Project Canterbury

Memoir of Bishop Seabury

By William Jones Seabury, D.D.

New York: Edwin S. Gorham, 1908.
London: Rivingtons, 1908.

Chapter VIII. The B. W. Controversy. 1768-1769.

IT is evidence of increasing general interest in the political questions of the day, and in such Ecclesiastical questions as had a bearing upon them, that some of the Public Journals should have set aside columns for their particular discussion; and it is not surprising to find that private controversies sometimes grew out of these public discussions. In the paper published with the title of "The New York Gazette or the Weekly Post Boy" there appeared for some time certain columns under the caption of "The American Whig," the chief influence in which came from Governor Livingston; and in the "New York Gazette and the Mercury," printed by Hugh Games, certain columns were appropriated to a series of papers entitled "A Whip for the American Whig," these being under the Editorial supervision of "Timothy Tickle Esqr," a nom de plume of several associated writers, very active and conspicuous among whom was the Rector of West Chester. The efforts of the American Whig were supplemented, moreover, by the special attention to its opponent bestowed under the title of "A kick for the Whipper by Sir Isaac Foote." With such pleasing and suggestive metaphor were our ancestors accustomed to divert themselves and the public of their day.

In the Whip for the American Whig, of July 4, 1768, appeared a letter which animadverted rather severely, though it must be admitted much in accordance with the manners of the times on all sides exhibited, upon the Rev. Dr. Chauncey, an eminent Boston Divine who it would appear had argued against the necessity of Bishops, on the ground that it was no insuperable hardship to go to England for ordination when the expenses of the voyage were provided for by the Society. The contributor to the Whip signs himself an Independent, and dates his letter from Philadelphia June 15, 1768. In his letter he charges that the Doctor "has acted altogether beneath the character of an honest man;" and he continues, "Out of the many falsehoods he has published, I shall at this time select but one, which is this; that all the candidates for Holy Orders in the Church of England, have the expenses of their voyage home, paid by the Society, &c. The Society as I and every one else can see, publish every year an exact account of the monies they receive, and of the purposes to which they are applied. If he can produce one instance, wherein the expenses of any one Candidate for Orders have been defrayed in the manner he mentions, it is more than I have ever seen; and I think from my scrupulous inspection into the Society's abstracts, I may venture to affirm that none is to be found."

It may appear from this extract, that the long and rather tart letter from which it is taken had for its motive to discredit Dr. Chauncey, and to make his utterances as to the Episcopate seem unworthy of attention; and it may be inferred that this was naturally and properly displeasing to him. If he had replied directly to it, and shown that it had misrepresented him, his action would have been unexceptionable. Unfortunately, however, he pursued a different course, and one that caused much trouble and anxiety to others, and certainly was very far from enhancing his own reputation. He allowed himself to be defended by another person who wrote a paper, which he himself forwarded to the American Whig; and to which he himself appended a signature not his own, nor only so but a signature that apparently indicated another person by whom it was afterwards distinctly repudiated.

The defence set up by this paper was that Dr. Chauncey had not used the language attributed to him by Independent, and the paper alleged that what the Doctor had said was "that the Society has publicly given an invitation to all the Colony students, who desire Episcopal Ordination, to come to England, assuring them that their expenses in going to, and returning from thence, shall be defrayed by the Society;" that the Doctor had faithfully referred his readers to the very abstract and page, in which the invitation and promise are contained;'' that unless this undertaking can be disproved, or proved to have been revoked by the Society "they are bound in strict justice to defray the expense any young students, who go to England for Episcopal Ordination, are put to on this account, unless it is paid in some other way. This," continues the writer, "is all the Doctor wanted, or had in view, in order to a full proof of the point in debate, namely that the want of a Bishop in America was no great hardship to Candidates, on account of the expense that would arise from their crossing the Atlantic." The reason why the expenses of this kind had not in fact been defrayed by the Society for some time, the writer says, has been that there was no need of it, "as this expense has been paid not by the Candidates themselves, but by the communities, who expect the benefit of their labours, or by private donations;" adding that he himself had been often appealed to for help in such cases, which he had always been free to afford.

Now this certainly is a very good and sufficient answer to the offensive charge of "Independent," and unless he could impugn the truth of the answer, it would have been demonstrated that he had made an unjustifiable attack. If the Doctor had made this answer himself, or if his friend had been content to confine himself to this defence, nothing more had needed to be said, or probably would have been said. But as they who take the sword perish by the sword, so the Doctor, in his readiness not merely to defend himself, but to wield the trenchant weapons of offence which were supplied to him, and which he even sharpened with the edge of his own invention, involved himself in hopeless difficulty.

The writer of the paper which the Doctor procured to be published in his defence, attributes the letter of "Independent" to Mr. Seabury in the following opening sentence: "I observe that Mr. S--b--r--y, as I suppose, in his paper, printed in the New York Gazette of July 4th, very decently for a clergyman, gives Dr. Chauncey the lie;" and, having thus shown that he intends his remarks for Mr. Seabury, proceeds to impute to him the suppression of the truth known to him in regard to the charge against the Doctor while he declaimed against falsehood; and, after some other compliments, concludes as follows:

"I shall not think it improper to let this over zealous writer know, that I am not only a son of the Church of England, a real and hearty friend to its growth and prosperity, but one who has the honour of being a member of the Incorporated Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts. I am also a friend of decency, good manners, and a becoming treatment, especially, of respectable characters, ami what is more I am a friend to truth and honest impartiality; and as I am fully convinced that the representations the Society have had from this side the water are, in many instances, not only unfair, but notoriously false; I am obliged to say, what I really think, that the greatest occasion we, at present, have for a Bishop in America is, to correct and keep in order such troublesome persons as this associate with the American Whig Whipper appears to be; who with some others of the like malevolent spirit, have impertinently disturbed the quiet of this Country for some time past."

It is manifest from all this that the champion of Dr. Chauncey, not content with defence, was venting his anger upon Mr. Seabury, for what he characterizes as his rude and injurious reflections, and holding him up to the public as a troublesome person, of a malevolent spirit, who had impertinently disturbed the quiet of the Country for some time past.

If his supposition that Mr. Seabury was the author of the letter objected to had been correct, no exception could be taken to his holding him responsible for it; though it would seem that to charge him with error, or even deceit in the presentation of facts alleged against Dr. Chauncey would have been sufficient, without accusing him of so many faults, and of being so very troublesome as even to justify the importation of a Bishop to keep him in order--which, considering the aversion of Dr. Chauncey and his friends to such an importation, was really going very far indeed.

But in fact the supposition of the writer was entirely erroneous. Of the charge that he was the author of the letter of "Independent," Mr. Seabury says, in his statement contributed to "The Whip for the American Whig" of December 19th & 26th, 1768, "I positively declare, that I was so far from being the author of the paper to which he refers, that I never saw it, heard it, thought of it, or dreamed of it, 'till it made its public appearance in Mr. Gaine's Paper of July the 4th."

Mr. Seabury was then in this position. He had been held up before the public charged with an unjust and unseemly action for which he was in no way responsible, and severely condemned not only for a fault falsely alleged and wholly unproved against him, but also for the general course of his life and conduct both as to motive and act, which had been stigmatized in most odious and opprobrious terms. The weight of this unjustifiable attack, moreover, was greatly increased by the reputation of the source from which it had apparently proceeded. The paper was signed with the initials B. W.; and these initials, taken together with the writer's allusions to himself, seemed to point to one who was a man well known and highly esteemed, condemnation from whom was a matter of very serious import in the community. The inference was obvious: whether intended to be drawn or not, it could hardly fail to be drawn, and in fact actually was drawn. Yet, as the name was not printed, the authorship was still matter of inference and not of certainty. It was therefore necessary for the object of the attack to trace it to its source, and place the responsibility for it where it properly belonged; and to this end, with characteristic acumen, force, and tenacity of purpose, he forthwith addressed himself.

His first recourse was to James Parker the printer of the American Whig, who had introduced the publication of the B. W. letter in the issue of August 29th, 1768, with the following preface:

"The printer thought proper to inform the public that he received the following letter from a gentleman of figure in Boston, who has, several years past, been a member of the Society for propagating the Gospel in foreign parts; and lest any person should doubt the genuineness of this letter, the Printer hereby gives notice, that the original is now in his hands, and ready to be shown to any person who is desirous of satisfaction on this head." The letter then follows, dated "Boston, August 5, 1768," and addressed to "Mr. James Parker Printer of the American Whig."

In describing his call on Mr. Parker, Mr. Seabury writes in his letter to the Whip above cited, that in response to his request to see the original letter, Mr. Parker showed him a paper signed only B. W., and dated at Boston; that he noticed that the direction at the head of the paper and he thought also the date at Boston were in a different hand and ink. "Upon my expressing my surprise, that he should produce this paper signed only B. W. as an original letter "from a gentleman of figure in Boston," and demanding of him who the author was, Mr. Parker after some shuffling and hesitation, named Benning Wentworth Esqr., late Governor of the Province of New Hampshire, as the author; and affirmed that the written paper he then showed me, was his handwriting. Being asked by me whether he (Parker) had received the written paper signed B. W. from the late Governor Wentworth, he replied that he himself did not receive it; but that it was sent by Dr. Chauncey, of Boston, to some gentlemen of this City, to be published in his paper."

Mr. Parker having in this and another interview repeatedly declared and offered to prove that Benning Wentworth was the writer of the letter, and having also made the same statement to others, a letter was written by a gentleman to a friend in Portsmouth who in his reply enclosed the following note:

"Portsmouth, Sept. 18, 1768.

In the short time I have had to consider of the letter signed B. W. which Mr. ------advises one Parker had printed in his paper of the 29th August past, I can only at present assert, that the contents and every clause therein contained is a villainous piece of forgery: and if any measures can be taken to obtain the original letter, the villains may be discovered: and if that cannot be effected, and a legal prosecution of Parker, will answer, or be serviceable, I will be at the expense.

I am, Sir,

Your most humble servant

B. Wentworth."

Unaware of this letter, Parker, reiterating his assertion that the letter was written by Wentworth, and being required to produce the proofs which he had offered, referred Mr. Seabury to Mr. Thomas Smith an attorney who, he said, had them in his hands. Mr. Smith's testimony, on application to him, was that he had given the letter to Parker to be printed, having received it from Mr. Rogers, who received it enclosed in a letter from Dr. Chauncey, who received it from the gentleman himself in Boston; that it was not in Mr. Wentworth's handwriting, as he was an old man and could not write, but that it was written by his order and by him signed B. W., and given by him to Dr. Chauncey, who enclosed it to Mr. Rogers, who delivered it to him (Thomas Smith) who put it into the hands of Parker, who printed it in his paper.

Mr. Rogers being next visited, and affording some needed refreshment in the enquiry by behaving "with great openness and candour," readily gave Mr. Seabury a sight of Dr. Chauncey's letter to him, from which it appeared "that the letter signed B. W. was written by an inhabitant of the town of Boston; an Episcopalian by principle and education, and for several years past a member of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel." The letter did not further identify B. W., nor had Dr. Chauncey mentioned the name of the writer to Mr. Rogers, who declared that he did not know and never had heard who he was.

The range of inquiry was now, however, becoming more limited. Mr. Parker had described the writer as "a gentleman of figure in Boston" and a member of the Society. The writer, dating from Boston, had described himself as a member of the Society; and Dr. Chauncey's letter to Mr. Rogers described him as an inhabitant of Boston and a member of the Society. Mr. Attorney Smith, claiming that the writer was Benning Wentworth, said that though Mr. Wentworth did not live in Boston, he was in Boston when the letter was written by his order, and signed B. W. by him: and Mr. Wentworth having been eliminated from the possibilities by his explicit disclaimer of the letter, it only remained to ascertain whether the other members of the Society in the capacity of gentlemen of figure in Boston, would take the same ground. Of these there were six, Governor Bernard of Massachusetts being one. To all of these application was duly made, and by them all except one a disavowal was made equally explicit with that of Governor Wentworth.

This, however, was a development later than the publication of Mr. Seabury's letter of December 19th, 26th, 1768, above cited, at which time he had no other knowledge as to the authorship of the letter than that it did not belong to Governor Wentworth. He, therefore, called upon Dr. Chauncey, who had caused it to be published, either to produce the name of the author from whom he received it, or else to be himself held responsible for it. Who B. W. is, he says, he knows not; but referring to the letter so signed he observes:

"The author has declared himself a member of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel; and Dr. Chauncey says (if I remember right) in his letter to Mr. Rogers, "that he is an inhabitant of the town of Boston." I have carefully examined the list of the Society's members for the year 1767. I can find only four members who reside in Boston, viz. His Excellency Francis Bernard, James Apthorp, Hugh Hall, and John Temple Esqrs. To all these gentlemen I am personally unknown. I am utterly at a loss to conceive that I have ever given occasion to them to treat me in so injurious and cruel a manner, as I find myself treated in that letter. I cannot therefore suppose, that any one of these gentlemen was the author of it. It remains then with Dr. Chauncey to produce his author or to take the letter, with all its fraud, forgery, villainy, scandal, falsehood, and baseness upon himself. To you therefore, most venerable Doctor, I now beg leave to address myself."

Under date of January 30, 1769, Mr. Thomas Brown, a resident of Boston who describes himself as "an Episcopalian by principle and practice and a member of Christ Church in this town," writes to Mr. Seabury referring to his letter which he had accidentally seen in a New York paper, and expressing his displeasure at the method used in the defence of Dr. Chauncey. "From many circumstances," he says, "attending this affair according to your representation, I was led to think it would be impracticable for the Doctor to vindicate his conduct to the satisfaction of any unprejudiced man; and as the York papers are read but by few people here, imagined I should in some measure serve the cause of truth and Episcopacy by endeavouring to get your letter reprinted here. I ... accordingly . . . got your letter inserted in Edes and Gills' Liberty Paper; and in the same paper of this day the Doctor has vouchsafed to reply: though I must say no ways satisfactory to me. . . . The piece signed B. which attends the Doctor's performance, I can pretty well assure you is fictitious."

Dr. Chauncey's letter, including a note to Edes and Gill, and a reprint of the letter of "Independent;" and accompanied by a letter purporting to come from the author of the B. W. Letter which is referred to by Mr. Brown as signed B., admits that he had dated and addressed the letter attacking Mr. Seabury, and that he had affixed the letters B. W. by way of signature; but claims that these actions were quite within his rights, and were devoid of improper motive. "Of what significancy is it," he says, "who directed, or who dated that paper? Is there the least connection between "villainously forging" a paper, and giving date and direction to it after it had been wrote? Did you see, Sir, any mark of a different hand in the paper itself, or any sign of adulteration? You don't pretend that you did; nor indeed could you: for it was transmitted by me. as put into my hands, without the addition, or alteration, of a single word, letter or so much as point. The plain truth is that paper had originally neither direction, or date. But as it was given in vindication of my character, which had been attacked at New York, I tho't it quite needless, when I had determined to send it there to be printed, to put myself to the trouble of going to the author to give it date and direction. I therefore did it myself. And any one else might have done it, without doing any harm. Most certainly it could have hurt nobody, unless the Author of it, and when he complains of being injured, I will give him all the satisfaction he desires."

So much with regard to the heading of the letter, the peculiarity of which, by the way, seems only to have been noted by the object of attack as an unusual circumstance suggesting the need of a close scrutiny of the whole matter; and then the Doctor refers to the statements that Parker had named Ben-ning Wentworth as the author of the B. W. letter and offered to prove that he was so; and that Wentworth had asserted that "the contents of that letter and every clause therein was a villainous piece of forgery:" "and," continues the Doctor, "well he might as fathered upon him. But what relation has all this to me? Did I ever say, or so much as distantly insinuate to Mr. Parker, or to any other person at New York, that the late G. Wentworth was the author of the paper signed B. W.? The Rev. Mr. Rodgers is the only person at New York I ever wrote to; and the only letter I ever wrote to him, relative to this affair, is that which you saw. Was it there said that this honourable gentleman, or any other, pointing him out by name, was the author of the paper that occasioned such an outcry? Nay, have you not told the public yourself, "that Mr. Rodgers declared to you, that he did not know and had never heard, who wrote the letter signed B. W.? How indeed should he as I had concealed the person's name from him? The exact honest truth is this;--The paper in contest was put naked into my hands. And I wrote the signature, as well as the direction to the printer; but for no other reason, than that it might appear as other printed papers do. Had the author been at hand, I might have desired him to do it; though I know not that I should, as it was a matter of no importance at all who did it, nothing more being intended than to signify an unknown writer. I had no view in the choice of the letters B. W. but to avoid the name of a real author. I never once reflected whose name the letters could be applied to. And as to the honourable person mentioned to you at New York, I did not then know he was a member of the Society for propagating the Gospel, nor do I know it now but by your information; and I can uprightly say, he never once came into my mind, till forced in by hearing that the late Governor Wentworth had been wrote to upon this matter. 'Tis to me quite strange that you, or any one else, should imagine, that the real author of the Paper signed B. W. was intended to be marked out by these letters. Had this been the manner at New York in the long controversy that has been carrying on there? Was this the manner of the Paper B. W. replied to? Did not that writer assume a feigned character, however awkwardly he appeared in it After all, if you were really led by anything that was said or done, by Mr. Parker, or any other person, to suppose that the late Governor Wentworth was designed by the letters B. W. I am no more accountable for it than you are, nor had any more hand in it, unless accidentally by making use of initial letters, which though applicable to his name, I never once tho't of, and no one had a right to apply to him, or any particular person whatever."

That is to say, Dr. Chauncey admits the fact that he had signed the letter with the initials of a man not only well known but of public reputation, and pleads that he had no intention of leaving it to be inferred that those initials designated the name of that man as the author; although by one with no other knowledge of the Doctor's intentions than had appeared from his acts, it might naturally be inferred, and certainly had been inferred, that B. W. stood and was meant to stand there for Benning Wentworth. So ingenuous an attitude it pains one to question; and I, for my part, have no intention to question it. But as one of that "impartial public," to whom the writers of that day were so fond of appealing, and in whose infallibility they seem to have reposed such utter confidence, I venture to remark that in weighing testimony there are sometimes to be considered circumstances which affect the credibility of a witness in a particular piece of evidence, whatever may be his general reputation for veracity: and if this attack upon Mr. Seabury, which had been so wantonly introduced into a defence of Dr. Chauncey, were, as there is some reason to suspect, concocted in the counsels of partisan objectors to the Episcopate, there would be an obvious reason for leaving it to be inferred that the attack came from a source supposed to be favourable to Episcopacy, and not connected with the company who opposed it. "I am very suspicious," says Mr. Brown, the writer from Boston above referred to, under date of March 20, 1769, "that a knot of the Dissenting Clergy in this town were well acquainted with the B. W. letter before it was sent to New York, and am pretty confident, great pains will be taken in order to prevent a full discovery;" and it was consistent with the desire to prevent such discovery that the act, with its inevitable inference, should now be palliated on the plea of a chance selection of initials made with no intention to suggest such inference.

And it is fair also to ask how far we are called upon to accept the plea of absence of intention when we find it advanced not only by Dr. Chauncey but also by his associate and champion. This man has the effrontery to say, and that in a very supercilious manner, that he had not said that Mr. S--b--y was the author of the letter of "Independent," but only that he supposed he was; and he adds, "I here declare, that I had not the most distant thought or design to hurt Mr. S--b--y's character." This plea of absence of intent is made in the letter above referred to as appearing with Dr. Chauncey's, over the signature of B., and purporting to be by the author of the B. W. letter: and it would seem to indicate an idea of intention which is not entirely conventional in the present day. To stigmatize a man as a suppresser of truth, and as an over zealous, rude, malevolent, impertinent and troublesome fellow, and yet say there was no design to injure his character, is to use words in what, if the writer had lived a century or so later, he might perhaps have realized to be a Pickwickian sense.

But with regard to the validity of Dr. Chauncey's excuse for his actual use of Mr. Wentworth's initials, the reader, as another member of the great impartial public, will of course decide for himself on his own judgment whether to believe him fully in this particular instance, or to accept his statement with some allowances. As a biographer, however, I am bound to say that Mr. Seabury seems neither to have believed him, nor to have made any allowances for him.

In his reply, printed in Mr. Gaine's New York Gazette of February 20, 1769, Mr. Seabury refers to this point; but before he does so, he denies that Dr. Chauncey's plea is an answer to him, and avers that he avoids the real issue by defending himself from a charge not made against him.

"And is it then true, Doctor, that you did write the direction, and put the signature to the B. W. letter? This is confessing more than I charged you with. From some particular circumstances, I suspected fraud and forgery in the case; but I never charged you with either: Read over carefully the Papers that I wrote, and you will not find such a charge brought against you. The charge against you is contained in the last paragraph, and is that you had been at the pains of sending an anonymous--I may add false and scandalous letter, 250 miles from Boston to New York; that you had directed it to be printed in a common newspaper, that it might circulate far and wide, in order to injure my character--a man utterly unknown to you, who never did, nor intended to do you any injury. This is the charge brought against you;--a charge, to which in your letter you make no manner of reply, but fall to exculpating yourself from an accusation that I never brought against you. Is this fair, Doctor?--In my apprehension, 'tis foul, 'tis basely foul; but how it has happened I know not. Did you not intend to draw the attention of your readers, from the merits of the cause, and to excite their indignation against me, for having accused you of forgery upon groundless suspicion? If you did not, produce the passage in which you are charged with forgery; I challenge you to do it. ... I did say, that it remained with Doctor Chauncey to produce his author, or to take the letter, with all its fraud, forgery, villainy, scandal, falsehood and baseness, upon himself. This you call effrontery; your humble servant, Doctor Modesty! But is it not the common sense of mankind, that when a scandalous report is traced, 'till it comes to a person who cannot ... or will not name his author, that he is to be looked upon as the author, and becomes accountable for the consequences? . . . Besides, Doctor, you put the signature to the letter: though you did not write your name, you made your mark; it matters not who draws the instrument, the signer being bound to defend and make good the contents.

You confess that you wrote the direction, and signed B. W. to the letter. The immodest paper, it seems, was "put naked into your hands," and you did not choose to send the shameful thing a journey of 250 miles, to make its appearance among strangers, 'till it was properly cloathed, "that it might appear as other printed papers do." Pray, Doctor, did you never see a printed paper without either direction or signature? Are there none such printed in Boston? Or do you read nothing--except the Fathers--but what is printed at Boston?

Indulge me, Doctor, in one supposition, and remember it is only a supposition; I affirm nothing--Suppose that you was a missionary from the Scotch Society for propagating the Gospel; and there was a gentleman in New York who was a member of the same Society; and that this gentleman should put a naked paper in my hands, importing that some thirty or more years ago, Doctor Ch--nc--y "very decently for a clergyman" preached a sermon, in which he attempted to prove, that prevarication or lying in a good cause where the Glory of God was concerned, was allowable, &c. and that I should suffix to it the initial letters of the name of a late Governor of some neighbouring Province, whom I am also to suppose a member of the same Society; and that I should direct and send it to the Printer of a common newspaper in Boston; and that the Printer should introduce it with informing the Public, that he received a letter from a gentleman of figure in New York, who was a member of the Scotch Society, &c, that he had the original in his hands, and was ready to show it to any person that desired satisfaction on that head. And suppose you should apply to the Printer, and he should tell you that the letter was written by the late Governor ------; but upon Governor ------'s being applied to, he should declare it a villainous forgery. And then upon tracing the letter, you should find that it came from me, and that I should refuse to name my author:--would you not think that I was accountable for all the fraud, forgery, villainy, scandal, falsehood and baseness in it? Let conscience answer; and conscience, even your conscience, Doctor, will determine in my favour. Such conduct is, beyond all dispute, villainous and base: and such has been your conduct to me.

Remember, Doctor, the above is all supposition; and the particular instance of preaching, I fixed upon possibly, by the same kind of chance that directed you to the two letters B, W---But, by your leave, Sir, I must examine this same B. W. chance work.

You say you had no view in the choice of the letters B. W. but to avoid the name of the real author . . . Consider, kind reader, that twenty-six letters of the Alphabet may be so differently taken, two at a time, that there are many hundred chances against Dr. Chauncey, that chance did not lead him to fix upon B. W.--The celebrated Mr. Edwards says, that the mind, even in the most whimsical choices, is governed by motives. But I am utterly at a loss, Doctor, to conceive what motive could induce you to fix, in the first place upon B. the second letter in the alphabet, and then to reprobate twenty letters, in order to come at W. unless it was that these two letters were the initials of the name of Benning Wcntworth, Eqr. . . .--it is all, it seems, a mistake of mine. There were no circumstances to lead any one to suppose that B. W. were intended for the initials of Mr. Wentworth's name, even after the letter writer had declared himself a member of the Society, and no other name on the Society's list of members had B. W. for its initials: even after Messrs. Parker, and Smith, had declared that Mr. Wentworth was the author,-- though I must do Mr. Smith the justice to say, that he, within ten minutes, denied that he had ever said so. Nay, to you it is quite strange, that I, or any one else, should--be so stupid as to--imagine that the real author of the paper signed B. W. "was intended to be marked out by these letters; altho' Mr. Parker had declared, and in print too, that he, the Printer, had received the said paper, which he called a letter from a gentleman of figure--and a queer figure he makes--in Boston; a member of the Society, &c, and that he, the Printer, had the original in his hands, ready to be shown to any person who was desirous of satisfaction on that head; when behold this same original letter, proves to be originally a paper put naked into your hands, and by you ornamented with a direction at the top--To James Parker--with the superlatively honourable distinction of Printer of the American Whig in capitals; and guarded in the rear, by the initials of the name of the late Governor Wentworth.

But how could you design B. W. for Benning Wentworth, when you did not know that he was a member of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel?--And have you, Doctor, with the critical eye of censure, been so many years examining the Society's Abstracts, in which a list of their members is annually published, and never seen Mr. Wentworth's name? Never heard him mentioned as a member? Tis Strange! 'Tis Wondrous strange! especially seeing that he hath been so remarkably active and disinterested in promoting the cause of true religion, and of the Church of England in America.

Let me now, Doctor, in a few words, state the matter between us.--You confess that you wrote the direction and signature to this same B. W. paper; and that you sent it to New York, and had it printed. In that paper, I am as particularly pointed out, as tho' a letter of my name had not been omitted; and am described as a "troublesome person," of a "malevolent spirit,"--and as having "impertinently disturbed the quiet of this Country for some time past," &c. I have traced the scandalous performance, till it comes to you; you refuse to name your author; and ask, What imaginable right I have to demand the knowledge of the author of that paper; or to suspend the honour of your character upon a compliance with that demand? ... To demand this, you say, is "to invert the order of Reason and Nature." Yours, Doctor, must be a very queer Reason, and a very perverse Nature, to suppose that an injured, abused person, has no right to call upon the man who has done him the injury; but that he ought, on the contrary, to make him open and public satisfaction, for being openly and publicly abused by him."

I am not aware that Dr. Chauncey replied to the letter from which these extracts have been made.

So far as appears from the letter, Mr. Seabury had at the time of its date come to no certain conclusion as to the name of the B. W. writer, except that it was not Benning Wentworth. Efforts, however, as already observed, were made to solve this mystery by procuring from each of the Boston members an answer to the question whether the letter had been written by him. But I find nothing to indicate that Mr. Seabury was aware of the answers respectively returned to the question when he wrote his last letter to Dr. Chauncey. A letter giving information on the subject was addressed to him by his Boston correspondent, Mr. Brown; but this was dated March 20, 1769, and was not received till April 1st. It is interesting to observe, in passing, that this letter, directed "To the Revd Samuel Seabury In Westchester," is marked with the written words "Paid 3, 8," and is stamped with the words "Boston (S),"--being the earliest instance of the stamp mark that I have met with in mailed letters. On the under side of this letter as folded is the stamp {^y, probably indicating the date of arrival in New York; and above that, in Mr. Seabury's handwriting, "N. B. paid 2d for this Reed Ap. 1." It will appear presently that Mr. Seabury was writing on or about Feb. 13, to the Boston members aforesaid; but nothing shows that he had received answers before the date of his letter to Dr. Chauncey; and, judging from the length of time which elapsed before he received Mr. Brown's letter, that is eleven or twelve days, he could hardly have received answers from Boston to his letter of February 13th, before he wrote his letter to Dr. Chauncey, which is dated February 17th, and appears in print February 20th. The point is perhaps curious rather than important, since his own knowledge as to this, if he had any, would not make Dr. Chauncey less responsible for his agency in the matter; but the tone of his letter to Dr. Chauncey plainly indicates his want of knowledge of the real author; which is made the more probable by the consideration that if he had then had the information received later from Mr. Brown, he would have been extremely likely to write to some one else.

Mr. Brown says, March 20th, "I don't know but the paper I have mentioned, has been, or will be transmitted to you: however it may possibly miscarry, therefore think it not amiss to acquaint you with its contents, of which the following is an exact copy that I took before I divested myself of the original.

"Whereas a letter dated Boston August ye 5th 1768, and signed B. W. was printed in Mr. Parker's New York Gazette or Weekly Post Boy the 29th of the said month of August and since in other Papers, containing besides other matters many injurious reflections on the Reverend Mr. S-b-r-y, &c.; in which letter the writer affirms himself to be a member of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts; and it has been asserted that the said letter was delivered by a member of the said Society, at Boston, to the gentleman who is said to have transmitted the same to New York to be published there. We whose names are hereunto subscribed being members of the said Society residing at Boston do declare (each speaking for himself and his own acts only) that he did not write, dictate, publish or deliver to be published the said letter, nor were any wise concerned in or privy to the same, nor had any knowledge of the said letter until after it was printed in the New York Gazette as aforesaid. Witness our hands at Boston the 30th day of January 1769. Fra. Bernard Jno. Apthorp

Jas. Apthorp Josh. Harrison. H. Hall."

The statement with which Mr. Brown prefaces this copy, and explains how the original came to be in his hands, accounts for the blank space among the signatures, and is otherwise interesting.

"Not many days after your first letter appeared in the Boston Gazette, a gentleman put a paper into my hand, and desired me to present it to the Honble John Temple, Esqr., that he might sign it. Upon looking at it I found that all the members of the Society residing in Boston had signed it, save the gent, above named. I must say at first thought he was the last person I should have suspected of having any concern in this matter: but some people surmised, that from his connection by marriage, the probability was greater against him than either of the others. I had heard of this suspicion, yet could not bring myself to think he would have refused to sign with the rest. I readily waited upon him the same day that the paper was given me, and presented it to him: but how great was my astonishment and surprise at his looks and behaviour after perusing it. It would be needless for me to recapitulate what passed between us: therefore only add, that I treated him with as much complaisance as I could: he returned me the paper and declared he would not sign it, nor have any concern with it, and I left him without receiving any reasons from him for his refusing to sign it."

With one more letter, a copy of which in Mr. Seabury's handwriting has been preserved among his papers, I may close an account which has covered more pages than I vainly supposed I could compress it into when I began, but which I have been unwilling to leave incomplete, nor without enabling the reader to form some conclusion as to the real authorship of the B. W. letter--as to which I presume he can have no doubt in view of the evidence presented.

"W Chester March 28. 1769


On the 13th Feby, I took the liberty of addressing a letter to you, requesting that you would inform me, whether you wrote the letter signed B. W. and published in New York by Doer. Chauncey's order. That gentleman's affirming the above mentioned letter to have been written by a member of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, and an inhabitant of Boston, made it necessary for me to apply to the members in Boston, and to you among the rest. The other gentlemen to whom I wrote on that occasion have honoured me with their answers, in which they deny that they had any knowledge of the letter signed B. W. till it appeared in print. I did not know that Mr. Harrison resided in Boston, and therefore did not write to him, but I have been informed that he has signed a declaration to the same purpose.

As I know of no other member in Boston, but yourself who has not readily testified his ignorance of the B. W. letter, till it appeared publicly, I am under the necessity of again applying myself to you, desiring that you would inform me as soon as conveniently you can whether you did write the letter signed B. W. which was printed in Parker's New York Gazette. When you consider the many arts that have been used to ruin the credit of the Society's Missionaries in general, and the unprovoked undeserved treatment which I in particular met with in the letter signed B. W. you will certainly think me right, in using all lawful and reasonable means to discover the author of that iniquitous attack upon my character.

Your answer will particularly oblige Your very humbl Serv't

S. Seabury. To John Temple Esqr Boston."

If any answer was received to this, extremely polite but, under the circumstances, perhaps not entirely agreeable, epistle, I have never heard of it.

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