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I should much desire to avoid, as it may be expensive and vexatious, as well as dangerous to my health."
In this state of uncertainty and suspense he was greatly cheered by the arrival of Josiah Quincy, Junior, from Boston, the son of his old and valued friend, Josiah Quincy, of Braintree. Among the patriots of Massachusetts, who had signalized themselves in opposing the arbitrary acts of the British government, Josiah Quincy, Junior, was second to no one in talents, zeal, and activity. Having taken a conspicuous part in the late transactions, he was enabled to inform Dr. Franklin of all that had been done, and of the character and purposes of the prominent leaders; and it was a source of mutual satisfaction to find a perfect harmony of sentiment between themselves on the great subject, which had now become of vital importance to their country. In one of his letters, dated November 27th, Mr. Quincy says, "Dr. Franklin is an American in heart and soul; you may trust him; his ideas are not contracted within the narrow limits of exemption from taxes, but are extended upon the broad scale of total emancipation. He is explicit and bold upon the subject, and his hopes are as sanguine as my own, of the triumph of liberty in America." Mr. Quincy was in England four months, and held almost daily intercourse with Dr. Franklin. He also visited Lord North, Lord Dartmouth, and some of the other ministers, at their request, conversed frequently with members of Parliament, and on all occasions defended the rights and conduct of his countrymen with
Dr. Gordon, who had imbibed the prejudices of a party against Dr. Franklin, as is obvious in various parts of his History, omits in quoting this passage, the clause, "you may trust him," and also, "his hopes are as sanguine as my own, of the triumph of liberty in America."- GORDON'S History, 1st ed., Vol. I. p. 434.
the same freedom and firmness, that he would have used among his most intimate friends in Boston.*
While Dr. Franklin was making preparations to leave England early in the spring, and looking forward to a happy meeting with his family, from whom he had been separated ten years, he received the afflicting intelligence of the death of his wife. She was attacked with a paralytic paralytic stroke, which she survived only five days. For some months she had complained of occasional ill health, but nothing serious was apprehended by her friends, although she was
He relates the following anecdote. "In the course of conversation Dr. Franklin said, that more than sixteen years ago, long before any dispute with America, the present Lord Camden, then Mr. Pratt, said to him, For all what you Americans say of your loyalty, and all that, I know you will one day throw off your dependence on this country; and, notwithstanding your boasted affection for it, you will set up for independence.' Dr. Franklin said that he answered him, 'No such idea was ever entertained by the Americans, nor will any such ever enter their heads, unless you grossly abuse them.' 'Very true,' replied Mr. Pratt, 'that is one of the main causes I see will happen, and will produce the event.'"-Journal, Dec. 14th.
Two years before Mr. Quincy's voyage to England, he made a tour for his health through the southern and middle provinces. At Philadelphia he fell in company with some of the Proprietary party, who spoke disparagingly of Dr. Franklin, and he wrote down an opinion of that kind in his Journal. On the same page of the Journal he afterwards made the following record. London, January, 1775. I am now very well satisfied, that the above named Doctor has been grossly calumniated; and I have one more reason to induce me to be cautious how I hearken to the slander of envious or malevolent tongues. This minute I thought it but justice to insert, in order to take off any impression to the disadvantage of Dr. Franklin, who I am now fully convinced is one of the wisest and best of men upon earth; one, of whom it may be said that this world is not worthy." -MS. Journal.
Mr. Quincy's health rapidly declined in England, and the voyage homeward exhausted him so much, that he died a few hours before the vessel entered the harbour of Cape Ann, on the 26th of April, 1775, at the early age of thirty-one. The Memoir of his Life, by his son, is a valuable tribute to his memory, interesting in its details, and a rich contribution to the history of the country.
heard to express a conviction, that she should not recover. They had been married forty-four years, and lived together in a state of uninterrupted harmony and happiness.
Their correspondence during his long absence, a great part of which has been preserved, is affectionate on both sides, exhibiting proofs of an unlimited. confidence and devoted attachment. He omitted no opportunity to send her whatever he thought would contribute to her convenience and comfort, accompanied by numerous little tokens of remembrance and affection. So much did he rely on her prudence and capacity, that, when abroad, he intrusted to her the management of his private affairs. Many years after her death, in writing to a young lady, he said; "Frugality is an enriching virtue; a virtue I never could acquire myself; but I was once lucky enough to find it in a wife, who therefore became a fortune to me." The little song, which he wrote in her praise, is marked with a playful tenderness, and contains sentiments creditable to his feelings as a man and a husband. In his autobiography and letters he often mentions his wife, and always with a kindness and respect, which could proceed only from genuine sensibility and a high estimate of her character and virtues. *
A late English writer, who in the main has done justice to Franklin, thinks it strange, that so little has been said of his family connexions; and insinuates, that, in his days of prosperity, he was less attentive to his poor relations, than would be expected from one, so remarkable for benevolence and philanthropy in his
* Mrs. Franklin died at Philadelphia, December 19th, 1774, and was buried in the cemetery of Christ's Church, on the side next to Arch Street.
intercourse with society and in all his public acts. To remove such a suspicion, it is only necessary to peruse his writings, and study his history. The tale of his early years is told by himself in his own simple and expressive language, and no one will say, that it is deficient in a lively concern for the welfare of his relatives, or in the natural sympathies of a son and a brother. His circumstances were as humble, and his fortunes as adverse, as those of any of his family; and, before he had gained a competency, many of them had passed off the stage. When his wife died, the last of his sixteen brothers and sisters, except the youngest, had been dead eight years, his father twenty-eight, and his mother twenty.
Neither his parents, nor more than two or three of his brothers and sisters, needed his assistance. His brother James died at Newport in Rhode Island, leaving a widow and children, whom he befriended and aided many years. His brother Peter died at an advanced age in Philadelphia, having been established there by Dr. Franklin, and assisted by him in procuring a support. His youngest sister, Jane, who married Edward Mecom, resided the most of her life in Boston, and was left a widow with several children. Her means of support were small, and her misfortunes many; but she was sustained by his affectionate kindness and liberal bounty as long as he lived, of which there are abundant evidences in her letters of grateful acknowledgment. More than any others of the family, she resembled him in the strength of her character and intellect. Her eldest son found a home in his family, till he had learned the printer's trade, when he was set up in business by his uncle. Dr. Franklin met in England a relation of the same name, but of another branch of the family, old and poor,
who had an only daughter eleven years of age. This child he took home to his lodgings in London, with no other than charitable motives, and had her educated and maintained at his charge till she was married.
No father was ever more kind, devoted, or generous to his own children. His eldest son, William, was his constant companion at home and abroad in his youth, and afterwards the object of his confidence and paternal regard, till he estranged himself by his violent political conduct, sacrificing the ties of kindred to the schemes of ambition. Francis Folger, his second son, died when he was only four years old, of whom his father said, "Though now dead thirty-six years, to this day I cannot think of him without a sigh." His daughter, Sarah, alone remained to soothe his old age, and administer to his last wants in a lingering disease. From her birth she experienced from him all that a father's fondness, indulgence, and counsel could bestow, and he bequeathed to her the principal part of the fortune, which he had acquired by years of laborious industry, and by the habitual practice of his rigid maxims of economy and prudence. On all occasions he was prompt to assist the necessitous, and liberal in his benefactions and deeds of charity. For public objects his contributions were in full proportion to his means. He had a delicate way of giving money, which he called lending it for the good of mankind. To an English clergyman, a prisoner in France, whose wants he relieved by a sum of money, he wrote; "Some time or other you may have an opportunity of assisting with an equal sum a stranger who has equal need of it. Do so. By that means you will discharge any obligation you may suppose yourself under to me. Enjoin him to do the same on occasion. By pursuing such a practice, much