Слике страница

the money necessary for the defence of our trade; city, and country, without laying a burthen on any man.

The effect of this appeal was prodigious: it aroused the capital at once. A public meeting was called in Whitfield's preaching-house; and Franklin being requested to produce his promised plan, which was in fact that of a general volunteer militia, twelve hundred signatures to it were obtained on the occasion. In the neighbourhood the flame spread with equal ardour. Copies of the address being promptly circulated, ten thousand men were soon enrolled, who furnished themselves with arms, elected officers, and formed themselves into a regiment, without any important aid from the government. They met with great punctuality, every week, to learn the manual exercise ; the female part of the community inflaming their gallantry, by providing and presenting them with colours, which were covered with devices and appropriate mottoes supplied by Franklin. The Philadel. phia Association requested our author to become their colonel, which he modestly declined in favour of a Mr Lawrence, who was accordingly appointed. • He next contended, that a battery below the town was essential to its security, and proposed to raise a sufficient sum, by lottery, for its erection and support. This scheme also was popular : the shares were taken off immediately; Franklin, Lawrence, and another friend of the measure, were dispatched to New York, to solicit the loan of cannon, until their own should come from England. Some were bought forth with at Boston, and mounted, the merlons being constructed of timber and earth for the present; and the proprietary were solicited for assistance, although with little hope of success. At New York they at first found the governor, sir William Clinton, very unwilling to comply with their request; but, after dinner, Franklin watching the movements of the bottle, and pressing his suit accordingly, six cannon were at first promised, then ten, and, after a few bum

pers more, eighteen“ fine 18-pounders," says our author, “which, with the carriages, were soon transported, and mounted on our batteries.” During the rest of the war between Great Britain and Spain, the Association of Philadelphia regularly mounted guard on their batteries every night, and Franklin took his turn there as a common soldier."

Being soon after, in consequence of these efforts, made a member of the governor's council, Franklin proposed to promote the recent measures through the influence of the clergy. A public fast was proclaimed at his suggestion, the pulpit echoed with patriotic addresses, and the enrolling was carried on with great spirit and activity among all classes, except Quakers.

With this respectable part of the community, Franklin's friends began to fear he had embroiled himself hopelessly on this occasion. But he knew them better, it appears. A Mr Logan, a distinguished member of that persuasion, had written an address to the Friends in favour of defensive war, and subscribed sixty pounds to the battery above-mentioned. This gentleman had in his youth accompanied the celebrated William Penn to America, as his private secretary, and gave Franklin the following anecdote of their connexion. Their vessel, in its passage, was chased by a supposed enemy; and the captain pressed the passengers, as well as crew, into his service, except Penn and his associates, whom he expected to find impracticable ; but Logan, to his surprise, joined in manning the guns, while the rest of the Quakers retired below. In a short time it was discovered that the vessel bearing down upon them was friendly; and the young secretary, running to inform his master, was rebuked for his apparent willingness to abandon the principles of the Friends on the occasion. Logan replied to him, I being thy servant, why didst thou not order me to come down? But thou wast willing enough that I should stay to fight the ship, when thou thoughtest there was danger.' • Our author's own experience of the conduct of the

[ocr errors]

Quakers had given him reason to suppose them not altogether inimical to defensive measures in which they were not called upon to join too directly. Dur ing the public fervour respecting the battery, it was · proposed that a small sum should be granted by the fire-company in aid of that scheme; but when it was recollected that the Friends were twenty-two in number, out of the thirty of which the company consisted, the minority could hardly hope for success. A meeting however was appointed to consider the subject, when the other eight members punctually appeared, with but one Quaker, a Mr Morris. He was strenuous in his opposition, and deprecated even the discussion of the grant, as tending to disturb the long-continued harmony of the company. The hour for proceeding to business at length arrived, and still no increase of Friends. Mr Morris then requested a little delay, for he was quite sure that his brethren were coming. Franklin however states the following strange facts. A waiter called him down to speak with “ two gentlemen," who proved to be members of their own body. They informed him that at a neighbouring tavern six other Friends were waiting to come with them, if necessary, and vote for the measure, but that, as it might involve them in disputes with their brethren, they requested not be called upon except in case of necessity. Secure of his object, Franklin now returned to the society, and consented to a further delay, which Morris considered as very fair; and after the lapse of an hour, he remaining still unsupported, the'measure was carried by eight to one. “Thus as of the twenty-two Quakers, eight were ready to vote with us,” says Franklin, and “eleven, by their absence, manifested that they were not inclined to Oppose the measure, I computed that the proportion of Quakers sincerely against the defence, was as one to twenty-one only.” Franklin avers distinctly, that his long experience in the Pennsylvanian assembly gave him constant opportunities of observing evasive conduct in the Quakers, and their never-ending em,

barrassment on the question of war. Desirous of conciliating the government at home, they were unwilling to refuse all supplies of that nature, which their regard for their own principles would have taught them to deny. Monies, known to be designed for military purposes, were therefore, for a long time, granted “ for the king's use." But when a local governor demanded such supplies, as this phrase would have been inapplicable, others were invented. On one occasion, he says, the vote was for 6 bread, flour, wheat, and other grain,with a view to include gunpowder! He therefore observed to a member of the fire-company, when he was apprehen. sive of being outvoted in his proposal in favour of the battery," If we fail, let us move the purchase of a fire-engine with the money : the Quakers can have no objection to that, and—then we will buy a great gun, which is certainly a fire-engine.”

Franklin's post of clerk to the Assembly, he was told, would be endangered, during this memorable year, by his conduct in military affairs ; and he was urged to resign, being assured the Quakers would endeavour to displace him. His reply to a young expectant of the office, who gave him this advice (out of regard, as he said, to his honour) was not lacking in sagacity. He had read, he observed, of some public men who made it a rule never to ask for an office, and never to refuse one. “I approve,' said he, of this rule, and shall practise it with a small addition. I shall never ask, nor refuse, nor ever resign, an office. If they will have my office of clerk, to give to another, they shall take it from me. I will not, by giving it up, lose my right, some time or other, of making reprisal on my adversaries:

Speaking further of the tergiversation of the Quakers, arising from their public pledges respecting war, he commends the policy of an obscure American sect, with which he about this time became acquainted, called the Dunkers. They complained to him of the calumnies that were in circulation respecting them ; when he advised the publication of their principles or articles of belief. One of the founders of the sect replied, “When we were first drawn together as a society, it pleased God to enlighten our minds so far as to see that some doctrines which were esteemed truths were errors, and that others which we had esteemed errors were real truths. From time to time he has been pleased to afford us farther light, and our principles have been improving, and our errors diminishing. Now we are not sure that we are arrived at the end of this progression, and at the perfection of spiritual or theological knowledge ; and we fear, that if we should once print our confession of faith, we should feel ourselves as if bound and confined by it, and perhaps be unwilling to receive further improvements; and our juniors still more so, as conceiving what these elders and founders had done was something sacred, never to be departed from."

The argument of this honest man resembles that of a modern writer of much greater name,* who, after triumphantly narrating his progress through every known gradation of opinions on the person of Christ, boasted literally, “ That he did not know when his creed would be fixed!

At the close of the Spanish and French war in 1748, Franklin renewed his attention to the subject of education. The Junto was again moved to influence the good work of founding a superior academy, and our author circulated proposals relating to the education of youth in Pennsylvania, and Ideas of an English School, for the consideration of the Trustees;' the whole being announced as the plan of some publicspirited gentleman,' according to his former advice of keeping individuals in such cases in the background. A subscription was proposed to be paid by five annyal instalments, and the sum of 5000l. was soon engaged for, and placed under the management of twenty-four trustees ; Franklin and a Mr Francis being intrusted to draw up the constitution of the academy. This being accomplished to his satisfaction, a house

• Dr Priestley.

« ПретходнаНастави »