« PreviousContinue »
Franklin laid the whole matter before the Assembly, accompanying his statement, however, with a series of resolutions, drawn up by himself, setting forth the rights of the province, and declaring them suspended by force, against which they entered a solemn protest; and then, dropping the bill already passed and rejected, another bill, so framed as not to clash with the instructions, was passed by the Assembly and signed by the governor.
Thus, from the resources of his own mind, and through the legitimate influence he had acquired in the Assembly by his abilities and weight of character, Franklin arranged this difficult and troublesome affair in such manner as not to concede any provincial right, and at the same time enable the provincial authorities to meet the public exigency, now become, from the temper and movements of the Indians on the frontier, very pressing and full of danger to the back settlements.
But while thus detained at Philadelphia in performing a public service at once so arduous, patriotic, and loyal, the ship, in which he had engaged a passage for England, sailed, taking with it the stores he had provided for himself at no trifling expense, and for the loss of which his only compensation was thanks for his services from Lord Loudon, to whom nevertheless accrued all the reputation of adjusting the difficulties which occasioned the loss, and of putting the wheels of government again in motion very fair specimen of the sense of justice usually entertained by mother-countries and their great functionaries toward the native subjects of their colonial dependencies.
Lord Loudon, upon seeing the object of his visit to Philadelphia thus accomplished, returned immediately to New York; and in a day or two later Franklin followed, that he might take the next packet for England, which, as his lordship, to whose orders it was subject, had assured him would sail on the Monday then next to come.
LORD LOUDON'S CHARACTER.
Indecision and procrastination, however, were the most prominent features of Lord Loudon's character; and April, May, and much of June, went by, before the despatches he wished to send to England were ready, though promised almost daily during that long period; thus occasioning to Franklin not only great annoyance, but at least equal surprise that so inefficient a man should be intrusted with such high duties, as those which then
pertained to the commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in America. The character of Loudon, however, was soon understood by Pitt the elder, who then wielded the power of the British empire, and who, distinguished as he was for executive ability and vigor, could not long tolerate so dilatory and inefficient an agent, but speedily recalled him, to make way for the far abler and more active men, Lord Amherst and General Wolfe.
The character of Lord Loudon, as a public man, can not be more pithily described than it is in an anecdote related by Franklin. While lingering in New York as stated, he met a messenger from Philadelphia, named Innis, who had just come on with a packet from Governor Denny to Loudon, who told him to call the next morning for his answer. Two weeks after, Franklin again met Innis, and was told by him that he had called every morning on Lord Loudon for the promised reply, and it was not even yet ready. “Is it possible, when he writes so much, and is always at his desk ?" said Franklin. “ Yes,” said Innis, “ but he is like the St. George on the signs, always on horseback and never riding on.”
At length, however, about the middle of June, the packet sailed, with Loudon's despatches and Franklin on board, and reached Falmouth, in the south of England, on the morning of the 17th of July, 1757. As the ship neared the English coast, at about twelve o'clock of the preceding night, she was, through the heedlessness
of the man on the lookout, in extreme peril of being wrecked on the rocks of Scilly, lying out in the sea off Land's-End, and suggesting the idea that they were once connected with that most southwesterly point of the Eng. lish coast. The escape was narrow and the peril great; and the impression thereby made on Franklin's mind is abundantly evinced by the following passage from a letter to his wife, giving an account of the voyage, and written at Falmouth in the evening of the day on which he landed: “The bell ringing for church,” says he, we went thither immediately, and, with hearts full of gratitude, returned thanks to God for the mercies we had received. Were I a Roman Catholic, perhaps I should, on this occasion, vow to build a chapel to some saint ; but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a lighthouse.”
AND HER STUDIES-POLITICAL ABUSE-PENNSYLVANIA'S SHARE OF INDEMNITY MONEY FROM PARLIAMENT.
BEFORE entering upon the narration of Franklin's life and services in England, as the agent of Pennsylvania, it will be proper to give a brief view of the reasons for sending him thither. These reasons are well set forth in a report, dated the 22d of February, 1757, drawn up by himself as chairman of the Assembly's committee on grievances. They are founded on alleged violations of the grant made by King Charles II. to William Penn; of Penn's own charter based on that grant, and defining the forms of government under which the province was settled; of certain fundamental laws of the province made pursuant to that charter; and finally of some of the principles and provisions of the constitution and laws of the mother-country most essential to civil liberty and justice, and from the protection of which, British subjects, wherever dwelling, could not be rightfully excluded by the king or his grantees.
The royal grant, which was justly regarded by the colonists as the basis of the provincial constitution, and not to be violated or modified by the grantee or his successors, gave to“ William Penn, his heirs and assigns, and to his and their deputies,” full power to make laws, “according to their best discretion, by and with the advice, assent, and approbation, of the freemen of the
province or their delegates, for the good and happy government thereof,” including “ the raising of money, or any other end appertaining to the public state, peace, or safety,” of the commonwealth thus to be constituted.
This broad provision of the king's grant, it was held, precluded all those instructions which had occasioned so much trouble, controversy, and impediment to the public business, not only because it was absolutely binding on the deputy-governors as well as their principals the Proprietaries, but also because such instructions were wholly incompatible with that “best discretion” which they were bound to exercise, and this, too, in conjunction with the co-ordinate "advice, assent, and approbation," of the people of the province, as expressed by their representatives, in whom, it was maintained, the grant had vested "an original right of legislation, which neither the Proprietaries nor any other person could divest, restrain, or abridge, without violating and destroying the letter, spirit, and design, of the grant."
The obnoxious instructions, therefore, were a manifest encroachment on the vested rights of the people, as well as on the legal and proper discretion of the governor ; and to such an extent had they restrained and abridged just legislation, that no bill to raise supplies for the public service, howsoever “reasonable, expedient, or necessary" it might be, for the welfare and protection of the province, could be made a law, unless on complying with ihe instructions by wholly exempting the estates of the Proprietaries from their equal rateable assessments though they constituted by far the largest private interest in the province, and would be proportionately bene