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at the same time preparing the minds of men in office to act with a better understanding of the subject, than they had heretofore possessed. At length the cause was amply discussed before the privy council; and after soine time spent, a proposal was made, that Franklin shouid solemnly engage that the proposed assessment should be so regulated, as that the proprietary estates should pay no more than a due proportion. This he agreed to perform; the opposition was withdrawn, and tranquillity was thus once more restored to the province.
The manner in which this dispute was terminated, furnishes a striking evidence of the high opinion entertained of Franklin's integrity and honour, even by those who considered him inimical to their views. Nor was their confidence misplaced. The assessment was made upon the strictest principle of equity, and the proprietary estates bore only a proportionable share of the expenses of supporting government.
After the completion of this perplexed and important business, Franklin remained at the British Court, as agent for Pensylvania. The extensive and accurate knowledge which he possessed of the condition and affairs of the American colonies, and the regard he manifested for their interests, led to his appointment to the same office by the colonies of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Georgia. His conduct in this situation, was such as rendered him still more dear to his countrymen as well as to circulate his merits throughout Europe.
While he resided in England, during the present visit, Franklin never allowed himself to be idle, nor ceased to diversify his labours in the service of mankind. He was a man born to unite the great and the minute, to shine in his sober solid way in courts, without disdaining to lend his aid to the most humble methods of being useful. In short, and without going into particulars, he was, at the period mentioned, acting often according to a principle which he has thus illustrated in answer to such as might think he troubled himself with trifling matters, not worth minding, or relating,-"Human felicity,” says he, duced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur any day. Thus if you teach a poor man to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his life, than in giving him one thousand guineas. This same 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 con
" is pro
venient 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." He refers to a clause in a bill for lighting and paving the streets of Philadelphia.
Franklin remained in Great Britain from July 1757, till August 1762, a period of five years. He visited many parts of England, and was everywhere received with fitting consideration. He repaired to the town where his father was born, and sought out with a lively interest such traditions concerning his ancestors as could be gathered from the memory of ancient persons, from parish registers, and inscriptions on their tombstones. His manner of speaking on this subject shows that he took much delight in rendering kindness to the members of his family, even when the relationship was reinote, although they were all in humble life, and many of them poor ; and there are evidences of his substantial and continued bounty to such as were in a needy condition. An anecdote characteristic of the man, may here be added. He went to the Printing Office Dear Lincoln’s-inn-fields, and entering the press-room, went up to a particular press, thus addressing the two men who were there working : “Come, my friends," said he, “we will drink together; it is now many years since I worked like you at this press as a journeyman printer." On this he sent for a gallon of porter, and he drank "success to printing."
Franklin during his second visit to England, considered himself a bona fide member of the great British commonwealth, and entered warmly into the state of the general politics of this country. Conceiving that by prosecuting the war with France upon the European continent, we were expending our resources on objects of no permanent British interest; he warmly recommended in all companies an attack upon French North America, The subsequent disputes between the mother country and her colonies were calculated to throw his exertions upon this point into the shade ; but in a cool review of the facts, there can be little doubt that Great Britain was, and is, indebted to him in a great measure, for the possession of Canada. With the first William Pitt he could not at this time obtain any personal interview. “ I considered him as inaccessible," he says; “I admired him at a distance, and, after some failures, made no more attempts for a nearer acquaintance." But through the great British statesman's secretaries, Messrs. Potter and Wood, who
cultivated Franklin's society, the illustrious minister was very happy to receive his suggestions, and frequently mentioned his high opinion of him.
Franklin pressed upon government the relative situation of the Indians with regard to the British and French possessions, and urged that so long as the arms and arts of France were aided by the local knowledge, and were perpetually fostering the ill-will of the native tribes, our Western frontiers would always be exposed to predatory warfare, and that the French had been encroaching upon our colonies from their first settlement in the country.
Mr. Pitt is said to have been “ determined by the simple accuracy of Franklin's statement,” to undertake the expedition, which it is unnecessary to say was so ably conducted by the lamented Wolfe. It is singular that the American agent should thus have been connected first with events that more completely humbled the French power abroad, than any other occurrence of the last century; and that he should subsequently live to wield the power of France for the still more decided humiliation of Great Britain,
During Franklin's five years' residence in Great Britain, he had an opportunity of indulging in the society of those friends whom his merits had procured him while at a distance. The regard which they entertained for him, was rather increased by a personal acquaintance. The Royal Society of London, now thought it an honour to rank him amongst its fellows; and other societies of Europe were equally ambitious of enrolling him as a member.
VISIT TO SCOTLAND,
Towards the end of August 1750, Franklin and his son visited Scotland. His reputation as a philospher was well established there. The university of St. Andrews had honoured him with the gree of Doctor of Laws; and its example was followed by the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford. He was also received with distinction by the Scottish luminaries of the period, particularly Lord Kames, Dr. Robertson and Mr. Hume, with whom he kept up long afterwards a friendly correspondence. The pleasure which he derived from his visit is forcibly expressed in a letter to Lord Kames.
“On the whole, I must say, I think the time we spent there, was six weeks of the densest happiness, I have met with in any part of my
life, and the agreeable and instructive society we found there in such plenty has left so pleasing an impression on my memory that did not strong connexions draw me elsewhere, I believe Scotland would be the country I should choose to spend the remainder of my days in.”
From early life Franklin had a passion for music, and he both studied it as a science and practised it as an art.
In London he saw for the first time an instrument consisting of musical glasses, upon which tunes were played by passing a wet finger round their brims. The tones so elicited are sweet, and when the glasses are tuned by putting water into them are capable of playing airs. After many trials Franklin succeeded in constructing an instrument of a different form, more commodious, and more extended in the compass of its notes. For some time this instrument was in much repute, having been named by its inventor the “ Armonica," in honour of the musical language of the Italians, as he says in a letter to the celebrated Beccaria, in which it is minutely described.
Franklin's remarks on the harmony and melody of the old Scottish songs, have been much commended, and may here be advantageously introduced. They were addressed in a letter to Lord Kames.
“In my passage to America, I read your excellent work, the Elements of Criticism, in which I found great entertainment, much to admire, and nothing to reprove. I only wish you had examined more fully the subject of music, and demonstrated, that the pleasure which artists feel in hearing much of that composed in the modern taste is not the natural pleasure arising from melody or harmony of sounds, but of the same kind with the pleasure we feel on seeing the surprising feats of tumblers and rope-dancers who execute difficult things. For my part I take this to be really the case, and suppose it the reason why those who, being unpractised in music, and therefore unacquainted with those diffi
culties, have little or no pleasure in hearing this music. Many pieces of - it are mere compositions of tricks. I have sometimes at a concert
attended by a common audience, placed myself so as to see all their faces, and observed no signs of pleaslı re during the performance of much that was admired by the performers themselves ; while a plain old Scottish tune which they disdained, and could scarce be prevailed on to play, gave manifest and general delight. Give me leave on this occasion to extend a little the sense of your position, that 'melody and harmony are separately agreeable, and in union delightful ;' and to give it as my opinion, that the reason why the Scottish tunes have lived so long,
and will probably live for ever (if they escape being stilled in modern affected ornament), is merely this that they are really compositions of melody and harmony united, or rather that their melody is harmony. As this will appear paradoxical, I must explain my meaning. In common acceptation indeed, only an agreeable succession of sounds, is called melody, and only the co-existence of agreeing sounds harmony. But since the memory is capable of retaining for some moments a perfect idea of the pitch of a past sound, so as to compare with it the pitch of a succeeding sound, and judge truly of their agreement or disagreement, there may, and does arise from thence a sense of harmony between present and past sounds, equally pleasing with that between two present sounds. Now, the construction of the old Scotch tunes is this, that almost every succeeding emphatical note is a third, a fifth, an octave, or in short, some note that is in concord with the preceding note. Thirds are chiefly used, which are very pleasing concords. I use the word emphatical to distinguish those notes which have a stress laid on them in singing the tune, from the lighter connecting notes, that serve merely, like grammar articles, to tack the others together. That we have a most perfect idea of a sound just past, I might appeal to all acquainted with inusic, who know how easy it is to repeat a sound in the same pitch with one just heard. In tuning an instrument, a good ear can as easily determine that two strings are in unison, by sounding them separately, as by sounding them together; their disagreement is also as easily, I believe, I may say, more easily and better distinguished, when sounded separately : for when sounded together, though you know by the beating that one is higher than the other, you cannot tell which it is. Further, when we consider by whom these ancient tunes were composed, and how they were first performed, we shall see that such harmonical succession of sounds was natural and even necessary in their construction. They were composed by the minstrels of those days, to be played on the harp accompanied by the voice. The harp was strung with wire, and had no contrivance like that in the modern harpsicord, by which the sound of a preceding note could be stopt the moment a succeeding note began. To avoid actual discord, it was therefore necessary that the succeeding emphatic note should be a chord with the preceding, as their sounds must exist at the same time. Hence arose that beauty in those tunes that has long pleased, and will please for ever, though men scarce know why. That they were originally composed for the harp, and of the most simple kind, -I mean a harp without