589 | To the Earl of Shelburne


    No. 4

    Boston, Febry 18th, 1768.

    My Lord,

    By my Letter No. 2, I informed your Lordship,1 that a Motion in the House for circulating a Copy of their proceedings against the late Acts of Parliament to all the Assemblies on the Continent, had been rejected by above 2 to 1; & that I formed promising Conclusions from this Defeat of the factious Party. But I was too hasty in my Approbation of the Conduct of the House: this was too great a point to be given up; The Party therefore resolved to make another effort, & having prepared the way by privately tampering with, & influencing particulars, they moved that all the former proceedings upon this business should be obliterated out of the Journal, which being agreed2 to, the way became clear for another Motion, that a Committee should be appointed to prepare a Circular letter to the sevral3 Speakers of the Assemblies upon the Continent containing an Abstract of their remonstrances against the late Acts, & a desire that the other Assemblies would join with them. A Letter was presently reported & agreed to by the House.4

    As soon as I knew that this was past (the House) I got the Speaker to come to me, & in the presence of the Secretary, required a Copy of the Circular letter, that I might transmit it to your Lordship, to whom I said I should be obliged to send an account of this extraordinary proceeding, which I feared would be thought similar to the Congress in 1765. He said that He did not doubt but that it would easily be obtained with the leave of the House. He accordingly asked the leave of the House the next day, which he not only obtain’d for the Copy in question, but also for the other proceedings of which he had refused me the sight some time before.5 But this was designed for serving a particular purpose, as I shall hereafter inform your Lordship in another letter upon another Subject.6

    I now send your Lordship a Copy of this Circular letter, which I would animadvert upon if the time would permit. at present I will only make two observations: 1. That this present undertaking is calculated to inflame the whole Continent, & engage them to join together in another Dispute with the Parliament, about the Authority of the latter; altho’ the present Subject Matter was professedly allowed by the Americans themselves to be within the bounds of the power of Parliament at the time of the former dispute. 2. That the Distinctions, by means of which they now transfer the Matters contained in the late Act of Parliament from the range of what they before conceded to Parliament to that of what they before denied, is equally conclusive against all Acts of Parliament imposing duties in the American Ports, & consequently if the last Act should be given up to those pretensions All other acts of American revenue must follow. I shall write fully to your Lordship upon this Subject, when I have leisure to review the proceedings of this Session.

    I am, with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordships. Most Obedt & most humble Servant,

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble, The Earl of Shelburne.

    dupALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 28-29.

    Variants: CO 5/766, ff 107-109 (précis, RLbC); BP, 6: 265-268 (L, LbC);7 Coll. Mass. Papers, 1768 (L extract, Copy); Letters to the Ministry (1st ed.), 7-8; Letters to the Ministry (repr.), 8-9. The duplicate, printed here, may have been sent under cover of No. 595. The RC (not found) enclosed a copy of the House of Representatives’ circular letter to the speakers of the colonial assemblies, 11 Feb. 1768, CO 5, 757, ff 30-33 (Appendix 1). The Circular Letter and extracts of FB’s cover letter to Shelburne (No. 589) were laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 1. A copy may have been sent to Gen. Gage under cover of Appendix 4.