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convinced, Dr. Franklin was disgraced, and Mr. Wed. derburne appeared in the high road to advancement. Unfortunately for Mr. Wedderburne, the events of the war did not correspond, with his systems. Unfortunately too for his * irrefragable argument,” Dr. Franklin afterwards took an oath in chancery, that at the time he transmitted the letters, he was ignorant of the party to whom they had been addressed; having himself received them from a third person, and for the express purpose of their being conveyed to America. The following particulars relating to Dr. Franklin's behaviour on this occasion are from a communication by Dr. Priestley to the editors of the Monthly Magazine, vol. 15, page 1. the morning of the day” says he, on which the cause was to be heard,” I met Mr. Burke in Parlia.. ment-street, accompanied by Dr. Douglas afterwards, Bishop of Carlisle ; and after introducing us to each other, as men of letters, he asked me whither I was going; I said, I could tell him whither I wished to go. He then asking me where it was, I said, to the Privy Council, but that I was afraid I could not get ada mission. He then desired me to go along with him. Accordingly I did; but when we reached that antiroom, we found it quite filled with persons as desirous of gaining admittance as ourselves. Seeing this, I said we should never get through the crowd. He said, “Give me your arm;" and locking it fast in his, he soon made his way to the door of the Privy Council. I then said, “Mr. Burke, you are an excellent leader; he replied, “I wish other persons thought so too.” After waiting a short time, the door of the Privy Council opened, and we entered the first; when Mr. Burke took his stand behind the first chair next to the President, and I behinck
that next to his. When the business was opened, it was sufficiently evident, from the speech of Mr. Wedderburne, who was council for the Governor, the real object of the court was to insult Dr. Franklin. All this time he stood in a corner of the room, not far from me, without the least apparent emotion. Mr. Dunning, who was the leading counsel on the part of the colony, was so hoarse that he could scarcely make himself heard; and Mr. Lee, who was the second, spoke but feebly in reply; so that Mr. Wedderburne had a complete triumph.
At the sallies of his sarcastic wit, all the members of the council, the president himself (Lord Gower) Lot excepted, frequently laughed outright. No person belonging to the council behaved with decent gravi. ty, except Lord North, who, coming late, took his stand behind the chair opposite to me. When the business was over, Dr. Franklin, in going out, took me by the hand, in a manner which indicated some feeling. I soon followed him, and in going through theanti-room, saw Mr. Wedderburne there, surround. ed by a circle of his friends and admirers. Being known to him, he stepped forwards, as if to speak to me; but I turned aside, and made what haste I could out of the place. The next morning I breakfasted with the doctor, when he said, “ He had never before been so sensible of the power of a good conscience; for that if he had not considered the thing for which he had been so much insulted, as one of the best actions of his life, and what he should certainly do again in the same circumstances, he could not have supported it.”
Dr. Franklin declared, that he did not know that the letters written by Governor Hutchinson existed, till they were brought to him as agent for the colony, in order
to be sent to his constituents; and the cover of the
forced by that of Dr. Fothergill, that I wrote an an. nonymous pamphlet, calculated to sbew the injustice and impolicy of a war with the colonies, previous to the meeting of a new parliament.
66 As I tben lived at Leeds, he corrected the press himself; and, to a passage in which I lamented the attempt to establish arbitrary power in so large a part of the British empire, he added the following clause, “To the im. minent hazard of our most valuable commerce, and of that national strength, security, and felicity, which depend on union and on liberty.” “The unity of the British empire, in all it's parts, was a favourite idea of his. He used to compare it to a beautiful China vase, which if once broken, could never be put together again ; and so great an admirer was he at that time of the British constitution, that he said "he saw no inconvenience from it's being extended over a great part of the globe.” He was, however, at this time regarded by government with such jealousy, that he was dismissed from his office of post. master-general, and it was proposed to arrest him as a fomenter of rebellion. The Doctor, however, de. parted for America in the beginning of 1775, pri. vately, and before it was suspected that he had such an intention.
Being elected a delegate to the continental congress, he had a principal share in bringing about the revolution, and declaration of in. dependency. In 1776, Dr. Franklin was de. puted by congress to persuade the Canadians to throw offthe British yoke; but they had been so much disgusted with the hot-headed zeal of the New Eng. landers, who had burnt some of their chapels, that they refused to listen to the proposals, tho' enforced by every argument which he could urge. On the arrival of Lord Howein America, he entered into
a correspondence with him on the subject of recon. ciliation. In these Letters he strongly expresses his opinion of the temper of the British nation, to which and not to any particular designs of the court or ministry, he imputed the fatal extremity which was then arrived. He was afterwards appointed, with two others, to wait on the English commissioners, and learn the extent of their powers. As these were found to extend only to a grant of pardon on submission, he joined his colleagues in considering them as insufficient. The momentous question of independ. ence was soon after investigated, at a time when the fleets and armies, which were sent to enforce obedi. enc, were truly formidable. With a numerous army, but ignorant of discipline, and entirely unskilled in the art of war; without money, without a fleet, without allies, and with nothing but the love of liberty to support them, the colonists determined to separate from a country, from which they conceived they had expe. rienced a repetition of injury and insult. In this question, Dr. Franklin was decidedly in favour of the measure proposed, and had great influence in bringing over others to his opinions. He afterwards sat as president of the convention assembled for the pur. pose of establishing a new government for the state of Pennsylvania. On this occasion, his idea of the best form of a constitution seemed to be that of a single legislative and a plural executive. In the latter end of the same year, Dr. Franklin was made choice of to assist in the negotiation which had been commenced by Silas Deane, at the court of France. This important commission was readily accepted, tho' he was in his 71st year. He brought to effect the treaty of alliance offensive and defensive in 1778, which produced an immediate war between France and