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ralty; 'an old woman and fomenter of sedition' to be another of the Judges, and 'a Jeffries' Chief Justice, &lc. &c.; with 'two harpies' the Comptroller and Naval Officers, to prey upon the merchants and deprive them of their property by force of arms, &c.
"I am informed also by these papers, that your General Assembly, though the annual choice of the people, shows no regard to their rights, but from sinister views or ignorance makes laws in direct violation of the constitution, to divest the inhabitants of their property and give it to strangers and intruders; and that the Council, either fearing the resentment of their constituents, or plotting to enslave them, had projected to disarm them, and given orders for that purpose; and finally, that your President, the unanimous joint choice of the Council and Assembly, is 'an old rogue,'' who gave his assent to the federal constitution merely to avoid refunding money he had purloined from the United States.
"There is, indeed, a good deal of manifest inconsistency in all this, and yet a stranger, seeing it in your own prints, though he does not believe it all, may probably believe enough of it to conclude, that Pennsylvania is peopled by a set of the most unprincipled, wicked, rascally, and quarrelsome scoundrels upon the face of the globe. I have sometimes, indeed, suspected, that those papers are the manufacture of foreign enemies among you, who write with a view of disgracing your country, and making you appear contemptible and detestable all the world over; but then I wonder at the indiscretion of your printers in publishing such writings! There is, however, one of your inconsistencies that consoles me a little, which is, that though, living, you give one another the characters of devils; dead, you are all angels! It is delightful, when any of you die, to read what good husbands, good fathers, good friends, good citizens, and good Christians you were, concluding with a scrap of poetry that places you, with certainty, every one in heaven. So that I think Pennsylvania a good country to die in, though a very bad one to live in."
FROM THOMAS POWNALL TO B. FRANKLIN.
Political Condition of the Swiss Cantons. — Constitution of the United Slates.
Bristol, 8 April, 178a
My Dear Old Friend, It is with more than common pleasure, that I sit down this day to write to you once more. As I have read my own death more than once in our newspapers, so I have read, and also heard, that you had quitted this present stage, and were gone where Lycurgus, Solon, Numa, and the elder Brutus have been long gone before you; and where I most decidedly believe, that you and others, who have served and have endeavoured to serve their country and the community of mankind at large, will compare notes with them. Although I considered your last quitting of Europe, as a departure like that of death, at least to us whom you left behind, yet, so long as you remained upon the same globe, in the same system of life, and since, as the proverb says, while there 's life, there 's hope, one might indulge a fond hope that we should meet again. But, when I was told you were dead, I was struck with a damp upon my heart, not for you, but for myself, as having lost the last friend remaining, with whom I could communicate on some points of the utmost importance to the liberty of man.
I believe that I am the only one now left, on this stage of life, of those commissioners representing and acting for the several provinces in America, whom I met at that Congress in Albany, in 1754, when the events, which have since come into fact, first began to develope themselves, as ready to burst into bloom and to bring forth the fruits of liberty, which you in America at present enjoy. How long I am to continue after these, is of very little consequence either to myself or to the world, as I now stand unconnected with it and its affairs.
In your last letter from Paris, when you took leave of me, then at Geneva, you desired I would consider the operations and effect of the Helvetic League, with a reference to the political union of the American States. I did so, and every thing, which I saw or had occasion to learn about this league, only served to confirm what I had already written and published in my "Memorial addressed to the Sovereigns of America." I saw, that, if there was not in a people such a confidence in the basis of their liberty, as could suffer without fears and jealousies a spirit of sovereignty to establish a regulated rotary system of government, trusted, as to men in rotation, with every power necessary to render it effective, there could be neither the true spirit of liberty nor the fruits of government, and that either an aristocracy, or a monarchy, founded in faction or violence, must take place of it . I saw the traces of the politics of some high allies, false friends of the Swiss, establishing an aristocracy, whose members were their pensioners. I deprecated from my soul, that this might ever be the fate of America. And since you carried up from the committee of the Convention your report of a system of sovereignty founded in law, and above which law only was sovereign, I begin to entertain hopes for the liberties of America, and for what will be an asylum one day or other to a remnant of mankind, who wish and deserve to live with political liberty.
I do not altogether take confidence to heart . I have some fears of mischief from the orbit of four years' period, which you give to the rotation of the office of President . It may become the ground of intrigue. Further, suppose the United States in peace, and that they have a president exactly and fully qualified to conduct their affairs in peace, but not in war. Suppose then war to come upon you, before the period of his office has had its rotation. Although the United States might wish to choose a president, suited to conduct matters in the line of war or of negotiation, that , unless a voluntary resignation of the first takes place, cannot be done. I make this remark from my knowledge on experience, that the people, in their annual election of representatives in General Assembly, look always thus to suit the character of their representative to the business of the country, which is likely to come into operation. When I see how wisely and prudently suited to the basis whereon it is built, every other part of your system is framed, I suspect my own judgment in this, and suppose there must be something, which I do not see, that operated to this form of a four years' rotation. As I hope and trust you are now alive and well, and will be so to receive what I now write, and as I also hope you will give me an answer, and that I shall continue in life to receive it, pray explain this to me.
Being at this place to spend a few weeks, and sending to Mrs. Cruger to inquire whether any ship, by which I could write to you, was going to America, and hearing that a ship bound to New York is just gone down the river, and that she sends her letters tomorrow morning, I have hardly an hour to write this hasty letter to you. I am, as I ever have been, most sincerely your affectionate friend,
TO M. LE VEILLARD.
New Constitution. — Custom-House Duties.
Philadelphia, 22 April, 178a
My Dear Friend,
I received but a few days since, your favor of November 30th, 1787, in which you continue to urge me to finish the Memoirs. My three years of service will expire in October, when a new president must be chosen; and I had the project of retiring then to my grandson's estate in New Jersey, where I might be free from the interruption of visits, in order to complete that work for your satisfaction; for in this city my time is so cut to pieces by friends and strangers, that I have sometimes envied the prisoners in Bastille. But considering now the little remnant of life I have left, the accidents that may happen between this and October, and your earnest desire, I have come to the resolution to proceed in that work to-morrow, and continue it daily till finished, which, if my health permits, may be in the course of the ensuing summer. As it goes on, I will have a copy made for you, and you may expect to receive a part by the next packet.
It is very possible, as you suppose, that all the articles of the proposed new government will not remain unchanged, after the first meeting of the Congress. I am of opinion with you, that the two chambers were not necessary, and I disliked some other articles that are
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