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CCCVI: TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. IV (Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768).
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TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN
London, 19 December, 1767.
The resolutions of the Boston people concerning trade make a great noise here.1 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.2
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.,
[1 ]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.
[2 ]This piece was published January 7, 1768.—See Infra.