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1771: CCCXCVIII: TO THOMAS CUSHING - 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 THOMAS CUSHING
London, 5 February, 1771.
Since mine of December 24th, I have been honored by the letter from the Committee, dated December 17th, which, with yours of November 6th, now lies before me.
The doctrine of the right of Parliament to lay taxes on America is now almost generally given up here, and one seldom meets in conversation with any who continue to assert it. But there are still many who think that the dignity and honor of Parliament, and of the nation, are so much engaged, as that no formal renunciation of the claim is ever to be expected. We ought to be contented, they say, with a forbearance of any attempt hereafter to exercise such right; and this they would have us rely on as a certainty. Hints are also given, that the duties now subsisting may be gradually withdrawn, as soon as a regard to that dignity will permit it to be decently done, without subjecting government to the contempt of all Europe, as being compelled into measures by the refractoriness of the colonies. How far this may be depended on, no one can say. The presumption rather is, that if, by time, we become so accustomed to these, as to pay them without discontent, no minister will afterwards think of taking them off, but rather be encouraged to add others.
Perhaps there was never an instance of a colony so much and so long persecuted with vehement and malicious abuse, as ours has been, for near two years past, by its enemies here and those who reside in it. The design apparently was, by rendering us odious, as well as contemptible, to prevent all concern for us in the friends of liberty here, when the projects of oppressing us further, and depriving us of our rights by various violent measures, should be carried into execution. Of late this abuse has abated; the sentiments of a majority of the ministers are, I think, become more favorable towards us; and I have reason to believe that all those projects are now laid aside. The projectors themselves, too, are, I believe, somewhat diminished in their credit; and it appears not likely that any new schemes of the kind will be listened to, if fresh occasion is not administered from our side the water. It seems, however, too early yet to expect such an attention to our complaints, as would be necessary to obtain an immediate redress of our grievances. A little time is requisite; but no opportunity will be lost by your agents, of stating them where it may be of use, and inculcating the necessity of removing them, for the strength and safety of the empire. And I hope the colony assemblies will show, by frequently repeated resolves, that they know their rights, and do not lose sight of them. Our growing importance will ere long compel an acknowledgment of them, and establish and secure them to our posterity.
In case of my leaving this country, which I may possibly do in the ensuing summer, I shall put into the hands of Dr. Lee1 all the papers relating to your affairs, which I have received from you, or from the son of your late agent, Mr. De Berdt. The present American secretary, Lord Hillsborough, has indeed objected to the Assembly’s appointment, and insists that no agent ought to be received or attended to by government here who is not appointed by an act of the General Court, to which the governor has given his assent. This doctrine, if he could establish it, would in a manner give to his Lordship the power of appointing, or, at least, negativing any choice of the House of Representatives and Council, since it would be easy for him to instruct the governor not to assent to the appointment of such and such men who are obnoxious to him; so that if the appointment is annual, every agent that valued his post must consider himself as holding it by the favor of his Lordship, and, of course, too much obliged to him to oppose his measures, however contrary to the interest of the province.
Of what use such agents would be it is easy to judge, and, although I am assured that notwithstanding this fancy of his Lordship, any memorial, petition, or other address from, or in behalf of, the House of Representatives to the King in Council, or to either House of Parliament, would be received from your agent as usual, yet on this occasion I cannot but wish that the public character of a colony agent was better understood and settled, as well as the political relation between the colonists and the mother country.
When they come to be considered in the light of distinct states, as I conceive they really are, possibly their agents may be treated with more respect, and considered more as public ministers. Under the present American administration they are rather looked on with an evil eye, as obstructors of ministerial measures; and the Secretary would, I imagine, be well pleased to get rid of them, being, as he has sometimes intimated, of opinion that agents are unnecessary, for that whatever is to be transacted between the assemblies of colonies and the government here may be done through and by the governor’s letters, and more properly than by any agent whatever. In truth, your nominations, particularly of Dr. Lee and myself, have not been at all agreeable to his Lordship.
I purpose, however, to draw up a memorial, stating our rights and grievances, and in the name and behalf of the province protesting particularly against the late innovations in respect to the military power obtruded on the civil, as well as the other infringements of the charter, and at a proper time, if Mr. Bollan, on due consideration, approves of it, and will join me in it, to present it to his Majesty in Council. Whether speedy redress is, or is not, the consequence, I imagine it may be of good use to keep alive our claims, and show that we have not given up the contested points, though we take no violent measures to obtain them.
A notion has been much inculcated here by our enemies that any farther concession on the part of Great Britain would only serve to increase our demands. I have constantly given it as my opinion that if the colonies were restored to the state they were in before the Stamp Act, they would be satisfied, and contend no farther. As in this I have been supposed not to know or not to speak the sentiments of the Americans, I am glad to find the same so fully expressed in the Committee’s letter. It was certainly, as I have often urged, bad policy, when they attempted to heal our differences by repealing part of the duties only, as it is bad surgery to leave splinters in a wound which must prevent its healing, or in time occasion it to open afresh.
There is no doubt of the intention to make governors and some other officers independent of the people for their support, and that this purpose will be persisted in if the American revenue is found sufficient to defray the salaries. Many think this so necessary a measure that even if there were no such revenue the money should issue out of the treasury here. But this, I apprehend, would hardly be the case, there being so many demands at home, and the salaries of so many officers in so many colonies would amount to such an immense sum that probably the burden would be found too great, and the providing for the expense of their governments be left to the colonies themselves.
I shall watch every thing that may be moved to the detriment of the province, and use my best endeavours for its service.
No public notice has yet been taken of the inflammatory paper mentioned by the Committee, as stuck up in Boston, and I think the indiscretion of individuals is not now so likely, as it has been of late, to make general impressions to our disadvantage. With the greatest respect, &c.,
TO SAMUEL COOPER
London, 5 February, 1771.
I have just received your kind favor of January 1st by Mr. Bowdoin, to whom I should be glad to render any service here. I wrote to you some weeks since in answer to yours of July and November, expressing my sentiments without the least reserve on points that require free discussion, as I know I can confide in your prudence not to hurt my usefulness here by making me more obnoxious than I must necessarily be from that known attachment to the American interest, which my duty as well as inclination demands of me.
In the same confidence I send you the enclosed extract from my Journal, containing a late conference between the Secretary1 and your friend, in which you will see a little of his temper. It is one of the many instances of his behaviour and conduct that have given me the very mean opinion I entertain of his abilities and fitness for his station. His character is conceit, wrongheadedness, obstinacy, and passion. Those who would speak most favorably of him allow all this; they only add that he is an honest man and means well. If that be true, as perhaps it may, I wish him a better place, where only honesty and well-meaning are required, and where his other qualities can do no harm. Had the war taken place, I have reason to believe he would have been removed. He had, I think, some apprehensions of it himself at the time I was with him. I hope, however, that our affairs will not much longer be perplexed and embarrassed by his perverse and senseless management. I have since heard that his Lordship took great offence at some of my last words, which he calls extremely rude and abusive. He assured a friend of mine that they were equivalent to telling him to his face that the colonies could expect neither favor nor justice during his administration. I find he did not mistake me.
It is true, as you have heard, that some of my letters to America have been echoed back thither; but that has not been the case with any that were written to you. Great umbrage was taken, but chiefly by Lord Hillsborough, who was disposed before to be angry with me, and therefore the inconvenience was the less; and, whatever the consequences are of his displeasure, putting all my offences together, I must bear them as well as I can. Not but that if there is to be war between us I shall do my best to defend myself and annoy my adversary, little regarding the story of the Earthen Pot and Brazen Pitcher. One encouragement I have, the knowledge that he is not a whit better liked by his colleagues in the ministry than he is by me; that he cannot probably continue where he is much longer, and that he can scarce be succeeded by anybody who will not like me the better for his having been at variance with me.
Pray continue writing to me, as you find opportunity. Your candid, clear, and well-written letters, be assured, are of great use. With the highest esteem, I am, my dear friend, &c.,
[Minutes of the Conference mentioned in the preceding Letter.]
Wednesday, 16 January, 1771.
I went this morning to wait on Lord Hillsborough. The porter at first denied his Lordship, on which I left my name, and drove off. But before the coach got out of the square the coachman heard a call, turned, and went back to the door, when the porter came and said: “His Lordship will see you, Sir.” I was shown into the levee room, where I found Governor Bernard, who, I understand, attends there constantly. Several other gentlemen were there attending, with whom I sat down a few minutes, when Secretary Pownall1 came out to us, and said his Lordship desired I would come in.
I was pleased with this ready admission and preference, having sometimes waited three or four hours for my turn; and, being pleased, I could more easily put on the open, cheerful countenance that my friends advised me to wear. His Lordship came towards me, and said: “I was dressing in order to go to court; but, hearing that you were at the door, who are a man of business, I determined to see you immediately.” I thanked his Lordship, and said that my business at present was not much; it was only to pay my respects to his Lordship and to acquaint him with my appointment by the House of Representatives of Massachusetts Bay to be their agent here, in which station if I could be of any service—(I was going on to say—“to the public I should be very happy”; but his Lordship, whose countenance changed at my naming that province, cut me short by saying with something between a smile and a sneer):
I must set you right there, Mr. Franklin, you are not agent.
Why, my Lord?
You are not appointed.
I do not understand your Lordship; I have the appointment in my pocket.
You are mistaken; I have later and better advices. I have a letter from Governor Hutchinson; he would not give his assent to the bill.
There was no bill, my Lord; it was a vote of the House.
There was a bill presented to the governor for the purpose of appointing you and another, one Dr. Lee, I think he is called, to which the governor refused his assent.
I cannot understand this, my Lord; I think there must be some mistake in it. Is your Lordship quite sure that you have such a letter?
I will convince you of it directly. (Rings the bell.) Mr. Pownall will come in and satisfy you.
It is not necessary, that I should now detain your Lordship from dressing. You are going to court. I will wait on your Lordship another time.
No, stay; he will come immediately. (To the servant.) Tell Mr. Pownall I want him. (Mr. Pownall comes in.)
Have not you at hand Governor Hutchinson’s letter, mentioning his refusing his assent to the bill for appointing Dr. Franklin agent?
Is there not such a letter?
No, my Lord; there is a letter relating to some bill for the payment of a salary to Mr. De Berdt, and I think to some other agent, to which the governor had refused his assent.
And is there nothing in the letter to the purpose I mention?
No, my Lord.
I thought it could not well be, my Lord; as my letters are by the last ships, and they mention no such thing. Here is the authentic copy of the vote of the House appointing me, in which there is no mention of any act intended. Will your Lordship please to look at it? (With seeming unwillingness he takes it, but does not look into it.)
An information of this kind is not properly brought to me as Secretary of State. The Board of Trade is the proper place.
I will leave the paper then with Mr. Pownall to be—
L. H. (Hastily)—
To what end would you leave it with him?
To be entered on the minutes of that Board, as usual.
L. H. (Angrily)—
It shall not be entered there. No such paper shall be entered there while I have any thing to do with the business of that Board. The House of Representatives has no right to appoint an agent. We shall take no notice of any agents, but such as are appointed by acts of Assembly, to which the governor gives his assent. We have had confusion enough already. Here is one agent appointed by the Council, another by the House of Representatives. Which of these is agent for the province? Who are we to hear in provincial affairs? An agent appointed by act of Assembly we can understand. No other will be attended to for the future, I can assure you.
I cannot conceive, my Lord, why the consent of the governor should be thought necessary to the appointment of an agent for the people. It seems to me that——.
L. H. (With a mixed look of anger and contempt)—
I shall not enter into a dispute with you, Sir, upon this subject.
I beg your Lordship’s pardon; I do not presume to dispute with your Lordship. I would only say that it seems to me that every body of men who cannot appear in person where business relating to them may be transacted, should have a right to appear by an agent. The concurrence of the governor does not seem to be necessary. It is the business of the people that is to be done; he is not one of them; he is himself an agent.
L. H. (Hastily)—
Whose agent is he?
The King’s, my Lord.
No such matter. He is one of the corporation by the province charter. No agent can be appointed but by an act, nor any act pass without his assent. Besides, this proceeding is directly contrary to express instructions.
I did not know there had been such instructions. I am not concerned in any offence against them, and——.
Yes, your offering such a paper to be entered is an offence against them. (Folding it up again without having read a word of it.) No such appointment shall be entered. When I came into the administration of American affairs I found them in great disorder. By my firmness they are now something mended; and while I have the honor to hold the seals I shall continue the same conduct, the same firmness. I think my duty to the master I serve, and to the government of this nation, requires it of me. If that conduct is not approved, they may take my office from me when they please. I shall make them a bow, and thank them; I shall resign with pleasure. That gentleman knows it (pointing to Mr. Pownall); but while I continue in it I shall resolutely persevere in the same firmness. (Spoken with great warmth, and turning pale in his discourse, as if he was angry at something or somebody besides the agent, and of more consequence to himself.)
B. F. (Reaching out his hand for the paper, which his Lordship returned to him)—
I beg your Lordship’s pardon for taking up so much of your time. It is, I believe, of no great importance whether the appointment is acknowledged or not, for I have not the least conception that an agent can at present be of any use to any of the colonies. I shall therefore give your Lordship no further trouble. (Withdrew.)
TO CADWALLADER EVANS
London, 10 February, 1771.
I have not now before me your letter, which came with the sample of silk, having put it into the hands of Mr. Walpole with the sample, who has promised me full and particular answers to all your queries, after the silk has been thoroughly examined. In the meantime he tells me the best sort appears to him to be worth in itself twenty-seven or twenty-eight shillings a pound, and will fetch that price when some imperfections in the reeling it are remedied. He tells me, farther, that the best eggs are to be had from Valencia, in Spain, whence he will procure some for you against the next year, the worms from those eggs being the strongest, healthiest, and producing the finest silk of any others, and he thinks you should get some reelers from Italy, which he would likewise undertake to do for you, if desired. He is one of the most opulent and noble-spirited merchants of this kingdom.
I shall write to you fully by Osborne, with all the information I can procure. In the meantime please to present my respects to the gentlemen concerned in the affair, and assure them of my best services. I am, my dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO JONATHAN WILLIAMS
London, 5 March, 1771.
I suppose Jonathan has told you that the lottery is drawn, and your two new tickets had the same success as the former, namely: one twenty-pound prize, and one blank. Would you go on any further?
Josiah is very happy in being under the tuition of Mr. Stanley, who very kindly undertook him at my request, though he had left off teaching. Josiah goes constantly, too, to several concerts, besides operas and oratorios, so that his thirst for music is in a way of being thoroughly satiated. This is the principal expense; for, in all other respects, I never saw two young men from America more prudent and frugal than he and his brother are.
Jonathan seems to have an excellent turn for business, and to be a perfect master of accounts. In the latter he has been of great use to me, having put all mine in order for me. There is a proposal from his uncle of his going to East India as a writer in the Company’s service, which I wish may take place, as I think, if he lives, he cannot fail bringing home a fortune. He had ordered a cargo of goods to be sent you for cousin Wood’s shop, and had given expectations of paying ready money; but, one of your bills being protested, there seemed a necessity of asking some credit of the merchant. I advised him to take what was wanting of me, rather than fail in punctuality to his word, which is sacred here among all that would maintain a character in trade. He did so; and thereby also saved the discount without putting me to the least inconvenience, provided the money is replaced in six months; and I was glad I had it in my power to accommodate him.
I hope you have before this time got another tenant for your house, and at the former rent. However, I would have you go on advancing to my sister the amount of it, as I am persuaded she cannot well do without it. She has, indeed, been very unfortunate in her children.1 I am glad to hear that as soon as the weather permits, the tomb will receive a thorough repair. Your kind care in this matter will greatly oblige your affectionate uncle,
TO MRS. WILLIAMS
London, 5 March, 1771.
I received your kind letter by your sons. They are, I assure you, exceeding welcome to me; and they behave with so much prudence, that no two young men could possibly less need the advice you would have me give them. Josiah is very happily employed in his musical pursuits. And as you hinted to me, that it would be agreeable to you if I employed Jonathan in writing, I requested him to put my accounts in order, which had been much neglected. He undertook it with the utmost cheerfulness and readiness, and executed it with the greatest diligence, making me a complete set of new books, fairly written out and settled in a mercantile manner, which is a great satisfaction to me, and a very considerable service. I mention this, that you may not be in the least uneasy from an apprehension of their visit being burdensome to me; it being, I assure you, quite the contrary.
It has been wonderful to me to see a young man from America, in a place so full of various amusements as London is, as attentive to business, as diligent in it, and keeping as close at home till it was finished, as if it had been for his own profit; and as if he had been at the public diversions so often as to be tired of them.
I pray God to keep and preserve you, and give you again, in due time, a happy sight of these valuable sons; being your affectionate uncle,
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN
London, 20 April, 1771.
It is long since I have heard from you. The last packet brought me no letter, and there are two packets now due. It is supposed that the long easterly winds have kept them back. We have had a severe and tedious winter. There is not yet the smallest appearance of spring. Not a bud has pushed out, nor a blade of grass. The turnips, that used to feed the cattle, have been destroyed by the frost. The hay in most parts of the country is gone, and the cattle perishing for want, the lambs dying by thousands through cold and scanty nourishment. On Tuesday last I went to dine at our friend Sir Matthew Featherstone’s through a heavy storm of snow. His windows, you know, look into the park. Towards evening, I observed the snow still lying over all the park, for the ground was before too cold to thaw, it being itself frozen, and ice in the canal. You cannot imagine a more winterlike prospect. Sir Matthew and Lady Featherstone always inquire kindly of your welfare, as do Mr. and Mrs. Sargent.
Sir John Pringle has heard from Mr. Bowman of your kindness to that gentleman, and desires I would present his particular acknowledgments for the attention you have paid to his recommendation. The Ohio affair seems now near a conclusion, and if the present ministry stand a little longer, I think it will be completed to our satisfaction. Mr. Wharton has been indefatigable, and I think scarce any one I know besides would have been equal to the task, so difficult it is to get business forward here, in which some party purpose is not to be served. But he is always among them, and leaves no stone unturned.1
I have attended several times this winter upon your acts of Assembly. The Board are not favorably disposed towards your insolvent acts, pretending to doubt whether distant creditors, particularly such as reside in England, may not sometimes be injured by them. I have had a good deal of conversation with Mr. Jackson about them, who remarks that whatever care the Assembly may, according to my representation of their practice, take in examining into the cases to prevent injustice, yet upon the face of the acts nothing of that care appears. The preambles only say that such and such persons have petitioned and set forth the hardship of their imprisonment, but not a word of the Assembly’s having inquired into the allegations contained in such petitions and found them true; not a word of the general consent of the principal creditors, or of any public notice given of the debtor’s intention to apply for such an act; all which, he thinks, should appear in the preambles. And then those acts would be subject to less objection and difficulty in getting them through the offices here. I would have you communicate this to the Speaker of the Assembly, with my best respects. I doubt some of those acts will be repealed. Nothing has been done, or is now likely to be done, by the Parliament in American affairs. The House of Commons and the city of London are got into a violent controversy, that seems at present to engross the public attention, and the session cannot continue much longer.
By this ship I send the picture that you left with Meyer. He has never yet finished the miniatures. The other pictures I send with it are for my own house, but this you may take to yours.
FROM SAMUEL RHOADS TO B. FRANKLIN
Philadelphia, 3 May, 1771.
I received thy kind favor of February 10th, and am much obliged by the several useful papers, pamphlets, and samples contained therein. Thy friend Wooller has taken much pains in explaining the method of making our houses secure from fire, which I hope will be of great service. We are much obliged to him. I have given several little bits of the limestone to some of my acquaintance in the country, in hopes it may be found here. I am told they make lime in Berks County that will harden under water. I have sent for a sample of it, and will try it. We certainly have plenty of stone very like this in appearance, and I hope of the same quality. I am the more concerned for this discovery, as we are told it was very useful in the works under water of the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal, and we expect shortly to be canal-mad, and may want it in such works also.
The growing trade of Baltimore Town in Maryland, drawn principally from our province west of the Susquehanna, begins to alarm us with serious apprehensions of such a rival, as may reduce us to the situation of Burlington and Newcastle on the Delaware; and we can devise no means of saving ourselves but by a canal from the Susquehanna to the Schuylkill, and amending the navigation of all our rivers, so far as they lead towards our capital city. A great number of thy friends are very anxious for promoting this work, particularly the canal, if it is practicable, through the heart of the country. And as thou wast kind enough formerly to send me several papers relating to the navigation of Calder River, I request the favor of adding thereto the last accounts and instructions respecting canals, the construction of their floodgates, wastegates, &c. The Assembly have ordered the Speaker to procure the remainder of the statutes to complete their set in the State House library, by which, I suppose we shall have those relating to canals; but, if they are to be had singly, please to send one or two, which are the most instructive in the rates, terms, conditions of carriage, and passing the grounds, and the cost shall be paid.1
I congratulate thee on the prospect we have of the sum of money lodged in the bank for the Pennsylvania Hospital being now paid, and of thy pleasure in receiving it for that charity, which thou hadst so great a share in establishing. We last night executed a power of attorney to thee, Dr. Fothergill, and David Barclay, to apply to the Court of Chancery in order to receive it; and lest our Hospital seal should not be sufficient evidence of our act and deed, we called three witnesses, who may be examined by your people on oath respecting the due executing the powers of attorney. If any difficulty should occur, you will not fail of acquainting us with it by the first opportunity. My wife, children, and thy old friend Ann Paschal, desire to be kindly remembered to thee. Thy sincere and affectionate friend,
TO THE COMMITTEE OF CORRESPONDENCE IN MASSACHUSETTS1
London, 15 May, 1771.
I have received your favor of the 27th of February, with the Journal of the House of Representatives, and copies of the late oppressive prosecutions in the Admiralty Court, which I shall, as you direct, communicate to Mr. Bollan, and consult with him on the most advantageous use to be made of them for the interest of the province.
I think one may clearly see, in the system of customs to be exacted in America by act of Parliament, the seeds sown of a total disunion of the two countries, though, as yet, that event may be at a considerable distance. The course and natural progress seems to be, first, the appointment of needy men as officers, for others do not care to leave England; then, their necessities make them rapacious, their office makes them proud and insolent, their insolence and rapacity make them odious, and, being conscious that they are hated, they become malicious; their malice urges them to a continual abuse of the inhabitants in their letters to administration, representing them as disaffected and rebellious, and (to encourage the use of severity) as weak, divided, timid, and cowardly. Government believes all; thinks it necessary to support and countenance its officers; their quarrelling with the people is deemed a mark and consequence of their fidelity; they are therefore more highly rewarded, and this makes their conduct still more insolent and provoking.
The resentment of the people will, at times and on particular incidents, burst into outrages and violence upon such officers, and this naturally draws down severity and acts of further oppression from hence. The more the people are dissatisfied the more rigor will be thought necessary; severe punishment will be inflicted to terrify; rights and privileges will be abolished; greater force will then be required to secure execution and submission; the expense will become enormous; it will then be thought proper, by fresh exactions, to make the people defray it; thence, the British nation and government will become odious, the subjection to it will be deemed no longer tolerable; war ensues, and the bloody struggle will end in absolute slavery to America, or ruin to Britain by the loss of her colonies; the latter most probable, from America’s growing strength and magnitude.
But, as the whole empire must, in either case, be greatly weakened, I cannot but wish to see much patience and the utmost discretion in our general conduct, that the fatal period may be postponed, and that, whenever this catastrophe shall happen, it may appear to all mankind that the fault has not been ours. And, since the collection of these duties has already cost Britain infinitely more in the loss of commerce than they amount to, and that loss is likely to continue and increase by the encouragement given to our manufactures through resentment; and since the best pretence for establishing and enforcing the duties is the regulation of trade for the general advantage, it seems to me that it would be much better for Britain to give them up, on condition of the colonies undertaking to enforce and collect such as are thought fit to be continued, by laws of their own, and officers of their own appointment, for the public uses of their respective governments. This would alone destroy those seeds of disunion and both countries might thence much longer continue to grow great together, more secure by their united strength, and more formidable to their common enemies. But the power of appointing friends and dependents to profitable offices is too pleasing to most administrations to be easily parted with or lessened; and therefore such a proposition, if it were made, is not very likely to meet with attention.
I do not pretend to the gift of prophecy. History shows that, by these steps, great empires have crumbled heretofore; and the late transactions we have so much cause to complain of show that we are in the same train, and that, without a greater share of prudence and wisdom than we have seen both sides to be possessed of, we shall probably come to the same conclusion.
The Parliament, however, is prorogued, without having taken any of the steps we had been threatened with, relating to our charter. Their attention has been engrossed by other affairs, and we have therefore longer time to operate in making such impressions, as may prevent a renewal of this particular attempt by our adversaries. With great esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 5 June, 1771.
My Dear Child:—
I have lately made a journey of a fortnight to Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, and Manchester, and returned only in time to be at court on the King’s birthday, which was yesterday. The joy was in a fair way of being doubled on the same day; for the Queen was delivered early this morning of another prince, the eighth child, there being now six princes and two princesses, all lovely children. The Prince of Wales and the Bishop of Osnaburg appeared yesterday for the first time in the drawing-room, and gave great pleasure by their sensible, manly behaviour. My journey has been of use to my health; the air and exercise have given me fresh spirits, and I feel now exceedingly well, thanks to God.
I wrote to you lately. I suppose you have written by Falconer, who is not yet heard of. My love to our children and grandson. I am, as ever, your affectionate husband,
TO JONATHAN SHIPLEY, BISHOP OF ASAPH
London, 24 June, 1771.
I got home in good time and well; but on perusing the letters that were sent to me from America during my absence, and considering the business they require of me, I find it not convenient to return so soon as I intended. I regret my having been obliged to leave that most agreeable retirement, which good Mrs. Shipley put me so kindly in possession of.1 I now breathe with reluctance the smoky air of London, when I think of the sweet air of Twyford; and by the time your races are over, or about the middle of next month, if it should not then be unsuitable to your engagements or other purposes, I promise myself the happiness of spending a week or two where I so pleasantly spent the last.
I have taken the liberty of sending by the Southampton stage, which goes to-morrow, a parcel directed to your Lordship, to be left at the turnpike next beyond Winchester, containing one of my books for Miss Georgiana, which I hope she will be good enough to accept as a small mark of my regard for her philosophic genius; and also a specimen of the American dried apples for Mrs. Shipley, that she may judge whether it will be worth while to try the practice. I doubt some dust may have got among them; therefore it will not perhaps be amiss to rinse them a minute or two in warm water, and dry them quick in a napkin; but this is submitted to her better judgment. With great esteem and respect, and many thanks for your abundant civilities, I am, my Lord, &c.,
TO NOBLE WIMBERLY JONES
London, 3 July, 1771.
In mine of May 1st, I enclosed a copy of the petition intended to be presented to the King in Council, in behalf of the possessors of the lands claimed by Sir William Baker’s assigns. I am now to acquaint you that it was presented accordingly, and is referred down to the Board of Trade for their opinion. But as the Board is about to adjourn for some months, we are advised not to press the consideration of it till they meet again, as they have now too little time to attend to it properly. Immediately on their return to business, we shall urge for their report.
I see by the newspapers that your new Assembly is also dissolved.1 I am sorry for these differences, which must be uncomfortable to you and all that wish the welfare of the province.
It is now thought that a peace between the Turks and Russians is likely soon to be concluded, which gives a better prospect of the continuance of peace among the other powers of Europe; for it seldom happens that a war, begun between any two of them, does not extend itself sooner or later till it involves the whole. Spain showed a strong inclination to begin with us; but, France being not willing or ready to join her, she has smothered that inclination for the present. With great esteem, I am, Sir, &c.,
TO CADWALLADER EVANS
London, 4 July, 1771.
I acquainted you some time since that I expected soon to obtain satisfactory answers to your queries relating to the specimens of silk you sent over; but I was disappointed till lately, when I had a meeting with Mr. Patterson, esteemed one of the best judges of that commodity, who favored me with the enclosed paper, and, in conversation, with the following particulars.
He thinks that the water, though clear at first, may grow foul with the impurities of the cocoons reeled in it, and therefore should be changed as that appears to be the case. He gave me a skein of what is called the best Italian silk imported here, and advised me to send it over as a pattern, for our people to endeavour to imitate, with regard to its evenness, cleanness from nibs, and lustre; and, that they might better see the difference and understand his remarks, he wished the skeins sent over hither might be returned with it. I send them all together accordingly.
He says the silk reeled from twelve cocoons fetches nearly as good a price as that from six, because it winds well, and there is less fine waste; the dropping accidentally, or through inattention, three or four of the cocoons out of twelve not weakening the thread so much in proportion, as when the same number are dropped out of six; nor is the thread so apt to break in winding. I observe that the Italian silk has a sweet smell, as if perfumed. He thinks it is the natural smell of the silk, when prepared in perfection. He understands that the Piedmontese reel is esteemed preferable to Mr. Pullein’s. He says we may carry that produce to what length we please. It is impossible to overstock the market, as the demand is continually increasing, silk being more and more worn, and daily entering into the composition of more and a greater variety of manufactures.
I communicated your thanks to Mr. Walpole, who was pleased to assure me he should always be ready to afford the design all the assistance in his power, and will endeavour to procure some eggs for you from Valencia against the next season.
I am much obliged to you for the snuff-box. The wood is beautiful. The manufacture should be encouraged. I hope our people will not be disheartened by a few accidents, and such disappointments as are incident to all new undertakings, but persevere bravely in the silk business till they have conquered all difficulties. By diligence and patience the mouse ate in twain the cable. It is not two centuries since it was as much a novelty in France, as it is now with us in North America, and the people as much unacquainted with it.
My respects to my good old friend, Mr. Wharton. I hope he is recovered of the indisposition you mention. With sincere esteem, I am, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and humble servant,
FROM SAMUEL COOPER TO B. FRANKLIN
Boston, 10 July, 1771.
My thanks are due to you for writing to me with so much freedom, and I endeavour to make the best use of what you communicate. Your interposition in favor of the charter was kind, and must endear you to every true friend of the province. But what shall we say of those who were capable of forming or promoting such a design? Can we suppose them possessed of such ideas and principles, as entitle them to influence the councils of a great nation?
I could not but regard with pleasure the figure which the Secretary made in his conversation with my friend. He must have been uneasy, not only from an apprehension of losing his place, but from feeling also his own littleness; and his self-sufficiency, for a moment at least, must have been suspended amidst all the pomp and parade of his office. His measures respecting this province exactly answer the picture you have given of him; and, while we have in the American department a man, of a size and temper to be a tool of Sir Francis Bernard, his Majesty’s service will be perpetually embarrassed.
The project, for making governors independent for their salaries upon the grants of the people they govern, gives great uneasiness to the most considerate friends of the constitution. The reasons you mention against it are unanswerable. It was taken for granted, when the charter was received here, that the governor was to be supported by the free gift of the province, and this was doubtless one reason for acquiescing in a compact that gave so great a power and influence to the crown; and, accordingly, this has been the manner in which the representatives of the crown have constantly been supported. It is a strong connexion between the ruler and the people, tending in every view to promote the great end of government, and the want of which no expedient can supply. The civil list is the free grant of a British Parliament, and is augmented from time to time at their pleasure, but the American revenue is not the gift of the American assemblies; it is extorted from them by mere power, contrary to their just remonstrances and humble petitions. And, though the Assembly may make a grant to a good governor, at the close of his administration, yet it is in the power of the crown to cut off from the people this very small resource of influence, by obliging its representative not to accept such a grant, while, by its absolute appointment of him, it is absolute master of his conduct.
Nor can there be any pretence for this threatening innovation from the conduct of our provincial Assembly upon this point. For even in the highest political contest with Sir Francis Bernard, so sensible were the House of the importance of supporting the King’s governor, while he remained in office, that they never once proposed to diminish or delay, much less to deny, his salary; and surely it is to be hoped that the Assembly will never meet with a stronger provocation to such a measure than they did in him.
I cannot forbear to add, though writing to one who has a much more thorough comprehension of the subject than myself, that this proposed, and, I am afraid, determined independence, is impolitic on the part of the crown, and tends to prejudice its interest, even considered separately from that of the people; as it will prove a strong temptation to governors to hold a conduct that will greatly lessen their esteem and influence in the province, and consequently their power to promote the service of the King. Caution and watchfulness in governors, and some regard to the interest, and even the inclinations and humors, of the people, must, I think, be a security to the prerogative; but independence will take off this guard, and lead them to be inattentive to, if not directly to encourage and promote, such things as will still further weaken the political connexion between the parent country and the colonies; so that I hope the ministry, upon cool consideration, may be induced to lay aside this measure, as they wish the continuance of the constitutional powers of the crown, and that it may long retain the peaceful and happy government of America.
I doubt not of your exerting your abilities and influence for so good a purpose; and, should you succeed, you will do a most important and obliging service to the province. But what are we to expect, when the means of self-defence upon such great points are to be taken from us, and no public moneys are allowed for the support of an agent, unless he be under the control of the governor?
You will no doubt be particularly informed of a new point that has alarmed us as much as any thing, and is regarded almost universally as an undisguised violation of a fundamental principle of the charter. I mean the governor’s refusing to sign the supply bill, because the Commissioners1 were not exempted by it from taxes. The crown grants by charter, that the General Assembly shall have full power and authority to impose rates and taxes upon all and every the proprietors and inhabitants of the province. No persons, however related to the crown, are excepted. The King now says, by his instructions, no supply bill shall be passed, unless the Commissioners are exempted. Is not this to claim a right to rescind by instruction what was solemnly ceded by charter and compact? The governor may indeed refuse his assent to a supply bill; but can he do it upon a declared principle subversive of the capital privileges of the charter, and only because they exercise the power and authority granted them in it? If the crown can exempt five persons, it may with equal right five hundred; not only the Commissioners, but all judges, justices, clerks of courts, constables, and all friends to government, as men of slavish principles affect to be called, and leave the whole burden of taxes upon those who wish well to the rights of their country.
In this manner people reason here. “But out of the eater cometh forth meat.” Good may arise from this. It is bold and open, and strikes every description of men. It is not a point confined to trade; it regards in itself, and much more in its tendency, the pocket of the farmer, and the farmer will regard his pocket. It shows the disposition of the Commissioners, who, for such a trifle as the tax they pay, and which, perhaps, affects their pride much more than their purse, have started a new and important subject of contention; and how fit they are for that influence in governmental measures, which they have so long and so mysteriously possessed.
I long to see your treatise, showing that every lady of Genoa is not Queen of Corsica. I doubt not you will be able to prove your point. But though I believe you capable of confuting a whole island of queens, I fear whether you could persuade them silently to renounce their crowns and sceptres. I am, Sir, with the greatest esteem, &c.,
TO SAMUEL FRANKLIN
London, 12 July, 1771.
I received your kind letter of May 17th, and rejoice to hear that you and your good family are well. My love to them. With this I send you the print you desire for Mr. Bowen. He does me honor in accepting it.
Sally Franklin presents her duty to you and Mrs. Franklin. Yesterday a very odd accident happened, which I must mention to you, as it relates to your grandfather. A person that deals in old books, of whom I sometimes buy, acquainted me that he had a curious collection of pamphlets bound in eight volumes folio, and twenty-four volumes quarto and octavo, which he thought, from the subjects, I might like to have, and that he would sell them cheap. I desired to see them, and he brought them to me. On examining I found that they contained all the principal pamphlets and papers on public affairs that had been printed here from the Restoration down to 1715. In one of the blank leaves at the beginning of each volume the collector had written the titles of the pieces contained in it, and the price they cost him. Also notes in the margin of many of the pieces; and the collector I find, from the handwriting and various other circumstances, was your grandfather, my uncle Benjamin. Wherefore, I the more readily agreed to buy them. I suppose he parted with them when he left England and came to Boston, soon after your father, which was about the year 1716 or 1717, now more than fifty years since. In whose hands they have been all this time I know not. The oddity is that the book-seller, who could suspect nothing of any relation between me and the collector, should happen to make me the offer of them. My love to your good wife and children. Your affectionate cousin,
TO JOHN BARTRAM
London, 17 July, 1771.
My Good and Dear Old Friend:—
I received your kind letter of April 29th, wherein you complain of your friends here not writing to you. I had written a letter to you on the 20th of the same month, which I hope is long since come to hand; but I confess I ought to have written sooner, to acknowledge the receipt of the box of seeds, whereby I was much obliged. As to your pension, there is not, I believe, the least reason for you to apprehend its being stopped. I know not who receives it for you here, or I should quicken them in writing to you. But there is no instance in this King’s reign of taking away a pension once granted, unless for some great offence. Young is in no esteem here as far as I can learn.
I wish your daughter success with her silkworms. I am persuaded nothing is wanting in our country for the produce of silk, but skill; which will be obtained by persevering till we are instructed by experience.
You take notice of the failing of your eyesight. Perhaps you have not spectacles that suit you, and it is not easy there to provide one’s self. People too, when they go to a shop for glasses, seldom give themselves time to choose with care; and if their eyes are not rightly suited, they are injured. Therefore I send you a complete set, from number one to thirteen, that you may try them at your ease; and having pitched on such as suit you best at present, reserve those of higher numbers for future use, as your eyes grow still older; and with the lower numbers, which are for younger people, you may oblige some other friends. My love to good Mrs. Bartram and your children. I am, as ever, your faithful friend and servant,
P. S.—On inquiry, I find your pension continues, and will be regularly paid, as it becomes due, to the person you empower to receive it for you.
TO CADWALLADER EVANS
London, 18 July, 1771.
I wrote to you on the 4th instant, and sent you a paper of observations on your specimens of silk, drawn up by Mr. Patterson, who is noted here in that trade, with a specimen of Italian silk as a copy for our people to imitate. But they must not be discouraged if they should not come up to the lustre of it, that being the very finest, and from a particular district in Italy, none other being equal to it from any other district or any other country.
The European silk I understand is all yellow, and most of the India silk. What comes from China is white. In Ogilby’s account of that country, I find that, in the province of Chekiang, “they prune their mulberry-trees once a year, as we do our vines in Europe, and suffer them not to grow up to high trees, because through long experience they have learned that the leaves of the smallest and youngest trees make the best silk, and know thereby how to distinguish the first spinning of the threads from the second, viz.: the first is that which comes from the young leaves, that are gathered in March, with which they feed their silkworms; and the second is of the old summer leaves. And it is only the change of food, as to the young and old leaves, which makes the difference in the silk. The prices of the first and second spinning differ among the Chineses. The best silk is that of March, the coarsest of June, yet both in one year.” I have copied this passage to show that in Chekiang they keep the mulberry-trees low; but I suppose the reason to be the greater facility of gathering the leaves. It appears, too, by this passage, that they raise two crops a year in that province, which may account for the great plenty of silk there. But perhaps this would not answer with us, since it is not practised in Italy, though it might be tried. Chekiang is from twenty-seven to thirty-one degrees of north latitude. Duhalde has a good deal on the Chinese management of the silk business.
Dr. Pullein is an acquaintance of mine. I will forward any letters you may send him. He lives in Ireland, but often comes to London.
As you did not write to Dr. Fothergill, I communicated to him what you wrote in favor of Mr. Parke, who is to wait on him to-morrow. I shall be glad to render the young man any service here.
We had a cold, backward spring here, and it is since the solstice that we have had what may be called a warm day. But the country now looks well with the prospect of great plenty. It is, however, the general opinion that Britain will not for some years export much corn, great part of the arable land being now enclosed and turned to grass, to nourish the immense number of horses raised for exportation, there being a rage in France and other parts of Europe for English horses, that seems increasing every year.
I hope our friend Galloway will not decline the public service in the Assembly with his private business. Both may be too much for his health; but the first alone will be little more than an amusement. And I do not see that he can be spared from that station, without great detriment to our affairs and to the general welfare of America. I am, with sincere esteem, &c.,
P. S.—The enclosed notes were given me by Mr. Small, a leading member of the Society of Arts, with a desire that I would send them over to some member of your Philosophical Society; supposing the herbs may be of some use.
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 14 August, 1771.
My Dear Child:—
I am glad to hear of all your welfares, and that the pictures were safe arrived. You do not tell me who mounted the great one, nor where you have it hung up. Let me know whether Dr. Bond likes the new one better than the old one; if so, the old one is to be returned hither to Mr. Wilson the painter. You may keep the frame, as it may be wanted for some other picture there. I wrote to you a letter the beginning of last month, which was to go by Captain Falconer, and have since been in the country. I am just returned to town, and find him still here, and the letters not gone. He goes, however, next Saturday.
I had written to many of my friends by him. I spent three weeks in Hampshire, at my friend, the Bishop of St. Asaph’s. The Bishop’s lady knows what children and grandchildren I have and their ages; so, when I was to come away on Monday, the 12th, in the morning, she insisted on my staying that one day longer, that we might together keep my grandson’s birthday. At dinner, among other nice things, we had a floating island, which they always particularly have on the birthdays of any of their own six children, who were all but one at table, where there was also a clergyman’s widow, now above one hundred years old. The chief toast of the day was Master Benjamin Bache, which the venerable old lady began in a bumper of mountain. The Bishop’s lady politely added, “and that he may be as good a man as his grandfather.” I said I hoped he would be much better. The Bishop, still more complaisant than his lady, said: “We will compound the matter, and be contented if he should not prove quite so good.” This chitchat is to yourself only, in return for some of yours about your grandson, and must only be read to Sally, and not spoken of to anybody else; for you know how people add and alter silly stories that they hear, and make them appear ten times more silly.
Just while I am writing, the post brings me the inclosed from the good Bishop, with some letters of recommendation for Ireland, to see which country I am to set out next week with my old friend and fellow traveller, Counsellor Jackson. We expect to be absent a month or six weeks. The Bishop’s youngest daughter, mentioned in his letter, is about thirteen years of age, and came up with me in the postchaise to go to school.
Captain Osborn is not yet arrived here, but is every day expected. I hope he will come before I set out, that I may hear from you by him. I desire you will push the inquiry after the Lancaster Dutchman, and not let it sleep and be forgotten. I send you by Captain Falconer a box of looking-glasses for the closet door in the——[The remainder is lost.]
PLAN FOR BENEFITING DISTANT UNPROVIDED COUNTRIES
august 29, 1771.
The country, called in the maps New Zealand, has been discovered by the Endeavour, to be two islands, together as large as Great Britain; these islands, named Acpy-nomawée and Tovy-poennammoo, are inhabited by a brave and generous race, who are destitute of corn, fowls, and all quadrupeds, except dogs.
These circumstances being mentioned lately in a company of men of liberal sentiments, it was observed that it seemed incumbent upon such a country as this, to communicate to all others the conveniences of life which we enjoy.
Dr. Franklin, whose life has ever been directed to promote the true interest of society, said “he would with all his heart subscribe to a voyage intended to communicate in general those benefits which we enjoy, to countries destitute of them in the remote parts of the globe.” This proposition being warmly adopted by the rest of the company, Mr. Dalrymple, then present, was induced to offer to undertake the command in such an expedition.
On mature reflection, this scheme appears the most honorable to the national character of any which can be conceived, as it is grounded on the noblest principle of benevolence. Good intentions are often frustrated by letting them remain undigested; on this consideration, Mr. Dalrymple was induced to put the outlines on paper, which are now published, that by an early communication there may be a better opportunity of collecting all the hints which can conduce to execute effectually the benevolent purpose of the expedition, in case it should meet with general approbation.
On this scheme being shown to Dr. Franklin, he communicated his sentiments, by way of introduction, to the following effect:
“Britain is said to have produced originally nothing but sloes. What vast advantages have been communicated to her by the fruits, seeds, roots, herbage, animals, and arts of other countries! We are, by their means, become a wealthy and a mighty nation, abounding in all good things. Does not some duty hence arise from us towards other countries still remaining in our former state?
Britain is now the first maritime power in the world. Her ships are innumerable; capable, by their form, size, and strength, of sailing on all seas. Our seamen are equally bold, skilful, and hardy; dexterous in exploring the remotest regions, and ready to engage in voyages to unknown countries, though attended with the greatest dangers. The inhabitants of those countries, our fellow-men, have canoes only; not knowing iron, they cannot build ships; they have little astronomy, and no knowledge of the compass to guide them; they cannot therefore come to us, or obtain any of our advantages. From these circumstances, does not some duty seem to arise from us to them? Does not Providence, by these distinguishing favors, seem to call on us to do something ourselves for the common interests of humanity?
Those who think it their duty to ask bread and other blessings daily from Heaven, would they not think it equally a duty to communicate of those blessings when they have received them, and show their gratitude to their Benefactor by the only means in their power, promoting the happiness of his other children?
Ceres is said to have made a journey through many countries to teach the use of corn and the art of raising it. For this single benefit the grateful nations deified her. How much more may Englishmen deserve such honor, by communicating the knowledge and use, not of corn only, but of all the other enjoyments the earth can produce, and which they are now in possession of. Communiter bona profundere, Deûm est.
Many voyages have been undertaken with views of profit or of plunder, or to gratify resentment; to procure some advantage to ourselves, or do some mischief to others. But a voyage in now proposed to visit a distant people on the other side the globe; not to cheat them, not to rob them, not to seize their lands, or enslave their persons; but merely to do them good, and make them, as far as in our power lies, to live as comfortably as ourselves.
It seems a laudable wish that all the nations of the earth were connected by a knowledge of each other and a mutual exchange of benefits; but a commercial nation particularly should wish for a general civilization of mankind, since trade is always carried on to much greater extent with people who have the arts and conveniences of life, than it can be with naked savages. We may therefore hope, in this undertaking, to be of some service to our country as well as to those poor people who, however distant from us, are in truth related to us, and whose interests do, in some degree, concern every one who can say, Homo sum, &c.”
Scheme of a voyage by subscription, to convey the conveniences of life, as fowls, hogs, goats, cattle, corn, iron, &c., to those remote regions which are destitute of them, and to bring from thence such productions as can be cultivated in this kingdom, to the advantage of society, in a ship under the command of Alexander Dalrymple.
The expenses of this expedition are calculated for three years; but the greatest part of the amount of wages will not be wanted till the ship returns, and a great part of the expense of provisions will be saved by what is obtained in the course of the voyage, by barter or otherwise, though it is proper to make provision for contingencies.
CONCERNING THE PROVISION MADE IN CHINA AGAINST FAMINE1
I have somewhere read that, in China, an account is yearly taken of the number of people, and the quantities of provision produced. This account is transmitted to the emperor, whose ministers can thence foresee a scarcity, likely to happen in any province, and from what province it can best be supplied in good time. To facilitate the collecting of this account, and prevent the necessity of entering houses and spending time in asking and answering questions, each house is furnished with a little board, to be hung without the door during a certain time each year; on which board are marked certain words, against which the inhabitant is to mark the number and quantity, somewhat in this manner:
All under sixteen are accounted children, and all above men and women. Any other particulars, which the government desires information of, are occasionally marked on the same boards. Thus the officers appointed to collect the accounts in each district, have only to pass before the doors, and enter into their book what they find marked on the board, without giving the least trouble to the family. There is a penalty on marking falsely; and as neighbors must know nearly the truth of each other’s account, they dare not expose themselves by a false one, to each other’s accusation. Perhaps such a regulation is scarcely practicable with us.
TO MR. WILLIAM STRAHAN
Edinburgh, 17 November, 1771.
I have been at Blair Drummond on a visit to my friend Lord Kames, thence I went to Glasgow, thence to Carron Works, viewing the Canal by the way. Extreme bad weather detained me in several places some days longer than I intended. But on Tuesday I purpose setting out on my return, and hope for the pleasure of seeing you by the Tuesday following. I thank you for your kind congratulations on the news you have heard. I like immortal friendships, but not immortal enmities; and therefore kill the latter whenever I have a good opportunity, thinking it no murder. I am but just come back hither, and write this line just to let you know I am well and again under the hospitable roof of the good Samaritan. As to news, which you seem to expect from me, I protest I know of none, and I am too dull for invention. My love to Mrs. Strahan and your children, and believe me, ever, my dear friend,
Yours most affectionately,
TO THOMAS PERCIVAL1
On my return to London I found your favor of the 16th of May (1771). I wish I could, as you desire, give you a better explanation of the phenomenon in question, since you seem not quite satisfied with your own; but I think we want more and greater variety of experiments in different circumstances to enable us to form a thoroughly satisfactory hypothesis. Not that I make the least doubt of the facts already related, as I know both Lord Charles Cavendish and Dr. Heberden to be very accurate experimenters; but I wish to know the event of the trials proposed in your six queries; and also, whether in the same place where the lower vessel receives nearly twice the quantity of water that is received by the upper, a third vessel placed at half the height will receive a quantity proportionable. I will, however, endeavour to explain to you what occurred to me when I first heard of the fact.
I suppose it will be generally allowed, on a little consideration of the subject, that scarce any drop of water was, when it began to fall from the clouds, of a magnitude equal to that it has acquired when it arrives at the earth; the same of the several pieces of hail; because they are often so large and so weighty that we cannot conceive a possibility of their being suspended in the air, and remaining at rest there, for any time, how small soever; nor do we conceive any means of forming them so large before they set out to fall. It seems, then, that each beginning drop, and particle of hail receives continual addition in its progress downwards. This may be several ways: by the union of numbers in their course, so that what was at first only descending mist becomes a shower; or by each particle, in its descent through air that contains a great quantity of dissolved water, striking against, attaching to itself, and carrying down with it such particles of that dissolved water as happen to be in its way; or attracting to itself such as do not lie directly in its course by its different state with regard either to common or electric fire; or by all these causes united.
In the first case, by the uniting of numbers, larger drops might be made, but the quantity falling in the same place would be the same at all heights; unless, as you mention, the whole should be contracted in falling, the lines described by all the drops converging, so that what set out to fall from a cloud of many thousand acres, should reach the earth in perhaps a third of that extent, of which I somewhat doubt. In the other cases we have two experiments.
1. A dry glass bottle filled with very cold water, in a warm day, will presently collect from the seemingly dry air that surrounds it a quantity of water that shall cover its surface and run down its sides; which perhaps is done by the power wherewith the cold water attracts the fluid common fire that had been united with the dissolved water in the air, and drawing the fire through the glass into itself, leaves the water on the outside.
2. An electrified body, left in a room for some time, will be more covered with dust than other bodies in the same room not electrified, which dust seems to be attracted from the circumambient air.
Now we know that the rain, even in our hottest days, comes from a very cold region. Its falling sometimes in the form of ice shows this clearly; and perhaps even the rain is snow or ice, when it first moves downward though thawed in falling; and we know that the drops of rain are often electrified. But those causes of addition to each drop of water, or piece of hail, one would think could not long continue to produce the same effect; since the air, through which the drops fall, must soon be stripped of its previously dissolved water, so as to be no longer capable of augmenting them. Indeed very heavy showers of either are never of long continuance; but moderate rains often continue so long as to puzzle this hypothesis; so that upon the whole I think, as I intimated before, that we are yet hardly ripe for making one.
TO MRS. MARY HEWSON
Preston, 25 November, 1771.
I came to this place on Saturday night, right well, and untired with a seventy miles’ journey. That day I met with your and my Dolly’s joint letter, which would have refreshed me with its kindness, if I had been ever so weary.
The account you give of a certain lady’s having entertained a new gallant, in my absence, did not surprise me; for I have been used to rivals, and scarce ever had a friend or a mistress in my whole life, that other people did not like as well as myself. And, therefore, I did not wonder, when I read in the newspapers some weeks since, that “the Duke of C.” (that general lover) “had made many visits of late to an old lady not many miles from Craven Street.” I only wondered, considering the dislike she used to have for the family, that she would receive his visits. But as I saw, soon after, that Prince Charles had left Rome, and was gone a long journey, nobody knew whither, I made no doubt but the newswriters had mistaken the person, and that it was he who had taken the opportunity of my absence to solace himself with his old friend.
I thank you for your intelligence about my godson. I believe you are sincere when you say you think him as fine a child as you wish to see. He had cut two teeth, and three, in another letter, make five; for I know you never write tautologies. If I have over-reckoned, the number will be right by this time. His being like me in so many particulars pleases me prodigiously; and I am persuaded there is another, which you have omitted, though it must have occurred to you while you were putting them down. Pray let him have every thing he likes. I think it of great consequence while the features of the countenance are forming; it gives them a pleasant air, and, that being once become natural and fixed by habit, the face is ever after the handsomer for it, and on that much of a person’s good fortune and success in life may depend. Had I been crossed as much in my infant likings and inclinations as you know I have been of late years, I should have been, I was going to say, not near so handsome, but as the vanity of that expression would offend other folks’ vanity, I change it out of regard to them and say a great deal more homely.
I rejoice that your good mother’s new regimen succeeds so well with her. We are to set out, my son and I, to-morrow for London, where I hope to be by the end of the week, and to find her and you and all yours well and happy. My love to them all. They tell me dinner is coming in, and I have yet said nothing to Dolly; but must nevertheless conclude, my dear friend. Yours ever most affectionately,
[1 ]Arthur Lee had taken the degree of doctor in medicine before he commenced the study of the law; hence he was sometimes called Dr. Lee.
[1 ]Lord Hillsborough.
[1 ]John Pownall, Secretary to the Board of Trade, and brother to Governor Pownall.
[1 ]His sister, Mrs. Jane Mecom, was married very young, and became a widow in early life. She was left in narrow circumstances, but these were repaired, as far as they could be, by the generous and constant bounty of her brother. The sickness and death of some of her children, and the ill success of others in their worldly affairs, caused her much affliction. Her deep feeling on the death of a daughter is forcibly expressed in a letter written soon afterwards. “Sorrows roll upon me like the waves of the sea. I am hardly allowed time to fetch my breath. I am broken with breach upon breach, and I have now, in the first flow of my grief, been almost ready to say, ‘What have I more?’ But God forbid that I should indulge that thought, though I have lost another child. God is sovereign, and I submit.”
[1 ]For an account of this “Ohio affair,” see vol. iv., p. 416.
[1 ]Dr. Franklin sent the papers here requested, and Mr. Rhoads wrote to him a year afterwards as follows: “The several papers and pamphlets on canals came safe to hand, and I hope they will be useful, as I find the reports of the great engineers, Smeaton and Brindley, concerning the Scotch canal, contain a great deal of instruction for us inexperienced Americans. . . . I should have made this acknowledgment by Falconer, but was then out of town with the ingenious David Rittenhouse, on an examination of the ground, in order to judge of the practicability of a canal between the Schuylkill and Susquehanna, to save our western trade from total loss. As he was taken sick on the road, and I was not very well, our discoveries are yet too imperfect to communicate to thee; except that on levelling the waters of the Schuylkill, we find that river to ascend, or the bed of it to rise, near sixty feet in less than twenty miles, and I suppose it to continue the same ascent to Reading.”—May 30th, 1772.
[1 ]The members of this committee were Thomas Cushing, James Otis, and Samuel Adams.
[1 ]It was during this visit to Twyford that Franklin began his Autobiography.
[1 ]The Assembly of Georgia, of which Mr. Jones was Speaker.
[1 ]Commissioners appointed by the government to collect the customs in America.
[1 ]These proposals were printed upon a sheet of paper, and distributed. The parts written by Dr. Franklin and Mr. Dalrymple are easily distinguished.—B. V.
[1 ]Taken from Dr. Percival’s Essays (vol. iii., p. 25), being an extract from a letter written to him by Dr. Franklin, on the subject of his Observations on the State of Population in Manchester and Other Adjacent Places.—B. V.
[1 ]This letter, without date, was first printed in the Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, vol. ii., p. 110.