550 | To the Earl of Shelburne

    No 16.

    Boston, June 6, 1767.

    My Lord

    By my letter No 15,1 I informed your Lordship of the opening of the new general Assembly & the proceedings thereon. I have now to transmit a Copy of the Answer of the House to my Speech, with a short account of the circumstances which attended the passing it.2 The Business of preparing an Answer was, as usual, committed chiefly to Men of the opposing party; & it was done accordingly. When it was reported to the house, evry Paragraph was examined; & one of them, which was most obnoxious, as it contained a Threat of impeaching me for exercising the constitutional power of interposing my Negative in the Election of Councellors, was rejected by a considerable Majority.

    Another Paragraph, which I have marked in the Copy,3 was also rejected upon a Vote: but the Party seeing some of their People come in afterwards, got the Question put again & just carried it by one Voice. It is of no consequence; being only brought in, to draw from me a reply, which might afterwds be improved for the purposes of disputation or abuse. But I shall take no notice of it, but leave the refutation of it to its own impropriety & insidiousness.

    The chief Advantage of this Controversy is the Evidence which it affords of the encrease of the strength of the friends of Government. In these Questions, Many voted & some Spoke on the part of the Government who used to be reckoned on the other side. The Government-party has received some accession by Elections, particularly of one very able Advocate, whom I have just now appointed4 attorney general,5 who had not a Seat in the House before. But they seem to be gaining more by the change of the Minds of Men, who begin to be tired of Altercation, & apprehensive of the Consequences of what has allready past: And as they now seem to have near an Equality with the faction, The Weight of Reputation & Ability, which is much on their side, will probably soon gain them the Superiority; especially if the faction should receive a reprimand from home.

    We must wait for a reconciliation with the generality of the Party till it can be brought on with safety & Dignity to the Crown: the more it is hurried, the more it will be at the Expence of Government. A Representative said in the House that I had declared that I would never suffer the Seats of the Lt Govr & Sec’ry in Council to be filled by any but themselves; & this he said was using an undue influence over the Election. I did say so, & I think in duty to the King I ought to adhere to that purpose. I admit that it will create an influence; but I deny that it is undue Influence: The Governor as a third part of the general Court has a share in the appointment of Councellors, & his part lies in his Negative only. This must be intended to influence the subsequent Elections, or else it is no use at all, & the Governor6 has no share in the Elections at all

    Govr Dudley (the second Govr after the last Charter) at the first Election negatived 5 of the elected. He sent up for the House & told them, that they had rejected several Persons whose Property & Ability had made them fit Persons to be of the Council; & they had chose other Persons who were not so well recommended by those qualifications: wherefore he had negatived 5 of them.7 What was this but directing them what Persons to choose at the next Election? But he had a right to direct them what Persons were most fit to be chose, & by the means of rejecting those whom he thought not fit. And whenever a Govr, either by his own diffidence, or by the clamours of the People, shall be induced to decline the free Exercise of his negative, He will give up the little Share the King has in the appointment of that body, which ought by the British Constitution solely to be appointed by the King.

    I am therefore fully of Opinion, now as heretofore, that no reconciliation can be effected with safety unless the Lt Govr & the Sec’ry be restored to the Council; at least that I ought not to consent to the filling up their Seats, untill I know his Majesty’s pleasure thereupon. Possibly I may have too high an Opinion of the importance of this point: If so, I shall readily recede from it when I know it is not treated in the King’s Councils with that deference which I have conceived of it. I can at any time excuse myself to the Lt. Govr & the Secr’ry for dropping their Cause. For tho’ I think they both have great Merit, & have deserved the best & received the worst Treatment from their Country; yet I shall not (nor will they desire that I should) keep up a contention merely out of personal regard to them. It is their Offices only, & the Fountain from whence they are derived, which I mean to defend. And whenever I find that I have overrated the Indignity, which I apprehend has been done to the King’s Commission, by the leaving these Gentlemen out of the King’s Council, I shall readily give up the Point.

    I am, with great Respect, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient, & most humble Servant,

    Fra Bernard

    The Right honble The Earl of Shelburne.

    ALS, RC      CO 5/756, ff 77-78.