506 | To the Earl of Shelburne

    Boston Oct 12 1766

    My Lord

    I beg leave to lay before your Lordship a Copy of a Petition which the Judge of the Court of Admiralty of this Province has prepared to present to the Lords of the Treasury, as he has also a petition of the same tenor to the Lords of the Admiralty, and to recommend the subject Matter to your Lordships consideration as Very intresting to his Majesty’s Service. I am well acquainted with some of the principal Allegations of the petition & the reasonableness of the deductions drawn therefrom; and I have at divers times by sevral of my letters to the Secretaries of State & to the Lords of trade recommended the prayer of this Petition as a Measure necessary to his Majesty’s Service. This I have done of my own accord, without the privity of the Judge, & from a principle of duty: Being strictly charged with the Supervisal of the Execution of the Laws of Trade I thought myself obliged to point out where the provision for that purpose was deficient.

    My Lord, The Court of Admiralty is the Palladium of the American Laws of Trade: The Reasons which induced the parliament in King Williams time to commit the inforcement of the Laws of Trade to the Court of Admiralty are so far from being weaken’d by time, that they are stronger now than they were when they were first used. The fatal Melasses Act, which above 30 years ago had its commencement in Connivance & Corruption, introduced a Spirit of illegal trading, to subdue which is a Business now to be done, which will require great Assiduity & Nice Management. Untill that Spirit is in a great degree broken, the Sole Dependence for the Execution of the Laws of trade must be upon the Court of Admiralty. How expedient then must it be that that Court should be supported by all proper means, among which an Adequate payment of its Officers is most obvious.

    As for the Gentleman He is of an established Character for Integrity & so respectable in his Country, that He has been many years a Judge of the Superior Court by a provincial Appointment. His known Veracity will not admit of a doubt of the Account he gives of the profits of his Office. The Charge against the Office for its being supported by a poundage upon Condemned goods has been frequently reported by me as an Objection which ought to be removed. There seems to be no doubt of the expediency of making the Appointment desired but in regard to the fund it shall be charged upon. The Propriety of charging it upon the American Duties, has this further Reason to support it; that such Appointment will really tend to augment the Revenue, as the Neglect of supporting this Office must certainly have the contrary Effect.

    For these reasons I humbly recommend Mr Russel’s Case to your Lordship: I understand He will wait upon you himself: Your Lordship will thereby have an Opportunity to inform yourself of the State of this Country from a Very honest & intelligent Native of it.

    I am, with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Earl of Shelburne

    ALS, RC      CO 5/755, ff 821-824.