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times enjoy, in dying, a foretaste of the happy state they are about to enter.
According to the course of years, I should have quitted this world long before him: I shall, however, not be long in following. I am now in my eighty-fourth year, and the last year has considerably enfeebled me, so that I hardly expect to remain another. You will then, my dear friend, consider this as probably the last line to be received from me, and as a taking leave.
"Present my best and most sincere respects to your good mother, and love to the rest of the family, to whom I wish all happiness; and believe me to be, while I do live, yours most affectionately, "B. FRANKLIN."
"I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence that takes cognizance of, guards and guides, and may favour particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear its displeasure, or to pray for its protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that though your reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face. But were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be
done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point of its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth to be raised into the company of men should prove his manhood by beating his mother. I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification from the enemies it may raise against you, and, perhaps, a great deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it? I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and, therefore, add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours, B. FRANKLIN."
Copy of the last Letter written by Dr. Franklin. 66 Philadelphia, April 8, 1790.
"I received your letter of the 31st of last past, relating to encroachments made on the eastern lim
its of the United States by settlers under the British government, pretending that it is the western, and not the eastern river of the Bay of Passamaquoddy which was designated by the name of St. Croix, in the treaty of peace with that nation; and requesting of me to communicate any facts which my memory or papers may enable me to recollect, and which may indicate the true river which the commissioners on both sides had in their view to establish as the boundary between the two nations.
"Your letter found me under a severe fit of my malady, which prevented my answering it sooner, or attending, indeed, to any kind of business. Í now can assure you that I am perfectly clear in the remembrance that the map we used in tracing the boundary was brought to the treaty by the commissioners from England, and that it was the same that was published by Mitchell above twenty years before. Having a copy of that map by me in loose sheets, I send you that sheet which contains the Bay of Passamaquoddy, where you will see that part of the boundary traced. I remember, too, that in that part of the boundary we relied much on the opinion of Mr. Adams, who had been concerned in some former disputes concerning those territories. I think, therefore, that you may obtain still farther light from him.
"That the map we used was Mitchell's map, Congress were acquainted at the time, by letter to their secretary for foreign affairs, which I suppose may be found upon their files.
"I have the honour to be, with the greatest esteem and respect, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant, "B. FRANKLIN.
"To Thomas Jefferson,, Secretary of State of the United States."
To the Abbé Soulavie.*
Theory of the Earth.--Read in the American Philosophical Society, November 22, 1782,
Passy, September 22, 1782. I RETURN the papers with some corrections. I did not find coal mines under the calcareous rocks in Derbyshire. I only remarked, that at the lowest part of that rocky mountain which was in sight, there were oyster shells mixed in the stone; and part of the high county of Derby being probably as much above the level of the sea as the coal mines of Whitehaven were below it, seemed a proof that there had been a great boulversement in the surface of that island, some part of it having been depressed under the sea, and other parts, which had been under it, being raised above it. Such changes in the superficial parts of the globe seemed to me unlikely to happen if the earth were solid to the centre. I therefore imagined that the internal parts might be a fluid more dense, and of greater specific gravity than any of the solids we are acquainted with, which therefore might swim in or upon that fluid. Thus the surface of the globe would be a shell, capable of being broken or disordered by the violent movements of the fluid on which it rested. And as air has been compressed by art so as to be twice as dense as water, in which case, if such air and
Occasioned by his sending me some notes he had taken of what I had said to him in conversation on the Theory of the Earth. I wrote it to set him right in some points wherein he had mistaken my meaning.-B. F.
water could be contained in a strong glass vessel, the air would be seen to take the lowest place, and the water to float above and upon it; and as we know not yet the degree of density to which air may be compressed, and M. Amontons calculated that its density increasing as it approached the centre in the same proportion as above the surface, it would, at the depth of leagues, be heavier than gold; possibly the dense fluid occupying the internal parts of the globe might be air compressed. And as the force of expansion in dense air, when heated, is in proportion to its density, this central air might afford another agent to move the surface, as well as be of use in keeping alive the subterraneous fires; though, as you observe, the sudden rarefaction of water coming into contact without those fires, may also be an agent sufficiently strong for that purpose, when acting between the incumbent earth and the fluid on which it rests.
If one might indulge imagination in supposing how such a globe was formed, I should conceive, that all the elements in separate particles being originally mixed in confusion, and occupying a great space, they would (as soon as the almighty fiat ordained gravity, or the mutual attraction of certain parts and the mutual repulsion of others, to exist) all move to their common centre: that the air, being a fluid whose parts repel each other, though drawn to the common centre by their gravity, would be densest towards the centre, and rarer as more remote; consequently, all matters lighter than the central parts of that air and immersed in it, would recede from the centre, and rise till they arrived at that region of the air which was of the same specific gravity with themselves, where they would rest; while other matter, mixed with the lighter air, would descend, and the two, meeting, would form the shell of the first earth, leaving the upper atmosphere nearly clear. The original movement of the parts