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ence to riches is both dishonourable and dangerous to a government. It is indeed equally dangerous to promote a man to a place of public trust only because he wants bread, but I think it is not so dishonourable ; for men may be influenced to the latter from the feelings of humanity, but the other argues a base, degenerate, servile temper of mind. I hope our country will never see the time, when either riches or the want of them will be the leading considerations in the choice of public officers. Whenever riches shall be deemed a necessary qualification, ambition as well as avarice will prompt men most ardently to thirst for them, and it will be commonly said, as in ancient times of degeneracy,
Quærenda pecunia primum est,
“Get money, money still,
I am greatly honoured, if my late letter has been acceptable to the house. I hope the militia bill, to which that letter referred, is completed to the satisfaction of both houses of the assembly.
The account you give me of the success our people meet with in the manufacture of salt-petre is highly pleasing to me. I procured of a gentleman in the colony of New York, the plan of a powder mill, which I lately sent to Mr. Revere. I hope it may be of some use.
I have time at present only to request you to write to me by the post, and to assure you that I am Your affectionate friend,
SAMUEL ADAMS. Elbridge Gerry, Esq.
It would be desirable, if it were practicable, to catch a view of the private manners of men, who seemed in their public life to feel that a controlling and all powerful interest connected them with the political destiny of the country, and that their fate and the fate of posterity was dependant on the fidelity of their conduct.
Few memorials of their private history now remain ; their letters, at least those which are preserved, related chiefly to public affairs. Some facts however come to us by tradition, and some insight may be gained by a knowledge of individual members.
There was at Watertown as in all public assemblies a great variety of character. The puritan party was strongly represented. There were many who had a holy horrour of all the amusements of a profane world, and believed or affected to believe, that the sins of the country had brought upon it the awful visitations, under which it was suffering. They were desirous of placing themselves in strong contrast with the more free conduct of the tories and British officers. These latter were enacting, in Faneuil Hall, a “profane play,” profane only because all theatrical entertainments were so considered, on the evening previous to the battle of Bunker Hill. It was subject of astonishment and grief too among many of the members at Watertown, that men who held their lives in their hands, should pass with unthinking levity from the play house to the field, and thence - unanointed, unannealed” to their great account.
The community did not follow out all the rigid sentiments of this party. While on many minds the existing condition of affairs was a very powerful and operating cause for religious seriousness, there was generated, in the unsettled state of things, motives and allurements for some relaxation of moral habits. Such however was the strong moral sentiment, which supplied the place of judicial authority now entirely prostrate, that great crimes were wholly unknown, and the smaller of unfrequent occurrence.
Among the members of the provincial congress, suspicion of levity in matters of religion, and every thing was then supposed to have some connexion with this subject, would have been fatal to an individual's influence. There were however many members in that assembly who had been accustomed to the elegancies and refinement of polished society. The king's government in Massachusetts had not indeed been able to borrow the splendour of a court, but it had in some degree copied its etiquette and politeness, and possibly its less defensible manners. Distinctions existed in society not precisely consistent with republican equality, and a style of address and deportment distinguished those who considered themselves in the upper circle, which was visible long after the revolution had swept away all other relics of the royal government.
This early habit induced some of the patriots at Watertown to indulge in a little more regard to dress than suited the economy of the stricter puritans, in a love for better horses, in a social party at dinner, or evening, in an attendance on balls and dancing parties, and in a fondness for female society of respectability and reputation.
It is not believed that what at this period would be considered dissipation either fashionable or vulgar, was chargeable on any of the members of the provincial congress, but there were young men among their most confidential leaders who incurred the reproof of their stricter brethren by not sufficiently marking a contrast between the monarchical and patriotic party.
Most men have their besetting sins. It might have been in vain that the necessity of reasonable relaxation was pleaded as an excuse for supposed frivolity. The examples of eminent men, their friends too, on the other side the Atlantic would have been urged as an excuse equally ineffectual, when ample retaliation was taken by the offending members in finding some of the sternest of the irritated moralists drinking tea, and endeavouring to disguise this high crime and misdemeanour by having it made in a coffee pot! This indulgence of taste at the expense of patriotism, this worse than bacchanalian intemperance prevented for a time any remarks on the “ court imitations” of the backsliding brethren.
The members of the provincial congress lived in the families of the inhabitants of Watertown, and held their daily sessions in the meeting house on the plain. The congress opened early and adjourned for an hour to give the members time to dine at one o'clock. Two sessions were usually held every day, and committees were often engaged till midnight. The time, which could be caught from such fatiguing duty without neglecting it, might well be devoted to rational diversion.
A gentleman, who paid any attention to his toilet, would have his hair combed out, as is represented in our frontispiece, powdered and tied in a long queue, a plated white stock, a shirt ruffled at the bosom and over the hands, and fastened at the wrist with gold sleeve buttons, a peach bloom coat and white buttons, lined with white silk, and standing off at the skirts with buckram, a figured silk vest divided at the bottom, so that the pockets extended on the thighs, black silk small clothes with large gold or silver knee buckles, white cotton or