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the removal of Governor Hutchinson, and Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver from their posts. Some letters had passed in the public prints between Mr. Thomas Whately's brother and Mr. John Temple, concerning the manner in which the letters of Gov. Hutchinson, &c. had escaped from among the papers of Mr. Thomas Whately, at that time deceased. One of the gentlemen wished to avoid the charge of having given them; the other of having taken them. At length the dispute became so personal and point. ed, that Mr. Temple thought it necessary to call the brother to the field. The letter of provocation appeared in the morning, and the parties met in the af. ternoon. Dr. Franklin was not apprized of their intention in time to prevent it; but he immediately afterwards published the following letter addressed to the printer of the “ Public Advertiser." Sir,
Finding that two gentlemen have been unfor. tunately engaged in a duel about a transaction and it's circumstances, of which both of them are totally ignorant and innocent; I think it incumbent on me to declare (for the prevention of farther mischief, as far as such a declaration may contribute to prevent it) that I alone am the person who obtained and transmitted to Boston the letters in question. Mr. Whate. ly could not communicate them because they were never in his possession; and for the same reason, they could not be taken from him by Mr. Temple. They were not of the nature of private letters between friends. They were written by public officers to persons in public stations, on public affairs, and in tended to procure public measures; they were there. fore handed to other public persons who might be influenced by them to produce those measures. Their
tendency was to incense the mother country against her colonies, and, by the steps recommended, to widen the breach; which they effected. The chief caution expressed with regard to privacy, was to keep their contents from the colony agents; who the writers apprehended might return them, or copies of them to America. That apprehension was, it seems, well founded; for the first agent who laid his hands on them, thought it his duty to transmit them to his constitueots. CRAVEN-STREET,
B. FRANKLIN, Dec. 25, 1773. Agent for the House of Representatives
of the Massachusetts' Bay. In consequence of these events, Dr. Franklia was called to attend at the Council chamber, Jan. 29, 1774, when Mr. Dunning and Mr. John Lee appeared as counsel for the assembly, and Mr. Wedder. burne (afterwards Lord Loughborough) as counsel for the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Wedderburne was very long in his answer ;
which chiefly related to the mode of obtaining and sending away Mr. Whately's letters; and spoke of Dr. Frank. lin in terms of gross abuse. The following are the principal passages, which may serve as a specimen of the rancour of political malice, and of that intemper. ate acrimony which too frequently characterises the eloquence of the bar.
"The letters could not have come to Dr. Franklin," said Mr. Wedderburne, 6 by fair means. The writers did not give them to him; nor yet did the deceased correspondent, who, from our intimacy would otherwise have told me of it. Nothing, then, will acquit Dr. Franklin of the charge of obtaining them by fradulent or corrupt means, for the most malignant of purposes ; unless he stole them, from the person who stole them.
This argument is irrefragable,
I hope, my lords, you will mark and brand the man, for the honour of this country, of Europe, and of mankind. Private cor. respondence has hitherto been held sacred, in times of the greatest party rage, not only in politics but religion.
He has forfeited all the respect of so. cieties and of men. Into what companies will be hereafter go with an unembarrassed face, or the hon. est intrepidity of virtue. Men will watch him with a jealous eye; they will hide their papers from him, and lock up their escrutoires. He will henceforth esteemi it a libel to be called a man of letters; homo trium [i. e. fur or thief] literatum ! But he not only took away the letters from one brother, but kept himself concealed till he nearly occasioned the murder of the other. It is impossible to read bis account, expressive of the coolest and most deliberate malice, without horror. He here read the foregoing letter published by Dr. Franklin in the “ Public Advertiser."
.” “ Amidst these tragical events,” he then continued, “ of one person pearly murdered, of an. other answerable for the issue, of a worthy governor hurt in his dea rest interests, the fate of America in suspense ; here is a man, who with the utmost insen. sibility of remorse, stands up and avows himself the author of all. I can compare it only to Zanga in Dr. Young's.“ Revenge.”
Know then 't was- -I!
I hated, I despised, and I destroy ! I ask, my lords, whether the revengeful temper at. tributed, by poetic fiction only, to the bloody Afri. can, is not surpassed by the coolness and apathy of the wily American ?” These pleadings for a time effected much. The lords assented, the town was
convinced, Dr. Franklin was disgraced, and Mr. Wed. derburne appeared in the high road to advancement. Unfortunately for Mr. Wedderburne, the events of the war did not correspond, with his systems. Un. fortunately too for his “irrefragable argument,” Dr. Franklin afterwards took an oath in chancery, that at the time he transmitted the letters, he was ignor. ant of the party to whom they had been addressed; having himself received them from a third person, and for the express purpose of their being conveyed to America. The following particulars relating to Dr. Franklin's behaviour on this occasion are from a communication by Dr. Priestley to the editors of the Monthly Magazine, vol. 15, page 1. the morning of the day” says he, on which the cause was to be heard,” I met Mr. Burke in Parlia.. ment-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 whither 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 ada mission. He then desired me to go along with him. Accordingly I did; but when we reached that antiroom, we found it quite filled with persons as desirous of gaining admittance as ourselves. Seeing this, I said we should never get through the crowd. Не 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 next to his. When the business was opened, it was sufficiently evident, from the speech of Mr. Wedderburne, who was council for the Governor, the real object of the court was to insult Dr. Franklin. All this time he stood in a corner 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 scarcely make himself heard; and Mr. Lee, who was the second, spoke but feebly in reply; so that Mr. Wedderburne had a complete triumph. 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 council behaved with decent gravity, except Lord North, who, coming late, took his stand behind the chair opposite to me.
When the business was over, Dr. Franklin, in going out, took me by the hand, in a manner which indicated some feeling. I soon followed him, and in going through theanti.room, saw Mr. Wedderburne there, surround. ed by a circle of his friends and admirers. Being known to him, he stepped forwards, as if to speak to me; but I turned aside, and made what haste I could out of the place. The next morning I breakfasted with the doctor, when he said, “He bad never before been so sensible of the
of a good conscience; for that if he had not considered the thing for which he had been so much insulted, as one of the best actions of his life, and what he should certainly do again in the same circumstances, he could not have supported it.”
Dr. Franklin declared, that he did not know that the letters written by Governor Hutchinson existed, till they were brought to him as agent for the colony, in order