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dishonored by the punishment of one of its members, was very absurd, it being on the contrary my opinion, " that a rogue hanged out of a family does it more honor than ten that live in it."
To The Duke De La Rochefoucault, Paris.
Reply to his congratulations—State of America—Constitution thereof—Death of the Duchess D'Anville—Introduction of Thomas Paine.
Philadelphia, April 15, 1787. 1 have been happy in receiving three very kind letters from my greatly respected and esteemed friend, since my being in America. They are dated November 50, 85, February 8, 86, and January 14, 87. In mine of this date to M. le Veillard, I have made the best apology I could for my being so bad a correspondent. I will not trouble you with a repetition of it, as I know you often see him. I will only confess my fault, and trust to your candor and goodness for my pardon.
Your friendly congratulations on my arrival and reception here were very obliging. The latter was, as you have heard, extremely flattering. The two parties in the assembly and council, the coustitutionists and anti-constitutionists joined in requesting my service as counsellor, and afterwards in electing me as president. Of seventy-four members in council and assembly who voted by ballot, there was in my first election but one negative beside my owu; and in the second, after a year's service, only my own. And I experience from all the principal people in the government every attention and assistance that can be desired towards making the task as little burthensome to me as possible. So I am going on very comfortably hitherto with my second year, and I do not at present see any likelihood of a change: but future events are always uncertain, being governed by providence or subject to chances; and popular favor is very precarious, being sometimes lost as well as gained by good actions, so I do not depend on a continuance of my present happiness, and therefore shall not be surprised if, before my time of service expires, something should happen to diminish it.
These states in general enjoy peace and plenty. There have been some disorders in the Massachusetts and Rhode island governments; those in the former are quelled for the present; those of the latter, being contentions for and against paper money, will probably continue some time. Maryland too is divided on the same subject, the assembly being for it, arid the senate against it. Each is now employed in endeavoring to gain the people to its party against the next elections, and 'tis probable the assembly may prevail. Paper money in moderate quantities has been found beneficial; when more than the occasions of commerce require, it depreciated and was mischievous; and the populace are apt to demand more than is necessary. In this state we have some, and it is useful, and I do not hear any clamor for more.
There seems to be but little thought at present in the particular states, of mending their particular constitutions; but the grand federal constitution is generally blamed as not having given sufficient powers to congress, the federal head. A convention is therefore appointed to revise that constitution, and propose a better. You will see by the enclosed paper that your friend is to be one in that business, though he doubts his malady may not permit his giving constant attendance. 1 am glad to see that you are named as one of a general assembly to be convened in France. I flatter myself that great good may accrue to that dear nation from the deliberations of such an assembly. I pray God to give it his blessing.
I sympathise with you and the family most sincerely, in the great loss sustained by the decease of that excellent woman.1 it must be indeed a heavy one. My best wishes attend those that remain, and that the happiness of your sweet domestic society may long continue without such another interruption.
I send herewith a volume of the transactions of our philosophical society for you, another for M. de Condorcet, and a third for the academy. The war had interrupted our attempts to improve ourselves in scientific matters, but we now begin to resume them.
The bearer of this is Mr. Paine, the author of a famous piece intitled Common Sense, published here with great effect on the minds of the people at the beginning of the revolution. He is an ingenious, honest man, and as such I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities. He carries with him the model of a bridge of a new construction, his own invention, concerning which I intended to have recommended him to. Mr. Peyronnet, but I hear he is no more You can easily procure Mr. Paine a sight of the models and drawings of the collection appertaining to the Ponts et Chamsees; they must afford him useful lights on the subject. We want a bridge over our river Skuylkill, and have no artist here regularly bred to that kind of architecture.
My grandsons are very sensible of the honor of your remembrance, and desire me to present their respects.
With the most sincere and perfect esteem and attachment, 1 am ever, my dear friend, your most obedieut and most hum* ble servant, B. Franklin.
'The Duchess D'Anville, mother of the Duke de la Rochefoucault. To The Marquis De Chastelleux
On receiving his Travels in the United States—Assembly of the notables.
Dear Sir, Philadelphia, April 17, 1787.
Your most pleasiug letter, accompanied by the invaluable present of your journal, and translation of Colonel Humphrey's poem, came to hand but lately, though dated in June last. I believe they have been in the West Indies. They have given me a great deal of pleasure in the perusal, as every thing of yours always did. The portrait you have made of our country and people is what in painting is called a handsome likeness, for which we are much obliged to you. We shall be the better for it if we endeavor to merit what you kindly say in our favor, and to correct what you justly censure. I am told the journal is translated into English, and printed in one of the states, I know not which, not having seen the translation.
The newspapers tell us, that you are about to have an assembly of notables, to consult on improvements of your government. It is somewhat singular, that we should be engaged in the same project here at the same time; but so it is; and a convention for the purpose of revising and amending our federal constitution is to meet at this place next month. I hope both assemblies will be blessed with success, and that their deliberations and counsels may promote the happiness of both nations.
"Francois Jean Marquis De Chastelleux, camp-marshal in the French army, and a member of the French academy, died at Paris October 24, 1788. He was of an illustrious family, to which he was an ornament by his military services and his literary works, of which the principal are, a Treatise on Public Happiness, 8vo. and Travels in North America in 1780,-1782,8vo.
In the state of Pennsylvania, government, notwithstanding our parties, goes on at present very smoothly, so that I have much less trouble in my station than was expected. Massachusetts has lately been disturbed by some disorderly people-; but they are now quelled. The rest of the states go on pretly well, except some dissensions in Rhode Island and Maryland respecting paper money. Mr. Paine whom you know, and who undertakes to deliver this letter to you, can give you full information of our affairs, and therefore I need not enlarge upon them. I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities. I have fulfilled all your commissions to the ladies here, who are much flattered by y«nr kind remembrance of them. My family join in every sentiment of esteem and respect with, my dear friend, yours most affectionately, B. Franklin.
To Messrs. The Arnes Chalut And Arnaud.
Dear Friends, Philadelphia, April 17, 1787
Your reflections on our situation compared with that of many nations of Europe, are very sensible and just. Let me add, that only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.
Our public affairs go on as well as can reasonably be expected after so great an overturning. We have had some disorders in different parts of the countty, but we arrange them as they arise, and are daily mending and improving; so that I have no doubt but all will come right in time.