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Permit me further to remark, that your expression of there being “no positive proofs of my having solicited to obtain such a place for myself,” implies that there are nevertheless some circumstantial proofs sufficient at least to support a suspicion. The latter part however of the same sentence, which says, “there is sufficient evidence still existing of my having applied for it in favor of another person,” must, I apprehend, if credited, destroy that suspicion, and be considered as positive proof of the contrary; for, if I had interest enough with Mr. Grenville to obtain that place for another, is it likely that it would have been refused me, had I asked it for myself?
There is another circumstance, which I would offer to your candid consideration. You describe me as " changing sides, and appearing at the bar of the House of Commons to cry down the very measure I had espoused, and direct the storm that was falling upon that minister.” As this must have been after my supposed solicitation of the favor for myself or my friend, and Mr. Grenville and Mr. Whately were both in the House at the time, and both asked me questions, can it be conceived, that, offended as they must have been with such a conduct in me, neither of them should put me in mind of this my sudden changing of sides, or remark it to the House, or reproach me with it, or require my reasons for it? And yet all the members then present know, that not a syllable of the kind fell from either of them, or from any of their party.
I persuade myself by this time you begin to suspect you may have been misled by your informers. I do not ask who they are, because I do not wish to have particular motives for disliking people, who in general may deserve my respect. They too may have drawn consequences beyond the
information they received from others, and, hearing the office had been given to a person of my nomination, might as naturally suppose I had solicited it, as Dr. Tucker, hearing that I had solicited it, might“ conclude'' it was for myself.
I desire you to believe, that I take kindly, as I ought, your freely mentioning to me “that it has long appeared to you, that I much exceeded the bounds of morality in the methods I pursued for the advancement of the supposed interests of America.” I am sensible there is a good deal of truth in the adage, that our sins and our debts are always more than we take them to be; and though I cannot at present, on examination of my conscience, charge myself with any immorality of that kind, it becomes me to suspect, that what has long appeared to you may have some foundation. You are so good as to add, that, “if it can be proved you have unjustly suspected me, you shall have a satisfaction in acknowledging the error.” It is often a thing hard to prove that suspicions are unjust, even when we know what they are; and harder when we are unacquainted with them. I must presume, therefore, that in mentioning them, you had an intention of communicating the grounds of them to me if I should request it, which I now do, and I assure you, with a sincere desire and design of amending what you may show me to have been wrong in my conduct, and to thank you for the admonition. In your writings I appear a bad man; but, if I am such, and you can thus help me to become in reality a good one, I shall esteem it more than a sufficient reparation to, Reverend Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
* A memorandum was found appended to the rough draft of this letter, in the handwriting of the author, dated February 7, 1775, in which he said, “No answer has yet been received." In a future edition of his work, however, Dean Tucker omitted the offensive passages.-ED.
Franklin's Examination before the House of Commons.
The examina From the journal of the House of Commons, tion of
as given by Mr. Vaughan. Benjamin Franklin, in “February 30, 1766. Benjamin Franklin the British
and a number of other persons ordered to atHouse of Commons, re
tend the committee of the whole House, to lative to the whom it was referred to consider farther the repeal of the American several papers, which were presented to the Stamp Act, in House by Mr. Secretary Conway. 1766.*
“February 13th. Benjamin Franklin, hay
* As soon as the Stamp Act was promulgated in the colonies, a cloud of petitions from their various assemblies was showered upon Parliament for its repeal. The stamped paper was rejected as if it were poisoned; vessels were forbidden to land it; the distributors were compelled to resign their commissions; Hughes dared not show himself in the streets, nor did Franklin entirely escape. A caricature of the period represents the devil whispering in his ear: · Ben, you shall be my agent throughout my dominions." His house and family even were supposed at one time to be in peril from the mob, as appears by the following extract from a letter written him by his wife on the 22d September:
" You will see by the papers what work has happened in other places, and something has been said relative to raising a mob in this place. I was for nine days kept in a continual hurry by people to remove; and Sally was persuaded to go to Burlington (the residence of her brother, the governor) for safety; but on Monday last we had very great rejoicings on account of
ing passed through his examination, was excepted from farther attendance.
“February 24th. The resolutions of the committee were reported by the chairman, Mr. Fuller; their seventh and
the change of the ministry, and a preparation for bonfires at night, and sereral houses threatened to be pulled down.
· Cousin Davenport came and told me that more than twenty people had told him it was his duty to be with me. I said I was pleased to receive civility from any body, so he staid with me some time; towards night I said he should fetch a gun or two, as we had none. I sent to ask my brother to come and bring his gun also, so we (turned) one room into a magazine; I ordered some sort of defence up-stairs, such as I could manage myself. I said when I was advised to remove, that I was very sure you had done nothing to hurt anybody, nor had I given any offence to any person at all, nor would I be made uneasy by anybody, nor would I stir or show the least uneasiness, but if any one came to disturb me, I should show a proper resentment, and I should be very much affronted with anybody.
“Sally was gone with Miss Rose to see Captain Real's daughter, and heard the report there, and came home to be with me; but I had sent her word not to come. I was told there were eight hundred men ready to assist any one that should be molested.
“ Billy (the Governor of New Jersey) came down to ask us up to Burlington. I consented to Sally's going, but I will not stir, as I really don't think it would be right in me to stir or show the least uneasiness at all.
" It is Mr. Samuel Smith that is setting the people mad by telling them it was you that had planned the Stamp Act, and that you are endeavoring to get the Test Act brought over here."
Such was the tate of affairs in America when the subject was again brought before Parliament in the beginning of '66, the Marquis of Rockingham having displaced Mr. Grenville.
The new ministers resolved to recommend a repeal of the Stamp Act. While the question was under debate in Parliament, a motion which probably originated with the ministers, who were now striving to effect a repeal of the act, was adopted, tha Franklin be called before the House and examined respecting the state of affairs in America. This is the report of his examination.
There is nothing he ever wrote in which Franklin exhibited more of all the qualities which distinguished him among men than his replies to the questions put to him on this occasion.-ED.
last resolution setting forth, that it was their opinion that the House be moved, that leave be given to bring in a bill to repeal the Stamp Act.”
1. Q. What is your name, and place of abode? A. Franklin, of Philadelphia.
2. Q. Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes among themselves ?
A. Certainly many, and very heavy taxes.
3. Q. What are the present taxes in Pennsylvania, laid by the laws of the colony?
A. There are taxes on all estates real and personal; a poll tax; a tax on all offices, professions, trades, and businesses, according to their profits; an excise on all wine, rum, and other spirits; and a duty of ten pounds per head on all negroes imported, with some other duties.
4. Q. For what purposes are those taxes laid ?
A. For the support of the civil and military establishments of the country, and to discharge the heavy debt contracted in the last war.
5. Q. How long are those taxes to continue ?
A. Those for discharging the debt are to continue till 1772, and longer, if the debt should not be then all discharged. The others must always continue.
6. Q. Was it not expected that the debt would have been sooner discharged ?
A. It was, when the peace was made with France and Spain. But, a fresh war breaking out with the Indians, a fresh load of debt was incurred; and the taxes, of course, continued longer by a new law.
7. Q. Are not all the people very able to pay those taxes?