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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. Fra\klin\
TO THE ABBE 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 t 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'Abbe Morellet," Tom. I. p. 29a
f The residence of Madame Helvetius, with whom the Abbe 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. Z
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 eclat, with which it commenced.
I am sorry for what you tell me of the indisposition you have experienced. I sometimes 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,
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.
P. S. I refer you to the bearer, Mr. Pierpont, to inform you how my life, and that of my daughters, have been saved by your points.
TO THOMAS JORDAN, LONDON.
Reminiscences of his Friends.
Philadelphia, 18 May, 1787.
I received your very kind letter of February 27th, together with the cask of porter you have been so good as to send me. We have here at present what the French call une assemblcc des notables, a convention composed of some of the principal people from the several States of our confederation. They did me the honor of dining with me last Wednesday, when the cask was broached, and its contents met with the most cordial reception and universal approbation. In short, the company agreed unanimously, that it was the best porter they had ever tasted. Accept my thanks, a poor return, but all I can make at present.
Your letter reminds me of many happy days we have passed together, and the dear friends with whom we passed them; some of whom, alas! have left us, and we must regret their loss, although our Hawkesworth is become an Adventurer in more happy regions; and our Stanley * gone, "where only his own harmony can be exceeded." You give me joy in telling me, that you are "on the pinnacle of content." Without it no situation can be happy; with it, any. One means of becoming content with one's situation is the comparing it with a worse. Thus, when I consider how
* John Stanley, an eminent musician and composer, became blind at the age of two years.—W. T. F.