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time may bring them in; so that we have little doubt of its becoming general, perhaps with some corrections. As to your friend's taking a share in the management of it, his age and infirmities render him unfit for the business, as the business would be for him. After the expiration of his presidentship, which will now be in a few months, he is determined to engage no more in public affairs, even if required; but his countrymen will be too reasonable to require it. You are not so considerate; you are a hard task-master. You insist on his writing his life, already a long work, and at the same time would have him continually employed in augmenting the subject, while the time shortens in which the work is to be executed. General Washington is the man that all our eyes are fixed on for President, and what little influence I may have, is devoted to him. I am, &c.
TO M. DUPONT DE NEMOURS.
Constitution of the United States. - Principles of Trade. - Commercial Dictionary.
Philadelphia, 9 June, 1788.
I have received your favor of December 31st, with the extract of a letter, which you wish to have translated and published here. But seven States having, before it arrived, ratified the new constitution, and others being daily expected to do the same, after the fullest discussion in convention, and in all the public papers, till everybody was tired of the argument, it seemed too late to propose delay, and especially the delay that must be occasioned by a revision and cor
rection of all the separate Constitutions. For it would take at least a year to convince thirteen States, that the Constitutions they have practised ever since the Revolution, without observing any imperfections in them so great as to be worth the trouble of amendment, are nevertheless so ill formed as to be unfit for continuation, or to be parts of a federal government. And, when they should be so convinced, it would probably take some years more to make the corrections.
An eighth State has since acceded, and when a ninth is added, which is now daily expected, the constitution will be carried into execution. It is probable, however, that, at the first meeting of the new Congress, various amendments will be proposed and discussed, when I hope your Ouvrage sur les Principes et le Bien des Républiques en général, &c. &c., may be ready to put into their hands; and such a work from your hand I am confident, though it may not be entirely followed, will afford useful hints, and produce advantages of importance.
But we must not expect, that a new government may be formed, as a game of chess may be played, by a skilful hand, without a fault. The players of our game are so many, their ideas so different, their prejudices so strong and so various, and their particular interests, independent of the general, seeming so opposite, that not a move can be made that is not contested; the numerous objections confound the understanding; the wisest must agree to some unreasonable things, that reasonable ones of more consequence may be obtained; and thus chance has its share in many of the determinations, so that the play is more like tric-trac with a box of dice.
We are much pleased with the disposition of your government to favor our commerce, manifested in the
late réglement. You appear to be possessed of a truth, which few governments are possessed of, that A must take some of B's produce, otherwise B will not be able to pay for what he would take of A. But there is one thing wanting to facilitate and augment our inIt is a dictionary, explaining the names of different articles of manufacture in the two languages. When I was in Paris, I received a large order for a great variety of goods, particularly of the kind called hard wares, that is, wares of iron and steel; and when I showed the invoice to your manufacturers, they did not understand what kind of goods or instruments were meant by the names; nor could any English and French dictionary be found to explain them. So I sent to England for one of each sort, which might serve both as explanation and as a model, the latter being of importance likewise, since people are prejudiced in favor of forms they have been used to, though perhaps not the best. They cost me twenty-five guineas, but were lost by the way, and, the peace coming on, the scheme dropped. It would, however, as I imagine, be well worth reviving, for our merchants say, we still send to England for such goods as we want, because there they understand our orders, and can execute them precisely. With great and sincere esteem, I am, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
FROM M. DE CONDORCET TO B. FRANKLIN.
Constitution of the United States.Affairs in France.
Paris, 8 July, 1788.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I beg you to assure the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia of my gratitude for the honor, which it has done me in electing me a member, and to present at the same time my thanks for the volume it has been kind enough to send me.
I have seen your new federal constitution, and the speech pronounced by you on that occasion. If it was necessary to finish it at once, if it was impossible to obtain any thing better, we must regard it as among the necessary evils, and hope that the opposition will be strong enough to require a few years hence a new convention. I see with pain, that the aristocratic spirit seeks to introduce itself among you, in spite of so many wise precautions. At this moment it is throwing every thing into confusion here. Priests, magistrates, nobles, all unite against the poor citizens, who are of a very different character. This league, so nuherous in itself, has increased its strength by clamors against despotism. It is true, that it has taken the very moment when the King is acknowledging the rights of the nation, and promising to restore them; but the word is a hateful one, and in this country words are more than things.
I hope, however, that we shall get through, and that we shall have neither civil war nor bankruptcy, in spite of all that our pretended patriots are saying and doing to lead us to both. Adieu, my dear friend; may you long enjoy your glory, but let it not make you forget
the friends and the admirers, whom you have left on the other side of the ocean. I am, &c.
FROM THE DUKE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD TO
Constitution of the United States.
Varennes, 12 July, 1788.
MY DEAR FRIend,
I have heard from you indirectly, through M. le Veil. lard and the Abbé de la Roche, more recently than by the letter, which you were kind enough to write to me some time since. I learn from the former gentleman, that we may soon expect the Memoirs of your life, which you promised him so long ago. What a precious monument this memoir must be, written as it is by a true philosopher, whose genius has thrown light upon physical and political science, has taught us what lightning is, and how we may avoid it; what liberty is, and how we may acquire and preserve it; and who, uniting to rich intellectual gifts the kindest social feelings, has shown, that he knows the value of friendship, and how compatible it is with sentiments of respect and veneration; a philosopher, too, who can judge himself with the same impartiality, with which he would judge others. It will be a gift most dear to your friends, who will always pray, that the last chapter of a life so valuable to humanity may have the longest possible
We see with pleasure, that your infirmities, though they do not leave you, still do not increase; and since