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soon be thought proper to treat us not with justice only, but with kindness, and thence we may expect in a few years a total change of measures with regard to us; unless, by a neglect of military discipline, we should lose all martial spirit, and our western people become as tame as those in the eastern dominions of Britain, when we may expect the same oppressions; for there is much truth in the Italian saying, JMake yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you. In confidence of this coming change in our favor, I think our prudence is meanwhile to be quiet, only holding up our rights and claims on all occasions in resolutions, memorials, and remonstrances; but bearing patiently the little present notice that is taken of them. They will all have their weight in time, and that time is at no great distance. With the greatest esteem, I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
TO MRS, DEBORAH FRANKLIN.
London, 6 January, 1773. My DEAR CHILD,
I feel some regard for this sixth of January, as my old nominal birthday, though the change of style has carried the real day forward to the 17th, when I shall be, if I live till then, sixty-seven years of age. It seems but the other day since you and I were ranked among the boys and girls, so swiftly does time fly! We have, however, great reason to be thankful, that so much of our lives has passed so happily; and that so great a share of health and strength remains, as to render life yet comfortable.
I received your kind letter of November 16th by Sutton. The apples are not yet come on shore, but I thank you for them. Captain All was so good as to send me a barrel of excellent ones, which serve me in the mean time. I rejoice to hear that you all continue well. But you have so used me to have something pretty about the boy, that I am a little disappointed in finding nothing more of him, than that he is gone up to Burlington. Pray give in your next, as usual, a little of his history.
All our friends here are pleased with your remembering them, and send their love to you. Give mine to all that inquire concerning me, and a good deal to our children. I am ever, my dear Debby, your affec
tionate husband, B. FRANKLIN.
TO JOHN BARTRAM.
London, 10 February, 1773.
MY DEAR good old FRIEND,
I am glad to learn that the turnip seed and the rhubarb grow with you, and that the turnip is approved. It may be depended on, that the rhubarb is the genuine sort. But, to have the root in perfection, it ought not to be taken out of the ground in less than seven years. Herewith I send you a few seeds of what is called the cabbage turnip. They say that it will stand the frost of the severest winter, and so make a fine early feed for cattle in the spring, when their other fodder may be scarce. I send also some seed of the Scotch cabbage; and some peas that are much applauded here, but I forget for what purpose, and shall inquire and let you know in my next.
I think there has been no good opportunity of sending your medal since I received it, till now. It goes in a box to my son Bache, with the seeds. I wish you joy of it. Notwithstanding the failure of your eyes, you write as distinctly as ever. With great esteem and respect, I am, my dear friend, yours most affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN.
JMinistry embarrassed with the Affairs of the India Company. — Distress among the JManufacturers.
London, 14 February, 1773. DEAR SoN,
The opposition are now attacking the ministry on the St. Vincent's affair, which is generally condemned here, and some think Lord Hillsborough will be given up, as the adviser of that expedition. But, if it succeeds, perhaps all will blow over. The ministry are more embarrassed with the India affairs. The continued refusal of North America to take tea from hence, has brought infinite distress on the Company. They imported great quantities in faith that that agreement could not hold; and now they can neither pay their debts nor dividends; their stock has sunk to the annihilating near three millions of their property, and government will lose its four hundred thousand pounds a year; while their teas lie on hand. The bankruptcies, brought on partly by this means, have given such a shock to credit, as has not been experienced here since the South Sea year. And this has affected the great manufacturers so much, as to oblige them to discharge their hands, and thousands of Spitalfields and Manchester weavers are now starv
WOL. VIII. 8
ing, or subsisting on charity. Blessed effects of pride, pique, and passion in government, which should have no passions. Yours, &c."
TO THOMAS CUSHING.
Proceedings of the Town of Boston.— Governor Hutchinson's Speech. — Duty on Tea.
London, 9 March, 1773. SIR,
I did myself the honor of writing to you on the 2d of December and the 5th of January past. Since which I have received your favor of November 28th, enclosing the Votes and Proceedings of the Town of Boston, which I have reprinted here, with a Preface. Herewith I send you a few copies.”
* When the bill imposing a tax on glass, paper, and painters' colors was repealed, the ministry proposed a reduction of the duty on tes from one shilling to three pence a pound, thus easing the colonies, as they said, of ninepence on a pound. But, at the same time, Lord North avowed the object of retaining this threepenny tax to be for the purpose of asserting and maintaining the right of Parliament to tax the colonies. He said, that “he even wished to have repealed the whole, if it could have been done without giving up that absolute right; that he should, to the last hour of his life, contend for taxing America; but, he was sorry to say, the behaviour of the Americans had by no means been such as to merit such favor; neither did he think a total repeal would quell the troubles there, as experience had shown, that, to lay taxes when America was quiet, and repeal them when America was in flames, only added fresh claims to those people on every occasion.” And he added, in speaking of the non-importation agreements in the colonies, “North America, from its natural situation, and the dearness of labor, would be many years before it could supply itself with manufactures; therefore there was not so much to fear from their resolutions as the nation imagined.” DEBRETT's Parliamentary Debates, Vol. V. p. 254. With these views he retained the three pence a pound on tea, and the East India Company was induced to make large importations for the American market; but the people held to their resolutions, resisted the tax, and defeated the sales, thus bringing heavy losses upon the Company.
Governor Hutchinson's speech, at the opening of your January session, has been printed and industriously circulated here by (as I think) the ministerial people, which I take to be no good sign. The Assembly’s answer to it is not yet arrived, and, in the mean while, it seems to make impression on the minds, of many not well acquainted with the dispute. The stea duty, however, is under the consideration of Parliament, for a repeal, on a petition from the East India Company, and no new measures have been talked of against America, or are likely to be taken during the . present session. I was therefore preparing to return home by the spring ships, but have been advised by our friends to stay till the session is over; as the commission sent to Rhode Island, and discontents in your province, with the correspondence of the towns, may possibly give rise to something here, when my being on the spot may be of use to our country. I conclude to stay a little longer. In the mean time I must hope, that great care will be taken to keep our people quiet; since nothing is more wished for by our enemies, than, by insurrections, we should give a good pretence for increasing the military among us, and putting us under more severe restraints. And it must be evident, that, by our rapidly increasing strength, we shall soon become of so much importance, that none of our just claims of privilege will be, as heretofore, unattended to, nor any security we can wish for our rights be denied us. With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
* See the Preface here mentioned, Vol. IV. p. 381.