To Benjamin Franklin June 22, 1787
From the original letter at the American Philosophical Society.
Paris June 22d. 1787
My Dear Sir
We left N York the 26 April, and arrived at Havre de Grace 26 of May saturday
— On the Monday I set off in company with Mr. Germon a French gentle man passenger from America for Paris. I staid one day at Rouen to take a view of the place from whence the Kings of England date their origin — There is yet some remains of the Palace of the Dukes of Normandy — But the Parliament House has such a resemblance to Westminster Hall (I mean the great hall as you enter) that had I not known I had been in Normandy, I might have supposed myself at London. The Breadth of the room is nearly 70 feet, and the roof is constructed exactly in the manner of that at Westminster — The Country from Havre to Rouen is the richest I ever saw — The crops are abundant and the cultivation in nice and beautiful order — Every thing appeared to be in fulness. The people are very stout — the women exceedingly fair, and the horses of a vast size and very fat — I saw several at Havre that were above 17 hands high — I could not by standing to them look over their backs —
I deposited the model of the Bridge at the Custom house, the Superintendent of which undertook to send it to Paris as soon as an order should be procured for that purpose as he did not think himself authorized to do it without, being an imported article —
I arrived a Paris on the 30th May and the next day began delivering the Letters you were so kind as to honor me with. My reception here in consequence of them has been abundantly cordial and friendly. — I have received visits and invitations from all who were in Town — The Duke de Rochefoucauld & General Chastellux are in the Country — I dined yesterday with an old friend of yours M. Malesherbes who is of the new Council of finances, and who received me with a heartiness of friendship — It must have been a very strong attachment to America that drew you from this Country for your friends are very numerous and very affectionate.
M. Le Rac has been most attentively kind to me — As he speaks English there is scarcely a day passes without an interview — He took me a few days ago to see an old friend of yours M. Buffon — But we were informed by the servant that he was very ill and under the operation of medicine — on which we deferred our intention — In the Evening he sent me an invitation to see an exhibition of fire Works of a new kind, (of inflammable Air,) — It was done as an Experiment. The exhibition was in a Room — The performer had two large bladders of Air, one under each Arm, with pipes from them communicating with the figures to be represented — such as Suns, Moons, Stars, flowers, Architecture, and figures of moving machinery — by compressing the Bladders and mixing the Air he produced the most beautiful and sudden transitions of Light and Colours encreased or diminished the motion, and exhibited to the eye the most pleasing scene of that kind that can be imagined.
The model from Havre is not yet arrived but a letter received from thence yesterday informs me that it is on the Road and will be here in about 8 days. There is a great Curiosity here to see it — as Bridges have lately been a capital Subject — A new bridge is began over the Seine, opposite the Palais de Bourbon and La place de Lewis If — It is about the Breadth of the Schuylkill, and the Abbe Morley tells me, will cost five millions of livres. It is on piers.
Your old friend, M. Terenet, the bridge architect, is yet living. I was introduced to him by M. Le Roy. He has taken a residence in the Elysian Fields for the purpose of being near the works. He has invited me to see his house at Paris, where all his drawings and models are. By the next packet I will write to you respecting the opinion of the Academy on the model. I shall be obliged to Mr. Clymer to send me some Philadelphia and American news. Please to present me with much respect to your family, and to all my good friends around you.
I am, dear sir, your affectionate and obedient servant,