To Benjamin Rush March 16, 1790
To Anonymous March 16, 1790
I leave this place to-morrow for London. I go expressly for the purpose of erecting an iron bridge, which Messrs. Walkers of Rotherham, Yorkshire, and I have constructed, and is now ready for putting together. It is an arch of one hundred and ten feet span, and five feet high, from the chord line. It is as portable as common bars of iron, and can be put up and taken down at pleasure, and is, in fact, rendering bridges a portable manufacture.
With respect to the French revolution, be assured that every thing is going on right. Little inconveniences, the necessary consequences of pulling down and building up, may arise; but even these are much less than ought to have been expected. Our friend, the Marquis [Lafayette], is like his patron and master, General Washington, acting a great part. I take over with me to London the key to the Bastile, which the Marquis entrusts to my care as his present to General Washington, and which I shall send by the first American vessel to New York. It will be yet some months before the new Constitution will be completed, at which time there is to be a procession, and I am engaged to return to Paris to carry the American flag.
In England the ministerial party oppose every iota of reformation: the high beneficed clergy and bishops cry out that the Church is in danger, and all those who were interested in the remains of the feudal system join in the clamor. I see very clearly that the conduct of the British government, by opposing reformation, will detach great numbers from the political interests of that country; and that France, through the influence of principle and the divine right of men to freedom, will have a stronger party in England than she ever had through the Jacobite bugbear of the divine right of kings in the Stuart line.
I wish most anxiously to see my much loved America. It is the country from whence all reformation must originally spring. I despair of seeing an abolition of the infernal traffic in Negroes. We must push that matter further on your side of the water. I wish that a few well instructed could be sent among their brethren in bondage; for until they are enabled to take their own part, nothing will be done.
I am, with many wishes for your happiness,
Your affectionate friend,