566 | From the Earl of Shelburne

    (No. 8)

    Whitehall 17th. Sepr. 1767.


    I have the Pleasure to signify to you His Majesty’s Approbation of your Conduct, and to acquaint you that he is graciously pleased to approve of your having exerted the Power, lodged in you by the Constitution of the ^Province of the Massachusets Bay, of ^ negativing Councillors in the late Elections, which appears from your several Letters to have been done with due Deliberation and Judgment.

    Those who framed the present Charter very wisely provided that this Power should be placed in the Governor, as an occasional Check upon any indiscreet Use of the Right of Electing Councillors, which was given by Charter to the Assembly, which might at certain Periods, by an improper Exercise, have a tendency to disturb the Deliberations of that Part of the Legislature from whom the greatest Gravity & Moderation is more peculiarly to be expected. As long therefore as the Assembly shall exert their Right of Election to the Exclusion of the principal Officers of Government from Council whose Presence there as Councillors so manifestly tends to facilitate the Course of Public Business, and who have therefore been before this Period usually elected, and whilst in particular they exclude Men of such unexceptionable Characters as both the present Lieut. Governor and Secretary undoubtedly are and that too, at a Time when it is more peculiarly the Duty of all Parts of the Constitution to promote the Re-establishment of Tranquility, and not forego the least Occasion of evincing the Duty and Attachment of the Colony towards Great Britain; It cannot, under such Circumstances be surprizing, that His Majesty’s Governor exerts the Right entrusted to him by the same Constitution, to the Purpose of excluding those from the Council whose mistaken Zeal may have led them into improper Excesses, and whose private Resentments (and I should be sorry to ascribe to them Motives still more blameable) may in your Opinion further lead them to embarrass the Administration and endanger the Quiet of the Province.

    The Dispute which has arisen concerning the Lieut. Governor’s being present without a voice, at the Deliberations of the Council is no otherwise important, than as it tends to shew a warmth in the House of Representatives, which I am extremely sorry for. There is no Pretence of Danger to be apprehended from the Presence of the Lt. Governor in Council, there is no Novelty in the Practice, and there is apparent Utility & Propriety in admitting him to be present at the Deliberations of the Council, who may be suddenly called to the Administration of the Province. __ If this Opposition to the Lt Governor’s Sitting in Council is to be considered as personal, it must appear here very extraordinary, that a Person of his very respectable Character and whose Learning and Ability has been exerted in the Service of America, should yet meet with so much Animosity and Ill-will in a Province which seems to owe him particular Obligations; but the Question concerning his Admission seems to lie after all in the Breast of the Council only, as being the proper Judges of their own Privileges, and as having the best Right to determine whom they will admit to be present at their Deliberations.

    As to what concerns the Agency of the Province, it is doubtless a Point that merits Attention. __ But as Matters of this Nature from other Provinces have been heretofore under the Consideration of the Lords of Trade, His Majesty has been pleased to refer the whole Matter to their Lordships’ for their Report, before any Determination shall be taken thereupon.1

    I am to inform you, Sir, that it is His Majesty’s determined Resolution to extend to you His Countenance and Protection in every Constitutional Measure that shall be found necessary for the Support of His Government in the Massachusets Bay. And it will be your Care and your Duty to avail yourself of such Protection in those Cases only, where the Honor and Dignity of His Majesty’s Government is really either mediately or immediately concerned.

    It is unnecessary to observe that the Nature of the English Constitution is such as to furnish no real Ground of Jealousy to the Colonies and where there is so large a Foundation of Confidence, it cannot be but that accidental Jealousies must subside and Things again return to their proper and natural Course. The Extremes even of legal Right on either Side, tho’ sometimes necessary, are always inconvenient, and Men of real property, who must be sensible that their own Prosperity is connected with the Tranquility of the Province, will not long be inactive and suffer their Quiet to be disturbed and the Peace and Safety of the State endangered by the Indiscretion or Resentments of any .

    I am with great Truth & Regard, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant,


    Govr. Bernard.

    LS, RC      BP, 11: 81-86.