451 | To John Pownall

    Boston, March 10, 1766

    Dr Sir.

    You seem surprized at my Uneasiness in my present situation: it is not easy to describe how unpleasant it has been for some Months past. And yet I never had a thought of quitting my post at the utmost Extremity: that I have been able to maintain it, has exceeded the Expectation of me & my friends. It is but a few days ago, that a Gentleman of Experience told, He had wondered at Nothing more, than that my Speech of the 25th of Septr had met with no other resentment than literary abuse. And I myself wonder that I am now here clear from all Acts (as I trust I am) derogatory of my Office & infractory of my Duty.

    And yet I fear that the Worst is not over. I am apprehensive that this Government will not be restored to its Authority without some Convulsion; especially if extraordinary means, as they seem to be unavoidable necessary,1 should be used for that purpose. Towards the End of our last Session, The Speaker of the House (a prudent man, & in principle a friend to Government, tho’ he now gives way to the times) said at my Table, in the presence of many Members of the House, all assenting thereto, that this Government would not recover itself again in 20 Years; meaning undoubtedly by its own internal powers: & if he had said never, he would not have exceeded the Truth.2 These unconstitutional Governments3 do very well, whilst the People are kept in good Humour: but whenever anything happens to cross them, then the Errors & defects of the Original formation become apparent. Connecticut now affords the greatest proof of this, of any Colony on the Continent.

    Whilst this Government is in this critical Situation, & I am so intrested in the Restoration of its Authority, & in the manner in which it is done, can you blame me for thinking or desiring to go home, not by desertion of my post, (for that was never thought of but as a submission avoidable by no other means) but by Order for that purpose? In my Letter to you of Novr 1st, 8th,4 I dwell too much upon my quitting my Station without orders: but you must consider the distraction of the public at the Time that Letter was wrote & the hurry of mind I must be in at the time of writing it, & allow the Explanation I have since given that it was not my Intention to quit my post, whilst I could possibly keep it.5 But as to my desire of going home by ordr of the King, I have not departed from that: for tho’ upon frequent deliberation, many objections to it occur, I conclude upon a ballance of the whole that it would be for the King’s Service, & I hope for my benefit.

    As I cannot quit this place, without leaving the Lt Govr behind me, I have been waiting for his Resolution; as he received advice of his having leave to go home about the time the disturbances begun. I would have had him gone home abt the soon after his house was destroyed; & I proposed writing by him to desire that he might return in Summer with Special Instructions for Government; & that I might be permitted after his return to quit the Chair & go to England myself to return to England ^Boston^ within a Year. But this could not be complyed with; the Arguments against his going to England at such a time & upon such an occasion being very forcible. Since that Time untill lately, He could come to no resolution, Since that time untill lately not knowing but that he might be advised from London, that it was necessary for him to be in person to sollicit a Compensation for his Losses. But no such advise having come & the Winter wearing away apace, It was agreed at our last Conference, that I should write to the Secretary of State to propose that one of us two, whichever should be thought proper, should be ordered home against next Winter, to report the State of the Province; & the Lt Govr should remain here, untill the Kings pleasure should be known, which of us should attend. I have accordingly wrote a Letter to go with this; a Copy whereof, for your Judgement, I shall enclose in the Cover of this.

    I believe neither of us is very earnest in obtaining the preference upon this occasion:6 there are objections to the Voyage as well as inducements to it. The Expence is a considerable object with both; & more so to me, if attended with a defalcation of my Salary. The being made chargeable by the people, right or wrong, with the measures, that shall be taken to reform the Government, is another Objection, which weighs heaviest with the Lt Govr, & is not a matter of indifference to me. On the other hand, the Necessity of obtaining if possible, a certain & adequate civil List, & the Expedience of rescuing the King’s Council, as they are called, from the hands of the People, would make me & the Lt Govr not grudge a little Expence & Trouble, & submit to some abuse; especially as we & the Rest of the King’s Officers shall be thereby put out of the Reach of popular Resentment & Penuriousness: which must be done, if you would have a royal Government continued here.

    For myself, Let me not be thought vain, when I assure you that it has been common for some of the chief promoters & abettors of the present troubles to declare their Opinions, that if they Lose me, they shall never have so good a Governor again. The great Leviathan himself (Otis I mean) has frequently & lately given his Testimony of the Equity & Mildness of my administration;7 at the same time he was doing all he could to embarras & distress it. And it is remarkable that tho’ his Press has for six months teamed with Libells of me, It has not been able to charge me with anything, but being a friend to the Stamp Act; for which no other proof is brought, but my asserting the Right of the Parliament to make Laws for the American Colonies, & my Refusing to concur in any measures for doing public Business contrary to such Laws. It is also observable that in the Answers of the House of Representatives to my Speeches in Septr & Novr,8 altho’ they express their displeasure at my Conduct in regard to the Act of Parliament, there is not the least Hint of any other Complaint, they have against me; altho’ in my second Speech I make a Kind of Defiance to that purpose. Since then I shan’t be left to the Mercy of these people for my administration, nor to their Generosity for my pay.

    I cannot but consider the present time as critical to my fortunes; & therefore am apt to wish that I was on the Spot, where they are put in the ballance; as possibly I might be able to fling some little weight into my own Scale. Possibly there may be some new Arrangement of this Country, which may afford me a Station of more ease, tho’ less dignity than my present. I should be glad to be in the King’s pay: at present I am the hardest worked & the worst pd of any Royal Governor on the Continent. I have also some little Expectancies to sollicit which I will not mention now. It would give me much pleasure to take a Look at my friends after 8 years absence: but I put this out of the Question as much as I can. All these are Considerations which make me breath a wish towards England. But I would not be gratified in it but with the approbation of my friends, to whose Judgement I refer the whole Business: & I put it into your Hands as a chief of them, desiring that you would dispose of me as you think of me would be for [the?]9 best, I shall write to Mr Jackson nobody on this Subject but Mr Jackson, whom I shall desire to communicate with you.10 I am with great Respect & Gratitude, &c.

    J Pownall Esqr.

    AL, LbC      BP, 5: 86-90.