Abbildungen der Seite


You wish to know what allowance I make to my private secretary. My grandson, W. Temple Franklin, came over with me, served me as private secretary during the time of the commissioners, and no secretary to the commission arriving, though we had been made to expect one, he did business for us all, and this without any allowance for his services, though both Mr. Lee and Mr. Deane at times mentioned it to me as a thing proper to be done, and a justice due to him. When I became appointed sole minister here, and the whole business which the commissioners had before divided with me came into my hands, I was obliged to exact more service "from him, and he was indeed, by being so long in the business, become capable of doing more. At length, in the beginning of the year 1781, considering his constant close attention to the duties required of him, and his having thereby missed the opportunity of studying the law, for which he had been intended, I determined to make him some compensation for the time past, and fix some appointment for the time to come, till the pleasure of congress respecting him should be taken. I accordingly settled an account with him; allowing him from the beginning of December 1776, to the end of 1777, the sum of 3400 livres; and for the year 1778, the sum of 4000 livres; for 1779, 4300 livres; and for 1780, 6000 livres: since that time, I have allowed him at the rate of 300 louis per annum, being what I saw had been allowed by congress to the secretary of Mr. William Lee, who could not have had, I imagine, a fourth part of the business to go through; since my secretary, besides the writing and copying the papers relative to my common ministerial transactions, has had all those occasioned by my acting in the various employments of judge of admiralty, consul, purchaser of goods for the public, &c. besides that of the acceptor of the congress bills, a business that requires being always at home; bills coming

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 mention 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." B. FRANK LIN.

To S1 R Jos EPH BAN Ks, 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 peaceful times when I could sit down in sweet society with my

* See pages 78 and 80 of this volume.

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 thus employed in your most desirable company, than in that of all the grandees of the earth projecting plans of mischief, however 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, B. FRANK LIN.

To F. Hopkinson, Esq. *m. Planting trees in Philadelphia—Newspaper abuse. (ExTRAct.) 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 gentleman 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 reputation, 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, - B. FRANKL1N.

* 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

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »