Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

.. This short tract, together with his “ Ånswer in Nov. 1769,) to the Queries of Mr. Strahan," (which were probably made under the dictation of administration,) give the best account of the then existing complaints of the colonies, and (from their not being attended to,) of the primitive cause of the disputes that produced civil war, and terminated in their separation from Great Britain. These papers, interesting for the historian, form in some degree a complement to these memoirs; and constitute sufficient proofs of Dr. Franklin's candor and foresight.

At this time a change of ministry took place, in which the American business was taken from Lord Shelburne, and given to Lord Hillsborough, as secretary of state for America, a new distinct department. There was a talk at the time of getting Dr. Franklin appointed under secretary of state for that department; but it fell through, he being considered too much of an American.

Lord Hillsborough had formerly at sundry times discoursed with Dr. Franklin on the subject of the Restraining Act, relative to paper-money: the

See “ WRITINGS," Part 1. Section 1. page 51, 4to. ed. * See also a letter of Dr. Franklin's, On the Rise and Progress of the differences between Great Britain and her American Colonies : sigued " A well-wisher to the king and all his dominions," and addressed to the printer of the Public Advertiser. Private Correspondence, p. 211. of ed. 4to., and p. 405. Vol. I. of 8vo, ed.

latter now waited on the new minister, in order again to press the repeal of the same; but he found he had not altered in the sentiments concerning it, which he entertained when at the head of the board of trade, and which still continued adverse to it.

Dr. Franklin took this opportunity of conversing with his lordship concerning the particular affair with which he was charged by his Pennsylvania constituents, relative to the change of government in that province; giving him a detail of all the

proceedings hitherto, the delays it had experienced, and its present situation. His lordship promised him he would inquire into the matter, and talk with him further upon it: he expressed great satisfaction at the good disposition that he said appeared now to be general in America, with regard to the British government, according to his last advices; and added, that he had, by his majesty's order, written the most healing letters to the several governors, which, if shown to the assemblies, as he supposed they would be, could not but confirm that good disposition.

These expectations were not, however, realised: the Americans began to be sensible of their own consequence; and the inhabitants of Boston, at a public meeting on the 27th October, 1767, entered into a variety of resolutions for encouraging manufactures, promoting economy, and restraining the use of foreign superfluities. These resolutions, all of which were highly prejudicial to the trade of Great Britain, contained a long list of articles which it was either determined not to use at all, or at least in the smallest possible quantities. A subscription was opened at the same time, and a committee appointed, for the increase of their old manufactures, and the establishment of new ones. Among other things, it was determined to give particular encouragement to the making of paper, glass, and other commodities that were liable to the payment of the new duties upon importation. It was also resolved to restrain the expense of funerals, to reduce dress to a degree of primitive simplicity and plainness, and in general not to purchase any commodities from the mother-country that could be procured in any of the colonies.

All these resolutions were either adopted, or similar ones entered into, by most if not all the other colonies on the continent.

Though the colonies never pretended an exemption from contributing to the common expenses necessary to the prosperity of the empire, they continued to assert, that, having parliaments of their own, and not having representatives in that of Great Britain, their own parliaments were the only proper judges of what they could and ought to contribute in this case ; and that the English parliament had no right to take their money without their consent. They considered the British empire not as a single state, but as comprehending many ; and though the parliament of Great Britain had arrogated to itself the power of taxing the colonies, it had no more right to do so, than it had to tax Hanover: both countries had the same king, but not the same legislatures. The Americans conceiving their rights thus established, were determined to maintain them; and they accordingly opposed to the acts of a venal court, resolved to subjugate them to its authority, that calm, steady perseverance, worthy of men who were determined to be free.

In 1772, Lord Hillsborough gave in his resignation, occasioned, as was supposed, from some mortification he had experienced, or the evident dislike of the king to his administration, which he conceived had tended to weaken the affection and respect of the colonies for a royal government'-a sentiment which Dr. Franklin had taken every proper means to encourage by the communication of suitable information and convincing proofs de

Since the publication of the first edition of these Memoirs, the editor has been assured, from respectable authority, that Lord Hällsborough's resignation did not proceed from any dislike of the king, but from bis being over-ruled in regard to the grant of VANDALIA, in which several of the ministers were privately interested : and that so well was the king disposed towards Lord Hillsborough, that just before his resignation, it was matter of doubt, whether his chief opponent, the Earl of Rochford, would not be forced to resign, and leave the other in office: and immediately upon Lord Hillsborough's resigning, he was created an English earl.

rived from America. But the Doctor was not only instrumental in the dismissal of this minister, but perhaps in the appointment of his successor: for, complaining of Lord Hillsborough one day at court, to a person of considerable influence, that person told him that the Americans were represented by his lordship as an unquiet people, not easily satisfied with any ministry; that however it was thought too much occasion had been given them to dislike the present; and he asked him, whether, in case he should be removed, he could name another likely to be more acceptable to the colonies ? Dr. Franklin instantly replied, “ Yes, there is Lord Dartmouth-we liked him very well when he was at the head of the board formerly, and in all probability should again.” This was probably reported: what influence it may have bad is uncertain ; but shortly after Lord Dartmouth was actually appointed to succeed Lord Hillsborough, to the great satisfaction of all the friends of America,

Dr. Franklin, it appears, had about this time a strong inclination to return to America, though well pleased with his residence in England, where, as he writes to his son, “ Nothing can be more agreeable thạn my situation, more especially as I hope for less embarrassment from the new administration. A general respect paid me by the learned, a number of friends and acquaintance among them, with whom I have a pleasing inter

« AnteriorContinuar »