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There seems to be but little thought at present in the particular States, of mending their particular constitutions; but the grand Federal Constitution * is generally blamed as not having given sufficient powers to Congress, the federal head. A convention is therefore appointed to revise that constitution, and propose a better. You will see by the enclosed paper, that your friend is to be one in that business, though he doubts his malady may not permit his giving constant attendance. I am glad to see, that you are named as one of a General Assembly to be convened in France. I flatter myself, that great good may accrue to that dear nation from the deliberations of such an assembly. I pray God to give it his blessing.
I sympathize with you and the family most sincerely, in the great loss sustained by the decease of that excellent woman.t It must be indeed a heavy one. My best wishes attend those that remain, and that the happiness of your sweet domestic society may long continue without such another interruption.
I send herewith a volume of the Transactions of our Philosophical Society for you, another for M. de Condorcet, and a third for the Academy. The war had interrupted our attempts to improve ourselves in scientific matters, but we now begin to resume them.
The bearer of this is Mr. Paine, the author of a famous piece, entitled Common Sense, published here with great effect on the minds of the people at the beginning of the Revolution. He is an ingenious, honest man; and as such I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities. He carries with him the model of a bridge of a new construction, his own invention, concerning
which I intended to have recommended him to M. Pey
• The Old Confederation.
t The Duchess d'Enrille, mother of the Duke de la Rochefoucauld. — W. T. F.
ronnet, but I hear he is no more. You can easily procure Mr. Paine a sight of the models and drawings of the collection appertaining to the Pouts et Chausstes; they must afford him useful lights on the subject. We want a bridge over our river Schuylkill, and have no artist here regularly bred to that kind of architecture.
My grandsons are very sensible of the honor of your remembrance, and desire me to present their respects. With the most sincere and perfect esteem and attachment, I am ever, my dear friend, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE CHASTELLUX.
His Journal of Travels.—Assembly of Notables.
Philadelphia, 17 April, 1787.
Your most pleasing letter, accompanied by the invaluable present of your Journal.* and translation of Colonel Humphreys's poem, came to hand but lately, though dated in June last . I believe they have been in the West Indies. They have given me a great deal of pleasure in the perusal, as every thing of yours always did. The portrait you have made of our country and people is what in painting is called a handsome likeness, for which we are much obliged to you. We shall be the better for it, if we endeavour to merit what you kindly say in our favor, and to correct what you justly censure. I am told the Journal is translated into English, and printed in one of the States, I know not which, not having seen the translation.
The newspapers tell us, that you are about to have an Assembly of Notables, to consult on improvements of your government . It is somewhat singular, that we should be engaged in the same project here at the same time; but so it is, and a convention for the purpose of revising and amending our federal constitution is to meet at this place next month. I hope both assemblies will be blessed with success, and that their deliberations and counsels may promote the happiness of both nations.
* Journal of Travels in America.
In the State of Pennsylvania, government, notwithstanding our parties, goes on at present very smoothly, so that I have much less trouble in my station than was expected. Massachusetts has lately been disturbed by some disorderly people; but they are now quelled. The rest of the States go on pretty well, except some dissensions in Rhode Island and Maryland respecting paper money. Mr. Paine, whom you know, and who undertakes to deliver this letter to you, can give you full information of our affairs, and therefore I need not enlarge upon them. I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities. I have fulfilled all your commissions to the ladies here, who are much flattered by your kind remembrance of them. My family job in every sentiment of esteem and respect with, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
TO MESSRS. THE ABBES CHALtTT AND ARNAUD.
Philadelphia, 17 April, 1787.
Your reflections on our situation, compared with that of many nations of Europe, are very sensible and just. Let me add, that only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.
Our public affairs go on as well as can reasonably
Vol. x. 38
be expected, after so great an overturning. We have had some disorders in different parts of the country, but we arrange them as they arise, and are daily mending and improving; so that I have no doubt but all will come right in time. Yours,
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Attempts of the Enemies of America to disparage that Country. — Constitutions of the States. — Indian Vocabularies.
Philadelphia, 17 April, 1787,
I received the kind letter you did me the honor of writing, in February, 1786. The indolence of old age, and the perpetual teasing of too much business, have made me so bad a correspondent, that I have hardly written a letter to any friend in Europe during the last twelvemonth; but, as I have always a pleasure in hearing from them, which I cannot expect will be continued if I do not write to them, I again take up my pen, and begin with those whose correspondence is of the greatest value; among which I reckon that of the Marquis de Lafayette.
I was glad to hear of your safe return to Paris, after so long and fatiguing a journey. That is the place where your enlightened zeal for the welfare of our country can employ itself most to our advantage, and I know it is always at work and indefatigable. Our enemies are, as you observe, very industrious in depreciating our national character. Their abuse sometimes provokes me, and I am almost ready to retaliate; but I have held my hand, though there is abundant room for recrimination; because I would do nothing that might hasten another quarrel by exasperating those, who are still sore from their late disgraces. Perhaps it may be best, that they should please themselves with fancying us weak, and poor, and divided, and friendless; they may then not be jealous of our growing strength, which, since the peace, does really make rapid progress, and may be less intent on interrupting it.
I do not wonder that the Germans, who know little of free constitutions, should be ready to suppose that such cannot support themselves. We think they may, and we hope to prove it. That there should be faults in our first sketches or plans of government is not surprising; rather, considering the times, and the circumstances under which they were formed, it is surprising that the faults are so few. Those in the general confederating articles are now about to be considered in a convention called for that express purpose; these will indeed be the most difficult to rectify. Those of particular States will undoubtedly be rectified, as their inconveniences shall by experience be made manifest. And, whatever difference of sentiment there may be among us respecting particular regulations, the enthusiastic rejoicings, with which the day of declared independence is annually celebrated, demonstrate the universal satisfaction of the people with the Revolution and its grand principles.
I enclose the vocabulary you sent me, with the words of the Shawanese and Delaware -languages, which Colonel Harmar has procured for me. He is promised one more complete, which I shall send you as soon as it comes to my hands.
My grandson, whom you so kindly inquire after, is at his estate in the Jerseys, and amuses himself with cultivating his lands. I wish he would seriously make a business of it, and renounce all thoughts of public em