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in his letters. Mrs. Stevenson had an only daughter, Miss Mary Stevenson, an accomplished young lady, whose fondness for study and acuteness of mind early attracted his notice; and some of his best papers on philosophical subjects were written for her instruction, or in answer to her inquiries. Mr. Strahan, afterwards the King's printer and a member of Parliament, who acquired wealth by his occupation and eminence by his talents, had long been one of Franklin's correspondents, and he now extended to him the welcome and the substantial kindnesses of a cordial friendship. In London he also met Governor Shirley, with whom he had been much acquainted in America, and who had consulted him confidentially on several important subjects relating to the administration of the colonies.” They visited each other frequently. But his chief associates were men of science, who sought his society, and whose conversation he relished; for, although he had recently been much devoted to politics, yet his taste for philosophical investigations, originally strong and confirmed by success, had not abated; and he seemed at all times to derive from it more real satisfaction than from the bustle of political life, into which he had first been drawn rather by circumstances and accident than by inclination. His arrival in England was likewise soon known on the continent, and he received congratulatory letters from some of the most distinguished men of the time, expressing admiration of his scientific achievements and respect for his character.f
* See the Letters to Governor Shirley, Vol. III. p. 56.
+ Beccaria, the celebrated Italian electrician, who had corresponded with him before he left America, sent to him a long communication. containing an account of some new experiments in electricity illustrative of the Franklinian hypothesis. It begins as follows. “Sospitem
The business of his mission, however, was his first and principal care. But this was retarded by a severe illness, which confined him to his rooms for nearly eight weeks. A violent cold terminated in an intermitting fever, during which he suffered extremely from pain in the head, accompanied with occasional delirium. By cupping, a copious use of Peruvian bark, and other remedies, Dr. Fothergill succeeded in removing the disease, but not till it had reduced his patient to a very low and feeble state. As soon as his strength enabled him to go abroad, he applied himself again to his public duties.
His instructions required, that, as a preliminary step, he should see the Proprietaries, present to them the remonstrance with which he had been furnished by the Assembly, and endeavour to bring about an amicable arrangement, which might render further proceedings unnecessary. He accordingly had an interview with them, and explained the tenor of his instructions, the embarrassments under which public affairs labored in Pennsylvania, and the claims and wishes of the Assembly.
The Proprietaries were not in a humor to listen to these representations, or to yield any thing to the complaints of the people. They insisted on their right to instruct the governors according to their own interpretation of the charters, defended what had been done, and complained of the encroachments of the Assembly upon their prerogatives. They agreed, however, to consider the matter, and to give an answer to the remonstrance. From the temper in which they discussed the subject, Franklin foresaw that it would be impossible to bring them to any change of sentiments or of conduct on the points at issue, and that he should be obliged in the end to appeal to the higher tribunals. The Proprietaries at this time were Thomas and Richard Penn, sons of William Penn, the founder of the colony. He soon discovered, that many obstacles were to be encountered even in preparing the way for his ulterior proceedings. In the first place, he had to meet and baffle the opposition of the Proprietaries, who were resolved to resist his efforts step by step with all the means and influence they could command. Again, the great officers of the crown, by whom the cause must be decided, were naturally inclined to favor the royal prerogative, and looked with a jealous eye upon every movement of the people, which aimed at liberty or privilege. And, lastly, a prejudice existed against the Pennsylvanians, on account of their apparent backwardness in supporting the war, and the reluctance of the Quakers to bear arms, or even to aid any scheme for military defence. This prejudice had been raised and kept alive by the Proprietaries and their agents, who represented the opposition to the governors as originating in the obstinacy and factious spirit of the people, equally hostile to the proprietary rights and the King's prerogative. The newspapers and other journals teemed with falsehoods of this kind, censuring alike the conduct and the motives of the Pennsylvanians. Franklin felt bound, not more by a regard for truth, than by a
ex America Londinum te appulisse gaudeo, vir preclarissime.” And at the conclusion he says; “Tu vero cura, ut valeas; servari enim te decet quam diutissime utilissime scientia perficiendae amplificandaeque, quam certissimam instituisti.” Musschenbroek, at the request of a mutual friend, drew up for him a list of the principal writers on electricity, and forwarded it with a letter in which he said; “Votis tuis lubenter annui; ita addisces quid alii in Europa praestiterunt eruditi, sed simul videbis neminem magis recondita mysteria Electricitatis detexisse Franklino.”—See Vol. V. p. 505; Vol. VII. p. 186.
sense of justice to his countrymen, and in return for the confidence they had placed in him, to counteract these artifices, and disabuse the public mind of the mischievous errors into which it had been deceived. Indeed, there was little hope of success to his further endeavours, till this should be done. An opportunity soon presented itself. A piece of intelligence was published, said to be the substance of letters from Philadelphia, in which the members of the Assembly were accused of wasting their time in idle disputes with the governor, whilst the frontiers were ravaged by the Indians, and of refusing to raise money for the public service, except by laws clogged with such conditions that the governor could not assent to them. The obstinacy of the Quakers in the Assembly was assigned as the principal cause of the dissensions. These charges were refuted in a letter, which was published in the name of Franklin's son, and addressed to the printer of the paper in which the pretended intelligence had first appeared. And here he had a proof, that neither justice, nor a fair hearing, was to be obtained on easy terms. He was obliged to pay the printer for allowing the article a place in his paper, although this same paper was the vehicle in which the false reports had originally been circulated. In this letter the actual condition of the province was briefly stated and explained. It was shown, that the frontiers were no more exposed than those of other colonies; that the inhabitants had arms in their hands and used them ; that the Quakers made but a small part of the whole population, and, though they had conscientious scruples as to bearing arms, yet they had never, as a body, opposed the measures for military defence; on the contrary, some of them had withdrawn from the Assembly because their re
ligious principles would not suffer them to join in such measures, and others had refused to be elected for the same reason ; that, so far from neglecting to provide the means of defence, the Assembly had already granted more than one hundred thousand pounds for the King's use since the beginning of the war, besides the heavy contingent expenses of government; that numerous forts had been built, supplied, and garrisoned, soldiers raised, armed, and accoutred, a ship of war fitted out and sent to cruise on the coast, an expedition against the Indians undertaken and successfully executed ; and that, in short, the arbitrary and unjust instructions from the Proprietaries to the governors were the real and only sources of the troubles in Pennsylvania, the only obstacles to the harmony and energetic action of the government, to the prosperity and happiness of the people. This paper was skilfully drawn up, and with such fairness and so clear a statement of facts, that it could not fail to awaken the attention of thinking men, and to diminish the effect of the illiberal aspersions, which had called it forth. No attempt was made to refute it. The Proprietaries, however, remained firm, proceeding slowly or not at all in their reply to the remonstrance, and showing no disposition to enter into a compromise by a private arrangement. Even after a year had elapsed, they had done nothing; and they gave as a reason, that they could not obtain the papers they wanted from their legal advisers. Meantime he thought it necessary to go forward with his business. The forms required, that the case should first be brought before the Board of Trade, who were to report their opinion to the Privy Council, where a final decision was to be obtained. If justice could not