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He told me where her house was, and would have me call soon and without further introduction, which I undertook to do; but thinking it a little awkward, I postponed it; and on the 30th, meeting him again at the feast of the society election, being the day after the parliament met, he put me in mind of my promise, and that I had not kept it, and would have me name a day when he said he would call for me and conduct me. I named the Friday following. He called accordingly: I went with him, played a few games with the lady, whom I found of very sensible conversation and pleasing behaviour, which induced me to agree most readily to an appointment for another meeting a few days afterwards. Though I had not the least apprehension that any political business could have any connection with this new acquaintance. >
On the Thursday preceding this chess party, Mr. David Barclay called on me to have some discourse concerning the meeting of merchants to petition parliament. When that was over, he spoke of the dangerous situation of American affairs, the hazard that a civil war might be brought on by the present measures, and the great merit that person would have, who could contrive some means of preventing so terrible a calamity, and bring about a reconciliation. He was then pleased to add, that he was persuaded, from my knowledge of both countries, my character and influence in one of them, and my abilities in business, no man had it so much in his power as myself. I naturally answered, that I should be very happy if I could in any degree be instrumental in so good a work, but that I saw no prospect of it; for, though I was sure the Americans were always willing and ready to agree upon any equitable terms, yet I thought an accommodation impracticable, unless both sides wished it; and by what I could judge from the proceedings of the ministry, I did not believe they had the least disposition towards it; that they rather wished to provoke the North American people into an open rebellion, which might justify a military execution, and thereby gratify a grounded malice which I conceived to exist here against the whigs and dissenters of that country. • Mr. Barclay apprehended I judged too hardly of the ministers; he was persuaded they were not all of that temper, and he fancied they would be very glad to get out of their present embarrassment on any terms, only saving the honor and dignity of government. He wished, therefore, that I would think of the matter, and he would call again and converse with me further upon it. I said I would do so, as he requested it, but I had no opinion of its answering any purpose. We parted upon this. But two days after I received a letter from him, enclosed in a note from Dr. Fothergill, both which follow.
Esteemed Friend; Youngsbury, near Ware, 3d. 12 mo. 1774.
After we parted on Thursday last, I accidentally met our mutual friend Dr. Fothergill, in my way home, and intimated to him the subject of our discourse; in consequence of which, I have received from him an invitation to a further conference on this momentous affair, and I intend to be in town to-morrow accordingly, to meet at his house between four and five o'clock; and we unite in the request of thy company. We are neither of us insensible, that the affair is of that magnitude as should almost deter private persons from meddling with it; at the same time we are respectively such well-wishers to the cause, that nothing in our power ought to be left undone, though the utmost of our efforts may be unavailable. I am thy respectful friend, David Barclay.
Dr. Franklin, Craven Street.
Dr. Fothergill presents his respects to Dr. Franklin, and hopes for the favor of his company in Harper Street to-morrow evening, to meet their mutual friend David Barclay, to confer on American affairs. As near five o'clock as may be convenient. Harper Street, 3d inst.
The time thus appointed was the evening of the day on which I was to have my second chess party with the agreeable Mrs. Howe, whom I met accordingly. After playing as long as we liked, we fell into a little chat partly on a mathematical problem,1 and partly about the new parliament then just met, when she said, "And what is to be done with this dispute between Great Britain and the colonies? I hope we are not to have a civil war." They should kiss and be friends, said I; what can they do better? Quarrelling can be of service to neither, but is ruin to both. "I have often said," replied she, " that I wished government would employ you to settle the dispute for them; I am sure nobody could do it so well. Do not you think that the thing is practicable?" Undoubtedly, Madam, if the parties are disposed to reconciliation; for the two countries have really no clashing interests to differ about. It is rather a matter of punctilio, which two or three reasonable people might settle in half an hour. I thank you for the good opinion you are
'This lady (which is a little unusual in ladies,) has a good deal of mathematical knowledge. [Note of Dr. Franklin.)
pleased to express of me; but the ministers will never think of employing me in that good work; they chuse rather to abuse me. "Aye," said she, "they have behaved shamefully to you. And indeed some of them are now ashamed of it themselves." I looked upon this as accidental conversation, thought no more of it, and went in the evening to the appointed meeting at Dr. Fothergill's, where I found Mr.* Barclay with him.
The Doctor expatiated feelingly on the mischiefs likely to ensue from the present difference, the necessity of accommodating it, and the great merit of being instrumental in so good a work; concluding with some compliments to me; that nobody understood the subject so thoroughly, and had a better head for business of the kind; that it seemed therefore a duty incumbent on me, to do every thing I could to accomplish a reconciliation; and that as he had with pleasure heard from David Barclay that I had promised to think of it, he hoped I had put pen to paper, and formed some plan for consideration, and brought it with me. I answered, that I had formed no plan; as the more I thought of the proceedings against the colonies, the more satisfied I was that there did not exist the least disposition in the ministry to an accommodation; that therefore all plans must be useless. He said, I might be mistaken; that whatever was the violence of some, he had reason, good reason, to believe others were differently disposed; and that if I would draw a plan, which we three upon considering should judge reasonable, it might be made use of, and answer some good purpose, since he believed that either himself or David Barclay could get it communicated to some of the most moderate among the ministers, who would consider it with attention; and what appeared reasonable to us, two of us being Englishmen, might appear so to them. As they both urged this with great earnestness, and when I mentioned the impropriety of my doing any thincr of the kind at the time we were in daily expectation of hearing from the congress, who undoubtedly would be explicit on the means of restoring a good understanding, they seemed impatient, alleging that it was uncertain when we should receive the result of the congress, and what it would be; that the least delay might be dangerous; that additional punishments for New England were in contemplation, and accidents might widen the breach, and make it irreparable; therefore, something preventive could not be too soon thought of and applied. I was, therefore, finally prevailed with to promise doing what they desired, and to meet them again on Tuesday evening at the same place, and bring with me something for their consideration.
Accordingly, at the time, I met with them, and produced the following paper.
"Hints For Conversation upon the Subject of Terms that might probably produce a durable Union between Britain and the Colonies.
1. "The tea destroyed to be paid for.
2. "The tea-duty act to be repealed, and all the duties that have been received upon it to be repaid into the treasuries of the several provinces from which they have been collected.
3. K The acts of navigation to be all re-enacted in the colonies.
4. "A naval officer appointed by the crown to reside in each colony, to see that those acts are observed.
5. "All the acts restraining manufactures in the colonies to be repealed.
6. "All duties arising on the acts for regulating trade with the colonies, to be for the public use of the respective colonies, and paid into their treasuries. The collectors and custom-house officers to be appointed by each governor, and not sent from England.
7. "In consideration of the Americans maintaining their own peace establishment, and the monopoly Britain is to have of their commerce, no requisition to be made from them in time of peace.
8. " No troops to enter and quarter in any colony, but with the consent of its legislature.
9. "In time of war, on requisition made by the King, with the consent of parliament, every colony shall raise money by the following rules or proportions, via If Britain, on account of the war, raises 3s. in the pound to its land tax, then the colonies to add to their last general provincial peace tax a sum equal to one fourth thereof; and if Britain on the same account pays 4s. in the pound, then the colonies to add to their said last peace tax a sum equal to half thereof, which additional tax is to be granted to his Majesty, and to be employed in raising and paying men for land or sea service, furnishing provisions, transports, or for such other purposes as the king shall require and direct. And though no colony may contribute less, each may add as much by voluntary grant as they shall think proper.
10. "Castle William to be restored to the province of the Massachusetts Bay, and no fortress built by the crown in any province, but with the consent of its legislature.
11." The late Massachusetts and Quebec acts to be repealed, and a free government granted to. Canada.
12. "All judges to be appointed during good behaviour, with equally permanent salaries, to be paid out of the province revenues by appointment of the assemblies. Or, if the judges are to be appointed during the pleasure of the crown, let the sauries be during the pleasure of the assemblies, as heretofore.
13. "Governors to be supported by the assemblies of each province.
14. "If Britain will give up its monopoly of the American commerce, then the aid above mentioned to be given by America in time of peace as well as in time of war.
15. "The extension of the act of Henry VIII. concerning treasons to the colonies, to be formally disowned by parliament.
16. "The American admiralty-courts reduced to the same powers they have in England, and the acts establishing them to be re-enacted in America.
17. "All powers of internal legislation in the colonies to be disclaimed by parliament."
In reading this paper a second time I gave my reasons at length for each article.
On the first I observed, that when the injury was done, Britain had a right to reparation, and would certainly have had it on demand, as was the case when injury was done by mobs in the time of the stamp act; or she might have a right to return an equal injury, if she rather chose to do that; but she could not have a right both to reparation and to return an equal injury, much less had she a right to return the injury ten or twenty fold, as she had done by blocking up the port of Boston. All which extra injury ought in my judgment to be repaired by Britain. That therefore if paying for the tea was agreed to by me, as an article fit to be proposed, it was merely from a desire of peace, and in compliance with their opinion expressed at our first meeting, that this was a sine qua non, that the dignity of Britain required it, and that if this were agreed to, every thing else would be easy. This reasoning was allowed to be just; but still the article was thought necessary to stand as it did.
On the 2nd, That the act should be repealed as having never answered any good purpose, as having been the cause of the present mischief, and never likely to be executed. That the act being considered as unconstitutional by the Americans, and what the parliament had no right to make, they must consider all the money extorted by it as so much wrongfully taken, and of which therefore restitution ought to be made; and the rather as it would furnish a fund out of which the payment for the tea destroyed might best be defrayed. The gentlemen were of opinion, that the first