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shall presently give an extract of so much of it as related to them.
But as it has, on the contrary, been roundly asserted that I did not, as agent, transmit those letters to the assembly's committee of correspondence; that I sent them to a junto, my peculiar correspondents; that fearing to be known as the person who sent them, I had insisted on the keeping that circumstance a secret ; that I had “shown the utmost solicitude to have that secret kept;" and as this has been urged as a demonstrative proof that I was conscious of guilt in the manner of obtaining them, and therefore feared a' discovery so much as to have been afraid of putting my name to the letter in which I enclosed them, and which only appeared to be mine by my well-known hand-writing; I would here, previous to that extract, observe, that on the same paper was first written the copy of a preceding letter, which had been first signed by me as usual ; and, accordingly, the letter now in
question began with these words, “ The above is a copy of my last;” and all the first part of it was on busisiness transacted by me relating to the affairs of the province, and particularly to two petitions sent to me as agent by the assembly, to be presented to the king. These circumstances must to every person there have as clearly shown me to be the writer of that letter, as my well-known hand must have done to those peculiar correspondents of my own, to whom it is said I sent it. If then I hoped to be concealed
by not signing my name to such a letter, I must have been as silly as that bird, which is supposed to think itself unseen when it has hid only its head. And if I could depend on my correspondents keeping secret a letter and a transaction which they must needs know were mine, I might as well have trusted them with my name, and could have had no motive for omitting it. In truth all I insisted on was, (in pursuance of my engagement) that the letters should not be printed or copied ; but I had not at the time the least thought or desire of keeping my part in that transaction a secret; and, therefore, so far from requesting it, I did not so much as give the smallest intimation, even that it would be agreeable to me not to be mentioned on the occasion. And if I had had that inclination, I must have been very weak indeed to fancy, that the person I wrote to, all the rest of the committee of correspondence, five other persons named, and “such others as the committee might think fit to show them to," with three gentlemen here to whom I had communicated the matter, should all keep as a secret on my account what I did not state as a secret, or request should be concealed.
So much of the letter as relates to the governor's letter, is as follows.
“On this occasion I think it fit to acquaint you, that there has lately fallen into my hands part of a correspondence that I have reason to believe laid the foundation of most, if not all our present grierances. I am not at liberty to tell through wha channel I received it; and I have engaged that it shall not be printed, nor any copies taken of the whole, or any part of it; but I am allowed to let it be seen by some men of worth in the province, for their satisfaction only. In confidence of your preserving inviolably my engagement, I send you enclosed the original letters, to obviate every pretence of unfairness in copying, interpolation, or omission. The hands of the gentlemen will be well known. Possibly they may not like such an exposal of their conduct, however tenderly and privately it may be managed. But if they are good men, or pretend to be such, and agree that all good men wish a good understanding and harmony to 'subsist between the colonies and their mother country, they ought the less to regret, that at the small expense of their reputation for sincerity and public spirit among their compatriots, so desirable an event may in some degree bè förwarded. For my own part, I cannot but acknowledge that my resentment against this country, for its arbitrary measures in governing us, conducted by the late minister, has, since my conviction by these papers that those measures were projected, advised, and called for, by men of character among ourselves, and whose advice must therefore be attended with all the weight that was proper to mislead, and which could therefore scarce fail of misleading; my own resentment, I say, has by this means been exceedingly abated. I think they must have the same effect with you; but I am not, as I have said, at liberty to make the letters public. I can only allow them to be seen by yourself, by the other gentlemen of the committee of correspondence, by Messrs. Bowdoin and Pitts of the council, and Doctors Chauncey, Cooper, and Winthorp, with a few such other gentlemen as you may think fit to show them to. After being some months in your possession, you are requested to return them
“ As to the writers, I can easily as well as charitably conceive it possible, that a man educated in prepossessions of the unbounded authority of parliament, &c. may think unjustifiable every opposition even to its unconstitutional exactions, and imagine it their duty to suppress, as much as in them lies, such opposition. But when I find them bartering away the liberties of their native country for posts, and negociating for salaries and pensions extorted from the people; and conscious of the odium these might be attended with, calling for troops to protect and secure the enjoyment of them; when I see them exciting jealousies in the crown, and provoking it to work against so great a part of its most faithful subjects; creating enmities between the different countries of which the empire consists; occasioning a great expense to the old .country for suppressing or preventing imaginary rebellions in the new, and to the new country for the
payment of needless gratifications to useless officers and enemies; I cannot but doubt their sincerity even in the political principles they profess, and deem them mere time-servers, seeking their own private emolument, through any quantity of public mischief; betrayers of the interest, not of their native country only, but of the government they pretend to serve, and of the whole English empire.
“With the greatest esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, your and the committee's most obedient humble servant, 1, . B. FRANKLIN.
My next letter is of Jan. 5th, 1773, to the same gentleman, beginning with these words.--" I did myself the honor of writing to you on the 2d of December past, enclosing some original letters from persons at Boston, which I hope got safe to hand.”
And then goes on with other business transacted by me as agent, and is signed with my name as usual. In truth I never sent an anonymous letter to any person in America, since 'my residence in London, unless where two or more letters happened to be on the same paper, the first a copy of a preceding letter, and the subsequent referring to the preceding; in that case, I may possibly have omitted signing more than one of them as unnecessary.
The first letter, acknowledging the receipt of the papers, is dated Boston, March 24th, 1773, and begins thus, "I have just received your favor