402 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Oct 17 1765

    My Lords

    Altho I have not thought it necessary, & indeed it would be endless, to animadvert upon the conduct of particulars of this province, in these dangerous & troublesome times; yet in some cases it may become an inavoidable duty, as in the instance I am now going to lay before your Lordships it seems to me that it is. I have before complained of the Council in a body not supporting me as they ought to do, without an intention of arraigning individuals. The Popular Constitution of the Council, and the Necessity they are thereby put under to temporise with the people, and the prudence or Timidity (whichever it is to be called) which persuades people to keep out of the way of resentment which carries ruin & desolation before it, and especially the real prudence of endeavouring to keep things quiet, untill the Government can be restored to its activity, have effectually apologised with me for the conduct of sevral gentlemen, whom I know to be in their hearts well wishers to Government & ready to support it, when they can do it with safety & a due regard to their own intrest & conveniency. But When a Gentleman of his Majesty’s Council (for so they are called) so far forgets his Character as to put himself at the head of a factious Town meeting & dictate their proceedings in opposition to & derogation of the Government & Sovreignty of Great Britain, I cannot excuse myself taking So much notice of it, as to report the affair to your Lordships.

    On Monday last, Oct 14th, a Town meeting was held at Cambridge, 4 miles from this Town, to consider of giving instructions to their Members: and the honble William Brattle Esqr one of his Majesty’s Council & Colonel of a Regiment1 was chose Moderator, that is Chairman. A Motion was made that the Governor’s Speech to the Assembly should be read; which was done. Upon which the Mover said that he had a paper in his hand, which he thought was a full Answer to the Governor’s Speech, & he moved that it might be read. The Chairman received it with a seeming surprise as if he knew not what it was, & having first put the question, he read it out. This Paper which I inclose, is an infamous libell against the Government of Great Britain so outrageous & indecent, that it has been printed at a private press, either in this Town or at Rhode Island, it matters not which, & handed about gratis, & was (as I am told) read by the Chairman at his own house two or three days before to a Company who met there to concert this Very business. The Question was then put & resolved in the affirmative that Instructions should be given to their Representatives: Upon this the first Mover, an obscure little Lawyer,2 addressed the Chairman saying “I beleive  your Honour has a paper in your pocket which will suit us upon this occasion; I have heard that you have drawn something upon this subject.” The Chairman answered that he had wrote something upon the occasion & if they pleased he would read it, and accordingly did. The Attorney general,3 who lives in the same town, thereupon observed that this proceeding was very irregular; that where instructions were to be given to Representatives, it was the Constant usage to appoint a Committee to prepare them & report them to the next meeting & not to bring them ready written to the first meeting; that this writing was very exceptionable, for that instead of composing & quieting Mens Minds, which the times required, it tended to inflame & exasperate them. The Chairman defended the propriety of the writing, and putting the question  It was carried in the Affirmative; & was accordingly published in the Newspapers, from whence I send the Copy inclosed: for these kind of instructions are calculated for inflaming the people in general rather than instructing the particular representatives.4

    Having thus stated the Case to your Lordships, it will probably occur to you, that I have it in my power, without any orders from England, to resent this insult upon Government by negativing him upon the next Election of Councellors. It is true: but that is what he wants, & is preparing for; He will then make the business a personal quarrel between him & me, & will make a merit of being an object of the Governors anger. Whereas in truth, altho’ he has been rude to me at other times, he has been remarkably civil to me of late. Besides the Affront is to the Government of great Britain; & if any Resentment is due, it should come from thence, & not seem to proceed from my little cabinet. I have therefore thought proper to State this Matter to your Lordships & wait your orders.

    I am, with great respect, My Lords, Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra. Bernard

    The Right Honble The Lords of Trade &c

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 302-304.

    William Brattle. By John Singleton Copley, 1756. Harvard Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Partial Gift of Mrs. Thomas Brattle Gannett and Partial Purchase through the generosity of Robert T. Gannett, an Anonymous Donor and the Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund, 1978.606.