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sistency in the announcing so many diversions for almost every evening of the week, and such quantities to be sold of expensive superfluities, fineries, and luxuries just imported, in a country, that at the same time fills its papers with complaints of hard times, and want of money. I tell her, that such complaints are common to all times and all countries, and were made even in Solomon's time; when, as we are told, silver was as plenty in Jerusalem as the stones in the street; and yet, even then, there were people that grumbled, so as to incur this censure from that knowing prince. “Say not thou that the former times were better than these ; for thou dost not inquire rightly concerning that matter.'
“But the inconsistency that strikes me the most is, that between the name of your city, Philadelphia, (brotherly love,) and the spirit of rancor, malice, and hatred that breathes in its newspapers. For I learn from those papers, that your State is divided into parties, that each party ascribes all the public operations of the other to vicious motives; that they do not even suspect one another of the smallest degree of honesty; that the antifederalists are such, merely from the fear of losing power, places, or emoluments, which they have in possession or in expectation ; that the federalists are a set of conspirators, who aim at establishing a tyranny over the persons and property of their countrymen, and to live in splendor on the plunder of the people. I learn, too, that your justices of the peace, though chosen by their neighbours, make a villanous trade of their office, and promote discord to augment fees, and fleece their electors; and that this would not be mended by placing the choice in the executive council, who, with interested or party views, are continually making as improper appointments; witness a 'petty fiddler, sycophant, and scoundrel,' appointed Judge of the Admi
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