Imágenes de páginas





London, Saturday, April 16, 1768.

I have just received your favor of February 20, directed to Mr. Jackson and myself, containing instructions for our conduct relating to the application for a repeal of the duty act, to the change of government, and to the legal tender of paper money; which instructions we shall observe to the best of our abilities. Mr. Jackson has read your letter, and is now reading the messages and other papers transmitted to us, which we shall lay before the secretaries of state on Monday, and thereupon press the necessity of a change in the administration of our province. The parliament will have a short session, it is said, in May, when, if any application is made for the repeal of that act by the agents of the other colonies, we shall join them heartily, and do what we can likewise in the affair of paper money. In the mean time should an Indian war make it necessary to emit paper money with a legal tender, it may be considered how far the fourth clause in the act of the 24 Geo. II. might give countenance to your providing in that way for the emergency; that act not being altered or repealed by any later, it seems as if the parliament thought that clause not improper, though they have not expressly made the same provision for the other colonies. The mail being to go this evening, I can only add, that I am with the utmost respect for you and the assembly, gentlemen, your most obedient and most humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.





London, April 16, 1768. Since my last, a long one of March 13, nothing has been talked or thought of here, but elections. There have been amazing contests all over the kingdom, 20 or 30,000l. of a side spent in several places, and inconceivable mischief done by debauching the people and making them idle, besides the immediate actual mischief done by drunken mad mobs to houses, windows, &c. The scenes have been horrible. London was illuminated two nights running at the command of the mob for the success of Wilkes in the Middlesex election; the second night exceeded any thing of the kind ever seen here on the greatest occasions of rejoicing, as even the small cross streets, lanes, courts, and other out-of-the-way places were all in a blaze with lights, and the principal streets all night long, as the mobs went round again after two o'clock, and obliged people who had extinguished their candles to light them again. Those who refused had all their windows destroyed. damage done and the expense of candles has been computed at 50,000l. It must have been great, though probably not so much. The ferment is not yet over, for he has promised to surrender himself to the court next Wednesday, and another tumult is then expected; and what the upshot will be no one can yet foresee. It is really an extraordinary event, to see an outlaw and exile, of bad personal character, not worth a farthing, come over from France, set himself up as a candidate for the capital of the kingdom, miss his election only by being too late in his application, and immediately

[ocr errors]


carrying it for the principal county. The mob (spirited up by numbers of different ballads sung or roared in every street) requiring gentlemen and ladies of all ranks as they passed in their carriages to shout for Wilkes and liberty, marking the same words on all their coaches with chalk, and No. 45 on every door; which extends a vast way along the roads in the country. I went last week to Winchester, and observed that for fifteen miles out of town, there was scarce a door or window shutter next the road unmarked; and this continued here and there quite to Winchester, which is 64 miles.





London, May 14, 1768. I am extremely concerned at the disorders on our frontiers, and at the debility or wicked connivance of our government and magistrates, which must make property and even life more and more insecure among us, if some effectual remedy is not speedily applied. I have laid all the accounts before the ministry here. I wish I could procure more attention to them. I have urged over and over the necessity of the change we desire; but this country itself being at present in a situation very little better, weakens our argument, that a royal government would be better managed and safer to live under than that of a proprietary. Even this capital, the residence of the king, is now a daily scene of lawless riot and confusion. Mobs patrolling the streets at noon-day, some knocking all down that will not roar for Wilkes and liberty; courts of justice afraid to

give judgment against him; coal-heavers and porters pulling down the houses of coal-merchants that refuse to give them more wages; sawyers destroying saw mills; sailors unrigging all the outward-bound ships, and suffering none to sail till merchants agree to raise their pay; watermen destroying private boats, and threatening bridges; soldiers firing among the mobs and killing men, women and children : which seems only to have produced an universal sullenness, that looks like a great black cloud coming on, ready to burst in a general tempest. What the event will be, God only knows. But some punishment seems preparing for a people who are ungratefully abusing the best constitution and the best king any nation was ever blessed with; intent on nothing but luxury, licentiousness, power, places, pensions, and plunder; while the ministry, divided in their councils, with little regard for each other, worried by perpetual oppositions, in continual apprehension of changes, intent on securing popularity in case they should lose favor, have for some years past had little time or inclination to attend to our small affairs, whose remoteness makes them appear still smaller.

The bishops here are very desirous of securing the Church of England in America, and promoting its interest and enlargement by sending one of their order thither but though they have long solicited this point with government here, they have not as yet been able to obtain it. So apprehensive are ministers of engaging in any novel measure.

I hope soon to have an opportunity of conferring with you, and therefore say no more at present on this subject. I am, my dear friend, yours affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.



London, May 14, 1768.

I received your favor of March 31. It is now with the messages, &c. in the hands of the minister, so I cannot be more particular at present in answering it than to say, I should have a melancholy prospect in going home to such public confusion, if I did not leave greater confusion behind me. The newspapers

and my letter of this day to Mr. Ross will inform you of the miserable situation this country is in. While I am writing, a great mob of coal-porters fill the street, carrying a wretch of their business upon poles to be ducked, and otherwise punished at their pleasure for working at the old wages. All respect to law and government seems to be lost among the common people, who are moreover continually inflamed by seditious scribblers to trample on authority and every thing that used to keep them in order..

The parliament is now sitting, but will not continue long together, nor undertake any material business. The Court of King's Bench postponed giving sentence against Wilkes on his outlawry till the next term, intimidated as some say by his popularity, and willing to get rid of the affair for a time till it should be seen what the parliament would conclude as to his membership. The commons, at least some of them, resent that conduct, which has thrown a burthen on them it might have eased them of, by pillorying or punishing him in some infamous manner, that would have given better ground for expelling him the house. His friends complain of it as a delay of justice, say the court knew the outlawry to be defective, and that they must finally pronounce

« AnteriorContinuar »