« ZurückWeiter »
bear the motion of a carriage. He left Passy on the 12th of July, in the Queen's litter, which had been kindly offered to him for his journey to Havre de Grace. This vehicle was borne by Spanish mules, and he was able to travel in it without pain or fatigue. He slept the first night at St. Germain. Some of his friends accompanied him. On the journey he passed one night at the chateau of the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, and another in the house of M. Holker at Rouen; and he received civilities and complimentary visits from many of the inhabitants at different places. The sixth day after leaving Passy he arrived at Havre de Grace.*
From that port he passed over in a packet-boat to Southampton. Here he was met by Bishop Shipley and his family, Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, Mr. Alexander, and other friends whom he had known in England. He also found here his son, William, whom he had not seen for more than nine years. In the Revolution he had taken the side of the loyalists, and thus estranged himself from his father. He was now residing in England, where he spent the remainder of his life. Dr. Franklin continued at Southampton four days, till July 27th, when he embarked on board the London Packet, a Philadelphia vessel, commanded by Captain Truxtun. After a voyage of forty-eight days, without any remarkable incident, he landed at Philadelphia, on the 14th of September. M. Houdon, the artist, whom he and Mr. Jefferson had employed to make a statue of Washington for the State of Virginia, was a passenger on board the same vessel.
Dr. Franklin filled up his leisure during the passage by writing a long paper on Improvements in Naviga
* See an account of the journey in the Appendix, No. VI.
tion, and another on Smoky Chimneys, the former addressed to M. Le Roy, and the latter to Dr. Ingenhousz. They were both read a few weeks afterwards to the American Philosophical Society, and were published in a volume of the Society's Transactions. They contain many ingenious hints and practical remarks, founded on philosophical principles, and illustrated with drawings and appropriate explanations. He also repeated his experiments for ascertaining the temperature of the sea in the Gulf Stream. He supported the inconveniences of the voyage better than he had expected, and without any apparent injury to his health. When he landed at Market-Street wharf, he was greeted by a large concourse of the inhabitants, who attended him with acclamations to his own door. The joy of the people was likewise testified by the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon.
Receives congratulatory Letters and Addresses. — Chosen President of
Pennsylvania, and holds the Office three Years.— His private Circumstances. — Appointed a Delegate to the Convention for framing the Constitution of the United States. — His Speeches in the Convention.
- His Religious Opinions. — Extracts from Dr. Cutler's Journal, describing an Interview with him. — President of the Society for Political Inquiries. — Neglect of Congress to examine and settle his Ac
Various Pieces written by him during the last Year of his Life. — His Illness and Death. - Funeral Ceremonies. — Tribute of Respect paid to him by Congress and other Public Bodies. — Conclusion.
As soon as his arrival was known, letters of congratulation were sent to him from all parts of the country. General Washington and Mr. Jay were among the first to welcome him on this occasion. The Assembly of Pennsylvania was then in session, and, the day after he landed, an address was presented to him by that body, in which they congratulate him, in the most cordial manner, on his safe return.
6 We are confident,” they observe, “that we speak the sentiments of this whole country, when we say, that your services, in the public councils and negotiations, have not only merited the thanks of the present generation, but will be recorded in the pages of history, to your immortal honor. And it is particularly pleasing to us, that, while we are sitting as members of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, we have the happiness of welcoming into the State a person, who was so greatly instrumental in forming its free constitution.” This was followed by similar addresses from the American Philosophical Society, and the Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. To all of them he returned brief and appropriate answers.
From some of his letters it would appear, that, when he left France, he looked upon his public life as at an end, and anticipated the enjoyment of entire tranquillity and freedom from care, after he should be again restored to the bosom of his family. In this expectation, however, he was disappointed. He had been at home but a few days, when he was elected a member of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. This was a preliminary step to a higher advancement; for, when the Assembly met, in October, he was chosen President of the State, the office being equivalent to that of governor in the other States. The choice was made by the joint ballot of the Assembly and Council. Under the first constitution of Pennsylvania, no individual could serve in the Council, or hold the office of President, more than three successive years, and he was then ineligible for the four years following. Dr. Franklin was annually chosen President till the end of the constitutional term, and each time by a unanimous vote, except the first, when there was one dissenting voice in seventy-seven. This unanimity is a proof, that, notwithstanding his great age and his bodily infirmities, he fulfilled the duties of the station to the complete satisfaction of the electors.
He was apparently at ease in his private circumstances, and happy in his domestic relations. He occupied himself for some time in finishing a house, which had been begun many years before, and in which he fitted up a spacious apartment for his library. In writing to a friend, he said ; “I am surrounded by my offspring, a dutiful and affectionate daughter in my house, with six grandchildren, the eldest of whom you have seen, who is now at college in the next street, finishing the learned part of his education; the others promising, both for parts and good dispositions.
What their conduct may be, when they grow up and enter the important scenes of life, I shall not live to see, and I cannot foresee. I therefore enjoy among them the present hour, and leave the future to Providence.” Again, to another correspondent he wrote; “I am got into my niche, after being kept out of it twenty-four years by foreign employments. It is a very good house, that I built so long ago to retire into, without being able till now to enjoy it. I am again surrounded by my friends, with a fine family of grandchildren about my knees, and an affectionate, good daughter and son-in-law to take care of me. And, after fifty years' public service, I have the pleasure to find the esteem of my country with regard to me undiminished.” Much of his time was devoted to the society of those around him, and of the numerous visiters, whom curiosity and respect prompted to seek his acquaintance. His attachments to the many intimate friends he had left in Europe were likewise preserved by a regular and affectionate correspondence, in which are manifested the same steadiness of feeling and enlarged benevolence, the same playfulness and charm of style, that are conspicuous
conspicuous in the compositions of his earlier years.
He was elected one of the delegates from Pennsylvania to the Convention for forming the Constitution of the United States, which met at Philadelphia in May, 1787, and continued in session four months. Although he was now in the eighty-second year of his age, and at the same time discharged the duties of President of the State, yet he attended faithfully to the business of the convention, and entered actively and heartily into the proceedings. Several of his speeches were written out and afterwards published. They are short, but well adapted to the occasion, clear, logical, and