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appointed by the assembly to resume his agency at the court of Great-Britain. Much opposition was made to his re-appointment; which seems greatly to have affected his feelings; as it came from men with whom he had long been connected both in public and private life, “the very ashes of whose former friendship,” he declared, “ that he revered.” His pathetic farewell to Pennsylvania on the 5th of November, 1764, the day before his departure, is a strong proof of the agitation of his mind on this occasion.
“ I am now," says he, “ to take leave (perhaps a last leave) of the country I love, and in which I have spent the greatest part of
life. Esto perpetua! I wish every kind of prosperity to my friends, and I forgive my enemies."
But under whatsoever circumstances this second embassy was undertaken, it appears to have been a measure pre-ordained in the councils of Heaven; and it will be forever remembered, to the honour of Pennsylvania, that the agent selected to assert and defend the rights of a single province, at the court of GreatBritain, became the bold asserter of the rights of America in general; “and, beholding the fetters that were forging for her, conceived the magnanimous thought of rending them asunder before they could be rivetted*.” And this brings us to consider him, in a more enlarged view, viz.
Secondly-As a citizen of America, one of the chief and greatest workmen in the foundation and establishment of her empire and renown.
But on this head little need be said on the present occasion. The subject has been already exhausted by his eulogists, even in distant countries. His opposition to the stamp-act, his noble defence of the liberties of America, at the bar of parliament, and his great services, both at home and abroad, during the revolution, are too well known to need further mention in this assembly, or in the presence of so many of his compatriots and fellow labourers in the great work. I hasten, therefore, to consider him in another illustrious point of view, viz.
Thirdly-As a citizen of the world—successfully labouring for the benefit of the whole human race, by the diffusion of liberal science and the invention of useful arts.
Endowed with a penetrating and inquisitive genius, speculative and philosophical subjects engaged his early attention; but he loved them only as they were useful, and pursued them no farther than as he found his researches applicable to some substantial purpose in life. His stock of knowledge and the fruits of his investigations, he never hoarded up for his own private use. Whatever he discovered whatever he considered as beneficial to mankind fresh as it was conceived, or brought forth in his own mind, he communicated to his fellow-citizens, by means of his news papers and almanacs, in delicate and palatable morsels, for the advancement of industry, frugality and other republican virtues; and, at a future day, as occasion might require, he would collect and digest the parts, and set out the whole
into one rich feast of useful maxims and practical wisdom.
Of this kind is his celebrated address, entitled “The Way to Wealth,” which is a collection or digest of the various sentences, proverbs and wise maxims, which, during a course of many years, he had occasionally published, in his Poor Richard's Almanac, on topics of industry, frugality, and the duty of minding one's own business. Had he never written any thing more than this admirable address, it would have ensured him immortality as—The Farmer's Philosopher, the Rural Sage, the Yeoman's and Peasant's Oracle.
But greater things lay before him! Although as a philosopher, as well as a politician, he remained unconscious of the plenitude of his own strength and talents, until called into further exertions by the magnitude of future objects and occasions.
There is something worthy of observation in the progress of science and human genius. As in the natural world there is a variety and succession of seeds and crops for different soils and seasons; so (if the comparison* may be allowed) in the philosophical world, there have been different æras for seed-time and harvest of the different branches of arts and sciences; and it is remarkable that, in countries far distant from each other, different men have fallen into the same tracks of science, and have made similar and correspondent discoveries, at the same period
of time, without the least communication with each other. Whether it be that, at the proper season of vegetation for those different branches, there be a kind of intellectual or mental farina disseminated, which falling on congenial spirits in different parts of the globe, take root at the same time, and spring to a greater or less degree of perfection, according to the richness of the soil and the aptitude of the season?
From the beginning of the year 1746, till about twenty years afterwards, was the æra of electricity, as no other branch of natural philosophy was so much cultivated during that period. In America, and in the mind of Franklin, it found a rich bed: the seed took root and sprung into a great tree, before he knew that similar seeds had vegetated, or risen to any height in other parts of the world.
Before that period, philosophers amused them. selves only with the smaller phænomena of electricity; such as relate to the attraction of light bodies; the distances to which such attraction would extend; the luminous appearances produced by the excited glass tube; and the firing spirits and inflammable air by electricity. Little more was known on the subject, than Thales had discovered 2000 years before; that certain bodies, such as amber and glass had this attractive quality. Our most indefatigable searchers into nature, who in other branches seemed to have explored her profoundest depths, were content with what was known in former ages of electricity, without advancing any thing new of their own. Suffi
cient data and experiments were wanting to reduce the doctrine and phænomena of electricity into any rules or system; and to apply them to any beneficial purposes in life. This great achievement, which had eluded the industry and abilities of a Boyle and a Newton, was reserved for a Franklin. With that diligence, ingenuity, and strength of judgment, for which he was distinguished in all his undertakings, he commenced his experiments and discoveries in the latter part of the year 1746; led thereto, as he tells us, by following the directions of his friend, Peter Collinson of London, in the use of an electric-tube, which that benevolent philosopher had presented to the library company of Philadelphia. The assiduity with which he prosecuted his investigations, appears from his first letter to Mr. Collinson, of March 28th, 1747.
“For my own part, says he, I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my attention and my time, as this has lately done. For, what with making experiments, when I can be alone, and repeating them to my friends and acquaintance, who, from the novelty of the thing, conie continually in crouds to see them, I have for some months past had leisure for little else." He had a delight in communicating his discoveries to his friends; and such was his manner of communication, with that winning modesty, that he appeared rather seeking to acquire information himself than to give it to others; which gave him a great advantage in his way of reasoning over those who followed a more dogmatic manner.
“ Possibly,” he would say, “ these experiments may not be new to you, as, among the numbers daily
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