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[498] present only as the person delivering the Petition of
Chap. LI.} 1774. Jan.
a great and loyal Colony. Meantime the gray-haired Franklin, whom Kant, the noblest philosopher of that age, had called the modern Prometheus, stood conspicuously erect, confronting his vilifier and the Privy Council, compelled to listen while calumny, in the service of lawless force, aimed a death-blow at his honor, and his virtues called on God and man to see how unjustly he suffered.

The reply of Dunning, who was very ill and was fatigued by standing so long,1 could scarcely be heard; and that of Lee produced no impression. There was but one place in England where fit reparation could be made; and there was but one man who had the eloquence and the courage and the weight of character to effect the atonement. For the present, Franklin must rely on the approval of the monitor within his own breast. ‘I have never been so sensible of the power of a good conscience,’ said he to Priestley; ‘for if I had not considered the thing for which I have been so much insulted, as one of the best actions of my life, and what I should certainly do again in the same circumstances, I could not have supported it.’ But it was not to him, it was to the people of Massachusetts, and to New England, and to all America, that the insult was offered through their Agent.

Franklin and Wedderburn parted; the one to spread the celestial fire of freedom among men; to

1 On this hearing, besides the newspaper reports of the day, the accounts by witnesses are: The pamphlet of Mauduit and Wedderburn; Franklin's Report as Agent to his Constituents; Account left by Franklin; Edmund Burke as Agent of New-York to his Constituents, Feb. 1774; Same to Rockingham; Same to Charles Lee; Dartmouth to Hutchinson; Arthur Lee to Samuel Adams, 31 January, 1774; Letter of Priestly, 10 Nov. 1802; Observations of Edward Bancroft.

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