« ZurückWeiter »
that Lord North's motion would have been satisfactory ; and asked what could be objected to it. I replied the terms of it were that we should grant money till parliament had agreed we had given enough, without having the least share in judging of the propriety of the measure for which it was to be granted, or of our own abilities to grant; that these grants were also to be made under a threat of exercising a claimed right of taxing us at pleasure, and compelling such taxes by an armed force, if we did not give till it should be thought we had given enough; that the proposition was similar to no mode of obtaining aids that ever existed, except that of a highway-man, who presents his pistol and hat at a coach-window, demanding no specific sum, but if you will give all your money, or what he is pleased to think sufficient, he will civilly omit putting his own hand into your pockets. If not, there is his pistol. That the mode of raising contributions in an enemy's country was fairer than this, since there an explicit sum was demanded, and the people who were raising it knew what they were about, and when they should have done:—and that in short no free people could ever think of beginning to grant upon such terms. That, besides, a new dispute had now been raised, by the parliament's pretending to a power of altering our charters and established laws, which was of still more importance to us than their claim of taxation, as it set us all adrift, and left us without a privilege we could depend upon, but at their pleasure; this was a situation we could not possibly be in, and as Lord North's proposition had no relation to this matter, if the other had been such as we could have agreed to, we should still be far from a reconciliation. His lordship thought I misunderstood the proposition; on which I took it out and read it. He then waived that point, and said he should be glad to know from me what would produce a reconciliation. I said that his lordship, I imagined, had seen several proposals of mine for that purpose. He said he had; but some of my articles were such as would never be agreed to. That it was apprehended I had several instructions and powers to offer more acceptable terms, but was extremely reserved, and perhaps from a desire he did not blame, of doing better for my constituents; but my expectations might deceive me, and he did think I might be assured I should never obtain better terms than what were now offered by Lord North. That administration had a sincere desire of restoring harmony with Ame lica, and it was thought if I would co-operate with them the business would be easy. That he hoped I was above retaining resentment against them, for what nobody now approved, and for which satisfaction might be made me: that I was, as he understood, in high esteem among the Americans; that if I would bring about a reconciliation on terms suitable to the dignity of government, I might be as highly and generally esteemed here, and be honored and rewarded perhaps beyond my expectation. I replied that I thought I had given a convincing proof of my sincere desire of promoting peace, when, on being informed that all wanted for the honor of government, was to obtain payment for the tea, I offered, without any instruction to warrant my so doing, or assurance that I should be reimbursed, or my conduct approved, to engage for that payment, if the Massachusetts acts were to be repealed; an engagement in which I must have risked my whole fortune; which I thought few besides me would have done. That in truth, private resentments had no weight with me in public business; that I was not the reserved man imagined; having really no secret instructions to act upon. That I was certainly willing to do every thing that could reasonably be expected of me. But if any supposed I could prevail with my countrymen to take black for white and wrong for right, it was not knowing either them or me: they were not capable of being so imposed on, nor was I capable of attempting it. He then asked my opinion of sending over a commissioner, for the purpose mentioned in a preceding part of this account; and my answer was to the same effect. By the way, I apprehend, that to give me an opportunity of discoursing with Lord Hyde on that point, was a principal motive with Lord Howe, for urging me to make this visit. His lordship did not express his own sentiments upon it. And thus ended this conversation.
Three or four days after, I received the following note from Mrs. Howe.
Mrs. Howe's compliments to Dr. Franklin: Lord Howe begs to have the pleasure of meeting him once more before he goes, at her house; he is at present out of town, but returns on Monday, and any day or hour after that, that the Doctor will name, he will be very glad to attend him.
Grafton Street, Saturday, March 4 8$ 5.
I answered that I would do myself the honor of waiting on Lord Howe at her house the Tuesday following at 11 o'clock. We met accordingly. He began by saying, that I had been a better prophet than himself in foreseeing that my interview with Lord Hyde would be of no great use: and then said, that he hoped I would excuse the trouble he had given me, as his intentions had been good both towards me and the public: he was sorry that at present there was no appearance of things going into the train he had wished, but that possibly they might yet take a more favorable turn; and as he understood I was going soon to America, if he should chance to be sent thither on that important business, he hoped he might still expect my assistance. I assured him of my readiness at all times of co-operating with him in so good a work: and so taking my leave, and receiving his good wishes, ended the negotiation with Lord Howe. And I heard no more of that with Messrs. Fothergill and Barclay. I could only gather from some hints in their conversation, that neither of them were well pleased with the conduct of the ministers respecting these transactions. And a few days before I left London, I met them by their desire, at the Doctor's house, when they desired me to assure their friends from them, that it was now their fixed opinion, that nothing could secure the privileges of America, but a firm, sober adherence to the terms of the association made at the congress, and that the salvation of English liberty depended now on the perseverance and virtue of America.
During the whole, my time was otherwise much taken up, by friends calling continually to enquire news from America: members of both houses of parliament, to inform me what passed in the houses, and discourse with me on the debates, and on motions made or to be made; merchants of London and of the manufacturing and port towns on their petitions, the Quakers upon theirs, &c. &c. so that I had no time to take notes of almost any thing. This account is therefore chiefly from re- l collection, in which doubtless much must have been omitted, from deficiency of memory; but what there is I believe to be pretty exact; except that discoursing with so many different persons about the same time, on the same subject, I may possibly have put down some things as said by or to one person, which passed in conversation with another. A little before I left London, being at the house of lords, when a debate in which Lord Camden was to speak, and who indeed spoke admirably on American affairs, I was much disgusted, from the ministerial side, by .<jnany base reflections on American courage, religion, understanding, &c. in which I Wwere treated with the utmost contempt, as the lowest of mankind, and almost of a different species from the English of Britain; but particularly the American honesty was abused by some of the lords, who asserted that>e were all knaves, and wanted only by this dispute to avoid paying our debts; that if we had any sense of equity or justice, we should offer payment of the tea, jfce." I went home somewhat irritated and heated; and partly to retort upon this nation, on the article of equity, drew up a memorial to present to Lord Dartmouth before my departure; but consulting my friend Mr. Thomas Walpole upon it, who is a member of the house of commons, he looked at it and at me several times alternately, as if he ap. prehended me a little out of my senses. As I was in the hurry of packing up, I
requested him to take the trouble of showing it to his neighbor Lord Camden, and ask his advice upon it, which he kindly undertook to do; and returned it me with a note, which here follows the proposed memorial.
To the Right Honorable the Earl of Dartmouth, one of his Majesty's principal
Secretaries of State.
A Memorial of Benjamin Franklin, Agent of the Province of Massachusetts
Whereas an injury done, can only give the party injured a right to full reparation; or, in case that be refused, a right to return an equal injury; and whereas the blockade of Boston, now continued nine months, hath every week of its continuance done damage to that town, equal to what was suffered there by the India company; it follows that such exceeding damage is an injury done by this government for which reparation ought to be made. And whereas reparation of injuries ought always (agreeably to the custom of all nations, savage as well as civilized) to be first required, before satisfaction is taken by a return of damage to the aggressors; which was not done by Great Britain in the instance above mentioned; I the underwritten, do therefore, as their agent, in the behalf of my country and the said town of Boston, protest against the continuance of the said blockade: and I do hereby solemnly demand satisfaction for the accumulated injury done them, beyond the value of the India company's tea destroyed. And whereas the conquest of the Gulph of St. Lawrence, the coasts of Labrador and Nova Scotia, and the fisheries possessed by the French there and on the banks of Newfoundland, so far as they were more extended than at present, was made by the jointforces of Britain and the colonies, the latter having nearly an equal number of men in that service with the former; it follows that the colonies have an equitable and just right to participate in the advantage of those Fisheries. I do therefore in the behalf of the colony of the Massachusetts Bay, protest against the act now under consideration in parliament, for depriving that province, with others, of that fishery (on pretence of their refusing to purchase British commodities) as an act highly unjust and injurious: And I give notice, that satisfaction will probably one day be demanded for all the injury that may be done and suffered in the execution of such act. And that the injustice of the proceeding is likely to give such umbrage to all the colonies, that in no future war, wherein other conquests may be meditated, either a man or a shilling will be obtained from any of them to aid such conquests, till full satisfaction be made as
To Dr. Franklin.
I return you the memorial which it is thought might be
attended with dangerous consequences to your person, and contribute to exasperate
I heartily wish you a prosperous voyage, a long health, and am, with the since.
rest regard, your most faithful and obedient servant,
Thomas Walpole. Lincoln's Inn Fields, 16 th March, 1775.
Mr. Walpole called at my house the next day, and hearing I was gone to the house of lords, came there to me, and repeated more fully what was in his note; adding, that it was thought my having no instructions directing me to deliver such a protest, would make it appear still more unjustifiable, and be deemed a national affront; I had no desire to make matters worse, and, being grown cooler, took the advice so kindly given me.
The evening before I left London, I received a note from Dr. Fothergill, with some letters to his friends in Philadelphia. In that note he desires me to get those friends, "and two or three more together, and inform them, that whatever specious pretences are offered, they are all hollow; and that to get a larger field on which to fatten a herd of worthless parasites, is all that is regarded. Perhaps it may be proper to acquaint them with David Barclay's and our united endeavors, and the effects. They will stun at least, if not convince, the most worthy, that nothing very favorable is intended, if more unfavorable articles cannot be obtained." The Doetor in the course of his daily visits among the great, in the practice of his profession, had full opportunity of being acquainted with their sentiments, the conversation every where turning upon the subject of America.
Here unfortunately Dr. Franklin's interesting narrative closes, and the Editor is forced to resume.
Vol. I. 2 N