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the province of Massachusetts, the governor and lieutenant-governor were acquitted. Mr. Wedderburn, (afterwards Lord Loughborough,) who defended the accused royal servants, in the course of his pleadings inveighed against Dr. Franklin in the severest language, as the fomenter of the disputes between the two countries. It was no protection to this venerable sage, that being the agent of Massachusetts he conceived it his duty to inform his constituents of letters written on public affairs, calculated to overturn their chartered constitution. The age, respectable character, and high literary rank of the subject of the philippic of the pert prim prater of the northern race,' (as Churchill designates Wedderburn,) turned the attention of the public on the transaction. The insult offered to one of their public agents, and especially to one who was both the idol and ornament of his country, sunk deep into the minds of the Americans.—That a faithful servant, whom they loved and almost adored, should be insulted for discharging his official duty, rankled in their hearts.”
In the APPENDIX, No.5, will be found a succinct account of this transaction, and of the indecent and unjustifiable proceedings in the privy council.
Dr. Franklin told Mr. Lee, one of his counsel, after the business was concluded, that he was indifferent to Mr. Wedderburn's speech, but that he was indeed sincerely sorry to see the lords of council beliave so indecently; manifesting, in the rudest manner, the great pleasure they received from the solicitor's speech; that dernier court, he said, before whom all the colony affairs were tried, was not likely to act in a candid and impartial manner upon any future American question. They showed, he added, that the coarsest language can be grateful to the politest ear.
The following short statement of Dr. Franklin's behavior before the privy council, from the pen of Dr. Priestley,(who was present) may not be deemed uninteresting
Extract of a letter from Dr. Priestley, dated Northumberland, United States, Nov. 10, 1802. To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
“ I shall proceed to relate some particulars respecting Dr. Franklin's behavior, when Lord Loughborough (then Mr. Wedderburn) pronounced his violent invective against him at the privy council, on his presenting the complaints of the province of Massachusetts against their governor. Some of the particulars may be thought amusing.
“On the morning of the day on which the cause was to be heard, I met Mr. Burke in ParliamentStreet, accompanied by Dr. Douglas, afterwards bishop of Carlisle; and after introducing us to each other as men of letters, he asked me whither I was going? I said I could tell him where I wished to go, He then asking me where it was, I said to the privy council, but that I was afraid I could not get admission. He then desired me to go along with him.
Accordingly I did; but when we got into the antiroom, we found it quite filled with persons as de sirous of getting admission as ourselves. Seeing this, I said we should never get through the crowd. He said, “ give me your arm;" and locking it fast in his, he soon made his way to the door of the privy council. I then said, “ Mr. Burke, you are an excellent leader:" he replied, “I wish other persons thought so too.”
After waiting a short time, the door of the privy council opened, and we entered the first, when Mr. Burke took his stand behind the first chair next to the president, and I behind that the next to his. When the business was opened, it was sufficiently evident, from the speech of Mr. Wedderburn, who was counsel for the governor, that the real object of the court was to insult Dr. Franklin. All this time he stood in a corner of the room,' not far from me, without the least apparent emotion.
* This apparent unbecoming situation of Dr. Franklin, in the back ground, as related by Dr. Priestley, having been noticed, in the first edition of these Memoirs, by an intimate and highly esteemed friend of Dr. Franklin's, (Dr. Bancroft, F.R.S.) who was present during the whole transaction, the editor received from him the following observations upon Dr. Priestley's account of the same, viz.—Dr. Frauklin did not stand“in a corner of the room." He stood close to the fire-place, on that side which was at the right hand of those who were looking toward the fire; in the front of which, though at some distance, the members of the privy council were seated at a table. I obtained a place on the opposite side of the fire-place, a little further from the fire, but Dr.
Mr. Dunning, who was the leading counsel on the part of the colony, was so hoarse, that he could
Franklin's face was directed towards me, and I had a full uninterrupted view of it and his person, during the whole time in which Mr. Wedderburn spoke. The Doctor was dressed in a full dress suit of spotted Manchester velvet, and stood conspicuously erect, without the smallest movement of any part of his body. The muscles of his face had been previously composed, so as to afford a placid tranquil expression of countenance, and he did not suffer the slightest alteration of it to appear during the continuance of the speech in wbich he was so harshly and improperly treated. In short, to quote the words which he enployed concerning bimself on another occasion, he kept his “couns, tenance as immovable as if his features had been made of wood." (See p. 261.) This was late on Saturday afternoon. I called op him in Craveu Street, at an early hour on Monday morning, and immediately after the usual salutation, he putinto my hands a letter which had been just delivered to him. It was from the postipaster-general, and informed him that the king had no further occasion for his (Dr. Franklin's) services, as deputy post-mastergeneral in America. It is a fact that he, as Dr. Priestley men, tions, signed the treaties of commerce and eventual alliance with France, in the clothes which he had worn at the Cock-pit, when the preceding transaction occurred.-It had been intended, as you may recollect, that these treaties should have been signed on the evening of Thursday the 5th of February; and when Dr. Franklin had dressed himself for the day, I observed that he wore the suit in question; which I thought the more extraordinary, as it had been laid aside for many months: this I noticed to Mr. Deane, and soon after, when a messenger came from Versailles, with a letter from Mr. Gerard the French plenipotentiary, stating that he was so unwell, from a cold, that he wished to defer coming toParis to sign the treaties, until the next evening, I said to Mr. Deane, "Let us see whether the Doctor will wear the same suit of clothes
hardly make himself heard; and Mr. Lee, who was the second, spoke but feebly in reply; so that Mr. Wedderburn had a complete triumph. At the sallies of his sarcastic wit all the members of the council, the president himself (Lord Gower) not excepted, frequently laughed outright. No person belonging to the council behaved with decent gravity except Lord North, who, coming late, took his stand behind the chair opposite to me.
When the business was over, Dr. Franklin, in going out, took me by the hand, in a manner that indicated some feeling. I soon followed him, and going through the anti-room, saw Mr. Wedderburn there surrounded with a circle of his friends and admirers. Being known to him, he stepped forward as if to speak to me; but I turned aside, and made what haste I could out of the place.
The next morning I breakfasted with the Doctor, when he said, “ He had never before been so sensible of the power of a good conscience; for that if
to-morrow; if he does I shall suspect that he is influenced by a recollection of the treatment which hereceived at the Cock-pit.” The morrow came, and the same clothes were again worn, and the treaties signed. After which these clothes were laid aside, and, so far as my knowledge extends, never worn afterwards.I once intimated to Dr. Franklin the suspicion which his wearing these clothes on that occasion had excited in my mind, when he smiled, without telling me whether it was well or ill foundedl.-I have heard him sometimes say, that he was not insensible to injuries, but that he never put himself to any trouble or inconvenience to retaliate,