766 | To John Pownall

    private dupl

    Boston April 23th1 1769

    Dear Sir,

    I received your Letter of feb[ry]19th2 on April 20 & am extremely obliged to you for it, not only for the Communication it dispenses but also for the Consolation it affords; for I assure you that the Friends of Government are not as yet the triumphant Party.

    The Articles you mention as under present Consideration are all of them in my Opinion relevant & unexceptionable upon this present Occasion. That of repealing the 7th of George 3rd, which I call the Salary Act is in my Opinion relevant & unexceptionable the Colonies where a civil List is allready established & continuing it in those whore have not made such Establishment is in untill they make it is wise constitutional & provisional.3 And Nothwithstanding it has become fashionable to condemn Mr Townsend’s American Acts in general, yet I have allways thought that he evidenced his Knowledge of America by striking at the Root of the American Disorders, the Want of a certain & adequate civil List to each Colony.

    And tho I think he did not take the best Steps for this Purpose; as it seems to me that a Requisition to the Colonies & a Refusal from them ought to have preceded this Parliamentary Provision; yet it is no little Merit to have pointed out to Administration the Necessity of this Measure & prepared the Way for effecting it. And time has been thereby given for avoiding an obvious Inequity in that Act, which struck me at the first View, that the Colonies who had established permanent civil Lists, should be taxed to make good the civil Lists of other Colonies. If this Objection is removed, & the Repeal of the Act is left to the Colonies themselves upon the Condition (which, by the by, is the Condition upon which they have received the Power of Legislation) of their establishing certain adequate civil Lists, the Sovreign Power & the Colonies themselves will be obliged to Mr Townsend for the Foundation he has laid for this necessary Regulation.

    For my own Part I am very far from being sanguine in my Expectation of what will be done to retrieve the Affairs of America. But whatever the Defects in this Business are & wherever they ^shall^ lie I will acquit the Administration of them. I am fully satisfied of the Difficulties they lie under from the turbulent State of the Environs of Government & Parliament; which must in some degree defeat their Intentions for the Public Good.

    The Honor proposed for me I have allready said may be of Public Service; and if it should be so expedited as to arrive here before the Meeting of the Assembly on the last Day of May (which indeed I can’t expect) it might have very good Effects. I find there is to be a violent Affair made upon me by Mr Bowdoin &Co at the opening of the new Assembly: and the Question will be whether their Proceedings for these 8 Months past, or my Reports of them are the Cause of showing the Impropriety of the popular Appointment of the Cause of showing the Impropriety of the popular appointment of Council. I should be ready to argue this Point with them before any adequate Judges: but the Misfortune is that they will by anonymous Libells in the Newpapers appeal to a Tribunal to whose Judicature I cannot submit, especially with anonymous Prosecutors. However I shall take Care to defeat their Intentions as well as I can; tho to be sure they have a great Advantage over me by the Possession of Letters wrote in Confidence without Expectation of their being published.

    I have observed that the Orders I have received for procuring Information &c are confined to Treason & Misprision of Treason.4 This will make my Work short: for tho their Practices were treasonable yet I cannot fix upon any Act that seems to me to be actual Treason. The Conspiracy to take the Castle, if we could get at the Bottom of it seems to me to come the nearest to it;5 but that seems to want an ouvert Act to make it compleat Treason. And there can be no Misprision of Treason, where there is no actual Treason. I am to have a Consultation tomorrow6 upon this Subject & then shall judge with more certainty.

    I shall issue the Writs for the new Assembly next Saturday & shall call it at Cambridge.7 This would be too near Boston if any good was to be expected from the Assembly: but Matters are in such a State of Desperation & Suspension that it signifies Nothing where the Court meets. It will be of no Use to make any more Negatives: for now the Delinquency is become so general, that there is more exception to be taken to Persons within the Council than out of it.

    I am &c

    J Pownall Esqr

    dupL, LbC     BP, 7: 282-285.

    In handwriting of Thomas Bernard.