Abbildungen der Seite

A par

his kingdom and contribute to its revenues. allel is pursued throughout between the actual conduct of the British government, and the pretended claims of the King of Prussia upon the inhabitants of Great Britain on account of their Saxon origin. Lord Mansfield was heard to say of this Edict, "that it was very able and very artful indeed, and would do mischief by giving in England a bad impression of the measures of government, and, in the colonies, by encouraging them in their contumacy." The good humor, which pervade both these compositions, and the pointed manner of expression, attracted to them many readers, who would scarcely have turned aside to a grave and argumentative discussion of the colonial controversy.

During his absence from London, in the summer of 1773, he passed a few weeks at the country residence of Lord Le Despencer, and employed himself, while there, in abridging some parts of the Book of Common Prayer. A handsome edition of this abridgment was printed for Wilkie, in St. Paul's Church Yard; but it seems never to have been adopted in any Church, nor to have gained much notice. The Preface explains his motives in this undertaking, and the principles upon which the alterations were made, with remarks on the objects and importance of public worship. At the conclusion he says; "And thus, conscious of upright meaning, we submit this abridgment to the serious consideration of the prudent and dispassionate, and not to enthusiasts and bigots, being convinced in our own breasts, 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."*

See Vol. X. p. 207, where the Preface is printed entire.

Many experiments were performed by Dr. Franklin, at different times and places, to show the effect of oil in smoothing the surface of water agitated by the wind. While on a tour in the north of England with Sir John Pringle, he tried this experiment successfully upon the Derwent Water at Keswick. Dr. Brownrigg was present, and, in answer to his inquiries afterwards, Dr. Franklin gave a history of what he had done in this way, and explained upon philosophical principles the singular fact, that had been established by his experiments. It was proved by numerous trials, that a small quantity of oil poured upon a lake or pond, when rough with waves, would speedily calm the waves, and produce a smooth and glassy surface. This had often been shown in the presence of many spectators. Indeed, he was accustomed in his travels to carry a little oil in the joint of a bamboo cane, by which he could repeat the experiment whenever an occasion offered. The Abbé Morellet mentions his having passed five or six days in company with Franklin, Garrick, Dr. Hawkesworth, and Colonel Barré, at Wycomb, the seat of Lord Shelburne, where he saw it performed with complete suc

[blocks in formation]

He explained as follows the operation of the oil in producing this effect. Waves are caused by winds, which so far adhere to the water as to raise it into ridges by their force. The particles of oil, when dropped on water, repel each other, and are also repelled by the water, so that they do not mingle with it. Hence they expand and diffuse themselves on the surface, till they meet with some obstruction, covering the water with an extremely thin and continu


* Mémoires de l'Abbé Morellet, Tom. I. p. 197.


ous film. The wind slides over this film, without coming in contact with the water, and thus the waves subside. The most remarkable thing observable in the process is the expansive power of the oil, by which a few drops will spread over a large surface, if they meet with no obstruction.*

Dr. Franklin's mind was always more or less intent upon philosophical studies, for which his habits of observation and reflection peculiarly fitted him; yet he wrote little on subjects of this kind during his second mission to England. His various political duties, and the deep interest he took in the affairs of his country, absorbed his time and thoughts. He wrote a few pieces, however, on electricity and other kindred subjects, and one on the analogy between electricity and magnetism. He also sketched the plan of an elaborate essay on the causes of taking cold. It was never finished, but he left copious notes, from which it appears that he made extensive investigations, and formed a theory by which he imagined, that the nature of the malady would be better understood, and that more easy and effectual preventives might be used.

A new edition of his philosophical writings was published at Paris in 1773, translated by Barbeu Dubourg, a man of considerable eminence in the scientific world, and apparently well qualified for the task he undertook of translator and commentator. There

The whole of the letter to Dr. Brownrigg is curious, containing anecdotes, and details of experiments. See Vol. VI. p. 357. Dr. Franklin did not pretend to have discovered this property of oil. He had read, when a youth, Pliny's "account of a practice among seamen of his time to still the waves in a storm by pouring oil into the sea," and had heard of a similar practice among seamen and fishermen in modern times. But he seems to have been the first, who tried experiments with the view of ascertaining the fact, and who attempted to explain its cause.

had already been two French editions, but M. Dubourg's is much superior to either of them, as well in the matter it contains as in the style of its execution. It is handsomely printed, in two volumes quarto, and includes several original pieces communicated to him by the author. It comprises nearly all he had written on electricity and other philosophical subjects, with a few of his political and miscellaneous papers. The translator's notes are valuable. A fifth edition of the philosophical writings was nearly at the same time published in London.


Hutchinson's Letters.- How they first became known to Franklin.His Motives for transmitting them to Massachusetts. - Proceedings of the Assembly concerning them.-Dr. Cooper's Remarks on that Occasion. - Petition for the Removal of Hutchinson and Oliver presented by Franklin.-Duel between Temple and Whately. - Franklin's Declaration that the Letters had been transmitted by him. - Whately commences against him a Chancery Suit. - Proceedings of the Privy Council on the Petition. Further Account of those Proceedings.- Wedderburn's Abusive Speech.-The Petition rejected. — Franklin dismissed from his Place at the Head of the American Postoffice.

We are now come to the date of a transaction, which contributed to reveal the origin of some of the most offensive proceedings of the British government against the colonies, and which subjected Dr. Franklin to much obloquy and abuse from the supporters of the administration.

In December, 1772, he procured and sent to Mr. Cushing, chairman of the Committee of Correspondence in Massachusetts, certain original letters, which had been written by Governor Hutchinson, LieutenantGovernor Oliver, and others, to Mr. Thomas Whately, a member of Parliament, and for a time secretary under one of the ministers. These letters, though not official, related wholly to public affairs, and were intended to affect public measures. They were filled with representations, in regard to the state of things in the colonies, as contrary to the truth, as they were insidious in their design. The discontents and commotions were ascribed to a factious spirit among the people, stirred up by a few intriguing leaders; and it was intimated, that this spirit would be subdued, and submission to the acts of Parliament would be attain

« ZurückWeiter »