Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1768: CCCXI: TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768
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1768: CCCXI: 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, 9 January, 1768.
We have had so many alarms of changes which did not take place, that just when I wrote it was thought the ministry would stand their ground. However, immediately after, the talk was renewed, and it soon appeared that the Sunday changes were actually settled. Mr. Conway resigns and Lord Weymouth takes his place. Lord Gower is made President of the Council in the room of Lord Northington. Lord Shelburne is stripped of the American business, which is given to Lord Hillsborough, as secretary of state for America, a new distinct department. Lord Sandwich, it is said, comes into the post-office in his place. Several of the Bedford party are now to come in.
How these changes may effect us, a little time will show. Little at present is thought of but elections, which gives me hope that nothing will be done against America this session, though the Boston Gazette had occasioned some heats, and the Boston Resolutions a prodigious clamor. I have endeavoured to palliate matters for them as well as I can. I send you my manuscript of one paper, though I think you take the Chronicle. The editor of that paper, one Jones, seems a Grenvillian, or is very cautious, as you will see by his corrections and omissions. He has drawn the teeth and pared the nails of my paper, so that it can neither scratch nor bite. It seems only to paw and mumble. I send you also two other late pieces of mine. There is another which I cannot find.
I am told there has been a talk of getting me appointed under-secretary to Lord Hillsborough; but with little likelihood, as it is a settled point here that I am too much of an American.1 I am in very good health, thanks to God. Your affectionate father,
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 9 January, 1768.
I wrote to you by way of Boston, and have little to add, except to acquaint you that some changes have taken place since my last, which have not the most promising aspect for America, several of the Bedford party being come into employment again; a party that has distinguished itself by exclaiming against us on all late occasions. Mr. Conway, one of our friends, has resigned, and Lord Weymouth takes his place. Lord Shelburne, another friend, is stripped of the American part of the business of his office, which now makes a distinct department, in which Lord Hillsborough is placed. I do not think this nobleman in general an enemy to America, but in the affair of paper money he was last winter strongly against us.
I did hope I had removed some of his prejudices on that head, but am not certain. We have, however, increased the cry for it here, and I believe shall attempt to obtain the repeal of the act, though the Boston Gazette and their resolutions about manufactures have hurt us much, having occasioned an immense clamor here. I have endeavoured to palliate matters for them as well as I can, and hope with some success. For having, in a large company in which were some members of Parliament, given satisfaction to all, by what I alleged in explanation of the conduct of the Americans, and to show that they were not quite so unreasonable as they appeared to be, I was advised by several present to make my sentiments public, not only for the sake of America, but as it would be some ease to our friends here, who are triumphed over a good deal by our adversaries on the occasion. I have accordingly done it in the enclosed paper.
I shall write you fully on other subjects very soon. At present, I can only add my respects to the Committee, and that I am, dear Sir, your faithful humble servant,
CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN DISCONTENTS BEFORE 1768.1
The waves never rise but when the winds blow.
As the cause of the present ill-humor in America, and of the resolutions taken there to purchase less of our manufactures, does not seem to be generally understood, it may afford some satisfaction to your readers, if you give them the following short historical state of facts.
From the time that the colonies were first considered as capable of granting aids to the crown, down to the end of the last war, it is said that the constant mode of obtaining those aids was by requisition made from the crown, through its governors, to the several assemblies, in circular-letters from the Secretary of State, in his Majesty’s name: setting forth the occasion, requiring them to take the matter into consideration, and expressing a reliance on their prudence, duty, and affection to his Majesty’s government, that they would grant such sums, or raise such numbers of men, as were suitable to their respective circumstances.
The colonies being accustomed to this method, have from time to time granted money to the crown, or raised troops for its service, in proportion to their abilities; and during all the last war beyond their abilities, so that considerable sums were returned them yearly by Parliament, as they had exceeded their proportion.
Had this happy method of requisition been continued (a method that left the King’s subjects in those remote countries the pleasure of showing their zeal and loyalty, and of imagining that they recommended themselves to their sovereign by the liberality of their voluntary grants), there is no doubt but all the money that could reasonably be expected to be raised from them in any manner might have been obtained, without the least heart-burning, offence, or breach of the harmony of affections and interests that so long subsisted between the two countries.
It has been thought wisdom in a government exercising sovereignty over different kinds of people, to have some regard to prevailing and established opinions among the people to be governed, wherever such opinions might, in their effects, obstruct or promote public measures. If they tend to obstruct public service, they are to be changed, if possible, before we attempt to act against them; and they can only be changed by reason and persuasion. But if public business can be carried on without thwarting those opinions; if they can be, on the contrary, made subservient to it; they are not unnecessarily to be thwarted, however absurd such popular opinions may be in their nature.
This had been the wisdom of our government with respect to raising money in the colonies. It was well known that the colonists universally were of opinion that no money could be levied from English subjects but by their own consent, given by themselves or their chosen representatives; that, therefore, whatever money was to be raised from the people in the colonies, must first be granted by their assemblies, as the money raised in Britain is first to be granted by the House of Commons; that this right of granting their own money was essential to English liberty; and that, if any man, or body of men, in which they had no representative of their choosing, could tax them at pleasure, they could not be said to have any property, any thing they could call their own. But as these opinions did not hinder their granting money voluntarily and amply, whenever the crown by its servants came into their assemblies (as it does into its parliaments of Britain and Ireland) and demanded aids, therefore that method was chosen, rather than the hateful one of arbitrary taxes.
I do not undertake here to support these opinions of the Americans; they have been refuted by a late act of Parliament, declaring its own power; which very Parliament, however, showed wisely so much tender regard to those inveterate prejudices, as to repeal a tax that had militated against them. And those prejudices are still so fixed and rooted in the Americans, that it has been supposed not a single man among them has been convinced of his error, even by that act of Parliament.
The person, then, who first projected to lay aside the accustomed method of requisition, and to raise money on America by stamps, seems not to have acted wisely, in deviating from that method (which the colonists looked upon as constitutional), and thwarting unnecessarily the fixed prejudices of so great a number of the King’s subjects. It was not, however, for want of knowledge that what he was about to do would give them offence; he appears to have been very sensible of this, and apprehensive that it might occasion some disorders; to prevent or suppress which, he projected another bill that was brought in the same session with the Stamp Act, whereby it was to be made lawful for military officers in the colonies to quarter their soldiers in private houses.
This seemed intended to awe the people into a compliance with the other act. Great opposition, however, being raised here against the bill, by the agents from the colonies and the merchants trading thither (the colonists declaring that under such a power in the army no one could look on his house as his own, or think he had a home, when soldiers might be thrust into it and mixed with his family at the pleasure of an officer), that part of the bill was dropt; but there still remained a clause, when it passed into a law, to oblige the several assemblies to provide quarters for the soldiers, furnishing them with firing, bedding, candles, small beer or rum, and sundry other articles, at the expense of the several provinces. And this act continued in force when the Stamp Act was repealed; though, if obligatory on the assemblies, it equally militated against the American principle above mentioned, that money is not to be raised on English subjects without their consent.
The colonies nevertheless, being put into high good-humor by the repeal of the Stamp Act, chose to avoid a fresh dispute upon the other, it being temporary and soon to expire, never, as they hoped, to revive again; and in the meantime they, by various ways, in different colonies, provided for the quartering of the troops; either by acts of their own assemblies, without taking notice of the act of Parliament, or by some variety or small diminution, as of salt and vinegar, in the supplies required by the act; that what they did might appear a voluntary act of their own, and not done in due obedience to an act of Parliament, which, according to their ideas of their rights, they thought hard to obey.
It might have been well if the matter had then passed without notice; but, a governor having written home an angry and aggravating letter upon this conduct in the Assembly of his province, the outed proposer1 of the Stamp Act and his adherents, then in the opposition, raised such a clamor against America, as being in rebellion, and against those who had been for the repeal of the Stamp Act, as having thereby been encouragers of this supposed rebellion, that it was thought necessary to enforce the quartering act by another act of Parliament, taking away from the province of New York, which had been the most explicit in its refusal, all the powers of legislation, till it should have complied with that act. The news of which greatly alarmed the people everywhere in America, as (it had been said) the language of such an act seemed to them to be: Obey implicitly laws made by the Parliament of Great Britain to raise money on you without your consent, or you shall enjoy no rights or privileges at all.
At the same time, a person lately in high office1 projected the levying more money from America, by new duties on various articles of our own manufacture, as glass, paper, painters’ colors, &c., appointing a new board of customs, and sending over a set of commissioners, with large salaries, to be established at Boston, who were to have the care of collecting those duties; which were by the act expressly mentioned to be intended for the payment of the salaries of governors, judges, and other officers of the crown in America; it being a pretty general opinion here, that those officers ought not to depend on the people there for any part of their support.
It is not my intention to combat this opinion. But perhaps it may be some satisfaction to your readers, to know what ideas the Americans have on the subject. They say then, as to governors, that they are not like princes, whose posterity have an inheritance in the government of a nation, and therefore an interest in its prosperity; they are generally strangers to the provinces they are sent to govern; have no estate, natural connexion or relation there, to give them an affection for the country; that they come only to make money as fast as they can; are sometimes men of vicious characters and broken fortunes, sent by a minister merely to get them out of the way; that as they intend staying in the country no longer than their government continues, and purpose to leave no family behind them, they are apt to be regardless of the good-will of the people, and care not what is said or thought of them after they are gone.
Their situation, at the same time, gives them many opportunities of being vexatious, and they are often so, notwithstanding their dependence on the assemblies for all that part of their support that does not arise from fees established by law; but would probably be much more so, if they were to be supported by money drawn from the people without their consent or good-will, which is the professed design of the new act. That, if by means of these forced duties government is to be supported in America, without the intervention of the assemblies, their assemblies will soon be looked upon as useless; and a governor will not call them, as having nothing to hope from their meeting, and perhaps something to fear from their inquiries into, and remonstrances against, his maladministration. That thus the people will be deprived of their most essential rights. That it being, as at present, a governor’s interest to cultivate the good-will, by promoting the welfare, of the people he governs, can be attended with no prejudice to the mother country; since all the laws he may be prevailed on to give his assent to are subject to revision here, and, if reported against by the Board of Trade, are immediately repealed by the crown; nor dare he pass any law contrary to his instructions, as he holds his office during the pleasure of the crown, and his securities are liable for the penalties of their bonds if he contravenes those instructions. This is what they say as to governors.
As to judges, they allege that, being appointed from this country, and holding their commissions, not during good behaviour, as in Britain, but during pleasure, all the weight of interest or influence would be thrown into one of the scales (which ought to be held even), if the salaries are to be paid out of duties raised upon the people without their consent, and independent of their assemblies’ approbation or disapprobation of the judge’s behaviour. That it is true, judges should be free from all influence; and, therefore, whenever government here will grant commissions to able and honest judges during good behaviour, the assemblies will settle permanent and ample salaries on them during their commissions; but, at present, they have no other means of getting rid of an ignorant or an unjust judge (and some of scandalous characters have, they say, been sometimes sent them) left, but by starving them out.
I do not suppose these reasonings of theirs will appear here to have much weight. I do not produce them with an expectation of convincing your readers. I relate them merely in pursuance of the task I have imposed on myself, to be an impartial historian of American facts and opinions.
The colonists being thus greatly alarmed, as I said before, by the news of the act for abolishing the legislature of New York, and the imposition of these new duties, professedly for such disagreeable purposes, (accompanied by a new set of revenue officers, with large appointments, which gave strong suspicions that more business of the same kind was soon to be provided for them, that they might earn their salaries,) began seriously to consider their situation; and to revolve afresh in their minds grievances which, from their respect and love for this country, they had long borne, and seemed almost willing to forget.
They reflected how lightly the interest of all America had been estimated here, when the interests of a few of the inhabitants of Great Britain happened to have the smallest competition with it. That the whole American people was forbidden the advantage of a direct importation of wine, oil, and fruit, from Portugal, but must take them loaded with all the expense of a voyage one thousand leagues round about, being to be landed first in England, to be re-shipped for America; expenses amounting, in war time at least, to thirty pounds per cent. more than otherwise they would have been charged with; and all this, merely that a few Portugal merchants in London may gain a commission on those goods passing through their hands (Portugal merchants, by the by, that can complain loudly of the smallest hardships laid on their trade by foreigners, and yet, even in the last year, could oppose, with all their influence, the giving ease to their fellow subjects laboring under so heavy an oppression!). That, on a slight complaint of a few Virginia merchants, nine colonies had been restrained from making paper money, become absolutely necessary to their internal commerce, from the constant remittance of their gold and silver to Britain.
But not only the interest of a particular body of merchants, but the interest of any small body of British tradesmen or artificers, has been found, they say, to outweigh that of all the King’s subjects in the colonies. There cannot be a stronger natural right than that of a man’s making the best profit he can of the natural produce of his lands, provided he does not thereby hurt the state in general. Iron is to be found everywhere in America, and the beaver furs are the natural produce of that country. Hats, and nails, and steel are wanted there as well as here. It is of no importance to the common welfare of the empire, whether a subject of the King’s obtains his living by making hats on this or that side of the water. Yet the hatters of England have prevailed to obtain an act in their own favor, restraining that manufacture in America; in order to oblige the Americans to send their beaver to England to be manufactured, and purchase back the hats, loaded with the charges of a double transportation. In the same manner have a few nail-makers, and a still smaller body of steel-makers (perhaps there are not half a dozen of these in England), prevailed totally to forbid by an act of Parliament the erecting of slitting-mills, or steel-furnaces, in America; that the Americans may be obliged to take all their nails for their buildings, and steel for their tools, from these artificers, under the same disadvantages.1
Added to these, the Americans remembered the act authorizing the most cruel insult that perhaps was ever offered by one people to another, that of emptying our gaols into their settlements; Scotland too having within these two years obtained the privilege it had not before, of sending its rogues and villains also to the plantations. I say, reflecting on these things, they said one to another (their newspapers are full of such discourses):
“These people are not content with making a monopoly of us, forbidding us to trade with any other country of Europe, and compelling us to buy every thing of them, though in many articles we could furnish ourselves ten, twenty, and even to fifty per cent. cheaper elsewhere; but now they have as good as declared they have a right to tax us ad libitum internally and externally; and that our constitutions and liberties shall all be taken away if we do not submit to that claim.
They are not content with the high prices at which they sell us their goods, but have now begun to enhance those prices by new duties; and, by the expensive apparatus of a new set of officers, appear to intend an augmentation and multiplication of those burdens that shall still be more grievous to us. Our people have been foolishly fond of their superfluous modes and manufactures, to the impoverishing our own country, carrying off all our cash, and loading us with debt; they will not suffer us to restrain the luxury of our inhabitants, as they do that of their own, by laws; they can make laws to discourage or prohibit the importation of French superfluities; but though those of England are as ruinous to us as the French ones are to them, if we make a law of that kind, they immediately repeal it.
Thus they get all our money from us by trade; and every profit we can anywhere make by our fisheries, our produce, or our commerce, centres finally with them; but this does not signify. It is time, then, to take care of ourselves by the best means in our power. Let us unite in solemn resolution and engagements with and to each other, that we will give these new officers as little trouble as possible, by not consuming the British manufactures on which they are to levy the duties. Let us agree to consume no more of their expensive gewgaws. Let us live frugally, and let us industriously manufacture what we can for ourselves; thus we shall be able honorably to discharge the debts we already owe them; and after that, we may be able to keep some money in our country, not only for the uses of our internal commerce, but for the service of our gracious sovereign, whenever he shall have occasion for it, and think proper to require it of us in the old constitutional manner. For, notwithstanding the reproaches thrown out against us in their public papers and pamphlets, notwithstanding we have been reviled in their senate as rebels and traitors, we are truly a loyal people. Scotland has had its rebellions, and England its plots against the present royal family; but America is untainted with those crimes; there is in it scarce a man, there is not a single native of our country, who is not firmly attached to his King by principle and by affection.
But a new kind of loyalty seems to be required of us, a loyalty to Parliament; a loyalty that is to extend, it is said to a surrender of all our properties, whenever a House of Commons, in which there is not a single member of our choosing, shall think fit to grant them away without our consent; and to a patient suffering the loss of our privileges as Englishmen, if we cannot submit to make such surrender. We were separated too far from Britain by the ocean, but we were united to it by respect and love; so that we could at any time freely have spent our lives and little fortunes in its cause; but this unhappy new system of politics tends to dissolve those bands of union, and to sever us for ever.”
These are the wild ravings of the, at present, half-distracted Americans. To be sure, no reasonable man in England can approve of such sentiments, and, as I said before, I do not pretend to support or justify them; but I sincerely wish, for the sake of the manufactures and commerce of Great Britain, and for the sake of the strength which a firm union with our growing colonies would give us, that these people had never been thus needlessly driven out of their senses. I am yours, &c.,
TO M. DALIBARD
London, 31 January, 1768.
I sent you some time since, Priestley’s History of Electricity, under the care of Mr. Molini, bookseller on the Quay des Augustins. I hope it got safe to Paris, and that you have reviewed it. I wish the reading of it may renew your taste for that branch of philosophy, which is already indebted to you as being the first of mankind that had the courage to attempt drawing lightning from the clouds to be subjected to your experiments.
In our return home, we were detained a week at Calais by contrary winds and stormy weather which was the more mortifying to me, when I reflected that I might have enjoyed Paris and my friends there all this time, and yet have been as soon at London.
As I became in arrear with my business by so long an absence, I have been necessarily much occupied since my return, and have therefore postponed from time to time (and so long that I am now ashamed of it) the purpose I had of writing soon to you, to express the sense I have of your kindness to me when a stranger at Paris, and of the many civilities I received from you there and from Mrs. Dalibard, which I assure you have made a lasting impression on my memory. I beg you will both of you accept my sincerest thanks and acknowledgments. The time I spent in Paris, and in the improving conversation and agreeable society of so many ingenious and learned men, seems now to me like a pleasing dream, from which I was only to be awakened by finding myself at London.
With the greatest esteem and best wishes for your health and happiness, I have the honor to be,
Dear Sir, &c.,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 13 February, 1768.
My Dear Child:—
I received your kind letter by Captain Story, of November 19th, and a subsequent one by Captain Falconer without date. I have received also the Indian and buckwheat meal, that they brought from you, with the apples, cranberries, and nuts, for all which I thank you. They all prove good, and the apples were particularly welcome to me and my friends, as there happens to be scarce any of any kind in England this year. We are much obliged to the captains, who are so good as to bring these things for us, without charging any thing for their trouble.
I am much concerned for my dear sister’s loss of her daughter. It was kind in you to write a letter of condolence. I have also written to her on the occasion. I am not determined about bringing Sally over with me, but am obliged to you for the kind manner in which you speak of it, and possibly I may conclude to do it.1 I am sorry you had so much trouble with that Nelson. By what is now said of her here, she did not deserve the notice you took of her, or that any credit should be given to her stories. I am afraid she has made mischief in my family by her falsehoods. I think your advice good, not to help any one to servants. I shall never be concerned in such business again; I never was lucky in it.
My love to all our relations and friends, and to Mr. and Mrs. Duffield, and to Mrs. Redman. I am much pleased with her daughter’s writing, particularly for its correctness. I am now, and have been all this winter, in very good health, thanks to God. I only once felt a little admonition, as if a fit of the gout would attack me, but it did not. Whether sick or well, I am ever, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,
P. S.—I forgot to tell you that a certain very great lady, the best woman in England, was graciously pleased to accept some of your nuts, and to say they were excellent. This is to yourself only.1
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 17 February, 1768.
In mine of January 9th, I wrote to you that I believed, notwithstanding the clamor against America had been greatly increased by the Boston proceedings, we should attempt this session to obtain the repeal of the restraining act relating to paper money. The change of the administration, with regard to American affairs, which was agreed on some time before the new secretary kissed hands and entered upon business, made it impossible to go forward with that affair, as the minister quitting that department would not, and his successor could not, engage in it; but now our friends the merchants have been moving in it, and some of them have conceived hopes, from the manner in which Lord Hillsborough attended to their representations. It had been previously concluded among us, that if the repeal was to be obtained at all, it must be proposed in the light of a favor to the merchants of this country, and asked for by them, not by the agents as a favor to America. But, as my Lord had, at sundry times before he came into his present station, discoursed with me on the subject, and got from me a copy of my answer to his report when at the head of the Board of Trade, which some time since he thanked me for, and said he would read again and consider carefully, I waited upon him this morning, partly with intent to learn if he had changed his sentiments.
We entered into the subject, and had a long conversation upon it, in which all the arguments he used, against the legal tender of paper money, were intended to demonstrate, that it was for the benefit of the people themselves to have no such money current among them; and it was strongly his opinion, that, after the experience of being without it a few years, we should all be convinced of this truth, as he said the New England colonies now were; they having lately, on the rumor of an intended application for taking off the restraint, petitioned here, that it might be continued as to them. However, his Lordship was pleased to say, that, if such application was made for the three colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, as I proposed, it should have fair play, he would himself give it no sort of opposition; but he was sure it would meet with a great deal, and he thought it could not succeed. He was pleased to make me compliments upon my paper, assuring me he had read it with a great deal of attention, that I had said much more in favor of such a currency than he thought could be said, and all he believed that the subject would admit of; but that it had not on the whole changed his opinion, any further than to induce him to leave the matter now to the judgment of others, and let it take its course, without opposing it, as last year he had determined to have done.
I go into the city to-morrow to confer with the merchants again upon it; that, if they see any hopes, we may at least try the event. But I own my expectations are now very slender, knowing as I do, that nothing is to be done in Parliament, that is not a measure adopted by ministry and supported by their strength, much less any thing they are adverse to or indifferent about.
I took the opportunity of discoursing with his Lordship concerning our particular affair of the change of government, gave him a detail of all proceedings hitherto, the delays it had met with, and its present situation. He was pleased to say, he would inquire into the matter, and would talk with me further upon it. He expressed great satisfaction in the good disposition that, he said, appeared now to be general in America, with regard to government here, according to the latest advices; and informed me that he had by his Majesty’s order wrote the most healing letters to the several governors, which, if shown to the assemblies, as he supposed they would be, could not but confirm that good disposition. As to the permission we want to bring wine, fruit, and oil directly from Spain and Portugal, and to carry iron direct to foreign markets, it is agreed on all hands that this is an unfavorable time to move in those matters; George Grenville and those in the opposition, on every hint of the kind, making a great noise about the Act of Navigation, that palladium of England, as they call it, to be given up to rebellious America, &c., &c., so that the ministry would not venture to propose it, if they approved. I am to wait on the secretary again next Wednesday, and shall write you further what passes, that is material.
The Parliament have of late been acting an egregious farce, calling before them the mayor and aldermen of Oxford, for proposing a sum to be paid by their old members on being re-chosen at the next election; and sundry printers and brokers, for advertising and dealing in boroughs, &c. The Oxford people were sent to Newgate, and discharged, after some days, on humble petition, and receiving the Speaker’s reprimand upon their knees. The House could scarcely keep countenances, knowing as they all do, that the practice is general. People say, they mean nothing more than to beat down the price by a little discouragement of borough jobbing, now that their own elections are all coming on. The price indeed is grown exorbitant, no less than four thousand pounds for a member.
Mr. Beckford has brought in a bill for preventing bribery and corruption in elections, wherein was a clause to oblige every member to swear, on his admission into the House, that he had not directly or indirectly given any bribe to any elector; but this was so universally exclaimed against, as answering no end but perjuring the members, that he has been obliged to withdraw that clause. It was indeed a cruel contrivance of his, worse than the gunpowder plot; for that was only to blow the Parliament up to heaven, this to sink them all down to ——. Mr. Thurlow opposed his bill by a long speech. Beckford, in reply, gave a dry hit to the House, that is repeated everywhere. “The honorable gentleman,” says he, “in his learned discourse, gave us first one definition of corruption, then he gave us another definition of corruption, and I think he was about to give us a third. Pray does that gentleman imagine there is any member of this House that does notknow what corruption is?” which occasioned only a roar of laughter, for they are so hardened in the practice, that they are very little ashamed of it. This between ourselves. I am with sincerest esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
TO CADWALLADER EVANS1
London, 20 February, 1768.
I wrote you a few lines by Captain Falconer, and sent you Dr. Watson’s new piece of Experiments in Inoculation, which I hope will be agreeable to you.
In yours of November 20th, you mention the lead in the worms of stills as a probable cause of the dry belly-ache among punch-drinkers in our West Indies. I had before acquainted Dr. Baker with a fact of that kind, the general mischief done in the use of leaden worms, when rum-distilling was first practised in New England, which occasioned a severe law there against them; and he has mentioned it in the second part of his piece not yet published. I have long been of opinion that that distemper proceeds always from a metallic cause only; observing that it affects, among tradesmen, those that use lead, however different their trades,—as glaziers, letter-founders, plumbers, potters, white-lead makers and painters; (from the latter, it has been conjectured, it took its name colicaPictonum, by the mistake of a letter, and not from its being the disease of Poictou;) and, although the worms of stills ought to be of pure tin, they are often made of pewter, which has a great mixture in it of lead.
The Boston people, pretending to interfere with the manufactures of this country, make a great clamor here against America in general. I have therefore endeavoured to palliate matters a little in several public papers. It would, as you justly observe, give less umbrage if we meddled only with such manufactures as England does not attend to. That of linen might be carried on more or less in every family (perhaps it can only do it in a family way), and silk, I think, in most of the colonies. But there are many manufactures that we cannot carry on to advantage, though we were at entire liberty. And, after all, this country is fond of manufactures beyond their real value, for the true source of riches is husbandry. Agriculture is truly productive of new wealth; manufacturers only change forms, and, whatever value they give to the materials they work upon, they in the meantime consume an equal value in provisions, &c. So that riches are not increased by manufacturing; the only advantage is, that provisions in the shape of manufactures are more easily carried for sale to foreign markets. And where the provisions cannot be easily carried to market, it is well to transform them for our own use as well as foreign sale. In families also, where the children and servants of families have some spare time, it is well to employ it in making something, and in spinning or knitting, &c., to gatherup the fragments (of time) that nothing may be lost, for those fragments, though small in themselves, amount to something great in the year, and the family must eat, whether they work or are idle.
But this nation seems to have increased the number of its manufactures beyond reasonable bounds (for there are bounds to every thing), whereby provisions are now risen to an exorbitant price by the demand for supplying home mouths; so that there may be an importation from foreign countries; but the expense of bringing provisions from abroad to feed manufacturers here will so enhance the price of the manufactures, that they may be made cheaper where the provisions grow, and the mouths will go to the meat.
I am, with thanks for your good wishes, dear Sir, yours, &c.,
TO THOMAS WHARTON
London, 20 February, 1768.
I received your favors of November 17th and 18th, with another dozen of excellent wine, the manufacture of our friend Livezey. I thank you for the care you have taken in forwarding them, and for your kind good wishes that accompany them.1
The story you mention of secretary Conway’s wondering what I could be doing in England, and that he had not seen me for a considerable time, savours strongly of the channel through which it came, and deserves no notice. But, since his name is mentioned, it gives me occasion to relate what passed between us the last time I had the honor of conversing with him. It was at court, when the late changes were first rumored, and it was reported he was to resign the secretary’s office. Talking of America, I said I was sorry to find that our friends were one after another quitting the administration, that I was apprehensive of the consequences, and hoped what I heard of his going out was not true. He said it was really true, the employment had not been of his choice, he had never any taste for it, but had submitted to engage in it for a time, at the instance of his friends, and he believed his removal could not be attended with any ill consequences to America; that he was a sincere wellwisher to the prosperity of that country as well as this, and hoped the imprudences of either side would never be carried to such a height as to create a breach of the union, so essentially necessary to the welfare of both; that, as long as his Majesty continued to honor him with a share in his counsels, America should always find in him a friend, &c. This I write, as it was agreeable to me to hear, and I suppose will be so to you to read. For his character has more in it of the frank honesty of the soldier, than of the plausible insincerity of the courtier; and therefore what he says is more to be depended on.
The Proprietor’s dislike to my continuing in England, to be sure, is very natural; as well as to the repeated choice of Assembly men, not his friends; and probably he would, as they so little answer his purposes, wish to see elections as well as agencies abolished. They make him very unhappy, but it cannot be helped.
The proceedings in Boston, as the news came just upon the meeting of Parliament, and occasioned great clamor here, gave me much concern. And as every offensive thing done in America is charged upon all, and every province, though unconcerned in it, suffers in its interests through the general disgust given, and the little distinction here made, it became necessary, I thought, to palliate the matter a little for our own sakes; and therefore I wrote the paper, which probably you have seen printed in the Chronicle of January 7th, and signed F. S. Yours affectionately,
TO LORD KAMES
London, 28 February, 1768.
It gave me great pleasure to see my dear good friend’s name at the foot of a letter I received the other day, having been often uneasy at his long silence, blaming myself as the cause by my own previous backwardness and want of punctuality as a correspondent. I now suppose (as in this he mentions nothing of it) that a long letter I wrote him about this time twelvemonth, on the subject of the disputes with America, did miscarry, or that his answer to that letter miscarried, as I have never heard from him since I wrote that letter.
I have long been of an opinion similar to that you express, and think happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life. Thus I reckon it among my felicities, that I can set my own razor, and shave myself perfectly well; in which I have a daily pleasure, and avoid the uneasiness one is sometimes obliged to suffer from the dirty fingers or bad breath of a slovenly barber.
I congratulate you on the purchase of a new house so much to your mind, and wish that you may long inhabit it with comfort. The inconvenience you mention of neighbouring smoke coming down the vents, is not owing to any bad construction of the vent down which it comes, and therefore not to be remedied by any change of form. It is merely the effect of a law of nature, whereby, whenever the outward air is warmer than the walls of the vent, the air included, being by those walls made colder, and of course denser and heavier than an equal column of the outward air, descends into the room, and in descending draws other air into the vent above to supply its place; which, being in its turn cooled and condensed by the cooler walls of the vent, descends also, and so a current downward is continued during the continuance of such difference in temperament between the outward air and the walls of the vent.
When this difference is destroyed, by the outward air growing cooler, and the walls growing warmer, the current downward ceases; and when the outward air becomes still colder than the walls, the current changes and moves from below upward, the warmer walls rarefying the air they include, and thereby making it so much lighter than a column of the outward air of equal height, that it is obliged to give way to the other’s superior weight and rise, is succeeded by colder air, which being warmed and rarefied in its turn, rises also, and so the upward current is continued. In summer, when fires are not made in the chimneys, the current generally sets downward from nine or ten in the morning during all the heat of the day, till five or six in the afternoon, then begins to hesitate, and afterwards to set upward during the night, continuing till about nine in the morning, then hesitating for some time before it again sets downward for the day. This is the general course, with some occasional variation of hours, according to the length of days or changes of weather.
Now when the air of any vent is in this descending state, if the smoke issuing from a neighbouring vent happens to be carried over it by the wind, part will be drawn in and brought down into the room. The proper remedy then is to close the opening of the chimney in the room by a board so fitted that little or no air can pass, whereby the currents above-mentioned will be prevented; this board to remain during the summer, and when fires are not made in the chimney. Chimneys that have fires in them daily are not subject to this inconvenience, the walls of their vents being kept too warm to occasion any downward current during the hours between the going out of one fire and the kindling of another. And indeed, in summer, those vents that happen to go up close joined with the kitchen vent, are generally kept so warm by that as to be free from the downward current, and therefore free from what you call neighbour smoke.
The Philadelphia grate which you mention is a very good thing, if you could get one that is rightly made, and a workman skilful in putting them up. Those generally made and used here are much hurt by fancied improvements in their construction, and I cannot recommend them. As fuel with you is cheap and plenty, a saving in it is scarce an object. The sliding plates (of which I sent a model to Sir Alexander Dick) are, in my opinion, the most convenient for your purpose, as they keep a room sufficiently warm, are simple machines, easily fixed, and their management easily conceived and understood by servants.
I shall leave Europe with much greater regret, if I cannot first visit you and my other friends in Scotland. I promise myself this happiness, but am not yet clear that I shall have time for it. Your kind invitation is extremely obliging.
With sincere esteem, I am, my dear friend,
|Water 11/2 inches deep.||2 inches.||41/2 inches.|
|Medium 101||Medium 89||Medium 79|
I made many other experiments, but the above are those in which I was most exact; and they serve sufficiently to show that the difference is considerable. Between the deepest and shallowest it appears to be somewhat more than one fifth. So that, supposing large canals and boats and depths of water to bear the same proportions, and that four men or horses would draw a boat in deep water four leagues in four hours, it would require five to draw the same boat in the same time as far in shallow water; or four would require five hours.
Whether this difference is of consequence enough to justify a greater expense in deepening canals, is a matter of calculation, which our ingenious engineers in that way will readily determine. I am, &c.,
TO JOHN ROSS
London, 14 May, 1768.
I received your favor of March 13th, and am extremely concerned at the disorders on our frontiers, and at the debility or wicked connivance of our government and magistrates, which must make property and even life more and more insecure among us, if some effectual remedy is not speedily applied. I have laid all the accounts before the ministry here. I wish I could procure more attention to them. I have urged over and over the necessity of the change we desire; but this country itself being at present in a situation very little better, weakens our argument that a royal government would be better managed, and safer to live under, than that of a proprietary. Even this capital, the residence of the King, is now a daily scene of lawless riot and confusion. Mobs patrolling the streets at noonday, some knocking all down that will not roar for Wilkes and liberty; courts of justice afraid to give judgment against him; coal-heavers and porters pulling down the houses of coal merchants that refuse to give them more wages; sawyers destroying sawmills; sailors unrigging all the outward-bound ships, and suffering none to sail till merchants agree to raise their pay; watermen destroying private boats and threatening bridges; soldiers firing among the mobs and killing men, women, and children, which seems only to have produced a universal sullenness, that looks like a great black cloud coming on, ready to burst in a general tempest.
What the event will be, God only knows. But some punishment seems preparing for a people who are ungratefully abusing the best constitution and the best King any nation was ever blessed with, intent on nothing but luxury, licentiousness, power, places, pensions, and plunder; while the ministry, divided in their counsels, with little regard for each other, worried by perpetual oppositions, in continual apprehension of changes, intent on securing popularity in case they should lose favor, have for some years past had little time or inclination to attend to our small affairs, whose remoteness makes them appear still smaller.
The bishops here are very desirous of securing the Church of England in America, and promoting its interests and enlargement by sending one of their order thither; but though they have long solicited this point with government here, they have not as yet been able to obtain it, so apprehensive are ministers of engaging in any novel measure.
I hope soon to have an opportunity of conferring with you, and therefore say no more at present on this subject. I am, my dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 14 May, 1768.
I received your favor of March 31st. It is now, with the messages, in the hands of the minister, so that I cannot be more particular at present in answering it than to say I should have a melancholy prospect in going home to such public confusion, if I did not leave greater confusion behind me. The newspapers, and my letter of this day to Mr. Ross, will inform you of the miserable situation this country is in. While I am writing, a great mob of coal porters fills the street, carrying a wretch of their business upon poles, to be ducked and otherwise punished at their pleasure for working at the old wages. All respect to law and government seems to be lost among the common people, who are moreover continually inflamed by seditious scribblers, to trample on authority and every thing that used to keep them in order.
The Parliament is now sitting, but will not continue long together, nor undertake any material business. The court of King’s Bench postponed giving sentence against Wilkes on his outlawry till the next term, intimidated, as some say, by his popularity, and willing to get rid of the affair for a time, till it should be seen what the Parliament would conclude as to his membership. The Commons, at least some of them, resent that conduct, which has thrown a burthen on them it might have eased them of, by pillorying or punishing him in some infamous manner, that would have given better ground for expelling him the House. His friends complain of it as a delay of justice, say the court knew the outlawry to be defective, and that they must finally pronounce it void, but would punish him by long confinement. Great mobs of his adherents have assembled before the prison, the guards have fired on them; it is said five or six are killed, and sixteen or seventeen wounded; and some circumstances have attended this military execution, such as its being done by the Scotch regiment, the pursuing a lad, and killing him at his father’s house, &c., &c., that exasperate people exceedingly, and more mischief seems brewing. Several of the soldiers are imprisoned. If they are not hanged, it is feared there will be more and greater mobs; and, if they are, that no soldier will assist in suppressing any mob hereafter. The prospect either way is gloomy. It is said the English soldiers cannot be confided in to act against these mobs, being suspected as rather inclined to favor and join them.
I am preparing for my return, and hope for the pleasure of finding you well, when I shall have an opportunity of communicating to you more particularly the state of things here relating to our American affairs, which I cannot so well do by letter. I enclose you a report of Sir M—— L——, counsel to the Board of Trade, on one of your late acts. I suppose it has had its effect, so that the repeal will be of little consequence. In the meantime, I am with sincere esteem and affection, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
TO OLIVER NEAVE
I cannot be of opinion with you that it is too late in life for you to learn to swim. The river near the bottom of your garden affords a most convenient place for the purpose. And as your new employment requires your being often on the water, of which you have such a dread, I think you would do well to make the trial; nothing being so likely to remove those apprehensions as the consciousness of an ability to swim to the shore, in case of an accident, or of supporting yourself in the water till a boat could come to take you up.
I do not know how far corks or bladders may be useful in learning to swim, having never seen much trial of them. Possibly they may be of service in supporting the body while you are learning what is called the stroke, or that manner of drawing in and striking out the hands and feet that is necessary to produce progressive motion. But you will be no swimmer till you can place some confidence in the power of the water to support you; I would therefore advise the acquiring of that confidence in the first place; especially as I have known several who, by a little of the practice necessary for that purpose, have insensibly acquired the stroke, taught as it were by nature.
The practice I mean is this: Choosing a place where the water deepens gradually, walk coolly into it till it is up to your breast, then turn round, your face to the shore, and throw an egg into the water between you and the shore. It will sink to the bottom, and be easily seen there, as your water is clear. It must lie in water so deep as that you cannot reach it to take it up but by diving for it. To encourage yourself in order to do this, reflect that your progress will be from deeper to shallower water, and that at any time you may, by bringing your legs under you and standing on the bottom, raise your head far above the water. Then plunge under it with your eyes open, throwing yourself towards the egg, and endeavouring by the action of your hands and feet against the water to get forward till within reach of it. In this attempt you will find that the water buoys you up against your inclination; that it is not so easy a thing to sink as you imagined; that you cannot but by active force get down to the egg. Thus you feel the power of the water to support you, and learn to confide in that power; while your endeavours to overcome it, and to reach the egg, teach you the manner of acting on the water with your feet and hands, which action is afterwards used in swimming to support your head higher above water, or to go forward through it.
I would the more earnestly press you to the trial of this method, because, though I think I satisfied you that your body is lighter than water, and that you might float in it a long time with your mouth free for breathing, if you would put yourself in a proper posture, and would be still and forbear struggling; yet till you have obtained this experimental confidence in the water, I cannot depend on your having the necessary presence of mind to recollect that posture and the directions I gave you relating to it. The surprise may put all out of your mind. For though we value ourselves on being reasonable, knowing creatures, reason and knowledge seem on such occasions to be of little use to us; and the brutes, to whom we allow scarce a glimmering of either, appear to have the advantage of us.
I will, however, take this opportunity of repeating those particulars to you which I mentioned in our last conversation, as, by perusing them at your leisure, you may possibly imprint them so in your memory as on occasion to be of some use to you.
1. That though the legs, arms, and head of a human body, being solid parts, are specifically something heavier than fresh water, yet the trunk, particularly the upper part, from its hollowness, is so much lighter than water, as that the whole of the body taken together is too light to sink wholly under water, but some part will remain above, until the lungs become filled with water, which happens from drawing water into them instead of air, when a person in the fright attempts breathing while the mouth and nostrils are under water.
2. That the legs and arms are specifically lighter than salt water, and will be supported by it, so that a human body would not sink in salt water, though the lungs were filled as above, but from the greater specific gravity of the head.
3. That therefore a person throwing himself on his back in salt water, and extending his arms, may easily lie so as to keep his mouth and nostrils free for breathing; and by a small motion of his hands may prevent turning, if he should perceive any tendency to it.
4. That in fresh water, if a man throws himself on his back, near the surface, he cannot long continue in that situation but by proper action of his hands on the water. If he uses no such action, the legs and lower part of the body will gradually sink till he comes into an upright position, in which he will continue suspended, the hollow of the breast keeping the head uppermost.
5. But if, in this erect position, the head is kept upright above the shoulders, as when we stand on the ground, the immersion will, by the weight of that part of the head that is out of water, reach above the mouth and nostrils, perhaps a little above the eyes, so that a man cannot long remain suspended in water with his head in that position.
6. The body continuing suspended as before, and upright, if the head be leaned quite back, so that the face looks upwards, all the back part of the head being then under water, and its weight consequently in a great measure supported by it, the face will remain above water quite free for breathing, will rise an inch higher every inspiration, and sink as much every expiration, but never so low as that the water may come over the mouth.
7. If therefore a person unacquainted with swimming and falling accidentally into the water, could have presence of mind sufficient to avoid struggling and plunging, and to let the body take this natural position, he might continue long safe from drowning till perhaps help would come. For as to the clothes, their additional weight while immersed is very inconsiderable, the water supporting it, though when he comes out of the water he would find them very heavy indeed.
But, as I said before, I would not advise you or any one to depend on having this presence of mind on such an occasion, but learn firmly to swim; as I wish all men were taught to do in their youth. They would, on many occurrences, be the safer for having that skill, and on many more the happier, as freer from painful apprehensions of danger, to say nothing of the enjoyment in so delightful and wholesome an exercise. Soldiers particularly should, methinks, all be taught to swim; it might be of frequent use either in surprising an enemy, or saving themselves. And if I had now boys to educate, I should prefer those schools (other things being equal) where an opportunity was offered for acquiring so advantageous an art, which, once learned, is never forgotten.
I am, Sir, &c.,
end of volume iv.
[1 ]Had the position been offered to Franklin, and had he accepted it, all our current histories of the United States, should they have been written, would now read like the sheerest romances.
[1 ]This paper appeared in the London Chronicle of Jan. 7, 1768, and was reprinted the same year as a postscript to a pamphlet entitled Sentiments of America. For the circumstances which led to its publication see Franklin’s letters to his son, dated Dec. 19, 1767, and January 9, 1768, and his letter to T. Wharton, Feb. 20, 1768. In the latter letter to his son he complains that the editor of the Chronicle, “one Jones,” “has drawn the teeth and pared the nails of my paper, so that it can neither scratch nor bite. It seems only to paw and mumble.”
[1 ]Mr. George Grenville.
[1 ]Mr. Charles Townshend.
[1 ]I shall here give the reader the note at the end of the fourth paragraph of the Farmer’s Seventh Letter, written by Mr. Dickinson.—B. V.
“Many remarkable instances might be produced of the extraordinary inattention with which bills of great importance, concerning these colonies, have passed in Parliament; which is owing, as it is supposed, to the bills being brought in, by the persons who have points to carry, so artfully framed, that it is not easy for the members in general, in the haste of business, to discover their tendency.
The following instances show the truth of this remark.
When Mr. Grenville, in the violence of reformation and innovation, formed the 4th George III. ch. 15th, for regulating the American trade, the word ‘Ireland’ was dropped in the clause relating to our iron and lumber, so that we could send these articles to no other part of Europe, but to Great Britain. This was so unreasonable a restriction, and so contrary to the sentiments of the legislature, for many years before, that it is surprising it should not have been taken notice of in the House. However, the bill passed into a law. But when the matter was explained, this restriction was taken off in a subsequent act.
I cannot say how long after the taking off this restriction, as I have not the acts, but I think in less than eighteen months, another act of Parliament passed, in which the word ‘Ireland’ was left out, as it had been before. The matter, being a second time explained, was a second time regulated.
Now, if it be considered, that the omission mentioned, struck off, with one word, so very great a part of our trade, it must appear remarkable; and equally so is the method by which rice became an enumerated commodity, and therefore could be carried to Great Britain only.
‘The enumeration was obtained’ (says Mr. Gee, on Trade, p. 32,) ‘by one Cole, a captain of a ship employed by a company then trading to Carolina; for several ships going from England thither, and purchasing rice for Portugal, prevented the aforesaid captain of a loading. Upon his coming home, he possessed one Mr. Lowndes, a member of Parliament (who was frequently employed to prepare bills), with an opinion, that carrying rice directly to Portugal was a prejudice to the trade of England, and privately got a clause into an act to make it an enumerated commodity; by which means he secured a freight to himself. But the consequence proved a vast loss to the nation.’
I find that this clause, ‘privately got into an act, for the benefit of Captain Cole, to the vast loss of the nation,’ is foisted into the 3d Anne, ch. 5th, entitled, ‘An Act for granting to her Majesty a further subsidy on wines and merchandises imported’; with which it has no more connexion, than with 34th Edward I., 34th and 35th of Henry VIII., or the 25th Charles II., which provide that no person shall be taxed but by himself or his representatives.”
[1 ]This was Sally Franklin, often mentioned, the daughter of Thomas Franklin, a remote family connection. As this Thomas Franklin was in narrow circumstances, Dr. Franklin took the charge of his daughter for several years. In a letter to his sister, dated July 17th, 1771, he says: “Sally Franklin has lived with me these five years, a very good girl, now sixteen. She is great-granddaughter of our father’s brother John, who was a dyer at Banbury in Oxfordshire, where our father learned that trade of him, and where our grandfather Thomas lies buried. I saw his grave-stone. Sally’s father, John’s grandson, is now living at Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where he follows the same business, his father too being bred a dyer, as was our uncle Benjamin. He is a widower, and Sally his only child. These two are the only descendants of our grandfather Thomas now remaining in England, that retain the name of Franklin.” She was married in England, and did not go to America as was proposed.—Sparks.
[1 ]The following note to Lord and Lady Bathurst will explain the playful allusion in this postscript:
“Dr. Franklin presents his respectful compliments to Lord Bathurst, with some American nuts; and to Lady Bathurst, with some American apples; which he prays they will accept as a tribute from that country, small indeed but voluntary.”
[1 ]A physician in Philadelphia and member of the American Philosophical Society.
[1 ]He wrote the same day to Mr. Livezey, as follows: “I received your kind letter of November 18th, with a very welcome present of another dozen of your wine. The former had been found excellent by many good judges; my wine merchant in particular was very desirous of knowing what quantity of it might be had, and at what price, to which I could give him no satisfaction. I only said that the grapes, being uncultivated, were not very juicy; I apprehended, so many of them must be required, and so much labor in gathering and pressing them, to produce a little wine, that the price could not be very low. I shall apply this parcel as I did the last, towards warming the hearts of the friends of our country and well-wishers to the change of its government.”
[1 ]Afterwards General Gates, and General Charles Lee, of the American Continental Army.
[1 ]I fancy, but am not certain, that his Lordship meant Lord Hillsborough, who, I am told, is not favorable to new settlements.
[1 ]Wilkes was prosecuted for publishing a libel against the government in a paper, called the North Briton. Parliament ordered “No. 45” of that paper, in which the libel was contained, to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman, which of course created a great demand for copies of it.
[1 ]A printed paper, of which the following is a copy, was found among Dr. Franklin’s papers, endorsed by him as above.—W. T. F.
[1 ]Written by John Dickinson and introduced to the English public by Dr. Franklin with this preface.