758 | To John Pownall

    Boston March 25 1769

    Dear Sir

    Your Letter of December 241 came to me but yesterday, the Schooner which brought it having above 11 Weeks Passage & her sailing from England being ten Days after the Date of your Letter.

    You ask me my Sentiments upon the present very critical Situation of American Affairs: at present they are so full of Despondency that I know not how to own them to my most intimate Friend, unless I had an Opportunity in Person to vindicate them. I am not naturally given to Despair; I think that I have shown that I am not: but it appears to me that the British Empire was never in so immediate Danger of Dissolution as it is at present; for a Separation of the Colonies from its sovereign Power I call a Dissolution. The Disorder which is like to produce this Effect is now of near 4 Years standing & has ^been^ encreasing very rapidly; as it has been opposed by Remedies which have served to palliate the Disease rather than to check it.

    It is not now a Secret that the extravagant Demands of the American Legislatures &c have been cheifly founded upon what has been said upon their Behalf in Parliament. I, who have cultivated a Reverence for my Superiors, & a high Opinion of their public Virtues & Abilities, concluded that in this Manner of vindicating the Resistance of the Americans there was some refined Policy at the Bottom; I concluded that the Argument of Representation being necessary to precede Taxation (consequentially due I think it must be allowed) was intended to introduce the Necessity of an American Representation; & I therefore made myself easy about the Consequences, which this Doctrine would introduce by reflecting that it would allways be in the Power of Parliament to apply an effectual Remedy to them that is an American Representation. But, Good God! What must be the Consequence if after a Representation is become a necessary Remedy for the Disorders of America, there should be no Disposition in Parliament to apply it. It should have been applied 3 Years ago; it is full late now; it will soon become ineffectual; & no other Means left for a Reconciliation upon general Principles admitted on both Sides.

    I know not how to argue upon the Resolutions of the House of Lords: the Deference I pay to the Authority of Parliament & the Consideration of their being at present an unfinished Work make it an improper Subject of Animadversion. All I can say is that these Resolutions serve here to elate the Faction & depress the Friends of Government not so much, perhaps, on Account of the Terms in which they are conceived, as for their being Resolutions without Activity; a form of Proceedings, ^which^ considering how much the American Parliaments (as they are called here) have dealt in them, are2 not in much Credit here & are supposed not to promise Activity, And the Conclusion of them “that the Govr be directed to procure the fullest Information &c” is laughed at by the Faction, who know very well that the Governor can do nothing in such a Business with Effect unless he is armed with Powers, which he has not at present; particularily with a Power to oblige People to answer to Questions which dont affect themselves, & are of Importance to Government. In short the Contest between Great Britain & America is got far out of the Reach of the common Law of America &, as it seems, of that of England also; & is remediable only by Parliament in the plenitude of its Power.

    To conclude this diagreeable3 Subject, I shall enclose a Paper just come to Hand being cut out of the last Providence Gazette. I will venture to say there is not a sovereign State in Europe (unless it is Great Britain) by which a Paper so directly aiming at the sovereign Power would not be treated as treasonable; and Yet it will here pass unnoticed, except by the Applauses it receives from the Sons of Liberty.4 It seems wonderful to me that the Parliament should think it worth their while to send for my Mr Baldwyn5 to answer for half a dozen lines (wicked & imprudent enough to be sure) relative to particular Transactions only, & take no Notice of Mess Edes & Gill, T & J Fleet, J Carter & Holt6 &c who are continually directing Daggers to the Heart of their Mother Country & sovereign State. The Fable of the Trumpeter being told, when he was taken Prisoner that he was answerable for all the Mischeifs done by the Soldiers of his Party is very applicable to such Printers. But besides the Demerit of the Printers, this is the best & perhaps the only Way to get at their Leaders.7

    I have ^here^ given you an Effusion of my Head & Heart, which are indeed brim full; & will not be eased to purpose on this Side the Water.8 I have long thought & have often said that I may be made more useful at this Conjuncture at home than I can be here. The Necessity of my staying here last fall was very urgent & indeed alarming. I see it also to be unavoidable that I should continue here to open the new Assembly & untill I can receive all the Dispatches which shall arise from the Proceedings in Parliament, which will include all material Orders to the Time. After this I hope there will be no Objection to my availing myself of my Leave of Absence heretofore obtained for me.

    I am ^with the truest Regard^ &c

    J Pownall Esq

    dupL, LbC     BP, 7: 270-274.