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take this opportunity by my grandson to give you the purport of it, as well as I can recollect. I thanked you for the pleasure you had procured me of the General's conversation, whom I found a judicious, sensible, and amiable man. I was glad to hear that you possessed a comfortable retirement, and more so that you had thoughts of removing to Philadelphia, for that it would make me very happy to have you there. Your companions would be very acceptable to the Library, but I hoped you would long live to enjoy their company yourself. I agreed with you in sentiments concerning the Old Testament, and thought the clause in our constitution, which required the members of Assembly to declare their belief, that the whole of it was given by divine inspiration, had better have been omitted. That I had opposed the clause; but, being overpowered by numbers, and fearing more might in future times be grafted on it, I prevailed to have the additional clause, “that no further or more extended profession of faith should ever be exacted.” I observed to you too, that the evil of it was the less, as no inhabitant, nor any officer of government, except the members of Assembly, was obliged to make that declaration.
So much for that letter; to which I may now add, that there are several things in the Old Testament, impossible to be given by divine inspiration; such as the approbation ascribed to the angel of the Lord, of that abominably wicked and detestable action of Jael, the wife of Heber, the Kenite.* If the rest of the book were like that, I should rather suppose it given by inspiration from another quarter, and renounce the whole.
* Judges, chap. iv.
By the way, how goes on the Unitarian church in Essex Street? And the honest minister of it,* is he comfortably supported ? Your old colleague, Mr. Radcliff, is he living? And what became of Mr. Denham ?
My grandson, who will have the honor of delivering this to you, may bring me a line from you; and I hope will bring me an account of your continuing well and happy.
I jog on still, with as much health, and as few of the infirmities of old age, as I have any reason to expect. But, notwithstanding the decay of my constitution, my regard for my old friends remains firm and entire. You will always have a good share of it, for I am ever with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, &c
FROM JAMES MCHENRY TO B. FRANKLIN.T
The Marquis de Lafayette. - The Adjournment of
Congress, and Dissolution of the Committee of the States.
Baltimore, 24 August, 1784. SIR, As it may be a satisfaction to the friends of the Marquis de Lafayette to learn, that his visit to this country has been extremely flattering to its citizens, and that his reception has been marked by every circumstance expressive of gratitude and respect, I thought it would give pleasure to you, of whom I have often heard him express the liveliest regard, to have it in
* Theophilus Lindsey..
+ Mr. M•Henry was at this time a delegate in Congress from Maryland. He afterwards served for several years as Secretary of War, during the administrations of Washington and Adams.
your power to convey to them this information. He is now with our late general at Mount Vernon, and is expected in this town about the first of next month.*
I imagine your official information from this country must be very imperfect, and may continue so for some time, unless Mr. Jay, who has arrived, accepts the Department of Foreign Affairs. You know, I suppose, that Congress left a committee of the States; but this committee is, in effect, at an end, without the form of an adjournment. I went down to Annapolis on the 20th instant, to relieve Mr. Chase (a delegate from this State), but I might as well have remained at home, for Mr. Dana and Mr. Blanchard had the day before signified their intention to return to their States. There being only nine members present, a motion was made by General Hand to fix the dissolution on those gentlemen, which would have been entered on the journals, had not Mr. Blanchard withdrawn just as the yeas and nays were about to be called. This put an end to the committee, as he did not choose to return.
Owing to this circumstance, we shall have no visible federal sovereignty before the meeting of Congress at Trenton. I dare say our enemies in Europe will construe this event into a proof of a spirit of disorder and disunion among the States, not distinguishing between the States and their fluctuating representatives, who cannot be always wise, always moderate · men. The truth is, the eastern delegates did not think a committee of the States necessary, and went into it merely because, that, without one, they could not have obtained the adjournment to Trenton. The passions and sentiments of Congress descending to the com
* The Marquis de Lafayette had been making a tour through various parts of the United States, and was now about to return to Europe. See Sparks's edition of Washington's Writings, Vol. IX. pp. 55, 74, 77.
mittee terminated in its dissolution, as might have been foreseen. The States, however, have been at no time in greater harmony with each other. North Carolina has adopted the five per cent impost. Several of them have passed acts to vest Congress with a power to regulate commerce, previous to our recommendation on that subject, while Rhode Island alone resists the impost.
Your name has been often of late mentioned in Congress, and your letters alluded to, in which you press for leave to retire; but your friends have as often hoped, that you would serve this country a little longer. We have made treaties, but we want to be certain that we are at peace. With the greatest respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.
FROM THE COUNT DE VERGENNES TO B. FRANKLIN.
Versailles, 27 August, 1784. SIR, You have communicated to me an extract from the instructions, which Congress addressed to you on the Ilth of May last, which imports, that the United States will in no case treat any other nation with respect to commerce more advantageously than the French. This disposition is much the wisest, as it will prevent those misunderstandings, which might arise from the equivocal terms in which the 2d article of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, signed February 6th, 1778, is conceived. But that the resolution of Congress on this subject may be clearly stated, it would be best, Sir, that you furnish me with it in the form of a declaration, or at least in an official note, signed by yourVOL. X.
self. I have no doubt that you will adopt one of these two forms. I have the honor to be, &c.
TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Passy, 3 September, 1784. SIR, I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency, by order of Congress, a resolution of theirs, dated the 11th of May last, which is in the words following, viz.
“ Resolved, That Dr. Franklin be instructed to express to the court of France, the constant desire of Congress to meet their wishes; that these States are about to form a general system of commerce, by treaties with other nations; that, at this time, they cannot foresee what claim might be given to those nations by the explanatory propositions from the Count de Vergennes, on the second and third articles of our Treaty of Amity and Commerce with His Most Christian Majesty, but that he may be assured it will be our constant care to place no people on more advantageous ground than the subjects of his Majesty." With great respect, I am, &c.
TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.
Passy, 7 September, 1784.
* The same who afterwards so eminently distinguished himself by his eloquence in the early part of the French Revolution. - W. T. F.