« ZurückWeiter »
ous film. The wind slides over this film, without coming in contact with the water, and thus the waves subside. The most remarkable thing observable in the process is the expansive power of the oil, by which a few drops will spread over a large surface, if they meet with no obstruction.* Dr. Franklin’s mind was always more or less intent upon philosophical studies, for which his habits of observation and reflection peculiarly fitted him; yet he wrote little on subjects of this kind during his second mission to England. His various political duties, and the deep interest he took in the affairs of his country, absorbed his time and thoughts. He wrote a few pieces, however, on electricity and other kindred subjects, and one on the analogy between electricity and magnetism. He also sketched the plan of an elaborate essay on the causes of taking cold. It was never finished, but he left copious notes, from which it appears that he made extensive investigations, and formed a theory by which he imagined, that the nature of the malady would be better understood, and that more easy and effectual preventives might be used. A new edition of his philosophical writings was published at Paris in 1773, translated by Barbeu Dubourg, a man of considerable eminence in the scientific world, and apparently well qualified for the task he undertook of translator and commentator. There had already been two French editions, but M. Dubourg's is much superior to either of them, as well in the matter it contains as in the style of its execution. It is handsomely printed, in two volumes quarto, and includes several original pieces communicated to him by the author. It comprises nearly all he had written on electricity and other philosophical subjects, with a few of his political and miscellaneous papers. The translator's notes are valuable. A fifth edition of the philosophical writings was nearly at the same time published in London.
* The whole of the letter to Dr. Brownrigg is curious, containing anecdotes, and details of experiments. See Vol. VI. p. 357. Dr. Franklin did not pretend to have discovered this property of oil. He had read, when a youth, Pliny’s “account of a practice among seamen of his time to still the waves in a storm by pouring oil into the sea,” and had heard of a similar practice among seamen and fishermen in modern times. But he seems to have been the first, who tried experiments with the view of ascertaining the fact, and who attempted to explain its cause.
Hutchinson's Letters. — How they first became known to Franklin. — His Motives for transmitting them to Massachusetts. – Proceedings of the Assembly concerning them. —Dr. Cooper's Remarks on that Occasion.— Petition for the Removal of Hutchinson and Oliver presented by Franklin. —Duel between Temple and Whately. — Franklin's Declaration that the Letters had been transmitted by him. —Whately commences against him a Chancery Suit. — Proceedings of the Privy Council on the Petition.— Further Account of those Proceedings. – Wedderburn's Abusive Speech. —The Petition rejected. – Franklin dismissed from his Place at the Head of the American Postoffice.
WE are now come to the date of a transaction, which contributed to reveal the origin of some of the most offensive proceedings of the British government against the colonies, and which subjected Dr. Franklin to much obloquy and abuse from the supporters of the administration.
In December, 1772, he procured and sent to Mr. Cushing, chairman of the Committee of Correspondence in Massachusetts, certain original letters, which had been written by Governor Hutchinson, LieutenantGovernor Oliver, and others, to Mr. Thomas Whately, a member of Parliament, and for a time secretary under one of the ministers. These letters, though not official, related wholly to public affairs, and were intended to affect public measures. They were filled with representations, in regard to the state of things in the colonies, as contrary to the truth, as they were insidious in their design. The discontents and commotions were ascribed to a factious spirit among the people, stirred up by a few intriguing leaders; and it was intimated, that this spirit would be subdued, and submission to the acts of Parliament would be attained, by the presence of a military force, and by persevering in the coercive measures already begun. When Dr. Franklin sent over these letters, he stated to Mr. Cushing his motives for doing it, and his opinion of their objects and tendency. “On this occasion,” he says, “I think it fit to acquaint you, that there has lately fallen into my hands part of a correspondence, that I have reason to believe laid the foundation of most, if not all, our present grievances. I am not at liberty to tell through what channel I received it ; and I have engaged that it shall not be printed, nor copies taken of the whole, or any part of it; but I am allowed to let it be seen by some men of worth in the province, for their satisfaction only. In confidence of your preserving inviolably my engagement, I send you enclosed the original letters, to obviate every pretence of unfairness in copying, interpolation, or omission. The hands of the gentlemen will be well known. Possibly they may not like such an exposal of their conduct, however tenderly and privately it may be managed. But, if they are good men, or pretend to be such, and agree that all good men wish a good understanding and harmony to subsist between the colonies and their mother country, they ought the less to regret, that, at the small expense of their reputation for sincerity and public spirit among their compatriots, so desirable an event may in some degree be forwarded. For my own part, I cannot but acknowledge, that my resentment against this country, for its arbitrary measures in governing us, conducted by the late minister, has, since my conviction by these papers that those measures were projected, advised, and called for by men of character among ourselves, and whose advice must therefore be attended with all the weight that was proper to mislead, and which could therefore scarce fail of misleading ; my own resentment, I say, has by this means been exceedingly abated. I think they must have the same effect with you ; but I am not, as I have said, at liberty to make the letters public. I can only allow them to be seen by yourself, by the other gentlemen of the Committee of Correspondence, by Messrs. Bowdoin and Pitts of the Council, and Drs. Chauncy, Cooper, and Winthrop, with a few such other gentlemen as you may think fit to show them to. After being some months in your possession, you are requested to return them to me. “As to the writers, I can easily as well as charitably conceive it possible, that men educated in prepossessions of the unbounded authority of Parliament, &c. may think unjustifiable every opposition even to its unconstitutional exactions, and imagine it their duty to suppress, as much as in them lies, such opposition. But, when I find them bartering away the liberties of their native country for posts, and negotiating for salaries and pensions extorted from the people; and, conscious of the odium these might be attended with, calling for troops to protect and secure the enjoyment of them ; when I see them exciting jealousies in the crown, and provoking it to work against so great a part of its most faithful subjects; creating enmities between the different countries of which the empire consists; occasioning a great expense to the old country for suppressing or preventing imaginary rebellions in the new, and to the new country for the payment of needless gratifications to useless officers and enemies; I cannot but doubt their sincerity even in the political principles they profess, and deem them mere time-servers, seeking their own private emolument, through any quantity of public mischief; betrayers of the interest, not of their