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TO ALEXANDER SMALL.
American Taxation. — New Form of Prayer. — Amer
Philadelphia, 28 September, 1787. DEAR SIR, I received your kind letter of June 6th, 1786, and I answered it, though long after the receipt. I do not perceive by your second favor of July, 1787, that my answer had then come to hand, but hope it may since that time.
I have not lost any of the principles of public economy you once knew me possessed of; but, to get the bad customs of a country changed, and new ones, though better, introduced, it is necessary first to remove the prejudices of the people, enlighten their ignorance, and convince them that their interest will be promoted by the proposed changes; and this is not the work of a day. Our legislators are all land-holders; and they are not yet persuaded, that all taxes are finally paid by the land. Besides, our country is so sparsely settled, the habitations, particularly in the back countries, being perhaps five or six miles distant from each other, that the time and labor of the collector in going from house to house, and being obliged to call often before he can recover the tax, amounts to more than the tax is worth, and therefore we have been forced into the mode of indirect taxes, that is, duties on importation of goods, and excises.
I have made no attempt to introduce the Form of Prayer here, which you and good Mrs. Baldwin do me the honor to approve. The things of this world take up too much of my time, of which indeed I have too little left, to undertake any thing like a reformation
in matters of religion. When we can sow good seed, we should however do it, and wait, when we can do no better, with patience nature's time, for their sprouting. Some lie many years in the ground, and at length certain favorable seasons or circumstances bring them forth with vigorous shoots and plentiful productions.
Had I been at home as you wish, soon after the peace, I might possibly have mitigated some of the severities against the royalists, believing, as I do, that fear and error, rather than malice, occasioned their desertion of their country's cause, and the adoption of the King's. The public resentment against them is now so far abated, that none who ask leave to return are refused, and many of them now live among us much at their ease. As to the restoration of confiscated estates, it is an operation that none of our politicians have as yet ventured to propose. They are a sort of people, that love to fortify themselves in their projects by precedent. Perhaps they wait to see your government restore the forfeited estates in Scotland to the Scotch, those in Ireland to the Irish, and those in England to the Welch.
I am glad that the distressed exiles, who remain with you, have received, or are likely to receive, some compensation for their losses, for I commiserate their situation. It was clearly incumbent on the King to indemnify those he had seduced by his proclamations ; but it seems not so clearly consistent with the wisdom of Parliament to resolve doing it for him. If some mad King should think fit, in a freak, to make war upon his subjects of Scotland, or upon those of England, by the help of Scotland and Ireland, as the Stuarts did, may he not encourage followers by the precedent of these parliamentary gratuities, and thus set his subjects to cutting one another's throats, first with the
hope of sharing in confiscations, and then with that of compensation in case of disappointment? The council of brutes without a fable were aware of this. Lest that fable may perhaps not have fallen in your way, I enclose a copy of it.
Your commercial treaty with France seems to show a growing improvement in the sentiments of both nations in the economical science. All Europe might be a great deal happier with a little more understanding. We in America have lately hrad a convention for framing a new constitution. Enclosed I send you the result of their deliberations. Whether it will be generally acceptable and carried into execution is yet to be seen; but present appearances are in its favor.
I am always glad to hear from you, and of your welfare. I remember with pleasure the happy days we have spent together. Adieu, and believe me ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
TO MRS. JANE MECOM.
· Philadelphia, 4 November, 1787. DEAR SISTER, I received a kind letter from you lately, which gave me the pleasure of being informed that you were well. I am glad you have made the provision against the winter, which I mentioned to you. Your bill is honored. It is impossible for me always to guess what you may want, and I hope, therefore, that you will never be shy in letting me know wherein I can help to make your life more comfortable. *
* Among Dr. Franklin's papers I have found a large number of letters from his sister, extending through a period of nearly forty years. They are confined chiefly to family or private affairs, but they are uniformly VOL. X.
It was my intention to decline serving another year as President, that I might be at liberty to take a trip to Boston in the spring; but I submit to the unanimous voice of my country, which has again placed me in the chair. I have now been upwards of fifty years employed in public offices. When I informed your good friend Dr. Cooper, that I was ordered to France, being then seventy years old, and observed, that the public, having as it were eaten my flesh, seemed now resolved to pick my bones, he replied that he approved their taste, for that the nearer the bone the sweeter the meat. I must own, that it is no small pleasure to me, and I suppose it will give my sister pleasure, that, after such a long trial of me, I should be elected a third time by my fellow citizens, without a dissenting vote but my own, to fill the most honorable post in their power to bestow. This universal and unbounded con
marked with strong good sense, and the warmest attachment to her brother. She was left a widow in early life, with very small means of support; and she was unfortunate in the sickness and loss of some of her children, and the ill success of others. Her circumstances were made comfortable by the constant kindness and generous care of her brother, who regularly remitted to her money, and occasionally such other things as he knew she wanted. A part of the time she resided with a married daughter, but she had a home of her own in a house that belonged to Dr. Franklin in Boston. In her letters to her brother, she repeatedly expresses her gratitude for his watchfulness over her, and for his bounty. Soon after his return from France, she wrote; “I believe I did not tell you how thankfully I received your gift; but be assured, my dear brother, that there is not a day passes in which my heart does not overflow with gratitude to you, and adoration to the Supreme Benefactor of all mankind, who puts it in your power, not only to make me as happy as humanity can expect to be, but enables you to diffuse your benefits so widely. I know it is your judgment, as well as practice, that kindness of heart should be expressed by deeds; but, in my opinion, words should not be excluded, (though I somctimes neglect them,) especially when there is no opportunity to perform deeds." Similar sentiments might be extracted from many of her letters. She was fond of reading, and frequently consulted her brother as to the most suitable books, which he took pains either to recommend or furnish.
fidence of a whole people flatters my vanity much more than a peerage could do.
“Hung o'er with ribands and stuck round with strings," may give nominal, but not real honors.
This family are all well, as I also am, thanks to God. We join in best wishes for you and yours. And I am ever, my dear sister, your affectionate brother,
TO COUNT DE BUFFON.
Philadelphia, 19 November, 1787. DEAR SIR, I am honored by your letter, desiring to know by what means I am relieved in a disorder, with which you are also unfortunately afflicted. I have tried all the noted prescriptions for diminishing the stone without perceiving any good effect. But observing temperance in eating, avoiding wine and cider, and using daily the dumb bell, which exercises the upper part of the body without much moving the parts in contact with the stone, I think I have prevented its increase.
As the roughness of the stone lacerates a little the neck of the bladder, I find, that, when the urine happens to be sharp, I have much pain in making water and frequent urgencies. For relief under this circumstance, I take, going to bed, the bigness of a pigeon's egg of jelly of blackberries. The receipt for making it is enclosed. While I continue to do this every night, I am generally easy the day following, making water pretty freely, and with long intervals. I wish most sincerely that this simple remedy may have the same happy effect with you. Perhaps current jelly, or the jelly of apples or of raspberries, may be equally ser