Primary tabs

Message From the Governour to the Council



December 6, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: The uninterrupted harmony which has subsisted between me and the Council has been one of the most satisfactory events of my administration. It has been my constant inclination and endeavour to preserve it by every means consistent with my duty. My conduct to you, as a body and as individuals, has ever been such as to manifest a disposition to oblige you as far as was in my power, If this has been hitherto the case, which I believe none of you will deny, it is not probable that I should, at this unhappy period, wantonly, and without cause, do any thing


that might endanger that harmony, or occasion "even the appearance of disunion." Why you should therefore, of a sudden, apprehend that I meant, in my reply to your address, to cast any reflections on your conduct, I cannot conceive. If my expressions are, as you say, darkly penned, that circumstance might have afforded you a just pretence for asking an explanation, but surely not for an unhesitating application to yourselves of any matter "which your consciences tell you that you do not deserve."

Your address was perfectly satisfactory to me, except that part in which you gave your opinion respecting the personal safety of the officers of this Government. I should have been very happy if I could have joined you in that opinion, and should not then have failed congratulating you on so joyful an occasion. It did not appear to me that it was warranted by the circumstances really existing in the Province, and it evidently carried with it an implication that the degree of apprehension mentioned in my speech was ill founded. As nothing was further from my intentions than the exciting of false alarms, I did not choose to lie even under the suspicion. On that account, I thought it necessary to particularize some of the reasons which induced me to differ in sentiments with you on that point. Whether you or I have the best grounds for our opinion, others will judge. I expressed not the least doubt of your thinking the opinion you have just and right, but I thought it proper, at the same time, to assure you that I could not agree with you in that opinion, "without being guilty of a subterfuge, which gentlemen of your candour must disapprove." Why you should, from these words, suppose that I meant a distant hint that you had been guilty of such a subterfuge, I cannot imagine; especially as your "consciences tell you that you do not deserve it." Nor can I conceive that you have the least pretence for taxing me with "throwing an unworthy reflection on the inhabitants of this Province." Whatever I may think applicable to some individuals on the present occasion, I have said nothing which can, without manifest perversion of my words, be applied to the people at large. My real opinion of them, and my confidence in their affection and regard, are too fully and clearly expressed in my speech, (and my conduct has been conformable thereto,) not to defeat any purpose that may be intended by such an unworthy suggestion.

Though I think as favourable of the Crown officers in general in this Province as you can do, yet I am not able to comprehend that it must therefore be an "ungenerous insinuation" to intimate that some of them may have been induced, by timidity or other motives, to "depart from the line of their duty." That some have actually departed from the line of their duty, from some motives or other, is a matter too publickly known to justify any attempt at concealment, particularly as you have at this session advised me to suspend one of the most considerable of them from his office, on that account only.

I entirely agree with you, that "aspersions ought not to be thrown out but on the surest grounds." Why then, have you, without any foundation whatever, thrown out that a "general calumny and detraction" on "all ranks of people in this Province" is to be found in my reply? Is it because I there told you that "it is not likely that there will be found many of them who will choose to pay such a price (as their honour) for such a consideration "as their safety? Or is it because I said that it was not "probable (if they should) that they would meet with your approbation?" Or is it merely to give you some pretence for introducing an otherwise inapplicable quotation?

Far be it from me, however we may differ in sentiments on particular points, to pretend any doubt of your zeal in the cause "of publick justice, the honour of Government, and support of the Constitution." I have never given the least intimation of the kind; but, on the contrary, I have had frequent occasion, and never omitted any opportunity of signifying my approbation of your conduct. Even the reply at which you have so causelessly taken offence contains "my hearty thanks for the assurances you gave me of your readiness to exert yourselves in the defence of the Constitution," &c. But if you expect an implicit "confidence in your assertions," even when they may happen to appear to me evidently not well founded, you expect more than is possible for you to obtain. I ever wish you to give


me your sentiments fully and freely on all occasions. They will always have weight with me, if not too repugnant to my judgment. But if, from my own knowledge of things, I entertain a different opinion, I shall not hesitate to tell you so, nor to give you my reasons, even though I should be previously certain that my expressions would be again tortured for reflections and innuendoes never intended.

Were it proper for me to mention here the steps I took, in a private way, to prevent all cause of dissatisfaction on account of the exceptionable part of your address, before it was presented in form, no one could be at the least loss to determine which of us have given the strongest proofs of a sincere disposition to avoid "even the appearance of disunion." But of this circumstance, though well known to some of your members, you, as a body, may, perhaps, with a specious propriety, declare yourselves "totally ignorant."