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very slender, knowing, as I do, tbat nothing is to be done in parliament that is not a measure adopted by ministry and supported by their strength, much less any thing they are averse to or indifferent about.
I took the opportunity of discoursing with his lordship concerning our particular affair of the change of government, gave him a detail of all proceedings hitherto, the delays it had met with, and its present situation. He was pleased to say he would inquire into the matter, and would talk with me further upon it. He expressed great satisfaction in the good disposition that he said appeared now to be general in America with regard to government here, according to the latest advices; and informed me that he had by his majesty's order wrote the most healing letters to the several governors, which, if shown to the assemblies, as he supposed they would be, could not but confirm that good disposition. As to the permission we want to bring wine, fruit, and oil, directly from Spain and Portugal, and to carry iron direct to foreign markets, it is agreed on all hands that this is an unfavorable time to move in those matters, G. Grenville and those in the opposition on every hint of the kind making a great noise about the act of navigation, that palladium of England, as they call it, to be given up to rebellious America, See &c.; so that the ministry would not venture to propose it if they approved. I am to wait on the secretary again next Wednesday, and shall write you further what passes that is material.
The parliament have of late been acting an egregious farce, calling before them the mayor and aldermen of Oxford, for proposing a sum to be paid by their old members on being rechosen at the next election; and sundry printers and brokers for advertising and dealing in boroughs, &c. The Oxford people were sent to Newgate, and discharged after some days in humble petition, and receiving the speaker's reprimand upon their knees. The house could scarcely keep countenances, knowing, as they all do, that the practice is general. People say, they mean nothing more than to beat down the price by a little discouragement of borough-jobbing, now that their own elections are all coming on. The price indeed is grown exorbitant; no less than 4000/. for a member! Mr. Beckford has brought in a bill for preventing bribery and corruption in elections, wherein was a clause to oblige every member to swear ou their admission into the house, that he had not directly or indirectly given any bribe to any elector, &c.; but this was so universally exclaimed against, as answering no end but perjuring the members, that he has been obliged to withdraw that clause. It was indeed a cruel contrivance of his, worse than the gunpowder plot; for that was only to blow the parliament up to heaven; this is
to sink them all down to !Mr. Thurlow opposed his
bill by a long speech. Beckford, in reply, gave a dry bit to the house, that is repeated everywhere: "the honorable gentleman," says he, "in his learned discourse, gave us first one definition of corruption, then he gave us another definition of corruption, and I think he was about to give us a third. Pray does that gentleman imagine there is any member of this house that does not Know what corruption is?" which occasioned only a roar of laughter 4 for they are so hardened in the practice that they are very little ashamed of it. This between ourselves. I am, with sincerest esteem, dear sir, your most obedient humble servant, B. Franklin.
..' i '' '. .'. "*' •' ' .. '. i*'
To T. Wharton, Esq. Philadelphia, . • .
Conversation with Mr. Secretary Conway relative to his' resignation, and to American affairs—Boston proceedings. . '.
Dear Friend, • * London, Feb. 20,1768.
i received your favors of November 17, and 18, with another dozen of excellent wine, the manufacture of our friend Lieveiy. I thank you for the care you have taken in forwarding them, and for your kind good wishes that accompany them.
The story you mention of Secretary Conway's wondering what I could be doing in England, and that he had not seen me for a considerable time, savors strongly of the channel through which it came, and deserves no notice.1 But since his name is mentioned, it gives me occasion to relate what passed between us the last time 1 had the honor of conversing with him. It was at court, when the late changes were first rumored, and it was reported he was to resign the secretary's office. Talking of America, I said I was sorry to fin4 that our friends were one after another quitting the administration; that I was apprehensive of the consequences, and hoped what I heard of his going out was not true. He said it was really true, the employment had not been of his choice, he had never any taste for it, but had submitted to engage in it for a time at the instance of his friends, and he believed his removal could not be attended with any ill consequences to America. That he was a sincere well-wisher to the prosperity of that country as well as this, and hoped the imprudencies of either side would never be carried to such a height as to create a breach of the union, so essentially necessary to the welfare of both. That as long as his majesty continued to honor him with a share in his councils, America should always find in him a friend, &c. This I write as it was agreeable to me to hear, and I suppose will be so to you to read. For bis character has more in it of the frank honesty of the soldier, than of the plausible insincerity of the courtier; and therefore what he says is more to be depended on. The proprietor's dislike to my continuing in England to be sure is very natural; as well as to the repeated choice of assembly-men not his friends; and probably he would, as they so little answer his purposes, wish to see elections as well as agencies abolished. They make him very unhappy, but it cannot be helped.
The proceedings in Boston, as the news came just upon the meeting of parliament, and occasioned great clamor here, gave me much concern. And as every offensive thing done in America is charged upon all, and every province, though unconcerned in it, suffers in its interests through tbe general disgust given, and the little distinction here made, it became necessary I thought to palliate the matter a little for our own sake*; and therefore I wrote the paper which probably you have seen printed in the Chronicle of January 7, and signed F+S.1
Yours affectionately, B. Franklin.
To Governor Franklin.
Lord Hillsborough—The Fanner's letters—American manufactures—New elections in England.
Dear Son, London, March 13, 17GS.
I have received all together your letters of January 6, SI, and 22: it had been a great while that L had not heard from you.
The purpose of settling the new colonics seems at present to be dropped, the change of American administration not appearing favorable to it. There seems rather to be an inclination to abandon the posts in the back country as more expensive than useful; but counsels are so continually fluctuating here, that nothing can be depended on. The new secretary, my Lord Hillsborough, is I find of opinion that the troops should be placed, the chief part of them, in Canada and Florida, only three battalions to be quartered in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; and that forts Pitt, Oswego, Niagara, &c. should be left to the colonies to garrison and keep up if they think it necessary for the protection of their trade, &c. Probably his opinion may be followed, if new changes do not produce other ideas. As to my own sentiments, I am weary of suggesting them to so many different inattentive heads, though I must continue to do it while 1 stay among them. The letters from Sir William Johnson relating to the boundary were at last found, and orders were sent over about Christmas for completing the purchase and settlement of it. My Lord H. has promised me to send duplicates by this packet, and urge the speedy execution, as we represented to him the danger that these dissatisfactions of the Indians might produce a war. But ( can tell you there are many here to whom the news of such
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