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for the most part, in tasks of literary drudgery undertaken for subsistence; and deserves laudation instead of censure, for, having respected the divine art, he loved, too much to degrade it into the service of hackneyed necessity. He was in fact a singularly industrious man; in his youth, an assiduous student while performing the duties of tutor, clerk, and compiler; and, in manhood and age, always engaged upon some bookseller's undertaking, now making an abridgment and now a translation; at one time the editor of a magazine, and, at another, of a collection of the English poets; now writing notes for a classic, and now paragraphs for a journal, lectures for the Glasgow University, state papers for Lord Minto, the biography of Mrs. Siddons or Petrarch, letters from Algiers, — whatever, in short, offered in the way of literary work, that would give him bread. His correspondence lets us into the secret of his unostentatious and patient labor, his constant projects, the suggestions of others, and the encroachments of ungenial employment upon his sensitive organization.
One cannot but honor the kindly and philosophic manner in which he speaks of his disappointments in these familiar letters; and rejoice to perceive that the feelings which inspired his memorable lines consoled him under all reverses, so that the moment he was in contact with the attractions of nature, friendship, and domestic peace, joy revived within him. The genuineness of his poetic impulse is thus indicated by the tenor of his life. Instead of lazily reposing on laurels early won, he was eminently true to the faith and independence which make beautiful the dreams of his youth, — devoted to his kindred and friends with self-denying generosity, sympathizing, to the last, in the cause of freedom, cognizant, everywhere and always, of the intrinsic worth of the primal sentiments whose beauty he so fondly sung, and never forgetful of the duty and the privileges of amity, courage, and fame. Such is the evidence of the unstudied epistles collected by Dr. Beattie, the spontaneous record of his occupations, opinions, and feelings, throughout life. They are consistent, and worthy both of the man and the poet. They exhibit a career divided between books and journeys — each nourishing his mind; an episode of domestic happiness which realizes all that good sense would advocate and romance.glorify, - intervals of great physical
suffering, melancholy bereavements, and cheerless toil, ever and anon redeemed by delightful social intercourse, deserved honors, and felicitous moods. The death of his wife, the idiocy of his only son, the failure of his own health, his homeless life in London, and his death in forlorn exile, — these, and some of the natural consequences of such vicissitudes, throw a gloom over portions of his chequered life; but through them and beyond, now that they are passed, the poet rises benignly in the integrity of his sentiments and the beauty of his art.
THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHER.
The pervading trait of Franklin's character was allegiance to the practical. Few devotees of knowledge have so consistently manifested this instinct, the more remarkable because united to speculative tendencies which quickened his intelligence and occupied his leisure to the very close of his existence. For the intangible aims of the metaphysician, the vagaries of the imaginative, the “airy bubble reputation,” he exhibited no concern; but the application of truth to the facts of nature and of life, the discovery of material laws and their conversion to human welfare, the actual influence of morals, economy, politics, and education, upon civil society and individual development, were problems upon which he never failed to think, read, talk, write, and experiment. A striking evidence of this was his youthful disdain of the muses (although he wrote quite a respectable ballad at the age of twelve), because "verse-makers generally make beggars ;” and his preference, in naturity, for that circle abroad where the "understanding" found such exclusive recognition and utterance: “I believe Scotland," he wrote to Lord Kaimes, " would be the country I should choose to spend my days in.” Accordingly the history of the man is that of some of the most pregnant of great external interests; and his entire devotion to them, to the exclusion of more ideal, vague, and purely intellectual subjects, arose chiefly from his peculiar mental organization, and also, in no small degree, from the transition period in government, society, and popular intelligence, during which he lived. He was so indifferent to literary fame that the indefatigable editor * of his works informs us that some of his most characteristic writings were never intended for the press, very few were published under his own supervision, and nearly all came forth anonymously. His object, like Swift's, was immediate effect. In youth he studied the art of perspicuous expression in order to act with facility upon the minds of others; but it was in order to disseminate useful knowledge, to enlarge the boundaries of science, to advocate political reform, and direct into expedient channels the enterprise, speculation, and party zeal of his day, rather than to build himself a monument in the library, or a shrine in household lore. What he achieved as a writer was incidental, not premeditated; for he valued the pen as he did time, money, and experience, for its direct tendency to diffuse knowledge, comfort, utility, and settled principles of inference and action. The most deliberate of bis writings, that is, the one which seems inspired least by a definite purpose and most by the anticipated pleasure of the undertaking, is his famous autobiography; and even in this it is evident that the luxury of reminiscences was in abeyance to the desire of imparting, and especially to the young, the benefit of his own experience. For many years, indeed, the pen of Franklin was too variously employed, and dedicated too constantly to the advancement of immediate national interests, to admit of any well-considered, elaborate, and finished work. What his written and spoken word, however, thus lost in permanent value, it gained in vigor and in direct utility. If we glance at the subjects and occasions of his tracts, letters, reports, paragraphs, and essays, we shall find they embrace the whole circle of questions important to his country, and his age, - morals, the economy of life, commerce, finance, history, and politics. We find in them the germs of ideas now triumphant; of principles, through his advocacy, in no small degree, since embodied in action, and brought to grand practical results. A parable wins men to toleration; a maxim guides them to frugality; a comprehensive argument initiates the plan of that federal union which has proved the key-stone of our national prosperity; the farmer or the mariner, consulting Poor Richard's Almanac to learn the fluctuation of weather or tide, finds, beside these chronicles of Nature's mysteries, advice which puts him unconsciously on the track of provident habits, temperance, and contentment; the patriot in the field is cheered by the wisdom of the judge in council; the shipwright, the horticulturalist, the printer, the lowly aspirant for self-improvement, as well as the statesman and the philosopher, find wisdom and encouragement from his "words spoken in season;" in the prudent household his name is associated with the invaluable heating-apparatus that saves their fuel and increases the genial warmth of the evening fireside; in the disconsolate crises of war his foreign diplomacy and judicious hints warm the heart of valor with the prescience of success; in the land of his country's enemies, his clear statement of grievances and his intrepid reproof of injustice conciliate the nobler spirits there, and vindicate the leaders at home; the encroachments of savage tribes are checked, the policy of colonial rule softened, the comforts of domestic life enhanced, the resources of the mind elicited, and, in a word, the basis of national prosperity laid on the eternal foundation of popular enlightenment, self-reliance, and foresight, by the oracles of the American philosopher, thus casually uttered and incidentally proclaimed.
But while official duty and patriotism gave Franklin occasion to propagate and actualize so many useful and requisite principles, - to become the thinker and advocate, the incarnated common-sense of his country and his time, there was another sphere of mental activity, another range of sagacious enterprise, in which he expatiated with kindred success. This was the domain of science. When he was not required to apply reflection to conduct, and to deal with a great climax in the political world, he turned with alacrity to that of natural philosophy. This was his congenial element. “I have got my niche,” he writes, exultingly, “after having been kept out of it for twenty-four years by foreign appointments." He was, by instinct, a philosopher ; one whom Bacon would have hailed as a disciple, and to whom Sir Kenelm Digby would have delighted to unfold the merits of the “sympathetic powder," Sir Thomas Browne to lament “vulgar