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1769:CCCXLIX: TO LORD KAMES - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772 
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. V (Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772).
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TO LORD KAMES
London, 1 January, 1769.
My Dear Friend:—
It is always a great pleasure to me to hear from you, and would be a much greater to be with you, to converse with you on the subjects you mention, or any other. Possibly I may one day enjoy that pleasure. In the meantime we may use the privilege that the knowledge of letters affords us, of conversing at a distance by the pen.
I am glad to find you are turning your thoughts to political subjects, and particularly to those of money, taxes, manufactures, and commerce. The world is yet much in the dark on these important points; and many mischievous mistakes are continually made in the management of them. Most of our acts of Parliament for regulating them are, in my opinion, little better than political blunders, owing to the ignorance of science or to the designs of crafty men, who mislead the legislature, proposing something under the specious appearance of public good, while the real aim is to sacrifice that to their private interest. I hope a good deal of light may be thrown on these subjects by your sagacity and acuteness. I only wish I could first have engaged you in discussing the weighty points in dispute between Britain and the colonies. But the long letter I wrote you for that purpose, in February or March, 1767, perhaps never reached your hand, for I have not yet had a word from you in answer to it.1
The act you inquire about had its rise thus: During the war Virginia issued great sums of paper money for the payment of their troops to be sunk in a number of years by taxes. The British merchants trading thither received these bills in payment for their goods, purchasing tobacco with them to send home. The crop of tobacco one or two years falling short, the factors, who were desirous of making a speedy remittance, sought to pay, with the paper money, bills of exchange. The number of bidders for these bills raised the price of them thirty per cent. above par. This was deemed so much loss to the purchasers, and supposed to arise from a depreciation of the paper money. The merchants, on this supposition, founded a complaint against that currency to the Board of Trade. Lord Hillsborough, then at the head of that Board, took up the matter strongly, and drew a report, which was presented to the King in Council, against all paper currency in the colonies. And, though there was no complaint against it from any merchants but those trading to Virginia, all those trading to the other colonies being satisfied with its operation, yet the ministry proposed and the Parliament came into the making a general act, forbidding all future emissions of paper money, that should be a legal tender in any colony whatever.
The Virginia merchants have since had the mortification to find that, if they had kept the paper money a year or two, the above-mentioned loss would have been avoided; for as soon as tobacco became more plenty, and of course bills of exchange also, the exchange fell as much as it before had risen. I was in America when the act passed. On my return to England I got the merchants trading to New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, &c., to meet, to consider, and join in an application to have the restraining act repealed. To prevent this application, a copy was put into the merchants’ hands of Lord Hillsborough’s report, by which it was supposed they might be convinced that such an application would be wrong. They desired my sentiments on it, which I gave in the paper I send you enclosed. I have no copy by me of the report itself; but in my answer you will see a faithful abridgment of all the arguments or reasons it contained. Lord Hillsborough has read my answer, but says he is not convinced by it, and adheres to his former opinion. We know nothing can be done in Parliament; that the minister is absolutely against, and therefore we let that point rest for the present. And as I think a scarcity of money will work with our other present motives for lessening our fond extravagance in the use of the superfluous manufactures of this country, which unkindly grudges us the enjoyment of common rights, and will tend to lead us naturally into industry and frugality, I am grown more indifferent about the repeal of the act, and if my countrymen will be advised by me, we shall never ask it again.1
There is not, as I conceive, any new principle wanting to account for the operations of air, and all the affections of smoke in rooms and chimneys; but it is difficult to advise in particular cases at a distance, where one cannot have all the circumstances under view. If two rooms and chimneys are “perfectly similar” in situation, dimension, and all other circumstances, it seems not possible that, “in summer, when no fire had been in either of them for some months, and in a calm day, a current of air should at the same time go up the chimney of the one, and down the chimney of the other.” But such difference may and often does take place, from circumstances in which they are dissimilar, and which dissimilarity is not very obvious to those who have little studied the subject. As to your particular case, which you describe to be that, “after a whole day’s fire, which must greatly heat the vent, yet when the fire becomes low, so as not to emit any smoke, neighbour smoke immediately begins to descend and fill the room”; this, if not owing to particular winds, may be occasioned by a stronger fire in another room, communicating with yours by a door, the outer air being excluded by the outward door’s being shut, whereby the stronger fire finds it easier to be supplied with air down through the vent in which the weak fire is, and thence through the communicating door, than through the crevices. If this is the circumstance, you will find that a supply of air is only wanting, that may be sufficient for both vents. If this is not the circumstance, send me, if you please, a complete description of your room, its situation and connexion, and possibly I may form a better judgment; though I imagine your Professor of Natural Philosophy, Mr. Russel, or Mr. George Clark, may give you as good advice on the subject as I can. But I shall take the liberty of sending you, by the first convenient opportunity, a collection of my philosophical papers lately published, in which you will find something more relating to the motions of air in chimneys.1
To commence a conversation with you on your new project, I have thrown some of my present sentiments into the concise form of aphorisms, to be examined between us, if you please, and rejected or corrected and confirmed, as we shall find most proper. I send them enclosed.1
With thanks for your good wishes, and with unalterable esteem, I remain, my dear friend, affectionately yours,
TO JOHN BARTRAM
London, 9 January, 1769.
My Dear Old Friend:—
I received your kind letter of November 5th, and the box directed to the King is since come to hand. I have written a line to our late dear friend’s son2 (who must be best acquainted with the usual manner of transacting your affairs here), to know whether he will take charge of the delivery of it; if not, to request he would inform me how or to whom it is to be sent for the King. I expect his answer in a day or two, and I shall, when I see him, inquire how your pension is hereafter to be applied for and received, though I suppose he has written to you before this time.1
I hope your health continues, as mine does hitherto; but I wish you would now decline your long and dangerous peregrinations in search of new plants, and remain safe and quiet at home, employing your leisure hours in a work that is much wanted, and which no one besides is so capable of performing. I mean the writing a Natural History of our country. I imagine it would prove profitable to you, and I am sure it would do you honor. My respects and best wishes attend Mrs. Bartram and your family. With sincere esteem, I am, as ever, your affectionate friend,
P. S.—January 28th.—The box is delivered, according to Mr. Michael Collinson’s directions, at Lord Bute’s. I have sent over some seed of naked oats, and some of Swiss barley, six rows to one ear. If you would choose to try some of it, call on Mrs. Franklin.
TO M. LE ROY
London, 31 January, 1769.
I received your obliging favor of November 15th. I presented your compliments to Sir John Pringle, who was glad with me to hear of your welfare, and desired me to offer his best respects whenever I wrote to you. The Farmer’s Letters were written by one Mr. Dickinson, of Philadelphia, and not by me, as you seem to suppose. I only caused them to be reprinted here with that little Preface, and had no other hand in them, except that I see some of my sentiments formerly published are collected, and interwoven with those of others, and his own, by the author. I am glad they afforded you any amusement. It is true, as you have heard, that troops are posted in Boston, on the pretence of preventing riots and protecting the custom-house officers; but it is also true that there was no intention among the people there to oppose the landing of those troops, or to resist the execution of the law by arms. The riots talked of were sudden, unpremeditated things, that happened only among a few of the lower sort. Their plan of making war on this country is of a different kind. It is to be a war on commerce only, and consists in an absolute determination to buy and use no more of the manufactures of Britain till the act is repealed. This is already agreed to by four provinces, and will be by all the rest in the ensuing summer. Eleven ships now here from Boston and New York, which would have carried, one with another, fifty thousand pounds sterling each in goods, are going away in their ballast, as the Parliament seems determined not to repeal. I am inclined to think, however, that it will alter its mind before the end of the session. Otherwise it is to be feared the breach will grow wider by successive indiscretions on both sides.
The subject you propose to me, the consequences of allowing a free exportation of corn, the advantages or disadvantages of the Concurrence, &c., is a very extensive one; and I have been, and am at present, so much occupied with our American affairs as that, if I were ever so capable of handling it, I have not time to engage in it at present to any purpose. I think, however, with you, that the true principles of commerce are yet but little understood, and that most of the acts of Parliament, arrêts and edicts of princes and states, relating to commerce, are political errors, solicited and obtained by particulars for private interest, under the pretext of public good.
The bearer of this, Captain Overy, is a particular friend of mine, who now only passes through Paris for Lyons and Nice, but in his return may stay in your city some time. He is a gentleman of excellent character and great merit, and as such I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities and advice, which may be of great service to him, as he is quite a stranger in Paris. With the greatest esteem and respect, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
P. S.—Your English is extremely good; but if it is more easy for you to write in French, do not give yourself the trouble of writing in English, as I understand your French perfectly well.
TO LORD KAMES
London, 21 February, 1769.
My Dear Friend:—
I received your excellent paper on the preferable use of oxen in agriculture, and have put it in the way of being communicated to the public here. I have observed in America that the farmers are more thriving in those parts of the country where horned cattle are used, than in those where the labor is done by horses. The latter are said to require twice the quantity of land to maintain them; and, after all, are not good to eat; at least we do not think them so. Here is a waste of land that might afford subsistence for so many of the human species. Perhaps it was for this reason that the Hebrew lawgiver, having promised that the children of Israel should be as numerous as the sands of the sea, not only took care to secure the health of individuals by regulating their diet, that they might be fitter for producing children, but also forbade their using horses, as these horses would lessen the quantity of subsistence for men. Thus we find, when they took any horses from their enemies, they destroyed them; and in the commandments, where the labor of the ox and ass is mentioned, and forbidden on the Sabbath, there is no mention of the horse, probably because they were to have none. And, by the great armies suddenly raised in that small territory they inhabited, it appears to have been very full of people.
Food is always necessary to all, and much the greatest part of the labor of mankind is employed in raising provisions for the mouth. Is not this kind of labor, then, the fittest to be the standard by which to measure the values of all other labor, and consequently of all other things whose value depends on the labor of making or procuring them? May not even gold and silver be thus valued? If the labor of the farmer, in producing a bushel of wheat, be equal to the labor of the miner in producing an ounce of silver, will not the bushel of wheat just measure the value of the ounce of silver? The miner must eat; the farmer indeed can live without the ounce of silver, and so perhaps will have some advantage in settling the price. But these discussions I leave to you, as being more able to manage them; only, I will send you a little scrap I wrote some time since on the laws prohibiting foreign commodities.
I congratulate you on your election as president of your Edinburgh Society. I think I formerly took notice to you in conversation, that I thought there had been some similarity in our fortunes, and the circumstances of our lives. This is a fresh instance, for, by letters just received, I find that I was about the same time chosen president of our American Philosophical Society, established at Philadelphia.1
I have sent by sea, to the care of Mr. Alexander, a little box containing a few copies of the late editions of my books, for my friends in Scotland. One is directed for you, and one for your Society, which I beg that you and they would accept as a small mark of my respect. With the sincerest esteem and regard, I am, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
P. S.—I am sorry my letter of 1767, concerning the American disputes, miscarried. I now send you a copy of it from my book. The Examination mentioned in it you have probably seen. Things daily wear a worse aspect, and tend more and more to a breach and final separation.
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
London, 23 February, 1769.
Your political disputes I have no objection to, if they are carried on with tolerable decency, and do not become outrageously abusive. They make people acquainted with their rights, and the value of them. But your squabbles about a bishop I wish to see speedily ended. They seem to be unnecessary at present, as the design of sending one is dropped; and, if it were not dropped, I cannot think it a matter of such moment as to be a sufficient reason for division among you, when there never was more need of your being united. I do not conceive, that bishops residing in America would either be of such advantage to Episcopalians, or such disadvantage to Anti-Episcopalians, as either seem to imagine.
Each party abuses the other; the profane and the infidel believe both sides, and enjoy the fray; the reputation of religion in general suffers, and its enemies are ready to say, not what was said in the primitive times, Behold how these Christians love one another,—but, Mark how these Christianshateone another! Indeed, when religious people quarrel about religion, or hungry people about their victuals, it looks as if they had not much of either among them.
TO SAMUEL COOPER, AT BOSTON
London, 24 February, 1769.
I received your favor by Mr. Jeffries. I should have been glad if in any thing I could have served him here. The part I took in the application for your degree1 was merely doing justice to merit, which is the duty of an honest man whenever he has the opportunity. I did that duty, indeed, with pleasure and satisfaction to myself, which was sufficient; but I own the pleasure is greatly increased by finding that you are so good as to accept my endeavours kindly.
I was about to return home last summer and had some thoughts of doing it by way of Boston; but the untoward situation of American affairs here induced my friends to advise my staying another winter. I should have been happy in doing any service to our country. The tide is yet strong against us, and our endeavours to turn it have hitherto had but little effect. But it must turn, if your frugal and industrious resolutions continue. Your old governor, Mr. Pownall, appears a warm and zealous friend to the colonies in Parliament, but unfortunately he is very ill heard at present. I have been in constant pain since I heard of troops assembling at Boston, lest the madness of mobs, or the insolence of soldiers, or both, should, when too near each other, occasion some mischief difficult to be prevented or repaired, and which might spread far and wide. I hope, however, that prudence will predominate, and keep all quiet.
A great cause between the city of London and the Dissenters was decided here the year before last in the House of Lords. No account of it has been printed; but, one having been taken in writing, I obtained a copy of it, which I send you, supposing it may afford you and your friends some pleasure.1
Please to present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Cooper, and to Mr. Bowdoin, when you see him. With sincere and great esteem, I am, &c.,
TO JOHN WINTHROP
London, 11 March, 1769.
At length after much delay and difficulty I have been able to obtain your telescope, that was made by Mr. Short before his death. His brother who succeeds in the business has fitted it up and completed it. He has followed the business many years at Edinburgh, is reckoned very able, and therefore I hope every thing will be found all right; but, as it is only just finished, I have no time left to get any philosophical or astronomical friends to examine it, as I intended, the ship being on the point of sailing, and a future opportunity uncertain. Enclosed is his direction-paper for opening and fixing it.
I have not yet got the bill of the price. It is to be made from the deceased Mr. Short’s book of memorandums and orders, in which he entered this order of ours, and, as it is supposed, the price. I do not remember, it is so long since, whether it was one hundred pounds, or one hundred guineas; and the book is in the hands of the executor as I understand. When I have the account, I shall pay it as I did Bird’s for the transit instrument, which was forty guineas, and then shall apply for the whole to Mr. Mauduit. By the way, I wonder that I have not heard from you of the receipt of that instrument, which went from hence in September by Captain Watt. I hope it got safe to hand and gave satisfaction. The ship was the same that Mr. Rogers went in, who I hear is arrived; and by him too I sent the Philosophical Transactions, with a number of copies of your paper as printed separately. But I have no letter from you since that by the young gentleman you recommended to me, grandson to Sir William Pepperell, which I think was dated about the beginning of October, when you could not have received them.
By a late ship I sent your college a copy of the new edition of my Philosophical Papers; and others, I think, for yourself and for Mr. Bowdoin. I should apologize to you for inserting therein some part of our correspondence without first obtaining your permission; but, as Mr. Bowdoin had favored me with his consent for what related to him, I ventured to rely upon your good nature as to what related to you, and I hope you will forgive me.
I have got from Mr. Ellicot the glasses, &c., of the long Galilean telescope, which he presents to your college. I put them into the hands of Mr. Nairne, the optician, to examine and put them in order. I thought to have sent them by this ship, but am disappointed. They shall go by the next, if possible.
There is nothing new here in the philosophical way at present.
With great and sincere esteem, I am, Dear Sir,
Your most obedient and humble servant,
P.S.—There is no prospect of getting the duty acts repealed this session, if ever. Your steady resolutions to consume no more British goods may possibly, if persisted in, have a good effect another year. I apprehend the Parliamentary resolves and addresses will tend to widen the breach. Enclosed I send you Governor Pownall’s speech against those resolves; his name is not to be mentioned. He appears to me a hearty friend of America, though I find he is suspected by some on account of his connexions.
POSITIONS TO BE EXAMINED, CONCERNING NATIONAL WEALTH
datedapril 4, 1769.
1. All food or subsistence for mankind arises from the earth or waters.
2. Necessaries of life, that are not food, and all other conveniences, have their values estimated by the proportion of food consumed while we are employed in procuring them.
3. A small people, with a large territory, may subsist on the productions of nature, with no other labor than that of gathering the vegetables and catching the animals.
4. A large people, with a small territory, find these insufficient, and, to subsist, must labor the earth, to make it produce greater quantities of vegetable food, suitable for the nourishment of men, and of the animals they intend to eat.
5. From this labor arises a great increase of vegetable and animal food, and of materials for clothing, as flax, wool, silk, &c. The superfluity of these is wealth. With this wealth we paid for the labor employed in building our houses, cities, &c., which are therefore only subsistence metamorphosed.
6.Manufactures are only another shape into which so much provisions and subsistence are turned, as were equal in value to the manufactures produced. This appears from hence, that the manufacturer does not, in fact, obtain from the employer, for his labor, more than a mere subsistence, including raiment, fuel, and shelter; all which derive their value from the provisions consumed in procuring them.
7. The produce of the earth, thus converted into manufactures, may be more easily carried to distant markets than before such conversion.
8.Fair commerce is, where equal values are exchanged for equal, the expense of transport included. Thus, if it costs A in England as much labor and charge to raise a bushel of wheat, as it costs B in France to produce four gallons of wine, then are four gallons of wine the fair exchange for a bushel of wheat, A and B meeting at half distance with their commodities to make the exchange. The advantage of this fair commerce is, that each party increases the number of his enjoyments, having, instead of wheat alone, or wine alone, the use of both wheat and wine.
9. Where the labor and expense of producing both commodities are known to both parties, bargains will generally be fair and equal. Where they are known to one party only, bargains will often be unequal, knowledge taking its advantage of ignorance.
10. Thus, he that carries one thousand bushels of wheat abroad to sell, may not probably obtain so great a profit thereon as if he had first turned the wheat into manufactures, by subsisting therewith the workmen while producing those manufactures; since there are many expediting and facilitating methods of working not generally known; and strangers to the manufactures, though they know pretty well the expense of raising wheat, are unacquainted with those short methods of working, and thence being apt to suppose more labor employed in the manufactures than there really is, are more easily imposed on in their value, and induced to allow more for them than they are honestly worth.1
11. Thus the advantage of having manufactures in a country does not consist, as is commonly supposed, in their highly advancing the value of rough materials, of which they are formed; since, though six pennyworth of flax may be worth twenty shillings when worked into lace, yet the very cause of its being worth twenty shillings is, that, besides the flax, it has cost nineteen shillings and sixpence in subsistence to the manufacturer. But the advantage of manufactures is, that under their shape provisions may be more easily carried to a foreign market; and, by their means, our traders may more easily cheat strangers.1 Few, where it is not made, are judges of the value of lace. The importer may demand forty, and perhaps get thirty, shillings for that which cost him but twenty.
12. Finally, there seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbours. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.
TO SAMUEL COOPER
London, 27 April, 1769.
I received your favor of February 27th, by Captain Carver, and thank you for giving me an opportunity of being acquainted with so great a traveller. I shall be glad if I can render him any service here.1
The Parliament remain fixed in their resolution not to repeal the duty acts this session, and will rise next Tuesday. I hope my country folks will remain as fixed in their resolutions of industry and frugality, till these acts are repealed. And, if I could be sure of that, I should almost wish them never to be repealed; being persuaded that we shall reap more solid and extensive advantages from the steady practice of those two great virtues, than we can possibly suffer damage from all the duties the Parliament of this kingdom can levy on us. They flatter themselves you cannot long subsist without their manufactures. They believe you have not virtue enough to persist in such agreements. They imagine the colonies will differ among themselves, deceive and desert one another, and quietly one after the other submit to the yoke, and return to the use of British fineries. They think, that, though the men may be contented with homespun stuffs, the women will never get the better of their vanity and fondness for English modes and gewgaws. The ministerial people all talk in this strain, and many even of the merchants. I have ventured to assert that they will all find themselves mistaken; and I rely so much on the spirit of my country, as to be confident I shall not be found a false prophet, though at present not believed.
I hope nothing that has happened, or may happen, will diminish in the least our loyalty to our Sovereign, or affection for this nation in general. I can scarcely conceive a King of better dispositions, of more exemplary virtues, or more truly desirous of promoting the welfare of all his subjects. The experience we have had of the family in the two preceding mild reigns, and the good temper of our young princes, so far as can yet be discovered, promise us a continuance of this felicity.1 The body of this people, too, is of a noble and generous nature, loving and honoring the spirit of liberty, and hating arbitrary power of all sorts. We have many, very many, friends among them.
But, as to the Parliament, though I might excuse that which made the acts, as being surprised and misled into the measure, I know not how to excuse this, which, under the fullest conviction of its being a wrong one, resolves to continue it. It is decent, indeed, in your public papers to speak as you do of the “wisdom and the justice of Parliament”; but now that the subject is more thoroughly understood, if this new Parliament had been really wise, it would not have refused even to receive a petition against the acts; and, if it had been just, it would have repealed them, and refunded the money. Perhaps it may be wiser and juster another year, but that is not to be depended on.
If, under all the insults and oppressions you are now exposed to, you can prudently, as you have lately done, continue quiet, avoiding tumults, but still resolutely keeping up your claims and asserting your rights, you will finally establish them, and this military cloud that now blusters over you will pass away, and do no more harm than a summer thunder shower. But the advantages of your perseverance in industry and frugality will be great and permanent. Your debts will be paid, your farms will be better improved and yield a greater produce; your real wealth will increase in a plenty of every useful home production and all the true enjoyments of life, even though no foreign trade should be allowed you; and this handicraft, shop-keeping state will, for its own sake, learn to behave more civilly to its customers.1
Your late governor, Mr. Pownall, appears a hearty friend to America. He moved last week for a repeal of the acts, and was seconded by General Conway, Sir George Saville, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Trecothick, and others, but did not succeed. A friend has favored me with a copy of the notes taken of Mr. Pownall’s speech, which I send you, believing it will be agreeable to you and some other of our friends to see them. You will observe in some parts of it the language a member of Parliament is obliged to hold, on American topics, if he would at all be heard in the House. He has given notice that he will renew the motion at the next and every session. All Ireland is strongly in favor of the American cause. They have reason to sympathize with us. I send you four pamphlets written in Ireland, or by Irish gentlemen here, in which you will find some excellent, well-said things. With the greatest esteem, I am, my dear friend, &c.,
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
London, 27 April, 1769.
—— Mrs. Stevenson has executed your order, and sends the things in a bandbox directed to you. A new-fashioned something, that was not ready when the box was packed up, is enclosed in her letter.
I am now grown too old to be ambitious of such a station as that which you say has been mentioned to you. Repose is more fit for me, and much more suitable to my wishes. There is no danger of such a thing being offered to me, and I am sure I shall never ask it. But if it were offered, I certainly could not accept it, to act under such instructions as I know must be given with it. So you may be quite easy on that head.1
The account you write of the growing industry, frugality, and good sense of my countrywomen gives me more pleasure than you can imagine; for from thence I presage great advantages to our country. I should be sorry that you are engaged in a business which happens not to coincide with the general interest, if you did not acquaint me that you are now near the end of it.
TO THE LONDON CHRONICLE1
While the public attention is so much turned towards America, every letter from thence that promises new information, is pretty generally read. It seems, therefore, the more necessary that care should be taken to disabuse the public, when those letters contain facts false in themselves, and representations injurious to bodies of people, or even to private persons.
In your paper, No. 310, I found an extract of a letter, said to be from a gentleman in General Abercrombie’s army. As there are several strokes in it tending to render the colonies despicable, and even odious, to the mother country, which may have ill consequences, and no notice having been taken of the injuries contained in that letter, other letters of the same nature have since been published; permit me to make a few observations on it.
The writer says: “New England was settled by Presbyterians and Independents, who took shelter there from the persecutions of Archbishop Laud; they still retain their original character; they generally hate the Church of England,” says he. It is very true that if some resentment still remained for the hardships their fathers suffered, it might perhaps be not much wondered at; but the fact is, that the moderation of the present Church of England towards dissenters in Old as well as New England, had quite effaced those impressions; the dissenters, too, are become less rigid and scrupulous, and the good-will between those different bodies in that country is now both mutual and equal.
He goes on: “They came out with a levelling spirit, and they retain it. They cannot bear to think that one man should be exorbitantly rich, and another poor; so that, except in the seaport towns, there are few great estates among them. This equality produces also a rusticity of manners; for their language, dress, and in all their behaviour, they are more boorish than any thing you ever saw in a certain northern latitude.” One would imagine, from this account, that those who were growing poor plundered those who were growing rich, to preserve this equality, and that property had no protection; whereas, in fact, it is nowhere more secure than in the New England colonies; the law is nowhere better executed, or justice obtained at less expense. The equality he speaks of arises first from a more equal distribution of lands by the assemblies in the first settlement than has been practised in the other colonies, where favourites of governors have obtained enormous tracts for trifling considerations, to the prejudice both of the crown revenues and the public good; and secondly, from the nature of their occupation; husbandmen with small tracts of land, though they may by industry maintain themselves and families in mediocrity, having few means of acquiring great wealth, especially in a young colony that is to be supplied with its clothing and many other expensive articles of consumption from the mother country. Their dress the gentleman may be a more critical judge of than I can pretend to be; all I know of it is, that they wear the manufacture of Britain, and follow its fashions perhaps too closely, every remarkable change in the mode making its appearance there within a few months after its invention here; a natural effect of their constant intercourse with England, by ships arriving almost every week from the capital, their respect for the mother country, and admiration of every thing that is British. But as to their language, I must beg this gentleman’s pardon, if I differ from him. His ear, accustomed perhaps to the dialect practised in the certain northern latitude he mentions may not be qualified to judge so nicely what relates to pure English. And I appeal to all Englishmen here, who have been acquainted with the colonists, whether it is not a common remark, that they speak the language with such an exactness both of expression and accent, that though you may know the natives of several of the counties of England, by peculiarities in their dialect, you cannot by that means distinguish a North American. All the new books and pamphlets worth reading, that are published here, in a few weeks are transmitted and found there, where there is not a man or woman born in the country but what can read; and it must, I think, be a pleasing reflection to those who write either for the benefit of the present age or of posterity, to find their audience increasing with the increase of our colonies, and their language extending itself beyond the narrow bounds of these islands, to a continent larger than all Europe, and to future empire as fully peopled, which Britain may one day probably possess in those vast western regions.
But the gentleman makes more injurious comparisons than these:
“That latitude,” he says, “has this advantage over them, that it has produced sharp, acute men, fit for war or learning, whereas the others are remarkably simple, or silly, and blunder eternally. We have six thousand of their militia, which the general would willingly exchange for two thousand regulars. They are forever marring some one or other of our plans, when sent to execute them. They can, indeed, some of them at least, range in the woods; but three hundred Indians with their yell throw three thousand of them in a panic, and then they will leave nothing for the enemy to do, for they will shoot one another; and in the woods our regulars are afraid to be on a command with them on that very account.” I doubt, Mr. Chronicle, that this paragraph, when it comes to be read in America, will have no good effect; and rather increase that inconvenient disgust which is too apt to arise between the troops of different corps, or countries, who are obliged to serve together. Will not a New England officer be apt to retort and say, what foundation have you for this odious distinction in favour of the officers from your certain northern latitude? They may, as you say, be fit for learning; but, surely, that return of your first general, with a well-appointed and sufficient force, from his expedition against Louisbourg, without so much as seeing the place, is not the most shining proof of his talents for war. And no one will say his plan was marred by us, for we were not with him. Was his successor who conducted the blundering attack, and inglorious retreat from Ticonderoga, a New England man, or one of that certain latitude? Then as to the comparison between regulars and provincials, will not the latter remark that it was two thousand New England provincials, with about one hundred and fifty regulars that took the strong fort of Beaudejour in the beginning of the war; though in the accounts transmitted to the English gazette, the honor was claimed by the regulars, and little or no notice taken of the others. That it was the provincials who beat General Dieskau with his regulars, Canadians, and “yelling Indians,” and sent him prisoner to England. That it was a provincial-born officer, with American batteaux-men, that beat the French and Indians on Oswego River. That it was the same officer, with provincials, who made that long and admirable march into the enemy’s country, took and destroyed Fort Frontenac, with the whole French fleet on the lakes, and struck terror into the heart of Canada. That it was a provincial officer, with provincials only, who made another extraordinary march into the enemy’s country, surprised and destroyed the Indian town of Kittanning, bringing off the scalps of their chiefs. That one ranging captain of a few provincials, Rogers, has harassed the enemy more on the frontiers of Canada, and destroyed more of their men, than the whole army of regulars. That it was the regulars who surrendered themselves, with the provincials under their command, prisoners of war, almost as soon as they were besieged, with the forts, fleets, and all the provisions and stores that had been provided and amassed to so immense expense at Oswego. That it was the regulars who surrendered Fort William Henry, and suffered themselves to be butchered and scalped with arms in their hands. That it was the regulars under Braddock, who were thrown into a panic by the “yells of three or four hundred Indians,” in their confusion shot one another, and, with five times the force of the enemy, fled before them, destroying all their own stores, ammunition and provisions. These regular gentlemen, will the provincial rangers add, may possibly be afraid, as they say they are, to be on a command with us in the woods; but when it is considered that, from all past experience, the chance of our shooting them is not as one to a hundred, compared with that of their being shot by the enemy, may it not be suspected, that what they give as the very account of their fear and unwillingness to venture out with us, is only the very excuse; and that a concern for their scalps weighs more with them than a regard for their honor.
Such as these, sir, I imagine may be the reflections extorted by such provocation from the provincials in general. But the New England men in particular will have reason to resent the remarks on their reduction of Louisbourg. Your writer proceeds “Indeed they are all very ready to make their boast of taking Louisbourg, in 1745; but if people were to be acquitted or condemned according to the propriety and wisdom of their plans, and not according to their success, the persons that undertook the siege merited little praise; for I have heard officers who assisted at it say, never was any thing more rash; for had one single part of their plan failed, or had the French made the fortieth part of the resistance then that they have made now, every soul of the New Englanders must have fallen in the trenches. The garrison was weak, sickly, and destitute of provisions, and disgusted, and therefore became a ready prey; and, when they returned to France, were decimated for their gallant defence.” Where then is the glory arising from thence? After denying his facts: “that the garrison was weak, wanted provisions, made not a fortieth part of the resistance, were decimated,” &c., the New England men will ask this regular gentleman, if the place was well fortified, and had (as it really had) a numerous garrison, was it not at least brave to attack it with a handful of raw, undisciplined militia? If the garrison was, as you say, “sickly, disgusted, destitute of provisions, and ready to become a prey,” was it not prudent to seize the opportunity, and put the nation in possession of so important a fortress, at so small an expense? So that if you will not allow the enterprise to be, as we think it was, both brave and prudent, ought you not at least to grant it was either one or the other? But is there no merit on this score in the people, who, though at first so greatly divided, as to the making or forbearing the attempt, that it was carried in the affirmative by the small majority of one vote only; yet when it was once resolved on, unanimously prosecuted the design, and prepared the means with the greatest zeal and diligence; so that the whole equipment was completely ready before the season would permit the execution? Is there no merit or praise in laying and executing their plan so well, that, as you have confessed, not a single part of it failed? If the plan was destitute of “propriety and wisdom,” would it not have required the sharp, acute men of the northern latitude to execute it, that by supplying its deficiencies they might give it some chance of success? But if such “remarkably silly, simple, blundering mar plans,” as you say we are, could execute this plan, so that not a single part of it failed, does it not at least show that the plan itself must be laid with some “wisdom and propriety”? Is there no merit in the ardour with which all degrees and ranks of people quitted their private affairs and ranged themselves under the banners of their king, for the honor, safety, and advantage of their country? Is there no merit in the profound secrecy guarded by a whole people, so that the enemy had not the least intelligence of the design, till they saw the fleet of transports cover the sea before their port? Is there none in the indefatigable labour the troops went through during the siege, performing the duty of both men and horses; the hardship they patiently suffered for want of tents and other necessaries; the readiness with which they learnt to move, direct, and manage cannon, raise batteries, and form approaches; the bravery with which they sustained sallies; and finally, in their consenting to stay and garrison the place after it was taken, absent from their business and families, till troops could be brought from England for that purpose, though they undertook the service on a promise of being discharged as soon as it was over, were unprovided for so long an absence, and actually suffered ten times more loss by mortal sickness through want of necessaries, than they suffered from the arms of the enemy? The nation, however, had a sense of this undertaking different from the unkind one of this gentleman. At the treaty of peace, the possession of Louisbourg was found of great advantage to our affairs in Europe; and if the brave men that made the acquisition for us were not rewarded, at least they were praised. Envy may continue a while to cavil and detract, but public virtue will in the end obtain esteem; and honest impartiality, in this and future ages, will not fail doing justice to merit.
Your gentleman writer thus decently goes on: “The most substantial men of most of the provinces are children or grandchildren of those that came here at the king’s expense—that is, thieves, highwaymen, and robbers.” Being probably a military gentleman, this, and therefore a person of nice honour, if any one should tell him in the plainest language that what he here says is an absolute falsehood, challenges and cutting of throats might immediately ensue. I shall therefore only refer to his own account in this same letter, of the peopling of New England, which he says, with more truth, was by Puritans, who fled thither for shelter from the persecutions of Archbishop Laud. Is there not a wide difference between removing to a distant country to enjoy the exercise of religion according to a man’s conscience, and his being transported thither by a law, as a punishment for his crimes? This contradiction we therefore leave the gentleman and himself to settle as well as they can between them. One would think from his account that the provinces were so many colonies from Newgate. The truth is, not only Laud’s persecution, but the other public troubles in the following reigns, induced many thousand families to leave England and settle in the plantations. During the predominance of the Parliament many Royalists removed or were banished to Virginia and Barbadoes, who afterwards spread into other settlements. The Catholics sheltered themselves in Maryland. At the Restoration many of the deprived non-conformist ministers, with their families, friends, and hearers, went over. Towards the end of Charles the Second’s reign, and during James the Second’s, the dissenters again flocked into America, driven by persecution, and dreading the introduction at home. Then the high price or reward of labour in the colonies and want of artisans there drew over many, as well as the occasion of commerce; and when once people begin to migrate, every one has his little sphere of acquaintance and connections, which he draws after him by invitation, motives of interest, praising his new settlement, and other encouragements. The “most substantial men” are descendants of those early settlers, new comers not having yet had time to raise estates. The practice of sending convicts thither is modern; and the same indolence of temper and habits of idleness that make people poor and tempt them to steal in England continue with them when they are sent to America, and must there have the same effects, where all who live well owe their subsistence to labour and business, and where it is a thousand times more difficult than here to acquire wealth without industry. Hence the instances of transported thieves advancing their fortunes in the colonies are extremely rare; if there really is a single instance of it, which I very much doubt; but of their being advanced there to the gallows the instances are plenty. Might they not as well have been hanged at home? We call Britain the mother country; but what good mother would introduce thieves and criminals into the company of her children to corrupt and disgrace them? And how cruel is it to force, by the high hand of power, a particular country of your subjects, who have not deserved such usage, to receive your outcasts, repealing all the laws they make to prevent their admission, and then reproach them with the detested mixture you have made! “Their emptying their jails into our settlements,” says a writer of that country, “is an insult and contempt, the cruellest perhaps that ever one people offered to another, and would not be equalled even by emptying their jakes on tables.”
The letter I have been considering, Mr. Chronicle, is followed by another in your paper of Tuesday, the 17th, past, said to be from an officer who attended Brigadier-General Forbes, in his march from Philadelphia to Fort Du Quesne, but written probably by the same gentleman who wrote the former, as it seems calculated to raise the character of the officers of the certain northern latitude, at the expense of the reputation of the colonies and the provincial forces. According to this letter-writer, if the Pennsylvanians granted large supplies and raised a great body of troops for the last campaign, this was not on account of Mr. Pitt’s zeal for the king’s service, or even a regard for their own safety; but it was owing to the “general’s proper management of the Quakers and other parties in the province.” The withdrawing the Indians from the French interest, by negotiating a peace, is all ascribed to the general, and not a word said of the honour of the poor Quakers, who first set these negotiations on foot, or of honest Frederick Post, that completed them with so much ability and success. Even the little merit of the Assembly’s making a law to regulate carriages is imputed to the general’s “multitude of letters.” Then he tells us “innumerable scouting parties had been sent out during a long period, both by the general and Colonel Bouquet, towards Fort Du Quesne, to catch a prisoner, if possible, for intelligence, but never got any.” How happened that? Why, “it was the provincial troops that were constantly employed in that service,” and they, it seems, never do any thing they are ordered to do. That, however, one would think might be easily remedied, by sending regulars with them, who, of course, must command them, and may see that they do their duty. No; the regulars are afraid of being shot by the provincials in a panic. Then send all regulars. Aye; that was what the colonel resolved upon. “Intelligence was now wanted [says the letter-writer]; Col. Bouquet, whose attention to business was [only] very considerable [that is, not quite so great as the general’s for he was not of the northern latitude], was determined to send no more provincials a-scouting.” And how did he execute his determination? Why, by sending “Major Grant, of the Highlanders, with seven hundred men, three hundred of them Highlanders, the rest Americans, Virginians, and Pennsylvanians.” No blunder this in our writer, but a misfortune; and he is, nevertheless, one of those “acute sharp” men who are “fit for learning.” And how did this major and seven hundred men succeed in catching the prisoner? Why, their “march to Fort Du Quesne was so conducted the surprise was complete.” Perhaps you may imagine, gentle reader, that this was a surprise of the enemy. No such matter. They knew every step of his motions, and had, every man of them, left their fires and huts in the fields, and retired into the fort. But the major and his seven hundred men, they were surprised,—first to find nobody there at night, and next to find themselves surrounded and cut to pieces in the morning, two or three hundred being killed, drowned, or taken prisoners, and among the latter the major himself. Those who escaped were also surprised at their own good fortune; and the whole army was surprised at the major’s bad management. Thus the surprise was indeed complete, but not the disgrace; for provincials were there to lay the blame on. The misfortune (we must not call it misconduct) of the major was owing, it seems, to an unnamed and, perhaps, unknown provincial officer, who, it is said, “disobeyed his orders and quitted his post.” Whence a formal conclusion is drawn, “that a planter is not to be taken from the plough and made an officer on a day.” Unhappy provincials! If success attends where you are joined with the regulars, they claim all the honour, though not a tenth part of your number. If disgrace, it is all yours, though you happen to be a small part of the whole, and have not the command; as if regulars were in their nature invincible when not mixed with provincials, and provincials of no kind of value without regulars. Happy is it for you that you were neither present at Prestonpans nor Falkirk, at the faint attempt against Rochfort, the rout of St. Cas, or the hasty retreat from Martinico. Every thing that went wrong, or did not go right, would have been ascribed to you. Our commanders would have been saved the labour of writing long apologies for their conduct. It might have been sufficient to say, provincials were with us.
A New Englandman.
May 9, 1769.
TO MISS MARY STEVENSON
Tuesday Morning, 27 June, 1769.
Agreeably to your orders, delivered to me very punctually by Temple, I return you enclosed, Voltaire’s verses. The translation I think full as good as the original. Remember that I am to have them again.
I take this opportunity to send you, also, a late paper, containing a melancholy account of the distresses of some seamen. You will observe in it the advantages they received from wearing their clothes constantly wet with salt water, under the total want of fresh water to drink. You may remember I recommended this practice many years ago. Do you know Dr. Len, and did you communicate it to him? I fancy his name is wrong spelt in this paper, and that it should be Lind, having seen in the Review some extracts from a book on sea diseases, published within these two or three years, by one Dr. Lind; but I have not seen the book, and know not whether such a passage be in it.
I need not point out to you an observation in favor of our doctrine, that you will make on reading this paper, that, having little to eat, these poor people in wet clothes day and night caught no cold.
My respects to your aunt, and love to all that love you. Yours affectionately,
TO THE COMMITTEE OF MERCHANTS IN PHILADELPHIA
London, 9 July, 1769.
I received yours of the 18th of April enclosing copies of the articles of your agreements with respect to importation, and of your letter to the merchants here. The letter was published, and universally spoken well of, as a well-written, sensible, manly, and spirited performance; and I believe the publication has been of service to our cause. You are in my opinion perfectly right in your supposition, that “the redress of American grievances likely to be proposed by the ministry will at first only be partial; and that it is intended to retain some of the revenue duties, in order to establish a right of Parliament to tax the colonies.” But I hope that, by persisting steadily in the measure you have so laudably entered into, you will, if backed by the general honest resolution of the people to buy British goods of no others, but to manufacture for themselves, or use colony manufactures only, be the means, under God, of recovering and establishing the freedom of our country entire, and of handing it down complete to posterity.
And in the meantime the country will be enriched by its industry and frugality. These virtues will become habitual. Farms will be more improved, better stocked, and rendered more productive by the money that used to be spent in superfluities. Our artificers of every kind will be enabled to carry on their business to more advantage; gold and silver will become more plenty among us, and trade will revive, after things shall be well settled, and become better and safer than it has lately been; for an industrious, frugal people are best able to buy, and pay best for what they purchase. With great regard, I have the honor, to be, &c.,
TO JOHN BARTRAM
London, 9 July, 1769.
It is with great pleasure I understand by your favor of April 10th that you continue to enjoy so good a share of health. I hope it will long continue. And although it may not now be suitable for you to make such wide excursions as heretofore, you may yet be very useful to your country and to mankind, if you sit down quietly at home, digest the knowledge you have acquired, and compile and publish the many observations you have made, and point out the advantages that may be drawn from the whole, in public undertakings or particular private practice. It is true, many people are fond of accounts of old buildings and monuments; but there is a number who would be much better pleased with such accounts as you could afford them. And, for one, I confess that if I could find in any Italian travels a receipt for making Parmesan cheese, it would give me more satisfaction than a transcript of any inscription from any old stone whatever.
I suppose Mr. Michael Collinson, or Dr. Fothergill, has written to you what may be necessary for your information relating to your affairs here. I imagine there is no doubt but the King’s bounty to you will be continued; and that it will be proper for you to continue sending now and then a few such curious seeds as you can procure, to keep up your claim. And now I mention seeds, I wish you would send me a few of such as are least common, to the value of a guinea, which Mr. Foxcroft will pay you for me. They are for a particular friend, who is very curious. If in any thing I can serve you here, command freely. Your affectionate friend,
TO JAMES BOWDOIN
London, 13 July, 1769.
I am honored with yours of May 10th, and agree with you perfectly in your sentiments of public affairs. Government here seems now to be growing more moderate with regard to America, and I am persuaded that, by a steady, prudent conduct, we shall finally obtain all our important points, and establish American liberty on a clearer and firmer foundation. The folly of the late measures begins to be seen and understood at court; their promoters grow out of credit, and the trading part of the nation, with the manufacturers, are become sensible how necessary it is for their welfare to be on good terms with us. The petitioners of Middlesex and of London have numbered among their grievances the unconstitutional taxes on America, and similar petitions are expected from all quarters. So that I think we need only be quiet, and persevere in our schemes of frugality and industry, and the rest will do itself.
Your governor1 is recalled, and it is said the commissioners2 will follow soon, or be new modelled with some more men of discretion among them. I am just setting out on a journey of five or six weeks, and have now only time to add that I am, with the greatest esteem and regard, dear Sir, &c.,
TO M. DUBOURG3
London, 30 August, 1769.
This letter will be forwarded to you by Dr. Lettsom, a young American physician of much merit, and one of the peaceable sect of Quakers. You will therefore at least regard him as a curiosity, even though you should have embraced all the opinions of the majority of your countrymen concerning these people.
FROM MISS MARY STEVENSON TO B. FRANKLIN
Margate, 1 September, 1769.
Welcome to England! my dear, my honored friend. Just as I began a letter to my mother, I received the news of your arrival.1 I have the same confidence in my parent that the Esquimaux woman had in hers; for if my mother did not know “I always speak truth,” I could not venture to say what she might be apt to doubt. I confess she has some reason to complain of me; I must not complain of her; I have written to her but once since I came hither, and she ——. A blank will conclude that sentence. I have had the satisfaction to hear of her by several of my correspondents. I hope you will intercede for me, that I may not be severely rebuked. Indeed, my expedition has afforded me so little entertainment, that I could not have given her any by my letters, and I know she is not so well affected to the government as to wish to increase the revenue without some advantage to herself. She is a very good subject, notwithstanding; and a faithful disciple of yours in all points, but that of tribute. There her daughter exceeds her; for, convinced by your arguments, I turn a deaf ear to all invitations to smuggling, and in such a place as this it is well to have one’s honesty guarded.
As I have cast a censure upon the inhabitants of this place, I must, for the honor of my landlord and his family, tell you that they condemn and avoid those illicit practices, which are too common here. Indeed the exemplary conduct of these good people would make me join their sect, if reason would qualify me for it; but they are happily got into the flights of enthusiasm, which I cannot reach. They are certainly the happiest people, and I should be glad to be like them; but my reason will not suffer me, and my heart prevents my playing the hypocrite; so your Polly must remain as she is, neither in the world, nor out of it. How strangely I let my pen run on to a philosopher! But that philosopher is my friend, and I may write what I please to him.
I met with a very sensible physician yesterday, who prescribes abstinence for the cure of consumptions. He must be clever, because he thinks as we do. I would not have you or my mother surprised, if I should run off with this young man. To be sure it would be an imprudent step, at the discreet age of thirty; but there is no saying what one should do, if solicited by a man of an insinuating address and good person, though he may be too young for one, and not yet established in his profession. He engaged me so deeply in conversation, and I was so much pleased with him, that I thought it necessary to give you warning, though I assure you he has made no proposal.1
How I rattle! This flight must be owing to this new acquaintance, or to the joy of hearing my old one is returned to this country. I know which I attribute it to, for I can tell when my spirits were enlivened; but you may think as you please, if you will believe me to be, dear Sir, your truly affectionate humble servant,
TO MISS MARY STEVENSON
Saturday Evening, 2 September, 1769.
Just come home from a venison feast, where I have drunk more than a philosopher ought, I find my dear Polly’s cheerful, chatty letter, that exhilarates me more than all the wine.
Your good mother says there is no occasion for any intercession of mine in your behalf. She is sensible that she is more in fault than her daughter. She received an affectionate, tender letter from you, and she has not answered it, though she intended to do it; but her head, not her heart, has been bad, and unfitted her for writing. She owns that she is not so good a subject as you are, and that she is more unwilling to pay tribute to Cæsar, and has less objection to smuggling. But it is not, she says, mere selfishness or avarice; it is rather an honest resentment at the waste of those taxes in pensions, salaries, perquisites, contracts, and other emoluments for the benefit of people she does not love, and who do not deserve such advantages, because—I suppose— because they are not of her party.
Present my respects to your good landlord and his family. I honor them for their conscientious aversion to illicit trading. There are those in the world who would not wrong a neighbour, but make no scruple of cheating the King. The reverse, however, does not hold; for whoever scruples cheating the King, will certainly not wrong his neighbour.
You ought not to wish yourself an enthusiast. They have, indeed, their imaginary satisfactions and pleasures, but these are often balanced by imaginary pains and mortification. You can continue to be a good girl, and thereby lay a solid foundation for expected future happiness, without the enthusiasm that may perhaps be necessary to some others. As those beings who have a good sensible instinct have no need of reason, so those who have reason to regulate their actions have no occasion for enthusiasm. However, there are certain circumstances in life, sometimes, where it is perhaps best not to hearken to reason. For instance: possibly, if the truth were known, I have reason to be jealous of this same insinuating, handsome young physician; but, as it flatters more my vanity, and therefore gives me more pleasure, to suppose you were in spirits on account of my safe return, I shall turn a deaf ear to reason in this case, as I have done with success in twenty others. But I am sure you will always give me reason enough to continue your ever affectionate friend,
P. S.—Our love to Mrs. Tickell. We shall long for your return. Your Dolly was well last Tuesday; the girls were there on a visit to her; I mean at Bromley. Adieu. No time now to give you any account of my French journey.
TO CADWALLADER EVANS
London, 7 September, 1769.
I now have before me your favors of June 11th and June 15th. I thank you for communicating to me the observations of the transit made by Messrs. Biddle and Bayley. I gave them immediately to Mr. Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal, who will compare and digest the whole received from different parts of the world, and report thereon to the Royal Society. They are the only ones I have received from our Society; those made by the others were sent to Mr. Penn. Being last week with Mr. Maskelyne, at Flamsteed House, I found he had got them. I shall send him to-day the corrected account, which I have since received from you by way of Liverpool.
I should be very sorry that any thing of party remained in the American Philosophical Society after the union. Here the Royal Society is of all parties, but party is entirely out of the question in all our proceedings.1
It grieves me to hear that our friend Galloway is in so bad a state of health. He should make a long journey, or take a sea voyage. I wish he would come to London for the winter.
Mr. Henry’s Register, which you communicated to me last year, is thought a very ingenious one, and will be published here, though it has long been delayed. I have not seen Mrs. Dowell. I suppose she is not yet come to town. At least I have not heard of her being here, though possibly she might while I was in France.
Our friend W——, who is always complaining of a constant fever, looks nevertheless fresh and jolly, and does not fall away in the least. He was saying the other day at Richmond (where we were together dining with Governor Pownall) that he had been pestered with a fever almost continually for these three years past, and that it gave way to no medicines; all he had taken, advised by different physicians, having never any effect towards removing it. On which I asked him if it was not now time to inquire whether he had really any fever at all. He is indeed the only instance I ever knew of a man growing fat upon a fever. But I see no occasion for reading him the lecture you desired, for he appears to me extremely temperate in his eating and drinking. His affairs here are I think in a good train, but every thing to be transacted in our great offices requires time. I suppose he will hardly be able to return before the spring.
By a ship just sailed from hence (the captain a stranger, whose name I have forgotten), I send you a a late French treatise on the management of silkworms. It is said to be the best hitherto published, being written in the silk country by a gentleman well acquainted with the whole affair. It seems to me to be, like many other French writings, rather too much drawn out in words; but some extracts from it, of the principal directions, might be of use, if you would translate and publish them. I think the bounty is offered for silk from all the colonies in general. I will send you the act. But I believe it must be wound from the cocoons, and sent over in skeins. The cocoons would spoil on the passage, by the dead worm corrupting and staining the silk. A public filature should be set up for winding them there; or every family should learn to wind their own. In Italy they are all brought to market, from the neighbouring country, and bought up by those that keep the filatures. In Sicily each family winds its own silk, for the sake of having the remains to card and spin for family use. If some provision were made by the Assembly for promoting the growth of mulberry trees in all parts of the provinces, the culture of silk might afterwards follow easily. For the great discouragement to breeding worms at first is the difficulty of getting leaves and the being obliged to go far for them.
There is no doubt with me but that it might succeed in our country. It is the happiest of all inventions for clothing. Wool uses a good deal of land to produce it, which, if employed in raising corn, would afford much more subsistence for man than the mutton amounts to. Flax and hemp require good land, impoverish it, and at the same time permit it to produce no food at all. But mulberry trees may be planted in hedgerows on walks or avenues, or for shade near a house, where nothing else is wanted to grow. The food for the worms, which produce the silk, is in the air, and the ground under the trees may still produce grass, or some other vegetable good for man or beast. Then the wear of silken garments continues so much longer, from the strength of the materials, as to give it greatly the preference. Hence it is that the most populous of all countries, China, clothes its inhabitants with silk, while it feeds them plentifully, and has besides a vast quantity, both raw and manufactured, to spare for exportation. Raw silk here, in skeins well wound, sells from twenty to twenty-five shillings per pound; but if badly wound is not worth five shillings. Well wound is, when the threads are made to cross each other every way in the skein, and only touch where they cross. Badly wound is, when they are laid parallel to each other; for so they are glued together, break in unwinding them, and take a vast deal of time more than the other, by losing the end every time the thread breaks. When once you can raise plenty of silk, you may have manufactures enough from hence. With great esteem, I am, my dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO SAMUEL COOPER
London, 30 September, 1769.
Your favor of August 3d has given me great pleasure. I have only time now to acknowledge the receipt of it, but purpose to write fully by the next opportunity. I am just returned from France, where I found our dispute much attended to, several of our pamphlets being translated and printed there, among the rest my Examination1 and the Farmer’s Letters,2 with two of my pieces annexed, of which last I send you a copy. In short, all Europe (except Britain) appears to be on our side of the question. But Europe has its reasons. It fancies itself in some danger from the growth of British power, and would be glad to see it divided against itself. Our prudence will, I hope, long postpone the satisfaction our enemies expect from our dissensions. With sincere and great esteem, I am, dear Sir, &c.,
I do not know that we have in any author particular and separate directions concerning the ventilating of hospitals, crowded rooms, or dwelling-houses, or the making of proper drains for carrying off stagnant or putrid water. The want of such general information on these subjects has induced me to endeavour to recollect all I can of the many instructive conversations I have had upon these matters with that judicious and most accurate observer of nature, Dr. Benjamin Franklin. I do this in hopes that either the Doctor himself or some other person well qualified for the task may follow the example set in so masterly a manner by Sir John Pringle, Baronet, when speaking on the preservation of the health of seamen.
It has long been observed that if a number of persons are shut up in a small room, of which the internal air has little or no communication with the external, the respiration of those who are so confined renders by degrees the air of that room effete and unfit for the support of life.
Dr. Franklin was, if I mistake not, the first who observed that respiration communicated to the air a quality resembling the mephitic, such as the Grotto del Cane, near Naples. The air impressed with this quality rises only to a certain height, beyond which it gradually loses it. The amendment begins in the upper part, and descends gradually until the whole becomes capable of sustaining life. The Doctor confirmed this by the following experiment. He breathed gently through a tube into a deep glass mug, so as to impregnate all the air in the mug with this quality. He then put a lighted bougie into the mug, and upon touching the air therein the flame was instantly extinguished. By frequently repeating this operation the bougie gradually preserved its light longer in the mug, so as in a short time to retain it to the bottom of it, the air having totally lost the bad quality it had contracted from the breath blown into it.
At the same time that the lower part of the air is thus affected, an acrid, noxious quality may be communicated to its upper part in the room, occasioned by the volatile putrescent effluvia of the persons enclosed therein. “It is surprising,” says Sir John Pringle, in his Observations on the Diseases of the Army, fourth edition, p. 109, “in how few days the air will be corrupted in close and crowded wards; and what makes it hard to remedy the evil, is the difficulty of convincing either nurses or the sick themselves, of the necessity of opening the windows and doors at any time for a supply of fresh air.”
It may be inferred from the above account of mephitic air, that such air can be but little altered by a ventilator in the ceiling of a room; and Dr. Franklin justly concluded, that in crowded rooms, and especially in bedrooms in dwelling-houses, a current of air should be kept up in the lower part of the rooms, to carry off what is thus affected. He approved of the use of chimneys for this purpose, especially when the current is quickened by a fire. Even when there is not any fire in the chimney, a current of air is constantly kept up in it, by its ascending or descending in the flue, as the weight of the internal or external air preponderates. This creates a kind of tide in the flue, conducing much to the healthiness of air in rooms; and hence we may see the injudiciousness of having chimney-boards which fit closely, and thereby prevent a salutary circulation in the air. Hence also in warm weather we may account for liquors or other things kept in a chimney being cooled, and more so if means are used to create an evaporation around them.
Every person has an atmosphere of his own, heated by the warmth of his body, which can be dissipated only by motion in the circumambient air. Thus in warm weather, wind cools the body, by carrying off the personal atmosphere, and promoting at the same time a more free evaporation of the effluvia arising from the body. This creates a great degree of coolness on the skin. The personal atmosphere can be but little affected by a ventilator in the ceiling of a room, unless the admission of external air is so directed as to act principally on the air surrounding those in the room. Dr. Franklin, when consulted on ventilating the House of Commons, represented that the personal atmosphere surrounding the members might be carried off by making outlets in the perpendicular parts of the seats, through which the air might be drawn off by ventilators so placed as to accomplish this without admitting any by the same channels. It will appear from what has been said, that windows placed high in the walls of churches or rooms intended for large assemblies, can contribute but little towards correcting the mephitic quality of the lower part of the air, or towards carrying off the personal atmospheres.
The experiments made for ventilating crowded rooms by that most beneficent of men, the Reverend Dr. Stephen Hales, bring evident proof how much the upper part of the air in such places is vitiated by the volatile putrescent effluvia arising from the persons present in such rooms. He at the same time showed an easy and effectual way to carry off such vitiated air. His ventilators were, however, attended with the inconveniency of occasioning smoky chimneys, by drawing off so much air, that there was not a sufficiency left to keep a current strong enough to carry the smoke up the chimney, unless a door or window was left open. The circulating ventilators in windows were intended for refreshing the air in rooms, without affecting the current of air up the chimney; but they did not affect the mephitic air, nor the higher air near the ceiling of lofty rooms, which is most vitiated with putrescent particles; and they were besides often out of repair.
Instead of either of these, Dr. Franklin proposed that openings should be made close to the ceilings of rooms communicating with a flue, which should ascend in the wall close to the flues of the chimneys, and, where it can be done conveniently, close to the flue of the kitchen chimney; because the fire, burning pretty constantly there, would keep the sides of that flue warmer than those of the other chimneys; whereby a quicker current of air would be kept up in the ventilating flue. Such a flue might be carried from the vaults or under ground offices. This would render them drier, without altering their temperature much as to heat or cold. These ventilating flues would cause a constant discharge of the volatile putrescent effluvia without interfering with the current of air up the chimneys; while the current towards the chimney would carry off the mephitic air below. These ventilating flues would be peculiarly beneficial in bedrooms of which the ceilings are low.
Dr. Franklin mentioned an instance of a number of Germans, who on their arrival in Pennsylvania were obliged to live in a large barn; there being at that time no other place of residence fit for them. Several small windows were made on both sides of the barn under the eaves. These windows were kept constantly open, even during a severe frost in the winter; and this without any detriment to the health of the Germans. Prejudice, said he, has raised so great a dread against cold air in England, that such openings would make every person shudder at the thought of being exposed to so great a degree of cold; and therefore I did not dare to recommend a practice, the good effects of which I had known. The dormitory for the youths of Westminster School is a similar instance; for the glass put in their high lofty windows is soon broken, but seldom repaired; yet without prejudice to the health of the youths.
There is a channel by which much of the vitiated air escapes, and is but little attended to. Whoever looks at the ceilings of rooms in old houses, will soon discover the traces of the rafters, by a difference in color, in parts of the ceiling, for wherever there is not a solid resistance to the passage of the air, much of it gets off through the ceiling, and deposits in it part of its contents, which discolors the intervals between the joists. In the British Museum there is a remarkable instance of the inconveniency of the want of this outlet. The ceiling of one of the rooms in that house is covered with a picture, or painted cloth. The room continues warm with little fire; but the air soon affects the respiration of valetudinarians, as was often remarked by that accurate observer, Dr. G. Knight, late principal librarian.
Vaulted rooms may be considered in this light; because the materials of which the arch is built must generally be solid. If the arch is built of stones, and these are exposed to the air, as they cannot so soon as wood or brick become of the temperature of the air, as to heat and cold, the vault must become wet on every change of the air, from cold to warm, as every one may observe in the walls and furniture of rooms in which fire is not kept. The vault may thus become a frequent source of moisture, which, mixing with the air, may gradually descend into the room, and become very prejudicial to the health of persons of weak constitutions, who may inhabit such rooms.
An attentive observer will soon be convinced that there is a current of warm air which ascends in the room from the chimney, while a fire burns. Dr. Franklin showed that this was the case by the following experiment: He suspended, by a thread, a piece of pasteboard cut in a spiral form. The thread was fastened to the chimney-piece, so that the pasteboard, drawn out in a spiral form, came near to the edge of the chimney. The constant current of warm air, heated by the fire, gave a continued circular motion to the pasteboard. This warm air, ascending to the ceiling, there spread, and kept a constant motion in the upper part of the air. The warm air thus ascending, coming into contact with the cool walls, and being thereby condensed, becomes heavier and so falls along the sides of the walls. Also the glass in windows, being exposed to the temperature of the external air, in cold weather becomes colder than any other part of the room; therefore the internal air more sensibly descends, as may be seen by approaching a lighted bougie to a window. The flame is then carried downwards by the air; or, if the flame is extinguished, the smoke will more clearly show this truth, by descending along the window till it meets the air of an equal temperature. This will be the case, however tight the window; and the more so, the brighter and stronger the fire is, and the colder the external air; the circulation of the air being thereby quickened. This accounts for the familiar caution of avoiding to sit in or near a window. This circulation of the air is yet more evidently proved by the following instance. When there is a bright strong fire in a close room, open the door and present immediately a lighted candle to the upper part of the door-way, the flame will bend outward; though warm air in the higher part rushes out, lower the candle gradually, and the strength of the current outward will lessen by degrees, as the candle is lowered, till it comes to a space in which the flame shall rise upright; continue to lower the candle gradually, and then the current of cold air inward will gradually increase and more strongly bend the flame of the candle inward. This will be the case even in frosty and windy weather. May it not be inferred from this circumstance of so strong a current of air outwards in the upper part of the door-way, that an opening over or in the upper part of the door in the ward of a hospital might be of advantage, especially if there is no ventilating flue in the ceiling? By such means a circulation of the air in the upper part of the ward could be constantly kept up; and thereby a vent would be given to the volatile putrescent particles. This vent might be left open at all times, without any prejudice to the patients.
What is said on this subject by Dr. John Armstrong, a gentleman no less remarkable for his benevolence than for his judgment and fine taste, may be properly mentioned here. “A constant circulation of fresh air is so necessary, so important in fevers and in all feverish disorders, that it ought to be particularly considered in the construction of houses. It would be well, if in all the apartments of every house, but especially in bed-chambers, the upper sashes of every window were contrived to let down; for by this means the admission of fresh air would at all times be perfectly safe, except during a raw, damp, foggy night; as the body, even when under such a sweat as could not without danger be interrupted, may receive all the refreshing, restorative, and invigorating influence of the air, without being exposed to a stream of it; meantime, where this is wanting, the best method to supply it is by drawing the bed-curtains close, now and then, for a few minutes at a time, while a free passage is made to the foul air, by opening the doors and windows.”—Medical Essays, p. 22.
The noxious vapors that fill a sick-room are not only offensive but dangerous to those who continue in it for any time. If dangerous to people then in health, how detrimental must they be to one oppressed and struggling under an enfeebling disease! It is a common thing in a campaign to distribute the sick soldiers, ill of malignant fevers, in open barns, where the putrid volatile poison is in a short time dissipated.
There is, in a volume of the Mémoires et Observations recueillies par la Société Economique de Berne, a letter concerning the health of the inhabitants of the Pays de Vaud; part of which I beg to present here, as bearing a near analogy to this subject. The letter is written by a most accurate and judicious clergyman. “One fact,” says he, “deserves to be noticed. Taking one year with another, a greater proportional number always die in towns than in villages. But whence comes it that, when epidemic diseases prevail, the mortality takes quite a different road; that is, it is much more considerable in villages than in towns? I have taken great pains to find out the cause of this phenomenon, and am apt to impute the difference to the difference of habitations. The poor in cities and great towns dwell in houses not originally intended for them; but which, being so old and past repairing, as to be no longer tenantable by persons at their ease, fall to the lot of the lower class of people. In these houses the rooms are spacious, cold as ice, where the air plays freely around, with doors and windows that do not half shut. The inhabitants of these shattered houses are pitied; and yet the very circumstance of their being out of repair, is what contributes to the health of those who live in them, and facilitates their cure when diseases reign.”
The more I see of hospitals, the more I am convinced of the great want of instructions on duly ventilating them. It is surprising to see what little attention has been paid in some hospitals about London to this article, which have been built since the importance of ventilation has been well known. In all of them there is too great a distance between the windows and the ceilings, where the volatile putrescent particles may remain till they become very acrid. With pleasure I here do justice to the judgment and precaution of Messrs. Adam, in the manner of ventilating the great room built by them for the meeting of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c., by leaving spaces between the panes of glass in the sky-lights, the panes overlaying each other. These spaces being concealed from the eye, do not alarm those fearful of cold air, and keep the room constantly sweet.
The hospitals most judiciously built in this respect, which I have seen, are those in Philadelphia and in Lyons. In the hospital in Philadelphia the wards are two stories high, with two rows of windows in each, the upper row being kept generally open: and the windows in the hospital at Lyons are very lofty, so that the upper sashes may be for the most part kept open. Both hospitals are by this means perfectly sweet; so sweet that a military gentleman, who went with me into the hospital at Lyons, and was unaccustomed to sick-rooms, declared that the air in the ward was not disagreeable to him, though it contained a considerable number of sick. Indeed they were kept very clean. I am sorry to say this is not the case in any one of our hospitals.
The naval hospital at Gibraltar, is a square, which in a hot climate is itself a great imperfection, as the air within the square must, in summer especially, be greatly heated; and, as if they had studied to keep the cool air out of the wards, the windows open into the square only; whereas, if the west side had been left open, the wards might have received the cool breezes from the Bay. The sick are lodged in long galleries not sufficiently divided to have the patients in separate wards, and no openings to carry off the putrid air lodged among the rafters which support the roof.
On my arrival in the island of Minorca, as surgeon to the royal artillery there, I was surprised at the neglect of my predecessors in that office in regard to ventilating the hospital. There were no openings in the wards in which the sick lay but the windows and doors, which were necessarily shut every night, to prevent the irregularities soldiers might be guilty of. Where chimneys had been they were built up to prevent the expense of fires; and thus, during the night, the sick lay in absolutely confined air. The consequence was that when the nurse opened the wards in the morning she was obliged to withdraw instantly, for the highly infected air often brought on vomiting. In this case I applied to our most worthy and ingenious chief engineer, the late Colonel Mackellar for leave to use such means as might create a circulation of air in all the wards. In this he readily concurred, and ordered the necessary alterations.
In each ward in which the flue of the chimney remained, an opening of about four or five inches square was made through the wall into the flue, as near the ceiling as possible. Round holes of about three inches diameter were cut low in each door, covered with a sliding flap to shut the holes occasionally. In some of the wards there never had been chimneys. In these, holes were cut through the wall close to the ceiling, which opened into a common passage; and when two such wards were contiguous, a hole was cut through the dividing wall as well as in the door of each ward. One of the wards in which there had not been a chimney, and which was arched with stones, was constantly so damp that no use was made of it. The walls and arch were covered with green moss. They were afterwards scraped, to clear them of the moss which retained moisture, and then covered with lime. This room became so dry, that though locked up for three months, during which I was confined with the gout, books and papers which had remained in it were at the end of that time perfectly dry. The generally agreeable effects of this opening can scarcely be conceived; the wards, and indeed the whole hospital, being rendered perfectly sweet, greatly to the benefit of the sick, as well as to the pleasure of the attendants.
The barracks in the square of the Castle St. Philip, in which are lodged the detachment of the regiment of artillery doing duty there, are dry, except that, being built of stone, they collect moisture on every sudden change of the air from cold to warm. Each barrack opens into the square, and is divided into three apartments. The part next the door has the whole height, and in it their arms and necessaries are kept. The inner part, being about one half, is divided into two floors. In the lower room they cook, each barrack having a mess or family in it, some of whom sleep in it. The fire, and the free access between it and the door, keep up a due circulation here. In the upper room most of the men sleep under a stone arch, the room being little more than six feet high in the centre, and therefore much lower in the sides. Under that arch from four to six or eight persons sleep, especially when there are children. This room is very stifling, there being little circulation of air in it, more especially in calm, warm weather, such as the nights generally are there in summer. In order to create a circulation of air in this upper room, openings were made into the flues of the chimneys of the lower room, as near the centre of the arch as possible, the chimneys being in the corner of the rooms below. In general these openings drew very well, and gave great relief, especially to those who had weak or diseased lungs. The proper remedy here would have been to have had small flues made near the flues of the chimneys below, could it have been done. This measure is too much neglected in all barracks.
Whoever may on any future occasion have the direction of military hospitals, is already furnished with such judicious directions by my learned friends Sir John Pringle, Baronet, and Dr. Donald Munro, that, were I to say any thing on that subject, I could only copy whole pages from them. Sir John Pringle’s speech on giving the gold medal of the Royal Society to Captain Cook, in which he took occasion to point out the means of preserving the health of seamen, is equally deserving of commendation.
The healthiness of buildings does not perhaps depend more on the due ventilation of the rooms than it does on the dryness of the situation and of the foundation. Sir John Pringle, in the first part of his Observations on the Diseases of the Army, has given several instances of this truth. But as every man who regards his own life and health, or the lives and health of others, should be well acquainted with that work, I shall refer to the original. I have often lamented that the first part of that book, describing the natural consequences of the situation of places and their effects on health, has not been published separately, because it might thereby become of more general use to every man who leads country life, or resorts thither frequently to enjoy quiet; for being part of a book professedly treating of diseases, few think of consulting it, except whose business it is to cure diseases.
However inviting the situation may be, and whatever may be the quality of the ground on which houses are built, generally drains should be made all around the house deeper than the foundation of the building, to carry off the superfluous moisture, even the moisture that may be lodged under the ground; for it is essentially necessary that the lower part of the house be kept continually dry.
The advantages of drains or sewers are remarkably felt in London, which, before the fire of London, was frequently afflicted with contagious malignant fevers. Before that period all the waste water and filth remained above ground, and the people, as Erasmus complained, were very inattentive to keeping their houses clean. The wooden houses projected so much over the then very narrow streets that the air became almost stagnant, and must have been loaded with putrid effluvia, there being very little circulation or current in the air, thus confined, to carry off these effluvia.
Before the city was rebuilt, that ingenious architect, Sir Christopher Wren, planned and built the common sewers, as they continue to this day; and they are a lasting monument of his judgment and attention to the health and welfare of its inhabitants. These, together with the removal of signs and signposts, new paving and cleansing the streets, have been attended with such happy effects that London and Westminster are now ranked among the most healthy spots in the island for grown persons whose lungs can bear the cloud of smoke which generally hovers over them, and thus the apparent great calamity of a fire became a singular blessing to the city of London.
The quantity or water brought into the city by the New River and other water-works, which runs daily to waste, helps to cleanse and keep the common sewers sweet, and thereby contributes much to the healthiness of the city. Though foreign to the subject, it may be observed that till the Restoration there were few gardens about London for supplying kitchen herbs. These became more numerous after that period, and still more so after the Revolution, a number of Dutch gardeners coming to England at that time. The quantity of vegetables supplied by these gardens contribute greatly to the healthiness of the citizens.
Rome would not perhaps have become mistress of so extraordinary an empire, situated as that city is near marshy grounds, had not the common sewers, which still attract the admiration of all travellers, been so early and judiciously built by Tarquinius Priscus, who may for that reason be called a second founder of Rome. The ancient Romans were particularly attentive to the draining and cultivating of these marshes, and they soon became the granary of ancient Rome; but being neglected during the invasions of the barbarous nations, they are now the reproach and just chastisement of the supine indolence and inactivity of the modern Romans.
Gravel, which is generally reckoned a dry and healthy foundation to build upon, is found by experience not to deserve that character at all times, unless deep drains are made to carry off the water of heavy rains long continued; for by such rains the gravel may be so charged with water, especially in flat grounds, that the lower parts of the houses erected on such soils may prove damp. In all the flat grounds along the Thames the cellars are often filled with water after heavy rains; and if the water continues there stagnant till the animal or vegetable substances mixed with it begin to putrefy, aches, agues, and putrid fevers are the natural consequences. Though Kensington Palace stands high and on a declivity yet when King George the Second continued there till late in October, the lower parts of the house became damp, occasioned by the want of drains, and the servants became aguish. Stones which absorb and retain water, as the Cantoon stone in Minorca does, are in this respect similar to gravel. There was a remarkable instance of this in a magazine cut out of a solid rock of Cantoon stone in Georgetown, in Minorca. The magazine was covered with a well-limed arch and roof. Yet when the winter rains began to fall in November, the magazine was filled with water, as high as it was cut out of the rock. When drains were made to carry off the water, the magazine then became and continued to be sufficiently dry.
Might not low grounds on the banks of rivers, similar to those in Flanders, and so justly and judiciously complained of by Sir John Pringle, be rendered more healthy by drains dug as deep as low-water mark in the adjacent rivers? Sluices might be made in the banks of the river, to prevent the tides or floods from entering into the drains. It would be advisable to cover the drains, to prevent the noxious vapors arising from putrid vegetable or animal substances, which generally rot in open ditches. The earth thrown out of the drains might serve to cover them, when the channels for carrying off the water are properly constructed. By these means no surface would be lost for the growth of vegetables.
Willows, alders, and such trees as delight in a moist or wet soil may be planted on the banks of ditches, if any such are permitted to remain open, that their leaves may correct the putrid vapors arising from the stagnant water in the ditches. I fear, however, that in the autumn, when the effects of putrid vapors are most severely felt, the leaves of these trees, being then hardened by age, may in a great measure lose the power of correcting the putrid vapors. The late summer shoots may afford aid till the equinoxial rains clear the ditches of all filth. That trees have not the power of proving an effectual remedy against these putrid exhalations, the frequency of agues in the Low Countries, in every season, is a sufficient proof. If such trees grow on the banks of ditches, they should be kept in a pollard state, to admit of a free circulation of air.
An observation of Dr. Franklin’s deserves a place here, especially as it is not generally attended to. The opinion is indeed against it. The banks of rivers which have a quick motion, and run on a clear sandy bottom, are very agreeable and healthy situations; but the sides of rivers which have oozy bottoms, or marshy banks, or which are in the neighbourhood of extensive marshes, are to be avoided. When necessity or any peculiar advantage obliges people to build near such bad neighbours, the south side, says the Doctor, is the most eligible; because the warm southerly winds, which promote a tendency to putrefaction, and are the most frequent, blow the noxious vapors from the buildings; whereas the northerly winds, which blow but seldom compared with the former, and which generally blow strongly, check putrefaction, and speedily carry off noxious vapors.
It is now well known that the stench arising from stationary privies may be prevented by a cheap and easy method. The excrements may be received in tubs, so closely connected with the seat that no air can pass. The lower ends of the tub should be sunk below the surface of water contained in proper cisterns. The excrements are soon dissolved in water, and so carried off, every time the privy is washed, which should be as often as it is used.
In towns the stench of the common sewers is sometimes very offensive. This may be prevented by interrupting the current of air through them by means of sink-traps; the construction and utility of which are of late years well known in London. As sand or other filth may be apt to lodge in the deepened place, it should be so contrived as to be easily come at, in order to clear away every obstruction.
Let me add here to the method of correcting bad water, proposed by Dr. Munro in his Essay on the Means of Preserving the Health of Soldiers, the following easy method of keeping water clear and sweet, ascertained by several experiments made some years ago by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c., in London. The method is to mix clay with the water in such quantities that when the clay is dissolved the hand immersed under the surface of the water shall not be seen. The clay subsiding, carries down with it all the impurities, and in a manner burying them, prevents their communicating any bad taste or smell to the water, which thereby continues long clear and sweet. Clay may probably correct stagnant water, and thereby preserve it clear and good in dry seasons, and may thus become very useful where there is no running water. If any bad taste or smell remains after the use of the clay, it may be carried off by one of the ventilators recommended for that purpose by the Reverend Dr. Hales. The clear water may be drawn off by a siphon or a cock, placed high enough not to touch the clay.
TO MISS MARY STEVENSON
Saturday Evening, past ten.
The question you ask me is a very sensible one, and I shall be glad if I can give you a satisfactory answer. There are two ways of contracting a chimney: one, by contracting the opening before the fire; the other, by contracting the funnel above the fire. If the funnel above the fire is left open in its full dimensions, and the opening before the fire is contracted, then the coals, I imagine, will burn faster, because more air is directed through the fire, and in a stronger stream; that air which before passed over it, and on each side of it, now passing through it. This is seen in narrow stove chimneys, when a sacheverell or blower is used, which still more contracts the narrow opening. But if the funnel only above the fire is contracted, then, as a less stream of air is passing up the chimney, less must pass through the fire, and consequently it should seem that the consuming of the coals would rather be checked than augmented by such contraction. And this will also be the case when both the opening before the fire and the funnel above the fire are contracted, provided the funnel above the fire is more contracted in proportion than the opening before the fire.
So you see I think you had the best of the argument; and as you notwithstanding gave it up in complaisance to the company, I think you had also the best of the dispute. There are few, though convinced, that know how to give up, even an error, they have been once engaged in maintaining. There is therefore the more merit in dropping a contest where one thinks one’s self right; it is at least respectful to those we converse with. And indeed all our knowledge is so imperfect, and we are from a thousand causes so perpetually subject to mistake and error, that positiveness can scarce ever become even the most knowing; and modesty in advancing any opinion, however plain and true we may suppose it, is always decent, and generally more like to procure assent. Pope’s rule,
“To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence,”
is therefore a good one; and, if I had ever seen in your conversation the least deviation from it, I should earnestly recommend it to your observation.
I am, &c.,
QUERIES BY MR. STRAHAN RESPECTING AMERICAN AFFAIRS, AND DR. FRANKLIN’S ANSWERS
W. STRAHAN TO B. FRANKLIN1
21 November, 1769.
In the many conversations we have had together about our present disputes with North America, we perfectly agreed in wishing they may be brought to a speedy and happy conclusion. How this is to be done is not so easily ascertained.
Two objects, I humbly apprehend, his Majesty’s servants have now in contemplation. First, to relieve the colonies from the taxes complained of, which they certainly had no hand in imposing. Secondly, to preserve the honor, the dignity, and the supremacy of the British legislature over all his Majesty’s dominions.
As I know your singular knowledge of the subject in question, and am as fully convinced of your cordial attachment to his Majesty, and your sincere desire to promote the happiness equally of all his subjects, I beg you would, in your own clear, brief, and explicit manner, send me an answer to the following questions. I make this request now, because this matter is of the utmost importance, and must very quickly be agitated. And I do it with more freedom, as you know me and my motives too well to entertain the most remote suspicion that I will make an improper use of any information you shall hereby convey to me.
1.—Will not a repeal of all the duties (that on tea excepted, which was before paid here on exportation, and of course no new imposition) fully satisfy the colonists?1 If you answer in the negative,
2.—Your reasons for that opinion?
3.—Do you think the only effectual way of composing the present differences is to put the Americans precisely in the situation they were in before the passing of the late Stamp Act? If that is your opinion,
4.—Your reasons for that opinion?
5.—If this last method is deemed by the legislature and his Majesty’s ministers to be repugnant to their duty as guardians of the just rights of the crown and of their fellow subjects, can you suggest any other way of terminating these disputes, consistent with the ideas of justice and propriety conceived by the King’s subjects on both sides of the Atlantic?
6.—And, if this method was actually followed, do you not think it would actually encourage the violent and factious part of the colonists to aim at still farther concessions from the mother country?
7.—If they are relieved in part only, what do you, as a reasonable and dispassionate man, and an equal friend to both sides, imagine will be the probable consequences?
The answers to these questions, I humbly conceive, will include all the information I want, and I beg you will favor me with them as soon as may be. Every well-wisher to the peace and prosperity of the British empire, and every friend to our truly happy constitution, must be desirous of seeing even the most trivial causes of dissension among our fellow subjects removed. Our domestic squabbles, in my mind, are nothing to what I am speaking of. This you know much better than I do, and therefore I need add nothing farther to recommend this subject to your serious consideration. I am, with the most cordial esteem and attachment, dear Sir, your faithful and affectionate humble servant,
29 November, 1769.
Being just returned to town from a little excursion, I find yours of the 21st, containing a number of queries that would require a pamphlet to answer them fully. You, however, desire only brief answers, which I shall endeavour to give.
Previous to your queries you tell me that you appreciate his Majesty’s servants have now “in contemplation, first, to relieve the colonists from the taxes complained of; secondly, to preserve the honor, the dignity, and the supremacy of the British legislature over all his Majesty’s dominions.” I hope your information is good, and that what you suppose to be in contemplation will be carried into execution by repealing all the laws that have been made for raising a revenue in America by authority of Parliament without the consent of the people there. The honor and dignity of the British legislature will not be hurt by such an act of justice and wisdom. The wisest councils are liable to be misled, especially in matters remote from their inspection. It is the persisting in an error, not the correcting it, that lessens the honor of any man or body of men.
The supremacy of that legislature, I believe, will be best preserved by making a very sparing use of it; never but for the evident good of the colonies themselves, or of the whole British empire; never for the partial advantage of Britain, to their prejudice. By such prudent conduct I imagine that supremacy may be gradually strengthened, and in time fully established; but otherwise, I apprehend it will be disputed, and lost in the dispute. At present the colonies consent and submit to it for the regulations of general commerce; but a submission to acts of Parliament was no part of their original constitution. Our former kings governed their colonies, as they had governed their dominions in France, without the participation of British parliaments. The Parliament of England never presumed to interfere in that prerogative till the time of the great rebellion, when they usurped the government of all the King’s other dominions, Ireland, Scotland, &c. The colonies that held for the King, they conquered by force of arms, and governed afterwards as conquered countries; but New England, not having opposed the Parliament, was considered and treated as a sister-kingdom in amity with England, as appears by the Journals, March 10th, 1642.
1.—Will not a repeal of all the duties (that on tea excepted, which was before paid here on exportation, and, of course no new imposition) fully satisfy the colonists?
I think not.
2.—Your reasons for that opinion?
Because it is not the sum paid in that duty on tea that is complained of as a burden, but the principle of the act expressed in the preamble, viz., that those duties were laid for the better support of government and the administration of justice in the colonies.1 This the colonists think unnecessary, unjust, and dangerous to their most important rights. Unnecessary, because in all the colonies (two or three new ones excepted)1 government and the administration of justice were, and always had been, well supported without any charge to Britain; unjust, as it has made such colonies liable to pay such charge for others, in which they had no concern or interest; dangerous, as such mode of raising money for those purposes tended to render their assemblies useless; for if a revenue could be raised in the colonies for all the purposes of government by act of Parliament, without grants from the people there, governors who do not generally love assemblies, would never call them. They would be laid aside; and when nothing should depend on the people’s good-will to government, their rights would be trampled on; they would be treated with contempt.
Another reason why I think they would not be satisfied with such a partial repeal is, that their agreements not to import till the repeal takes place, include the whole, which shows that they object to the whole, and those agreements will continue binding on them if the whole is not repealed.
3.—Do you think the only effectual way of composing the present differences is to put the Americans precisely in the situation they were in before the passage of the late Stamp Act?
I think so.
4.—Your reasons for that opinion?
Other methods have been tried. They have been rebuked in angry letters. Their petitions have been refused or rejected by Parliament. They have been threatened with the punishments of treason by resolves of both Houses. Their assemblies have been dissolved, and troops have been sent among them; but all these ways have only exasperated their minds and widened the breach. Their agreements to use no more British manufactures have been strengthened; these measures, instead of composing differences, and promoting a good correspondence, have almost annihilated your commerce with those countries, and greatly endanger the national peace and general welfare.
5.—If this last method is deemed by the legislature and his Majesty’s ministers to be repugnant to their duty, as guardians of the just rights of the crown and of their fellow subjects, can you suggest any other way of terminating these disputes, consistent with the ideas of justice and propriety, conceived by the King’s subjects on both sides of the Atlantic?
I do not see how that method can be deemed repugnant to the rights of the crown. If the Americans are put into their former situation, it must be by an act of Parliament; in the passing of which by the King, the rights of the crown are exercised, not infringed. It is indifferent to the crown whether the aids received from America are granted by Parliament here, or by the assemblies there, provided the quantum be the same; and it is my opinion that more will be generally granted there voluntarily, than can ever be exacted or collected from thence by authority of Parliament.
As to the rights of fellow subjects (I suppose you mean the people of Britain), I cannot conceive how those will be infringed by that method. They will still enjoy the right of granting their own money, and may still, if it pleases them, keep up their claim to the right of granting ours; a right they can never exercise properly for want of a sufficient knowledge of us, our circumstances and abilities, (to say nothing of the little likelihood there is that we should ever submit to it,) therefore a right that can be of no good use to them; and we shall continue to enjoy in fact the right of granting our money, with the opinion now universally prevailing among us, that we are free subjects of the King, and that fellow subjects of one part of his dominions are not sovereigns over fellow subjects in any other part.
If the subjects on the different sides of the Atlantic have different and opposite ideas of “justice and propriety,” no one “method” can possibly be consistent with both. The best will be to let each enjoy their own opinions, without disturbing them, when they do not interfere with the common good.
6.—And, if this method were actually followed, do you not think it would encourage the violent and factious part of the colonists to aim at still farther concessions from the mother country?
I do not think it would. There may be a few among them that deserve the name of factious and violent, as there are in all countries; but these would have little influence, if the great majority of sober, reasonable people were satisfied. If any colony should happen to think that some of your regulations of trade are inconvenient to the general interest of the empire, or prejudicial to them without being beneficial to you, they will state these matters to Parliament in petitions as heretofore; but will, I believe, take no violent steps to obtain what they may hope for in time from the wisdom of government here. I know of nothing else they can have in view; the notion that prevails here of their being desirous to set up a kingdom or commonwealth of their own, is, to my certain knowledge, entirely groundless.
I therefore think that, on a total repeal of all duties laid expressly for the purpose of raising a revenue on the people of America without their consent, the present uneasiness would subside; the agreements not to import would be dissolved, and commerce flourish as heretofore; and I am confirmed in this sentiment by all the letters I have received from America, and by the opinions of all the sensible people who have lately come from thence, crown officers excepted.
I know, indeed, that the people of Boston are grievously offended by the quartering of troops among them, as they think, contrary to law; and are very angry with the Board of Commissioners, who have calumniated them to government; but, as I suppose the withdrawing of those troops may be a consequence of reconciliating measures taking place, and that the commission also will be either dissolved, if found useless, or filled with more temperate and prudent men, if still deemed useful and necessary; I do not imagine these particulars would prevent a return of the harmony so much to be wished.1
7.—If they are relieved in part only, what do you, as a reasonable and dispassionate man, and an equal friend to both sides, imagine will be the probable consequences?
I imagine that repealing the offensive duties in part will answer no end to this country; the commerce will remain obstructed, and the Americans go on with their schemes of frugality, industry, and manufactures, to their own great advantage. How much that may tend to the prejudice of Britain, I cannot say; perhaps not so much as some apprehend, since she may in time find new markets. But I think, if the union of the two countries continues to subsist, it will not hurt the general interest; for whatever wealth Britain loses by the failing of its trade with the colonies, America will gain; and the crown will receive equal aids from its subjects upon the whole, if not greater.
And now I have answered your questions as to what may be, in my opinion, the consequence of this or that supposed measure, I will go a little farther, and tell you what I fear is more likely to come to pass in reality. I apprehend that the ministry, at least the American part of it, being fully persuaded of the right of Parliament, think it ought to be enforced, whatever may be the consequences; and at the same time do not believe there is even now any abatement of the trade between the two countries on account of these disputes; or that, if there is, it is small, and cannot long continue.
They are assured by the crown officers in America that manufactures are impossible there; that the discontented are few, and persons of little consequence; that almost all the people of property and importance are satisfied, and disposed to submit quietly to the taxing power of Parliament; and that, if the revenue acts are continued, and those duties only that are called anti-commercial be repealed, and others perhaps laid in stead, the power ere long will be patiently submitted to, and the agreements not to import be broken, when they are found to produce no change of measures here.
From these and similar misinformations, which seem to be credited, I think it likely that no thorough redress of grievances will be afforded to America this session. This may inflame matters still more in that country; farther rash measures there may create more resentment here, that may produce not merely ill-advised dissolutions of their assemblies, as last year, but attempts to dissolve their constitution1 ; more troops may be sent over, which will create more uneasiness; to justify the measures of government, your writers will revile the Americans in your newspapers, as they have already begun to do, treating them as miscreants, rogues, dastards, rebels, &c., to alienate the minds of the people here from them, and which will tend farther to diminish their affections to this country. Possibly, too, some of their warm patriots may be distracted enough to expose themselves by some mad action to be sent for hither; and government here be indiscreet enough to hang them, on the act of Henry the Eighth.2
Mutual provocations will thus go on to complete the separation; and instead of that cordial affection that once and so long existed, and that harmony, so suitable to the circumstances, and so necessary to the happiness, strength, safety, and welfare of both countries, an implacable malice and mutual hatred, such as we now see subsisting between the Spaniards and Portuguese, the Genoese and Corsicans, from the same original misconduct in the superior governments, will take place; the sameness of nation, the similarity of religion, manners, and language not in the least preventing in our case, more than it did in theirs.
I hope, however, that this may all prove false prophecy, and that you and I may live to see as sincere and perfect a friendship established between our respective countries, as has so many years subsisted between Mr. Strahan and his truly affectionate old friend,
STATE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COLONIES1
WITH REMARKS BY DR. FRANKLIN
1. Wherever any Englishmen go forth without the realm, and make settlements in partibus exteris, “These settlements as English settlements, and these inhabitants as English subjects, (carrying with them the laws of the land wherever they form colonies, and receiving his Majesty’s protection by virtue of his royal charter”2 or commissions of government,) “have and enjoy all liberties and immunities of free and natural subjects, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever, as if they and every of them were born within the realm,”3 and are bound by the like allegiance as every other subject of the realm.
Remark.—The settlers of colonies in America did not carry with them the laws of the land, as being bound by them wherever they should settle. They left the realm to avoid the inconveniences and hardships they were under, where some of those laws were in force; particularly ecclesiastical laws, those for payment of tithes, and others. Had it been understood that they were to carry these laws with them, they had better have stayed at home among their friends, unexposed to the risk and toils of a new settlement. They carried with them a right to such parts of laws of the land, as they should judge advantageous or useful to them; a right to be free from those they thought hurtful; and a right to make such others, as they should think necessary, not infringing the general rights of Englishmen; and such new laws they were to form as agreeable as might be to the laws of England.
2. Therefore, the common law of England, and all such statutes as were enacted and in force at the time which such settlers went forth, and such colonies and plantations were established, (except as hereafter excepted,) together with all such alterations and amendments as the said common law may have received, is from time to time, and at all times, the law of those colonies and plantations.
So far as they have adopted it; by express laws or by practice.
3. Therefore all statutes touching the right of the succession, and settlement of the crown, with the statutes of treason relating thereto; all statutes regulating or limiting the general powers and authority of the crown, and the exercise of jurisdiction thereof; all statutes declaratory of the rights and liberty of the subject; do extend to all British subjects in the colonies and plantations as of common right, and as if they and every of them were born within the realm.
It is doubted whether any settlement of the crown by Parliament takes place in the colonies, otherwise than by the consent of the assemblies there. Had the rebellion in 1745 succeeded so far as to settle the Stuart family again on the throne, by act of Parliament, I think the colonies would not have thought themselves bound by such an act. They would still have adhered to the present family, as long as they could.
[Observation in Reply.—They are bound to the King and his successors, and we know no succession but by act of Parliament.—T. P.]
4. All statutes enacted since the establishment of colonies and plantations, do extend to and operate within the said colonies and plantations, in which statutes the same are specially named.
It is doubted whether any act of Parliament should of right operate in the colonies; in fact, several of them have and do operate.
5. Statutes and customs which respect only the special and local circumstances of the realm, do not extend to and operate within said colonies and plantations, where no such special and local circumstances are found. Thus the ecclesiastical and canon law, and all statutes respecting tithes; the laws respecting courts baron and copyholds; the game acts; the statutes respecting the poor, and settlements; and all other laws and statutes having special reference to special and local circumstances and establishments within the realm; do not extend to and operate within these settlements, in partibus exteris, where no such circumstances or establishments exist.
These laws have no force in America; not merely because local circumstances differ, but because they have never been adopted, or brought over, by acts of Assembly or by practice in the courts.
6. No statutes made since the establishment of said colonies and plantations (except as above described in Articles 3 and 4) do extend to and operate within said colonies and plantations.
Query.—Would any statute made since the establishment of said colonies and plantations, which statute imported to annul and abolish the powers and jurisdictions of their respective constitutions of government, where the same was not contrary to the laws, or any other wise forfeited or abated; or which statute imported to take away, or did take away, the rights and privileges of the settlers as British subjects; would such statute, as of right, extend to and operate within said colonies and plantations?
No. The Parliament has no such power. The charters cannot be altered but by consent of both parties, the King and the colonies.
Upon the matters of fact, right, and law, as above stated, it is, that the British subjects thus settled in partibus exteris without the realm, so long as they are excluded from an entire union with the realm, as parts of and within the same, have a right to have (as they have) and be governed by (as they are) a distinct entire civil government; of the like powers, pre-eminences, and jurisdictions (conformable to the like rights, privileges, immunities, franchises, and civil liberties) as are to be found and are established in the British government, respecting the British subject within the realm.
Hence also it is that the rights of the subject, as declared in the Petition of Rights, that the limitation of the prerogative by the Act for Abolishing the Star-Chamber, and for regulating the Privy Council, &c.; that the Habeas Corpus Act, the Statute of Frauds, the Bill of Rights, do of common right extend to, and are in force within, said colonies and plantations.
Several of these rights are established by special colony laws. If any are not yet so established, the colonies have right to such laws; and, the covenant having been made in the charters by the King, for himself and his successors, such laws ought to receive the royal assent as of right.
Hence it is that the freeholders within the precincts of these jurisdictions have (as of right they ought to have) a share in the power of making those laws which they are to be governed by, by the right which they have of sending their representatives to act for them and to consent for them in all matters of legislation; which representatives, when met in general assembly, have, together with the crown, a right to perform and do all the like acts respecting the matters, things, and rights within the precincts of their jurisdiction, as the Parliament hath respecting the realm and British dominions.
Hence also it is that all the executive offices (from the supreme civil magistrate, as locum tenens to the King, down to that of constable and head-borough) must of right be established with all and the like powers, neither more nor less than as defined by the constitution and law, as in fact they are established.
Hence it is that the judicial offices and courts of justice, established within the precincts of said jurisdictions, have, as they ought of right to have, all those jurisdictions and powers, “as fully and amply, to all intents and purposes whatsoever, as the courts of King’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, within his Majesty’s kingdom of England have, and ought to have; and are empowered to give judgment and award execution thereupon.”1
Hence it is that by the possession, enjoyment, and exercise of his Majesty’s great seal, delivered to his Majesty’s governor, there is established within the precincts of the respective jurisdictions all the same and like powers of Chancery (except where by charters specially excluded) as his Majesty’s chancellor within his Majesty’s kingdom of England hath, and of right ought to have, by delivery of the great seal of England. And hence it is that all the like rights, privileges, and powers follow the use, exercise, and application of the great seal of each colony and plantation within the precincts of said jurisdiction; as doth, and ought of right to, follow the use, exercise, and applications of the great seal.
Hence also it is that appeals in real actions, “whereby the lands, tenements, and hereditaments of British subjects may be drawn into question and disposed of,”1 do not lie, as of right and by law they ought not to lie, to the King in Council.
Hence also it is that there is not any law now in being, whereby the subject within said colonies and plantations can be removed2 from the jurisdiction to which he is amenable in all his rights, and through which his service and allegiance must be derived to the crown, and from which no appeal lies in criminal causes; so as that such subject may become amenable to a jurisdiction foreign to his natural and legal resiancy, to which he may be thereby transported, and under which he may be brought to trial and receive judgment, contrary to the rights and privileges of the subject, as declared by the spirit and intent, and especially by the 16th section of the Habeas Corpus Act. And if the person of any subject within the said colonies and plantations should be seized or detained by any power issuing from any court without the jurisdiction of the colony where he then had his legal resiancy, it would become the duty of the courts of justice within such colony (it is undoubtedly of their jurisdiction so to do) to issue the writ of Habeas Corpus.1
Hence also it is that in like manner as “the command and disposition of the militia, and of all forces by sea and land, and of all forts and places of strength, is, and by the laws of England ever was, the undoubted right of his Majesty, and his royal predecessors, kings and queens of England, within all his Majesty’s realms and dominions2 ; in like manner as the supreme military power and command (so far as the constitution knows of and will justify its establishment) is inseparably annexed to, and forms an essential part of, the office of supreme civil magistrate, the office of King; in like manner in all governments under the King, where the constituents are British subjects, and of full and perfect right entitled to the British laws and constitution, the supreme military command within the precincts of such jurisdictions must be inseparably annexed to the office of supreme civil magistrate (his Majesty’s regent, viceregent, lieutenant, or locum tenens in what form soever established), so that the King cannot, by any1 commission of regency, by any commission or charter of government, separate or withdraw the supreme command of the military from the office of supreme civil magistrate, either by reserving this command in his own hands, to be exercised and executed independent of the civil power, or by granting a distinct commission to any military commander-in-chief, so as to be exercised and executed, but more especially not within such jurisdictions where such supreme military power (so far as the constitution knows and will justify the same) is already annexed and granted to the office of supreme civil magistrate.
And hence it is that the King cannot erect or establish any law martial or military command by any commission which may supersede, and not be subject to, the supreme civil magistrate within the respective precincts of the civil jurisdiction of said colonies and plantations, otherwise than in such manner as the said law martial and military commissions are annexed or subject to the supreme civil jurisdiction within his Majesty’s realms and dominions of Great Britain and Ireland; and hence it is that the establishment and exercise of such commands and commissions would be illegal.1
The King has the command of all military force in his dominions; but in every distinct state of his dominions there should be the consent of the Parliament or Assembly (the representative body), to the raising and keeping up such military force. He cannot even raise troops and quarter them in another, without the consent of that other. He cannot of right bring troops raised in Ireland and quarter them in Britain, but with the consent of the Parliament of Britain; nor carry to Ireland, and quarter there, soldiers raised in Britain, without the consent of the Irish Parliament; unless in time of war and cases of extreme exigency. In 1756, when the Speaker went up to present the money bills, he said, among other things, that “England was capable of fighting her own battles and defending herself; and, although ever attached to your Majesty’s person, ever at ease under your just government, they cannot forbear taking notice of some circumstances in the present situation of affairs, which nothing but the confidence in your justice could hinder from alarming their most serious apprehensions. Subsidies to foreign princes, when already burdened with a debt scarce to be borne, cannot but be severely felt. An army of foreign troops, a thing unprecedented, unheard of, unknown, brought into England, cannot but alarm,” &c., &c. (See the Speech.)
N.B.—These foreign troops were part of the King’s subjects, Hanoverians, and all in his service; which is the same thing as . . .
OBSERVATIONS ON PASSAGES IN “AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF THE DISPUTES BETWEEN THE BRITISH COLONIES IN AMERICA AND THEIR MOTHER COUNTRY.”
Extract.—Supreme power and authority must not, cannot, reside equally everywhere throughout an empire.
Observation.—Writers on this subject often confuse themselves with the idea, that all the King’s dominions make one state, which they do not, nor ever did since the conquest. Our kings have ever had dominions not subject to the English Parliament. At first, the provinces of France, of which Jersey and Guernsey remain, always governed by their own laws, appealing to the King in Council only, and not to our courts or the House of Lords. Scotland was in the same situation before the union. It had the same King, but a separate Parliament, and the Parliament of England had no jurisdiction over it. Ireland the same in truth, though the British Parliament has usurped a dominion over it. The colonies were originally settled in the idea of such extrinsic dominions of the King, and of the King only. Hanover is now such a dominion.
If each Assembly in this case, were absolute, they would, it is evident, form not one only, but so many different governments, perfectly independent of one another.
This is the only clear idea of their real present condition. Their only bond of union is the King.
Now that of Great Britain being exactly the kind of government I have been speaking of, the absolute impossibility of vesting the American assemblies with an authority in all respects equal to that of the mother country, without actually dismembering the British empire, must naturally occur to every one.
It would not be dismembering it, if it never was united, as, in truth, it never yet has been. Breaking the present union between England and Scotland would be dismembering the empire; but no such union has yet been formed between Britain and the colonies.
Where divers remote and distant countries are united under one government, an equal and fair representation becomes almost impracticable, or, at least, extremely inconvenient.
Here appears the excellency of the invention of colony government, by separate, independent legislatures. By this means, the remotest parts of a great empire may be as well governed as the centre; misrule, oppressions of proconsuls, and discontents and rebellions thence arising, prevented. By this means the power of a king may be extended without inconvenience over territories of any dimensions, how great soever. America was thus happily governed in all its different and remote settlements, by the crown and their own assemblies, till the new politics took place, of governing it by one Parliament, which have not succeeded and never will.
Should we carry our supposition much farther, the inconveniencies attending such long journeys would be very great, although not interrupted by water.
Water, so far from being an obstruction, is a means of facilitating such assemblies from distant countries. A voyage of three thousand miles by sea is more easily performed, than a journey of one thousand by land.
It is, in my opinion, by no means impracticable to bring representatives conveniently from America to Britain, but I think the present mode of letting them govern themselves by their own assemblies much preferable. They will always be better governed; and the Parliament has business enough here with its own internal concerns.
Whether they should not be allowed such a form of government, as will best secure to them their just rights and natural liberties.
They have it already. All the difficulties have arisen from the British Parliament attempting to deprive them of it.
Is it not, let me ask, most egregious folly so loudly to condemn the Stuart family, who would have governed England without a Parliament, when at the same time we would, almost all of us, govern America upon principles not at all more justifiable?
Very just. Only that the arbitrary government of a single person is more eligible than the arbitrary government of a body of men. A single man may be afraid or ashamed of doing injustice; a body is never either one or the other, if it is strong enough. It cannot apprehend assassination, and by dividing the shame among them, it is so little apiece that no one minds it.
And consistently with our rights of sovereignty over them.
I am surprised that a writer, who, in other respects, appears often very reasonable, should talk of our sovereignty over the colonies! As if every individual in England was a part of a sovereign over America! The King is the sovereign of all.
The Americans think that, while they can retain the right of disposing of their own money, they shall thereby secure all their other rights. They have, therefore, not yet disputed your other pretensions.
That England has an undeniable right to consider America as a part of her dominions is a fact, I presume, which can never be questioned.
You do, indeed, presume too much. America is not part of the dominions of England, but of the King’s dominion. England is a dominion itself, and has no dominions.
I will only observe at present, that it was England, in some sense, which at first gave them being.
In some sense! In what sense? They were not planted at her expense. As to defence, all parts of the King’s dominion have mutually always contributed to the defence one of the other. The man in America, who contributes sixpence towards an armament against the common enemy, contributes as much to the common protection as if he lived in England.
They have always been ready to contribute, but by voluntary grants according to their rights; nor has any Englishman yet had the effrontery to deny this truth.
If they are at liberty to choose what sums to raise, as well as the manner of raising them, it is scarcely to be doubted that their allowance will be found extremely short. And it is evident they may, upon this footing, absolutely refuse to pay any taxes at all. And, if so, it would be much better for England, if it were consistent with her safety, to disclaim all further connexion with them, than to continue her protection to them solely at her own expense.
Why is it to be doubted that they will not grant what they ought to grant? No complaint was ever yet made of their refusal or deficiency. He says, if they are not without reserve obliged to comply with the requisitions of the ministry, they may absolutely refuse to pay any taxes at all. Let him apply this to the British Parliament, and the reasoning will equally prove that the Commons ought likewise to comply absolutely with the requisitions of the ministry. Yet I have seen lately the ministry demand four shillings in the pound, and the Parliament grant but three. But Parliaments, and provincial assemblies may always be safely trusted with this power of refusing, or granting in part. Ministers will often demand too much. But assemblies, being acquainted properly with the occasion, will always grant what is necessary. As protection is, as I said before, mutual and equal in proportion to every man’s property, the colonies have been drawn into all British wars, and have annoyed the enemies of Britain as much in proportion as any other subjects of the King, equal in numbers and property. Therefore, this account has always balanced itself.
It may further be observed, that their proceedings are not quite so rapid and precipitate as those of the Privy Council; so that, should it be found necessary, they will have more time to petition or make remonstrances. For this privilege, the least which a subject can enjoy, is not to be denied them.
Late experience has fully shown that American petitions and remonstrances are little regarded in Britain. The privilege of petitioning has been attempted to be wrested from them. The assemblies’ uniting to petition has been called a flagitious attempt, in the ministers’ letters; and such assemblies as would persist in it have therefore been dissolved.
It is a joke to talk thus to us, when we know that Parliament, so far from solemnly canvassing our petitions, have refused to receive or read them.
Our right of legislation over the Americans, unrepresented as they are, is the point in question. This right is asserted by most, doubted by some, and wholly disclaimed by a few.
I am one of those few; but am persuaded the time is not far distant when the few will become the many; for Magna est veritas et prevalebit.
But to put the matter in a stronger light, the question, I think, should be, whether we have a general right of making slaves or not?
A very proper state of the question.
And the Americans may be treated with as much equity, and even tenderness, by the Parliament of Great Britain, as by their own assemblies. This, at least, is possible, though perhaps not very probable.
How can we Americans believe this, when we see almost half the nation paying but one shilling and sixpence in the pound, while others pay full four shillings; and that there is not virtue and honesty enough in Parliament to rectify this iniquity? How can we suppose they will be just to us at such a distance, when they are not just to one another? It is not, indeed, as the author says, very probable. The unequal representation, too, that prevails in this kingdom, they are so far from having virtue enough to attempt to remedy, that they make use of it as an argument why we should have no representation at all.
To the equity of this measure [an American representation in Parliament], the Americans themselves, I presume, could have nothing fairly to object.
Provided they had an equitable number of representatives allowed them.
As to those, indeed, which attend only the choosing a new Parliament, they may, perhaps, by proper means, be considerably lessened, though not wholly removed.
Let the old members continue till superseded by new ones from America.
But, should the King at any time be disposed to dissolve his Parliament and convene a new one, as hath often been done, only at a few weeks’ notice, this, upon the same footing, could not be effected.
By the above it might.
The method, however, of examining and deciding contested elections, when necessary, must undoubtedly with respect to America be set, in a great measure, upon a different footing from that at present practised in this kingdom.
Let the members be chosen by the American assemblies, and disputed elections settled there, if any; but there would be none.
It is not in the least, at this time, probable that an American representation will ever be convened in England.
I think so too; where neither side approves a match, it is not likely to be made.
They will be almost wholly excluded the benefit of private acts by reason of immoderate expense.
They may make them at home. The expense of private acts in England is shamefully great.
The repairing of highways, making rivers navigable, and cutting canals, with a variety of other things of the like kind, wherein recourse must be had to Parliament, and yet the expense be supplied chiefly, if not wholly, by private persons.
All this may be done by their own laws at home.
This mode of compromise may as well be waived, as it cannot be effected, it is evident, without immense trouble.
And if they should be divided in their sentiments upon it, and uncertain what measures to adopt and follow, it cannot be matter of just wonder and censure.
Then leave it as it is. It was very well, till you attempted alterations and novelties.
In respect to the article of levying taxes, it should be deemed only a matter of grace, to be resumed at pleasure.
Your humble servant! We thank you for nothing. Keep up your claim, and make the most of it.
To be placed upon a level with the rest of the subjects of the British crown, is the utmost the colonies can challenge.
No. They may challenge all that was promised them by charters to encourage them to settle there. They have performed their part of the contract, and therefore have a right to expect a performance of the other part. They have, by the risks and expenses they have incurred, additional merit, and are therefore to be considered as above the level of other subjects.
We cannot otherwise maintain our sovereignty over it, unless our safety were actually at stake and absolutely required it.
I am quite sick of our sovereignty. Your safety is only endangered by quarrelling with the colonies, not by leaving them to the free enjoyment of their own liberties.
They who first migrated from England to settle in America well knew, I presume, they were still to continue the subjects of the same government.
They well knew the contrary. They would never have gone if that had been the case. They fled from your government, which oppressed them. If they carried your government with them, and of course your laws, they had better have stayed and endured the oppression at home, and not have added to it all the hardships of making a new settlement. They carried not your laws; but, had they carried your government and laws, they would now have been subject to spiritual courts, tithes, church acts of Parliament, game acts, &c., &c., which they are not, and never were since their being out of the realm.
They knew they were not to be independent.
They were to depend on the King only.
For no one, I imagine, would doubt if their charters granted them an inconsistent power, but that they might be justly cancelled; as no government can be supposed to alienate prerogatives necessary to its safe existence.
Every government is supposed to be compos mentis when it grants charters, and shall not be allowed to plead insanity. If you break the charters, or violate them, you dissolve all ties between us.
However, a right of sovereignty in this case we may undeniably claim and vindicate; though we might safely grant them independency.
You may claim it; but you have not, never had, nor, I trust, ever will have it. You, that is, the people of England, cannot grant the Americans independency of the King. It can never be, but with his consent and theirs.
Preserving our sovereignty over them, although at the expense of some portion of their natural prerogatives. They partly consist of our own plantations, and partly of the conquests we have made from a nation in whose hands it would have been dangerous for us to have continued.
Our sovereignty! Our sovereignty for ever. Of their, not our plantations. The conquests may be yours partly; but they are partly conquests belonging to the colonies, who joined their forces with yours in equal proportion.
Our very being, therefore, at least as a free people, depends upon our retention of them.
Take care, then, how you use them.
They are now treated as children. Their complaints are heard, and grievances redressed. But then they would be treated rather as slaves, having the swords of their masters perpetually held at their throats, if they should presume to offer half the indignities to the officers of the French crown, which they have often with impunity done to those of the British.
The direct contrary is true; they are not redressed; they are refused to be heard. Fresh oppressions and insults are continually added. English swords are now held at our throats. Every step is taking to convince us that there is no difference in government.
Nay, they have assemblies of their own to redress their grievances.
It is well they have.
And, if that should be done, what marks of sovereignty will they allow us to enjoy? What sort of a claim will they indulge us with? Only, I suppose, a mere titular one. And if so, would they then expect that we should still protect them with our forces by sea and land? Or will they themselves maintain an army and navy sufficient for that purpose? This they certainly at present are not able to do, if they were not sheltered by the wings of Great Britain.
What would you have? Would you, the people of England, be subjects and kings at the same time? Don’t be under any apprehensions for them. They will find allies and friends somewhere; and it will be worth no one’s while to make them enemies, or to attack so poor a people, so numerous, and so well armed.
Nor is there any reason to apprehend that they should be at all formidable to England; as the number [of American representatives in Parliament] might be properly limited, as those of Scotland were at the Union.
A proper limitation can only be this, that they shall from time to time have such a number of additional members, as are proportioned to their increasing share of the taxes and numbers of the people.
An exact estimate can scarcely be made of what expense their protection stands in to Great Britain.
The protection is mutual. They are always, in time of war, at as much expense as would be necessary to protect themselves; first, by the troops and armed ships they raise and equip; secondly, by the higher price they pay for all commodities, when drawn into war by English European quarrels; thirdly, by obstructions to the vent of their produce by general embargo.
They are justly chargeable with a certain portion of the civil list; for this most indubitably constitutes a part of government. How this article at present is managed in England, is not now my business to inquire.
I will tell you how it is managed. The colonies maintain their governors, who are the King’s representatives; and the King receives a quitrent from the lands in most of the colonies.
In many parts they are little, perhaps, or nothing at all, inferior in respect of their conveniences to the mother country.
As these differences cannot be known in Parliament here, how can you proportion and vary your taxes of America, so as to make them equal and fair? It would be undertaking what you are not qualified for, as well as doing what you have no right to do.
Yet it must be granted that they know the best state of their own funds and what taxes they can afford to pay.
And yet you would be meddling.
It is very certain that England is entitled to a great deal of gratitude from her colonies.
The English are eternally harping on this strain, the great obligation the colonies are under for protection from the French. I have shown, already, that the defence was mutual. Every man in England, and every man’s estate, have been defended from the French; but is it sense to tell any particular man “the nation has incurred a debt of one hundred and forty-eight millions to protect you and your estate, and therefore you owe a great deal of gratitude to the nation”? He will say, and justly: “I paid my proportion, and I am under no obligation.” The colonies, as I have shown in preceding notes, have always paid more in various ways, and besides extending your trade sometimes (from which you exclude the colonies), and for whims about the balance of power, and for the sake of continental connexions in which they were separately unconcerned. On the other hand, they have, from their first settlement, had wars in America, in which they never engaged you. The French have never been their enemies, but on your account.
That the late war was chiefly kindled and carried on on your account, can scarcely be denied.
It is denied.
By the steps they seem to take to shake off our sovereignty.
Our sovereignty again! This writer, like the Genoese queens of Corsica, deems himself a sprig of royalty!
For as soon as they are no longer dependent upon England, they may be assured they will immediately become dependent upon France.
We are assured of the contrary. Weak states that are poor are as safe as great ones that are rich. They are not objects of envy. The trade that may be carried on with them makes them objects of friendship. The smallest states may have great allies; and the mutual jealousies of great nations contribute to their security.
And whatever reasons there might exist to dispose them in our favor in preference to the French; yet how far these would operate no one can pretend to say.
Then be careful not to use them ill. It is a better reason for using them kindly. That alone can retain their friendship. Your sovereignty will be of no use if the people hate you. Keeping them in obedience will cost you more than your profits from them will amount to.
It is not, indeed, for their jealousy of their rights and liberties, but for their riotous and seditious manner of asserting them.
Do you Englishmen then pretend to censure the colonies for riots? Look at home! I have seen, within a year, riots in the country about corn; riots about elections; riots about work-houses; riots of colliers; riots of weavers; riots of coal-heavers; riots of sawyers; riots of sailors; riots of Wilkesites; riots of government chairmen; riots of smugglers, in which custom-house officers and excisemen have been murdered, the King’s armed vessels and troops fired at, &c. In America, if one mob rises and breaks a few windows, or tars and feathers a single rascally informer, it is called rebellion; troops and fleets must be sent, and military execution talked of as the decentest thing in the world. Here, indeed, one would think riots part of the mode of government.
And if she had not thought proper to centre almost all her care as she has done, upon making the late peace, in procuring them a safe establishment, and to sacrifice to it, in a manner, every other object, she might at least expect from them a more decent and dutiful demeanour.
In the last war, America kept up twenty-five thousand men at her own cost for five years, and spent many millions. Her troops were in all battles, all service. Thousands of her youth fell a sacrifice. The crown gained an immense extent of territory, and a great number of new subjects. Britain gained a new market for her manufactures, and recovered and secured the old one among the Indians, which the French had interrupted and annihilated. But what did the Americans gain except that safe establishment, which they are now so taunted with? Lands were divided among none of them. The very fishery, which they fought to obtain, they are now restrained in. The plunder of the Havana was not for them. And this very safe establishment they might as well have had by treaty with the French, their neighbours, who would probably have been easily made and continued their friends, if it had not been for their connexion with Britain.
And it seldom happens that any one fares the better for his insolence.
Then don’t be insolent with your power.
For should matters on all sides, as I hope they never will, be carried to extremities, I cannot take upon me to say but England may yet produce both a ministry and Parliament, that would rather share them once more with the French than relinquish her present pretensions.
We have been often threatened with this wise measure of returning Canada to France. Do it when you please. Had the French power, which you were five years subduing with twenty-five thousand regulars, and twenty-five thousand of us to help you, continued at our backs ready to support and assist us, whenever we might think proper to resist your oppressions, you would never have thought of a Stamp Act for us; you would not have dared to use us as you have done. If it be so politic a measure to have enemies at hand (as the notion is), to keep your subjects in obedience, then give part of Ireland to the French to plant. Plant another French colony in the Highlands, to keep rebellious Scotland in order. Plant another on Tower Hill, to restrain your own mobs. There never was a notion more ridiculous. Don’t you see the advantage you may have, if you preserve our connexion? The fifty thousand men and the fleet employed in America during the last war, are now so much strength at liberty to be employed elsewhere.
The legislative power of every kingdom or empire should centre in one supreme assembly.
Distinguish here what may be convenient from what is fact. Before the union it was thought convenient and long wished for, that the two kingdoms should join in one Parliament. But, till that union was formed, the fact was, that their parliaments were distinct, and the British parliaments would not make laws for Scotland. The same fact now subsists in America. The Parliament and states are distinct; but the British Parliament has taken advantage of our minority, and usurped powers not belonging to it.
It would not be amiss, perhaps, to ask them what bounds they would be content to fix to their claims and demands upon us, as hitherto they seem to be at a loss where to stop.
They only desire that you would leave them where you found them; repeal all your taxing laws, and return to requisitions when you would have aids from them.
I must freely own, that whatever opinion I may have of their right, I certainly have not quite as favorable one of their conduct, which often is neither consistent nor prudent.
They think the same of yours.
If they are really willing we should exercise any acts of sovereignty among them at all, the imposition they have so riotously resisted might not improperly, perhaps, have been allowed better quarter.
Leave the King, who alone is the sovereign, to exercise his acts of sovereignty in appointing their governors, and in approving or disapproving their laws. But do you leave it to their choice to trade elsewhere for commodities? To go to another shop? No! you say they shall buy of you, or nobody.
Nor should mere custom, nor any charter or law in being, be allowed any great weight in the decision of this point.
The charters are sacred. Violate them, and then the present bond of union (the kingly power over us) will be broken.
The Americans may insist upon the same rights, privileges, and exemptions as are allowed the Irish, because of the similarity, if not identity, of their connexions with us.
Surely the Americans deserve a little more. They never put you to the trouble and expense of conquering them, as Ireland has done three times over. They never were in rebelllion. I speak now of the native Irish. The English families settled there lost no rights by their merit in conquering that country.
But if any distinction were to be made, most certainly, of the two nations, the Americans are least entitled to any lenity on that score.
I wonder much at this “most certainly.”
The terms she may not think safe and proper to grant the Irish, she may judge full as dangerous and imprudent to grant the Americans.
It is very imprudent to deprive America of any of her privileges. If her commerce and friendship are of any importance to you, they are to be had on no other terms than leaving her in the full enjoyment of her rights.
Long before we could send among them any considerable number of forces, they might do a great deal of mischief, if not actually overturn all order and government.
They will take care to preserve order and government for their own sakes.
Several other reasons might be offered why the same measures, in regard to both nations, might not be altogether alike convenient and advisable.
Where you cannot so conveniently use force, there you should endeavour to secure affection.
OBSERVATIONS ON PASSAGES IN A PAMPHLET, ENTITLED “THE TRUE CONSTITUTIONAL MEANS FOR PUTTING AN END TO THE DISPUTES BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND THE AMERICAN COLONIES.”
Extract. Every British subject must acknowledge that the directive influence of the British state remains with the British legislature, who are the only proper judges of what concerns the general welfare of the whole empire.
Observation. The British state is only the Island of Great Britain; the British legislature are undoubtedly the only proper judges of what concerns the welfare of that state; but the Irish legislature are the proper judges of what concerns the Irish state, and the American legislature of what concerns the American states respectively. By “the whole empire” does this writer mean all the King’s dominions? If so, the British Parliament should also govern the Isles of Jersey and Guernsey, and Hanover; but this is not so.
But the land tax, which I have proposed, is in its very nature unoppressive, and is equally well suited to the poorest as to the richest province of the British empire.
This writer seems ignorant that every colony has its own civil and military establishment to provide for, new roads and bridges to make, churches and all public edifices to erect; and would he separately tax them, moreover, with a tax on lands equal to what is paid in Britain?
The colonists must possess a luxuriant abundance to be able to double their inhabitants in so short a space.
How does this appear? Is not a mere competence sufficient for this purpose? If America will consent to pay thus its proportion of British taxes, will Britain pay out of the whole all the American taxes? Or is America to pay both?
The produce of the planters purchases for them what others buy with gold and silver; but even several of the colonists of the rank of good livers have often been seen to pay the price of a negro with gold. As instances of Virginian luxury, I have been assured that there are few families there without some plate; and at some entertainments the attendants have appeared almost as numerous as the guests.
Was not the gold first purchased by the produce of his land, obtained by hard labor? Does gold drop from the clouds in Virginia into the laps of the indolent. Their very purchasing plate and other superfluities from England is one means of disabling them from paying taxes to England. Would you have it both in meal and malt? It has been a great folly in the Americans to entertain English gentlemen with a splendid hospitality ill suited to their circumstances; by which they excited no other grateful sentiments in their guests than that of a desire to tax the landlord.
It cannot be deemed exorbitant, considering their traffic with the French sugar islands, as well as with our own; and this will make the whole of their importations four millions per annum.
This is arguing the riches of a people from their extravagance—the very thing that keeps them poor.
The inhabitants of Great Britain pay above thirteen millions sterling every year, including turnpikes and the poor’s rates, two articles which the colonists are exempt from.
A turnpike tax is no burden, as the turnpike gives more benefit than it takes. And ought the rich in Britain, who have made such numbers of poor by engrossing all the small divisions of land, and who keep the laborers and working people poor by limiting their wages,—ought those gentry to complain of the burden of maintaining the poor that have worked for them at unreasonably low rates all their lives? As well might the planter complain of being obliged to maintain his poor negroes when they grow old, or sick, or lame, and unable to provide for themselves.
For though all pay by the same law, yet none can be required to pay beyond his ability; and the fund from whence the tax is raised is, in the colonies that are least inhabited, just as able to bear the burden imposed, as in the most populous county of Great Britain.
The colonies are almost always considered by these ignorant, flimsy writers, as unwilling to contribute to the general exigencies of the state; which is not true. They are always willing, but will have the granting of their own money themselves; in which they are right for various reasons.
They would be content to take land from us gratuitously.
What land have they ever taken from you? The lands did not belong to the crown, but to the Indians, of whom the colonists either purchased them at their own expense, or conquered them without assistance from Britain. The engagement to settle the American lands, and the expense of settlement, are more than equivalent for what was of no value to Britain without a first settlement.
The rental of the lands in Great Britain and Ireland amounts to about twenty-two millions; but the rental of the same extent of lands in America is not probably one million sterling.
What signifies extent of unsettled lands, that produce nothing?
I beg to know if the returns of any traffic on earth ever produced so many per cent. as the returns of agriculture in a fertile soil and favorable climate.
How little this politician knows of agriculture! Is there any country where ten bushels of grain are generally got in for one sown? And are all the charges and advances for labor to be nothing? No farmer of America in fact makes five per cent. of his money. His profit is only being paid for his own labor and that of his children. The opulence of one English or Dutch merchant would make the opulence of a hundred American farmers.
It may, I think, be safely concluded that the riches of the colonists would not increase so fast, were the inhabitants to leave off enlarging their settlements and plantations, and run eagerly upon manufactures.
There is no necessity of leaving their plantations; they can manufacture in their families at spare times. Depend upon it, the Americans are not so impolitic as to neglect settlements for unprofitable manufactures; but some manufactures may be more advantageous to some persons than the cultivation of land, and these will prosecute such manufactures notwithstanding your oratory.
[1 ]See supra the letter of April 11, 1767.
[1 ]See Vindication of the Provincial Paper Money System, vol. iv., p. 358.
[1 ]Experiments and Observations on Electricity made at Philadelphia, in America, by B. Franklin, LL.D. and F.R.S., to which are added Letters and Papers on Philosophical Subjects, &c. London: David Henry, 1769, 4°.
[1 ]These were probably Positions to be Examined concerning National Wealth. See infra, April 4, 1769.
[2 ]This “dear friend” was Peter Collinson, who had recently died, and who had long corresponded with John Bartram.
[1 ]Mr. Bartram’s merit as a naturalist attracted the attention of the King, and he was appointed American botanist to his Britannic Majesty, which station probably entitled him to a pension.
[1 ]Dr. Franklin was elected President of the American Philosophical Society on the 19th February, 1768, and was annually re-elected until his death.
[1 ]Degree of Doctor in Divinity, conferred by the University of Edinburgh.
[1 ]At this time the controversy ran high in the colonies respecting the expediency of having an American bishop of the Episcopal Church.
[1 ]The reasons for paying a price are not founded merely upon a computation of the expense of production. A general knowledge of the expenses of producing a bushel of corn does not prevent the producer from demanding and the consumer from paying a higher price when the article is scarce; nor the consumer from offering and the producer from accepting a lower price when it is plenty. A proposition bearing a near affinity to that stated in the text seems to be true, namely, that those things which are of general production and habitual consumption, like the common agricultural products, are more likely to bear a market price near to the cost of production, than things of less common production and less regular use, as the article of lace, mentioned in the next section. It may also be generally the case, that the greater the distance of the place of consumption from that of production, the longer an article is likely to be sold at a great profit, since the operation of competition, in bringing down the price, is likely to be slower.—W. Phillips.
[1 ]Franklin does not, probably, intend to be literally understood as recommending a system of defrauding foreigners; the benefit he proposes from manufactures does not, by any means, amount to this. Nobody considers it cheating to obtain from a domestic purchaser more for a thing than it costs the vender to make it. The most scrupulous mercantile morality does not proscribe profits. The author has elsewhere stated, that gain is the great motive of commerce. He can only mean what he has elsewhere stated, that the nation exporting manufactures has the means of carrying on a more profitable foreign trade, which it may do as long as there are few competitors in effecting sales. But the other reason mentioned immediately before, in favor of exporting manufactures, namely, that it gives an opportunity of exporting the products of more labor, is of much greater importance than the chance of making extraordinary profits; a chance which has been very much diminished by the diffusion of the manufacturing arts, since this article was written.—W. Phillips.
[1 ]Captain Jonathan Carver, celebrated for his travels in the interior parts of North America, was born in Connecticut in the year 1732. He served on the frontiers in the French war, with the reputation of a good officer, till the peace of 1763, after which he travelled near the sources of the Mississippi as far as the river Minnesota, and on the borders of Lake Superior. He returned to Boston in 1768, and thence went to England to solicit from the King some remuneration for his services and aid in publishing his charts and journals. So far from his application being favorably entertained, he was ordered to deliver up his papers as the property of the government, and was obliged to repurchase them from the bookseller to whom he had sold them for publication. He published his Travels through the Interior of North America, in 1778, and in 1779 a Treatise on the Culture of the Tobacco Plant. He died the following year, destitute and neglected.—Editor.
[1 ]The original of this letter, with several others belonging to Dr. Cooper, was seized by a British officer in Boston, soon after the battle of Lexington, when many of the inhabitants, and Dr. Cooper among them, had left the town. The parcel was sent to the King, and the letters themselves, in their original form, are now preserved in the British Museum, having been contained in the library presented by George the Fourth to that institution. Copies of the letters in that collection have been procured for this work, and the above letter is one of the number. Hence the complimentary paragraph, intended only for a private friend, was seen by the King five years after it was written, when Franklin was a member of the Continental Congress, and when, from subsequent experience, his sentiments had changed in regard to the King’s good dispositions towards at least one part of his subjects. The letters from Dr. Franklin to Dr. Cooper, which were sent to the King as here mentioned, were those dated February 24, April 27, August 3, 1769; April 14, June 8, 1770; February 5, 1771; January 13, 1772; February 25, 1774.—Sparks.
[1 ]The associations, as they were called, or resolutions not to import goods from Great Britain had been unequally observed in the different colonies, as will appear by the following statement, taken from the custom-house entries, of the value of all the goods exported from England to the several colonies, enumerated, from Christmas, 1767 to Christmas, 1769.
This summary shows a large decrease in the amount of goods exported to the eastern and middle colonies, particularly New York and Pennsylvania, but an increase at the south. This is in part explained by the fact that the necessities of the southern colonies for foreign goods were much greater than at the east, where domestic manufactures had to some extent become established. The statement is transcribed from a letter written by Mr. W. S. Johnson, in London, March 6, 1770.
[1 ]The office to which Franklin alludes in this letter was probably that of governor of Pennsylvania. It has been said that at one time he was tempted by the offer of the position of under-secretary of State. He was thought of also as a successor to Governor Bernard, in Massachusetts. The ministry would, no doubt, have given him any thing he would have asked to have him with them, but they never found him in a frame of mind which made it safe to approach him with any proposition which was irreconcilable with his devotion and loyalty to the interests of the colonies. Referring to similar reports set afloat some three or four years previous, he wrote to his sister. “As to the reports you mention, that are spread to my disadvantage, I give myself as little concern about them as possible. I have often met with such treatment from people that I was all the while endeavouring to serve. At other times I have been extolled extravagantly, where I had little or no merit. These are the operations of nature. It sometimes is cloudy, it rains, it hails; again it is clear and pleasant, and the sun shines on us. Take one thing with another, and the world is a pretty good sort of a world, and it is our duty to make the best of it and be thankful. One’s true happiness depends more upon one’s own judgment of one’s self, or a consciousness of rectitude in action and intention, and the approbation of those few who judge impartially, than upon the applause of the unthinking, undiscerning multitude, who are apt to cry Hosanna to day, and to-morrow, Crucify him.”
[1 ]This communication first appeared in the London Chronicle, and in reply to “some extracts of letters from officers serving in the British army in America,” tending to cover the Americans with ridicule and obloquy, which appeared in that print in the month of May, 1769. I found it in Walsh’s Appeal from the Judgments of Great Britain, &c., p. 447. It seems to have escaped the attention of Mr. Sparks.—Editor.
[1 ]Sir Francis Bernard, Governor of Massachusetts. He embarked at Boston on the 1st of August.
[2 ]Commissioners of the Customs in Boston.
[3 ]Translated from M. Dubourg’s edition of Franklin’s Works.
[1 ]From a tour on the continent.
[1 ]This young physician was Mr. Hewson, to whom she was married the year following.
[1 ]At the suggestion of Franklin, the American Philosophical Society was organized in Philadelphia, in 1744. Thomas Hopkinson was president of it and Franklin secretary. Nothing is known of its transactions. The records of its proceedings are lost, and if any papers were contributed by its members, they were never published. Franklin became absorbed in his electrical experiments, and the Society languished. Meantime another society sprang up in Philadelphia, called the Junto, or Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge. The portion of the records of this Society which have been preserved, begin with September 22, 1758.
[1 ]Some of the author’s friends in Philadelphia, engaged in raising silk, sent over a sample of their manufacture as a present to the Queen, which is alluded to in the following note:
[1 ]Examination before the British House of Commons. See vol. iv., p. 171, under date of February 3, 1766.
[2 ]Written by John Dickinson, with a Preface by Dr. Franklin. See vol. iv., p. 437.
[1 ]Mr. Strahan was printer to the King, and became a man of wealth and influence. In 1775 he was elected to Parliament from the borough of Malmsbury, as a colleague with Mr. Fox. He was one of Franklin’s oldest and most cherished friends in England.
[1 ]In the year 1767, for the express purpose of raising a revenue in America, glass, red lead, white lead, painters’ colors, paper, and tea (which last article was subject to various home impositions) became charged by act of Parliament, with new permanent duties payable in the American ports. Soon after, in the same sessions, (the East India Company promising indemnification for the experiment,) a temporary alteration was made with respect to the home customs or excise upon certain teas; in the hope that a deduction in the nominal imposition, by producing a more extended consumption, would give an increased sum to the exchequer. Mr. Strahan, comparing only the amounts of the imposed American duty, and the deducted home duty, determines that the Americans had suffered no new imposition. The Americans, it seems, thought otherwise. Had we established this precedent for a revenue, we thought we had every thing to hope; yet we affected surprise when the colonies avoided an acquiescence, which by parity of reasoning gave them every thing to fear.—B. V.
[1 ]“Men may lose little property by an act which takes away all their freedom. When a man is robbed of a trifle on the highway, it is not the two pence lost that makes the capital outrage. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden’s fortune? No! but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was demanded would have made him a slave.” See Mr. Burke’s speeches in 1774 and 1775.—B. V.
[1 ]Nova Scotia, Georgia, the Floridas, and Canada.
[1 ]“The opposition [to Lord Rockingham’s administration],” says Lord Chesterfield, “are for taking vigorous, as they call them, but I call them violent, measures—not less than les dragonades; and to have the tax collected by the troops we have there. For my part, I never saw a froward child mended by whipping; and I would not have the mother become a step-mother.”—Letter, No. 360.
[1 ]This was afterwards attempted by the British legislature, in the case of the Massachusetts Bay province.—B. V.
[2 ]The Lords and Commons very prudently concurred in an address for this purpose; and the King graciously assured them of his compliance with their wishes.—B. V.
[1 ]This State of the Constitution of the Colonies was printed at the close of 1769, and communicated to various persons, with a view to prevent mischief from the misunderstandings between the government of Great Britain and the people of America. I have taken the liberty of ascribing it to Governor Pownall, as his name could have been no secret at the time. Dr. Franklin’s Remarks (which from their early date are the more curious) are in manuscript; and from an observation in reply, signed T. P., appear to have been communicated to Governor Pownall.—B. V.
[2 ]Pratt and York.
[3 ]General words in all charters.
[1 ]Law in New England, confirmed by the crown, October 22, 1700.
[1 ]16th Car. I. c. 10.
[2 ]The case of the court erected by act of Parliament, 11th and 12th of William III. c. 7, (since the enacting of the Habeas Corpus Act) for the trial of piracies, felonies, and robberies committed in or upon the sea, or in any haven, river, creek, or place where the admiral has jurisdiction, does no way affect this position; nor doth the 14th section of the said statute, directing that the commissioners, of whom such court subsists, may issue their warrant for apprehending such pirates, &c., in order to their being tried in the colonies, or sent into England, any way militate with the doctrine here laid down, nor can it be applied as the case of a jurisdiction actually existing, which supersedes the jurisdictions of the courts in the colonies and plantations, and as what authorizes the taking the accused of such piracies, &c., from those jurisdictions, and the sending such, so taken, to England for trial. It cannot be applied as a case similar and in point to the application of an act of Parliament (passed in the 35th of Henry VIII. concerning the trial of treasons), lately recommended, in order to the sending persons, accused of committing crimes in the plantations, to England for trial; because this act of the 11th and 12th of William III. c. 7, respects crimes committed in places “where the admiral has jurisdiction,” and cases to which the jurisdiction of those provincial courts do not extend. In the case of treasons committed within the jurisdiction of the colonies and plantations, there are courts competent to try such crimes, and to give judgment thereupon, where the trials of such are regulated by laws to which the King hath given his consent; from which there lies no appeal, and wherein the King hath given power and instruction to his governor, as to execution or respite of judgment. The said act of Henry VIII., which provides remedy for a case which supposes the want of due legal jurisdiction, cannot be any way, or by any rule, applied to a case where there is due legal and competent jurisdiction.
[1 ]In referring to an old act, made for the trial of treasons committed out of the realm by such persons as had no legal resiancy but within the realm, and who were of the realm, applying the purview of that statute which was made to bring subjects of the realm, who had committed treason out of the realm (where there was no criminal jurisdiction to which they could be amenable), to trial within the realm, under that criminal jurisdiction to which alone, by their legal resiancy and allegiance, they were amenable; applying this to the case of subjects whose legal resiancy is without the realm, and who are, by that resiancy and their allegiance, amenable to a jurisdiction authorized and empowered to try and give judgment upon all capital offences whatsoever without repeal, thus applying this statute so as to take up a proceeding for which there is no legal process, either by common or statute law as now established, but in defiance of which there is a legal process established by the Habeas Corpus Act, would be to disfranchise the subject in America of those rights and liberties which by statute and common law he is now entitled to.
[2 ]13th and 14th Car. II. c. 2.
[1 ]If the King was to absent himself for a time from the realm, and did, as usual, leave a regency in his place (his locum tenens as supreme civil magistrate), could he authorize and commission any military commander-in-chief to command the militia forts and forces independent of such regency? Could he do this in the colonies and plantations where the governor is already, by commission or charter, or both, under the great seal, military commander-in-chief, as part of (and inseparably annexed to) the office of supreme civil magistrate his Majesty’s locum tenens within said jurisdiction? If he could, then while openly, by patent according to law, he appeared to establish a free British constitution, he might by a fallacy establish a military power and government.
[1 ]Governor Pownall accompanied this paper to Dr. Franklin with a sort of prophetic remark. After stating that these theorems, and their application to existing bases, were intended to remedy the prejudice, indigestion, indecision, and errors then prevailing, either in opinions or conduct, he adds: “The very attention to the investigation may lead to the discovery of some truths respecting the whole British empire, then little thought of, and scarce even suspected, and which perhaps it would not be prudent at this time to mark and point out.” The minister, however, judged the discussion of dubious rights over growing states a better policy than possession, discretion, and silence. He turned civilian, and lost an empire.—B. V.