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Conversations with Governor Denny. - Disputes between the Governor and Assembly. - Deputed by the Assembly to present a Petition to the King, and to act in England as an Agent for Pennsylvania. Meets Lord Loudoun in New York. - Anecdotes illustrating his Character. Sails from New York. - Incidents of the Voyage.- Arrives in England.
OUR new governor, Captain Denny, brought over for me the beforementioned medal from the Royal Society, which he presented to me at an entertainment given him by the city. He accompanied it with very polite expressions of his esteem for me, having, as he said, been long acquainted with my character. After dinner, when the company, as was customary at that time, were engaged in drinking, he took me aside into another room, and acquainted me, that he had been advised by his friends in England to cultivate a friendship with me, as one who was capable of giving him the best advice, and of contributing most effectually to the making his administration easy. That he therefore desired of all things to have a good understanding with me, and he begged me to be assured of his readiness on all occasions to render me every service that might be in his power. He said much to me also of the Proprietor's good disposition towards the province, and of the advantage it would be to us all, and to me in particular, if the opposition that had been so long continued to his measures was dropped, and harmony restored between him and the people; in effecting which it was thought no one could be more serviceable than myself; and I might depend on adequate acknowledgments and recompenses. The drinkers, finding we did not return immediately
to the table, sent us a decanter of madeira, which the Governor made a liberal use of, and in proportion became more profuse of his solicitations and promises.
My answers were to this purpose; that my circumstances, thanks to God, were such as to make proprietary favors unnecessary to me; and that, being a member of the Assembly, I could not possibly accept of any; that, however, I had no personal enmity to the Proprietary, and that, whenever the public measures he proposed should appear to be for the good of the people, no one would espouse and forward them more zealously than myself; my past opposition having been founded on this, that the measures which had been urged were evidently intended to serve the proprietary interest, with great prejudice to that of the people. That I was much obliged to him (the Governor) for his profession of regard to me, and that he might rely on every thing in my power to render his administration as easy to him as possible, hoping at the same time that he had not brought with him the same unfortunate instructions his predecessors had been hampered with.
On this he did not then explain himself; but, when he afterwards came to do business with the Assembly, they appeared again, the disputes were renewed, and I was as active as ever in the opposition, being the penman, first of the request to have a communication of the instructions, and then of the remarks upon them, which may be found in the Votes of the times, and in the Historical Review I afterwards published.* But between us personally no enmity arose; we were often together; he was a man of letters, had seen much of the world, and was entertaining and pleasing in con
* See Vol. III. p. 107; VII. p. 208.
versation. He gave me information, that my old friend Ralph was still alive; that he was esteemed one of the best political writers in England; had been employed in the dispute between Prince Frederic and the King, and had obtained a pension of three hundred pounds a year; that his reputation was indeed small as a poet, Pope having damned his poetry in the Dunciad; but his prose was thought as good as any man's.
The Assembly finally finding the Proprietary obstinately persisted in shackling the deputies with instructions inconsistent not only with the privileges of the people, but with the service of the crown, resolved to petition the King against them, and appointed me their agent to go over to England, to present and support the petition. The House had sent up a bill to the Governor, granting a sum of sixty thousand pounds for the King's use, (ten thousand pounds of which was subjected to the orders of the then general, Lord Loudoun,) which the Governor, in compliance with his instructions, absolutely refused to pass.
I had agreed with Captain Morris, of the packet at New York, for my passage, and my stores were put on board; when Lord Loudoun arrived at Philadelphia, expressly as he told me, to endeavour an accommodation between the Governor and Assembly, that his Majesty's service might not be obstructed by their dissensions. Accordingly he desired the Governor and myself to meet him, that he might hear what was to be said on both sides. We met and discussed the business. In behalf of the Assembly, I urged the various arguments, that may be found in the public papers of that time, which were of my writing, and are printed with the minutes of the Assembly; and the Governor pleaded his instructions, the bond he had given to observe them, and his ruin if he disobeyed;
yet seemed not unwilling to hazard himself, if Lord Loudoun would advise it. This his Lordship did not choose to do, though I once thought I had nearly prevailed with him to do it; but finally he rather chose to urge the compliance of the Assembly; and he entreated me to use my endeavours with them for that purpose, declaring that he would spare none of the King's troops for the defence of our frontiers, and that, if we did not continue to provide for that defence ourselves, they must remain exposed to the enemy.
I acquainted the House with what had passed, and, presenting them with a set of resolutions I had drawn up, declaring our rights, that we did not relinquish our claim to those rights, but only suspended the exercise of them on this occasion, through force, against which we protested, they at length agreed to drop that bill, and frame another conformable to the proprietary instructions. This of course the Governor passed, and I was then at liberty to proceed on my voyage. But in the mean time the packet had sailed with my seastores, which was some loss to me, and my only recompense was his Lordship's thanks for my service; all the credit of obtaining the accommodation falling to his share.
He set out for New York before me; and, as the time for despatching the packetboats was at his disposition, and there were two then remaining there, one of which, he said, was to sail very soon, I requested to know the precise time, that I might not miss her by any delay of mine. The answer was; "I have given out that she is to sail on Saturday next; but I may let you know, entre nous, that if you are there by Monday morning, you will be in time, but do not delay longer." By some accidental hindrance at a ferry, it was Monday noon before I arrived, and I was much
afraid she might have sailed, as the wind was fair; but I was soon made easy by the information, that she was still in the harbour, and would not move till the next day. One would imagine, that I was now on the very point of departing for Europe. I thought so; but I was not then so well acquainted with his Lordship's character, of which indecision was one of the strongest features. I shall give some instances. It was about the beginning of April, that I came to New York, and I think it was near the end of June before we sailed. There were then two of the packetboats, which had been long in readiness, but were detained for the general's letters, which were always to be ready tomorrow. Another packet arrived; she too was detained; and, before we sailed, a fourth was expected. Ours was the first to be despatched, as having been there longest. Passengers were engaged for all, and some extremely impatient to be gone, and the merchants uneasy about their letters, and for the orders they had given for insurance, (it being war time,) and for autumnal goods; but their anxiety availed nothing; his Lordship's letters were not ready; and yet whoever waited on him found him always at his desk, pen in hand. and concluded he must needs write abundantly.
Going myself one morning to pay my respects, I - found in his antechamber one Innis, a messenger of Philadelphia, who had come thence express, with a packet from Governor Denny, for the general. He delivered to me some letters from my friends there, which occasioned my inquiring, when he was to return, and where he lodged, that I might send some letters by him. He told me, he was ordered to call to-morrow at nine for the general's answer to the Governor, and should set off immediately. I put my letters into his