Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

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 he had not considered the thing for which he had been so much insulted, as one of the best actions of his life, and what he should certainly do again in the same circumstances, he could not have supported it." He was accused of clandestinely procuring certain letters, containing complaints of the governor, and sending them to America, with a view to excite their animosity against him, and thus to embroil the two countries. But he assured me, that he did not even know that such letters existed, till they were brought to him as agent for the colony, in order to be sent to his constituents; and the cover of the letters on which the direction had been written, being lost, he only guessed at the person to whom they were addressed, by the contents.

to-morrow; if he does I shall suspect that he is influenced by a recollection of the treatment which he received 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, aod, 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 founded.-I bave heard him sometimes say, that he was not insensible to in juries, but that he never put himself to any trouble or inconvenience to retaliate,

That Dr. Franklin, notwithstanding he did not show it at the time, was much impressed by the business of the privy council, appeared from this circumstance: when he attended there, he was dressed in a suit of Manchester velvet; and Silas Deane told me, that when they met at Paris to sign the treaty between France and America, he purposely put on that suit.

The publication of the letters of Hutchinson and Oliver, by the legislature of Massachusetts, and the transmission of attested copies of the same, with their address, eventually produced a duel between Mr. William Whately, (brother of the deceased Mr. Thomas Whately, secretary to the treasury,to whom the letters were originally addressed, and

my little family, that I might enjoy the remainder of life in private repose, indifferent to the opinion of courtiers, as having nothing to seek or wish among them, and being secure that time would soon lay the dust which prejudice and party have so lately raised, I should not think of giving myself the trouble of writing, and my friends of reading, an apology for my political conduct.

That this conduct may be better understood, and its consistency more apparent, it seems necessary that I should first explain the principles on which I have acted. It has long appeared to me that the only true British policy was that which aimed at the good of the whole British empire, not that which sought the advantage of one part in the disadvantage of the others: therefore all measures of procuring gain to the mother-country arising from loss to her colonies, and all of gain to the colonies arising from or occasioning loss to Britain, especially where the gain was small and the loss great, every abridgment of the power of the mothercountry where that power was not prejudicial to the liberties of the colonists, and every diminution of the privileges of the colonists, where they were not prejudicial to the welfare of the mother-country, I, in my own mind, condemned as improper, partial, unjust, and mischievous; tending to create dissensions, and weaken that union, on which the strength, solidity, and duration of the empire greatly depended; and I opposed, as far as my little powers went, all proceedings either here or in America, that in my opinion had such tendency. Hence it has often happened to me, that while I have been thought here too much of an American, I have in America been deemed too much of an Englishman.

From a thorough inquiry (on occasion of the stamp act) into the nature of the connexion between Britain and the colonies, I became convinced, that the bond of their union is not the parliament but the king. That in removing to America, a country out of the realm, they did not carry with them the statutes then existing; for if they did, the Puritans must have been subject there to the same grievous act of conformity, tithes, spiritual courts, &c. which they meant to be free from by going thither; and in vain would they have left their native country, and all the conveniencies and comforts of its improved state, to combat the hardships of a new settlement in a distant wilderness, if they had taken with them what they meant to fly from, or if they had left a power behind them capable of sending the same chains after them, to bind them in America. They took with them, however, by compact, their allegiance to the king, and a legislative power for the making a new body of laws with his assent, by which they were to be governed. Hence they became distinct states, under the same prince, united as Ireland is to the crown but not to the realm of England, and govern

in whose possession they were supposed to have been at the time of his death, in 1772,) and Mr. John Temple,' of Boston, New England; who had been suspected of having been instrumental in procuring the letters, and sending them to America. This tragical event, which Dr. Franklin could not foresee, nor had an opportunity of preventing, was maliciously made use of by his enemies to cast an odium on his character.

The following account of the whole of this mysterious affair is taken from a manuscript in Dr. Franklin's own hand-writing, found among his papers; evidently drawn up with a view to justify his conduct with respect to those famous letters, and the unfortunate event that resulted therefrom, and probably with the intent of inserting it in his memoirs, had he continued them to that period of his life. For these reasons the editor conceives it his duty to embody it with the present work, as well for the justification of his illustrious relative, as an historical document respecting a transaction important in the American annals, and which has never before been thoroughly elucidated.

Dr. Franklin may be considered as thus again continuing his own memoirs.

Having been from my youth more or less engaged in public affairs, it has often happened to me

Afterwards Sir John Temple, and British consul in the United States of America,

« AnteriorContinuar »