Admiral Lord Richard Howe’s overture to Franklin, we learned in Chapter 10, was viewed as at least partially a bribe. What was proposed was not in itself objectionable: one more chance to try to reach a compromise between the colonies and the mother country. It was distasteful to Franklin because the suggestion that the agent assist in the respectable mission of a peaceful settlement of differences, something both men had sought to achieve for the good of all concerned, was coupled with a less than respectable inference that Franklin might be induced to act by the prospect of his own personal advancement. Nothing specific was mentioned, but the range of possibilities could well have included a pension (perhaps to reinstate his Post Office appointment), a new office such as a governorship (like that of his son’s), perhaps even a title at the far end of those possibilities.
With due respect for the agent’s sensibilities, Howe’s gesture could be seen in other ways. Knowing the ways of the court and of high royal service himself, Admiral Howe might simply have been, without thinking much about the fine points, engaging in sheer prediction. If that was the mindset of Howe, he certainly misjudged his listener or was insufficiently aware of the man’s sense of himself and his devotion to the feelings as well as the interests of his fellow colonials. If we are to understand fully what Franklin