Trent and Wells, eds. Colonial Prose and Poetry. 1901.
Vol. III. The Growth of the National Spirit: 17101775
BENJAMIN CHURCH was a man of mixed fame, but it is quite plain that he was one of the ablest characters of his generation. He was born at Newport in 1734, graduated at Harvard in 1754 and studied medicine in London, three years later (1757), published his poem The Choice in the manner of Pomfret, established quite a literary reputation, and soon rose to considerable eminence as a physician in Boston. He also dabbled in politics, and like his friend, Samuel Adams, contributed numerous articles to the periodicals. He took the patriotic side at first, as in his strong satire The Times (1765); but though talented, was unscrupulous, and he offered secretly to sell his services to the Tories. His real character not being known, he was chosen to deliver the patriotic oration in the Old South Meeting House on the victims of the Boston Massacre. He was a leader in the Boston Tea Party, and was made Surgeon General and Director of Hospitals by the Provincial Congress (1775). Soon afterwards his treasonable correspondence with the British was discovered, and. he was sentenced to imprisonment for life; but falling sick in prison, he was finally allowed to leave the country. He embarked in 1776 for the West Indies, but the ship in which he sailed was never heard from. His facile reputation soon declined, and his talents hardly to-day receive their due praise, although this, forsooth, is not superlative.