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Letter from London to a Gentleman in Philadelphia



I have been with Doctor Franklin. I find the storm against him has much abated; though I believe he has not in the least remitted his attention to the interests of his much injured country. However quiet in appearance, I am very anxious to hear what reception the latter wanton strokes of Government here have met with in America, particularly that detestable Quebec Bill, which is so evidently intended as a bridle on the Northern Colonies. That Act is looked upon in the most unfavourable light here of any of them; as, for want of making proper distinctions, the violent proceedings of the Boston mob are too generally deemed a sufficient justification of the others, and have afforded the Ministry a pretence, which, I am persuaded, they much wished for, of introducing an armed force into America, and such other measures as are undoubtedly aimed at establishing the right of taxation in the legislation here; and if not firmly opposed, will certainly do it through America. Of what importance, then, is the present conduct of America? If the people here are not made to feel the importance, all is over in that way. The late measures will be looked on as justified by their success; and the venal crew, at present termed the Representatives of Britain, will probably be again generally returned at the general election next spring, to finish the remains of American liberty. Here, indeed, there is but little more than the form of it; where, by exorbitant taxes, the very means are afforded their rulers of riveting their chains, by giving the constitutional sanction. I never felt a stronger attachment to our own cause, than since my arrival here, and ardently wish that such counsels may prevail, as, without introducing anarchy, may preserve our just rights.

I find here many who warmly interest themselves in our favour; and entertain a hope, that when luxury and corruption shall gain an entire conquest over virtue and liberty, in this once happy Kingdom, they or their descendants may find an asylum in America, where the genius of Liberty shall reign triumphant.

A few days ago I spent an hour or two very agreeably with Granville Sharp, Esquire, to whom I had been introduced. He appears to me to be a very uncommon character, and exceedingly assiduous in the application of uncommon talents for the benefit of his fellow creatures. He tells me he has now in the press, an Examination into the Rights of the Colonies, which are so flagrantly infringed by the late Acts of Parliament. He is warmly on our


side; and as his pieces trace the arguments ab origine, by which he has answered all the arguments commonly adduced against us, I am in hopes it will have a good effect. He holds a place in the Ordnance, which this publication may probably cost him; but he appears to prefer the discharge of duty to every other consideration. One such advocate, acting from principle, is preferable to the loudest brawler of the venal tribe. Sir Henry Banks is dead, and succeeded in the Aldermanship by — Haley, a New England merchant, brother-in-law to Wilkes. It is proposed to make him Representative of London in Parliament, in the room of Trecothick, whose state of health will not admit of his continuance in that station.

Doctor Franklin was obliging enough to call on me this afternoon. From what he communicated I find that the intention of taxing all America is openly avowed by the Ministry. They have already begun, by high duties on spirits in Canada, and have ordered a regiment to be raised there; determining, as the Doctor well expressed it, not only to rivet their chains, but make them pay for the iron to do it with.