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sible for me, I shall be glad to attend the meetings of your society,* which I am sure must be very instructive.
“ B. FRANKLIN."
“ To Francis Hopkinson, Philadelphia.
“ Passy, September 13, 1781. “Dear Sir, “I have received your kind letter of July 17, with its duplicate, enclosing those for Messrs. Brandlight and Sons, which I have forwarded. I am sorry for the loss of the squibs. Everything of yours gives mé pleasure.
“ As to the friends and enemies you just mention, I have hitherto, thanks to God, had plenty of the former kind; they have been my treasure; and it has, perhaps, been of no disadvantage to me that I have had a few of the latter. They serve to put us upon correcting the faults we have, and avoiding those we are in danger of having. They counteract the mischief flattery might do us, and their malicious attacks make our friends more zealous in serving us and promoting our interest. At present I do not know of more than two such enemies that I enjoy, viz., *** and **
I deserved the enmity of the latter, because I might have avoided it by paying him a compliment, which I neglected. That to the former I owe to the people of France, who happened to respect me too much and him too little ; which I could bear, and he could not. They are unhappy that they cannot make everybody, hate me as much as they do; and I should be so if my friends did not love me much more than those gentlemen can possibly love one another.
Enough of this subject. Let me know if you
* L'Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Letters.
are in possession of my gimcrack instruments, and if you have made any new experiments. I lent, many years ago, a large glass globe, mounted, to Mr. Coombe, and an electric battery of bottles, which I remember; perhaps there were some other things. He may have had them so long as to think them his own. Pray ask him for them, and keep them for me, together with the rest.
“You have a new crop of prose writers. I see in your papers many of their fictitious names, but nobody tells me the real. You will oblige me by a little of your literary history. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever, yours affectionately,
“ B. FRANKLIN.
“ To Francis Hopkinson.
Paris, Dec 24, 1782, “ I thank you for your ingenious paper in favour of the trees. I own I now wish we had two rows of them in every one of our streets. The comfortable shelter they would afford us when walking from our burning summer suns, and the greater coolness of our walls and pavements, would, I conceive, in the improved health of the inhabitants, amply compensate the loss of a house now and then by fire, if such should be the consequence; but a tree is soon felled, and, as axes are near at hand in every neighbourhood, may be down before the engines arrive.
“You do well to avoid being concerned in the pieces of personal abuse, so scandalously common in our newspapers, that I am afraid to lend any of them here till I have examined and laid aside such as would disgrace us, and subject us among strangers to a reflection like that used by a gentleman in a coffee-house to two quarrellers, who, after a mutually free use of the words rogue, villain, rascal, scoundrel, &c., seemed as if they would refer their dispute to him: 'I know nothing of you or your aftairs,' said he; 'I only perceive that you know one another.'
“The conductor of a newspaper should, methinks, consider himself as in some degree the guardian of his country's reputation, and refuse to insert such writings as may hurt it. If people will print their abuses of one another, let them do it in little pamphlets, and distribute them where they think proper, It is absurd to trouble all the world with them, and unjust to subscribers in distant places, to stuff their paper with matter so unprofitable and so disagreeable. With sincere esteem and affection, I am, my dear friend, ever yours,
* Samuel Huntingdon, President of Congress.
Passy, March 12, 1781. SIR, I had the honour of receiving, on the 13th of last month, your excellency's letter of the 1st of January, together with the instructions of November 28th and December 27th, a copy of those to Colonel Laurens, and the letter to the king. I immediately drew up a memorial, enforcing as strongly as I could the request contained in that letter, and directed by the instructions, and delivered the same with the letter, which were both well received.
“I must now beg leave to say something relating to myself, a subject with which I have not often troubled the Congress. I have passed my seventy: fifth year, and I find that the long and severe fit of the gout which I had the last winter has shaken me exceedingly, and I am yet far from having recovered the bodily strength I before enjoyed. I do not know that my mental faculties are impaired,
Perhaps I shall be the last to discover that; but I am sensible of great diminution in my activity, a quality I think particularly necessary in your minister at this court. I am afraid, therefore, that your affairs may some time or other suffer by my deficiency. I find also that the business is too heavy for me, and too confining. The constant attendance at home, which is necessary for receiving and accepting your bills of exchange (a matter foreign to my ministerial functions), to answer letters, and perform other parts of my employment, prevents my taking the air and exercise which my annual journeys formerly used to afford me, and which contributed much to the preservation of my health. There are many other little personal attentions which the infirmities of age render necessary to an old man's comfort, even in some degree to the continuance of his existence, and with which business often interferes. I have been engaged in public affairs, and enjoyed public confidence in some shape or other during the long term of fifty years, an honour sufficient to satisfy any reasonable ambition, and I have no other left but that of repose, which I hope the Congress will grant me by sending some person to supply my place.
“At the same time, I beg they may be assured that it is not any the least doubt of their success in the glorious cause, nor any disgust received in their service, that induces me to decline it, but purely and simply the reasons above mentioned; and as I cannot at present undergo the fatigues of a sea voyage (the last having been almost too much for me), and would not again expose myself to the hazard of capture and imprisonment in this time of war, I purpose to remain here at least till the peace; perhaps it may be for the remainder of my life; and if any knowledge or experience I have acquired here may be thought of use to my successor, I shall freely communicate it, and assist him with any influence I may be supposed to have or counsel that may be desired of me."
"To the Bishop of St. Asaph.
Passy, June 10, 1782. “ 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,t 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.
“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 request.
* Jonathan Shipley took his degrees at Christ Church, and in 1743 was made prebendary of Winchester. After travelling in 1745 with the Duke of Cumberland, he was promoted in 1749 to a canonry at Christ Church, became dean of Winchester in 1760, and 1769 bishop of St. A saph. He was author of some elegant verses on the death of Queen Caroline, and published besides some poems and sermons, and died 1788. He was an ardent friend of American independence.
+ The country residence of the bishop.