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Attempts of Dr. Franklin for Conciliation of Great Britain 'with
London, Nov. 28, 1768.
DEAR SIR, I RECEIVED your obliging favour of the 12th instant. Your sentiments of the importance of the present dispute between Great Britain and the colonies, appear to me extremely just. These is nothing I wish for more than to see it amicably and equitably settled.
But Providence will bring about its own ends by its own means; and if it intends the downfal of a nation, that nation will be so blinded by its pride, and other passions, as not to see its danger, or how its fall may be prevented.
Being born and bred in one of the countries, and having lived long and made many agreeable connexions of friendship in the other, I wish all prosperity to both: but I have talked, and written so much and so long on the subject, that my acquaintance are weary of hearing, and the public of reading any more of it, which begins to make me weary of talking and writing; especially as I do not find that I have gained any point, in either country, except that of rendering myself suspected, by my impartiality; in England, of being too much an American, and in America of being too much an Englishman. Your opinion, however, weighs with me, and
* I cannot pretend to say what is the publication promised in this letter; unless it alludes to the one given above at p. 225; in which case there is a mistake in the date of the year. B. V.
encourages me to try one effort more, in a full, though concise state of facts, accompanied with arguments drawn from those facts ; to be published about the ureeting of parliament, after the holidays.
If any good may be done I shall rejoice; but at present I almost despair.
Have you ever seen the barometer, so low as of late? The 29.d instant mine was at 28, 41,
yet ther fine and fair. With sincere esteem, I am, dear friend, Yours, affectionately,
Queries from Mr. Strahan.
TO DR. FRANKLIN.*
Nov. 21, 1789. IN the many conversations we have had together about our present disputes with North America, we perfectly agree in wishing they may be brought to a speedy and happy conclusion. How this is to be done, is not so easily ascertained.
These letters have often been copied into our public prints. Mr. Strahan, the correpondent, is printer to the king, and now representative in parliament for Malmsbury in Wiltshire An intimacy of long standing had subsisted between him and Dr. Franklin. B. V.
It was the father of the present Mr. Strahan, who is also king's-printer, and member of parliament. The friendship, which so long subsisted be. tween Mr. Strahan and Dr. Franklin, the latter, in 1775, formerly abjured, in a letter addressed to Mr. Strahan, which will be found in the order of its date, in a subsequent part of this work, Editor.
Two objects, I humbly apprehend, his majesty's sera vants have now in contemplation. Ist. To relieve the colonies from the taxes complained of, which they certainly had no hand in imposing. 2dly, To preserve the honour, the dignity, and the supremacy of the British legislature over all his majesty's dominions.
As I know your singular knowledge of the subject in question, and am as fully convinced of your cordial altachment to his majesty, and your sincere desire to promote the happiness equally of all his subjects, I beg you would in your own clear, brief, and explicit manner, send me an answer to the following questions: I make this request now, because this matter is of the utmost importance, and must very quickly be agitated. And I do it with the more freedom, as you know me and motives too well to entertain the most remote suspicion that I will make an improper use of any information you shall hereby convey to me.
1st. Will not a repeal of all the duties (that on tea excepted, which was before paid here on exportation, and of course no new imposition) fully satisfy the colo. nists*? If you answer in the negative,
* In the year 1767, for the express purpose of raising a revenue in America, glass, red-lead, white-lead, painters' colours, paper, and tea (which last article was subject to various home impositions) became charged by act of parliament, with new permanent duties payable in the American ports. Soon after, in the same sessions, (the East-India Company promising indemnification for the experiment) a temporary alteration was made with respect to the home customs or excise upon certain teas, in the hope that a deductiou in the nominal imposition, by producing a more extended consumption, would give an increased sum to the exchequer. Mr. Strahan, comparing only the amounts of the imposed American duty, and the deducted hoine duty, determines that the Americans had suffered no
2d. Your reasons for that opinion?
3d. Do you think the only affectual way of composing the present differences is to put the Americans precisely in the situation they were in before the passing of the late stamp-act i-If that is your opinion,
4th. Your reasons for ihat opinion
5th. If this last method is deemed by the legislature, and his majesty's ministers, to be rëpugnant to their duty, as guardians of the just rights of the ctown and of their fellow-subjects; can you suggest any other way of terminating these disputes, consistent with the ideas of justice and propriety conceived by the king's subjects on both sides of the Atlantic ?
6. And if this method was actually followed, do you not think it would actually encourage the violent and factious part of the colonists to aim at still farther concessions from the mother-country?
7th. If they are relieved in part only, what do you as a reasonable and dispassionate man, and an equal friend to both sides, imagine will be the probable consequences ?
The answers to these questions, I humbly conceive; will include all the information I want; and I beg you will favour me with them as soon as may be. Every well-wisher to the peace and prosperity of the British empire, and every friend to our truly happy constitution, must be desirous of seeing even the most trivial causes of dissention among our fellow-subjects removed. Our domestic squabbles, in my mind, are nothing to
new imposition. The Americans it seems, thought otherwise. Had we established this precedent for a revenue, we thought we had every thing to hope; yet we affect surprise, when the colonies avoided an acquiescence which by parity of reasoning gave them every thing to fear. B. V. VOL.Ill.
what I am speaking of. This you know much better than I do, and therefore I need add nothing farther to recommend this subject to your serious consideration. I am, with the most cordial esteem and attachment, dear sir, your faithful and affectionate humble servant,
Answer to the preceding Queries.
Craven Street, Nov. 29, 1769.
DEAR SIR, BEING just returned to town from a little excursion, I find yours of the 21st, containing a number of queries, that would require a pamphlet to answer them fully. You, however, desire only brief answers, which I shall endeavour to give.
Previous to your queries, you tell me, that "you apprehend his majesty's servants have now in contemplation, Ist, To relieve the colonists from the taxes complained of; 2d, To preserve the honour, the dignity, and the supremacy of the British legislature over all his majesty's dominions.”
I hope your information is good; and that what you suppose to be in contempla. tion will be carried into execution, by repealing all the laws, that have been made for raising a revenue in America by authority of parliament without the consent of the people there. The honour and dignity of the British legislature will not be hurt by such an act of justice and wisdom. The wisest councils are liable to be misled, especially in matters remote from their inspection. It is the persisting in an error, not the correcting it, that lessens the honour of any man