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To M. Le Marquis De La Fayette.
Dear Friend, Philadelphia, April 17, 1737.
I received the kind letter you did me the honor of writing in February 1786. The indolence of old age, and the perpetual teasing of too much business, have made me so bad a correspondent, that I have hardly written a letter to any friend in Europe during the last twelvemonth: but as I have always a pleasure in hearing from them, which I cannot expect will be continued if I do not write to them, 1 again take up my pen, and begin with those whose correspondence is of the greatest value; among which I reckon that of the Marquis de la Fayette.
I was glad to hear of your safe return to Paris, after so long and fatiguing a journey. That is the place where your enlightened zeal for the welfare of our country can employ itself most to our advantage, and I know it is always at work, and indefatigable. Our enemies are as you observe very industrious in depreciating our national character. Their abuse sometimes provokes me, and I am almost ready to retaliate; but I have held my hand, though there is abundant room for recrimination; because I would do nothing that might hasten another quarrel by exasperating those who are still sore from their late disgraces. Perhaps it may be best that they should please themselves with fancying us weak, and poor, and divided, and friendless; they may then not be jealous of our growing strength, (which, since the peace, does really make rapid progress) and may be less intent on interrupting it.
I do not wonder that the Germans, who know little of free constitutions, should be ready to suppose that such cannot support themselves. We think they may, and we hope to prove it. That there should be faults in our first sketches or plans of government is not surprising; rather, considering the times, and the circumstances under which they were formed, it is surprising that the faults are so few. Those in the general confederating articles, are now about to be considered in a convention called for that express purpose; these will indeed be the most difficult to rectify. Those of particular states will undoubtedly be rectified, as their inconveniences shall by experience be made manifest. And whatever difference of sentiment there may be among us respecting particular regulations, the enthusiastic rejoicings with which the day of declared independence is annually celebrated, demonstrate the universal satisfaction of the people with the revolution and its grand principles.
1 enclose the vocabulary you sent me, with the words of the Shawanese and Delaware languages, which Colonel Harmar has procured for me. He is promised one more com" plete, which I shall send you as soon as it comes to my hands.
My grandson, whom you so kindly inquire after, is at his estate in the Jersies, and amuses himself with cultivating his lands. I wish he would seriously make a business of it, and renounce all thoughts of public employment; for I think agriculture the most honorable because the most independent of all professions. But I believe he hankers a little after Paris, or some other of the polished cities of Europe, thinking the society there preferable to what he meets with in the woods of Ancocas; as it certainly is. If he was now here, he would undoubtedly job with me and the rest of my family (who are much flattered by your remembrance of them) in best wishes for your health and prosperity, and that of your whole amiable fireside. You will allow an old friend of fourscore to say he loves your wife, when he adds, and children, and prays God to bless them all. Adieu! and believe me ever, yours most affectionately, B. Franklin.
To M. L'abbe Morellet/ Paris.
Philadelphia, April 22, 1787.
My Very Dear Friend,
I received, though long after they were written, your very agreeable favors of October 30, 1785, and February 9, 1786, with the pieces enclosed, productions of the Auteuit1 academy of Belles Lettres. Your kind and friendly wishes and congratulations are extremely obliging. It gives me an infinite pleasure to find that I still retain a favorable place in the remembrance of the worthy and the good, whose delightful and instructive society I had the happiness of enjoying while I resided in France.
But though I could not leave that dear nation without regret, I certainly did right in coming home. I am here in my niche in my own house in the bosom of my family, my daughter and grand-children all about me, among my old friends or the sons of my friends who equally respect me, and who all speak and understand the same language with me; and you know that if a man desires to be useful by the exercise of his mental faculties, he loses half their force when in a foreign country, where he can only express himself in a language with which he is not well acquainted. In short I enjoy here every opportunity of doing good, and every thing else I could
1 Member of the French academy.
a The residence of Madame Helvetius, with whom the Abbe Morellet, Cabanis, La Roche, and other literary friends passed much of their time. - .
wish for, except repose; and that 1 may soon expect either by the cessation of my office, which cannot last more than three years, or by ceasing to live.
I am of the same opinion with you respecting the freedom * of commerce, especially in countries where direct taxes are practicable. This will be our case in time, when our wideextended country fills up with inhabitants. But at present they are so widely settled, often five or six miles distant from one another in the back country, that the collection of a direct tax is almost impossible, the trouble of the collectors' going from house to house amounting to more than the value of the tax. Nothing can be better expressed than your sentiments are on this point, where you prefer liberty of trading, cultivating, manufacturing, &c. even to civil liberty, this beiDg affected but rarely, the other every hour. Our debt occasioned by the war being heavy, we are under the necessity of using imposts and every method we can think of to assist in raising a revenue to discharge it; but in sentiment we are well disposed to abolish duties on importation as soon as we possibly can afford to do so.
Whatever may be reported by the English in Europe, you may be assured that our people are almost unanimous in being satisfied with the revolution. Their unbounded respect for all who were principally concerned in it, whether as warriors or statesmen, and the enthusiastic joy with which the day of the declaration of independence is everywhere annually celebrated, are induhitable proof of this truth. In one or two of the states there have been some discoptents on partial and local subjects; these may have been fomented, as the accounts of them are exaggerated, by our ancient enemies; but they are now nearly suppressed, and the rest of the states enjoy peace and good order, and florish amazingly. The crops have been good for several years past, the price of country produce high, from foreign demand, and it fetches ready money; rents are high in our towns, which increase fast by new buildings; laborers and artizans have high wages well paid, and vast tracts of new land are continually clearing and rendered fit foT cultivation. I am, 8tc.
To Mr. Jordain, London.
On receiving his present of a cask of porter'— Herscher$ discoveries, fyc.
Dear Sir, Philadelphia, May 18, 1787.
1- received your very kind letter of February 27, together with the cask of porter you have been so good as to send me. We have here at present what the French call une assemblee des notables, a convention composed of some of the principal people from the several states of our confederation. They did me the honor of dining with me last Wednesday, when the cask was broached, and its contents met with the most cordial reception and universal approbation. In short the company agreed unanimously that it was the best porter they had ever tasted. Accept my thanks, a poor return, but all I can make at present.
Your letter reminds me of many happy days we have passed together, and the dear friends with whom we passed them; some of whom, alas! have left us, and we must regret their loss, although our Hawkesworth 1 is become an adventurer in more happy regions; and our Stanley* gone, "where only
'John Hawkesworth, LL. D. author of the Adventurer, and compiler of the account of the Discoveries made in the South Seas, by Captain Cook.
1 John Stanley, an eminent musician and composer, became blind at the age of two years.
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