- The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume IV: Correspondence and Miscellaneous Writings
- 1763: CCXXXVI: To William Greene, Warwic, Rhode Island
- CCXXXVII: To Mrs. Catherine Greene
- CCXXXVIII: To Mrs. Catherine Greene
- CCXXXIX: To William Strahan
- 1764: Ccxl: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Ccxli: to William Strahan
- Ccxlii: to Mrs. Catherine Greene
- Ccxliii.: to William Strahan
- Ccxliv: to Jonathan Williams
- Ccxlv: to George Whitefield
- Ccxlvi: to William Strahan
- 1765: Ccxlvii: to William Strahan
- Ccxlviii: to Jonathan Williams
- Ccxlix: to Sarah Franklin
- Ccl: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Ccli: a Narrative
- Cclii: Cool Thoughts On the Present Situation of Our Public Affairs 1
- Ccliii: Petition to the King For Changing the Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania Into a Royal Government
- Ccliv: Remarks On a Particular Militia Bill Rejected By the Proprietor’s Deputy, Or Governor
- Cclv: Preface
- Cclvi: Remarks On a Late Protest Against the Appointment of Mr. Franklin As Agent For the Province of Pennsylvania
- Cclvii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cclviii: From Joseph Galloway to B. Franklin
- Cclix: From Mrs. Franklin to Her Husband
- Cclx: to the Editor of a Newspaper
- Cclxi: to Lord Kames, At Edinburgh
- Cclxii: to Lord Kames
- Cclxiii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cclxiv: to Peter Franklin, At Newport
- Cclxv: to Hugh Roberts
- Cclxvi: to Charles Thomson
- Cclxvii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- 1766: Cclxviii: Letter Concerning the Gratitude of America and the Probability and Effects of a Union With Great Britain; and Concerning the Repeal Or Suspension of the Stamp Act
- Cclxix: the Examination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin In the British House of Commons Relative to the Repeal of the American Stamp Act, In 1766 1
- Cclxx: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cclxxi: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cclxxii: to Hugh Roberts
- Cclxxiii: to Charles Thomson
- Cclxxiv: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cclxxv: to Thomas Ronayne, At Cork 1
- Cclxxvi: to Jonathan Williams
- Cclxxvii: to Cadwallader Evans
- Cclxxviii: Mode of Ascertaining Whether the Power, Giving a Shock to Those Who Touch Either the Surinam Eel Or the Torpedo, Be Electrical.
- Cclxxix: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cclxxx: From William Franklin
- Cclxxxi: to Mrs. Mary Franklin
- Cclxxxii: to Charles Thomson
- Cclxxxiii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cclxxxiv: Remarks On a Plan For the Future Management of Indian Affairs 1
- Cclxxxv: Hints For a Reply to the Protests of Certain Members of the House of Lords Against the Repeal of the Stamp Act.
- Cclxxxvi: Observations On Passages In “a Letter From a Merchant In London to His Nephew In North America”
- Cclxxxvii: Observations On Passages In a Pamphlet Entitled “good Humor, Or Away With the Colonies” 1
- Cclxxxviii: From William Franklin
- 1767: Cclxxxix: to Lord Kames
- CCXC: To Cadwallader Evans
- CCXCI: To Joseph Galloway 1
- CCXCII: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCXCIII: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCXCIV: Protective Duties On Imports and How They Work
- CCXCV: To Samuel Franklin, Boston 1
- CCXCVI: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCXCVII: To George Crogan
- CCXCVIII: To Joseph Galloway
- CCXCIX: To William Franklin, Governor of New Jersey
- CCC: To Miss Stevenson
- CCCI: Of Lightning and the Methods (now Used In America) of Securing Buildings and Persons From Its Mischievous Effects.
- CCCII: On Smuggling and Its Various Species 1
- CCCIII: To William Franklin
- CCCIV: To Joseph Galloway
- CCCV: To John Ross
- CCCVI: To William Franklin
- CCCVII: From Thomas Pownall to B. Franklin
- CCCVIII: On the Price of Corn, and Management of the Poor
- CCCIX: The Right of Impressing Seamen Remarks On Judge Foster’s Argument In Favor of the Right. 1
- CCCX: Vindication of the Provincial Paper-money System. 1
- 1768: CCCXI: To William Franklin
- CCCXII: To Joseph Galloway
- CCCXIII: Causes of the American Discontents Before 1768. 1
- CCCXIV: To M. Dalibard
- CCCXV: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCCXVI: To Joseph Galloway
- CCCXVII: To Cadwallader Evans 1
- CCCXVIII: To Thomas Wharton
- CCCXIX: To Lord Kames
- CCCXX: From Joseph Galloway to B. Franklin
- CCCXXI: To William Franklin
- CCCXXII: To the Committee of Correspondence In Pennsylvania
- CCCXXIII: Walpole’s Grant
- CCCXXIV: To Joseph Galloway
- CCCXXV: To the Committee of Correspondence In Pennsylvania
- CCCXXVI: To William Franklin
- CCCXXVII: On the Laboring Poor
- CCCXXVIII: Some Good Whig Principles. 1
- CCCXXIX: Preface to the “letters From a Farmer In Pennsylvania.” 1
- CCCXXX: To Sir John Pringle
- CCCXXXI: To John Ross
- CCCXXXII: To Joseph Galloway
- CCCXXXIII: To Oliver Neave
TO LORD KAMES
London, 11 April, 1767.
My Dear Lord:—
I received your obliging favor of January the 19th. You have kindly relieved me from the pain I had long been under. You are goodness itself. I ought to have answered yours of December 25th, 1765. I never received a letter that contained sentiments more suitable to my own. It found me under much agitation of mind on the very important subject it treated. It fortified me greatly in the judgment I was inclined to form, though contrary to the general vogue, on the then delicate and critical situation of affairs between Great Britain and the colonies, and on that weighty point, their union. You guessed aright in supposing that I would not be a mute in that play. I was extremely busy, attending members of both Houses, informing, explaining, consulting, disputing, in a continual hurry from morning till night, till the affair was happily ended. During the course of its being called before the House of Commons, I spoke my mind pretty freely. Enclosed I send you the imperfect account that was taken of that examination. You will there see how entirely we agree, except in a point of fact, of which you could not but be misinformed; the papers at that time being full of mistaken assertions, that the colonies had been the cause of the war, and had ungratefully refused to bear any part of the expenses of it.
I send it you now, because I apprehend some late accidents are likely to revive the contest between the two countries. I fear it will be a mischievous one. It becomes a matter of great importance, that clear idea, should be formed on solid principles, both in Britain and America, of the true political relation between them, and the mutual duties belonging to that relation. Till this is done, they will be often jarring. I know none whose knowledge, sagacity, and impartiality qualify him so thoroughly for such a service as yours do you. I wish, therefore, you would consider it. You may thereby be the happy instrument of great good to the nation, and of preventing much mischief and bloodshed. I am fully persuaded with you, that a consolidating union, by a fair and equal representation of all the parts of this empire in Parliament, is the only firm basis on which its political grandeur and prosperity can be founded. Ireland once wished it, but now rejects it. The time has been, when the colonies might have been pleased with it; they are now indifferent about it; and, if it is much longer delayed, they too will refuse it. But the pride of this people cannot bear the thought of it, and therefore it will be delayed. Every man in England seems to consider himself as a piece of a sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the throne with the King, and talks of our subjects in the colonies. The Parliament cannot well and wisely make laws suited to the colonies, without being properly and truly informed of their circumstances, abilities, temper, &c. This it cannot be without representatives from thence; and yet it is fond of this power, and averse to the only means of acquiring the necessary knowledge for exercising it; which is desiring to be omnipotent, without being omniscient.
I have mentioned that the contest is likely to be revived. It is on this occasion. In the same session with the Stamp Act, an act was passed to regulate the quartering of soldiers in America; when the bill was first brought in, it contained a clause, empowering the officers to quarter their soldiers in private houses; this we warmly opposed, and got it omitted. The bill passed, however, with a clause that empty houses, barns, &c., should be hired for them; and that the respective provinces, where they were, should pay the expense and furnish firing, bedding, drink, and some other articles to the soldiers, gratis. There is no way for any province to do this but by the Assembly’s making a law to raise the money. The Pennsylvania Assembly has made such a law; the New York Assembly has refused to do it; and now all the talk here is of sending a force to compel them.
The reasons given by the Assembly to the governor for the refusal are, that they understand the act to mean the furnishing such things to soldiers, only while on their march through the country, and not to great bodies of soldiers, to be fixed, as at present, in the province, the burden in the latter case being greater than the inhabitants can bear; that it would put it in the power of the captain-general to oppress the province at pleasure, &c. But there is supposed to be another reason at bottom, which they intimate, though they do not plainly express it; to wit, that it is of the nature of an internal tax laid on them by Parliament, which has no right so to do. Their refusal is here called rebellion, and punishment is thought of.
Now waiving that point of right, and supposing the legislatures in America subordinate to the legislature of Great Britain, one might conceive, I think, a power in the superior legislature to forbid the inferior legislatures making particular laws; but to enjoin it to make a particular law, contrary to its own judgment, seems improper; an Assembly or Parliament not being an executive officer of government, whose duty it is, in law-making, to obey orders, but a deliberative body, who are to consider what comes before them, its propriety, practicability, or possibility, and to determine accordingly. The very nature of a Parliament seems to be destroyed by supposing it may be bounded and compelled, by a law of a superior Parliament, to make a law contrary to its own judgment.
Indeed, the act of Parliament in question has not, as in other acts when a duty is enjoined, directed a penalty on neglect or refusal, and a mode of recovering that penalty. It seems, therefore, to the people in America, as a mere requisition, which they are at liberty to comply with or not, as it may suit or not suit the different circumstances of the different provinces. Pennsylvania has therefore voluntarily complied. New York, as I said before, has refused. The ministry that made the act, and all their adherents, call for vengeance. The present ministry are perplexed, and the measures they will finally take on the occasion are yet unknown. But sure I am, that, if force is used, great mischief will ensue; the affections of the people of America to this country will be alienated; your commerce will be diminished; and a total separation of interests will be the final consequence.
It is a common but mistaken notion here, that the colonies were planted at the expense of Parliament, and that therefore the Parliament has a right to tax them, &c. The truth is, they were planted at the expense of private adventurers, who went over there to settle, with leave of the King, given by charter. On receiving this leave, and those charters, the adventurers voluntarily engaged to remain the King’s subjects, though in a foreign country; a country which had not been conquered by either King or Parliament, but was possessed by a free people.
When our planters arrived, they purchased the lands of the natives, without putting King or Parliament to any expense. Parliament had no hand in their settlement, was never so much as consulted about their constitution, and took no kind of notice of them till many years after they were established. I except only the two modern colonies, or rather attempts to make colonies (for they succeed but poorly, and as yet hardly deserve the name of colonies), I mean Georgia and Nova Scotia, which have hitherto been little better than Parliamentary jobs. Thus all the colonies acknowledge the King as their sovereign; his governors there represent his person; laws are made by their Assemblies or little parliaments, with the governor’s assent, subject still to the King’s pleasure to affirm or annul them. Suits arising in the colonies, and between colony and colony, are determined by the King in Council. In this view, they seem so many little states, subject to the same prince. The sovereignty of the King is therefore easily understood. But nothing is more common here than to talk of the sovereignty of parliament, and the sovereignty of this nation over the colonies; a kind of sovereignty, the idea of which is not so clear, nor does it clearly appear on what foundation it is established. On the other hand, it seems necessary for the common good of the empire, that a power be lodged somewhere, to regulate its general commerce; this can be placed nowhere so properly as in the Parliament of Great Britain; and therefore, though that power has in some instances been executed with great partiality to Britain and prejudice to the colonies, they have nevertheless always submitted to it. Custom-houses are established in all of them, by virtue of laws made here, and the duties instantly paid, except by a few smugglers, such as, are here and in all countries; but internal taxes laid on them by Parliament are still and ever will be objected to, for the reason that you will see in the mentioned examination.
Upon the whole, I have lived so great a part of my life in Britain, and have formed so many friendships in it, that I love it, and sincerely wish it prosperity; and therefore wish to see that union, on which alone I think it can be secured and established. As to America, the advantages of such a union to her are not so apparent. She may suffer at present under the arbitrary power of this country; she may suffer for a while in a separation from it; but these are temporary evils which she will outgrow. Scotland and Ireland are differently circumstanced. Confined by the sea, they can scarcely increase in numbers, wealth, and strength, so as to overbalance England. But America, an immense territory, favored by nature with all advantages of climate, soils, great navigable rivers, lakes, &c., must become a great country, populous and mighty; and will, in less time than is generally conceived, be able to shake off any shackles that may be imposed upon her, and perhaps place them on the imposers. In the meantime every act of oppression will sour their tempers, lessen greatly, if not annihilate, the profits of your commerce with them, and hasten their final revolt; for the seeds of liberty are universally found there, and nothing can eradicate them. And yet there remains among that people so much respect, veneration, and affection for Britain, that, if cultivated prudently, with a kind usage and tenderness for their privileges, they might be easily governed still for ages, without force or any considerable expense. But I do not see here a sufficient quantity of the wisdom that is necessary to produce such a conduct, and I lament the want of it.
I borrowed at Millar’s the new edition of your Principles of Equity, and have read with great pleasure the preliminary discourse on the principles of morality. I have never before met with any thing so satisfactory on the subject. While reading it, I made a few remarks as I went along. They are not of much importance, but I send you the paper.
I know the lady you mention (Mrs. Montague); having, when in England before, met her once or twice at Lord Bath’s. I remember I then entertained the same opinion of her that you express. On the strength of your recommendation, I purpose soon to wait on her.
This is unexpectedly grown a long letter. The visit to Scotland, and the Art of Virtue, we will talk of hereafter. It is now time to say that I am, with increasing esteem and affection, my dear friend, yours ever,
TO CADWALLADER EVANS
London, 5 May, 1767.
I received your obliging favor of May 16th. I am always glad to hear from you, when you have leisure to write, and I expect no apologies for your not writing. I wish all correspondence was on the foot of writing and answering when one can, or when one is disposed to it, without the compulsions of ceremony. I am pleased with your scheme of a Medical Library at the Hospital; and I fancy I can procure you some donations among my medical friends here, if you will send me a catalogue of what books you already have. Enclosed I send you the only book of the kind in my possession here, having just received it as a present from the author. It is not yet published to be sold, and will not be for some time, till the second part is ready to accompany it.
I thank you for your remarks on the gout. They may be useful to me, who have already had some touches of that distemper. As to Lord Chatham, it is said that his constitution is totally destroyed and gone, partly through the violence of the disease, and partly by his own continual quacking with it. There is at present no access to him. He is said to be not capable of receiving, any more than of giving, advice. But still there is such a deference paid to him, that much business is delayed on his account, that so when entered on it may have the strength of his concurrence, or not be liable to his reprehension, if he should recover his ability and activity. The ministry we at present have has not been looked upon, either by itself or others, as settled, which is another cause of postponing every thing not immediately necessary to be considered. New men, and perhaps new measures, are often expected and apprehended, whence arise continual cabals, factions, and intrigues among the outs and ins, that keep every thing in confusion. And when affairs will mend is very uncertain. With great esteem I am, dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 13 June, 1767.
In my last of May 20th, I mentioned my hopes that we should at length get over all obstructions to the repeal of the act restraining the legal tender of paper money; but those hopes are now greatly lessened.
The ministry had agreed to the repeal, and the notion that had possessed them, that they might make a revenue from paper money in appropriating the interest by Parliament, was pretty well removed by my assuring them that it was my opinion no colony would make money on those terms, and that the benefits arising to the commerce of this country in America from a plentiful currency would therefore be lost, and the repeal answer no end, if the Assemblies were not allowed to appropriate the interest themselves; that the crown might get a great share upon occasional requisitions, I made no doubt, by voluntary appropriations of the Assemblies; but they would never establish such funds as to make themselves unnecessary to government. Those and other reasons, that were urged, seemed to satisfy them, so that we began to think all would go on smoothly, and the merchants prepared their petition, on which the repeal was to be founded. But in the House, when the chancellor of the exchequer had gone through his proposed American revenue, viz.: by duties on glass, china ware, paper, pasteboard, colors, tea, &c., Grenville stood up and undervalued them all as trifles; and, says he, “I will tell the honorable gentleman of a revenue that will produce something valuable in America: make paper money for the colonies, issue it upon loan there, take the interest, and apply it as you think proper.” Mr. Townshend, finding the House listened to this and seemed to like it, stood up again, and said that was a proposition of his own, which he had intended to make with the rest, but it had slipped his memory, and the gentleman, who must have heard it, now unfairly would take advantage of that slip and make a merit to himself of a proposition that was another’s, and as a proof of it, assured the House a bill was prepared for the purpose, and would be laid before them.
This startled all our friends; and the merchants concluded to keep back their petition for a while, till things appeared a little clearer, lest their friends in America should blame them, as having furnished foundation for an act that must have been disagreeable to the colonies. I found the rest of the ministry did not like this proceeding of the chancellor’s, but there was no going on with our scheme against his declaration, and as he daily talked of resigning, there being no good agreement between him and the rest, and as we found the general prejudice against the colonies so strong in the House, that any thing in the shape of a favor to them all was like to meet with opposition, whether he was out or in, I proposed to Mr. Jackson the putting our colony foremost, as we stood in a pretty good light, and asking the favor for us alone. This he agreed might be proper in case the chancellor should go out, and undertook to bring in a bill for that purpose, provided the Philadelphia merchants would petition for it; and he wished to have such a petition ready to present, if an opening for it should offer. Accordingly I applied to them, and prepared a draft of a petition for them to sign, a copy of which I send you enclosed. They seemed generally for the measure; but, apprehending the merchants of the other colonies, who had hitherto gone hand in hand with us in all American affairs, might take umbrage if we separated from them, it was thought right to call a meeting of the whole to consult upon this proposal.
At this meeting I represented to them, as the ground of this measure, that, the colonies being generally out of favor at present, any hard clause relating to paper money in the repealing bill, will be more easily received in Parliament, if the bill related to all the colonies; that Pennsylvania being in some degree of favor, might possibly alone obtain a better act than the whole could do, as it might by government be thought as good policy to show favor where there had been the reverse; that a good act obtained by Pennsylvania might another year, when the resentment against the colonies should be abated, be made use of as a precedent, &c., &c. But after a good deal of debate it was finally concluded not to precipitate matters, it being very dangerous by any kind of petition to furnish the chancellor with a horse on which he could put what saddle he thought fit. The other merchants seemed rather averse to the Pennsylvania merchants proceeding alone, but said they were certainly at liberty to do as they thought proper. The conclusion of the Pennsylvanian merchants was to wait awhile, holding the separate petition ready to sign and present, if a proper opening should appear this session, but otherwise to reserve it to the next, when the complexion of ministers and measures may probably be changed. And, as this session now draws to a conclusion, I begin to think nothing will be farther done in it this year.
Mentioning the merchants puts me in mind of some discourse I heard among them, that was by no means agreeable. It was said that, in the opposition they gave the Stamp Act, and their endeavours to obtain the repeal, they had spent at their meetings, and in expresses to all parts of the country, and for a vessel to carry the joyful news to North America, and in the entertainments given our friends of both Houses, &c., near fifteen hundred pounds; that for all this, except from the little colony of Rhode Island, they had not received as much as a thank ye; that, on the contrary, the circular-letters they had written with the best intentions to the merchants of the several colonies, containing their best and most friendly advice, were either answered with unkind reflections, or contemptuously left without answer; and that the captain of the vessel, whom they sent express with the news, having met with misfortunes that obliged him to travel by land through all the colonies from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, was everywhere treated with neglect and contempt, instead of civility and hospitality; and nowhere more than at Philadelphia, where, though he delivered letters to the merchants, that must make him and his errand known to them, no one took the least notice of him. I own I was ashamed to hear all this, but hope there is some mistake in it. I should not have troubled you with this account, but that I think we stand in truth greatly obliged to the merchants, who are a very respectable body, and whose friendship is worth preserving, as it may greatly help us on future occasions; and therefore I wish some decent acknowledgments or thanks were sent from the Assemblies of the colonies, since their correspondents have omitted it.
I have said the less of late in my letters concerning the petitions, because I hoped this summer to have an opportunity of communicating every thing vivâ voce, and there are particulars that cannnot safely be trusted to paper. Perhaps I may be more determined as to returning or staying another winter, when I receive my next letters from you and my other friends in Philadelphia.
We got the chancellor to drop his salt duty. And the merchants trading to Portugal and Spain, he says, have made such a clamor about the intention of suffering ships to go directly with wine, fruit, and oil, from those countries to America, that he has dropped that scheme, and we are, it seems, to labor a little longer under the inconveniences of the restraint.
It is said the bill to suspend the legislatures of New York and Georgia, till they comply with the act of Parliament for quartering soldiers, will pass this session. I fear that imprudencies on both sides may, step by step, bring on the most mischievous consequences. It is imagined here, that this act will enforce immediate compliance; and, if the people should be quiet, content themselves with the laws they have, and let the matter rest, till in some future war the King, wanting aids from them, and finding himself restrained in his legislation by the act as much as the people, shall think fit by his ministers to propose the repeal, the Parliament will be greatly disappointed; and perhaps it may take this turn. I wish nothing worse may happen.
The present ministry will probably continue through this session. But their disagreement, with the total inability of Lord Chatham, through sickness, to do any business, must bring on some change before next winter. I wish it may be for the better, but fear the contrary.
Please to present my dutiful respects to the Assembly, and believe me ever, dear Sir, your and the Committee’s most obedient and faithful humble servant,
TO MISS MARY STEVENSON
17 June, 1767.
We were greatly disappointed yesterday that we had not the pleasure promised us of our dear Polly’s company. Your good mother would have me write a line in answer to your letter. A muse, you must know, visited me this morning! I see you are surprised, as I was. I never saw one before, and shall never see another, so I took the opportunity of her help to put the answer into verse, because I was some verse in your debt ever since you sent me the last pair of garters.
This muse appeared to be no housewife. I suppose few of them are. She was dressed (if the expression is allowable) in an undress, a kind of slatternly negligée, neither neat nor clean, nor well made, and she has given the same sort of dress to my piece. On reviewing it I would have reformed the lines, and made them all of a length, as I am told lines ought to be; but I find I cannot lengthen the short ones without stretching them on the rack, and I think it would be equally cruel to cut off any part of the long ones. Besides, the superfluity of these makes up for the deficiency of those, and so, from a principle of justice, I leave them at full length, that I may give you, at least in one sense of the word, good measure. Adieu, my dear good girl, and believe me ever your affectionate, faithful friend,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 22 June, 1767.
My Dear Child:—
Captain Falconer is arrived, and came yesterday to see me and bring my letters. I was extremely glad of yours, because I had none by the packet. It seems now as if I should stay here another winter, and therefore I must leave it to your judgment to act in the affair of our daughter’s match as shall seem best. If you think it a suitable one, I suppose the sooner it is completed the better. In that case I would advise that you do not make an expensive feasting wedding, but conduct every thing with frugality and economy, which our circumstances now require to be observed in all our expenses. For since my partnership with Mr. Hall is expired, a great source of our income is cut off, and if I should lose the post-office, which, among the many changes here is far from being unlikely, we should be reduced to our rents and interest of money for a subsistence, which will by no means afford the chargeable housekeeping and entertainments we have been used to.
For my own part, I live here as frugally as possible not to be destitute of the comforts of life, making no dinners for anybody, and contenting myself with a single dish when I dine at home, and yet such is the dearness of living here, in every article, that my expenses amaze me. I see, too, by the sums you have received in my absence, that yours are very great, and I am very sensible that your situation naturally brings you a great many visitors, which occasions an expense not easily to be avoided, especially when one has been long in the practice and habit of it. But when people’s incomes are lessened, if they cannot proportionately lessen their outgoings, they must come to poverty. If we were young enough to begin business again, it might be another matter; but I doubt we are past it, and business not well managed ruins one faster than no business. In short, with frugality and prudent care we may subsist decently on what we have, and leave it entire to our children; but without such care we shall not be able to keep it together; it will melt away like butter in the sunshine, and we may live long enough to feel the miserable consequences of our indiscretion.
I know very little of the gentleman or his character, nor can I at this distance. I hope his expectations are not great of any fortune to be had with our daughter before our death. I can only say that if he proves a good husband to her and a good son to me, he shall find me as good a father as I can be; but at present I suppose you would agree with me that we cannot do more than fit her out handsomely in clothes and furniture, not exceeding in the whole five hundred pounds of value. For the rest, they must depend, as you and I did, on their own industry and care, as what remains in our hands will be barely sufficient for our support, and not enough for them, when it comes to be divided at our decease.
Sally Franklin is well. Her father, who had not seen her for a twelvemonth, came lately and took her home with him for a few weeks to see her friends. He is very desirous I should take her with me to America.
I suppose the blue room is too blue, the wood being of the same color with the paper, and so looks too dark. I would have you finish it as soon as you can, thus: paint the wainscot a dead white; paper the walls blue, and tack the gilt border round just above the surbase and under the cornice. If the paper is not equally colored when pasted on, let it be brushed over again with the same color, and let the papier maché musical figures be tacked to the middle of the ceiling. When this is done, I think it will look very well.
I am glad to hear that Sally keeps up and increases the number of her friends. The best wishes of a fond father for her happiness always attend her. I am, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,
PROTECTIVE DUTIES ON IMPORTS AND HOW THEY WORK
London, 7 July, 1767.
Suppose a country, X, with three manufactures, as cloth, silk, iron, supplying three other countries, A, B, C, but is desirous of increasing the vent, and raising the price of cloth in favor of her own clothiers.
In order to this, she forbids the importation of foreign cloth from A.
A, in return, forbids silks from X.
Then the silk-workers complain of a decay of trade.
And X, to content them, forbids silks from B.
B, in return, forbids iron ware from X.
Then the iron-workers complain of decay.
And X forbids the importation of iron from C.
C, in return, forbids cloth from X.
What is got by all these prohibitions?
Answer.—All four find their common stock of the enjoyments and conveniences of life diminished.
TO SAMUEL FRANKLIN, BOSTON
London, 17 July, 1767.
I should sooner have answered your kind letter of last year, but postponed it from time to time, having mislaid the print I intended to send you, which I have now found and send herewith. I am glad to hear of the welfare of yourself and your family, which I hope will long continue. My love to them all.
It gives me great pleasure whenever I find that my endeavours to serve America are acceptable to my friends there. Your kind notices of them are very obliging.
I find here but two of our relations remaining, that bear the name of Franklin, viz.: Thomas Franklin of Lutterworth in Leicestershire, a dyer; and his daughter, Sally Franklin, about fourteen years of age, who has been with me in London about a year, and sends her duty to you. Thomas Franklin is the grandson of John Franklin, your grandfather’s brother. There are, besides, still living, Eleanor Morris, an old maiden lady, daughter of your grandfather’s sister Hannah; and also Hannah Walker, granddaughter of his brother John. Mrs. Walker has three sons. She lives at Westbury, in Buckinghamshire, and Mrs. Morris with her. And these are the whole. It is thought best by my friends that I should continue here another winter. My best wishes attend you, being your affectionate kinsman,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 5 August, 1767.
My Dear Child:—
I have now before me all your letters, and shall answer them article by article.
Captain Ourry dined here a few days since, and thanks you for remembering him, desiring his respects to you and Sally. Mr. Strahan and family, the same. I received the bill sent by Mr. Potts, and suppose it will be duly paid. You will return him the overplus. I wish I could take my passage this time with Captain Falconer. I was on board the other day with Mr. and Mrs. West, Mrs. Stevenson, and Mrs. Hopkinson, to drink tea. It is a fine ship, and I think it not unlikely that I may go with him next time, as he is a very kind, good friend, whom I much respect.
I am very glad you go sometimes to Burlington. The harmony you mention in our family and among our children gives me great pleasure. I am sorry to hear of the death of our good old friend Debby Norris. She was a worthy good woman and will be missed. If I can in any shape be of service to Mr. Francis, you may depend I shall do it, being much concerned for his misfortune. I am told the affair is like to turn out better for him than was expected. Sally Franklin is now in the country with her father. She is an only child, and a very good girl.
I received the watch chain, which you say you send to be put to rights. I do not see what it wants. Mrs. Stevenson says it is too old-fashioned for Sally, and advised sending the watch also to be changed away for a new watch and chain.
In your last letters you say nothing concerning Mr. Bache. The misfortune that has lately happened to his affairs, though it may not lessen his character as an honest or prudent man, will probably induce him to forbear entering hastily into a state that must require a great addition to his expense, when he will be less able to supply it. If you think that, in the meantime, it will be some amusement to Sally to visit her friends here, and return with me, I should have no objection to her coming over with Captain Falconer, provided Mrs. Falconer comes at the same time, as is talked of. I think too it might be some improvement to her. I am at present meditating a journey somewhere, perhaps to Bath or Bristol, as I begin to find a little giddiness in my head, a token that I want the exercise I have yearly been accustomed to. I long to see you, and be with you, being as ever, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,
TO GEORGE CROGAN
London, 5 August, 1767.
I return you many thanks for the box of elephants’ tusks and grinders. They are extremely curious on many accounts; no living elephants having been seen in any part of America by any of the Europeans settled there, or remembered in any tradition of the Indians. It is also puzzling to conceive what should have brought so many of them to die on the same spot; and that no such remains should be found in any other part of the continent, except in that very distant country, Peru, from whence some grinders of the same kind, formerly brought, are now in the museum of the Royal Society. The tusks agree with those of the African and Asiatic elephant in being nearly of the same form and texture, and some of them, notwithstanding the length of time they must have lain, being still good ivory. But the grinders differ, being full of knobs, like the grinders of a carnivorous animal; when those of the elephant, who eats only vegetables, are almost smooth. But then we know of no other animal with tusks like an elephant, to whom such grinders might belong.
It is remarkable, that elephants now inhabit naturally only hot countries where there is no winter, and yet these remains are found in a winter country; and it is no uncommon thing to find elephants’ tusks in Siberia, in great quantities, when their rivers overflow, and wash away the earth, though Siberia is still more a wintry country than that on the Ohio; which looks as if the earth had anciently been in another position, and the climates differently placed from what they are at present.
With great regard, I am, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 8 August, 1767.
I have before me your favors of April 23d, May 21st and 26th. The confusion among our great men still continues as much as ever, and a melancholy thing it is to consider that, instead of employing the present leisure of peace in such measures as might extend our commerce, pay off our debts, secure allies, and increase the strength and ability of the nation to support a future war, the whole seems to be wasted in party contentions about places of power and profit, in court intrigues and cabals, and in abusing one another.
There has been lately an attempt to make a kind of coalition of parties in a new ministry; but it fell through, and the present set is like to continue for some time longer, which I am rather pleased with, as some of those who were proposed to be introduced are professed adversaries to America, which is now made one of the distinctions of party here; those who have in the last two sessions shown a disposition to favor us, being called, by way of reproach, Americans, while the others, adherents to Grenville and Bedford, value themselves on being true to the interests of Britain, and zealous for maintaining its dignity and sovereignty over the colonies.
This distinction will, it is apprehended, be carried much higher in the next session, for the political purpose of influencing the ensuing election. It is already given out that the compliance of New York in providing for the quarters, without taking notice of its being done in obedience to the act of Parliament, is evasive and unsatisfactory; that it is high time to put the right and power of this country to tax the colonies out of dispute, by an act of taxation effectually carried into execution, and that all the colonies should be obliged explicitly to acknowledge that right. Every step is taking to render the taxing of America a popular measure here by continually insisting on the topics of our wealth and flourishing circumstances, while this country is loaded with debt, great part of it incurred on our account, the distress of the poor here by the multitude and weight of taxes, &c., &c.; and though the traders and manufacturers may possibly be kept in our interest, the idea of an American tax is very pleasing to the landed men, who therefore readily receive and propagate these sentiments wherever they have influence.
If such a bill should be brought in, it is hard to say what would be the event of it, or what would be the effects. Those who oppose it, though they should be strong enough to throw it out, would be stigmatized as Americans, betrayers of Old England, &c., and perhaps, our friends by this means being excluded, a majority of our adversaries may get in, and then the act infallibly passes the following session. To avoid the danger of such exclusion, perhaps little opposition will be given, and then it passes immediately. I know not what to advise on this occasion, but that we should all do our endeavours on both sides of the water to lessen the present unpopularity of the American cause, conciliate the affections of the people here towards us, increase by all possible means the number of our friends, and be careful not to weaken their hands and strengthen those of our enemies by rash proceedings on our side, the mischiefs of which are inconceivable. Some of our friends have thought that a publication of my Examination here might answer some of the above purposes by removing prejudices, refuting falsehoods, and demonstrating our merits with regard to this country. It is accordingly printed, and has a great run. I have another piece in hand, which I intend to put out about the time of the meeting of Parliament, if those I consult with shall judge that it may be of service.
The next session of Parliament will probably be a short one, on account of the following election, and I am now advised by some of our great friends here to see that out, not returning to America till the spring. My presence indeed is necessary there to settle some private affairs. Unforeseen and unavoidable difficulties have hitherto obstructed our proceedings in the main intent of my coming over, and perhaps (though I think my being here has not been altogether unserviceable) our friends in the Assembly may begin to be discouraged and tired of the expense. If that should be the case I would not have you propose to continue me as agent at the meeting of the new Assembly. My endeavours to serve the province, in what I may while I remain here, shall not be lessened by that omission.
I am glad you have made a trial of paper money, not a legal tender. The quantity being small may perhaps be kept in full credit notwithstanding; and if that can be avoided, I am not for applying here again very soon for a repeal of the restraining act. I am afraid an ill use will be made of it. The plan of our adversaries is to render Assemblies in America useless, and to have a revenue, independent of their grants, for all the purposes of their defence and supporting governments among them. It is our interest to prevent this. And, that they may not lay hold of our necessities for paper money, to draw a revenue from that article whenever they grant us the liberty we want, of making it a legal tender, I wish some other method may be fallen upon of supporting its credit. What think you of getting all the merchants, traders, and principal people of all sorts, to join in petitions to the Assembly for a moderate emission, the petition being accompanied with a mutual engagement to take it in all dealings at the rates fixed by law? Such an engagement had a great effect in fixing the value and rates of our gold and silver. Or, perhaps, a bank might be established that would answer all purposes. Indeed I think with you, that those merchants here, who have made difficulties on the subject of the legal tender, have not understood their own interest. For there can be no doubt that, should a scarcity of money continue among us, we shall take off less of their merchandise, and attend more to manufacturing, and raising the necessities and superfluities of life among ourselves, which we now receive from them. And perhaps this consequence would attend our making no paper money at all of any sort, that, being thus by want of cash driven to industry and frugality, we should gradually become more rich without their trade than we can possibly be with it, and, by keeping in the country the real cash that comes into it, have in time a quantity sufficient for all our occasions. But I suppose our people will scarce have patience to wait for this.
I have received the printed votes, but not the laws. I hear nothing yet of any objection made by the Proprietaries to any of them at the Board of Trade.
Please to present my duty to the Assembly, with thanks for their care of me, and assure them of my most faithful services. With sincerest esteem and respect, I am, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY
London, 28 August, 1767.
I have no letters of yours since my last, in which I answered all preceding ones.
Last week I dined at Lord Shelburne’s, and had a long conversation with him and Mr. Conway (there being no other company) on the subject of reducing American expense. They have it in contemplation to return the management of Indian affairs into the hands of the several provinces on which the nations border, that the colonies may bear the charge of treaties, &c., which they think will then be managed more frugally, the treasury being tired with the immense drafts of the superintendents. I took the opportunity of urging it as one means of saving expense in supporting the outposts, that a settlement should be made in the Illinois country; expatiated on the various advantages, viz.: furnishing provisions cheaper to the garrisons, securing the country, retaining the trade, raising a strength there, which on occasion of a future war might easily be poured down the Mississippi upon the lower country, and into the Bay of Mexico, to be used against Cuba or Mexico itself. I mentioned your plan, its being approved by Sir William Johnson, the readiness and ability of the gentlemen concerned to carry the settlement into execution, with very little expense to the crown, &c. The secretaries appeared finally to be fully convinced, and there remained no obstacle but the Board of Trade, which was to be brought over privately before the matter should be referred to them officially. In case of laying aside the superintendents, a provision was thought of for Sir William Johnson.
We had a good deal of farther discourse on American affairs, particularly on paper money. Lord Shelburne declared himself fully convinced of the utility of taking off the restraint, by my answer to the Report of the Board of Trade. General Conway had not seen it, and desired me to send it to him, which I did next morning. They gave me expectation of a repeal next session, Lord Clair being come over; but they said there was some difficulty with others at the Board, who had signed that Report; for there was a good deal in what Soame Jenyns had laughingly said, when asked to concur in some measure: I have no kind of objection to it, provided we have heretofore signed nothing to the contrary.
In this conversation I did not forget our main Pennsylvania business, and I think made some farther progress, though but little. The two secretaries seemed intent upon preparing business for next Parliament, which makes me think, that the late projects of changes are now quite over, and that they expect to continue in place. But whether they will do much or little, I cannot say.
Du Guerchy, the French ambassador, is gone home, and Monsieur Durand is left minister plenipotentiary. He is extremely curious to inform himself in the affairs of America; pretends to have a great esteem for me, on account of the abilities shown in my examination; has desired to have all my political writings, invited me to dine with him, was very inquisitive, treated me with great civility, makes me visits, &c. I fancy that intriguing nation would like very well to meddle on occasion, and blow up the coals between Britain and her colonies; but I hope we shall give them no opportunity.
I write this in a great hurry, being setting out in an hour on another journey with my steady, good friend, Sir John Pringle. We propose to visit Paris. Durand has given me letters of recommendation to the Lord knows who. I am told I shall meet with great respect there; but winds change, and perhaps it will be full as well if I do not. We shall be gone six weeks. I have a little private commission to transact, of which more another time.
Communicate nothing of this letter but privately to our friend Galloway. I am your affectionate father,
TO MISS STEVENSON
Paris, 14 September, 1767.
I am always pleased with a letter from you, and I flatter myself you may be sometimes pleased in receiving one from me, though it should be of little importance, such as this, which is to consist of a few occasional remarks made here, and in my journey hither.
Soon after I left you in that agreeable society at Bromley, I took the resolution of making a trip with Sir John Pringle into France. We set out on the 28th past. All the way to Dover we were furnished with post-chaises, hung so as to lean forward, the top coming down over one’s eyes, like a hood, as if to prevent one’s seeing the country, which being one of my great pleasures, I was engaged in perpetual disputes with the innkeepers, ostlers, and postilions, about getting the straps taken up a hole or two before, and let down as much behind, they insisting that the chaise leaning forward was an ease to the horses, and that the contrary would kill them. I suppose the chaise leaning forward looks to them like a willingness to go forward, and that its hanging back shows reluctance. They added other reasons, that were no reasons at all, and made me, as upon a hundred other occasions, almost wish that mankind had never been endowed with a reasoning faculty, since they know so little how to make use of it, and so often mislead themselves by it, and that they had been furnished with a good sensible instinct instead of it.
At Dover the next morning we embarked for Calais with a number of passengers who had never before been at sea. They would previously make a hearty breakfast, because if the wind should fail we might not get over till supper time. Doubtless they thought that when they had paid for their breakfast they had a right to it, and that when they had swallowed it they were sure of it. But they had scarce been out half an hour before the sea laid claim to it, and they were obliged to deliver it up. So that it seems there are uncertainties, even beyond those between the cup and the lip. If ever you go to sea, take my advice, and live sparingly a day or two beforehand. The sickness, if any, will be lighter and sooner over. We got to Calais that evening.
Various impositions we suffered from boatmen, porters, and the like on both sides of the water. I know not which are most rapacious, the English or French; but the latter have, with their knavery, most politeness.
The roads we found equally good with ours in England, in some places paved with smooth stones, like our new streets, for many miles together, and rows of trees on each side, and yet there are no turnpikes. But then the poor peasants complained to us grievously that they were obliged to work upon the roads full two months in the year without being paid for their labor. Whether this is truth, or whether, like Englishmen, they grumble, cause or no cause, I have not yet been able fully to inform myself.
The women we saw at Calais, on the road, at Boulogne, and in the inns and villages, were generally of dark complexions; but arriving at Abbeville we found a sudden change, a multitude of both women and men in that place appearing remarkably fair. Whether this is owing to a small colony of spinners, wool-combers, and weavers, brought hither from Holland with the woollen manufactory about sixty years ago, or to their being less exposed to the sun than in other places, their business keeping them much within doors, I know not. Perhaps, as in some other cases, different causes may club in producing the effect; but the effect itself is certain. Never was I in a place of greater industry, wheels and looms going in every house.
As soon as we left Abbeville the swarthiness returned. I speak generally; for here are some fair women at Paris, who, I think, are not whitened by art. As to rouge, they don’t pretend to imitate nature in laying it on. There is no gradual diminution of the color from the full bloom in the middle of the cheek to the faint tint near the sides; nor does it show itself differently in different faces. I have not had the honor of being at any lady’s toilette to see how it is laid on; but I fancy I can tell you how it is or may be done. Cut a hole of three inches diameter in a piece of paper; place it on the side of your face in such a manner as that the top of the hole may be just under the eye; then, with a brush dipped in the color, paint face and paper together; so when the paper is taken off there will remain a round patch of red exactly the form of the hole. This is the mode, from the actresses on the stage upwards through all ranks of ladies to the princesses of the blood; but it stops there, the Queen not using it, having in the serenity, complacence, and benignity that shine so eminently in, or rather through, her countenance, sufficient beauty, though now an old woman, to do extremely well without it.
You see, I speak of the Queen as if I had seen her; and so I have, for you must know I have been at court. We went to Versailles last Sunday, and had the honor of being presented to the King. He spoke to both of us very graciously and very cheerfully, is a handsome man, has a very lively look, and appears younger than he is. In the evening we were at the Grand Couvert, where the family sup in public. The table was half a hollow square, the service gold. When either made a sign for drink the word was given by one of the waiters: A boire pour le Roi, or, A boire pour la Reine. Then two persons came from within, the one with wine and the other with water in carafes. Each drank a little glass of what he brought, and then put both the carafes with a glass on a salver, and then presented it. Their distance from each other was such as that other chairs might have been placed between any two of them. An officer of the court brought us up through the crowd of spectators, and placed Sir John so as to stand between the Queen and Madame Victoire. The King talked a good deal to Sir John, asking many questions about our royal family, and did me, too, the honor of taking some notice of me; that is saying enough; for I would not have you think me so much pleased with this King and Queen as to have a whit less regard than I used to have for ours. No Frenchman shall go beyond me in thinking my own King and Queen the very best in the world, and the most amiable.
Versailles has had infinite sums laid out in building it and supplying it with water. Some say the expenses exceeded eighty millions sterling. The range of buildings is immense; the garden-front most magnificent, all of hewn stone; the number of statues, figures, urns, &c., in marble and bronze of exquisite workmanship, is beyond conception. But the waterworks are out of repair, and so is great part of the front next the town, looking with its shabby, half-brick walls, and broken windows, not much better than the houses in Durham Yard. There is, in short, both at Versailles and Paris, a prodigious mixture of magnificence and negligence, with every kind of elegance except that of cleanliness, and what we call tidiness. Though I must do Paris the justice to say, that in two points of cleanliness they exceed us. The water they drink, though from the river, they render as pure as that of the best spring, by filtering it through cisterns filled with sand; and the streets with constant sweeping are fit to walk in, though there is no paved footpath. Accordingly, many well-dressed people are constantly seen walking in them. The crowd of coaches and chairs for this reason is not so great. Men, as well as women, carry umbrellas in their hands, which they extend in case of rain or too much sun; and, a man with an umbrella not taking up more than three foot square, or nine square feet of the street, when, if in a coach, he would take up two hundred and forty square feet, you can easily conceive that, though the streets here are narrow, they may be much less encumbered. They are extremely well paved, and the stones, being generally cubes, when worn on one side, may be turned and become new.
The civilities we everywhere receive give us the strongest impressions of the French politeness. It seems to be a point settled here universally, that strangers are to be treated with respect; and one has just the same deference shown one here by being a stranger, as in England by being a lady. The custom-house officers at Port St. Denis, as we entered Paris, were about to seize two dozen of excellent Bordeaux wine given us at Boulogne, and which we brought with us; but as soon as they found we were strangers, it was immediately remitted on that account. At the Church of Notre Dame, where we went to see a magnificent illumination, with figures, &c., for the deceased Dauphiness, we found an immense crowd, who were kept out by guards; but the officer being told that we were strangers from England, he immediately admitted us, accompanied and showed us every thing. Why don’t we practise this urbanity to Frenchmen? Why should they be allowed to outdo us in any thing?
Here is an exhibition of painting, like ours in London, to which multitudes flock daily. I am not connoisseur enough to judge which has most merit. Every night, Sundays not excepted, here are plays or operas; and, though the weather has been hot, and the houses full, one is not incommoded by the heat so much as with us in winter. They must have some way of changing the air, that we are not acquainted with. I shall inquire into it.
Travelling is one way of lengthening life, at least in appearance. It is but about a fortnight since we left London, but the variety of scenes we have gone through makes it seem equal to six months living in one place. Perhaps I have suffered a greater change, too, in my own person, than I could have done in six years at home. I had not been here six days, before my tailor and perruquier had transformed me into a Frenchman. Only think what a figure I make in a little bag-wig and with naked ears! They told me I was become twenty years younger, and looked very gallant.
This letter shall cost you a shilling, and you may consider it cheap, when you reflect that it has cost me at least fifty guineas to get into the situation that enables me to write it. Besides, I might, if I had stayed at home, have won perhaps two shillings of you at cribbage. By the way, now I mention cards, let me tell you that quadrille is now out of fashion here, and English whist all the mode at Paris and the court.
And pray look upon it as no small matter, that, surrounded as I am by the glories of the world, and amusements of all sorts, I remember you, and Dolly, and all the dear good folks at Bromley. It is true, I cannot help it, but must and ever shall remember you all with pleasure.
Need I add that I am particularly, my dear good friend, yours most affectionately,
OF LIGHTNING AND THE METHODS (NOW USED IN AMERICA) OF SECURING BUILDINGS AND PERSONS FROM ITS MISCHIEVOUS EFFECTS.
Paris, September, 1767.
Experiments made in electricity first gave philosophers a suspicion, that the matter of lightning was the same with the electric matter. Experiments afterwards made on lightning obtained from the clouds by pointed rods, received into bottles, and subjected to every trial, have since proved this suspicion to be perfectly well founded; and that whatever properties we find in electricity, are also the properties of lightning.
This matter of lightning, or of electricity, is an extreme subtile fluid, penetrating other bodies, and subsisting in them, equally diffused.
When, by any operation of art or nature, there happens to be a greater proportion of this fluid in onebody than in another, the body which has most will communicate to that which has least, till the proportion becomes equal; provided the distance between them be not too great; or, if it is too great, till there be proper conductors to convey it from one to the other.
If the communication be through the air without any conductor, a bright light is seen between the bodies, and a sound is heard. In our small experiments, we call this light and sound the electric spark and snap; but, in the great operations of nature, the light is what we call lightning, and the sound (produced at the same time, though generally arriving later at our ears than the light does to our eyes) is, with its echoes, called thunder.
If the communication of this fluid is by a conductor, it may be without either light or sound, the subtile fluid passing in the substance of the conductor.
If the conductor be good and of sufficient bigness, the fluid passes through it without hurting it. If otherwise, it is damaged or destroyed.
All metals and water are good conductors. Other bodies may become conductors by having some quantity of water in them, as wood, and other materials used in building; but, not having much water in them, they are not good conductors, and therefore are often damaged in the operation.
Glass, wax, silk, wool, hair, feathers, and even wood, perfectly dry, are non-conductors; that is, they resist instead of facilitating the passage of this subtile fluid.
When this fluid has an opportunity of passing through two conductors, one good and sufficient, as of metal, the other not so good, it passes in the best, and will follow it in any direction.
The distance at which a body charged with this fluid will discharge itself suddenly, striking through the air into another body that is not charged, or not so highly charged, is different according to the quantity of the fluid, the dimensions and form of the bodies themselves, and the state of the air between them. This distance, whatever happens to be between any two bodies, is called their striking distance, as, till they come within that distance of each other, no stroke will be made.
The clouds have often more of this fluid in proportion than the earth; in which case, as soon as they come near enough (that is, within the striking distance) or meet with a conductor, the fluid quits them and strikes into the earth. A cloud fully charged with this fluid, if so high as to be beyond the striking distance from the earth, passes quietly without making noise or giving light, unless it meets with other clouds that have less.
Tall trees, and lofty buildings, as the towers and spires of churches, become sometimes conductors between the clouds and the earth; but, not being good ones, that is, not conveying the fluid freely, they are often damaged.
Buildings that have their roofs covered with lead, or other metal, and spouts of metal continued from the roof into the ground to carry off the water, are never hurt by lightning, as, whenever it falls on such a building, it passes in the metals and not in the walls.
When other buildings happen to be within the striking distance from such clouds, the fluid passes in the walls, whether of wood, brick, or stone, quitting the walls only when it can find better conductors near them, as metal rods, bolts, and hinges of windows or doors, gilding on wainscot, or frames of pictures, the silvering on the backs of looking-glasses, the wires for bells, and the bodies of animals, as containing watery fluids. And in passing through the house it follows the direction of these conductors, taking as many in its way as can assist it in its passage, whether in a straight or crooked line, leaping from one to the other, if not far distant from each other, only rending the wall in the spaces where these partial good conductors are too distant from each other.
An iron rod being placed on the outside of a building, from the highest part continued down into the moist earth, in any direction, straight or crooked, following the form of the roof or other parts of the building, will receive the lightning at its upper end, attracting it so as to prevent its striking any other part; and, affording it a good conveyance into the earth, will prevent its damaging any part of the building.
A small quantity of metal is found able to conduct a great quantity of this fluid. A wire no bigger than a goose-quill has been known to conduct (with safety to the building as far as the wire was continued) a quantity of lightning that did prodigious damage both above and below it; and probably larger rods are not necessary, though it is common in America to make them of half an inch, some of three quarters, or an inch diameter.
The rod may be fastened to the wall, chimney, &c., with staples of iron. The lightning will not leave the rod (a good conductor) to pass into the wall (a bad conductor) through those staples. It would rather, if any were in the wall, pass out of it into the rod to get more readily by that conductor into the earth.
If the building be very large and extensive, two or more rods may be placed at different parts for greater security.
Small ragged parts of clouds, suspended in the air between the great body of clouds and the earth (like leaf gold in electrical experiments) often serve as partial conductors for the lightning, which proceeds from one of them to another, and by their help comes within the striking distance to the earth or a building. It therefore strikes through those conductors a building that would otherwise be out of the striking distance.
Long, sharp points communicating with the earth, and presented to such parts of clouds, drawing silently from them the fluid they are charged with, they are then attracted to the cloud, and may leave the distance so great as to be beyond the reach of striking.
It is therefore that we elevate the upper end of the rod six or eight feet above the highest part of the building, tapering it gradually to a fine sharp point, which is gilt to prevent its rusting.
Thus the pointed rod either prevents a stroke from the cloud, or, if a stroke is made, conducts it to the earth with safety to the building.
The lower end of the rod should enter the earth so deep as to come at the moist part, perhaps two or three feet, and if bent when under the surface so as to go in a horizontal line six or eight feet from the wall, and then bent again downwards three or four feet, it will prevent damage to any of the stones of the foundation.
A person apprehensive of danger from lightning, happening during the time of thunder to be in a house not so secured, will do well to avoid sitting near the chimney, near a looking-glass, or any gilt pictures, or wainscot. The safest place is in the middle of the room (so it be not under a metal lustre suspended by a chain), sitting in one chair and laying the feet up in another. It is still safer to bring two or three mattresses or beds into the middle of the room, and, folding them up double, place the chair upon them; for they not being so good conductors as the walls, the lightning will not choose an interrupted course through the air of the room and the bedding, when it can go through a continued better conductor, the walls. But where it can be had, a hammock or swinging bed, suspended by silk cords equally distant from the walls on every side, and from the ceiling and floor above and below, affords the safest situation a person can have in any room whatever, and what indeed may be deemed quite free from danger of any stroke by lightning.
ON SMUGGLING AND ITS VARIOUS SPECIES
There are many people that would be thought, and even think themselves, honest men, who fail nevertheless in particular points of honesty; deviating from that character some times by the prevalence of mode or custom, and sometimes through mere inattention; so that their honesty is partial only, and not general or universal. Thus one, who would scorn to overreach you in a bargain, shall make no scruple of tricking you a little now and then at cards; another, that plays with the utmost fairness, shall with great freedom cheat you in the sale of a horse. But there is no kind of dishonesty, into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall, than that of defrauding government of its revenues by smuggling when they have an opportunity, or encouraging smugglers by buying their goods.
I fell into these reflections the other day, on hearing two gentlemen of reputation discoursing about a small estate, which one of them was inclined to sell and the other to buy; when the seller, in recomending the place, remarked, that its situation was very advantageous on this account, that, being on the sea-coast in a smuggling country, one had frequent opportunities of buying many of the expensive articles used in a family (such as tea, coffee, chocolate, brandy, wines, cambrics, Brussels laces, French silks, and all kinds of India goods), twenty, thirty, and in some articles fifty per cent. cheaper than they could be had in the more interior parts, of traders that paid duty. The other honest gentleman allowed this to be an advantage, but insisted that the seller, in the advanced price he demanded on that account, rated the advantage much above its value. And neither of them seemed to think dealing with smugglers a practice that an honest man (provided he got his goods cheap) had the least reason to be ashamed of.
At a time when the load of our public debt, and the heavy expense of maintaining our fleets and armies to be ready for defence on occasion, make it necessary, not only to continue old taxes, but often to look out for new ones, perhaps it may not be unuseful to state this matter in a light that few seem to have considered it in.
The people of Great Britain, under the happy constitution of this country, have a privilege few other countries enjoy, that of choosing a third branch of the legislature, which branch has alone the power of regulating their taxes. Now, whenever the government finds it necessary for the common benefit, advantage, and safety of the nation, for the security of our liberties, property, religion, and every thing that is dear to us, that certain sums shall be yearly raised by taxes, duties, &c., and paid into the public treasury, thence to be dispensed by government for those purposes; ought not every honest man freely and willingly to pay his just proportion of this necessary expense? Can he possibly preserve a right to that character, if, by fraud, stratagem, or contrivance, he avoids that payment in whole or in part?
What should we think of a companion who, having supped with his friends at a tavern, and partaken equally of the joys of the evening with the rest of us, would nevertheless contrive by some artifice to shift his share of the reckoning upon others, in order to go off scot-free? If a man who practised this would, when detected, be deemed and called a scoundrel, what ought he to be called who can enjoy all the inestimable benefits of public society, and yet by smuggling, or dealing with smugglers, contrive to evade paying his just share of the expense, as settled by his own representatives in Parliament, and wrongfully throw it upon his honester and perhaps much poorer neighbours? He will perhaps be ready to tell me that he does not wrong his neighbours; he scorns the imputation; he only cheats the King a little, who is very able to bear it. This, however, is a mistake. The public treasure is the treasure of the nation, to be applied to national purposes. And when a duty is laid for a particular public and necessary purpose, if, through smuggling, that duty falls short of raising the sum required, and other duties must therefore be laid to make up the deficiency, all the additional sum laid by the new duties and paid by other people, though it should amount to no more than a half-penny or a farthing per head, is so much actually picked out of the pockets of those other people by the smugglers and their abettors and encouragers. Are they then any better or other than pickpockets? And what mean, low, rascally pickpockets must those be, that can pick pockets for half-pence and for farthings!
I would not, however, be supposed to allow, in what I have just said, that cheating the King is a less offence against honesty, than cheating the public. The King and the public, in this case, are different names for the same thing; but, if we consider the King distinctly, it will not lessen the crime; it is no justification of a robbery, that the person robbed was rich and able to bear it. The King has as much right to justice as the meanest of his subjects; and, as he is truly the common father of his people, those that rob him fall under the Scripture woe, pronounced against the son that robbeth his father, and saith it is no sin.
Mean as this practice is, do we not daily see people of character and fortune engaged in it for trifling advantages to themselves? Is any lady ashamed to request of a gentleman of her acquaintance, that when he returns from abroad he would smuggle her home a piece of silk or lace from France or Flanders? Is any gentleman ashamed to undertake and execute the commission? Not in the least. They will talk of it freely, even before others whose pockets they are thus contriving to pick by this piece of knavery.
Among other branches of the revenue, that of the post-office is, by the late law, appropriated to the discharge of our public debt, to defray the expenses of the state. None but members of Parliament, and a few public officers, have now a right to avoid, by a frank, the payment of postage. When any letter, not written by them or on their business, is franked by any of them, it is a hurt to the revenue, an injury which they must now take the pains to conceal by writing the whole superscription themselves. And yet such is our insensibility to justice in this particular, that nothing is more common than to see, even in reputable company, a very honest gentleman or lady declare his or her intention to cheat the nation of three pence by a frank, and without blushing apply to one of the very legislators themselves, with a modest request, that he would be pleased to become an accomplice in the crime, and assist in the perpetration.
There are those who by these practices take a great deal in a year out of the public purse, and put the money into their own private pockets. If, passing through a room where public treasure is deposited, a man takes the opportunity of clandestinely pocketing and carrying off a guinea, is he not truly and properly a thief? And if another evades paying into the treasury a guinea he ought to pay in, and applies it to his own use, when he know it belongs to the public as much as that which has been paid in, what difference is there in the nature of the crime, or the baseness of committing it?
Some laws make the receiving of stolen goods equally penal with stealing, and upon this principle, that if there were no receivers there would be few thieves. Our proverb too says truly, that the receiver is as bad as the thief. By the same reasoning, as there would be few smugglers if there were none who knowingly encouraged them by buying their goods, we may say that the encouragers of smuggling are as bad as the smugglers; and that, as smugglers are a kind of thieves, both equally deserve the punishment of thievery.
In this view of wronging the revenue, what must we think of those who can evade paying for their wheels and their plate, in defiance of law and justice, and yet declaim against corruption and peculation, as if their own hands and hearts were pure and unsullied? The Americans offend us grievously, when, contrary to our laws, they smuggle goods into their own country; and yet they had no hand in making those laws. I do not however pretend from thence to justify them. But I think the offence much greater in those who either directly or indirectly have been concerned in making the very laws they break. And when I hear them exclaiming against the Americans, and for every little infringement on the acts of trade, or obstruction given by a petty mob to an officer of our customs in that country, calling for vengeance against the whole people as rebels and traitors, I cannot help thinking there are still those in the world who can see a mote in their brother’s eye, while they do not discern a beam in their own; and that the old saying is as true now as ever it was, One man may better steal a horse, than another look over the hedge.
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN
London, 25 November, 1767.
I think the New Yorkers have been very discreet in forbearing to write and publish against the late act of Parliament. I wish the Boston people had been as quiet, since Governor Bernard has sent over all their violent papers to the ministry, and wrote them word that he daily expected a rebellion. He did indeed afterwards correct this extravagance, by writing again, that he now understood those papers were approved but by few, and disliked by all the sober, sensible people of the province. A certain noble Lord expressed himself to me with some disgust and contempt of Bernard on this occasion, saying he ought to have known his people better than to impute to the whole country sentiments that perhaps are only scribbled by some madman in a garret; that he appeared to be too fond of contention, and mistook the matter greatly, in supposing such letters as he wrote were acceptable to the ministry. I have heard nothing of the appointment of General Clark to New York; but I know he is a friend of Lord Shelburne’s, and the same that recommended Mr. Maclean to be his secretary. Perhaps it might be talked of in my absence.
The commissioners for the American Board went hence while I was in France. You know before this time who they are, and how they are received, which I want to hear. Mr. Williams, who is gone in some office with them, is brother to our cousin Williams of Boston; but I assure you I had not the least share in his appointment, having, as I told you before, carefully kept out of the way of that whole affair.
As soon as I received Mr. Galloway’s, Mr. Samuel Wharton’s, and Mr. Croghan’s letters on the subject of the boundary, I communicated them immediately to Lord Shelburne. He invited me the next day to dine with him. Lord Clare was to have been there, but did not come. There was nobody but Mr. Maclean. My Lord knew nothing of the boundary’s having ever been agreed on by Sir William, had sent the letters to the Board of Trade, desiring search to be made there for Sir William’s letters, and ordered Mr. Maclean to search the secretary’s office, who found nothing. We had much discourse about it, and I pressed the importance of despatching orders immediately to Sir William to complete the affair. His Lordship asked who was to make the purchase, that is, be at the expense. I said that if the line included any lands within the grants of the charter colonies, they should pay the purchase money of such proportion; if any within the proprietary grants, they should pay their proportion; but that what was within royal governments, where the King granted the lands, the crown should pay for that proportion. His Lordship was pleased to say he thought this reasonable. He finally desired me to go to Lord Clare, as from him, and urge the business there, which I undertook to do.
Among other things at this conversation, we talked of the new settlement. His Lordship told me he had himself drawn up a paper of reasons for those settlements, which he laid before the King in Council, acquainting them that he did not offer them merely as his own sentiments; they were what he had collected from General Amherst, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Jackson, three gentlemen that were allowed to be the best authorities for any thing that related to America. I think he added that the Council seemed to approve of the design. I know it was referred to the Board of Trade, who I believe have not yet reported on it, and I doubt will report against it. My Lord told me one pleasant circumstance, viz., that he had shown his paper to the Dean of Gloucester (Tucker), to hear his opinion of the matter; who very sagaciously remarked that he was sure that paper was drawn up by Dr. Franklin; he saw him in every paragraph; adding that Dr. Franklin wanted to remove the seat of government to America; that, says he, is his constant plan.
I waited next morning upon Lord Clare, and pressed the matter of the boundary closely upon him. He said they could not find they had ever received any letters from Sir William concerning this boundary, but were searching farther; agreed to the necessity of settling it; but thought there would be some difficulty about who should pay the purchase money; for that this country was already so loaded, it could bear no more. We then talked of the new colonies. I found he was inclined to think one near the mouth of the Ohio might be of use in securing the country, but did not much approve that at Detroit. And, as to the trade, he imagined it would be of little consequence, if we had all the peltry to be purchased there, but supposed our traders would sell it chiefly to the French and Spaniards at New Orleans, as he heard they had hitherto done.
At the same time that we Americans wish not to be judged of, in the gross, by particular papers written by anonymous scribblers and published in the colonies, it would be well if we could avoid falling into the same mistake in America, in judging of ministers here by the libels printed against them. The enclosed is a very abusive one, in which if there is any foundation of truth, it can only be in the insinuation contained in the words “after eleven adjournments,” that they are too apt to postpone business; but, if they have given any occasion for this reflection, there are reasons and circumstances that may be urged in their excuse.
It gives me pleasure to hear that the people of the other colonies are not insensible of the zeal with which I occasionally espouse their respective interests, as well as the interests of the whole. I shall continue to do so as long as I reside here and am able.
The present ministry seem now likely to continue through this session of Parliament; and perhaps, if the new Parliament should not differ greatly in complexion from this, they may be fixed for a number of years, which I earnestly wish, as we have no chance for a better.
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 1 December, 1767.
I duly received your favors of August 22d, September 20th, and October 8th, and within these few days one of February 14th, recommending Mr. Morgan Edwards and his affair of the Rhode Island College, which I shall endeavour to promote, deeming the institution one of the most catholic and generous of the kind.
I am inclined to think with you, that the small sum you have issued to discharge the public debts only will not be materially affected in its credit for want of the legal tender, considering especially the present extreme want of money in the province. You appear to me to point out the true cause of the general distress, viz., the late luxurious mode of living introduced by a too great plenty of cash. It is indeed amazing to consider, that we had a quantity sufficient before the war began, and that the war added immensely to that quantity, by the sums spent among us by the crown, and the paper struck and issued in the province; and now in so few years all the money spent by the crown is gone away, and has carried with it all the gold and silver we had before, leaving us bare and empty, and at the same time more in debt to England than ever we were. But I am inclined to think that the mere making more money will not mend our circumstances, if we do not return to that industry and frugality which were the fundamental causes of our former prosperity. I shall nevertheless do my utmost this winter to obtain the repeal of the act restraining the legal tender, if our friends the merchants think it practicable, and will heartily espouse the cause; and, in truth, they have full as much interest in the event as we have.
The present ministry, it is now thought, are likely to continue at least till a new Parliament; so that our apprehensions of a change, and that Mr. Grenville would come in again, seem over for the present. He behaves as if a little out of his head on the article of America, which he brings into every debate without rhyme or reason, when the matter has not the least connexion with it. Thus, at the beginning of this session, on the debate upon the King’s speech, he tired everybody, even his friends, with a long harangue about and against America, of which there was not a word in the speech. Last Friday he produced in the House a late Boston Gazette, which he said denied the legislative authority of Parliament, was treasonable, rebellious, &c., and moved it might be read, and that the House would take cognizance of it; but it being moved, on the other hand, that Mr. Grenville’s motion should be postponed to that day six months, it was carried without a division, and as it is known that this Parliament will expire before that time, it was equivalent to a total rejection of the motion. The Duke of Bedford, too, it seems, moved in vain for a consideration of this paper in the House of Lords. These are favorable symptoms of the present disposition of Parliament towards America, which I hope no conduct of the Americans will give just cause of altering.
Be so good as to present my best respects to the House, and believe me, with sincere esteem and regard, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and most obedient servant,
TO JOHN ROSS
London, 13 December, 1767.
I received your kind letter of October 18th. I had before seen, with great pleasure, your name in the papers as chosen for the city of Philadelphia.
The instruction you mention, as proposed by a certain great man, was really a wild one. The reasons you made use of against it were clear and strong, and could not prevail. It will be time enough to show a dislike to the coalition when it is proposed to us. Meanwhile we have all the advantage in the argument of taxation, which our not being represented will continue to give us. I think, indeed, that such an event is very remote. This nation is indeed too proud to propose admitting American representatives into their Parliament, and America is not so humble or so fond of the honor as to petition for it. In matrimonial matches, it is said, when one party is willing the match is half made; but where neither party is willing there is no great danger of their coming together. And, to be sure, such an important business would never be treated of by agents unempowered and uninstructed; nor would government here act upon the private opinion of agents, which might be disowned by their constituents.
The present ministry seem now likely to continue through this session; and this, as a new election approaches, gives them the advantage of getting so many of their friends chosen as may give a stability to their administration. I heartily wish it, because they are all well-disposed towards America.
With sincere esteem, I am, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and most obedient servant,
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN
London, 19 December, 1767.
The resolutions of the Boston people concerning trade make a great noise here. Parliament has not yet taken notice of them, but the newspapers are in full cry against America. Colonel Onslow told me in court last Sunday, that I could not conceive how much the friends of America were run upon and hurt by them, and how much the Grenvillians triumphed. I have just written a paper for next Tuesday’s Chronicle to extenuate matters a little.
Mentioning Colonel Onslow reminds me of something that passed at the beginning of this session in the House between him and Mr. Grenville. The latter had been raving against America, as traitorous, rebellious, &c., when the former, who has always been its firm friend, stood up and gravely said that in reading the Roman history he found it was a custom among that wise and magnanimous people, whenever the senate was informed of any discontent in the provinces, to send two or three of their body into the discontented provinces, to inquire into the grievances complained of, and report to the senate, that mild measures might be used to remedy what was amiss, before any severe steps were taken to enforce obedience; that this example he thought worthy of our imitation in the present state of our colonies, for he did so far agree with the honorable gentleman that spoke just before him, as to allow there were great discontents among them. He should therefore beg leave to move, that two or three members of Parliament be appointed to go over to New England on this service. And that it might not be supposed he was for imposing burdens on others which he would not be willing to bear himself, he did at the same time declare his own willingness, if the House should think fit to appoint them, to go over thither with that honorable gentleman. Upon this there was a great laugh, which continued some time, and was rather increased by Mr. Grenville’s asking, “Will the gentleman engage that I shall be safe there? Can I be assured that I shall be allowed to come back again to make the report?” As soon as the laugh was so far subsided, as that Mr. Onslow could be heard again, he added, “I cannot absolutely engage for the honorable gentleman’s safe return; but if he goes thither upon this service I am strongly of opinion the event will contribute greatly to the future quiet of both countries.” On which the laugh was renewed and redoubled.
If our people should follow the Boston example in entering into resolutions of frugality and industry, full as necessary for us as for them, I hope they will among other things give this reason, that it is to enable them more speedily and effectually to discharge their debts to Great Britain. This will soften a little, and at the same time appear honorable and like ourselves. We have had an ugly affair at the Royal Society lately. One Dacosta, a Jew, who, as our clerk, was intrusted with collecting our moneys, has been so unfaithful as to embezzle near thirteen hundred pounds in four years. Being one of the Council this year, as well as the last, I have been employed all the last week in attending the inquiry into, and unravelling his accounts, in order to come at a full knowledge of his frauds. His securities are bound in one thousand pounds to the Society, which they will pay, but we shall probably lose the rest. He had this year received twenty-six admission payments of twenty-five guineas each, which he did not bring to account.
While attending to this affair, I had an opportunity of looking over the old council-books and journals of the Society, and, having a curiosity to see how I came in, of which I had never been informed, I looked back for the minutes relating to it. You must know it is not usual to admit persons that have not requested to be admitted; and a recommendatory certificate in favor of the candidate, signed by at least three of the members, is by our rule to be presented to the Society, expressing that he is desirous of that honor, and is so and so qualified. As I never had asked or expected the honor, I was, as I said before, curious to see how the business was managed. I found that the certificate, worded very advantageously for me, was signed by Lord Macclesfield, then President, Lord Parker, and Lord Willoughby; that the election was by a unanimous vote; and, the honor being voluntarily conferred by the Society, unsolicited by me, it was thought wrong to demand or receive the usual fees or composition; so that my name was entered on the list with a vote of Council, that I was not to pay any thing. And accordingly nothing has ever been demanded of me. Those who are admitted in the common way, pay five guineas admission fees, and two guineas and a half yearly contribution, or twenty-five guineas down, in lieu of it. In my case a substantial favor accompanied the honor. Yours, &c.,
FROM THOMAS POWNALL TO B. FRANKLIN
The following objection against communicating to the colonies the rights, privileges, and powers of the realm, as to parts of the realm, has been made. I have been endeavouring to obviate it, and I communicate it to you, in hopes of your promised assistance.
“If,” say the objectors, “we communicate to the colonies the power of sending representatives, and in consequence expect them to participate in an equal share and proportion of all our taxes, we must grant to them all the powers of trade and manufacturing, which any other parts of the realm within the Isle of Great Britain enjoy. If so, perchance the profits of the Atlantic commerce may converge to some centre in America; to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, or to some of the isles. If so, then the natural and aritficial produce of the colonies, and in course of consequences the landed interest of the colonies, will be promoted; while the natural and artificial produce and landed interest of Great Britain will be depressed to its utter ruin and destruction; and, consequently, the balance of the power of government, although still within the realm, will be locally transferred from Great Britain to the colonies. Which consequence, however it may suit a citizen of the world, must be folly and madness to a Briton.”
My fit has gone off; and though weak, both from the gout and a concomitant and very ugly fever, I am much better. Would be glad to see you. Your friend,
DR. FRANKLIN’S ANSWER
This objection goes upon the supposition that whatever the colonies gain Britain must lose, and that if the colonies can be kept from gaining an advantage, Britain will gain it.
If the colonies are fitter for a particular trade than Britain, they should have it, and Britain apply to what it is more fit for. The whole empire is a gainer. And if Britain is not so fit or so well situated for a particular advantage, other countries will get it, if the colonies do not. Thus Ireland was forbid the woollen manufacture, and remains poor; but this has given to the French the trade and wealth Ireland might have gained for the British Empire.
The government cannot long be retained without the union. Which is best (supposing your case)—to have a total separation, or a change of the seat of government? It by no means follows that promoting and advancing the landed interest in America will depress that of Great Britain; the contrary has always been the fact. Advantageous situations and circumstances will always secure and fix manufactures. Sheffield against all Europe these three hundred years past.
ON THE PRICE OF CORN, AND MANAGEMENT OF THE POOR
In A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Economical Tracts, edited by J. R. McCulloch and printed by Lord Overstone in 1859, this from Franklin’s pen figures as one of fifteen papers on economical subjects in the collection. It first appeared in the London Chronicle, in 1766, and was written in behalf of the farmers who at that time had to contend against a violent popular prejudice.
TO THE PUBLIC
I am one of that class of people that feeds you all, and at present is abused by you all; in short, I am a farmer.
By your newspapers we are told that God had sent a very short harvest to some other countries of Europe. I thought this might be in favor of Old England; and that now we should get a good price for our grain, which would bring millions among us, and make us flow in money; that to be sure is scarce enough.
But the wisdom of government forbade the exportation.
“Well,” says I, “then we must be content with the market price at home.”
“No,” say my lords the mob, “you sha’n’t have that. Bring your corn to market if you dare; we ’ll sell it for you for less money, or take it for nothing.”
Being thus attacked by both ends of the constitution, the head and tail of government, what am I to do?
Must I keep my corn in the barn, to feed and increase the breed of rats? Be it so; they cannot be less thankful than those I have been used to feed.
Are we farmers the only people to be grudged the profits of our honest labor? And why? One of the late scribblers against us gives a bill of fare of the provisions at my daughter’s wedding, and proclaims to all the world that we had the insolence to eat beef and pudding! Has he not read the precept in the good Book, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn; or does he think us less worthy of good living than our oxen?
“O, but the manufacturers! the manufacturers! they are to be favored, and they must have bread at a cheap rate!”
Hark ye, Mr. Oaf; the farmers live splendidly, you say. And pray, would you have them hoard the money they get? Their fine clothes and furniture, do they make them themselves, or for one another, and so keep the money among them? Or do they employ these your darling manufacturers, and so scatter it again all over the nation?
The wool would produce me a better price if it were suffered to go to foreign markets; but that, Messieurs the Public, your laws will not permit. It must be kept all at home that our dear manufacturers may have it the cheaper. And then, having yourselves thus lessened our encouragement for raising sheep, you curse us for the scarcity of mutton!
I have heard my grandfather say that the farmers submitted to the prohibition on the exportation of wool, being made to expect and believe that when the manufacturer bought his wool cheaper they should also have their cloth cheaper. But the deuce a bit. It has been growing dearer and dearer from that day to this. How so? Why, truly, the cloth is exported; and that keeps up the price.
Now, if it be a good principle that the exportation of a commodity is to be restrained, that so our people at home may have it cheaper, stick to that principle, and go thorough-stitch with it. Prohibit the exportation of your cloth, your leather, and shoes, your iron ware, and your manufactures of all sorts, to make them all cheaper at home. And cheap enough they will be, I will warrant you, till people leave off making them.
Some folks seem to think they ought never to be easy till England becomes another Lubberland, where it is fancied that streets are paved with penny-rolls, the houses tiled with pancakes, and chickens, ready roasted, cry: “Come eat me.”
I say, when you are sure you have got a good principle, stick to it, and carry it through. I hear it is said that though it was necessary and right for the ministry to advise a prohibition of the exportation of corn, yet it was contrary to law; and also that it was contrary to law for the mob to obstruct wagons; yet it was necessary and right. Just the same thing to a tittle. Now they tell me an act of indemnity ought to pass in favor of the ministry to secure them from the consequences of having acted illegally. If so, pass another in favor of the mob. Others say some of the mob ought to be hanged by way of example. If so,—but I say no more than I have said before, when you are sure that you have a good principle, go through with it.
You say poor laborers cannot afford to buy bread at a high price unless they had higher wages. Possibly. But how shall we farmers be able to afford our laborers higher wages if you will not allow us to get, when we might have it, a higher price for our corn?
By all that I can learn, we should, at least, have had a guinea a quarter more if the exportation had been allowed. And this money England would have got from foreigners.
But it seems we farmers must take so much less, that the poor may have it so much cheaper.
This operates, then, as a tax for the maintenance of the poor. A very good thing you will say. But I ask: Why a partial tax? why laid on us farmers only? If it be a good thing, pray, Messieurs the Public, take your share of it by indemnifying us a little out of your public treasury. In doing a good thing there is both honor and pleasure; your are welcome to your share of both.
For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing. I am for doing good to the poor; but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is, not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and, of course, became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many almshouses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations are our poor modest, humble, and thankful? And do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health for support in age or sickness.
In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder, that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. Saint Monday and Saint Tuesday will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.
Excuse me, Messieurs the Public, if, upon this interesting subject, I put you to the trouble of reading a little of my nonsense. I am sure I have lately read a great deal of yours, and therefore from you (at least from those of you who are writers) I deserve a little indulgence.
I am yours, &c.,
THE RIGHT OF IMPRESSING SEAMEN
REMARKS ON JUDGE FOSTER’S ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF THE RIGHT.
Page 157. “The only question at present is, whether mariners, persons who have freely chosen a seafaring life, persons whose education and employment have fitted them for the service, and inured them to it, whether such persons may not be legally pressed into the service of the crown, whenever the public safety requireth it; ne quid detrimenti respublica capiat.
“For my part, I think they may. I think the crown hath a right to command the service of these people whenever the public safety calleth for it. The same right that it hath to require the personal service of every man able to bear arms in case of a sudden invasion or formidable insurrection. The right in both cases is founded on one and the same principle, the necessity of the case in order to the preservation of the whole.”
The conclusion here, from the whole to a part, does not seem to be good logic. When the personal service of every man is called for, there the burthen is equal. Not so, when the service of part is called for, and others excused. If the alphabet should say, Let us all fight for the defence of the whole; that is equal, and may therefore be just. But if they should say, Let A, B, C, and D go and fight for us, while we stay at home and sleep in whole skins; that is not equal, and therefore cannot be just.
Page 158. “It would be time very ill spent to go about to prove that this nation can never be long in a state of safety, our coast defended, and our trade protected, without a naval force equal to all the emergencies that may happen. And how can we be secure of such a force? The keeping up the same naval force in time of peace, which will be absolutely necessary for our security in time of war, would be an absurd, a fruitless, and a ruinous expense. The only course then left, is for the crown to employ, upon emergent occasions, the mariners bred up in the merchant’s service.”
Employ—if you please. The word signifies engaging a man to work for me by offering him such wages as are sufficient to induce him to prefer my service. This is very different from compelling him to work for me on such terms as I think proper.
“And as for the mariner himself, he, when taken into the service of the crown, only changeth masters for a time; his service and employment continue the very same, with this advantage, that the dangers of the sea and enemy are not so great in the service of the crown as in that of the merchant.”
These are false facts. His service and employment are not the same. Under the merchant, he goes in an unarmed vessel not obliged to fight, but only to transport merchandise. In the king’s service, he is obliged to fight, and to hazard all the dangers of battle. Sickness on board the king’s ships is also more common and more mortal. The merchant’s service too he can quit at the end of a voyage, not the king’s. Also the merchant’s wages are much higher.
“I am very sensible of the hardship the sailor suffereth from an impress in some particular cases, especially if pressed homeward-bound after a long voyage. But the merchants who hear me know that an impress on outward-bound vessels would be attended with much greater inconveniences to the trade of the kingdom; and yet that too is sometimes necessary.”
Here are two things put in comparison that are not comparable, viz.: injury to seamen and inconvenience to trade. Inconvenience to the whole trade of a nation will not justify injustice to a single seaman. If the trade would suffer without his service, it is able and ought to be willing to offer him such wages as may induce him to afford his services voluntarily.
“But where two evils present, a wise administration, if there be room for an option, will choose the least.”
The least evil, in case seamen are wanted, is to give them such wages as will induce them to enlist voluntarily. Let this evil be divided among the whole nation, by an equal tax to pay such wages.
Page 159. “War itself is a great evil, but it is chosen to avoid a greater. The practice of pressing is one of the mischiefs war bringeth with it. But it is a maxim in law, and good policy too, that private mischiefs must be borne with patience for preventing a national calamity.”
Where is this maxim in law and good policy to be found? And how came that to be a maxim, which is not consistent with common sense? If the maxim had been, that private mischiefs which prevent a national calamity ought to be generously compensated by that nation, one might have understood it. But that such private mischiefs are only to be borne with patience is absurd.
“And as no greater calamity can befall us than to be weak and defenceless at sea in a time of war, so I do not know that the wisdom of the nation hath hitherto found out any method of manning our navy less inconvenient than pressing, and, at the same time, equally sure and effectual.”
Less inconvenient to whom? To the rich, indeed, who ought to be taxed. No mischief more inconvenient to poor seamen could possibly be contrived.
“The expedient of a voluntary register, which was attempted in King William’s time, had no effect. And some late schemes I have seen, appear to me more inconvenient to the mariner, and more inconsistent with the principles of liberty, than the practice of pressing; and, what is still worse, they are in my opinion totally impracticable.”
Twenty ineffectual or inconvenient schemes will not justify one that is unjust.
“The crown’s right of impressing seaman is grounded upon common law.”
If impressing seamen is of right by common law in Britain, slavery is then of right by common law there; there being no slavery worse than that sailors are subjected to.
“The result of evident necessity.”
Pressing not so, if the end might be answered by giving higher wages.
Page 160. “There are many precedents of writs for pressing. Some are for pressing ships; others for pressing mariners; and others for pressing ships and mariners. This general view will be sufficient to let us into the nature of these precedents. And though the affair of pressing ships is not now before me, yet I could not well avoid mentioning it, because many of the precedents I have met with and must cite, go as well to that, as to the business of pressing mariners. And, taken together, they serve to show the power the crown hath constantly exercised over the whole naval force of the kingdom, as well shipping as mariners, whenever the public service required it. This however must be observed, that no man served the crown in either case at his own expense. Masters and mariners received full wages, and owners were constantly paid a full freight.”
Full wages. Probably the same they received in the merchant’s service. Full wages to a seaman in time of war, are wages he has in the merchant’s service in war time. But half such wages is not given in the king’s ship to impressed seamen.
Page 173. “Do not these things incontestably presuppose the expediency, the necessity, and the legality of an impress in general? If they do not, one must entertain an opinion of the legislature acting and speaking in this manner, which it will not be decent for me to mention in this place.”
I will risk that indecency, and mention it. They were not honest men; they acted unjustly by the seamen (who have no vote in elections, or being abroad cannot use them if they have them), to save their own purses and those of their constituents. Former Parliaments acted the same injustice towards the laboring people, who had not forty shillings a year in lands; after depriving them wickedly of their right to vote in elections, they limited their wages, and compelled them to work at such limited rates, on penalty of being sent to houses of correction. Sec. 8, H. vi., Chaps. 7 and 8.
Page 174. “I readily admit that an impress is a restraint upon the natural liberty of those who are liable to it. But it must likewise be admitted, on the other hand, that every restraint upon natural liberty is not eo nomine illegal, or at all inconsistent with the principles of civil liberty. And if the restraint, be it to what degree soever, appeareth to be necessary to the good and welfare of the whole, and to be warranted by statute law, as well as immemorial usage, it cannot be complained of otherwise than as a private mischief; which, as I said at the beginning, must under all governments whatsoever be submitted to for avoiding a public inconvenience.”
I do not see the propriety of this must. The private mischief is the loss of liberty and the hazard of life, with only half wages, to a great number of honest men. The public inconvenience is merely a higher rate of seamen’s wages. He who thinks such private injustice must be done to avoid public inconvenience, may understand law, but seems imperfect in his knowledge of equity. Let us apply this author’s doctrine to his own case. It is for the public service that courts should be had and judges appointed to administer the laws. The judges should be bred to the law and skilled in it, but their great salaries are a public inconvenience. To remove the inconvenience, let press-warrants issue to arrest and apprehend the best lawyers, and compel them to serve as judges for half the money they would have made at the bar. Then tell them that, though this is to them a private mischief, it must be submitted to for avoiding a public inconvenience. Would the learned judge approve such use of his doctrine?
When the author speaks of impressing, page 158, he diminishes the horror of the practice as much as possible, by presenting to the mind one sailor only suffering a hardship as he tenderly calls it, in some particular cases only; and he places against this private mischief the inconvenience to the trade of the kingdom. But if, as I suppose is often the case, the sailor who is pressed and obliged to serve for the defence of this trade at the rate of 25s. a month, could have £3 15s. in the merchant’s service, you take from him 50s. a month; and if you have 100,000 in your service, you rob that honest part of society and their poor families of £250,000 per month, or three millions a year, and at the same time oblige them to hazard their lives in fighting for the defence of your trade; to the defence of which all ought indeed to contribute (and sailors among the rest) in proportion to their profits by it; but this three millions is more than their share, if they did not pay with their persons; and, when you force that, methinks you should excuse the other.
But it may be said, to give the king’s seamen merchant’s wages would cost the nation too much, and call for more taxes. The question then will amount to this: whether it be just in a community that the richer part should compel the poorer to fight for them and their properties, for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refuse? Our author tells us it is legal. I have not law enough to dispute his authority, but I cannot persuade myself it is equitable. I will however own for the present, that pressing may be lawful when necessary; but then I contend that it may be used so as to produce the same good effect, the public security, without doing so much horrible injustice as attends the impressing common seamen. In order to be better understood, I would premise two things. First, that voluntary seamen might be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof of this is, that to serve in the same ships, and incur the same dangers, you have no occasion to impress captains, lieutenants, second lieutenants, midshipmen, pursers, nor any other officers. Why, but that the profit of their places, or the emoluments expected, are sufficient inducements? The business then is by impressing to find money sufficient to make the sailors all volunteers, as well as their officers; and this without any fresh burthen upon trade. The second of my premises is, that 25s. a month, with his share of the salt beef, pork, and pease-pudding, being found sufficient for the subsistence of a hard-working seaman, it will certainly be so for a sedentary scholar or gentleman. I would then propose to form a treasury, out of which encouragement to seamen should be paid. To fill this treasury I would impress a number of civil officers who at present have great salaries, oblige them to serve in their respective offices for 25s. per month, with their share of the mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seaman’s treasury. If such a press-warrant was given me to execute, the first person I would press should be a recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying example, to show how such impressing ought to be borne with; for he would certainly find that, though to be reduced to 25s. per month might be a private mischief, yet that, agreeably to his maxim of law and good policy, it ought to be borne with patience for preventing a national calamity. Then I would press the rest of the judges; and, opening the Red Book, I would press every civil officer of government from £50 a year up to £50,000, which would throw an immense sum into our treasury; and these gentlemen could not well complain, since they would receive their 25s. a month and their rations, and that too without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress the king, and confiscate his salary; but, from an ancient prejudice I have in favor of that title, I would allow him the gentleman merchant’s pay. I could not go farther in his favor; for, to say the truth, I am not quite satisfied of the necessity or utility of that office in Great Britain, as I see many flourishing states in the world governed well and happy without it.
Page 177. “For I freely declare that ancient precedents alone, unless supported by modern practice, weigh very little with me in questions of this nature.”
The modern practice, supported by ancient precedents, weigh as little with me. Both the one and the other only show that the constitution is yet imperfect, since in so general a case it doth not secure liberty, but destroys it; and the parliaments are unjust, conniving at oppression of the poor, where the rich are to be gainers or savers by such oppression.
Page 179. “I make no apology for the length of my argument, because I hope the importance of the question will be thought a sufficient excuse for me in this respect.”
The author could not well have made his argument shorter. It required a long discourse to throw dust in the eyes of common sense, confound all our ideas of right and wrong, make black seem white, and the worse appear the better opinion.
VINDICATION OF THE PROVINCIAL PAPER-MONEY SYSTEM.
In the Report of the Board of Trade, dated February 9, 1764, the following reasons are given for restraining the emission of paper bills of credit in America as a legal tender.
1. “That it carries the gold and silver out of the province, and so ruins the country; as experience has shown in every colony where it has been practised in any great degree.
2. “That the merchants trading to America have suffered and lost by it.
3. “That the restriction has had a beneficial effect in New England.
4. “That every medium of trade should have an intrinsic value, which paper money has not. Gold and silver are therefore the fittest for this medium, as they are an equivalent, which paper never can be.
5. “That debtors, in the Assemblies, make paper money with fraudulent views.
6. “That in the middle colonies, where the credit of the paper money has been best supported, the bills have never kept to their nominal value in circulation, but have constantly depreciated to a certain degree, whenever the quantity has been increased.”
To consider these reasons in their order, the first is:
First. “That paper money carries the gold and silver out of the province, and so ruins the country; as experience has shown in every colony where it has been practised in any great degree.” This opinion of its ruining the country seems to be merely speculative, or not otherwise founded than upon misinformation in the matter of fact. The truth is, that the balance of their trade with Britain being greatly against them, the gold and silver is drawn out to pay that balance; and then the necessity of some medium of trade has induced the making of paper money, which could not be carried away. Thus, if carrying out all the gold and silver ruins a country, every colony was ruined before it made paper money. But, far from being ruined by it, the colonies that have made use of paper money have been, and are, all in a thriving condition. The debt indeed to Britain has increased, because their members, and of course their trade, have increased; for, all trade having always a proportion of debt outstanding, which is paid in its turn, while fresh debt is contracted, the proportion of debt naturally increases as the trade increases; but the improvement and increase of estates in the colonies has been in a greater proportion than their debt.
New England, particularly, in 1696 (about the time they began the use of paper money), had, in all its four provinces, but one hundred and thirty churches or congregations; in 1760 they were five hundred and thirty. The number of farms and buildings there is increased in proportion to the numbers of people; and the goods exported to them from England in 1750, before the restraint took place, were near five time as much as before they had paper money. Pennsylvania, before it made any paper money, was totally stript of its gold and silver; though they had, from time to time, like the neighbouring colonies, agreed to take gold and silver coin at higher and higher nominal values, in hopes of drawing money into, and retaining it for the internal uses of, the province. During that weak practice, silver got up by degrees to 8s. 9d. per ounce, and English crowns were called six, seven, and eight shilling pieces, long before paper money was made. But this practice of increasing the denomination was found not to answer the end. The balance of trade carried out the gold and silver as fast as it was brought in, the merchants raising the price of their goods in proportion to the increased denomination of the money. The difficulties for want of cash were accordingly very great, the chief part of the trade being carried on by the extremely inconvenient method of barter; when, in 1723, paper money was first made there, which gave new life to business, promoted greatly the settlement of new lands (by lending small sums to beginners on easy interest, to be repaid by instalments), whereby the province has so greatly increased in inhabitants, that the export from hence thither is now more than tenfold what it then was; and, by their trade with foreign colonies, they have been able to obtain great quantities of gold and silver, to remit hither in return for the manufactures of this country. New York and New Jersey have also increased greatly during the same period, with the use of paper money; so that it does not appear to be of the ruinous nature ascribed to it. And if the inhabitants of those countries are glad to have the use of paper among themselves, that they may thereby be enabled to spare, for remittances hither, the gold and silver they obtain by their commerce with foreigners, one would expect that no objection against their parting with it could arise here, in the country that receives it.
The second reason is: “That the merchants trading to America have suffered and lost by the paper money.” This may have been the case in particular instances, at particular times and places; as in South Carolina about fifty-eight years since, when the colony was thought in danger of being destroyed by the Indians and Spaniards; and the British merchants, in fear of losing their whole effects there, called precipitately for remittances; and the inhabitants, to get something lodged in safe countries, gave any price in paper money for bills of exchange; where by the paper, as compared with bills, or with produce, or other effects fit for exportation, was suddenly and greatly depreciated.
The unsettled state of government for a long time in that province had also its share in depreciating its bills. But since that danger blew over, and the colony has been in the hands of the crown, their currency became fixed, and has so remained to this day. Also in New England, when much greater quantities were issued than were necessary for a medium of trade, to defray the expedition against Louisburg; and during the last war in Virginia and North Carolina, when great sums were issued to pay the colony troops, and the war made tobacco a poorer remittance, from the higher price of freight and insurance; in these cases, the merchants trading to those colonies may sometimes have suffered by the sudden and unforeseen rise of exchange. By slow and gradual rises they seldom suffer; the goods being sold at proportionable prices. But war is a common calamity in all countries, and the merchants that deal with them cannot expect to avoid a share of the losses it sometimes occasions, by affecting public credit. It is hoped, however, that the profits of their subsequent commerce with those colonies may have made them some reparation. And the merchants trading to the middle colonies (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) have never suffered by any rise of exchange; it having ever been a constant rule there to consider British debts as payable in Britain, and not to be discharged but by as much paper (whatever might be the rate of exchange) as would purchase a bill for the full sterling sum. On the contrary, the merchants have been great gainers by the use of paper money in those colonies; as it enabled them to send much greater quantities of goods, and the purchasers to pay more punctually for them. And the people there make no complaint of any injury done them by paper money, with a legal tender; they are sensible of its benefits, and petition to have it so allowed.
The third reason is: “That the restriction has had a beneficial effect in New England.” Particular circumstances in the New England colonies made paper money less necessary and less convenient to them. They have great and valuable fisheries of whale and cod, by which large remittances can be made. They are four distinct governments; but having much mutual intercourse of dealings, the money of each used to pass current in all. But the whole of this common currency, not being under one common direction, was not so easily kept within due bounds; the prudent reserve of one colony in its emissions being rendered useless by excess in another. The Massachusetts therefore were not dissatisfied with the restraint, as it restrained their neighbours as well as themselves; and perhaps they do not desire to have the act repealed. They have not yet felt much inconvenience from it; as they were enabled to abolish their paper currency by a large sum in silver from Britain, to reimburse their expenses in taking Louisburg; which, with the gold brought from Portugal, by means of their fish, kept them supplied with a currency, till the late war furnished them and all America with bills of exchange, so that little cash was needed for remittance. Their fisheries, too, furnish them with remittances through Spain and Portugal to England; which enables them the more easily to retain gold and silver in their country. The middle colonies have not this advantage; nor have they tobacco, which, in Virginia and Maryland, answers the same purpose. When colonies are so different in their circumstances, a regulation, that is not inconvenient to one or a few, may be very much so to the rest. But the pay is now become so indifferent in New England, at least in some of its provinces, through the want of currency, that the trade thither is at present under great discouragement.
The fourth reason is: “That every medium of trade should have an intrinsic value, which paper money has not. Gold and silver are therefore the fittest for this medium, as they are an equivalent which paper never can be.” However fit a particular thing may be for a particular purpose, wherever that thing is not to be had in sufficient quantity, it becomes necessary to use something else, the fittest that can be got in lieu of it. Gold and silver are not the produce of North America, which has no mines; and that which is brought thither cannot be kept there in sufficient quantity for currency. Britain, an independent, great state, when its inhabitants grow too fond of the expensive luxuries of foreign countries, that draw away its money, can, and frequently does, make laws to prohibit or discourage such importations; and, by that means, can retain its cash.
The colonies are dependent governments; and their people, having naturally great respect for the sovereign country, and being thence immoderately fond of its modes, manufactures, and superfluities, cannot be restrained from purchasing them by any province law; because such law, if made, would immediately be repealed here, as prejudicial to the trade and interest of Britain. It seems hard, therefore, to draw all their real money from them, and then refuse them the poor privilege of using paper instead of it. Bank bills and bankers’ notes are daily used here as a medium of trade, and in large dealings perhaps the greater part is transacted by their means; and yet they have no intrinsic value, but rest on the credit of those that issue them, as paper bills in the colonies do on the credit of the respective governments there. Their being payable in cash, upon sight, by the drawer, is indeed a circumstance that cannot attend the colony bills, for the reasons just above mentioned, their cash being drawn from them by the British trade. But the legal tender, being substituted in its place, is rather a greater advantage to the possessor; since he need not be at the trouble of going to a particular bank or banker to demand the money, finding (wherever he has occasion to lay out money in the province) a person that is obliged to take the bills. So that, even out of the province, the knowledge that every man within that province is obliged to take its money, gives the bills a credit among its neighbours, nearly equal to what they have at home. And, were it not for the laws here [in England], that restrain or prohibit as much as possible all losing trades, the cash of this country would soon be exported. Every merchant who had occasion to remit it would run to the bank with all its bills that came into his hands, and take out his part of its treasure for that purpose; so that, in a short time, it would be no more able to pay bills in money upon sight, than it is now in the power of a colony treasury so to do. And if government afterwards should have occasion for the credit of the bank, it must of necessity make its bills a legal tender; funding them however on taxes, by which they may in time be paid off; as has been the general practice in the colonies.
At this very time even the silver money in England is obliged to the legal tender for part of its value; that part which is the difference between its real weight and its denomination. Great part of the shillings and sixpences now current are, by wearing, become five, ten, twenty, and some of the sixpences even fifty per cent. too light. For this difference between the real and the nominal, you have no intrinsic value; you have not so much as paper, you have nothing. It is the legal tender, with the knowledge that it can easily be repassed for the same value, that makes three-pennyworth of silver pass for sixpence. Gold and silver have undoubtedly some properties that give them a fitness above paper as a medium of exchange; particularly their universal estimation; especially in cases where a country has occasion to carry its money abroad, either as a stock to trade with, or to purchase allies and foreign succours; otherwise that very universal estimation is an inconvenience which paper money is free from; since it tends to deprive a country of even the quantity of currency that should be retained as a necessary instrument of its internal commerce, and obliges it to be continually on its guard in making and executing, at great expense, the laws that are to prevent the trade which exports it.
Paper money well funded has another great advantage over gold and silver—its lightness of carriage and the little room that is occupied by a great sum; whereby it is capable of being more easily and more safely, because more privately, conveyed from place to place. Gold and silver are not intrinsically of equal value with iron, a metal in itself capable of many more beneficial uses to mankind. Their value rests chiefly in the estimation they happen to be in among the generality of nations, and the credit given to the opinion that that estimation will continue. Otherwise a pound of gold would not be a real equivalent for even a bushel of wheat. Any other well-founded credit is as much an equivalent as gold and silver, and in some cases more so, or it would not be preferred by commercial people in different countries. Not to mention again our own bank bills, Holland, which understands the value of cash as well as any people in the world, would never part with gold and silver for credit (as they do when they put it in their bank, from whence little of it is ever afterwards drawn out) if they did not think and find the credit a full equivalent.
The fifth reason is: “That debtors, in the Assemblies, make paper money with fraudulent views.” This is often said by the adversaries of paper money, and if it has been the case in any particular colony, that colony should, on proof of the fact, be duly punished. This, however, would be no reason for punishing other colonies, who have not so abused their legislative powers. To deprive all the colonies of the convenience of paper money, because it has been charged on some of them that they have made it an instrument of fraud, is as if all the India, bank, and other stocks and trading companies were to be abolished, because there have been, once in an age, Mississippi and South Sea schemes and bubbles.
The sixth and last reason is: “That in the middle colonies, where the credit of the paper money has been best supported, the bills have never kept to their nominal value in circulation, but have constantly depreciated to a certain degree, whenever the quantity has been increased.” If the rising of the value of any particular commodity wanted for exportation is to be considered as a depreciation of the values of whatever remains in the country, then the rising of silver above paper to that height of additional value, which its capability of exportation only gave, it may be called a depreciation of the paper. Even here, as bullion has been wanted or not wanted for exportation, its price has varied from 5s. 2d. to 5s. 8d. per ounce. This is near ten per cent. But was it ever said or thought on such an occasion that all the bank bills, and all the coined silver, and all the gold in the kingdom, were depreciated ten per cent.? Coined silver is now wanted here for change, and one per cent. is given for it by some bankers; are gold and bank notes therefore depreciated one per cent.?
The fact in the middle colonies is really this: On the emission of the first paper money a difference soon arose between that and silver; the latter having a property the former had not, a property always in demand in the colonies, to wit, its being fit for a remittance. This property having soon found its value by the merchants bidding on one another for it, and a dollar thereby coming to be rated at eight shillings in paper money of New York, and 7s. 6d. in paper of Pennsylvania, it has continued uniformly at those rates in both provinces now near forty years without any variation upon new emissions, though in Pennsylvania the paper currency has at times increased from £15,000, the first sum, to £600,000, or near it. Nor has any alteration been occasioned by the paper money in the price of the necessaries of life when compared with silver. They have been for the greatest part of the time no higher than before it was emitted, varying only by plenty and scarcity, according to the seasons, or by a less or greater foreign demand. It has indeed been usual with the adversaries of a paper currency to call every rise of exchange with London a depreciation of the paper; but this notion appears to be by no means just; for if the paper purchases every thing but bills of exchange at the former rate, and these bills are not above one tenth of what is employed in purchases, then it may be more properly and truly said that the exchange has risen than that the paper has depreciated. And as a proof of this, it is a certain fact that whenever in those colonies bills of exchange have been dearer, the purchaser has been constantly obliged to give more in silver, as well as in paper, for them, the silver having gone hand in hand with the paper at the rate above mentioned; and therefore it might as well have been said that the silver was depreciated.
There have been several different schemes for furnishing the colonies with paper money, that should not be a legal tender, viz.:
1.To form a bank, in imitation of the Bank of England,with a sufficient stock of cash to pay the bills on sight.
This has been often proposed, but appears impracticable, under the present circumstances of the colony trade; which, as is said above, draws all the cash to Britian, and would soon strip the bank.
2.To raise a fund by some yearly tax, securely lodged in the bank of England as it arises, which should (during the term of years for which the paper bills are to be current) accumulate to a sum sufficient to discharge them all at their original value.
This has been tried in Maryland; and the bills so funded were issued without being made a general legal tender. The event was that, as notes payable in time are naturally subject to a discount proportioned to the time, so these bills fell at the beginning of the term so low, as that twenty pounds of them became worth no more than twelve pounds in Pennsylvania, the next neighbouring province; though both had been struck near the same time, at the same nominal value, but the latter was supported by the general legal tender. The Maryland bills, however, began to rise as the term shortened, and towards the end recovered their full value. But, as a depreciating currency injures creditors, this injured debtors; and, by its continually changing value, appears unfit for the purpose of money, which should be as fixed as possible in its own value; because it is to be the measure of the value of other things.
3.To make the bills carry an interest sufficient to support their value.
This too has been tried in some of the New England colonies; but great inconvenience was found to attend it. The bills, to fit them for a currency, are made of various denominations; and some very low, for the sake of change; there are of them from £10 down to 3d. When they first come abroad, they pass easily, and answer the purpose well enough for a few months; but as soon as the interest becomes worth computing, the calculation of it on every little bill, in a sum between the dealer and his customers in shops, warehouses, and markets, takes up much time, to the great hindrance of business. This evil, however, soon gave place to a worse; for the bills were in a short time gathered up and hoarded; it being a very tempting advantage to have money bearing interest, and the principal all the while in a man’s power, ready for bargains that may offer; which money out on mortgage is not. By this means numbers of people became usurers with small sums, who could not have found persons to take such sums of them upon interest, giving good security; and would therefore not have thought of it; but would rather have employed the money in some business, if it had been money of the common kind. Thus trade, instead of being increased by such bills, is diminished; and by their being shut up in chests, the very end of making them (viz., to furnish a medium of commerce) is in a great measure, if not totally, defeated.
On the whole, no method has hitherto been formed to establish a medium of trade, in lieu of money, equal, in all its advantages, to bills of credit, funded on sufficient taxes for discharging it, or on land security of double the value for repaying it at the end of the term, and in the meantime made a general legal tender. The experience of now near half a century in the middle colonies has convinced them of it among themselves, by the great increase of their settlements, numbers, buildings, improvements, agriculture, shipping, and commerce, And the same experience has satisfied the British merchants, who trade thither, that it has been greatly useful to them, and not in a single instance prejudicial.
It is therefore hoped that, securing the full discharge of British debts, which are payable here, and in all justice and reason ought to be fully discharged here, in sterling money, the restraint on the legal tender within the colonies will be taken off; at least for those colonies that desire it, and where the merchants trading to them make no objection to it.
Examination of Dr. Franklin in the British House of Commons. See vol. iv., p. 171.
Among Dr. Franklin’s manuscripts is a paper, entitled “A Plan of Union by Admitting Representatives from the American Colonies and from Ireland into the British Parliament.” It is not in his handwriting, and it appears to have been communicated to him by some other person. The following is an outline of the scheme:
For the House of Commons.
|Massachusetts Bay, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Jamaica, each four||20|
|New York, Maryland, Canada, each three||9|
|Connecticut, New Jersey, each two||4|
|New Hampshire, Nova Scotia, Rhode Island, Lower Counties of Pennsylvania, Georgia, West Florida, East Florida, North Carolina, each one||8|
|Barbadoes, Antigua, St. Christopher’s, Bahamas, each one||4|
|Bermuda, Montserrat, Nevis, each to choose in rotation for the whole||1|
|Newfoundland and St. John’s||1|
|Dominica, St. Vincent’s, and Tobago||1|
For the House of Commons.
|Each Province, four members||16|
|Cork, Kinsale, Waterford, Limerick, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Wexford, one each||7|
|Dundalk, Drogheda, Younghale||2|
|Galway, Belfast, Londonderry, one each||3|
|Lords for the principal Provinces and Islands, as soon as found convenient, to be created by the royal prerogative||10|
|A proportionate number of Lords, to be elected by the Irish Lords from among themselves||10|
|Making in the whole||100|
The mode of election in the colonies was to be left to the Assemblies. Provision was to be made, also, that neither the colonies nor Ireland should be taxed for protection and defence separately or apart from England; and that the revenue arising from the regulations of colonial trade should be exclusively appropriated to the particular uses of the colonies, for the purpose of defraying the expenses of civil government and other colonial charges.—See infra,
Letter to John Ross, Dec. 13th.
Mr. Tytler, in a note on this letter, after stating the views of Lord Kames on the controversy between Great Britain and the colonies, says: “But, if such were the sentiments of Lord Kames on the question of right between Britain and her colonies, it appears that, on viewing the matter in the light of expediency, he had very early formed an opinion that, in the relative situation of the two countries, and looking to the probable chance of increasing animosities, and matters being driven to extremity, either by the erring policy or factious views of some of the leaders in both, it would be a wise measure in the British government to waive the question of strict right, and to consent freely to a consolidating union with America, by giving that country a full representation in Parliament. On this subject he had written to Dr. Franklin as early as the end of the year 1765, at the time when the first intelligence arrived in this country of the disorders occasioned by the attempts to carry the Stamp Act into execution; and he had written a second letter to him on the same subject, in the beginning of 1767. Dr. Franklin’s answer to these letters is extremely interesting, and affords a striking specimen of the profound sagacity and foresight of that extraordinary man.”
Mr. Tytler adds: “This excellent letter, as appears by a subsequent one, from the same hand, was in all probability intercepted, as it was not received by Lord Kames in the regular course of communication. Dr. Franklin, however, having preserved a copy, transmitted it two years afterwards to his correspondent. The opinions it conveyed were thus probably well known to the persons at the head of administration. It had been happy, if they had paid them that attention which the wisdom of the counsels they contained deserved.”—Tytler’s Life of Lord Kames, vol. ii., 2d ed., pp. 99, 112.
In the month of October, 1766, Mr. Galloway was chosen Speaker of the Assembly, in which office he continued till the beginning of the Revolution.
Besides the offence given to the government by the legislature of New York, in refusing to provide for quartering soldiers, the merchants of the city of New York petitioned for the repeal of the acts of Parliament restraining the trade of the colonies. The petition was presented to Parliament and read, but was then ordered to lie on the table, and no further notice was taken of it. The conduct of the New Yorkers, on both these accounts, raised against them a great outcry in England; and Franklin, according to his custom in such cases, endeavored to quiet the clamor and vindicate his countrymen, by an accurate representation of the circumstances in the public papers. Among his manuscripts has been found a fragment of an article, which seems to relate to this occasion, signed “A Friend to Both Parties.” The closing part only remains, and is as follows.
“—— or refuses to comply with an act of Parliament, is a rebel, I am afraid we have many more rebels among us than we are aware of; among others, they that have not registered the weights of their plate, and paid the duty, are all rebels; and these, I think, are not a few; to whom may be added the acting rebels that wear French silks and cambrics.
As to the petition mentioned above, I have been informed it is from a number of private persons, merchants of New York, stating their opinion, that several restraints in the acts of trade, laid on the commerce of the colonies, are not only prejudicial to the colonies, but to the mother country. They give their reasons for this opinion. These reasons are to be judged of here. If they are found to be good, and supported by facts, one would think that, instead of censure, those merchants might deserve thanks. If otherwise, the petition may be laid aside. Petitioning is not rebellion. The very nature of a petition acknowledges the power it petitions to, and the subjection of the petitioner.
But, in party views, molehills are often magnified to mountains; and when the wolf is determined on a quarrel with the lamb, up stream or down stream is all one. Pretences are easily found or made. Reason and justice are out of the question.”
Samuel Franklin was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, who was Dr. Franklin’s uncle, and after whom he was named.
Mr. Benjamin West, the painter.
Sally did not go to England, as is here proposed, but was married to Mr. Richard Bache on the 29th of October following. She was then twenty-three years old, having been born September 11, 1744. She was Dr. Franklin’s only daughter. Among her descendants have been several representative men and women.
The bones referred to in this letter were presented by Dr. Franklin to the Royal Society. See the Philosophical Transactions (vol. lvii., p. 464).
Probably the piece entitled Causes of the American Discontent before 1768. See infra.
The subject here introduced and frequently mentioned in letters to his son, relates to an application by a company to the crown for the grant of a tract of land, called Walpole’s Grant, west of the Alleghanies, with the design of establishing a colony there. See infra.
Franklin visited Paris twice before he went there in an official character, once in 1767 and again in 1769. He wrote but little about either trip, save what we find in this letter. He was no exception to the rule that a man is never so ready to pronounce definite judgments upon a country, or so confident of their soundness, as during the first week after his arrival in it.
This letter was found in the London Chronicle, for November 24th, 1767, and is addressed to the printer of that newspaper.
Alluding to the British taxes on carriage-wheels and on plate.—Duane.
This was the new Board of Commissioners of Customs established by a late act of Parliament for the colonies. The board was fixed at Boston, and was particularly odious to the colonists, as it seemed to be a part of the system of parliamentary taxation. The commissioners were Charles Paxton, Henry Hutton, William Burch, John Temple, and John Robinson. The three first arrived in Boston in the beginning of November; the two last were already there.
John Williams was inspector-general of the customs.
This charge, with others, was made against Dr. Franklin by Dean Tucker in his publications, particularly in his Four Tracts.—See vol. vi., Feb. 12, 1774.
See letter to Lord Kames, April 11, 1767.
These resolutions were passed on the 28th of Oct., and recommended that all prudent and legal measures should be taken to encourage the produce and manufactures of the province, to lessen the use of superfluities, and refrain from purchasing a great number of imported articles.
This piece was published January 7, 1768.—See Infra.
It is not necessary to repeat in what degree Dr. Franklin respected the ministers to whom he alludes. The embargo upon corn was but a single measure, which, it is enough to say, a host of politicians thought well advised, but ill defended. Of the great and honorable services of the Earl of Chatham to his country, Dr. Franklin has borne the amplest testimony.—B. V.
It should be borne in mind that this paper was published nine years before Dr. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and eight years before Smith visited Paris and made the acquaintance of the economists of the French capital, by whose writings and conversation it is generally supposed that his attention was first specially directed to those studies and reflections which finally gave birth to the Wealth of Nations.—Editor.
These remarks were written in pencil on the margin of Judge Foster’s Report, in which was contained his argument respecting the impressment of seamen. The references are to the edition of 1762.
Mr. Vaughan says, in his edition of the author’s writings: “The best account I can give of the occasion of the Report, to which this paper is a reply, is as follows: During the war there had been a considerable and unusual trade to America, in consequence of the great fleets and armies on foot there, and the clandestine dealings with the enemy, who were cut off from their own supplies. This made great debts. The briskness of the trade ceasing with the war, the merchants were anxious for payment; which occasioned some confusion in the colonies, and stirred up a clamor here against paper money. The Board of Trade, of which Lord Hillsborough was the chief, joined in this opposition to paper money, as appears by the Report. Dr. Franklin, being asked to draw up an answer to their report, wrote the following paper.”
“It is to be observed that he vindicates the system on the ground of its absolute necessity, as the means of a supply of a circulating medium. The existence of such necessity is then the main question. The suppression of the paper currency in Massachusetts, in 1747, in pursuance of Hutchinson’s proposal, and its suppression in the other New England provinces, afford very strong grounds of argument against the existence of any such necessity, notwithstanding the difference in the circumstances of the middle provinces, from those of the New England provinces, pointed out by Franklin in this paper; since, after all, the cause imagined for this necessity, namely, the excessive importations, the constantly outstanding balance due to the British merchants, and the consequent remittances of specie, existed no less in New England than in the middle provinces. It may be gravely doubted whether the operation of these causes was so different in the different provinces as Franklin supposes.”—W. Phillips.
Perhaps Dr. Franklin had not at that time read what Sir James Stewart says of the Amsterdam bank re-issuing its money.—B. V.
I understand that Dr. Franklin is the friend who assisted Governor Pownall in drawing up a plan for a general paper currency for America, to be established by the British government. See Pownall’s Administration of the Colonies, 5th edition, pp. 199, 208.—B. V.
The paper money first issued by the colonial Assemblies was made a legal tender. The excessive issues in some of the colonies caused a great depreciation in the value of the bills, and thus produced mischievous consequences. To remedy the evil, an act of Parliament was passed, prohibiting the colonies from issuing any more paper money, which should be a legal tender. At the same time that this act removed one difficulty, it raised up another. In the fluctuating state of things in the colonies, the credit of the bills could not be sustained in any degree, unless the people were required to take them at their actual value. It then became a matter of importance, that Parliament should provide some means for giving stability to a paper currency in the colonies. Governor Pownall, in conjunction with Dr. Franklin, proposed a plan for this object. Speaking of this proposal, Governor Pownall says: “So far am I from assuming any merit in the invention or framing of it, that I desire it may be considered as founded on what hath been actually practised in Pennsylvania, by the good sense and good policy of the Assembly of that province, with success and with benefit to the public; that the particular proposal as it is now formed, and applied to the present exigencies of America and Great Britain, was drawn up some years ago, in conjunction with a friend of mine and of the colonies. It was, by us, jointly proposed to government, under successive administrations, in the years 1764, 1765, 1766, during which time the publication was suspended.”
The principal outlines of this plan were, that bills of credit to a certain amount should be printed in England, for the use of the colonies; that a loan-office should be erected in each colony to issue bills, take securities, and receive the payments; that the bills should be issued for ten years, bearing interest at five per cent., one tenth part of the sum borrowed to be paid annually, with the interest; and that they should be a legal tender.