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every one must be consulted on every particular of common business, in answering every letter, &c. and one of them is offended if the smallest thing is done without his consent, the difficulty of being often and long enough together, the different opinions, and the time consumed in debating them, the interruption of new applicants in the time by meeting, &c. 8tc. occasion so much postponing and delay, that correspondence languishes, occasions are lost, and the business is always behind-hand. I have mentioned the difficulty of being often and long enough together: this is considerable, where they cannot all be accommodated in the same house: but to find three people whose tempers are so good, and who like so well one another's company, and manner of living and conversing, as to agree well themselves, though being in one house, and whose servants will not, by their indiscretion, quarrel with one another, and by artful misrepresentations draw their masters in to take their parts, to the disturbance of necessary harmony; these are difficulties still greater, and almost insurmountable: and in consideration of the whole, I wish the congress would separate us.
The Spanish galeons, which have been impatiently expected, are at length happily arrived. The fleet and army returning from Brazil, is still out, but supposed to be on the way homewards. When that and the South Sea ships are arrived, it will appear whether Spain's accession to the treaty has been delayed for the reasons given, or whether the reasons were only given to excuse the delay.
The English and French fleets, of nearly equal force, are now both at sea. It is not doubted but that if they meet there will be a battle. For though England, through fear, affects to understand it to be still peace, and excuses the depredations she has made on the commerce of France by pretences of illicit trade, 8cc. yet France considers the war as begun from the time of the king's message to parliament, complaining of the insult France had given by treating with -us, and demanding aids to resent it, and the answers of both houses offering their lives and fortunes, and the taking several frigates, are deemed indisputable hostilities. Accordingly, orders are given to all the fleets and armed ships to return hostilities, and encouragement is offered to privateers, &c. An ambassador from Spain is indeed gone to London, and joyfully received there, in the idea that peace may be made by bis mediation. But as yet we learn nothing certain of his mission, and doubt his effecting any thing of the kind.
War in Germany seems to be inevitable; and this occasioning great borrowings of money in Holland and elsewhere, by the powers concerned, makes it more difficult for us to succeed in ours. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, &c. B. Franklin.
To Dr. Cooper.
My Dear Friend, Passy, April 22, 1779.
I received your valuable letter by the Marquis de la Fayette, and another by Mr. Bradford. I can only write a few words in answer to the latter, the former hot being at hand. The depreciation of our money must, as you observe, greatly affect salary men, widows, and orphans. Methinks this evil deserves the attention of the several legislatures, and ought if possible to be remedied by some equitable law, particularly adapted to their circumstances.• I took all the pains I could in congress to prevent the depreciation, by proposing, first, that the bills should bear interest: this was rejected, and they were struck as you see them. Secondly, after the first emission, I proposed that we should
stop, strike no more, but borrow on interest those we had issued. This was not then approved of, and more bills were issued. When from the too great quantity tbey began to depreciate, we agreed to borrow on interest, and I proposed that in order to fix the value of the principal, the interest should be promised in hard dollars. This was objected to as impracticable: but I still continue of opinion, that by sending out cargoes to purchase it we might have brought in money sufficient for that purpose, as we brought in powder, &c. &c. And that though the attempt must have been attended .with a disadvantage, the loss would have been a less mischief than any measure attending the discredit of the bills, which threatens to take out of our hands the great instrument of bur defence. The congress did at last come into the proposal of paying the interest in real money. But when the whole mass of the currency was under way in depreciation, the momentum of its descent was too great to be stopped by a power that might at first have been sufficient to prevent the beginning of the motion. The only remedy now seems to be a diminution of the quantity by a vigorous taxation, of great nominal sums, which the people are more able to pay in proportion to the quantity ;and diminished value; and the only consolation under the evil is,. that the public debt is proportionably diminished with the .depreciation; and this by a kind of imperceptible tax, every one having paid a part of it in the fall of value that took place between the receiving and paying such sums. as passed through his hands. For it should always be remembered, that the original intention was to sink the bills ,by taxes, which would as effectually extinguish the debt as an! actual redemption. This effect of paper currency is not,understood on this side the water. And indeed the whole is a mystery even td the politicians, how we have been able to
continue a war four years without money, and how we could pay with paper that had no previously fixed fund appropriated specifically to redeem it. This currency, as we manage' it, is a wonderful :machine. It performs its office when we issue it; it pays arid clothes troops, and provides victuals and ammunition; and, when we are obliged to issue a quantity excessive, it pays itIjeif off by depreciation.
Our affairs in general stand in a fair light throughout Europe. Our cause is' universally approved. Our constitutions of government have been translated and printed in most languages, and are so much admired for the spirit of liberty that reigris in. them, that it is generally agreed we shall have a vast accession of national property after the war, from every part of this continent, and particularly from the British islands. We have only to persevere and to be happy. '. Yours, &c. B.franklin.
To The Hon. Josiah Quincy, Esq.
Character of the French nation—Censures the people of . '. l . America. '..
Dear Sir, Patsy, April'22, 1779.
I received your very kind letter by Mr. Bradford, who appears a very sensible and amiable young gentleman, to whom I Should with pleasure render any service here, upon your much respected recommendation; but I understand he returns immediately.
It is with great sincerity I join you in acknowledging and admiring the dispensations of .Providence in our favor. America has only to be thankful and persevere. God will finish his wdrk, and establish their freedom; and the lovers of liberty will flock from all parts of Europe with their fortunes to participate with us of that freedom—as soon as the peace is restored.
I am exceedingly pleased with your account of the French politeness and civility, as it appeared among the officers and people of their fleet. They have certainly advanced in those respects many degrees beyond the English. I find them here a must amiable nation to live with. The Spaniards are, by common opinion, supposed to be cruel, the English proud, the Scotch insolent, the Dutch avaricious, &c.; but I think the French have no national vice ascribed to them. They have some frivolities, but they are harmless. To dress their heads so that a hat cannot be put on them, and then wear their hats under their arms, and to till their noses with tobacco, may be called follies perhaps, but they are not vices; they are only the effects of the tyranny of custom. In short, there is nothing wanting in the character, of a Frenchman that belongs to that of an agreeable and worthy man. They have only some trifles, a surplus of which might be spared.
Will you permit me, while I do them this justice, to hint a little censure on our own country people? which I do in good-will, wishing the cause removed. You know the necessity we are under of supplies from Europe, and the difficulty we have at present in making returns. The interest bills would do a good deal towards purchasing arms, ammunition, clothing, sailcloth, and other necessaries for defence. Upon inquiry of those who present those bills to me for acceptance, what the money is to be laid out in, I find that most of it is for superfluities, and more than half of it for tea! How unhappily in this instance the folly of our people, and the avidity of our merchants, concur to weaken and impoverish our country! I formerly computed that we cwrsumed before the war, in that single article, the value of 500,000/. sterling annually. Much of this was saved by stopping the use of it. I honored the virtuous resolution of