Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

cheerfulness ever forsook him. His memory on the 17th of April, 1790, about eleven was tenacious to the very last; and he seem- o'clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a ed to be an exception to the general rule,- long and useful life of eighty-four years and that at a certain period of life, the organs three months."* which are subservient to this faculty become The following account of his funeral, and callous; a remarkable instance of which is, the honours paid to his memory, is derived that he learned to speak French after he had from an anonymous source, but is correct. attained the age of seventy!

** All that was mortal of this great man was In the beginning of April, 1790, he was at- interred on the 21st of April, in the cemetery tacked with a fever and complaint of his of Christ church, Philadelphia, in that part breast, which terminated his existence. The adjoining to Arch street, N. W. corner, in following account of his last illness was writ- order that, if a monument should be erected ten by his friend and physician, Dr. Jones. over his grave, it might be seen to more ad

The stone, with which he had been af- vantage. flicted for several years, had for the last “ Never was any funeral so numerously and twelve months confined him chiefly to his so respectably attended in any part of the bed; and during the extremely painful par- States of America. The concourse of people oxysms, he was obliged to take large doses assembled upon this occasion was immense. of laudanum to mitigate his tortures-still

, in All the bells in the city were muffled, and the the intervals of pain, he not only amused him- very newspapers were published with black self with reading and conversing cheerfully borders. The body was interred amidst peals with his family, and a few friends who visited of artillery; and nothing was omitted that him, but was often employed in doing busi- could display the veneration of the citizens ness of a public as well as private nature, for such an illustrious character. with various persons who waited on him for “ The congress ordered a general mournthat purpose; and in every instance displayed, ing for one month, throughout America ; the not only that readiness and disposition of do- National Assembly of France paid the same ing good, which was the distinguishing cha- compliment for three days; and the commons racteristic of his life, but the fullest and of Paris, as an extraordinary tribute of honour clearest possession of his uncommon mental to his memory, assisted in a body at the abilities; and not unfrequently indulged him- funeral oration, delivered by the abbé Fauself in those jeux d'esprit and entertaining chet, in the rotunda of the corn market, which anecdotes, which were the delight of all who was hung with black, illuminated with chandeheard him.

liers, and decorated with devices analogous “ About sixteen days before his death, he to the occasion. was seized with a feverish indisposition, with “Dr. Smith, provost of the college of Philaout any particular symptoms attending it, till delphia, and David Rittenhouse, one of its the third or fourth day, when he complained members, were selected by the Philosophical of a pain in the left breast, which increased Society to prepare an eulogium to the memory till it became extremely acute, attended with of its founder; and the subscribers to the city a cough and laborious breathing. During library, who had just erected a handsome this state, when the severity of his pains drew building for containing their books, left a forth a groan of complaint, he would observe vacant niche for a statue of their benefactor, —that he was afraid he did not bear them as " This has since been placed there by the he ought-acknowledged his grateful sense munificence of an estimable citizen of Philaof the many blessings he had received from delphia. It was imported from Italy; the that Supreme Being, who had raised him name of the artist is Francis Lazzarini ; it is from small and low beginnings to such high composed of Carara marble, and cost 500 rank and consideration among men—and guineas. made no doubt but his present afflictions were “ It was the first piece of sculpture of that kindly intended to wean him from a world, in size, which had been seen in America. Frankwhich he was no longer fit to act the part as- lin is represented in a standing posture; one signed him. In this frame of body and mind arm is supported by means of some books, in he continued till five days before his death, his right hand he holds an inverted sceptre, when his pain and difficulty of breathing en- an emblem of anti-monarchical principles; tirely left him, and his family were flattering and in his left, a scroll of paper. He is dressthemselves with the hopes of his recovery, ed in a Roman toga. The resemblance is when an imposthumation, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and dis * Three days previous to his decease, he desired his charged a great quantity of matter, which he daughter, Mrs. Sarah Bache, 19 have his bed inade: continued to throw up while he had sufficient his expression: an idea probably suggested by an ae strength to do it, but, as that failed, the or- quaintance with the custom of the ancients. --Mrs. gans of respiration became gradually oppress Bache having replied, that she hoped he would recover,

and live many years longer; he instantly rejoined, " ! ed—a calm lethargic state succeeded-and, I hope not."

OF

WAS PRESENTED BY

correct; the head is a copy from the excel- conquered his adversaries rather by the force lent bust produced by the chisel of Houdon. of reason, than assertion.” The following inscription is engraven on the

The advice of his death reached France at pedestal :

a period well adapted to excite great emoTHIS STATUE

tions: and in the National Assembly, 11th June, 1790, Mr. Mirabeau the elder, address

ed the assembly as follows: DR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,

“ FRANKLIN IS DEAD !" WILLIAM BINGHAM, Esq.,

[A profound silence reigned throughout the hall.] 1792.

“ The genius, which gave freedom to Ame

rica, and scattered torrents of light upon " Franklin's life,” says the anonymous Europe, is returned to the bosom of the writer of the foregoing, “ affords one of the Divinity ! finest moral lessons that can be offered up to “ The sage, whom two worlds claim; the the admiration, the applause, or the imitation man, disputed by the history of the sciences of mankind.

and the history of empires, holds, most un“ As a man, we have beheld him practising doubtedly, an elevated rank among the huand inculcating the virtues of frugality, tem- man species. perance, and industry.

Political cabinets have but too long noti“ As a citizen, we have seen him repelling fied the death of those who were never great the efforts of tyranny, and ascertaining the but in their funeral orations; the etiquette of liberty of his countrymen.

courts has but too long sanctioned hypocriti“ As a legislator, he affords a bright ex- cal grief.–Nations ought only to mourn for ample of a genius soaring above corruption, their benefactors; the representatives of free and continually aiming at the happiness of men ought never to recommend any other his constituents.

than the heroes of humanity to their homage. “ As a politician, we survey him, on one “The congress hath ordered a general hand, acquiring the aid of a powerful nation, mourning for one month throughout the fourby means of his skilful negotiations; and on teen confederated states, on account of the the other, calling forth the common strength death of Franklin; and America hath thus of a congress of republics, by fixing a central acquitted her tribute of admiration in behalf point to which they could all look up, and of one of the fathers of her constitution. concentrating their common force, for the “ Would it not be worthy of you, fellowpurposes of union, harmony, legislation, and legislators, to unite yourselves in this religidefence.

ous act, to participate in this homage render“ As a philosopher, his labours and his dis- ed in the face of the universe to the rights of coveries are calculated to advance the inter- man, and to the philosopher who has so emiests of humanity: he might, indeed, have been nently propagated the conquest of them justly termed the friend of man, the benefac- throughout the world? tor of the universe !

Antiquity would have elevated altars to “ The pursuits and occupations of his early that mortal, who for the advantage of the huyouth afford a most excellent and instructive man race, embracing both heaven and earth example to the young ; his middle life, to the in his vast and extensive mind, knew how to adult; his advanced years, to the aged. From subdue thunder and tyranny ! him the poor may learn to acquire wealth, and “ Enlightened and free, Europe at least the rich to adapt it to the purposes of benefi- owes its remembrance and its regret to one

of the greatest men who has ever served the " In regard to his character, he was rather cause of philosophy and of liberty. sententious than fluent; more disposed to “I propose, that a decree do now pass, listen, than to talk; a judicious, rather than enacting, that the National Assembly shall an imposing companion. He was what, per- wear mourning during three days for Benjahaps, every able man is, impatient of inter- min Franklin." ruption; for he used to mention the custom M. M. de la Rochefoucault and La Fayette of the Indians with great applause, who, after immediately rose, in order to second this molistening with a profound attention to the tion. observations of each other, preserve a respect The Assembly adopted it, at first by acclaful silence for some minutes, before they be- mation ; and afterwards decreed, by a large gin their own reply.

majority, amidst the plaudits of all the spec“ He was polite in his manners, and never tators, that on Monday the 14th of June it gave a pointed contradiction to the assertions should go into mourning for three days; that of his friends or his antagonists, but treated the discourse of M. Mirabeau should be printevery argument with great calmness, and ed; and that the President should write a let

cence.

[ocr errors]

ter of condolence, upon the occasion, to the merit. In this view, Dr. Franklin is almost Congress of America.*

unrivalled, having seldom undertaken more The following character of Dr. Franklin, than he accomplished. The world are too by one of his intimate friends, is so ably and well acquainted with the events of his politiaccurately drawn, that we cannot refrain ad cal career, to require, at this time, a particuding it to the foregoing.

lar enumeration of them. It may be presumed “ There is, in the character of every dis- the historians of the American revolution will tinguished person, something to admire, and exhibit them in proper colours. something to imitate. The incidents, that “ If Dr. Franklin did not aspire after the have marked the life of a great man, always splendour of eloquence, it was only because excite curiosity, and often afford improve the demonstrative plainness of his manner ment. If there be talents, which we can was superior to it. Though he neither loved never expect to equal; if there be a series of political debate, nor excelled in it, he still good fortune, which we can never expect to preserved much influence in public assemblies, enjoy, we still need not lose the labour of our and discovered an aptitude in his remarks, on biographical inquiries. We may probably all occasions. He was not fond of taking a become acquainted with habits, which it may leading part in such investigations, as could be prudent to adopt—and discover virtues, never terminate in any degree of certainty. which we cannot fail to applaud. It will be To come forward in questions, which, in their easy for the reader to make a full application nature, are indefinite, and, in their issue, proof these remarks in his contemplations upon blematical, does not comport with the caution the late celebrated DR. FRANKLIN. By his of a man, who has taught himself to look for death, one of the best lights of the world may demonstration. He reserved his observations, be said to be extinguished. I shall not at- for those cases, which science could enlighten, tempt any historical details of the life of this and common sense approve. The simplicity illustrious patriot and philosopher, as I have of his style was well adapted to the clearness nothing further in view than to make a few of his understanding. His conceptions were comments upon the most striking traits of his so bright and perfect, that he did not choose character.

to involve them in a cloud of expressions. If “ Original genius was peculiarly his attri- he used metaphors, it was to illustrate, and bute. The native faculties of his mind quali- not to embellish the truth. A man, possess fied him to penetrate into every science : and ing such a lively imagery of ideas, should nehis unremitted diligence left no field of know- ver affect the arts of a vain rhetorician, whose ledge unexplored. There were no limits to excellence consists only in a beautiful arrangehis curiosity. His inquiries were spread over ment of words. the whole face of nature. But the study of “But whatever claims to eminence Dr. man seemed to be his highest delight: and if Franklin may have, as a politician, or a schohis genius had any special bias, it lay in dis- lar, there is no point of light, in which his covering those things that made men wiser character shines with more lustre, than when and happier. As truth was the sole object we view him as a man or a citizen. of his researches, he was of course no sectary: eminently great in common things. Perhaps and as reason was his guide, he embraced no no man ever existed, whose life can, with system which that did not authorise. In more justice, be denominated useful.—Noshort, he laid the whole volume of nature thing ever passed through his hands, without open before him, and diligently and faithfully receiving improvement: and no person ever perused it.

went into his company, without gaining wis“ Nor were his political attainments less dom. His sagacity was so sharp, and his sciconspicuous than his philosophical. The an- ence so various, that, whatever might be the cients usually ranked good fortune among profession or occupation of those, with whom those circumstances of life which indicate he conversed, he could meet every one upon

his own ground. He could enliven every * The Congress of the United States thus expressed

conversation with an anecdote, and conclude RESOLVED, by the Senate and House of Representatires it with a moral. of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be requested

" The whole tenor of his life was a perpeto cause to be communicated to the National Assem tual lecture against the idle, the extravagant, bly of France, the peculiar sensibility of Congress, to and the proud. It was his principal aim to by the enlightened and free representatives of a great inspire mankind with a love of industry, temnation, in their decree of the eleventh June, one thou- perance, and frugality; and to inculcate such sand seven hundred and ninety. Signed

FRED. AUG. MUHLENBERG, duties as promote the important interests of Speaker of the House of Representatives. humanity. He never wasted a moment of Vico-President of the United States and time, or lavished a farthing of money, in folly

President of the Senate. or dissipation. Such expenses as the dignity Approved, March the 21, 1791.

of his station required, he readily sustained, Signed GEORGE WASHINGTON,

President of the United States. limiting them by the strictest rules of pro

He was

their sentiments in return.

*

*

[ocr errors]

*

priety. Many public institutions experienced owe my first instructions in literature to the his well-timed liberality; and he manifested free grammar schools established there: I a sensibility of heart by numerous acts of pri- therefore give one hundred pounds sterling to vate charity.

my executors, to be by them, the survivors or “ By a judicious division of time, Dr. Frank- survivor of them, paid over to the managers lin acquired the art of doing every thing to or directors of the free schools in my native advantage; and his amusements were of such town of Boston, to be by them, or those person a nature, as could never militate with the or persons who shall have the superintendance main objects of his pursuit. In whatever and management of the said schools, put out situation he was placed by chance or desig to interest, and so continued at interest for he extracted something useful for himself or ever, which interest annually shall be laid others. His life was remarkably full of inci- out in silver medals, and given as honorary dent. Every circumstance of it turned to rewards annually by the directors of the said some valuable account. The maxims, which free schools for the encouragement of scholarhis discerning mind has formed, apply to in- ship in the said schools, belonging to the said numerable cases and characters. Those who town, in such manner as to the discretion of move in the lowest, equally with those who the select men of the said town shall seem move in the most elevated rank in society, meet.—Out of the salary that may remain may be guided by his instructions. In the due to me as president of the state, I do give private deportment of his life, he, in many the sum of two thousand pounds to my exerespects, has furnished a most excellent mocutors, to be by them, the survivors or survidel. His manners were easy and accommo- vor of them, paid over to such person or perdating, and his address winning and respect- sons as the legislature of this state, by an act ful. All, who knew him, speak of him as a of assembly shall appoint to receive the same most agreeable man; and all, who have heard in trust, to be employed for making the river of him, applaud him as a very useful one. A Schuylkill navigable.” man so wise, and so amiable, could not but have many admirers, and many friends." During the number of years I was in bu

siness as a stationer, printer, and postmaster, The following are extracts from the will a great many small sums became due to me and codicil of Dr. Franklin:

for books, advertisements, postage of letters,

and other matters, which were not collected, “With regard to my books, those I had in when in 1757, I was sent by the assembly to France and those I left in Philadelphia, being England as their agent, and by subsequent now assembled together here, and a catalogue appointments continued there till 1775, when made of them, it is my intention to dispose of on my return I was immediately engaged in the same as follows:-My History of the the affairs of congress, and sent to France in Academy of Sciences in sixty or seventy 1776, where I remained nine years, not revolumes quarto, I give to the Philosophical turning till 1785, and the said debts not being Society of Philadelphia, of which I have the demanded in such a length of time, are become honour to be president. My collection in folio in a manner obsolete, yet are nerertheless of Les Arts et les Metiers, I give to the Ame- justly due. These, as they are stated in my rican Philosophical Society established in New great folio ledger E, I bequeath to the contriEngland, of which I am a member. My quarto butors of the Pennsylvania hospital, hoping edition of the same Arts et Metiers, I give to that those debtors, and the descendants of such the Library Company of Philadelphia. Such as are deceased, who now as I find make some and so many of my books as I shall mark on difficulty of satisfying such antiquated dethe said catalogue with the name of my mands, as just debts, may however be induced grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, I do to pay or give them as charity to that excelhereby give to him, and such and so many of lent institution. I am sensible that much my books as I shall mark in the said catalogue must inevitably be lost, but I hope something with the name of my grandson William considerable may be received. It is possible, Bache, I do hereby give to him, and such as too, that some of the parties charged, may shall be marked with the name of Jonathan have existing old unsettled accounts against Williams, I hereby give to my cousin of that me, in which case the managers of the said name. The residue and remainder of all my hospital will allow and deduct the amount, obooks, manuscripts, and papers, I do give to pay the balances if they find it against me." my grandson William Temple Franklin.My share in the Library Company of Phila “ I request my friends Henry Hill, esquire, delphia, I give to my grandson Benjamin John Jay, esquire, Francis Hopkinson, esquire, Franklin Bache, confiding that he will per- and Mr. Edward Duffield of Benfield, in Phimit his brothers and sisters to share in the ladelphia county, to be the executors of this use of it.

my last will and testament, and I hereby no“I was born in Boston, New England, and minate and appoint them for that purpose. VOL. I. ...2 B 17

[ocr errors]

“I would have my body buried with as lit- citizens, and having myself been bred to a tle expense or ceremony as may be." manual art, printing, in my native town, and

afterwards assisted to set up my business in Philadelphia, July 17, 1788.

Philadelphia by kind loans of money from two

friends there, which was the foundation of my CODICIL

fortune, and of all the utility in life that may

be ascribed to me, I wish to be useful, even "I Benjamin Franklin, in the foregoing or after my death, if possible, in forming and adannexed låst will and testament named, having vancing other young men that may be serfurther considered the same, do think proper viceable to their country in both those towns.to make and publish the following codicil or To this end I devote two thousand pounds addition thereto.

sterling, which I give, one thousand thereof to “ It having long been a fixed political the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in Mas opinion of mine, that in a democratical state sachusetts, and the other thousand to the inthere ought to be no offices of profit, for the habitants of the city of Philadelphia, in trust, reasons I had given in an article of my draw- to and for the uses, intents, and purposes, ing in our constitution; it was my intention hereinafter mentioned and declared. The when I accepted the office of president to de- said sum of one thousand pounds sterling, if vote the appointed salary to some public uses; accepted by the inhabitants of the town of accordingly, I had, before I made my will in Boston, shall be managed under the direction July last, given large sums of it to colleges, of the select men, united with the ministers schools, building of churches, &c. and in that of the oldest episcopalian, congregational

, and will I bequeathed two thousand pounds more presbyterian churches in that town, who are to the state, for the purpose of making to let out the same upon interest at five per Schuylkill navigable: but understanding since, cent. per annum, to such young married artithat such sum will do but little towards ac- ficers, under the age of twenty-five years, as complishing such a work, and that the project have served an apprenticeship in the said is not likely to be undertaken for many years town, and faithfully fulfilled the duties te to come, and having entertained another idea quired in their indentures, so as to obtain a that I hope may be more extensively useful, I good moral character from at least two redo hereby revoke and annul that bequest, and spectable citizens, who are willing to become direct that the certificates I have for what re- their sureties in a bond with the applicants mains due to me of that salary, be sold to for the repayment of the monies so lent with wards raising the sum of two thousand pounds interest, according to the terms hereinafter sterling, to be disposed of as I am now about prescribed, all which bonds are to be taken for to order.

Spanish milled dollars, or the value thereof in “ It has been an opinion, that he who re- current gold coin, and the managers shall keep ceives an estate from his ancestors, is under a bound book or books, wherein shall be ensome kind of obligation to transmit the same tered the names of those who shall apply for to his posterity; this obligation does not lie on and receive the benefit of this institution, and me who never inherited a shilling from any of their sureties, together with the sums lent, ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is the dates, and other necessary and proper not diminished by some accident before my records respecting the business and couldeath, leave a considerable estate among my cerns of this institution. And as these loans descendants and relations. The above ok are intended to assist young married artificers servation is made merely as some apology to in setting up their business, they are to be my family, for my making bequests that do proportioned by the discretion of the mananot appear to have any immediate relation to gers, so as not to exceed sixty pounds sterling their advantage

to one person, nor to be less than fifteen “ I was born in Boston, New England, and pounds." And if the number of appliers so enowe my first instructions in literature to the titled, should be so large as that the sum will free gramınar school established there: I have not suffice to afford to each as much as might therefore already considered those schools in otherwise not be improper, the proportion to my will. But I am also under obligations to each shall be diminished, so as to afford every the state of Massachusetts, for having, un- one some assistance. These aids may thereasked, appointed me formerly their agent in fore be small at first ; but as the capital inEngland, with a handsome salary, which con creases by the accumulated interest, they will tinued some years, and although, I accidentally be more ample. And in order to serve as lost in their service, by transmitting governor many as possible in their tum, as well as to Hutchinson's letters, much more than the make the repayment of the principal borrowel amount of what they gave me, I do not think more easy, each borrower shall be obliged to that ought in the least to diminish my grati- pay with the yearly interest one tenth part of tude.—I have considered that among artizans the principal; which sums of principal and ingood apprentices are most likely to make good terest so paid in, shall be again let out to freslı

« ZurückWeiter »