« ZurückWeiter »
repose and a private life. I hope however to be able to bear the fatigue for one year, and then to retire.
I have much regretted our having so little opportunity for conversation when we last met.' You could have given me informations and counsels that I wanted, but we were scarce a minute together without being broken in upon. I am to thank you however for the pleasure I had after our parting, in reading the new book? you gave me, which I think generally well written and likely to do good : though the reading time of most people is of late so taken up with newspapers, and little periodical pamphlets, that few now-a-days venture to attempt reading a quarto volume. I have admired to see that in the last century, a folio, Burton on Melancholy, went through six editions in about forty years. We have, I believe, more readers now, but not of such large books.
You seem desirous of knowing what progress we make here in improving our governments. We are I think in the right road of improvement, for we are making esperiments. I do not oppose all that seem wrong, for the multitude are more effectually set right by experience, than kept from going wrong by reasoning with them. And I think we are daily more and more enlightened'; so that I have no doubt of our obtaining in a few years as much public felicity as good government is capable of affording: Your newspapers are filled with fictitious accounts of anarchy, confusion, distresses and miseries we are supposed to be involved in, as consequences of the revolution;
" At Southampton, previous to Dr. Franklin's embarking for the United States
2 Paley's Moral Philosoply.
and the few remaining friends of the old government among us, take pains to magnify every little inconvenience a change in the course of commerce may have occasioned. To obviate the complaints they endeavour to excite, was written the inclosed little piece," from which you may form a truer idea of our situation, than your own public prints would give you. And I can assure you that the great body of our nation find theniselves happy in the change, and have not the smallest inclination to return to the domination of Britain. There could not be a stronger proof of the general approbation of the measures that promoted the change, and of the change itself, than has been given by the Assembly and Council of this State, in the nearly unanimous choice for their Governor, of one who had been so much concerned in those measures; the assembly being themselves the unbribed choice of the peo. ple, and therefore may be truly supposed of the same sentiments. I say nearly unanimous, because of between .70 and 80 votes, there were only my own, and one other in the negative. . ,
As to my domestic circumstances, of which you kindly desire to hear something, they are at present as happy as I could wish them. I am surrounded by my offspring, a dutiful and affectionate daughter in my house, with six grand children, the eldest of which you have seen, who is now at College in the next street, finishing the learned part of his education ; the others promising both for parts and good dispositions. What their conduct may be when they grow up and enter the important scenes of life, I shall not live to sce, and I cannot foresee. I therefore enjoy
! Uncertain what picce is alluded to.
among them the present hour, and leave the future to Providence.
He that raises a large family, does indeed, while he lives to observe them, stand, as Watts says, a broader mark for sorrow; but then he stands a broader mark for pleasure too. When we launch our little fleet of barks into the ocean, bound to different ports, we hope for each a prosperous voyage; but contrary winds, hidden shoals, storms and enemies come in for a share in the disposition of events; and though these occasion a mixture of disappointment, yet considering the risk where we can make no insurance, we should think ourselves happy if some return with success. My son's son, (Temple Franklin) whoin you have also seen, having had a fine farm of 600 acres conveyed to him by his father when we were at Southampton, has dropped for the present his views of acting in the political line, and applies himself ardently to the study and practice of agriculture. This is much more agreeable to me, who esteem it the most useful, the most independent, and therefore the noblest of employments. His lands are on navigable water, communicating with the Delaware, and but about 16 miles from this city. He has associated to himself a very skilful English farmer lately arrived here, who is to instruct him in the business, and pártakes for a term of the profits; so that there is a great apparent probability of their success. You will kindly expect a word or two concerning myself. My health and spirits continue, thanks to God, as when you saw me. The only complaint I then had, does not grow worse, and is tolerable. I still have enjoyment in the company of my friends ; and being easy in my circumstances, have many reasons to like living. But the course of nature must
soon put a period to my present mode of existence. This I shall submit to with less regret, as, having seen during a long life a good deal of this world, I feel a growing curiosity to be acquainted with some other; and can cheerfully with filial confidence resign my spirit to the conduct of that great and good parent of mankiud who created it, and who has so graciously protected and prospered me from my birth to the present hour. Wherever I am, I hope always to retain the pleasing remembrance of your friendship, being with sincere and great esteem, my dear friend, yours most affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.
We all join in respects to Mrs. Shipley, and best wishes for the whole amiable family.
To M. LE VEILLARD or Passy. On the flourishing State of America.—The Cardinal de
Rohan, &c. &c. ' My Dear Friend, Philadelphia, March 6, 1786.
I received and read with great pleasure your kind letter of October 9. It informed me of your welfare, and that of the best of good women, and of her amiable daughter, who I think will tread in her steps. My effects came all in the same ship, in good order ;
and we are now drinking every day les eaux epurées de 'Passy with great satisfaction, as they kept well, and seem to be rendered more agreeable by the long voyage. I am here in the bosom of my family, and am not only happy myself, but have the felicity of seeing my country so. Be assured that all the stories spread in the English papers of our distresses, and confusions, and discontents with our new governments, are as chimerical as the history of my
being in chains at Algiers. They exist only in the wishes of our enemies. America never was in higher prosperity, her produce abundant and bearing a good price, her working people all employed and well paid, and all property in lands and houses of more than treble the value it bore before the war ; and our commerce being no longer the monopoly of British merchants, we are furnished with all the foreign commodities we need, at much more reasonable rates than heretofore. So that we have no doubt of being able to discharge more speedily the debt incurred by the war than at first was apprehended. Our modes of collecting taxes are indeed as yet imperfect, and we have need of more skill in financering; but we improve in that kind of knowledge daily by experience. That our people are contented with the revolution, with their new constitutions, and their foreign connections, nothing can afford a stronger proof than the universally cordial and joyous reception with which they welcomed the return of one that was supposed to have had a considerable share in promoting them. All this is in answer to that part of your letter in which you seem to have been too much impressed with sobie of the ideas which those lying English papers endeavour to inculcate concerning us. .
I am astonished by what you write concerning the Prince Evêque.' If the charges against him are made good, it will be another instance of the truth of those proverbs which teach us, that Prodigality begets necessity, that without Economy no revenue is sufficient, and that it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright.
I am glad to hear of the marriage of Miss Brillon; for
"The Cardinal de Rohan.