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that, through the mere hope of doing good, he has hazarded the displeasure of the court, and of course the prospect of further preferment. Possibly indeed the ideas of the court may change; for I think I see some alarms at the discontents in New England, and some appearance of softening in the disposition of government, on the idea that matters have been carried too far there. But all depends upon circumstances and events. We govern from hand to mouth. There seems to be no wise, regular plan. I saw Lord Dartmouth about two weeks since. He mentioned nothing to me of your application for additional salary, nor did I to him, for I do not like it. I fear it will embroil you with your people. While I am writing comes to hand yours of March 2d. My letter by the October packet must have been sent, as usual, to the office by the bellman. That being, as you inform me, rubbed open, as some of yours to me have been, gives an additional circumstance of probability to the conjecture made in mine of December 2d. For the future I shall send letters of consequence to the office, when I use the packet convey ance, by my clerk. Your accounts of the numbers of people, births, burials, &c., in your province will be very agreeable to me, and particularly so to Dr. Price. Compared with former accounts, they will show the increase of your people, but not perfectly, as I think a great many have gone from New Jersey to the more southern colonies. The Parliament is like to sit till the end of June, as Mr. Cooper tells me. I had thoughts of returning home about that time. The Boston Assembly's answer to the governor's speech, which I have just received, may possibly produce something here to occasion my longer stay. I am your affectionate father, B. FRANKLIN.
TO DEAN WOODWARD.
Slavery in America. — Ships transporting Convicts
Desirous of being revived in your memory, I take this opportunity, by my good friend Mrs. Blacker, of sending you a printed piece, and a manuscript, both on a subject you and I frequently conversed upon with concurring sentiments, when I had the pleasure of seeing you in Dublin. I have since had the satisfaction to learn, that a disposition to abolish slavery prevails in North America, that many of the Pennsylvanians have set their slaves at liberty, and that even the Virginia Assembly have petitioned the King for permission to make a law for preventing the importation of more into that colony. This request, however, will probably not be granted, as their former laws of that kind have always been repealed, and as the interest of a few merchants here has more weight with government, than that of thousands at a distance.
Witness a late fact. The gaol distemper being frequently imported and spread in Virginia by the ships transporting convicts, occasioning the death of many honest, innocent people there, a law was made to oblige those ships arriving with that distemper to perform a quarantine. But the two merchants of London, contractors in that business, alleging that this might increase the expense of their voyages, the law was at their instance repealed here. With great esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO THOMAS CUSHING.
Governor Hutchinson's Speech to the Assembly of JMassachusetts. – Conversation with Lord Dartmouth respecting it and the Assembly's Answer. London, 6 May, 1773. SIR, I have received none of your favors since that of November 28th. I have since written to you of the following dates, December 2d, January 5th, March 9th, and April 3d, which I hope got safe to hand. The Council and Assembly’s answer to Governor Hutchinson's speech I caused to be printed here, as soon as I received them. His reply I see since printed also, but their rejoinder is not yet come. If he intended, by reviving that dispute, to recommend himself, he has greatly missed his aim; for the administration are chagrined with his officiousness, their intention having been to let all contention subside, and by degrees suffer matters to return to the old channel. They are now embarrassed by his proceedings; for, if they lay the governor's despatches, containing the declaration of the General Court, before Parliament, they apprehend measures may be taken, that will widen the breach; which would be more particularly inconvenient at this time, when the disturbed state of Europe gives some apprehensions of a general war. On the other hand, if they do not lay them before Parliament, they give advantage to opposition against themselves on some future occasion, in a charge of criminal neglect. Some say he must be a fool; others, that through some misinformation he really supposed Lord Hillsborough to be again in office. Yesterday I had a conversation with Iord Dartmouth, of which I think it right to give you some account. On my saying, that I had no late advices from Boston, and asking if his Lordship had any, he said, “None since; the governor's second speech; but what difficulties that gentleman has brought us all into by his imprudence 1 Though I suppose he meant well; yet what can now be done? It is impossible, that Parliament can suffer such a declaration of the General Assembly, asserting its independency, to pass unnoticed.” “In my opinion,” said I, “it would be better and more prudent to take no notice of it. It is words only. Acts of Parliament are still submitted to there. No force is used to obstruct their execution. And, while that is the case, Parliament would do well to turn a deaf ear, and seem not to know that such declarations had ever been made. Violent measures against the province will not change the opinion of the people. Force could do no good.” “I do not know,” said he, “that force would be thought of; but perhaps an act may pass to lay them under some inconveniences, till they rescind that declaration. Can they not withdraw it? I wish they could be persuaded to reconsider the matter, and do it of themselves, voluntarily, and thus leave things between us on the old footing, the points undiscussed. Don't you think,” continued his Lordship, “such a thing possible?” “No, my Lord,” said I, “I think it is impossible. If they were even to wish matters back in the situation before the governor's speech, and the dispute obliterated, they cannot withdraw their answers till he first withdraws his speech, which methinks would be an awkward operation, that perhaps he will hardly be directed to perform. As to an act of Parliament, laying that country under inconveniences, it is likely that it will only put them as heretofore on some method of incommoding this country till the act is repealed; and so we shall go on injuring and provoking each other, instead of cultivating that good will and harmony, so necessary to the general welfare.” He said, that might be, and he was sensible our divisions must weaken the whole; “for we are yet one empire,” said he, “whatever may be the sentiments of the Massachusetts Assembly;” but he did not see how that could be avoided. He wondered, as the dispute was now of public notoriety, Parliament had not already called for the despatches; and he thought he could not omit much longer the communicating them, however unwilling he was to do it, from his apprehension of the consequences. “But what,” his Lordship was pleased to say, “if you were in my place, would or could you do? Would you hazard the being called to account, in some future session of Parliament for keeping back the communication of despatches of such importance?” I said, “his Lordship could best judge what, in his situation, was fittest for him to do; I could only give my poor opinion with regard to Parliament, that, supposing the despatches laid before them, they would act most prudently in ordering them to lie on the table, and take no further notice of them. For, were I as much an Englishman as I am an American, and ever so desirous of establishing the authority of Parliament, I protest to your Lordship, I cannot conceive of a single step the Parliament can take to increase it, that will not tend to diminish it; and after abundance of mischief they must finally lose it. The loss in itself perhaps would not be of much consequence, because it is an authority they can never well exercise for want of due information and knowledge, and therefore it is not worth hazarding the mischief to preserve it.” Then adding my wishes that I could be of any