Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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

.

ployment, for I think agriculture the most honorable, because the most independent, of all professions. But I believe he hankers a little after Paris, or some other of the polished cities of Europe, thinking the society there preferable to what he meets with in the woods of Ancocas; as it certainly is. If he was now here, he would undoubtedly join with me and the rest of my family, who are much flattered by your remembrance of them, in best wishes for your health and prosperity, and that of your whole amiable fireside. You will allow an old friend of fourscore to say he loves your wife, when he adds, and children, and prays God to bless them all. Adieu ; and believe me ever yours most affectionately,

B. FRANKLIN.

TO THE ABBÉ MORELLET.

Personal Circumstances. - Freedom of Commerce. Condition of the United States.

Philadelphia, 22 April, 1787. MY VERY DEAR FRIEND, I received, though long after they were written, your very agreeable favors of October 30th, 1785, and February 9th, 1786,* with the pieces enclosed, productions of the Auteuil | Academy of Belles Lettres. Your kind and friendly wishes and congratulations are extremely obliging. It gives me an infinite pleasure to find, that I still retain a favorable place in the remembrance of the worthy and the good, whose delightful and instructive society I had the happiness of enjoying while I resided in France.

* See "Memoires de l'Abbé Morellet," Tom. I. p. 298.

+ The residence of Madame Helvetius, with whom the Abbé Morellet, Cabanis, La Roche, and other literary friends passed much of their time. - W. T. F.

But, though I could not leave that dear nation without regret, I certainly did right in coming home. I am here in my niche in my own house, in the bosom of my family, my daughter and grandchildren all about me, among my old friends, or the sons of my friends, who equally respect me; and who all speak and understand the same language with me; and you know, that, if a man desires to be useful by the exercise of his mental faculties, he loses half their force when in a foreign country, where he can only express himself in a language with which he is not well acquainted. In short, I enjoy here every opportunity of doing good, and every thing else I could wish for, except repose; and that I may soon expect, either by the cessation of my office, which cannot last more than three years, or by ceasing to live.

I am of the same opinion with you, respecting the freedom of commerce, especially in countries where direct taxes are practicable. This will be our case in time, when our wide-extended country fills up with inhabitants. But at present they are so widely settled, often five or six miles distant from one another in the back country, that the collection of a direct tax is almost impossible, the trouble of the collectors' going from house to house amounting to more than the value of the tax. Nothing can be better expressed than your sentiments are on this point, where you prefer liberty of trading, cultivating, manufacturing, &c., even to civil liberty, this being affected but rarely, the other every hour. Our debt occasioned by the war being heavy, we are under the necessity of using imposts, and every method we can think of, to assist in raising a revenue to discharge it; but in sentiment we are well disposed to abolish duties on importation, as soon as we possibly can afford to do so.

VOL. X.

[ocr errors]

N

Whatever may be reported by the English in Europe, you may be assured, that our people are almost unanimous in being satisfied with the Revolution. Their unbounded respect for all who were principally concerned in it, whether as warriors or statesmen, and the enthusiastic joy with which the day of the declaration of independence is everywhere annually celebrated, are indubitable proofs of this truth. In one or two of the States there have been some discontents on partial and local subjects; these may have been fomented, as the accounts of them are exaggerated, by our ancient enemies; but they are now nearly suppressed, and the rest of the States enjoy peace and good order, and flourish amazingly. The crops have been good for several years past, the price of country produce high, from foreign demand, and it fetches ready money; rents are high in our towns, which increase fast by new buildings; laborers and artisans have high wages well paid, and vast tracts of new land are continually clearing and rendered fit for cultivation.

The pains you have taken to translate the congratulatory addresses, which I received on my arrival, is a fresh proof of the continuance of your friendship for me, which has afforded me as much satisfaction as the addresses themselves, and you will readily believe, that for me this is not saying little ; for this welcome of my fellow citizens has far surpassed my hopes. Popular favor, not the most constant thing in the world, stands by me. My election to the presidency for the second year was unanimous. Will this disposition continue the same for the third ? Nothing is more doubtful. A man, who holds a high office, finds himself so often exposed to the danger of disobliging some one in the fulfilment of his duty, that the resentment of those, whom he has thus offended, being greater than

the gratitude of those whom he has served, it almost always happens, that, while he is violently attacked, he is feebly defended. You will not be surprised, then, if you learn, that I have not closed my political career with the same éclat, with which it commenced.

I am sorry for what you tell me of the indisposition you have experienced. I sometinies wonder, that Providence does not protect the good from all evil and from every suffering. This should be so in the best of worlds; and, since it is not so, I am piously led to believe, that, if our world is not indeed the best, we must lay the blame on the bad quality of the materials of which it is made. I am, my dear friend, with sincere esteem and affection, ever yours,

B. FRANKLIN.

FROM MATHER BYLES TO B. FRANKLIN.

Boston, 14 May, 1787. SIR, It is long since I had the pleasure of writing to you by Mr. Edward Church, to thank you for your friendly mention of me in a letter, that I find was transmitted to the University of Aberdeen. I doubt whether you ever received it; but, under great weakness by old age and a palsy, I seize this opportunity of employing my daughter to repeat the thanks, which I aimed to express in that letter. Your Excellency is now the man, that I early expected to see you. I congratulate my country upon her having produced a Franklin, and can only add, I wish to meet you where complete felicity and we shall be for ever united. I am, my dear and early friend, your most affectionate and humble servant,

M. BYLES.

« ZurückWeiter »