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possession of the letters in question. A duel was the consequence, in which Mr. Whately was wounded. At this crisis Dr. Franklin felt himself bound to interfere. He immediately published a declaration, in which he assumed the entire responsibility of having transmitted the letters, and said, that, as they were not among Mr. Thomas Whately's papers when these passed into the hands of his brother, neither he nor Mr. Temple could have been concerned in withdrawing them. The whole tide of obloquy was now turned against Dr Franklin. He was assailed by the friends of Mr. Whately for not having prevented the duel by an earlier declaration; and he was vehemently attacked by the retainers of the ministry for the part he had acted in procuring and sending the letters. To the first charge it is enough to say, that he had no intimation of the duel till it was over. He thought himself entitled to the thanks of the parties, rather than their censure, for thus relieving them from suspicion in the eyes of the public, and removing the cause of their personal difference. As to the other charge, it was no more than he expected; and he was prepared to meet it with a clear conscience, having no private ends to serve in the transaction, and no other motive than justice to his country. Mr. Whately did not stop here. Without any previous warning or complaint, he commenced a chancery suit against Dr. Franklin. The bill contained a strange list of false specifications, all of which were denied on oath by Dr. Franklin, who affirmed at the same time, in reference to the letters, that, when they were given to him, no address appeared on them, and that he had not previously any knowledge of their existence. At this stage of the business the chancery suit seems to have been suspended, and it was finally dropped. He considered this an ungrateful, as well as a precipitate, step of Mr. Whately, to whom he had lately rendered an important service, by enabling him to secure a valuable property in Pennsylvania. Notice was at length given to Dr. Franklin, that his Majesty had referred the petition to the Privy Council, and that a meeting would be held in three days to take it into consideration at the Cockpit, where his attendance was required. He accordingly appeared there at the time appointed, January 11th, 1774, with Mr. Bollan, the agent for the Massachusetts Council. The petition was read, and Dr. Franklin was asked what he had to offer in support of it. He replied, that Mr. Bollan would speak in behalf of the petitioners, this having been agreed upon between them. Mr. Bollan began to speak, but, he was silenced by the Lords of the Council, because he was not the agent for the Assembly. It then appeared, that Hutchinson and Oliver had employed Mr. Wedderburn, the King's solicitor, as their counsel, who was then present, and ready to go on with their defence. Authenticated copies of the letters were produced, and some conversation ensued, in which Mr. Wedderburn advanced divers cavils against them, and said it would be necessary to know how the Assembly came by them, through whose hands they had passed, and to whom they were addressed. To this the Lord Chief Justice assented. When Mr. Wedderburn proceeded to speak further, Dr. Franklin interrupted him, and said he had not understood that counsel was to be employed against the petition. He did not conceive, that any point of law or right was involved, which required the arguments of lawyers, but he supposed it to be rather “a question of civil and political prudence”; in which E E *

their Lordships would decide, from the state of facts presented in the papers themselves, whether the complaints of the petitioners were well founded, and whether the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor had so far rendered themselves obnoxious to the people, as to make it for the interest of his Majesty’s service to remove them. He then requested, that counsel might likewise be heard in behalf of the Assembly. The request was granted, and three weeks were allowed for preparation. “A report now prevailed through the town,” Dr. Franklin afterwards wrote, “that I had been grossly abused by the solicitor-general, at the Council Board. But this was premature. He had only intended it, and mentioned that intention. I heard, too, from all quarters, that the ministry and all the courtiers were highly enraged against me for transmitting those letters. I was called an incendiary, and the papers were filled with invectives against me. Hints were given me, that there were some thoughts of apprehending me, seizing my papers, and sending me to Newgate. I was well informed, that a resolution was taken to deprive me of my place; it was only thought best to defer it till after the hearing; I suppose, because I was there to be so blackened, that nobody should think it injustice. Many knew, too, how the petition was to be treated; and I was told, even before the first hearing, that it was to be rejected with some epithets, the Assembly to be censured, and some honor done the governors. How this could be known, one cannot say. It might be only conjecture.” Mr. Dunning and Mr. John Lee, two eminent barristers, were the counsel employed for the Assembly. They concluded to rest the argument on the facts stated in the petition and the Assembly's other papers, showing the discontents of the people, and the expediency of removing officers, whose conduct had made them so odious, that their usefulness was at an end; and not to touch upon the objectionable parts of the letters, these being of a political nature, the falsehood of which it would be difficult to prove. Nor, indeed, would any proof be satisfactory to judges, who deemed these very offences, so much detested by the people, as meritorious acts in support of the arbitrary designs of the government. If this was not manifest from what had already passed, it was made so by the manner in which the petition was treated, when it came again to be considered by the Council. This extraordinary scene was described by Dr. Franklin, a few days after its occurrence. “Notwithstanding the intimations I had received, I could not believe that the solicitor-general would be permitted to wander from the question before their Lordships, into a new case, the accusation of another person for another matter, not cognizable before them, who could not expect to be there so accused, and therefore could not be prepared for his defence. And yet all this happened, and in all probability was preconcerted; for all the courtiers were invited, as to an entertainment, and there never was such an appearance of privy counsellors on any occasion, not less than thirty-five, besides an immense crowd of other auditors. “The hearing began by reading my letter to Lord Dartmouth, enclosing the petition, then the petition itself, the resolves, and lastly the letters, the solicitorgeneral making no objections, nor asking any of the questions he had talked of at the preceding board. Our counsel then opened the matter, upon their general plan, and acquitted themselves very handsomely; only Mr. Dunning, having a disorder on his lungs, that weakened his voice exceedingly, was not so perfectly heard as one could have wished. The solicitor-general then went into what he called a history of the province for the last ten years, and bestowed plenty of abuse upon it, mingled with encomium on the governors. But the favorite part of his discourse was levelled at your agent, who stood there the butt of his invective ribaldry for near an hour, not a single Lord adverting to the impropriety and indecency of treating a public messenger in so ignominious a manner, who was present only as the person delivering your petition, with the consideration of which no part of his conduct had any concern. If he had done a wrong, in obtaining and transmitting the letters, that was not the tribunal where he was to be accused and tried. The cause was already before the Chancellor. Not one of their Lordships checked and recalled the orator to the business before them, but, on the contrary, a very few excepted, they seemed to enjoy highly the entertainment, and frequently burst out in loud applauses. This part of his speech was thought so good, that they have since printed it, in order to defame me everywhere, and particularly to destroy my reputation on your side of the water; but the grosser parts of the abuse are omitted, appearing, I suppose, in their own eyes, too foul to be seen on paper; so that the speech, compared to what it was, is now perfectly decent. I send you one of the copies. My friends advise me to write an answer, which I purpose immediately. “The reply of Mr. Dunning concluded. Being very ill, and much incommoded by standing so long, his voice was so feeble, as to be scarce audible. What little I heard was very well said, but appeared to have little effect. “Their Lordships' Report, which I send you, is dated the same day. It contains a severe censure, as you

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