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into their hands, of becoming the greatest nation on earth, should be stopped short and perhaps reduced to insignificance by a civil war, kindled' by ministers obstinately contending for what they cannot but know to be utterly unconstitutional and eternally inadmissible among the free born sons of Englishmen. But I suppose the repeal will not now be agreed to, from what I think a mistaken opinion, that the honour and dignity of government are better supported by persisting in a wrong measure, once entered into, than by rectifying an error as soon as it is discovered.”
Differently, however, from the apprehensions of Franklin, the stamp act was repealed, and even in the course of the same year!
But though so little expected by him, yet was this event ascribed, in great measure, to doctor Franklin. His famous examination, printed in a shilling pamphlet, had been distributed by myriads throughout Britain and America. In America it served to brighten up the old land marks of their rights as free born sons of Eng: lishmen, and to quicken their sensibilities to ministerial frauds. In England it served to show the ignorance of the ministers; the impolicy of their measures towards America; and the utter inexpediency of the stamp act. The stamp act of course fell to the ground. The reader, if a good man, exults, no doubt, in this as a most fortunate event, and already hails this removal of strife, as a certain pelude to that return of love between the mother country and her colonies, which will make them both, glorious and happy. He may hope it, but alas! he is never to see the accomplishment of that good hope. Death is whetting his scythe; and civil wars and slaughters are now just as near at hand as though the stamp act had never been repealed. For a painphlet in some popular style that should unrip the black budget of ministerial injustice and lay naked to view the causes of the coming war; that unnatural war that is to sever England and her colonies forever! Brighter than a thousand serions it would illustrate to politicians that “the Lord is Kings that the sole end of his government, is to glorify himself in the happiness of his creatures that thereunto he hath established his throne in justice-the eternal justice of men doing unto
others as they would that others should do unto them,” and that none, however great, shall ever violate this blessed order with impunity. The British ministry are destined to illustrate this. They are fond of power to preserve this they must continue in place-in order thereunto they must please the merchants and manufacturers—to accomplish this they must favour their trade and lighten their taxes, And how is this to be done? why, by a little peccadillo of INJUSTICE. They have only to sweat the “CONVICTS on their American plantations,"—the rascals live a great way oil, and have no representative in parliament to make a noise about it. Accordingly, soon as the Americans were supposed to have gotten a little over their fever about the stamp act, the minister, lord North, of famous memory, determined to try them again. However it was but a small affair now-only a three penny excise on the pound of tea.
When doctor Franklin, our ARGUS, then in London, discovered the designs of minister North, he exerted himself to point that purblind gentleman to the horrible gulf that was yawning at his feet. He wrote letters to several members of parliament, his friends; and he published a number of luminous pieces in the patriotic gazettes, all admirably calculated to rouse the friends of the nation to a sense of the impending dangers.
In three letters to the honourable Mr. W. Strahan, he has, in the extract, these remarkable words:
“London, November, 1768. "DEAR SIR,
"With respect to the present dispute between Great Britain and the colonies, there is nothing I wish for move than to see it ainicably settled. But Providence brings about its own ends by its own means; and if it intends the downfall 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.
“The friends of the ministry say that this tax is but a triflle; granted. But who does not see what will be the consequence of submitting to it? Is it not the more dangerous for being a trifle? Is it not in this way that the devil bimself most effectually works our ruin? If he can but prevail on a poor thoughtless youth to shake hands with innocence and to steal, he is abundantly satisfied. To get the boy's hand in, is all he wants. And he would as leave the simpleton should begin with stealing a halter as a horse. For he well knows that if he but begins with the one he is sure to end with the other. Just so the minister, angling for American liberty, artfully covers his hook with this delicate bait. But the truth is, I have talked and written so much and so long on the subject of this unhappy quarrel, 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 Engglishmun. However, as in reply to your polite question, “what is to be done to settle this alarming dispute?” I have often told you what I think the minister ought to do, I now go a step farther, and tell you what I fear he will do.
"I apprehend he will, ere long, attempt to enforce this obnoxious tax, whatever may be the consequences.-I apprehend that in the mean time, the colonies will continue to be treated with contempt, and the redress of their grievances be neglected—that, this will inflame matters still more in that country-that, further rash measures there, may create more resentments herethat, their assemblies will be attempted to be dissolved -that, more troops will be sent to oppress them—that, to justify these measures of government, your newspapers will revile them as miscreants, rogues, dastards, and rebels-that, this will alienate the minds of the people here from them, and theirs from you-that, possibly too, some of their warm patriots may be distracted enough to do some mad act which will cause them to be sent for hither and that government may be indiscreet enough to hang thein for it that mutual provocations will thus go on to complete the separation, and instead of that cordial affection which so long existed, and which is so necessary to the glory and happiness of both countries, an implacable malice, dishonourable
and dectructive to both, may take place. I hope, however, that this may all prove false prophecy, and that you and I may live to see as-sincere a friendship established between our countries, as has so many years subsisted between W. Strathan, Esq. and his truly affectionate old friend,
But notwithstanding his prayer to the contrary, every body recollects how, exactly as Doctor Franklin had predicted, the minister continued to blunder and blunder on with his face constantly towards war-how nothing was trumpeted by the ministerial party, like the ingratitude and" baseness of the Americans-how certain newspapers perpetually vilified them as miscreants, rascals and rebels-how the public mind was so set against them that even the shoe-blacks, as Mr. Wilkes said, talked of the colonies as their plantations, and of the people there as if they had been their overseers and negroes—how the minister determined at last, to enforce the tea tax--how, on hearing the news of this, as of the stamp act, the yankees muffled their drums, and played the dead march-how they took the sacrament never to submit to it-how the minister, to test their valour, sent three ships laden with this threepenny tea-how the yankees, dressed like Mohawks, boarded their ships and destroyed their cargoes--how the minister, waxing more in wrath, sent more soldiers to quell the rebels how the rebels insulted the soldiers—how the soldiers fired on the rebelshow the port of Boston was shut by royal proclamation-how, in spite of the royal proclamation, the colonies would trade with her and send monies to her relief-how the LORDS and COMMONS petitioned the king that, any rebel opposing the officers of sacred majesty, should be instantly hung up without judge or jury-how the king thanked his noble lords and commons, and was gra. ciously pleased to decree that all rebels thus oftending should be thus hung up without judge or juryhow that, notwithstanding this gracious decree, when his majesty's troops attempted to destroy the rebel stores at Concord, the rebels attacked and killed them, without any regard to his majesty's decree.
This unpardonable sin against the “Lord's anointed, which happened on the 19th of April, 1775, served as the double bolting and barring of the door against all hope of peace.
Throughout America, it struck but one deep and awful sentiment, “the sword is drawn, and we must now throw the scabbard away.'
.” In May, the news got to England, where it excited emotions that beggar all description. They somewhat, however, resembled the effects of the trumpet of the great angel spoken of in the Revelations, that sounded “wo! wo! wo! to the inhabitants” of America, and proclaimed the pouring forth of fire and sword. But, reserving this tragedy for the next chapter, we will conclude the present with the following anecdote. It will show at least; that doctor Franklin Teft no stone unturned to carry his point; and that where logic failed he had recourse to wit.
The CAT and EAGLE.
A FABLE, BY DOOTOR FRANKLIN.
LORD SPENCER was a great admirer of Dr. Franklin, and never missed sending him a card when he intended a quorum of learned ones at his table. The last time that our philosopher enjoyed this honour, was in 1775, just before he was driven from England by lord North. The conversation taking a turn on fables, lord Spencer observed that it had certainly been a very lucky thing, especially for the young, that this mode of instruction had ever been hit on, as there was a some. thing in it wonderfully calculated to touch a favourite string with them, i. e. novelty and surprise. They would listen, he said, to a fox, when they would not to a father, and they would be more apt to remember any thing good told them by an owl or a crow than by an uncle or an aunt. But I am afraid, continued his lordship, that the age of fables is past. Æsop and Phaedrus among the ancients, and Fontaine and Gay among the moderns, have given us so many fine speeches from the birds and beasts, that I suspect their budgets are pretty nearly exhausted.