Page images
PDF
EPUB

ON THE DEATH OF RELATIVES.

To Miss Hubbard.

Philadelphia, Feb. 22, 1756. I CONDOLE with you. We have lost a most dear and valuable relation. But it is the will of God and nature that these mortal bodies be laid aside when the soul is to enter into real life. This is rather an embryo state, a preparation for living. A man is not completely born until he be dead. Why then should we grieve that a new child is born among the immortals, a new member added to their happy society? We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellowcreatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes, and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid become an encumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We ourselves, in some cases, prudently choose a partial death. A mangled, painful limb, which cannot be restored, we willingly cut off. He who plucks out a tooth parts with it freely, since the pain goes with it; and he who quits the whole body parts at once with all pains, and possibilities of pains

..* Mr. John Franklin, the writer's brother.

and diseases, it was liable to, or capable of making him suffer.

Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure, which is to last for ever. His chair was ready first, and he is gone before us. We could not all conveniently start together; and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him?

Adieu.

B. FRANKLIN.

THE EPHEMERA AN EMBLEM OF HUMAN LIFE.

To Madame Brillont.

You may remember, my dear friend, that when we lately spent that happy day in the delightful garden and sweet society of the Moulin Jolly, I stopped a little in one of our walks, and stayed some time behind the company. We had been shown numberless skeletons of a kind of little fly, called an ephemera, whose successive generations, we were told, were bred and expired within the day. I happened to see a living company of them on a leaf, who appeared to be engaged in conversation. You know I understand all the inferior animal tongues : my too great application to the study of them is the best excuse I can give for the little progress I have made in your charming language. I listened, through curiosity to the discourse of these little creatures; but as they, in their national vivacity, spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their con. versation. I found, however, by some broken expressions that I heard now and then, they were disputing warmly on the merit of two foreign musicians, one a cousin, the other a muscheto ; in which dispute they spent their time, seemingly as regardless of the shortness of life as if they had been sure of living a month. Happy people ! thought I, you live certainly under a wise, just, and mild government, since you have no public grievances to complain of, nor any subject of contention, but the perfections or imperfections of foreign music. I turned my head from them to an old gray-headed one, who was single on another leaf, and talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy, I put it down in writing, in hopes it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so much indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements, her delicious company and heavenly barmony.

" It was,” says he, “ the opinion of learned philosophers of our race, who lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world, the Moulin Joly, could not itselt subsist more than eighteen hours : and I think there was some foundation for that opinion ; since, by the apparent motion of the great luminary that gives life to all nature, and which in my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end of our earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness, necessarily producing universal death

VOL. 1.

and destruction. I have lived seven of those hours : a great age, being no less than four hundred and twenty minutes of time. How very few of us continue so long! I have seen generations born, flourish, and expire. My present friends are the children and grand-children of the friends of my youth, who are now, alas, no more! And I must soon follow them; for by the course of nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labour, in amassing honey.dew on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy! What the political struggles I have been engaged in, for the good of my compatriot inhabitants of this bush, or my phisophical studies, for the benefit of our race in general! for in politics (what can laws do without morals ?) our present race of ephemeræ will, in a course of minutes, become corrupt, like those of other and older bushes, and consequently as wretched : and in philosophy how small our progress! Alas! art is long, and life is short! My friends would comfort me with the idea of a name, they say, I shall leave behind me; and they tell me, I have lived long enough to nature and to glory. But what will fame be to an ephemera, who no longer exists ? and what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end, and be buried in universal ruin ?"

To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid pleasures now remain, but the reflection of a long life

spent in meaning well, the sensible conversation of a few good lady ephemeræ, and now and then a kind smile and a tune from the ever amiable Brillont.

B. FRANKLIN.

ACCOUNT OF A WHIRLWIND AT MARYLAND.

To Peter Collinson, Esq.

DEAR SIR,

Philadelphia, Aug. 25, 1755. As you have my former papers on whirlwinds, &c. I now send you an account of one which I had lately an opportunity of seeing and examining myself.

Being in Maryland, riding with colonel Tasker, and some other gentlemen, to his country-seat, where I and my son were entertained by that amiable and worthy man with great hospitality and kindness, we saw, in the vale below us, a small whirlwind beginning in the road, and showing itself by the dust it raised and contained. It appeared in the form of a sugarloaf, spin ning on its point, moving up the hill to wards us, and enlarging as it came forward. When it passed by us, its smaller part near the ground appeared no bigger than a common barrel, but widening upwards, it seemed, at forty or fifiy feet high, to be twenty or thirty feet in diameter. The rest of the company stood looking after it; but my curiosity being stronger, I followed it, riding close by its side, and observed its licking up, in its progress, all the dust that was under its smaller part. As it is a common opinion that a shot, fired through a water

« PreviousContinue »