Jonathan Belcher, a Royal Governor of Massachusetts

FOR the first fifty-five years of its life under the colonial charter Massachusetts had substantially the same form of government it has had since it became an independent State. Its magistrates, civil and judicial, were chosen by the people ; its legislation and administration were by its own citizens, free of outside dictation. It was wont to speak of itself as a “commonwealth.” This use which the colony made of liberty and opportunity was from the first brought into question by authority in the mother country ; but threats and interference were skillfully met and parried by acute ingenuity here aided largely by unsettled and disturbing events across the sea, which gave the home government enough occupation in itself. But the self-willed and confident, not to say defiant and truculent spirit of the colony brought about a check on its independence by the abrogation of its first charter, and the substitution of another. Under the new charter, Massachusetts became a province from 1692 to the Revolution. Twelve successive governors, commissioned by English monarchs, represented the royal prerogative. There were still representatives of the people, of their own choice, in the House, who constituted a part of its Court or General Assembly, while another body of councilors, whose nomination the governor might veto, and whose acts and bills required his approval, was a necessary party to all legislation. The king might, within three years after its passage, disallow any act of this legislation. This radical change from substantial autonomy to a state of subjection to foreign intervention was of course a bitter humiliation and grievance to those who, from being “freemen,” found themselves put into leading-strings. But the change, none the less, brought some compensations. A keenly discerning reader of our local history can hardly fail to note many tokens, in our domestic, social, civil, and religious life and interests, of enlarging and liberalizing influences coming in with the new charter.

True, it made Massachusetts a “ province.” But to it we may trace the beginning of those processes and agencies which have ever since been working to free us from what is known as our “ provincialism.” With the new charter government came influences which opened the secluded wilderness colony, with its narrow, rigid, and stiffening traditions and its local conceits, to freer intercourse with a larger world, by occasions and opportunities for travel, visits to the mother country, correspondence, literature, and extended acquaintance. Governor Belcher had a son, like himself born here, and a graduate of Harvard, whom he sent to England, during his administration, to pursue his legal studies at the Temple. The youth had many advantages of person, wealth, and culture. The father’s long residence abroad previously and his official position facilitated his seeking introductions, friends, and patronage for his son among eminent and courtly persons. In a letter for the son to present to Onslow, Speaker of the House of Commons, the father writes, — and he wrote to many others in the same strain, — “ When you see him, you must forgive the disadvantages with which he will appear to so nice and polite a judge, and consider that he was born and bred in the wilds of America.” And again, to the Duke of Newcastle, “ I hope your great candor will pass by any peculiarities your nice and polite eye will too readily discern in this youth, while you will please to consider he is but the raw production of the wilds of America.” Many like illustrations might be given of the fact that our becoming a “ province ” began the process of our freeing ourselves of “provincialism.”

Of the twelve chief magistrates commissioned by the king as his governors here, four were natives of the “ American wilds,” three of them of Massachusetts. The administrations of the whole twelve were unpopular, stormy, full of friction, cross-purposes, and antagonism. The authorities at home and all classes of the people here were equally vexed, and naturally intractable. It might have seemed that those who were native born, catching the spirit of their heritage, and craving kindly relations with those of like lineage and traditions, would have administered affairs far more with a view to general approval and acceptance by the people, pursuing a conciliatory and mediatorial policy as between them and the king with his “ Instructions ” to be followed, than would strangers sent here. But it proved quite otherwise. The four natives were of all the least acceptable, the most unpopular, and, if not the most aggressive, the least compliant and conciliatory. Besides their commissions of office, which were read to the Assembly, each of them was furnished by the king with “ Instructions ” for his guidance, which, in whole or in part, he was at liberty to keep to himself or to make known. These were a hedge whose hiding or protection baffled inquiry, and covered many seemingly aggressive or offensive positions assumed by the governors. It was enough for them to plead their oath of office, with its pledge of loyalty and obedience, as paramount to any appeal or argument which might be addressed to them for reasons of policy, tolerance, or indulgence, or to any preferred course of their own. Many and various matters and occasions were constantly presenting themselves either for moderate dislike and opposition, or for open and positive resistance of dictation and authority from these chief magistrates. Comparatively short as had been the term of colonial independence, — fifty-five years only, — it had been long enough to train and confirm men of a resolute spirit in a preference and purpose of deciding for themselves in matters of supreme interest to themselves, without yielding to outside dictation or advice even. When the centennial period of the long series of observances commemorative of the leading events of our revolutionary era was at hand, a question of a pointed character was put to me by a governor of this State. It was to this effect : What was the first manifestation, in word or act, of this people distinctively indicating, if not a spirit of alienation from and opposition to foreign interference with our affairs, yet a purpose of self-sufficiency for conducting them ? My reply, given in general and comprehensive terms, was in the form of another question: Could he, beginning with the first page of our court records, and carefully scrutinizing the tenor, motives, and spirit of the measures and policy to be traced through them, indicate a single act or token which proved that Massachusetts was ever heartily and thoroughly loyal to the monarchs and government on the other side of the sea ?

It was to an organized community, thus nurtured to substantial self-government and the resolve to retain it, that the line of royal governors presented themselves with their commissions and instructions. There were among them men of generous natures, accomplished, patient, and forbearing in many matters of social and civil intercourse. But their official character made them all unwelcome, and the degree and measure of their fidelity to their oath of office would mark the extent to which they would render themselves odious. The people at large, as represented in the House, at once put themselves instinctively into an attitude of self-protection, ready to challenge, and if need were to rebuff, any interference. As has been said, many and various were the subjects and occasions for dispute and collision. At the bottom of the resolute position taken by the House was the purpose of unyielding tenacity in holding the purse-strings. The treasury was to be in its sole keeping. Every money grant for civil and military purposes, though Council and governor might share in approval or disapproval, rested for its validity with the House. The governor claimed the right to veto the choice of Speaker. This claim was stoutly denied, as not provided for in the charter ; so what was called an " Explanatory Chapter ” was put in to enforce the disputed prerogative. But the supreme bone of contention concerned the remuneration of the governors. The king, in his instructions, strictly and positively enjoined that this should be by a fixed and honorable salary from the province treasury, as he wished his governor to be independent of popular feeling and changing caprices. The people as positively and resolutely determined otherwise. To say nothing of the curt suggestion that if the king, for his own dignity and authority, wished to be thus represented here by one whom the people regarded as an unnecessary intruder, he might himself remunerate him, the people pleaded more cogent and courteous objections. They were quite ready to treat their governor, in money matters, with due consideration, to recognize generously every act and measure of his which they could approve, and to aid in his support in dignity and comfort. But this must be done according to their own free judgment as to time, occasion, and amount, as a grant or a gratuity, at the beginning, in the course, or at the end of a year of service, as they might prefer. To a fixed salary they would never consent. The issue was fought over between the parties through the administrations of all the twelve governors, with the repeated threat of the king to arraign the truculent province before Parliament. But from first to last the House never would, and never did, yield by a hair’s breadth. Governor Belcher, defining his own double-faced course in the matter, was, as we shall see, as persistent as any one of the series in urging the king’s instructions. But all in vain. A very generous gratuity was voted him, which he declined. It must be salary or nothing, — so said the king. Finally, starved into temporizing or compromising, he sought of the king in council liberty to accept the “ gratuity ” year by year, without, however, periling the paramount authority of the king’s instructions. Of course, the House, when evading and badgering the successive governors, — by no means driven to its wit’s end in the long and sharp contest, — pleaded reasons more or less cogent or plausible on its own side. The treasury was sometimes scant or even empty ; the circumstances and resources of the province were variable, sometimes depressing; extraordinary outlays might be demanded: so they could not assign a fixed and what would be regarded as a proper stipend. But, however forceful or merely evasive these pleas might be, at bottom lay the fact that the House held and meant to hold the purse-strings, and meant to have some hold, also, on the good services or good will and responsive courtesies of the governor during his tenure.

An opportunity has been given, through the publication of the Belcher papers by the Massachusetts Historical Society, to trace with some minuteness the course of one of these provincial governors. For several years our university city has ordered, by vote of its citizens, that “ no license ” be granted for the sale of intoxicating liquors within its limits. It was not always so. In the town records of Cambridge, under date of December 27, 1652, we read, “ The townsmen do grant to Andrew Belcher to sell beer and bread, for entertainment of strangers and the good of the town.” We may properly regard “ beer and bread ” as inclusive of other articles, liquids and solids, and doubtless these were dispensed after the proportions of Falstaff’s reckoning for bread and sack. The license was afterwards continued to the widow, and then to the son, Andrew. The inn was long known as the Blue Anchor Tavern. This son, Andrew, became prosperous and distinguished, first as a master mariner, then as a successful merchant in Hartford and Boston. He gave a bell for the Cambridge meeting-house. He was a member of the Council, 1702—1717. A son of this Hon. Andrew Belcher, to be the Hon. Governor Jonathan Belcher, was born in Cambridge, January 8, 1682, and graduated at Harvard in 1699. His father’s wealth and position gave him great opportunities. He spent six years in travel in England and on the Continent. In one of his speeches he said that at the court of Hanover he received the notice of the Princess Sophia, presumptive heiress to the British crown, and mother of George II. Returning to Boston, he engaged in mercantile life, and for several years was his father’s partner. He next entered into public affairs, and was elected to the Council in 1718 ; and having served seven years, not continuously, was, when elected in 1729, refused confirmation by Governor Burnet. And here begins the occasion for the study of his character and career, with such help as we can find in his papers.

He had a distinguished appearance, with refined and gracious manners, and many accomplishments. He was fond of parade. display, formality, and luxury. He had seen and learned much of the world, — enough to make him a “worldling.” tortuous, plausible, double-visaged, all to serve his ambition. Such were the estimate and judgment passed on him by his contemporaries, and the reader of the volume now published will see slender grounds for questioning or qualifying them. That he had held for so many years his place in the Council by the approval of his predecessor, Governor Shute, and had upheld him in his measures, fully warranted the reputation he bore as a “ prerogative man.” That he was vetoed by Governor Burnet on another nomination indicated that he had in some way, through force of some reasons or motives, changed his principles. He had been warmly attached to Governor Shute, and had supported him through his whole vexatious controversy with the popular party on his peremptory but futile demand for a fixed salary. Wearied of the strife, Shute, by permission of the king, had gone to England to report on the matter, leaving Lieutenant-Governor Dummer to continue the rejected demand, which he did, though not with such defiant urgency. Shute had intended and expected to return to his government, but Burnet was sent as his successor, with renewed instructions from the king to insist upon the salary. Belcher, being still in the Council, was vetoed by Burnet on his renewed nomination. What had occurred as to this “prerogative man ” ? He had completely changed sides, and had committed himself to the popular party. No explanation has been given of his course consistent with full integrity and high principle. Hutchinson, one of his equally distrusted successors, says that Belcher, while in the Council, “by some accident or other, became, on a sudden, the favorite of the House.” Hutchinson adds, “ Such instantaneous conversions are not uncommon.” But the sincerity of them depends upon the occasion.

The conversion, however, was so gratifying to the House that it determined to send him to England as a colleague with its resident agent there, Mr. Wilks, to placate the king by an address. As the Council did not concur with the House in a money grant for this agency, — Governor Burnet not being allowed to see the address which Belcher was to carry, — some Boston merchants and others subscribed the means, the House intimating that it would endeavor to remunerate them, as it afterwards did. Burnet was in many respects acceptable to the people, and the House continued to vote to him temporary grants fully equivalent to an honorable salary. These, however, he resolutely refused to accept, insisting upon a fixed compensation. Meanwhile, he checkmated the House by not allowing it to adjourn, and by refusing to sign a draft on the treasury for the pay of members. He thought that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander. Belcher, in England, as soon as he learned of Burnet’s sudden death in Boston, at once began his efforts to succeed as governor. Shute might have returned to office, but, reciprocating the favor which, fourteen years previously, Belcher had shown him in a supply of five hundred pounds, he declined the place, and favored Belcher. The office of royal governor here was well known to be a vexatious one, and there were few seekers of it. There was an embarrassment in the fact that Belcher’s mission in England was to effect a change in the rigidity of the king’s instructions as to the salary grievance. But His politic adroitness in some way met the difficulty. The sturdy legislators of the province had to face as they could the fact that the man whom they had sent as agent to secure a relaxing of the royal exactions returned as governor to demand obedience to them.

Reaching Boston with his commission in August, 1730, Belcher was received with cordiality and parade alike by the prerogative and the popular parties. They seem to have recognized in him a certain facility of adaptation to conditions and circumstances, and for a while they believed that he would prove at least a reconciler. There was an attitude of expectancy in the Court as he first met it. He was cautious and conciliatory in his utterance. He professed that he had tried faithfully to induce some relaxation of the king’s demand as to the salary. Still, he must follow his instructions to insist upon it. He advised the Court to suspend controversy on this subject, and on some others in dispute with the home government, lest the king, as he had threatened, should bring their disloyal proceedings to be challenged by Parliament. He added that he was enjoined, if he could not secure obedience to his instructions, to return at once to England and render an account. In one of his letters to England, written during the strife that followed, he says, “ I am determined to conduct myself by an invariable fidelity to my royal master, and by the best love to my country; and these things I am sure may very well coincide.” But they did not.1 The House was as resolute with him as with his predecessors that it would not yield in the matter of a fixed salary. It made him a fair grant for his services as agent to England, and a gratuity equivalent to a thousand pounds sterling, being as much as would be honorable for a salary. The Council tried to amend the vote by making the grant an annual one. But this game of fast and loose was played in vain. Belcher then advised an address from the House to the king, which, while not seeking a recall of his instructions, would allow him, for the sake of peace, to receive the grant for two or three years. When at last, by his importunity with the Board of Trade, he has received the king’s permission for this compromise, he solicits that “ the leave be general for the future ; and I must freely repeat to your lordships that there is not the least prospect of a governor’s ever being supported by an assembly here in any other manner.” Though he obtained no official permit in “ general for the future,” he was allowed informally this compromise. While these vexatious negotiations were in progress, Belcher, refusing a gratuity, received no compensation, and was more than a whole year in arrears. Though he pleaded necessities, he suffered no want, for his resources were abundant. Thus did the people of the province anticipate their independence.

But the contention as to the salary was only one of many matters of vexation and strife in agitation between him and the people of his government. Other subjects were the issue of bills of credit beyond the amount and limit allowed by the king, Belcher’s denial of the rights claimed by the House to audit the public accounts, the mode of redeeming bills of public credit, and the scheme of the Land Bank. His administration was the last in which New Hampshire and Massachusetts were under one governor. Belcher was represented by a lieutenant-governor, secretary, and council, in New Hampshire, and with most of these officials he had a continuous feud. But a disputed question as to the boundary between the two provinces was hotly contested in long and temporarily adjusted altercations. A charge of receiving a bribe from Massachusetts in this controversy was brought against Belcher, and was effectively pressed by his enemies in England. Two letters were sent from here, — one with forged signatures, the other anonymous, — both of which, though unjust, were so used as to bring about his dismissal from office in May, 1741, when Shirley, an English lawyer residing in Boston, was commissioned as his successor. After his dismissal, Belcher remained in Boston till August, 1743, when, on his embarkation for England, the honored Dr. Colman addressed to him a letter expressive of the highest confidence, respect, and personal affection ; proving that Belcher was by no means without admirers and friends. He succeeded, at court, in meeting the charges of his enemies, and the persuasion that he had been greatly wronged led to his being commissioned as governor of New Jersey in 1746. His administration there was in the main acceptable, especially as regards his interest in its college. He died in office in 1757, in his seventy-sixth year. His remains, in accordance with his expressed wish, were brought to Cambridge for interment in the family resting-place.

Mr. C. C. Smith, the editor of the volume of the Belcher papers in our hands, by his research, industry, and fidelity has furnished the reader with all needful aids for the intelligent perusal of its pages, and a knowledge of Belcher’s correspondents. The governor, though a fair scholar for his time and antecedents, a quoter of the classics, had but a limited skill in composition and a questionable taste in style. He was strong and coarse in invectives and epithets ; he was unsparing to his contestants, and often used offensive and vulgar nicknames for them. Readers in these days will fail of sympathy with, if they are not painfully repelled by, the gush and effusiveness of his “piety,” his abounding quotations from Scripture, and his unctuous devotional tone. A hint may be dropped here looking to a point in the development of the religious and devotional usages, historically and in changing generations, in this early home of Puritanism, to deal wisely with which would need a skillful and discriminating pen. Governor Belcher, as born from the old stock, had been trained in the ways and methods of Puritan Congregationalism, and in what remained, in his time, of its original strictness of discipline. In his residence abroad, his closest intimacies had been with the dissenting ministers, and the prosperous mercantile laymen in their flocks, like the Hollises and Holdens. He conformed through his whole life to Congregationalism, though he exercised a larger tolerance than some around him to all save “ Papists.” He befriended the Quakers here as he afterwards did in New Jersey, and he secured some gifts from the king to the Episcopal church in North Boston. Indeed, one of the false charges urged against him was that he had covertly favored the Episcopalians. His religious effusiveness, just referred to, was to a degree natural, from heredity, training, and habit; yet the excess and overflow of it, taken in connection with his worldliness of character and principles, do not favorably impress a reader of his correspondence. The historical point for treatment, at which we have hinted, would prompt an inquiry how and why what once, in tone and language, was accepted as the utterance of a sincere and impressive piety, tender, earnest, and thoroughly true, came, in a process of development, as we must regard it, to be offensive as “cant.” It is simply an historical query as to personality and changes in time and circumstances. A reader of average religious sympathy may respond to the outpourings of devotional sentiment and the Scriptural tone and language of such saints of the early Puritan fold as Bradford, Brewster, Winthrop, and Roger Williams. There is no mere “drivel” in such utterances from them. Even good old Judge Sewall’s gush, nearly a century later, may provoke a smile rather than a frown for his “ sanctimoniousness.” Men such as these, in the intensity of their religious convictions, in their deep and earnest sincerity, were thoroughly consistent in the elevation and purity of their characters, and in the dignity and blamelessness of their converse with the world. But the speech of angels does not befit all men. Belcher’s effervescing and exuberant outflow of memoriter sentiment is not in harmony with the pristine self-renunciations of Puritanism.

His correspondence, as found in this volume, relates in the main to three subjects, two of them official, the third of a more private and personal character. As governor of two provinces, his administration in New Hampshire, as in Massachusetts, as has been said, was shared by a lieutenant-governor and council. He found embarrassments and obstructions in both governments, though from different causes and subjects, which need not be specified here. The contentions and vexations in his New Hampshire administration, in trying to regulate affairs and in arbitrating between contestants, were duly reported to the authorities and to his friends in England, and form a part of the second subject of his correspondence. The first is more largely concerned with his official communications to the Duke of Newcastle, secretary of state, to the Board of Trade, and to a few friends, that they might plead in his interest for leave to receive grants instead of a salary. He was indirectly, through third parties, seeking an official approval of his administration. He had a most faithful advocate and mediator in Richard Partridge, son of a lieutenant-governor of New Hampshire, whose sister Mary was Belcher’s wife. An extract from a letter of the governor to William Sharp, clerk of the privy council, is highly characteristic of him. After asserting that he has satisfied his intractable Assembly, and that nothing will move him from his duty in a strict adherence to his master’s royal orders, being aware that efforts are making to displace him, he shrewdly adds: “ As I am a native of this country, and have been for fifteen years past concerned in the government, I don’t suppose his Majesty could have committed his royal commission to any gentleman besides that could have managed so stiffe a people as these are ; but I am so well knowing of their humour and circumstances that they have not been able to impose upon me, or to make those evasions they might have done with a stranger.”

The governor appears to the best advantage — though even here subject to some qualifications — in the many long letters to his son, above referred to, in England. This was his second son, Jonathan junior, to whom he was warmly attached, and of whose advancement he was very hopeful. When just of age, he went, in 1731, to study in the Temple, under the charge of his uncle Partridge, and seems to have had good principles and purposes. The father was equally generous in providing him with funds and importunate in his ghostly and Scriptural counsels for the son’s religious principles and observances ; advising him as to his choice of companions, his division of time for study, for recreation, and for acquiring graceful accomplishments. He was to cultivate patrons who would advance him in the world. There is a Chesterfieldian tone mingling with the religious counsels of these parental epistles. The son is warned that, living amid the thousand temptations of London, he must pray to be kept " from the snares and pollutions of a deluding devil and an alluring world ; ” and that “ although it be lawful, nay it is a duty, to be prospecting and aiming at the best line and character in life, yet we know we come into this world only to act a probationary part for eternity.” The son was very early and hasty in his purpose of matrimony, which the father was urgent to postpone till he was sure of an advantageous match. He writes: “ When it may be a proper opportunity for you to marry, I think Mr. Samuel Reed’s daughter of Hackney is a fine young lady (I think about twelve), of an honorable family by the mother. I suppose has and will have a good education, and as I remember of good sense and a fortune rather overgrown. A sober man and a good lawyer will go a great way, if you can attain to ’em.” But the son was to find a wife in Boston in 1750, before his father died. He was also, young as he was, bent upon parting with a fine head of hair and donning a wig. Against this the father, though himself heavily bewigged, remonstrated. When, notwithstanding, the father learned that the son, at twenty-three, had the wig, he wrote, “ I hope you are pleased with the new covering upon your head, tho’ I am still of opinion that nothing will ever so well become you as what you have taken from it.” The son resided some time at Cambridge, England, and the university admitted him, as an A. M. at Harvard, ad eundem. His father, as well as himself, was earnest for a parliamentary membership, and would generously have met the expense of an election, but the purpose failed. The son spent largely beyond his sufficient allowance, for which he was severely upbraided by his father. After some successful practice in England, the son was made lieutenant-governor, and then chief justice, of Nova Scotia, dying in office in 1776.

His own abundant means, acquired by inheritance and in mercantile life, enabled the governor, in conformity with the luxurious habits and formal parade of the gentry of his time, to display in equipage, dress, and lavish hospitality. He writes to his son in 1733: “ I am in great want of a footman that can shave, dress a wigg, and do all things about a gentleman. Let him be a Dissenter, sober and honest if you can ; but one I must have, the best you can get. For my servants are all free and set up for themselves.” We trespass on the secrets between the governor and his tailor by copying the following letter. He sent it in a letter to his brother, in which he had written : “ It is now about three years since I made my cloathing at London (nor have I had a rag since my arrival), and they are now grown old and out of fashion. I must therefore, for the King’s honour and my own, have some new against the spring.” The letter is dated January, 1733.


I have desired my brother, Mr. Partridge, to get me some cloaths made, and that you should make them, and have sent him the yellow grogram [a fabric of silk and mohair] suit you made me at London; but those you make now must be two or three inches longer and as much bigger. Let ’em be workt strong, as well as neat and curious. I believe Mr. Harris in Spittlefields (of whom I had the last) will let you have the grogram as good and cheap as any body. The other suit to be of a very good silk. I have sometimes thought a rich damask would do well, or some good thick silk, such as may be the Queen’s birthday fashion, but I don’t like padisway. It must be a substantial silk, because you 'll see I have ordered it to be trimm’d rich, and I think a very good white shagrine will be the best lining. I say, let it be a handsome compleat suit, and two pair of breeches to each suit. I hope Mr. Belcher of the Temple is your customer, and that he don’t dishonour his father. I am, Sir,

Your ready friend, J. B.

Governor Belcher married, in New Jersey, as a second wife, a widow from London, and his oldest son, Andrew, married her daughter by a former husband. A year before Belcher was commissioned as governor of Massachusetts, he had purchased a large estate in Milton, on which he had built a fine mansion, though not as stately as he had planned, for a summer residence. It was to have a tree-lined avenue, fifty feet or more in width and an eighth of a mile long, so accurately adjusted that visitors, at the entrance of the avenue, might “ see the gleam of his gold kneebuckles ” as he stood on his piazza to receive them. The son, Andrew, having died in 1771, his widow and her mother, the governor’s widow, were living in this house when it was destroyed by fire in January, 1776, the ladies finding refuge in a carriage in a barn. The younger widow returned to London after the death of her mother.

In the letter to his son, already quoted, the governor, asking for a footman to be sent over, says that his servants were “ all free and set up for themselves.” It seems that at least one slave whom he afterwards had tried to do the same. In May, 1740, this slave ran away. The advertisement of him enables us to compare his costume with that of his master from a London tailor: “ The Governor’s Negro Juba having absented himself, it is desired whoever may find him would convey him home. He had on when he went away a Gold laced Hat, a Cinnamon colored Coat with large flat brass buttons, and cuffed with red Cloth, a dark colored Waist-coat edged with a worked Lace, leather Breeches, yarn Stockings, a pair of trimmed Pumps, with a very large pair of flowered Brass Buckles.”

George Edward Ellis.

“ Thy name unites
Thy prince’s honors and thy people’s rights.
Go, Belcher, go ! Assume thy glorious sway.
Faction expires, and Boston longs t’ obey.”
  1. In some congratulatory verses which his intimate friend, Dr. Isaac Watts, addressed to Belcher after he had received his commission, the poet wrote : —