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of the maniac, Mesmer; the pretended effects of which had astonished all Paris. From Dr. Franklin's hand, in conjunction with his brethren of the learned committee, that compound of fraud and folly was unveiled, and received its death-wound. After this nothing very interesting was before the public, either in philosophy or politics during his stay; and he was principally occupied in winding up his affairs, and preparing for bis return to America.

These small offerings to the memory of our great and dear friend (whom time will be making still greater, while it is spunging us from its records) must be accepted by you, sir, in that spirit of love and veneration for him, in which they are made ; and not according to their insignificancy in the eyes of a world, which did not want this unite to fill up the measure of his worth.

His death was an affliction which was to happen to us at some time or other. We have reason to be thankful he was so long spared ; that the most useful life should be the longest also; that it was protracted so far beyond the ordinary span allotted to humanity, as to avail us of his wisdom and virtue, in the establishment of our freedom in the west, and to bless him with a view of its dawn in the east, where men seemed till now to have learned every thing-but how to be free.

Letter from the late Dr. Joseph. Priestley to the Editor

of the Monthly Magazine. *


I HAVE just read in the Monthly Review, vol. 86, p. 357, that the late Mr. Pennant said of Dr. Franklin,

* Inserted in the number for February, 180$. Editor, VOL. III.



that, “ living under the protection of our mild government, he was secretly playing the incendiary, and too successfully inflaming the minds of our fellow subjects in America, till that great explosion happened, which for ever disunited us from our happy colonies.”

As it is in my power, as far as my testimony will be regarded, to refute this charge, I think it due to our friendship to do it. It is probable, that no person now living was better acquainted with Dr. Franklin and his sentiments on all subjects of importance, than myself, for several years before the Ameriean war. I think I knew him as well as one man can generally know another. At that time I spent the winters in London, in the family of the Marquis of Lansdown, and few days passed without my seeing more or less of Dr. Franklin; and the last day that he passed in England, having given out that he should depart the day before, we spent together, without any interruption, from morning till night.

Now he was so far from wishing for a rupture with the colonies, that he did more than most men would have done, to prevent it. His constant advice to his countrymen, he always said, was “ to bear every thing from England, however unjust;" saying, that“ it could not last long, as they would soon outgrow all their hardships.” On this account Dr. Price, who then corresponded with some of the principal persons in America, said, he began to be very unpopular there. He always said, “ If there must be a war, it will be a war of ten years, and I shall not live to see the end of it.” This I have heard him say many times.

It was at his request, enforced by that of Dr. Fothergil, that I wrote an anonymous pamphlet, caleulated


to show the injustice and impolicy of a war with the colonies, previous to the meeting of a new parliament. As I then lived at Leeds, he corrected the press himself, and, to a passage, in which I lamented the attempt to establish arbitrary power in so large a part of the British empire, he added the following clause, “ to the imminent danger of our most valuable commerce, and of that national strength, security, and felicity, which depend on union and on liberty.”

The unity of the British empire, in all its parts, was a favourite idea of his. He used to compare it to a beautiful China vase, which, if once broken, could never be put together again : and so great an admirer was he at the time of the British constitution, that he · said he saw no inconvenience from its being extended over a great part of the globe. With these sentiments he left England; but when, on his arrival in America, he found the war begun, and that there was no receding, no man entered more warmly into the interests of what he then considered as his country, in opposition to that of Great Britain. Three of bis letters to me, one written inmediately on his laoding, and published in the collection of his Miscellaneous Works, p. 365, 552 and 555*, will prove this.

By many persons, Dr. Franklin is considered as having been a cold-hearted man, so callous to every feeling of humanity, that the prospect of all the horrors of a civil war could not affect him. This was far from being the case. A great part of the day abovementioned that we spent together, be was looking over a number of American newspapers, directing me what to extract from them for the English oves; and, in reading them, he was frequently not able to proceed for the tears literally running down his cheeks. To strangers he was cold and reserved; but where he was intimate, no man indulged to more pleasantry and good humour. By this he was the delight of a club, to which he alludes in one of the letters above referred to, called the whi g-club, that met at the London coffeehouse, of which Dr. Price, Dr. Kippis, Mr. John Lee, and others of the same stamp, were inembers.

* Answering to page

of the present volume, Editor. 2 0 2


Hoping that this vindication of Dr. Franklin will give pleasure to many of your readers, I shall proceed to relate soine particulars relating to his behaviour, when Lord Loughborough, then Mr. Wedderburn, pronounced his violent invective against him at the privy-council, on his presenting the complaints of the province of Massachusetts (I think it was) against their governor, Some of the particulars may be thought amusing.

On the morning of the day on which the cause was to be heard, I met Mr. Burke, in Parliament-street, accompanied by Dr. Douglas, afterwards bishop of Carlisle ; and after introducing us to each other, as men of letters, he asked me whither I was going? I said I could tell him where I wished to go. He then asking me where that was, I said to the privy-council, but that I was afraid I could not get admission. He then desired me to go along with him. Accordingly I did; but when we got into the anti-room, we found it quite filled with persons as desirous of getting admission as qurselves. Seeing this, I said, we should never get through the crowd. He said, “ Give me your arm;" and locking it fast in his, he soon made his way to the door of the privy-council. I then said, Mr. Burke,


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you are an excellent leader ; he replied, " I wish other persons thought so too."

After waiting a short time, the door of the privycouncil opened, and we entered the first, when Mr. Burke took his stand behind the first chair next to the president, and I behind that the next to his. When the business was opened, it was sufficiently evident, from the speech of Mr. Wedderburn, who was counsel for the governor, that the real object of the court was to insult Dr. Franklin, All this time he stood in a corner of the room, not far from me, without the least apparent emotion.

Mr. Dunning, who was the leading counsel on the part of the colony, was so hoarse, that he could hardly make himself heard; and Mr. Lee, who was the second, spoke but feebly in reply; so that Mr. Wedderburn had a complete triumph. At the sallies of his sarcastic wit, all the members of the council, the president himself (Lord Gower) not excepted, frequently laughed outright. No person belonging to the council behaved with decent gravity, except Lord North, who, coming late, took his stand behind the chair opposite to me.

When the business was over, Dr. Franklin, in going out, took me by the hand, in a manner that indicated some feeling. I soon followed him, and going through the anti-room, saw Mr. Wedderburn there surrounded with a circle of his friends and admirers. Being known to him, he stepped forwards as if to speak to me; but I turned aside, and made what haste I could out of the place.

The next morning I breakfasted with the doctor, when he said, “ He had never before been so sensible of the power of a good conscience ; for that if he had not considered the thing for which he had been so 1


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