Abbildungen der Seite

always glad to hear from you, but I do not deserve your favors, being so bad a correspondent. My eyes will now hardly serve me to write by night, and these short days have been all taken up by such a variety of business, that I seldom can sit down ten minutes without interruption. God give you success. I am, with the greatest esteem, &c. B. FRANKLIN.


Dr. Price. Conduct of the JMinistry. Philosophical Experiments. Fired Air. London, 13 February, 1776. DEAR SIR, I lament this unhappy war, as on more serious accounts, so not a little, that it renders my correspondence with you so precarious. I have had three letters from you, and have written as often; but the last, by Mr. Temple, I have been informed he could not take. What is become of it, I cannot tell. This accompanies a copy of my second volume of Observations on Air, and a pamphlet, which may perhaps make you smile. Major Carleton, brother to the governor of Quebec, has undertaken to convey the parcel to you. By the same hand you will receive a most excellent pamphlet by Dr. Price, which, if any thing can, will, I hope, make some impression upon this infatuated nation. An edition of a thousand copies has been nearly sold in two days; but, when Lord George Germain is at the head of affairs, it cannot be expected that any thing like reason or moderation should be attended to. Every thing breathes rancor and desperation, and nothing but absolute impotence will stop their proceedings. We therefore look upon a final separation from you as a certain and speedy event. If any thing can unite us, it must be the immediate adopting of the measures proposed by Lord Shelburne, and mentioned in Dr. Price's pamphlet. As, however, it is most probable that you will be driven to the necessity of governing yourselves, I hope you have wisdom to guard against the rocks that we have fatally split upon, and make some better provision for securing your natural rights against the encroachment of power in whomsoever placed. Amidst the alarms and distresses of war, it may perhaps give you some pleasure to be informed, that I have been very successful in the prosecution of my experiments, since the publication of my second volume. I have lately sent to the Royal Society some Observations on Blood, which I believe have given great satisfaction to my medical friends, proving that the use of it, in respiration, is to discharge phlogiston from the system, that is, has the same power of affecting air, when congealed and out of the body, that it has when fluid and in the body, and acts through a bladder and a large quantity of serum, as well as in immediate contact with the air. In pure air it becomes of a florid red, and in phlogisticated air, black; and the air to which it has been exposed is affected in the same manner, as it is by respiration, the calcination of metals, or any other phlogistic process. I am now in a very promising course of experiments on metals, from all of which, dissolved in spirit of nitre, I get first nitrous air as before, and then, distilling to dryness, from the same materials, fived air, and dephlogisticated air. This proves that fixed air is certainly a modification of the nitrous acid. I have, however, got no fixed air from gold or silver. You will smile when I tell you, that I do not absolutely despair of the transmutation of metals.

In one of your letters, you mention your having made a valuable discovery on your passage to America, and promise to write me a particular account of it. If you ever did this, the letter has miscarried, for which I shall be sorry, and the more so as I now almost despair of hearing from you any more till these troubles are settled.

The club of honest Whigs, as you justly call them, think themselves much honored by your having been one of them, and also by your kind remembrance of them. Our zeal in the good cause is not abated; you are often the subject of our conversation. Not to burden my friend too much, I give him only one copy of my book; but I hope you will communicate it to Professor Winthrop, with my most respectful compliments. I am, &c.


P. S. Lord Shelburne and Colonel Barré were pleased with your remembrance of them, and desire their best respects and good wishes in return. The best thing I can wish the friendly bearer of this letter is, that he may fall into your hands, as I am sure he will meet with good treatment, and perhaps have the happiness of conversing with you, a happiness which I now regret. Your old servant, Fevre, often mentions you with affection and respect. He is, in all respects, an excellent servant. I value him much, both on his own account and yours. He seems to be very happy. Mrs. Stevenson is much as usual. She can talk about nothing but you.


Introducing Thomas Paine, the Author of “Common Sense.” Philadelphia, 19 February, 1776. DEAR SIR, I rejoice that you are going to Canada. I hope the gout will not have the courage to follow you into that severe climate. I believe you will have the number of men you wish for. I am told there will be two thousand more, but there are always deficiencies.” The bearer, Mr. Paine, has requested a line of introduction to you, which I give the more willingly, as I know his sentiments are not very different from yours. He is the reputed, and, I think, the real author of Common Sense, a pamphlet that has made great impression here. I do not enlarge, both because he waits, and because I hope for the pleasure of conferring with you face to face in Canada. I will only add, that we are assured here on the part of France, that the troops sent to the West Indies have no inimical views to us or our cause. It is thought they intend a war without a previous declaration. God prosper all your undertakings, and return you with health, honor, and happiness. Yours most affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.

* Congress had ordered General Lee to repair to Canada, and take the command there; but his destination was soon after changed, and he went to the south.


Urging JMeasures of Reconciliation between Great
Britain and the Colonies.
London, 24 February, 1776.

It is so long since I have had the pleasure of hearing from you, that I fear the administration has but too effectually stopped the channel of communication between this country and its colonies. I have always dreaded this event, as fatal and final to the prospect of a national reconciliation. When, in any contention, the parties are not only studiously kept asunder, but mischief-making go-betweens exert every art, and practise every fraud, to inflame jealousies, animosities, and resentments between them, it is but too obvious to fear, that your own prophetic words should be accomplished; that, instead of that cordial affection, which once and so long existed, and that harmony so suitable to the happiness, safety, strength, and welfare of both countries, a mutual hatred, such as we see subsisting between the Spaniards and Portuguese, the Genoese and Corsicans, should fatally take root between the parent state and its colonies.

These fears are not abated by the consideration of the incessant injuries, which have been, and which continue to be, heaped upon our unhappy fellow subjects

* The original of this letter is in the handwriting of David Hartley, but signed “G. B.” a signature which Mr. Hartley affixed to many of his letters to Dr. Franklin, written during the revolution. Mr. Hartley was a member of Parliament, and opposed to the ministerial measures in regard to America. He made several attempts, at the beginning of the troubles, to effect a reconciliation between the two countries; and was not less active afterwards in endeavouring to procure a peace. He was likewise unwearied in his benevolent exertions for the relief of the American prisoners in England during the war.

« ZurückWeiter »