Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCCCXXII: TO SAMUEL COOPER - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772
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CCCCXXII: TO SAMUEL COOPER - 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 SAMUEL COOPER
London, 13 January, 1772.
I have now before me your several favors. A long journey I took in the summer and autumn, for the establishment of my health, prevented my answering sooner the two first. I hope the state of your health also is mended by your retirement into the country, as mine has sensibly been by that journey.
You have furnished me with a very good additional argument against the crown paying its governors, namely, that the proposed independence is impolitic on the part of the crown, and tends to prejudice it is 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. Indeed, the making it a rule among ourselves, that the governor is to have his salary from our assemblies, though his public conduct should be wilfully and maliciously prejudicial to the province, has the same tendency, of which the conduct of Governor Bernard, while he was constantly and regularly paid by us, is a considerable proof; and, therefore, in my opinion, if we would have our power of granting the support operate with any weight in maintaining an influence with the governor, it should have been withheld from him, and we should withhold it in part or in the whole, according to the circumstances, as often as such a conduct appears in any governor; otherwise the power, if in such cases it is not to be used, would seem of very little importance. And since the Assembly have of late years, and under such great provocations, never attempted to abridge or withhold the salary, no reason appears why the American minister should now think it necessary or advisable for the crown to take the payment of its governor upon itself, unless it be with an intention to influence him, by withholding it when he declines executing arbitrary instructions; and then, in such cases, the people should be sure to compensate him. As to procuring here any change of this measure, I frankly own to you that I despair of it while the administration of American affairs continues in the hands of Lord Hillsborough; and while, by our paying the duties, there is a sufficient American fund out of which such salaries can be satisfied. The failure of that fund would be the most likely means of demolishing the project.
The attempt to get the Commissioners exempted from the payment of their taxes, by an instruction to the governor, is the most indiscreet thing surely, to say nothing of its injustice, that any prudent government was ever guilty of. I cannot think it will be persisted in. I hope it will never be complied with. If the supply bill is duly offered without the clause, I am persuaded it will not long be refused. The public must, however, suffer in the meantime by the want of the supply; but that will be a good foundation for an impeachment here. Your reasonings against the instruction are unanswerable, and will be of use in the discussing that business.
I am glad that Commodore Gambier behaved in so satisfactory a manner. His uncle, Mr. Mead, first commissioner of the customs, is a particular and intimate friend of mine, a man of great moderation and prudence. I knew that he gave his nephew, before he went hence, a great deal of good advice with regard to his conduct among the people of Boston, for whom he has a great esteem and regard, having formerly commanded a frigate stationed there; and he is happy to find by your letter, which I communicated to him, that his advice was so well followed. He gave also equally good advice to your indiscreet Commissioners, when they were sent out; but they had not sense enough to follow it, and therefore have been the authors of infinite mischief. I wonder at the invention of so improbable a lie, as that I should desire a place among them, who am daily urging the expediency of their dissolution. The other calumny you mention, contained in an anonymous letter to the Speaker, is so weak that I believe you do not think that I ought to take any notice of it.1
As to the agency, whether I am re-chosen or not, and whether the General Assembly is ever permitted to pay me or not, I shall nevertheless continue to exert myself in behalf of my country as long as I see a probability of my being able to do it any service. I have nothing to ask or expect of ministers. I have, thanks to God, a competency for the little time I may expect to live, and am grown too old for ambition of any kind, but that of leaving a good name behind me.
Your story of the clergymen and proclamation is a pleasant one. I can only match it with one I had from my father. I know not if it was ever printed. Charles the First ordered his proclamation, authorizing sport on a Sunday, to be read in all churches. Many clergymen complied, some refused, and others hurried it through as indistinctly as possible. But one, whose congregation expected no such thing from him, did, nevertheless, to their great surprise read it distinctly. He followed it, however, with the fourth commandment, Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day, and then said: “Brethern, I have laid before you the commandment of your King, and the commandment of your God. I leave it to yourselves to judge which of the two ought rather to be observed.” With great and sincere esteem, I remain, dear Sir, &c.,
[1 ]Dr. Cooper had written. “Mr. Cushing showed me this morning an anonymous letter, directed to him as from London in a feigned hand, representing you as a tool of Lord Hillsborough. Whether it originated on this or your side of the water is uncertain. It will make no impression to your disadvantage, but rather confirm the opinion of your importance, while it shows the baseness of its author.”—August 23, 1771. Considering the time when Mr. Cushing received this anonymous letter, and that similar sentiments were expressed nearly at the same time in a letter from London to Mr. Samuel Adams, there can be little doubt as to its origin. See the second note to a letter from Dr. Franklin to Mr. Cushing under date of July 7, 1773.