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his own harmony can be exceeded." You give me joy in telling me lhat you are "on the pinnacle of content." Without it no situation can be happy; with it, any. One means of becoming content with one's situation is the comparing it with a worse. Thus when I consider how many terrible • diseases the human body is liable to, I comfort myself lhat only three incurable ones have fallen to my share, viz. the gout, the stone, and old age; and that these have not yet deprived me of my natural cheerfulness, my delight in books and enjoyment of social conversation.
I am glad to hear that Mr. Fitzmaurice is married and has an amiable lady and children. It is a better plan than that he once proposed, of getting. Mrs. Wright to make him a wax-work wife to sit at the bead of his table. For after all, wedlock is the natural state of man. A bachelor is dot a complete human being. He is like the odd half of a pair of scissars, which has not yet found its fellow, and therefore is not even half so useful as they might be together.
I hardly know which to admire most, the wonderful discoveries made by Herschel,1 or the indefatigable ingenuity by which he has been enabled to make them. Let us hope, my friend, that when free from these bodily embarrassments, we may roam together through 6ome of the systems he has explored, conducted by some of our old companions already acquainted with them. Hawkesworth will enliven our progress with his cheerful sensible converse, and Stanley accompany the music of the spheres.
. Mr. Watraaugh tells ine, for I immediately inquired after her, that your daughter is alive and well. I remember her a most promising and beautiful child, and therefore do not wonder that she is grown, as he says, a fine woman. God
* The astronomer.
bless her and you, my dear friend, and every thing that pertains to you, is the sincere prayer of yours most affectionately, . B. Franklin,
in his fe2d year.
To Geokge Wheatley, Esq.
The Philadelphia bank—Commercial treaty—Scheme for coining—Dr. Riley.
Philadelphia, May 18, 1787I received duly my good old friend's letter of the 19th of February. I thank you much for your notes on banks, they are just and solid, as far as 1 can judge of them. Our bank here has met with great opposition, partly from envy, and partly from those who wish an emission of more paper money, which they think the bank influence prevents. But it has stood all attacks, and went on well notwithstanding the assembly repealed its charter. A new assembly has restored it; and the management is so prudent, that 1 have no doubt of its continuing to go on well: the dividend has never been less than six per cent., nor will that be augmented for some time, as the surplus profit is reserved to face accidents. The dividend of eleven per cent, which was once made, was from a circumstance scarce avoidable. A new company was proposed, and prevented only by admitting a number of new partners. As many of the first set were averse to this and chose to withdraw, it was necessary to settle their accounts; so all were adjusted, the profits shared that had been accumulated, and the new and old proprietors jointly began on a new and equal footing. Their notes are always instantly paid on demand, and pass on all occasions as readily as silver, because they will always produce silver.
Your medallion is in good company; it is placed with those of Lord Chatham, Lord Camden, Matquis of Rockingham, Sir George Saville, and some others who honored me with a show of friendly regard when in England. I believe I have thanked you for it, but I thank you again.
I believe with you, that if our plenipo is desirous of concluding a treaty of commerce, he may need patience. If I were in his place, and not otherwise instructed, I should be apt to say "take your own time, gentlemen." If the treaty cannot be made as much to your advantage as to ours, don't . make it. I am sure the want of it is not more to our disadvantage than to yours. Let the merchants on both sides treat with one another. LaUsez Us fane.
I have never considered attentively the congress's scheme for coining, and I have it not now at hand, so that at present I can say nothing to it. The chief uses of coining seem to be the ascertaining the fineness of the metals, and saving the time that would otherwise be spent in weighing to ascertain the quantity. But the convenience of fixed values to pieces is so great as to force the currency of some whose stamp is worn off that should have assured their fineness, and which are evidently not of half their due weight; the case at present with the sixpences in England; which one with another do not weigh three-pence.
You are now 78, and 1 am 82: you tread fast upon my heels; but though you have more strength and spirit, you cannot come up with me till I slop, which must now be soon; for I am grown so old as to have buried most of the friends of my youth, and I now often hear persons whom I knew when children, called old Mr. such-a-one, to distinguish them from their sons now men grown and in business; so that by living twelve years beyond David's period, I seem to have intruded myself into the company of posterity, when I ought to have been a-bed and asleep. Yet had I gone at seventy it would have cut off twelve of the most active years of my life, employed too in matters of the greatest importance; but whether I have been doing good or mischief is for time to discover. I only (mow that J. intended well, and I hope all will end well.
Be so good as to present my affectionate respects to Dr. Riley. I am under great obligations to him, and shall write to him shortly. It will be a pleasure to him to know that my malady does not grow sensibly worse; and that is a great point; for it has always been so tolerable, as not to prevent my enjoying the pleasures of society, and being cheerful in conversation: I owe this in a great measure to his good counsels. .
Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours mpst affectionately, B. Fbankun.
To Mr. Smaj-l.
American taxation—Nap form of prayer—American royalists, isc.
Dear Sir, Philadelphia, Sept. 28, 1787.
I received your kind letter of June 6, 86, and I answered it, though long after the receipt. I do not perceive by your second favor of July 87, that my answer had then come to hand, but hope it may since that time. . I have not lost any of the principles of public economy you once knew me possessed of; but to get the bad customs of a country changed, and new ones, though better, introduced, it is necessary first to remove the prejudices of the people, enlighten their ignorance, and convince them that their interest wiS be promoted by the proposed changes: and this is not the wbrk of a day. Our legislators are all landholders'; and they are not yet persuaded that all taxes are finally paid by the land. Besides our country is so sparely settled, the habitations particularly in the back countries, being perhaps five or six miles distant from each other, that the time and labor of Uie collector in going from house to house, and being obliged to call often before he can recover the tax, amounts to more than the tax is worth, and therefore we have been forced into the mode of indirect taxes, i. e. duties on importation of goods, and excises.
I have made no attempt to introduce the form of prayer here, which you and good Mrs. Baldwin do me the honor to approve. The things of this world take up too much of my time of which indeed I have too little left, to undertake any thing like a reformation in matters of religioii. When we can sow good seed, we should however do it, and wait, when we can do no better, with patience, nature's time for their sprouting. 'Some lie many years in the ground, and at length certain favorable seasons or circumstances bring them forth with vigorous shoots and plentiful productions.
'Had I been at home as you wish, soon after the peace, I might possibly have mitigated some of the severities against the royalists, believing as I do that fear and error, rather than malice, occasioned-their desertion of their country's cause, and adoption of the king's. The public resentment against them is now so far abated, that none who ask leave to return are refused, and many of them now live among us much at their ease. As to the restoration of confiscated estates, it is an operation that none of our politicians have as yet ventured to propose. They are a sort of people that love'to fortify themselves in their projects by precedent. Perhaps they wait to see your government restore the forfeited estates in Scotland to the Scotch, those in Ireland to the Irishv and those in England to the Welch. . :• r. • -- v.'.i i •u
I am glad that the distressed exiles who remain with you have received, or are likely to receive, some compensation for their losses, for 1 commiserate their situation. It was