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Q. Is there a power on earth that can force them to erase them?
A. No power, how great soever, can force men to change their opinions.
Q. Do they consider the post-office as a tax, or as a regulation?
A. Not as a tax, but as a regulation and conveniency; every assembly encouraged it, and supported it in its infancy, by grants of money, which they would not otherwise have done; and the people have always paid the postage.
Q. When did you receive the instructions you mentioned?
A. I brought them with me, when I came to England, about fifteen months since.
Q. When did you communicate that instruction to the minister?
A. Soon after my arrival,---while the stamping of America was under consideration, and before the bill was brought in.
Q. Would it be most for the interest of Great Britain, to employ the hands of Virginia in tobacco, or in manufactures?
A. In tobacco, to be sure.
Q. What used to be the pride of the Americans?
A. To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain.
Q. What is now their pride?
A. To wear their old clothes over again, till they can make new ones.
Attempts of Dr. Franklin for Conciliation of Great Britain with the Colonies*.
London, Nov. 28, 1768.
I RECEIVED your obliging favour of the 19th instant. Your sentiments of the importance of the present dispute between Great Britain and the colonies, appear to me extremely just. There 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 aş 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. R. 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 meeting 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 22d instant mine was at 28, 41, and yet the weather fine and fair.
With sincere esteem, I am, dear friend,
Queries from Mr. Strahan.
TO DR. FRANKLIN *.
Nov. 21, 1769.
IN the many conversations we have had together about our present disputes with North America, we perfectly agreed 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 correspondent, 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 between Mr. Strahan and Dr. Franklin, the latter, in 1775, formally 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 servants have now in contemplation. 1st. 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 inquestion, and am as fully convinced of your cordial attachment 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 my 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 colonists*? 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 wamade with respect to the home customs or excise upon certain teas, in the hope that a deduction 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 home duty, determines that the Americans had suffered no
2d. Your reasons for that opinion?
3d. Do you think the only effectual 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?---If that is your opinion,
4th. Your reasons for that opinion?
5th. If this last method is deemed by the legislature, and his majesty's ministers, to be repugnant to their duty, as guardians of the just rights of the crown, 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.