Mr. Franklin: A Selection from His Personal Letters

By Leonard W. Labaree; Benjamin Franklin et al. | Go to book overview
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life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America an hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, the being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But since, in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection, I must, for the present, content myself with the treat, which you are so kind as to promise me, of the resurrection of a fowl or a turkey cock. I am, etc.

B. Franklin


UNTIL he was almost seventy years old Franklin was a loyal subject of the King and a firm believer in the mutual benefits both mother country and American colonies derived from the imperial union. During the last years of his residence in England as colonial agent he recognized with increasing clarity that the policies of extremists on both sides were undermining that union. In every possible way he could he urged upon the British a more enlightened course of action, but in vain. "Passion governs," he wrote an American friend, "and she never governs wisely." As to himself, "Anxiety begins to disturb my rest, and whatever robs an old Man of his Sleep, soon demolishes him." But he was, indeed, far from demolished. Upon reaching Philadelphia early in May 1775 he was greeted with the news of Lexington and Concord. He was old enough to be able to claim the right to retire, but there was no question in his mind of the course he should pursue. He plunged with characteristic energy into public business. Two months later he found time to write a long letter to his old friend Bishop Shipley. From the position he had now taken Franklin never wavered through more than


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