Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 136

and most serious
attention." The House, however, by the management of a certain member,
took it up when I happen'd to be absent, which I thought not very
fair, and reprobated it without paying any attention to it at all, to
my no small mortification.




XV

QUARRELS WITH THE PROPRIETARY
GOVERNORS


In my journey to Boston this year, I met at New York with our new
governor, Mr. Morris, just arriv'd there from England, with whom I had
been before intimately acquainted. He brought a commission to
supersede Mr. Hamilton, who, tir'd with the disputes his proprietary
instructions subjected him to, had resign'd. Mr. Morris ask'd me if I
thought he must expect as uncomfortable an administration. I said,
"No; you may, on the contrary, have a very comfortable one, if you
will only take care not to enter into any dispute with the Assembly."
"My dear friend," says he, pleasantly, "how can you advise my avoiding
disputes? You know I love disputing; it is one of my greatest
pleasures; however, to show the regard I have for your counsel, I
promise you I will, if possible, avoid them." He had some reason for
loving to dispute, being eloquent, an acute sophister, and, therefore,
generally successful in argumentative conversation. He had been
brought up to it from a boy, his father, as I have heard, accustoming
his children to dispute with one another for his diversion, while
sitting at table after dinner; but I think the practice was not wise;
for, in the course of my observation, these disputing, contradicting,
and confuting people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They
get victory sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be of
more use to them. We parted, he going to Philadelphia, and I to
Boston.

In returning, I met at New York with the votes of the Assembly, by
which it appear'd that, notwithstanding his promise to me, he and the
House were already in high contention; and it was a continual battle
between them as long as he retain'd the government. I had my share of
it; for, as soon as I got back to my seat in the Assembly, I was put
on every committee for answering his speeches and messages, and by the
committees always desired to make the drafts. Our answers, as well as
his messages, were often tart, and sometimes indecently abusive; and,
as he knew I wrote for the Assembly, one might have imagined that,
when we met, we could hardly avoid cutting throats; but he was so
good-natur'd a man that no personal difference between him and me was
occasion'd by the

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