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tree planted by his hand. The "Gazette of Amiens undertook to prove that his ancestors had been French.
With adulation so gross were mingled, however, some sneers of contempt. The author of a "History of a French Louse" loaded him with abuse, and described him as a vulgar fellow with wrinkled forehead and warty face, with teeth that might have been taken for cloves had they not been fast in a heavy jaw, and with the manners and gestures of a fop. Marquise de Crequi could not abide him because he ate eggs with pepper, salt, and butter in a goblet, and cut his melon with a knife. ""Tis the fashion nowadays," sneered a third, "to have an engraving of Franklin over one's mantelpiece, as it was formerly to have a jumpingjack." Capefigue long afterwards described him as one of the great charlatans of the eighteenth century.
But these sneers, if heard at all, passed unheeded. Franklin was an American, and whatever was American was right. One French sheet pronounced the revolution the most interesting of its day. Another printed translations of the circular letters of congress. A
1 For many facts relating to Franklin in France I am indebted to a most excellent book, "America and France," by ewis Rosenthal.
third went to the cost of getting news direct from Boston. All over France the press abounded with spicy "Anecdotes Américaines." American maps, books, almanacs were eagerly sought for. It was now that Suard translated Robertson's America, that Dubuisson put forth Abrégé de la Révolution de l'Amérique Anglaise," that school-children for the first time. read "Science du Bonhomme Richard."
Seizing the opportunity, Franklin had a hasty translation of the state constitutions made by M. Dubourg, and spread them over the country. The effect was astonishing. Liberty, constitutions, rights of man, began to be heard on every hand. Some found fault with the constitutions of New Jersey and North Carolina for excluding Roman Catholics from office. Some thought Massachusetts wrong in giving Harvard College power to bestow honorary degrees, which were undemocratic. A few blamed the states for servilely following the laws and usages of England. But the "Mercure de France" was loud in its praises of the constitutions, and the opinion of the "Mercure" was the opinion of France.
There was, however, one point to which enthusiasm for America did not go. Frenchmen were ready to burst into raptures over the Declaration of Independence, to laud the thir
teen constitutions as a "code that marks an epoch in the history of philosophy," to name Americans "the brave generous children of liberty," to call Franklin the Solon and Washington the Fabius of the age, and to hurry to their maps to put their fingers on Bunker Hill, on Trenton, and the line of retreat through New Jersey; they were eager to have their king send ships and troops and money to the "insurgents," -but they were not disposed to invest their private savings in American scrip.
To persuade them to part with their money, Franklin now wrote "A Comparison of Great Britain and America as to credit in 1777;" "A Catechism relative to the English National Debt;" and "A Dialogue between Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Saxony, and America,' had the pieces translated into four languages, and sent to the money centers of Europe. But they did not bring forth one groat. Nor can any one who will take the pains to read them be at a loss to know why. The style is excellent; the wit is good; the illustrations are apt; the facts are true. But there is not in them a single reason which could persuade a capitalist to loan money to the rebellious subjects of King George. It was true that industry, frugality, honesty, prompt payment of former loans, ought to do much towards settling
up the credit of a nation.
It was true that America had shown all these essentials. It was true that England owed one hundred and ninetyfive millions of pound sterling; that to count out so vast a sum in shilling-pieces would take a man one hundred and forty-eight years; that when counted the shillings would weigh sixtytwo millions of pounds, and fill thirty-one thousand carts. But it was also true that New York was in British hands, that the American Fabius had been badly beaten, that American independence was yet to be won, and that on independence hung the value of the American loan. Poor Richard had himself said, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," and the money-lenders took him at his word.
With these exceptions he wrote scarcely anything for months but letters and despatches, and of them he wrote as few as he could. He was an old man; he hated the details of business. Moreover, he loved his ease, and was fond of society, as he found the most brilliant society in France fond of him. It ceases therefore to be strange that he spent more time in the company of his companions than in the company of the suitors and sight-seers that came to Passy.
John Adams, who joined him a few months later, drew a sketch of him in a letter to Samuel
Adams, a sketch that is good enough and true enough to be given in the writer's words: "The other you know personally, and that he loves his ease, hates to offend, and seldom gives any opinion till obliged to do it. I know also, and it is necessary that you should be informed, that he is overwhelmed with a correspondence from all quarters, most of them upon trifling subjects and in a more trifling style, with unmeaning visits from multitudes of people, chiefly from the vanity of having it to say that they have seen him. There is another thing which I am obliged to mention. There are so many private families, ladies, and gentlemen that he visits so often, and they are so fond of him, that he cannot well avoid it, and so much intercourse with Academicians, that all these things together keep his mind in a constant state of dissipation." Business might drag, contractors might grow impatient, letters might accumulate, his papers might lie around in hideous disorder. But he must have his afternoon at Moulin Joly, or his evening chat with Morellet at Auteuil. Strangers who came to see him were amazed to behold papers of the greatest importance scattered in the most careless way over the table and the floor. A few went so far as to remonstrate. They reminded him that spies surrounded him on every hand,