« ZurückWeiter »
to search with you into the works of nature; I mean the inanimate, not the animate or moral part of them; the more I discovered of the former, the more I admired them; the more I know of the latter, the more I am disgusted with them. Men I find to be a sort of beings very badly constructed, as they are generally more easily provoked than reconciled, more disposed to do mischief to each other than to make reparation, much more easily deceived than undeceived, and having more pride and even pleasure in killing than in begetting one another; for without a blush they assemble in great armies at noonday to destroy, and when they have killed as many as they can, they exaggerate the number to augment the fancied glory; but they creep into corners, or cover themselves with the darkness of night, when they mean to beget, as being ashamed of a virtuous action. A virtuous action it would be, and a vicious one the killing of them, if the species were really worth producing or preserving; but of this I begin to doubt. I know you have no such doubts, because, in your zeal for their welfare, you are taking a great deal of pains to save their souls. Perhaps as you grow older, you may look upon this as a hopeless project, or an idle amusement, repent of having murdered in mephitic air so many honest, harmless mice, and wish, that, to prevent mischief, you had used boys and girls instead of them. In what light we are viewed by superior beings, may be gathered from a piece of late West India news, which possibly has not yet reached you. A young angel of distinction being sent down to this world on some business, for the first time, had an old courier-spirit assigned him as a guide. They arrived over the seas of Martinico, in the middle of the long day of obstinate fight between the fleets of Rodney, and De Grasse. When, through the clouds of smoke, he saw the fire of the guns, the decks covered with mangled limbs, and bodies dead or dying; the ships sinking, burning, or blown into the air; and the quantity of pain, misery, and destruction, the crews yet alive were thus with so much eagerness dealing round to one another; he turned angrily to his guide, and said, “You blundering blockhead, you are ignorant of your business; you undertook to conduct me to the earth, and you have brought me into hell!” “No, Sir,” says the guide, “I have made no mistake; this is really the earth, and these are men. Devils never treat one another in this cruel manner; they have more sense, and more of what men (vainly) call humanity.” * But to be serious, my dear old friend, I love you as much as ever, and I love all the honest souls that meet at the London Coffee-House. I only wonder how it happened, that they and my other friends in England came to be such good creatures in the midst of so perverse a generation. I long to see them and you once more, and I labor for peace with more earnestness, that I may again be happy in your sweet society. I showed your letter to the Duke de Larochefoucauld, who thinks with me, that the new experiments you have made are extremely curious; and he has given me thereupon a note, which I enclose, and I request you would furnish me with the answer desired. Yesterday the Count du Nord * was at the Academy of Sciences, when sundry experiments were exhibited for his entertainment; among them, one by
M. Lavoisier, to show that the strongest fire we yet know, is made in a charcoal blown upon with dephlogisticated air. In a heat so produced, he melted platina presently, the fire being much more powerful than that of the strongest burning mirror. Adieu, and believe me ever yours most affectionately,
- o B. FRANKLIN.
To JonATHAN SHIPLEY, BISHOP of ST. AsAPH.
I received and read the letter from my dear and much respected friend with infinite pleasure. After so long a silence, and the long continuance of its unfortunate causes, a line from you was a prognostic of happier times approaching, when we may converse and communicate freely, without danger from the malevolence of men enraged by the ill success of their distracted projects.
I long with you for the return of peace, on the general principles of humanity. The hope of being able to pass a few more of my last days happily in the sweet conversations and company I once enjoyed at Twyford,” is a particular motive that adds strength to the general wish, and quickens my industry to procure that best of blessings. After much occasion to consider the folly and mischiefs of a state of warfare, and the little or no advantage obtained even by those nations, who have conducted it with the most success, I have been apt to think, that there has never been, nor ever will be, any such thing as a good war, or a bad peace. --~
* The country residence of the Bishop.
You ask if I still relish my old studies. I relish them, but I cannot pursue them. My time is engrossed unhappily with other concerns. I requested of the Congress last year my discharge from this public station, that I might enjoy a little leisure in the evening of a long life of business; but it was refused me, and I have been obliged to drudge on a little longer. You are happy as 'your years come on, in having that dear and most amiable family about you. Four daughters! how rich I have but one, and she, necessarily detained from me at a thousand leagues distance. I feel the want of that tender care of me, which might be expected from a daughter, and would give the world for one. Your shades are all placed in a row over my fireplace, so that I not only have you always in my mind, but constantly before my eyes. The cause of liberty and America has been greatly obliged to you. I hope you will live long to see that country flourish under its new constitution, which I am sure will give you great pleasure. Will you permit me to express another hope, that, now your friends are in power, they will take the first opportunity of showing the sense they ought to have of your virtues and your merit? Please to make my best respects acceptable to Mrs Shipley, and embrace for me tenderly all our dear children. With the utmost esteem, respect, and veneration, I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately, - B. FRANKLIN.
TO MRS. MARY HEWSON. Passy, 13 June, 1782. My DEAR CHILD, I received your pleasing letter of the 1st of May, through the hands of Mr. Hodgson, and one since by Mr. Oswald. You cannot be more pleased in talking about your children, your methods of instructing them, and the progress they make, than I am in hearing it, and in finding, that, instead of following the idle amusements, which both your fortune and the custom of the age might have led you into, your delight and your duty go together, by employing your time in the education of your offspring. This is following nature and reason, instead of fashion; than which nothing is more becoming the character of a woman of sense and virtue. We have here a female writer on education, who has lately published three volumes, that are much talked of. I will send them to you by the first opportunity. They are much praised and much censured. The author, Madame la Comtesse de Genlis, is made, in consequence of her writing that work, governess of the children of the Duc de Chartres, who is son of the Duke of Orleans. Perhaps you may not find much in it, that can be of use to you, but you may find something. I enclose another piece on the same subject, written by another Comtesse, Madame de Forbach, who does me the honor of calling me her friend, by which means I have a copy, it not being published. When you have leisure, I shall like to see your remarks. Do not send any books to Geneva. The troubles of that city have driven the school and my boy out of it, and I have thoughts of sending for him home. Perhaps I may put him for a while under your care,