« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
ditions, circumstances, and situations, for contributing their proportion to the common defence, such proportion to be raised under the authority of the general court, or general assembly of such province or colony, and disposable by parliament, and shall engage to make provisions also for the support of the civil government, and the administration of justice in such province or colony ; it will be proper, if such proposal shall be approved by his majesty in parliament, and for so long as such provisions shall be made accordingly, to forbear, in respect of such province or colony, to levy any duties, tax, or assessment, or to impose any further duty, tax, or assessment, except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce ; the net produce of the duties last mentioned to be carried to the account of such province, colony, or plantation, exclusively.”
Having at the conclusion of the month heard nothing directly or indirectly from the ministers, Dr Franklin mentioned his surprise to Mrs Howe, and wished her to request lord Howe to inform him of the reason; or if any alteration had taken place with respect to the projected commission, because in that case he must adopt other measures. Lord Howe, in consequence, requested another meeting, when Franklin mentioned to his lordship, that having, since he last had the pleasure of meeting him, heard of the death of his wife, he must return to Philadelphia ; but that in case the measures mentioned by his lordship were likely to be carried into effect, he should be disposed to wait for them a short time, otherwise he should leave England by the next ship. That by not hearing from him, and from the general tenor of lord North's motion, he thought some alteration had. occurred. To this lord Howe replied, that Dr Franklin's last paper had discouraged the idea of a reconciliation ; but above all things he wished him to see lord Hyde. • This Dr Franklin engaged to do, and accordingly
waited upon his lordship the next morning, and con-' versed with him at considerable length upon the un-, happy differences that had occurred between the two countries. . His lordship seemed astonished to find that lord North’s motion was not satisfactory, whereupon the Doctor recurred to the old topic, the injustice of levying a tax on a people not represented in parliament; it being under the threat of exercising this affirmed right that the proposed grants were to be given. He could only compare this mode of getting money to that practised by a highwayman, who holds. his pistol and hat at a coach window, and if you will give him your money freely, he will do you the honour to omit putting his hand into your pockets. He assured his lordship that the Americans would not grant a shilling on such terms. He also reminded him that another unjustifiable right had been assumed, that of altering the charters of the colonies, which the Americans would never submit to; and even if the first were given up, the breach would be as wide as ever, so long as this remained. His lordship observed, on the other hand, that many of Dr Franklin's propositions would never be agreed to; that although there was an amicable disposition in the administration toward America, better terms would never be obtained than those specified by lord North; that it was generally thought the Doctor had instructions with him to offer more favourable terms. He only hoped that he would do all he could, and co-operate with ministers in bringing about a reconciliation, and, in that case, informed him he would be honoured and rewarded beyond his expectation. After a little conversation upon the projected plan of sending a commissioner to America, they separated. .
In the commencement of March, Dr Franklin had the honour of another interview with lord Howe : the latter expressed his sorrow that there was no probability of a reconciliation; he solicited the promise of Dr Franklin's assistance in the event of his being sent to America, and thus the negotiation ended,
both with lord Howe, and also with Messrs Barclay and Fothergill, who were disappointed and displeased with the ministers, and expressed their united opinion that nothing but the perseverance of the Americans could preserve their liberties.
Some base and unprincipled reflections thrown out in the House of Lords by the ministerial side, tended not a little to exasperate Franklin's mind at this time, and to foment those divisions which already assumed a formidable aspect. Members of administration in both houses often spoke opprobriously of American courage, religion, understanding, &c. Others took up the question of American honesty, and called the colonists knaves, who had raised the dispute merely to avoid paying their just debts; and said, that if the Americans had the least sense of honour, they would offer payment for the teas. Dr Franklin, who underwent the operation of hearing this barbarous elos quence from time to time, felt so much irritated by it, as to draw up the following memorial, with a view to present it to lord Dartmouth. A Memorial of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Agent of the pro
vince of Massachusetts Bay. " Whereas an injury done can only give the party injured a right to full reparation, or, in case that be refused, a right to return an equal injury; and whereas the blockade of Boston, now continued nine monthsg bath every week of its continuance done damage to that town, equal to what was suffered there by the India company; it follows that such exceeding damage is an injury done by this government, for which re, paration ought to be made. And whereas reparation of injuries ought always (agreeably to the custom of all nations, savage as well as civilized) to be first required, before satisfaction is taken by a return of damage to the aggressors; which was not done by Great Britain, in the instance abovementioned ; I the underwritten do therefore, as their agent, in the behalf of my country and the said town of Boston, protest against the continuance of the said blockade: and I do hereby solemnly demand satisfaction for the accumulated in jury done them beyond the value of the India company's tea destroyed. And whereas the conquest of the gulf of St Lawrence, the coast of Labrador, and Nova Scotia, and the fisheries possessed by the French, there and on the banks of Newfoundland, so as they were more ex. tended than at present, was made by the joint forces of Britain and the colonies, the latter having nearly an equal number of men in that service with the former; it follows that the colonies have an equitable and just right to participate in the advantage of those fisheries. I do therefore, in the behalf of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, protest against the act now under conşideration in parliament, for depriving that province with others, of that fishery, (on pretence of their refusing to purchase British commodities as an act both highly unjust and injurious: and I give notice, that satisfaction will one day be demanded for all the injury that may be done and suffered in the execution of such an act; and that the injustice of the proceeding is likely to give such umbrage to all the colonies, that in no future war, wherein other conquests may be meditated, either a man or a shilling will be obtained from any of them to aid such conquests, till full satisfaction be made as aforesaid,
" BENJAMIN FRANKLIN." " Given in London this 16th day of March 1755."
A friend, Mr Thomas Walpole, to whose judgment this paper was committed, dissuaded him from presenting it, as having no express instruction to that effect, it might be attended with dangerous consequences to his person.
As far therefore now as American affairs were under Franklin's guidance, they were approaching a crisis. Ministers were treating him with respect and with contempt alternately. He was thought too much of an American to be supposed to have English interests at heart, while the more ardent republican
leaders would have thought him too much of an Englishman in his concessions, to be a true American. On the whole there is no part of the life of this great man, in which he shines with greater lustre than'at this period. The whole weight of his public character and well-earned fame, he threw into these efforts for the public peace. The associate of Howe, and the friend and counsellor of Chatham, it is mournful to see him retiring from amongst the constellation of England's great men, to rise in another hemisphere amidst her rivals and her foes. But the ministry acted towards him with as much private meanness, as with public bad faith. While they trifled with Franklin as a public man, he was harassed in the court of Chancery by those whom he had good reason to suppose their agents, (on the subject of Hutchinson's letters,) until disgusted with his situation, he resolved to seek his native shores.
The evening before he left London, he had a pleasing proof however of the honesty of his Quaker friends ; Dr Fothergill sent him a note enclosing letters for Philadelphia, in which he spoke out plainly respecting what he saw of ministers, asserting that whatever specious pretences were made, “ they are all hollow, and that to get a larger field, in which to fatten a herd of worthless parasites, was all that was regarded." “. Perhaps,” he adds, " it may be proper to acquaint them (their friends in Philadelphia) with David Barclay's and our united endeavours, and the effects. They will stun at least, if not convince the most worthy, that nothing very favourable is intended, if more une favourable articles cannot be obtained.”