Chapter 9

    Governor Bernard and Governor Hutchinson

    When governor bernard went to England in 1769, Lieut. Gov. Hutchinson succeeded to the Chair.

    These two Gentlemen had the misfortune to be in the Seat of Government in very difficult times, when the Authority of the British Parliament was disputed and denied, and the Constitution of the Colony over which they presided did not give them authority sufficient to inforce obedience to the Laws of Great Britain.

    In respect to their abilities, and liberal [139] endowments, they had few equals in America, and none exceeded them in their regard to the true interest of the Province, and in their desires, and endeavours, to promote the real happiness of the People. Yet, no two Gentlemen have been more abused.

    Designing men, taking advantage of the temper of the times, made use of every art to inflame the minds of the People, and prejudice them against their Governors, and Government. Wrought into consequence as the Leaders of faction, contention became necessary to the support of that consequence. And from the [140] liberty of the press, the most illiberal, malicious, and unjust accusations against the most respectable Characters in Office were propagated, and from the credulity of the People received as truth.

    Sir Francis Bernard was bred a Civilian, was an exceeding good Classic Scholar, and had a fine taste in Musick, and Architecture. As a friend, a neighbour, and companion, no one was more easy and agre[e]able, without ostentation or ceremony, he lived with ease with his friends, told a thousand good Stories, and every body [141] was pleased and happy in his Society. He was perhaps too open and communicative. A person of less abilities and merit than himself, with more address, art, and intrigue, might have succeeded better. He perhaps was not sufficiently disguised, and did not practise enough the courtly manner and courtly arts, for one in his Station.

    There is often a thin layer of Gold, or Silver, with a high polish, over a base metal; but that which is pure, though less Shining, will last longer. And men, conscious of their own worth and integrity, often despise those little arts [142] which the worthless and vain make use of, to carry their designs.

    Governor Bernard’s letters on the Trade and Government of America, and the Principles of Law, and Polity, applied to the American Colonies[,] shew his great abilities, his liberal Sentiments, and attachment to the real interest of both Countries.61

    Governor Hutchinson was a native of Boston. He was a Gentleman of great natural abilities, much cultivated and improved by reading and Study. He had made himself master of several [143] Languages and had acquired a thorough knowledge of the Laws of his Country, though he had never practised at the Bar. He had filled several Offices of honor in the State, and the Province is greatly indebted to his assiduity, and virtuous resolution, in being rid of a pernicious paper Currency, which laid the foundation of that credit and opulence it now enjoys.

    When he came to the Chair he was Chief Justice of the Province, in which Character he had acquired the greatest reputation, as a Judicious Lawyer, and an honest Man. [144] And in the Office of Judge of Probates he proved his great integrity, benevolence, and humanity: attending with temper and patience to the most laborious business, and giving his Council and advice freely to the Widow and the Orphan. In his manners he was most gentle, and amiable. Though his opinion was respected by all, and everyone acknowledged the superiority of his Judgment, yet he always expressed himself with the modesty of a Young Man, and drew a reverence to the Sentiment, by the manner in which it was delivered. [145]

    If we may judge from events, it may be lamented that Mr. Hutchinson succeeded to the Government; as it is generally imagined that the Ministry delayed taking rigorous measures with the Americans, from the hopes which he gave them, of his being able to accommodate matters by lenient means. He certainly had too good an opinion of his Countrymen; and perhaps too great a confidence in his own arts of persuasion, in his own ability to reduce their turbulent Spirits, to Order and Government.62

    Could a prudent, a temperate American, look upon what the Leaders of the People had then in view, but as the height of folly, and madness? Could any one conceive to what desperate resolutions Republican fanaticism will lead a people, ‘till he saw the revolt of the Provinces of New England, and their avowing rebellion, and attempting an independency? [146]