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which begins to make me weary of talking and writing; especially as I do not find that I have gained any point, in either country, except that of rendering myself suspected by my impartiality, -in England of being too much an American, and in America of being too much an Englishmafi. Your opinion, however, weighs with me, and encourages me to try one effort more, in a full though concise statement of facts, accompanied with arguments drawn from those facts, to be published about the meeting of Parliament, after the holidays. If any good may be done, I shall rejoice; but at present I almost despair. Have you ever seen the barometer so low as of late 2 The 22d instant, mine was at 28:41, and yet the weather fine and fair. With sincere esteem, I am, dear friend, yours, affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.
[To Miss MARY STEVENson.]
JUST come home from a venison feast, where I have drunk more than a philosopher ought, I find my dear Polly's cheerful, chatty letter, that exhilarates me more than all the wine.
Your good mother says there is no occasion for any intercession of mine in your behalf. She is sensible that she is more in fault than her daughter. She received an affectionate, tender letter from you, and she has not answered it, though she intended to do it; but her head, not her heart, has been bad, and unfitted her for writing. She owns that she is not so good a subject as you are, and that she is more unwilling to pay tribute to Caesar, and has less objection to smuggling; but it is not, she says, mere selfishness or avarice; it is rather an honest resentment at the waste of those taxes in pensions, salaries, perquisites, contracts, and other emoluments for the benefit of people she does not love, and who do not deserve such advantages, because — I suppose—because they are not of her party.
Present my respects to your good landlord and his family. I honor them for their conscientious aversion to illicit trading. There are those in the world who would not wrong a neighbor, but make no scruple of cheating the king. The reverse, however, does not hold; for, whoever scruples cheating the king will certainly not wrong his neighbor.
You ought not to wish yourself an enthusiast. They have, indeed, their imaginary satisfactions and pleasures, but these are often balanced by imaginary pains and mortification. You can continue to be a good girl, and thereby lay a solid foundation for expected future happiness, without the enthusiasm that may perhaps be necessary to some others. As those beings who have a good sensible instinct have no need of reason, so those who have reason to regulate their actions have no occasion for enthusiasm. However, there are certain circumstances in life, sometimes, where it is perhaps best not to hearken to reason. For instance: possibly, if the truth were known, I have reason to be jealous of this same insinuating, handsome young physician; but, as it flatters more my vanity, and therefore gives me more pleasure, to suppose you were in spirits on account of my safe return, I shall turn a deaf ear to reason in this case, as I have done, with success, in twenty others. But I am sure you will always give me reason enough to continue ever your affectionate friend, B. FRANKLIN.
P. S. Our love to Mrs. Tickell. We shall long for your return. Your Dolly was well last Tuesday; the girls were there on a visit to her; I mean at Bromley. Adieu. No time now to give you any account of my French journey.
[To MRS. JANE MECOM..]
On Resigning his Office — Theories of Prečwistence.
DEAR SISTER: This ship staying longer than was expected, gives me an opportunity of writing to you, which I thought I must have missed, when I desired Cousin Williams to excuse me to you. I received your kind letter of September 25th by the young gentlemen, who, by their discreet behavior, have recommended themselves very mugh to me, and many of my acquaint ance. Josiah has attained his heart's desire, of being under the tuition of Mr. Stanley, who, though he had long left off teaching, kindly undertook, at my request, to instruct him, and is much pleased with his quickness of apprehension, and the progress he makes; and Jonathan appears a very valuable young man, sober, regular, and inclined to industry and frugality, which are promising signs of success in business. I am very happy in their company.
As to the rumor you mention (which was, as Josiah tells me, that I had been deprived of my place in the post-office, on account of a letter I wrote to Philadelphia), it might have this foundation,-that some of the ministry had been displeased on my writing such letters, and there were really some thoughts among them of showing that displeasure in that manner. But I had some friends, too, who, unrequested by me, advised the contrary; and my enemies were forced to content themselves with abusing me plentifully in the newspapers, and endeavoring to provoke me to resign. In this they are not likely to succeed, I being deficient in that Christian virtue of resignation. If they would have my office, they must take it.
I have heard of some great man whose rule it was, with regard to offices, never to ask for them, and never to refuse them; to which I have always added, in my own practice, never to resign them. As I told my friends, I rose to that office through a long course of service in the inferior degrees of it. Before my time, through bad management, it never produced the salary annexed to it; and when I received it no salary was to be allowed, if the office did not produce it. During the first four years, it was so far from defraying itself that it became nine hundred and fifty pounds sterling in debt to me and my colleague. I had been chiefly instrumental in bringing it to its present flourishing state, and therefore thought I had some kind of right to it. I had hitherto executed the duties of it faithfully, and to the perfect satisfaction of my superiors, which I thought was all that should be expected of me on that account. As to the letters complained of, it was true I did write them, and they were written in compliance with another duty, that to my country; a duty quite distinct from that of postmaster.
My conduct in this respect was exactly similar to that I held on a similar occasion, but a few years ago, when the then ministry were ready to hug me for the assistance I afforded them in repealing a former revenue act. My sentiments were still the same, that no such acts should be made here for America; or, if made, should, as soon as possible, be repealed; and I thought it should not be expected of me to change my political opinions every time his Majesty thought fit to change his ministers. This was my language on the occasion; and I have lately heard, that, though I was thought much to blame, it being understood that every man who holds an office should act with the ministry, whether agreeable or not to his own judgment, yet, in consideration of the goodness of my private character (as they were pleased to compliment me), the office was not to be taken from me. Possibly they may still change their minds, and remove me; but no apprehension of that sort will, I trust, make the least alteration in my political conduct. My rule, in which I have always found satisfaction, is, never to turn aside in public affairs through views of private interest, but to go straight forward in doing what appears to me right at the time, leaving the consequences with Providence. What, in my younger days, enabled me more easily to walk upright, was, that I had a trade, and that I knew I could live upon little; and thence (never having had views of making a fortune), I was free from avarice, and contented with the plentiful supplies my business afforded me. And now it is still more easy for me to preserve my freedom and integrity, when I consider that I am almost at the end of my journey, and therefore need less to complete the expense of it; and that what I now possess, through the blessing of God, may, with tolerable economy, be sufficient for me (great misfortunes excepted), though I should add nothing more to it by any office or employment whatsoever. I send you, by this opportunity, the two books you wrote for. They cost three shillings apiece. When I was first in London, about forty-five years since, I knew a person who had an opinion something like your author's. Her name was Ilive, a printer's widow. She died soon after I left England, and by her will obliged her son to deliver publicly, in Salters' Hall, a solemn discourse, the purport of which was to prove that this world is the true hell, or place of punishment for the spirits who had transgressed in a better state, and were sent here to suffer for their sins, in animals of all sorts. It is long since I saw the discourse, which was printed. I think a good deal of scripture was cited in it, and that the supposition was, that, though we now remembered nothing of such a prečxistent state, yet after death we might recollect it, and remember the punishments we had suffered, so as to be the better for them; and others, who had not yet offended, might now behold and be warned by our sufferings. In fact, we see here that every lower animal has its enemy, with proper inclinations, faculties and weapons, to terrify, wound and destroy it; and that men, who are uppermost, are devils to one another; so that, on the established doctrine of the goodness and justice of the great Creator, this apparent state of general and systematical mischief seemed to demand some such supposition as Mrs. Ilive's, to account for it consistently with the honor of the Deity. But our reasoning powers, when employed about what may have been before our existence here, or shall be after it, cannot go far, for want of history and facts. Revelation, only, can give us the necessary information; and that, in the first of these points especially, has been very sparingly afforded us. I hope you continue to correspond with your friends at Philadelphia. My love to your children; and believe me ever your affectionate brother, B. FRANKLIN.
Minutes of a Remarkable Conference with Lord Hillsborough. LoNDoN, 5 February, 1771.
DEAR SIR: I have just received your kind favor of January 1st by Mr. Bowdoin, to whom I should be glad to render any service here. I wrote to you some weeks since, in answer to yours of July and November, expressing my sentiments without the least reserve on points that require free discussion, as I know I can confide in your prudence not to hurt my usefulness here, by making me more obnoxious than I must necessarily be from that known attachment to the American interest, which my duty, as well as inclination, demands of me.
In the same confidence, I send you the enclosed extract from my journal, containing a late conference between the Secretary * and your friend, in which you will see a little of his temper. It is one of the many instances of his behavior and conduct that have given me the very mean opinion I entertain of his abilities and fitness for his station. His character is conceit, wrongheadedness, obstinacy and passion. Those who would speak most favorably of him allow all this; they only add, that he is an honest man, and means well. If that be true, as perhaps it may, I wish him a better place, where only honesty and well-meaning are required, and where his other qualities can do no harm. Had the war taken place, I have reason to believe he would have been removed. He had, I think, some apprehensions of it himself at the time I was with him. I hope, however, that our affairs will not much longer be perplexed and embarrassed by his perverse and senseless management. I have since heard that his lordship took great offence at some of my last words, which he calls extremely rude and abusive. He
* Lord Hillsborough.