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of men and citizens, it has believed, without doubt, that fruitful and great truths were likewise numbered among the rights of man. “The name of Benjamin Franklin will be immortal in the records of freedom and philosophy; but it is more particularly dear to a country, where, conducted by the most sublime mission, this venerable man knew how very soon to acquire an infinite number of friends and admirers, as well by the simplicity and sweetness of his manners, as by the purity of his principles, the extent of his knowledge, and the charms of his mind. “It will be remembered, that every success, which he obtained in his important negotiation, was applauded and celebrated (so to express it) all over France, as so many crowns conferred on genius and virtue. “Even then the sentiment of our rights existed in the bottom of our souls. It was easily perceived, that it feelingly mingled in the interest which we took in behalf of America, and in the public vows which we preferred for your liberty. “At last the hour of the French has arrived; we love to think, that the citizens of the United States have not regarded with indifference our steps towards liberty. Twenty-six millions of men breaking their chains, and seriously occupied in giving themselves a durable constitution, are not unworthy of the esteem of a generous people, who have preceded them in that noble career. “We hope they will learn with interest the funeral homage, which we have rendered to the Nestor of America. May this solemn act of fraternal friendship serve more and more to bind the tie, which ought to unite two free nations ! May the common enjoyment of liberty shed itself over the whole globe, and become an indissoluble chain of connexion among all the people of the earth! For ought they not to perceive, that they will march more steadfastly and more certainly to their true happiness, in understanding and loving each other, than in being jealous and fighting? “May the Congress of the United States and the National Assembly of France be the first to furnish this fine spectacle to the world ! And may the individuals of the two nations connect themselves by a mutual affection, worthy of the friendship which unites the two men, at this day most illustrious by their exertions for liberty, W AshingtoN and LAFAYEttel “Permit me, Mr. President, to offer on this occasion my particular homage of esteem and admiration.
“I have the honor to be, with respectful consideration, Mr. President, your most humble and most obedient servant, “SIEyes, President.”
Washington transmitted this letter to Congress, and it was resolved, that he should be requested “to communicate to the National Assembly of France the peculiar sensibility of Congress to the tribute paid to the memory of Benjamin Franklin by the enlightened and free representatives of a great nation.” In compliance with this request, Washington wrote an answer, dated January 27th, 1791, in which he said; “I received with particular satisfaction, and imparted to Congress, the communication made by the President's letter of the 20th of June last, in the name of the National Assembly of France. So peculiar and so signal an expression of the esteem of that respectable body for a citizen of the United States, whose eminent and patriotic services are indelibly engraved on the minds of his countrymen, cannot fail to be appreciated by them as it ought to be. On my part, I assure you, Sir, that I am sensible of all its value.” Two days after the decree of the National Assembly, M. de la Rochefoucauld read to the Society, called the “Society of 1789,” a paper on the life and character of Franklin. The members then voted, that they would wear mourning for three days, and that the bust of Franklin should be placed in the hall of the Assembly, with this inscription. “Homage rendered by the unanimous voice of the Society of 1789 to Benjamin Franklin, the object of the admiration and regrets of the friends of liberty.” The Commune of Paris ordered a public celebration in honor of the memory of Franklin. On this occasion the Abbé Fauchet pronounced a Civic Eulogy (Eloge Civique) in the presence of a very large concourse of auditors, consisting of the deputies of the National Assembly, the deputies of the departments, the presidents of the districts, the public officers and electors of Paris, and private citizens. The ceremony took place in the vast rotunda of the Grain-Market, which was hung in black, and decorated in an imposing manner. The auditors were all dressed in mourning. The Abbé Fauchet's Eulogy was printed, and twenty-six copies were forwarded to Congress, with a letter from the President of the Commune of Paris, which were acknowledged by the following vote. “The House being highly sensible of the polite attention of the Commons of Paris, in directing copies of an Eulogium lately pronounced before them, as a tribute to the illustrious memory of Benjamin Franklin, to be transmitted to Congress; Resolved, that the Speaker do accordingly communicate the sense of the House thereon to the President of the Commons of Paris.”
Condorcet pronounced a Eulogy of Franklin (Eloge de Franklin) before the French Academy of Sciences, on the 13th of November, 1790. This discourse is very elaborate, full in its details, able, and eloquent.
A society of printers in Paris celebrated the event in a novel manner. They assembled in a large hall, in which there was a column surmounted by a bust of Franklin, with a civic crown. Below the bust were arrayed printers' cases and types, with a press, and all the apparatus of the art, which the philosopher had practised with such distinguished success. While one of the fraternity pronounced a eulogy on Franklin, several printers were employed in composing it at the cases; and, as soon as it was finished, impressions of it were taken, and distributed to the large concourse of people, who had been drawn together as spectators of the ceremony.”
The American Philosophical Society honored the memory of their President by appointing Dr. William Smith to deliver a Eulogy; and a similar honor was conferred in Yale College by a Latin Oration from President Stiles. Both these performances have been published.
THERE have been various conjectures respecting the source, from which Dr. Franklin took the first idea of the following epitaph. William Temple Franklin says, that he wrote it “when he was only twenty-three years of age, as appears by the original (with various corrections) found among his papers, and from which this is a faithful copy.” He then prints it in these words.
* See Madame CAMPAN's Mémoires, Tom. I. p. 233.
“The Body Of Benjamin Franklin, Printer, (Like the cover of an old book, Its contents torn out, And stript of its lettering and gilding,) Lies here, food for worms. But the work shall not be lost, For it will, as he believed, appear once more, In a new and more elegant edition, Revised and corrected By THE AUTHoR.” It had before been printed somewhat differently in Mr. Vaughan's edition. The variation is in the following lines, which are thus printed by Mr. Vaughan.
“Yet the work itself shall not be lost,
In a note Mr. Vaughan adds; “A newspaper, in which I have seen this copy of Dr. Franklin's epitaph on himself, says, that it first appeared in a Boston newspaper, established and printed by Dr. Franklin.” As a copy of Mr. Vaughan's edition was examined by Dr. Franklin, after a full impression was taken off, and before the work was published, it is presumed that the epitaph as here printed and this note, passed under his eye. He made several corrections, which Mr. Vaughan included in the errata, but no error is noted in his remark on the epitaph. Hence the date must have been earlier than is mentioned by William Temple Franklin, because the New England Courant, the only newspaper in which Dr. Franklin was concerned in Boston, ceased in the year 1727, when he was only twenty-one years old.
It is intimated in the Edinburgh Review, (Vol. II. p. 448,) that he took the first hint of this epitaph from one in Latin, written on Jacob Tonson, the bookseller, by an Eton scholar, which was printed, with an English translation, in the Gentleman's Magazine for February, 1736. The translation is an unsuccessful paraphrase. The original is likewise inserted in the biographical notice of Tonson, in the Memoirs of the Kit-Cat Club. The last four lines are all that bear on the subject.
“Hic jacet Bibliopola,
There is certainly a striking resemblance between these lines and the closing part of Franklin's epitaph; but, as this latter was written nine or ten years at least before the other, it is obvious, that, if, there is any plagiarism in the case, it must lie at the door of the Eton scholar.
It has been supposed, also, that an epitaph on the celebrated John Cotton, written by Mr. Woodbridge, about the year, 1653, may have suggested the first hint to Franklin.
“A living, breathing Bible; tables where
Others again have imagined, that they have discovered the origin of Franklin's epitaph in the following lines on the death of John Foster, who set up the first printing-press in Boston, written by Joseph Capen, and published in 1681.
“Thy body, which no activeness did lack,
That Franklin had seen one or both of these pieces is probable; it is moreover possible, that he may have derived from them the first thought of the epitaph; yet, even if this could be proved, which