« VorigeDoorgaan »
with its columns, lines, and black spots. Even, according to his own registry, there is for one week some fourteen entries against him. Now, this number, or any smaller amount of transgression, necessarily inculpated him in the sight of God; so that supposing he never had or did commit another offence,-suppose that he exerted a perfect insight into his conduct, both as respected omissions and commissions, and also as related to his duties to God, to man, and to himself-how, we ask, was any course or number of acts of perfect obedience, on his part, ever able to atone for such transgressions? The law of God is perfect, exacting perfect obedience; nor can any man ever do more than his duty in any given case. Alas! then, how lamentable is it that we do not find Benjamin Franklin once distinctly throwing himself upon the immaculate propitiator who died that man might have life eternal, and whose merits atone for the deepest guilt.
One of the editors of Franklin's memoirs says of him, that "in every character, whether as a private individual or a public diplomatist, as a philosophical inquirer, or the legislator of an enlightened nation, he constantly proved throughout his long and eventful career, that he estimated his extraordinary talents of no higher value, than as enabling him to promote, as far as in him lay, the happiness of mankind." Every person at all conversant with the history of this distinguished man, must echo the sentiment. Oh! that we had another authentic chapter, wherein to be assured that he soared higher, and that his loftiest aims related to fallen man's everlasting felicity and acceptance with God, through the redemption and advocacy of Jesus Christ the righteous.
The practice of frugality and industry which Dr. Franklin pursued throughout his career, and the success which attended his efforts, placed him in a condition of considerable affluence in his later years; and this wealth enabled him to assist in alleviating individual distress, and also in furthering public improvements of which he was an unceasing promoter. That, in his latest thoughts, he consulted the public benefit with a peculiar anxiety, is testified by the tenour of his last will and testament, from which we extract the following remarkable and characteristic passages:
"It has been an opinion, that he who receives an estate from his ancestors, is under some obligation to transmit the same to posterity. This obligation lies not on me, who never inherited a shilling from any ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is not diminished by some accident before my death, leave a considerable estate among my des *****
dants and relations. The above observation is ma
"I was born in Boston, New England, and ous ---
"But I am also under obligations to the s
"To this end I devote two thous
"The said sum of one tags:
I three resum
id manuld have
ly wrought The friend of merited it,
latter years inches; his remarkably rm and mild. in his manon. With his
d mixed comfund of knowgive a peculiar al reflections, pologues in the
s. Bache, who, id to have been striking reseme. President of ed lady.
ld be buried bev. said should be y of their names wrote an epitaph his decease. In of dependence on
the beneficial results, on and Philadelphia.
ther with the sums lent, the dates, and other necessary and proper re cords respecting the business and concerns of this institution: and as these loans are intended to assist young married artificers in setting up their business, they are to be proportioned by the discretion of the managers, so as not to exceed sixty pounds stirling to one person, nor to be less than fifteen pounds.
"And if the number of appliers so entitled should be so large as that the sum will not suffice to afford to every one some assistance, these aids may be therefore small at first; but as the capital increases by the accumulated interest, they will be more ample. And in order to serve as many as possible in their turn, as well as to make the repayment of the principal borrowed more easy, each borrower shall be obliged to pay with the yearly interest one-tenth part of the principal; which sums of principal and interest so paid in, shall be again let out to fresh borrowers. And it is presumed that there will be always found in Boston virtuous and benevolent citizens, willing to bestow part of their time in doing good to the rising generation, by superintending and managing this institution gratis; it is to be hoped that no part of the money will at any time lie dead, or be diverted to other purposes, but be constantly augmenting by the interest, in which case there may in time be more than the occasion in Boston may require; and then some may be spared to the neighbouring or other towns in the said state of Massachusetts, which may desire to have it, such towns engaging to pay punctually the interest and the proportions of the principal annually, to the inhabitants of the town of Boston. If this plan is executed, and succeeds, as projected, without interruption for one hundred years, the sum will be then one hundred and thirty-one thousand pounds; of which I would have the managers of the donation to the town of Boston then lay out, at their discretion, one hundred thousand pounds in public works, which may be judged of most general utility to the inhabitants; such as fortifications, bridges, aqueducts, public buildings, baths, pavements, or whatever may make living in the town more convenient to its people, and render it more agreeable to strangers resorting thither for health, or a temporary residence. The remaining thirty-one thousand pounds I would have continued to be let out at interest in the manner above directed, for one hundred years; as I hope it will have been found that the institution has had a good effect on the conduct of youth, and been of service to many worthy characters and useful citizens. At the end of this second term, if no unfortunate accident has prevented the opera
tion, the sum will be four millions and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which I leave one million and sixty-one thousand pounds to the disposition and management of the inhabitants of Boston, and three millions to the disposition of the government of the State-not presuming to carry my views further.
"All the directions herein given respecting the disposition and management of the donation to the inhabitants of Boston, I would have observed respecting that to the inhabitants of Philadelphia.*
"My fine crabtree walking-stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a sceptre, he has merited it, and would become it."
Dr. Franklin was well formed and strongly built, in his latter years inclining to corpulency; his stature was five feet nine or ten inches; his eyes were grey and his complexion light. His head was remarkably large in proportion to his figure. His expression was firm and mild. Affable in his deportment, unobstrusive, easy, and winning in his manners, he rendered himself agreeable to persons in any station. With his intimate friends he conversed freely, but with strangers and mixed company he was reserved, and sometimes taciturn. His great fund of knowledge and experience in human affairs, contributed to give a peculiar charm to his conversation, enriched as it was by original reflections, enlivened by a vein of pleasantry, and by ingenious apologues in the happy recollection and use of which he was unsurpassed.
Dr. Franklin left to deplore his loss, one daughter, Mrs. Bache, who, as we have seen, tended him on his death-bed. She is said to have been a woman of a superior mind, in every way bearing a striking resemblance to her father. The present Professor Bache, President of Gerard College, Philadelphia, is a grandson of that gifted lady.
The Doctor's wish and request had been that he should be buried beside his wife; and that a plain marble slab, as already, said should be placed above their remains, with an inscription simply of their names and dates of their interments. When a young man he wrote an epitaph on himself, which was found amongst his papers after his decease. In this document, we are glad to say, he places a degree of dependence on
The experiment of half a century has not produced all the beneficial results, which were anticipated by Dr. Franklin, from his bequest to Boston and Philadelphia.
Revelation much beyond what appears in some parts of his writings, when avowing a creed; for he anticipates the resurrection of the body, a doctrine which has been brought to light only by the Holy Scriptures. The epitaph has been often quoted, and is as follows:
(LIKE THE CONTENTS OF AN OLD BOOK,
ITS CONTENTS TORN OUT,
AND STRIPT OF ITS LETTERING AND GILDING),
YET THE WORK ITSELF SHALL NOT BE LOST,
AND MORE BEAUTIFUL EDITION,
CORRECTED AND AMENDED
PRINTED BY J. STANLEY, 1, BARTLETT'S COURT, HOLBORN HILL