Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ble of listening to reason. The nobility appear to insist upon their ill received claim of voting by orders, and not in common and individually. This would take from the Third Estate all the advantage of the number of its deputies, which by the rules is equal to that of the two other orders together. They therefore insist upon deliberating in common and voting individually, which is the only mode of substituting a true public spirit for the spirit of party. It is much to be feared, that this difficulty will occasion a disastrous schism.

Notwithstanding our recent calamities from hailstorms, the scarcity of grain, and our long winter, and notwithstanding we are in the midst of anarchy, and no one feels sure enough of obedience to dare to command, yet such is the mildness of the nation, that there are but few disorders. The disturbances in Brittany, in Provence, where M. de Mirabeau is playing a great part, in Dauphiny, and in Franche Comte, have died away. Not a hundred persons in all have been killed; and, if we obtain a reasonable constitution, it will be perhaps a better one than that of the English, and we shall pay less dear for it than either they or you have done.

Among those who are now most prominent, appears a man whom you never would have thought of; a man who, from his situation, his rank, his riches, and his independence, must either cover himself with glory in consummating the revolution, or with infamy if he fails and leaves it imperfect, by not maintaining the principles, which he has solemnly avowed; I mean the Duke of Orleans. He has doubtless great faults; but he has good qualities, which he was not thought to possess, and which he has to some extent proved in the late public calamities. His character, a mixture it is true of eccentricity and originality, promises some firmness;

GO*

and the abuse of power, which most unjustly deprived him so long of his liberty, must inspire him with a desire of revenge, which he cannot more fully gratify, than by reestablishing, as firmly as possible, individual liberty, and consequently that of the nation.

April 30th. Most of the assemblies of Paris and the vicinity have been such scenes of tumult, that, after a long time spent in useless clamor, they have generally been obliged to break up without doing any business. They now appear, however, to be growing more quiet, and likely to come to some result; but the populace, especially the laboring men, either of their own accord or because they are in the pay of the malecontents, have been guilty of great disorders, and have pillaged houses, burnt furniture, maltreated and even killed some persons. Troops stationed in the environs have been called in. It was found necessary to fire upon the people, and last evening, it is believed, there were near a hundred persons killed, and at least as many wounded. To-day tranquillity is restored. Among the killed are twenty-five or thirty, who perished in frightful torments. They were destroying a paper factory, in the cellars of which they found aqua fortis, or oil of vitriol . which they drank for wine or liqueur.

Mr. Jefferson will probably hand you this letter. He will return to us next autumn, and I shall be really grieved if he comes with empty hands, and does not bring me the work, which you have so often promised. I am, &c.

Le Veillard.

TO MISS CATHERINE LOUISA SHIPLEY.

On the Death of her Father.

Philadelphia, 27 April, 1789.

It is only a few days since the kind letter of my dear young friend, dated December 24th, came to my hands. I had before, in the public papers, met with the afflicting news that letter contained. That excellent man has then left us! His departure is a loss, not to his family and friends only, but to his nation, and to the world; for he was intent on doing good, had wisdom to devise the means, and talents to promote them. His "Sermon before the Society for Propagating the Gospel," and his "Speech intended to have been spoken,"* are proofs of his ability as well as his humanity. Had his counsels in those pieces been attended to by the ministers, how much bloodshed might have been prevented, and how much expense and disgrace to the nation avoided!

Your reflections on the constant calmness and composure attending his death are very sensible. Such instances seem to show, that the good sometimes enjoy in dying a foretaste of the happy state they are about to enter.

According to the course of years, I should have quitted this world long before him. I shall however not be long in following. I am now in my eighty-fourth year, and the last year has considerably enfeebled me; so that I hardly expect to remain another. You will then, my dear friend, consider this as probably the last line to be received from me, and as a taking leave. Present my best and most sincere respects to your good mother, and love to the rest of the family, to whom I wish all happiness; and befieve me to be, while I do live, yours most affectionately,

* This performance was published in 1774, and entitled, A Speech intended to have been spoken on the Bill for altering the Charters of the Colony of Massachusetts Day. It has been greatly commended for the beauty of its style, and its just and liberal sentiments in regard to the controversy then existing between Great Britain and the Colonies.

[graphic]

B. Franklin.

TO CHARLES CARRoll.*

Philadelphia, 25 May, 1789.

Dear Friend,

I am glad to see by the papers, that our grand machine has at length begun to work. I pray God to bless and guide its operations. If any form of gorernment is capable of making a nation happy, ours I think bids fair now for producing that effect. But, after all, much depends upon the people who are to be governed. We have been guarding against an evil that old States are most liable to, excess of power in the rulers; but our present danger seems to be defect of obedience in the subjects. There is hope, however, from the enlightened state of this age and country, we may guard effectually against that evil as well as the rest.

My grandson, William Temple Franklin, will have the honor of presenting this line. He accompanied me to France, and remained with me during my mission. I beg leave to recommend him to your notice, and that you would believe me, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.

* Mr. Carroll was at this time a Senator in Congress from Maryland. The first Congress under the new Constitution had recently convened in New York. In March, 1776, Dr. Franklin and Mr. Carroll had been joint commissioners, appointed by the Continental Congress with instructions to form a union between the Canadas and the United Colonies. See Vol. VIIL p. 178.

To Richard Price. Reflections on Life and Death.

Philadelphia, 31 May, 1789.

My Very Dear Friend,

I lately received your kind letter, enclosing one from Miss Kitty Shipley, informing me of the good Bishop's decease, which afflicted me greatly. My friends drop off one after another, when my age and infirmities prevent my making new ones; and, if I still retained the necessary activity and ability, I hardly see among the existing generation where I could make them of equal goodness. So that the longer I live I must expect to be the more wretched. As we draw nearer the conclusion of life, nature furnishes us with more helps to wean us from it, among which one of the most powerful is the loss of such dear friends.

I send you with this the two volumes of our Transactions, as I forget whether you had the first before. If you had, you will please to give this to the French Ambassador, requesting his conveyance of it to the good Duke de la Rochefoucauld.

My best wishes attend you, being ever, with sincere and great esteem, my dear friend, yours most affectionately, B. Franklin.

TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.

Relative to the Memoirs of his Life.

Philadelphia, 3 June, 1789.

My Dearest Friend, I received your kind letter of March 4th, and wish I may be able to complete what you so earnestly devoid x. 50

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »