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FROM RICHARD PRICE TO B. FRANKLIN.
Sinking Fund. — Balloons.
Newington Green, 21 October, 1784.
My Dear Friend,
I have promised to draw up a table, during the next session of Parliament, similar to the first in the French edict, and marking, as that does, distinctly for every year the progress of a sinking fund, in order to show its powers; and I have some reason to expect, that there will be a struggle in our Parliament to get such a fund established, and consigned to the care of commissioners in order to render diversions of it less practicable. I have enclosed a little pamphlet, published in April last, because I am doubtful whether it has been sent to you before.
We have at last begun to fly here. Such an ardor prevails, that probably we shall soon, in this instance, leave France behind us. Dr. Priestley, in a letter which I have just received from him, tells me, that he is eager in pursuing his experiments, and that he has discovered a method of filling the largest balloons with the lightest inflammable air in a very short time and at a very small expense.
I rent you a pretty long letter, with a parcel of my pamphlets on the American Revolution, about a fortnight ago. This letter will be conveyed by a countryman of yours, Mr. Jonathan Jackson, who has been in London some time, and in whose acquaintance I have been happy. I have sent a considerable number of these pamphlets to America, where I hope they will be favorably received, as a well-meant, though weak attempt to serve the best interests of civil society.
Mrs. Price, I thank God, continues better; she desires to be respectfully remembered to you. With the highest regard, I am ever yours,
TO CHARLES THOMSON.
Passy, 11 November, 1784.
Dear Friend, I received your kind letter of August 13th with the papers annexed, relative to the affair of Longchamps. I hope satisfaction will be given to M. Marbois. The Commissioners have written a joint letter to Congress. This serves to cover a few papers relative to matters with which I was particularly charged in the instructions. I shall write to you fully by the next opportunity, having now only time to add, that I am, as ever, yours most affectionately,
P. S. I executed the instructions of October 29 th, 1783, as soon as I knew the commissions for treating with the Emperor, &c. were issued, which was not till July, 1784. The three letters between the Emperor's minister and me are what passed on that occasion.
FROM GEORGE WHATLEY TO B. FRANKLIN.
Principles of Trade. — Foundling Hospitals. — Spectacles. — Powers of Congress. — Toleration.
London, 15 November, 1784.
My Good Old Friend, You flatter my vanity in thinking of having a translation made of The Principles of Trade. I have given to your grandson one of them, and I shall with pleasure send some copies to America,
I should be glad to know what the success may be of the new institution at Paris for assisting women, so as to suckle their own children at home. I approve of it much; though I hold as an axiom, "that the children of poor or dishonest persons should be taken care of by the public in time, lest, instead of serving, they come to hurt the public either through distress or bad education, if it can be done without any violence to the natural right of the parent, as it is better to make men good than to hang those that are bad." You see the voluntary sending of children to the foundling hospital takes away the thought of any violence to the natural right; and to my mind, from whatever cause parents may divest themselves of their affection for their offspring, so as to put them away, it is the duty of the public to intervene and take up such offspring, upon the certain principle, that the number of subjects makes the riches of a State.
By good luck, I find I have kept your original notes on the Principles of Trade, those we agreed in, those I added, and those I dissented from, and were not published; moreover, some other ideas you favored me with. This I told your grandson, and wished to confer with him thereon, as well for his improvement, as to convey to you what we differed in, for your reconsideration. I have prepared copies of those notes, and shall hope to collate them with your grandson. If not so done, you may depend I have faithfully copied them.
Death is a concomitant of our existence. Your doctrine of our rising from it, or after it, refreshed in the morning, is what I do not comprehend. I have long contemplated the epitaph, thought to be written by the celebrated Mr. Pope, which allow me to send you, together with my paraphrase, if it may be so called.
"Under this marble, or under this sill,
When we have considered things, and weighed them to the utmost extent of our faculties, we shall not, I apprehend, be able to say more, than that we can know nothing of what we were before we existed, nor can we more certainly or more positively say what shall become of us on our dissolution. It is therefore submitted, whether it be not greatly satisfactory to contemplate, and to trust in God, that what we were, we shall be. It is presumed, the utmost of all religion must be the trusting in God; consequently, this idea seems not to militate against pure religion. As to the almost infinite notions of mankind, by which the minds of men are warped and bent, they will be found mere nothings, if from them we take, as Dean Swift says of what is called the happiness of mortal men, their false lights, varnish, and tinsel.
By way of speculation, I trouble you with a copy of an account I got from Paris of the number of foundling children there, received from 1741, the year of our beginning here, to the year 1755. I think it was obtained preparatory to the opening of our hospital, the 2d of June, 1756, for a general reception, to show what was done abroad. I should be glad if you could procure the subsequent years to 1783 inclusive. Whether it may be of any use, I know not; nevertheless, it would please me to have it.
I have spoken to Dolland about your invention of double spectacles, and, by all I can gather, they can only serve for particular eyes, not in general. Dolland was to furnish me gratis with spectacles, thirty years ago, in virtue of my disinterested purchases of telescopes, for no small sums, for conjurers abroad. He has now done it, as I find spectacles are of use; though I can do without them tolerably, and part of this letter was wrote so. They, as I said, give ease, and that is what we ought to covet and desire.
I long much to learn how the Philadelphia bank goes on. If your people will be pleased to let justice be the compass by which they shall steer, they may do any thing. I think I can prove this to be for their true interest, in every shape. You know I lay down as a maxim, that interest should govern as well public as private affairs. It is all a farce to pretend, that it ought not. I hold your Cincinnati institution to be wrong, nor do I think those to blame, who are against giving a power to Congress inconsistent with liberty; for men are not to be trusted with power but with a jealous eye, and so guarded that nought but the general interest shall be the rule of action. If poor States in union with others cannot, by reason of their small means, acquiesce in measures judged to be for public benefit so readily as the richer, these should assist and help out those who are poor, either by loan or gift. I will" suppose all readiness in both rich and poor to do their utmost; for, if that be wanting, there is a clear want of justice, and consequently a deviation from the true interest of the whole.
I think the Abbe Raynal in some of his writings has said, "Establish no legal preference amongst the different forms of worship. Superstition is innocent, whenever it is neither persecuted nor protected." Whether