Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCCCXXV: TO THOMAS CUSHING - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772
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CCCCXXV: 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, 13 January, 1772.
I am now returned again to London from a journey of some months in Ireland and Scotland. Though my constitution, and too great confinement to business during the winter, seem to require the air and exercise of a long journey once a year, which I have now practised for more than twenty years past, yet I should not have been out so long this time, but that I was well assured the Parliament would not meet till towards the end of January, before which meeting few of the principal people would be in town, and no business of importance likely to be agitated relating to America.
I have now before me your esteemed favors. In the first you mention that the General Assembly was still held out of its ancient and only convenient seat, the Townhouse in Boston, and by the latest papers from thence I see that it was prorogued again to meet in Cambridge, which I a little wonder at, when I recollect a question asked me by Lord Hillsborough in Ireland, viz.: Whether I had heard from New England lately, since the General Court was returned to Boston? From this I concluded that orders had been transmitted by his Lordship for its removal. Perhaps such may have been sent, to be used discretionally. I think I have before mentioned to you one of the articles of impeachment brought against a bad minister of a former King: “That to work his ends he had caused the Parliament to sit in villibus et remotis partibus regni, where few people, propter defectum hospitii et victualium, could attend, thereby to force illos paucos, qui remanebunt de communitate regni, concedere regi quamvis pessima.” Lord Clarendon, too, was impeached for endeavouring to introduce arbitrary government into the colonies.
Lord Hillsborough seems, by the late instructions, to have been treading in the paths that lead to the same unhappy situation, if the Parliament here should ever again feel for the colonies. Being in Dublin, at the same time with his Lordship, I met with him accidentally at the Lord Lieutenant’s, who had happened to invite us to dine with a large company on the same day. As there was something curious in our interview, I must give you an account of it. He was surprisingly civil, and urged my fellow-travellers and me to call at his house in our intended journey northward, where we might be sure of better accommodations than the inns would afford us. He pressed us so politely that it was not easy to refuse without apparent rudeness, as we must pass through his town, Hillsborough, and by his door; and therefore, as it might afford an opportunity of saying something on American affairs, I concluded to comply with his invitation.
His Lordship went home some time before we left Dublin. We called upon him, and were detained at his house four days, during which time he entertained us with great civility, and a particular attention to me, that appeared the more extraordinary, as I knew that just before we left London he had expressed himself concerning me in very angry terms, calling me a republican, a factious, mischievous fellow, and the like.
In our conversations he first showed himself a good Irishman, blaming England for its narrowness towards that country in restraining its commerce and discouraging its woollen manufacture. When I applied his observations to America, he said he had always been of opinion that America ought not to be restrained in manufacturing any thing she could manufacture to advantage; that he supposed that, at present, she found more profit in agriculture; but, whenever she found that less profitable, or any particular manufacture more so, he had no objection to her pursuing it, and that the subjects in every part of the King’s dominion had a natural right to make the best use they could of the productions of their country. He censured Lord Chatham for affecting in his speech that the Parliament had a right or ought to restrain manufactures in the colonies; adding that, as he knew the English were apt to be jealous on that head, he avoided every thing that might inflame that jealousy; and, therefore, though the Commons had requested the crown to order the governor to send over annually accounts of such manufactures as were undertaken in the colonies, yet, as they had not ordered such accounts to be annually laid before them, he should never produce them till they were called for.
Then he gave me to understand that the bounty on silk raised in America was a child of his, and he hoped it would prove of great advantage to that country; and that he wished to know in what manner a bounty on raising wine there might be contrived, so as to operate effectually for that purpose, desiring me to turn it in my thoughts, as he should be glad of my opinion and advice. Then he informed me that Newfoundland was grown too populous to be left any longer without a regular government, but there were great difficulties in the forming such a kind of government as would be suitable to the particular circumstances of that country, which he wished me likewise to consider, and that I would favor him with my sentiments.
He seemed attentive to every thing that might make my stay in his house agreeable to me, and put his eldest son, Lord Killwarling, into his phaeton with me, to drive me a round of forty miles, that I might see the country, the seats, and manufactures, covering me with his own greatcoat, lest I should take cold. In short, he seemed extremely solicitous to impress me, and the colonies through me, with a good opinion of him. All which I could not but wonder at, knowing that he likes neither them nor me; and I thought it inexplicable, but on the supposition that he apprehended an approaching storm, and was desirous of lessening beforehand the number of enemies he had so imprudently created. But, if he takes no steps towards withdrawing the troops, repealing the duties, restoring the Castle, or recalling the offensive instructions, I shall think all the plausible behaviour I have described is meant only, by patting and stroking the horse, to make him more patient, while the reins are drawn tighter, and the spurs set deeper into his sides.
Before leaving Ireland I must mention that, being desirous of seeing the principal patriots there, I stayed till the opening of their Parliament. I found them disposed to be friends of America, in which I endeavoured to confirm them, with the expectation that our growing weight might in time be thrown into their scale, and, by joining our interests with others, a more equitable treatment from this nation might be obtained for them as well as for us. There are many brave spirits among them. The gentry are a very sensible, polite, and friendly people. Their Parliament makes a most respectable figure, with a number of very good speakers in both parties, and able men of business. And I must not omit acquainting you that, it being a standing rule to admit members of the English Parliament to sit (though they do not vote) in the House among the members, while others are only admitted into the gallery, my fellow-traveller, being an English member, was accordingly admitted as such. But I supposed I must go to the gallery, when the Speaker stood up, and acquainted the House that he understood there was in town an American gentleman of (as he was pleased to say) distinguished character and merit, a member or delegate of some of the Parliaments of that country, who was desirous of being present at the debates of the House; that there was a rule of the House for admitting members of English Parliaments, and that he supposed the House would consider the American assemblies as English parliaments; but, as this was the first instance, he had chosen not to give any order in it without receiving their directions. On the question, the House gave a loud, unanimous aye; when two members came to me without the bar——[The remainder is lost.