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man printer, one of my companions, an apprenticed hatter, having served out his time, was about to open shop for himself. His first concern was to have a handsome sign-board, with a proper inscription. He composed it in these words : John Thompson, Hatter makes and sells hats for ready money, with a figure of a hat subjoined. But he thought he would submit it to his friends for their amendments. The first he showed it to thought the word hatter tautologous, because followed by the words makes hats, which showed he was a hatter. It was struck out. The next observed that the word makes might as well be omitted, beause his customers would not care who made the hats; if good and to their mind they would buy, by whomsoever made. He struck it out. A third said he thought the words for ready money were useless, as it was not the custom of the place to sell on credit. Every one who purchased expected to pay. They were parted with, and the inscription now stood, John Thompson sells hats. • Sells hats ?' says his next friend; why, nobody will expect you to give them away. What, then, is the use of that word ?' It was stricken out, and hats followed, the rather as there was one painted on the board. So his inscription was ultimately reduced to John Thompson, with the figure of a hat subjoined.”
When war had fairly begun, and the colonies, by their Declaration of Independence, had finally separated from England, it became very important to make friends with other European powers. The Declaration was a protest to the world against the injustice of England, and an argument why the states should be a nation governing itself. But if a nation, then it must take its place among other nations, and send ambas
sadors to them. Besides, America had so long been dependent on England, and England had so steadily discouraged and forbidden all manufactures in her colonies, that the country stood in need of many things, as guns and means of carrying on the
there little money in the land, for the merchants could no longer sell to their customers in England. So Congress set about sending men to France and Spain and Holland in order that the United States might make friends with those countries, and receive aid and borrow money for carrying on the war. It was especially important to send a representative to France, for France was an enemy to England and could be of the greatest service to the new nation. It was very clear who was the best man to send : Dr. Franklin was chosen unanimously. He is said to have turned to a friend, when the result was announced, saying: “I am old and good for nothing; but as the store-keepers say of their remnants of cloth, • I am but a fag end, you may have me for what you please.'
Franklin was seventy years old when he went to France near the end of the year 1776, and there he remained until the war was over and peace was signed. He was now a very famous man, and as many of the French people were enthusiastic friends of America, chey took every opportunity of honoring Franklin. The French men of science welcomed him
among them, and wherever he went he was received with the greatest distinction. He established himself at Passy, a suburb of Paris, and not only minded American affairs, but made philosophical experiments and kept up a lively correspondence with his old friends in Eng. land and America.
“ You are too early, hussy,” he wrote good-naturedly to one of his English correspondents, “as well as too saucy, in calling me rebel ; you should wait for the event which will determine whether it is a rebellion or only a revolution. . . . I know
I know you wish you could see me; but, as you cannot, I will describe myself to you. Figure me in your mind as jolly as formerly, and as strong and hearty, only a few years older ; very plainly dressed, wearing my thin, gray, straight hair, that peeps out under my only coiffure, a fine fur cap which comes down my forehead almost to my spectacles. Think how this must appear among the powdered heads of Paris ! I wish every lady and gentleman in France would only be so obliging as to follow my fashion, comb their own heads as I do mine, dismiss their friseurs, and pay me half the money they paid to them.”
It was a hard task that Franklin had to perform in France. His countrymen came to him when they were in trouble. He had to watch the French government to see that they did not use the Americans for their own advantage. He had to borrow money for his government, and at last, when the war was over, he, with the other commissioners, needed to exercise the greatest wisdom to secure for the United States favorable terms. He felt his growing age. His wife had died several years before, and he had lost much of his property, but he never seemed to lose the cheerful spirit which he carried through life. He wrote to his old friend Mary Stevenson, now Mrs. Hewson :
“ At length we are at peace. God be praised, and long, very long, may it continue. All wars are follies, very expensive, and very mischievous ones. When will mankind be convinced of this, and agree to settle their differences by arbitration ? Were they to do it, even by the cast of a die, it would be better than by
fighting and destroying each other.
In looking forward, twenty-five years seem a long period, but, in looking back, how short! Could you imagine that it is now full a quarter of a century since we were first acquainted ? It was in 1757. During the greatest part of the time I lived in the same house with my dear deceased friend, your mother; of course you and I conversed with each other much and often. It is to all our honors that in all that time we never had among us the smallest misunderstanding. Our friendship has been all clear sunshine, without the least cloud in its hemisphere. Let me conclude by saying to you, what I have had too frequent occasions to say to my other remaining old friends : The fewer we become, the more let us love one another.'”
It was some time before the treaty of peace was finally ratified and Franklin remained in France. He wished to go home. He was old and feeble and tired of cares, but he was obliged to remain until Congress •should recall him. Meanwhile he watched events in America from a distance, and made shrewd comments on affairs there. In one of his letters to his daughter he makes this criticism on the American eagle :
“For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case ; but, like those among men who live by sharp ing and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is, therefore, by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all the king-birds from our country.”
At last he was able to return to America, and in the fall of 1785 he was again in Philadelphia. His countrymen received him with enthusiasm, and he was at once made president of the State of Pennsylvania, as the governor was then called. But he had had enough of public life, and he seemed to like better to spend his remaining years in the quiet occupations of an old man. He lived to see the country adopt the Constitution under which it has grown strong, and to welcome George Washington to the office of first President.
My malady,” he writes to the President, “ renders my sitting up to write rather painful to me; but I • cannot let my son-in-law, Mr. Bache, part for New York without congratulating you by him on the recovery of your health, so precious to us all, and on the growing strength of our new government under your administration. For my own personal ease, I should have died two years ago; but though those years have been spent in excruciating pain, I am pleased that I have lived them, since they have brought me to see our present situation. I am now finishing my eightyfourth year, and probably with it my career in this life; but whatever state of existence I am placed in hereafter, if I retain any memory of what has passed
1 The order of the Cincinnati was then forming, and Franklin criticised it as unrepublican.