622 | From the Earl of Hillsborough

    (No 10.)


    Whitehall June 11th, 1768.


    Since my Letter to you No 7, I have received there from you addressed to the Earl of Shelburne No 7, 8, & 9,1 and have laid them with the Inclosures, before the King.

    It was evident, from what passed in the House of Representatives at the latter End of their last Session, that the Settled Purpose of those Men, by whose Influence the Proceedings of the Assembly seem to have been guided, was to inflame the Minds of the People and thereby to defeat every conciliating Measure; which the true Friends to the Constitution of this Kingdom and the Colonies were pursuing, in order to restore that Peace and Harmony, upon which the mutual Happiness of both so much depends.

    What has happened since has shown too plainly the Success of their Endeavours, and the Negative which the Grand Jury of the superior Court of Boston put upon a Bill of Indictment against the Printers of the Boston Gazette in the Case you mention;2 after themselves had directed the Attorney-General to prepare such a Bill, is but too striking an Evidence of the Influence of those, who seek to disturb the Public Peace and persist with so much Obstinacy and Malevolence in sowing the Seeds of Disorder and Discontent.

    His Majesty trusts however that the Steadiness and Resolution, which have so eminently distinguished your own Conduct and that of the Chief Justice, will at length prevail over the Attempts of those, who endeavour to establish Credit to themselves by exciting popular Jealousy, and sacrifice even Justice itself and the due Course of Law to the Encouragement and Support of their seditious Purposes.

    His Majesty observes with Pleasure what you say of the spirited and proper Conduct of the Council3 in the last Session & of the Zeal they showed to promote His Majesty’s Service; and although it should seem by your Letter No 8,4 that the Propositions made by you, on your Apprehensions of the Disorders and riotous Proceedings which were likely to happen in the Town of Boston on the Anniversary of the Repeal of the Stamp-Act, were, if not discountenanced, at least received with a Coldness inconsistent with a proper Regard to the Preservation of the public Peace; yet His Majesty observes with Satisfaction, that the Council was in some Degree justified in their Opinion by the Event, for though the Behaviour and tumultuous Rejoicings of the Populace, on that Day and Night, were marked with many indecent Circumstances of Insult and Disorder, they happily did not proceed to any Acts of Violence.

    I hope you will not think from what I have said, respecting the Proceedings of Boston on the 18th of March, that I entertain an Opinion that the Vigilance and Attention shown by you on that Occasion, or the minute Detail you give of what passed on that Day, were unnecessary or improper. In Time of public Disorder a vigilant Attention to the Preservation of the public Peace is highly becoming in every Office and Magistrate, and the Duty of Persons in your high Station requires that they should communicate to the immediate Servants of the Crown every Information relative to the State of their Governments, in the most circumstantial and confidential Manner; and therefore I cannot but wish that in those Parts of your Letters, where you speak of what had passed at Town Meetings, and Meetings of the Merchants, (which appear to me to be of far greater Moment than the less deliberate Proceedings of a Mob) you had been more explicit as to the Objects of their Councils and Measures. If any Man or Set of Men, have been daring enough to declare openly, that they will not submit to the Authority of Parliament, it is of great Consequence that His Majesty’s Servants should know who and what they are: And I trust, Sir, you will believe that I mean only the most friendly Admonition when I say, that a very full and confidential Communication of what you have heard, concerning the Designs and Intentions of those, whose Opposition to Measures of Conciliation render them justly suspected as Enemies to all Government, would have been more satisfactory than the alarming and dark hint you give, when you say, that you dare not to repeat what you have heard, till their Purposes become more apparent.

    It is but too evident, not only from the Accounts contained in your last Letters, but also from a Revision of the State of your Government for some Time past, that the Authority of Civil Power is too weak to enforce Obedience to the Laws, and preserve that Peace and good Order, which is essential to the Happiness of every State; and His Majesty has thought fit, upon the most mature Consideration of what has been represented by yourself, and by the Commrs of the Customs established at Boston, to direct the Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in America to station One Regiment at least in the Town of Boston, and to garrison, and if necessary to repair, the Fort or Castle of William and Mary, and he would probably have received some Directions, with regard to such other Forts and Fortifications, as have been usually kept up in the Province under your Government, if the Situation and Number of them had been known.5

    His Majesty’s Pleasure hath been also signified to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty,6 that they do forthwith order one Frigate, two Sloops, and two Cutters to repair to and remain in the Harbour of Boston, for assisting and supporting the Officers of His Majesty’s Customs in the Execution of their Duty; and I am to acquaint you, Sir, with His Majesty’s Commands, that you do co-operate with the Commander in Chief, in taking all necessary Steps for the Reception and Accommodation of the Troops.

    As I observe in many Parts of your Letter’s Expressions of Doubt and Difficulty, whether you can or ought in any Case, to act without the Advice and Opinion of the Council, I think it necessary to take Notice, that I cannot find, upon the most careful Perusal of your Commision and Instructions, upon what Part of them this Opinion is founded; and it does seem to me, that the Admission of a Right in the Council to be consulted on all Occasions would be to establish in that Body a Power & Authority, inconsistent with the Spirit of the Constitution, as it is you, to whom the Crown has delegated its Authority, and you alone are responsible for the due Exercise of it.

    As I understand you wish for a conditional Leave of Absence, I have laid your Desire before His Majesty, who is graciously pleased to gratify you in it, and I will take Care to have the necessary Instrument transmitted to you, which you may consider as in your Possession.7

    You will see from the Nature of this Letter how necessary it is to keep the Contents entirely secret, till you hear from the Commander in Chief.

    I am Sir your Most Humble & Obedient Servant


    LS, RC     BP, 11: 187-196.

    Endorsed: No. 12 Earl of Hillsborough r Sep 14 1768 d June 11 Directions as to his Conduct of Correspondence. The RC was carried by the June mail packet, which was six weeks overdue when it arrived at New York, on 7 Sept., having left Falmouth on 16 Jun.8 FB received this letter seven days later, on 14 Sept. It is likely, but not certain, that the letter was carried to Boston by an express rider. However, FB had already received the duplicate on 3 Sept., (carried in the July mail) to which he replied with No. 672 on 9 Sept. Variants: CO 5/757, ff 83-86 (LS, AC); CO 5/765, ff 9-14 (L, LbC). Extracts were laid before both houses of Parliament of Lords on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 1.