Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

entertained by him, at his place in Ireland. In a letter to Thomas Cushing, Franklin writes: “Being in Dublin at the same time with his lordship, I met with him accidentally at the Lord Lieutenant's, who had happened to invite us to dine with a large company on the same day. As there was something curious in our interview, I must give you an account of it. He was surprisingly civil, and urged my fellow-travellers and me to call at his house in our intended journey northward, where we might be sure of better accommodations than the inns would afford us. He pressed us so politely, that it was not easy to refuse without apparent rudeness, as we must pass through his town, Hillsborough, and by his door; and, therefore, as it might afford an opportunity of saying something on American affairs, I concluded to comply with his invitation. His lordship went home some time before we left Dublin. We called upon him, and were detained at his house four days, during which time he entertained us with great civility, and a particular attention to me, that appeared the more extraordinary, as I knew that just before we left London he had expressed himself concerning me in very angry terms, calling me a republican, a factious, mischievous fellow, and the like. “He seemed attentive to everything that might make my stay in his house agreeable to me, and put his eldest son, Lord Killwarling, into his phaeton with me, to drive me a round of forty miles, that I might see the country, the seats and manufactures, covering me with his own great-coat, lest I should take cold. In short, he seemed extremely solicitous to impress me, and the Colonies through me, with a good opinion of him. All which I could not but wonder at, knowing that he likes neither them nor me; and I thought it inexplicable but on the supposition that he apprehended an approaching storm, and was desirous of lessening beforehand the number of enemies he had so imprudently created. But, if he takes no steps towards withdrawing the troops, repealing the duties, restoring the Castle,” or recalling the offensive instructions, I shall think all the plausible behavior I have described is meant only, by patting and stroking the horse, to make him more patient, while the reins are drawn tighter, and the spurs set deeper into his sides.” On his return to London, Franklin waited on Lord Hillsborough, to thank him for his civilities in Ireland, and to discourse with him on a Georgia affair. “The porter,” says Franklin, “told me he was not at home. I left my card, went another time, and received the same answer, though I knew he was at home, a friend of mine being with him. After intermissions of a week each, I made two more visits, and received the same answer. The last time was on a levee day, when a number of carriages were at his door. My coachman, driving up, alighted and was opening the coach-door, when the porter seeing me, came out, and surlily chid the coachman for opening the door before he had inquired whether my lord was at home; and then turning to me, said, ‘My lord is not at home.’ I have never since been nigh him, and we have only abused one another at a distance.” Franklin was destined to experience still another instance of his lordship's caprice. Being at Oxford with Lord Le Despencer, Lord H. called upon Lord Le D., who was occupying the same chamber with Franklin, in Queen's College. “I was in the inner room, shifting,” writes Franklin, in a letter to his son, “and heard his voice, but did not see him, as he went down stairs immediately with Lord Le D., who mentioning that I was above, he returned directly, and came to me in the pleasantest manner imaginable. “Dr F.,’ said he, “I did not know till this minute that you were here, and I am come back to make you my bow. I am glad to see you at Oxford, and that you look so well,’ &c. In return for this extravagance, I complimented him on his son's performance in the theatre, though, indeed, it was but indifferent, so that account was settled. For as people say, when they are angry, if he strike me, I’ll strike him again; I think sometimes it may be right to say, if he flatters me, I’ll flatter him again. This is lev talionis, returning offences in kind. His son, however (Lord Fairford), is a valuable young man, and his daughters, Ladies Mary and Charlotte, most amiable young women. My quarrel is only with him, who of all the men I ever met with is surely the most unequal in his treatment of people, the most insincere, and the most wrong-headed.”

* Castle William, in Boston Harbor.

In April 1770, Parliament repealed the whole of Townshend's act for raising a revenue in America, excepting the tax on tea. But as the exception involved the whole principle against which the Colonists were contending, their dissatisfaction was increased, rather than abated, by this partially retrograde legislation. Franklin had, for the last three years, urged upon Americans the adoption of resolutions to forego the use of imported goods. To a committee of Philadelphia merchants he writes: “I hope you will — if backed by the general honest resolutions of the people to buy British goods of no others, but to manufacture for themselves, or use colony manufactures only — be the means, under God, of recovering and establishing the freedom of our country entire, and of handing it down complete to posterity.” In reply to questions addressed to him, in November 1769, by his friend William Strahan, member of Parliament, he had given it as his opinion that a repeal of the revenue laws, excepting the duty on tea, would not fully satisfy the Colonists, an opinion which was soon abundantly verified. He was now the commissioned agent of four of the American Colonies, namely, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts and New Jersey, and his time was fully occupied.

WI.

NOTWITHSTANDING the absorbing nature of his political business, Franklin gave much of his attention to scientific and economical questions of public utility. He corresponded with Dr. Cadwallader Evans, of Philadelphia, in regard to the culture of silk, and earnestly recommended a trial of the experiment in America. He hoped that our people would not be disheartened by a few accidents; “by diligence and patience the mouse ate in twain the cable.” In 1771 he made an excursion through various parts of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. At Leeds, he visited his attached friend Dr. Priestley, at Manchester, Dr. Percival, and at Litchfield, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, the celebrated poet and naturalist. In Ireland, he was handsomel entertained “by both parties, the courtiers and the patriots.” . The Irish Parliament being in session, he was, by a formal vote, admitted within the bar of the House, as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. In Scotland, he passed some days with Lord Kames and David Hume, and received many civilities from Dr. Robertson, Sir Alexander Dick, and other distinguished men. At Preston, in Lancashire, he met, for the first time, his son-in-law, Mr. Richard Bache, by whose deportment and character he was agreeably impressed. . With his old friend, Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, he passed some weeks. Miss Georgiana Shipley, a daughter of the “good bishop,” was subsequently one of Franklin's favored correspondents. We gather, from his letters to his son about this time, that, though well pleased with his residence in England, he had a strong inclination to return to America. He writes:

“Nothing can be more agreeable than my situation, more especially as I hope for less embarrassment from the new administration. A general respect paid me by the learned — a number of friends and acquaintance among them, with whom I have a pleasing intercourse ; a character of so much weight, that it has protected me when some in power would have done me injury, and continued me in an office they would have deprived me of ; my company so much desired, that I seldom dine at home in winter, and could spend the whole summer in the country-houses of inviting friends, if I chose it. Learned and ingenious foreigners that come to England almost all make a point of visiting me (for my reputation is still higher abroad than here); several of the foreign ambassadors have assiduously cultivated my acquaintance, treating me as one of their corps, partly, I believe, from the desire they have from time to time of hearing something of American affairs, an object become of importance in foreign courts, who begin to hope Britain’s alarming power will be diminished by the defection of her colonies; and partly, that they may have an opportunity of introducing me to the gentlemen of their country who desire it. The king, too, has lately been heard to speak of me with regard. These are flattering circumstances ; but a violent longing for home sometimes seizes me, which I can no otherwise subdue, but by promising myself a return next spring, or next autumn, and so forth. As to returning hither, if I once go back, I have no thoughts of it. I am too far advanced in life to propose three voyages more. I have some important affairs to settle at home ; and, considering my double expenses here and there, I Hardly think my salaries fully compensate the disadvantages. The late change, however (of the American minister), being thrown into the balance, determines me to stay another winter.”

In the summer of 1769 Franklin was one of a committee appointed by the Royal Society, to consider the best method

of protecting the cathedral of St. Paul's from lightning. The committee recommended the application of electrical conductors, and their report was adopted. In August, 1772, another committee of the Royal Society, of which Franklin was a member, visited, under the direction of the government, the powder magazines at Purfleet, for the purpose of considering the most effectual means for protecting them from lightning. Franklin drew up a report, which was accepted, in which the erection of pointed rods was advised. A controversy, of some notoriety in its day, grew out of the dissent of one member of this committee, a Mr. Wilson, who contended that the conductors ought to be blunt, inasmuch as if pointed they would attract the lightning. To this Franklin replied that the attraction was the very thing desired, for the charge is thereby silently and gradually drawn from the building, and conveyed without danger to the earth. Mr. Wilson still clung to his theory in regard to blunt conductors, and persuaded the king to change his pointed ones for blunt, at Buckingham House. One of Franklin's friends (Dr. Ingenhousz, a member of the Royal Society) wrote of Wilson's charlatanry in so heated a manner, that Franklin wittily remarked: “He seems as much heated about this one point as the Jansenists and Molinists were about the five.” The following clever epigram, upon the subject of the king's yielding to Wilson's arguments in opposition to Franklin's, appeared about this time:

“While you, great GEoRGE, for safety hunt,
And sharp conductors change for blunt,
The empire's out of joint ;
Franklin a wiser course pursues,
And all your thunder fearless views,
By keeping to the point.”

In 1773, while at the summer residence of his friend, Lord Le Despencer, Franklin assisted that gentleman in reparing an abridgment of the Book of Common Prayer. e wrote a Preface, in which he expresses his belief that “this shortened method, or one of the same kind, better executed, would further religion, remove animosity, and occasion a more frequent attendance on the worship of God.” The Catechism he abridged by retaining of it only

« ZurückWeiter »