531 | To the Earl of Shelburne

    No 4


    Boston Janry. 24th 1767

    My Lord,

    There are a set of Politicians in this Town, who are the genuine descendants of the Faction, which drove Govr Shute (the best natured & most inoffensive Man living) out of the Province;2 which broke the heart of Govr Burnet3 (a man exemplary4 for all the qualifications requisite to a Governor); which got Govr Belcher displaced (whose chief foibles arose from his Attachment to this his Country, & its prejudices) by insinuating matters against him, the falsity of which appeared allmost before the Ink of his dismission was dry.5 This Faction, like a Body corporate, is still the same, altho’ it consists of different persons, & in general of Men of a lower rank of life from those who first composed it.6 They take to themselves the merit of their Predecessors & reckon the driving away, killing,7 & ruining the three first Governors since the Hannoverian Accession, among their own exploits, & produce them as Arguments for the Measure of their present power. To these pretensions, the displacing Govr Shirley upon other accounts,8 the short stay of Govr Pownall,9 & the Clamour raised against me upon Account of the Stamp Act have contributed much; & have induced them to believe themselves, & to persuade others, that It is in their power to displace any Governor against whom they can raise a popular cry. When once the flame is made to burn, it is easy to supply it with fresh fuell, & blow it up with popular breath. It signifies nothing whether the Governor is good or bad, faulty or blameless; if it can but be contrived to make him appear obnoxious to the People, his Business is done. Truth & Justice, Innocence & merit must be sacrificed to what shall seem to be the Voice of the People. This is the political System of the present faction by which it directs its operations against the Government.

    In this Junto Mr Otis deservedly presides & by his superior powers of inflaming & distracting an infatuated ^people^ is become the director of the whole. To the original System of humbling the Government & weakening its Authority, by constant opposition to the Governor & making his Seat uneasy & precarious, he has added a malicious, virulent, & unrelenting animosity against the persons employed in the Government, among which the Governor and Lieut Governor are principal Objects, as well from the Supereminency of their Stations, as from particular Offence taken at their conduct upon private & selfinterested considerations. Without this union of popular politicks with private revenge; It is impossible to account for the ruin which was brought upon the Lieut Governor. For after the Junto has caused execution to be done upon Mr Oliver, Evrything necessary for obstructing the Stamp Act was compleated: and there was no pretence for the second insurrection upon that account; nor the shadow of a reason to charge any one of those who suffered in it with the stamp Act. On the contrary, the Lieut Governor was known to have given the Testimony of his Opinion against it. The Direction of the Mob against the Lieut Governor must have arose, chiefly, if not wholly, from private Malice: there was no public or popular cause to induce it, at least none adequate to the fury with which it was pursued. It is most probable that many of those who were concerters of the first insurrection, were not privy to the Design of the latter. But, that the latter was directed by persons superior to the Agents themselves, is plain: for the Agents, who were chiefly the same in both, were plainly meer Tools. And tho’ the Cruelty of the Execution may be supposed to have exceeded the political purposes of it (if Politics had any considerable Share in the design) they probably did not the Malicious Intention. And as a personal Resentment against the Lieut Govr had been openly professed, upon principles of private Animosity, It is very fair (without penetrating into the Secrets of the Cabinet) to impute that inhuman Treatment of him to such professed Resentment: especially when the Resenter & the popular Conductor is the same person.

    When a stop was put to this devastation, The Faction turned itself to a kind of persecution, more cruel & more general than that which was directed against persons & houses; I mean the destroying Characters & Reputations. In this kind of ruin, allmost evry valuable Man in the Province has been involved more or less; as I have in a former letter more particularly informed your Lordship: at present I shall only take Notice of this, so far as it relates to myself. As the professed Design of the Faction is to drive me out of the Government either by making me tired of my Seat, or represented as offensive to the people, A Newspaper has for these 16 months10 been constantly employed in the Abuse of me & my friends. And as they have not been able to find out any material Charge against my administration, (except the grand one, my endeavouring to support the Authority ^of parliament^, which has long ago been sufficiently hackneyed) they fill their papers with little dirty improbable lies. This practice for some time was successful, as, by my making it a rule upon no account to suffer myself to be drawn into a Newspaper controversy, & private persons being deterred from writing on the side of the Government, they met with no contradiction. But a writer having started up who has exposed the falsehood of their Stories one by one,11 they have been of late disgraced by this practice, & seem at present not disposed to venture at letting off any more lies; since they are now sure of being detected. These People are grown barefaced & quite impudent in their defiance of truth & Justice. One of them being asked why they treated the Governor with such unwarrantable Abuse, answered that “they wanted to get him out.” __ “And why would you have him out? do you expect to have a better in his room?” __ “I dont know that we shall: but he has been Governor above 6 years; which is long enough. Frequent Removals of Governors intimidate the Successors, & keep them in order.” Another of the Faction, a Drawer12 in the House, & a writer in the Newspapers, said to a friend of the Governors “I really believe that when we part with this Governor we shall not get so good a one again.” __ “Why then wont you be quiet with him?” __ “He has lost the confidence of our Seat” (the Members for Boston) “and it is not to be recovered.” These are real Conversations. And yet this Party who is to remove Governors, in order to keep the Government in awe, is not an hundredth part of the gentlemen of Boston, & allmost all of them rather under the middle rank of Life. Such is the Despotism which is founded upon the Basis of an inflamed & infatuated Populace.

    I am obliged in evry letter I write upon this subject, to bespeak your Lordships indulgence. Where13 I am tedious, I endeavour to be perspicuous; Where I seem trifling, I consider that the Characters & Designs of Men are best discovered by little Circumstances. In evry thing I endeavour to observe the truth; & evry Relation of sayings or Conversations has been confirmed to me in such a manner, as to leave no room to doubt the truth of it. My general Observations upon the State of the Government are the Sentiments of some of the Wisest & best men in the Government. And yet I could wish that the Credit of these representations should not rest upon me alone. But at this time, I could not ask persons whose fortunes are fixed in this Province to let me make use of their names. I consider myself as not free from danger from what I write: But I trust to truth & the King’s protection. There is one Kind of Confirmation which I am assured my Representations will receive; which is from the Conduct of the faction itself at the next Session, which is to open next week. I am so well acquainted with the Violence of their Passions, the Wickedness of their Intentions & the total destitution of moderation & even common discretion, which their late Triumphs have caused; that I am morally certain that they will show themselves to be what they are represented; and, what with deception, inflamation, & intimidation, make the machinations of a Junto, which would not fill a large parlor, appear as the Sentiments of a great & truly valuable People. For my own part, I shall give them fair play; & persevere in the conduct I observed last Session, of not saying one word to them, which they can lay hold of. I shall chuse rather to put up with insults (which I am to expect, whilst these leaders keep up their power) than enter into a dispute, where Truth & Candour is banished, & Chicanery & Falsehood substituted in their place. And upon all disputed points, I shall reserve my own Justification for his Majesty’s Councils, to which only I am answerable for my public administration.

    I am with great Respect, My Lord, Your Lordships most obedient, and most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Earl of Shelburne.

    ALS, RC      CO 5/756, ff 39-42.