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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.1 With sincere esteem and affection, I am, my dear friend, ever yours, B.franklin.
1 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 V.-• h.' .
To * * * .. .i
Thanking him for his works—Criminal laws—on his project of removing i America.
Sir, Passy, J'n. 11, l?83.
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 put 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 seut 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. 1 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
sions, and that we may soon expect the satisfaction of seeing the two volumes on that subject which you have now under the press.
With regard to your project of removing to America, though I am sure that a person of your knowledge, just sentiments, and useful talents, would be a valuable acquisition for our countr)', I cannot encourage you to undertake hastily such a voyage, because for a man to expatriate himself is a serious business, and should be well considered, especially where the distance is so great, and the expense of removing thither with a family, and of returning if the country should not suit you, will be so heavy. 1 have no orders or authority of any kind to encourage strangers with expectations of employment by our government, nor am I empowered to be at any expense in transporting them, though our country is open, and strangers may establish themselves there, where they soon become citizens, and are respected according to their conduct. Men know, because they feel, the inconveniences of their present situation; but they do not know those that may, if they change, attend the new one. I wish therefore you could see that country by yourself, before you carry thither the lady with whom you propose to be united in marriage. You will then be able to form a good judgment how far the removal is likely to be advantageous, and may proceed on surer grounds. England has now acknowledged our independence, and the sovereignty of our government; and several states of Europe, who think a commerce with us may be beneficial to them, are preparing to send ministers to reside near the congress. I think it is possible to establish a profitable trade between the kingdoms of Naples and America. Should your court be of that opinion, and think fit to employ some one to visit our several states, and take information of our productions and wants, the nature of our
commerce, &c. &c., perhaps it could not find a fitter person than yourself for such a mission: I would afford you all the assistance in my power towards its due execution; and by this means your voyage would not only be without expense to you, but might afford you some profit.
With great and sincere esteem, I have the honor to be, sir, &c. B.franklin.
To David Barclay, Esq. London.
Dear Sir, Passy, Jan. 8, 1783.
I received yesterday your favor of the 27th past, which I immediately answer, as you desire to know soon my opinion respecting the publication of a certain paper. I see no objection, and leave it entirely to your discretion. I have had several letters from our inestimable friend that would do him honor, as they generally contained some schemes and plans for the public good; but they were left among my papers in America, and I know not how those have fared in our troubles. If I live to get home, I will send you what I can find; they may perhaps serve in a second edition of the work, which I am much pleased to hear is undertaken by so good a hand, and that it will have the benefit of your inspection. I thank you for the pamphlet you sent me. It is full of good sense, and I doubt not had great effect, as the sentiments it contains soon after became general. Your friends on both sides the Atlantic may be assured of whatever justice or favor I may be able to procure for them. My veneration for William Peun is not less than yours; and £ have always had great esteem for the body of your people. With. great and sincere respect, I am,
Dear Sir, your most obedient
and most humble servant,
P; S. As possibly your wet harvest may have in some' places produced a quantity of what is called grown corn, 1 send you enclosed a pamphlet published here on that subject, which may contain some useful hints.
To * * *.
Dear Sir, Passy, March 9, 1783.
. i»wi Your favor of the 25th past is but just come to hand. I think with you, that the making you pay 23/. for our passport is a shameful imposition. Your secretaries had 200 of us, in exchange for as many of theirs indeed, but we had no occasion for a quarter of the number; and those that were wanted we gave away gratis. There is no bounds to the avidity of officers in old corrupt governments.
Your reasoning is right, that there is no occasion generally for an express treaty to enable subjects of different states in amity to trade with each other. But in the present case, you know you have acts of parliament forbidding you to trade with us; and our people have acts of congress forbid. ding all commerce with yours. It does not seem clear that a treaty of peace necessarily repeals these acts. A late act of parliament empowering the king to suspeud them, implies tkat otherwise they would continue in force till repealed, and they are not as yet either repealed or suspended. It is probable, that when it shall be known in America that they are repealed, similar repeals will take place there. Till then I should imagine English goods landed there may be subject to confiscation. But if your ship only arrives in porty-aad remains without breaking bulk, till the commerce is legally opened, or a permission to land and store them obtained, I should suppose they would be safe, though 1 have not the law before me, therefore cannot speak positively. It is pro