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doomed to be hung. It was deemed a bribe which human virtue could not resist.
“As it is unreasonable that their (the American patriots) services to their country should deprive them of those advantages which their talents would otherwise have gained them, the following persons shall have offices or pensions for life, at their option, namely, Franklin, Washington, Adams, Hancock, etc. In case his Majesty, or his successors, should ever create American peers, then those persons, or their descendants, shall be among the first created if they choose it."
Franklin, after conference with his colleagues, replied to the letter. His soul was all on fire with the insults our country had received, and the wrongs she had endured. He wrote as if personally addressing the king. We can only give the concluding paragraph. After stating that the independence of America was secured, that all attempts of England to prevent it would be impotent, and that consequently it was quite a matter of indifference to the Americans whether England acknowledged it or not, he wrote,*
* In reference to the promises contained in the letter, Franklin referred to a book which it was said George III. had carefully studied, called Arcana Imperii. A prince, to appease a revolt, had promised indemnity to the revolters. The question was submitted to the
“ This proposition, of delivering ourselves bound and gagged, ready for hanging, without even a right to complain, and without a friend to be found afterward among all mankind, you would have us embrace upon the faith of an Act of Parliament. Good God! an act of your Parliament. This demonstrates that you do not yet know us; and that you fancy that we do not know you. But it is not merely this flimsy faith that we are to act upon. You offer us hope, the hope of PLACES, PENSIONS and PEERAGES.
“These, judging from yourselves, you think are motives irresistible. This offer to corrupt us, sir, is with me, your credential ; and convinces me that you are not a private volunteer in your application. It bears the stamp of British Court character. It is even the signature of your king. But think, for a moment, in what light it must be viewed in America.
“ By PLACES, you mean places among us; for you take care, by a special article, to secure your own to yourselves. We must then pay the salaries in order to enrich ourselves with those places. But you will give us PENSIONS, probably to be paid too
keepers of the king's conscience, whether he were bound to keep his promises. The reply was,
“No! It was right to make the promises, because the revolt could not otherwise be suppressed. It would be wrong to keep them, because revolters ought to be punished."
out of your expected American revenue, and which none of us can accept without deserving, and perhaps obtaining, suspension.
“PEERAGES! Alas! in our long observation of the vast servile majority of your peers, voting constantly for every measure proposed by a minister, however weak or wicked, leaves us small respect for that title. We consider it as a sort of tar-andfeather honor, or a mixture of foulness and folly, which every man among us, who should accept it from your king, would be obliged to renounce, or exchange for that confessed by the mobs of their own country, or wear it with everlasting infamy." *
In the spring of 1778, Paul Jones entered upon his brilliant career, bidding defiance, with his infant fleet, to all the naval power of Great Britain, agitating entire England with the terror of his name. Franklin was his affectionate friend, and, in all his many trials, he leaned upon Franklin for sympathy. So tremendously was he maligned by the English press, that American historians, unconsciously thus influenced, have never done him justice. As a patriot, and a noble man, he deserves to take rank with his friends, Washington and Franklin.
In 1779, Lafayette, returning to France, from America, brought the news that Franklin was ap
* Sparks' Franklin, vol. iii, p. 278.