Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

machines as long as you think proper. I enclose you a little piece of Oxford wit, which I lately received, hoping it may afford you amusement. Present my respects to your good mother and sisters, and believe me ever,

my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
B. FRANKLIN.

P.S. Permit me to recommend the new minister, Monsieur le Chevalier de la Luzerne, to your civilities, as a gentleman of most amiable character here, and a hearty friend of the American cause. If you can in any respect be serviceable to him you will much oblige me.

Enclosed in the foregoing (supposed to have been written by the late SIR WILLIAM JONES).

Collect read at Oxford on one of the fast days.

O King! from whom all tawdry ribbons, all silk gowns, and all lawn sleeves do proceed; give unto thy subjects that peace which the sword cannot give; and since thou hast unjustly brought us to the beginning of this war, put an end to the same by thy mighty prerogative; granting us in this war, at least the shadow of justice, and in wars to come a little more of the substance: through the merits of thy trusty and well beloved Sir Frederic North, our chancellor.

DEAR SIR,

[blocks in formation]

Passy, November 19, 1779. Having some time since heard of your illness, with great concern, it gave me infinite pleasure to

* GIOVANNI BATTISTE BECCARIA, a religious of the School of Piety, was a native of Mondovi. His celebrity as a teacher of mathematics and philosophy, first at Palermo, and afterwards at Rome, caused him to be invited to Turin, where he filled the chair of experimental lecturer, and was employed in the tuition of some branches of the royal family. His correspondence was sought by men of letters in various countries; and he imparted to Dr. Frank

learn this day from M. Chantel (who did me the honor of a visit) that you were so far recovered as to be able to make little excursions on horseback. I pray God that your convalescence may be quick and perfect, and your health be again firmly established: science would lose too much in losing one so zealous and active in its cause, and so capable of accelerating its progress and augmenting its dominions.

I find myself here immersed in affairs which absorb my attention, and prevent my pursuing those studies in which I always found the highest satisfaction: and I am now grown so old as hardly to hope for a return of that leisure and tranquillity so necessary for philosophical disquisitions. I have, however, not long since thrown a few thoughts on paper relative to the aurora borealis,* which I would send you, but that I suppose you may have seen them in the Journal of l'Abbé Rozier. If not, I will make out a copy and send it to you; perhaps with some corrections.

Every thing of your writing is always very welcome to me: if, therefore, you have lately published any new experiments or observations in physics, I shall be happy to see them, when you have an opportunity of sending them to me. With the highest esteem, respect, and affection, I am, &c. B. FRANKLIN.

lin in particular, many important facts on philosophical subjects. Father Beccaria died at Turin, in an advanced age, in 1781. His "Dissertations on Electricity" have been published; but the most curious of his pieces is an Essay on the Cause of Storms and

Tempests."

[ocr errors]

* See WRITINGS, Part IV. " Philosophical Subjects."

DEAR SIR,

TO DR. PRICE, LONDON.

Passy, February 6, 1780.

Your writings, after all the abuse you and they have met with, begin to make serious impressions on those who at first rejected the counsels you gave ; and they will acquire new weight every day, and be in high esteem when the cavils against them are dead and forgotten. Please to present my affectionate respects to that honest, sensible, and intelligent society,* who did me so long the honor of admitting me to share in their instructive conversations. I never think of the hours I so happily spent in that company without regretting that they are never to be repeated; for I see no prospect of an end to this unhappy war in my time. Dr. Priestley, you tell me, continues his experiments with success. We make daily great improvements in natural-there is one I wish to see in moral philosophy; the discovery of a plan that would induce and oblige nations. to settle their disputes without first cutting one another's throats. When will human reason be sufficiently improved to see the advantage of this? When will men be convinced that even successful wars at length become misfortunes to those who unjustly commenced them, and who triumphed blindly in their success, not seeing all its consequences? Your great comfort and mine in this war is, that we honestly and faithfully did every thing in our power to prevent it. Adieu, and believe me ever, my dear friend, yours, &c. B. FRANKLIN.

*

Supposed to allude to a club at the London Coffee-house.

DEAR SIR,

TO DR. PRIESTLEY.

Passy, February 8, 1780. I always rejoice to hear of your being still employed in experimental researches into nature, and of the success you meet with. The rapid progress true science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon: it is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried in a thousand years the power of man over matter; we may perhaps learn to deprive large masses of their gravity, and give them absolute levity, for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may diminish its labor and double its produce: all diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured (not excepting even that of old age), and our lives lengthened at pleasure, even beyond the antediluvian standard. O that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement, that men would cease to be wolves to one another, and that human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity!

I am glad my little paper on the aurora borealis pleased. If it should occasion farther inquiry, and so produce a better hypothesis, it will not be wholly useless.

I am ever, with the greatest and most sincere esteem, dear sir, &c. B. FRANKLIN.

[Enclosed in the foregoing Letter; being an answer to a separate paper received from Dr. Priestley.]

I have considered the situation of that person very attentively: I think that with a little help from the moral algebra,* he might form a better judgment than any other person can form for him.

* See Letter to Dr. Priestley, Sept. 19, 1772, Part I.

1

But since my opinion seems to be desired, I give it for continuing to the end of the term, under all the present disagreeable circumstances: the connexion will then die a natural death. No reason will be expected to be given for the separation, and of course no offence taken at reasons given, the friendship may still subsist, and in some other way be useful. The time diminishes daily, and is usefully employed. All human situations have their inconveniences: we feel those that we find in the present, and we neither feel nor see those that exist in another. Hence we make frequent and troublesome changes without amendment, and often for the worse. In my youth I was passenger in a little sloop, descending the river Delaware. There being no wind, we were obliged when the ebb was spent, to cast anchor, and wait for the next. The heat of the sun on the vessel was excessive, the company strangers to me, and not very agreeable. Near the river side I saw what I took to be a pleasant green meadow, in the middle of which was a large shady tree, where it struck my fancy I could sit and read (having a book in my pocket) and pass the time agreeably till the tide turned; I therefore prevailed with the captain to put me ashore. Being landed, I found the greatest part of my meadow was really a marsh, in crossing which, to come at my tree, I was up to my knees in mire: and I had not placed myself under its shade five minutes before the muskitoes in swarms found me out, attacked my legs, hands, and face, and made my reading and my rest impossible; so that I returned to the beach, and called for the boat to come and take me on board again, where I was obliged to bear the heat I had strove to quit, and also the

VOL. I.

D

« AnteriorContinuar »