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Franklin's arduous exertions during the pendency of the stamp-act question, not only in the long and exciting examination before the house of commons, but in urging upon ministers and other leading men, in personal interviews as well as private correspondence, and upon the public through the press, the multifarious considerations which ought to insure the repeal of the obnoxious act, seriously impaired his health. Writing to his wife on the 13th of June, 1766, he says : “I wrote you that I had been very ill lately. I am now nearly well again, but feeble. To-morrow I set out with my friend Dr. Pringle (now Sir John) on a journey to Pyrmont, where he goes to drink the waters.” Franklin having, the year before, omitted taking one of his customary annual journeys, had felt the bad effect of that omission on his health very sensibly, as he thought, during the preceding winter and spring; and in this excursion to the continent he looked for benefit, not to the waters his friend was seeking, but to the exercise of travel, the change of air, new scenes, and more agreeable and varied forms of mental

entertainment. He was absent about two months, and spent the time chiefly in Hanover and the north of Germany. Wherever he went he was received with distinguished attention by the learned; for his fame had been long spread throughout Europe, and his merits as a philosopher were more highly and therefore more justly appreciated on the continent than in Great Britain. No details of this journey are to be found among his writings ; but there is a letter, in Latin, from Professor Hartman, of the university of Gottingen, received by Franklin some months afterward, which well exemplifies the exalted esteem in which he was held by the learned Germans. The professor speaks of the great pleasure with which he recollected the day on which he first saw and conversed with him; of his deep regret at not having been able then to show him any new experiments in electricity worthy of his attention; that the prince Schwartzenburg of Rudolstadt, (who corresponded with the professor,) on hearing of Franklin's visit to Germany, had expressed his earnest wish to become personally acquainted with him, and for that purpose had sent a learned friend to Gottingen with his salutations, who arrived the very day of Franklin's departure; that as the prince had requested of the professor directions for the most proper form of the lightning-rod, which he wished to introduce into his own territories, the professor solicited from Franklin his most matured views on that point; that as he contemplated writing a complete history of electricity, and as there was no name connected with that subject so great as Franklin's, he begged of him an account of his first experiments and discoveries; that he relied on Franklin's goodness to excuse so bold a request; that compliance with it would give him great happiness, and that he should always be glad of any op portunity to promote his wishes.

VIEWS OF LORD KAMES.

419

Franklin, on his return to England, upon this second mission, having renewed his correspondence with Lord Kames, received a letter, written a little before the examination in the house of commons, in which that liberal-minded nobleman expressed his views very freely on the American question. The general accordance of those views with his own gratified Franklin exceedingly, but he saw mingled with them several mistakes, derived from the English press, concerning some important facts ; and to set his friend right, he sent, with his reply, a report of the examination mentioned. In his reply he observed also that it had become particularly important that “clear ideas should be formed on solid principles, both in Britain and America, of the true political relation between them, and the mutual duties belonging to that relation ;” and he therefore urged his lordship to consider the subject deliberately and fully, as, from his high judicial position, his abilities, and impartiality, he was peculiarly well qualified to render the nation very great service. It seems that Lord Kames had, in his letter, expressed himself in favor of such a union between the two countries as should give the colonies their just proportion of representatives in Parliament. To this view Franklin, in his reply, fully assents, (it was, indeed, as we have seen, one he had long held,) as “the only firm basis on which the political grandeur and prosperity of the empire could be founded;" that the colonies would once have gladly adopted it, but had now become indifferent to it, and, if much longer delayed, would reject it; that the pride of England would delay it, and it would never take effect. He adds: “Every man in England seems to consider himself as a piece of a sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the throne with the king, and talks of our subjects in the colonies. The Parliament can not well and wisely make laws suited to the colonies, without being properly and truly informed of their circumstances, ability, temper, &c. This it can not be, without representatives from them; and yet it (Parliament] is fond of this power, and averse to the only means of acquiring the necessary knowledge for exercising it; which is desiring to be omnipotent without being omniscient.In the course of his letter, which is long and able, he sketches the history of the colonies ; exposes the gross mistake, which had become quite common in England, that they had been planted and fostered by Parliament, whereas, they were planted solely at the expense and risk of private persons, with the assent of the king and under charters from him; and on those conditions consented to continue the king's subjects, though in a foreign country, which had not been conquered by England, to which she had no claim of any kind beyond the naked, abstract claim of discovery, and where there was no proprietorship in the soil except that of the colonists, who purchased, settled, defended, and enlarged their territories with their own individual means and at their own personal peril. In fact, Parliament had never been consulted on the subject, at any time or in any manner, either by colonist or king, and had never noticed the colonies at all, until long after they had thus become established, and began to present temptations to the covetousness of wealth and power— to promise advantages to the commerce of the mother-country, and aggrandizement to her ambitious statesmen and their partisans. The colonists, having taken their charters from the king, and having thus acknowledged allegiance to him as their common sovereign, with the express right of legislating upon their own internal affairs in their own Assemblies, made up of representatives chosen by themselves, associated with governors and judges representing the executive and judicial authority of the king, they

TRUE POLITICAL RELATIONS OF THE COLONIES.

421

constituted, in truth, so many separate states, acknowledging one common sovereign, indeed, but as independent of the people of England and their legislative representatives, as they were of each other, or as were the people of Scotland prior to their union, or as the people of Ireland and of Hanover then were.

In short, the people of America, in their respective colonies, stood on the same footing of equality with the people of England, being subjects of the same king, but having their own separate constitutions, that is to say, their charters, which secured to them, in express terms, the right of legislating for themselves by representatives of their own choice, and managing their own affairs in all respects independently of the representatives of their English fellow-subjects; and whatever powers the king himself possessed, were vested in him, in point of fact, by their own consent, through the charters they held from him, and by all those parts of the British constitution itself which limited or in any way affected the royal prerogative. This was the broad and free basis of equal rights on which Franklin and other eminent American patriots, but he among the first and most influential of them all, placed the colonies; on which the people of those colonies, under such guidance, fast rallied; and on which they stood with unshaken firmness, at the ultimate peril of “ their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor."

At the time now spoken of, however, though Franklin and some of his great compatriots were resolved to maintain the ground described, at every hazard, yet none of them had yet begun to broach the doctrine of absolute independence. They thought not merely that the colonies were not yet strong enough for a total rupture with the mother-country, but that their connection might still be rendered more useful to America, as well as to Brit

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