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many terrible diseases the human body is liable to, I comfort myself, that only three incurable ones have fallen to my share, viz. the gout, the stone, and old age; and that these have not yet deprived me of my natural cheerfulness, my delight in books, and enjoyment of social conversation.
I am glad to hear, that Mr. Fitzmaurice is married, and has an amiable lady and children. It is a better plan than that he once proposed, of getting Mrs. Wright to make him a wax-work wife to sit at the head of his table. For after all, wedlock is the natural state of man. A bachelor is not a complete human being. He is like the odd half of a pair of scissors, which has not yet found its fellow, and therefore is not even half so useful as they might be together.
I hardly know which to admire most; the wonderful discoveries made by Herschel, or the indefatigable ingenuity by which he has been enabled to make them. Let us hope, my friend, that, when free from these bodily embarrassments, we may roam together through some of the systems he has explored, conducted by some of our old companions already acquainted with them. Hawkesworth will enliven our progress with his cheerful, sensible converse, and Stanley accompany the music of the spheres.
Mr. Watmaugh tells me, for I immediately inquired after her, that your daughter is alive and well. I remember her a most promising and beautiful child, and therefore do not wonder, that she is grown, as he says, a fine woman. God bless her and you, my dear friend, and every thing that pertains to you, is the sincere prayer of yours most affectionately,
in his eighty-second year. VOL. X.
TO GEORGE WHATLEY.
United States Bank. — Commercial Treaty. — Scheme for Coining. - Dr. Riley.
Philadelphia, 18 May, 1787. I received duly my good old friend's letter of the 19th of February. I thank you much for your notes on banks; they are just and solid, as far as I can judge of them. Our bank here has met with great opposition, partly from envy, and partly from those who wish an emission of more paper money, which they think the bank influence prevents. But it has stood all attacks, and went on well, notwithstanding the Assembly repealed its charter. A new Assembly has restored it; and the management is so prudent, that I have no doubt of its continuing to go on well. The dividend has never been less than six per cent, nor will that be augmented for some time, as the surplus profit is reserved to face accidents. The dividend of eleven per cent, which was once made, was from a circumstance scarce avoidable. A new company was proposed; and prevented only by admitting a number of new partners. As many of the first set were averse to this, and chose to withdraw, it was necessary to settle their accounts; so all were adjusted, the profits shared that had been accumulated, and the new and old proprietors jointly began on a new and equal footing. Their notes are always instantly paid on demand, and pass on all occasions as readily as silver, because they will always produce silver.
Your medallion is in good company; it is placed with those of Lord Chatham, Lord Camden, Marquis of Rockingham, Sir George Saville, and some others, who honored me with a show of friendly regard, when
in England. I believe I have thanked you for it, but I thank you again.
I believe, with you, that if our Plenipo is desirous of concluding a treaty of commerce, he may need patience. If I were in his place, and not otherwise instructed, I should be apt to say, “Take your own time, gentlemen. If the treaty cannot be made as much to your advantage as to ours, don't make it. I am sure the want of it is not more to our disadvantage than to yours. Let the merchants on both sides treat with one another. Laissez-les faire."
I have never considered attentively the Congress's scheme for coining, and I have it not now at hand, so that at present I can say nothing to it. The chief uses of coining seem to be the ascertaining the fineness of the metals, and saving the time that would otherwise be spent in weighing to ascertain the quality. But the convenience of fixed values to pieces is so great, as to force the currency of some whose stamp is worn off, that should have assured their fineness, and which are evidently not of half their due weight; the case at present with the sixpences in England; which, one with another, do not weigh threepence.
You are now seventy-eight, and I am eighty-two; you tread fast upon my heels; but, though you have more strength and spirit, you cannot come up with me till I stop, which must now be soon; for I am grown so old as to have buried most of the friends of my youth, and I now often hear persons whom I knew when children, called old Mr. such-a-one, to distinguish them from their sons now men grown and in business; so that, by living twelve years beyond David's period, I seem to have intruded myself into the company of posterity, when I ought to have been abed and asleep. Yet, had I gone at seventy, it would have cut off twelve of the most active years of my life, employed too in matters of the greatest importance; but whether I have been doing good or mischief is for time to discover. I only know that I intended well, and I hope all will end well.
Be so good as to present my affectionate respects to Dr. Riley. I am under great obligations to him, and shall write to him shortly. It will be a pleasure to him to know, that my malady does not grow sensibly worse, and that is a great point; for it has always been so tolerable, as not to prevent my enjoying the pleasures of society, and being cheerful in conversation. I owe this in a great measure to his good counsels. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours most affectionately,
FROM COUNT DE CAMPOMANES TO B. FRANKLIN.
Madrid, 24 May, 1787.
I have received your letter of the 4th of December, directed to me as a member of the American Philosophical Society, and accompanied by the second volume of the Transactions of the Society, containing the statutes of that body, a list of its members, and various experiments, observations, and writings chiefly relative to the natural and exact sciences. For this mark of attention I am much indebted to your Excellency, as well as to our Society, in whose works I now feel a personal interest, since they have done me the honor to make me one of their body. In these writings also
I discover so much judgment, sound criticism, and intelligence, in regard to the subjects on which they treat, that I am persuaded they will contribute effectually to extend and promote useful knowledge, the laudable object for which our Society was instituted ; and its labors, being renewed by the return of peace, may soon rival those of the most ancient and celebrated institutions of a similar kind in Europe.
In the midst of my public duties at the head of the Council, which station I have held for the last three years, the Society and its illustrious President will always find me ready to contribute to its service, as far as the circumstances of my situation will admit, and as often as subjects occur, which may appear to answer the ends in view.
With the books, which our Academy of History has sent to your Excellency, is the first volume of the Diccionario Español, Latino-Arabigo, printed under my direction. I have prefixed to it a discourse on the utility of the study of the Arabic language, particularly for Spaniards; a consideration, which induced me to devote to the study of this language, in my youth, such leisure as I could spare from the business of my profession. The remaining volumes are in press, and I shall take care to forward them as soon as they are published. Your letter, with the gift accompanying it, has renewed the sentiments of gratitude which I entertained for your former favors, and the esteem and friendship which I have always expressed for your character. May your life be prolonged many and happy years. I am, &c.
Count DE CAMPOMANES.