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 fishing hawk; 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 d'Industrie.

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.

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? 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

• " Omnia reliquit servare rempublicam."

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." “0," 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 B. 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.

We have not yet heard of the arrival of our express in America, who carried the Definitive Treaty. He sailed the 26th of September. As soon as the ratification arrives, I shall immediately send you word of it. With great esteem I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. FRANKLIN.

FROM CHARLES THOMSON TO B. FRANKLIN.
Treaty of Peace ratified by Congress.

Annapolis, 15 January, 1784. DEAR SIR, Yesterday nine States being for the first time since October last represented, Congress immediately took up and ratified the Definitive Treaty, with the unanimous consent not only of all the States represented, but of every individual member of Congress; and, that it might reach you with the greatest despatch, they immediately sent off Colonel Harmar with the ratification by the way of New York, there being no vessel sailing from this bay. They also send a duplicate to be forwarded by Mr. Morris, and this day, from an earnest desire that it may, if possible, arrive in due time, they have determined to send Colonel Franks with a triplicate, to take the chance of a vessel from some of the eastern ports.

I have the satisfaction to inform you, that a disposition begins to prevail in the States to comply with the requisitions of Congress, and to grant funds for the regular payment of the interest and discharge of the principal of the debts contracted during the war. I make no doubt but the creditors in Europe are anxious and uneasy at the backwardness of the States. But whoever consults the history of nations will find, that taxation is among the late acts of government; that in governments, which have been long established, it is not without great difficulty that permanent funds are introduced, and even in the oldest governments new taxes often occasion great uneasiness. Considering, therefore, that in the United States every thing is new and unusual, instead of being surprised at the backwardness of the people in this respect, it is rather a matter of wonder, that they have made so great a progress, and have discovered such a facility in getting the better of that aversion to taxes, which is so universally prevalent. For my own part, I have a great confidence in the good sense of my countrymen in general, nor can I admit a doubt, that they will speedily fall upon measures to do justice to all the public creditors. Though you and I have lived to see a great work accomplished, yet much still remains to be done; to secure the happiness of this country. May that Almighty Being, who has thus far conducted us safely through many scenes of difficulty and distress, inspire the people of these United States with wisdom to improve the opportunity now afforded of becoming a happy nation.

I need not recommend Colonel Franks to your notice, as you are already acquainted with him. He has great merit for the early part he took, and the sacrifices he has made in the late controversy, and his steady adherence to our cause.

I long for the pleasure of seeing you, but forego that pleasure with the more ease, as I am sensible you are usefully employed in a work, which is of great importance to our country. I need not assure you, that I am, with the most perfect esteem and respect, dear Sir, your affectionate old friend,

CHARLES THOMSON. VOL. X.

« ZurückWeiter »