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amusement to you and to your Society.* My acquaintance with Dr. Jeffries began by his bringing me a letter in France, the first through the air, from England. With best wishes of many happy new years to you, and good Madam Bowdoin, I have the honor to be, dear Sir, &c. B. FRANKLIN.t
FROM THE DUKE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD
TO B. FRANKLIN.
Paris, 8 February, 1786.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I have heard of you through Mr. Jefferson and M. le Veillard. The latter showed me the letter, in which you announced to him your nomination to the office of President, and I admired the resolution which determined you to take upon yourself an employment so fatiguing, but in which you can labor effectually for the happiness of Pennsylvania, and for that of the other
*The paper was printed in London, entitled, "A Narrative of two Aërial Voyages," 4to. 1786.
Extract from a letter to his sister.
"Philadelphia, 24 January, 1786. Your letter to Mr. V. seems to me very proper and well written, and I think he was wrong in detaining the five dollars. But when we consider that he was under no legal obligation to pay a debt contracted by his son, we may be glad, that we have received so much of it, and that, when it is common to pay the interest of an old debt in ill language, he has paid you only in silence. It is a family I have formerly been in friendship with, and I would not have you trouble them with any further demands.
"I do not wonder at your blaming me for accepting the government [the office of President of Pennsylvania]. We have all of us wisdom enough to judge what others ought to do, or not to do, in the management of their affairs; and it is possible I might blame you as much if you were to accept the offer of a young husband. My example may teach you not to be too confident in your own prudence, as it teaches me not to be surprised at such an event, should it really happen."
States, upon which the example of your own will assuredly have a great influence. I know that two powerful and nearly equal parties support different principles as the basis of the Constitution; but nobody is better qualified than yourself to conciliate both of them, and to obtain, not perhaps the constitution most absolutely perfect, but at least, as Solon said, the best which your fellow citizens are able to bear.
This is the critical moment for the Americans. The return of peace and the certainty of independence demand of them a general revision of their laws, and the formation of new codes, no longer a servile imitation of the laws of England, but dictated by reason, conformed to their actual situation, and adapted to insure the happiness of States and individuals. In legislation you must be the teachers of the world, which is expecting from you some important lessons.
I will not trespass upon the time of so busy a man as yourself, and will therefore close by offering you the compliments of all my family, to which M. de Condorcet requests me to add his. That your life and health may be prolonged is the unanimous prayer of all those, who have ever heard of you. All, who have had the satisfaction of knowing you, add the hope, that they may retain a place retain a place in your friendship. I venture to believe, that I deserve this, by the sincere attachment and veneration which I feel for you. DUKE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD.
FROM THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO B. FRANKLIN.
Tour in Germany. - Prussia. - Austria. - Indian Vocabularies for the Empress of Russia.
Paris, 10 February, 1786.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
With unspeakable satisfaction I have heard of your safe arrival in America, and heartily wished I had been mingled in the happy crowd of your fellow citizens, when they saw you set your foot on the shore of Liberty. When your friends in Paris meet together, their first talk is of you. The wishes for you of a fortunate voyage, and pleasing sight of your family and friends, became a national sentiment. In my tour through Germany, I have been asked a thousand questions about you, when I felt equally proud and happy to boast of our affectionate intimacy.
Prussia and the Austrian dominions, with some parts of the German empire, the liberties of which have been so much spoken of in treaties and so little felt by the people, have been the object of my very agreeable journey.* The first class of people are, I found, misinformed, with respect to American affairs. What inay be wrong, they know perfectly, with an addition of a thousand falsehoods; and I wish no ground was left for our enemies to found those falsehoods upon. Although they have an enthusiastic admiration of the virtues displayed by America during the war, yet it is a matter of doubt with them, (some sensible and feeling men excepted, particularly Prince Henry,) if free con
* Lafayette had recently returned from a tour through Germany. An account of this tour is contained in the Diplomatic Correspondence, Vo! X. p. 53.
stitutions can support themselves. The King of Prussia himself is blinded by habit and prejudices.
That monarch's temper is very bad; the Emperor's not very quiet. But, the affairs of Great Britain being embarrassed, and our politics very pacific, I do not think any storm is to be feared. I have been happy to hear you have accepted the presidency of Pennsylvania. Nothing but that could speedily restore internal union, and remove the jealousies against neighbours. You will encourage federal measures, regulations for trade, a general system of militia; and, the more I learn the opinions of foreign nations, the more I wish for such arrangements, the necessity of which is obvious to almost every American. A committee, consisting of the intendants of finance, counsellors of state, and farmers-general, has been appointed to consider the affairs of American commerce. I shall attend regularly, but, as it is just begun, I cannot tell whether it will be very useful.
Enclosed I send you a vocabulary, which the Empress of Russia requests may be filled up with Indian words. You know her plan of a Universal Dictionary. I have thought you might send me the Delaware and Shawanese languages, with some others. Your commissioners for Indian affairs, Colonel Harmar and General Butler, will be able to superintend the business, which it is important to have well done, as the Empress, although I think to very little purpose, sets a great value upon it.*
Be so kind as to remember me most affectionately to your family, daughter, grandsons, son-in-law, and to all our friends in Philadelphia. My heart has been
* For other particulars respecting these Indian vocabularies, see Washington's Writings, Vol. IX. pp. 195, 301, 306.
long opened to you, and I need not assure you, that, with the highest regard and tenderest affection, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO JONATHAN SHIPLEY.
Progress of the Government in the United States
Philadelphia, 24 February, 1786.
I received lately your kind letter of November 27th. My reception here was, as you have heard, very honorable indeed; but I was betrayed by it, and by some remains of ambition, from which I had imagined myself free, to accept of the chair of government for the State of Pennsylvania, when the proper thing for me was repose and a private life. I hope, however, to be able to bear the fatigue for one year, and then to retire.
I have much regretted our having so little opportunity for conversation when we last met.* You could have given me informations and counsels that I wanted, but we were scarce a minute together without being broken in upon. I am to thank you, however, for the pleasure I had after our parting, in reading the new book you gave me, which I think generally well written and likely to do good; though the reading time of most people is of late so taken up with newspapers and little periodical pamphlets, that few now-a-days venture to attempt reading a quarto volume. I have admired to see, that, in the last century, a folio, Burton
* At Southampton, previous to Dr. Franklin's embarking for the Unitea States.-W. T. F.
Paley's Moral Philosophy.-W. T. F.