« ZurückWeiter »
in, and wished for some that are not in the proposed plan. I nevertheless hope it may be adopted, though I should have nothing to do with the execution of it, being determined to quit all public business with my present employment. At eighty-three one certainly has a right to ambition repose.
We are not ignorant, that the duties paid at the custom-house on the importation of foreign goods are finally reimbursed by the consumer, but we impose them as the easiest way of levying a tax from those consumers. If our new country was as closely inhabited as your old one, we might without much difficulty collect a land tax, that would be sufficient for all purposes; but where farms are at five or six miles' distance from each other, as they are in a great part of our country, the going of the collectors from house to house to demand the taxes, and being obliged to call more than once for the same tax, makes the trouble of collecting in many cases exceed the value of the sum collected. Things that are practicable in one country are not always so in another, where circumstances differ. Our duties are, however, generally so small, as to give little temptation to smuggling. Believe me ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
TO JOHN LATHROP.*
Attachment to his early Friends and the Associations of his Youth. — Growing Felicity of Mankind by Improvements in Philosophy.
Philadelphia, 31 May, 1788.
I received your obliging favor of the 6th instant by Mr. Hilliard, with whose conversation I was much pleased, and would have been glad to have had more of it, if he would have spared it to me; but the short time of his stay has prevented. You need make no apology for introducing any of your friends to me. I consider it as doing me honor, as well as giving me pleasure.
I thank you for the pamphlet of the Humane Society. In return please to accept one of the same kind, which was published while I resided in France. If your Society have not hitherto seen it, it may possibly afford them useful hints.
It would certainly, as you observe, be a very great pleasure to me, if I could once again visit my native town, and walk over the grounds I used to frequent when a boy, and where I enjoyed many of the innocent pleasures of youth, which would be so brought to my remembrance, and where I might find some of my old acquaintance to converse with. But when I consider how well I am situated here, with every thing about me, that I can call either necessary or convenient; the fatigues and bad accommodations to be met with and suffered in a land journey, and the unpleasantness of sea voyages, to one, who, although-he haa crossed the Atlantic eight times, and made many smaller trips, does not recollect his having ever been at sea without taking a firm resolution never to go to sea again; and that, if I were arrived in Boston, I should see but little of it, as I could neither bear walking nor riding in a carriage over its pebbled streets; and, above all, that I should find very few indeed of my old friends living, it being now sixtyfive years since I left it to settle here; — all this considered, I say, it seems probable, though not certain, that I shall hardly again visit that beloved place. But I enjoy the company and conversation of its inhabitants, when any of them are so good as to visit me; for, besides their general good sense, which I value, the Boston manner, turn of phrase, and even tone of voice, and accent in pronunciation, all please, and seem to refresh and revive me.
* An eminent clergyman of Boston, and for many years a neighbour and valuable friend of Mrs. Mecom, the sister of Dr. Franklin.
I have been long impressed with the same sentiments you so well express, of the growing felicity of mankind, from the improvements in philosophy, morals, politics, and even the conveniences of common living, and the invention and acquisition of new and useful utensils and instruments; so that I have sometimes almost wished it had been my destiny to be born two or three centuries hence. For invention and improvement are prolific, and beget more of their kind. The present progress is rapid. Many of great importance, now unthought of, will before that period be produced; and then I might not only enjoy their advantages, but have my curiosity gratified in knowing what they are to be. I see a little absurdity in what I have just written, but it is to a friend, who will wink and let it pass, while I mention one reason more for such a wish, which is, that, if the art of physic shall be improved in proportion to other arts, we may then be able to avoid diseases, and live as long as the patriarchs in Genesis; to which I suppose we should have little objection.
I am glad my dear sister has so good and kind a neighbour. I sometimes suspect she may be backward in acquainting me with circumstances in which I might be more useful to her. If any such should occur to your observation, your mentioning them to me will be a favor I shall be thankful for. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, Reverend Sir, &c.
TO M. LE VEILLARD.
Toleration. — Constitution of the United States.
Philadelphia, 8 June, 1788.
My Bear Friend,
I received a few days ago your kind letter of the 3d of January. The arret in favor of the non-catholiques gives pleasure here, not only from its present advantages, but as it is a good step towards general toleration, and to the abolishing in rime all party spirit among Christians, and the mischiefs that have so long attended it. Thank God, the world is growing wiser and wiser; and as by degrees men are convinced of the folly of wars for religion, for dominion, or for commerce, they will be happier and happier.
Eight States have now agreed to the proposed new constitution; there remain five who have not yet discussed it; their appointed times of meeting not being yet arrived. Two are to meet this month, the rest later. One more agreeing, it will be carried into execution. Probably some will not agree at present, but
VOl. X. DD
time may bring them in; so that we have little doubt of its becoming general, perhaps with some corrections. As to your friend's taking a share in the management of it, his age and infirmities render him unfit for the business, as the business would be for him. After the expiration of his presidentship, which will now be in a few months, he is determined to engage no more in public affairs, even if required; but his countrymen will be too reasonable to require it. You are not so considerate; you are a hard task-master. You insist on his writing his life, already a long work, and at the same time would have him continually employed in augmenting the subject, while the time shortens in which the work is to be executed. General Washington is the man that all our eyes are fixed on for President, and what little influence I may have, is devoted to him. I am, &c.
TO M. DUPONT DE NEMOURS.
Constitution of the United States. — Principles of Trade. — Commercial Dictionary.
Philadelphia, 9 Jnne, 1788.
Sir, I have received your favor of December 31st, with the extract of a letter, which you wish to have translated and published here. But seven States having, before it arrived, ratified the new constitution, and others being daily expected to do the same, after the fullest discussion in convention, and in all the public papers, till everybody was tired of the argument, it seemed too late to propose delay, and especially the delay that must be occasioned by a revision and cor