Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ship a Deity, to fear its displeasure, or to pray for its protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that though your reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject; and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face. But were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother. I would advise you there

fore not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification from the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?* I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours,

B. FRANKLIN.

* Montesquieu says, "La religion, même fausse, est le meilleur garant que les hommes puissent avoir de la probité des hommes." -(Esprit des Loix, chap. 25, liv. 8.)

POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE.

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY, ESQ. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

DEAR SIR,

London, June 13, 1767.

In my last, of May 20th, I mentioned my hopes that we should at length get over all obstructions to the repeal of the act restraining the legal tender of paper-money; but those hopes are now greatly lessened.

The ministry had agreed to the repeal, and the notion that had possessed them that they might make a revenue from paper-money, in appropriating the interest by parliament, was pretty well removed by my assuring them, that it was my opinion no colony would make money on those terms, and that the benefits arising to the commerce of this country in America, from a plentiful currency, would therefore be lost, and the repeal answer no end, if the assemblies were not allowed to appropriate the interest themselves: that the crown might get a share upon occasional requisitions, I made no doubt, by volun

tary appropriations of the assemblies; but they would never establish such funds as to make themselves unnecessary to government, &c. Those and other reasons that were urged, seemed to satisfy them, and we began to think all would go smoothly, and the merchants prepared their petition on which the repeal was to be founded. But in the house, when the chancellor of the exchequer had gone through his proposed American revenue, viz. by duties on glass, china ware, paper, pasteboard, colors, tea, &c. Grenville stood up, and undervalued them all as trifles; and, said he, "I'll tell the honorable gentleman of a revenue that will produce something valuable in America: make paper money for the colonies, issue it upon loan there, take the interest, and apply it as you think proper." Mr. Townsend, finding the house listened to this, and seemed to like it, stood up again, and said, "that was a proposition of his own, which he had intended to make with the rest, but it had slipt his memory, and the gentleman, who must have heard of it, now unfairly would take advantage of that slip, and make a merit to himself of a proposition that was another's; and as a proof of it, assured the house a bill was prepared for the purpose, and would be laid before them." This startled all our friends; and the merchants concluded to keep back their petition for a while, till things appeared a little clearer, lest their friends in America should blame them as having furnished foundation for an act that must have been able to the colonies. I found the rest of the ministry did not like this proceeding of the chancellor's; but as there was no going on with our scheme against his declaration; and as he daily talked of resigning, there being

no good agreement between him and the rest, and as we found the general prejudice against the colonies so strong in the house, that any thing in the shape of a favor to them all was like to meet with great opposition, whether he was out or in, I proposed to Mr. Jackson the putting our colony foremost, as we stood in a pretty good light, and asking the favor for us alone. This he agreed might be proper in case the chancellor should go out, and undertook to bring in a bill for that purpose, provided the Philadelphia merchants would petition for it; and he wished to have such petition ready to present if an opening for it should offer. Accordingly I applied to them, and prepared a draft of a petition for them to sign, a copy of which I send you enclosed. They seemed generally for the measure; but apprehending the merchants of the other colonies, who had hitherto gone hand in hand with us in all American affairs, might take umbrage if we now separated from them, it was thought right to call a meeting of the whole to consult upon this proposal. At this meeting I represented to them, as the ground of this measure, that the colonies being generally out of favor at present, any hard clause relating to papermoney in the repealing bill, will be more easily received in parliament if the bill related to all the colonies; that Pennsylvania being in some degree of favor, might possibly alone obtain a better act than the whole could do, as it might by government be thought as good policy to show favor where there had been obedience, as resentment where there had been the reverse. That a good act obtained by Pennsylvania might another year, when the resentment against the colonies should be abated, be made

« AnteriorContinuar »