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imal magnetism, and that all the effects, which had been exhibited, might be produced and explained by the ordinary action of the imagination upon the nervous system.
Just before the inquiry commenced, Dr. Franklin wrote thus to M. de la Condamine; “As to the animal magnetism, so much talked of, I must doubt its existence till I can see or feel some effect of it. None of the cures said to be performed by it have fallen under my observation, and there are so many disorders which cure themselves, and such a disposition in mankind to deceive themselves and one another on these occasions, and living long has given me so frequent opportunities of seeing certain remedies cried up as curing every thing, and yet soon after totally laid aside as useless, I cannot but fear that the expectation of great advantage from this new method of treating diseases will prove a delusion. That delusion may, however, and in some cases, be of use while it lasts. There are in every great, rich city a number of persons, who are never in health, because they are fond of medicines, and always taking them, whereby they derange the natural functions, and hurt their constitution. If these people can be persuaded to forbear their drugs, in expectation of being cured by only the physician's finger, or an iron rod pointing at them, they may possibly find good effects, though they mistake the cause.” Again, somewhat later, in a letter to Dr. Ingenhousz, he said; “Mesmer is still here, and has still some adherents and some practice. It is surprising how much credulity still subsists in the world. I suppose all the physicans in France put together have not made so much money, during the time he has been here, as he alone has done. And we have now a fresh folly. A magnetizer pretends,
that he can, by establishing what is called a rapport between any person and a somnambule, put it in the power of that person to direct the actions of the somnambule, by a simple strong volition only, without speaking or making any signs; and many people daily flock to see this strange operation.”
Mr. Jay having returned to the United States, his place was supplied by Mr. Jefferson, who was joined with Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin in a new commission for negotiating treaties of amity and commerce with the principal European powers.
Mr. Jefferson arrived at Paris early in August. They jointly wrote a circular letter to the foreign ambassadors at the court of Versailles, proposing to treat with their respective governments, according to the terms prescribed by Congress. Prussia, Denmark, Portugal, and Tuscany accepted the proposal, and negotiations were begun with the minister of each; but no treaty was finally completed except with Prussia. The answers from all the ambassadors, however, manifested a friendly disposition on the part of their sovereigns, who offered to the vessels of the United States the same freedom of access to their ports, that was allowed to those of other nations.*
For several months Dr. Franklin's time was chiefly taken up with these transactions in conjunction with his colleagues. Since the peace, his duties as minister plenipotentiary had become less burdensome. His correspondence was at all times a heavy task. During the war the relatives of the foreign officers, who served in America, wrote to him continually for information about their friends. Memoirs and projects innumerable were communicated to him on scientific subjects
* An account of some private incidents, may be seen in the APPEN
DIX, No. V.
and particularly on politics, government, and finance. People all over Europe, proposing to emigrate to America, applied to him for an account of the country and of the advantages it held out to new settlers, each asking advice suited to his particular case. To diminish the trouble of answering these inquiries, and to diffuse such a knowledge of his country as might be useful to persons, who intended to settle there, he wrote a pamphlet entitled Information to those who would remove to America, which he caused to be printed and distributed. It was translated into German by Rodolph Valltravers. In some instances he was much annoyed by correspondents, who had no claims upon him, and who wrote to him upon all sorts of subjects. It was published in a newspaper, that Dr. Franklin knew a sovereign remedy for the dropsy. This was repeated far and near, and letters came from every quarter, beseeching him to impart so invaluable a secret.
His desire to return home, and to spend the remainder of his days in the bosom of his family, increased upon him so much, that he repeatedly and earnestly solicited his recall. Deeming his services of great importance to his country, Congress delayed to comply with his request, and he submitted patiently to their decision. When he first asked permission to retire, he meditated a tour into Italy and Germany. Through his friend, Dr. Ingenhousz, physician to their Imperial Majesties, he received flattering compliments from the Emperor, and an invitation to visit Vienna. But he now found himself unable, from the infirmities of age and his peculiar maladies, to undergo the fatigues of so long a journey; and his only hope was, that he might have strength to bear a voyage across the Atlantic.
At length his request was granted, and Mr. Jeffer
son was appointed to succeed him as minister plenipotentiary in France.
His last official act was the signing of the treaty between Prussia and the United States. He was the more pleased with this act, as the treaty contained his philanthropic article against privateering, and in favor of the freedom of trade and of the protection of private property in time of war. The King of Prussia made no objection to this article. On the contrary, his ambassador, the Baron de Thulemeier, who signed the treaty, felicitated the commissioners on its being introduced.
« The twentythird article is dictated,” said he, “ by the purest zeal in favor of humanity. Nothing can be more just than your reflections on the noble disinterestedness of the United States of America. It is to be desired, that these sublime sentiments may be adopted by all the maritime powers without exception. The calamities of war will be much softened; and hostilities, often provoked by cupidity and the inordinate love of gain, will be of more rare occurrence." Free ships were likewise to make free. goods, and contraband merchandise was exempted from confiscation. He fondly hoped, that these benevolent principles would be wrought into the law of nations; but the example has not been followed.*
Before the treaty was completed, he began to prepare for returning to America. He had resided
* Washington spoke of this treaty in terms of high commendation. In a letter to Count de Rochambeau he said; “ The treaty of amity, which has lately taken place between the King of Prussia and the United States, marks a new era in negotiation. It is the most liberal treaty, which has ever been entered into between independent powers. It is perfectly original in many of its articles; and, should its principles be considered hereafter as the basis of connexion between nations, it will operate more fully to produce a general pacification, than any measure hitherto attempted amongst mankind.” — July 31st, 1786.
eight years and a half in France. During that period he had been constantly engaged in public affairs of the greatest importance. As the champion of liberty he was known everywhere, and as a philosopher and sage he was revered throughout Europe. No man had received in larger measure the homage of the wise and great, or more affectionate kindness from numerous personal friends. His departure was anticipated with regret by them all. One after another they took their leave of him. The principal personages of the court testified their respect and their good wishes.
“I have learned with much concern," said Count de Vergennes, “ of your retiring, and of your approaching departure for America. You cannot doubt but that the regrets, which you will leave, will be proportionate to the consideration you so justly enjoy. I can assure you, Sir, that the esteem the King entertains for you does not leave you any thing to wish, and that his Majesty will learn with real satisfaction, that your fellow citizens have rewarded, in a manner worthy of you, the important services that you have rendered them. I beg, Sir, that you will preserve for me a share in your remembrance, and never doubt the sincerity of the interest I take in your happiness.” The Marquis de Castries, minister of marine, wrote to him; “I was not apprized, until within a few hours, of the arrangements you
have made for your departure. Had I been informed of it sooner, I should have proposed to the King to order a frigate to convey you to your own country, in such a manner as would mark the consideration which you have acquired by your distinguished services in France, and the particular esteem which his Majesty entertains for you.”
His bodily infirmities were such, that he could not