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FROM M. LE VEILLARD TO B. FRANKLIN.
Rumor of Dr. Franklin's being captured by the Algerines. Cardinal Rohan and the Diamond Necklace. Mademoiselle Brillon.
Passy, 9 October, 1785.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
We are waiting with the greatest impatience to hear from you. The newspapers have given us anxiety on your account; for some of them insist that you have been taken by the Algerines, while others pretend that you are at Morocco, enduring your slavery with all the patience of a philosopher. These reports luckily have not been confirmed; but we shall not be entirely at our ease until we see your handwriting, dated at Philadelphia. You cannot imagine how sad we have felt ever since you have left us, and how often we speak of you. This we shall never cease to do. There is even poor Castor, who never knows what to do with himself on Sunday mornings.
We have again for a moment had fears of a war with the Emperor. He had some difficulty in coming to a final settlement with the Dutch; but, fortunately, all is at last concluded and signed. The King of Prussia, moreover, who is in a fine position at this moment, is at the head of a confederacy of almost all the States of Germany, to resist all attempts at aggrandizement on the part of the Emperor. As to your countrymen, have they at last found a solid basis on which to rest their fabric? Can they sustain their liberty? Certainly they have great need of your wise counsels.
You will be astonished to hear, that we have just
arrested in his full dress, and sent to the Bastille, a cardinal, who is a prince and bishop of Strasburg. This cardinal, who has an income of more than twelve hundred thousand livres, took from a jeweller's on credit, and on the Queen's account, a diamond necklace, worth one million six hundred thousand livres. Accused by her before the King, he has produced a note, which, as he pretends, he believed to have been written and signed by her. His trial is going on before the Parliament of Paris, and his sentence will be pronounced after the vacation. He is in the uncomfortable dilemma of being able to prove that he is not a knave, only by proving that he is a fool.
Mademoiselle Brillon is to be married on the 20th of this month to M. Viasal de Malachet, son of one of the King's secretaries. He is a counsellor at the Court of Aids, and is to leave that business to take the office of M. Brillon, with whom the young couple are to live. Your friends can never cease to regret your absence. I am asked about you ten times a day. They all send you their affectionate regards. I hope you have been industrious during your passage, and that you have finished your Memoirs and will send them to me. My wife and daughter unite with me, and we all beg you to remember, that nobody in the world loves you more affectionately than we do.
*The Cardinal de Rohan.
The first part of the Memoirs of his life, written in England, Dr. Franklin had communicated to M. le Veillard, who is supposed to have been the author of the French translation.
FROM JOHN FITCH TO B. FRANKLIN.
Concerning a new Steamboat.
Bucks County, 12 October, 1785.
The subscriber begs leave to trouble you with something further on the subject of a steamboat. His sanguine opinion in favor of its answering the purpose to his utmost wishes, emboldens him to presume this letter will not give offence. And if his opinion carries him to excess, he doubts not but your Excellency will make proper allowance.
It is a matter, in his opinion, of the first magnitude, not only to the United States, but to every maritime power in the world; and he is full in the belief, that it will answer for sea voyages as well as for inland navigation, in particular for packets, where there may be a great number of passengers. He is also of opinion, that fuel for a short voyage would not exceed the weight of water for a long one, and it would produce a constant supply of fresh water. He also believes, that the boat would make head against the most violent tempests, and thereby escape the danger of a lee shore; and that the same force may be applied to a pump to free a leaky ship of her water. What emboldens him to be thus presuming, as to the good effects of the machine, is the almost omnipotent force by which it is actuated, and the very simple, easy, and natural way by which the screws or paddles are turned to answer the purpose of oars.
I expect to return from Kentucky about the 1st of June next, and nothing would give me more pleasure than to make an essay under your patronage, and have your friendly assistance in introducing another
useful art into the world. With the most perfect respect, I am, &c.
FROM GAETANO FILANGIERI TO B. FRANKLIN.
Sending to Dr. Franklin a Copy of his Work on Legislation.
Dalla Cava, 24 October, 1785.
The publication of three more volumes of my work affords me a new opportunity of testifying to you my respect, and the attention due from me. Your return to America, so glorious to yourself, and the great distance which separates us, far from exempting me from this duty, only render the fulfilment of it the more praiseworthy, by the difficulties and the obstacles which
It appears by the following certificate, which was given two years after the above letter was written, that Mr. Fitch attained to some degree of success in the construction of his steamboat.
“Philadelphia, December 12th, 1787. These may certify, that the subscriber has frequently seen Mr. Fitch's steamboat, which, with great labor and perseverance he has at length completed, and has likewise been on board when the boat was worked against both wind and tide with a very considerable degree of velocity by the force of steam only. Mr. Fitch's merit in constructing a good steam-engine, and applying it to so useful a purpose, will no doubt meet with the encouragement he so justly deserves from the generosity of his countrymen, especially those who wish to promote every improvement of the useful arts in America. "DAVID RITTENHOUSE."
† Alluding to his great work on the Science of Legislation, the first two volumes of which were published in 1780, the two following in 1783, and three others in 1785. Cava, the place at which the above letter is dated, is a small village eight leagues from Naples, to which the author had retired, that he might apply himself uninterruptedly to the composition of this work, one of the most extraordinary of its kind,
are to be surmounted. I send you at present but a single copy of these three volumes, because I do not know, nor have I been able to ascertain from Signor Pio, how many copies of the former volumes of my work he has forwarded. You have only to inform me of the number, and to give me the address of the person in France to whom the packet is to be directed, and I will immediately send a similar number of copies of the volumes just published. These contain the fourth book of the work, which has for its subject the laws which concern education, manners, and public instruction. My ideas on these subjects are certainly new, but are they sound? As to this point, it belongs to you, more than to any one else, to decide.
May you enjoy, Sir, the laurels to which your talents and your virtues so well entitle you. The blessings, invoked on your name by a great nation, are the only reward worthy of the author of their liberty and the avenger of their of their wrongs. wrongs. God grant, that your years may be prolonged according to the wishes and
in regard both to its plan and execution, which has ever been published. M. Salfi, in his Eloge de Filangieri, prefixed to a French translation of the Scienza della Legislazione, printed at Paris in 1822, states the following particulars.
"Le célèbre Franklin, reconnoissant en Filangieri un homme capable de faire de son pays ce qu'il avoit fait, lui, des États-Unis, lui envoya, ainsi qu'au roi des Deux-Siciles, un exemplaire de la constitution de cette naissante république. Il s'empressa même de répandre la Science de la Législation parmi ses nouveaux concitoyens, qui reconnurent et apprécièrent bientôt dans son auteur un de leurs frères. On peut regarder comme un témoignage de reconnoissance donné à ces modernes républicains, ce que firent en même temps quelques philanthropes du royaume de Naples. Ils décorèrent du nom de Philadelphic une ville de Calabre, qu'on vit renaître de ses ruines après le tremblement de terre de 1783. Je relève cette circonstance particulière pour que le voyageur éclairé ne voie pas, dans ce monument, l'ouvrage de la bizarrerie ou du hasard; il doit y admirer un indice incontestable des progrès que l'esprit de Filangieri commençoit à faire au milieu des Calabrois."