« AnteriorContinuar »
dent for a time, to check the flighty unsteadiness of temper which, on several occasions, he had discovered; and, what I received from him I concluded to lay out in new letters (or types), that when I should give it to him entirely, it might be worth his acceptance; and, if I should die first, I put it in my will that the letters should be all new cast for him."
Taking leave of Franklin in his domestic character, we follow him in his progress in Europe. It is not our intention to dwell on his residence in England; indeed, the letter-books, which em. braced his correspondence during the two intervals of his agency in England, have been lost, and there are only very few of the letters contained in this volume, which advert to political matters. One of them, however, deserves to be noticed, and it consists of a complaint addressed to a friend in America, of a report which had been circulated of him in a Boston newspaper. In this letter he assures his friend that there was no truth in the pretended story of his being restored to favour in the court of England, or that he was appointed by this government to an office superior to that which he had previously resigned. So far from having any hope or promise of royal favour, he declared that he heard of nothing but royal and ministerial displeasure; which, however, as matters then stood, he regarded as an honour. This letter was dated September, 1774; and in it he assured his correspondent that he had neither seen nor held any communication with the ministry or any one of its members since the January before. The only public individuals with whom he conversed were the generous and noble friends of America in both houses of Parliament.
The office spoken of as that which Franklin had resigned was the situation of deputy-postmaster; and the integrity and unflinching virtue with which he performed his duty in that office, he has shewn in an instance which has come before the public. His fav mily, knowing that there were places under his, control, solicited him to give one to his nephew. Let Sir John Key and the followers of his moral doctrines listen to honest Benjamin Franklin, when he declares that it was ever a rule with him not to remove any officer who behaved well, who kept regular accounts, and paid duly, for such a rule was founded on justice and reason; he denied that he had shewn any indisposition to serve his relations, where he could do so without injury to others ; " but," said he, emphatically, “ if my friends require of me to gratify not only their inclinations but their resentments, they expect too much of me."
In 1767, Dr. Franklin paid a visit to Paris, and as there are at present few amongst our readers, we presume, who have not performed the voyage from Dovor to Calais, and the journey from Calais, we hope to be able to gratify them by the sketch of a traveller who preceded them in the same track very nearly seventy years ago.
1 At Dover, the next morning, we embarked for Calais with a number of passengers, who had never before been at sea. They would make a hearty breakfast, because, if the wind should fail, we
not get over till supper time. Doubtless they thought, that when they had paid for their breakfast they had a right to it, and that when they had swallowed it they were sure of it. But they had scarce been out half auf hour, before the sea laid claim to it, and they were obliged to deliver it up. So that it seems there are uncertainties, even beyond those between and the 'lip.' If ever you go to sea, take my advice, and live
sparingly a day or two beforehand. The sickness, if any, will be lighter and sooner over. We got to Calais that evening.
1. Various impositions ne suffered from boatmen, porters, and the like, on both sides the water. I know not which are most rapacious, the English or French, but the latter have, with their knavery, most politeness.
1. The women we saw at Calais, on the road, at Boulogne, and in the inns and villages, were generally of dark complexions; but arriving at Abbeville, we found, a sudden change, a multitude of both women and men in that place appearing remarkably fair. Whether this is owing to a small colony of spinners, wool-combers, and weavers, brought hither from Holland with the woollen manufactory about sixty years ago, or to their being less exposed to the sun than in other places, their business keeping different causes 'may club in producing the effect, but the effect itself is
, I as certain. Never was I in a place of greater industry, wheels and looms going in every house.
As soon as we left Abbeville, the swarthiness returned. · I speak generally'; for here are some fair women at Paris, who, I think, are not whis tened by arta. As to rouge, they don't pretend to imitate nature in laying
There is no gradual diminution of the color, from the full bloom in the middle of the cheek to the faint tint near the sides, por does it shew itselli differently in different faces. - I have not bad the honor of being at any lady's toilette to see how it is laid on, but I fancy I can tell you how it is or may be done. Cut a hole of three inches diameter in a piece of paper; place it on the side of your face in such a manner, as that the top of the hole may be just under the eye; then, with a brush dipped in the color, paint face and paper together; so when the paper is taken , there
91 will remain a round patch of red exactly the form of the hole. This is the mode, from the actresses on the stage upwards through all ranks of ladies to the princesses of the blood; but it stops there, the Queen not using it, having in the serenity, complacence, and benignity that shine so eminently in, or rather, through her countenance, sufficient beauty, though now
an old woman, to do extremely well without it.
We went to Versailles last Sunday, and had the honor of being presented to the King; he spoke to both of us very graciously and very cheerfully, is a handsome man, has a very lively look, and appears younger than be is. - In the evening we were at the Grand Concert, where the family sup in public. The table was half a hollow square, the service gold. When either made a sign for drink, the word was given by one of the waitersi 4 boire pour le Roi, or A boire pour la Reine. Then two persons came from within, the one with wine and the other with water in carafes; each drank a little glass of what he brought, and then put both the
carafes with a glass, on a salver, and then presented it. Their distance from each other was such as that other chairs might have been placed be-tween any two of them.
prir -H'The civilities we every where receive give us the strongest impressions of the French politeness, It seems to be a point settled here universally, that strangers are to be treated with respect; and one has just the same deference shewn one here by being a stranger, as in England by being a lady.'-pp. 253–255.
There are some long letters inserted in this collection, written for the purpose of recommending a most extraordinary change in the existing alphabet of the English language. It is no other than a proposal for nearly a new alphabet, in which all the words in the language were to be spelled according to the natural sounds of the letters, by the introduction of six new characters, and by certain changes in the vowels. The subject is scarcely worth dwelling upon, except that it may be adduced as one of those evidences which frail humanity is always ready to yield, of its alliance with the dross of the earth We think much better of Franklin tas an adviser of studious youth, than we do as an inventor of alphabets, and we have no hesitation in transcribing a useful precept which occurs in one of his letters--
. ja I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious, or that may be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars-in your memory, where they will be ready, either for practice on some future occasion, if they are matters of utility; for at least to adorn and improve your conversation, if they are rather points of curiosity. And, as many of the terms of science are such as you cannot have met with in your common reading, land may therefore be unacquainted with, I think it would be well for you to have a good dictionary at hand, to consult immediately i when you meet with a 'word you do not comprehend the precise i meaning of. This may at first seem troublesome and interrupting; but it is a trouble that will daily diminish, as you will daily find less and less occasion for your dictionary, as you become more acquainted with the terms; and, in the mean time, you will read with more satisfaction, because with more understanding.'
We now come, not without considerable anxiety, to the collection which we have formed of such passages as lie scattered through this volume, referring to the all important subject of religion. All that we have learned hitherto from the most authentic sources, respecting Dr. Franklin's spiritual belief, leaves us in doubt, as to whether we are to consider him as belonging to that community, in which profound conviction has enrolled every reasoning human being-we mean the community of Christians. We must at once dei clare, that there is nothing in this work to shed a ray of light, or which might lead us to the solution of the interesting problem. Dr. I'ranklin seems to us to have been prejudiced against Christianity, on account of the conduct of professing Christians. He had bois birth in a new world, where no systems of creed, sand no establishments of religous teachers were in existence; he looked to the eastern or antient continent: he saw Christianity there, and without inquiry be rejected it. Nothing would give us more pleasure than to hear, that Dr. Franklin, before his death, afforded a proper degree of consideration to this first of all the subjects which man has to consider. We are certain, if he had, that he would have been enrolled amongst the number of its followers, for he had too great a knowledge of men, he was endowed with too many virtuous instincts, not to appreciate the wonderful exactness with which the Christian principles apply to the state of man. No one possessed of the faculty of reasoning can doubt, on investigation, that these principles are so adapted to our condition in this life, that the very fact of their suitableness proves their divine origin. It is, therefore, with the utmost confidence we state, that, had Dr. Franklin inquired into the grounds of the Christian religion, he would have been an unhesitating Choistian, and even as it is, wel have strong reasons to believe that substantially he received the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Let us see what we can glean upon this interesting point in his lettersia
First of all, we find nothing in this volume which can i bet considered as reflections, or as in the least tending te depreciate Chris. tianity. Franklin 'sometimes speaks of particular forms and tenets,
which he candidly says he does not like: for instance, he writes to "one correspondent and tells him, “You express yourself as if you
thought I was against the worshipping of God, and doubt that good - works would merit heaven; which are both fancies of your own, I think, without foundation. I am so far from thinking that God is
pot to be worshipped, that I have composed and wrote a whole book lhof devotions for my own use; and I imagine there are few, if any, in
the world, so weak as to imagine that the little good we can do here can merit so vast a reward hereafter. There are some things in your New England doctrine and worship, which I do not agree with; but I do not therefore condemn them, or desire to shake your belief or practice of them.”
But then, whatever inference we may draw from these declarations, how can we avoid the favourable conclusion of the following paragraph from another of Franklin's letters. . “ Nothing can contribute to true happiness, that is inconsistent with duty; nor can a course of action, conformable to it, be finally without an ample reward. For, God governs; and he is good. I pray him to direct you; and, indeed, you will never be without his direction, if you humbly ask it, and show yourself always ready to obey it.”, ila -54 Here are acknowledged at once the great doctrines of Christianity. - Nothing can contribute to true happiness that is inconsistent with 1duty."What is duty, but a conformity with the laws of God? and las Franklin always in practice acted on the principle of doing to others as he wished they should do to him, we must conclude, so far,
ر ن د ن ا وزن
that he was a Christian. Then he speaks of a final reward. If
We have lost a most dear and valuable relation. But it is the will of God and nature, that these mortal bodies be laid aside, when the soul is to enter into real life. This is rather an embryo state, a preparation for living. :. A man is not completely born until he be dead. Why then should we grieve, that a new child is born among the immortals, a new member added to their happy society ? We are spirits
. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or in doing good to our
1 fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes, and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid become an incumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which , provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We
Wo were given, it is equally kind and benevolent, 'that a way is ourselves,
, in some cases, prudently choose a partial death. A mangledi painfal limb, which cannot be restored, we willingly cut off. He, who plucks out a tooth, parts with it freely, since the pain goes with it; andrı he, who quits the whole body, parts at once with all pains, and possibilise ties of pains" and diseases, which it was liable to, or capable of making ! him sufferi'--p. 259.
We add another extract from a letter of Franklin's at a much later date, for it was written only a few years before his death, because it contains evidence that he had not swerved from those opinions on the subject of man's ultimate destiny, which he had pro-. fessed at an earlier period.
I have found my family here in health, good circumstances, and well! respected by their fellow citizens. The companions of my youth are indeed almost all departed, but I find an agreeable society among their children and grandchildren. I have public business enough to preserve me from ennui, and private amusement, besides, in conversation, books, mga garden, and cribbage. Considering our well-furnished, plentiful marketsias. the best of gardens, I'am turning mine, in the midst of which my house is stands, into grass plots and gravel walks, with trees and flowering shrubs.