In 1776, although in his seventy-first year, he was called upon by Congress, to proceed to France, for the purpose of completing the negotiations begun by Silas Deane and, in 1777, he was appointed plenipotentiary to the French court. He had now not only created a host of political enemies in Great Britain, but was also attacked by certain philosophical opponents. Mr. Wilson, F.R.S., protested against pointed conductors, and performed several experiments, in order to prove the superiority of knobs. In consequence of Wilson's declarations, the pointed lightning conductors were taken down from the queen's palace, a circumstance which gave rise to the following epigram:
Whilst you, great George, for safety hunt,
And sharp conductors change for blunt,
The empire's out of joint:
Franklin a wiser course pursues:
And all your thunder fearless views,
By keeping to the point.'
A definitive treaty of peace having been signed between Great Britain and the United States, on the 3d of September 1783, Franklin requested to be recalled home. He arrived at Philadelphia in September, 1785, and was afterwards twice elected president of the assembly. His last public act was the signing of a memorial, on the 12th of February, 1789, for the abolition of slavery.
He had been, for many years, subject to attacks of the gout, to which, in 1782, was added a nephritic colic; and, about the same period, he suffered the first pains of a disease, the most distressing in the list of bodily infirmities. They were three things he had always dreaded; and he used to observe, that, in relation to this complication of disorders, he was something like the woman who had always entertained a great aversion to Presbyterians, parsons, and Irishmen, and at last married an Irish presbyterian parson.' These maladies confined him to his bed during the greater part of the last year of his life; but, notwithstanding the severe pains he labored under, his natural cheerfulness never forsook him. His mental faculties were unimpaired, and his memory continued unaffected to the last hour .of his existence. He was often obliged to take large doses of opium; but, in his moments of ease, he amused himself with reading, or in affectionate conversation with his family. He died on the 17th of April, 1790, and was buried on the 21st of April, in the cemetery of Christ's Church, Philadelphia. On the occasion of his funeral, every possible mark of public respect was shown to his memory: a general mourning, for one month, was ordered throughout America; and the national assembly of France paid a like honor in remembrance of his virtues.