709 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 32

    Boston Nov 12 1768

    My Lord,

    After I had communicated your Lordships letter to the Council,1 I considered that some farther notification of it would be necessary in regard to what related to the preservation of the peace & the protection of the Officers of the Revenue: especially as the Commissioners had fixed upon this week for their return to Boston. A proclamation was not thought proper, as the business was in a manner confined to the Town of Boston. I thereupon thought of a Letter from myself to the Justices of Boston, & accordingly drew one up: wherein I recited such part of your Lordship’s letter as related to them & their business & thereto added injunctions & Admonitions of my Own. I communicated this to the Council last Wednesday,2 proposing, that if it had their approbation, to call the Justices together & deliver it to them by Word of Mouth & then give them Copies of it. But tho’ no exceptions were taken to particulars, the whole was objected to strongly for this reason: that if they were to consent to this Letter, they should appear to approve of the Censures your Lordship had passed upon the Town, which they could not admit it had deserved. I told them I would not enter into an Argument which might tend to impeach the truth or justice of your Lordship’s letter; but I observed that both of them were Very defencible being founded upon Notorious Facts which could not be denied or doubted.

    I then proposed another Method of informing the justices; which was to call the Justices together & after reading such parts of your Lordship’s letter as related to their business, to give them a general Admonition concerning their future conduct. This was objected to, for that an Admonition implied a Censure: this I answered by showing that they did really deserve Censure, & by declaring that I should use them tenderly in that respect. But I found that I should never prevail with the Council to act in this business; that they would not advise to any method of notifying injoining or enforcing the orders contained in your Lordship’s letter; and that I could make nothing of them but passive Associates. I proposed therefore that they should meet in Council the next morning; and I would of my own accord & without their advice order the justices to attend, & would admonish them as I had before proposed. This was at length assented to: tho’ not without one Gentleman’s protesting against it. I accordingly the next day3 assembled the Justices & in the presence of the Council ^having^ caused an Extract of your Lordships letter to be read, I entered into a full explanation of the Nature of their office & their Duty therein; & avoiding, as much as I could, censuring them for their former conduct, I showed what would be expected of them for the future; and I concluded, that If they had a mind to retrieve the credit of the Town, It was not to be done by denying what was passed, but by regulating what was to come. As soon as I had done, a Gentleman of the Council4 who had opposed this business said aloud that he liked this Very well: and the Justices seemed satisfied with this proceeding; and sevral of them gave assurances that they would do their best to preserve the good order of the Town.

    These two conferences with the Council passed with good humour: and in the course of them I had an opportunity to observe upon & lament the servility, in regard to the people, with which the Business of the Council was now done, in comparison to what it used to be. This was not denied: and one Gentleman said, that he did not now enter the Council chamber with that free mind he used to have; but he liked to be concerned in public business, & did not chuse to quit his place in the Council; and therefore must be content to hold it upon such terms as he could. So fair a Confession deserves not to be passed unnoticed. But I should not trouble your Lordship with such trifling Anecdotes, if they did not seem to me ^to be^ the best Method to convey a true Idea of the present state of this Government, & to point out the chief Causes of its disease. And I must myself resort to the cause I am now treating of, to show why I have not executed all the Kings commands in as full a manner as may be expected from me. But, My Lord, the Council themselves have for above 4 months past taken great pains to show from whence the imbecillity of this Government arises; & have brought more forcible Arguments, than any one else could have urged, to show how necessary it is become that the King should have the Council chamber in his own hands. How this can be done may be a question; the Exigency of it is none.

    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 524-525.

    Endorsed: Boston Novr 12th. 1768. Govr. Bernard (No. 32) R 30 Decemr. A.67. Variants: CO 5/767, ff 171-174 (L, RLbC); Bowdoin and Temple Papers, Loose MSS (L, Copy); BP, 7: 100-103 (L, LbC); Boston Gazette, 23 Jan. 1769;5 Copies of Letters from Governor Bernard to Hillsborough; Letters to Hillsborough (1st ed.), 10-11; Letters to Hillsborough (repr.), 18-21. Copies were presented to Parliament on 20 Jan. 1769.6