Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 162

omitted answering the message.

When this act, however, came over, the proprietaries, counseled by
Paris, determined to oppose its receiving the royal assent.
Accordingly they petitioned the king in Council, and a hearing was
appointed in which two lawyers were employed by them against the act,
and two by me in support of it. They alleged that the act was intended
to load the proprietary estate in order to spare those of the people,
and that if it were suffered to continue in force, and the
proprietaries, who were in odium with the people, left to their mercy
in proportioning the taxes, they would inevitably be ruined. We
replied that the act had no such intention, and would have no such
effect; that the assessors were honest and discreet men under an oath
to assess fairly and equitably, and that any advantage each of them
might expect in lessening his own tax by augmenting that of the
proprietaries was too trifling to induce them to perjure themselves.

This is the purport of what I remember as urged by both sides, except
that we insisted strongly on the mischievous consequences that must
attend a repeal, for that the money, one hundred thousand pounds,
being printed and given to the king's use, expended in his service,
and now spread among the people, the repeal would strike it dead in
their hands to the ruin of many, and the total discouragement of
future grants; and the selfishness of the proprietors in soliciting
such a general catastrophe, merely from a groundless fear of their
estate being taxed too highly, was insisted on in the strongest terms.

On this, Lord Mansfield, one of the counsel, rose, and beckoning me,
took me into the clerk's chamber, while the lawyers were pleading, and
asked me if I was really of opinion that no injury would be done the
proprietary estate in the execution of the act. I said, "Certainly."
"Then," says he, "you can have little objection to enter into an
engagement to assure that point." I answered, "None at all." He then
called in Paris, and after some discourse, his lordship's proposition
was accepted on both sides; a paper to the purpose was drawn up by the
clerk of the Council, which I signed with Mr. Charles, who was also an
agent of the province for their ordinary affairs, when Lord Mansfield
returned to the council chamber, where finally the law was allowed to
pass. Some changes were, however, recommended, and we also engaged
they should be made by a subsequent law, but the Assembly did not
think them necessary; for one year's

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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coloured 1 6 Portraits of Curious Characters in London, &c.
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'It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time to be employed in its service: but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing.
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There are no gains without pains; then help hands, for I have no lands;" or if I have, they are smartly taxed.
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" And farther, "What maintains one vice, would bring up two children.
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Perhaps they have had a small estate left them, which they knew not the getting of; they think "it is day, and will never be night:" that a little to be spent out of so much is not worth minding; but "Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom," as Poor Richard says; and then, "When the well is dry, they know the worth of water.
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"--What would you think of that prince, or of that government, who should issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentlewoman, on pain of imprisonment or servitude? Would you not say that you were free, have a right to dress as you please, and that such an edict would be a breach of your privileges, and such a government tyrannical? And.
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Remember, Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous.
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* * * * * Transcriber's Notes: Only the most obvious and clear punctuation errors repaired.