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a paragraph omitted in the regular cdition (page 347 of volume i.), but printed on an extra leaf and circulated among the author's friends, may be quoted as an example. It was, however, not original with Smith's biographer, but was copied with a few changes from Cobbett's attack on Franklin :
“Dr. Benjamin Franklin has told the world in poetry what, in his judgment, my ancestor was. His venerable shade will excuse me, if I tell in prose what, in the judgment of men who lived near a century ago, Dr. Smith was not : He was no almanack maker, nor quack, nor chimney-doctor, nor soap boiler, nor printer's devil, neither was he a deist ; and all his children were born in wedlock. He bequeathed no old and irrecoverable debts to a hospital. He never cheated the poor during his life nor mocked them in his death. If his descendants cannot point to his statue over a library, they have not the mortification of hearing him daily accused of having been a fornicator, a hypocrite, and an infidel."
Some of the charges in this venomous statement are in a sense true, but are exaggerated by the manner in which they are presented, an art in which Cobbett excelled. I have in the preceding chapters given sufficient details to throw light on many of them. Franklin was an almanac-maker, a chimney-doctor, and a soap-boiler, but in none of these is there anything to his discredit. As to his irrecoverable debts, it is true that he left them to the Pennsylvania Hospital, saying in his will that, as the persons who owed them were unwilling to pay them to him, they might be willing to pay them to the hospital as charity. They were a source of great annoyance to the managers, and were finally returned to his executors. The statement that he cheated the poor during his life and mocked them in his death
is entirely unjustified. He was often generous with his money to people in misfortune, and several such instances can be found in his letters. It is also going too far to say that he was a quack and a hypocrite.
While in England he associated on the most intimate terms with eminent literary and scientific men. Distinguished travellers from the Continent called on him to pay their respects. He stayed at noblemen's country-seats and with the Bishop of St. Asaph. He corresponded with all these people in the most friendly and easy manner; they were delighted with his conversation and could never see enough of him. In France everybody worshipped him, and the court circles received him with enthusiasm. But in Philadelphia the colonial aristocracy were not on friendly terms with him. He had, of course, numerous friends, including some members of aristocratic families; but we find few, if any, evidences of that close intimacy and affection which he enjoyed among the best people of Europe.
This hostility was not altogether due to his humble origin or to the little printing-office and stationery store where he sold goose-feathers as well as writing material and bought old rags. These disadvantages would not have been sufficient, for his accomplishments and wit raised him far above his early surroundings, and the colonial society of Philadelphia was not illiberal in such matters. The principal cause of the hostility towards him was his violent opposition to the proprietary party, to which most of the upper classes belonged, and, having this ground
of dislike, it was easy for them to strengthen and excuse it by the gossip about his illegitimate son and the son's mother kept as a servant in his house. They ridiculed the small economies he practised, and branded his religious and moral theorizing as hypocrisy.
He was very fond of broad jokes, which have always been tolerated in America under certain circumstances; but the man who writes them, especially if he also writes and talks a great deal about religion and undertakes to improve prayerbooks, gives a handle to his enemies and an opportunity for unfavorable comment. The Portfolio, a Philadelphia journal, of May 23, 1801, representing more particularly the upper classes of the city, prints one of his broad letters, and takes the opportunity to assail him for “hypocrisy, hackneyed deism, muck-worn economy,” and other characteristics of what it considers humbug and deceit. It has been suggested that far back in the past one of Franklin's ancestors might have been French, for his name in the form Franquelin was at one time not uncommon in France. This might account for his easy brightness and vivacity, and also, it may be added, for such letters as he sometimes wrote:
“To Mr. JAMES READ
“Saturday morning Aug 17 '45. “ DEAR J.
“I have been reading your letter over again, and since you desire an answer I sit me down to write you; yet as I write in the market, will I believe be but a short one, tho' may be long about it. I
your method of writing one's mind when one is too warm to speak it with temper : but being myself quite cool in this affair I might as well speak as write, if I had opportunity. Your copy
of Kempis must be a corrupt one if it has that passage as you quote it, in omnibus requiem quaesivi, sed non inveni, nisi in angulo cum libello. The good father understood pleasure (requiem) better, and wrote in angulo cum puella. Correct it thus without hesitation.”
(Portfolio, vol. i. p. 165.) The letter continues the jest in a way that I do not care to quote ; but the last half of it is full of sage and saintly advice. It is perhaps the only letter which gives at the same time both sides of Franklin's character. But Sparks and Bigelow in their editions of his works give the last half only, with no indication that the first half has been omitted.
In the same year that he wrote this letter he also wrote his letter of advice to a young man on the choice of a mistress, a copy of which is now in the State Department at Washington, while numerous copies taken from it have been circulated secretly all over the country. This year (1745) seems to have been his reckless period, for it was about that time that he published “Polly Baker's Speech,” which will be given in another chapter. In the State Department at Washington is also preserved his letter on Perfumes to the Royal Academy of Brussels, which cannot be published under the rules of modern taste, and, in fact, Franklin himself speaks of it as having “too much grossièreté" to be borne by polite readers.* I shall, however, give as much of the letter on the choice of a mistress as is proper to publish.
“ June 25th, 1745. “ MY DEAR FRIEND :
"I know of no medicine fit to diminish the violent natural inclinations you mention, and if I did, I think I should not communi
* Bigelow's Works of Franklin, vol. vii. p. 374.
cate it to you. Marriage is the proper remedy. It is the most natural state of man, and, therefore, the state in which you are most likely to find solid happiness. Your reasons against entering it at present appear to me not well founded. The circumstantial advantages you have in view of postponing it are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with that of the thing itself. /
“ It is the man and woman united that make the complete human being. Separate she wants his force of body and strength of reason. He her softness, sensibility, and acute discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the world. A single man has not nearly the value he would have in a state of union. He is an incomplete animal. He resembles the odd half of a pair of scissors. If you get a prudent, healthy wife, your industry in your profession, with her good economy will be a fortune sufficient,
“But if you will not take this counsel, and persist in thinking a commerce with the sex inevitable, then I repeat my former advice, that in all your amours you should prefer old women to young
You call this a paradox and demand my reasons. They are these :
“Ist. Because they have more knowledge of the world, and their minds are better stored with observations; their conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreeable.
“ 2d. Because when women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their influence over men, they supply the diminution of beauty by an augmentation of utility. They learn to do a thousand services, small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable, and hence there is scarcely such a thing to be found as an old woman who is not a good woman.
“3d. Because there is no hazard of children, which, irregularly produced, may be attended with much inconvenience.
4th. Because, through more experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an intrigue to prevent suspicion. The commerce with them is therefore safe with regard to your reputation and with regard to theirs. If the affair should happen to be known, considerate people might be rather inclined to excuse an old woman who would kindly take care of a young man, form his manners by her good counsels, and prevent his ruining his health and fortunes among mercenary prostitutes.
“7th. Because the compunction is less.
The having made a