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greeable, as they cannot be answered without difficulty, occasion much embarrassment, and are sometimes impracticable. If, therefore, the Congress have not on this occasion obtained all they wished, they will impute it to the right cause, and not suppose a want of good will in our friends, who indeed are such, most firmly and sincerely.
The whole supply for the current year now amounts to twenty millions; but out of this are to be paid your usual drafts for interest money, those in favor of M. de Beaumarchais, and those heretofore drawn on Mr. Jay and Mr. Laurens, which I have already either paid or engaged for, with the support of your several ministers, &c. &c.; which I mention, that the Congress may avoid embarrassing my successor with drafts, which perhaps he may not have the means in his hands of honoring. Besides paying the second year's salaries of Messrs. Adams and Dana, Jay and Carmichael, I have furnished Mr. Dana with fifteen hundred pounds sterling credit on Petersburgh, for which place I suppose he is now on his way.
You will receive from Holland advices of the late declaration of that court, with regard to the English refusal of its mediation, and of the assistance requested by the States-General. I hope Mr. Dana will find it well disposed towards us.
I have received no answer yet to my letters relating to the proposed mode of lodging funds here, by supplying the French fleet and army. Having as yet heard nothing of Colonel Palfrey, and it being now more than four months since he sailed, there is great reason to fear he may be lost. If that should unhappily be the case, the Congress cannot too soon appoint another consul, such an officer being really necessary here. Your minister plenipotentiary has hith
erto had all that sort of business upon his hands; and, as I do not now speak for myself, I may speak more freely. I think he should be freed from the burden of such affairs, from all concerns in making contracts for furnishing supplies, and from all your bill of exchange business, &c. &c., that he may be more at liberty to attend to the duties of his political function.
The prisoners in England are increasing by the late practice of sending our people from New York, and the refusal of the English admiralty to exchange any Americans for Englishmen not taken by American armed vessels. I would mention it for the consideration of Congress, whether it may not be well to set apart five or six hundred English prisoners, and refuse them all exchange in America, but for our countrymen now confined in England.
Agreeably to the vote of Congress, and your Excellency's letter of the 4th of January, I have requested the assistance of this court for obtaining the release of Mr. President Laurens. It does not yet appear that the thing is practicable. What the present situation is of that unfortunate gentleman, may be gathered from the enclosed letters.*
I hope the Alliance, with the ship Marquis de Lafayette under her convoy, is by this time arrived, as they sailed the 27th of March. I flatter myself, that the supplies of clothing, &c., which they carry, will be found good of the kind, and well bought. I have by several late opportunities sent copies of the government letters taken in the New York packet. Your Excellency will see, that they are written in the perfect persuasion of our submitting speedily, and that
• The reference here is to the letters of Sir Grey Cooper, and Mr. Charles Vernon. See Vol. VIII. pp. 514, 516, 517.
the Commissioners are cautioned not to promise too much, with regard to the future constitutions to be given us, as many changes of the old may be necessary, &c. One cannot read those letters from the American secretary of state, and his under-secretary, Knox, without a variety of reflections on the state we should necessarily be in, if obliged to make the submission they so fondly hope for, but which I trust in God they will never see. Their affairs in the East Indies, by the late accounts, grow worse and worse; and twenty-two ships of the prey they made in the West are wrenched out of their jaws by the squadron of M. de la Motte-Piquet.
I mentioned in a former letter, my purpose of remaining here for some time after I should be superseded. I mean it with the permission of Congress, and on the supposition of no orders being sent me to the contrary; and I hope it will be so understood. With the greatest respect, I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
TO SAMUEL COOPER.
New Constitution of Massachusetts. — Maintenance of the Clergy. Scripture Phrases.
Passy, 15 May, 1781.
I received your kind letter of February 1st, by Colonel Johonnot. Your sentiments of the present state of our affairs appear to me very judicious, and I am much obliged by your free communication of them. They are often of use here; for you have a name and character among us, that give weight to your opinions.
It gives me great pleasure to learn, that your new
constitution is at length settled with so great a degree of unanimity and general satisfaction.* It seems to me upon the whole an excellent one; and that if there are some particulars, that one might have wished a little different, they are such as could not in the present state of things have been well obtained otherwise than they are, and, if by experience found inconvenient, will probably be changed hereafter. I would only mention at present one article, that of maintenance for the clergy. It seems to me, that, by the constitution, the Quakers may be obliged to pay the tax for that purpose. But, as the great end in imposing it is professedly the promotion of piety, religion, and morality, and those people have found means of securing that end among themselves without a regular clergy, and their teachers are not allowed to receive money; I should think it not right to tax them, and give the money to the teacher of the parish; but I imagine, that, in the laws to be made for levying parish taxes, this matter may be regulated to their con
I am very sensible of the honor done me by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in choosing me one of their members. I wish I could be of some utility in promoting the noble design of their institution. Perhaps I may, by sending them from time to time some of the best publications that appear here. I shall begin to make a collection for them.
Your excellent Sermon gave me abundance of pleasure, and is much admired by several of my friends who understand English. I propose to get it translated and printed at Geneva, at the end of a transla tion of your new constitution. Nothing could be hap
* Constitution of Massachusetts.
pier than your choice of a text, and your application of it. It was not necessary in New England, where everybody reads the Bible, and is acquainted with Scripture phrases, that you should note the texts from which you took them; but I have observed in England, as well as in France, that verses and expressions taken from the sacred writings, and not known to be such, appear very strange and awkward to some readers, and I shall therefore, in my edition, take the liberty of marking the quoted texts in the margin.
I know not whether a belly-full has been given to anybody by the picking of my bones, but picked they now are, and I think it time they should be at rest. I am taking measures to obtain that rest for them; happy if, before I die, I can find a few days absolutely at my own disposal. I often form pleasing imaginations of the pleasure I should enjoy as a private person among my friends and compatriots in my native Boston. God only knows whether this pleasure is reserved for me. With the greatest and most sincere esteem, I am, &c.
TO FRANCIS LEWIS.
Passy, 16 May, 1781.
SIR, I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me the 1st of January. The bill for four thousand four hundred and forty-four Mexican dollars, which you remitted to Mr. Schweighauser, being refused payment by Mr. Jay, for want of a regular endorsement by Mr. Laurens, in whose favor it was drawn, and which endorsement could not now be obtained, Mr. Schweighauser applied to me, informing me, that he