537 | To the Earl of Shelburne

    Boston, Feb 28, 1767.

    No 8

    My Lord,

    I should have communicated that part of your Lordship’s letter No 2,1 which relates to the Riot at Falmouth, to the general Court at the same time I did the other part, if it had not been for two considerations. 1. The one is that evry Communication that I make to the house, is, if possible, perverted to the purpose of inflammation, of which your Lordship has now before you fresh instances in the most innocent & inoffensive expressions. 2. As this might be improved to that purpose, so there is no likelyhood that it could produce any good effect: for there is not the least probability that the present Majority of the House would assist the Government in the Support of Laws, which some of the chief Leaders have publickly declared to be unjust & injurious. They know very well that these proceedings are like to be resented, by accounts just received of what has been said in the House of Commons. And Common Discretion would dictate to the Legislature to join in a prosecution of these rioters in order to exculpate the Province in general. But Discretion has very little influence in the Councils of the ruling party, some of whom seem rather to Court or defy consequences than endeavour to avert them. All considerations that should have weight at this time, seem to be swallowed up in the self importance of particulars, which having been created by popular fermentation, must be maintained by preventing its subsiding.2

    From my former letters upon this subject, it will appear that I did evrything I could to bring these Offenders to justice. But nothing has been done, nor did I expect anything would to real purpose. I have seen one of the Justices to whom this Business was committed,3 who lives in the Town, & asked him why they had not reported to me what they had done pursuant to the Order. He says there4 has been nothing done to make a report of. He owns that the People are well known; but it is not the business of Magistrates to turn informers, & issue Warrants without Complaints. I told this to the Collector: he says they (the Colltr & Comptr)5 were ready to give informations;6 but the Justices would not meet for that purpose. So that all I learn is that neither one nor the other chuses to be concerned in prosecuting this Affair, which, if strictly enquired into, would involve great part of the Town. Both this & the Riot at Boston are prosecutable in the Court of admiralty. I tell the Custom house Officers so, & direct them to the advocate general. But they dont dare do any thing for fear of the Survr genl, who is no friend to prosecutions of any kind, & sure to be inimical to those Officers who regard what I say.

    I shall be allways attentive to what your Lordship shall direct concerning my Conduct in these dangerous & critical Times: & I can assure your Lordship that it will not be influenced by any private resentment of mine. I hope that my Caution & Moderation have allready so distinguished me from my Opponents,7 as to give me some title to your Lordship’s Confidence. Among the Means I make use of to put an end to the present Animosities, are frequent Declarations of my own Resolution to govern myself entirely by public considerations, & no other. The Want of Moderation is wholly on the side of the Opposition. The party has never yet met with a Check; & they persuade themselves that they have the Government at their Mercy. And so they will have effectually, if they keep up their power to the next Election of Councellors. It is possible that the friends of Government may recover their Authority before that time: but it does not appear at all promising at present. I shall neglect no Opportunity to bring about so happy an Event, if there shall be any Opening for it. The next Election of Representatives will determine it: I shall improve the Changes that shall be made to the best purposes I can.

    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 5/756, ff 59-60.