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the otium cum dignitate. My friends indulge me with their frequent visits, which I have now leisure to receive and enjoy. The Philosophical Society, and the Society for Political Inquiries, meet at my house, which I have enlarged by additional building, that affords me a large room for those meetings, another over it for my library now very considerable, and over all some lodging rooms. I have seven promising grandchildren by my daughter, who play with and amuse me, and she is a kind attentive nurse to me when I am at any time indisposed; so that I pass my time as agreeably as at my age a man may well expect, and have little to wish for, except a more easy exit than my malady seems to threaten.
The deafness you complain of gives me concern, as if great it must diminish considerably your pleasure in conversation. If moderate, you may remedy it easily and readily, by putting your thumb and fingers behind your ear, pressing it outwards, and enlarging it, as it were, with the hollow of your hand. By an exact experiment I found, that I could hear the tick of a watch at forty-five feet distance by this means, which was barely audible at twenty feet without it. The experiment was made at midnight when the house was still.
I am glad you have sent those directions respecting ventilation to the Edinburgh Society. I hope you have added an account of the experience you had of it at Minorca. If they do not print your paper, send it to me, and it shall be in the third volume, which we are about to publish of our Transactions.
Mrs. Hewson joins with us in best wishes for your health and happiness. Her eldest son has gone through his studies at our college, and taken his degree. The youngest is still there, and will be graduated this sum
mer. My grandson presents his respects; and I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.
P. S. You never mention the receipt of any letters from me. I wish to know if they come to hand, particularly my last enclosing the Apologue. You mention some of my old friends being dead, but not their names.
TO MRS. CATHERINE GREENE.
Philadelphia. 2 March, 1789.
Having now done with public affairs, which have hitherto taken up so much of my time, I shall endeavour to enjoy, during the small remainder of life that is left to me, some of the pleasures of conversing with my old friends by writing, since their distance prevents my hope of seeing them again.
I received one of the bags of sweet corn you were so good as to send me a long time since, but the other never came to hand. Even the letter mentioning it, though dated December 10th, 1787, has been above a year on its way; for I received it but about two weeks since from Baltimore in Maryland. The corn I did receive was excellent, and gave me great pleasure. Accept my hearty thanks.
I am, as you suppose in the abovementioned old letter, much pleased to hear, that my young friend Ray is "smart in the farming way," and makes such substantial fences. I think agriculture the most honorable of all employments, being the most independent. The farmer has no need of popular favor, nor the favor of the great; the success of his crops depending only
on the blessing of God upon his honest industry. I congratulate your good spouse, that he, as well as myself, is now free from public cares, and that he can bend his whole attention to his farming, which will afford him both profit and pleasure; a business which nobody knows better how to manage with advantage.
I am too old to follow printing again myself, but, loving the business, I have brought up my grandson Benjamin to it, and have built and furnished a printinghouse for him, which he now manages under my eye. I have great pleasure in the rest of my grandchildren, who are now in number eight, and all promising, the youngest only six months old, but shows signs of great good nature. My friends here are numerous, and I enjoy as much of their conversation as I can reasonably wish; and I have as much health and cheerfulness, as can well be expected at my age, now eightythree. Hitherto this long life has been tolerably happy; so that, if I were allowed to live it over again, I should make no objection, only wishing for leave to do, what authors do in a second edition of their works, correct some of my errata. Among the felicities of my life I reckon your friendship, which I shall remember with pleasure as long as that life lasts, being ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
FROM M. LE VEILLARD TO B. FRANKLIN.
State of Affairs in France. - Duke of Orleans.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Passy, 25 April, 1789.
Since your letter of the 10th of December last, I
have had no other from you.
We are at last on the
eve of the assembling of the States-General. If any one had said, when you were with us, that this was even a possible thing, he would have run a great risk of finding himself in the Bastille before night. I do not know how much good they will do; but in the mean while people say and print whatever they please, and nobody is sent to prison. The demands of the different deputations are for the most part publicly known. Many give very narrow limits to the royal authority, and all without exception require, that, before attending to any thing else, a constitution shall be established, which shall give legislative authority to the nation, either conjointly with the King or independently of him; which shall determine the composition and the mode of action of a permanent assembly of the States-General, or of a body which may come together without being specially called, at short and stated intervals; and which shall give full security to personal liberty and to property, and to the liberty of the press, with the condition, that the printer shall affix his name to the works he publishes. They demand, moreover, the abolition of all privileges and exemptions relating to the payment of taxes, the reform of civil and criminal laws, and the responsibility of ministers. This is not all; but upon this basis, if once established, we shall build up a government, not perfect indeed, for that is beyond the reach of humanity, but good enough to satisfy any reasonable being.
Unfortunately the priests and the nobles are not yet sufficiently moderate, nor the lower classes sufficiently enlightened. The intermediate classes are for this reason odious to the former, and not properly valued by the latter, who are dazzled and blinded by the first rays of a liberty, of which they had not even an idea, and which intoxicates them, and renders them incapa
ble of listening to reason. The nobility appear to insist upon their ill received claim of voting by orders, and not in common and individually. This would take from the Third Estate all the advantage of the number of its deputies, which by the rules is equal to that of the two other orders together. They therefore insist upon deliberating in common and voting individually, which is the only mode of substituting a true public spirit for the spirit of party. It is much to be feared, that this difficulty will occasion a disastrous schism.
Notwithstanding our recent calamities from hailstorms, the scarcity of grain, and our long winter, and notwithstanding we are in the midst of anarchy, and no one feels sure enough of obedience to dare to command, yet such is the mildness of the nation, that there are but few disorders. The disturbances in Brittany, in Provence, where M. de Mirabeau is playing a great part, in Dauphiny, and in Franche Comté, have died away. Not a hundred persons in all have been killed; aud, if we obtain a reasonable constitution, it will be perhaps a better one than that of the English, and we shall pay less dear for it than either they or you have done.
Among those who are now most prominent, appears a man whom you never would have thought of; a man who, from his situation, his rank, his riches, and his independence, must either cover himself with glory in consummating the revolution, or with infamy if he fails and leaves it imperfect, by not maintaining the principles, which he has solemnly avowed; I mean the Duke of Orleans. He has doubtless great faults; but he has good qualities, which he was not thought to possess, and which he has to some extent proved in the late public calamities. His character, a mixture it is true of eccentricity and originality, promises some firmness;