« EelmineJätka »
employed in pillaging merchants, and transporting slaves, it is clearly the means of agmenting the mass of human misery. It is amazing to think of the ships and lives risked in fetching tea from Chica, coffee from Arabia, sugar and tobacco from America, all which our ancestors did well without. Sugar employs near one thousand ships, tobacco almost as many. For the utility of tobacco little needs be said ; and for that of sugar, how much more commendable would it be if we could give up the few minutes gratification afforded once or twice a day by the taste of sugar in our tea, rather than encourage the cruelties exercised in producing it. An eminent French moralist says, that when he considers the wars we excite in Africa to obtain slaves, the numbers necessarily slain in those wars, the many prisoners who perish at sea, by sickness, bad provisions, foul air, &c. &c. in the transportation, and how many afterwards die from the hardships of slavery, he cannot look on a piece of sugar without conceiving it stained with spots of human blood ! Had he added the consideration of the wars we make to take and retake the sugar islands from one another, and the fleets and armies which perish in those expeditions, he might have seen his sugar not merely spotted, but thoroughly dyed scarlet in grain. It is these wars which make the maritime powers of Europe, the inhabitants of London and Paris, pay dearer for sugar than those of Vienna, a thousand miles from the sea, because their sogar cests not only the price they pay for it by the pound, but all they pay in taxes to maintain their fleets and armies which fight for it.—Letter to Mr. Alphonsus le Roy.
In company, Dr. Franklin was sententious, but not fluent more inclined to listen than to talk; an instructive rather than a lively companion. Yet his
conversation was valuable, not only on account of the prominence of truth and virtue therein discoverable, but from a precision and accuracy of definition which rendered him intelligible to the meanest capacity ; a habit he had acquired from mathematical study. He was ever impatient of interruption, and ofteu men. tioned the custom of the indians, who always remain silent some time before they give an answer to a question which they have heard attentively; very unlike some of the politer societies iu Europe, among whom it is difficult to complete a single sentence before a. nother begins to reply. Respecting religion, af. ter renouncing his sceptical principles, as neither true nor beneficial to society, he became a firm believer in the scriptures. Some interesting thoughts on death, which discover his opinion on this subject, appear in a letter written to Miss Hubbard, on the death of her father-in-law, and his brother John Franklin, in which he
says, “ We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fel. low-creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes, and af. ford us pain instead of pleasure, they become an in. cumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given; it is then equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may be rid of them. Death is that way. Our friend and ourselves were invited abroad on a party of pleasure, which is to last for ever. His carriage was first ready; and he has started before us. We could not all conveniently set out together; and why should and I grieve at this circumstance, since we are soon to follow, and know where to meet with him ?"
Dr. Franklin's powers of mind were not only strong but various, and his observations were not confined to one science. There were few subjects of common utility on which he could not comment, and he turned his thoughts to none which he did not ime prove and illustrate. As a philosopher, his merit is universally acknowledged, and science will record his name in the impartial registers of fame.
When caprice, the malevolence of party, and the adulations of servility have subsided, posterity ever render justice to the memory of the dead.
The principles and properties of electricity were little known in the last age. The electric fluid is but barely men. tioned at the end of Newton's Optics. It was reserve ed to Franklin to investigate the nature of this subtile agent, the cause of so many wonderful phænomena. By uniting theory with practice he was enabled to make very important discoveries, independent of those in Europe, of which his three first publications, entitled New Experiments and Observations on Electricity made at Philadelphia in America, communi. cated in letters to Peter Colinson, esq. F.R.s. the first of which is dated July the 28th 1747, and the last, April 18, 1754, are a convincing proof. Besides the productions already mentioned, the following are from the pen of Dr. Franklin. An historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania, 8ro. which appeared in 1759. In 1779, Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophical Pieces, &c. in 8vo. and 4to. In 1787, Observations on the Causes and Cure of Smoky Chimnies, 8vo. His papers in the Philosophical Transactions are a Letter to Peter Col. linson, esq. concerning the effects of lightning, June 20, 1751, vol. xlvii, p. 289. Letter to the same, concerning an electrical kite, Oct. 1, 1752, ibid. p. 565.
Electrical Experiments made in pursuance of those of Mr. Canton, dated Dec. 3, 1753, with explanations, by Mr. Benjamin Franklin, communicated by P. Col. linson, dated Philadelphia, Mar. 14, 1755, vol. xlix, p. 300. Extract of a letter concerning Electricity, from Mr. B. Franklin, to M. Dalibard, inclosed in a letter to Mr. P. Collinson, dated Philadelphia, June 29, 1755, ibid. p. 305. An account of the effects of electricity in paralytic cases, in a letter to Sir John Pringle, received June 12, 1758, vol. 1, p. 481. Remarks on some experiments in electricity, made by Father Baccaria, read Feb. 14, 1760, ibid. p. 525. Letter to the Rev. Thos. Birch, Feb. 4, 1762, vol. lii, p. 456. Physical and Meteorological Observations, Conjectures, and Suppositions, read June 3d. 1756, vol. Iviii, p. 182. Letter to the Astronoiner Royal, containing an observation of the transit of Mercury over the Sun, Nov. 9, 1769, by John Win. thorne, esq Feb. 12, 1770, vol. Ixi, p. 81. Letter to Sir John Pringle, on pointed conductors, read Dec. 17, 1772, vol. lxiii, p. 66. And a Letter on stilling the waves by oil, vol. Ixiv, p. 445. His Essays, hu. morous, moral, and literary, with his Life, written by himself, have appeared since his death in two small volumes. A complete collection of his works with biographical memoirs, has long been expected from the hands of his grandson.
Various and respectable testimonies have been given of Franklin's.merit. A small selection may not be uninteresting. On his reception into the French Academy, D'Alembert welcomed him with that well known line, which displays a stroke possessing all the boldness and sublimity of Lucian.
Eripuit cælo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis." He snatched fire from Heaven, and the sceptre from
And Doubourg inscribed under a portrait of him, the following lines :
“Il a ravi le feu des cieux; Il fait fleurir les arts en des climats sauvages; K Ameriqne le place à la tête des sages; la Grèce l'auroit mis au nombre de ses dieux."
He disarmed Heaven of it's thunder; he caused the arts to flourish in the most unfavourable climes; A. merica places him at the head of her sages; had he lived in Greece, he would have been ranked amongst the number of her gods. Signor Baccaria has prefixed to his curious treatise, “ Elettricismo Artificiale," a complimentary letter to our philosopher, in which he considers him as the father of electric. ity," and speaks of his discoveries with enthusiasm. “To you, says he, it was given to enlighten the mind of man in this new science. It is you who have disarmed the thunder of all it's terrors, and your daring genius has even taught the fire of heaven, which was regarded as the weapon of Omnipotence, to obey your voice."
Lord Chatham, in the year 1777, adverted to Franklin's dissuasive arguments against the American war, in a speech conceived in the highest strain of panegyric; and Voltaire paid our A. merican Newton a very flattering compliment.
The following remarks and anecdotes are extract. ed from an interesting work called the “ Algerene Captive; or, the Life of Dr. Updike Underhill." “I carried,” says Doctor Underhill, a request to Dr. Benjamin Franklin, then president of the state of Pensylvania for certain papers which I was to dea liver on my journey. I anticipated much pleasure from an interview with this truly great man. To see one, who from small beginnings, by the sole exertion of native genius and indefatigable industry, had rais.