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TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN.
Passy, 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 t. 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.
Paasy, 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 more, and of enjoying the great pleasure of seeing again my friends there; but my malady, otherwise tolerable, is I find irritated by the motion in a carriage, and I fear the consequence of such a journey; yet I am not quite resolved against it . I often think of the agreeable evenings I used to pass with that excellent collection of good men, the club at the London, and wish to be again among them. Perhaps I may pop in some Thursday evening when they least expect me. You may well believe it very pleasing to me to have Dr. Priestley associated with me among the foreign members of the Academy of Sciences. I had mentioned him upon every vacancy, that has happened since my residence here, and the place has never been bestowed more worthily.
When you wrote the letter T am now answering, your nation was involved in the confusion of your new election. When I think of your present crazy constitution and its diseases, I imagine the enormous emoluments of place to be among the greatest; and, while they exist, I doubt whether even the reform of your representation will cure the evils constantly arising from your perpetual factions. As it seems to be a settled point at present, that the minister must govern the Parliament, who are to do every thing he would have done; and he is to bribe them to do this, and the people are to furnish the money to pay these bribes; the Parliament appears to me a very expensive machine for government, and I apprehend the people will find out in time, that they may as well be governed, and that it will be much cheaper to be governed, by the minister alone; no Parliament being preferable to the present .
Your newspapers are full of fictitious accounts of distractions in America. We know nothing of them. Mr. Jefferson, just arrived here, after a journey through all the States from Virginia to Boston, assures me, that all is quiet, a general tranquillity reigns, and the people well satisfied with their present forms of government, a few insignificant persons only excepted. These accounts are I suppose intended as consolatory, and to discourage emigrations. I think with you, that our Revolution is an important event for the advantage of mankind in general. It is to be hoped that the lights we enjoy, which the ancient governments in their first establishment could not have, may preserve us from their eirors. In this the advice of wise friends may do much good, and I am sure that which you have been so kind as to offer us will be of great service.
Mr. Jay has gone to America; but Mr. Adams is just arrived here, and I shall acquaint him with your remembrance of him. Many thanks for your kind wishes respecting my health and happiness, which I return fourfold, being ever with the sincerest esteem, my dear friend, your most affectionate
TO LORD HOWE.
On receiving a Copy of Cook's Voyages by Order of the King.
Passy, 18 August, 1784
My Lord, I received lately the very valuable Voyage of the late Captain Cook, kindly sent to me by your Lordship in consideration of my good-will in issuing orders towards the protection of that illustrious discoverer from any interruption in his return home by American cruisers.*