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a certain lady a well known player at chess, who proved to be a sister of Lord Howe, desired his acquaintance, and Mr. Rapier, his informant, was, if agreeable, to introduce him. Franklin readily consented, not conjecturing, he says, at the time, that any political business was to be connected with his visits; but one evening, after playing a game, the lady said :-“ And what is to be done with this dispute between Great Britain and the colonies? I hope we are not to have a civil war." "They should kiss and be friends," said the philosopher; “what can they do better ?” “I have often said," replied she, “that I wished government would employ you to settle the dispute for them, I am sure nobody could do it so well ; don't you think the thing is practicable ?" “ Undoubtedly, Madam," rejoined Franklin, “ if the parties are both disposed to reconciliation, for the two countries have really no clashing interests to differ about. It is rather a matter of punctilio, which two or three reasonable people might settle in half an hour; but the ministry will never think of employing me in that good work, they choose rather to abuse me." “Ay,” said she, “they have behaved shamefully to you, and indeed, some of them are now ashamed of it, themselves." Such is an abstract of the conversation which was not altogether so accidental as Franklin at first supposed it.
As far as American affairs were under Franklin's guidance they were approaching a tremendous crisis. Ministers were creating him with respect and with contempt alternately. He was thought too much of an American to be supposed to have English interests at heart; while the more ardent republican leaders would have thought him too much of an Englishman in his conceptions to be a true American. On the whole, there is no part or period in the life of this great man, in which he shines with greater lustre than at this time. The whole weight of his public character and well-earned tame he threw into his efforts for the public peace. The associate of Howe, and the friend and counsellor of Chatham, it is mournful to see him retiring from amongst the constellation of England's great men, to rise in another hemisphere amidst her rivals and her foes. But the ministry acted towards him with as much private meanness, as with public bad faith. While they trified with Franklin as a diplomatist, he was harassed in the Court of Chancery by those whom he had good reason to suppose their agents, (on the subject of Hutchinson's letters), until disgusted with his situation, he resolved to seek his native shores.
It was shortly before leaving England that he sketched a little emblem
atical design of the approaching terrific struggle, representing the general prospects of Great Britain and America, after the manner of the hieroglyphics which frequently appear in the title pages of our almanacks, containing a silent prediction of the chief events of the year. This was afterwards engraved on a copper-plate, struck off upon cards, and printed on hall a sheet of paper, accompanied by the following explanation of the plate-Great Britain is supposed to have been placed nipon the globe, but the colonies (that is, her limbs) being severed from her, she is seen lifting up lier eyes and mangled stumps to heaven. Her shield, which she is unable to wield, lies useless by her side ; her lance has pierced New England, the laurel branch has fallen from the hand of Pensylvania; the English oak has lost its head, and stands a bare trunk with a few withered branches ; briars and thorns are on the ground beneath it, the British ships have brooms on their topmast heads, denoting their being on sale ; and Britannia herself is seen sliding off the world (no longer able to hold its balance) her fragments overspread with the label-Date obolumn Belisario."
THE MORAL. “ History affords us many instances of the ruin of states by the prosecution of measures ill-suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favour of one part of the people, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of rights, protection, privileges, and advantages is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy ; it being a matter of no moment to the state, whether a subject grow rich, and flourishing on the Thames or the Ohio, in Edinburgh or Dublin. These measures nover fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favoured and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affection, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connexions necessarily ensues, by which the who state is weakened and perhaps ruined for ever."
Franklin had been greatly charmed with the splendid powers of Lord. Chatham, and won by his distinguished friendship; and with this celebrated statesman, as well as with Lord Howe, he had latterly held frequent and confidential intercourse. Every effort, however, through their influence or otherwise to reconcile the bitter animosities and the angry differences between Great Britain and her colonies, proved utterly unavailing. The Doctor had already forfeited the favour of the existing
ministry; and he had been superseded as postmaster-general of the colonies. It is manifest from his correspondence and his acts, that hitherto he had cherished the most ardent attachment to Britain, considering himself a subject of King George, and being most earnest to maintain the glory of the empire ; above all, deploring every circumstance which threatened the discontinuance of the colonial connexion. The infatuation of the government, and the prejudices of the British people, therefore, deeply afflicted him, especially as it was his sincere and expressed conviction, that by only observing the plain and simple dictates of justice and fair treatment, Britain inight continue to govern America for an indefinite period. Finding, however, that it was determined on to bring the matter to a speedy decision by the edge of the sword, the whole soul of Franklin seems to have undergone a revulsion ; so that hereafter, as testified by his unwavering conduct, he is to be viewed as no longer a Briton or a friend of her snpremacy, but a thorough American, eager to cultivate an alliance with France, or whatever other nation esponsed the cause of his native country, Sorely wounded in his feelings, with a sorrowful spirit, and sad foreboding in regard to the in. terests of humanity and the progress of civilisation, he made preparation for returning home. In March, 1775, Franklin set sail once more from the shores of England for the land of his birth and of his most patriotic affections
'Thus closed every effort, of various good and great men, to heal the direst breach that was ever made in the noble structure of the British empire. It became now nothing but an appeal to arms; and while, on the one hand, vacillation, weakness, and attempted tyranny marked throughout the councils of the mother country in this unhappy juncture, it must, on the other be remembered that successful war is ever the argument of might, not right; and that the result of the ensuing contest was as much effected by French jealousy of Great Britain, as by American resistance or prowess.
While Franklin was making preparations to leave England in the spring, and looking forward to a happy meeting with his family, from whom he had been separated ten years, he received the afflicting intelligence of the death of his wife. She was attacked with a paralytic stroke which she survived only five days. They had been married fortyfour years, and lived together in a state of uninterrupted harmony and happiness. Their correspondence during his long absence, a great part of which has been preserved, is affectionate on both sides, exhibiting
proofs of an unlimited confidence and devoted affection. He omitted no opportunity to send her whatever he thought would contribute to her convenience and comfort, accompanied by numerous little tokens of remembrance and love. So much did he rely on her prudence and capacity, that, when abroad, he entrusted to her the management of his private affairs. Many years after her death, in writing to a young lady, he says :
“Frugality is an enriching virtue, a virtue I never could acquire myself, but I was once lucky enough to find it in my wife, who therefore became a fortune to me.” A little song which he wrote in her praise, is marked with a playful tenderness, and contains sentiments creditable to his feelings as a man and a husband. In his autobiography and letters he often mentions his wife, and always with kindness and respect, such as could proceed only from genuine sensibility and a high estimate of her character and virtues.
As regards Franklin's sentiments and feelings on death there will hereafter occur a striking opportunity for their manifestation, viz., when he himself was near to the brink of the grave, and had a clear view of his condition. With reference, however, to the manner in which he reasoned ou the decease of those dear to him, while he was in the vigour of his days, there is a remarkable illustration in a letter addressed to Miss Hubbard on the death of his brother, Mr. John Franklin, which may be appropriately cited here.
“I condole with you," says the writer ; “ we have lost a most dear and valuable relative. But it is the will of God and nature, that these mortal bodies be laid aside, when the soul is to enter into real life. This is rather an embryo state,--a preparation for living. A man is not completely born until he be dead. Why then should we grieve that a new child is born among the immortals---a new member added to their happy society? We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes, and afford us pain instead of pleasure -instead of an aid, become an incumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given-it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We ourselves in some cases prudently choose a partial death. A mangled painful limb, which cannot be restored, we willingly cut off. He who plucks out a tooth, parts with it freely, since the pain goes with it; and he who quits the whole body, parts at once with all pains, and
possibilities of pains and diseases it was liable to, or capable of making him suffer.
“Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure which is to last for ever. His chair was ready first, and he has gone before us. We could not all start conveniently together; and why should you and I grieve at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him. Adieu."
These striking views are fitted to afford great consolation to the good when meditating on the immortal state and destinies of those who are heirs to the kingdom of heaven ; and it would have been well had Franklin's philosophy, in the present instance, at least, recognised more pointedly the indispensable relationship between certain conditions and attainments on earth, and the glorious joys of the blessed in the endless ages of eternity.
It may be acceptable to relieve the details of national animosities and infatuation, with some specimens of Franklin's characteristic writings, especially when he betook himself to the composition of pieces intended for the improvement of manners, the amendment of heart and conduct, and the inculcation of lessons calculated to render life cheerful, innocent and happy. He was famous through life for a playful and gentle humour in the style of such writings, and even when engaged on subjects which seemed to repel any sally of the kind. The paper on the Morals of Chess is an instructive and very pleasant example of the author's manner, which may be aptly introduced with an anecdote, belonging however to a later period of his life than we have yet arrived at. The following is the amusing little story :
Franklin was so immoderately fond of chess, that one evening at Passy, he sat at that amusement from six in the afternoon till sun-rise. On the point of losing one of his games, his king was attacked by what is called a check, but an opportunity offering at the same time of giving a fatal blow to his adversary, provided he neglected the defence of his king, he chose to do so, though contrary to the rules, and made his
Sir," said the French gentleman, his antagonist, “ you cannot do that, and leave your king in check," " I see he is in check,” said the doctor, “but I shail not defend him. If he was a good king like yours, he would deserve the protection of his subjects ; but he is a tyrant and has cost them already more than he is worth :-Take him, if you please ; I can do without him, and will fight out the rest of the battle, en Republican--as a commonwealth's man.