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ralty; "an old woman and fomenter of sedition' to be another of the Judges, and 'a Jeffries' Chief Justice, &c. &c.; with two harpies' the Comptroller and Naval Officers, to prey upon the merchants and deprive them of their property by force of arms, &c.
"I am informed also by these papers, that your General Assembly, though the annual choice of the people, shows no regard to their rights, but from sinister views or ignorance makes laws in direct violation of the constitution, to divest the inhabitants of their property and give it to strangers and intruders; and that the Council, either fearing the resentment of their constituents, or plotting to enslave them, had projected to disarm them, and given orders for that purpose; and finally, that your President, the unanimous joint choice of the Council and Assembly, is an old rogue,' who gave his assent to the federal constitution merely to avoid refunding money he had purloined from the United States.
“ There is, indeed, a good deal of manifest inconsistency in all this, and yet a stranger, seeing it in your own prints, though he does not believe it all, may probably believe enough of it to conclude, that Pennsylvania is peopled by a set of the most unprincipled, wicked, rascally, and quarrelsome scoundrels upon the face of the globe. I have sometimes, indeed, suspected, that those papers are the manufacture of foreign enemies among you, who write with a view of disgracing your country, and making you appear contemptible and detestable all the world over ; but then I wonder at the indiscretion of your printers in publishing such writings! There is, however, one of your inconsistencies that consoles me a little, which is, that though, living, you give one another the characters of devils; dead, you are all angels! It is delightful, when any of you
All the books you have sent to me, and to the Philosophical Society here, have been received. They will be acknowledged in our next volume. In the mean time please to accept our hearty thanks. There are few books published in these times, that contain so much new and useful knowledge as these you have written.
I lament with you the prospect of a horrid war, which is likely to engage so great a part of mankind. There is little good gained, and so much mischief done generally, by wars, that I wish the imprudence of undertaking them was more evident to princes; in which case I think they would be less frequent. If I were counsellor of the Empress of Russia, and found that she desired to possess some part of the domin. ions of the Grand Signior, I should advise her to compute the annual taxes raised from that territory, and make him an offer of buying it, at the rate of paying for it at twenty years' purchase. And if I were his counsellor, I should advise him to take the money, and cede the dominion of that territory. For I am of opinion, that a war to obtain it will cost her more than that sum, and the event uncertain, and that the defence of it will cost him as much; and, not having embraced the offer, his loss is double. But to make and accept such an offer, these potentates should be both of them reasonable creatures, and free from the ambition of glory, which perhaps is too much to be supposed.
I am glad that peace is likely to be established in your native country, with so little expense of blood, though it be done in a manner not agreeable to a great part of the nation. If the French had entered with the Prussians, and made it the seat of war, the mischief would have been infinite.
I am truly sorry for the losses you have met with in your attempts to make profit by commerce in this country. Jonathan Williams was in England and Ireland many months before I left France. He has since been in different parts of America, collecting his debts, and now happens to be here. I have talked with him about your affairs. He tells me, that your adventure to Carolina sold well, and that the produce was returned in indigo, which, if it had arrived, would have rendered good profit; and, though his correspondent had taken the prudent precaution to insure in Charleston, the place being taken soon after, and the insurers ruined, nothing of value could be recovered, and that he is a loser of a hundred guineas by the share he took in that unfortunate adventure. I was mistaken when I informed you, that his brother had given him your certificates. It was only authenticated copies of them. These he has now given me. But I have written to John to give the originals to Mr. Charles Vaughan, now in Boston, and to settle your account with that gentleman, paying to him any bills that may be in hand, which I make no doubt he will do.
Such certificates are low in value at present, but we hope and believe they will succeed, when our new projected constitution of government is established. I lent to the old Congress three thousand pounds in the value of hard money, and took their certificates promising interest at six per cent, but I have received no interest for several years, and if I were now to sell the principal, I could not get more than a sixth part. You must not ascribe this to want of honesty in our government, but to want of ability; the war having exhausted all the faculties of the country. The public funds even of Great Britain sunk by the war the three per cents from ninety-five to fifty-four. We had powerful armies of enemies in our country, ravaging, plundering, and destroying our towns, and obstructing our agriculture, while their fleets ruined our commerce; and this for eight years together. I question, whether the public credit, even of your rich country, would have supported itself under similar treatment. But we are recovering fast, and, if peace continues, which God grant, we shall soon be in flourishing circumstances.
I did not think I could have written so much. I have done it, however, a little at a time. I can now only add, that I remain, with unalterable esteem and affection, my dear friend, yours most sincerely,
TO M. LE VEILLARD.
Dr. Franklin's Memoirs of his own Life. - New Con
stitution of the United States. - Restrictions on Trade. — Paper Money.
Philadelphia, 17 February, 1788. MY DEAR FRIEND, I received your kind letter of June 23d, by Mr. Saugrain, and it is the last of yours that is come to my hands. As you have so much leisure, and love writing, I cannot think you have been so long silent; you, who are so good as to love me, and who know how much pleasure your letters always afford me. I therefore rather suspect you may probably have written something too freely concerning public affairs, and that your letters may be arrested in your postoffice, and yourself lodged in the Bastille. You see I imagine any thing, however extravagant, rather than suppose, as your letters too often do, that my friends forget me.
I find Mr. Saugrain to answer well the good character you give of him, and shall with pleasure render him any services in my power. He is now gone down the Ohio, to reconnoitre that country.
I should bave proceeded in the history you mention, * if I could well have avoided accepting the chair of President for this third and last year; to which I was again elected by the unanimous voice of the Council and General Assembly in November. If I live to see this year expire, I may enjoy some leisure, which I promise you to employ in the work you do me the honor to urge so earnestly.
I sent you with my last a copy of the new Constitution proposed for the United States by the late General Convention. I sent one also to our excellent friend the Duke de la Rochefoucauld. I attended the business of the Convention faithfully for four months. Enclosed you have the last speech I made in it.t Six States have already adopted the Constitution, and there is now little doubt of its being accepted by a sufficient number to carry it into execution, if not immediately by the whole. It has, however, met with great opposition in some States, for we are at present a nation of politicians. And, though there is a general dread of giving too much power to our governors, I think we are more in danger from too little obedience in the governed.
We shall, as you suppose, have imposts on trade, and custom-houses, not because other nations have them, but because we cannot at present do without · them. We want to discharge our public debt occasioned by the late war. Direct taxes are not so easily levied on the scantily settled inhabitants of our wideextended country; and what is paid in the price of
* The Memoirs of his own Life, to the continuance of which all his friends, who knew the importance of such a history, wished him anxiously to apply. - W. T. F. † See Vol. V. p. 155. VOL. X.