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new constitution seems much abated, indeed almost extinct, and we are getting fast into good order. I kept out of those disputes pretty well, having wrote only one piece, which I send you enclosed.
“I regret the immense quantity of misery brought upon mankind by this Turkish war; and I am afraid the King of Sweden may burn his fingers by attacking Russia. When will princes learn arithmetic enough to calculate, if they want pieces of one another's territory, how much cheaper it would be to buy them than to make war for them, even though they were to give a hundred years' purchase; but if glory cannot be valued, and, therefore, the wars for it cannot be subject to arithmetical calculation, so as to show their advantages or disadvantages, at least wars for trade, which have gain for their object, may be proper subjects for such computation; and a trading nation, as well as a single trader, ought to calculate the probabilities of profit and loss before engaging in any considerable adventure. This, however, nations seldom do, and we have had frequent instances of their spending more money in wars for acquiring or securing branches of commerce, than a hundred years' profit, or the full enjoyment of them can compensate.
“ B. FRANKLIN.
To the President of Congress.
· Philadelphia, Nov. 29, 1788. SIR, “When I had the honour of being the minister of the United States at the court of France, Mr. Barclay arriving there, brought me the following resolution of Congress :
“Resolved, That a commissioner be appointed by Congress with full power and authority to liqui.
date and finally to settle the accounts of all the servants of the United States who have been intrusted with the expenditure of public money in Europe, and to commence and prosecute such suits, causes, and actions as may be necessary for that purpose, or for the recovery of any property of the said United States in the hands of any person or persons whatsoever.
6. That the said commissioner be authorized to appoint one or more clerks, with such allowance as he may think reasonable.
"That the said commissioner and clerks respectively take an oath, before some person duly authorized to administer an oath, faithfully to execute the trust reposed in them respectively,
Congress proceeded to the election of a commissioner, and ballots being taken, Mr. T. Barclay was elected.'
“In pursuance of this resolution, and as soon as Mr. Barclay was at leisure from more pressing business, I rendered to him all my accounts, which he examined and stated methodically. By his statements he found a balance due to me on the 4th May, 1785, of 7533 livres, 19 sols, 3 deniers, which I accordingly received of the Congress Bank; the difference between my statement and his being only seven sols, which by mistake I had overcharged, about threepence halfpenny sterling.
“At my request, however, the accounts were left open for the consideration of Congress, and not finally settled, there being some articles on which I desired their judgment, and having some equitable demands, as I thought them, for extra services, which he had not conceived himself empowered to allow, and therefore I did not put them in my account. He transmitted the accounts to Congress, and had advice of their being received. arrival at Philadelphia, one of the first things I did was to despatch my grandson, W. T. Franklin,
to New-York, to obtain a final settlement of those accounts, he having long acted as my secretary, and, being well acquainted with the transactions, was able to give an explanation of the articles that might seem to require explaining, if any such there were. He returned without effecting the settlement, being told that it would not be made till the arrival of some documents expected from France. What those documents were I have not been informed, nor can I readily conceive, as all the vouchers existing there had been examined by Mr. Barclay. And I having been immediately after my arrival engaged in public business of this state, I waited in expectation of hearing from Congress, in case any part of my accounts had been objected to.
“ It is now more than three years that those accounts have been before that honourable body, and to this day no notice of any such objection has been communicated to me. But reports have for some time past been circulated here, and propagated in newspapers, that I am greatly indebted to the United States for large sums that had been put into my hands, and that I avoid a settlement.
This, together with the little time one of my age may expect to live, makes it necessary for me to request earnestly, which I hereby do, that the Congress would be pleased, without farther delay, to examine those accounts, and if they find therein any article or articles which they do not understand or approve, that they would cause me to be acquainted with the same, that I may have an opportunity of offering such explanations or reasons in support of them as may be in my power, and then that the account may be finally closed.
“I hope the Congress will soon be able to attend to this business for the satisfaction of the public, as well as in condescension to my request. In the mean time, if there be no impropriety in it, I would desire that this letter, together with another on the
same subject, the copy of which is hereto annexed, be put upon their minutes.
“ B. FRANKLIN."
“ Mrs. Green.
“Philadelphia, March 2, 1789. “ DEAR FRIEND,
Having now done with public affairs, which have hitherto taken up so much of my time, I shall endeavour to enjoy, during the small remainder of life that is left to me, some of the pleasures of conversing with my old friends by writing, since their distance prevents my hope of seeing them again.
I received one of the bags of sweet corn you was so good as to send me a long time since, but the other never came to hand; even the letter mentioning it, though dated December 10, 1787, has been above a year on its way, for I received it but about two weeks since from Baltimore, in Maryland. The corn I did receive was excellent, and gave me great pleasure. Accept my hearty thanks.
“ I am, as you suppose in the above-mentioned old letter, much pleased to hear that my young friend Ray is start in the farming way,' and makes such substantial fences. I think agriculture the most honourable of all employments, being the most independent. The farmer has no need of popular favour, nor the favour of the great; the success of his crops depending only on the blessing. of God upon his honest industry. I congratulate your good spouse, that he as well as myself is now free from public cares, and that he can bend his whole attention to his farming, which will afford him both profit and pleasure; a business which nobody knows better how to manage with advantage. I am too old to follow printing again myself, but, loving the business, I have brought up
my grandson Benjamin to it, and have built and furnished a printing-house for him, which he now manages under my eye. I have great pleasure in the rest of my grandchildren, who are now in number eight, and all promising, the youngest only six months old, but shows signs of great good-nature. My friends here are numerous, and I enjoy as much of their conversation as I can reasonably wish; and I have as much health and cheerfulness as can well be expected at my age, now eighty-two. Hitherto this long life has been tolerably happy, so that, if I were allowed to live it over again, I should make no objection, only wishing for leave to do, what authors do in a second edition of their works, correct some of my errata. Among the felicities of my life I reckon your friendship, which I shall remember with pleasure as long as life lasts, being ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
“ Dr. Price.
“ Philadelphia, May 31, 1789. “MY VERY DEAR FRIEND, “I lately received your kind letter, enclosing one from Miss Kitty Shipley, informing me of the good bishop's decease, which afflicted me greatly. My friends drop off one after another, when my age and infirmities prevent me making new ones, and if I still retain the necessary activity and ability, I hardly see among the existing generation where I could make them of equal goodness. So that, the longer I live, I must expect to be the more wretched. As we draw nearer the conclusion of life, nature furnishes us with more helps to wean us from it, among which one of the most powerful is the loss of such dear friends.