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Sir-A Letter to the candid, occasioned by my publications, has been before the public several months. Your name is placed on the title page. I cannot believe you are the real author of the publication. I am fully satisfied that it is substantially the work of your minister. For in the first place, you will recollect that two communications appeared in the Boston Recorder, to which your name was signed ; but which were principally composed by Mr Harding. In the second place, all your acquaintances are well aware that you are not qualified either by early education or subsequent habits of composition, for the production of a grammatical and connected article on any subject whatever. And you must be fully sensible, that when a person of your talents and attainments puts his name to an essay, which is divided into proper sentences, tolerably pointed, and exhibiting but few grammatical mistakes, he is uniformly subjected to the charge of plagiarism. In the third place, your minister repeated to one of my society, many of the remarks contained in the pamphlet, in nearly the same order and same words in which they now stand, several weeks before its appearance.
In the fourth place, the style and sentiment and spirit of the Letter bear the strongest evidence of coming from your master; for you there find that insignificant quibbling, that senseless sneering and that reckless disregard of accuracy, for which
he is so generally distinguished. , I would not however intimate that you have had nothing to do in bringing this literary and theological production into existence. Your almost daily visits at the house of your employer about the time of its publication, indicate that you might have been occupied in noting down his ideas, copying after his corrections and other manual operations of the same description. But that the real authorship of the letter belongs to him, I cannot doubt. Neither is this doubted by any one with whom I have conversed on the subject. Since however you have assumed to be the author of what is so manifestly the work of another, you must abide by the consequences, and expect to be treated as the responsible author of the publication.
But what could have induced you to put your name to a pam. phlet which seems in no proper sense your own? I can answer this question, satisfactorily to my myself and my friends, without any difficulty. In the first place, you and your employers probably thought that I should not condescend to notice an attack from such a source; and thus give you an opportunity of proclaiming that your operations and charges had never been contradicted. But in this expectation you are destined to be disappointed. For I have read with interest the following paragraphs from the pious Andrew Fuller, which I think in point. When a man is deluged with misrepresentations, he says there are two ways left to him. 1. 'He may safely treat the foulest and most unworthy of his opponents with neglect. 2. He may give a brief statement of the truth, and leave the misrepresentation and abuse to fall of its own accord.' "The first of the rules of the pious Fuller, I have hitherto regarded as the one adapted to the case in hand, and have governed myself accordingly, except in one or two instances, in which it seemed to me that his second rule, was appropriate, and therefore, in those cases, I gave a simple statement of facts, as I shall do in the present instance. I shall speak plainly, but I hope not bitterly. In the second place, I suppose it was judged best to have your name attached to the pamphlet, because you are old and forgetful, and could therefore be induced to believe certain statements were true, to which your minister could not conscientiously attest; and also because your word would have much more weight in this place than that of some others of your number. And in the third place, it was doubtless concluded that the assertions of an aged layman would weigh more in the estimation of an impartial community than those of a partizan minister. More reasons for your conduct could be readily mentioned, but these are sufficient to satisfy the inhabitants of this village.
But what could induce you and your employers to publish this Letter? I will mention what I suppose to be the principal inducement. You perceived that of the large number of young men whom an increase of business has brought into this place during the past season, scarcely more than one or two have attended your meeting. You probably thought that if you accused me of falsehood, called me a false witness, and repeated your charges with great confidence, some of the new comers, might be induced to leave my society. But in this hope you have been disappointed. For more than a hundred individuals may be found in the town, whose knowledge of all the affairs in controversy is better than your own, and who stand ready to contradict your assertions and testify to the truth of my states ments.
You doubtless expected also to destroy the confidence of some persons in my general statements, by asserting that all my notices of events in this place were unfounded: How far you have succeeded in this, among some of your weaker adherents, I am unable to determine. I have however thought proper to improve my first leisure moments since the appearance of your publication, in proving the incorrectness of your assertions.
Now what do you undertake to accomplish in your pamphlet? The following sentence from your fourth page indicates your design and intention. 'I shall not attempt to notice the numerous imputations and aspersions scattered through Mr Whitman's pamphlets, but only such facts as I have a personal knowledge of, and can therefore speak with PERFECT confidence of truth." Taking this for my guide, I will see if you have spoken only of such facts as you have a personal knowledge of, and have uttered nothing but perfect truth.
1. Your first subject of remark is the communion plate. In answer to your sophistical reasonings and unfounded assertions, I will submit three observations.
You admit that Mr Jackson presented the communion plate. You acknowledge that the five males who had signed Mr Harding's creed retained this property when they seceded from the Second Religious Society. You allow that the vessels are still in possession of the two or three seceders who remain in this town. By what authority?
2. You contend that the men who call themselves the Trinitarian Congregational church are legally entitled to this property. You undertake to quote a law to this effect, and advance some observations which you call reasons. My answer 10 all this may be expressed in a few words. The plate was presented, not to the five men who carried it away, but to all who should wish to commune in the church of the Second Society. When the five departed with this property some of the first legal gentlemen in the land were consulted on the subject. They were of the opinion that the law would compel you to deliver up the service. Not only so. A case precisely similar has just been tried in the law. I refer to the Brookfield case. All the males but two seceded, and those two were excommunicated by the seceding members; so that on your own ground no church remained at the old meeting house. But the decision of the court has compelled the seceders to give up the property of those from whom they retained it. It is therefore settled beyond a doubt, that you would have been obliged to deliver up the plate, had the Second Society asserted its legal rights, instead of sacrificing their property on the altar of peace. And this is a sufficiet answer to all your pretended reasoning about things concerning which you have very little knowledge.
3. I stated that Mr Harding called upon Mr Jackson, the donor, and told him the church would consult him about the disposition of the plate. I also asserted that Mr Jackson assured him that if he was consulted, he should say he intended the communion service for those who should wish to commune in the church owned by the manufacturing company and occupied by the Second Society. You affirm that Mr Jackson