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Ben Franklin

Life of Benjamin Franklin by Jared Sparks


Franklin remains in England to await the Result of the Continental Congress. — Josiah Quincy, Junior. — Anecdotes. — Death of Dr. Franklin's Wife. — Family Incidents. — He receives and presents the Petition of Congress. — Rejected by Parliament. — Galloway's Plan of Union. — Franklin's Attempts to promote a Reconciliation between the two Countries. — Visits Lord Chatham. — Remarks on Independence. — Mrs. Howe. — He draws up Articles as the Basis of a Negotiation, at the Request of Dr. Fothergill and Mr. Barclay. — These Articles shown to the Ministers, and various Conferences concerning them. — Interviews with Lord Howe respecting some Mode of Reconciliation — He drafts another Paper for that Purpose. — Lord Chatham's Approval of the Proceedings of Congress. — Lord Camden. — Lord Chatham's Motion in Parliament. — Franklin's Interviews with him in forming a Plan of Reconciliation. — This Plan offered to Parliament, and rejected. — Negotiation resumed and broken off Franklin sails from England and arrives in Philadelphia.

In the mean time the news arrived, that a Continental Congress was about to convene, and, by the advice of his friends, Dr. Franklin concluded to wait the issue of that event. "My situation here," he observes, "is thought by many to be a little hazardous; for if, by some accident, the troops and people of New England should come to blows, I should probably be taken up; the ministerial people affecting everywhere to represent me as the cause of all the misunderstanding; and I have been frequently cautioned to secure my papers, and by some advised to withdraw. But I venture to stay, in compliance with the wish of others, till the result of the Congress arrives, since they suppose my being here might on that occasion be of use; and I confide in my innocence, that the worst which can happen to me will be an imprisonment. upon suspicion, though that is a thing I should much desire to avoid, as it may be expensive and vexatious, as well as dangerous to my health."

In this state of uncertainty and suspense be was greatly cheered by the arrival of Josiah Quincy, Junior, from Boston, the son of his old and valued friend, Josiah Quincy, of Braintree. Among the patriots of Massachusetts, who had signalized themselves in opposing the arbitrary acts of the British government, Josiah Quincy, Junior, was second to no one in talents, zeal, and activity. Having taken a conspicuous part in the late transactions, he was enabled to inform Dr. Franklin of all that had been done, and of the character and purposes of the prominent leaders; and it was a source of mutual satisfaction to find a perfect harmony of sentiment between themselves on the great subject, which had now become of vital importance to their country. In one of his letters, dated November 27th, Mr. Quincy says, "Dr. Franklin is an American in heart and soul; you may trust him; his ideas are not contracted within the narrow limits of exemption from taxes, but are extended upon the broad scale of total emancipation. He is explicit and bold upon the subject, and his hopes are as sanguine, as my own, of the triumph, of liberty in America."× Mr. Quincy was in England four months, and held almost daily intercourse with Dr. Franklin. He also visited Lord North, Lord Dartmouth, and some of the other ministers, at their request, conversed frequently with members of Parliament, and on all occasions defended the rights and conduct of his countrymen with the same freedom and firmness, that he would have used among his most intimate friends in Boston.×

While Dr. Franklin was making preparations to leave England early in the spring, and looking forward to a happy meeting with his family, from whom he had been separated ten years, he received the afflicting intelligence of the death of his wife. She was attacked with a paralytic stroke, which she survived, only five days. For some months she bad complained of occasional ill health, but nothing, serious was apprehended by her friends, although she was heard to express a conviction, that she should not recover. They had been married forty-four years, and lived together in a state of uninterrupted harmony and happiness.

Their correspondence during his long absence, a great part of which has been preserved, is affectionate on both sides, exhibiting proofs of an unlimited confidence and devoted attachment. He omitted no opportunity to send her whatever he thought would contribute to her convenience and comfort, accompanied by numerous little tokens of remembrance and affection. So much did be rely on her prudence and capacity, that, when abroad, he intrusted to her the management of his private affairs. Many years after her death, in writing to a young lady, he said; "Frugality is an enriching virtue; a virtue I never could acquire myself; but I was once lucky enough to find it in a wife, who therefore became a fortune to me." The little song, which he wrote in her praise, is marked with a playful tenderness, and contains sentiments, creditable to his feelings as a man and a husband. In his autobiography and letters he often mentions his wife, and always with a kindness and respect, which could proceed only from genuine sensibility and a high estimate of her character and virtues.×

A late English writer, who in the main has done justice to Franklin, thinks it strange, that so little has been said of his family connexions; and insinuates, that, in his days of prosperity, he was less attentive to his poor relations, than would be expected from one, so remarkable for benevolence and philanthropy in his intercourse with society and in all his public acts. To remove such a suspicion, it is only necessary to peruse his writings, and study his history. The tale of his early years is told by himself in his own simple and expressive language, and no one will say, that it is deficient in a lively concern for the welfare of his relatives, or in the natural sympathies of a son and a brother. His circumstances were as humble, and his fortunes as adverse, as those of any of his family; and, before he had gained a competency, many of them had passed off the stage. When his wife died, the last of his sixteen brothers and sisters, except the youngest, had been dead eight years, his father twenty-eight, and his mother twenty.

Neither his parents, nor more than two or three of his brothers and sisters, needed his assistance. His brother James died at Newport in Rhode Island, leaving a widow and children, whom he befriended and aided many years. His brother Peter died at an advanced age in Philadelphia, having been established there by Dr. Franklin, and assisted by him in procuring a support. His youngest sister, Jane, who married Edward Mecom, resided the most of her life in Boston, and was left a widow with several children. Her means of support were small, and her misfortunes many; but she was sustained by his affectionate kindness and liberal bounty as long as he lived, of which there are abundant evidences in her letters of grateful acknowledgment. More than any others of the family, she resembled him in the strength of her character and intellect. Her eldest son found a home in his family, till he had learned the printer's trade, when he was set up in business by his uncle. Dr. Franklin met in England a relation of the same name, but of another branch of the family, old and poor, who had an only daughter eleven years of age. This child he took home to his lodgings in London, with no other than charitable motives, and had her educated and maintained at his charge till she was married.

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No father was ever more kind, devoted, or generous to his own children. His eldest son, William, was his constant companion at home and abroad in his youth, and afterwards the object of his confidence and paternal regard, till he estranged himself by his violent political conduct, sacrificing the ties of kindred to the schemes of ambition. Francis Folger, his second son, died when he was only four years old, of whom his father said, "Though now dead thirty-six years, to this day I cannot think of him without a sigh." His daughter, Sarah, alone remained to soothe his old age, and administer to his last wants in a lingering disease. From her birth she experienced from him all that a father's fondness, indulgence, and counsel could bestow, and he bequeathed to her the principal part of the fortune, which he had acquired by years of laborious industry, and by the habitual practice of his rigid maxims of economy and prudence.

On all occasions he was prompt to assist the necessitous, and liberal in his benefactions and deeds of charity. For public objects his contributions were in full proportion to his means. He had a delicate way of giving money, which he called lending it for the good of mankind. To an English clergyman, a prisoner in France, whose wants he relieved by a sum, of money, he wrote; "Some time or other you may have an opportunity of assisting with an equal sum a stranger who has equal need of it. Do so. By that means you will discharge any obligation you, may suppose yourself under to me. Enjoin him to do the same on occasion. By pursuing such a practice, much good may be done with little money. Let kind offices go round. Mankind are all of a family." This was a common practice with him, by which he could spare the feelings of the receiver, and practically inculcate the maxim of doing good.

About the middle of December, 1774, Dr. Franklin received the petition of the first Continental Congress to the King, with a letter from the president of Congress to the several colonial agents in London, requesting them to present the petition. All the agents, except Franklin, Bollan, and Lee, declined acting in the business, alleging that they had no instructions. These three gentlemen, however, carried it to Lord Dartmouth, who, after retaining it one day for perusal, during which a cabinet council was held agreed to deliver it; and in a short time he informed them, that his Majesty had been pleased to receive it "very graciously," and would, lay it before both Houses of Parliament. This was accordingly done, but without any allusion to it in the King's speech, or any message calling the attention of Parliament to the subject. It was sent down with a mass of letters of intelligence, newspapers, and pamphlets, and laid upon the table undistinguished from the other papers with which it was accompanied. The agents requested to be heard at the bar of the House in support of the petition, but were refused. When it came up for consideration, it was rejected by an overwhelming majority, after a heated debate, in which the ministerial members spoke contemptuously of the Americans and of their pretended grievances, and insisted on reducing them to obedience at all events, and by force of arms if that were necessary.

While the first Congress was sitting, Galloway, who was a member from Pennsylvania, proposed a plan of union between Great Britain and the colonies, which met with so little success, that there was almost a unanimous voice for not permitting it to be entered in the journals. Piqued at this slight, and at the defeat of a scheme from which be had formed high expectations, Galloway caused his plan to be printed, in connexion with disrespectful observations on the proceedings of Congress. He sent a copy of it to Dr. Franklin, who, in his reply, without touching upon its merits, gave his ideas of some preliminary articles, which he said ought to be agreed to before any plan of union could be established. These articles included a repeal of the Declaratory Act, and of all the acts of Parliament laying duties on the colonies, all acts altering the charter, constitution, or laws of any colony, all acts restraining manufactures, with a modification of the navigation acts, which should be reenacted by the legislatures of both countries. It was his opinion, however, that no benefit would result to America by a closer union with Great Britain than already existed.

For the year past, Dr. Franklin had foreseen, that, if the ministers persevered in their mad projects against the colonies, a rupture between the two countries and a civil war would soon follow; and be used all the means in his power to induce a change of measures. This was. known to gentlemen of influence in the opposition, who were striving to effect the same end, and who accordingly sought his counsel and cooperation. Lord Chatham was among those, who condemned the policy and acts of the administration; and be was resolved to make a strenuous effort in Parliament to avert the calamity, which he saw, as be thought, impending over the nation. In the month of August, 1774, while Dr. Franklin was on a visit to Mr. Sargent, at his seat in Kent, he received an invitation from Lord Chatham to visit him at Hayes, his Lordship's residence, which was not far distant. Lord Stanhope called on Dr. Franklin the next day, and accompanied him to Hayes.

The conversation turned on American affairs. Lord Chatham spoke feelingly of the late laws against Massachusetts; censured them with severity, and said he had a great esteem for the people of that country, and "hoped they would continue firm, and unite in defending, by all practicable and legal means, their constitutional rights." Dr. Franklin said be was convinced they would do so, and then proceeded to explain the nature and grounds of their complaints, the unconstitutional encroachments of Parliament, and the injustice and impolicy of the measures, which the ministers were rashly enforcing, and which would inevitably alienate the affections of the colonists, and drive them to desperation and open resistance.

His Lordship seemed pleased with his frankness, assented to some of his statements, and raised queries respecting others. He mentioned an opinion prevailing in England, that the Americans were aiming to set up an independent state. Dr. Franklin assured him, that he had at different times traveled from one end of the continent to the other, conversed with all descriptions of people, and had never heard a hint of this kind from any individual. This declaration referred to the past, and to the actual disposition towards the mother country before the late events, and not to the temper which had been excited by the novel aggressions of the British government; for Dr. Franklin himself, at this very time, as we learn from his conversation with Mr. Quincy, was looking forward to independence, because he was satisfied that the ministry would not relax from their tyrannical measures, and that the people would not endure them. On this ground alone he expected independence, and not from any thing that had as yet been done or resolved by the colonists.×

Lord Chatham was affable, professed to be much pleased with the visit, and politely told Dr. Franklin, that he should be glad to see him whenever his convenience, would permit.

Some time after, when he was at a meeting of the Royal Society, Mr. Raper, one of the members, proposed to introduce him to a certain lady, who, be said, wished to play with him at chess. This lady was Mrs. Howe, a sister of Lord Howe. Being fond of chess, and having no reason to decline such an invitation, he accepted the challenge, not dreaming that any thing more was intended than a little recreation. He called on her with his friend, played a few games, and, finding her agreeable and intelligent, agreed to resume the amusement on another day.

He went accordingly, and played as before. The chess-board being laid aside, Mrs. Howe began a conversation, first on a mathematical problem, then on political affairs, and at last she said, "What is to be done with this dispute between Great Britain and the colonies? I hope we are not to have a civil war." "They should kiss and be friends," said Franklin; "what can they do better? Quarrelling can be of service to neither, but it is ruin to both." "I have often said," she replied, that I wished government would employ you to settle the dispute for them; I am sure nobody could do it so well. Do you not think that the thing is practicable?" "Undoubtedly, Madam," he rejoined, "if the parties are disposed to reconciliation; for the two countries have really no clashing interests to differ about. It is rather a matter of punctilio, which two or three reasonable people might settle in half an hour. I thank you for the good opinion you are pleased to express of me; but the ministers will never think of employing me in that good work; they choose rather to abuse me." "Ay", said she, "they have behaved shamefully to you; and, indeed, some of them are now ashamed of it themselves." As this conversation was apparently incidental, he drew no inferences from it, but assented again to the lady's request to renew their game of chess on a future occasion.

In the mean time two of his friends, Dr. Fothergill and David Barclay, jointly expressed to him great concern at the present state of the colonial dispute, and urged him with much solicitude to make a new and formal attempt to bring about a reconciliation, saying that he understood the business better than anybody else, and could manage it more effectually, and that it seemed to be his duty to leave no expedient untried, which would tend to promote an object of so great moment to both countries. At first he objected to any further interference, believing the ministry were not in the least inclined to an accommodation, but that they wished rather to irritate the colonists and push them to acts of resistance, that they might have a pretence for using force to reduce them to submission.

Dr. Fothergill and Mr. Barclay were of a different opinion, and were convinced, that, whatever might be the designs of some of the ministers, others seriously desired a reconciliation, and would listen to any reasonable propositions for that end. They entreated him to think of the matter, and to sketch a plan, such as he should be willing to support, and as in his opinion would be acceptable to the colonies. With some reluctance he yielded to their solicitation, and promised to prepare a draft, and show it to them at their next meeting.

He drew up a paper, consisting of seventeen articles, which he called Hints, but which embodied the elements of a compact. He consented that the tea, which had been destroyed in the harbour of Boston, should be paid for; but he required the tea act, and all the acts restraining manufactures, the laws against Massachusetts and the Quebec act, to be repealed, and all the acts for regulating trade to be reenacted by the colonial legislatures. He insisted, that all duties collected in the colonies should be paid into the colonial treasuries, and that the custom-house officers should be appointed by the governors; that no requisitions should be made in time of peace, and that no troops should enter any colony without the consent of its legislature; that in time of war the requisitions should be in proportion to those in Great Britain; that the governors and judges should be appointed during good behaviour, and receive their salaries from the Assemblies; and that Parliament should claim no power over the internal legislation of the colonies. These were the principal points, though there were some others of minor importance.

At the time appointed he met Dr. Fothergill and Mr. Barclay, produced his Hints, and explained and defended each article. They objected to some parts, and doubted as to others; yet they thought it worth while to make the experiment, as a preliminary step towards a negotiation, and asked permission to take copies of his paper, intimating an intention to show it in the ministerial circles. Dr. Fothergill was on terms of intimacy with Lord Dartmouth 'and some of the other ministers; and Mr. Barclay wished it to be seen by Lord. Hyde, with whom he was acquainted. .Dr. Franklin, submitting to the discretion of his friends, did not object to this proposal, and two copies were transcribed in the handwriting of Mr. Barclay.

It was now time to fulfil his engagement to Mrs. Howe. He called at her house, but had scarcely entered the room, when she said that her brother, Lord Howe, would be glad to make his acquaintance. He could only reply, that he should be proud of such an honor. He is just by," said she; will you give me leave to send for him? "By all means, Madam," he answered, "if you think proper." She accordingly despatched a message to her brother, who arrived in a few minutes.

His Lordship began the conversation with some polite compliments, and said his particular motive for desiring an interview at this time was the alarming state of American affairs, and that he hoped to obtain Dr. Franklin's sentiments on the best means of reconciling the differences, being persuaded that no other person could do so much towards healing the breach, which threatened the most mischievous consequences, unless some speedy remedy could be applied, A long discourse ensued, in which Lord Howe requested him to put in writing such propositions, as he conceived would lead to a good understanding between the two countries, which they might consider at another interview. This he agreed to undertake.

According to his promise, he had communicated to Lord Chatham the late American papers which he had received; and he went a week afterwards to Hayes, where he was extremely gratified with the manner in which that great man spoke of the proceedings of the Congress. "They had acted," he said, "with so much temper, moderation, and wisdom, that he thought it the most honorable assembly of statesmen since those of the ancient Greeks and Romans in the most virtuous times." He professed a warm regard for the Americans, and hearty wishes for their prosperity, and added, that when Parliament assembled he should have something to offer, upon which he should previously want Dr. Franklin's sentiments.

On his way home he passed the night with Lord Camden, at Chislehurst. This nobleman agreed entirely with Lord Chatham in his opinion of Congress, and of the transactions in America.

He returned to town in time to meet Lord Howe according to appointment, but was obliged to apologize for not being ready with his propositions. Lord Howe said, he could now assure him, that both Lord North and Lord Dartmouth were sincerely disposed to an accommodation. He then asked Dr. Franklin what be thought of a project for sending over a commissioner empowered to inquire into the grievances of the Americans, and to agree with them upon some mode of reconciliation. Franklin seemed to approve the idea. Mrs. Howe was present. I wish, brother," said she, "you were to be sent thither on such a service; I should like that much better than General Howe's going to command the army there. I think, Madam," replied Franklin, "they ought to provide for General Howe some more honorable employment." Lord Howe then drew out a paper, which proved to be a copy of the Hints, in David Barclay's handwriting. He remarked, that these terms were so hard, as to afford little hope of their being obtained, and he begged Dr. Franklin to turn his thoughts to another plan.

To satisfy his Lordship, he consented to make a second trial; but he confessed, that he did not think he should produce any thing more acceptable. He drew up a series of propositions, founded mainly on the petition of Congress to the King, and such other papers as Congress had published. He sent the propositions to Lord Howe, and both these and the Hints were communicated to some of the ministers, to Lord Hyde, and to a few other persons of high political standing.

Soon afterwards he was informed by Lord Stanhope, that Lord Chatham would offer a motion to the House of Lords the following day, and desired his attendance. The next morning, January 20th, he likewise received a message from Lord Chatham, telling him, that if he would be in the lobby at two O'clock, he would introduce him. "I attended," says Dr. Franklin, "and met him there accordingly. On my mentioning to him what Lord Stanhope had written to me, he said, 'Certainly; and I shall do it with the more pleasure, as I am sure your being present at this day's debate will be of more service to America than mine;' and so taking me by the arm was leading me along the passage to the door that enters near the throne, when one of the door-keepers followed, and acquainted him, that, by the order, none were to be carried in at that door but the eldest sons or brothers of peers; on which he limped back with me to the door near the bar, where were standing a number of gentlemen, waiting for the peers who were to introduce them, and some peers waiting for friends they expected to introduce; among whom he delivered me to the door-keepers, saying aloud, 'This is Dr. Franklin, whom I would have admitted into the House;' when they readily opened the door for me accordingly. As it had not been publicly known' that there was any communication between his Lordship and me, this, I found, occasioned some speculation." Lord Chatham moved, that the troops should be withdrawn from Boston. This gave rise to a warm debate, in which the motion was ably and eloquently sustained by the mover and Lord Camden, but it was lost by a large majority.

In the course of his remarks Lord Chatham mentioned, that this motion was introductory to a general plan for a reconciliation, which he proposed to lay before Parliament. This was the subject, in regard to which he had before intimated to Dr. Franklin that he should want his advice and assistance. A week after the debate on the motion, he spent a day with his Lordship, who showed him the outlines of his Plan, and asked his opinion and observations upon all its principal points. Lord Chatham next called at his lodgings in town, and passed nearly two hours with him on the same business. The draft of his plan was now completed, and he left a copy of it with Dr. Franklin, requesting him to consider it maturely, and suggest any alterations or additions that might occur to him. He made another visit to Hayes, where the plan was again discussed, and the work was finished.

He did not approve the plan in all its parts, nor believe it would be acceptable to the colonies; and he freely stated his objections. But it was necessary to conform in some degree to the prejudices prevailing in Parliament, or there would be no hope of gaining the attention of that body to any propositions and Lord Chatham himself did not suppose, that, In any event, his plan would be adopted precisely as be should present it. His aim was to open the way to an accommodation, and amendments might be introduced in its progress through the House. Little else was to be expected, than that it might serve as the basis of a treaty. And in the mean time before it passed, the Americans would have an opportunity of knowing what it was, and of making objections propositions.

This plan was submitted to the House of Lords, in the form of a bill, on the 1st of February. Lord Stanhope, at the request of Lord Chatham, accompanied Dr. Franklin to the House, and procured him admittance. The House was very full. Lord Chat, ham exerted all his powers of eloquence and argument in support of his plan. It was vehemently assailed by the ministers and their adherents; and was defended by the Dukes of Richmond and Manchester, Lord Shelburne Lord Camden, Lord Temple, and others. The ministerial influence was so great, however, that it was not even allowed to lie on the table for future consideration, but was rejected by a majority of two to one.

The speech of Lord Sandwich was passionate and abusive. He could not believe, be said, that the bill proceeded from a British peer; it was more likely the work of some American; and, turning towards Dr. Franklin, who was leaning on the bar, said "he fancied he had in his eye the person who drew it up, one of the bitterest and most mischievous enemies this country had ever known." In reply to this illiberal insinuation, Lord Chatham "declared, that it was entirely his own; a declaration he thought himself more obliged to make, as many of their Lordships appeared to have so mean an opinion of it; for, if it was so weak or so bad a thing, it was proper in him to take care that no other person should unjustly share in the censure it deserved. That it had been heretofore reckoned his vice, not to be apt to take advice; but be made no scruple to declare, that, if he were the first minister of this country, and had the care of settling this momentous business, he should not be ashamed of publicly calling to his assistance a person so perfectly acquainted with the whole of American affairs as the gentleman alluded to, and so injuriously reflected on; one, he was pleased to say, whom all Europe held in high estimation for his knowledge and wisdom, and ranked with our Boyles and Newtons; who was an honor, not to the English nation only, but to human nature!"

After this proceeding, Dr. Franklin did not expect to hear any thing more of proposals for a negotiation but, a day or two after, he was again invited by Dr. Fothergill and Mr. Barclay to meet and consult with them on the subject of the Hints. It appears that conferences had been held about them; and these gentlemen handed him a paper, which purported to come from high authority, and in which some of his articles were approved, and others rejected or modified. He read the paper and agreed to consider it. His opinion of its contents may be drawn from his remarks on this interview.

"We had not at this time," he says, "a great deal of conversation upon these points; for I shortened it by observing, that, while the Parliament claimed and exercised a power of altering our constitutions at pleasure, there could be no agreement; for we were rendered unsafe in every privilege we had a right to, and were secure in nothing. And, it being hinted how necessary an agreement was for America, since it was so easy for Britain to burn all our seaport towns, I grew warm, said that the chief part of my little property consisted of houses in those towns; that they might make bonfires of them whenever they pleased; that the fear of losing them would never alter my resolution to resist to the last that claim of Parliament; and that it behoved this country to take care what mischief it did us; for that, sooner or later, it would certainly be obliged to make good all damages with interest!

"The negotiation continued thus informally for some time longer. Another paper was produced, which was understood to come from the ministry, and various efforts were made to induce Dr. Franklin to relax from some of his terms. But all the proposed modifications seemed to him of intrinsic importance, and such as his countrymen would riot and ought not to accept. Several conferences followed, in some of which Lord Howe and Lord Hyde took a part. It turned out, that Lord Howe had conceived a strong desire to be sent over to America as a commissioner; and this explains the warm interest he took in the subject, as well as the contrivance of his sister to bring him acquainted with Dr. Franklin, in a way that should not excite a suspicion of her motives. Governor Pownall had formed a similar project for himself; and it is probable, that the ministry seriously thought of this step, if they could obtain such propositions from Dr. Franklin, as would afford 'a reasonable prospect of accomplishing their wishes; it being supposed, that he would express the sentiments of the Americans on all the essential points of difference. When they ascertained the extent of his claims, and found him unyielding, the scheme was abandoned. And, indeed, before the negotiation was at an end, he became tired of it himself, believing it utterly fruitless — and be said, if any thing more was to be done, the ministers ought to be directly concerned in it, and there should be a full understanding of the dispositions and designs of both parties. Whatever may be thought of this negotiation as an affair of diplomacy, or of the aims of those connected with it on the British side, there can be but one opinion as to the manner in which it was conducted by Franklin. It was creditable to his patriotism and sagacity. He had been absent ten years from America, and could know the opinions and feelings of his countryman only from the reports of their proceedings and published papers. He was beyond the reach of the enthusiasm naturally inspired by a union of numbers in defending rights and resisting oppression; yet no American could have placed the demands of the colonies on a broader foundation, or supported them with a more ardent zeal, or insisted on them with a more determined resolution.

These transactions detained him longer in England than he had expected. He was now ready for his departure, and he received a message from Dr. Fothergill for their mutual friends in Philadelphia. "Tell them" said he, "that, whatever specious pretences are offered, they are all hollow." Dr. Fothergill was as much disgusted, as disappointed, with the ministerial manoeuvers, which he had discovered in the course of the late negotiation.

The day before Franklin left London, he wrote as follows to Arthur Lee. "I leave directions with Mrs. Stevenson to deliver to you all the Massachusetts papers, when you please to call for them. I am sorry that the hurry of preparing for my voyage, and the many hindrances I have met with, prevented my meeting with you and Mr. Bollan, and conversing a little more on our affairs, before my departure. I wish to both of you health and happiness, and shall be glad to hear from you by every opportunity. I shall let you know how I find things in America. I way possibly return again in the autumn, but you will, if you think fit, continue henceforth the agent for Massachusetts, an office which I cannot again undertake." In a letter to a friend on the continent, he likewise mentions it as probable that he should return in the autumn. But he did not then foresee the memorable day at Lexington, which occurred a month afterwards, nor the new scene of action that awaited him on the other side of the Atlantic. He sailed from England on the 21st of March, 1775, and arrived at Philadelphia on the 5th of May, employing himself during a long voyage in writing an account of his recent attempts to establish peace and harmony between the two countries; but this paper was not published till after his death.

He also made experiments with a thermometer, to ascertain the temperature of the ocean in different places, by which he found that the water in the Gulf Stream is warmer than the sea on, each side of it. This result, which he considered "a valuable philosophical discovery," was confirmed by similar experiments repeated in two other voyages. His inference was, that the body of water, constituting the Gulf Stream, retains a portion of its warmth while it passes from the tropics to the northern seas, thus affording seamen the means of knowing when they are in the Stream by the temperature of the water. By the same warmth, as he supposed, the air above is rarefied and rendered lighter; currents of wind flow in from opposite directions, and produce the tornadoes and water-spouts so common over the Gulf Stream in southern latitudes. Further north, the warm air mingles with the cold, and is condensed into the fogs, which prevail so remarkably on the Banks of Newfoundland.

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