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To MADAME LAVOISIER.
Thanking her for his Portrait, &c.
Philadelphia, Oct. 23, 1788,
I have a long time been disabled from writing to my dear friend, by a severe fit of the gout, or I should sooner have returned my thanks for her very
kiod present of the portrait, which she has herself done me the honour to make of me. It is allowed by those who have seen it to have great merit as a picture in every respect; but what particularly endears it to me is the hand that drew it. Our English enemies, when they were in possession of this city and my house, made a prisoner of my portrait, and carried it off with them, leaving that of its companion, my wife, by itself, a kind of widow. You have replaced the husband, and the lady seems to smile as well pleased.
It is true, as you observe, that I enjoy here every thing that a reasonable mind can desire, a sufficiency of income, a comfortable habitation of my own building, having all the conveniences I could imagine ; a dutiful and affectionate daughter to nurse and take care of me, a number of promising grandchildren, some old friends still remaining to converse with, and more respect, distinction, and public honors than I can possibly merit; these are the blessings of God, and depend on his continued goodness : yet all do not make me forget Paris and the nine years' happiness I enjoyed there, in the sweet society of a people whose conversation is instructive, whose manners are highly pleasing, and who above. all the nations of the world, have in the greatest perfection the art of making themselves beloved by strangers. And now, even in my sleep, I find, that the scenes of all my pleasant dreams are laid in that city, or in its neighbourhood.
I like much young M. Dupont. He appears a very sensible and valuable man, and I think his father will have a great deal of satisfaction in him.
Please to present my thanks to M. Lavoisier for the Nomenclature Chimique he has been so good as to send me, (it must be a very useful book) and assure him of my great and sincere esteem and attachment. My best wishes attend you both, and I think I cannot wish you and him greater happiness than a long continuance of the connexion,
With great regard and affection, I have the honor to be, my dear friend, your most obliged and nost obedient humble servant,
To DR. INGENHAUZ.
Relative to the State of his Health.--The Steam Boat. (EXTRACT.)
October 24, 1788. “ You have always been kind enough to interest yourself in what relates to my health : I ought therefore to acquaint you with what appears to me something curious respecting it: you may remember the cutaneous malady, I formerly complained of, and for which you and Dr, Pringle favored me with prescriptions and advice. It'vexed me near fourteen years, and was the beginning of this year as bad as ever, covering almost my whole body except my face and hands : when a fit of the gout came on, without very much pain, but a swelling in both feet, which at last appeared also in both knees; and then in my hands. As these swellings increased and extended, the other malady diminished, and at length disappeared entirely. Those swellings have some time since begun to fall, and are now almost gone; perhaps the cutaneous may return, or perhaps it is worn out. I may, hereafter let you know what happens. I am on the whole much weaker than when it began to leave me. But possibly that may be the effect of age, for I am now near 83, the age of commencing decrepitude.
I grieve at the wars Europe is engaged in, and wish they were ended; for I fear even the victors will be losers. I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
P. S. Our public affairs are drawing towards a settlement. I have served out the three years term of my Presidentship, limited by the constitution; and being determined to engage no more in public business, I hope, if health permits, to be a better correspondent. We have no philosophical news here at present, except that a boat moved by a steam engine, rows itself against tide in our river, and it is apprehended the construction may be so simplified and improved as to beconie generally useful.”
To B. VAUGHAN, Esg. Relative to his own Memoirs. The Turkish War.
Drs. Price and Priestly.-Heresy. (EXTRACT.)
October 24, 1788.
“ Having now finished my term in the Presidentship, and resolving to engage no more in public affairs, I hope to be a better correspondent for the little time I have to live. I am recovering from a long continued gout, and am diligently employed in writing the History of my Life, to the doing of which the persuasions contained in your letter of January 31, 1783,' have not a little contributed. I am now in the year 1756 just before I was sent to England. To shorten the work, as well as for other reasons, I omit all facts and transactions that may not have a tendency to benefit the young reader, by showing him from my example, and my success in emerging from poverty, and acquiring some degree of wealth, power, and reputation, the advantages of certain modes of conduct which I observed, and of avoiding the errors which were prejudicial to me. If a writer can judge properly of his own work, I fancy on reading over what is already done, that the book may be found entertaining, interesting, and useful, more so than I expected when I began it. If my present state of health continues, I hope to finish it this winter: when done you shall have a manuscript copy of it, that I may obtain from your judgment and 'friendship, such remarks as may contribute to its improvement.
The violence of our party debates about the new constitution seenis much abated, indeed almost extinct, and we are getting fast into good order. I kept out of those disputes pretty well, having wrote only one little piece, which I send you inclosed.
I regret the immense quantity of misery brought upon mankind by this Turkish war; and I am afraid the King of Sweden may burn his fingers by attacking Russia. When will princes learn arithmetic enough to calculate
" See MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE. PART II.
if they want pieces of one another's territory, how much cheaper it would be to buy them, than to make war for them, even though they were to give an hundred years purchase? But if glory cannot be valued, and therefore the wars for it cannot be subject to arithmetical calculation so as to show their advantage or disadvantage, at least wars for trade, which have gain for their object, may be proper subjects for such computation; and a trading nation as well as a single trader ought to calculate the probabilities of profit and loss, before engaging in any considerable adventure. This however nations seldom do, and we have had frequent instances of their spending more money in wars for acquiring or securing branches of commerce, than an hundred years' profit or the full enjoyment of them can compensate.
Remember me affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestly. I do not call him honest by way of distinction ; for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not, like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not, however, mistake me.
It is not to my good friend's heresy that 1 impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic. I am ever, my dear friend, yours sincerely,