Imágenes de páginas

with a spoon of silver. They had been bought for me without my knowledge, by my wife, and had cost her the enormous sum of three and twenty shillings; for which she had no other excuse or apology to make, but that she thought her husband deserved a silver spoon and china bowl, as well as any of his neighbors. This was the first appearance of plate and china in our house, which afterwards, in a course of years, as our wealth increased, augmented gradually to several hundred pounds in value.”

Such are a few of the interesting particulars communicated by this eminent man himself, for the benefit and amusement of his countrymen. His industry, frugality, activity, intelligence; his plan for bettering the condition of the province, for introducing improved systems of education ; his municipal services, made him an object of attention to the whole population. He was consulted by the governor and council, on the most important occasions, and soon elected a member of the assembly.

At the age of twenty-seven, he undertook to learn Spanish, French, and Italian; and when he had nearly mastered them, he applied himself to Latin. He was prominent as a founder of the university of Pennsylvania, and of the American Philosophical Society, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Pennsylvania Hospital, though he has received more credit in that particular, than he is properly entitled to, as the records of that charity sufficiently show. We do not design to take from Dr. FRANKLIN, any praise to which he is fairly entitled; fortunately for his fame, he does not require any adventitious aid to command our reverence, and that of all posterity.

Dr. FRANKLIN started in 1741 the “General Magazine and Historical Chronicle," and invented in 1742, the Franklin stove; for this improvement on the old fashioned open fireplace, he refused a patent, on the ground that such inventions ought to be made universally subservient to the common good of mankind; an example which the citizens of this nation have been slow to follow. This stove, though still occasionally seen, is in turn superseded by later improvements, and the general introduction of anthracite. Being in Boston, in 1746, he witnessed some experiments in electricity; they were imperfectly performed, but were nevertheless the origin of one of the most brilliant discoveries in natural philosophy, which alone would have been fame enough to have established a claim to immortality.

Upon his return to Philadelphia, he repeated the same experiments with complete success, and adding others, of which some accounts had reached him from England, the science for a time wholly occu

[ocr errors]

He therefore arze rok, a factory meai and her chil We have wanderer w . Det of the

Harisz w ಬted Sr of the poorin be ther-ine nary and tro. the gremor. gucad shah such a concer Tould adranc go to Englan would give hi

To Englar obtained the their being se

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors]

progress of the to receive the ing himself delivered to was in Lon

before the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

check when on topics of obligation wl other freethi of those who very feebly p ledge not the

In Londo at Palmer's on a new ed printed a litt of " A Disse On reading th

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

. They had been bought for me without my
fe, and had cost her the enormous sum of three
; for which she had no other excuse or apology
hought her husband deserved a silver spoon and
as any of his neighbors. This was the first
nd china in our house, which afterwards, in a
pur wealth increased, angmented gradually to
ds in Talue."
he interesting particulars communicated by this
for the benefit and amusement of his osantry-
frugality, activity, inteza: ks pica in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

DET TIL Že s ses 01 Zone att

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

pied his ambition. He acquired by practice a dexterity in performing those experiments, and soon diffused his fame through the world, and drew upon his native country the regard and attention of all Europe. He was the first who fired gun-powder, gave magnetism to needles of steel, melted metals, and killed animals of considerable size, by means of electricity.

The various steps by which he acquired his knowledge of this science, are too well known to need repetition here. A relation of his experiments was communicated by FRANKLIN himself, in letters to a friend in London.. “Nothing," says Priestley, “was ever written on the subject of electricity more justly admired, in all parts of Europe, than these letters. Electricians everywhere employed themselves in repeating his experiments, or exhibiting them for money. All the world in a manner, even kings themselves, flocked to see them, and all retired full of admiration for the invention of them.” On the continent his discoveries were made public by the celebrated Buffon; the experiments were repeated by M. de Loz, before Louis XV., and were verified by many other philosophers. In Turin, by Father Beccaria; in Russia, by Professor Richmann, who, in the experiment of the kite, perished by a stroke of lightning.

The rights of the colonies had ever been a favorite subject, which he advocated both with his pen and in private, as our dearest prerogative. It was determined to hold a general congress at Albany ; to this, FRANKLIN was named as deputy, and on the route, he digested a plan of union, regulating all the great political interests of the colonies and the mother country. His plan was adopted, congress proposing a general government for the provinces, to be administered by a president appointed by the crown, assisted by a grand council, to be chosen by the various provincial assemblies; the council was to have the power of laying taxes for the common exigencies. This Albany plan, as it was called, although unanimously sanctioned by congress, was rejected by the board of trade, as savoring too much of the democratic, and by the assemblies, as having too much of the influence of the mother country.

Appointed deputy post-master-general in 1751, he applied his mind to facilitating the intercourse between the different settled portions of the continent. In this he met with frequent difficulties incident to a new country, where the want of roads formed an almost insurmountable obstacle to the best laid schemes; but he persevered, and to him we are indebted for some suggestions which, having been acted on, have served to perfect the present admirable system of transportation,


which equalizes so rapidly the very distant points of our vast country. In his official capacity, he advanced large sums from his private funds to assist General Braddock, though he feared the result of his expedition, and had made some fruitless suggestions with regard to its conduct. When Braddock's defeat was ascertained, he introduced a bill for establishing a volunteer militia ; he accepted a commission as commander, and raised a corps of five hundred and sixty men, with whom he went through a laborious campaign, and was chosen colonel after his return, by the officers of a regiment.

The proprietaries of Pennsylvania claiming to be exempted from taxation, an unpleasant dispute arose, and Colonel FRANKLIN was deputed by the provincial assembly, in 1757, to visit England as their agent. He published soon after a large work, entitled the “Historical Review," which was much liked, and increased his reputation, both at home and abroad, and he received the additional appointment of agent for the provinces of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Georgia. The degree of doctor of laws was now conferred on him by the university of Oxford, as well as by those in Scotland, and the Royal Society elected him a fellow.

The personal connections which Dr. FRANKLIN formed during this residence in England, were of the most valuable and distinguished kind; he corresponded extensively with the most eminent individuals of the continent, and his letters to his friends and constituents rnust have occupied much of his time. A recent volume, edited by Jared Sparks, of his Familiar Letters," assists us materially in forming an estimate of his private character, while the “Diplomatic Correspondence,” lately published by act of congress, proves how sincerely he loved his native country, and what care he took of her interests while residing in his official capacity at the court of France. These letters added to his own memoirs and works, afford ample evidence, if any were wanting, of the striking union of a cultivated mind with a native and brilliant imagination.

He returned to America in 1762, and would have gladly rested himself in the bosom of domestic life, surrounded by his fellow citizens, who appreciated his talents and respected his patriotism; but in this he was destined to be disappointed. New difficulties arose between the province and the proprietaries, and FRANKLIN was again invested with the appointment of agent, in 1764. New and important events were on the eve of transpiring, and FRANKLIN appeared in England, no longer as simply a colonial agent, but as the representative of

« AnteriorContinuar »