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men seemed till now to have learned every thingbut how to be free.”
Dr. Franklin, having taken leave of the court of France, left Passy on the 12th of July, and arrived at Philadelphia, the 13th of September, 1785, where he was welcomed with joy by his fellow-citizens of all classes; and, in testimony of their heart-felt sense of his eminent virtues and past services, he was unanimously elected by them to the government of the commonwealth, for the three succeeding years ; being the longest term which the constitution of Pennsylvania then allowed. During that term, he was also appointed a member of the general convention, for forming and establishing a constitution for the United States of America; and on the 18th of September, 1787, that illustrious body having concluded their labours, Dr. Franklin, in conjunction with his colleagues of Pennsylvania, presented the result of the same, to the speaker and house of representatives, with the following short address
“ I have the very great satisfaction of delivering to you and to this honourable house, the result of our deliberations in the late convention. We hope and believethat the measures recommended by that body, will produce happy effects to this commonwealth, as well as to every other of the United States.” He then presented, at the speaker's chair, the constitution, agreed to in convention, for the government of the United States. The remainder of his term of office
in the government, he devoted to the wise and prudent administration of its duties; so far as the
growing infirmities of his years, and the painful disorder with which he had been long afflicted, would permit. During the most excruciating paroxysms of that disorder, he strove to conceal his pain, that he might not give pain to those around him; and he would often say, that he felt the greatest alleviation of his own pains, in the occasions which were offered him of doing good to others; and which he never neglected to the latest moments of his life.
One of the last public acts in which he was concerned, was to sanction with his name the memoria presented to the general government of the United States, on the subject of the slave trade, by the “ Pennsylvania society for promoting the abolition of slavery, and the relief of free Negroes, unlawfully held in bondage.” Of this society, he was president; and the institution and design of it could not but be congenial to the soul of a man, whose life and labours had been devoted to the cause of liberty, for more than half a century; ardently striving to extend its blessings to every part of the human species, and particularly to such of his fellow creatures, as, being entitled to freedom, are nevertheless, injuriously enslaved, or detained in bondage, by fraud or violence.
It was not his desire, however, to propagate li. berty by the violation of public justice or private rights; nor to countenance the operation of principles or tenets among any class or association of citizens, inconsistent with, or repugnant to, the civil compact, which should unite and bind the whole; but he looked
forward to that era of civilized humanity, when, in consistence with the constitution of the United States, it may be hoped, there shall not be a stave within their jurisdiction or territory! Nay, he looked more forward still, to the time when there shall not be a slave nor a savage, within the whole regions of America. He believed that this sublime æra had already dawned, and was approaching fasť to its meridian glory; for he believed in Divine Revelation, and the beautiful analogy of history, sacred as well as profane! He believed that human knowledge, however improved and exalted, stood in need of illumination from on high; and that the Divine Creator has not left mankind without such illumination, and evidence of himself, both internal and external, as may be necessary to their present and future happiness,
If I could not speak this from full and experimental knowledge of his character, I should have consia dered all the other parts of it, however splendid and beneficial to the world, as furnishing but scanty materials for the present eulogium.
“ An undevout philosopher is mad!" The man who can think so meanly of his own soul, as to believe that it was created to animate a piece of clay, for a few years, and then to be extinguished and exist no more, can never be a great man! But Franklin felt and believed himself immortal! His vast and capacious soul was ever stretching beyond this narrow sphere of things, and grasping an eternity! Hear himself, “ although dead, yet speaking" on this awfully delightful subject! Behold here, in his own hand-writing, the indubitable testimony!
In this Temple of God, and before this august assembly, I read the contents, and consecrate the precious relick to his memory! It is his letter of condolence to his niece, on the death of his Brother; and may be applied as a fit conclusion ofour present condolences on his own death
« We have lost a most dear and valuable relation (and friend)-But, 'tis the will of God that these mortal bodies be laid aside when the soul is to enter into real life. Existing here is scarce to be called life; it is rather an embryo-state, a preparative to living; and man is not completely born till he is 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 while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow creatures, 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 incumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and bene. volent that a way is provided, by which we may get rid of them-Deathisthat way: we ourselves prudently chuse a partial death, in some cases. 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 that quits the whole body, parts at once with all the pains, and possibilities of pains and pleasures, it was liable to, or capable of making him suffer.
“Our friend and we are invited abroad on a party of pleasure, that is to last forever. His chair was first reacly, 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 we know where to find him.”
Yes, thou dear departed friend and fellow-citizen! Thou, too, art gone before us—thy chair, thy celestial car, was first ready! We must soon follow, and we know where to find thee! May we seek to follow thee by lives of virtue and benevolence like thinethen shall we surely find thee and part with thee no more, forever! Let all thy fellow-citizens; let all thy compatriots; let every class of men with whom thou wert associated here on earth-in devising plans of government, in framing and executing good laws, in disseminating useful knowledge, in alleviating human misery, and in promoting the happiness of mankind let them consider thee as their guardian-genius, still present and presiding amongst them; and what they conceive thou wouldst advise to be done, let them advise and do likewise—and they shall not greatly deviate from the path of virtue and glory!