« PreviousContinue »
Connecticut, I say, because the late governour whereof has sent over large packets to England, and among the rest a letter or two from Northampton, demonstrating a wonderful falsehood in the charges, which you have loaded this poor people withal.
We have long since had sent over to us your son's letter to a kinsman, which declares your good will to the charter, expressed more ways than one. And, Sir, why should any more charters be envied, maligned, unhinged? The destruction of them would open the flood gates for a world of inconveniences, though particular men might be gainers thereby.
Shall I go on with my expostulations in behalf of my poor people? Before the Port Royalers knew (though we did) that the war was broke forth, you were earnestly solicited (as Haraden tells) by some, who would have put the country to no charge about it, that you would but give them leave to go, and at once put an end unto all possibility of any future trouble from that quarter, that unto us. I beseech you, Sir, why did you reject that proposal, and send them away with grief, and make them fear and say, that a seat of trade was to be reserved there? This one thing has undone us.
When Church afterwards went with his forces thither, he could as easily have taken the fort at Port Royal, as have done any thing in the world; but the reason which he has often given of his not doing it, is because you absolutely forbade him; you peremptorily forbade him. The cause you assigned was; because the matter had been laid before the Queen; and the Queen had sent over no orders for it. Anon the fort will not be taken; and though the Queen has sent no orders, we send a pretence to take it. But this story grows now too black a story for me to meddle with. The expedition baffled. The fort never so much as demanded. The forces retreating from the place, as if they were afraid of its being surrendered. An eternal gravestone laid out on the buried captives. A nest of hornets provoked to fly out upon us. The back of the country broken with insupportable expenses. A shame cast upon us, that will never be forgotten. And all possible care taken that after all, nobody shall be to blame! I dare not, I cannot meddle with these mysteries. There are abler and better pens will do it. All I say is, the country is ruined; and the premises declare whose conduct very much of the ruin is owing to. As I could wish that your own true honour and interest had in those matters been more consulted; so it were to be wished that the honour of the government had been less forgotten. Sir, though your counsellors have not the courage (as I have) to tell you of it, yet I will inform you that your way of treating them is grievous to many of them, a damage to the publick, and a disgrace to the government.
When things are proposed unto them, you will not allow them (no, though they in an humble manner request it) the liberty of a due deliberation. You hurry them; you force them; you chase them out
of their pace; you drive them too fast; and when you have been told of wrong steps, you have laid the blame upon them, saying, It was the council.
When officers are to be chosen, a day for a general council is appointed. You take not the day for the choice. Two or three days after, you nick the time for the turn. Sometimes justices are thus obtruded upon the people, that bring a blemish and contempt on the commissions; and are the reason why our best gentlemen disdain to meddle with them; and some that have them, do resent the affront of the companions provided for them, as much as the gentlemen of Essex do what was lately put upon them.
It is no rare thing for you to impose gross contradictions on the counYou will strongly assert a thing; and a while after, with as much strength, assert the contrary. Yea, in the same session, you will vehemently explode a thing; and within a week or two, as vehemently maintam that very thing. You will say, You will forfeit your head, if you do this or that; and anon you will do it for all, when some indirect purposes are to be prosecuted.
The dropping of courts merely to satisfy the disposition, that sometimes makes wise men mad, has been vastly to the damages of the subjects.
You have catalogues of grievances by the assemblies often laid before you, and they groan that they cannot persuade you to take notice of them. Yea, it is cried, that the publick faith has been most notoriously violated. You have the remonstrance of an assembly upon it.
I will only add, that the cry of the horrible trade carried on at the castle reaches to the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and will doubtless hasten terrible rebukes from an holy God upon the causer of it.
What the grieved merchants have to say, they themselves are best able to say.
Sir, these are some of those things for which, I fear, you are in illterms with heaven, and except those be removed, you are in danger of meeting ill-things on earth. Nazianzen applying himself in a sermon to the governour of the places where he lived, says, Sir, I pray you remember that you are baptized a christian; and exercise your authority with so much goodness and mercy, as to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, from whom you have received it. I presume to offer unto your Excellency the same counsel; but because you have not so exercised your authority, and because I knew not what may be the continuance of your authority, I must further entreat of you that you would endeavour in the methods of piety such a reconciliation to the Divine Majesty, as may engage his good providence on your behalf in this world, and may secure you happiness in the world to come.
Sir, you are sensible that there is a judgment to come, wherein the glorious Lord will demand, how far you aimed at serving him in your government; how far you did in a wise, grave, just, and good administration, represent the beauties of his government unto
your people; how far you did in your government encourage those that had most of his image upon them, or place your eyes on the wicked of the land. Your age and health, as well as other circumstances, greatly invite you, Sir, to entertain awful thoughts of this matter, and solicit the divine mercy through the only sacrifice.
No usage that I can meet withal shall cause me to lay aside the temper towards you, which multitudes of witnesses can say, I have expressed on all occasions. I have been desirous that you should not hurt my poor country; for it is dearer to me than your Excellency. It would make me cry out, though I was the dumb son of Croesus. When things have looked incurable, I have declared my sorrows to a private friend, and there at the instigation of those whom I thought were friends to the publick. It was never intended, but the contrary with all importunity demanded, that any of my simple conversation with a private correspondent should be made publick; and that when I have spoken what the best men in your council will speak upon occasions, it should reach any further than the private conversation. At the same time I can, with all the sincerity imaginable, acknowledge your abilities and accomplishments; talents whereof a great account must be given to the Lord of all. And I have always done so. I can heartily mourn for all the calamity wherein you make yourself obnoxious; and I have done so. I can heartily set myself about to seek the prosperity of your family; and I have done so. I can heartily pray, that you may enjoy an old age full of good fruits, and be blessed in both worlds; and I do so. Secret places can testify it. Every service that can be done for you, consistent with what I apprehend fidelity to the publick interest; even so far as these altars, where all personal respects must be sacrificed, you may with assurance command me to do.
Scores of times have my most intimate friends heard me formerly say, that although in the time of your government, you have treated me with much aversion (and would affront a gentleman for nothing, but the crime of giving me a visit; and would throw affronts upon gentlemen, merely for being inhabitants in that part of the town where I have my habitation ;) yet if the troubles you brought on yourself should procure your abdication and recess unto a more private condition, and your present parasites forsake you, as you may be sure they will, I should think it my duty to do you all the good offices imaginable.
Finally, I can forgive and forget injuries; and I hope I am somewhat ready for sunset; the more for having discharged the duty of this letter.
It is now so near it, that I take leave to subscribe, Sir,
Your humble and faithful servant,
To the Governour.
AN ORIGINAL LETTER FROM GOVERNOUR DUDLEY, TO DR. INCREASE AND DR. COTTON MATHER.
Roxbury, February 3, 1707-8.
YOURS of the 20th instant I received; and the contents, both as to the matter and manner, astonish me to the last degree. I must think you have extremely forgot your own station, as well as my character; otherwise it had been impossible to have made such an open breach upon all the laws of decency, honour, justice, and christianity, as you have done in treating me with an air of superiority and contempt, which would have been greatly culpable towards a christian of the lowest order, and is insufferably rude towards one whom divine Providence has honoured with the character of your Governour. I charitably hoped your second thoughts, ere this, would have corrected your past errour, and would have given you a juster view of yourselves and me.
I trust that I am not so lost to the spirit of christianity, but I am always ready to sustain, with thankfulness, all well designed reproofs, administered with a proper temper and spirit; and am disposed to take my reprover into my bosom : But I should be stupid not to distinguish between reproaches and christian admonitions.
I always thought that some of the laws of wise and christian reproof
That the things reproved be as to fact notorious, and not bare matters of fears, jealousy, and evil surmisings: That these facts be evident breaches of some known laws of christianity That the admonitions be not administered with bitterness, or vilifying ignominious language, but with a spirit of meekness. Gal. vi. 1: That a superiour be treated with a respectful distance; not reviled, not stigmatized as the most profligate, but entreated as a father. Job xxxiv. 1-8. 1 Tim. v. 1. That the admonition be seasonable, when the reprover as well as the reproved are in the best temper, and there is least reason to suspect him influenced by prejudice, wrath, and ill will James i. 20.
How far these wise laws of christian reproof, as well as others that might be mentioned, have been observed, in your late pretended faithful and conscientious admonitions, I do seriously recommend to your thoughts, when you retire before the Searcher of hearts to prove these with your other works.
In many of the matters of fact, you labour of great mistakes, which have been taken up with great credulity; and indeed you have raked together whatever has been imputed to me these many years, either through prejudice or mistake-and seem to think the bruit of a town a sufficient foundation to build a charge on. As to some other things contained in your charge, I cannot esteem you competent judges; but that ye have gone out of your line to meddle with them; and have forgot the Apostle's wholesome advice, 1 Thes. iv. 11,
But I will suppose all the matters of fact were true, and that I were as a christian accountable to you for them; yet I cannot but think that your manner of treating me can be justified by no principles of reason, religion, nay, of common civility. The very spirit and temper of your letters will, I doubt not, appear to all indifferent persons to be the farthest from the spirit which is pure, peaceable, and gentle.
Why, gentlemen, have you been so long silent? and suffered sin to lie upon me years after years? You cannot pretend any new information as to the main of your charge; for you have privately given your tongues a loose upon these heads, I am well assured, when you thought you could serve yourselves by exposing me. Surely murder, robberies, and other such flaming immoralities were as reproveable then as now; and your consciences ought to have been as tender, and as sensible of those pressures, which you now pretend they are under, and your obligations to faithfulness to me and your country as strong as now.
Why then have you permitted me to go on in these evils, without admonition, till you tell me I have ruined myself, family, and country? And how can you clear yourselves from having a hand in so extensive desolations? Are bold threatenings essential to a christian reproof, or so much as reconcileable to them? Is it from a spirit of prophecy that you have a view of the judgments you denounce, or from a design of your own and concerted measures to introduce them? Can you think it the most proper season to do me good by your admonitions, when you have taken care to let the world know you are out of frame and filled with the last prejudice against my person and government? Surely you do but insult me, and take pains to weaken my hands; and how much it savours of a spirit of faction and sedition is easy to see. It is vain to pretend christian love and respect, or zeal for the honour of God, or publick good; vain to pretend pressures of conscience just at this season. Every one can see through the pretence, and is able to account for the spring of these letters, and how they would have been prevented, without easing any grievances you complain of. Really, gentlemen, conscience and religion are things too solemn, venerable, or sacred, to be played with, or made a covering for actions so disagreeable to the gospel, as these your endeavours to expose me and my most faithful services to contempt; nay, to unhinge the government, to withdraw the Queen's liege people from that duty and subjection which the laws of our holy religion do enjoin. I cannot but recommend to your serious thoughts these faithful admonitions. ix. Luke, 55. iv. Ephesians, 31. ii. Phil. 3, 4. 1 Sam. ii. 3. After all, though I have reason to complain to heaven and earth of your unchristian rashness, and wrath, and injustice, I would yet maintain a christian temper towards you. I do therefore now assure you, that I shall be ready to give you all the satisfaction christianity requires in these points, which are proper for you to seek or receive it in, when with a proper temper and spirit, giving me timely notice, you do see meet to