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To Benjamin Franklin from Sir Edward Newenham, 20 October 1783

From Sir Edward Newenham

ALS: American Philosophical Society

20th October 1783

Dear Sir

Every hour of my Life induces me most Gratefully to commemorate the Æra, that first made me acquainted with the Virtuous Heir of ancient Roman Patriotism; this day I had the honor of your Excellencys of the 2d Inst: at the same time that I had one from Philadelphia, mentioning a hope that this Independant Kingdom would be included in the Commercial Treaty—6

I had determined on the first day of the meeting of our Parliament to have introduced that Subject, but a dangerous disorder in my bowels has Obliged me to Keep my room untill this day, when I ventured down stairs; the late rains have been so incessant, & the air so damp & foggy, that this disorder in the Bowels has Carried off great Numbers, particularily my ever to be lamented friend Mr Baron Burgh; He was the mover of the Amendment—a Free Trade—he was my Second in Stopping more troops being sent to America—he was a warm friend to a Parliament Reform, & he would have proved a Valuable acquisition to the house of Lords, as Appeals are now to be tried before them; for I am Sorry to Say, we have not ten Lords fit, competent or proper to Judge Appeals; I would rather (if our Constitution could permit it) have our appeals tried in any Country than this,—Mr Burgh pleaded my Cause against the Crown for 8 years & finaly cast them, but never accepted of a fee—he first encouraged the Cotton Manufacture, which is now well Established—he died, almost a Pauper—but Parliament have recommended his Orphan Children to Government; he was a faithfull friend & a Virtuous Citizen; Pardon this digression!—7

Our Linnens have had a Quicker & better sale than last year, & Larger returns in Specie; and a good deal have been sent to Different parts of america; our Manufacturers are more carefull and more Exact in their work, than formerly; but the Trade of this City in Woollens is very Low, many hundreds are starving, & thousands out of Employment; as the Shops are overstocked; however I hope a very Short Time will releive them; I shall move a Clubb that I am in, to give a grand Maskqued Ball to 5 or 600 persons; this will circulate 2 or 3000 pound;8 a Number are gone and others going to America, but they complain very much of the Cruelty of the Captains of the Ships; this hinders some of the Better Sort of People from going; In Leiu of those we are getting some Germans & some Genevans—

Should the Roman Catholics obtain Votes here, Even those worth £50 a year, they would out-poll the Protestants by such considerable Majorities, that no Protestant Candidate could Carry a Single County or free City in Ireland, & Should they have a parlement of their own, they would soon revise the acts of Settlements & forfeitures; they would serve us, as the Scotch & American Rebels intended to have served the friends of Liberty in america, had Tyranny prevaild over Virtue— In Some Counties the Papists of £100 a year, outnumber all ranks of Protestant Electors; they have every other Freedom; however, this Important Subject has not been publickly agitated; nor will it untill the Grand Convention meets on the 10th,9 when I think it will be warmly & Closely contested, but if it should pass there, I do not think it will pass Either house of Parliament, as the Commons will not readily pass a Law to prevent their Heirs from Sitting in Parliament;—we have a new Sight here—a Bishop preaching in favour of Popery—Clad in Military array—& accepting of a Commission as General & Delegate—his address to his Corps is bad English & very poor; I Expected something Grand & sensible from him, but alass, Parturiunt Montes nascetur ridiculus mus1—one Earl of Bristol was Vice-roy, & this Bishop wants to succeed his Brother—2

I find my Daughter, at Marsailles, is near having a French Newenham; the Consulship would be Very acceptable to that house—3 She intends to pay us a Visit in the Spring, & to pass through Paris—

Permit me most Earnestly (as a friend to the Welfare of Ireland which I am convinced you are) to Entreat you will give me any Instructions for the benefit of the Irish Trade that may occur to you—and also, that you will (if the treaty is not finaly concluded) acquaint the Ministers who are to Sign, that I have assured you, that Measure will be mentioned in the Irish Parliament on the 27th Instant, & therefore hope they will wait the result of it; I mean to agitate it myself; the Issue of which I shall immediatly have the Honor of communicating to your Excellency— Permit me also to Enquire if it is not necessary, that we should have Consuls in some one or two Towns in America, & whether it is not intended that the United states should have one or more in Ireland? because I would wish to have that done by us before the Adjournment of this Session; a Friend of Mine at Philadelphia urged this matter to me.

Lady Newenham, with Every sentiment of the warmest respect & Esteem, most thankfully acknowledges your obliging remembrance of her; and entreats your Acceptance of her sincere wishes for your perfect Enjoyment of Every happiness; I may possibly be partial, but I must say, I adore her as a friend & Companion—all my family join me in respects to your Excellency, & best wishes to your Grandson—

I have the Honor, to be, with due Respect your Excellencys most Obliged & most obt Hble: Servt

Edward Newenham

PS: we are anxious for the Treasure of THE Bust—4 Galway Election has lasted 50 days, 500 has polled for 2 Candidates & 400 for the other two. Such an Election was never heard of—5

Addressed: His Excellency B: Franklin / Passy / Paris

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The letter, from an unknown correspondent and dated Sept. 4, urged Newenham to call for the explicit inclusion of Ireland in an Anglo-American commercial treaty and for the appointment of Irish consuls in American ports. Newenham presented it to the Irish Parliament on Oct. 27, characterizing its author as a “gentleman … of the first consequence in the state of Virginia.” He also paraphrased the third paragraph of BF’S Oct. 2 letter, calling its author “a nobleman of exalted rank and character in France”: The Parliamentary Register: or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons of Ireland … (17 vols., Dublin, 1784–1801), II, 27–8.

7Walter Hussey Burgh (1742–1783) served as M.P. for Athy (1769–76) and Trinity College, Dublin (1776–82), and was an outspoken advocate for the repeal of English restrictions on Irish trade and for Irish legislative independence. In November, 1775, Burgh and Newenham voted in the minority against the deployment of Irish troops to America. Despite his prominence as a reformer, Burgh was appointed chief baron of the exchequer in 1782. After his death on Sept. 29, 1783, his five children received an annual pension of £2,000: ODNB; Homer L. Calkin, “American Influence in Ireland, 1760 to 1800,” PMHB, LXXI (1947), 108–9.

8There is no evidence that this benefit masquerade ball took place: James Kelly, Sir Edward Newenham, M. P. … (Dublin, 2004), p. 200.

9The delegates to the Sept. 8 Dungannon convention of Ulster Volunteers had debated whether to include Catholic enfranchisement in a plan for parliamentary reform. They deferred a decision to the Grand National Convention in Dublin: Patrick Rogers, The Irish Volunteers and Catholic Emancipation (1778–1793) … (London, 1934), pp. 96–8.

1Mountains will labor, to birth will come a laughter-rousing mouse: Horace, Ars Poetica, line 139, in Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1961), pp. 462–3.

2Frederick Augustus Hervey, fourth Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry (XXX, 319; ODNB), was a colonel of the Londonderry corps of the Volunteers and served as one of its delegates to the Dungannon meeting, which he addressed in a combination of military and ecclesiastical attire, and later to the Grand National Convention. He was a longtime proponent of religious toleration and one of the most prominent advocates of Catholic emancipation within the Volunteer movement. His enemies accused him of trying to succeed his brother George William as lord lieutenant of Ireland or even using the Catholics to set himself up as king of Ireland: Rogers, The Irish Volunteers and Catholic Emancipation, pp. 95, 105–12.

3This is the fourth time that Newenham recommended Jean-Christophe Hornbostel, the business partner of his son-in-law François-Philippe Fölsch, as the American consul in Marseille: XXXVIII, 306–7; XXXIX, 356.

4BF evidently promised Newenham and his wife a bust of himself after they met in the fall of 1782; see XXXVIII, 303. Writing to WTF three days before the date of the present letter, Newenham mentioned that his wife longed to place the bust in the couple’s new study and that it could be shipped on a merchant vessel sailing out of Bordeaux. A plaster cast after the bust that Caffiéri had fashioned in 1777 was ready for shipment by mid-November. It never arrived at its destination, and in the fall of 1784 Newenham renewed his appeals, which were ignored until BF began making plans to return to America. L’Air de Lamotte placed an order for another plaster cast on March 12, 1785, and it had been shipped by month’s end. Newenham acknowledged its receipt in early June: XXV, 266–7 and illustration facing p. 266; Newenham to WTF, Oct. 17, 1783 (APS); Caffiéri to WTF, Nov. 16, 1783 (University of Pa. Library); Newenham to WTF, Oct. 28, 1783; Newenham to BF, Sept. 29, 1784, [Oct. 9, 1784], Dec. 14, 1784; Lamotte to Caffiéri, March 12, 1785; Caffiéri to WTF, March 31, 1785; Newenham to BF, June 4, 1785 (all at the APS).

5Supporters of parliamentary reform in County Galway nominated two candidates to challenge the incumbents, William Power Keating Trench and Denis Daly, who were well-known opponents of the Volunteer movement. After 52 days of voting, the local sheriff called the election in favor of Trench and Daly: Edith M. Johnston-Liik, ed., History of the Irish Parliament, 1692–1800 … (6 vols., Belfast, 2002), IV, 7–8; VI, 439–40; James Kelly, “The Politics of ‘Protestant Ascendancy’: County Galway, 1650–1832,” in Galway: History & Society, ed. Gerard Moran (Dublin, 1996), pp. 252–3.

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