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“ Franklin's letters on electricity, have | French government appear to have begun to been translated into most of the European take an interest in their affairs. The cirlanguages, and into Latin. In proportion as cumstance is thus alluded to in a letter of Dr. they have become known, his principles have Franklin to his son, dated London, August been adopted. Some opposition was made to 28, 1767. his theories, particularly by the abbé Nollet, “ De Guerchy, the French ambassador, is who was, however, but feebly supported, gone home, and Mons. Durand is left minis whilst the first philosophers of Europe step- ter plenipotentiary. He is extremely curious ped forth in defence of Franklin's principles; to inform himself in the affairs of America; amongst whom D’Alibard and Beccaria were pretends to have a great esteem for me, on the most distinguished. The opposition has account of the abilities shown in my examigradually ceased, and the Franklinian system nation; has desired to have all my political is now universally adopted, where science writings; invited me to dine with him, was flourishes.
very inquisitive, treated me with great civi“ The important practical use which Frank-lity, makes me visits, &c. I fancy that inlin made of his discoveries, the securing of triguing nation would like very well to medhouses from injury by lightning, has been dle on this occasion, and blow up the coals already mentioned. Pointed conductors are between Great Britain and her colonies; but now very common in America; but preju- I hope we shall give them no opportunity.” dice has hitherto prevented their general in
Dr. Franklin was right in his conjectures, troduction into Europe, notwithstanding the but his hopes were not realized; the oppormost undoubted proofs of their utility have tunity was given, and they availed thembeen given. But mankind can with difficulty selves of it, eminently contributing to the be brought to lay aside established practices, separation of the two countries. or to adopt new ones. And perhaps we have Certain resolutions of the town of Boston, more reason to be surprised that a practice, respecting trade and manufactures, arrived in however rational, which was proposed about London about the commencement of the year forty years ago, should in that time have 1768, and occasioned a considerable clamour; been adopted in so many places, than that it they gave Dr. Franklin and the friends of has not universally prevailed. It is only by America great concern. He endeavoured by degrees that the great body of mankind can every means to palliate the affair, by various be led into new practices, however salutary writings in the newspapers; and the discontheir tendency. "It is now nearly eighty tents of the British colonies being much the years since innoculation was introduced into subject of general discussion at the time, and Europe and America, and it is so far from greatly misunderstood, he, with a view to being general at present, that it will, per- elucidate the same, and soften the prevalent haps, require one or two centuries to render animosity against America, wrote and pubit so."
lished (in the Chronicle of January 7th,) a To revert to Dr. Franklin's political trans- piece signed F-S. intitled “ Causes of the actions. His exertions and examination be- American discontents before 1768," with this fore the house of commons, having greatly inscription: “ The waves never rise but contributed to the repeal of the Stamp Act; when the winds blow.” Prov. he now turned his attention towards obtain- This short tract, together with his “ Aning the repeal of the Act restraining the swer (in Nov. 1769,) to the queries of Mr. legal tender of paper money in the colonies; Strahan,” (which were probably made under another grievance they, complained of. The the dictation of administration,) give the best ministry had at one time agreed to the re-account of the then existing complaints of the peal; not so much to serve the colonies, as colonies, and (from their not being attended from the impression that they might raise a to,) of the primitive cause of the disputes, revenue from paper money lent on mortgage, that produced civil war, and terminated in by the parliament appropriating the interest their separation from Great Britain.* These arising therefrom. This notion was, how- papers, interesting for the historian, form, in ever, removed, by Dr. Franklin's assuring some degree, a complement to these methem, that no colony would issue money on moirs; and constitute sufficient proofs of Dr. those terms; and that the advantage arising Franklin's candour and foresight. to the commerce of Great Britain in America, At this time a change of ministry took from a plentiful currency, would thereby be place, in which the American business was lost, and the repeal answer no end, if the taken from lord Shelburne, and given to lord assemblies were not allowed to appropriate Hillsborough, as secretary of state for Amethe interest themselves. The measure was rica, a new distinct apartment. There was a afterwards dropt, and the restraint unwisely
* See also a letter of Dr. Franklin's, On the rise and continued.
progress of the differences between Great Britain and her As early as the period of these discussions American Colonics : signed " A well wisher to the king between Great Britain and her colonies, the the Public Advertiser.-- Private Correspondence.
and all his dominions," and addressed to the printer of
talk at the time of getting Dr. Franklin ap- expenses necessary to the prosperity of the pointed under secretary of state for that de- empire, they continued to assert, that having partment; but it fell through, he being con- parliaments of their own, and not having residered too much of an American.
presentatives in that of Great Britain, their Lord Hillsborough had formerly, at sundry own parliaments were the only proper judges times, discoursed with Dr. Franklin on the of what they could and ought to contribute in subject of the restraining act, relative to pa- this case; and that the English parliament per-money: the latter now waited on the new had no right to take their money without minister, in order again to press the repeal their consent. They considered the British of the same; but he found he had not altered empire, not as a single state, but as comprein the sentiments concerning it, which he hending many; and though the parliament entertained when at the head of the board of Great Britain had arrogated to itself the of trade, and which still continued adverse power of taxing the colonies, it had no more to it.
right to do so, than it had to tax Hanover: Dr. Franklin took this opportunity of con- both countries had the same king, but not the versing with his lordship concerning the par- same legislatures. The Americans, conceivticular affair with which he was charged by ing their rights thus established, were deterhis Pennsylvania constituents, relative to the mined to maintain them; and they accordchange of government in that province; giv- ingly, opposed to the acts of a venal court, ing him a detail of all the proceedings hither- resolved to subjugate them to its authority, to, the delays it had experienced, and its pre- that calm, steady perseverance, worthy of sent situation. He promised him he would men who were determined to be free. inquire into the matter, and would talk with In 1772, lord Hillsborough gave in his re him further upon it: his lordship expressed signation, occasioned, as was supposed, fron. great satisfaction at the good disposition that some mortification he had experienced, or the he said appeared now to be general in Ame- evident dislike of the king to his administrarica, with regard to the British government, tion, which he conceived had tended to weaken according to his last advices; and added, that the affection and respect of the colonies for a he had by his majesty's order, written the royal government—à sentiment which Dr. most healing letters to the several governors, Franklin had taken every proper means to which if shown to the assemblies, as he sup- encourage, by the communication of suitable posed they would be, could not but confirm information, and convincing proofs derived that good disposition.
from America. But the doctor was not only These expectations were not however re- instrumental in the dismissal of this minister, alized: the Americans began to be sensible but perhaps in the appointment of his succesof their own consequence, and the inhabitants sor: for complaining of lord Hillsborough one of Boston, at a public meeting on the 27th day at court, to a person of considerable influOctober, 1767, entered into a variety of reso-ence, that person told him, that the Amerilutions for encouraging manufactures, pro- cans were represented by his lordship as an moting economy, and restraining the use of unquiet people, not easily satisfied with any foreign superfluities. These resolutions, all ministry; that however it was thought too of which were highly prejudicial to the trade much occasion had been given them to dislike of Great Britain, contained a long list of arti- the present; and he asked him, whether, in cles which it was either determined not to case he should be removed, he could name use at all, or at least in the smallest possible another likely to be more acceptable to the quantities. A subscription was opened at the colonies ? Dr. Franklin instantly replied, same time, and a committee appointed, for the “ Yes, there is lord Dartmouth-we liked increase of their old manufactures, and the him very well when he was at the head of establishment of new ones. Among other the board formerly, and in all probability things, it was determined to give particular should again." This was probably reported: encouragement to the making of paper, glass, what influence it may have had is uncertain ; and other commodities that were liable to the but shortly after, lord Dartmouth was actually payment of the new duties upon importation. appointed to succeed lord Hillsborough, to It was also resolved to restrain the expense of the great satisfaction of all the friends of funerals, to reduce dress to a degree of primi- America. tive simplicity and plainness, and, in general, Dr. Franklin, it appears, had, about this not to purchase any commodities from the time, a strong inclination to return to Amemother country, that could be procured in rica, though well pleased with his residence any of the colonies.
in England, where, as he writes to his son, All these resolutions were either adopted, “ Nothing can be more agreeable than my or similar ones entered into, by most, if not situation, more especially as I hope for less all the other colonies on the continent. embarrassment from the new administration.
Though the colonies never pretended an A general respect paid me by the learned-a exemption, from contributing to the common number of friends and acquaintance among
them, with whom I have a pleasing inter- | intercourse between Great Britain and her
their most pleasing or most hideous forms. Lord Dartmouth had heretofore expressed “ The obstacles to returning harmony, great personal regard for Dr. Franklin, who which have already been mentioned, were now found himself upon very good terms with increased by making the judges in Massathis new minister.
chusetts independent of the province. ForAs an explanatory introduction to a trans- merly they had been paid by yearly grants action of much interest and importance in the from the assembly; but from the year 1772, annals of Dr. Franklin, which made a con- Peter Oliver, the chief justice of the superior siderable noise at this time, (1773–4,) and court, received his salary from the crown. which has not hitherto been satisfactorily de- This was resented by the assembly as a species veloped to the public, it may be proper to re- of bribery, tending to bias his judicial detervert a few years back to the history of the minations in favour of the mother country. colony of Massachusetts; for which purpose They made it the foundation of an impeachtie following short sketch, from an unknown ment; but this produced no other consequence hand, is submitted :
than a dissolution of the assembly which “ From the royal and ministerial assurances prosecuted the uncourtly measure. given in favour of America in the year 1769, “A personal animosity between governor the subsequent repeal in 1770, of five sixths Bernard, lieutenant-governor Hutchinson, and of the duties which had been imposed in 1767, some distinguished patriots in Massachusetts, together with the renewal of the mercantile contributed to perpetuate a flame of discon
tent in that province, though elsewhere it * Deputy postmaster-general of America.
had visibly abated. This was worked up in + After his return
to America, in the spring of 1775, the year 1773 to a high pitch by a singular the Atlantic in 1776, and undertake, at the age of se- combination of circumstances. Some letters venty-one, infirm, and exposed to be captured, a win. had been written in the course of the dispute ter's voyage, to France; he returned in 1785 then in his eightieth year.
by lieutenant-governor Hutchinson, Mr. Oli
ver, and others in Boston, to persons in power The following short statement of Dr. and office in England, which contained a very Franklin's behaviour before the privy council, unfavourable representation of public affairs, from the pen of Dr. Priestly, (who was preand tended to show the necessity of coercive sent) may not be deemed uninterestirg. measures, and of changing the chartered system of provincial government. These letters Extract of a letter from Dr. Priestly, dated fell into the hands of Dr. Franklin, agent of
Northumberland, United States, Nov. 10, the province, who transmitted them to his
1802. constituents. The indignation and animosity “I shall proceed to relate some particulars 'which was excited on their perusal, knew no respecting Dr. Franklin's behaviour, wher bounds. The house of representatives agreed lord Loughborough, (then Mr. Wedderburn,) on a petition and remonstrance to his majesty, pronounced his violent invective against him in which they charged their governor and at the privy council, on his presenting the lieutenant-governor with being betrayers of complaints of the province of Massachusetts their trust, and of the people they governed ; against their governor. Some of the particuand of giving private, partial, and false inform- lars may be thought amusing. ation. They also declared them enemies to “On the morning of the day on which the the colonies, and prayed for justice against cause was to be heard, I met Mr. Burke, in them, and for their speedy removal from their Parliament-street, accompanied by Dr. Douplaces.
glas, afterwards bishop of Carlisle; and after “ This petition and remonstrance being introducing us to each other as men of letters, transmitted to England, the merits of it were he asked me whither I was going? I said I discussed before his majesty's privy council
. could tell him where I wished to
He After a hearing before that board, in which then asking me where it was, I said to the Dr. Franklin represented the province of privy-council, but that I was afraid I could Massachusetts, the governor and lieutenant- not get admission. He then desired me to go governor were acquitted. Mr. Wedderburn, along with him. Accordingly I did; but (afterwards lord Loughborough,) who defend- when we got into the anti-room, we found it ed the accused royal servants, in the course quite filled with persons as desirous of getof his pleadings, inveighed against Dr. Frank- ting admission as ourselves. Seeing this, I lin in the bitterest language, as the fomenter said we should never get through the crowd. of the disputes between the two countries. It He said, 'give me your arm; and locking was no protection to this venerable sage, that it fast in his, he soon made his way to the being the agent of Massachusetts, he conceiv- door of the privy-council
. I then said, “ Mr. ed it his duty to inform his constituents of Burke, you are an excellent leader :' he reletters written on public affairs, calculated to plied, “I wish other persons thought so too.' overturn their chartered constitution. The “ After waiting a short time, the door of the age, respectable character, and highly literary privy-council opened, and we entered the rank of the subject of the philippic of — The first, when Mr. Burke took his stand behind pert, prim, prater of the northern race,' (as the first chair next to the president, and I bethe satiric poet Churchill designates Wed- hind that the next to his. When the busiderburn,) turned the attention of the public ness was opened, it was sufficiently evident, on the transaction. The insult offered to one from the speech of Mr. Wedderburn, who of their public agents, and especially to one was counsel for the governor, that the real who was both the idol and ornament of his object of the court was to insult Dr. Franklin, country, sunk deep into the minds of the All this time he stood in a corner* of the room. Americans: that à faithful servant, whom not far from me, without the least apparent they loved and almost adored, should be in- emotion. sulted for discharging his official duty, rankled “Mr. Dunning, who was the leading counsel in their hearts."*
on the part of the colony, was so hoarse, that Dr. Franklin told Mr. Lee, one of his coun- he could hardly make himself heard; and sel, after the business was concluded, that he Mr. Lee, who was the second, spoke but was indifferent to Mr. Wedderburn's speech, feebly in reply; so that Mr. Wedderburn had but that he was indeed sincerely sorry to see a complete triumph. At the sallies of his the lords of council behave so indecently; sarcastic wit, all the members of the council, manifesting, in the rudest manner, the great the president himself (lord Gower) not expleasure they received from the solicitor's cepted, frequently laughed outright. speech; that dernier court, he said, before son belonging to the council behaved with whom all the colony affairs were tried, was decent gravity, except lord North, who, comnot likely to act in a candid and impartial ing late, took his stand behind the chair opmanner upon any future American question. posite to me. They showed, he added, that the coarsest “When the business was over, Dr. Franklin, language can be grateful to the politest ear.
* Error. He stood close to the fire, and in front of * See the Examinations, in this edition.
in going out, took me by the hand, in a man- | event that resulted therefrom, and probably ner that indicated some feeling: I soon fol with the intent of inserting it in his memoirs; lowed him, and going through the anti-room, for it is embodied in the present work, as well saw Mr. Wedderburn there, surrounded with for justification, as an historical document, ima circle of his friends and admirers. Being portant in the American annals. known to him, he stepped forwards, as if to Dr. Franklin may be considered as thus speak to me; but I turned aside, and made again continuing his own memoirs. what haste I could out of the place.
“ The next morning I breakfasted with the HAVING been from my youth more or less doctor, when he said, "he had never before engaged in public affairs, it has often happenbeen so sensible of the power of a good con- ed to me in the course of my life, to be censcience; for if he had not considered the sured sharply for the part I took in them. thing for which he had been so much insult- Such censures I have generally passed over ed, as one of the best actions of his life, and in silence, conceiving, when they were just, what he should certainly do again in the same that I ought rather to amend than defend; circumstances, he could not have supported and when they were undeserved, that a little it.” He was accused of clandestinely procur- time would justify me. Much experience ing certain letters, containing complaints of has confirmed my opinion of the propriety of the governor, and sending them to America, this conduct; for notwithstanding the frewith a view to excite their animosity against quent, and sometimes the virulent, attacks him, and thus to embroil the two countries. which the jostlings of party interests have But he assured me, that he did not even drawn upon me, I have had the felicity of know that such letters existed, till they were bringing down to a good old age as fair a re brought to him as agent for the colony, in putation (may I be permitted to say it) as order to be sent to his constituents; and the most public men that I have known, and have cover of the letters on which the direction never had reason to repent my neglecting to had been written, being lost, he only guessed defend it. at the person to whom they were addressed, I should, therefore, (persisting as old men by the contents.
ought to do in old habits,) have taken no no “That Dr. Franklin, notwithstanding he did tice of the late invective of the solicitor-gene not show it at the time, was much impressed ral, nor of the abundant abuse in the papers, by the business of the privy-council, appeared were I not urged to it by my friends, who from this circumstance: when he attended say, that the first being delivered by a public there, he was dressed in a suit of Manchester officer of government, before a high and most velvet; and Silas Deane told me, when they respectable court, the privy council, and met at Paris, to sign the treaty between countenanced by its report, and the latter France and America, he purposely put on having that for its foundation, it behoves me, that suit.
more especially as I am about leaving this “The publication of the letters of Hutchin- country, to furnish them with the knowledge son and Oliver, by the legislature of Massa- of such facts as may enable them to justify to chusetts, and the transmission of attested co others their good opinion of me. pies of the same, with their address, event- pels me to the present undertaking; for, ually produced a duel between Mr. William otherwise, having, for some time past, been Whately, (brother of the deceased Mr. Tho- gradually losing all public connections, demas Whately, secretary to the treasury, to clining my agencies, determining on retiring whom the letters were originally addressed, to my little family, that I might enjoy the re and in whose possession they were supposed mainder of life in private repose, indifferent to have been at the time of his death, in to the opinion of courtiers, as having nothing 1772,) and Mr. John Temple,* of Boston, to seek or wish among them; and being se'New England; each of whom had been sus- cure, that time would soon lay the dust which pected of having been instrumental in procur- prejudice and party have so lately raised, I ing the letters, and sending them to America. should not think of giving myself the trouble This tragical event, which Dr. Franklin of writing, and my friends of reading, an could not foresee, nor had an opportunity of apology for my political conduct. preventing, was maliciously made use of by his That this conduct may be better underenemies, to cast an odium on his character.” stood, and its consistency more apparent, it
seems necessary that I should first explain The following account is from a manu- the principles on which I have acted. It has script in Dr. Franklin's hand-writing, found long appeared to me that the only true British among his papers; evidently drawn up with policy was that which aimed at the good of a view to justify his conduct with respect to the whole British empire, not that which those famous letters, and the unfortunate sought the advantage of one part in the disAfterwards sir John Temple, and for several years
advantage of the others; therefore all measures of procuring gain to the mother coun
British consul in the United States.