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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 sly; when two members came to me without the bar, led me in between them, and placed me honorably and commodiously.” In Scotland he had many friends, who received him with a cordial welcome and an open-handed hospitality. He spent five days with Lord Kames at Blair Drummond, near Stirling, two or three days at Glasgow, and about three weeks at Edinburgh, where he lodged with David Hume. His old acquaintances, Sir Alexander Dick, Drs. Robertson, Cullen, Black, Ferguson, Russel, and others, renewed the civilities, which they had formerly shown to him, and which attached him so strongly to Scottish manners and society. His intimacy with Dr. Robertson had before enabled him to be the means of rendering a just tribute to the merit of some of his countrymen, by obtaining for them honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh, over which that distinguished historian presided. Dr. Cooper, President Stiles, and Professor Winthrop of Harvard College, were among those upon whom this honor was conferred in consequence of his recommendation. On his way back from Scotland, at Preston in Lancashire, he met his son-in-law, Mr. Richard Bache, who, with his consent, had married his only daughter four years before in Philadelphia. Mr. Bache had just come over from America, and was on a visit to his mother and sisters, who resided at Preston. He accompanied his father-in-law to London, and sailed thence for Philadelphia a few weeks afterwards. Dr. Franklin had never seen him before, but this short acquaintance seems to have made a favorable impression. In writing to his wife, he said he had been much pleased with what he had observed of his character and deportment, as also with the condition and good repute of his relations in England. Some of Dr. Franklin's happiest days were passed in the family of Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, a man renowned for his virtues, his abilities, attainments, and steady adherence to the principles of political and civil liberty. He was one of the very small number on the bench of Bishops in the House of Lords, who opposed, from the beginning, the course pursued by the ministry in the American controversy. His writings on this subject were applauded by all parties as models of style and argument, and by the friends of liberty for their candor and independent spirit. In the course of this year, Franklin paid two visits to the “good Bishop,” as he was accustomed to call him, at Twyford in Hampshire, the place of the Bishop's summer residence; and, while there, he employed his leisure hours in writing the first part of his autobiography. His friendship for this amiable family continued without diminution through life, and was kept bright by an uninterrupted correspondence with the Bishop and his daughters, particularly Miss Georgiana Shipley, a young lady of distinguished accomplishments.
* His friend, Mr. Jackson, who was a member of the British Parliament.
Dr. Franklin meditates a Return to America. — Singular Conduct of Lord Hillsborough. — Walpole's Grant. — Hillsborough's Report against it. — Franklin's Answer. — Reasons for settling a New Colony West of the Alleganies. – Interview with Lord Hillsborough at Oxford. — Franklin draws up the Report of a Committee appointed to examine the Powder Magazines at Purfleet. — Performs New Electrical Experiments. – Controversy about Pointed and Blunt Conductors. — Lord Dartmouth succeeds Lord Hillsborough. — His Character. — Franklin's Interview with him.— Petitions from the Assembly of Massachusetts. – Franklin writes a Preface to the London Edition of the Boston Resolutions; also “Rules for reducing a Great Empire to a Small One,” and “An Edict of the King of Prussia.”— Abridges the Book of Common Prayer. — Experiments to show the Effect of Oil in smoothing Waves.—Dubourg's Translation of his Writings.
At this time he again meditated a return to Pennsylvania. Impatient of the delays attending all kinds of American business, disgusted at the manner in which the American department was administered, and weary of fruitless solicitations, he was inclined to retire from a service, which seemed to promise as little benefit to his country as satisfaction to himself. Writing to his son in January, 1772, he said; “I have of late great debates with myself whether or not I shall continue here any longer. I grow homesick, and, being now in my sixty-seventh year, I begin to apprehend some infirmity of age may attack me, and make my return impracticable. I have, also, some important affairs to settle before my death, a period I ought now to think cannot be far distant. I see here no disposition in Parliament to meddle further in colony affairs for the present, either to lay more duties or to repeal any ; and I think, though I were to return again, I may be absent from here a year without any prejudice to the business I am engaged in, though it is not probable,
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that, being once at home, I should ever again see England. I have, indeed, 'so many good, kind friends here, that I could spend the remainder of my life among them with great pleasure, if it were not for my American connexions, and the indelible affection I retain for that dear country, from which I have so long been in a state of exile.” Circumstances induced him, as on a former occasion, to suspend the execution of this design. His friends urged him to wait the result of the session of Parliament, letters and papers came from the American Assemblies requiring his attention, and at length, by the resignation of Lord Hillsborough, the agents were restored to the footing on which they had formerly stood. The conduct of this minister was as inexplicable in some things, as it was arrogant and absurd in others. “When I had been a little while returned to London,” says Dr. Franklin, “I waited on him to thank him for his civilities in Ireland, and to discourse with him on a Georgia affair. The porter told me he was not at home. I left my card, went another time, and received the same answer, though I knew he was at home, a friend of mine being with him. After intermissions of a week each, I made two more visits, and received the same answer. The last time was on a levee day, when a number of carriages were at his door. My coachman driving up, alighted, and was opening the coach door, when the porter, seeing me, came out, and surlily chid the coachman for opening the door before he had inquired whether my Lord was at home; and then, turning to me, said, “My Lord is not at home.’ I have never since been nigh him, and we have only abused one another at a distance.” This caprice was the more extraordinary, as they had not met, nor had any kind of intercourse passed between them, since his Lordship's caresses in Ireland.