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one, which has been proved on the contrary remarkably dull. I apprehend, that this may partly be occasioned by the different opinions of seamen respecting the modes of loading, rigging, and sailing of a ship; each has his method; and the same vessel, laden by the method and orders of one captain, shall sail worse than when by the orders of another. Besides, it scarce ever happens, that a ship is formed, fitted for the sea, and sailed by the same person. One man builds the hull, another rigs her, a third loads and sails her. No one of these has the advantage of knowing all the ideas and experience of the others, and therefore cannot draw just conclusions from a combination of the whole. Even in the simple operation of sailing when at sea, I have often observed different judgments in the officers, who commanded the successive watches, the wind being the same. One would have the sails trimmed sharper or flatter than another, so that they seemed to have no certain rule to govern by. Yet I think a set of experiments might be instituted, first to determine the most proper form of the hull for swift sailing; next the best dimensions and most proper place for the masts; then the form and quantity of sails, and their position, as the winds may be; and lastly, the disposition of the lading. This is an age of experiments, and I think a set accurately made and combined would be of great use. We were several times chased in our passage, but outsailed every thing; and in thirty days had soundings. We had a good observation, and the captain judged himself so near our port, Falmouth, that, if we made a good run in the night, we might be off the mouth of that harbour in the morning; and by running in the night might escape the notice of the enemy’s privateers, who often cruised near the entrance of the Channel. Accordingly all the sail was set that we could possibly carry, and the wind being very fresh and fair, we stood right before it, and made great way. The captain, after his observation, shaped his course, as he thought, so as to pass wide of the Scilly Rocks; but it seems there is sometimes a strong current Setting up St. George's Channel, which formerly caused the loss of Sir Cloudesley Shovel's squadron, in 1707. This was probably also the cause of what happened to us. We had a watchman placed in the bow, to whom they often called, “Look well out before there;” and he as often answered, “...sly, ay;” but perhaps had his eyes shut, and was half asleep, at the time; they sometimes answering, as is said, mechanically; for he did not see a light just before us, which had been hid by the studding-sails from the man at the helm, and from the rest of the watch, but by an accidental yaw of the ship was discovered, and occasioned a great alarm, we being very near it; the light appearing to me as large as a cart-wheel. It was midnight, and our captain fast asleep; but Captain Kennedy, jumping upon deck, and seeing the danger, ordered the ship to wear round, all sails standing; an operation dangerous to the masts, but it carried us clear, and we avoided shipwreck, for we were running fast on the rocks on which the light was erected. This deliverance impressed me strongly with the utility of lighthouses, and made me resolve to encourage the building some of them in America, if I should live to return thither. In the morning it was found by the soundings, that we were near our port, but a thick fog hid the land from our sight. About nine o'clock the fog began to rise, and seemed to be listed up from the water like VOL. I. 29
the curtain of a theatre, discovering underneath the town of Falmouth, the vessels in the harbour, and the fields that surround it. This was a pleasing spectacle to those, who had been long without any other prospect than the uniform view of a vacant ocean, and it gave us the more pleasure, as we were now free from the anxieties which had arisen.” I set out immediately, with my son, for London, and we only stopped a little by the way to view Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, and Lord Pembroke's house and gardens, with the very curious antiquities at Wilton. We arrived in London, the 27th of July, 1757.f
* In a letter from Dr. Franklin to his wife, dated at Falmouth, the 17th of July, 1757, after giving her a similar account of his voyage, escape, and landing, he adds: “The bell ringing for church, we went thither immediately, and, with hearts full of gratitude, returned sincere thanks to God for the mercies we had received. Were I a Roman Catholic, 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 lighthouse.” – W. T. F.
# Here close Dr. Franklin's Memoirs, as written by himself. From several passages in his letters it would seem, that it was his intention to continue them further, and perhaps to the end of his life; but public business for some time, and afterwards his declining health, prevented him from executing his purpose. —Editor.