Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

nish better Latin, it was pity, they say, that the mottos had not been in English. Others object to the title, as not properly assumable by any but General Washington, and a few others, who served without pay. Others object to the bald eagle as looking too much like a dindon, or turkey. For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishingthawk; and, when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district . He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all the kingbirds from our country; though exactly fit for that order of knights, which the French call Chevaliers iTlnduslrie.

I am, on this account, not displeased that the figure is not known as a bald eagle, but looks more like a turkey. For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours; the first of the species seen in Europe, being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and served up at the wedding table of Charles the Ninth.* He is, besides, (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that,) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.

* A learned friend of the Editor's has observed to him, that this is a mistake, as Turkeys were found in great plenty by Cortes, when he invaded and conquered Mexico, before the time of Charles the Twelfth. That this, and their being brought to old Spain, is mentioned by Peter Martyr of Anghiera, who was Secretary to the Council of the Indies, established immediately after the discovery of America, and personally acquainted with Columbus. — W. T. F. • "Omnia reliquit servare rerapublicam."

I shall not enter into the criticisms made upon their Latin. The gallant officers of America may not have the merit of being great scholars, but they undoubtedly merit much, as brave soldiers, from their country, which should therefore not leave them merely to fame for their "virtutis .premium" which is one of their Latin mottos. Their "esto perpetua," another, is an excellent wish, if they meant it for their country; bad, if intended for their Order. The States should not only restore to them the omnia of their first motto,* which many of them have left and lost, but pay them justly, and reward them generously. They should not be suffered to remain, with all their new created chivalry, entirely in the situation of the gentleman in the story, which their omnia reliquit reminds me of. You know every thing makes me recollect some story. He had built a very fine house, and thereby much impaired his fortune. He had a pride, however, in showing it to his acquaintance. One of them, after viewing it all, remarked a motto over the door "OIA VANITAS." "What," says he, "is the meaning of this OIA 1 it is a word I don't understand." "I will tell you," said the gentleman; "I had a mind to have the motto cut on a piece of smooth marble, but there was not room for it between the ornaments, to be put in characters large enough to be read. I therefore made use of a contraction anciently very common in Latin manuscripts, whereby the m's and n's in words are omitted, and the omission noted by a little dash above, which you may see there; so that the word is omnia, Omnia Vanitas." "O," said his friend, "I now comprehend the meaning of your motto, it relates to your edifice; and signifies, that, if you have abridged your omnia, you have, nevertheless, left your Vanitas legible at full length." I am, as ever, your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.

FROM WILLIAM STRAHAN TO R. FRANKLIN.

Urging Dr. Franklin to visit England.

London, 1 February, 1784.

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you in August last, in answer to your very kind note of July 29th, enclosing a line to you from Mrs. Bache, which I then forgot to return to you, but which I now enclose. This letter I sent by the common post, which I hope came safe to hand, though I have not had the pleasure of hearing from you since.

I therein acknowledged, and beg leave to repeat my warmest acknowledgments for the very friendly and effectual patronage, you and your good family on the other side of the water afforded my poor, helpless, and singularly distressed kinswoman, than whom none can be more grateful or more deserving the great kindness you have shown her. By this time, I dare say, you are convinced, that the high character I presumed to give you of her was in no shape exaggerated, and that she is really the worthy and accomplished young wo

VOl. X. 9 F *

man I represented her to be. Her late letters to me are all full of the strongest expressions of gratitude for Mrs. Bache's continued goodness to her.

Notwithstanding what you told me in your last, I cannot, nor will I, renounce all hope of seeing you again, and that soon too. You have so many friends here, whom you love, because they love you, and whom you must therefore be anxiously eager to see, that I judge it needless to add any other inducements, though I could mention many, which I dare say will readily occur to yourself. In short, I am clearly for your spending the rest of your days here, where you know you may have every comfort and amusement this world can afford, and where you can most easily and most perfectly enjoy yourself in your own way. I earnestly request you will give all due attention to this advice, which I wish to impress upon you with all possible earnestness. One argument only will I now add more. I hear, and with real concern I hear it, that you are afflicted with the gout . I need not tell you, that here is the best medical assistance this world affords. And now I will not tease you more upon this subject, till I have the happiness of hearing from you again.

We are still in the greatest political confusion here. After several adjournments, we, the House of Commons, meet again to-morrow; but I do not hear that any conciliation, so much wanted, is likely to take place. What this will end in, it is impossible for me to say; but it is not probable we can remain many days longer in our present situation. My family are all in their ordinary health, and will be very happy to see you once more in this still most agreeable country. I remain with unalterable esteem and affection, dear Sir, &c.

William Strahan.

TO HENRY LAURENS.

Remarks on the British Government.

Passy, 12 February, 1784.

Dear Sir,

I received your favor of the 3d instant by your son, with the newspapers, for which I thank you. The disorders of that government, whose constitution has been so much praised, are come to a height that threatens some violent convulsion, if not a dissolution; and its physicians do not even seem to guess at the cause of the disease, and therefore prescribe insufficient remedies, such as place bills, more equal representation, more frequent elections, &c. &c. In my humble opinion, the malady consists in the enormous salaries, emoluments, and patronage of great offices. Ambition and avarice are separately strong passions. When they are united in pursuit of the same object, they are too strong to be governed by common prudence, or influenced by public spirit and love of country; they drive men irresistibly into factions, cabals, dissensions, and violent divisions, always mischievous to public counsels, destructive to the peace of society, and sometimes fatal to its existence. As long as the immense profits of these offices subsist, members of the shortest and most equally chosen parliaments will have them in view, and contend for them, and their contentions will have all the same ruinous consequences.

To me, then, there seems to be but one effectual remedy, and that not likely to be adopted by so corrupt a nation; which is, to abolish these profits, and make every place of honor a place of burden. By that means the effect of one of the passions abovementioned would be taken away, and something would

« ZurückWeiter »