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Volume 662, Page 104   View pdf image (33K)
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104 HIS LORDSHIP'S PATRONAGE

politics of his time, retained office through his native tact, for
Charles, Lord Baltimore, left him reasonable freedom of action.
Horatio Sharpe, though he encountered less opposition, was so
handicapped by the meddling of Frederick and Cecilius that it
was with difficulty he retained his post for sixteen years.

In sum then, offices of profit were numerous in Maryland, and
many of them were valuable. What was the effect of such an
arrangement? The answer, though it lies outside the scope of
this work, may at least be here suggested. The system made
government expensive. It produced envy and political controversy.
It drew His Lordship into constantly less effectual efforts to
purchase friends and buy off opponents. It provided a handy
grievance for the discontented and a ready argument for those who
opposed proprietary government. It was a bad system: bad for
the people because it cost them money; bad for the proprietary
because it taught the people to despise him. It benefitted no one
but the members of an inner circle who for several generations
were well paid for doing very little.

And yet in a way the system was defensible. They were well
paid for doing very little. And so they got their fingers into every
pie, put out their money where it would do them good, and built
substantial fortunes. Which meant they could also put up fine
houses, gather libraries, and improve their leisure. It meant they
could handily civilize what had been a wilderness. It meant they
could create in Annapolis one of the loveliest and most urbane
little cities in His Majesty's dominions. For culturally speaking
Maryland reached an early and graceful maturity, which could
not so readily have been attained had not a few people been well
paid for doing very little.

So, like most schemes of our devising, the system was a bad one
and yet a good one: it all depends on values and on the point of
view.


 

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