Abbildungen der Seite

in the words "after eleven adjournments," that they are too apt to postpone business; but if they have given any occasion for this reflection, there are reasons and circumstances that may be urged in their excuse.

It gives me pleasure to hear that the people of the other colonies are not insensible of the zeal with which I occasionally espouse their respective interests, as well as the interests of the whole. I shall continue to do so as long as I reside here and am able.

The present ministry seem now likely to continue through this session of Parliament; and perhaps if the new Parliament should not differ greatly in complexion from this, they may be fixed for a number of years, which I earnestly wish, as we have no chance for a better. B. Franklin.

445. TO JOHN CANTON» (r. S.)

Friday, November 27. [1767] 2

Dear Sir After the Society was gone, my Lord Moreton said (when I offered him the Paper) that it ought to have been deliver'd before and read to the Society: he however desir'd me to produce it to the Council. There the Reading of it was oppos'd, as not being referr'd to them by the Society. But this was at last got over, by Dr. Moreton's proposing that the giving a Medal to Dr. Priestley should be taken into Consideration, and that in order to judge the better of the Propriety of that Proposal, the Paper should be read. It was accordingly read. I was then desired as the best Judge present to give my Opinion of the Merit of the Experiments as to the Medal; Which I did in plain Terms, declaring it as my judgment that the great Pains and Expence the Doctor had been at in making them and the Importance of the Experiments themselves, well deserv'd that Encouragement from the Society; and that it was a Mark of Distinction justly due to so much philosophical Industry and Sagacity.

1 Published in Weld's "History of the Royal Society," Vol. II, p. 67, but printed here from the original in the Library of the Royal Society. — Ed.

2 The year is not named in the original letter. Weld ascertained the date by reference to various documents. The Council and Society met on the previous day, and at both meetings Lord Morton and Dr. Franklin were present. See Weld, " History of the Royal Society," Vol. II, p. 67. The medal was not awarded to Priestley until 1773. — Ed.

One that sat near me, told me he was surpriz'd at the Ace* I had given, as he had been assured the Medal was intended to be bestow'd on the Doctor only for writing a History which was thought wrong, but it now appear'd he had made many valuable new Experiments, etc. Then a Question arose, how far it was proper to give a Medal for Experiments that had not been sent to the Society, till they were published; and this occasioned a search for Sir Godfrey Copley's Will, which could not be found; but an Agreement was found, recorded between the Society and his Executors, that the £5 should be given for the best Experiment within the Year, proposed and directed to be made by the Society; and made in their Presence. This not having been the Practice of late Years, it began to be whisper'd that most of the Medals had been irregularly given. A subsequent Resolution was, however, found to print the Clause of Sir Godfrey Copley's Will in every Number of the Transactions, for the Encouragement of Foreigners, to endeavour obtaining the Reward, as there was reason to fear a Failure of Experiments upon the former Plan.

By this Time it grew late, and it was concluded that the Books should be searched, to find all the Steps that had been taken in disposing of this Prize, whether in Money or in Medals, from the first instance in 1717 to the last; with the Reasons and Grounds on which the Council had proceeded, and that a Copy of that Part of Sir Godfrey's Will should be obtained from the Commons; when at the next Council, the Matter might be reconsidered, and the Medal then given to Dr. Priestley, if the Council thought fit, and it should be found not contrary to the Will so to do. Thus the Business ended for that time; and how it will conclude at last seems an Uncertainty, for I think some Persons are busy in an Opposition to the Measure. But I hope it will end in favour of Merit, in which case I think our Friend cannot miss it. I am, dear Sir,

Your most obed' Servant

B. Franklin 446. TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY1

London, Dec. 1, 1767.

Dear Sir,

I duly received your favours of August 22, September 20, and October 8, and within these few days one of February 14, recommending Mr. Morgan Edwards2 and his affair of the Rhode Island College, which I shall endeavour to promote, deeming the institution one of the most catholic and generous of the kind. I am inclined to think with you that the small sum you have issued to discharge the public debts only will not be materially affected in its credit for want of the legal tender, considering especially the present extreme want of money in the province. You appear to me to point out the true cause of the general distress, viz. the late luxurious mode of living introduced by a too great plenty of cash. It is indeed amazing to consider, that we had a quantity sufficient before the war began, and that the war added immensely to that quantity, by the sums spent among us by the crown, and the paper struck and issued in the province; and now in so few years all the money spent by the crown is gone away, and has carried with it all the gold and silver we had before, leaving us bare and empty, and at the same time more in debt to England than ever we were! But I am inclined to think, that the mere making more money will not mend our circumstances, if we do not return to that industry and frugality, which were the fundamental causes of our former prosperity. I shall nevertheless do my utmost this winter to obtain the repeal of the act restraining the legal tender, if our friends the merchants think it practicable, and will heartily espouse the cause; and, in truth, they have full as much interest in the event as we have.

1 From "The Works of Dr. Benjamin Franklin" (Duane), Phila., 1817, Vol. VI, p. 258.—Ed.

2 Morgan Edwards (1722-1795), the prime mover in the founding of" Rhode Island College," now Brown University. — Ed.

The present ministry, it is now thought, are likely to continue at least till a new Parliament; so that our apprehensions of a change, and that Mr. Grenville would come in again, seem over for the present. He behaves as if a little out of his head on the article of America, which he brings into every debate without rhyme or reason, when the matter has not the least connection with it; thus at the beginning of this session on the debate upon the King's speech, he tired everybody, even his friends, with a long harangue about and against America, of which there was not a word in the speech. Last Friday he produced in the House a late Boston Gazette, which he said denied the legislative authority of Parliament, was treasonable, rebellious, &c., and moved it might be read, and that the House would take cognizance of it, but it being moved on the other hand that Mr. G's motion should be postponed to that day six months, it was carried without a division: and as it is known that this Parliament will expire before that time, it was equivalent to a total rejection of the motion. The Duke of B.1 too, it seems, moved in vain for a consideration of this paper in the House of Lords. These are favourable symptoms of the present disposition of Parliament towards America, which I hope no conduct of the Americans will give just cause of altering.

Be so good as to present my best respects to the House, and believe me with sincere esteem and regard, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.


London, Dec. 13, 1767.

Dear Sir,

I received your kind letter of October 18. I had before seen with great pleasure your name in the papers as chosen for the city of Philadelphia.

The instruction you mention, as proposed by a certain great man, was really a wild one. The reasons you made use of against it were clear and strong, and could not but prevail. It will be time enough to show a dislike to the coalition when

1 Bedford.

aFrom "The Works of Dr. Benjamin Franklin" (Duane), Phila., 1817, Vol. VI, p. 259. — Ed.

« ZurückWeiter »