Abbildungen der Seite

be an independent power, they might properly assume and maintain this character in relation to other governments; and it was decided to make the first application to the court of France, and to proffer a commercial treaty, which should be mutually advantageous to both countries. Cartain negociations had already been set on foot with France, and to hasten them to a happy conclusion, Congress appointed three commissioners -Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee to act in this weighty affair. Deane was already in France, having been sent thither as a commercial and political agent. Lee was in England. Franklin made immediate preparations for his voyage. He left Philadelphia on the 26th of October, accompanied by two of his grandsons, William Temple Franklin, and Benjamin Franklin Bache.

As a proof of Franklin's zeal in the cause of his country, and of his confidence in the result, he raised, before he embarked, all the money he could command, being between three and four thousand pounds, and placed it as a loan at the disposal of Congress.

PARABLE AGAINST PERSECUTION. Franklin through life was an enemy to every species of persecution, on account of religious differences. On all proper occasions, he maintained the perfect liberty of private opinion on every matter, either of church or state, several times writing in favour of a general toleration of creeds. The following parable appeared originally in “ Sketches of the History of Man,” by Lord Kames, who says in that work, that "it was communicated to me by Dr. Franklin of Philadelphia, a man who makes a great figure in the learned world, and who would still make a greater figure for benevolence and candour, were virtue as much regarded in this declining age as knowledge," "The piece is here inserted for the entertainment of the reader, while the doctor may be supposed to be on his way to Paris.

1. “And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent, about the going down of the sun.

2. “And behold a man, bowed with age, came from the way of the wilderness, leaning on a staff.

3. “ And Abraham arose and met him, and said unto him, 'Turn in,


RO -DLS to cart lo foto 9 lo 29 Bon ds to 29 5. “And Abraham pressed him greatly, so he turned, and they went into the tent, and Abraham baked unleavened bread and they did eat.

6. “And when Abraham saw that the man blessed not God, he said unto him "Wherefore dost thou not worship the most high God, creator of heaven and earth ?

7. “And the man answered and said, 'I do not worship the God thou speakest of, neither do I call upon his name; for I have made to myself a god, which abideth always in mine house and provideth me with ail things.'

8. “And Abraham's zeal was kindled against the man; and he arose and fell upon him, and drove him forth with blows into the wilderness.

9. “And at midnight, God called urto Abraham, saying Abraham, where is the stranger ?!

10. “And Abraham answered and said, 'Lord, he would not worship thee, neither would he call upon thy name; therefore have I driven him out from before my face into the wilderness.'

11. “And God said, “have I borne with him three hundred ninety and eight years, and nourished him and clothed him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me; and couldst thou not bear with him one night ?'

12. “And Abraham said, 'Let not the anger of the Lord wax hot against his servant. LO! I have sinned, forgive me, I pray thee.

13. “And Abraham arose, and went forth into the wilderness and sought diligently for the man, and found him, and returned with him to the tent; and when he had entreated him kindly he sent him away on the morrow with gifts.

14. “And God spake again unto Abraham, saying, 'For this thy sin shall thy seed be afflicted, four hundred years in a strange land.

15. “But for thy repentance will I deliver them; and they shall come forth with power, and with gladness of heart, and with much substance.'»


An account of the notoriety which this parable has gained, especially as some writers have, without a knowledge of the facts, charged Franklin with plagiarism for allowing it to be published as his own-merits a particular notice. It is true, that Lord Kames does not say it was written by the Doctor; still, such an inference is fairly deducible from his language, and in this light it was understood by the public. At length some one lit upon a similar story in Jeremy Taylor's “ Liberty of Prophesying," where Taylor says, that it was taken from the “ Jews' Books." So vague a reference afforded no clue to its origin; but a Latin version of it was found in the dedication of a work by George Gentius, who ascribes it to Saadi the Persian poet ; so that its source still remains a matter for curious research. There can, however, be little doubt of its eastern origin.

The parable was imperfectly printed from Lord Kames's copy. The last four verses were omitted, and these are essential to its completeness and beauty as it came from the hands of Franklin. Nor are there any grounds for the charge of plagiarism, since it was published without his knowledge, and without any pretence of authorship on his part. In a letter to Mr. Vaughan, written a short time before his death, he says; “ The truth is, that I never published the parable, and never claimed more credit from it than what related to the style, and the addition of the concluding threatening and promise. The publishing of it by Lord Kames, without my consent, deprived me of a good deal of amusement, which I used to take in reading it by heart, out of any bible, and obtaining the remarks of the scriptarians upon it which were sometimes very diverting ; not but that it is in itself, on account of the moral, well worth being made known to all mankind."

A principal charm of this apologue is the felicity with which the scripture style is imitated, both as to the thoughts and the manner of expression. For this charm, as well as for the closing verses, which lend additional force to the moral, it is wholly indebted to Franklin; and it should moreover be observed, that the popular favour it has received, and the curiosity it has excited, are to be ascribed to the dress in which he clothed it. Till it appeared in this dress, it never attracted notice, although made public long before, in so remarkable a work as the one into which it was incorporated by Jeremy Taylor.

Franklin composed a piece which he called an Apologue that we also cite. It was written at the period of, and in allusion, to the claims of the American royalists on the British government.

APOLOGUE: A COUNCIL OF THE BEASTS. “ Lion, king of a certain forest, bad among his subjects a body of faithful dogs, in principle and affection strongly attached to his person and government, and through whose assistance, he had extended his dominions, and had become the terror of his enemies.

“Lion, however influenced by evil counsellors, took an aversion to the dogs, condemned them unheard, and ordered his tigers, leopards, and panthers to attack and destroy them.

“The dogs petitioned humbly, but their petitions were rejected haughtily; and they were forced to defend themselves, which they did with bravery.

"A few among them of a mongrel race, derived from a mixture with wolves and foxes, corrupted by royal promises of great rewards, deserted the honest dogs and joined their enemies.

“ The dogs were finally victorious ; a treaty of peace was made, iu which Lion acknowledged them to be free, and disclaimed all future authority over them.

The mongrels, not being permitted to return among them, claimed of the royalists the reward they had been promised.

" A council of the beasts was held to consider their demand.

“ The wolves and the foxes agreed unanimously that the demand was just, that royal promises ought to be kept, and that every loyal subject should contribute freely to enable his Majesty to fulfil them.

“The horse alone, with a boldness and freedom that became the nobleness of his nature, delivered a contrary opinion.

“• The king,' said he, has been misled by bad ministers, to war unjustly upon his faithful subjects. Royal promises, when made to encourage us to act for the public good should indeed be honourably acquitted ; but if to encourage us to betray and destroy each other, they are wicked and void from the beginning. The advisers of such promises, and those who murdered in consequence of them, instead of being recompensed should be severely punished. Consider how greatly our common strength is already diminished by our loss of the dogs. If you enable the kiug to reward these fratricides, you will establish a precedent that may justify a future tyrant in making like promises, and every example of such an unnatural trust rewarded, will give them additional weight. Horses and bulls, as well as dogs, may thus be divided

« ZurückWeiter »