769 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 9

    Boston May 8 1769

    My Lord

    Within these few days there have been 2 meetings of the subscribers against the importation of British goods to inforce the observation of their agreement. At the first meeting1 they appointed a Committee to enquire who had imported British goods contrary to their agreement, & to engage those who had ^not^ entered into it to do it now. In the enquiry they found that sevral subscribers, some of them violent sons of liberty, had imported goods contrary to the agreement. These excused themselves by the pretence of their orders having been mistaken or miscarryed; and offered to deliver up the goods into the Custody of other Subscribers. This will be done one week,2 untill the talk is over; and the goods will be returned in another.

    In the other business they had no success, not one person, that I can learn, having added a name to the Subscription. Among the non subscribers are several of the first merchants of the Town. Some of these expostulated with the Committee upon the ruin they were bringing upon the Town; & observed to them that the Rhode Island Merchants were now importing great quantities of goods beyond what was ever known before; that 2 rich Ships were lately come into Salem & Marblehead; that others were expected at Newbury, Falmouth &c; by which means the Trade which used to go thro’ Boston would get into other channels & would not be recovered. Some of the younger traders pointed to the main guard, and reminded them that the Town was not now under the Dominion of the Mob; but they were all free men. It is remarkable that the Scotch Merchants, who are a considerable Body, are all, to a Man, importers; & two ships laden with Scotch & North Country goods are just now come in.3

    As the party cannot now exercise mob Law, upon which I verily beleive they had great dependence when they first set about this subscription, they now threaten the importers with publishing their names as Enemies to their Country.4 To this it is answered, that if they do so, they should take care to indemnify the printers; for evry person whose name was so published would bring a separate Action against the printers. This therefore was declined; & they contented themselves with publishing an Advertisement wherein they endeavour to palliate their disappointment & make one more dying effort, before it is over with them.5 But the general Opinion is, that the combination has allready received its deaths wound; and as soon as an Advance upon goods takes place, as it has begun to do allready, the Mask of patriotism will drop off, & the Selfishness of the engrossers will appear; and then those traders, who have been drawn into this Scheme without having made ^provision^ to prevent the effects of it upon themselves, will strive who shall stock their stores first.

    A Gentleman from N York tells me that the Merchants there continue Very stout in non-exportation.6 But if Exportation should become general at Boston, as it still continues to be at Philadelphia, the New Yorkers will find themselves between two fires, & will see their trade to New Jersey invaded on the one side & that to Connecticut on the other: and then self defence will oblige them to import also. This, in my Opinion, will be the End of this Combination before the year’s out.

    I have the honour to be with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The right honble the Earl of Hillsborough

    ALS, RC     CO 5/758, ff 116-117.

    Endorsed: [_ _ _]7 Govr Bernard (No 9) R 23d June — By Capt. Bryan of the Wolf. B.27. Enld.8 Enclosed the Massachusetts Gazette, 11 May 1769; a printed handbill “To Fellow Citizens and Countrymen,” c. May 1769; and a [report of a meeting of the Boston merchants and traders, May 1769] extracted from the Boston Weekly News-Letter, 4 May 1769, CO 5/758, ff 118-121. Variants of letter: CO 5/893, ff 128-129 (dupLS, RC); CO 5/767 ff 317-320 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 161-163 (L, LbC).