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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 the 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
of the Schuylkill, and the Abbé Morley tells me will cost five millions of livres. It is on piers.
Your old friend M. Terenet, the bridge architect, is yet living. I was introduced to him by M. Le Roy. He has taken a residence in the Elysian Fields for the
purpose of being near the works. He has invited me . to see his house at Paris, where all his drawings and models are. By the next packet, I will write to you respecting the opinion of the Academy on the model. I shall be obliged to Mr. Clymer to send me some Philadelphia and American news. Please to present me with much respect to your family, and to all my good friends around you. I am, dear Sir, your affectionate and obedient servant,
FROM COUNT DE BUFFON TO B. FRANKLIN.
. Au Jardin du Roi, 18 July, 1787. MY DEAR SIR, I always feel under great obligations to you, in finding that you sometimes think of me, and that, in the midst of your great occupations, you have been so thoughtful as to send me seeds and rare plants for the King's garden. I should be delighted to learn something of the progress of your Philosophical Society, of which you have been kind enough to elect me a member. I have just finished my Histoire Naturelle de Minéraux; and, if the Society does not possess this work, or if any volume is missing, I should be most happy to forward it to you.
Tell me also about your health, which is much better than mine. My pains are not very severe, but they
are almost without intermission. Your example, however, makes me hope, that they may all go off; for I understand, that since your return to America your health has been restored. I should like to hear so from yourself, and to learn if you have used any particular remedy. None of those, which I have taken thus far, has been of any avail, a mild treatment being absolutely the only one which I can bear. As your advice would certainly be useful to me, and I should have more confidence in you than in all the physicians, I should be glad to know from yourself what treatment or remedies you have found most beneficial. Accept the sentiments of strong and tender attachment, with which I shall ever remain, &c.
COUNT DE BUFFON.
P.S. I am now printing a treatise on the properties and use of the magnet, in which I show the close connexion of electricity with magnetism, and with the action of subterraneous fires in volcanoes. I shall have the honor to send it to you, as soon as it is out. My friend, M. Fanjas de Saint Fond, who has a great regard for you, desires me to present to you his respects.
FROM THE ABBÉ MORELLET TO B. FRANKLIN. Reminiscences. — Commercial Regulations, as to Imposts
and Taxation. - Affairs in France. — Madame Helvetius. - Paine's Model of an iron Bridge.
Auteuil, 31 July, 1787. MY DEAR FRIEND, I cannot express to you the pleasure your letters gave us, especially the details into which you have VOL. X.
gone respecting your health, and all that particularly concerns yourself. It is a delightful thought to us, and one on which we love to dwell, that, at the age to which you have attained, and after having pursued so honorable a career, you have found, in the bosom of your own country, all those enjoyments of which your age is susceptible. You know how much we desire their long continuance. Believe me, our happiness would be incomplete without this hope. I say this in the name of the whole Academy of Auteuil.
Since its productions have afforded you an hour's amusement, here are more of them, on which I shall be much pleased to have your opinion, and that of your friends. They are, moreover, in your own vein of pleasantry, and somewhat, I conceive, in that of Swift, with rather less of his dark misanthropy. At any rate, Dr. Jonathan and Dr. Benjamin are the models on whom I have fixed my eyes; and perhaps Nature herself has given me something of the turn of both in the art of speaking the truth in a jesting way, or without seeming to speak it. The difficulty is, that one cannot laugh outright at every thing which is truly laughable.
In the dedication of your College in the County of Lancaster, and the fine procession, and the religious ceremony, where were met together Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Catholics, Moravians, e tutti quanti, there was toleration in practice. I have translated the whole of the pamphlet which you sent me, and had it inserted in our Mercury. I think, indeed, that many readers will not perceive its scope, but it will not be thrown away upon every one. You see that I continue to diffuse, as far as is in my power, religious tolerance; but, for all this, I do not neglect the spirit of commercial liberality, and I fear, that the