« ПретходнаНастави »
were calculated to throw our author's exertions upon this point into the shade ; but, in a cool review of facts, there can be little doubt that Great Britain was, and is, indebted to him for the possession of Canada. With the first William Pitt he could not at this time obtain any personal interview. " I considered him as an inaccessible,” he says; “ I admired him at a distance, and (after some failures) made no more attempts for a nearer acquaintance.” But through his secretaries, Messrs Potter and Wood, who cultivated our author's acquaintance, that great minister was very happy to receive his suggestions, and frequently mentions his high opinion of him.
He pressed upon government the relative situation of the Indians with regard to the English and French possessions, and urged that so long as the arts and arms of France were aided by the local knowledge, and were perpetually fostering the ill will, of the native tribes, our western frontiers would always be exposed to predatory warfare, and that the French had been encroaching upon our colonies from their first settlement in the country
Mr Pitt is said to have been “ determined, by the simple accuracy of his statements,” to undertake the expedition, which, it is unnecessary to say, was so ably executed by the lamented Wolfe. It is singular that Franklin should thus have been connected first with events that more completely humbled the French power abroad, than any other occurrence of the last century; and that he should subsequently live to wield the power of France for the equally decided humiliation of Great Britain.
In the year 1760, upon the prospect of a peace with France, he engaged in a controversy on the relative importance of Great Britain retaining Guadaloupe or Canada, a subject upon which lord Bath had previously addressed a letter to two great men. Our author's reasoning on this occasion was, that the security of a dominion is a justifiable and prudent ground upon which to demand cession from an enemy; that
the erection of forts on the western frontier had been by no means a sufficient security against the Indians and the French; but that the possession of Canada would be, and ought therefore to be had while it was in our power ;
that the blood and treasure spent in the American war, were not spent in the cause of the colonies alone; and that the French remaining in Canada was an encouragement to the disaffected in the colonies. He was always remarkable for strengthening his arguments by matters of fact. In stating the advantages to the mother-country arising from her increasing trade with the colonies, he instances that which was then carrying on with Pennsylvania alone, and quotes the following table of its amazingly rapid increase:-An Account of the Value of the Exports from Eng
land to Pennsylvania, in one Year, taken at different periods.
d. In 1723 they amounted only to 15,992 19 4 1730 they were
48,592 g 5 1737.
82,404 17 7 1752 .
201,666 19 11 1757 .
268,426 6 6 Dr Franklin visited Scotland during his stay in Great Britain at this time ; but we have no other record of his journey into that country, than his being greeted with the honorary title of doctor of laws by the university of St Andrews.
At this period too the government of New Jersey happening to fall vacant, the minister, without any solicitation on his part, conferred it on the doctor's eldest son.
Our author returned to America in the summer of 1762, relieving the tedium of the voyage by making observations on the well known effect of oil in calming sea-water. This he at first considered, with many
others, as inexplicable ; but he could not rest without attempting to trace the cause—which he finally considered to be, that oil spreads upon water to an inconceivable thinness, and becomes instrumental in preventing the formation of waves: whence air in motion, which is wind, in passing over the smooth surface of such water, cannot easily catch upon it, so as to raise the first wrinkles or waves; but slides over and leaves it smooth as it finds it. This subject he canvassed in two or three ingenious papers, which are too well known to need insertion here.
On his arrival, Dr Franklin received the thanks of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, “as well for the faithful discharge of his duty to that province in particular, as for the many and important services done to America in general, during his residence in Great Britain.” A compensation of 5000l. Pennsylvania currency was also decreed him for his services during six years.
He had been regularly elected during his absence a member of the Assembly.
In the December of this year, a circumstance exciting considerable local alarm took place in Pennsylvania, and again called forth both the pen and active efforts of Dr Franklin. A considerable body of Indians had taken up their abode in the county of Lancaster, and lived very peaceably amongst the white inhabitants, until the depredations of the native tribes on the frontiers was made the pretext for a vow, on the part of a great number of the latter, to extirpate their unoffending black neighbours. About one hundred and twenty persons, principally inhabitants of Donegal and Peckstang or Paxton townships, in the county of York, assembled, mounted on horseback, and proceeded to the settlement of these harmless and defenceless Indians, whose number had now been reduced to about twenty. The Indians received intelligence of the attack which was intended against them, but disbelieved it. Considering the white people as their friends, they apprehended no danger
from them. When the party arrived at the Indian settlement, they found only some women and children, and a few old men, the rest being absent at work. They murdered all whom they found, and amongst others the chief Shaheas, who had been always distinguished for his friendship to the whites. This bloody deed excited much indignation in the well-disposed part of the community.
The remainder of these unfortunate Indians, who by absence had escaped the massacre, were conducted to Lancaster, and lodged in the gaol as a place of security. The governor issued a proclamation, expressing the strongest disapprobation of the action, offering a reward for the discovery of the perpetrators of the deed, and prohibiting all injuries to the peaceful Indians in future: but, notwithstanding this, a party of the same men shortly after marched to Lancaster, broke open the gaol, and inhumanly butchered the innocent Indians who had been placed there for security. Another proclamation was issued, but it had no effect. A detachment marched down to Philadelphia, for the express purpose of murdering some friendly Indians who had been removed to the city for safety. A number of the citizens armed in their defence. The Quakers, whose principles are opposed to fighting, even in their own defence, were most active upon this occasion. The rioters came to Germantown. The governor fled for safety to the house of Dr Franklin, who with some others ad. vanced to meet the Paxton boys, as they were called, and had influence enough to prevail upon them to relinquish their undertaking, and return to their homes*.
In the following year the old disputes between the assemblies and the proprietaries were again revived. The governor refused to pass the militia bill, unless the Assembly would agree to certain amendments which he proposed for increasing the fines, and in some cases substituting death for fines. He desired * Dr Stuber's Narrative.
also that the officers should be appointed altogether by himself, and not be nominated by the people, as the bill had proposed : amendments which the Assembly considered as inconsistent with their liberties, and respecting which neither party agreeing, the bill was never carried. Franklin on this occasion ad. dressed the freemen of Pennsylvania on the subject of a militia bill rejected by the proprietors' deputy or governor.
Shortly after, the Assembly resolved upon petitioning the throne to take the government of the province out of the hands of the proprietors, making such compensation to the Penn family as to his majesty's wisdom and goodness might appear just and equitable. This formidable proposal did not pass the house without rousing the most strenuous opposition on the part of all the proprietary interest and its connexions. Speeches for and against the measure were published, and republished in England. Dr Franklin wrote a preface to the speech of Joseph Galloway, esq., one of the members of Philadelphia county, in which he says that the celebrated William Penn hiinself, sensible of the inconvenience of a proprietary government, and being desirous of leaving his people happy, had “ determined to take it away, if possible, during his own lifetime;" that he accordingly entered into a contract for the sale of the proprietary right of government to the crown, and actually received a sum of money in part of the consideration. “Surely," continues Franklin," he that framed our constitution must have understood it. If he had imagined that all our privileges depended on the proprietary government, will any one suppose that he would himself have meditated the change ? that he would have taken such effectual measures, as he thought them, to bring it about speedily, whether he should live or die? Will any one of those who now extol him so highly, charge him at the same time with the baseness of endeavouring thus to defraud his people of all the liberties and privileges he had pro