Maryland Gazette, (Green), Annapolis, August 20, 1767.
TO THE PRINTER OF THE MARYLAND
I LITTLE expected that the innocent Caution, given in the GAZETTE, No. 1139, to the Inhabitants of this Province, against the fatal Consequence of admitting the JAIL-FEVER into their Families, inforc'd by a late notorious Instance of its dreadful Malignity, would have drawn upon me the Resentment of any Man in the Country.---Yet, such is my unhappy Fate! I have exposed myself to the keen Animadversions of Mr. A.B. who has not only exerted the Poignancy of his Wit to ridicule my Fears, but gone a little out of his Way to prove the Utility of importing Six Hundred Convicts a Year into this Province. This brings to my Mind an Observation of Hobbes's, That the Axioms of Euclid would be contested by some, provided they stood in the Way of their Interests; and of another great Philosopher, who alledges That there is a certain Race of Men of so selfish a Cast, that they would even set a Neighbour's House on Fire, for the Convenience of roasting an Egg at the Blaze. That these are not Reveries of fanciful Speculatists, the Author now under Consideration is in great Measure a Proof; for who, but a Man sway'd by the most sordid Selfishness, would endeavour to disarm the People of all Caution against such imminent Danger, lest their just Apprehensions should interfere with his little Schemes of Profit? And who but such a Man would appear publickly as an Advocate for the Importation of Felons, the Scourings of Jails, and thus abandoned Outcasts of the British Nation, as a Mode in any Sort eligible for the peopling a young Country?
I READILY agree with the Author, that in Matters of an interesting Nature, Facts alledg'd should be true, and all unnecessary Reflections on Individuals avoided. This Insinuation he seems to aim at the Number of Persons mentioned in my Paper to have died in Mrs. BLAKE's Family, and at the Caution I gave to obviate the Evasions of interested Men to defeat the salutary Purposes of our Quarantine Law. It is no easy Matter to come exactly at the Truth of Facts of this Nature, where the Scene has lain at a considerable Distance; and, if the Number I mentioned, upon the Credit of confident Report, is chargeable with Aggravation, he must impute it to the People's great "Anxiousness to preserve their Health, that their Fears are so apt to multiply, and so many false Reports are spread about the Country, respecting contagious Distempers," and not any wilful Misrepresentation in me. How many fewer might have died, had the learned Mr. A.B. been consulted, and his Method of Cure happily fallen upon, I leave to be discussed by the Physician who attended the Family, as well as the Reflections he has thought fit, with great Indecency, to cast upon that Gentleman's Character.---But, let the Fact be taken upon the Author's own Admission, who, I dare say, does not exaggerate the Number, and we find Seventeen at least died out of this Family. Where, then, upon this Supposition, could be the Impropriety of warning the People against this fatal Malady? Are Seventeen, in one Family, so inconsiderable a Number to be taken off by a Distemper, as to give no just Alarm to our Fears, and make all Caution unnecessary? Seventeen only, says Mr. A.B. died; and this seems, in his Opinion, too slight a Foundation for the earnest Call I made upon the People to beware of the Introduction of these Miscreants into their Families. My well meant Endeavours on this Occasion, he is pleased to call, with a Sneer, "a Sepcimen of my Abilities in the pathetic Style, in painting the Distress of a Widow's Family on the Eastern Shore." I can assure Mr. A.B. I had not the least Hopes of moving Hearts like his, by my pathetic Specimen, if I may judge of his Feelings by the whole Tendency of his Performance.
As to the Caution I gave to guard againts the Evasions of self-interested Men, which he is pleased to call an unnecessary Reflection on Individuals, it was likewise founded upon a common Report, uncontradicted by any one, to my Knowledge, That a Representation had been sent home by one, or more Persons, concerned in the Convict Commissions here, against our Quarantine-Act, with a View to procure a Dissent to it. This was my Reason for throwing out so early, "that the Operation of so good a Law should be frustrated by every Evasion which the Arts of interested Men could devise," And, I must appeal to the Public, whether, of the Fact be true, that any of these Gentlemen have attempted the entire Destruction of the Act, they have any Right to complain of my Insinuations, as unnecessary Reflection upon them. Common Fame, I grant, is not a Foundation for the Condemnation of any Man's Conduct; but surely, in Matters of so interesting a Nature to the Public, as the Preservation of Life, it will justify a Charge, and, more particularly, when the Parties affected have not thought fit to disavow it.
ALTHO' Mr. A.B. acknowledges that Mrs. Blake died at the same Time, yet his Selfishness is so predominant over his Candour, that he chuses to rack his Invention in Search of distant Causes, rather than to adopt the most obvious and probable. "She was," says he, "very anxious for the Interest and Welfare of her Children, went through much Fatigue and Solicitude in nursing the Slaves, and being tender and delicate, got ill herself, and died; whether with the same Fever, or not, is doubted, as the Young Ladies did not take it."-------I never heard the least Doubt of the Kind suggested by any Mortal but himself. Let us, however, take for granted, that his Doubts are to pass for positive Proofs, and the Concession will operate nothing against what I have advanced as to the fatal Effects of this Distemper upon Families. She did not die of the Fever, but of the Fatigue of nursing the Sick, &c. Where was the material Difference to this Family, whether their worthy Head was cut off immediately by the Distemper, or consequentially? He implicitly admits the Distemper to have been the Causa sine qua non of her Death, when he ascribes it to the Fatigue of Nursing, &c. and consequently shews nothing by his Doubt, but his art in raising Distinctions without a Difference. I must then conclude, in Spite of this Gentleman's perverse Logick, that the malignant Fever which raged in this Family, was justly chargeable with all the ill consequences, whether direct or remote; and that my Caution, even upon his own Supposition, was seasonable and proper. But the Reason of his doubting whether the Lady died of the same Fever, is curious--------" because the young Ladies did not take it!--------Is it essential to a contagious Distemper, that every Body must take it, who happens to be near it? Has he not known some in a Family escape, where many others have had the Flux? Has he not known some Instances of the kind with regard to the Small-Pox; and has he not been well informed, that when the Plague itself prevailed in London, in which upwards of Seventy Thousand died, a much greater Number escaped?
OUR Author observes, that Doctor Hale says, "a Number of People confined long together, whether in a Jail, Ship, or elsewhere, must corrupt the Air, and bring on putrid Fevers:" Here, if the Gentleman had kept to his Text, we might have expected a Detail of the ill Consequences from a long Confinement of Numbers of People in Jails or Ships; but, these he chuses to pass over in profound Silence, and confines his Observations to Negro-Quarters. I never heard that our Negro-Quarters are remarkable for Closeness. They are generally built of Clap-boards, and not filled in so as to exclude the Air; and, when the Negroes are in the House, the Door is generally open. But, to make his Inference square with his Premises, or rather to make the Authority of Dr. Hale a Case in Point, it is incumbent upon him to shew, that it is the Custom with our Planters to confine their Negroes for a long Time together in their Habitations; and, when he has done this, I will admit his Conclusion, that, by elsewhere, Dr. Hale must have meant Negro-Quarters in MARYLAND, and that, by Jails and Ships, he meant-----------Nothing at all. "There has been," says our Author, "divers Instances of great Mortality in Negroes in this Province, without any Colour of Suspicion that they could possibly take the Disorder from a Visit of a Convict Transport." Here the Gentleman covers himself under the general Term, Disorder; whereas he should have confined his Assertion to the Subject-Matter in Dispute, which is that contagious Malady, called, The Jail-Fever; and I do defy him to produce divers Instances of great Mortality from that Distemper, where the Cause has not been manifestly traced to infected Ships, whether Convict, or others, matters not, as our Quarantine-Law was intended to guard against all under that Circumstance. I readily agree with our Author in recommending more airy and commodious Habitations for our Negroes; for, altho' the Houses generally built for that Purpose, may not be the original Cause f contagious Disorders, yet slight Indispositions, natural to our Climate, may be aggravated, where many sick People are confined together in too small a Compass. Let it however be granted, that contagious Fevers arise from the Causes he mentions, and then I would ask him, whether it was improper to guard against them, when they arise from other Causes? If he answers in the Negative, then where is the Foundation for his Quarrel with me? If, in the Affirmative, for what Reason did he quote Dr. Hale; and why has he made it the whole Drift of his Composition to invalidate the Doctor's Allegation?
THE Gentleman, in the next Place, entertains us with an Opinion which must for ever silence his Antagonist, and convince the World of the Vanity of all Precautions against Distempers of every kind. "The Truth," says he, "I believe, is, were never another Ship to come into this Country, People at one Time or another would die;" This indeed is a most sagacious Discovery!--------and, altho' the Envy of Cavillers may be disposed to rob our Author of his Right to the original Invention of this profound Secret, yet do I believe it to be purely his own. As in the Animal Oeconomy, a Similarity of Consitutions may produce correspondent Effects in Two Individuals, independently of any Influence either has upon the other; so, reasoning from Analogy, we may infer, that a Congeniality of Souls may independently produce similar Operations in the mental Powers. In vain then will it be alledged against Mr. A.B. that he stole this Sentiment from Mr. P.P.* whose Memoirs are recorded in the writings of Swift. Mr. P.P. it is true, was prior in Point of Authorship, and there is a striking Resemblance between the two Passages; but I account for it, upon the Principle above-mentioned, or what is called a jumping of Wits.---------The Thought in Question is contained in an Epitaph of the said P.P. upon himself, and flows in the following Numbers:
Oh! Reader, if that thou can'st read,
I confess there is no other Difference between these Two Authors, than that Mr. P.P. delivers himself without the Appearance of a Doubt, whereas Mr. A.B. by his cautious Parenthetis, of "I believe," seems to think it Problematical. That the Observation however is equally worthy of them both, is by no means a Problem.
THE Case I mention'd about Mr. Howard's Family, I thought too notorious to admit of any Dispute; but yet, this likewise has the Misfortune to find a place amongst the Gentleman's Problems.
Upon this Occasion, I must appeal to the Physicians who attended his Family, and must assure Mr. A.B. that, as far as their Authority has Weight, it is directly against him.
I HAVE not given myself the Trouble, or been furnish'd with the Means of estimating the Danger of admitting Transported Felons into our Families; and therefore must submit Mr. A.B.'s Calculation to the Reader. Instances are sufficiently notorious of the fatal Effects, to make the greatest Caution necessary, and I cannot think Mr. A.B. in taking such unworthy Pains to put People entirely off their Guard, is entitled to their Thanks. His View, whatever his Pretences may be, is clearly selfish, what mine is, I chearfully submit to the Public; nor do I think myself much affected by the Censure, when he ranks me amongst the "few Gentlemen who are very angry that Convicts are imported here at all." He pays me a Compliment where he intended a Reflection; but in confining it to a few, and representing that the general Sense of the People is in favour of this vile Importation, he is guilty of the most shameful Misrepresentation, and the grossest Calumny upon the whole Province. What Opinion must our Mother Country, and our Sister Colonies, entertain of our Virtue, when they see it confidently asserted in the Maryland Gazette, that We are fond of peopling our Country with the most abandon'd Profligates in the Universe? Is this the Way to purge Ourselves from that false and bitter Reproach, so commonly thrown in our Dish, that We are the Descendants of Convicts? As far as it has lain in my Way to be acquainted with the general Sentiments of the People on this Subject, I solemnly declare, that the most discerning and judicious amongst them, esteem it the greatest Grievance imposed on Us by our Mother Country. This is not only the general Opinion here, but of the greatest Writers in England, and the best Judges of the Proper Means of settling a young Country-----To accumulate Authorities wou'd exceed the Limits of my present Purpose, and therefore I shall trouble the Reader with only one Quotation upon the Occasion.---It is from no less a man than the great Lord Bacon, whose Sentiments upon all Subjects are in general entertained with a Reverence almost rising to Idolatry.---Speaking of Plantations, he delivers himself thus--- "It is a shameful and unblessed Thing to take the Scum of People, and wicked condemned Men to be the People with whom you plant; and not only so, but it spoileth the Plantation, for they will ever live like Rogues, and not fall to Work, but be lazy, and do Mischief, and spend Victuals, and be quickly weary."----The Truth of this Opinion in every Circumstance, I will venture to assert, has been amply confirmed by every Man's Experience, who has had considerable Dealings in this kind of Cattle.-----And here, were I disposed to sacrifice Decency to Merriment, I wou'd exhibit Mr. A.B. by the Side of Lord Bacon, for the Sake of laughing at the ridiculous Contrast; but I have too high a Veneration for that great Man's Memory, to insult it by such a profane Association: and shall therefore leave our Author to prance with the high-mettled Mr. P.P abovementioned, till I can find a better Match for him.
HAD the Legislature, proceeds our Author, "provided a proper House and place of Reception, at the Public Charge, for the unhappy Sick, when they shou'd come into the Country, whether Convicts, or Passengers, as they have in Pennsylvania, and in all other Countries in the World, where any thing like a Quarantine Law exists--------I think, it must be allowed, the Law wou'd have been much more perfect, and I hope at their next Meeting they will think so, and make such Provision." Altho' I readily agree with Mr. A.B. that whilst these Vermin are forced upon Us, it will be highly expedient to have a proper House and place of Reception for them, yet I dissent from him in one small Particular,-----that it shou'd be done at the Public Charge. And I found my Dissent on this Principle, that nothing shou'd be done at the Public Charge, but what is for the Public Good.------Hence it follows, that until Mr. A.B. can prove, in Opposition to Lord Bacon, Common Sense, and to the almost universal Judgment of the People here, that it is for our Good, the Mother-Country shou'd disgorge the foulest Pollutions of her Jails upon Us, he will fail in every essential Part of the Principle laid down. It not being then for the Public Good, but directly otherwise, and consequently improper for a publick Charge, let us investigate some other Principle as a Foundation for a Measure we both agree to be right. If the Principle, that the PUBLIC GOOD should be supported by the PUBLIC CHARGE, be self-evident, I conceive, the Principle, that what is exclusively for the Good of Individuals, should be exclusively supported by Individuals, is equally self-evident. The Principle then, being established, it remains only to apply it; and here, I would ask who are the Persons interested in the Importation of Convicts into this Country? It must be answered, the Contractors at home, and those who have the Sales of them here------AND THEY ONLY. Is it not reasonable, then, that those Gentlemen should give up a small Pittance from their enormous Profits, to "provide a proper House and Place of Reception for their unhappy Sick;" and will an Mortal but Mr. A.B. have the Effrontery to say, that this should be done at the public Charge? I must declare then, in the Words of Mr. A.B. that, with the Addition I propose, "it must be allow'd the Law would have been much more perfect; and, I hope, at their next Meeting, the Legislature will think so, and make such Provision." And here I must express my Hopes, that the Gentleman, whose Heart Mr. A.B. knows so well, and whose indisputableMerit he has established by the most impartial Testimony, the Gentleman who so nobly disregarded all his private Views of Interest, in the Affair of Negro Consignments, will be the first to move, in the next Assembly, for a Duty of Twenty Shillings per Head on the Importation of all Convicts, as a Fund for providing a proper House and Place of Reception for the unhappy Sick, when they come into the Country. It is true, he knows very well, that the Profits from the Trade, will bear a much higher Imposition without any Injury upon the Parties concern'd, when it is consider'd, that Common Labourers sell at £.12 Sterling, and Tradesmen, from £.18 to £.50 Sterling per Head; but I would advise him to restrain his Zeal within proper Bounds, and not, as in the Negro-Affair, propose a Sum, which would be the same in Consequence as a Prohibition. For my part, I think every Act of Parliament made for the Colonies, and founded upon constitutional Principles, ought to bind them; and that, where they think themselves aggrieved by the BRITISH LEGISLATURE, it is their Duty humbly to remonstrate against the Imposition, and not, by subtle Evasions, to contravene the Act, which amounts to a virtual Repeal, and is totally inconsistent with the subordinate Relation we stand in to our Mother-Country. I am well convinced, that the Legislature, in enacting the Quarantine-Law, proceeded upon the wise and beneficent Principle of providing against the Introduction of contagious Distempers, and not upon the Policy of opposing an Act of Parliament, as has been wickedly suggested by some. I make no Doubt but they will still proceed upon the same Principle, in making this Law as perfect as possible, without being discouraged by a famous Miscarriage, which we all remember. In an Act for his Majesty's Service, a Duty was laid upon Servants for Seven Years and upwards, and upon all other Servants imported into the Province. The Contractors at home for the Transportation of Convicts, represented that this Duty amounted to a Prohibition, and that they could no longer afford to send them in, altho' it was only 20s. per Head. We had no Body then to defend our Cause, every Misrepresentation was swallowed, and the Consequence was, that the Collection of the Duty upon Convicts was stopt. Thus did the Arts and Interest of a few obscure Contractors, triumph over as many Thousands of as dutiful Subjects as any in his Majesty's Dominions, to their infinite Mortification. But, I say, let us not be discouraged by this Instance, for we have now a Gentleman at home, in the Service of this Country, whose Abilities can baffle all the little Arts and Machinations of Contractors, and inforce our Cause with the irresistible Power of Justice and Truth. Add to this Consideration, that Mr. A.B.'s Friend will exert all his Abilities and Influence in the Lower House in so good a Cause, and confirm, by a Uniformity of Conduct, his Character of Disinterestedness. The Sanction of his Name, and the Instructions he can give to our Agent at home, from his Knowledge of Trade, and the Expediency and Equity of the Imposition, will be of singular Advantage in promoting a Quarantine-Act upon a proper Foundation. He may then hug himself secure in his Virtue despite the clumsy Encomiums of such an awkward Pangyrist as A.B. and look down with conscious Dignity upon the Malice of every invidious Detractor.------------Mr. A.B. certainly spoke without Book, when he so roundly asserted, "that in Pennsylvania, and in all other countries in the World, where any Thing like a Quarantine-Law exists, there are provided a proper House and Place of Reception for Convicts or Passengers." I defy him to produce one single Instance upon the Face of the Globe, where any such Provision is made for Convicts. But, as Precision seems not to be the Talent of this Writer, it would be ungenerous to confine him to the Import of his Terms, when there is any other Clue for fixing a more rational Meaning upon him. Let us suppose, then, that he meant "wherever any Thing like a Quarantine-Law exists, Provision has been made of a proper House and Place of Reception for the Sick?" It would be tedious to confute this Assertion by a particular Reference to Quarantine-Acts, in which no such Provision is made, and therefore I shall content myself with denying his Allegation, and putting the Proof upon him; at the same Time giving him a little Memento of the Rule, he so plausibly lays down to others, that, "when Matters of an interesting Nature come before the Public, Facts alleg'd, should be true.
AND now, Mr. A.B. hitherto tolerably pacific, falls upon me in a Storm of angry Questions--"Who are these interested Men this Writer means? Are they not Gentlemen concern'd in the Sale of those People?---Who else can he mean?" Softly Mr. A.B. and I will tell you, in one Word, whom I meant----I meant the Man or Men, who, 'tis reported, sent Representations home to England, with a View of procuring a Dissent to the Quarantine Act,---an Act, which, without any Intention of imposing unreasonable Hardships upon any Body, was simply attentive to the Preservation of the Lives and Healths of the Inhabitants. For the Honour of my Countrymen, I wish this Cap may fit no Body; but if it does, let the guilty Person wear it, say I, altho' it were a Cap of Thorns.
"SURELY, says Mr. A.B. the Gentlemen concern'd in the Sales, would never be so mad as to venture their own Lives so constantly, if they conceiv'd any considerable Degree of Danger." This Observation is founded upon the Principle, that Men will not run the Risque of their Lives in the pursuit of Gain, which shews his profound Knowledge in the History of Mankind.---Instances enough may may be adduced from the Practices of War, Navigation, and many other Pursuits in Life, to shew the Fallacy of this Principle, nay, Mr. A.B. himself, has furnished us with an Example which militates against his own Doctrine, and shews, that "Men will be so mad as to venture their Lives constantly, in Circumstances of certain Danger," where he assures the Public, that for these Thirty Years, communibus Annis, there has been at least 600 Convicts per Year imported into this Province." But perhaps the Gentlemen concern'd in these Sales, may secure themselves from the from the Danger to which others are expos'd, by certain Antidotes or preventive Medecines [sic].-----Let us, however, allow this Argument its full Force, and we shall find it to be as weak as any of the rest. The Gentlemen concern'd in the Sales, conceive there is no considerable Danger of Infection from Convict Ships!----Ergo, there is none.----To make his Logic conclusive, he must establish the Infallibility of these Gentlemen, and then I will acknowledge that his Quotation from Dr. Hale was impertinent, that the Authorities of Lord Bacon, Dr. Mead, and Dr. Pringle, are nothing to the Purpose, that what we have heard of the Black Assizes at Oxford**, is an idle Tradition, that D'Anville's Expedition against AMERICA, was not defeated by the Jail-Fever, communicated by a Convict Ship, that the Accounts we have of the Mortality at the Lent Assizes at Taunton, in 1730+ , and at the Sessions at the Old-Bailey, in May 1750++, from that Cause, were Fictions, that there never was an Instance of the kind in this Province, and that Mr. A.B. is a modest Man, and a fit Logician.
IT would be an endless Piece of Work to Mark upon every exceptionable Passage in Mr. A.B.'s Piece, for, in Truth, he never makes a Step without a Trip. I shall therefore take up no more of the Reader's Time, but submit what I have said to his Judgment, in Confidence, that he will give me Credit for my good Intentions, if I am entitled to none for my Manner in handling the Subject. From a Principle of Duty, I gave the Alarm; and Mr. A.B. is welcome, if he pleases, to call my Endeavours invidious. Whoever undertakes to vindicate the Interests of Society, in Opposition to the Selfush Schemes of Individuals, must expect to encounter Railing and Abuse. I flatter myself I have Reason and Truth on my Side in this Controversy, and shall therefore think myself as secure from the Attacks of Mr. A.B. as the Foil in the Fable, was from the Gnawings of the Viper.
**There died, within 40 Hours, the Judges, Gentry, and all that were present, except Women and Children, to the Number of Three Hundred, from, as the great Lord Bacon supposed, the poisonous Steam of the Prisoners.
+There died of the Infection caught at this Assize, Lord Chief Baron Pengelly, Sir James Sheppard, Knight, John Pigott, Esq; High Sheriff, and some Hundreds of others in the Town.
++Sir Thomas Abney, a Justice of the Common Plese, Sir James Pennant, Knight, Lord Mayor; Sir Daniel Lambert, and Seventeen others of considerable Note, besides many of the inferior Rank, were supposed to be killed by the noisome Stench of the Prisoners.
[In the same issue as this letter from Philanthropos, there was also a letter from a gentleman who attacked Mr. A.B. for his aspersions on the physician who attended the Blake family in their illness.]
TO THE PRINTER OF THE MARYLAND
THIS Writer sets out with a seeming Air of Candor, and tells us, That "when Matters of an interesting Nature come before the PUBLIC, Facts alledg'd should be true," &c. But forgetting this honest Rule, he presently alledges what is not true; and implies a Reflection on the Physician that attended Mrs. BLAKE's Negroes; for he says, and upon Hear-say Evidence too, That "after they omitted Bleeding, and administer'd James's Powders, several of them recovered; and that it is thought, that Method of Cure, if at first happily fallen on, might have saved some of those that died." Now this Insinuation is as false as it is unkind; for, to my certain Knowledge, the Physician did administer James's Powders from the Beginning, and afterwards dropped them, and made use of other Medicines that proved more effectual; and of all that were taken with this fatal Disorder, which, including those at the Quarter, about Half a Mile from the Dwelling House, amounted to Twenty-one grown Persons, besides Children, Five only were bled, and that on Account of some particular Circumstances in their Cases, which strongly indicated that Evacuation, and of those Five some died, and some recovered; so that Bleeding was no Part of the general Cure; nor, from particular Indications it appeared necessary, did it increase the Disorder, or occasion the Loss of any Lives. Surely it ill became this Gentleman, who is so very tender of his own Character, as well as that of his Friends, to publish, in the GAZETTE, such a foul Aspersion on the Character of a Physician, as that of suffering the Lives of several of his Patients to be lost by his Ignorance.
WITH regard to the Method of communicating this Disorder, Mr. A.B. is also misinformed; and, 'tis great Pity he was; for he has thereby failed in the only Attempt towards being witty in the whole Publication. It was not the casual Visit of a Felon, that made such Havocke, but of a Felon's Master, who had received the Infection from a CONVICT Servant he had bought, and who, on a casual Visit to his Brother, one Ceders, in Queen-Anne's County, was then taken sick, and communicated the Distemper to his Brother's Family, by means of a Negro Fellow of hers, who had a Wife at Cedar's, whom he attended in this very Fever, which cost both him and her their Lives. Thus, notwithstanding all this Gentleman's fine Notions of a Malignant Fever, and his Account of it as arising from the Nastiness of Negroes, and their being crowded in their Quarters, tho' all this, I say, may in some Instances be very true, yet it makes nothing at all to his Purpose; for the Infection of this particular Malignant Fever can be easily trac'd to it's Fountain Head, a CONVICT Ship; a Ship, if I am not misinformed, address'd to this very Writer, who, when he visits these infected Ships, generally takes the necessary Precaution, as I am told, of carrying a piece of Tar'd Rope, by way of Nosegay, to prevent his catching the Infection. From this, and such like Precautions, it has, no doubt, happened, that Gentlemen concerned in the Sales of Convict Servants, have seldom caught the Infection from them: And, tho' the Infection be sometimes so violent, as, like a Plague, to sweep off all that come within the Sphere of its Activity, as at the Old-Bailey in 1750, as mentioned by Dr. Pringle, and as in the Case of the Poor Workmen in Ghent, in the Year 1743, mention'd by the same Gentleman, when, of Twenty-three employed in refitting the Tents of the Sick, Seventeen died, yet this is not always the Case; for "the common Course of this Distemper (says Pringle) is slow, and catching to those chiefly who are confin'd in bad Air, such as the Sick in Hospitals, and their Nurses, and Prisoners in Jails. But when there is no great Quantity of infectious Matter, or when it is not particularly violent, or when a Person has not breath'd long in such dangerous Steams, he will either escape, of have the Symptoms come on so slowly, as to allow Time for Prevention."
As to the Gentleman's Observations on the Quarantine Law, I leave them to be considered by those who may be better acquainted with the Principles on which it proceeded, and was enacted; but I cannot help observing how highly he extols the disinterested and patriotic Spirit of the Gentlemen generally concern'd in the Sale of CONVICT Servants, and particularly admire the Character of his FRIEND, who was so zealous, in the Lower House of Assembly, against the Importation of Negroes, because he thought it incompatible with the Good of his Country, whom, I think, hear like another CATO, crying out,
Oh VIRTUE! Oh LIBERTY! Oh my COUNTRY!
But if it should appear at last, that this very identical Patriot, who scorn'd to accept of any Negro Commissions, for the noble Reason above assign'd has since sollicited for those very Commissions,-----What shall we say? Why, That he has changed his Mind, as alas! many PATRIOTS now-a-Days do.
Heu! quantam mutatus ab illo!
Upon the Whole, tho' the Gentleman who attended Mrs. BLAKE's Family, may have good Reason to find Fault with this Writer for so grossly misrepresenting his Conduct, and in such a Public Manner; yet when he comes to reflect that Mr. A.B. may have advanced as Facts, the idle Reports of Common Fame, not so much with a View, perhaps, to hurt the Character of the Physician, as to accommodate all Matters to the support of a Doctrine, that, if generally received, would, in the End, prove no less beneficial to the Physical, than to the Mercantile Tribe: On this Consideration, I say, the Doctor ought to excuse Mr. A.B. this Piccadillo, and propose to this Gentleman, for their mutual Advantage, That all Merchants, Factors, Physicians, &c. &c. should join in extolling the general Utility of importing Rogues, Felons, and Diseases, from the long infected Walls, and deeply corrupted Mansions of NEWGATE, &c. to mend the Constitutions, and improve the Morals of the good People of this Province.
Maryland Gazette, (Green), Annapolis, August 20, 1767