Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Title: Philadelphia 1785-1790
Publisher: Eris Etext Project
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PHILADELPHIA 1785-1790 by Benjamin Franklin _A Petition of the Left Hand_ TO THOSE WHO HAVE THE SUPERINTENDENCY OF EDUCATION I address myself to all the friends of youth, and conjure them to direct their compassionate regards to my unhappy fate, in order to remove the prejudices of which I am the victim. There are twin sisters of us; and the two eyes of man do not more resemble, nor are capable of being upon better terms with each other, than my sister and myself, were it not for the partiality of our parents, who make the most injurious distinctions between us. From my infancy, I have been led to consider my sister as a being of a more elevated rank. I was suffered to grow up without the least instruction, while nothing was spared in her education. She had masters to teach her writing, drawing, music, and other accomplishments; but if by chance I touched a pencil, a pen, or a needle, I was bitterly rebuked; and more than once I have been beaten for being awkward, and wanting a graceful manner. It is true, my sister associated me with her upon some occasions; but she always made a point of taking the lead, calling upon me only from necessity, or to figure by her side. But conceive not, Sirs, that my complaints are instigated merely by vanity. No; my uneasiness is occasioned by an object much more serious. It is the practice in our family, that the whole business of providing for its subsistence falls upon my sister and myself. If any indisposition should attack my sister, -- and I mention it in confidence upon this occasion, that she is subject to the gout, the rheumatism, and cramp, without making mention of other accidents, -- what would be the fate of our poor family? Must not the regret of our parents be excessive, at having placed so great a difference between sisters who are so perfectly equal? Alas! we must perish from distress; for it would not be in my power even to scrawl a suppliant petition for relief, having been obliged to employ the hand of another in transcribing the request which I have now the honour to prefer to you. Condescend, Sirs, to make my parents sensible of the injustice of an exclusive tenderness, and of the necessity of distributing their care and affection among all their children equally. I am, with a profound respect, Sirs, your obedient servant, THE LEFT HAND. 1785 _Description of an Instrument for Taking Down Books from High Shelves_ January, 1786. Old men find it inconvenient to mount a ladder or steps for that purpose, their heads being sometimes subject to giddinesses, and their activity, with the steadiness of their joints, being abated by age; besides the trouble of removing the steps every time a book is wanted from a different part of their library. For a remedy, I have lately made the following simple machine, which I call the _Long Arm._ _A B_, the _Arm_, is a stick of pine, an inch square and 8 feet long. _C, D_, the _Thumb_ and _Finger_, are two pieces of ash lath, an inch and half wide, and a quarter of an inch thick. These are fixed by wood screws on opposite sides of the end _A_ of the arm _A B_; the finger _D_ being longer and standing out an inch and half farther than the thumb _C._ The outside of the ends of these laths are pared off sloping and thin, that they may more easily enter between books that stand together on a shelf. Two small holes are bored through them at _i, k._ _E F_, the sinew, is a cord of the size of a small goosequill, with a loop at one end. When applied to the machine it passes through the two laths, and is stopped by a knot in its other end behind the longest at _k._ The hole at _i_ is nearer the end of the arm than that at _k_, about an inch. A number of knots are also on the cord, distant three or four inches from each other. To use this instrument; put one hand into the loop, and draw the sinew straight down the side of the arm; then enter the end of the finger between the book you would take down and that which is next to it. The laths being flexible, you may easily by a slight pressure sideways open them wider if the book is thick, or close them if it is thin by pulling the string, so as to enter the shorter lath or thumb between your book (Illustrations omitted) and that which is next to its other side, then push till the back of your book comes to touch the string. Then draw the string or sinew tight, which will cause the thumb and finger to pinch the book strongly, so that you may draw it out. As it leaves the other books, turn the instrument a _quarter_ round, so that the book may lie flat and rest on its side upon the under lath or finger. The knots on the sinew will help you to keep it tight and close to the side of the arm as you take it down hand over hand, till the book comes to you; which would drop from between the thumb and finger if the sinew was let loose. All new tools require some practice before we can become expert in the use of them. This requires very little. Made in the proportions above given, it serves well for books in duodecimo or octavo. Quartos and folios are too heavy for it; but those are usually placed on the lower shelves within reach of hand. The book taken down, may, when done with, be put up again into its place by the same machine. The Art of Procuring Pleasant Dreams INSCRIBED TO MISS SHIPLEY, BEING WRITTEN AT HER REQUEST As a great part of our life is spent in sleep during which we have sometimes pleasant and sometimes painful dreams, it becomes of some consequence to obtain the one kind and avoid the other; for whether real or imaginary, pain is pain and pleasure is pleasure. If we can sleep without dreaming, it is well that painful dreams are avoided. If while we sleep we can have any pleasing dream, it is, as the French say, _autant de gagne_, so much added to the pleasure of life. To this end it is, in the first place, necessary to be careful in preserving health, by due exercise and great temperance; for, in sickness, the imagination is disturbed, and disagreeable, sometimes terrible, ideas are apt to present themselves. Exercise should precede meals, not immediately follow them; the first promotes, the latter, unless moderate, obstructs digestion. If, after exercise, we feed sparingly, the digestion will be easy and good, the body lightsome, the temper cheerful, and all the animal functions performed agreeably. Sleep, when it follows, will be natural and undisturbed; while indolence, with full feeding, occasions nightmares and horrors inexpressible; we fall from precipices, are assaulted by wild beasts, murderers, and demons, and experience every variety of distress. Observe, however, that the quantities of food and exercise are relative things; those who move much may, and indeed ought to eat more; those who use little exercise should eat little. In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eat about twice as much as nature requires. Suppers are not bad, if we have not dined; but restless nights naturally follow hearty suppers after full dinners. Indeed, as there is a difference in constitutions, some rest well after these meals; it costs them only a frightful dream and an apoplexy, after which they sleep till doomsday. Nothing is more common in the newspapers, than instances of people who, after eating a hearty supper, are found dead abed in the morning. Another means of preserving health, to be attended to, is the having a constant supply of fresh air in your bed-chamber. It has been a great mistake, the sleeping in rooms exactly closed, and in beds surrounded by curtains. No outward air that may come in to you is so unwholesome as the unchanged air, often breathed, of a close chamber. As boiling water does not grow hotter by longer boiling, if the particles that receive greater heat can escape; so living bodies do not putrefy, if the particles, so fast as they become putrid, can be thrown off. Nature expels them by the pores of the skin and the lungs, and in a free, open air they are carried off; but in a close room we receive them again and again, though they become more and more corrupt. A number of persons crowded into a small room thus spoil the air in a few minutes, and even render it mortal, as in the Black Hole at Calcutta. A single person is said to spoil only a gallon of air per minute, and therefore requires a longer time to spoil a chamber-full; but it is done, however, in proportion, and many putrid disorders hence have their origin. It is recorded of Methusalem, who, being the longest liver, may be supposed to have best preserved his health, that he slept always in the open air; for, when he had lived five hundred years, an angel said to him; "Arise, Methusalem, and build thee an house, for thou shalt live yet five hundred years longer." But Methusalem answered, and said, "If I am to live but five hundred years longer, it is not worth while to build me an house; I will sleep in the air, as I have been used to do." Physicians, after having for ages contended that the sick should not be indulged with fresh air, have at length discovered that it may do them good. It is therefore to be hoped, that they may in time discover likewise, that it is not hurtful to those who are in health, and that we may be then cured of the _aerophobia_, that at present distresses weak minds, and makes them choose to be stifled and poisoned, rather than leave open the window of a bed-chamber, or put down the glass of a coach. Confined air, when saturated with perspirable matter, will not receive more; and that matter must remain in our bodies, and occasion diseases; but it gives some previous notice of its being about to be hurtful, by producing certain uneasiness, slight indeed at first, which as with regard to the lungs is a trifling sensation, and to the pores of the skin a kind of restlessness, which is difficult to describe, and few that feel it know the cause of it. But we may recollect, that sometimes on waking in the night, we have, if warmly covered, found it difficult to get asleep again. We turn often without finding repose in any position. This fidgettiness (to use a vulgar expression for want of a better) is occasioned wholly by an uneasiness in the skin, owing to the retention of the perspirable matter -- the bed-clothes having received their quantity, and, being saturated, refusing to take any more. To become sensible of this by an experiment, let a person keep his position in the bed, but throw off the bed-clothes, and suffer fresh air to approach the part uncovered of his body; he will then feel that part suddenly refreshed; for the air will immediately relieve the skin, by receiving, licking up, and carrying off, the load of perspirable matter that incommoded it. For every portion of cool air that approaches the warm skin, in receiving its part of that vapour, receives therewith a degree of heat that rarefies and renders it lighter, when it will be pushed away with its burthen, by cooler and therefore heavier fresh air, which for a moment supplies its place, and then, being likewise changed and warmed, gives way to a succeeding quantity. This is the order of nature, to prevent animals being infected by their own perspiration. He will now be sensible of the difference between the part exposed to the air and that which, remaining sunk in the bed, denies the air access: for this part now manifests its uneasiness more distinctly by the comparison, and the seat of the uneasiness is more plainly perceived than when the whole surface of the body was affected by it. Here, then, is one great and general cause of unpleasing dreams. For when the body is uneasy, the mind will be disturbed by it, and disagreeable ideas of various kinds will in sleep be the natural consequences. The remedies, preventive and curative, follow: 1. By eating moderately (as before advised for health's sake) less perspirable matter is produced in a given time; hence the bed-clothes receive it longer before they are saturated, and we may therefore sleep longer before we are made uneasy by their refusing to receive any more. 2. By using thinner and more porous bed-clothes, which will suffer the perspirable matter more easily to pass through them, we are less incommoded, such being longer tolerable. 3. When you are awakened by this uneasiness, and find you cannot easily sleep again, get out of bed, beat up and turn your pillow, shake the bed-clothes well, with at least twenty shakes, then throw the bed open and leave it to cool; in the meanwhile, continuing undrest, walk about your chamber till your skin has had time to discharge its load, which it will do sooner as the air may be dried and colder. When you begin to feel the cold air unpleasant, then return to your bed, and you will soon fall asleep, and your sleep will be sweet and pleasant. All the scenes presented to your fancy will be too of the pleasing kind. I am often as agreeably entertained with them, as by the scenery of an opera. If you happen to be too indolent to get out of bed, you may, instead of it, lift up your bed-clothes with one arm and leg, so as to draw in a good deal of fresh air, and by letting them fall force it out again. This, repeated twenty times, will so clear them of the perspirable matter they have imbibed, as to permit your sleeping well for some time afterwards. But this latter method is not equal to the former. Those who do not love trouble, and can afford to have two beds, will find great luxury in rising, when they wake in a hot bed, and going into the cool one. Such shifting of beds would also be of great service to persons ill of a fever, as it refreshes and frequently procures sleep. A very large bed, that will admit a removal so distant from the first situation as to be cool and sweet, may in a degree answer the same end. One or two observations more will conclude this little piece. Care must be taken, when you lie down, to dispose your pillow so as to suit your manner of placing your head, and to be perfectly easy; then place your limbs so as not to bear inconveniently hard upon one another, as, for instance, the joints of your ankles; for, though a bad position may at first give but little pain and be hardly noticed, yet a continuance will render it less tolerable, and the uneasiness may come on while you are asleep, and disturb your imagination. These are the rules of the art. But, though they will generally prove effectual in producing the end intended, there is a case in which the most punctual observance of them will be totally fruitless. I need not mention the case to you, my dear friend, but my account of the art would be imperfect without it. The case is, when the person who desires to have pleasant dreams has not taken care to preserve, what is necessary above all things, A GOOD CONSCIENCE. May 2, 1786 _The Retort Courteous_ "John Oxly, Pawnbroker of Bethnal Green, was indicted for assaulting Jonathan Boldsworth on the Highway, putting him in fear, and taking from him one Silver Watch, value 5_l._ 5_s._ The Prisoner pleaded, that, having sold the Watch to the Prosecutor, and being immediately after informed by a Person who knew him, that he was not likely to pay for the same, he had only followed him and taken the Watch back again. But it appearing on the Trial, that, presuming he had not been known when he committed the Robbery, he had afterwards sued the Prosecutor for the Debt, on his Note of Hand, he was found Guilty, DEATH." -- _Old Bailey Sessions Paper_, 1747. I chose the above Extract from the Proceedings at the Old Bailey in the Trial of Criminals, as a Motto or Text, on which to amplify in my ensuing Discourse. But on second Thoughts, having given it forth, I shall, after the Example of some other Preachers, quit it for the present, and leave to my Readers, if I should happen to have any, the Task of discovering what Relation there may possibly be between my Text and my Sermon. During some Years past, the British Newspapers have been filled with Reflections on the Inhabitants of America, for _not paying their old Debts to English Merchants._ And from these Papers the same Reflections have been translated into Foreign Prints, and circulated throughout Europe; whereby the American Character, respecting Honour, Probity, and Justice in commercial Transactions, is made to suffer in the Opinion of Strangers, which may be attended with pernicious Consequences. At length we are told that the British Court has taken up the Complaint, and seriously offer'd it as a reason for refusing to evacuate the Frontier Posts according to Treaty. This gives a kind of Authenticity to the Charge, and makes it now more necessary to examine the matter thoro'ly; to inquire impartially into the Conduct of both Nations; take Blame to ourselves where we have merited it; and, where it may be fairly done, mitigate the Severity of the Censures that are so liberally bestow'd upon us. We may begin by observing, that before the War our mercantile Character was good. In Proof of this (and a stronger Proof can hardly be desired), the Votes of the House of Commons in 1774-5 have recorded a Petition signed by the Body of the Merchants of London trading to North America, in which they expressly set forth, not only that the Trade was profitable to the Kingdom, but that the Remittances and Payments were as punctually and faithfully made, as in any other Branch of Commerce whatever. These Gentlemen were certainly competent Judges, and as to that Point could have no Interest in deceiving the Government. The making of these punctual Remittances was however a Difficulty. Britain, acting on the selfish and perhaps mistaken Principle of receiving nothing from abroad that could be produced at home, would take no Articles of our Produce that interfered with any of her own; and what did not interfere, she loaded with heavy Duties. We had no Mines of Gold or Silver. We were therefore oblig'd to run the World over, in search of something that would be receiv'd in England. We sent our Provisions and Lumber to the West Indies, where Exchange was made for Sugars, Cotton, &c. to remit. We brought Mollasses from thence, distill'd it into Rum, with which we traded in Africa, and remitted the Gold Dust to England. We employ'd ourselves in the Fisheries, and sent the Fish we caught, together with Quantities of Wheat Flour, and Rice, to Spain and Portugal, from whence the Amount was remitted to England in Cash or Bills of Exchange. Great Quantities of our Rice, too, went to Holland, Hamburgh &c., and the Value of that was also sent to Britain. Add to this, that contenting ourselves with Paper, all the hard Money we could possibly pick up among the Foreign West India Islands, was continually sent off to Britain, not a Ship going thither from America without some Chests of those precious Metals. Imagine this great Machine of mutually advantageous Commerce, going roundly on, in full Train; our Ports all busy, receiving and selling British Manufactures, and equipping Ships for the circuitous Trade, that was finally to procure the necessary Remittances; the Seas covered with those Ships, and with several hundred Sail of our Fishermen, all working for Britain; and then let us consider what Effect the Conduct of Britain, in 1774 and 1775 and the following Years, must naturally have on the future Ability of our Merchants to make the Payments in question. We will not here enter into the Motives of that Conduct; they are well enough known, and not to her Honour. The first Step was shutting up the Port of Boston by an Act of Parliament; the next, to prohibit by another the New England Fishery. An Army and a Fleet were sent to enforce these Acts. Here was a Stop put at once to all the mercantile Operations of one of the greatest trading Cities of America; the Fishing Vessels all laid up, and the usual Remittances, by way of Spain, Portugal, and the Straits, render'd impossible. Yet the Cry was now begun against us, _These New England People do not pay their Debts!_ The Ships of the Fleet employ'd themselves in cruising separately all along the Coast. The marine Gentry are seldom so well contented with their Pay, as not to like a little Plunder. They stopp'd and seiz'd, under slight Pretences, the American Vessels they met with, belonging to whatever Colony. This checked the Commerce of them all. Ships loaded with Cargoes destin'd either directly or indirectly to make Remittance in England, were not spared. If the Difference between the two Countries had been then accommodated, these unauthoriz'd Plunderers would have been called to account, and many of their Exploits must have been found Piracy. But what cur'd all this, set their Minds at ease, made short Work, and gave full Scope to their Piratical Disposition, was another Act of Parliament, forbidding any Inquisition into those _past_ Facts, declaring them all Lawful, and all American Property to be forfeited, whether on Sea or Land, and authorizing the King's British Subjects to take, seize, sink, burn, or destroy, whatever they could find of it. The Property suddenly, and by surprise taken from our Merchants by the Operation of this Act, is incomputable. And yet the Cry did not diminish, _These Americans don't pay their Debts!_ Had the several States of America, on the Publication of this Act seiz'd all British Property in their Power, whether consisting of Lands in their Country, Ships in their Harbours, or Debts in the Hands of their Merchants, by way of Retaliation, it is probable a great Part of the World would have deem'd such Conduct justifiable. They, it seems, thought otherwise, and it was done only in one or two States, and that under particular Circumstances of Provocation. And not having thus abolish'd all Demands, the Cry subsists, that _the Americans should pay their Debts!_ General Gage, being with his Army (before the declaration of open War) in peaceable Possession of Boston, shut its Gates, and plac'd Guards all around to prevent its Communication with the Country. The Inhabitants were on the Point of Starving. The general, though they were evidently at his Mercy, fearing that, while they had any Arms in their Hands, frantic Desperation might possibly do him some Mischief, propos'd to them a Capitulation, in which he stipulated, that if they would deliver up their Arms, they might leave the Town with their Families and _Goods._ In faith of this Agreement, they deliver'd their Arms. But when they began to pack up for their Departure, they were inform'd, that by the word _Goods_, the General understood only Houshold Goods, that is, their Beds, Chairs, and Tables, not _Merchant Goods_; those he was inform'd they were indebted for to the Merchants of England, and he must secure them for the Creditors. They were accordingly all seized, to an immense Value, _what had been paid for not excepted._ It is to be supposed, tho' we have never heard of it, that this very honourable General, when he returned home, made a just Dividend of those Goods, or their Value, among the said Creditors. But the Cry nevertheless continued, _These Boston People do not pay their Debts!_ The Army, having thus ruin'd Boston, proceeded to different Parts of the Continent. They got possession of all the capital trading Towns. The Troops gorg'd themselves with Plunder. They stopp'd all the Trade of Philadelphia for near a year, of Rhode Island longer, of New York near eight Years, of Charlestown in South Carolina and Savanah in Georgia, I forget how long. This continu'd Interruption of their Commerce ruin'd many Merchants. The Army also burnt to the Ground the fine Towns of Falmouth and Charlestown near Boston, New London, Fairfield, Norwalk, Esopus, Norfolk, the chief trading City in Virginia, besides innumerable Country Seats and private Farm-Houses. This wanton Destruction of Property operated doubly to the Disabling of our Merchants, who were importers from Britain, in making their Payments, by the immoderate Loss they sustain'd themselves, and also the Loss suffered by their Country Debtors, who had bought of them the British Goods, and who were now render'd unable to pay. The Debts to Britain of course remained undischarg'd, and the Clamour continu'd, _These knavish Americans will not pay us!_ Many of the British Debts, particularly in Virginia and the Carolinas, arose from the Sales made of Negroes in those Provinces by the British Guinea merchants. These, with all before in the country, were employed when the war came on, in raising tobacco and rice for remittance in payment of British debts. An order arrives from England, advised by one of their most celebrated _moralists_, Dr. Johnson, in his _Taxation no Tyranny_, to excite these slaves to rise, cut the throats of their purchasers, and resort to the British army, where they should be rewarded with freedom. This was done, and the planters were thus deprived of near thirty thousand of their working people. Yet the demand for those sold and unpaid still exists; and the cry continues against the Virginians and Carolinians, that _they do not pay their debts!_ Virginia suffered great loss in this kind of property by another ingenious and humane British invention. Having the small-pox in their army while in that country, they inoculated some of the negroes they took as prisoners belonging to a number of plantations, and then let them escape, or sent them, covered with the pock, to mix with and spread the distemper among the others of their colour, as well as among the white country people; which occasioned a great mortality of both, and certainly did not contribute to the enabling debtors in making payment. The war too having put a stop to the exportation of tobacco, there was a great accumulation of several years' produce in all the public inspecting warehouses and private stores of the planters. Arnold, Phillips, and Cornwallis, with British troops, then entered and overran the country, burnt all the inspecting and other stores of tobacco, to the amount of some hundred ship-loads; all which might, on the return of peace, if it had not been thus wantonly destroyed, have been remitted to British creditors. But _these d -- d Virginians, why don't they pay their debts?_ Paper money was in those times our universal currency. But, it being the instrument with which we combated our enemies, they resolved to deprive us of its use by depreciating it; and the most effectual means they could contrive was to counterfeit it. The artists they employed performed so well, that immense quantities of these counterfeits, which issued from the British government in New York, were circulated among the inhabitants of all the States, before the fraud was detected. This operated considerably in depreciating the whole mass, first, by the vast additional quantity, and next by the uncertainty in distinguishing the true from the false; and the depreciation was a loss to all and the ruin of many. It is true our enemies gained a vast deal of our property by the operation; but it did not go into the hands of our particular creditors; so their demands still subsisted, and we were still abused _for not paying our debts!_ By the seventh article of the treaty of peace, it was solemnly stipulated, that the King's troops, in evacuating their posts in the United States, should not carry away with them any negroes. In direct violation of this article, General Carleton, in evacuating New York, carried off all the negroes that were with his army, to the amount of several hundreds. It is not doubted that he must have had secret orders to justify him in this transaction; but the reason given out was, that, as they had quitted their masters and joined the King's troops on the faith of proclamations promising them their liberty, the national honour forbade returning them into slavery. The national honour was, it seemed, pledged to both parts of a contradiction, and its wisdom, since it could not do it with both, chose to keep faith rather with its old black, than its new white friends; a circumstance demonstrating clear as daylight, that, in making a present peace, they meditated a future war, and hoped, that, though the promised manumission of slaves had not been effectual in the _last_, in the _next_ it might be more successful; and that, had the negroes been forsaken, no aid could be hereafter expected from those of the colour in a future invasion. The treaty however with us was thus broken almost as soon as made, and this by the people who charge us with breaking it by not paying perhaps for some of the very negroes carried off in defiance of it. Why should England observe treaties, _when these Americans do not pay their debts?_ Unreasonable, however, as this clamour appears in general, I do not pretend, by exposing it, to justify those debtors who are still able to pay, and refuse it on pretence of injuries suffered by the war. Public injuries can never discharge private obligations. Contracts between merchant and merchant should be sacredly observed, where the ability remains, whatever may be the madness of ministers. It is therefore to be hoped the fourth article of the treaty of peace which stipulates, _that no legal obstruction shall be given to the payment of debts contracted before the war_, will be punctually carried into execution, and that every law in every State which impedes it, may be immediately repealed. Those laws were indeed made with honest intentions, that the half-ruined debtor, not being too suddenly pressed by _some_, might have time to arrange and recover his affairs so as to do justice to _all_ his creditors. But, since the intention in making those acts has been misapprehended, and the acts wilfully misconstrued into a design of defrauding them, and now made a matter of reproach to us, I think it will be right to repeal them all. Individual Americans may be ruined, but the country will save by the operation; since these unthinking, merciless creditors must be contented with all that is to be had, instead of all that may be due to them, and the accounts will be settled by insolvency. When all have paid that can pay, I think the remaining British creditors, who suffered by the inability of their ruined debtors, have some right to call upon their own government (which by its bad projects has ruined those debtors) for a compensation. A sum given by Parliament for this purpose would be more properly disposed, than in rewarding pretended loyalists, who fomented the war. And, the heavier the sum, the more tendency it might have to discourage such destructive projects hereafter. Among the merchants of Britain, trading formerly to America, there are to my knowledge many considerate and generous men, who never joined in this clamour, and who, on the return of peace, though by the treaty entitled to an immediate suit for their debts, were kindly disposed to give their debtors reasonable time for restoring their circumstances, so as to be able to make payment conveniently. These deserve the most grateful acknowledgments. And indeed it was in their favour, and perhaps for their sakes in favour of all other British creditors, that the law of Pennsylvania, though since much exclaimed against, was made, restraining the recovery of old debts during a certain time. For this restraint was general, respecting domestic as well as British debts, it being thought unfair, in cases where there was not sufficient for all, that the inhabitants, taking advantage of their nearer situation, should swallow the whole, excluding foreign creditors from any share. And in cases where the favourable part of the foreign creditors were disposed to give time, with the views abovementioned, if others less humane and considerate were allowed to bring immediate suits and ruin the debtor, those views would be defeated. When this law expired in September, 1784, a new one was made, continuing for some time longer the restraint with respect to domestic debts, but expressly taking it away where the debt was due from citizens of the State to any of the subjects of Great Britain; which shows clearly the disposition of the Assembly, and that the fair intentions above ascribed to them in making the former act, are not merely the imagination of the writer. Indeed, the clamour has been much augmented by numbers joining it, who really had no claim on our country. Every debtor in Britain, engaged in whatever trade, when he had no better excuse to give for delay of payment, accused the want of returns from America. And the indignation, thus excited against us, now appears so general among the English, that one would imagine their nation, which is so exact in expecting punctual payment from all the rest of the world, must be at home the model of justice, the very pattern of punctuality. Yet, if one were disposed to recriminate, it would not be difficult to find sufficient Matter in several Parts of their Conduct. But this I forbear. The two separate Nations are now at Peace, and there can be no use in mutual Provocations to fresh Enmity. If I have shown clearly that the present Inability of many American Merchants to discharge their Debts, contracted before the War, is not so much their Fault, as the Fault of the crediting Nation, who, by making an unjust War on them, obstructing their Commerce, plundering and devastating their Country, were the Cause of that Inability, I have answered the Purpose of writing this Paper. How far the Refusal of the British Court to execute the Treaty in delivering up the Frontier Posts may on account of this Deficiency of Payment, be justifiable, is chearfully submitted to the World's impartial Judgment. 1786 _Exception in Favour of British Creditors._ "Sect. 7. And provided also, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that this Act, nor any thing therein contained, shall not extend, or be construed to extend, to any debt or debts which were due before the fourth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, by any of the citizens of the State, to any of the subjects of Great Britain." THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION _Speech in the Convention on the Subject of Salaries_ SIR, It is with Reluctance that I rise to express a Disapprobation of any one Article of the Plan, for which we are so much obliged to the honourable Gentleman who laid it before us. From its first Reading, I have borne a good Will to it, and, in general, wish'd it Success. In this Particular of Salaries to the Executive Branch, I happen to differ; and, as my Opinion may appear new and chimerical, it is only from a Persuasion that it is right, and from a Sense of Duty, that I hazard it. The Committee will judge of my Reasons when they have heard them, and their judgment may possibly change mine. I think I see Inconveniences in the Appointment of Salaries; I see none in refusing them, but on the contrary great Advantages. Sir, there are two Passions which have a powerful Influence in the Affairs of Men. These are _Ambition_ and _Avarice_; the Love of Power and the Love of Money. Separately, each of these has great Force in prompting Men to Action; but when united in View of the same Object, they have in many Minds the most violent Effects. Place before the Eyes of such Men a Post of _Honour_, that shall at the same time be a Place of _Profit_, and they will move Heaven and Earth to obtain it. The vast Number of such Places it is that renders the British Government so tempestuous. The Struggles for them are the true Source of all those Factions which are perpetually dividing the Nation, distracting its Councils, hurrying it sometimes into fruitless and mischievous Wars, and often compelling a Submission to dishonourable Terms of Peace. And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable Preeminence, thro' all the Bustle of Cabal, the Heat of Contention, the infinite mutual Abuse of Parties, tearing to Pieces the best of Characters? It will not be the wise and moderate, the Lovers of Peace and good Order, the men fittest for the Trust. It will be the Bold and the Violent, the men of strong Passions and indefatigable Activity in their selfish Pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your Government, and be your Rulers. And these, too, will be mistaken in the expected Happiness of their Situation; for their vanquish'd competitors, of the same Spirit, and from the same Motives, will perpetually be endeavouring to distress their Administration, thwart their Measures, and render them odious to the People. Besides these Evils, Sir, tho' we may set out in the Beginning with moderate Salaries, we shall find, that such will not be of long Continuance. Reasons will never be wanting for propos'd Augmentations; and there will always be a Party for giving more to the Rulers, that the Rulers may be able in Return to give more to them. Hence, as all History informs us, there has been in every State and Kingdom a constant kind of Warfare between the Governing and the Governed; the one striving to obtain more for its Support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasion'd great Convulsions, actual civil Wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes or enslaving of the People. Generally, indeed, the Ruling Power carries its Point, and we see the Revenues of Princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the People are discontented with the Oppression of Taxes, the greater Need the Prince has of Money to distribute among his Partisans, and pay the Troops that are to suppress all Resistance, and enable him to plunder at Pleasure. There is scarce a King in a hundred, who would not, if he could, follow the Example of Pharaoh, -- get first all the People's Money, then all their Lands, and then make them and their Children Servants for ever. It will be said, that we do not propose to establish Kings. I know it. But there is a natural Inclination in Mankind to kingly Government. It sometimes relieves them from Aristocratic Domination. They had rather have one Tyrant than 500. It gives more of the Appearance of Equality among Citizens; and that they like. I am apprehensive, therefore, -- perhaps too apprehensive, -- that the Government of these States may in future times end in a Monarchy. But this Catastrophe, I think, may be long delay'd, if in our propos'd System we do not sow the Seeds of Contention, Faction, and Tumult, by making our Posts of Honour Places of Profit. If we do, I fear, that, tho' we employ at first a Number and not a single Person, the Number will in time be set aside; it will only nourish the F;oetus of a King (as the honourable Gentleman from Virg'a very aptly express'd it), and a King will the sooner be set over us. It may be imagined by some, that this is an Utopian Idea, and that we can never find Men to serve us in the Executive Department, without paying them well for their Services. I conceive this to be a Mistake. Some existing Facts present themselves to me, which incline me to a contrary Opinion. The High Sheriff of a County in England is an honourable Office, but it is not a profitable one. It is rather expensive, and therefore not sought for. But yet it is executed, and well executed, and usually by some of the principal Gentlemen of the County. In France, the Office of Counsellor, or Member of their judiciary Parliaments, is more honourable. It is therefore purchas'd at a high Price; there are indeed Fees on the Law Proceedings, which are divided among them, but these Fees do not amount to more than three per cent on the Sum paid for the Place. Therefore, as legal Interest is there at five per cent, they in fact pay two per cent for being allow'd to do the Judiciary Business of the Nation, which is at the same time entirely exempt from the Burthen of paying them any Salaries for their Services. I do not, however, mean to recommend this as an eligible Mode for our judiciary Department. I only bring the Instance to show, that the Pleasure of doing Good and serving their Country, and the Respect such Conduct entitles them to, are sufficient Motives with some Minds, to give up a great Portion of their Time to the Public, without the mean Inducement of pecuniary Satisfaction. Another Instance is that of a respectable Society, who have made the Experiment, and practis'd it with Success, now more than a hundred years. I mean the Quakers. It is an establish'd Rule with them that they are not to go to law, but in their Controversies they must apply to their Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings. Committees of these sit with Patience to hear the Parties, and spend much time in composing their Differences. In doing this, they are supported by a Sense of Duty, and the Respect paid to Usefulness. It is honourable to be so employ'd, but it was never made profitable by Salaries, Fees, or Perquisites. And indeed, in all Cases of public Service, the less the Profit the greater the Honour. To bring the Matter nearer home, have we not seen the greatest and most important of our Offices, that of General of our Armies, executed for Eight Years together, without the smallest Salary, by a patriot whom I will not now offend by any other Praise; and this, thro' Fatigues and Distresses, in common with the other brave Men, his military Friends and Companions, and the constant Anxieties peculiar to his Station? And shall we doubt finding three or four Men in all the United States, with public Spirit enough to bear sitting in peaceful Council, for perhaps an equal Term, merely to preside over our civil Concerns, and see that our Laws are duly executed? Sir, I have a better opinion of our Country. I think we shall never be without a sufficient Number of wise and good Men to undertake, and execute well and faithfully, the Office in question. Sir, the Saving of the Salaries, that may at first be propos'd, is not an object with me. The subsequent Mischiefs of proposing them are what I apprehend. And therefore it is that I move the Amendment. If it is not seconded or accepted, I must be contented with the Satisfaction of having delivered my Opinion frankly, and done my Duty. June 2, 1787 _Speech in a Committee of the Convention on the Proportion of Representation and Votes_ MR. CHAIRMAN, It has given me great Pleasure to observe, that, till this Point, _the Proportion of Representation_, came before us, our Debates were carry'd on with great Coolness and Temper. If any thing of a contrary kind has, on this Occasion, appeared, I hope it will not be repeated; for we are sent hither to _consult_, not to _contend_, with each other; and Declaration of a fix'd Opinion, and of determined Resolutions never to change it, neither enlighten nor convince us. Positiveness and Warmth on one side naturally beget their like on the other; and tend to create and augment Discord and Division in a great Concern, wherein Harmony and Union are extremely necessary, to give Weight to our Counsels, and render them effectual in promoting and securing the common Good. I must own, that I was originally of Opinion it would be better if every Member of Congress, or our national Council, were to consider himself rather as a Representative of the whole, than as an Agent for the Interests of a particular State; in which Case the Proportion of Members for each State would be of less Consequence, and it would not be very material whether they voted by States or individually. But as I find this is not to be expected, I now think the Number of Representatives should bear some Proportion to the Number of the Represented, and that the Decisions should be by the Majority of Members, not by the Majority of States. This is objected to, from an Apprehension that the greater States would then swallow up the Smaller. I do not at present clearly see what Advantage the greater States could propose to themselves by swallowing the smaller, and therefore do not apprehend they would attempt it. I recollect, that in the Beginning of this Century, when the Union was propos'd of the two Kingdoms, England and Scotland, the Scotch patriots were full of Fears, that, unless they had an equal Number of Representatives in Parliament, they should be ruined by the Superiority of the English. They finally agreed, however, that the different Proportions of Importance in the Union of the two Nations should be attended to; whereby they were to have only Forty Members in the House of Commons, and only Sixteen of their Peers were to sit in the House of Lords; a very great Inferiority of Numbers! And yet, to this Day, I do not recollect that any thing has been done in the Parliament of Great Britain to the Prejudice of Scotland; and whoever looks over the Lists of publick Officers, Civil and Military, of that Nation, will find, I believe, that the North Britons enjoy at least their full proportion of Emolument. But, Sir, in the present Mode of Voting by States, it is equally in the Power of the lesser States to swallow up the greater; and this is mathematically demonstrable. Suppose, for example, that 7 smaller States had each 3 members in the House, and the Six larger to have, one with another, 6 Members; and that, upon a Question, two Members of each smaller State should be in the Affirmative, and one in the Negative; they will make Affirmatives, 14 Negatives 7 And that all the large States should be unanimously in the negative; they would make Negatives 36 -- In all 43 It is then apparent, that the 14 carry the question against the 43, and the Minority overpowers the Majority, contrary to the common Practice of Assemblies in all Countries and Ages. The greater States, Sir, are naturally as unwilling to have their Property left in the Disposition of the smaller, as the smaller are to leave theirs in the Disposition of the greater. An honourable Gentleman has, to avoid this difficulty, hinted a Proposition of equalizing the States. It appears to me an equitable one; and I should, for my own Part, not be against such a Measure, if it might be found practicable. Formerly, indeed, when almost every Province had a different Constitution, some with greater, others with fewer Privileges, it was of Importance to the Borderers, when their Boundaries were contested, whether, by running the Division Lines, they were placed on one Side or the other. At present, when such Differences are done away, it is less material. The Interest of a State is made up of the Interests of its individual Members. If they are not injured, the State is not injured. Small States are more easily, well, and happily governed, than large ones. If, therefore, in such an equal Division, it should be found necessary to diminish Pennsylvania, I should not be averse to the giving a part of it to N. Jersey, and another to Delaware: But as there would probably be considerable Difficulties in adjusting such a Division; and, however equally made at first, it would be continually varying by the Augmentation of Inhabitants in some States, and their more fixed proportion in others, and thence frequent Occasion for new Divisions; I beg leave to propose for the Consideration of the Committee another Mode, which appears to me to be as equitable, more easily carry'd into Practice, and more permanent in its Nature. Let the weakest State say what Proportion of Money or Force it is able and willing to furnish for the general Purposes of the Union. Let all the others oblige themselves to furnish each an equal Proportion. The whole of these joint Supplies to be absolutely in the Disposition of Congress. The Congress in this Case to be compos'd of an equal Number of Delegates from each State; And their Decisions to be by the Majority of individual Members voting. If these joint and equal Supplies should, on particular Occasions, not be sufficient, let Congress make Requisitions on the richer and more powerful States for further Aids, to be voluntarily afforded; so leaving each State the Right of considering the Necessity and Utility of the Aid desired, and of giving more or less, as it should be found proper. This Mode is not new; it was formerly practic'd with Success by the British Government, with respect to Ireland and the Colonies. We sometimes gave even more than they expected, or thought just to accept; and in the last War, carried on while we were united, they gave us back in 5 Years a Million Sterling. We should probably have continu'd such voluntary Contributions, whenever the Occasions appear'd to require them for the common Good of the Empire. It was not till they chose to force us, and to deprive us of the Merit and Pleasure of voluntary Contributions, that we refus'd and resisted. Those Contributions, however, were to be dispos'd of at the Pleasure of a Government in which we had no Representative. I am therefore persuaded, that they will not be refus'd to one in which the Representation shall be equal. My learned Colleague has already mentioned that the present method of voting by States, was submitted to originally by Congress, under a Conviction of its Impropriety, Inequality, and Injustice. This appears in the Words of their Resolution. It is of Sept. 6, 1774. The words are, "Resolved, That, in determining Questions in this Congress, each Colony or Province shall have one vote; the Congress not being possessed of, or at present able to procure, Materials for ascertaining the Importance of each Colony." June 11, 1787 _Motion for Prayers in the Convention_ MR. PRESIDENT, The small Progress we have made, after 4 or 5 Weeks' close Attendance and continual Reasonings with each other, our different Sentiments on almost every Question, several of the last producing as many _Noes_ as _Ayes_, is, methinks, a melancholy Proof of the Imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to _feel_ our own want of political Wisdom, since we have been running all about in Search of it. We have gone back to ancient History for Models of Government, and examin'd the different Forms of those Republics, which, having been originally form'd with the Seeds of their own Dissolution, now no longer exist; and we have view'd modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our Circumstances. In this Situation of this Assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find Political Truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our Understandings? In the Beginning of the Contest with Britain, when we were sensible of Danger, we had daily Prayers in this Room for the Divine Protection. Our Prayers, Sir, were heard; -- and they were graciously answered. All of us, who were engag'd in the Struggle, must have observed frequent Instances of a superintending Providence in our Favour. To that kind Providence we owe this happy Opportunity of Consulting in Peace on the Means of establishing our future national Felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need its assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, _that_ GOD _governs in the Affairs of Men._ And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labour in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe, that, without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial, local Interests, our Projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a Reproach and a Bye-word down to future Ages. And, what is worse, Mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate Instance, despair of establishing Government by human Wisdom, and leave it to Chance, War, and Conquest. I therefore beg leave to move, That henceforth Prayers, imploring the Assistance of Heaven and its Blessing on our Deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to Business; and that one or more of the Clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that Service. (*) (*) The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary! June 28, 1787 _Speech in the Convention at the Conclusion of its Deliberations_ MR. PRESIDENT, I confess, that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present; but, Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it; for, having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change my opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that, the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them, it is so far error. Steele, a Protestant, in a dedication, tells the Pope, that the only difference between our two churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrine, is, the Romish Church is _infallible_, and the Church of England is _never in the wrong._ But, though many private Persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their Sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French Lady, who, in a little dispute with her sister, said, "But I meet with nobody but myself that is _always_ in the right." _"Je ne trouve que moi qui aie toujours raison."_ In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, -- if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no _form_ of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt, too, whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better constitution; for, when you assemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a _perfect_ production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear, that our councils are confounded like those of the builders of Babel, and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its _errors_ I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our Constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain Partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favour among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends on _opinion_, on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors. I hope, therefore, for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, that we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution, wherever our Influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it _well administered._ On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make _manifest_ our _unanimity_, put his name to this Instrument. September 17, 1787 _On Sending Felons to America_ FOR THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE SIR, We may all remember the Time when our Mother Country, as a Mark of her parental Tenderness, emptied her Jails into our Habitations, _"for the_ BETTER _Peopling,"_ as she express'd it, _"of the Colonies."_ It is certain that no due Returns have yet been made for these valuable Consignments. We are therefore much in her Debt on that Account; and, as she is of late clamorous for the Payment of all we owe her, and some of our Debts are of a kind not so easily discharg'd, I am for doing however what is in our Power. It will show our good-will as to the rest. The Felons she planted among us have produc'd such an amazing Increase, that we are now enabled to make ample Remittance in the same Commodity. And since the Wheelbarrow Law is not found effectually to reform them, and many of our Vessels are idle through her Restraints on our Trade, why should we not employ those Vessels in transporting the Felons to Britain? I was led into this Thought by perusing the Copy of a Petition to Parliament, which fell lately by Accident into my Hands. It has no Date, but I conjecture from some Circumstances, that it must have been about the year 1767 or 68. (It seems, if presented, it had no Effect, since the Act passed.) I imagine it may not be unacceptable to your Readers, and therefore transcribe it for your paper; viz. To the Honourable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, The PETITION of B. F., Agent for the Province of Pensilvania; Most humbly sheweth; That the Transporting of Felons from England to the Plantations in America, is, and hath long been, a great Grievance to the said Plantations in general. That the said Felons, being landed in America, not only continue their evil Practices to the Annoyance of his Majesty's good Subjects there, but contribute greatly to corrupt the Morals of the Servants and poorer People among whom they are mixed. That many of the said Felons escape from the Servitude to which they were destined, into other Colonies, where their Condition is not known; and, wandering at large from one populous Town to another, commit many Burglaries, Robberies, and Murders, to the great Terror of the People; and occasioning heavy Charges for apprehending and securing such Felons, and bringing them to Justice. That your Petitioner humbly conceives the Easing one Part of the British Dominions of their Felons, by burthening another Part with the same Felons, cannot increase the common Happiness of his Majesty's Subjects, and that therefore the Trouble and Expence of transporting them is upon the whole altogether useless. That your petitioner, nevertheless, observes with extream Concern in the Votes of Friday last, that leave is given to bring in a Bill for extending to Scotland, the Act made in the 4th Year of the Reign of King George the First, whereby the aforesaid Grievances are, as he understands, to be greatly increased by allowing Scotland also to transport its Felons to America. Your petitioner therefore humbly prays, in behalf of Pensilvania, and the other Plantations in America, that the House would take the Premises into Consideration, and in their great Wisdom and Goodness repeal all Acts, and Clauses of Acts, for transporting of Felons; or, if this may not at present be done, that they would at least reject the propos'd Bill for extending the said Acts to Scotland; or, if it be thought fit to allow of such Extension, that then the said Extension may be carried further, and the Plantations be also, by an equitable Clause in the same bill, permitted to transport their Felons to Scotland. And your Petitioner, as in Duty bound, shall pray, &c. This Petition, as I am informed, was not receiv'd by the House, and the Act passed. On second Thoughts, I am of Opinion, that besides employing our own Vessels, as above propos'd, every English Ship arriving in our Ports with Goods for sale, should be obliged to give Bond, before she is permitted to Trade, engaging that she will carry back to Britain at least one Felon for every Fifty Tons of her Burthen. Thus we shall not only discharge sooner our Debts, but furnish our old Friends with the means of _"better Peopling,"_ and with more Expedition, their promising new Colony of Botany Bay. I am yours, &c. A. Z. 1787 TO THE EDITOR OF THE FEDERAL GAZETTE: _A Comparison of the Conduct of the Ancient Jews and of the Anti-Federalists in the United States of America_ A zealous Advocate for the propos'd Federal Constitution, in a certain public Assembly, said, that "the Repugnance of a great part of Mankind to good Government was such, that he believed, that, if an angel from Heaven was to bring down a Constitution form'd there for our Use, it would nevertheless meet with violent Opposition." He was reprov'd for the suppos'd Extravagance of the Sentiment; and he did not justify it. Probably it might not have immediately occur'd to him, that the Experiment had been try'd, and that the Event was recorded in the most faithful of all Histories, the Holy Bible; otherwise he might, as it seems to me, have supported his Opinion by that unexceptionable Authority. The Supreme Being had been pleased to nourish up a single Family, by continued Acts of his attentive Providence, till it became a great People; and, having rescued them from Bondage by many Miracles, performed by his Servant Moses, he personally deliver'd to that chosen Servant, in the presence of the whole Nation, a Constitution and Code of Laws for their Observance; accompanied and sanction'd with Promises of great Rewards, and Threats of severe Punishments, as the Consequence of their Obedience or Disobedience. This Constitution, tho' the Deity himself was to be at its Head (and it is therefore call'd by Political Writers a _Theocracy_), could not be carried into Execution but by the Means of his Ministers; Aaron and his Sons were therefore commission'd to be, with Moses, the first establish'd Ministry of the new Government. One would have thought, that this Appointment of Men, who had distinguish'd themselves in procuring the Liberty of their Nation, and had hazarded their Lives in openly opposing the Will of a powerful Monarch, who would have retain'd that Nation in Slavery, might have been an Appointment acceptable to a grateful People; and that a Constitution fram'd for them by the Deity himself might, on that Account, have been secure of a universal welcome Reception. Yet there were in every one of the _thirteen Tribes_ some discontented, restless Spirits, who were continually exciting them to reject the propos'd new Government, and this from various Motives. Many still retained an Affection for Egypt, the Land of their Nativity; and these, whenever they felt any Inconvenience or Hardship, tho' the natural and unavoidable Effect of their Change of Situation, exclaim'd against their Leaders as the Authors of their Trouble; and were not only for returning into Egypt, but for stoning their deliverers. (* 1) Those inclin'd to idolatry were displeas'd that their _Golden Calf_ was destroy'd. Many of the Chiefs thought the new Constitution might be injurious to their particular Interests, that the _profitable Places_ would be _engrossed by the Families and Friends of Moses and Aaron_, and others equally well-born excluded. (* 2) In Josephus and the Talmud, we learn some Particulars, not so fully narrated in the Scripture. We are there told, "That Corah was ambitious of the Priesthood, and offended that it was conferred on Aaron; and this, as he said, by the Authority of Moses only, _without the Consent of the People._ He accus'd Moses of having, by various Artifices, fraudulently obtain'd the Government, and depriv'd the People of their Liberties; and of _conspiring_ with Aaron to perpetuate the Tyranny in their Family. Thus, tho' Corah's real Motive was the Supplanting of Aaron, he persuaded the People that he meant only the _Public Good_; and they, moved by his Insinuations, began to cry out, `Let us maintain the Common Liberty of our _respective Tribes_; we have freed ourselves from the Slavery impos'd on us by the Egyptians, and shall we now suffer ourselves to be made Slaves by Moses? If we must have a Master, it were better to return to Pharaoh, who at least fed us with Bread and Onions, than to serve this new Tyrant, who by his Operations has brought us into Danger of Famine.' Then they called in question the _Reality of his Conference_ with God; and objected the _Privacy of the Meetings_, and the _preventing any of the People from being present_ at the Colloquies, or even approaching the Place, as Grounds of great Suspicion. They accused Moses also of _Peculation_; as embezzling part of the Golden Spoons and the Silver Chargers, that the Princes had offer'd at the Dedication of the Altar, (* 3) and the Offerings of Gold by the common People, (* 4) as well as most of the Poll-Tax; (* 5) and Aaron they accus'd of pocketing much of the Gold of which he pretended to have made a molten Calf. Besides _Peculation_, they charg'd Moses with _Ambition_; to gratify which Passion he had, they said, deceiv'd the People, by promising to bring them _to_ a land flowing with Milk and Honey; instead of doing which, he had brought them _from_ such a Land; and that he thought light of all this mischief, provided he could make himself an _absolute Prince._ (* 6) That, to support the new Dignity with Splendor in his Family, the partial Poll-Tax already levied and given to Aaron (* 7) was to be follow'd by a general one, (* 8) which would probably be augmented from time to time, if he were suffered to go on promulgating new Laws, on pretence of new occasional Revelations of the divine Will, till their whole Fortunes were devour'd by that Aristocracy." (* 1) Numbers, ch. xiv. (* 2) Numbers, ch. xiv, verse 3. "And they gathered themselves together against Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, `Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, _every one of them_; wherefore, then, lift ye up yourselves above the congregation?'" (* 3) Numbers, ch. vii. (* 4) Exodus, ch. xxxv, verse 22. (* 5) Numbers, ch. iii, and Exodus, ch. xxx. (* 6) Numbers, ch. xvi, verse 13. "Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?" (* 7) Numbers, ch. iii (* 8) Exodus, ch. xxx. Moses deny'd the Charge of Peculation; and his Accusers were destitute of Proofs to support it; tho' _Facts_, if real, are in their Nature capable of Proof. "I have not," said he (with holy Confidence in the Presence of his God), "I have not taken from this People the value of an Ass, nor done them any other Injury." But his Enemies had made the Charge, and with some Success among the Populace; for no kind of Accusation is so readily made, or easily believ'd, by Knaves as the Accusation of Knavery. In fine, no less than two hundred and fifty of the principal Men, "famous in the Congregation, Men of Renown," (* 9) heading and exciting the Mob, worked them up to such a pitch of Frenzy, that they called out, "Stone 'em, stone 'em, and thereby _secure our Liberties_; and let us chuse other Captains, that may lead us back into Egypt, in case we do not succeed in reducing the Canaanites!" (* 9) Numbers, ch. xvi. On the whole, it appears, that the Israelites were a People jealous of their newly-acquired Liberty, which Jealousy was in itself no Fault; but, when they suffer'd it to be work'd upon by artful Men, pretending Public Good, with nothing really in view but private Interest, they were led to oppose the Establishment of the _New Constitution_, whereby they brought upon themselves much Inconvenience and Misfortune. It appears further, from the same inestimable History, that, when after many Ages that Constitution was become old and much abus'd, and an Amendment of it was propos'd, the populace, as they had accus'd Moses of the Ambition of making himself a _Prince_, and cried out, "Stone him, stone him;" so, excited by their High Priests and SCRIBES, they exclaim'd against the Messiah, that he aim'd at becoming King of the Jews, and cry'd out, _"Crucify him, Crucify him."_ From all which we may gather, that popular Opposition to a public Measure is no Proof of its Impropriety, even tho' the Opposition be excited and headed by Men of Distinction. To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our General Convention was divinely inspired, when it form'd the new federal Constitution, merely because that Constitution has been unreasonably and vehemently opposed; yet I must own I have so much Faith in the general Government of the world by _Providence_, that I can hardly conceive a Transaction of such momentous Importance to the Welfare of Millions now existing, and to exist in the Posterity of a great Nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenc'd, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior Spirits live, and move, and have their Being. _The Federal Gazette_, April 8, 1788 TO THE EDITORS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE: _On the Abuse of the Press_ MESSRS. HALL AND SELLERS, I lately heard a remark, that on examination of _The Pennsylvania Gazette_ for fifty years, from its commencement, it appeared, that, during that long period, scarce one libellous piece had ever appeared in it. This generally chaste conduct of your paper is much to its reputation; for it has long been the opinion of sober, judicious people, that nothing is morelikely to endanger the liberty of the press, than the abuse of that liberty, by employing it in personal accusation, detraction, and calumny. The excesses some of our papers have been guilty of in this particular, have set this State in a bad light abroad, as appears by the following letter, which I wish you to publish, not merely to show your own disapprobation of the practice, but as a caution to others of the profession throughout the United States. For I have seen a European newspaper, in which the editor, who had been charged with frequently calumniating the Americans, justifies himself by saying, "that he had published nothing disgraceful to us, which he had not taken from our own printed papers." I am, &c. A. B. DEAR FRIEND, New York, March 30, 1788. "My Gout has at length left me, after five Months' painful Confinement. It afforded me, however, the Leisure to read, or hear read, all the Packets of your various Newspapers, which you so kindly sent for my Amusement. "Mrs. W. has partaken of it; she likes to read the Advertisements; but she remarks some kind of Inconsistency in the announcing so many Diversions for almost every Evening of the Week, and such Quantities to be sold of expensive Superfluities, Fineries, and Luxuries _just imported_, in a Country, that at the same time fills its Papers with Complaints of _Hard Times_, and Want of Money. I tell her, that such Complaints are common to all Times and all Countries, and were made even in Solomon's Time; when, as we are told, Silver was as plenty in Jerusalem as the Stones in the Street; and yet, even then, there were People who grumbled, so as to incur this Censure from that knowing Prince. _`Say not thou that the former Times were better than these; for thou dost not enquire rightly concerning that matter.'_ "But the Inconsistence that strikes me the most is, that between the Name of your City, Philadelphia, (_Brotherly Love,_) and the Spirit of Rancour, Malice, and _Hatred_ that breathes in its NewsPapers. For I learn from those Papers, that your State is divided into Parties, that each Party ascribes all the public Operations of the other to vicious Motives; that they do not even suspect one another of the smallest Degree of Honesty; that the antifederalists are such, merely from the Fear of losing Power, Places, or Emoluments, which they have in Possession or in Expectation; that the Federalists are a set of _Conspirators_, who aim at establishing a Tyranny over the Persons and Property of their Countrymen, and to live in Splendor on the Plunder of the People. I learn, too, that your Justices of the Peace, tho' chosen by their Neighbours, make a villainous Trade of their Office, and promote Discord to augment Fees, and fleece their Electors; and that this would not be mended by placing the Choice in the Executive Council, who, with interested or party Views, are continually making as improper Appointments; witness a _`petty Fidler, Sycophant, and Scoundrel,'_ appointed Judge of the Admiralty; _`an old Woman and Fomenter of Sedition'_ to be another of the Judges, and _`a Jeffries'_ Chief Justice, &c. &c.; with _`two Harpies'_ the Comptroller and Naval Officers, to prey upon the Merchants and deprive them of their Property by Force of Arms, &c. "I am inform'd also by these Papers, that your General Assembly, tho' the annual choice of the People, shows no Regard to their Rights, but from sinister Views or Ignorance makes Laws in direct Violation of the Constitution, to divest the Inhabitants of their Property and give it to Strangers and Intruders; and that the Council, either fearing the Resentment of their Constituents, or plotting to enslave them, had projected to disarm them, and given Orders for that purpose; and finally, that your President, the unanimous joint choice of the Council and Assembly, is _`an old Rogue,'_ who gave his Assent to the federal Constitution merely to avoid refunding Money he had purloin'd from the United States. "There is, indeed, a good deal of manifest _Inconsistency_ in all this, and yet a Stranger, seeing it in your own Prints, tho' he does not believe it all, may probably believe enough of it to conclude, that Pennsylvania is peopled by a Set of the most unprincipled, wicked, rascally, and quarrelsome Scoundrels upon the Face of the Globe. I have sometimes, indeed, suspected, that those Papers are the Manufacture of foreign Enemies among you, who write with a view of disgracing your Country, and making you appear contemptible and detestable all the World over; but then I wonder at the Indiscretion of your Printers in publishing such Writings! There is, however, one of your _Inconsistencies_ that consoles me a little, which is, that tho' _living_, you give one another the characters of Devils; _dead_, you are all Angels! It is delightful, when any of you die, to read what good Husbands, good Fathers, good Friends, good Citizens, and good Christians you were, concluding with a Scrap of Poetry that places you, with certainty, every one in Heaven. So that I think Pennsylvania a good country _to dye in_, though a very bad one to _live in._" after March 30, 1788 FOR THE FEDERAL GAZETTE. _An Account of the Supremest Court of Judicature in Pennsylvania, viz. The Court of the Press_ POWER OF THIS COURT. It may receive and promulgate accusations of all kinds against all persons and characters among the citizens of the state, and even against all inferior courts, and may judge, sentence and condemn to infamy, not only private individuals, but public bodies, &c. with or without enquiry or hearing, _at the court's discretion._ _In whose favor or for whose emolument this court is established._ In favor of about one citizen in 500, who by education, or practice in scribbling, has acquired a tolerable stile as to grammar and construction so as to bear printing; or who is possessed of a press and a few types. This 500th part of the citizens have the privilege of accusing and abusing the other 499 parts, at their pleasure; or they may hire out their pens and press to others for that purpose. _Practice of the Court._ It is not governed by any of the rules of common courts of law. The accused is allowed no grand jury to judge of the truth of the accusation before it is publicly made; nor is the name of the accuser made known to him; nor has he an opportunity of confronting the witnesses against him; for they are kept in the dark, as in the Spanish Court of Inquisition. -- Nor is there any petty jury of his peers sworn to try the truth of the charges. The proceedings are also sometimes so rapid, that an honest good citizen may find himself suddenly and unexpectedly accused, and in the same morning judged and condemned, and sentence pronounced against him, That he is a _rogue_ and a _villain._ Yet if an officer of this court receives the slightest check for misconduct in this his office, he claims immediately the rights of a free citizen by the constitution, and demands to know his accuser, to confront the witnesses, and to have a fair trial by a jury of his peers. _The foundation of its authority._ It is said to be founded on an article in the state-constitution, which establishes _the liberty of the press._ A liberty which every Pennsylvanian would fight and die for: Though few of us, I believe, have distinct ideas of its nature and extent. It seems indeed somewhat like the _liberty_ of the _press_ that felons have by the common law of England before conviction, that is, to be either _pressed_ to death or hanged. If by the _liberty of_ _the press_ were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it, whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law and shall chearfully consent to exchange my _liberty_ of abusing others for the _privilege_ of not being abused myself. _By whom this court is commissioned or constituted._ It is not by any commission from the Supreme Executive Council, who might previously judge of the abilities, integrity, knowledge, &c. of the persons to be appointed to this great trust, of deciding upon the characters and good fame of the citizens; for this court is above that council, and may _accuse_, _judge_, and _condemn_ it, at pleasure. Nor is it hereditary, as is the court of _dernier resort_ in the peerage of England. But any man who can procure pen, ink, and paper, with a press, a few types, and a huge pair of BLACKING balls, may commissionate himself: And his court is immediately established in the plenary possession and exercise of its rights. For if you make the least complaint of the _judge's_ conduct, he daubs his blacking balls in your face wherever he meets you; and besides tearing your private character to slitters, marks you out for the odium of the public, as an _enemy to the liberty of the press._ _Of the natural support of these courts._ Their support is founded in the depravity of such minds as have not been mended by religion, nor improved by good education; _"There is a lust in man no charm can tame, Of loudly publishing his neighbour's shame."_ Hence, _"On eagle_'s _wings immortal scandals fly, While virtuous actions are but born and die."_ DRYDEN. Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of his neighbour, will feel a pleasure in the reverse. And of those, who, despairing to rise into distinction by their virtues, and are happy if others can be depressed on a level with themselves, there are a number sufficient in every great town to maintain one of these courts by their subscriptions. -- A shrewd observer once said that in walking the streets in a slippery morning, one might see where the good natured people lived by the ashes thrown on the ice before their doors: probably he would have formed a different conjecture of the temper of those whom he might find engaged in such subscriptions. _Of the checks proper to be established against the abuse of power in those courts._ Hitherto there are none. But since so much has been written and published on the federal constitution, and the necessity of checks in all other parts of good government has been so clearly and learnedly explained, I find myself so far enlightened as to suspect some check may be proper in this part also; but I have been at a loss to imagine any that may not be construed an infringement of the sacred _liberty of the Press._ At length however I think I have found one, that instead of diminishing general liberty, shall augment it; which is, by restoring to the people a species of liberty of which they have been deprived by our laws, I mean the _liberty of the Cudgel._ -- In the rude state of society, prior to the existence of laws, if one man gave another ill language, the affronted person might return it by a box on the ear; and if repeated, by a good drubbing; and this without offending against any law; but now the right of making such returns is denied, and they are punished as breaches of the peace; while the right of abusing seems to remain in full force: the laws made against it being rendered ineffectual by the _liberty of the Press._ My proposal then is, to leave the liberty of the Press untouched, to be exercised in its full extent, force and vigour, but to permit the _liberty of the Cudgel_ to go with it _pari passu._ Thus my fellow-citizens, if an impudent writer attacks your reputation, dearer to you perhaps than your life, and puts his name to the charge, you may go to him as openly and break his head. If he conceals himself behind the printer, and you can nevertheless discover who he is, you may in a like manner way-lay him in the night, attack him behind, and give him a good drubbing. If your adversary hire better writers than himself to abuse you the more effectually, you may hire brawny porters, stronger than yourself, to assist you in giving him a more effectual drubbing. -- Thus far goes my project, as to _private_ resentment and retribution. But if the public should ever happen to be affronted, _as it ought to be_ with the conduct of such writers, I would not advise proceeding immediately to these extremities; but that we should in moderation content ourselves with tarring and feathering, and tossing them in a blanket. If, however, it should be thought that this proposal of mine may disturb the public peace, I would then humbly recommend to our legislators to take up the consideration of both liberties, that of the Press, and that of the Cudgel, and by an explicit law mark their extent and limits; and at the same time that they secure the person of a citizen from assaults, they would likewise provide for the security of his reputation. _The Federal Gazette_, September 12, 1789 _An Address to the Public_ FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY, AND THE RELIEF OF FREE NEGROES UNLAWFULLY HELD IN BONDAGE It is with peculiar satisfaction we assure the friends of humanity, that, in prosecuting the design of our association, our endeavours have proved successful, far beyond our most sanguine expectations. Encouraged by this success, and by the daily progress of that luminous and benign spirit of liberty, which is diffusing itself throughout the world, and humbly hoping for the continuance of the divine blessing on our labours, we have ventured to make an important addition to our original plan, and do therefore earnestly solicit the support and assistance of all who can feel the tender emotions of sympathy and compassion, or relish the exalted pleasure of beneficence. Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils. The unhappy man, who has long been treated as a brute animal, too frequently sinks beneath the common standard of the human species. The galling chains, that bind his body, do also fetter his intellectual faculties, and impair the social affections of his heart. Accustomed to move like a mere machine, by the will of a master, reflection is suspended; he has not the power of choice; and reason and conscience have but little influence over his conduct, because he is chiefly governed by the passion of fear. He is poor and friendless; perhaps worn out by extreme labour, age, and disease. Under such circumstances, freedom may often prove a misfortune to himself, and prejudicial to society. Attention to emancipated black people, it is therefore to be hoped, will become a branch of our national policy; but, as far as we contribute to promote this emancipation, so far that attention is evidently a serious duty incumbent on us, and which we mean to discharge to the best of our judgment and abilities. To instruct, to advise, to qualify those, who have been restored to freedom, for the exercise and enjoyment of civil liberty, to promote in them habits of industry, to furnish them with employments suited to their age, sex, talents, and other circumstances, and to procure their children an education calculated for their future situation in life; these are the great outlines of the annexed plan, which we have adopted, and which we conceive will essentially promote the public good, and the happiness of these our hitherto too much neglected fellow-creatures. A plan so extensive cannot be carried into execution without considerable pecuniary resources, beyond the present ordinary funds of the Society. We hope much from the generosity of enlightened and benevolent freemen, and will gratefully receive any donations or subscriptions for this purpose, which may be made to our treasurer, James Starr, or to James Pemberton, chairman of our committee of correspondence. Signed, by order of the Society, B. FRANKLIN, _President._ Philadelphia, 9th of November, 1789. _Plan for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks_ The business relative to free blacks shall be transacted by a committee of twenty-four persons, annually elected by ballot, at the meeting of this Society, in the month called April; and, in order to perform the different services with expedition, regularity, and energy, this committee shall resolve itself into the following sub-committees, viz. I. A Committee of Inspection, who shall superintend the morals, general conduct, and ordinary situation of the free negroes, and afford them advice and instruction, protection from wrongs, and other friendly offices. II. A Committee of Guardians, who shall place out children and young people with suitable persons, that they may (during a moderate time of apprenticeship or servitude) learn some trade or other business of subsistence. The committee may effect this partly by a persuasive influence on parents and the persons concerned, and partly by cooperating with the laws, which are, or may be, enacted for this and similar purposes. In forming contracts on these occasions, the committee shall secure to the Society, as far as may be practicable, the right of guardianship over the persons so bound. III. A Committee of Education, who shall superintend the school instruction of the children and youth of the free blacks. They may either influence them to attend regularly the schools already established in this city, or form others with this view; they shall, in either case, provide, that the pupils may receive such learning as is necessary for their future situation in life, and especially a deep impression of the most important and generally acknowledged moral and religious principles. They shall also procure and preserve a regular record of the marriages, births, and manumissions of all free blacks. IV. A Committee of Employ, who shall endeavour to procure constant employment for those free negroes who are able to work; as the want of this would occasion poverty, idleness, and many vicious habits. This committee will, by sedulous inquiry, be enabled to find common labour for a great number; they will also provide, that such as indicate proper talents may learn various trades, which may be done by prevailing upon them to bind themselves for such a term of years as shall compensate their masters for the expense and trouble of instruction and maintenance. The committee may attempt the institution of some useful and simple manufactures, which require but little skill, and also may assist, in commencing business, such as appear to be qualified for it. Whenever the committee of inspection shall find persons of any particular description requiring attention, they shall immediately direct them to the committee of whose care they are the proper objects. In matters of a mixed nature, the committees shall confer, and, if necessary, act in concert. Affairs of great importance shall be referred to the whole committee. The expense, incurred by the prosecution of this plan, shall be defrayed by a fund, to be formed by donations or subscriptions for these particular purposes, and to be kept separate from the other funds of this Society. The committee shall make a report of their proceedings, and of the state of their stock, to the Society, at their quarterly meetings, in the months called April and October. 1789? _Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim on the Slave Trade_ TO THE EDITOR OF THE FEDERAL GAZETTE SIR, March 23d, 1790. Reading last night in your excellent Paper the speech of Mr. Jackson in Congress against their meddling with the Affair of Slavery, or attempting to mend the Condition of the Slaves, it put me in mind of a similar One made about 100 Years since by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a member of the Divan of Algiers, which may be seen in Martin's Account of his Consulship, anno 1687. It was against granting the Petition of the Sect called _Erika_, or Purists, who pray'd for the Abolition of Piracy and Slavery as being unjust. Mr. Jackson does not quote it; perhaps he has not seen it. If, therefore, some of its Reasonings are to be found in his eloquent Speech, it may only show that men's Interests and Intellects operate and are operated on with surprising similarity in all Countries and Climates, when under similar Circumstances. The African's Speech, as translated, is as follows. "_Allah Bismillah, &c. God is great, and Mahomet is his Prophet._ "Have these _Erika_ considered the Consequences of granting their Petition? If we cease our Cruises against the Christians, how shall we be furnished with the Commodities their Countries produce, and which are so necessary for us? If we forbear to make Slaves of their People, who in this hot Climate are to cultivate our Lands? Who are to perform the common Labours of our City, and in our Families? Must we not then be our own Slaves? And is there not more Compassion and more Favour due to us as Mussulmen, than to these Christian Dogs? We have now above 50,000 Slaves in and near Algiers. This Number, if not kept up by fresh Supplies, will soon diminish, and be gradually annihilated. If we then cease taking and plundering the Infidel Ships, and making Slaves of the Seamen and Passengers, our Lands will become of no Value for want of Cultivation; the Rents of Houses in the City will sink one half; and the Revenues of Government arising from its Share of Prizes be totally destroy'd! And for what? To gratify the whims of a whimsical Sect, who would have us, not only forbear making more Slaves, but even to manumit those we have. "But who is to indemnify their Masters for the Loss? Will the State do it? Is our Treasury sufficient? Will the _Erika_ do it? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think Justice to the Slaves, do a greater Injustice to the Owners? And if we set our Slaves free, what is to be done with them? Few of them will return to their Countries; they know too well the greater Hardships they must there be subject to; they will not embrace our holy Religion; they will not adopt our Manners; our People will not pollute themselves by intermarrying with them. Must we maintain them as Beggars in our Streets, or suffer our Properties to be the Prey of their Pillage? For Men long accustom'd to Slavery will not work for a Livelihood when not compell'd. And what is there so pitiable in their present Condition? Were they not Slaves in their own Countries? "Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian states govern'd by Despots, who hold all their Subjects in Slavery, without Exception? Even England treats its Sailors as Slaves; for they are, whenever the Government pleases, seiz'd, and confin'd in Ships of War, condemn'd not only to work, but to fight, for small Wages, or a mere Subsistence, not better than our Slaves are allow'd by us. Is their Condition then made worse by their falling into our Hands? No; they have only exchanged one Slavery for another, and I may say a better; for here they are brought into a Land where the Sun of Islamism gives forth its Light, and shines in full Splendor, and they have an Opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true Doctrine, and thereby saving their immortal Souls. Those who remain at home have not that Happiness. Sending the Slaves home then would be sending them out of Light into Darkness. "I repeat the Question, What is to be done with them? I have heard it suggested, that they may be planted in the Wilderness, where there is plenty of Land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free State; but they are, I doubt, too little dispos'd to labour without Compulsion, as well as too ignorant to establish a good government, and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy or again enslave them. While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing, and they are treated with Humanity. The Labourers in their own Country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and cloathed. The Condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further Improvement. Here their Lives are in Safety. They are not liable to be impress'd for Soldiers, and forc'd to cut one another's Christian Throats, as in the Wars of their own Countries. If some of the religious mad Bigots, who now teaze us with their silly Petitions, have in a Fit of blind Zeal freed their Slaves, it was not Generosity, it was not Humanity, that mov'd them to the Action; it was from the conscious Burthen of a Load of Sins, and Hope, from the supposed Merits of so good a Work, to be excus'd Damnation. "How grossly are they mistaken in imagining Slavery to be disallow'd by the Alcoran! Are not the two Precepts, to quote no more, _`Masters, treat your Slaves with kindness; Slaves, serve your Masters with Cheerfulness and Fidelity,'_ clear Proofs to the contrary? Nor can the Plundering of Infidels be in that sacred Book forbidden, since it is well known from it, that God has given the World, and all that it contains, to his faithful Mussulmen, who are to enjoy it of Right as fast as they conquer it. Let us then hear no more of this detestable Proposition, the Manumission of Christian Slaves, the Adoption of which would, by depreciating our Lands and Houses, and thereby depriving so many good Citizens of their Properties, create universal Discontent, and provoke Insurrections, to the endangering of Government and producing general Confusion. I have therefore no doubt, but this wise Council will prefer the Comfort and Happiness of a whole Nation of true Believers to the Whim of a few _Erika_, and dismiss their Petition." The Result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to this Resolution; "The Doctrine, that Plundering and Enslaving the Christians is unjust, is at best _problematical_; but that it is the Interest of this State to continue the Practice, is clear; therefore let the Petition be rejected." And it was rejected accordingly. And since like Motives are apt to produce in the Minds of Men like Opinions and Resolutions, may we not, Mr. Brown, venture to predict, from this Account, that the Petitions to the Parliament of England for abolishing the Slave-Trade, to say nothing of other Legislatures, and the Debates upon them, will have a similar Conclusion? I am, Sir, your constant Reader and humble Servant, HISTORICUS. _The Federal Gazette_, March 25, 1790 LETTERS ``WHEN WE LAUNCH OUR LITTLE FLEET OF BARQUES" _To Jonathan Shipley_ DEAR FRIEND, Philadelphia, Feb. 24'th, 1786. I received lately your kind letter of Nov. 27th. My Reception here was, as you have heard, very honourable indeed; but I was betray'd by it, and by some Remains of Ambition, from which I had imagined myself free, to accept of the Chair of Government for the State of Pennsylvania, when the proper thing for me was Repose and a private Life. I hope, however, to be able to bear the Fatigue for one Year, and then to retire. I have much regretted our having so little Opportunity for Conversation when we last met. You could have given me Informations and Counsels that I wanted, but we were scarce a Minute together without being broke in upon. I am to thank you, however, for the Pleasure I had after our Parting, in reading the new Book you gave me, which I think generally well written and likely to do good; tho' the Reading Time of most People is of late so taken up with News Papers and little periodical Pamphlets, that few now-a-days venture to attempt reading a Quarto Volume. I have admir'd to see, that, in the last Century, a Folio, _Burton on Melancholly_, went through Six Editions in about Twenty Years. We have, I believe, more Readers now, but not of such large Books. You seem desirous of knowing what Progress we make here in improving our Governments. We are, I think, in the right Road of Improvement, for we are making Experiments. I do not oppose all that seem wrong, for the Multitude are more effectually set right by Experience, than kept from going wrong by Reasoning with them. And I think we are daily more and more enlightened; so that I have no doubt of our obtaining in a few Years as much public Felicity, as good Government is capable of affording. Your NewsPapers are fill'd with fictitious Accounts of Anarchy, Confusion, Distresses, and Miseries, we are suppos'd to be involv'd in, as Consequences of the Revolution; and the few remaining Friends of the old Government among us take pains to magnify every little Inconvenience a Change in the Course of Commerce may have occasion'd. To obviate the Complaints they endeavour to excite, was written the enclos'd little Piece, from which you may form a truer Idea of our Situation, than your own public Prints would give you. And I can assure you, that the great Body of our Nation find themselves happy in the Change, and have not the smallest Inclination to return to the Domination of Britain. There could not be a stronger Proof of the general Approbation of the Measures, that promoted the Change, and of the Change itself, than has been given by the Assembly and Council of this State, in the nearly unanimous Choice for their Governor, of one who had been so much concern'd in those Measures; the Assembly being themselves the unbrib'd Choice of the People, and therefore may be truly suppos'd of the same Sentiments. I say nearly unanimous, because, of between 70 and 80 Votes, there were only my own and one other in the negative. As to my Domestic Circumstances, of which you kindly desire to hear something, they are at present as happy as I could wish them. I am surrounded by my Offspring, a Dutiful and Affectionate Daughter in my House, with Six Grandchildren, the eldest of which you have seen, who is now at a College in the next Street, finishing the learned Part of his Education; the others promising, both for Parts and good Dispositions. What their Conduct may be, when they grow up and enter the important Scenes of Life, I shall not live to _see_, and I cannot _foresee._ I therefore enjoy among them the present Hour, and leave the future to Providence. He that raises a large Family does, indeed, while he lives to observe them, _stand_, as Watts says, _a broader Mark for Sorrow_; but then he stands a broader Mark for Pleasure too. When we launch our little Fleet of Barques into the Ocean, bound to different Ports, we hope for each a prosperous Voyage; but contrary Winds, hidden Shoals, Storms, and Enemies come in for a Share in the Disposition of Events; and though these occasion a Mixture of Disappointment, yet, considering the Risque where we can make no Insurance, we should think ourselves happy if some return with Success. My Son's Son, Temple Franklin, whom you have also seen, having had a fine Farm of 600 Acres convey'd to him by his Father when we were at Southampton, has drop'd for the present his Views of acting in the political Line, and applies himself ardently to the Study and Practice of Agriculture. This is much more agreable to me, who esteem it the most useful, the most independent, and therefore the noblest of Employments. His Lands are on navigable water, communicating with the Delaware, and but about 16 Miles from this City. He has associated to himself a very skillful English Farmer lately arrived here, who is to instruct him in the Business, and partakes for a Term of the Profits; so that there is a great apparent Probability of their Success. You will kindly expect a Word or two concerning myself. My Health and Spirits continue, Thanks to God, as when you saw me. The only complaint I then had, does not grow worse, and is tolerable. I still have Enjoyment in the Company of my Friends; and, being easy in my Circumstances, have many Reasons to like Living. But the Course of Nature must soon put a period to my present Mode of Existence. This I shall submit to with less Regret, as, having seen during a long Life a good deal of this World, I feel a growing Curiosity to be acquainted with some other; and can chearfully, with filial Confidence, resign my Spirit to the conduct of that great and good Parent of Mankind, who created it, and who has so graciously protected and prospered me from my Birth to the present Hour. Wherever I am, I hope always to retain the pleasing remembrance of your Friendship, being with sincere and great Esteem, my dear Friend, yours most affectionately, P. S. We all join in Respects to Mrs. Shipley, and best wishes for the whole amiable Family. LEAD POISONING _To Benjamin Vaughan_ DEAR FRIEND, Philad'a, July 31, 1786. I recollect, that, when I had the great Pleasure of seeing you at Southampton, now a 12month since, we had some Conversation on the bad Effects of Lead taken inwardly; and that at your Request I promis'd to send you in writing a particular Account of several Facts I then mention'd to you, of which you thought some good use might be made. I now sit down to fulfil that Promise. The first Thing I remember of this kind was a general Discourse in Boston, when I was a Boy, of a Complaint from North Carolina against New England Rum, that it poison'd their People, giving them the Dry Bellyach, with a Loss of the Use of their Limbs. The Distilleries being examin'd on the Occasion, it was found that several of them used leaden Still-heads and Worms, and the Physicians were of Opinion, that the Mischief was occasioned by that Use of Lead. The Legislature of the Massachusetts thereupon pass'd an Act, prohibiting under severe Penalties the Use of such Still-heads and Worms thereafter. Inclos'd I send you a Copy of the Acc't, taken from my printed Law-book. In 1724, being in London, I went to work in the Printing-House of Mr. Palmer, Bartholomew Close, as a Compositor. I there found a Practice, I had never seen before, of drying a Case of Types (which are wet in Distribution) by placing it sloping before the Fire. I found this had the additional Advantage, when the Types were not only dry'd but heated, of being comfortable to the Hands working over them in cold weather. I therefore sometimes heated my Case when the Types did not want drying. But an old Workman, observing it, advis'd me not to do so, telling me I might lose the Use of my Hands by it, as two of our Companions had nearly done, one of whom that us'd to earn his Guinea a Week, could not then make more than ten Shillings, and the other, who had the Dangles, but seven and sixpence. This, with a kind of obscure Pain, that I had sometimes felt, as it were in the Bones of my Hand when working over the Types made very hot, induced me to omit the Practice. But talking afterwards with Mr. James, a Letter-founder in the same Close, and asking him if his People, who work'd over the little Furnaces of melted Metal, were not subject to that Disorder; he made light of any danger from the effluvia, but ascribed it to Particles of the Metal swallow'd with their Food by slovenly Workmen, who went to their Meals after handling the Metal, without well washing their Fingers, so that some of the metalline Particles were taken off by their Bread and eaten with it. This appeared to have some Reason in it. But the Pain I had experienc'd made me still afraid of those Effluvia. Being in Derbishire at some of the Furnaces for Smelting of Lead Ore, I was told, that the Smoke of those Furnaces was pernicious to the neighbouring Grass and other Vegetables; but I do not recollect to have heard any thing of the Effect of such Vegetables eaten by Animals. It may be well to make the Enquiry. In America I have often observ'd, that on the Roofs of our shingled Houses, where Moss is apt to grow in northern Exposures, if there be any thing on the Roof painted with white Lead, such as Balusters, or Frames of dormant Windows, &c., there is constantly a Streak on the Shingles from such Paint down to the Eaves, on which no Moss will grow, but the wood remains constantly clean and free from it. We seldom drink RainWater that falls on our Houses; and if we did, perhaps the small Quantity of Lead, descending from such Paint, might not be sufficient to produce any sensible ill Effect on our Bodies. But I have been told of a Case in Europe, I forgot the Place, where a whole Family was afflicted with what we call the Dry Bellyach, or _Colica Pictonum_, by drinking RainWater. It was at a Country-Seat, which, being situated too high to have the Advantage of a Well, was supply'd with Water from a Tank, which received the Water from the leaded Roofs. This had been drunk several Years without Mischief; but some young Trees planted near the House growing up above the Roof, and shedding their Leaves upon it, it was suppos'd that an Acid in those Leaves had corroded the Lead they cover'd, and furnish'd the Water of that Year with its baneful Particles and Qualities. When I was in Paris with Sir John Pringle in 1767, he visited _La Charite_, a Hospital particularly famous for the Cure of that Malady, and brought from thence a Pamphlet containing a List of the Names of Persons, specifying their Professions or Trades, who had been cured there. I had the Curiosity to examine that List, and found that all the Patients were of Trades, that, some way or other, use or work in Lead; such as Plumbers, Glaziers, Painters, &c., excepting only two kinds, Stonecutters and Soldiers. These I could not reconcile to my Notion, that Lead was the cause of that Disorder. But on my mentioning this Difficulty to a Physician of that Hospital, he inform'd me that the Stonecutters are continually using melted Lead to fix the Ends of Iron Balustrades in Stone; and that the Soldiers had been employ'd by Painters, as Labourers, in Grinding of Colours. This, my dear Friend, is all I can at present recollect on the Subject. You will see by it, that the Opinion of this mischievous Effect from Lead is at least above Sixty Years old; and you will observe with Concern how long a useful Truth may be known and exist, before it is generally receiv'd and practis'd on. I am, ever, yours most affectionately, "INVENTION AND IMPROVEMENT ARE PROLIFIC" _To Rev. John Lathrop_ REVEREND SIR, Philad'a, May 31, 1788. I received your obliging Favour of the 6th Inst by Mr. Hilliard, with whose Conversation I was much pleased, and would have been glad to have had more of it, if he could have spar'd it to me; but the short time of his stay has prevented. You need make no apology for introducing any of your friends to me. I consider it as doing me Honour, as well as giving me Pleasure. I thank you for the pamphlet of the Humane Society. In return please to accept one of the same kind, which was published while I resided in France. If your Society have not hitherto seen it, it may possibly afford them useful Hints. It would certainly, as you observe, be a very great Pleasure to me, if I could once again visit my Native Town, and walk over the Grounds I used to frequent when a Boy, and where I enjoyed many of the innocent Pleasures of Youth, which would be so brought to my Remembrance, and where I might find some of my old Acquaintance to converse with. But when I consider how well I am situated here, with every thing about me, that I can call either necessary or convenient; the fatigues and bad accommodations to be met with and suffered in a land journey, and the unpleasantness of sea voyages, to one, who, although he has crossed the Atlantic eight times, and made many smaller trips, does not recollect his having ever been at sea without taking a firm resolution never to go to sea again; and that, if I were arrived in Boston, I should see but little of it, as I could neither bear walking nor riding in a carriage over its pebbled streets; and, above all, that I should find very few indeed of my old friends living, it being now sixty-five years since I left it to settle here; -- all this considered, I say, it seems probable, though not certain, that I shall hardly again visit that beloved place. But I enjoy the company and conversation of its inhabitants, when any of them are so good as to visit me; for, besides their general good sense, which I value, the Boston manner, turn of phrase, and even tone of voice, and accent in pronunciation, all please, and seem to refresh and revive me. I have been long impressed with the same sentiments you so well express, of the growing felicity of mankind, from the improvements in philosophy, morals, politics, and even the conveniences of common living, by the invention and acquisition of new and useful utensils and instruments, that I have sometimes almost wished it had been my destiny to be born two or three centuries hence. For invention and improvement are prolific, and beget more of their kind. The present progress is rapid. Many of great importance, now unthought of, will before that period be produced; and then I might not only enjoy their advantages, but have my curiosity gratified in knowing what they are to be. I see a little absurdity in what I have just written, but it is to a friend, who will wink and let it pass, while I mention one reason more for such a wish, which is, that, if the art of physic shall be improved in proportion with other arts, we may then be able to avoid diseases, and live as long as the patriarchs in Genesis; to which I suppose we should make little objection. I am glad my dear sister has so good and kind a neighbour. I sometimes suspect she may be backward in acquainting me with circumstances in which I might be more useful to her. If any such should occur to your observation, your mentioning them to me will be a favour I shall be thankful for. With great esteem, I have the honour to be, Reverend Sir, &c. HONEST HERETICS _To Benjamin Vaughan_ _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 kept out of those disputes pretty well, having wrote only one little piece, which I send you inclosed. 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 arithmetick 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, that 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. Priestly. 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, "THE DISPLEASURE OF THE GREAT AND IMPARTIAL RULER OF THE UNIVERSE" _To John Langdon_ _Sir:_ The Pennsylvania Society for promoting the abolition of slavery, and the relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage, have taken the liberty to ask your Excellency's acceptance of a few copies of their Constitution and the laws of Pennsylvania, which relate to one of the objects of their Institution; also, of a copy of Thomas Clarkson's excellent Essay upon the Commerce and Slavery of the Africans. The Society have heard, with great regret, that a considerable part of the slaves, who have been sold in the Southern States since the establishment of peace, have been imported in vessels fitted out in the state, over which, your Excellency presides. From your Excellency's station, they hope your influence will be exerted, hereafter, to prevent a practice which is so evidently repugnant to the political principles and form of government lately adopted by citizens of the United States, and which cannot fail of delaying the enjoyment of the blessings of peace and liberty, by drawing down, the displeasure of the great and impartial Ruler of the Universe upon our country. I am, in behalf of the Society, Sir, your most obedient servant, 1788 "BEING A LITTLE MIFFY" _To Jane Mecom_ DEAR SISTER, Philada Augt 3. 1789 I have receiv'd your kind Letter of the 23d past, and am glad to learn that you have at length got some of those I so long since wrote to you. I think your Post Office is very badly managed. I expect your Bill, & shall pay it when it appears. -- I would have you put the Books into Cousin Jonathan's Hands who will dispose of them for you if he can, or return them hither. I am very much pleas'd to hear that you have had no Misunderstanding with his good Father. Indeed if there had been any such, I should have concluded that it was your Fault: for I think our Family were always subject to being a little Miffy. -- By the way, is our Relationship in Nantucket quite worn out? -- I have met with none from thence of late Years who were dispos'd to be acquainted with me, except Capt. Timothy Fulger. They are wonderfully shy. But I admire their honest plainness of Speech. About a Year ago I invited two of them to dine with me. Their Answer was that they would -- if they could not do better. I suppose they did better, for I never saw them afterwards; and so had no Opportunity of showing my Miff, if I had one. -- Give my Love to Cousin Williams's and thank them from me for all the Kindnesses to you, which I have always been acquainted with by you, and take as if done to myself. I am sorry to learn from his Son, that his Health is not so firm as formerly. A Journey hither by Land might do him good, and I should be happy to see him. -- I shall make the Addition you desire to my Superscriptions, desiring in Return that you would make a Substraction from yours. The Word Excellency does not belong to me, and Dr will be sufficient to distinguish me from my Grandson. This Family joins in Love to you and yours, with Your affectionate Brother "A GOOD MOTION NEVER DIES" _To John Wright_ DEAR FRIEND, Philadelphia, November 4, 1789. I received your kind letter of July the 31st, which gave me great pleasure, as it informed me of the welfare both of yourself and your good lady, to whom please to present my respects. I thank you for the epistle of your yearly meeting, and for the card, a specimen of printing, which was enclosed. We have now had one session of Congress, which was conducted under our new Constitution, and with as much general satisfaction as could reasonably be expected. I wish the struggle in France may end as happily for that nation. We are now in the full enjoyment of our new government for _eleven_ of the States, and it is generally thought that North Carolina is about to join it. Rhode Island will probably take longer time for consideration. We have had a most plentiful year for the fruits of the earth, and our people seem to be recovering fast from the extravagance and idle habits, which the war had introduced; and to engage seriously in the country habits of temperance, frugality, and industry, which give the most pleasing prospect of future national felicity. Your merchants, however, are, I think, imprudent in crowding in upon us such quantities of goods for sale here, which are not written for by ours, and are beyond the faculties of this country to consume in any reasonable time. This surplus of goods is, therefore, to raise present money, sent to the vendues, or auction-houses, of which we have six or seven in and near this city; where they are sold frequently for less than prime cost, to the great loss of the indiscreet adventurers. Our newspapers are doubtless to be seen at your coffee-houses near the Exchange. In their advertisements you may observe the constancy and quantity of this kind of sales; as well as the quantity of goods imported by our regular traders. I see in your English newspapers frequent mention of our being out of credit with you; to us it appears, that we have abundantly too much, and that your exporting merchants are rather out of their senses. I wish success to your endeavours for obtaining an abolition of the Slave Trade. The epistle from your Yearly Meeting, for the year 1758, was not the _first sowing_ of the good seed you mention; for I find by an old pamphlet in my possession, that George Keith, near a hundred years since, wrote a paper against the practice, said to be "given forth by the appointment of the meeting held by him, at Philip James's house, in the city of Philadelphia, about the year 1693;" wherein a strict charge was given to Friends, "that they should set their negroes at liberty, after some reasonable time of service, &c. &c." And about the year 1728, or 1729, I myself printed a book for Ralph Sandyford, another of your Friends in this city, against keeping negroes in slavery; two editions of which he distributed gratis. And about the year 1736, I printed another book on the same subject for Benjamin Lay, who also professed being one of your Friends, and he distributed the books chiefly among them. By these instances it appears, that the seed was indeed sown in the good ground of your profession, though much earlier than the time you mention, and its springing up to effect at last, though so late, is some confirmation of Lord Bacon's observation, that _a good motion never dies_; and it may encourage us in making such, though hopeless of their taking immediate effect. I doubt whether I shall be able to finish my Memoirs, and, if I finish them, whether they will be proper for publication. You seem to have too high an opinion of them, and to expect too much from them. I think you are right in preferring a mixed form of government for your country, under its present circumstances; and if it were possible for you to reduce the enormous salaries and emoluments of great officers, which are at bottom the source of all your violent factions, that form might be conducted more quietly and happily; but I am afraid, that none of your factions, when they get uppermost, will ever have virtue enough to reduce those salaries and emoluments, but will rather choose to enjoy them. I enclose a bill for twenty-five pounds, for which, when received, please to credit my account, and out of it pay Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, of Jeffries Square, and Mr. William Vaughan, his brother, of Mincing Lane, such accounts against me as they shall present to you for that purpose. I am, my dear friend, yours very affectionately, "ALL THESE IMPROVEMENTS BACKWARDS" _To Noah Webster_ DEAR SIR, Philad'a, Dec'r 26, 1789. I received some Time since your _Dissertations on the English Language._ The Book was not accompanied by any Letter or Message, informing me to whom I am obliged for it, but I suppose it is to yourself. It is an excellent Work, and will be greatly useful in turning the Thoughts of our Countrymen to correct Writing. Please to accept my Thanks for it as well as for the great honour you have done me in its Dedication. I ought to have made this Acknowledgment sooner, but much Indisposition prevented me. I cannot but applaud your Zeal for preserving the Purity of our Language, both in its Expressions and Pronunciation, and in correcting the popular Errors several of our States are continually falling into with respect to both. Give me leave to mention some of them, though possibly they may have already occurred to you. I wish, however, in some future Publication of yours, you would set a discountenancing Mark upon them. The first I remember is the word _improved._ When I left New England, in the year 23, this Word had never been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of _ameliorated_ or _made better_, except once in a very old Book of Dr. Mather's, entitled _Remarkable Providences._ As that eminent Man wrote a very obscure Hand, I remember that when I read that Word in his Book, used instead of the Word _imployed_, I conjectured that it was an Error of the Printer, who had mistaken a too short _l_ in the Writing for an _r_, and a _y_ with too short a Tail for a _v_; whereby _imployed_ was converted into _improved._ But when I returned to Boston, in 1733, I found this Change had obtained Favour, and was then become common; for I met with it often in perusing the Newspapers, where it frequently made an Appearance rather ridiculous. Such, for Instance, as the Advertisement of a Country-House to be sold, which had been many years _improved_ as a Tavern; and, in the Character of a deceased Country Gentleman, that he had been for more than 30 Years _improved_ as a Justice-of-Peace. This Use of the Word _improved_ is peculiar to New England, and not to be met with among any other Speakers of English, either on this or the other Side of the Water. During my late Absence in France, I find that several other new Words have been introduced into our parliamentary Language; for Example, I find a Verb formed from the Substantive _Notice_; _I should not have_ NOTICED _this, were it not that the Gentleman,_ &c. Also another Verb from the Substantive _Advocate_; _The Gentleman who_ ADVOCATES _or has_ ADVOCATED _that Motion,_ &c. Another from the Substantive _Progress_, the most awkward and abominable of the three; _The committee, having_ PROGRESSED, _resolved to adjourn._ The Word _opposed_, tho' not a new Word, I find used in a new Manner, as, _The Gentlemen who are_ OPPOSED _to this Measure_; _to which I have also myself always been_ OPPOSED. If you should happen to be of my Opinion with respect to these Innovations, you will use your Authority in reprobating them. The Latin Language, long the Vehicle used in distributing Knowledge among the different Nations of Europe, is daily more and more neglected; and one of the modern Tongues, viz. the French, seems in point of Universality to have supplied its place. It is spoken in all the Courts of Europe; and most of the Literati, those even who do not speak it, have acquired Knowledge enough of it to enable them easily to read the Books that are written in it. This gives a considerable Advantage to that Nation; it enables its Authors to inculcate and spread through other Nations such Sentiments and Opinions on important Points, as are most conducive to its Interests, or which may contribute to its Reputation by promoting the common Interests of Mankind. It is perhaps owing to its being written in French, that Voltaire's Treatise on _Toleration_ has had so sudden and so great an Effect on the Bigotry of Europe, as almost entirely to disarm it. The general Use of the French Language has likewise a very advantageous Effect on the Profits of the Bookselling Branch of Commerce, it being well known, that the more Copies can be sold that are struck off from one Composition of Types, the Profits increase in a much greater Proportion than they do in making a great Number of Pieces in any other Kind of Manufacture. And at present there is no Capital Town in Europe without a French Bookseller's Shop corresponding with Paris. Our English bids fair to obtain the second Place. The great Body of excellent printed Sermons in our Language, and the Freedom of our Writings on political Subjects, have induced a Number of Divines of different Sects and Nations, as well as Gentlemen concerned in public Affairs, to study it; so far at least as to read it. And if we were to endeavour the Facilitating its Progress, the Study of our Tongue might become much more general. Those, who have employed some Part of their Time in learning a new Language, must have frequently observed, that, while their Acquaintance with it was imperfect, Difficulties small in themselves operated as great ones in obstructing their Progress. A Book, for Example, ill printed, or a Pronunciation in speaking, not well articulated, would render a Sentence unintelligible; which, from a clear Print or a distinct Speaker, would have been immediately comprehended. If therefore we would have the Benefit of seeing our Language more generally known among Mankind, we should endeavour to remove all the Difficulties, however small, that discourage the learning it. But I am sorry to observe, that, of late Years, those Difficulties, instead of being diminished, have been augmented. In examining the English Books, that were printed between the Restoration and the Accession of George the 2'd, we may observe, that all _Substantives_ were begun with a capital, in which we imitated our Mother Tongue, the German. This was more particularly useful to those, who were not well acquainted with the English; there being such a prodigious Number of our Words, that are both _Verbs_ and _Substantives_, and spelt in the same manner, tho' often accented differently in Pronunciation. This Method has, by the Fancy of Printers, of late Years been laid aside, from an Idea, that suppressing the Capitals shows the Character to greater Advantage; those Letters prominent above the line disturbing its even regular Appearance. The Effect of this Change is so considerable, that a learned Man of France, who used to read our Books, tho' not perfectly acquainted with our Language, in Conversation with me on the Subject of our Authors, attributed the greater Obscurity he found in our modern Books, compared with those of the Period above mentioned, to a Change of Style for the worse in our Writers, of which Mistake I convinced him, by marking for him each _Substantive_ with a Capital in a Paragraph, which he then easily understood, tho' before he could not comprehend it. This shows the Inconvenience of that pretended Improvement. From the same Fondness for an even and uniform Appearance of Characters in the Line, the Printers have of late banished also the Italic Types, in which Words of Importance to be attended to in the Sense of the Sentence, and Words on which an Emphasis should be put in Reading, used to be printed. And lately another Fancy has induced some Printers to use the short round _s_, instead of the long one, which formerly served well to distinguish a word readily by its varied appearance. Certainly the omitting this prominent Letter makes the Line appear more even; but renders it less immediately legible; as the paring all Men's Noses might smooth and level their Faces, but would render their Physiognomies less distinguishable. Add to all these Improvements _backwards_, another modern Fancy, that grey Printing is more beautiful than black; hence the English new Books are printed in so dim a Character, as to be read with difficulty by old Eyes, unless in a very strong Light and with good Glasses. Whoever compares a Volume of the _Gentleman's Magazine_, printed between the Years 1731 and 1740, with one of those printed in the last ten Years, will be convinced of the much greater Degree of Perspicuity given by black Ink than by grey. Lord Chesterfield pleasantly remarked this Difference to Faulkener, the Printer of the Dublin _Journal_, who was vainly making Encomiums on his own Paper, as the most complete of any in the World; "But, Mr. Faulkener," said my Lord, "don't you think it might be still farther improved by using Paper and Ink not quite so near of a Colour?" For all these Reasons I cannot but wish, that our American Printers would in their Editions avoid these fancied Improvements, and thereby render their Works more agreable to Foreigners in Europe, to the great advantage of our Bookselling Commerce. Farther, to be more sensible of the Advantage of clear and distinct Printing, let us consider the Assistance it affords in Reading well aloud to an Auditory. In so doing the Eye generally slides forward three or four Words before the Voice. If the Sight clearly distinguishes what the coming Words are, it gives time to order the Modulation of the Voice to express them properly. But, if they are obscurely printed, or disguis'd by omitting the Capitals and long _s's_ or otherwise, the Reader is apt to modulate wrong; and, finding he has done so, he is oblig'd to go back and begin the Sentence again, which lessens the Pleasure of the Hearers. This leads me to mention an old Error in our Mode of Printing. We are sensible, that, when a Question is met with in Reading, there is a proper Variation to be used in the Management of the Voice. We have therefore a Point called an Interrogation, affix'd to the Question in order to distinguish it. But this is absurdly placed at its End; so that the Reader does not discover it, till he finds he has wrongly modulated his Voice, and is therefore obliged to begin again the Sentence. To prevent this, the Spanish Printers, more sensibly, place an Interrogation at the Beginning as well as at the End of a Question. We have another Error of the same kind in printing Plays, where something often occurs that is mark'd as spoken _aside._ But the Word _aside_ is placed at the End of the Speech, when it ought to precede it, as a Direction to the Reader, that he may govern his Voice accordingly. The Practice of our Ladies in meeting five or six together to form a little busy Party, where each is employ'd in some useful Work while one reads to them, is so commendable in itself, that it deserves the Attention of Authors and Printers to make it as pleasing as possible, both to the Reader and Hearers. After these general Observations, permit me to make one that I imagine may regard your Interest. It is that _your Spelling Book_ is miserably printed here, so as in many Places to be scarcely legible, and on wretched Paper. If this is not attended to, and the new one lately advertis'd as coming out should be preferable in these Respects, it may hurt the future Sale of yours. I congratulate you on your Marriage, of which the Newspapers inform me. My best wishes attend you, being with sincere esteem, Sir, &c. "AS TO JESUS OF NAZARETH" _To Ezra Stiles_ REVEREND AND DEAR SIR, Philad'a, March 9. 1790. I received your kind Letter of Jan'y 28, and am glad you have at length received the portrait of Gov'r Yale from his Family, and deposited it in the College Library. He was a great and good Man, and had the Merit of doing infinite Service to your Country by his Munificence to that Institution. The Honour you propose doing me by placing mine in the same Room with his, is much too great for my Deserts; but you always had a Partiality for me, and to that it must be ascribed. I am however too much obliged to Yale College, the first learned Society that took Notice of me and adorned me with its Honours, to refuse a Request that comes from it thro' so esteemed a Friend. But I do not think any one of the Portraits you mention, as in my Possession, worthy of the Place and Company you propose to place it in. You have an excellent Artist lately arrived. If he will undertake to make one for you, I shall cheerfully pay the Expence; but he must not delay setting about it, or I may slip thro' his fingers, for I am now in my eighty-fifth year, and very infirm. I send with this a very learned Work, as it seems to me, on the antient Samaritan Coins, lately printed in Spain, and at least curious for the Beauty of the Impression. Please to accept it for your College Library. I have subscribed for the Encyclopaedia now printing here, with the Intention of presenting it to the College. I shall probably depart before the Work is finished, but shall leave Directions for its Continuance to the End. With this you will receive some of the first numbers. You desire to know something of my Religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your Curiosity amiss, and shall endeavour in a few Words to gratify it. Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him is doing good to his other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence, as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive, that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Unbelievers in his Government of the World with any peculiar Marks of his Displeasure. I shall only add, respecting myself, that, having experienced the Goodness of that Being in conducting me prosperously thro' a long life, I have no doubt of its Continuance in the next, though without the smallest Conceit of meriting such Goodness. My Sentiments on this Head you will see in the Copy of an old Letter enclosed, which I wrote in answer to one from a zealous Religionist, whom I had relieved in a paralytic case by electricity, and who, being afraid I should grow proud upon it, sent me his serious though rather impertinent Caution. I send you also the Copy of another Letter, which will shew something of my Disposition relating to Religion. With great and sincere Esteem and Affection, I am, Your obliged old Friend and most obedient humble Servant P. S. Had not your College some Present of Books from the King of France? Please to let me know, if you had an Expectation given you of more, and the Nature of that Expectation? I have a Reason for the Enquiry. I confide, that you will not expose me to Criticism and censure by publishing any part of this Communication to you. I have ever let others enjoy their religious Sentiments, without reflecting on them for those that appeared to me unsupportable and even absurd. All Sects here, and we have a great Variety, have experienced my good will in assisting them with Subscriptions for building their new Places of Worship; and, as I have never opposed any of their Doctrines, I hope to go out of the World in Peace with them all. .