Abbildungen der Seite

cans had finished their work to their own satisfaction. At his request, therefore, the American envoys signed early in the morning with Mr. Hartley, and Dr. Franklin sent an express to Versailles communicating the intelligence to Count de Vergennes, who then signed the definitive treaty with the British ambassador.

A short time afterwards, a commission arrived from Congress empowering Adams, Franklin, and Jay to conclude a commercial treaty with Great Britain. Communications passed between them and the British ambassador in Paris on the subject. But nothing was effected under this commission, and it became more and more evident, that the British cabinet had no serious design of forming such a treaty.

The definitive treaty was finally ratified by the two governments, and the drama of the Revolution was closed. The sentiments expressed by Dr. Franklin on this occasion, in a letter to his friend Charles Thomson, are worthy to be held in perpetual remembrance by his countrymen.

"Thus the great and hazardous enterprise we have been engaged in, is, God be praised, happily completed; an event I hardly expected I should live to see. A few years of peace, well improved, will restore and increase our strength; but our future safety will depend on our union and our virtue. Britain will be long watching for advantages, to recover what she has lost. If we do not convince the world, that we are a nation to be depended on for fidelity in treaties; if we appear negligent in paying our debts, and ungrateful to those who have served and befriended us; our reputation, and all the strength it is capable of procuring, will be lost, and fresh attacks upon us will be encouraged and promoted by better prospects of success. Let us, therefore, beware of being lulled into

a dangerous security, and of being both enervated and impoverished by luxury; of being weakened by internal contentions and divisions; of being shamefully extravagant in contracting private debts, while we are backward in discharging honorably those of the public; of neglect in military exercises and discipline, and in providing stores of arms and munitions of war, to be ready on occasion; for all these are circumstances that give confidence to enemies, and diffidence to friends; and the expenses required to prevent a war are much lighter than those that will, if not prevented, be absolutely necessary to maintain it."

Public attention in France was at this time so much excited by the pretended wonders of animal magnetism, that the government deemed it a proper subject for scientific inquiry. Geslon, a disciple and partner of Mesmer, by his experiments and artifices drew around him a multitude of followers, whose credulity he turned to a profitable account. Nine commissioners, selected from the members of the Royal Academy and of the Faculty of Medicine, were appointed by the King to investigate the subject. Dr. Franklin was placed at their head. They were employed at various times in their examinations from March, 1784, till the following August. Numerous experiments were performed in their presence, and all the most extraordinary cases were subjected to their inspection. Dr. Franklin himself was magneztied, but without effect. Every opportunity was allowed to Geslon to establish his facts and illustrate his principles. After a patient and protracted investigation, the details of which were embodied in an elaborate and interesting report by M. Bailly, the commissioners were unanimous in the opinion, that no proof had been given of the existence of a distinct agent, called an

imal magnetism, and that all the effects, which had been exhibited, might be produced and explained by the ordinary action of the imagination upon the nervous system.

Just before the inquiry commenced, Dr. Franklin wrote thus to M. de la Condamine; "As to the animal magnetism, so much talked of, I must doubt its existence till I can see or feel some effect of it. None of the cures said to be performed by it have fallen under my observation, and there are so many disorders which cure themselves, and such a disposition in mankind to deceive themselves and one another on these occasions, and living long has given me so frequent opportunities of seeing certain remedies cried up as curing every thing, and yet soon after totally laid aside as useless, I cannot but fear that the expectation of great advantage from this new method of treating diseases will prove a delusion. That delusion may, however, and in some cases, be of use while it lasts. There are in every great, rich city a number of persons, who are never in health, because they are fond of medicines, and always taking them, whereby they derange the natural functions, and hurt their constitution. If these people can be persuaded to forbear their drugs, in expectation of being cured by only the physician's finger, or an iron rod pointing at them, they may possibly find good effects, though they mistake the cause." Again, somewhat later, in a letter to Dr. Ingenhousz, he said; "Mesmer is still here, and has still some adherents and some practice. It is surprising how much credulity still subsists in the world. I suppose all the physicans in France put together have not made so much money, during the time he has been here, as he alone has done. And we have now a fresh folly. A magnetizer pretends,

that he can, by establishing what is called a rapport between any person and a somnambule, put it in the power of that person to direct the actions of the somnambule, by a simple strong volition only, without speaking or making any signs; and many people daily flock to see this strange operation."

Mr. Jay having returned to the United States, his place was supplied by Mr. Jefferson, who was joined with Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin in a new commission for negotiating treaties of amity and commerce with the principal European powers. Mr. Jefferson arrived at Paris early in August. They jointly wrote a circular letter to the foreign ambassadors at the court of Versailles, proposing to treat with their respective governments, according to the terms prescribed by Congress. Prussia, Denmark, Portugal, and Tuscany accepted the proposal, and negotiations were begun with the minister of each; but no treaty was finally completed except with Prussia. The answers from all the ambassadors, however, manifested a friendly disposition on the part of their sovereigns, who offered to the vessels of the United States the same freedom of access to their ports, that was allowed to those of other nations.*

For several months Dr. Franklin's time was chiefly taken up with these transactions in conjunction with his colleagues. Since the peace, his duties as minister plenipotentiary had become less burdensome. His correspondence was at all times a heavy task. During the war the relatives of the foreign officers, who served in America, wrote to him continually for information about their friends. Memoirs and projects innumerable were communicated to him on scientific subjects

* An account of some private incidents, may be seen in the APPENDIX, No. V.




and particularly on politics, government, and finance. People all over Europe, proposing to emigrate to America, applied to him for an account of the country and of the advantages it held out to new settlers, each asking advice suited to his particular case. To diminish the trouble of answering these inquiries, and to diffuse such a knowledge of his country as might be useful to persons, who intended to settle there, he wrote a pamphlet entitled Information to those who would remove to America, which he caused to be printed and distributed. It was translated into German by Rodolph Valltravers. In some instances he was much annoyed by correspondents, who had no claims upon him, and who wrote to him upon all sorts of subjects. It was published in a newspaper, that Dr. Franklin knew a sovereign remedy for the dropsy. This was repeated far and near, and letters came from every quarter, beseeching him to impart so invaluable a secret.

His desire to return home, and to spend the remainder of his days in the bosom of his family, increased upon him so much, that he repeatedly and earnestly solicited his recall. Deeming his services of great importance to his country, Congress delayed to comply with his request, and he submitted patiently to their decision. When he first asked permission to retire, he meditated a tour into Italy and Germany. Through his friend, Dr. Ingenhousz, physician to their Imperial Majesties, he received flattering compliments from the Emperor, and an invitation to visit Vienna. But he now found himself unable, from the infirmities of age and his peculiar maladies, to undergo the fatigues of so long a journey; and his only hope was, that he might have strength to bear a voyage across the Atlantic.

At length his request was granted, and Mr. Jeffer

« ZurückWeiter »