436 | To Henry Seymour Conway

    Boston Jan 23 1766


    In my letter of the 21st inst. by which I acknowledged the receipt of your honors letter of Oct 24,1 I was obliged to be shorter than I should otherwise have been by my being informed that the Ship which was to carry it was ready to sail. But that having been prevented, I have an Opportunity of making this addition.

    It would give me the greatest pleasure imaginable to be able to restore peace & tranquillity to this Province by lenient Methods.2 It is allways uppermost in my thoughts; and I shall eagerly catch at the first Opportunity which shall offer for that purpose. But I must own, that there is little or no prospect of this at present. The persons who originated these mischeifs & now preside over & direct the Opposition to Great Britain are so wicked & desperate, & the common people, whom they have poisoned are so mad & infatuated,3 that I fear there will [be] no submission untill there is a subjection. Not that I apprehend Any great difficulty in the latter business: It is true, the people here occasionally talk Very high of the power of this People to resist Great Britain, but it is all talk. Whenever the parliament have determined what submission they require, & expressed their resolution to enforce it; The taking possession of 2 or 3 principal Towns & Ports will determine the contest.

    And thus much of apparent Hostility will be unavoidable to some places. The City of New York has gone much beyond this Town in absurdity of politicks, declarations of intention to resist & acts of mischeif: For which The inclosed extracts from one single Newspaper will give full proof. 1 A System of politicks, which has often appeared in New York papers & no where else originally, the principal Rule of which is that the Colonies are no otherwise related to Great Britain but by having the same King.4 2 A meeting of the Sons of Liberty, wherein it was resolved that they will go to the last extremity, ^with lives & fortunes,^ to prevent the Stamp Act.5 3 The Actually taking out of a Ship 10 boxes of stamps6 & burning them.7 Where such Principles & Practices prevail a forcible subjection is unavoidable, let it cost ^what it will^. I mention this to show that there is more reason to expect an Opposition to the King’s Forces at New York than at Boston. Here it is at the most but doubtful: how I should be glad that the Forces when they come might be respectable enough not to encourage resistance; a small force might have that effect.

    As this is the Case of the two Provinces, in the Capital of one an opposition to the Kings Forces assured, & in the Capital of the other probable, I conceive that neither of the Governors will be fond of calling in the Kings forces in small parcells, but will rather wait for their coming, in sufficient quantity, by superior order. For my own part I do not know that two companies would be opposed or that two regiments would not: it is just as their highmightinesses are pleased & the Quicksilver of their Barometer shall rise or fall. But I should be glad that when they are taught that they have a superior, they may know it effectually. A very little Reason would Convince them that they could not hold out against Great Britain many months: but Reason has nothing to do with their Resolutions. When I was in the greatest distress, Genl Gage was so kind as to send his aid de Camp over, who put into my hands orders for 100 men from Halifax, which were to be draughted from sevral posts. I kept these orders in my hands, but made no use of them: for I chose rather to remain in the power of the people, than be defended against them by 100 men only.8 I shall therefore be glad to wait, if I can, for orders & forces from England; and I hope that New York as well upon account of its superior rank & greater professions of resistance, as of its being the headquarters, will have the honor of being subdued first: it may save some trouble in the same business here.

    I had a select Council last Evning9 to advise in what manner I had best communicate your honor’s letter to the Assembly: when they were unanimously of Opinion that it would be better to send an extract of it, than to report the substance of it in Words of my own. I also advised with them in regard to directions I had received from the Lords of the Treasury that I should see that the stamped papers were distributed, untill a distributor was appointed.10 They all agreed that it would be very dangerous for me at present to discover the least intention of ordering a distribution of the stamps: but, as I urged the necessity of my making it known that I had such a power, they settled a cautious form of words, wherewith I should communicate this to the Assembly. I accordingly this Morning sent a Message to both houses upon these Subjects.11 How it has been received I do not know: it may possibly have some good effect. But I have so long despaired of any good effect from remonstrances, till the madness of the people has taken a turn, that I cannot promise any good success, even from this Expostulation, forcible & unanswerable as it is. If there should be any opening to produce a change, I shall not fail to improve it.

    I am obliged to conclude this letter that the Ship may not wait if the Wind is fair tomorrow.

    I am, with great respect, Sr Your Honors most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra. Bernard

    The Right Honble H. S. Conway Esqr

    P.S. I send the whole Newspaper having markt the passages referred to.12

    ALS, RC      CO 5/755, ff 467-472.