414 | To Henry Seymour Conway

    Boston Nov 25 1765


    By my letter of Sep 281 I informed your honor that I adjourned the Assembly of this Province to the 23d of Octr, in hopes that in the mean time they would grow more cool & considerate than I found them at their first meeting. But such pains were taken in this interval to inflame the People by flagitious writings in the News papers2 & other Means, that when the Assembly met there was  not the least probability of my prevailing upon the Representatives to assist the execution of the Act: on the contrary a Faction in perpetual Opposition to Government, which had hitherto been pretty well kept down, took the lead; & what with inflammatory speeches within doors & the parades of the mob without, entirely triumphed over the little remains of Government.

    The first thing done was making an Answer to my Speech in terms, which have never been used to me before.3 The Artifice of this consisted in perverting the necessary obligations of my duty into a Voluntary attack of4 the liberties of the people, & thereby representing me who have been hitherto esteemed a popular Governor, as an Enemy to the province.5 I could not submit to this without making a reply; but being determined not to extend the Altercation any further, I reserved it for the conclusion of the Session.6 The next step was to make a set of resolves7 (after the manner of the famous Virginia resolves) which in the preamble are said to be “in order to ascertain the just rights of his Majesty’s subjects of this Province which have been lately drawn into question”: this needs no Comment Another thing was to arraign the Governor & Council8 for giving orders for augmenting the Garrison of the Castle at a time, when it was publickly threaten’d to be attacked, in case the stamped papers, as the Council advised, were lodged there. These orders were revoked as soon as the apprehension of the danger abated; & the whole expence of the proceeding cost less than 88 pounds sterling. Yet this trifling sum issued in a constitutional way out of a fund appropriated to contingent services, was made a pretence for arraigning the Governor & Council, really for preserving the stamped papers, & providing for their Security.

    I shall enclose with this Copies of the Speech, the answer & the reply; from all which I hope it will appear that I have left nothing undone to procure that obedience to this Act, which I think due to evry Act of Parliament from all British Subjects. I am told here that I have done more than I need have done; in that I must judge for myself: certainly I have sacrificed to my duty considerably. Such I reckon my losing the general good Will & good Opinion of the People not by any Act of my own, but by the unavoidable Obligations of My Office in a business in which I had no concern but as an executive Officer. I shall also add a Copy of the resolves, all of them as printed in the Votes of the House

    During the sitting of the Assembly, I attempted to prevent the exhibition of pageants intended for the first of Novr being the commencement of the Stamp Act; & accordingly ordered some companies of Militia to be mustered, with the Unanimous advice of the Council. But the Militia refused to obey my orders; it was said that the people would have their shows. I was accordingly obliged with advice of Council to withdraw my orders & leave them to the representation of images of persons supposed to be the advisers of the stamp Act, which were carried round the Town house,9 whilst the general Court was sitting, to the great Scandal of the Government & good order: This is the last effort of my Authority, which does not now amount to the Command of ten men for the defence of my person. All real power is now in the hands of the people, out of which are formed two companies of Men trained under Captains & publickly countenanced & supported by ^some^ Gentlemen of the first fortunes. These, say they, will keep the Town in peace: tho’ I am much mistaken if the Time is not near when they will again rise against the Kings Officers or Government. I shall endeavour to keep my post, if possible, untill I can receive his Majesty’s orders, how to act in this difficult & dangerous crisis, which I shall expect not without impatience. Nothing but the Expectation of an immediate attack of my person shall drive me from hence.

    I would not presume to give advice to his Majesty’s Ministers of State. But yet I hope I shall be excused, when I reveal my earnest Wishes, that some Means may be found to make it consistent with the Dignity of parliament to put the Stamp-Act out of the question at least for the present. For I am persuaded that Measures which are now become more than ever necessary for bringing America into good order, will Meet with ten fold difficulty, if taken before the present Fermentation has subsided. At present by Artifice prej[u]dice10 & passion good Men & bad Men are unaccountably confounded together: a little time & Management will separate them & bring them under their proper arrangements.

    I am, with great respect, Sr Your honor’s most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble H. S. Conway Esqr.

    ALS, RC CO 5/755, ff 392-398.