On July 28, 1785, after a brief visit in England, Franklin’s ship turned her bow west and he began the long sea journey back to the America. He had been in France nine years, and was 78 years old. As for his time in France, he wrote that he would not “forget Paris, and the nine years’ happiness I enjoyed there in the sweet society of a people whose conversation is instructive, whose manners are highly pleasing, and who, above all the nations of the world, have, in the greatest perfection, the art of making themselves beloved of strangers, and now, even in my sleep, I find that the scenes of all my pleasant dreams are laid in that city or in its neighbourhood.”175
During the voyage Franklin spent most of his time in his cabin, writing, and one might have thought that he was preoccupied with his memoirs of a country seen in its brilliant decay, or reminiscences of the great men and fascinating women he had met in France. But when he emerged from his labors he was bearing a paper entitled The Cause and Cure of Smoky Chimneys, in which he anticipates the modern system of ventilation and house heating.176
On the morning of September 15, 1785, pressed forward by a gentle wind, Franklin’s ship sailed above Gloucester Point and cast its anchor in Philadelphia harbor.177 When Franklin stepped ashore it was at the Market Street wharf where, some sixty years before, he had first surveyed the quaint little town. Throngs waited for a sight of him, for many of those individuals who were now adults were but children when he departed for France, they greeted him with boisterous hurrahs, cannonades and cheers that follow him to his door.178 But
175. Russell 310-311.
176. Slosson 74; Russell 311.
177. Bigelow 331.
178. Russell 312.