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THESE five years were in many respects the most glorious and the most important in English history. At last the long series of disasters which had overwhelmed the royal armies had ended. Since the day the Great Commoner took the post of secretary, victory had followed victory with amazing rapidity. In July, 1758, Louisburg surrendered; then Cape Breton fell; and the great French fleet, the terror of the coast, was annihilated. Scarcely had the captured standards been hung in St. Paul's when 1759 opened, and the nation heard with delight of the conquest of Goree; of the fall of Guadaloupe, Ticonderoga, and Niagara; of the capture of Quebec. Before 1760 closed Montreal capitulated; the arms of England were triumphant in Canada, in India, on the sea, and the old king died.
With the accession of the new king arose a cry for peace. The Tories, with George III. at their head, were clamorous for peace on any
terms. The Whigs, with Pitt at their head, were for a vigorous prosecution of the war; and no Pittite believed more firmly in this policy than Franklin, and believing in it he wrote in its defense.
He pretended that, while ransacking the old book-stalls, he had found a book printed at London in 1629. The cover was gone; the titlepage was wanting. But he believed the work was written by a Jesuit, and addressed to some king of Spain. Reading it over, he was struck to see how aptly the remarks in one of the chapters applied to present affairs. It was the thirty-fourth, and bore the heading, "On the Meanes of disposing the Enemie to Peace." War, the Jesuit said, with whatsoever prudence carried on, did not always succeed. The best designs were often overthrown by famine, pestilence, and storm; so that enemies at first weak became by these helps strong, made conquests, and, puffed with success, refused to make peace but on their own harsh terms. Yet it was possible by dexterous management to get back all that had been lost by the cross accidents of war. If the minds of the enemy could only be changed, they would often give up, willingly and for nothing, more than could be obtained by force. Now this change of mind, particularly in England, might be se
cured by the distribution of a few doubloons. There were many men of learning, ingenious speakers and able writers, who, despite their ability, were pinched by fortune and of low estate. A little money would gain them, and, once gained, let them be bidden, in sermons, speeches, poems, songs, and essays, to enlarge mightily on the blessings of peace. Let them dwell on the horrors of war, on the waste of blood and treasure, on commerce destroyed, on ships captured, on taxes greatly increased, on the smallness and sickliness of the captured places, and on the great cost to the country if they be not given back. Let this be done, and the simple, undiscerning many will be quickly carried away by the plausible arguments. Then will rich men having property to be taxed, merchants having ships to lose, officers of the army and navy who wish to enjoy their pay in quiet, unite in one great cry for peace. Then will peace be made, and places lost to the enemy by the accidents of war be willingly restored.
The letter attracted much attention at the time, and found its way into the Gentlemen's Magazine. But the king's friends carried the day and the French and Indian war ended. France was indeed defeated, but she was not conquered. To hold everything taken from her was therefore impossible, and the question be
INTERESTS OF GREAT BRITAIN CONSIDERED. 171
came, What shall be given up? Shall it be Canada or Guadaloupe? Shall it be the conquest in America or the conquest in the Indies? The Earl of Bath, in a "Letter to Two Great Men on the Prospect of Peace," was for keeping Canada. William Burke, in his "Remarks on the Letter addressed to Two Great Men," was for keeping Guadaloupe. The author of "The Interest of Great Britain considered with regard to her Colonies " supported the Earl of Bath. Who was the author remained long in doubt. Benjamin Mecom at once reprinted the pamphlet, and ascribed it to Franklin. Franklin during his lifetime was heard to say that in writing it he had been greatly helped by a friend. There is now no doubt that this friend was Richard Jackson, the agent of Pennsylvania and Connecticut in England, that he did most of the work and that Franklin made most of the suggestions. Indeed, it now appears from the manuscripts at Washington that in 1780 a correspondence took place on the subject between Dr. Priestley, Baron Meseres, and the editor of an unknown magazine. The letters of Priestley are gone; but those of Meseres and the editor are preserved, and in them the particular paragraphs Franklin wrote are marked out. Meseres, who had his information from Jackson, ascribes to Franklin all the notes and less than
one third the text. He declares also that the lines printed in italics at the heads of the paragraphs ought not to be there, but in the margin as notes.
The pamphlet went through two editions at London and two at Boston, and called forth a long reply. But the answer availed nothing. The Treaty of Paris was signed, and Canada was not given up.
Franklin in the mean while went back to Philadelphia. There for a time he seems to have thought of quitting politics, living at his ease, building a fine house, and passing his time in studying electricity and writing a work on the "Art of Virtue." Had he done so, the book would, unquestionably, have been very ingenious and very amusing, would have abounded in apt illustrations, sound maxims, wit, and good stories well told; but it would have done as little for the encouragement of virtue as the three books of Seneca have done for the suppression of anger.
From such a fate he was happily saved by` being again drawn into politics. The rejoicing that followed the Peace of Paris had not had time to die away when the country heard with horror of that great Indian uprising known to history as the Conspiracy of Pontiac. Scarcely had the trees put forth their