« ПретходнаНастави »
he was almost indifferent to its emoluments; and the task of hearing and recording debates wherein he could take no part, was a trial of his patience from which he willingly escaped. He did not, however, long take an active part as a magistrate, finding himself, he says, too little acquainted with the common law to fill such a station with credit, and thus evincing a practical and modest self-knowledge, to which he owed much of his public consideration.
[EXTRACT.] “ To the late De Cotton Mather, of Boston. * Rev. Sir, I received your kind letter, with your excellent advice to the people of the United States, which I read with great pleasure, and hope it will be duly regarded. Such writings, though they may be lightly passed over by many readers, yet, if they make a deep impression on one active mind in a hundred, the effects may be considerable.
• Permit me to mention one little instance, which, though it relates to myself, will not be quite uninteresting to you. When I was a boy, I met with a book, entitled Essays to do Good,' which I think was written by your father. It had been so little regarded by a former possessor, that several leaves of it were torn out; but the remainder gave me such a turn of thinking, as to have an influence on my conduet through life ; for I have always set a greater value on the character of a doer of good than any other kind of reputation; and if I have been, as you seem to think, a useful citizen, the public owes the advan- • tage of it to that book.
* You mention your being in your seventy-eighth year. I am in my seventy-ninth. We are grown old together. It is now more than sixty years since I left Boston; but I remember well both your father and grandfather, having heard them both in the pulpit, and seen them in their houses. The last time I saw your father was the beginning of 1724, when I visited
him after my first trip to Pennsylvania. He received me in his library; and, on my taking leave, shewed me a shorter way out of the house, through a narrow passage which was crossed by a beam over head. We were still talking as I withdrew, he accompany ing me behind, and I turning partly towards him, when he said hastily, “Stoop! stoop!' I did not understand him till I felt my head hit against the beam. He was a man who never missed any occasion of giving instruction; and upon this he said to me: "You are young, and have the world before you: stoop as you go through it, and you will miss many hard thumps.' This advice, thus beat into my head, has frequently been of use to me; and I often think of it, when I see pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high.
“ Perry, May 12th, 1784.”
During the course of the year 1750, Mr Franklin, Mr Norris, and the speaker of the Pennsylvanian Assembly, were appointed commissioners to conduct a treaty with the Indians at Carlisle, whither they repaired accordingly. These unfortunate tribes had long imbibed one of the worst vices of their European neighbours, drunkenness, and when in liquor were very ungovernable. The commissioners, therefore, strictly prohibited the giving or selling to them spirits, while the business of their journey should be pending, but promised at the conclusion to give them abundance of their favourite liquor. The treaty was successful, and the rum 'accordingly given to them in their temporary cabins, forming a square in the neighbourhood of Carlisle, where they had congregated to the number of about a hundred men, women, and children. The commissioners, in the evening, were alarmed by a great noise which they heard among them, and, on approaching, found that they had made a bonfire in their square, and were fighting by whole families in groups, in all the rage of beastly intoxi
cation. To Franklin's quiet and meditative mind the scene appeared a perfect pandemonium; their ferocious countenances and manners, the horrid and unintelligible yells, the flaming firebrands with which they pursued and beat each other, and which threw (together with the half-smothered fire) the most hideous light on their tawny and staggering frames, gave altogether one of the most horrid pictures of low vice and misery, with which his extensive experience, he says, ever furnished him. In the middle of the night, a multitude of them came to the lodgings of the commissioners, importunately demanding more rum, but departed without receiving any attention. For this intrusion they sent three of their old counsellors to make an apology the next day, the substance of which is curious, and much amused our philosopher. They first excused themselves by imputing all the mischief to the rum, and then very gravely alleged, that the Great Spirit who made all things, made every thing for some use, and whatever use he designed any thing for, that use it should be put to. Now, when he made rum, he said, “Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with, and it must be so !” The effects of dram-drinking were never more apparent than in these Indians. It had at this time completely extirpated all the native tribes who had inhabited the sea-coast; and if, says our author, it be the design of Providence to annihilate these savages, in order to make room for the cultivators of the earth, it seems not impossible that rum may be the appointed means. The commission was however executed at this place, with satisfaction to the Assembly.
Pennsylvania hospital, founded in 1751, received, in Franklin's public influence, its most important early support. He is compelled to state, in his personal narrative, that hardly a public subscription" could now be proposed, but the question was immediately asked, Have you consulted Franklin on this business? When therefore a friend of his, Dr Bond, to whom our author is careful to assign the honour of first
moving in the affair, attempted to canvass Philadel. phia without his concurrence, but little progress was made. Franklin however, when consulted, had too much nobleness of spirit to resent this conduct, but fairly examined the doctor's scheme, and entered into it fully. The Junto, and the paper of the province, were duly put in motion, and very important friends to the measure gained ; but a grant of public money seemed essential to place it on a solid footing. This Franklin obtained with no common adroitness; he himself calls it a political maneuvre of Dame Cunning. He in fact placed the projected hospital in the situation of a bride elect, whose parents and guardians require a proper stimulus to liberality; while the Pennsylvanian assembly was required to yield a genteel fortune on the other side, as in the place of the guardians of the expectant bridegroom. He therefore brought a bill into the house, by which it was proposed to present 20001. to the hospital funds, on the condition, that 20001. more should be obtained by private subscription; and that when, to the satisfaction of the speaker of the said house, the private money should be raised, then, and not till then, he was required to sign an order on the provincial treasurer for the payment of 2000l. out of the provincial funds, in two yearly payments of 1000l. each. The parties were thus made by able management to act upon each other. With the house he pleaded the great public benefit intended, and the patriotic disposition of numerous respectable individuals to contribute to it; while with private persons he pressed the condition and pledge so happily obtained, and the manner in which each individual subscription became doubled in its amount of contribution to the general scheme.
To another public project, in hand at this time, he contributed advice, at least worth remembering, and in keeping with his general character and cleverness. Being solicited by the Rev. Mr Tennant, one of Whitfield's admirers, to assist him in obtaining funds
for the erection of a meeting-house, he declined pressing it upon his connexions in Philadelphia, as it might possibly appear making too free with them. “But apply you,” said he, "first to those you know will give you something ; next to those of whose willingness or ability you are uncertain (and shew to them the actual subscriptions obtained ;) lastly go to those whom you believe will give nothing, for in some of them you may be mistaken.” The preacher tried the plan, says our author; asked everybody, and was able to erect one of the most spacious and well-built places of worship in the province. . The history of civilized nations, especially those of considerable power, has always been blended. We now arrive at the commencement of that last and most important contest between Great Britain and France in America, the first effect of which was to annihilate the power of the French in this part of the globe; the next, in order of importance perhaps, to teach America her own strength and resources, calling into actual service the very men who were afterwards the authors of her revolution, and the pillars of her independence; and last, not least, by an easy but in perceptible consequence, to bring the British .colonies and the mother-country into collision; a contest that terminated in possibly the most important event in modern history. Franklin and Washington (but especially the former) were both conspicuous public characters in this war.
As, after this period, Great Britain never exercised unmolested sway over her North American colonies, and as their subsequent independence and prosperity, when the United States of America, have brought to them material accessions of territory, it. will much illustrate our sketch of the war, and Franklin's various exertions in it, to present the reader with a brief sketch of the situation and boundaries of the British possessions at this time. • The then British colonies, bordering on each other, and extending along the sea-coast from Davies-strait