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foresee. 'Tis really an extraordinary event to see an outlaw and an exile, of bad personal character, not worth a farthing, come over from France, set himself up as candidate for the capital of the kingdom, miss his election only by being too late in his application, and immediately carrying it for the principal county. o . mob (spirited up by numbers of different ballads sung or roared in every street), requiring gentlemen and ladies of all ranks, as they passed in their carriages, to shout for Wilkes and liberty, marking the same words on all their coaches with chalk, and No. 45 * on every door: which extends a vast way along the roads into the country. I went last week to Winchester, and observed that for fifteen miles out of town there was scarce a door or window-shutter next the road unmarked ; and this continued here and there quite to Winchester, which is sixtyfour miles. B. FRANKLIN.
[To MR. Ross, PHILADELPHIA.]
Riots in London — Wilkes — Divisions among the Ministry — The
DEAR SIR: I received your favor of March 13th, and am extremely concerned at the disorders on our frontiers, and at the debility or wicked connivance of our government and magistrates, which must make property, and even life, more and more insecure among us, if some effectual remedy is not speedily applied. I have laid all the accounts before the ministry here. I wish I could procure more attention to them. I have urged over and over the necessity of the change we desire; but this country itself being at present in a situation very little better, weakens our argument that a royal government would be better managed and safer to live under than that of a proprietary. Even this capital, the residence of the king, is now a daily scene of lawless riot and confusion. Mobs patrolling the streets at noon-day, some knocking all down that will not roar for Wilkes and liberty; courts of justice afraid to give judgment against him; coalheavers and porters pulling down the houses of coal-merchants, that refuse to give them more wages; Sawyers destroying sawmills; sailors unrigging all the outward bound ships, and suffering none to sail till merchants agree to raise their pay; watermen destroying private boats and threatening bridges; soldiers firing among the mobs and killing men, women and children, which seems only to have produced an universal sullenness, that looks like a great black cloud coming on, ready to burst in a general tempest.
*The number of the North Briton containing the libel for which Wilkes was prosecuted.
What the event will be, God only knows. But some punishment seems preparing for a people who are ungratefully abusing the best constitution and the best king any nation was ever blessed with, intent on nothing but luxury, licentiousness, power, places, pensions, and plunder; while the ministry, divided in their councils, with little regard for each other, worried by perpetual oppositions, in continual apprehension of changes, intent on securing popularity in case they should lose favor, have for Some years past had little time or inclination to attend to our small affairs, whose remoteness makes them appear still smaller.
The bishops here are very desirous of securing the Church of England in America, and promoting its interest and enlargement by sending one of their order thither: but, though they have long solicited this point with government here, they have not as yet been able to obtain it. So apprehensive are ministers of engaging in any novel measure.
I hope Soon to have an opportunity of conferring with you, and therefore say no more at present on this subject.
- B. FRANKLIN.
[To JOSEPH GALLOWAY.]
The Wilkes Riots — More Mischief Brewing — Preparations for Return. LoNDON, May 14, 1768. DEAR SIR : I received your favor of March 31st. It is now, with the messages, &c., in the hands of the minister, so that I cannot be more particular at present in answering it than to say I should have a melancholy prospect in going home to such public confusion, if I did not leave greater confusion behind me. The newspapers, and my letter of this day to Mr. Ross, will inform you of the miserable situation this country is in. While I am writing, a great mob of coal-porters fill the street, carrying a wretch of their business upon poles to be ducked, and otherwise punished at their pleasure, for working at the old wages. All respect to law and government seems to be lost among the common people, who are moreover continually inflamed by seditious scribblers to trample on authority, and everything that used to keep them in order.
The Parliament is now sitting, but will not continue long together, nor undertake any material business. The court of king's bench postponed giving sentence against Wilkes on his outlawry till the next term, intimidated, as some say, by his popularity, and willing to get rid of the affair for a time, till it should be seen what the Parliament would conclude as to his membership. The Commons, at least some of them, resent that conduct, which has thrown a burden on them it might have eased them of, by pillorying or punishing him in some infamous manner, that would have given better ground for expelling him the House. His friends complain of it as a delay of justice, say the court knew the outlawry to be defective, and that they must finally pronounce it void, but would punish him by long confinement. Great mobs of his adherents have assembled before the prison, the guards have fired on them: it is said five or six are killed, and sixteen or seventeen are wounded, and some circumstances have attended this military execution, such as its being done by the Scotch regiment, the pursuing a lad, and killing him at his father's house, &c. &c., that exasperate people exceedingly, and more mischief seems brewing. Several of the soldiers are imprisoned. If they are not hanged, it is feared there will be more and greater mobs; and, if they are, that no soldier will assist in suppressing any mob hereafter. The prospect either way is gloomy. It is said the English soldiers cannot be confided in to act against these mobs, being suspected as rather inclined to favor and join them.
I am preparing for my return, and hope for the pleasure of finding you well, when I shall have an opportunity of communicating to you more particularly the state of things here relating to our American affairs, which I cannot so well do by letter. I enclose you a report of Sir M. L., counsel to the Board of Trade, on one of your late acts. I suppose it has had its effect, so that the repeal will be of little consequence.
In the mean time I am, with sincere esteem and affection, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
[To Miss MARY STEVENSON.] Advice on Family Matters. - LoNDON, October, 1768.
ISEE very clearly the unhappiness of your situation, and that it does not arise from any fault in you. I pity you most sincerely. I should not, however, have thought of giving you advice on this occasion, if you had not requested it, believing, as I do, that your own good sense is more than sufficient to direct you in every point of duty to others and yourself. If, then, I should advise you to anything that may be contrary to your own opinion, do not imagine that I shall condemn you if you do not follow such advice. I shall only think that, from a better acquaintance with circumstances, you form a better judgment of what is fit for you to do.
Now, I conceive, with you, that , both from her affection to you and from the long habit of having you with her, would really be miserable without you." Her temper, perhaps, was never of the best; and, when that is the case, age seldom mends it. Much of her unhappiness must arise from thence; and, since wrong turns of mind, when confirmed by time, are almost as little in our power to cure as those of the body, I think, with you, that her case is a compassionable one.
If she had, through her own imprudence, brought on herself any grievous sickness, I know you would think it your duty to attend and nurse her with filial tenderness, even were your own health to be endangered by it. Your apprehension, therefore, is right, that it may be your duty to live with her, though inconsistent with your happiness and your interest; but this can only mean present interest and present happiness, for I think your future greater and more lasting interest and happiness will arise from the reflection that you have done your duty, and from the high rank you will ever hold in the esteem of all that know you, for having persevered in doing that duty under so many and great discouragements.
My advice, then, must be, that you return to her as soon as the time proposed for your visit is expired; and that you continue, by every means in your power, to make the remainder of her days as comfortable to her as possible. Invent amusements for her; be pleased when she accepts of them, and patient when she perhaps peevishly rejects them. I know this is hard, but I think you are equal to it; not from any servility of temper, but from abundant goodness. In the mean time, all your friends, sensible of your present uncomfortable situation, should endeavor to ease your burden, by acting in concert with you, and to give her as many opportunities as possible of enjoying the pleasures of society, for your sake.
Nothing is more apt to sour the temper of aged people than the apprehension that they are neglected; and they are extremely apt to entertain such suspicions. It was therefore that I proposed asking her to be of our late party; but, your mother disliking it, the motion was dropped, as some others have been, by my too great easiness, contrary to my judgment. Not but that I was sensible her being with us might have lessened our pleasure, but I hoped it might have prevented you some pain.
In fine, nothing can contribute to true happiness that is inconsistent with duty, nor can a course of action conformable to it be finally without an ample reward. For God governs; and He is good. I pray Him to direct you; and, indeed, you will never be without his direction, if you humbly ask it, and show yourself always ready to obey it. Farewell, my dear friend, and belive me ever sincerely and affectionately yours,
[To A FRIEND.]* The Difficulties between England. and her Colonies — Ends of Provi€7tce. LoNDoN, 28 November, 1768.
DEAR SIR: I received your obliging favor of the 12th instant. Your sentiments of the importance of the present dispute between Great Britain and the colonies appear to me extremely just. There is nothing I wish for more than to see it amicably and equitably settled.
But Providence will bring about its own ends by its own means; and, if it intends the downfall of a nation, that nation will be so blinded by its pride and other passions as not to see its danger, or how its fall may be prevented.
Being born and bred in one of the countries, and having lived long and made many agreeable connections of friendship in the other, I wish all prosperity to both; but I have talked and written so much and so long on the subject, that my acquaintance are weary of hearing, and the public of reading any more of it,
*The name of the person to whom this letter was written is not known.