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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN , I mention to show his gratitude. I could have presentatives of the province of Massachu
excused his not thanking me for sparing him setts Bay; that when given to me, I did not a second hazard of his life; for though he know to whom they had been addressed, no might feel himself served, he might also ap- address appearing upon them; nor did I know prehend, that to seem pleased, would look as before, that any such letters existed; that I if he was afraid of fighting again; or perhaps had not been for many years concerned in he did not value his life at any thing; but the printing; that I did not cause the letters to addition to his fortune, one would think of be printed, nor direct the doing it; that I did some value to a banker; and yet the return not erase any address that might have been this worthy gentleman made me for both fa- on the letters; nor did I know that any other vours, was, without the smallest previous no- person had made such erasure; that I did, as tice, warning, complaint, or request to me, agent to the province, transmit (as I appredirectly or indirectly, to clap upon my back a hended it my duty to do) the said letters to chancery suit. His bill set forth, " That he one of the committee, with whom I had been was administrator of the goods and chattles directed to correspond, inasmuch as, in my of his late brother, Thomas Whately; that judgment, they related to matters of great some letters had been written to his said bro- public importance to that province, and were ther, by the governors Hutchinson and Oli- put into my hands for that purpose; that I had ver; that those letters had been in the custody never been applied to by the complainant, as of his said brother at the time of his death, or asserted in his bill, and had made no profits of had been by him delivered to some other per- the letters, nor intended to make any, &c." son for perusal, and to be by such person It was about this time become evident, that safely kept and returned to said Thomas all thoughts of reconciliation with the colony Whately; that the same had by some means of the Massachusetts Bay, by attention to come into my hands; that to prevent a dis- their petitions and a redress of their grievancovery, I, or some person by my order, ces, was laid aside ; that severity was resolvhad erased the address of the letters to the ed; and that the decrying and villifying the said Thomas Whately; that, carrying on the people of that country, and me their agent trade of a printer, I had by my agents or con- among the rest, was quite a court measure. federates, printed and published the same It was the ton with all the ministerial folks letters in America, and disposed of great num- to abuse them and me, in every company, and bers; that I threatened to print and sell the in every newspaper; and it was intimated to same in England; and that he had applied to me as a thing settled, long before it happenme to deliver up to him the said letters, and ed, that the petition for removal of the goverall copies thereof, and desist from printing nors was to be rejected, the assembly censurand publishing the same, and account with ed, and myself who had presented it, was to him for the profits thereof; and he was in be punished by the loss of my place in the hopes I would have complied with such re- post office. For all this I was therefore prequest, but so it was that I had refused, &c., pared ; but the attack from Mr. Whately was, contrary to equity and good conscience, and I own, a surprise to me; under the aboveto the manifest injury and oppression of him, mentioned circumstances of obligation, and the complainant; and praying my lord chan- without the slightest provocation, I could not cellor, that I might be obliged to discover have imagined any man base enough to comhow I came by the letters, what number of mence, of his own motion, such a vexatious copies I had printed and sold, and to account suit against me. But a little accidental inwith him for the profits, &c. &c.” The gen- formation served to throw some light upon tleman himself, must have known, that every the business: an acquaintance* calling on me, circumstance of this was totally false; that after having just been at the treasury, showof his brother's having delivered the letters ed me what he styled a pretty thing, for a to some other person for perusal, excepted. friend of his; it was an order for one hundred Those as little acquainted with law as I was, and fifty pounds, payable to Dr. Samuel John(who, indeed, never before had a law-suit of son, said to be one half of his yearly pension, any kind,) may wonder at this as much as I and drawn by the secretary of the treasury on did; but I have now learned, that in chan- this same Mr. Whately. I then considered cery, though the defendant must swear to the him as a banker to the treasury for the pentruth of every point in his answer, the plain-sion money, and thence as having an interesttiff is not put to his oath, or obliged to have ed connection with administration, that might the least regard to truth in his bill, but is induce him to act by direction of others in allowed to lie as much as he pleases. I do harassing me with this suit; which gave me not understand this, unless it be for the en- if possible a still meaner opinion of him, than couragement of business.
if he had done it of his own accord. My answer, upon oath, was, “ That the let- What further steps he or his confederates, ters in question were given to me, and came
This was the late William Strahan, Esq. M. P. and into my hands, as agent for the house of re- | king's printer.
um Strahan, Esq. M. P.am VOL. I....N 9
the ministers, will take in this cause, I know produced virtues, of which administration had not: I do not believe the banker himself
, little or no conception: they therefore definding there are no profits to be shared, would nominated them vices. willingly lay out a sixpence more upon the It was evident, that the contest with suit; but then my finances are not sufficient America was merely an affair of administrato cope at law with the treasury here; es- tion, with a view to increase the number of pecially when administration has taken care places at its disposal, and to facilitate the only to prevent my constituents of New England method they knew of to govern the people. from paying me any salary, or reimbursing It will not be wondered at, thertfore, that me any expenses, by a special instruction to those persons who appeared in behalf of the the governor, not to sign any warrant for Americans, should undergo all the rage and that purpose on the treasury there. malice of administration. Dr. Franklin had
The injustice of thus depriving the people been the most distinguished of those, and there of the use of their own money, to pay would long before have been sacrificed to an agent acting in their defence, while the their resentment, if he had not been protected governor, with a large salary out of the money by real integrity and by very superior talents. extorted from them by act of parliament, was He was sent over to England to oppose the enabled to pay plentifully Mauduit and Wed- stamp act; and the virtuous and noble strain derburn to abuse and defame them and their of all his answers at his examination before agent, is so evident as to need no comment. the house of commons, in February, 1776, But this they call GOVERNMENT !!
seemed to reproach the times: they were like Here closes the tract, as written by Dr. the sentiments of an Aristides, and they left Franklin.
deep impressions on the minds of men. For
that very reason he was watched, tried, and It appears by the foregoing faithful account tempted. Cunning, allied even with power, of the proceedings before the lords of the cannot commit wickedness in a manly manprivy council, that when Dr. Franklin, as ner. At last, something like an occasion agent for the province of Massachusetts Bay, arose, and the whole wisdom of government presented the petition for removing the was employed to make the most of it. Dr. governor and lieutenant-governor, the minis Franklin had got into his possession the lettry made the cause of those gentlemen their ters of governor Hutchinson and lieutenantown ;
and Wedderbuin, in defiance of the governor Oliver, in a manner which he has common law and custom of the realm, was shown to have been very consistent with the ordered to change the object of the court; highest honour and honesty. These letters, and, instead of entering into the merits of the which Wedderburn called private and confiquestion, to abuse a man who had offended dential ones, were used by public men to them :
produce public measures. Dr. Franklin
thought it his duty as an agent, to send them "Search earth, search hell, the devil could not find, An agent like LOTHARIO, lo his mind."-Churchill.
to Boston, to remove the misapprehensions of
his friends there concerning all the motives This, like all odious proceedings, raised the of government, and to direct their resentment indignation of the people. In the first tran- to its proper objects. A further use was sports of it, even corruption and venality made of the letters than he intended ; and spoke the sentiments of virtue. Wedderburn they produced the petition which he was orwas every where mentioned with detestation, dered to present. The conduct of administrawhich was doing him too much honour. It tion on the occasion was most extraordinary! was generous in the public to be angry with The rulers of a great people might have been him. Those who were somewhere behind expected, even with any principles, to have the scenes, and who ordered the exhibitions had some regard to decency. The petition which the ostensible people were only acting, of a large and important province was going were the proper objects of indignation; and to be considered ; administration thought fit if there had been virtue enough in the nation, to turn it into a pastime; they invited their they would have been dragged into light. friends in great numbers to partake of the
Administration having at this time succeed- entertainment. This serious business was ed in their plans in the east, turned their converted into a bull-baiting ; the noble creaviews westward, where alone, liberty seemed ture was to be taken by surprise, to be securto have any refuge, and where therefore their ed from assistance, and to be yelped and bit principal efforts must be directed. The same at by a little noisy cur. This was proper art and the same chicane had been practised matter of diversion for a solemn committee there; but it was not likely to be attended of the privy council, and a large audience of with the same success. America was not the wise and virtuous senators of the country! disposed to become, like the East Indies, an But it served to amuse. The Boston appendage to administration. It had raised petition had the appearance of a hearing ; itself into wealth by a kind industry which land some noise was made about virtue, and BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. truth, and honour, in ill-grounded invectives to prevent the effects of the most deliberate against Dr. Franklin. That truly great and and rancorous malice that had ever been good man beheld the childish tricks with exerted against an innocent and praiseworthy thorough compassion; resolved himself not to man. break in upon the proper decorum of public Every objection to his conduct was answerbusiness; as he had not come there to squab ed at the time, and generally well answered; ble with Mr. Wedderburn, and was not, except the plausible one, which was triumphlike him, a wrangler by profession. He there antly made by the friends of administration. fore let the diversion go on; and went home They said that a man holding a place under fully determined to make his appeal to a a government, should be faithful to that gohigher and more competent tribunal. vernment; and that Dr. Franklin, having a
But cunning deals in something like plans lucrative office, should not have embroiled and schemes of mischief, which Franklin did government, on any account, with the Amerinot suspect from the talents of his abusers ; cans. This was suffering to be taken for and if he had, he could not have provided granted, what indeed it would not have been against them. On the first rumour of a pe- difficult to prove--that the interest of administition from Boston, against these good friends tration is one thing, and the interest of the of administration, Hutchinson and Oliver, people another. It does not signify where they determined on the whole plan. When the people reside, whether in America or in the matter came to a hearing, it was to be Middlesex. This being the case, it is avowconverted into abuse of Dr. Franklin, who ing the plainest principle of tyranny, to mainwas to be dismissed from his place the next tain that the king's servants are his own, and morning, loaded with all the ignominy and have no duty or relation to the people! desdisgrace they could lay upon him.—But what potic governments perhaps may be alarmed was to be done with his understanding and to find this doctrine now condemned even in talents ?- This man, though in years, and of the army, which they consider as immediatea philosophical and peaceable turn, might not ly depending on themselves, and perfectly take all these injuries in good part; and separate from the public interest. To the Wilkes had given an instance that the peo- honour of the military gentlemen, however, ple will favour the oppressed. Yes, and it is a fact, that many officers define their Wilkes had taught administration, -caution obligations with an integrity and public spirit and prudence in committing violence. Wed- which would have pleased a Cato. “We derburn's talents would serve on this occa- are the king's servants," say they, “but it is sion; and he advised them to a suit in chan- only while the king is the servant of the peocery. Whately, banker to the treasury, was ple." Apply this glorious principle to the accordingly ordered to file a bill in chancery case of Dr. Franklin ; and the Mauduits and against Dr. Franklin, for taking away his Wedderburns are prostrated. brother's letters. This it seems effectually tied up the doctor's hands, and was undoubt- Shortly after the proceedings before the edly done with that sole view. For a man privy council, Dr. Franklin was dismissed cannot even defend his own reputation, when from the office of deputy postmaster-general, the question on which it depends is what they which he held under the crown. It was not call, pendant before my lord chancellor. The only by his transmission of the letters of treasury is rich enough to keep this matter governor Bernard and lieutenant-governor pendant a long while; and an offender against Hutchinson, that he had given offence to the administration must not expect to disobey the British ministry, but by his popular writings rules of chancery, unnoticed by the lord in favour of America. Two pieces in parchancellor. This fact, at the same time that ticular had lately attracted a large share of it exhibited the great wisdom and equity of public attention on both sides of the Atlantic, administration, accounted to the public for The one purported to be an edict from the what seemed very strange: “That while a king of Prussia, for taxing the inhabitants of man of Dr. Franklin's character and abilities Great Britain, as descendants of emigrants was daily and maliciously traduced, he had from his dominions. The other was entitled, not published a line in his own defence.” The “Rules for reducing a great empire to a essays which appeared for him in the public small one;" in both of which he exposed the papers
, were without his participation, and claims of the mother country and the proceedwithout his knowledge. He had however ings of the British ministry, with the severity written a full and clear account of the part he of poignant satire. had taken in all public measures, and the motives and views on which he acted, proba- Pending these transactions, another anbly with the intention of submitting it to the tagonist to Dr. Franklin's fame started up. consideration of the world, whenever he could A publication by Josiah Tucker, D. D. and do it with safety. In the mean time it was dean of Gloucester, appeared, and occasioned the duty of his friends, to do what they could the following correspondence; by which it will be seen, that Dr. Franklin endeavoured | honour to send to Gloucester, I have just reto obtain from the dean, an open and fair com-ceived in London, where I have resided many munication of the grounds and reasons upon weeks, and am now returning to Gloucester. which the latter had relied, in making certain On inquiry I find, that I was mistaken in charges against the former; and that he did some circumstances relating to your conduct this in the fullest confidence of being able about the stamp act, though right as to subcompletely to justify himself against them. stance. These errors shall be rectified the But Dr. Tucker most uncandidly endeavours to first opportunity. After having assured you, avoid that communication, and that discovery that I am no dealer in anonymous newspaper of the truth which it was likely to produce. paragraphs, nor have a connection with any
who are, I have the honour to be, sir, your humble servant,
J. TUCKER.” “ To Dean Tucker.
"London, February 12, 1774. “REVEREND Sır,—Being informed by a
“To Dean Tucker. friend, that some severe strictures on my con
" REVEREND SIR,–) received your favour duct and character had appeared in a book of yesterday. If the substance of what you published under your respectable name, I
have charged me with is right, I can have but purchased and read it. After thanking you little concern about any mistakes in the cirfor those parts of it that are so instructive on cumstances: whether they are rectified or points of great importance to the common interest of mankind, permit me to complain, substance to be wrong, and believing that you
not, will be immaterial. But knowing the that if by the description you give in pages can have no desire of continuing in an error, 180, 181, of a certain American patriot, whom prejudicial to any man's reputation, I am peryou say you need not name, you do, as is sup- suaded you will not take it amiss, if I request posed, mean myself, nothing can be further from the truth than your assertion, that I ap- the information you have received, that I may
you to communicate to me the particulars of plied or used any interest directly or indirect- have an opportunity of examining them; and ly to be appointed one of the stamp officers I fatter myself, I shall be able to satisfy you for America. I certainly never expressed a that they are groundless. I propose this mewish of the kind to any person whatever, much thod as more decent than a public altercation, less was I, as you say, more than ordinarily and suiting better the respect due to your assiduous on this head.' I have heretofore
character. seen in the newspapers, insinuations of the same import, naming me expressly; but being be, reverend sir, your most obedient humble
“With great regard, I have the honour to without the name of the writer, I took no
B. FRANKLIN." notice of them. I know not whether they were yours, or were only your authority for your present charge. But now that they have
“To Dr. Franklin. the weight of your name and dignified cha
“GLOUCESTER, Feb. 27, 1774. racter, I am more sensible of the injury; and I beg leave to request, that you would re
“SIR,—The request made in your last letconsider the grounds on which you have ter, is so very just and reasonable, that I shall ventured to publish an accusation, that, if be- comply with it very readily. It has long aplieved, must prejudice me extremely in the peared to me, that you much exceeded the opinion of good men, especially in my own bounds of morality in the methods you purcountry, whence I was sent expressly to op- sued for the advancement of the supposed inpose the imposition of that tax. If on such terests of America. If it can be proved, that reconsideration and inquiry, you find, as I am I have unjustly suspected you, I shall acpersuaded you will, that you have been im- knowledge my error, with as much satisfacposed upon by false reports, or have too light- tion as you can have in reading my recantaly given credit to hearsays in a matter that. tion of it
. As to the case more immediately concerns another's reputation, I flatter
referred to in your letters, I was repeatedly
myself that your equity will induce you to do informed, that you had solicited the late Mr. me justice, by retracting that accusation.
George Grenville for a place or agency in the “In confidence of this, I am with great es
distribution of stamps in America. From teem, reverend sir, your most obedient, and which circumstance, I myself concluded, that most humble servant,
you had made interest for it on your own ac“ B. FRANKLIN."
count: whereas, I am now informed, there are no positive proofs of your having solicited
to obtain such a place for yourself, but there “ To Dr. Franklin.
is sufficient evidence still existing of your "Monday, February 21, 1774. having applied for it in favour of another per“ Sir,— The letter which you did me the son. If this latter should prove to be the fact, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
as I am assured it will, I am willing to sup-1 you, and can prove to you by living evidence,
at least to support a suspicion; the latter part,
“there are sufficient evidence still existing,
of my having applied for it in favour of an“To Dean Tucker.
other person,' must, I apprehend, if credited, “LONDON, Feb. 26, 1774. destroy that suspicion, and be considered as " REVEREND SIR,—I thank you for the positive proof of the contrary; for, if I had frankness with which you communicated interest enough with Mr. Grenville to obtain me the particulars of the information you had that place for another, is it likely that it received, relating to my supposed application would have been refused me, had I asked it to Mr. Grenville for a place in the American for myself? stamp office. As I deny that either your for- “There is another circumstance which I mer or latter informations are true, it seems would offer to your candid consideration.incumbent on me, for your satisfaction, to re-You describe me as changing sides, and aplate all the circumstances fairly to you, that pearing at the bar of the house of commons to could possibly give rise to such mistakes. cry down the very measure I had espoused,
“Some days after the stamp act was passed, and direct the storm that was falling upon to which I had given all the opposition I could, that minister. As this must have been after with Mr. Grenville, I received a note from my supposed solicitation of the favour for myMr. Whately, his secretary, desiring to see self or my friend, and Mr. Grenville and Mr. me the next morning. I waited upon him Whately were both in the house at the time, accordingly, and found with him several and both asked me questions, can it be concolony agents. He acquainted us that Mr. ceived, that offended as they must have been Grenville was desirous to make the execution with such a conduct in me, neither of them of the act as little inconvenient and disagree should put me in mind of this my sudden able to America as possible; and therefore changing of sides, or remark it to the house, did not think of sending stamp officers from or reproach me with it, or require my reasons this country, but wished to have discreet and for it? and yet all the members then present, reputable persons appointed in each province know that not a syllable of the kind féll from from among the inhabitants, such as would either of them, or from any of their party. be acceptable to them; for as they were to “I persuade myself, that by this time you pay the tax, he thought strangers should not begin to suspect you may have been misled have the emolument. Mr. Whately there by your informers. I do not ask who they fore wished us to name for our respective are, because I do not wish to have particular colonies, informing us that Mr. Grenville motives for disliking people, who, in general, would be obliged to us for pointing out to may deserve my respect. They, too, may him honest and responsible men, and would have drawn consequences beyond the informpay great regard to our nominations. By this ation they received from others, and hearplausible and apparently candid declaration, ing the office had been given to a person of we were drawn in to nominate; and I named my nomination, might as naturally suppose for our province Mr. Hughes, saying at the I had solicited it; as Dr. Tucker, hearing same time, that I knew not whether he would that I had solicited it, might "conclude it accept of it, but if he did, I was sure he would was for myself. execute the office faithfully. I soon after had “I desire you to believe that I take kindly, notice of his appointment. We none of us, I as I ought, your freely mentioning to me believe, foresaw or imagined that this compli- that it has long appeared to you, that I ance with the request of the minister, would much exceeded the bounds of morality in the or could have been called an application of methods I pursued for the advancement of the ours, and adduced as a proof of our approba- supposed interests of America. I am sensition of the act we had been opposing; other- ble there is a good deal of truth in the adage wise I think few of us would have named at that our sins and our debts are always more all-I am sure I should not. This, I assure than we take them to be ; and though I can