« ZurückWeiter »
I have, indeed, heard, that a resolution was passed last year, that the salaries of Plenipotentiaries should be no more than two thousand pounds sterling per annum. But the resolution, I suppose, can relate only to such Plenipotentiaries as should be afterwards appointed; for I cannot conceive, that the Congress, after promising a minister twenty-five hundred pounds a year, and when he has thereby been encouraged to engage in a way of living for their honor, which only that salary can support, would think it just to diminish it a fifth, and leave him under the difficulty of reducing his expenses proportionably; a thing scarce practicable; the necessity of which he might have avoided, if he had not confided in their original promise.
But the article of salary with all the rest of my accounts will be submitted to the judgment of Congress, together with some other considerable articles I have not charged, but on which I shall expect, from their equity, some consideration. If, for want of knowing precisely the intention of Congress, what expenses should be deemed public, and what private, I have charged any article to the public, which should be defrayed by me, their banker has my order, as soon as the pleasure of Congress shall be made known to him, to rectify the error, by transferring the amount to my private account, and discharging by so much that of the public. I have the honor to be, &c.
Dissuading him from attempting to cross to England
in a Balloon.
Passy, 20 June, 1785.
I have just received the only letter from you that has given me pain. It informs me of your intention to attempt passing to England in the car of a balloon. In the present imperfect state of that invention, I think it much too soon to hazard a voyage of that distance. It is said here by some of those, who have had experience, that as yet they have not found means to keep up a balloon more than two hours; for that, by now and then losing air to prevent rising too high and bursting, and now and then discharging ballast to avoid descending too low; these means of regulation are exhausted. Besides this, all the circumstances of danger by disappointment, in the operation of soupapes,* &c. &c., seem not to be yet well known, and therefore not easily provided against. For on Wednesday last M. Pilâtre de Rosier, who had studied the subject as much as any man, lost his support in the air, by the bursting of his balloon, or by some other means we are yet unacquainted with, and fell with his companion† from the height of one thousand toises, on the rocky coast, and were both found dashed to pieces.
You, having lived a good life, do not fear death. But pardon the anxious freedom of a friend, if he tells you, that, the continuance of your life being of importance to your family and your country, though you might laudably hazard it for their good, you have no
The Marquis d'Arlandes.
right to risk it for a fancy. I pray God this may reach you in time, and have some effect towards changing your design; being ever, my dear friend, yours affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.
FROM FRANCIS MASERES TO B. FRANKLIN.
Policy of restoring the confiscated Estates to the
Inner Temple, 20 June, 1785.
I have this day received by the hands of M. Du Calvet the favor of your letter, which gave me a very singular pleasure after so long and so unfortunate an interruption of our correspondence. The event of the late contest has brought great misfortunes upon both countries, or, at least, upon Great Britain, by increasing the national debt to at least double its former quantity, as well as very much reducing the extent of its dominions. But, melancholy as this event is, it is less displeasing than the contrary event of a total subjugation of the revolted colonies by force of arms, and a consequent government of them by military power, by erecting forts and citadels, and altering the charters, and governing them by governors and other officers depending entirely on the pleasure of the crown, and in a manner disagreeable to the people, which I conjecture from the Archbishop of York's sermon, of February 21st, 1777, (of which I sent you a paraphrase with the book of Annuities,) would have been the government established over them, if they had been thoroughly subdued in the year 1776.
But, if they could have been reconciled to Great Britain by fair means, and governed, as formerly, with
out force or soldiers, and with their own consent and good will, I own, I think it would have been for the benefit of all parties. But these views are now at an end, and the new States are, I presume, likely to continue for ever independent of, and consequently foreign to Great Britain. And I am amongst those, who wish them happy in their new condition, and feel no satisfaction from the reports that prevail here, that, from the anarchy and confusion that prevail among them, they have still more reason than we to lament the separation. On the contrary, I sincerely wish, that, as they have been founded on the purest principles of liberty, they may enjoy all the blessings that should result from those principles, and prove a refuge to mankind from the slavery which prevails in almost every part of Europe.
They seem, however, at present to be too much actuated by a spirit of revenge against those of their countrymen, who adhered to their first allegiance, whom they call Tories, and we call Loyalists. After the complete attainment of their desired independence, it would surely have been more agreeable to policy, as well as justice, to have restored to those persons their estates, upon their taking the new oaths of allegiance to the several new governments, which they would have no longer scrupled to do, when the King had absolved them from their allegiance to him, by consenting to the independence of the new States.
When the Commonwealth Parliament of England had cut off King Charles's head, in the year 1649, and set up a republican government, they did not confiscate the estates of the Cavaliers, but left those, who had not been in arms for the King, in the full and quiet possession of all their property, and restored the estates of those who had been in arms for the
King, upon the payment of a composition of only two years' rent, with the exception of a very few persons, whom they considered as very deep malignants (as they called them), or very great offenders, such as the Marquis of Worcester, and the Earl of Derby, and four or five persons more, whose estates they did confiscate. Nothing, I apprehend, would tend more to introduce settlement and good order in the States, than the imitation of this gentle and moderate conduct; and I suppose it would produce likewise the surrender of the posts on the lakes Ontario and Erie to the new States, agreeably to the treaty of peace, till which event, the peace can hardly be considered as firmly established; and God forbid we should have any more war about these posts, or indeed any thing else.
My view, in the observations on the national debt, was not so much to recommend my particular method of diminishing it, in preference to other methods, as to show, that most methods were nearly equally useful for this purpose, provided the same sum of money was applied every year to that purpose, for the same number of years, without any interruption; and that those methods were the fittest to be adopted, which were least likely to be interrupted.
Your old friend, Mr. Jackson, is pretty well in health, but is not in Parliament; and Lord John Cavendish, and Mr. John Yorke, and many other gentlemen of respectable character and condition, are not so now. I should have been very happy to have seen you again in England, and so, I am persuaded, would have been many of your friends, notwithstanding the late unfortunate contentions. But, since that cannot be, and you are returning to America, I heartily wish you health and strength to bear the journey with ease, and to