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To Dr. Ingenhausz.
On the stone—Invitation to come to Passy, and accompany him to America—Idle stories respecting that country'— The Emperor of Germany.
Passy, April 29,1785. I thank you much for the postscript respecting my disorder, the stone. I have taken heretofore, and am How agaiu taking the remedy you mention, which is called Blackrie's Solvent. It is the soap lie, with lime water, and I believe it may have some effect in diminishing the symptoms, and preventing the growth of the stone, which is all 1 expect from it. It does not hurt my appetite: I sleep well, and enjoy my friends in cheerful conversation as usual. But as I cannot use much exercise, I eat more sparingly than formerly, and I drink no wine.
I admire that you should be so timid in asking leave of your good imperial master, to make a journey for visiting a friend. I am persuaded you would succeed, and I hope the proposition I have repeated to you in this letter will assist your courage, and enable you to ask and obtain. If you t ome hither soon, you may, when present, get your book finished, and be ready to proceed with me to America. While writing this, 1 have received from congress my leave to return; and 1 believe I shall be ready to embark by the middle of July at farthest. I shall now be free from politics - for the rest of my life. Welcome again, my dear philosophical amusements!
I see by a full page of your letter, you have been possessed with strange ideas of America; that there is no justice to be obtained there, no recovery of debts, projects of insurrection to overturn the present government, &c. &c.; that a Virginia colonel, nephew of the governor, had cheated a stranger of 100,000 livres, and that somebody was imprisoned for only speaking of it, and the like very improbable stories; they are all fictions or misrepresentations. If they were truths, all strangers would avoid such a country, and foreign merchants would as soon carry their goods to sell in Newgate as America. Think a little on the sums England has spent to preserve a monopoly of the trade of that people, with whom they had long been acquainted, and of the desire all Europe is now manifesting to obtain a share of that trade. Our ports are full of their ships, their merchants buying and selling in our streets continually, and returning with our products. Would this happen? Could such commerce be continued with us, if we were such a collection of scoundrels and villains as we have been represented to you? And insurrections against our rulers are not only unlikely, as the rulers are the choice of the people, but unnecessary; as, if not liked, they may be changed annually by the new elections. I own you have cause, great cause, to complain of *****, but you are wrong to condemn a whole country by a single sample. I have seen many countries, and I do not know a country in the world in which justice is so well administered, where protection and favor have so little power to impede its operations, and where debts are recovered with so much facility. If I thought it such a country as it has been painted to you, I should certainly never return to it. The truth, I believe, is, that more goods have been carried thither from all parts of Europe, than the consumption of the country requires, and it is natural that some of the adventurers are willing to discourage others from following them, lest the prices should still be kept down by the arrival of fresh cargoes; and it is not unlikely that some negligent or unfaithful factors sent thither, may have given such accounts to excuse their not making remittances. And the Inglish magnify all this, and spread it abroad in their papers, to dissuade foreigners from attempting to interfere with them in their commerce with us.
Your account of the emperor's condescending conversation with you concerning me, is pleasing. I respect very much the character of that monarch, and think, that if I were one of his subjects, he would find me a good one. I am glad that his difference with your country is likely to be accommodated without bloodshed. The Courier de l'Europe, and some other papers, printed a letter on that difference, which they ascribed to me. fie assured, my friend, that I never wrote it, nor was ever presumptuous enough to meddle with an affair so much out of my way. Yours, &c.
To George Wheatley, Escj.j
Dear Old Friend, Passy, May 19,1785.
I received the very good letter you sent me by my grandson, together with your resemblance, which is placed in my chamber, and gives me great pleasure. There is no trade, they say, without returns, and therefore I am punctual in making those you have ordered.
1 intended this should have been a long epistle, but I am interrupted, and can only add, that I am ever yours most affectionately, B. Franklin.
To Jonathan Williams, Esq. (extract.) Passy, May 19, 1785.
"The conversations you mention respecting America are suitable. Those people speak what they wish; but she was certainly never in a more happy situation. They are angry with us, and speak all manner of evil of us; but we florish notwithstanding. They put me in mind' of a violent bigh-church factor, resident in Boston, when I was a boy. He had bought upon speculation a Connecticut cargo of onions, which he flattered himself he might sell again to great profit; but the price fell, and they lay upon hand. He was heartily vexed with his bargain, especially when he observed they began to grow in the store he had filled with them. He showed them one day to a friend. "Here they are," said he, "and they are growing too! I damn them every day; but I think they are like the Presbyterians; the more I curse them, the more they grow." Yours,
To George Wheatley, Esg.
Moral and philosophical reflections—Foundling Hospital at Paris—Office for nurses—The Philadelphia Bank— The Cincinnati—Constitution of the United States— Anecdote of three Greenlanders—Description of double spectacles, 3fc.
Dear Old Friend, Passy, May 23, 1785v
I sent you a few lines the other day, with my medallion, when I should have written more, but was prevented by the coming in of a bavard, who worried me till evening. I bore with him, and now you are to bear with me; for I shall probably bavarder in answering your letter.
I am not acquainted with the saying of Alphonsus, which you allude to as a sanctification of your rigidity in refusing to allow me the plea of old age as an excuse for my want of exactness in correspondence. What was that seyiag? You do not, it seems, feel any occasion for such an excuse, though you are, as you say, rising seventy-five. But I am rising (perhaps more properly falling) eighty, and I leave the excuse with you until you arrive at that age; perhaps you may then be more sensible of its validity, and see fit to use it for yourself.
1 must agree with you that the gout is bad) and that the stone is worse. I am happy in not having them both together, and I join in your prayer, that you may live till you die without either. But I doubt the author of the epitaph you send me was a little mistaken, when he, speaking of the world, says, that
he ne'er cared a pin
What they said, or may say, of the mortal within.
It is so natural to wish to be well spoken of, whether alive or dead, that I imagine he could not be quite exempt from that desire; and that at least he wished to be thought a wit, or he would not have given himself the trouble of writing so good an epitaph to leave behind him. Was it not as worthy of his care that the world should say he was an honest and a good man? I like better the concluding sentiment in the old song called the Old Man's Wish, wherein, after wishing for a warm house in a country town, an easy horse, some good authors, ingenious and cheerful companions, a pudding on Sundays, with stout ale, and a bottle of Burgundy, &c. Set. in separate stanzas, each ending with this burthen,
May I govtrn my passions with absolute sway,
With a courage undaunted may I face my last day;
For he governed his passions, ^c.
But what signifies our wishing? Things happen, after all, as they will happen. I have sung that wishing song a thou