690 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 24

    Boston Sep 26 1768

    My Lord

    I now send your Lordship a Copy of the Councils Answer to me concerning providing barracks for the troops, & what is extraordinary, in print; which shall be explained in order. In the ps of my last,1 I informed your Lordship that the Council sent to me on Saturday2 to desire that I would meet them to receive their Answer to my proposal of setting up the Manufactory House. At that time there was a Violent Storm of Wind & Rain & I was at my Country house at Roxbury 5 miles from Boston.3 I thought by their being in such an hurry that they intended to do something; and as there was no time to be lost, I determined not to regard the Weather but set out immediately for Boston: and I therefore was surprised to find that I was sent for in such a storm meerly to receive a refusal. For I was not in the secret then, & did not know that all this hurry & drawing me thro’ the worst Weather I allmost ever travelled in was to get their Writing thro’ so that they might print it in the public papers on Monday.

    I mentioned to your Lordship that they had taken back their Answer to correct some mistakes. These Mistakes were, mentioning sayings of mine which I never said & couching insinuations which I did not deserve. Upon my explaining these passages, it was said that nothing was intended against me, & that they would alter the passages to my satisfaction; and they offered to do it directly. I told them that I had rather that they should take it back & reconsider the whole: for it seem’d to me that it wanted alteration upon their Account as well as upon mine. It was objected that it would cause the unnecessary trouble of calling another Council: I answered that as there was nothing to be advised or ordered, I would consent that they should deliver the paper, when corrected, to the Secretary, without calling a council in form.4

    They met early next Monday morning in the Council chamber, when they made some little alterations to remove what I had excepted to, which however was not done fully. After which It was moved (neither myself nor the Secretary being present) that this Answer should be printed in one of the papers of that day. This was opposed & occasioned some little debate, when the Question was put & determined in the affirmative 7 to 3: among the 75 was one Gentleman who rather acquiesced6 than Approved; the other 6 being firm7 in this System. In the course of this debate & also in the first bringing in this paper one Gentleman argued against it & protested8 against some parts of it. Another took him9 aside & said “you had better not distinguish yourself in this Opposition; the Council are determined not to alter a Word in this paper; they are resolved to adhere to the people.” The same last mentioned Gentleman, in arguing for the printing, said, “I have no immediate communication with them (meaning the Sons of Liberty) but I know pretty well what is going on by my intimately conversing with many of the middling people. I say it again ^& again^ & would have it well understood, that if We dont print the Answer to the Governor this day, there will soon be no Government.”

    Accordingly they immediately sent for one of the printers of the Government Gazette & ordered him to stop his press, & gave the only Copy of the Answer to him, to set the press by, immediately after it was finished. I came into the Council chamber a little after 11 & there I found10 one of the Council with the printer correcting the press: after which & not before, the paper was delivered to me.11 I told the Gentleman that I would immediately represent this to his Majesty as the highest insult that ever was put upon a Kings Governor. He answered that there was no intention of affronting me. I replied that most probably there was not ^personally^; for I had never deserved to be ill used by them: but there was a great affront put upon the King in his representative; and it was my business to resent that.

    To show the high Nature of this usurpation, I must observe that the Council (except in their legislative capacity) have no activity of their own without the Governor; they are by Charter appointed to advise & assist the Governor, & therefore they cannot meet without the Governor nor can act in Any business but what he proposes. Indeed it is has12 been usual to appoint Committees to prepare papers for the Council; but then such papers are reported to the Governor in Council and have no Validity untill they are confirmed there. But for a Council to meet without the Governor, to appoint a Committee, to meet again & receive the report of the Committee, to admit a Motion for printing their proceedings & put the Question upon it, & to order the proceedings to be printed without the Governors consent or knowledge & even before it was reported to him, is alltogether a transaction never known or imagined before, & wholly illegal ^& unconstitutional^. There is but one way to make it regular, & that is to consider the Council as meeting in their legislative Capacity; this indeed will make all right; & they will form an upper house to the Assembly of Representatives now sitting in Convention;13 and then there will be nothing wanting to render it a compleat general Court but the Authority ^and Representative of the King^. If All this coming together does not operate so as to produce an amendment (at least) of the Charter, Wise & Good Men who want to see the Authority of the Kings Government restored, or rather rebuilt upon a more ^firm^ foundation, will be disappointed. There is but one rational Way of accounting for these proceedings of the Council so contrary to their conduct about 7 months ago: and this is, that they are desirous to lend an hand to the Convention to bring about a forfeiture of the Charter; which, considering how they have heretofore been treated by their constituents, they may well be supposed to desire.

    As to the Answer, I have little to say about it, having fully explained the System it is founded upon in my letter immediately preceeding. If it wants any thing more I will add a paragraph, which one of the Council proposed to be inserted in their answer to me, but it was rejected. This paper has by chance fell into my hands in the hand^writing^ of the proposer; and I will inclose a Copy of it.14 It fully shows that there is an Intention of opposing the Troops by embarrassing their quarters & attacking them afterwards by means of such embarrassment; to justify which a formal System of Law is allready prepared. As to what the Council have desired for the printing a former Answer to me which I sent a Copy of to your Lordship with my Letter No [blank],15 your Lordship must understand that since the Council (I mean the Majority of them in & about the Town of Boston) have gone over to the popular party, (the day of which revolt is precisely fixed) they have been Very fond in imitation of the Faction of the House, to do business by writings calculated for the press. The paper referred to16 was plainly written for that purpose: but I prevented it’s being published hitherto; & shall, notwithstanding this public ^call^ added to many private. In regard to the present publication, Upon the first opening this business I charged their proceedings with Secrecy; and the only pretence to Evade this charge is that I did not renew that charge at ev’ry adjournment, tho’ the same business was continued.

    And now, My Lord, I consider this Government as intirely subdued. The Outworks have been taken by degrees. The Citadell ^(the Council)^ however remained to the King untill within these 3 months. Now, that is surrendered; and the Garrison has joined the Enemy. To speak plain, Now the Council cooperate with the Opponents of Government, & they whose business it is to advise & assist me do all they can to embarrass me; they who ought to join with me in executing the Kings commands are at the head of those who oppose them. What can I do? Circumstanced as this Government at present is, Ipsa Salus non potest servare hanc rem publicam.17 If the 3 Regiments ordered to Boston were now quietly in their quarters, (which I don’t see how they are like to be by the means of the civil power only) It would not follow that the Civil Government could resume its functions: It will take sometime to recover that intimidation & Lacheté18 which has pervaded all orders of Men. I shall write more particularly upon this subject when I write in an answer to the other parts of your Lordships letter, which the present emergencies prevent.

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

    Fra Bernard

    The right honble the Earl of Hillsborough.

    ALS, RC     CO5/757, ff 419-422.

    Endorsed: Boston Sept: 26. 1768. Govr Bernard (No. 24). R 3d Novber. A.51. The annotations refer to the names provided in the enclosed “List of the Council who passed upon the Answer [of the Council of 26 Sept. 1768],” CO 5/757, f 429. Enclosures: [proposed addition to the draft answer of the Massachusetts Council of 26 Sept.], CO 5/757, ff 423-424; copies of the minutes of the Massachusetts Council of 19 and 22 Sept. 1768, attested by Andrew Oliver, ibid, ff 423-428; a copy of the Answer of the Massachusetts Council of 26 Sept., printed in the Massachusetts Gazette, 26 Sept. 1768, ibid., f 430; and a “List of the Council who passed upon the Answer,” ibid. f 429; a postscript dated 30 Sept. (No. 693).19 The packet carrying the RC sailed on 28 Sept.20 Variants: CO 5/767, ff 108-114 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 56-62 (L, LbC); Letters to the Ministry (1st ed.), 62-65; Letters to the Ministry (repr.), 83-88. Hillsborough acknowledged receipt with No. 712.21 Copies of the letter together with the enclosures were laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 3.