Imágenes de páginas



October 24, 1788.

Having now finished my term in the presidentship, and resolving to engage no more in public affairs, I hope to be a better correspondent for the little time I have to live. I am recovering from a long continued gout, and am diligently employed in writing the history of my life, to the doing of which the persuasions contained in your letter of January 31, 1783,* have not a little contributed. I am now in the year 1756, just before I was sent to England. To shorten the work, as well as for other reasons, I omit all facts and transactions that may not have a tendency to benefit the young reader, by showing him from my example, and 'my success in emerging from poverty, and acquiring some degree of wealth, power, and reputation, the advantages of certain modes of conduct which I observed, and of avoiding the errors which were prejudicial to me. If a writer can judge properly of his own work, I fancy on reading over what is already done, that the book may be found entertaining, interesting, and useful, more so than I expected when I began it. If my present state of health continues, I hope to finish it this winter when done you shall have a manuscript copy of it, that I may obtain from your judgment and friendship such remarks as may contribute to its improvement.

The violence of our party debates about the new constitution seems much abated, indeed almost extinct, and we are getting fast into good order. I

* See MEMOIRS of the LifÉ, Part II. p. 59, 4to ed. Part III. 8vo ed.

kept out of those disputes pretty well, having wrote only one little 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 an 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 advantage or disadvantage, 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 an hundred years' profit or the full enjoyment of them can compensate.

Remember me affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestley. I do not call him honest by way of distinction; for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not, like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not, however, mistake me. It is not to my good friend's

heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic. I am ever, my dear friend, yours sincerely, B. FRANKLIN.



Philadelphia, Nov. 26, 1788. You tell me our poor friend Ben Kent is goneI hope to the regions of the blessed; or at least to some place where souls are prepared for those regions! I found my hope on this, that though not so orthodox as you and I, he was an honest man, and had his virtues. If he had any hypocrisy, it was of that inverted kind, with which a man is not so bad as he seems to be. And with regard to future bliss, I cannot help imagining that multitudes of the zealously orthodox of different sects, who at the last day may flock together, in hopes of seeing each other damned, will be disappointed, and obliged to rest content with their own salvation. Yours, &c. B. FRANKLIN.


[ocr errors]


Philadelphia, Nov. 26, 1788. I never see any Boston newspapers. You mention there being often something in them to do me honor. I am obliged to them. On the other hand, some of our papers here are endeavoring to disgrace me. I have long been accustomed to receive more blame as well as more praise than I have deserved. 'Tis the lot of every public man; and I leave one account to balance the other.

* Dr. Franklin's sister.

The late

As you observe, there was no d―n your souls in the story of the poker when I told it. dresser of it was probably the same, or perhaps of kin to him, who in relating a dispute that happened between Queen Anne and the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning a vacant mitre, which the queen was for bestowing on a person the archbishop thought unworthy, made both the queen and archbishop swear three or four thumping oaths in every sentence of the discussion; and the archbishop at last gained his point. One present at the tale being surprised, said, 'But did the queen and archbishop swear so at one another?' 'O! no, no, said the relator, that is only my way of telling the story.' Yours, &c. B. FRANKLIN.



Philadelphia, Feb. 17, 1789.

I have just received your kind letter of Nov. 29, and am much obliged by your friendly attention in sending me the receipt, which on occasion I may make trial of; but the stone I have being a large one, as I find by the weight it falls with when I turn in bed, I have no hope of its being dissoluble by any medicine; and having been for some time past pretty free from pain, I am afraid of tampering. I congratulate you on the escape you had by voiding the one you mention, that was as big as a kidney bean; had it been retained it might soon have become too large to pass, and proved the cause of much pain at times, as mine has been to me.

Having served my time of three years as president, I have now renounced all public business, and enjoy the otium cum dignitate. My friends indulge me with

their frequent visits, which I have now leisure to receive and enjoy. The Philosophical Society, and the Society for Political Inquiries meet at my house, which I have enlarged by additional building, that affords me a large room for those meetings, another over it for my library, now very considerable, and over all some lodging rooms. I have seven promising grand-children by my daughter, who play with and amuse me, and she is a kind attentive nurse to me when I am at any time indisposed; so that I pass my time as agreeably as at my age (83) a man may well expect, and have little to wish for, except a more easy exit than my malady seems to threaten.

The deafness you complain of gives me concern, as if great, it must diminish considerably your pleasure in conversation. If moderate, you may remedy it easily and readily, by putting your thumb and fingers behind your ear, pressing it outwards, and enlarging it as it were, with the hollow of your hand. By an exact experiment I found that I could hear the tick of a watch at forty-five feet distance by this means, which was barely audible at twenty feet without it. The experiment was made at midnight when the house was still.

I am glad you have sent those directions respecting ventilation to the Edinburgh Society. I hope you have added an account of the experience you had of it in Minorca. If they do not print your paper send it to me, and it shall be in the third volume which we are about to publish of our transactions.

Mrs. Hewson joins with us in best wishes for your health and happiness. Her eldest son has gone through his studies at our college, and takes his degree. The youngest is still there, and will be

« AnteriorContinuar »