614 | To the Earl of Hillsborough


    No: 2

    Boston May 19 1768

    My Lord

    In your Letter No 31 your Lordship is pleased to give me Credit for my Service in the Restoration of the Minds of the People here to that Confidence in his Majesty’s Government, which it is entitled to. But alas, my Lord, my Merit is confined to earnest Endeavours to bring about that much wish’d for Event favoured by a little Self-flattery at one Time that I had succeeded. At the Time I wrote the Letters mentioned,2 The Faction had not recovered their Power & I was in hopes they never would. For the first Month of the Winter Session. They behaved decently towards Government, and had not Power enough in the House to carry a Question for this Province taking the lead in an Opposition to the late Acts of Parliament. But indefatigable in Mischief they kept continually tampering with Particulars in Private, untill they had poisoned the Minds of many of the well meaning but ignorant Countrymen, of whom the House is in some Measure composed. Having filled their Imaginations with Fears and Jealousies which they were incapable of judging truly of, they produced the circular Letters Addresses Remonstrances &c which your Lordship has by ^this^ Time has been fully acquainted with. The Friends of Government could do nothing more than to prune these Writings, and cut off the most Offensive Parts, which they did to a Great Degree; tho’ perhaps it had been better let alone. Upon this Occasion, as upon others for the same Purposes, their Success and Triumph upon the Repeal of the Stamp-Act was held out as a Precedent for the present Business, and an Incentive to pursue the same Measures, as before; which they say must oblige the Parliament to repeal these Acts also.

    It has been a Subject of Wonder how the Faction which harrasses the Town and through it the whole Continent, which is know[n]3 to consist of very few of the lowest kind of Gentry and is directed by 3 or 4 Persons bankrupt in Reputation as well as in Fortune, and equally void of Credit in Character and in Property, should be able to keep in Subjection the Inhabitants of such a Town as this, who posses an hundred Times the Property & Credit (I might say much more) of those who rule them with a Rod of Iron. This Paradox is at once solved by showing that this Town is governed by the lowest of the People and from the Time of the Stamp Act to this Hour has been and is in the Hands of the Mob: and tho’ these Troops have not been employed in Actual Service of late, yet they have been frequently paraded in a Manner most suitable to strike Terror, to let People know that this Corps is still kept up for the Punishment of delinquents. I make no Doubt but above half of those who signed against the Importation of British Goods were brought to it by Intimidation. It has been common for a Person, who had signed, to excuse himself by saying “What, would you have my House pulled down”. And some Gentlemen of a more firm make, when they refused signing said “you may pull my House down, if you please; but I won’t subscribe.” so closely connected were the alternative ^Ideas^ of submitting to the Faction or being exposed to its Resentment.

    It would carry me too far to show how the Despotism which is exercised over this Town is made subservient to the Cause of the Faction in the House of Representatives. But it is certain that sevral Representatives who have acted with them have been brought to it by Intimidation: I have had it from some of their own Mouths. The Faction cannot indeed threaten distant Places with their Troops of Execution; tho’ their Terror has been made Use of a great Way from Boston: but they can ruin a Mans Reputation and make him Obnoxious to his own Townspeople by public Libells and private Insinuations. And in these Practices they have been so successful that a great many of the best Men in the Province remain excluded from the House by these means. And thus Intimidation has, among other Causes, contributed to subject the House to the dictature of a few desperate Men who having little or nothing to lose dare to do any thing without fearing Consequences.

    I therefore do not expect that this Government will recover itself, untill these Men have received some signal Check from Great Britain, such as will open the Eyes of their deluded followers. Their being suffered for near 3 years with Impunity to govern this Town by a trained Mob, and to set Great Britain at Defiance & treat the supreme imperial Power with a Contempt not only indecent but allmost treasonable has caused a great Despondency among the Officers and Friends of Government, and has brought the Kings Authority very low. I have indeed preserved the Citadel, I mean the Council Chamber: otherwise they would have been in Possession of the whole Government before now. I shall continue to exert myself as I have hitherto done: but shall be very watchful to lay hold of any Occasion which may produce a Reconciliation of these Men to the Kings Government. Hitherto it has been ^im^practicable without wounding the Honour of the King & the Dignity of Government. And I suppose they will continue intractable till they hear of the Success of their Remonstrances against the late Acts of Parliament. If they should be disappointed, they will become either outrageous or submissive: they themselves say it will be the former; I beleive the latter; especially If the rejection of their Claim is accompanied with measures to oblige them to be obedient: which they may well expect, as they have given notice that they will not acquiesce in the Decision of Parliament, if it is against them. But this Threat will prove like that of the Manufactures when it comes to be put to Trial.4 I am with great Respect,

    My Lord, your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant.

    Fra Bernard

    The Right honble The Earl of Hillsborough

    dupLS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 104- 106.

    In handwriting of Thomas Bernard. Endorsed: Boston 19th: May 1768. Governor Bernard. (No. 2). R 13th: July. (Duplicate Origl. not received). Variants: CO 5/766, ff 172-177 (L, RLbC); BP, 6: 300-34 (L, LbC).