« AnteriorContinuar »
will be seen, that Dr. Franklin endeavoured honour to send to Gloucester, I have just reto obtain from the dean, an open and fair com- ceived in London, where I have resided many munication of the grounds and reasons upon weeks, and am now returning to Gloucester. which the latter had relied, in making certain On inquiry I find, that I was mistaken in charges against the former; and that he did some circumstances relating to your conduet this in the fullest confidence of being able about the stamp act, though right as to suhcompletely to justify himself against them. stance. These errors shall be rectified the But Dr. Tucker most uncandidly endeavours to first opportunity. After having assured you, avoid that communication, and that discovery that I am no dealer in anonymous newspaper of the truth which it was likely to produce. paragraphs, nor have a connection with any
who are, I have the honour to be, sir, your humble servant,
J. TUCKER." " To Dean Tucker.
"LONDON, February 12, 1774. “ REVEREND SIR,—Being informed by a
“To Dean Tucker. friend, that some severe strictures on my con
“ REVEREND SIR,—I received your favour duct and character had appeared in a book of yesterday. If the substance of what you published under your respectable name, I have charged me with is right, I can have but purchased and read it. After thanking you little concern about any mistakes in the cirfor those parts of it that are so instructive on cumstances : whether they are rectified or points of great importance to the common not, will be immaterial. But knowing the interest of mankind, permit- me to complain, substance to be wrong, and believing that you that if by the description you give in pages can have no desire of continuing in an error, 180, 181, of a certain American
, whom prejudicial to any man's reputation, I am per. you say you need not name, you do, as is sup suaded you will not take it amiss, if I request posed, mean myself, nothing can be further from the truth than your assertion, that I ap- the information you have received, that I may
you to communicate to me the particulars of plied or used any interest directly or indirect- have an opportunity of examining them; and ly to be appointed one of the stamp officers I flatter myself, I shall be able to satisfy you for America. I certainly never expressed a that they are groundless. I propose this me wish of the kind to any person whatever, much thod as more decent than a public altercation, less was I, as you say, : more than ordinarily and suiting better the res due to your assiduous on this head.' I have heretofore
character. seen in the newspapers, insinuations of the same import, naming me expressly; but being be, reverend sir, your most obedient humble
“With great regard, I have the honour to without the name of the writer, I took no
B. FRANKLIN.” notice of them. I know not whether they were yours, or were only your authority for your present charge. But now that they have
“To Dr. Franklin. the weight of your name and dignified cha
“GLOUCESTER, Feb. 27. 1774. racter, I am more sensible of the injury; and I beg leave to request, that you would re
“SIR,—The request made in your last letconsider the grounds on which you have ter, is so very just and reasonable, that I shall ventured to publish an accusation, that, if be comply with it very readily. It has long aplieved, must prejudice me extremely in the peared to me, that you much exceeded the opinion of good men, especially in my own bounds of morality in the methods you purcountry, whence I was sent expressly to op- sued for the advancement of the supposed in pose the imposition of that tax. If on such terests of America. If it can be proved, that reconsideration and inquiry, you find, as I am I have unjustly suspected you, I shall acpersuaded you will, that you have been im- knowledge my error, with as much satisfacposed upon by false reports, or have too light- tion as you can have in reading my recantaly given credit to hearsays in a matter that
tion of it. As to the case more immediately concerns another's reputation, I flatter my
referred to in your letters, I was repeatedly self that your equity will induce you to do informed, that you had solicited the late Mr. me justice, by retracting that accusation.
George Grenville for a place or agency in the
From “ In confidence of this, I am with great es distribution of stamps in America. teem, reverend sir, your most obedient, and which circumstance, I myself concluded, that most humble servant,
you had made interest for it on your own ac“ B. FRANKLIN."
count: whereas, I am now informed, there are no positive proofs of your having solicited
to obtain such a place for yourself, but there “ To Dr. Franklin.
is sufficient evidence still existing of your * MONDAY, February 21, 1774. having applied for it in favour of another per“ SIR-The letter which you did me the son. If this latter should prove to be the fact,
as I am assured it will, I am willing to sup- you, and can prove to you by living evidence, pose, from several expressions in both your is a true account of the transaction in quesletters, that you will readily acknowledge, tion, which, if you compare with that you *hat the difference in this case between your- have been induced to give of it in your book, self and your friend, is very immaterial to the I am persuaded you will see a difference that general merits of the question. But if you is far from being a distinction above your should have distinctions in this case, which comprehension.' are above my comprehension, I shall content “Permit me further to remark, that your myself with observing, that your great abili- expression of there being .no positive proofs ties and happy discoveries deserve universal of my having solicited to obtain such a place regard; and that as on these accounts I esteem for myself, implies that there are, neverand respect you, so I have the honour to be, theless, some circumstantial proofs, sufficient sir, your very humble servant, _
at least to support a suspicion; the latter part, “J. TUCKER.” however, of the same sentence, which says,
there are sufficient evidence still existing,
of my having applied for it in favour of an"To Dean Tucker.
other person,' must, I apprehend, if credited, “London, Feb. 26, 1774. destroy that suspicion, and be considered as “ REVEREND SIR, -I thank you for the positive proof of the contrary; for, if I had frankness with which you communicated to interest enough with Mr. Grenville to obtain me the particulars of the information you had that place for another, is, it likely that it received, relating to my supposed application would have been refused me, had I asked it to Mr. Grenville for a place in the American for myself? stamp office. As I deny that either your for, "There is another circumstance which I mer or latter informations are true, it seems would offer to your candid consideration.incumbent on me, for your satisfaction, to re- You describe me as changing sides, and aplate all the circumstances fairly to you, that pearing at the bar of the house of commons to could possibly give rise to such mistakes. cry down the very measure I had espoused,
* Some days after the stamp act was passed, and direct the storm that was falling upon to which I had given all the opposition I could, that minister.' As this must have been after with Mr. Grenville, I received a note from my supposed solicitation of the favour for myMr. Whately, his secretary, desiring to see self or my friend, and Mr. Grenville and Mr. me the next morning. I waited upon him Whatęly were both in the house at the time, accordingly, and found with him several and both asked me questions, can it be concolony agents. He acquainted us that Mr. ceived, that offended as they must have been Grenville was desirous to make the execution with such a conduct in me, neither of them of the act as little inconvenient and disagree- should put me in mind of this my sudden able to America as possible; and therefore changing of sides, or remark it to the house, did not think of sending stamp officers from or reproach me with it, or require my reasons this country, but wished to have discreet and for it? and yet all the members then present, reputable persons appointed in each province know that not a syllable of the kind fell from from among the inhabitants, such as would either of them, or from any of their party, be acceptable to them; for as they were to “I persuade myself, that by this time you pay the tax, he thought strangers should not begin to suspect you may have been misled have the emolument. Mr. Whately there by your informers. I do not ask who they fore wished us to name for our respective are, because I do not wish to have particular colonies, informing us that Mr. Grenville motives for disliking people, who, in general, would be obliged to us for pointing out to may deserve my respect. They, too, may him honest and responsible men, and would have drawn consequences beyond the informpay great regard to our nominations. By this ation they received from others, and hearplausible and apparently candid declaration, ing the office had been given to a person of we were drawn in to nominate; and I named my nomination, might as naturally suppose for our province. Mr. Hughes, saying at the I had solicited it; as Dr. Tucker, hearing same time, that I knew not whether he would that I had solicited it, might conclude it accept of it, but if he did, I was sure he would was for myself. .execute the office faithfully. I soon after had “I desire your to believe that I take kindly, notice of his appointment. We none of us, I as I ought, your freely mentioning to me believe, foresaw or imagined that this compli- that it has long appeared to you, that I ance with the request of the minister, would much exceeded the bounds of morality in the or could have been called an application of methods I pursued for the advancement of the ours, and adduced as a proof of our approba- supposed interests of America.'. I am sensition of the act we had been opposing; other- ble there is a good deal of truth in the adage wise I think few of us would have named at that our sins and our debts are always more all-I am sure I should not. This, I assure than we take them to be ; and though I can
not at present, on examination of my continually added, further to exasperate the science, charge myself with any immorality colonies, render them desperate, and drive of that kind, it becomes me to suspect, that them into open rebellion. what has long appeared to you, may have In a paper written by Dr. Franklin, “ On some foundation. You are so good, as to add, the rise and progress of the differences bethat “if it can be proved you have unjustly tween Great Britain and her American suspected me, you shall have a satisfaction in colonies,” and supposed to have been publishacknowledging the error.' It is often a thing ed about this time (1774,) he states, that soon hard to prove that suspicions are unjust, even after the late war, it became an object with when we know what they are; and harder the British ministers to draw a revenue from when we are unacquainted with them. I America : the first attempt was by a stamp must presume, therefore, that in mentioning act. It soon appeared, that this step had not them, you had an intention of communicating been well considered; and that the rights, the grounds of them to me, if I should request the ability, the opinions, and temper of that it, which I now do, and, I assure you, with a great and growing people, had not been sufsincere desire and design of amending what ficiently attended to. They complained, that you may show me to have been wrong in the tax was unnecessary, because their asmy conduct, and to thank you for the admo- semblies had ever been ready to make volunnition.
tary grants to the crown in proportion to their “ In your writings I appear a bad man; but abilities, when duly required so to do; and if I am such, and you can thus help me to unjust, because they had no representative become in reality a good one, I shall esteem in the British parliament, but had parliaments it more than a sufficient reparation to, reve- of their own, wherein their consent was given, rend sir, your inost obedient humble servant, as it ought to be, in grants of their own “ B. FRANKLIN.”
money. (Noie by Dr. Franklin, on the rough draft of the fore. The parliament repealed the act as inexgoing letter.)
pedient, but in another asserted a right of Feb. 7, 1775. No answer has been receiv- taxing the colonies, and binding them in all ed to the above letter.
B. F. cases whatsoever! , In the following yeur
they laid duties on British manufactures exFrom the preceding correspondence, it is ported to America. On the repeal of the fully evident, that this reverend divine was stamp act, the Americans had returned to not willing to acknowledge, or even find that their wonted good humour and commerce he had substantially erred in regard to Dr. with Great Britain; but this new act for layFranklin. His prejudices indeed, appear to ing duties renewed their uneasiness. These have been so deeply rooted, and his desire to and other grievances complained of by the do justice to one whom he had wronged, ap colonies are succinctly enumerated in Dr. pears to have been so dormant; that he be- Franklin's paper abovementioned ; and the trays an evident disinclination to ascertain progressive history of the causes of the the truth, or allow it to approach him, in American discontents in general. opposition to these prejudices. With other The whole continent of America now bemore equitable dispositions, it would have gan to consider the Boston port bill, as strikbeen impossible for the dean to abstain so ing essentially at the liberty of all the colopertinaciously from giving any answer to Dr. nies; and these sentiments were strongly Franklin's last letter. The facts and ex- urged and propagated in the American news planations which it contained were so im- papers
. portant, and they were stated with so much Even those colonies which depended must candour and civility, that the dean must have upon the mother country for the consumption felt it to be highly incumbent on him, either of their productions, entered into associations to meet those facts by others equally conclu- with the others ; and nothing was to be heard sive, or to acknowledge that he had wrong- of but resolutions for the encouragement of fully accused Dr. Franklin. The former he their own manufactures, the consumption of could not do, the latter be would not. The home products, the discouragement of foreign only expedient then remaining, was the un- articles, and the retrenchment of all superworthy and evasive one of giving no an- fuities. swer!
Virginia resolved not to raise any more But to return to cbjects of more public tobacco, unless the grievances of America interest. All the expectations that Dr. Frank- were redressed. Maryland followed that exlin had then entertained from the good cha- ample : Pennsylvania, and almost all the racter and disposition of the then minister, lord other colonies, entered into resolutions in the Dartmouth, in favour of America, began to same spirit, with a view to enforce a general wither: none of the measures of his prede. redress of grievances. cessor had even been attempted to be changed, During these disputes between the two but on the contrary new ones had been con- I countries. Dr. Franklin invented an emble
matical design, intended to represent the such compulsory attempts, will contribute to supposed state of Great Britain and her colo unite and strengthen us; and, in the mean nies, should the former persist in her oppres- time, all the world will allow that our prosive measures, restraining the latter's trade, ceeding has been honourable.” and taxing their people by laws made by a Such had been the advice of Dr. Franklin ; legislature in which they were not represent- and, as he observes somewhere, “a good moed. It was engraved on a copper-plate, from tion never dies ;" so this was eventually acted which the annexed is a fac simile. Dr. upon in all its bearings, and was the first step Franklin had many of them struck off on to the union of the colonies, and their final cards, on the back of which he occasionally emancipation from Great Britain. wrote his notes. It was also printed on a The first congress assembled at Philadelhalf sheet of paper, with the explanation and phia, September 17, 1774. Their first public moral which follow it. (See p. 104.] act was a declaratory resolution, expressive
These sentiments, applied to the picture of their disposition with respect to the colony which they are annexed to, were well calcu- of Massachusetts Bay, and immediately inlated to produce reflection; they form part of tended to confirm and encourage that people the same system of political ethics, with the in their opposition to the oppressive acts of the following fragment of a sentence, which Dr. British parliament. This, and other analogous Franklin inserted in a political publication of resolutions relative to Massachusetts, being one of his friends :-“The attempts to esta- passed, the congress wrote a letter to general blish arbitrary power over so great a part Gage, governor and commander of the king's of the British empire, are to the imminent troops in that province, in which, after rehazard of our most valuable commerce, and peating the complaints formerly made by the of that national strength, security, and felicity, town of Boston, they declared the determined which depend on union and liberty;"—The resolution of the colonies to unite for the prepreservation of which, he used to say, "had servation of their common rights, in opposition been the great object and labour of his life; to the late acts of parliament, under the exethe WHOLE being such a thing as the world cution of which the unhappy people of Massabefore never saw!"
chusetts were oppressed; that the colonies In June, 1774, a general congress of depu- had appointed them the guardians of their ties from all the colonies, began to be univer- rights and liberties, and that they felt the sally looked forward to. This had a year be- deepest concern, that whilst they were purfore been suggested by Dr. Franklin, in a suing every dutiful and peaceable measure to letter to Thomas Cushing, dated July 7, 1773, procure a cordial and effectual reconciliation in which he says,—“But as the strength of between Great Britain and the colonies, his an empire depends, not only on the union of excellency should proceed in a manner that its parts, but on their readiness for united bore so hostile an appearance, and which even exertion of their common force; and as the the oppressive acts complained of did not wardiscussion of rights may seem unseasonable rant. They represented the tendency this in the commencement of actual war, and the conduct must have to irritate, and force a peodelay it might occasion be prejudicial to the ple, however well disposed to peaceable meacommon welfare; as, likewise, the refusal of sures, into hostilities, which might prevent one or a few Colonies, would not be so much the endeavours of the congress to restore a regarded if the others granted liberally, which good understanding with the parent state, and perhaps by various artifices and motives they involve them in the horrors of a civil war. might be prevailed on to do; and as this want The congress also published a DECLARAof concert would defeat the expectation of TION OF RIGHTS, to which they asserted the general redress, that otherwise might be. English colonies of North America 'were enjustly formed; perhaps it would be best and titled, by the immutable laws of nature, the fairest for the colonies, in a GENERAL CON- principles of the English constitution, and GRESS, now in peace to be assembled, (or by their several charters or compacts. means of the correspondence lately proposed,) They then proceeded to frame a petition to after a full and solemn assertion and declara- the king, a memorial to the people of Great tion of their RIGHTS, to engage firmly with Britain, an address to the colonies in general, each other, that they will never grant aids to and another to the inhabitants of the province the crown in any general war, till those rights of Quebec. are recognised by the king and both houses These several acts were drawn up with of parliament; communicating to the crown uncommon energy, address, and ability: they this their resolution. Such a step, I imagine, well deserve the attention of statesmen, and will bring the dispute to a crisis; and whether are to be found in the annals of American our demands are immediately complied with, history. or compulsory measures thought of to make The petition to his majesty contained an is rescind them, our ends will finally be ob- enumeration of the grievances cof the colonies, tained; for even the odium accompanying humbly praying redress. It was forwarded tů
Great Britain is supposed to have been placed upon the globe; but the COLONIES, (that is, her limbs) being severed from her, she is seen lifting her eyes and mangled stumps to heaven: her shield, which she is unable to wield, lies useless by her side; her lance has pierced New England: the laurel branch has fallen from the hand' of Pennsylvania : the English oak has lost its head, and stands a bare trunk, with a few withered branches, briars and thorns are on the ground beneath it; the British ships have brooms at their topmast beads, denoting their being on sale ; and BritanNia herself is seen sliding off the world, (no longer able to hold its balance,) her fragments overspread with the label, Date OBOLUM BELLISARIO.
THE MORAL. History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favour of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy ; it being a matter of no moment to the state, whether a subject grows rich and flourishing on the Thames or the Ohio, in Edinburgh or Dublin. These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favoured and the people oppressed: whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connexions, necessarily ensue, by which the whole state is weakened, and perhaps ruined for ever!