Слике страница

tion, and accompanied by suitable reflections and observations. The title of this volume, published in 1759, and containing five hundred closely printed pages, was “An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania from its Origin; so far as regards the several points of controversy which have from time to time arisen between the several governors of Pennsylvania, and their several assemblies: founded on authentic Documents.” The motto prefixed to it was, “ THOSE WHO GIVE UP ESSENTIAL LIBERTY, TO PURCHASE A LITTLE TEMPORARY SAFETY, DESERVE NEITHER LIBERTY NOR SAFETY.” This work being anonymous, was attributed to RALPH the historian, a circumstance supposed to have been concerted by Franklin, with a view to avert all jealousies from himself as the author. The style and spirit of the work however, and especially the dedication to Mr Speaker Onslow, clearly prove from whom this publication proceeded.

The effect of this publication was considerable, and removed in a great measure the prejudice that had been entertained against the colonies ; but the proprietaries still remaining inflexible in their opposition, the American delegate presented a petition to the Privy Council, for the final adjustment of all differences; and so confident were his constituents of his final success, that the Assembly, before the affairs was formally decided, passed a law for the levying a general tax, in which the proprietary estates were not exempted; and the bill received the sanction of governor Denny! It is true the proprietaries endeavoured to prevent the royal sanction being given to the bill, and were represented by able advocates before the Privy Council; but the facts of the case being fairly brought out, an accommodation was at last proposed, by which the Pennsylvanians agreed to submit their estates to all taxes and impositions, on .condition that they should not be oùer-rated. Franklin's conduct throughout the business gave great satisfaction to all parties. He engaged his honour for the equitable and moderate imposition of the tax

in regard to the estates of the proprietaries, and appears never to have subjected himself to any complaint from them on account of this stipulation. Thus, while gaining from his opponents an unquestionable tribute to his integrity, he obtained from them, on behalf of his constituents, the concession of every principle at issue ; jealousies, which had been existing for generations between the governors of Pennsylvania and the Assembly, were happily extinguished; taxation bore equally on all property, which made every one more content to bear it; and to this period, at least, in the history of America, such taxation was imposed by those who had to pay it. Such a conclusion of the business was naturally regarded by the Pennsylvanians as a triumph of no small importance to them. The character and talents of Franklin marked him out as perhaps the most able man of public business which America had produced. He was therefore solicited to remain in London as an accredited agent for Pennsylvania ; and Maryland, Georgia, and Massachusetts Bay, made application to him to become their agent likewise in England.

Franklin now indulged in the society of those friends whom his talents had procured him, and who rapidly increased. His company indeed was courted by persons of the first distinction both in the political and literary world.

The universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh, and Oxford, unsolicited, conferred upon him the degree of doctor of laws; and the last of these learned bodies gave the degree of master of arts to his son. The following is a copy of the entry of those honours at Oxford:

BENJ. FRANKLIN, esq. Provinc. Pennsylvan, Deputat. ad Curiam Sereniss. Legat. Tabellariorum per Americam Septentrionalem Præfectus Generalis, et Veredariorum totius Nova Angliæ, et R. S. S. cr. D. C. L. Apr. 30, 1762.

FRANKLIN (WILL.) esq. Juris Municip. Consult. cr. M. A. Apr. 30, 1762.

[ocr errors]


Dr Franklin suggests improvements in the paving and lighting Philadelphia

and London.-Humourous epistle on early rising.-Experiment on the tourmalin-stone.-Invention of the armonica.--Dr Franklin advises the British Government to attack Canada.-Expedition under General Wolfe undertaken accordingly.-Battle of Quebec.Advocates the retaining of Canada at the peace.- Returns home.-Observations made daring the voyage on the effects of oil in calming water.-Well received in Philadelphia.

The Pariton murder, and his conduct.-Fresh disputes between the Government and the Assembly.Suggests a petition to the king to assume the government of the province. Loses his election to the Assembly, but re-appointed agent to Great Britain.-Sails tbither.

DR FRANKLIN was born to unite the great and the minute; to shine in his sober way in courts, without disdaining to lend his aid to the most humble methods of being useful to mankind. While he was in England, at this time, a bill passed the Pennsyl. yanian Assembly for paying the city of Philadelphia. For the success of this measure, he had been obliged to adopt his old plan of circulating a few plain arguments respecting its necessity amongst the people ; while, by a private subscription, he effected the paying and regular cleaning of the Jersey market-place, where he lived. One addition was however made to the bill in his absence, that of a provision for lighting as well as paving the streets, which he candidly disclaims, though it has been generally ascribed to him. Its author, he says, was a Mr John Clifton.

But the agitation of this measure turned his attention to the general subject of paving and lighting · large cities ; and while resident in London, he made several useful observations on the construction of street-lamps, and on cleansing the public streets ; the principal of which suggestions have been since carried into effect. The following fine apology is

addressed to those who “may think these triAing matters not worth minding, or relating. Human felicity,” says Franklin,“ js produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day. Thus, if you teach a poor young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may contribute inore to the happiness of his life, than in giving him one thousand guineas. This sum may be soon spent, the regret only remaining of having foolishly consumed it, but in the other case he escapes the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers, and of their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths, and dull razors ; he shaves when most convenient to him, and enjoys daily the pleasure of its being done with a good instrument. With these sentiments I have hazarded the few preceding pages, hoping they may afford hints which some time or other may be useful to a city I love (having lived many years in it very happily) and perhaps to some of our towns in America.”

The following humorous epistle, first addressed to the editor of one of the daily papers in Paris, some few years after this period, is so much in point here, and contains so good a lecture upon early rising, that the reader will not think any apology necessary for introducing it :

“ MESSIEURS,--You often entertain us with accounts of new discoveries. Permit me to communicate to the public, through your paper, one that has lately been made by myself, and which I conceive may be of great utility.

"I was the other evening in a great company, where the new lamp of Messrs Quinquet and Lange was introduced, and much admired for its splendour ; but a general inquiry was made, whether the oil it consumed was not in proportion to the light it afforded, in which case there would be no saving in the use of it. No one present could satisfy us in that point,

which all agreed ought to be known, it being a very desirable thing to lessen, if possible, the expense of lighting our apartments, when every other article of family expense was so much augmented.

o I was pleased to see this general concern for economy, for I love economy exceedingly.

“I went home, and to bed, three or four hours after midnight, with my head full of the subject. An accidental sudden noise waked me about six in the morning, when I was surprised to find my room filled with light; and I imagined at first, that a number of those lamps had been brought into it: but, rubbing my eyes, I perceived the light came in at the windows. I got up, and looked out to see what might be the occasion of it, when I saw the sun just rising above the horizon, whence he poured his rays plentifully into my chamber, my domestic having negligently omitted the preceding evening to close the shutters.

"I looked at my watch, which goes very well, and found that it was about six o'clock; and still thinking it something extraordinary that the sun should rise so early, I looked into the almanack, where I found it to be the hour given for its rising on that day. I looked forward too, and found he was to rise still earlier every day till towards the end of June; and that at no time in the year he retarded his rising so long as till eight o'clock. Your readers, who with me have never seen any signs of sunshine before noon, and seldom regard the astronomical part of the almanack, will be as much astonished as I was, when they hear of his rising so early; and especially when I assure them, that he gives light as soon as he rises. I am convinced of this. I am certain of my fact. I saw it with my own eyes. And having repeated this observation the three following mornings, I found always precisely the same result.

“ Yet it so happens, that when I speak of this discovery to others, I can easily perceive by their countenances, though they forbear expressing it in words,

« ПретходнаНастави »