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1765. DR. FRANKLTN. 97
sagacious, and wary; neither above business nor yet below it; never turned aside from it by flights of fancy nor yet by bursts of passion. Among the good qualities which we may with just cause ascribe to Franklin we cannot number any firm reliance on the truths of Revelation. Only five weeks before his death we find him express a cold approbation of the “system of morals” bequeathed to us by “Jesus of Nazareth.” In his Memoirs he declares that he always believed in the existence of a Deity and a future state of rewards and punishments, but he adds that although he continued to adhere to his first — the Presbyterian — sect, some of its dogmas appeared to him unintelligible, and others doubtful. “I early absented “myself from the public assemblies of the sect; and I seldom “attended any public worship; Sunday being my studying “day.” Such being Franklin's own practice, and such his own description of it as to public worship, it seems worthy of note that it was he who in the American Convention brought forward a motion for daily prayers. “I have lived, Sir,” said he, “a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing “proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of “men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without “his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without “his aid” — But in spite of this most earnest appeal the motion was rejected, since, as we are told, “the Convention, “except three or four persons, thought prayers unneces“sary.”%% The accomplished American biographer, by whom this last incident is recorded, expresses in the same passage deep regret that Dr. Franklin did not bestow more attention than he seems to have done on the evidences of Christianity. And indeed there are several indications that he was less well acquainted with points of Christian faith and discipline than with almost any other subject. One of these indications, and * Memoirs, ch. vi.
** Life by Mr. Jared Sparks, p. 514, Mahon, History, W. 7
surely a most strange one, occurs in the Private Diary which he kept at Passy during part of 1784. It appears that two young American gentlemen had come over to London with the view of entering Holy Orders, but that the Archbishop of Canterbury refused them Ordination unless they would take the Oath of Allegiance. In this dilemma Franklin actually applied to the Pope's Nuncio at Paris to ascertain whether a Roman Catholic Bishop in America might not perform the ceremony for them as Protestants, and he transcribes as remarkable the natural reply: “The Nuncio says the thing is “impossible unless the gentlemen become Roman Catho“lics.” + The religious scepticism or indifference of Franklin, which his present biographers justly lament, was, however, in his own day, a recommendation and a merit with the French philosophists. On the other hand, his hostility to England endeared him to the French politicians. On both these grounds, as well as from his high scientific attainments, he found himself during his residence of several years at Paris in no common measure courted, flattered, and caressed. A fine verse, one of the noblest which modern Latinity can boast, describes him as having plucked the lightning from Heaven and the sceptre from tyrants. ** Descending from such lofty flights to the regions of sober reality, we may observe that Franklin in his later years, and especially in France, adopted to a great extent the Quaker garb. He laid aside the huge wig which he used to wear in England, and allowed his long white hair to flow down nearly to his shoulders. His clothes were of the plainest cut and of the dunnest colour. The Parisians of that period, ever swayed by external impressions, were greatly struck with,
* Franklin's Private Journal, July 16. and 17. 1784. * * “Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis.” It is stated in Mr. Sparks's Life of Franklin, that this line “was first ap“plied to him by Turgot.” (p. 421, note.) The original hint, however, was probably derived from Manilius (Astron. lib. i. vers. 104.), where the poet says of Epicurus: “Eripuitgue Jovi fulmen, viresque tonandi.”
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and in their writings, frequently refer to, his venerable aspect, and they compared him by turns to all the sages of antiquity. It is also probable that his Quaker-like attire may have tended to invest him in their estimation with the other attributes which they assigned to the ideal Quaker character, as simplicity, guilelessness, inviolable truth.
Dr. Franklin married early, and had several children, but one only of his sons, born out of wedlock, grew up to man's estate. That son afterwards became Governor of New Jersey for the King, and continued steady throughout the war to the Royal cause. He died in London at the close of 1813. in the receipt of a pension from the British Government. His son, William Temple Franklin, expired without issue, but the posterity of Dr. Franklin continues, and is numerous, in the female line.
At nearly the same period that the Stamp Act was passing into law, the monarch who had sanctioned it became dangerously ill. The immediate cause was an humour which had appeared on his face, and which being, as is thought, unskilfully repelled, settled on his breast. His illness was said to be cough and fever, and at first probably was so. But it is certain that there were also symptoms of that mental malady which, unhappily recurring on three subsequent occasions, clouded His Majesty's career. * At the time, however, this fact was not known to the public at large, nor even in any degree suspected or surmised, but was confined to the nearest and most intimate circle in attendance on the Royal Person.
No sooner had the King recovered than he gave a token of his usual good sense and right feeling by himself propounding to his Ministers the question of a Regency. His eldest son, the heir apparent, was not yet fully three years of age. His own illness might return, and might be fatal. Parliament ought not to postpone legislation until the necessity for it drew nigh, nor yet to rely implicitly upon the prospect of early reports of any Royal illness in the Gazettes or Court Circulars, of which it has been said that they never contain substantially more than three announcements touching the health of Kings: — His Majesty is a little indisposed. — His Majesty is better. — His Majesty is dead.
There is not the smallest reason to suppose that the King had in view any other Regent than the Queen. But his desire was that he might be authorized to name from time to time by an instrument in writing any person that he pleased. 1765. THE REGENCY BILL. 101
* See the statement, alleging “the best authority,” and ascribed to Mr. Croker (Quarterly Review, No. cxxxi. p. 240.), and the note of Mr. Adolphus in the recent, but not in the first, edition of his History (vol. i. p. 175.). * Tristram Shandy, vol. iii. p. 228. ed. 1775. He quotes a saying of
Mr. Grenville, according to his own statement in his Private Diary, much disapproved of this discretionary power; nevertheless he agreed to forward it to the utmost of his strength in the House of Commons. Thus at a meeting with his principal colleagues it was agreed to propose to Parliament that the power of appointment should be vested in the King, but limited to “either the Queen or any other person of the “Royal Family usually residing in Great Britain.” Such accordingly were the words in which on the 24th of April the King laid the suggestion before both Houses in a Speech from the Throne. Both Houses in reply sent him. Addresses, full of fervent loyalty, -- and perhaps something more than loyalty. “We contemplate with admiration,” say the Commons, “that magnanimity which enables Your Majesty “to look forward with a cool composure of thought to an “event which, whenever it shall please God to permit it, “must overwhelm your loyal subjects with the bitterest dis“traction of grief!” When, however, the Bill founded on the very words of the Royal recommendation was brought into the House of Lords, a doubt arose as to what was meant by the “Royal “Family.” It then appeared that the Ministers with most unpardonable negligence had failed to clear up this point among themselves. It was found that the Lord Chancellor and the Duke of Bedford differed in opinion as to whether that term did or did not include the Princess Dowager of Wales. The Duke, on being asked the question in the House of Lords, replied that he looked upon the Royal Family to be only those in the order of succession one after another, — a definition in which he was zealously supported by his colleague, Halifax. This strange technical quibble —to declare that the King's parent did not belong to the King's family — can only be matched from a work of fiction of the same period, Tristram Shandy, where the bantering author lays it down as the opinion of the gravest schoolmen that the mother is not of kin to her own child. *