592 | To Lord Barrington

    Boston Mar. 4 1768

    My Lord

    In my Letter of Jan 281 I informed your Lordship to what Lengths the Americans had carried their Improvements of the Arguments which had been used in England in favour of their being exempt from a parliamentary Taxation. I there mention that the Pretensions were not expressly carried to the Length that they were Consequentially. But, my Lord, the little Interval of Time between the Dates of that Letter and this has afforded Instances of these Pretensions being actually carried to the full Length they are capable of. The Traders here are now associating in the same Manner that they did at the Time of the Stamp Act; with what Success remains to be determined: however there is now a Subscription opened to import no British Goods (except for the Fishery) for 18 Months.2 If this was all, we Crown Officers should be very well Content: but it is given out among them that they will not submit to the Laws in the Mean Time; & violent methods of Opposition are every Day expected. One Man has unloaded a Cargo without entring it at the Custom House: it was done in the Night with a strong hand; but it is as publickly known as if it had been at Noon Day. The Officers either do not or dare not know where the Goods are carried. Many Merchants say they will not suffer Custom House Officers to go on board their Ships; one of them declared ^so^ in the House of Representatives. When they are asked what will satisfy them, the Answer is a total Repeal of the Laws of Trade imposing Duties and nothing less. And untill such Repeal shall be made they propose to suspend the Execution of the Laws, as they did in the Stampt-Act, which is now made a Precedent. However there has not as yet been a violent Opposition to the Officers; but it is hourly expected.

    Your Lordship may imagine that such a State of this Town must be very disagreeable to the Commissioners of the Customs who are strangers in this Country. There have been Nights fixed by Common Report for a Tumult twice within these 10 Days. Upon one of them Mr Burch3 one of ^these^ Gentlemen had a large Number of Men with Clubs assembled before his Door great Part of the Evening, and he was obliged to send away his Wife & Children by a back Door.4 This was afterwards turned to a Joke & said to be nothing but to intimidate them; but if it was only a Joke it was a very cruel one. The Commissioners have asked me what Support I can give them, if there should be an Insurrection; I answer none at all.5 They then desire me to apply to the general6 for Troops; I tell them I cannot do it; for I am directed to Consult the Council about requiring Troops; & they will never advise it let the Case be ever so desperate. Indeed I no more dare apply for Troops than the Council dare advise me to it. Ever since I have perceived that the Wickedness of some and the folly of others will in the End bring Troops here, I have conducted myself so as to be able to say, and swear to, if the Sons of Liberty shall require it, that I have never applied for Troops. And therefore, my Lord, I beg that Nothing I now write may be considered as such an Application. The present Suspence is a very disagreeable one: the Commissioners see that they must wait till a violent Opposition is made to their Officers; & yet they dread the Experiment. I must be involved with them more or less: I have promised them an Asylum at the Castle & possibly may want it myself. Tho’ the more moderate of the Opponents to the Laws of Trade say that they will hurt No body; but when they find that they are not like to be redressed, they will put the Commissioners & all their Officers on board a Ship & send them back to England. This is the Talk used to prevent Riots: a Short Time will determine it. I shall drop the Subject here having said enough to shew how probable it is that the Officers of the Crown will soon be in the same situation which they were above 2 Years ago; and how deceitful that Opinion is like to prove, that America will come to Rights of its own Accord. The Impeachment of the Power of Parliament has been Continually extending since the Time of the Stampt-Act; & will not stop ’till the Parliament interposes with Effect.

    Having said so much for the public there is little remaining for myself. Your Lordship may imagine that whilst the Faction are attacking the Authority of Parliament they won’t let the Governor alone. They accordingly picked a Quarrel with me about the Middle of the Session: But they have chose an unfortunate Subject and managed it ^very^ ill. I found myself obliged to make it the Subject of a Speech at the End of the Session; as the Faction have shown their Intention, to hurt me with the People by the Publication of the Papers of their House followed with an Infamous Libell. But they are both fully answered by my Speech and an Address of the Council; both of which joined together on this Occasion will I hope open the Eyes of the People to the Wickedness of these Fellows.7

    I am &c

    The Right honble The Ld Visct: Barrington

    P S

    If your Lordship should think proper to communicate any Part of this Letter, you will spare my Name as much as possible.

    L, LbC     BP, 6: 96-99.

    In handwriting of Thomas Bernard. Minor emendations not shown. The RC may have been sent under cover of a letter to John Pownall, dated 14 Mar.8 Barrington acknowledged receipt with No. 605.

    Samuel Adams, c.1772. Oil on canvas by John Singleton Copley. Photograph © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.