« ZurückWeiter »
vessels were given to carry them in. But you have not returned us a man in exchange. If we had sold your people to the Moors at Sallee, as you have many of ours to the African and East India Companies, could you have complained?
In revising what I have written, I found too much warmth in it, and was about to strike out some parts. Yet I let them go, as they will afford you this one reflection; "If a man naturally cool, and rendered still cooler by old age, is so warmed by our treatment of his country, how much must those people in general be exasperated against us? And why are we making inveterate enemies by our barbarity, not only of the present inhabitants of a great country, but of their infinitely more numerous posterity; who will in future ages detest the name of Englishman, as much as the children in Holland now do those of Mva and Spaniard." This will certainly happen, unless your conduct is speedily changed, and the national resentment falls, where it ought to fall heavily, on your ministry, or perhaps rather on the King, whose will they only execute.
With the greatest esteem and affection, and best wishes for your prosperity, I have the honor to be, dear Sir, &c. B. Franklin.
TO A FRIEND.*
Controversy about Pointed Conductors.
Passy, 14 October, 1777.
Sir, I am much obliged by your communication of the letter from England. I am of your opinion, that it is
• A controversy had lately been raised among the philosophers in England, respecting pointed and blunt lightning conductors. Mr. Wilson
not proper for publication here. Our friend's expressions concerning Mr. Wilson, will be thought too angry to be made use of by one philosopher when speaking of another, and on a philosophical question. He seems as much heated about this one point, as the Jansenists and Molinists were about the five. As to my writing any thing on the subject, which you seem to desire, I think it not necessary, especially as I have nothing to add to what I have already said upon it in a paper read to the committee,* who ordered the conductors at Purfleet; which paper is printed in the last French edition of my writings.
I have never entered into any controversy in defence of my philosophical opinions; I leave them to take their chance in the world. If they are right, truth and experience will support them; if wrong, they ought to be refuted and rejected. Disputes are apt to sour one's temper, and disturb one's quiet. I have no private interest in the reception of my inventions by the world, having never made, nor proposed to make, the least profit by any of them. The King's changing his pointed conductors for blunt ones is, therefore, a matter of small importance to me. If I had a wish about it, it would be that he had rejected them altogether as ineffectual. For it is only since he thought himself and family safe from the thunder of Heaven, that he dared to use his own thunder in destroying his innocent subjects. I am, Sir, yours, &c.
was the champion for blunt conductors, in opposition to the theory of Dr. Franklin. Pointed conductors had been erected at the Queen's palace, but by the advice of Mr. Wilson they were taken down, and blunt ones substituted in their place. Dr. Ingenhousz, who was then in England, took up the subject with considerable warmth against Mr. Wilson, and wrote a letter to a gentleman in Paris, which he desired might be shown to Dr. Franklin. The above letter was written to that gentleman, who, as requested, had communicated the one he received from Dr. Ingenhousz.
* Report on Lightning Conductors for the Powder Magazines at Purfleet, drawn up by Dr. Franklin, August 21, 1772. See Vol. V. p. 430
TO JAMES LOVELL.*
Numerous and vexatious Applications of foreign Officers for Appointments in the American Service.
Paris, 21 December, 1777.
I see in a vote of Congress shown to me by Captai n Franval, that Mr. Deane is disowned in some of his agreements with officers. I, who am upon the spot, and know the infinite difficulty of resisting the powerful solicitations of great men, who if disobliged might have it in their power to obstruct the supplies he was then obtaining, do not wonder, that, being then a stranger to the people, and unacquainted with the language, he was at first prevailed on to make some such agreements, when all were recommended, as they always are, as officiers experimentes, braves comme lews epees, pleins de courage, de talents, et de zele pour notre cause, &c. &c, in short, mere Cesars, each of whom would have been an invaluable acquisition to America. You can have no conception how we are still besieged and worried on this head, our time cut to pieces by personal applications, besides those contained in dozens of letters by every post, which are so generally refused, that scarce one in a hundred obtains from us a simple recommendation to civilities.
I hope, therefore, that favorable allowance will be made to my worthy colleague on account of his situation at the time, as he has long since corrected that mistake, and daily approves himself to my certain knowledge an able, faithful, active, and extremely useful servant of the public; a testimony I think it my duty to take this occasion of giving to his merit, unasked, as, considering my great age, I may probably not live to give it personally in Congress, and I perceive he has enemies.
* Mr. Lovell was a member of Congress from Massachusetts, and for several years a member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, in which capacity he corresponded with the American commissioners and ministers in Europe.
You will see the general news in the papers in particular; I can only say at present, that our affairs go well here; and that I am with much respect, Sir, &c. B. Franklin.
TO RALPH IZARD.
Passy, 29 January, 1778
Dear Sir, I received yours late last evening. Present circumstances, which I will explain to you when I have the honor of seeing you, prevent my giving it a full answer now. The reasons you offer had before been all under consideration. But I must submit to remain some days under the opinion you appear to have formed, not only of my poor understanding in the general interests of America, but of my defects in sincerity, politeness, and attention to your instructions. These offences, I flatter myself, admit of fair excuses, or rather will be found not to have existed. You mention, that you feel yourself hurt. Permit me to offer you a maxim, which has through life been of use to me, and may be so to you, in preventing such imaginary hurts. It is, "always to suppose one's friends may be right, till one finds them wrong, rather than to suppose them wrong till one finds them right." You have
heard and imagined all that can be said or supposed on one side of the question, but not on the other. I am nevertheless, with sincere esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient and humble servant,
TO JAMES HUTTOir.t
On the Means for producing a Reconciliation between
Passy, 1 February, 1778.
My Dear Old Friend, You desired, that if I had no proposition to make, I would at least give my advice. I think it is Ariosto who says, that all things lost on earth are to be found in the moon; on which somebody remarked, that there must be a great deal of good advice in the moon. If so, there is a good deal of mine, formerly given and lost in this business. I will . however, at your request give a little more, but without the least expectation that it will be followed; for none but God can at the
• Mr. Izard was appointed by Congress a Commissioner to the court of Tuscany. The state of affairs in Europe was such, however, that he did not go to Florence, but remained in Paris during the whole period of his appointment He was there while the treaty of alliance was in the progress of negotiation, and he considered himself improperly overlooked in not being consulted as to certain parts of the treaty by the other Commissioners. He wrote a complaining letter on the subject to Dr. Franklin, to which the above is an answer. His letter may be seen in the Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. II. p. 372. All the particulars respecting the treaty, of an official character, may be found in the first and second volumes of the same work.
f James Hutton was a son of Dr. Hutton, (who in the early part of his life had been a bookseller,) and was for many years secretary to the society of Moravians. He died April 25th, 1795, in his eightieth year, at Oxstead Cottage, Surrey; and was buried in the Moravian cemetery at Chelsea. He was a well known character, and very generally esteemed.