575 | To the Earl of Shelburne

    No 29

    Boston Nov 21. 1767

    My Lord

    At the time of my writing my last letter1 the publication of Seditious papers against the late parliamentary regulations was continued in its full force: but I did not think it necessary to trouble your Lordship with the particulars of them, as I was persuaded that they would not have their effect. However an Effort was to be made for raising a Mob on the 20th of this Month being the day on which the new Duties were to commence; previous to which it was universally given out that there would [be]2 Effigys hung upon liberty tree, as a signal for a rising. Upon the morning of that day No Effigy was found upon the tree; but under it was stuck up a paper so highly seditious that it would be undoubtedly decreed in England an Overt act of high Treason. It contained an Exhortation to the Sons of Liberty to rise on that day & fight for their Liberties; that if they assembled together they would be joined by Legions; but if they neglected this opportunity, they would be cursed by all posterity. To explain this, it has been given out before that the Intention was to carry the Commissioners & all their Officers to Liberty Tree & there make them resign their Commissions & take an Oath that they would never undertake them again; as was done with Mr. Oliver.

    As soon as I was informed of this paper being stuck up, I summoned a Council to meet & repaired to the Council chamber. The Superior Court was then sitting, & there was a Town meeting being an Adjournment of the former meeting. Whilst We were deliberating what Measures to pursue,3 We were informed4 that the Selectmen of the Town had ordered the paper to be taken down; and that when their Officer came to the Tree He found the paper had been removed. Soon after We were informed that the Town meeting was unanimous in expressing their detestation of the fixing up the paper, & came to resolutions to preserve the peace of the Town & maintain the Authority of Government.5 Upon this occasion It was remarkable that Mr. Otis made a long Speech entirely on the side of Government: He asserted the Kings right to appoint Officers of the Customs, in what Number & by what denominations he pleased; and as to the New Duties, He said that It would be very imprudent in this Town to make an Opposition to them, when ev’ry other Town in the province & ev’ry other province in America seemed to acquiesce in them, & be contented. Things having taken this Turn at the Town meeting, It was thought unnecessary to make any order of Council; I therefore dismissed the Council in the forenoon, engaging them to hold themselves ready to meet upon the appearance of any disturbance: But there was no Occasion for it, the Town continuing quiet all the rest of ^the^ day & Evening.

    I hope this will be the last Effort to raise disturbances in this Town; the Apprehensions of which have distracted it from the 14th of August last to this day. However it has produced considerable advantages to government by showing so general & almost universal a disposition in the principal people of the Town to prevent or oppose popular Commotions for the future; & at the same time manifesting the low State of the Faction, which is now so reduced as to subsist only by weekly libells & incendiary papers without daring to show its face in public meetings.

    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 5/757, ff 3-4.