« ZurückWeiter »
copies, to be distributed gratis among the members of Congress. I advised his addressing the package to you by way of Amsterdam, whence a friend of mine would forward it. It is accordingly shipped there on board the Van Berckel, Captain W. Campbell. There are good things in the work, but his chapter on the liberty of the press appears to me to contain more rhetoric than reason. With great esteem, I am ever, B. FRANKLIN.
TO JONATHAN WILLIAMS.
Passy, 19 May, 1785. The conversations you mention respecting America are suitable. Those people speak what they wish; but she was certainly never in a more happy situation. They are angry with us, and speak all manner of evil of us; but we flourish, notwithstanding. They put me in mind of a violent High Church factor, resident in Boston, when I was a boy. He had bought upon speculation a Connecticut cargo of onions, which he flattered himself he might sell again to great profit, but the price fell, and they lay upon hand. He was heartily vexed with his bargain, especially when he observed they began to grow in the store he had filled with them. He showed them one day to a friend. "Here they are," said he, "and they are growing too! I damn them every day; but I think they are like the Presbyterians; the more I curse them, the more they grow." Yours,
TO GEORGE WHATLEY.
Passy, 19 May, 1785.
DEAR OLD FRIEND,
I received the very good letter you sent me by my grandson, together with your resemblance, which is placed in my chamber, and gives me great pleasure. There is no trade, they say, without returns, and therefore I am punctual in making those you have ordered.
I intended this should have been a long epistle, but I am interrupted, and can only add, that I am ever yours most affectionately,
FROM COUNT DE VERGENNES TO B. FRANKLIN.
Regrets Dr. Franklin's Departure. — Assures him of the Esteem of the King.
Versailles, 22 May, 1785.
I have learned with much concern of your retiring, and of your approaching departure for America. You cannot doubt but that the regrets, which you will leave, will be proportionate to the consideration you so justly enjoy.
I can assure you, Sir, that the esteem the King entertains for you does not leave you any thing to wish, and that his Majesty will learn with real satisfaction, that your fellow citizens have rewarded, in a manner worthy of you, the important services that you have rendered them.
I beg, Sir, that you will preserve for me a share in
your remembrance, and never doubt the sincerity of the interest I take in your happiness. It is founded on the sentiments of attachment, of which I have assured you, and with which I have the honor to be, &c. DE VERGENNES.
TO GEORGE WHATLEY.
Moral and Philosophical Reflections. — Foundling Hospital at Paris. - Cincinnati.-American Confederation. Anecdote of three Greenlanders. Double Spectacles.
Passy, 23 May, 1785.
DEAR OLD FRIEND,
I sent you a few lines the other day, with my medallion, when I should have written more, but was prevented by the coming in of a bavard, who worried me till evening. I bore with him, and now you are to bear with me; for I shall probably bavarder in answering your letter.
I am not acquainted with the saying of Alphonsus, which you allude to as a sanctification of your rigidity, in refusing to allow me the plea of old age, as an excuse for my want of exactness in correspondence. What was that saying? You do not, it seems, feel any occasion for such an excuse, though you are, as you say, rising seventy-five. But I am rising (perhaps more properly falling) eighty, and I leave the excuse with you till you arrive at that age; perhaps you may then be more sensible of its validity, and see fit to use it for yourself.
I must agree with you, that the gout is bad, and that the stone is worse. I am happy in not having them both together, and I join in your prayer, that
you may live till you die without either. But I doubt the author of the epitaph you send me was a little mistaken, when he, speaking of the world, says, that "he ne'er cared a pin What they said or may say of the mortal within."
It is so natural to wish to be well spoken of, whether alive or dead, that I imagine he could not be quite exempt from that desire; and that at least he wished to be thought a wit, or he would not have given himself the trouble of writing so good an epitaph to leave behind him. Was it not as worthy of his care, that the world should say he was an honest and a good man? I like better the concluding sentiment in the old song, called The Old Man's Wish, wherein, after wishing for a warm house in a country town, an easy horse, some good authors, ingenious and cheerful companions, a pudding on Sundays, with stout ale, and a bottle of Burgundy, &c. &c., in separate stanzas, each ending with this burthen,
"May I govern my passions with absolute sway,
"With a courage undaunted may I face my last day,
But what signifies our wishing? Things happen, after all, as they will happen. I have sung that wishing song a thousand times, when I was young, and now find, at fourscore, that the three contraries have befallen me, being subject to the gout and the stone, and not being yet master of all my passions. Like the proud girl in my country, who wished and re
solved not to marry a parson, nor a Presbyterian, nor an Irishman; and at length found herself married to an Irish Presbyterian parson.
You see I have some reason to wish, that, in a future state, I may not only be as well as I was, but a little better. And I hope it; for I, too, with your poet, trust in God. And when I observe, that there is great frugality, as well as wisdom, in his works, since he has been evidently sparing both of labor and materials; for by the various wonderful inventions of propagation, he has provided for the continual peopling his world with plants and animals, without being at the trouble of repeated new creations; and by the natural reduction of compound substances to their original elements, capable of being employed in new compositions, he has prevented the necessity of creating new matter; so that the earth, water, air, and perhaps fire, which being compounded form wood, do, when the wood is dissolved, return, and again become air, earth, fire, and water; I say, that, when I see nothing annihilated, and not even a drop of water wasted, I cannot suspect the annihilation of souls, or believe, that he will suffer the daily waste of millions of minds ready made that now exist, and put himself to the continual trouble of making new ones. Thus finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist; and, with all the inconveniences human life is liable to, I shall not object to a new edition of mine; hoping, however, that the errata of the last may be corrected.
I return your note of children received in the Foundling Hospital at Paris, from 1741 to 1755, inclusive; and I have added the years succeeding, down to 1770. Those since that period I have not been able to obtain. I have noted in the margin the gradual increase,