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of him. He therefore let the diversion go on; and went home fully determined to make his appeal to a higher and more competent tribunal.
But cunning deals in something like plans and schemes of mischief, which Franklin did not suspect from the talents of his abusers; and if he had, he could not have provided against them. On the first rumor of a petition from Boston, against these good friends of administration, Hutchinson and Oliver, they determined on the whole plan. When the matter came to a hearing, it was to be converted into abuse of Dr. Franklin, who was to be dismissed from his place the next morning, loaded with all the ignominy and disgrace they could lay upon him. But what was to be done with his understanding and talents ?-- This man, though in years, and of a philosophical and peaceable turn, might not take all these injuries in good part; and Wilkes had given an instance that the people will favor the oppressed. Yes, and Wilkes had taught administration,-not virtue—that would have been a miracle, --but caution and prudence in committing violence. Wedderburn's talents would serve on this occasion; and he ad. vised them to a suit in chancery. Whately, banker to the treasury, was accordingly ordered to file a bill in chancery against Dr. Franklin, for taking away his brother's letters. This it seems effectually tied up the doctor's hands, and was undoubtedly done with that sole view. For a man cannot even defend his own reputation, when the question on wbich it depends is what they call, pendant before my lord chancellor. The treasury is rich enough to keep this matter pendant a long while; and an offender against administration must not expect to disobey the rules of chancery, unnoticed by the lord chancellor. This fact, at the same tiine that it exhibited the great wisdom and equity of administration, accounted to the public for what seemed very strange: “ That while a man of Dr. Franklin's character and abilities was daily and maliciously traduced, he had not published a line in his own de
fence." The essays which appeared for him in the public panot pers, were without his participation, and without his know
lege. He had however written a full and clear account of the part he had taken in all public measures; and the motives and views on which he acted, probably with the intention of submitting it to the consideration of the world, whenever he could do it with safety. In the mean time it was the duty of his friends, to do what they could to prevent the effects of the most deliberate and rancorous malice that had ever been exerted against an innocent and praiseworthy man.
Every objection to his conduct was answered at the time, and generally well answered; except the plausible one, which was triumphantly made by the friends of administration. They said—that a man holding a place under a government, should be faithful to that government; and that Dr. Franklin, having a lucrative office, should not have embroiled government, on any account, with the Americans. This was suffering to be taken for granted, what indeed it would not have been difficult to prove; that the interest of administration is one thing, and the interest of the people another. It does not signify where the people reside, whether in America or in Middlesex. This being the case, it is avowing the plainest principle of tyranny, to maintain that the king's servants are his own, and have no duty or relation to the people! despotic governments perhaps may be alarmed to fi d this doctrine now condemned even in the army, which they consider as immediately depending on themselves, and perfectly separate from the public interest. To the honor of the military gentlemen, however, it is a fact, that many officers define their obligations with an integrity and public spirit which would have pleased a Cato. “ We are the king's servants," say they, “but it is only while the king is the servant of the prople.” Apply this glorious principle to the case of Dr. Franklin; and let the Mauduits and Wedderburns nibble at it to the end of time.
Shortly after the proceedings before the privy council, Dr. Franklin was dismissed from the office of deputy postmaster general, which he held under the crown. It was not only by
his transmission of the letters of governor Bernard and licutenant-governor Hutchinson, that he had given offence to the British ministry, but by his popular writings in favor of America. Two pieces in particular had lately attracted a large share of public attention on both sides of the Atlantic. The one purported to be an edict from the king of Prussia, for taxing the inhabitants of Great Britain, as descendants of emigrants from his dominions. The other was entitled, “Rules for reducing a great empire to a small one;" i in both of which he exposed the claims of the mother country and the proceedings of the British ininistry, with the severity of poignant satire.
I ending these transactions, another antagonist to Dr. Franklin's fame started up. A publication by Josiah Tucker, D. D. and dean of Gloucester, appeared, and occasioned the following correspondence; by which it will readily be seen, that Dr. Franklin earnestly endeavored to obtain from the dean, an open and fair communication of the grounds and reasons upon which the latter had relied, in making certain charges against the former; and that he did this in the fullest confidence of being able completely to justify himself against them. And it will be as readily seen, that Dr. Tucker most uncandidly endeavors to avoid that communication, and that discovery of the truth which it was likely to produce.
To Dan Tucker.
London, February 12, 1774. BEING informed by a friend, that some severe strictures on my conduct and character had appeared in a book published under your respectable name, I purchased and read it. After thanking you for those parts of it that are so instruc
* See Vol. V. page 564 of this edition, and letter to Thomas Cushing, e3q., Sept. 12, 1773, and to governor Franklin, October 6, 1773.
See Vol. V. page 369 of this edition.
tive on points of great importance to the common interest of mankind, permit me to complain. that if by the description you give in pages 180, 181, of a certain American patriot, whom you say you need not name, you do, as is supposed, mean myself, nothing can be further from the truth than your assertion, that I applied or used any interest directly or indirectly to be appointed one of the stamp officers for America; I certainly never expressed a wish of the kind to any person whatever, much less was I, as you say, “ more than ordinarily assiduous on this head.” I have heretofore seen in the newspapers, insinuations of the same import, naming me expressly; but being without the name of the writer, I took no notice of them. I know not whether they were yours, or were only your authority for your present charge. But now that they have the weight of your name and dignified character, I am more sensible of the injury; and I beg leave to request, that you would reconsider the grounds on which you have ventured to publish an accusation, that, if believed, must prejudice me extremely in the opinion of good men, especially in my own country, whence I was sent expressly to oppose the imposition of that tax. If on such reconsideration and inquiry, you find, as I am persuaded you will, that you have been imposed upon by false reports, or have too lightly given credit to hearsays in a matter that concerns another's reputation, I flatter myself that your equity will induće you to do me justice, by retracting that accusation.
In confidence of this, I am with great esteem, reverend sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant,
To Dr. Franklin. SIR,
Monday, February 21, 1774. THE letter which you did me the honor to send to Gloucester, I have just received in London, where I have resided many weeks, and am now returning to Gloucester. On inquiry I find, that I was mistaken in some circumstances relating to your conduct about the stamp act, though right as to substance. These errors shall be rectified the first opportunity. After having assured you, that I am no dealer in anonymous newspaper paragraphs, nor have a connection with any who are, I have the honor to be, sir, your humble servant,
To Dean Tucker.
I RECEIVED your favor of yesterday. If the substance of what you have charged me with is right, I can have but little concern about any mistakes in the circumstances : whether they are rectified or not, will be immaterial. But knowing the substance to be wrong, and believing that you can have no desire of continuing in an error, prejudicial to any man's reputation, I am persuaded you will not take it amiss, if I request you to communicate to me the particulars of the information you have received, that I may have an opportunity of examining them; and I flatter myself, I shall be able to satisfy you that they are groundless. I propose this method as more decent than a public altercation, and suiting better the respect due to your character.
With great regard, I have the honor to be, reverend sir, your most obedient humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.
To Dr. Franklin. SIR,
Gloucester, Feb. 27, 1774. THE request made in your last letter is so very just and reasonable, that I shall comply with it very readily. It has long appeared to me, that you much exceeded the bounds of morality in the methods you pursued for the advancement of the supposed interests of America. If it can be proved, that I have unjustly suspected you, I shall acknowlege my error, with as much satisfaction as you can have in reading my recantation of it. As to the case more immediately re