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The health of Dr Franklin, as must indeed have been seen by his active life, was remarkably firm through a long series of years. After the attack of pleurisy in 1735, which we have noticed, we read of no interruption of his pursuits until, during the negotiations for peace in 1782, occasional fits of the gout and cholic molested him, From this period he became also subject to the stone as well as gout, and this combination of disorders confined him much to his bed in the year 1789. “During the extremely painful paroxysms,” says his friend and physician, Dr Jones, “ he was obliged to take large doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures-still, in the intervals of pain, he not only amused himself with reading and conversing cheerfully with his family, and a few friends who visited him, but was often employed in doing business of a public as well as private nature, with various persons who waited on him for that purpose; and in every instance displayed, not only that readiness and disposition of doing good which was the distinguishing characteristic of his life, but the fullest and clearest possession of his uncommon mental abilities, and not unfrequently indulged himself in those jeux d'esprits and entertaining anecdotes, which were the delight of all who heard him.
" About sixteen days before his death, he was seized with a feverish indisposition, without any particular symptoms attending it, till the third or fourth day, when he complained of a pain in the left breast, which increased until it became extremely acute, attended with a cough and laborious breathing. During this state, when the severity of his pains sometimes drew forth a groan of complaint, he would observe-that he was afraid he did not bear them as he ought-acknowledged his grateful sense of the many blessings he had received from that Supreme Being who had raised him from small and low beginnings to such high rank and consideration among men and made no doubt but his present afflictions were kindly intended to wean him from a world, in which he was
no longer fit to act the part assigned him. In this frame of body and mind he continued till five days before his death, when his pain and difficulty of breathing entirely left him, and his family were flattering themselves with the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthumation, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and discharged a great quantity of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had sufficient strength to do it; but, as that failed, the organs of respiration became gradually oppressed a calm lethargic state succeeded-and, on the 17th of April, 1790, about eleven o'clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and three months.”
Three days previously, he requested his bed to be made, “ in order," as he said, “ that he might die in a decent manner;" when his daughter, Mrs Bache, replying, that she hoped he might yet recover, and liye some years, he said, “I hope not.”
His funeral is said to have been more numerously and more respectably attended than any other that had ever taken place in America. The concourse of people assembled upon the occasion was immense. All the bells in the city were muffled, the newspapers published with black borders, &c. The body was interred amid peals of artillery, and nothing is said to have been omitted that could display the veneration of the citizens for so illustrious a character.
Congress ordered a public mourning throughout America for one month. Dr Smith, provost of the College of Philadelphia, and Mr Rittenhouse, one of its members, were selected by the Philosophical Society to prepare a eulogium to the memory of its founder; and the subscribers to the city library, who had just erected a handsome building for containing their books, left a vacant niche for a statue of their benefactor.
This has since been placed there by the munificence of an estimable citizen of Philadelphia. It was imported from Italy; the name of the artist is Francis
Lazarini ; it is composed of Carara marble, and cost five hundred guineas.
It was the first piece of sculpture of that size which had been seen in America. Franklin is represented in a standing posture : one arm is supported by means of some books : in his right hand he wields an inverted sceptre, an emblem of his anti-monarchical principles ; and in his left, a scroll of paper. He is dressed in a Roman toga. The resemblance is correct; the head is a copy from the excellent bust produced by the chisel of Houdon. The following inscription is engraved on the pedestal:
Dr BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
When the news of his death reached Paris, Mirabeau having obtained leave in the National Assembly to speak, thus announced the event we have been recording :-“Franklin is dead !-(A profound silence reigned throughout the hall.) The genius which gave freedom to America, and scattered torrents of light upon Europe is returned to the bosom of divinity. The sage which two worlds claim, the man disputed by the history of sciences and the history of empires, holds most undoubtedly an elevated rank in the human species.- Political cabinets have but too long notified the death of those who were never great but in their funeral orations; the etiquette of court has but too long sanctioned hypocritical grief. Nations ought only to mourn for their benefactors: the representatives of freemen ought never to recommend any other than the heroes of hus manity to their homage. The Congress hath ordered
a general mourning for one month throughout the fourteen confederated states, on account of the death of Franklin; and America hath thus acquitted her tribute of admiration in behalf of one of the fathers of her constitution. Would it not be worthy of your fellow-legislators to unite yourselves in this religious act, to participate in this homage rendered in the face of the universe to the rights of men, and to the philosopher who has so eminently propagated the conquest of them throughout the world !-Antiquity would have elevated altars to that mortal who, for the advantage of the human race, embracing both heaven and earth in his vast and extensive mind, knew how to subdue thunder and tyranny.- Enlightened and · free Europe at least owes its remembrance and its regret to one of the greatest men who have ever served the cause of philosophy and of liberty.--I propose that a decree do now pass, enacting that the National Assembly shall wear mourning during three days for Benjamin Franklin.”
MM, de la Rochefoucault and la Fayette immediately rose, in order to second this motion.
The assembly adopted it at first by acclamation, and afterwards decreed by a large majority, amidst the plaudits of all the spectators, that on Monday the - 14th of June it should go into mourning for three days; that the discourse of M. Mirabeau should be printed ; and that the president should write a letter of condolence, upon the occasion, to the Congress of America.
The commons of Paris, as a tribute of honour to his memory, assisted in a body at the funeral oration, attended by the abbé Fauchet, in the rotunda of the commune, which was hung with black, illuminated with chandeliers, and decorated with devices analogous to the occasion.
Franklin's original epitaph for himself, though it has been often quoted, must not be omitted here. It was first composed in the year 1728.
its contents torn out,
lies here food for worms;
in a new
In Dr Smith's eulogium upon Franklin, he read the following extract of a letter from his successor at the court of France, the hon. Thomas Jefferson, afterwards president of the United States.
[EXTRACT.] “ I feel both the wish and the duty to communicate in compliance with your wishes, whatever within my knowledge might render justice to the memory of our great countryman Dr Franklin, in whom philosophy has to deplore one of its principal luminaries extinguished. But my opportunities of knowing the interesting facts of his life have not been equal to my desire of making them known.
“I can only therefore testify in general that there appeared to me more respect and veneration attached to the character of Dr Franklin in France, than to that of any other person in the same country, foreign or native. I had opportunities of knowing, particularly, how far these sentiments were felt by the foreign ambassadors and ministers at the court of Versailles. The fable of his capture by the Algerines propagated by the English newspapers, excited no uneasiness, as it was seen at once to be a dish cooked up to please certain readers, but nothing could exceed