« AnteriorContinuar »
pearing. You, as a monarchist, chose to work upon crown paper, and found it profitable ; while I worked upon pro patria (often, indeed, called foolscap) with no less advantage. Both our heaps hold out very well, and we seem likely to make a pretty good day's work of it. With regard to public affairs (to continue in the same style), it seems to me that your compositors in your chapel do not cast off their copy well, nor perfectly understand imposing: their forms, too, are continually pestered by the outs and doubles that are not easy to be corrected. And I think they were wrong in laying aside some faces, and particularly certaîn headpieces, that would have been both useful and ornamental. But, courage! The business may still flourish with good management, and the master become as rich as any of the company.
"I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
« Passy, May 23, 1785. DEAR OLD FRIEND, “I sent you a few lines the other day with the 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 75. But I am rising (perhaps more properly falling) 80, and I leave the excuse with you till you arrive at that age; per.,
haps 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 sentment 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 burden,
“May I govern my passons with absolute sway,
Grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.'
And when I am gone may the better sort say,
For he governed his passions,' &c. “ 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 resolved not to marry a parson, nor a Presbyterian, nor an Irishman, and at last 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 labour 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 crea. ting new matter; for that the earth, water, air, and perhaps fire, which, being compounded from 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
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.
“ B. FRANKLIN.”
“ David Hartley.
“ Passy, July 5, 1785. “I cannot quit the coasts of Europe without taking leave of my ever dear friend Mr. Hartley. We were long fellow-labourers in the best of all works, the work of peace. I leave you still in the field, but, having finished my day's task, I am going home to go to bed. Wish me a good night's rest, as I do you a pleasant evening. Adieu! and believe me ever yours most affectionately,
“ To the Bishop of St. Asaph.
Philadelphia, Feb. 24, 1786. “ DEAR FRIEND, “I received lately your kind letter of November 27. My reception here was, as you have heard, very honourable indeed; but I was betrayed by it, and by some remains of ambition, from which I had imagined myself free, to accept of the chair of government for the State of Pennsylvania, when the proper thing for me was repose and a private life. I hope, however, to be able to bear the fatigue for one year, and then 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 bookt you gave me, which I think generally well written and likely to do good: though the reading time of most people
* At Southampton, previous to Dr. Franklin's embarking for the United States.
+ Paley's Moral Philosophy. VOL. II.-16
is of late so taken up with newspapers and little periodical pamphlets, that few nowadays 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 experiments. 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.
“ 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 grandchildren, 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 see, and I cannot foresee. I therefore enjoy 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