Benjamin Franklin Papers

On Absentee Governors: II, 27 August 1768

On Absentee Governors: II

Reprinted in The Pennsylvania Chronicle, January 2–9, 1769, from The Public Advertiser, August 27, 1768.

There are some advocates for the Ministers so extremely forward, that they cannot wait till they obtain a true information of facts. Even Daylight unluckily is very much in the dark himself.8 The truth is, that NOT ONE of the officers he mentions, except Sir Jeffery Amherst, have been ordered to their posts, not even the Governors of Maryland and Pennsylvania, whom he expressly says are gone, or going; an appointment of a new deputy by the former being actually approved by the Am——n S——ry, AT THE VERY TIME of Sir Jeffery’s removal, and that Governor (Lord Baltimore) instead of being gone to Maryland, (his post) is gone to France, or Turky, or some-where else, on his travels.9 The other Governor too, Mr. P——, may, to all appearance, stay and indulge himself here as long as he pleases, while he can continue his bows to our new Haman, the S——y, which it seems honest Mordecai unfortunately omitted.1 What makes his case the harder is, that in the long and laborious service of the American war, he had so little attention to his own interest, that he returned without making a Sixpence; and as the having done a worthy man one injury generally inclines the aggressor to follow it with a second and a third, we may, for aught I know, (but God forbid!) live to see another Bellisaire !2 I am, your’s, &c.


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8See the preceding document.

9Frederick Calvert, seventh and last Baron Baltimore (1731–71), had recently written a tedious account of his journeys in Turkey in 1763–4. In 1768 he appointed his brother-in-law, Robert Eden, as his deputy. In the same year he was accused and acquitted of rape; he resumed his travels and died in Naples.

1Hillsborough, the American Secretary, is here identified with King Haman in the Book of Esther; Amherst is Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, who refused to bow to the King. BF presumably does not intend the reader to carry the story to its actual conclusion, in which Mordecai superseded Haman.

2Belisarius (490–565), the Emperor Justinian’s famous general, crushed a revolt at Constantinople, reconquered Africa from the Vandals, and twice captured Rome from the Goths, only to be suspected of treason, imprisoned, and according to legend blinded by Justinian. The General became the prototype of noble bearing under misfortune. His name was to the fore at the moment because of the publication in 1767 of Bélisaire, a novel by Jean-François Marmontel, which infuriated the Sorbonne and the Paris clergy and was defended by Turgot and Voltaire.

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