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assured a friend of mine that they were equivalent to telling him. to his face, that the colonies could expect neither favor nor justice during his administration. I find he did not mistake me. It is true, as you have heard, that some of my letters to America have been echoed back hither; but that has not been the case with any that were written to you. Great umbrage was taken, but chiefly by Lord Hillsborough, who was disposed before to be angry with me, and therefore the inconvenience was the less; and, whatever the consequences are of his displeasure, putting all my offences together, I must bear them as well as I can. Not but that, if there is to be war between us, I shall do my best to defend myself and annoy my adversary, little regarding the story of the Earthen Pot and Brazen Pitcher. One encouragement I have, the knowledge that he is not a whit better liked by his colleagues in the ministry than he is by me; that he cannot probably continue where he is much longer; and that he can scarce be succeeded by anybody who will not like me the better for his having been at variance with me. Pray continue writing to me, as you find opportunity. Your candid, clear and well-written letters, be assured, are of great use. With the highest esteem, I am, my dear friend, &c., B. FRANKLIN.
Minutes of the Conference mentioned in the preceding Letter.
I went this morning to wait on Lord Hillsborough. The porter at first denied his lordship, on which I left my name, and drove off. But, before the coach got out of the square, the coachman heard a call, turned and went back to the door, when the porter came and said, “His lordship will see you, sir.” I was shown into the levee-room, where I found Governor Bernard, who, I understand, attends there constantly. Several other gentlemen were there attending, with whom I sat down a few minutes, when Secretary Pownall* came out to us, and said his lordship desired I would come in.
I was pleased with this ready admission and preference, having sometimes waited three or four hours for my turn ; and, being pleased, I could more easily put on the open, cheerful countenance that my friends advised me to wear. His lordship came towards me and said: “I was dressing, in order to go to court; but, hearing that you were at the door, who are a man of
* John Pownall, Secretary to the Board of Trade, and brother to Governor Pownall.
business, I determined to see you immediately.” I thanked his lordship, and said that my business at present was not much ; it was only to pay my respects to his lordship, and to acquaint him with my appointment by the House of Representatives of Massachusetts Bay to be their agent here, in which station, if I could be of any service — (I was going on to say, “to the public, I should be very happy;” but his lordship, whose countenance changed at my naming that province, cut me short by saying, with something between a smile and a sneer,) L. H. I must set you right there, Mr. Franklin; you are not agent. B. F. Why, my lord 3 L. H. You are not appointed. B. F. I do not understand your lordship; I have the appointment in my pocket. L. H. You are mistaken; I have later and better advices. I have a letter from Governor Hutchinson; he would not give his assent to the bill. B. F. There was no bill, my lord; it was a vote of the House. L. H. There was a bill presented to the governor, for the purpose of appointing you and another, — one Dr. Lee, I think he is called, – to which the governor refused his assent. B. F. I cannot understand this, my lord; I think there must be some mistake in it. Is your lordship quite sure that you have such a letter ? L. H. I will convince you of it directly. (Rings the bell.) Mr. Pownall will come in and satisfy you. B. F. It is not necessary that I should now detain your lordship from dressing. You are going to court. I will wait on your lordship another time. L. H. No, stay: he will come immediately. (To the servant.) Tell Mr. Pownall I want him. (Mr. Pownall comes in.) L. H. Have not you at hand Governor Hutchinson's letter, mentioning his refusing his assent to the bill for appointing Dr. Franklin agent 2 Sec. P. My lord 2 L. H. Is there not such a letter? Sec. P. No, my lord; there is a letter relating to some bill for the payment of a salary to Mr. De Berdt, and I think to some other agent, to which the governor had refused his assent. L. H. And is there nothing in the letter to the purpose I mention ?
Sec. P. No, my lord. B. F. I thought it could not well be, my lord, as my letters are by the last ships, and they mention no such thing. Here is the authentic copy of the vote of the House appointing me, in which there is no mention of any act intended. Will your lordship please to look at it 3 (With seeming unwillingness he takes it, but does not look into it.) L. H. An information of this kind is not properly brought to me as Secretary of State. The Board of Trade is the proper lace. p B. F. I will leave the paper, then, with Mr. Pownall, to be — L. H. (Hastily.) To what end would you leave it with him 2" B. F. To be entered on the minutes of that Board, as usual. L. H. (Angrily.) It shall not be entered there ! No such paper shall be entered there, while I have anything to do with the business of that Board . The House of Representatives has no right to appoint an agent. We shall take no notice of any agents but such as are appointed by acts of Assembly, to which the governor gives his assent. We have had confusion enough already. Here is one agent appointed by the Council, another by the House of Representatives. Which of these is agent for the province 2 Who are we to hear in provincial affairs? An agent appointed by act of Assembly we can understand. No other will be attended to for the future, I can assure you ! B. F. I cannot conceive, my lord, why the consent of the governor should be thought necessary to the appointment of an -agent for the people. It seems to me that L. H. (With a mixed look of anger and contempt.) I shall not enter into a dispute with You, sir, upon this subject. B. F. I beg your lordship's pardon; I do not presume to dispute with your lordship; I would only say that it seems to me that every body of men, who cannot appear in person where business relating to them may be transacted, should have a right to appear by an agent. The concurrence of the governor does not seem to me necessary. It is the business of the people that is to be done; he is not one of them; he is himself an agent. L. H. (Hastily.) Whose agent is he? B. F. The king’s, my lord. L. H. No such matter. He is one of the corporation by the province charter. No agent can be appointed but by an act, nor any act pass without his assent. Besides, this proceeding is directly contrary to express instructions. B. F. I did not know there had been such instructions. I am not concerned in any offence against them, and
L. H. Yes, your offering such a paper to be entered is an offence against them. (Folding it up again without having read a word of it.) No such appointment shall be entered. When I came into the administration of American affairs, I found them in great disorder. By my firmness they are now something mended; and, while I have the honor to hold the seals, I shall continue the same conduct, the same firmness. I think my duty to the master I serve, and to the government of this nation, requires it of me. If that conduct is not approved, they may take my office from me when they please. I shall make them a bow and thank them. I shall resign with pleasure. That gentleman knows it (pointing to Mr. Pownall); but while I continue in it I shall resolutely persevere in the same FIRMNEss. (Spoken with great warmth, and turning pale in his discourse, as if he was angry at something or somebody besides the agent, and of more consequence to himself.) B. F. (Reaching out his hand for the paper, which his lordship returned to him.) I beg your lordship's pardon for taking up so much of your time. It is, I believe, of no great importance whether the appointment is acknowledged or not; for I have not the least conception that an agent can at present be of any use to any of the colonies. I shall therefore give your lordship no further trouble. (Withdrew.)
Agriculture the most Honorable Employment — Condition of the Poor in Ireland — Savage Life and Civilization. LoNDoN, 13 January, 1772. DEAR SIR : It was with great pleasure I learnt, by Mr. Marchant, that you and Mrs. Babcock and all your good family continue well and happy. I hope I shall find you all in the same state when I next come your way, and take shelter, as often heretofore, under your hospitable roof. The colonel, I am told, continues an active and able farmer; the most honorable of all employments, in my opinion, as being the most useful in itself, and rendering the man most independent. My namesake, his son, will soon, I hope, be able to drive the plough for him. I have lately made a tour through Ireland and Scotland. In those countries a small part of the society are landlords, great noblemen, and gentlemen, extremely opulent, living in the highest affluence and magnificence. The bulk of the people are tenants, extremely poor, living in the most sordid wretchedness, in dirty hovels of mud and straw, and clothed only in rags. I thought often of the happiness of New England, where every man is a freeholder, has a vote in public affairs, lives in a tidy, warm house, has plenty of good food and fuel, with whole clothes from head to foot, the manufacture, perhaps, of his own family. Long may they continue in this situation But, if they should ever envy the trade of these countries, I can put them in a way to obtain a share of it. Let them, with three-fourths of the people of Ireland, live the year round on potatoes and buttermilk, without shirts; then may their merchants export beef, butter, and linen. Let them, with the generality of the common people of Scotland, go barefoot; then may they make large exports in shoes and stockings, and, if they will be content to wear rags, like the spinners and weavers of England, they may make cloths and stuffs for all parts of the world. Further, if my countrymen should ever wish for the honor of having among them a gentry enormously wealthy, let them sell their farms and pay racked rents; the scale of the landlords will rise, as that of the tenants is depressed, who will soon become poor, tattered, dirty, and abject in spirit. Had I never been in the American colonies, but were to form my judgment of civil society by what I have lately seen, I should never advise a nation of savages to admit of civilization; for I assure you that, in the possession and enjoyment of the various comforts of life, compared to these people every Indian is a gentleman, and the effect of this kind of civil society seems to be the depressing multitudes below the savage state, that a few may be raised above it. My best wishes attend you and yours, being ever, with great esteem, &c., B. FRANKLIN.