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- CHAPTER IX.
The PRUSSIAN EDICT, published by Dr Franklin, and the emblem of Bri. * tain's ruin. - Leaves London.-Hostilities already commenced' on bis . arrival.-Engagement at Lexington and Concord.-Congress resolves to
petition the king finally.-His letter to Mr Strahan.--Congress prepares to assert the Independence of America.- Appointment of Washington.
Franklin opens a correspondence with Europe, on the subject of American :: Independence.-Publication of Common Sense.-Declaration of Independs
ence of the thirteen United States.- Arrival of lord Howe in America. Franklin's negotiation.-Franklin and Congress.
The cause of America was not a little aided just before this time, and the British cabinet perplexed and mortified, by the following jeu d'esprit of Franklin's, which some readers for a short time knew not whether to consider real or jocular, and which first appeared in the British Advertiser under the title of
: “A PRUSSIAN Edict. ** We have long wondered here at the supineness of the English nation, under the Prussian impositions upon its trade entering our port. We did not till 'lately know the claims, ancient and modern, that hang over our nation, and therefore could not suspect that It might submit to those impositions from a sense of duty, or from principles of equity. The following edict, just made public, may, if serious, throw some light upon this matter:
66. Frederick, by the grace of God, king of Prussia, &c. &c. &c. to all present and to come, health. The peace now enjoyed throughout our dominions, having afforded us leisure to apply ourselves to the regulation of commerce, the improvement of our finances, and at the same time the easing our domestic subjects in their taxes; for these causes, and other good considerations us thereunto moving, we hereby make known, that, after deliberating these affairs in our council ; present, our dear brothers, and other great officers of the state,
members of the same; we, of our certain knowledge, full power, and authority royal, have made and issued this present edict, viz.,
"Whereas it is well known to all the world, that the first German settlements made in the island of Britain, were by colonies of people, subjects to our renowned ducal ancestors, and drawn from their dominions, under the conduct of Hengist, Horsa, Hella, Uffa, Cerdicus, Ida, and others; and that the said colonies have flourished under the protection of our august house, for ages past, have never been emancipated therefrom, and yet have hitherto yielded little profit to the same: and whereas we ourself have in the last war fought for, and defended the said colonies against the power of France, and thereby enabled them to make conquests from the said power in Ames rica, for which we have not yet received adequate: compensation: and whereas it is just and expedient that a revenue should be raised from the said colonies in Britain towards our indemnification'; and that those who are descendants of our ancient subjects, and thence still owe us due obedience, should contribute to the replenishing of our royal coffers (as they must have done, had their ancestors remained in the terri tories now to us appertaining): we do therefore hereby ordain and command, that from and after the dates of these presents, there shall be levied and paid to our officers of the customs, on all goods, wares, and mera chandise, and on all grain and other produce of the earth, exported from the said island of Britain, and on all goods of whatever kind imported into the same, a duty of four and a half per cent ad valorem, for the use of us and our successors. And that the said duty may more effectually be collected, we do hereby ordain, that all ships or vessels, bound from Great Britain to any other part of the world, or from any other part of the world to Great Britain, shall in their respective voyages touch at our port of Köningsberg, there to be unladen, searched, and charged with the said duties.
" • And whereas there hath been from time to time discovered in the said island of Great Britain, by our colonists there, many minés or beds of iron-stone; and sundry subjects of our ancient dominions, skilful in converting the said stone into metal, have in time past transported themselves thither, carrying with them and communicating that art; and the inliabitants of the said island, presuming that they had a natural right to make the best use they could of the natural productions of their country for their own benefit, have not only built furnaces for smelting the said stone ito iron, but have erected plating forges, slitting mills, and steel-furnaces, for the more convenient manufacturing of the same, thereby endangering a diminution of the said manufacture in our ancient dominions; we do therefore hereby further ordain that from and after the date hereof, no mill or other engine for slitting or rolling of iron, or any plating forge to work with a tilt-hammer, any furnace for making Bteel, shall be erected or continued in the said island of Great Britain: and the lordly tenant of every county in the said island is hereby commanded, on information of any such erection within his county, to order, and by force to cause the same to be abated and destroyed, as he shall answer the neglect thereof to us at his peril. But we are nevertheless graciously pleased to permit the inhabitants of the said island to transport their iron into Prussia, there to be manufactured, and to them returned, they paying our Prussian subjects for the workmanship, with all the costs of commission, freight, and risk, coming and returning: any thing herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding.
*6 • We do not, however, think fit to extend this our indulgence to the article of wool; but meaning to encourage, not only the manufacturing of woollen cloth, but also the raising of wool in our ancient dominions, and to prevent both, as much as may be, in our said island, we do hereby absolutely forbid the transportation of wool from thence, even to the mother country, Prussia: and that those islanders may be.farther and
more effectually restrained in making any advantage of their own wool, in the way of manufacture, we command, that none shall be carried out of one country into another; nor shall any worsted, hay, or woollenyarn, cloth, says, bays, kerseys, serges, frizes, druggets, cloth-serges, shalloons, or any other drapery, stuffs, or woollen manufactures whatsoever, made up or mixed with wool in any of the said counties, be carried into any other country, or be water-borne even across the smallest river or creek, on penalty of forfeiture of the same, together with the boats, carriages, horses, &c., that shall be employed in removing them. Novertheless our loving subjects there are hereby permitted (if they think proper) to use all their wool as manure, for the improvement of their lands.
6. And whereas the art and mystery of making hats hath arrived at great perfection in Prussia, and the making of hats by our remoter subjects ought to be as much as possible restrained : and forasmuch as the islanders before mentioned, being in possession of wool, beaver, and other furs, have presumptuously conceived they have a right to make some advantage thereof, by manufacturing the same into hats, to the prejudice of our domestic manufacture; we do therefore hereby strictly command and ordain, that no hats or felts whatsoever, dyed or undyed, finished or unfinished, shall be loaden, or put into or upon any vessel, cart, carriage, or horse, to be transported or conveyed out of one county of the said island into another county, or to any place whatsoever, by any person or persons whatsoever, on pain of forfeiting the same, with a penalty of five hundred pounds ster*ling for every offence. Nor shall any hat-makers in any of the said counties employ more than two apprentices, on penalty of five pounds sterling per month, we intending hereby that such hat-makers being so restrained, both in the production and sale of their commodity, may find no advantage in continuing their business. But lest the said islanders should suffer inconveniency by the want of hats, we are farther graciously pleased to permit them to send their beaver furs to Prussia; and we also permit hats made thereof to be exported from Prussia to Britain: the people thus favoured, to pay all costs and charges of manufacturing, interest, commission to our merchants, insurance and freight, going and returning, .as in the case of iron. • ". And lastly, being willing farther to favour our said colonies in Britain, we do hereby also ordain and command, that all the thieves, highway and street robbers, house breakers, forgerers, murderers, s-d-tes, and villains of every denomination, who have forfeited their lives to the law of Prussia, whom we, in our great clemency, do not think fit here to hang, shall be emptied out of our jails, into the said island of Great Britain, for the better peopling of that country.. · "We flatter ourselves, that these our royal regulations and command will be thought just and reasonable by our much favoured colonists in England; the said regulations being copied from their statutes of 10 & 11 William III. c. 10., 5 George II. c. 22., 23 George II. c. 29., 4 George I. c. 11., and from other equitable laws made by their parliaments, or from instructions given by their princes, or from resolutions of both houses, entered into for the good government of their own colonies in Ireland and America. .“And all persons in the said island are hereby cautioned not to oppose in anywise the execution of this our edict, or any part thereof, such opposition being high treason, of which all who are impeached shall be transported in future from Britain to Prussia, there to be tried and executed according to the Prussian law.