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“A personal animosity between Governor Bernard, Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, and some distinguished patriots in Massachusetts, contributed to perpetuate a flame of discontent in that province, though elsewhere it had visibly abated. This was worked up in the year 1773 to a high pitch by a singular combination of circumstances. Some letters had been written in the course of the dispute by Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, Mr. Oliver, and others in Boston, to persons
and office in England, which contained a very unfavorable representation of public affairs, and tended to show the necessity of coercive measures, and of changing the chartered system of provincial government. These letters fell into the hands of Dr. Franklin, agent of the province, who transmitted them to his constituents. The indignation and animosity which was excited on their perusal, knew no bounds. The house of representatives agreed on a petition and remonstrance to his majesty, in which they charged their governor and lieutenant-governor with being betrayers of their trust, and of the people they governed ; and of giving private, partial, and false information. They also declared them enemies to the colonies, and prayed for justice against them, and for their speedy removal from their places.
“ This petition and remonstrance being transmitted to England, the merits of it were discussed before his majesty's privy council. After a hearing before that board, in which Dr. Franklin represented
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 behave so indecently; manifestiny, 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,
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. Franklin 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. Wedderbarn 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 which he was so harshly and improperly treated.--In short, to quote the words which he employed concerning bimself on another occasion, he kept his “countenance as immovable as if his features had been made of rood." (See p. 261.) This was late on Saturday afternoon. I called on him in Craven Street, at an early hour on Monday morning, and immediately after the usual salutation, he put into my hands a letter which had been just delivered to him.-It was from the postmaster-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 mentions, 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 bave 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 to Paris 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