ePub 版

for the province of Pennsylvania, and departed from America in June 1757. In conformity to the instructions which he had received from the legislature, held a conference with the proprietaries, who then resided in England, and endeavoured to prevail upon them to give up the long.contested point. Finding that they would hearken to no terms of accommodation, he laid his petition to the council. During this time governor Denny assented to a law imposing a tax, in which no discrimination was made in favour of the estates of the Penn family. They, alarmed at this intelligence, and Franklin's exertions, used their utmost exertions to prevent the royal sanction being given to this law, which they represented as highly iniquitous, designed to throw the burden of supporting government on them, and calculated to produce the most ruinous consequences to them and their posterity. The cause was amply discussed before the privy councils. The Penns found here some strenuous advocates ; nor were there wanting some who warmly espoused the side of the people. After some time spent in debate, a proposal was made, that Franklin should solemnly engage, that the assessment of the tax should be so made, as that the proprietary estates should pay no more than a due proportion. This he agreed to perform, the Penn family withdrew their opposition, and tranquility was thus once more restored to the province.

The mode in which this dispute was determined is a striking proof of the high opinion entertained of Frank. Jin's integrity and honour, even by those who consider

ed him as inimical to their views. Nor was their confi. dence ill founded. The assessment was made upon the strictest principles of equity; and the proprietary estates Lore only a proportionable share of the expenses of supporting government.

After the completion of this important business, Franklin remained at the court of Great Britain, as agent for the province of Pennsylvania. The extensive knowledge which he possessed of the situation of the colonies, and the regard which he always manifest


ed for their interests, occasioned his appointment to the same office by the colonies of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Georgia. His conduct, in this situation, was such as rendered him still more dear to his country


He had now an opportunity of indulging in the society of those friends, whom his merits had procured him while at a distance. The regard which they had entertained for him was rather increased by a personal acquaintance. The opposition which had been made to his discoveries in philosophy gradually ceased, and, the rewards of literary merit were abundantly conferred upon him. The Royal Society of London, which had at first refused his performances admission into its transactions, now thought it an honour to rank him among its fellows. Other societies of Europe were equally ambitious of calling him a member. The university of St. Andrew's, in Scotland, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. Its example was followed by the universities of Edinburgh and of Oxford. His cor. respondence was sought for by the most eminent phi. losophers of Europe. His letters to these abound with true science, delivered in the most simple unadorned manner.

The province of Canada was at this time in the possession of the French, who had originally settled it. The trade with the Indians, for which its situation was very convenient, was exceedingly lucrative. The French traders here found a market for their commodities, and received in return large quantities of rich furs, which they disposed of at a high price in Europe. Whilst the possession of this country was highly advantageous to France, it was a grievous inconvenience to the inhabitants of the British colonies. The Indians were almost generally desirous to cultivate the friendship of the French, by whom they were abundantly supplied with arms and ammunition. Whenever a war happened, the Indians were ready to fall upon the fron. tiers; and this they frequently did, even when Great Britain and France were at peace. From these con

siderations, it appeared to be the interest of Great Britain to gain the possession of Canada. But the importance of such an acquisition was not well understood in England. Franklin about this time published his Canada pamphlet, in which he, in a very forcible manner, pointed out the advantages which would result from the conquest of this province.

An expedition against it was planned, and the command given to General Wolfe. His success is well known. At the treaty of 1762, France ceded Canada to Great Britain, and by her cession of Louisiana, at the same time, relinquished all her possessions on the continent of America.

Although Dr. Franklin was now principally occupied with political pursuits, he found time for philosophical studies. He extended his electrical researches, and made a variety of experiments, particularly on the tourmalin. The singular properties which this stone possesses of being electrified on one side positively, and on the other negatively, by heat alone, without Gniesion had been but lately observed. Dr. Franklin-by ProicsouI 1-ondured by evapora-. he repeated, and found that, by the evaporation ether in the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, so great à degree of cold was produced in a summer's day, that water was converted into ice. This discovery he applied to the solution of a number of phenomena, particularly a singular fact, which philosophers had endeavoured in vain to account for, viz. that the temperature of the human body, when in health, never exceeds 96 degrees of Farenheit's thermometer, although the atmosphere which surrounds it may be heated to a much greater degree. This he attributed to the increased perspiration, and consequent evaporation, produced by the heat.

In a letter to Mr. Small.of London, dated in May 1760, Dr. Franklin makes a number of observations, tending to shew that, in North America, north-east

storms begin in the south-west parts. It appears, from actual observation, that a north-east storm, which extended a considerable distance, commenced in Phila. delphia nearly four hours before it was felt at Boston. He endeavoured to account for this, by supposing that, from heat, some rarefaction takes place about the gulf of Mexico, that the air further north being cooler rushes in, and is succeeded by the cooler and denser air still further north, and that thus a continued current is at length produced.

The tone produced by rubbing the brim of a drink. ing glass with a wet finger had been generally known. A Mr. Puckeridge, an Irishman, by placing on a table a number of glasses of different sizes, and tuning them by partly filling them with water, endeavoured to form an instrument capable of playing tunes.

He was prevented by an untimely end, from bringing his inyention to any degree of perfection. After his death some improvements were made upon his plan. The sweetness of the tones induced Dr. Frankfinomht Ar

In the summer of 1762 he returned to America. On his passage he observed the singular effect pro. duced by the agitation of a vessel, containing oil floating on water. The surface of the.dil remains smooth and undisturbed, whilst the water is agitated with the utmost commotion. No satisfactory explanation of this appearance, has we believe, ever been given.

Dr. Franklin received the thanks of the assembly of Pennsylvania, “as well for the faithful discharge of his duty to that province in particular, as for the many and important services done to America in general, during his residence in Great-Britain.” A compensa, tion of 50001. Pennsylvania curreney, was also decreed him for his services during six years.

During his absence he had been annually elected member of the assembly. On his return to Pennsyl


vania he again took his seat in this body, and continued a steady defender of the liberties of the people.

In December 1762, a circumstance which caused great alarm in the province took place. A number of Indians had resided in the county of Lancaster, and conducted themselves uniformly as friends to the white inhabitants. Repeated depredations on the frontiers had exasperated the inhabitants to such a degree, that they determined on revenge upon every Indian. A number of persons, to the amount of 120, principally inhabitants of Donnegal and Peckstang or Paxton townships, in the county of York, assembled; and, mounted on horseback, proceeded to the settlement of these harmless and defenceless Indians, whose number had now reduced to about twenty. The Indians received intelligence of the attack which was intended against them, but disbelieved it. Considering the white people as their friends, they apprehended no danger from them. When the party arrived at the Indian settlement, they found only some women and chil. dren, and a few old men, the rest being absent at work. They inurdered all whom they found, and amongst others the chief Shahaes, who had been always distinguished for his friendship to the whites. This bloody deed excited much indignation in the well disposed part of the community.

The remainder of these unfortunate Indians, who, by absence, had escaped the massacre, were conducted to Lancaster, and lodged in the gaol, as a place of security. The governor issued a proclamation, expresing the strongest disapprobation of the action, offering a reward for the discovery of the perpetrators of the deed, and prohibiting all injuries to the peaceable Indians in future. But, notwithstanding this, a party of the same men shortly after marched to Lancaster, broke open the gaol, and inhumanly butchered the innocent Indians who had been placed there for security

Another proclamation was issued, but had no effect. A detachment marched down to Philadelphia, for the express purpose of murdering some friendly Indians

« 上一頁繼續 »