« AnteriorContinuar »
vents; and though these occasion a mixture of disappointment, yet, considering the risk where we can make no ensurance, we should think ourselves happy if some return with success. My son's son (Temple Franklin), whom you have also seen, having had a fine farm of 600 acres conveyed to him by his father when we were at Southampton, has dropped for the present his views of acting in the political line, and applies himself ardently to the study and practice of agriculture. This is much more agreeable to me, who esteem it the most useful, the most independent, and, therefore, the noblest of employments. His lands are on navigable water, communicating with the Delaware, and but about 16 miles from this city. He has associated to himself a very skilful English farmer, lately arrived here, who is to instruct him in the business, and partakes for a term of the profits ; so that there is a great apparent probability of their success. You will kindly expect a word or two about myself. My health and spirits continue, thanks to God, as when you saw me. The only complaint I then had does not grow worse, and is tolerable. I still have enjoyment in the company of my friends; and, being easy in my circumstances, have many reasons to like living. But the course of nature must soon put a period to my present mode of existence. This I shall submit to with less regret, as having seen, during a long life, a good deal of this world, I feel a. growing curiosity to be acquainted with some other; and can cheerfully, with filial confidence, resign my spirit to the conduct of that great and good Parent of mankind who created it, and who has so graciously protected and prospered me from my birth to the present hour. Wherever I am, I always hope to retain the pleasing remembrance of your friendship; being, with sincere and great esteem, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
“ B. FRANKLIN. “We all join in respects to Mrs. Shipley."
“ Mrs. Hewson, London.
Philadelphia, May 6, 1786. “ MY DEAR FRIEND, “A long winter has passed, and I have not had the pleasure of a line from you, acquainting me with your and your childrens' welfare, since I left England. I suppose you have been in Yorkshire, out of the way and knowledge of opportunities, for I will not think you have forgotten me. To make me some amends, I received a few days past a large packet from Mr. Williams, dated September, 1776, near ten years since, containing three letters from you, one of December 12, 1775. This packet had been received by Mr. Bache after my departure for. France, lay dormant among his papers during all my absence, and has just now broke out upon me like words that had been, as somebody says, congealed in Northern air. Therein I find all the pleasing little family history of your children; how William had began to spell, overcoming by strength of memory all the difficulty occasioned by the common wretched alphabet, while you were convinced of the utility of our new one. How Tom, genius-like, struck out new paths, and, relinquishing the old names of the letters, called U bell and P bottle. How Eliza began to grow jolly, that is, fat and handsome, resembling Aunt Rooke, whom I used to call my lovely. Together with all the then news of Lady Blunt's having produced at length a boy; of Dolly's being well, and of poor good Catharine's decease. Of your affairs with Muir and Atkinson, and of their contract for feeding the fish in the Channel. Of the Vinys, and their jaunt to Cambridge in the long carriages. Of Dolly's journey to Wales with Mr. Scot. Of the Wilkeses, the Pearces, Elphinston, &c., &c. Concluding with a kind promise that, as soon as the ministry and Congress agreed to make peace, I should have you with me in Amer.
ica. That peace has been some time made, but, alas! the promise is not yet fulfilled. And why is it not fulfilled ?
“I have found my family here in health, good circumstances, and well respected by their fellowcitizens. The companions of my youth are indeed almost all departed, but I find an agreeable society among their children and grandchildren. I have public business enough to preserve me from ennui, and private amusement besides, in conversation, books, and my garden. Considering our wellfurnished plentiful market as the best of gardens, I am turning mine, in the midst of which my house stands, into grassplats and gravel-walks, with trees and flowering shrubs.
"Temple has turned his thoughts to agriculture, which he pursues ardently, being in possession of a fine farm that his father lately conveyed to him. Ben is finishing his studies at college, and continues to behave as well as when you knew him, so that I still think he will make you a good son. His younger brothers and sisters are also all promising, appearing to have good tempers and dispositions, as well as good constitutions. As to myself, I think my general health and spirits rather better than when you saw me, and the particular malady I then complained of continues tolerable. With sincere and very great esteem, I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
" B. FRANKLIN.'
" To M. Veillard.
“ Philadelphia, April 15, 1787 “MY DEAR FRIEND, “I am quite of your opinion, that our independence is not quite complete till we have discharged our public debt. This state is not behindhand in its proportion, and those who are in arrear are actually employed in contriving means to discharge their respective balances; but they are not all equally diligent in the business, nor equally successful; the whole will, however, be paid, I am persuaded, in a few years.
“The English have not yet delivered up the posts on our frontier agreeable to treaty; the pretence is, that our merchants here have not paid their debts. I was a little provoked when I first heard this, and I wrote some remarks upon it, which I send you : they have been written near a year, but I have not yet published them, being unwilling to encourage any of our people who may be able to pay in their neglect of that duty. The paper is therefore only for your amusement, and that of our excellent friend the Duke de la Rochefoucauld.
“As to my malady, concerning which you so kindly inquire, I have never had the least doubt of its being the stone, and I am sensible that it has increased; but, on the whole, it does not give me more pain than when at Passy. People who live. long, who will drink of the cup of life to the very bottom, must expect to meet with some of the usual dregs; and when I reflect on the number of terrible maladies human nature is subject to, I think myself favoured in having to my share only the stone and gout.
“You were right in conjecturing that I wrote the remarks on the thoughts concerning executive justice.' I have no copy of these remarks at hand, and forget how the saying was introduced, that it is better a thousand guilty persons should escape than one innocent suffer. Your criticisms thereon appear to be just, and I imagine you may have misapprehended my intention in mentioning it. I always thought with you, that the prejudice in Europe, which supposes a family dishonoured by the punishment of one of its members, was very absurd, it being, on the contrary, my opinion, that a rogue hanged out of a family does it more_honour than ten that live in it.
“ Mr. Jordain.
Philadelphia, May 18, 1787. “ DEAR SIR, “I received your very kind letter of February 27, together with the cask of porter you have been so good as to send me. We have here at present what the French call une assemblée des notables, a convention composed of some of the principal people from the several states of our confederation. They did me the honour of dining with me last Wednesday, when the cask was broached, and its contents met with the most cordial reception and universal approbation. In short, the company agreed unanimously that it was the best porter they had ever tasted. Accept my thanks, a poor return, but all I can make at present.
"Your letter reminds me of many happy days we have passed together, and the dear friends with whom we passed them; some of whom, alas ! have left us, and we must regret their loss, although our Hawkesworth* is become an adventurer in more happy regions; and our Stanleył gone, 'where only his own harmony can be exceeded.' You give me joy in telling me that you are on the pinnacle of content.' Without it no situation can be happy; with it, any. One means of becoming content with one's situation is the comparing it with a worse.
* John Hawkesworth, LL.D., author of the Adventurer, and compiler of the account of the Discoveries made in the South Seas by Captain Cook.
+ John Stanley, an eminent musician and composer, though he became blind at the age of two years.