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myself, it appeared I had been much misapprehended; and he wished of all things I would see Lord Hyde, and asked if I would choose to meet him there (at Mrs. Howe's), or that he should call upon me. I said, that I would by no means give Lord Hyde that trouble. That, since he (Lord Howe) seemed to think it might be of use, and wished it done soon, I would wait upon Lord Hyde. I knew him to be an early riser, and would be with him at eight o'clock the next morning; which Lord Howe undertook to acquaint him with. But I added, that, from what circumstances I could collect of the disposition of ministry, I apprehended my visit would answer no material purpose. He was of a different opinion; to which I submitted.
The next morning, March 1st, I accordingly wa? early with Lord Hyde, who received me with his usual politeness. We talked over a great part of the dispute between the countries. I found him ready with all the newspaper and pamphlet topics; of the expense of settling our colonies, the protection afforded them, the heavy debt under which Britain labored, the equity of our contributing to its alleviation; that many people in England were no more represented than we were, yet all were taxed and governed by Parliament, &c. &c. I answered all, but with little effect; for, though his Lordship seemed civilly to hear what I said, I had reason to believe he attended very little to the purport of it, his mind being employed the while in thinking on what he himself purposed to say next.
He had hoped, he said, that Lord North's motion would have been satisfactory; and asked what could be objected to it. I replied, the terms of it were, that we should grant money till Parliament had agreed we had given enough, without having the least share in judging of the propriety of the measure for which it was to be granted, or of our own abilities to grant; that these grants were also to be made under a threat of exercising a claimed right of taxing us at pleasure, and compelling such taxes by an armed force, if we did not give till it should be thought we had given enough; that the proposition was similar to no mode of obtaining aids that ever existed, except that of a highwayman, who presents his pistol and hat at a coach window, demanding no specific sum, but, if you will give all your money, or what he is pleased to think sufficient, he will civilly omit putting his own hand into your pockets; if not, there is his pistol. That the mode of raising contributions in an enemy's country was fairer than this, since there an explicit sum was demanded, and the people who were raising it knew what they were about, and when they should have done; and that, in short, no free people could ever think of beginning to grant upon such terms. That, besides, a new dispute had now been raised, by the Parliament's pretending to a power of altering our charters and established laws, which was of still more importance to us than their claim of taxation, as it set us all adrift, and left us without a privilege we could depend upon, but at their pleasure; this was a situation we could not possibly be in; and, as Lord North's proposition had no relation to this matter, if the other had been such as we could have agreed to, we should still be far from a reconciliation.
His Lordship thought I misunderstood the proposition; on which I took it out and read it. He then waved that point, and said he should be glad to know from me, what would produce a reconciliation. I said, that his Lordship, I imagined, had seen several proposals of mine for that purpose. He said he had; but some of my articles were such as would never be agreed to. That it was apprehended I had several instructions and powers to offer more acceptable terms, but was extremely reserved, and perhaps from a desire he did not blame, of doing better for my constituents; but my expectations might deceive me; and he did think I might be assured I should never obtain better terms than what were now offered by Lord North. That administration had a sincere desire of restoring harmony with America; and it was thought, if I would cooperate with them,, the business would be easy. That he hoped I was above retaining resentment against them, for what nobody now approved, and for which satisfaction might be made me; that I was, as he un-' derstood, in high esteem among the Americans; that, if I would bring about a reconciliation on terms suitable to the dignity of government, I might be as highly and generally esteemed here, and be honored and rewarded, perhaps, beyond my expectation.
I replied, that I thought I had given a convincing proof of my sincere desire of promoting peace, when, on being informed that all wanted for the honor of government was, to obtain payment for the tea, I offered, without any instruction to warrant my so doing, or assurance that I should be reimbursed, or my conduct approved, to engage for that payment, if the Massachusetts acts were to be repealed; an engagement in which I must have risked my whole fortune, which I thought few besides me would have done. That, in truth, private resentments had no weight with me in public business; that I was not the reserved man imagined, having really no secret instructions to act upon. That I was certainly willing to do every thing that could reasonably be expected of me. But, if any supposed I could prevail with my countrymen to take black for white, .and wrong for right, it was not knowing either them or me; they were not capable of being so imposed on, nor was I capable of attempting it.
He then asked my opinion of sending over a commissioner, for the purpose mentioned in a preceding part of this account, and my answer was to the same effect. By the way, I apprehend, that to give me an opportunity of discoursing with Lord Hyde on that point, was a principal motive with Lord Howe for urging me to make this visit. His Lordship did not express his own sentiments upon it . And thus ended this conversation.
Three or four days after, I received the following note from Mrs. Howe.
"mrs. Howe's compliments to Dr. Franklin; Lord Howe begs to have the pleasure of meeting him once more before he goes, at her house; he is at present out of town, but returns on Monday; and any day or hour after that, that the Doctor will name, he will be very glad to attend him.
"Grafton Street, Saturday, March 4th"
I answered, that I would do myself the honor of waiting on Lord Howe, at her house, the Tuesday following, at eleven o'clock. We met accordingly. He began by saying, that I had been a better prophet than himself, in foreseeing that my interview with Lord Hyde would be of no great use; and then said, that he hoped I would excuse the trouble he • had given me, as his intentions had been good both towards me and the public. He was sorry, that at present there was no appearance of things going into the tram he had wished, but that possibly they might yet take a more favorable turn; and, as he understood I was going soon to America, if he should chance to be sent thither on that important business, he hoped he might still expect my assistance. I assured him of my readiness at all times of cooperating with him in so good a work; and so, taking my leave, and receiving his good wishes, ended the negotiation with Lord Howe. And I heard no more of that with Messrs. Fothergill and Barclay. I could only gather, from some hints in their conversation, that neither of them were well pleased with the conduct of the ministers respecting these transactions. And, a few days before I left London, I met them by their desire, at the Doctor's house, when they desired me to assure their friends from them, that it was now their fixed opinion, that nothing could secure the privileges of America, but a firm, sober adherence to the terms of the association made at the Congress, and that the salvation of English liberty depended now on the perseverance and virtue of America.
During the whole, my time was otherwise much taken up, by friends calling continually to inquire news fromAmerica; members of both Houses of Parliament, to inform me what passed in the Houses, and discourse with me on the debates, and on motions made, or to be made; merchants of London and of the manufacturing and port towns, on their petitions; the Quakers, upon theirs, &,c. &.c.; so that I had no time to take notes of almost any thing. This account is therefore chiefly from recollection, in which doubtless much must have been omitted, from deficiency of memory; but what there is, I believe to be pretty exact; except that, discoursing with so many different persons about the same time, on the same subject, I may possibly have put down some things as said by or to one person, which passed in conversation with another.
A little before I left London, being at the House of Lords, during a debate in which Lord Camden was to speak, and who indeed spoke admirably on American