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sensically :-at all times, and in every thing he undertook, the vigour of an understanding, at once original and practical, was distinctly perceivable.
But it must not be supposed that his writings are devoid of ornament or amusement. The latter especially abounds in almost all he ever composed; only nothing is sacrificed to them. On the contrary, they come most naturally into their places; and they uniformly help the purpose on hand, of which neither reader nor writer ever loses sight for an instant. Thus his style has all the vigour and even conciseness of Swift, without any of bis harshness. It is in no degree more flowery, yet both elegant and lively. The wit, or rather humour, which prevails in his works, varies with the subject. Sometimes he is bitter and sarcastic; oftener gay, and even droll; reminding us, in this respect, far more frequently of Addison than of Swift, as might naturally be expected from his admirable temper, or the happy turn of his imagination. When he rises into vehemence or severity, it is only when his country, or the rights of men are attacked-or when the sacred ties of humanity are violated by unfeeling or insane rulers. There is nothing more delightful than the constancy with which those amiable feelings, those sound principles, those truly profound views of human affairs, make their appearance at every opportunity, whether the immediate subject be speculative or practical-of a political, or of a more general description. It is refreshing to find such a mind as Franklin's, worthy of a place near to Newton and to Washington, filled with those pure and exalted sentiments of concern for the happiness of mankind, which the petty wits of our times amuse themselves with laughing at, and their more cunning and calculating employers seek by every means to discourage, sometimes by ridicule, sometimes by invective, as truly incompatible with all plans of misgovernment.
The benevolent cast of his disposition was far from confining itself to those sublimer views. From earnest wishes, and active vigorous exertions for the prosperity of the species, he descend, ed perpetually to acts of particular kindness, He seems to have felt an unwearied satisfaction in affording assistance, instruction, or amusement to all who stood in need of it. His letters are full of passages which bear testimony to this amiable solicitude for the happiness of his fellow creatures individually; it seems the chief cause of his writing in most cases; and if he ever deviates from bis habit of keeping out all superfluous matter, whatever be the subject, it is when he seems tempted to give some extra piece of knowledge or entertainment. So, if ever the serene and well natured cast of his temper appears ruffled by anger, or even soured for the moment, it is when some enormities have been committed which offend against the highest principles which he professes.
We have said little respecting his language, which is pure, and English. A few, and but a few foreign expressions may be traced, and these French, rather than American; as, for instance, influential. Indeed, we cannot reckon him more
as an American than a European. He lived so much among us, frequenting the best society, cultivating the habits, and conversant with the authors of the Old World, that the peculiarities of the New, neither as to language nor character, seem to have retained any impression upon him. Those peculiarities, moreover, have been exceedingly increased since the separation.
If the example of this eminent person may well teach respect for philanthropic sentiments to one set of scoffers, it may equally impress upon the minds of another class the important lesson, that veneration for religion is quite compatible with a sound practical understanding. Franklin was a man of a truly pious turn of mind. The great truths of natural theology were not only deeply engraven on his mind, but constantly present to his thoughts. As far as can be collected from his writings, he appears to have been a Christian of the Unitarian school; but, if his own faith had not gone so far, he at least would greatly have respected the religion of his country and its professors, and done every thing to encourage its propagation, as infinitely beneficial to mankind, even if doubts had existed in his own mind as to some of its fundamental doctrines.
* * * * * * * * effe We have already observed, that the characteristic of Franklin's understanding was his always choosing the shortest and easiest way to his object. A remarkable simplicity, a strict economy of the means employed, was always to
be seen in his operations. The parsimony with which he was, from his narrow circumstances in early life, obliged habitually to conduct himself, seems to have sharpened his ingenuity in all respects, and taught him how far industry and contrivance could go in sparing the use of adventitious helps. In him, more than in any other philosopher, we observe all the web of speculation to be wrought out of himself. He conducts bis inquiries with fewer appeals to detailed experiments, and more constant reliance upon known observable facts. When he has recourse to any experimental process, he contents himself with the smallest quantity of apparatus, and of the simplest kind. He often stops to simplify and reduce it; stepping aside from the course of the investigation, to show how the experiment may be made with the most ordinary implements—a very important advantage gained to the evidence on which the inference rests. His moral and political speculations are carried on with a similar frugality; he delights in homely illustrations; he chooses the plainest and most obvious topics ; and he throws away neither ideas nor words— employing only the reasons or remarks requisite to explain and to prove his positions—and the language necessary to carry these distinctly home. His benevolence was exerted with a similar regard to the economizing of his powers, without the least parsimony, but so judiciously as to make his limited means produce the greatest possible effect. And, in the management of public concerns, whether connected with the affairs of the political or literary world, the same rigid eco. nomy of resources was to be observed, and the same happy facility of converting triftes into engines of great power. * * * *
The peculiar sagacity of perception, and force of plain expression, which distinguished every effort of Franklin's mind, gave an especial value to his practical philosophy; and it derived an additional charm from the lively fancy with which he was also largely gifted. His fondness for matter of fact, and his constant habit of attentive observation, directed to every thing that passed around him, great and little, threw many of his remarks or arguments into the form of stories, insomuch that a cursory observer would think he was only amusing himself with those little narratives, while he was in reality proving or illustrating some important principle. The love of conciseness gave him a tendency to deliver apophthegms of a proverbial cast, in which he could at once condense his meaning, and make it easily remembered by the sportive and epi. grammatic turn of the proposition. His predilection for whatever was the result of actual experiment, inclined him to adopt, and, as it were, rely upon those received adages, in which mankind have embodied the lessons of practical wisdom taught them by experience and observation. When we recollect also the constant play of a good humoured imagination, which, through all his moral writings, enlivens without fatiguing, and enlighteps without ever giving pain, we cannot wonder at the extraordinary merit universally allowed to those productions. In truth, they are superior to almost any others,