuisance to the disgust of all respectable people.

In the second of the two works, Hopkinson gives freer rein to his polite fancy, figuring the opposition to the Constitution under the form of a Wheelbarrow Society at the city gaol. Within those walled precincts, he suggests, the most advanced advocates of natural liberty may be found, and there the monstrous crime of the Constitution is most eloquently exposed. How foolish is this America that persists in believing what able lawyers and reputable gentlemen say of the merits of the document, and refuses to intrust the making of a fundamental law to such true liegemen of democracy as these knights of the chain-gang! It is all very witty, and provokes its laugh, and serves its purpose of heaping on the head of the opposition the class prejudice that was indignant at the insolence of plebeians in holding contrary views on a subject quite beyond their comprehension. But times change, and the sprightliest wit may lose its savor. Those old Federalist skits are as dead today as the marvelous pageant got up by Hopkinson to celebrate the adoption of the Constitution, an affair which greatly pleased the amiable little gentleman, a detailed account of which he prepared for the definitive edition of his works, where it may be read by the curious.

If Francis Hopkinson is no very important figure in our literary history, he is not without significance as a representative of our colonial culture that deliberately chose to be Whig rather than Tory. He risked much and he was amply rewarded. For years he sat on the bench of the Court of Admiralty, sparkled at dinners, and was a respected and influential member of a genteel society. If the recompense for his services during the perilous days was greater than fell to the lot of a democrat like Philip Freneau, who will wonder? Like rewards like, and the days of democratic rewards were not yet come in America.

II

THE TORY SATIRISTS

1. JONATHAN ODELL

Amongst the occasional writers who dedicated extemporized couplets to the defense of Toryism in America, there can be no doubt to whom belongs the primacy. Jonathan Odell was easily first as a purveyor of virulent Loyalist rhyme. Of the sternest Puritan ancestry, Odell was educated in medicine, and saw service in the West Indies as surgeon to his Majesty's forces. Turning Anglican he was ordained priest in London, and came home to his native colonies as a missionary, to further the cause of episcopacy. Busily engaged with parochial duties, he chose to remain aloof from all political disputes, and during the early months of the war he refrained from taking sides. Unfortunately, however, he made acquaintances among some captive British officers, for whom he wrote a song in honor of the King's birthday, which was sung with much drinking of wine on June 4, 1776, the news of which getting abroad stirred the Whig partisans to anger. Soon thereafter matters grew too warm for Odell to remain longer neutral; he suffered certain humiliating personal experiences and was driven to seek refuge within the British lines. Thenceforth none was more ardent in the royal cause. He busied himself with innumerable intrigues to undermine the Whig strength, amongst others serving as a go-between in the unlucky Andr&@233;-Arnold affair. He remained implacable to the end, and not until the last Redcoat was withdrawn from the independent states, did he leave off urging reprisals. When it was all over he withdrew sullenly to Nova Scotia, was amply rewarded by his King, and sat down to nourish to the end of a long life the most virulent hatred of all Whigs and republicans. "Toryissimus," Professor Tyler calls him, borrowing Sir Walter's word; and the term hits to a nicety the bitter arrogant nature which so closely resembled in its essentials the "proud prelate Laud," from whom his ancestors had fled a hundred and fifty years before.

A vigorous man was Jonathan Odell, strong, capable, uncompromising, possessing a clear intellect and a heart little touched by Christian charity—a stern Hebraist who would sweep away with the besom of wrath all the enemies of his God and his King. He felt no hesitation in making out the list of the proscribed: the enemies of the King were ipso facto the enemies of God—rebels who were daily signing their own death warrants in overt acts of treason. Watching the seditious crew of "Congress men" seducing the colonials into unnatural rebellion against the best of kings and fathers, he took it to be his Christian duty to lay the rod of correction upon their shoulders. If they would not be warned they must be hanged. Not content with active intrigue, he pressed his pen into service, and during the year 1779 he wrote four pieces which for bitterness of satire outdid Freneau at his frankest. Freneau was bitter and brutal in all conscience, but he was never nasty; there were infamies of personal insult that he would not stoop to, vulgarities of innuendo that he was not guilty of. If he studied the art of Churchill, he stopped short of Churchill's grossness. But Odell the priest was unhampered by scruple; the meanest gossip found a place in his "acrid rhyme." No Christian charity spread its mantle over the shortcomings of his enemies, no Christian forgiveness found lodgment in his unforgiving heart. He was a son of the Old Testament and he girded up his righteousness with prayer.

Ask I too much? then grant me for a time
Some deleterious pow'rs of acrid rhyme:
Some ars'nic verse, to poison with the pen
These rats, who nestle in the Lion's den! [3]

The four satires which embody his holy wrath and which were little calculated to spread sweetness and light in a world sorely in need of them, are The Word of Congress, The Congratulation, The Feu de Joie, and The American Times—all written, probably, in the last months of the year 1779. Of these the first and the last are the most suggestive in their denunciation. The spirit which prompted him to turn to satire is given in the preface to the 1780 edition of The American Times.

The masters of Reason have decided, that when doctrines and practices have been fairly examined, and proved to be contrary to Truth, and injurious to Society, then and not before may Ridicule be lawfully employed in the Service of Virtue. This is exactly the case of the grand American Rebellion; it has been weighed in the balance, and found wanting: able writers have exposed its principles, its conduct, and its final aim. Reason has done her part, and therefore this is the legitimate moment for Satire. Accordingly the following Piece is offered to the Public. What it is found to want of Genius, the Author cannot supply; what it may want of Correction, he hopes the candor of the Public will excuse on account of the fugitive nature of the subject: next year the publication would be too late; for in all probability there will then be no Congress existing.

When we examine the work of Odell to discover the deeper springs of his thought, we come upon naked class prejudice, undiluted Toryism. His social philosophy is erected upon that unstable foundation; the actions of men are judged solely by that light. Of any valid or reasoned philosophy, social or political, he was as wanting as a child. Of any real understanding of his fellow Americans who had espoused the Whig cause, he was as lacking as General Clinton, whose "warfare," Odell asserted, "was the war of God." The colonial grievances which other Tories acknowledged to have some foundation, Odell casually ignored. There was no cause in heaven or earth for colonial disloyalty, he was convinced, except Whiggish perversity, and for such perversity there must be due punishment—the rope. In his mind's eye he sees the "impious crew," one after another silenced by the halter. There must be no ill-judged mercy; the best of the rebels must swing with the worst, for they are all sedition-mongers, all attainted traitors. From his vast ignorance Odell derived an equally vast confidence in the ultimate triumph of truth. There is a note of finality in his judgments that amazes, an infallibility that amuses. The Reverend Jonathan frankly acknowledges himself to be the boon companion of Reason, the favored suitor of Truth—from them only has he taken instruction and in their name he professes to speak. Whereas the Whigs are poor fellows who have held commerce with neither.

Odell is careful of his workmanship and organizes his materials with an eye to climax. The American Times is formally divided into three parts. The poem opens with a summoning of the infernal crew of sedition and the abuse of them severally, rising to a rhetorical conclusion in an address to Washington; then the leering Democracy, is painted; portrait of the mother of all mischiefs, finally comes a pure and lofty strain which summons Reason to decide in the great cause. Taxation, Independence, are haled before her august throne and there condemned, and the whole concludes with a vision of Britannia's guardian angel bearing a two-edged sword and proclaiming:

At length the day of Vengeance is at hand:
The exterminating Angel takes his stand:
Hear the last summons, rebels, and relent:
Yet but a moment is there to repent.
Lo! the great Searcher ready at the door,
Who means decisively to purge the floor:
Yes, the wise Sifter now prepares the fan
To separate the meal from useless bran.
Down to the centre from his burning ire
Ye foes of goodness and of truth, retire:
And ye, who now lie humbled in the dust,
Shall raise your heads, ye loyal and ye just;
Th' approving sentence of your Sov'reign gain.
And shine refulgent as the starry train.
Then, when eternal Justice is appeas'd;
When with due vengeance heav'n and earth are pleas'd;
America, from dire pollution clear'd,
Shall flourish yet again, belov'd, rever'd:
In duty's lap her growing sons be nurs'd,
And her last days be happier than her first. [4]

Into this framework Odell has fitted a surprising number of personal attacks. His blots out the good name of every Whig on whom it drips. To the present generation it furnishes food for wonder to see what a paltry appearance the fathers make in the verse of this plain-speaking Tory. Jefferson, Paine, Morris, Adams, Washington, and a host of others, are shallow creatures, in the judgment of Odell, bereft of reason, void of honor, the very scum of the revolutionary pot; whereas Clinton and Gage, Hutchinson and Galloway, are holy instruments in the hand of God to cleanse the land of pollution. The attack is rankly and grossly partisan, with no saving grace of humor or humanity. The alpha and omega of Odell's political faith was loyalty to the crown, and the bankruptcy of such a creed in revolutionary America is nowhere thrust into harsher relief than in the bitter verses of this bitter heart. Empty Jonathan Odell of prejudice, class interest, passion for the prerogative, with their corollary of praise for an unmanly truckling to the King, and nothing remains, the empty sack collapses. It was a hardship that he should have been driven out of his native country upon the failure of the King's cause, but what could be done with a fellow who insisted that his empty sack was stuffed with all the virtues? He was harshly intolerant in his Toryism, and he encountered a victorious republican harshness.

2. Samuel Peters

It is amusing to turn from the implacable Odell to the mendacious Peters, only to meet with another tale of abortive missionary zeal. The Anglican clergy played a conspicuous part during the Revolutionary troubles—a part that in many cases inspired small regard for the establishment in the minds of a dissenting laity. Not in vain did the church teach loyalty to authority, for while the British Empire was breaking asunder, the Anglican ministers were visible pillars of prerogative and with pen and voice lent effective aid to the royal cause. Sometimes their ardor outran their intelligence, their devotion betrayed their discretion; nevertheless their zeal contributed notably to the number and quality of the Loyalist writings.

For some inconceivable reason Samuel Peters was seized with a desire to plant the Anglican church in Congregational Connecticut—surely the strangest of desires and the strangest of men to undertake such a work. To uplift the banner of episcopacy in a commonwealth that for over a hundred years had been militantly Separatist, that did not want bishops and would not have them—here was missionary zeal that a plain man understands with difficulty. To have made headway at all there was need of apostolic fervor and an ingratiating tact; and Samuel Peters possessed neither. He was a gentleman who preened himself on his quality, exuding in speech and action a pride of caste that led him to speak of the American farmers as peasants—the only native Loyalist who thus aped the English. His abilities were far from mean, but his better qualities were corroded by overweening conceit. Possessed of all the arrogance of a lord and all the ostentation of a brewer, he was scarcely the man to serve the Connecticut laity with due Christian humility. He pointed out the truth authoritatively and then took it as a personal affront if his hearers failed to agree with him. And so, after explaining to the Congregationalists of Connecticut the infallible truth of the Anglican way, and being ready to minister to them according to that way, he fell into a pet when they refused to turn churchmen. The more he argued the more he got himself disliked, and when his tactless loyalism brought down the Sons of Liberty upon him and he was driven to Boston—whence he sailed for England where he survived for thirty-one years—he took a spirited revenge by writing his History of Connecticut, a work that solaced the early years of expatriation, and provided material for many an after argument.

It is an amazingly provocative book, over which the sons of Connecticut have disputed acrimoniously for a hundred years without coming to agreement. Fortunately those disputes are of far less concern today than the political philosophy tucked away in the pages of the History; the scandal is far less interesting than the shrewd comment on the causes of the American Revolution. Samuel Peters was a high Tory with the virtue of frankness, which defeat had made the more open. From his secure refuge in England he looked back upon the revolutionary upheaval, and his analysis of causes is the more suggestive from the fact that he had nothing to gain from truckling to popular opinion. His judgments are interesting even when he exaggerates. The colonial Tory is no longer serving immediate partisan ends, but after the battle has been fought and lost he takes a grim pleasure in pointing out to the English government its costly blunders. Affairs went ill in America, not because of too much Toryism on the part of government, but because of too little and too late applied. The explanation of the origin and spread of unrest in America, Peters regarded as very simple. The tap-root of the disaffection was republicanism, which through the criminal negligence of government was not severed in the days when the plant was small, but which was suffered to grow till the tree could not be pulled up or destroyed.

It appears to me, that the British government, in the last century, did not expect New-England to remain under their authority; nor did the New-Englanders consider themselves as subjects, but allies, of Great Britain. It seems that England's intent was to afford an asylum to the republicans who had been a scourge to the British constitution; and so, to encourage that restless party to emigrate, republican charters were granted, and privileges and promises given them far beyond what an Englishman in England is entitled to. The emigrants were empowered to make laws, in church and state, agreeable to their own will and pleasure, without the King's approbation. [5]
From the first they have uniformly declared, in church and state, that America is a new world, subject to the people residing in it; and that none but enemies to the country would appeal from their courts to the King in Council. They never have prayed for any earthly king by name. They always called themselves republicans and enemies to kingly government. . . . They hate the idea of a parliament. . . . They never have admitted one law of England to be in force among them, till passed by their assemblies. . . . They hold Jesus to be their only King, whom if they love and obey, they will not submit, because they have not submitted to the laws of the King of England. [6]

The natural fruits of this pernicious root of republicanism were the colonial hostility to the monarchical and aristocratic elements of the British constitution, together with all the domestic turbulence and lawlessness which have marked the history of New England from the first. If gentlemen wished an object lesson in republicanism, none better than Connecticut could be had; there from the earliest days, "republicanism, schisms, and persecution have gone hand in hand; and it was to make this clear to the world that Samuel Peters took the trouble to write his History.

In the course of this work, my readers must necessarily have observed, in some degree, the ill effects of the democratical constitution of Connecticut. I would wish them to imagine, for I feet myself unable adequately to describe, the confusion, turbulence, and convulsion, arising in a province, where not only every civil officer, from the Governor to the constable, but also every minister, is appointed as weml as paid by the people, and faction and superstition are established. The clergy, lawyers, and merchants or traders, are the three efficient parties lhich guide the helm of government. . . . En rabies vulgi—I must beg leave to refer my readers to their own reflections upon such a system of government as I have here sketched out. [7]

That such a people would respect the King's laws at a late day, when those laws lessened their profits, was foolish to expect. There had been much complaint from ministerial gentlemen in respect to colonial smuggling; but how idle was it to complain of the natural consequences of ministerial laxness chronic for a hundred years!

Smuggling is rivetted in the constitutions and practice of the inhabitants of Connecticut . . . and their province is a storehouse for the smugglers of the neighboring colonies. They conscientiously study to cheat the King of those duties, which, they say, God and nature never intended should be paid. From the governor down to the tithing-man, who are sworn to support the laws, they will aid smugglers, resist collectors, and mob informers. [8]

In contemplating these open and notorious facts, which every member of government must have known, Samuel Peters came very near anger at the gross stupidity of the ministerial policy. The way to have met these difficulties was plain—the itch of democracy should have been cured with the salve of aristocracy. The natural leaders in the several colonies should have been taken care of by a judicious distribution of titles of nobility.

The people of New-England are rightly stiled republicans: but a distinction should be made between the learned and unlearned, the rich and poor. The latter form a great majority; the minority, therefore, are obliged to wear the livery of the majority, in order to secure their election into office. Those very republican gentlemen are ambitious, fond of the power of governing, and grudge no money nor pains to obtain an annual office. What would they not give for a dignity depending not on the fickle will of a multitude, but on the steady reason and generosity of a King? [9]

There was shrewd, unclerical wisdom in the comment of Samuel Peters. If the gentlemen of England had founded their colonial policy on the principle of sharing the emoluments of rank and power with ambitious gentlemen in America, there might well have been quite another story to tell. But because they begrudged the small rewards, because they would have the shadow as well as the substance, they lost everything. An outcome so untoward and so stupid hurt Samuel Peters to the quick; but it was not his fault, and he doubtless found a crumb of malicious satisfaction in pointing out the ministerial stupidity after the mischief was done.


[1] See Familiar Letters of John and Abigail Adams, p. 217.
[2] "Philadelphiensis," one of the anti-Federalist pamphleteers.
[3] Loyalist Poetry, p. 55.
[4] Loyalist Poetry, p. 36.
[5] General History of Connecticut, Appendix, p. 374.
[6] Ibid., p. 290.
[7] Ibid., pp. 282-285.
[8] Ibid., p. 320.
[9] Ibid., p. 377.