« ZurückWeiter »
the various systems adopted for the government of men will admit. Your views and reflections show the solidity and permanence of your principles, whether considered as applicable to the American colonies in their former condition, or in that of independent States. In both cases your efforts have been directed to the general good, without running into those extremes, which are apt to lead astray weak minds in so long and arduous a contest, as we have seen in America, for the establishment of a new State consisting of thirteen provinces under different constitutions, and, at last, united in a bond of union for the mutual benefit of each other.
Nature, which you have profoundly studied, is indebted to you for investigating and explaining phenomena, which wise men had not before been able to understand; and the great American philosopher, at the same time he discovers these phenomena, suggests useful methods for guarding men against their dangers.
The frankness, with which you dissuade people in Europe from emigrating inconsiderately to America, is a proof of your general philanthropy, and of a candor peculiar to a good man, true philosopher, and genuine patriot. You extend this same benevolence to Spain, in your remarks respecting the honor that is due to labor, and against the entailment of estates. The former is now confirmed among us by a recent law, a copy of which I send herewith, declaring the honorable light in which every description of artisans should be regarded. Laborers were always honored and favored by our laws. As to what regards entailments, I refer you to what I wrote in the year 1765, at the end of my treatise upon Mortmain, in which I think I have demonstrated, that another regulation ought to precede this in the progress of legislation. I
add also, that there is some diversity of circumstances between a monarchical and democratical constitution in this respect.
I should have great pleasure in extending these reflections, if time would permit, although your penetration and sagacity would render them unnecessary. The honor conferred upon me by the American Philosophical Society, in electing me a member on the 16th of January, lays me under the pleasing obligation of expressing my gratitude through you, the worthy President of the Society. Desirous of reciprocating in some manner this act of courtesy, I proposed you as an honorary member of the Royal Academy of History, of which I am President. The proposal was responded to by universal acclamation; the Academy feeling in the highest degree honored by having on its list the name of a man so eminent in the world of letters, and so distinguished for the part he has acted in a Revolution, the most memorable in the history of modern times. I am, &c.
COUNT DE CAMPOMANES.
FROM BENJAMIN HARRISON, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA, TO B. FRANKLIN.
Requesting him to engage an Artist for executing a Statue of General Washington.
Richmond, 27 July, 1784.
SIR, The Assembly of this State have voted a statue of our late worthy Commander-in-chief, General Washington, and have directed one side of the pedestal to be filled with an inscription; the other three, with the dress, are left for the exercise of the genius of your
humble servant and his Council; who are all too little acquainted with a business, that requires such a refinement of genius and taste, to venture any thing of their own to the eyes of the critical world.
It was natural, therefore, for us to look round for the assistance of some of our own friends; and we unanimously pitched on yourself and Mr. Jefferson, as the most likely to come up to our wishes and the expectations of the Assembly. The friendship you have honored me with gave me the confidence to assure the gentlemen, that they might depend on your complying with the request, and I am sure you will not disappoint me. I have written fully to Mr. Jefferson on the subject, enclosed to him a copy of the resolution of the Assembly, and ordered Mr. Peale to send to his address a full length picture of the General, and have requested the favor of him to confer with you on the whole of this business.
I have had the pleasure of several of your recommendations, and have on every occasion paid that attention to them you had so good a right to expect. If in this or any other way I can be of use to you, you will please to command me; for be assured nothing will make me happier, than to have it in my power to render you service. I have the honor to be, with the most perfect respect and esteem, dear Sir, &c.
* M. Houdon was the artist selected for executing the Statue, which was placed in the State House at Richmond. See SPARKS's Life of Washington, p. 390; and also his edition of Washington's Writings, Vol. IX. pp. 131, 132.
TO COUNT DE MERCY ARGENTEAU.*
Passy, 30 July, 1784.
I have the honor to communicate to your Excellency an extract from the instructions of Congress to their late Commissioners for treating of peace, expressing their desire to cultivate the friendship of his Imperial Majesty, and to enter into a treaty of commerce for the mutual advantage of his subjects and the citizens of the United States, which I request you will be pleased to lay before his Majesty. The appointing and instructing Commissioners for treaties of commerce with the powers of Europe generally has, by various circumstances, been long delayed, but is now done; and I have just received advice, that Mr. Jefferson, late Governor of Virginia, commissioned with Mr. Adams, our minister in Holland, and myself, for that service, is on his way hither, and may be expected by the end of August, when we shall be ready to enter into a treaty with his Imperial Majesty for the above purpose, if such should be his pleasure. With great and sincere respect, &c.
FROM COUNT DE MERCY ARGENTEAU TO B. FRANKLIN.
Paris, 30 July, 1784.
I have received the letter you did me the honor to write to me this morning, and I shall lose no time to transmit the contents to my court.
* Austrian Ambassador at the Court of Versailles.
The sentiments of the Emperor towards the United States of America make me foresee the satisfaction, which his Majesty will have to enter into reciprocal, suitable, and advantageous connexions with them. I have not the least doubt, but that measures will be instantly taken on this subject to concert with you, Sir, and with the appointed Ministers Plenipotentiary; and, as soon as the answer from my court shall come, I shall instantly communicate it to you. I have the honor to be, &c.
DE MERCY ARGENTEAU.
TO MESSRS. SEARS AND SMITH.
Duty on Slaves imported into the French Islands.
Passy, 4 August, 1784.
Upon the receipt of yours relating to your cargo of slaves at Martinico, I endeavoured to inform myself what was the law in such cases; and I found, that by an arrêt du Conseil d'Etat du Roi, of the 28th of June, 1783, there is a duty laid, of one hundred livres per head, on all negroes imported in foreign ships, and this duty is granted and is to be paid as a premium to the French importers of negroes, as an encouragement to their own African trade. Under these circumstances I am advised, that it cannot be expected that a general national law should be set aside in favor of a particular foreign ship; especially as the King, if he forgives the duty to the stranger, must thereby do injustice to his own subjects, to whom he had promised the produce of that duty, unless he pays it to them out of his own money, which we cannot decently request him to do. I do not, therefore, see any