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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from [Henry?] Purcell to Abner Nash
Purcell, [Henry?]
Volume 15, Pages 15-17


May it Please your Excellency:

Since I had the pleasure of addressing you by Capt. Fernes, which thro' Hurry & teasing I fear was very imperfect & scarce legible, I have had Occasion to try the Effect & Value of the State Money here, & find it beggars every Comparison we cou'd make of Wilmington & Newbern. It has descended so low that the very Negroes, who I always entertained the Idea of possessing no Principle but Fear, are influenced by the infection. A mortifying

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Instance of this presented itself this morning prior to my rising from Bed, otherwise the bronzed Front of the scoundrel should have felt the Effect of my Displeasure. There were a delicious variety of Fish & some chicken & Turtle brought to Town. A servant was dispatched to buy some, but the Fellow, brought up with Insolence amidst his scaly Tribe, refused to deliver any without hard Money, and audaciously superadded, “Not a d—m'd Son of a B—ch in the Town shall have any without it.” The Fellow belonged to Col. Easton; I purpose riding to the Col's. this Evening & demonstrating to him, together with the Insolence, the heinousness of the fellow's Offence. If he Indulges him in the former, he may rest assured that, tho' the coming of the Saviour has abolished the Mosaical Institution, yet as a clergyman and a Friend to all its Valuable Precepts, its Discipline & good order, I shall dare to inflict 40 Stripes save one; And as for the latter I shall leave him to the Civil Power, who I hope will not bear the sword in vain, but be a Terror to the evil doers & a Rewarder of those who do well. Tho' indeed I always thought the latter useless, because virtue & honest dealing ever bear a heartfelt & self-approving Testimony, & are their own Reward. Apropos with Regard to the civil Magistrates, I fancy your Excelly's. Proclamation never made its appearance here; It would not have been amiss. Pardon my Presumption in offering advice when amidst the Multitude of such Counsellors as your Excellency is surrounded with there must, as Solomon says, be safety, & render the Hint tolerably insignificant; but as Ignorance and Presumption are such true Concomitants & rival Sisters, & your Excellency's goodness having fed & fostered me with the latter, will I hope move you not to make any unhappy Division between the Sisterhood, or pass any severe Censure on the former, when I say it wou'd not have been amiss if your Proclamation had been inclosed in each of the Delegate's Letters. However, 'tis not, I fancy, too late; if your Excelly. will send a few here I will post them at Convenient & Public Places, & watch their Effect. And if, when the law is thus brought home even to their very Doors, I shou'd find any of them tripping, there will be only this alternative: They must drive or banish me from Beaufort, or I'll correct & reform them; they are mostly cursed Tories.

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You will say, perhaps, this will be a happy Prelude & foretaste to a spiritual Reformation; but its being so diametrically opposite to the system that every cunning & political Reformer has adopted, not to enslave the Mind first before he Subjugates the Body, that I know not whether I can flatter myself with any success in running Counter to it. It will be, however, pleasing to me, & I hope no less so to the Community, to work upon their temporals, for when once a Man is reduced even to make a Virtue of Necessity & to become, as it were, a good Member of Society, not from the directive Impulse of his own Mind, but from a strict hand & watchful Eye over him, 'tis great odds but the Pleasure of well doing will so forcibly work upon the Fancy as to make him revere & admire it. This is the Physic used only to have been applyed at Beaufort; and if those that should have administered it had not been as torpid & lethargic as the Patients, rougher Methods wou'd be totally useless.

By this time I fancy I have exhausted your Excellency's Patience in trying to read my Scrall, & I think I almost have a wish that I had come & deciphered it myself. Begging leave, therefore, to recommend Mr. Bordeau, the bearer of this, Brother to a worthy & respectable Merchant in Charles Town, to yr. Excelly's. Notice,

I subscribe myself your Excellency's
Most obliged Humble Servt.,

P. S. My best Respects attend Mrs. Nash & the little Folks, & my worthy Flock, that you may think worthy of them. A cast off News Paper wou'd be a treat to me here—do take Pity.