Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

pable of rendering essential services to the United States at the court of France, than Dr. Franklin. He was well known as a philosopher, and his character was held in the highest estimation. He was received with the greatest marks of respect by all the literary characters; and this respect was extended amongst all classes of men. His personal influence was hence very considerable. To the effects of this were added those of various performances which be published, tending to establish the credit and character of the United States. To his exertions in this way, may, in no small degree be ascribed the success of the loans negociated in Holland and France, which greatly contributed to bringing the war to a happy conclusion."

The repeated ill success of their arms, and more particularly the capture of Cornwallis and his army, at length convinced the British nation of the impossibil. ity of reducing the Anericans to subjection. The trading interest particularly became very clamorous for peace. The ministry were unable longer to op. pose their wishes. Provisional articles of peace were agreed to, and signed at Paris on the 30th of November, 1782, by Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Laurens, on the part of the United States; and by Mr. Oswald on the part of Great Britain. These formed the basis of the definitive treaty, which was conclu:led the 30th of September 1783, and signed by Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Jay, on the one part, and by Mr. David Hartley on the other.

On the 3d of April 1783, a treaty of amity and commerce, between the United States and Sweden, was concluded at Paris, by Dr. Franklin and the Count Von Krutz.

A similar treaty with Prussia was concluded in 1775, not long before Dr. Franklin's departure from Europe.

Dr. Franklin did not suffer his political pursuits to engross his whole attention. Some of his performancés made their appearance in Paris. The object of these was generally the promotion of industry and economy.

In the year 1784, when animal magnetism made great noise in the world, particularly at Paris, it was thought a matter of such importance, that the King appointed commissioners to examine into the foundation of the pretended science. Dr. Franklin was one of the number. After a fair and diligent examination, in the course of which Mesmer repeated a number of experiments, in the presence of the commissioners, some of which were tried upon themselves, they des termined that it was a mere trick, intended to impose upon the ignorant and credulous-Mesmer was thus interrupted in his career to wealth and fame, and a most insolent attempt to impose upon the human understanding baffled.

The important ends of Dr. Franklin's mission being completed by the establishment of American Independence, and the infirmities of age and disease coming upon him, he became desirous of returning to his native country. Upon application to Congress to be recalled, Mr. Jefferson was appointed to succeed him, in 1785. Sometime in September of the same year, Dr. Franklin arrived in Philadelphia. He was shortly after chosen member of the supreme executive count cil for the city ; and soon after was elected president of the same.

When a Convention was called to meet in Philadelphia, in 1787, for the purpose of giving more energy to the government of the union, by revising and amending the articles of confederation, Dr. Franklin was appointed a delegate from the State of Pennsylvania. He signed the Constitution which they proposed for the union, and gave it the most unequivocal marks of his approbation.

A society of political enquiries, of which Dr. FrankIin was president, was established about this periodk

The meetings were held at his house. Two or three essays read in this society were published. It did not long continue.

In the year 1787, two societies were estab ished in. Philadelphia, founded on principles of the most liberal and refined humanity. The Philudelphia Society for al. leviating the miseries of public prisons; and the Penn. sylvania Society for promoting the abolition of slavery, the relief of free negroes unlawfully held in bondage, and the improvement of the condition of the African race. Of each of these Dr. Franklin was president. The Tabours of these bodies have been crowned with success; and they continue to prosecute, with unwearied diligence, the laudable designs for which they were established.

Dr. Franklin's increasing infirmities prevented his regularattendance at the council chamber; and in 1788, he retired wholly from public life.

His constitution had been a remarkable good one. He had been little subject to disease, except an attack of the gout occasionally, until the year 1781, when he was first attacked with the symptoms of the calculous complaint, which continued during his life. During the intervals of pain from this grievous disease, he spent many cheerful hours, conversing in the most agreeable and instructive manner. His faculties were entirely unimpaired, even to the hour of his death.

His name, as president of the Abolition Society, was signed to the memorial presented to the house of Representatives of the United States, on the 12th of February 1789, praying them to exert the full extent of power vested in them by the constitution, in discouraging the traffic of the human species. This was, his last public act. In the debates to which this memorial gave rise, several attempts were made to justify the trade. In the Federal Gazette of March 2.5th there appeared an essay, signed Historicus, written by Dr. Franklin, in which he communicated a speech,

said to have been delivered in the Divan of Algiers in 1687, in opposition to the prayer of the petition of a sect called Erika, or purists, for the abolition of piracy and slavery. This pretended African speech was an excellent parody of one delivered by Mr. Jackson of of Georgia. All the arguments urged in favour of negro slavery, are applied with equal force to justify the plundering and enslaving the Europeans. It affords, at the same time, a demonstration of the futility of the arguments in defence of the slave trade, and of the strength of mind and ingenuity of the author, at his advanced period of life. It furnished too a no less convincing proof of his power of imitating the style of other times and nations, than his celebraa ted parable against persecution. And as the latter led many to search the scriptures with a view to find it, so the former caused many persons to search the bookstores and libraries, for the work from which it was said to be extracted. *

In the beginning of April following, he was attacked with a fever and a complaint of his breast, which terminated his existence. The following account of his last illness was written by his friend and physician; Dr. Jones.

“ The stone, with which he had been afflicted for several years, had for the last twelve months confined him chiefly to his bed ; and during the extreme painful paroxysims, he was obliged to take large doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures-still, in the inter-vals of pain, he not only amused himself with reading and conversing with his family, and a few friends who visited him, but as often employed in doing business of a public as well as private nature, with various persons who waited on him for that purpose ; and in every instance displayed, not only that readiness and disposison of doing good, which was the distinguished cha

This speech will be found in the volume of Essays. "

racteristic of his life, but the fullest and clearest possession of his uncommon mental abilities; and not "unfrequently indulged himself in those jeux d'esprit and entertaining anecdotes, which were the delight of all who heard him.

“ About sixteen days before his death, he was seized with a feverish indisposition, without any particular symptoms attending it, till the third or fourth day, when he complained of pain in his left breast, which increased till it became extremely acute, attended with a cough and a laborious breathing. During this state, when the severity of his pains sometimes, drew forth a groan of complaint, he would observe-that he was afraid that he did not bear them as he ought-acknowledged his grateful sense of the many blessings he had received from the Supreme Being, who had raised him from small and low beginnings to such high rank and consideration among men—and made no doubt but his present afflictions were kindly intended to wean him from a world, in which he was no longer fit to act the part assigned him. In this frame of body and mind he continued till five days before his death, when his pain and difficulty of breathing entirely left him, and his family were flattering themselves with the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthumation, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and discharged a great quantity of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had strength to do it ; but, as that failed, the organs of respiration became gradually oppressed a calm lethargic state succeeded, and, on the 17th of April, 1790, about eleven o'clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and three months. .

“ It may not be amiss to add to the above account, that Dr. Franklin, in the year 1735, had a severe pleurisy, which terminated in an abscess of the left lobe of his lungs, and he was then almost suffocated with the quantity and suddenness of the discharge. A second

« ElőzőTovább »