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Some alterations of the constitution of the Massachusetts are now hotly talked of; though what they are to be, seems hardly yet settled. One thing mentioned is the appointment of the Council by mandamus. Another, giving power to the governor to appoint magistrates without consent of Council. Another, the abolishing of town meetings, or making it unlawful to hold them, till the business to be proposed has been certified to the governor, and his permission obtained. A motion has also been made in the House of Commons, with a view to conciliate, as is said ; that all the duty acts should be revised, and, in the revision and reënacting, without formally or expressly repealing the tea duty (which would hurt the dignity of Parliament), sink or omit it, and add an equal value in some of the coasting port duties; and the tea duty, being thus taken out of the way, it is supposed will have the salutary effect of preventing the other colonies from making a common cause with ours. Some advantages in trade are at the same time to be given to America for the same purpose, such as carrying wine and fruit directly from Spain and Portugal, without touching in England.
I send enclosed the proceedings of the Lords on Wednesday, which show their zeal in the business, by appointing a committee to sit during the recess in the Easter holidays. With great esteem, I am, Sir, &c.
B. FRANKLIN. ::..
Proposes to return Home. — Illness and Death of JMr. Hewson. London, 28 April, 1774. MY DEAR LovE, I hoped to have been on the sea in my return by this time; but find I must stay a few weeks longer, perhaps for the summer ships. Thanks to God, I continue well and hearty; and I hope to find you so, when I have the happiness once more of seeing you. Your goddaughter, Amelia Evans that was, (now Mrs. Barry,) is gone again with her husband and children to Tunis, where she is to live some time, while her husband, who is captain of a ship, trades in those seas. Enclosed I send the affectionate, sensible, letter she wrote to me on taking leave. My blessing to the children. Mrs. Hewson's have lately had the smallpox; the eldest in the common way very full, the youngest by inoculation lightly, and both are now well. But Mr. Hewson is down with a terrible fever, and till yesterday his life was despaired of We now begin to hope, his recovery. I shall give you another line by the packet of next week, and am, as ever, dear Debby, your affectionate husband, B. FRANKLIN.”
* In another letter, dated May 5th, he said; “Our family here is in great distress. Poor Mrs. Hewson has lost her husband, and Mrs. Stevenson her son-in-law. He died last Sunday morning of a fever, which baffled the skill of our best physicians. He was an excellent young man, ingenious, industrious, useful, and beloved by all that knew him. He was just established in a profitable, growing business, with the best prospects of bringing up his young family advantageously. They were a happy couple. All their schemes of life are now overthrown.”
VOL. VIII. 16 R
TO THOMAS CUSHING.
Massachusetts Affairs. — Lord Chatham. — Postoffice.
London, 1 June, 1774.
I received your respected favor of March 31st, with another of the same date from the Committee. The latest of my letters, which had then come to your hands, was of January 7th, since which I have written several, containing a full account of the hearing on the petition, the intended acts against our province, the petition presented by the natives of America at this time residing here, and the appointment of General Gage as governor. And in the course of last month I sent you, by various conveyances, under covers, with only a line or two, copies of the acts themselves, and other public papers and pamphlets. With this I enclose a list of your new Council, the Quebec bill, an abstract of the resolutions for laying duties on that province, and some papers containing the two protests of the Lords, and a list of those who have voted against the bills.
Lord Chatham, being ill at the time, could not be present, or he would probably have voted on the same side. He has since appeared in the House, and delivered his sentiments fully on the American measures, blamed us for destroying the tea, and our declarations of independence on the Parliament; but condemned strongly the measures taking here in consequence, and spoke honorably of our province and people, and of their conduct in the late war.*
• Lord Chatham said, in the speech here alluded to; “ If we take a transient view of those motives, which induced the ancestors of our fellow subjects in America, to leave their native country to encounter
Mr. Lee has gone to make the tour of France and Italy, and probably will be absent near a year. Just before his departure he drew up, at my instance, a kind of answer to the Lords' Committee's Report, for which I furnished him with most of the materials. I enclose a copy of it. I had resigned your agency to him, expecting to leave England about the end of this month ; but on his departure he has returned me all the papers, and I feel myself now under a kind of necessity of continuing, till you can be acquainted with this circumstance, and have time to give further orders.
I shall apply to Lord Dartmouth, agreeably to the directions of the Committee, and write to them fully, as soon as I have his Lordship's answer.
Your friendly concern on my account, lest the project for a subscription postoffice in America should prove prejudicial to me, is very obliging; but you must have learnt, before this time, that it was then superfluous, my place having been taken from me on the 31st of January. As the salary I received in that office is now ceased, and I have been lately at near two hundred pounds' expense on the province account in various ways, I am obliged to request, that some means may be fallen upon of making me a remittance here; for I have little expectation that the instruction will be recalled on my application. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.
the mnumerable difficulties of the unexplored mrgions of the western
ied, our astonishment at the present condurt of their despidants wil naturally subside. There was no corner of the world into which
n of their free and enterprising spirit would not fly with almarity, nother than submit to the slavish and tyrannical principles, which pre. miled at that period in their native country. And shall we wonder,
the descendants of such illustrious characters spurn with contempt the hand of unconstitutional power, that would snatch from them such
TO MR. COOMBE.*
Bishop of St. Asaph's Speech. — Poetry. — Use of Eloquence in a Preacher.
London, 22 July, 1774. DEAR FRIEND, I received with great pleasure yours of May 15th, as it informed me of your health and happiness. I thank you for your Sermon, which I read with satisfaction. I am glad that of my good Bishopt pleased you. I enclose a speech of his on the same subject. It is deemed here a masterpiece of eloquence. I send also the last edition of some lines of your friend Goldsmith, with the addition of my friend Whitefoord's epitaph, whom you may remember. Also the Heroic Postscript, the author of which is yet unknown. He may be fond of fame as a poet; but, if he is, his prudence predominates at present, and prevails with him to shun it.
That which you are acquiring, as an orator, gives me pleasure as your friend; and it will give you the most solid satisfaction, if you find that by your eloquence you can turn many to righteousness. Without this effect, the preacher or the priest, in my opinion, is not merely sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal,
dear-bought privileges as they now contend for?” See the whole speech in Debrett's Parliamentary Debates, Vol. VII. p. 10.
* In a letter to his son, dated London, February 3d, 1772, Dr. Franklin says; “ This will be delivered to you by the Reverend Mr. Coombe, whom I recommend to your friendship as a young gentleman of great merit, integrity, and abilities. He has acquired the esteem of all that knew him here, not as an excellent preacher only, but as practising the morality he preached. I wish him a good settlement in his native country, but I think he would better have found his interest in remaining here."
+ Bishop of St. Asaph.