663 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 15

    Boston Aug 6. 1768

    My Lord

    Your Lordship will observe from my Letter No 91 & its inclosures that I signified to the House that if I should be obliged to dissolve the Assembly, I should not think myself at liberty to call another untill I received his Majesty’s orders therefor. I was asked in Council whether I had received a special order for that purpose, or whether I drew it by implication from any part of your Lordships letter.2 I answerd that I drew it from two passages in your Lordship’s letter:3 1. I am order’d, if I dissolve the Assembly, to send an Account of their proceedings that his Majesty may lay the same before his parliament to prevent such conduct for the future. Now if I was to call another Assembly without order, It might not be in the power of the King or the parliament to prevent such conduct for the future; for it would probably be repeated before any provision could be made against it. 2. Your Lordship signifies to me that if the Dissolution should operate to the discontinuance of any necessary establishments, Care will be taken for the support of Government. By this It is plain that your Lordship does not expect that I should call a new Assembly: for in such Case your Lordship would have directed me to call upon the new Assembly to renew the discontinued establishments.

    But if your Lordship’s intention had not appeared so plain, my own Discretion would have directed me not to have called another Assembly soon after the dissolution of the former. Such a proceeding has scarce ever failed to produce bad consequences: in the present case It would have the Worst; the cheif Alteration in the House would be in the exclusion of those few Members, or a great part of them, who in the late question dared to side with the King, & have since been held up in the public papers as objects of the resentment of the people.4 It were to be wished that a New Assembly might not be called untill the people had got into a better temper & had gained truer Notions of their rights & intrest than they have at present. When that time will come God knows: it will depend more upon what is done at Westminster, than upon any measures that can be pursued here. I can therefore only state to your Lordship the inconveneinces5 which will attend the not calling the Assembly untill the next general Election, & wait your Lordships orders.

    The usual time for the Assembly’s meeting for the Winter Session has of late been about the Middle of January. The Session has usually lasted above 2 months, great part of which has been lately spent in political squabbles rather than in real business. The ordinary business of this Session has been, to elect officers viz Treasurer, Commissary & impost officer & some lesser of no great significance; to grant Salaries to the Judges & other Officers & to the president & professors of the College &c; and to pass the Act of Tonnage & impost.6 The Election of Officers may be postponed: for in such case they would continue in their Offices by their former Appointment; & by the Election is Nothing More but the Continuance of the same Officers. The grants of Salaries may be postponed without any other inconvenience than a delay of payment for about 3 months. The not renewing the impost bill would, I beleive, discontinue that revenue for about 2 months; but I cant be certain of it, as I have not the bill by me. These are the principal ordinary inconveniences which would arise from the not calling another Assembly before next May;7 they must be ballanced by the Advantages proposed from the suspension; and the whole will be governed by the Measures which are to be taken for the restoration of the Government. And I must beg your Lordships favor that I may receive orders whether I am or am not to call the Assembly: for when the usual time shall come It will be quite necessary that the Governor should be able to Vouch positive orders for his not calling the Assembly, if he is not to do it. In regard to the calling the New Assembly in May, it will require much consideration: but there is time enough for that as yet.

    There is another Matter for consideration in calling a new Assembly, which I cannot overlook because it is a common subject of reflexion; and yet I must own I dare not give my advice in it with that freedom, with which I could wish to act in all public business. It is, whether when a New Assembly is called it ought to meet at Boston or at some other Town.8 People imagine that the principal part which Boston ^(distinguished from other Towns)^ has taken in raising & fomenting the present troubles of the province & the Continent will probably incur & deserve the Censure of having the Government removed from it. Others say that if Boston is subjected & brought into order the Inconveniences which the Government now feels by being seated there would be removed. For my own part, I could speak upon this subject, where I could explain myself occasionally; but I know not how to write upon it. All that I can ^now^ say is that if the prevailing Faction should be effectually checked, & the Terror of the mobs removed, It might be better to keep the Government here: but undoubtedly for these 3 years last Government has suffered Very much by it’s being seated here. There are no ^two^ Towns on the Continent more contrasted in regard to respect & Duty to the Kings Government both at home & here, than Boston & (the second Town in the province) Salem. And yet I could not recommend the removing the Government to Salem otherwise than as a temporary Censure. But this is a subject too delicate for public letters.

    Having gone thus far I find a great deficiency from the Want of a proper representation of the present state of this Government, which is brought so low, that It can never recover itself by any internal means without a sacrifice of the rights of the imperial Power. This is a nice Task; & I wish I could do it in person: if I can not, I shall have much difficulty to represent it in writing & will overcome it as well as I can.

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

    Fra. Bernard

    the right honble the Earl of Hillsborough

    ALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 368-370.

    Minor emendations not shown. Endorsed: Boston Augst. 6th. 1768. Governor Bernard (No. 15). R 27th. Sepr: A40. Variants: CO 5/767, ff 63-68 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 19-23 (L, LbC); Letters to the Ministry (1st ed.), 46-49; Letters to the Ministry (repr.), 62-65. Copies of FB’s letter were laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 3. Hillsborough replied with No. 702.9