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his behaviour in every respect unexceptionable, I should not part with the child, but with the employment. But I am confident, that, whatever may be proposed by weak or malicious people, the Congress is too wise and too good to think of treating me in that manner.
Ben, if I should live long enough to want it, is like to be another comfort to me. As I intend him for a Presbyterian as well as a republican, I have sent him to finish his education at Geneva. He is much grown, in very good health, draws a little, as you will see by the enclosed, learns Latin, writing, arithmetic, and dancing, and speaks French better than English. He made a translation of your last letter to him, so that some of your works may now appear in a foreign language. He has not been long from me. I send the accounts I have of him, and I shall put him in mind of writing to you. I cannot propose to you to part with your own dear Will. I must one of these days go back to see him ; happy to be once more all together! but futurities are uncertain. Teach him, however, in the mean time, to direct his worship more properly, for the deity of Hercules is now quite out of fashion.
The present you mention as sent by me was rather that of a merchant at Bordeaux; for he would never give me any account of it, and neither Temple nor I know any thing of the particulars.
When I began to read your account of the high prices of goods, “a pair of gloves seven dollars, a yard of common gauze twenty-four dollars, and that it now required a fortune to maintain a family in a very plain way," I expected you would conclude with telling me, that everybody as well as yourself was grown frugal and industrious; and I could scarce believe my eyes in reading forward, that "there never was so much
pleasure and dressing going on;” and that you yourself wanted black pins and feathers from France to appear, I suppose, in the mode! This leads me to imagine, that perhaps it is not so much that the goods are grown dear, as that the money is grown cheap, as every thing else will do when excessively plenty; and that people are still as easy nearly in their circumstances, as when a pair of gloves might be had for half a crown. The war indeed may in some degree raise the prices of goods, and the high taxes which are necessary to support the war may make our frugality necessary; and, as I am always preaching that doctrine, I cannot in conscience or in decency encourage the contrary, by my example, in furnishing my children with foolish modes and luxuries. I therefore send all the articles you desire, that are useful and necessary, and omit the rest; for, as you say you should “have great pride in wearing any thing I send, and showing it as your father's taste,” I must avoid giving you an opportunity of doing that with either lace or feathers. If you wear your cambric ruffles as I do, and take care not to mend the holes, they will come in time to be lace; and feathers, my dear girl, may be had in America from every cock's tail. If you happen again to see General Washington, assure him of my very great and sincere respect, and tell him, that all the old Generals here amuse themselves in studying the accounts of his operations, and approve highly of his conduct. Present my affectionate regards to all friends that inquire after me, particularly Mr. Duffield and family, and write oftener, my dear child, to your loving father, B. FRANKLIN.
TO WILLJAM GREENE, GOVERNOR OF RHODE ISLAND. Passy, June, 1779. DEAR SIR, I received your kind letter of December 10th, with the bills of exchange for two hundred and sixteen dollars, and with the list of goods you would have in return. As I live far from any seaport, and am unacquainted with merchandise, I sent the bills with your order directly to my nephew at Nantes, who will, I doubt not, accomplish it to your satisfaction. I shall be glad of any opportunity of being serviceable to your son-in-law, both for your sake and his father's. Your letter, with the first set of the bills, did not come to hand; which I regret the more, as by that means I have lost Mrs. Greene's letter, which you tell me was enclosed. Present my affectionate respects to her; and my love, with that of my grandson, to honest Ray; of whose welfare I am very glad to hear, and of his progress in his learning. If my sister continues under your hospitable roof, let her know, that I hope to receive hers of the 7th that you mention. Tell her, I have not time now to write to her, but will by the next opportunity; and that I am well, and love her as well as ever. With
great esteem and respect, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
P. S. If the Chevalier de la Luzerne should pass through your government, I recommend him warmly to your civilities. He goes over to supply the place of M. Gérard, as his Most Christian Majesty's minister to the Congress. He is a gentleman of a most amiable character here, has great connexions, and is a hearty friend to America.
VOL. VIII. 48 FF*
To John PAUL JONES. -
I received your favors of the 2d and 4th instant. I am sorry for the accidents, that have obliged your little squadron to return and refit, but I hope all may be for the best. Some days since, M. de Chaumont handed to me the substance of a letter in French, which contained heads of the instructions, that M. de Sartine wished me to give you. I had them translated, and put into the form of a letter to you, which I signed, and gave back to M. de Chaumont, who, I suppose, has sent it to you. I have no other orders to give; for, as the court is at the chief expense, I think they have the best right to direct.
I observe what you write about a change of the destination; but, when a thing has been once considered and determined on in council, they do not care to resume the consideration of it, having much business on hand, and there is not now time to obtain a reconsideration. It has been hinted to me, that the intention of ordering your cruise to finish at the Texel, is with a view of getting out that ship; but this should be kept a secret.
I can say nothing about Captain Landais' prize. I suppose the minister has an account of it, but I have heard nothing from him about it. If he reclaims it on account of his passport, we must then consider what is to be done. I approve of the careenage proposed for the Alliance, as a thing necessary. As she is said to be a remarkably swift sailer, I should hope you might by her means take some privateers, and a number of prisoners, so as to continue the cartel, and redeem all our poor countrymen. My best wishes ever attend you. I am, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
English and French Ministry.
Passy, 19 August, 1779. DEAR SIR, I have just now received your favor of the 17th. I wrote to you a day or two ago, and have little to add. You ask my opinion, what conduct the English will probably hold on this occasion, and whether they will not rather propose a negotiation for a peace. I have but one rule to go by in judging of those people, which is, that whatever is prudent for them to do they will omit; and what is most imprudent to be done, they will do it. This, like other general rules, may sometimes have its exceptions; but I think it will hold good for the most part, at least while the present ministry continues, or, rather, while the present madman has the choice of ministers.
You desire to know whether I am satisfied with the ministers here? It is impossible for anybody to be more so. I see they exert themselves greatly in the common cause, and do every thing for us they can. We can wish for nothing more, unless our great want of money should make us wish for a subsidy, to enable us to act more vigorously in expelling the enemy from their remaining posts, and reducing Canada. But their own expenses are so great, that I cannot press such an addition to it. I hope, however, that we shall get some supplies of arms and ammunition, and perhaps, when they can be spared, some ships to aid in reducing New York and Rhode Island.
• Proposed descent of a French army on the coast of England, for wluch the French government were now preparing; but the plan
u ultimately Imad aside.