페이지 이미지

their frontier by the Indians and the French; at a meeting of commissioners from several of the provinces, Mr. Franklin proposed a plan for the general defence, to establish in the colonies a general government, to be administered by a president-general, appointed by the crown, and by a grand council, consisting of members chosen by the representatives of the different colonies; a plan which was unanimously agreed to by the commissioners present. The plan, however, had a singular fate : it was disapproved of by the ministry of Great Britain, because it gave too much power to the representatives of the people, and it was rejected by every assembly, as giving to the president general, who was to be the representative of the crown, an influence greater than appeared to them proper, in a plan of government intended for freemen. Perhaps this rejection on both sides is the strongest proof that could be adduced of the excellence of it, as suited to the situation of Great Britain and America at that time. It appears to have steered exactly in the middle, between the opposite interests of both. Whether the adoption of this plan would have prevented the separation of America from Great Britain, is a question which might afford much room for speculation.

In 1755, general Braddock, with some regiinents of regular troops and provincial levies, was sent to dispossess the French of the posts upon which they had seized in the . back settlements. After the men were all ready, a difficulty occurred, which had nearly prevented the expedition : this was the want of waggons. Franklin now stepped forward, and, with the assistance of his son, in a little time procured 150. After the defeat of Braddock, Franklin introduced into the assembly a bill for organizing a militia, and had the dexterity to get it passed. In consequence of this act, a very respectable militia was formed; and Franklin was appointed colonel of a regiment in Philadelphia, which consisted of 1200 men; in which capacity he acquitted himself with much propriety, and was of singular service, though this militia was soon after disbanded by order of the English ministry.

In 1757 he was sent to England, with a petition to the king and council, against the proprietaries, who refused to bear any share in the public expences and assessments; which he got settled to the satisfaction of the state. After the completion of this business, Frankliu remained at the

court of Great Britain for some time, as agent for the province of Pennsylvania; and also for those of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Georgia. Soon after this, he published his Canada pamphlet, in which he pointed out, in a very forcible manner, the advantages that would result from the conquest of this province from the French. An expedition was accordingly planned, and the command given to general Wolfe; the success of which is well known. He now divided his time indeed between philosophy and politics, rendering many services to both. Whilst here, he invented the elegant musical instrument called the Armonica, formed of glasses played on by the fingers. In the summer of 1762 be returned to America ; on the passage to which he observed the singular effect produced by the agitation of a vessel containing oil, floating on water; the upper surface of the oil remained smooth and undisturbed, whilst the water was agitated with the utmost · commotion. On bis return he received the thanks of the assembly of Pennsylvania; which having annually elected him a member in his absence, he again took his seat in this body, and continued a steady defender of the liberties of the people.

In 1764, by the intrigues of the proprietaries, Franklin Jost his seat in the assembly, which he had possessed for fourteen years ; but was immediately appointed provincial agent to England, for which country he presently set out. In 1766 he was examined before the parliament, relative to the stamp-act; which was soon after repealed.

The same year he made a journey into Holland and Germany; and another into France; being everywhere received with the greatest respect by the literati of all nations. [o 1773 he attracted the public attention by a letter on the duel between Mr. Whateley and Mr. Temple, concerning the publication of governor Hutchinson's letters, declaring that he was the person who had discovered those letters. On the 29th of January next year, he was examined before the privy-council, on a petition he had presented long before as agent for Massachusetts Bay against Mr. Hutchinson : but this petition being disagreeable to ministry, it was precipitately rejected, and Dr. Frauklin was soon after removed from his office of postmaster-general for America. Finding now all efforts to restore harmony between Great Britain and her Colonies useless, he returned to America in 1775, just after the commencement of hos

tilities. Being named one of the delegates to the Continental congress, he had.a principal share in bringing about the revolution and declaration of independency on the part of the Colonies. In 1776 he was deputed by congress to Canada, to negociate with the people of that country, and to persuade them to throw off the British yoke ; but the Canadians had been so much disgusted with the hot-headed zeal of the New Englanders, who had burnt some of their chapels, that they refused to listen to the proposals, though enforced by all the arguments Dr. Franklin could make use of. On the arrival of lord Howe in America, in 1776, he entered upon a correspondence with him on the subject of reconciliation. He was afterwards appointed, with two others, to wait upon the English commissioners, and learn the extent of their powers; but as these only went to the granting pardon upon submission, he joined his colleagues in considering them as insufficient. Dr. Franklin was decidedly in favour of a declaration of independence, and was appointed president of the convention assembled for the purpose of establishing a new government for the state of Pennsylvania. When it was determined by congress to open a public negociation with France, Dr. Franklin was fixed upon to go to that country; and be brought about the treaty of alliance offensive and defensive, which produced an immediate war between England and France. Dr. Franklin was one of the commissioners, who, on the part of the United States, signed the provisional articles of peace in 1782, and the definitive treaty in the following year. Before he left Europe, he concluded a treaty with Sweden and Prussia. Having seen the accomplishment of bis wishes in the independence of his country, he requested to be recalled, and after repeated solicitations Mr. Jefferson was appointed in his stead. On the arrival of his successor, he repaired to Havre de Grace, and crossing the English channel, landed at Newport, in the Isle of Wight, from whence, after a favourable passage, he arrived safe at Philadelphia in Sept. 1785. Here he was received amidst the acclamations of a vast and almost innumerable multitude, who had flocked from all parts to see him, and who conducted him in triumph to his own house, where in a few days he was visited by the members of congress, and the principal inhabitants of Philadelphia. He was afterwards twice chosen president of the assembly of Philadelphia; but in 1788 the increasing infirmities of his VOL. XV.


age obliged him to ask and obtain permission to retire and spend the remainder of his life in tranquillity; and on the 17th of April, 1790, he died at the great age of eightyfour years and three months.

and three months. He left behind him one son, a zealous loyalist, and a daughter married to a merchant in Philadelphia. Dr. Franklin was author of many tracts on electricity, and other branches of natural pbilosophy, as well as on political and miscellaneous subjects. Many of his papers are inserted in the Philosophical Transactions of London ; and his essays have been frequently reprinted in this country as well as in America, and have, in common with his other works, been translated into several modern languages. A complete edition of all these was printed in London in 1806, in 3 vols. 8vo, with “ Memoirs of his early life, written by himself," to which the preceding article is in a considerable degree indebted. Some of his political writings are said to be still witbheld on political grounds, but it is difficult to suppose that they can now be of much importance, as they relate to a contest which no longer agitates the minds of the public.

As a philosopher the distinguishing characteristics of Franklin's mind, as they have been appreciated by a very judicious writer, seem to have been a clearness of apprehension, and a steady undeviating common sense.

We do not find him taking unrestrained excursions into the more difficult labyrinths of philosophical inquiry, or indulging in conjecture and hypothesis. He is in the constant habit of referring to acknowledged facts and observations, and suggests the trials by which his speculative opinions may be put to the test. He does not seek for extraordinary occasions of trying his philosophical acumen, nor sits down with the preconceived intention of constructing a philosophical system. It is in the course of his familiar correspondence that he proposes his new explanations of phenomena, and brings into notice his new discoveries. A question put by a friend, or an accidental occurrence of the day, generally form the ground-work of these speculations. They are taken up by the author as the ordinary topics of friendly intercourse; they appear to cost him no labour; and are discussed without any parade. If an ingenious solution of a phenomenon is suggested, it is introduced with as much simplicity as if it were the most natural and obvious explanation that could be offered ; and the author seems to value himself so little upon it, that the reader is in danger of estimating it below its real

importance. If a mere hypothesis be proposed, the author bimself is the first to point out its insufficiency, and abandons it with more facility than he had constructed it. Even the letters-on electricity, which are by far the most finished of Franklin's performances, are distinctly characterized by all these peculiarities. They are at first suga gested by the accidental present of an electrical tube from a correspondent in London ; Franklin, and his friends are insensibly engaged in a course of electrical experiments; the results are from time to time communicated to the London correspondent; several important discoveries are made; and at length there arises a finished and ingenious theory of electricity. On this account the writings of Franklin possess a peculiar charm. “They excite. a fa vourable disposition and a friendly interest in the reader. The author never betrays any exertion, nor displays an unwarrantable partiality for his own speculations; he assumes no superiority over his readers, nor seeks to elevate the importance of his conceptions, by the adventitious aid of declamation, or rhetorical flourishes. He exhibits no false zeal, no enthusiasm, but calmly and modestly seeks after truth; and if he fails to find it, has no desire to impose a counterfeit in its stead. He makes a familiar amusement of philosophical speculation ; and while the reader thinks he has before him an ordiuary and unstudied letter to a friend, he is insensibly engaged in deep disquisitions of science, and made acquainted with the ingenions solutions of difficult phenomena. Of Franklin's more priFate and personal character, we have few particulars; but it is to be regretted that in his religious principles he was early, and all his life, one of the class of free-thinkers.'


FRANTZIUS (WOLFGANG), a Lutheran divine, was born in 1564 at Plawen, in the circle of Voightland, and was educated at Francfort on the Oder. He then removed to Wittemberg, where in 1598, he was appointed professor of history, and took his doctor's degree in divinity. Three years after, he was invited to be superintendant at Kemsperg, and remained there until 1605, when he was chosen divinity professor at Wittemberg. He died suddenly in 1628, of a second attack of apoplexy. Among his numerous works are, 1. “Syntagma controversiarum theolo

1 Life prefixed to his Works. -Hutton's Dictionary, &c.

« 이전계속 »