Abbildungen der Seite

merce, or to your constitution, I shall be much obliged to you, if you will take advantage of some opportunity to send it to me.

Mr. Paine came to me in due time. He may have written you word, that I had restored to him his iron bridge, which our revenue officers had seized at Havre as contraband goods, or subject to duties; but it appeared on examination, that the custom-house had really neither prohibited nor taxed bridges, which have hitherto been built only in the very places where they were to be used. The custom-house officers had not foreseen, that it might one day happen, that a bridge should be constructed in Philadelphia or New York, to be thrown over the Seine at Paris. They are now aware of the fact, and will not forget this article in the new tariff. They must also enter houses on the list, if you acquire the habit of making them for Europeans.

Yesterday the Parliament of Paris, (urged for three weeks and more to record a stamp tax, with a new land tax, in order, by new financial resources, to cover the enormous deficit, which M. de Calonne had suffered to take place in our affairs,) moved and seemed to adhere to the following resolution ; “That this Parliament has not the power nor right to accept and sanction new imposts; that this right pertains only to the States-General of the kingdom, which the King is besought to convoke immediately.” What an important change you here see in the maxims of our sovereign courts, which have, at least for several ages, exercised and maintained the right, which they seem now to renounce. The most acute politicians can foresee but imperfectly to what this demand, and an Assembly of the States-General, should it take place, will lead. The event alone can enlighten us on this point. It may be seen by this fact, as well as by many others, that a great change has taken place in the ideas, which nations have entertained of governments, and the relations between the governing and the governed parties. I must still believe, in accordance with my principles concerning the perfectibility of the human race, that every thing is for the best, to which we are ever tending, though we sometimes seem to recede from it.

We do not hear often enough from Mr. Franklin, your grandson. I wish to know how he likes Philadelphia, and whether he does us the honor to feel any regrets on our behalf; I mean, as respects our way of life; for, as regards ourselves individually, he would be very ungrateful not to do so, since he owes some remembrance to persons, who have known both his talents and his amiable character, and have appreciated them. I beg that he will rank me in this number, and accept my compliments. Monsieur and Madame Marmontel, and all my family, desire to be remembered to you, and charge me to express to you the pleasure they feel in the good news you gave us of your health and situation. I shall never forget the happiness I have enjoyed in knowing you, and seeing you intimately. I write to you from Auteuil, seated in your arm-chair, on which I have had engraved Benjamin Franklin hîc sedebat, and having by my side the little bureau, which you bequeathed to me at parting, with a drawer full of nails to gratify the love of nailing and hammering, which I possess in common with you. But, believe me, I have no need of all these helps to cherish your endeared remembrance, and to love you, “Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos reget artus."




Society for abolishing the Slave Trade. Spirit of Lib

erty beginning to prevail in Europe as a Consequence of the American War.

Hackney, 26 September, 1787. MY DEAR FRIEND, I am very happy when I think of the encouragement which you have given me to address you under this appellation. Your friendship I reckon indeed one of the distinctions of my life. I frequently receive great pleasure from the accounts of you, which Dr. Rush and Mr. Vaughan send me. But I receive much greater pleasure from seeing your own hand.

I have lately been favored with two letters, which have given me this pleasure, the last of which acquaints me, that my name has been added to the number of the corresponding members of the Pennsylvania Society for Abolishing Negro Slavery, of which you are president, and also brought me a pamphlet containing the constitution and the laws of Pennsylvania, which relate to the object of the Society. I hope you and the Society will accept my thanks, and believe that I am truly sensible of the honor done me. As for any services I can do, they are indeed but small; for I find, that, far from possessing, in the decline of life, your vigor of body and mind, every kind of business is becoming more and more an incumbrance to me. At the same time, the calls of business increase upon me, as you will learn in some measure from the Report at the end of the Discourse, which you will receive with this letter.

A similar institution to yours, for abolishing negro slavery, is just formed in London, and I have been

desired to make one of the acting committee, but I have begged to be excused. I have sent you some of their papers. I need not say how earnestly I wish success to such institutions. Something, perhaps, will be done with this view by the convention of delegates.* This convention, consisting of many of the first men, in respect of wisdom and influence, in the United States, must be a most august and venerable assembly. May God guide their deliberations. The happiness of the world depends, in some degree, on the result. I am waiting with patience for an account of it.

In this part of the world there is a spirit rising, which must in time produce great effects. I refer principally to what is now passing in Holland, Brabant, and France. This spirit originated in America; and, should it appear, that it has there terminated in a state of society more favorable to peace, virtue, science, and liberty, and consequently to human happiness and dig. nity, than has ever yet been known, infinite good will be done. Indeed, a general fermentation seems to be taking place through Europe. In consequence of the attention created by the American war, and the dissemination of writings explaining the nature and end of civil government, the minds of men are becoming more enlightened; and the silly despots of the world are likely to be forced to respect human rights, and to take care not to govern too much, lest they should not govern at all.

You are acquainted with Mr. Paradise. He has sailed with his family for Virginia, where he is the proprietor of a good estate. His accomplishments as a

• Alluding to the convention for forming the Constitution of the United States.


scholar, and his excellent principles as a citizen, must make him useful there, and I hope also happy.*

During the course of last spring and summer, I frequently feared that my health was declining. In order to recover it, I have spent near two months in seabathing and dissipation at East Bourne in Sussex; and I hope that I have gained some recruit of spirits for another winter. Be so good as to deliver my kind respects to Mr. Vaughan, when you see him. I am much in his debt for two agreeable letters, and I hope soon to write to him. He is, I doubt not, useful where he is; but, as we have Mrs. Vaughan with us, we are in hopes he will not be long absent.

Last night the Gazette told us, that Turkey has declared war against Russia. It has also told us, that the King of Prussia, having entered Holland with his army and taken possession of Utrecht and many other towns, has reinstated the Stadtholder in all his honors and powers; but, at the same time, our preparations for war by pressing sailors, filling up regiments, and creating admirals, show that our ministers expect, that the French will interpose, and that they are determined to join the King of Prussia in supporting the Stadtholder against his constituents. With all the best wishes, I am most affectionately yours. Dodatne


* This Mr. Paradise was the particular friend of Sir William Jones, and the same that visited Paris with him, as heretofore mentioned. See Vol. VIII. p. 366.

« ZurückWeiter »