Page images

the vent of griefs. Wise governments have therefore generally 'received petitions with some indulgence, even when but slightly founded. Those who think themselves injured by their rulers, are sometimes, by a mild and prudent answer, convinced of their errour. But where complaining is a crime, hope becomes despair.

The day following I received a written notice from the secretary of the general post-office, that his' majesty's post-master general found it necessary to dismiss me from my office of deputy--post-master general in North America. The expression was well chosen, for in truth they Were under a necessity of doing it ; it was not their own inclination ;

i they had no fault to find with my conduct in the office ; .they knew my merit in it, and that if it was now an office of value, it had become such chiefly through my care and good management; that it was worth nothing, when given to me ; it would not then pay the salary allowed me, and unless it did, I was not to expect it ; and that it now produces near £3000 a year clear to the treasury here. They had beside a per. sonal regard for me. But as the post-offices in all the principal towns are growing daily more and more valuable by the increase of corres. pondence, the officers being paid commissions instead of salaries) the ministers seem to intend by directing me to be displaced on this occasion, to hold out to them all an example, that if they are not corrupted by their office to promote the measures of administration, though against the interest and rights of the colonies, they must not expect to be continued. This is the first act for extending the influence of government in this branch : But as orders have been some time since given to the American post-master general, who used to have the disposition of all places under them, not to fill vacancies of value, till notice of such vacancies had been sent hither, and instructions thereupon received from hence, it is plain that such influence is to be a part of the system, and probable that those vacancies will for the future be filled by officers from this country. How safe the correspondence of your Assemblycommittees along the continent will be through the hands of such officers, may now be worth consideration, especially as the post-office act of parliament, allows a post-master to open letters, if warranted so to do by the order of a secretary of state, and every provincial secretary may be deemed a secretary of state in his own province.

It is not yet known what steps will be taken by government with regard to the colonies, or to our province in particular. But as inquiries are making of all who come from thence, concerning the late riot, and the meetings that preceded it, and who were speakers and movers at those meetings, &c. I suspect there is some intention of seizing persons, and perhaps of sending them hither. But of this I have no certainty. No motion has yet been made in the biouse of commons concerning our affairs ; and that made in the house of lords was withdrawn for the present.

It is not likely, however that the session will pass over without some proceeding relating to us, though perhaps it is

s not yet settled what the measures shall be !

[ocr errors]

With my best wishes for the prosperity of the province, I have the honour to be,

[Sir, your most obedient,
and most humble servant,

Hon. Thomas Cushing, Esq. Speaker.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Mbat favours.

[ocr errors]

London, April 2, 1774.
Y last was of the 22d past, since which I have received none of

i i inentioned that the bill brought into parliament, for punishing Bos-
ton, met with no opposition. It did however meet with a little before
it got through, some few of the members speaking against it in the
house of commons, and more in the house of lords. It passed how-
ever by a very great majority in both, and received the royal assent
on Thursday the 31st past You will have a copy of it from Mr. Lee.

In mine of February 2d, I informed you that after the treatment I had received at the council board, it was not possible for me to act longer as your agent, apprehending I could as such be of no farther use to the province I have nevertbeless given what assistance I could as a private man, by speaking to members of both houses, and by joining in the petitions of the natives of America now happening to be in London, which were ably drawn by Mr. Lee, to be presented separately to the several branches of the legislature. They serve, though without other effect, to show our sentiments, and that we did not look on and let the act pass, without bearing our testimony against it. And indeed, though called petitions (for under another name they would not have been received) they are rather remonstrances and protests.

By the enclosed extract of a letter from Wakefield in Yorkshire to a friend of mine, you will see that the manufacturers begin to take the alarm. Another general non-importation agreement is apprehended by them, which would complete their ruin. But great pains are taken to quiet them with the idea, that Boston must immediately submit and acknowledge the claims of parliament, for that none of the other colonies will adhere to them. A number of the principal manufacturers from different parts of the kingdom are now in town, to oppose the new duty on foreign linens, which they fear may provoke the Germans to lay discouragements on British manufactures : They have desired me to meet and dine with them on Wednesday next, where I shall have an opportunity of learning their sentiments more fully, and communicating my own.

Some alterations of the constitution of the Massachusetts are now hotly talked of, though what they are to be seems hardly yet settled. One thing mentioned is the appointment of the council by mandamus,

[ocr errors]

Another, giving power to the governour to appoint magistrates without consent of council. Another, the abolishing of town meetings, or making it unlawful to hold them, till the business to be proposed has been certified to the governour, and his permission obtained. A motion has also been made in the house of commons, with a view to conciliate, as is said ; that all the duty acts should be revised, and in the revision and re-enacting, without formally or expressly repealing the tea duty (which would hurt the dignity of parliament) sink or omit it, and add an equal value in some of the coasting port duties ; and the tea duty, being thus taken out of the way, it is supposed will have the salutary effect of preventing the other colonies from making a common cause with ours Some advantages in trade are at the same time to be given to America for the same purpose, such as carrying wine and fruit directly from Spain and Portugal, without touching in England.

I send enclosed the proceedings of the lords on Wednesday, which show their zeal in the business, by appointing a committee to sit during the recess in the Easter holidays.?

With great esteem, I am,
Your most obedient humble servant,

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Hon. Thomas Cushing, Esq.


TELLFLEET is situated on the peninsula, called Cape Cod,

five miles ; by water, twenty leagues ; and from the Plymouth light, eight leagues. From the high lands, on the west part of the town, we discover in a clear day, with the naked eye, the high lands of Plymouth, Kingston, Duxborough, and Marshfield. The town is bounded by Eastham, south ; the Atlantick Ocean, east ; by Truro, north ; and Barnstable bay, west ; being seven miles in length, and four in breadth, from the high lands and Billinsgate Point which includes the harbour, west, to the waters on the east side of the town. The harbour is large, indented within with creeks, where vessels of seventy or eighty tons may lie safe. Large ships may lie safe in what is called the Deep Hole, near the town, or to the eastward of Billinsgate Point, in what is called the Horse-Shoe, five miles from the head of the harbour. Without Billinsgate Point, is what is called the Shoal Ground. Large vessels should keep a league to the westward of the Point, if they would come safe round. This harbour is but little known or frequented, except by persons who inhabit round the bay.

From the table lands in Eastham, to Race Point, is a large range of high hills, all of them sandy, except one large mountain, which is of


solid clay, in Truro, called the Clay Pounds, because vessels have had the misfortune to be pounded to pieces against it, in gales of wind,

From these hills, in pleasant days in February and March, we often discover fifty or sixty sail of vessels, which come from the West-Indies and the southward, and have been sheltered in the Vimeyard Sound. Within these hills in Wellfeet, is a range of fresh ponds, where sea fowl obtain fresh water, and where there are fish of the smaller kind. Such as have outlets, receive alewives, which go up in the month of May.

The land is barren. "The growth of wood is small pitch pine and oak.

From the harbour there are many salt creeks, known by different names, which are surrounded with salt marsh. There is no fresh hay cut in the town.

This town was incorporated 1763. Before this it was known, by being called the North Precinct in Eastham and was originally included in the Indian Skeekeet and Pamet. The first inhabitants of this place attended publick worship at Eastham. When their numbers and property were sufficient, they built a small meeting-house, in which the Rev. Josiah Oaks, youngest son of the Hon. Thomas Oaks,* Esq. of Boston, preached for a number of years. After Mr. Oaks,t the Rev. Isaiah Lewis was settled in the work of the ministry over this people. He was ordained September 23d, 1730, and continued in the work of the ministry, until prevented by the infirmities of age. April 13th, 1785, the Rev. Levi Whitman was ordained a colleague pastor with him. Mr. Lewis died October 3d, 1786, aged eighty-four.

The business of the people in this town was originally the whale fishery, in which none were more expert than the aboriginal Indians. Before the late 'war, this branch of business was carried on to exceeding good advantage. The inhabitants had acquired large property,

. which was destroyed and lost in the time of war. No towns suffered more by the war, except those that were reduced to ashes.

In 1772, there was a fever, which proved mortal to between forty and fifty persons. Those who had this distemper first, almost all died. Since that time the people of this place have enjoyed health in common with other places.

The number of inhabitants was very much diminished in the time of war. Many were captivated and died in prison ships and otherwise. Twenty-three were lost in a ship called the America. The distresses caused by the war were the means of removing many families to Penobscot and other places. Since the war, the whale and cod fisheries have revived ; people's circumstances are mended ; and the number of their vessels has been increased.

* The Hon. Thomas Oaks, Esq. of Boston, died in this town, July 15, 1719, aged seventy-six, and lies interred by his son, the Rev. Josiah Oaks, in what we call the old burying ground.

+ He died 1732, aged 44.

The people in this town are engaged in the sea service : a sailor is looked on as one engaged in the most honourable and beneficial employments: there are but few mechanicks. Our vessels conimonly fit out from Boston, and go thither to dispose of their oil, fish, bone, &c. Perhaps there are but few towns so well supplied with fish of all kinds as Wellfleet ; among which are some that are uncommon, such as the sword-fish and cramp-fish. The latter, which when touched with human flesh, gives it an electrical shock, has been caught on our shores. The oil of this fish is said to be beneficial in certain cases. We also have the bill-fish in great plenty in the month of October.

No part of the world has better oysters than the harbour of WellAeet. Time: was when they were to be found in the greatest plenty ; but in 1775, à mortality from an unknown cause carried off the most of them. Since that time the true Billinsgate oysters have been scarce ; and the greater part that are carried to market, are first imported and laid in our harbour, where they obtain the proper relish of Billinsgate.

We have no social library ; and the means of education are not equal fully to the purpose of fitting our young men for the business, which they are many times called to in after life. . We have in the winter a number of private schools, by which means the greater part of the young men are taught the art of navigation. Three persons from this town have received their education at college.

Since the memory of people now living, there have been born in this small town, thirty pair of iwins, beside two births that produced six, three each. Within the bill of mortality we include five families within the bounds of Truro, who live near to us and attend publick worship with us.' The whole number of souls, when the census was taken, amounted to twelve hundred. The number of deaths in nine years past has been one hundred and forty-five. As to births, we cannot be so accurate. The number of baptisms in nine years past has been three hundred and ninety-four ; and perhaps if the few infants not baptized were added to the number, the proportion would be nearly three births to one death,

Several persons have lived to advanced ages in this town. Mrs. Mary Treat, whose name before marriage was Lion, was born in a vilage near London, and died in the hundredth year of her age, when she was superannuated, so as not to recollect late transactions. She could be very particular in relating what was done in her youth. She would however often repeat the same things. I have several times heard her give a particular account of her being in London at the coronation of George the first Mrs. Hannah Doane lived ninety-five years, and was' remarkable for her piety. Mr. John Young lived eighty-five years, and spent fifty of them in the whaling service. Ιι


be noted, that'many of the people of this town spend more than half their lives at sea and on ship-board. Navigation engrosses their whole attention : otherwise excellent gardens might be made in swamps, near ponds and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »