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Title: Benjamin Franklin; Self-Revealed, Volume I (of 2) - A Biographical and Critical Study Based Mainly on his own Writings
Author: Bruce, Wiliam Cabell
Language: English
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_The Knickerbocker Press_


_The Knickerbocker Press, New York_



INTRODUCTION                                               1



II.--FRANKLIN'S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS                         51


IV.--FRANKLIN'S FAMILY RELATIONS                         198

V.--FRANKLIN'S AMERICAN FRIENDS                          310

VI.--FRANKLIN'S BRITISH FRIENDS                          372

VII.--FRANKLIN'S FRENCH FRIENDS                          473

Benjamin Franklin



In reading the life of Benjamin Franklin, the most lasting impressions left
upon the mind are those of versatility and abundance. His varied genius
lent itself without effort to the minutest details of such commonplace
things as the heating and ventilation of rooms, the correction of smoky
chimneys and naval architecture and economy. His severely practical turn of
mind was disclosed even in the devices with which he is pictured in his old
age as relieving the irksomeness of physical effort--the rolling press with
which he copied his letters, the fan which he worked with his foot in warm
weather as he sat reading, the artificial hand with which he reached the
books on the upper shelves of his library. But, sober as Franklin's genius
on this side was, it proved itself equal to some of the most exacting
demands of physical science; and above all to the sublime task, which
created such a world-wide stir, of reducing the wild and mysterious
lightning of the heavens to captivity, and bringing it down in fluttering
helplessness to the earth. It was a rare mind indeed which could give happy
expression to homely maxims of plodding thrift, and yet entertain noble
visions of universal philanthropy. The stretch between Franklin's weighty
observations on Population, for instance, and the bright, graceful
bagatelles, with which his pen occasionally trifled, was not a short one;
but it was compassed by his intellect without the slightest evidence of
halting facility. It is no exaggeration to say that this intellect was an
organ lacking in no element of power except that which can be supplied by a
profound spiritual insight and a kindling imagination alone. _The
Many-Sided Franklin_, the title of the essay by Paul Leicester Ford, is a
felicitous touch of description. The life, the mind, the character of the
man were all manifold, composite, marked by spacious breadth and freedom.
It is astonishing into how many different provinces his career can be
divided. Franklin, the Man of Business, Franklin, the Philosopher,
Franklin, the Writer, Franklin, the Statesman, Franklin, the Diplomatist,
have all been the subjects of separate literary treatment. As a man of
business, he achieved enough, when the limitations of his time and
environment are considered, to make him a notable precursor of the strong
race of self-created men, bred by the later material expansion of America.
As a scientist, his brilliant electrical discoveries gave him for a while,
as contemporary literature so strikingly evinces, a position of
extraordinary pre-eminence. As a writer, he can claim the distinction of
having composed two productions, _The Autobiography_ and _The Way to
Wealth_, which are read the world over. Of his reputation as a statesman it
is enough to remark that his signature is attached to the Declaration of
Independence, the Treaty of Alliance between the United States and France,
the Treaty of Peace between Great Britain and the United States, and the
Federal Constitution. Of his labors as a diplomatist it may be said that,
if it is true that, without the continuous assistance of France, our
independence would not have been secured, it is perhaps equally true that,
without his wisdom, tact and European prestige, we should never have
retained this assistance, so often imperilled by the jealousy and vanity of
his colleagues as well as by the usual accidents of international
intercourse. His life was like a full five-act play--prophetic prologue and
stately epilogue, and swelling scene imposed upon swelling scene, until the
tallow chandler's son, rising from the humblest levels of human fortune to
the highest by uninterrupted gradations of invincible success, finally
becomes the recipient of such a degree of impressive homage as has rarely
been paid to anyone by the admiration and curiosity of mankind.

To such a diversified career as this the element of mere longevity was, of
course, indispensable. Renown so solid and enduring as that of Franklin and
acquired in so many different fields was not a thing to be achieved by a
few fortunate strokes. He did not awake one morning, as did Byron, to find
himself famous; though his fame in the province of electrical science
travelled fast when it once got under way. Such a full-orbed renown could
be produced only by the long gestation of many years of physical vigor and
untiring activity. With the meagre opportunities afforded by colonial
conditions for the accumulation of wealth, there had to be an extended
period of unflagging attention to Poor Richard's saying: "Many a little
makes a mickle." To this period belong some things that the self-revelation
of the _Autobiography_, unselfish as it is, cannot dignify, or even redeem
from moral squalor, and other things which even the frankness itself of the
_Autobiography_ is not frank enough to disclose. Then there is the unique
story, imprinted upon the face of Philadelphia to this day, of his fruitful
exertions as Town Oracle and City Builder. Then there is the episode of
scientific inquiry, all too brief, when the prosperous printer and
tradesman, appraising wealth at its true value, turns away from his
printing press and stock of merchandise to give himself up with
enthusiastic ardor to the study of electrical phenomena. Then there is the
long term of public employment, beginning with the Clerkship of the
Pennsylvania Assembly and not ending until, after many years of illustrious
public service as legislator, administrator, diplomatic agent and foreign
minister, Franklin complains in a letter to Dr. and Mrs. John Bard that the
public, not content with eating his flesh, seems resolved to pick his

The amount of work that he did, the mass of results that he accomplished,
during the long tract of time covered by his life, is simply prodigious.
Primarily, Franklin was a man of action. The reputation that he coveted
most was, as he declared, in a letter to Samuel Mather, that of a doer of
good. Utility was the standard set by him for all his activities, and even
his system of ethics did not escape the hard, griping pressure of this
standard. What he aimed at from first to last, whether in the domain of
science, literature or government, was practical results, and men, as they
are known to experienced and shrewd, though kindly, observers of men, were
the agencies with which he sought to accomplish such results. He never lost
sight of the sound working principle, which the mere academician or closet
philosopher is so prone to forget, that the game cannot be played except
with the chess-men upon the board. But happily for the world few men of
action have ever bequeathed to posterity such abundant written records of
their lives. When Franklin desired to promote any project or to carry any
point, he invariably, or all but invariably, invoked the aid of his pen to
attain his end. To write for money, or for the mere pleasure of writing, or
even for literary fame was totally alien to the purposes for which he
wrote. A pen was to him merely another practical instrument for forwarding
some private aim of his or some definite public or political object, to
which his sympathies and powers were committed, or else but an aid to
social amusement. As the result of this secondary kind of literary
activity, he left behind him a body of writings of one kind or another
which enables us to measure far more accurately than we should otherwise
have been able to do the amount of thought and performance crowded into
those eventful years of lusty and prolific existence. In the Library of
Congress, in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, in the
Library of the University of Pennsylvania, in numerous other collections in
both hemispheres are found the outflowings of a brain to which exuberance
of production was as natural as rank vegetation to a fat soil. Nor should
it be forgotten that many of his papers have perished, which, if still
extant, would furnish additional proofs of the fertility of his genius and
swell the sum of pleasure and instruction which we derive from his works.
With the sigh that we breathe over the lost productions of antiquity might
well be mingled another over the papers and letters which were confided by
Franklin, on the eve of his mission to France, to the care of Joseph
Galloway, only to fall a prey to ruthless spoliation and dispersion. To
look forward to a long winter evening enlivened by the missing letters that
he wrote to his close friends, Jonathan Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph's,
"the good Bishop," as he called him, Sir Edward Newenham, of the Irish
Parliament, and Jan Ingenhousz, physician to Maria Theresa, would alone, to
one familiar with his correspondence, be as inviting a prospect as could be
held out to any reader with a relish for the intimate letters of a wise,
witty and humorous letter-writer.

The length of time during which the subtle and powerful mind of Franklin
was at work is, we repeat, a fact that must be duly taken into account in
exploring the foundations of his celebrity. "By living twelve years beyond
David's period," he said in one of his letters to George Whatley, "I seem
to have intruded myself into the company of posterity, when I ought to have
been abed and asleep." He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 6
(old style), 1706, and died in the City of Philadelphia on April 17, 1790.
At the time of his birth, Anne was in the fourth year of her reign as Queen
of England, and Louis XIV. was King of France. Only eighty-five years had
elapsed since the landing at Plymouth. More than three years were to elapse
before the battle of Malplaquet, more than five years before the
publication of the first _Spectator_, twenty years before the publication
of _Gulliver's Travels_. Franklin's name was an honored one not only in his
native land but beyond seas before any of the other great men who signed
the Declaration of Independence had emerged from provincial obscurity. His
birth preceded that of Washington by twenty-six years, that of John Adams
by thirty years, that of Jefferson by thirty-seven years. Coming into the
world only fifteen years after the outbreak of the witchcraft delusion at
Salem, he lived to be a member of the Federal Convention and to pass down
to us as modern in spirit and purpose as the American House of
Representatives or the American Patent Office. He, at least, is a standing
refutation of the claim that all the energetic tasks of human life are
performed by young men. He was seventy years of age when he arrived in
France to enter upon the laborious diplomatic career which so signally
increased the lustre of his fame and so gloriously prospered our national
fortunes; and he was seventy-nine years of age when his mission ended. But
even then, weighed down though he was by the strong hand of time and vexed
by diseases which left him little peace, there was no danger that he would
be classed by anyone with the old townsmen of whom Lord Bacon speaks "that
will be still sitting at their Street doore though thereby they offer Age
to Scorne." After his return from France, he lived long enough to be thrice
elected President of the State of Pennsylvania and to be a useful member of
the Convention that framed the Federal Constitution; and only twenty-four
days before his death he wrote the speech of Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim on the
petition of the Erika, or Purists for the abolition of piracy and slavery
which is one of the happiest effusions of his satirical genius.

_Multos da annos_ is a prayer, we may readily believe, that is often
granted by the Gods with a scornful smile. In the case of Franklin, even
without such a protracted term of life as was his portion, he would still
have enjoyed a distinguished place in the memory of men, but not that
broad, branching, full-crowned fame which makes him one of the most
conspicuous landmarks of the eighteenth century.

And fully in keeping with the extent of this fame was the extent of his
relationship to the social and intellectual world of his time. The main
background of his life, of course, was American--Lake Champlain, the St.
Lawrence, the Charles, the Connecticut, the Hudson, the Delaware and the
Ohio rivers; the long western reaches of the Atlantic; the dark curtain of
firs and hemlocks and primeval masses of rock which separated the two
powers that ceaselessly struggled for the mastery of the continent, and
rarely lifted except to reveal some appalling tragedy, chargeable to the
French and their dread ally, the Red Indian; Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, Fort Duquesne--all the internal features and surroundings in
a word of the long, narrow strip of English territory between Boston and
Philadelphia with which he was so familiar, and over which his influence
was asserted in so many ways. With the exception of his brief sojourn in
London in his youth, his whole life was passed in the Colonies until he was
fifty-one years of age. Before he sailed for England in 1757, upon his
first foreign mission, the circumstances of his career had been such as to
make him generally known to the people of the Colonies. His _Almanac_, his
_Gazette_, his pithy sayings, his humorous stories, his visits to Boston,
attended by the formation of so many wayside friendships, his postal
expeditions, the printing presses set up by him at many different points,
his private fortune, his public services, his electrical experiments were
all breath for the trump of his fame. He knew Colonial America as few
Colonial Americans knew it. He was born and reared in Boston, and, after
his removal to Philadelphia, he revisited his native city at regular
intervals. "The Boston manner, turn of phrase, and even tone of voice, and
accent in pronunciation, all please, and seem to refresh and revive me," he
said in his old age in a letter to the Rev. John Lathrop. Philadelphia, the
most populous and opulent of the colonial towns, was his lifelong place of
residence. In the _Autobiography_ he refers to it as "A city I love, having
lived many years in it very happily." He appears to have been quite
frequently in New York. His postal duties took him as far south as
Williamsburg, and the Albany Congress drew him as far north of New York as
Albany. He was in the camp of Braddock at Frederick, Maryland, just before
that rash and ill-starred general set out upon his long, dolorous march
through the wilderness where disaster and death awaited him. Facts like
these signify but little now when transit from one distant point to another
in the United States is effected with such amazing rapidity, but they
signified much under the crude conditions of colonial life. Once at least
did Franklin have his shoulder dislocated by an accident on the atrocious
roads of Colonial New England. Once he was thrown into the water from an
upset canoe near Staten Island. His masterly answers, when examined before
the House of Commons, showed how searchingly conversant he was with
everything that related to America. For some of our most penetrating
glances into colonial life we are indebted to his writings; particularly
instructive being his observations upon population in the Colonies, the
economic condition and political temper of their people and the
characteristics and habits of the Indians. It was a broad experience which
touched at one extreme the giddy and artificial life of Paris, on the eve
of the French Revolution, and at the other the drunken Indian orgies at the
conclusion of the treaty at Carlisle which Franklin has depicted in the
_Autobiography_ with a brush worthy of Rembrandt in these words: "Their
dark-colour'd bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the
bonfire, running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied
by their horrid yellings, form'd a scene the most resembling our ideas of
hell that could well be imagin'd."

But the peculiar distinction of Franklin is that his life stands out
vividly upon an European as well as an American background. It is
interesting to contrast the scene at Carlisle with the opera in honor of
the Comte du Nord, at which he was present, during the French mission. "The
House," he says in his _Journal of the Negotiation for Peace with Great
Britain_, "being richly finish'd with abundance of Carving and Gilding,
well Illuminated with Wax Tapers, and the Company all superbly drest, many
of the Men in Cloth of Tissue, and the Ladies sparkling with Diamonds,
form'd altogether the most splendid Spectacle my Eyes ever beheld." Until
the august figure of Washington filled the eye of mankind, Franklin was the
only American who had ever won a solid and splendid European reputation.
The opportunity had not yet arisen for the lively French imagination to
declare that he had snatched the sceptre from tyrants, but the first half
of Turgot's tremendous epigram had been realized; for the lightning he had
snatched, or rather filched, from the sky. It may well be doubted whether
any one private individual with such limited pecuniary resources ever did
as much for the moral and intellectual welfare of any one community as
Franklin did for pre-revolutionary Philadelphia; but it was impossible that
such aspirations and powers as his should be confined within the pale of
colonial provincialism. His widespread fame, his tolerant disposition, his
early residence in England, his later residence there for long periods, his
excursions into Scotland and Ireland and Continental countries, the society
of men of the world in London and other great cities combined to endow him
with a character truly cosmopolitan which was to be still further
liberalized by French influence. During his life, he crossed the Atlantic
no less than eight times. After 1757 the greater part of his life was spent
abroad. Of the eighty-four years, of which his existence was made up, some
twenty-six were passed in England and France. He was as much at home on The
Strand as on Market Street in Philadelphia. The friendships that he formed
in England and France were almost as close as those that he had formed in
Pennsylvania with his cronies, Hugh Roberts and John Bartram. He became so
thoroughly domesticated in England during his periods of sojourn in that
country that he thought of remaining there for the rest of his life, and
yet, if the Brillons had only been willing to confer the hand of their
daughter upon his grandson, William Temple Franklin, he would contentedly
have died in France. If there ever was an American, if there ever was a
citizen of the world, if there ever was a true child of the eighteenth
century, it was he. His humanitarian sympathies, his catholic temper, his
generous, unobstructed outlook enabled him without difficulty to adjust
himself with ease to the genius of every people with whom he was brought
into familiar contact. In America he was such a thorough American in every
respect that Carlyle is said to have termed him on one occasion, "The
Father of all the Yankees." In England he was English enough to feel the
full glow of her greatness and to see her true interests far more clearly
than she saw them herself. He had too many Anglo-Saxon traits to become
wholly a Frenchman when he lived in France, but he became French enough to
truly love France and her people and to be truly beloved by them. In the
opinion of Sainte-Beuve he is the most French of all Americans.


Franklin's Moral Standing and System

Until a comparatively recent period totally false conceptions in some
respects of Franklin's character were not uncommon. To many he was merely
the father of a penurious, cheese-paring philosophy, and to no little
extent the idea prevailed that his own nature and conduct corresponded with
its precepts. There could be no greater error. Of the whole science of
prudential economy a master indeed he was. His observations upon human
life, in its pecuniary relations, and upon the methods, by which affluence
and ease are to be wrested from the reluctant grasp of poverty, are always
sagacious in the highest degree. Poor Richard is quite as consummate a
master of the science of rising in the world as Aristotle is of the Science
of Politics or Mill of the Science of Political Economy. Given health and
strength, a man, who faithfully complied with his shrewd injunctions and
yet did not prosper, would be as much a freak of nature as a man who thrust
his hand into the fire and yet received no physical hurt. The ready and
universal assent given to their full truth and force by human experience is
attested by the fact that _The Way to Wealth_, or _The Speech of Father
Abraham_, "the plain, clean old Man with white Locks" in which Franklin,
when writing one of the prefaces of _Poor Richard's Almanac_, condensed the
wit and wisdom, original and second hand, of that incomparable manual of
_The Art of Material Success_, has, through innumerable editions and
reprints, and translations into every written tongue from the French to the
Russian and Chinese, become almost as well known to the entire civilized
globe as the unbroken strain of the martial airs of England. So well
calculated, it was thought, was it to promote sound principles of diligence
and frugality that it was, we are told by Franklin, reprinted in England,
to be set up in the form of a broadside in houses, and, when translated
into French, was bought by the clergy and gentry of France for distribution
among their poor parishioners and tenants. But so far from being the slave
of a parsimonious spirit was Franklin that it would be difficult to single
out any self-made man who ever formed a saner estimate of the value of
money than he did or lived up to it more fearlessly. In seeking money, he
was actuated, as his early retirement from business proved, only by the
high-minded motive to self-enrichment which is so pointedly expressed in
the lines of Burns:

    "Not for to hide it in a hedge,
      Nor for a train attendant,
    But for the glorious privilege
      Of being independent."

No sooner did he accumulate a sufficient fortune to provide for the
reasonable wants of his family and himself than he proceeded to make this
fortune the handmaid of some of the higher things of life--wholesome
reading, scientific research, public usefulness, schemes of beneficence. In
1748, when he was in the full flush of business success and but forty-two
years of age, he deliberately, for the sake of such things, retired from
all active connection with business pursuits. In a letter to Abiah
Franklin, his mother, shortly after he found himself free forever from the
cares of his shop, he speaks of himself in these words: "I enjoy, thro'
Mercy, a tolerable Share of Health. I read a great deal, ride a little, do
a little Business for myself, more for others, retire when I can, and go
into Company when I please; so the Years roll round, and the last will
come; when I would rather have it said, _He lived Usefully_, than _He died
Rich_." About the same time, he wrote to William Strahan, a business
correspondent, that the very notion of _dying worth_ a great sum was to him
absurd, and just the same as if a man should run in debt for one thousand
superfluities, to the end that, when he should be stripped of all, and
imprisoned by his creditors, it might be said, he _broke worth_ a great
sum. On more than one occasion, when there was a call upon his public zeal,
his response was generous to the point of imprudence. The bond that he gave
to indemnify against loss the owners of the wagons and horses procured by
his energy and address for Braddock's expedition led to claims against him
to the amount of nearly twenty thousand pounds, which would have ruined
him, if the British Government had not rescued him after long delay from
his dreadful situation. Without hesitation he entered during his first
mission to England into a personal engagement that an act taxing the estate
of the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania in common with the estates of the
People of Pennsylvania would not result in any injustice to the
Proprietaries. On a later occasion, in order to prevent war between Great
Britain and her Colonies, he was willing to bind himself, to the whole
extent of his private fortune, to make pecuniary reparation for the
destruction of the tea cast into Boston harbor, if the Province of
Massachusetts did not do so. One of his last acts before leaving America
for his mission to France was to place the sum of three or four thousand
pounds, which was a large part of this fortune, and all the ready money at
his command, at the disposal of Congress. His salary as President of
Pennsylvania was all given or bequeathed by him to public objects. The
small sums, to which he became entitled as one of the next of kin of his
father and his cousin, Mrs. Fisher, of Wellingborough, England, he
relinquished to members of the family connection who needed them more than
he did. Once, though a commercial panic was prevailing, he pledged his
credit to the extent of five thousand pounds for the purpose of supporting
that of a London friend. His correspondence nowhere indicates any degree of
pecuniary caution in excess of the proper demands of good sense. On the
contrary, it furnishes repeated testimony to his promptitude in honoring
the solicitations of private distress or subscribing to public purposes.
Conspicuously unselfish was he when the appeal was to his public spirit or
to his interest in the general welfare of mankind. Among his innumerable
benefactions was a gift of one thousand pounds to Franklin College,
Pennsylvania. When he invented his open stove for the better warming of
rooms, he gave the model to his friend, Robert Grace, who found, Franklin
tells us in the _Autobiography_, the casting of the plates for the stove at
his furnace near Philadelphia a profitable thing. So far from begrudging
this profit to his friend, he wrote his interesting _Account of the
New-invented Pennsylvanian Fireplaces_ to promote the public demand for the
invention. A London ironmonger made some small changes in the stove, which
were worse than of no value to it, and reaped, Franklin was told, a little
fortune by it. "And this," he says in the _Autobiography_, "is not the only
instance of patents taken out for my inventions by others, tho' not always
with the same success, which I never contested, as having no desire of
profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes." When he was actually
engaged in the business of printing, a similar motive, so far as public
spirit went, led him to offer to print a treatise by Cadwallader Colden on
the _Cause of Gravitation_ at his own expense and risk. If he could be the
means of communicating anything valuable to the world, he wrote to Colden,
he did not always think of gaining nor even of saving by his business.

That the character of Franklin should ever have been deemed so meanly
covetous is due to _Poor Richard's Almanac_ and the _Autobiography_. The
former, with its hard, bare homilies upon the Gospel of Getting on in Life
and its unceasing accent upon the duty of scrimping and saving, circulated
so long and so widely throughout the Colonies that the real Franklin came
to be confused in many minds with the fictitious Poor Richard. Being
intended mainly for the instruction and amusement of the common people,
whose chief hope of bettering their condition lay in rigid self-denial, it
is naturally keyed to unison with the ruder and austerer principles of
human thrift. As to the _Autobiography_, with its host of readers, the only
Franklin known to the great majority of persons, who have any familiarity
with Franklin at all, is its Franklin, and this Franklin is the one who had
to "make the night joint-laborer with the day," breakfast on bread and milk
eaten out of a two-penny earthen porringer with a pewter spoon, and closely
heed all the sage counsels of _Poor Richard's Almanac_ before he could even
become the possessor of a china bowl and a silver spoon. It is in the
_Autobiography_ that the story of Franklin's struggle, first for the naked
means of subsistence, and then for pecuniary competency, is told; and the
harsh self-restraint, the keen eye to every opportunity for self-promotion,
and the grossly mechanical theory of morals disclosed by it readily give
color to the notion that Franklin was nothing more than a sordid
materialist. It should be remembered that it is from the _Autobiography_
that we obtain the greatest part of our knowledge of the exertions through
which he acquired his fortune, and that the successive ascending stages, by
which he climbed the steep slopes that lead up from poverty and obscurity,
are indelibly set forth in this lifelike book with a pen as coarse but at
the same time as vivid and powerful as the pencil with which Hogarth
depicts the descending stages of the Rake's Progress. And along with these
facts it should also be remembered that the didactic purpose by which the
_Autobiography_ was largely inspired should be duly allowed for before we
draw too disparaging inferences about Franklin from anything that he says
in that book with respect to his career.

It is a curious fact that almost every reproach attaching to the reputation
of Franklin is attributable to the candor of the _Autobiography_. It is
true that in the political contests between the Proprietary and Popular
Parties in Colonial Pennsylvania he was often visited with virulent abuse
by the retainers of the Proprietaries. This was merely the dirty froth
brought to the surface by every boiling pot. It is also true that, after
the transmission of the Hutchinson letters to New England, he was the
object of much savage censure at the hands of British Tories. But this
censure, for the most part, was as empty as the ravings of the particular
bigot who indorsed on the first page of a volume of letters in the Public
Record Office, in London, a statement that the thirteen letters of Doctor
Franklin in the volume were perhaps then "only precious or Important so far
as they prove and discover the Duplicity, Ingratitude, and Guilt of this
Arch Traitor whom they unveil and really unmask Displaying him as an
accomplish'd Proficient in the blacker Arts of Dissimulation and Guile."
Not less hollow was the invective with which the distempered mind of Arthur
Lee assailed the character of Franklin when they were together in France.
Nor can it be denied that in such Rabelaisian _jeux d'esprit_ as Polly
Baker's Speech, the Letter on the Choice of a Mistress, and the Essay on
Perfumes, dedicated to the Royal Academy of Brussels, in the _naïveté_
which marked Franklin's relations to his natural son, William Franklin,
and to his natural son's natural son, William Temple Franklin, and in the
ease with which he adopted in his old age the tone, if not the practices,
of French gallantry, we cannot but recognize a nature too deficient in the
refinements of early social training, too physically ripe for sensual
enjoyment and too unfettered in its intellectual movements to be keenly
mindful of some of the nicer obligations of scrupulous conduct. In moral
dignity, Franklin was not George Washington, though there was no one held
in higher honor by him. "If it were a Sceptre, he has merited it, and would
become it," he said in bequeathing a fine crab-tree walking stick to
Washington, whom he termed "My friend, and the friend of mankind." If for
no other reason, Franklin was not Washington because he lacked the family
traditions and early social advantages of Washington, and perhaps
Washington might have been more like Franklin, if he had had some of
Franklin's humor. While the resemblance is limited, Franklin does resemble
in some respects Jefferson who was too scientific in spirit and too liberal
in his opinions not to be a little of a skeptic and a heretic himself. But
nothing can be more certain than the fact that Franklin was esteemed by his
contemporaries not only a great but a good man. We pass by the French
extravagance which made him out a paragon of all the virtues as well as the
_plus grand philosophe du siècle_; for the French were but mad idolaters
where he was concerned. It is sufficient for our purposes to limit
ourselves to his English and American panegyrists. Referring to Franklin's
humble birth, Benjamin Vaughan, a dull but good man, wrote to him that he
proved "how little necessary all origin is to happiness, virtue, or
greatness." In another place, Vaughan speaks of the "affection, gratitude
and veneration" he bears to Franklin. To the sober Quaker, Abel James, the
author of the _Autobiography_ was the "kind, humane, and benevolent Ben.
Franklin" whose work almost insensibly led the youth "into the resolution
of endeavoring to become as good and eminent" as himself. In urging
Franklin to complete the story of his life, he added: "I know of no
character living, nor many of them put together, who has so much in his
power as thyself to promote a greater spirit of industry and early
attention to business, frugality, and temperance with the American youth."
As Franklin's letters bring to our knowledge friend after friend of his,
among the wisest and best men of his day, on both sides of the Atlantic, we
begin to ask ourselves whether anyone ever did have such a genius for
exciting the sentiment of true, honest friendship in virtuous and useful
men. His correspondence with Catherine Ray, Polly Stevenson, and Georgiana
Shipley, though several of his letters to the first of the three are
blemished by the freedom of the times and vulgar pleasantry, demonstrates
that his capacity for awakening this sentiment was not confined to his own
sex. Inclined as he was in his earlier and later years, to use Madame
Brillon's phrase, to permit his wisdom to be broken upon the rocks of
femininity, unbecoming his advanced age and high position as was the
salacious strain which ran through his letters to this beautiful and
brilliant woman, as we shall see hereafter, nothing could illustrate better
than his relations to Polly Stevenson how essentially incorrupt his heart
was when his association was with any member of the other sex who really
had modesty to lose. Such was the pure affection entertained for him by
this fine woman that, after the death of her celebrated husband, Dr.
William Hewson, she removed from London to Philadelphia with her children
to be near the friend, little less than a father, who had lavished upon her
all that was best in both his mind and heart. There is much in the life of
Franklin to make us believe that his standards of sexual morality were
entirely too lax, but there is everything in it, too, to make us believe
that he would not only have been incapable of seducing female innocence but
would have been slow to withhold in any regard the full meed of deferential
respect due to a chaste girl or a virtuous matron. It is hard to repress a
smile when we read under the head of "Humility" in his _Table of Virtues_,
just below the words, in which, under the head of "Chastity," he deprecates
the use of "venery" to the injury of one's own or another's peace or
reputation, the injunction for his own guidance, "imitate Jesus and
Socrates." All the same, it is a fact that one person, at any rate, Jane
Mecom, his sister, even thought him not unworthy to be compared with our
Saviour. "I think," she said, "it is not profanity to compare you to our
Blessed Saviour who employed much of his time while here on earth in doing
good to the body as well as souls of men." Elizabeth Hubbard, the
stepdaughter of his brother John, even warned him that, if he was not less
zealous in doing good, he would find himself alone in heaven. Through all
the observations of his contemporaries vibrates the note that he was too
wise and benevolent to belong to anything less than the entire human race.
Jonathan Shipley, "The Good Bishop," suggested as a motto suitable to his
character, "his country's friend, but more of human kind." Burke called him
"the lover of his species." By Sir Samuel Romilly he was pronounced "one of
the best and most eminent men of the present age." Chatham eulogized him in
the House of Lords as one "whom all Europe held in high Estimation for his
Knowledge and Wisdom, and rank'd with our Boyles and Newtons; who was an
Honour, not to the English Nation only, but to Human Nature." In one of his
works, Lord Kames spoke of him as "a man who makes a great figure in the
learned world; and who would make a still greater figure for benevolence
and candor, were virtue as much regarded in this declining age as
knowledge." Less formal was the heartfelt tribute of Dr. Samuel Cooper, of
Massachusetts, after many years of intercourse: "Your friendship has united
two things in my bosom that seldom meet, pride and consolation: it has been
the honor and the balm of my life." And when towards the close of
Franklin's life he wrote to George Washington, "In whatever State of
Existence I am plac'd hereafter, if I retain any Memory of what has pass'd
here, I shall with it retain the Esteem, Respect, and Affection, with which
I have long been, my dear Friend, yours most sincerely," he received a
reply, which was not only a reply, but the stately, measured judgment of a
man who never spoke any language except that of perfect sincerity. "If,"
said Washington, "to be venerated for benevolence, if to be admired for
talents, if to be esteemed for patriotism, if to be beloved for
philanthropy, can gratify the human mind, you must have the pleasing
consolation to know, that you have not lived in vain." "And I flatter
myself," he continued, "that it will not be ranked among the least grateful
occurrences of your life to be assured that, so long as I retain my memory,
you will be recollected with respect, veneration, and affection by your
sincere friend." These were credentials indeed for the old printer to take
with him on his journey to the bright orbs which it was a part of his early
religious fantasies to believe were swayed by Gods intermediate in the
scale of intelligent existence between ourselves and the "one Supreme, most
Perfect Being, Author and Father of the Gods themselves."[1]

It is, we repeat, the _Autobiography_ which is mainly responsible for the
unfavorable impressions that have been formed about the character of
Franklin. It is there that we learn what heady liquor his sprightly mind
and free spirit quaffed from the cup of boyhood and what errata blurred the
fair, fresh page of his early manhood. It is there that he has told us how,
as the result of his written attacks upon the Established Order, Puritan
Boston began to consider him in an unfavorable light "as a young genius
that had a turn for libelling and satyr"; how his indiscreet disputations
about religion caused him to be pointed at with horror by good people in
the same starch town as an infidel or atheist; how he availed himself of a
fraud in the second indentures of apprenticeship between his brother and
himself to claim his freedom before his time was up; how, in distant
London, he forgot the troth that he had plighted to Deborah Read; how he
attempted familiarities with the mistress of his friend Ralph which she
repulsed with a proper resentment; how he broke into the money which Mr.
Vernon had authorized him to collect; how he brought over Collins and Ralph
to his own free-thinking ways; how he became involved in some foolish
intrigues with low women which from the expense were rather more
prejudicial to him than to them. It is in the _Autobiography_ also that we
learn from him how he thought that the daughter of Mrs. Godfrey's relation
should bring him as his wife enough money to discharge the remainder of the
debt on his printing house even if her parents had to mortgage their house
in the loan office; how partly by sheer force and pinching economy and
partly by dexterity and finesse, sometimes verging upon cunning, he pushed
himself further and further along the road to fortune, and finally how he
was so successful with the help of his _Art of Virtue_, despite occasional
stumblings and slips, in realizing his dream of moral perfection as to be
able to write complacently upon the margin of the _Autobiography_, "nothing
so likely to make a man's fortune as virtue." It is things like these in
the _Autobiography_ that have tended to create in minds, which know
Franklin only in this narrative, the idea that he was a niggard, a squalid
utilitarian, and even a little of a rogue; though the same _Autobiography_
witnesses also that he was not so engrossed with his own selfish interests
as not to find time for the enlarged projects of public utility which to
this day render it almost impossible for us to think of Philadelphia
without recalling the figure of Franklin. _Si monumentum requiris
circumspice_, was the proud inscription placed over the grave of Sir
Christopher Wren in the city where his genius had designed so many
edifices. The same inscription might be aptly placed over the grave of
Franklin in Christ Church yard in the city where his public spirit and
wisdom laid the foundations of so much that has proved enduring.

There is unquestionably a shabby side to the _Autobiography_, despite the
inspiring sacrifice of his physical wants which Franklin made in his
boyhood to gratify his intellectual cravings, the high promptings which the
appetites and unregulated impulses of his unguarded youth were powerless to
stifle, the dauntless resolution and singleness of purpose with which he
defied and conquered his adverse star, the wise moderation of his hour of
victory, the disinterested and splendid forms of social service to which he
devoted his sagacious and fruitful mind, his manly hatred of injustice and
cruelty, his fidelity to the popular cause which neither flattery could
cajole nor power overawe. In its mixture of what is noble with what is
ignoble the _Autobiography_ reminds us of the merchandise sold at the new
printing-office near the Market in Philadelphia, where Franklin conducted
his business as a printer and a merchant, where his wife, Deborah, assisted
him by folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop and purchasing old
linen rags, and where his mother-in-law, Mrs. Read, compounded her
sovereign remedy against the itch and lice. Now it was a translation of
Cato's _Moral Distichs_ or a pamphlet against slavery fresh from his own
press, now it was a copy of some devotional or useful work which the last
packet had brought over from London, now it was a lot of goose feathers, or
old rags, or a likely young negro wench. But on the whole we cannot help
thinking that the calm view, which Franklin himself, in the cool of the
evening of his life, takes of the early part of his existence, was, with
some qualifications, not far wrong. Notwithstanding the dangerous season of
youth and the hazardous situations, in which he was sometimes placed among
strangers, when he was remote from the eye and advice of his sterling
father, Josiah Franklin, he believed, as we know from the _Autobiography_,
that he had not fallen into any "willful gross immorality or injustice";
and, start as the student of Franklin may at times at things which might
chill for the moment the enthusiasm of even such a Boswellian as the late
John Bigelow, to whose editorial services the reputation of Franklin is so
deeply indebted, he is likely in his final estimate to find himself in very
much the same mood as that which impelled Franklin in the _Autobiography_
to make the famous declaration, so true to his normal and intensely vital
nature, that, were it offered to his choice, he "should have no objection
to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the
advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults of the
first." Be this as it may, it is at least safe to say that it is very
unfair to judge the character of Franklin by the _Autobiography_ without
bearing in mind one of the leading motives by which he was induced to write
his own life. To his great honor it can be said that to do good in the
higher social sense, to promote the lasting interests of humanity, to free
the march of the race from every handicap, every impediment, whether
arising in or outside of ourselves, to instruct, to enlighten, were the
dominant incentives, the mellow, yet commanding passions of his existence.
Like many another philosopher before and since, in his zeal to subserve the
general interest he forgot himself. If other young men treading in his
footsteps could be deterred by the warnings of his errors from becoming
involved in the mistakes and moral lapses in which his youth and
inexperience were involved, he was willing, though not without some
misgivings, to lay before them and the whole world all the details of these
errors. In composing the _Autobiography_, he was influenced to no little
degree by the spirit of a man who bequeaths his own body to the surgeons
for the advancement of science. If his reputation suffered by his tender of
himself as a _corpus vile_ for the benefit of future generations, he was
prepared to take this risk, as he was prepared to take the risks of the two
electric shocks, which nearly cost him his life, in the promotion of human
knowledge. It is impossible for anyone, who is not familiar with the
perfect lack of selfish reserve brought by Franklin to the pursuit of truth
or the universal interests of mankind, to understand the extent to which,
in composing the _Autobiography_, he was moved by generous considerations
of this sort. In no other production of his did he show the same
disposition to turn the seamier side of his existence to the light for the
simple reason that no other production of his was written with the same
homiletic purpose as the _Autobiography_. And, if this purpose had not been
so strong upon him, how easy it would have been for him by a little
judicious suppression here and a few softening touches there to have
altered the whole face of the _Autobiography_, and to have rendered it as
faithless a transcript of the slips and blots of his life as are most
autobiographies of human beings--even those of men who have enjoyed a high
repute for moral excellence--in their relations to the indiscretions, the
follies and the transgressions of their immaturer years! At any rate, of
the offences of Franklin, mentioned in the _Autobiography_, may be said
what cannot be said of the similar offences of many men. He handsomely
atoned for them all so far as the opportunity to atone for them arose. It
was undoubtedly a serious breach of the moral law for him to have begotten
William Franklin out of lawful wedlock, and in the impartial affection,
which he publicly bestowed upon his illegitimate son and his legitimate
daughter, we see another illustration of his insensibility to the finer
inflections of human scruples. But when we see him accept this illegitimate
son as if he had come to him over his right shoulder instead of his left,
take him under his family roof, give him every advantage that education and
travel could confer, seek an honorable alliance for him, put him in the way
to become the Governor of Colonial New Jersey, even affectionately
recognize his illegitimate son as a grandson, we almost feel as if such
ingenuous naturalism had a kind of bastard moral value of its own.

The _Autobiography_ is interesting in every respect but in none more so
than in relation to the System of Morals adopted by Franklin for his
self-government in early life, when, to use his own words in that work, he
"conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection."
This project once formed, he went about its execution in a manner as
strictly mechanical as if he had been rectifying a smoky chimney or
devising a helpful pair of glasses for his defective eyesight. The virtues
were classified by him under thirteen heads: Temperance, Silence, Order,
Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation,
Cleanliness, Tranquillity, Chastity and Humility. These terms were all
tabulated by him in a little pocketbook kept for that especial purpose, and
to each virtue the close attention of a week was successively given by him.
If an offence was committed by him on a certain day, it was entered by a
little black mark under that date opposite the affronted virtue. The object
was to so concentrate his vigilance upon each virtue in turn and to so
strengthen his capacity to resist every temptation to violate it as to
finally render its practice habitual and instinctive. The plan in spirit
was not unlike the system of prudential algebra to which he told Joseph
Priestley, many years afterwards, that he resorted when his judgment was in
a state of uncertainty about some problem. In one column he would jot down
on a piece of paper all the _pros_ of the case, and in another all the
_cons_, and then, by appraising the relative value of each _pro_ and _con_
set down before his eye, and cancelling equivalent considerations, decide
upon which side the preponderance of the argument lay. Even Franklin
himself admits that his plan for making an automatic machine of virtue did
not work in every respect. Order he experienced extreme difficulty in
acquiring. Indeed, this virtue was so much against his grain that he felt
inclined to content himself with only a partial measure of fidelity to it,
like the man, he said in the _Autobiography_, who, though at first desirous
of having his whole ax bright, grew so tired of turning the grindstone on
which it was being polished that when the smith, who was holding it,
remarked that it was only speckled, and asked him to turn on, he replied,
"But I think I like a speckled ax best." The Humility, too, which Franklin
acquired, he was disposed to think was more specious than real. Pride, he
moralizes in the _Autobiography_, is perhaps the hardest of our natural
passions to subdue, and even, if he could conceive that he had completely
overcome it, he would probably, he thought, be proud of his humility. This
reminds us of his other observation in the _Autobiography_ that he gave
vanity fair quarter wherever he met with it, and that, in many cases, it
would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity
among the other comforts of life. In the effort, however, to acquire
Humility, Franklin did, he informs us in the same work, acquire, as time
wore on, the habit of expressing his opinions in such conciliatory forms
that no one perhaps for fifty years past had ever heard a dogmatic
expression escape him. "And to this habit (after my character of
integrity)," he declares, "I think it principally owing that I had early so
much weight with my fellow citizens when I proposed new institutions, or
alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when I
became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to
much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet
I generally carried my points." On the whole, even though Franklin did find
Order and Humility not easy of attainment, he was very well satisfied with
the results of his plan for imparting the force of habit to virtue. In his
seventy-ninth year the former tradesman sat down to count deliberately his
moral gains. To his "little artifice" with the blessing of God he owed, he
felt, the constant felicity of his life until that time. To Temperance he
ascribed his long-continued health and what was still left to him of a good
constitution; to Industry and Frugality the early easiness of his
circumstances and the acquisition of his fortune with all that knowledge
that enabled him to be a useful citizen and obtained for him some degree
of reputation among the learned; to Sincerity and Justice the confidence of
his country and the honorable employs it conferred upon him; and to the
joint influence of the whole mass of the virtues, even in the imperfect
state that he was able to acquire them, all that evenness of temper and
that cheerfulness in conversation which made his company still sought for
and agreeable even to his younger acquaintance. From other expressions of
his in the _Autobiography_ we are left to infer that he believed that
Frugality and Industry, by freeing him from the residue of the debt on his
printing house and producing affluence and independence, had made more easy
the practice of sincerity and justice and the like by him.

So highly did Franklin esteem his method that he intended to follow it up
with a treatise, to be known as the _Art of Virtue_, containing a practical
commentary upon each of the virtues inserted in his little book, and
showing just how anyone could make himself virtuous, if he only had a mind
to. In this treatise, it was his desire, he says in the _Autobiography_, to
expound the doctrine that vicious actions are not hurtful because they are
forbidden but forbidden because they are hurtful, the nature of man alone
considered, and that it is therefore to the interest of everyone to be
virtuous who wishes to be happy even in this world. "I should from this
circumstance," he said, "(there being always in the world a number of rich
merchants, nobility, states, and princes, who have need of honest
instruments for the management of their affairs, and such being so rare),
have endeavoured to convince young persons that no qualities were so likely
to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity." The
thought was more fully developed in a letter to Lord Kames, dated May 3,

     I purpose likewise [he said], a little work for the
     benefit of youth, to be called the _Art of Virtue_.
     From the title I think you will hardly conjecture what
     the nature of such a book may be. I must therefore
     explain it a little. Many people lead bad lives that
     would gladly lead good ones, but know not _how_ to make
     the change. They have frequently _resolved_ and
     _endeavoured_ it; but in vain, because their endeavours
     have not been properly conducted. To expect people to
     be good, to be just, to be temperate, &c., without
     _shewing_ them _how_ they should _become_ so, seems
     like the ineffectual charity mentioned by the Apostle,
     which consisted in saying to the hungry, the cold, and
     the naked, "Be ye fed, be ye warmed, be ye clothed,"
     without shewing them how they should get food, fire, or

     Most people have naturally _some_ virtues, but none
     have naturally _all_ the virtues. To _acquire_ those
     that are wanting, and secure what we acquire, as well
     as those we have naturally, is the subject of _an art_.
     It is as properly an art as painting, navigation, or
     architecture. If a man would become a painter,
     navigator, or architect, it is not enough that he is
     _advised_ to be one, that he is _convinced_ by the
     arguments of his adviser, that it would be for his
     advantage to be one, and that he resolves to be one,
     but he must also be taught the principles of the art,
     be shewn all the methods of working, and how to acquire
     the habits of using properly all the instruments; and
     thus regularly and gradually he arrives, by practice,
     at some perfection in the art.

The virtue, which this new art was to fabricate, was obviously too much in
keeping with the national tendency to turn over tasks of every sort to
self-directed machinery. The _Art of Virtue_, however, was never actually
penned, owing to the demands of private and public business upon Franklin's
time, and the world was consequently left to get along as it best could
with virtue of the old impulsive and untutored type. We are also apprised
in the _Autobiography_ that the _Art of Virtue_ itself was to be but an
incident of a great and extensive project which likewise never reached
maturity for the same reasons that arrested the completion of that work.
This project was the formation of a United Party for Virtue, to be
composed of virtuous men of all nations under the government of suitable
good and wise rules. The conditions of initiation into this body, which was
to move on sin and debt throughout the world with embattled ranks and
flying banners, were to be the acceptance of Franklin's final religious
creed, of which we shall have something to say presently, and the
continuous practice for thirteen weeks of Franklin's moral regimen; and the
members were to engage to afford their advice, assistance and support to
each other in promoting one another's interests, business and advancement
in life. For distinction, the association was to be called The Society of
the Free and Easy, "free, as being, by the general practice and habit of
the virtues, free from the dominion of vice; and particularly by the
practice of industry and frugality, free from debt, which exposes a man to
confinement, and a species of slavery to his creditors." It is in the
_Autobiography_ also that Franklin states that he filled the spaces between
the remarkable days in the calendar in his _Poor Richard's Almanac_ with
proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality,
"as the means," he declared, "of procuring wealth, and thereby securing
virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want, to act always honestly,
as, to use here one of those proverbs, _it is hard for an empty sack to
stand upright_."[2]

This prudential view of morality also found utterance in other forms in the
writings of Franklin. In the first of the two graceful dialogues between
Philocles, the Man of Reason and Virtue, and Horatio, the Man of Pleasure,
which appeared in the _Pennsylvania Gazette_, the former warns the latter
in honeyed words that he would lose even as a man of pleasure, if, in the
pursuit of pleasure, he did not practice self-denial, by taking as much
care of his future as his present happiness, and not building one upon the
ruins of the other; all of which, of course, was more epigrammatically
embodied in that other injunction of Poor Richard, "Deny self for self's
sake." No wonder that Horatio was so delighted with a theory of
self-denial, which left him still such a comfortable margin for sensual
enjoyment, that, when Philocles bids him good night, he replies: "Adieu!
thou enchanting Reasoner!"

"Money makes men virtuous, Virtue makes them happy"; this is perhaps an
unfair way of summarizing Franklin's moral precepts, but it is not remote
from fairness. "Truth and Sincerity," he had written in his _Journal of a
Voyage from London to Philadelphia_, when he was but twenty years of age,
"have a certain distinguishing native lustre about them, which cannot be
perfectly counterfeited; they are like fire and flame, that cannot be
painted." It would have been well for the moralist of later years to have
remembered this statement when he made up his mind to contract the habit of
moral perfection. His Milton, from which he borrowed the _Hymn to the
Creator_ that is a part of his _Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion_,
might have told him,

    "Virtue could see to do what Virtue would
    By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
    Were in the flat sea sunk,"

or in those other words from the same strains of supernal melody,

      "If Virtue feeble were
    Heaven itself would stoop to her."

In teaching and pursuing a system of morals, which was nothing but a scheme
of enlightened selfishness, dependent for its aliment upon pecuniary ease
and habit, he was simply faithful to a general conception of life and
character entirely too earthbound and grovelling to satisfy those higher
intuitions and ideals which, be the hard laws of our material being what
they may, not only never permit our grosser natures to be at peace, but
reject with utter disdain the suggestion that they and our vices and
infirmities are but offshoots of the same parent stock of selfishness. It
cannot be denied that, as a general rule, a man with some money is less
urgently solicited to commit certain breaches of the moral law than a man
with none, or that we should be in a bad way, indeed, if we did not have
the ply of habit as well as the whisper of conscience to assist us in the
struggle between good and evil that is ever going on in our own breasts.
But the limited freedom from temptation, secured by the possession of
money, and the additional capacity for resisting temptation, bred by good
habits, are, it is hardly necessary to say, foundations too frail to
support alone the moral order of the universe. Beyond money, however
conducive it may be in some respects to diminished temptation, there must
be something to sweeten the corrupting influence of money. Beyond good
habits, however desirable as aids to virtue, there must be something to
create and sustain good habits. This thing no merely politic sense of
moral necessity can ever be. Franklin's idea of supplying our languid moral
energies with a system of moral practice as material as a go-cart or a
swimming bladder is one, it is safe to say, upon which neither he nor
anyone else could build a character that would, as Charles Townsend might
have said, be anything but "a habit of lute string--a mere thing for summer
wear." His _Art of Virtue_ was a spurious, pinchbeck, shoddy substitute for
the real virtue which has its home in our uninstructed as well as our
instructed moral impulses; and for one man, who would be made virtuous by
it, ten, we dare say, would be likely to be made shallow formalists or
canting scamps. It is a pity that Poor Richard did not make more of that
other time-honored maxim, "Virtue is its own reward."

Indeed, we shrewdly suspect that even Franklin's idea that he was such a
debtor to his factitious system of moral practice was not much better than
a conceit. The improvement in his moral character, after he first began to
carry the virtues around in his pocket, is, we think, far more likely to
have been due to the natural decline of youthful waywardness and dissent,
the discipline of steady labor, the settling and sober effects of domestic
life and the wider vision in every respect in our relations to the world
which comes to us with our older years. It is but just to Franklin to say
that, even before he adopted his "little artifice," his character as
respects the virtues, which he specifically names as having had a hand in
producing the constant felicity of his life, namely, Temperance, Industry,
Frugality, Sincerity and Justice was, so far as Temperance, Industry and
Frugality were concerned, exceptionally good, and, so far as Sincerity and
Justice were concerned, not subject to any ineffaceable reproach. In truth,
even he, we imagine, would have admitted with a laugh, accompanied perhaps
by a humorous story, that the period of his life, before his dream of
moral perfection was formed, when he was so temperate as to be known to his
fellow printers in London as the "Water American," and to be able to turn
from the common diet to the vegetarian, and back again, without the
slightest inconvenience, would compare quite favorably with the period of
his life, after his dream of moral perfection had been formed, when he had
to confess on one occasion to Polly Stevenson that he had drunk more at a
venison feast than became a philosopher, and on another to his friend, John
Bartram that, if he could find in any Italian travels a recipe for making
Parmesan cheese, it would give him more satisfaction than a transcript of
any inscription from any old stone whatever. How far the effect of his
moral regimen was to strengthen the virtues of Silence, Resolution,
Moderation, Cleanliness and Tranquillity we lack sufficient materials for a
judgment. These, assuming that Cleanliness must have gone along with such
an eager propensity for swimming as his, were all native virtues of his
anyhow we should say. But as to Chastity the invigorating quality of the
regimen is certainly open to the most serious doubt. There is only too much
in the correspondence which has survived him to give color to the statement
of John Adams that even at the age of seventy-odd he had neither lost his
love of beauty nor his taste for it. When we bear this in mind and recall
what he had to say in the _Autobiography_ about the "hard-to-be-governed
passion of youth," which frequently hurried him into intrigues with low
women that fell in his way before he resolved to acquire the habit of
chastity with the aid of his book, we realize that the artificial
scaffolding, which he proposed to build up around his character, reasonably
enough broke down at just the point where the natural vigor of his
character was the weakest.

In point of sexual morality, Franklin was no better than the Europe of the
eighteenth century; distinctly worse than the America of that century. His
domestic affections were uncommonly strong, but the notable peculiarity
about his domestic life is that he was not a whit less soberly dutiful in
his irregular than in his regular family connections, and always acted as
if the nuptial ceremony was a wholly superfluous form, so far as a proper
sense of marital or paternal obligation, or the existence of deep,
unreserved affection, upon the part of a husband or father, went. His lack
of scruples in this respect almost reminds us of the question put by his
own Polly Baker, when she was prosecuted the fifth time for giving birth to
a bastard: "Can it be a crime (in the nature of things, I mean) to add to
the king's subjects, in a new country, that really wants people?"
Apparently no ceremony of any kind ever preceded his union with Deborah,
though accompanied by circumstances of cohabitation and acknowledgment
which unquestionably rendered it a valid, binding marriage, in every
respect, under the liberal laws of Pennsylvania. He simply remarks in the
_Autobiography_, "I took her to wife, September 1, 1730." The artlessness
with which he extended the full measure of a father's recognition to
William Franklin excited comment abroad as well as at home, and, together
with the political wounds inflicted by him upon the official arrogance and
social pride of the Proprietary Party in Pennsylvania, was mainly
responsible for the opprobrium in which his memory was held in the higher
social circles of Philadelphia long after his death. So far as we know,
there is nothing in his utterances or writings to indicate that the birth
of William Franklin ever caused him the slightest shame or embarrassment.
His dignity of character, in its way, it has been truly said by Sydney
George Fisher, was as natural and instinctive as that of Washington, and,
in its relations to illegitimacy, for which he was answerable, seems to
have felt the lack of conventional support as little as our first parents,
in their pristine state, did the lack of fig leaves. He accepted his
natural son and William Temple Franklin, William's natural son, exactly as
if both had come recommended to his outspoken affection by betrothal,
honest wedding ring and all. The idea that any stigma attached to either,
or that they stood upon any different footing from his legitimate daughter,
Sarah Bache and her children, was something that his mind does not appear
to have harbored at all. His attitude towards them was as unblushingly
natural and demonstrative, to get back to the Garden of Eden, as the mutual
caresses of Adam and Eve before the Fall of Man. William was born a few
months after the marriage of Franklin and Deborah, and his father, so far
as we can see, took him under his roof with as little constraint as if his
introduction had been duly provided for in the marriage contract. Indeed,
John Bigelow, who is always disposed, in the spirit of Franklin's own
limping lines on Deborah, to deem all his Joan's faults "exceedingly
small," rather ludicrously observes: "William may therefore be said to have
been born in wedlock, though he was not reputed to be the son of Mrs.
Franklin." So identified did he become with all the other members of
Franklin's household that Franklin in his letters not only frequently
conveyed "Billy's" duty to his "mother" and "Billy's" love to his "sister"
but on one occasion at least even "Billy's" duty to his "grandmother," Mrs.
Read, the mother of Mrs. Franklin. As the boy outgrew his pony, of which we
obtain a pleasant glimpse in a "lost" notice in the _Pennsylvania Gazette_,
we find Franklin in a letter to his own mother, Abiah Franklin, in which he
couples the name of "Billy" in the most natural way with that of his
daughter Sally, saying: "Will is now nineteen years of age, a tall proper
Youth, and much of a Beau." It was with William Franklin, when Governor of
New Jersey, that Sally took refuge at the time that her father's house in
Philadelphia was threatened with destruction by a Stamp Act mob; and it was
to him shortly afterwards, when the tide of popular approval was again
running in favor of Franklin, then the agent of Pennsylvania at London,
that she dispatched these joyful words: "Dear Brother:--_The Old Ticket
forever! We have it by 34 votes! God bless our worthy and noble agent, and
all his family!_" Through the influence of his father the son obtained a
provincial commission which brought him some military experience, and also
filled the office of Postmaster at Philadelphia, and afterwards the office
of Clerk of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. He was with Franklin when
the latter sent his kite on its memorable flight into the skies; when he
visited Braddock's camp; and when he conducted his military expedition
against the murderous Indians. When Franklin sailed for England in 1757,
William accompanied him with the view of obtaining a license from the Inns
of Court, in which he had already been entered by the former, to practice
as a barrister. Abroad, he still remained his father's inseparable
companion, living with him, accompanying him in his travelling excursions,
attending him, when he was so signally honored at Cambridge and Oxford,
even poring with him over the parish records and gravestones at Ecton from
which Franklin sought to rescue such information as he could about his
humble ancestors, who could not have excited his curiosity more keenly, if
they had all been Princes of the Blood. What the two learned at Ecton of
the abilities and public spirit of Thomas, an uncle of Franklin, and a man
of no little local prominence, suggested such a close resemblance between
the uncle and nephew that William Franklin remarked: "Had he died on the
same day, one might have supposed a transmigration." Alexander Carlyle in
his _Autobiography_ has something to say about an occasion at Doctor
Robertson's house in Edinburgh when the pair as well as Hume, Dr. Cullen,
Adam Smith and others were present. The son, Carlyle tells us, "was open
and communicative, and pleased the company better than his father; and some
of us observed indications of that decided difference of opinion between
father and son which in the American War alienated them altogether." The
favorable impression made by William Franklin on this company at this
period of his life, he also made on William Strahan, of whom we shall have
much more to say. "Your son," Strahan wrote to Franklin's wife, "I really
think one of the prettiest young gentlemen I ever knew from America."
Indeed, even in extreme old age the handsome presence, courtly manners and
quick intelligence of William Franklin won their way at any social
gathering. Speaking of an occasion on which he had met him, Crabbe Robinson
says in his _Diary_, "Old General Franklin, son of the celebrated Benjamin
was of the party. He is eighty-four years of age, has a courtier-like mien,
and must have been a very fine man. He is now very animated and
interesting, but does not at all answer to the idea one would naturally
form of the son of the great Franklin."[3] A few days after the departure
of Franklin from England in August, 1762, the son was married to Miss
Elizabeth Downes, of St. James Street, "a very agreeable West India lady,"
if her father-in-law may be believed. Before the marriage took place, he
had been appointed, in the thirty-second year of his age, Governor of New
Jersey. If the appointment was made, as has been supposed, to detach
Franklin from the Colonial cause, it failed, of course, to produce any such
result, but it did have the effect of completely bringing over William
Franklin to the Loyalist side, when the storm finally broke, and Franklin
pledged his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to the patriot cause. As
the Revolution drew on, William Franklin became a partisan of the British
Government, and, when he still held fast to his own office, in spite of the
dismissal of his father from his office as Deputy Postmaster-General for
the Colonies, Franklin wrote to him bluntly: "But you, who are a thorough
Courtier, see everything with Government Eyes." The son even disregarded
what was practically a request from the father that he should give up an
office, which was becoming more and more complicated with the arbitrary
measures of the English Ministry, and had been year after year a drain upon
the purse of the father. Then followed his ignominious arrest as a Tory by
the New Jersey Assembly, his defiant vaunt "_Pro Rege_ and Patria was the
motto I assumed, when I first commenced my political life, and I am
resolved to retain it till death shall put an end to my mortal existence,"
his breach with his father, his rancorous activity as the President of the
Board of Associated Loyalists, which drew down on him the suspicion of
having abetted at least one murderous outrage, and his subsequent
abandonment of America for England, where he died long after the war, a
pensioner of the British Crown. With the breach between father and son,
ended forever the visits that the members of the Franklin family in
Philadelphia had been in the habit of paying from time to time to the
Colonial Governor, the personal intercourse between the two, which, upon
the part of the father, we are told by William Strahan, was at once that of
a friend, a brother and an intimate and easy companion, and such filial
letters as the one, for example, in which William Franklin wrote to
Franklin that he was extremely obliged to him for his care in supplying him
with money, and should ever have a grateful sense of that with the other
numberless indulgences that he had received from his parental affection.
After the restoration of peace between the two waning countries, overtures
of reconciliation were made by William Franklin. "I ... am glad," his
father wrote, "to find that you desire to revive the affectionate
Intercourse, that formerly existed between us. It will be very agreeable to
me; indeed nothing has ever hurt me so much and affected me with such keen
Sensations, as to find myself deserted in my old Age by my only Son; and
not only deserted, but to find him taking up Arms against me, in a Cause,
wherein my good Fame, Fortune and Life were all at Stake." Then with an
uncertain touch of the native sense of justice, which was so deeply seated
in his breast, he continued: "I ought not to blame you for differing in
Sentiment with me in Public Affairs. We are Men, all subject to Errors. Our
Opinions are not in our own Power; they are form'd and govern'd much by
Circumstances, that are often as inexplicable as they are irresistible.
Your Situation was such that few would have censured your remaining Neuter,
_tho' there are Natural Duties which precede political ones, and cannot be
extinguish'd by them_." Responding to a statement in this same letter that
the writer would be glad to see him when convenient, but would not have
him come to Paris at that time, William Franklin had a brief interview with
his father at Southampton, when the latter was returning, after the
restoration of peace between Great Britain and the United States, full of
gratified patriotism, as well as of years and infirmities, to the land from
which the son was an outcast. That immedicable wound, however, was not to
be healed by one or even by many interviews, and, while Franklin did
subsequently devise his lands in Nova Scotia to William Franklin and
release him from certain debts, he could not refrain from a bitter fling in
doing so. "The part he acted against me in the late war, which is of public
notoriety," the will ran, "will account for my leaving him no more of an
estate he endeavoured to deprive me of."

Again that remorseless moral system, in comparison with which the flimsy
moral system of the _Autobiography_ is, to use Bismarck's figure, but a
lath painted to look like iron, had reminded one, who had had the temerity
to violate its ordinances, that what is now as luscious as locusts may
shortly be as bitter as coloquintida.

Surely there are few things in history more pathetic than that the
relationship, for which the father had set aside the world and the world's
law, and to which the incalculable workings of human love had almost
communicated the genuineness and dignity of moral legitimacy, should have
been the one thing to turn to ashes upon the lips of a life blessed with
prosperity and happiness almost beyond the measure of any that the past has
brought home to us![4]

It has been suggested that Franklin had another natural child in the wife
of John Foxcroft. In a letter to the former, Foxcroft acquaints him that
"his daughter" had been safely brought to bed, and had presented the writer
with a sweet little girl, and in several letters to Foxcroft Franklin
speaks of Mrs. Foxcroft as "my daughter." "God send my Daughter a good
time, and you a Good Boy," are the words of one of them. The suggestion has
been rejected by Albert Henry Smyth, the accomplished editor of Franklin's
writings, on chronological grounds which, it seems to us, are by no means
conclusive. The term, "daughter," however, standing alone, would certainly,
under any circumstances, be largely deprived of its significance by the
fact that Franklin, in his intercourse with other women than Mrs. Foxcroft,
seems in the course of his life to have been addressed, in both English and
French, by every paternal appellation from Pappy to _Très cher Papa_ known
to the language of endearment.[5] Moreover, so singularly free from
self-consciousness was he in relation to his own sexual vagaries, so urgent
were his affectionate impulses, that it is hard to believe that he could
have been the father of such an illegitimate daughter when there is no
evidence to show that, aside from a little concession to the jealousy of
Mrs. Franklin, he treated her exactly as he did his acknowledged daughter,

The unsophisticated relations of Franklin to William Franklin were also his
relations to William Temple Franklin, who was born in England, when his
father was in that country with Franklin during the latter's first mission
abroad. The mother of his father is unknown, and so is his own. Silence was
one of the virtues enjoined on Franklin by his little book, and was an
innate attribute of his strong character besides. The case was certainly
one, in which, if he had been reproached by his father, William Franklin
could have found an extenuating example very near at hand, even if not very
readily available for the purposes of recrimination. But there is nothing
to lead us to believe that Franklin was more concerned about the second bar
sinister in his coat of arms than the first. On the contrary, his affection
appropriated his little grandson with a promptitude which reminds us of the
story told in one of his letters to his wife about the boy who asked
another boy, when the latter was crying over a pennyworth of spilt vinegar,
for fear that his mother would whip him, "Have you then got ne'er a
Grandmother?" Almost, if not, from the very beginning, Franklin, and not
William, was Temple's real father, and, after William became estranged from
Franklin, the grandson thenceforth occupied the place in the heart of the
latter which the son had previously occupied, or one, if anything, even
warmer. When William was appointed Governor of New Jersey, and sailed away
with his bride to his province, Temple, then about two years old, was left
in London. As he grew older, he was placed by his grandfather, after the
return of the grandfather to England in 1764, in a school near London from
which he often came to visit the latter at Mrs. Stevenson's house at No. 7
Craven Street. After one of these visits, Franklin writes to William,
"Temple has been at home with us during the Christmas Vacation from School.
He improves continually, and more and more engages the Regard of all that
are acquainted with him, by his pleasing, sensible, manly Behaviour." On
another occasion, in settling an account with William Franklin he says
proudly, after referring to outlays required by the maintenance and
education of Temple, "But that his Friends will not grudge when they see
him." For a time, Temple was an inmate of the Craven Street House. When
Franklin returned to Philadelphia in 1775, he took him with him, and turned
him over to William Franklin, whose family name the youth, until then known
as William Temple, assumed for the future. Temple, however, after spending
some happy months in New Jersey, was soon again with his grandfather at
Philadelphia for the purpose of attending the College of Philadelphia, and
here he was when Franklin was on the point of setting out on his mission to
France. When he did sail, Temple, then sixteen or seventeen years of age,
and Benjamin Franklin Bache, the oldest son of Franklin's daughter, Sally,
a boy of seven, accompanied him; it being the purpose of Franklin to place
Temple at some foreign university, with the design of ultimately making a
lawyer of him, and Benjamin at some school in Paris.[6] Governor Franklin,
who was a prisoner in Connecticut, did not hear of the departure of his
father until several weeks after the three had sailed. "If," he wrote to
his wife, "the old gentleman has taken the boy with him, I hope it is only
to put him into some foreign university."

Abroad, the idea of giving Temple a legal education was first deferred, and
then finally dismissed. His grandfather, with an infinite amount to do, and
with no clerical help provided by Congress to assist him in doing it, was
constrained to employ him as his private secretary, without any aid except
that of a French clerk, who was paid a salary of fifty louis per annum.
Engaging in person, endowed to some degree with the vivacity of his
grandfather and father, speaking French much better than his grandfather,
possessed of fair abilities and attentive to his duties, he appears to have
filled the post of secretary creditably, though Congress, for one reason or
another, could never be induced to recognize his appointment officially.
Later on, when John Adams, John Jay, Henry Laurens and Franklin were
appointed with Jefferson, who declined to serve, Commissioners to negotiate
peace with Great Britain, he became their Secretary at an annual salary of
one thousand pounds, but the vain, pathetic efforts of the grandfather,
both before and after his return to America from France, when too much time
had been lost for Temple to resume the thought of taking up the study of
law, to obtain some secondary diplomatic, or other, position in the public
service for the grandson, make up one of the despicable chapters in the
history of Congress. Remarkable as it now seems, at one time there was even
an effort on foot in America to oust Temple from his position as the
private secretary of Franklin. It called forth a remonstrance in a letter
from the latter to Richard Bache, his son-in-law, which is not only deeply
interesting because of its stirring, measured force of expression, but also
because of the tenderness for Temple which it manifests.

     I am surprised to hear [he said] that my grandson,
     Temple Franklin, being with me, should be an objection
     against me, and that there is a cabal for removing him.
     Methinks it is rather some merit, that I have rescued a
     valuable young man from the danger of being a Tory, and
     fixed him in honest republican Whig principles; as I
     think, from the integrity of his disposition, his
     industry, his early sagacity, and uncommon abilities
     for business, he may in time become of great service to
     his country. It is enough that I have lost my _son_;
     would they add my _grandson_? An old man of seventy, I
     undertook a winter voyage at the command of the
     Congress, and for the public service, with no other
     attendant to take care of me. I am continued here in a
     foreign country, where, if I am sick, his filial
     attention comforts me, and, if I die, I have a child to
     close my eyes and take care of my remains. His dutiful
     behaviour towards me, and his diligence and fidelity in
     business, are both pleasing and useful to me.

The same indulgent estimate of Temple's capacity is also indicated in a
letter to Samuel Huntington in which Franklin requested Congress to take
his grandson under his protection. After stating that Temple seemed to be
qualified for public foreign affairs "by a sagacity and judgment above his
years, and great diligence and activity, exact probity, a genteel address,
a facility in speaking well the French tongue, and all the knowledge of
business to be obtained by a four years' constant employment in the
secretary's office," he added: "After all the allowance I am capable of
making for the partiality of a parent to his offspring, I cannot but think
he may in time make a very able foreign minister for Congress, in whose
service his fidelity may be relied on."

A thing most earnestly desired by Franklin was the marriage of Temple to a
daughter of Madame Brillon, who sometimes referred to Temple as "M.
Franklinet." So ardent was the chase upon his part that he even assured the
mother that he was ready to spend the rest of his life in France if the
only obstacle to the union was the fear that Temple would return to America
with him. Mademoiselle Brillon does not seem to have been inclined to let
Temple despair but her parents were unwilling to give their consent. Madame
Brillon declared that it would have been sweet to her heart and most
agreeable to M. Brillon to have been able to form a union which would have
made but one family of the Brillons and the Franklins, and that they liked
Temple, and believed that he had everything requisite to make a man
distinguished, and to render a woman happy, but they must have, she said, a
son-in-law who would be in a situation to succeed her husband in his
office, and who was also a man of their religion. This was in reply to a
letter from Franklin in which he proposed the match, and had said of
Temple, "He is still young, and perhaps the partiality of a father has made
me think too highly of him, but it seems to me that he has the stuff in him
to make in time a distinguished man." After reading the letters from
Franklin about his grandson, we can readily believe that Lafayette did not
exaggerate when he wrote to Washington that Franklin loved his grandchild
better than anything else in the world. Even when Temple was some
twenty-four years of age, Franklin in one of his letters addresses him as
"My Dear Child" and signs himself, "Your loving Grandfather." While the two
remained in France, the old man improved every opportunity to advance the
fortunes of the younger one, matrimonial or otherwise. When his legs grew
too gouty to enable him to keep pace in mounting the stairways at
Versailles with the other foreign ministers, it was by Temple that he was
represented at Court _levées_. By him Temple was also introduced to
Voltaire, and enjoyed the unusual honor of having that great man with an
expressive gesture say to him: "My child, God and Liberty! Recollect those
two words." To Temple, too, was delegated by our envoys the office of
handing to Vergennes the memorial proposing an alliance between France,
Spain and the United States, and it was he who actually delivered to
Lafayette, on behalf of his grandfather, the handsome sword with which
Congress had honored the former. When the olive branch extended by William
Franklin to Franklin was accepted by him, Temple was sent over by him to
William in England for a season as the best peace-offering in the gift of
the sender. "I send your Son over to pay his Duty to you," he wrote to
William. "You will find him much improv'd. He is greatly esteem'd and
belov'd in this Country, and will make his Way anywhere." A letter written
to Temple, during his absence on this occasion, by his grandfather, in
which his grandfather pathetically complains of his silence, is another
minor proof of the devotion felt by Franklin for Temple. And there is every
reason to believe that the feeling was fully returned; for even the
prospect of being united to the daughter of Madame Brillon, with the full
sanction of his grandfather, was not sufficient to reconcile Temple to the
thought of being left behind in France by him. So far from being heeded by
Congress was the request of Franklin that some public office be conferred
upon Temple that the latter was even displaced in his secretaryship by
another person without a line of notice from Congress to his grandfather.
And when the two arrived in America, after they had lingered long enough at
Southampton for William Franklin to transfer to his son a farm of some six
hundred acres at Rancocas, in the State of New Jersey, purchased for Temple
by Franklin, Temple fared no better at the hands of the American Government
than in France. His efforts, first, to secure the Secretaryship of the
Federal Convention of 1787, and, afterwards, to obtain some appointment
under the administration of Washington, met with no success, despite all
that his grandfather could do for him. For a while he lived on his _Terre_,
as Franklin called it, at Rancocas, but, after the death of Franklin, who
did not forget him in his will, he became restless, and wandered back to
the Old World, where he delayed so long the publication of his
grandfather's writings, bequeathed to him by the latter, that he was
strongly but unjustly suspected for a time of having been bribed by the
British Government to suppress them. His slender literary qualifications
for giving the proper perspective to such a mass of material had simply
stood appalled at the magnitude of their task.


[1] The superlative eulogy of Franklin is that of Josiah Quincy, Junior,
who expressed his conviction in his journal that Franklin was one of the
wisest and best of men upon earth; one, of whom it might be said that this
world was not worthy. Of course, no man capable of creating such a
conviction as this was safe from "the wolf's black jaw and the dull ass'
hoof." Capefigue in his _Memoirs of Louis XVI._ called Franklin "one of the
great charlatans" of his age. This is the language of a man who finds a
phrase and thinks he has found a fact. Arthur Lee said on one occasion that
Franklin was "the meanest of all mean men, the most corrupt of all corrupt
men"; but this was merely the froth of a rabid mental condition. Stephen
Sayre wrote to Capellen that Franklin was a "great villain," but Sayre had
unsuccessfully solicited office from Franklin. Besides, this extraordinary
character seems to have nearly, if not quite, answered Franklin's
description of a man who has neither good sense enough to be an honest man
nor wit enough for a rogue. The only one of Franklin's slanderers whose
arrow hit anywhere near the mark was an anonymous French poet who termed
him "Caméléon Octogénaire."

[2] Franklin was as fearless in applying his ethical principles to himself
as to others. After telling his sister Jane in a letter, dated Dec. 30,
1770, that he trusted that no apprehension of removal from his office as
Postmaster would make the least alteration in his political conduct, he
uses these striking words: "My rule, in which I have always found
satisfaction, is, never to turn aside in public affairs through views of
private interest; but to go straight forward in doing what appears to me
right at the time, leaving the consequences with Providence. What in my
younger days enabled me more easily to walk upright, was, that I had a
trade, and that I knew I could live upon little; and thence (never having
had views of making a fortune) I was free from avarice, and contented with
the plentiful supplies my business afforded me. And now it is still more
easy for me to preserve my freedom and integrity, when I consider that I am
almost at the end of my journey, and therefore need less to complete the
expense of it; and that what I now possess, through the blessing of God,
may, with tolerable economy, be sufficient for me (great misfortunes
excepted), though I should add nothing more to it by any office or
employment whatsoever."

[3] In a paper on William Franklin, read before the New Jersey Historical
Society on Sept. 27, 1848, William A. Whitehead sketches him in this
manner: "He was of a cheerful, facetious disposition; could narrate well
entertaining stories to please his friends; was engaging in his manners,
and possessed good conversational powers. He lived in the recollection of
those who saw him in New Jersey as a man of strong passions, fond of
convivial pleasures, well versed in the ways of the world, and, at one
period of his life not a stranger to the gallantries which so frequently
marred the character of the man of that age. He was above the common size,
remarkably handsome, strong and athletic, though subject to gout towards
the close of his life." His writings, Whitehead thought, though perhaps
less remarkable than might be expected from his advantages of education and
association, gave evidence of literary attainments which compared favorably
with those of most of the prominent men of that day in the Colonies. If
_The Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania
from its Origin_ is one of them, as has been supposed, we can only say that
it at least hardly deserves such praise. The unassimilated material
scattered through its pages reminds us of nothing so much as feather
pellets and fragments of bone that have passed unchanged through the
gastric tract of a hawk.

[4] The judgment of Franklin himself as to how far his life had been a
fortunate one was freely expressed in a letter to his friend John Sargent,
dated Jan. 27, 1783. "Mrs. Sargent and the good Lady, her Mother," he said,
"are very kind in wishing me more happy Years. I ought to be satisfy'd with
those Providence has already been pleas'd to afford me, being now in my
seventy-eighth; a long Life to pass without any uncommon Misfortune, the
greater part of it in Health and Vigor of Mind and Body, near Fifty Years
of it in continu'd Possession of the Confidence of my Country, in public
Employments, and enjoying the Esteem and affectionate, friendly Regard of
many wise and good Men and Women, in every Country where I have resided.
For these Mercies and Blessings I desire to be thankful to God, whose
Protection I have hitherto had, and I hope for its Continuance to the End,
which now cannot be far distant."

[5] For instance, in a letter to Elizabeth Partridge Franklin signs himself
"Your affectionate Papah," and in a letter to Madam Conway, "Your
affectionate Father (as you do me the Honor to call me)," and in a letter
to Miss Flainville, "Your loving Papa."

[6] In a letter from Paris to Jan Ingenhousz, dated Apr. 26, 1777, Franklin
told Ingenhousz that he had brought Temple with him from America "partly to
finish his Education, having a great Affection for him, and partly to have
his Assistance as a Secretary."


Franklin's Religious Beliefs

Closely akin to Franklin's system of morals were his views about Religion.
Scattered through his writings are sentences full of gratitude to God for
His favor in lifting him up from such a low to such a high estate, in
bringing him substantially unscathed through the graver dangers and baser
temptations of human life, and in affording him the assurance that the
divine goodness, of which he had received such signal proofs in his career,
would not cease with his death. In the _Autobiography_, after alluding in
modest terms to the poverty and obscurity, in which he was born and bred,
and the affluence and reputation subsequently won by him, he says:

     And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with all
     humility to acknowledge that I owe the mentioned
     happiness of my past life to His kind providence, which
     lead me to the means I used and gave them success. My
     belief of this induces me to hope, though I must not
     _presume_, that the same goodness will still be
     exercised toward me, in continuing that happiness, or
     enabling me to bear a fatal reverse, which I may
     experience as others have done; the complexion of my
     future fortune being known to Him only in whose power
     it is to bless to us even our afflictions.

These words, though they occur in the work which Franklin tells us was
written when he was not dressed for a ball, he well knew would be read by
other eyes than those of the son for whom they were primarily intended; but
one of his familiar letters to his wife, written some years before the
_Autobiography_ was begun, contains expressions equally devout; associated
on this occasion, however, with the aspirations for the welfare of his
fellow creatures which constituted the real religion of his life.

     God is very good to us both in many Respects [he
     wrote]. Let us enjoy his Favours with a thankful &
     chearful Heart; and, as we can make no direct Return to
     him, show our Sense of his Goodness to us, by
     continuing to do Good to our Fellow Creatures, without
     Regarding the Returns they make us, whether Good or
     Bad. For they are all his Children, tho' they may
     sometimes be our Enemies. The Friendships of this World
     are changeable, uncertain, transitory Things; but his
     Favour, if we can secure it, is an Inheritance forever.

With respect to the successful issue, to which a manifest Providence had,
after so many vicissitudes and perils, conducted the American Revolution,
he wrote to Josiah Quincy in words as solemn as a _Te Deum_:

     Considering all our Mistakes and Mismanagements, it is
     wonderful we have finished our Affair so well, and so
     soon. Indeed, I am wrong in using that Expression, "_We
     have finished our Affair so well_". Our Blunders have
     been many, and they serve to manifest the Hand of
     Providence more clearly in our Favour; so that we may
     much more properly say, _These are Thy Doings, O Lord,
     and they are marvellous in our Eyes_.

Franklin might well have seen the hand of Providence in the momentous
result for which he had dared so much and labored so long, and which meant
so much to human history, but its shaping power over the destiny of even
such a Murad the Unlucky as his hapless nephew, Benny Mecom, is recognized
by him in a letter to his beloved sister, Jane Mecom, and her husband when
Benny had gone off to seek his fortune as a printer in Antigua. "After
all," he concludes, "having taken care to do _what appears to be for the
best_, we must submit to God's providence, which orders all things really
for the best." On another occasion, in an ingenious paper on Water Spouts,
the sage philosopher, seeing in the benign manner in which the waters of
the ocean rid themselves of salt, in the process of evaporation, the same
God that the poor Indian sees in the clouds or hears in the wind,
impressively exclaims: "He who hath proportioned and given proper Qualities
to all Things, was not unmindful of this. Let us adore Him with Praise and
Thanksgiving." There are certain human feelings which rise in moments of
uncommon stress or fervor from the profoundest depths of our being to our
lips and take on the form and rhythm of sonorous religious utterance, if
for no better reason, because no other language is lofty or musical enough
to serve aptly the purposes of such supreme occasions; and this is true
even of an individuality so meagrely spiritual as that of Franklin.

Other expressions of the same character furnish a religious or
quasi-religious setting to Franklin's thoughts upon his own dissolution. To
his brave and cheerful spirit, which experienced so little difficulty in
accommodating its normal philosophy to all the fixed facts and laws of
existence, death was as natural as life--a thing not to be invited before
its time but to be accepted with unmurmuring serenity when it came. The
only certain things in this world, he said in his home-spun way, are death
and taxes.

     It is the will of God and nature [he wrote in his
     fifty-first year to Elizabeth Hubbard, after the death
     of his brother John] that these mortal bodies be laid
     aside, when the soul is to enter into real life. This
     is rather an embryo state, a preparation for living. A
     man is not completely born until he be dead. Why then
     should we grieve, that a new child is born among the
     immortals, a new member added to their happy society?

     We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while
     they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring
     knowledge, or in doing good to our fellow creatures, is
     a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become
     unfit for these purposes, and afford us pain instead of
     pleasure, instead of an aid become an incumbrance, and
     answer none of the intentions for which they were
     given, it is equally kind and benevolent, that a way is
     provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that
     way. We ourselves, in some cases, prudently choose a
     partial death. A mangled painful limb, which cannot be
     restored, we willingly cut off. He who plucks out a
     tooth, parts with it freely, since the pain goes with
     it; and he, who quits the whole body, parts at once
     with all pains and possibilities of pains and diseases
     which it was liable to, or capable of making him

     Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of
     pleasure, which is to last forever. His chair was ready
     first, and he is gone before us. We could not all
     conveniently start together; and why should you and I
     be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and
     know where to find him? Adieu.

It was a sane, bright conception of human destiny indeed which could
convert the grim ferryman of the Styx into little more than an obsequious
chairman, waiting at the portals of life until it suited the convenience of
his fare to issue from them.

     That Being [he wrote to George Whitefield] who gave me
     Existence, and thro' almost three-score Years has been
     continually showering his Favours upon me, whose very
     Chastisements have been Blessings to me; can I doubt
     that he loves me? And, if he loves me, can I doubt that
     he will go on to take care of me, not only here but
     hereafter? This to some may seem Presumption; to me it
     appears the best grounded Hope; Hope of the Future,
     built on Experience of the Past.

The same thought is repeated in a letter to William Strahan, followed,
however, by the dig which he rarely failed to give to his Tory friend,
"Straney," when he had the chance:

     God has been very good to you, from whence I think you
     may be _assured_ that he loves you, and that he will
     take at least as good care of your future Happiness as
     he has done of your present. What Assurance of the
     _Future_ can be better founded than that which is built
     on Experience of the _Past_? Thank me for giving you
     this Hint, by the Help of which you may die as
     chearfully as you live. If you had Christian Faith,
     _quantum suff._, this might not be necessary; but as
     matters are it may be of Use.

This hopeful outlook continued until the end. In a letter to his "dear old
friend," George Whatley, which was written about five years before the
writer's death, he adds a resource borrowed from his scientific knowledge
to the other resources of his tranquil optimism.

     You see [he said] I have some reason to wish, that, in
     a future State, I may not only be _as well as I was_,
     but a little better. And I hope it; for I, too, with
     your Poet, _trust in God_. And when I observe, that
     there is great Frugality, as well as Wisdom, in his
     Works, since he has been evidently sparing both of
     Labour and Materials; for by the various wonderful
     Inventions of Propagation, he has provided for the
     continual peopling his World with Plants and Animals,
     without being at the Trouble of repeated new Creations;
     and by the natural Reduction of compound Substances to
     their original Elements, capable of being employ'd in
     new Compositions, he has prevented the Necessity of
     creating new Matter; so that the Earth, Water, Air, and
     perhaps Fire, which being compounded form Wood, do,
     when the Wood is dissolved, return, and again become
     Air, Earth, Fire, and Water; I say that, when I see
     nothing annihilated, and not even a Drop of Water
     wasted, I cannot suspect the Annihilation of Souls, or
     believe, that he will suffer the daily Waste of
     Millions of Minds ready made that now exist, and put
     himself to the continual Trouble of making new ones.
     Thus finding myself to exist in the World, I believe I
     shall, in some Shape or other, always exist.

In a letter to M. Montaudouin in 1779, in reply to one from that friend
applying to him the prayer of Horace for Augustus, he remarked: "Tho' the
Form is heathen, there is good Christian Spirit in it, and I feel myself
very well disposed to be content with this World, which I have found
hitherto a tolerable good one, & to wait for Heaven (which will not be the
worse for keeping) as long as God pleases." But later on, when seven more
years of waning strength had passed, he wrote to his friend Jonathan
Shipley, the Bishop of St. Asaph's:

     I still have Enjoyment in the Company of my Friends;
     and, being easy in my Circumstances, have many Reasons
     to like living. But the Course of Nature must soon put
     a period to my present Mode of Existence. This I shall
     submit to with less Regret, as, having seen during a
     long Life a good deal of this World, I feel a growing
     Curiosity to be acquainted with some other; and can
     chearfully, with filial Confidence, resign my Spirit to
     the conduct of that great and good Parent of Mankind,
     who created it, and who has so graciously protected and
     prospered me from my Birth to the present Hour.

At times, his unfailing humor or graceful fancy even plays lambently over
the same stern prospect. In a letter to Mrs. Hewson, written four years
before his death, he mentions cards among his amusements, and then adds:

     I have indeed now and then a little compunction in
     reflecting that I spend time so idly; but another
     reflection comes to relieve me, whispering, "_You know
     that the soul is immortal; why then should you be such
     a niggard of a little time, when you have a whole
     eternity before you?_" So, being easily convinced, and,
     like other reasonable creatures, satisfied with a small
     reason, when it is in favour of doing what I have a
     mind to do, I shuffle the cards again and begin another

"We were long fellow labourers in the best of all works, the work of
Peace," he wrote to David Hartley, when the writer was on the point of
returning to America from France. "I leave you still in the field, but
having finished my day's task, I am going home _to go to bed_! Wish me a
good night's rest, as I do you a pleasant evening." This was but another
way of expressing the thought of an earlier letter of his to George
Whatley, "I look upon Death to be as necessary to our Constitution as
Sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the Morning."

     Your letter [he said to another friend, Thomas Jordan]
     reminds me of many happy days we have passed together,
     and the dear friends with whom we passed them; some of
     whom, alas! have left us, and we must regret their
     loss, although our Hawkesworth (the compiler of the
     South Sea discoveries of Capt. Cook) is become an
     _Adventurer_ in more happy regions; and our Stanley
     (the eminent musician and composer) gone, "where only
     his own _harmony_ can be exceeded."

Many of these letters, so full of peace and unflinching courage, it should
be recollected, were written during hours of physical debility or grievous

Every sheet of water takes the hue of the sky above it, and intermixed with
these observations of Franklin, which were themselves, to say the least,
fully as much the natural fruit of a remarkably equable and sanguine
temperament as of religious confidence, are other observations of his upon
religious subjects which were deeply colored by his practical genius,
tolerant disposition and shrewd insight into the imperfections of human
institutions and the shortcomings of human character. With the purely
theological and sectarian side of Religion he had no sympathy whatever. It
was a source of regret to him that, at a time in his boyhood, when he was
consuming books as insatiably as the human lungs consume oxygen, he should
have read most of the treatises "in polemic divinity," of which his
father's little library chiefly consisted. In a letter to Strahan, when he
was in his thirty-ninth year, he said that he had long wanted a judicious
friend in London to send him from time to time such new pamphlets as were
worth reading on any subject, "religious controversy excepted." To Richard
Price he imparted his belief that religious tests were invented not so much
to secure Religion itself as its emoluments, and that, if Christian
preachers had continued to teach as Christ and His Apostles did, without
salaries, and as the Quakers did even in his day, such tests would never
have existed. "When a Religion is good," he asserted, "I conceive that it
will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not
take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig'd to call for the
help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad
one." A favorite saying of his was the saying of Richard Steele that the
difference between the Church of Rome and the Church of England is that the
one pretends to be infallible and the other to be never in the wrong.
"Orthodoxy is my doxy and Heterodoxy your doxy," is a saying which has been
attributed to him as his own. His heart went out at once to the Dunkers,
when Michael Welfare, one of the founders of that sect, gave, as his reason
for its unwillingness to publish the articles of its belief, the fact that
it was not satisfied that this belief would not undergo some future changes
for the better with further light from Heaven.

     This modesty in a sect [he remarks in the
     _Autobiography_] is perhaps a singular instance in the
     history of mankind, every other sect supposing itself
     in possession of all truth, and that those who differ
     are so far in the wrong; like a man traveling in foggy
     weather, those at some distance before him on the road
     he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind
     him, and also the people in the fields on each side,
     but near him all appears clear, tho' in truth he is as
     much in the fog as any of them.

The great meeting-house built at Philadelphia, when George Whitefield had
worked its people into a state of religious ecstasy by his evangelistic
appeals, and the circumstances, under which Franklin was elected to fill a
vacancy among the Trustees, appointed to hold this building, were two
things of which he speaks with obvious pleasure in the _Autobiography_. The
design in erecting the edifice, he declares, was not to accommodate any
particular sect but the inhabitants of Philadelphia in general, "so that
even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach
Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service." The Trustees
to hold this building were each the member of some Protestant sect. In
process of time, the Moravian died, and then there was opposition to the
election of any other Moravian as his successor. "The difficulty then was,"
Franklin tells us, "how to avoid having two of some other sect, by means of
the new choice.

"Several persons were named, and for that reason not agreed to. At length
one mention'd me, with the observation that I was merely an honest man, and
of no sect at all, which prevail'd with them to chuse me."

The manner in which Franklin came to occupy this position of sectarian
detachment is also set forth in the _Autobiography_. On his father's side,
he was descended from sturdy pietists, to whom the difference between one
sect and another did not mean merely polemical warmth, as in Franklin's
time, but the heat of the stake. In the reign of Bloody Mary, Franklin's
great-great-grandfather kept his English Bible open and suspended by tapes,
under the concealing cover of a joint-stool, and, when he inverted the
stool to read from the pages of the book to his family, one of his children
stood at the door to give timely warning of the approach of the dreaded
apparitor. In the reign of Charles the Second, the religious scruples of
Franklin's father and his Uncle Benjamin, before they crossed the sea to
Boston, had been strong enough to induce them to desert the soft lap of the
Church of England for the harried conventicles of the despised and
persecuted Non-Conformists. To the earlier Franklins Religion meant either
all or much that it meant to men in the ages when not Calculating Skill,
but, as Emerson tells us, Love and Terror laid the tiles of cathedrals. But
Benjamin Franklin was not a scion of the sixteenth century, nor even of the
seventeenth, but of the searching and skeptical eighteenth. Some of the
dogmas of the creed, in which he was religiously educated by his father,
such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation and the like
appeared to him unintelligible, others doubtful, he declares in the
_Autobiography_. The consequence was that he early absented himself from
the public assemblies of the Presbyterian sect in Philadelphia, Sunday
being his "studying day," though he never was, he says, without some
religious principles.

     I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the
     Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his
     Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was
     the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and
     that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded,
     either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the
     essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in
     all the religions we had in our country, I respected
     them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I
     found them more or less mix'd with other articles,
     which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or
     confirm morality, serv'd principally to divide us, and
     make us unfriendly to one another.

And then he goes on to inform us that, as Pennsylvania increased in people,
and new places of worship were continually wanted, and were generally
erected by voluntary contributions, his mite for such purposes, whatever
might be the sect, was never refused. This impartial attitude towards the
different religious sects he maintained in every particular throughout his
life, and from his point of view he had no reason to be dissatisfied with
the result, if we may believe John Adams, who tells us: "The Catholics
thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England claimed him as one of
them. The Presbyterians thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends
believed him a wet Quaker." "Mr. Franklin had no--" was as far as Adams
himself got in stating his own personal opinion about Franklin's religious
views. To have been regarded as an adherent of every sect was a compliment
that Franklin would have esteemed as second only to the declaration that he
was merely an honest man and of no sect at all. It is certainly one of the
most amusing facts narrated in the _Autobiography_ that such a man, only a
few years after religious bigotry had compelled him to fly from New
England, the land for which Poor Richard, on one occasion, safely predicted
a year of "_dry_ Fish and _dry_ Doctrine," should have been invited by
Keimer, the knavish eccentric of the _Autobiography_, to become "his
colleague in a project he had of setting up a new sect."

George Whitefield appears to have come nearer than anyone else to the honor
of reducing Franklin to a definite religious status. For this celebrated
man he seems to have felt an even warmer regard than that which he usually
entertained for every clergyman who was a faithful exponent of sound
morals. He begins one of his letters to his brother, John Franklin, with a
reference to Whitefield, and then he laconically adds: "He is a good Man
and I love him." In the _Autobiography_ he certifies that, in his opinion,
Whitefield was in all his conduct "a perfectly _honest man_." But even
Whitefield's call to the unconverted, which awakened the conscience of
Philadelphia to such a degree "that one could not walk thro' the town in an
evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street,"
failed to bring Franklin within the great preacher's fold. "He us'd,
indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction
of believing that his prayers were heard. Ours was a mere civil friendship,
sincere on both sides, and lasted to his death." These are the statements
of the _Autobiography_. And a mere civil friendship Franklin was inflexibly
determined to keep it; for we learn from the same source that, when
Whitefield answered an invitation to Franklin's house by saying that, if
Franklin made that kind offer for Christ's sake, he would not miss of a
reward, the reply promptly came back: "_Don't let me be mistaken; it was
not for Christ's sake, but for your sake._" "One of our common
acquaintance," says Franklin, "jocosely remark'd, that, knowing it to be
the custom of the saints, when they received any favour, to shift the
burden of the obligation from off their own shoulders, and place it in
heaven, I had contriv'd to fix it on earth." It may truly be said, however,
that nothing is recorded of the persuasive eloquence of Whitefield more
amazing than the fact that it once swept Franklin for a moment off the feet
on which he stood so firmly. He had made up his mind not to contribute to
one of Whitefield's charitable projects which did not meet with his
approval--but let Æsop tell the story in his own characteristic way:

     I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in
     the course of which I perceived he intended to finish
     with a collection, and I silently resolved he should
     get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of
     copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five
     pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften,
     and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of
     his oratory made me asham'd of that, and determin'd me
     to give the silver; and he finish'd so admirably, that
     I empty'd my pocket wholly into the collector's dish,
     gold and all.

But Franklin was not long in recovering his equipoise and in again
wondering why Whitefield's auditors should so admire and respect him
notwithstanding "his common abuse of them, by assuring them they were
naturally _half beasts and half devils_." Whitefield, he thought, made a
great mistake in publishing his sermons; for _litera scripta manet_ and
affords a full opportunity for criticism and censure. If the sermons had
not been published, Whitefield's proselytes would have been left, Franklin
believed, to feign for him as great a variety of excellences as their
enthusiastic admiration might wish him to have possessed. A Deist, if
anything, Franklin was when Whitefield first came to Philadelphia, and a
Deist, if anything, he was when Whitefield left it for the last time. When
the latter wrote in his _Journal, "M. B. was a deist, I had almost said an
atheist_," Franklin, indisposed to be deprived of all religious standing,
dryly commented: "That is _chalk_, I had almost said _charcoal_." A man, he
tells us in the _Autobiography_, is sometimes more generous when he has but
a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps through fear of being
thought to have but little, and it is possible that religious faith may
sometimes be influenced by the same kind of sensitiveness. The truth of the
matter was that as respects theological tenets and sectarian distinctions
Franklin was an incurable heretic, if such a term is appropriate to the
listless indifference to all dogmas and sects rarely broken except by some
merry jest or gentle parable, like his Parable against Persecution or his
Parable of Brotherly Love, with which he regarded every sour fermentation
of the _odium theologicum_. When he heard that a New Englander, John
Thayer, had become a Catholic, the worst that he could find it in his heart
to say was: "Our ancestors from Catholic became first Church-of-England
men, and then refined into Presbyterians. To change now from
Presbyterianism to Popery seems to me refining backwards, from white sugar
to brown." In commenting in a letter to Elizabeth Partridge, formerly
Hubbard, a year or so before his own death on the death of a friend of
theirs, he uses these words:

     You tell me our poor Friend Ben Kent is gone; I hope to
     the Regions of the Blessed, or at least to some Place
     where Souls are prepared for those Regions. I found my
     Hope on this, that tho' not so orthodox as you and I,
     he was an honest Man, and had his Virtues. If he had
     any Hypocrisy it was of that inverted kind, with which
     a Man is not so bad as he seems to be. And with regard
     to future Bliss I cannot help imagining, that
     Multitudes of the zealously Orthodox of different
     Sects, who at the last Day may flock together, in hopes
     of seeing (mutilated) damn'd, will be disappointed, and
     oblig'd to rest content with their own Salvation.

Franklin's Kingdom of Heaven was one into which there was such an abundant
entrance that even his poor friend, Ben Kent, could hope to arrive there
thoroughly disinfected after a brief quarantine on the road.[7] But it is
in his _Conte_ that the spirit of religious charity, by which this letter
is animated, is given the sparkling, graceful form with which his fancy
readily clothed its creations when form and finish were what the
workmanship of the occasion required. Montrésor who is very sick, tells his
curé that he has had a vision during the night which has set his mind
entirely at rest as to his future. "What was your vision?" said the good
priest. "I was," replied Montrésor, "at the gate of Paradise, with a crowd
of people who wished to enter. And St. Peter asked each one what his
religion was. One answered, 'I am a Roman Catholic.' 'Ah, well,' said St.
Peter, 'enter, and take your place there among the Catholics.' Another
said, that he belonged to the Anglican Church. 'Ah, well,' said St. Peter,
'enter and take your place there among the Anglicans.' Another said that he
was a Quaker. 'Enter,' said St. Peter, 'and take your place among the
Quakers.' Finally, my turn being come, he asked me what my religion was.
'Alas!' replied I, 'unfortunately poor Jacques Montrésor has none.' 'That
is a pity,' said the Saint, 'I do not know where to place you; but enter
all the same; and place yourself where you can.'"

Perhaps, however, in none of Franklin's writings is his mental attitude
towards religious sects and their varied creeds and organizations disclosed
with such bland _insouciance_ and delicate raillery as in his letter to
Mason Weems and Edward Gantt. Weems was the famous parson Weems whose
legendary story of the cherry tree and the hatchet made for many years such
a sublime _enfant terrible_ of Washington, and Gantt was a native of
Maryland who was destined in the course of time to become a chaplain of the
United States Senate. In this letter, after acknowledging a letter from
Weems and Gantt telling him that the Archbishop of Canterbury would not
permit them to be ordained, unless they took the oath of allegiance, he
says that he had obtained an opinion from a clergyman of his acquaintance
in Paris that they could not be ordained there, or that, if they were, they
would be required to vow obedience to the Archbishop of Paris. He next
inquired of the Pope's Nuncio whether they might not be ordained by the
Catholic Bishop in America, but received the answer that the thing was
impossible unless the gentlemen became Catholics. Then, after a deprecatory
statement that the affair was one of which he knew very little, and that he
might therefore ask questions or propose means that were improper or
impracticable, he pointedly adds: "But what is the necessity of your being
connected with the Church of England? Would it not be as well, if you were
of the Church of Ireland?" The religion was the same, though there was a
different set of Bishops and Archbishops and perhaps the Bishop of Derry,
who was a man of liberal sentiments, might give them orders as of the Irish
Church. If both Britain and Ireland refused them (and he was not sure that
the Bishops of Denmark or Sweden would ordain them unless they became
Lutherans), then, in his humble opinion, next to becoming Presbyterians,
the Episcopal Clergy of America could not do better than follow the example
of the first Clergy of Scotland, who, when a similar difficulty arose,
assembled in the Cathedral, and the Mitre, Crosier and Robes of a Bishop
being laid upon the Altar, after earnest prayers for direction in their
choice, elected one of their own number; when the King said to him:
"_Arise, go to the Altar, and receive your Office at the Hand of God._" If
the British Isles were sunk in the sea, he continued (and the surface of
the Globe had suffered greater changes), his correspondents would probably
take some such method as this, and persistence in the denial of ordination
to them by the English Church came to the same thing. A hundred years
later, when people were more enlightened, it would be wondered at that men
in America, qualified by their learning and piety to pray for, and
instruct, their neighbors, should not be permitted to do it until they had
made a voyage of six thousand miles out and home to ask leave of a cross
old gentleman at Canterbury who seemed, by the account of his
correspondents, to have as little regard for the souls of the People of
Maryland as King William's Attorney-General Seymour had for those of the
People of Virginia, when, in reply to the reminder of the Reverend
Commissary Blair of William and Mary College that the latter had souls to
be saved as well as the People of England, he exclaimed: "_Souls!_ damn
your Souls. Make Tobacco."

Here we have Franklin absolutely _in puris naturalibus_ as respects the
sacerdotal side of Religion, lavishing upon his correspondents in a single
letter a series of half-serious, half-mocking sentiments flavored with some
of his best intellectual qualities, and doubtless leaving them in a teasing
state of uncertainty as to whether he intended to ridicule them or not. In
the light of such a letter as this, the reader will hardly be surprised to
learn that he did not quit the world until he had put on record his high
opinion of heretics. After asking Benjamin Vaughan in one of his letters
about a year and a half before his death, to remember him affectionately to
the "honest" heretic, Doctor Priestley, he said:

     I do not call him _honest_ by way of distinction; for I
     think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous
     men. They have the virtue of fortitude, or they would
     not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford
     to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that
     would give advantage to their many enemies; and they
     have not, like orthodox sinners, such a number of
     friends to excuse or justify them.

Holding these views about heretics, it is natural that Franklin should at
times have stigmatized religious bigotry as it deserved. In his _Remarks on
a Late Protest_, when he was being assailed for one of the most creditable
acts of his life, his unsparing denunciation of the murder of hapless
Indians by the Paxton Boys, he had a fearless word to say about "those
religious Bigots, who are of all Savages the most brutish." And it would be
difficult to find a terser or more graphic picture of religious discord
than this in one of his letters to Jane Mecom:

     Each party abuses the other; the profane and the
     infidel believe both sides, and enjoy the fray; the
     reputation of religion in general suffers, and its
     enemies are ready to say, not what was said in the
     primitive times, Behold how these Christians love one
     another,--but, Mark how these Christians hate one
     another! Indeed, when religious people quarrel about
     religion or hungry people about their victuals, it
     looks as if they had not much of either among them.

Not only did Franklin have no sympathy with sects and their jarring
pretensions but he had little patience with either doctrinal theology or
ecclesiastical rites and forms of any sort. Even after he decided to keep
away from public worship on Sundays, he still retained [he said], a sense
of its utility, when rightly conducted, and continued to pay regularly his
annual subscription to the Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia which he had
attended. Later, he was induced by its pastor to sit now and then under his
ministrations; once he states, as if with a slight elevation of the
eyebrows, for five Sundays successively, but it all proved unedifying,
since not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforced; the aim of
the preacher seeming to be rather to make them good Presbyterians than good
citizens. At length the devout man took for his text the following verse
from the fourth chapter of the Philippians: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever
things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely or of good report, if there be
any virtue, or any praise, think on these things." Now, thought Franklin,
in a sermon on such a text we cannot miss of having some of the "morality"
which was to him the entire meat of religion. But the text, promising as it
was, had been subjected to such merciless dessication that it resolved
itself into five points only "as meant by the apostle, viz.: 1. Keeping
holy the Sabbath day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy Scriptures. 3.
Attending duly the publick worship. 4. Partaking of the Sacrament. 5.
Paying a due respect to God's ministers." Franklin was disgusted, gave this
preacher up entirely, and returned to the use of the _Articles of Belief
and Acts of Religion_ which he had previously composed for his own private
devotions. Subsequently, however, he was again enticed to church by the
arrival in Philadelphia from Ireland of a young Presbyterian minister,
named Hemphill, who preached good works rather than dogma in excellent
discourses, apparently extemporaneous, and set off with an attractive
voice. This minister was soon formally arraigned for heterodoxy by the old
orthodox clergy who were in the habit of paying more attention to
Presbyterian doctrine than Franklin was, and found a powerful champion in
Franklin, who, seeing that Hemphill, while an "elegant preacher," was, for
reasons that afterwards became only too patent, a poor writer, wrote
several pamphlets and an article in the _Pennsylvania Gazette_ in his
behalf. Unfortunately, when the war of words was at its height, Hemphill,
who afterwards confessed to Franklin that none of the sermons that he
preached were of his own composition, was proved to have purloined a part,
at any rate, of one of his sermons from Dr. Foster, of whom Pope had

    "Let modest Foster, if he will excel
    Ten metropolitans in preaching well."

The Synod found against him, but so agreeable to Franklin was the all
too-brief taste that he had enjoyed of good works that he adhered to
Hemphill to the last. "I stuck by him, however," he says, "as I rather
approv'd his giving us good sermons compos'd by others, than bad ones of
his own manufacture, tho' the latter was the practice of our common
teachers"; among whom he doubtless included the dreary shepherd who had
made so little out of the verse in the fourth chapter of Philippians.
Everything found its practical level in that mind at last. It might be
added that Franklin's stand on this occasion was but in keeping with a
final word of counsel which he wrote many years afterwards to his daughter
Sally, when he was descending the Delaware on his way to England. After
enjoining upon her especial attention her Book of Common Prayer, he
continued: "Yet I do not mean you should despise sermons, even of the
preachers you dislike, for the discourse is often much better than the man,
as sweet and clear waters come through very dirty earth."

After the Hemphill disappointment, he ceased to attend the church in which
his _protégé_ had come to grief, though he continued to subscribe to the
support of its minister for many years. He took a pew in an Episcopal
Church, Christ Church, and here he was careful that his family should
regularly worship every Sunday, notwithstanding the fact that he was too
busy again with his studies on that day to worship there himself, or placed
too much confidence in his _Art of Virtue and Articles of Belief and Acts
of Religion_ to feel the need for doing so. Here too his daughter and his
son Francis who died in childhood were baptized, and here his wife and
himself were buried. While he rarely attended the services at this church,
he was one of its mainstays in every pecuniary sense.

In more than one particular, Franklin was lax in France where he was only
liberal in America. At any rate he was even less of a Sabbatarian in the
former country than he was in the latter. As respects observance of the
Sabbath, he fully fell in with French usages and was in the habit of
setting apart the day as a day for attending the play or opera,
entertaining his friends, or amusing himself with chess or cards. One of
Poor Richard's maxim's was: "Work as if you were to live a hundred years,
pray as if you were to die to-morrow," and, while Franklin was not the
person to pray in just that rapt fashion, he seems to have thought rather
better of prayer than of other religious ceremonies. In the letter of
caution to his daughter Sally, from which we have already quoted, he tells
her, "Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. The act of devotion in the
Common Prayer Book is your principal business there, and if properly
attended to, will do more towards amending the heart than sermons generally
can do. For they were composed by men of much greater piety and wisdom,
than our common composers of sermons can pretend to be." He promptly
repelled an intimation of his sister Jane that he was opposed to divine
worship with the statement that, so far from thinking that God was not to
be worshipped, he had composed and written a whole book of devotions for
his own use; meaning his _Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion_. This
statement always brings back to us the reply of Charles Sumner, when he was
very sick, and was asked whether he was prepared to die, viz. that he had
read the Old Testament in the Greek version. A glance at the "First
Principles," with which the book begins, would hardly, we fear, have
allayed the fears of Jane. That Franklin should ever, even at the age of
twenty-two, have composed anything in the way of a creed so fanciful, not
to say fantastic, is nothing short of an enormity, even more startlingly
out of harmony with his usually sound and sure-footed intelligence than the
whimsical letter to General Charles Lee, in which, on the eve of the
American Revolution, he advised a return to bows and arrows as efficient
instruments of modern warfare. "I believe," commences the creed, "there is
one supreme, most perfect Being, Author and Father of the Gods themselves.
For I believe that Man is not the most perfect Being but one, rather that
as there are many Degrees of Beings his Inferiors, so there are many
Degrees of Beings superior to him." Then, after quite a lengthy preamble,
follows this Confession of Faith:

     Therefore I think it seems required of me, and my Duty
     as a Man, to pay Divine Regards to SOMETHING.

     I conceive then, that The INFINITE has created many
     beings or Gods, vastly superior to Man, who can better
     conceive his Perfections than we, and return him a more
     rational and glorious Praise.

     As, among Men, the Praise of the Ignorant or of
     Children, is not regarded by the ingenious Painter or
     Architect, who is rather honour'd and pleas'd with the
     approbation of Wise Men & Artists.

     It may be that these created Gods are immortal; or it
     may be that after many Ages, they are changed, and
     others Supply their Places.

     Howbeit, I conceive that each of these is exceeding
     wise and good, and very powerful; and that Each has
     made for himself one glorious Sun, attended with a
     beautiful and admirable System of Planets.

     It is that particular Wise and Good God, who is the
     author and owner of our System, that I propose for the
     object of my praise and adoration.

Under the same head of "First Principles," there is a slight flavor of the
_Art of Virtue:_ "Since without Virtue Man can have no Happiness in this
World, I firmly believe he delights to see me Virtuous, because he is
pleased when he sees Me Happy."

That one of the sanest, wisest, and most terrene of great men, and a man,
too, who was not supposed in his time to have any very firm belief in the
existence of even one God, should, young as he was, have peopled the
stellar spaces with such a hierarchy, half pantheistic, half feudal as
this, is, we take it, one of the most surprising phenomena in the history
of the human intellect. James Parton surmises that the idea probably
filtered to Franklin, when he was a youth in London, through Dr. Pemberton,
the editor of the third edition of the _Principia_, from a conjecture
thrown out in conversation by Sir Isaac Newton. It reappears in Franklin's
_Arabian Tale_. "Men in general," says Belubel, the Strong, "do not know,
but thou knowest, that in ascending from an elephant to the infinitely
Great, Good, and Wise, there is also a long gradation of beings, who
possess powers and faculties of which thou canst yet have no conception."

The next head in the book of devotions is "Adoration," under which is
arranged a series of liturgical statements, accompanied by a recurrent note
of praise, and preceded by an invocation and the following prelude in the
nature of a stage direction:

     Being mindful that before I address the Deity, my soul
     ought to be calm and serene, free from Passion and
     Perturbation, or otherwise elevated with Rational Joy
     and Pleasure, I ought to use a Countenance that
     expresses a filial Respect, mixed with a kind of
     Smiling, that Signifies inward Joy, and Satisfaction,
     and Admiration.[8]

The liturgical statements are followed by another direction that it will
not be improper now to read part of some such book as Ray's _Wisdom of God
in the Creation_, or _Blackmore on the Creation_, or the Archbishop of
Cambray's _Demonstration of the Being of a God_, etc., or else to spend
some minutes in a serious silence contemplating on those subjects. Then
follows another direction calling for Milton's glorious _Hymn to the
Creator_; then still another calling for the reading of some book, or part
of a book, discoursing on, and inciting to, Moral Virtue; then a succession
of resonant supplications, adjuring the aid of the particular Wise and Good
God, who is the author and _owner_ (or subfeudatory) of our System, in
Franklin's efforts to shun certain vices and infirmities, and to practice
certain virtues; all of the vices, infirmities and virtues being set forth
in the most specific terms with the limpidity which marked everything that
Franklin ever wrote, sacred or profane. One of the supplications was that
he might be loyal to his Prince and faithful to his country. This he was
until it became impossible for him to be loyal to both. Another was that he
might avoid lasciviousness. The prayer was not answered; for William
Franklin, on account of whose birth he should have received twenty-one
lashes under the laws of Pennsylvania, was born about two years after it
was framed. Creed and liturgy end with a series of thanks for the benefits
which the author had already received. Both creed and liturgy, we are told
by James Parton, were recorded with the utmost care and elegance in a
little pocket prayer-book, and the liturgy Franklin practiced for many
years. For a large part of his life, he bore his book of devotions and his
book of moral practice about on his person wherever he went, as if they
were amulets to ward off every evil inclination upon his part to yield to
what he calls in the _Autobiography_ "the unremitting attraction of ancient

It is likewise a fact that, notwithstanding the high opinion that he
expressed to his daughter Sally of the Book of Common Prayer, he undertook
at one time to assist Sir Francis Dashwood, Lord Le Despencer in reforming
it. The delicious incongruity of the thing is very much enhanced when we
remember that a part of Sir Francis' religious training for the task
consisted in the circumstance that, in his wilder days, he had been the
Abbot of Medmenham Abbey, which numbered among its godless monks--named the
Franciscans after himself--the Earl of Sandwich, Paul Whitehead, Budd
Doddington and John Wilkes. Over the portals of this infamous retreat was
written "Do what you please," and within it the licentious invitation was
duly carried into practice by perhaps the most graceless group of
blasphemers and libertines that England had ever known. However, when Sir
Francis and Franklin became collaborators, the former had, with advancing
years, apparently reached the conclusion that this world was one where a
decent regard should be paid to something higher than ourselves in
preference to giving ourselves up unreservedly to doing what we please, and
intercourse, bred by the fact that Sir Francis was a Joint
Postmaster-General of Great Britain at the same time that Franklin was
Deputy Postmaster-General for America, led naturally to a co-operative
venture on their part. Of Sir Francis, when the dregs of his life were
settling down into the bottom of the glass, leaving nothing but the better
elements of his existence to be drawn off, Franklin gives us a genial
picture. Speaking of West Wycombe, Sir Francis' country seat, he says: "But
a pleasanter Thing is the kind Countenance, the facetious and very
intelligent Conversation of mine Host, who having been for many Years
engaged in publick Affairs, seen all Parts of Europe, and kept the best
Company in the World, is himself the best existing." High praise this,
indeed, from a man who usually had a social equivalent for whatever he
received from an agreeable host! Franklin took as his share of the revision
the Catechism and the Psalms. Of the Catechism, he retained only two
questions (with the answers), "What is your duty to God?" and "What is your
duty to your neighbor?" The Psalms he very much shortened by omitting the
repetitions (of which he found, he said, in a letter to Granville Sharp,
more than he could have imagined) and the imprecations, which appeared, he
said, in the same letter, not to suit well the Christian doctrine of
forgiveness of injuries and doing good to enemies. As revised by the two
friends, the book was shorn of all references to the Sacraments and to the
divinity of Our Lord, and the commandments in the Catechism, the Nicene and
the Athanasian Creeds, and even the Canticle, "All ye Works of the Lord,"
so close to the heart of nature, were ruthlessly deleted. All of the
Apostle's Creed, too, went, except, to use Franklin's words, "the parts
that are most intelligible and most essential." The _Te Deum_ and the
_Venite_ were also pared down to very small proportions. Some of the other
changes assumed the form of abridgments of the services provided for
Communion, Infant Baptism, Confirmation, the Visitation of the Sick and the
Burial of the Dead. Franklin loved his species too much, we may be sure,
not to approve unqualifiedly the resolution of Sir Francis to omit wholly
"the Commination, and all cursing of mankind." Nor was a man, whose own
happy marriage had begun with such little ceremony, likely to object
strongly to the abbreviation of the service for the solemnization of
Matrimony upon which Sir Francis also decided. In fine, the whole of the
Book of Common Prayer was reduced to nearly one half its original compass.
The preface was written by Franklin. Judging from its terms, the principal
motive of the new version was to do away with the physical inconvenience
and discomfort caused in one way or another by long services. If the
services were abridged, the clergy would be saved a great deal of fatigue,
many pious and devout persons, unable from age or infirmities to remain for
hours in a cold church, would then attend divine worship and be
comfortable, the younger people would probably attend oftener and more
cheerfully, the sick would not find the prayer for the visitation of the
sick such a burden in their weak and distressed state, and persons,
standing around an open grave, could put their hats on again after a much
briefer period of exposure. Other reasons are given for the revision, but
the idea of holding out brevity as a kind of bait to worship is the
dominant one that runs through the Preface. It is written exactly as if
there was no such thing in the world as hallowed religious traditions,
associations or sentiments, deep as Human Love, strong as Death, to which
an almost sacrilegious shock would be given by even moderate innovations.
"The book," Franklin says in his letter to Granville Sharp, "was printed
for Wilkie, in St. Paul's Church Yard, but never much noticed. Some were
given away, very few sold, and I suppose the bulk became waste paper. In
the prayers so much was retrenched that approbation could hardly be
expected." In America, the Abridgment was known as "Franklin's Prayer
Book," and, worthless as it is, in a religious sense, since it became rare,
Franklin's fame has been known to give a single copy of it a pecuniary
value of not less than one thousand dollars. The literary relations of
Franklin to devotion began with a Creed as eccentric as the Oriental notion
that the whole world is upheld by a cow with blue horns and ended with
partial responsibility for a Prayer Book almost as devoid of a true
religious spirit as one of his dissertations on chimneys. He was slow,
however, to renounce a practical aim, when once formed. The abridged Prayer
Book was printed in 1773, and some fourteen years afterwards in a letter to
Alexander Small he expressed his pleasure at hearing that it had met with
the approbation of Small and "good Mrs. Baldwin." "It is not yet, that I
know of," he said, "received in public Practice anywhere; but, as it is
said that Good Motions never die, perhaps in time it may be found useful."

Another incident in the relations of Franklin to Prayer was the suggestion
made by him in the Federal Convention of 1787 that thenceforth prayers,
imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on the deliberations of
the Convention, should be held every morning before the Convention
proceeded to business. "In this Situation of this Assembly, groping, as it
were, in the dark to find Political Truth, and scarce able to distinguish
it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir," he asked, "that we have
not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to
illuminate our Understandings?" The question was a timely one, and was part
of an eloquent and impressive speech, but resulted in nothing more fruitful
than an exclamatory memorandum of Franklin, indignant or humorous we do not
know which, "The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers

It is only when insisting upon the charitable and fruitful side of religion
that Franklin has any wholesome or winning message to deliver touching it;
but, when doing this, his utterances are often edifying in the highest
degree. In an early letter to his father, who believed that the son had
imbibed some erroneous opinions with regard to religion, after respectfully
reminding his father that it is no more in a man's power to think than to
look like another, he used these words:

     My mother grieves that one of her sons is an Arian,
     another an Arminian. What an Arminian or an Arian is, I
     cannot say that I very well know. The truth is, I make
     such distinctions very little my study. I think vital
     religion has always suffered, when orthodoxy is more
     regarded than virtue; and the Scriptures assure me,
     that at the last day we shall not be examined what we
     _thought_, but what we _did_; and our recommendation
     will not be, that we said, _Lord! Lord!_ but that we
     did good to our fellow creatures. (See Matt. xxv.)

These convictions he was destined to reaffirm over and over again in the
course of his life. They were most elaborately stated in his forty-eighth
year in a letter to Joseph Huey. He had received, he said, much kindness
from men, to whom he would never have any opportunity of making the least
direct return, and numberless mercies from God who was infinitely above
being benefited by our services. Those kindnesses from men he could
therefore only return on their fellow men, and he could only show his
gratitude for these mercies from God by a readiness to help God's other
children and his brethren. For he did not think that thanks and
compliments, though repeated weekly, could discharge our real obligations
to each other and much less those to our Creator. He that for giving a
draught of water to a thirsty person should expect to be paid with a good
plantation, would be modest in his demands compared with those who think
they deserve Heaven for the little good they do on earth. The faith Huey
mentioned, he said, had doubtless its use in the world; but he wished it
were more productive of good works than he had generally seen it; he meant
real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy and public spirit; not
holiday keeping, sermon reading or hearing, performing church ceremonies,
or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments, despised
even by wise men and much less capable of pleasing the Deity. The worship
of God was a duty; the hearing reading of sermons might be useful, but if
men rested in hearing and praying, as too many did, it was as if a tree
should value itself on being watered and putting forth leaves though it
never produced any fruit.

     Your great Master [he continued] tho't much less of
     these outward Appearances and Professions than many of
     his modern Disciples. He prefer'd the _Doers_ of the
     Word, to the meer _Hearers_; the Son that seemingly
     refus'd to obey his Father, and yet perform'd his
     Commands, to him that profess'd his Readiness, but
     neglected the Work, the heretical but charitable
     Samaritan, to the uncharitable tho' orthodox Priest and
     sanctified Levite; & those who gave Food to the hungry,
     Drink to the Thirsty, Raiment to the Naked,
     Entertainment to the Stranger, and Relief to the Sick,
     tho' they never heard of his Name, he declares shall in
     the last Day be accepted, when those who cry Lord!
     Lord! who value themselves on their Faith, tho' great
     enough to perform Miracles, but have neglected good
     Works, shall be rejected.

And then, after a word about the modesty of Christ, he breaks out into
something as much like a puff of anger as anything that his perfect mental
balance would allow; "But now-a-days we have scarce a little Parson, that
does not think it the Duty of every Man within his Reach to sit under his
petty Ministrations." Altogether, the Rev. Mr. Hemphill never stole, and
few clergymen ever composed, a more striking sermon on good works than this
letter. And this was because the doctrines that it preached belonged fully
as much to the province of Human Benevolence as of Religion.

A pretty sermon also was the letter of Franklin to his sister Jane on
Faith, Hope and Charity. After quoting a homely acrostic, in which his
uncle Benjamin, who, humble as his place on Parnassus was, fumbled poetry
with distinctly better success than the nephew, had advised Jane to "raise
_faith_ and _hope_ three stories higher," he went on to read her a lecture
which is too closely knit to admit of compression:

     You are to understand, then, that _faith_, _hope_, and
     _charity_ have been called the three steps of Jacob's
     ladder, reaching from earth to heaven; our author calls
     them _stories_, likening religion to a building, and
     these are the three stories of the Christian edifice.
     Thus improvement in religion is called _building up_
     and _edification_. _Faith_ is then the ground floor,
     _hope_ is up one pair of stairs. My dear beloved Jenny,
     don't delight so much to dwell in those lower rooms,
     but get as fast as you can into the garret, for in
     truth the best room in the house is _charity_. For my
     part, I wish the house was turned upside down; 'tis so
     difficult (when one is fat) to go up stairs; and not
     only so, but I imagine _hope_ and _faith_ may be more
     firmly built upon _charity_, than _charity_ upon
     _faith_ and _hope_. However that may be, I think it the
     better reading to say--

         "Raise faith and hope one story higher."

     Correct it boldly, and I'll support the alteration;
     for, when you are up two stories already, if you raise
     your building three stories higher you will make five
     in all, which is two more than there should be, you
     expose your upper rooms more to the winds and storms;
     and, besides, I am afraid the foundation will hardly
     bear them, unless indeed you build with such light
     stuff as straw and stubble, and that, you know, won't
     stand fire. Again, where the author says,

         "Kindness of heart by words express,"

     strike out _words_ and put in _deeds_. The world is too
     full of compliments already. They are the rank growth
     of every soil, and choak the good plants of
     benevolence, and beneficence; nor do I pretend to be
     the first in this comparison of words and actions to
     plants; you may remember an ancient poet, whose works
     we have all studied and copied at school long ago.

         "A man of words and not of deeds
          Is like a garden full of weeds."

     'Tis a pity that good works, among some sorts of
     people, are so little valued, and good words admired in
     their stead: I mean seemingly pious discourses, instead
     of humane benevolent actions.

To the Rev. Thomas Coombe Franklin expressed the opinion that, unless
pulpit eloquence turned men to righteousness, the preacher or the priest
was not merely sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, which were innocent
things, but rather like the cunning man in the Old Baily who conjured and
told fools their fortunes to cheat them out of their money.

The general spirit of these various utterances of Franklin on vital
religion were sarcastically condensed in a remark of Poor Richard: "Serving
God is doing good to Man, but praying is thought an easier serving, and
therefore most generally chosen."

In forming an accurate conception of the influences by which the mind of
Franklin was brought into its posture of antagonism or indifference to the
doctrinal side of religion, it is necessary to take into consideration not
only the innate attributes of his intellect and character but also the
external pressure to which his opinions were subjected in his early life.
It was the religious intolerance and proscriptive spirit of the Puritan
society, in which he was born and reared, which drove him, first, into
dissent, and then, into disbelief. Borne the day he was born, if tradition
may be believed, though the ground was covered with snow, to the Old South
Church in Boston, and baptized there, so that he might escape every chance
of dying an unregenerate and doomed infant, he grew into boyhood to find
himself surrounded by conditions which tended to either reduce the free
impulses of his nature to supine or sullen submission or to force him into
active revolt. It is hard to suppress a smile when he tells us in the
_Autobiography_ that his father, who doubtless knew the difference between
an Arian and an Arminian even better than his mother, intended to devote
him as the tithe of his sons to the service of the Church. He smiles
himself when he adds with a trace of his former commercial calling that his
uncle Benjamin approved of the idea and proposed to give him all his
shorthand volumes of sermons "as a stock" Franklin supposed, "to set up
with." The intention of Josiah was soon abandoned, and Benjamin became the
apprentice of his brother James, the owner and publisher of the Boston
_Courant_, the fourth newspaper published in America. During the course of
this apprenticeship, first, as a contributor to the _Courant_, under the
_nom de plume_ of Silence Dogood, and, then, as its publisher in the place
of his brother, who had incurred the censure of the Puritan Lord Brethren,
he was drawn into the bitter attack made by it upon the religious
intolerance and narrowness of the times. During its career, the paper plied
the ruling dignitaries of the Boston of that day with so many clever little
pasquinades that the Rev. Increase Mather was compelled to signify to the
printer that he would have no more of their wicked Courants.

     I that have known what New England was from the
     Beginning [he said] can not but be troubled to see the
     Degeneracy of this Place. I can well remember when the
     Civil Government would have taken an effectual Course
     to suppress such a _Cursed Libel!_ which if it be not
     done I am afraid that some _Awful Judgment_ will come
     upon this Land, and the _Wrath of God will arise, and
     there will be no Remedy_.

Undaunted, the wicked _Courant_ took pains to let the public know that,
while the angry minister was no longer one of its subscribers, he sent his
grandson for the paper every week, and by paying a higher price for it in
that way was a more valuable patron than ever. The indignation of another
writer, supposed to be Cotton Mather, lashed itself into such fury that it
seemed as if the vile sheet would be buried beneath a pyramid of
vituperative words. "The _Courant_," he declared, was "a notorious,
scandalous" newspaper, "full freighted with nonsense, unmannerliness,
railery, prophaneness, immorality, arrogance, calumnies, lies,
contradictions, and what not, all tending to quarrels and divisions, and to
debauch and corrupt the minds and manners of New England." For a time, the
Church was too much for the scoffers. James Franklin was not haled for his
sins before the Judgment seat of God, as Increase Mather said he might be,
speedily, though a young man, but he was, as we shall hereafter see more in
detail, reduced to such a plight by the hand of civil authority that he had
to turn over the management of the _Courant_ to Benjamin, whose tart wit
and literary skill made it more of a cursed libel than ever to arbitrary
power and clerical bigotry.

The daring state of license, into which the sprightly boy fell, during his
connection with the _Courant_, is clearly revealed in the letter
contributed by Silence Dogood to it on the subject of Harvard College. In
this letter, she tells how the greater part of the rout that left Harvard
College "went along a large beaten Path, which led to a Temple at the
further End of the Plain, call'd, _The Temple of Theology_." "The Business
of those who were employed in this Temple being laborious and painful, I
wonder'd exceedingly," she said, "to see so many go towards it; but while I
was pondering this Matter in my Mind, I spy'd _Pecunia_ behind a Curtain,
beckoning to them with her Hand, which Sight immediately satisfy'd me for
whose Sake it was, that a great Part of them (I will not say all) travel'd
that Road." While the _Courant_ was running its lively course, young
Franklin was shunning church on Sundays, reading Shaftesbury and Anthony
Collins, and drifting further and further away from all the fixed
shore-lights of religious faith.

Then came the hegira, which ended, as all the world knows, at Philadelphia.
The first place curiously enough, in which the fugitive slept after
reaching that city, was the great Quaker Meeting House, whither he had been
swept by the concourse of clean-dressed people, that he had seen walking
towards it, when he was sauntering aimlessly about the streets of his new
home, shortly after his arrival. "I sat down among them," he says in the
_Autobiography_, "and, after looking round awhile and hearing nothing said,
being very drowsy thro' labour and want of rest the preceding night, I fell
fast asleep, and continu'd so till the meeting broke up, when one was kind
enough to rouse me." The halcyon calm of this meeting offers a strange
enough contrast to the "disputatious turn" which had been engendered in him
as he tells us by his father's "books of dispute about religion" before he
left Boston.

The state of mind with respect to religion that he brought with him to
Philadelphia is thus described by him in the _Autobiography_:

     My parents had early given me religious impressions,
     and brought me through my childhood piously in the
     Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after
     doubting by turns of several points, as I found them
     disputed in the different books I read, I began to
     doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism
     fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance
     of sermons preached at Boyle's lectures. It happened
     that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to
     what was intended by them; for the arguments of the
     Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me
     much stronger than the refutations.

Before the inevitable reaction set in, we obtain from the _Autobiography_ a
few other items of religious or semi-religious interest. A passing
reference has already been made to Keimer's invitation to Franklin to unite
with him in founding another sect. He had been so often trepanned by
Franklin's Socratic method of argument that he had finally come to
entertain a great respect for it. He was to preach the doctrines, and his
co-laborer was to confound all opponents. As he was in the habit of wearing
his beard at full length, because somewhere in the Mosaic Law it was said,
"Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard"; and was also in the habit of
keeping the seventh day as his Sabbath, he insisted that these two habits
of his should be enjoined as essential points of discipline upon the
adherents of the new creed. Franklin agreed to acquiesce in this upon the
condition that Keimer would confine himself to a vegetable diet. The latter
consented, and, though a great glutton, ate no animal food for three
months. During this period, their victuals were dressed and brought to them
by a woman in their neighborhood who had been given by Franklin a list of
forty dishes, to be prepared for them at different times, in all which
there was neither fish, flesh nor fowl. "The whim," he declared, "suited me
the better at this time from the cheapness of it, not costing us above
eighteen pence sterling each per week." At the termination of three months,
however, Keimer could live up to his Pythagorean vow no longer, invited two
of his women friends and Franklin to dine with him, and ordered a roast pig
for the occasion. Unfortunately for his guests, the pig was placed a little
prematurely upon the table, and was all consumed by him before they
arrived. With the disappearance of the pig, the new sect came to an end

As sharp as the contrast between Franklin's spirit and the dove-like peace
that brooded over the Great Quaker Meeting House, was the contrast between
it and that of the self-devoted nun, whom he was once permitted to visit in
the garret, in which she had immured herself, of his lodging house in Duke
Street, London, opposite the Romish Chapel. As there was no nunnery in
England, she had resolved to lead the life of a nun as nearly as possible
under the circumstances. Accordingly she had donated all her estate to
charitable uses, reserving only twelve pounds a year to live on, and out of
this sum she still gave a great deal to charity, subsisting herself on
water gruel only, and using no fire but to boil it. For many years, she had
been allowed to live in her garret free of charge by successive Catholic
tenants of the house, as they deemed it a blessing to have her there. A
priest visited her to confess her every day. When asked how she could
possibly find so much employment for a confessor, she replied: "Oh! It is
impossible to avoid _vain thoughts_." Franklin found her cheerful and
polite and of pleasant conversation. Her room was clean, but had no other
furniture than a mattress, a table with a crucifix and book, a stool, which
she gave him to sit on, and a picture over the chimney of Saint Veronica,
displaying her handkerchief, with the miraculous figure of Christ's
bleeding face on it, which she explained to Franklin, of all the persons in
the world, with great seriousness. She looked pale, but was never sick. "I
give it," says Franklin in the _Autobiography_, "as another instance on how
small an income, life and health may be supported." At no period of his
existence, was he less likely to be in sympathy with the ascetic side of
religion than at this. Indeed, while in London at this time, believing that
some of the reasonings of Wollaston's _Religion of Nature_, which he was
engaged in composing at Palmer's Printing House in Bartholomew Close, where
he was employed as a printer, were not well founded, he wrote _A
Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain_, and dedicated it
to his rapscallion friend, James Ralph, whose own ideas about Liberty may
be inferred from the fact that he had deserted his family in Philadelphia
to seek his fortune in England. This pamphlet Franklin afterwards came to
regard as one of the _errata_ of his life, and, of the one hundred copies
of it that were printed, he then burnt all that he could lay his hands on
except one with marginal notes by Lyons, the author of _The Infallibility
of Human Judgment_. The argument of the pamphlet, as Franklin states it in
the _Autobiography_, was that, as both virtue and vice owed their origin to
an infinitely wise, good and powerful God, "nothing could possibly be wrong
in the world," and vice and virtue were empty distinctions. Franklin's
efforts to suppress the piece were, naturally enough, ineffectual, for
there was an inextinguishable spark of vitality in almost everything that
he ever wrote.

These utterances make it apparent enough that the religious character of
Franklin was subject to too many serious limitations to justify even early
American patriotism in holding him up as an exemplar of religious
orthodoxy, although our incredulity is not necessarily overtaxed by the
statement of Parson Weems that, when Franklin was on his death-bed, he had
a picture of Christ on the Cross placed in such a situation that he could
conveniently rest his eyes upon it, and declared: "That's the picture of
Him who came into the world to teach men to love one another." This kind of
a teacher, divine or human, could not fail to awaken in him something as
nearly akin to religious reverence as his nature was capable of
entertaining. But his mental and moral constitution was one to which it was
impossible that the supernatural or miraculous element in Religion could
address a persuasive appeal. "In the Affairs of this World, Men are saved,
not by Faith, but by Want of it," said Poor Richard, and it was with the
affairs of this World that Franklin was exclusively concerned. When he
visited the recluse in her Duke Street garret, it was not the crucifix and
book, nor the picture over the chimney of Saint Veronica and her
handkerchief that arrested his attention, nor was it the self-sacrificing
fidelity of the lonely figure under harsh restrictions to a pure and
unselfish purpose. It was rather the small income, with its salutary lesson
of frugality for the struggling world outside, on which she contrived to
support life and health. If he deemed a set of sectarian principles to be
whimsical, as he did some of those professed by the Quakers, he humored
them in the spirit of his wife who, he reminded his daughter in one of his
letters, was in the habit of saying: "_If People can be pleased with small
Matters, it is a Pity but they should have them._" Few men have ever been
more familiar with the Scriptures than he. Some of his happiest
illustrations were derived from its pictured narratives and rich imagery,
but the idea that God had revealed His purposes to His children in its
pages was one not congenial with his sober and inquisitive mental outlook;
and equally uncongenial was the idea, which of all others has exercised the
profoundest degree of religious influence upon the human heart, that
Christ, the only begotten son of our Lord, was sent into the world to
redeem us from our sins with His most precious blood. Even his belief in
the existence of a superintending Providence and a system of rewards and
punishments here or hereafter for our moral conduct was a more or less
vague, floating belief, such as few thoroughly wise, well-balanced and
fair-minded men, who have given any real thought to the universe, in which
they lived, have ever failed to form to a greater or less degree. In a
word, of that real, vital religion, which vivifies even the common, dull
details of our daily lives, and irradiates with cheerful hope even the dark
abyss, to which our feet are hourly tending, which purifies our hearts,
refines our natures, quickens our sympathies, exalts our ideals, and is
capable unassisted of inspiring even the humblest life with a subdued but
noble enthusiasm, equal to all the shocks of existence--of this religion
Franklin had none, or next to none. He went about the alteration of the
Book of Common Prayer exactly as if he were framing a constitution for the
Albany Congress or for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. That the
alterations were to be shaped by any but purely practical considerations,
that deep religious feeling has unreasoning reservations which intuitively
resent the mere suggestion of change, he does not seem to have realized at
all. Religion to him was like any other apparatus, essential to the
well-being of organized society, a thing to be fashioned and adapted to
its uses without reference to anything but the ordinary principles of
utility. "If men are so wicked as we now see them _with religion_, what
would they be _if without it_?" was a question addressed by him in his old
age to a correspondent whom he was advising to burn a skeptical manuscript
written by the former.

At the age of twenty, Franklin came back from London to Philadelphia, and
it was then that the reaction in his infidel tendencies took place. From
extreme dissent he was brought by a process of reasoning, as purely
inductive as any that he ever pursued as a philosopher, to believe that he
had wandered off into the paths of error, and should make his way back to
the narrow but safer road. Under his perverting influence, his friend
Collins had become a free-thinker, and Collins had soon acquired a habit of
sotting with brandy, and had never repaid to him the portion of Mr.
Vernon's money which he had borrowed from him. Under the same influence,
his friend, Ralph had become a free-thinker, and Ralph had been equally
faithless in the discharge of his pecuniary obligations to him. Sir William
Keith, the Colonial Governor of Pennsylvania, whose fair promises, as we
shall see, had led him on a fool's errand to London, was a free-thinker,
and Sir William had proved an unprincipled cozener. Benjamin Franklin
himself was a free-thinker, and Benjamin Franklin had forgotten the faith
that he plighted to Deborah Read, and had converted Mr. Vernon's money to
his own use. The final result, Franklin tells us, was that his pamphlet on
_Liberty and Necessity_ appeared now not so clever a performance as he once
thought it, and he doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself
unperceived into his argument, so as to infect all that followed, as was
common with metaphysical reasonings. From this point, the drift to the
_Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion_, the little book of moral
practice, the _Art of Virtue_, the Rev. Mr. Hemphill and Christ Church was
natural enough.

We might add that the views upon which Franklin's mind finally settled down
after its recoil from his pamphlet on _Liberty and Necessity_ persisted
until his last day. In a letter to Ezra Stiles, written but a little over a
month before his death, he made the following statement of his faith:

     You desire to know something of my Religion. It is the
     first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot
     take your Curiosity amiss, and shall endeavour in a few
     Words to gratify it. Here is my Creed. I believe in one
     God, Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his
     Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the
     most acceptable Service we render to him is doing good
     to his other Children. That the soul of Man is
     immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another
     Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be
     the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I
     regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with

     As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you
     particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and
     his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World
     ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has
     received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with
     most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts
     as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not
     dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it
     needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon
     an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.
     I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that
     Belief has the good Consequence, as probably it has, of
     making his Doctrines more respected and better
     observed; especially as I do not perceive, that the
     Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the
     Unbelievers in his Government of the World with any
     peculiar Marks of his Displeasure.

     I shall only add, respecting myself, that, having
     experienced the Goodness of that Being in conducting me
     prosperously thro' a long life, I have no doubt of its
     Continuance in the next, though without the smallest
     conceit of meriting such Goodness.

It is amusing to compare this letter written in America to the President of
Yale College with what Franklin had previously written to Madame Brillon,
when she objected to the marriage of her daughter to William Temple
Franklin partly on the score of religious incompatibility: "These are my
ideas. In each Religion, there are certain essential things, and there are
others that are only Forms and Modes; just as a loaf of Sugar may happen to
be wrapped up in either brown, or white or blue Paper, tied up with either
red or yellow hempen or worsted twine. In every instance the essential
thing is the sugar itself. Now the essentials of a good Religion consist,
it seems to me, in these 5 Articles viz." Then ensues a statement of
practically the same fundamental tenets as those that he afterwards laid
before Ezra Stiles; except that, when he wrote to Madame Brillon, he was
not certain whether we should be rewarded or punished according to our
deserts in this life or in the life to come. He then adds: "These
Essentials are found in both your Religion and ours, the differences are
only Paper and Twine."

Dr. Priestley, in his _Autobiography_, laments that a man of Dr. Franklin's
general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever
in Christianity, and should also have done as much as he did to make others
unbelievers. Franklin acknowledged to this friend that he had not given as
much attention as he ought to have done to the evidences of Christianity,
and, at his request, Priestley recommended to him several books on the
subject, which he does not seem to have read. As Priestley himself rejected
the doctrines of the Trinity, the Atonement, Original Sin and Miraculous
Inspiration, and considered Christ to be "a mere man," though divinely
commissioned and assisted, his fitness for the office of winning Franklin
over to Christianity might well have been questioned. He belonged to the
same category as Dr. Richard Price, that other warm friend of Franklin, who
came into Franklin's mind when Sir John Pringle asked him whether he knew
where he could go to hear a preacher of _rational_ Christianity.

Franklin, it passes without saying, had his laugh at Religion as he had at
everything else at times. "Some have observed," he says of the clergy in
his _Apology for Printers_, "that 'tis a fruitful Topic, and the easiest to
be witty upon of all others." For the earliest outbreak of his humor on the
subject, we are indebted to William Temple Franklin. Young Benjamin found
the long graces uttered by his father before and after meals rather
tedious. "I think, father," said he one day after the provisions for the
winter had been salted, "if you were to say grace over the whole cask, once
for all, it would be a vast saving of time." Some of his later jests, at
the expense of Religion, read as if they were conceived at the period, upon
which his vow of silence called a halt, when, according to the
_Autobiography_, he was getting into the habit of prattling, punning and
joking, which only made him acceptable to trifling company. Others,
however, have the earmarks of his humorous spirit in its more noteworthy
manifestations. When he was off on his military excursion against the
Indians, his command had for its chaplain a zealous Presbyterian minister,
Mr. Beatty, who complained to him that the men did not generally attend his
prayers and exhortations. When they enlisted, they were promised, besides
pay and provisions, a gill of rum a day, which was punctually served out to
them, half in the morning, and the other half in the evening.

     I observ'd [says Franklin in the _Autobiography_] they
     were as punctual in attending to receive it; upon which
     I said to Mr. Beatty, "It is, perhaps, below the
     dignity of your profession to act as steward of the
     rum, but if you were to deal it out and only just after
     prayers, you would have them all about you." He liked
     the tho't, undertook the office, and, with the help of
     a few hands to measure out the liquor, executed it to
     satisfaction, and never were prayers more generally and
     more punctually attended; so that I thought this method
     preferable to the punishment inflicted by some military
     laws for non-attendance on divine service.

The efficacy itself of prayer also elicited some bantering comments from
him. Alluding to the prayers offered up in New England for the reduction of
Louisburg, he wrote to John Franklin:

     Some seem to think forts are as easy taken as snuff.
     Father Moody's prayers look tolerably modest. You have
     a fast and prayer day for that purpose; in which I
     compute five hundred thousand petitions were offered up
     to the same effect in New England, which added to the
     petitions of every family morning and evening,
     multiplied by the number of days since January 25th,
     make forty-five millions of prayers; which, set against
     the prayers of a few priests in the garrison, to the
     Virgin Mary, give a vast balance in your favour.

     If you do not succeed, I fear I shall have but an
     indifferent opinion of Presbyterian prayers in such
     cases, as long as I live. Indeed, in attacking strong
     towns I should have more dependence on _works_, than on
     _faith_; for, like the kingdom of heaven, they are to
     be taken by force and violence; and in a French
     garrison I suppose there are devils of that kind, that
     they are not to be cast out by prayers and fasting,
     unless it be by their own fasting for want of

We can readily imagine that more than one mirth-provoking letter like this
from the pen of Franklin passed into the general circulation of Colonial

As for the humorist, he did not fail to return to the subject a little
later on, when Louisburg, after being bandied about between English and
French control, was again in the hands of the English. "I congratulate
you," he said to Jane Mecom, "on the conquest of Cape Breton, and hope as
your people took it by praying, the first time, you will now pray that it
may never be given up again, which you then forgot."

In his _A Letter from China_, he makes the sailor, who is supposed to be
narrating his experiences in China, say that he asked his Chinese master
why they did not go to church to pray, as was done in Europe, and was
answered that they paid the priests to pray for them that they might stay
at home, and mind their business, and that it would be a folly to pay
others for praying, and then go and do the praying themselves, and that the
more work they did, while the priests prayed, the better able they were to
pay them well for praying.

After expressing his regret in a letter from New York to Colonel Henry
Bouquet, the hero of the battle of Bushy Run, that because of business he
could enjoy so little of the conversation of that gallant officer at
Philadelphia, he exclaimed: "How happy are the Folks in Heaven, who, 'tis
said, have nothing to do, but to talk with one another, except now and then
a little Singing & Drinking of Aqua Vitæ."

His leniency in relation to the Sabbath also vented itself in a jocose
letter to Jared Ingersoll:

     I should be glad to know what it is that distinguishes
     Connecticut religion from common religion. Communicate,
     if you please, some of these particulars that you think
     will amuse me as a virtuoso. When I travelled in
     Flanders, I thought of our excessively strict
     observation of Sunday; and that a man could hardly
     travel on that day among you upon his lawful occasions
     without hazard of punishment; while, where I was, every
     one travelled, if he pleased, or diverted himself in
     any other way; and in the afternoon both high and low
     went to the play or the opera, where there was plenty
     of singing, fiddling and dancing. I looked around for
     God's judgments, but saw no signs of them. The cities
     were well built and full of inhabitants, the markets
     filled with plenty, the people well-favoured and well
     clothed, the fields well tilled, the cattle fat and
     strong, the fences, houses, and windows all in repair,
     and no Old Tenor (paper money) anywhere in the country;
     which would almost make one suspect that the Deity is
     not so angry at that offence as a New England Justice.

The joke sometimes turns up when we are least expecting it, if it can be
said that there is ever a time when a flash of wit or humor from Franklin
surprises us. In a letter to Richard Price, asking him for a list of good
books, such as were most proper to inculcate principles of sound religion
and just government, he informs Price that, a new town in Massachusetts
having done him the honor to name itself after him, and proposing to build
a steeple to their meeting-house, if he would give them a bell, he had
advised the sparing themselves the expense of a steeple for the present and
that they would accept of books instead of a bell; "sense being preferable
to sound." There is a gleam of the same sort in his revised version of the
Lord's Prayer; for, almost incredible as the fact is, his irreverent hand
tinkered even with this most sacred of human petitions. "Our Liturgy," he
said, "uses neither the _Debtors_ of Matthew, nor the _indebted_ of Luke,
but instead of them speaks of _those that trespass against us_. Perhaps the
Considering it as a Christian Duty to forgive Debtors, was by the Compilers
thought an inconvenient Idea in a trading Nation." Sometimes his humor is
so delicate and subtle that even acute intellects, without a keen sense of
the ludicrous, mistake it all for labored gravity. This is true of his
modernized version of part of the first chapter of Job, where, for
illustration, for the words, "But put forth thine hand now, and touch all
that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face," he suggests the
following: "Try him;--only withdraw your favor, turn him out of his places,
and withhold his pensions, and you will soon find him in the opposition."
It is a remarkable fact that more than one celebrated man of letters has
accepted this exquisite parody as a serious intrusion by Franklin into a
reformatory field for which he was unfitted. We dare say that, if Franklin
could have anticipated such a result, he would have experienced a degree of
pleasure in excess of even that which he was in the habit of feeling when
he had successfully passed off his Parable against Persecution on some one
as an extract from the Bible.

There is undeniably a lack of reality, a certain sort of hollowness about
his religious views. When we tap them, a sound, as of an empty cask, comes
back to us. They are distinguished by very much the same want of
spontaneous, instinctive feeling, the same artificial cast, the same
falsetto note as his system of moral practice and his _Art of Virtue_.
Indeed, to a very great degree they are but features of his system of
morals. That he ever gave any sincere credence to the written creed of his
youth, with its graded Pantheon of Gods, is, of course, inconceivable. This
was a mere academic and transitional conceit, inspired by the first
youthful impulses of his recession from extreme irreligion to lukewarm
acquiescence in accepted religious conventions. Nor can we say that his
belief in a single Deity was much more genuine or vital, confidently as he
professed to commit himself to the wisdom and goodness of this Deity. There
is nothing in his writings, full of well-rounded thanksgiving and praise as
they sometimes are, to justify the conclusion that to him God was anything
more than the personification, more or less abstract, of those cosmic
forces, with which he was so conversant, and of those altruistic promptings
of the human heart, of which he himself was such a beneficent example. The
Fatherhood of God was a passive conception to which his mind was conducted
almost solely by his active, ever-present sense of the Brotherhood of Man.

But it is no greater misconception to think of Franklin as a Christian than
to think of him as a scoffer. He was no scoffer. A laugh or a smile for
some ceremonious or extravagant feature of religion he had at times, as we
have seen, but no laugh or smile except such as can be reconciled with a
substantial measure of genuine religious good-faith. It was never any part
of his purpose to decry Religion, to undermine its influence, or to weaken
its props. He was too full of the scientific spirit of speculation and
distrust, he was too practical and worldly-wise to readily surrender the
right of private judgment, or to give himself over to any form of truly
devotional fervor, but he had entirely too keen an appreciation of the
practical value of religion in restraining human vices and passions and
promoting human benevolence to have any disposition to destroy or impair
its sway. The motive of his existence was not to unsettle men, nor to cast
them adrift, nor to hold out to them novel projects of self-improvement,
not rooted in fixed human prepossessions and experience, but to discipline
them, to free them from social selfishness, to keep them in subjection to
all the salutary restraints, which the past had shown to be good for them.
Of these restraints, he knew that those imposed by Religion were among the
most potent, and to Religion, therefore, he adhered, if for no other
reason, because it was the most helpful ally of human morality, and of the
municipal ordinances by which human morality is enforced. From what he said
to Lord Kames, it seems that he regarded his _Art of Virtue_ as a
supplement to Religion, though really with more truth it might be asserted
that it was Religion which was the supplement to his _Art of Virtue_.

     Christians [he said] are directed to have faith in
     Christ, as the effectual means of obtaining the change
     they desire. It may, when sufficiently strong, be
     effectual with many: for a full opinion, that a Teacher
     is infinitely wise, good, and powerful, and that he
     will certainly reward and punish the obedient and
     disobedient, must give great weight to his precepts,
     and make them much more attended to by his disciples.
     But many have this faith in so weak a degree, that it
     does not produce the effect. Our _Art of Virtue_ may,
     therefore, be of great service to those whose faith is
     unhappily not so strong, and may come in aid of its

How little Franklin was inclined to undervalue Religion as a support of
good conduct is, among other things, shown by the concern which he
occasionally expressed in his letters, when he was abroad, that his wife
and daughter should not be slack in attending divine worship. One of his
letters to Sally of this nature we have already quoted. Another to his wife
expresses the hope that Sally "continues to love going to Church," and
states that he would have her read over and over again the Whole Duty of
Man and the Lady's Library. In another letter to his wife, he says: "You
spent your Sunday very well, but I think you should go oftner to Church."
Fortified as he was by his _Art of Virtue_, he felt that church attendance
was but a matter of secondary importance for him, but he was eager that his
wife and daughter, who had not acquired the habitude of the virtues as he
had, should not neglect the old immemorial aids to rectitude.

Even to the levity, with which religious topics might be handled, he set
distinct limits. He had no objection to a good-humored joke at the expense
of their superficial aspects even if it was a little broad, but with
malignant or derisive attacks upon religion he had no sympathy whatever. In
the _Autobiography_, he denounces with manifest sincerity, as a wicked
travesty, the doggerel version of the Bible, composed by Dr. Brown, who
kept the inn, eight or ten miles from Burlington, at which he lodged
overnight, on his first journey from Boston to Philadelphia. Nothing that
he ever wrote is wiser or sounder than the letter which he addressed to a
friend, dissuading him from publishing a "piece," impugning the Doctrine of
a Special Providence. In its utilitarian conceptions of religion and
virtue, in the emphasis placed by it upon habit as the best security for
righteous conduct, in the cautious respect that it manifests for the
general sentiments of mankind on religious subjects, we have a concise
revelation of his whole attitude towards Religion, when he was turning his
face seriously towards it.

     By the Argument it contains against the Doctrines of a
     particular Providence [he said], tho' you allow a
     general Providence, you strike at the Foundation of all
     Religion. For without the Belief of a Providence, that
     takes Cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favour
     particular Persons, there is no Motive to Worship a
     Deity, to fear its Displeasure, or to pray for its
     Protection. I will not enter into any Discussion of
     your Principles, tho' you seem to desire it. At present
     I shall only give you my Opinion, that, though your
     Reasonings are subtile, and may prevail with some
     Readers, you will not succeed so as to change the
     general Sentiments of Mankind on that Subject, and the
     Consequence of printing this Piece will be, a great
     deal of Odium drawn upon yourself, Mischief to you, and
     no Benefit to others. He that spits against the Wind,
     spits in his own Face.

     But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any Good would
     be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a
     virtuous Life, without the Assistance afforded by
     Religion; you having a clear Perception of the
     Advantages of Virtue, and the Disadvantages of Vice,
     and possessing a Strength of Resolution sufficient to
     enable you to resist common Temptations. But think how
     great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and
     ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc'd, and
     inconsiderate Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the
     Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to
     support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice
     of it till it becomes _habitual_, which is the great
     Point for its Security. And perhaps you are indebted to
     her originally, that is, to your Religious Education,
     for the Habits of Virtue upon which you now justly
     value yourself. You might easily display your excellent
     Talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and
     thereby obtain a Rank with our most distinguish'd
     Authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the
     Hottentots, that a Youth, to be receiv'd into the
     Company of men, should prove his Manhood by beating his

     I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt
     unchaining the Tyger, but to burn this Piece before it
     is seen by any other Person; whereby you will save
     yourself a great deal of Mortification from the Enemies
     it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of
     Regret and Repentence.


[7] Kent was evidently something of a character. In a letter to his friend
Mrs. Catherine Greene, in 1764, Franklin said: "Mr. Kent's compliment is a
very extraordinary one, as he was obliged to kill himself and two others in
order to make it; but, being killed in imagination only, they and he are
all yet alive and well, thanks to God, and I hope will continue so as long
as, dear Katy, your affectionate friend,   B. FRANKLIN."

[8] We are informed by Franklin in the _Autobiography_ that he inserted on
one page of his "little book" a "scheme of employment for the twenty-four
hours of a natural day." The opening injunction of this plan of conduct
brings the wash-basin and the altar into rather amusing juxtaposition:
"Rise, wash, and address _Powerful Goodness_!"


Franklin, the Philanthropist and Citizen

It may be that, if Franklin had asked the angel, who made the room of Abou
Ben Adhem rich, and like a lily in bloom, whether his name was among the
names of those who loved the Lord, the angel might have replied: "Nay not
so"; but there can be no question that like Ben Adhem Franklin could with
good right have added,

    "I pray thee then,
    Write me as one that loves his fellow-men."

As we have said, the desire to promote the welfare of his fellow-creatures
was the real religion of his life--a zealous, constant religion which began
with his early manhood and ceased only with his end. This fact reveals
itself characteristically in a letter written by him to his wife just after
he had narrowly escaped shipwreck off Falmouth Harbor on his second voyage
to England. "Were I a Roman Catholic," he said, "perhaps I should on this
occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint; but as I am not, if I were to
vow at all, it should be to build a _light house_."

The weaker side of human character was, in all its aspects, manifest enough
to his humorous perceptions. In an amusing paragraph in the
_Autobiography_, he tells us how once in his youth he irresolutely adhered
to his vegetarian scruples, even when his nose was filled with the sweet
savor of frying fish, until he recollected that he had seen some smaller
fish removed from their stomachs. Then thought he, "If you eat one another,
I don't see why we mayn't eat you." "So convenient a thing," he adds, "it
is to be a _reasonable creature_, since it enables one to find or make a
reason for everything one has a mind to do." On another occasion, he was so
disgusted with the workings of human reason as to regret that we had not
been furnished with a sound, sensible instinct instead. At intervals, the
sly humor dies away into something like real, heartfelt censure of his
kind, especially when he reflects upon the baleful state of eclipse into
which human happiness passes when overcast by war. Among other reasons, he
hated war, because he deprecated everything that tended to check the
multiplication of the human species which he was almost ludicrously eager
to encourage. No writer, not even Malthus, who was very deeply indebted to
him, has ever had a keener insight into the philosophy of population, and
no man has ever been a more enthusiastic advocate of the social
arrangements which furnish the results for the application of this
philosophy. In one of her letters to him, we find his daughter, Sally,
saying: "As I know my dear Papa likes to hear of weddings, I will give him
a list of my acquaintance that has entered the matrimonial state since his
departure." And in one of his letters to his wife, when he was in England
on his first mission, he wrote: "The Accounts you give me of the Marriages
of our friends are very agreeable. I love to hear of everything that tends
to increase the Number of good People."[9] The one thing in French customs
that appears to have met with his disapproval was the inclination of French
mothers to escape the burdens of maternity. In a letter to George Whatley,
he ventured the conjecture that in the year 1785 only one out of every two
infants born in Paris was being nursed by its own mother.

     Is it right [he asked] to encourage this monstrous
     Deficiency of natural Affection? A Surgeon I met with
     here excused the Women of Paris, by saying, seriously,
     that they _could not_ give suck; "_Car," dit il, "Elles
     n'ont point de tetons._" ("For," said he, "They have no
     teats.") He assur'd me it was a Fact, and bade me look
     at them, and observe how flat they were on the Breast;
     "they have nothing more there," said he, "than I have
     upon the Back of my hand." I have since thought that
     there might be some Truth in his Observation, and that,
     possibly, Nature, finding they made no use of Bubbies,
     has left off giving them any. I wish Success to the new
     Project of assisting the Poor to keep their Children at
     home [Franklin adds later in this letter] because I
     think there is no Nurse like a Mother (or not many),
     and that, if Parents did not immediately send their
     Infants out of their Sight, they would in a few days
     begin to love them, and thence be spurr'd to greater
     Industry for their Maintenance.

Among his most delightful observations are these on marriage in a letter to
John Sargent:

     The Account you give me of your Family is pleasing,
     except that your eldest Son continues so long
     unmarried. I hope he does not intend to live and die in
     Celibacy. The Wheel of Life, that has roll'd down to
     him from Adam without Interruption, should not stop
     with him. I would not have one dead unbearing Branch in
     the Genealogical Tree of the Sargents. The married
     State is, after all our Jokes, the happiest, being
     conformable to our natures. Man & Woman have each of
     them Qualities & Tempers, in which the other is
     deficient, and which in Union contribute to the common
     Felicity. Single and separate, they are not the
     compleat human Being; they are like the odd Halves of
     Scissors; they cannot answer the End of their

Equally delightful are his observations upon the same subject in a letter
to John Alleyne after Alleyne's marriage:

     Had you consulted me, as a Friend, on the Occasion,
     Youth on both sides I should not have thought any
     Objection. Indeed, from the matches that have fallen
     under my Observation, I am rather inclin'd to think,
     that early ones stand the best Chance for Happiness.
     The Tempers and habits of young People are not yet
     become so stiff and uncomplying, as when more advanced
     in Life; they form more easily to each other, and hence
     many Occasions of Disgust are removed. And if Youth has
     less of that Prudence, that is necessary to conduct a
     Family, yet the Parents and elder Friends of young
     married Persons are generally at hand to afford their
     Advice, which amply supplies that Defect; and, by early
     Marriage, Youth is sooner form'd to regular and useful
     Life; and possibly some of those Accidents, Habits or
     Connections, that might have injured either the
     Constitution, or the Reputation, or both, are thereby
     happily prevented.

     Particular Circumstances of particular Persons may
     possibly sometimes make it prudent to delay entering
     into that State; but in general, when Nature has
     render'd our Bodies fit for it, the Presumption is in
     Nature's Favour, that she has not judg'd amiss in
     making us desire it. Late Marriages are often attended,
     too, with this further Inconvenience, that there is not
     the same Chance the parents shall live to see their
     offspring educated. "_Late Children_," says the Spanish
     Proverb, "_are early Orphans._" A melancholy Reflection
     to those, whose Case it may be! With us in America,
     Marriages are generally in the Morning of Life; our
     Children are therefore educated and settled in the
     World by Noon, and thus, our Business being done, we
     have an Afternoon and Evening of chearful Leisure to
     ourselves; such as your Friend at present enjoys. By
     these early Marriages we are blest with more Children;
     and from the Mode among us, founded in Nature, of every
     Mother suckling and nursing her own Child, more of them
     are raised. Thence the swift Progress of Population
     among us, unparallel'd in Europe.

Then, after speaking of the fate of many in England who, having deferred
marriage too long, find at length that it is too late to think of it, and
so live all their lives in a situation that greatly lessens a man's value,
he comes back to what seems to have been a favorite course of illustration
of his in relation to marriage. "An odd Volume of a Set of Books you know
is not worth its proportion of the Set, and what think you of the
Usefulness of an odd Half of a Pair of Scissors? It can not well cut
anything. It may possibly serve to scrape a Trencher." With these views
about marriage, it is not surprising to find Franklin employing in a letter
to Joseph Priestley such language about war as this:

     Men I find to be a Sort of Beings very badly
     constructed, as they are generally more easily provok'd
     than reconcil'd, more disposed to do Mischief to each
     other than to make Reparation, much more easily
     deceiv'd than undeceiv'd, and having more Pride and
     even Pleasure in killing than in begetting one another;
     for without a Blush they assemble in great armies at
     Noon-Day to destroy, and when they have kill'd as many
     as they can, they exaggerate the Number to augment the
     fancied Glory; but they creep into Corners, or cover
     themselves with the Darkness of night, when they mean
     to beget, as being asham'd of a virtuous Action. A
     virtuous Action it would be, and a vicious one the
     killing of them, if the Species were really worth
     producing or preserving; but of this I begin to doubt.

In the same letter, he suggests to the celebrated clergyman and philosopher
to whom he was writing that perhaps as the latter grew older he might look
upon the saving of souls as a hopeless project or an idle amusement, repent
of having murdered in mephitic air so many honest, harmless mice, and wish
that to prevent mischief he had used boys and girls instead of them.[10]

Nor are these by any means the only sentences in Franklin's writings in
which he expressed his disgust for the human passions which breed war. A
frequently repeated saying of his was that there hardly ever existed such a
thing as a bad peace or a good war. "All Wars," he declared to Mrs. Mary
Hewson, after the establishment of peace between Great Britain and her
revolted colonies, "are Follies, very expensive, and very mischievous ones.
When will Mankind be convinced of this, and agree to settle their
Differences by Arbitration? Were they to do it, even by the Cast of a Dye,
it would be better than by Fighting and destroying each other."

     I join with you most cordially [he wrote six months
     later to Sir Joseph Banks] in rejoicing at the return
     of Peace. I hope it will be lasting, and that Mankind
     will at length, as they call themselves reasonable
     Creatures, have Reason and Sense enough to settle their
     Differences without cutting Throats; for, in my
     opinion, _there never was a good War, or a bad Peace_.
     What vast additions to the Conveniences and Comforts
     of Living might Mankind have acquired, if the Money
     spent in Wars had been employed in Works of public
     utility! What an extension of Agriculture, even to the
     Tops of our Mountains: what Rivers rendered navigable,
     or joined by Canals: what Bridges, Aqueducts, new
     Roads, and other public Works, Edifices, and
     Improvements, rendering England a compleat Paradise,
     might have been obtained by spending those Millions in
     doing good, which in the last War have been spent in
     doing Mischief; in bringing Misery into thousands of
     Families, and destroying the Lives of so many thousands
     of working people, who might have performed the useful

The same sentiments are repeated in a letter to David Hartley:

     What would you think of a proposition, if I sh'd make
     it, of a family compact between England, France and
     America? America wd be as happy as the Sabine Girls, if
     she cd be the means of uniting in perpetual peace her
     father and her husband. What repeated follies are these
     repeated wars! You do not want to conquer & govern one
     another. Why then sh'd you continually be employed in
     injuring & destroying one another? How many excellent
     things might have been done to promote the internal
     welfare of each country; What Bridges, roads, canals
     and other usefull public works & institutions, tending
     to the common felicity, might have been made and
     established with the money and men foolishly spent
     during the last seven centuries by our mad wars in
     doing one another mischief! You are near neighbors, and
     each have very respectable qualities. Learn to be quiet
     and to respect each other's rights. You are all
     Christians. One is _The Most Christian King_, and the
     other _Defender of the Faith_. Manifest the propriety
     of these titles by your future conduct. "By this," says
     Christ, "shall all men know that ye are my Disciples,
     if ye love one another." "Seek peace, and ensue it."

     We make daily great Improvements in _Natural_, there is
     one I wish to see in _Moral_ Philosophy [he wrote to
     Richard Price] the Discovery of a Plan, that would
     induce & oblige Nations to settle their Disputes
     without first Cutting one another's Throats. When will
     human Reason be sufficiently improv'd to see the
     Advantage of this!

The aspiration is again voiced in a letter to Joseph Priestley:

     The rapid Progress _true_ Science now makes, occasions
     my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is
     impossible to imagine the Height to which may be
     carried, in a thousand years, the Power of Man over
     Matter. We may perhaps learn to deprive large Masses of
     their Gravity, and give them absolute Levity, for the
     sake of easy Transport. Agriculture may diminish its
     Labour and double its Produce; all Diseases may by sure
     means be prevented or cured, not excepting even that of
     Old Age, and our Lives lengthened at pleasure even
     beyond the antediluvian Standard. O that moral Science
     were in as fair a way of Improvement, that Men would
     cease to be Wolves to one another, and that human
     Beings would at length learn what they now improperly
     call Humanity!

Mixed with Franklin's other feelings about war, as we have seen, was a
profound sense of its pecuniary wastefulness. It was the greediest of all
rat-holes, an agency of impoverishment worse even than the four specified
in Poor Richard's couplet,

    "Women and Wine, Game and Deceit,
    Make the Wealth small and the Wants great."

     When [he asked Benjamin Vaughan] will princes learn
     arithmetic enough to calculate, if they want pieces of
     one another's territory, how much cheaper it would be
     to buy them, than to make war for them, even though
     they were to give a hundred year's purchase? But, if
     glory cannot be valued, and therefore the wars for it
     cannot be subject to arithmetical calculation so as to
     show their advantage or disadvantage, at least wars for
     trade, which have gain for their object, may be proper
     subjects for such computation; and a trading nation, as
     well as a single trader, ought to calculate the
     probabilities of profit and loss, before engaging in
     any considerable adventure. This however nations
     seldom do, and we have had frequent instances of their
     spending more money in wars for acquiring or securing
     branches of commerce, than a hundred years' profit or
     the full enjoyment of them can compensate.

A celebrated philosophical writer, Franklin said in the _Propositions
Relative to Privateering_, which he communicated to Richard Oswald, had
remarked that, when he considered the destruction to human life, caused by
the slave trade, so intimately connected with the industry of the sugar
islands, he could scarce look on a morsel of sugar without conceiving it
spotted with human blood. If this writer, Franklin added, had considered
also the blood of one another which the white nations had shed in fighting
for these islands, "he would have imagined his sugar not as spotted only,
but as thoroughly dyed red." As for Franklin himself, he was satisfied that
the subjects of the Emperor of Germany and the Empress of Russia, who had
no sugar islands, consumed sugar cheaper at Vienna and Moscow, with all the
charge of transporting it after its arrival in Europe, than the citizens of
London or of Paris. "And I sincerely believe," he declared, "that if France
and England were to decide, by throwing dice, which should have the whole
of their sugar islands, the loser in the throw would be the gainer." The
future expense of defending the islands would be saved, the sugar would be
bought cheaper by all Europe, if the inhabitants of the islands might make
it without interruption, and, whoever imported it, the same revenue might
be raised by duties on it at the custom houses of the nation that consumed
it. "You know," Franklin observed in his famous letter to his daughter
Sally on the Order of the Cincinnati, "everything makes me recollect some
Story." As respects war, the inevitable story turned up in one of his
letters to Priestley:

     In what Light [he said] we are viewed by superior
     Beings, may be gathered from a Piece of late West India
     News, which possibly has not yet reached you. A young
     Angel of Distinction being sent down to this world on
     some Business, for the first time, had an old
     courier-spirit assigned him as a Guide. They arriv'd
     over the Seas of Martinico, in the middle of the long
     Day of obstinate Fight between the Fleets of Rodney and
     De Grasse. When, thro' the Clouds of smoke, he saw the
     Fire of the Guns, the Decks covered with mangled Limbs,
     and Bodies dead or dying; the ships sinking, burning,
     or blown into the Air; and the Quantity of Pain,
     Misery, and Destruction, the Crews yet alive were thus
     with so much Eagerness dealing round to one another; he
     turn'd angrily to his Guide, and said: "You blundering
     Blockhead, you are ignorant of your Business; you
     undertook to conduct me to the Earth, and you have
     brought me into Hell!" "No, sir," says the Guide, "I
     have made no mistake; this is really the Earth, and
     these are men. Devils never treat one another in this
     cruel manner; they have more Sense, and more of what
     Men (vainly) call _Humanity_."

But how little acrid misanthropy there was in this lurid story or in any of
the indignant utterances occasionally wrung from Franklin by the sanguinary
tendencies of the human race is clearly seen in this very letter; for,
after working up his story to its opprobrious climax, he falls back to the
genial level of his ordinary disposition:

     But to be serious, my dear old Friend [he adds], I love
     you as much as ever, and I love all the honest Souls
     that meet at the London Coffee-House. I only wonder how
     it happen'd that they and my other Friends in England
     came to be such good Creatures in the midst of so
     perverse a Generation. I long to see them and you once
     more, and I labour for Peace with more Earnestness,
     that I may again be happy in your sweet society.

The truth is that Franklin was no Timon of Athens, and no such thing as
lasting misanthropy could find lodgment in that earth-born and
earth-loving nature which fitted into the world as smoothly as its own
grass, its running water, or its fruitful plains. If for many generations
there has been any man, whose pronouncement, _Homo sum; humani nihil a me
alienum puto_, was capable of clothing that trite phrase with its original
freshness, this man was Franklin. The day, when the word went out in the
humble Milk Street dwelling of his father that another man child was born,
was a day that he never regretted; the long years of rational and useful
existence which followed he was willing, as has been told, to live all over
again, if he could only enjoy the author's privilege of correcting in the
second edition the _errata_ of the first; in his declining years he could
still find satisfaction in the fact that he was afflicted with only three
mortal diseases; and during his last twelve months, when he was confined
for the most part to his bed, and, in his paroxysms of pain, was obliged to
take large doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures, his fortitude was
such as to elicit this striking tribute from his physician, Dr. John Jones:

     In the intervals of pain, he not only amused himself
     with reading and conversing cheerfully with his family,
     and a few friends who visited him, but was 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 disposition of doing good,
     which was the distinguishing characteristic 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.

To the very last his wholesome, sunny spirit was proof against every morbid
trial. Dr. Jones tells us further that, even during his closing days, when
the severity of his pain drew forth a groan of complaint, he would observe
that he was afraid that he did not bear his sufferings as he ought,
acknowledged his grateful sense of the many blessings he had received from
that 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 to him.

It is plain enough that in practice as well as in precept to Franklin life
was ever a welcome gift to be enjoyed so long as corporeal infirmities
permit it to be enjoyed, and to be surrendered, when the ends of its
institution can no longer be fulfilled, as naturally as we surrender
consciousness when we turn into our warmer beds and give ourselves over to
our shorter slumbers. The spirit in which he lived is reflected in the
concluding paragraph of his _Articles of Belief_ in which, with the
refrain, "Good God, I thank thee!" at the end of every paragraph except the
last, and, with the words, "My Good God, I thank thee!" at the end of the
last, he expresses his gratitude to this God for peace and liberty, for
food and raiment, for corn and wine and milk and every kind of healthful
nourishment, for the common benefits of air and light, for useful fire and
delicious water, for knowledge and literature and every useful art, for his
friends and _their_ prosperity, and for the fewness of his enemies, for all
the innumerable benefits conferred on him by the Deity, for life and reason
and the use of speech, for health and joy and every pleasant hour. Those
thanks for his friends and _their_ prosperity was Franklin indeed at his
best. On the other hand, the spirit in which he regarded and met the hour
of his dissolution is vividly reflected in the lines written by him in his
seventy-ninth year:

    "If Life's compared to a Feast,
    Near Four-score Years I've been a Guest;
    I've been regaled with the best,
    And feel quite satisfyd.
    'Tis time that I retire to Rest;
    Landlord, I thank ye!--Friends, Good Night."

These lines, unsteady upon their poetic feet as they are like all of
Franklin's lines, may perhaps be pronounced the best that he ever wrote,
but they are not so good as his celebrated epitaph written many years
before when the hour at the inn of existence was not so late:

                  "The Body
          (Like the cover of an old book,
              Its contents torn out,
    And stript of its lettering and gilding,)
             Lies here, food for worms.
    Yet the work itself shall not be lost,
  For it will, as he believed, appear once more,
                    In a new
            And more beautiful edition,
              Corrected and amended
                   The Author."

So far as we can see, the only quarrel that Franklin had with existence was
that he was born too soon to witness many important human achievements,
which the future had in store. He was prepared to quit the world quietly
when he was duly summoned to do so. The artist who was to paint his
portrait for Yale College, he said a few days before his death to Ezra
Stiles, must not delay about it, as his subject might slip through his
fingers; but it was impossible for such an inquisitive man to repress the
wish that, after his decease, he might be permitted to revisit the globe
for the purpose of enjoying the inventions and improvements which had come
into existence during his absence: the locomotive, the steamship, the Morse
and Marconi telegraphs, the telephone, the autocar, the aeroplane, the
abolition of American slavery, Twentieth Century London, Paris and New

     I have been long impressed [he said in his eighty-third
     year to the Rev. John Lathrop] with the same sentiments
     you so well express, of the growing felicity of
     mankind, from the improvements in philosophy, morals,
     politics, and even the conveniences of common living,
     by the invention and acquisition of new and useful
     utensils and instruments, that I have sometimes almost
     wished it had been my destiny to be born two or three
     centuries hence. For invention and improvement are
     prolific, and beget more of their kind. The present
     progress is rapid. Many of great importance, now
     unthought of, will before that period be produced; and
     then I might not only enjoy their advantages, but have
     my curiosity gratified in knowing what they are to be.
     I see a little absurdity in what I have just written,
     but it is to a friend, who will wink and let it pass,
     while I mention one reason more for such a wish, which
     is, that, if the art of physic shall be improved in
     proportion with other arts, we may then be able to
     avoid diseases, and live as long as the patriarchs in
     Genesis; to which I suppose we should make little

Such complete adjustment to all the conditions of human existence, even the
harshest, as Franklin exhibited, would, under any circumstances, be an
admirable and inspiring thing; but it becomes still more so when we
recollect that he prized life mainly for the opportunity that it afforded
him to do good. To his own country he rendered services of priceless
importance, but it would be utterly misleading to think of him as anything
less--to use a much abused term of his time--than a Friend of Man.

    "Il est ...
    Surtout pour sa philanthropie,
    L'honneur de l'Amérique, et de l'humanité."

That was what one of his French eulogists sang, and that is what his
contemporaries generally felt, about him, and said of him with a thousand
and one different variations. It was the general belief of his age that his
enlightened intelligence and breadth of charity placed him upon a plateau
from which his vision ranged over the wants, the struggles and the
aberrations of his fellow beings everywhere, altogether unrefracted by
self-interest or national prejudices. He might have scores to settle with
Princes, Ministers, Parliaments or Priests, but for the race he had nothing
but light and love and compassion. To the poor he was the strong, shrewd,
wise man who had broken through the hard incrustations of his own poverty,
and preached sound counsels of prudence and thrift as general in their
application as the existence of human indigence and folly. To the liberal
aspirations of his century, he represented, to use his own figure, the
light which all the window-shutters of despotism and priest-craft were
powerless to shut out longer. To men of all kinds his benevolent interest
in so many different forms in the welfare and progress of human society,
his efforts to assuage the ferocity of war, the very rod, with which he
disarmed the fury of the storm-cloud, seemed to mark him as a benignant
being, widely removed by his sagacity and goodness from the short-sighted
and selfish princes and statesmen of his day whose thoughts and aims
appeared to be wholly centred upon intrigue and blood.

It was in perfect sincerity that Edmund Burke appealed to Franklin not only
as a friend but as the "lover of his species" to assist him in protecting
the parole of General Burgoyne. How well he knew the man may be inferred
from his declaration, when it was suggested that selfish considerations of
personal safety had brought Franklin to France. "I never can believe," he
said, "that he is come thither as a fugitive from his cause in the hour of
its distress, or that he is going to conclude a long life, which has
brightened every hour it has continued, with so foul and dishonorable

If Franklin is not mistaken, his career as a lover of his species can be
traced back to a very early circumstance. In one of his letters, in his old
age, to Samuel Mather, the descendant of Increase and Cotton Mather, he
states that a mutilated copy of Cotton Mather's _Essays to do Good_, which
fell in his way when he was a boy, had influenced his conduct through life,
and that, if he had been a useful citizen, the public was indebted for the
fact to this book. "I have always set a greater value on the character of a
_doer of good_, than on any other kind of reputation," he remarks in the
letter. "The noblest question in the world," said Poor Richard, "is what
good may I do in it." But, no matter how or when the chance seed was sown,
it fell upon ground eager to receive it. It was an observation of Franklin
that the quantity of good that may be done by one man, if he will make a
business of doing good, is prodigious. The saying in its various forms
presupposed the sacrifice of all studies, amusements and avocations. No
such self-immolation, it is needless to affirm, marked his versatile and
happy career, yet rarely has any single person, whose attention has been
engaged by other urgent business besides that of mankind, ever furnished
such a pointed example of the truth of the observation.

The first project of a public nature organized by him was the Junto, a
project of which he received the hint from the Neighborhood Benefit
Societies, established by Cotton Mather, who, it would be an egregious
error to suppose, did nothing in his life but hound hapless wretches to
death for witchcraft. The Junto founded by Franklin, when he was a
journeyman printer, about twenty-one years of age, was primarily an
association for mutual improvement. It met every Friday evening, and its
rules, which were drafted by him, required every member in turn to produce
one or more queries on some point of morals, politics or natural
philosophy, to be discussed by its members, and once every three months to
produce and read an essay of his own writing on any subject he pleased.
Under the regulations, the debates were to be conducted with a presiding
officer in the chair, and in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth
without fondness for dispute or desire for victory. Dogmatism and direct
contradiction were made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary
penalties. With a few rough strokes Franklin etches to the life in the
_Autobiography_ all the first members of the association. We linger just
now only on his portrait of Thomas Godfrey, "a self-taught mathematician,
great in his way, and afterward inventor of what is now called Hadley's
Quadrant. But he knew little out of his way, and was not a pleasing
companion; as, like most great mathematicians I have met with, he expected
universal precision in everything said, or was forever denying or
distinguishing upon trifles, to the disturbance of all conversation. He
soon left us." All of the first members except Robert Grace, a young
gentleman of some fortune, derived their livelihood from the simple
pursuits of a small provincial town, but all in one way or another were
under the spell exerted by a love of reading, or something else outside of
the dull treadmill of daily necessity. From the number of journeymen
mechanics in it the Junto came to be known in Philadelphia as the Leathern
Apron Club. An applicant for initiation had to stand up and declare, with
one hand laid upon his breast, that he had "no particular disrespect" for
any member of the Junto; that he loved mankind in general, of whatsoever
profession or religion; that he thought no person ought to be harmed in his
body, name or goods for mere speculative opinion, or for his external way
of worship, that he loved the truth for the truth's sake, and would
endeavor impartially to find and receive it, and communicate it to others.
In all this the spirit of Franklin is manifest enough.

Quite as manifest, too, is the spirit of Franklin in the twenty-four
standing queries which were read at every weekly meeting with "a pause
between each while one might fill and drink a glass of wine," and which
propounded the following interrogatories:

     Have you read over these queries this morning, in order
     to consider what you might have to offer the Junto
     touching any one of them viz:?

     1. Have you met with anything in the author you last
     read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the
     Junto, particularly in history, morality, poetry,
     physic, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of

     2. What new story have you lately heard agreeable for
     telling in conversation?

     3. Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his
     business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?

     4. Have you lately heard of any citizen's thriving
     well, and by what means?

     5. Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here
     or elsewhere, got his estate?

     6. Do you know of a fellow-citizen, who has lately done
     a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation; or who
     has lately committed an error, proper for us to be
     warned against and avoid?

     7. What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately
     observed or heard; of imprudence, of passion, or of any
     other vice or folly?

     8. What happy effects of temperance, prudence, of
     moderation, or of any other virtue?

     9. Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately
     sick or wounded? if so, what remedies were used, and
     what were their effects?

     10. Whom do you know that are shortly going voyages or
     journeys, if one should have occasion to send by them?

     11. Do you think of anything at present, in which the
     Junto may be serviceable to _mankind_, to their
     country, to their friends, or to themselves?

     12. Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since
     last meeting, that you have heard of?; and what have
     you heard or observed of his character or merits?; and
     whether, think you, it lies in the power of the Junto
     to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?

     13. Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately
     set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto anyway
     to encourage?

     14. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of
     your _country_, of which it would be proper to move the
     legislature for an amendment?; or do you know of any
     beneficial law that is wanting?

     15. Have you lately observed any encroachment on the
     just liberties of the people?

     16. Hath anybody attacked your reputation lately?; and
     what can the Junto do towards securing it?

     17. Is there any man whose friendship you want, and
     which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?

     18. Have you lately heard any member's character
     attacked, and how have you defended it?

     19. Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the
     power of the Junto to procure redress?

     20. In what manner can the Junto or any of them, assist
     you in any of your honorable designs?

     21. Have you any weighty affair on hand in which you
     think the advice of the Junto may be of service?

     22. What benefits have you lately received from any man
     not present?

     23. Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of
     justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have
     discussed at this time?

     24. Do you see anything amiss in the present customs or
     proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?

These queries render it obvious that the Junto in actual operation far
transcended the scope of a mere association for mutual improvement. Such a
strong desire was entertained by its members to bring their friends into it
that Franklin finally suggested that each member should organize a separate
club, secretly subordinate to the parent body, and in this way help to
extend the sphere of the Junto's usefulness; and this suggestion was
followed by the formation of five or six such clubs with such names as the
Vine, the Union and the Band, which, as time went on, became centres of
agitation for the promotion of public aims.

Cotton Mather would scarcely have regarded a club with such liberal
principles as the Junto as an improvement upon its prototype, the
Neighborhood Benefit Society. But, between the answers to the standing
queries of the Junto, its essays, its debates, the declamations, which were
also features of its exercises, the jolly songs sung at its annual meeting,
and its monthly meetings during mild weather "across the river for bodily
exercise," it must have been an agreeable and instructive club indeed. It
lasted nearly forty years, and "was," Franklin claims in the
_Autobiography_, "the best school of philosophy, morality and politics that
then existed in the province." A book, in which he entered memoranda of
various kinds in regard to it, shows that he followed its proceedings with
the keenest interest.

     Is self interest the rudder that steers mankind?; can a
     man arrive at perfection in this life?; does it not, in
     a general way, require great study and intense
     application for a poor man to become rich and powerful,
     if he would do it without the forfeiture of his
     honesty?; why does the flame of a candle tend upward in
     a spire?; whence comes the dew that stands on the
     outside of a tankard that has cold water in it in the
     summer time?

--such are some of the questions, thoroughly racy of Franklin in his youth,
which are shown by this book to have been framed by him for the Junto.
After the association had been under way for a time, he suggested that all
the books, owned by its members, should be assembled at the room, in which
its meetings were held, for convenience of reference in discussion, and so
that each member might have the benefit of the volumes belonging to every
other member almost as fully as if they belonged to himself. The suggestion
was assented to, and one end of the room was filled with such books as the
members could spare; but the arrangement did not work well in practice and
was soon abandoned.

No sooner, however, did this idea die down than another shot up from its
stump. This was the subscription library, now the Philadelphia City
Library, founded by Franklin. In the _Autobiography_, he speaks of this
library as his first project of a public nature; but it seems to us, as we
have already said, that the distinction fairly belongs to the Junto. He
brought the project to the attention of the public through formal articles
of association, and, by earnest efforts in an unlettered community, which,
moreover, had little money to spare for any such enterprise, induced fifty
persons, mostly young tradesmen, to subscribe forty shillings each as a
contribution to a foundation fund for the first purchase of books, and ten
shillings more annually as a contribution for additional volumes. Later,
the association was incorporated. It was while soliciting subscriptions at
this time that Franklin was taught by the objections or reserve with which
his approaches were met the "impropriety of presenting one's self as the
proposer of any useful project, that might be suppos'd to raise one's
reputation in the smallest degree above that of one's neighbors, when one
has need of their assistance to accomplish that project." He, therefore,
kept out of sight as much as possible, and represented the scheme as that
of a number of friends who had requested him to submit it to such persons
as they thought lovers of reading. This kind of self effacement was
attended with such happy consequences that he never failed to adopt it
subsequently upon similar occasions. From his successful experience, he
says in the _Autobiography_, he could heartily recommend it. "The present
little sacrifice of your vanity," to use his own words, "will afterwards be
amply repaid. If it remains a while uncertain to whom the merit belongs,
some one more vain than yourself will be encouraged to claim it, and then
even envy will be disposed to do you justice by plucking those assumed
feathers, and restoring them to their right owner." Alexander Wedderburn's
famous philippic, of which we shall have something to say further on, did
not consist altogether of misapplied adjectives. Franklin _was_ at times
the "wily American," but usually for the purpose of improving the condition
of his fellow creatures in spite of themselves.

The library, once established, grew apace. From time to time, huge folios
and quartos were added to it by purchase or donation, from which nobody
profited more than Franklin himself with his insatiable avidity for
knowledge. The first purchase of books for it was made by Peter Collinson
of London, who threw in with the purchase as presents from himself Newton's
_Principia_ and the _Gardener's Dictionary_, and continued for thirty years
to act as the purchasing agent of the institution, accompanying each
additional purchase with additional presents from himself. Evidence is not
wanting that the first arrival of books was awaited with eager expectancy.
Among Franklin's memoranda with regard to the Junto we find the following:
"When the books of the library come, every member shall undertake some
author, that he may not be without observations to communicate." When the
books finally came, they were placed in the assembly room of the Junto; a
librarian was selected, and the library was thrown open once a week for the
distribution of books. The second year Franklin himself acted as librarian,
and for printing a catalogue of the first books shortly after their
arrival, and for other printing services, he was exempted from the payment
of his annual ten shillings for two years.

Among the numerous donations of money, books and curiosities made to the
library, were gifts of books and electrical apparatus by Thomas Penn, and
the gift of an electrical tube, with directions for its use, by Peter
Collinson, which proved of incalculable value to science in the hands of
Franklin who promptly turned it to experimental purposes. When Peter Kalm,
the Swedish naturalist, was in Philadelphia in 1748, "many little
libraries," organized on the same plan as the original library, had sprung
from it. Non-subscribers were then allowed to take books out of it, subject
to pledges of indemnity sufficient to cover their value, and to the payment
for the use of a folio of eight pence a week, for the use of a quarto of
six pence, and for the use of any other book of four pence. Kalm, as a
distinguished stranger, was allowed the use of any book in the collection
free of charge. In 1764, the shares of the library company were worth
nearly twenty pounds, and its collections were then believed to have a
value of seventeen hundred pounds. In 1785, the number of volumes was 5487;
in 1807, 14,457; in 1861, 70,000; and in 1912, 237,677. After overflowing
more contracted quarters, the contents of the library have finally found a
home in a handsome building at the northwest corner of Locust and Juniper
Streets and in the Ridgway Branch Building at the corner of Broad and
Christian Streets. But, never, it is safe to say, will this library,
enlarged and efficiently administered as it is, perform such an invaluable
service as it did in its earlier years. "This," Franklin declares in the
_Autobiography_, "was the mother of all the North American subscription
libraries, now so numerous. It is become a great thing itself, and
continually increasing. These libraries have improved the general
conversation of the Americans, made the common tradesmen and farmers as
intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have
contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the
colonies in defence of their privileges."

Franklin next turned his attention to the reform of the city watch. Under
the existing system, it was supervised by the different constables of the
different wards of Philadelphia in turn. The Dogberry in charge would warn
a number of householders to attend him for the night. Such householders as
desired to be wholly exempt from the service could secure exemption by
paying him six shillings a year, which was supposed to be expended by him
in hiring substitutes, but the fund accumulated in this way was much more
than was necessary for the purpose and rendered the constableship a
position of profit. Often the ragamuffins gathered up by a constable as his
aids were quite willing to act as such for no reward except a little drink.
The consequence was that his underlings were for the most part tippling
when they should have been moving around on their beats. Altogether, they
seem to have been men who would not have been slow to heed the older
Dogberry's advice to his watchmen that, if one of them bid a vagrom man
stand, and he did not stand, to take no note of him, but to let him go, and
presently call the rest of the watch together and thank God that he was rid
of a knave.

To this situation Franklin addressed himself by writing a paper for the
Junto, not only setting forth the abuses of the existing system but
insisting upon its injustice in imposing the same six shilling tax upon a
poor widow, whose whole property to be guarded by the watch did not perhaps
exceed the value of fifty pounds, as upon the wealthiest merchant who had
thousands of pounds' worth of goods in his stores. His proposal was the
creation of a permanent paid police to be maintained by an equal,
proportional property tax. The idea was duly approved by the Junto, and
communicated to its affiliated clubs, as if it had arisen in each of them,
and, though it was not immediately carried into execution, yet the popular
agitation, which ensued over it, paved the way for a law providing for it
which was enacted a few years afterwards, when the Junto and the other
clubs had acquired more popular influence.

About the same time, the same indefatigable propagandist wrote for the
Junto a paper, which was subsequently published, on the different accidents
and defaults by which houses were set on fire, with warnings against them,
and suggestions as to how they might be averted. There was much public talk
about it, and a company of thirty persons was soon formed, under the name
of the Union Fire Company, for the purpose of more effectively
extinguishing fires, and removing and protecting goods endangered by them.
Under its articles of agreement, every member was obliged to keep always in
good order, and fit for use, a certain number of leather buckets, with
strong bags and baskets for transporting goods, which were to be brought to
every fire; and it was further agreed that the members of the company were
to meet once a month and spend a social evening together in the discussion
and interchange of such useful ideas as occurred to them upon the subject
of fires. The formation of this company led to the formation of one company
after another until the associations became so numerous as to include most
of the inhabitants of Philadelphia who were men of property. It was still
flourishing more than fifty years after its establishment, when its history
was narrated in the _Autobiography_, and Franklin and one other person, a
year older than himself, were the only survivors of its original members.
The small fines, paid by its members as penalties for absence from its
monthly meetings, had been used to such advantage in the purchase of
fire-engines, ladders, fire-hooks and other useful implements for the
different companies that Franklin then questioned whether there was a city
in the world better provided than Philadelphia with the means for
repressing incipient conflagrations. Indeed, he said, since the
establishment of these companies, the city had never lost by fire more than
one or two houses at a time; and often flames were extinguished before the
house they threatened had been half consumed.

"Ideas will string themselves like Ropes of Onions," Franklin once
declared. This was certainly true of the plans which his public spirit
devised for the improvement of Philadelphia. The next thing to which his
hand was turned was the creation of an academy. In 1743, he drew up a
proposal for one, but, being disappointed in his efforts to persuade the
Reverend Mr. Peters to act as its head, he let the project lie dormant for
a time. While it remained so, remembering Poor Richard's maxim that leisure
is time for doing something useful, he passed to the organization of a
system of military defenses for the Province and the founding of a
Philosophical Society. Of the former task we shall speak hereafter. The
latter was initiated by a circular letter from him to his various learned
friends in the Northern Colonies, proposing the formation of a society for
the purpose of promoting a commerce of speculation, discovery and
experimentation between its members with regard to scientific interests of
every sort. A correspondence with the Royal Society of London and the
Dublin Society and "all philosophical experiments that let light into the
nature of things, tend to increase the power of man over matter, and
multiply the conveniences or pleasures of life" were among the things held
out in the proposal. Colonial America was far more favorable to practical
activity than to philosophical investigation, but the society,
nevertheless, performed an office of no little usefulness. When Franklin
built a new wing to his residence in Philadelphia, after his return from
Paris, he provided a large apartment on the first floor of this addition
for the accommodation of the American Philosophical Society into which this
Society had been merged. When he made his will, he was the President of the
new society, and he bequeathed to it his _History of the Academy of
Sciences_, in sixty or seventy volumes quarto; and, when he died, one of
its members, Dr. William Smith, pronounced an eulogy upon his character and
services. The wing of his house, in which space was set apart for the
society, was itself, in its precautions against fire, one worthy of a
vigilant and enlightened philosopher. None of the woodwork of one room, for
instance, communicated with the woodwork of any other. Franklin thought,
however, that the staircases should have been of stone, and the floors
tiled as in Paris; and that the roof should have been either tiled or

When the Philosophical Society of his early life had been founded, and the
restoration of peace between Great Britain and her enemies had diverted his
mind from his plans for the military protection of Philadelphia, he turned
again to the slumbering Academy. His first step was to secure the
assistance of a considerable number of active friends, of whom the Junto
furnished a good part, and his next to write and publish a pamphlet
entitled _Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania_. In
this pamphlet he was careful, as usual, to bring his aim forward rather as
that of a group of public-spirited gentlemen than of himself. It was
distributed gratuitously among the most prominent citizens of Philadelphia,
and, as soon as he thought that their minds had been reduced to a receptive
condition by its appeal, he solicited subscriptions for the establishment
and maintenance of the Academy, payable in five annual instalments. Four
thousand pounds were subscribed, and Franklin and Tench Francis, the
attorney-general of the province, and the uncle of Sir Philip Francis, of
Junius fame, were appointed by the subscribers to draw up a constitution
for the government of the foundation. This was drafted and signed; a house
was hired, masters were engaged, and the institution was promptly opened.
So fast did the scholars increase that need was soon felt for a larger
school-edifice. This was happily found in the great building which had
sprung up at the sound of Whitefield's voice as if at the sound of
Amphion's lyre. By an arrangement between the Trustees for the building, of
whom Franklin was one, and the Trustees for the Academy, of whom Franklin
was also one, the building was deeded to the latter Trustees, upon the
condition that they would discharge the indebtedness with which it was
burdened, keep forever open in it a large hall for occasional preachers,
according to the original intent of its builders, and maintain a free
school for the instruction of poor children. With some internal changes,
and the purchase of an addition to its site, the edifice was soon, under
the superintendence of Franklin, made ready for the use of the Academy.
Afterwards, the Trustees for the Academy were incorporated, and the
institution received various donations from British friends, the
Proprietaries and the Provincial Assembly, and, finally, grew into the
University of Pennsylvania. Franklin was one of its Trustees for more than
forty years, and had, he says in the _Autobiography_, the very great
pleasure of seeing a number of the youth, who had received their education
in it, distinguished by their improved abilities, serviceable in public
stations and ornaments to their country.

In none of his creations did Franklin display a keener interest than in the
Academy. From its inception until he embarked upon his second voyage to
England, his correspondence contains frequent references to it. One of his
most earnest desires was to secure the celebrated Episcopal clergyman, Dr.
Samuel Johnson, of Connecticut, afterwards the president of King's College,
New York, as its Rector. A salary of one hundred pounds sterling per annum,
the opportunity to deliver a lecture now and then in the large hall, set
apart for what might in our day be called "tramp" preachers, until he could
collect a congregation strong enough to build him a church, the usual
marriage and christening fees, paid by persons of the best social standing,
the occasional presents bestowed by wealthy individuals upon a minister of
their liking, and the opening that, as time went on, the change of
residence might afford to his son, who in the beginning might be employed
as a tutor at a salary of sixty or seventy pounds per annum, were the
allurements with which the reverend doctor was approached by Franklin. To
the doctor's objection that another Episcopal church in Philadelphia might
sap the strength of the existing one, the resourceful tempter replied with
the illustration, which has been so much admired:

     I had for several years nailed against the wall of my
     house a pigeon-box, that would hold six pair; and,
     though they bred as fast as my neighbours' pigeons, I
     never had more than six pair, the old and strong
     driving out the young and weak, and obliging them to
     seek new habitations. At length I put up an additional
     box with apartments for entertaining twelve pair more;
     and it was soon filled with inhabitants, by the
     overflowing of my first box, and of others in the
     neighbourhood. This I take to be a parallel case with
     the building a new church here.

In spite of everything, however, Doctor Johnson proved obdurate to
Franklin's coaxing pen.

The Academy was opened in 1749. In a letter to Jared Eliot in 1751,
Franklin informs us that the annual salaries paid by it were as follows:
The Rector, who taught Latin and Greek, two hundred pounds, the English
Master, one hundred and fifty pounds, the Mathematical Professor, one
hundred and twenty-five pounds, and three assistant tutors each, sixty
pounds. The annual fee paid by each pupil was four pounds. With one of the
persons who did act as Rector, Franklin seems to have been on intimate
terms. This was David Martin, who, after a brief incumbency, died suddenly
of a quinsy, and was buried in much state. In a letter to William Strahan,
Franklin speaks of him as "Honest David Martin,... my principal Antagonist
at Chess." Vice-Provost at one time was Francis Alison, whom Franklin in a
letter to Jared Eliot in 1755 introduced as his "particular friend," and
twenty or more folio pages, large paper, well filled on the subjects of
Agriculture, Philosophy, Eliot's own Catholic Divinity and various other
points of learning equally useful and engaging. With still another Rector,
Dr. William Smith, Franklin's relations were at first very friendly, but
afterwards, when Smith espoused the cause of the Proprietary Party and
began to abuse Franklin unstintedly, became so constrained that the two
ceased to be on speaking terms. In an early letter to Smith, before Smith
became Rector, Franklin said that he should be extremely glad to see and
converse with him in Philadelphia, and to correspond with him after he
settled in England; "for," he observed, "an acquaintance and communication
with men of learning, virtue, and public spirit, is one of my greatest
enjoyments." In the same letter, Franklin stated that the mathematical
school was pretty well furnished with instruments, and that the English
library was a good one, and included a middling apparatus for experimental
philosophy, which they purposed to complete speedily. The library left by
James Logan, the accomplished Quaker, to the public, "one of the best
collections in America," in the opinion of Franklin, was also shortly to be
opened. Indeed, Franklin was in hopes, he further declared, that in a few
years they would see a perfect institution. In another letter to Smith,
written a few days later, he said in reference to a paper on _The Ideal
College of Mirania_ written by Smith, "For my part, I know not when I have
read a piece that has more affected me; so noble and just are the
sentiments, so warm and animated the language." He was too frank a man,
however, not to express the wish that the author had omitted from this
performance certain reflections upon the discipline and government of
Oxford and Cambridge Universities and certain outbreaks of resentment
against the author's adversaries. "In such cases," he remarked, "the
noblest victory is obtained by neglect, and by shining on." He little knew
how soon he would be called upon to reck his own rede. A few years later,
Franklin thanks Whitefield for a generous benefaction to the German school.
"They go on pretty well," he writes, "and will do better," he adds dryly,
in terms which make it apparent enough that the honeymoon of early
prepossession was over, "when Mr. Smith, who has at present the principal
Care of them, shall learn to mind Party-writing and Party Politicks less,
and his proper Business more; which I hope time will bring about." In the
succeeding November he was not even on speaking terms with Smith. This fact
was communicated by him to Peter Collinson in a letter with this statement
about Smith: "He has scribbled himself into universal Dislike here; the
Proprietary Faction alone countenances him a little; but the Academy
dwindles, and will come to nothing if he is continued." A few weeks later
in another letter to Collinson the case against Smith is stated more
specifically: "Smith continues still in the Academy; but I imagine will not
much longer, unless he mends his Manners greatly, for the Schools decline
on his Account. The Number of Scholars, at present, that pay, not exceeding
118, tho' they formerly were 200." From a letter to David Hall, written by
Franklin during his second sojourn in England, it would appear that Smith
was quicker to pay off debts of resentment than any other kind. In this
letter the writer tells Hall that Osborne, the London bookseller, had asked
him whether he would be safe in selling to Smith "a large Cargo of Books,"
and that he had told Osborne that he believed that his "Townsmen who were
Smith's Creditors would be glad to see him come back with a Cargo of any
kind, as they might have some Chance of being paid out of it." Smith on his
part did not fail to do all in his power to keep Franklin from shining on.
In a letter to Caleb Whitefoord shortly after his second return from
England in 1762, Franklin borrowed a phrase from a line in _The New
Foundling Hospital for Wit_. "The Piece from your own Pencil," he said, "is
acknowledg'd to bear a strong and striking Likeness, but it is otherwise
such a picture of your Friend, as Dr. Smith would have drawn, _black, and
all black_." But when it comes to what Franklin in the _Autobiography_
calls "negrofying," he, though he had very little inclination for that kind
of competition, was no mean artist himself, if it was an antagonist like
Smith upon whose face the pigment was to be laid.

     I do not wonder at the behaviour you mention of Dr.
     Smith towards me [he wrote to Polly Stevenson], for I
     have long since known him thoroughly. I made that Man
     my Enemy by doing him too much Kindness. 'Tis the
     honestest Way of acquiring an Enemy. And, since 'tis
     convenient to have at least one Enemy, who by his
     Readiness to revile one on all Occasions, may make one
     careful of one's Conduct, I shall keep him an Enemy for
     that purpose; and shall observe your good Mother's
     Advice, never again to receive him as a Friend. She
     once admir'd the benevolent Spirit breath'd in his
     Sermons. She will now see the Justness of the Lines
     your Laureate Whitehead addresses to his Poets, and
     which I now address to her:

    "Full many a peevish, envious, slanderous Elf
    Is, in his Works, Benevolence itself.
    For all Mankind, unknown, his Bosom heaves;
    He only injures those, with whom he lives,
    Read then the Man;--does _Truth_ his Actions guide,
    Exempt from _Petulance_, exempt from _Pride_?
    To social Duties does his Heart attend,
    As Son, as Father, Husband, Brother, _Friend_?
    _Do those, who know him, love him?_ If they do,
    You've _my_ Permission: you may love him too."

Several months later some observations upon the character of Doctor Smith,
equally emphatic, found their way into a letter from Franklin to William
Strahan. "Dr. Kelly in his Letter," he said in regard to a letter to
Strahan in which Dr. Kelly, a fellow of the Royal Society, had indicated
very plainly what he thought of Dr. Smith, "appears the same sensible,
worthy, friendly Man I ever found him; and Smith, as usual, just his
Reverse.--I have done with him: For I believe nobody here (Philadelphia)
will prevail with me to give him another Meeting." In his preface to the
speech of Joseph Galloway, Franklin even refers to Smith as "the Poisoner
of other Characters." In one of his letters William Franklin referred to
him as "that Miscreant Parson Smith." An obscure, or comparatively obscure,
person, who is so unfortunate as to have a feud with a great man, is
likely to experience some difficulty in obtaining justice at the hands of
Posterity which is always ready to retain any number of clever brushes to
whitewash the latter and to smear a black coat over the former. But it must
be admitted that anyone who quarrelled with such a social, genial,
well-balanced being as Franklin cannot hope to escape a very strong
presumption that the fault was his own. There is evidence, at any rate,
that, on one occasion, when Smith was in England, and had written a letter
to Dr. Fry, the President of St. John's College, Oxford, in which Franklin
was aspersed, the latter was induced to meet him at Strahan's house, and
succeeded in drawing from him, after the letter to Dr. Fry had been read
over, paragraph by paragraph, an acknowledgment that it contained many
particulars in which the writer had been misled by wrong information, and
that the whole was written with too much rancor and asperity. Indeed, Smith
even promised that he would write to Dr. Fry admitting the respects in
which his statements were false; but, when pressed by Strahan to write this
letter on the spot, he declined to do so, though stating that he would call
upon Strahan in a day or so and show it to him before it was sent; which he
never did. On the contrary, when subsequently questioned at Oxford
concerning his promise to write such a letter, he "denied the whole, & even
treated the question as a Calumny." So wrote Dr. Kelly to Strahan in the
letter already mentioned by us. "I make no other comment on this
behaviour," said Dr. Kelly further, "than in considering him (Smith)
extremely unworthy of the Honour, he has received, from our University."
The fact that, despite all this, at Franklin's death, Dr. Smith, at the
request of the American Philosophical Society, made Franklin's character
and career the subject of an eulogistic address is certainly calculated to
induce us all to unite in the prayer of Franklin in his _Articles of
Belief_ to be delivered from "Anger (that momentary Madness)."

Dr. Smith proved to be one fly in the Academy gallipot. The other was the
extent to which the Latin School was pampered at the expense of the English
School which was very close to the heart of Franklin. Its insidious
encroachments steadily went on until finally the English School scarcely
had a foothold in the institution at all. The result was that in 1769 it
had been reduced from its first flourishing condition, when, if Franklin
may be believed, the Academy was attended by some little boys under seven,
who could deliver an oration with more propriety than most preachers, to a
state of bare sufferance. The exercises in English reading and speaking,
once the delight of the Trustees and of the parents and other relations of
the boys, when these boys were trained by Mr. Dove, the English Master,
with all the different modulations of voice required by sense and subject,
languished after his resignation on account of his meagre salary, and at
length, under the blighting neglect of the Trustees, were wholly
discontinued. The English school, to use Franklin's forcible expression,
was simply starved.

All this was set forth in a long, dignified and able remonstrance which he
wrote in nearly his best manner some ten months before his death when his
body was racked at times by excruciating pains. In this paper, he narrated
with uncommon clearness and skill the gradual succession of influences and
events by which the English School had been reduced to a condition of
atrophy, and contended that the intentions of the founders of the Academy
had been ruthlessly and unconscionably abused. When we recall the circular
letter in which he proposed the establishment of the Academy and the fact
that it is by no means lacking in deference to the dead languages, which
still held the human mind in bondage so firmly, we cannot but feel that the
founders of the Academy were not quite so alive to the supreme importance
of the English School as Franklin would make out. The truth was that a long
time was yet to elapse before the minds of educated men could become
emancipated enough to see that a living language, which they are using
every day, is quite as worthy of consideration, to say the least, as one
which fulfills its highest function in perfecting that use with its own
rare discipline, strength and beauty. Franklin saw this before most men of
his time, first, because his own lack of academic training saved him from
many of the narrowing effects of tradition and routine, and, secondly,
because it was idle to expect any but a severely practical view of the
relative importance of the dead languages and English from a man who did
not shrink from even testing the readiness of the public mind to give its
assent to radical alterations in the Lord's Prayer and the Episcopal Prayer
Book. Be this as it may, Franklin did not hesitate in this paper to express
in the strongest terms his sense of the inutility of Latin and Greek as
parts of the course of instruction at the Academy, and, of course, a
picturesque illustration of his proposition was duly forthcoming.

     At what Time [he said], Hats were first introduced we
     know not, but in the last Century they were universally
     worn thro'-out Europe. Gradually, however, as the
     Wearing of Wigs, and Hair nicely dress'd prevailed, the
     putting on of Hats was disused by genteel People, lest
     the curious Arrangements of the Curls and Powdering
     should be disordered; and Umbrellas began to supply
     their Place; yet still our Considering the Hat as a
     part of Dress continues so far to prevail, that a Man
     of fashion is not thought dress'd without having one,
     or something like one, about him, which he carries
     under his Arm. So that there are a multitude of the
     politer people in all the courts and capital cities of
     Europe, who have never, nor their fathers before them,
     worn a hat otherwise than as a _chapeau_ bras, though
     the utility of such a mode of wearing it is by no means
     apparent, and it is attended not only with some
     expense, but with a degree of constant trouble.

     The still prevailing custom of having schools for
     teaching generally our children in these days, the
     Latin and Greek languages, I consider therefore, in no
     other light than as the _Chapeau bras_ of modern

Poor Richard had his word to say about the man who "was so learned, that he
could name a horse in nine languages: so ignorant that he bought a cow to
ride on."

This, however, was not the spirit in which Franklin sought to recruit the
deficiencies of his own education--an effort which proved so
extraordinarily successful that we are inclined to think that in the
pedagogic insight as well as extensive knowledge, disclosed in the circular
letter proposing the establishment of the Academy, the "Idea of the English
School Sketch'd Out For The Consideration Of The Trustees Of The
Philadelphia Academy," and "The Observations Relative To The Intentions Of
The Original Founders Of The Academy In Philadelphia" we have the most
striking proofs after all of the natural power and assimilative capacity of
a mind which, be it recollected, never had any teacher but itself after its
possessor became ten years of age.

In the _Autobiography_ we are told by Franklin that he was unable to
remember when he could not read, that he was sent to the grammar school in
Boston when he was eight years of age, that, after he had been at this
school for not quite one year, though in that time he had become the head
of his class, and had even been advanced to the next class above it,[12] he
was shifted by his father to a school for writing and arithmetic in Boston,
kept by a then famous man, Mr. George Brownell; that under Brownell he
acquired fair writing pretty soon, but made no progress in arithmetic, and
that, at ten years of age, he was taken home to assist his father in his
business as a tallow chandler and soap boiler. Such was all the education
except what was self-imparted that the founder of the University of
Pennsylvania had to draw upon when he outlined the future courses of
instruction of the Academy.

But this self-imparted education was no mean one. Putting altogether out of
sight the general reading to which during a large part of his youth
Franklin devoted every moment left him by his duties, when he was about
sixteen years of age, having been made ashamed on some occasion of his
ignorance of figures, he went through the whole of Cocker's _Arithmetic_ by
himself with the greatest ease, and followed the feat up by acquainting
himself with such little geometry as was contained in Seller's and Shermy's
books on Navigation. Some ten or eleven years later, he renewed the study
of languages; for, short as was his connection with the Boston grammar
school, he had obtained from it some knowledge of Latin. He quickly
mastered French, so far as to be able to read French books with facility.
Italian he learned by refusing to play chess with a friend who was also
learning it, except upon the condition that the victor in every game was to
have the right to impose upon his defeated adversary tasks in Italian which
the latter was to be bound in point of honor to perform before the next
bout. "As we play'd pretty equally," says Franklin, "we thus beat one
another into that language." With a little painstaking, he afterwards
acquired enough Spanish to read Spanish books too. Then it was that, after
acquiring this knowledge of French, Italian and Spanish, he was surprised
to find on looking over a Latin testament that he had so much more
familiarity with Latin than he imagined. This encouraged him to apply
himself to that language again, which he did with the more success, now
that the three modern languages had smoothed his way.

     From these circumstances [he observes in the
     _Autobiography_], I have thought that there is some
     inconsistency in our common mode of teaching languages.
     We are told that it is proper to begin first with the
     Latin, and, having acquir'd that, it will be more easy
     to attain those modern languages which are deriv'd from
     it; and yet we do not begin with the Greek, in order
     more easily to acquire the Latin. It is true that, if
     you can clamber and get to the top of a staircase
     without using the steps, you will more easily gain them
     in descending; but certainly, if you begin with the
     lowest you will with more ease ascend to the top; and I
     would, therefore offer it to the consideration of those
     who superintend the education of our youth, whether
     since many of those who begin with the Latin quit the
     same after spending some years without having made any
     great proficiency, and what they have learnt becomes
     almost useless, so that their time has been lost, it
     would not have been better to have begun with the
     French, proceeding to the Italian, etc.; for, tho',
     after spending the same time, they should quit the
     study of languages and never arrive at the Latin, they
     would, however, have acquired another tongue or two,
     that, being in modern use, might be serviceable to them
     in common life.

Even if some design for the benefit of the public did not originate with
Franklin, it was likely to fall back ultimately upon him for success. When
Dr. Thomas Bond undertook to establish a hospital in Philadelphia, he was
compelled by the chariness with which his requests for subscriptions were
received, before it was known how Franklin felt about the project, to come
to Franklin with the admission that he had found that to put any such
public project through in Philadelphia it was necessary to enlist his
support. The response was not only a subscription by Franklin but also the
inevitable appeal from his hand, pointing out the need for the hospital.
After a stroke from that wand, the rock began to yield water more
abundantly, but not so copiously that Franklin did not see that legislative
aid was necessary as well as private liberality. The country voters, as is
usual still in such cases in America, were inclined to think that the
townsfolk were enjoying more than their just share of the blessings of
civil society. They alleged that the hospital would be of exclusive benefit
to the city, and even doubted whether the movement met with the general
approval of the townsfolk themselves. Franklin's claim that two thousand
pounds would be raised by voluntary subscriptions they regarded as highly
extravagant. This was cue enough for his quick wit. A bill was introduced
by him into the General Assembly providing that, when the private
contributors had organized under the charter granted by it, and had raised
two thousand pounds by voluntary subscription, for the free maintenance of
the sick poor in the hospital, then the Speaker, upon that fact being
certified to his satisfaction, should draw his warrant on the Treasurer of
the Province for the payment of two thousand pounds, in two yearly
payments, to the treasurer of the hospital, to be applied to its
establishment. With the lubricant supplied by this timely condition, the
bill slid smoothly down all the legislative grooves. Even the sincerest
support of a good legislative measure is not more ardent to all appearances
than the specious support sometimes given to such a measure by a member of
the Legislature who is opposed to it but sees, or thinks he sees, that it
will never become a law, even though he should vote for it. The opponents
of Franklin's bill, conceiving that they had a chance to acquire the credit
of generosity without paying the pecuniary penalty, agreed to its
enactment, and, on the other hand, the condition, by affording to private
subscribers the prospect of having their contributions practically doubled
from the public purse, furnished them with an additional motive to give.
The private contributions even exceeded the sum fixed by the condition, and
the credit with which the legislative adversaries of the bill had to
content themselves was not that of deceitful but of real bounty. "I do not
remember any of my political manoeuvres," Franklin complacently declares
in the _Autobiography_, "the success of which gave me at the time more
pleasure, or wherein, after thinking of it, I more easily excus'd myself
for having made some use of cunning." We experience no difficulty in
condoning this cunning when we realize that its fruit was the Pennsylvania
Hospital, which, after many years of rare usefulness, is still one of the
chief institutions of Philadelphia. It is gratifying to feel that its
history has not been unworthy of the admirable inscription which Franklin
wrote for its corner-stone:

     In the year of Christ MDCCLV, George the Second happily
     reigning (for he sought the happiness of his people),
     Philadelphia flourishing (for its inhabitants were
     public spirited), this building, by the bounty of the
     government, and of many private persons, was piously
     founded for the relief of the sick and miserable. May
     the God of Mercies bless the undertaking.

The Reverend Gilbert Tennent, one of whose sermons caused Whitefield to
say, "Never before heard I such a searching sermon; he is a son of thunder,
and does not regard the face of man," was not so fortunate as Dr. Bond when
he asked Franklin to assist him in obtaining subscriptions for the erection
of a new meeting-house in Philadelphia, for the use of a congregation drawn
from among the Presbyterians, who were originally disciples of Whitefield.
Franklin says that he absolutely refused to do so because he was unwilling
to make himself disagreeable to his fellow-citizens by soliciting
contributions from them too frequently. The truth in part, we suspect, was
that his zealous interest was not easily excited in any meeting-house where
even a missionary sent by the Mufti of Constantinople to preach
Mohammedanism to the people of Philadelphia would not find a pulpit at his
service. But, if this incident has any general significance, it may be
accepted as evidence that, though Franklin might contribute nothing else
upon such an occasion, he was prepared to contribute a good joke. When
Tennent found that he could get no other kind of assistance from him, he
asked him to give him at least his advice. What followed would suffer in
telling if not told as the _Autobiography_ tells it:

     That I will readily do [said Franklin], and, in the
     first place, I advise you to apply to all those whom
     you know will give something; next, to those whom you
     are uncertain whether they will give anything or not,
     and show them the list of those who have given; and,
     lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give
     nothing, for in some of them you may be mistaken. He
     laugh'd and thank'd me, and said he would take my
     advice. He did so, for he ask'd of _everybody_, and he
     obtain'd a much larger sum than he expected, with which
     he erected the capacious and very elegant meeting-house
     that stands in Arch Street.

Other services rendered by Franklin to Philadelphia related to the better
paving and lighting of its streets. These streets were laid out with great
regularity, but, being wholly unpaved, were mere quagmires in winter and
stifling stretches of dust in summer. So bad was their condition as a rule
that Philadelphia came to be known among the country people around it as
"Filthy-dirty." Franklin, when he lived near the Jersey Market, witnessed
with concern the miserable plight of its patrons as they waded about on
either side of it in mire deep enough to have prompted the observation of
Napoleon, based upon his campaigns in Poland, that mud should be accounted
a fifth element. A step was taken when a stretch of ground down the middle
of the market was paved with brick. This offered a firm footing, when once
attained, but, before a pedestrian could attain it, he might be overshoes
in wet clay. By tongue and pen, Franklin at length succeeded in having the
spaces between the market and the foot pavements of the streets flanking it
laid with stone. The result was that for a season a market woman could
reach the market dry-shod, but, in the course of time, the pavements became
loaded with mud shaken off the wheels of passing vehicles, and this mud,
after being thus deposited, was allowed, for lack of street cleaners, to
remain where it fell. Here was an inviting situation, indeed, for such a
municipal housewife as Franklin. Having hunted up a poor, industrious man,
who was willing to contract for the sum of sixpence per month, per house,
to sweep up and carry away the dirt in front of the houses abutting on
these pavements, he wrote and published a paper setting forth the marked
advantages to the neighborhood that would result from such a small
expenditure--the reduced amount of mud that people would carry around on
their shoes, the readier access that customers would have to the shops near
the market, freedom from wind-borne dust and other kindred benefits not
likely to escape the attention of a man to whom even the dust of unpaved
streets suggested the following reflections in the _Autobiography_:

     Human felicity is produc'd not so much by great pieces
     of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little
     advantages that occur every day. Thus, if you teach a
     poor young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in
     order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his
     life than in giving him a thousand guineas. The money
     may be soon spent, the regret only remaining of having
     foolishly consumed it; but in the other case, he
     escapes the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers,
     and of their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive
     breaths, and dull razors; he shaves when most
     convenient to him, and enjoys daily the pleasure of
     its being done with a good instrument.

A copy of the paper was sent to each house affected by its proposals, every
householder agreed to pay his sixpence, and the sense of comfort
experienced by the entire population of Philadelphia in the more commodious
use of the market prepared their minds for the bill which Franklin later
introduced into the Assembly providing for the paving of the whole city. He
was on the point of embarking on his second voyage to England when this was
done, and the bill was not passed until after he was gone, and then with an
alteration in his method of assessing the paving cost which his judgment
did not deem an improvement; but the bill as passed contained a further
provision for lighting as well as paving the streets of Philadelphia which
he did deem a great improvement. The merit of first suggesting the hospital
Franklin is studious to tell us, though ascribed to him, was due to Dr.
Bond. So likewise he is quick to admit that the honor of giving the first
impulse to municipal lighting in Philadelphia did not belong to him, as had
been supposed, but to John Clifton, who had placed a private lamp at his
own door. Franklin simply followed Clifton's example; but, when the city
began to light its streets, his fertile mind did bring forward a novel idea
which proved a highly useful one. Instead of the globes imported from
London which became so black and opaque from smoke for lack of air, when
the lamps were lighted, that they had to be cleaned every day, and which,
moreover, were totally wrecked by a single blow, he suggested that the
coverings for the city lamps should be composed of four flat panes, with a
long funnel above and inlets below for the free circulation of air. The
result was a covering that remained untarnished until morning and was not
involved in complete ruin by a single fracture.

Such were some of the principal achievements of Franklin for the benefit of
Philadelphia. It is not easy to magnify unduly their significance when we
bear in mind that they were all crowded into a period of some thirty years
during the greater part of which he was faithfully heeding Poor Richard's
maxim, "Keep thy shop and thy shop will keep thee"; to say nothing of the
claims upon his time of political duties and scientific studies and
experiments. Franklin was not the Romulus of Philadelphia; nor was he its
Augustus, who found it of brick and left it of marble. There was solid
brick enough in the structure of American colonial life, but little marble.
However, it can at least be said of him that rarely has any single private
individual, with no great fortune, and with no control over the public
purse except what is conferred by the favor of public opinion won by
personal intelligence and public spirit, laid the foundations of so much
that was of lasting and increasing utility to an infant community destined
to become one of the populous and opulent cities of the world. In how many
other respects his sympathy with human interests in their broader relations
made its influence felt in Colonial America we can only conjecture, but in
many ways, in addition to those already mentioned, its fructifying results
have been brought home to us. It was at his instance that the merchants of
Philadelphia sent the ship _Argo_ to the Arctics to discover a Northwest
Passage. Kalm, the Swedish botanist, when he came to Pennsylvania, found in
him a most helpful friend and patron. He labored untiringly to obtain for
Bartram, the American naturalist, the recognition which he richly merited.
One of the proudest days of his life was when his eager exertions in behalf
of silk culture in Pennsylvania were rewarded by the knowledge that the
Queen of England had not only graciously condescended to accept a sample of
Pennsylvania silk tendered to her by him but proposed to wear it in the
form of a dress. During his third sojourn in England, the hospital at home
was frequently reminded of the strength of his concern for its welfare by
gifts and suggestions more valuable than gifts. To him was entrusted the
commission of purchasing a telescope and other instruments for the
Astronomical School at Harvard College. To the library of Harvard he
occasionally forwarded parcels of books, either his own gifts or gifts from
his friends. In addition to his zealous efforts in the latter part of his
life in behalf of negro emancipation and the relief of the free blacks, he
was for several years one of the associates charged with the management of
the Bray Fund for the conversion of negroes in the British plantations. He
was also a trustee of the Society for the benefit of poor Germans, one of
the objects of which was the establishment of English schools in the German
communities which had become so numerous in Pennsylvania. It was high time
that this object should receive the attention of the Englishry of the
province as one of his letters indicates.

     I remember [he said in 1753 in a letter to Richard
     Jackson] when they [the Germans] modestly declined
     intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in
     Droves and carry all before them, except in one or two

     Few of their Children in the Country learn English.
     They import many Books from Germany; and of the six
     Printing-Houses in the Province, two are entirely
     German, two half German half English, and but two
     entirely English. They have one German Newspaper, and
     one half-German. Advertisements, intended to be
     general, are now printed in Dutch and English. The
     Signs in our Streets have Inscriptions in both
     Languages, and in some places only German. They begin
     of late to make all their Bonds and other legal
     Instruments in their own Language, which (though I
     think it ought not to be) are allowed good in our
     Courts, where the German Business so increases, that
     there is continued need of Interpreters; and I suppose
     in a few Years they will also be necessary in the
     Assembly to tell one half of our Legislators what the
     other half say.[13]

As we are said to be indebted to Jefferson for the introduction into
America of the Lombardy poplar so it is said that we are indebted to
Franklin for the domestication of the yellow willow so useful in the
manufacture of wicker-work. The story is that his observant eye noted the
sprouts, which a willow basket from abroad had put forth, when refreshed by
the water of a creek into which it had been tossed, and that he was at
pains to plant some of them on a lot in Philadelphia. Apparently, he was
the first person, too, to introduce the rhubarb plant into America. He
obtained seed of the broom-corn on one of his visits to Virginia, and took
care to disseminate it in Pennsylvania and other Colonies. When the
Pennsylvania farmers were skeptical about the value of plaster, he framed
in that substance on the surface of a conspicuous field the words: "THIS
HAS BEEN PLASTERED," which were soon rewritten in vegetation that rose
legibly above the general level of its surroundings. One of his suggestions
was an "office of insurance" on the mutual assessment plan against losses
from storms, blights, insects, etc., suffered by farmers. Among his essays
is a concise but highly instructive one on Maize, or Indian Corn, which was
well calculated to make known to the world a plant now hardly less prized
by the American for its general usefulness than the date-palm is by the
Arab. John Adams informs us in his _Diary_ that, on one occasion, when in
Massachusetts, Franklin mentioned that Rhenish grape-vines had been
recently planted at Philadelphia, and had succeeded very well, whereupon
his host, Edmund Quincy, expressed the wish that he could plant some in his
own garden. A few weeks later Quincy received a bundle of the Rhenish slips
by sea from Franklin, and a little later another by post.

     Thus [diarizes Adams, at the time a young man of but
     twenty-four, when the difficulty with which the slips
     had been procured by Franklin came to his knowledge] he
     took the trouble to hunt over the city (Philadelphia)
     and not finding vines there, he sends seventy miles
     into the country, and then sends one bundle by water,
     and, lest they should miscarry, another by land, to a
     gentleman whom he owed nothing, and was but little
     acquainted with, purely for the sake of doing good in
     the world by propagating the Rhenish vines through
     these provinces. And Mr. Quincy has some of them now
     growing in his garden. This is an instance, too, of his
     amazing capacity for business, his memory and
     resolution: amidst so much business as counselor,
     postmaster, printer, so many private studies, and so
     many public avocations too, to remember such a
     transient hint and exert himself so in answer to it, is

If Adams had only known Franklin better at the time when these words were
penned, which was long before his analysis of Franklin's motives could be
jaundiced by jealousy or wounded self-love, he might have added that this
incident was also an illustration of that unfailing good-nature which made
the friendship of Franklin an ever-bubbling well-spring of kindly offices.
"Accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return in my
power for thy continual favors to me," one of the petitions in the "little
prayer," prefixed to Franklin's manual of self-discipline, expressed an
aspiration which, in addition to more impressive forms of fulfilment, was
realized many times over in the innumerable small offerings of good feeling
that he was in the habit of laying from time to time upon the altar of
friendship. In recounting the benefactions, which he bestowed upon his
fellow-creatures by his public spirit and private benevolence, it is hard
to refrain from speculating as to what he might have accomplished, if his
wealth had only, like that of Andrew Carnegie, been commensurate with his
wisdom and philanthropic zeal. Then, in truth, would have been united such
agencies as have not often worked together for the amelioration of human
society. But independent as Franklin was, according to the pecuniary
standards of Colonial America, he was in no position to contribute money
lavishly to any generous object. When he gave it, he had to give it in such
a way as to make it keep itself going until it had gone far by its own mere
cumulative energy. This is very interestingly brought out in a letter from
him, when at Passy, to Benjamin Webb, a distressed correspondent, to whom
he was sending a gift of ten louis d'ors.

     I do not pretend [he said] to _give_ such a Sum; I only
     _lend_ it to you. When you shall return to your Country
     with a good Character, you cannot fail of getting into
     some Business, that will in time enable you to pay all
     your Debts. In that Case, when you meet with another
     honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by
     lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the
     Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and
     shall meet with such another opportunity. I hope it may
     thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave
     that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine
     for doing a deal of good with a little money. I am not
     rich enough to afford _much_ in good works, and so am
     obliged to be cunning and make the most of a _little_.

It is to be hoped that Webb was but the first link in the golden chain
which this letter sought to fashion.

It is a remarkable fact that Franklin also endeavored to give even
posthumous efficacy to this same idea of economizing pecuniary force. By a
codicil to his will, he created two funds of one thousand pounds each, one
for the benefit of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, and the other for
the benefit of the inhabitants of the town of Philadelphia. The selectmen
and the ministers of the oldest Episcopalian, Congregational and
Presbyterian churches in Boston were to be the trustees for the management
of the Boston fund, and the City Corporation was to manage the Philadelphia
fund. The amounts were to be respectively lent in sums not exceeding sixty
pounds sterling, nor less than fifteen pounds, for any one person, in the
discretion of the respective managers, to such young married artificers,
under the age of twenty-five years, as should have served an apprenticeship
in the respective towns and have faithfully fulfilled the duties stipulated
for in their indentures, upon their producing certificates to their good
moral character from at least two respectable citizens, and bonds executed
by themselves and these citizens, as sureties, for the repayment of the
loans in ten equal annual instalments, with interest at the rate of five
per cent. per annum. If there were more applicants than money, the
proportions, in which the sums would otherwise have been allotted, were to
be ratably diminished in such a way that some assistance would be given to
every applicant. As fast as the sums lent were repaid, they were again to
be lent out to fresh borrowers. If the plan was faithfully carried out for
one hundred years, the fond projector calculated that, at the end of that
time, the Boston, as well as the Philadelphia, fund, would amount to one
hundred and thirty-one thousand pounds, of which he would have the managers
of the Boston fund lay out in their discretion one hundred thousand pounds
in public improvements; the remaining thirty-one thousand pounds to be lent
out as the original one thousand pounds was for another hundred years. At
the end of the second term, Franklin calculated that, mishaps aside, the
sum would be four million and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which
he bequeathed one million sixty-one thousand pounds to the inhabitants of
Boston absolutely, and three million pounds to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts absolutely; not presuming, he said, to carry his views
further. At the end of the first one hundred years, if the purpose was not
already executed, the City Corporation was to use a part of the fund
accumulated for the benefit of the inhabitants of Philadelphia in piping
the water of Wissahickon Creek into that city, and the testator also
recommended that the Schuylkill should be made completely navigable. In
other respects the conditions of the two gifts were the same. An English
lawyer characterized the famous will by which Peter Thellusson tried to
circumvent the legal rule against perpetuities as "posthumous avarice." If
Franklin, too, kept his hand clenched after he left the world, it was not
in the vainglory of family pride nor from the mere sordid, uncalculating
love of treasured wealth, but only that he might open it as "bounty's
instrument," when overflowingly full, for the purpose of conferring upon
men a far richer largess of beneficence than it had been capable of
conferring in life. Changes in industrial conditions defeated his
intentions with respect to artificers, and the Philadelphia fund proved far
less crescive than the Boston one, but both have proved enough so to
illustrate the procreative quality of money upon which Franklin was so fond
of dilating. The Boston fund, including the sum applied at the end of the
first one hundred years to the use of Franklin Union, amounted on January
1, 1913, to $546,811.39, and the Philadelphia fund, including the amount
applied to the use of Franklin Institute, amounted on January 1, 1913, to
$186,807.06. Poor Richard certainly selected a most effective way this time
for renewing the reminder with which he ended his _Hints for those that
would be Rich_.

    "A Penny sav'd is Twopence clear
    A Pin a Day is a groat a year."

With the expanding horizon, which came to Franklin in 1757, when he was
drawn off into the world-currents of his time, came also larger
opportunities for promoting the welfare of the race. There was a double
reason why he should not be tardy in availing himself of these
opportunities. He was both by nature and training at once a philosopher and
a philanthropist. "God grant," he fervently exclaimed in a letter to David
Hartley in 1789, "that not only the Love of Liberty, but a thorough
Knowledge of the Rights of Man, may pervade all the Nations of the Earth,
so that a Philosopher may set his Foot anywhere on its Surface, and say
'This is my country,'" To Joseph Huey he wrote in the letter, from which we
have already freely quoted, that the only thanks he desired for a kindness
which he had shown the former was that he should always be equally ready to
serve any other person who might need his assistance, and so let good
offices go round; "for Mankind," Franklin added, "are all of a Family."
During his third sojourn in England, he entered earnestly into a scheme for
supplying the islands of Acpy-nomawée and Tovy-poennammoo, "called in the
maps New Zealand," which contained no useful quadrupeds but dogs, with
fowls, hogs, goats, cattle, corn, iron and other commodities of civilized
life. The portion of the appeal for pecuniary aid for this purpose, which
was borrowed from his pen, after beginning with the statement that Britain
itself was said to have originally produced nothing but sloes, adapts
itself, as all his writings of this kind usually did, to both the unselfish
and selfish instincts of his readers. It was the obligation, he insisted,
of those, who thought it their duty to ask bread and other blessings daily
from Heaven, to show their gratitude to their great Benefactor by the only
means in their power, and that was by promoting the happiness of his other
children. _Communiter bona profundere_ Deûm est. And then trade always
throve better when carried on with a people possessed of the arts and
conveniences of life than with naked savages.

As events moved along apace, and Franklin found himself in a world, once
again ravaged and ensanguined by war, the triple birth of human folly,
greed and atrocity, his heart, irrevocably enlisted as it was in the
American cause, went out into one generous effort after another to
establish at least a few peaceful sanctuaries where the nobler impulses and
aims of human nature might be safe from the destructive rage of its
malignant passions. In 1779, when our Minister to France, he issued
instructions to the captains of all armed ships holding commissions from
Congress not to molest, in any manner, the famous English navigator,
Captain Cook, on his return from the voyage of discovery into unknown seas
upon which he had been dispatched before the Revolutionary War. This act
was handsomely acknowledged by the British Government. One of the gold
medals, struck in honor of Captain Cook, was presented to Franklin by the
hand of Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society, and the
British Admiralty Board also sent him a copy of the Captain's book, with
its "elegant collection of plates," and a very polite letter from Lord Howe
stating that the gift was made with the express approval of the King. In
the same year similar instructions were given by Franklin for the
protection of the vessel that was that year to transport the supplies which
were annually conveyed from Europe to the Moravian Mission on the coast of
Labrador. And later the same ægis was likewise extended over the ship which
was expected to bear provisions and clothing from the charitable citizens
of Dublin for the relief of suffering in the West Indies. Of the rule that
"free ships shall make free goods," Franklin said in a letter to J. Torris,
an agent for American cruisers at Dunkirk, "This rule is itself so
reasonable, and of a nature to be so beneficial to mankind, that I cannot
but wish it may become general." Nor did he stop there. In this letter,
such was his confidence that Congress would approve the new rule that he
notified Torris that, until he had received its orders on the subject, he
should condemn no more English goods found by American cruisers in Dutch
vessels, unless contraband of war. How unqualifiedly he was disposed to
recognize the neutrality of all such goods is evidenced by other letters of
his, too, written when he was in France. But to him also belongs the
peculiar glory of insisting that non-combatants should be exempt from the
lamentable penalties of war.

     I approve much [he said in a letter in 1780 to Charles
     W. F. Dumas] of the Principles of the Confederacy of
     the Neutral Powers, and am not only for respecting the
     Ships as the House of a Friend, tho' containing the
     Goods of an Enemy, but I even wish for the sake of
     humanity that the Law of Nations may be further
     improv'd, by determining, that, even in time of War,
     all those kinds of People, who are employ'd in
     procuring subsistence for the Species, or in exchanging
     the Necessaries or Conveniences of Life, which are for
     the common Benefit of Mankind, such as Husbandmen on
     their lands, fishermen in their Barques, and traders in
     unarm'd Vessels, shall be permitted to prosecute their
     several innocent and useful Employments without
     interruption or Molestation, and nothing taken from
     them, even when wanted by an Enemy, but on paying a
     fair Price for the same.

This principle, as well as a stipulation against privateering, was actually
made a part of the treaty of amity and commerce between Prussia and the
United States, which was signed shortly before Franklin returned to America
from the French Mission, and it was not for the lack of effort on his part
that similar articles were not inserted in all the treaties between the
United States and other European countries that were entered into about the
same time.

For the practice of privateering he cherished a feeling of intense
abhorrence. It behoved merchants, he wrote to Benjamin Vaughan, "to
consider well of the justice of a War, before they voluntarily engage a
Gang of Ruffians to attack their Fellow Merchants of a neighbouring Nation,
to plunder them of their Property, and perhaps ruin them and their
Families, if they yield it; or to wound, maim, or murder them, if they
endeavour to defend it. Yet these Things are done by Christian Merchants,
whether a War be just or unjust; and it can hardly be just on both sides.
They are done by English and American Merchants, who, nevertheless,
complain of private Thefts, and hang by Dozens the Thieves they have taught
by their own Example." Rarely have the injurious results of privateering
been presented with more force than they were by Franklin in his
_Propositions Relative to Privateering_, sent to Richard Oswald--the
industrial loss involved in the withdrawal of so many men from honest
labor, "who, besides, spend what they get in riot, drunkenness, and
debauchery, lose their habits of industry, are rarely fit for any sober
business after a peace, and serve only to increase the number of highwaymen
and housebreakers"; and the pecuniary ruin into which their employers are
drawn by inability, after the enjoyment of rapidly acquired wealth, to
adjust the habits formed by it to normal conditions. "A just punishment,"
Franklin adds, "for their having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many
honest, innocent traders and their families, whose subsistence was employed
in serving the common interests of mankind." And after all, he further
said, as in the case of other lotteries, while a few of the adventurers
secured prizes, the mass, for reasons that he stated very clearly, were

We have already seen how strongly his mind leaned in the direction of
arbitration as the proper method for settling international differences.

But a grave error it would be to think of Franklin as merely a wise,
placid, humane Quaker, or as simply a benignant, somewhat visionary Friend
of Man. He knew what the world ought to be, and might be made to be, but he
also knew what the world was, and was likely for some time to be. He
resembled the Quaker in his shrewd capacity to take care of himself, in his
love of thrift and of all that appertains to the rational and useful side
of life, and especially in his broad, unreserved, human sympathies. It was
for this reason that, though not a Quaker himself, he could usually count
with more or less certainty upon the support of Quakers in his public
undertakings and political struggles. But rigid, dogged scruples like those
which made an effort in Franklin's time to coerce a Pennsylvania Quaker
into taking up arms as impotent, as a rule, as blows upon an unresisting
punch-bag were wholly out of keeping with such a character as Franklin's.
For all that was best in the enthusiastic philanthropy of the French, too,
he had no little affinity, but what Lecky has called his "pedestrian
intellect" saved him from inane dreams of patriarchal innocence and
simplicity in a world from which Roland was to hurry himself because it was
too polluted with crime.

It was a good story that Franklin's Quaker friend, James Logan, told of
William Penn. He was coming over to Pennsylvania as the Secretary of Penn,
when their ship was chased by an armed vessel. Their captain made ready for
an engagement, but said to Penn that he did not expect his aid or that of
his Quaker companions, and that they might retire to the cabin, which they
all did except Logan, who remained on deck, and was quartered to a gun. The
supposed enemy proved to be a friend, and, when this fact was announced by
Logan to Penn and the other refugees below, Penn rebuked him for violating
the Quaker principle of non-resistance. Nettled by being reproved before so
many persons, Logan replied, "_I being thy servant, why did thee not order
me to come down? But thee was willing enough that I should stay and help to
fight the ship when thee thought there was danger._" Franklin abhorred the
Medusa locks of war, and loved the fair, smiling face of peace as much as
any Quaker, but, when there was peril to be braved, he could always be
relied upon to incur his share.

Both in point of physique and manliness of spirit he was well fitted for
leadership and conflict. Josiah, the father of Franklin, we are told in the
_Autobiography_, had "an excellent constitution of body, was of middle
stature, but well set, and very strong." The description was true to
Franklin himself. He is supposed to have been about five feet and ten
inches high, was robustly built, and, when a printer at Watts' printing
house in London, could carry up and down stairs in each hand a large form
of types which one of his fellow printers could carry only with both hands.
In his boyhood he was as eager as most healthy-minded boys are to go off to
sea; but his father already had one runagate son, Josiah the younger, at
sea, and had no mind to have another. However, living as he did near the
water, Benjamin was much in and about it, and learnt early to swim well and
to manage boats.

     When in a boat or canoe with other boys [he says in the
     _Autobiography_], I was commonly allowed to govern,
     especially in any case of difficulty; and upon other
     occasions I was generally a leader among the boys, and
     sometimes led them into scrapes, of which I will
     mention one instance, as it shows an early projecting
     public spirit, tho' not then justly conducted.

He then tells us how, under his direction, a band of his comrades, late in
the afternoon, when no one was about, "like so many emmets," abstracted all
the stones collected for the foundation of a new building and constructed
with them a wharf on a quagmire for the convenience of the marauders when
fishing. The authors of the mischief were discovered. "Several of us," says
Franklin, "were corrected by our fathers; and, though I pleaded the
usefulness of the work, mine convinced me that nothing was useful which was
not honest."[14]

Another incident in Franklin's youth, indicative of the way in which
leadership was apt to be conceded in moments of perplexity to his
hardihood, is narrated in the journal of his first voyage from England to
America, and arose when he and two companions, after wandering about the
Isle of Wight until dark, were anxiously endeavoring to make their way back
across an intercepting creek to their ship, the _Berkshire_, which was only
awaiting the first favoring breeze to be up and away. On this occasion, he
stripped to his shirt, and waded through the waters of the creek, and at
one time, through mud as well up to his middle, to a boat staked nearly
fifty yards offshore; the wind all the while blowing very cold and very
hard. When he reached the boat, it was only to find after an hour's
exertions that he could not release it from its fastenings, and that there
was nothing for him to do but to return as he came. Then, just as the
unlucky trio were thinking of looking up some haystack in which to spend
the night, one of them remembered that he had a horseshoe in his pocket.
Again the indomitable Franklin waded back to the boat, and this time, by
wrenching out with the shoe the staple by which it was chained to the
stake, secured it, and brought it ashore to his friends. On its way to the
other shore, it grounded in shoal water, and stuck so fast that one of its
oars was broken in an effort to get it off. After striving and struggling
for half an hour and more, the party gave up and sat down with their hands
before them in despair. It looked as if after being exposed all night to
wind and weather, which was bad, they would be exposed the next morning to
the taunts of the owner of the boat and the amusement of the whole town of
Yarmouth; which was worse. However, when their plight seemed utterly
hopeless, a happy thought occurred to them, and Franklin and one of his
companions, having got out into the creek and thus lightened the craft,
contrived to draw it into deeper water.

Still another incident brings into clear relief the resolute will of the
youthful Franklin. It is told in the _Autobiography_. He was in a boat on
the Delaware with his free-thinking and deep-drinking friend, Collins, who
had acquired the habit of "sotting with brandy," and some other young men.
Collins was in the state pictured by one or more of the cant phrases
descriptive of an inebriate condition which were compiled with such
painstaking thoroughness by Franklin in his "Drinker's Dictionary" for the
_Pennsylvania Gazette_. It became Collins' turn to row, but he refused to
do it. "I will be row'd home," said Collins. "We will not row you," said
Franklin. "You must, or stay all night on the water just as you please,"
said Collins. The others said: "Let us row; what signifies it?" But
Franklin's mind was soured by Collins' past misconduct, and he refused to
do so. Thereupon Collins swore that he would make him row or throw him
overboard, and advanced towards him and struck at him. As he did so,
Franklin clapped his hand under Collins' crotch, and, rising, pitched him
headforemost into the river. Knowing that Collins was a good swimmer, he
felt little concern about him; so the boat was rowed a short distance from
Collins, and with a few timely strokes removed slightly out of his reach
whenever he attempted to board it; he being asked each time whether he
would consent to row.

     He was ready to die with vexation [says Franklin], and
     obstinately would not promise to row. However, seeing
     him at last beginning to tire, we lifted him in and
     brought him home dripping wet in the evening. We hardly
     exchang'd a civil word afterwards, and a West India
     captain, who had a commission to procure a tutor for
     the sons of a gentleman at Barbadoes, happening to meet
     with him, agreed to carry him thither. He left me then,
     promising to remit me the first money he should receive
     in order to discharge the debt; but I never heard of
     him after.

The debt was for money that Franklin had lent to Collins, when in straits
produced by his dissipated habits, out of the vexatious sum collected by
Franklin for Mr. Vernon, which cost him so much self-reproach until
remitted to that gentleman.

The firmness exhibited by Franklin on this occasion he never failed to
exhibit in his later life whenever it was necessary for him to do so. Even
John Adams, in 1778, though he had worked himself up to the point of
charging Franklin with downright indolence and with the "constant policy
never to say 'yes' or 'no' decidedly but when he could not avoid it,"
admitted in the same breath that Franklin had "as determined a soul as any
man." If anyone doubts it, let him read the letters written by Franklin
upon the rare occasions when he felt that, as a matter of justice or sober
self-respect, he could not escape the duty of holding up the mirror of
candid speech to the face of misconduct. On these occasions, his rebuke was
like a bitter draught administered in a measuring glass, not a drop too
much, not a drop too little. Witness his letter of March 12, 1780, to
Captain Peter Landais in reply to the demand of that captain that he should
be again placed in command of the _Alliance_.

     The demand, however [Franklin wrote], may perhaps be
     made chiefly for the sake of obtaining a Refusal, of
     which you seem the more earnestly desirous as the
     having it to produce may be of service to you in
     America. I will not therefore deny it to you, and it
     shall be as positive and clear as you require it. No
     one has ever learnt from me the Opinion I formed of you
     from the Enquiry made into your conduct. I kept it
     entirely to myself. I have not even hinted it in my
     Letters to America, because I would not hazard giving
     to any one a Bias to your Prejudice. By communicating a
     Part of that Opinion privately to you it can do you no
     harm for you may burn it. I should not give you the
     pain of reading it if your Demand did not make it
     necessary. I think you, then, so imprudent, so
     litigious and quarrelsome a man, even with your best
     friends, that Peace and good order and, consequently,
     the quiet and regular Subordination so necessary to
     Success, are, where you preside, impossible. These are
     matters within my observation and comprehension, your
     military Operations I leave to more capable Judges. If
     therefore I had 20 Ships of War in my Disposition, I
     should not give one of them to Captain Landais.

All the higher forms of intellectual or moral power suggest the idea of
reserve force, and of nothing is this truer than the self-controlled
indignation of a really strong man like Franklin or Washington.

What Franklin did for Philadelphia, when peace prevailed, we have already
seen; what he did for it, when threatened by war, remains to be told. In
1747, England was involved in a struggle with France and Spain, and the
city lay at the mercy of French and Spanish privateers, all the efforts of
Governor Thomas to induce the Quaker majority in the Assembly to pass a
militia law and to make other provision for the security of the Province
having proved wholly futile. Under these circumstances, Franklin wrote and
published a pamphlet, entitled _Plain Truth_, for the purpose of arousing
the people of the Province to a true sense of their perilous predicament.

     The pamphlet [Franklin tells us in the
     _Autobiography_], had a sudden and surprising effect,
     and we can readily believe it, for rarely has an alarum
     been more artfully sounded. In its pages is to be found
     every artifice of persuasion that could be skillfully
     used by an adroit pamphleteer for the purpose of
     playing upon the fears of his readers and inciting them
     to determined measures of self-defense. It began by
     pointing out the causes which had brought about an
     entire change in the former happy situation of the
     Province, namely its increased wealth, its defenseless
     condition, the familiarity acquired by its enemies with
     its Bay and River through prisoners, bearers of flags
     of truce, spies, and, perhaps, traitors, the ease with
     which pilots could be employed by these enemies and the
     known absence of ships of war, during the greatest part
     of the year, ever since the war began, from both
     Virginia and New York. That the enemies of the Province
     might even then have some of their spies in the
     Province could not be seriously doubted, it declared,
     for to maintain such spies had been the practice of all
     nations in all ages, as for example the five men sent
     by the Children of Dan to spy out the land of the
     Zidonians, and search it. (Book of Judges, Chap. XVIII,
     V. 2). These men, while engaged in their enterprise,
     met with a certain idolatrous priest of their own
     persuasion (would to God no such priests were to be
     found among the Pennsylvanians!) And, when they
     questioned him as to whether their way would be
     prosperous, he among other things said unto them, _Go
     in Peace; before the Lord is your Way wherein you go_.
     (It was well known that there were many priests in the
     Province of the same religion as those who, of late,
     encouraged the French to invade the mother country).
     _And they came_, (Verse 7) _to Laish, and saw the
     People that were therein, how they dwelt CARELESS,
     after the Manner of the Zidonians_, QUIET AND SECURE.
     They _thought_ themselves secure no doubt; and, as they
     _never had been_ disturbed, vainly imagined they _never
     should_. It was not unlikely that some saw the danger
     they were exposed to by living in that careless manner;
     but it was not unlikely, too, that if these publicly
     expressed their apprehensions, the rest reproached them
     as timorous persons, wanting courage or confidence in
     their Gods, who (they perhaps said) had hitherto
     protected them. But the spies (Verse 8) returned, and
     among other things said to their countrymen (Verse 9),
     _Arise that we may go up against them; for we have seen
     the Land and behold it is very good! When ye go, ye
     shall come unto a People SECURE_ (that is a people that
     apprehend no danger, and therefore have made no
     provision against it; great encouragement this), _and
     to a large Land, and a Place where there is no Want of
     any Thing_. What could they desire more? Accordingly we
     find, continued _Plain Truth_, in the succeeding verses
     that _six hundred Men_ only, _appointed with Weapons of
     War_, undertook the conquest of this _large Land_;
     knowing that 600 men, armed and disciplined, would be
     an overmatch, perhaps, for 60,000 unarmed,
     undisciplined, and off their guard. And when they went
     against it, the idolatrous priest (Verse 17) _with his
     graven Image, and his Ephod, and his Teraphim, and his
     molten Image_ (plenty of superstitious trinkets) joined
     with them, and, no doubt, gave them all the
     intelligence and assistance in his power; his heart, as
     the text assures us, _being glad_, perhaps, for reasons
     more than one. And now what was the fate of poor Laish?
     The 600 men, being arrived, found, as the spies had
     reported, a people QUIET and SECURE. (Verses 20, 21).
     _And they smote them with the Edge of the Sword, and
     burnt the City with_ FIRE; _and there was no_
     DELIVERER,_ because it was far from Zidon_--not so far
     from _Zidon_, however, as _Pennsylvania_ was from
     _Britain_; and yet we are, said _Plain Truth_, more
     careless than the people of _Laish_!

Having awakened in this clever fashion the slumbering strings of sectarian
hatred and religious association, the author of _Plain Truth_ brings the
same sure and compelling touch to the other points of his theme: the danger
that the Iroquois might, from considerations set forth in the pamphlet with
telling force, be wholly gained over by the French; which meant deserted
plantations, ruin, bloodshed and confusion; the folly and selfishness of
the view that Rural Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia did not owe
each other mutual obligations of assistance; the ruin in which commerce,
trade and industry were certain to be involved by the occlusion of the
Delaware; the probability that the enemy, finding that he could come higher
and higher up the river, seize vessels, land and plunder plantations and
villages, and return with his booty unmolested, might finally be led to
believe that all Pennsylvanians were Quakers, against all defence, from a
principle of conscience, and thus be induced to strike one bold stroke for
the city and for the whole plunder of the river.

Then, after dispatching with a few practical observations the fallacy that
the expense of a vessel to guard the trade of the Province would be greater
than any loss that the enemy could inflict upon the Province at sea, and
that it would be cheaper for the Government to open an insurance office and
to pay every such loss, the pamphlet presents a harrowing description of
the fate that would befall Philadelphia if it passed into the hands of the
enemy. It is all limned with the minuteness of a Dutch painting; the
confusion and disorder; the outcries and lamentations; the stream of
outgoing fugitives (including citizens reputed to be rich and fearful of
the torture), hurrying away with their effects; the wives and children
hanging upon the necks of their husbands and fathers and imploring them to
be gone; the helplessness of the few that would remain; the sack; the
conflagration. But what, asked _Plain Truth_, would the condition of the
Philadelphians be, if suddenly surprised without previous alarm, perhaps in
the night? Confined to their houses, they would have nothing to trust to
but the enemy's mercy. Their best fortune would be to fall under the power
of commanders of King's ships, able to control the mariners; and not into
the hands of licentious privateers. Who could without the utmost horror
conceive the miseries of the latter, when their persons, fortunes, wives
and daughters would be subject to the wanton and unbridled rage, rapine and
lust of negroes, mulattoes and others, the vilest and most abandoned of
mankind? And then in a timely marginal note _Plain Truth_ tells how poor
Captain Brown, for bravely defending himself and his vessel longer than the
ragged crew of a Spanish privateer expected, was barbarously stabbed and
murdered, though on his knees begging quarter!

It would not be so bad for the rich, said _Plain Truth_. The means of
speedy flight were ready to their hands, and they could lay by money and
effects in distant and safe places against the evil day. It was by the
middling people, the tradesmen, shopkeepers and farmers of the Province and
city that the brunt would have to be borne. They could not all fly with
their families, and, if they could, how would they subsist? Upon them too
the weight of the contributions exacted by the enemy (as was true of
ordinary taxes) would rest. Though numerous, this class was quite
defenceless as it had neither forts, arms, union nor discipline, and yet on
whom could it fix its eyes with the least expectation that they would do
anything for its security? Not on that wealthy and powerful body of people,
the Quakers, who had ever since the war controlled the elections of the
Province and filled almost every seat in the Assembly. Should the Quakers
be conjured by all the ties of neighborhood, friendship, justice and
humanity to consider the obligations that they owed to a very great part of
the people who could have no confidence that God would protect those that
neglected the use of rational means for protecting themselves, and the
distraction, misery and confusion, desolation and distress which might
possibly be the effect of their unreasonable predominancy and perseverance,
yet all would be in vain; for the Quakers had already been by great numbers
of the people petitioned in vain. The late Governor of the Province did for
years solicit, request and even threaten them in vain. The council had
twice remonstrated with them in vain. Their religious prepossessions were
unchangeable, their obstinacy invincible.

The manner in which Franklin makes his strictures on the Quakers in this
pamphlet keen enough to shame them into letting the other elements of the
population of the Province have the use of enough of the public money to
enable them to protect both themselves and the Quakers and yet not keen
enough to make the Quakers thoroughly incensed as well as obstinate is one
of the notable features of _Plain Truth_.

The prospect of the middling people of the Province, the pamphlet
continues, was no better, if they turned their eyes to those great and rich
men, merchants and others, who were ever railing at the Quakers, but took
no one step themselves for the public safety. With their wealth and
influence, they might easily promote military ardor and discipline in the
Province and effect everything under God for its protection. But envy
seemed to have taken possession of their hearts, and to have eaten out and
destroyed every generous, noble, public-spirited sentiment, and rage at the
disappointment of their little schemes for power gnawed their souls, and
filled them with such cordial hatred to their opponents that any proposal,
by the execution of which the latter might receive benefit as well as
themselves, was rejected with indignation.

However, if the city and Province were brought to destruction, it would not
be for want of numerous inhabitants able to bear arms in their defence. It
was computed that the Province had at least (exclusive of the Quakers)
60,000 fighting men, acquainted with firearms, many of them hunters and
marksmen, hardy and bold. All they lacked was order, discipline and a few
cannon. At present they were like the separate filaments of flax before the
thread is formed, without strength because without connection; but union
would make them strong and even formidable. Many of the inhabitants of the
Province were of the British race, and, though the fierce fighting animals
of those happy islands were said to abate their natural fire and
intrepidity, when removed to a foreign clime, yet, with their people this
was not so. Among the inhabitants of the Province likewise were those brave
men whose fathers in the last age made so glorious a stand for
Protestantism and English liberty, when invaded by a powerful French Army,
joined by Irish Catholics, under a bigoted Popish King; and also thousands
of that warlike nation whose sons had ever since the time of Cæsar
maintained the character he gave their fathers of uniting the most
obstinate courage to all the other military virtues--the brave and steady

Poor Richard, of course, had to have his proverb in war as well as peace.
Were the union formed, and the fighting men of the Province once united,
thoroughly armed and disciplined, the very fame of strength and readiness,
_Plain Truth_ thought, would be a means of discouraging the enemy, "for,"
said Franklin, "'tis a wise and true Saying, that _One Sword often keeps
another in the Scabbard_. The Way to secure Peace is to be prepared for

After these weighty maxims, this remarkable pamphlet ends with the
statement that, if its hints were so happy as to meet with a suitable
disposition of mind from the countrymen and fellow citizens of the writer,
he would, in a few days, lay before them a form of association for the
purposes mentioned in the pamphlet, together with a practical scheme for
raising the money necessary for the crisis without laying a burthen on any


                      "The drum,
    That makes the warrior's stomach come,"

was _Plain Truth_ with its sudden and surprising effect. Agreeably with the
popular response to it, Franklin drafted articles of association, after
consulting with others, and issued a call for a citizen's rally in the
Whitefield meeting-house. When the citizens assembled, printed copies of
the articles had already been struck off, and pens and ink had been
distributed throughout the hall. Franklin then harangued the gathering a
little, read and explained the articles, and handed around the printed
copies. They were so eagerly signed that, when the meeting broke up, there
were more than twelve hundred signatures, and this number, when the country
people were subsequently given an opportunity to sign, swelled to more than
ten thousand. All the signers furnished themselves as soon as they could
with arms, organized into companies and regiments, chose their own
officers, and met every week for military training. The contagion spread
even to the women, and, with money raised by their own subscriptions, they
procured silk colors for the companies, set off with devices and mottoes
furnished by Franklin himself, who had a peculiar turn for designing things
of that sort. The next step was for the officers of the companies,
constituting the Philadelphia regiment, to meet and choose a colonel. They
did so, and selected the only man, or almost the only man, so far as we
know, who has ever, in the history of the American Militia, conceived
himself to be unfit for the office of colonel, and that is Benjamin
Franklin. "Conceiving myself unfit," says Franklin in the _Autobiography_,
"I declin'd that station, and recommended Mr. Lawrence, a fine person, and
man of influence, who was accordingly appointed." But between building and
equipping a battery on the river below Philadelphia, and manipulating
Quaker scruples, Franklin had his hands quite as full as were those of
Colonel Lawrence. At that time, whether the souls of men were to be saved
by the erection of a church or their bodies to be destroyed by the erection
of a battery, resort was had to a lottery. Franklin himself, for instance,
was twice appointed by the vestry of Christ Church the manager of a lottery
for the purpose of building a steeple and buying a chime of bells for that
church. A lottery, therefore, was proposed by him to defray the expense of
building and equipping the battery. The suggestion was eagerly acted upon,
and, with the current of popular enthusiasm running so swiftly, the lottery
soon filled, and a battery with merlons framed of logs and packed with
earth was rapidly erected. The problem was how to get the necessary
ordnance. Some old cannon were bought in Boston, a not over-sanguine
request for some was made of the stingy Proprietaries, Richard and Thomas
Penn, an order was given to other persons in England to purchase in case
the request was not honored, and Colonel Lawrence, William Allen, Abram
Taylor and Franklin were dispatched to New York by the association to
borrow what cannon they could from Governor George Clinton. Fortunately for
Pennsylvania, the cockles of that Governor's heart were of the kind that
glow and expand with generous benevolence when warmed by the bottle. At
first, he refused peremptorily to let the embassy have any cannon, but,
later on when he sat at meat, or rather drink, with the members of his
council, there was, we are told by Franklin in the _Autobiography_, great
drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of New York then was. With the
progress of the dinner, he softened by degrees, and said that he would lend
six. After a few more bumpers, he advanced to ten, and, at length, he very
good-naturedly conceded eighteen. They were fine cannon, eighteen-pounders,
with their carriages, and were soon transported and mounted on the battery
in Pennsylvania, where the associators kept a nightly guard while the war
lasted; and where, among the rest, Franklin regularly took his turn of duty
as a common soldier.

The activity of Franklin at this conjuncture not only won him a high degree
of popularity with his fellow-citizens but also the good will of the
Governor of Pennsylvania and his Council, who took him into their
confidence, and consulted with him whenever it was felt that their
concurrence was needed by the association. When they approved his
suggestion that a fast should be proclaimed for the purpose of invoking the
blessing of Heaven upon the association, and it was found that no such
thing had ever been thought of in Pennsylvania before, he even fell back
upon his New England training, and drew up a proclamation for the purpose
in the usual form which was translated into German, printed in both English
and German, and circulated throughout the Province. The fast day fixed by
the paper gave the clergy of the different sects in Pennsylvania a
favorable opportunity for urging the members of their flocks to enroll
themselves as members of the association, and it was the belief of Franklin
that, if peace had not soon been declared, all the religious congregations
in the Province except those of the Quakers would have been enlisted in the
movement for the defence of the Province.

The most interesting thing, however, connected with this whole episode was
the conduct of the Quakers. James Logan, true to his former principles,
wrote a cogent address to his Fellow-Friends justifying defensive war, and
placed sixty pounds in Franklin's hands with instructions to him to apply
all the lottery prizes that they might win to the cost of the battery.
Other Friends also, perhaps most of the younger ones, were in favor of
defence, but many Friends preferred to keep up silently the semblance of
conformity with their dogma about war, though ready enough to have it
refined away by Franklin's astuteness, which had a gift for working around
obstacles when it could not climb over or break through them. That the
Quakers, as a body, even if they did not relish his new-born intimacy with
the executive councillors, with whom they had had a feud of long standing,
were not losing much of their placidity over the proposition to protect
their throats and chattels against their will, an ambitious young
gentleman, who wished to displace Franklin, as the Clerk of the Quaker
Assembly, soon learnt. Like the generous Maori of New Zealand, who
refrained from descending upon their English invaders until they had duly
communicated to them the hour of their proposed onset, he advised Franklin
(from good will he said) to resign as more consistent with his honor than
being turned out. He little realized apparently that he was attempting to
intimidate one of the grimmest antagonists that ever entertained the
robuster American ideas about public office, the manner in which it is to
be sought, and the prehensile tenacity, with which it is to be clung to,
when secured. But for the fact that Franklin was always a highly faithful
and efficient officeholder, and the further fact that he gave his entire
salary, as President of Pennsylvania, to public objects, he would not fall
far short of being a typical American officeholder of the better class, as
that class was before the era of civil-service reform. On a later occasion,
when his resignation as Deputy Postmaster-General for America was desired,
he humorously observed in a letter to his sister, Jane, that he was
deficient in the Christian virtue of resignation. "If they would have my
Office," he said, "they must take it." And, on another later occasion, he
strongly advised his son not to resign his office, as Governor of New
Jersey, because, while much might be made of a removal, nothing could be
made of a resignation. As long as there was a son, or a grandson of his
own, with no fear of the inclination of political competitors to pry into
skeleton closets, or a relative of any sort to enjoy the sweets of public
office, Franklin appears to have acted consistently upon the principle that
the persons whose qualifications we know best, through the accident of
family intimacy, are the persons that are likely to confer the highest
degree of credit upon us when we appoint them to public positions.

With this general outlook upon the part of Franklin in regard to public
office, the young man, who wished to be his successor, as clerk, soon found
that there was nothing left for him to do except to go off sorrowfully like
the young man in the Scriptures.

     My answer to him [says Franklin in the _Autobiography_]
     was, that I had read or heard of some public man who
     made it a rule never to ask for an office, and never to
     refuse one when offer'd to him. "I approve," says I,
     "of his rule, and will practice it with a small
     addition; I shall never _ask_, never _refuse_, nor ever
     _resign_ an office." If they will have my office of
     clerk to dispose of to another, they shall take it from
     me. I will not, by giving it up, lose my right of some
     time or other making reprisals on my adversaries.

Franklin never actually refused an office except when its duties could be
discharged only from what was virtually his death-bed, and he never
resigned an office, though he was removed from one under circumstances
which furnished a fine illustration, indeed, of how much can be made of a
removal. On the other hand, he did not keep his vow of never asking for an
office; for melancholy to relate, like a raven eying a sick horse, we find
him fore-handed enough, when it was manifest that Mr. Elliot Benger, the
Deputy Postmaster-General of America, was about to pay his last debt to
nature, to apply for the reversion of his office before the debt was
actually paid, and to offer, through Chief Justice Allen of Pennsylvania,
the sum of three hundred pounds in perquisites and contingent fees and
charges for it. Indeed, Benger, though "tho't to be near his end" by
Franklin, when the latter first set to work to succeed him, did not die
until more than two years afterwards.[15] As we shall see hereafter, to
Franklin, as an officeholder, was honorably allotted even the state of
supreme beatitude under the spoils system of politics which consists in
holding more than one public office at one time.

The young aspirant for Franklin's place had nothing but his generous
motives to soothe his disappointment, for at the next election Franklin was
unanimously elected clerk as usual. Indeed, Franklin had reason to believe
that the measures taken for the protection of Pennsylvania were not
disagreeable to any of the Quakers, provided that they were not required to
participate actively in them. The proportion of Quakers sincerely opposed
to resistance, he estimated, after having had a chance to look the field
over, was as one to twenty-one only.

His long contact with the Assembly, as its clerk, had afforded him
excellent opportunities for observing how embarrassed its Quaker majority,
which loved political power quite as much as it detested war and
Presbyterians, was, whenever applications were made to the Assembly for
military grants by order of the Crown, and to what subtle shifts this
majority was compelled to resort on such occasions to save its face; ending
finally in its voting money simply for the "King's use," and never
inquiring how it was spent. Sometimes the demand was not directly from the
Crown, and then the conflict, that is being perpetually renewed between
eccentric human opinions and the inexorable order of the universe, became
acute, indeed, as, for instance, when this majority was urged by Governor
Thomas to appropriate a sum of money with which to buy powder for the
military needs of New England. Money to buy powder nakedly the Quakers were
not willing to vote, but they appropriated three thousand pounds to be put
into the hands of the Governor for the purchase of bread, flour, wheat or
other _grain_. Some members of the Governor's Council, desirous of still
further embarrassing the Assembly, advised him not to accept provisions
instead of powder, but he replied: "I shall take the money, for I
understand very well their meaning; other grain is gunpowder." Gunpowder he
accordingly bought, and the Quakers maintained a silence as profound as
that which lulled Franklin to sleep in their great meeting-house when he
first arrived in Philadelphia. The esoteric meaning of this kind of
language was, of course, not likely to be lost upon a man so prompt as
Franklin to take a wink for a nod. With his practical turn of mind, he was
the last person in the world to boggle over delphic words when they were
clear enough for him to see that they gave him all that he wanted. So,
when it was doubtful whether the Quakers in the Union Fire Company would
vote a fund of sixty pounds for the purchase of tickets in the lottery,
remembering the incident, which has just been related, he said to his
friend, Syng, one of its members, "If we fail, let us move the purchase of
a fire-engine with the money; the Quakers can have no objection to that;
and then, if you nominate me and I you as a committee for that purpose, we
will buy a great gun, which is certainly a _fire engine_." But there was no
real danger of the fund not being voted. The company consisted of thirty
members, of whom twenty-two were Quakers. The remaining eight punctually
attended the meeting, at which the vote was to be taken. Only one Quaker,
Mr. James Morris, appeared to oppose the grant. The proposition, he said,
with the confidence that usually marks statements in a democratic community
about the preponderance of popular opinion, ought never to have been made,
as Friends were all against it, and it would create such discord as might
break up the company. At any rate, he thought that, though the hour for
business had arrived, a little time should be allowed for the appearance of
other members of the company, who, he knew, intended to come for the
purpose of voting against the proposition. While this suggestion was being
combated, who should appear but a waiter to tell Franklin that two
gentlemen below desired to speak with him. These proved to be two of the
Quaker members of the company. Eight of them, they said, were assembled at
a tavern just by, who were ready to come and vote for the proposition, if
they should be needed, but did not desire to be sent for, if their
assistance could be dispensed with. Franklin then went back to Mr. Morris,
and after a little seeming hesitation--for at times he had a way of piecing
out the skin of the lion with the tail of the fox--agreed to a delay of
another hour. This Mr. Morris admitted was extremely fair. Nobody else
came, and, upon the expiration of the hour, the proposition was carried by
a vote of eight to one. Franklin was a thoroughly normal man himself, but
his wit, patience and rare capacity for self-transformation usually enabled
him to deal successfully with any degree of abnormality in others, however
pronounced. "Sensible people," he once said to his sister Jane, "will give
a bucket or two of water to a dry pump, that they may afterwards get from
it all they have occasion for."

The next time that Franklin crosses the stage of war is when General
Braddock and his men, in the buskins of high tragedy, are moving to their
doom. It had been reported to the General that, not only had the
Pennsylvania Assembly refused to vote money for the King's service, but
that the Pennsylvanians themselves had sold provisions to the French,
declined to aid in the construction of a road to the West, and withheld
wagons and horses sorely needed by the expedition; and the General had just
been compelled to settle down for a time in the temper of a chafed bull at
Frederick, Maryland, for the want of wagons and horses to transport his
army to Fort Duquesne, which he afterwards told Franklin could hardly
detain him above three or four days on his triumphant progress to Niagara
and Frontenac. Forts, he seemed to think, to recall Franklin's simile,
could be taken as easily as snuff. Under these circumstances, the
Pennsylvania Assembly decided to ask Franklin to visit Braddock's camp,
ostensibly as Deputy Postmaster-General, for the purpose of arranging a
plan, by which the General could effectively keep in postal touch with the
Colonial Governors, but really for the purpose of removing the prejudices
which the General had formed against Pennsylvania. And a pleasant April
journey that must have been for the mounted Franklin through Pennsylvania
and Delaware, and over "the green-walled hills of Maryland," with his son,
and the Governors of New York and Massachusetts, also mounted, as his
companions. That such a brave company, as it passed through the mild vernal
air of that delightful season from stage to stage of its itinerary,
experienced no dearth of hospitable offices, we may rest assured. One
Maryland gentleman, the "amiable and worthy" Colonel Benjamin Tasker, who
entertained Franklin and William Franklin on this journey with great
hospitality and kindness at his country place, even pleasantly claimed that
a whirlwind, which Franklin made the subject of a most graphic description
in a letter to Peter Collinson, had been got up by him on purpose to treat
Mr. Franklin.

It was probably the energy and resource of Franklin that were really
responsible for Braddock's defeat, paradoxical as this may sound. When that
brave but rash and infatuated general and his officers found that only
twenty-five wagons could be obtained in Virginia and Maryland for the
expedition, they declared that it was at an end; not less than one hundred
and fifty wagons being necessary for the purpose. Their hopes, however,
were revived when Franklin remarked that it was a pity that the army had
not landed in Pennsylvania, as almost every farmer in that Colony had his
wagon. This observation was eagerly pounced upon by Braddock, and Franklin
was duly commissioned to procure the needed wagons. With such consummate
art did he, in an address published by him at Lancaster, partly by
persuasion, and partly by threats, work upon the feelings of the prosperous
farmers of York, Lancaster and Cumberland Counties that in two weeks the
one hundred and fifty wagons, with two hundred and fifty-nine pack-horses,
were on their way to Braddock's camp. Nay more; with the aid of William
Franklin, who knew something of camp life and its wants, he drew up a list
of provisions for Braddock's subaltern officers, whose means were too
limited to enable them to victual themselves comfortably for the march,
and induced the Pennsylvania Assembly to make a present of them to these
officers. The twenty parcels, in which the provisions were packed, were
each placed upon a horse and presented to a subaltern together with the
horse itself. The twenty horses and their packs arrived in camp as soon as
the wagons, and were very thankfully received. The kindness of Franklin in
procuring them was acknowledged in letters to him from the colonels of the
two regiments composing Braddock's army in the most grateful terms, and
Braddock was so delighted with his services in furnishing the wagons and
pack-horses that he not only thanked him repeatedly, craved his further
assistance, and repaid him one thousand pounds of a sum amounting to some
thirteen hundred pounds which he had advanced, but wrote home a letter in
which, after inveighing against the "false dealings of all in this
country," with whom he had been concerned, he commended Franklin's
promptitude and fidelity, and declared that his conduct was almost the only
instance of address and fidelity which he had seen in America. The balance
of the amount that Franklin advanced he was never able to collect.

It is foreign to the plan of this book to describe the horrors of the
sylvan inferno in which the huddled soldiers of Braddock stood about as
much chance of successfully retaliating upon their flitting assailants as
if the latter had been invisible spirits. It is enough for our purpose to
say that, as soon as the wagoners, whom Franklin had gathered together, saw
how things were going, they each took a horse from his wagon, and scampered
away as fast as his steed could carry him, leaving too many wagons,
provisions, pieces of artillery, stores and scalps behind them to make it
worth the while of the victors to pursue them. Franklin states in the
_Autobiography_ that, when Braddock, with whom he dined daily at Frederick,
spoke of passing from Fort Duquesne to Niagara, and from Niagara to
Frontenac, as lightly as a traveller might speak of the successive inns at
which he was to bait on a peaceful journey, he conceived some doubts and
fears as to the event of the campaign. He might well have done so, for he
knew, if Braddock did not, what a nimble, painted and befeathered Indian in
the crepuscular shades of the primeval American forest was. We also learn
from the _Autobiography_ that when the Doctors Bond came to Franklin to ask
him to subscribe to fireworks, to be set off upon the fall of Fort
Duquesne, he looked grave, and said that it would be time enough to prepare
for the rejoicing when they knew that they had occasion to rejoice. All
this was natural enough in a man whose temper was cautious, and who had
dined daily for some time with Braddock. "The General presum'd too much,
and was too secure. This the Event proves, but it was my Opinion from the
time I saw him and convers'd with him." These were the words of Franklin in
a letter to Peter Collinson shortly after the catastrophe. But, when we
remember his written assurance in his Lancaster address to the Pennsylvania
farmers that the service, to which their wagons and horses would be put,
would be light and easy, and above all the individual promises of
indemnity, tantamount to the pledge of his entire fortune, which he gave to
these farmers, we cannot help feeling that Franklin's doubts and fears were
not quite so strong as he afterwards honestly believed them to be, and that
his second sight in this instance was, perhaps, somewhat like that of the
clairvoyant, mentioned in the letter, contributed by his friend, Joseph
Breintnal to one of his Busy-Body essays, who was "only able to discern
Transactions about the Time, and for the most Part after their happening."
Apart from the evidence afforded by the expedition that, if Braddock had
been as able a general as Franklin was a commissary, its result would have
been different, its chief interest to the biographer of Franklin consists
in the light that it sheds upon the self-satisfied ignorance of American
conditions and the complete want of sympathy with the Americans themselves
which subsequently aided in rendering the efforts of Franklin to secure a
fair hearing in London for his countrymen so difficult. When Franklin
ventured to express apprehension that the slender line of Braddock's army,
nearly four miles long, might be ambushed by the Indians, while winding its
way through the woods, and be cut like a thread into several pieces,
Braddock smiled at his simplicity and replied, "These savages may, indeed,
be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia, but upon the King's
regular and disciplin'd troops, sir, it is impossible they should make any
impression." He saw enough before he was fatally wounded to realize that
the very discipline of his British soldiers was their undoing, when
contending with such a mobile and wily foe as the Indian in the forest, and
that a few hundred provincials, skulking behind trees, and giving their
French and Indian antagonists a taste of their own tactics, were worth many
thousands of such regulars even as his brave veterans. That he came to some
conclusion of this kind before the close of his life we may infer from what
Captain Orme told Franklin and what Franklin tells us in the

     Captain Orme [says Franklin], who was one of the
     general's aids-de-camp, and, being grievously wounded,
     was brought off with him, and continu'd with him to his
     death, which happen'd in a few days, told me that he
     was totally silent all the first day, and at night only
     said "_Who would have thought it?_" That he was silent
     again the following day, saying only at last, "_We
     shall better know how to deal with them another time_";
     and dy'd in a few minutes after.

There was not to be another time for this intrepid but reckless soldier,
who, true to the broad, red banner of England, died like a bulldog with
his iron jaws set to the last, but the first time might have sufficed for
his task if he had only taken Franklin's hint, or freely consulted the
advice of George Washington and the other provincial officers who
accompanied him, or had not reduced his army merely to the condition of
legs without eyes by treating the hundred Indians, invaluable as guides and
scouts, whom George Croghan had brought to his aid, with such neglect and
slights that they all, by successive defections, gradually dropped away
from him.

In the _Autobiography_ Franklin contrasts the conduct of the British on
their way from the sea to the unbroken wilderness with the conduct of the
French allies when making their way from Rhode Island to Yorktown. The
former, he says, from their landing till they got beyond the settlements,
plundered and stripped the inhabitants, totally ruining some poor families,
besides insulting, abusing and confining such persons as remonstrated. This
was enough, he adds, to put the Americans out of conceit of such defenders,
if they had really wanted any. The French, on the other hand, though
traversing the most inhabited part of America for a distance of nearly
seven hundred miles, occasioned not the smallest complaint for the loss of
a pig, a chicken, or even an apple. Perhaps this was partly because the
people gratefully gave them everything that they wanted before there was
any occasion to take it. But it was the pusillanimous misbehavior of
Colonel Dunbar, left by Braddock in the rear of his army to bring along the
heavier part of his stores, provisions and baggage which converted disaster
into disgrace. As soon as the fugitives from the battle reached his camp,
the panic that they brought with them was instantly imparted to him and his
entire force. Though he had at his command more than a thousand men, he
thought of nothing better to do than to turn his draft horses to the
purposes of flight, and to give all his stores and ammunition to the
flames. When he reached the settlements, he was met with requests from the
Governors of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania that he would station his
troops on the frontier of those states so as to protect them from the fury
of the savages, but, so far from stopping to protect anybody else, not one
jot of speed did he abate until, to use Franklin's words, "he arriv'd at
Philadelphia, where the inhabitants could protect him." "This whole
transaction," declares the _Autobiography_, "gave us Americans the first
suspicion that our exalted ideas of the prowess of British regulars had not
been well founded."

When Dunbar did abandon the shelter which he had found at Philadelphia, it
was only to give the people of Pennsylvania a parting whiff of his quality.
He promised Franklin that, if three poor farmers of Lancaster County would
meet him at Trenton, where he expected to be in a few days on his march to
New York, he would surrender to them certain indentured servants of theirs
whom he had enlisted. Although they took him at his word, and met him at
Trenton, at considerable sacrifice of time and money, he refused to perform
his promise.

The defeat of Braddock and its consequences left the province fully exposed
to Indian incursions, and again its ablest and most public-spirited man was
compelled to take the lead in providing for its defense. His first act was
to draft and push through the Assembly a bill for organizing and
disciplining a militia. Each company was to elect a captain, a lieutenant
and an ensign, subject to the confirmation of the Governor, and the
officers, so elected, of the companies forming each regiment, were to elect
a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel and a major for the regiment, subject to
the same confirmation. But nothing about the bill is so interesting as the
further evidence that it affords of Franklin's finesse in the management of
Quakers. The Articles of Association, provided for in the Act, were to be
purely voluntary, and nothing in the Act was to be taken as authorizing the
Governor or the military officers mentioned in it to prescribe any
regulations that would in the least affect such of the inhabitants of the
Province as were scrupulous about bearing arms, either in their liberties,
persons or estates. There is almost a gleam of the true Franklin humor in
the recital in the Act, which, though other parts of the Act safeguarded
the Quaker crotchet as to fighting, made the Quaker majority in the
Assembly admit that there were some persons in the Province who had been
disciplined in the art of war, and even--strange as that might
be--conscientiously thought it their duty to fight in defense of their
country, their wives, their families and estates. The Militia Act was
followed by Franklin's _Dialogue between X Y and Z_ explaining and
defending it. This paper is garnished with apt references to the Bible,
and, as a whole, is written with much vivacity and force. Its object was to
convince the English, Scotch-Irish and German Pennsylvanians that they
should fight to keep their own scalps on their heads even though they could
not do this without accomplishing as much for the Quakers. "For my part,"
says Z, "I am no coward, but hang me if I'll fight to save the _Quakers_."
"That is to say," says X, "you won't pump ship because 'twill save the
rats, as well as yourself." And to Z's suggestion that, if the Act was
carried into execution, and proved a good one, they might have nothing to
say against the Quakers at the next election, X, no unknown quantity, but
Franklin himself, replies with this burst of eloquent exhortation which
makes us half doubt Franklin when he says that he was not an orator:

     O my friends, let us on this occasion cast from us all
     these little party views, and consider ourselves as
     _Englishmen_ and _Pennsylvanians_. Let us think only of
     the service of our king, the honour and safety of our
     country, and vengeance on its murdering enemies. If
     good be done, what imports it by whom 'tis done? The
     glory of serving and saving others is superior to the
     advantage of being served or secured. Let us resolutely
     and generously unite in our country's cause, (in which
     to die is the sweetest of all deaths) and may the God
     of Armies bless our honest endeavours.

When the defeat of Braddock first became known to Governor Morris, he
hastened to consult with Franklin about the proper measures for preventing
the desertion of the back counties of Pennsylvania, and he even went so far
as to offer to make him a general, if he would undertake to conduct a force
of provincials against Fort Duquesne. Franklin had, or with his wise
modesty affected to have, a suspicion that the offer was inspired not so
much by the Governor's confidence in his military abilities as by the
Governor's desire to utilize his great personal influence for the purpose
of enlisting soldiers and securing money to pay them with; and that,
perhaps, without the taxation of the Proprietary estates. The suspicion we
should say was groundless. In the land of the blind the one-eyed mole is
king, and the probability is that the Governor was actuated by nothing more
than the belief that in a province, where there were no seasoned generals,
a man with Franklin's talents, energy and resource would be likely to prove
the best impromptu commander that he could find. If so, his calculations
came to nothing, for Franklin, who always saw things as they were, could
discern no reason why he should be unfit to be a colonel and yet fit to be
a general. When, however, the Militia Act had been passed, and Z had been
silenced by X, and military companies were springing up as rapidly as
mushrooms in a Pennsylvania meadow, he did permit himself to be prevailed
upon by the Governor to take charge of the northwestern frontier of the
Province, and to bend his energies to the task of enlisting soldiers and
erecting forts for its protection. He did not think himself qualified for
even this quasi-military post, but posterity has taken the liberty of
differing from him in this regard. Having speedily rallied five hundred and
sixty men to his standard, and called his son, who had had some military
training, to his side, as his aide-de-camp, he assembled his little army at
Bethlehem, the chief seat of the Moravians, and divided it into three
detachments. One he sent off towards the Minisink to build a fort in the
upper part of the exposed territory, another he sent off to build a fort in
the lower part of the same territory, and the third he conducted himself to
Gnadenhutten, a Moravian village, recently reduced to blood and ashes by
the Indians, for the purpose of erecting a third fort there.

When he reached Bethlehem, he found that not only had the Moravian
brethren, who, he had had reason to believe, were conscientiously averse to
war, erected a stockade around the principal buildings of the town, and
purchased a supply of arms and ammunition for themselves in New York, but
that they had even placed a quantity of stones between the windows of their
high houses, to be thrown down by their women upon the heads of any Indians
by whom these buildings might be invested. "Common sense, aided by present
danger, will sometimes be too strong for whimsical opinions," dryly
comments Franklin in the _Autobiography_.

How death kept his court in that tortured land may be inferred from an
incident recorded by Franklin in the _Autobiography_. Just before he left
Bethlehem for Gnadenhutten, eleven farmers who had been driven from their
plantations by the Indians obtained from him each a gun with a suitable
supply of ammunition, and returned to their homes to fetch away their
cattle. Ten of the eleven were killed by the Indians. The one who escaped
reported that they could not discharge their guns because the priming had
become wet with rain--a mishap which the Indians were too dexterous to
allow to befall their pieces. The same rain descended upon Franklin and his
men on their march from Bethlehem to Gnadenhutten, and disabled their guns
too, but fortunately, though at one point they had to pass through a gap in
the mountains which their foes might well have turned to deadly account,
they were not attacked on the march. Once arrived at Gnadenhutten, as soon
as the detachment had sheltered itself under rude huts, and interred with
more decent completeness the massacred victims, who had been only half
buried by their demoralized neighbors, it proceeded to fell trees and to
erect a fort, or rather stockade, with a circumference of four hundred and
fifty-five feet. "How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke," was not
more aptly written of the peasants whom Gray's _Elegy_ has immortalized,
than it might have been of the seventy brawny axemen in Franklin's camp,
two of whom could by Franklin's watch in six minutes cut down a pine
fourteen inches in diameter. In a week, in spite of drenching rains, a
stockade had been constructed of sufficient strength, flimsy as it was, to
fend off cannonless Indians. It consisted of palisades eighteen feet long,
planted in a trench three feet deep, loopholes, and a gallery, at an
elevation of six feet around its interior, for its defenders to stand on
and take aim through the loopholes. When it had been finished, a swivel gun
was mounted at one of its angles and discharged to let the Indians know
that the garrison was supplied with such pieces. They were not far off; for
when Franklin began, after he had furnished himself with a place of refuge,
in case of retreat, to throw out scouting parties over the adjacent
country, he found that they had been watching his movements from the hills
with their feet dangling in holes, in which, for warmth, fires, made of
charcoal, had been kindled. With their fires going in this way, there was
neither light, flame, sparks, nor even smoke, to betray their presence;
but it would seem that they were too few in numbers to feel that they could
hazard an attack upon the stockade-builders.

The impression left upon the mind by this expedition is that it was managed
by Franklin with no little good sense and efficiency, though it does seem
to us that a man who never lacked the capacity to invent any mechanical
device called for by his immediate needs ought to have been too provident
to find himself in a narrow defile with guns as impotent as those of the
ten poor farmers who had perished that very day. It was inexcusable in Poor
Richard at any rate to forget his own saying, "For want of a Nail the Shoe
was lost; for want of a Shoe the Horse was lost; and for want of a Horse
the Rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the Enemy; all for want of
care about a Horse-shoe Nail." In his instructions, before he left
Bethlehem, to Captain Vanetta, in relation to certain operations, which the
latter was to undertake with a separate force against the Indians,
Franklin, though he said nothing about trusting in God, took care to warn
the captain to keep his powder dry. The expedition was cut short by a
letter from the Governor and letters from Franklin's friends in the
Assembly urging him to attend the sessions about to be held by that body.
There was no reason why he should not do so; for the three forts were
completed, and the country people, relying upon the protection afforded by
them, were content to remain on their farms; and especially too as Colonel
Clapham, a New England officer, conversant with Indian warfare, had
accepted the command in the place of Franklin, and had been introduced by
the latter to his men as a soldier much better fitted to lead them than
himself. But Franklin, though he had never been engaged in battle, found on
his return to Philadelphia that he had won a military prestige upon which
he could not easily turn his back. He was elected colonel of the
Philadelphia regiment under such circumstances that he was unable to again
decline the honor of a colonelcy on the score of unfitness. His regiment
consisted of about twelve hundred presentable men, with an artillery
company, furnished with six brass field-pieces, which the company had
become expert enough to fire off twelve times in a minute.

     The first time [says Franklin in the _Autobiography] I
     reviewed my regiment they accompanied me to my house,
     and_ would salute me with some rounds fired before my
     door, which shook down and broke several glasses of my
     electrical apparatus. And my new honour proved not much
     less brittle; for all our commissions were soon after
     broken by a repeal of the law in England.

If, however, his colonelcy had not been marked by any considerable effusion
of blood, he had acquired fame enough to arouse the intense jealousy of
Thomas Penn, the Proprietary. When Franklin was on the point of setting out
on a journey to Virginia, the officers of his regiment took it into their
heads to escort him out of town as far as the Lower Ferry. This ceremonious
proceeding was unexpectedly sprung upon him; otherwise, he says, he would
have prevented it, being naturally averse to all flourishes of that sort.
As it was, just as he was getting on horseback, the officers, thirty or
forty in number, came to his door, all mounted, and in their uniforms, and,
as soon as the cavalcade commenced to move, made things worse by drawing
their swords and riding with them naked the entire distance to the Lower
Ferry. The Proprietary, when he heard of the incident, was deeply
affronted. No such honor, forsooth, he declared, had ever been paid to him,
when in the Province, nor to any of his Governors, and was only proper when
due homage was being paid to princes of the blood royal; all of which
Franklin innocently tells us might be so for aught such a novice in
matters of this kind as he knew. So aroused indeed was the Proprietary by
the affair, coming as it did on the heels of the grudge that he already
owed Franklin for his part in insisting that the Proprietary estates should
sustain their just share of the common burden of taxation, that he even
denounced Franklin to the British ministry as the arch obstructionist of
measures for the King's service, citing the pomp of this occasion as
evidence of the fact that Franklin harbored the intention of taking the
government of the Province out of his hands by force. His malice, in fact,
did not stop short even of an effort to deprive Franklin of his office as
Deputy Postmaster-General for the Colonies; with no effect, however, except
that of eliciting a gentle admonition to Franklin from Sir Everard
Fawkener, the British Postmaster-General.

Thus ended for a time the military career of Franklin amid the crash of his
electrical apparatus and the gleam of unfleshed swords. Susceptible of
subdivision as his life is, it would hardly justify a separate chapter on
Franklin the Soldier; but, all the same, by the splendidly efficient
service rendered by him to Braddock, by his pamphlet, _Plain Truth_, by his
Articles of Association and his battery, by his X Y Z dialogue and Militia
Act, by his tact in conciliating and circumventing the awkward Quaker
conviction that "peace unweaponed conquers every wrong," and by the energy
and sound judgment brought by him to the expedition to Gnadenhutten he had
established his right to be considered in war as well as in peace the man
whose existence could be less easily spared than that of any other
Pennsylvanian. There is a pleasure in speculating on the turn that his
future might have taken if the terms in which Braddock recommended him to
the favor of the Crown had been followed by the fall of Fort Duquesne
instead of the battle of the Monongahela. While in his relations to
Braddock's expedition he was influenced, as he always was in every such
case, mainly by generous public spirit, yet it is manifest, too, that he
was fully alive to the significance that his first helpful contact with
such a British commander as Braddock might have for his own

The sterner stuff in the character of Franklin, however, was to be still
further tried. During the year succeeding his second return from England in
1762, the minds of the people in the western counties of Pennsylvania, and
especially of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, whose passions were easily
deflected into channels of religious fanaticism, were inflamed almost to
madness by Indian atrocities, and this mental condition resulted in an act
of abominable butchery, such as has rarely blackened even the history of
the American Indian himself. Living not far from the town of Lancaster, on
the Manor of Conestoga, was the remnant of what had once been a
considerable tribe of the Six Nations. The members of this tribe sent
messengers to welcome the first English settlers of Pennsylvania with
presents of venison, corn and furs, and entered into a treaty of friendship
with William Penn which, in the figurative language of the savage, was to
last "as long as the Sun should shine, or the Waters run in the Rivers,"
and which in point of fact was faithfully observed by both parties. In the
course of time, as the whites purchased land from them, and hemmed them in
more and more closely, they settled down upon a part of the Manor assigned
to them by William Penn which they were not allowed by the Provincial
Government to alienate, and here they lived on terms of unbroken amity with
their white neighbors. In the further course of time, the tribe dwindled to
such an extent that there were only twenty survivors, seven men, five
women, and eight children of both sexes, whose means of subsistence were
supplied to some extent by mendicancy and the chase, but mainly by the sale
to the whites of the brooms, baskets and wooden ladles made by the women.
The oldest of the band, a man named Shehaes, was old enough to have been
present when the original chain of friendship between the tribe and William
Penn was brightened by a second treaty between the same contracting
parties. The youngest were infants. There is good reason to believe that at
least one or two of the band had been in secret commerce with the hostile
Indians whose shocking barbarities had filled the souls of such of the
Pennsylvania borderers as had not been tomahawked, carried off into
captivity or driven from their homes with sensations little short of
frenzied desperation. On Wednesday, the 14th of December, 1763, fifty men
from the territory about Paxton, a small town in Pennsylvania, on the
Susquehanna above Conestoga, all mounted, and armed with firelocks, hangers
and hatchets, descended upon the squalid huts of this band, about dawn, and
slaughtered in cold blood three men, two women and a young boy--the only
members of the vagabond band whom they found at home. The firelocks,
hangers and hatchets were all used in perpetrating the bloody work, and the
miserable victims were scalped and horribly mangled besides. Shehaes
himself was cut to pieces in his bed. Then, after seizing upon such booty
as was to be found, and applying the torch to most of the huts, the
murderers rode away through the snow-drifts to their homes. A shudder of
horror passed through the whites in the vicinity, and a cry of bitter
lamentation went up from the younger survivors of the band when they
returned to the sickening spot, where the charred bodies of their parents
and other relations, looking as one observer said like half burnt logs,
told the hideous story.

     We had known the greater part of them from children
     [said Susannah Wright, a humane white woman, who
     resided near the spot], had been always intimate with
     them. Three or four of the women were sensible and
     civilized, and the Indians' children used to play with
     ours, and oblige them all they could. We had many
     endearing recollections of them, and the manner of
     effecting the brutal enormity so affected us, that we
     had to beg visitors to forbear to speak of it.

The public officials of the Province appear to have faithfully performed
their duty immediately after the tragedy. The survivors were gathered
together by the sheriff of Lancaster, and placed in the workhouse for
safety. A hundred and forty other friendly Indians, who had been converted
by the Moravians, fearing that they might be visited with just such
violence, had found, before the descent upon Conestoga, shelter near
Philadelphia, at the public expense, under the guidance of a good Moravian
minister. The Governor, John Penn, issued a proclamation calling upon all
the civil and military officers of the Colony and all His Majesty's other
liege subjects to do their duty. But the Governor soon found that he was
reckoning with that Scotch-Irish temper, which, at its highest point of
rigidity, is like concrete reinforced with iron rods, and which in this
instance was more or less countenanced by the sympathy of the entire
Province. Despite the proclamation of the Governor under the great seal of
the Colony, the incensed frontiersmen, now fired by the fresh taste of
blood as well as by the original conviction of the settlements from which
they came that an angry God had turned his face from the inhabitants of
Pennsylvania, because they had not smitten, hip and thigh, and utterly
destroyed the red-skinned Amorites and Canaanites, again assembled, and
riding into Lancaster, armed as on the previous occasion, broke in the door
of its workhouse and dispatched every solitary one of the poor wretches who
had escaped their pitiless hands. Thereupon, they mounted their horses,
huzzaed in triumph, and rode off unmolested. The whole thing was like the
flight of the pigeon-hawk, so swift and deadly was it; for, within ten or
twelve minutes after the alarm was given, the borderers were again in their
saddles. By a large part of the population of the Province the deed was
applauded as the infliction of just vengeance upon a race which had many
unspeakable enormities to answer for in its relations to the whites; by the
people of the Province generally, except the Quakers, it was but languidly
condemned, and the proclamations of the Governor proved to be mere paper
trumpets, for all the efforts of the Government to bring the criminals to
justice were wholly unsuccessful.

But there was one man in the Province, and he not a Quaker either, to whom
justice, mercy and law had not lost their meaning. In his _Narrative of the
Late Massacres in Lancaster County_, Franklin, in words as burning as any
ever inspired by righteous wrath, denounced with blistering force the
assassins and their crimes. Anger, Lord Bacon tells us, makes even dull men
witty. Just indignation in this case lifted one of the soberest and most
self-contained of men to the level of impassioned feeling and of almost
lyrical speech. With a firm yet rapid hand, Franklin sketched the history
of the tribe, its peaceful intercourse with the whites, its decline until
it numbered only the twenty creatures whom he brings vividly before us with
a few familiar strokes of individual description, the infamous
circumstances that attended the destruction of defenseless weakness in hut
and workhouse. Then, along with illustrations of clemency and magnanimity
derived from many different historical and national sources, and even from
the annals of semi-civilized and barbarous communities, and graphically
contrasted with the conduct of the ruthless men who had wreaked their will
upon the Conestoga villagers, male and female, and their children, he
poured out a tide of scathing execration upon the heads of the malefactors
which showed as nothing else in all his life ever showed how deep were the
fountains that fed the calm flow of his ordinary benevolence.

     O, ye unhappy Perpetrators of this horrid Wickedness!
     [he exclaimed, rising with a natural crescendo of
     exalted feeling even into the sublimated province of
     the apostrophe] reflect a Moment on the Mischief ye
     have done, the Disgrace ye have brought on your
     Country, on your Religion, and your Bible, on your
     Families and Children! Think on the Destruction of your
     captivated Country-folks (now among the wild _Indians_)
     which probably may follow, in Resentment of your
     Barbarity! Think on the Wrath of the United _Five
     Nations_, hitherto our Friends, but now provoked by
     your murdering one of their Tribes, in Danger of
     becoming our bitter Enemies. Think of the mild and good
     Government you have so audaciously insulted; the Laws
     of your King, your Country, and your God, that you have
     broken; the infamous Death that hangs over your Heads;
     for Justice, though slow, will come at last. All good
     People everywhere detest your Actions. You have imbrued
     your Hands in innocent Blood; how will you make them
     clean? The dying Shrieks and Groans of the Murdered,
     will often sound in your Ears. Their Spectres will
     sometimes attend you, and affright even your innocent
     Children! Fly where you will, your Consciences will go
     with you. Talking in your Sleep shall betray you, in
     the Delirium of a Fever you yourselves shall make your
     own Wickedness known.

These were honest, fearless words, but, so far as we know, the Erynnes did
not plant any stings of conscience in the breasts of the men from Paxton
District whom Franklin elsewhere in this Narrative described as the
Christian white savages of Paxton and Donegal. On the contrary, several
hundred men from the same region, armed with rifles and hatchets, and clad
in hunting shirts, marched towards Philadelphia with the avowed purpose of
killing the Moravian Indians who had found refuge in its vicinity. The city
was reduced to a state of terror, and Governor Penn, like his predecessors,
could think of nothing more expedient to do than to invoke the advice and
assistance of Franklin. He accordingly made Franklin's house his
headquarters, and freely consulted with him touching every defensive
measure required by the crisis. Again Franklin formed an association for
the protection of Philadelphia; and, under his auspices, the citizens of
Philadelphia were enrolled into nine companies, six of infantry, two of
horse, and one of artillery. "Governor Penn," he afterwards declared in a
letter to Lord Kames, "made my house for some time his headquarters, and
did everything by my advice; so that, for about forty-eight hours, I was a
very great man; as I had been once some years before, in a time of public
danger." On came the insurgents until they reached Germantown, seven miles
from the city. Here they were met by four citizens, of whom Franklin was
one, who had been requested by the Governor and his Council to confer with
them. While the conference was pending, Franklin's regiment, supported by a
detachment of King's troops, remained in the city under arms, and even
young Quakers labored incessantly to complete the intrenchments around the
barracks, in which the menaced Indians with their Moravian shepherd had
been placed. Indeed, now that the waves of the Presbyterian invasion were
lapping his own doorsill, the Quaker of every age in Philadelphia appears
to have entirely lost sight of the duty of non-resistance. The conference
satisfied the insurgents that graver work was ahead of them than that of
slaying and scalping old men, women and children, and they retraced their
steps. "The fighting face we put on," said Franklin, in his letter to Lord
Kames, "and the reasonings we used with the insurgents,... having turned
them back and restored quiet to the city, I became a less man than ever;
for I had, by these transactions, made myself many enemies among the
populace." He had, indeed, but not one whose enmity was not more honorable
to him than the friendship of even all his host of friends.

Nor did the eagerness of Franklin to bring the Paxton assassins to justice
cease with the conference at Germantown. Though pamphlets were sold in the
streets of Philadelphia lauding their acts, and inveighing against all who
had assisted in protecting the Moravian Indians, though the Governor
himself was weak or wicked enough to curry political favor with the party
which approved the recent outrages, Franklin still inflexibly maintained
that the law should be vindicated by the condign punishment of the Paxton
ringleaders. In another place we shall see what his resolute stand cost him


[9] In his Plan for Settling Two Western Colonies in North America,
Franklin says ruefully that, if the English did not flow westwardly into
the great country back of the Appalachian Mountains on both sides of the
Ohio, and between that river and the Lakes, which would undoubtedly
(perhaps in less than another century) become a populous and powerful
dominion, and a great accession of power either to England or France, the
French, with the aid of the Indians, would, by cutting off new means of
subsistence, discourage marriages among the English, and keep them from
increasing; thus (if the expression might be allowed) killing thousands of
their children before they were born.

[10] The existence of so much evil and misery in the world was a
stumbling-block to Franklin as it has been to so many other human beings.
In a letter to Jane Mecom, dated Dec. 30, 1770, he told her that he had
known in London some forty-five years before a printer's widow, named
Ilive, who had required her son by her will to deliver publicly in Salter's
Hall a solemn discourse in support of the proposition that this world is
the true Hell, or place of punishment for the spirits who have transgressed
in a better place and are sent here to suffer for their sins as animals of
all sorts. "In fact," Franklin continued, "we see here, that every lower
animal has its enemy, with proper inclinations, faculties, and weapons, to
terrify, wound, and destroy it; and that men, who are uppermost, are devils
to one another; so that, on the established doctrine of the goodness and
justice of the great Creator, this apparent state of general and
systematical mischief seemed to demand some such supposition as Mrs.
Ilive's, to account for it consistently with the honour of the Deity."

[11] The American Philosophical Society Held at Philadelphia for Promoting
Useful Knowledge was formed in 1769 by the union of the Philosophical
Society founded by Franklin, which, after languishing for many years, was
revived in 1767, and The American Society Held at Philadelphia for the
Promotion of Useful Knowledge; and Franklin, though absent in England, was
elected its first President.

[12] As a token of his sense of obligation to the instruction derived by
him in his boyhood from a free Boston grammar school, Franklin bequeathed
the sum of one hundred pounds sterling to the free schools of that city,
subject to the condition that it was to be invested, and that the interest
produced by it was to be annually laid out in silver medals, to be awarded
as prizes.

[13] In an earlier letter to James Parker, Franklin commented on the
"Dutch" immigration into Pennsylvania very much as a Californian was
afterwards in the habit of doing on the Chinese immigration to our Pacific
coast. The "Dutch" under-lived, and were thereby enabled, he said, "to
under-work and under-sell the English." In his essay on _The Increase of
Mankind_, he asked: "Why should the _Palatine Boors_ be suffered to swarm
into our Settlements, and, by herding together, establish their Language
and Manners, to the Exclusion of ours?" Expressions in his letter to
Jackson, which we do not mention in our text, make it manifest enough that
he gravely doubted whether the German population of Pennsylvania could be
relied upon to assist actively in the defence of the Province in the event
of its being invaded by the French. However, after suggesting some means of
improving the situation, he is compelled to conclude with these words: "I
say, I am not against the Admission of Germans in general, for they have
their Virtues. Their Industry and Frugality are exemplary. They are
excellent Husbandmen; and contribute greatly to the Improvement of a

[14] Another sidelight upon the character of Franklin in his boyhood is
found in connection with the caution in regard to England that he gave to
Robert Morris in 1782, when the Revolutionary War was coming to an end.
"That nation," he said, "is changeable. And though somewhat humbled at
present, a little success may make them as insolent as ever. I remember
that, when I was a boxing boy, it was allowed, even after an adversary said
he had enough, to give him a rising blow. Let ours be a douser."

[15] Franklin certainly set an example on this occasion of the vigilant
regard to the future which he afterwards enjoined in such a picturesque way
upon Temple, when he was counselling the latter not to let the season of
youth slip by him unimproved by diligence in his studies. "The Ancients,"
he said, "painted _Opportunity_ as an old Man with Wings to his Feet &
Shoulders, a great Lock of Hair on the forepart of his Head, but bald
behind; whence comes our old saying, _Take Time by the Forelock_; as much
as to say, when it is past, there is no means of pulling it back again; as
there is no Lock behind to take hold of for that purpose." The advice of
similar tenor in a somewhat later letter from Franklin to Temple has a
touch of poetry about it. "If this Season is neglected," he said, "it will
be like cutting off the Spring from the Year." So quick was the sympathy of
Franklin always with youthful feelings and interests that he never grew too
old for the application to him of Emerson's highly imaginative lines,

    "The old wine darkling in the cask,
    Feels the bloom on the living vine."



When we turn from Franklin's philanthropic zeal and public spirit to his
more intimate personal and social traits, we find much that is admirable,
not a little that is lovable, and some things with quite a different
aspect. His vow of self-correction, when he had sowed his wild oats and
reaped the usual harvest of smut and tares, was, as we have intimated,
retrospective as well as prospective. He violated his obligations, as his
brother James' apprentice, by absconding from Boston before his time was
up, and added aggravation to his original offence by returning to Boston,
and exhibiting his genteel new suit, watch and silver money to his
brother's journeymen, while he descanted to them upon the land of milk and
honey from which he had brought back these indicia of prosperity; his
brother all the time standing by grum and sullen, and struggling with the
emotions which afterwards caused him to say to his stepmother, when she
expressed her wish that the brothers might become reconciled, that Benjamin
had insulted him in such a manner before his people that he could never
forget or forgive it. In this, however, he was mistaken, as Franklin
tersely observes in the _Autobiography_. Some ten years subsequently, on
his return from one of his decennial visits to Boston, Franklin stopped
over at Newport, to see this brother, who had removed thither, and he
found him in a state of rapid physical decline. The former differences were
forgotten, the meeting was very cordial and affectionate, and, in
compliance with a request, then made of him by James, Franklin took James'
son, a boy of ten, as an apprentice, into his own printing house at
Philadelphia. Indeed, he did more than he was asked to do; for he sent the
boy for some years to school before putting him to work. Afterwards, when
the nephew became old enough to launch out into business on his own
account, Franklin helped him to establish himself as a printer in New
England with gifts of printing materials and a loan of more than two
hundred pounds. Thus was the first _deleatur_ of pricking conscience duly
heeded by Franklin, the Printer; the first _erratum_ revised. And it is but
just to him to say that the _erratum_, if the whole truth were told, was
probably more venial than his forgiving spirit allowed him to fully
disclose. Under the indentures of apprenticeship, it was as incumbent upon
the older brother to abstain from excessive punishment as it was upon the
younger not to abscond. Franklin, in the _Autobiography_, while stating
that James was passionate and often beat him, also states that James was
otherwise not an ill-natured man, and finds extenuation for his brother's
violence in the fear of the latter that the success of the Silence Dogood
letters might make the young apprentice vain, and in the fact that the
young apprentice himself was perhaps too saucy and provoking. Franklin
almost always had a word of generous palliation for anyone who had wronged
him. The chances, we think, distinctly are that the real nature of the
relations between James and Benjamin are to be found not in the text of the
_Autobiography_ but in the note to it in which its author declares that the
harsh and tyrannical treatment of his brother might have been a means of
impressing him with that aversion to arbitrary power which had stuck to him
through his whole life. Nor should it be forgotten that the younger
brother did not bring the Canaan south of the Delaware, nor the watch and
other evidences of the good fortune that he had found there, to the
attention of James' journeymen until James, whom he had called to see at
the printing house, where these journeymen were employed, had received him
coldly, looked him all over, and turned to his work again. There is the
fact besides, if Franklin is to be permitted to testify in his own behalf,
that, when the disputes between the two brothers were submitted to their
father, whose good sense and fairness frequently led him to be chosen as an
arbitrator between contending parties, the judgment was generally in
Benjamin's favor; either, he says, because he was usually in the right (he
fancied) or else was a better pleader. Another _erratum_ was revised when,
after plighting his troth to Deborah Read on the eve of his first voyage to
London, and then forgetting it in the distractions of the English capital,
he subsequently married her. Still another was revised when he discharged
the debt to Mr. Vernon, which occasioned him so much mental distress. The
debt arose in this manner: On his return journey to Philadelphia, after his
first visit to Boston, he was asked by Mr. Vernon, a friend of his brother,
John, who resided at Newport, to collect the sum of thirty-five pounds
currency due to Mr. Vernon in Pennsylvania, and to keep it until Mr. Vernon
gave him instructions about its remittance. The money was duly collected by
Franklin on his way to Philadelphia, but unfortunately for him his youthful
friend Collins, before his departure from Boston, had decided to remove to
Pennsylvania, too, and proceeding from Boston to New York in advance of
him, was his companion from New York to Philadelphia. While awaiting
Franklin's arrival at New York, Collins drank up and gambled away all his
own money. The consequence was that Franklin had to pay his lodging for him
at New York and defray all his subsequent expenses. The journey to
Philadelphia could be completed only with the aid of the Vernon debt, and,
after the two reached Philadelphia, Collins, being unable to obtain any
employment because of his bad habits, and knowing that Franklin had the
balance of the Vernon collection in his hands, repeatedly borrowed sums
from him, promising to repay them as soon as he was earning something
himself. By these loans the amount collected for Mr. Vernon was finally
reduced to such an extent that Franklin was at a painful loss to know what
he should do in case Mr. Vernon demanded payment. The thought of his
situation haunted him for some years to come, but happily for him Mr.
Vernon was an exception to the saying of Poor Richard that creditors are a
superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times. He kindly made
no demand upon Franklin for quite a long period, and in the end merely put
him in mind of the debt, though not pressing him to pay it; whereupon
Franklin wrote to him, we are told by the _Autobiography_, an ingenuous
letter of acknowledgment, craved his forbearance a little longer, which was
granted, and later on, as soon as he was able to do so, paid the principal
with interest and many thanks. Just why Mr. Vernon was such an indulgent
creditor the _Autobiography_ does not reveal. If, as Franklin subsequently
wrote to Strahan, the New England people were artful to get into debt and
but poor pay, Mr. Vernon at any rate furnishes evidence that they could be
generous lenders. Perhaps Mr. Vernon simply had his favorable
prepossessions like many other men who knew Franklin in his early life, or
perhaps he had some of Franklin's own quick sympathy with the trials and
struggles of youth, and was not averse to lending him the use, even though
compulsory, of a little capital, or, perhaps, he was restrained from
dunning Franklin by his friendship for Franklin's brother.

The _erratum_ into which Franklin fell in writing and publishing his
free-thinking dissertation on _Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain_,
which was dedicated to his friend Ralph, he revised, as we have seen, by
destroying all the copies upon which he could lay his hands and also, we
might add, by a counter pamphlet in which he recanted and combated his own
reasonings. In his unreflecting hours he mixed the poison; in his more
reflective hours he compounded the antidote.

Franklin was guilty of another _erratum_ when Ralph found that it was one
thing to have an essay on Liberty dedicated to him by a friend and another
thing to have the friend taking liberties with his mistress. This _erratum_
was never revised by Franklin unless upon principles of revision with which
Ralph himself at least could not find fault, as the history of the
_erratum_ is told in the _Autobiography_. The young woman in this case was
a milliner, genteelly bred, sensible, lively, and of most pleasing
conversation. Ralph, who, until Pope brought him back with a disillusioning
thud to the dull earth by a shaft from the _Dunciad_, imagined himself to
be endowed with an exalted poetic genius, read plays to her in the
evenings, and finally formed a _liaison_ with her. They lived together for
a time, but, finding that her income was not sufficient to sustain them
both and the child that was the fruit of the connection, he took charge of
a country school where he taught ten or a dozen boys how to read and write
at sixpence each a week, assumed Franklin's name because he did not wish
the world to know that he had ever been so meanly employed, recommended his
mistress to Franklin's protection, and, in spite of every dissuasive that
Franklin could bring to bear upon him, including a copy of a great part of
one of Young's satires, which set forth in a strong light the folly of
courting the Muses, sent to Franklin from time to time profuse specimens of
the _magnum opus_ over which he was toiling. In the meantime, the
milliner, having suffered on Ralph's account in both reputation and estate,
was occasionally compelled to obtain pecuniary assistance from Franklin.
The result was that he grew fond of her society, and, presuming upon his
importance to her, attempted familiarities with her which she repelled with
a proper resentment, and communicated to Ralph, who, on his next return to
London, let Franklin know that he considered all his obligations to him
cancelled. As these obligations consisted wholly of sums that Franklin had
lent to Ralph, or advanced on Ralph's account from time to time out of his
earnings from his vocation as a printer, Franklin, we suppose, might fairly
conclude, in accordance with Ralph's method of reasoning, that he had
revised the _erratum_ by duly paying the penalty for it in terms of money,
even if in no other form of atonement. At the time, he consoled himself
with the reflection that Ralph's cancellation of obligations, which he had
no means of paying, was not very material, and that Ralph's withdrawal of
his friendship at least meant relief from further pecuniary loans. He does
not say so, but exemption from further instalments of the laboring epic
must have counted for something too. The cross-currents of human existence,
however, were destined to again bring Ralph and Franklin into personal
intercourse. It was after Franklin had arrived in England in 1757 as the
agent of the People of Pennsylvania and Ralph, not a Homer or Milton, as he
had fondly hoped to be, but a historian, pamphleteer and newspaper writer
of no contemptible abilities, had gotten beyond the necessity of doing what
Pope in a truculent note to the _Dunciad_ had charged him with doing,
namely, writing on both sides of a controversy on one and the same day, and
afterwards publicly justifying the morality of his conduct. Indeed, he had
gotten far enough beyond it at this stage of his life to be even a sufferer
from the gout, and, remarkable as it may seem, in the light of the manner
in which he had paid his indebtedness to Franklin, to be equal to the
nicety of returning to the Duke of Bedford one hundred and fifty of the two
hundred pounds that the Duke of Bedford had contributed to the support of
the _Protestor_, a newspaper conducted by Ralph in the interest of the Duke
of Bedford against the Duke of Newcastle. The _Autobiography_ states that
from Governor Denny Franklin had previously learned that Ralph was still
alive, that he was esteemed one of the best political writers in England,
had been employed in the dispute between Prince Frederick and the King, and
had obtained a pension of three hundred a year; that his reputation was
indeed small as a poet, Pope having damned his poetry in the _Dunciad_, but
that his prose was thought as good as any man's. A few months after
receiving this information, Franklin arrived in England, and Ralph called
on him to renew the tie sundered for some thirty years. One sequel was a
letter from Franklin to his wife in which he wrote to her as follows:

     I have seen Mr. Ralph, and delivered him Mrs.
     Garrigues's letter. He is removed from Turnham Green,
     when I return, I will tell you everything relating to
     him, in the meantime I must advise Mrs. Garrigue not to
     write to him again, till I send her word how to direct
     her letters, he being unwilling, for some good reasons,
     that his present wife should know anything of his
     having any connections in America. He expresses great
     affection for his daughter and grandchildren. He has
     but one child here.

Other _errata_ of Franklin were due to the amorous disposition over which
he took such little pains to draw the veil of delicacy and reserve. Sexual
ardor has doubtless exerted quite as imperious a dominion in youth over
some other great men, but none of them have been so willing to confess the
overbearing force of its importunities. Speaking of the time prior to his
marriage, when he was twenty-four years of age, Franklin says in the
_Autobiography_: "In the meantime, that hard-to-be-governed passion of
youth hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my
way, which were attended with some expense and great inconvenience, besides
a continual risque to my health by a distemper which of all things I
dreaded, though by great good luck I escaped it." It was to his son,
strangely enough, that this chapter of his personal history was unfolded.
Franklin was writing a word of warning as well as of hope for his
posterity, and he painted himself, as Cromwell wished to be painted, wart
and all.

For such _errata_ as these there was no atonement to be made except in the
sense of self-degradation likely, in the case of every self-respecting man,
to follow the illicit gratification of strong physical appetites, and this
Franklin had too ingenuous a way of looking at sexual irregularity to feel
very acutely. The only real reinforcement that a nature like his could find
against what Ferdinand in the _Tempest_ calls the suggestions of "our
worser genius" was the sedative influence of marriage, its duties, its
responsibilities, and its calm equable flow of mutual affection; and
Franklin was early married and found in marriage and the human interests
that cluster about it an uncommon measure of satisfaction and happiness.

It is an old, old story, that story of Benjamin and Deborah told in the
_Autobiography_. It began on the memorable Sunday morning, when the runaway
apprentice, shortly after landing at the Market Street wharf in
Philadelphia, hungry, dirty from his journey, dressed in his working
clothes, and with his great flap pockets stuffed with shirts and stockings,
passed up Market Street before the eyes of his future wife, which were alit
with merriment as he passed, clasping a great puffy Philadelphia roll under
each arm and eating a third. She saw him from her father's door as he went
by, presenting this "awkward, ridiculous appearance," and little realized
that the ludicrous apparition which she saw was not only to be her lifelong
consort, but, stranger as he then was to every human being in Philadelphia,
was in coming years to confer upon that city no small part of the heritage
of his own imperishable renown.

The pair were soon brought into close relations with each other. Keimer,
the printer, with whom Benjamin found employment, could not lodge Benjamin
in his own house for lack of furniture; so he found lodging for him with
Mr. Read, Keimer's landlord and Deborah's father. And Benjamin was now in a
very different plight from that in which she had first seen him; for he was
earning a livelihood for himself, and his chest with better clothes in it
than those that he had on when he was eating his roll under such
difficulties had come around to him by sea. He was not long in forming "a
great respect and affection" for Deborah, which he had some reason to
believe were reciprocated by her. Courtship followed, but he was on the
point of setting out for London on the fool's errand which Governor Keith
had planned for him, he and Deborah were but a little over eighteen, and
her mother thought that it would be more convenient for the marriage to
take place on his return, after he had purchased in London the printing
outfit that he was to buy upon the credit of Governor Keith, who really had
no credit. "Perhaps, too," adds Franklin, "she thought my expectations not
so well founded as I imagined them to be."

The fateful day came when the annual ship between London and Philadelphia
was to sail. Of the fond parting we have no record except Franklin's old
fashioned statement that in leaving he "interchang'd some promises with
Miss Read." These promises, so far as he was concerned, were soon lost to
memory in the lethean cares, diversions and dissipations of eighteenth
century London. By degrees, Franklin tells us, he forgot his engagements
with Miss Read, and never wrote more than one letter to her, and that to
let her know that he was not likely to return soon. "This," he says, "was
another of the great _errata_ of my life, which I should wish to correct if
I were to live it over again." Another of those _errata_ of his life, he
might have added, in regard to which, like his use of Mr. Vernon's money,
his approaches to Ralph's mistress, and his commerce with lewd wenches, the
world, with which silence often passes as current as innocence, would never
have been the wiser, if he had not chosen, as so few men have been
sufficiently courageous and disinterested to do, to make beacons of his own
sins for others to steer their lives by. He did return, as we know, but
Miss Read was Miss Read no longer. In his absence, her friends, despairing
of his return after the receipt of his letter by Deborah (how mercilessly
he divulges it all), had persuaded her to marry another, one Rogers, a
potter, "a worthless fellow, tho' an excellent workman, which was the
temptation to her friends." With him, however, Franklin tells us, "she was
never happy, and soon parted from him, refusing to cohabit with him or bear
his name, it being now said that he had another wife." One more concise
statement from Rogers's marital successor, and Rogers disappears as
suddenly as if shot through a stage trap-door. "He got into debt, ran away
in 1727 or 1728, went to the West Indies, and died there." At that time,
the West Indies seem to have been the dust-pan into which all the human
refuse of colonial America was swept.

In a letter to his friend Catherine Ray, in 1755, Franklin told her that
the cords of love and friendship had in times past drawn him further than
from Rhode Island to Philadelphia, "even back from England to
Philadelphia." This statement, we fear, if not due to the facility with
which every good husband is apt to forget that his wife was not the first
woman that he fell in love with, must be classed with Franklin's statement
in the _Autobiography_ that Sir Hans Sloane persuaded him to let him add an
asbestos purse owned by Franklin to his museum of curiosities, his
statement in a letter to his son that he was never sued until a bill in
chancery was filed against him after his removal from the office of Deputy
Postmaster-General, and his statement made at different times that he never
asked for a public office. We know from Franklin's own pen that it was he
who solicited from Sir Hans Sloane the purchase, and not Sir Hans Sloane
who solicited from him the sale, of the asbestos purse; we know from the
_Autobiography_ that he was sued by some of the farmers to whom he gave his
bond of indemnity at the time of Braddock's expedition long before his
removal from the office of Deputy Postmaster-General, and we know, too, as
the reader has already been told, that he sought Benger's office, as Deputy
Postmaster-General of the Colonies, before death had done more than cast
the shadow of his approach over Benger's face. There is a vast difference
between the situation of a man, who relies upon his memory for the
scattered incidents of his past life, and that of a biographer whose field
of vision takes them all in at one glance. It is true that Franklin did not
know, before he left London, that Deborah had married, but the reasons he
gives in the _Autobiography_ for desiring to return to Philadelphia are
only that he had grown tired of London, remembered with pleasure the happy
months that he had spent in Pennsylvania, and wished again to see it. The
fact is that he did not renew his courtship of Deborah until the worthless
Rogers had left the coast clear by fleeing to the West Indies, and he
himself had in a measure been thrown back upon her by rebuffs in other
directions. His circuitous proposal after his return to a young relative of
Mrs. Godfrey, who with her husband and children occupied a part of his
house, was, as described in the _Autobiography_ more like a negotiation for
a printing outfit than ordinary wooing. If the love that he brought to
this affair had been the only kind of which he was capable, his most ardent
biographer, and every biographer seems to adore him more or less in spite
of occasional sharp shocks to adoration, might well ask whether his love
was not as painfully repellent as his system of morals. The incident would
lose some of its hard, homely outlines if clothed in any but the coarse,
drab vesture of plain-spoken words with which Franklin clothes it.

     Mrs. Godfrey [he says in the _Autobiography_] projected
     a match for me with a relation's daughter, took
     opportunities of bringing us often together, till a
     serious courtship on my part ensu'd, the girl being in
     herself very deserving. The old folks encourag'd me by
     continual invitations to supper, and by leaving us
     together, till at length it was time to explain. Mrs.
     Godfrey manag'd our little treaty. I let her know that
     I expected as much money with their daughter as would
     pay off my remaining debt for the printing house, which
     I believe was not then above a hundred pounds. She
     brought me word they had no such sum to spare; I said
     they might mortgage their house in the loan-office. The
     answer to this, after some days, was, that they did not
     approve the match; that, on inquiry of Bradford, they
     had been informed the printing business was not a
     profitable one; the types would soon be worn out, and
     more wanted; that S. Keimer and D. Harry had failed one
     after the other, and I should probably soon follow
     them; and, therefore, I was forbidden the house, and
     the daughter shut up.

     Whether this was a real change of sentiment or only
     artifice, on a supposition of our being too far engaged
     in aflection to retract, and therefore that we should
     steal a marriage, which would leave them at liberty to
     give or withhold what they pleas'd, I know not; but I
     suspected the latter, resented it, and went no more.
     Mrs. Godfrey brought me afterward some more favorable
     accounts of their disposition, and would have drawn me
     on again; but I declared absolutely my resolution to
     have nothing more to do with that family. This was
     resented by the Godfreys; we differ'd, and they
     removed, leaving me the whole house.

This affair, however, Franklin tells us, turned his thoughts to marriage.
He accordingly looked the matrimonial field, or rather market, over, and,
to use his own euphemism, made overtures of acquaintance in other places;
but he soon found, he further tells us, that, the business of a printer
being generally thought a poor one, he was not to expect money with a wife
unless with such a one as he should not otherwise think agreeable. Then it
was that his heart came back to Deborah, sitting forlorn in the weeds of
separation, though not unquestionably in the weeds of widowhood; for it was
not entirely certain that Rogers was dead. A friendly intercourse had been
maintained all along between Franklin and the members of her family ever
since he had first lodged under their roof, and he had often been invited
to their home, and had given them sound practical advice. It was natural
enough, therefore, that he should pity Miss Read's unfortunate situation
(he never calls her Mrs. Rogers), dejected and averse to society as she
was, that he should reproach himself with his inconstancy as the cause of
her unhappiness, though her mother was good enough to take the whole blame
on herself because she had prevented their marriage before he went off to
London, and was responsible for the other match, and that compassion and
self-accusation should have been gradually succeeded by tenderness and
rekindled affection. The result was a marriage as little attended by
prudential considerations as any that we could readily imagine; and the
words in which Franklin chronicles the event are worthy of exact

     Our mutual affection was revived, but there were now
     great objections to our union. The match was indeed
     looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife being said to
     be living in England; but this could not easily be
     prov'd, because of the distance; and, tho' there was a
     report of his death, it was not certain. Then, tho' it
     should be true, he had left many debts, which his
     successor might be call'd upon to pay. We ventured,
     however, over all these difficulties, and I took her to
     wife, September 1st, 1730. None of the inconveniences
     happened that we had apprehended; she proved a good and
     faithful helpmate, assisted me much by attending the
     shop; we throve together, and have ever mutually
     endeavour'd to make each other happy.

This paragraph from the _Autobiography_ does not contain the only tribute
paid by Franklin to his wife as a faithful helpmeet. Elsewhere in that work
we find this tribute too: "We have an English proverb that says, '_He that
would thrive, must ask his wife_.' It was lucky for me that I had one as
much dispos'd to industry and frugality as myself. She assisted me
chearfully in my business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop,
purchasing old linen rags for the paper-makers, etc., etc." His letters are
of the same tenor. In one to her after the repeal of the Stamp Act, he
wrote, "Had the Trade between the two Countries totally ceas'd, it was a
Comfort to me to recollect, that I had once been cloth'd from Head to Foot
in Woolen and Linnen of my Wife's Manufacture." Many years after Deborah's
death, he used these words in a letter to Miss Alexander: "Frugality is an
enriching Virtue; a Virtue I never could acquire in myself; but I was once
lucky enough to find it in a Wife, who thereby became a Fortune to me. Do
you possess it? If you do, and I were 20 Years younger, I would give your
Father 1,000 Guineas for you." And then he adds with the playful humor
which came to him as naturally as a carol to the throat of a blithe bird:
"I know you would be worth more to me as a Ménnagere, but I am covetous,
and love good Bargains." Win an industrious and prudent wife, he declared
on another occasion, and, "if she does not _bring_ a fortune, she will
help to _make one_." And when his daughter Sally married Richard Bache, he
wrote to her that she could be as serviceable to her husband in keeping a
store, if it was where she dwelt, "as your Mother was to me: For you are
not deficient in Capacity, and I hope are not too proud." Sixteen years
after his marriage, in a rhyming preface to Poor Richard's _Almanac_, he
even penned this grateful jingle:

    "Thanks to kind Readers and a careful Wife,
    With plenty bless'd, I lead an easy Life."

Careful, however, as she had been in her earlier years, Deborah spent
enough, as she became older and more accustomed to easy living, to make him
feel that he should say a word of caution to her when the news reached him
in London that Sally was about to marry a young man who was not only
without fortune but soon to be involved in business failure. He advises her
not to make an "expensive feasting Wedding," but to conduct everything with
the economy required by their circumstances at that time; his partnership
with Hall having expired, and his loss of the Post Office not being
unlikely. In that event, he said, they would be reduced to their rents and
interest on money for a subsistence, which would by no means afford the
chargeable housekeeping and entertainments that they had been used to.
Though he himself lived as frugally as possible, making no dinners for
anybody, and contenting himself with a single dish, when he dined at home,
yet such was the dearness of living in London in every article that his
expenses amazed him.

     I see too [he continued], by the Sums you have received
     in my Absence, that yours are very great, and I am very
     sensible that your Situation naturally brings you a
     great many Visitors, which occasion an Expence not
     easily to be avoided especially when one has been long
     in the Practice and Habit of it. If we were young
     enough to begin Business again [he remarks a little
     later in this letter], it might be another Matter,--but
     I doubt we are past it; and Business not well managed
     ruins one faster than no Business. In short, with
     Frugality and prudent Care we may subsist decently on
     what we have, and leave it entire to our Children:--but
     without such Care, we shall not be able to keep it
     together; it will melt away like Butter in the
     Sunshine; and we may live long enough to feel the
     miserable Consequences of our Indiscretion.

Eighteen months later, with studied good-feeling, he tells her that, if he
does not send her a watch, it will be because the balance on his Post
Office account was greatly against him, owing to the large sums that she
had received. But Mrs. Franklin was failing, and a few years later, when
her memory and other faculties had been enfeebled by paralysis, he found it
necessary to give a keener edge to admonition in one of his letters to her.
Referring to her disgust with the Messrs. Foxcroft, because they had not
supplied her with money to pay for a bill of exchange for thirty pounds, he
opened his mind to her with almost cruel bluntness as follows:

     That you may not be offended with your Neighbours
     without Cause; I must acquaint you with what it seems
     you did not know, that I had limited them in their
     Payments to you, to the sum of Thirty Pounds per Month,
     for the sake of our more easily settling, and to
     prevent Mistakes. This making 360 Pounds a Year, I
     thought, as you have no House Rent to pay yourself, and
     receive the Rents of 7 or 8 Houses besides, might be
     sufficient for the Maintenance of your Family. I judged
     such a Limitation the more necessary, because you never
     have sent me any Account of your Expences, and think
     yourself ill-used if I desire it; and because I know
     you were not very attentive to Money-matters in your
     best Days, and I apprehend that your Memory is too much
     impair'd for the Management of unlimited Sums, without
     Danger of injuring the future Fortune of your daughter
     and Grandson. If out of more than 500 £ a Year, you
     could have sav'd enough to buy those Bills it might
     have been well to continue purchasing them. But I do
     not like your going about among my Friends to borrow
     Money for that purpose, especially as it is not at all
     necessary. And therefore I once more request that you
     would decline buying them for the future. And I hope
     you will no longer take it amiss of Messrs. Foxcrofts
     that they did not supply you. If what you receive is
     really insufficient for your support satisfy me by
     Accounts that it is so, and I shall order more.

Like an incision in the rind of a beech, which spreads wider and wider with
each passing year, is, as a rule, every human failing, as time goes on, and
poor Mrs. Franklin, now that senile decay was setting in, seems to have
been but another confirmation of this truth. But faithful wife that she
was, after the receipt of this letter from her husband, she was scrupulous
enough to send him receipts as well as accounts; for in the early part of
the succeeding year he writes to her: "I take notice of the considerable
Sums you have paid. I would not have you send me any Receipts. I am
satisfy'd with the Accounts you give." His letter to her about the
Foxcrofts was doubtless not more pointed than the occasion required. In no
scales was the salutary medicine of reproof ever weighed more exactly than
in his. This letter begins as usual, "My Dear Child," and, after conveying
its rebuke, lapses into the old happy, domestic strain. "I am much
pleased," he said, "with the little Histories you give me of your fine boy
(one of her grandsons) which are confirmed by all that have seen him. I
hope he will be spared and continue the same Pleasure and Comfort to you,
and that I shall ere long partake with you in it." One instance, perhaps,
of inattention to money-matters upon the part of Mrs. Franklin, which
helped to produce the climax of this letter, was in the case of a certain
Sarah Broughton, who, if we may judge from a single specimen of her spicy
humor, was something of a tartar. On July 1, 1766, she wrote to Franklin
that his wife owed her a certain sum of money and also the price of a bed,
which she had kept for two years, but now wanted to return, because there
had been a decline in the price of feathers. She had written, the writer
said, a letter to Mrs. Franklin on the subject, but had received the reply
from her "that she did not know me, and that I might write to you she was
an hegehog." "Now sir," continued Franklin's correspondent, "I don't think
her a hegehog but in reallity she has shot a great many quills at me, but
thank Heaven none of them has or can hurt me as I doubt not that your known
justice will induce you to order the above sum of seven pounds, seven
shillings payed." The keen eye that Mrs. Franklin had in this instance to
fluctuations in the market price of an article, which her husband and
herself had frequently bought and sold at their shop in the past, shows
plainly enough that, even when she was on the eve of her grand climacteric,
the thriftier instincts of her early life were not wholly dead. Nor does
she seem to have reserved all her quills for obdurate creditors. From the
Diary of Daniel Fisher we obtain the following entry:

     As I was coming down from my chamber this afternoon a
     gentlewoman was sitting on one of the lowest stairs
     which were but narrow, and there not being room enough
     to pass, she rose up and threw herself upon the floor
     and sat there. Mr. Soumien and his wife gently
     entreated her to arise and take a chair, but in vain;
     she would keep her seat, and kept it, I think, the
     longer for their entreaty. This gentlewoman, whom
     though I had seen before I did not know, appeared to be
     Mrs. Franklin. She assumed the airs of extraordinary
     freedom and great humility, lamented heavily the
     misfortunes of those who are unhappily infected with a
     too tender or benevolent disposition, said she believed
     all the world claimed a privilege of troubling her
     Pappy (so she usually calls Mr. Franklin) with their
     calamities and distresses, giving us a general history
     of many such wretches and their impertinent
     applications to him.

Just what all this meant is not entirely clear. Perhaps it was only real
sympathy excited by the harassments to which her husband, whom she
devotedly loved, was incessantly subjected by his public activity, his
reputation for wise counsel, and his ever-increasing renown. Perhaps it was
the mere jealousy of affection inspired by her sense of her own unfitness
in point of education and intellectual companionship to be the wife of a
man whose doorstep could be so haunted. After this incident the diarist
became Franklin's clerk, and lived in his house--a footing which enabled
him to give us a truer insight than we should otherwise have had as to the
extent to which William Franklin was at one time a festering thorn in the
side of Mrs. Franklin.

     Mr. Soumien [Fisher diarizes] had often informed me of
     great uneasiness and dissatisfaction in Mr. Franklin's
     family in a manner no way pleasing to me, and which in
     truth I was unwilling to credit, but as Mrs. Franklin
     and I of late began to be friendly and sociable I
     discerned too great grounds for Mr. Soumien's
     reflection, arising solely from the turbulence and
     jealousy and pride of her disposition. She suspecting
     Mr. Franklin for having too great an esteem for his son
     in prejudice of herself and daughter, a young woman of
     about 12 or 13 years of age, for whom it was visible
     Mr. Franklin had no less esteem than for his son young
     Mr. Franklin. I have often seen him pass to and from
     his father's apartment upon business (for he does not
     eat, drink or sleep in the house) without the least
     compliment between Mrs. Franklin and him or any sort of
     notice taken of each other, till one day as I was
     sitting with her in the passage when the young
     gentleman came by she exclaimed to me (he not hearing):
     "Mr. Fisher, there goes the greatest villain upon
     earth." This greatly confounded and perplexed me, but
     did not hinder her from pursuing her invectives in the
     foulest terms I ever heard from a gentlewoman.

It is pleasant, however, to state that in time Deborah's dislike for
William Franklin seems to have considerably abated. In 1767, her husband
could write to her, "I am glad you go sometimes to Burlington. The Harmony
you mention in our Family and among our Children gives me great Pleasure."
And before this letter was written, William Franklin had availed himself of
an opportunity to testify his dutiful readiness to extend his protection to
her. It was when she had just taken possession of the new house, built by
her during her husband's absence in England, and his enemies, availing
themselves of the brief unpopularity incurred by him through recommending
his friend, John Hughes, as a stamp collector, had aroused the feeling
against him in Philadelphia to the point of rendering an attack upon this
house not improbable. As soon as William Franklin, then Governor of New
Jersey, heard of the danger, to which his father's wife and daughter were
exposed, he hastened to Philadelphia to offer them a refuge under his own
roof at Burlington. Mrs. Franklin permitted her daughter to accept the
offer, but undauntedly refused to accept it herself. This is her own
account of the matter to her husband divested of its illiteracy.

     I was for nine days [she said] kept in a continual
     hurry by people to remove, and Sally was persuaded to
     go to Burlington for safety. Cousin Davenport came and
     told me that more than twenty people had told him it
     was his duty to be with me. I said I was pleased to
     receive civility from anybody; so he staid with me some
     time; towards night I said he should fetch a gun or
     two, as we had none. I sent to ask my brother to come
     and bring his gun also, so we turned one room into a
     magazine; I ordered some sort of defense upstairs, such
     as I could manage myself. I said, when I was advised to
     remove, that I was very sure you had done nothing to
     hurt anybody, nor had I given any offense to any person
     at all, nor would I be made uneasy by anybody; nor
     would I stir or show the least uneasiness, but if any
     one came to disturb me I would show a proper
     resentment. I was told that there were eight hundred
     men ready to assist any one that should be molested.

Indeed, after his marriage, the correspondence of William Franklin
indicates that, if the relations of Mrs. Franklin to him were not
altogether what Franklin would fain have had them, that is the relations of
Hagar rather than of Sarah, he at least bore himself towards her with a
marked degree of respectful consideration. His letters to her were
subscribed, "Your ever dutiful son," and, in a letter to his father, he
informs him that he and his wife were "on a visit to my mother." When
Deborah died, he was the "chief mourner" in the funeral procession, and, in
a subsequent letter to his father, he speaks of her as "my poor old
mother." After the paralytic stroke, which "greatly affected her memory and
understanding," William Franklin expressed the opinion that she should have
"some clever body to take care of her," because, he said, she "becomes
every day more and more unfit to be left alone." No cleverer body for the
purpose, of course, could be found than her own daughter, who came with her
husband to reside with and take care of her. In his letter to Franklin
announcing her death, William Franklin used these feeling words: "She told
me when I took leave of her on my removal to Amboy, that she never expected
to see you unless you returned this winter, for that she was sure she
should not live till next summer. I heartily wish you had happened to have
come over in the fall, as I think her disappointment in that respect preyed
a good deal on her spirits." Poor Richard's _Almanac_ had sayings, it is
hardly necessary to declare, suitable for such an occasion. "There are
three faithful friends; an old wife, an old dog, and ready money." "A good
wife lost is God's gift lost."

In the light of what we have narrated, it is obvious that there were
occasions in Franklin's nuptial life when it was well that he was a
philosopher as well as a husband. "You can bear with your own Faults, and
why not a fault in your Wife?," is a question that he is known to have
asked at least once, and he did not have to leave his own doorstep to find
an application for his injunction, "Keep your eyes wide open before
marriage, half shut afterwards." But if there was defect of temper there
was never any defect of devotion upon the part of the jealous,
high-spirited, courageous wife. It is true that she had no place in the
wider sphere of her husband's existence. She did not concern herself even
about such a political controversy as that over the Stamp Tax except to say
like the leal wife she was that she was sure that her husband had not done
anything to hurt anybody.

     You are very prudent [he said to her on one occasion]
     not to engage in Party Disputes. Women never should
     meddle with them except in Endeavour to reconcile their
     Husbands, Brothers, and Friends, who happen to be of
     contrary Sides. If your Sex can keep cool, you may be a
     means of cooling ours the sooner, and restoring more
     speedily that social Harmony among Fellow-Citizens,
     that is so desirable after long and bitter Dissensions.

Her interest in her husband's electrical studies probably ceased when he
wrote to her as follows with reference to the two bells that he had placed
in his house in such a position as to ring when an iron rod with which they
were connected was electrified by a storm cloud: "If the ringing of the
Bells frightens you, tie a Piece of Wire from one Bell to the other, and
that will conduct the lightning without ringing or snapping, but silently."
She never became equal even to such social standing as her husband acquired
for himself by his talents and usefulness in Philadelphia; and she would
have been a serious clog upon him in the social circles to which he was
admitted in Great Britain and on the Continent, if her aversion to crossing
the ocean had not been insurmountable. Her letters are marked by a degree
of illiteracy that make the task of reading them almost like the task of
reading an unfamiliar foreign tongue; but it should be recollected that in
the eighteenth century in America it was entirely possible for a person to
be at once illiterate and a lady. Even Franklin with his _penchant_ for
simplified spelling must have felt, after meditating some of Deborah's
written words, that the orthographical line had to be drawn somewhere. The
following letter from her to her husband, dated October ye 29, 1773, and
transcribed exactly as written is neither better nor worse than the rest of
her epistles to her husband:

     My Dear Child:--I have bin verey much distrest aboute
     you as I did not aney letter nor one word from you nor
     did I hear one word from oney bodey that you wrote to
     so I muste submit and inde (?) to submit to what I am
     to bair I did write by Capt Folkner to you but he is
     gon down and when I read it over I did not lik t and so
     if this donte send it I shante like it as I donte send
     you aney news now I dont go abrode.

     I shall tell you what Consernes my selef our youngest
     Grandson is the foreed child us a live he has had the
     Small Pox and had it very fine and got a brod a gen.
     Capt All will tell you aboute him and Benj Franklin
     Beache, but as it is so difficall to writ I have deserd
     him to tell you, I have sent a squerel for your friend
     and wish her better luck it is a very fine one I have
     had very bad luck they one kild and another run a way
     all thow they are bred up tame I have not a Caige as I
     donte know where the man lives that makes them my love
     to Salley Franklin my love to all our Cusins as thow
     menshond remember me to Mr. and Mrs. Weste doe you ever
     hear anything of Ninely Evans as was.[16]

     I thanke you for the silke and hat it at the womons to
     make it up but have it put up as you wrote (torn) I
     thonke it it is very prittey; what was the prise? I
     desier to give my love to everybodey (torn) I shold
     love Billey was in town 5 or 6 day when the child was
     in the small pox Mr. Franklin (torn) not sene him yit I
     am to tell a verey pritey thing about Ben the players
     is cume to town and they am to ackte on Munday he
     wanted to see a play he unkill Beache had given him a
     doler his mama asked him wuther he wold give it for a
     ticket, or buy his Brother a neckles he sed his Brother
     a necklas he is a charmm child as ever was Borne my
     Grand cheldren are the Best in the world Sally will
     write I cante write aney mor I am your a feckshone

                              D. FRANKLIN.

But, in spite of the qualifications we have stated, there was a place after
all, even aside from the joint care of the shop, in which the pair throve
so swimmingly together, that Deborah could occupy in the thoughts of a man
with such quick, strong affections, such liberality of mind and such a keen
interest in the ordinary concerns of life as we find in Franklin. This
place becomes manifest enough when we read the letters that passed between
the two.

A more considerate, loving wife than these letters show her to have been it
would be hard to conceive. Napoleon said of his marshals that only one of
them loved him, the others loved the Emperor. The devotion of Deborah to
her husband is all the more noteworthy because it appears to have been but
slightly, if at all, influenced by his public distinction. Her attachment
was to Franklin himself, the early lover with whom she had "interchanged
promises" when but a girl, and who, after deserting her for a time, had
come back to her in her desolation like day returning to the dark and
lonely night, the business comrade to whom her industry and prudence had
proved in effect a fortune, the most admired and beloved man in the circle
of her social relationships, the patient, dutiful, affectionate friend and
husband, the father of her daughter and son. Inarticulate as were her
struggles with syntax and orthography, she was to him the most faithful of
correspondents. Long after she had reached an age when the fond diminutives
of early married life are usually exchanged for soberer language, she
addressed him in her letters as "My Dear Child," and sometimes as "My
Dearest Dear Child." "I am set down to confab a little with my dear child,"
was the way in which she began one of her letters, "Adue my dear child, and
take care of your selef for mamey's sake as well as your one," was the way
in which she ended another. So frequently, too, did she write to him when
they were separated from each other that he repeatedly acknowledged in his
replies her extraordinary constancy as a correspondent; on one occasion
writing to her: "I think nobody ever had more faithful Correspondents than
I have in Mr. Hughes and you.... It is impossible for me to get or keep out
of your Debts." When they had been married over twenty-seven years, he
thanks her in one of his letters for writing to him so frequently and
fully, and, when they had been married nearly forty years, he wrote to her
that he thought that she was the most punctual of all his correspondents.
And not only did she write often enough to him to elicit these
acknowledgments, but her letters afford ample evidence that to lack a
letter from him when she expected one was nothing less than a bitter
disappointment to her. "I know," he said in a letter to her, "you love to
have a Line from me by every Packet, so I write, tho' I have little to
say." We have already seen how her failure to hear from, or of, him led her
on one occasion to end her plaint with words strong enough to express
resignation to the very worst trial to which human life is subject. On
another occasion she wrote: "Aprill 7 this day is Cumpleet 5 munthes senes
you lefte your one House I did reseve a letter from the Capes senes that
not one line I due supose that you did write by the packit but that is not
arived yit." The same hunger for everything that related to him, no matter
how trivial, finds utterance in her petition in another letter that he
_wold_ tell her _hough_ his poor _armes was_ and _hough_ he was on his
_voiag_ and _hough_ he _air_ and _everey_ thing is with him _wich_ she
wanted _verey_ much to know. Nor did her affection limit itself to letters.
Whenever he was absent from her and stationary whether at Gnadenhutten, or
London, his table was never wanting in something to remind him of home and
of the attentive wife whose domestic virtues in spite of her deficiencies
of education gave home so much of its meaning.

     We have enjoyed your roast beef [he wrote to her from
     Gnadenhutten] and this day began on the roast veal. All
     agree that they are both the best that ever were of the
     kind. Your citizens, that have their dinners hot and
     hot, know nothing of good eating. We find it in much
     greater perfection when the kitchen is four score miles
     from the dining room.

     The apples are extremely welcome, and do bravely to eat
     after our salt pork; the minced pies are not yet come
     to hand, but I suppose we shall find them among the
     things expected up from Bethlehem on Tuesday; the
     capillaire is excellent, but none of us having taken
     cold as yet, we have only tasted it.

Other letters of his written from Gnadenhutten testify that she missed no
opportunity, so long as he was in the wilderness, to send him something
better than the salt pork, to which her apples were such a brave sequel, to
relieve the harsh privations of camp life for himself and his brother
officers. He tells her in one of his letters that all the gentlemen send
their compliments. "They drink your health at every meal, having always
something on the table to put them in mind of you." Even when the Atlantic
was between them, his life was kept continually refreshed by the same
bountiful stream of supplies. A menu, made up of the items that she sent
him, might well have softened the heart of even such a rank, swashbuckling
enemy of the American Colonies as Dr. Johnson, who loved a good dinner even
more than he hated the Americans. Dried venison, bacon, smoked beef,
apples, cranberries, nuts, Indian and buckwheat meal, and peaches, dried
with and without their skins, are all mentioned in his acknowledgments of
her favors. Some of the nuts and apples he presented on one occasion to
Lord and Lady Bathurst "a very great lady, the best woman in England,"
accompanied by a brief note which borrowed the point of its graceful
pleasantry from the effort of Great Britain to tax the Colonies without
their consent:

"Dr. Franklin presents his respectful compliments to Lord Bathurst, with
some American nuts; and to Lady Bathurst, with some American apples; which
he prays they will accept as a tribute from that country, small indeed, but

Franklin's first absence from his wife in England lasted some five years,
his second some ten; and such was Deborah's passionate attachment to him
that it can scarcely be doubted that, if he had not, during these periods
of absence, cheated himself and her from year to year with the idea that
his business would soon permit him to return to Philadelphia, she would
have joined him despite her aversion to the sea. This aversion was natural
enough under the maritime conditions of that time; for even Franklin, whose
numerous transatlantic voyages were usually attended by fair weather, and
who was an uncommonly resourceful sailor, left behind him the statement
that he never crossed the ocean without vowing that he would do so no
more.[17] As it was, the frequently recurring expectation upon her part
that a few months more would restore her husband to his home checked any
thought that she may have had of making a voyage to England. There is no
evidence that she ever harbored any such intention. An interesting feature
of Franklin's life in England in his maturer years is the effort of his
friend Strahan to induce Mrs. Franklin to come over to that country with
Sally and to take up her permanent residence there with her husband. As to
Sally, it began with the half jocular, half serious, proposal from Franklin
to Strahan, before the former left Pennsylvania for London in 1757, that
Sally, then but a mere child, and Strahan's son should make a match of it.
"Please to acquaint him," Franklin asked of Strahan on one occasion, after
saying that he was glad to hear so good a character of his son-in-law,
"that his spouse grows finely and will probably have an agreeable person.
That with the best natural disposition in the world, she discovers daily
the seeds and tokens of industry, economy, and, in short, of every female
virtue, which her parents will endeavour to cultivate for him." Some years
later he added that Sally was indeed a very good girl, affectionate,
dutiful and industrious, had one of the best hearts, and though not a wit,
was, for one of her years, by no means deficient in understanding. Many
years later, after time and the cares of motherhood had told on her, a keen
observer, Manasseh Cutler, is so ungallant as to speak of this daughter as
"a very gross and rather homely lady," but there is evidence that, even if
she was never the superbly handsome woman that James Parton says she was,
yet in the soft bloom of her young womanhood the prediction of her father
that she would have an agreeable person was unquestionably fulfilled.

When Franklin passed over to England as the agent of the people of
Pennsylvania, Strahan became so fond of him that an earnest effort to fix
the whole family in England as a permanent place of residence followed
almost as a matter of course, and he not only formally opened up his
feelings on the subject to Franklin but indited a letter to Mrs. Franklin
which he appears to have believed would prove an irresistible masterpiece
of persuasive eloquence. This letter is one of the topics upon which
Franklin repeatedly touches in his correspondence with Deborah. In a letter
to her of January 14, 1758, he tells her that their friend Strahan had
offered to lay him a considerable wager that a letter that Strahan had
written would bring her immediately over to England, but that he had told
Strahan that he would not pick his pocket, for he was sure that there was
no inducement strong enough to prevail with her to cross the seas. Later he
wrote to her, "Your Answer to Mr. Strahan was just what it should be. I was
much pleas'd with it. He fancy'd his Rhetoric and Art would certainly bring
you over." Finding that he was unable himself to persuade Mrs. Franklin to
settle down in England, Strahan urged Franklin to try his hand, and the
letter in which Franklin reports this fact to his wife makes it apparent
enough that Strahan had the matter deeply at heart.

     He was very urgent with me [says Franklin] to stay in
     England and prevail with you to remove hither with
     Sally. He propos'd several advantageous Schemes to me,
     which appear'd reasonably founded. His Family is a very
     agreeable one; Mrs. Strahan a sensible and good Woman,
     the Children of amiable Characters, and particularly
     the young Man (who is) sober, ingenious and
     industrious, and a (desirable) Person. In Point of
     Circumstances there can be no Objection; Mr. Strahan
     being (now) living in a Way as to lay up a Thousand
     Pounds every Year from the Profits of his Business,
     after maintaining his Family and paying all Charges. I
     gave him, however, two Reasons why I could not think of
     removing hither, One, my Affection to Pennsilvania and
     long established Friendships and other connections
     there: The other, your invincible Aversion to crossing
     the Seas. And without removing hither, I could not
     think of parting with my Daughter to such a Distance. I
     thank'd him for the Regard shown us in the Proposal,
     but gave him no Expectation that I should forward the
     Letters. So you are at liberty to answer or not, as you
     think proper. Let me however know your Sentiments. You
     need not deliver the Letter to Sally, if you do not
     think it proper.

She did answer, but we are left to infer from a subsequent letter from
Franklin to her, in which he alludes to this letter of hers, that, if
Strahan was disappointed by his failure to bring about the migration of the
Franklins, his disappointment was largely swallowed up in the shock
experienced by his literary vanity in finding that his elaborate appeal had
not drawn her over. We cannot share his disappointment, whatever it was,
when we recollect that to Sally's marriage to Richard Bache we are indebted
for more than one descendant of Franklin whose talents and public services
have won an honorable place in the history of the nation.

It is gratifying to state that no one can read either Franklin's letters to
Deborah or to other persons without feeling unqualifiedly assured that he
entertained a sincere and profound affection for the good wife whose heart
was for nearly fifty years fastened upon him and his every want with such
solicitous tenderness. His married life was distinguished to such an
eminent degree by the calm, pure flow of domestic happiness that for that
reason, if for no other, we find it impossible to reconcile ourselves to
the protean facility with which, in his old age, he yielded to the
seductions of French love-making. The interval, to say the least, is long
between the honest apples, which his own good American wife sent him from
time to time, when he was in London, and the meretricious apples which
Madame Brillon thought that "King John" i. e. M. Brillon might be decent
enough to offer to some extent to his neighbors when they were all together
in Paradise where we shall want for nothing. If one wishes fully to realize
how little fettered was the mind of Franklin by local ideals and
conventions and how quick it was, like the changeful face of the sea, to
mirror all its external relations, one has but to read first Franklin's
letters to his wife, as thoroughly Anglo-Saxon as any ever penned in an
English manse, and then his letters to Madame Brillon, and the exquisite
bagatelle, as thoroughly French as the Abbé Morellet's "Humble Petition
presented to Madam Helvétius by her Cats," in which he told Madame
Helvétius of the new connection formed by Deborah with M. Helvétius in the
Elysian Fields. There is every reason to believe that Franklin's marriage
vow was never dishonored during Deborah's life, lax as his conduct was
before his marriage and lax as his diction at least was after her death. In
the Diary from which we have already quoted quite liberally, Fisher, after
narrating the extraordinary manner in which Deborah bewailed the troubles
of her "Pappy," observes, "Mr. Franklin's moral character is good, and he
and Mrs. Franklin live irreproachably as man and wife." Franklin's loyalty
to his wife is also evidenced by a letter from Strahan to Deborah in which
he uses these words:

     For my own part, I never saw a man who was, in every
     respect, so perfectly agreeable to me. Some are amiable
     in one view, some in another, he in all. Now Madam, as
     I know the ladies here consider him in exactly the same
     light I do, upon my word I think you should come over,
     with all convenient speed, to look after your interest;
     not but that I think him as faithful to his Joan as any
     man breathing; but who knows what repeated and strong
     temptation may in time, and while he is at so great a
     distance from you, accomplish?

This interrogatory was, perhaps, the rhetorical stroke upon which Strahan
relied to give the _coup de grâce_ to Mrs. Franklin's abhorrence of the
sea. It was certainly calculated to set a jealous-minded wife to thinking.
But it seems to have had as little effect upon Deborah as the other
artifices of this masterly letter. The terms "his Joan" in it were
doubtless suggested by Franklin's song, _My Plain Country Joan_, one verse
of which, as good, or rather as bad, as the rest, was as follows:

    "Some faults we have all, and so has my Joan,
    But then they're exceedingly small;
    And, now I am used, they are like my own,
    I scarcely can see 'em at all,
    My dear friends,
    I scarcely can see 'em at all."

Another indication of the marital fidelity of which Strahan speaks is found
in a letter from Franklin to Deborah after his second return from England
in which he said: "I approve of your opening all my English Letters, as it
must give you Pleasure to see that People who knew me there so long and so
intimately, retain so sincere a Regard for me." But it would be grossly
unjust to Franklin to measure the degree of his attachment to his Joan by
the fact merely that he preserved inviolate the nuptial pledge which a man
of honor can fairly be expected as a matter of course to observe
scrupulously. Not only the lines just quoted by us but the general
character of his married life demonstrates that the only thing that he ever
regretted about his intercourse with Deborah was that his own censurable
conduct should have made her for a time the wife of anyone but himself.

In his correspondence with his friend Catherine Ray, there are two pleasing
references to Deborah.

     Mrs. Franklin [one reads] was very proud, that a young
     lady should have so much regard for her old husband, as
     to send him such a present (a cheese). We talk of you
     every time it comes to table. She is sure you are a
     sensible girl, and a notable housewife, and talks of
     bequeathing me to you as a legacy; but I ought to wish
     you a better, and hope she will live these hundred
     years; for we are grown old together, and if she has
     any faults, I am so used to 'em that I don't perceive
     'em; as the song says [and then, after quoting from his
     _Plain Country Joan_ the stanza which we have quoted,
     he adds:]. Indeed, I begin to think she has none, as I
     think of you. And since she is willing I should love
     you, as much as you are willing to be loved by me, let
     us join in wishing the old lady a long life and a

The other reference to Deborah occurs in a letter to Miss Ray, written
after Franklin's return from a recent visit to New England, in which he
describes his feelings before reaching Philadelphia. "As I drew nearer," he
said, "I found the attraction stronger and stronger. My diligence and speed
increased with my impatience. I drove on violently, and made such long
stretches, that a very few days brought me to my own house, and to the arms
of my good old wife and children."

It is to Franklin's own letters to his wife, however, that we must resort
to appreciate how fully he reciprocated her affection. Illiterate as her
letters were, they were so full of interest to him that he seems to have
re-read as well as read them. In one letter to her, for example, after his
arrival in England in 1757, he tells her, "I have now gone through all your
agreeable letters, which give me fresh pleasure every time I read them."
And that he was quick to feel the dearth of such letters we have testimony
in the form of a playful postscript to one of his letters to her of the
preceding year when he was at Easton, Pennsylvania. The special messenger,
he said, that had been dispatched to Philadelphia with a letter from him to
her, as well as letters from other persons to their wives and sweethearts,
had returned "without a scrap for poor us."

     The messenger says [he continues] he left the letters
     at your house, and saw you afterwards at Mr. Duché's,
     and told you when he would go, and that he lodged at
     Honey's, next door to you, and yet you did not write;
     so let Goody Smith (a favorite servant of theirs) give
     one more just judgment, and say what should be done to
     you. I think I won't tell you that we are well, nor
     that we expect to return about the middle of the week,
     nor will I send you a word of news; that's poz.

The letter ends, "I am your _loving_ husband"; and then comes the
postscript: "I have _scratched out the loving words_, being writ in haste
by mistake, _when I forgot I was angry_."

His letters to her bear all the tokens of conjugal love and of a deep,
tranquil domestic spirit. At times, he addresses her as "My Dear Debby,"
and once as "My Dear Love," but habitually as "My Dear Child." This was the
form of address in the first of his published letters to her dated December
27, 1755, and in his last, dated July 22, 1774. "I am, dear girl, your
loving husband," "I am, my dear Debby, your ever loving husband," are among
the forms of expression with which he concludes. The topics of his letters
are almost wholly personal or domestic. They illustrate very strikingly how
little dependent upon intellectual congeniality married happiness is,
provided that there is a mutual sense of duty, mutual respect and a real
community of domestic interests.

In one of his London letters, he informs her that another French
translation of his book had just been published, with a print of himself
prefixed, which, though a copy of that by Chamberlin, had so French a
countenance that she would take him for one of that lively nation. "I think
you do not mind such things," he added, "or I would send you one."[18] To
politics he rarely refers except to reassure her when uneasiness had been
created in her mind by one of the reckless partisan accusations which
husbands in public life soon learn to rate at their real value but their
wives never do. "I am concern'd that so much Trouble should be given you by
idle Reports concerning me," he says on one occasion. "Be satisfied, my
dear, that while I have my Senses, and God vouchsafes me this Protection, I
shall do nothing unworthy the Character of an honest Man, and one that
loves his Family."

As a rule his letters to Deborah have little to say about the larger world
in which he moved when he was in England. If he refers to the Royal Family,
it is only to mention that the Queen had just been delivered of another
Prince, the eighth child, and that there were now six princes and two
princesses, all lovely children. After the repeal of the Stamp Act lifted
the embargo laid by patriotic Americans on importations of clothing from
England, he wrote to Deborah that he was willing that she should have a new
gown, and that he had sent her fourteen yards of Pompadour satin. He had
told Parliament, he stated, that, before the old clothes of the Americans
were worn out, they might have new ones of their own making. "And, indeed,"
he added, "if they had all as many old Cloathes as your old Man has, that
would not be very unlikely, for I think you and George reckon'd when I was
last at home at least 20 pair of old Breeches." To his own fame and the
social attentions which he received from distinguished men abroad he makes
only the most meagre allusion.

     The agreeable conversation I meet with among men of
     learning, and the notice taken of me by persons of
     distinction, are the principal things that soothe me
     for the present, under this painful absence from my
     family and friends. Yet those would not keep me here
     another week, if I had not other inducements; duty to
     my country, and hopes of being able to do it service.

Thus he wrote to his wife about four months after he arrived in England in
1757. A few weeks later, he said:

     I begin to think I shall hardly be able to return
     before this time twelve months. I am for doing
     effectually what I came about; and I find it requires
     both time and patience. You may think, perhaps, that I
     can find many amusements here to pass the time
     agreeable. 'Tis true, the regard and friendship I meet
     with from persons of worth, and the conversation of
     ingenious men, give me no small pleasure; but at this
     time of life, domestic comforts afford the most solid
     satisfaction, and my uneasiness at being absent from my
     family, and longing desire to be with them, make me
     often sigh in the midst of cheerful company.[19]

The real interest of Franklin's correspondence with his wife consists in
the insight that it gives us into his private, as contrasted with his
public, relations. His genius, high as it rose into the upper air of human
endeavor, rested upon a solid sub-structure of ordinary stone and cement,
firmly planted in the earth, and this is manifest in his family history as
in everything else. The topics, with which he deals in his letters to
Deborah, are the usual topics with which a kind, sensible, practical
husband and householder, without any elevated aspirations of any kind,
deals in his letters to his wife. There was no lack of common ground on
which she and he could meet in correspondence after the last fond words
addressed by him to her just before he left New York for England in 1757
had been spoken, "God preserve, guard and guide you." First of all, there
was his daughter Sally to whom he was lovingly attached. In a letter to his
wife, shortly before he used the valedictory words just quoted, he said: "I
leave Home, and undertake this long Voyage more chearfully, as I can rely
on your Prudence in the Management of my Affairs, and Education of my dear
Child; and yet I cannot forbear once more recommending her to you with a
Father's tenderest Concern." From this time on, during his two absences in
England, Sally seems to have ever been in his thoughts. There are several
references to her in one of his earliest letters to Deborah after he
reached England in 1757.

     I should have read Sally's French letter with more
     pleasure [he said], but that I thought the French
     rather too good to be all her own composing.... I send
     her a French Pamela. I hear [he further said] there has
     a miniature painter gone over to Philadelphia, a
     relation to John Reynolds. If Sally's picture is not
     done to your mind by the young man, and the other
     gentleman is a good hand and follows the business,
     suppose you get Sally's done by him, and send it to me
     with your small picture, that I may here get all our
     little family drawn in one conversation piece.

This idea was not carried out because, among other reasons, as he
subsequently informed Deborah, he found that family pieces were no longer
in fashion.[20] In this same letter there is a gentle caress for Sally.

     Had I been well [he said], I intended to have gone
     round among the shops and bought some pretty things for
     you and my dear good Sally (whose little hands you say
     eased your headache) to send by this ship, but I must
     now defer it to the next, having only got a crimson
     satin cloak for you, the newest fashion, and the black
     silk for Sally; but Billy (William Franklin) sends her
     a scarlet feather, muff, and tippet, and a box of
     fashionable linen for her dress.

In other letters there are repeated indications of the doting persistency
with which his mind dwelt upon his daughter. But the softest touch of all
is at the end of one of them. After speaking of the kindness, with which
Mrs. Stevenson, Polly Stevenson's mother, had looked after his physical
welfare, he adds: "But yet I have a thousand times wish'd you with me, and
my little Sally with her ready Hands and Feet to do, and go, and come, and
get what I wanted." All these allusions to Sally are found in his letters
to Deborah during his first mission to England. But little Sally was
growing apace, and, when he returned to England on his second mission in
1764, there was soon to be another person with an equal, if not a superior,
claim upon her helpful offices. We have already quoted from his letter to
Deborah warning her against "an expensive feasting wedding." In this letter
he says of Sally's fiancé, Richard Bache:

     I know very little of the Gentleman or his Character,
     nor can I at this Distance. I hope his Expectations are
     not great of any Fortune to be had with our Daughter
     before our Death. I can only say, that if he proves a
     good Husband to her, and a good Son to me, he shall
     find me as good a Father as I can be:--but at present I
     suppose you would agree with me, that we cannot do more
     than fit her out handsomely in Cloaths and Furniture,
     not exceeding in the whole Five Hundred Pounds, of
     Value. For the rest, they must depend as you and I did,
     on their own Industry and Care: as what remains in our
     Hands will be barely sufficient for our Support, and
     not enough for them when it comes to be divided at our

Hardly, however, had the betrothal occurred before it was clouded by
business reverses which had overtaken the prospective son-in-law. These led
to a suggestion from the father that may or may not have been prompted by
the thought that a temporary separation might bring about the termination
of an engagement marked by gloomy auspices.

     In your last letters [he wrote to Deborah], you say
     nothing concerning Mr. Bache. The Misfortune that has
     lately happened to his Affairs, tho' it may not lessen
     his Character as an honest or a Prudent man, will
     probably induce him to forbear entering hastily into a
     State that must require a great Addition to his
     Expence, when he will be less able to supply it. If you
     think that in the meantime it will be some Amusement to
     Sally to visit her Friends here (in London) and return
     with me, I should have no Objection to her coming over
     with Capt. Falkener, provided Mrs. Falkener comes at
     the same time as is talk'd of. I think too it might be
     some Improvement to her.

Poor Richard had incurred considerable risks when he selected his own mate,
and, all things considered, he acquiesced gracefully enough in the
betrothal of his daughter to a man of whom he knew practically nothing
except circumstances that were calculated to bring to his memory many pat
proverbs about the folly of imprudent marriages. If, therefore, his idea
was to enlist the chilling aid of absence in an effort to bring the
engagement to an end, fault can scarcely be found with him. We know from
one of William Franklin's letters that the friends of the family had such
misgivings about the union as to excite the anger of Deborah. The
suggestion that Sally should be sent over to England did not find favor
with her, and in a later letter Franklin writes to her, "I am glad that you
find so much reason to be satisfy'd with Mr. Bache. I hope all will prove
for the best." And all did prove for the best, as the frequency with which
Richard Bache's name occurs in Franklin's will, to say nothing more,
sufficiently attests. When the marriage was solemnized, Franklin's strong
family affection speedily crowned it with his full approval. In due season,
the fact that the contract was a fruitful one is brought to our notice by a
letter from him to his wife in which he tells his "Dear Child," then his
wife for nearly forty years, that he had written to Sally by Captain
Falkener giving her Sir John Pringle's opinion as to the probability of
Sally's son having been rendered exempt from the smallpox by inoculation.
Thenceforth there is scarcely a letter from the grandfather to the
grandmother in which there is not some mention made of this grandson,
Benjamin Franklin Bache, the rabid Jeffersonian and editor of after years,
whose vituperative editorials in the Aurora recall Franklin's statement in
the latter part of his life that the liberty of the press ought to be
attended by the ancient liberty of the cudgel. "I am glad your little
Grandson," says one letter, "recovered so soon of his Illness, as I see you
are quite in Love with him, and your Happiness wrapt up in his; since your
whole long Letter is made up of the History of his pretty Actions." In a
subsequent letter to Deborah, he passes to the boy's father, who had come
over to England, where his mother and sisters resided, and was on the point
of returning to Philadelphia. "Mr. Bache is about returning. His Behaviour
here has been very agreeable to me. I have advis'd him to settle down to
Business in Philadelphia, where I hope he will meet with Success. I
mentioned to you before, that I saw his Mother and Sisters at Preston, who
are genteel People, and extreamly agreeable." In the same letter, he tells
Deborah that he has advised Bache to deal in the ready money way though he
should sell less.

     He may keep his Store [he said] in your little North
     Room for the present. And as he will be at no expence
     while the Family continues with you, I think he may,
     with Industry and Frugality, get so forward, as at the
     end of his Term, to pay his Debts and be clear of the
     World, which I much wish to see. I have given him £200
     Sterl'g to add something to his Cargo.

It is not long before he is writing to Deborah about "Sister Bache and her
amiable Daughters." Like the commerce of material gifts, which his wife and
himself kept up with each other, when separated, are the details about his
godson, William Hewson, the son of his friend Polly, which he exchanges
with Deborah for details about his grandson, who came to be known, it
seems, as "the Little King Bird," and the "Young Hercules."

     In Return for your History of your _Grandson_ [he wrote
     to her on one occasion], I must give you a little of
     the History of my _Godson_. He is now 21 Months old,
     very strong and healthy, begins to speak a little, and
     even to sing. He was with us a few Days last Week, grew
     fond of me, and would not be contented to sit down to
     Breakfast without coming to call _Pa_, rejoicing when
     he had got me into my Place. When seeing me one Day
     crack one of the Philada Biscuits into my Tea with the
     Nut-crackers, he took another and try'd to do the same
     with the Tea-Tongs. It makes me long to be at home to
     play with Ben.

Indeed, by this time, Franklin had become such a fatuous grandfather that
he ceases to call his grandson Ben and speaks of him as "Benny Boy" when
he does not speak of him as "the dear boy."

In the fulness of time, Richard and Sally Bache were destined to be the
parents of numerous children. When Franklin returned from his mission to
France, the youngest of them soon became as devoted to him as had been
Billy Hewson, or the youthful son of John Jay, whose singular attachment to
him is referred to in one of his letters to Jay. In the same description,
in which Manasseh Cutler speaks in such sour terms of the person of Mrs.
Bache, he tells us that, when he saw her at Franklin's home in
Philadelphia, she had three of her children about her, over whom she seemed
to have no kind of command, but who appeared to be excessively fond of
their grandpapa. Indeed, all children who were brought into close
companionship with Franklin loved him, and instinctively turned to him for
responsive love and sympathy. Men may be the best judges of the human
intellect, but children are the best judges of the human heart.

Francis Folger, the only legitimate child of Franklin except Sally, is not
mentioned in his correspondence with his wife. The colorless Franky who is
was not this child. Franklin's son was born a year after the marriage of
Franklin and Deborah in 1730, and died, when a little more than four years
of age, and therefore long before the date of the earliest letter extant
from Franklin to Deborah. Though warned but a few years previously by an
epidemic of smallpox in Philadelphia, which had been accompanied by a high
rate of mortality, Franklin could not make up his mind to subject the child
to the hazards of inoculation. The consequence was that, when a second
epidemic visited the city, Francis contracted the disease, and died.
Franklin, to use his own words to his sister Jane Mecom, long regretted him
bitterly, and also regretted that he had not given him the disease by

     All, who have seen my grandson [he said in another
     letter to his sister] agree with you in their accounts
     of his being an uncommonly fine boy, which brings often
     afresh to my mind the idea of my son Franky, though now
     dead thirty-six years, whom I have seldom since seen
     equaled in every thing, and whom to this day I cannot
     think of without a sigh.

But Sally and his grandson were far from being the only persons who
furnished material for Franklin's letters to his wife. These letters also
bring before us in many ways other persons connected with him and Deborah
by ties of blood, service or friendship. He repeatedly sends his "duty" to
his mother-in-law, Mrs. Read, and when he is informed of the death of "our
good mother," as he calls her, he observes, "'Tis, I am sure, a
Satisfaction to me, that I cannot charge myself with having ever fail'd in
one Instance of Duty and Respect to her during the many Years that she
call'd me Son." "My love to Brother John Read and Sister, and cousin
Debbey, and young cousin Johnny Read, and let them all know, that I
sympathize with them all affectionately," was his message to her relations
in the same letter.

Some of his letters conveyed much agreeable information to Deborah about
his and her English relations. Of these we shall have something to say in
another connection.

"Billy," William Franklin, is mentioned in his father's letters to Deborah
on many other occasions than those already cited by us; for he was his
father's intimate companion during the whole of the first mission to
England. He appears to have truly loved his sister, Sally, and is often
mentioned in Franklin's letters to Deborah as sending Sally his love or
timely gifts. If he really presented his duty to his mother half as often
as Franklin reported, she had no cause to complain of his lack of
attention. That her earlier feelings about him had undergone a decided
change, before he went to England with his father, we may infer from one
of Franklin's letters in which, in response to her "particular inquiry," he
tells her that "Billy is of the Middle Temple, and will be call'd to the
Bar either this Term or the next." Some seven years later, he tells her
that it gave him pleasure to hear from Major Small that he had left her and
Sally and "our other children" well also.

Mention of Peter, his negro servant, is also several times made in
Franklin's letters to Deborah. In one letter, written when he was
convalescing after a severe attack of illness, he tells Deborah that not
only had his good doctor, Doctor Fothergill, attended him very carefully
and affectionately, and Mrs. Stevenson nursed him kindly, but that Billy
was of great service to him, and Peter very diligent and attentive. But a
later letter does not give quite so favorable a view of Peter, after the
latter had inhaled a little longer the free air of England.

     Peter continues with me [said Franklin] and behaves as
     well as I can expect, in a Country where they are many
     Occasions of spoiling servants, if they are ever so
     good. He has a few Faults as most of them, and I see
     with only one Eye, and hear only with one Ear; so we
     rub on pretty comfortably.

These words smack of the uxorious policy recommended to husbands by Poor
Richard. The same letter gives us a glimpse of another negro servant, who
was even more strongly disposed than Peter to act upon the statement in
Cowper's _Task_ that slaves cannot breathe in England.

     King, that you enquire after [says Franklin], is not
     with us. He ran away from our House, near two Years
     ago, while we were absent in the Country; But was soon
     found in Suffolk, where he had been taken in the
     Service of a Lady, that was very fond of the Merit of
     making him a Christian, and contributing to his
     Education and Improvement. As he was of little Use, and
     often in Mischief, Billy consented to her keeping him
     while we stay in England. So the Lady sent him to
     School, has taught him to read and write, to play on
     the Violin and French Horn, with some other
     Accomplishments more useful in a Servant. Whether she
     will finally be willing to part with him, or persuade
     Billy to sell him to her, I know not. In the meantime
     he is no Expence to us.

And that was certainly something worth noting about a servant who could
play upon the French horn.

But it is of Goody Smith, the servant in the Franklin household at
Philadelphia, whose judgment was invoked upon the failure of Deborah to
answer her husband's letter from Easton, that mention is most often made in
the portions of Franklin's letters to his wife which relate to servants. In
a letter to Deborah from Easton, he expresses his obligations to Goody
Smith for remembering him and sends his love to her. In another letter to
Deborah, when he was on his way to Williamsburg in Virginia, he says, "my
Duty to Mother, and love to Sally, Debby, Gracey, &c., not forgetting the
Goodey." Subsequently, when in England, he tells Deborah:

     I have order'd two large print Common Prayer Books to
     be bound on purpose for you and Goodey Smith; and that
     the largeness of the Print may not make them too
     bulkey, the Christnings, Matrimonies, and everything
     else that you and she have not immediate and constant
     Occasion for, are to be omitted. So you will both of
     you be repriev'd from the Use of Spectacles in Church a
     little longer.

In another letter from England, Franklin mentions that he sends Deborah a
pair of garters knit by Polly Stevenson who had also favored him with a
pair. "Goody Smith may, if she pleases," he adds, "make such for me
hereafter, and they will suit her own fat Knees. My Love to her." And love
to her he sends again when he hears that she is recovering from an illness.
Franklin likewise refers several times in his letters to Deborah to
another servant, John, who accompanied him on his return to England in
1764, but the behavior of this servant seems to have been too
unexceptionable for him to be a conspicuous figure in his master's letters.
They were evidently a kind master and mistress, Franklin and Deborah. "I am
sorry for the death of your black boy," he wrote to her on one occasion
from London, "as you seem to have had a regard for him. You must have
suffered a good deal in the fatigue of nursing him in such a distemper."

Over and over again in his letters to Deborah, Franklin approves himself a
"lover of his friends" like his friend Robert Grace. He sends his love to
them individually, and he sends his love to them collectively. Even during
a brief absence, as when he was off on his military expedition, his letters
to Deborah are sprinkled with such messages as "our Compliments to Mrs.
Masters and all enquiring Friends," "My Love to Mr. Hall" (his business
partner), "Give my hearty Love to all Friends," "Love to all our friends
and neighbours." During another brief absence in Virginia, he sends his
respects to "Mrs. Masters and all the Officers and in short to all
Philadelphia." In a later letter to Deborah, written from Utrecht, the form
of his concluding words on the previous occasion is made still more
comprehensive. "My Love," he said, "to my dear Sally, and affectionate
Regards to all Pennsylvania." In one of his letters from England, he wrote,
"Pray remember me kindly to all that love us, and to all that we love. 'Tis
endless to name names," and on still another occasion, in asking Deborah to
thank all his friends for their favors, which contributed so much to the
comfort of his voyage, he added, "I have not time to name Names: You know
whom I love and honour." He had such troops of friends that he might well
shrink from the weariness of naming them all. Indeed, he scarcely writes a
letter to Deborah that does not bear witness to the extent and warmth of
his friendships. When he left Philadelphia for England in 1757, about a
dozen of his friends accompanied him as far as Trenton, but, in the letter
to Deborah which informs us of this fact, he does not give us the names of
any of them. This letter was written from Trenton. Mrs. Grace and "Dear
Precious Mrs. Shewell," Mrs. Masters, "Mrs. Galloway & Miss," Mrs. Redman,
Mrs. Graeme, Mrs. Thomson, Mrs. Story, Mrs. Bartram, Mrs. Smith and Mrs.
Hilborne all come in at one time, as well as other ladies whom he does not
name, for his best respects, in return for friendly wishes that they had
transmitted to him through Deborah. In another letter he sends his love to
"our dear precious Polly Hunt and all our kind inquiring friends." Friends
escorted him to Trenton when he was on his way to England in 1757, friends
bestowed all sorts of gifts on him to render his voyage comfortable, Mr.
Thomas Wharton even lending him a woollen gown which he found a comfortable
companion in his winter passage; friends did him the honor to drink his
health in the unfinished kitchen of the new house built in his absence; and
friends "honored" the dining-room in this home "with their Company." When
he heard of the convivial gathering in the unfinished kitchen, he wrote to
Deborah, "I hope soon to drink with them in the Parlour," but there is a
tinge of dissatisfaction in his observations to Deborah on the gathering in
the dining-room.

     It gives me Pleasure [he said] that so many of my
     Friends honour'd our new Dining Room with their
     Company. You tell me only of a Fault they found with
     the House, that it was too little, and not a Word of
     anything they lik'd in it: Nor how the Kitchen Chimneys
     perform; so I suppose you spare me some Mortification,
     which [he adds with a slight inflection of sarcasm] is

His dear friend, Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Wharton, Mr. Roberts, Mr. and Mrs.
Duffield, Neighbor Thomson, Dr. and Mrs. Redman, Mrs. Hopkinson, Mr. Duché,
Dr. Morgan and Mr. Hopkinson are other friends mentioned in a later letter
of his to Deborah. In the same letter, he rejoices that his "good old
Friend, Mr. Coleman, is got safe home, and continues well." Coleman, as we
shall see, was one of the two friends who had come to his aid in his early
manhood when he was sued and threatened with ruin by his creditors. The
death of the dear, amiable Miss Ross, "our Friend Bond's heavy loss," the
disorder that had befallen "our friend Kinnersley" and other kindred facts
awaken his ready sympathy; presents of books, seeds and the like, as well
as messages of love and respect, remind his friends how freshly green his
memory of them is.

The letters have much to say, too, about the presents to Deborah and Sally
which were almost incessantly crossing the outflowing currents of apples
and buckwheat meal from Philadelphia. These presents are far too numerous
to be all specified by us, but some perhaps it may not be amiss to recall.
In one letter, he writes to Deborah that he is sending her a large case
marked D. F. No. 1 and a small box marked D. F. No. 2, and that in the
large case is another small box containing some English china, viz.: melons
and leaves for a dessert of fruit and cream, or the like; a bowl remarkable
for the neatness of the figures, made at Bow near London, some coffee cups
of the same make, and a Worcester bowl, ordinary. In the same box, to show
the difference of workmanship, he said, there was something from all the
china works in England and one old true china basin mended of an odd color,
four silver salt ladles, newest but ugliest fashion, a little instrument to
core apples, another to make little turnips out of great ones and six
coarse diaper breakfast cloths. The latter, he stated, were to be spread
on the tea table, for nobody breakfasted in London on the naked table but
on the cloth set a large tea board with the cups. In the large case were
likewise some carpeting for a best room floor, and bordering to go along
with it, also two large fine Flanders bed-ticks, two pair of large
superfine fine blankets, two fine damask table-cloths and napkins, and
forty-three ells of Ghentish sheeting Holland, all of which Deborah had
ordered of him; also fifty-six yards of cotton, printed curiously from
copper plates, a new invention, to make bed and window curtains, and seven
yards of chair bottoms printed in the same way very neat. "These were my
Fancy," Franklin remarks, "but Mrs. Stevenson tells me I did wrong not to
buy both of the same Colour." In the large case, too, were seven yards of
printed cotton, blue ground, to make Deborah a gown.

     I bought it by Candlelight, and lik'd it then [the
     letter said], but not so well afterwards. If you do not
     fancy it, send it as a Present from me to sister Jenny.
     There is a better Gown for you, of flower'd Tissue, 16
     yards, of Mrs. Stevenson's Fancy, cost 9 Guineas; and I
     think it a great Beauty. There was no more of the Sort,
     or you should have had enough for a _Negligee_ or Suit.

     There is also Snuffers, Snuff Stand, and Extinguisher
     of Steel, which I send for the Beauty of the Work. The
     Extinguisher is for Spermaceti Candles only, and is of
     a new Contrivance, to preserve the Snuff upon the

Small box No. 2 contained cut table glass of several sorts. After stating
its contents, Franklin adds, "I am about buying a compleat Set of Table
China, 2 Cases of silver handled Knives and Forks, and 2 pair Silver
Candlesticks; but these shall keep to use here till my Return, as I am
obliged sometimes to entertain polite Company."

But there is nothing in this letter equal in interest to the paragraph
that brings to our mental eye the handsome, buxom figure of Deborah

     I forgot to mention another of my Fancyings, _viz._: a
     Pair of Silk Blankets, very fine. They are of a new
     kind, were just taken in a French Prize, and such were
     never seen in England before: they are called Blankets,
     but I think will be very neat to cover a Summer Bed,
     instead of a Quilt or Counterpain. I had no Choice, so
     you will excuse the Soil on some of the Folds; your
     Neighbour Forster can get it off. I also forgot, among
     the China, to mention a large fine Jugg for Beer, to
     stand in the Cooler. I fell in Love with it at first
     Sight; for I thought it look'd like a fat jolly Dame,
     clean and tidy, with a neat blue and white Calico Gown
     on, good natur'd and lovely, and put me, in mind
     of--Somebody. It has the Coffee Cups in its Belly,[21]
     pack'd in best Chrystal Salt, of a peculiar nice
     Flavour, for the Table, not to be powder'd.

The receipt of such a case and box as these was doubtless an event long
remembered in the Franklin home at Philadelphia. In a subsequent letter
from Franklin to Deborah, the following gifts to Sally are brought to our

     By Capt. Lutwidge I sent my dear Girl a newest
     fashion'd white Hat and Cloak, and sundry little
     things, which I hope will get safe to hand. I now send
     her a pair of Buckles, made of French Paste Stones,
     which are next in Lustre to Diamonds. They cost three
     Guineas, and are said to be cheap at that Price.

These were but a few of the many gifts that Deborah and Sally received from
Franklin, when he was in London. In their relations to their own
households, philosophers are frequently not unlike the ancient one, who,
when told by a messenger that his house was on fire, looked up for a minute
from his task to say impatiently that his wife attended to all his domestic
affairs. This is not true of Franklin, who was wholly free from the crass
ignorance and maladroit touch which render many husbands as much out of
place in their own houses as the officious ass in Æsop's fable was in his
master's dining-hall. Even the fences, the well and the vegetable garden at
times are mentioned in his letters to Deborah, and his mechanical skill
stood him in good stead as a householder. He knew how the carpets should be
laid down, what stuff should be purchased for curtains in the blue chamber,
and by what kind of hooks they should be fastened to the curtain rails, and
the number of curtains at each window that the London fashions required. In
one letter he gives Deborah minute instructions as to how the blue room in
his Philadelphia home was to be painted and papered. In a subsequent
letter, after saying that he was glad to hear that certain pictures were
safe arrived at Philadelphia, he adds, "You do not tell me who mounted the
great one, nor where you have hung it up."

In his relations to his home, at any rate, we can discern nothing of the
lack of order, with which he was so frank in reproaching himself. During
the time that he was detained in New York by Lord Loudon, he several times
had occasion to send a message to his wife about something that he had left
behind in his house at Philadelphia, or in his house at Woodbridge in New
Jersey, and nothing could be more exact than his recollection as to just
where each thing was. He writes for his best spectacles; he had left them
on the table, he said, meaning at Woodbridge. In the right hand little
drawer under his desk in Philadelphia was some of the Indian Lady's
gut-cambric; it was to be rolled up like a ribbon, wrapt in paper and
placed in the Indian seal skin hussiff, with the other things already in
it, and the hussiff was to be forwarded to him. It would be an acceptable
present to a gimcrack great man in London that was his friend. In certain
places on his book-shelves at Woodbridge, which he precisely locates, were
the _Gardener's Dictionary_, by P. Miller, and the _Treatise on
Cydermaking_. They were to be delivered to Mr. Parker.

Occasional shadows, of course, fall across the happy and honored life
reflected in Franklin's letters to Deborah. We cannot have the evening,
however soft and still, without its fading light; or, as Franklin himself
put it in one of these letters, "we are not to expect it will be always
Sunshine." Strenuous and absorbing as were his public tasks during each of
his missions to England; signalized as the latter were by the honors
conferred on him by ancient seats of learning, and the attentions paid him
by illustrious men; charming and refreshing as were his excursions for
health and recreation about the British Islands and on the Continent, and
his hours of social relaxation in the country houses of England, Scotland
and Ireland; supplied as he was at No. 7 Craven Street with every domestic
comfort that the assiduous management of Mrs. Stevenson--who even took care
that his shirts should be well-aired as Deborah directed--could provide,
his thoughts, now and then, as we have seen, tristfully reverted to his
home on the other side of the Atlantic. Some six months after his arrival
in England in 1757, he expressed the hope that, if he stayed another
winter, it would be more agreeable than the greatest part of the time that
he had spent in England. Some two months after his return to England in
1764, he writes to Deborah that he hopes that a few months--the few months
slid into ten years--will finish affairs in England to his wish, and bring
him to that retirement and repose, with his little family, so suitable to
his years, and which he has so long set his heart upon. Some four years
later, he wrote to Deborah:

     I feel stronger and more active. Yet I would not have
     you think that I fancy I shall grow young again. I know
     that men of my Bulk often fail suddenly: I know that
     according to the Course of Nature I cannot at most
     continue much longer, and that the living even of
     another Day is uncertain. I therefore now form no
     Schemes, but such as are of immediate Execution;
     indulging myself in no future Prospect except one, that
     of returning to Philadelphia, there to spend the
     Evening of Life with my Friends and Family.

There was a time when he loved England and would perhaps have contentedly
lived and died there, if his Lares and Penates could have been enticed into
taking up their abode there. With his broad, tolerant, jocund nature, he
was, it must be confessed, not a little like a hare, which soon makes a
form for itself wherever it happens to crouch. The homesickness, which
colors a few of his letters, is to no little extent the legacy of illness.
But much as he was absent from home, alchemist as he always was in
transmuting all that is disagreeable in life into what is agreeable, or at
least endurable, the family hearthside never ceased to have a bright,
cheerful glow for his well-ordered, home-loving nature.

Grave illness was more than once his lot during his mission to England.[22]
Shortly after his arrival in that country in 1757, he was seized with a
violent attack of sickness, accompanied by delirium, which left him in an
invalid condition for quite a time. From the account that he gives of the
cupping, vomiting and purging that he underwent, under the care of good
Doctor Fothergill, there would seem to have been no lack of opportunity for
the escape of the disease, which, judging by the amount of bark that he
took in substance and infusion, was probably some form of malarial fever.
This attack gives a decidedly valetudinary tone to one of his subsequent
letters to Deborah. "I am much more tender than I us'd to be," he said,
"and sleep in a short Callico Bedgown with close Sleeves, and Flannel
close-footed Trousers; for without them I get no warmth all Night. So it
seems I grow older apace." Deborah's health, too, about this time was not
overgood, for, a few months later, he writes to her: "It gives me Concern
to receive such frequent Accts of your being indisposed; but we both of
us grow in Years, and must expect our Constitutions, though tolerably good
in themselves, will by degrees give way to the Infirmities of Age." Shortly
after Franklin's arrival in England in 1764, he was seized with another
attack of illness, but he was soon able to declare that, thanks to God, he
was got perfectly well, his cough being quite gone, and his arms mending,
so that he could dress and undress himself, if he chose to endure a little
pain. A few months later, he says it rejoices him to learn that Deborah is
freer than she used to be from the headache and the pain in her side. He
himself, he said, was likewise in perfect health. Again he writes to
Deborah in the succeeding year: "I congratulate you on the soon expected
Repeal of the Stamp Act; and on the great Share of Health we both enjoy,
tho' now going in Four-score (that is, in the fourth score)." He was not
allowed, however, to indulge long the spirit of congratulation, for, a few
months later, one of his letters to Deborah brings to our knowledge the
fact that he had been very ill. After his recovery from this illness, he
does not seem to have been attacked by anything again while in England,
beyond a fit or so of the gout, and in 1768 he readily assents to the
statement of Deborah that they were both blessed with a great share of
health considering their years, then sixty-three. A few years more,
however, and Franklin's correspondence indicates plainly enough that this
statement was no longer applicable to Deborah. In the letter
last-mentioned, her husband writes to her that he wonders to hear that his
friends were backward in bringing her his letters when they arrived, and
thinks it must be a mere imagination of hers, the effect of some melancholy
humor she happened then to be in; and some four years afterwards he
recommends to her a dietary for the preservation of her health and the
improvement of her spirits. But both were then beyond repair, and, two
years later, she was in the Elysian fields where, despite what was
reported, as we shall see, by Franklin to Madame Helvétius about his
Eurydice and M. Helvétius, it is impossible to believe that she, faithful,
loving creature that she was, did anything but inconsolably await his

Of course, we are not wholly dependent upon Franklin's letters to Deborah
for details relating to Sally and Richard Bache. A very readable letter of
his is the one written by him to Sally from Reedy Island on his way to
England in 1764. Its opening sentences bring home to us anew the multitude
of his friends and the fervid enthusiasm of their friendship.

     Our good friends, Mr. Galloway, Mr. Wharton, and Mr.
     James, came with me in the ship from Chester to New
     Castle and went ashore there [he said]. It was kind to
     favour me with their good company as far as they could.
     The affectionate leave taken of me by so many friends
     at Chester was very endearing. God bless them and all

Then, after observing that the natural prudence and goodness of heart, with
which God had blessed Sally, made it less necessary for him to be
particular in giving her advice, Franklin tells her that the more
attentively dutiful and tender she was towards her good mama the more she
would recommend herself to him, adding, "But why should I mention _me_,
when you have so much higher a promise in the commandments, that such
conduct will recommend you to the favour of God." After this, he warns her
that her conduct should be all the more circumspect, that no advantage
might be given to the malevolence of his political enemies, directs her to
go constantly to church and advises her in his absence to acquire those
useful accomplishments, arithmetic and book-keeping.

In his next letter to Sally, he tells her that he has met her husband at
Preston, where he had been kindly entertained for two or three days by her
husband's mother and sisters, whom he liked much. The comfort that this
assurance gave to a wife, who had never met her husband's relatives, can be
readily appreciated. He had advised Bache, he said, to settle down to
business in Philadelphia, where he would always be with her; almost any
profession a man has been educated in being preferable, in his opinion, to
an office held at pleasure, as rendering him more independent, more a
freeman, and less subject to the caprices of superiors. This means, of
course, that the Baches, too, were looking for a seat in the Post-Office
carryall, in which room was found for so many of Franklin's relations and

     By Industry & Frugality [Franklin further said], you
     may get forward in the World, being both of you yet
     young. And then what we may leave you at our Death may
     be a pretty Addition, tho' of itself far from
     sufficient to maintain & bring up a Family. It is of
     the more Importance for you to think seriously of this,
     as you may have a Number of Children to educate. 'Till
     my Return you need be at no Expence for Rent, etc, as
     you are all welcome to continue with your Mother, and
     indeed it seems to be your Duty to attend her, as she
     grows infirm, and takes much Delight in your Company
     and the Child's. This Saving will be a Help in your
     Progress: And for your Encouragement I can assure you
     that there is scarce a Merchant of Opulence in your
     Town, whom I do not remember a young Beginner with as
     little to go on with, & no better Prospects than Mr.

Ben of course is not overlooked. "I am much pleas'd with the Acc' I receive
from all Hands of your dear little Boy. I hope he will be continu'd a
Blessing to us all." It must have been a great gratification to him to
learn that Betsey, William Franklin's wife, as well as Deborah, had stood
as godmother for the child. In his next letter to Sally, acknowledging the
receipt of a pleasing letter from her, he states that he is glad that she
has undertaken the care of the housekeeping, as it would be an ease to her
mother, especially if she could manage to her approbation. "_That_," he
commented significantly, "may perhaps be at first a Difficulty."[23] It
would be of use to her, he continued, if she would get a habit of keeping
exact accounts, and it would be some satisfaction to him to see them, for
she should remember, for her encouragement in good economy, that, whatever
a child saves of its parents' money, will be its own another day. "Study,"
the letter concludes, "Poor Richard a little, and you may find some
Benefit from his Instructions." These letters were all written from London.
The rest of Franklin's letters to Sally alone were written from Passy. In
the first he says that, if she knew how happy her letters made him, and
considered how many of them miscarried, she would, he thought, write
oftener. A daughter had then been added to the members of the Bache
household, and that he had a word to pen about her goes almost without
saying. He expresses the hope that Sally would again be out of the city
during the hot months for the sake of this child's health, "for I begin to
love the dear little creature from your description of her," he said. This
was the letter in which Sally was so pointedly scored for not living more
simply and frugally.

     I was charmed [he declared] with the account you gave
     me of your industry, the table cloths of your own
     spinning, &c.; but the latter part of the paragraph,
     that you had sent for linen from France, because
     weaving and flax were grown dear, alas, that dissolved
     the charm; and your sending for long black pins, and
     lace, and _feathers!_ disgusted me as much as if you
     had put salt into my strawberries. The spinning, I see,
     is laid aside, and you are to be dressed for the ball!
     You seem not to know, my dear daughter, that, of all
     the dear things in this world, idleness is the dearest,
     except mischief.

Then Ben as usual comes in for notice. As he intended him for a
Presbyterian as well as a Republican, he had sent him to finish his
education at Geneva, Franklin stated.

     He is much grown [he continues] in very good health,
     draws a little, as you will see by the enclosed, learns
     Latin, writing, arithmetic, and dancing, and speaks
     French better than English. He made a translation of
     your last letter to him, so that some of your works may
     now appear in a foreign language.

A few sentences more, with regard to her second son, Will, and another
topic and there is a regurgitation of his disgust over Sally's

     When I began [he said] to read your account of the high
     prices of goods, "a pair of gloves, $7; a yard of
     common gauze, $24, and that it now required a fortune
     to maintain a family in a very plain way," I expected
     you would conclude with telling me, that everybody as
     well as yourself was grown frugal and industrious; and
     I could scarce believe my eyes in reading forward, that
     "there never was so much pleasure and dressing going
     on," and that you yourself wanted black pins and
     feathers from France to appear, I suppose, in the mode!
     This leads me to imagine, that it is perhaps not so
     much that the goods are grown dear, as that the money
     is grown cheap, as everything else will do when
     excessively plenty; and that people are still as easy
     nearly in their circumstances, as when a pair of gloves
     might be had for half a crown. The war indeed may in
     some degree raise the prices of goods, and the high
     taxes which are necessary to support the war may make
     our frugality necessary; and, as I am always preaching
     that doctrine, I cannot in conscience or in decency
     encourage the contrary, by my example, in furnishing my
     children with foolish modes and luxuries. I therefore
     send all the articles you desire, that are useful and
     necessary, and omit the rest; for, as you say you
     should "have great pride in wearing anything I send,
     and showing it as your father's taste," I must avoid
     giving you an opportunity of doing that with either
     lace or feathers. If you wear your cambric ruffles as I
     do, and take care not to mend the holes, they will come
     in time to be lace, and feathers, my dear girl, may be
     had in America from every cock's tail.

Franklin's last letter to Sally was written from Passy, and contains the
inimitable strictures on the Order of the Cincinnati, to which we shall
hereafter return, but nothing of any personal or domestic interest.

Two of the letters of Franklin are written to Sally and her husband
together. "Dear Son and Daughter," is the way he begins, and one ends, "I
am ever my dear Children, your affectionate Father."

Both of these letters were written from Passy. One of them, in addition to
letting the parents know that Ben promised to be a stout, as well as a
good, man, presents with no little pathos the situation of the writer on
the eve of his departure from France for Philadelphia in 1785. After
mentioning his efforts to engage some good vessel bound directly for
Philadelphia, which would agree to take him on board at Havre with his
grandsons, servants and baggage, he sketches this lugubrious picture of

     Infirm as I am, I have need of comfortable Room and
     Accommodations. I was miserably lodg'd in coming over
     hither, which almost demolish'd me. I must be better
     stow'd now, or I shall not be able to hold out the
     Voyage. Indeed my Friends here are so apprehensive for
     me, that they press me much to remain in France, and
     three of them have offer'd me an Asylum in their
     Habitations. They tell me I am here among a People who
     universally esteem and love me; that my Friends at home
     are diminish'd by Death in my Absence; that I may there
     meet with Envy and its consequent Enmity which here I
     am perfectly free from; this supposing I live to
     compleat the Voyage, but of that they doubt. The Desire
     however of spending the little Remainder of Life with
     my Family, is so strong, as to determine me to try, at
     least, whether I can bear the Motion of a Ship. If not,
     I must get them to set me on shore somewhere in the
     Channel, and content myself to die in Europe.

This is melancholy enough, but the wonderful old man weathered out the
voyage, and contrived on the way to write three elaborate treatises on
practical subjects which, good as they are of their kind, the general
reader would gladly exchange for the addition of a few dozen pages to the
_Autobiography_. In his last years, he was like the mimosa tree, dying, to
all appearances, one year, and the next throwing out fresh verdurous
branches from his decaying trunk.

Among the writings of Franklin are also letters to Richard Bache alone. The
first is dated October 7, 1772, and begins, "Loving Son." But loving son as
Bache was, Franklin was too indisposed to encourage pecuniary laxity in a
son-in-law, who had to make his way in the world, not to remind him that
there remained five guineas unpaid, which he had had of him just on going
away. "Send it in a Venture for Ben to Jamaica," he said. The next letter
to Bache relates to the hospitable Post-office. Bache, he says, will have
heard, before it got to hand, that the writer had been displaced, and
consequently would have it no longer in his power to assist him in his
views relating to the Post-office; "As things are," he remarked, "I would
not wish to see you concern'd in it. For I conceive that the Dismissing me
merely for not being corrupted by the Office to betray the Interests of my
Country, will make it some Disgrace among us to hold such an Office."

The remainder of Franklin's letters to Bache, with the exception of a
letter introducing to him Thomas Paine, the author of _Common Sense_, were
written from Passy. One of them had something pungent but just enough to
say about Lee and Izard and the cabal for removing Temple. Sally declared
on one occasion that she hated all South Carolinians from B (Bee, a member
of Congress from South Carolina) to Izard. This letter discloses the fact
that Ben had been placed at school at Geneva in "_the old thirteen United
States of Switzerland_," as the writer calls them. It is signed "I am your
affectionate father." Another letter indicates that Franklin had sent a
profile of the growing boy to his parents, so that they could see the
changes which he had undergone in the preceding four years. This letter
also expresses the willingness of the grandfather to give at his expense
to William, Bache's second son, the best education that America could
afford. In his next and last letter to Bache, Franklin makes these comments
upon Ben which not only show how much he loved him but how quietly his
temperament could accept even such a disappointment as his failure to
secure the merited office for Temple.

     Benny continues well, and grows amazingly. He is a very
     sensible and a very good Lad, and I love him much. I
     had Thoughts of bringing him up under his Cousin, and
     fitting him for Public Business, thinking he might be
     of Service hereafter to his Country; but being now
     convinc'd that _Service is no Inheritance_, as the
     Proverb says, I have determin'd to give him a Trade
     that he may have something to depend on, and not be
     oblig'd to ask Favours or Offices of anybody. And I
     flatter myself he will make his way good in the World
     with God's Blessing. He has already begun to learn the
     business from Masters [a printer and a letter founder]
     who come to my House, and is very diligent in working
     and quick in learning.

Two letters to the boy himself are among Franklin's published writings. The
first is couched in sweet, simple terms, suited to the age of his youthful
correspondent, and the second is interesting only as evidencing how closely
the grandfather scanned the drawings and handwriting of his grandson, and
as emphasizing the importance that he always attached to arithmetic and
accounts as elements of an useful education.

Sally's reply to her father's rebuke, on account of the modish vanities,
that she asked of him, was quite spirited.

     How could my dear papa [she said] give me so severe a
     reprimand for wishing a little finery. He would not, I
     am sure, if he knew how much I have felt it. Last
     winter (in consequence of the surrender of General
     Burgoyne) was a season of triumph to the Whigs, and
     they spent it gayly; you would not have had me, I am
     sure, stay away from the Embassadors' or Gerard's
     entertainments, nor when I was invited to spend a day
     with General Washington and his lady; and you would
     have been the last person, I am sure, to have wished to
     see me dressed with singularity: Though I never loved
     dress so much as to wish to be particularly fine, yet I
     never will go out when I cannot appear so as to do
     credit to my family and husband.

Apparently, Sally was not always so unsuccessful as she was on this
occasion in her efforts to secure something to wear, suitable to her
situation as the daughter of a very distinguished citizen of Philadelphia
in easy circumstances. Nothing, she once wrote to her father, was ever more
admired than her new gown. It is obvious, however, that Franklin was
resolved that his daughter at least should heed and profit by what Father
Abraham had to say in his discourse about the effect of silks, satins,
scarlet and velvets in putting out the kitchen fire. In his will, he
bequeathed to her the picture of Louis XV., given to him by the King, which
was set with four hundred and eight diamonds, "requesting, however, that
she would not form any of those diamonds into ornaments either for herself
or daughters, and thereby introduce or countenance the expensive, vain, and
useless fashion of wearing jewels in this country." The outer circle of the
diamonds was sold by Sally, and on the proceeds she and her husband made
the tour of Europe.

When Franklin returned from his second mission, it was to reside with his
daughter and son-in-law in the new house with the kitchen, dining-room and
blue chamber mentioned in his letters to Deborah. Cohabitation with the
Baches proved so agreeable that he wrote Polly Hewson that he was delighted
with his little family. "Will," he told Temple, "has got a little Gun,
marches with it, and whistles at the same time by way of Fife." There are
also some amusing observations in a later letter of his to Temple on a
letter written by Ben to Temple, when Temple was at the house of his Tory
father in New Jersey, but which was never sent.

     It was thought [said Franklin] to be too full of Pot
     hooks & Hangers, and so unintelligible by the dividing
     Words in the Middle and joining Ends of some to
     Beginnings of others, that if it had fallen into the
     Hands of some Committee it might have given them too
     much Trouble to decypher it, on a Suspicion of its
     containing Treason, especially as directed to a Tory

An earlier letter from Franklin to Polly Hewson about Ben is marked by the
same playful spirit. "Ben," the grandfather said, "when I delivered him
your Blessing, inquired the Age of Elizabeth [Mrs. Hewson's daughter] and
thought her yet too young for him; but, as he made no other Objection, and
that will lessen every day, I have only to wish being alive to dance with
your Mother at the Wedding."

After his arrival in America, Franklin was appointed Postmaster-General of
the Colonies by Congress, and this appointment gave Richard Bache another
opportunity to solicit an office from his father-in-law. With his usual
unfaltering nepotism, Franklin appointed him Deputy Postmaster-General, but
subsequently Congress removed him, and there was nothing for him to do but
to court fortune in business again, with such aid as Franklin could give
him in mercantile circles in France. In the latter years of Franklin's
life, there was a very general feeling that he had made public office too
much of a family perquisite, and this feeling weakened Richard Bache's
tenure on the Post Office, and helped to frustrate all Franklin's plans for
the public preferment of Temple and Benjamin Franklin Bache. Much as
Washington admired Franklin the latter was unable to obtain even by the
most assiduous efforts an office under his administration for either of

When Franklin's ship approached Philadelphia on his return from Paris, it
was his son-in-law who put off in a boat to bring him and his grandsons
ashore, and, when he landed at Market Street wharf, he was received by a
crowd of people with huzzas and accompanied with acclamations quite to his

After his return he again took up his residence with the Baches in the same
house as before, and there is but little more to say about the members of
the Bache family. There are, however, some complimentary things worth
recalling that were said of Sally by some of her French contemporaries.

     She [Marbois wrote to Franklin in 1781] passed a part
     of last year in exertions to rouse the zeal of the
     Pennsylvania ladies; and she made on this occasion such
     a happy use of the eloquence which you know she
     possesses, that a large part of the American army was
     provided with shirts, bought with their money or made
     by their hands. If there are in Europe [he also said]
     any women who need a model of attachment to domestic
     duties and love for their country, Mrs. Bache may be
     pointed out to them as such.

The Marquis de Chastellux tells us that she was "simple in her manners,"
and "like her respectable father, she possesses his benevolence."

Of course, from the letters of Franklin himself we obtain some insight into
the domestic conditions by which he was surrounded in his home during the
last stages of his existence. To John Jay and Mrs. Jay he wrote, shortly
after his arrival in America, that he was then in the bosom of his family,
and found four new little prattlers, who clung about the knees of their
grandpapa, and afforded him great pleasure. It is a peaceful slope, though
near the foot of the hill, which is presented to our eyes in these words
written by him to Jan Ingenhousz:

     Except that I am too much encumber'd with Business, I
     find myself happily situated here, among my numerous
     Friends, plac'd at the Head of my Country by its
     unanimous Voice, in the Bosom of my Family, my
     Offspring to wait on me and nurse me, in a House I
     built 23 Years since to my Mind.

A still later letter, in which he speaks of Sally, tends to support the
idea that it was not his but William Franklin's fault that the
reconciliation, which was supposed to have taken place between father and
son abroad, was not sufficiently complete to repress the acrid reference
made by Franklin in his will to the fact that his son had been a Loyalist.

     I too [he wrote to his friend, Mather Byles] have a
     Daughter, who lives with me and is the Comfort of my
     declining Years, while my Son is estrang'd from me by
     the Part he took in the late War, and keeps aloof,
     residing in England, whose Cause he _espous'd_; whereby
     the old Proverb is exemplified;

    "My Son is my Son till he take him a Wife;
    But my Daughter's my Daughter all Days of her Life."

We are the quicker to place the blame for the recrudescence of the former
bitterness upon William Franklin because the life of Franklin is full of
proofs that he had a truly forgiving disposition.[24] It is a fact,
however, that his unrelenting antipathy to Loyalists is the one thing in
his career unworthy of a sense of justice and breadth of intellectual
charity, otherwise well-nigh perfect. We cannot but regret that anything
should have shaken the poise of a character which Lecky has truthfully
termed "one of the calmest and best balanced of human characters." But it
is not given even to a Franklin to see things in their ordinary colors
through a blood-red mist, and quite as true as any saying that Poor Richard
ever conceived or borrowed is _Acerrima proximorum odia_.

In still another letter, one to Madame Brillon, he says, "A dutiful and
affectionate Daughter, with her Husband and Six Children compose my Family.
The Children are all promising, and even the youngest, who is but four
Years old, contributes to my Amusement"; and, about a year and a half
before his death, he records in a letter to Elizabeth Partridge, the
"Addition of a little good-natured Girl, whom I begin to love as well as
the rest." In yet another letter, this time to his friend, Alexander Small,
after the birth of this little girl, there is a revelation of the domestic
quietude in which his long life closed. "I have," he said, "seven promising
grandchildren by my daughter, who play with and amuse me, and she is a kind
attentive nurse to me when I am at any time indisposed; so that I pass my
time as agreeably as at my age a man may well expect, and have little to
wish for, except a more easy exit than my malady seems to threaten." By
this time, Benjamin Franklin Bache was old enough to be turning to the
practical purposes of self-support the knowledge of printing which he had
acquired in France. "I am too old to follow printing again myself," wrote
Franklin to Mrs. Catherine Greene, "but, loving the business, I have
brought up my grandson Benjamin to it, and have built and furnished a
printing-house for him, which he now manages under my eye." The type used
by Benjamin in his business were those which his grandfather had cast with
the aid of his servants in Paris, and had employed in printing the
brilliant little productions penned by his friends and himself, which
created so much merriment in the _salon_ of Madame Helvétius.

The seven children of Sarah Bache were Benjamin Franklin Bache, who married
Margaret Marcoe, William Hartman Bache, who married Catharine Wistar, Eliza
Franklin Bache, who married John Edward Harwood, Louis Bache, who married
first Mary Ann Swift, and then Esther Egee, Deborah Bache, who married
William J. Duane, Richard Bache, who married Sophia B. Dallas, a daughter
of Alexander J. Dallas, and Sarah Bache, who married Thomas Sargeant.

Besides being a good husband, father and grandfather, Franklin was also a
good son. His father, Josiah, had seven children by his first wife, Anne,
and ten by his second, Abiah Folger, Franklin's mother. Of this swarm, we
are told by the _Autobiography_ that Franklin could remember thirteen
children sitting at one time at his father's table, who all grew up to be
men and women, and married. Franklin himself was the youngest son, and the
youngest child but two. In few subjects was his adult interest keener than
in that of population, and the circumstances of his early life were
certainly calculated to stimulate it into a high degree of precocious
activity. It is a pleasing portrait that he paints of his father for us in
the _Autobiography_. After describing his physique in the terms already
quoted by us, Franklin says:

     He was ingenious, could draw prettily, was skilled a
     little in music, and had a clear pleasing voice, so
     that when he played psalm tunes on his violin and sung
     withal, as he sometimes did in an evening after the
     business of the day was over, it was extremely
     agreeable to hear. He had a mechanical genius too, and,
     on occasion, was very handy in the use of other
     tradesman's tools; but his great excellence lay in a
     sound understanding and solid judgment in prudential
     matters, both in private and publick affairs. In the
     latter, indeed, he was never employed, the numerous
     family he had to educate and the straitness of his
     circumstances keeping him close to his trade; but I
     remember well his being frequently visited by leading
     people, who consulted him for his opinion in affairs of
     the town or of the church he belonged to, and showed a
     good deal of respect for his judgment and advice: he
     was also much consulted by private persons about their
     affairs when any difficulty occurred, and frequently
     chosen an arbitrator between contending parties. At his
     table he liked to have, as often as he could, some
     sensible friend or neighbour to converse with, and
     always took care to start some ingenious or useful
     topic for discourse, which might tend to improve the
     minds of his children. By this means he turned our
     attention to what was good, just, and prudent in the
     conduct of life; and little or no notice was ever taken
     of what related to the victuals on the table, whether
     it was well or ill-dressed, in or out of season, of
     good or bad flavour, preferable or inferior to this or
     that other thing of the kind, so that I was bro't up in
     such a perfect inattention to those matters as to be
     quite indifferent what kind of food was set before me,
     and so unobservant of it, that to this day if I am
     asked I can scarce tell a few hours after dinner what I
     dined upon. This has been a convenience to me in
     travelling, where my companions have been sometimes
     very unhappy for want of a suitable gratification of
     their more delicate, because better instructed, tastes
     and appetites.

A story is credited to Josiah by Franklin which is quite in the manner of
the son. When Charles the First ordered his proclamation authorizing sports
on Sunday to be read in all churches, many clergymen complied, some refused
and others hurried it through as indistinctly as possible. But a certain
clergyman to the surprise of his congregation read it distinctly. He
followed the reading, however, with the Fourth Commandment, _Remember to
keep holy the Sabbath Day_, and then said, "Brethren, I have laid before
you the Command of your King, and the Commandment of your God. I leave it
to yourselves to judge which of the two ought rather to be observed."

It is to be wished that Franklin could have given us in the _Autobiography_
a companion portrait of his mother also; but this he has not done. He tells
us little more than that she was the daughter of Peter Folger, a resident
of Nantucket, had, like her husband, an excellent constitution, and suckled
all her ten children--a point of capital importance with her son. Franklin
further tells us that he never knew either his father or his mother to have
any sickness but that of which they died, he at eighty-nine and she at
eighty-five. They were both buried in Boston, and rested for many years
under a monument, erected over their graves by Franklin, with a happy
inscription from his pen, until this monument, having fallen into a state
of dilapidation, was replaced in 1827 by a more durable one, erected by a
number of citizens of Boston, who were desirous, as their supplementary
inscription states, of reminding succeeding generations that he was born in
Boston. In his inscription, Franklin, true to his ideals, states with pride
that Josiah and Abiah lived lovingly together in wedlock fifty-five years,
and, without an estate, or any gainful employment, by constant labor and
industry, with God's blessing, maintained a large family comfortably, and
brought up thirteen children and seven grandchildren reputably. In the
light of the altered domestic standards of the present time, it requires
some little effort, after reading these words, to accept the subsequent
statement in the inscription that Josiah was not only a pious but a
"prudent" man.

Peter Folger was evidently regarded by Franklin with distinct favor because
of his tolerant characteristics. The flower of tolerance did not often lift
up its head in the frigid air of what some one has wittily styled the "ice
age" of New England history. In the _Autobiography_, Franklin speaks of
Folger as one of the first settlers of New England, of whom honourable
mention is made by Cotton Mather, in his church history of that country,
entitled _Magnolia Christi Americana_, as "_a godly, learned Englishman_,"
if he remembers the words rightly.

     I have heard [the _Autobiography_ goes on] that he
     wrote sundry small occasional pieces, but only one of
     them was printed, which I saw now many years since. It
     was written in 1675, in the home-spun verse of that
     time and people, and addressed to those then concerned
     in the government there. It was in favour of liberty of
     conscience, and in behalf of the Baptists, Quakers, and
     other sectaries that had been under persecution,
     ascribing the Indian Wars, and other distresses that
     had befallen the country, to that persecution, as so
     many judgments of God to punish so heinous an offense,
     and exhorting a repeal of those uncharitable laws. The
     whole appeared to me as written with a good deal of
     decent plainness and manly freedom. The six concluding
     lines I remember, though I have forgotten the two first
     of the stanza; but the purport of them was, that his
     censures proceeded from good-will, and, therefore, he
     would be known to be the author,

    "Because to be a libeller (says he)
    I hate it with my heart;
    From Sherburne town, where now I dwell,
    My name I do put here;
    Without offense your real friend,
    It is Peter Folgier."

Verses like these, it is to be feared, call for somewhat the same spirit of
toleration as that which Folger himself exhibited towards the Baptists and
Quakers, but they were well worthy of remembrance, at any rate, for the
brave and enlightened spirit by which they were informed.[25]

Peter Folger's plainness of speech seems to have been a family
characteristic. In a letter to his sister Jane, written in his last years,
Franklin told her frankly that, if there had been a misunderstanding
between her and one of her relations, he should have concluded that it was
her fault, "for I think our Family," he said, "were always subject to being
a little Miffy." Then, as was his habit, when he had discharged the
disagreeable duty of saying something slightly censorious, he brings the
stress of his good nature to bear upon his pen just a little harder than

     By the way [he asked] is our Relationship in Nantucket
     worn-out? I have met with none from thence of late
     years, who were disposed to be acquainted with me,
     except Captain Timothy Foulger. They are wonderfully
     shy. But I admire their honest plainness of Speech.
     About a year ago I invited two of them to dine with me.
     Their answer was, that they would, if they could not do
     better. I suppose they did better; for I never saw them
     afterwards, and so had no Opportunity of showing my
     Miff, if I had one.

The letters from Franklin to his father and mother are few in number but
not lacking in interest. To the one to Josiah, in which he made the heinous
confession that his mind was not very clear as to the difference between
Arianism and Arminianism, we have already adverted. In this letter, besides
the burden of defending his religious orthodoxy before a very stern
tribunal, he had to assume the burden of satisfying his good mother that
there was nothing odious in the principles and practices of the Freemasons;
and this in the face of the fact that one of their rules was not to admit
women into their lodges. Another letter, which begins "Honoured Father and
Mother," and ends, "Your affectionate and dutiful son," discourses in quite
a learned fashion upon various remedies that might take the place of the
ebbing _vis medicatrix naturæ_ which had served the aged pair so well for
such a long span of years; but the son is careful to say that he hopes that
his parents will consider his advice upon such subjects only as marks of
his good will and put no more of it in practice than should happen to agree
with their doctor's directions. Another letter, beginning "Honoured
Mother," deals with topics of a very different nature from either religious
dogmas or the _sapo philosophorum_ of his medicinal communication. Cousin
Josiah Davenport and his spouse had arrived at Philadelphia hearty and
well. He had met them the evening before at Trenton, thirty miles off, and
had accompanied them to town. How gracious, we may remark, was the old
Pennsylvania hospitality which sometimes greeted the coming guest thirty
miles away, and, instead of speeding the parting guest, sometimes followed
him for as great a distance when he was going!

     They [Franklin continued] went into their own house on
     Monday, and I believe will do very well, for he seems
     bent on industry, and she appears a discreet, notable
     young woman. My wife has been to see them every day,
     calling in as she passes by; and I suspect has fallen
     in love with our new cousin; for she entertains me a
     deal, when she comes home, with what Cousin Sally does,
     and what Cousin Sally says, what a good contriver she
     is, and the like.

In his next letter to Abiah, Franklin sends her one of his far-famed
almanacs, and then adds, "I send you also a moidore enclosed, which please
to accept towards chaise hire, that you may ride warm to meetings this
winter." From the moidore he passes to infantile complaints which it must
have pained the heart of the mother of ten children to hear had carried off
many children in Philadelphia that summer, and then, after just a word
about Cousin Coleman and two of the outspoken Folgers, he has this to say
about Sally: "Your granddaughter is the greatest lover of her book and
school, of any child I ever knew, and is very dutiful to her mistress as
well as to us."

In one of her letters to her son Abiah tells him that she is very weak and
short-breathed, so that she can't sit up to write much, although she sleeps
well at night, and her cough is better, and she has a pretty good stomach
to her victuals. In the same letter, she also says: "Pray excuse my bad
writing and inditing, for all tell me I am too old to write letters." No
courtier could have framed a more graceful response to this appeal, let
alone the sincerity of filial respect and love.

     We received your kind Letter of the 2d Instant [wrote
     Franklin] and we are glad to hear you still enjoy such
     a Measure of Health, notwithstanding your great Age. We
     read your Writing very easily. I never met with a Word
     in your Letters but what I could readily understand;
     for, tho' the Hand is not always the best, the Sense
     makes everything plain.

The numerous family details in this letter render it the most interesting
of Franklin's letters to his mother. They had concluded, he said, to sell
at the first good opportunity a negro slave and his wife, who appear to
have been guilty of some thievery, "for we do not like Negro Servants," he
declared. For the sake of human consistency, it is to be hoped that the
pair were sold long before he became the President of the Pennsylvania
Society for the Abolition of Slavery, and assailed the African slave trade
with such telling raillery. But, to sell all one's own negroes, and then to
enter upon a perfervid course of agitation for the enfranchisement of one's
neighbor's negroes, without compensation, was a thing of not uncommon
occurrence in American history, so long as the institution of slavery
lasted. Will (William Franklin), he tells Abiah, had acquired a habit of
idleness on the expedition against Canada, but had begun of late to apply
himself to business, and he hoped would become an industrious man. "He
imagin'd his Father," said Franklin, "had got enough for him, but I have
assured him that I intend to spend what little I have myself, if it please
God that I live long enough; and, as he by no means wants Sense, he can see
by my going on, that I am like to be as good as my Word."

     Sally [he says] grows a fine Girl, and is extremely
     industrious with her Needle, and delights in her Book.
     She is of a most affectionate Temper, and perfectly
     dutiful and obliging to her Parents, and to all.
     Perhaps I flatter myself too much, but I have Hopes
     that she will prove an ingenious, sensible, notable,
     and worthy Woman, like her Aunt Jenny. She goes now to
     the Dancing-School.

After Franklin decamped from Boston as a boy, he rarely again saw his
parents, but, down to the days of their respective deaths, he kept in touch
with them immediately, through his own correspondence with them, and also
mediately through his correspondence with his sister Jane. "You have
mentioned nothing in your letter of our dear parents," he observes in one
of his letters to her. "Dear Sister, I love you tenderly for your care of
our father in his sickness," he writes to her on another occasion. And,
finally, when Abiah, "home had gone and ta'en her wages," he sent these
feeling words to this same sister and her husband:

     Dear Brother and Sister, I received yours with the
     affecting news of our dear good mother's death. I thank
     you for your long continued care of her in her old age
     and sickness. Our distance made it impracticable for us
     to attend her, but you have supplied all. She has lived
     a good life, as well as a long one, and is happy.

Josiah left an estate valued at twenty-four hundred dollars. Some years
after his death, when Franklin happened to be in Boston, an old man
produced a bond, executed by the father for about fifteen or seventeen
pounds, and asked the son to pay it. This Franklin declined to do, taking
the position that, as he had never received any share of his father's
estate, he did not think himself obliged to pay any of the debts due by it.
Another reason, as he afterwards stated in a letter to his sister Jane, in
which the incident was mentioned, was that he considered the matter one
rather for the attention of his brother John, the administrator of his
father, than himself. But, in this same letter, nevertheless, he sent these
instructions to Jane: "If you know that Person, I wish you would now, out
of Hall's Money (a sum that was to be collected for him and to be given to
her) pay that Debt; for I remember his Mildness on the Occasion with some
Regard." A soft answer, we know, tends to turn away wrath, but it is not
often, we imagine, that mildness proves such an effective policy for the
collection of a stale debt.

"Dear kindred blood! How I do love you all!" the exclamation of Daniel
Webster, might as well have issued from the great, loving heart of
Franklin. Like the brethren of Joseph, the son of Jacob, pretty much all of
his contemporary relations came to share in one way or another in the good
fortune of the only prosperous member of the family. Franklin was too young
to have ever met the two brothers of his father, who lived and died in
England--John, the Banbury dyer, with whom Franklin's paternal
grandfather, Thomas resided in his old age, and with whom Franklin's father
served an apprenticeship, and Thomas, the Ecton forerunner of Franklin
himself, whom we have already mentioned. But his paternal uncle, Benjamin,
who followed Franklin's father to New England, and lived in the same house
with him for some years, Franklin did know, and brings before us quite
clearly in the _Autobiography_. He was bred a silk dyer in England, was an
ingenious and very pious man, we are assured by his nephew, and died at a
great age. It was to the warm affection that existed between this uncle,
whose grandson, Samuel Franklin, was one of Franklin's correspondents, and
Franklin's father that Franklin owed his Christian name. Besides being a
dyer, a great attender of sermons of the best preachers, "which he took
down in his shorthand," he was, the _Autobiography_ states, a poet, and
"also much of a politician; too much, perhaps, for his station."

In his agreeable life of Franklin, Parton has this to say of the uncle's
poetry books.

     The poetry books of Uncle Benjamin, which are still in
     perfect preservation, though it is a hundred and eighty
     years since he bought the first of them, are neatly
     written and carefully indexed. Many of the pieces are
     acrostics, and several are curiously shaped on the
     page-dwindling or expanding in various forms, according
     to the quaint fancy of the poet.

No true poet, of course, ever had the patience to index his poems, and the
best that can be said of the uncle as a poet is that, though he did not
reach even the lowest slopes of Parnassus, he attained a point distinctly
nearer to its base than the nephew ever did. Every family event seems to
have been a peg for him to hang a verse upon, and among his lines are these
sent across the Atlantic in return for something from the pen of his
nephew who was at that time about seven years of age:

    "'Tis time for me to throw aside my pen,
    When hanging sleeves read, write, and rhyme like men,
    This forward spring foretells a plenteous crop;
    For, if the bud bear grain, what will the top!
    If plenty in the verdant blade appear,
    What may we not soon hope for in the ear!
    When flowers are beautiful before they're blown,
    What rarities will afterward be shown."

The uncle was living in New England when Josiah, Franklin's brother, who
had run away to sea, and who had not been heard from for nine years, turned
up again in Boston. That was a domestic event of entirely too much
importance to be unsung by an uncle at once pious and poetical. So, after
some vigorous references to the Deity, who

    "Stills the storm and does Asswage
      Proud Dreadfull seas Death-Threatning Rage,"

the honest poet breaks out into this invocation in which he had every right
to believe that the long-lost Josiah would heartily join:

    "O Let men praise this mighty Lord,
    And all his Wondrous Works Record;
    Let all the Sons of men, before
    Whose Eyes those Works are Done, Adore."

But his rhymes appear to have fallen upon an ear deaf to the appeals of
both piety and poetry, for one of the poet's poetry books contains this
resentful entry:

"The Third part of the 107 psalm, Which Follows Next, I composed to sing at
First meeting with my Nephew Josiah Franklin, But being unaffected with
Gods Great Goodn's: In his many preservations and Deliverances, It was
coldly Entertain'd."

The extent to which his uncle Benjamin had been a politician in England was
brought home to Franklin by a curious incident when he was in London. A
second-hand book dealer, who knew nothing of the relationship between the
two, offered to sell him a collection of pamphlets, bound in eight volumes
folio, and twenty-four volumes, quarto and octavo, and containing all the
principal pamphlets and papers on political topics, printed in England from
the Restoration down to the year 1715. On examining them, Franklin was
satisfied from the handwriting of the tables of contents, memoranda of
prices and marginal notes in them, as well as from other circumstances,
that his Uncle Benjamin was the collector, and he bought them. In all
probability, they had been sold by the uncle, when he emigrated from
England to New England more than fifty years before.

The _Autobiography_ does not mention the fact that Franklin had at least
one aunt on the paternal side, but he had. In a letter in the year 1767 to
Samuel Franklin, the grandson of his Uncle Benjamin, after stating that
there were at that time but two of their relations bearing the name of
Franklin living in England, namely, Thomas Franklin, of Lutterworth, in
Leicestershire, a dyer, and his daughter, Sally, Franklin asserts that
there were besides still living in England Eleanor Morris, an old maiden
lady, the daughter of Hannah, the sister of Franklin's father, and Hannah
Walker, the granddaughter of John, the brother of Franklin's father, and
her three sons. No Arab was ever made happier by the reception of a guest
than was Franklin by the discovery of a new Franklin. In 1781, when a lady
at Königsberg, who was the granddaughter of a John Franklin, communicated
to him certain facts about her family history, he replied in terms that
left her no footing for a claim of relationship, but added affably, "It
would be a Pleasure to me to Discover a Relation in Europe, possessing the
amiable Sentiments express'd in your Letter. I assure you I should not
disown the meanest." One of the statements of this letter was that he had
exact accounts of every person of his family since the year 1555, when it
was established in England. Such a thing as sensitiveness to his humble
origin or the social obscurity of his kinsfolk could find no lodgment in a
mind so capacious, a heart so kind, or a nature so full of manly
self-respect as his. To say nothing more, he was too much of a philosopher
not to realize how close even the high-born nobleman, when detached from
privilege and social superstition, is to the forked radish, to which
elemental man has been likened. It is true that he once wrote to his sister
Jane that he would not have her son Peter put the Franklin arms on soap of
his making, and this has been cited as evidence that even Franklin had his
petty modicum of social pride. The imputation overlooks the reason that he
gave, namely, that to use the Franklin coat of arms for such a purpose
would look too much like an attempt to counterfeit the soap formerly made
by Peter's uncle John. It was Franklin's true pride of character that
disarmed the social arrogance which might otherwise have rendered him less
triumphantly successful than he was in winning his way into the favor of
the most accomplished men, and the most beautiful and elegant women, in

With regard to his generous conduct to his brother James we have already
spoken. Of Jemmy, James' son, who became Franklin's apprentice at James'
request, we have a view in a letter from Franklin to his sister Jane in
which he uses Jemmy as an illustration of how unreasonably her son Benny,
when Mr. Parker's apprentice, might have complained of the clothes
furnished to him by his master.

     I never knew an apprentice [he said] contented with the
     clothes allowed him by his master, let them be what
     they would. Jemmy Franklin, when with me, was always
     dissatisfied and grumbling. When I was last in Boston,
     his aunt bid him go to a shop and please himself, which
     the gentleman did, and bought a suit of clothes on my
     account dearer by one half than any I ever afforded
     myself, one suit excepted; which I don't mention by way
     of complaint of Jemmy, for he and I are good friends,
     but only to show you the nature of boys.

What a good friend he proved to Jemmy, when the latter became his own
master, we have seen. The _erratum_ of which Franklin was guilty in his
relations to his brother James was fully corrected long before he left a
will behind him conferring upon James' descendants the same measure of his
remembrance as that conferred by him upon the descendants of his brother
Samuel and his sisters.

Four of Franklin's brothers died young, and Josiah, his sea faring brother,
perished at sea not long after he excited the dudgeon of his uncle Benjamin
by his indifference to his uncle's line of thanksgiving.

As long as Franklin's brothers John and Peter were engaged, as their father
had been, in the business of making soap and candles, Franklin assisted
them by obtaining consignments of their wares from them, and advertising
these wares in his newspaper, and selling them in his shop. Later, when he
became Deputy Postmaster-General of the Colonies, he made John postmaster
at Boston and Peter postmaster at Philadelphia. Referring to a visit that
he paid to John at Newport, Franklin says in the _Autobiography_, "He
received me very affectionately, for he always lov'd me." When John died in
1756 at the age of sixty-five, some years after his brother Benjamin had
thoughtfully devised a special catheter for his use, the latter wrote to
his sister Jane, "I condole with you on the loss of our dear brother. As
our number grows less, let us love one another proportionably more."
John's widow he made postmistress at Boston in her husband's place.

Peter Franklin died in 1766 in the seventy-fourth year of his age. As soon
as the news of Peter's death reached Franklin in London, he wrote a most
feeling letter to Peter's widow, Mary.

     It has pleased God at length [he said] to take from us
     my only remaining Brother, and your affectionate
     Husband, with whom you have lived in uninterrupted
     Harmony and Love near half a Century.

     Considering the many Dangers & Hardships his Way of
     Life led him into, and the Weakness of his
     Constitution, it is wonderful that he lasted so long.
     It was God's Goodness that spared him to us. Let us,
     instead of repining at what we have lost, be thankful
     for what we have enjoyed.

He then proceeds, in order to allay the widow's fears as to her future, to
tell her that he proposes to set up a printing house for her adopted son to
be carried on in partnership with her, and to further encourage this son if
he managed well.[26]

Of Franklin's brother Samuel, we know but little.

Franklin's oldest sister, Elizabeth Dowse, the wife of Captain Dowse, lived
to a very great age, and fell into a state of extreme poverty. When he was
consulted by her relations in New England as to whether it was not best for
her to give up the house in which she was living, and to sell her personal
effects, he sent a reply full of wise kindness.

     As _having their own way_ is one of the greatest
     comforts of life to old people [he said], I think their
     friends should endeavour to accommodate them in that,
     as well as in anything else. When they have long lived
     in a house, it becomes natural to them; they are almost
     as closely connected with it, as the tortoise with his
     shell; they die, if you tear them out of it; old folks
     and old trees, if you remove them, it is ten to one
     that you kill them; so let our good old sister be no
     more importuned on that head. We are growing old fast
     ourselves, and shall expect the same kind of
     indulgences; if we give them, we shall have a right to
     receive them in our turn.

     And as to her few fine things, I think she is in the
     right not to sell them, and for the reason she gives,
     that they will fetch but little; and when that little
     is spent, they would be of no further use to her; but
     perhaps the expectation of possessing them at her death
     may make that person tender and careful of her, and
     helpful to her to the amount of ten times their value.
     If so, they are put to the best use they possibly can

     I hope you visit sister as often as your affairs will
     permit, and afford her what assistance and comfort you
     can in her present situation. _Old age_, _infirmities_,
     and _poverty_, joined, are afflictions enough. The
     _neglect_ and _slights_ of friends and near relations
     should never be added. People in her circumstances are
     apt to suspect this sometimes without cause;
     _appearances_ should therefore be attended to, in our
     conduct towards them, as well as _realities_.

And then follows the sentence which indicates that, apart from the value,
which belonged to his advice on any practical point, there was good reason
why his views about sister Dowse's house and finery should be entitled to
peculiar respect. "I write by this post to cousin Williams," he said, "to
continue his care, which I doubt not he will do."

This letter was addressed to his sister Jane. In another to her, written a
few weeks later, he said, "I am glad you have resolved to visit sister
Dowse oftener; it will be a great comfort to her to find she is not
neglected by you, and your example may, perhaps, be followed by some
others of her relations." In the succeeding year, when he was settled in
England, he writes to his sister Jane, "My wife will let you see my letter,
containing an account of our travels, which I would have you read to sister
Dowse, and give my love to her."

Another sister of Franklin, Mary, married Captain Robert Holmes. He was the
master of a sloop that plied between Boston and the Delaware, and, when he
heard at New Castle that his run-a-way brother-in-law was living in
Philadelphia, he wrote to him begging him to return to Boston, and received
from him a reply, composed with so much literary skill that Governor Keith
of Pennsylvania, when the letter was shown to him by Holmes, declared that
the writer appeared to be a young man of promising parts, and should be
encouraged. Mrs. Holmes died of cancer of the breast, which is responsible
for the only occasion perhaps on which Franklin was ever known to incline
his ear to the virtues of a nostrum.

     We have here in town [he wrote to his sister Jane] a
     kind of shell made of some wood, cut at a proper time,
     by some man of great skill (as they say), which has
     done wonders in that disease among us, being worn for
     some time on the breast. I am not apt to be
     superstitiously fond of believing such things, but the
     instances are so well attested, as sufficiently to
     convince the most incredulous.

Another sister of Franklin, Lydia, married Robert Scott, but our
information about her is very meagre.

This is also true of Anne Harris, still another sister of his. We do know,
however, that some of her family wandered away to London before Franklin
left America on his mission to France, and that one of them took pains to
apprise him of her urgent wants after he arrived there. She was, she said,
"Obliged to Worke very hard and Can But just git the common necessarys of
life," and therefore had "thoughts of going into a family as housekeeper
... having lived in that station for several years and gave grate
satisfaction." With a curious disregard to existing conditions, quite
unworthy of her connection with her illustrious relative, she even asked
him to aid her in securing the promotion of her son in the British Navy.

A daughter of this sister, Grace Harris, married Jonathan Williams, a
Boston merchant engaged in the West India trade, who enjoyed the honor of
acting as the moderator of the meetings held at Faneuil Hall in 1773 for
the purpose of preventing the landing of the odious tea. She must have been
an elated mother when she received from her uncle in 1771 a letter in which
he spoke of her two sons in these terms:

     They are, I assure you, exceeding welcome to me; and
     they behave with so much Prudence, that no two young
     Men could possibly less need the Advice you would have
     me give them. Josiah is very happily employ'd in his
     Musical Pursuits. And as you hinted to me, that it
     would be agreeable to you, if I employ'd Johnathan in
     Writing, I requested him to put my Accounts in Order,
     which had been much neglected. He undertook it with the
     utmost chearfulness and Readiness, and executed it with
     the greatest Diligence, making me a compleat new Set of
     Books, fairly written out and settled in a Mercantile
     Manner, which is a great Satisfaction to me, and a very
     considerable service. I mention this, that you may not
     be in the least Uneasy from an Apprehension of their
     Visit being burthensome to me; it being, I assure you,
     quite the contrary.

     It has been wonderful to me to see a young Man from
     America, in a Place so full of various Amusements as
     London is, as attentive to Business, as diligent in it,
     and keeping as close at home till it was finished, as
     if it had been for his own Profit; and as if he had
     been at the Public Diversions so often, as to be tired
     of them.

     I pray God to keep and preserve you and yours, and give
     you again, in due time, a happy Sight of these valuable

The same favorable opinion of these two grandnephews found expression in a
letter from Franklin to his sister Jane. Josiah, he said, had attained his
heart's desire in being under the tuition of Mr. Stanley (the musical
composer), who, though he had long left off teaching, kindly undertook, at
Franklin's request, to instruct him, and was much pleased with his
quickness of apprehension, and the progress he was making, and Jonathan
appeared a very valuable young man, sober, regular and inclined to industry
and frugality, which were promising signs of success in business. "I am
very happy in their Company," the letter further stated.

With the help of Franklin, Jonathan, one of these two young men, became the
naval agent of the United States at Nantes, when Franklin was in France.
Later, he was charged by Arthur Lee with improperly retaining in his hands
in this capacity upwards of one hundred thousand livres due to the United
States, and Franklin insisted that Arthur Lee should make good his charge.

     I have no desire to screen Mr. Williams on acct of
     his being my Nephew [he said] if he is guilty of what
     you charge him with. I care not how soon he is
     deservedly punish'd and the family purg'd of him; for I
     take it that a Rogue living in (a) Family is a greater
     Disgrace to it than one _hang'd out_ of it.

But, when steps were taken by Franklin to have the accounts passed upon by
a body of disinterested referees, Lee haughtily refused to reduce his vague
accusation to a form sufficiently specific to be laid before them. After
John Adams succeeded Silas Deane, Franklin and himself united in executing
an order for the payment to Williams of the balance claimed by him, but
Adams had been brought over to the suspicions of Lee to such an extent that
the order provided that it was not to be understood as an approval of the
accounts, but that Williams was to be responsible to Congress for their
correctness. With such impetuosity did Adams adopt these suspicions that,
in a few days after his arrival at Paris, when he had really had no
opportunity to investigate the matter, he concurred with Lee in ordering
Williams to close his existing accounts and to make no new ones. This, of
course, was equivalent to dismissal from the employment. Franklin, probably
realizing not only the hopelessness of a contest of one against two, but
the unwisdom from a public point of view of feeding the flame of such a
controversy, united with his colleagues in signing the order.[27]

A bequest of books that he made to Williams is one among many other still
more positive proofs that his confidence in his grandnephew was never
impaired, and it is only fair to the memory of Adams to suppose that, if he
ever had any substantial doubts about Williams' integrity, they were
subsequently dispelled, for when President he appointed Williams a major
of artillery in the federal army; an appointment which ultimately resulted
in his being made the first Superintendent of the Military Academy at West
Point. The quarrel, however, did neither Franklin nor the American cause
any good. It gave additional color to the accusation that he was too quick
to billet his relatives upon the public, and had the effect also of
intensifying the dissensions between our representatives in France which
constitute such a painful chapter in the history of the American
Revolution. To make things worse, Jonathan failed in business, before he
left France, and had to obtain a _surséance_ against his creditors through
the application of his granduncle to the Count de Vergennes.

Franklin's sister, Sarah, did not long survive her marriage to Joseph
Davenport. Her death, Franklin wrote to his sister Jane, "was a loss
without doubt regretted by all that knew her, for she was a good woman." It
was at his instance that Davenport removed to Philadelphia, and opened a
bakery where he sold "choice middling bisket," and occasionally "Boston
loaf sugar" and "choice pickled and spiced oisters in cags."

There is a letter from Franklin to Josiah Davenport, the son of Sarah
Davenport, written just after the failure of the latter in business which
shows that, open as the door of the Post Office usually was to members of
the Franklin family, it was sometimes slammed with a bang in the face of a
_mauvais sujet_ of that blood. Franklin advises Josiah not to think of any
place in the Post Office.

     The money you receive [he said] will slip thro' your
     Fingers, and you will run behind hand imperceptibly,
     when your Securities must suffer, or your Employers. I
     grow too old to run such Risques, and therefore wish
     you to propose nothing more of the kind to me. I have
     been hurt too much by endeavouring to help Cousin Ben
     Mecom. I have no Opinion of the Punctuality of Cousins.
     They are apt to take Liberties with Relations they
     would not take with others, from a Confidence that a
     Relation will not sue them. And tho' I believe you now
     resolve and intend well in case of such an Appointment,
     I can have no Dependence that some unexpected
     Misfortune or Difficulty will not embarras your Affairs
     and render you again insolvent. Don't take this unkind.
     It is better to be thus free with you than to give you
     Expectations that cannot be answered.

So Josiah, who was keeping a little shop at the time, like the famous
office-seeker, who is said to have begun by asking Lincoln for an office
and to have ended by asking him for a pair of trousers, had to content
himself with a gift of four dozen of Evans' maps, "which," said Franklin in
his letter, "if you can sell you are welcome to apply the Money towards
Clothing your Boys, or to any other Purpose."

But, of all Franklin's collateral relatives, the one that he loved best was
his sister Jane, the wife of Edward Mecom. She survived her brother four
years, dying at the age of eighty-two, and, from her childhood until his
death, they cherished for each other the most devoted affection. Her
letters show that she was a woman of uncommon force of character and mind,
and the possessor of a heart so overflowing with tenderness that, when she
heard of the birth of Mrs. Bache's seventh child, she even stated to her
brother in her delight that she was so fond of children that she longed to
kiss and play with every clean, healthy one that she saw on the street.
Mrs. Bache, she thought, might yet be the mother of twelve children like
herself, though she did not begin so young.

In a letter written to her by Franklin from Philadelphia just after he
reached his majority, and when she was a fresh girl of fourteen, he reminds
her that she was ever his peculiar favorite. He had heard, he said, that
she was grown a celebrated beauty, and he had almost determined to give her
a tea table, but when he considered that the character of a good housewife
was far preferable to that of being only a pretty gentlewoman he had
concluded to send her a spinning wheel, as a small token of his sincere
love and affection. Then followed this priggish advice:

     Sister, farewell, and remember that modesty, as it
     makes the most homely virgin amiable and charming, so
     the want of it infallibly renders the most perfect
     beauty disagreeable and odious. But, when that
     brightest of female virtues shines among other
     perfections of body and mind in the same person, it
     makes the woman more lovely than an angel.

The spinning wheel was a fit symbol of the narrow, struggling life, which
was to be Jane Mecom's portion, and which would have imposed upon her a
load heavier than she could have borne if her good Philadelphia genius had
not always been by her side, either in person or by his watchful proxy,
Jonathan Williams, the father of his grandnephew of that name, to sustain
her fainting footsteps. Children she had, and to spare, but they were all
striking illustrations of the truth, uttered by the Virginia planter, who
affirmed that it is easier for one parent to take care of thirteen children
than it is for thirteen children to take care of one parent. Nothing could
be more beautiful than the relations between brother and sister; on the one
side a vigilant sympathy and generosity which never lost sight for a moment
of the object of their affectionate and helpful offices; on the other a
grateful idolatry, slightly tinged with the reserve of reverence. Clothes,
flour, firewood, money were among the more direct and material forms
assumed by Franklin's assistance, given not begrudgingly and frugally, but
always with the anxious fear, to no little extent justified by Jane's own
unselfish and self-respecting reticence, that she was not as frank as she
might be in laying before him the real measure of her necessities. "Let me
know if you want any assistance," he was quick to ask her after his return
from England in 1775, signing the letter in which he made the request,
"Your very loving brother." "Your bill is honoured," he writes to her on
another occasion after his return from France to Philadelphia. "It is
impossible for me always to guess what you may want, and I hope, therefore,
that you will never be shy in letting me know wherein I can help to make
your life more comfortable."

     How has my poor old Sister gone thro' the Winter? [he
     inquired of Jonathan Williams, the younger]. Tell me
     frankly whether she lives comfortably, or is pinched?
     For I am afraid she is too cautious of acquainting me
     with all her Difficulties, tho' I am always ready and
     willing to relieve her when I am acquainted with them.

It is manifest that at times he experienced a serious sense of difficulty
in doing for her as much as he was disposed to do, and once, when she had
thanked him with even more than her usual emphasis for a recent
benefaction, he parried her gratitude with one of the humorous stories that
served him for so many different purposes. Her letter of extravagant
thanks, he said, put him in mind of the story of the member of Parliament
who began one of his speeches with saying he thanked God that he was born
and bred a Presbyterian; on which another took leave to observe that the
gentleman must needs be of a most grateful disposition, since he was
thankful for such very small matters. The truth is that her pecuniary
condition was such that gifts, which might have seemed small enough to
others, loomed large to her. Many doubtless were the shifts to which she
had to resort to keep her large family going. When her brother was in
London on his second mission, he received a letter from her asking him for
some fine old linen or cambric dyed with bright colors, such as with all
her own art and the aid of good old Uncle Benjamin's memoranda she had
been unable, she said, to mix herself. With this material, she hoped that
she and her daughter Jenny, who, with a little of her assistance, had taken
to making flowers for the ladies' heads and bosoms with pretty good
acceptance, might get something by it worth their pains, if they lived till
next spring. Her language was manifestly that of a person whose life had
been too pinched to permit her to deal with the future except at very close
range. Of course, her request was complied with. The contrast between her
situation in life and that of her prosperous and distinguished brother is
brought out as clearly as the colors that she vainly sought to emulate in a
letter written by her to Deborah, when she hears the rumor that Franklin
had been made a Baronet and Governor of Pennsylvania. Signing herself,
"Your ladyship's affectionate sister, and obedient humble servant," she

     Dear Sister: For so I must call you, come what will,
     and if I do not express myself proper, you must excuse
     it, seeing I have not been accustomed to pay my
     compliments to Governor and Baronet's ladies. I am in
     the midst of a great wash, and Sarah still sick, and
     would gladly be excused writing this post, but my
     husband says I must write, and give you joy, which we
     heartily join in.

This was in 1758 when Franklin and other good Americans rarely alluded to
England except as "home"; but sixteen years later the feelings of Jane
Mecom about baronetcies and colonial governorships had undergone such a
change--for she was a staunch patriot--that, when it was stated in a Boston
newspaper that it was generally believed that Franklin had been promoted by
the English Government to an office of superior importance, he felt that it
was necessary to write to her as follows:

     But as I am anxious to preserve your good opinion, and
     as I know your sentiments, and that you must be much
     afflicted yourself, and even despise me, if you thought
     me capable of accepting any office from this
     government, while it is acting with so much hostility
     towards my native country, I cannot miss this first
     opportunity of assuring you, that there is not the
     least foundation for such a report.

     You need not [he said on one occasion to Jane] be
     concern'd, in writing to me, about your bad Spelling;
     for, in my Opinion, as our Alphabet now Stands, the bad
     Spelling, or what is call'd so, is generally the best,
     as conforming to the Sound of the Letters and of the
     Words. To give you an Instance: A Gentleman receiving a
     Letter, in which were these Words,--_Not finding Brown
     at hom, I delivard your meseg to his yf_. The Gentleman
     finding it bad Spelling, and therefore not very
     intelligible, called his Lady to help him read it.
     Between them they pick'd out the meaning of all but the
     _yf_, which they could not understand. The lady
     propos'd calling her Chambermaid: for Betty, says she,
     has the best knack at reading bad Spelling of anyone I
     know. Betty came, and was surprised, that neither Sir
     nor Madam could tell what _yf_ was. "Why," says she,
     "_yf_ spells _Wife_; what else can it spell?" And,
     indeed, it is a much better, as well as shorter method
     of spelling _Wife_, than by _doubleyou_, _i_, _ef_,
     _e_, which in reality spells _doubleyifey_.

The affectionate interest felt by Franklin in his sister extended to her
husband and children. Some of his letters were written to Jane and Edward
Mecom jointly, and he evidently entertained a truly fraternal regard for
the latter. The fortunes of the children he endeavored to promote by every
means in his power. Benny Mecom was placed by him as an apprentice with his
partner in the printing business in New York, Mr. Parker, and one of his
most admirable letters is a letter to his sister Jane, already mentioned by
us, in which he comments upon a complaint of ill-treatment at the hands of
Mr. Parker which Benny had made to her. The wise, kindly and yet firm
language in which he answers one by one the heads of Benny's complaint,
which was obviously nothing more than the grumbling of a disaffected boy,
lacks nothing but a subject of graver importance to be among the most
notable of his letters. On the whole, it was too affectionate and indulgent
in tone to have keenly offended even such parental fondness as that which
led Poor Richard to ask, in the words of Gay,

    "Where yet was ever found the mother
    Who'd change her booby for another?"

But occasionally there is a sentence or so in it which makes it quite plain
that Franklin was entirely too wise not to know that the rod has a function
to perform in the management of a boy. Referring to Benny's habit of
staying out at night, sometimes all night, and refusing to give an account
of where he had spent his time or in what company, he said,

     This I had not heard of before though I perceive you
     have. I do not wonder at his correcting him for that.
     If he was my own son I should think his master did not
     do his duty by him if he omitted it, for to be sure it
     is the high road to destruction. And I think the
     correction very light, and not likely to be very
     effectual, if the strokes left no marks.

In the same letter, there is a sly passage which takes us back to the part
of Jacques' homily which speaks of

    "The whining schoolboy with his satchel,
    And shining morning face creeping like snail,
    Unwillingly to school."

     I did not think it anything extraordinary [Franklin
     said] that he should be sometimes willing to evade
     going to meeting, for I believe it is the case with all
     boys, or almost all. I have brought up four or five
     myself, and have frequently observed that if their
     shoes were bad they would say nothing of a new pair
     till Sunday morning, just as the bell rung, when, if
     you asked them why they did not get ready, the answer
     was prepared, "I have no shoes," and so of other
     things, hats and the like; or, if they knew of anything
     that wanted mending, it was a secret till Sunday
     morning, and sometimes I believe they would rather tear
     a little than be without the excuse.

Franklin had dipped deeply into the hearts of boys as well as men.

When Benny became old enough to enter upon business for himself, his uncle
put him in possession of a printing outfit of his own at Antigua with the
understanding that Benny was to pay him one third of the profits of the
business; the proportion which he usually received in such cases.
Apparently there was every promise of success: an established newspaper, no
competing printer, high prices and a printer who, whatever his faults, had
come to be regarded by Mr. Parker as one of his "best hands." But the curse
of Reuben--instability--rested upon Benny. Taking offence at a proposal of
his uncle respecting the distribution of the profits of the business,
really intended to pave the way, when Benny had conquered his "flighty
unsteadiness of temper," to a gift of the whole printing outfit to him, the
nephew insisted that his uncle should name some certain price for the
outfit, and allow him to pay it off in instalments; for, though he had, he
said, a high esteem for his uncle, yet he loved freedom, and his spirit
could not bear dependence on any man, though he were the best man living.
Provoked by a delay in answering this letter, for which one of Franklin's
long journeys was responsible, Benny again wrote to his uncle, stating that
he had formed a fixed resolution to leave Antigua, and that nothing that
could be said to him would move or shake it. Leave Antigua he did, and,
when we next hear of him, it is through a letter from Franklin to Jane in
which he tells her that Benjamin had settled his accounts with him, and
paid the balance due him honorably, and had also made himself the owner of
the printing outfit which had been shipped back from Antigua to

From this time on until Benny slid down into the gulf of insolvency; owing
his uncle some two hundred pounds, and leaving assets that the latter
reckoned would scarce amount to four shillings in the pound, he seems to
have had no success of any sort except that of winning the hand of a girl
for whom Franklin and Deborah had a peculiar partiality. This was after
Benny had returned to Boston and, as a bookseller as well as a printer, had
begun life anew with a loan from his uncle, and with good credit.

When he was "near being married" his uncle wrote to Jane:

     I know nothing of that affair, but what you write me,
     except that I think Miss Betsey a very agreeable,
     sweet-tempered, good girl, who has had a housewifely
     education, and will make, to a good husband, a very
     good wife. Your sister and I have a great esteem for
     her; and, if she will be kind enough to accept of our
     nephew, we think it will be his own fault, if he is not
     as happy as the married state can make him. The family
     is a respectable one, but whether there be any fortune
     I know not; and, as you do not inquire about this
     particular, I suppose you think with me, that where
     everything else desirable is to be met with, that is
     not very material.

What Deborah thought of Miss Betsey may be inferred from a postscript that
she hastily annexed to this letter: "If Benny will promise to be one of the
tenderest husbands in the world, I give my consent. He knows already what I
think of Miss Betsey. I am his loving aunt." In a subsequent letter,
Franklin wrote to Deborah from London that he was glad that "Ben has got
that good girl." Miss Betsey did not prove to be a fortune to her husband,
though she did prove to be such a fruitful wife to him that, when the crash
of bankruptcy came, there were a number of small children to be included in
his schedule of liabilities. Nor is it easy to see how she or any other
woman could prove a fortune to any man of whom such a picture could be
sketched as that which Thomas, the author of the _History of Printing_,
sketches of Benny as he was shortly after his return from Antigua.

     Benjamin Mecom [writes Thomas] was in Boston several
     months before the arrival of his press and types from
     Antigua, and had much leisure. During this interval he
     frequently came to the house where I was an apprentice.
     He was handsomely dressed, wore a powdered bob-wig,
     ruffles, and gloves: gentleman-like appendages, which
     the printers of that day did not assume--and thus
     appareled, he would often assist for an hour at the
     press.... I viewed him at the press with admiration. He
     indeed put on a apron to save his clothes from
     blacking, and guarded his ruffles.... He got the
     nickname of "Queer Notions" among the printers.

The result of it all was that the patience of the uncle was at last
completely worn out. "I can not comprehend," he wrote to Deborah from
London, "how so very sluggish a Creature as Ben. Mecom is grown, can
maintain in Philadelphia so large a Family. I hope they do not hang upon
you: for really as we grow old and must grow more helpless, we shall find
we have nothing to spare."

In a subsequent letter to Williams he spoke of his sister's children as if
they were all thriftless. If such was the case, it was not because of any
lack of interest on his part in them. In a letter, recommending his son
William to Jane's motherly care and advice, he says, "My compliments to my
new niece, Miss Abiah, and pray her to accept the enclosed piece of gold,
to cut her teeth; it may afterwards buy nuts for them to crack." In another
letter to his sister, he expresses pleasure at hearing that her son Peter
is at a place where he has full employ. If Peter should get a habit of
industry at his new place, the exchange, he said pointedly, would be a
happy one. In a later letter to Jane, he declares that he is glad that
Peter is acquainted with the crown-soap business and that he hopes that he
will always take care to make the soap faithfully and never slight the
manufacture, or attempt to deceive by appearances. Then he may boldly put
his name and mark, and, in a little time, it will acquire as good a
character as that made by his uncle (John) or any other person whatever. He
also tells Jane that if Peter will send to Deborah a box of his soap (but
not unless it be right good) she would immediately return the ready money
to him for it. Many years later his letters to his sister show that he was
then aiding her in different ways, and among others by buying soap of her
manufacture from her, and that some cakes of this soap were sent by him as
gifts to friends of his in France. Indeed, he told Jane that she would do
well to instruct her grandson in the art of making that soap. In the same
letter that he wrote to her about Peter and the crown-soap he sent his love
to her son Neddy, and Neddy's wife, and the rest of Jane's children. Neddy,
born like Benny under an unlucky star, had at the time not only a wife but
a disorder which his uncle hoped that he would wear out gradually, as he
was yet a young man. If Eben, another of Jane's sons, would be industrious
and frugal, it was ten to one, his uncle said, that he would get rich; for
he seemed to have spirit and activity. As to Johnny, still another of
Jane's sons, if he ever set up as a goldsmith, he should remember that
there was one accomplishment, without which he could not possibly thrive in
that trade; that was perfect honesty. In the latter part of his life, after
he had been badly hurt by Benny, and had seen so much of his sound counsel
come to nothing, he was slower to give advice to the Mecoms.

     Your Grandson [he wrote to Jane, referring to one of
     her grandsons, who was for a time in his employment at
     Philadelphia] behaves very well, and is constantly
     employ'd in writing for me, and will be so some time
     longer. As to my Reproving and Advising him, which you
     desire, he has not hitherto appeared to need it, which
     is lucky, as I am not fond of giving Advice, having
     seldom seen it taken. An Italian Poet in his Account of
     a Voyage to the Moon, tells us that

    _All things lost on Earth are treasur'd there_.

     on which somebody observ'd, There must then be in the
     Moon a great deal of _Good Advice_.

Among the letters from Franklin to Jonathan Williams, the elder, is one
asking him to lay out for his account the sum of fifty pounds in the
purchase of a marriage present for one of Jane's daughters, who thanks him
for it in terms that fall little short of ecstacy.

But attached as Franklin was to his sister he did not hesitate to reprove
her when reproof was in his judgment necessary. There is such a thing as
not caring enough for a person to reprove him. "It was not kind in you," he
wrote to her on one occasion, "when your sister commended good works, to
suppose she intended it a reproach to you. It was very far from her
thoughts." His language was still more outspoken on another occasion when
Jane wished him to oust a member of the Franklin connection, with whom she
was at odds, from the Post Office to make a place for Benny.

     And now [he said] as to what you propose for Benny, I
     believe he may be, as you say, well enough qualified
     for it; and, when he appears to be settled, if a
     vacancy should happen, it is very probable he may be
     thought of to supply it; but it is a rule with me not
     to remove any officer, that behaves well, keeps regular
     accounts, and pays duly; and I think the rule is
     founded on reason and justice. I have not shown any
     backwardness to assist Benny, where it could be done
     without injuring another. But if my friends require of
     me to gratify not only their inclinations, but their
     resentments, they expect too much of me. Above all
     things I dislike family quarrels, and, when they happen
     among my relations, nothing gives me more pain. If I
     were to set myself up as a judge of those subsisting
     between you and brother's widow and children, how
     unqualified must I be, at this distance, to determine
     rightly, especially having heard but one side. They
     always treated me with friendly and affectionate
     regard; you have done the same. What can I say between
     you, but that I wish you were reconciled, and that I
     will love that side best, that is most ready to forgive
     and oblige the other? You will be angry with me here,
     for putting you and them too much upon a footing; but I
     shall nevertheless be, dear sister, your truly
     affectionate brother.

Nor did he attempt to disguise his real feelings in a letter which he wrote
to Jane near the end of his life in which he told her that her son-in-law,
Collas, who kept a store in Carolina, had wished to buy some goods on
credit at Philadelphia, but could not do it without his recommendation,
which he could not give without making himself pecuniarily liable; and
_that_ he was not inclined to do, having no opinion either of the honesty
and punctuality of the people, with whom Collas proposed to traffic, or of
his skill and acuteness in merchandizing. This he wrote, he declared,
merely to apologize for any seeming unkindness. The unkindness was but
seeming indeed; for the letter also contained these solicitous words:

     You always tell me that you live comfortably; but I
     sometimes suspect that you may be too unwilling to
     acquaint me with any of your Difficulties from an
     Apprehension of giving me Pain. I wish you would let me
     know precisely your Situation, that I may better
     proportion my Assistance to your Wants. Have you any
     Money at Interest, and what does it produce? Or do you
     do some kind of Business for a Living?

Jane seems to have maintained her good humor in the face of every timely
reproof of her brother, and other than timely reproofs, we may be sure,
there were none. Indeed, she worshipped him so devoutly--devotedly is too
feeble an adverb--that there was no need for her at any time in her
relations with him to fall back upon her good nature. A few extracts from
her letters to Franklin will show how deeply the love and gratitude excited
by her brother's ceaseless beneficence sank into her heart.

     I am amazed beyond measure [she wrote to Deborah, when
     she heard of the threatened attack on Franklin's house]
     that your house was threatened in the tumult. I thought
     there had been none among you would proceed to such a
     length to persecute a man merely for being the best of
     characters, and really deserving good from the hand and
     tongue of all his fellow creatures.... What a wretched
     world would this be if the vile of mankind had no laws
     to restrain them.

Additional edge to the indignation, expressed in this letter, was doubtless
given by the fact that the writer had just received from her brother, who
was then in London, a box containing, among other things, "a printed cotton
gown, a quilted coat, a bonnet, a cap, and some ribbons" for herself and
each of her daughters.

It is made manifest by other letters than this that her brother's
benevolence towards her and her family were quite as active when he was
abroad as when he was at home. In 1779, she tells him that, in a letter
from him to her, he, like himself, does all for her that the most
affectionate brother can be desired or expected to do.

     And though [she further said] I feel myself full of
     gratitude for your generosity, the conclusion of your
     letter affects me more, where you say you wish we may
     spend our last days together. O my dear brother, if
     this could be accomplished, it would give me more joy
     than anything on this side Heaven could possibly do. I
     feel the want of a suitable conversation--I have but
     little here. I think I could assume more freedom with
     you now, and convince you of my affection for you. I
     have had time to reflect and see my error in that
     respect. I suffered my diffidence and the awe of your
     superiority to prevent the familiarity I might have
     taken with you, and ought, and (which) your kindness to
     me might have convinced me would be acceptable.

A little later she wrote:

     Your very affectionate and tender care of me all along
     in life excites my warmest gratitude, which I cannot
     even think on without tears. What manifold blessings I
     enjoy beyond many of my worthy acquaintance, who have
     been driven from their home, lost their interest, and
     some have the addition of lost health, and one the
     grievous torment of a cancer, and no kind brother to
     support her, while I am kindly treated by all about me,
     and ample provision made for me when I have occasion.

As heartfelt was another letter written by her while he was still in

     Believe me, my dear brother, your writing to me gives
     me so much pleasure that the great, the very great
     presents you have sent me are but a secondary joy. I
     have been very sick this winter at my daughter's; kept
     my chamber six weeks, but had a sufficiency for my
     supply of everything that could be a comfort to me of
     my own, before I received any intimation of the great
     bounty from your hand, which your letter has conveyed
     to me, for I have not been lavish of what I before
     possessed, knowing sickness and misfortunes might
     happen, and certainly old age; but I shall now be so
     rich that I may indulge in a small degree a propensity
     to help some poor creatures who have not the blessing I
     enjoy. My good fortune came to me altogether to comfort
     me in my weak state; for as I had been so unlucky as
     not to receive the letter you sent me through your son
     Bache's hands, though he informs me he forwarded it
     immediately. His letter with a draft for twenty five
     guineas came to my hand just before yours, which I
     have received, and cannot find expression suitable to
     acknowledge my gratitude how I am by my dear brother
     enabled to live at ease in my old age (after a life of
     care, labor, and anxiety) without which I must have
     been miserable.

Most touching of all are the words which she addressed to her brother
shortly before his death, "Who that know and love you can bear the thought
of surviving you in this gloomy world?" Even after his death, his goodness
continued to shield her from want, for by his will he devised to her
absolutely the house in Unity Street, Boston, in which she lived, and
bequeathed to her an annuity of sixty pounds. By his will, he also
bequeathed to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, living
at the time of his decease, in equal shares, fifty pounds sterling; the
same amount that he bequeathed to the descendants living at that time of
his brother Samuel, his sister Anne Harris, his brother James, his sister
Sarah and his sister Lydia, respectively.

As we have seen, Franklin's feelings about Deborah's relatives were hardly
less cordial than his feelings about his own. In addition to his
mother-in-law, Mrs. Read, and Brother John Read and Sister Read, and Cousin
Debbey, and young cousin Johnny Read, two other kinsmen of Deborah, Joseph
Read and James Read are mentioned in his letters. Indeed, at one time he
even contrived to ward off the Franklins, Mecoms and Davenports from the
Post Office long enough to appoint Joseph to the Postmastership at
Philadelphia; but James was so unfortunate as to rub against one of the
most highly sensitive surfaces of his disposition. In a letter to him,
Franklin says, "Your visits never had but one thing disagreeable in them,
that is, they were always too short"; but, in a later letter, he assails
Read fiercely for surreptitiously obtaining a judgment against Robert
Grace, one of the original members of the Junto, and produces a power of
attorney to himself from William Strahan, authorizing him to recover a
large sum of money that Read owed Strahan. "Fortune's wheel is often
turning," he grimly reminds Read. The whole letter is written with a degree
of asperity that Franklin rarely exhibited except when his sense of
injustice was highly inflamed, and the circumstances, under which Read
secured the judgment, the "little charges," that he had cunningly
accumulated on it, and the cordial affection of Franklin for Grace would
appear to have fully justified Franklin's stern rebuke and exultant
production of Strahan's power of attorney. But everything, it must be
confessed, becomes just a little clearer when we learn from a subsequent
letter of Franklin to Strahan that, before he received Strahan's power of
attorney and account, there had been a misunderstanding between Read and

     occasion'd by his endeavouring to get a small Office
     from me (Clerk to the Assembly) which I took the more
     amiss, as we had always been good Friends, and the
     Office could not have been of much Service to him, the
     Salary being small; but valuable to me, as a means of
     securing the Public Business to our Printing House.

The reader will remember that Franklin reserved the right to make full
reprisals when anyone undertook to dislodge him from a public office.

Nor, as has been apparent enough, was the interest of Franklin limited to
contemporary Franklins. If he had been a descendant of one of the high-bred
Washingtons of Northamptonshire--the shire to which the lineage of George
Washington, as well as his own, ran back--he could not have been more
curious about his descent than he was. "I have ever had pleasure," the
opening sentence of the _Autobiography_ declares, "in obtaining any little
anecdotes of my ancestors." From notes, placed in his hands by his uncle
Benjamin, he learned some interesting particulars about his English
forbears. They had resided in the village of Ecton, in Northamptonshire, on
the great northern turnpike, sixty-six miles from London, for certainly
three hundred years, on a freehold of about thirty acres, and the eldest
son of the family had always been bred to the trade of a blacksmith.[28]
Perhaps as Parton conjectures, some swart Franklin at the ancestral forge
on the little freehold may have tightened a rivet in the armor, or replaced
a shoe upon the horse, of a Washington, or doffed his cap to a Washington
riding past. From the registers, examined by Franklin, when he visited
Ecton, which ended with the year 1755, he discovered that he was the
youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back.

One of his letters to Deborah contained much agreeable information about
his and her English relations, which he collected at this time. After
leaving Cambridge, where his vanity, he said, had been not a little
gratified by the particular regard shown him by the chancellor and the
vice-chancellor of the university and the heads of colleges, he found on
inquiry at Wellingborough that Mary Fisher, the daughter and only child of
Thomas Franklin, his father's eldest brother, was still living. He knew
that she had lived at Wellingborough, and had been married there about
fifty years before to one Richard Fisher, a grazier and tanner, but,
supposing that she and her husband were both dead, he had inquired for
their posterity.

     I was directed [he says] to their house, and we found
     them both alive, but weak with age, very glad however
     to see us. She seems to have been a very smart,
     sensible woman. They are wealthy, have left off
     business, and live comfortably. They have had only one
     child, a daughter, who died, when about thirty years of
     age, unmarried. She gave me several of my uncle
     Benjamin's letters to her, and acquainted me where the
     other remains of the family lived, of which I have,
     since my return to London, found out a daughter of my
     father's only sister, very old, and never married. She
     is a good, clever woman, but poor, though vastly
     contented with her situation, and very cheerful. The
     others are in different parts of the country. I intend
     to visit them, but they were too much out of our tour
     in that journey.

This was in 1758. Mary Fisher had good reason to be weak with age; for this
letter states that she was five years older than Franklin's sister Dowse,
and remembered her going away with Franklin's father and his first wife and
two other children to New England about the year 1685, or some
seventy-three years before Franklin's visit to Wellingborough.

    "Where are the old men?
    I who have seen much,
    Such have I never seen."

Only the truly gray earth, humming, as it revolves on its axis, the
derisive song, heard by the fine ear of Emerson, could ask this question,
unrebuked by such a stretch of human memory as that. The letter then goes
on to say that from Wellingborough the writer passed to Ecton, about three
or four miles away, where Franklin's father was born, and where his father,
grandfather, and great-grandfather had lived, and how many of the family
before them they knew not.

     We went first [Franklin tells us] to see the old house
     and grounds; they came to Mr. Fisher with his wife,
     and, after letting them for some years, finding his
     rent something ill paid, he sold them. The land is now
     added to another farm, and a school kept in the house.
     It is a decayed old stone building, but still known by
     the name of the Franklin House. Thence we went to visit
     the rector of the parish, who lives close by the
     church, a very ancient building. He entertained us very
     kindly, and showed us the old church register, in which
     were the births, marriages, and burials of our
     ancestors for two hundred years, as early as his book
     began. His wife, a good-natured, chatty old lady
     (granddaughter of the famous Archdeacon Palmer, who
     formerly had that parish, and lived there) remembered a
     great deal about the family; carried us out into the
     churchyard, and showed us several of their gravestones,
     which were so covered with moss, that we could not read
     the letters, till she ordered a hard brush and basin of
     water, with which Peter (Franklin's negro servant)
     scoured them clean, and then Billy (William Franklin)
     copied them. She entertained and diverted us highly
     with stories of Thomas Franklin, Mrs. Fisher's father,
     who was a conveyancer, something of a lawyer, clerk of
     the county courts and clerk to the Archdeacon in his
     visitations; a very leading man in all county affairs,
     and much employed in public business. He set on foot a
     subscription for erecting chimes in their steeple, and
     completed it, and we heard them play. He found out an
     easy method of saving their village meadows from being
     drowned, as they used to be sometimes by the river,
     which method is still in being; but, when first
     proposed, nobody could conceive how it could be; "but
     however," they said, "if Franklin says he knows how to
     do it, it will be done." His advice and opinion were
     sought for on all occasions, by all sorts of people,
     and he was looked upon, she said, by some, as something
     of a conjuror. He died just four years before I was
     born, on the same day of the same month.

The likeness between Thomas and his nephew may have been insufficient under
any circumstances to justly suggest the thought of a metempsychosis to
William Franklin, but Thomas does seem to have been a kind of tentative
effort upon the part of Nature to create a Benjamin Franklin.

The letter then states that, after leaving Ecton, the party finally arrived
at Birmingham where they were soon successful in looking up Deborah's and
cousin Wilkinson's and cousin Cash's relations. First, they found one of
the Cashes, and he went with them to Rebecca Flint's where they saw her and
her husband. She was a turner, and he a button-maker; they were childless
and glad to see any person that knew their sister Wilkinson. They told
their visitors what letters they had received from America, and even
assured them--such are the short and simple annals of the poor--that they
had out of respect preserved a keg in which a gift of sturgeon from America
had reached them. Then follow certain details about other members of this
family connection, commonplace enough, however, to reconcile us to the fact
that they have been cut short by the mordant tooth of time which has not
spared the remainder of the letter.

On his second mission to England, Franklin paid another visit to these
Birmingham relations of his wife, and was in that city for several days.
The severest test of a good husband is to ask whether he loves his wife's
relations as much as his own. To even this test Franklin appears to have
been equal.

Sally Franklin, the daughter of Thomas Franklin, of Lutterworth, a second
cousin of Franklin, also flits through the correspondence between Deborah
and her husband. When she was about thirteen years of age, her father
brought her to London to see Franklin, and Mrs. Stevenson persuaded him to
leave the child under her care for a little schooling and improvement,
while Franklin was off on one of his periodical tours.

     When I return'd [the latter wrote to Deborah] I found
     her indeed much improv'd, and grown a fine Girl. She is
     sensible, and of a sweet, obliging Temper, but is now
     ill of a violent Fever, and I doubt we shall lose her,
     which particularly afflicts Mrs. Stevenson, not only as
     she has contracted a great Affection for the Child, but
     as it was she that persuaded her Father to leave her

Sally, however, settled all doubts by getting well and furnishing future
material for Franklin's letters to Deborah. One letter tells Deborah that
Sally's father was very desirous that Franklin should take her to America
with him; another pays the compliment to Sally, who was at the time in the
country with her father, of saying that she is a very good girl; another
thanks Deborah for her kind attitude toward her husband's partially-formed
resolution of bringing Sally over to America with him; another announces
that Sally is again with Mrs. Stevenson; and still another doubtless
relieved Deborah of no little uncertainty of mind by informing her that
Sally was about to be married to a farmer's son. "I shall miss her,"
comments Franklin, "as she is nimble-footed and willing to run of Errands
and wait upon me, and has been very serviceable to me for some Years, so
that I have not kept a Man."

Among Franklin's papers, too, was found at his death a letter from his
father to him, beginning "Loving Son," which also makes some valuable
contributions to our knowledge of Franklin's forefathers.

     As to the original of our name, there is various
     opinions [says Josiah]; some say that it came from a
     sort of title, of which a book that you bought when
     here gives a lively account, some think we are of a
     French extract, which was formerly called Franks; some
     of a free line, a line free from that vassalage which
     was common to subjects in days of old; some from a bird
     of long red legs. Your uncle Benjamin made inquiry of
     one skilled in heraldry, who told him there is two
     coats of armor, one belonging to the Franklins of the
     North, and one to the Franklins of the west. However,
     our circumstances have been such as that it hath hardly
     been worth while to concern ourselves much about these
     things any farther than to tickle the fancy a little.

Josiah then has a word to say about his great-grandfather, the Franklin who
kept his Bible under a joint stool during the reign of Bloody Mary, and his
grandfather. The former, he says, in his travels

     went upon liking to a taylor; but he kept such a stingy
     house, that he left him and travelled farther, and came
     to a smith's house, and coming on a fasting day, being
     in popish times, he did not like there the first day;
     the next morning the servant was called up at five in
     the morning, but after a little time came a good toast
     and good beer, and he found good housekeeping there; he
     served and learned the trade of a smith.

Josiah's grandfather, the letter tells us, was a smith also, and settled in
Ecton, and "was imprisoned a year and a day on suspicion of his being the
author of some poetry that touched the character of some great man." An
ancestry that could boast one sturdy Tubal Cain, ready, though the fires of
Smithfield were brightly burning, to hazard his life for his religious
convictions, and another, with letters and courage enough to lampoon a
great man in England in the sixteenth or the seventeenth century, is an
ancestry that was quite worthy of investigation. It at least tickles the
fancy a little, to use Josiah's phrase, to imagine that the flame of the
Ecton forge lit up, generation after generation, the face of some brawny,
honest toiler, not unlike the village blacksmith, whose rugged figure and
manly, simple-hearted, God-fearing nature are portrayed with so much
dignity and beauty in the well-known verses of Longfellow. Be this as it
may, the humble lot of neither ancestral nor contemporary Franklins was a
source of mortification to Poor Richard even after the popularity of his
_Almanac_ had brought in a pair of shoes, two new shifts, and a new warm
petticoat to his wife, and to him a second-hand coat, so good that he was
no longer ashamed to go to town or be seen there.

"He that has neither fools nor beggars among his kindred, is the son of a
thunder gust," said Poor Richard.


[16] This lady, whose father was Lewis Evans, of Philadelphia, a surveyor
and map-maker, was a god-daughter of Deborah, and, according to a letter
from Franklin to Deborah, dated July 22, 1774, fell little short of being
ubiquitous. He wrote: "She is now again at Tunis, where you will see she
has lately lain in of her third Child. Her Father, you know, was a
geographer, and his daughter has some connection, I think, with the whole
Globe; being born herself in America, and having her first Child in Asia,
her second in Europe, and now her third in Africa."

[17] A readable essay might be written upon the sea-voyages of Franklin.
The sloop, in which he absconded from Boston, in 1723, was favored with a
fair wind, and reached New York in three days. His voyage from Philadelphia
to Boston in 1724 lasted for about a fortnight. The "little vessel," in
which he sailed, he tells us in the _Autobiography_, "struck on a shoal in
going down the bay, and sprung a leak." "We had," Franklin says, "a
blustering time at sea, and were oblig'd to pump almost continually, at
which I took my turn." The cabin accommodations and abundant sea stores
that fell to the lot of Ralph and himself, under circumstances already
mentioned by us, on their voyage from Philadelphia to England in 1724, in
the _London-Hope_, Captain Annis, were rare windfalls; but the voyage was
marked by a great deal of bad weather. The return voyage of Franklin from
London to Philadelphia in 1726, in the _Berkshire_, Captain Clark,
including _obiter_ delays on the south coast of England, consumed the whole
interval between July 21 and Oct. 12. All the incidents of this long voyage
were entered in the Journal kept by him while it was under way, and there
are few writings in which the ordinary features of an ocean passage at that
time are so clearly brought before the reader: the baffling winds, the
paralyzing calms; the meagre fare; the deadly _ennui_; and the moody
sullenness bred by confinement and monotony. The word "helm-a-lee,"
Franklin states, became as disagreeable to their ears as the sentence of a
judge to a convicted malefactor. Once he leapt overboard and swam around
the ship to "wash" himself, and another time he was deterred from "washing"
himself by the appearance of a shark, "that mortal enemy to swimmers." For
a space his ship was in close enough companionship for several days with
another ship for the masters of the two vessels, accompanied by a passenger
in each instance, to exchange visits. On his second voyage, of about thirty
days, to England, in 1757, the packet, in which he was a passenger, easily
outstripped the hostile cruisers by which she was several times chased, but
wore about with straining masts just in time to escape shipwreck on the
Scilly rocks. Of his return to America in 1762, he wrote to Strahan from
Philadelphia: "We had a long Passage near ten Weeks from Portsmouth to this
Place, but it was a pleasant one; for we had ten sail in Company and a Man
of War to protect us; we had pleasant Weather and fair Winds, and
frequently visited and dined from ship to ship." At the end of his third
voyage to England in 1764, Franklin wrote to Deborah from the Isle of Wight
that no father could have been tenderer to a child than Captain Robinson
had been to him. "But we have had terrible Weather, and I have often been
thankful that our dear Sally was not with me. Tell our Friends that din'd
with us on the Turtle that the kind Prayer they then put up for thirty Days
fair Wind for me was favourably heard and answered, we being just 30 Days
from Land to Land." Of his return voyage to America in 1775, he wrote to
Priestley: "I had a passage of six weeks, the weather constantly so
moderate that a London wherry might have accompanied us all the way." His
thirty-day voyage to France in 1776 proved a rough and debilitating one to
him at his advanced age, but Captain Wickes was not only able to keep his
illustrious passenger out of the Tower, but to snatch up two English prizes
on his way over. We need say no more than we have already incidentally said
in our text of the seven weeks that Franklin gave up to his pen and
thermometer on his return voyage to America in 1785. After the passage, he
wrote to Mrs. Hewson that it had been a pleasant and not a long one in
which there was but one day, a day of violent storm, on which he was glad
that she was not with them.

[18] A copious note on the leading portraits of Franklin will be found in
the _Narrative and Critical History of America_, edited by Justin Winsor,
vol. vii., p. 37. The best of them resemble each other closely enough to
make us feel satisfied that we should recognize him at once, were it
possible for us to meet him in life on the street.

[19] Franklin was frequently the recipient of one of the most delightful of
all forms of social attention, an invitation to a country house in the
British Islands. On Oct. 5, 1768, he writes to Deborah that he has lately
been in the country to spend a few days at friends' houses, and to breathe
a little fresh air. On Jan. 28, 1772, after spending some seven weeks in
Ireland and some four weeks in Scotland, he tells the same correspondent
that he has received abundance of civilities from the gentry of both these

[20] Speaking of a portrait of Sally in a letter to Deborah from London in
1758, Franklin says: "I fancy I see more Likeness in her Picture than I did
at first, and I look at it often with Pleasure, as at least it reminds me
of her."

[21] The only blot upon the useful labors of Jared Sparks, as the editor of
Franklin's productions, is the liberties that he took with their wording.
Sometimes his alterations were the offspring of good feeling, sometimes of
ordinary puristic scruples, and occasionally of the sickly prudery which
led our American grandfathers and grandmothers to speak of the leg of a
turkey as its "drum-stick." The word "belly" appears to have been
especially trying to his nice sense of propriety. One result was these
scornful strictures by Albert Henry Smyth in the Introduction to his
edition of Franklin's writings: "He is nice in his use of moral epithets;
he will not offend one stomach with his choice of words. Franklin speaks of
the Scots 'who entered England and _trampled on its belly_ as far as
Derby,'--'marched on,' says Sparks. Franklin is sending some household
articles from London to Philadelphia. In the large packing case is 'a jug
for beer.' It has, he says, 'the coffee cups in its belly.' Sparks performs
the same abdominal operation here."

[22] The maladies to which Franklin was subject, and the spells of illness
that he experienced, like everything else relating to him, have been
described in detail by at least one of his enthusiastic latter-day
biographers. We are content, however, to be classed among those biographers
in whose eyes no amount of genius can hallow an ague or glorify a cutaneous

[23] "I must mention to you," Sally said in a letter to her father, dated
Oct. 30, 1773, "that I am no longer housekeeper; it gave my dear mama so
much uneasiness, and the money was given to me in a manner which made it
impossible to save anything by laying in things beforehand, so that my
housekeeping answered no good purpose, and I have the more readily given it
up, though I think it my duty, and would willingly take the care and
trouble off of her, could I possibly please and make her happy."

[24] The entire conduct of Franklin towards his son after the dismissal of
the father from office by the British Government seems to have been
thoroughly considerate and decorous. His wish that William Franklin would
resign his office as Governor of New Jersey, which he could not hold
without pecuniary loss to his father, and without apparent insensibility to
the indignity to which his father had been subjected, was delicately
intimated only. Even after William Franklin became a prisoner in
Connecticut in consequence of his disloyalty to the American cause,
Franklin, while giving Temple some very good practical reasons why he could
not consent that he should be the bearer of a letter from Mrs. William
Franklin to her husband, takes care to tell Temple that he does not blame
his desire of seeing a father that he had so much reason to love. At this
time he also relieved with a gift of money the immediate necessities of
Mrs. William Franklin. The temper of his letters to Temple, when Temple
went over to England from France, at his instance, to pay his duty to
William Franklin, was that of settled reconciliation with his son. "Give my
Love to your Father," is a message in one of these letters. When he touched
at Southampton on his return from his French mission, William Franklin,
among others, was there to greet him. In the succeeding year we find
Franklin asking Andrew Strahan to send him a volume and to present his
account for it to his son. But on one occasion during the last twelve
months of his life, he speaks of William no longer as "my son" but as
"William Franklin." On the whole, it would appear that it was not so much
the original defection of the son from the American cause as the fact that
he kept aloof from the father, after the return of the father from France,
which was responsible for the asperity with which the latter refers in his
will to the political course of William Franklin during the Revolution.

[25] Altogether Peter Folger must have been a man of sterling sense and
character. He was one of the five Commissioners appointed to survey and
measure the land on the Island of Nantucket, and in the order of
appointment the following provision was inserted: "Whatsoever shall be done
by them, or any three of them, _Peter Folger being one_, shall be accounted
legal and valid."

[26] That Peter Franklin had some of the ability of his famous brother we
may infer from a long letter written to him by Franklin in which the
latter, after acknowledging the receipt of a ballad by Peter, descants upon
the superiority of the old, simple ditties over modern songs in lively and
searching terms which he would hardly have wasted on a man of ordinary

[27] The first letter from the Commissioners to Jonathan Williams, dated
Apr. 13, 1778, simply asked him to abstain from any further purchases as
naval agent, and to close his accounts for the present. It was not until
May 25, 1778, that a letter was addressed to him by the Commissioners
expressly revoking his authority as naval agent on the ground that Congress
had authorized William Lee to superintend the commercial affairs of America
in general, and he had appointed M. Schweighauser, a German merchant, as
the person to look after all the maritime and commercial interests of
America in the Nantes district. In signing the letter, Franklin took care
to see that this clause was inserted: "It is not from any prejudice to you,
Mr. Williams, for whom we have a great respect and esteem, but merely from
a desire to save the public money, to prevent the clashing of claims and
interests, and to avoid confusion and delays, that we have taken this
step." The result was that, instead of the uniform commission of two per
cent., charged by Williams for transacting the business of the naval
agency, Schweighauser, whose clerk was Ludlow Lee, a nephew of Arthur Lee,
charged as much as five per cent. on the simple delivery of tobacco to the
farmers-general. Later Williams, who was an expert accountant, was restored
to the position which he had really filled with blameless integrity and
efficiency. After his return to America, his career was an eminent one. He
is termed by General George W. Cullum in his work on the campaigns and
engineers of the War of 1812-15 the father of the Engineer Service of the
United States. In the same work, General Cullum also speaks of his "noble

[28] In sending a MS. to Edward Everett, which he placed in the library of
the Massachusetts Historical Society, Thomas Carlyle said: "The poor
manuscript is an old Tithes-Book of the parish of Ecton, in
Northamptonshire, from about 1640 to 1700, and contains, I perceive,
various scattered faint indications of the civil war time, which are not
without interest; but the thing which should raise it above all tithe-books
yet heard of is, that it contains actual notices, in that fashion, of the
ancestors of Benjamin Franklin--blacksmiths in that parish! Here they
are--their forge-hammers yet going--renting so many 'yard lands' of
Northamptonshire Church-soil--keeping so many sheep, etc., etc.,--little
conscious that one of the demi-gods was about to proceed out of them."


Franklin's American Friends

The friends mentioned in the correspondence between Franklin and Deborah
were only some of the many friends with whom Franklin was blessed during
the course of his life. He had the same faculty for inspiring friendship
that a fine woman has for inspiring love. In reading his general
correspondence, few things arrest our attention more sharply than the
number of affectionate and admiring intimates, whose lives were in one way
or another interwoven with his own, and, over and over again, in reading
this correspondence, our attention is unexpectedly drawn for a moment to
some cherished friend of his, of whom there is scarcely a hint elsewhere in
his writings.

It was from real considerations of practical convenience that he sometimes
avoided the serious task of enumerating all the friends, to whom he wished
to be remembered, by sending his love to "all Philadelphia" or "all

A dozen of his friends, as we have stated, accompanied him as far as
Trenton, when he was on his way to New York to embark upon his first
mission abroad in 1757. A cavalcade of three hundred of them accompanied
him for sixteen miles to his ship, when he was on his way down the Delaware
on his second mission abroad in 1764.

     Remember me affectionately to all our good Friends who
     contributed by their Kindness to make my Voyage
     comfortable [he wrote to Deborah a little later from
     London]. To Mr. Roberts, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs.
     Smith, Mrs. Potts, Mrs. Shewell; Messrs.
     Whartons, Capt. Falkner, Brothers & Sisters Reads &
     Franklins, Cousin Davenport, and everybody.

When he returned from England in 1762, he was able to write to Strahan with
a flush of pardonable exultation that he had had the happiness to find that
Dr. Smith's reports of the diminutions of his friends were all false. "My
house," he said, "has been full of a succession of them from morning to
night, ever since my arrival, congratulating me on my return with the
utmost cordiality and affection." And, several years later, when the news
reached Philadelphia that he was again safely in England, the bells rang
until near midnight, and libations were poured out for his health, success
and every other happiness. "Even your old friend Hugh Roberts," said
Cadwallader Evans, who gave this information to Franklin, "stayed with us
till eleven o'clock, which you know was a little out of his common road,
and gave us many curious anecdotes within the compass of your forty years
acquaintance." This rejoicing, of course, was, to a considerable degree,
the result of political fermentation, and, if we say nothing of other
demonstrations, like the flourish of naked swords, which angered the
Proprietary so deeply, and made Franklin himself feel just a little
foolish, it is only because it is impossible to declare how far these
demonstrations were the tributes of personal friendship rather than of
public gratitude. In a letter to Doctor Samuel Johnson, of Connecticut,
Franklin tells him that he will shortly print proposals for publishing the
Doctor's pieces by subscription, and disperse them among his friends "along
the continent." This meant much to an author, coming as it did from a man,
of whom it might perhaps be said that he could have travelled all the way
from Boston to Virginia without ever being at a loss for the hospitable
roof of a friend to shelter him at night.

Nowhere outside of Pennsylvania did Franklin have warmer friends than in
New England, the land of his birth. He fled from Boston in 1723, and
returned to it on a brief visit in 1724. Aside from other occasional
returns, he afterwards revisited it at regular intervals of ten years in
1733, 1743, 1753 and 1763. Many pleasant hours were spent by him among his
wayside friends in New England on those postal and other journeys which
took him within her borders.

     I left New England slowly, and with great reluctance
     [he wrote to his friend Catherine Ray, afterwards
     Greene, at Block Island in 1755]. Short day's journeys,
     and loitering visits on the road, for three or four
     weeks, manifested my unwillingness to quit a country,
     in which I drew my first breath, spent my earliest and
     most pleasant days, and had now received so many fresh
     marks of the people's goodness and benevolence, in the
     kind and affectionate treatment I had everywhere met
     with. I almost forgot I had a _home_, till I was more
     than half way towards it, till I had, one by one,
     parted with all my New England friends, and was got
     into the western borders of Connecticut, among mere
     strangers. Then, like an old man, who, having buried
     all he loved in this world, begins to think of heaven,
     I began to think of and wish for home.

The only drawback to the pleasure of his New England journeys was the vile
roads of the time. In a letter to John Foxcroft, in the year 1773, in which
he refers to a fall which Foxcroft had experienced, he says, "I have had
three of those Squelchers in different Journeys, and never desire a
fourth." Two of these squelchers, we know, befell him on the rough roads of
New England, in the year 1763; for, in a letter from Boston to his friend
Mrs. Catherine Greene (formerly Ray), of that year, he writes to her that
he is almost ashamed to say that he has had another fall, and put his
shoulder out. "Do you think, after this," he added, "that even your kindest
invitations and Mr. Greene's can prevail with me to venture myself again on
such roads?" In August of the same year, Franklin informed Strahan that he
had already travelled eleven hundred and forty miles on the American
Continent since April, and that he would make six hundred and forty more
before he saw home. To this and other postal tours of inspection he owed in
part those friends "along the continent," to whom he proposed to appeal in
Dr. Johnson's behalf, as well as that unrivalled familiarity with American
colonial conditions, which stands out in such clear relief in his works. On
one occasion, the accidents by flood and field, to which he was exposed on
his American journeys, during the colonial era, resulted in a tie, which,
while not the tie of friendship, proved to his cost to be even more lasting
than that tie sometimes is. When he was about forty-three years of age, a
canoe, in which he was a passenger, was upset near Staten Island, while he
was endeavoring to board a stage-boat bound for New York. He was in no
danger, as he said to a friend forty years afterwards when recalling the
incident, for, besides being near the shore, he could swim like a duck or a
Bermudian. But, unfortunately for him, there was a Jew on the stage-boat
who chose to believe that he had saved Franklin's life by inducing the
stage-boat to stop, and take Franklin in. As far as the latter could learn,
he was not more indebted to the Jew than to the Jew's fellow-passengers for
being plucked from an element which he never wearied of asserting is not
responsible even for bad colds, and, in return for the consideration, that
he had received from the stage-boat, he dined all its passengers to their
general satisfaction, when he reached New York, at "The Tavern"; but the
Jew had no mind to allow the benefaction to sink out of sight for the
number of the benefactors.

     This Hayes [Franklin wrote to the friend, who had
     forwarded to him a letter from Hayes' widow] never saw
     me afterwards, at New York, or Brunswick, or Phila'da
     that he did not dun me for Money on the Pretence of his
     being poor, and having been so happy as to be
     Instrumental in saving my Life, which was really in no
     Danger. In this way he got of me some times a double
     Joannes, sometimes a Spanish Doubloon, and never less;
     how much in the whole I do not know, having kept no
     Account of it; but it must have been a very
     considerable Sum; and he never incurr'd any Risque, nor
     was at any Trouble in my Behalf, I have long since
     thought him well paid for any little expence of
     Humanity he might have felt on the Occasion. He seems,
     however, to have left me to his Widow as part of her

This was about as far as the kindly nature of Franklin ever went in dealing
with a beggar or a bore.

In New York or New Jersey, he was little less at home than in Pennsylvania
or New England. In a letter to Deborah in 1763, after telling her that he
had been to Elizabeth Town, where he had found their children returned from
the Falls and very well, he says, "The Corporation were to have a Dinner
that day at the Point for their Entertainment, and prevail'd on us to stay.
There was all the principal People & a great many Ladies."

As we shall see, the foundations of his New Jersey friendships were laid
very early. In following him on his journeys through Maryland, we find him
entertained at the country seats of some of the most prominent gentlemen of
the Colony, as for instance at Colonel Tasker's and at Mr. Milligan's. He
was several times in Virginia in the course of his life, and it is an
agreeable thing to a Virginian, who recollects that a Virginian, Arthur
Lee, is to be reckoned among the contentious "bird and beast" people, for
whom Franklin had such a dislike, to recollect also that not only are
Washington and Jefferson to be reckoned among Franklin's loyal and admiring
friends, but that, after Franklin had been a few days in Virginia at Mr.
Hunter's, he expressed his opinion of both the country and its people in
these handsome terms: "Virginia is a pleasant Country, now in full Spring;
the People extreamly obliging and polite." There can be no better
corrective of the petty sectional spirit, which has been such a blemish on
our national history, and has excited so much wholly unfounded and
senseless local prejudice, than to note the appreciation which that open,
clear-sighted eye had for all that was best in every part of the American
Colonies. "There are brave Spirits among that People," he said, when he
heard that the Virginia House of Burgesses had appointed its famous
Committee of Correspondence for the purpose of bringing the Colonies
together for their common defense. He was never in the Carolinas or
Georgia, we believe, though he was for a time the Agent in England of
Georgia as well as other Colonies. But he had enough friends in Charleston,
at any rate, when he was on his first mission abroad, to write to his
Charleston correspondent, Dr. Alexander Garden, the eminent botanist from
whom Linnæus borrowed a name for the gardenia, that he purposed, God
willing, to return by way of Carolina, when he promised himself the
pleasure of seeing and conversing with his friends in Charleston. And to
another resident of Charleston, Dr. John Lining, several highly interesting
letters of his on scientific subjects were written. For Henry Laurens, of
South Carolina, his fellow-commissioner for the purpose of negotiating the
treaty of peace with Great Britain, he entertained a warm feeling of esteem
and good will which was fully reciprocated by Laurens. It was a just remark
of Laurens that Franklin knew very well how to manage a cunning man, but
that, when he conversed or treated with a man of candor, there was no man
more candid than himself. For Colonel John Laurens, of South Carolina, the
son of Henry Laurens, the aide to Washington, and the intrepid young
soldier, who perished in one of the last conflicts of the Revolutionary
War, Franklin formed a strong sentiment of affection, when Laurens came to
France, at the instance of Washington, for the purpose of obtaining some
additional aids from the King for the prosecution of the war. In a letter
to him, signed "most affectionately yours," when Laurens was about to
return to America, Franklin inclosed him an order for another hundred louis
with an old man's blessing. "Take my Blessing with it," he said, "and my
Prayers that God may send you safe & well home with your Cargoes. I would
not attempt persuading you to quit the military Line, because I think you
have the Qualities of Mind and Body that promise your doing great service &
acquiring Honour in that Line."[29]

How profound was the mutual respect and affection that Washington and
Franklin entertained for each other, we have seen. It is an inspiring thing
to note how the words of the latter swell, as with the strains of some
heroic measure, when his admiration for the great contemporary, whose
services to "the glorious cause" alone exceeded his, lifts him up from the
lower to the higher levels of our emotional and intellectual nature.

     Should peace arrive after another Campaign or two, and
     afford us a little Leisure [he wrote to Washington from
     Passy, on March 5, 1780], I should be happy to see your
     Excellency in Europe, and to accompany you, if my Age
     and Strength would permit, in visiting some of its
     ancient and most famous Kingdoms. You would, on this
     side of the Sea, enjoy the great Reputation you have
     acquir'd, pure and free from those little Shades that
     the Jealousy and Envy of a Man's Countrymen and
     Cotemporaries are ever endeavouring to cast over living
     Merit. Here you would know, and enjoy, what Posterity
     will say of Washington. For 1000 Leagues have nearly
     the same Effect with 1000 Years. The feeble Voice of
     those grovelling Passions cannot extend so far either
     in Time or Distance. At present I enjoy that Pleasure
     for you, as I frequently hear the old Generals of this
     martial Country (who study the Maps of America, and
     mark upon them all your Operations) speak with sincere
     Approbation and great Applause of your conduct; and
     join in giving you the Character of one of the greatest
     Captains of the Age.

The caprice of future events might well have deprived these words of some
of their rich cadence, but it did not, and, even the voice of cis-Atlantic
jealousy and envy seems to be as impotent in the very presence of
Washington, as at the distance of a thousand leagues away, when we place
beside this letter the words written by Franklin to him a few years later
after the surrender of Cornwallis:

     All the world agree, that no expedition was ever better
     planned or better executed; it has made a great
     addition to the military reputation you had already
     acquired, and brightens the glory that surrounds your
     name, and that must accompany it to our latest
     posterity. No news could possibly make me more happy.
     The infant Hercules has now strangled the two serpents
     (the several armies of Burgoyne and Cornwallis) that
     attacked him in his cradle, and I trust his future
     history will be answerable.[30]

Cordial relations of friendship also existed between Franklin and
Jefferson. In their versatility, their love of science, their speculative
freedom and their faith in the popular intelligence and conscience the two
men had much in common. As members of the committee, that drafted the
Declaration of Independence, as well as in other relations, they were
brought into familiar contact with each other; and to Jefferson we owe
valuable testimony touching matters with respect to which the reputation of
Franklin has been assailed, and also a sheaf of capital stories, that helps
us to a still clearer insight into the personal and social phases of
Franklin's life and character. One of these stories is the famous story of
Abbé Raynal and the Speech of Polly Baker, when she was prosecuted the
fifth time for having a bastard child.

     The Doctor and Silas Deane [Jefferson tells us] were in
     conversation one day at Passy on the numerous errors in
     the Abbé's "_Histoire des deux Indes_" when he happened
     to step in. After the usual salutations, Silas Deane
     said to him, "The Doctor and myself, Abbé, were just
     speaking of the errors of fact into which you have been
     led in your history." "Oh no, Sir," said the Abbé,
     "that is impossible. I took the greatest care not to
     insert a single fact, for which I had not the most
     unquestionable authority." "Why," says Deane, "there is
     the story of Polly Baker, and the eloquent apology you
     have put into her mouth, when brought before a court of
     Massachusetts to suffer punishment under a law which
     you cite, for having had a bastard. I know there never
     was such a law in Massachusetts." "Be assured," said
     the Abbé, "you are mistaken, and that that is a true
     story. I do not immediately recollect indeed the
     particular information on which I quote it; but I am
     certain that I had for it unquestionable authority."
     Doctor Franklin, who had been for some time shaking
     with unrestrained laughter at the Abbé's confidence in
     his authority for that tale, said, "I will tell you,
     Abbé, the origin of that story. When I was a printer
     and editor of a newspaper, we were sometimes slack of
     news, and to amuse our customers I used to fill up our
     vacant columns with anecdotes and fables, and fancies
     of my own, and this of Polly Baker is a story of my
     making, on one of those occasions." The Abbé without
     the least disconcert, exclaimed with a laugh, "Oh, very
     well, Doctor, I had rather relate your stories than
     other men's truths."

Another of Jefferson's stories, is the equally famous one of John Thompson,

     When the Declaration of Independence [he says] was
     under the consideration of Congress, there were two or
     three unlucky expressions in it which gave offence to
     some members. The words "Scotch and other foreign
     auxiliaries" excited the ire of a gentleman or two of
     that country. Severe strictures on the conduct of the
     British King, in negativing our repeated repeals of the
     law which permitted the importation of slaves, were
     disapproved by some Southern gentlemen, whose
     reflections were not yet matured to the full abhorrence
     of that traffic. Although the offensive expressions
     were immediately yielded, these gentlemen continued
     their depredations on other parts of the instrument. I
     was sitting by Doctor Franklin, who perceived that I
     was not insensible to these mutilations. "I have made
     it a rule," said he, "whenever in my power, to avoid
     becoming the draughtsman of papers to be reviewed by a
     public body. I took my lesson from an incident which I
     will relate to you. When I was a journeyman printer,
     one of my companions, an apprentice hatter, having
     served out his time, was about to open shop for
     himself. His first concern was to have a handsome
     signboard, with a proper inscription. He composed it in
     these words, 'John Thompson, _Hatter, makes_ and _sells
     hats_ for ready money,' with a figure of a hat
     subjoined; but he thought he would submit it to his
     friends for their amendments. The first he showed it to
     thought the word '_Hatter_' tautologous, because
     followed by the words 'makes hats' which showed he was
     a hatter. It was struck out. The next observed that the
     word '_makes_' might as well be omitted, because his
     customers would not care who made the hats. If good and
     to their mind, they would buy, by whomsoever made. He
     struck it out. A third said he thought the words '_for
     ready money_' were useless, as it was not the custom of
     the place to sell on credit; everyone who purchased
     expected to pay. They were parted with, and the
     inscription now stood, 'John Thompson sells hats.'
     '_Sells hats!_' says his next friend. 'Why nobody will
     expect you to give them away; what then is the use of
     that word?' It was stricken out, and '_hats_' followed
     it, the rather as there was one painted on the board.
     So the inscription was reduced ultimately to 'John
     Thompson,' with the figure of a hat subjoined."

The next story has the same background, the Continental Congress.

     I was sitting by Doctor Franklin [says Jefferson], and
     observed to him that I thought we should except books
     (from the obligations of the non-importation
     association formed in America to bring England to
     terms); that we ought not to exclude science, even
     coming from an enemy. He thought so too, and I proposed
     the exception, which was agreed to. Soon after it
     occurred that medicine should be excepted, and I
     suggested that also to the Doctor. "As to that," said
     he, "I will tell you a story. When I was in London, in
     such a year, there was a weekly club of physicians, of
     which Sir John Pringle was President, and I was invited
     by my friend Doctor Fothergill to attend when
     convenient. Their rule was to propose a thesis one week
     and discuss it the next. I happened there when the
     question to be considered was whether physicians had,
     on the whole, done most good or harm? The young
     members, particularly, having discussed it very
     learnedly and eloquently till the subject was
     exhausted, one of them observed to Sir John Pringle,
     that although it was not usual for the President to
     take part in a debate, yet they were desirous to know
     his opinion on the question. He said they must first
     tell him whether, under the appellation of physicians,
     they meant to include _old women_, if they did he
     thought they had done more good than harm, otherwise
     more harm than good."

This incident brings back to us, as it doubtless did to Franklin, the
augurs jesting among themselves over religion.[31]

It is to be regretted that many other easy pens besides that of Jefferson
have not preserved for us some of those humorous stories and parables of
which Franklin's memory was such a rich storehouse. Doctor Benjamin Rush,
one of his intimate friends, is said to have entertained the purpose of
publishing his recollections of Franklin's table-talk. The purpose was
never fulfilled, but the scraps of this talk which we find in Dr. Rush's
diary are sufficient to show that, even in regard to medicine, Franklin had
a stock of information and conclusions which were well worth the hearing.

As a member of the Continental Congress, Franklin was brought into close
working intercourse with Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and formed a
sincere sentiment of friendship for him, which was strengthened by the
expedition that they made together to Canada, as two of the three
commissioners appointed by Congress to win the Canadians over to the
American cause. Samuel Chase, another Marylander, was the third
commissioner, and the three were accompanied by John Carroll, the brother
of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, whose character as a Catholic priest, it
was hoped, would promote the success of the mission. On his way back to
Philadelphia, in advance of his fellow-commissioners, Franklin acknowledged
in grateful terms the help that he had received on his return journey from
the friendly assistance and tender care of this good man, who became his
firm friend, and was subsequently made the first Catholic Bishop of America
upon his recommendation. William Carmichael, another Marylander, who was
for a time the secretary of Silas Deane at Paris, was also one of
Franklin's friends. There is a tinge of true affection about his letters to
Carmichael, and the latter, in a letter written in the year 1777, while
stating that Franklin's age in some measure hindered him from taking so
active a part in the drudgery of business as his great zeal and abilities
warranted, remarks, "He is the Master to whom we children in politics all
look up for counsel, and whose name is everywhere a passport to be well
received." When Carmichael was the American Secretary of Legation at
Madrid, Franklin still remembered enough of his Spanish to request the
former to send him the _Gazette_ of Madrid and any new pamphlets that were
curious. "I remember the Maxim you mention of Charles V, _Yo y el Tiempo_,"
he wrote to Carmichael on one occasion, "and have somewhere met with an
Answer to it in this distich,

    'I and time 'gainst any two,
    Chance and I 'gainst Time and you.'

"And I think the Gentlemen you have at present to deal with, would do
wisely to guard a little more against certain Chances." In another letter,
Franklin, referring to his "Essay on Perfumes," dedicated to the Academy of
Brussels, writes to Carmichael, "You do my little Scribblings too much
honour in proposing to print them; but they are at your Disposition, except
the Letter to the Academy which having several English Puns in it, can not
be translated, and besides has too much _grossièreté_ to be borne by the
polite Readers of these Nations."

It was in Pennsylvania and New England, however, so far as America was
concerned, that Franklin formed the intimate friendships which led him so
often to say towards the close of his life, as one old friend after another
dropped through the bridge of Mirzah, that the loss of friends is the tax
imposed upon us by nature for living too long.

The closest friend of his early youth was his Boston friend, John Collins.
The reader has already learnt how soon religious skepticism, drinking and
gambling ate out the core of this friend's character.

With his intensely social nature, Franklin had hardly found employment in
Philadelphia before in his own language he began to have some acquaintance
among the young people of the town, that were lovers of reading, with whom
he spent his evenings very agreeably. His first group of friends in
Philadelphia was formed before he left Pennsylvania for London in 1724. In
his pictorial way--for the _Autobiography_ is engraved with a burin rather
than written with a pen--Franklin brings the figures of this group before
us with admirable distinctness. They were three in number, and all were
lovers of reading. Two of them, Charles Osborne and Joseph Watson, were
clerks to an eminent conveyancer in Philadelphia, Charles Brogden. The
third, James Ralph, who has already been mentioned by us, was clerk to a
merchant. Watson was a pious, sensible young man, of great integrity; the
others were rather more lax in their principles of religion, particularly
Ralph, who, as well as Collins, to quote the precise words of Franklin's
confession, had been unsettled by him, "for which," he adds, "they both
made me suffer."

     Osborne [Franklin continues] was sensible, candid,
     frank; sincere and affectionate to his friends; but, in
     literary matters, too fond of criticising. Ralph was
     ingenious, genteel in his manners, and extremely
     eloquent; I think I never knew a prettier talker. Both
     of them great admirers of poetry, and began to try
     their hands in little pieces. Many pleasant walks we
     four had together on Sundays into the woods, near
     Schuylkill, where we read to one another, and conferr'd
     on what we read.

Ralph had the most fatal of all gifts for a clever man--the gift of writing
poetry tolerably well. Osborne tried to convince him that he had no genius
for it, and advised him to stick to mercantile pursuits. Franklin
conservatively approved the amusing one's self with poetry now and then so
far as to improve one's language, but no farther.

Thus things stood when the friends proposed that each should produce at
their next meeting a poetical version of the 18th Psalm. Ralph composed his
version, showed it to Franklin, who admired it, and, being satisfied that
Osborne's criticisms of his muse were the suggestions of mere envy, asked
Franklin to produce it at the next symposium of the friends as his own.
Franklin, who had a relish for practical jokes throughout his life, fell in
readily with Ralph's stratagem. But we shall let a writer, whose diction is
as incompressible as water, narrate what followed in his own lively way:

     We met; Watson's performance was read; there were some
     beauties in it, but many defects. Osborne's was read;
     it was much better; Ralph did it justice; remarked some
     faults, but applauded the beauties. He himself had
     nothing to produce. I was backward; seemed desirous of
     being excused; had not had sufficient time to correct,
     etc.; but no excuse could be admitted; produce I must.
     It was read and repeated; Watson and Osborne gave up
     the contest, and join'd in applauding it. Ralph only
     made some criticisms, and propos'd some amendments; but
     I defended my text. Osborne was against Ralph, and told
     him he was no better a critic than poet, so he dropt
     the argument. As they two went home together, Osborne
     expressed himself still more strongly in favour of what
     he thought my production; having restrain'd himself
     before, as he said, lest I should think it flattery.
     "But who would have imagin'd," said he, "that Franklin
     had been capable of such a performance, such painting,
     such force, such fire! He has even improv'd the
     original. In his common conversation he seems to have
     no choice of words; he hesitates and blunders; and yet,
     good God! how he writes!" When we next met, Ralph
     discovered the trick we had plaid him, and Osborne was
     a little laught at.

     This transaction fixed Ralph in his resolution of
     becoming a poet. I did all I could to dissuade him from
     it, but he continued scribbling verses till _Pope_
     cured him.[32]

Watson, we are told by Franklin, died in his arms a few years after this
incident, much lamented, being the best of their set. Osborne went to the
West Indies, where he became an eminent lawyer, and made money, but died
young. "He and I," observes Franklin, "had made a serious agreement, that
the one who happen'd first to die should, if possible, make a friendly
visit to the other, and acquaint him how he found things in that separate
state. But he never fulfill'd his promise."

This group of friends was succeeded on Franklin's return from London by the
persons who constituted with him the original members of the Junto: Joseph
Breintnal, "a copyer of deeds for the scriveners," Thos. Godfrey, the
mathematical precisian, for whom Franklin had so little partiality,
Nicholas Scull, "a surveyor, afterwards Surveyor-general, who lov'd books,
and sometimes made a few verses," William Parsons, "bred a shoemaker, but,
loving reading, had acquir'd a considerable share of mathematics, which he
first studied with a view to astrology, that he afterwards laught at,"
William Maugridge, "a joiner, a most exquisite mechanic, and a solid,
sensible man," Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb, journeymen
printers, Robert Grace, "a young gentleman of some fortune, generous,
lively, and witty; a lover of punning and of his friends," and William
Coleman, then a merchant's clerk about Franklin's age, who had the coolest,
clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals, Franklin declares,
of almost any man he ever met with. Coleman subsequently became a merchant
of great note, and a provincial judge; and the friendship between Franklin
and himself continued without interruption until Coleman's death, a period
of more than forty years. Like Scull, Parsons also became Surveyor-General.
The reader will remember how, partly inspired by his affection for Robert
Grace, and partly by resentment over a small office, Franklin applied the
sharp edge of the _lex talionis_ to Jemmy Read. How both Coleman and Grace
came to the aid of Franklin in an hour of dire distress, we shall see

Such letters from Franklin to Parsons, as have survived, bear the marks of
intimate friendship. In one to him, when he was in command of a company at
Easton, dated December 15, 1755, in which reference is made to arms and
supplies, that had been forwarded for the defence of that town against the
Indians, Franklin says, "Be of good Courage, and God guide you. Your
Friends will never desert you." Four of the original members of the Junto
were among the first members of the Philosophical Society, established by
Franklin, Parsons, as Geographer, Thomas Godfrey, as Mathematician, Coleman
as Treasurer, and Franklin himself as Secretary. Parsons died during the
first mission of Franklin to England, and, in a letter to Deborah the
latter comments on the event in these words: "I regret the Loss of my
Friend Parsons. Death begins to make Breaches in the little Junto of old
Friends, that he had long forborne, and it must be expected he will now
soon pick us all off one after another." In another letter, written some
months later to Hugh Roberts, a member of the Junto, but not one of the
original members, he institutes a kind of Plutarchian contrast between
Parsons and Stephen Potts, who is described in the _Autobiography_ as a
young countryman of full age, bred to country work, of uncommon natural
parts, and great wit and humor, but a little idle.

     Two of the former members of the Junto you tell me [he
     said] are departed this life, Potts and Parsons. Odd
     characters both of them. Parsons a wise man, that often
     acted foolishly; Potts a wit, that seldom acted wisely.
     If _enough_ were the means to make a man happy, one had
     always the _means_ of happiness, without ever enjoying
     the _thing_; the other had always the _thing_, without
     ever possessing the _means_. Parsons, even in his
     prosperity, always fretting; Potts, in the midst of his
     poverty, ever laughing. It seems, then, that happiness
     in this life rather depends on internals than
     externals; and that, besides the natural effects of
     wisdom and virtue, vice and folly, there is such a
     thing as a happy or an unhappy constitution. They were
     both our friends, and loved us. So, peace to their
     shades. They had their virtues as well as their
     foibles; they were both honest men, and that alone, as
     the world goes, is one of the greatest of characters.
     They were old acquaintances, in whose company I
     formerly enjoyed a great deal of pleasure, and I cannot
     think of losing them, without concern and regret.

The Hugh Roberts to whom this letter was written was the Hugh Roberts, who
found such pleasure in the glad peal of bells, that announced the safe
arrival of Franklin in England, and in his reminiscences of his friend of
forty years' standing, that he quite forgot that it was his rule to be in
bed by eleven o'clock. He was, if Franklin may be believed, an eminent
farmer, which may account for the early hours he kept; and how near he was
to Franklin the affectionate tone of this very letter abundantly testifies.
After expressing his grief because of their friend Syng's loss of his son,
and the hope that Roberts' own son might be in every respect as good and
useful as his father (than which he need not wish him more, he said)
Franklin takes Roberts gently to task for not attending the meetings of the
Junto more regularly.

     I do not quite like your absenting yourself from that
     Good old club, the Junto. Your more frequent presence
     might be a means of keeping them from being all engaged
     in measures not the best for public welfare. I exhort
     you, therefore, to return to your duty; and, as the
     Indians say, to confirm my words, I send you a
     Birmingham tile. I thought the neatness of the figures
     would please you.

Even the Birmingham tile, however, did not have the effect of correcting
Roberts' remissness, for in two subsequent letters Franklin returns to the
same subject. In the first, he tells Roberts that he had received his
letter by the hands of Roberts' son in London, and had had the pleasure
withal of seeing this son grow up a solid, sensible young man. He then
reverts to the Junto. "You tell me you sometimes visit the ancient Junto. I
wish you would do it oftener. I know they all love and respect you, and
regret your absenting yourself so much. People are apt to grow strange, and
not understand one another so well, when they meet but seldom." Then follow
these words which help us to see how he came to declare so confidently on
another occasion that, compared with the entire happiness of existence, its
occasional unhappiness is but as the pricking of a pin.

     Since we have held that Club, till we are grown grey
     together, let us hold it out to the End. For my own
     Part, I find I love Company, Chat, a Laugh, a Glass,
     and even a Song, as well as ever; and at the same Time
     relish better than I used to do the grave Observations
     and wise Sentences of old Men's Conversation; so that I
     am sure the Junto will be still as agreeable to me as
     it ever has been. I therefore hope it will not be
     discontinu'd, as long as we are able to crawl together.

The second of the two letters makes still another appeal of the same

     I wish [Franklin said] you would continue to meet the
     Junto, notwithstanding that some Effects of our publick
     political Misunderstandings may sometimes appear there.
     'Tis now perhaps one of the _oldest_ Clubs, as I think
     it was formerly one of the _best_, in the King's
     Dominions. It wants but about two years of Forty since
     it was establish'd. We loved and still love one
     another; we are grown Grey together, and yet it is too
     early to Part. Let us sit till the Evening of Life is
     spent. The Last Hours are always the most joyous. When
     we can stay no longer, 'tis time enough then to bid
     each other good Night, separate, and go quietly to bed.

When even the bed of death could be made to wear this smooth and peaceful
aspect by such a genial conception of existence, it is not surprising that
Catherine Shipley, a friend of later date, should have asked Franklin to
instruct her in the art of procuring pleasant dreams. It was in this
letter, too, that he told Roberts that he was pleased with his punning, not
merely because he liked punning in general, but because he learned from the
use of it by Roberts that he was in good health and spirits. Of Hugh
Roberts it needs to be only further said that he was one of Franklin's many
friends who did what they could by courteous offices, when Franklin was
abroad, to testify that they loved him too much to be unmindful that he had
left a family behind him entitled to their protection and social
attentions. For his visits to his family Franklin sometimes thanks him.

The Philip Syng mentioned in one of the letters to Hugh Roberts was another
Philadelphia crony of Franklin's. He was enough of an electrician to be
several times given due credit by the unhesitating candor of Franklin for
ideas which the public would otherwise, perhaps, have fathered upon
Franklin himself, who was entirely too careless about his own fine feathers
to have any desire for borrowed plumage.

Samuel Rhoads, also, was one of the intimate Philadelphia friends to whom
Franklin was in the habit of sending his love. He, too, was an original
member of the Philosophical Society established by Franklin and was set
down as "Mechanician" on its roll of membership. At any rate, even if
"Mechanician" was a rather pompous term for him, as "Geographer" was for
William Parsons, the surveyor, he was enough of a builder to warrant
Franklin in imparting to him many valuable points about the construction of
houses, which were brought to the former's attention when he was abroad. A
striking proof, perhaps, of the strength of the attachment between the two
is found in the fact that Rhoads built the new residence, previously
mentioned by us, for Franklin without a rupture in their friendship;
although there appears to have been enough of the usual provoking delays to
cause Franklin no little dissatisfaction.

Rhoads was a man of considerable public importance in his time. He enjoyed
the distinction of being one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Hospital,
a conspicuous member of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, and a Mayor of

He was one, too, of the Committee of the Assembly which audited Franklin's
accounts as the Agent of the Colony upon the latter's return from England
in 1762, and he was likewise a member of the Committee which had previously
reported that the estates of the Proprietaries in Pennsylvania were not
being unfairly taxed. In one of Franklin's letters to him, there is a
humorous reference to Rhoads' political career. "I congratulate you," he
said, "on Your Retirement, and you being able to divert yourself with
farming; 'tis an inexhaustible source of perpetual Amusement. Your Country
_Seat_ is of a more secure kind than _that_ in the Assembly: and I hope not
so much in the Power of the Mob to jostle you out of."

A golden sentence in this letter is one of the best that Franklin ever
penned. "As long as I have known the World I have observ'd that Wrong is
always growing more Wrong till there is no bearing it, and that right
however oppos'd, comes right at last."

Rhoads, Syng and Roberts were all three included with Luke Morris, another
old friend and an _et cetera_, intended to embrace other friends besides,
in a letter which Franklin wrote from Passy to Dr. Thomas Bond.

     I thank you [he said] for the pleasing account you give
     me of the health and welfare of my old friends, Hugh
     Roberts, Luke Morris, Philip Syng, Samuel Rhoads, &c.,
     with the same of yourself and family. Shake the old
     ones by the hand for me, and give the young ones my
     blessing. For my own part, I do not find that I grow
     any older. Being arrived at seventy, and considering
     that by travelling further in the same road I should
     probably be led to the grave, I stopped short, turned
     about, and walked back again; which having done these
     four years, you may now call me sixty-six.

Dr. Thomas Bond, the Physician of the Philosophical Society established by
Franklin, to whom this letter was written, was also one of Franklin's
lifelong friends. He was the Doctor Bond, who found that he could make no
headway with his hospital project until it was encouraged by a _ça ira_
from Franklin, something like that which he is said to have uttered many
years afterwards in France when the issue of the American Revolution was
uncertain. For the society of physicians and liberal-minded clergymen
Franklin had a peculiar partiality. To the one class he was attracted by
both the scientific and humanitarian nature of their profession, to say
nothing of the incessant intercourse with their fellow creatures, which
makes all physicians more or less men of the world; and to the questioning
spirit of the eighteenth century he was too true not to have a natural
affinity for clergymen of the latitudinarian type. The ties between Dr.
Thomas Bond, Dr. John Bard and Dr. Benjamin Rush and himself were very
close. He had such a high opinion of Dr. Bond's pills that on one occasion
he even writes to his wife from Virginia to send him some by post. On
another occasion, when he was in England, he tells Deborah to thank Dr.
Bond for the care that he takes of her. In a letter to the Doctor himself,
he remarks that he did not know why their school of physic in Philadelphia
should not soon be equal to that in Edinburgh, an observation which seemed
natural enough to later Philadelphians when it was not only considered
throughout the United States a high compliment to say of a man that he was
as clever as a Philadelphia lawyer, but a medical education was in a large
part of the United States deemed incomplete unless it had received the
finishing touch from the clinics of that city.

When Dr. John Bard removed to New York, where he became the first President
of the New York Medical Society, Franklin stated in a letter to Cadwallader
Colden that he esteemed Dr. Bard an ingenious physician and surgeon, and a
discreet, worthy and honest man. In a letter to Dr. Bard and his wife in
1785, he used these tender words: "You are right in supposing, that I
interest myself in everything that affects you and yours, sympathizing in
your afflictions, and rejoicing in your felicities; for our friendship is
ancient, and was never obscured by the least cloud."

Dr. Rush was such a fervid friend and admirer of Franklin that the latter
found it necessary to request him, if he published his discourse on the
Moral Sense, to omit totally and suppress that most extravagant encomium on
his friend Franklin, which hurt him exceedingly in the unexpected hearing,
and would mortify him beyond conception if it should appear from the press.
The doctor replied by saying that he had suppressed the encomium, but had
taken the liberty of inscribing the discourse to Franklin by a simple
dedication, and earnestly insisted upon the permission of his friend to
send his last as he did his first publication into the world under the
patronage of his name. In the "simple" dedication, the panegyric, which had
made Franklin so uncomfortable, was moderated to such an extent that no
character was ascribed to him more transcendent than that of the friend and
benefactor of mankind.

To Dr. Rush we are under obligations for several stories about Franklin. He
tells us that, when chosen by Congress to be one of our Commissioners to
France, Franklin turned to him, and remarked: "I am old and good for
nothing; but, as the storekeepers say of their remnants of cloth, 'I am but
a fag end, and you may have me for what you please.'" No one doubts now
that for the purpose of the French mission he was by far the best piece of
goods in the shop. Another story, which came to Dr. Rush at second hand,
sounds apocryphal. "Why do you wear that old coat today?" asked Silas Deane
of Franklin, when they were on their way to sign the Treaty of Alliance
with France. Deane referred to the coat, in which Franklin was clad, when
Wedderburn made the rabid attack on him before the Privy Council, to which
we shall refer later. "To give it its revenge," was the reply. Franklin may
have said that, but it was not like him to say anything of the sort.

But we get back to the domain of unquestionable authenticity when we turn
to Dr. Rush's account of Franklin's death-bed:

     The evening of his life was marked by the same activity
     of his moral and intellectual powers which
     distinguished its meridian. His conversation with his
     family upon the subject of his dissolution was free and
     cheerful. A few days before he died, he rose from his
     bed and begged that it might be made up for him so
     _that he might die in a decent manner_. His daughter
     told him that she hoped he would recover and live many
     years longer. He calmly replied, "_I hope not._" Upon
     being advised to change his position in bed, that he
     might breathe easy, he said, "_A dying man can do
     nothing easy._" All orders and bodies of people have
     vied with each other in paying tributes of respect to
     his memory.

A Philadelphia friend, for whom Franklin entertained a peculiar affection,
was John Bartram, the botanist. "Our celebrated Botanist of Pennsylvania,"
Franklin deservedly terms him in a letter to Jan Ingenhousz. In one letter
Franklin addresses him as "My ever dear friend," in another as "My good and
dear old friend" and in another as "My dear good old friend." In 1751,
Bartram published his _Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil,
Rivers, Productions, Animals, and other Matters worthy of Notice. Made by
Mr. John Bartram in his Travels from Pensilvania to Onondaga, Oswego, and
the Lake Ontario, in Canada_, and, in a letter to Jared Eliot, Franklin,
after mentioning the fact that Bartram corresponded with several of the
great naturalists in Europe, and would be proud of an acquaintance with
him, said: "I make no Apologies for introducing him to you; for, tho' a
plain illiterate Man, you will find he has Merit." "He is a Man of no
Letters, but a curious Observer of Nature," was his statement in a
subsequent letter to the same correspondent. Through the mediation of
Franklin, Bartram was made the American botanist to the King, and given a
pension for the fearless and tireless search for botanical specimens, which
he had prosecuted, when American forest, savannah and everglade were as
full of death as the berry of the nightshade. It was the thought of what he
had hazarded that led Franklin to write to him in 1769: "I wish you would
now decline your long and dangerous peregrinations in search of new plants,
and remain safe and quiet at home, employing your leisure hours in a work
that is much wanted, and which no one besides is so capable of performing;
I mean the writing a Natural History of our country." The pension meant so
much to Bartram that he found difficulty in assuring himself that it would
last. In one letter, Franklin tells him that he imagines that there is no
doubt but the King's bounty to him would be continued, but he must continue
on his part to send over now and then a few such curious seeds as he could
procure to keep up his claim. In another letter, he tells him that there is
no instance in the then King's reign of a pension once granted ever being
taken away, unless for some great offence. Franklin himself was first of
all a sower of seed, of that seed which produces the wholesome plants of
benevolence and utility; so it seems quite in keeping to find him, when he
was absent from America, maintaining a constant interchange of different
sorts of seed with Bartram. If Bartram chooses to try the seed of naked
oats and Swiss barley, six rows to one ear, he can get some, Franklin
writes, by calling on Mrs. Franklin. In another letter, he acknowledges the
receipt of seeds from Bartram, and, in return for it, sends him some of the
true rhubarb seed which he desires; also some green dry peas, highly
esteemed in England as the best for making pea soup; and also some
caravances or beans, of which a cheese was made in China. Strangely enough,
he could learn nothing about the seed of the lucerne or alfalfa plant, one
of the oldest of forage plants, for which Bartram wrote. Later, he sends
Bartram a small box of upland rice, brought from Cochin China, and also a
few seeds of the Chinese tallow tree.

Another particular friend of Franklin was John Hughes of Philadelphia. This
is the Hughes, out of whose debt as a correspondent Franklin, when in
England, found it impossible to keep. He was a man of considerable
political importance, for he served on the Committee of the Assembly, which
was charged with the expenditure of the £60,000 appropriated by the
Assembly, after Braddock's defeat, mainly for the defence of the Province,
and on the Committee of the Assembly, which audited Franklin's accounts
after his return from England in 1762; and was also one of the delegates
appointed by the Assembly to confer with Teedyuscung, the King of the
Delawares, at Easton in 1756. Even when Franklin, his party associate, was
defeated as a candidate for re-election to the Assembly in 1764, Hughes
contrived to clamber back into his own seat. The departure for England of
Franklin, shortly after this election, was the signal for the most venomous
of all the attacks made upon him by the class of writers which he happily
termed "bug-writers"; that is, writers, to use his words, who resemble
"those little dirty stinking insects, that attack us only in the dark,
disturb our Repose, molesting and wounding us, while our Sweat and Blood
are contributing to their Subsistence." But the friendship of Hughes was
equal to the emergency. Incensed at the outrageous nature of the attack, he
published a card over his signature, in which he promised that, if Chief
Justice Allen, or any gentleman of character, would undertake to justify
the charges against Franklin, he would pay £10 to the Hospital for every
one of these charges that was established; provided that the person, who
made them, would pay £5 for every false accusation against Franklin that he
disproved. The assailants endeavored to turn Hughes' challenge into
ridicule by an anonymous reply, but Hughes rejoined with a counter-reply
above his own signature, in which, according to William Franklin, he lashed
them very severely for their baseness. This brought on a newspaper
controversy, which did not end, until Chief Justice Allen, who was drawn
into its vortex, was enraged to find that it had cost him £25. Later, the
recommendation of Hughes by Franklin, as the Stamp Distributor for
Pennsylvania and the Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex, gave the
worst shock to the popularity of the latter that it ever received. The
fierce heat that colonial resentment kindled under the hateful office
proved too much for even such a resolute incumbent as Hughes, but he was
not long in finding a compensation in the somewhat lower temperature of the
office of Collector of Customs for the Colonies, which he held until his

Thomas Hopkinson, of Philadelphia, too, was one of Franklin's particular
friends. He shared his enthusiasm for electrical experiments, and was the
first President of the Philosophical Society established by him. With his
usual generosity, Franklin took pains in a note to one of his scientific
papers to publish the fact that the power of points to _throw off_ the
electrical fire was first communicated to him by this friend, then
deceased. Nor did he stop there, but referred to him at the same time as a
man "whose virtue and integrity, in every station of life, public and
private, will ever make his Memory dear to those who knew him, and knew how
to value him." There is an amusing reference to Hopkinson in the
_Autobiography_ in connection with the occasion on which Franklin himself
was so transported by Whitefield's eloquence as to empty his pockets, gold
and all, into the collector's dish. Disapproving of Whitefield's desire to
establish an orphan asylum in Georgia, and suspecting that subscriptions
would be solicited by him for that object, and yet distrusting his own
capacity to resist a preacher, by whom, in the language of Isaiah, the
hearts of the people were stirred, as the trees of the wood are stirred
with the wind, he took the precaution of emptying his pockets before he
left home. But Whitefield's pathos was too much for him also. Towards the
conclusion of the discourse, he felt a strong desire to give, and applied
to a Quaker neighbor, who stood near him, to borrow some money for the
purpose. The application was unfortunately made, the _Autobiography_ says,
to perhaps the only man in the company who had the firmness not to be
affected by the preacher. His answer was, "_At any other time, Friend
Hopkinson, I would lend to thee freely; but not now, for thee seems to be
out of thy right senses._"

Anyone who enjoyed Franklin's friendship experienced very little difficulty
in passing it on to his son at his death. Francis Hopkinson, the son of
Thomas Hopkinson, and the author of _Hail Columbia_, is one example of
this. Franklin's letters to him are marked by every indication of
affection, and he bequeathed to him all his philosophical instruments in
Philadelphia, and made him one of the executors of his will with Henry
Hill, John Jay and Mr. Edward Duffield, of Benfield, in Philadelphia
County. In doing so, with his happy faculty for such things he managed to
pay a twofold compliment to both father and son in one breath. After
expressing in a letter to Francis Hopkinson his pleasure that Hopkinson had
been appointed to the honorable office of Treasurer of Loans, he added: "I
think the Congress judg'd rightly in their Choice, and Exactness in
accounts and scrupulous fidelity in matters of Trust are Qualities for
which your father was eminent, and which I was persuaded was inherited by
his Son when I took the liberty of naming him one of the Executors of my
Will." Franklin even had a mild word of commendation for Hopkinson's
political squibs, some of which, when on their way across the ocean to him,
fell into the hands of the British along with Henry Laurens. The captors,
it is safe to say, attached very different degrees of importance to the two
prizes, and Hopkinson himself accepted the situation with the cheerful
observation, "They are heartily welcome to any performance of mine in that
way. I wish the dose was stronger and better for their sake." Several of
the letters from Franklin to Francis Hopkinson bring out two of the most
winning traits of the writer, his ability to find a sweet kernel under
every rind however bitter, and his aversion to defamation, which led him to
say truthfully on one occasion that between abusing and being abused he
would rather be abused.

     As to the Friends and Enemies you just mention [he
     declared in one of them], I have hitherto, Thanks to
     God, had Plenty of the former kind; they have been my
     Treasure; and it has perhaps been of no Disadvantage to
     me, that I have had a few of the latter. They serve to
     put us upon correcting the Faults we have, and avoiding
     those we are in danger of having. They counteract the
     Mischief Flattery might do us, and their Malicious
     Attacks make our Friends more zealous in serving us,
     and promoting our Interest. At present, I do not know
     of more than two such Enemies that I enjoy, viz. Lee
     and Izard. I deserved the Enmity of the latter, because
     I might have avoided it by paying him a Compliment,
     which I neglected. That of the former I owe to the
     People of France, who happen'd to respect me too much
     and him too little; which I could bear, and he could
     not. They are unhappy, that they cannot make everybody
     hate me as much as they do; and I should be so, if my
     Friends did not love me much more than those Gentlemen
     can possibly love one another.

Every ugly witch is but a transfigured princess. This idea is one that was
readily adopted by Franklin's amiable philosophy of life. The thought that
enemies are but wholesome mortifications for the pride of human flesh is a
thought that he often throws out in his letters to other persons besides
Hopkinson. In one to the gallant Col. Henry Bouquet, who was also, it may
be said in passing, a warm friend of Franklin, the pen of the latter halts
for a moment to parenthesize the fact that God had blessed him with two or
three enemies to keep him in order.

But there were few facts in which Franklin found more satisfaction than the
fact that all his enemies were mere political enemies, that is to say,
enemies like Dr. William Smith, who shot poisoned arrows at him, when he
was living, and fired minute guns over his grave, when he was dead.

     You know [he wrote to his daughter Sally from Reedy
     Island, when he was leaving America on his second
     mission to England], I have many enemies, all indeed on
     the public account (for I cannot recollect that I have
     in a private capacity given just cause of offence to
     any one whatever), yet they are enemies, and very
     bitter ones; and you must expect their enmity will
     extend in some degree to you, so that your slightest
     indiscretions will be magnified into crimes, in order
     the more sensibly to wound and afflict me.

The same distinction between personal and political hostility is drawn by
him in a letter to John Jay of a much later date in which he uses the only
terms of self-approval, so far as we can recollect, that a biographer might
prefer him never to have employed.

     I have [he said], as you observe, some enemies in
     England, but they are my enemies as an _American_; I
     have also two or three in America; who are my enemies
     as a _Minister_; but I thank God there are not in the
     whole world any who are my Enemies as a _Man_; for by
     his grace, thro' a long life, I have been enabled so to
     conduct myself, that there does not exist a human Being
     who can justly say, "Ben. Franklin has wrong'd me."
     This, my friend, is in old age a comfortable

In one of the letters to Hopkinson, mentioned by us, he tells Hopkinson
that he does well to refrain from newspaper abuse. He was afraid, he
declared, to lend any American newspapers in France until he had examined
and laid aside such as would disgrace his countrymen, and subject them
among strangers to a reflection like that used by a gentleman in a
coffee-house to two quarrelers, who, after a mutually free use of the
words, _rogue_, _villain_, _rascal_, _scoundrel_, etc., seemed as if they
would refer their dispute to him. "I know nothing of you, or your Affair,"
said he; "I only perceive _that you know one another_."

The conductor of a newspaper, he thought, should consider himself as in
some degree the guardian of his country's reputation, and refuse to insert
such writings as might hurt it. If people will print their abuses of one
another, let them do it in little pamphlets, and distribute them where they
think proper, instead of troubling all the world with them, he suggested.
In expressing these sentiments, Franklin was but preaching what he had
actually practised in the management of the _Pennsylvania Gazette_. This
fact imparts additional authority to the pungent observations on the
liberty of the press contained in one of the last papers that he ever
wrote, namely, his _Account of the Supreme Court of Judicature in
Pennsylvania, viz.: the Court of the Press_. In this paper, he arraigns the
license of the press in his half-serious, half-jocular fashion with
undiminished vigor, and ends with the recommendation to the Legislature
that, if the right of retaliation by the citizen was not to be left
unregulated, it should take up the consideration of both liberties, that of
the press and that of the cudgel, and by an explicit law mark their extent
and limits.

Doctor Cadwallader Evans of Philadelphia was also on a sufficiently
affectionate footing with Franklin for the latter to speak of him as his
"good old friend." When news of his death reached Franklin in London in
1773, the event awakened a train of reflection in his mind which led him to
write to his son that, if he found himself on his return to America, as he
feared he would do, a stranger among strangers, he would have to go back to
his friends in England.

Dr. Evans' idea of establishing a medical library at the Hospital was so
grateful to Franklin's untiring public spirit that, as soon as he heard of
it from Dr. Evans, he sent him at once the only medical book that he had,
and took steps to solicit other donations of such books for the purpose in
England. There are some instructive observations on political and medical
subjects in his earlier letters to Dr. Evans, but his later ones are mainly
given over to the movement for the production of silk in Pennsylvania in
which Dr. Evans was deeply interested. The industry, intelligence and
enthusiasm with which Franklin seconded his efforts to make the exotic
nursling a success is one of the many laudable things in his career.

Another close friend of Franklin was Abel James, a Quaker, and an active
member of the society in Pennsylvania for the manufacture of silk, or the
Filature, as it was called. When he returned to England in 1764, Abel
James, Thomas Wharton and Joseph Galloway were the friends who were so
loath to part with him that they even boarded his ship at Chester, and
accompanied him as far as New Castle. The enduring claim of James upon the
attention of posterity consists in the fact that he was so lucky, when the
books and papers, entrusted by Franklin to the care of Joseph Galloway were
raided, as to recover the manuscript of the first twenty-three pages of the
_Autobiography_, which brought the life of Franklin down to the year 1730.
Subsequently he sent a copy to "his dear and honored friend," with a letter
urging him to complete the work. "What will the world say," he asked, "if
kind, humane and benevolent Ben. Franklin should leave his friends and the
world deprived of so pleasing and profitable a work; a work which would be
useful and entertaining not only to a few, but to millions?"

The names of Thomas Wharton and Samuel Wharton, two Philadelphia friends of
Franklin, are more than once coupled together in Franklin's letters. Thomas
Wharton was a partner of Galloway and Goddard in the establishment of the
_Philadelphia Chronicle_. It was his woollen gown that Franklin found such
a comfortable companion on his winter voyage. He would seem to have been
the same kind of robust invalid as the neurasthenic who insisted that he
was dying of consumption until he grew so stout that he had to refer his
imaginary ill-health to dropsy.

     Our friend W---- [Franklin wrote to Dr. Evans], who is
     always complaining of a constant fever, looks
     nevertheless fresh and jolly, and does not fall away in
     the least. He was saying the other day at Richmond,
     (where we were together dining with Governor Pownall)
     that he had been pestered with a fever almost
     continually for these three years past, and that it
     gave way to no medicines, all he had taken, advised by
     different physicians, having never any effect towards
     removing it. On which I asked him, if it was not now
     time to inquire, whether he had really any fever at
     all. He is indeed the only instance I ever knew, of a
     man's growing fat upon a fever.

It was with the assistance of Thomas Wharton that Thomas Livezy, a
Pennsylvania Quaker, sent Franklin a dozen bottles of wine, made of the
"small wild grape" of America, accompanied by a letter, which Franklin with
his _penchant_ for good stories, must have enjoyed even more than the wine.
Referring to the plan of converting the government of Pennsylvania from a
Proprietary into a Royal one, Livezy wrote that, if it was true that there
would be no change until the death of Thomas Penn, he did not know but that
some people in the Province would be in the same condition as a German's
wife in his neighborhood lately was "who said nobody could say she wished
her husband dead, but said, she wished she could see how he would look when
he was dead." "I honestly confess," Livezy went on to say, "I do not wish
him (Penn) to die against his will, but, if he could be prevailed on to die
for the good of the people, it might perhaps make his name as immortal as
Samson's death did his, and gain him more applause here than all the acts
which he has ever done in his life."

The humor of Franklin's reply, if humor it can be termed, was more

     The Partizans of the present [he said] may as you say
     flatter themselves that such Change will not take
     place, till the Proprietor's death, but I imagine he
     hardly thinks so himself. Anxiety and uneasiness are
     painted on his brow and the woman who would like to see
     how he would look when dead, need only look at him
     while living.

With Samuel Wharton, Franklin was intimate enough to soothe his gout-ridden
feet with a pair of "Gouty Shoes" given or lent to him by Wharton. This
Wharton was with him one of the chief promoters of the Ohio settlement, of
which the reader will learn more later, and the project was brought near
enough to success by Franklin for his over-zealous friends to sow the seeds
of what might have been a misunderstanding between him and Wharton, if
Franklin had not been so healthy-minded, by claiming that the credit for
the prospective success of the project would belong to Wharton rather than
to Franklin. But, as Franklin said, many things happen between the cup and
the lip, and enough happened in this case to make the issue a wholly vain
one. Subsequently we know that Franklin in one letter asked John Paul Jones
to remember him affectionately to Wharton and in another referred to
Wharton as a "particular friend of his." His feelings, it is needless to
say, underwent a decided change when later the fact was brought to his
attention that Wharton had converted to his own use a sum of money placed
in his hands by Jan Ingenhousz, one of the most highly-prized of all
Franklin's friends.

There is a thrust at Parliament in a letter from Franklin to Samuel
Wharton, written at Passy, which is too keen not to be recalled. He is
describing the Lord George Gordon riots, during which Lord Mansfield's
house was destroyed.

     If they had done no other Mischief [said Franklin], I
     would have more easily excused them, as he has been an
     eminent Promoter of the American War, and it is not
     amiss that those who have approved the Burning our poor
     People's Houses and Towns should taste a little of the
     Effects of Fire themselves. But they turn'd all the
     Thieves and Robbers out of Newgate to the Number of
     three hundred, and instead of replacing them with an
     equal Number of other Plunderers of the Publick, which
     they might easily have found among the Members of
     Parliament, they burnt the Building.

The relations between Franklin and Ebenezer Kinnersley, who shared his
enthusiasm for electrical experiments, John Foxcroft, who became his
colleague, as Deputy Postmaster-General for America after the death of
Colonel Hunter, and the Rev. Thomas Coombe, the assistant minister of
Christ Church and St. Peter's in Philadelphia, were of an affectionate
nature, but there is little of salient interest to be said about these
relations. Malice has asserted that Franklin did not give Kinnersley due
credit for ideas that he borrowed from him in his electrical experiments.
If so, Kinnersley must have had a relish for harsh treatment, for in a
letter to Franklin, when speaking of the lightning rod, he exclaimed, "May
it extend to the latest posterity of mankind, and make the name of FRANKLIN
like that of NEWTON _immortal_!"

James Wright, and his sister, Susannah Wright, who resided at Hempfield,
near Wright's Ferry, Pennsylvania, were likewise good friends of Franklin.
Part at any rate of the flour, on which Braddock's army subsisted, was
supplied by a mill erected by James Wright near the mouth of the Shawanese
Run. Susannah Wright was a woman of parts, interested in silk culture, and
fond of reading. On one occasion, Franklin sends her from Philadelphia a
couple of pamphlets refuting the charges of plagiarism preferred by William
Lauder against the memory of Milton and a book or tract entitled
_Christianity not Founded on Argument_. On another occasion, in a letter
from London to Deborah, he mentions, as part of the contents of a box that
he was transmitting to America, some pamphlets for the Speaker and "Susy"
Wright. Another gift to her was a specimen of a new kind of candles, "very
convenient to read by." She would find, he said, that they afforded a clear
white light, might be held in the hand even in hot weather without
softening, did not make grease spots with their drops like those made by
common candles, and lasted much longer, and needed little or no snuffing.

A sentiment of cordial friendship also existed between Franklin and
Anthony Benezet, a Philadelphia Quaker, born in France, who labored
throughout his life with untiring zeal for the abolition of the Slave
Trade. This trade, in the opinion of Franklin, not only disgraced the
Colonies, but, without producing any equivalent benefit, was dangerous to
their very existence. When actually engaged in business, as a printer, no
less than two books, aimed at the abolition of Slavery, one by Ralph
Sandyford, and the other by Benjamin Lay, both Quakers, were published by
him. The fact that Sandyford's book was published before 1730 and Lay's as
early as 1736, led Franklin to say in a letter to a friend in 1789, when
the feeling against Slavery was much more widespread, that the headway,
which it had obtained, was some confirmation of Lord Bacon's observation
that a good motion never dies--the same reflection, by the way, with which
he consoled himself when his abridgment of the Book of Common Prayer fell

When Franklin took a friend to his bosom, it was usually, as he took
Deborah, for life. But Joseph Galloway, one of his Philadelphia friends,
was an exception to this rule. When Galloway decided to cast his lot with
the Loyalists, after Franklin, in a feeling letter to him, had painted
their "rising country" in auroral colors, Franklin simply let him lapse
into the general mass of detested Tories. Previously, his letters to
Galloway, while attended with but few personal details, had been of a
character to indicate that he not only entertained a very high estimate of
Galloway's abilities but cherished for him the warmest feeling of
affection. Indeed, in assuring Galloway of this affection, he sometimes
used a term as strong as "unalterable." When Galloway at the age of forty
thought of retiring from public life, Franklin told him that it would be in
his opinion something criminal to bury in private retirement so early all
the usefulness of so much experience and such great abilities. Several
years before he had written to Cadwallader Evans that he did not see that
Galloway could be spared from the Assembly without great detriment to their
affairs and to the general welfare of America. Among the most valuable of
his letters, are his letters to Galloway on political conditions in England
when the latter was the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly. In one he
expresses the hope that a few months would bring them together, and hazards
the belief that, in the calm retirement of Trevose, Galloway's country
place, they might perhaps spend some hours usefully in conversation over
the proper constitution for the American Colonies. When Franklin learned
from his son that hints had reached the latter that Galloway's friendship
for Franklin had been chilled by the fear that he and Franklin would be
rivals for the same office, Franklin replied by stating that, if this
office would be agreeable to Galloway, he heartily wished it for him.

     No insinuations of the kind you mention [he said],
     concerning Mr. G.,--have reached me, and, if they had,
     it would have been without the least effect; as I have
     always had the strongest reliance on the steadiness of
     his friendship, and on the best grounds, the knowledge
     I have of his integrity, and the often repeated
     disinterested services he has rendered me.

In another letter to his son, he said, "I cast my eye over Goddard's Piece
against our friend Mr. Galloway, and then lit my Fire with it."

The shadow of the approaching cloud is first noticed in a letter to
Galloway in 1775, in which Franklin asks him for permission to hint to him
that it was whispered in London by ministerial people that he and Mr. Jay
of New York were friends to their measures, and gave them private
intelligence of the views of the Popular Party. While at Passy, Franklin
informed the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs that General and
Lord Howe, Generals Cornwallis and Grey and other British officers had
formally given it as their opinion in Parliament that the conquest of
America was impracticable, and that Galloway and other American Loyalists
were to be examined that week to prove the contrary. "One would think the
first Set were likely to be the best Judges," he adds with acidulous
brevity. Later on, he did not dispose of Galloway so concisely. In a letter
to Richard Bache, after suggesting that some of his missing letter books
might be recovered by inquiry in the vicinity of Galloway's country seat,
he says, smarting partly under the loss of his letter books, and partly
under the deception that Galloway had practised upon him:

     I should not have left them in his Hands, if he had not
     deceiv'd me, by saying, that, though he was before
     otherwise inclin'd, yet that, since the King had
     declar'd us out of his Protection, and the Parliament
     by an Act had made our Properties Plunder, he would go
     as far in the Defence of his Country as any man; and
     accordingly he had lately with Pleasure given Colours
     to a Regiment of Militia, and an Entertainment to 400
     of them before his House. I thought he was become a
     stanch Friend to the glorious Cause. I was mistaken. As
     he was a Friend of my Son's, to whom in my Will I had
     Left all my Books and Papers, I made him one of my
     Executors, and put the Trunk of Papers into his Hands,
     imagining them safer in his House (which was out of the
     way of any probable March of the enemies' Troops) than
     in my own.

The correspondence between Franklin and Galloway is enlivened by only a
single gleam of Franklin's humor. This was kindled by the protracted
uncertainty which attended the application of his associates and himself to
the British Crown for the Ohio grant.

     The Affair of the Grant [Franklin wrote to Galloway]
     goes on but slowly. I do not yet clearly see Land. I
     begin to be a little of the Sailor's Mind when they
     were handing a Cable out of a Store into a Ship, and
     one of 'em said: "Tis a long, heavy Cable. I wish we
     could see the End of it." "D--n me," says another, "if
     I believe it has any End; somebody has cut it off."[33]

James Logan, the accomplished Quaker scholar, David Hall, Franklin's
business partner, and Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress, were
other residents of Pennsylvania, with whom Franklin was connected by ties
of friendship, and we shall have occasion to speak of them again when we
come to his business and political career. "You will give an old man leave
to say, My Love to Mrs. Thompson," was a closing sentence in one of his
letters to Charles Thomson.

David Rittenhouse, of Philadelphia, the celebrated astronomer was also a
dear friend of his.

Of his New York friends, John Jay was the one, of whom he was fondest, and
this friendship included the whole of Jay's family. In a letter from Passy
to Jay, shortly after Jay arrived at Madrid, as our minister
plenipotentiary to Spain, he tells him that he sends for Mrs. Jay at her
request a print of himself.

     The Verses at the bottom [he wrote] are truly
     extravagant. But you must know, that the Desire of
     pleasing, by a perpetual rise of Compliments in this
     polite Nation, has so us'd up all the common
     Expressions of Approbation, that they are become flat
     and insipid, and to use them almost implies Censure.
     Hence Musick, that formerly might be sufficiently
     prais'd when it was called _bonne_, to go a little
     farther they call'd it _excellente_, _then superbe_,
     _magnifique_, _exquise_, céleste, all which being in
     their turns worn out, there only remains _divine_; and,
     when that is grown as insignificant as its
     Predecessors, I think they must return to common Speech
     and common Sense; as from vying with one another in
     fine and costly Paintings on their Coaches, since I
     first knew the Country, not being able to go farther in
     that Way, they have returned lately to plain Carriages,
     painted without Arms or Figures, in one uniform Colour.

In a subsequent letter, Franklin informs Jay that, through the assistance
of the French Court, he is in a position to honor the drafts of Jay to the
extent of $25,000. "If you find any Inclination to hug me for the good News
of this Letter," he concluded, "I constitute and appoint Mrs. Jay my
Attorney, to receive in my Behalf your embraces."

Afterwards Jay was appointed one of our Commissioners to negotiate the
treaty of peace with Great Britain, and he and his family settled down
under the same roof with Franklin at Passy. The result was a mutual feeling
of attachment, so strong that when Jay returned to America Franklin could
write to him of a kind letter that he had received from him: "It gave me
Pleasure on two Accounts; as it inform'd me of the public Welfare, and that
of your, I may almost say _our_ dear little Family; for, since I had the
Pleasure of their being with me in the same House, I have ever felt a
tender Affection for them, equal I believe to that of most Fathers." In
other letters to Jay, there are repeated references by Franklin to the
child of Jay mentioned above whose singular attachment to him, he said, he
would always remember. "Embrace my little Friend for me," he wrote to Jay
and his wife, when he was wishing them a prosperous return voyage to
America, and, in a later letter, after his own return to America, to the
same pair, he said he was so well as to think it possible that he might
once more have the pleasure of seeing them both at New York, with his dear
young friend, who, he hoped, might not have quite forgotten him.

Beyond the Harlem River, his friends were only less numerous than they
were in Pennsylvania. Among the most conspicuous were Josiah Quincy, John
Winthrop, Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard
College, and Dr. Samuel Cooper, the celebrated clergyman and patriot. We
mention these three Boston friends of his first because they were feelingly
grouped in a letter that he wrote to James Bowdoin, another valued Boston
friend of his, towards the close of his life. In this letter, he tells
Bowdoin that it had given him great pleasure to receive his kind letter, as
it proved that all his friends in Boston were not estranged from him by the
malevolent misrepresentations of his conduct that had been circulated
there, but that one of the most esteemed still retained a regard for him.
"Indeed," Franklin said, "you are now almost the only one left me by
nature; Death having, since we were last together, depriv'd me of my dear
Cooper, Winthrop, and Quincy." Winthrop, he had said, in an earlier letter
to Dr. Cooper, was one of the old friends for the sake of whose society he
wished to return from France and spend the small remnant of his days in New
England. The friendship between Quincy and Franklin began when Franklin was
a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, and had its origin in the sum of ten
thousand pounds, which Quincy, as the agent of the Colony of Massachusetts,
obtained through the assistance of Franklin from the Colony of Pennsylvania
for the military needs of the former colony. Quincy, Franklin said in the
_Autobiography_, returned thanks to the Assembly in a handsome memorial,
went home highly pleased with the success of his embassy, and ever after
bore for him the most cordial and affectionate friendship.

For Quincy's highly promising son, Josiah, who died at sea at the early age
of thirty-five, Franklin formed a warm regard when Josiah came over to
London during the second mission of Franklin to England. To the father he
wrote of the son in terms that were doubtless deeply gratifying to him,
and, in a letter to James Bowdoin, he said: "I am much pleased with Mr.
Quincy. It is a thousand pities his strength of body is not equal to his
strength of mind. His zeal for the public, like that of David for God's
house, will, I fear, eat him up." Later, when the younger Quincy's zeal had
actually consumed him, Franklin wrote to the elder Quincy:

     The epitaph on my dear and much esteemed young Friend,
     is too well written to be capable of Improvement by any
     Corrections of mine. Your Moderation appears in it,
     since the natural affection of a Parent has not induced
     you to exaggerate his Virtues. I shall always mourn his
     Loss with you; a Loss not easily made up to his

And then, referring to some of the falsehoods in circulation about his own
conduct as Commissioner, he exclaimed: "How differently constituted was his
noble and generous Mind from that of the miserable Calumniators you
mention! Having Plenty of Merit in himself, he was not jealous of the
Appearance of Merit in others, but did Justice to their Characters with as
much Pleasure as these People do Injury."

When he sat down at Saratoga to write to a few friends by way of farewell,
fearing that the mission to Canada at his time of life would prove too much
for him, Quincy was the first of his New England friends to whom he sent an

To Dr. Samuel Cooper, Franklin wrote some of the most valuable of all his
political letters, but the correspondence between them is marked by few
details of a personal or social nature. It was upon the recommendation of
Franklin that the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon Cooper by
the University of Edinburgh. "The Part I took in the Application for your
Degree," he wrote to Dr. Cooper, "was merely doing justice to Merit, which
is the Duty of an honest Man whenever he has the Opportunity." That Dr.
Cooper was duly grateful, we may infer, among other things, from a letter
in which Franklin tells his sister Jane that he is obliged to good Dr.
Cooper for his prayers. That he was able to hold his own even with such a
skilful dispenser of compliments as Franklin himself we may readily believe
after reading the letter to Franklin in which he used these words: "You
once told me in a letter, as you were going to France, the public had had
the eating your flesh and seemed resolved to pick your bones--we all agree
the nearer the bone the sweeter the meat." It was to Dr. Cooper that
Franklin expressed the hope that America would never deserve the reproof
administered to an enthusiastical knave in Pennsylvania, who, when asked by
his creditor to give him a bond and pay him interest, replied:

     No, I cannot do that; I cannot in conscience either
     receive or pay Interest, it is against my Principle.
     You have then the Conscience of a Rogue, says the
     Creditor: You tell me it is against your Principle to
     pay Interest; and it being against your Interest to pay
     the Principal, I perceive you do not intend to pay me
     either one or t'other.

The letters of Franklin to James Bowdoin are full of interest, but the
interest is scientific.

Another Boston friend of Franklin was Mather Byles. In a letter to him,
Franklin expresses his pleasure at learning that the lives of Byles and his
daughters had been protected by his "points," and his regret that
electricity had not really proved what it was at first supposed to be--a
cure for the palsy.

     It is however happy for you [Franklin said], that, when
     Old Age and that Malady have concurr'd to infeeble you,
     and to disable you for Writing, you have a Daughter at
     hand to nurse you with filial Attention, and to be your
     Secretary, of which I see she is very capable, by the
     Elegance and Correctness of her Writing in the Letter I
     am now answering.

Other letters from Franklin to Byles have unhappily perished. This fact is
brought to our knowledge by a letter from him to Elizabeth Partridge, which
shows that even the famous letter to her, in which he spoke of the end of
his brother as if he had gone off quietly from a party of pleasure in a
sedan chair, led for a time a precarious existence. If this was the letter,
he said, of which she desired a copy, he fancied that she might possibly
find it in Boston, as Dr. Byles once wrote to him that many copies had been
taken of it. Then follows this playful and characteristic touch. "I too,
should have been glad to have seen that again, among others I had written
to him and you. But you inform me they were eaten by the Mice. Poor little
innocent Creatures, I am sorry they had no better Food. But since they like
my Letters, here is another Treat for them."

Another Massachusetts friend of Franklin was Samuel Danforth, the President
of its Colonial Council. "It gave me great pleasure," Franklin wrote to
this friend on one occasion, "to receive so chearful an Epistle from a
Friend of half a Century's Standing, and to see him commencing Life anew in
so valuable a Son." When this letter was written, Franklin was in his
sixty-eighth year, but how far he was from being sated with the joy of
living other passages in it clearly manifest.

     I hope [he said] for the great Pleasure of once more
     seeing and conversing with you: And tho' living-on in
     one's Children, as we both may do, is a good thing, I
     cannot but fancy it might be better to continue living
     ourselves at the same time. I rejoice, therefore, in
     your kind Intentions of including me in the Benefits of
     that inestimable Stone, which, curing all Diseases
     (even old Age itself) will enable us to see the future
     glorious state of our America, enjoying in full
     security her own Liberties, and offering in her Bosom
     a Participation of them to all the oppress'd of other
     Nations. I anticipate the jolly Conversation we and
     twenty more of our Friends may have 100 Years hence on
     this subject, over that well replenish'd Bowl at
     Cambridge Commencement.

In Connecticut, too, Franklin had some highly prized friends. Among them
were Jared Eliot, the grandson of Apostle Eliot, and the author of an essay
upon _Field Husbandry in New England_, Ezra Stiles, President of Yale
College, Dr. Samuel Johnson and Jared Ingersoll. The letters from Franklin
to Eliot are a charming _mélange_ of what is now known as Popular Science
and Agriculture. To Franklin there was philosophy even in the roasting of
an egg, and for agriculture he had the partiality which no one, so close to
all the pulsations of nature as he was, can fail to entertain. When he
heard from his friend Mrs. Catherine Greene that her son Ray was "smart in
the farming way," he wrote to her, "I think agriculture the most honourable
of all employments, being the most independent. The farmer has no need of
popular favour, nor the favour of the great; the success of his crops
depending only on the blessing of God upon his honest industry." Franklin,
of course, was writing before the day of the trust, the high protective
tariff, the San José scale and the boll weevil.

In one letter to Eliot he gossips delightfully upon such diverse topics as
the price of linseed oil, the kind of land on which Pennsylvania hemp was
raised, the recent weather, northeast storms, the origin of springs,
sea-shell strata and import duties. Something is also said in the letter
about grass seed, and it is curious to note that apparently Franklin was
not aware that in parts of New England timothy has always been known as
herd's-grass. And this reminds us that he repeatedly in his later life
protested against the use in New England of the word "improve" in the
sense of "employ" as a barbarous innovation, when in point of fact the word
had been used in that sense in a lampoon in the _Courant_, when that lively
sheet was being published under his youthful management. In another letter,
written probably in the year 1749, Franklin tells Eliot that he had
purchased some eighteen months before about three hundred acres of land
near Burlington, and was resolved to improve it in the best and speediest
manner. "My fortune, (thank God)," he said, "is such that I can enjoy all
the necessaries and many of the Indulgences of Life; but I think that in
Duty to my children I ought so to manage, that the profits of my Farm may
Balance the loss my Income will Suffer by my retreat to it." He then
proceeds to narrate to Eliot what he had done to secure this result; how he
had scoured up the ditches and drains in one meadow, reduced it to an
arable condition, and reaped a good crop of oat fodder from it, and how he
had then immediately ploughed the meadow again and harrowed it, and sowed
it with different kinds of grass seed. "Take the whole together," he said
with decided satisfaction, "it is well-matted, and looks like a green
corn-field." He next tells how he drained a round pond of twelve acres, and
seeded the soil previously covered by it, too. Even in such modest
operations as these the quick observation and precise standards of a man,
who was perhaps first of all a man of science, are apparent. He noted that
the red clover came up in four days and the herd's-grass in six days, that
the herd's-grass was less sensitive to frost than the red clover, and that
the thicker grass seed is sown the less injured by the frost the young
grass is apt to be. By actual experiment, he found that a bushel of clean
chaff of timothy or salem grass seed would yield five quarts of seed. In
another letter to Eliot he has a word to say about the Schuyler copper mine
in New Jersey (the only valuable copper mine in America that he knew of)
which yielded good copper and turned out vast wealth to its owners. And
then there is a ray from the splendor in which the lordly Schuylers lived
in this bit of descriptive detail:

     Col. John Schuyler, one of the owners, has a deer park
     five miles round, fenced with cedar logs, five logs
     high, with blocks of wood between. It contains a
     variety of land, high and low, woodland and clear.
     There are a great many deer in it; and he expects in a
     few years to be able to kill two hundred head a year,
     which will be a very profitable thing. He has likewise
     six hundred acres of meadow, all within bank.

The fact that Col. John Schuyler had six hundred acres of meadow land
within bank was not lost on Eliot; for later Franklin writes to him again
promising to obtain from Colonel Schuyler a particular account of the
method pursued by him in improving this land. "In return," said Franklin,
"(for you know there is no Trade without Returns) I request you to procure
for me a particular Acct of the manner of making a new kind of Fence we saw
at Southhold, on Long Island, which consists of a Bank and Hedge." With the
exactitude of an experimental philosopher, he then details the precise
particulars that he desired, disclosing in doing so the fact that
Pennsylvania was beginning in many places to be at a loss for wood to fence
with. This statement need not surprise the reader, for in his _Account of
the New-Invented Pennsylvanian Fireplaces_, published some six years
before, Franklin informs us that wood, at that time the common fuel, which
could be formerly obtained at every man's door, had then to be fetched near
one hundred miles to some towns, and made a very considerable article in
the expense of families. From this same essay, we learn that it was deemed
uncertain by Franklin whether "Pit-Coal" would ever be discovered in
Pennsylvania! In another letter from Franklin to Eliot, along with some
items about Peter Collinson, "a most benevolent, worthy man, very curious
in botany and other branches of natural history, and fond of improvements
in agriculture, &c.," Hugh Roberts' high opinion of Eliot's "Pieces,"
ditching, the Academy, barometers, thermometers and hygrometers, Franklin
has some sprightly observations to make upon the love of praise. Rarely, we
venture to say, have more winning arguments ever been urged for the
reversal of the world's judgment upon any point.

     What you mention concerning the love of praise is
     indeed very true; it reigns more or less in every
     heart; though we are generally hypocrites, in that
     respect, and pretend to disregard praise, and our nice,
     modest ears are offended, forsooth, with what one of
     the ancients calls _the sweetest kind of music_. This
     hypocrisy is only a sacrifice to the pride of others,
     or to their envy; both which, I think, ought rather to
     be mortified. The same sacrifice we make, when we
     forbear to _praise ourselves_, which naturally we are
     all inclined to; and I suppose it was formerly the
     fashion, or Virgil, that courtly writer, would not have
     put a speech into the mouth of his hero, which
     now-a-days we should esteem so great an indecency;

        "Sum pius Æneas ...
        ... famâ super æther a notus."

     One of the Romans, I forget who, justified speaking in
     his own praise by saying, _Every freeman had a right to
     speak what he thought of himself as well as of others_.
     That this is a natural inclination appears in that all
     children show it, and say freely, _I am a good boy; Am
     I not a good girl?_ and the like, till they have been
     frequently chid, and told their trumpeter is dead; and
     that it is unbecoming to sound their own praise, &c.
     But _naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret_.
     Being forbid to praise themselves, they learn instead
     of it to censure others; which is only a roundabout way
     of praising themselves; for condemning the conduct of
     another, in any particular, amounts to as much as
     saying, _I am so honest, or wise, or good, or prudent,
     that I could not do or approve of such an action_. This
     fondness for ourselves, rather than malevolence to
     others, I take to be the general source of censure and
     back biting; and I wish men had not been taught to dam
     up natural currents, to the overflowing and damage of
     their neighbour's grounds.

       *       *       *       *       *

     Another advantage, methinks, would arise from freely
     speaking our good thoughts of ourselves, viz. if we
     were wrong in them, somebody or other would readily set
     us right; but now, while we conceal so carefully our
     vain, erroneous self-opinions, we may carry them to our
     grave, for who would offer physic to a man that seems
     to be in health? And the privilege of recounting freely
     our own good actions might be an inducement to the
     doing of them, that we might be enabled to speak of
     them without being subject to be justly contradicted or
     charged with falsehood; whereas now, as we are not
     allowed to mention them, and it is an uncertainty
     whether others will take due notice of them or not, we
     are perhaps the more indifferent about them; so that,
     upon the whole, I wish the out-of-fashion practice of
     praising ourselves would, like other old fashions, come
     round into fashion again. But this I fear will not be
     in our time, so we must even be contented with what
     little praise we can get from one another. And I will
     endeavour to make you some amends for the trouble of
     reading this long scrawl, by telling you, that I have
     the sincerest esteem for you, as an ingenious man and a
     good one, which together make the valuable member of

It is letters like this that cause us to feel that, if it were known that
the lost letters of Franklin were somewhere still in existence, the world
might well organize another company of Argonauts to find them.

In a subsequent letter to Eliot, Franklin thanks him for his gift of Merino
wool, and tells him that it was one Mr. Masters who made dung of leaves,
and not Mr. Roberts. In the same letter, he takes occasion to let Eliot
know that Peter Collinson has written to him that the worthy, learned and
ingenious Mr. Jackson, who had been prevailed on to give some dissertations
on the husbandry of Norfolk for the benefit of the Colonies, admired
Eliot's agricultural tracts. In still another letter to Eliot, Franklin,
true to the brief that he held for love of praise, writes to him in these
terms of unreserved gratification:

     The _Tatler_ tells us of a Girl, who was observed to
     grow suddenly proud, and none cou'd guess the Reason,
     till it came to be known that she had got on a new Pair
     of Garters. Lest you should be puzzled to guess the
     Cause, when you observe any Thing of the kind in me, I
     think I will not hide my new Garters under my
     Petticoats, but take the Freedom to show them to you,
     in a paragraph of our friend Collinson's Letter,
     viz.--But I ought to mortify, and not indulge, this
     Vanity; I will not transcribe the Paragraph, yet I
     cannot forbear.

He then transcribes the paragraph in which Collinson had informed him that
the Grand Monarch of France had commanded the Abbé Mazeas to write a letter
in the politest terms to the Royal Society, to return the King's thanks and
compliments in an express manner to Mr. Franklin of Pennsylvania for his
useful discoveries in electricity, and the application of pointed rods to
prevent the terrible effect of thunderstorms. "I think, now I have stuck a
Feather in thy Cap," ended Collinson, "I may be allowed to conclude in
wishing thee long to wear it."

     On reconsidering this Paragraph [continued Franklin], I
     fear I have not so much Reason to be proud as the Girl
     had; for a Feather in the Cap is not so useful a Thing,
     or so serviceable to the Wearer, as a Pair of good silk
     Garters. The Pride of Man is very differently
     gratify'd; and, had his Majesty sent me a marshal's
     staff, I think I should scarce have been so proud of
     it, as I am of your Esteem.

There were many principles of congeniality at work to cause Franklin to
open his heart so familiarly to Eliot, but one of the most active doubtless
was their common love of good stories. "I remember with Pleasure the
cheerful Hours I enjoy'd last Winter in your Company," he wrote to Eliot,
after his visit to New England in 1754, "and would with all my heart give
any ten of the thick old Folios that stand on the Shelves before me, for a
_little book_ of the Stories you then told with so much Propriety and

We have already referred to the famous letter, in which, Franklin, a few
weeks before his death, stated his religious creed with such unfaltering
clearness and directness to Dr. Ezra Stiles, who had written to him, saying
that he wished to know the opinion of his venerable friend concerning Jesus
of Nazareth, and expressing the hope that he would not impute this to
impertinence or improper curiosity in one, who, for so many years, had
continued to love, estimate and reverence his abilities and literary
character with an ardor and affection bordering on adoration. In his reply,
Franklin declared that he had never before been questioned upon religion,
and he asked Dr. Stiles not to publish what he had written.

     I have ever [he said] let others enjoy their religious
     Sentiments, without reflecting on them for those that
     appeared to me unsupportable and even absurd. All Sects
     here, and we have a great Variety, have experienced my
     good will in assisting them with Subscriptions for
     building their new Places of Worship; and, as I have
     never opposed any of their Doctrines, I hope to go out
     of the World in Peace with them all.

This letter is so full of interest for the reader that it is to be
regretted that Dr. Stiles did not oftener indulge the national weakness for
asking questions before his aged correspondent went out of the world in
peace with the sects, which most assuredly would have followed him with a
shower of stones as thick as that which overwhelmed St. Stephen, if they
had known that the discreet old philosopher, who contrived to keep on such
comfortable working terms with every one of them, doubted all the while the
divinity of our Lord. This letter also has a readable word to say in
response to the honor that Dr. Stiles proposed to do Franklin by placing
his portrait in the same room at Yale with that of Governor Yale, whom
Franklin pronounced "a great and good man." Yale College, Franklin
gratefully recalled, was the first learned society that took notice of him,
and adorned him with its honors, though it was from the University of St.
Andrews that he received the title which made him known to the world as
"Dr. Franklin."

Dr. Samuel Johnson has been termed "the venerable father of the Episcopal
Church of Connecticut and the apostle of sound learning and elegant
literature in New England," and it is not surprising that Franklin should
have strained his dialectical skill almost to the point of casuistry in an
effort to meet the various reasons which the Doctor gave him for his
hesitation about accepting the headship of the Academy, such as his years,
his fear of the small-pox, the politeness of Philadelphia and his imagined
rusticity, his diffidence of his powers and his reluctance about drawing
off parishioners from Dr. Jenney, the rector of Christ Church and St.
Peters. As we have seen, even the multiplying effect of setting up more
than one pigeon box against a house was ineffective to lure the
apprehensive churchman to Philadelphia. In one of his letters to Dr.
Johnson, the enthusiasm of Franklin over the Academy project endows his
words with real nobility of utterance.

     I think with you [he said], that nothing is of more
     importance for the public weal, than to form and train
     up youth in wisdom and virtue. Wise and good men are,
     in my opinion, the _strength_ of a state far more so
     than riches or arms, which, under the management of
     Ignorance and Wickedness, often draw on destruction,
     instead of providing for the safety of a people. And
     though the culture bestowed on _many_ should be
     successful only with a _few_, yet the influence of
     those few and the service in their power may be very
     great. Even a single woman, that was wise, by her
     wisdom saved a city.

     I think also, that general virtue is more probably to
     be expected and obtained from the _education_ of youth,
     than from the _exhortation_ of adult persons; bad
     habits and vices of the mind being, like diseases of
     the body, more easily prevented than cured. I think,
     moreover, that talents for the education of youth are
     the gift of God; and that he on whom they are bestowed,
     whenever a way is opened for the use of them, is as
     strongly _called_ as if he heard a voice from heaven.

Remarkable words these to fall from a man who, some two months later, in
another letter to Dr. Johnson, modestly declared himself to be unfit to
sketch out the idea of the English School for the Academy, having neither
been educated himself (except as a tradesman) nor ever been concerned in
educating others, he said.

     Nobody would imagine [said Dr. Johnson, after reading
     the sketch,] that the draught you have made for an
     English education was done by a Tradesman. But so it
     sometimes is, a true genius will not content itself
     without entering more or less into almost everything,
     and of mastering many things more in spite of fate

The friendship between Franklin and Jared Ingersoli is preserved in a
single letter only, the one from which we have already quoted in which
Franklin had his good-natured jest at the expense of the doleful New
England Sunday.

All of these friends were men, but in Catherine Ray, afterwards the wife of
Governor William Greene of Rhode Island, and the mother of Ray Greene, one
of the early United States Senators from that State, Franklin had a friend
whose sex gave a different turn of sentiment and expression to his pen. His
first letter to this young woman ("Dear Katy" is the way he addresses her)
was written after his return to Philadelphia from a journey to New England
in 1754. She then lived on Block Island, and, when he last saw her, she was
fading out of sight on the ocean on her way to that island from the

     I thought too much was hazarded [he wrote], when I saw
     you put off to sea in that very little skiff, tossed by
     every wave. But the call was strong and just, a sick
     parent. I stood on the shore, and looked after you,
     till I could no longer distinguish you, even with my
     glass; then returned to your sister's, praying for your
     safe passage.

These words are followed by the paragraph already quoted, in which Franklin
acknowledged the affectionate hospitality of New England and the paragraph,
already quoted, too, in which he spoke of his being restored to the arms of
his good old wife and children.

     Persons subject to the _hyp_ [he continued] complain of
     the northeast wind, as increasing their malady. But
     since you promised to send me kisses in that wind, and
     I find you as good as your word, it is to me the gayest
     wind that blows, and gives me the best spirits. I write
     this during a northeast storm of snow, the greatest we
     have had this winter. Your favours come mixed with the
     snowy fleeces, which are as pure as your virgin
     innocence, white as your lovely bosom, and--as cold.
     But let it warm towards some worthy young man, and may
     Heaven bless you both with every kind of happiness.

The letter concludes with these words:

     I desired Miss Anna Ward to send you over a little book
     I left with her, for your amusement in that lonely
     island. My respects to your good father, and mother,
     and sister. Let me often hear of your welfare, since
     it is not likely I shall ever again have the pleasure
     of seeing you. Accept mine, and my wife's sincere
     thanks for the many civilities I receiv'd from you and
     your relations; and do me the justice to believe me,
     dear girl, your affectionate, faithful, friend, and
     humble servant.

This letter was dated March 4, 1755, and was in reply to one from Miss Ray
which, though dated as far back as January of the same year, had just
reached him.

His next letter was dated September 11, 1755, not long after he rendered
his unavailing services to Braddock, and was a reply to three other letters
of hers of March 3, March 30 and May 1 of that year. It begins: "Begone,
business, for an hour, at least, and let me chat a little with my Katy,"
and apologizes for his belated reply.

     Equal returns [he declares], I can never make, tho' I
     should write to you by every post; for the pleasure I
     receive from one of yours is more than you can have
     from two of mine. The small news, the domestic
     occurrences among our friends, the natural pictures you
     draw of persons, the sensible observations and
     reflections you make, and the easy, chatty manner in
     which you express everything, all contribute to
     heighten the pleasure; and the more as they remind me
     of those hours and miles, that we talked away so
     agreeably, even in a winter journey, a wrong road, and
     a soaking shower.

In answer to Miss Ray's inquiry about his health, he tells her that he
still relishes all the pleasures of life that a temperate man can in reason
desire, and, through favor, has them all in his power. In answer to her
question as to whether everybody loved him yet, and why he made them do so,
he replied:

     I must confess (but don't you be jealous), that many
     more people love me now, than ever did before; for
     since I saw you I have been enabled to do some general
     services to the country, and to the army, for which
     both have thanked and praised me, and say they love me.
     They say so, as you used to do; and if I were to ask
     any favours of them, they would, perhaps, as readily
     refuse me; so that I find little real advantage in
     being beloved, but it pleases my humor.... I long to
     hear, [he says in another part of the same letter]
     whether you have continued ever since in that monastery
     (Block Island); or have broke into the world again,
     doing pretty mischief; how the lady Wards do, and how
     many of them are married, or about it; what is become
     of Mr. B---- and Mr. L----, and what the state of your
     heart is at this instant? But that, perhaps, I ought
     not to know; and, therefore, I will not conjure, as you
     sometimes say I do. If I could conjure, it should be to
     know what was that _oddest question about me that ever
     was thought_ of, which you tell me a lady had just sent
     to ask you.

     I commend your prudent resolutions, in the article of
     granting favours to lovers. But, if I were courting
     you, I could not hardly approve such conduct. I should
     even be malicious enough to say you were too _knowing_,
     and tell you the old story of the Girl and the Miller.
     I enclose you the songs you write for, and with them
     your Spanish letter with a translation. I honour that
     honest Spaniard for loving you. It showed the goodness
     of his taste and judgment. But you must forget him, and
     bless some worthy young Englishman.

Then comes the reference to his Joan (Deborah) which we have quoted in
another place. She sends her respectful compliments to Miss Ray, he states;
and lastly in a postscript he gives Miss Ray this caution: "As to your
spelling, don't let those laughing girls put you out of conceit with it. It
is the best in the world, for every letter of it stands for something."

The sincerity of this conviction he proved at least once on another
occasion by himself spelling his Katy's first name with a C instead of a K.

It is to be feared that Miss Ray was a lively flirt, and it is hard to read
Franklin's frequent allusions to Deborah in his letters to her without
suspecting that he found it necessary at times to use his wife just a
little as a shield.

The next letter from Franklin to Miss Ray is marked by the understrain of
coarse license, which ran through his character, and was partly the note of
his age, and partly the note of overflowing vital force.

     I hear you are now in Boston [he said], gay and lovely
     as usual. Let me give you some fatherly Advice. Kill no
     more Pigeons than you can eat--Be a good Girl and don't
     forget your Catechism.--Go constantly to Meeting--or
     church--till you get a good Husband,--then stay at
     home, & nurse the Children, and live like a
     Christian--Spend your spare Hours, in sober Whisk,
     Prayers, or learning to cypher--You must practise
     _addition_ to your Husband's Estate, by Industry &
     Frugality; _subtraction_ of all unnecessary Expenses;
     _Multiplication_ (I would gladly have taught you that
     myself, but you thought it was time enough, & wou'dn't
     learn) he will soon make you a Mistress of it. As to
     _Division_, I say with Brother Paul, _Let there be no
     Division among ye_. But as your good Sister Hubbard (my
     love to her) is well acquainted with _The Rule of Two_,
     I hope you will become an expert in the _Rule of
     Three_; that when I have again the pleasure of seeing
     you, I may find you like my Grape Vine, surrounded with
     Clusters, plump, juicy, blushing, pretty little rogues,
     like their Mama. Adieu. The Bell rings, and I must go
     among the Grave ones, and talk Politics.

Passages like these are among the things which really tarnish the
reputation of Franklin, and make us feel at times that, essentially
admirable as he was, in some respects he was compounded of pipe, and not of
porcelain, clay. The postscript to this letter, too, is flavored with the
rude gallantry of the husking-bee. "The Plums," it said, "came safe, and
were so sweet from the Cause you mentioned, that I could scarce taste the
Sugar." But when Deputy-Postmaster Franklin next writes to Miss Ray it is
with the light, playful grace of his best hours.

     Your Apology [he said] for being in Boston, "_that you
     must visit that Sister once a year_" makes me suspect
     you are here for some other Reason; for why should you
     think your being there would need an Excuse to me when
     you knew that I knew how dearly you lov'd that Sister?
     Don't offer to hide your Heart from me. You know I can
     conjure.--Give my best respects, to yr Sister, &
     tell her and all your other Sisters and Brothers, that
     they must behave very kindly to you, & love you dearly;
     or else I'll send a young Gentleman to steal & run away
     with you, who shall bring you to a Country from whence
     they shall never hear a word of you, without paying
     Postage. Mrs. Franklin joins in Love to you & sincere
     wishes for your welfare, with dear good Girl, your
     affectionate Friend.

Some six months later, when Franklin is on the eve of leaving America on
his first mission to England, he writes briefly to Miss Ray again, and
tells her he cannot go without taking leave of his dear friend, and is
ashamed of having allowed her last letter to remain unanswered so long.

     Present my best compliments [he adds] to your good
     mamma, brother and sister Ward, and all your other
     sisters, the agreeable Misses Ward, Dr. Babcock and
     family, the charitable Misses Stanton, and, in short,
     to all that love me. I should have said all that love
     you, but that would be giving you too much trouble.
     Adieu, dear good girl, and believe me ever your
     affectionate friend.

On the return of Franklin from England, he resumed his correspondence with
Miss Ray; but Miss Ray she was no longer, for the divination of the
conjurer had not failed him, and she was then married to William Greene. In
a letter to Mrs. Greene, dated January 23, 1763, this fact leads to another
smutty joke on Franklin's part over the arithmetic of matrimony, the worse
for being jestingly ascribed to Mrs. Franklin, who, he said, accepted Mrs.
Greene's apology for dropping the correspondence with her, but hoped that
it would be renewed when Mrs. Greene had more leisure. That the joke should
be debited to the manners of the day fully as much as to Franklin himself,
is made clear enough by the fact that it is immediately followed by the
assurance that he would not fail to pay his respects to Mr., as well as
Mrs., Greene when he came their way. "Please to make my Compliments
acceptable to him," he added. The conclusion of this letter is in the
former affectionate vein. "I think I am not much alter'd; at least my
Esteem & Regard for my Katy (if I may still be permitted to call her so) is
the same, and I believe will be unalterable whilst I am B. Franklin."

That they did prove unalterable it is hardly necessary to say. Some
twenty-six years after the date of this letter, Franklin writes to Mrs.
Greene: "Among the felicities of my life I reckon your friendship, which I
shall remember with pleasure as long as that life lasts." And, in the
meantime, he had given Mrs. Greene the proof of affectionate interest
which, of all others, perhaps, is most endearing in a friend; that is he
had taken her children as well as herself to his heart. After a brief visit
with Sally to the Greenes in 1763, he wrote to Mrs. Greene, "My Compliments
too to Mr. Merchant and Miss Ward if they are still with you; and kiss the
Babies for me. Sally says, & _for me too_." This letter ends, "With perfect
Esteem & Regard, I am, Dear Katy (I can't yet alter my Stile to Madam) your
affectionate friend." In another letter to Mrs. Greene, about a month
later, he says, "My best respects to good Mr. Greene, Mrs. Ray, and love to
your little ones. I am glad to hear they are well, and that your Celia goes
alone." The last two letters mentioned by us were written from Boston.
Franklin's next letter to Mrs. Greene was written from Philadelphia,
condoles with her on the death of her mother, tells her that his dame sends
her love to her with her thanks for the care that she had taken of her old
man, and conveys his love to "the little dear creatures." "We are all glad
to hear of Ray, for we all love him," he wrote to Mrs. Greene from Paris.

In the same letter, he said, "I live here in great Respect, and dine every
day with great folks; but I still long for home & for Repose; and should be
happy to eat Indian Pudding in your Company & under your hospitable Roof."

Hardly had he arrived in America on his return from France before he sent
this affectionate message to Mrs. Greene and her husband: "I seize this
first Opportunity of acquainting my dear Friends, that I have once more the
great Happiness of being at home in my own Country, and with my Family,
because I know it will give you Pleasure." As for Mrs. Greene, Jane Mecom
informed him that, when she heard of his arrival, she was so overjoyed that
her children thought she was afflicted with hysteria.

The friendship which existed between Franklin and the Greenes also existed
between them and his sister Jane, who was a welcome guest under their roof.
"I pity my poor old Sister, to be so harassed & driven about by the enemy,"
he wrote to Mrs. Greene from Paris in 1778, "For I feel a little myself the
Inconvenience of being driven about by my friends."


[29] The death of John Laurens in an obscure skirmish, almost at the very
end of the Revolutionary War, after a brief career, distinguished by rare
intellectual promise and daring valor is one of the most painful tragedies
of that war. "He had not a fault that I could discover," Washington said of
him, "unless it were intrepidity bordering on rashness."

[30] It may be said of the fame of Washington in his own land, with
something like approximate accuracy, that a file of wild geese winging its
flight along the Atlantic Seaboard from Maine to the alluvial meadows of
the Roanoke in Southern Virginia, is, for but brief periods only out of
sight of some statue or monument erected in his honor by his grateful
countrymen. The fame of Franklin in America is but little less strikingly
attested. As long ago as 1864, Parton could say this of it: "As there are
few counties in the Union which have not a town named Franklin, so there
are few towns of any magnitude, which do not possess a Franklin Street, or
a Franklin Square, a Franklin hotel, a Franklin bank, a Franklin
fire-engine, a Franklin Lyceum, a Franklin lodge, or a Franklin charitable
association. His bust and his portrait are only less universal than those
of Washington, and most large cities contain something of the nature of a
monument to Franklin." How little this fame has died down since these words
were written was seen in the pomp and splendor with which the second
centenary of the birth of Franklin was celebrated in the United States and
France in 1906.

[31] Another story of Franklin's told by Jefferson is good enough at any
rate for a footnote. At parties at the French Court he sometimes had a game
of chess with the old Duchess of Bourbon. Happening once to put her king
into prize, he took it. "Ah," said she, "we do not take kings so." "We do
in America," said he.

[32] It may be said of Ralph that few names are surer of immortality than
his, though not for the reasons upon which he founded his deceitful hopes.
Between the _Autobiography_ and the _Dunciad_ he is, not unlike a mummy,
preserved long beyond the date at which, in the ordinary course of things,
he would have been overtaken by oblivion. This is one of the couplets that
Pope bestowed upon him in the _Dunciad_:

    "Silence, ye Wolves! While Ralph to Cynthia howls,
    And makes night hideous--answer him, ye owls."

The couplet was accompanied by a still more venomous sting in prose: "James
Ralph, a name inserted after the first editions, not known till he writ a
swearing-piece called _Sawney_, very abusive of Dr. Swift, Mr. Gay, and
myself. These lines allude to a thing of his entitled _Night_, a poem. This
low writer attended his own works with panegyrics in the Journals, and once
in particular praised himself highly above Mr. Addison, in wretched remarks
upon that author's account of English poets, printed in a London Journal,
September, 1728. He was wholly illiterate and knew no language, not even
French. Being advised to read the rules of dramatic poetry before he began
a play, he smiled and replied 'Shakspeare writ without rules.' He ended at
last in the common sink of all such writers, a political newspaper, to
which he was recommended by his friend Arnal, and received a small pittance
for pay; and being detected in writing on both sides on one and the same
day, he publicly justified the morality of his conduct." Another couplet of
the _Dunciad_ is this:

    "And see! the very Gazetteers give o'er,
    Ev'n Ralph repents, and Henley writes no more."

[33] "The ship Ohio still aground," is the manner in which Franklin
communicated on one occasion to Galloway the slow progress that the
application for the Ohio grant was making.


Franklin's British Friends

In Great Britain, Franklin had almost as many friends as in America. During
his missions to England, he resided at No. 7 Craven Street, London, the
home of Mrs. Margaret Stevenson, a widow, and the mother of "Polly," whose
filial relations to him constituted an idyll in his life. Into all the
interests and feelings of this home, he entered almost as fully and
sympathetically as he did into those of his own home in Philadelphia; as is
charmingly attested by his Craven Street _Gazette_. Mrs. Stevenson looked
after his clothing, attended to him when he was sick, and made the
purchases from time to time that the commissions of Deborah and Jane Mecom
called for. In one of his letters to Temple, written after his return from
his second mission to England, Franklin mentions a long letter that he had
received from her in the form of "a kind of Journal for a Month after our
Departure, written on different Days, & of different Dates, acquainting me
who has call'd, and what is done, with all the small News. In four or five
Places, she sends her Love to her dear Boy, hopes he was not very sick at
Sea, &c., &c." This journal doubtless set forth in a matter-of-fact way the
daily life of the Craven Street household, which Franklin idealized with
such captivating vivacity in the humorous pages of the Craven Street
_Gazette_. At the Craven Street house, he and his son lived in great
comfort, occupying four rooms, and waited upon by his man-servant, and
Billy's negro attendant; and, when he moved about the streets of London, it
was in a modest chariot of his own. Franklin's letters to Deborah
frequently conveyed affectionate messages from Mrs. Stevenson and Polly to
Deborah and her daughter Sally. Occasionally, too, presents of one kind or
another from Mrs. Stevenson found their way across the Atlantic to Deborah
and Sally. Altogether, the Craven Street house, if not a true home to
Franklin in every sense of the word, was a cheerful semblance of one. A
letter from Dr. Priestley to him, which he received shortly after his
return from Canada, during the American Revolution, bears witness to the
impression left by his amiable traits upon the memory of the good woman
with whom he had resided so long. After telling Franklin that Franklin's
old servant Fevre often mentioned him with affection and respect, Dr.
Priestley added, "Mrs. Stevenson is much as usual. She can talk about
nothing but you." The feeling was fully returned.

     It is always with great Pleasure [he wrote to her from
     Passy], when I think of our long continu'd Friendship,
     which had not the least Interruption in the Course of
     Twenty Years (some of the happiest of my Life), that I
     spent under your Roof and in your Company. If I do not
     write to you as often as I us'd to do, when I happen'd
     to be absent from you, it is owing partly to the
     present Difficulty of sure Communication, and partly to
     an Apprehension of some possible Inconvenience, that my
     Correspondence might occasion you. Be assured, my dear
     Friend, that my Regard, Esteem, and Affection for you,
     are not in the least impair'd or diminish'd; and that,
     if Circumstances would permit, nothing would afford me
     so much Satisfaction, as to be with you in the same
     House, and to experience again your faithful, tender
     Care, and Attention to my Interests, Health, and
     Comfortable Living, which so long and steadily attach'd
     me to you, and which I shall ever remember with

And, when the news of Mrs. Stevenson's death was communicated to Franklin
by her daughter, the retrospect of the last twenty-five years that it
opened up to him framed itself into these tender words in his reply.

     During the greatest Part of the Time, I lived in the
     same House with my dear deceased Friend, your Mother;
     of course you and I saw and convers'd with each other
     much and often. It is to all our Honours, that in all
     that time we never had among us the smallest
     Misunderstanding. Our Friendship has been all clear
     Sunshine, without the least Cloud in its Hemisphere.
     Let me conclude by saying to you, what I have had too
     frequent Occasions to say to my other remaining old
     Friends, "The fewer we become, the more let us love one

On the back of the last letter, dated July 24, 1782, that he received from
Mrs. Stevenson, he indorsed this memorandum: "This good woman, my dear
Friend, died the first of January following. She was about my Age."

But the closest friendship that Franklin formed in England was with Mary,
or Polly, Stevenson. To her, perhaps, the most delightful of all his
familiar letters were written--letters so full of love and watchful
interest as to suggest a father rather than a friend. It is not too much to
say that they are distinguished by a purity and tenderness of feeling
almost perfect, and by a combination of delicate humor and instructive
wisdom to which it would be hard to find a parallel. The first of them
bears date May 4, 1759, and the last bears date May 30, 1786. That the
letters, some forty-six in number, are not more numerous even than they are
is due to the fact that, during the period of their intercourse, the two
friends were often under the same roof, or, when they were not, saw each
other frequently.

In his first letter, addressed to "My Dear Child," Franklin tells Polly,
who was then about twenty years of age, that he had hoped for the pleasure
of seeing her the day before at the Oratorio in the Foundling Hospital, but
that, though he looked with all the eyes he had, not excepting even those
he carried in his pocket, he could not find her. He had, however, he said,
fixed that day se'nnight for a little journey into Essex, and would take
Mrs. Stevenson with him as far as the home of Mrs. Tickell, Polly's aunt,
at Wanstead, where Polly then was, and would call for Mrs. Stevenson there
on his return. "Will," he says in a postscript, "did not see you in the
Park." Will, of course, was his son. In the succeeding year, he writes to
Polly that he embraces most gladly his dear friend's proposal of a subject
for their future correspondence, though he fears that his necessary
business and journeys, with the natural indolence of an old man, will make
him too unpunctual a correspondent.

     But why will you [he asks], by the Cultivation of your
     Mind, make yourself still more amiable, and a more
     desirable Companion for a Man of Understanding, when
     you are determin'd, as I hear, to live single? If we
     enter, as you propose, into _moral_ as well as natural
     Philosophy, I fancy, when I have fully establish'd my
     Authority as a Tutor, I shall take upon me to lecture
     you a little on that Chapter of Duty.

He then maps out a course of reading for her, to be conducted in such a
manner as to furnish them with material for their letters. "Believe me
ever, my dear good Girl," he concludes, "your affectionate Friend and

With his next letter, he sends her a gift of books, and begs her to accept
it, as a small mark of his esteem and friendship, and the gift is
accompanied with more specific advice as to the manner in which she was to
prosecute her studies, and obtain the benefit of his knowledge and counsel.
When he writes again, his letter discloses the fact that a brisk
interchange of ideas had been actually established between them. "'Tis a
very sensible Question you ask," he says, "how the Air can affect the
Barometer, when its Opening appears covered with Wood?" And her observation
on what she had lately read concerning insects is very just and solid too,
he remarks. The question he has no difficulty in answering, and the
observation on insects leads to some agreeable statements about the
silk-worm, the bee, the cochineal and the Spanish fly, and finally to an
interesting account of the way in which the great Swedish naturalist,
Linnæus had been successfully called in by his King to suggest some means
of checking the ravages of the worm that was doing such injury to the
Swedish ships. Nor was all this mellifluous information imparted without a
timely caution.

     There is, however [he concluded], a prudent Moderation
     to be used in Studies of this kind. The Knowledge of
     Nature may be ornamental, and it may be useful; but if,
     to attain an Eminence in that, we neglect the Knowledge
     and Practice of essential Duties, we deserve
     Reprehension. For there is no Rank in Natural Knowledge
     of equal Dignity and Importance with that of being a
     good Parent, a good Child, a good Husband or Wife, a
     good Neighbour or Friend, a good Subject or Citizen,
     that is, in short, a good Christian. Nicholas Gimcrack,
     therefore, who neglected the Care of his Family, to
     Pursue Butterflies, was a just Object of Ridicule, and
     we must give him up as fair Game to the satyrist.

A later letter is an amusing illustration of the manner in which he
occasionally reminded his pupil that she must not take herself and
Philosophy too seriously. Polly was at the time at the famous Wells of
Bristol about which so much of the social pageantry of the eighteenth
century centred.

     Your first Question, _What is the Reason the Water at
     this place, tho' cold at the Spring, becomes warm by
     Pumping?_ it will be most prudent in me to forbear
     attempting to answer [he said], till, by a more
     circumstantial account, you assure me of the Fact. I
     own I should expect that Operation to warm, not so much
     the Water pump'd, as the Person pumping. The Rubbing of
     dry Solids together has been long observ'd to produce
     Heat; but the like Effect has never yet, that I have
     heard, been produc'd by the mere Agitation of Fluids,
     or Friction of Fluids with Solids.

He might have let the matter rest there but he did not. The occasion was
too opportune a one to impress upon Polly the importance of not jumping at
conclusions too quickly for him to refrain from borrowing an apt story from
Selden about a young woman who, finding herself in the presence of some
gentlemen, when they were examining what they called a Chinese shoe, and
carrying on a dispute about it, put in her word, and said modestly,
"Gentlemen, are you sure it is a Shoe? Should not that be settled first?"

Then he passes to a highly edifying explanation of tidal movements in
rivers, so simple that even a child, to say nothing of a bright-witted
girl, could experience no difficulty in understanding it, and ends with the

     After writing 6 Folio Pages of Philosophy to a young
     Girl, is it necessary to finish such a Letter with a
     Compliment? Is not such a Letter of itself a
     Compliment? Does it not say, she has a Mind thirsty
     after Knowledge, and capable of receiving it; and that
     the most agreeable Things one can write to her are
     those that tend to the Improvement of her

With his next letter, he enclosed a paper containing his views on several
points relating to the air and the evaporation of water, and informed Polly
that he would shortly accompany her good mother again to Wanstead, when
they could take a walk to some of Lord Tilney's ponds, and make a few
experiments there that would explain the nature of tides more fully.

"Adieu, my dear little Philosopher," he exclaims in another letter, after
suggesting that thirsty unfortunates at sea might be greatly relieved by
sitting in sea water, and declaring that wet clothes do not create colds,
whatever damp may do. No one catches cold by bathing, he said, and no
clothes can be wetter than water itself.

In another letter, he makes some most readable observations upon the
evaporation of rivers and the relations of colors to heat. The ignorant, he
declared, suppose in some cases that a river loses itself by running
underground, whereas in truth it has run up into the air. And, with
reference to the interdependence of heat and color, he pursued this fresh
train of ideas:

     What signifies Philosophy that does not apply to some
     Use? May we not learn from hence, that black Clothes
     are not so fit to wear in a hot Sunny Climate or
     Season, as white ones; because in such Cloaths the Body
     is more heated by the Sun when we walk abroad, and are
     at the same time heated by the Exercise, which double
     Heat is apt to bring on putrid dangerous Fevers? That
     Soldiers and Seamen, who must march and labour in the
     Sun, should, in the East or West Indies have an Uniform
     of white? That Summer Hats, for Men or Women, should be
     white, as repelling that Heat which gives Headaches to
     many, and to some the fatal Stroke that the French call
     the _Coup de Soleil_? That the Ladies' Summer Hats,
     however, should be lined with Black, as not
     reverberating on their Faces those Rays which are
     reflected upwards from the Earth or Water? That the
     putting a white Cap of Paper or Linnen _within_ the
     _Crown_ of a black Hat, as some do, will not keep out
     the Heat, tho' it would if placed _without_? That
     Fruit-Walls being black'd may receive so much Heat from
     the Sun in the Daytime, as to continue warm in some
     degree thro' the Night, and thereby preserve the Fruit
     from Frosts, or forward its Growth?--with sundry other
     particulars of less or greater Importance, that will
     occur from time to time to attentive Minds?

Sometimes he exchanges language like this for such bantering questions as
these: "Have you finish'd your Course of Philosophy? No more Doubts to be
resolv'd? No more Questions to ask? If so, you may now be at full Leisure
to improve yourself in Cards."

Another letter, dated June 7, 1762, was written in contemplation of the
fact that he was about to leave the Old World for the New.

     I fancy I feel a little like dying Saints [he said],
     who, in parting with those they love in this World, are
     only comforted with the Hope of more perfect Happiness
     in the next. I have, in America, Connections of the
     most engaging kind; and, happy as I have been in the
     Friendships here contracted, _those_ promise me greater
     and more lasting Felicity. But God only knows whether
     these Promises shall be fulfilled.

Then came the letter written to her from a "wretched inn" at Portsmouth
when he was on the point of embarking for America. It is none the less
noteworthy because it reveals the fact that the thought of a marriage
between Polly and his son had been a familiar one to him and her.

     It (the paper on which he wrote) [he said] will tell my
     Polly how much her Friend is afflicted, that he must,
     perhaps, never again, see one for whom he has so
     sincere an Affection, join'd to so perfect an Esteem;
     who he once flatter'd himself might become his own, in
     the tender Relation of a Child, but can now entertain
     such pleasing Hopes no more. Will it tell _how much_ he
     is afflicted? No, it can not.

     Adieu, my dearest Child. I will call you so. Why should
     I not call you so, since I love you with all the
     Tenderness, All the Fondness of a Father? Adieu. May
     the God of all Goodness shower down his choicest
     Blessings upon you, and make you infinitely Happier,
     than that Event could have made you.

No wonder that the fatherless girl should have felt from the day that she
received this letter until the day that she helped to assuage the pain of
Franklin's last hours by her loving ministrations that the heart in which
she was so deeply cherished was one of these blessings. A few months later,
Franklin writes to her from America a long, communicative letter, valuable
among other reasons for the evidence that it affords of the ready sympathy
with which he had entered into her circle of youthful friendships. He tells
her that he shares her grief over her separation from her old friend Miss
Pitt; "Pitty," he calls her in another place in this letter when he sends
his love to her. He congratulates her upon the recovery of her "dear
Dolly's" health. This was Dorothea Blount to whom he repeatedly refers in
his letters to her. "I love that dear good Girl myself, and I love her
other Friends," he said. Polly's statement in the letter, to which his
letter was a reply, that she had lately had the pleasure of spending three
days with Doctor and Mrs. Hawkesworth at the house of John Stanley, all
warm friends of his, elicits from him the exclamation, "It was a sweet

These are but a few of the many details that make up this letter. Polly was
one of the stimulating correspondents who brought out all that was best in
Franklin's own intellectual resources, and the next time that he wrote to
her from America he used this appreciative and grateful language. "The
Ease, the Smoothness, the Purity of Diction, and Delicacy of Sentiment,
that always appear in your Letters, never fail to delight me; but the
tender filial Regard you constantly express for your old Friend is
particularly engaging."

In later letters to Polly, written after his return to England in 1764,
there are other lively passages like those that animated his letters to her
before his return to America. On one occasion he answers a letter from her
in verse.

     A Muse, you must know, visited me this Morning! I see
     you are surpriz'd, as I was. I never saw one before.
     And shall never see another. So I took the Opportunity
     of her Help to put the Answer into Verse, because I was
     some Verse in your Debt ever since you sent me the last
     Pair of Garters.

This letter is succeeded by a highly vivacious one from Paris where he
enjoyed the honor of conversing with the King and Queen while they sat at
meat. The latter letter is so full of sparkling fun that we cannot but
regret that Franklin did not leave behind him equally detailed narratives
of his travels in Germany and Holland, and over the face of Great Britain.
All the way to Dover, he said, he was engaged in perpetual disputes with
innkeepers, hostlers and postilions because he was prevented from seeing
the country by the forward tilt of the hoods of the post-chaises in which
he was driven; "they insisting that the Chaise leaning forward was an Ease
to the Horses, and that the contrary would kill them." "I suppose the
chaise leaning forward," he surmised, "looks to them like a Willingness to
go forward, and that its hanging back shows a Reluctance." He concludes a
humorous description of the seasickness of a number of green passengers
between Dover and Calais, who made a hearty breakfast in the morning,
before embarking, for fear that, if the wind should fail, they might not
get over till supper time, with the remark, "So it seems there are
Uncertainties, even beyond those between the Cup and the Lip." Impositions
suffered by Franklin on the journey, the smooth highways of France, the
contrast between the natural brunettes of Calais and Boulogne and the
natural blondes of Abbéville, the Parisian complexions to which nature in
every form was a total stranger, the _Grand Couvert_ where the Royal Family
supped in public, the magnificence of Versailles and Paris, to which
nothing was wanting but cleanliness and tidiness, the pure water and fine
streets of Paris, French politeness, the paintings, the plays and operas of
the gayest capital in the world all furnished topics for this delightful
letter, composed in the high spirits born of rapid movement from one novel
experience to another, and doubtless endued, when read, with the never
failing charm that belongs to foreign scenes, scanned by the eyes of those
we love. Franklin did not know which were the most rapacious, the English
or the French boatmen or porters, but the latter had with their knavery, he
thought, the most politeness. The only drawback about the roads in France,
paved with smooth stone-like streets for many miles together, and flanked
on each side with trees, was the labor which the peasants complained that
they had to expend upon them for full two months in the year without pay.
Whether this was truth, or whether, like Englishmen, they grumbled, cause
or no cause, Franklin had not yet been able to fully inform himself.

Passing over his speculations as to the origin of the fair complexions of
the women of Abbéville, where wheels and looms were going in every house,
we stop for a moment to reproduce this unsparing description of the manner
in which the women of Paris exercised the art which has never been known to
excite any form of approval except feminine self-approval.

     As to Rouge, they don't pretend to imitate Nature in
     laying it on. There is no gradual Diminution of the
     Colour, from the full Bloom in the Middle of the Cheek
     to the faint Tint near the Sides, nor does it show
     itself differently in different Faces. I have not had
     the Honour of being at any Lady's Toylette to see how
     it is laid on, but I fancy I can tell you how it is or
     may be done. Cut a hole of 3 Inches Diameter in a Piece
     of Paper; place it on the Side of your Face in such a
     Manner as that the Top of the Hole may be just under
     your Eye; then with a Brush dipt in the Colour, paint
     Face and Paper together; so when the Paper is taken off
     there will remain a round Patch of Red exactly the Form
     of the Hole. This is the Mode, from the Actresses on
     the Stage upwards thro' all Ranks of Ladies to the
     Princesses of the Blood, but it stops there, the Queen
     not using it, having in the Serenity, Complacence, and
     Benignity that shine so eminently in, or rather through
     her Countenance, sufficient Beauty, tho' now an old
     Woman, to do extreamly well without it.

In picturing the royal supper, with its gold service and its _À boire pour
le Roy_ and its _À boire pour la Reine_, Franklin even draws a sketch of
the table so that Polly can see just where the King and Queen and Mesdames
Adelaide, Victoria, Louise and Sophie sat, and just where Sir John Pringle
and himself stood, when they were brought by an officer of the court to be
talked to by the royal personages. This letter also contains what is
perhaps the handsomest compliment ever paid to French politeness: "It seems
to be a Point settled here universally, that Strangers are to be treated
with Respect; and one has just the same Deference shewn one here by being a
Stranger, as in England by being a Lady."

The grave statement in this letter that travelling is one way of
lengthening life, at least in appearance, is made the starting-point for
the laughing statement that the writer himself had perhaps suffered a
greater change in his own person than he could have done in six years at

     I had not been here Six Days [he declared] before my
     Taylor and Perruquier had transform'd me into a
     Frenchman. Only think what a Figure I make in a little
     Bag-Wig and naked Ears! They told me I was become 20
     Years younger, and look'd very _galante_; So being in
     Paris where the Mode is to be sacredly follow'd I was
     once very near making Love to my Friend's Wife.

The next words in the letter are also full of effervescing gaiety: "This
Letter shall cost you a Shilling, and you may consider it cheap, when you
reflect, that it has cost me at least 50 Guineas to get into the Situation,
that enables me to write it. Besides, I might, if I had staied at home,
have won perhaps two Shillings of you at Cribbidge."

Among the best of his subsequent letters is the one--instinct with his
usual wisdom and good feeling--in which he advises Polly to return to her
aunt, Mrs. Tickell, as soon as a temporary separation was at an end, and
continue by every means in her power, no matter how sorely tried by her
aunt's infirmities, to make the remainder of the latter's days as
comfortable as possible. Polly adopted the advice of this letter, and
reaped her reward not only in the gratified sense of duty, upon which the
letter laid such emphasis, but also in the fortune which she received upon
the death of Mrs. Tickell.

In 1770, she was married to Dr. William Hewson, a brilliant physician, who
was prematurely cut off by surgical infection, leaving her the mother of
three young children. It was probably of him that she wrote to Franklin
from Margate in the year preceding her marriage with him that she had met
with a very sensible physician the day before and would not have Franklin
or her mother surprised if she should run off with this young man. To be
sure, this would be an imprudent step at the discreet age of thirty; but
there was no saying what one should do, if solicited by a man of an
insinuating address and good person, though he might be too young for one,
and not yet established in his profession. The letter began with a welcome
to Franklin, who had just returned from the Continent, and he was quick to
respond with a pleasantry to her communication about the young physician.

     There are certain circumstances in Life, sometimes [he
     said], wherein 'tis perhaps best not to hearken to
     Reason. For instance; possibly, if the Truth were
     known, I have Reason to be jealous of this same
     insinuating, handsome young Physician; but as it
     flatters more my Vanity, and therefore gives me more
     Pleasure, to suppose you were in Spirits on acct of
     my safe Return, I shall turn a deaf Ear to Reason in
     this Case, as I have done with Success in twenty

In a subsequent letter, Franklin tells Polly that her mother has been
complaining of her head more than ever before.

     If she stoops, or looks, or bends her Neck downwards,
     on any occasion, it is with great Pain and Difficulty,
     that she gets her Head up again. She has, therefore,
     borrowed a Breast and Neck Collar of Mrs. Wilkes, such
     as Misses wear, and now uses it to keep her Head up.
     Mr. Strahan has invited us all to dine there to-morrow,
     but she has excused herself. Will you come, and go with
     me? If you cannot well do that, you will at least be
     with us on Friday to go to Lady Strachans.

His own head, he says, is better, owing, he is fully persuaded, to his
extreme abstemiousness for some days past at home, but he is not without
apprehensions that, being to dine abroad that day, the next day, and the
day after, he may inadvertently bring it on again, if he does not think of
his little monitor and guardian angel, and make use of the proper and very
pertinent clause she proposes in his grace. This clause was doubtless
suggested by his previous letter about the insinuating, handsome physician
in which he had written to his little monitor that he had just come home
from a venison feast, where he had drunk more than a philosopher ought. His
next letter warily refrains from giving his flat approval to Dr. Hewson's
proposal. His attitude towards Mrs. Greene's marriage had been equally
cautious. He was probably of the opinion that, along with the other good
advice, that finds its way to the moon, is not a little relating to nuptial
engagements. The whole letter is stamped with the good sense and wholesome
feeling which such situations never failed to evoke from him.

     I assure you [he said] that no Objection has occurr'd
     to me. His Person you see; his Temper and his
     Understanding you can judge of; his Character, for
     anything I have ever heard, is unblemished; his
     Profession, with the Skill in it he is suppos'd to
     have, will be sufficient to support a Family, and,
     therefore, considering the Fortune you have in your
     Hands (tho' any future Expectation from your Aunt
     should be disappointed) I do not see but that the
     Agreement may be a rational one on both sides.

     I see your Delicacy, and your Humility too; for you
     fancy that if you do not prove a great Fortune, you
     will not be lov'd; but I am sure that were I in his
     situation in every respect, knowing you so well as I
     do, and esteeming you so highly, I should think you a
     Fortune sufficient for me without a Shilling.

Having thus expressed his concern, equal to any father's, he said, for her
happiness, and dispelled the idea on her part that he did not favor the
proposal, because he did not immediately advise its acceptance, he left, he
concluded, the rest to her sound judgment, of which no one had a greater
share, and would not be too inquisitive as to her particular reasons,
doubts and fears.

They were married only to share the bright vision of unclouded married
happiness for some four years, and then to be separated by that tragic
agency which few but Franklin have ever been able to invest with the
peaceful radiance of declining day. A letter from Franklin to Mrs. Hewson,
written shortly after the marriage, laughs as it were through its tears
over the mournful plight in which Dolly and he have been left by her
desertion, but it shows that he is beginning to get into touch with all the
changes brought about by the new connection. We have already seen how fully
his heart went out to his godson who sprang from the union. He has a word
to say about him in another letter to Mrs. Hewson after a jest at the
expense of Mrs. Stevenson's Jacobite prejudices.

     I thank you [he said] for your intelligence about my
     Godson. I believe you are sincere, when you say you
     think him as fine a Child as you wish to see. He had
     cut two Teeth, and three, in another Letter, make five;
     for I know you never write Tautologies. If I have
     over-reckoned, the Number will be right by this Time.
     His being like me in so many Particulars pleases me
     prodigiously; and I am persuaded there is another,
     which you have omitted, tho' it must have occurr'd to
     you while you were putting them down. Pray let him have
     everything he likes; I think it of great Consequence
     while the Features of the Countenance are forming; it
     gives them a pleasant Air, and, that being once become
     natural and fix'd by Habit, the Face is ever after the
     handsomer for it, and on that much of a Person's good
     Fortune and Success in Life may depend. Had I been
     cross'd as much in my Infant Likings and Inclinations
     as you know I have been of late Years, I should have
     been, I was going to say, not near so handsome; but as
     the Vanity of that Expression would offend other Folk's
     Vanity, I change it out of regard to them, and say, a
     great deal more homely.

His next letter is written to Mrs. Hewson, then a widow, from Philadelphia,
after his return from his second mission to England, and tells her that the
times are not propitious for the emigration to America, which she was
contemplating, but expresses the hope that they might all be happy together
in Philadelphia a little later on.

When he next writes, it is from Paris on January 12, 1777. "My Dear, Dear
Polly," he begins, "Figure to yourself an old Man, with grey Hair Appearing
under a Martin Fur Cap, among the Powder'd Heads of Paris. It is this odd
Figure that salutes you, with handfuls of Blessings on you and your dear
little ones." He had failed to bring about a union between Polly and his
son, but, inveterate matchmaker that he was, this letter shows that he
still had, as a grandfather, the designs on Eliza, Polly's daughter, that
he had disclosed in his previous letter to Polly, when he expressed the
hope that he might be alive to dance with Mrs. Stevenson at the wedding of
Ben and this child. "I give him (Ben)," it said, with a French grimace
between its lines, "a little French Language and Address, and then send him
over to pay his Respects to Miss Hewson." In another letter, he tells Polly
that, if she would take Ben under her care, as she had offered to do, he
would set no bad example to her _other_ children. Two or three years later,
he wrote to her from Philadelphia that Ben was finishing his studies at
college, and would, he thought, make her a good son. Indeed a few days
later he referred to Ben in another letter as "your son Ben."

"Does my Godson," he asked in a letter from France to Mrs. Hewson, along
with many affectionate inquiries about his "dear old Friend," Mrs.
Stevenson, and other English friends of theirs, "remember anything of his
Doctor Papa? I suppose not. Kiss the dear little Fellow for me; not
forgetting the others. I long to see them and you." Then in a postscript he
tells Mrs. Hewson that, at the ball in Nantes, Temple took notice that
there were no heads less than five, and that there were a few seven lengths
of the face above the forehead. "You know," he observes with the old
sportive humor, "that those who have practis'd Drawing, as he has, attend
more to Proportions, than People in common do." In another letter from
Passy, he asks Mrs. Hewson whether Jacob Viny, who was in the wheel
business, could not make up a coach with the latest useful improvements and
bring them all over in it. In the same letter, he inserts a word to relieve
Mrs. Stevenson of her anxiety about her swelled ankles which she attributed
to the dropsy; and the paragraph ends with the words, "My tender Love to

As Polly's children grew older, the references to them in Franklin's
letters to the mother became more and more frequent and affectionate.

     You cannot be more pleas'd [he wrote to her from
     Passy], in talking about your Children, your Methods of
     Instructing them, and the Progress they make, than I am
     in hearing it, and in finding, that, instead of
     following the idle Amusements, which both your Fortune
     and the Custom of the Age might have led you into, your
     Delight and your Duty go together, by employing your
     Time in the Education of your Offspring. This is
     following Nature and Reason, instead of Fashion; than
     which nothing is more becoming the Character of a Woman
     of Sense and Virtue.

Repeatedly Franklin sends little books to Mrs. Hewson's children, and on
one occasion he sends two different French grammars, one of which, after
the French master of her children had taken his choice, was to be given to
his godson, as his New Year's gift, together with the two volumes of
_Synonymes Françaises_. At one time before he left France, he thought of
visiting Mrs. Hewson in England and asked her advice about doing so in the
existing state of the British temper. When she counselled him against the
journey, he wrote to her, "Come, my dear Friend, live with me while I stay
here, and go with me, if I do go, to America." As the result of this
invitation, Mrs. Hewson and her children spent the winter of 1784-85 with
him at Passy, and his first letter to her, after she returned to England,
bears indications in every line of the regret inspired by his loss of her
society, after, to use his own words, he had passed a long winter in a
manner that made it appear the shortest of any he ever spent. One of his
peculiarities was to make a point of telling a friend anything of a
pleasant nature that he had heard about him. Since her departure, M.
LeVeillard in particular, he said, had told him at different times what
indeed he knew long since, "_C'est une bien digne Femme, cette Madame
Hewson, une très amable Femme._" The letter then terminates with the
request that, when she prayed at church for all that travelled by land or
sea, she would think of her ever affectionate friend, but starts up again
in a postscript, in which he sends his love to William, Thomas and Eliza,
Mrs. Hewson's children, and asks their mother to tell them that he missed
their cheerful prattle. Temple being sick, and Benjamin at Paris, he had
found it very _triste_ breakfasting alone, and sitting alone, and without
any tea in the evening. "My love to every one of the Children," is his
postscript to his next letter, in which, when he was on the eve of leaving
France, he told Mrs. Hewson that he said nothing to persuade her to go with
him or to follow him, because he knew that she did not usually act from
persuasion, but judgment. In nothing was he wiser than in his reserve about
giving advice when the persons to be advised were themselves in possession
of all the facts of the case essential to a proper decision. When he
touched at Southampton, Mrs. Hewson was not yet resolved to sever the ties
that connected her with England, but subsequently she did come over with
her children to Philadelphia, and made it her home for the rest of her
life. The last letter but one that Franklin wrote to her before she sailed
is among the most readable letters in the correspondence. Referring to
three letters of hers, that had not reached him until nearly ten years
after they were written, he said:

     This pacquet had been received by Mr. Bache, after my
     departure for France, lay dormant among his papers
     during all my absence, and has just now broke out upon
     me, _like words_, that had been, as somebody says,
     _congealed in northern air_. Therein I find all the
     pleasing little family history of your children; how
     William had begun to spell, overcoming, by strength of
     memory, all the difficulty occasioned by the common
     wretched alphabet, while you were convinced of the
     utility of our new one; how Tom, genius-like, struck
     out new paths, and, relinquishing the old names of the
     letters, called U _bell_ and P _bottle_; how Eliza
     began to grow jolly, that is, fat and handsome,
     resembling Aunt Rooke, whom I used to call _my lovely_.
     Together with all the _then_ news of Lady Blount's
     having produced at length a boy; of Dolly's being well,
     and of poor good Catherine's decease; of your affairs
     with Muir and Atkinson, and of their contract for
     feeding the fish in the channel; of the Vinys and their
     jaunt to Cambridge in the long carriage; of Dolly's
     journey to Wales with Mrs. Scott; of the Wilkeses, the
     Pearces, Elphinstones, &c.;--concluding with a kind of
     promise, that, as soon as the ministry and Congress
     agreed to make peace, I should have you with me in
     America. That peace has been some time made; but, alas!
     the promise is not yet fulfilled.

Rarely, indeed, we imagine has one person, even though a father, or a
husband, ever enveloped the life of another with such an atmosphere of
pure, caressing, intimate sympathy and affection as surrounds these
letters. Perhaps, our review of them would be incomplete, if we did not
also recall the comments made by Franklin to Polly upon the death of her
mother, and Polly's own comments upon the close of his life.

     The Departure of my dearest Friend [he wrote to Polly
     from Passy], which I learn from your last Letter,
     greatly affects me. To meet with her once more in this
     Life was one of the principal Motives of my proposing
     to visit England again, before my Return to America.
     The last Year carried off my Friends Dr. Pringle, and
     Dr. Fothergill, Lord Kaims, and Lord le Despencer. This
     has begun to take away the rest, and strikes the
     hardest. Thus the Ties I had to that Country, and
     indeed to the World in general, are loosened one by
     one, and I shall soon have no Attachment left to make
     me unwilling to follow.

This is the description given by Mrs. Hewson of his last years after
stating that during the two years that preceded his death he did not
experience so much as two months of exemption from pain, yet never uttered
one repining or peevish word.

     When the pain was not too violent to be amused, he
     employed himself with his books, his pen, or in
     conversation with his friends; and upon every occasion
     displayed the clearness of his intellect, and the
     cheerfulness of his temper. Even when the intervals
     from pain were so short, that his words were frequently
     interrupted, I have known him to hold a discourse in a
     sublime strain of piety. I never shall forget one day
     that I passed with our friend last summer (1789). I
     found him in bed in great agony; but, when that agony
     abated a little, I asked him if I should read to him.
     He said, "Yes," and the first book I met with was
     "Johnson's Lives of the Poets." I read the "Life of
     Watts," who was a favorite author with Dr. Franklin;
     and instead of lulling him to sleep, it roused him to a
     display of the powers of his memory and his reason. He
     repeated several of Watts's "Lyric Poems," and
     descanted upon their sublimity in a strain worthy of
     them and of their pious author.

Sublime or not, it cannot be denied that the poems of Dr. Watts have been a
staff of comfort and support to many a pilgrim on his way to the "fields of
endless light where the saints and angels walk."

Another very dear English friend of Franklin was William Strahan, King's
Printer, the partner at one time of Thomas Cadell the Elder, and the
publisher of Gibbon's _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_. The frequent
references in Franklin's letters to him to Madeira wine would seem to
indicate that, if it had been possible for such a temperate man as Franklin
to have what is known as a boon companion, Strahan would have been he. On
one occasion, Franklin writes to him that he has a great opinion of his
wisdom (Madeira apart), on another, after twitting him good-humoredly with
the restless condition of England, he observes: "You will say my _Advice_
'smells of _Madeira_.' You are right. This foolish Letter is mere chitchat
_between ourselves_ over the _second bottle_."

The friendship between the two began before they had even seen each other.
From writing to each other from time to time, in the course of business,
about books and stationery, they finally came to feel as if they really
knew each other, and to exchange familiar messages on that footing. In his
earliest letter to Strahan, Franklin signs himself, "Your humble servant
unknown," but, before he has even carried into execution the floating
intention of going over to England, which, again and again, manifests
itself in his letters to Strahan, his spouse is corresponding with Mrs.
Strahan, and he has arranged a match between Sally and Master Billy, one of
Strahan's sons. "My compliments to Mrs. Strahan, and to your promising son,
perhaps one day mine," he wrote to Strahan several years before his first
mission to England, "God send our children good and suitable matches, for I
begin to feel a parents' cares in that respect, and fondly wish to see them
well settled before I leave them." A little later, he has arranged the
match so entirely to his satisfaction, and, as the event proved, to that of
Strahan too, that he writes glibly to Strahan of William Strahan as "our
son Billy" and of Sally as "our daughter Sally." The same letter
foreshadows the mission to England that brought the two friends for the
first time face to face. "Our Assembly," it said, "talk of sending me to
England speedily. Then look out sharp, and if a fat old fellow should come
to your printing-house and request a little smouting, depend upon it 'tis
your affectionate friend and humble servant."

The earlier cis-Atlantic letters of Franklin to Strahan are mainly letters
of business over which we need not linger here; but they contain some
paragraphs of general interest besides those relating to Sally and Master
Billy. In one place, Franklin declares that he is glad that the Polybius,
which he had ordered from Strahan, did not come; it was intended for his
son, who was, when the order was given, in the army, and apparently bent
on a military life, but that, as peace had cut off the prospect of
advancement in that way, his son would apply himself to other business. In
any event, Polybius would appear to have been a rather pedantic authority
for the military operations of the American backwoods. The other business
to which William Franklin had decided to apply himself was that of the
profession, which, in the opinion of the general public, approximates most
nearly to a state of warfare--the law, and, in the letters from Franklin to
Strahan, William's altered plans are brought home to us in the form of
orders for law books and the request that Strahan would have William
entered as a student at the Inns of Court.

These earlier letters also contain some piquant comments on colonial
conditions. Such are the remarks prompted by Pope's sneer in the _Dunciad_
at the supposed popularity of the poetaster, Ward, in "ape-and-monkey

     That Poet has many Admirers here, and the Reflection he
     somewhere casts on the Plantations as if they had a
     Relish for such Writers as Ward only, is injurious.
     Your Authors know but little of the Fame they have on
     this side of the Ocean. We are a kind of Posterity in
     respect to them. We read their Works with perfect
     impartiality, being at too great distance to be byassed
     by the Factions, Parties and Prejudices that prevail
     among you. We know nothing of their Personal Failings;
     the Blemishes in their Character never reaches (sic)
     us, and therefore the bright and amiable part strikes
     us with its full Force. They have never offended us or
     any of our Friends, and we have no competitions with
     them, therefore we praise and admire them without
     Restraint. Whatever Thomson writes send me a dozen
     copies of. I had read no poetry for several years, and
     almost lost the Relish of it, till I met with his
     Seasons. That charming Poet has brought more Tears of
     Pleasure into my Eyes than all I ever read before. I
     wish it were in my Power to return him any Part of the
     Joy he has given me.

Many years later, some appreciative observations of the same critic on the
poetry of Cowper were to make even that unhappy poet little less proud than
the girl in the Tatler with the new pair of garters.

The friendship, initiated by the early letters of Franklin to Strahan,
ripened fast into the fullest and freest intimacy when Franklin went over
to England in 1757. They were both printers, to begin with, and were both
very social in their tastes. Strahan was besides no mean political _quid
nunc_, and Franklin was all his life an active politician. So interesting
were the reports that he made to Franklin at the latter's request on
political conditions in England, after Franklin returned to America from
his first mission to that country, that Franklin acknowledged his debt in
these flattering terms:

     Your accounts are so clear, circumstantial, and
     complete, that tho' there is nothing too much, nothing
     is wanting to give us, as I imagine, a more perfect
     knowledge of your publick affairs than most people have
     that live among you. The characters of your speakers
     and actors are so admirably sketch'd, and their views
     so plainly opened, that we see and know everybody; they
     all become of our acquaintance. So excellent a manner
     of writing seems to me a superfluous gift to a mere
     printer. If you do not commence author for the benefit
     of mankind, you will certainly be found guilty
     hereafter of burying your talent. It is true that it
     will puzzle the Devil himself to find anything else to
     accuse you of, but remember he may make a great deal of
     that. If I were king (which may God in mercy to us all
     prevent) I should certainly make you the
     historiographer of my reign. There could be but one
     objection--I suspect you might be a little partial in
     my favor.

"Straney" was the affectionate nickname by which Franklin addressed Strahan
after he came into personal contact with him, and, as usual, the
friendship that he formed for the head of the family drew all the other
members of the family within its folds. His friendship was rarely, we
believe, confined to one member of a family. That was the reason why, in
one of his last letters to Mrs. Hewson, he could picture his condition in
Philadelphia in these terms: "The companions of my youth are indeed almost
all departed, but I find an agreeable society among their children and
grandchildren." And so, in Franklin's relations with the Strahans, we find
his affection taking in all the members of the household. "My dear Love to
Mrs. Strahan," he says in a letter to Strahan from Philadelphia in 1762,
"and bid her be well for all our sakes. Remember me affectionately to
Rachey and my little Wife and to your promising Sons my young Friends
Billy, George and Andrew." A similar message in another letter to Strahan
is followed by the statement, "I hope to live to see George a Bishop," and,
a few days afterwards, Franklin recurs to the subject in these terms: "Tell
me whether George is to be a Church or Presbyterian parson. I know you are
a Presbyterian yourself; but then I think you have more sense than to stick
him into a priesthood that admits of no promotion. If he was a dull lad it
might not be amiss, but George has parts, and ought to aim at a mitre."

There are other repeated references in Franklin's letters to Strahan's
daughter whom Franklin called his wife. "I rejoice to hear," he says in one
of them, "that Mrs. Strahan is recovering; that your family in general is
well, and that my little woman in particular is so, and has not forgot our
tender connection." In a letter, which we have already quoted, after
charging Strahan with not being as good-natured as he ought to be, he says,
"I am glad, however that you have this fault; for a man without faults is a
hateful creature. He puts all his friends out of countenance; but I love
you exceedingly."

As for Strahan, he loved Franklin so exceedingly that in his effort to
bring Deborah over to England he did not stop short, as we have seen, of
letting her know that, when she arrived, there would be a ready-made
son-in-law to greet her. Indeed the idea of fixing Franklin in England
appears to have been the darling project of his heart if we are to judge by
the frequency with which Franklin had to oppose Deborah's fear of the sea
to his importunity. More than once it must have appeared to him as if the
eloquence on which he prided himself so greatly would bear down all
difficulties. After Franklin in 1762 had been for two nights on board of
the ship at Portsmouth which was to take him to America, but was kept in
port by adverse winds, he wrote to Strahan:

     The Attraction of Reason is at present for the other
     side of the Water, but that of Inclination will be for
     this side. You know which usually prevails. I shall
     probably make but this one Vibration, and settle here
     forever. Nothing will prevent it, if I can, as I hope I
     can, prevail with Mrs. F. to accompany me.

That, he said in a subsequent letter, would be the great difficulty. The
next year, he even wrote to Strahan from America, after his journey of
eleven hundred and forty miles on the American continent that year, that no
friend could wish him more in England than he did himself, though, before
he went, everything, in which he was concerned, must be so settled in
America as to make another return to it unnecessary. But, in the course of
his life, Franklin, with his sensibility to social attentions and freedom
from provincial restrictions, professed his preference for so many parts of
the world as a place of residence that statements of this kind should not
be accepted too literally.

In one of his letters to Strahan, before his return to England, on his
second mission, there is a sly stroke that gives us additional insight
into the intimate relations which the two men had contracted with each

     You tell me [Franklin said] that the value I set on
     your political letters is a strong proof that my
     judgment is on the decline. People seldom have friends
     kind enough to tell them that disagreeable truth,
     however useful it might be to know it; and indeed I
     learn more from what you say than you intended I
     should; for it convinces me that you had observed the
     decline for some time past in other instances, as 'tis
     very unlikely you should see it first in my good
     opinion of your writings.

With Franklin's return to England on his second mission, the old friendly
intercourse between Strahan and himself was resumed, but it came wholly to
an end during the American Revolution; for Strahan was the King's Printer,
an inveterate Tory, and one of the ministerial phalanx, which followed
George III. blindly. When the dragon's teeth sown by the King began to
spring up in serried ranks, Franklin wrote, but did not send, to Strahan
the letter, which is so well known as to almost make transcription


     You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that
     Majority which has doomed my Country to
     Destruction.--You have begun to burn our Towns, and
     murder our People.--Look upon your Hands! They are
     stained with the Blood of your Relations!--You and I
     were long Friends:--You are now my Enemy,--and I am

                                    B. FRANKLIN.

In this instance, also, Franklin was but true to his practice of sometimes
inserting a quip or a quirk into even the gravest contexts.

Not until December 4, 1781, does the silence between the two friends,
produced by the Revolution, appear to have been really broken. On that
date, Franklin wrote to Strahan a formal letter, addressing him no longer
as "Dear Straney," but as "Dear Sir," and concluding with none of the
former affectionate terminations, but in the stiffest terms of obsequious
eighteenth century courtesy. The ostensible occasion for the letter was a
package of letters which he asked Strahan to forward to Mrs. Strange, the
wife of Robert Strange, the celebrated engraver, whose address he did not
remember. He also asked Strahan for a copy of the _Tully on Old Age_, which
Franklin had printed in Philadelphia many years before, and had endeavored
to sell in part in London through Strahan. Well maintained as the reserve
of this letter is, it is plainly enough that of a man, who is feeling his
way a little cautiously, because he does not know just how his approaches
will be received. Between the lines, we can see that the real object of the
requests about the package of letters and the Latin classic was to find out
whether Franklin's treason had killed all desire on Straney's part to open
a second bottle with him. There is a by-reference to Didot le Jeune, who
was bidding fair to carry the art of fine printing to a high pitch of
perfection, and an expression of pleasure that Strahan had married his
daughter happily, and that his prosperity continued. "I hope," Franklin
said, "it may never meet with any Interruption having still, tho' at
present divided by public Circumstances, a Remembrance of our ancient
private Friendship." Nor did he fail to present his affectionate respects
to Mrs. Strahan and his love to Strahan's children. The olive branch was
distinctly held out, but, just about the time that this letter reached
Strahan, the ministry, of which he was such an unfaltering adherent,
suffered a defeat on the American question, and the Tully was transmitted
by Mrs. Strange's husband with the statement that he really believed that
Strahan himself would have written to Franklin but for the smart of the
Parliamentary disaster of that morning. Several years later, there came to
Franklin an acknowledgment by Strahan of the very friendly and effectual
patronage which had been afforded to a distant kinswoman of his at
Philadelphia by Franklin's family. The letter also eagerly urged Franklin
to come to England once more, and with Franklin's reply, signed "yours ever
most affectionately," the old _entente_ was fully re-established. In the
high animal spirits, aroused by the renewal of the former relationship, he
fell back upon the technical terms of the printing house, so familiar to
the two friends, for the purpose of illustrating his pet proposition that
England would never be at rest until all the enormous salaries, emoluments
and patronage of her great offices were abolished, and these offices were
made, instead of places of profit, places of expense and burthen.

     Ambition and avarice [he said] are each of them strong
     Passions, and when they are united in the same Persons,
     and have the same Objects in view for their
     Gratification, they are too strong for Public Spirit
     and Love of Country, and are apt to produce the most
     violent Factions and Contentions. They should therefore
     be separated, and made to act one against the other.
     Those Places, to speak in our old stile (Brother Type)
     may be for the good of the _Chapel_, but they are bad
     for the Master, as they create constant Quarrels that
     hinder the Business. For example, here are near two
     Months that your Government has been employed _in
     getting its form to press_; which is not yet fit to
     _work on_, every Page of it being _squabbled_, and the
     whole ready to fall into _pye_. The Founts too must be
     very scanty, or strangely _out of sorts_, since your
     _Compositors_ cannot find either _upper_ or _lower case
     Letters_ sufficient to set the word ADMINISTRATION, but
     are forc'd to be continually _turning for them_.
     However, to return to common (tho' perhaps too saucy)
     Language, don't despair; you have still one resource
     left, and that not a bad one, since it may reunite the
     Empire. We have some Remains of Affection for you, and
     shall always be ready to receive and take care of you
     in Case of Distress. So if you have not Sense and
     Virtue enough to govern yourselves, e'en dissolve your
     present old crazy Constitution, and _send members to

This is the letter that Franklin said was mere chitchat between themselves
over the second bottle. Where America was concerned, Strahan was almost
credulous enough to have even swallowed the statement in Franklin's
humorous letter "To the Editor of a Newspaper," written about the time of
the Stamp Act in ridicule of English ignorance respecting America, that the
grand leap of the whale in his chase of the cod up the Fall of Niagara was
esteemed by all who had seen it as one of the finest spectacles in Nature.
In 1783, Captain Nathaniel Falconer, another faithful friend of Franklin,
wrote to him with the true disregard of an old sea-dog for spelling and
syntax: "I have been over to your old friends Mr. Strawns and find him just
the same man, believes every Ly he hears against the United States, the
French Army and our Army have been killing each other, and that we shall be
glad to come to this country again." In reply, Franklin said: "I have still
a regard for Mr. Strahan in remembrance of our ancient Friendship, tho'
he has as a Member of Parliament dipt his Hands in our Blood. He was always
as credulous as you find him." And, if what Franklin further says in this
letter is true, Strahan was not only credulous himself but not above
publishing mendacious letters about America as written from New York, which
in point of fact were fabricated in London. A little over a year later,
when the broken bones of the ancient friendship had reknit, Franklin had
his chance to remind Strahan of the extent to which he and those of the
same mind with him had been deceived by their gross misconceptions of
America. His opportunity came in the form of a reply to a letter from
Strahan withholding his assent from the idea of Franklin, so utterly
repugnant to the working principles of Strahan's party associates, that
public service should be rendered gratuitously. "There are, I make no
doubt," said Franklin "many wise and able Men, who would take as much
Pleasure in governing for nothing, as they do in playing Chess for nothing.
It would be one of the noblest of Amusements." Then, when he has fortified
the proposition by some real or fancied illustrations, drawn from French
usages, he proceeds to unburden his mind to Strahan with a degree of candor
that must have made the latter wince a little at times.

     I allow you [he said] all the Force of your Joke upon
     the Vagrancy of our Congress. They have a right to sit
     _where_ they please, of which perhaps they have made
     too much Use by shifting too often. But they have two
     other Rights; those of sitting _when_ they please, and
     as _long_ as they please, in which methinks they have
     the advantage of your Parliament; for they cannot be
     dissolved by the Breath of a Minister, or sent packing
     as you were the other day, when it was your earnest
     desire to have remained longer together.

     You "fairly acknowledge, that the late War terminated
     quite contrary to your Expectation." Your expectation
     was ill founded; for you would not believe your old
     Friend, who told you repeatedly, that by those Measures
     England would lose her Colonies, as Epictetus warned in
     vain his Master that he would break his Leg. You
     believ'd rather the Tales you heard of our Poltroonery
     and Impotence of Body and Mind. Do you not remember the
     Story you told me of the Scotch sergeant, who met with
     a Party of Forty American Soldiers, and, tho' alone,
     disarm'd them all, and brought them in Prisoners? A
     Story almost as Improbable as that of the Irishman, who
     pretended to have alone taken and brought in Five of
     the Enemy by _surrounding_ them. And yet, my Friend,
     sensible and Judicious as you are, but partaking of the
     general Infatuation, you seemed to believe it.

     The Word _general_ puts me in mind of a General, your
     General Clarke, who had the Folly to say in my hearing
     at Sir John Pringle's, that, with a Thousand British
     grenadiers, he would undertake to go from one end of
     America to the other, and geld all the Males, partly by
     force and partly by a little Coaxing. It is plain he
     took us for a species of Animals, very little superior
     to Brutes. The Parliament too believ'd the stories of
     another foolish General, I forget his Name, that the
     Yankeys never _felt bold_. Yankey was understood to be
     a sort of Yahoo, and the Parliament did not think the
     Petitions of such Creatures were fit to be received and
     read in so wise an Assembly. What was the consequence
     of this monstrous Pride and Insolence? You first sent
     small Armies to subdue us, believing them more than
     sufficient, but soon found yourselves obliged to send
     greater; these, whenever they ventured to penetrate our
     Country beyond the Protection of their Ships, were
     either repulsed and obliged to scamper out, or were
     surrounded, beaten and taken Prisoners. An America
     Planter, who had never seen Europe, was chosen by us to
     Command our Troops, and continued during the whole War.
     This Man sent home to you, one after another, five of
     your best Generals baffled, their Heads bare of
     Laurels, disgraced even in the opinion of their

     Your contempt of our Understandings, in Comparison with
     your own, appeared to be not much better founded than
     that of our Courage, if we may judge by this
     Circumstance, that, in whatever Court of Europe a
     Yankey negociator appeared, the wise British Minister
     was routed, put in a passion, pick'd a quarrel with
     your Friends, and was sent home with a Flea in his Ear.

     But after all, my dear Friend, do not imagine that I am
     vain enough to ascribe our Success to any superiority
     in any of those Points. I am too well acquainted with
     all the Springs and Levers of our Machine, not to see,
     that our human means were unequal to our undertaking,
     and that, if it had not been for the Justice of our
     Cause, and the consequent Interposition of Providence,
     in which we had Faith, we must have been ruined. If I
     had ever before been an Atheist, I should now have been
     convinced of the Being and Government of a Deity! It is
     he who abases the Proud and favours the Humble. May we
     never forget his Goodness to us, and may our future
     Conduct manifest our Gratitude.

It was characteristic of Franklin to open his heart to a friend in this
candid way even upon sensitive topics, and there can be no better proof of
the instinctive confidence of his friends in the essential good feeling
that underlay such candor than the fact that they never took offence at
utterances of this sort. They knew too well the constancy of affection and
placability of temper which caused him to justly say of himself in a letter
to Strahan, "I like immortal friendships, but not immortal enmities."

The retrospective letter from which we have just quoted had its genial
afterglow as all Franklin's letters had, when he had reason to think that
he had written something at which a relative or a friend might take

     But let us leave these serious Reflections [he went
     on], and converse with our usual Pleasantry. I remember
     your observing once to me as we sat together in the
     House of Commons, that no two Journeymen Printers,
     within your Knowledge, had met with such Success in the
     World as ourselves. You were then at the head of your
     Profession, and soon afterwards became a Member of
     Parliament. I was an Agent for a few Provinces, and now
     act for them all. But we have risen by different Modes.
     I, as a Republican Printer, always liked a Form well
     _plain'd down_; being averse to those _overbearing_
     Letters that hold their Heads so _high_, as to hinder
     their Neighbours from appearing. You, as a Monarchist,
     chose to work upon _Crown_ Paper, and found it
     profitable; while I work'd upon _pro patria_ (often
     call'd _Fools Cap_) with no less advantage. Both our
     _Heaps hold out_ very well, and we seem likely to make
     a pretty good day's Work of it. With regard to Public
     Affairs (to continue in the same stile) it seems to me
     that the Compositors in your Chapel do not _cast off
     their Copy_ well, nor perfectly understand _Imposing_;
     their _Forms_, too, are continually pester'd by the
     _Outs_ and _Doubles_, that are not easy to be
     corrected. And I think they were wrong in laying aside
     some _Faces_, and particularly certain _Headpieces_,
     that would have been both useful and ornamental. But,
     Courage! The Business may still flourish with good
     Management; and the Master become as rich as any of the

Less than two years after these merry words were penned, Franklin wrote to
Andrew Strahan, Strahan's son, saying, "I condole with you most sincerely
on the Departure of your good Father and Mother, my old and beloved

Equally dear to Franklin, though in a different way, was Jonathan Shipley,
the Bishop of St. Asaph's, whom he termed in a letter to Georgiana, one of
the Bishop's daughters, "that most honoured and ever beloved Friend." In
this same letter, Franklin speaks of the Bishop as the "good Bishop," and
then, perhaps, not unmindful of the unflinching servility with which the
Bench of Bishops had supported the American policy of George III.,
exclaims, "Strange, that so simple a Character should sufficiently
distinguish one of that sacred Body!"

During the dispute with the Colonies, the Bishop was one of the wise
Englishmen, who could have settled the questions at issue between England
and America, to the ultimate satisfaction of both countries, with little
difficulty, if they had been given a _carte blanche_ to agree with Franklin
on the terms upon which the future dependence of America was to be based.
Two productions of his, the "Sermon before the Society for Propagating the
Gospel in Foreign Parts" and his "Speech intended to have been spoken on
the Bill for Altering the Charters of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay,"
were among the compositions which really influenced the course of the
events that preceded the American Revolution. We know from Franklin's pen
that the sermon was for a time "universally approved and applauded," and,
in letters to Thomas Cushing, he said that the speech was admired in
England as a "Masterpiece of Eloquence and Wisdom," and "had an
extraordinary Effect, in changing the Sentiments of Multitudes with regard
to America." For both sermon and speech the Bishop was all the more to be
honored by Americans, because, as Franklin observed to Galloway of the
sermon, the Bishop's censure of the mother country's treatment of the
Colonies, however tenderly expressed, could not recommend him at court or
conduce in the least to his promotion. On the contrary, it probably cost
him the most splendid temporal reward that could be conferred upon a
Churchman, the Archbishopric of Canterbury; for, when Charles James Fox was
desirous of elevating him to that exalted office, the King defeated his
intentions by hastily appointing another person to it.

At Chilbolton, by Twyford, the country seat of the Bishop, some of the most
pleasant days that Franklin spent in England were passed. So fond of
Franklin were the Bishop and his wife that the latter carried in her memory
even the ages of all Franklin's children and grandchildren. As he was on
the point of leaving Twyford, at the end of the three weeks' visit, during
which he began the _Autobiography_, she insisted on his remaining that day,
so that they might all celebrate the anniversary of Benjamin Bache's birth
together. Accordingly, at dinner there was among other things a floating
island, such as the hosts always had on the several birthdays of their own
six children; all of whom, with one exception, were present as well as a
clergyman's widow upwards of one hundred years old. The story is thus told
by Franklin to his wife:

     The chief Toast of the Day was Master Benjamin Bache,
     which the venerable old Lady began in a Bumper of
     Mountain. The Bishop's Lady politely added, _and that
     he may be as good a Man as his Grandfather_. I said I
     hop'd he would be _much better_. The Bishop, still more
     complaisant than his Lady, said, "We will compound the
     Matter, and be contented, if he should not prove
     _quite_ so good." This Chitchat is to yourself only,
     in return for some of yours about your Grandson, and
     must only be read to Sally, and not spoken of to
     anybody else; for you know how People add and alter
     Silly stories that they hear, and make them appear ten
     times more silly.

The room at the Bishop's home, in which the _Autobiography_ was begun, was
ever subsequently known as Franklin's room. After his return to America
from France, Catherine Louisa Shipley, one of the Bishop's daughters, wrote
to him, "We never walk in the garden without seeing Dr. Franklin's room and
thinking of the work that was begun in it." In a letter to the Bishop in
1771, Franklin says:

     I regret my having been oblig'd to leave that most
     agreeable Retirement which good Mrs. Shipley put me so
     kindly in possession of. I now breathe with Reluctance
     the Smoke of London, when I think of the sweet Air of
     Twyford. And by the Time your Races are over, or about
     the Middle of next Month (if it should then not be
     unsuitable to your Engagements or other Purposes) I
     promise myself the Happiness of spending another Week
     or two where I so pleasantly spent the last.

Close behind this letter, went also one of his "books," which he hoped that
Miss Georgiana, another daughter of the Bishop, would be good enough to
accept as a small mark of his "Regard for her philosophic Genius," and a
quantity of American dried apples for Mrs. Shipley. A month later, he
writes to the Bishop that he had been prevented from coming to Twyford by
business, but that he purposed to set out on the succeeding Tuesday for
"that sweet Retreat." How truly sweet it was to him a letter that he
subsequently wrote to Georgiana from Passy enables us in some measure to
realize. Among other things, it contained these winning and affecting

     Accept my Thanks for your Friendly Verses and good
     Wishes. How many Talents you possess! Painting,
     Poetry, Languages, etc., etc. All valuable, but your
     good Heart is worth the whole.

     Your mention of the Summer House brings fresh to my
     mind all the Pleasures I enjoyed in the sweet Retreat
     at Twyford: the Hours of agreeable and instructive
     Conversation with the amiable Family at Table; with its
     Father alone; the delightful Walks in the Gardens and
     neighbouring Grounds. Pleasures past and gone forever!
     Since I have had your Father's Picture I am grown more
     covetous of the rest; every time I look at your second
     Drawing I have regretted that you have not given to
     your Juno the Face of Anna Maria, to Venus that of
     Emily or Betsey, and to Cupid that of Emily's Child, as
     it would have cost you but little more Trouble. I must,
     however, beg that you will make me up a compleat Set of
     your little Profiles, which are more easily done. You
     formerly obliged me with that of the Father, an
     excellent one. Let me also have that of the good
     Mother, and of all the Children. It will help me to
     fancy myself among you, and to enjoy more perfectly in
     Idea, the Pleasure of your Society. My little
     Fellow-Traveller, the sprightly Hetty, with whose
     sensible Prattle I was so much entertained, why does
     she not write to me? If Paris affords anything that any
     of you wish to have, mention it. You will oblige me. It
     affords everything but _Peace_! Ah! When shall we again
     enjoy that Blessing.

Previously he had written to Thomas Digges that the portrait of the Bishop
mentioned by him had not come to hand; nor had he heard anything of it, and
that he was anxious to see it, "having no hope of living to see again the
much lov'd and respected original." His request for the little profiles of
the Shipleys was complied with, we know, because in a letter to the Bishop
some two years afterwards he said: "Your Shades are all plac'd in a Row
over my Fireplace, so that I not only have you always in my Mind, but
constantly before my Eyes." This letter was written in reply to a letter
from the Bishop which was the first to break the long silence that the war
between Great Britain and America had imposed upon the two friends. "After
so long a Silence, and the long Continuance of its unfortunate Causes,"
Franklin began, "a Line from you was a Prognostic of happier Times
approaching, when we may converse and communicate freely, without Danger
from the Malevolence of Men enrag'd by the ill success of their distracted

Among the entries in the desultory Journal that Franklin kept of his return
from France to America, are these relating to the visit paid him at
Southampton by the Bishop: "Wrote a letter to the Bishop of St. Asaph,
acquainting him with my arrival, and he came with his lady and daughter,
Miss Kitty, after dinner, to see us; they talk of staying here as long as
we do. Our meeting was very affectionate." For two or three days, the
reunited friends all lodged at the Star, at Southampton, and took their
meals together. The day before his ship sailed, Franklin invited the Bishop
and his wife and daughter to accompany him on board, and, when he retired,
it was with the expectation that they would spend the night on the ship,
but, when he awoke the next morning, he found that they had thoughtfully
left the ship, after he retired, to relieve the poignancy of the farewell,
and that he was off on his westward course.

In his last letter to the Bishop, Franklin expresses his regret that
conversation between them at Southampton had been cut short so frequently
by third persons, and thanks him for the pleasure that he derived from the
copy of Paley's _Moral Philosophy_, given to him by the Bishop there. Along
with the usual contradiction of the English and Loyalist view at this time
of our national condition, and the usual picture of himself encircled by
his grandchildren, he indulges in these striking reflections about the
chequered fate of parental expectations:

     He that raises a large Family does, indeed, while he
     lives to observe them, _stand_, as Watts says, _a
     broader Mark for Sorrow_; but then he stands a broader
     Mark for Pleasure too. When we launch our little Fleet
     of Barques into the Ocean, bound to different Ports, we
     hope for each a prosperous Voyage; but contrary Winds,
     hidden Shoals, Storms, and Enemies come in for a Share
     in the Disposition of Events; and though these occasion
     a Mixture of Disappointment, yet, considering the
     Risque where we can make no Insurance, we should think
     ourselves happy if some return with Success.

Timed as they were, the force of these reflections were not likely to be
lost upon the Bishop. Some years before, Georgiana had married with his
bitter disapproval Francis Hare-Naylor, the writer of plays and novels, and
author of the _History of the Helvetic Republics_, who was so unfortunate
as to be arrested for debt during his courtship, while in the episcopal
coach of the Bishop with Georgiana and her parents. After the Bishop
refused to recognize the husband, the Duchess of Devonshire settled an
annuity of three hundred pounds a year upon the couple, and among the wise,
weighty letters of Franklin is one that he wrote from France to Georgiana,
after her marriage, in which he replies to her inquiries about the opening
that America would afford to a young married couple, and refers to this
annuity. The concluding portion of this letter also has its value as
another illustration of the calm manner in which Franklin looked forward to
his end. He tells Georgiana that, if he should be in America, when they
were there, his best counsels and services would not be wanting, and that
to see her happily settled and prosperous there would give him infinite
pleasure, but that, of course, if he ever arrived there, his stay could be
but short.

Franklin survived the Bishop, and his letter to Catherine, in reply to
hers, announcing the death of her father, is in his best vein.

     That excellent man has then left us! His departure is a
     loss, not to his family and friends only, but to his
     nation, and to the world; for he was intent on doing
     good, had wisdom to devise the means, and talents to
     promote them. His "Sermon before the Society for
     Propagating the Gospel," and his "Speech intended to
     have been spoken," are proofs of his ability as well as
     his humanity. Had his counsels in those pieces been
     attended to by the ministers, how much bloodshed might
     have been prevented, and how much expense and disgrace
     to the nation avoided!

     Your reflections on the constant calmness and composure
     attending his death are very sensible. Such instances
     seem to show, that the good sometimes enjoy in dying a
     foretaste of the happy state they are about to enter.

     According to the course of years, I should have quitted
     this world long before him. I shall however not be long
     in following. I am now in my eighty-fourth year, and
     the last year has considerably enfeebled me; so that I
     hardly expect to remain another. You will then, my dear
     friend, consider this as probably the last line to be
     received from me, and as a taking leave. Present my
     best and most sincere respects to your good mother, and
     love to the rest of the family, to whom I wish all
     happiness; and believe me to be, while I _do_ live,
     yours most affectionately.

His friendship in this instance, as usual, embraced the whole family. In a
letter in 1783 to Sir William Jones, the accomplished lawyer and Oriental
scholar, who married Anna Maria, one of the Bishop's daughters, he said
that he flattered himself that he might in the ensuing summer be able to
undertake a trip to England for the pleasure of seeing once more his dear
friends there, among whom the Bishop and his family stood foremost in his
estimation and affection.

To the Bishop himself he wrote from Passy in the letter which mentioned the
shades of the Shipleys above his fireplace: "Four daughters! how rich! I
have but one, and she, necessarily detain'd from me at 1000 leagues
distance. I feel the Want of that tender Care of me, which might be
expected from a Daughter, and would give the World for one."

And later in this letter he says with the bountiful affection, which made
him little less than a member of the families of some of his friends,
"Please to make my best Respects acceptable to Mrs. Shipley, and embrace
for me tenderly all our dear Children."

At the request of Catherine, he wrote the _Art of Procuring Pleasant
Dreams_ in which hygiene and the importance of preserving a good conscience
are so gracefully blended, and received from her a reply, in which, after
declaring that it flattered her exceedingly that he should employ so much
of his precious time in complying with her request, she put to him the
question, "But where do you read that Methusaleh slept in the open air? I
have searched the Bible in vain to find it."

When Sir William Jones was on the eve of being married to Anna Maria, and
of sailing away to India, where he was to win so much distinction, Franklin
wrote to him the letter already mentioned, joining his blessing on the
union with that of the good Bishop, and expressing the hope that the
prospective bridegroom might return from that corrupting country with a
great deal of money honestly acquired, and with full as much virtue as he
carried out.

The affection that he felt for Catherine and Georgiana, his letters to
them, from which we have already quoted, sufficiently reveal. Of the four
daughters, Georgiana was, perhaps, his favorite, and she is an example with
Mary Stevenson of the subtle magnetism that his intellect and nature had
for feminine affinities of mind and temperament. It was to Georgiana, when
a child, that he wrote his well-known letter containing an epitaph on her
squirrel, which had been dispatched by a dog. The letter and epitaph are
good enough specimens of his humor to be quoted in full:


     I lament with you most sincerely the unfortunate end of
     poor Mungo. Few squirrels were better accomplished; for
     he had had a good education, had travelled far, and
     seen much of the world. As he had the honor of being,
     for his virtues, your favourite, he should not go, like
     common skuggs, without an elegy or an epitaph. Let us
     give him one in the monumental style and measure,
     which, being neither prose nor verse, is perhaps the
     properest for grief; since to use common language would
     look as if we were not affected, and to make rhymes
     would seem trifling in sorrow.


     Alas! poor Mungo!
     Happy wert thou, hadst thou known
     Thy own felicity.
     Remote from the fierce bald eagle,
     Tyrant of thy native woods,
     Thou hadst nought to fear from his piercing talons,
     Nor from the murdering gun
     Of the thoughtless sportsman.
     Safe in thy wired castle,
     GRIMALKIN never could annoy thee.
     Daily wert thou fed with the choicest viands,
     By the fair hand of an indulgent mistress;
     But, discontented,
     Thou wouldst have more freedom.
     Too soon, alas! didst thou obtain it;
     And wandering,
     Thou art fallen by the fangs of wanton, cruel Ranger!
                             Learn hence,
     Ye who blindly seek more liberty,
     Whether subjects, sons, squirrels or daughters,
     That apparent restraint may be real protection;
     Yielding peace and plenty
                             With security.

     You see, my dear Miss, how much more decent and proper
     this broken style is, than if we were to say, by way of

        Here SKUGG
        Lies snug,
        As a bug
        In a rug.

     and yet, perhaps, there are people in the world of so
     little feeling as to think that this would be a
     good-enough epitaph for poor Mungo.

     If you wish it, I shall procure another to succeed him;
     but perhaps you will now choose some other amusement.

Two of Georgiana's letters to Franklin, after his arrival in France, are
very interesting, and one of them especially could not have been written by
any but a highly gifted and accomplished woman. In this letter, the first
of the two, she begins by expressing her joy at unexpectedly receiving a
letter from him.

     How good you were [she exclaimed] to send me your
     direction, but I fear I must not make use of it as
     often as I could wish, since my father says it will be
     prudent not to write in the present situation of
     affairs. I am not of an age to be so very prudent, and
     the only thought that occurred to me was your
     suspecting that my silence proceeded from other
     motives. I could not support the idea of your believing
     that I love and esteem you less than I did some few
     years ago. I therefore write this once without my
     father's knowledge. You are the first man that ever
     received a private letter from me, and in this instance
     I feel that my intentions justify my conduct; but I
     must entreat that you will take no notice of my
     writing, when next I have the happiness of hearing from

She then proceeds to tell Franklin all about her father, her mother, her
sister Emily and Emily's daughter, "a charming little girl, near fifteen
months old, whom her aunts reckon a prodigy of sense and beauty." The rest
of her sisters, she said, continued in _statu quo_. Whether that proceeded
from the men being difficult or from _their_ being difficult, she left him
to determine.

His friends all loved him almost as much as she did; as much she would not
admit to be possible. Dr. Pringle had made her extremely happy the
preceding winter by giving her a print of her excellent friend, which, was
certainly very like him, although it wanted the addition of his own hair to
make it complete; but, as it was, she prized it infinitely, now that the
dear original was absent. She then has a word to say about Smith's _Wealth
of Nations_, Gibbon's _History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_
and the _Economics_, which she had read with great attention, as indeed
everything else she could meet with relative to Socrates; for she fancied
she could discover in each trait of that admirable man's character a strong
resemblance between him and her much-loved friend--the same clearness of
judgment, the same uprightness of intention and the same superior
understanding. Other words are bestowed on the account which Sir William
Hamilton had lately given her of a new electrical machine invented in
Italy, the happiness that she would enjoy, if Franklin were in England to
explain it to her, and the envy excited in her by the opportunities that
his grandson had for showing him kindness and attention. "Did my family,"
she further declares, "know of my writing, my letter would scarce contain
the very many things they would desire me to say for them. They continue to
admire and love you as much as they did formerly, nor can any time or event
in the least change their sentiments."

She then concludes partly in French and partly in English in these words:

     Adieu, mon cher Socrate; conservez-vous pour l'amour de
     moi, et pour mille autres raisons plus importants. Je
     ne vous en dirai pas d'advantage pour aujourd'hui, mais
     je veux esperer de vous entretenir plus á mon aise,
     avant que soit longue. Pray write whenever a safe
     conveyance opens, since the receiving letters is
     reckoned very different from answering them. I must
     once more repeat nobody knows of this scroll; "a word
     to the wise,"--as Poor Richard says.

In her second letter, Georgiana speaks of the difficulty she experienced in
having her letters conveyed safely to Passy. "Strange," she declared, "that
I should be under the necessity of concealing from the world a
correspondence which it is the pride and glory of my heart to maintain."
His _Dialogue with the Gout_, she said, was written with his own cheerful
pleasantry, and _La belle et la mauvaise Jambe_ recalled to her mind those
happy hours they once passed in his society, where they were never amused
without learning some useful truth, and where she first acquired a taste
_pour la conversation badinante and réfléchie_. Her father grew every year
fonder of the peace of Twyford; having found his endeavors to serve his
country ineffectual, he had yielded to a torrent which it was no longer in
his power to control. Sir John Pringle (Franklin's friend) had left London
and gone to reside in Scotland; she feared that he was much straitened in
his circumstances; he looked ill and was vastly changed from what he
remembered him; Dr. Priestley (another friend of Franklin) was then on a
short visit to his friends in town; good Dr. Price (another friend of
Franklin) called on them often, and gave them hopes of a visit to Twyford.

The letter also informed Franklin that the first opportunity that they had
of sending a parcel to Paris he might expect _all_ their shades; and
expressed her gratitude to Mr. Jones for undertaking the care of her
letter, and giving her an opportunity of assuring Franklin how much she did
and ever should continue to love him.

Catherine Ray was not far wrong when she spoke of Franklin as a conjurer.
Catherine Shipley's letter to him, after she had parted with him at
Southampton, though without the romantic flush of these two letters, spoke
the same general language of deep-seated affection. She was quite provoked
with herself, she said, when she got to Southampton that she had not
thought of something, such as a pincushion, to leave with him, that might
have been useful to him during the voyage to remind him of her. "Did you
ever taste the ginger cake," she asked, "and think it had belonged to your
fellow-traveller? In short, I want some excuse for asking whether you ever
think about me." And from this letter it appears that he had a place in the
hearts of Emily and Betsey too. She had had a letter from Emily, Catherine
further said, the night after she got home, to inquire whether his stay at
Southampton would allow time for her coming to see him. Betsey regretted
much that she had lost that happiness, and the writer had written to dear
Georgiana a long account of him, for she knew every circumstance would be
interesting to her. "Indeed, my dear sir," the letter ended, "from my
father and mother down to their _youngest child_, we all respect and love

When Franklin was told by Georgiana that Sir John Pringle was pinched by
poverty, and looked ill, he must have been sorely distressed; for Sir John
he once described as his "steady, good friend." A pupil of Boerhaave, a
high authority upon the application of sanitary science to the prevention
of dysentery and hospital fevers, physician to the Queen, and President of
the Royal Society, Dr. Pringle was one of the distinguished men of his
time. What churchmen were to the preservation of classical learning, before
teaching became a special calling, physicians were to general scientific
knowledge before science became such; and, among these physicians, he
occupied an honorable position.[35] "His speech in giving the last medal,
(of the Royal Society) on the subject of the discoveries relating to the
air," Franklin wrote to Jan Ingenhousz, "did him great honour." He was
quite unlike the courtiers who sought to convince King Canute that he could
stay the incoming tide by his command, as George III. found out when he
asked him, after the outbreak of the American Revolution, to pronounce an
opinion in favor of the substitution of blunt for pointed lightning rods on
Kew Palace. The laws of nature, Sir John hinted, were not changeable at
royal pleasure, but positions of honor and profit he soon learnt, if he did
not know it before, were; for he fell into such disfavor with the King that
he had to resign as President of the Royal Society, and was deprived of his
post as physician to the Queen. The circumstances in which his disgrace
originated leave us at but little loss to understand why the King should
have become such a dogged partisan of blunt conductors. Prior to the
Revolution, Franklin had been consulted by the British Board of Ordnance as
to the best means of protecting the arsenals at Purfleet from lightning,
and, after he had visited the powder magazine there, the Royal Society,
too, was asked by the Board for its opinion. The Society accordingly
appointed a committee of learned men, including Cavendish and Franklin, to
make a report on the subject. All of the committee except Benjamin Wilson,
who dissented, reported in favor of pointed conductors as against blunt
ones, and Franklin, the inventor of pointed lightning rods, drew up the
report. The scientific controversy that followed soon assumed a political
character, when Franklin dropped the philosophical task of snatching the
lightning from the skies for the rebellious task of snatching the sceptre
from a tyrant. When he heard that George III. was, like Ajax, obstinate
enough to defy even the lightning, he wrote to an unknown correspondent:

     The King's changing his _pointed_ conductors for
     _blunt_ ones is, therefore, a matter of small
     importance to me. If I had a wish about it, it would be
     that he had rejected them altogether as ineffectual.
     For it is only since he thought himself and family safe
     from the thunder of Heaven, that he dared to use his
     own thunder in destroying his innocent subjects.

Dr. Ingenhousz, however, was not so self-contained, and made such an angry
attack on Wilson that Franklin, who invariably relied in such cases upon
silence and the principle that Truth is a cat with nine lives to defend
him, laughingly remarked, "He seems as much heated about this _one point_,
as the Jansenists and Molinists were about the _five_." As for King George,
he had at least the satisfaction of realizing that his people still had a
ready fund of wit for timely use. One homely couplet of the period,
referring to Franklin's famous kite, ran in this way:

    "He with a kite drew lightning from the sky,
    And like a kite he pecked King George's eye."

Another more polished poet penned these neat lines:

    "While you, great George, for knowledge hunt,
    And sharp conductors change for blunt,
    The Empire's out of joint.
    Franklin another course pursues
    And all your thunder heedless views
    By keeping to the point."

If we may believe Franklin, Sir John held the efficacy of the healing art
in very moderate esteem. The reader has already been told of the humorous
manner in which he let it be known that, in his opinion, of the two
classes of practitioners, old women and regular physicians, the former had
done the most to save the honor of the profession. Franklin also informed
Dr. Rush that Sir John "once told him 92 fevers out of 100 cured
themselves, 4 were cured by Art, and 4 proved fatal." But many people must
have had a more favorable opinion of the professional value of Sir John
than Sir John himself had, for his "Conversations" were in high repute. On
this point, there is some evidence in a letter from Franklin to Dr. Thomas
Bond, who was desirous of giving his son Richard the benefit of a foreign
medical education. Referring to Sir John, Franklin wrote:

     Every Wednesday Evening he admits young Physicians and
     Surgeons to a Conversation at his House, which is
     thought very improving to them. I will endeavour to
     introduce your Son there when he comes to London. And
     to tell you frankly my Opinion, I suspect there is more
     valuable knowledge in Physic to be learnt from the
     honest candid Observations of an old Practitioner, who
     is past all desire of more Business, having made his
     Fortune, who has none of the Professional Interest in
     keeping up a Parade of Science to draw Pupils, and who
     by Experience has discovered the Inefficacy of most
     Remedies and Modes of Practice, than from all the
     formal Lectures of all the Universities upon Earth.

That Dr. John cured at least one patient, we are told by Dr. Rush on the
authority of Franklin, but it was Only himself of a tremor, and that by
simply ceasing to take snuff. Dr. Pringle and himself, Franklin told Dr.
Rush, observed that tremors of the hands were more frequent in France than
elsewhere, and probably from the excessive use of snuff. "He concluded,"
says Dr. Rush, "that there was no great advantage in using tobacco in any
way, for that he had kept company with persons who used it all his life,
and no one had ever advised him to use it. The Doctor in the 81st year of
his age declared he had never snuffed, chewed, or smoked."

Among the persons who sought Sir John's professional advice was Franklin
himself. It was in relation to a cutaneous trouble which vexed him for some
fourteen years, and broke out afresh when he was in his eighty-third year.
But the best medicine that Franklin ever obtained from Sir John was his
companionship upon two continental tours, one of which was inspired by the
latter's desire to drink the waters at Pyrmont, and the other by the
attractions of the French capital. When the news of Sir John's death
reached Franklin at Passy he paid the usual heartfelt tribute. "We have
lost our common Friend," he wrote to Jan Ingenhousz, "the excellent
Pringle. How many pleasing hours you and I have pass'd together in his

Another English physician, for whom Franklin entertained a feeling of deep
affection, was the Quaker Dr. John Fothergill. After the death of this
friend, in a letter to Dr. John Coakley Lettsom, still another friend of
his, and one of the famous English physicians of the eighteenth century, he
expressed this extraordinary opinion of Dr. Fothergill's worth: "If we may
estimate the goodness of a man by his disposition to do good, and his
constant endeavours and success in doing it, I can hardly conceive that a
better man has ever existed." No faint praise to be uttered by the founder
of the Junto and one who valued above all things the character of a doer of
good! Like Sir John Pringle, Dr. Fothergill belonged to the class of
physicians who pursued medicine, as if it were a mistress not to be wooed
except with the favor of the other members of the scientific sisterhood. He
was an ardent botanist, and his collection of botanical specimens and
paintings on vellum of rare plants was among the remarkable collections of
his age. Two of his correspondents were the Pennsylvania botanists, John
Bartram and Humphrey Marshall, who brought to his knowledge a flora in
many shining instances unknown to the woods and fields of the Old World.
His medical writings were held in high esteem, and were published after his
death under the editorial supervision of Dr. Lettsom.

As a practitioner, he was eminently successful, and numbered among his
patients many representatives of the most powerful and exclusive circles in
London. What the extent of his practice was we can infer from a question
put to him by Franklin in 1764.

     By the way [he asked], when do you intend to live?--_i.
     e._, to enjoy life. When will you retire to your villa,
     give yourself repose, delight in viewing the operations
     of nature in the vegetable creation, assist her in her
     works, get your ingenious friends at times about you,
     make them happy with your conversation, and enjoy
     theirs: or, if alone, amuse yourself with your books
     and elegant collections?

     To be hurried about perpetually from one sick chamber
     to another is not living. Do you please yourself with
     the fancy that you are doing good? You are mistaken.
     Half the lives you save are not worth saving, as being
     useless, and almost all the other half ought not to be
     saved, as being mischievous. Does your conscience never
     hint to you the impiety of being in constant warfare
     against the plans of Providence? Disease was intended
     as the punishment of intemperance, sloth, and other
     vices, and the example of that punishment was intended
     to promote and strengthen the opposite virtues.

All of which, of course, except the suggestion about retirement, which was
quite in keeping with Franklin's conception of a rational life, was nothing
more than humorous paradox on the part of a man who loved all his
fellow-creatures too much to despair of any of them.

When Franklin himself was seized with a grave attack of illness shortly
after his arrival in England on his first mission, Doctor Fothergill was
his physician, and seems to have cupped and physicked him with drastic
assiduity. The patient was not a very docile one, for he wrote to Deborah
that, too soon thinking himself well, he ventured out twice, and both times
got fresh cold, and fell down again; and that his "good doctor" grew very
angry with him for acting contrary to his cautions and directions, and
obliged him to promise more observance for the future. Always to Franklin
the Doctor remained the "good Doctor Fothergill." Even in a codicil to his
will, in bequeathing to one of his friends the silver cream pot given to
him by the doctor, with the motto "Keep bright the chain," he refers to him
by that designation.

Nor were his obligations as a patient the only obligations that Franklin
owed to this friend. When his early letters on electricity were sent over
to England, only to be laughed at in the first instance, they happened to
pass under the eye of the Doctor. He saw their merit, advised their
publication, and wrote the preface to the pamphlet in which they were
published by Cave. But the things for which Franklin valued the Doctor most
were his public spirit and philanthropy. He was well known in Philadelphia,
and, when Franklin arrived in London in 1757, he was actively assisted by
the Doctor in his effort to secure a settlement of the dispute over
taxation between the Pennsylvania Assembly and the Proprietaries.
Afterwards, when Franklin's second mission to England was coming to an end,
the Doctor was drawn deeply into a vain attempt made by Lord Howe and his
sister and David Barclay, another Quaker friend of Franklin, to compose the
American controversy by an agreement with Franklin. For this business,
among other reasons, because of "his daily Visits among the Great, in the
Practice of his Profession," of which Franklin speaks in his history of
these negotiations, he would have been a most helpful ally; if the quarrel
had not become so embittered. But, as it was, the knot, which the
negotiators were striving to disentangle, was too intricate for anything
but the edge of the sword. When the negotiations came to nothing, the good
Doctor, who knew the sentiments of "the Great" in London at that time, if
any private person did, had no advice to give to Franklin except, when he
returned to America, to get certain of the Doctor's friends in
Philadelphia, and two or three other persons together, and to inform them
that, whatever specious pretences were offered by the English ministry,
they were all hollow, and that to obtain a larger field, on which to fatten
a herd of worthless parasites, was all that was regarded. It was a bad day,
indeed, for England when one of the best men in the land could hold such

The silk experiment in Pennsylvania furnished still another congenial field
for the co-operation of Franklin and Doctor Fothergill; and, in a letter to
Franklin, the latter also declared in startlingly modern terms that, in the
warmth of his affection for mankind, he could wish to see "the institution
of a College of Justice, where the claims of sovereigns should be weighed,
an award given, and war only made on him who refused submission."

"Dr. Fothergill, who was among the best men I have known, and a great
promoter of useful projects," is the way in which Franklin alludes to the
Doctor in the _Autobiography_. He then states in the same connection the
plan that he submitted to the Doctor for "the more effectual cleaning and
keeping clean the streets of London and Westminster"; but this plan, though
not unworthy of the public zeal and ingenuity of its author, is too
embryonic, when contrasted with modern municipal methods, and too tamely
suggestive of the broom and dust-pan of ordinary domestic housekeeping, to
deserve detailed attention.

Franklin was eminently what Dr. Johnson called a "clubable" man. When in
England, he often dined at the London Coffee House in Ludgate Hill with
the group of scientific men and liberal clergymen, who frequented the
place, and of whom he spoke on one occasion as "that excellent Collection
of good Men, the Club at the _London_." He also sometimes dined at St.
Paul's Coffee House and the Dog Tavern on Garlick Hill, and with the
Society of Friends to the Cause of Liberty at Paul's Head Tavern, Cateaton
Street, where, upon every 4th day of November, the landing of King William
and the Glorious Revolution were enthusiastically toasted. When he ate or
drank at a club, he liked to do so in an atmosphere of free thought and
free speech. Religion, spiced with heresy, and Politics flavored with
liberalism, were the kinds of religion and politics that best suited his
predilections. It was at St. Paul's Coffee House that he became acquainted
with Dr. Richard Price, the celebrated clergyman and economist, who was
then preaching every Sunday afternoon at Newington Green, where Franklin
advised Sir John Pringle to go to hear in the Doctor a preacher of
_rational_ Christianity. It is probable that Sir John, in inquiring of
Franklin where he could go to hear such a preacher, was moved rather by
curiosity than piety; for Franklin wrote to Dr. Price: "At present I
believe he has no view of attending constantly anywhere, but now and then
only as it may suit his convenience."

The acquaintance between Franklin and Doctor Price, once formed, became a
deeply-rooted friendship, and on Franklin's part it was accompanied by a
degree of admiration for the Doctor's abilities which hurried him on one
occasion into language that had little in common with the sober language in
which his judgments were usually pronounced. Of Doctor Price's _Appeal to
the Public on the Subject of the National Debt_, he wrote to the author in
the most enthusiastic terms, "it being in my Opinion," he said,
"consider'g the profound Study, & steady Application of Mind that the
Work required, & the sound Judgment with which it is executed, and its
great and important Utility to the Nation, the foremost Production of human
Understanding, that this Century has afforded us." And to Franklin on one
occasion this friend wrote that he considered his friendship one of the
honors and blessings of his life.

When the American controversy arose, Dr. Price zealously espoused the cause
of the Colonies, and this still further strengthened the friendship between
the two. For his _Observations on Civil Liberty and the Justice and Policy
of the War with America_, the City of London presented him with the freedom
of the city in a gold box of fifty pounds value; and so outspoken was he in
the expression of his political convictions that Franklin wrote to John
Winthrop in 1777 that "his Friends, on his Acct, were under some
Apprehensions from the Violence of Government, in consequence of his late
excellent Publications in favour of Liberty." Indeed, so near was he to
making the American cause absolutely his own that Congress, while the
American War was still raging, even invited him to become an American
citizen and to assist in regulating the American finances, but that was one
step further than he was willing to go. In a letter to Joseph Priestley,
shortly after the Battle of Bunker's Hill, Franklin makes an amusing
allusion to the mathematical genius of Dr. Price which was equal to the
abstrusest problems involved in the calculation of annuities.

     Britain [he said], at the expense of three millions,
     has killed one hundred and fifty Yankees this campaign,
     which is twenty thousand pounds a head; and at Bunker's
     Hill she gained a mile of ground, half of which she
     lost again by our taking post on Ploughed Hill. During
     the same time sixty thousand children have been born in
     America. From these _data_ his (Dr. Price's)
     mathematical head will easily calculate the time and
     expense necessary to kill us all, and conquer our whole

Always in the American controversy, Franklin relied upon the loins as well
as the hands of the Colonists for the final victory.

While mentioning Priestley, we might recall the compliment in a letter from
Franklin to Dr. Price, in which the former brought the names of Priestley
and Price into a highly honorable conjunction. Speaking of dissensions in
the Royal Society, he said, "Disputes even on small Matters often produce
Quarrels for want of knowing how to differ decently; an Art which it is
said scarce anybody possesses but yourself and Dr. Priestley." Dr. Price
was one of the habitués of the London Coffee House, and, in Franklin's
letters to him from Passy, there are repeated references to the happy hours
that the writer had spent there. "I never think of the Hours I so happily
spent in that Company," he said in one letter, "without regretting that
they are never to be repeated: For I see no Prospect of an End to the
unhappy War in my Time." In another letter, he concluded with a heartfelt
wish that he might embrace Dr. Price once more, and enjoy his sweet society
in peace among his honest, worthy, ingenious friends at the _London_. In
another letter, after peace was assured, he said that he longed to see and
be merry with the Club, and, in a still later letter, he told Dr. Price
that he might "pop" in some Thursday evening when they least expected him.
In enclosing, on one occasion, to Dr. Price a copy of his Rabelaisian _jeu
d'esprit_ on "Perfumes," which was intended also for the eye of Priestley,
Franklin cracks an obscene joke at the expense of Priestley's famous
researches with regard to gases, but, when Dr. Price states in his reply,
"We have been entertained with the pleasantry of it, and the ridicule it
contains," we are again reminded that the eighteenth century was not the

Dr. Price was one of the correspondents to whom Franklin expounded his
theory that England's only chance for self-reformation was to render all
places unprofitable and the King too poor to give bribes and pensions.

     Till this is done [he said], which can only be by a
     Revolution (and I think you have not Virtue enough left
     to procure one), your Nation will always be plundered,
     and obliged to pay by Taxes the Plunderers for
     Plundering and Ruining. Liberty and Virtue therefore
     join in the call, _COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE_!

In a later letter, he returns to the same subject in these words so
pregnant with meaning for a student of the political conditions which
palsied the influence of Chatham and Burke in their effort to avert the
American War:

     As it seems to be a settled Point at present, that the
     Minister must govern the Parliament, who are to do
     everything he would have done; and he is to bribe them
     to do this, and the People are to furnish the Money to
     pay these Bribes; the Parliament appears to me a very
     expensive Machine for Government, and I apprehend the
     People will find out in time, that they may as well be
     governed, and that it will be much cheaper to be
     governed, by the Minister alone; no Parliament being
     preferable to the present.

There are also some thoughtful observations in one of Franklin's letters to
Dr. Price on the limited influence of Roman and Grecian oratory, as
compared with the influence of the modern newspaper. "We now find," he
observed, "that it is not only right to strike while the iron is hot, but
that it may be very practicable to heat it by continually striking."

His last letter to Dr. Price was written less than a year before his own
death. It refers to the death of the Bishop of St. Asaph's, and once more
there is a mournful sigh from the Tree of Existence.

     My Friends drop off one after another, when my Age and
     Infirmities prevent my making new Ones [he groaned], &
     if I still retained the necessary Activity and Ability,
     I hardly see among the existing Generation where I
     could make them of equal Goodness: So that the longer I
     live I must expect to be very wretched. As we draw
     nearer the Conclusion of Life, Nature furnishes with
     more Helps to wean us from it, among which one of the
     most powerful is the Loss of such dear Friends.

With Dr. Joseph Priestley, the famous clergyman and natural philosopher,
Franklin was very intimate. The discoveries of Priestley, especially his
discovery that carbonic acid gas is imbibed by vegetation, awakened
Franklin's keenest interest, and, some years before Priestley actually
received a medal from the Royal Society for his scientific achievements,
Franklin earnestly, though vainly, endeavored to obtain one for him. "I
find that you have set all the Philosophers of Europe at Work upon Fix'd
Air," he said in one of his letters to Priestley, "and it is with great
Pleasure I observe how high you stand in their Opinion; for I enjoy my
Friend's fame as my own." And no one who knows his freedom from all petty,
carking feelings of every sort, such as envy and jealousy, can doubt for a
moment that he did. For a time, fixed air aroused so much speculation that
it was thought that it might even be a remedy for putrid fevers and
cancers. The absorption of carbonic acid gas by vegetation is all simple
enough now, but it was not so simple when Priestley wrote to Franklin that
he had discovered that even aquatic plants imbibe pure air, and emit it as
excrementitious to them, in a dephlogisticated state. On one occasion,
Franklin paid his fellow-philosopher the compliment of saying that he knew
of no philosopher who started so much good game for the hunters after
knowledge as he did.

For a time Priestley enjoyed the patronage of Lord Shelburne, who, desirous
of having the company of a man of general learning to read with him, and
superintend the education of his children, took Priestley from his
congregation at Leeds, settled three hundred pounds a year upon him for ten
years, and two hundred pounds for life, with a house to live in near his
country seat. So Franklin stated in a letter to John Winthrop, when
Priestley was engaged in the task of putting Lord Shelburne's great library
into order. Subsequently patron and client separated amicably, but, before
they did, Priestley consulted Franklin as to whether he should go on with
the arrangement. The latter in a few judicious sentences counselled him to
do so until the end of the term of ten years, and, by way of illustrating
the frequent and troublesome changes, that human beings make without
amendment, and often for the worse, told this story of his youth:

     In my Youth, I was a Passenger in a little Sloop,
     descending the River Delaware. There being no Wind, we
     were obliged, when the Ebb was spent, to cast anchor,
     and wait for the next. The Heat of the Sun on the
     Vessel was excessive, the Company Strangers to me, and
     not very agreeable. Near the river Side I saw what I
     took to be a pleasant green Meadow, in the middle of
     which was a large shady Tree, where it struck my Fancy
     I could sit and read, (having a Book in my Pocket,) and
     pass the time agreeably till the tide turned. I
     therefore prevail'd with the Captain to put me ashore.
     Being landed, I found the greatest part of my Meadow
     was really a Marsh, in crossing which, to come at my
     Tree, I was up to my knees in Mire; and I had not
     placed myself under its Shade five Minutes, before the
     Muskitoes in Swarms found me out, attack'd my Legs,
     Hands, and Face, and made my Reading and my Rest
     impossible; so that I return'd to the Beach, and
     call'd for the Boat to come and take me aboard again,
     where I was oblig'd to bear the Heat I had strove to
     quit, and also the Laugh of the Company. Similar Cases
     in the Affairs of Life have since frequently fallen
     under my Observation.

Deterrent as was the advice, pointed by such a graphic story, Priestley did
not take it, and, fortunately for him, the pleasant green meadow and large
shady tree to which he retired did not prove such a deceptive mirage. After
the separation, Lord Shelburne endeavored to induce him to renew their
former relation, but he declined.

Priestley was one of the witnesses of the baiting, to which Franklin was
subjected at the Cockpit, on account of the Hutchinson letters, on the
famous occasion, of which it could be well said by every thoughtful
Englishman a little later in the words of the ballad of Chevy-Chase,

    "The child may rue that is unborne
    The hunting of that day."

Or "the speaking" of that day, as Lord Campbell has parodied the lines.

Priestley was also among those eye-witnesses of the scene, who testified to
the absolutely impassive countenance with which Franklin bore the ordeal.
As he left the room, however, he pressed Priestley's hand in a way that
indicated much feeling. The next day, they breakfasted together, and
Franklin told Priestley "that, if he had not considered the thing for which
he had been so much insulted, as one of the best actions of his life, and
what he should certainly do again in the same circumstances, he could not
have supported it."

To Priestley also the world was first indebted for knowledge of the fact
that, when Franklin afterwards came to sign in France the Treaty of
Alliance between that country and the United States, he took pains to wear
the same suit of spotted Manchester velvet that he wore when he was
treated with such indecency at the Cockpit.

From France Franklin wrote to Priestley a letter expressing the horror--for
no other term is strong enough to describe the sentiment--in which he held
the unnatural war between Great Britain and her revolted Colonies.

     The Hint you gave me jocularly [he said], that you did
     not quite despair of the Philosopher's Stone, draws
     from me a Request, that, when you have found it, you
     will take care to lose it again; for I believe in my
     conscience, that Mankind are wicked enough to continue
     slaughtering one another as long as they can find Money
     to pay the Butchers. But, of all the Wars in my time,
     this on the part of England appears to me the
     wickedest; having no Cause but Malice against Liberty,
     and the Jealousy of Commerce. And I think the Crime
     seems likely to meet with its proper Punishment; a
     total loss of her own Liberty, and the Destruction of
     her own Commerce.

But Franklin was not too incensed to have his joke in this same letter over
even such a grim subject for merriment as powder. "When I was at the camp
before Boston," he declared, "the Army had not 5 Rounds of Powder a Man.
This was kept a Secret even from our People. The World wonder'd that we so
seldom fir'd a Cannon; we could not afford it."

Another English friend of Franklin was Benjamin Vaughan, the son of a West
Indian planter, and at one time the private secretary of Lord Shelburne.
His family was connected with the House of Bedford, and his wife, Sarah
Manning, was an aunt of the late Cardinal Manning. To Vaughan the
reputation of Franklin is doubly indebted. In 1779, he brought out a new
edition of Franklin's writings, and it was partly the entreaties of Abel
James and himself which induced Franklin to continue the _Autobiography_,
after work on it had been long suspended by its author because of the
demands of the Revolution on his time. The spirit, in which the edition of
Franklin's writings was prepared, found expression in the preface. "Can
_Englishmen_," Vaughan asked, "read these things and not sigh at reflecting
that the _country_ which could produce their author, was once without
controversy _their own_!"

Before Franklin left France he longed to pay another visit to England, and
this matter is touched upon in a letter to Vaughan which sheds a sidelight
upon the intimacy which existed between the two men.

     By my doubts of the propriety of my going soon to
     London, [he said], I meant no reflection on my friends
     or yours. If I had any call there besides the pleasure
     of seeing those whom I love, I should have no doubts.
     If I live to arrive there, I shall certainly embrace
     your kind invitation, and take up my abode with you.

Some of the sagest observations ever made by Franklin are found in his
letters to Vaughan, and several of his happy stories. The following
reflections, prompted by English restraints upon commerce, were not
intended to be taken literally, but they contain profound insight enough to
merit transcription.

     It is wonderful how preposterously the affairs of this
     world are managed. Naturally one would imagine, that
     the interest of a few individuals should give way to
     general interest; but individuals manage their affairs
     with so much more application, industry, and address,
     than the public do theirs, that general interest most
     commonly gives way to particular. We assemble
     parliaments and councils, to have the benefit of their
     collected wisdom, but we necessarily have, at the same
     time, the inconvenience of their collected passions,
     prejudices, and private interests. By the help of
     these, artful men overpower their wisdom, and dupe its
     possessors; and if we may judge by the acts, _arrêts_,
     and edicts, all the world over, for regulating
     commerce, an assembly of great men is the greatest fool
     upon earth.

When Franklin sat down to write this letter, Vaughan had asked him what
remedy he had for the growing luxury of his country which gave so much
offence to all English travellers without exception. In replying to this
rather tactless question, Franklin's pen ran on until he had completed not
so much a letter as an economic essay.

     Our People [he begins] are hospitable, and have indeed
     too much Pride in displaying upon their Tables before
     Strangers the Plenty and Variety that our Country
     affords. They have the Vanity, too, of sometimes
     borrowing one another's Plate to entertain more
     splendidly. Strangers being invited from House to
     House, and meeting every Day with a Feast, imagine what
     they see is the ordinary Way of living of all the
     Families where they dine; when perhaps each Family
     lives a Week after upon the Remains of the Dinner
     given. It is, I own, a Folly in our People to give
     _such Offence to English Travellers_. The first part of
     the Proverb is thereby verified, that _Fools make
     Feasts_. I wish in this Case the other were as true,
     _and Wise Men eat them_. These Travellers might, one
     would think, find some Fault they could more decently
     reproach us with, than that of our excessive Civility
     to them as Strangers.

With this introduction, he proceeds to say a good word for luxury. "Is not
the Hope of one day being able to purchase and enjoy Luxuries a great Spur
to Labour and Industry?" he asked. And this question brought up one of the
inevitable stories.

     The Skipper of a Shallop, employed between Cape May and
     Philadelphia, had done us some small Service, for which
     he refused Pay. My Wife, understanding that he had a
     Daughter sent her as a Present a new-fashioned Cap.
     Three Years After, this Skipper being at my House with
     an old Farmer of Cape May, his Passenger, he mentioned
     the Cap, and how much his Daughter had been pleased
     with it. "But," says he, "it proved a dear Cap to our
     Congregation." "How so?" "When my Daughter appeared in
     it at Meeting, it was so much admired, that all the
     Girls resolved to get such Caps from Philadelphia, and
     my Wife and I computed, that the whole could not have
     cost less than a hundred Pound." "True," says the
     Farmer, "but you do not tell all the Story. I think the
     Cap was nevertheless an Advantage to us, for it was the
     first thing that put our Girls upon Knitting worsted
     Mittens for Sale at Philadelphia, that they might have
     wherewithal to buy Caps and Ribbands there, and you
     know that that Industry has continued, and is likely to
     continue and increase to a much greater Value, and
     answer better Purposes." Upon the whole, I was more
     reconciled to this little Piece of Luxury, since not
     only the Girls were made happier by having fine Caps,
     but the Philadelphians by the Supply of warm Mittens.

Then he argues still further as follows that luxury may not always be such
an evil as it seems:

     A Shilling spent idly by a Fool, may be picked up by a
     Wiser Person, who knows better what to do with it. It
     is therefore not lost. A vain, silly Fellow builds a
     fine House, furnishes it richly, lives in it
     expensively, and in few years ruins himself; but the
     Masons, Carpenters, Smiths, and other honest Tradesmen
     have been by his Employ assisted in maintaining and
     raising their Families; the Farmer has been paid for
     his labour, and encouraged, and the Estate is now in
     better Hands.

There were exceptional cases, of course. "If there be a Nation, for
Instance, that exports its Beef and Linnen, to pay for its Importation of
Claret and Porter, while a great Part of its People live upon Potatoes, and
wear no Shirts, wherein does it differ from the Sot, who lets his Family
starve, and sells his Clothes to buy Drink." He meant Ireland, it is
needless to add. A little in this way, he confessed, was the exchange of
American victuals for West Indian rum and sugar.

The existence of so much want and misery in the world, he thought, was due
to the employment of men and women in works that produce neither the
necessaries nor the conveniences of life. Such people, aided by those who
do nothing, consume the necessaries raised by the laborious. This idea, he
developed with his inborn lucidity, ending, however, of course, with the
reflection that we should naturally expect from a man, who was so
thoroughly in touch with his kind, that, upon the whole, the quantity of
industry and prudence among mankind exceeded the quantity of idleness and

This "long, rambling Letter" he called it--this "brief, pointed and
masterly letter," we term it--concludes quite in the style of one of Poor
Richard's dissertations:

     Almost all the Parts of our Bodies require some
     Expence. The Feet demand Shoes; the Legs, Stockings;
     the rest of the Body, Clothing; and the Belly, a good
     deal of Victuals. _Our_ Eyes, tho' exceedingly useful,
     ask, when reasonable, only the cheap Assistance of
     Spectacles, which could not much impair our Finances.
     But _the Eyes of other People_ are the Eyes that ruin
     us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither
     fine Clothes, fine Houses, nor fine Furniture.

Another letter to Vaughan is really an essay on the Criminal Laws and the
practice of privateering. And a wise, humane and sprightly essay it is,
fully worthy of a man, who was entirely too far in advance of his age to
approve the savage English laws, which hanged a thief for stealing a horse,
and had no better answer to make to the culprit, when he pleaded that it
was hard to hang a man for _only_ stealing a horse, than the reply of Judge
Burnet: "Man, thou art not to be hanged _only_ for stealing, but that
horses may not be stolen." Not unworthy either was this essay of a man
whose benevolence was too clear-sighted and generous to be cheated by the
pretence that the practice of privateering has its root in anything better
than the rapacity of the highwayman. A highwayman, he said, was as much a
robber, when he plundered in a gang, as when single; and a nation, that
made an unjust war, was only a great gang. How could England, which had
commissioned no less than seven hundred gangs of privateering robbers, he
asked, have the face to condemn the crime of robbery in individuals, and
hang up twenty criminals in a morning. It naturally put one in mind of a
Newgate anecdote. "One of the Prisoners complain'd, that in the Night
somebody had taken his Buckles out of his Shoes; 'What, the Devil!' says
another, 'have we then _Thieves_ among us? It must not be suffered, let us
search out the Rogue, and pump him to death."

Vaughan was a prolix correspondent, and in reading his letters we cannot
but be reminded at times of the question put to him by Franklin, when
inveighing against the artifices adopted by booksellers for the purpose of
padding books. After remarking that they were puffed up to such an extent
that the selling of paper seemed the object, and printing on it, only the
pretence, he said, "You have a law, I think, against butchers blowing of
veal to make it look fatter; why not one against booksellers' blowing of
books to make them look bigger."

Vaughan was among the friends who did not fail to hasten to Southampton
when Franklin touched there on his return from France to America.

In what affectionate esteem Franklin held his two English friends, Dr. John
Hawkesworth, the author and writer of oratorios, and John Stanley, the
blind musician and organist of the Society of the Inner Temple, we have
already seen. Stanley composed the music for Dr. Hawkesworth's oratorios
_Zimri_ and _The Fall of Egypt_, and like music and words the two friends
themselves were blended in the mind of Franklin. Writing in the latter
years of his life to another English friend of his, Thomas Jordan, the
brewer, who had recently sent him a cask of porter, he had this to say
about them, in connection with the two satellites of Georgium Sidus, which
Herschel had just discovered.

     Let us hope, my friend, that, when free from these
     bodily embarrassments, we may roam together through
     some of the systems he has explored, conducted by some
     of our old companions already acquainted with them.
     Hawkesworth will enliven our progress with his
     cheerful, sensible converse, and Stanley accompany the
     music of the spheres.

Several times, in his letter, Franklin refers to Hawkesworth as the "good
Doctor Hawkesworth," and it was from him that he learned to call Strahan

Another English friend of Franklin was John Sargent, a London merchant, a
director of the Bank of England, and a member of Parliament. The friendship
was shared by Mrs. Sargent, "whom I love very much," Franklin said in one
of his letters to her husband. After his return from his second mission to
England, he wrote to Sargent, asking him to receive the balance due him by
Messrs. Browns and Collinson, and keep it for him or his children. "It may
possibly," he declared, "soon be all I shall have left: as my American
Property consists chiefly of Houses in our Seaport Towns, which your
Ministry have begun to burn, and I suppose are wicked enough to burn them
all." In connection with Sargent, it may also be mentioned that he was one
of the applicants with Franklin for the Ohio grant, and that it was at his
country seat at Halstead, in Kent, that Lord Stanhope called for the
purpose of taking Franklin to Hayes, the country seat of Chatham, where
Chatham and Franklin met for the first time.

Another English friend of Franklin was John Canton, who was, however,
rather a scientific than a social comrade, though a fellow-tourist of his
on one of his summer excursions; and still another was Dr. Alexander Small,
for whom he cherished a feeling of real personal affection. In one letter
to Small, he tells him that he had found relief from the gout by exposing
his naked foot, when he was in bed, and thereby promoting the process of
transpiration. He gave the fact, he said, to Small, in exchange for his
receipt for tartar emetic, because the commerce of philosophy as well as
other commerce was best promoted by taking care to make returns. In another
letter to Small, there is a growl for the American Loyalists.

     As to the Refugees [he observed], whom you think we
     were so impolitic in rejecting, I do not find that they
     are miss'd here, or that anybody regrets their Absence.
     And certainly they must be happier where they are,
     under the Government they admire; and be better
     receiv'd among a People, whose Cause they espous'd and
     fought for, than among those who cannot so soon have
     forgotten the Destruction of their Habitations, and the
     spilt Blood of their dearest Friends and near

Then there is a reference in this letter to the learned and ingenious
friends, who had left Dr. Small and himself to join the majority in the
world of spirits.

     Every one of them [he said] now knows more than all of
     us they have left behind. It is to me a comfortable
     Reflection, that, since we must live forever in a
     future State, there is a sufficient Stock of Amusement
     in reserve for us, to be found in constantly learning
     something new to Eternity, the present Quantity of
     human Ignorance infinitely exceeding that of human
     Knowledge. Adieu, my dear Friend, and believe me, in
     whatever World, yours most affectionately.

In a subsequent letter, there is a softer word for the Loyalists. He
believed, he said, that fear and error rather than malice occasioned their
desertion of their country's cause and the adoption of the King's. The
public resentment against them was then so far abated that none, who asked
leave to return, were refused, and many of them then lived in America much
at their ease. But he thought that the politicians, who were a sort of
people that loved to fortify themselves in their projects by precedent,
were perhaps waiting, before they ventured to propose the restoration of
the confiscated estates of the Loyalists, to see whether the English
Government would restore the forfeited estates in Scotland to the Scotch,
those in Ireland to the Irish and those in England to the Welsh! He was
glad that the Loyalists, who had not returned to America, had received, or
were likely to receive, some compensation for their losses from England,
but it did not seem so clearly consistent with the wisdom of Parliament for
it to provide such compensation on behalf of the King, who had seduced
these Loyalists by his proclamations. Some mad King, in the future, might
set up such action on the part of Parliament as a precedent, as was
realized by the Council of Brutes in the old fable, a copy of which he
enclosed. The fable, of course, was not an old fable at all, but one of his
own productions, in which the horse with the "boldness and freedom that
became the nobleness of his nature," succeeded in convincing the council of
the beasts, against the views of the wolves and foxes, that the lion should
bestow no reward upon the mongrels, who, sprung in part from wolves and
foxes, and corrupted by royal promises of great rewards, had deserted the
honest dogs, when the lion, notwithstanding the attachment of these dogs to
him, had, under the influence of evil counsellors, contracted an aversion
to them, condemned them unheard and ordered his tigers, leopards and
panthers to attack and destroy them. In this letter, there is another
reference to the reformed prayer-book which Dr. Small and good Mrs.
Baldwin had done him the honor, as we have seen, to approve. The things of
this world, he said, took up too much of the little time left to him for
him to undertake anything like a reformation in matters of religion. When
we can sow good seed, we should, however, do it, and await with patience,
when we can do no better, Nature's time for their sprouting.

A later letter assured Dr. Small that Franklin still loved England, and
wished it prosperity, but it had only another growl for the Loyalists.
Someone had said, he declared, that we are commanded to forgive our
enemies, but that we are nowhere commanded to forgive our friends. The
Loyalists, after uniting with the savages for the purpose of burning the
houses of the American Whigs, and murdering and scalping their wives and
children, had left them for the Government of their King in England and
Nova Scotia. "We do not miss them," he said, "nor wish their return; nor do
we envy them their present happiness."[36]

This letter also mildly deprecates the honor that Small did him in naming
him with Timoleon. "I am like him only in retiring from my public labours,"
he declared, "which indeed my stone, and other infirmities of age, have
made indispensably necessary."

The enthusiasm of the French people had drawn so freely upon the heroes of
antiquity for a parallel to him that Dr. Small, perhaps, had to put up
with Timoleon in default of a better classical congener.

Other English friends of Franklin were John Alleyne, Edward Bridgen, Edmund
Burke, Mrs. Thompson, John Whitehurst, Anthony Tissington, Thomas Viny and
Caleb Whitefoord. Our attention has already been called to his pithy
reflections on early marriages in one of his letters to John Alleyne.

     Treat your Wife [he said, in the concluding sentences
     of this admirable letter] always with Respect; it will
     procure Respect to you, not from her only but from all
     that observe it. Never use a slighting Expression to
     her, even in jest, for Slights in Jest, after frequent
     bandyings, are apt to end in angry earnest. Be studious
     in your Profession, and you will be learned. Be
     industrious and frugal, and you will be rich. Be sober
     and temperate, and you will be healthy. Be in general
     virtuous, and you will be happy. At least, you will, by
     such Conduct, stand the best Chance for such

In another letter to Alleyne, with his unerring good sense, he makes short
work of the perverse prejudice against intermarriage with a deceased wife's
sister which was destined to die so hard in the English mind.

To Edward Bridgen, a merchant of London, Franklin referred in a letter to
Governor Alexander Martin of North Carolina as "a particular Friend of mine
and a zealous one of the American Cause." The object of the letter was to
reclaim from confiscation property in that state belonging to Bridgen. And
it was to Bridgen that Franklin made the suggestion that, instead of
repeating continually upon every half penny the dull story that everybody
knew (and that it would have been no loss to mankind if nobody had ever
known) that George III. was King of Great Britain, France and Ireland,
etc., etc., there should be inscribed on the coin some important proverb
of Solomon, some pious moral, prudential or economical precept, calculated
to leave an impression upon the mind, especially of young persons, such as
on some, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom"; on others,
"Honesty is the best Policy"; on others, "He that by the plow would thrive,
himself must either hold or drive"; on others, "Keep thy Shop, and thy Shop
will keep thee"; on others, "A penny saved is a penny got"; on others, "He
that buys what he has no need of, will soon be forced to sell his
necessaries"; and on others, "Early to bed and early to rise, will make a
man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

With Edmund Burke Franklin does not appear to have been intimate, but they
knew each other well enough for the former in a letter to the latter to
term the friendship between them an "old friendship." It was Burke who
remarked, when Franklin was examined before the House of Commons on
American affairs, that it was as if a school-master was being catechized by
his pupils. For every reason, the judgment of so great a man about such an
incident has its value, but among other reasons because Burke was accounted
one of the best-informed men in England in relation to American affairs.

The only glimpse we obtain of Mrs. Thompson is in a letter written to her
by Franklin from Paris, shortly after his arrival in France in 1776, but
the raillery of this letter is too familiar in tone to have marked the
course of anything but real intimacy.

     You are too early, _Hussy_ [he wrote], (as well as too
     saucy,) in calling me _Rebel_; you should wait for the
     Event, which will determine whether it is a _Rebellion_
     or only a _Revolution_. Here the Ladies are more civil;
     they call us _les Insurgens_, a Character that usually
     pleases them: And methinks all other Women who smart,
     or have smarted, under the Tyranny of a bad Husband,
     ought to be fixed in Revolution Principles, and act

Then Mrs. Thompson is told some gossipy details about a common friend whom
Franklin had seen during the preceding spring at New York, and these are
succeeded by some gay sallies with regard to Mrs. Thompson's restlessness.

     Pray learn [he said], if you have not already learnt,
     like me, to be pleased with other People's Pleasures,
     and happy with their Happiness, when none occur of your
     own; and then perhaps you will not so soon be weary of
     the Place you chance to be in, and so fond of Rambling
     to get rid of your _Ennui_. I fancy you have hit upon
     the right Reason of your being Weary of St. Omer's,
     viz. that you are out of Temper, which is the effect of
     full Living and Idleness. A Month in Bridewell, beating
     Hemp, upon Bread and Water, would give you Health and
     Spirits, and subsequent Cheerfulness and Contentment
     with every other Situation. I prescribe that Regimen
     for you, my dear, in pure good will, without a Fee. And
     let me tell you, if you do not get into Temper, neither
     Brussels nor Lisle will suit you. I know nothing of the
     Price of Living in either of those Places; but I am
     sure a single Woman, as you are, might with Economy
     upon two hundred Pounds a year maintain herself
     comfortably anywhere, and me into the Bargain. Do not
     invite me in earnest, however, to come and live with
     you; for, being posted here, I ought not to comply, and
     I am not sure I should be able to refuse.

This letter was written shortly after Franklin's arrival in France, but he
had already caught the infection of French gallantry. It closes with a
lifelike portrait of himself.

     I know you wish you could see me [he said], but, as you
     can't, I will describe myself to you. Figure me in your
     mind as jolly as formerly, and as strong and hearty,
     only a few years older; very plainly dress'd, wearing
     my thin gray strait hair, that peeps out under my only
     Coiffure, a fine Fur Cap, which comes down my Forehead
     almost to my Spectacles. Think how this must appear
     among the Powder'd Heads of Paris! I wish every
     gentleman and Lady in France would only be so obliging
     as to follow my Fashion, comb their own Heads as I do
     mine, dismiss their _Friseurs_, and pay me half the
     Money they paid to them. You see, the gentry might well
     afford this, and I could then enlist those _Friseurs_,
     who are at least 100,000, and with the Money I would
     maintain them, make a Visit with them to England, and
     dress the Heads of your Ministers and Privy
     Counsellors; which I conceive to be at present _un peu
     dérangées_. Adieu, Madcap; and believe me ever, your
     affectionate Friend and humble Servant.

John Whitehurst, who was a maker of watches and philosophical instruments,
and the author of an _Inquiry into the Original State and Formation of the
Earth_, and his friend, Anthony Tissington, were residents of Derbyshire.
Some of Whitehurst's letters to Franklin are still in existence, but none
from Franklin to Whitehurst are. A letter from Franklin to Tissington has
preserved one of the writer's characteristic stories. After speaking of the
rheumatic pains, to which Mrs. Tissington was subject, he said:

     'Tis a most wicked Distemper, & often puts me in mind
     of the Saying of a Scotch Divine to some of his
     Brethren who were complaining that their Flocks had of
     late been infected with _Arianism_ and _Socinianism_.
     Mine, says he, is infected with a worse ism than either
     of those.--Pray, Brother, what can that be?--It is, the

Thomas Viny was a wheel manufacturer of Tenterden, Kent. In a letter to
him, Franklin tells him that he cannot without extreme reluctance think of
using any arguments to persuade him to remove to America, because of the
pain that the removal would occasion to Viny's brother. Possibly, however,
he added, Viny might afterwards judge it not amiss, when the many children
that he was likely to have, were grown up, to plant one of them in America,
where he might prepare an asylum for the rest should any great calamity,
which might God avert, befall England. A man he knew, who had a number of
sons, used to say that he chose to settle them at some distance from each
other, for he thought they throve better, as he remarked that cabbages,
growing too near together, were not so likely to come to a head.

     I shall be asleep before that time [Franklin
     continued], otherwise he might expect and command my
     best Advice and Assistance. But as the Ancients who
     knew not how to write had a Method of transmitting
     Friendships to Posterity; the Guest who had been
     hospitably entertain'd in a strange Country breaking a
     Stick with every one who did him a kindness; and the
     Producing such a Tally at any Time afterwards, by a
     Descendant of the Host, to a Son or Grandson of the
     Guest, was understood as a good Claim to special Regard
     besides the Common Rights of Hospitality: So if this
     Letter should happen to be preserv'd, your Son may
     produce it to mine as an Evidence of the Good will that
     once subsisted between their Fathers, as an
     Acknowledgment of the Obligations you laid me under by
     your many Civilities when I was in your Country and a
     Claim to all the Returns due from me if I had been

Another letter from Franklin to Viny was written at Passy. He joined most
heartily he said with Viny in his prayers that the Almighty, who had
favored the just cause, would perfect his work, and establish freedom in
the New World as an asylum for those of the Old who deserved it. He thought
the war a detestable one, and grieved much at the mischief and misery it
was occasioning to many; his only consolation being that he did all in his
power to prevent it. What a pleasure it would be to him on his return to
America to see his old friend and his children settled there! "I hope,"
Franklin concluded, "he will find Vines and Fig-trees there for all of
them, under which we may sit and converse, enjoying Peace and Plenty, a
good Government, good Laws, and Liberty, without which Men lose half their

Caleb Whitefoord resided at No. 8 Craven Street, London, or next door to
Mrs. Stevenson's, where Franklin resided during his two missions to
England, and the friendship between Franklin and himself, though very
cordial on Whitefoord's part, would seem to have been on Franklin's part,
though cordial, the friendship mainly of mere propinquity.[37]

Far more significant were the ties which bound Franklin to such English
friends as Peter Collinson, the Rev. George Whitefield, Lord Le Despencer,
James Hutton, David Hartley and George Whatley.

Peter Collinson was a London mercer who had a considerable correspondence
with America. He not only enjoyed an acquaintance with men of prominence
and influence in the Colonies, but he earnestly interested himself in
promoting the production of American flax, hemp, silk and wine. He was a
fellow of the Royal Society, besides being one of the founders of the
Society of Antiquaries, and it was directly due to the electric tube sent
over by him to the Library Company of Philadelphia that Franklin entered
upon those experiments in electricity which he communicated to Collinson in
a series of memorable letters, that brought lasting renown to their author
when given to the world by Collinson. In a letter to Michael Collinson,
Franklin speaks of Peter Collinson as our "dear departed Friend," and pays
a feeling tribute to his unselfish patronage of the Library at
Philadelphia. He alludes to the valuable presents made to the Library by
Collinson and others, whose generosity had been kindled by Collinson's
zeal, and he states the remarkable fact that for more than thirty years
successively Collinson had participated in the annual selection of books
for the Library, and had shouldered the whole burden of buying them in
London, and shipping them to Philadelphia without ever charging or even
accepting any consideration for his trouble. Nay more, during the same
time, he had transmitted to the directors of the Library Company the
earliest account of every new European improvement in Agriculture and the
Arts, or discovery in Philosophy. Curious in botany as Collinson may have
been, it is not hazardous to say that he never gathered or sowed any seed
more fruitful than these benefactions, and we can readily understand how
deeply his friendship must have been cherished by a spirit so congenial
with his as that of Franklin. They were friends before they ever met, but
it was not until Franklin arrived in London on his first mission to England
that they greeted each other face to face. Franklin's first letter to
America, written the day after he reached London, was hastily penned at
Collinson's house, and, the next day, John Hanbury, the great Virginia
merchant, by an arrangement with Collinson, called for Franklin in his
carriage, and conveyed him to the house of Lord Granville for an interview
with that nobleman. The letters from Franklin to Collinson on the subject
of electricity are, we hardly need say, the most important of the former's
letters to him, but very valuable, too, are some of his observations in
other letters to his correspondent on political conditions in Pennsylvania
and the relations between the Colonies and the mother country. To the
scientific letters and to these observations we shall have occasion to
revert further on. Beyond a reference to some black silk, sent by Collinson
to Deborah, with a generous disregard of the fact that the fowl meadow
grass seed that Franklin had sent to him from America never came up, the
correspondence between Collinson and Franklin is marked by few intimate
features. It was, however, on the back of a letter from Franklin to
Collinson, in which the former condoled with the latter on the loss of his
wife, that this good man, for such we must believe Collinson to have been,
indorsed these singular comments, the offspring probably of purely morbid

     There was no occasion of any Phylosophy on this ever to
     be lamented occasion. Peter Collinson had few feelings
     but for Himself. The same Principle that led him to
     deprive his son of his Birthright when that son lay in
     the Agonies of Death and knew not what he put his hand
     to, supported Peter Collinson in the loss of the best
     of Women in a manner that did no Honour to his
     Feelings, his Gratitude or his Humanity.

The eye of the reader has already been drawn to the Rev. George Whitefield,
whose eloquence, we are told by Franklin in the _Autobiography_, "had a
wonderful power over the hearts and purses of his hearers." After the death
of Whitefield, Franklin paid this handsome tribute to him in a letter to
Robert Morris and Thomas Leach. "I knew him intimately upwards of thirty
years. His Integrity, Disinterestedness, and indefatigable Zeal in
prosecuting every good Work, I have never seen equalled, I shall never see
exceeded." To Franklin, too, we are indebted for a striking description of
his characteristics as an orator, when he came over to Philadelphia from
Ireland, and, after being at first permitted to preach in some churches,
was later compelled to preach in the fields, because the clergy took a
dislike to him, and refused him their pulpits.

     He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his
     words and sentences so perfectly, that he might be
     heard and understood at a great distance, especially as
     his auditories, however numerous, observ'd the most
     exact silence. He preach'd one evening from the top of
     the Court-house steps, which are in the middle of
     Market-Street, and on the west side of Second-Street,
     which crosses it at right angles. Both streets were
     fill'd with his hearers to a considerable distance.
     Being among the hindmost in Market-Street, I had the
     curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, by
     retiring backwards down the street towards the river;
     and I found his voice distinct till I came near
     Front-Street, when some noise in the street obscur'd
     it. Imagining then a semi-circle, of which my distance
     should be the radius, and that it were fill'd with
     auditors, to each of whom I allow'd two square feet, I
     computed that he might well be heard by more than
     thirty thousand. This reconcil'd me to the newspaper
     accounts of his having preach'd to twenty-five thousand
     people in the fields, and to the antient histories of
     generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had
     sometimes doubted.

By experience, Franklin came to distinguish easily between Whitefield's
newly composed sermons and those which he had often preached in the course
of his travels.

     His delivery of the latter was so improv'd by frequent
     repetitions that every accent, every emphasis, every
     modulation of voice, was so perfectly well turn'd and
     well plac'd, that, without being interested in the
     subject, one could not help being pleas'd with the
     discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that
     receiv'd from an excellent piece of musick.

Notwithstanding the extraordinary influence of Whitefield's oratory over
his auditors, to which Franklin testifies so unqualifiedly, it is obvious
enough, as we have seen, that a nature so little given to extreme forms of
enthusiasm as that of Franklin could not but regard the hysteria produced
by it with some degree of contemptuous amusement.

     Who [he asked in his Essay on "Shavers and Trimmers,"
     in the _Pennsylvania Gazette_], has been more notorious
     for shaving and fleecing, than that Apostle of
     Apostles, that Preacher of Preachers, the Rev. Mr. G.
     W.? But I forbear making farther mention of this
     spiritual Shaver and Trimmer, lest I should affect the
     Minds of my Readers as deeply as his Preaching has
     affected their Pockets.

This was mere jesting on the part of a man to whom everything had its
humorous as well as its serious side. Very different in spirit are some of
the passages in Franklin's letters to Whitefield.

     I am glad to hear [he wrote on one occasion] that you
     have frequent opportunities of preaching among the
     great. If you can gain them to a good and exemplary
     life, wonderful changes will follow in the manners of
     the lower ranks; for _ad exemplum regis_, etc. On this
     principle, Confucius, the famous Eastern reformer,
     proceeded. When he saw his country sunk in vice, and
     wickedness of all kinds triumphant, he applied himself
     first to the grandees; and having, by his doctrine, won
     _them_ to the cause of virtue, the commons followed in
     multitudes. The mode has a wonderful influence on
     mankind; and there are numbers who, perhaps, fear less
     the being in hell, than out of the fashion. Our most
     western reformations began with the ignorant mob; and
     when numbers of them were gained, interest and party
     views drew in the wise and great. Where both methods
     can be used, reformations are likely to be more speedy.
     O that some method could be found to make them lasting!
     He who discovers that will, in my opinion, deserve
     more, ten thousand times, than the inventor of the

Another letter from Franklin to Whitefield is not only distinguished by the
same missionary accent but also by the deep-seated loyalty to the English
Crown which was so slow in yielding first to disillusionment and then to
detestation. Alluding to Whitefield's desire to be the chaplain of an
American army, he said that he wished that they could be jointly employed
by the Crown to settle a colony on the Ohio.

     What a glorious Thing [he exclaimed] it would be, to
     settle in that fine Country a large strong Body of
     Religious and Industrious People! What a Security to
     the other Colonies; and Advantage to Britain, by
     Increasing her People, Territory, Strength and
     Commerce! Might it not greatly facilitate the
     Introduction of pure Religion among the Heathen, if we
     could, by such a Colony, show them a better Sample of
     Christians than they commonly see in our Indian
     Traders, the most vicious and abandoned Wretches of our
     Nation?... Life, like a dramatic Piece, should not only
     be conducted with Regularity, but methinks it should
     finish handsomely. Being now in the last Act, I begin
     to cast about for something fit to end with. Or if mine
     be more properly compar'd to an Epigram, as some of its
     few Lines are but barely tolerable, I am very desirous
     of concluding with a bright Point. In such an
     Enterprise I could spend the Remainder of Life with
     Pleasure; and I firmly believe God would bless us with
     Success, if we undertook it with a sincere Regard to
     his Honour, the Service of our gracious King, and
     (which is the same thing) the Publick Good.

From the joint enterprise of settling a colony on the Ohio with Whitefield
to the joint enterprise of abridging the Book of English Prayer with Lord
Le Despencer was a far cry, but not too far for Franklin, as we have seen.

Lord Le Despencer, or Sir Francis Dashwood, as he was known, when he was
one of the jolly monks of Medmenham Abbey, was numbered by Franklin among
his best friends, and at West Wycombe, the country seat of this nobleman,
Franklin spent many happy hours. On one occasion, he writes to his son that
he has passed sixteen days there most agreeably. On another occasion, he
tells him that he has just come to West Wycombe to spend a few days and
breathe a little fresh air. "I am in this House," he said, "as much at my
Ease as if it was my own; and the Gardens are a Paradise." After a journey
to Oxford, with Lord Le Despencer, he informed the same correspondent that
the former was very good to him on all occasions and seemed of late very
desirous of his company. Whatever else the owner of West Wycombe may have
been, Franklin's letters leave us no room to doubt that he was a capital

To a very different type of character in every respect belonged James
Hutton, another dear friend of Franklin. He was a bookseller at the sign of
the Bible and Sun, west of Temple Bar, and for fifty-five years a zealous
member of the Moravian Church. His interest in the missionary labors of
that Church, his benevolence, which knew no sectarian limitations, his
sense and simplicity of manners won for him an honorable standing even in
Court Circles. We are told by William Temple Franklin that he was highly
esteemed by George III. and his consort, and was well known to many of the
English nobility and men of letters; not being refused admittance to the
highest ranks even at Buckingham House, though his ardent benevolence
inclined him greatly to neglect his own dress that he might better feed the
hungry and cover the naked. A man of that kind always had easy access to
the heart of Franklin, open though its hospitable portals were to other
friends of a very different description. In a letter to David Hartley from
Passy, Franklin speaks of Hutton in these terms: "An old Friend of mine,
Mr. Hutton, a Chief of the Moravians, who is often at the Queen's Palace,
and is sometimes spoken to by the King, was over here lately." In a letter
to Hutton himself from Passy, Franklin applies to him the term, "My dear
old friend," which with its different variations meant with him the
high-water mark of intimacy. Hutton is also brought to our sight, though in
a droll way, in the Craven Street _Gazette_, the mock Chronicle, in which
Franklin, with a delicacy and richness of humor all his own, pictures No. 7
Craven Street as a Court, Mrs. Stevenson as a Queen, with lords and ladies
in her train, and Hutton and himself as rivals for the good graces of Dolly
Blount, Polly's friend.

     This Morning [the _Gazette_ notes, under date of
     Tuesday, Sept. 25], my good Lord Hutton call'd at
     Craven-Street House and enquir'd very respectfully &
     affectionately concerning the Welfare of the Queen. He
     then imparted to the big Man (Franklin himself) a Piece
     of Intelligence important to them both, and but just
     communicated by Lady Hawkesworth, viz. that the amiable
     and delectable Companion, Miss D (orothea) B (lount),
     had made a Vow to marry absolutely him of the two whose
     Wife should first depart this Life. It is impossible to
     express the various Agitations of Mind appearing in
     both their Faces on this Occasion. _Vanity_ at the
     Preference given them over the rest of Mankind;
     _Affection_ to their present Wives, _Fear_ of losing
     them, _Hope_, if they must lose them, to obtain the
     proposed Comfort; _Jealousy_ of each other in case both
     Wives should die together, &c. &c. &c.,--all working at
     the same time jumbled their Features into inexplicable
     Confusion. They parted at length with Professions &
     outward Appearances indeed of ever-enduring Friendship,
     but it was shrewdly suspected that each of them
     sincerely wished Health & long Life to the other's
     Wife; & that however long either of these Friends might
     like to live himself, the other would be very well
     pleas'd to survive him.

Hutton was one of the simple and warm-hearted friends of Franklin who
endeavored by their individual exertions to accelerate the restoration of
peace between Great Britain and America, and, like all of Franklin's
English friends, who kept up a correspondence with him, while the war was
going on, he had to read some scathing fulminations against England.

     You have lost by this mad War [Franklin said in one
     letter to Hutton], and the Barbarity with which it has
     been carried on, not only the Government and Commerce
     of America, and the public Revenues and private Wealth
     arising from that Commerce, but what is more, you have
     lost the Esteem, Respect, Friendship, and Affection of
     all that great and growing People, who consider you at
     present, and whose Posterity will consider you, as the
     worst and wickedest Nation upon Earth.

Twelve days later, Franklin annexed a postscript to this letter which must
have been an even severer trial to Hutton's equanimity than the letter

     I abominate with you [he said], all Murder, and I may
     add, that the Slaughter of Men in an unjust Cause is
     nothing less than Murder; I therefore never think of
     your present Ministers and their Abettors, but with the
     Image strongly painted in my View, of their Hands, red,
     wet, and dropping with the Blood of my Countrymen,
     Friends, and Relations.

Franklin's opinion of the King was imparted to Hutton in terms fully as
indignant. The letter, in which this was done, was prompted by a letter
from Hutton to a third person giving an account of some abominable murders
inflicted by American frontiersmen upon the poor Moravian Indians. This
time it was not English, but American hands that were red with blood, but
Franklin was resourceful enough all the same to fix the responsibility for
the murders by a train of indirect reasoning on the King. Why, he asked,
had a single man in England, who happened to love blood and to hate
Americans, been permitted to gratify that bad temper by hiring German
murderers, and joining them with his own to destroy, in a continued course
of bloody years, near 100,000 human creatures, many of them possessed of
useful talents, virtues and abilities to which he had no pretension! It was
he who had furnished the savages with hatchets and scalping knives, and
engaged them to fall upon defenceless American farmers, and murder them
with their wives and children, paying for their scalps, of which the
account kept in America already amounted, he had heard, to near two
thousand. Perhaps, the people of the frontiers, he declared, exasperated by
the cruelties of the Indians, had been induced to kill all Indians that
fell into their hands without distinction; so that even these horrid
murders of the poor Moravians might be laid to the King's charge.

     And yet [said Franklin] this Man lives, enjoys all the
     good Things this World can afford, and is surrounded by
     Flatterers, who keep even his Conscience quiet by
     telling him he is the best of Princes! I wonder at
     this, but I can not therefore part with the comfortable
     Belief of a Divine Providence; and the more I see the
     Impossibility, from the number & extent of his Crimes,
     of giving equivalent Punishment to a wicked Man in this
     Life, the more I am convinc'd of a future State, in
     which all that here appears to be wrong shall be set
     right, all that is crooked made straight. In this Faith
     let you & I, my dear Friend, comfort ourselves; it is
     the only Comfort, in the present dark Scene of Things,
     that is allowed us.

The friendship between Franklin and David Hartley had to endure the
concussion of some knocks even harder than these. Hartley was the son of
David Hartley, the philosopher, from whom Hartley Coleridge, the poet,
derived his name. He was a B. A. of Corpus Christi, Oxford, and a fellow of
Merton College, and represented Hull in Parliament from 1774 to 1780 and
from 1782 to 1784. An adherent of Lord Rockingham, and a warm friend of
Franklin, he was naturally enough selected as the British plenipotentiary
to assist in drawing up the treaty of peace between Great Britain and
America. Before this time, however, he had been engaged in a protracted
correspondence with Franklin, marked by a degree of liberality and humane
feeling on his part which did him great honor. To alleviate the condition
of American prisoners in England, to promote the exchange of these
prisoners and British prisoners in America, to bring about a reunion
between Great Britain and her colonies, and, that failing, a separation
attended by as little mutual animosity as possible, were the generous
objects to which his efforts were addressed. In pursuing these objects, he
must have found it difficult at times to submit meekly to some of the
ireful invective against his King, Parliament and People, which punctuates
Franklin's solicitation of his mediatory offices, in behalf of American
prisoners, and pleas for a peace between Great Britain and America,
attended by really generous concessions upon the part of Great Britain. The
year after his arrival in France as our minister, Franklin wrote to

     As to our submitting to the government of Great
     Britain, it is vain to think of it. She has given us,
     by her numberless barbarities in the prosecution of the
     war, and in the treatment of prisoners, by her malice
     in bribing slaves to murder their masters, and savages
     to massacre the families of farmers, with her baseness
     in rewarding the unfaithfulness of servants, and
     debauching the virtue of honest seamen, intrusted with
     our property, so deep an impression of her depravity,
     that we never again can trust her in the management of
     our affairs and interests.

As the war went on, leaving its trail of blood and increasing hatred behind
it, his language at times becomes even more intense. About a year and a
half later, he wrote to Hartley, "We know that your King hates Whigs and
Presbyterians; that he thirsts for our Blood, of which he has already drunk
large Draughts; that his servile unprincipled Ministers are ready to
execute the Wickedest of his Orders, and his venal Parliament equally ready
to vote them just." This outburst was evoked by what he conceived to be a
cunning effort of the English Ministry to divide America and her French
ally. The next outburst was provoked by the same cause. "The Truth is," he
said, "we have no kind of Faith in your Government, which appears to us as
insidious and deceitful as it is unjust and cruel; its Character is that of
the Spider in Thomson,

     "Cunning and fierce,
     Mixture abhorr'd!!"

Finally, all the hurrying feelings aroused in him at times by what he
called "bloody and insatiable Malice and Wickedness" became condensed in an
abstract term so full of passion as "devilism." Franklin was not the man to
take hold of the handles of a plough and then turn back. In his
correspondence with Hartley, as with his other English friends, after he
entered upon his mission to France, is the clearest recognition of the
fact, to use his own robust figure of speech, that England had lost limbs
which would never grow again, and his unwavering resolution to give his
assent to nothing less than the complete independence of the Colonies. For
him, for his country, there were never more to be any connecting links
between Great Britain and America except those of mere international good
will and commercial comity. Upon propositions of every sort, looking to a
reconciliation between the two lands, he lingered solely for the purpose of
obtaining for America, when peace finally came, as large a measure of
territorial aggrandizement as he could possibly secure. Of a conciliatory
bill, of which Hartley sent him a copy, he said, "It might have erected a
Wall of Brass round England, if such a Measure had been adopted, when Fryar
Bacon's brazen Head cried out, TIME IS! But the wisdom of it was not seen,
till after the fatal Cry of TIME'S PAST!"

It was the almost pathetic desire of such correspondents of Franklin as
Hartley to save some sort of organic tie between the two countries from the
wreckage wrought by the fatal policy of the British Ministry, which makes
it difficult for us to read Franklin's French letters to men like Hutton
and Hartley without feeling that the harsh terms, which he often employed
in these letters about the English King, Parliament and People, were hardly
fair to that courageous and high-minded band of English patriots, who made
the American cause almost as much theirs as his own, and stopped only short
of treason in the assertion of their belief that the immemorial liberties
of England as well as the liberties of America were staked upon the issue
of the American contest. It was the extreme outspoken dissatisfaction, with
which English Whigs regarded the effort of the British Ministry to force
its own violent and technical views of colonial policy upon America, that
made it possible for Franklin to write to Englishmen as he did about their
government without exciting either frank or sullen resentment. But there
was undoubtedly still another reason with which politics had nothing to do.
These Whigs not only respected the manly candor, with which Franklin
expressed convictions that they knew had been formed by a singularly
enlightened, generous and sober mind, once devotedly attached by the
strongest ties of tradition and affection to the colonial connection
between Great Britain and America, but they had been too intimate with him
personally not to be aware that it was not in his nature to harbor any real
or lasting malignity of feeling towards anyone. And that this view of his
character was correct is shown by more than one feature of his
correspondence with Hartley. In a letter to Hartley, he said that, when
Hartley's nation was hiring all the cutthroats it could collect of all
countries and colors to destroy the Americans, it was hard to persuade the
Americans not to ask, or accept of, aid from any country that might be
prevailed with to grant it, and this from the hope that, though the British
then thirsted for their blood, and pursued them with fire and sword, they
might in some future time treat them kindly. But the outbreak does not seem
so fierce when he goes on to say, "America has been _forc'd_ and _driven_
into the Arms of France. She was a dutiful and virtuous Daughter. A cruel
Mother-in-law turn'd her out of Doors, defam'd her, and sought her Life.
All the World knows her Innocence, and takes her part; and her Friends hope
soon to see her honorably married." One of the peculiarities of that kindly
and facetious nature was that its sense of humor would at times work its
way even between the lines of formal state papers; to say nothing of
letters to a familiar friend on the conduct of an enemy. Nor could Hartley
doubt that the old well-springs of mirth and loving kindness were as full
as ever to overflowing, when, in response to a letter from him to Franklin,
containing the Scotch ballad, _Auld Robin Gray_, he received this lively
application of the ballad to existing conditions:

     I cannot make an entire application of it to present
     Circumstances; but, taking it in Parts, and changing
     Persons, some of it is extremely _apropos_. First Jenie
     may be supposed Old England, and Jamie, America. Jenie
     laments the loss of Jamie, and recollects with Pain his
     Love for her, his Industry in Business to promote her
     Wealth and Welfare, and her own Ingratitude.

        "Young Jamie loved me weel,
        And sought me for his Bride,
        But saving ane Crown,
        He had naithing beside,

    To make that Crown a Pound, my Jamie gang'd to Sea,
    And the Crown and the Pound were all for me."

     Her grief for this Separation is expressed very

        "The ship was a Wrack,
        Why did na Jennie die;
        O why was I spared
        To cry, Wae is me!"

     There is no Doubt but that honest Jamie had still so
     much Love for her as to Pity her in his Heart, tho' he
     might, at the same time, be not a little angry with

     Towards the Conclusion, we must change the Persons, and
     let Jamie be old England, Jennie, America, and old
     Robin Gray, the Kingdom of France. Then honest Jenie,
     having made a Treaty of Marriage with Gray, expresses
     her firm Resolution of Fidelity, in a manner that does
     Honour to her good Sense, and her Virtue.

        "I may not think of Jamie,
        For that would be a Sin,
        But I maun do my best,
        A gude wife to be;
        For auld Robin Gray
        Is very kind to me."

How was it possible for Hartley to remain angry with a man like this, even
if he was told by him in another letter that, though there could be but few
things, in which he would venture to disobey the orders of Congress, he
would, nevertheless, instantly renounce the commission that he held from
it, and banish himself forever from so infamous a country as America, if
Congress were to instruct him to seek a truce of ten years with Great
Britain, with the stipulation that America was not to assist France during
that time, if the war between Great Britain and France continued? This was
trying, though not so trying perhaps as his statement in still another
letter to Hartley that he thought of his reasonings to show that, if France
should require of America something unreasonable, America would not be
obliged by the treaty between them to continue the war as her ally, what
he supposed an honest woman would think, if a gallant should entertain her
with suppositions of cases in which infidelity to her husband would be
justifiable. Nor was the merry adaptation of the ballad of _Auld Robin
Gray_ the only thing of the kind that tended to relieve the tension of the
reproaches heaped by Franklin upon Great Britain in his letters to Hartley.
In the same letter, in which he depicts the King as thirsty for still
further draughts of American blood, and repels with apparently hot wrath
the suggestion of Hartley that the alliance between France and America was
the greatest stumbling-block in the way of peace between Great Britain and
France, he tells Hartley that the proposition to separate France and
America puts him in mind of the comic farce entitled _God-send, or The
Wreckers_. It was not hard, of course, for him to be put in mind of
something conceived by his own mind. The farce opens with this stage
introduction: (A Ship riding at anchor in a great Storm. A Lee Shore full
of Rocks, and lin'd with people, furnish'd with Axes & Carriages to cut up
Wrecks, knock the Sailors on the Head, and carry off the Plunder; according
to Custom.) Then, after a lively dialogue between the wreckers, who have
grown impatient with the staunch way in which the ship is riding out the
storm, they put off in a boat in the hope of luring her to the shore, and
come under her stern, and try to persuade her captain, in the course of
another lively dialogue, that his cable is a damned rotten French cable,
and will part of itself in half an hour; only to be told by the captain
that they are rogues, and offer nothing but treachery and mischief, and
that his cable is good and strong, and would hold long enough to balk their
projects. The dialogue ends with the exclamation by the spokesman of the
wreckers, "Come, my Lads, let's be gone. This Fellow is not so great a Fool
as we took him to be."

Familiar affection glistens in every line of the letters from Franklin to
George Whatley, and one of them is suffused with the genial warmth of his
best social hours. After some strictures on an epitaph by Pope, he said in
this letter:

     I like better the concluding Sentiment in the old Song,
     call'd _The Old Man's Wish_, wherein, after wishing for
     a warm house in a country Town, an easy Horse, some
     good old authors, ingenious and cheerful Companions, a
     Pudding on Sundays, with stout Ale, and a bottle of
     Burgundy, &c., &c., in separate Stanzas, each ending
     with this burthen,

    "May I govern my Passions with an absolute sway,
    Grow wiser and better as my Strength wears away,
    Without Gout or Stone, by a gentle Decay";

     he adds,

    "With a courage undaunted may I face my last day,
    And, when I am gone, may the better Sort say,
    'In the Morning when Sober, in the Evening when mellow,
    He's gone, and has not left behind him his Fellow;
    For he governed his Passions, &c.'"

     But what signifies our Wishing? Things happen, after
     all, as they will happen. I have sung that _wishing
     Song_ a thousand times, when I was young, and now find,
     at Four-score, that the three Contraries have befallen
     me, being subject to the Gout and the Stone, and not
     being yet Master of all my Passions. Like the proud
     Girl in my Country, who wished and resolv'd not to
     marry a Parson, nor a Presbyterian, nor an Irishman;
     and at length found herself married to an Irish
     Presbyterian Parson.

In the course of one of the summer rambles, which he took every year for
twenty years, for health and recreation, Franklin twice visited Scotland,
once in 1759, and once in 1771. As the result of civilities received by him
in that country at the hands of Sir Alexander Dick, the President of the
College of Physicians at Edinburgh, and Henry Home, Lord Kames, a Judge of
the Court of Session, and author of _The Elements of Criticism_ and _The
Sketches of the History of Man_, he became a fast friend of these two
eminent men. After completing with his son a tour of nearly 1500 miles in
1759, he wrote to Sir Alexander Dick, whose guests they had been for a
time, that the many civilities, favors and kindnesses heaped upon them,
while they were in Scotland, had made the most lasting impression upon
their minds, and endeared that country to them beyond expression. In the
same letter, he asked Sir Alexander to assure Lady Dick that he had great
faith in her parting prayers that the purse she honored him with would
never be quite empty. His letters to Lord Kames testified in even stronger
terms to the happy hours that he had spent in Scotland on this visit.

     How unfortunate I was [he wrote to him] that I did not
     press you and Lady Kames more strongly to favor us with
     your company farther. How much more agreeable would our
     journey have been, if we could have enjoyed you as far
     as York. We could have beguiled the way, by discoursing
     of a thousand things, that now we may never have an
     opportunity of considering together; for conversation
     warms the mind, enlivens the imagination, and is
     continually starting fresh game, that is immediately
     pursued and taken, and which would never have occurred
     in the duller intercourse of epistolary correspondence.
     So that whenever I reflect on the great pleasure and
     advantage I received from the free communication of
     sentiment, in the conversations we had at Kames, and in
     the agreeable little rides to the Tweed side, I shall
     forever regret our premature parting.

Even more fervid was the conclusion of this letter:

     Our conversation till we came to York, was chiefly a
     recollection of what we had seen and heard, the
     pleasure we had enjoyed, and the kindness we had
     received in Scotland, and how far that country had
     exceeded our expectations. On the whole, I must say, I
     think the time we spent there, was six weeks of the
     _densest_ happiness I have met with in any part of my
     life: and the agreeable and instructive society we
     found there in such plenty, has left so pleasing an
     impression on my memory, that did not strong connexions
     draw me elsewhere, I believe Scotland would be the
     country I should choose to spend the remainder of my
     days in.

In a later letter to Lord Kames, he returns to the same pleasing field of

     Your invitation to make another jaunt to Scotland, and
     offer to meet us half way _en famille_, was extremely
     obliging. Certainly I never spent my time anywhere more
     agreeably, nor have I been in any place, where the
     inhabitants and their conversation left such lastingly
     pleasing impressions on my mind, accompanied with the
     strongest inclination once more to visit that
     hospitable, friendly, and sensible people.

When we recall Franklin's distaste for theology and metaphysics, the humor
that ever lurked about his lips, and Sydney Smith's famous observation that
it requires a surgical operation to get a joke into a Scotchman's head, we
may well experience a sensation of momentary surprise when we read these
earnest tributes to the charm of Scotch social conditions in 1759--a sense
of surprise increased by the fact that, in the _Autobiography_, Franklin
ends a little dissertation on the odious nature of disputation with these
words: "Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it,
except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at
Edinborough." But all such sensations of surprise pass away when we
remember that manly simplicity, practical sagacity, a spirit of enterprise
and a love of learning, which no discouragements can chill, were also
Scotch characteristics that Franklin shared with Scotchmen.

When Franklin returned in 1771 to the "odious-smells, barbarous sounds, bad
suppers, excellent hearts and most enlightened understandings," amid which
Sydney Smith, with his exaggerated humor, afterwards pictured himself as
dwelling when he was a resident of Edinburgh, William Franklin did not
accompany him.

     In Scotland [Franklin wrote to his son after this
     second visit] I spent 5 Days with Lord Kaims at his
     Seat, Blair Drummond near Stirling, two or three Days
     at Glasgow, two Days at Carron Iron Works, and the rest
     of the Month in and about Edinburgh, lodging at David
     Hume's, who entertain'd me with the greatest Kindness
     and Hospitality, as did Lord Kaims & his Lady. All our
     old Acquaintance there, Sir Alex'r Dick and Lady, Mr.
     McGowan, Drs. Robertson, Cullen, Black, Ferguson,
     Russel, and others, enquired affectionately of your
     Welfare. I was out three Months, and the Journey was
     evidently of great service to my Health.

The letters from Franklin to Lord Kames cover a great variety of topics;
and to his observations on some of these topics, which were of a political
or scientific nature, we shall return in other connections. One letter was
written, when Franklin was on the eve of sailing from Portsmouth to America
in 1762, and that the moment of embarkation upon the perilous seas of that
time was a solemn one is manifest enough in its opening statements:


     I am now waiting here only for a wind to waft me to
     America, but cannot leave this happy island and my
     friends in it, without extreme regret, though I am
     going to a country and a people that I love. I am going
     from the old world to the new; and I fancy I feel like
     those, who are leaving this world for the next: grief
     at the parting; fear of the passage; hope of the

But never were votive chaplets woven and gratefully suspended by a voyager
after a more prosperous passage than this. Franklin left England in
company with ten sail of merchant ships, under the convoy of a man-of-war,
touched at the heavenly Madeira Islands, and was then caught up in the
benign trade winds, and borne safely to the American coast.

     The weather was so favourable [he stated in another
     letter to Lord Kames] that there were few days in which
     we could not visit from ship to ship, dining with each
     other, and on board of the man-of-war; which made the
     time pass agreeably, much more so than when one goes in
     a single ship; for this was like travelling in a moving
     village, with all one's neighbours about one.

Among the things upon which Franklin prided himself was the fact that he
shaved himself, and in one of his letters to Lord Kames this trivial
circumstance is brought to our notice in these wise words:

     I have long been of an opinion similar to that you
     express, and think happiness consists more in small
     conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in
     great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to
     a man in the course of his life. Thus I reckon it among
     my felicities, that I can set my own razor, and shave
     myself perfectly well; in which I have a daily
     pleasure, and avoid the uneasiness one is sometimes
     obliged to suffer from the dirty fingers or bad breath
     of a slovenly barber.

There was also a link of friendship between Franklin and David Hume. In a
letter to Strahan, Franklin, when on his visit to Scotland in 1771, writes
to him that Hume, agreeably to the precepts of the Gospel, had received the
stranger, and that he was then living with him at his house in the New Town
at Edinburgh most happily. In another letter, a week or so later, he
informed Strahan, after a short excursion from Edinburgh, that he was well
and again under the hospitable roof of the good Samaritan. Hume was too
much of a bigoted Tory not to snarl a little at Franklin's "factious"
spirit, when the Revolution was coming on, but, when Franklin was leaving
England in 1762, he paid him this handsome compliment:

     I am very sorry, that you intend soon to leave our
     hemisphere. America has sent us many good things, gold,
     silver, sugar, indigo, &c; but you are the first
     philosopher, and indeed the first great man of letters
     for whom we are beholden to her. It is our own fault,
     that we have not kept him; whence it appears, that we
     do not agree with Solomon, that wisdom is above gold;
     for we take care never to send back an ounce of the
     latter, which we once lay our fingers upon.

It was a dangerous thing to enter into a competition of compliments with
Franklin, as his reply to this letter showed.

     Your compliment of _gold_ and _wisdom_ [he said] is
     very obliging to me, but a little injurious to your
     country. The various value of everything in every part
     of this world arises, you know, from the various
     proportions of the quantity to the demand. We are told,
     that gold and silver in Solomon's time were so plenty,
     as to be of no more value in his country than the
     stones in the street. You have here at present just
     such a plenty of wisdom. Your people are, therefore,
     not to be censured for desiring no more among them than
     they have; and if I have _any_, I should certainly
     carry it where, from its scarcity, it may probably come
     to a better market.

This was certainly a ponderous compliment, but it does not seem quite so
much so, when read after the alleviating story which immediately preceded
it. Referring to a ridiculous dispute, mentioned by his correspondent, he

     Judges in their decisions often use precedents. I have
     somewhere met with one, that is what the lawyers call a
     _case in point_. The Church people and the Puritans in
     a country town had once a bitter contention concerning
     the erecting of a Maypole, which the former desired and
     the latter opposed. Each party endeavoured to
     strengthen itself by obtaining the authority of the
     mayor, directing or forbidding a Maypole. He heard
     their altercation with great patience, and then gravely
     determined thus; "You, that are for having no Maypole,
     shall have no Maypole; and you, that are for having a
     Maypole, shall have a Maypole. Get about your business,
     and let me hear no more of this quarrel."

Other Scotch friends of Franklin were William Alexander, a connection of
Lord Stirling, and his two daughters, one of whom, Mariamne, became the
wife of Franklin's nephew, Jonathan Williams. A letter from Alexander to
Franklin has its value because of the knowledge that it affords to us of
the personal bearing of Arthur Lee who was, we shall see, jealous, haughty
and sensitive enough to curdle even the sweet milk of Franklin's amiable
nature. "I see," wrote Alexander, "you have made my old friend Lee a
minister at Madrid, I think he has very much the manners of a Spaniard when
he is not angry." It was Alexander also whose careful mercantile habits
impelled him to write to Franklin, when he observed the disorder in which
the latter kept his papers at Passy, this word of caution:

     Will you forgive me my Dear Sir for noticing, that your
     Papers seem to me to lye a little loosely about your
     hands--you are to consider yourself as surrounded by
     spies and amongst people who can make a cable from a
     thread; would not a spare half hour per day enable your
     son to arrange all your papers, useless or not, so that
     you could come at them sooner, and not one be visible
     to a prying eye.

The only intimate friend, we believe, that Franklin had in Ireland was Sir
Edward Newenham, a member of the Irish Parliament, whose sympathy with the
American cause was so extreme that he appeared in his seat in deep
mourning when the news of General Montgomery's death reached Ireland.
Unfortunately, of the many letters, that Franklin wrote to him, only two or
three, of comparatively meagre interest, survive. But of Ireland itself we
have some graphic details in his letters to other persons. In one to Thomas
Cushing, he says of the Irish, after a tour of the island with his friend,
Richard Jackson, "There are many brave Spirits among them. The Gentry are a
very sensible, polite, friendly and handsome People. Their Parliament makes
a most respectable Figure, with a number of very good Speakers in both
Parties, and able Men of Business." He then tells Cushing in modest terms
how, when he was on his way to the gallery in the Parliament House at
Dublin, the whole assembly, upon being informed by the Speaker that there
was in town an American gentleman of distinguished character and merit, who
was a member or delegate of some of the Parliaments in America, by a loud,
unanimous expression of its will voted to admit him to the privileges of
the floor; whereupon two members came to him without the bar, where he was
standing, led him in and placed him very honorably.

Other friends of Franklin there were whom it is difficult to classify
either as Englishmen or Americans, such as General Horatio Gates and
General Charles Lee, who were born in England but became celebrated in
America, and Benjamin West, the painter, who was born in America, but
passed his mature life in England. That Franklin was on very friendly
relations with Gates there can be no doubt, for in one of his letters to
him he calls him his "Dear old friend," and that was a term never applied
by him to any but his intimates. Nor can there be much doubt as to what it
was that brought and kept Franklin and Gates together as friends. It was
the game to which Franklin was so much addicted that he even expounded its
morals in an essay--chess. "When," he wrote to Gates from Passy, "shall we
meet again in cheerful converse, talk over our adventures, and finish with
a quiet game of chess?" And on the same day that he addressed to Washington
the noble letter, declaring that, if the latter were to come to Europe, he
would know and enjoy what posterity would say of Washington, he wrote to
Gates, "May God give us soon a good Peace, and bring you and I (_sic_)
together again over a Chess board, where we may have Battles without

How an eccentric and perfidious man like General Charles Lee, whose temper
alone was so repugnant to Franklin's dislike of disputation as to win for
him the nickname of "Boiling Water" from the Indians, could ever have
passed himself off with Franklin as genuine coin is hard to understand, but
he appears to have done so. "Yours most affectionately," is the manner in
which one of Franklin's letters to him ends. In another letter to Lee,
Franklin gravely sums up in formal numerical sequence his reasons for
thinking that bows and arrows were good weapons not wisely laid aside. The
idea is one so little in harmony with his practical turn of mind, and is
reasoned out so elaborately, that we form a shrewd suspicion as we read
that this was after all but his humorous way of replying to his erratic
friend's suggestion that the use of pikes by the American Army might not be
a bad thing.

A very different kind of friend was Benjamin West. It was he that Franklin
had in mind when he wrote to Polly Stevenson in 1763, "After the first
Cares for the Necessaries of Life are over, we shall come to think of the
Embellishments. Already some of our young Geniuses begin to lisp Attempts
at Painting, Poetry, and Musick. We have a young Painter now studying at
Rome." Twenty years later, the lisping attempts of America at painting had
become so distinctly articulate, and the young painter, who was studying
at Rome, had become so famous, that Franklin could write to Jan Ingenhousz,
"In England at present, the best History Painter, West; the best Portrait
Painter, Copley, and the best Landscape Painter, Taylor, at Bath, are all
Americans." Benjamin West, and his wife, as Elizabeth Shewell, were friends
of Franklin and Deborah before West left his native Pennsylvania for
Europe; and the friendship between the artist and his wife and Franklin was
kept alive by affectionate intercourse in England. For one of West's sons
Franklin became godfather. "It gave me great Pleasure," he said in a letter
to West, referring to a letter from West to him, "as it informed me of the
Welfare of a Family I so much esteem and love, and that my Godson is a
promising Boy." The letter concludes with loving words for the godson and
Raphael, West's oldest son, and "Betsey," West's wife.

We have by no means taken a complete census of Franklin's American and
British friends. For instance, in a letter to Doctor Cooper from London, he
refers to a Mr. Mead, first Commissioner of the Customs in England, whom we
have not mentioned, as a particular and intimate friend of his; to say
nothing of other persons with whom his intercourse was very friendly but
either too colorless to arrest our attention in reading his correspondence,
or to even bring them up in his correspondence at all. But we have
marshalled quite enough of these friends before the eye of the reader, we
are sure, to satisfy him that few human beings ever had such a wealth of
affection heaped on them as Franklin.


[34] "Mrs. Shipley and her daughter Kitty, in their passion for you rival
Georgiana." Letter from Jonathan Shipley to Franklin, Nov. 27, 1785.

[35] To a series of experiments, conducted by Sir John Pringle, we owe our
knowledge of the fact that mosquito hawks are so whimsically constituted
that they live longer with their heads off than on. One of these
decapitated moths was so tenacious of his existence as to survive for 174

[36] A letter from Franklin to Francis Maseres, dated Passy, June 26, 1785,
suggests an additional reason why the antipathy of the American Whigs to
the American loyalists was so unrelenting. "The war against us was begun by
a general act of Parliament, declaring all our estates confiscated; and
probably one great motive to the loyalty of the royalists was the hope of
sharing in these confiscations. They have played a deep game, staking their
estates against ours; and they have been unsuccessful. But it is a surer
game, since they had promises to rely on from your government, of
indemnification in case of loss; and I see your Parliament is about to
fulfil those Promises. To this I have no objection, because, though still
our enemies, they are men; they are in necessity; and I think even a hired
assassin has a right to his pay from his employer."

[37] The business of Whitefoord as a wine-merchant was carried on at No. 8
Craven Street, and he enjoyed a considerable reputation for wit in his
time. He served as Secretary to the Commission that settled the terms of
peace with the United States. He was, Burke thought, a mere _diseur de bons
mots_. Goldsmith deemed him of sufficient importance to make him the
subject of an epitaph intended to be worked into the Retaliation, and
reading as follows:

    "Here Whitefoord reclines, deny it who can;
    Tho' he merrily lived, he is now a grave man.
    What pity, alas! that so lib'ral a mind
    Should so long be to Newspaper Essays confined!
    Who perhaps to the summit of science might soar,
    Yet content if the table he set in a roar;
    Whose talents to fit any station were fit,
    Yet happy if Woodfall confessed him a wit."

His intimacy with Franklin, Whitefoord said on one occasion, had been the
"pride and happiness" of his life.


Franklin's French Friends

To the host of friends mentioned above, numerous as it was, another great
addition was to be made when Franklin became one of our envoys to France.
In the various Colonies of America, so unlike each other in many respects,
in England, in Scotland, his liberal instincts and quick sympathies ran out
into new social forms almost with the fluid ease of the melted tallow which
he had poured, in his boyhood, into his father's candle moulds; but of all
the impressions that he ever derived from any society, that which was made
upon him by French society certifies most strikingly to the wonderful
plasticity of his nature, under the pressure of new conditions. So
permeated did he--one of the truest progenitors of distinctively American
ideas and attributes, and one of the truest exponents of the robust
Anglo-Saxon character--become with the genius of the French People that a
Frenchman, Henri Martin, the historian, has declared that he was "of a mind
altogether French in its grace and elasticity."

There was a time, of course, when Franklin, apart from the inveteracy of
the old English prejudice, which believed that upon every pair of English
legs marched three Frenchmen, had no good blood for the French because of
the agony in which they had for so many years, with the aid of their savage
friends, kept the colonial frontier. "I fancy that intriguing nation would
like very well to meddle on occasion, and blow up the coals between Britain
and her colonies; but I hope we shall give them no opportunity." This was
his quiet comment even as late as 1767 in a letter to William Franklin upon
the sedulous attentions recently paid to him by Monsieur Durand, the French
plenipotentiary in London, whose masters were fully awake to the fact that
the quarrel between Great Britain and her Colonies might be a pretty one
from the point of view of French interests, and that in duels it is not the
pistols but the seconds that kill. But this was politics. Long before
Franklin crossed the Atlantic on his French mission, he had felt, during
his visits to France in 1767 and 1769, the bewitching influence of social
conditions perpetually enlivened and refreshed by the vivacity and
inventive resource which were such conspicuous features of his own
character. After his return from France in 1767, he wrote to D'Alibard:
"The Time I spent in Paris, and in the improving Conversation and agreeable
Society of so many learned and ingenious Men, seems now to me like a
pleasing Dream, from which I was sorry to be awaked by finding myself again
at London." These agreeable impressions were confirmed by his return to
France in 1769. After stating in a letter to Dupont de Nemours in the
succeeding year that he expected to return to America in the ensuing
summer, he exclaimed, "Would to God I could take with me Messrs. Dupont, du
Bourg, and some other French Friends with their good Ladies! I might then,
by mixing them with my Friends in Philadelphia, form a little happy Society
that would prevent my ever wishing again to visit Europe."

It was, therefore, to no entirely novel social conditions that Franklin was
introduced when he found himself again in France in 1776. At any rate, no
chameleon was ever quicker to absorb the color of his latest background.
As time elapsed, nothing but his inability to write and speak French with
the facility of a native-born Frenchman separated him in a social sense
from the mass of French men and women, by whom he was admired, courted and
flattered almost from the day that he set foot in France until the day that
he was conveyed in one of the Queen's litters to the coast on his return to
America. How far this assimilation was the deliberate achievement of a wise
man, who never failed to act upon the principle that the best way of
managing men is to secure their good will first, how far but the
unconscious self-adjustment of a pliable disposition it is impossible to
say. But there can be no doubt about the amazing sympathy with which
Franklin entered into the social life of the French people. Beneath the
gay, pleasure-loving exterior that he presented to French society, there
was always the thought of that land over-sea, so singularly blessed by
Providence with material comfort and equality of fortune, with the general
diffusion of education and enlightenment, and with political institutions
bound to the past only by the wisdom of experience. Always beneath that
exterior, too, was a glowing resentment of the wrongs that England had
inflicted upon America, an enthusiastic sense of the "glorious cause" in
which America was engaged, and a resolution as fixed as the eye of Nemesis
that no hand but the hand of America itself should fill out the outlines of
the imperial destiny, in which he had once been so eagerly, even
pathetically, desirous that England should share. But these were thoughts
and purposes reserved for the hours of business, or of confidential
intercourse with his American compatriots, or for such moments as the one
when he heard of the fall of Philadelphia and the surrender of Burgoyne. In
his purely social relations with the French People, he preserved only
enough of his republican ideas, dress and manners to give a certain degree
of piquancy to his _ensemble_.

He adopted French usages and customs; he composed exquisite little stories
and dialogues in the French manner, and, old as he was, he made love like a
French _galant_. "As it is always fair Weather in our Parlours, it is at
Paris always Peace," he wrote to the Chevalier de la Luzerne, and this
remark comes home to us with full force when we remember with what
unrestrained gaiety of heart, notwithstanding the shudder sent through him
at times by the American War, he enjoyed the social life of Paris. Long
before he left France, he had learnt to love the country and its people
with a sincere, fervent attachment. After saying in a letter to Josiah
Quincy, that the French had certainly advanced in politeness and civility
many degrees beyond the English, he paid them this compliment:

     I find them here a most amiable Nation to live with.
     The Spaniards are by common Opinion suppos'd to be
     cruel, the English proud, the Scotch insolent, the
     Dutch Avaricious, &c., but I think the French have no
     national Vice ascrib'd to them. They have some
     Frivolities, but they are harmless. To dress their
     Heads so that a Hat cannot be put on them, and then
     wear their Hats under their Arms, and to fill their
     Noses with Tobacco, may be called Follies, perhaps, but
     they are not Vices. They are only the effects of the
     tyranny of Custom. In short, there is nothing wanting
     in the Character of a Frenchman, that belongs to that
     of an agreeable and worthy Man. There are only some
     Trifles surplus, or which might be spared.

These, however, were but frigid words in comparison with those subsequently
employed by him in relation to a country, where, to use his own language,
everybody strove to make him happy. "The French are an amiable People to
live with," he told his old friend, Captain Nathaniel Falconer, "They love
me, & I love them." In a later letter to William Franklin, he said, "I am
here among a People that love and respect me, a most amiable Nation to
live with; and perhaps I may conclude to die among them; for my Friends in
America are dying off, one after another, and I have been so long abroad,
that I should now be almost a Stranger in my own Country."

Nor did the love for France that he took back with him to the United States
grow at all fainter with absence and the flow of time. To the Duc de la
Rochefoucauld he wrote from Philadelphia, "I love France, I have 1000
Reasons for doing so: And whatever promotes or impedes her Happiness
affects me as if she were my Mother." To Madame Lavoisier he used terms
that communicate to us an even more vivid conception of the ambrosial years
that he had passed in France.

     These [he said, referring to his good fortune in his
     old age in its different aspects] are the blessings of
     God, and depend on his continued goodness; yet all do
     not make me forget Paris, and the nine years' happiness
     I enjoyed there, in the sweet society of a people whose
     conversation is instructive, whose manners are highly
     pleasing, and who, above all the nations of the world,
     have, in the greatest perfection, the art of making
     themselves beloved by strangers. And now, even in my
     sleep, I find, that the scenes of all my pleasant
     dreams are laid in that city, or in its

Mingled with these pleasant dreams, it is safe to say were some of the
lively and charming women to whose embraces he submitted, if his sister
Jane was not misinformed, in a spirit quite remote from that of the rigors
of penance.

     You mention the Kindness of the French Ladies to me [he
     wrote to Elizabeth Partridge, whose husband was the
     superintendent of the almshouse in Boston], I must
     explain that matter. This is the civilest nation upon
     Earth. Your first Acquaintances endeavour to find out
     what you like, and they tell others. If 'tis understood
     that you like Mutton, dine where you will you find
     Mutton. Somebody, it seems, gave it out that I lov'd
     Ladies; and then everybody presented me their Ladies
     (or the Ladies presented themselves) to be _embrac'd_,
     that is to have their Necks kiss'd. For as to kissing
     of Lips or Cheeks it is not the Mode here, the first,
     is reckon'd rude, & the other may rub off the Paint.
     The French Ladies have however 1000 other ways of
     rendering themselves agreeable; by their various
     Attentions and Civilities, & their sensible
     Conversation. 'Tis a delightful People to live with.

I hope, however [he wrote to another correspondent after denying a story
about himself], to preserve, while I stay, the regard you mention of the
French ladies; for their society and conversation, when I have time to
enjoy them, are extremely agreeable.

And that the French ladies found his society and conversation extremely
agreeable no one can well doubt who has had occasion to become familiar
with the scented missives, full of artful coquetry, that were addressed by
many fair hands to "très cher papa," or "Dear American papa" or "amiable
papa," when he was in the land where somebody had been so considerate as to
give it out that he liked ladies. At times, these notes run along in
mingled French and English as if the writers were determined to bring to
bear upon him the blandishments not only of the former language but of his
own familiar tongue besides. "Je vous envoye a sweet kiss, dear Papa,
envoyez moi en revanche, un Mot de Réponse," was one languishing request.
Even Franklin's bad French mattered but little when a woman, Madame
Brillon, whom the daughter of Abigail Adams pronounced "one of the
handsomest women in France," could write to him, "It is always very good
French to say, 'Je vous aime.' My heart always goes out to meet this word
when you say it to me." From such words as these to his saying that the
best master of languages is a mistress the transition was not very

It was at Passy, then a suburb of Paris, that Franklin resided during the
eight and a half years that he was one of our representatives in France.
His surroundings were thus described by him in reply to a question from
Mrs. Stevenson:

     You wish to know how I live. It is in a fine House,
     situated in a neat Village, on high Ground, half a Mile
     from Paris, with a large Garden to walk in. I have
     abundance of Acquaintance, dine abroad Six days in
     seven. Sundays I reserve to dine at home, with such
     Americans as pass this Way; and I then have my grandson
     Ben, with some other American Children from his school.

The house mentioned by Franklin was known as the Basse Cour de Monsieur Le
Ray de Chaumont, and had originally, with the inscription over its door,
"Se sta bene, non si muove" not been unknown to fame as the Hôtel de
Valentinois. Indeed, John Locke, who visited Paris in 1679, declared that
it was among the twenty-four _belles maisons_ in Paris that best rewarded
the curiosity of the stranger at that time. The circumstances, under which
it passed into the possession of Franklin, were another proof of the
flaming zeal with which many of the foremost inhabitants of France espoused
the cause of the Colonies. Chaumont was Grand Maître des Eaux et Forets de
France and Intendant Honoraire des Invalides, a friend of the Duc de
Choiseul, and a man of large wealth, with a château on the Loire as well as
the mansion at Passy, of which the building occupied by Franklin was a
part. In his generous enthusiasm for American liberty, he declined a post
in the French Ministry, offered to him by Choiseul, because he thought that
by declining it he might be a more useful intermediary between America and
the French Government. When John Adams came to Passy, and found a home
under the same roof with Franklin, he felt obliged to write to Chaumont
asking him to consider what rent they should pay to him for the use of his
house and furniture. Every part of Chaumont's conduct towards him and
Americans in general, and in all their affairs, he said, had been polite
and obliging, as far as he had an opportunity of observing, and he had no
doubt it would continue, but it was not reasonable that they should occupy
such an elegant mansion without any compensation to the owner, and it was
not right that they should live at too great or at too uncertain an expense
to their constituents. The reply of Chaumont was worthy of a paladin of
Ancient France. "When I consecrated my home to Dr. Franklin and his
associates who might live with him," he said, "I made it fully understood
that I should expect no compensation, because I perceived that you had need
of all your means to send to the succor of your country, or to relieve the
distresses of your countrymen escaping from the chains of their enemies."
This is a world, however, in which it is too much to expect an absolutely
free gift of house rent, and the answer of Chaumont to John Adams does not
altogether agree with the version of the matter given by Franklin in a
letter to Robert R. Livingston, in which he said that Chaumont had
originally proposed to leave the article of rent unsettled until the end of
the war, and then to accept for it a piece of American land from the
Congress such as they might judge equivalent. Considering the serious
uncertainty as to whether there would then be any Congress, this was quite
generous enough. It is painful to relate, however, that Chaumont engaged so
recklessly in the hazardous business of shipping supplies to America for
the patriot army as to become involved in pecuniary embarrassments, which
produced some degree of temporary constraint in his intercourse with
Franklin. "I find that in these Affairs with him, a Bargain tho' ever so
clearly express'd signifies nothing," wrote Franklin in a moment of disgust
with his volatility to Jonathan Williams. A few months before, Franklin had
made this entry in a journal kept by him during a brief portion of his
residence at Passy. "Visit at M. de Chaumont's in the evening; found him
cold and dry." But before Franklin left France, the old cordiality of
intercourse appears to have been fully re-established, for we find the two
dining with each other again, and besides, when Franklin was on his way to
the seacoast, on his return to America, Chaumont and his daughter
accompanied him part of the way. The entire restoration of good feeling
between the two men is also shown in the letters and conduct of Franklin
after his return to America. Chaumont was one of the group of French
friends favored by him with gifts of the Franklin Myrtle Wax Soap,
"thought," he said, "to be the best in the World, for Shaving & for washing
Chinces, and other things of delicate Colours." In one of his letters from
Philadelphia, Franklin tells Chaumont that Donatien Le Ray Chaumont, the
Younger, who had come over to America to press certain claims of the elder
Chaumont against the United States, was out at that time with his "son
Bache" and some others on a hunt. It is in this letter, by the way, that he
said of Finck, his _maître d' hôtel_ at Passy, who was pretending that he
was not wholly paid, "He was continually saying of himself, Je suis honnête
homme, Je suis honnête homme. But I always suspected he was mistaken; and
so it proves." In another letter, he wrote to Chaumont, "I have frequently
the Pleasure of seeing your valuable Son, whom I love as my own," and in
this letter he sent his love to all Chaumont's children in France, one of
whom he was in the habit of addressing as "ma femme," another as "ma chere
amie," and still another as "mon enfant." "Present my affectionate Respects
to Madame de Chaumont, and Love to Mad'e Foucault, to ma Femme, ma
chere Amie, et mon Enfant," was one of his messages to Chaumont. This
Madame Foucault was the favorite mentioned by William Temple Franklin, when
he wrote to his grandfather some nine months after the latter found the
manner of Chaumont "cold and dry," "All the family (the Chaumonts) send
their love to you, and the beautiful M'e Foucault accompanys hers with an
English kiss." A challenge of that kind was always promptly caught up by
Franklin. "Thanks to Mad'e Foucault," he replied, "for her kindness in
sending me the Kiss. It was grown cold by the way. I hope for a warm one
when we meet."

An amusing observation of Madame Chaumont, which has its value, as an
illustration of eighteenth-century manners in France, is quoted in a letter
from Franklin to John Paul Jones:

     L'Abbé Rochon had just been telling me & Madame
     Chaumont [wrote Franklin] that the old Gardiner & his
     Wife had complained to the Curate, of your having
     attack'd her in the Garden about 7 o'clock the evening
     before your Departure, and attempted to ravish her
     relating all the Circumstances, some of which are not
     fit for me to write. The serious Part of it was yt
     three of her Sons were determin'd to kill you, if you
     had not gone off; the Rest occasioned some Laughing;
     for the old Woman being one of the grossest, coarsest,
     dirtiest & ugliest that we may find in a thousand,
     Madame Chaumont said it gave a high Idea of the
     Strength of Appetite & Courage of the Americans. A Day
     or two after, I learnt yt it was the femme de
     Chambre of Mademoiselle Chaumont who had disguis'd
     herself in a Suit, I think, of your Cloaths, to divert
     herself under that Masquerade, as is customary the last
     evening of Carnival: and that meeting the old Woman in
     the Garden, she took it into her Head to try her
     Chastity, which it seems was found Proof.

The wit of Madame de Chaumont, however, shows to better advantage in
connection with another incident. One of Franklin's friends was
Mademoiselle Passy, a beautiful girl, whom he was in the habit of calling,
so John Adams tells us, "his favorite, and his flame, and his love," which
flattered the family, and did not displease the young lady. When her
engagement to the Marquis de Tonnerre was announced, Madame de Chaumont
exclaimed to Franklin, "Hélas! tous les conducteurs de Monsieur Franklin
n'ont pas empêché le tonnerre de tomber sur Mademoiselle de Passy."
Franklin himself was entirely too good a conductor of wit not to pass a
thing like this on.

     It gives me great Pleasure Madam my respected
     Neighbour, [he said in a letter to Madame de
     Boulainvilliers, the mother of the Semele upon whom the
     Marquis was about to descend] to learn that our lovely
     Child is soon to be married with your Approbation &
     that we are not however to be immediately depriv'd of
     her Company. I assure you I shall make no Use of my
     Paratonnerre [lightning-rod] to prevent this Match.

Franklin's republican simplicity began and ended with his unpowdered hair,
worn straight, and covered with a cap of marten fur, and his russet dress.
At Passy, he lived in a manner that Vergennes, accustomed to the splendor
and profusion of European Courts, might well call modest, but which was
quite as lavish as was consistent with the reputation of a plain democrat
or of a veritable philosopher. Under the terms of his contract with his
_maître d'hôtel_, the latter was to provide _déjeuner_ and dinner daily for
five persons. The _déjeuner_ was to consist of bread and butter, honey, and
coffee or chocolate with sugar, and the dinner of a joint of beef, or veal
or mutton, followed by fowl or game with "deux plats d'entremets, deux
plats de legumes, et un plat de Pattisserie, avec hors d'oeuvre, de
Beurres, cornichons, radis, etc." For dessert, there were to be "deux de
Fruit en hiver et 4 en Eté." There were also to be at dinner: "Deux
compottes, un assiette de fromage, un de Biscuits, et un de bonbons," and
"Des Glaces, 2 fois par Semaine en Eté et un fois en Hyver." The cost of
this service per month was 720 livres. There was also an allowance of 240
livres per month for nine domestic servants, and of 400 livres per month
for extra dinners for guests; making the total monthly cost of Franklin's
table 1360 livres. And there was no lack of good wine, red or white,
_ordinaire_ or _extraordinaire_. In 1778, there were 1180 bottles of wine
and rum in the cellar at Passy, and, some four and one half years later,
there were 1203. Franklin also maintained a carriage and coachman at a cost
of 5018 livres per year. By a resolution of Congress, the salaries of the
different Commissioners of the United States in Europe were fixed at 11,428
livres tournois per annum, in addition to their reasonable expenses, and
the total expenses of Franklin in France are computed by Smyth to have been
about $15,000 per annum, a moderate sum, indeed, in comparison with the
amount necessary to sustain the dignity of our Minister to France at the
present time. Nevertheless, the _ménage_ at Passy was luxurious enough for
him to be warned that it had been described at home by some of his guests
in such terms as to provoke popular censure on the part of his countrymen.

     They must be contented for the future [Franklin said in
     a letter to John Adams] as I am, with plain beef and
     pudding. The readers of Connecticut newspapers ought
     not to be troubled for any more accounts of our
     extravagance. For my own part, if I could sit down to
     dinner on a piece of excellent salt pork and pumpkin, I
     would not give a farthing for all the luxuries of

After this time, Franklin did not keep such an open house as before,
considerably to the relief of his gout. Previously, if we may believe John
Adams, he had made a practice of inviting everybody to dine with him on
Sunday at Passy. Sometimes, his company was made up exclusively, or all but
exclusively, of Americans, and sometimes partly of Americans, and partly of
French, and, now and then, there was an Englishman or so. Miss Adams
mentions a "sumptuous dinner," at which the members of the Adams family,
the Marquis de la Fayette and his wife, Lord Mount Morris, an Irish
Volunteer, Dr. Jeffries, and Paul Jones were guests. Another dinner is
mentioned by her at which all the guests were Americans, except M. Brillon,
who had dropped in, he said, "à demander un diné à Père Franklin." A
whimsical story is told by Jefferson of still another dinner at which one
half of the guests were Americans and one half French.

     Among the last [he says] was the Abbé (Raynal). During
     the dinner he got on his favorite theory of the
     degeneracy of animals, and even of men, in America, and
     urged it with his usual eloquence. The Doctor at length
     noticing the accidental stature and position of his
     guests, at table, "Come," says he, "M. L'Abbé, let us
     try this question by the fact before us. We are here
     one half Americans, and one half French, and it happens
     that the Americans have placed themselves on one side
     of the table, and our French friends are on the other.
     Let both parties rise, and we will see on which side
     nature has degenerated." It happened that his American
     guests were Carmichael, Harmer, Humphreys, and others
     of the finest stature and form; while those of the
     other side were remarkably diminutive, and the Abbé
     himself, particularly, was a mere shrimp. He parried
     the appeal, however, by a complimentary admission of
     exceptions, among which the Doctor himself was a
     conspicuous one.

Not the least interesting of the guests that Franklin drew around his table
at Passy were lads, who had a claim upon his notice, either because they
were the sons, or grandsons, of friends of his, or because they were
friends of his grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache. In a letter to Doctor
Cooper, Franklin tells him that his grandson, Samuel Cooper Johonnot
appeared a very promising lad, in whom he thought that the doctor would
have much satisfaction, and was well on the preceding Sunday, when he had
had the pleasure of his company to dinner with Mr. Adams' sons, and some
other young Americans. There is still in existence a letter from John
Quincy Adams, then a boy of eleven, to Franklin, which indicates that the
latter had quite won his heart, though, do what he might, he could never
win the heart of the elder Adams.

It was a brilliant society, to which Franklin was introduced, after the
first reserve of the French Court, before its recognition of American
independence, was laid aside. He had the magpie habit of hoarding every
scrap of paper or cardboard, that bore the imprint of his existence, and
Smyth, the latest editor of Franklin's works, has, with his usual
diligence, compiled the names that appear most frequently on the visiting
cards, found among Franklin's papers. They are such significant names as
those of La Duchesse d'Enville, her son Le Duc de la Rochefoucauld, M.
Turgot, Duc de Chaulnes, Comte de Crillon, Vicomte de Sarsfield, M.
Brisson, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Comte de Milly, Prince des
Deuxponts, Comte d'Estaing, Marquis de Mirabeau and M. Beaugeard, Treasurer
of the State of Brittany.

The Diary of John Adams reveals Franklin and himself dining on one occasion
with La Duchesse d'Enville, and "twenty of the great people of France," on
another with M. Chalut, one of the farmers-general, and the old Marshal
Richelieu, and "a vast number of other great company," on another with the
Prince de Tingry, Duc de Beaumont, of the illustrious House of Montmorency,
and on another with La Duchesse d'Enville, along with her daughter and
granddaughter, and dukes, abbots and the like so numerous that the list
ends with a splutter of et ceteras. "Dukes, and bishops and counts, etc."
are the overburdened words with which Adams closes his list of the guests
at a dinner given by Vergennes, the minister of Louis XVI.

But, after all, it was the circle of intimate friends, to which Franklin
promised to introduce John Jay on the arrival of Jay in France, that
constitutes the chief interest of the former's social life in France. Three
of these friends were Madame Helvétius, Madame Brillon and the Comtesse
d'Houdetot. With Madame Helvétius, he dined every Saturday at Auteuil, with
Madame Brillon twice a week at the home of her husband, not far from his,
and with the Comtesse d'Houdetot frequently at Sanois, in the Valley of
Montmorency. Madame Helvétius was known to her friends as "Our Lady of
Auteuil." She was the widow of Helvétius, the philosopher, who had left her
a handsome fortune, amassed by him when one of the farmers-general. In
testimony of her affection for him, she kept under glass, on a table in her
bedroom, a monument erected to his memory, with his picture hung above it.
Her _salon_ was one of the best-known in France, and it was maintained on
such a sumptuous scale that, in one of his letters, after his return to
America, Franklin told her that often in his dreams he placed himself by
her side on one of her thousand sofas. It was at Auteuil that he passed
some of his happiest hours in France, plying its mistress with flattery and
badinage, and enjoying the music of her two daughters, known to the
household as "the Stars," and the conversation of her friends, the younger
Cabanis, and the Abbés Morellet and de la Roche. One of the amusements of
the inner circle at Auteuil was to read aloud to each other little trifles,
full of point and grace which they had composed. Thus, though after
Franklin had returned to America, was ushered into the world the Abbé
Morellet's _Very Humble Petition to Madame Helvétius from her
Cats_--animals which appear to have had a position in her home as assured
as that of "the Stars" or the Abbés themselves; and several of the wittiest
of the productions, which Franklin called his Bagatelles, originated in the
same way. If homage, seasoned with delightful humor and wit, could have
kept the mistress of Auteuil, at the age of sixty, from incurring the
malice of the female contemporary, who, we are told by Miss Adams, compared
her with the ruins of Palmyra, that of Franklin would assuredly have done
it. When she complained that he had not been to see her for a long time, he
evaded the reproach of absence by replying, "I am waiting, Madame, until
the nights are longer." Whatever others might think, she was to him, "his
fair friend at Auteuil," who still possessed "health and personal charms."
What cleverer application could there be than this of the maxim of Hesiod
that the half is sometimes more than the whole:

     Very dear Friend, we shall have some good music
     to-morrow morning at breakfast. Can you give me the
     pleasure of sharing in it. The time will be half past
     ten. This is a problem that a mathematician will
     experience some trouble in explaining; In sharing other
     things, each of us has only one portion; but in sharing
     pleasures with you, my portion is doubled. The part is
     more than the whole.

On another occasion, when Madame Helvétius reminded Franklin that she
expected to meet him at Turgot's, he replied, "Mr. Franklin never forgets
any party at which Madame Helvétius is expected. He even believes that, if
he were engaged to go to Paradise this morning, he would pray for
permission to remain on earth until half-past one, to receive the embrace
promised him at the Turgots."

Poor Deborah seems altogether lost, and forgotten when we read these lines
that he wrote to the Abbé de la Roche:

     I have often remarked, when reading the works of M.
     Helvétius, that, although we were born and reared in
     two countries so remote from each other, we have
     frequently had the same thoughts; and it is a
     reflection very flattering to me that we have loved the
     same studies, and, as far as we have both known them,
     the same friends, and the same woman.

But the image of Deborah was not so completely effaced from Franklin's
memory that he could not conjure up her shade for a moment to excite a
retaliatory impulse in the breast which he had found insensible to his
proposals of marriage, serious, or affected. If Madame Helvétius, who was
illiterate like Deborah, did not appreciate the light, aërial humor of the
following dream from the pen of the author of _The Art of Procuring
Pleasant Dreams_, we may be sure that her witty Abbés did:

     Mortified by your cruel resolution, declared by you so
     positively yesterday evening, to remain single the rest
     of your life, out of respect for your dear husband, I
     retired to my home, threw myself upon my bed, and
     dreamt that I was dead and in the Elysian Fields.

     I was asked whether I wished to see any persons in
     particular. "Conduct me to the philosophers," I
     replied. "There are two who live here close by in this
     garden; they are very good neighbors and very friendly
     with each other," I was told. "Who are they?" "Socrates
     and Helvétius." "I esteem them both immensely, but let
     me see Helvétius first, because I understand a little
     French, but not a word of Greek." He received me with
     much courtesy, having known me, he said, by reputation
     for some time past. He asked me a thousand questions
     about the war, the present state of religion, of
     liberty, and politics in France. "You do not ask me
     then," I said, "anything about your dear _amie_, Madame
     Helvétius; yet she loves you still exceedingly, and I
     was at her home only an hour ago." "Ah," said he, "you
     bring back to me my past happiness, but it must be
     forgotten to be happy here. During several of my first
     years here, I thought only of her, but at length I am
     consoled. I have taken another wife, one as much like
     her as I could find. She is not, it is true, quite so
     handsome, but she has as much good sense, and much
     _esprit_, and she loves me infinitely. Her continuous
     aim is to please me, and she is at this moment gone to
     look up the best nectar and ambrosia to regale me with
     this evening; stay here awhile, and you will see her."
     "I perceive," said I, "that your former _amie_ is more
     faithful than you are; for she has had several good
     offers, but has refused them all. I confess that I
     myself have loved her to distraction, but she was
     obdurate, and has rejected me peremptorily for love of
     you." "I pity your misfortune," said he, "for in truth
     she is a good and handsome woman, and very lovable."
     "But are not the Abbé de la R---- and the Abbé M----
     still some times at her house?" "Yes, to be sure, for
     she has not lost a single one of your friends." "If you
     had induced the Abbé M----(with some good coffee and
     cream) to say a word for you, you would, perhaps, have
     succeeded; for he is as subtle a reasoner as Duns
     Scotus or St. Thomas; he marshals his arguments in such
     good order that they become almost irresistible. And if
     the Abbé de la R---- had been induced (by some fine
     edition of an old classic) to say a word against you,
     that would have been better; for I have always observed
     that when he advised her to do anything she had a very
     strong inclination to do the reverse." As he was saying
     this, the new Madame Helvétius entered with the nectar,
     and I recognized her instantly as my former American
     _amie_, Mrs. Franklin. I laid claim to her but she said
     to me coldly: "I was a good wife to you for forty-nine
     years and four months, almost a half century; be
     content with that. I have formed a new connection here
     which will last to eternity." Indignant at this refusal
     of my Eurydice, I at once resolved to quit those
     ungrateful shades, and to return to this good world,
     and to gaze again upon the sun and you. Here I am; let
     us avenge ourselves.

It is an animated picture, too, that Franklin strikes off of Our Lady of
Auteuil in a letter to Cabanis, when the latter had been absent for a time
from Auteuil:

     We often talk of you at Auteuil, where everybody loves
     you. I now and then offend our good lady who can not
     long retain her displeasure, but, sitting in state on
     her sopha, extends graciously her long, handsome arm,
     and says "la; baisez ma main: Je vous pardonne," with
     all the dignity of a sultaness. She is as busy as ever,
     endeavoring to make every creature about her happy,
     from the Abbés down thro' all ranks of the family to
     the birds and Poupon.

Poupon was one of the fair lady's eighteen cats. This letter ends with the
request that Cabanis present to his father the writer's thanks to him for
having gotten so valuable a son.

A lively note to Cabanis is in the same vein:

     M. Franklin risen, washed, shaved, combed, beautified
     to the highest degree, of which he is capable, entirely
     dressed, and on the point of going out, with his head
     full of the four Mesdames Helvétius, and of the sweet
     kisses that he proposes to snatch from them, is much
     mortified to find the possibility of this happiness
     being put off until next Sunday. He will exercise as
     much patience as he can, hoping to see one of these
     ladies at the home of M. de Chaumont Wednesday. He will
     be there in good time to see her enter with that grace
     and dignity which charmed him so much seven weeks ago
     in the same place. He even plans to seize her there,
     and to keep her at his home for the rest of her life.
     His remaining three Mesdames Helvétius at Auteuil can
     suffice for the canaries and the Abbés.

Another note to Cabanis illustrates how readily pleasantry of this kind ran
in the eighteenth century into gross license:

     M. Franklin is sorry to have caused the least hurt to
     those beautiful tresses that he always regards with
     pleasure. If that Lady likes to pass her days with him,
     he would like as much to pass his nights with her; and
     since he has already given many of his days to her,
     although he had such a small remnant of them to give,
     she would seem ungrateful to have never given him a
     single one of her nights, which run continually to pure
     waste, without promoting the good fortune of any one
     except Poupon.

When the reader is told that this letter ended with the words, "to be shown
to our Lady of Auteuil," his mind is not unprepared for the graphic
description by Abigail Adams of a dinner at which Madame Helvétius was the
central figure:

     She entered the room with a careless, jaunty air; upon
     seeing ladies who were strangers to her, she bawled
     out, "Ah, mon Dieu, where is Franklin? Why did you not
     tell me there were ladies here?" You must suppose her
     speaking all this in French. "How I look!" said she,
     taking hold of a chemise made of tiffany, which she had
     on over a blue lutestring, and which looked as much
     upon the decay as her beauty, for she was once a
     handsome woman; her hair was frizzled; over it she had
     a small straw hat, with a dirty gauze half-handkerchief
     round it, and a bit of dirtier gauze than ever my maids
     wore was bowed on behind. She had a black gauze scarf
     thrown over her shoulders. She ran out of the room;
     when she returned, the Doctor entered at one door, she
     at the other; upon which she ran forward to him, caught
     him by the hand, "Hélas! Franklin;" then gave him a
     double kiss, one upon each cheek, and another upon his
     forehead. When we went into the room to dine, she was
     placed between the Doctor and Mr. Adams. She carried on
     the chief of the conversation at dinner, frequently
     locking her hands into the Doctor's, and sometimes
     spreading her arms upon the backs of both the
     gentlemen's chairs, then throwing her arm carelessly
     upon the Doctor's neck.

     I should have been greatly astonished at this conduct,
     if the good Doctor had not told me that in this lady I
     should see a genuine Frenchwoman, wholly free from
     affectation or stiffness of behaviour, and one of the
     best women in the world. For this I must take the
     Doctor's word; but I should have set her down for a
     very bad one, although sixty years of age, and a widow.
     I own I was highly disgusted, and never wish for an
     acquaintance with any ladies of this cast. After
     dinner, she threw herself upon a settee, where she
     showed more than her feet. She had a little lapdog, who
     was, next to the Doctor, her favorite. This she kissed,
     and when he wet the floor she wiped it up with her
     chemise. This is one of the Doctor's most intimate
     friends, with whom he dines once every week, and she
     with him. She is rich, and is my near neighbour; but I
     have not yet visited her. Thus you see, my dear, that
     manners differ exceedingly in different countries. I
     hope however, to find among the French ladies manners
     more consistent with my ideas of decency, or I shall be
     a mere recluse.

This, of course, in part, was but the New England snowdrop expressing its
disapproval of the full-blown red rose of France, but it is impossible for
all the pigments in the picture, painted by the skilful hand of Abigail
Adams, to have been supplied by the moral austerity of Puritanism. Miss
Adams, we might add, followed up her mother's impression with a prim ditto
in her journal: "Dined at Mr. Franklin's by invitation; a number of
gentlemen and Madame Helvétius, a French lady sixty years of age. Odious
indeed do our sex appear when divested of those ornaments, with which
modesty and delicacy adorn us." But we suspect that the Doctor was right in
saying that Madame Helvétius, free and tawdry as she seemed to Abigail
Adams and her daughter, was one of the best women in the world; that is to
say her world. We are told that, when she was convalescing from an illness,
four hundred persons assembled at Auteuil to express the pleasure they felt
at the prospect of her recovery. Beneath the noisy, lax manners, which Mrs.
Adams delineates so mercilessly, there must have been another and a very
different Madame Helvétius to have won such a tribute as the following from
a man who had known what it was to be tenderly beloved by more than one
pure, thoroughly refined and accomplished woman:

     And now I mention your friends, let me tell you, that I
     have in my way been trying to form some hypothesis to
     account for your having so many, and of such various
     kinds. I see that statesmen, philosophers, historians,
     poets, and men of learning of all sorts are drawn
     around you, and seem as willing to attach themselves to
     you as straws about a fine piece of amber. It is not
     that you make pretensions to any of their sciences; and
     if you did, similarity of studies does not always make
     people love one another. It is not that you take pains
     to engage them; artless simplicity is a striking part
     of your character. I would not attempt to explain it by
     the story of the ancient, who, being asked why
     philosophers sought the acquaintance of kings, and
     kings not that of philosophers, replied that
     philosophers knew what they wanted, which was not
     always the case with kings. Yet thus far the comparison
     may go, that we find in your sweet society that
     charming benevolence, that amiable attention to oblige,
     that disposition to please and be pleased, which we do
     not always find in the society of one another. It
     springs from you; it has its influence on us all, and
     in your company we are not only pleased with you, but
     better pleased with one another and ourselves.

There can be no doubt that the friendship between the two was a real,
genuine sentiment. When Franklin was doubting whether he was not too old
and decrepit to cross the Atlantic, she was one of the three friends who
urged him to spend his last days in France, and live with them. It was
hardly fair, therefore, when she exclaimed after the departure of Franklin
from France, in the presence of Madame Brillon, "Ah, that great man, that
dear man, we shall see him no more," for Madame Brillon to retort, "It is
entirely your fault, Madame."

From Havre he sent back tender farewells to his "très chere amie." They
were awaiting, he said, their baggage and fellow-voyager, Mr. Houdon, the
sculptor. "When they come, we shall quit France, the country of the world
that I love the best; and I shall leave there my dear Helvetia. She can be
happy there. I am not sure of being happy in America; but it is necessary
for me to go there. Things seem to me to be badly arranged here below, when
I see beings so well constituted to be happy together compelled to
separate." Then after a message of friendship to "the Abbés the good
Abbés," the _vale_ dies out in these fond words: "I do not tell you that I
love you. I might be told that there was nothing strange or meritorious in
that, because the whole world loves you. I only hope that you will always
love me a little."

Nor did the separation worked by the Atlantic produce any change in these
feelings. In the letters written by Franklin to Madame Helvétius, and the
members of her circle, after his return to Philadelphia, there is the same
spirit of affection for her and for them, as well as a wistful retrospect
of his chats with her on her thousand sofas, his walks with her in her
garden, and the repasts at her table, always seasoned by sound sense,
sprightliness and friendship. One of his commissions seems to have been to
obtain a cardinal red bird for the "good dame," as he calls her in a letter
to the Abbé Morellet from Philadelphia. "The good Dame, whom we all love,
and whose Memory I shall love and honour as long as I have any Existence,"
were his words. But the commission was difficult of execution. The Virginia
cardinal, he wrote to the Abbé, was a tender bird that stood the sea but
poorly. Several sent out to France for their dame by Mr. Alexander, in his
tobacco ships, had never arrived, he understood, and, "unless a Friend was
going in the Ship who would take more than common Care of them," he
supposed, "one might send an hundred without landing one alive."

     They would be very happy, I know [he said], if they
     were once under her Protection; but they cannot come to
     her, and she will not come to them. She may remember
     the Offer I made her of 1,000 Acres of Woodland, out of
     which she might cut a great Garden and have 1,000
     Aviaries if she pleased. I have a large Tract on the
     Ohio where Cardinals are plenty. If I had been a
     Cardinal myself perhaps I might have prevail'd with

In his efforts to transport the Cardinal, Franklin even enlisted the
services of Mr. Paradise, who, if contemporary gossip is reliable, might
well have pleaded the preoccupation imposed upon him of protecting himself
from the beak of his own termagant wife. Madame Helvétius, however, was not
so eager for a cardinal as not to be willing to wait until one could be
brought over by a proper escort. "I am in no hurry at all," she wrote to
Franklin; "I will wait; for I am not willing to be the death of these
pretty creatures. I will wait." In this same letter, there is an amusing
mixture of tenderness and banter. Declining health and advancing years, she
said, would but enable them the sooner to meet again as well as to meet
again those whom they had loved, she a husband and he a wife; "but I
believe," she wipes the moisture from her eyes long enough to say, "that
you who have been a rogue (_coquin_) will be restored to more than one."

From what we have said, it is plain enough that the friendship felt by
Madame Helvétius for the Abbés Morellet and de la Roche was shared by
Franklin. When he touched at Southampton, after leaving Havre, on his
return to America, he wafted another fond farewell to Madame Helvétius; "I
will always love you," he said, "think of me sometimes, and write sometimes
to your B. F." This letter, too, contained the usual waggish reference to
the Abbés. "Adieu, my very, very, very dear amie. Wish us a good voyage,
and tell the good Abbés to pray for us, since that is their profession."
The _Very Humble Petition to Madame Helvétius from her Cats_ was long
ascribed to Franklin, but it was really written by the Abbé Morellet. After
reading it, Franklin wrote to the Abbé that the rapidity, with which the
good lady's eighteen cats were increasing, would, in time, make their cause
insupportable, and that their friends should, therefore, advise them to
submit voluntarily either to transportation or castration. How deeply the
Abbé Morellet was attached to Franklin is feelingly revealed in the letters
which he wrote to him after the latter had arrived safely in America; to
say nothing of the Abbé's Memoirs.

     May your days [he wrote in one of these letters] be
     prolonged and be free from pain; may your friends long
     taste the sweetness and the charm of your society, and
     may those whom the seas have separated from you be
     still happy in the thought that the end of your career
     will be, as our good La Fontaine says, "the evening of
     a fine day."

Then, after some political reflections, suggested by the liberal
institutions of America, the Abbé indulges in a series of gay comments on
the habit that their Lady of Auteuil had, in her excessive love of coffee,
of robbing him of his share of the cream, on the vicious bulldog brought
over by Temple to France from England and on the host of cats, that had
multiplied in the woodhouse and woodyard at Auteuil, under the patronage of
their mistress, and did nothing but keep their paws in their furred gowns,
and warm themselves in the sun. Friends of liberty, these cats, the Abbé
said, were entirely out of place under the governments of Europe. Nothing
could be more suitable than to load a small vessel with them and ship them
to America. Another letter from the Abbé concluded with these heartfelt

     I shall never forget the happiness I have enjoyed in
     knowing you, and seeing you intimately. I write to you
     from Auteuil, seated in your arm-chair, on which I have
     engraved, _Benjamin Franklin hic sedebat_, and having
     by my side the little bureau, which you bequeathed to
     me at parting, with a drawer full of nails to gratify
     the love of nailing and hammering, which I possess in
     common with you. But believe me, I have no need of all
     these helps to cherish your endeared _remembrance_, and
     to love you,

    "Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos reget artus."

During their jolly intercourse in France, the Abbé Morellet and Franklin
touched glasses in two highly convivial productions. On one of the
anniversaries of the birth of Franklin, or of American liberty, the Abbé
could not remember which, the Abbé composed a drinking song in honor of
Franklin, and among the letters written by Franklin when he was in France
was one to the Abbé in which wine is lauded in terms of humorous
exaggeration. One of the verses of the Abbé's production refers to the
American War, and has been translated in these words by Parton:

    "Never did mankind engage
    In a war with views more sage;
    They seek freedom with design,
    To drink plenty of French wine;
    Such has been
    The intent of Benjamin."

The other verses are no better and no worse, and the whole poem is even
more inferior in wit to Franklin's letter to the Abbé than the _Very Humble
Petition to Madame Helvétius from her Cats_, clever though it be, is to
Franklin's _Journey to the Elysian Fields_. If we had nothing but these
bibulous productions to judge by, we might infer that love of wine, quite
as much as love of Madame Helvétius was the tie of connection between the
Abbé Morellet and Franklin. Indeed, in the letter to Franklin with respect
to the cats, the Abbé was quite as candid about expressing his partiality
for one form of spirits as Franklin was in his unblushing eulogy of wine.
He did not know, he said, what duties his cats, in the unsettled condition
of the commercial relations between France and the United States, would be
made to pay on arriving at Philadelphia; "and then," he continued, "if my
vessel should find nothing to load with among you but grain, it could not
touch at our islands to take in sugar, or to bring me back good rum either,
which I love much."

When the Abbé de la Roche made a gift to Franklin of a volume of Helvétius'
poems, Franklin was quick to give him a recompense in the form of a little
drinking song which he had composed some forty years before. The plan of
this poem is for the chorus, whenever the singer dwells upon any other
source of gratification, to insist so vociferously upon friends and a
bottle as the highest as to finally, so to speak, drown the singer out.



    "Fair Venus calls; her voice obey,
    In beauty's arms spend night and day.
    The joys of love all joys excel,
    And loving's certainly doing well.


    "Oh! no!
    Not so!
    For honest souls know,
    Friends and a bottle still bear the bell."

In a letter to William Carmichael, enclosing his brilliant little
bagatelle, _The Ephemera_, Franklin described Madame Brillon in these

     The person to whom it was addressed is Madame Brillon,
     a lady of most respectable character and pleasing
     conversation; mistress of an amiable family in this
     neighbourhood, with which I spend an evening twice in
     every week. She has, among other elegant
     accomplishments, that of an excellent musician; and,
     with her daughters, who sing prettily, and some friends
     who play, she kindly entertains me and my grand son
     with little concerts, a cup of tea, and a game of
     chess. I call this _my Opera_, for I rarely go to the
     Opera at Paris.

Madame Brillon was the wife of a public functionary much older than
herself, who yet, as her own letters to Franklin divulge, did not feel that
strict fidelity to her was necessary to soften the difference in their

     My father [she wrote on one occasion to Franklin],
     marriage in this country is made by weight of gold. On
     one end of the scale is placed the fortune of a boy, on
     the other that of a girl; when equality is found the
     affair is ended to the satisfaction of the relatives.
     One does not dream of consulting taste, age,
     congeniality of character; one marries a young girl
     whose heart is full of youth's fire and its cravings to
     a man who has used them up; then one exacts that this
     woman be virtuous--my friend, this story is mine, and
     of how many others! I shall do my best that it may not
     be that of my daughters, but alas, shall I be mistress
     of their fate?

The correspondence between Madame Brillon and Franklin was very voluminous.
Among the Franklin papers in the possession of the American Philosophical
Society, there are no less than 119 letters from her to him, and in the
same collection there are also the rough drafts of some of his letters in
French to her. More than one of them are marked with corrections by her
hand. Repeated statements of hers show that she took a very indulgent view
of his imperfect mastery of the French language. When he sent to the
Brillons his French translation of his _Dialogue between the Gout and M.
Franklin_, she returned it to him, "corrected and made worse in several
particulars by a savant, and devoted to destruction by the critical notes
of a woman who is no savant," and she took occasion at the same time to

     Your dialogue has greatly amused me, but your corrector
     of French has spoiled your work. Believe me, leave your
     productions as they are, use words which mean
     something, and laugh at the grammarians who enfeeble
     all your phrases with their purisms. If I had the
     brains, I should utter a dire diatribe against those
     who dare to touch you up, even if it were the Abbé de
     la Roche, or my neighbor Veillard.

And after reading _The Whistle_ of Franklin, she wrote to him, "M. Brillon
has laughed heartily over the Whistle: we find that what you call your bad
French often gives a piquant flavor to your narrative by reason of a
certain turn of phraseology and the words you invent."

It may well be doubted whether there is anything more brilliant in literary
history than the letters which make up the correspondence between Madame
Brillon and Franklin, and the marvel is that the intellectual quality of
his letters should, in every respect, be as distinctly French as that of
hers. His easy, fleeting touch, his unflagging vivacity, his wit, his
fertility of invention, his amative coloring are all as thoroughly French
as bonbons or champagne. The tame domesticity of his forty-nine years of
sober American wedlock, the calm, well-regulated flow of his thoughts and
habits in conservative England, under the roof of Mrs. Stevenson, and at
the country seat of the "Good Bishop," the Philosophy of Poor Richard, the
Art of Virtue, are exchanged for a character which, except when a suitable
match was to be found for M. Franklinet, as Madame Brillon called William
Temple Franklin, apparently took no account of anything but the pursuit of
pleasure, as pleasure was pursued by the people, who have, of all others,
most nearly succeeded in giving to it the rank of a respectable divinity.
In all the letters of Franklin to Madame Brillon, there is not a sentiment
with a characteristic American or English inflection in it. How far his
approaches to the beautiful and clever wife of M. Brillon were truly
erotic, and how far merely the conventional courtship of a gifted but aged
man, who had survived everything, that belongs to passion but its language,
it is impossible to say. We only know that, if his gallantry was specious
merely, he maintained it with a degree of pertinacity, which there is only
too much reason to believe might have had a different issue if it had been
more youthful and genuine. A handsome, talented Frenchwoman, of the
eighteenth century, burdened with a faithless husband, not too old for the
importunity of a heart full, to use her own expression, of youth's fire and
cravings, and tolerant enough to sit on an admirer's knees, and to write
responsive replies to letters from him, accompanied by a perpetual refrain
of sexuality, would, to say the least, have been in considerable danger of
forgetting her marriage vows if her Colin had been younger. As it was, the
tenderness of Madame Brillon for her "cher Papa" appears to have produced
no results worse than a series of letters from her pen, as finished as
enamel, which show that in every form of defensive warfare, literary or
amorous, she was quite a match for the great man, who was disposed to
forget how long he had lingered in a world which has nothing but a laugh
for the efforts of December to pass itself off as May.

"Do you know, my dear Papa," she wrote to him on one occasion, "that people
have criticized my pleasant habit of sitting on your lap, and yours of
asking me for what I always refuse?" In this world, she assured him, she
would always be a gentle and virtuous woman, and the most that she would
promise was to be his wife in Paradise, if he did not ogle the maidens
there too much while waiting for her.

When the hardy resolution is once formed of reviewing the correspondence
between Franklin and Madame Brillon, the most difficult task is that of

     What! [she wrote to "Monsieur Papa" from Nice, after
     the capitulation of Cornwallis] You capture entire
     armies in America, you burgoinise Cornwallis, you take
     cannon, vessels, munitions of war, men, horses, etc.,
     etc. you capture everything and from everybody, and the
     gazette alone brings it to the knowledge of your
     friends, who befuddle themselves with drinking to your
     health, to that of Washington, of Independence, of the
     King of France, of the Marquis de la Fayette, of the
     Mrs: de Rochambault, Chalelux etc., etc. while you
     do not exhibit a sign of life to them; yet you should
     be a bon vivant at this time, although you rarely err
     in that respect, and you are surely twenty years
     younger because of this good news, which ought to bring
     us a lasting peace after a glorious war.

To this letter, Franklin replied on Christmas Day of the year 1781, the
birthday of the Dauphin of Heaven, he called it in the letter. He was very
sensible, he said, to the greatness of their victory, but war was full of
vicissitudes and uncertainty, and he played its game with the same evenness
of temper that she had seen him bring to the good and bad turns of a game
of chess. That was why he had said so little of the surrender, and had only
remarked that nothing could make him perfectly happy under certain
circumstances. The point, of course, was that still another capitulation
was essential to his happiness. He then proceeds to tell Madame Brillon
that, everywhere from Paris to Versailles, everyone spoke of her with
respect, and some with affection and even admiration; which was music to
his ears.

     I often pass before your house [he adds]. It wears a
     desolate look to me. Heretofore, I have broken the
     commandment in coveting it along with my neighbour's
     wife. Now I do not covet it. Thus I am the less a
     sinner. But with regard to the wife, I always find
     these commandments very inconvenient, and I am sorry
     that we are cautioned to practise them. Should you find
     yourself in your travels at the home of St. Peter, ask
     him to recall them, as intended only for the Jews, and
     as too irksome for good Christians.

These specimens are true to the language of the entire correspondence, but
further excerpts from it will not be amiss for the purpose of enabling us
to realize how agreeable the flirtation between the two must have been to
have produced such a lengthy correspondence despite the fact that Franklin
visited Madame Brillon at least every Wednesday and Saturday.

On Nov. 2, 1778, she wrote to Franklin as follows:

     The hope that I had of seeing you here, my dear Papa,
     has kept me from writing to you for Saturday's tea.
     Hope is the remedy for all our ills. If one suffers,
     one hopes for the end of the trouble; if one is with
     friends, one hopes to remain with them always; if one
     is away from them, one hopes to rejoin them,--and this
     is the only hope that is left to me. I shall count the
     days, the hours, the moments; each moment gone brings
     me nearer to you. We like to grow older when it is the
     only means of reuniting us to those whom we love. The
     person, who takes life thus, seeks unceasingly to
     shorten it; he plans, desires; without the future, it
     seems to him that he has nothing. When my children are
     grown up--in ten years--the trees in my garden will
     shade me. The years slip by, then one regrets them. I
     might have done such and such a thing, one says then.
     Had I not been only twenty-five years old, I should not
     have done the foolish thing of which I now repent. The
     wise man alone enjoys the present, does not regret the
     past, and awaits peacefully the future. The wise man,
     who, like you, my Papa, has passed his youth in
     acquiring knowledge and enlightening his fellow-men,
     and his mature years in obtaining liberty for them,
     brings a complaisant eye to bear on the past, enjoys
     the present, and awaits the reward of his labors in the
     future; but how many are wise? I try to become so, and
     am so in some respects: I take no account of wealth,
     vanity has little hold upon my heart; I like to do my
     duty; I freely forgive society its errors and
     injustices. But I love my friends with an idolatry that
     often does me much harm: a prodigious imagination, a
     soul of fire will always get the better of all my plans
     and thoughts. I see, Papa, that I must never lay claim
     to any but the one perfection of loving the most that
     is possible. May this quality make you love your
     daughter always!... Come, you always know how to
     combine a great measure of wisdom with a touch of
     roguishness; you ask Brillon for news of me at the very
     moment when you are receiving a letter from me; you
     play the part of the neglected one, just when you are
     being spoiled, and then you deny it like a madman when
     the secret is discovered. Oh, I have news of you!

     ... Mama, my children, and Mlle. Jupin present their
     respects to you. May I venture to beg you to give my
     kind regards to Mr. Franklinet?

Another letter in the same vein from Madame Brillon to Franklin bears date
May 11, 1779:

     You are quite right, my good Papa, we should find true
     happiness only in peace of mind; it is not in our power
     to change the nature of those with whom we live, nor to
     check the course of the contradictions that surround
     us. It is a wise man who speaks, and who tries to
     comfort his too sensitive daughter by telling her the
     truth. Oh, my father, I beseech your friendship, your
     healthy philosophy; my heart hears you and is
     submissive to you. Give me strength to take the place
     of an indifference that your child can never feel. But
     admit, my friend, that for one who knows how to love,
     ingratitude is a frightful misfortune; that it is hard
     for a woman who would give her life without hesitation
     to insure her husband's happiness to see the results of
     her exertions and her longings wiped out by intrigue,
     and falsity. Time will make everything right; my Papa
     has said so, and I believe it. But my Papa has also
     said that time is the stuff that life is made of. _My_
     life, my friend, is made of a fine and thin stuff, that
     grief rends cruelly; if I had anything to reproach
     myself with, I should long have ceased to exist. My
     soul is pure, simple, frank. I dare to tell my Papa so;
     I dare to tell him that it is worthy of him; I dare
     still to assure him that my conduct, which he has
     deemed wise, will not belie itself, that I shall await
     justice with patience, that I shall follow the advice
     of my worthy friend with steadiness and confidence.

     Adieu, you whom I love so much--my kind Papa. Never
     call me anything but "my daughter." Yesterday you
     called me "Madame," and my heart shrank, I examined
     myself, to see whether I had done you any wrong, or if
     I had some failings that you would not tell me of.
     Pardon, my friend; I am not visiting you with a
     reproach, I am accusing myself of a weakness. I was
     born much too sensitive for my happiness and for that
     of my friends; cure me, or pity me; if you can, do one
     or the other.

     Tomorrow, Wednesday, you will come to tea, will you
     not? Believe me, my Papa, that the pleasure I feel in
     receiving you is shared by my husband, my children, and
     my friends; I cannot doubt it, and I assure you of it.

Franklin's reply to this letter is for a brief moment that of a real father
rather than Monsieur Papa. This reminds us that, in one of her letters to
him, she states that in her own father she had lost her first and best
friend, and recalled the fact that Franklin had told her of the custom of
certain savages, who adopt the prisoners, that they capture in war, and
make them take the place of the relations whom they have lost. In answer to
her statement that ingratitude is a frightful misfortune, he says: "That is
true--to ingrates--but not to their benefactors. You have conferred
benefits on those that you have believed worthy of them; you have,
therefore, done your duty, as it is a part of our duty to be kindly, and
you ought to be satisfied with that and happy in the reflection." This was
followed by the advice to his "very dear and always lovable daughter" to
continue to fulfill all her duties as a good mother, a good wife, a good
friend, a good neighbor, a good Christian, etc. We shall see a little later
on what he deemed a part of the duty of a good charitable Christian to be.
The letter terminates with an apology for his bad French. "It may," he
said, "disgust you, you who write that charming language with so much
purity and elegance. But, if you can in the end decipher my awkward and
improper expressions, you will, at least, perhaps, experience the kind of
pleasure that we find in solving enigmas or discovering secrets."

His letter transmitting his _Dialogue with the Gout_ to Madame Brillon was
not so decorous. It was in it that he had a word to say about the other
kind of Christian conduct that he was in the habit of enjoining upon her. A
part of this letter was the following:

     One of the characters in your story, namely, the Gout
     appeared to me to reason well enough, with the
     exception of his supposition that mistresses have had
     something to do with producing this painful malady. I
     myself believe the entire contrary, and this is my
     method of reasoning. When I was a young man, and
     enjoyed the favors of the sex more freely than at
     present, I had no gout. Therefore, if the ladies of
     Passy had had more of that kind of Christian charity,
     that I have often recommended to you in vain, I would
     not have the gout at present. This seems to me to be
     good logic.

     I am much better. I suffer little pain, but I am very
     feeble. I can, as you see, joke a little, but I cannot
     be really gay before I hear that your precious health
     is re-established.

     I send you my Dialogue in the hope that it may amuse
     you at times.

     Many thanks for the three last volumes of Montaigne
     that I return.

     The visit of your ever lovable family yesterday evening
     has done me much good. My God! how I love them all from
     the Grandmother and the father to the smallest child.

The reply of Madame Brillon was in kindred terms:

                            Saturday, 18th November, 1780.

     There would be many little things indeed to criticise
     in your logic, which you fortify so well, my dear Papa.
     "When I was a young man," you say, "and enjoyed the
     favors of the sex more freely than at present, I had no
     gout." "Therefore," one might reply to this, "when I
     threw myself out of the window, I did not break my
     leg." Therefore, you could have the gout without having
     deserved it, and you could have well deserved it, as I
     believe, and not have had it.

     If this last argument is not so brilliant as the
     others, it is clear and sure; what is neither clear nor
     sure are the arguments of philosophers who insist that
     everything that happens in the world is necessary to
     the general movement of the universal machine. I
     believe that the machine would go neither better nor
     worse if you did not have the gout, and if I were
     forever rid of my nervous troubles.

     I do not see what help, more or less, these little
     incidents can give to the wheels that turn this world
     at random, and I know that my little machine goes very
     much the worse for them. What I know very well besides,
     is that pain sometimes becomes mistress of reason, and
     that patience alone can overcome these two nuisances. I
     have as much of it as I can, and I advise you, my
     friend, to have the same amount. When frosts have cast
     a gloom over the earth, a bright sun makes us forget
     them. We are in the midst of frosts, and must wait
     patiently for this bright sun, and, while waiting for
     it, amuse ourselves in the moments when weakness and
     pain leave us some rest. _This_, my dear Papa, is _my_

     Adieu, my good Papa. My big husband will take my letter
     to you; he is very happy to be able to go to see you.
     For me, nothing remains but the faculty of loving my
     friends. You surely do not doubt that I shall do my
     best for you, even to Christian charity, that is to
     say, with the exception of your Christian charity.

She writes a brief letter to Franklin on New Year's Day of 1781:

     If I had a good head and good legs--if, in short, I had
     everything that I lack,--I should have come, like a
     good daughter, to wish a happy New Year to the best of
     papas. But I have only a very tender heart to love him
     well, and a rather bad pen to scribble him that this
     year, as well as last year, and all the years of my
     life, I shall love him, myself alone, as much as all
     the others that love him, put together.

     Brillon and the children present their respects to the
     kind Papa; and we also send a thousand messages for M.

Some four years later, after Franklin had vainly endeavored to marry Temple
Franklin to a daughter of Madame Brillon, we find him writing a letter of
congratulation to her upon the happy _accouchement_ of her daughter. It
elicits a reply in which the cheek of the "beautiful and benignant nature,"
of which she speaks, undergoes a considerable amount of artificial

                                    2nd December, 1784.

     Your letter, my kind Papa, has given me keen pleasure;
     but, if you would give me still more, remain in France
     until you see my sixth generation. I only ask you for
     fifteen or sixteen years: my granddaughter will be
     marriageable early; she is fair and strong. I am
     tasting a new feeling, my good Papa, to which my heart
     surrenders itself with pleasure, it is so sweet to
     love. I have never been able to conceive how beings
     exist who are such enemies to themselves as to reject
     friendship. They are ingrates, we say; well we are
     deceived; that is a little hard sometimes, but we are
     not always so; and to feel oneself incapable of
     returning the treachery affords a satisfaction of
     itself that consoles us for it.

     My little nurse is charming and fresh as a morning
     rose. The first days the child had difficulty,... but
     patience and the mother's courage overcame it; all goes
     well now, and nothing could be more interesting than
     this picture of a young and pretty person nursing a
     superb child, the father uninterruptedly occupied with
     the spectacle, and joining his attentions to those of
     his wife. My eyes are unceasingly moist, and my heart
     rejoices, my kind Papa. You realize so well the value
     of all that belongs to beautiful and benignant nature
     that I owe you these details. My daughter charges me
     with her thanks and compliments to you; _ma Cadette_
     and my men present their regards, and as for me, my
     friend, I beg you to believe that my friendship and my
     existence will always be one as respects you.

Once Franklin sought to corner Madame Brillon with a story, which makes us
feel for a moment as if the rod of transformation was beginning to work a
backward spell, and the Benjamin Franklin of Craven Street and Independence
Hall to be released from the spell of the French Circe:

     To make you better realize the force of my
     demonstration that you do not love me, I commence with
     a little story:

     A beggar asked a rich Bishop for a louis by way of
     alms. You are wild. No one gives a louis to a beggar.
     An écu then. No. That is too much. A liard then,--or
     your benediction. My benediction! Yes, I will give it
     to you. No, I will not accept it. For if it was worth a
     liard, you would not be willing to give it to me. That
     was how this Bishop loved his neighbor. That was his
     charity! And, were I to scrutinize yours, I would not
     find it much greater. I am incredibly hungry for it and
     you have given me nothing to eat. I was a stranger, and
     I was almost as love-sick as Colin when you were
     singing, and you have neither taken me in, nor cured
     me, nor eased me.

     You who are as rich as an Archbishop in all the
     Christian and moral virtues, and could sacrifice a
     small share of some of them without visible loss, you
     tell me that it is asking too much, and that you are
     not willing to do it. That is your charity to a poor
     wretch, who once enjoyed affluence, and is
     unfortunately reduced to soliciting alms. Nevertheless,
     you say you love him. But you would not give him your
     friendship if it involved the expenditure of the least
     little morsel, of the value of a liard, of your wisdom.

But see how nimbly the coquette eludes her pursuer:

     MY DEAR PAPA: Your bishop was a niggard and your beggar
     a queer enough fellow. You are a logician all the
     cleverer because you argue in a charming way, and
     almost awaken an inclination to yield to your unsound
     arguments founded on a false principle. Is it of Dr.
     Franklin, the celebrated philosopher, the profound
     statesman, that a woman speaks with so much
     irreverence? Yes, this erudite man, this legislator,
     has his infirmities (it is the weakness, moreover, of
     great men: he has taken full advantage of it). But let
     us go into the matter.

     To prove that I do not love you, my good Papa, you
     compare yourself to a beggar who asked alms from a
     bishop. Now, the rôle of a bishop is not to refuse to
     give to beggars when they are really in want; he honors
     himself in doing good. But in truth the kind of charity
     which you ask of me so amusingly can be found
     everywhere. You will not grow thin because of my
     refusals! What would you think of your beggar, if, the
     bishop having given him the "louis" which he asked, he
     had grumbled because he did not get two? That, however,
     is your case, my good friend.

     You adopted me as your daughter, I chose you for my
     father: what do you expect of me? Friendship! Well, I
     love you as a daughter should love her father. The
     purest, the most respectful, the tenderest affection
     for you fills my soul; you asked me for a "louis"; I
     gave it to you, and yet you murmur at not getting
     another one, which does not belong to me. It is a
     treasure which has been entrusted to me, my good Papa;
     I guard it and will always guard it carefully. Even if
     you were like "Colin sick," in truth I could not cure
     you; and nevertheless, whatever you may think or say,
     no one in this world loves you more than I.

In this letter she puts him off with the teasing assurance of friendship.
In another, written from Marseilles, it is with other charming women that
she mocks him:

     I received on my arrival here, my good Papa, your
     letter of October 1st. It has given me keen pleasure; I
     found in it evidences of your friendship and a tinge of
     that gayety and gallantry which make all women love
     you, because you love them all. Your proposition to
     carry me on your wings, if you were the angel Gabriel,
     made me laugh; but I would not accept it, although I am
     no longer very young nor a virgin. That angel was a sly
     fellow and your nature united to his would become too
     dangerous. I should be afraid of miracles happening,
     and miracles between women and angels might well not
     always bring a redeemer....

     I have arranged, my good friend, to write alternately
     to my "great neighbor" and to you; the one to whom I
     shall not have written will kindly tell the other that
     I love him with all my heart, and when your turn comes
     you will add an embrace for the good wife of our
     neighbor, for her daughter, for little Mother Caillot,
     for all the gentle and pretty women of my acquaintance
     whom you may meet. You see that not being able to amuse
     you, either by my singing or by chess, I seek to
     procure you other pleasures. If you had been at Avignon
     with us, it is there you would have wished to embrace
     people. The women there are charming; I thought of you
     every time I saw one of them. Adieu, my good Papa; I do
     not relate to you the details of my journey, as I have
     written of them to our neighbor, who will communicate
     them to you. I limit myself to assuring you of the most
     constant and the tenderest friendship on my part.

At times the pursuer is too badly afflicted with gout in his legs to
maintain the pursuit, and the pursued has to come to his assistance to keep
the flirtation going:

     How are you, my good Papa? Never has it cost me so much
     to leave you; every evening it seems to me that you
     would be very glad to see me, and every evening I think
     of you. On Monday, the 21st, I shall go to meet you
     again; I hope that you will then be very firm on your
     feet, and that the teas of Wednesday and Saturday, and
     that of Sunday morning, will regain all their
     brilliance. I will bring you _la bonne évéque_. My fat
     husband will make you laugh, our children will laugh
     together, our great neighbor will quiz, the Abbés La
     Roche and Morellet will eat all the butter, Mme. Grand,
     her amiable niece, and M. Grand will help the company
     out, Père Pagin will play _God of Love_ on his violin,
     I the march on the Piano, and you _Petits Oiseaux_ on
     the armonica.

     O! my friend, let us see in the future fine and strong
     legs for you, and think no more of the bad one that has
     persecuted you so much. After what is bad, one enjoys
     what is good more; life is sown with both, which she
     changes unceasingly. What she cannot keep from being
     equal and uniform is my tenderness for you, that time,
     place, and events will never alter.

     My mother and all my family wish to be remembered to

     I have had some news of you through our neighbor, but I
     must absolutely have some from you.

Amusingly enough, M. Brillon contributes his part to the restoration of the
gouty legs to something like normal activity.

     The visits of your good husband during my sickness
     [wrote Franklin to Madame Brillon] have been very
     agreeable to me. His conversation has eased and
     enlivened me. I regret that, instead of seeking it when
     I have been at your home, I have lost so much time in
     playing chess. He has many stories and always applies
     them well. If he has despoiled you of some, you can
     repeat them all the same, for they will always please
     me, coming from your mouth.

There is another letter from Madame Brillon to Franklin which drew a reply
from him, in which he ascended into the Christian heaven with almost as
much literary facility as marked his entrance into the Pagan Elysium. Her
letter was written during an absence from home:

     Here I am reduced to writing to you, my good Papa, and
     to telling you that I love you. It was sweeter no doubt
     to let you see it in my eyes. How am I going to spend
     the Wednesdays and Saturdays? No teas, no chess,