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SUPPLEMENT. The letters in the following SUPPLEMENT were obtained too late to be inserted in the order of their dates. Those addressed to CHARLES THOMSON have been obligingly communicated by Mr. William B. Reed, of Philadelphia, who received the originals from Mr. John Thomson, of Newark, Delaware. They have never before been printed. The letter to JANE Mecom, near the end of the SUPPLEMENT, has recently been published for the first time in the New York “ Evening Signal.”
TO CHARLES THOMSON. Proprietary Government in Philadelphia. — Stamp Act.
London, 11 July, 1765. DEAR FRIEND, I am extremely obliged by your kind letters of April 12th and 14th, and thank you for the intelligence they contain. The outrages continually committed by those misguided people, will doubtless tend to convince all the considerate on your side of the water, of the weakness of our present government, and the necessity of a change. I am sure it will contribute towards hastening that change here, so that, upon the whole, good will be brought out of evil; and yet I grieve to hear of such horrid disorders. The letters and accounts boasted of from the Proprietor, of his being sure of his retaining the government, as well as those of the sums offered for it, which the people will be obliged to pay, &c., are all idle tales, fit only for knaves to propagate, and fools to believe. A little time will dissipate all the smoke they can raise to conceal the real state of things.
The unsettled state of the ministry, ever since the Parliament rose, has stopped all proceeding in public affairs, and ours amongst the rest; but, change being now made, we shall immediately proceed, and with a greater cheerfulness, as some we had reason to doubt of are removed, and some particular friends are put in place. What you mentioned of the Lower Counties is
undoubtedly right. Had they ever sent their laws home, * as they ought to have done, that iniquitous one of priority of payment to residents would undoubtedly have been repealed. But the end of all these things is nigh; at least, it seems to be so.
The spiking of the guns was an audacious piece of villany, by whomsoever done. It shows the necessity of a regular enclosed place of defence, with a constant guard to take care of what belongs to it, which, when the country can afford it, will, I hope, be provided.
Depend upon it, my good neighbour, I took every step in my power to prevent the passing of the Stamp Act. Nobody could be more concerned and interested than myself, to oppose it sincerely and heartily. But the tide was too strong against us. The nation was provoked by American claims of independence, and all parties joined in resolving by this act to settle the point. We might as well have hindered the sun's setting. That we could not do. But since it is down, my friend, and it may be long before it rises again, let us make as good a night of it as we can. We may still light candles. Frugality and industry will go a great way towards indemnifying us. Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily get rid of the latter.
My best respects to Mrs. Thomson. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours affectionately,
* By home here is meant England, a common use of the word before the Revolution.
+ Claims to an independence of Parliament, in regard to the power of taxing the colonists without their consent.
TO CHARLES THOMSON.
London, 27 February, 1766. My GOOD FRIEND AND NEIGHBOUR, I forgot whether I before acknowledged the receipt of your kind letter of September 24th. I gave an extract from it to a friend, with an extract from mine to which it was an answer, and he printed both in the London Chronicle, with an introduction of his own; and I have reprinted every thing from America, that I thought might help our common cause.
We at length, after a long and hard struggle, have gained so much ground, that there is now little doubt the Stamp Act will be repealed, and reasonable relief given us besides, in our commercial grievances, and those relating to our currency.* I trust the behaviour of the Americans on the occasion will be so prudent, decent, and grateful, as that their friends here will have no reason to be ashamed, and that our enemies, who predict that the indulgence of Parliament will only make us more insolent and ungovernable, may find themselves, and be found, false prophets.
My respects to Mrs. Thomson. I have not had the pleasure of hearing from you by any of the late opportunities, but am so bad a correspondent myself, that I have no right to take exceptions, and am, nevertheless, your affectionate friend and very humble servant,
* It was but a few days before writing this letter, that Dr. Franklin was examined in Parliament concerning the Stamp Act. See Vol. IV. p. 161