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in memory. And I am persuaded, the minister will very readily either correct the error in the contract, or direct our demanding of the Farmers the value of the tobacco, as the case may be. With great and sincere esteem, I have the honor to be, Sir, &lc.

B. Franklin.


Attendance in the Convention. Disapprobation of War. Precautions for protecting Houses from Fire.

Philadelphia, 20 September, 1787.

Dear Sister,

I received your kind letter of the 16th past, which gave me the great pleasure of learning that you were well. I thought I had before acknowledged the receipt of yours per Colonel Sergeant.

The Convention finished the 17th instant . I attended the business of it five hours in every day from the beginning, which is something more than four months. You may judge from thence, that my health continues; some tell me I look better, and they suppose the daily exercise of going and returning from the Statehouse has done me good. You will see the Constitution we have proposed in the papers. The forming of it so as to accommodate all the different interests and views was a difficult task; and perhaps, after all, it may not be received with the same unanimity in the different States, that the Convention have given the example of in delivering it out for their consideration. We have, however, done our best, and it must take its chance.

I agree with you perfectly in your disapprobation of war. Abstracted from the inhumanity of it, I think it wrong in point of human prudence; for, whatever advantage one nation would obtain from another, whether it be part of their territory, the liberty of commerce with them, free passage on their rivers, &c. &c., it would be much cheaper to purchase such advantage with ready money than to pay the expense of acquiring it by war. An army is a devouring monster, and, when you have raised it, you have, in order to subsist it, not only the fair charges of pay, clothing, provisions, arms, and ammunition, with numberless other contingent and just charges to answer and satisfy, but you have all the additional knavish charges of the numerous tribe of contractors to defray, with those of every other dealer who furnishes the articles wanted for your army, and takes advantage of that want to demand exorbitant prices. It seems to me, that, if statesmen had a little more arithmetic, or were more accustomed to calculation, wars would be much less frequent. I am confident, that Canada might have been purchased from France for a tenth part of the money England spent in the conquest of it. And if, instead of fighting with us for the power of taxing us, she had kept us in good humor by allowing us to dispose of our own money, and now and then giving us a little of hers, by way of donation to colleges, or hospitals, or for cutting canals, or fortifying ports, she might have easily drawn from us much more by our occasional voluntary grants and contributions, than ever she could by taxes. Sensible people will give a bucket or two of water to a dry pump, that they may afterwards get from it all they have occasion for. Her ministry were deficient in that little point of common sense. And so they spent one hundred millions of her money, and after all lost wha they contended for.

I lament the loss your town has suffered this year by fire. I sometimes think men do not act like reasonable creatures, when they build for themselves combustible dwellings, in which they are every day obliged to use fire. In my new buildings, I have taken a few precautions, not generally used; to wit, none of the wooden work of one room communicates with the wooden work of any other room; and all the floors, and even the steps of the stairs, are plastered close to the boards, besides the plastering on the laths under the joists. There are also trap-doors to go out upon the roofs, that one may go out and wet the shingles in case of a neighbouring fire. But, indeed, I think the staircases should be stone, and the floors tiled as in Paris, and the roofs either tiled or slated.

Vol. x. LL


I am much obliged to your friend and neighbour Mr. Lathrop, for his kind present, and purpose writing to him. It is a discourse well written.

I sent you lately a barrel of flour, and I blame myself for not sooner desiring you to lay in your winter's wood, and drawing upon me for it as last year. But I have been so busy. To avoid such neglect in future, I now make the direction general, that you draw on me every year for the same purpose.

Adieu, my dear sister, and believe me ever your affectionate brother, B. Franklin.


On the Nature of Sea Coal.

1 am persuaded, as well as you, that the sea

coal has a vegetable origin, and that it has been formed near the surface of the earth; but, as preceding convulsions of nature had served to bring it very deep in many places, and covered it with many different strata, we are indebted to subsequent convulsions for having brought within our view the extremities of its veins, so as to lead us to penetrate the earth in search of it. I visited last summer a large coal mine at Whitehaven, in Cumberland; and, in following the vein and descending by degrees towards the sea, I penetrated below the ocean, where the level of its surface was more than eight hundred fathoms above my head, and the miners assured me, that their works extended some miles beyond the place where I then was, continually and gradually descending under the sea. The slate, which forms the roof of this coal mine, is impressed in many places with the figures of leaves and branches of fern, which undoubtedly grew at the surface when the slate was in the state of sand on the banks of the sea. Thus it appears, that this vein

* This extract is translated from the French, as printed in H. Dobourg's edition of the author's writings. Its date is uncertain, bat it was probably written about the year 1770, and should have been inserted among the philosophical papers of that period.

of coal has suffered a prodigious settlement.

B. Franklin.


Concerning the Eastern Boundary of the United States.

Philadelphia, 8 April, 1790.*

Sir, I received your letter of the 31st of last past, relating to encroachments made on the eastern limits of the United States by settlers under the British government, pretending that it is the western, and not the eastern river of the Bay of Passamaquoddy which was designated by the name of St . Croix, in the treaty of peace with that nation; and requesting of me to communicate any facts which «iy memory or papers may enable me to recollect, and which may indicate the true river, which the commissioners on both sides had in their view, to establish as the boundary between the two nations.

* This letter is dated only nine days before Dr. .Franklin's death.

Your letter found me under a severe fit of my malady, which prevented my answering it sooner, or attending, indeed, to any kind of business. I now can assure you, that I am perfectly clear in the remembrance that the map we used in tracing the boundary, was brought to the treaty by the commissioners from England, and that it was the same that was published by Mitchell above twenty years before. Having a copy of that map by me in loose sheets, I send you that sheet which contains the Bay of Passamaquoddy, where you will see that part of the boundary traced. I remember, too, that in that part of the boundary we relied much on the opinion of Mr. Adams, who had been concerned in some former disputes concerning those territories. I think, therefore, that you may obtain still further light from him.

That the map we used was Mitchell's map, Congress were acquainted at the time, by a letter to their Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which I suppose may be found upon their files. I have the honor to be, &c.,

B. Franklin.

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