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cess.” By degrees, and a judicious improvement of events, we may work a change in minds and measures; but otherwise such great alterations are hardly to be looked for. I am thankful to the House for their kind attention, in repeating their grant to me of six hundred pounds. Whether the instruction restraining the governor's assent is withdrawn or not, or is likely to be, I cannot tell, having never solicited or even once mentioned it to Lord Dartmouth, being resolved to owe no obligation to the favor of any minister. If, from a sense of right, that instruction should be recalled, and the general principle on which it was founded is given up, all will be very well; but you can never think it worth while to employ an agent here, if his being paid or not is to depend on the breath of a minister, and I should think it a situation too suspicious, and therefore too dishonorable for me to remain in a single hour. Living frugally, I am under no immediate necessity; and, if I serve my constituents faithfully, though it should be unsuccessfully, I am confident they will always have it in their inclination, and some time or other in their power, to make their grants effectual. A gentleman of our province, Captain Calef, is come hither as an agent for some of the eastern townships, to obtain a confirmation of their lands. Sir Francis Bernard seems inclined to make use of this person's application for promoting a separation of that country from your province, and making it a distinct government; to which purpose he prepared a draft of a memorial for Calef to present, setting forth not only the hardship of being without security in the property of their improvements, but also of the distress of the people there for want of government; that they were at too great a distance from that of the government in the Massachusetts to be capable of receiving the benefits of government from thence, and expressing their willingness to be separated and formed into a new province, &c. With this draft Sir Francis and Mr. Calef came to me to have my opinion. I read it, and observed to them, that, though I wished the people quieted in their possessions, and would do any thing I could to assist in obtaining the assurance of their property, yet, as I knew the province of Massachusetts had a right to that country, of which they were justly tenacious, I must oppose that part of the memorial, if it should be presented. Sir Francis allowed the right, but proposed that a great tract of land between Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers, which had been allotted to New Hampshire, might be restored to our province, by order of the crown, as a compensation. This, he said, would be of more value to us than that eastern country, as being nearer home, &c. I said, I would mention it in my letters, but must in the mean time oppose any step taken in the affair, before the sentiments of the General Court should be known as to such an exchange, if it were offered. Mr. Calef himself did not seem fond of the draft, and I have. not seen him or heard any thing farther of it since; but I shall watch it. Be pleased to present my dutiful respects to the House, and believe me with sincere and great esteem, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.
To saMUEL MATHER."
Dissenters’ Petition. — Discovery of America by Europeans before Columbus. – Remarks on the Proceedings against America. London, 7 July, 1773. REveREND SIR, By a line of the 4th past, I acknowledged the receipt of your favor of March 18th, and sent you with it two pamphlets. I now add another, a spirited address to the Bishops, who opposed the Dissenters' petition. It is written by a dissenting minister at York. There is preserved at the end of it a little fugitive piece of mine on the same occasion. I perused your tracts with pleasure. I see you inherit all the various learning of your famous ancestors, Cotton and Increase Mather. The father, Increase, I once heard preach at the Old South Meeting for Mr. Pemberton; and I remember his mentioning the death of “that wicked old persecutor of God's people, Louis the Fourteenth;” of which news had just been received; but which proved premature. I was some years afterwards at his house at the North End, on some errand to him, and remember him sitting in an easy chair, apparently very old and feeble. But Cotton I remember in the vigor of his preaching and usefulness. You have made the most of your argument, to prove that America might be known to the ancients. There is another discovery of it claimed by the Norwegians, which you have not mentioned, unless it be under the words, “of old viewed and observed,” page 7. About twenty-five years since, Professor Kalm, a learned Swede, was with us in Pennsylvania. He contended, that America was discovered by their northern people, long before the time of Columbus; which I doubting, he drew up and gave me some time after a note of those discoveries, which I send you enclosed. It is his own handwriting, and his own English; very intelligible for the time he had been among us. The circumstances give the account a great appearance of authenticity. And if one may judge by the description of the winter, the country they visited should be southward of New England, supposing no change since that time of the climate. But, if it be true, as Krantz, I think, and some other historians tell us, that old Greenland, once inhabited and populous, is now rendered uninhabited by ice, it should seem that almost perpetual northern winter had gained ground to the southward; and, if so, perhaps more northern countries might anciently have had vines, than can bear them in these days.” The remarks you have added, on the late proceedings against America, are very just and judicious; and I cannot see any impropriety in your making them, though a minister of the gospel. This kingdom is a good deal indebted for its liberties to the public spirit of its ancient clergy, who joined with the barons in obtaining Magna Charta, and joined heartily in forming the curses of excommunication against the infringers of it. There is no doubt but the claim of Parliament, of authority to make laws binding on the colonies in all cases whatsoever, includes an authority to change our religious constitution, and establish Popery or Mahomedanism, if they please, in its stead; but, as you intimate, power does not infer right; and, as the right is nothing, and the power, by our increase, continually diminishing, the one will soon be as insignificant as the other. You seem only to have made a small mistake, in supposing they modestly avoided to declare they had a right, the words of the act being, “that they have and of right ought to have, full power, &c.”
* A clergyman of Boston, and son of the celebrated Cotton Mather * For the arguments in proof of the discovery of America by navigators from the north of Europe, see Wheaton's History of the Northmen, p. 24; and the Worth American Review, for January, 1838.
Your suspicion that sundry others, besides Governor Bernard, “had written hither their opinions and counsels, encouraging the late measures to the prejudice of our country, which have been too much heeded and followed,” is, I apprehend, but too well founded. You call them “traitorous individuals,” whence I collect, that you suppose them of our own country. There was among the twelve Apostles one traitor, who betrayed with a kiss. It should be no wonder, therefore, if among so many thousand true patriots, as New England contains, there should be found even twelve Judases ready to betray their country for a few paltry pieces of silver. Their ends, as well as their views, ought to be similar. But all the oppressions evidently work for our good. Providence seems by every means intent on making us a great people. May our virtues public and private grow with us, and be durable, that liberty, civil and religious, may be secured to our posterity, and to all from every part of the Old World that take refuge among us.
With great esteem, and my best wishes for a long continuance of your usefulness, I am, Reverend Sir, your most obedient humble servant,