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pleasure in the society of my friends and books, and much more in the prosperity of my country, concerning which your people are continually deceiving themselves.
I am glad the improvement of the Book of Common Prayer* has met with your approbation, and that of good Mrs. Baldwin. It is not yet, that I know of, received in public practice anywhere ; but, as it is said that good motions never die, perhaps in time it may be found useful.
I read with pleasure the account you gave of the flourishing state of your commerce and manufactures, and of the plenty you have of resources to carry the nation through all its difficulties. You have one of the finest countries in the world, and, if you can be cured of the folly of making war for trade, (in which wars more has been always expended than the profits of any trade can compensate,) you may make it one of the happiest. Make the best of your own natural advantages, instead of endeavouring to diminish those of other nations, and there is no doubt but that you may yet prosper and flourish. Your beginning to consider France no longer as a natural enemy, is a mark of progress in the good sense of the nation, of which posterity will find the benefit, in the rarity of wars, the diminution of taxes, and increase of riches.
As to the refugees, whom you think we were so impolitic in rejecting, I do not find that they are missed here, or that anybody regrets their absence. And certainly they must be happier where they are, under the government they admire; and be better received among a people, whose cause they espoused and fought for, than among those who cannot so soon have forgotten the destruction of their habitations, and the spilt blood of their dearest friends and near relations.
Dr. Franklin's enemies in Congress made themselves busy in propagating a report, that he was a defaulter to the amount of one million of livres, and thus gave currency to a most unjust and injurious suspicion against him throughout the country.
* See the letter to Granville Sharp, above, p. 205.
I often think with great pleasure on the happy days I passed in England with my and your learned and ingenious friends, who have left us to join the majority in the world of spirits. Every one of them now knows more than all of us they have left behind. It is to me a comfortable reflection, that, since we must live for ever in a future state, there is a sufficient stock of amusement in reserve for us, to be found in constantly learning something new to eternity, the present quantity of human ignorance infinitely exceeding that of human knowledge. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me, in whatever world, yours most affectionately,
B. FRANKLIN, in his eighty-second year.
TO NEVIL MASKELYNE.
Philadelphia, 29 March, 1787. REVEREND AND DEAR SIR, The writer of the enclosed paper concerning the variation of the compass, and the important use which he supposes may be made of that variation, not being satisfied with the judgment of some of our principal mathematicians here, has earnestly desired me to communicate it to some of my learned friends in Europe.* I know no one better acquainted with the subject than yourself, and, as I cannot refuse complying with his request, I beg you will excuse my giving you this trouble, and favor me with a line expressing your
• The writer here alluded to was John Churchman, who published a work, entitled The Magnetic Atlas, in which he advanced a new theory of the variation of the compass. VOL. X.
opinion; which condescension will very much oblige, Sir, your most obedient servant,
FROM JOHN SEVIER TO B. FRANKLIN.
Concerning the New State of Franklin.
. State of Franklin, Mount Pleasant, 9 April, 1787, SIR, Permit me to introduce to your Excellency the subject of our new disputed government. In the year 1784, in the month of June, the legislature of North Carolina ceded to Congress all their claim to the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains, on conditions I make no doubt you are acquainted with, as the act was shortly after laid before Congress. The inhabitants of this country, well knowing that the Congress of the United States would accept the cession, and having no idea that North Carolina would attempt repealing the act, formed themselves into a separate and independent State by the name of Franklin.
In November following, North Carolina repealed this act of cession. In May, 1785, Congress took the several acts under their consideration, and entered into resolves respecting the same, the purport of which, I presume, you are acquainted with. The government of Franklin was carried on unmolested by North Carolina, until November, 1785, when that legislature passed an act, allowing the people in some of our counties to hold elections under certain regulations unknown to any former law; whereby a few, from disaffection and disappointment, might have it in their power to elect persons, who were to be considered the legal delegation of the people. This was done and countenanced; and at their last session, in November, 1786, they have undertaken to reassume their jurisdiction and sovereignty over the State of Franklin, notwithstanding the whole of their adherents do not exceed two or three hundred against a majority of at least seven thousand effective militia. They have, contrary to the interest of the people in two of the counties, to wit, Washington and Sullivan, by their acts removed the former places of holding courts to certain places convenient to the disaffected, as we conceive, in order that they might have a pretext to prevaricate upon.
* See the answer to this letter, Vol. VI. p. 571.
I have thus given your Excellency the outlines of our past and present situation, and beg leave to inform you, that, from your known patriotic and benevolent disposition, as also your great experience and wisdom, I am, by and with the advice of our Council of State, induced to make this application, that, should you, from this simple statement of the several occurrences, think our cause so laudable, as to give us your approbation, you would be pleased to condescend to write on the subject. And any advice, instruction, or encouragement, you may think we shall deserve, will be acknowledged in the most grateful manner.
We have been informed, that your Excellency some time since did us the honor to write to us on the subject of our State; if so, unfortunately for us, the letters have miscarried, and are not come to hand. Many safe conveyances might be had. A letter may be sent by the bearer, Captain John Woods, if he should return by the way of Franklin; or, if it were directed to the care of the Governor of Georgia, it would come safe; and perhaps by a number of people who travel to this country. I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.
TO M. LE VEILLARD.
Philadelphia, 15 April, 1787. - I am entirely of your opinion, that our independence is not quite complete, till we have discharged our public debt. This State is not behindhand in its proportion; and those, which are in arrear, are actually employed in contriving means to discharge their respective balances; but they are not all equally diligent in the business, nor equally successful. The whole will, however, be paid, I am persuaded, in a few years.
The English have not yet delivered up the posts on our frontier, agreeably to treaty. The pretence is, that our merchants here have not paid their debts. I was a little provoked when I first heard this, and I wrote some remarks upon it, which I send you.* They have been written near a year, but I have not yet published them, being unwilling to encourage any of our people, who may be able to pay, in their neglect of that duty. The paper is therefore only for your amusement, and that of our excellent friend the Duke de la Rochefoucauld.
As to my malady, concerning which you so kindly inquire, I have never had the least doubt of its being the stone; and I am sensible that it has increased ; but on the whole it does not give me more pain than when at Passy. People who live long, who will drink of the cup of life to the very bottom, must expect to meet with some of the usual dregs; and when I reflect on the number of terrible maladies human nature is subject to, I think myself favored in having to my share only the stone and gout.
You were right in conjecturing, that I wrote the re
* See The Retort Courteous, Vol. II. p. 498.