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to see me again as often as might be. I said, I should not fail to avail myself of the permission he was pleased to give me of waiting upon his lordship occasionally, being very sensible of the honor, and of the great advantages and improvement I should reap from his instructive conversation; which indeed was not a mere compliment.
The new parliament was to meet the 29th of November, 1774. About the beginning of that month, being at the Royal Society, Mr. Raper, one of our members, told me there was a certain lady who had a desire of playing with me at chess, fancying she could beat me, and had requested him to bring me to her: it was, he said, a lady with whose acquaintance he was sure I should be pleased, a sister of Lord Howe's, and he hoped I would not refuse the challenge. I said, I had been long out of practice, but would wait upon the lady when he and she should think fit. He told me where her house was, and would have me call soon and with out further introduction, which I undertook to do; but thinking it a little awkward, I postponed it; and on the 30th, meeting him again at the feast of the society election, being the day after the parliament met, he put me in mind of my promise, and that I had not kept it, and would have me name a day when he said he would call for me and conduct me. I named the Friday following. He called accordingly: I went with him, played a few games with the lady, whom I found of very sensible conversation and pleasing behavior, which induced me to agree most readily to an appointment for another meeting a few days afterwards. Though I had not the least apprehension that any political business could have any connexion with this new acquaintance.
On the Thursday preceding this chess party, Mr. David Barclay called on me to have some discourse concerning the meeting of merchants to petition parliament. When that was over, he spoke of the dangerous situation of American affairs, the hazard that a civil war might be brought on by the present measures, and the great merit that person would have, who could contrive some means of preventing so terrible a calamity, and bring about a reconciliation. He was then pleased to add, that he was persuaded, from my knowledge of both countries, my character and influence in one of them, and my abilities in business, no man had it so much in his power as myself. I naturally answered, that I should be very happy if I could in any degree be instrumental in so good a work, bu that I saw no prospect of it; for, though I was sure the Americans were always willing and ready to agree upon any equitable terms, yet I thought an accommodation impracticable, unless both sides wished it; and by what I could judge from the proceedings of the ministry, I did not believe they had the least disposition towards it; that they rather wished to provoke the North American people into an open rebellion, which might justify a military execution, and thereby gratify a grounded malice which I conceived to exist here against the whigs and dissenters of that country. Mr. Barclay apprehended I judged too hardly of the ministers; he was persuaded they were not all of that temper, and he fancied they would be very glad to get out of their present embarrassment on any terms, only saving the honor and dignity of government. He wished, therefore, that I would think of the matter, and he would call again and converse with me further upon it. I said I would do so, as he requested it, but I had no opinion of its answering any purpose. We parted upon this. But two days after I received a letter from him, enclosed in a note from Dr. Fothergill, both which follow.
Youngsbury, near Ware, 3d 12 mo. 1774. ESTEEMED FRIEND;
After we parted on Thursday last, I accidently met our mutual friend Dr. Fothergill, in my way home, and intimated to him the subject of our discourse; in consequence of which, I have received from him an invitation to a further conference on this momentous affair, and I intend to be in town to-morrow accordingly, to meet at his house between four and five o'clock; and we unite in the request of thy company. We are neither of us insensible, that the affair is of that magnitude as should almost deter private persons from meddling with it; at the same time we are respectively such well-wishers to the cause, that nothing in our power ought to be left undone, though the utmost of our efforts may be unavailable. I am thy respectful friend,
DAVID BARCLAY. Dr. Franklin, Craven Street.
Dr. Fothergill presents his respects to Dr. Franklin, and hopes for the favor of his company in Harpur Street to-morrow, evening, to meet their mutual friend David Barclay, to confer on American affairs. As near five o'clock as may be convenient.
Harper Street, 3d inst.
The time thus appointed was the evening of the day on which I was to have my second chess party with the agreeable Mrs. Howe, whom I met accordingly. After playing as long as we liked, we fell into a little chat partly on a mathematical problem,' and partly about the new parliament then just met, when she said, “ And what is to be done with this dispute between Great Britain and the colonies ? I hope we are not to have a civil war.” “They should kiss and be friends," said I; “what can they do better? Quarrelling can be of service to neither, but is ruin to both.” “I have often said," replied she, “that I wished government would employ you to settle the dispute for them; I am sure nobody could do it so well. Do not you think that the thing is practicable?" “ Undoubtedly, Madam, if the parties are disposed to reconciliation; for the two countries have really no clashing interests to differ about it. It is rather a matter of punctilio, which two or three reasonable people might settle in half an hour. I thank you for the good opinion you are pleased to express of me; but the ministers will never think of employing me in that good work; they chuse rather to abuse me.
* This lady (which is a little unusual in ladies,) has a good deal of mathematical knowledge. (Note of Dr. Franklin.)
Aye,” said she, “they have behaved shamefully to you. And indeed some of them are now ashamed of it themselves.” I looked upon this as accidental conversation, thought no more of it, and went in the evening to the appointed meeting at Dr. Fothergill's, where I found Mr. Barclay with him.
The Doctor expatiated feelingly on the mischiefs likely to ensue from the present difference, the necessity of accommodating it, and the great merit of being instrumental in so good a work; concluding with some compliments to me; that nobody understood the subject so thoroughly, and had a better head for business of the kind ; that it seemed therefore a duty incumbent on me, to do every thing I could to accomplish a reconciliation; and that as he had with pleasure heard from David Barclay that I had promised to think of it, he