Page images

which has often embarrassed, if not endangered the public service: a controversy which has been long depending, and which still seems to be as far from an issue as ever.

Our blessed saviour reproaches the Pharisees with laying heavy burdens on men's shoulders, which they themselves would not stir with a single finger.

Our proprietaries, sir, have done the same; and, for the sake of the commonwealth, the province has hitherto submitted to the imposition: not indeed, without the most strenuous endeavours to lay the load equally, the fullest manifestations, and the strongest protestations against the violence put upon them.

Having been most injuriously misrepresented and traduced in print, by the known agents and dependents of those gentlemen their fellow subjects, they at last find themselves obliged to set forth an historical state of their case, and to make their appeal to the public

upon it.

had in our anthor a most zealous and able advocate. His sentiments are manly, liberal, and spirited; his style close, nervous, and rhetorical. By a forcible display of the oppressions his clients have sustained, he inclines us to pity their condition ; by an enumeration of their virtues he endeavours to remove the idea, which many have entertained, of their unimportance, and, abstracted from their consideration in a political light, they' claim our regard by reason of their own personal merits.” Interesting however as the controversy between the governors and the assembly of Pensylvania may have been at the time, it is too little so now to justify the insertion of so voluminous an account of it in the present collection, and we shall content ourselves therefore with extracting the dedication, preface, and contents. It is singular, that neither the editor of Dr. Franklin's works, whom we have designated by the letters B. V.; nor Dr. Cruger, the continuator of his life, should have mentioned this publication. The work is indeed anonymous, but it is so well known to have been Dr. Franklin's, that in the common library catalogue of the British Museum it is ranked under his name, Editor.

With the public opinion in their favour, they may with the more confidence lift


to the wis. dom of parliament and the majesty of the crown, from whence alone they can derive an effectual remedy. To

your hands, sir, these papers are most humbly presented, for considerations so obvious, that they scarce need any explanation.

The Roman provinces did not stand more in need of patronage than ours: and such clients as we are would have preferred the integrity of Cato to the fortune of Cæsar.

The cause we bring is in fact the cause of all the provinces in one: it is the cause of


British subject in every part of the British dominions: it is the cause of every man who deserves to be free every where.

The propriety, therefore, of addressing these papers to a gentleman, who, for so many successive parliaments, with so much honour to himself and satisfaction to the public, has been at the head of the commons of Great Britain, cannot be called in question.

You will smile, sir, perhaps, as you read the references of a provincial assembly to the rights and claims of parliament; but we humbly conceive, it will be without the least mixture of resentment; those assemblies having nothing more in view, than barely to establish their privileges on the most rational and solid basis they could find, for the security and service of their constituents.

And you are humbly besought, sir, not to think the worse of this address, because it has been made without your permission or privity. Nobody asks leave to pay a debt: every Briton is your debtor, sir: and all we have said, or can say, is but a poor composition for what we owe you.

your scramble

You have conferred as much honour on the chair you fill, as the chair has conferred on you.

Probity and dignity are your characteristics.

May that seat always derive the same lustre from the same qualities!

This at least ought to be our prayer, whether it is or not within our expectations.

For the province of Pensylvania, as well as in my own private capacity, I have the honour to be, with the most profound respect,

your most obedient humble servant,



TO obtain an infinite variety of purposes by a few plain principles is the characteristic of nature. As the eye is affected so is the understanding: objects at distance strike it according to their dimensions, or the quantity of light thrown upon them; near, according to their novelty or familiarity as they are in motion or at rest. It is the same with actions. A battle is all motion; a hero all glare: while such images are before us, we can attend to nothing else. Solon and Lycurgus would make no figure in the same scene with the king of Prussia; and we are at present so lost in a military scramble on the continent next us, in which it must be confessed we are deeply interested, that we have scarce time to throw a glance towards America, where we have also much at stake, and where, if any where, our account must be made up at last.

We love to stare more than to reflect, and to be indolently amused at our leisure, than to commit the smallest trespass on our patience by winding a painful tedious maze, which would pay us in nothing but knowledge.

But then as there are some eyes that can find nothing marvellous but what is marvellously great, so there are others equally disposed to marvel at what is marvellously little; and who can derive as much entertainment from this microscope in examining a mite, as Dr. in ascertaining the geography of the moon, or measuring the tail of a comet.

Let this serve as an excuse for the author of these sheets, if he needs any, for beslowing them on the transactions of a colony, till of late hardly mentioned in our annals; in point of establishment one of the last upon the British list, and in point of rank one of the most subordinate, as being not only subject, in common with the rest, to the crown, but also to the claims of a proprietary, who thinks he does them honour enough in governing them by deputy; consequently so much further removed from the royal eye, and so much the more exposed to the pressure of self-interested instructions.

Considerable, however, as most of them, for happiness of situation, fertility of soil, product of valuable commodities, number of inhabitants, shipping, amount of exportations, latitude of rights and privileges, and every other requisite for the being and well-being of society, 5


and more considerable than


of them all for the ce. lerity of its growth, unassisted by any human help but the vigour and virtue of its own excellent constitution.

A father and his family, the latter united by interest and affection, the former to be revered for the wisdom of his institutions and the indulgent use of his authority, was the form it was at first presented in. Those who were only ambitious of repose found it here; and as none returned with an evil report of the land, numberg followed: all partook of the leaven they found: the community still wore the same equal face: nobody aspired: nobody was oppressed: industry was sure of profit, knowledge of esteem, and virtue of veneration.

An assuming landlord, strongly disposed to convert free tenants into abject vassals, and to reap what he did not sow, countenanced and abetted by a few desperate and designing dependents, on the one side; and on the other, all who have sense enough to know their rights, and spirit enough to defend them, combined as one man against the said landlord and his encroachment in the form it has since assumed.

And surely a nation born to liberty like this, bound to leave it unimpaired as they received it from their fathers in perpetuity to their heirs, and interested in the conservation of it in every appendix to the British empire, the particulars of such a contest cannot be wholly indifferent.

On the contrary, it is reasonable to think, the first workings of power against liberty, and the natural efforts of unbiassed men to secure themselves against the first approaches of oppression, must have a captivating power over every man of sensibility and discernment ainongst us.


« PreviousContinue »