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As soon as I learned the success of their enterprise, I sent a number of peasants to build me a place of shelter among the snows near some insulated rocks, which are half way up the snowy part of the mountain. My intention was to go and sleep there, and thus to divide the terrible day's work, which my predecessors had been obliged to encounter. I went to Chamouni, and slept as they had done at the entrance of the snows, but there came on in the night a furious storm and much snow, which rendered the mountain inaccessible for the rest of the season. But my hut is still standing, and I hope to accomplish my project next summer. I shall need your ingenuity, when in that situation, to make my observations as useful as they should be.* I am, with the most perfect esteem, Sir, &c .
* His subsequent attempt was successful. He reached the summit of Mont Blanc on the 3d of August, 1787. An account of his ascent m contained in the Gentleman's Magazine, for October of that year. The following beautiful tribute to the genius and character of M. de Saussure is from the pen of Sir Humphrey Davy.
"Educated amidst the magnificent scenery of the Alps, this illustrious person felt in his early days the warmest admiration of the study of geology, and his whole life was more or less devoted to it Possessing from nature a penetrating genius, he assisted her efforts by all the refinements and resources of science. In his researches he spared no labor, and yielded nothing to the common sentiment of self-love. A constant inhabitant of the mountains, he has exceeded all other writers in his descriptions of them. His delineations are equally vivid and correct; and, as far as mere language is capable, they awaken pictures in the mind. De Saussure has presented the rare instance of a powerful imagination associated with the coolest judgment; of the brilliancy of ideas and feelings of the poet, connected with the minute researches and deep sagacity of the philosopher."
TO THOMAS PAINE.*
Dissuading him from publishing a Work of an irreligious Tendency.
Dear Sir, I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence, that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that, though your reasonings are subtile, and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will
• This letter was first published by William Temple Franklin, but without the name of the person to whom it was directed. He probably transcribed it from a rough draft, in which the name was not mentioned. It is supposed to have been written to Thomas Paine, and the circumstances are such as to render this supposition in the highest degree probable. In the early part of the Revolution, Paine was in the habit of consulting Dr. Franklin about his political writings, and the latter is understood to have aided Paine, at least by his suggestions and advice, in preparing some of his celebrated political essays. Paine was in America when Dr. Franklin returned from France, and often consulted him respecting his private affairs; and, when he went to Europe with his model of a newly invented bridge, in which he thought he had made essential improvements upon former inventions in the art of building bridges, Dr. Franklin gave him letters of introduction to the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, M. le Veil lard, and some of his other friends in Paris. It may be added, moreover, that the remarks in the above letter are strictly applicable to the deistical writings, which Paine afterwards published.
Vol. x. 36 x*
be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.
But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.
I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours,
FROM RICHARD PRICE TO B. FRANKLIN.
Newington Green, 26 January, 1787.
Your letter by Mr. Nicklin gave me great pleasure. I know your time and attention must be much engaged by a variety of important business, and therefore every line I receive from you I must reckon a greater favor than I have reason to expect. Since the reception of your letter, I have heard by Mr. Vaughan, that you continue well, and Dr. Rush has informed me, that you think you have received benefit from the remedy recommended in Dr. Faulkner's book. Such accounts cannot but be agreeable to me, and it is my ardent wish, that your comfort and usefulness may be continued as long as possible. I have myself been a great sufferer; I mean, by the loss of Mrs. Price, who died of the palsy in September last, after a long period of languor and decrepitude. This has made me feel tike a forsaken creature, and shocked my spirits sadly.
We have an acquisition here by the arrival of Mrs. Vaughan and her daughters, and we hope Mr. Vaughan will not stay long after them. I return you many thanks for your intention to send me the second volume of the Transactions of the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia; but, through some mistake, I have not yet received it. The value of it is, I find, much increased by your communications.
I have sent to you by Dr. White a volume of Sermons, which I have just published. I could almost wish you would not look into them. I mean to serve the cause of truth and virtue by them, but I may be much mistaken, and I cannot but fear they are not sufficiently fit for your perusal. I have been happy in the conversation of Dr. White and Dr. Provost; and, as it seems the members of the Episcopal Church in America must have bishops, I am glad they have directed their views to gentlemen so worthy and liberal I find there are great disorders in some of the United States; but you comfort me by saying they will all end wefl. Your advice and counsels will, I doubt not, contribute much to this end. That you may enjoy this and every other satisfaction, that can make the remainder of a life, that will be one of the most distinguished in future annals, honorable and happy, is, my dear friend, the wish of yours most gratefully and affectionately,
P. S. Baron Maseres informs me, that in a letter to him you gave an intimation of a method of paying off the national debt, which you thought easier and cheaper than any method that has been yet proposed. He has desired me to present his respects to you, and to tell you, that he wishes to know what this method is. You did, he says, encourage him in your letter, to expect that you would give him this information. The advertisement of the expected return of a comet next year, I convey to you by the desire of Dr. Maskelyne.
FROM JOHN ADAMS TO B. FRANKLIN.
Sending a Copy of his Work on the Constitutions and Government of the United States.
Grosvenor Square, 27 January, 1787.
Dr. White has been so obliging to me as to take with
him to America two volumes, one for your Excellency
and one for the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, of
a production of mine, suggested by the late popular