596 | To the Earl of Shelburne

    No 7

    Boston Mar 12 1768

    My Lord

    Since I wrote my last the Superior Court has been opened at Boston: upon which occasion the Cheif Justice (Lt Govr) made a long & forcible charge to the Grand Jury upon the Subject of the Libells published in the Boston Gazette1 & particularly that ^which^ has been lately animadverted upon by the Council.2 This so sensibly affected the Grand Jury & all the hearers of it, that it left no doubt in the mind of any one present that the grand Jury would find a bill against the printers. And they themselves had so little doubt of it, that as soon as they came out of Court they sent for the Attorney general3 & directed him to prepare a Bill against the next Morning. But in the interval The Faction who conducts that paper was indefatigable in tampering with the Jury; so that when the Business was resumed the next day, the Bill was opposed so effectually that it passed in the Negative by a small Majority, some say of one only. Upon this occasion the Managers of the paper were seen publickly to haunt the grand Jury men wherever they went; & the Arguments which were used in the grand Jury chamber were allmost Word for Word the Same which Otis had before used in publick.4

    Sensible People who have a regard for their Country are much concerned at this defeat of justice. They say that it is a Symptom of such extream Weakness in the Government, that it affords little hopes of it’s recovery. And indeed I do not expect that the Government will ever recover its Authority without Aid from Superior powers. If the Opposition was directed only against persons & Measures a Reconciliation might & soon would take place & all might be well again. But Men & Measures are only nominal defendants: The Authority of the King, the Supremacy of Parliament, the Superiority of Government are the real Objects of the attack; and a general levelling of all the powers of Government, & reducing it into the hands of the whole people is what is aimed at, & will, at least in some degree, succeed, without some external assistance. The Council, which formerly used to be revered by the people has lost its weight, & notwithstanding their late spirited exertion, is in general timid & irresolute, especially when the Annual Election draws near. That fatal ingredient in the Composition of this Constitution is the bane of ^the^ whole: and never will the royal Scale be ballanced with that of the people ’till the Weight of the Council is wholly put into the former. The making the Council independent of the people (even tho’ they should still receive their original Appointment from them) would go far to cure all the disorders which this Government is Subject to.

    But, my Lord, whilst I am treating of the constitutional imbecillity of the Council I must not forget my promise that I would represent to his Majesty the public spirited Conduct of the Council during this last Session. I must therefore beg leave to assure your Lordship that in many transactions in this last Session the Council have in general shown great attention to the Support of the Government & the Wellfare of the people, & have upon many occasions shown a resolution & steadiness in promoting his Majesty’s Service, which would have done honour to his Majesty’s appointment if they had wholly held their places under it. Which makes it more to be lamented that such Men should be subjected to be continually threatened to be turned out of their places, whenever they exercise the dictates of their own judgements in contravention to the Fury of a Seditious Demagogue.

    I must not omitt to do justice to the spirited Conduct of the Lieut Governor in his function of Cheif Justice: It gives me great pleasure to say that I can depend upon his resolution & steadiness as much as I can Upon My own; & am assured that there will be no Want of a due enforcement of the Laws to the correction of the present abuses. Where there is a failure of this Exertion It will arise either from the defaults of juries or from the Comptroll which in this defenceless Government the common people sometimes exercise over the Laws; especially the Laws of Great Britain. The cheif Justice has been much prest to print his charge, but has hitherto declined it. However He has reduced it to writing, that if it should be misrepresented in the Boston Gazette (as from the great Licentiousness which reigns here is very probable) he may be able to justify himself. In the Mean time as He has begun with these printers, He will, I dare say, pursue his purpose; and as the publication of this paper is a Crime committed in evry County in the Province, It is probable that another Grand Jury may not be so regardless of their Oath & their duty to their Country as this has been.

    I am, with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The right honble The Earl of Shelburne

    ALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 64-65.

    Endorsed: Boston March 12th: 1768. Governor Bernard (No. 7) R. 3d. June. A.11. Variants: CO 5/893, ff 39-41 (dupLS, RC); CO 5/766, ff 146-150 (L, RLbC); BP, 6: 278-280 (L, LbC); Letters to the Ministry (1st ed.), 10-12; Letters to the Ministry (repr.), 13-16. Enclosed a copy of the Boston Gazette, 29 Feb. 1768 (not found). The original and duplicate were forwarded under cover of a letter to John Pownall, dated 14 Mar.5 One of these variants was considered by the Board of Trade on 6 Jul. 1768. JBT, 13: 34. Extracts 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.