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by post from different ports and countries, and often requiring immediate answers, whether good or not; and to that end, it being necessary to examine them by the books exactly kept of all preceding acceptations, in order to detect double presentations, which happen very frequently, the great number of these bills makes almost sufficient business for one person, and the confinement they occasion is such that we cannot allow ourselves a day's excursion into the country, and the want of exercise has hurt our healths in several instances." The congress pay much larger salaries to some secretaries, who I believe deserve them, but not more than my grandson does ; the comparatively small one I have allowed to him, his fidelity, exactitude and address in transacting business, being really what one could wish in such an officer, and the genteel appearance a young gentleman in his station obliges him to make, requiring at least such' an income. I do not inention the extraordinary business that has been imposed upon us in this embassy as a foundation for demanding higher salaries than others. I never solicited for a public office either for myself or any relative, yet I never refused one that I was capable of executing, when public service was in question; and I never bargained for salary, but contented myself with whatever my constituents were pleased to allow me. The congress will therefore consider every article charged in my account distinct from the salary originally voted, not as what I presumed to insist upon, but as what I propose only for their consideration, and they will allow what they think proper. You desire an accurate estimate of those contingent expenses. I enclose copies of two letters which passed between Mr. Adams and me on the subject, and show the articles of which they consist. Their amount in different years may be found in my accounts, except the article of house-rent, which has never yet been settled, M. de Chaumont, our landlord,
. having originally proposed to leave it till the end of the war, and then to accept for it a piece of American land from the congress, such as they might judge equivalent: if the congress did intend all contingent charges whatever to be included in the salary, and do not think proper to pay on the whole so much, in that case I would humbly suggest that the saving may be most conveniently made by a diminution of the salary, leaving the contingencies to be charged; because they may necessarily be very different in different years, and in different courts. I have been the more diffuse on this subject, as your letter gave me occasion for it, and it is probably the last time I shall mention it.
Be pleased to present my dutiful respects to congress ; assure them of my best services, and believe me to be, with sincere esteem, &c.
B. FRANKLIN. P.S. As you will probably lay this letter before congress, I take the liberty of joining to it an extract of my letter to the president, of the 12th of March, 1781, and of repeating my request therein contained, relative to my grandson. I enclose likewise extracts of letters from Messrs. Jay and Laurens, which both show the regard those gentlemen have for him, and their desire of his being noticed by the congress.'
To Sir JOSEPH BANKS, President of the Royal Society, London. Dear Sir,
Passy, Sept. 9, 1782. I have just received the very kind friendly letter you were so good as to write to me by Dr. Broussonnet. Be assured that I long earnestly for a return of those peace. ful times when I could sit down in sweet society with my
English philosophical friends, communicating to each other new discoveries, and proposing improvements of old ones ; all tending to extend the power of man over matter, avert or diminish the evils he is subject to, or augment the number of his enjoyments. Much more happy should I be thys em ployed in your most desirable company, than in that of all the grandees of the earth projecting plans of mischief, how, ever necessary they may be supposed for obtaining greater good.
I am glad to learn by the Doctor that your great work goes on. I admire your magnanimity in the undertaking, and the perseverance with which you have prosecuted it. I
join with you most perfectly in the charming wish you so well express, “ that such measures may be taken by both parties as may tend to the elevation of both, rather than the destruction of either." If any thing has happened endangering one of them, my comfort is, that I endeavored earnestly to prevent it, and gave honest, faithful advice, which, if it had been regarded, would have been effectual. And still, if proper means are used to produce, not only a peace, but what is much more interesting, a thorough reconciliation, a few years may heal the wounds that have been made in our happiness, and produce a degree of prosperity of which at present we can hardly form a conception. With great and sincere esteem and respect, I am, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
Passy, Dec. 24, 1782. “ I thank you for your ingenious paper in favor of the trees. I own I now wish we had two rows of them in every one of our streets. The comfortable shelter they
would afford us, when walking, from our burning summer suns, and the greater coolness of our walls and pavements, would, I conceive, in the improved health of the inhabitants; amply compensate the loss of a house now and then by fire, if such should be the consequence: but a tree is soon felled; and as axes are at hand in every neighborhood, may be down before the engines arrive.
You do well to avoid being concerned in the pieces of personal abuse, so scandalously common in our newspapers, that I am afraid to lend any of them here, till I have examined and laid aside such as would disgrace us, and subject us among strangers to a reflection like that used by a gentlem in a coffee-house to two quarrellers, who after a mutually free use of the words rogue, villain, rascal, scoundrel, &c. seemed as if they would refer their dispute to him: “I know nothing of you, or your affairs,” said he; “ I only perceive that you know one another."
The conductor of a newspaper should, methinks, consider himself as in some degree the guardian of his country's rex putation, and refuse to insert such writings as may hurt it. If people will print their abuses of one another, let them do it in little pamphlets, and distribute them where they think proper. It is absurd to trouble all the world with them, and unjust to subscribers in distant places, to stuff their paper with matters so unprofitable and so disagreeable." With sincere esteem and affection, I am, my dear friend, ever yours,
' A law to forbid and to punish newspaper calumny would now be styled, an Infringement of the Liberty of the Press: but this liberty of the press consisting merely in the liberty that perhaps fifty persons in a community, who are capable of writing for the public, claim of abusing at their pleasure all the rest who cannot write, one would
To * *
Thanking him for his works--Criminal laws-on his
project of removing ". America. . SIR,
Passy, Jin. 11, 1783. The letter you did me the honor of writing to me in August last came to my hands when I lay ill of two painful disorders, which confined me near three months, and with the multiplicity of business that followed, obliged me to postpone much of my correspondence. I have yesterday received a second letter from you, and I now without further delay sit down to answer them both.
The two first volumes of your excellent work, which were pat into my hands by M. Pio, I perused with great pleasure. They are also much esteemed by some very judicious persons to whom I have lent them. I should have been glad of another copy for one of those friends, who is very desirous of procuring it, but I suppose those you mention to have sent to M. Pio, did not arrive. I was glad to learn, that you were proceeding to consider the criminal laws. None have more need of reformation. They are everywhere in so great disorder, and so much injustice is committed in the execution of them, that I have been sometimes inclined to imagine less would exist in the world if there were no such laws, and the punishment of injuries were left to private resentment. I am glad therefore, that you have not suffered yourself to be discouraged by any objections or apprehen
think that even a writer who had a moderate share of good-nature with common sensibility, should think it no bad bargain if he were to give up his liberty of abusing others, in exchange for the privilege ef not being abused himself.
[See also a Letter “ On the Abuse of the Press.” March 30, 1788,}