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from America. He had scarcely read the letters with the tear of joy swelling in his patriot eye, when Mr. Neckar came in. Seeing the transport on his face, he eagerly asked what good news. “Thank God," replied Franklin, “the sturin is past. The paratonerres of divine justice have drawn off the lightnings of British violence, and here, sir, is the rainbow of peace," holding up the letter. What am I to understand by that, replied Neckar? Why, sir, quoth Franklin, my lord Cornwallis and his army are prisoners of war to general Washington Doctor Franklin's calculation on the surrender of Cornwallis that the storm was past, was very correct; for, although the thunders did not immediately cease, yet, after that event, they hardly amounted to any thing beyond a harmless rumbling, which presently subsided altogether, leaving a fine bright sky behind them.
THE rest of the acts of doctor Franklin while he resided in France, and the many pleasures he enjoyed there, as first, the great pleasure ef announcing the French court, in 1781, as we have seen, the surrender of lord Cornwallis and his army to general Washington. Second, the still greater pleasure of learning in 1782, that the British ministry were strongly inclined to “A PEACE TALK." l'hird, in 1783, the greatest pleasure of all, the pleasure of burrying the tomahawk, by a general peace.
Thus after having lived to see completely verified all his awful predictions to the blind and obstinate British cabinet about the result of this disastrous war; with losses indeed, beyond his prediction—the loss of two thousand ships!--the loss of one hundred thousand lives!--the loss of seven hundred millions of dollars ! and a loss still greater than all, the loss of the immense continent of North America, and the monoply of its incalculable produce and trade, shortly to fly on wings of canvass to all parts of the globe.
Having lived to see happily terminated, the grand struggle for American libérty, which even Englishmen have pronounced "the last hope and probable refuge of mankind," and having obtained leave from congress to returo, he took a last farewell of his generous Parisan friends, and embarked for his native country.
On the night of the 4th of September, the ship made the light-house at the mouth of Delaware bay. On coming upon
deck next morning, he beheld all in full view and close ar hand the lovely shores of America, where his fathers had dwelt." Who can paint the joy-brightened looks of our veteran patriot, when after an absence of seven years he beheld once more that beloved country for whose liberties and morals he had so long contended? Formerly, with an aching heart, he had beheld her as a dear mother whose fame was tarnished and her liberties half ravished by foreign lords. But now he greets her as free again, and freed, though heaven's blessing on her own heroic virtue and valor. Crowned thus with tenfold glory, he hails her with transport, as the grand nursery of civil and religious freedom, whose fair example of republican wisdom and moderation is, probably, destined of God to recommend the blessings of free government to all mankind.
The next day in the afternoon le arrived at Philadelphia. It is not for me to describe what he felt in sail. ing along up these lovely shores, while the heaven within diffused a double brightness and beauty over all the fair and magnificent scenes around. Neither is it for me to delineate the numerous demonstrations of public joy, wherewith the citizens of Philadelphia welcomed the man whom they all delighted to honor. Suffice it to say that he was landed amidst the firing of cannon that he was crowded with congratulatory addressesthat he was invited to sumptuous banquets, &c. &c. &c. But though it was highly gratifying to others to see transcendent worth so duly noticed, yet to himself, who had been so long familiar with such honours, they appeared but as baubles that had lost their tinsel.
But there were some pledges of respect offered him, which afforded a heartfelt satisfaction; I mean those numbers of pressing invitations to accept the presidencies of sundry noble institutions for public good, as
I. A society for difusing a knowledge of the best politics for our republic
II. A society for alleviating the miseries of public prisons.
III. A society for abolishing the slave trade--the relief of free negroes unlawfully held in bondage-and for bettering the condition of the poor blacks.
“It was because," said the trustees, "they well knew he had made it the sole scope of his greatly useful life to promote institutions for the happiness of mankind, that they now solicited the honour and benefit of his special care and guardianship.”
Though now almost worn out with the toils of fourscore years, and ofttimes greviously afflicted with his old complaint, the gravel, he yet accepted the proffered appointments with great pleasure, and attended to the duties of them with all the ardours of youth. Thus affording one more proof,
“That, in the present as in all the past
O SAVE MY COUNTRY, HEAVEN! was still his last.” "But though the spirit was willing, the flesh was wcak.". His strength was so sensibly diminished that it could scarcely second his mind, which seeined as unimpaired as ever.
But there was still one more service that his country looked to him for, before he went to rest; I mean that of aiding her councils in the grand convention that was about to sit in Philadelphia for the purpose of framing the present excellent constitution. He was called to this duty in 1788. The speech which he made in that convention has a high claim to our notice not only because it was the last speech that Dr. Franklin ever made in public; but because nothing ever yet placed in a fairer light the charm of modesty in a great man; and also the force of temperance, exercise and cheertulness which could preserve the intellectual faculties in such vigour, to the astonishing age of EIGHTY-TWO!!
Final speech of doctor Franklin in the Federal Conven
tion.- George Washington, President.
I do not entirely approve this constitution at present; but, sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it; for having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, to change opinions which I once thought right. It is therefore, that the older I grow the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of oihers. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects of religione, think themselves in possession of all truth, anii trat whenever others differ from them, it is so far error. Steele, a protestant, tells the pope, that "the only differe ence between our two churches, in their opinion of the certainty of their doctrines, is, the Romish church is iria fallible, and the church of England never in the wrong."
But though many private persons think almost as high: ly of their own infallibility, as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little dispute with her sister, said, “I don't know how it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right.” In these sentiments, sır, I agree to this constitution, with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no forin of government, but what may be a blessing, if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of
year's, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted, as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doabt too, whether any other convention we can obtaiu, may be able to make a better constitution. For when you asserable a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you assemble with those men, all the r prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly, can a perfect produce tion be expected?. It therefore, astonishes me, sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will confound our enemies, who are
waiting with confidence, to hear that our councils are confounded, like those of the builders of Babel, and that our states are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting each other's throats.
Thus I consent, sir, to this constitutton, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that this is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the great advantages resulting naturally in our favour among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity.. Much of the efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its go
I hope, therefore, that for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously, in recommending this constitution, wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered.
On the whole, sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the convention, who may still have objections, would with me on this occasion, doubt a little
of his own infallibility, and making manifest our unani- mity, put his name to this instrument.