Abbildungen der Seite

dignities, especially as they were intended to overwhelm him with disgrace, and ruin his credit and influence. But he suppressed his resentment, and took no steps either to vindicate himself, or to counteract the malicious arts of his enemies, conscious of having done only what his duty required. When the facts came to be known and understood, his conduct was applauded by every friend of liberty and justice in both countries. He gained new credit, instead of losing what he possessed, thus baffling the iniquitous schemes of his adversaries, whom he lived to see entangled in their own toils, and whose disgraceful overthrow it was his fortune to be a principal instrument in effecting.

From this time he kept aloof from the ministers, going no more to their levees, nor seeking any further intercourse with them. He contemplated bringing his affairs to a close in England and returning home; and with this view he put the papers relating to the Massachusetts agency into the hands of Mr. Arthur Lee, who had been appointed to succeed him whenever he should retire. Mr. Lee went over to the continent, to be absent several months; and then Dr. Franklin took upon himself again the business of the agency, thinking it improper to leave the post vacant, till the Assembly should be apprized of the absence of Mr. Lee, and of his own wish to withdraw.*

*The following extract from a letter, written by Dr. Rush to Arthur Lee, will show the estimation in which Dr. Franklin was at this time held by his countrymen. "There is a general union among the colonies," says Dr. Rush, "which no artifices of a ministry will be able to break. Dr. Franklin is a very popular character in every part of America. He will be received, and carried in triumph to his house, when he arrives amongst us. It is to be hoped he will not consent to hold any more offices under government. No step but this can prevent his being handed down to posterity among the first and greatest characters in the world." - Philadelphia, May 4th, 1774.


Franklin remains in England to await the Result of the Continental Congress.-Josiah Quincy, Junior.- Anecdotes. - Death of Dr. Franklin's Wife.- Family Incidents. He receives and presents the Petition of Congress. Rejected by Parliament. - Galloway's Plan of Union. Franklin's Attempts to promote a Reconciliation between the two Countries. Visits Lord Chatham. - Remarks on Indepen


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

- Mrs. Howe.. -He draws up Articles as the Basis of a Negotiation, at the Request of Dr. Fothergill and Mr. Barclay. — These Articles shown to the Ministers, and various Conferences concerning them. Interviews with Lord Howe respecting some Mode of Reconciliation. He drafts another Paper for that Purpose. - Lord Chatham's Approval of the Proceedings of Congress. - Lord Camden. Lord Chatham's Motion in Parliament. - Franklin's Interviews with him in forming a Plan of Reconciliation. — This Plan offered to Parliament, and rejected. Negotiation resumed and broken off. Franklin sails from England and arrives in Philadelphia.

[ocr errors]

In the mean time the news arrived, that a Continental Congress was about to convene, and, by the advice of his friends, Dr. Franklin concluded to wait the issue of that event. "My situation here," he observes, "is thought by many to be a little hazardous; for if, by some accident, the troops and people of New England should come to blows, I should probably be taken up; the ministerial people affecting everywhere to represent me as the cause of all the misunderstanding; and I have been frequently cautioned to secure my papers, and by some advised to withdraw. But I venture to stay, in compliance with the wish of others, till the result of the Congress arrives, since they suppose my being here might on that occasion be of use; and I confide in my innocence, that the worst which can happen to me will be an imprisonment upon suspicion, though that is a thing

I should much desire to avoid, as it may be expensive and vexatious, as well as dangerous to my health."

In this state of uncertainty and suspense he was greatly cheered by the arrival of Josiah Quincy, Junior, from Boston, the son of his old and valued friend, Josiah Quincy, of Braintree. Among the patriots of Massachusetts, who had signalized themselves in opposing the arbitrary acts of the British government, Josiah Quincy, Junior, was second to no one in talents, zeal, and activity. Having taken a conspicuous part in the late transactions, he was enabled to inform Dr. Franklin of all that had been done, and of the character and purposes of the prominent leaders; and it was a source of mutual satisfaction to find a perfect harmony of sentiment between themselves on the great subject, which had now become of vital importance to their country. In one of his letters, dated November 27th, Mr. Quincy says, "Dr. Franklin is an American in heart and soul; you may trust him; his ideas are not contracted within the narrow limits of exemption from taxes, but are extended upon the broad scale of total emancipation. He is explicit and bold upon the subject, and his hopes are as sanguine as my own, of the triumph of liberty in America."* Mr. Quincy was in England four months, and held almost daily intercourse with Dr. Franklin. He also visited Lord North, Lord Dartmouth, and some of the other ministers, at their request, conversed frequently with members of Parliament, and on all occasions defended the rights and conduct of his countrymen with

* Dr. Gordon, who had imbibed the prejudices of a party against Dr. Franklin, as is obvious in various parts of his History, omits in quoting this passage, the clause, "you may trust him,' and also, "his hopes are as sanguine as my own, of the triumph of liberty in America."- GORDON'S History, 1st ed., Vol. I. p. 434.

the same freedom and firmness, that he would have used among his most intimate friends in Boston.*

While Dr. Franklin was making preparations to leave England early 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. For some months she had complained of occasional ill health, but nothing serious was apprehended by her friends, although she was


* He relates the following anecdote. "In the course of conversation Dr. Franklin said, that more than sixteen years ago, long before any dispute with America, the present Lord Camden, then Mr. Pratt, said to him, For all what you Americans say of your loyalty, and all that, I know you will one day throw off your dependence on this country; and, notwithstanding your boasted affection for it, you will set up for independence.' Dr. Franklin said that he answered him, 'No such idea was ever entertained by the Americans, nor will any such ever enter their heads, unless you grossly abuse them.' 'Very true,' replied Mr. Pratt, 'that is one of the main causes I see will happen, and will produce the event.' -Journal, Dec. 14th.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Two years before Mr. Quincy's voyage to England, he made a tour for his health through the southern and middle provinces. At Philadelphia he fell in company with some of the Proprietary party, who spoke disparagingly of Dr. Franklin, and he wrote down an opinion of that kind in his Journal. On the same page of the Journal he afterwards made the following record. London, January, 1775. I am now very well satisfied, that the above named Doctor has been grossly calumniated; and I have one more reason to induce me to be cautious how I hearken to the slander of envious or malevolent tongues. This minute I thought it but justice to insert, in order to take off any impression to the disadvantage of Dr. Franklin, who I am now fully convinced is one of the wisest and best of men upon earth; one, of whom it may be said that this world is not worthy." -MS. Journal.

Mr. Quincy's health rapidly declined in England, and the voyage homeward exhausted him so much, that he died a few hours before the vessel entered the harbour of Cape Ann, on the 26th of April, 1775, at the early age of thirty-one. The Memoir of his Life, by his son, is a valuable tribute to his memory, interesting in its details, and a rich contribution to the history of the country.

[blocks in formation]

heard to express a conviction, that she should not recover. They had been married forty-four 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 attachment. 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 affection. So much did he rely on her prudence and capacity, that, when abroad, he intrusted to her the management of his private affairs. Many years after her death, in writing to a young lady, he said; "Frugality is an enriching virtue; a virtue I never could acquire myself; but I was once lucky enough to find it in a wife, who therefore became a fortune to me." The 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 a kindness and respect, which could proceed only from genuine sensibility and a high estimate of her character and virtues.


A late English writer, who in the main has done justice to Franklin, thinks it strange, that so little has been said of his family connexions; and insinuates, that, in his days of prosperity, he was less attentive to his poor relations, than would be expected from one, so remarkable for benevolence and philanthropy in his

*Mrs. Franklin died at Philadelphia, December 19th, 1774, and was buried in the cemetery of Christ's Church, on the side next to Arch Street.

« ZurückWeiter »