A war, wherein France, Holland, and England should be parties, seems, prima facie, to promise much advantage to us. But, in the first place, no war can be safe for us, which threatens France with an unfavorable issue. And, in the next, it will probably embark us again into the ocean of speculation, engage us to overtrade ourselves, convert us into sea-rovers, under French and Dutch colors, divert us from agriculture, which is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness. The wealth acquired by speculation and plunder, is fugacious in its nature, and fills society with the spirit of gambling. The moderate and sure income of husbandry begets permanent improvement, quiet life, and orderly conduct, both public and private. We have no occasion for more commerce than to take off our superfluous produce, and the people complain that some restrictions prevent this; yet the price of articles with us, in general, shows the contrary. Tobacco, indeed, is low, not because we cannot carry it where we please, but because we make more than the consumption requires. Upon the whole, I think peace advantageous to us, necessary for Europe, and desirable for humanity. A few days will decide, probably, whether all these considerations are to give way to the bad passions of Kings, and those who would be Kings.
I have the honor to be, with very sincere esteem and respect, Dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
P. S. August 15. The parliament is exiled to Troyes this morning. T. J.
TO COLONEL HUMPHREYS.
Paris, August 14, 1787.
I remember when you left us, it was with a promise to supply all the defects of correspondence in our friends, of which we complained, and which you had felt in common with us. Yet I have received but one letter from you, which was dated June the 5th, 1786, and I answered it August the 14th, 1786. Dropping that, however, and beginning a new account, I will observe to you, that wonderful improvements are making here in various lines. In architecture, the wall of circumvallation round Paris, and the palaces by which we are to be let out and in, are nearly completed; four hospitals are to be built instead of the old hotel-dieu; one of the old bridges has all its houses demolished, and a second nearly so; a new bridge is begun at the Place Louis XV.; the Palais Royal is gutted, a considerable part in the centre of the garden being dug out, and a subterranean circus begun, wherein will be equestrian exhibitions, &c. In society, the habit habille is almost banished, and they begin to go even to great suppers in frock: the court and diplomatic corps, however, must always be excepted. They are too high to be reached by any improvement. They are the last refuge from which etiquette, formality, and folly will be driven. Take away these, and they would be on a level with other people.