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TO MRS. THOMPSON, AT LISLE.
Paris, 8 February, 1777. . You are too early, hussy, as well as too saucy, in calling me rebel; you should wait for the event, which will determine whether it is a rebellion or only a revolution. Here the ladies are more civil; they call us les insurgens, a character that usually pleases them; and methinks all other women who smart, or have smarted, under the tyranny of a bad husband, ought to be fixed in revolution principles, and act accordingly.
In my way to Canada last spring, I saw dear Mrs. Barrow at New York. Mr. Barrow had been from her two or three months to keep Governor Tryon and other Tories company on board the Asia, one of the King's ships which lay in the harbour; and in all that time that naughty man had not ventured once on shore to see her. Our troops were then pouring into the town, and she was packing up to leave it, fearing, as she had a large house, they would incommode her by quartering officers in it. As she appeared in great perplexity, scarce knowing where to go, I persuaded her to stay; and I went to the general officers then commanding there, and recommended her to their protection ; which they promised and performed. On my return from Canada, where I was a piece of a governor (and I think a very good one) for a fortnight, and might have been so till this time if your wicked army, enemies to all good government, had not come and driven me out, I found her still in quiet possession of her house. I inquired how our people had
signed the bond, which he had forged as from Lord Chesterfield, and which proved his ruin. He was convicted on the 24th of February, and executed in June following.
behaved to her. She spoke in high terms of the respectful attention they had paid her, and the quiet and security they had procured her. I said I was glad of it; and that, if they had used her ill, I would have turned Tory. Then said she, with that pleasing gayety so natural to her, I wish they had. For you must know she is a Toryess as well as you, and can as flippantly call rebel. I drank tea with her; we talked affectionately of you and our other friends the Wilkeses, of whom she had received no late intelligence. What became of her since, I have not heard. The street she lived in was some months after chiefly burnt down; but, as the town was then, and ever since has been, in possession of the King's troops, I have had no opportunity of knowing whether she suffered any loss in the conflagration. I hope she did not, as, if she did, I should wish I had not persuaded her to stay there.
I am glad to learn from you, that that unhappy, though deserving family, the W- s, are getting into some business, that may afford them subsistence. I pray, that God will bless them, and that they may see happier days. Mr. Cheap's and Dr. H 's good fortunes please me. Pray learn, if you have not already learnt, like me, to be pleased with other people's pleasures, and happy with their happiness, when none occur of your own; and then perhaps you will not so soon be weary of the place you chance to be in, and so fond of rambling to get rid of your ennui. I fancy you have hit upon the right reason of your being weary of St. Omer's, viz. that you are out of temper, which is the effect of full living and idleness. A month in Bridewell, beating hemp, upon bread and water, would give you health and spirits, and subsequent cheerfulness and contentment with every other situation. I prescribe that regimen for you, my dear, in pure good VOL. VIII.
will, without a fee. And let me tell you, if you do not get into temper, neither Brussels nor Lisle will suit you. I know nothing of the price of living in either of those places; but I am sure a single woman, as you are, might with economy upon two hundred pounds a year maintain herself comfortably anywhere, and me into the bargain. Do not invite me in earnest, however, to come and live with you; for, being posted here, I ought not to comply, and I am not sure I should be able to refuse.
Present my respects to Mrs. Payne and Mrs. Heathcot; for, though I have not the honor of knowing them, yet, as you say they are friends to the American cause, I am sure they must be women of good understanding. I know you wish you could see me; but, as you cannot, I will describe myself to you. Figure me in your mind as jolly as formerly, and as strong and hearty, only a few years older ; very plainly dressed, wearing my thin gray straight hair, that peeps out under my only coiffure, a fine fur cap, which comes down my forehead almost to my spectacles. Think how this must appear among the powdered heads of Paris ! I wish every lady and gentleman in France would only be so obliging as to follow my fashion, comb their own heads as I do mine, dismiss their friseurs, and pay me half the money they paid to them. You see, the gentry might well afford this, and I could then enlist these friseurs, who are at least one hundred thousand, and with the money I would maintain them, make a visit with them to Eng. land, and dress the heads of your ministers and privy counsellors; which I conceive at present to be un peu dérangées. Adieu, madcap; and believe me ever, your affectionate friend and humble servant,
P. S. Don't be proud of this long letter. A fit of the gout, which has confined me five days, and made me refuse to see company, has given me a little time to trifle; otherwise it would have been very short, visitors and business would have interrupted ; and perhaps, with Mrs. Barrow, you wish they had.
TO JOHN INGENHOUSZ.
Purposes for which Dr. Franklin was sent to France.
Paris. [Date uncertain.] - I long labored in England, with great zeal and sincerity, to prevent the breach that has happened, and which is now so wide, that no endeavours of mine can possibly heal it. You know the treatment I met with from that imprudent court; but I keep a separate account of private injuries, which I may forgive; and I do not think it right to mix them with public affairs. Indeed, there is no occasion for their aid to whet my resentment against a nation, that has burnt our defenceless towns in the midst of winter, has excited the savages to assassinate our innocent farmers, with their wives and children, and our slaves to murder their masters!
It would therefore be deceiving you, if I suffered you to remain in the supposition you have taken up, that I am come to Europe to make peace. I am in fact ordered hither by the Congress for a very different purpose; viz, to procure those aids from European powers, for enabling us to defend our freedom and independence, which it is certainly their interest to grant; as by that means the great and rapidly growing trade of America will be open to them all, and
not a monopoly to Great Britain, as heretofore ; a monopoly, that, if she is suffered again to possess, will be such an increase of her strength by sea, and if she can reduce us again to submission, she will have thereby so great an addition to her strength by land, as will, together, make her the most formidable power the world has yet seen; and, from her natural pride and insolence in prosperity, of all others the most intolerable.
You desire to know my opinion of what will probably be the end of this war; and whether our new establishments will not be thereby reduced again to deserts. I do not, for my part, apprehend much danger of so great an evil to us. I think we shall be able, with a little help, to defend ourselves, our possessions, and our liberties so long, that England will be ruined by persisting in the wicked attempt to destroy them. I must nevertheless regret that ruin, and wish that her injustice and tyranny had not deserved it. And I sometimes flatter myself, that, old as I am, I may possibly live to see my country settled in peace and prosperity, when Britain shall make no more a formidable figure among the powers of Europe.
You put me in mind of an apology for my conduct, which has been expected from me, in answer to the abuses thrown upon me before the Privy Council. It was partly written, but the affairs of public importance I have ever since been engaged in prevented my finishing it.* The injuries, too, that my country has suffered, have absorbed private resentments, and made it appear trifling for an individual to trouble the world with his particular justification, when all his compatriots were stigmatized by the King and Parliament
See the piece here mentioned, Vol. IV. p. 405.