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paration for the wellbeing of every individual in a future state of existence.
It is deeply to be regretted, that he did not bestow more attention than he seems to have done on the evidences of Christianity; because there can be little doubt, that a mind like his, quick to discover truth and always ready to receive it, would have been convinced by a full investigation of the facts and arguments adduced in proof of the Christian revelation; and especially because the example of such a man is likely to have great influence with others. Yet, when one expresses this regret, or censures this indifference, it behoves him to exercise more justice and candor than have sometimes been used, in representing what he actually believed and taught.
It had long been an opinion of Dr. Franklin, that in a democratical government there ought to be no offices of profit. The first constitution of Pennsylvania contained an article expressive of this sentiment, which was drafted by him. One of his speeches in the national convention was on the same subject. "There are two passions," said he, "which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall at the same time be a place of profit, and they will move Heaven and earth to obtain it. The vast number of such places it is, that renders the British government so tempestuous. The struggles for them are the true source of all those factions, which are perpetually dividing the nation, distracting its councils, hurrying it sometimes into fruitless and mischievous
wars, and often compelling a submission to dishonorable terms of peace. And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable preeminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters? It will not be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your government, and be your rulers. And these, too, will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their situation; for their vanquished competitors, of the same spirit, and from the same motives, will perpetually be endeavouring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people." He thought the pleasure of doing good by serving their country, and the respect inspired by such conduct, were sufficient motives for true patriots to give up a portion of their time to the public, without a pecuniary compensation beyond the means of support while engaged in the service. In his own case, he had an opportunity of putting these principles in practice. All the money he received as President of Pennsylvania for three years he appropriated to some object of public utility; and, if the whole fifty years of his public life are taken together, it is believed that his receipts, in the form of compensation or salaries, were not enough to defray his necessary
The speech made by him at the close of the convention has been commended for its moderation, liberal spirit, and practical good sense. In the concluding part of that speech he says, "I consent to this constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not
sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors. I hope, therefore, for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, that we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this constitution, wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered. On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the convention who may still have objections to it, would with me on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument."
The following description presents an interesting picture of Dr. Franklin's appearance and manner at this period of his life. It is an extract from a journal written by the Reverend Dr. Manasseh Cutler, of Hamilton, Massachusetts, who was distinguished as a scholar, and particularly as a botanist. While on a visit at Philadelphia, he called to pay his respects to Dr. Franklin. The extract is dated July 13th, 1787.
"Dr. Franklin lives in Market Street. stands up a court, at some distance from the street. We found him in his garden, sitting upon a grassplot, under a very large mulberry tree, with several other gentlemen and two or three ladies. When Mr. Gerry introduced me, he rose from his chair, took me by the hand, expressed his joy at seeing me, welcomed me to the city, and begged me to seat myself close to him. His voice was low, but his countenance open, frank, and pleasing. I delivered to him my letters. After he had read them, he took me again by the hand, and, with the usual compliments, introduced me to the other gentlemen, who are most of them members of the convention.
"Here we entered into a free conversation, and spent our time most agreeably, until it was quite dark. The tea table was spread under the tree, and Mrs. Bache, who is the only daughter of the Doctor, and lives with him, served it out to the company. She had three of her children about her. They seemed to be excessively fond of their grandpapa. The Doctor showed me a curiosity he had just received, and with which he was much pleased. It was a snake with two heads, preserved in a large phial. It was taken near the confluence of the Schuylkill with the Delaware, about four miles from this city. It was about ten inches long, well proportioned, the heads perfect, and united to the body about one fourth of an inch below the extremities of the jaws. The snake was of a dark brown, approaching to black, and the back beautifully speckled with white. The belly was rather checkered with a reddish color and white. The Doctor supposed it to be full grown, which I think is probable; and he thinks it must be a sui generis of that class of animals. He grounds his opinion of its
not being an extraordinary production, but a distinct genus, on the perfect form of the snake, the probability of its being of some age, and there having been found a snake entirely similar (of which the Doctor has a drawing, which he showed us,) near Lake Champlain, in the time of the late war. He mentioned the situation of this snake, if it was travelling among bushes, and one head should choose to go on one side of the stem of a bush, and the other head should prefer the other side, and neither of the heads would consent to come back, or give way to the other. He was then going to mention a humorous matter, that had that day occurred in the convention, in consequence of his comparing the snake to America; for he seemed to forget that every thing in the convention was to be kept a profound secret. But the secrecy of convention matters was suggested to him, which stopped him, and deprived me of the story he was going to tell.
"After it was dark we went into the house, and he invited me into his library, which is likewise his study. It is a very large chamber, and high-studded. The walls are covered with book-shelves, filled with books; besides there are four large alcoves, extending two thirds the length of the chamber, filled in the same manner. I presume this is the largest and by far the best private library in America. He showed us a glass machine for exhibiting the circulation of the blood in the arteries and veins of the human body. The circulation is exhibited by the passing of a red fluid from a reservoir into numerous capillary tubes of glass, ramified in every direction, and then returning in similar tubes to the reservoir, which was done with great velocity, without any power to act visibly upon the fluid, and had the appearance of perpetual motion. RR*