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with persons desirous of getting admission. Seeing this, I said we should never get through the crowd ; he said, give me your arm, and locking it fast in his, he soon made his way to the door of the privy council, I then said, Mr Burke, you are an excellent leader; he replied, I wish other persons thought so too. .?
After waiting a short time, the door of the privy council opened, and we entered the first, when Mr Burke took his stand behind the first chair, next to the president, and I behind that the next to his. When the business was opened, it was sufficiently evident from the speech of Mr Wedderburne, who was counsel for the governor, that the real object of the court was to insult Dr Franklin. All this time he stood in a corner of the room, not far from me, without the least apparent emotion. • Mr Dunning, who was the leading counsel on the part of the colony, was so hoarse, that he could hardlymake himself heard; and Mr Lee, who was the second, spoke but feebly in reply; so that Mr Wedderburne had a complete triumph. At the sallies of his sarcastic wit, all the members of the council, the president himself (lord Gower) not excepted, frequently laughed outright. No person belonging to the council behaved with decent gravity except lord North, who coming late, took his stand behind the chair opposite to me. 1. When the business was over, Dr Franklin in going out, took me by the hand, in a manner that indicated some feeling ; I soon followed him, and going through the ante-room, saw Mr Wedderburne, surrounded with a circle of his friends and admirers. Being known to him, he stepped forward, as if to speak to -me, but I turned aside and made what haste I could
out of the place. • The next morning I breakfasted with the Doctor, when he said he had never before been so sensible of the power of a good conscience. He was accused of clandestinely procuring certain letters, containing complaints against the governor, and sending them to
America, with a view to excite their animosity against him, and thus to embroil the two countries. But he assured me, that he did not even know that such letters existed, till they were brought to him, as agent of the colony, in order to be sent to his constituents; and the cover of the letters being lost, he only guessed at the person to whom they were addressed by the contents.
That Dr Franklin, notwithstanding he did not shew it at that time, was much impressed by the business of the privy council, appeared from this circumstance: when he attended there he was dressed in a suit of Manchester velvet; and Silas Dean told me, that when they met at Paris, to sign the treaty between France and America, he purposely put on that suit.
Hoping that this communication will be of some service to the memory of Dr Franklin, and gratify his friends,
I am, Sir, yours &c.
J. PRIESTLEY. Northumberland, Nov. 10, 1802.
CONDORCET in his “Eloge de Franklin,” thus ably epi• tomizes his intellectual claims and character.
* The education of Dr Franklin had not opened to Thim the career of the sciences, but nature had given him a genius capable of comprehending, and even of embellishing them. i “His first essays on electricity fully prove, that he was but very little acquainted with this part of natural philosophy. Being at an immense distance from Eur rope, he possessed but imperfect machines. Notwithstanding this disadvantage, he soon discovered the immediate cause of electrical phenomena. He ex plained it, by demonstrating the existence of a fluid, insensible while it remains in a state of equilibrium, and which instantly manifests itself, either when this equilibrium is destroyed, or while it endeavours to reestablish it. His analysis of the grand Leyden experiment is a chef-d'æuvre at once of sagacity, of perspicuity, and of art. ... 6. Soon after this, he perceived an analogy between the effects of thunder and electricity, which struck him prodigiously. He conceived the idea of an apparatus, by means of which he proposed to interrogate the heavens; he makes the experiment, and the answer fully confirms his conjectures. Thus the cause of lightning is now known; its effects, so ruinous, so irregular in appearance, are not only explained, but imitated.
“ Weat length know why the lightning silently and peaceably follows certain bodies, and disperses others with a loud noise ; why it melts metals, sometimes shivers to atoms, and sometimes seems to respect those substances which surround it.
“But it was but little to imitate the thunder: Dr Franklin conceived the audacious idea of averting its vengeance. - “He imagined, that a bar of iron, pointed at the end, and connected with the ground, or rather with the water, would establish a communication between a cloud and the earth, and thus guarantee, or protect the objects in the immediate neighbourhood of such a conductor. • “The success of this idea was fully commensurate to all his wishes; and thus man was enabled to wieldta power sufficient to disarm the wrath of heaven! .. ..." This great discovery was by far too brilliant and too singular not to conjure up a numerous host of enemies against it. Notwithstanding this, the custom of using conductors was adopted in America, and in Great Britain ; but at the commencement of war with the mother-country, some soi-disant English philosophers endeavoured, by unfair experiments, to throw doubts upon the utility of his scheme, and seemed to wish to ravish this discovery from Benjamin Franklin, by way of punishing him for the loss of thirteen colonies.
· "It'is unfortunately more easy to mislead a nation
in regard to its proper interests, than to impose upon men of science relative to an experiment: thus those prejudices which were able to draw England into an unjust and fatal contest, could not make the learned of Europe change the form of the electrical conductors of Franklin. They multiplied in France after France had become allied to America: in truth, the ' sentence of the police has been opposed to it in some of our towns, as it has been opposed in Italy by the decisions of casuists, and with just as little success.'
“In a free country the law follows the public opinion; in despotic governments the public opinion often contradicts the laws, but always concludes at length hy submitting itself to their influence. At this day, the use of this preservative has become common among all nations, but without being universally adopted. A long course of experiment does not permit * us any longer to doubt of its efficacy. · "If the edifices provided with it have still some
dangers to dread, this happens because between the , bounded efforts of man and the boundless force of * nature, there can never be established any other than : an unequal contest. • “But what an immense career has this successful experiment opened to our hopes !
“Why may we not one day hope to see the baneful ( activity of all the scourges of mankind melt away, as that of thunder has done before the powers of genius, exercised through an immensity of ages?
“When all the regions of nature are disarmed by the happy use of her gifts, we shall experience nothing but her benefits. · "Humanity and frankness were the basis of his morality. An habitual gaiety, a happy facility in regard to every thing respecting the common concerns of life, · and a tranquil inflexibility in affairs of importance,
formed the character of Dr Franklin. These two · latter qualities are easily united in men, who endowed with a superior mind and strong understand
ing abandon trifling things to doubt and to indiffers ence. .."His system of conduct was simple ; he endeavoured to banish sorrow and wearisomeness by means of temo perance and labour. · • Happiness,' he was used to Bay, like a body, is composed of insensible elements.' : “Without disdaining glory, he knew, how to despise the injustice of opinion; and while enjoying renown he could pardon envy. .. .'
“During his youth he had carried his pyrrhonism to the very foundation of morality: the natural goodness of his heart, and the directions of his conscience were his sole guides; and they very rarely led him astray.
“A little later in life, he allowed that there existed a morality founded upon the nature of man, independent of all speculative opinions, and anterior to all conventions.
“ He thought that our souls in another life received the recompense of their virtues, and the punishment of their faults: he believed in the existence of a God, at once beneficent and just, to whom he offered up, in the secrecy of his own conscience, a silent but pure homage.
“He did not despise the exterior forms of religion; he even thought them useful to morality: he however submitted himself to them but seldom. ** “ All religions appeared to him to be equally good, provided a universal toleration was the principle of them, and that they did not deprive of the recompense due to virtue, those who were of another belief, or of no belief at all. .
“ The application of the sciences to the common purposes of life, and to domestic economy, was often the subject of his researches: he took pleasure to demonstrate, that even in the most common affairs of life. custom and ignorance are but bad guides; that we were far from having exhausted the resources of nature, and were only deficient in men capable of interrogating her. , “He never wrote any thing upon politics, except some