646 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 10

    Boston July 9 1768

    My Lord

    I gave your Lordship a full account of the issue of the proceedings upon his Majesty’s requisition together with Copies of all papers relating thereto. I sent the original by a returned Express to Genl Gage to be forwarded by the packet. The duplicates I put into the hands of Captn Smith of the Brig [blank] which sailed last Monday for Glascow.1 As there are other Ships now preparing to sail I shall inclose some printed copies of the papers from the Newspapers, some of which may come to your Lordships hands before either of my Letters. From these your Lordship will see that I dismissed the General Court by prorogation & dissolved them the next day by proclamation. This form of proceeding, tho’ immaterial in the effect made this business pass more easily than I expected.2

    The Sons of Liberty3 keep up their Spirits still: on tuesday Evning last past,4 a Number of them, between 50 & 60, went out of Boston at the close of day, & having divided themselves into two parties met on each side of an house in Roxbury about 3 miles from Boston which Mr Robinson one of the Commissioners of the Customs has lately hired, with an intention, as is supposed from the manœuvre, they practiced, to surprise him there & prevent his escape. But he being at the Castle, where he has resided, since the Commissioners have been driven thither for safety, they did nothing but plunder his fruit trees & break off the branches thereof & break down some of the fences & trample down the garden; and did not, that I can learn, break into the House. After this, about Midnight they went back to Boston in a body huzzaing all the Way. This is called a Frolick of a few boys to eat some Cherries.

    Last night about 30 Men came on board a Schooner lying at a Wharf which had been seized for having 30 hogsheads of uncustomed Molasses on board & was then in the custody of two customhouse officers, and having confined the two officers to the Cabbin carried off all the Molasses.5 When the Sloop6 was seized which occasioned the riot7 in which the Custom house officers were ill treated & in consequence of which the Commissioners of the Customs were obliged to leave the Town, the Greatest part of the Resentment was expressed against carrying the Sloop from the Wharf & putting her under the Care of the Man of War. This, they said, was an Affront to the Town, as it contained an insinuation that the Sloop would not have been safe if it had been left at the Wharf in the Custody of a Customhouse Officer. Therefore When this Schooner was seized It was left at the Wharf under no other guard but 2 customhouse officers. It would have been Very easily secured by laying it in the stream & put^ting^ a guard on board either from the Romney or the Castle; but I suppose it was thought best to try the Experiment. As Evry seizure made or attempted to be made on land at Boston for 3 years past, before these two instances, has been Violently rescued ^or prevented^, it was easy to see what would be the Event of this & I foretold it as certain.8 However the Experiment has been made.

    I have not recieved any request from the Commissioners upon this occasion nor do I expect it: for they know I can do nothing. Your Lordship has observed in my letters No 5 & 69 that I consulted the Council upon the great Riot on June 10, & after having, upon repeated adjournments, endeavoured to bring them to some resolution, the whole business was avoided by referring it to the general Court. After this a Committee of both Houses was appointed under the Specious title “to take the State of the province into consideration;” when after sevral meetings, as the two bodies had different purposes to serve, they could come to no conclusion.10 And so this Matter rests: and I have no desire to revive it again; as, in the present state of things, the Advice of the Council will be timid & the Executive power of the Governor is perfectly impotent.

    In regard to the Answer of the House11 so far as it relates to me I will make but one observation upon it: It is Felo de se of it[’s]12 own purport;13 It pretends to be the Voice of the people & gives evidence itself that it is the Voice of a Faction. It charges the Governor with misrepresenting the generality of the people by asserting that the blameable Conduct of the House is to be imputed to a Faction prevailing there & not to the people in general. Now if this is not true All the injury the Governor has done the people is by setting them in a more favorable light than they deserve; and therefore if the people were to take notice of it there would be no occasion for passion or resentment. But it is otherwise with the Faction: If they are charged with more than belongs to them, it is natural that they should resent it: and therefore passion Malice and Abuse become them & are suitable to their Character & the Occasion. From this Criterion One may safely pronounce that this Answer is the Virulent Overflowing of a Faction & not the cool Voice of a people. And yet my Lord, I do not intend to give up my Opinion of the Faction or the People; not withstanding the high pitch to which the Wickedness of the former has raised the inflammation & infatuation of a great part of the latter.

    I informed your Lordship that I had not seen nor probably should see, till it is printed, the Letter of the House to your Lordship, altho I am informed I am much intrested in the contents of it. But I shall soon have that satisfaction being informed that it is to be printed next Monday.14 It seems that this Morning the two Consuls of the faction Otis & Adams had a dispute upon it in the representatives Room where the papers of the House are kept: which I shall write as a Dialogue to save paper. O. What are you going to do with the letter to Lord H? A. to give it to the printer to publish next Monday. O. Do you think it proper to publish it so soon that he may receive a printed copy, before the Original comes to his hands? A. What signifies that? you know it was designed for the people & not for the Minister. O. You are so fond of your own Draughts that you cant wait for the publication of them to a proper time. A. I am Clerk of the House & I will make that use of the papers which I please. __ I had this from a Gentleman of the first rank, who, I understood, was present.15

    I have been under some concern for the safety of the Castle since the Commissioners retired thither, not upon16 account of any intelligence I had of an intention to attack it (for that at most amounted but to idle rumours)17 as from a consideration of the Weakness of the Garrison & the ease with which it might be surprised.18 But I am releived in this by the Care of Commodore Hood, who has so well supplied us with naval force, that there are now about the Castle one fifty gun ship19 two sloops of 16 guns & two Cutters armed with swivell guns; so that I am under no concern for that place. Besides I have lately received by express from Genl Gage some dispatches for Col Dalrymple at Halifax,20 which I forwarded by one of the Kings Cutters: and I am mistaken, if there is not among them an order for at least one Regiment to come here; altho’ Genl Gage who knows my situation, where death is publickly denounced against those who are concerned in bringing troops here, is so kind as to conceal the contents of the dispatches from me. One Regiment will secure the Castle, but will not be sufficient to awe the Town. This Very morning the Select men of the Town ordered the Magazine of Arms belonging to the Town to be brought out to be cleaned, when they were exposed for some hours at the Town house. They were expostulated with for this impending Act; they excused themselves by saying, that those Arms were ordered to be cleaned two months ago. I have been much pressed to go to the Castle, when troops shall arrive here: I do not choose to show a want of resolution as I don’t feel the firmness of my mind to fail; but I shall not ^unnecessarily^ expose myself to danger where I can foresee it. A short time will determine whether Boston is to be Subject to Great Britain or not; if the intention to dispute it is Any thing more than Talk.

    I am with great respect My Lord, your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The right honble The Earl of Hillsborough

    ALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 303-307.

    Minor emendations not shown. Endorsed: Copy of a Letter from Governor Bernard to the Earl of Hillsborough dated Boston July 9th: 1768. R 24 August. (No. 10). A.31. Probably enclosed a copy of the Boston Gazette, 4 Jul. 1768. Variants of letter: CO 5/766, ff 264-267 (L, RLbC); BP, 6: 335-340 (L, LbC); T 1/465, f 190 (L extract, Copy); Letters to the Ministry (1st ed.), 38-41; Letters to the Ministry (repr.), 50-54. Extracts were laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 2. Hillsborough acknowledged receipt with No. 679.