870 | To Thomas Hutchinson

    No 47

    Hampstead, Nov. 10, 1770.

    Dear Sir,

    My Lord H has shown me your Letter in Answer to his desiring your Opinion of what ought to be done for the reforming the Government of your Province. He observes that it is like a Lawyers Opinion, in which doubts & difficulties are stated but no Conclusion is drawn.1 He should have judged from this Letter that you had no Desire there should be an Alteration of your Government in the Appointment of the Council, if your former Letters had not shewn that you expected, not without Impatience, such an Alteration. I confirmed this by observing that your Letters to me & the Secretary’s & some others showed plainly that the Supporters of Government rested all their Hopes of a restoration of Government upon the intervention of Parliament, which must certainly emancipate the Council, whatever else they might do. I therefore had no Doubt but that your Opinion was in favor of making the Council independent of the Assembly,2 however at this time when the Execution of it was drawing near you might be cautious of expressing. And I added that if this Measure should not be executed by Means of your not giving your Testimony to it, I was sure you would heartily repent of your not speaking out.

    I told my Lord that I had not acquainted you with the Plan that was proposed except by distant Hints, not thinking myself at Liberty so to do. He said that he wished that I had done it: for if I had been more explicit to you, you probably would have been more so to him. He wished that I would do it now: for tho your Answer would not probably arrive till after ^the^ Business was over in Parliament, yet he should be glad to have your Sentiments upon it. And as it appeared to him and me that you had wrote to him in your last with more Caution than was needful he desired me to assure you that you might write to him, private, upon this Subject or any other with the utmost Confidence.

    I wrote to you before, that tho’ there was no Doubt but that the Charter was forfeited, there were many Reasons against taking Advantage of the Forfeiture;3 of which one alone was sufficient, that as there was very little of the Charter from which a Departure was wanted, there was no Occasion to destroy the whole in Order to amend a part. The Power of Parliament to correct & amend a Charter, without the Pretence of a Forfeiture, had been often exercised; & particularly in of the City of London within living Memory, without a Dispute.4 And as the cheif Reformation of the Government, which counteracted the Charter was one only it would be better to do it by Amendment than by Forfeiture; as the Power of Parliament to amend was sufficient whether there was a Forfeiture or not.

    This being premised it was next considered what was wanted to the Reformation of the Government. This being considered fully amounted to about 10 Articles: out of these were struck all such as were not immediately necessary & could be done either by the King, or by the Governor & Council or by the general Court, where the Business could wait for better times. This has ultimately reduced the Alterations to two only, 1 the vesting the Appointment of the Council in the King: 2 that Jurors shall be returned according to the Laws of England, of which some late Statutes are excellently calculated to prevent Prejudice.

    The Plan being thus reduced: the next Consideration was to execute the Change of the Council in the most gentle & easy Manner. For this Purpose it was proposed to take in the whole present Council without making any Distinctions & to add to them all those who have been left out without resigning; these we find to be 9, which added to the present Number make the whole 34. But at the same time the King’s Intention is to be signified that this Council when reduced to 30 is to continue at that Number, being, as I say, the Number intended by the Charter. This Proposal for forming the Council was mine, & since it was made, it has been much confirmed by the late Advices of the Alteration of the Conduct of the Council. I hope this Indulgence will not be abused: I am sensible that it will be the Means of introducing some violent Men who are very little intitled to the King’s Favor. But I thought it was not worthwhile for the sake of two or three mistaken Men to make a Distinction in what is intended as a general Act of Grace. I hope you will have no Occasion to complain of this lenitive Measure.

    And now I have stated this Plan & shown it to be so very easy moderate & practicable, I cannot promise you that it will be carried into Execution. My Lord H thinks very rightly upon this Subject & is a Wellwisher to the Cause. But there is the Concurrence of so many Persons necessary to the carrying on a Measure which is sure to be litigated in both Houses of Parliament, that I know not what to think. This time two years, the vesting the Appointment of the Council in the King was as much intended as it is now; & yet was defeated. At the present time there is a Concurrence of Circumstances more favorable to this Business than ever has happened at any time within my Knowledge. If this Opportunity of reforming your Government is neglected, I shall give up all Expectations of anything being done for the Regulation of America. For by the same means by which this Intention was prevented, must every other Measure for securing the Dependance of America upon Great Britain be defeated.

    I am &c.

    His Excellency Govr Hutchinson

    L, LbC      BP, 8: 138–142.