IT is one of the inconveniences of writing under an assumed name, that in course of time it often becomes impossible to determine the authorship of matter produced. The fashion of thus writing has been largely followed, and in the period with which we are concerned was extensively prevalent; and of course it is a fashion which sometimes has great advantages. Besides the consideration of prudence, which in times of unusual public excitement is important, there is something in the very impersonality of a writer which gives him a certain additional influence. To nothing else, very often, can one attribute the unquestioning acceptance of Editorial matter in the overflowing current of newspapers and magazines which he encounters in his daily life. Certainly such matter in most cases derives its influence not so much from its intrinsic merit, as from its awe inspiring association with a power which because it is invisible is assumed to possess pretty much all the other attributes of Deity: insomuch that the average man finds it much easier to question the authority of his Bible, than to doubt the infallibility of the Editor of his daily paper. The fact is that the moment a man speaks in his own name, he loses all claim to influence other than that which comes from the weight of his own merit--and most of us, unhappily, hardly find that a sufficient dependence.
Whether such a consciousness suffused the mind of that multiform personality, Timothy Tickle Esqr., who has been mentioned in the foregoing pages, one cannot determine. In fact the association of various writers under that name did give to their various productions a sort of Editorial sanction which comported well with the title of the periodical called "A Whip for the American Whig," designed to correct the errors of the paper so named, which also was itself energized by a combination of unknown writers. These papers were, on both sides, as has been before remarked, contributed to certain Journals of the day, and though a reference to the files of those Journals might reveal the sentiments of the contributors during the period covered by them there would be nothing to determine their personal authorship; so that as to all this phase of the political experience of the New Brunswick Missionary and the Jamaica or West Chester Rector there seems to be nothing to identify him with any particular paper, whether before or after the birth of the "Whip for the American Whig." Probably, even were the case otherwise, it would hardly be worth while to give to these papers any particular consideration; since notwithstanding the interest which they were doubtless capable of inspiring at the time, it is natural to suppose that they related chiefly to anticipations of the probable effects of measures, so long since abandoned or accomplished that it is matter of very little moment what men felt in the apprehension of them.
With regard to the Farmer pamphlets the case seems to be somewhat different; partly because they were more deliberate and studied productions; and partly because they are devoted to a considerable extent to the discussion rather of principles than of mere measures. And the fact that they aroused so very much interest as they did at the time, and as they have ever since inspired among those who have known something of their history, if not of their contents, seems to make some account of them not only desirable but necessary in the present undertaking.
The first of these pamphlets, entitled "Free thoughts on the Proceedings of the continental Congress, held at Philadelphia, Sept. 5. 1774," and printed in that year, is marked on the title page as "By a Farmer." The other two, viz. "The Congress Canvassed, or an Examination into the conduct of the Delegates at their Grand Convention, held in Philadelphia, Sept. r. 1774, Addressed to the Merchants of New York," and "A View of the controversy between Great Britain and her colonies," were marked as "By A. W. Farmer." The nom de plume of a Farmer is said to have been used by Mr. Dickinson, perhaps it was by others; and possibly the subsequent thought of this may have induced the writer of the present series to make his signature in the second and third papers more specific than that of the first, and to add the initial W-- indicating West Chester, so as to distinguish his papers from those of others. At any rate the difference exists.
The first of these pamphlets, the "Free thoughts," elicited a reply entitled "A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress," and signed, "A Friend to America," by the then youthful collegian, Alexander Hamilton; which the Farmer appears to have seen after he had finished his second pamphlet "The Congress Canvassed" but before it was issued; as he adds to it a note, dated December 16, 1774, saying that he has seen the "Full Vindication" by "A Friend to America," in answer to the "Free Thoughts," and that if its author has any teeth left he may find here another file at his service, and promising a reply to his answer within ten days; a promise fulfilled with somewhat more than punctuality by the appearance of the third pamphlet, "A View of the controversy," dated December 24, 1774. To this Hamilton rejoined in a pamphlet entitled the Farmer refuted, marked as of 1775, but with no more specific date, which closed the series. Between January and April of 1775, the Farmer appears to have been busily engaged in the effort to influence the action of the Colonial Assembly of New York which in that period was holding its last session; and after the resort to arms in the battle of Lexington the war of pamphlets was no longer to any purpose. Had it even been so, the popular rage against the Farmer prevented his regular residence at home during the summer of that year, and in the following November he was kidnapped by Sears, who also sacked the printing house of Rivington, from which both sides of the series had been issued: and thus (in very literal sense so far as type was concerned), destroyed the fount of the controversy.
These pamphlets of the Farmer comprise together nearly one hundred closely printed octavo pages; and the pamphlets of Hamilton on the other side, about as many more. It would be difficult to give a just idea of the controversy without reprinting them, which would be too much of a digression; and any really satisfactory analysis of them would be tedious as well as digressive, since they range over pretty much all the matters in dispute between the Mother Country and the Colonies; and our object is not so much to enlarge upon that dispute, as it is to show how the Farmer stood towards it; and, as illustrative of his personal qualities, to show how he handled it in this instance. For this purpose the following extracts from his statements may suffice:
In the "Free Thoughts," he says (p. 4):
"My first business shall be to point out to you some of the consequences that will probably follow from the Non-Importation, Non-Exportation, and non-consumption agreements which they have adopted, and which they have ordered to be enforced in the most arbitrary manner, and under the severest penalties."
This pamphlet has chiefly in view the practical questions thus indicated, which the Farmer argues at some length. The consequences of these measures, he says, may be discord, leading to mobs and riots in England, Ireland and the West Indies--at least the Congress intended this in some degree: "They intend to distress the manufacturers in Great Britain by depriving them of employment--to distress the inhabitants of Ireland by depriving them of flax seed and of a vent for their linens--to distress the West India people by withholding provisions and lumber from them, and by stopping the market for their produce. And they hope by these means to force them all to join their clamors with ours, to get the acts complained of repealed. This was the undoubted desire of the Congress when their agreements were framed, and this is the avowed design of their warm supporters and partisans in common conversation. But where is the justice, where is the policy of this procedure?" (p. 5).
And again (p. 7): "When a trading people carelessly neglect, or wilfully give up any branch of their trade, it is seldom in their power to recover it. Should the Irish turn their trade for flax seed to Quebec; and the West Indians get their flour, horses, etc., from thence, or other places; the loss to the farmers of this Province would be immense. The last non-importation scheme turned the Indian trade from New York down the river St. Lawrence; we are now repeating, with regard to our flour and flax seed, the same blunder we then committed with regard to the Indian trade. The consequence, however, will be much worse. The loss of the Indian trade was a loss to the merchants only; but the loss of the flax seed trade will be a loss to every farmer in the Province; and a loss which he will severely feel."
(p. 10) "But no argument is like matter of fact. You have had one trial of a non-importation agreement some years ago. Pray how did you like it? Were the prices of goods raised on you then? You know they were. What remedy had you? A good Christian remedy, indeed, but a hard one--patience--and patience only. The honor of the merchants gave you no relief--confound their honor--it obliged me--it obliged many of you, to take old motheaten cloths that had lain rotting in the shops for years, and to pay a monstrous price for them."
(p. I5) "But it is said that all legal processes are to be stopped, except in criminal cases--that is to say, the lower classes of people are to be deprived of their daily bread by being thrown out of employment by the non-exportation agreement; to prevent starving, many of them will be tempted to steal; if they steal they are to be hanged. The dishonest fellow, who owes money, may by refusing payment, ruin his creditor; but there is no remedy, no process is to be issued against him. This may be justice, but it looks so much like cruelty that a man of a humane heart would be more apt to call it by the latter than by the former name. But pray by whose authority are the courts of justice to be shut up in all civil cases? Who shall dare to stop the courts of justice?"
P. 16: "Rouse my friends, rouse from your stupid lethargy. Mark the men who shall dare to impede the courts of justice. Brand them as the infamous betrayers of the rights of their country. The grand security of the property, the liberty, the lives of Englishmen consists in the due administration of justice. When the courts are duly attended to and fairly conducted, our property is safe. As soon as they are shut, everything is precarious; for neither property nor liberty have any foundation to stand upon. Tell me not of Delegates, Congresses, Committees, Riots, Mobs, Insurrec-t'ons, Associations--a plague on them all. Give me the steady, uniform, unbiassed influence of the courts of justice. I have been happy under their protection, and I trust in God I shall be so again."
P. 17: "Let us now attend a little to the non-consumption agreement, which the Congress in their association, have imposed upon us. After the first of March we are not to purchase or use any East India tea whatsoever; nor any goods, wares, or merchandise from Great Britain or Ireland, imported after the first day of December next; nor any molasses, syrups, etc., from the British plantations in the West Indies, or from Dominica; nor wine from Madeira, or the Western Islands; nor foreign indigo. Will you submit to this slavish regulation? You must. Our sovereign lords and masters, the high and mighty Delegates, in Grand Continental Congress assembled, have ordered and directed it. They have directed the Committees in the respective Colonies to establish such further regulations as they may think proper, for carrying their association of which this non-consumption agreement is a part, into Execution. Mr. ------ of New York, under the authority of their high mightiness, the Delegates, by, and with the advice of his Privy Council, the Committee of New York, hath issued his mandate, bearing date November 7th 1774, recommending it to the freeholders and freemen to assemble on the 18th of November, to choose eight persons out of every ward to be a committee to carry the Association of the Congress into execution. The business of the Committee so chosen is to be, to inspect the conduct of the inhabitants, and see whether they violate the association. Among other things whether they drink any tea or wine in their families, after the first of March; or wear any British or Irish manufactures, or use any English molasses, etc.--If they do, their names are to be published in the Gazette, that they may be publicly known and universally contemned as foes to the Rights of British America and enemies of American liberty. And then the parties of the said Association will respectively break off all dealings with him or her. In plain English, they shall be considered as outlaws, unworthy of the protection of civil society, and delivered over to the vengeance of a lawless outrageous mob, to be tarred, feathered, hanged, drawn, quartered, and burnt. O rare American freedom! "
P. 18: "Will you be instrumental in bringing the most abject slavery upon yourselves? Will you choose such committees? Will you submit to them should they be chosen by the weak, foolish, turbulent part of the country people? Do as you please: but by Him that made me, I will not. No, if I must be enslaved, let it be by a King at least, and not by a parcel of upstart, lawless committee-men. If I must be devoured, let me be devoured by the jaws of a lion, and not gnawed to death by rats and vermin."
Dr. Beardsley is rather apologetic for this passage (as indeed he seems minded to be about the whole political position of his subject) marking it as "rather in the style of a violent partisan than of a discreet and godly Clergyman." [Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, p. 34.] But the passage, beside that it is not without rhetorical merit as a fair piece of invective, has a positive historical value in the evidence which it indirectly furnishes of the mode by which the public opinion of the day was being manufactured, and of the fact that usurped power never brooks the opposition of lawful right. And so far from the language of the Farmer being taken as evidence of partisanship, it ought rather to be taken as a manly assertion of the right to liberty conserved by law, which no citizen of the United States should be ashamed to echo.
"Did you choose your Supervisors," continues the Farmer (p. 18), "for the purpose of enslaving you? What right have they to fix up advertisements to call you together for a very different purpose from that for which they were elected? Are our Supervisors our masters? And should half a dozen foolish people meet together again in consequence of their advertisements, and choose themselves to be a committee, as they did in many districts in the affair of choosing Delegates, are we obliged to submit to such a Committee? You ought, my friends, to assert your own freedom. Should such another attempt be made upon you, assemble yourselves together; tell your Supervisor that he has exceeded his commission; that you will have no such committees; that you are Englishmen, and will maintain your rights and privileges, and will eat, drink, and wear whatever the public laws of your country permit, without asking leave of any illegal, tyrannical Congress or Committee on earth.
But, however, as I said before, do as you please; if you like it better, choose your committee, or suffer it to be chosen by half a dozen fools in your neighborhood--open your doors to them--let them examine your tea canisters and molasses jugs, and your wives' and daughters' petty-coats--bow and cringe, and tremble, and quake--fall down and worship our Sovereign Lord the Mob. But I repeat it, by H--n, I will not. No, my house is my castle; as such I will consider it, as such I will defend it, while I have breath. No king's officer shall enter it without my permission unless supported by a warrant from a magistrate. And shall my house be entered, and my mode of living inquired into by a domineering committee-man? Before I submit, I will die; live you, and be slaves."
The Farmer's antagonist, in prophetic sympathy with his biographer of the next century, is pained by his indulgence in "strong language:" and it is amusing to observe the Farmer's retort, in his "View of the controversy," etc. (p. 34):
"You give me a hint about swearing. I have profited by it, and intend never to swear more. I wish you would take a hint about fibbing. It is rather a meaner quality than that of rapping out a little now and then.
P. 33. Almost every paragraph contains half a dozen fibs. Let me try the first, as it is most handy. You say that you 'love to speak the truth,' one; that you 'scorn to prejudice the farmers in favor of what you have to say,' two; 'by taking upon you a fictitious character,' three; for you subscribe yourself a friend to America; that I am not in reality a 'farmer,' four; but 'some ministerial emissary,' five; 'that has assumed the name to deceive,' six; the very next words contain another; but I will stop, or I shall betray my inability to enumerate more than nine fingers."
P. 34: "Your next attempt is upon the imaginations of the farmers. You endeavor to fright them from obeying the Parliament, by representing to them the danger of having taxes laid upon their tables, and chairs, and platters, and dishes, and knives, and forks, and everything else--and "even every kiss their daughters received from their sweethearts," and that you say, would soon ruin them. No reflections, Sir, upon farmer's daughters; . . .
But I have a scheme worth all this table, and chair, and kiss taxing. I thought of it last night, and I have a violent inclination to write to Lord North about it by the very next packet. It pleases me hugely, and I think must please his Lordship, as it would infallibly enable him to pay the annual interest of the national debt, and I believe to sink principal and all in fourteen years. It is no more than a moderate tax of fourpence a hundred upon all the fibs, falsehoods, and misrepresentations of you and your party, in England and America."
But, more seriously, the greater part of the "Free Thoughts," as has been noted, consists of a consideration of the probable consequences of the measures of Congress, as to which there was certainly room for a fair difference of opinion; with briefer reference to the questions of principle at stake in the controversy. "The Congress Canvassed," addressed to the Merchants of New York; and the "View of the Controversy" addressed to the "Friend to America," who had answered the "Free thoughts," discuss, for the most part, questions of principle more fully, and are written on the whole in more careful style and with graver tone. But throughout them all the object is manifestly the defence of a Constitutional system, and not partisanship for the king, ministry, or even Parliament.
As to the question, for example, which has been already suggested, whether the Congress were truly representative of the people, or owed their apparently representative character in considerable measure to the skilful manipulation of overwhelming minorities, the Farmer observes in "The Congress Canvassed," (p. 8):
"Even in this province many undue and unfair advantages were taken.--You had no right to dictate to the counties in what manner they should proceed. You had no right to suppose that those districts or those people who did not assemble were in your favor. The contrary ought to have been supposed and you ought to have considered those people and districts who did not assemble as not choosing to have any Delegates in Congress at all. The people of your city can easily assemble; they have but a short walk to the City Hall or coffee-house. But is not so easy to assemble the people of a country district. Besides, it is well known by all those who know anything of human nature, that those people who are fond of innovations in government, and of rendering themselves conspicuous in their neighbourhood, would be most likely to assemble on such an occasion. And so it accordingly happened; for it is notorious that in some districts only three or four met and chose themselves to be a committee on this most important occasion. So that taking the whole Province together, I am confident your delegates had not the voice of an hundredth part of the people in their favor. You may say that the people might have assembled; and if they did not their silence was to be taken for their consent. Not so fast, gentlemen. That they might have assembled, I know, but had your committee, or their own Supervisors, any right to call them together? Were they under any obligations to obey such notifications as a Supervisor's advertisement founded on the authority of a New York Committee? You know they were not, and because they did not choose to obey it, must their rights and privileges be given up to be torn and mangled and trampled on by an enthusiastic Congress?"
And further, in anticipation of the argument that "the Delegates from several of the governments were appointed by their Assemblies; by the true and legal representatives of the people; and therefore were the true and legal Delegates of the people:"
(P. 10) "Nor is it clear to me that the Legislature of any province have a power of appointing Delegates to such a Congress as lately met at Philadelphia. I am certain no provincial legislature can give them such powers as were lately exercised at Philadelphia. The legislative authority of any province cannot extend further than the province extends. None of its acts are binding one inch beyond its limits. IIow then can it give authority to a few persons, to meet other persons, from other provinces, to make rules and laws for the whole continent?3 In such a case the Carolinas, Virginia,
3. Observe that the Fanner objects not to the right of representatives of one province to agree with representatives of other provinces upon measures which should have the force of law for all associated tn the common agreement--which is the Federal idea that later produced the United States Constitution: hut that his objection is to the right of any number of provincial representatives to agree together in the imposition of laws to be binding on such provinces as were not included in that agreement--which is quite a different proposition, Maryland, and the four New England States, might make laws to bind Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York; that is--they might make laws whose operation should extend further than the authority by which they were enacted--extended. Before such a mode of legislation can take place, the Constitution of our Colonies must be subverted, and their present independency on each other must be annihilated."
And then as to the catchword of the day, "No taxation without representation:"
(P. 18): "But what right had the Congress to give what did not belong to them? To give your money . . . without your consent? But I forget myself--they first proclaimed themselves your representatives, and then of course they had an undoubted, legal, constitutional right to all your substance. For you know, gentlemen, that representation and taxation go together. God and Nature hath joined them. But how, on this principle you can keep your money out of the harpy claws of the Congress, I cannot conceive. . . . I know not how you will help yourselves, unless you have prudence enough to recur to the first principles of government: And then you will find that legislation and taxation go together; and that no government ever yet had a being where they were divided."
The point here touched the Farmer refers to again in his reply to his adversary in the "View of the Controversy:"
(P. 10) "The position that we are bound by no laws to which we have not consented either by ourselves, or our representatives, is a novel position, unsupported by any authoritative record of the British Constitution, ancient or modern. It is republican in its very nature, and tends to the utter subversion of the English Monarchy.
This position has arisen from an artful change of terms. To say that an Englishman is not bound by any laws but those to which the representatives of the nation have given their consent, is to say what is true; but to say that an Englishman is bound by no laws but those to which he hath consented in person, or by his representatives, is saying what never was true, and never can be true. A great part of the people of England have no vote in the choice of representatives, and therefore are governed by laws to which they never consented either by themselves or by their representatives."
It is a curious commentary on the natural difficulty of seeing ourselves as others see us, and the common propensity to discover the entire rectitude in ourselves of some course which we have considered extremely wrong in others, that in the very fore front of the United States Constitution (Art. I. Sec. 2) the proviso was inserted excluding from the number of those who were in theory represented, two-fifths of a certain class of persons; while the whole of that class of persons (i. e., the slaves), and many other persons besides (i. e., all the women), were, in practice, obliged to obey laws to which they never assented either in person or by representatives of their own choice: and though the slaves be gone, and the women may by and by acquire the right to vote, there will still always be the alien who is governed without his own consent until he is naturalized--unless he be previously deported for objectionable sentiments, or excluded for the benefit of the labor market--and thus the position will remain true in this Country as in England, that many are governed without their consent, either personally or representatively: not to speak of the right of the States to prescribe the qualifications of electors,--whereby the tinge of a man's colour, or the inability of his grandfather to read, may arbitrarily reduce him to the position of being governed without being represented. And with reference to the application of his principle of legislation and taxation going together, instead of representation and taxation, the Farmer holds language, which states doctrine applied by the Government of the United States on exactly the same foundation of reason as that by which he justified the government of the Colonies by England. In the "View of the Controversy," he says:
(P. 9) "To suppose a part of the British dominions which is not subject to the power of the British Legislature, is no better sense than to suppose a country at one and the same time to be and not to be a part of the British dominions. If therefore the colony of New York be a part of the British dominions, the colony of New York is subject, and dependent on the supreme legislative authority of Great Britain. Legislation is not an inherent right in the Colonies. Many Colonies have been established and subsisted long without it. The Roman Colonies had no legislative authority. It was not till the later period of the Republic that the privileges of Roman citizens, among which that of voting in the assemblies of the people at Rome was a principal one, were extended to the inhabitants of Italy. All the laws of the Empire were enacted at Rome. Neither their colonies nor conquered countries had anything to do with legislation."
Compare Chancellor Kent (Comm., I., 384 n.):
"The Government of the United States, which can lawfully acquire territory by conquest or treaty, must, as an inevitable consequence, possess the power to govern it. The Territories must be under the dominion and jurisdiction of the Union, or be without any government; for the Territories do not, when acquired, become entitled to self-government, and they are not subject to the jurisdiction of any State. They fall under the power given to Congress by the Constitution."
And Chief Justice Marshall (quoted by Kent, p. 385) remarking upon the then distant prospect of the settlement of the country belonging to the United States west of the Rocky Mountains, says:
"It would be a long time before it would be populous enough to be created into one or more independent States; and in the meantime upon the doctrine taught by the acts of Congress, and even by the judicial decisions of the Supreme Court, the colonists would be in a state of the most complete subordination, and as dependent upon the will of Congress as the people of this country would have been upon the King and Parliament of Great Britain, if they could have sustained their claim to bind us in all cases whatsoever."
If we substitute the Union and Congress for the King and Parliament, we may easily suppose the Farmer to have been as good an American (at least in respect to the Hamiltonized aspects of the American system) as Hamilton himself was. In fact, if they were not both disposed to take much the same view of Government, in general, as in some respects it would appear that they were; they certainly (at that time), were chiefly dominated by the one ruling idea of the preservation of the integrity of the British Empire. They differed (very plentifully) as to methods to be adopted for the desired end, and as to the principles which those methods involved, but they seem at heart to have been agreed as to this idea; for Hamilton does not yet appear to regard separation as the necessary consequence of independence; and the Farmer points out the possibility of preserving the independent constitutional right of the self-government of the Colonies in matters pertaining to their own individual interests; while at the same time their rights and interests as a whole, in their interdependent relations with each other, might be under the care of the common government of Great Britain. In the "View of the Controversy," he says:
P. 21: "I imagine that if all internal taxation be vested in our own legislatures, and the right of regulating trade by duties, bounties, etc., be left in the power of Parliament, and also the right of enacting all general laws for the good of all the Colonies, . . . we shall have all the security for our rights, liberties, and property, which human policy can give us. The dependence of the Colonies on the Mother Country will be fixed on a firm foundation; the sovereign authority of Parliament over all the dominions of the empire will be established, and the Mother Country and all her colonies will be knit together in One Grand, Firm, and Compact Body."
The foregoing extracts from these pamphlets may, it is hoped, suffice to give the reader some idea of the views of the Farmer, and his mode of presenting them, as well as perhaps to suggest to him the important nature of this controversy at the time, and thus make more intelligible both the interest of the Farmer in it, and the intense animosity which he stirred up against himself by his expression of that interest.
In taking leave of the subject it seems to be proper that I should place on record a brief statement of the evidence that the Farmer and the subject of this Memoir were one and the same person; since that fact has been sometimes denied. The authorship has been in some quarters persistently attributed to others, and the effort has even been made to prove that he himself denied his own authorship.
It is not remarkable that papers, appearing in times of great public excitement, without the names of their proper authors, should be attributed to others than those authors. The famous letters of Junius, for example, were attributed to various persons: and the Farmer papers have had the same fate. By some they have been attributed to Wilkins; by some to Cooper; and certainly they were attributed to Seabury, as the experiences above recounted establish. But when it is said that such papers were attributed to one; and that they were not only attributed to another, but also shown by independent, competent and credible testimony to belong to another, there is no difficulty in determining between the two.
That A. W. Farmer was Dr. Seabury, appears in the first place from the family tradition, coming to me from my father, who had it from his father, who was the son of the Bishop: and, as part of that tradition, is to be considered the Bishop's statement in his own handwriting, handed down with reverence in the same line, and herein above printed. There is in addition to this the very distinct testimony of contemporaneous witnesses. That of Drs. Cooper and Chandler has been already cited; and in addition to their statements there are very specific words published in a work by the Revd. Jonathan Boucher, A. M., then Vicar of Epsom; to whom Dr. Chandler refers in a letter printed by Beardsley as "a loyal Clergyman from Maryland, the worthiest of the worthy, and one of the most confidential friends of Bishop Seabury." [Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, p. 178.] Mr. Boucher's Work here referred to is a collection of sermons, published in England, and entitled a "View of the Causes and consequences of the American Revolution." In a footnote to p. 556 of this volume, he thus gives his authority for a quotation: "See 'A View of the Controversy between Great Britain and Her Colonies, p. 25, by, by A. W. Farmer;' that is, by the late Bishop Seabury of Connecticut."
Referring to the pamphlet in the note here cited, Mr. Boucher continues:
"The fate of the excellent author of this well written piece, and several others of not inferior merit under the same signature, might well discourage any man who attempts to serve the public, if animated only by the hope of temporal rewards. When a Missionary in the service of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, while the revolt was still in its infancy, he wrote several seasonable pieces, adapted to the capacities of the people, under the assumed character of a Farmer. They were generally acknowledged to have done much good. But, being attributed to another gentleman, he alone derived any personal advantage from them; for to him the British Government granted an handsome pension, whilst the real author never received a farthing. All the return that all his exertions procured for him, was imprisonment, persecution and exile. By this country he was neglected and abandoned, and by that which gave him birth disowned; though a man of such transcendent abilities as would have been an ornament and a blessing to any country that had seen fit to patronize him."
The fact that the government in its wisdom (or stupidity) had rewarded the wrong man, had been for some time understood by those who knew the true author; and even Mr. Boucher himself seems, on a previous occasion, to have derived some amusement in the contemplation of the irony of the situation. Writing to Dr. Seabury, July 30, 1787, he alludes to the undeserving beneficiary in an enigmatical way, obscure to the reader now, but evidently assumed to be quite intelligible to his correspondent. The allusion is incidental, but the testimony is quite clear in its implication both as to the real author, and also as to the fraud which had been practiced against him. Taken, some day, in connection with some other reference, it may help to determine the identity of the fictitious claimant; but, even if not, the passage which contains it is interesting in itself, and also substantiates the statement already quoted from Boucher's book. It is as follows:
"Have you heard of the very extraordinary rumours that have lately been in circulation respecting White's famous sermons on Mahometanism, preached at the Bampton lecture? The story is curious. No sermons that have been lately published have been better received: even the Bp. of London's, and Blairs' were hardly more popular. The author has got very considerable preferment from the Abp. of Cant: and from the Chancellor, entirely, as is believed, on the score of these sermons. But, lo, it now turns out, that the mighty Professor was no more the real author of the sermons that have been given to the world under his name, than our late friend of Punnical memory, was the real A. W. Farmer. There was a Mr. Badcock, a man of considerable learning, who not long since came over to us from the Presbyterians. He is lately dead: and it is said to appear evident from his papers, found by his Exrs., that he actually wrote the sermons in question; for which he was to be paid £500. Did A. W. make so good a bargain? Sic vos non vobis &c: and Mahomet you see was not the only imposter."
As to the denial of Dr. Seabury's authorship by himself, the sole foundation for that tale is, that being charged during his imprisonment at New Haven with having "written pamphlets and newspapers against the liberties of America," he embodies in his Memorial to the Connecticut Assembly above referred to, a plea of "not guilty;" stating that he will be "ready to vindicate his innocence, as soon as he shall be restored to his liberty." A plea of not guilty to a charge which had been the principal reason of his arrest, and the admission of which would not unlikely have sacrificed his life to the violence of a mob, is hardly equivalent to the denial of his authorship. And as to his being "ready to vindicate his innocence," it should be remembered that the charge was that he had written against "the liberties of America," which he could by no means admit. That the plea was not intended, or understood by his captors, to deny the authorship, appears from his allusion to the matter in his letter to the Society of December 29, 1776, above quoted. These pamphlets, he says, "were attributed to me, and were the principal reason of my being carried into Connecticut the last year. If I would have disavowed these publications I should have been set at liberty in a few days; but as I refused to declare whether I were, or were not, the Author, they kept me;" while as to the nature of the attentions which he would have been likely to receive if he had avowed them, the letter gives us some idea.
And so, having discharged the duty of placing the evidence of this authorship plainly on record, we may leave these troublous times, and pass on to others--no less full of troubles indeed, but in the consideration of which the reader may have the advantage of finding the troubles to be of a somewhat different kind. Even trouble is sometimes lessened by variety: or, at least, one sometimes learns under one trouble to regret that he has lost the last.