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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 /aire."
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, B. Franklin.
FROM COUNT DE CAMPOMANES TO B. FRANKLIN.
American Philosophical Society. — Spanish and
Madrid, 24 May, 1787.
Sir, 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 Espanol, 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.
FROM THOMAS PAINE TO B. FRANKLIN.
Journey in France. — Paris. — Fireworks. — Model of a Bridge.
Paris, 22 June, 1787.
My Dear Sir,
We left New York on the 26th of April, and arrived at Havre de Grace on the 26th of May. I set off in company with M. Gernon, a French gentleman, passenger from America, for Paris. I stayed one day at Rouen, to take a view of the place from whence the kings of England date their origin. There are yet some remains of the Palace of the Dukes of Normandy; but the Parliament House has such a resemblance to Westminster Hall, I mean the great hall as you enter, that, had I not known I had been in Normandy, I might have supposed myself at London. The breadth of the room is nearly seventy feet, and tlie roof is constructed exactly in the manner of that at Westminster. The country from Havre to Rouen is the richest I ever saw. The crops are abundant, and the cultivation in nice and beautiful order. Every thing appeared to be in fullness; the people very stout, the women exceedingly fair, and the horses of a vast size and very fat. I saw several at Havre that were seventeen hands high. I deposited the model of the bridge at the customhouse, the superintendent of which undertook to send it to Paris as soon as an order should be procured for that purpose, as he did not think himself authorized to do it without, it being an imported article.
I arrived at Paris on the 30th May, and the next day began delivering the letters you were so kind as to honor me with. My reception here, in consequence of them, has been abundantly cordial and friendly. I have received visits and invitations from all who were in town. The Duke de Rochefoucauld and General Chastellux are in the country. I dined yesterday with an old friend of yours, M. Malesherbes, who is of the new Council of Finances, and who received me with a heartiness of friendship. It must have been a very strong attachment to America, that drew you from this country, for your friends are very numerous and very affectionate.
M. Le Roy has been most attentively kind to me. As he speaks English, there is scarcely a day passes without an interview. He took me a few days ago to see an old friend of yours, M. Buffon; but we were informed by the servant, that he was very ill, and under the operation of medicine, on which we deferred our intention. In the evening he sent me an invitation to see an exhibition of fireworks of a new kind, made of inflammable air. It was done as an experiment. The exhibition was in a room. The performer had two large bladders of air, one under each arm, with pipes from them communicating with the figures to be represented; such as suns, moons, stars, flowers, architecture, and figures of moving machinery. By compressing the bladders and mixing the air, he produced the most beautiful and sudden transitions of light and colors, increased or diminished the motion, and exhibited the most pleasing scene of that kind, that can be imagined.
The model from Havre is not yet arrived, but a letter received from thence yesterday informs me, that it is on the road, and will be here in about eight days. There is a great curiosity here to see it, as bridges have lately been a capital subject. A new bridge is begun over the Seine, opposite the Palais de Bourbon and the Place de Louis Quinze. It is about the breadth