724 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 37

    Boston Dec 26th 1768

    My Lord

    In my Letter No 331 I informed your Lordship that I should endeavour to reform the Bench of Justices, by appointing some new Justices, & by engaging proper Gentlemen now in the Commission to qualify themselves to act therein. In the first of these I have been able to appoint only 2 Gentlemen2 who would undertake to act & who I thought proper for the Office; altho’ I offered it to some others, who declined it upon the Terms of undertaking to act, which I made inseparable from the appointment.

    In the second Method, I applied to about 12 Gentlemen at once with the privity of one another; among whom were the Secretary & Mr Flucker of the Council a Gentleman singular for his fidelity to the King, both of which & one or two others engaged to act if I could engage 4 or 5 others to join with them. For this Purpose I invited those, whom I had applied to, to dine with me, when we talked the Matter over; but I could not engage them to join in any Number for the intention proposed & was obliged to refer it to a farther time. Some time after Mr Flucker3 who had undertook to sollicit this business with the Gentlemen separately, reported to me that He could not engage any Number of them to act. The Reason given for their refusal was that there were among the present acting Justices so many that were leaders or creatures of the faction, that if they were to associate with them, they must expect to be affronted & insulted & by all ways & means made sick of the Office; that whilst there sat upon the bench persons who had publickly avowed the principles of opposition to the Kings Government & even resistance to his legal Authority & had openly & in the day time supported & headed the mobs raised for that purpose, they could not think that Bench to be a Seat of honour; They must therefore wait, till they see what Steps will be taken for restoring the Authority of this Government; and punishing the disturbers of the peace of it: and if the Justices who have cooperated with the faction in opposition & resistance to the King, shall be removed from their Commissions, either by superseding their particular Commissions or, what would be much better, by superseding of the whole Commission & appointing a New Commission, some of them & others as good would be ready to go upon the bench.

    I could not oppose the force of this reasoning, but was obliged to give up the urging this proposal for the present, even with those who had half-engaged; as they had made it a condition that others should join with them. I shall however neglect no oportunity of adding a good Man to the Bench when I can. But the friends of Government have not yet recover’d themselves: personal intimidation indeed has been a good deal removed by the arrival of the troops; but political intimidation is not much abated, nor as yet ^has^ had any proper releif. Great Pains have been taken to work up an actual Warfare between the Town & the Soldiery: but these Attempts have hitherto been defeated by the prudence of the officers & the patience of the Soldiers. In this infamous Work, some of the Justices have laboured in granting Warrants against Soldiers for obeying orders & doing their duty according to the usual discipline; And it is threatned that there will be a prosecution at the quarter Sessions against the officers & Men who releive the guards on a Sunday, which they say is a breach of the Sabbath. I shant wonder if it is so: but in such Case, I shall interpose by ordering a Noli prosequi.4

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

    Fra Bernard

    The right honorable the Earl of Hillsborough.

    ALS, RC     CO 5/758, ff 38-40.

    Endorsed: Boston 26th. Decr. 1768. Governor Bernard (No. 37) R 24th: Feby 1769. B.9. Variants: CO 5/893, ff 96-97 (dupLS, RC); CO 5/767, ff 202-204 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 118-121 (L, LbC). Hillsborough acknowledged receipt in a letter of 1 Mar., intending to delay replying until the Parliament had completed its present deliberations on American affairs.5 BP, 12: 61-64. FB’s letter was considered by the Board of Trade on 1 Dec. 1769. JBT, 13: 125.