407 | To John Pownall

    Boston, Octr 26, 1765.

    Dear Sr,

    It is as I expected: The Faction has got Possession of the Assembly & are driving on at a furious rate. The House has given an Answer to my Speech, very injurious to me and full of misrepresentations & false insinuations to my Prejudice: & yet the whole turns upon the unpopularity of my Conduct in endeavouring to get the Stamp Act carried into execution, & not going with the People in opposition to it. This answer [was]1 drawn up in Boston some time ago, & recd. some little softning from the House, leaving enough to show the a[cri]mony of the Spirit which dictated it. I shall reply to it; & then will send you the Answer & the reply together.2

    The next Step was to appoint a Committee of  [picked]3 men to draw up a set of resolves as a protestation of their Adherence to their rights & Priviledges, as they call there Opposition to the parliament. As soon as this Committee met, a Boston Member (a considerable writer in the Boston Gazette)4 pulled out a set of resolves ready cut & dryed. Whether they have passed the House or not, I dont know: but I expect when they come out, they will not be found inferior to the Rhode Island resolves or any others if there are any worse; unless they should receive considerable alteration in the House: for I know the mint they come out of.5

    Another thing proposed in the House is, to proclaim a fast: At first it was moved to address me to appoint a general fast; but my Compliance being much doubted, the Motion was changed to having a fast for the general Court only, as has been often practised. This is still in Suspense: but the Chaplain of the two Houses,6 a very discrete man, has, as I am told, been among the representatives to beg of them not to proceed in this business; with what success I know not. To be sure such a Fast is a mere Farce, & it were well if it is not the Prologue to a Tragedy: such were the Fasts7 celebrated in England 120 Years ago. If the two Houses agree to a fast, I shall make one with them: for I never decline preaching & praying whatever is the occasion.8

    But the grand Effort & what if it succeeds will be a Coup de Maitre,9 is to provide for keeping open the public Offices without the use of Stamps. This is at this time actually under the Consideration of a Committee of both Houses; and there is a bill ready prepared, wherein, after reciting that Mr Oliver has resigned the Office of Stamp Distributor, and the Governor has declared that he has no power to appoint any one to such an Office, whereby the People has are prevented having Stamps, it is enacted that it shall be made lawful to do Business without Stamps, the Act of Parliament to the contrary notwithstanding. It is true that they who bring in this bill10 know that I can not shall not pass it: but what of that? it will answer their purpose; which is to bring upon me all the odium of the inconveniences, losses, & Miseries which will follow the non usage of Stamps. The People will be told that all these are owing ^to^ me who refused passing an Act which would have prevented them; & no notice will be taken of my incapacity to pass such an Act. So that I shall be made to appear to bring on these Evils which I have taken so much pains to avoid prevent.

    If therefore this Act should pass (as I sho[uldn’t?]11 wonder if it does, considering the extreme Timidity of the Council, I mean such part who ^of it^ as does not profess to join in these popular measures) I must immediately quit the Province. I have before told you that I would not quit my post when it was tenable: but in this case it will not be so. I may stay here till my House is pulled down about my Ears, or I am knocked down on the Head: but as I am sure his Majesty requires no such sacrifice, I shall avoid it if I can. If I am obliged to leave this Province, I shall think it better to go to London than to Halifax because I may be of no little Service to the former but can be of none at the Latter; & if my presence should be speedily required, I can return from London as soon as I can from Halifax, if I wait there for orders from home in answer to my latest letters. I am persuaded that if my present Situation could have been foreseen, I should have ^been^ Ordered home. For myself, I have no business that calls me to England, I would avoid such a Voyage if I could especially at this time of the Year; I really can’t well afford the expence of it. If I should take such a step, it will be entirely with regard to his Majesty’s Service according to the best of my Service judgement: I must therefore fling myself upon his Majesty’s Mercy in departing from orders with an upright intention & an earnest desire to serve his Majesty in the best manner. One great inducement to this would be the leaving the Lt Govr in the Chair, being persuaded that it would ^might^ be for the best that he should take it for half a Year; as he will not be so subject to resentment of the endeavours to carry the Act of parliament into execution.12 You must consider this13 as the first thoughts at seeing difficulties coming upon me, which will require an instant resolution to extricate myself from.14

    I inclose herewith a certificate of my having taken the Oath required by the Stamp Act: which I framed from a Copy of the Act printed here;15 there being not one authentick Act here: there never were but two, & those sent under private Covers. It is strange that Governors should have not those Acts sent them by which they are liable to Penalties. I suppose the Parcells of Stamps inclose some of these Acts: but no one dares meddle with them. I expect the Ship which is to carry this, will go before I expect have occasion to add anything to it.

    I am Sr, &c. &c.

    J Pownall Esqr.

    AL, LbC BP, 5: 12-15.