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add respecting myself, that having experienced the goodness of that being in conducting me prosperously through a long life, I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness.'
The extracts we have now made, comprise a very small portion of the interesting matter in the first Part of this vol. The two remaining Parts are taken up
with letters relating to American politics. They throw a great deal of new light upon the subject of our disputes with Great Britain, and will be of the utmost importance to the future historian of America. We had prepared to give a brief sketch of all our dealings with England, in which Dr. Franklin took a part; but, as we have already taken up so much room with this article, we shall be obliged to postpone the undertaking to some other occasion, and content ourselves, at present, with merely touching upon one or two of those great points of the subject, which chiefly concern the life and writings of Dr. Franklin.
The origin of our troubles with England may be traced to the liberality with which the colonies contributed to the prosecution of the French war, in 1756. It gave the mother country a prodigious idea of our riches; and it was accordingly resolved, that a part of the Empire, which commanded such resources, should no longer remain at the disposal of a Provincial Legislature. The promptness, too, with which the Colonies had wrestled to outdo each other, in meeting the requisitions of the crown, was, to persons unacquainted with the loyal motive of such conduct, a pretty sure proof, that, if a little force were applied, they might be squeezed into still greater contribution. Measures were seton foot, therefore, to
* The Doctor acknowledges, in many places, that, in his early days, he was among the infidels, and we are told, in the Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors, that he once associated with one David Williams, in London, with the express design of preaching up atheistical doctrines. This Williams, it seems, was driven to the metropolis from the West of England, for having attempted the introduction of a reformed Liturgy. The rest of the story we shall give in the Biographer's own words and wonder if it be true?
• This scheme, however, he carried on for some time at Chelsea, and had Dr. Franklin for a lodger, with whom he concerted the plan of an atheistical congregation. The project so matured, was brought out with great parade at a chapel in Margaret Street, Cavendish Square; and anong others who contributed towards the support of this attempt to undermine christianity, the great Frederick of Prussia was mentioned. For some time the novelty attracted great notice, and many persons of distinction attended the lectures;' but the chapel, we are told, was pretty soon deserted.-p. 387.
deprive the Colonial Assemblies of all legislative power; and the English Parliament resolved to take away the only motive of their generosity, by assuming the right of taxing them in all cases whatsoever. The misjudgment of this policy, it was Dr. Franklin's assiduous occupation to expose and to reprobate. He talked-he wrote-he submitted to every sort of interrogatory: but, with all his knowledge of Colonial affairs, joined to the happiest faculty of setting them in a true light, he could not beat it into the heads of the English Ministry, that subjects, who so liberally opened their purses at the request of the King, would most inevitably tie
the strings, when he came with a command. He tried to make them understand, that the Colonies in America were analogous to the English possessions in Germany-both submitting to the same king-but having all their own Legislatures: And when he was told, that the Colonies had heretofore submitted to the laws imposed by the'English Government; •and that the reception of any law draws after it, by a chain which cannot be broken, the unwelcome necessity of submitting to taxation,'* he replies with another irrefragable argument, that 'precedents of acts of parliament, (Priv. Cor. p. 186.) binding the colonies, and our tacit consent to those acts are all frivolous. Shall a guardian who has imposed upon, cheated, and plundered a minor under his care, who was unable to prevent it, plead these impositions after his ward has discovered them, as precedents and authorities for continuing them. There have been precedents time out of mind for robbing on Hounslow Heath, but the highwayman who robbed there yesterday, does, nevertheless, deserve hanging. Nothing, indeed, seems to be more pointed and forcible than all the Doctor's reasonings on this subject. His Prussian Edict, for instance, displays, in a most inimitable manner, the ridiculous pretensions of Great Britain over her Colonies; and we cannot resist the temptation of extracting the account, which he gives, of its reception among the eminent characters, whom it was chiefly intended to influence,
• Lord Mansfield said of it, (he writes to his son) that it was very ABLE and very ARTFUL indeed; and would do mischief by giving here a bad impression of the measures of government, and in the colonies by encouraging them in their contumacy. It is reprinted in the Chronicle, where you will see it, but stripped of all the capitalling and italiking, that intimate the allusions and mark the emphasis of written discourses, to bring them as near as possible to those
* These are the words of Dr. Johnson; who was one of the first to disc play his loyalty, and his ignorance, on this subject. VOL. IX.
spoken: printing such a piece all in one even small character seems to me like repeating one of Whitfield's Sermons in the monotony of a school-boy. What made it the more noticed here was, that people in reading it, were, as the phrase is, taken in, till they had got half through it, and imagined it a real edict, to which mistake I suppose the King of Prussia's character must have contributed. I was down at Lord Le Despencer's when the post brought that day's papers. Mr. Whitehead was there too (Paul Whitehead, the author of Manners) who runs early through all the papers, and tells the company what he finds remarkable. He had them in another room, and we were chatting in the breakfast parlour, when he came running into us, out of breath, with the paper in his hand. Here! says he, here's news for ye! Here's the King of Prussia claiming a right to this kingdom! All stared, and I as much as any body; and he went on to read it. When he had read two or three paragraphs, a gentleman present said, Damn his impudence, I dare say, we shall hear by next post that he is upon his march with 100,000 men to back this. White. head, who is very shrewd, soon after began to smoke it, and looking in my face said, I'll be hanged if this is not some of your American jokes upon us. The reading went on and ended with abundance of laughing, and a general verdict that it was a fair hit. And the piece was cut out of the paper and preserved in my Lord's collection.'
The intimate knowledge-the local notion,' as Mr. Burke calls it--which Dr. Franklin possessed, of all the habits and principles of the Colonies, gave him peculiar advantages in exposing the miscalculations of English statesmen about their affairs; and, whenever there was occasion, he tells us, he did not fail to make the exposition, in a way* that should
* He had a great many channels of communication, we doubt not, which have never been discovered even to this day. One of them is shown to us in the Private Correspondence:—Mrs. Mehetabel Wright was altogether a very extraordinary woman. She was the niece of the celebrated John Wesley, but was born at Philadelphia, in which city her parents settled at an early period. Mrs. Wright was greatly distinguish. ed as a modeller in wax; which art she turned to a remarkable account in the American war, by coming to England, and exhibiting her performances. This enabled her to procure much intelligence of importance, which she communicated to Dr. Franklin and others, with whom she corresponded during the whole war. As soon as a general was appointed, or a squadron begun to be fitted out, the old lady found means of access to some family where she could gain information, and thus without being gall suspected, she contrived to transmit an account of the number of the troops, and the place of their destination to her political friends abroad. She at one time had frequent access to Buckingham-House; and used, it was said, to speak her sentiments very freely to their Majesties, who were amused with her originality. The great Lord Chatham honoured her with his visits, and she took his likeness which appears in Westminster Abbey. Mrs. Wright died very old in February, 1786.'
carry it to the ears of the King. Lord Hillsborough lost his Secretaryship of the Colonies chiefly by this means. He had pettishly dissolved the Provincial Assemblies, under the impression, that in this country, as in England, the cost of a re-election would be so great, that few of those, who had vexed him with petitions, would again occupy their seats; whereas, he ought to have known, that an election here might be gained without giving even a glass of cyder to an elector'--and that the measure he took, to winow the Legislatures of the disaffected, was the very one to make them still more contumacious. Boston, too, had grievously offended his Lordship; and, still misled by his English and Irish ideas, he undertook to punish her, by removing the Assembly to Cambridge. He imagined, that, as London or Dublin would be a considerable loser, if the wealthy lords and commoners were not permitted to spend their money there,--so would Boston also, when the delegates should be forbidden to assemble in the town: whereas, in point of fact, the removal of an assembly of frugal yeomén could only effect the funds of a few poor widows, who kept boarding houses. These, and a variety of other blunders, Dr. Franklin took all conve. nient occasion to point out; and his Lordship knew very well to what personage he chiefly owed his downfal.
And now we are among great folks, let me tell you a little of Lord Hillsborough. I went down to Oxford with and at the instance of Lord Le Despencer, who is on all occasions very good to me, and seems of late very desirous of my company. Mr. Todd too was there, who has some attachment to Lord H. and in a walk we were taking told me as a secret that Lord H. was much chagrined at being out of place, and could never forgive me for “ writing that pamphlet against his report about the Ohio. I assured him, says Mr. T. that I knew you did not write it; and the consequence is, that he thinks I know the contrary, and wanted to impose upon him in your favour; and so I find he is now displeased with me, and for no other cause in the world. His friend Bamber Gascoign too says that they well knew it was written by Dr. F. who was one of the most mischievous men in England.' That same day Lord H. called upon Lord Le D. whose chamber and mine were together in Queen's College. I was in the inner room shifting and heard his voice, but did not see him as he went down stairs immediately with Lord Le D. who mentioning that I was above, he returned directly, and came to me in the pleasantest manner imaginable. •Dr. F.' says he, ' I did not know till this minute that you were here, and I am come back to make you my bow. I am glad to see you at Oxford, and that you look so well, &c. In return for this extravagance I complimented him on his son's performance in the theatre, though indeed it
was but indifferent; so that account was settled. For as people say when they are angry if he strikes me, I'll strike him again, I think sometimes it may be right so say, if he flatters me, I'll fiatter him again. This is lex talionis, returning offences in kind.'
The knowledge and the zeal, with which the Doctor maintained the cause of America, made him a formidable character to all those, who had to do with Colonial affairs: And it was not long, of course, before measures began to be considered, either to drive him from England, or to keep him in the country, by stopping his mouth with a place. Accordingly, it began to be asked about--it one could take care of the American Post-offices, why should there be two? And it was very suddenly discovered, that Dr. Franklin's non-residence in the country, created great inconveniences in the establishment. Lord Sandwich began such discourse with the Duke of Grafton; who desired Mr. Cooper, Secretary of the Treasury, to mention the fact to Dr. Franklin, and to say to him, (p. 165) at the same time, that though his going to his post might remove the objection, yet if he chose rather to reside in England, his merit was such in his (Grace's) opinion, as to entitle him to something better there, and it should not be his (the Duke's) fault if he was not well provided for.' The Doctor did not refuse, “because (as he tells us) at court, if one shows an unwillingness to be obliged it is often constru. ed as a mark of mental hostility, and one makes an enemy.' Mr. Cooper wished him to leave his card at the Duke's, and to be at the Treasury the next board-day. He went, accordingly; but, as his Grace was not there, Mr. Cooper, took him to Lord North, then Chancellor of the Exchequer,-who was very obliging, and hoped they should find some way of making it worth his while to remain in England. Thence he was carried away to Mr. Cooper's country-seat at Richmond; and every thing, in short, seemed to be in train for his conversion. But, after calling on his Grace several times -finding him either absent or busy always,--he concluded that the fit was over, we believe; for we hear no more of his being o provided for,' or having any thing worth while.'
These must serve as specimens of the anecdotical information contained in the Private Correspondence. Through all the delicate and novel difficulties, which attended the progress of our rupture with Great Britain, Dr. Franklin conduct. ed himself with the skill of a practised diplomatist. He struggled, without ceasing, for peace; but it was for a peace, which should make his country a nation among nations--and he would have laid down his life, we believe, before he would