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abroad than here); several of the foreign ambassadors have assiduously cultivated my acquaintance, treating me as one of their corps, partly I believe from the desire they bave from time to time of hearing something of American affairs, an object become of importance in foreign courts, who begin to bope Britain's alarming power will be diminished by the defection of her colonies; and partly, that they may have an opportunity of introducing me to the gentlemen of their country who desire it. The king too has lately been heard to speak of me with regard. These are flattering circumstances; but a violent longing for home sometimes seizes me, which I can no otherwise subdue, but by promising myself a return next spring, or next autumn, and so forth. As to returning hither, if I once go back, I have no thoughts of it. I am too far advanced in life to propose three voyages more. I have some important affairs to settle at home, and considering my double expenses here and there, I hardly think my salaries fully compensate the disadvantages. The late change, however, (of the American minister) being thrown into the balance, determines me to stay another winter."
Lord Dartmouth had heretofore expressed great personal regard for Dr. Franklin, who now found himself upon very good terms with this new minister.
As an explanatory introduction to a transaction of much interest and importance in the annals of Dr. Franklin, which made a considerable noise at this time, (1773-4.) and which has not hitherto been satisfactorily developed to the public, it may be proper to revert a few years back to the history of the colony of Massachusetts; for which purpose the following short sketch, from an unknown hand, is sube mitted.
"Notwithstanding, after Dr. Franklin's return to America, in the spring of 1775, the welfare of his country again induced him to cross the Atlantic in 1776, and undertake, at the age of seventy-one, infirm, and exposed to be captured by the enemy, a winter's voyage, to France; whence he had again to cross the Atlantic in his return home, in 1785, being then in his eightieth year.
“ From the royal and ministerial assurances given in favor of America in the year 1769, the subsequent repeal in 1770, of five-sixths of the duties which had been imposed in 1767, together with the renewal of the mercantile intercourse between Great Britain and her colonies, many hoped that the contention between the two countries was finally closed. In all the provinces excepting Massachusetts, appearances seemed to favor that opinion. Many incidents operated there to the prejudice of that harmony which had began elsewhere to return. The stationing a military force among them was a permanent source of uneasiness. The royal army bad been brought thither with the avowed design of enforcing submission to the mother country. Speeches from the throne, and addresses from both houses of parliament, bad taught them to look upon the inhabitants as factious turbulent citizens, who aimed at throwing off all subordination to Great Britain; they on the other hand were accustomed to look upon the soldiery as instruments of tyranny, sent on purpose to dragoon them out of their liberties. Mutual insults and provocations were the consequence.
“ On the evening of the 5th of March, 1770, a tumult between the town's-people and a party of the soldiers took place. In this the latter fired on the former and killed several of them. Moderate men interposed and prevented a general carnage. The events of this tragical night sunk deep in the minds of the citizens. The anniversary of it was observed with great solemnity. Their ablest speakers were successively employed to deliver an annual oration, to preserve the remembrance of it fresh in their minds. On these occasions, the blessings of liberty-the horrors of slavery-and a variety of such popular topics were displayed in elegant language, and presented to the public view in their most pleasing or most hideous forms.
66 The obstacles to returning harmony, which have already been mentioned, were increased by making the judges in Massachusetts independent of the province. Formerly they
biad been paid by yearly grants from the assembly; but from the year 1772, Peter Oliver, the chief justice of the suptrior court, received his salary from the crown. This was resented by the assembly as a species of bribery, tending to bias his judicial determinations in favor of the mother country. They made it the foundation of an impeachment; but this produced no other consequence than a dissolution of the assembly which prosecuted the uncourtly measure.
“ 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 bad 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 lieutenantgovernor Hutchinson, Mr. Oliver, and others in Boston, to persons in power 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 bitterest language, as the fomenter of the disputes between the two countries. It was no protection to this yenerable sage, that being the agent of Massachusetts, he conceived it his duty to inform his collstituents of letters written on public affairs, calculated to overturn their chartered constitution. The age, respectable character, and highly literary rank of the subject of the philippic of The pert, prim, prater of the northern race,' (as the satiric poet 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."'w
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; manifesting, in the rulest 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 behaviour before the privy council, from the pen of Dr. Priestly, (who was present) may not be deemed uninteresting. Extract of a letter from Dr. Priestly, dated Northumber
land, United States, Nov. 10, 1802. “ 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
See the Examinations, vol. IV. p. 109, of this edition.
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 Parliament street, 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 anti-room, we found it quite filled with persons as desirous 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, “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 corners of the room, not far from me, without the least apparent emotion.
Mr. Dunning, who was the leading counsel on the part of the colony, was so hoarse, that he could 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
* Error. He stood close to the fire, and in front of the council-table.