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the natural consequence of which must be more discontent and uneasiness in the province. That possessed as he was with great good-will for New England, he was extremely unwilling that one of the first acts of his administration, with regard to Massachusetts, should be of so unpleasant a nature. That minds had been heated and irritated on both sides the water, but he hoped those heats were now cooling, and he was averse to the addition of fresh fuel; that, as I had delivered the petition to him officially, he must present it if I insisted upon it; but he wished I would first consult my constituents, who might possibly, on reconsideration, think fit to order its being deferred. I answered that the great majority with which the petition, and the resolves on which it was founded, were carried through the house, made it scarce expectable that their order would be countermanded; that the slighting, evading, or refusing to receive petitions from the colonies on some late occasions by the parliament, had occasioned a total loss of the respect for, and confidence in, that body formerly subsisting so strongly in America, and brought on a questioning of their authority: that his lordship might observe that petitions came no more from that country to parliament, but to the king only: that the king appeared to be now the only connexion between the two countries; and that as a continued union was essentially' necessary to the well-being of the whole empire, I should be sorry to see that link weakened as the other had been; that I thought it a dangerous thing for any government to refuse receiving petitions, and thereby prevent the subjects from giving vent to their griefs. His lordship interrupted me by replying that he did not refuse to deliver the petition; that it should never justly be said of hiin, that he interrupted the complaints of his majesty's subjects, and that he must and would present it, as he had said before, whenever I should absolutely require it; but from motives of pure good-will to
the province, he wished me not to insist on it, till I should receive fresh orders. Finally, considering that since the petition was ordered there had been a change in the American administration; that the present minister was our friend in the repeal of the stamp act, and seems still to have good dispositions towards us; that you had mentioned to me the probability that the house would have remonstrated on all their other grievances, had not their time been taken up with the difficult business of a general valuation; and since the complaint of this petition was likely alone to give offence, it might perhaps be judged advisable to give the substance of all our complaints at once, rather than in parts, and after a reprimand received; I say, upon the whole I thought it best not to disoblige him in the beginning of his administration, by refusing him what he seemed so desirous of, a delay at least in presenting the petition, till farther directions should be received from my constituents. If after deliberation they should send me fresh orders, I shall immediately obey them, and the application to the crown itself may possibly derive greater weight, from the re-consideration given it, while the temper of the house may be somewhat calmed by the removal of a minister who had rendered himself so obnoxious to them. Accordingly I consented to the delay desired, wherein I hope my conduct will not be disapproved.
With the greatest esteem and respect, 1 have the honor to be, sir, your and the committee's most obedient and most humble servant, B.franklin.
To The Hon. Thomas Cushing, Esq.
Lord Dartmouth—American affairs—Great fall in India
stock. . . . i
Sir, (Private) London, Jan. 5, 1773.
I did myself the honor of writing to you on the 2d of December past, enclosing some original letters * from persons in Boston, which I hope got safe to hand. 1 have since received your favor of October 27, which containing in a small compass so full an enumeration of our grievances, the steps necessary to remove them, and the happy effects that must follow, I thought that, though marked private, it might be of use to communicate it to Lord Dartmouth; the rather too, as he would there find himself occasionally mentioned with proper respect, and learn that his character was esteemed in the colonies. Accordingly I wrote him a few lines, and enclosed it a day or two before I was to wait on his lordship, that he might have a little time to consider the contents. When I next attended him, he returned me the letter with great'complacence in his countenance; said he was glad to find that people in America were disposed to think so favorably of him; that they did him but justice in believing he had the best disposition towards them, for he wished sincerely their welfare, though possibly he might not always think with them as to the means of obtaining that end. That the heads of complaint in your letter were many, some of them requiring much consideration, and therefore it could scarce be expected that a sudden change should be made iu so many measures, supposing them all improper to
1 Governor Hutchinson's Letters. See Memoirs Of The Liff, Part iii. p. 186. 4to. ed. , . .
be continued, which perhaps might not be the case. It was however his opinion, that if the Americans continued quiet, and gave no fresh offence to government, those measures would be reconsidered, and such relief given as, upon consideration, should be thought reasonable. I need not remark there is not much in such general discourse ; but I could then obtain nothing more particular, except that his lordship expressed in direct terms his disapprobation of the instruction for exempting the colonies from taxation: which however was, as he said in confidence to me, relying that no public mention should be made of his opinion on that head.
In the mean time, some circumstances are working in our favor with regard to the duties. It is found by the last year's accounts transmitted by the commissioners, that the balance in favor of Britain is but about 85/. after payment of salaries, &c. exclusive of the charge of a fleet to enforce the collection. Then it is observed that the India company is so out of cash, that it cannot pay the bills drawn upon it, and its other debts, and at the same time so out of credit, that the bank does not care to assist them, whence they find themselves obliged to lower their dividend; the apprehension of which has sunk their stock from 280 to 160, whereby several millions of property are annihilated, occasioning private bankruptcies and other distress, besides a loss to the public treasury of 400,000/. per annum, which the company are not to pay into it as heretofore, if they are not able to keep up their dividend at 12-L. And as they have, at the same time, tea, and other India goods in their warehouses, to the amount of four millions, as some say, for which they want a market, and which, if it had been sold, would have kept up their credit, I take the opportunity of remarking in all companies the great imprudence of losing the American market by keeping up the duty on tea, which has thrown
that trade into the hands of the Dutch, Danes, Swedes and French, who, according to the reports and letters of some custom-house officers in America, now supply by smuggling the whole continent, not with tea only, but accompany that article with other India goods, amounting, as supposed, in the whole to 500,000/. sterling per annum. This gives some alarm, and begins to convince people more and more of the impropriety of quarreling with America, who, at that rate, might have taken off two millions and a half of those goods, within these five years, that the combination has subsisted, if the duty had not been laid, or had been speedily repealed. ,
But our great security lies, I think, in our growing strength both in numbers and wealth, that creates an increasing ability of assisting this nation in its wars, which will make us more respectable, our friendship more valued, and our enmity feared: thence it will soon be thought proper to treat us not with justice only, but with kindness, rand 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, Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves mill eat you. In confidence of this coming change in our favor, 1 think our prudence is meanwhile to be quiet, only holding up our rights and claims on all occasions in resolutions,' memorials, and remonstrances j 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.