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abuse upon it, mingled with encomium on the governors. But the favorite part of his discourse was levelled at your agent, who stood there the butt of his invective ribaldry for near an hour, not a single Lord adverting to the impropriety and indecency of treating a public messenger in so ignominious a manner, who was present only as the person delivering your petition, with the consideration of which no part of his conduct had any concern.) If he had done a wrong, in obtaining and transmitting the letters, that was not the tribunal where he was to be accused and tried. The cause was already before the Chancellor. Not one of their Lordships checked and recalled the orator to the business before them, but, on the contrary, a very few excepted, they seemed to enjoy highly the entertainment, and frequently burst out in loud applauses. This part of his speech was thought so good, that they have since printed it, in order to defame me everywhere, and particularly to destroy my reputation on your side of the water; but the grosser parts of the abuse are omitted, appearing, I suppose,
I in their own eyes, too foul to be seen on paper; so that the speech, compared to what it was, is now perfectly decent. I send you one of the copies. My friends advise me to write an answer, which I purpose immediately
The reply of Mr. Dunning concluded. Being very ill, and much incommoded by standing so long, his voice was so feeble, as to be scarce audible. What little I heard was very well said, but appeared to have little effect.
Their Lordships' Report, which I send you, is dated the same day. It contains a severe censure, as you will see, on the petition and the petitioners; and, as I think, a very unfair conclusion from my silence, that
the charge of surreptitiously obtaining the letters was a true one; though the solicitor, as appears in the printed speech, had acquainted them that that matter was before the Chancellor; and my counsel had stated the impropriety of my answering there to charges then trying in another court. In truth I came by them honorably, and my intention in sending them was virtuous, if an endeavour to lessen the breach between two statęs of the same empire be such, by showing that the injuries complained of by one of them did not proceed from the other, but from traitors among themselves.*
It may be supposed, that I am very angry on this occasion, and therefore I did purpose to add no reflections of mine on the treatment the Assembly and their agent have received, lest they should be thought the effects of resentment and a desire of exasperating. But, indeed, what I feel on my own account is half lost in what I feel for the public. When I see, that all petitions and complaints of grievances are so odious to government, that even the mere pipe which conveys them becomes obnoxious, I am at a loss to know how peace and union are to be maintained or restored between the different parts of the empire. Grievances cannot be redressed unless they are known; and they cannot be known but through complaints and petitions. If these are deemed affronts, and the messengers punished as offenders, who will henceforth send petitions? And who will deliver them? It has been thought a dangerous thing in any state to stop up the vent of griefs. Wise governments have therefore generally received petitions with some indulgence, even when but slightly founded. Those, who think themselves injured by their rulers, are sometimes, by a mild and prudent answer, convinced of their error. But where complaining is a crime, hope becomes despair.
* For other particulars relating to this affair, see Vol. IV. pp. 447 – 455.
The day following I received a written notice from the secretary of the general postoffice, that his Majesty's postmaster-general found it necessary to dismiss me from my office of deputy postmaster-general in North America. The expression was well chosen, for in truth they were under a necessity of doing it; it was not their own inclination; they had no fault to find with my conduct in the office; they knew my merit in it, and that, if it was now an office of value, it had become such chiefly through my care and good management; that it was worth nothing, when given to me; it would not then pay the salary allowed me, and, unless it did, I was not to expect it; and that it now produces near three thousand pounds a year clear to the treasury_here. They had beside a personal regard for me. But, as the postoffices in all the principal towns are growing daily more and more valuable, by the increase of correspondence, the officers being paid commissions instead of salaries, the ministers seem to intend, by directing me to be displaced on this occasion, to hold out to them all an example, that, if they are not corrupted by their office to promote the measures of administration, though against the interests and rights of the colonies, they must not expect to be continued. This is the first act for extending the influence of government in this branch. But, as orders have been some time since given to the American postmaster-general, who used to have the disposition of all places under him, not to fill vacancies of value, till notice of such vacancies had been sent hither, and instructions thereupon received from
hence, it is plain, that such influence is to be a part of the system; and probable, that those vacancies will for the future be filled by officers from this country. How safe the correspondence of your Assembly committees along the continent will be through the hands of such officers may now be worth consideration, especially as the postoffice act of Parliament allows a postmaster to open letters, if warranted so to do by the order of a secretary of state, and every provincial secretary may be deemed a secretary of state in his own province.
It is not yet known what steps will be taken by government with regard to the colonies, or to our province in particular. But, as inquiries are making of all who come from thence, concerning the late riot, and the meetings that preceded it, and who were speakers and movers at these meetings, I suspect there is some intention of seizing persons, and perhaps of sending them hither. But of this I have no certainty. No motion has yet been made in the House of Commons concerning our affairs; and that made in the House of Lords was withdrawn for the present. It is not likely, however, that the session will pass over without some proceeding relating to us, though perhaps it is not yet settled what the measures shall be. With my best wishes for the prosperity of the province, I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY.
Acts of the Pennsylvania Assembly. — Duty on Tea. —
London, 18 February, 1774. DEAR FRIEND, The acts of the February session, 1773, are at last presented, of which I have lately acquainted the Committee.* They are now before the Board of Trade. I do not yet hear of any objection to the paper money bill, and hope there can be none that we shall not get over. I observe there is no declaration of the value of the bills, whether proclamation or sterling.t Possibly, if this should be taken notice of, it may be thought too loose and uncertain, but it may escape their observation; and, if necessary, you can by a little supplement ascertain it.
The treatment of the tea in America has excited
* The acts of the Pennsylvania Assembly, sent over to be approved by the King.
# In Queen Anne's time the currency of the colonies had become so much deranged, by the different denominations given to foreign coins in the different colonies, that she issued a proclamation, dated June 18th, 1704, with the design of introducing uniformity. The proclamation begins as follows. “We, having had under our consideration the different rates at which the same species of foreign coins do pass in our several colonies and plantations in America, and the inconveniences thereof, by the indirect practice of drawing the money from one plantation to another, to the great prejudice of the trade of our subjects, and being sensible that the same cannot be otherwise remedied, than by reducing all foreign coins to the same current rate within all our dominions in America,” &c. The value of the foreign coins in circulation, as proved at the mint, is next stated. The Seville piece of eight, or dollar, is fixed at four shillings and sixpence sterling. The Merico piece of eight the same; and the Pillar piece of eight, at four shillings, six pence, and three farthings. The proclamation then proceeds; “We have therefore thought fit, for remedying the said inconveniences, by the advice of our Council, to publish and declare, that, from and after the first day of January next ensuing the date hereof, no Seville, Pillar, or Mexico