493 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Aug 18. 1766

    My Lords

    I hereby transmit to your Lordships an Account of a Seizure made at Falmouth by the Officers there & a Rescue of the goods made the same day by a number of people in the face of the whole Town; and also of the Measures taken by the Advice of Council for the discovering the Offenders & recovering the goods. I inclose with this a Copy of the Letter of the Officers giving their Account of the transaction, the Minutes of Council thereupon, & the proclamation issued in pursuance thereof, together with a Letter wrote in Council, directing the Justices of peace in the neighbourhood to meet together & enquire into this Affair.

    As often as any Seizures are made in this province, in its present state, so often shall I have a proclamation of this kind to issue, which is now become a meer farce of Government; since no one dares to discover or prosecute the offenders, if they were so disposed; and indeed the Offenders are some times, as in this case, the greatest part of the Town. Formerly a Rescue was an accidental or occasional Affair; now, it is the Natural & certain Consequence of a Seizure, & the Effect of a predetermined Resolution that the Laws of Trade shall not be executed.

    Soon after Advice of the repeal of the Stamp Act, Mr Otis in a speech at a Town Meeting said that the Merchants were fools if they submitted to any restrictions of their Trade laid upon them by the British Parliament.1 And I have, since that, been assured again & again2 that the Common talk was that no more seizures should be made in this Town. Some of the Custom house Officers here have told me that, if they had ever so certain an information they would not attempt to make a seizure; since it would only serve to expose their Offices ^& person^ to contempt & danger, without any probability of detaining the goods. The same talk prevailed at Falmouth before this Rescue; And the Officers have been expostulated with upon the folly of showing their Weakness by such attempts.

    These are the Consequences of the general weakness of the Government, which is become a meer shadow. I expect to have frequent occasion to repeat to your Lordship that this Government is not like by any internal powers of its own to recover itself from the great blow it has lately received. The popular Leaders have laboured so successfully, that the Very principles of the common people are changed; & they now form to themselves pretensions & expectations which had never entered into their heads a year ^or two^ ago.

    I am, with great respect, My Lords Your Lordship’s most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra. Bernard

    The Right honble the Lords Commissioners for Trade.

    ALS, RC      CO 5/892, ff 109-110