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The sentiments of the Emperor towards the United States of America make me foresee the satisfaction, which his Majesty will have to enter into reciprocal . suitable, and advantageous connexions with them. I have not the least doubt, but that measures will be instantly taken on this subject to concert with you, Sir, and with the appointed Ministers Plenipotentiary; and, as soon as the answer from my court shall come, I shall instantly communicate it to you. I have the honor to be, &c.
De Mercy Argenteau.
TO MESSRS. SEARS AND SMITH.
Duty on Slaves imported into the French Islands.
Paesy, 4 August, 1784
Gentlemen, Upon the receipt of yours relating to your cargo of slaves at Martinico, I endeavoured to inform myself what was the law in such cases; and I found, that by an arret du Conseil (TEtat du Roi, of the 28th of June, 1783, there is a duty laid, of one hundred livres per head, on all negroes imported in foreign ships, and this duty is granted and is to be paid as a premium to the French importers of negroes, as an encouragement to their own African trade. Under these circumstances I am advised, that it cannot be expected that a general national law should be set aside in (avor of a particular foreign ship; especially as the King, if he forgives the duty to the stranger, must thereby do injustice to his own subjects, to whom he had promised the produce of that duty, unless he pays it to them out of his own money, which we cannot decently request him to do. I do not, therefore, see any possibility of your avoiding payment. I have the honor to be, Gentlemen, &.c.
TO MRS. MARY HEWSON.
Invites her to come to Paris.
Passy, 15 August, 1784.
I received your kind letter of July 20th. I wish you had executed your project of taking a little trip to see me this summer. You would have made me very happy, and might have bathed your children here, as well as at Southampton, I having a bath in my house, besides the river in view. I like your monthly account of them, and in return send you my daughter's account of my grandchildren in Philadelphia. You will see she expected me home this summer; but my constituents have sent me a new commission, and I must stay another winter. Can you not come and pass it with me here?
Temple, who proposes to have the pleasure of delivering this to you, will explain to you how you may be accommodated, and, if you can resolve to come, will conduct you. Except being at home, which I begin now to fear I never shall be, nothing could give me greater pleasure. Come, my dear friend, live with me while I stay here, and go with me, if I do go, to America. Yours most affectionately,
P. S. My love to the dear children, particularly my godson, for whom Temple has a little present of French books.
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN.
Paasy, 16 August, 1784.
I received your letter of the 22d ultimo, and am glad to find that you desire to revive the affectionate intercourse, that formerly existed between us. It will be very agreeable to me; indeed, nothing has ever hurt me so much, and affected me with such keen sensations, as to find myself deserted in my old age by my only son; and not only deserted, but to find him taking up arms against me in a cause, wherein my good fame, fortune, and life were all at stake. You conceived, you say, that your duty to your King and regard for your country required this. I ought not to blame you for differing in sentiment with me in public affairs. We are men, all subject to errors. Our opinions are not in our own power; they are formed and governed much by circumstances, that are often as inexplicable as they are irresistible. Your situation was such that few would have censured your remaining neuter, though there are natural duties which precede political ones, and cannot be extinguished by them.
This is a disagreeable subject. I drop it; and we will endeavour, as you propose, mutually to forget what has happened relating to it, as well as we can. I send your son over to pay his duty to you. You will find him much improved. He is greatly esteemed and beloved in this country, and will make his way anywhere. It is my desire, that he should study the law, as the necessary part of knowledge for a public man, and profitable if he should have occasion to practise L I would have you therefore put into his hands those law-books you have, viz. Blackstone, Coke, Ba
Vol. x. 16 K
con, Viner, &,c. He will inform you, that he received the letter sent him by Mr. Galloway, and the paper it enclosed, safe.
On my leaving America, I deposited with that friend for you, a chest of papers, among which was a manuscript of nine or ten volumes, relating to manufactures, commerce, and finance, which cost me in England about seventy guineas; and eight quire books, containing the rough drafts of all my letters while I lived in London. These are missing; I hope you have got them; if not, they are lost. Mr. Vaughan has published in London a volume of what he calls my political works. He proposes a second edition; but, as the first was very incomplete, and you had many things that were omitted, (for I used to send you sometimes the rough drafts, and sometimes the printed pieces I wrote in London,) I have directed him to apply to you for what may be in your power to furnish him with, or to delay his publication till I can be at home again, if that may ever happen.
I did intend returning this year; but the Congress, instead of giving me leave to do so, have sent me another commission, which will keep me here at least a year longer; and perhaps I may then be too old and feeble to bear the voyage. I am here among a people that love and respect me, a most amiable nation to live with; and perhaps I may conclude to die among them; for my friends in America are dying off, one after another, and I have been so long abroad, that I should now be almost a stranger in my own country.
I shall be glad to see you when convenient, but would not have you come here at present . You may confide to your son the family affairs you wished to confer upon with me, for he is discreet; and I trust, that you will prudently avoid introducing him to company, that it may be improper for him to be seen with. I shall hear from you by him; and letters to me afterwards will come safe under cover directed to Mr. Ferdinand Grand, banker, at Paris. Wishing you health, and more happiness than it seems you have lately experienced, I remain your affectionate father,
TO RICHARD PRICE.
Balloons. — English Constitution. — State of America,
Passy, 16 August, 1784.
I some time since answered your kind letter of July 12th, returning the proof of Mr. Turgot's letter, with the permission of his friends to print it. I hope it came safe to hand. I had before received yours of April, which gave me great pleasure, as it acquainted me with your welfare, and that of Dr. Priestley.
The commencement here of the art of flying will, as you observe, be a new epoch. The construction and manner of filling the balloons improve daily. Some of the artists have lately gone to England. It will be well for your philosophers to obtain from them what they know, or you will be behindhand; which in mechanic operations is unusual for Englishmen.
I hope the disagreements in our Royal Society are composed. Quarrels often disgrace both sides; and disputes even on small matters often produce quarrels for want of knowing how to differ decently; an art which it is said scarce anybody possesses but yourself and Dr. Priestley.
I had indeed thoughts of visiting England once