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FROM SAMUEL COOPER TO B. FRANKLIN.
Lord Dartmouth. Measures adopted by the Towns in Massachusetts.
- Conduct of the Governor. — Administration in England universally disapproved.
Boston, 15 March, 1773. DEAR SIR, I hate been confined to my house great part of this winter by my valetudinary state, and been little able to see and converse with my friends, and less to write to them.
A line from you would have greatly refreshed me in this confinement, as your letters have ever been one of the greatest entertainments in my life; but I do not mean to complain, having been so greatly indebted to you.
Till of late, there has been little remarkable in our public affairs for more than a year.
The appointment of Lord Dartmouth to the American Department was received here with a general joy, which was soon checked by his official letter to the governor of Rhode Island, respecting the Court of Inquiry into the burning of the Gaspee, and the directions therein given to send the accused, with the witnesses, to Great Britain for trial; as also by the account of the provision made by the King for the support of the justices of our Superior Court. These events made a deep impression on the minds of people through the province. The latter, it is known, took place before Lord Hillsborough's removal, but the former was more unexpected, as the disposition of Lord Dartmouth to serve the colonies, and to promote mild measures, was not doubted.
Soon after the appointment for the Superior Justices was known, the town of Boston had a meeting. Their Committee drew up a state of the public grievances, which was accompanied with a letter to every town in the province, desiring their brethren to express their own sense of these important matters. Though this measure was opposed by a number of the most respectable friends to liberty in the town, among whom were three out of four of the representatives of Boston, from an apprehension that many towns for various reasons might not choose to adopt it, and in that case the attempt might greatly prejudice the interest it was designed to promote; and though the governor and his friends in every place did not fail to avail themselves of this, and every other circumstance to frustrate it; yet it had an effect through the whole province beyond the most sanguine expectations of its friends ; and the public acts of a great majority of the towns, whatever may be thought of the manner of expression in some of them, clearly demonstrate, that it is not a small faction, but the body of the people, who deem themselves in a state of oppression, and that their most essential rights are violated. The pamphlet containing the proceedings of Boston has already been sent to you, and I should enclose those of some other towns, had I a sure and easy way of conveying such large papers without fear of burdening, when I meant to entertain you.
Upon the convening of the General Assembly, the governor opened it with a long speech in defence of the absolute supremacy of Parliament over the colonies, inviting both Houses to offer what they had to object against this principle. His prudence, however, in this step, and whether he will be thanked for it by administration, is doubted. By the replies of the two Houses, perfectly united in the main principles, the governor and his friends received a shock, which they could not conceal, while the people are greatly confirmed in their sentiments, and encouraged to support them.
I will venture to mention, in confidence to you, that the governor, appearing uneasy after he had received the second reply of the Council, employed his utmost influence to have it reconsidered and altered. Having endeavoured privately to prepare the minds of some influential members for this, he enclosed it in a letter to one of the Board, requesting him to introduce the reconsideration in Council. Presently he appears there himself, and argues strenuously in favor of this. The vote for the reply, as it had been delivered, was, however, unanimous, except two, who desired to be excused from voting either way. Opposed, as he now stands, to both Houses and the body of the people, an undisguised and zealous advocate for every thing we account a grievance, how far his situation resembles that of his predecessor I leave you to judge.
The opposition here to the hard and oppressive measures of the British administration never appeared to me founded so much in knowledge and principle; never so systematical, deliberate, and firm, as it is at present. I may be mistaken in this opinion, but it leads me most earnestly to wish, for the sake of both countries, for some pacification, some line to be drawn, some bill of rights for America, some security against the unlimited supremacy and unbounded power over us, not only of our sovereign, but also of our fellow subjects in Britain ; and, unless something of this sort soon takes place, there is danger that things will run into confusion. Knowing your past services to the province, and being persuaded both of your ability and inclination still to serve it, in the best manner that the state of things will allow, I hope all obstruc
tion to your receiving the grants made for you by the House will soon be removed.
I have been told that you and some others have lately obtained, through much opposition, a grant of land for a new province. If this be true, and your prospect agreeable, you have no friend that takes a warmer part in it, through your large circle, than your obedient humble servant,
TO THOMAS CUSHING.
Lord Dartmouth's Wish to heal the Breach between
Great Britain and America.
London, 3 April, 1773. SIR, My last was of the 9th past, since which nothing material has occurred relating to the colonies. The Assembly's answer to Governor Hutchinson's speech is not yet come over, but I find that even his friends here are apprehensive of some ill consequences from his forcing the Assembly into that dispute; and begin to say it was not prudently done, though they believe it meant well. I enclose for you two newspapers, in which it is mentioned. Lord Dartmouth the other day expressed his wish to me, that some means could be fallen upon to heal the breach. I took the freedom to tell him, that he could do much in it, if he would exert himself. I think I see signs of relenting in some others. The Bishop of St. Asaph's Sermon before the Society for Propagating the Gospel is much talked of, for its catholic spirit and favorable sentiments relating to the colonies. I will endeavour
to get a copy to send you. With great esteen and respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN.
Bishop of St. Asaph's Sermon. — Its liberal Sentiments in Regard to America.
London, 6 April, 1773. DEAR Son, I received yours of February 2d, with the papers of information that accompany it.
. I have sent to Mr. Galloway one of the Bishop of St. Asaph's Sermons, before your Society for propagating the Gospel. I would have sent you one, but
will receive it of course as a member. It contains such liberal and generous sentiments, relating to the conduct of government here towards America, that Sir John Pringle says it was written in compliment to me. But, from the intimacy of friendship in which I live with the author, I know he has expressed nothing but what he thinks and feels; and I honor him the more,
Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph's, was a very intimate friend of Dr. Franklin's, and decidedly opposed to the coercive measures adopted by the British government against America. Besides this Sermon on that subject, he published " A Speech intended to have been spoken on the Bill for altering the Charters of Massachusetts Bay,” which was greatly admired for the vigor and beauty of its style, even by those who did not approve its sentiments. During the latter years of his residence in England, Dr. Franklin passed many days at different times in the family of the Bishop, and kept up a correspondence with some of them during his life. His humorous letter to Miss Georgiana Shipley, one of the Bishop's daughters, on the death of her squirrel, is well known. See Vol. II. p. 170. Her letters to Dr. Franklin prove her to have been a young lady of a highly endowed and cultivated mind, lively sensibility, and generous disposition.