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But was the requisition ever made? Were circular letters ever sent by his majesty's command from the secretary of state to the several colony governments, according to the established custom, stating the occasion and requiring such supplies as were suitable to their abilities and loyalty? And did they then refuse not only compliance but an answer? No such matter; agents are not the channel through which requisitions are made. If they were told by Mr. Grenville that "a revenue would be required, and yet the colonies made no offer, no grant, nor laid any tax," does it follow they would not have done it if they had been required i Probably they thought it time enough when the requisition should come, and in fact it never appeared there to this day. In the last war they all gave so liberally, that we thought ourselves bound in honor to return them a million. But we are disgusted with their free gifts; we want to have something that is obtained by force, like a mad landlord who should refuse the willing payment of his full rents, and choose to take less by way of robbery.
This shameless writer would cajole the people of England with the fancy of their being kings of America, and that their honor is at stake by the Americans disputing their government. He thrusts us into the throne cheek-by-jole with majesty, and would have us talk as be writes, of our subjects in America, and our sovereignty over America: forgetting that the Americans are subjects of the king, not our subjects, but our fellow-subjects; and that they have parliaments of their own, with the right of granting their own money by their own representatives, which we cannot deprive then) of but by violence and injustice.
Having, by a series of iniquitous and irritating measures, provoked a loyal people almost to desperation, we now magnify every act of an American mob into Rebellion, though the government there disapprove it and order prosecution, as
VOL. I. 2c,
is now the case with regard to the tea destroyed.—And we talk of nothing but troops and fleets, and force, of blocking up ports, destroying fisheries, abolishing charters, &c. &c. Here mobs of English sawyers can burn saw-mills; mobs of English laborers destroy or plunder magazines of corn; mobs of English coal-heavers attack houses with fire-arms; English smugglers can fight regularly the king's cruising vessels, drive them ashore and burn them, as lately on the coast of Wales, and on the coast of Cornwall; but upon these accounts we hear no talk of England's being in rebellion; no threats of taking away its Magna Charta, or repealing its Bill of Rights: for we well know that the operations of a mob are often unexpected, sudden and soon over, so that the civil power can seldom prevent or suppress them, not being able to come in before they have dispersed themselves: and therefore it is not always accountable for their mischiefs.
Surely the great commerce of this nation with the Americans is of too much importance to be risked in a quarrel which has no foundation but ministerial pique and obstinacy!
To us in the way of trade comes now, and has long come, all the super-lucration arising from their labors. But will our reviling thehi as cheats, hypocrites, scoundrels, traitors, cowards, tyrants, &c. 8tc. according to the present court mode in all our papery make them more our friends, more fond of our merchandise i Did ever any tradesman succeed who attempted to drub customers into his shop? And will honest John Bull the farmer, be long satisfied with servants that before his face attempt to kill his plough horses'?
(Signed) A Londoner.1
'This and the preceding papers, addressed to the Printer of the Public Advertiser, were undoubtedly written by Dr. Franklin, about the time of his departure from England; though their precise dates have not been ascertained.
To Dr. Priestley.
State of Anierica on Dr. Franklin's arrival there.
Dear Friend, Philadelphia, May 16, 1775.
'• You will have heard before this reaches you,
of a march stolen by the regulars into the country by night, and of their expedition back again. They retreated twenty miles in sit hours.
The governor had called the assembly to propose Lord North's pacific plan, but, before the time of their meeting, began cutting of throats. You know it was said he carried the sword in one hand, and the olive branch in the other; and it seems he chose to give them a taste of the sword first.
He is doubling his fortifications at Boston, and hopes to secure his troops till succor arrives. The place indeed is naturally so defensible, that I think them in no danger.
All America is exasperated by his conduct, and more firmly united than ever. The breach between the two countries is grown wider, and in danger of becoming irreparable.
1 had a passage of six weeks, the weather constantly so moderate that a London wherry might have accompanied us all the way. I got home in the evening, and the next morning was unanimously chosen, by the assembly of Pennsylvania, a delegate to the congress now sitting^
In coming over, I made a valuable philosophical discovery,1 which I shall communicate to you when I can get a little time. At present am extremely hurried.
Yours most affectionately, B. Franklin.
1 This is supposed to refer to Experiments made with the Thermometer on the Waters of the Ocean, in order to ascertain the being more or less in the Gulph Stream—or approaching the Coast.—(See WritIngs, Part iv. Tapers on Philosophical Subjects.)
To Dr. Joseph Priestley, In Encland.
Conciliation hopeless from the conduct of Great Britain to America.
Dear Friend, Philadelphia, July 7,1775.
The congress met at a time when all minds were so exasperated by the perfidy of General Gage, and his attack on the country people, that propositions for attempting an accommodation were not much relished; and it has been with difficulty that we have carried another humble petition to the crown, to give Britain one more chance, one opportunity more of recovering the friendship of the colonies; which however I think she has not sense enough to embrace, and so I conclude she has lost them for ever.
She has begun to burn our sea-port towns -, secure, I suppose, we shall never be able to return the outrage in kind. She may doubtless destroy them all; but if she wishes to recover our commerce, are these the probable means? She must certainly be distracted; for no tradesman out of Bedlam ever thought of increasing the number of his customers by knocking them on the head; or of enabling them to pay their debts by burning their houses.
If she wishes to have us subjects, and that we should submit to her as our compound sovereign, she is now giving us Mich miserable specimens of her government, that we shall ever detest and avoid it, as a complication of robbery, murder, famine, fire, and pestilence.
Yon will have heard, before this reaches you, of the treacherous conduct of General Gage to the remaining people in Boston, in detaining their goods, after stipulating to let them go out with their effects, on pretence that merchants' goods were not effects; the defeat of a great body of his troops by the country people at Lexington; some other small advantages gained in skirmishes with their troops; and the action at Bunker's Hill, in which they were twice repulsed, and th« third time gained a dear victory. Enough has happened, one would think, to convince your ministers, that the Americans will fight, and that this is a harder nut to crack than they imagined.
We have not yet applied to any foreign power for assistance, nor offered our commerce for their friendship. Perhaps we never may: yet it is natural to thiuk of it, if we are pressed.
We have now an army on the establishment, which still holds yours besieged.
My time was never jnore fully employed. In the morning at six, [ am at the committee of safety, appointed by the assembly to put the province in a state of defence; which committee holds till near nine, when I am at the congress,and that sits till after four in the afternoon. Both these bodies proceed with the greatest unanimity, and their meetings are well attended. It will scarce be credited in Britain, that men can be as diligent with us from zeal for the public good, as with you for thousands per annum. Such is the difference between uncorrupted new states, and corrupted old ones.
Great frugality and great industry are now become fashionable here: gentlemen, who used to entertain with two or three courses, pride themselves now in treating with simple beef and pudding. By these means, and the stoppage of our consumptive trade with Britain, we shall he better able to pay our voluntary taxes for the support of our troops. Our savings in the article of trade amount to near five million sterling per annum.
I shall communicate your letter to Mr. Winthorp; but the' camp is at Cambridge, and he has as little leisure for philosophy as myself.
Believe me ever, &c. B. Franklin.