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and that “total emancipation ” must now be the object of the Colonists. If he had entertained contrary views a few months before, he entertained them in common with Washington, John Adams, Jay, Jefferson. Madison, and other foremost men of the Revolution. The attempt of Lord Mahon to show that there was any prevarication in his course is confuted by notorious facts.
Several negotiations were set on foot by agents of the ministry to secure the good offices of Franklin to bring about a settlement with the Colonies. To this end, his friend Dr. Fothergill and David Barclay interceded with him. At their request he drew up a plan, in the shape of hints for conversation, seventeen in number, as the terms to which the Colonists would probably assent. This paper was communicated by Mr. Barclay to Lord Hyde, and by Dr. Fothergill to Lord Dartmouth. Lord Hyde thought the propositions too hard. Lord Dartmouth, while he admitted that some of them were reasonable, regarded others as inadmissible or impracticable. The Speaker of the House of Commons thought it would be very humiliating to Britain to be obliged to submit to such terms.
At the request of Lord Howe, who, with ex-Governor Pownall, aspired to the appointment of Commissioner to America to settle difficulties, and who hoped to take Franklin with him, the latter sketched another plan; but this, too, involved concessions which the ministry were not ready to allow. Several attempts were made to renew these informal negotiations. It was evidently supposed that Franklin, though he disclaimed all authority to act, was well aware of the terms that Congress would accept. Any concessions which he might make were relied upon as certain to be obtained; but the ministry were rapacious, and he was unyielding. After repeated interviews with Mr. Barclay and Dr. Fothergill, Lord Howe and Lord Hyde, for the purpose of devising some plan of settlement, the attempt was abandoned.
One of the manoeuvres resorted to by friends of the ministry to bring about a private intercourse with Franklin is thus described by him :
“The new Parliament was to meet the 29th of November (1774). About the beginning of that month, being at the Royal Society, Mr. Raper, one of our members, told me there was a certain lady who had a desire of playing with me at chess, fancying she could beat me, and had requested him to bring me to her. It was, he said, a lady with whose acquaintance he was sure I should be pleased,—a sister of Lord Howe's, –and he hoped I would not refuse the challenge. I said I had been long out of practice, but would wait upon the lady when he and she should think fit. He told me where her house was, and would have me call soon, and without further introduction, which I undertook to do; but thinking it a little awkward, I postponed it, and on the 30th, meeting him again at the feast of the society election, being the day after the Parliament met, he put me in mind of my promise, and that I had not kept it, and would have me name a day, when he said he would call for me and conduct me. I named the Friday following. He called accordingly. I went with him, played a few games with the lady, whom I found of very sensible conversation and pleasing behavior, which induced me to agree most readily to an appointment for another meeting a few days afterwards, - though I had not the least apprehension that any political business could have any connection with this new acquaintance.”
On the evening appointed, Franklin attended his “second chess party with the agreeable Mrs. Howe.”
“After playing as long as we liked, we fell into a little chat, partly on a mathematical problem, and partly about the new Parliament, then just met, when she said, “And what is to be done with this dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies I hope we are not to have a civil war.” “They should kiss and be friends,” said I ; ‘what can they do better? Quarrelling can be of service to neither, but is ruin to both.” “I have often said,” replied she, “that I wished government would employ you to settle the dispute for them ; I am sure nobody could do it so well. Do not you think that the thing is practicable?” “Undoubtedly, madam, if the parties are disposed to reconciliation ; for the two countries have really no clashing interests to differ about. It is rather a matter of punctilio, which two or three reasonable people might settle in half an hour. I thank you for the good opinion you are pleased to express of me; but the ministers will never think of employing me in that good work; they choose rather to abuse me.’ ‘Ay,” said she, “they have behaved shamefully to you. And, indeed, some of them are now ashamed of it themselves.’”
Franklin looked upon this, at the time, as an accidental conversation; but it was the prelude to informal negotiations, to which members of the ministry were a party behind the curtain. It led to his acquaintance with Lord Howe, who assured him that “there was a sincere disposition in Lord North and Lord Dartmouth to accommodate the differences with America, and to listen favorably to any propositions that might have a probable tendency to answer that salutary purpose.” He then asked Franklin's opinion in regard to sending over a Commissioner to inquire into grievances and compose differences. “I wish, brother,” said Mrs. Howe, “you were to be sent thither on such a service; I should like that much better than General Howe's going to command the army there.” “I think, madam,” said Franklin, “they ought to provide for General Howe some more honorable employment.” Overtures were made to Franklin, in the hope of finding some accessible point on the side of his ambition or selfinterest, where a breach could be effected, through which ministerial favors might be thrust, in anticipation of influence exerted by him in the desired direction. In the conversations between him and Mr. Barclay, the latter hinted that from Franklin's coöperation in promoting a settlement with the Colonists he might expect “not only the restoration of his old place, but almost any other he could wish for;” upon which Franklin, writing to his son, remarks: “I need not tell you, who know me so well, how improper and disgusting this language was to me.” He replied to Mr. Barclay: “The ministry, I am sure, would rather give me a place in a cart to Tyburn than any other place whatever.” Lord Howe, also, threw out lures, though in a more guarded and delicate manner. After remarking that “he was thought of to be sent Commissioner for settling the differences in America,” in which event he hoped to take Franklin with him, giving him a “generous and ample’” appointment, he asked, “in order that the ministry might have an opportunity of showing their good disposition” to Franklin, that the latter would give him leave to procure the payment of the arrears of his salary as agent for New England. “My lord,” said Franklin, “I shall deem it a great honor to be in any shape joined with your lordship in so good a work; but, if you hope service from any influence I may be supposed to have, drop all thoughts of procuring me any previous favors from ministers; my accepting them would destroy the very influence you propose to make use of; they would be considered as so many bribes to betray the interest of my country.” On another occasion, Lord Howe, in alluding to the contingency of Franklin's lending his services to the ministry to bling about a settlement, remarked to him, that he should not think of influencing him by any selfish motive, but certainly he (Franklin) might, with reason, expect “any reward in the power of government to bestow.” “This to me,” says Franklin, “was what the French vulgarly call spitting in the soup.”
AFTER prolonging his stay in England to await the result of the Continental Congress, Franklin made his preparations for returning home. Happening to be at the House of Lords to hear Lord Camden on American affairs, he was “much disgusted ” by many “base reflections,” from the ministerial side, “on American courage, religion, understanding, &c., in which we were treated with the utmost contempt as the lowest of mankind, and almost of a different species from the English of Britain; ” some of the lords asserting “that we were all knaves, and wanted only by this dispute to avoid paying our debts.” Under the excitement occasioned by hearing these aspersions on his country, he wrote a Memorial, which he gave to his friend Mr. Thomas Walpole, a member of the House of Commons. Walpole looked at him as if he apprehended he were a little out of his senses, and, after taking the Memorial to show to Lord Camden, he returned it to Franklin, with the remark that it “might be attended with dangerous consequences to his person, and contribute to exasperate the nation.” Before leaving England, Franklin received news of the death of his wife, Deborah Franklin, which took place at Philadelphia, December 19, 1774. Their relations to each other appear to have been thoroughly affectionate. From his letters to her it would seem that while abroad he was continually sending little presents for her use and gratification. He generally addresses her as “my dear child,” or “my dear love,” and she sometimes responds in the same terms. In a letter dated London, 6 January, 1773, he writes: “My Dear Child: Ifeel some regard for this sixth of January, as my old nominal birthday, though the change of style has carried the real day forward to the seventeenth, when I shall be, if I live till then, sixty-seven years of age. It seems but the other day since you and I were ranked
among the boys and girls, so swiftly does time fly! We have, however, great reason to be thankful that so much of our lives has passed so happily, and that so great a share of health and strength remains as to render life yet comfortable.” “O ! my child,” writes Mrs. Franklin to her husband, “there is a great odds between a man's being at home and abroad; as everybody is afraid they shall do wrong, so everything is left undone.” In a letter, some years afterwards, to a young female friend, Franklin writes: “Frugality is an enriching virtue; a virtue I never could acquire myself; but I was once lucky enough to find it in a wife, who thereby became a fortune to me.” Franklin had now two children left to him; his son, William, estranged by political differences, and his daughter, Sarah, married to Mr. Bache. A second son, Francis Folger, died when four years old. The recollection of him always seemed to touch a tender spot in Franklin's heart. “Though now dead thirty-six years,” he writes, “to this day I cannot think of him without a sigh.” Leaving directions with Mrs. Stevenson to deliver to Arthur Lee, the newly-appointed agent for Massachusetts, all the papers relating to that province, Franklin sailed for Philadelphia the 21st of March, 1775, and arrived there on the 5th of May. During the voyage, he occupied himself in writing out a full account of his political negotiations in London. The weather was all the while so moderate “that a London wherry might have accompanied us all the way.” He made some experiments with a thermometer in crossing the Gulf Stream, which afforded a valuable hint to navigators for discovering, by the temperature of the water, when they were in the Stream. The scenes of Lexington and Concord had transpired, and the Second Continental Congress was in session. “I got home in the evening,” writes Franklin to Dr. Priestley, “and the next morning was unanimously chosen by the Assembly of Pennsylvania a delegate.” To the same friend, a few weeks after, alluding to the action of Congress, he wrote: “It has been with difficulty that we have carried another humble petition to the crown, to give Britain one more chance — one opportunity more — of recovering the friendship of the Colonies; which, however, I think she has