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esteem and affectionate friendly regard of many wise and good men and women, in every country where I have resided. For these mercies and blessings I desire to be thankful to God, whose protection I have hitherto had ; and I hope for its continuance to the end, which now cannot be far distant. The account you give me of your family is pleasing, except that your eldest son continues so long unmarried. I hope he does not intend to live and die in celibacy. The wheel of life, that has rolled down to him from Adam without interruption, should not stop with him. I would not have one dead, unbearing branch in the genealogical tree of the Sargents. The married state is, after all our jokes, the happiest, being conformable to our natures. Man and woman have each of them qualities and tempers in which the other is deficient, and which in union contribute to the common felicity. Single and separate, they are not the complete human being; they are like the odd halves of scissors; they cannot answer the end of their formation. I am concerned at the losses you have suffered by the war. You are still young and active enough to retrieve them; and peace, I hope, will afford the opportunity. You mention nothing of my good friend Mrs. Deane, or her amiable sisters, whom I saw with you, nor of Mr. Chambers. I hope they are all well and happy. Present my respects to Mrs. Sargent, whom I love very much, and believe me ever, my dear friend, yours, most affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.
[To sIR Joseph BANKS..]
DEAR SIR: I received your very kind letter by Dr. Blagden, and esteem myself much honored by your friendly remembrance. I have been too much and too closely engaged in public affairs, since his being here, to enjoy all the benefit of his conversation you were so good as to intend me. I hope soon to have more leisure, and to spend a part of it in those studies that are much more agreeable to me than political operations.
I join with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of peace. I hope it will be lasting, and that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for, in my opinion, there never was a good war, or a bad peace. What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility . What an extension of agriculture, even to the tops of our mountains; what rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, aqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices and improvements, rendering England a complete paradise, might have been obtained by spending those millions in doing good, which in the last war have been spent in doing mischief, -in bringing inisery into thousands of families, and destroying the lives of so many thousands of working people, who might have performed the useful labor I am pleased with the late astronomical discoveries made by our Society.* Furnished as all Europe now is with academies of science, with nice instruments and the spirit of experiment, the progress of human knowledge will be rapid, and discoveries made of which we have at present no conception. I begin to be almost sorry I was born so soon, since I cannot have the happiness of knowing what will be known one hundred years hence. I wish continued success to the labors of the Royal Society, and that you may long adorn their chair; being, with the highest esteem, dear sir, &c., B. FRANKEIN.
P. S. Dr. Blagden will acquaint you with the experiment of a vast globe sent up into the air, much talked of here, and which, if prosecuted, may furnish means of new knowledge.
[To JonATHAN SHIPLEY.]
I RECEIVED with great pleasure my dear and respected friend's letter of the 5th instant, as it informed me of the welfare of a family I so much esteem and love.
The clamor against the peace in your Parliament would alarm me for its duration, if I were not of opinion, with you, that the attack is rather against the minister. I am confident none of the opposition would have made a better peace for England, if
*The Royal Society of London.
they had been in his place; at least, I am sure that Lord Stormont, who seems loudest in railing at it, is not the man that could have mended it. My reasons I will give you when I have, what I hope to have, the great happiness of seeing you once more, and conversing with you. They talk much of there being no reciprocity in our treaty. They think nothing, then, of our passing over in silence the atrocities committed by their troops, and demanding no satisfaction for their wanton burnings and devastations of our fair towns and countries. They have heretofore confessed the war to be unjust, and nothing is plainer in reasoning than that the mischiefs done in an unjust war should be repaired. Can Englishmen be so partial to themselves as to imagine they have a right to plunder and destroy as much as they please, and then, without satisfying for the injuries they have done, to have peace on equal terms? We were favorable, and did not demand what justice entitled us to. We shall probably be blamed for it by our constituents; and I still think it would be the interest of England voluntarily to offer reparation of those injuries, and effect it as much as may be in her power. But this is an interest she will never see. Let us now forgive and forget. Let each country seek its advancement in its own internal advantages of arts and agriculture, not in retarding or preventing the prosperity of the other. America will, with God's blessing, become a great and happy country; and England, if she has at length gained wisdom, will have gained something more valuable, and more essential to her prosperity, than all she has lost, and will still be a great and respectable nation. Her great disease at present is the number and enormous salaries and emoluments of office. Avarice and ambition are strong passions, and, separately, act with great force on the human mind; but, when both are united, and may be gratified in the same object, their violence is almost irresistible, and they hurry men headlong into factions and contentions, destructive of all good government. As long, therefore, as these great emoluments subsist, your Parliament will be a stormy sea, and your public councils confounded by private interests. But it requires much public spirit and virtue to abolish them; more, perhaps, than can now be found in a nation so long corrupted. I am, &c., B. FRANKLIN.
The Order of the Cincinnati — Ascending and Descending Honors — Absurdity of the System of Hereditary Nobility. PAssy, January 26, 1784. My DEAR CHILD : Your care in sending me the newspapers is very agreeable to me. I received by Captain Barney those relating to the Cincinnati. My opinion of the institution cannot be of much importance. I only wonder that, when the united wisdom of our nation had, in the articles of confederation, manifested their dislike of establishing ranks of nobility, by authority either of the congress or of any particular state, a number of private persons should think proper to distinguish themselves and their posterity from their fellow-citizens, and for an order of hereditary knights, in direct opposition to the solemnly-declared sense of their country. I imagine it must be likewise contrary to the good sense of most of those drawn into it by the persuasion of its projectors, who have been too much struck with the ribands and crosses they have seen hanging to the button-holes of foreign officers. And I suppose those who disapprove of it have not hitherto given it much opposition, from a principle somewhat like that of your good mother, relating to punctilious persons, who are always exacting little observances of respect, that, “if people can be pleased with small matters, it is a pity but they should have them.” In this view, perhaps, I should not myself, if my advice had been asked, have objected to their wearing their riband and badge themselves according to their fancy, though I certainly should to the entailing it as an honor on their posterity. For, honor worthily obtained (as that, for example, of our officers) is in its nature a personal thing, and incommunicable to any but those who had some share in obtaining it. Thus, among the Chinese, the most ancient, and, from long experience, the wisest of nations, honor does not descend, but ascends. If a man, from his learning, his wisdom, or his valor, is promoted by the emperor to the rank of mandarin, his parents are immediately entitled to all the same ceremonies of respect from the people that are established as due to the mandarin himself; on the supposition that it must have been owing to the education, instruction and good example, afforded him by his parents, that he was rendered capable of serving the public. This ascending honor is therefore useful to the state, as it encourages parents to give their children a good and virtuous
education. But the descending honor, to a posterity who could have no share in obtaining it, is not only groundless and absurd, but often hurtful to that posterity, since it is apt to make them proud, disdaining to be employed in useful arts, and thence falling into poverty, and all the meannesses, servility and wretchedness, attending it; which is the present case with much of what is called the noblesse in Europe. Or, if to keep up the dignity of the family estates are entailed entire on the eldest male heir, another pest to industry and improvement of the country is introduced, which will be followed by all the odious mixture of pride, and beggary, and idleness, that have half depopulated and decultivated Spain, occasioning continual extinction of families by the discouragements of marriage, and neglect in the improvement of estates. I wish, therefore, that the Cincinnati, if they must go on with their project, would direct the badges of their order to be worn by their fathers and mothers, instead of handing them down to their children. It would be a good precedent, and might have good effects. It would also be a kind of obedience to the fifth commandment, in which God enjoins us to honor our father and mother, but has nowhere directed us to honor our children. And certainly no mode of honoring those immediate authors of our being can be more effectual than that of doing praiseworthy actions, which reflect honor on those who gave us our education; or more becoming than that of manifesting, by some public expression or token, that it is to their instruction and example we ascribe the merit of those actions. But the absurdity of descending honors is not a mere matter of philosophical opinion; it is capable of mathematical demonstration. A man's son, for instance, is but half of his family, the other half belonging to the family of his wife. His son, too, marrying into another family, his share in the grandson is but a fourth ; in the great-grandson, by the same process, is but an eighth; in the next generation, a sixteenth ; the next, a thirtysecond ; the next, a sixty-fourth ; the next, a hundred and twenty-eighth ; the next, a two hundred and fifty-sixth ; and the next, a five hundred and twelfth. Thus, in nine generations, which will not require more than three hundred years (no very great antiquity for a family), our present chevalier of the order of Cincinnatus's share in the then existing knight will be but a five hundred and twelfth part; which, allowing the present certain fidelity of American wives to be insured down through all those nine generations, is so small a consideration, that methinks no reasonable man would hazard, for the sake of it, the disa