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It has commanded this funeral solemnity, in order to perpetuate the gratitude and the grief of this third country, which, by the courage and activity with which it has profited of his lessons, has shown itself worthy of having him at once for an instructor and a model.
In selecting me for the interpreter of its wishes, it has declared, that it is less to the talents of an orator, than to the patriotism of a citizen, the zeal of a preacher of liberty, and the sensibility of a friend of men, that it hath confided this solemn function. In this point of view, I may speak with firm confidence; for I have the public opinion, and the testimony of my own conscience, to secund
wishes. Since nothing else is wanting than freedom, and sensibility, for that species of eloquence which this eulogium requires, I am satisfied; for I already possess them.
My voice shall extend to France, to America, to posterity. I am now to do justice to a great man, the founder of transatlantic freedom; I am to praise him in the name of the mother city of French liberty. I myself also am a man; I am a freeman; I possess the suffrages of my fellow-citizens: this is enough; my discourse shall be immortal.
The academies, the philosophical societies, the learned associations which have done themselves honor by inscribing the name of Franklin in their records, can best appreciate the debt due to his genius, for having extended the power of man over nature, and presented new and sublime ideas, in a style simple as truth, and pure as light.
It is not the naturalist and the philosopher that the orator of the Commons of Paris ought to describe; it is the man, who hath accelerated the progress of social order; it is the legislator, who hath prepared the liberty of nations!
Franklin, in his periodical works, which had prodigious circulation on the continent of America, laid the sacred foundations of social morality. He was no less inimitable in the developments of the same
morality, when applied to the duties of friendship, general charity, the employment of one's time, the happiness attendant upon good works, the necessary combination of private with public welfare, the propriety and necessity of industry; and to that happy state which puts us at ease with society and with ourselves. The proverbs of “ Old Henry,” and “ Poor Richard," are in the hands both of the learned and of the ignorant; they contain the most sublime morality, reduced to popular language and common compre: hension; and form the catechism of happiness for all mankind.
Franklin was too great a moralist, and too well acquainted with human affairs, not to perceive that women were the arbiters of manners. He strove to perfect their empire; and accordingly engaged them to adorn the sceptre of virtue with their graces. It is in their
power to excite courage; to overthrow vice, by means of their disdain; to kindle civism, and to light up in every heart the holy love of our country.
His daughter, who was opulent and honored with the public esteem, helped to manufacture and to make up the clothing for the army with her own hands; and spread abroad a noble emulation among the female citizens, who became eager to assist those by means of the needle and the spindle, who were serving the state with their swords and their guns.
With the charm. ever attendant upon true wisdom and the grace ever flowing from true sentiment, this grave philosopher knew how to converse with the other sex; to inspire them with a taste for domestic occupations; to hold out to them the prize attendant upon honor unaccompanied by reproach, and instil the duty of cultivating the first precepts of education, in order to teach them to their children; and thus to acquit the debt due to nature, and fulfil the hope of society. It must be acknowledged, that, in his own country, he addressed himself to minds capable of comprehending him.
Immortal females of America! I will tell it to the daughters of France, and they only are fit to applaud you! You have attained the utmost of what your sex is capable; you possess the beauty, the simplicity, the manners, at once natural and pure; the primitive graces of the golden age. It was among you that liberty was first to have its origin. But the empire of freedom, which is extended to France, is about to carry your manners along with it, and produce a re-'; volution in morals as well as in politics.
Already our female citizens, (for they have lately become such) are not any longer occupied with those frivolous ornaments, and vain pleasures, which were nothing more than the amusements of slavery; they have awakened the love of liberty in the bosoms of fathers, of brothers, and of husbands; they have encouraged them to make the most generous sacrifices; their delicate hands have removed the earth, dragged it along, and helped to elevate the immense amphi. theatre of the grand confederation. It is no longer the love of voluptuous softness that attracts their regard; it is the sacred fire of patriotism.
The laws which are to reform education, and with it the national manners, are already prepared; they will advance, they will fortify the cause of liberty by means of their happy influence, and become the second saviors of their country!
Franklin did not omit any of the means of being useful to men, or serviceable to society. He spoke to all conditions, to both sexes, to every age. This amiable moralist descended, in his writings to the most artless details; to the most ingenuous familiarities; to the first ideas of a rural, a commercial, and civil life; to the dialogues of old men and children; full at once of all the verdure and all the maturity of wisdom. In short, the prudent lessons arising from the exposition of those obscure, happy, easy virtues, which form so many links in the chain of a good man’s life, derived immense weight from that repu
tation for genius which he had acquired, by being one of the first naturalists and greatest philosophers in the universe.
At one and the same time he governed nature in the heavens and in the hearts of men. Amidst the tempests of the atmosphere, he directed the thunder; amidst the storms of society, he directed the passions. Think, gentlemen, with what attentive docility, with what religious respect, one must hear the voice of a simple man who preached up human happiness, when it was recollected that it was the powerful voice of the same man who regulated the lightning.
He electrified the consciences, in order to extract the destructive fire of vice, exactly in the same manner as he electrified the heavens, in order peaceably to invite from them the terrible fire of the elements.
Venerable old man! august philosopher! legislator of the felicity of thy country, prophet of the fraternity of the human race, what ecstatic happiness embellished the end of thy career! From thy fortunate asylum, and in the midst of thy brothers who enjoyed in tranquillity the fruit of thy virtues, and the success of thy genius, thou hast sung songs of deli
The last looks, which thou didst cast around thee, beheld America happy; France on the other side of the ocean, free, and a sure indication of the approaching freedom and happiness of the world.
The United States, looking upon themselves as thy children, have bewailed the death of the father of their republic. France, thy family by adoption, has honored thee as the founder of her laws; and the human race has revered thee as the universal patriarch who has formed the alliance of nature with society, Thy remembrance belongs to all ages; thy memory to all nations; thy glory to eternity!
EPILOGUE TO ADDISON'S CATO.
OU see mankind the same in every age:
Heroic fortitude, tyrannic rage, Boundless ambition, patriotic truth, And hoary treason, and untainted youth, Have deeply mark'd all periods and all climes, The noblest virtues, and the blackest crimes. Did Cesar, drunk with power, and madly brave, Insatiate burn, his country to enslave? Did he for this, lead forth a servile host To spill the choicest blood that Rome could boast! The British Cesar too hath done the same, And doom'd this age to everlasting fame. Columbia's crimson'd fields still smoke with goré; Her bravest heroes cover all the shore: The flower of Britain, in full martial bloom, In this sad war, sent headlong to the tomb. Did Rome's brave senate nobly dare t'oppose The mighty torrent, stand confess'd their foes, And boldly arm the virtuous few, and dare The desp'rate horrors of unequal war? Our senate too the same bold deed have done, And for a Cato, arm'da Washington; A chief, in all the ways of battle skill'd, Great in the council, mighty in the field. His martial arm, and steady soul alone, Have made thy legions shake, thy navy groan, And thy proud empire totter to the throne. O, what thou art, may'st thou forever be, And death the lot of any chief but thee! We've had our Decius too; and Howe could say, Health, pardon, peace, George sends America; Yet brought destruction for the olive wreath; For health, contagion, and for pardon, death. Rise! then, my countrymen, for fight prepare; Gird on your swords, and fearless rush to war: