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too foul to be seen on paper; so that the speech, compared to what it was, is now perfectly decent. I send you one of the copies. My friends advise me to write an answer, which I purpose immediately. The reply of Mr. Dunning concluded. Being very ill, and much incommoded by standing so long, his voice was so feeble, as to be scarce audible. What little I heard was very well said, but appeared to have little effect. Their Lordships' Report, which I send you, is dated the same day. It contains a severe censure, as you will see, on the petition and the petitioners; and, as I think, a very unfair conclusion from my silence, that the charge of surreptitiously obtaining the letters was a true one ; though the solicitor, as appears in the printed speech, had acquainted them that that matter was before the Chancellor; and my counsel had stated the impropriety of my answering there to charges then trying in another court. In truth I came by them honorably, and my intention in sending them was virtuous, if an endeavour to lessen the breach between two states of the same empire be such, by showing that the injuries complained of by one of them did not proceed from the other, but from traitors among themselves. It may be supposed, that I am very angry on this occasion, and therefore I did purpose to add no reflections of mine on the treatment the Assembly and their agent have received, lest they should be thought the effects of resentment and a desire of exasperating. But, indeed, what I feel on my own account is half lost in what I feel for the public. When I see, that all petitions and complaints of grievances are so odious to government, that even the mere pipe which conveys them becomes obnoxious, I am at a loss to know
how peace and union are to be maintained or restored be
tween the different parts of the empire. Grievances cannot be redressed unless they are known ; and they cannot be known but through complaints and petitions. If these are deemed affronts, and the messengers punished as offenders, who will henceforth send petitions? And who will deliver them 2 It has been thought a dangerous thing in any state to stop up the vent of griefs. Wise governments have therefore generally received petitions with some indulgence, even when but slightly founded. Those, who think themselves injured by their rulers, are sometimes, by a mild and prudent answer, convinced of their error. But where complaining is a crime, hope becomes despair. The day following I received a written notice from the secretary of the general postoffice, that his Majesty's postmaster-general found if necessary to dismiss me from my office of deputy postmaster-general in North America. The expression was well chosen, for in truth they were under a necessity of doing it; it was not their own inclination; they had no fault to find with my conduct in the office; they knew my merit in it, and that, if it was now an office of value, it had become such chiefly through my care and good management; that it was worth nothing, when given to me; it would not then pay the salary allowed me, and, unless it did, I was not to expect it; and that it now produces near three thousand pounds a year clear to the treasury here. They had beside a personal regard for me. But, as the postoffices in all the principal towns are growing daily more and more valuable, by the increase of correspondence, the officers being paid commissions instead of salaries, the ministers seem to intend, by directing me to be displaced on this occasion, to hold out to them all an example, that, if they are not corrupted by their office to promote the meas
ures of administration, though against the interests and rights of the colonies, they must not expect to be continued. This is the first act for extending the influence of government in this branch. But, as orders have been some time since given to the American postmaster-general, who used to have the disposition of all places under him, not to fill vacancies of value, till notice of such vacancies had been sent hither, and instructions thereupon received from hence, it is plain, that such influence is to be a part of the system; and probable, that those vacancies will for the future be filled by officers from this country. How safe the correspondence of your Assembly committees along the continent will be through the hands of such officers may now be worth consideration, especially as the postoffice act of Parliament allows a postmaster to open letters, if warranted so to do by the order of a secretary of state, and every provincial secretary may be deemed a secretary of state in his own province. It is not yet known what steps will be taken by government with regard to the colonies, or to our province in particular. But, as inquiries are making of all who come from thence, concerning the late riot, and the meetings that preceded it, and who were speakers and movers at these meetings, I suspect there is some intention of seizing persons, and perhaps of sending them hither. But of this I have no certainty. No motion has yet been made in the House of Commons concerning our affairs; and that made in the House of Lords was withdrawn for the present. It is not likely, however, that the session will pass over without some proceeding relating to us, though perhaps it is not yet settled what the measures shall be.”
* Franklin's account of the foul and ill-bred treatment which he received at the hands of the Privy Council on this occasion, as set forth in this and
the next succeeding chapter, is confirmed by witnesses interested in extenunting the conduct of the Council to the utmost. The report of the “Examination," here given, was made by Mr. Israel Mauduit, the counsel for Hutchinson and his friends. He was the petitioner against the application of the Massachusetts Assembly to have them recalled.
“Examination of Dr. Franklin at the Council-Chamber, January 11th, 1774. Present, Lord President, the Secretaries of State, and many other Lords.
“Dr. Franklin's Letter and the Address, Mr. Pownall's Letter, and Mr. Mauduit's Petition were read. “Mr. Wedderburn. The Address mentions certain papers; I could wish to be informed what are those papers. “Dr. Frank/in. They are the letters of Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Oliver. “Court. Have you brought them? “Dr. Franklin. No; but here are attested copies. “Court. Do you mean to found a charge upon them? If you do, you must produce the letters. “Dr. Franklin. These copies are attested by several gentlemen at Boston, and a notary public. “Mr. Wedderburn. My Lords, we shall not take advantage of any imperfection in the proof. We admit that the letters are Mr. Hutchinson's and Mr. Oliver's handwriting; reserving to ourselves the right of inquiring how they were obtained. “Dr. Franklin. I did not expect that counsel would have been employed on this occasion. “Court. Had you not notice sent you of Mr. Mauduit's having petitioned to be heard by counsel, on behalf of the governor and lieutenantgovernor 2 "Dr. Franklin. I did receive such notice; but I thought this had been a matter of politics, not of law, and have not brought my counsel. “Court. Where a charge is brought, the parties have a right to be heard by counsel or not, as they choose. “Mr. Mauduit. My Lords, I am not a native of that country. as these gentlemen are. I know well Dr. Franklin's abilities, and wish to put the defence of my friends upon a parity with the attack; he will not therefore wonder that I choose to appear before your Lordships with the assistance of counsel. My friends, in their letters to me, have desired, (if any proceedings, as they say, should be had upon this Address) that they may have a hearing in their own justification, that their innocence may be fully cleared, and their honor vindicated; and have made provision accordingly. I do not think myself at liberty, therefore, to give up the assistance of my counsel, in defending them against this unjust accusation.
“Court. Dr. Franklin may have the assistance of counsel, or go on without it, as he shall choose.
“Dr. Franklin. I desire to have counsel.
“Court. What time do you want?
“IXr. Franksin. Three weeks.
“Ordered, that the further proceedings be on Saturday, 29th instant.”
The Privy Council met on the day appointed; and Mr. Vaughan tells us “it was in consequence of the letter which Dr. Franklin wrote about the letters to the Public Advertiser after the duel, that Mr. Wedderburn ventured to make the most odious personal allusions.” Mr. Mauduit, he continues, has prudently omitted part of them in his account of the proceedings before the Privy Council. They are given here altogether, however (as well as they could be collected), and the nature of the censures passed in English upon Dr. Franklin's character.
“The letters could not have come to Dr. Franklin,” said Mr. Wedderburn, “by fair means. The writers did not give them to him; nor yet did the deceased correspondent, who from our intimacy would otherwise have told me of it. Nothing, then, will acquit Dr. Franklin of the charge of obtaining them by fraudulent or corrupt means, for the most malignant of purposes; unless he stole them from the person who stole them. This argument is irrefragable.
“I hope, my Lords, you will mark and brand the man, for the honor of this country, of Europe, and of mankind. Private correspondence has hitherto been held sacred, in times of the greatest party rage, not only in politics but religion.” “He has forfeited all the respect of societies and of men. Into what companies will he hereafter go with an unembarrassed face, or the honest intrepidity of virtue 2 Men will watch him with a jealous eye; they will hide their papers from him, and lock up their escrutoires. He will henceforth esteem it a libel to be called a man of letters; homo TRIUM* literarum. /
“But he not only took away the letters from one brother; but kept himself concealed till he nearly occasioned the murder of the other. It is impossible to read his account, expressive of the coolest and most deliberate malice, without horror." [Here he read the letter dated December 25th, 1773: Dr. Franklin being all the time present.] “Amidst these tragical events, of one person nearly murdered, of another answerable for the issue, of a worthy governor hurt in his dearest interests, the fate of America in suspense; here is a man, who, with the utmost insensibility of remorse, stands up and avows himself the author of all. I can compare it only to Zanga, in Dr. Young's Revenge.