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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,
Trusts in God, that, as well as he was, he shall be.” 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 Abbé Raynal in some of his writings has said, “ Establish no legal preference amongst the different forms of worship. Superstition is innocent, when.. ever it is neither persecuted nor protected.” Whether
such a principle can be brought into practice is doubtful; I fear it cannot. I full well remember what you told me long ago, of a place in Philadelphia built for whosoever might choose to talk in public, as some persons of a particular denomination had been refused holding forth, because they were of a certain color. How this doctrine may be relished in other parts, I know not; but, if mass has been said in Boston, I will hope there has been some relaxation, at least, in favor of the general interest of the State.
Your grandson, upon my insinuating to him you were so desirably situated as not to leave Paris, tells me, you thought you would be more pleased and happy in America, where you might prosecute your philosophical studies. All I can say to this is what I have read somewhere; “ Happy only is he, who in mind lives contented; and he most of all unhappy, whom nothing that he hath can content.” I am sure you cannot have more health, happiness, and contentment, than I sincerely wish you; and I shall ever be happy in having opportunities of showing with what respect and regard I am, dear Sir, your very affectionate friend,
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Passy, 23 November, 1784. DEAR SIR, These people are so accustomed to see every thing done by solicitation of interest, or what they call protection, and nothing without it, that they hardly conceive it possible to obtain the payment even of a just debt, but by means of persons whom they suppose to have influence enough to support and enforce their pretensions. We should naturally suppose, that the proper time for asking such aid would be after a regular demand, and a refusal of justice; but they run about to everybody with their memorials, before they have even presented their account to those whom they consider as their debtors. Thus the creditors, not only of a State in America, but even of private merchants, tease the ministers of this country, as well as those of America here, with their petitions and cases, requesting assistance and interest to procure attention to their affairs, when it does not appear that their claims have been refused, or even made where they ought to be made.
I beg leave to refer you to the enclosed papers, and to request, that, if you are acquainted with the affair, and can give any comfortable expectation or counsel to the poor man, you would be so good as to furnish me with it, that I may communicate it to him in my answer. With great and sincere esteem, I am, Sir, &c.
FROM JOHN JAY TO B. FRANKLIN.
The Marquis de Lafayette. — Congress.
Trenton, 13 December, 1784. DEAR SIR, The Marquis de Lafayette is so obliging as to take charge of this letter. He has seen much of our country since his arrival, and, having had many opportunities of knowing our true situation, will be able to give you full information on the subject. I think he is, and has reason to be, convinced, that the attachment of America to him has not been abated by the peace, and that we are now as little disposed to break friend. ship with France, as we were during the war. This is a most favorable season for her to relax the severe commercial restrictions, which oppose our trade to her islands. Her liberality would be contrasted to British ill humor, and unavoidably produce correspondent impressions.
The present Congress promises well. There are many respectable members here. Federal ideas seem to prevail greatly among them, and I may add, a strong disposition to conciliation and unanimity. Your letter on the subject of leave to return, is, with a variety of foreign papers, referred to a committee. They have as yet made no report, and therefore I can give you no satisfactory intelligence on that head.
I lately saw Mrs. Bache in good health and spirits, at Philadelphia, and I am persuaded she is no less anxious for your return than you can be. Mrs. Jay and our little family are at Elizabethtown, and her last letters inform me they are all well. Be pleased to make my compliments to your grandsons. I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Passy, 3 January, 1785. MY DEAR FRIEND, I received your kind letter of December 1st, from Bath. I am glad to hear that your good sister is in a fair way towards recovery; my respects and best wishes attend her.
I communicated your letter to Mr. Jefferson, to remind him of his promise to communicate to you the intelligence he might receive from America on the subjects you mention; and now, having got back, I shall endeavour to answer the other parts of it.