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1765: CCXLVII: TO WILLIAM STRAHAN - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. IV (Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768).
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TO WILLIAM STRAHAN
Philadelphia, 24 September, 1764.
Dear Mr. Strahan:—
I wrote to you of the first instant, and sent you a bill for £13, and a little list of books to be bought with it. But as Mr. Becket has since sent them to me, I hope this will come time enough to countermand that order. The money, if you have received it, may be paid to Mr. Stephenson, to whom we have wrote for sundry things.
I thank you for inserting the messages and resolutions entire. I believe it has had a good effect; for a friend writes me that it is astonishing with what success it was propagated in London by the Proprietaries; that the resolutions were the most indecent and undutiful to the Crown, &c., so that when he saw them, having before heard those reports, he could not believe they were the same.
I was always unwilling to give a copy of the chapter for fear it would be printed, and by that means I should be deprived of the pleasure I often had in amusing people with it. I could not, however, refuse it to two of the best men in the world, Lord Kames and Mr. Small, and should not to the third if he had not been a printer. But you have overpaid me for the loss of that pleasure by the kind things you have so handsomely said of your friend in the introduction.
You tell me that the value I set on your political letters is a strong proof that my judgment is on the decline. People seldom have friends kind enough to tell them that disagreeable truth, however useful it might be to know it; and indeed I learn more from what you say than you intended I should; for it convinces me that you had observed the decline for some time past in other instances, as ’t is very unlikely you should see it first in my good opinion of your writings; but you have kept the observation to yourself till you had an opportunity of hinting it to me kindly under the guise of modesty in regard to your own performances. I will confess to you another circumstance that must confirm your judgment of me, which is that I have of late fancy’d myself to write better than ever I did; and, farther, that when any thing of mine is abridged in the papers or magazines, I conceit that the abridger has left out the very best and brightest parts. These, my friend, are much stronger proofs, and put me in mind of Gil Blas’s patron, the homily-maker.
I rejoice to hear that Mrs. Strahan is recovering; that your family in general is well, and that my little woman in particular is so, and has not forgot our tender connection. The enlarging of your house and the coach-house and stables you mention make me think of living with you when I come; for I love ease more than ever, and by daily using your horses I can be of service to you and them by preventing their growing too fat and becoming restif.
Mrs. Franklin and Sally join in best wishes for you and all yours, with your affectionate
I wrote a few lines to you by this opportunity, but omitted desiring you to call on Mr. Jackson of the Temple and pay him for the copying a manuscript he sent me which he paid the stationer for doing on my account. Yours affectionately,
TO JONATHAN WILLIAMS
Philadelphia, 3 November, 1764.
The case of the Armonica came home to-night, and the spindle, with all the rest of the work, seems well done. But on further consideration I think it is not worth while to take one of them to London, to be filled with glasses, as we intended. It will be better to send you one complete from thence, made under my direction, which I will take care shall be good. The glasses here will serve for these cases when I come back, if it please God that I live to return, and some friends will be glad of them.
Enclosed I send you that impostor’s letter. Perhaps he may be found by his handwriting.
We sail on Wednesday. The merchants here in two hours subscribed eleven hundred pounds, to be lent the publick for the charges of my voyage, &c. I shall take with me but part of it, five hundred pounds sterling. Any sum is to be had that I may want. My love to all. Adieu. Yours affectionately,
TO SARAH FRANKLIN
Reedy Island, 7 at night, 8 November, 1764.
My Dear Sally:—
We got down here at sunset, having taken in more live stock at Newcastle, with some other things we wanted. Our good friends, Mr. Galloway, Mr. Wharton and Mr. James, came with me in the ship from Chester to Newcastle, and went ashore there. It was kind to favor me with their good company as far as they could. The affectionate leave taken of me by so many friends at Chester was very endearing. God bless them and all Pennsylvania.
My dear child, the natural prudence and goodness of heart God has blessed you with makes it less necessary for me to be particular in giving you advice. I shall therefore only say that the more attentively dutiful and tender you are towards your good mamma, the more you will recommend yourself to me. But why should I mention me when you have a so much higher promise in the commandments that such conduct will recommend you to the favor of God. You know I have many enemies, all indeed on the publick account (for I cannot recollect that I have in a private capacity given just cause of offence to any one whatever), yet they are enemies, and very bitter ones, and you must expect their enmity will extend in some degree to you, so that your slightest indiscretions will be magnified into crimes in order the more sensibly to wound and afflict me. It is therefore the more necessary for you to be extremely circumspect in all your behaviour, that no advantage may be given to their malevolence.1
Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. The act of devotion in the Common Prayer Book is your principal business there, and if properly attended to will do more toward amending the heart than sermons generally can do. For they were composed by men of much greater piety and wisdom than our common composers of sermons can pretend to be, and therefore I wish you would never miss the prayer days; yet I do not mean you should despise sermons, even of the preachers you dislike, for the discourse is often much better than a man, as sweet and clear waters come through very dirty earth. I am the more particular on this head, as you seemed to express a little before I came away some inclination to leave our church, which I would not have you do.
For the rest, I would only recommend to you in my absence to acquire those useful accomplishments, arithmetic and book-keeping. This you might do with ease if you would resolve not to see company on the hours you set apart for those studies.
We expect to be at sea to-morrow if this wind holds, after which I shall have no opportunity of writing to you till I arrive (if it please God I do arrive) in England. I pray that his blessing may attend you, which is worth more than a thousand of mine, though they are never wanting. Give my love to your brother and sister,1 as I cannot write to them, and remember me affectionately to the young ladies, your friends, and to our good neighbors. I am, my dear child, your affectionate father,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
9 December, 1764.
My Dear Debby:—
This line is just to let you know that we have this moment come to an anchor here, and that I am going ashore at Portsmouth, and hope to be in London on Tuesday morning. No father could have been tenderer to a child than Captain Robinson has been to me, for which I am greatly obliged to Messrs. James and Drinker; but we have had terrible weather, and I have often been thankful that our dear Sally was not with me. Tell our friends that dined with us on the turtle, that the kind prayer they then put up for thirty days’ fair wind to me was favorably heard and answered, we being just thirty days from land to land.
I am, thanks to God, very well and hearty. John has behaved well to me, and so has everybody on board. I thank all my friends for their favors, which contributed so much to the comfort of my voyage. I have not time to name names. You know whom I love and honor. Say all the proper things for me to everybody. Love to our children, and to my dear brother and sister. I am, dear Debby, your ever loving husband,
of the late massacres, in lancaster county, of a number of indians, friends of this province, by persons unkown. with some observations on the same.
These Indians were the remains of a tribe of the Six Nations, settled at Conestogo, and thence called Conestogo Indians. On the first arrival of the English in Pennsylvania, messengers from this tribe came to welcome them, with presents of venison, corn, and skins; and the whole tribe entered into a treaty of friendship with the first proprietor, William Penn, which was to last “as long as the sun should shine, or the waters run in the rivers.”
This treaty has been since frequently renewed, and the chain brightened, as they express it, from time to time. It has never been violated, on their part or ours, till now. As their lands by degrees were mostly purchased, and the settlements of the white people began to surround them, the proprietor assigned them lands on the manor of Conestogo, which they might not part with; there they have lived many years in friendship with their white neighbours, who loved them for their peaceable inoffensive behaviour.
It has always been observed that Indians settled in the neighbourhood of white people do not increase, but diminish continually. This tribe accordingly went on diminishing, till there remained in their town on the manor but twenty persons, viz.: seven men, five women, and eight children, boys and girls.
Of these, Shehaes was a very old man, having assisted at the second treaty held with them, by Mr. Penn, in 1701, and ever since continued a faithful and affectionate friend to the English. He is said to have been an exceeding good man, considering his education, being naturally of a most kind, benevolent temper.
Peggy was Shehaes’s daughter; she worked for her aged father, continuing to live with him, though married, and attended him with filial duty and tenderness.
John was another good old man; his son Harry helped to support him.
George and Will Soc were two brothers, both young men.
John Smith, a valuable young man of the Cayuga nation, who became acquainted with Peggy, Shehaes’s daughter, some few years since, married, and settled in that family. They had one child, about three years old.
Betty, a harmless old woman; and her son Peter, a likely young lad.
Sally, whose Indian name was Wyanjoy, a woman much esteemed by all that knew her, for her prudent and good behaviour in some very trying situations of life. She was a truly good and amiable woman, had no children of her own; but, a distant relation dying, she had taken a child of that relation’s, to bring up as her own, and performed towards it all the duties of an affectionate parent.
The reader will observe that many of the names are English. It is common with the Indians, that have an affection for the English, to give themselves and their children the names of such English persons as they particularly esteem.
This little society continued the custom they had begun, when more numerous, of addressing every new governor, and every descendant of the first proprietor, welcoming him to the province, assuring him of their fidelity, and praying a continuance of that favor and protection they had hitherto experienced. They had accordingly sent up an address of this kind to our present governor, on his arrival; but the same was scarce delivered when the unfortunate catastrophe happened, which we are about to relate.
On Wednesday, the 14th of December, 1763, fifty-seven men from some of our frontier townships, who had projected the destruction of this little commonwealth, came, all well mounted, and armed with fire-locks, hangers, and hatchets, having travelled through the country in the night, to Conestogo manor. There they surrounded the small village of Indian huts, and just at break of day broke into them all at once. Only three men, two women, and a young boy were found at home, the rest being out among the neighbouring white people, some to sell the baskets, brooms, and bowls they manufactured, and others on other occasions. These poor defenceless creatures were immediately fired upon, stabbed, and hatcheted to death! The good Shehaes, among the rest, cut to pieces in his bed. All of them were scalped and otherwise horribly mangled. Then their huts were set on fire, and most of them burnt down. Then the troop, pleased with their own conduct and bravery, but enraged that any of the poor Indians had escaped the massacre, rode off, and in small parties, by different roads, went home.
The universal concern of the neighbouring white people, on hearing of this event, and the lamentations of the younger Indians, when they returned and saw the desolation, and the butchered, half-burnt bodies of their murdered parents and other relations, cannot well be expressed.
The magistrates of Lancaster sent out to collect the remaining Indians, brought them into the town for their better security against any farther attempt; and, it is said, condoled with them on the misfortune that had happened, took them by the hand, comforted, and promised them protection. They were all put into the workhouse, a strong building, as the place of greatest safety.
When the shocking news arrived in town, a proclamation was issued by the governor, in the following terms, viz.:
“Whereas I have received information that on Wednesday, the fourteenth day of this month, a number of people, armed and mounted on horseback, unlawfully assembled together, and went to the Indian town in the Conestogo manor, in Lancaster county, and without the least reason or provocation, in cool blood, barbarously killed six of the Indians settled there, and burnt and destroyed all their houses and effects; and whereas so cruel and inhuman an act, committed in the heart of this province on the said Indians, who have lived peaceably and inoffensively among us during all our late troubles, and for many years before, and were justly considered as under the protection of this government and its laws, calls loudly for the vigorous exertion of the civil authority, to detect the offenders, and bring them to condign punishment; I have, therefore, by and with the advice and consent of the council, thought fit to issue this proclamation, and do hereby strictly charge and enjoin all judges, justices, sheriffs, constables, officers, civil and military, and all other his Majesty’s liege subjects within this province, to make diligent search and inquiry after the authors and perpetrators of the said crime, their abettors and accomplices, and to use all possible means to apprehend and secure them in some of the public gaols of this province, that they may be brought to their trials, and be proceeded against according to law.
And whereas a number of other Indians, who lately lived on or near the frontiers of this province, being willing and desirous to preserve and continue the ancient friendship, which heretofore subsisted between them and the good people of this province, have, at their own earnest request, been removed from their habitations, and brought into the county of Philadelphia, and seated for the present, for their better security, on the Province Island, and in other places in the neighborhood of the city of Philadelphia, where provision is made for them at the public expense; I do, therefore, hereby strictly forbid all persons whatsoever, to molest or injure any of the said Indians, as they will answer the contrary at their peril.
Given under my hand, and the great seal of the said province, at Philadelphia, the twenty-second day of December, anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three, and in the fourth year of his Majesty’s reign.
By his Honor’s command,
|Thomas Leech,||George Ashbridge,|
|Joseph Fox,||Emanuel Carpenter,|
|Samuel Rhoads,||John Blackburn,|
|Abraham Chapman,||William Allen.”|
The House communicated this report to Governor Hamilton, when he afterwards pressed them to make the stipulated act of amendment; acquainting him, at the same time, that, as in the execution of the act no injustice had hitherto been done to the proprietary, so, by a yearly inspection of the assessments, they would take care that none should be done him; for that, if any should appear, or the governor could at any time point out to them any that had been done, they would immediately rectify it; and therefore, as the act was shortly to expire, they did not think the amendments necessary. Thus that matter ended during that administration.
And had his successor, Governor Penn, permitted it still to sleep, we are of opinion it had been more to the honor of the family, and of his own discretion. But he was pleased to found upon it a claim manifestly unjust, and which he was totally destitute of reason to support. A claim that the proprietaries’ best and most valuable located uncultivated lands should be taxed no higher than the worst and least valuable of those belonging to the inhabitants; to enforce which, as he thought the words of one of the stipulations seemed to give some countenance to it, he insisted on using those very words as sacred; from which he could, “neither in decency or in duty,” deviate; though he had agreed to deviate from words in the same report, and therefore equally sacred in every other instance. A conduct which will (as the Prefacer says in Governor Denny’s case) for ever disgrace the annals of his administration.1
Never did any administration open with a more promising prospect than this of Governor Penn. He assured the people in his first speeches of the proprietaries’ paternal regard for them, and their sincere dispositions to do every thing that might promote their happiness. As the proprietaries had been pleased to appoint a son of the family to the government, it was thought not unlikely that there might be something in these professions; for that they would probably choose to have his administration made easy and agreeable, and to that end might think it prudent to withdraw those harsh, disagreeable, and unjust instructions with which most of his predecessors had been hampered.
The assembly, therefore, believed fully, and rejoiced sincerely. They showed the new governor every mark of respect and regard that was in their power. They readily and cheerfully went into every thing he recommended to them. And when he and his authority were insulted and endangered by a lawless, murdering mob, they and their friends took arms at his call, and formed themselves round him for his defence and the support of his government.
But when it was found that those mischievous instructions still subsisted, and were even farther extended; when the governor began, unprovoked, to send the House affronting messages, seizing every imaginable occasion of reflecting on their conduct; when every other symptom appeared of fixed, deep-rooted, family malice, which could but a little while bear the unnatural covering that had been thrown over it, what wonder is it if all the old wounds broke out and bled afresh; if all the old grievances, still unredressed, were recollected; if despair succeeded of seeing any peace with a family that could make such returns to all their overtures of kindness. And when, in the very proprietary council, composed of staunch friends of the family, and chosen for their attachment to it, it was observed that the old men (1 Kings, ch. xii.) withdrew themselves, finding their opinion slighted, and that all measures were taken by the advice of two or three young men (one of whom too denies his share in them); is it any wonder, since like causes produce like effects, if the assembly, notwithstanding all their veneration for the first proprietor, should say, with the children of Israel under the same circumstances: “What portion have we in David, or inheritance in the son of Jesse? To your tents, O Israel!”
Under these circumstances, and a conviction, that, while so many natural sources of difference subsisted between proprietaries and people, no harmony in government could long subsist (without which neither the commands of the crown could be executed, nor the public good promoted), the House resumed the consideration of a measure that had often been proposed in former assemblies; a measure that every proprietary province in America had, from the same causes, found themselves obliged to take, and had actually taken, or were about to take; and a measure that had happily succeeded wherever it was taken; I mean the recourse to an immediate royal government.
They, therefore, after a thorough debate, and making no less than twenty-five unanimous resolves, expressing the many grievances this province had long labored under, through the proprietary government, came to the following resolution, viz.: “Resolved, nemine contradicente, that this House will adjourn, in order to consult their constituents, whether an humble address should be drawn up and transmitted to his Majesty; praying that he would be graciously pleased to take the people of this province under his immediate protection and government; by completing the agreement heretofore made with the first proprietary for the sale of the government to the crown, or otherwise, as to his wisdom and goodness shall seem meet.”1
This they ordered to be made public, and it was published accordingly in all the newspapers. The House then adjourned for no less than seven weeks, to give their constituents time to consider the matter, and themselves an opportunity of taking their opinion and advice. Could any thing be more deliberate, more fair and open, or more respectful to the people that chose them? During this recess, the people in many places held little meetings with each other; the result of which was, that they would manifest their sentiments to their representatives, by petitioning the crown directly of themselves, and requesting the assembly to transmit and support those petitions. At the next meeting many of these petitions were delivered to the House with that request; they were signed by a very great number1 of the most substantial inhabitants; and not the least intimation was received by the assembly from any other of their constituents, that the method was disapproved; except in a petition from an obscure township in Lancaster county, to which there were about forty names indeed, but all evidently signed by three hands only.
What could the assembly infer from the expressed willingness of a part, and silence of the rest, but that the measure was universally agreeable? They accordingly resumed the consideration of it; and, though a small, very small opposition then appeared to it in the House, yet, as even that was founded, not on the impropriety of the thing, but on the supposed unsuitableness of the time or the manner, and a majority of nine tenths being still for it, a petition was drawn, agreeable to the former resolve, and ordered to be transmitted to his Majesty.
But the Prefacer tells us, that these petitioners for a change were a “number of rash, ignorant, and inconsiderate people,” and generally of a low rank. To be sure they were not of the proprietary officers, dependants, or expectants, and those are chiefly the people of high rank among us; but they were otherwise generally men of the best estates in the province, and men of reputation. The assembly, who come from all parts of the country, and therefore may be supposed to know them, at least as well as the Prefacer, have given that testimony of them. But what is the testimony of the assembly, who, in his opinion are equally rash, ignorant, and inconsiderate with the petitioners? And, if his judgment is right, how imprudently and contrary to their charter have his three hundred thousand souls acted in their elections of assembly men, these twenty years past; for the charter requires them to choose men of most note for virtue, wisdom, and ability.
But these are qualities engrossed it seems by the proprietary party. For, they say: “The wiser and better part of the province had far different notions of this measure; they considered that the moment they put their hands to these petitions they might be surrendering up their birthright.” I felicitate them on the honor they have thus bestowed upon themselves; on the sincere compliments thus given and accepted; and on their having with such noble freedom discarded the snivelling pretence to modesty, couched in that threadbare form of words, “Though we say it, that should not say it.” But is it not surprising that, during the seven weeks’ recess of the assembly, expressly to consult their constituents on the expediency of this measure, and during the fourteen days the House sat deliberating on it after they met again, these their wisdoms and betternesses should never be so kind as to communicate the least scrap of their prudence, their knowledge, or their consideration to their rash, ignorant, and inconsiderate representatives? Wisdom in the mind is not like money in the purse, diminished by communication to others; they might have lighted up our farthing candles for us, without lessening the blaze of their own flambeaux. But they suffered our representatives to go on in the dark till the fatal deed was done; and the petition sent to the King, praying him to take the government of this province into his immediate care; whereby, if it succeeds, “our glorious plan of public liberty and charter of privileges is to be bartered away,” and we are to be made slaves forever. Cruel parsimony! to refuse the charity of a little understanding, when God had given you so much, and the assembly begged it as an alms. O that you had but for once remembered and observed the counsel of that wise poet, Pope, where he says,
- Be niggards of advice on no pretence;
- For the worst avarice is that of sense.
In the constitution of our government and in that of one more, there still remains a particular thing that none of the other American governments have—to wit, the appointment of a governor by the proprietors, instead of an appointment by the crown. This particular in government has been found inconvenient, attended with contentions and confusions wherever it existed, and has therefore been gradually taken away from colony after colony, and everywhere greatly to the satisfaction and happiness of the people.
Our wise first proprietor and founder was fully sensible of this; and being desirous of leaving his people happy, and preventing the mischiefs that he foresaw must in time arise from that circumstance, if it was continued; he determined to take it away, if possible, during his own lifetime. They accordingly entered into a contract for the sale of the proprietary right of government to the crown, and annually received a sum in part of the consideration. As he found himself likely to die before that contract (and with it his plan for the happiness of his people) could be completed, he carefully made it part of his last will and testament, devising the right of the government to two noble lords, in trust, that they should release it to the crown. Unfortunately for us, this has never yet been done. And this is merely what the assembly now desire to have done.
Surely he that formed our constitution, must have understood it. If he had imagined, that all our privileges depended on the proprietary government, will any one suppose that he would himself have meditated the change; that he would have taken such effectual measures as he thought them, to bring it about speedily, whether he should live or die? Will any of those who now extol him so highly, charge him at the same time with the baseness of endeavouring thus to defraud his people of all the liberties and privileges he had promised them, and by the most solemn charters and grants assured to them, when he engaged them to assist him in the settlement of his province? Surely none can be so inconsistent. And yet this proprietary right of governing or appointing a governor has all of a sudden changed its nature; and the preservation of it become of so much importance to the welfare of the province, that the assembly’s only petitioning to have their venerable founder’s will executed, and the contract he entered into for the good of his people completed, is styled an “attempt to violate the constitution for which our fathers planted a wilderness; to barter away our glorious plan of public liberty and charter privileges; a risking of the whole constitution; an offering up our whole charter rights; a wanton sporting with things sacred,” &c.
Pleasant surely it is to hear the proprietary partisans, of all men, brawling for the constitution, and affecting a terrible concern for our liberties and privileges. They, who have been these twenty years cursing our constitution, declaring that it was no constitution, or worse than none; and that things could never be well with us till it was new modelled, and made exactly conformable to the British constitution; they who have treated our distinguishing privileges as so many illegalities and absurdities; who have solemnly declared in print, that, though such privileges might be proper in the infancy of a colony to encourage its settlement, they became unfit for it in its grown state, and ought to be taken away; they who, by numberless falsehoods, propagated with infinite industry in the mother country, attempted to procure an act of Parliament for the actual depriving a very great part of the people of their privileges; they, too, who have already deprived the whole people of some of their most important rights, and are daily endeavouring to deprive them of the rest; are these become patriots and advocates of our constitution? Wonderful change! Astonishing conversion! Will the wolves then protect the sheep, if they can but persuade them to give up their dogs? Yes; the assembly would destroy all their own rights and those of the people, and the proprietary partisans are become the champions for liberty. Let those who have faith now make use of it; for, if it is rightly defined “the evidence of things not seen,” certainly never was there more occasion for such evidence, the case being totally destitute of all other.
It has been long observed that men are, with that party, angels or demons, just as they happen to concur with or oppose their measures. And I mention it for the comfort of old sinners, that in politics, as well as in religion, repentance and amendment, though late, shall obtain forgiveness and procure favor. Witness the late Speaker, Mr. Norris; a steady and constant opposer of all the proprietary encroachments, and whom, for thirty years past, they have been therefore continually abusing, allowing him no one virtue or good quality whatsoever; but now, as he showed some unwillingness to engage in this present application to the crown, he is become all at once the “faithful servant.” But let me look at the text, to avoid mistakes; and, indeed, I was mistaken; I thought it had been “faithful servant of the public,” but I find it is only “of the House.” Well chosen, that expression, and prudently guarded. The former, from a proprietary pen, would have been praise too much; only for disapproving the time of the application. Could you, much respected Sir, go but a little farther, and disapprove the application itself; could you but say the proprietary government is a good one, and ought to be continued; then might all your political offences be done away, and your scarlet sins become as snow and wool; then might you end your course with (proprietary) honor. P—— should preach your funeral sermon, and S——, the poisoner of other characters, embalm your memory. But those honors you will never receive; for, with returning health and strength, you will be found in your old post, firm for your country.
There is encouragement too for young sinners. Mr. Dickinson, whose speech our Prefacer has introduced to the world (though long hated by some, and disregarded by the rest, of the proprietary faction), is at once, for the same reason as in Mr. Norris’s case, become a sage in the law, and an oracle in matters relating to our constitution. I shall not endeavour to pluck so much as a leaf from these the young gentleman’s laurels. I would only advise him carefully to preserve the panegyrics with which they have adorned him; in time they may serve to console him, by balancing the calumny they shall load him with, when he does not go through with them in all their measures. He will not probably do the one, and they will then assuredly do the other. There are mouths that can blow hot as well as cold, and blast on your brows the bays their hands have placed there. Experto crede Roberto. Let but the proprietary favor withdraw its shine for a moment; and that “great number of the principal gentlemen of Philadelphia,” who applied to you for the copy of your speech, shall immediately despise and desert you.
“Those principal gentlemen!” what a pity it is that their names were not given us in the Preface, together with their admirable letter. We should then have known where to run for advice on all occasions. We should have known whom to choose for our future representatives; for undoubtedly these were they that are elsewhere called “the wiser and better part of the province.” None but wisdoms could have known beforehand that a speech which they never heard, and a copy of which they had never seen, but were then requesting to see, was “a spirited defence,” and “of our charter privileges”; and that “the publication of it would be of great utility, and give general satisfaction.” No inferior sagacity could discover, that the appointment of a governor by the proprietor was one of our “charter privileges”; and that those who opposed the application for a royal government were therefore patriot members appearing on the side of our privileges and our charter.
Utterly to confound the assembly, and show the excellence of proprietary government, the Prefacer has extracted from their own votes the praises they have from time to time bestowed on the first proprietor, in their addresses to his sons. And, though addresses are not generally the best repositories of historical truth, we must not in this instance deny their authority.1
That these encomiums on the father, though sincere, have occurred so frequently, was owing, however, to two causes: first, a vain hope the assemblies entertained, that the father’s example, and the honors done his character, might influence the conduct of the sons; secondly, for that, in attempting to compliment the sons on their own merits, there was always found an extreme scarcity of matter. Hence, the father, the honored and honorable father, was so often repeated, that the sons themselves grew sick of it and have been heard to say to each other with disgust, when told that A, B, and C were come to wait upon them with addresses on some public occasion, “Then I suppose we shall hear more about our father.” So that, let me tell the Prefacer, who perhaps was unacquainted with this anecdote, that if he hoped to curry more favor with the family, by the inscription he has framed for that great man’s monument, he may find himself mistaken; for there is too much in it of our father.
If, therefore, he would erect a monument to the sons, the votes of the assembly, which are of such credit with him, will furnish him with ample materials for his inscription.
To save him trouble I will essay a sketch for him, in the lapidary style, though mostly in the expressions, and everywhere in the sense and spirit, of the assembly’s resolves and messages.
Be this a Memorial
Of T——— and R——— P——,
P——— of P———,1
Who, with estates immense,
Almost beyond computation,
When their own province,
And the whole British empire,
Were engaged in a bloody and most expensive war,
Begun for the defence of those estates,
Could yet meanly desire
To have those very estates
Totally or partially
Exempted from taxation,
While their fellow-subjects all around them,
Under the universal burden.
To gain this point,
They refused the necessary laws
For the defence of their people,
And suffered their colony to welter in its blood,
Rather than abate in the least
Of these their dishonest pretensions.
The privileges granted by their father,
Wisely and benevolently
To encourage the first settlers of the province,
Foolishly and cruelly,
Taking advantage of public distress.
Have extorted from the posterity of those settlers;
And are daily endeavouring to reduce them
To the most abject slavery;
Though to the virtue and industry of those people,
In improving their country,
They owe all that they possess and enjoy.
A striking instance
Of human depravity and ingratitude;
And an irrefragable proof,
That wisdom and goodness
Do not descend with an inheritance;
But that ineffable meanness
May be connected with unbounded fortune.1
What then avails it to the honor of the present proprietors that our founder and their father gave us privileges, if they, the sons, will not permit the use of them, or forcibly rend them from us? David may have been a man after God’s own heart, and Solomon, the wisest of the proprietors and governors, but if Rehoboam will be a tyrant and a ——, who can secure him the affections of the people? The virtue and merit of his ancestors may be very great; but his presumption in depending upon these alone may be much greater.
I lamented a few pages ago that we were not acquainted with the names of those “principal gentlemen, the wiser and better part of the province.” I now rejoice that we are likely some time or other to know them; for a copy of a “Petition to the King” is now before me, which, from its similarity with their letter, must be of their inditing, and will probably be recommended to the people by their leading up the signing.
On this petition I shall take the liberty of making a few remarks, as they will save me the necessity of following farther the Preface, the sentiments of this and that being nearly the same.
It begins with a formal quotation from the petition,1 which they own they have not seen, and of words that are not in it; and, after relating very imperfectly and unfairly the fact relating to their application for a copy of it, which is of no importance, proceeds to set forth: “That, as we and all your American subjects must be governed by persons authorized and approved by your Majesty, on the best recommendation that can be obtained of them, we cannot perceive our condition in this respect to be different from our fellow-subjects around us; or that we are thereby less under your Majesty’s particular care and protection than they are; since there can be no governors of this province without your Majesty’s immediate approbation and authority.”
Such a declaration from the wiser part of the province is really a little surprising. What! when disputes concerning matters of property are daily arising between you and your proprietaries, cannot your wisdoms perceive the least difference between having the judges of those disputes appointed by a royal governor who has no interest in the cause, and having them appointed by the proprietaries themselves, the principal parties against you, and during their pleasure too? When supplies are necessary to be raised for your defence, can you perceive no difference between having a royal governor, free to promote his Majesty’s service by a ready assent to your laws, and a proprietary governor, shackled by instructions forbidding him to give that assent unless some private advantage is obtained, some profit got, or unequal exemption gained for their estate, or some privilege wrested from you? When prerogative, that in other governments is only used for the good of the people, is here strained to the extreme, and used to their prejudice and the proprietaries’ benefit, can you perceive no difference? When the direct and immediate rays of Majesty benignly and mildly shine on all around us, but are transmitted and thrown upon us through the burning-glass of proprietary government, can your sensibilities feel no difference? Sheltered perhaps in proprietary offices, or benumbed with expectations, it may be you cannot. But surely you might have known better than to tell his Majesty, “that there can be no governors of this province without his immediate approbation.” Don’t you know, who know so much, that by our blessed constitution the proprietors themselves, whenever they please, may govern us in person, without such approbation?
The petition proceeds to tell his Majesty, “That the particular mode of government which we enjoy under your Majesty, is held in the highest estimation by good men of all denominations among us; and has brought multitudes of industrious people from various parts of the world,” &c. Really, can this be from proprietary partisans? That constitution, which they were forever censuring, as defective in a legislative council, defective in government powers, too popular in many of its modes; is it now become so excellent? Perhaps, as they have been tinkering it these twenty years, till they have stripped it of some of its most valuable privileges, and almost spoiled it, they now begin to like it. But then it is not surely this present constitution that brought hither those multitudes. They came before. At least it was not that particular in our constitution (the proprietary power of appointing a governor) which attracted them; that single particular, which alone is now in question; which our venerable founder first, and now the assembly, are endeavouring to change.
As to the remaining valuable part of our constitution, the assembly have been equally full and strong in expressing their regard for it, and perhaps stronger and fuller; for their petition in that respect is in the nature of a petition of right; it lays claim, though modestly and humbly, to those privileges on the foundation of royal rights, on laws confirmed by the crown and on justice and equity; as the grants were the considerations offered to induce them to settle, and which they have in a manner purchased and paid for, by executing that settlement without putting the crown to any expense.
Whoever would know what our constitution was, when it was so much admired, let him peruse that elegant farewell speech of Mr. Hamilton, father of our late governor, when, as Speaker, he took his leave of the House, and of public business, in 1739; and then let him compare that constitution with the present. The power of appointing public officers by the representatives of the people, which he so much extols; where is it now? Even the bare naming to the governor in a bill, a trivial officer to receive a light-house duty (which could be considered as no more than a mere recommendation), is, in a late message, styled “an encroachment on the prerogative of the crown.” The sole power of raising and disposing of public money, which he says was then lodged in the assembly; that inestimable privilege, what is become of it? Inch by inch they have been wrested from us in times of public distress; and the rest are going the same way. I remember to have seen, when Governor Hamilton was engaged in a dispute with the assembly on some of those points, a copy of that speech, which then was intended to be reprinted, with a dedication to that honorable gentleman, and this motto, from John Rogers’s verses in the Primer:
- “We send you here a little book,
- For you to look upon,
- That you may see your father’s face,
- Now he is dead and gone.”
Many such a little book has been sent by our assemblies to the present proprietaries; but they do not like to see their father’s face; it puts their own out of countenance.
The petition proceeds to say: “That such disagreements as have arisen in this province, we have beheld with sorrow; but, as others around us are not exempted from the like misfortunes, we can by no means conceive them incident to the nature of our government, which hath often been administered with remarkable harmony; and your Majesty, before whom our late disputes have been laid, can be at no loss, in your great wisdom to discover, whether they proceed from the above cause, or should be ascribed to some others.” The disagreements in question are proprietary disagreements in government, relating to proprietary private interests. And are not the royal governments around us exempt from these misfortunes? Can you really, Gentlemen, by no means conceive, that proprietary government disagreements are incident to the nature of proprietary governments? Can they in nature be incident to any other governments? If your wisdoms are hard to conceive, I am afraid they will never bring forth.
But then our government “hath often been administered with remarkable harmony.” Very true; as often as the assembly have been able and willing to purchase that harmony, and pay for it; the mode of which has already been shown. And yet that word often seems a little unluckily chosen; the flame that is often put out must be as often lit. If our government “hath often been administered with remarkable harmony,” it hath as often been administered with remarkable discord. One often is as numerous as the other. And his Majesty, if he should take the trouble of looking over our disputes (to which the petitioners, to save themselves a little pains, modestly and decently refer him), where will he, for twenty years past, find any but proprietary disputes concerning proprietary interests, or disputes that have been connected with and arose from them?
The petition proceeds to assure his Majesty, “that this province (except from the Indian ravages) enjoys the most perfect internal tranquillity.” Amazing! What! the most perfect tranquillity, when there have been three atrocious riots within a few months! When, in two of them, horrid murders were committed on twenty innocent persons; and, in the third, no less than one hundred and forty like murders were meditated, and declared to be intended, with as many more as should be occasioned by any opposition! When we know, that these rioters and murderers have none of them been punished, have never been prosecuted, have not even been apprehended; when we are frequently told that they intend still to execute their purposes as soon as the protection of the King’s forces is withdrawn! Is our tranquillity more perfect now than it was between the first riot and the second, or between the second and the third? And why “except the Indian ravages,” if a little intermission is to be denominated “the most perfect tranquillity”? for the Indians too have been quiet lately. Almost as well might ships in an engagement talk of the “most perfect tranquillity” between two broadsides. But “a spirit of riot and violence is foreign to the general temper of the inhabitants.” I hope and believe it is; the assembly have said nothing to the contrary. And yet is there not too much of it? Are there not pamphlets continually written, and daily sold in our streets, to justify and encourage it? Are not the mad armed mob in those writings instigated to embrue their hands in the blood of their fellow citizens, by first applauding their murder of the Indians, and then representing the assembly and their friends as worse than Indians, as having privately stirred up the Indians to murder the white people, and armed and rewarded them for that purpose? Lies, Gentlemen, villanous as ever the malice of hell invented, and which, to do you justice, not one of you believes, though you would have the mob believe them.
But your petition proceeds to say, “that where such disturbances have happened, they have been speedily quieted.” By whom were they quieted? The two first, if they can be said to be quieted, were quieted only by the rioters themselves going home quietly (that is, without any interruption), and remaining there till their next insurrection, without any pursuit or attempt to apprehend any of them. And the third, was it quieted, or was the mischief they intended prevented, or could it have been prevented, without the aid of the King’s troops, marched into the province for that purpose? “The civil powers have been supported,” in some sort. We all know how they were supported; but have they been fully supported? Has the government sufficient strength, even with all its supports, to venture on the apprehending and punishment of those notorious offenders? If it has not, why are you angry at those who would strengthen its hands by a more immediate royal authority? If it has, why is not the thing done? Why will the government, by its conduct, strengthen the suspicions (groundless no doubt), that it has come to a private understanding with those murderers, and that impunity for their past crimes is to be the reward of their future political services? Oh, but says the petition, “There are perhaps cases in all governments, where it may not be possible speedily to discover offenders.” Probably; is there any case in any government where it is not possible to endeavour such a discovery? There may be cases where it is not safe to do it. And perhaps the best thing our government can say for itself is, that that is our case. The only objection to such an apology must be, that it would justify that part of the assembly’s petition to the crown which relates to the weakness of our present government.1
Still, if there is any fault, it must be in the assembly. “For,” says the petition, “if the executive part of our government should seem in any case too weak, we conceive it is the duty of the assembly, and in their power, to strengthen it.” This weakness, however, you have just denied. “Disturbances,” you say, “have been speedily quieted, and the civil power supported”; and thereby you have deprived your insinuated charge against the assembly of its only support. But is it not a fact known to you all, that the assembly did endeavour to strengthen the hands of the government? That, at his Honor’s instance, they prepared and passed in a few hours a bill for extending hither the act of Parliament for dispersing rioters? That they also passed and presented to him a militia bill, which he refused, unless powers were thereby given him over the lives and properties of the inhabitants, which the public good did not require, and which their duty to their constituents would not permit them to trust in the hands of any proprietary governor? You know the points, Gentlemen; they have been made public. Would you have had your representatives give up those points? Do you intend to give them up, when at the next election you are made assembly-men? If so, tell it us honestly beforehand, that we may know what we are to expect, when we are about to choose you.
I come now to the last clause of your petition, where, with the same wonderful sagacity with which you in another case discovered the excellency of a speech you never heard, you undertake to characterize a petition you own you never saw; and venture to assure his Majesty, that it is “exceeding grievous in its nature; that it by no means contains a proper representation of the state of this province; and is repugnant to the general sense of his numerous and loyal subjects” in it. Are, then, his Majesty’s numerous and loyal subjects in this province all as great wizards as yourselves, and capable of knowing, without seeing it, that a petition is repugnant to their general sense?
But the inconsistence of your petition, Gentlemen, is not so much to be wondered at. The prayer of it is still more extraordinary: “We therefore most humbly pray, that your Majesty would be graciously pleased wholly to disregard the said petition of the assembly.” What! without inquiry! Without examination! without a hearing of what the assembly might say in support of it! “wholly disregard” the petition of your representatives in assembly; accompanied by other petitions signed by thousands of your fellow subjects, as loyal, if not as wise and as good as yourselves! Would you wish to see your great and amiable prince act a part that could not become a Dey of Algiers? Do you, who are Americans, pray for a precedent of such contempt in the treatment of an American assembly? Such “total disregard” of their humble applications to the throne? Surely your Wisdoms here have overshot yourselves. But as wisdom shows itself, not only in doing what is right, but in confessing and amending what is wrong, I recommend the latter particularly to your present attention, being persuaded of this consequence, that, though you have been mad enough to sign such a petition, you never will be fools enough to present it.
There is one thing mentioned in the Preface, which I find I omitted to take notice of as I came along, the refusal of the House to enter Mr. Dickinson’s protest on their minutes. This is mentioned in such a manner there and in the newspapers, as to insinuate a charge of some partiality and injustice in the assembly. But the reasons were merely these: that, though protesting may be a practice with the Lords of Parliament, there is no instance of it in the House of Commons, whose proceedings are the model followed by the assemblies of America; that there is no precedent of it in our votes, from the beginning of our present constitution; and that the introducing such a practice would be attended with inconveniences, as the representatives in assembly are not, like the Lords in Parliament, unaccountable to any constituents; and would therefore find it necessary for their own justification, if the reasons of the minority for being against a measure were admitted in the votes, to put there likewise the reasons that induced the majority to be for it; whereby the votes which were intended only as a register of propositions and determinations, would be filled with the disputes of members with members, and the public business be thereby greatly retarded, if ever brought to a period.
As that protest was a mere abstract of Mr. Dickinson’s speech, every particular of it will be found answered in the following speech of Mr. Galloway; from which it is fit that I should no longer detain the reader.
ON A LATE PROTEST AGAINST THE APPOINTMENT OF MR. FRANKLIN AS AGENT FOR THE PROVINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA
The zeal and perseverance with which Franklin had espoused the cause of the people against the proprietaries, raised up many enemies in the adverse party. At the election for a new Assembly, therefore, in the autumn of 1764, great efforts were made by his opponents to prevent his being chosen, in which they succeeded. By a small majority he lost his seat in the Assembly, which he had held for fourteen years, having been annually elected, even during his absence in England, as one of the delegates from the city of Philadelphia. But, notwithstanding his defeat, when the Assembly met it was found that his friends and the friends of his measures outnumbered the proprietary party, and he was again appointed to resume his agency in England, and to take charge of a petition to the king. Dissatisfied with this step, the minority in the House drew up a formal protest, and urged its being inserted in the minutes; but it was refused, on the ground of its being irregular and unprecedented. The protest was published, and gave occasion for the following reply, written at the moment the author was preparing to depart for Europe.—Editor.
I have generally passed over, with a silent disregard, the nameless abusive pieces that have been written against me; and, though this paper, called “A Protest,” is signed by some respectable names, I was, nevertheless, inclined to treat it with the same indifference; but as the assembly is therein reflected on upon my account, it is thought more my duty to make some remarks upon it.
I would first observe, then, that this mode of protesting by the minority, with a string of reasons against the proceedings of the majority of the House of Assembly, is quite new among us; the present is the second we have had of the kind, and both within a few months. It is unknown to the practice of the House of Commons, or of any House of Representatives in America that I have heard of; and seems an affected imitation of the Lords in Parliament, which can by no means become assembly-men of America. Hence appears the absurdity of the complaint, that the House refused the protest an entry on their minutes. The protestors know that they are not by any custom or usage entitled to such an entry; and that the practice here is not only useless in itself, but would be highly inconvenient to the House, since it would probably be thought necessary for the majority also to enter their reasons, to justify themselves to their constituents; whereby the minutes would be encumbered, and the public business obstructed. More especially will it be found inconvenient, if such protests are made use of as a new form of libelling, as the vehicles of personal malice, and as means of giving to private abuse the appearance of a sanction as public acts. Your protest, Gentlemen, was therefore properly refused; and, since it is no part of the proceedings of assembly, one may with the more freedom examine it.
Your first reason against my appointment is, that you “believe me to be the chief author of the measures pursued by the last assembly, which have occasioned such uneasiness and distraction among the good people of this province.” I shall not dispute my share in those measures; I hope they are such as will in time do honor to all that were concerned in them. But you seem mistaken in the order of time. It was the uneasiness and distraction among the good people of the province, that occasioned the measures; the province was in confusion before they were taken, and they were pursued in order to prevent such uneasiness and distraction for the future. Make one step farther back, and you will find proprietary injustice, supported by proprietary minions and creatures, the original cause of all our uneasiness and distractions.
Another of your reasons is “that I am, as you are informed, very unfavorably thought of by several of his Majesty’s ministers.” I apprehend, Gentlemen that your informer is mistaken. He indeed has taken great pains to give unfavorable impressions of me, and perhaps may flatter himself that it is impossible so much true industry should be totally without effect. His long success in maiming or murdering all the reputations that stand in his way (which has been the dear delight and constant employment of his life) may likewise have given him some just ground for confidence that he has, as they call it, done for me among the rest. But, as I said before, I believe he is mistaken. For what have I done that they should think unfavorably of me? It cannot be my constantly and uniformly promoting the measures of the crown ever since I had any influence in the province. It cannot, surely, be my promoting the change from a proprietary to a royal government.
If indeed I had, by speeches and writings, endeavoured to make his Majesty’s government universally odious in the province; if I had harangued by the week to all comers and goers on the pretended injustice and oppressions of royal government, and the slavery of the people under it; if I had written traitorous papers to this purpose, and got them translated into other languages to give his Majesty’s foreign subjects here those horrible ideas of it; if I had declared, written, and printed, that “the King’s little finger we should find heavier than the proprietor’s whole loins,” with regard to our liberties, then indeed might the ministers be supposed to think unfavorably of me. But these are not exploits for a man who holds a profitable office under the crown, and can expect to hold it no longer than he behaves with the fidelity and duty that become every good subject. They are only for officers of proprietary appointment, who hold their commissions during his and not the King’s pleasure, and who, by dividing among themselves and their relations offices of many thousands a year enjoyed by proprietary favor, feel where to place their loyalty. I wish they were as good subjects to his Majesty; and perhaps they may be so when the proprietary interferes no longer.
Another of your reasons is “that the proposal of me for an agent is extremely disagreeable to a very great number of the most serious and reputable inhabitants of the province, and the proof is my having been rejected at the last election, though I had represented the city in assembly for fourteen years.”
And do those of you, Gentlemen, reproach me with this, who, among near four thousand voters, had scarcely a score more than I had? It seems, then, that your elections were very near being rejections, and thereby furnishing the same proof in your case that you produce in mine, of your being likewise extremely disagreeable to a very great number of the most serious and reputable people. Do you, honorable Sir, reproach me with this who for almost twice fourteen years have been rejected (if not being chosen is to be rejected) by the same people, and (unable, with all your wealth and connexions, and the influence they give you, to obtain an election in the county where you reside, and the city where you were born, and are best known) have been obliged to accept a seat from one of the out counties, the remotest of the province! It is known, Sir, to the persons who proposed me that I was first chosen against my inclination, and against my entreaties that I might be suffered to remain a private man. In none of the fourteen elections you mention did I ever appear as a candidate. I never did, directly or indirectly, solicit any man’s votes. For six of the years in which I was annually chosen I was absent, residing in England, during all which time your secret and open attacks upon my character and reputation were incessant, and yet you gained no ground. And can you really, Gentlemen, find matter of triumph in this rejection as you call it? A moment’s reflection on the means by which it was obtained must make you ashamed of it.
Not only my duty to the crown, in carrying the post-office act more duly into execution, was made use of to exasperate the ignorant, as if I was increasing my own profits, by picking their pockets; but my very zeal in opposing the murderers, and supporting the authority of government, and even my humanity with regard to the innocent Indians under our protection, were mustered among my offences, to stir up against me those religious bigots, who are of all savages the most brutish. Add to this the numberless falsehoods propagated as truths; and the many perjuries procured among the wretched rabble brought to swear themselves entitled to a vote; and yet so poor a superiority obtained at all this expense of honor and conscience! Can this, Gentlemen, be matter of triumph? Enjoy it then. Your exultation, however, was short.
Your artifices did not prevail everywhere; nor your double tickets, and whole boxes of forged votes. A great majority of the new-chosen assembly were of the old members, and remain uncorrupted. They still stood firm for the people, and will obtain justice from the proprietaries. But what does that avail to you, who are in the proprietary interest? And what comfort can it afford you, when, by the assembly’s choice of an agent, it appears that the same, to you obnoxious, man (nothwithstanding all your venomous invectives against him) still retains so great a share of the public confidence?
But “this step,” you say, “gives you the more lively affliction, as it is taken at the very moment when you were informed by a member of the House that the governor had assured him of his having received instructions from the proprietaries to give his assent to the taxation of their estates, in the same manner that the estates of other persons are to be taxed; and also to confirm, for the public use, the several squares formerly claimed by the city.” O the force of friendship! the power of interest! What politeness they infuse into a writer, and what delicate expressions they produce!
The dispute between the proprietaries and us was about the quantum, the rate of their taxation; and not about the manner; but now, when all the world condemns them for requiring a partial exemption of their estates, and they are forced to submit to an honest equality, it is called “assenting to be taxed in the same manner with the people.” Their restitution of five public squares in the plan of the city, which they had near forty years unjustly and dishonorably seized and detained from us, (directing their surveyor to map streets over them, in order to turn them into lots, and their officers to sell a part of them,) this their disgorging is softly called confirming them for the public use; and instead of the plain words, “formerly given to the city by the first proprietary, their father,” we have the cautious, pretty expression of “formerly claimed by the city.” Yes; not only formerly, but always claimed, ever since they were promised and given to encourage the settlers; and ever will be claimed, till we are put in actual possession of them. It is pleasant, however, to see how lightly and tenderly you trip over these matters, as if you trod upon eggs.
But that “very moment,” that precious moment! Why was it so long delayed? Why were those healing instructions so long withheld and concealed from the people? They were, it seems, brought over by Mr. Allen.1 Intelligence was received by various hands from London, that orders were sent by the proprietaries, from which great hopes were entertained of an accommodation. Why was the bringing and the delivery of such orders so long denied? The reason is easily understood. Messieurs Barclay, friends to both proprietaries and people, wished for that gentleman’s happy arrival; hoping his influence, added to the power and commissions the proprietaries had vested him with, might prove effectual in restoring harmony and tranquillity among us. But he, it seems, hoped his influence might do the business without these additions.
There appeared, on his arrival, some prospect (from sundry circumstances) of a change to be made in the House by the approaching election. The proprietary friends and creatures knew the heart of their master, and how extremely disagreeable to him that equal taxation, that restitution, and the other concessions to be made for the sake of a reconciliation, must necessarily be. They hoped therefore to spare him all those mortifications, and thereby secure a greater portion of his favor. Hence the instructions were not produced to the last assembly; though they arrived before the September sitting, when the governor was in town, and actually did business with the House. Nor to the new assembly were they mentioned, till the “very moment,” the fatal moment, when the House were on the point of choosing that wicked adversary of the proprietary, to be an agent of the province in England.
But I have, you say, a “fixed enmity to the proprietaries,” and “you believe it will preclude all accommodation of our disputes with them, even on just and reasonable terms.” And why do you think I have a fixed enmity to the proprietaries? I have never had any personal difference with them. I am no land-jobber; and therefore have never had any thing to do with their land office or officers; if I had, probably, like others, I might have been obliged to truckle to their measures, or have had like causes of complaint. But our private interests never clashed; and all their resentment against me, and mine to them, has been on the public account. Let them do justice to the people of Pennsylvania, act honorably by the citizens of Philadelphia, and become honest men; my enmity, if that’s of any consequence, ceases from the “very moment,” and, as soon as I possibly can, I promise to love, honor, and respect them.
In the meantime, why do you “believe it will preclude all accommodation with them on just and reasonable terms”? Do you not boast that their gracious condescensions are in the hands of the governor; and that “if this had been the usual time for business, his Honor would have sent them down in a message to the House.” How then can my going to England prevent this accommodation? The governor can call the House when he pleases; and, one would think that, at least in your opinion, my being out of the way would be a favorable circumstance. For then, by “cultivating the disposition shown by the proprietaries, every reasonable demand that can be made on the part of the people might be obtained; in vigorously insisting on which, you promise to unite more earnestly with the rest of the House.” It seems then we have “reasonable demands” to make, and, as you call them a little higher, equitable demands. This is much for proprietary minions to own; but you are all growing better, in imitation of your master, which is indeed very commendable. And, if the accommodation here should fail, I hope that, though you dislike the person a majority of two to one in the House have thought fit to appoint an agent, you will nevertheless, in duty to your country, continue the noble resolution of uniting with the rest of the House in vigorously insisting on that equity and justice which such a union will undoubtedly obtain for us.
I pass over the trivial charge against the assembly, that they “acted with unnecessary haste in proceeding to this appointment, without making a small adjournment,” &c., and your affected apprehensions of danger from that haste. The necessity of expedition on this occasion is as obvious to every one out of doors, as it was to those within; and the fears you mention are not, I fancy, considerable enough to break your rest.
I come then to your high charge against me, “that I heretofore ventured, contrary to an act of assembly, to place the public money in the stocks; whereby this province suffered a loss of six thousand pounds, and that sum, added to the five thousand pounds granted for my expenses, makes the whole cost of my former voyage to England amount to eleven thousand pounds!” How wisely was that form in our laws contrived, which, when a man is arraigned for his life, requires the evidence to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! The reason is manifest. A falsehood may destroy the innocent; so may part of a truth without the whole; and a mixture of truth and falsehood may be full as pernicious. You, Mr. Chief Justice, and the other justices among the protestors, and you, Sir, who are a Counsellor at Law, must all of you be well acquainted with this excellent form; and when you arraigned my reputation (dearer to me than life) before the assembly, and now at the respectable tribunal of the public, would it not have well become your honors to have had some small regard at least to the spirit of that form?
You might have mentioned that the direction of the act to lodge the money in the bank, subject to the drafts of the trustees of the loan office here, was impracticable; that the bank refused to receive it on those terms, it being contrary to their settled rules to take charge of money subject to the orders of unknown people living in distant countries. You might have mentioned that the House being informed of this, and having no immediate call for the money, did themselves adopt the measure of placing it in the stocks, which then were low; where it might on a peace produce a considerable profit, and in the meantime accumulate an interest. That they even passed a bill, directing the subsequent sums granted by Parliament to be placed with the former; that the measure was prudent and safe; and that the loss arose, not from placing the money in the stocks, but from the imprudent and unnecessary drawing it out at the very time when they were lowest, on some slight uncertain rumors of a peace concluded; that, if the assembly had let it remain another year, instead of losing, they would have gained six thousand pounds; and that, after all, since the exchange at which they sold their bills was near twenty per cent. higher when they drew than when the stocks were purchased, the loss was far from being so great as you represent it.
All these things you might have said; for they are, and you know them to be, part of the whole truth; but they would have spoiled your accusation. The late Speaker of your honorable House, Mr. Norris (who has, I suppose, all my letters to him, and copies of his own to me, relating to that transaction), can testify with how much integrity and clearness I managed the whole affair. All the House were sensible of it, being from time to time fully acquainted with the facts. If I had gone to gaming in the stocks with the public money, and through my fault a sum was lost, as your protest would insinuate, why was I not censured and punished for it when I returned? You, honorable Sir (my enemy of seven years’ standing), were then in the House. You were appointed on the committee for examining my accounts; you reported that you found them just, and signed that report.1
I never solicited the employ of agent; I made no bargain for my future service, when I was ordered to England by the assembly; nor did they vote me any salary. I lived there near six years at my own expense, and I made no charge or demand when I came home. You, Sir, of all others, were the very member that proposed (for the honor and justice of the House) a compensation to be made me of the five thousand pounds you mention. Was it with an intent to reproach me thus publicly for accepting it? I thanked the House for it then, and I thank you now for proposing it; though you, who have lived in England, can easily conceive that, besides the prejudice to my private affairs by my absence, a thousand pounds more would not have reimbursed me.
The money voted was immediately paid me. But if I had occasioned the loss of six thousand pounds to the province, here was a fair opportunity of securing easily the greatest part of it. Why was not the five thousand pounds deducted, and the remainder called for? The reason is this accusation was not then invented. Permit me to add that, supposing the whole eleven thousand pounds an expense occasioned by my voyage to England; yet the taxation of the proprietary estate now established, will, when valued by years’ purchase, be found in time an advantage to the public far exceeding that expense. And if the expense is at present a burden, the odium of it ought to lie on those who, by their injustice, made the voyage necessary, and not on me, who only submitted to the orders of the House in undertaking it.
I am now to take leave (perhaps a last leave) of the country I love, and in which I have spent the greatest part of my life. Esto perpetuo. I wish every kind of prosperity to my friends; and I forgive my enemies.
Philadelphia, Nov. 5, 1764.
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 9 February, 1765.
My Dear Child:—
I have been so hurried of late that I could not write much by this packet. One letter to the Speaker, and one to you, are all I shall be able to make out. Thanks to God, I am got perfectly well; my cough quite gone. My arms, too, continue mending, so that I can now put on and off my clothes, but do not practice it yet, as it still hurts me a little. John continues with me, behaves very well, and talks of returning with me. Mrs. Stevenson has bought the things you wrote for, and they will go by Captain Robinson. She presents her compliments, and wishes you would come over and bring Sally. I purpose sending in the chest some books for cousin Colbert, if the bookseller sends them soon enough.
I hope to be able to return about the end of summer. I will look out for a watch for Sally, as you desire, to bring with me. The reason I did not think of it before, was your suffering her to wear yours, which you seldom use yourself. Major Small arrived here about three weeks since very well, and gave me the pleasure of hearing that he left you and Sally and our other children well also. The news of Colonel Bouquet’s success gave great satisfaction here, but to none more than myself, upon his account as well as the country’s. I do not know whether I mentioned in any former letter, that I could wish you to send me what letters come to your hands directed to me in my absence. I particularly want those that went from the post-office here.
I am obliged to our landlord for his civility, and shall always remember it. I hope by this time your trouble of moving is over, and that you are completely settled. I went to see Mrs. West. She was then unwell, and I did not see her, and have since been too busy; but shall wait on them again very soon. My love to all. I am, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,
FROM JOSEPH GALLOWAY TO B. FRANKLIN
Philadelphia, 27 February, 1765.
I wrote to you by the packet, including a copy of the extract of a letter from Thomas Penn to his nephew, the governor, which is enclosed in this letter.
This account of the petitions for a change of this government from proprietary to royal, has struck our friends with the utmost consternation, and, indeed, I am not a little alarmed at the consequences. For, you well know, the Assembly party are the only loyal part of the people here, and are those very persons, who have preserved the peace and good order of the province, not only against the Paxton rioters and murderers, but also in these times of general tumult and distraction, when all the powers of this government were asleep, and its officers were inactive in the opposition; and they conceive that this good demeanor and remarkable service to the crown justify their claim of some share of merit, and, at least, entitles them to a hearing of their complaints.
But they say, if this extract be true, that his Majesty’s Privy Council has rejected the humble petitions of their representatives without even a hearing; that they have not been permitted, when they approached the throne with the utmost duty and loyalty, to breathe forth their complaints against proprietary oppression and injustice, which has often wounded their own welfare, and obstructed their essential duties to the crown; and that they have nothing now left, but to groan, if they dare to groan at all, under the tyranny of a private subject, without the least hopes of redress, the royal ear being shut against a part of his liege subjects, the most dutiful and loyal.
They further say, what you well know, that the laws are not, nor have been for many years, duly executed; that no justice is to be obtained against the Proprietors, or their adherents; that the most flagitious offenders, even murderers and rebels, are travelling about the country with impunity; and that they have no protection of life nor safety of person or property. These, with many other complaints, are constantly issuing from the hearts of the people; the proprietary dependents excepted, who greatly rejoice and even insult the petitioners and their friends. Since the receipt of this incredible letter, extracts whereof have been industriously sent all over the province, in order to spirit up the temper and violent disposition of their party, I have left nothing in my power unessayed among our friends to oppose the torrent, and to prevail on them to discredit this account, and to believe that his Majesty will yet hear their petitions and redress their aggrievances. And I have been obliged to give many extracts of your letters to me, respecting the state of those petitions, to convince them of my assurances, which has, in some degree, prevented their despair, as they have been from thence induced to discredit the extract.
Our Assembly, anxious to know the result of the petitions, have adjourned to the 6th of May next; being inviolably attached to his Majesty, and firmly determined to become his immediate subjects, if there are any human means left to effect it. And since the assurances that have been received, that our liberties will be preserved on the change, all their constituents (the proprietary dependents and Presbyterians excepted) are determined to support them in the attempt. Should this account from the Proprietor prove true (which God forbid), that their petitions are rejected without a hearing, I fear their consternation and distress will be wrought still higher. For, while the present members are continued, I am convinced they will never cease entreating his Majesty to rescue them from the oppression of his private subjects; and that there is a great probability to presume their continuance, will appear from the accounts of the last election.
Wherefore I hope the petitions, as you have written, and I have confidently declared, are not rejected, or laid aside, but will be resumed when the more important American affairs are settled. Nothing less than a change, I think, will satisfy the people; certain I am, a dismission without a hearing never can, but, I fear, will throw this already too unhappy province into equal disorder and confusion with its neighbouring colonies.
You will therefore be pleased to inform me in what state the petitions are before his Majesty’s Council, by the earliest opportunity, that I may be enabled to satisfy the people, who rely upon us with certainty. In the meantime, be assured that nothing in my power shall be wanting to preserve the peace, and render them easy. Believe me, dear friend, ever yours most affectionately,
FROM MRS. FRANKLIN TO HER HUSBAND
Aprill ye 7 this day is Compleet 5 munthes senes you lefte your one House I did reseve a letter from the Capes senes that not one line I due supose that you did write by the Jan packit but that is not arived as yit Mits wikeof came and told me that you was arived and was well that her Brother had wrote her he had seen you Mr. Neet has wrote that you was well and miss Graham has wrote all so that shee had the pleshuer of a visit from you and several have wrote that you was well all thes a Countes air as plesing as such things Can be but a letter wold tell me hough your poor armes was and hough you was on your voiag and hough you air and everey thing is with you which I wante verey much to know.
Mr. Foxcrafte came to toun this day weeke and is to retame a gen in a bought a week and as I had got sume [?] of our things in the new house and beads in the uper roomes he lodges in the room fasing the market-street and has his writeing thair all so yisterday sume of the saches was hung and if I wold a low my selef I cold find falt but I donte and so we go on but it has bin such bad wather this is freyday morning Aprill ye 12 yisterday I reseved yours of Desember 10 and 27 Jan. 12 all by the packit which was given over for loste but thank God is now safe arived.
As I have but a very littel time to write as the rodes is so very bad I shall only NA to Joyne with you in senser thanks to god for your presevevoashon and Safe a rivel o what reson have you and I to be thankful for maney meney [?] we have reseved.
Billey and his wife is in town they Came to the rases lodged at Mr. Galloway but Spente yisterday at our house and Mr. William’s Brother we was att diner I sed I had not aney thing but vitels for I cold not get aney thing for a deserte but who knows but I may treet you with sum thing from Ingland and as we was at tabel Mr. Sumain [?] Came and sed the poste had gone by with the letters that the packit had brought so I had the pleshuer of treeting quite grand indeed and our littel Company as Cherful and hapey as ony in the world none excepted o my dear hough hapey am I to hear that you air safe and well hough dus your armes doe was John of servis to you is your Cold quite gon o I long to know the partic [?] hear I must levef of Salley not up as she was at the Assembly last night with her Sister and I have spook to more than twenty sense I wrote the a bove, I saw Mr. Rhodes this morning he is well and has a Grandatter named Mary Franklin Brother and Sister is well Brother Read is gon to Pittsburg Debbey sends her Duty to you but is verey poorly indeed Cusin Devenporte is hear her Doty shee is will Hethcote desiers his I donte no that I shold say it but he ses his Duty I suppose moste of your friends wrote to you.
My love to good Mrs. Stephenson and Polley to our Cosines to Mr and Mrs Strahan [?] and their whole famely, to our good Mr. Collinson to Mr and Mrs Weste and to all who I am obligd to for thair kiness to you every one that I have seen desiers to be remember to you and everey one hinders me our one famely is well and sendes Duty I am told that my old naber Mrs Emson is to be in London my love to her and give her a kis from me adoe my Dear child and take caire of youre selef for maneys sake as well as your one.
I am your a feckshonet wife
Mrs Potts and Saell send their Love and Duty to you.
[On the back of the letter written across the page is the following.]
Laste night Capt. Car arived I supose you did not write by him. Mama had a letter from Susan Write they were all well a few days ago.
TO THE EDITOR OF A NEWSPAPER
Monday, 20 May, 1765.
In your paper of Wednesday last, an ingenious correspondent who calls himself The Spectator, and dates from Pimlico, under the guise of good-will to news-writers, whom he calls a “useful body of men in this great city,” has, in my opinion, artfully attempted to turn them and their works into ridicule, wherein, if he could succeed, great injury might be done to the public as well as to these good people.
Supposing, Sir, that the “we hears” they give us of this or the other intended tour or voyage of this and the other great personage were mere inventions, yet they at least offer us an innocent amusement while we read, and useful matter for conversation when we are disposed to converse.
Englishmen, Sir, are apt to be silent when they have nothing to say, and too apt to be sullen when they are silent; and, when they are sullen, to hang themselves. But, by these we hears, we are supplied with abundant funds for discourse. We discuss the motives for such voyages, the probability of their being undertaken, and the practicability of their execution. Here we display our judgment in politics, our knowledge of the interests of princes, and our skill in geography, and (if we have it) show our dexterity in argumentation. In the meantime, the tedious hour is killed, we go home pleased with the applause we have received from others, or at least with those we give to ourselves; we sleep soundly, and live on, to the comfort of our families. But, Sir, I beg leave to say, that all the articles of news that seem improbable are not mere inventions. Some of them, I can assure you on the faith of a traveller, are serious truths. And here, quitting Mr. Spectator of Pimlico, give me leave to instance the various accounts the news-writers have given us, with so much honest zeal for the welfare of Poor Old England, of the establishing manufactures in the colonies to the prejudice of those of the kingdom. It is objected by superficial readers, who yet pretend to some knowledge of those countries, that such establishments are not only improbable, but impossible, for that their sheep have but little wool, not in the whole sufficient for a pair of stockings a year to each inhabitant; that, from the universal dearness of labor among them, the working of iron and other materials, except in a few coarse instances, is impracticable to any advantage.
Dear Sir, do not let us suffer ourselves to be amused with such groundless objections. The very tails of the American sheep are so laden with wool, that each has a little car or wagon on four little wheels to support and keep it from trailing on the ground. Would they caulk their ships; would they even litter their horses with wool, if it were not both plenty and cheap? And what signifies the dearness of labor, when an English shilling passes for five and twenty? Their engaging three hundred silk throwsters here in one week for New York was treated as a fable, because, forsooth, they have “no silk there to throw.” Those who make this objection perhaps do not know that at the same time the agents from the King of Spain were at Quebec to contract for one thousand pieces of cannon, to be made there for the fortification of Mexico, and at New York engaging the usual supply of woollen floor-carpets for their West India houses; other agents from the emperor of China were at Boston treating about an exchange of raw silk for wool, to be carried in Chinese junks through the Straits of Magellan.
And yet all this is as certainly true as the account, said to be from Quebec, in all the papers of last week, that the inhabitants of Canada are making preparations for a cod and whale fishery this “summer in the upper Lakes.” Ignorant people may object that the upper Lakes are fresh, and that cod and whales are salt water fish, but let them know, Sir, that cod, like other fish, when attacked by their enemies, fly into any water where they can be safest; that whales, when they have a mind to eat cod, pursue them wherever they fly, and that the grand leap of the whale in the chase up the Falls of Niagara is esteemed by all who have seen it as one of the finest spectacles in nature. Really, Sir, the world is grown too incredulous. It is like the pendulum ever swinging from one extreme to another. Formerly every thing printed was believed because it was in print. Now things seem to be disbelieved for just the very same reason. Wise men wonder at the present growth of infidelity. They should have considered when they taught people to doubt the authority of newspapers and the truth of predictions in the almanacs, that the next step might be a disbelief of the well-vouched accounts of ghosts and witches, and doubts even of the truths of the Creed.
Thus much I thought it necessary to say in favor of an honest set of writers whose comfortable living depends on collecting and supplying the printers with news at the small price of sixpence an article, and who always show their regard to truth by contradicting in a subsequent article such as are wrong for another sixpence, to the great satisfaction and improvement of us coffee-house students in history and politics, and all future Livys, Rapins, Robertsons, Humes, and Macaulays, who may be sincerely inclined to furnish the world with that rara avis, a true history. I am, Sir, your humble servant,
TO LORD KAMES, AT EDINBURGH
London, 2 June, 1765.
In my passage to America I read your excellent work, the Elements of Criticism, in which I found great entertainment. I only wished you had examined more fully the subject of music, and demonstrated that the pleasure artists feel in hearing much of that composed in the modern taste, is not the natural pleasure arising from melody or harmony of sounds, but of the same kind with the pleasure we feel on seeing the surprising feats of tumblers and rope-dancers, who execute difficult things. For my part I take this to be really the case, and suppose it to be the reason why those who are unpractised in music, and therefore unacquainted with those difficulties, have little or no pleasure in hearing this music. Many pieces of it are mere compositions of tricks. I have sometimes, at a concert, attended by a common audience, placed myself so as to see all their faces, and observed no signs of pleasure in them during the performance of a great part that was admired by the performers themselves; while a plain old Scotch tune, which they disdained, and could scarcely be prevailed on to play, gave manifest and general delight.
Give me leave, on this occasion, to extend a little the sense of your position, that “melody and harmony are separately agreeable, and in union delightful,” and to give it as my opinion, that the reason why the Scotch tunes have lived so long, and will probably live forever (if they escape being stifled in modern affected ornament), is merely this, that they are really compositions of melody and harmony united, or rather that their melody is harmony. I mean the simple tunes sung by a single voice. As this will appear paradoxical, I must explain my meaning. In common acceptation, indeed, only an agreeable succession of sounds is called melody, and only the coexistence of agreeable sounds, harmony. But, since the memory is capable of retaining for some moments a perfect idea of the pitch of a past sound, so as to compare with it the pitch of a succeeding sound, and judge truly of their agreement or disagreement, there may and does arise from thence a sense of harmony between the present and past sounds, equally pleasing with that between two present sounds.
Now the construction of the old Scotch tunes is this, that almost every succeeding emphatical note is a third, a fifth, an octave, or in short some note that is in concord with the preceding note. Thirds are chiefly used, which are very pleasing concords. I use the word emphatical to distinguish those notes which have a stress laid on them in singing the tune, from the lighter connecting notes, that serve merely, like grammar articles in common speech, to tack the whole together.
That we have a most perfect idea of a sound just past, I might appeal to all acquainted with music, who know how easy it is to repeat a sound in the same pitch with one just heard. In tuning an instrument, a good ear can as easily determine that two strings are in unison by sounding them separately, as by sounding them together; their disagreement is also as easily, I believe I may say more easily and better, distinguished, when sounded separately; for when sounded together, though you know by the beating that one is higher than the other, you cannot tell which it is. I have ascribed to memory the ability of comparing the pitch of a present tone with that of one past. But if there should be, as possibly there may be, something in the ear, similar to what we find in the eye, that ability would not be entirely owing to memory. Possibly the vibrations given to the auditory nerves by a particular sound may actually continue some time after the cause of those vibrations is past, and the agreement or disagreement of a subsequent sound become by comparison with them more discernible. For the impression made on the visual nerves by a luminous object will continue for twenty or thirty seconds. Sitting in a room, look earnestly at the middle of a window a little while when the day is bright, and then shut your eyes; the figure of the window will still remain in the eye, and so distinct that you may count the panes.
A remarkable circumstance attending this experiment is, that the impression of forms is better retained than that of colors; for after the eyes are shut, when you first discern the image of the window, the panes appear dark, and the cross bars of the sashes, with the window frames and walls, appear white or bright; but, if you still add to the darkness in the eyes by covering them with your hand, the reverse instantly takes place, the panes appear luminous and the cross-bars dark. And by removing the hand they are again reversed. This I know not how to account for. Nor for the following: that, after looking long through green spectacles, the white paper of a book will on first taking them off appear to have a blush of red; and, after long looking through red glasses, a greenish cast; this seems to intimate a relation between green and red not yet explained.
Farther, when we consider by whom these ancient tunes were composed, and how they were first performed, we shall see that such harmonical successions of sounds were natural and even necessary in their construction. They were composed by the minstrels of those days to be played on the harp accompanied by the voice. The harp was strung with wire, which gives a sound of long continuance, and had no contrivance like that in the modern harpsichord, by which the sound of the preceding could be stopped, the moment a succeeding note began. To avoid actual discord, it was therefore necessary that the succeeding emphatic note should be a chord with the preceding, as their sounds must exist at the same time. Hence arose that beauty in those tunes that has so long pleased, and will please for ever, though men scarce know why. That they were originally composed for the harp, and of the most simple kind, I mean a harp without any half notes but those in the natural scale, and with no more than two octaves of strings, from C to C, I conjecture from another circumstance, which is, that not one of those tunes, really ancient, has a single artificial half note in it, and that in tunes where it was most convenient for the voice to use the middle notes of the harp, and place the key in F, there the B, which if used should be a B flat, is always omitted, by passing over it with a third. The connoisseurs in modern music will say, I have no taste; but I cannot help adding, that I believe our ancestors, in hearing a good song, distinctly articulated, sung to one of those tunes, and accompanied by the harp, felt more real pleasure than is communicated by the generality of modern operas, exclusive of that arising from the scenery and dancing. Most tunes of late composition, not having this natural harmony united with their melody, have recourse to the artificial harmony of a bass, and other accompanying parts. This support, in my opinion, the old tunes do not need, and are rather confused than aided by it. Whoever has heard James Oswald play them on his violoncello, will be less inclined to dispute this with me. I have more than once seen tears of pleasure in the eyes of his auditors; and yet, I think, even his playing those tunes would please more, if he gave them less modern ornament.
I am, &c.,
TO LORD KAMES
London, 2 June, 1765.
My Dear Lord:—
I received with great pleasure your friendly letter by Mr. Alexander, which I should have answered sooner by some other conveyance, if I had understood that his stay here was like to be so long. I value myself extremely on the continuance of your regard, which I hope hereafter better to deserve, by more punctual returns in the correspondence you honor me with.
You require my history from the time I set sail for America. I left England about the end of August, 1762, in company with ten sail of merchant ships, under a convoy of a man-of-war. We had a pleasant passage to Madeira, where we were kindly received and entertained; our nation being then in high honor with the Portuguese, on account of the protection we were then affording them against the united invasions of France and Spain. It is a fertile island, and the different heights and situations among its mountains afford such temperaments of air, that all the fruits of northern and southern countries are produced there; corn, grapes, apples, peaches, oranges, lemons, plantains, bananas, &c. Here we furnished ourselves with fresh provisions, and refreshments of all kinds; and, after a few days, proceeded on our voyage, running southward until we got into the trade winds, and then with them westward, till we drew near the coast of America. The weather was so favorable that there were few days in which we could not visit from ship to ship, dining with each other, and on board of the man-of-war; which made the time pass agreeably, much more so than when one goes in a single ship; for this was like travelling in a moving village, with all one’s neighbours about one.
On the 1st of November, I arrived safe and well at my own home, after an absence of near six years; found my wife and daughter well; the latter grown quite a woman, with many amiable accomplishments acquired in my absence; and my friends as hearty and affectionate as ever, with whom my house was filled for many days, to congratulate me on my return. I had been chosen yearly during my absence to represent the city of Philadelphia in our provincial Assembly; and, on my appearance in the House, they voted me three thousand pounds sterling for my services in England, and their thanks, delivered by the Speaker. In February following my son arrived with my new daughter; for, with my consent and approbation, he married soon after I left England a very agreeable West India lady, with whom he is very happy. I accompanied him to his government, where he met with the kindest reception from the people of all ranks, and has lived with them ever since in the greatest harmony. A river only parts that province and ours, and his residence is within seventeen miles of me, so that we frequently see each other.
In the spring of 1763, I set out on a tour through all the northern Colonies to inspect and regulate the post-offices in the several provinces. In this journey I spent the summer, travelled about sixteen hundred miles, and did not get home till the beginning of November. The Assembly sitting through the following winter, and warm disputes arising between them and the governor, I became wholly engaged in public affairs; for, besides my duty as an Assemblyman, I had another trust to execute, that of being one of the commissioners appointed by law to dispose of the public money appropriated to the raising and paying an army to act against the Indians, and defend the frontiers. And then, in December, we had two insurrections of the back inhabitants of our province, by whom twenty poor Indians were murdered, that had, from the first settlement of the province, lived among us, under the protection of our government. This gave me a good deal of employment; for as the rioters threatened further mischief, and their actions seemed to be approved by an ever-acting party, I wrote a pamphlet entitled A Narrative, &c. (which I think I sent to you), to strengthen the hands of our weak government, by rendering the proceedings of the rioters unpopular and odious. This had a good effect; and afterwards, when a great body of them with arms marched towards the capital, in defiance of the government, with an avowed resolution to put to death one hundred and forty Indian converts then under its protection, I formed an Association at the governor’s request, for his and their defence, we having no militia. Near one thousand of our citizens accordingly took arms; Governor Penn made my house for some time his head-quarters, and did every thing by my advice; so that for about forty-eight hours, I was a very great man; as I had been once some years before, in a time of public danger.
But the fighting face we put on, and the reasonings we used with the insurgents (for I went at the request of the governor and council, with three others, to meet and discourse with them), having turned them back and restored quiet to the city, I became a less man than ever; for I had, by this transaction, made myself many enemies among the populace; and the governor (with whose family our public disputes had long placed me in an unfriendly light, and the services I had lately rendered him not being of the kind that make a man acceptable) thinking it a favorable opportunity, joined the whole weight of the proprietary interest to get me out of the Assembly; which was accordingly effected at the last election, by a majority of about twenty-five in four thousand voters. The House, however, when they met in October, approved of the resolutions taken, while I was Speaker,1 of petitioning the crown for a change of government, and requested me to return to England, to prosecute that petition; which service, I accordingly undertook, and embarked at the beginning of November last, being accompanied to the ship, sixteen miles, by a cavalcade of three hundred of my friends, who filled our sails with their good wishes, and I arrived in thirty days at London.
Here I have been ever since, engaged in that and other public affairs relating to America, which are likely to continue some time longer upon my hands; but I promise you, that when I am quit of these, I will engage in no other; and that, as soon as I have recovered the ease and leisure I hope for, the task you require of me, of finishing my Art of Virtue, shall be performed. In the meantime, I must request you would excuse me on this consideration, that the powers of the mind are possessed by different men in different degrees, and that every one cannot, like Lord Kames, intermix literary pursuits and important business without prejudice to either.
I send you herewith two or three other pamphlets of my writing on our political affairs, during my short residence in America1 ; but I do not insist on your reading them; for I know you employ all your time to some useful purpose. I am, &c.,
P. S.—I promise myself the pleasure of seeing you and my other friends in Scotland before I return to America.
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 4 June, 1765.
My Dear Child:—
I have now before me your favors; not so many letters as dates, some of them having two or three. As to the cause concerning the lot, I have never been in the least uneasy about it, desiring only, that justice might be done, which I do not doubt. I hope Robinson was not long missing after your letter, as I really have a great esteem for him. I could have wished to be present at the finishing of the kitchen, as it is a mere machine; and, being new to you, I think you will scarce know how to work it; the several contrivances to carry off steam, smell, and smoke not being fully explained to you. The oven I suppose was put up by the written directions in my former letter. You mention nothing of the furnace. If that iron one is not set, let it alone till my return, when I shall bring a more convenient copper one.
You wonder how I did to travel seventy-two miles in a short winter day, on my landing in England, and think I must have practised flying. But the roads here are so good, with post-chaises and fresh horses every ten or twelve miles, that it is no difficult matter. A lady, that I know, has come from Edinburgh to London, being four hundred miles, in three days and a half. You mention the payment of the £500 but do not say that you have got the deeds executed. I suppose, however, that it was done. I received the two post-office letters you sent me. It was not letters of that sort alone that I wanted, but all such as were sent to me from any one whomsoever.
I cannot but complain in my mind of Mr. Smith, that the house is so long unfit for you to get into, the fences not put up, nor the other necessary articles ready. The well I expected would have been dug in the winter, or early in the spring, but I hear nothing of it. You should have gardened long before the date of your last, but it seems the rubbish was not removed. I am much obliged to my good old friends, that did me the honor to remember me in the unfinished kitchen. I hope soon to drink with them in the parlour.
I am very thankful to the good ladies you mention for their friendly wishes. Present my best respects to Mrs. Grace, and dear, precious Mrs. Shewell, Mrs. Masters, Mrs. and Miss Galloway, Mrs. Redman, Mrs. Graeme, Mrs. Thomson, Mrs. Story, Mrs. Bartram, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Hilborne, and all the others you have named to me. My love also to our brothers and sisters, and cousins, as if particularly mentioned. I have delivered yours to Mrs. and Miss Stevenson, Mr. and Mrs. Strahan and their family, Mrs. Empson, Mrs. West, and our country cousins. Miss Graham has not come to town, as I have heard.
It rejoices me to learn, that you are more free than you used to be from the headache, and that pain in your side. I am likewise in perfect health. God is very good to us both in many respects. Let us enjoy his favors with a thankful and cheerful heart; and, as we can make no direct return to him, show our sense of his goodness to us by continuing to do good to our fellow creatures, without regarding the returns they make us, whether good or bad. For they are all his children, though they may sometimes be our enemies. The friendships of this world are changeable, uncertain, transitory things; but his favor, if we can secure it, is an inheritance for ever. I am, my dear Debby, your ever loving husband,
TO PETER FRANKLIN, AT NEWPORT
I like your ballad, and think it well adapted for your purpose of discountenancing expensive foppery, and encouraging industry and frugality. If you can get it generally sung in your country, it may probably have a good deal of the effect you hope and expect from it. But as you aimed at making it general, I wonder you chose so uncommon a measure in poetry, that none of the tunes in common use will suit it. Had you fitted it to an old one, well known, it must have spread much faster than I doubt it will do from the best new tune we can get composed for it. I think, too, that if you had given it to some country girl in the heart of the Massachusetts, who has never heard any other than psalm tunes, or Chevy Chace, the Children in the Wood, the Spanish Lady, and such old simple ditties, but has naturally a good ear, she might more probably have made a pleasing popular tune for you than any of our masters here, and more proper for your purpose, which would best be answered, if every word could as it is sung be understood by all that hear it, and if the emphasis you intend for particular words could be given by the singer as well as by the reader; much of the force and impression of the song depending on those circumstances. I will, however, get it as well done for you as I can.
Do not imagine that I mean to depreciate the skill of our composers of music here; they are admirable at pleasing practised ears, and know how to delight one another; but, in composing for songs, the reigning taste seems to be quite out of nature, or rather the reverse of nature, and yet, like a torrent, hurries them all away with it; one or two perhaps only excepted.
You, in the spirit of some ancient legislators, would influence the manners of your country by the united powers of poetry and music. By what I can learn of their songs, the music was simple, conformed itself to the usual pronunciation of words, as to measure, cadence, or emphasis, &c., never disguised and confounded the language by making a long syllable short, or a short one long, when sung; their singing was only a more pleasing, because a melodious manner of speaking; it was capable of all the graces of prose oratory, while it added the pleasure of harmony. A modern song, on the contrary, neglects all the proprieties and beauties of common speech, and in their place introduces its defects and absurdities as so many graces. I am afraid you will hardly take my word for this, and therefore I must endeavour to support it by proof. Here is the first song I lay my hand on. It happens to be a composition of one of our greatest masters, the ever-famous Handel. It is not one of his juvenile performances, before his taste could be improved and formed; it appeared when his reputation was at the highest, is greatly admired by all his admirers, and is really excellent in its kind. It is called, “The additional favorite Song in Judas Maccabeus.” Now I reckon among the defects and improprieties of common speech the following, viz.:
1.Wrong placing the accent or emphasis, by laying it on words of no importance, or on wrong syllables.
2.Drawling; or extending the sound of words or syllables beyond their natural length.
3.Stuttering; or making many syllables of one.
4.Unintelligibleness; the result of the three foregoing united.
6.Screaming without cause.
For the wrong placing of the accent, or emphasis, see it on the word their instead of being on the word vain.
And on the word from, and the wrong syllable like.
For the drawling, see the last syllable of the word wounded.
And in the syllable wis, and the word from, and syllable bove.
For the stuttering, see the words ne’er relieve, in Here are four syllables made of one, and eight of three; but this is moderate. I have seen in another song, that I cannot now find, seventeen syllables made of three, and sixteen of one. The latter I remember was the word charms; viz., cha, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, arms. Stammering with a witness!
For the unintelligibleness, give this whole song to any taught singer, and let her sing it to any company that have never heard it. You shall find they will not understand three words in ten. It is therefore that, at the oratorios and operas, one sees with books in their hands all those who desire to understand what they hear sung by even our best performers.
For the tautology, you have, with their vain mysterious art, twice repeated; magic charms can ne’er relieve you, three times. Nor can heal the wounded heart, three times. Godlike wisdom from above, twice; and this alone can ne’er deceive you, two or three times. But this is reasonable when compared with the Monster Polypheme, the Monster Polypheme, a hundred times over and over in his admired Acis and Galatea.
As to the screaming, perhaps I cannot find a fair instance in this song; but whoever has frequented our operas will remember many. And yet here methinks the words no and e’er, when sung to these notes, have a little of the air of screaming, and would actually be screamed by some singers.
I send you enclosed the song with its music at length. Read the words without the repetitions. Observe how few they are, and what a shower of notes attend them; you will then perhaps be inclined to think with me that, though the words might be the principal part of an ancient song, they are of small importance in a modern one. They are, in short, only a pretence for singing.
I am, as ever,
Your affectionate brother,
P. S.—I might have mentioned inarticulation among the defects in common speech that are assumed as beauties in modern singing. But as that seems more the fault of the singer than of the composer, I omitted it in what related merely to the composition. The fine singer, in the present mode, stifles all the hard consonants, and polishes away all the rougher parts of words that serve to distinguish them one from another; so that you hear nothing but an admirable pipe, and understand no more of the song than you would from its tune played on any other instrument. If ever it was the ambition of musicians to make instruments that should imitate the human voice, that ambition seems now reversed, the voice aiming to be like an instrument. Thus wigs were first made to imitate a good natural head of hair; but when they became fashionable, though in unnatural forms, we have seen natural hair dressed to look like wigs.
TO HUGH ROBERTS
London, 7 July, 1765.
Your kind favor of May 20th, by the hand of our good friend Mr. Neave, gave me great pleasure. I find, on those occasions, that expressions of steady, continued friendship, such as are contained in your letter, though but from one or a few honest and sensible men, who have long known us, afford a satisfaction that far outweighs the clamorous abuse of a thousand knaves and fools. While I enjoy the share I have so long had in the esteem of my old friends, the bird-and-beast people you mention may peck, and snarl, and bark at me as much as they think proper. There is only some danger, that I should grow too vain on their disapprobation.
I am pleased with your punning, not merely because I like punning in general, but because I learn from your using it, that you are in good health and spirits, which I pray may long continue. Our affairs are at a total stop here, by the present unsettled state of the ministry, but will go forward again as soon as that is fixed. Nothing yet appears that is discouraging.
I have not yet found an engraver that will do our seal well and reasonably. Kirk asked me twenty guineas, and some others a little less. I think we had better content ourselves with the old one; but shall inquire further.1 Remember me respectfully and affectionately to your good dame and children, and accept my thanks for your kind visits to my little family in my absence.
I wish you would continue to meet the Junto, notwithstanding that some effects of our public political misunderstandings may sometimes appear there. It is now perhaps one of the oldest clubs, as I think it was formerly one of the best, in the King’s dominions. It wants but about two years of forty since it was established. We loved and still love one another; we are grown gray together, and yet it is too early to part. Let us sit till the evening of life is spent. The last hours are always the most joyous. When we can stay no longer, it is time enough then to bid each other good night, separate, and go quietly to bed. Adieu, my dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO CHARLES THOMSON
London, 11 July, 1765.
I am extremely obliged by your kind letters of April 12th and 14th, and thank you for the intelligence they contain. The outrages continually committed by those misguided people will doubtless tend to convince all the considerate on your side of the water of the weakness of our present government, and the necessity of a change. I am sure it will contribute towards hastening that change here, so that, upon the whole, good will be brought out of evil; and yet I grieve to hear of such horrid disorders. The letters and accounts boasted of from the Proprietor, of his being sure of his retaining the government, as well as those of the sums offered for it, which the people will be obliged to pay, &c., are all idle tales, fit only for knaves to propagate, and fools to believe. A little time will dissipate all the smoke they can raise to conceal the real state of things.
The unsettled state of the ministry, ever since the Parliament rose, has stopped all proceeding in public affairs, and ours amongst the rest; but, change being now made, we shall immediately proceed, and with a greater cheerfulness, as some we had reason to doubt of are removed, and some particular friends are put in place. What you mentioned of the Lower Counties is undoubtedly right. Had they ever sent their laws home,1 as they ought to have done, that iniquitous one of priority of payment to residents would undoubtedly have been repealed. But the end of all these things is nigh; at least it seems to be so.
The spiking of the guns was an audacious piece of villany, by whomsoever done. It shows the necessity of a regular enclosed place of defence, with a constant guard to take care of what belongs to it, which, when the country can afford it, will, I hope, be provided.
Depend upon it, my good neighbour, I took every step in my power to prevent the passing of the Stamp Act. Nobody could be more concerned and interested than myself, to oppose it sincerely and heartily. But the tide was too strong against us. The nation was provoked by American claims of independence,1 and all parties joined in resolving by this act to settle the point. We might as well have hindered the sun’s setting. That we could not do. But since it is down, my friend, and it may be long before it rises again, let us make as good a night of it as we can. We may still light candles. Frugality and industry will go a great way towards indemnifying us. Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily bear the latter.2
My best respects to Mrs. Thomson. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours affectionately,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 13 July, 1765.
My Dear Child:—
I had the great pleasure of hearing from you and Sally last night by the packet. I cannot now answer every particular of your letters, having many to write that are to go by this day’s mail, but will by the next opportunity. Mrs. Stevenson bids me tell Sally, that the striped gown I sent her will wash, but it must be with a light hand. I am glad to hear of Captain Robinson’s arrival, and it gives me pleasure that so many of my friends honoured our new dining-room with their company. You tell me of a fault they found with the house, that it was too little, and not a word of any thing they liked in it, nor how the kitchen chimneys perform; so I suppose you spare me some mortification, which is kind. I wonder you put up the oven without Mr. Roberts’s advice, as I think you told me he had my old letter of directions; but I can add no more, only that I am very well and in good spirits. I wrote you largely by Captain Friend, and sent a case with a number of particulars. My love to all. Your affectionate husband,
[1 ]Dr. Franklin was appointed to this second mission to England by the Assembly of Pennsylvania, October 26, 1764. As the Assembly had not then in the treasury any money that could be appropriated for this purpose, they passed a resolve that the expense attending his voyage and the execution of the trust reposed in him should be provided for in the next bill prepared by the House for raising money to defray the public debts. On the strength of this pledge, the money was loaned by the merchants, although a party had made a considerable opposition to the appointment of an agent who was known to be hostile to the Proprietaries, and had been active in promoting petitions for a change of the Pennsylvania government.
[1 ]The fury of partisanship was at its height in Pennsylvania at this time. And no one felt the effects of it more than Franklin. For an intelligent apprehension of the questions which divided the people see the Doctor’s tract entitled Cool Thoughts; and also his Preface to Galloway’s Speech, and Remarks on a Late Protest. John Dickinson, in the Assembly, denounced his selection as agent of the province as the most obnoxious to his country that could have been made. “The gentleman proposed,” he said, “has been called ‘a great luminary of the learned world.’ I acknowledge his abilities. Far be it from me to detract from the merit I admire. Let him still shine; but without wrapping his country in flames.”
Even the aid of the muses was invoked by the opposition. The following lines, which owe their existence to the dissensions between the popular and the proprietary portion, are believed to have been written by Hannah Griffiths, of Philadelphia:
“Inscription on a curious Stove in the form of an Urn, contrived in such a Manner as to make the Flame descend instead of rising from the Fire. Invented by Dr. Franklin.
The following note is appended to this poem in the Franklin collection:
“Dr. Benjamin Franklin invented the Empyreal Stove for inverting or turning the smoke downwards. When they were first offered to the public, it is said, a gentleman wrote the above lines, and attached them to one of these inverted stoves.”
[1 ]William Franklin, Governor of New Jersey, and his wife.
[1 ]Franklin reached London in the evening of the 10th of December, and went immediately to his old lodgings in Craven Street.
[1 ]Franklin’s first mission to England was successful in its purpose to have the proprietary estates in Pennsylvania pay their due share of the taxes for the defence of the country, but not in producing harmony between the proprietary and the popular party. The governor, acting in the interest of the proprietaries, resisted the wishes of the Assembly, and there was great discontent. The best remedy for this state of things, in Franklin’s judgment, was to have the king take the government of the colony into his own hands, indemnifying the proprietaries. This paper was written to enforce that view.—Editor.
[1 ]See their message to the Assembly, in which the right of sitting on their own adjournments is denied.
[1 ]New and Accurate Account of Carolina, p. 14; printed at London, 1733.
[1 ]An Account of the British Settlements in America, p. 233, concerning Carolina.
[2 ]Historical Register, No. 63, for 1731.
[1 ]Grants and Concessions, and Original Constitutions of New Jersey, printed at Philadelphia by W. Bradford, p. 606.
[1 ]Grants and Concessions, &c., p. 633.
[1 ]In 1722, the arrears then in their hands were computed at £18,000 sterling.
[1 ]See Secretary of State’s Letters in the printed Votes.
[1 ]That is, the English and German languages, both of which were used in Pennsylvania.—Editor.
[2 ]While the petition to the king for a royal government in Pennsylvania was under discussion in the Assembly, Mr. John Dickinson made a speech against it, which was printed in a pamphlet, with a long preface by another hand. Mr. Galloway published a reply, entitled, The Speech of Joseph Galloway, One of the Members for Philadelphia County, in answer to the Speech of John Dickinson, delivered in the House of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, May 24th, 1764.” To this reply was prefixed this Preface, written by Dr. Franklin.—Editor.
[1 ]That is, to the assembly.—B. V.
[1 ]The act is entitled, “An Act for granting to his Majesty the sum of one hundred thousand pounds; striking the same in bills of credit, and sinking the bills by a tax on all estates real and personal.”
[1 ]The agents in England, whither the laws were sent to receive the king’s assent. Franklin was one of the agents in that country at the time the laws in question were sent out for approval.—Editor.
[1 ]This would have been done, and the money all sunk in the hands of the people, if the agents, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Charles, had not interposed, and voluntarily, without authority from the Assembly so to do, but at their own risk, undertaken that those amendments should be made, or that they themselves would indemnify the proprietaries from any damages they might sustain for want thereof. An action which, as the Prefacer says in another case, “posterity perhaps may find a name for.”
[2 ]It is not easy to guess from what source our proprietaries have drawn their principles. Those who study law and justice, as a science, have established it a maxim in equity, “Qui sentit commodum, sentire debet et onus.” And so consistent is this with the common sense of mankind, that even our lowest untaught cobblers and porters feel the force of it in their own maxim (which they are honest enough never to dispute), “Touch pot, touch penny.”
[1 ]For a fuller account of this dispute the reader is referred to the newspapers, and votes of assembly.
[1 ]These words, “by completing the agreement,” &c., are omitted by the honest Prefacer, in his account of the resolve, that they might not interfere with his insinuation of the measure’s being impracticable; “Have the proprietors, by any act of theirs, forfeited the least title of what was granted them by his Majesty’s royal ancestors? Or can they be deprived of their charter rights without their consent,” &c., sensible that these questions are impertinent, if those rights are already sold?
[1 ]The Prefacer, with great art, endeavours to represent this number as insignificant. He says the petitioners were but three thousand five hundred, and that the province contains near three hundred thousand souls. His reader is to imagine that two hundred and ninety-six thousand five hundred of them were applied to, and refused to sign it. The truth is, that his number of souls is vastly exaggerated. The dwelling-houses in the province, in 1752, did not exceed twenty thousand. Political arithmeticians reckon generally but five souls to a house, one house with another; and, therefore, allowing for houses since built, there are not probably more than a hundred and ten thousand souls in the province; that of these, scarce twenty-two thousand could with any propriety be petitioners. And, considering the scattered settlement of the province, the general inattention of mankind, especially in new countries, to public affairs, and the indefatigable pains taken by proprietaries’ new allies, the Presbyterian clergy of Philadelphia (who wrote circular letters to every congregation in the county, to deter them from petitioning, by dutiful intimations, that if we were reduced to a royal government, it would be the “ruin of the province”), it is a wonder the number (near a sixth part) was so great as it was. But if there had been no such petitions, it would not have been material to the point. The assembly went upon another foundation. They had adjourned to consult their constituents; they returned satisfied that the measure was agreeable to them, and nothing appeared to the contrary.
[1 ]In the preface to Dickinson’s speech, the following character of William Penn was inserted, every phrase in which was taken, as the writer said, from the minutes of the assembly.—Editor.
A man of principles truly humane,
An advocate for
Religion and Liberty,
Possessing a noble spirit,
That exerted itself
For the good of mankind,
The great and worthy founder
To its inhabitants, by Charter,
He granted and confirmed
Many singular Privileges and Immunities,
Civil and religious;
Which he continually studied
To preserve and defend for them,
That they had not followed him so far
To lose a single title
Of the Great Charter
To which all Englishmen were born!
For these services,
Great have been the acknowledgments,
Deservedly paid to his merit;
And his memory
Is dear to his people,
Who have repeatedly confessed,
Next to Divine Providence,
Their happiness, prosperity, and increase
To his wise conduct and singular goodness,
Which deserve ever to be remembered,
Gratitude and Affection.
[1 ]That is, Thomas and Richard Penn, Proprietors of Pennsylvania.—Editor.
[1 ]Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, 1754, passim; 1755, 1756, 1757, passim; 1758, 1759, 1760, 1761, 1762, 1763, 1764, passim.
[1 ]The petition of the assembly to the King for a royal government.—Editor.
[1 ]The Assembly, being called upon by the Governor for their advice on that occasion, did, in a message, advise his sending for and examining the magistrates of Lancaster county and borough, where the murders were committed, in order to discover the actors; but neither that, nor any of the other measures recommended, were ever taken. Proclamations indeed were published, but soon discontinued.
[1 ]Extract of a letter, dated London, August 6, 1764, from David Barclay & Sons to Messieurs James and Drinker.
“We very much wish for William Allen’s happy arrival on your side; when we hope his influence, added to the power and commissions the proprietaries have invested him with, may prove effectual in restoring harmony and tranquillity among you, so much to be desired by every wellwisher to your province. Pray be assured of our sincerest and best wishes for the success of this salutary work, and that nothing in our power to contribute thereto will ever be wanting.”
[1 ]Report of the Committee on Benjamin Franklin’s Accounts.
“February 19, 1763. In obedience to the order of the House, we have examined the account of Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, with the vouchers to us produced in support thereof, and do find the same account to be just; and that he has expended, in the immediate service of this province, the sum of seven hundred and fourteen pounds, ten shillings, and seven pence, out of the sum of fifteen hundred pounds sterling, to him remitted and paid, exclusive of any allowance or charge for his support and services for the province.
Resolved, That the sum of five hundred pounds sterling, per annum, be allowed and given to Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, late agent for the province of Pennsylvania at the court of Great Britain, during his absence of six years from his business and connexions, in the service of the public; and that the thanks of this House be also given to the said gentleman by Mr. Speaker, from the chair, as well for the faithful discharge of his duty to this province in particular, as for the many and important services done America in general, during his residence in Great Britain.”
“Thursday, March 31, 1763. Pursuant to a resolve of the 19th of last month, that the thanks of this House be given to Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, for his many services, not only to the province of Pennsylvania, but to America in general, during his late agency at the court of Great Britain, the same were this day accordingly given in form from the chair. To which Mr. Franklin, respectfully addressing himself to the Speaker, made answer. ‘That he was thankful to the House for the very handsome and generous allowance they had been pleased to make him for his services; but that the approbation of this house was, in his estimation, far above every other kind of recompense.’ ”—Votes, 1763.
[1 ]Mr. Tytler, in his Life of Lord Kames (vol. ii., p. 31, 2d ed.) makes the following remarks on the above letter: “This notion of Dr. Franklin’s, respecting what he called the Ideal Harmony of the Scottish melodies, is extremely acute, and is marked by that ingenious simplicity in the thought which is characteristic of a truly philosophic mind. In supplement to his observation, that the past sound, being retained by the memory, forms a concord with the present sound, it may perhaps be added, that, the tympanum of the ear continuing to vibrate for some little time after it is struck by any musical note, the succeeding note will be either agreeable or disagreeable, as it accords, or is in discordance, with the existing vibration. Now a succession of notes by thirds and fifths will always find the tympanum in concord, and the last vibration harmonizing with the succeeding. This notion accounts completely for the effect of the Scottish melodies, in giving pleasure alike to an intelligent judge of music, and to a person of uncultivated taste, provided he have a good musical ear; for the pleasure arising from a succession of sounds, in the regular interval of thirds and fifths, and likewise that arising from their concord, is founded in nature, and in the mechanical structure of the organs of hearing, and is altogether independent of custom or acquired taste. A Scottish air will therefore be grateful alike to the ear of a Greenlander, a Japanese, and a native of Italy; if possessed of the musical sense, they will all equally understand and relish it, for it speaks an universal language.”—Sparks.
[1 ]Mr. Isaac Norris, who had long acted as Speaker of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, resigned that office on account of ill health, May 26, 1764, and Dr. Franklin was appointed as his successor. He continued Speaker till the Assembly was dissolved in September following.
[1 ]These were A Narrative of the Late Massacres; Cool Thoughts; and the Preface to Galloway’s Speech. See supra.
[1 ]On the 20th of August he wrote: “I informed you lately, that twenty guineas were demanded by Kirk for engraving the Hospital seal. I have since found a man that will do it for ten, but I suppose will hardly do it so well. Let me know your sentiments of this expense.”
[1 ]By home here is meant England, a common use of the word before the Revolution.
[1 ]Claims to an independence of Parliament, in regard to the power of taxing the colonists without their consent.
[2 ]In the Sparks’ editions of Franklin’s works this sentence reads: “If we can get rid of the former, we may easily get rid of the latter.” Referring to this sentence, Mr. Bancroft, at p. 306 of the fifth volume of the first edition of his History of the United States, says:
“For the opportunity of printing the above paragraph correctly in Franklin’s own words, I am indebted to Mrs. Chamberlain, of Newark, Delaware, who has the original in her possession. The copy was made for me with the utmost exactness, by Mr. A. H. Grimshaw of Wilmington, and carefully compared with the original by Mr. Grimshaw and one of his friends. There is another version in circulation which makes Franklin say: ‘Idleness and pride tax us with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we can get rid of the latter.’
“This is not what Franklin wrote. To ‘bear’ with kings and parliaments and to ‘get rid of’ kings and parliaments are very different things. Franklin was long-suffering and waited some years yet before he advised to get rid of kings. He himself printed a part of this letter, but with amplifications, in the London Chronicle of Nov. 14 to 16, 1765, from which it was copied into Weyman’s New York Gazette of February 3, and other papers. In all of them, as well as the letter itself, the words are, ‘bear the latter’ and ‘get rid’ of the former.”