808 | To Thomas Hutchinson

    No. 6

    Pall Mall Nov 16. 1769.

    Dear Sir

    I have received your Letters of August 26th & of Octr 4, 5, 6 by Mr Harrison who came to me two days ago, & I have seen him every day since.1 The Question from America is, what will the Parliament do: to this no positive Answer can possibly be given with any certainty at present. The Opinion of particulars may be picked out: but I beleive there has been no Question put upon this Subject in any Council as yet. I find the Ministers I have conversed with, very well disposed to America in general, but by no means inclined to make Concessions which may be made the Foundation of new Demands. And therefore tho I have no Doubt but that the Duties on Paper, Glass & painters Colours will be repealed, I am as fully persuaded that that upon Tea will not. As the Regulation upon Tea must be considered rather as a Bounty of 9d than a Duty of 3d,2 Americans insisting upon an Alteration of this Regulation must be understood in one of these two Lights: either to gain a Triumph over the Parliament by refusing a Bounty because it is accompanied with a Duty & to oblige them to give a Testimony against their own Powers by repealing a Law beneficial to America upon a Question of right only; or by preventing the low Price of Tea, which by this Bounty has been intended, to favour the Importation of foreign Tea which can be rendered beneficial to Smugglers only by keeping up the Price of British Tea.

    This is so well understood that I much doubt whether the repealing the Duty of Tea will be moved at all in the House of Commons; if it is, I dare say it will not succeed. As to repealing other American Duties, I never hear it mentioned, nor do I beleive it is thought of. The Writers at Boston have fully warned People against Concessions as tending only to increase Demands. The Repeal I before mentioned to be likely to take Place would have been defeated by the Proceedings of our Assembly if it had not been observed that the Assurance of an Intention of such a Repeal (not a prom[ise)]3 had been made to the whole Continent & therefore could not be discharged by the ^mis^Behaviour of a small Part of it. But I am well persuaded that if upon this ^intended^ Indulgence taking place, the Combination against British Goods should be continued, vig’rous Measures to suppress them will be taken; for which Purpose the present Laws are more forcible than, it seems, the American Combiners have an Idea of.

    This Day a Gentleman, a Member of Parliament, and in a principal Office, who is more conversant with Persons of different Parties than any one I know said in the presence of another Gentleman then also visiting me, that the Opposition would attack the Ministry at next Session, upon British Matters only & not upon those of America. And gave for the Reason, that upon the former they could agree upon one uniform System; but upon the latter it was impossible for them to converse without breaking into Divisions. And indeed when one considers of whom the Opposition is composed, it is impossible that they should join together in any one System for America, without departing from their Professions to too great a Length to admit of any Decent Covering. This Gentleman concluded that the Ministry might do in American Affairs, within the Bounds of Prudence and Discretion, as they pleased, without any Danger of an effectual Controll.

    I can’t condemn the Proceedings of your Sons nor of my own: perhaps yours have gone full as far as they ought and mine too far. The Expediency of preventing your having any Disputes in which your Children should be principals is obvious.4 I hope that effectual Measures to prevent such violent and arbitrary Proceedings for the future will soon be taken.

    I am &c.

    Lieut Govr Hutchinson

    L, LbC      BP, 8: 17–20.