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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,



Urging Dr. Franklin to visit England.

London, 1 February, 1784.


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




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.


Remarks on the British Government.


Passy, 12 February, 1784.

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

be added to counteract the other. Thus the number of competitors for great offices would be diminished, and the efforts of those, who still would obtain them, moderated.

Thank God we have now less connexion with the affairs of these people, and are more at liberty to take care of our own, which I hope we shall manage better.

We have a terrible winter here; such another in this country is not remembered by any man living. The snow has been thick upon the ground ever since Christmas; and the frost constant. My grandson joins in best compliments to yourself and Miss Laurens. With sincere esteem and affection, I have the honor to be, dear Sir, &c.



Political Disorders in England.


Passy, 16 February, 1784.

I received and read with pleasure your kind letter of the 1st instant, as it informed me of the welfare of you and yours. I am glad the accounts you have from your kinswoman at Philadelphia are agreeable, and I shall be happy if any recommendations from me can be serviceable to Dr. Ross, or any others, friends of yours, going to America.

Your arguments, persuading me to come once more to England, are very powerful. To be sure, I long to see again my friends there, whom I love abundantly; but there are difficulties and objections of several kinds, which at present I do not see how to get over. I lament with you the political disorders England at

present labors under. Your papers are full of strange accounts of anarchy and confusion in America, of which we know nothing, while your own affairs are really in a deplorable situation. In my humble opinion, the root of the evil lies not so much in too long, or too unequally chosen Parliaments, as in the enormous salaries, emoluments, and patronage of your great offices; and that you will never be at rest till they are all abolished, and every place of honor made at the same time, instead of a place of profit, a place of expense and burden.

Ambition and avarice are each of them strong passions, and when they are united in the same persons, and have the same objects in view for their gratification, they are too strong for public spirit and love of country, and are apt to produce the most violent factions and contentions. They should therefore be separated, and made to act one against the other. Those places, to speak in our old style (brother type), may be good for the chapel, but they are bad for the master, as they create constant quarrels that hinder the business. For example, here are two months that your government has been employed in getting its form to press; which is not yet fit to work on, every page of it being squabbled, and the whole ready to fall into pie. The founts too must be very scanty, or strangely out of sorts, since your compositors cannot find either upper or lower case letters sufficient to set the word ADMINISTRATION, but are forced to be continually turning for them. However, to return to common (though perhaps too saucy) language, do not despair; you have still one resource left, and that not a bad one, since it may reunite the empire. We have some remains of affection for you, and shall always be ready to receive and take care of you in case of distress. So if you

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