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family. My brothers and sisters and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was woth. This put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money ; and they laughed at me so much for my folly that I cried with vexation, and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
“This however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind ; so that, often when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Dont give too much for the whistle ; and so I saved my money.
“As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for their whistles.
“When I saw any too ambitious of court favours, -sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends to attain it-I have said to myself—this man gives too much for his whistle.
“When I saw another full of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect; He pays indeed, says I, too much for his whistle.
“If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship for the sake of accumulating wealth ; poor man, says I, you do indeed pay too much for your whistle.
“When I meet a man of pleasure sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations ; Mistaken man, says I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure : you give too much for your whistle.
“ If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, ail above his fortune, for which he contracts debts and ends his career in a prison ; Alas ! says I, he has paid dear, very dear for his whistle.
“When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an illnatured brute of a husband; what a pity it is, says I, that she has paid 80 much for a whistle.
“ In short, I conceived that great part of the miseries of mankind, were brought upon them, by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistle.
“ Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I corso
sider that with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting--for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auotion, I might easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.
“Adieu, my dearest friend, and believe me ever yours very sincerely, and with unalterable affection."
“ The Ephemera-an Emblem of Human Life," was addressed to the same lady, being another of those humorous pieces which served the writer as a relief from his weighty cares and contributed to the enjoyment of those around him. The substance of the paper however appeared in The Pensylvania Gazette, so early as 1735, in an essay On Human Vanity." We insert it in its much improved dress.
“ You may remember my dear friend, that when we spent that happy day in the delightful and sweet society of Moulin Joly, I stopped a little in one of our walks and stayed some time behind the company, We had been shown numberless skeletons of a kind of little fly, called an ephemera, whose successive generations, we are told, were bred and expired within the day. I happened to see a living company of them on a leaf, who appeared to be engaged in conversation. You know I understand all the inferior animal tongues. My too great application to the study of them is the best excuse I can give for the little progress I have
made in your charming language. I listened through curiosity to the discourse of these little creatures; but as they in their national vivacity, spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their conversation. I found, however, by some broken expressions that I heard now and then, they were disputing warmly on the merit of two foreign musicians, one a cousin, the other a moscheto ; in which dispute they spent their time, seemingly as regardless of the shortness of life as if they had been sure of living a week. Happy people ! thought I; you are certainly under a wise, just, and mild government, since you have no public grievances to complain of, nor any other object of contention but the perfections or imperfections of foreign music. I turned my head front them to an old grey-headed one, who was single on another leaf, and talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy, I put it down in writing, in hopes it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so much indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements--her delicious company and heavenly harmony.
"It was,' says be, the opinion of learned philosophers of our race, who lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world, the Moulin Joly, could not itself subsist more than eighteen hours; and I think there was some foundation for that opinion, since by the apparent motion of the great luminary that gives light to all nature, and which in my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end of the earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness, necessarily producing death and destruction. I have lived seven of those hours: a great age, being no less than 420 minutes of time, How very few of us continue so long! I have seen generations born, fiourish, and expire. My present friends are the children and grandchildren of the friends of my youth, who are now, alas, no more! and I must soon follow them; for, by the common course of nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labour in amassing honeydew on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy! What the political struggles I have been engaged in, for the good of my compatriot inhabitants of this bush, or my philosophical studies for the benefit of our race in general ; for in politics (what can laws do without morals ?) our present race of ephemeræ will in a course of minutes become corrupt, like those of other and older bushes, and consequently as wretched. And in philosophy how small our progress ! Alas, art is
long, and life is short! My friends would comfort me with the idea of a name, they say, I shall leave bebind me; and they tell me I have lived long enough to nature and to glory. But, what will fame be to an ephemera who no longer exists ? and what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly shall come to its end, and be buried in an universal ruin ?
“ To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid pleasures now remain, but the reflection of a long life spent in meaning well, the sensible conversation of a few good larly ephemeræ, and now and then a smile and a tune from the ever amiable Brillante."
RETURN TO AMERICA IN 1775.
The very day after his arrival at his home, Franklin was unanimously chosen by the Assembly of Pensylvania, a delegate to the second Continental Congress, which was to meet in Philadelphia on the 10th of May. At this time the whole country was thrown into a state of extreme agitation by the news of the conflict at Lexington and Concord, in which the British troops were the aggressors. The yeomanry of New England, as if moved by a simultaneous impuise, seized their arms and hastened to the scene of action. The indignation of the people was everywhere ioused to the highest pitch, and the cry of war resounded from one end of the continent to the other. In short, the conflict mentioned may be said to have rendered the breach botween the two parties irreparable.
In addition to the duties in Congress, Franklin had a very laborious service to perform as chairman of the Committee of Safetv, appointed by the Assembly of Pensylvania. This committee consisted of twentyfive members. They were authorized to call the militia into actual service, whenever they should judge it necessary,--to pay and furnish them with supplies, and to provide for the defence of the province ; together with various other highly responsible and important powers. Franklin laboured in it with extraordinary diligence during eight months when he was called away upon another service. “My time," says he,
was never more fully employed ; in the morning at six, I am at the Committee of Safety, which committee holds till near nine, when I am at Congress, and that sits till after four in the afteruoon. Both these bodies proceed with the greatest unanimity.”
While thus actively engaged, Franklin drew up and presented to Congress, a plan of confederation. It was not acted upon at that time, but it served as a basis for a more extended plan, when Congress were better prepared to consider the subject. In some of its articles it differed essentially from the one that was afterwards adopted, and approached more nearly to the present constitution.
The post-office establishment, which had existed under the British government, was broken up by the disorders of the times. Congress had therefore to make provision for a new one, appointing Franklin, postmaster-general, with a salary of one tbousand dollars a year.
For several months the proceedings of Congress turned mostly on military affairs. An army was to be raised, organized, and provided for. The wisdom, experience, and mental resources of every member were in as much demand as diligence, resolution, zeal, and public spirit. We find Franklin, notwithstanding his advanced age, taking a part in almost every important measure with all the ardour and activity of youth. He was placed at the head of the Commissioners for Indian affairs in the middle department; and few of the younger members served on so many committees requiring energy and close application. Among these were the committees for devising ways and means to protect the commerce of America--for establishing a war-office--for drawing up a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers--for preparing the device of a national seal, &c. · As soon as Congress had determined to raise an army, and had selected a commander-in-chief and the other principal officers, they appointed themselves to the business of finance, and emitted two millions of dollars in bills of credit. This was the beginning of the continental paper-money system. Franklin entered deeply into this subject, by his writings and otherwise. Indeed, no pen was more constantly or more effuctually at work during this period than his; being a man who had the great wisdom through life, to appear only to act with others, when he was acting for them. It was now too that, while fleets and armies were pouring in upon her shores, there was established in America the sight unparalleled in history of fifty or sixty intrepid senators sitting down to originate a new and supreme government, in opposition to the united councils, and strength of one of the mightiest empires of the world.
The army at Cambridge, employed in besieging the British forces in