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I am told that Mr. Searle is arrived at Brest; but I have learned nothing from him as yet, nor do I know his destination. The French and Spanish fleets have made a sweep of sixty upon the English East India and West India fleets. This must have great effects. We are all well. Don't expect peace. The English have not yet forgotten the acquisition of Charleston, for which they are making the most childish exultations. The new parliament will give ministry a run. Mark my words, you will have no peace but what you give yourselves by destroying, root and branch, all the British force in America. The English cannot bear the thought that France should dictate the terms of peace, as they call it. They say they must make a dishonorable peace now, a shameful peace, a degrading peace. This is worse than death to them, and thus they will go on, until they are forced to sue for a peace still more shameful and humiliating.
MY DEAREST PORTIA,
Amsterdam, 18 December, 1780.
I HAVE this morning sent Mr. Thaxter with my two sons to Leyden, there to take up their residence for some time, and there to pursue their studies of Latin
and Greek under the excellent masters, and there to attend lectures of the celebrated professors, in that university. It is much cheaper there than here. The air is infinitely purer, and the company and conversation are better. It is perhaps as learned a university as any in Europe.
I should not wish to have children educated in the common schools in this country, where a littleness of soul is notorious. The masters are mean spirited wretches, pinching, kicking and boxing the children upon every turn. There is besides a general littleness arising from the incessant contemplation of stivers and duits, which pervades the whole people. Frugality and industry are virtues every where, but avarice and stinginess are not frugality. The Dutch say that without a habit of thinking of every duit before you spend it, no man can be a good merchant, or conduct trade with success. This I believe is a just maxim in general, but I would never wish to see a son of mine govern himself by it. It is the sure and certain way for an industrious man to be rich. It is the only possible way for a merchant to become the first merchant or the richest man in the place. But this is an object that I hope none of my children will ever aim at. It is indeed true, every where, that those who attend to small expenses are always rich.
I would have my children attend to duits and farthings as devoutly as the merest Dutchman upon earth, if such attention was necessary to support their independence. A man who discovers a disposi tion and a design to be independent seldom succeeds.
The tyrants are
A jealousy arises against him. alarmed on one side lest he should oppose them. The slaves are alarmed on the other lest he should expose their servility. The cry from all quarters is, "He is the proudest man in the world. He cannot bear to be under obligation." I never in my life observed any one endeavoring to lay me under particular obligations to him, but I suspected he had a design to make me his dependent, and to have claims upon my gratitude. This I should have no objection to, because gratitude is always in one's power. But the danger is, that men will expect and require more of us than honor and innocence and rectitude will permit us to perform.
In our country, however, any man, with common industry and prudence, may be independent. But to put an end to this stuff,
YOUR favors of September 29 and October 21 are before me. I avoided saying any thing about Charles to save you the anxiety, which I fear you will now feel in its greatest severity, a long time. I thought
he would go directly home in a short passage in the best opportunity which would probably ever present. But I am disappointed. Charles is at Bilboa with Major Jackson and Colonel Trumbull, who take the best care of his education, as well as his health and behavior. They are to go hence with Captain Hill in a good vessel of twenty guns. Charles's health was so much affected by this tainted atmosphere, and he had set his heart so much upon going home with Gillon, that it would have broken it to have refused him. I desire I may never again have the weakness to bring a child to Europe. They are infinitely better at home. We have all been sick here, myself, Mr. Thaxter, Stevens and another servant, but are all better. Mr. Thaxter's indisposition has been slight and short, mine and Stevens's long and severe.
I beg you would not flatter yourself with hopes of peace. There will be no such thing for several years. Don't distress yourself neither about any malicious attempts to injure me in the estimation of my countrymen. Let them take their course and go the length of their tether. They will never hurt your husband, whose character is fortified with a shield of innocence and honor ten thousand fold stronger than brass or iron. The contemptible essays made by you know whom will only tend to his own confusion. My letters have shown them their own ignorance, a sight they could not bear. Say as little about it as I do. It has already brought them into the true system, and that system is triumphant. I laugh and will laugh before all posterity at their impotent rage and envy.
They could not help blushing themselves if they were to review their conduct.
Dear Tom, thy letter does thee much honor. Thy brother Charles shall teach thee French and Dutch at home. I wish I could get time to correspond with thee and thy sister more regularly, but I cannot. I must trust Providence and thine excellent mamma for the education of my children. Mr. Dana and our son are well at Petersburg. Hayden has some things for you. I hope he is arrived. I am sorry to learn you have a sum of paper. How could you be so imprudent? You must be frugal, I assure you. Your children will be poorly off. I can but barely live in the manner that is indispensably demanded of me by every body. Living is dear indeed here. My children will not be so well left by their father as he was by his. They will be infected with the examples and habits and tastes for expensive living without the means. He was not. My children shall never have the smallest soil of dishonor or disgrace brought upon them by their father, no, not to please ministers, kings or nations. At the expense of a lit tle of this, my children might perhaps ride at their ease through life, but dearly as I love them, they shall live in the service of their country, in her navy, her army, or even out of either in the extremest degree of poverty, before I will depart in the smallest iota from my sentiments of honor and delicacy; for I, even I, have sentiments of delicacy as exquisite as the proudest minister that ever served a monarch. They may not be exactly like those of some ministers.