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Title: Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself, Volume II (of 2) - With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader
Author: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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New York:
Harper & Brothers, Publishers,
Franklin Square.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by
Harper & Brothers,
In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.




  The Way to Wealth; as clearly shown in the practice of
    an old Pennsylvania Almanac, entitled, "Poor Richard
    Improved"                                                        5

  On True Happiness                                                 14

  Public Men                                                        16

  The Waste of Life                                                 22

  Self-denial not the Essence of Virtue                             25

  On the Usefulness of the Mathematics                              27

  The Art of procuring Pleasant Dreams                              31

  Advice to a young Tradesman                                       37

  Rules of Health                                                   39

  The Ephemera; an Emblem of Human Life. To Madame
    Brillon, of Passy                                               40

  The Whistle. To Madame Brillon                                    42

  On Luxury, Idleness, and Industry                                 45

  On Truth and Falsehood                                            50

  Necessary Hints to those that would be Rich                       53

  The Way to make Money plenty in every Man's Pocket                54

  The Handsome and Deformed Leg                                     55

  On Human Vanity                                                   58

  On Smuggling, and its various Species                             62

  Remarks concerning the Savages of North America                   66

  On Freedom of Speech and the Press                                71

  On the Price of Corn and the Management of the Poor               82

  Singular Custom among the Americans, entitled Whitewashing        86

  On the Criminal Laws and the Practice of Privateering             94

  Letter from Anthony Afterwit                                     102


  To Mrs. Abiah Franklin                                           107

  To Miss Jane Franklin                                            108

  To the same                                                      109

  To Mr. George Whitefield                                         110

  To Mrs. D. Franklin                                              112

  To the same                                                      113

  To Mrs. Jane Mecom                                               114

  To the same                                                      115

  To the same                                                      116

  To Miss Stevenson                                                119

  To Lord Kames                                                    120

  To the same                                                      121

  To the same                                                      128

  To John Alleyne                                                  130

  To Governor Franklin                                             132

  To Dr. Priestley                                                 134

  To the same                                                      136

  To Mr. Mather                                                    137

  To Mr. Strahan                                                   138

  To Dr. Priestley                                                 138

  To Mrs. Thompson                                                 139

  To Mr. Lith                                                      142

  Answer to a Letter from Brussels                                 144

  To Dr. Price                                                     151

  To Dr. Priestley                                                 152

  To General Washington                                            154

  To M. Court de Gebelin                                           156

  To Francis Hopkinson                                             158

  To Francis Hopkinson                                             159

  To Samuel Huntingdon, President of Congress                      160

  To the Bishop of St. Asaph                                       162

  To Miss Alexander                                                163

  To Benjamin Vaughan                                              164

  To Mrs. Hewson                                                   166

  To David Hartley                                                 167

  To Dr. Percival                                                  168

  To Sir Joseph Banks                                              169

  To Robert Morris, Esq.                                           171

  To Dr. Mather                                                    172

  To William Strahan, M.P.                                         174

  To George Wheatley                                               178

  To David Hartley                                                 181

  To the Bishop of St. Asaph                                       181

  To Mrs. Hewson                                                   184

  To M. Veillard                                                   185

  To Mr. Jordain                                                   187

  To Miss Hubbard                                                  189

  To George Wheatley                                               190

  To B. Vaughan                                                    192

  To the President of Congress                                     193

  To Mrs. Green                                                    196

  To Dr. Price                                                     197

  To B. Vaughan                                                    198

  To Dr. Rush                                                      199

  To Miss Catharine Louisa Shipley                                 199

  To * * *                                                         200

  Copy of the last Letter written by Dr. Franklin                  201


  To the Abbé Soulavie.--Theory of the Earth                       203

  To Dr. John Pringle.--On the different Strata of the Earth       207

  To Mr. Bowdoin.--Queries and Conjectures relating to Magnetism
    and the Theory of the Earth                                    208

  To M. Dubourg.--On the Nature of Seacoal                         211

  Causes of Earthquakes                                            212

  To David Rittenhouse.--New and Curious Theory of Light
    and Heat                                                       224

  Of Lightning; and the Methods now used in America for
    the securing Buildings and Persons from its mischievous
    Effects                                                        227

  To Peter Collinson.--Electrical Kite                             231

  Physical and Meteorological Observations, Conjectures, and
    Suppositions                                                   232

  To Dr. Perkins.--Water-spouts and Whirlwinds compared            240

  To Alexander Small.--On the Northeast Storms in North
    America                                                        254

  To Dr. Lining.--On Cold produced by Evaporation                  256

  To Peter Franklin.--On the Saltness of Seawater                  263

  To Miss Stephenson.--Salt Water rendered fresh by
    Distillation.--Method of relieving Thirst by Seawater          264

  To the same.--Tendency of Rivers to the Sea.--Effects of
    the Sun's Rays on Cloths of different Colours                  266

  To the same.--On the Effect of Air on the Barometer, and
    the Benefits derived from the Study of Insects                 270

  To Dr. Joseph Priestley.--Effect of Vegetation on Noxious Air    273

  To Dr. John Pringle.--On the Difference of Navigation in
    Shoal and Deep Water                                           274

  To Oliver Neale.--On the Art of Swimming                         277

  To Miss Stephenson.--Method of contracting Chimneys.--Modesty
    in Disputation                                                 281

  To M. Dubourg.--Observations on the prevailing Doctrines
    of Life and Death                                              282

  Lord Brougham's Portrait of Dr. Franklin                         285


       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *


_As dearly shown in the practice of an old Pennsylvania Almanac,
entitled, "Poor Richard Improved."_


I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find
his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must
have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I
stopped my horse lately where a great number of people were collected at
an auction of merchants' goods. The hour of the sale not being come,
they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company
called to a plain, clean old man, with white locks, "Pray, Father
Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not these heavy taxes quite
ruin the country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you
advise us to?" Father Abraham stood up and replied, "If you would have
my advice, I will give it you in short; for _A word to the wise is
enough_, as Poor Richard says." They joined in desiring him to speak his
mind; and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows:

"Friends," said he, "the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid
on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more
easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous
to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times
as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from
these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us, by allowing an
abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be
done for us: _God helps them that help themselves_, as Poor Richard

"I. It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one
tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service; but idleness
taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely
shortens life. _Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears;
while the used key is always bright_, as Poor Richard says. _But dost
thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is
made of_, as Poor Richard says. How much more than is necessary do we
spend in sleep? forgetting that _The sleeping fox catches no poultry_,
and that _There will be sleeping enough in the grave_, as Poor Richard

"_If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be_, as
Poor Richard says, the _greatest prodigality_; since, as he elsewhere
tells us, _Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough,
always proves little enough_. Let us, then, up and be doing, and doing
to the purpose; so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity.
_Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy_; and _He that
riseth late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at
night_; while _Laziness travels so slowly, that Poverty soon overtakes
him_. _Drive thy business, let not that drive thee_; and _Early to bed
and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise_, as Poor
Richard says.

"So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make
these times better if we bestir ourselves. _Industry need not wish, and
he that lives upon hopes will die fasting_. _There are no gains without
pains; then help, hands, for I have no lands_; or, if I have, they are
smartly taxed. _He that hath a trade hath an estate; and he that hath a
calling hath an office of profit and honour_, as Poor Richard says; but
then the trade must be worked at, and the calling followed, or neither
the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. If we are
industrious, we shall never starve; for, _At the workingman's house
hunger looks in, but dares not enter_. Nor will the bailiff or the
constable enter; for _Industry pays debts, while despair increaseth
them_. What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation
left you a legacy? _Diligence is the mother of luck, and God gives all
things to industry. Then plough deep while sluggards sleep, and you
shall have corn to sell and to keep._ Work while it is called to-day,
for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow. _One to-day is
worth two to-morrows_, as Poor Richard says; and farther, _Never leave
that till to-morrow which you can do to-day_. If you were a servant,
would you not be ashamed that a good master should catch you idle? Are
you, then, your own master? Be ashamed to catch yourself idle when there
is so much to be done for yourself, your family, and your country.
Handle your tools without mittens; remember that _The cat in gloves
catches no mice_, as Poor Richard says. It is true there is much to be
done, and perhaps you are weak-handed; but stick to it steadily, and you
will see great effects; for _Constant dropping wears away stones_; and
_By diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable_; and _Little
strokes fell great oaks_.

"Methinks I hear some of you say, 'Must a man afford himself no
leisure?' I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says: _Employ
thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not
sure of a minute, throw not away an hour_. Leisure is time for doing
something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the
lazy man never; for _A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two
things. Many, without labour, would live by their wits only, but they
break for want of stock_; whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty,
and respect. _Fly pleasures, and they will follow you. The diligent
spinner has a large shift; and now I have a sheep and a cow, everybody
bids me good-morrow._

"II. But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and
careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust
too much to others; for, as Poor Richard says,

    _I never saw an oft-removed tree,
    Nor yet an oft-removed family,
    That throve so well as those that settled be._

And again, _Three removes are as bad as a fire_; and again, _Keep thy
shop, and thy shop will keep thee_; and again, _If you would have your
business done, go; if not, send_. And again,

    _He that by the plough would thrive,
    Himself must either hold or drive._

And again, _The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands_;
and again, _Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge_;
and again, _Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open_.
Trusting too much to others' care is the ruin of many; _for in the
affairs of this world men are saved, not by faith, but by the want of
it_; but a man's own care is profitable; for, _If you would have a
faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself. A little
neglect may breed great mischief; for want of a nail the shoe was lost;
for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider
was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy; all for the want of a
little care about a horseshoe nail._

"III. So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own
business; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our
industry more certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to
save as he gets, keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die
not worth a groat at last. _A fat kitchen makes a lean will_; and

    _Many estates are spent in the getting,
    Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,
    And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting._

_If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting. The
Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than
her incomes._

"Away, then, with your expensive follies, and you will not then have so
much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable
families. And farther, _What maintains one vice would bring up two
children_. You may think, perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch
now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a
little entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember,
_Many a little makes a mickle_. Beware of little expenses; _A small leak
will sink a great ship_, as Poor Richard says; and again, _Who dainties
love, shall beggars prove_; and moreover, _Fools make feasts, and wise
men eat them_.

"Here you are all got together at this sale of fineries and knickknacks.
You call them _goods_; but, if you do not take care, they will prove
_evils_ to some of you. You expect they will be sold cheap, and perhaps
they may for less than they cost; but, if you have no occasion for them,
they must be dear to you. Remember what Poor Richard says: _Buy what
thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessaries_. And
again, _At a great pennyworth pause a while_. He means, that perhaps the
cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or the bargain, by straitening
thee in thy business, may do thee more harm than good. For in another
place he says, _Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths_.
Again, _It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance_; and
yet this folly is practised every day at auctions, for want of minding
the Almanac. Many a one, for the sake of finery on the back, have gone
with a hungry belly, and half starved their families. _Silks and satins,
scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire_, as Poor Richard says.

"These are not the necessaries of life; they can scarcely be called the
conveniences; and yet, only because they look pretty, how many want to
have them! By these and other extravagances, the genteel are reduced to
poverty, and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but
who, through industry and frugality, have maintained their standing; in
which case it appears plainly that _A ploughman on his legs is higher
than a gentleman on his knees_, as Poor Richard says. Perhaps they have
had a small estate left them, which they knew not the getting of; they
think _It is day, and will never be night_; that a little to be spent
out of so much is not worth minding; but _Always taking out of the
mealtub and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom_, as Poor Richard
says; and then, _When the well is dry, they know the worth of water_.
But this they might have known before if they had taken his advice. _If
you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some; for he
that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing_, as Poor Richard says; and
indeed so does he that lends to such people, when he goes to get it in
again. Poor Dick farther advises, and says,

    _Fond pride of dress is sure a very curse;
    Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse._

And again, _Pride is as loud a beggar as Want, and a great deal more
saucy_. When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more, that
your appearance may be all of a piece; but Poor Dick says, _It is
easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it_.
And it is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog
to swell in order to equal the ox.

    _Vessels large may venture more,
    But little boats should keep near shore._

It is, however, a folly soon punished; for, as Poor Richard says, _Pride
that dines on vanity, sups on contempt. Pride breakfasted with Plenty,
dined with Poverty, and supped with Infamy_. And, after all, of what use
is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked, so much is
suffered? It cannot promote health nor ease pain; it makes no increase
of merit in the person; it creates envy; it hastens misfortune.

"But what madness must it be to _run in debt_ for these superfluities?
We are offered, by the terms of this sale, six months' credit; and that,
perhaps, has induced some of us to attend it, because we cannot spare
the ready money, and hope now to be fine without it. But ah! think what
you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your
liberty. If you cannot pay at the time, you will be ashamed to see your
creditor; you will be in fear when you speak to him; you will make poor,
pitiful, sneaking excuses, and, by degrees, come to lose your veracity,
and sink into base, downright lying; for _The second vice is lying, the
first is running in debt_, as Poor Richard says; and again, to the same
purpose, _Lying rides upon Debt's back_, whereas a freeborn ought not to
be ashamed nor afraid to see or speak to any man living. But poverty
often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue. _It is hard for an empty
bag to stand upright._

"What would you think of that prince or of that government who should
issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentlewoman,
on pain of imprisonment or servitude? Would you not say that you were
free, have a right to dress as you please, and that such an edict would
be a breach of your privileges, and such a government tyrannical? And
yet you are about to put your self under such tyranny, when you run in
debt for such dress! Your creditor has authority, at his pleasure, to
deprive you of your liberty, by confining you in jail till you shall be
able to pay him. When you have got your bargain, you may, perhaps, think
little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says, _Creditors have better
memories than debtors; creditors are a superstitious sect, great
observers of set days and times_. The day comes round before you are
aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it; or,
if you bear your debt in mind, the term, which at first seemed so long,
will, as it lessens, appear extremely short. Time will seem to have
added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders. _Those have a short
Lent who owe money to be paid at Easter_. At present, perhaps, you may
think yourselves in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a
little extravagance without injury; but

    _For age and want save while you may;
    No morning sun lasts a whole day._

Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever, while you live, expense
is constant and certain; and _It is easier to build two chimneys than to
keep one in fuel_, as Poor Richard says; so, _Rather go to bed
supperless than rise in debt_.

"IV. This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but, after all, do
not depend too much upon your own industry, and frugality, and prudence,
though excellent things; for they may all be blasted, without the
blessing of Heaven; and, therefore, ask that blessing humbly, and be not
uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and
help them. Remember, Job suffered, and was afterward prosperous.

"And now, to conclude, _Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will
learn in no other_, as Poor Richard says, and scarce in that; for it is
true, _We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct_. However,
remember this, _They that will not be counselled cannot be helped_; and
farther, that, _If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your
knuckles_, as Poor Richard says."

Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and
approved the doctrine; and immediately practised the contrary, just as
if it had been a common sermon; for the auction opened, and they began
to buy extravagantly. I found the good man had thoroughly studied my
Almanacs, and digested all I had dropped on these topics during the
course of twenty-five years. The frequent mention he made of me must
have tired any one else; but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with
it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my
own which he ascribed to me, but rather the gleanings that I had made of
the sense of all ages and nations. However, I resolved to be the better
for the echo of it; and, though I had at first determined to buy stuff
for a new coat, I went away resolved to wear my old one a little longer.
Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine. I
am, as ever, thine to serve thee,

                                             RICHARD SAUNDERS.

       *       *       *       *       *


The desire of happiness in general is so natural to us, that all the
world are in pursuit of it; all have this one end in view, though they
take such different methods to attain it, and are so much divided in
their notions of it.

Evil, as evil, can never be chosen; and, though evil is often the effect
of our own choice, yet we never desire it, but under the appearance of
an imaginary good.

Many things we indulge ourselves in may be considered by us as evils,
and yet be desirable; but then they are only considered as evils in
their effects and consequences, not as evils at present, and attended
with immediate misery.

Reason represents things to us not only as they are at present, but as
they are in their whole nature and tendency; passion only regards them
in the former light. When this governs us, we are regardless of the
future, and are only affected with the present. It is impossible ever to
enjoy ourselves rightly, if our conduct be not such as to preserve the
harmony and order of our faculties, and the original frame and
constitution of our minds; all true happiness, as all that is truly
beautiful, can only result from order.

While there is a conflict between the two principles of passion and
reason, we must be miserable in proportion to the struggle; and when the
victory is gained, and reason so far subdued as seldom to trouble us
with its remonstrances, the happiness we have then is not the happiness
of our rational nature, but the happiness only of the inferior and
sensual part of us, and, consequently, a very low and imperfect
happiness to what the other would have afforded us.

If we reflect upon any one passion and disposition of mind, abstract
from virtue, we shall soon see the disconnexion between that and true,
solid happiness. It is of the very essence, for instance, of envy to be
uneasy and disquieted. Pride meets with provocations and disturbances
upon almost every occasion. Covetousness is ever attended with
solicitude and anxiety. Ambition has its disappointments to sour us, but
never the good fortune to satisfy us; its appetite grows the keener by
indulgence, and all we can gratify it with at present serves but the
more to inflame its insatiable desires.

The passions, by being too much conversant with earthly objects, can
never fix in us a proper composure and acquiescence of mind. Nothing but
an indifference to the things of this world, an entire submission to the
will of Providence here, and a well-grounded expectation of happiness
hereafter, can give us a true, satisfactory enjoyment of ourselves.
Virtue is the best guard against the many unavoidable evils incident to
us; nothing better alleviates the weight of the afflictions, or gives a
truer relish of the blessings, of human life.

What is without us has not the least connexion with happiness, only so
far as the preservation of our lives and health depends upon it. Health
of body, though so far necessary that we cannot be perfectly happy
without it, is not sufficient to make us happy of itself. Happiness
springs immediately from the mind; health is but to be considered as a
condition or circumstance, without which this happiness cannot be tasted
pure and unabated.

Virtue is the best preservation of health, as it prescribes temperance,
and such a regulation of our passions as is most conducive to the
well-being of the animal economy; so that it is, at the same time, the
only true happiness of the mind, and the best means of preserving the
health of the body.

If our desires are to the things of this world, they are never to be
satisfied. If our great view is upon those of the next, the expectation
of them is an infinitely higher satisfaction than the enjoyment of those
of the present.

There is no happiness, then, but in a virtuous and self-approving
conduct. Unless our actions will bear the test of our sober judgments
and reflections upon them, they are not the actions, and, consequently,
not the happiness, of a rational being.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following is a dialogue between Socrates, the great Athenian
philosopher, and one Glaucon, a private man, of mean abilities, but
ambitious of being chosen a senator and of governing the republic;
wherein Socrates in a pleasant manner convinces him of his incapacity
for public affairs, by making him sensible of his ignorance of the
interests of his country in their several branches, and entirely
dissuades him from any attempt of that nature. There is also added, at
the end, part of another dialogue the same Socrates had with one
Charmidas, a worthy man, but too modest, wherein he endeavours to
persuade him to put himself forward and undertake public business, as
being very capable of it. The whole is taken from _Xenophon's Memorable
Things of Socrates, Book Third_.

"A certain man, whose name was Glaucon, the son of Ariston, had so fixed
it in his mind to govern the republic, that he frequently presented
himself before the people to discourse of affairs of state, though all
the world laughed at him for it; nor was it in the power of his
relations or friends to dissuade him from that design. But Socrates had
a kindness for him, on account of Plato, his brother, and he only it was
who made him change his resolution. He met him, and accosted him in so
winning a manner, that he first obliged him to hearken to his discourse.
He began with him thus:

"'You have a mind, then, to govern the republic?'

"'I have so,' answered Glaucon.

"'You cannot,' replied Socrates, 'have a more noble design; for if you
can accomplish it so as to become absolute, you will be able to serve
your friends, you will raise your family, you will extend the bounds of
your country, you will be known, not only in Athens, but through all
Greece, and perhaps your renown will fly even to the barbarous nations,
as did that of Themistocles. In short, wherever you come, you will have
the respect and admiration of all the world.'

"These words soothed Glaucon, and won him to give ear to Socrates, who
went on in this manner: 'But it is certain, that if you desire to be
honoured, you must be useful to the state.'

"'Certainly,' said Glaucon.

"'And in the name of all the gods,' replied Socrates, 'tell me, what is
the first service that you intend to render the state?'

"Glaucon was considering what to answer, when Socrates continued: 'If
you design to make the fortune of one of your friends, you will
endeavour to make him rich, and thus, perhaps, you will make it your
business to enrich the republic?'

"'I would,' answered Glaucon.

"Socrates replied, 'Would not the way to enrich the republic be to
increase its revenue?'

"'It is very likely it would,' answered Glaucon.

"'Tell me, then, in what consists the revenue of the state, and to how
much it may amount? I presume you have particularly studied this matter,
to the end that, if anything should be lost on one hand, you might know
where to make it good on another; and that, if a fund should fail on a
sudden, you might immediately be able to settle another in its place?'

"'I protest,' answered Glaucon, 'I have never thought of this.'

"'Tell me, at least, the expenses of the republic, for no doubt you
intend to retrench the superfluous?'

"'I never thought of this either,' said Glaucon.

"'You were best, then, to put off to another time your design of
enriching the republic, which you can never be able to do while you are
ignorant both of its expenses and revenue.'

"'There is another way to enrich a state,' said Glaucon, 'of which you
take no notice; and that is, by the ruin [spoils] of its enemies.'

"'You are in the right,' answered Socrates; 'but to this end it is
necessary to be stronger than they, otherwise we shall run the hazard of
losing what we have. He, therefore, who talks of undertaking a war,
ought to know the strength on both sides, to the end that, if his party
be the stronger, he may boldly advise for war, and that, if it be the
weaker, he may dissuade the people from engaging themselves in so
dangerous an enterprise.'

"'All this is true.'

"'Tell me, then,' continued Socrates,'how strong our forces are by sea
and land, and how strong are our enemies.'

"'Indeed,' said Glaucon, 'I cannot tell you on a sudden.'

"'If you have a list of them in writing, pray show it me; I should be
glad to hear it read.'

"'I have it not yet.'

"'I see, then,' said Socrates, 'that we shall not engage in war so
soon; for the greatness of the undertaking will hinder you from maturely
weighing all the consequences of it in the beginning of your government.
But,' continued he, 'you have thought of the defence of the country; you
know what garrisons are necessary, and what are not; you know what
number of troops is sufficient in one, and not sufficient in another;
you will cause the necessary garrisons to be re-enforced, and disband
those that are useless?'

"'I should be of opinion,' said Glaucon, 'to leave none of them on foot,
because they ruin a country on pretence of defending it.'

"'But,' Socrates objected, 'if all the garrisons were taken away, there
would be nothing to hinder the first comer from carrying off what he
pleased; but how come you to know that the garrisons behave themselves
so ill? Have you been upon the place? Have you seen them?'

"'Not at all; but I suspect it to be so.'

"'When, therefore, we are certain of it,' said Socrates, 'and can speak
upon better grounds than simple conjectures, we will propose this advice
to the senate.'

"'It may be well to do so,' said Glaucon.

"'It comes into my mind, too,' continued Socrates, 'that you have never
been at the mines of silver, to examine why they bring not in so much
now as they did formerly.'

"'You say true; I have never been there.'

"'Indeed, they say the place is very unhealthy, and that may excuse

"'You rally me now,' said Glaucon.

"Socrates added, 'But I believe you have at least observed how much corn
our land produces, how long it will serve to supply our city, and how
much more we shall want for the whole year; to the end you may not be
surprised with a scarcity of bread, but may give timely orders for the
necessary provisions.'

"'There is a deal to do,' said Glaucon, 'if we must take care of all
these things.'

"'There is so,' replied Socrates; 'and it is even impossible to manage
our own families well, unless we know all that is wanting, and take care
to provide it. As you see, therefore, that our city is composed of above
ten thousand families, and it being a difficult task to watch over them
all at once, why did you not first try to retrieve your uncle's affairs,
which are running to decay? and, after having given that proof of your
industry, you might have taken a greater trust upon you. But now, when
you find yourself incapable of aiding a private man, how can you think
of behaving yourself so as to be useful to a whole people? Ought a man,
who has not strength enought to carry a hundred pound weight, to
undertake to carry a heavier burden?'

"'I would have done good service to my uncle,' said Glaucon, 'if he
would have taken my advice.'

"'How,' replied Socrates, 'have you not hitherto been able to govern the
mind of your uncle, and do you now believe yourself able to govern the
minds of all the Athenians, and his among the rest? Take heed, my dear
Glaucon, take heed lest too great a desire of power should render you
despised; consider how dangerous it is to speak and entertain ourselves
concerning things we do not understand; what a figure do those forward
and rash people make in the world who do so; and judge yourself whether
they acquire more esteem than blame, whether they are more admired than
contemned. Think, on the contrary, with how much more honour a man is
regarded who understands perfectly what he says and what he does, and
then you will confess that renown and applause have always been the
recompense of true merit, and shame the reward of ignorance and
temerity. If, therefore, you would be honoured, endeavour to be a man of
true merit; and if you enter upon the government of the republic with a
mind more sagacious than usual, I shall not wonder if you succeed in all
your designs.'"

Thus Socrates put a stop to the disorderly ambition of this man; but, on
an occasion quite contrary, he in the following manner exhorted
Charmidas to take an employment.

"He was a man of sense, and more deserving than most others in the same
post; but, as he was of a modest disposition, he constantly declined,
and made great difficulties of engaging himself in public business.
Socrates therefore addressed himself to him in this manner:

"'If you knew any man that could gain the prizes in the public games,
and by that means render himself illustrious, and acquire glory to his
country, what would you say of him if he refused to offer himself to the

"'I would say,' answered Charmidas, 'that he was a mean-spirited,
effeminate fellow.'

"'And if a man were capable of governing a republic, of increasing its
power by his advice, and of raising himself by this means to a high
degree of honour, would you not brand him likewise with meanness of soul
if he would not present himself to be employed?'

"'Perhaps I might,' said Charmidas; 'but why do you ask me this
question?' Socrates replied, 'Because you are capable of managing the
affairs of the republic, and nevertheless you avoid doing so, though, in
quality of a citizen, you are _obliged_ to take care of the
commonwealth. Be no longer, then, thus negligent in this matter;
consider your abilities and your duty with more attention, and let not
slip the occasions of serving the republic, and of rendering it, if
possible, more flourishing than it is. This will be a blessing whose
influence will descend not only on the other citizens, but on your best
friends and yourself.'"

       *       *       *       *       *


Anergus was a gentleman of a good estate; he was bred to no business,
and could not contrive how to waste his hours agreeably; he had no
relish for any of the proper works of life, nor any taste at all for the
improvements of the mind; he spent, generally, ten hours of the
four-and-twenty in his bed; he dozed away two or three more on his
couch, and as many were dissolved in good liquor every evening, if he
met with company of his own humour. Five or six of the rest he sauntered
away with much indolence; the chief business of them was to contrive his
meals, and to feed his fancy beforehand with the promise of a dinner and
supper; not that he was so absolute a glutton or so entirely devoted to
his appetite, but, chiefly because he knew not how to employ his
thoughts better, he let them rove about the sustenance of his body. Thus
he had made a shift to wear off ten years since the paternal estate fell
into his hands; and yet, according to the abuse of words in our day, he
was called a man of virtue, because he was scarce ever known to be quite
drunken, nor was his nature much inclined to licentiousness.

One evening, as he was musing alone, his thoughts happened to take a
most unusual turn, for they cast a glance backward, and began to reflect
on his manner of life. He bethought himself what a number of living
beings had been made a sacrifice to support his carcass, and how much
corn and wine had been mingled with those offerings. He had not quite
lost all the arithmetic that he had learned when he was a boy, and he
set himself to compute what he had devoured since he came to the age of

"About a dozen of feathered creatures, small and great, have, one week
with another," said he, "given up their lives to prolong mine, which in
ten years amounts to at least six thousand.

"Fifty sheep have been sacrificed in a year, with half a hecatomb of
black cattle, that I might have the choicest part offered weekly upon my
table. Thus a thousand beasts out of the flock and the herd have been
slain in ten years' time to feed me, besides what the forest has
supplied me with. Many hundreds of fishes have, in all their varieties,
been robbed of life for my repast, and of the smaller fry as many

"A measure of corn would hardly afford me fine flour enough for a
month's provision, and this arises to above six score bushels; and many
hogsheads of ale and wine, and other liquors, have passed through this
body of mine, this wretched strainer of meat and drink.

"And what have I done all this time for God or man? What a vast
profusion of good things upon a useless life and a worthless liver!
There is not the meanest creature among all these which I have devoured,
but hath answered the end of its creation better than I. It was made to
support human nature, and it hath done so. Every crab and oyster I have
ate, and every grain of corn I have devoured, hath filled up its place
in the rank of beings with more propriety and honour than I have done.
Oh shameful waste of life and time!"

In short, he carried on his moral reflections with so just and severe a
force of reason, as constrained him to change his whole course of life,
to break off his follies at once, and to apply himself to gain some
useful knowledge, when he was more than thirty years of age. He lived
many following years with the character of a worthy man and an
excellent Christian; he performed the kind offices of a good neighbour
at home, and made a shining figure as a patriot in the senate-house; he
died with a peaceful conscience, and the tears of his country were
dropped upon his tomb.

The world, that knew the whole series of his life, stood amazed at the
mighty change. They beheld him as a wonder of reformation, while he
himself confessed and adored the Divine power and mercy, which had
transformed him from a brute to a man.

But this was a single instance; and we may almost venture to write
MIRACLE upon it. Are there not numbers of both sexes among our young
gentry, in this degenerate age, whose lives thus run to utter waste,
without the least tendency to usefulness?

When I meet with persons of such a worthless character as this, it
brings to my mind some scraps of Horace:

    "Nos numerus sumus, et fruges consumere nati,
    .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .  Alcinoique
    .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .  juventus,
    Cui pulchrum fuit in medios dormire dies," &c.


    There are a number of us creep
    Into this world, to eat and sleep;
    And know no reason why they're born,
    But merely to consume the corn,
    Devour the cattle, fowl, and fish,
    And leave behind an empty dish.
    Though crows and ravens do the same,
    Unlucky birds of hateful name,
    Ravens or crows might fill their places,
    And swallow corn and eat carcáses,
    Then, if their tombstone, when they die,
    Be n't taught to flatter and to lie.
    There's nothing better will be said,
    Than that _they've eat up all their bread,
    Drunk all their drink, and gone to bed_.

       *       *       *       *       *


It is commonly asserted, that without self-denial there is no virtue,
and that the greater the self-denial the greater the virtue.

If it were said that he who cannot deny himself anything he inclines to,
though he knows it will be to his hurt, has not the virtue of resolution
or fortitude, it would be intelligible enough; but, as it stands, it
seems obscure or erroneous.

Let us consider some of the virtues singly.

If a man has no inclination to wrong people in his dealings, if he feels
no temptation to it, and, therefore, never does it, can it be said that
he is not a just man? If he is a just man, has he not the virtue of

If to a certain man idle diversions have nothing in them that is
tempting, and, therefore, he never relaxes his application to business
for their sake, is he not an industrious man? Or has he not the virtue
of industry?

I might in like manner instance in all the rest of the virtues; but, to
make the thing short, as it is certain that the more we strive against
the temptation to any vice, and practise the contrary virtue, the weaker
will that temptation be, and the stronger will be that habit, till at
length the temptation has no force or entirely vanishes; does it follow
from thence that, in our endeavours to overcome vice, we grow
continually less and less virtuous, till at length we have no virtue at

If self-denial be the essence of virtue, then it follows that the man
who is naturally temperate, just, &c., is not virtuous; but that, in
order to be virtuous, he must, in spite of his natural inclination,
wrong his neighbours, and eat, and drink, &c., to excess.

But perhaps it may be said, that by the word _virtue_ in the above
assertion is meant merit; and so it should stand thus: Without
self-denial there is no merit, and the greater the self-denial the
greater the merit.

The self-denial here meant must be when our inclinations are towards
vice, or else it would still be nonsense.

By merit is understood desert; and when we say a man merits, we mean
that he deserves praise or reward.

We do not pretend to merit anything of God, for he is above our
services; and the benefits he confers on us are the effects of his
goodness and bounty.

All our merit, then, is with regard to one another, and from one to

Taking, then, the assertion as it last stands,

If a man does me a service from a natural benevolent inclination, does
he deserve less of me than another, who does me the like kindness
against his inclination?

If I have two journeymen, one naturally industrious, the other idle, but
both perform a day's work equally good, ought I to give the latter the
most wages?

Indeed, lazy workmen are commonly observed to be more extravagant in
their demands than the industrious; for, if they have not more for their
work, they cannot live as well. But though it be true to a proverb that
lazy folks take the most pains, does it follow that they deserve the
most money?

If you were to employ servants in affairs of trust, would you not bid
more for one you knew was naturally honest than for one naturally
roguish, but who has lately acted honestly? For currents, whose natural
channel is dammed up till the new course is by time worn sufficiently
deep and become natural, are apt to break their banks. If one servant is
more valuable than another, has he not more merit than the other? and
yet this is not on account of superior self-denial.

Is a patriot not praiseworthy if public spirit is natural to him?

Is a pacing-horse less valuable for being a natural pacer?

Nor, in my opinion, has any man less merit for having, in general,
natural virtuous inclinations.

The truth is, that temperance, justice, charity, &c., are virtues,
whether practised with or against our inclinations; and the man who
practises them merits our love and esteem; and self-denial is neither
good nor bad but as it is applied. He that denies a vicious inclination,
is virtuous in proportion to his resolution; but the most perfect virtue
is above all temptation; such as the virtue of the saints in heaven; and
he who does a foolish, indecent, or wicked thing, merely because it is
contrary to his inclination (like some mad enthusiasts I have read of,
who ran about naked, under the notion of taking up the cross), is not
practising the reasonable science of virtue, but is a lunatic.

       *       *       *       *       *


Mathematics originally signified any kind of discipline or learning, but
now it is taken for that science which teaches or contemplates whatever
is capable of being numbered or measured. That part of the mathematics
which relates to numbers only, is called _arithmetic_; and that which
is concerned about measure in general, whether length, breadth, motion,
force, &c., is called _geometry_.

As to the usefulness of arithmetic, it is well known that no business,
commerce, trade, or employment whatsoever, even from the merchant to the
shopkeeper, &c., can be managed and carried on without the assistance of
numbers; for by these the trader computes the value of all sorts of
goods that he dealeth in, does his business with ease and certainty, and
informs himself how matters stand at any time with respect to men,
money, and merchandise, to profit and loss, whether he goes forward or
backward, grows richer or poorer. Neither is this science only useful to
the merchant, but is reckoned the _primum mobile_ (or first mover) of
all mundane affairs in general, and is useful for all sorts and degrees
of men, from the highest to the lowest.

As to the usefulness of geometry, it is as certain that no curious art
or mechanic work can either be invented, improved, or performed without
its assisting principles.

It is owing to this that astronomers are put into a way of making their
observations, coming at the knowledge of the extent of the heavens, the
duration of time, the motions, magnitudes, and distances of the heavenly
bodies, their situations, positions, risings, settings, aspects, and
eclipses; also the measure of seasons, of years, and of ages.

It is by the assistance of this science that geographers present to our
view at once the magnitude and form of the whole earth, the vast extent
of the seas, the divisions of empires, kingdoms, and provinces.

It is by the help of geometry the ingenious mariner is instructed how to
guide a ship through the vast ocean, from one part of the earth to
another, the nearest and safest way, and in the shortest time.

By help of this science the architects take their just measures for the
structure of buildings, as private houses, churches, palaces, ships,
fortifications, &c.

By its help engineers conduct all their works, take the situation and
plan of towns, forts, and castles, measure their distances from one
another, and carry their measures into places that are only accessible
to the eye.

From hence also is deduced that admirable art of drawing sundials on any
place, howsoever situate, and for any part of the world, to point out
the exact time of the day, the sun's declination, altitude, amplitude,
azimuth, and other astronomical matters.

By geometry the surveyor is directed how to draw a map of any country,
to divide his lands, and to lay down and plot any piece of ground, and
thereby discover the area in acres, rods, and perches; the gauger is
instructed how to find the capacities or solid contents of all kinds of
vessels, in barrels, gallons, bushels, &c.; and the measurer is
furnished with rules for finding the areas and contents of superfices
and solids, and casting up all manner of workmanship. All these, and
many more useful arts, too many to be enumerated here, wholly depend
upon the aforesaid sciences, namely, arithmetic and geometry.

This science is descended from the infancy of the world, the inventors
of which were the first propagators of human kind, as Adam, Noah,
Abraham, Moses, and divers others.

There has not been any science so much esteemed and honoured as this of
the mathematics, nor with so much industry and vigilance become the care
of great men, and laboured in by the potentates of the world, namely,
emperors, kings, princes, &c.

_Mathematical demonstrations_ are a logic of as much or more use than
that commonly learned at schools, serving to a just formation of the
mind, enlarging its capacity, and strengthening it so as to render the
same capable of exact reasoning, and discerning truth from falsehood in
all occurrences, even subjects not mathematical. For which reason it is
said the Egyptians, Persians, and Lacedæmonians seldom elected any new
kings but such as had some knowledge in the mathematics; imagining those
who had not men of imperfect judgments, and unfit to rule and govern.

Though Plato's censure, that those who did not understand the 117th
proposition of the 13th book of Euclid's Elements ought not to be ranked
among rational creatures, was unreasonable and unjust, yet to give a man
the character of universal learning, who is destitute of a competent
knowledge in the mathematics, is no less so.

The usefulness of some particular parts of the mathematics, in the
common affairs of human life, has rendered some knowledge of them very
necessary to a great part of mankind, and very convenient to all the
rest, that are any way conversant beyond the limits of their own
particular callings.

Those whom necessity has obliged to get their bread by manual industry,
where some degree of art is required to go along with it, and who have
had some insight into these studies, have very often found advantages
from them sufficient to reward the pains they were at in acquiring them.
And whatever may have been imputed to some other studies, under the
notion of insignificance and loss of time, yet these, I believe, never
caused repentance in any, except it was for their remissness in the
prosecution of them.

Philosophers do generally affirm that human knowledge to be most
excellent which is conversant among the most excellent things. What
science, then, can there be more noble, more excellent, more useful for
men, more admirably high and demonstrative, than this of the

I shall conclude with what Plato says, in the seventh book of his
_Republic_, with regard to the excellence and usefulness of geometry,
being to this purpose:

"Dear friend--You see, then, that mathematics are necessary, because, by
the exactness of the method, we get a habit of using our minds to the
best advantage. And it is remarkable that, all men being capable by
nature to reason and understand the sciences, the less acute, by
studying this, though useless to them in every other respect, will gain
this advantage, that their minds will be improved in reasoning aright;
for no study employs it more, nor makes it susceptible of attention so
much; and those who we find have a mind worth cultivating, ought to
apply themselves to this study."

       *       *       *       *       *


_Inscribed to Miss * * * *, being written at her request_

As a great part of our life is spent in sleep, during which we have
sometimes pleasant and some times 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 dreams, it is, as the French
say, _autant de gagné_, 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 bedchamber. 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 bedchamber-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 a 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 a 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 then be cured of
the _aerophoba_, that at present distresses weak minds, and makes them
choose to be stifled and poisoned rather than leave open the window of a
bedchamber or put down the glass of a coach.

Confined air, when saturated with perspirable matter,[1] 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, such
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 fidgetiness (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 bedclothes 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 bedclothes, 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 portion of that vapour, receives therewith a
degree of heat that rarefies and renders it lighter, when it will be
pushed away, with its burden, 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.

     [1] What physicians call perspirable matter is that vapour which
     passes off from our bodies, from the lungs, and through the pores
     of the skin. The quantity of this is said to be five eighths of
     what we eat.--AUTHOR.

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 bedclothes
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 bedclothes, 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
bedclothes well, with at least twenty shakes, then throw the bed open
and leave it to cool; in the mean while, continuing undressed, walk
about your chamber till your skin has had time to discharge its load,
which it will do sooner as the air may be drier 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 bedclothes 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 afterward. But this latter method is not equal to the

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 ancles; 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.

       *       *       *       *       *



As you have desired it of me, I write the following hints, which have
been of service to me, and may, if observed, be so to you.

Remember that _time_ is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by
his labour, and goes abroad or sits idle one half of that day, though he
spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to
reckon _that_ the only expense; he has really spent, or, rather, thrown
away, five shillings besides.

Remember that _credit_ is money. If a man lets his money lie in my hands
after it is due, he gives me the interest, or so much as I can make of
it during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum where a man has
good and large credit, and makes good use of it.

Remember that money is of the prolific, generating nature. Money can
beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings
turned is six, turned again it is seven and threepence, and so on till
it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it
produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He
that kills a breeding-sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth
generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have
produced, even scores of pounds.

Remember that six pounds a year is but a groat a day. For this little
sum (which may be daily wasted either in time or expense unperceived) a
man of credit may, on his own security, have the constant possession and
use of a hundred pounds. So much in stock, briskly turned by an
industrious man, produces great advantage.

Remember this saying, _The good paymaster is lord of another man's
purse._ He that is known to pay punctually and exactly to the time he
promises, may at any time, and on any occasion, raise all the money his
friends can spare. This is sometimes of great use. After industry and
frugality, nothing contributes more to the raising of a young man in the
world than punctuality and justice in all his dealings; therefore never
keep borrowed money an hour beyond the time you promised, lest a
disappointment shut up your friend's purse for ever.

The most trifling actions that affect a man's credit are to be regarded.
The sound of your hammer at five in the morning or nine at night, heard
by a creditor, makes him easy six months longer; but if he sees you at a
billiard-table, or hears your voice at a tavern when you should be at
work, he sends for his money the next day; demands it, before he can
receive it, in a lump.

It shows, besides, that you are mindful of what you owe; it makes you
appear a careful as well as an honest man, and that still increases your

Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living
accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into.
To prevent this, keep an exact account for some time both of your
expenses and your income. If you take the pains at first to mention
particulars, it will have this good effect: you will discover how
wonderfully small, trifling expenses mount up to large sums, and will
discern what might have been, and may, for the future, be saved, without
occasioning any great inconvenience.

In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to
market. It depends chiefly on two words, _industry_ and _frugality_;
that is, waste neither _time_ nor _money_, but make the best use of
both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do, and with them
everything. He that gets all he can honestly, and saves all he gets
(necessary expenses excepted), will certainly become _rich_, if that
Being who governs the world, to whom all should look for a blessing on
their honest endeavours, doth not, in his wise providence, otherwise

                                             AN OLD TRADESMAN.

       *       *       *       *       *


Eat and drink such an exact quantity as the constitution of thy body
allows of, in reference to the services of the mind.

They that study much ought not to eat so much as those that work hard,
their digestion being not so good.

The exact quantity and quality being found out, is to be kept to

Excess in all other things whatever, as well as in meat and drink, is
also to be avoided.

Youth, age, and the sick require a different quantity.

And so do those of contrary complexions; for that which is too much for
a phlegmatic man is not sufficient for a choleric.

The measure of food ought to be (as much as possibly may be) exactly
proportionable to the quality and condition of the stomach, because the
stomach digests it.

That quantity that is sufficient, the stomach can perfectly concoct and
digest, and it sufficeth the due nourishment of the body.

A greater quantity of some things may be eaten than of others, some
being of lighter digestion than others.

The difficulty lies in finding out an exact measure; but eat for
necessity, not pleasure; for lust knows not where necessity ends.

Wouldst thou enjoy a long life, a healthy body, and a vigorous mind, and
be acquainted also with the wonderful works of God, labour in the first
place to bring thy appetite to reason.

       *       *       *       *       *



Written in 1778.

You may remember, my dear friend, that when we lately spent that happy
day in the delightful garden and sweet society of the Moulin Joly, I
stopped a little in one of our walks, and stayed some time behind the
company. We had been shown numberless skeletons of a kind of little fly,
called an ephemera, whose successive generations, we were told, were
bred and expired within the day. I happened to see a living company of
them on a leaf, who appeared to be engaged in conversation. You know I
understand all the inferior animal tongues. My too great application to
the study of them is the best excuse I can give for the little progress
I have made in your charming language. I listened, through curiosity, to
the discourse of these little creatures; but as they, in their national
vivacity, spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their
conversation. I found, however, by some broken expressions that I heard
now and then, they were disputing warmly on the merit of two foreign
musicians, one a _cousin_, the other a _moscheto_; in which dispute
they spent their time, seemingly as regardless of the shortness of life
as if they had been sure of living a month. Happy people! thought I; you
are certainly under a wise, just, and mild government, since you have no
public grievances to complain of, nor any subject of contention but the
perfections and imperfections of foreign music. I turned my head from
them to an old gray-headed one, who was single on another leaf, and
talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy, I put it down in
writing, in hopes it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so much
indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements, her delicious company
and heavenly harmony.

"It was," said he, "the opinion of learned philosophers of our race, who
lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world, the
Moulin Joy, could not itself subsist more than eighteen hours; and I
think there was some foundation for that opinion, since, by the apparent
motion of the great luminary that gives life to all nature, and which in
my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end
of our earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the
waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness,
necessarily producing universal death and destruction. I have lived
seven of those hours, a great age, being no less than four hundred and
twenty minutes of time. How very few of us continue so long! I have seen
generations born, flourish, and expire! My present friends are the
children and grandchildren of the friends of my youth, who are now,
alas, no more! And I must soon follow them; for, by the course of
nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or
eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labour in amassing
honey-dew on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy? What the political
struggles I have been engaged in for the good of my compatriot
inhabitants of this bush, or my philosophical studies for the benefit of
our race in general! for, in politics, what can laws do without morals?
Our present race of ephemeræ will in a course of minutes become corrupt
like those of other and older bushes, and, consequently, as wretched.
And in philosophy how small our progress! Alas! art is long and life is
short! My friends would comfort me with the idea of a name they say I
shall leave behind me; and they tell me I have lived long enough to
nature and to glory. But what will fame be to an ephemera who no longer
exists? And what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when
the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end and
be buried in universal ruin?"

To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid pleasures now remain but
the reflection of a long life spent in meaning well, the sensible
conversation of a few good lady ephemeræ, and now and then a kind smile
and a tune from the ever amiable _Brillante_.

       *       *       *       *       *



                                          Passy, November 10, 1779.

* * * * * I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your
plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in
the mean time, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my
opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less
evil, if we would take care not to give too much for _whistles_ For to
me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so
by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holyday, filled
my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys
for children; and, being charmed with the sound of a _whistle_ that I
met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and
gave all my money for one. I then came home and went whistling all over
the house, much pleased with my _whistle_, but disturbing all the
family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain
I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was
worth; put me in mind of what good things I might have bought with the
rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried
with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the
_whistle_ gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing on
my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary
thing, I said to myself, _Don't give too much for the whistle_; and I
saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I
thought I met with many, very many, who _gave too much for the whistle_.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favour, sacrificing his time in
attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps
his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, _This man gives too
much for his whistle._

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in
political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that
neglect, _He pays, indeed_, said I, _too much for his whistle._

If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all
the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his
fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of
accumulating wealth, _Poor man_, said I, _you pay too much for your

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable
improvement of the mind or of his fortune to mere corporeal sensations,
and ruining his health in their pursuit, _Mistaken man_, said I, _you
are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure; you give too much
for your whistle._

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine
furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts
debts and ends his days in prison, _Alas!_ say I, _he has paid dear,
very dear, for his whistle._

When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured
brute of a husband, _What a pity_, say I, _that she should pay so much
for a whistle!_

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are
brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of
things, and by their _giving too much for their whistles_.

Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider
that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain
things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John,
which, happily, are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by
auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and
find that I had once more given too much for the _whistle_.

Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours very sincerely and with
unalterable affection,

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *


     [2] From a letter to Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, dated at Passy, July
     26th, 1784.

It is wonderful how preposterously the affairs of this world are
managed. Naturally one would imagine that the interest of a few
individuals should give way to general interest; but individuals manage
their affairs with so much more application, industry, and address than
the public do theirs, that general interest most commonly gives way to
particular. We assemble parliaments and councils to have the benefit of
their collected wisdom; but we necessarily have, at the same time, the
inconvenience of their collected passions, prejudices, and private
interests. By the help of these, artful men overpower their wisdom and
dupe its possessors: and if we may judge by the acts, _arrêts_, and
edicts, all the world over, for regulating commerce, an assembly of
great men is the greatest fool upon earth.

I have not yet, indeed, thought of a remedy for luxury. I am not sure
that in a great state it is capable of a remedy, nor that the evil is in
itself always so great as it is represented. Suppose we include in the
definition of luxury all unnecessary expense, and then let us consider
whether laws to prevent such expense are possible to be executed in a
great country, and whether, if they could be executed, our people
generally would be happier, or even richer. Is not the hope of being one
day able to purchase and enjoy luxuries a great spur to labour and
industry! May not luxury, therefore, produce more than it consumes, if
without such a spur people would be, as they are naturally enough
inclined to be, lazy and indolent? To this purpose I remember a
circumstance. The skipper of a shallop, employed between Cape May and
Philadelphia, had done us some small service, for which he refused to be
paid. My wife, understanding that he had a daughter, sent her a
new-fashioned cap. Three years after, this skipper being at my house
with an old farmer of Cape May, his passenger, he mentioned the cap, and
how much his daughter had been pleased with it. "But," said he, "it
proved a dear cap to our congregation." "How so?" "When my daughter
appeared with it at meeting, it was so much admired that all the girls
resolved to get such caps from Philadelphia; and my wife and I computed
that the whole could not have cost less than a hundred pounds." "True,"
said the farmer, "but you do not tell all the story. I think the cap
was, nevertheless, an advantage to us, for it was the first thing that
put our girls upon knitting worsted mittens for sale at Philadelphia,
that they might have wherewithal to buy caps and ribands there; and you
know that that industry has continued, and is likely to continue, and
increase to a much greater value, and answer better purposes." Upon the
whole, I was more reconciled to this little piece of luxury, since not
only the girls were made happier by having fine caps, but the
Philadelphians by the supply of warm mittens.

In our commercial towns upon the seacoast fortunes will occasionally be
made. Some of those who grow rich will be prudent, live within bounds,
and preserve what they have gained for their posterity; others, fond of
showing their wealth, will be extravagant and ruin themselves. Laws
cannot prevent this; and perhaps it is not always an evil to the public.
A shilling spent idly by a fool may be picked up by a wiser person, who
knows better what to do with it. It is, therefore, not lost. A vain,
silly fellow builds a fine house, furnishes it richly, lives in it
expensively, and in a few years ruins himself; but the masons,
carpenters, smiths, and other honest tradesmen have been by his employ
assisted in maintaining and raising their families; the farmer has been
paid for his labour, and encouraged, and the estate is now in better
hands. In some cases, indeed, certain modes of luxury may be a public
evil, in the same manner as it is a private one. If there be a nation,
for instance, that exports its beef and linen to pay for the importation
of claret and porter, while a great part of its people live upon
potatoes and wear no shirts, wherein does it differ from the sot, who
lets his family starve and sells his clothes to buy drink? Our American
commerce is, I confess, a little in this way. We sell our victuals to
the Islands for rum and sugar; the substantial necessaries of life for
superfluities. But we have plenty, and live well, nevertheless, though,
by being soberer, we might be richer.

The vast quantity of forest-land we have yet to clear and put in order
for cultivation, will for a long time keep the body of our nation
laborious and frugal. Forming an opinion of our people and their manners
by what is seen among the inhabitants of the seaports, is judging from
an improper sample. The people of the trading towns may be rich and
luxurious, while the country possesses all the virtues that tend to
promote happiness and public prosperity. Those towns are not much
regarded by the country; they are hardly considered as an essential part
of the states; and the experience of the last war has shown, that their
being in possession of the enemy did not necessarily draw on the
subjection of the country, which bravely continued to maintain its
freedom and independence notwithstanding.

It has been computed by some political arithmetician, that if every man
and woman would work for four hours every day on something useful, that
labour would produce sufficient to procure all the necessaries of life,
want and misery would be banished out of the world, and the rest of the
twenty-four hours might be leisure and pleasure.

What occasions, then, so much want and misery? It is the employment of
men and women in works that produce neither the necessaries nor
conveniences of life; who, with those who do nothing, consume
necessaries raised by the laborious. To explain this.

The first elements of wealth are obtained by labour, from the earth and
waters. I have land and raise corn. With this, if I feed a family that
does nothing, my corn will be consumed, and at the end of the year I
shall be no richer than I was at the beginning. But if, while I feed
them, I employ them, some in spinning, others in making bricks, &c., for
building, the value of my corn will be arrested and remain with me, and
at the end of the year we may all be better clothed and better lodged.
And if, instead of employing a man I feed in making bricks, I employ him
in fiddling for me, the corn he eats is gone, and no part of his
manufacture remains to augment the wealth and convenience of the family;
I shall, therefore, be the poorer for this fiddling man, unless the rest
of my family work more or eat less, to make up the deficiency he

Look round the world and see the millions employed in doing nothing, or
in something that amounts to nothing, when the necessaries and
conveniences of life are in question. What is the bulk of commerce, for
which we fight and destroy each other, but the toil of millions for
superfluities, to the great hazard and loss of many lives by the
constant dangers of the sea? How much labour is spent in building and
fitting great ships to go to China and Arabia for tea and coffee, to the
West Indies for sugar, to America for tobacco? These things can not be
called the necessaries of life, for our ancestors lived very comfortably
without them.

A question may be asked. Could all these people, now employed in
raising, making, or carrying superfluities, be subsisted by raising
necessaries? I think they might. The world is large, and a great part of
it still uncultivated. Many hundred millions of acres in Asia, Africa,
and America are still in a forest, and a great deal even in Europe. On a
hundred acres of this forest a man might become a substantial farmer;
and a hundred thousand men, employed in clearing each his hundred acres,
would hardly brighten a spot big enough to be visible from the moon,
unless with Herschel's telescope; so vast are the regions still in wood.

It is, however, some comfort to reflect, that, upon the whole, the
quantity of industry and prudence among mankind exceeds the quantity of
idleness and folly. Hence the increase of good buildings, farms
cultivated, and populous cities filled with wealth, all over Europe,
which a few ages since were only to be found on the coast of the
Mediterranean; and this, notwithstanding the mad wars continually
raging, by which are often destroyed in one year the works of many
years' peace. So that we may hope the luxury of a few merchants on the
coast will not be the ruin of America.

One reflection more, and I will end this long, rambling letter. Almost
all the parts of our bodies require some expense. The feet demand shoes;
the legs stockings; and the rest of the body clothing; and the belly a
good deal of victuals. Our eyes, though exceedingly useful, ask, when
reasonable, only the cheap assistance of spectacles, which could not
much impair our finances. But the eyes of other people are the eyes that
ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine
clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture.

       *       *       *       *       *


Veritas luce clarior.[3]

     [3] Truth is brighter than light.

A friend of mine was the other day cheapening some trifles at a
shopkeeper's, and after a few words they agreed on a price. At the tying
up of the parcels he had purchased, the mistress of the shop told him
that people were growing very hard, for she actually lost by everything
she sold. How, then, is it possible, said my friend, that you can keep
on your business? Indeed, sir, answered she, I must of necessity shut my
doors, had I not a very great trade. The reason, said my friend (with a
sneer), is admirable.

There are a great many retailers who falsely imagine that being
_historical_ (the modern phrase for lying) is much for their advantage;
and some of them have a saying, _that it is a pity lying is a sin, it is
so useful in trade_; though if they would examine into the reason why a
number of shopkeepers raise considerable estates, while others who have
set out with better fortunes have become bankrupts, they would find that
the former made up with truth, diligence, and probity, what they were
deficient of in stock; while the latter have been found guilty of
imposing on such customers as they found had no skill in the quality of
their goods.

The former character raises a credit which supplies the want of fortune,
and their fair dealing brings them customers; whereas none will return
to buy of him by whom he has been once imposed upon. If people in trade
would judge rightly, we might buy blindfolded, and they would save, both
to themselves and customers, the unpleasantness of _haggling_.

Though there are numbers of shopkeepers who scorn the mean vice of
lying, and whose word may very safely be relied on, yet there are too
many who will endeavour, and backing their falsities with asseverations,
pawn their salvation to raise their prices.

As example works more than precept, and my sole view being the good and
interest of my countrymen, whom I could wish to see without any vice or
folly, I shall offer an example of the veneration bestowed on truth and
abhorrence of falsehood among the ancients.

Augustus, triumphing over Mark Antony and Cleopatra, among other
captives who accompanied them, brought to Rome a priest of about sixty
years old; the senate being informed that this man had never been
detected in a falsehood, and was believed never to have told a lie, not
only restored him to liberty, but made him a high priest, and caused a
statue to be erected to his honour. The priest thus honoured was an
Egyptian, and an enemy to Rome, but his virtue removed all obstacles.

Pamphilius was a Roman citizen, whose body upon his death was forbidden
sepulture, his estate was confiscated, his house razed, and his wife and
children banished the Roman territories, wholly for his having been a
notorious and inveterate liar.

Could there be greater demonstrations of respect for truth than these of
the Romans, who elevated an enemy to the greatest honours, and exposed
the family of a citizen to the greatest contumely?

There can be no excuse for lying, neither is there anything equally
despicable and dangerous as a liar, no man being safe who associates
with him; for _he who will lie will swear to it_, says the proverb; and
such a one may endanger my life, turn my family out of doors, and ruin
my reputation, whenever he shall find it his interest; and if a man will
lie and swear to it in his shop to obtain a trifle, why should we doubt
his doing so when he may hope to make a fortune by his perjury? The
crime is in itself so mean, that to call a man a liar is esteemed
everywhere an affront not to be forgiven.

If any have lenity enough to allow the dealers an excuse for this bad
practice, I believe they will allow none for the gentleman who is
addicted to this vice; and must look upon him with contempt. That the
world does so, is visible by the derision with which his name is treated
whenever it is mentioned.

The philosopher Epimenides gave the Rhodians this description of Truth.
She is the companion of the gods, the joy of heaven, the light of the
earth, the pedestal of justice, and the basis of good policy.

Eschines told the same people, that truth was a virtue without which
force was enfeebled, justice corrupted; humility became dissimulation,
patience intolerable, chastity a dissembler, liberty lost, and pity

Pharmanes the philosopher told the Romans that truth was the centre on
which all things rested: a chart to sail by, a remedy for all evils, and
a light to the whole world.

Anaxarchus, speaking of truth, said it was health incapable of sickness,
life not subject to death, an elixir that healeth all, a sun not to be
obscured, a moon without eclipse, an herb which never withereth, a gate
that is never closed, and a path which never fatigues the traveller.

But if we are blind to the beauties of truth, it is astonishing that we
should not open our eyes to the inconvenience of falsity. A man given to
romance must be always on his guard, for fear of contradicting and
exposing himself to derision; for the most _historical_ would avoid
the odious character, though it is impossible, with the utmost
circumspection, to travel long on this route without detection, and
shame and confusion follow. Whereas he who is a votary of truth never
hesitates for an answer, has never to rack his invention to make the
sequel quadrate with the beginning of his story, nor obliged to burden
his memory with minute circumstances, since truth speaks easily what it
recollects, and repeats openly and frequently without varying facts,
which liars cannot always do, even though gifted with a good memory.

       *       *       *       *       *


Written Anno 1736.

The use of money is all the advantage there is in having money.

For six pounds a year you may have the use of one hundred pounds,
provided you are a man of known prudence and honesty.

He that spends a groat a day idly, spends idly above six pounds a year,
which is the price for the use of one hundred pounds.

He that wastes idly a groat's worth of his time per day, one day with
another, wastes the privilege of using one hundred pounds each day.

He that idly loses five shillings' worth of time, loses five shillings,
and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea.

He that loses five shillings, not only loses that sum, but all the
advantage that might be made by turning it in dealing, which, by the
time that a young man becomes old, will amount to a considerable sum of

Again: he that sells upon credit, asks a price for what he sells
equivalent to the principal and interest of his money for the time he
is to be kept out of it; therefore, he that buys upon credit pays
interest for what he buys, and he that pays ready money might let that
money out to use: so that he that possesses anything he bought, pays
interest for the use of it.

Yet, in buying goods, it is best to pay ready money, because he that
sells upon credit expects to lose five per cent. by bad debts; therefore
he charges, on all he sells upon credit, an advance that shall make up
that deficiency.

Those who pay for what they buy upon credit, pay their share of this

He that pays ready money escapes, or may escape, that charge.

    A penny saved is twopence clear,
    A pin a day's a groat a year.

       *       *       *       *       *


At this time, when the general complaint is that "money is scarce," it
will be an act of kindness to inform the moneyless how they may
re-enforce their pockets. I will acquaint them with the true secret of
money-catching, the certain way to fill empty purses, and how to keep
them always full. Two simple rules, well observed, will do the business.

First, let honesty and industry be thy constant companions; and,

Secondly, spend one penny less than thy clear gains.

Then shall thy hidebound pocket soon begin to thrive, and will never
again cry with the empty bellyache: neither will creditors insult thee,
nor want oppress, nor hunger bite, nor nakedness freeze thee. The whole
hemisphere will shine brighter, and pleasure spring up in every corner
of thy heart. Now, therefore, embrace these rules and be happy. Banish
the bleak winds of sorrow from thy mind and live independent. Then shalt
thou be a man and not hide thy face at the approach of the rich nor
suffer the pain of feeling little when the sons of fortune walk at thy
right hand: for independence, whether with little or much, is good
fortune and placeth thee on even ground with the proudest of the golden
fleece. Oh, then, be wise, and let industry walk with thee in the
morning, and attend thee until thou reachest the evening hour for rest.
Let honesty be as the breath of thy soul, and never forget to have a
penny when all thy expenses are enumerated and paid: then shalt thou
reach the point of happiness, and independence shall be thy shield and
buckler, thy helmet and crown; then shall thy soul walk upright, nor
stoop to the silken wretch because he hath riches, nor pocket an abuse
because the hand which offers it wears a ring set with diamonds.

       *       *       *       *       *


There are two sorts of people in the world, who, with equal degrees of
health and wealth, and the other comforts of life, become, the one happy
and the other miserable. This arises very much from the different views
in which they consider things, persons, and events, and the effect of
those different views upon their own minds.

In whatever situation men can be placed, they may find conveniences and
inconveniences; in whatever company, they may find persons and
conversation more or less pleasing; at whatever table, they may meet
with meats and drinks of better and worse taste, dishes better and worse
dressed; in whatever climate, they will find good and bad weather; under
whatever government, they may find good and bad laws, and good and bad
administration of those laws; in whatever poem or work of genius, they
may see faults and beauties; in almost every face and every person, they
may discover fine features and defects, good and bad qualities.

Under these circumstances, the two sorts of people above mentioned fix
their attention, those who are disposed to be happy on the conveniences
of things, the pleasant parts of conversation, the well-dressed dishes,
the goodness of the wines, the fine weather, &c., and enjoy all with
cheerfulness. Those who are to be unhappy, think and speak only of the
contraries. Hence they are continually discontented themselves, and by
their remarks sour the pleasures of society, offend personally many
people, and make themselves everywhere disagreeable. If this turn of
mind was founded in nature, such unhappy persons would be the more to be
pitied. But as the disposition to criticise and to be disgusted is,
perhaps, taken up originally by imitation, and is, unawares, grown into
a habit, which, though at present strong, may nevertheless be cured;
when those who have it are convinced of its bad effects on their
felicity, I hope this little admonition may be of service to them, and
put them on changing a habit which, though in the exercise it is chiefly
an act of imagination, yet has serious consequences in life, as it
brings on real griefs and misfortunes. For, as many are offended by, and
nobody loves this sort of people, no one shows them more than the most
common civility and respect, and scarcely that; and this frequently puts
them out of humour, and draws them into disputes and contentions. If
they aim at obtaining some advantage in rank or fortune, nobody wishes
them success, or will stir a step or speak a word to favour their
pretensions. If they incur public censure or disgrace, no one will
defend or excuse, and many join to aggravate their misconduct, and
render them completely odious. If these people will not change this bad
habit, and condescend to be pleased with what is pleasing, without
fretting themselves and others about the contraries, it is good for
others to avoid an acquaintance with them, which is always disagreeable,
and sometimes very inconvenient, especially when one finds one's self
entangled in their quarrels.

An old philosophical friend of mine was grown, from experience, very
cautious in this particular, and carefully avoided any intimacy with
such people. He had, like other philosophers, a thermometer to show him
the heat of the weather, and a barometer to mark when it was likely to
prove good or bad; but there being no instrument invented to discover,
at first sight, this unpleasing disposition in a person, he for that
purpose made use of his legs; one of which was remarkably handsome, the
other, by some accident, crooked and deformed. If a stranger, at the
first interview, regarded his ugly leg more than his handsome one, he
doubted him. If he spoke of it, and took no notice of the handsome leg,
that was sufficient to determine my philosopher to have no farther
acquaintance with him. Everybody has not this two-legged instrument; but
every one, with a little attention, may observe signs of that carping,
fault-finding disposition, and take the same resolution of avoiding the
acquaintance of those infected with it. I therefore advise those
critical, querulous, discontented, unhappy people, that, if they wish to
be respected and beloved by others and happy in themselves, they should
_leave off looking at the ugly leg_.

       *       *       *       *       *


Mr. Franklin, Meeting with the following curious little piece the other
day, I send it to you to republish, as it is now in very few hands.
There is something so elegant in the imagination, conveyed in so
delicate a style, and accompanied with a moral so just and elevated,
that it must yield great pleasure and instruction to every mind of real
taste and virtue.

_Cicero_, in the first of his Tusculan questions, finely exposes the
vain judgment we are apt to form of human life compared with eternity.
In illustrating this argument, he quotes a passage of natural history
from Aristotle, concerning a species of insects on the banks of the
river Hypanis, that never outlive the day in which they are born.

To pursue the thought of this elegant writer, let us suppose one of the
most robust of these _Hypanians_, so famed in history, was in a manner
coeval with time itself; that he began to exist at break of day, and
that, from the uncommon strength of his constitution, he has been able
to show himself active in life, through the numberless minutes of ten or
twelve hours. Through so long a series of seconds, he must have acquired
vast wisdom in his way, from observation and experience.

He looks upon his fellow-creatures who died about noon to be happily
delivered from the many inconveniences of old age; and can, perhaps,
recount to his great grandson a surprising tradition of actions before
any records of their nation were extant. The young swarm of Hypanians,
who may be advanced one hour in life, approach his person with respect,
and listen to his improving discourse. Everything he says will seem
wonderful to their short lived generation. The compass of a day will be
esteemed the whole duration of time; and the first dawn of light will,
in their chronology, be styled the great era of their creation.

Let us now suppose this venerable insect, this _Nestor_ of _Hypania_,
should, a little before his death, and about sunset, send for all his
descendants, his friends and his acquaintances, out of the desire he may
have to impart his last thoughts to them, and to admonish them with his
departing breath. They meet, perhaps, under the spacious shelter of a
mushroom, and the dying sage addresses himself to them after the
following manner:

"Friends and fellow-citizens! I perceive the longest life must, however,
end: the period of mine is now at hand; neither do I repine at my fate,
since my great age has become a burden to me, and there is nothing new
to me under the sun: the changes and revolutions I have seen in my
country, the manifold private misfortunes to which we are all liable,
the fatal diseases incident to our race, have abundantly taught me this
lesson, that no happiness can be secure and lasting which is placed in
things that are out of our power. Great is the uncertainty of life! A
whole brood of our infants have perished in a moment by a keen blast!
Shoals of our straggling youth have been swept into the ocean by an
unexpected breeze! What wasteful desolation have we not suffered from
the deluge of a sudden shower! Our strongest holds are not proof against
a storm of hail, and even a dark cloud damps the very stoutest heart.

"I have lived in the first ages, and conversed with insects of a larger
size and stronger make, and, I must add, of greater virtue than any can
boast of in the present generation. I must conjure you to give yet
further credit to my latest words, when I assure you that yonder sun,
which now appears westward, beyond the water, and seems not to be far
distant from the earth, in my remembrance stood in the middle of the
sky, and shot his beams directly down upon us. The world was much more
enlightened in those ages, and the air much warmer. Think it not dotage
in me if I affirm that glorious being moves: I saw his first setting out
in the east, and I began my race of life near the time when he began his
immense career. He has for several ages advanced along the sky with vast
heat and unparalleled brightness; but now, by his declination and a
sensible decay, more especially of late, in his vigour, I foresee that
all nature must fall in a little time, and that the creation will lie
buried in darkness in less than a century of minutes.

"Alas! my friends, how did I once flatter myself with the hopes of
abiding here forever! how magnificent are the cells which I hollowed out
for myself! what confidence did I repose in the firmness and spring of
my joints, and in the strength of my pinions! _But I have lived long
enough to nature, and even to glory._ Neither will any of you, whom I
leave behind, have equal satisfaction in life, in the dark declining age
which I see is already begun."

Thus far this agreeable unknown writer--too agreeable, we may hope, to
remain always concealed. The fine allusion to the character of _Julius
Cæsar_, whose words he has put into the mouth of this illustrious son of
_Hypanis_, is perfectly just and beautiful, and aptly points out the
moral of this inimitable piece, the design of which would have been
quite perverted, had a virtuous character, a _Cato_ or a _Cicero_, been
made choice of to have been turned into ridicule. Had this _life of a
day_ been represented as employed in the exercise of virtue, it would
have an equal dignity with a life of any limited duration, and,
according to the exalted sentiments of Tully, would have been preferable
to an immortality filled with all the pleasures of sense, if void of
those of a higher kind: but as the views of this vainglorious insect
were confined within the narrow circle of his own existence, as he only
boasts the magnificent cells he has built and the length of happiness he
has enjoyed, he is the proper emblem of all such insects of the human
race, whose ambition does not extend beyond the like narrow limits; and
notwithstanding the splendour they appear in at present, they will no
more deserve the regard of posterity than the butterflies of the last
spring. In vain has history been taken up in describing the numerous
swarms of this mischievous species which has infested the earth in the
successive ages: now it is worth the inquiry of the virtuous, whether
the _Rhine_ or the _Adige_ may not, perhaps, swarm with them at present,
as much as the banks of the _Hypanis_; or whether that silver rivulet,
the _Thames_, may not show a specious molehill, covered with inhabitants
of the like dignity and importance. The busy race of beings attached to
these fleeting enjoyments are indeed all of them engaged in the pursuit
of happiness, and it is owing to their imperfect notions of it that they
stop so far short in their pursuit. The present prospect of pleasure
seems to bound their views, and the more distant scenes of happiness,
when what they now propose shall be attained, do not strike their
imagination. It is a great stupidity or thoughtlessness not to perceive
that the happiness of rational creatures is inseparably connected with
immortality. Creatures only endowed with sensation may in a low sense be
reputed happy, so long as their sensations are pleasing; and if these
pleasing sensations are commensurate with the time of their existence,
this measure of happiness is complete. But such beings as are endowed
with _thought_ and _reflection_ cannot be made happy by any limited term
of happiness, how great soever its duration may be. The more exquisite
and more valuable their enjoyments are, the more painful must be the
thought that they are to have an end; and this pain of expectation must
be continually increasing, the nearer the end approaches. And if these
beings are themselves immortal, and yet insecure of the continuance of
their happiness, the case is far worse, since an eternal void of
delight, if not to say a state of misery, must succeed. It would be here
of no moment, whether the time of their happiness were measured by
_days_ or _hours_, by _months_ or _years_, or by _periods_ of the most
immeasurable length: these swiftly-flowing streams bear no proportion to
that ocean of infinity where they must finish their course. The longest
duration of finite happiness avails nothing when it is past: nor can the
memory of it have any other effect than to renew a perpetual pining
after pleasures never to return; and since virtue is the only pledge and
security of a happy immortality, the folly of sacrificing it to any
temporal advantage, how important soever they may appear, must be
infinitely great, and cannot but leave behind it an eternal regret.

       *       *       *       *       *


Sir,--There are many people that would be thought, and even think
themselves, _honest_ men, who fail nevertheless in particular points of
honesty; deviating from that character sometimes by the prevalence of
mode or custom, and sometimes through mere inattention, so that their
_honesty_ is partial only, and not _general_ or universal. Thus one who
would scorn to overreach you in a bargain, shall make no scruple of
tricking you a little now and then at cards: another, that plays with
the utmost fairness, shall with great freedom cheat you in the sale of
a horse. But there is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good
people more easily and frequently fall, than that of defrauding
government of its revenues by smuggling when they have an opportunity,
or encouraging smugglers by buying their goods.

I fell into these reflections the other day, on hearing two gentlemen of
reputation discoursing about a small estate, which one of them was
inclined to sell and the other to buy; when the seller, in recommending
the place, remarked, that its situation was very advantageous on this
account, that, being on the seacoast in a smuggling country, one had
frequent opportunities of buying many of the expensive articles used in
a family (such as tea, coffee, chocolate, brandy, wines, cambrics,
Brussels laces, French silks, and all kinds of India goods) 20, 30, and,
in some articles, 50 _per cent._ cheaper than they could be had in the
more interior parts, of traders that paid duty. The other _honest_
gentleman allowed this to be an advantage, but insisted that the seller,
in the advanced price he demanded on that account, rated the advantage
much above its value. And neither of them seemed to think dealing with
smugglers a practice that an _honest_ man (provided he got his goods
cheap) had the least reason to be ashamed of.

At a time when the load of our public debt, and the heavy expense of
maintaining our fleets and armies to be ready for our defence on
occasion, makes it necessary not only to continue old taxes, but often
to look out for new ones, perhaps it may not be unuseful to state this
matter in a light that few seem to have considered it in.

The people of Great Britain, under the happy constitution of this
country, have a privilege few other countries enjoy, that of choosing
the third branch of the legislature, which branch has alone the power of
regulating their taxes. Now, whenever the government finds it necessary
for the common benefit, advantage, and safety of the nation, for the
security of our liberties, property, religion, and everything that is
dear to us, that certain sums shall be yearly raised by taxes, duties,
&c., and paid into the public treasury, thence to be dispensed by
government for those purposes, ought not every _honest man_ freely and
willingly to pay his just proportion of this necessary expense? Can he
possibly preserve a right to that character, if by fraud, stratagem, or
contrivance, he avoids that payment in whole or in part?

What should we think of a companion who, having supped with his friends
at a tavern, and partaken equally of the joys of the evening with the
rest of us, would nevertheless contrive by some artifice to shift his
share of the reckoning upon others, in order to go off scot-free? If a
man who practised this would, when detected, be deemed and called a
scoundrel, what ought he to be called who can enjoy all the inestimable
benefits of public society, and yet, by smuggling or dealing with
smugglers, contrive to evade paying his just share of the expense, as
settled by his own representatives in parliament, and wrongfully throw
it upon his honest and, perhaps, much poorer neighbours? He will,
perhaps, be ready to tell me that he does not wrong his neighbours; he
scorns the imputation; he only cheats the king a little, who is very
able to bear it. This, however, is a mistake. The public treasure is the
treasure of the nation, to be applied to national purposes. And when a
duty is laid for a particular public and necessary purpose, if, through
smuggling, that duty falls short of raising the sum required, and other
duties must therefore be laid to make up the deficiency, all the
additional sum laid by the new duties and paid by other people, though
it should amount to no more than a halfpenny or a farthing per head, is
so much actually picked out of the pockets of those other people by the
smugglers and their abettors and encouragers. Are they, then, any better
or other than pickpockets? and what mean, low, rascally pickpockets must
those be that can pick pockets for halfpence and for farthings?

I would not, however, be supposed to allow, in what I have just said,
that cheating the king is a less offence against honesty than cheating
the public. The king and the public, in this case, are different names
for the same thing; but if we consider the king distinctly it will not
lessen the crime: it is no justification of a robbery, that the person
robbed was rich and able to bear it. The king has as much right to
justice as the meanest of his subjects; and as he is truly the common
_father_ of his people, those that rob him fall under the Scripture we
pronounced against the son _that robbeth his father and saith it is no

Mean as this practice is, do we not daily see people of character and
fortune engaged in it for trifling advantages to themselves? Is any lady
ashamed to request of a gentleman of her acquaintance, that, when he
returns from abroad, he would smuggle her home a piece of silk or lace
from France or Flanders? Is any gentleman ashamed to undertake and
execute the commission? Not in the least. They will talk of it freely,
even before others whose pockets they are thus contriving to pick by
this piece of knavery.

Among other branches of the revenue, that of the post office is, by a
late law, appropriated to the discharge of our public debt, to defray
the expenses of the state. None but members of parliament and a few
public officers have now a right to avoid, by a frank, the payment of
postage. When any letter, not written by them or on their business, is
franked by any of them, it is a hurt to the revenue, an injury which
they must now take the pains to conceal by writing the whole
superscription themselves. And yet such is our insensibility to justice
in this particular, that nothing is more common than to see, even in a
reputable company, a _very honest_ gentleman or lady declare his or her
intention to cheat the nation of threepence by a frank, and, without
blushing, apply to one of the very legislators themselves, with a modest
request that he would be pleased to become an accomplice in the crime
and assist in the perpetration.

There are those who, by these practices, take a great deal in a year out
of the public purse, and put the money into their own private pockets.
If, passing through a room where public treasure is deposited, a man
takes the opportunity of clandestinely pocketing and carrying off a
guinea, is he not truly and properly a thief? And if another evades
paying into the treasury a guinea he ought to pay in, and applies it to
his own use, when he knows it belongs to the public as much as that
which has been paid in, what difference is there in the nature of the
crime or the baseness of committing it?

       *       *       *       *       *


Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we
think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs.

Perhaps, if we could examine the manners of different nations with
impartiality, we should find no people so rude as to be without any
rules of politeness, nor any so polite as not to have some remains of

The Indian men, when young, are hunters and warriors; when old,
counsellors; for all their government is by the council or advice of the
sages. There is no force, there are no prisons, no officers to compel
obedience or inflict punishment. Hence they generally study oratory, the
best speaker having the most influence. The Indian women till the
ground, dress the food, nurse and bring up the children, and preserve
and hand down to posterity the memory of public transactions. These
employments of men and women are accounted natural and honourable.
Having few artificial wants, they have abundance of leisure for
improvement by conversation. Our laborious manner of life, compared with
theirs, they esteem slavish and base; and the learning on which we value
ourselves, they regard as frivolous and useless. An instance of this
occurred at the treaty of Lancaster, in Pennsylvania, anno 1744, between
the government of Virginia and the Six Nations. After the principal
business was settled, the commissioners from Virginia acquainted the
Indians, by a speech, that there was at Williamsburgh a college, with a
fund for educating Indian youth; and that, if the chiefs of the Six
Nations would send down half a dozen of their sons to that college, the
government would take care that they should be well provided for, and
instructed in all the learning of the white people. It is one of the
Indian rules of politeness not to answer a public proposition the same
day that it is made; they think it would be treating it as a light
matter, and that they show it respect by taking time to consider it, as
of a matter important. They therefore deferred their answer till the day
following, when their speaker began by expressing their deep sense of
the kindness of the Virginia government in making them that offer; "for
we know," says he, "that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught
in those colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men, while with
you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, therefore, that
you mean to do us good by your proposal; and we thank you heartily. But
you, who are wise, must know that different nations have different
conceptions of things; and you will therefore not take it amiss if our
ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We
have had some experience of it: several of our young people were
formerly brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were
instructed in all your sciences; but when they came back to us, they
were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable
to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a
deer, nor kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore
neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counsellors; they were totally
good for nothing. We are, however, not the less obliged by your kind
offer, though we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful sense
of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons,
we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we
know, and make _men_ of them."

Having frequent occasions to hold public councils, they have acquired
great order and decency in conducting them. The old men sit in the
foremost ranks, the warriors in the next, and the women and children in
the hindmost. The business of the women is to take exact notice of what
passes, imprint it in their memories, for they have no writing, and
communicate it to their children. They are the records of the council,
and they preserve the tradition of the stipulations in treaties a
hundred years back; which, when we compare with our writings, we always
find exact. He that would speak, rises. The rest observe a profound
silence. When he has finished and sits down, they leave him five or six
minutes to recollect, that, if he has omitted anything he intended to
say, or has anything to add, he may rise again and deliver it. To
interrupt another, even in common conversation, is reckoned highly
indecent. How different this is from the conduct of a polite British
House of Commons, where scarce a day passes without some confusion that
makes the speaker hoarse in calling _to order_; and how different from
the mode of conversation in many polite companies of Europe, where, if
you do not deliver your sentence with great rapidity, you are cut off in
the middle of it by the impatient loquacity of those you converse with,
and never suffered to finish it!

The politeness of these savages in conversation is indeed carried to
excess, since it does not permit them to contradict or deny the truth of
what is asserted in their presence. By this means they indeed avoid
disputes, but then it becomes difficult to know their minds, or what
impression you make upon them. The missionaries who have attempted to
convert them to Christianity all complain of this as one of the great
difficulties of their mission. The Indians hear with patience the truths
of the gospel explained to them, and give their usual tokens of assent
and approbation: you would think they were convinced. No such matter. It
is mere civility.

A Swedish minister, having assembled the chiefs of the Susquehanna
Indians, made a sermon to them, acquainting them with the principal
historical facts on which our religion is founded; such as the fall of
our first parents by eating an apple; the coming of Christ to repair the
mischief; his miracles and sufferings, &c. When he had finished, an
Indian orator stood up to thank him. "What you have told us," says he,
"is all very good. We are much obliged by your kindness in coming so far
to tell us those things which you have heard from your mothers. In
return, I will tell you some of those we have heard from ours.

"In the beginning, our fathers had only the flesh of animals to subsist
on, and if their hunting was unsuccessful, they were starving. Two of
our young hunters, having killed a deer, made a fire in the woods to
broil some parts of it. When they were about to satisfy their hunger,
they beheld a beautiful young woman descend from the clouds, and seat
herself on that hill which you see yonder among the Blue Mountains. They
said to each other, it is a spirit that perhaps has smelt our broiling
venison, and wishes to eat of it: let us offer some to her. They
presented her with the tongue: she was pleased with the taste of it, and
said, Your kindness shall be rewarded; come to this place after thirteen
moons, and you shall find something that will be of great benefit in
nourishing you and your children to the latest generations. They did so,
and, to their surprise, found plants they had never seen before, but
which, from that ancient time, have been constantly cultivated among us,
to our great advantage. Where her right hand had touched the ground,
they found maize; where her left hand had touched it, they found
kidney-beans; and where she had sat on it, they found tobacco." The good
missionary, disgusted with this idle tale, said, "What I delivered to
you were sacred truths, but what you tell me is mere fable, fiction, and
falsehood." The Indian, offended, replied, "My brother, it seems your
friends have not done you justice in your education; they have not well
instructed you in the rules of common civility. You saw that we, who
understand and practise those rules, believed all your stories; why do
you refuse to believe ours?"

When any of them come into our towns, our people are apt to crowd around
them, gaze upon them, and incommode them where they desire to be
private; this they esteem great rudeness, and the effect of the want of
instruction in the rules of civility and good manners. "We have," say
they "as much curiosity as you; and when you come into our towns, we
wish for opportunities of looking at you; but for this purpose, we hide
ourselves behind bushes, where you are to pass, and never intrude
ourselves into your company."

Their manner of entering one another's villages has likewise its rules.
It is reckoned uncivil in travelling strangers to enter a village
abruptly, without giving notice of their approach. Therefore, as soon as
they arrive within hearing, they stop and halloo, remaining there till
invited to enter. Two old men usually come out to them and lead them in.
There is in every village a vacant dwelling called the strangers' house.
Here they are placed, while the old men go round from hut to hut,
acquainting the inhabitants that strangers are arrived, who are probably
hungry and weary; and every one sends them what he can spare of
victuals, and skins to repose on. When the strangers are refreshed,
pipes and tobacco are brought, and then, but not before, conversation
begins, with inquiries who they are, whither bound, what news, &c, and
it usually ends with offers of service if the strangers have occasion
for guides, or any necessaries for continuing their journey; and nothing
is exacted for the entertainment.

       *       *       *       *       *


Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: when this
support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved,
and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies
derive their strength and vigour from a popular examination into the
actions of the magistrates; this privilege, in all ages, has been, and
always will be, abused. The best of men could not escape the censure and
envy of the times they lived in. Yet this evil is not so great as it may
appear at first sight. A magistrate who sincerely aims at the good of
society will always have the inclinations of a great majority on his
side, and an impartial posterity will not fail to render him justice.

Those abuses of the freedom of speech are the exercises of liberty. They
ought to be repressed; but to whom dare we commit the care of doing it?
An evil magistrate, intrusted with power to _punish for words_, would be
armed with a weapon the most destructive and terrible. Under pretence of
pruning off the exuberant branches, he would be apt to destroy the tree.

It is certain that he who robs another of his moral reputation, more
richly merits a gibbet than if he had plundered him of his purse on the
highway. _Augustus Cæsar_, under the specious pretext of preserving the
character of the Romans from defamation, introduced the law whereby
libelling was involved in the penalties of treason against the state.
This law established his tyranny; and for one mischief which it
prevented, ten thousand evils, horrible and afflicting, sprung up in its
place. Thenceforward every person's life and fortune depended on the
vile breath of informers. The construction of words being arbitrary, and
left to the decision of the judges, no man could write or open his mouth
without being in danger of forfeiting his head.

One was put to death for inserting in his history the praises of Brutus.
Another for styling Cassius the last of the Romans. Caligula valued
himself for being a notable dancer; and to deny that he excelled in that
manly accomplishment was high treason. This emperor raised his horse,
the name of which was _Incitatus_, to the dignity of consul; and though
history is silent, I do not question but it was a capital crime to show
the least contempt for that high officer of state! Suppose, then, any
one had called the prime minister a _stupid animal_, the emperor's
council might argue that the malice of the libel was the more aggravated
by its being true, and, consequently, more likely to excite the _family
of this illustrious magistrate_ to a breach of the peace or to acts of
revenge. Such a prosecution would to us appear ridiculous; yet, if we
may rely upon tradition, there have been formerly proconsuls in America,
though of more malicious dispositions, hardly superior in understanding
to the consul _Incitatus_, and who would have thought themselves
libelled to be called by their _proper names_.

_Nero_ piqued himself on his fine voice and skill in music: no doubt a
laudable ambition! He performed in public, and carried the prize of
excellence. It was afterward resolved by all the judges as good law,
that whosoever would _insinuate_ the least doubt of Nero's pre-eminence
in the _noble art of fiddling_ ought to be deemed a traitor to the

By the help of inferences and innuendoes, treasons multiplied in a
prodigious manner. Grief was treason: a lady of noble birth was put to
death for bewailing the death of her _murdered son_: silence was
declared an _overt act_ to prove the treasonable purposes of the heart:
looks were construed into treason: a serene, open aspect was an evidence
that the person was pleased with the calamities that befel the emperor:
a severe, thoughtful countenance was urged against the man that wore it
as a proof of his plotting against the state: _dreams_ were often made
capital offences. A new species of informers went about Rome,
insinuating themselves into all companies to fish out their dreams,
which the priests (oh nefarious wickedness!) interpreted into high
treason. The Romans were so terrified by this strange method of
juridical and penal process, that, far from discovering their dreams,
they durst not own that they slept. In this terrible situation, when
every one had so much cause to fear, even _fear_ itself was made a
crime. Caligula, when he put his brother to death, gave it as a reason
to the Senate that the youth was afraid of being murdered. To be eminent
in any virtue, either civil or military, was the greatest crime a man
could be guilty of. _O virtutes certissemum exitium._[4]

     [4] Oh virtue! the most certain ruin.

These were some of the effects of the Roman law against libelling: those
of the British kings that aimed at despotic power or the oppression of
the subject, continually encouraged prosecutions for words.

Henry VII., a prince mighty in politics, procured that act to be passed
whereby the jurisdiction of the Star Chamber was confirmed and extended.
Afterward Empson and Dudley, two voracious dogs of prey, under the
protection of this high court, exercised the most merciless acts of
oppression. The subjects were terrified from uttering their griefs while
they saw the thunder of the Star Chamber pointed at their heads. This
caution, however, could not prevent several dangerous tumults and
insurrections; for when the tongues of the people are restrained, they
commonly discharge their resentments by a more dangerous organ, and
break out into open acts of violence.

During the reign of Henry VIII., a high-spirited monarch! every light
expression which happened to displease him was construed by his supple
judges into a libel, and sometimes extended to high treason. When Queen
Mary, of cruel memory, ascended the throne, the Parliament, in order to
raise a _fence_ against the violent prosecutions for words, which had
rendered the lives, liberties, and properties of all men precarious,
and, perhaps, dreading the furious persecuting spirit of this princess,
passed an act whereby it was declared, "That if a libeller doth go so
high as to libel against king or queen by denunciation, the judges shall
lay no greater fine on him than one hundred pounds, with two months'
imprisonment, and no corporeal punishment: neither was this sentence to
be passed on him except the accusation was fully proved by two
witnesses, who were to produce a certificate of their good demeanour for
the credit of their report."

This act was confirmed by another, in the seventh year of the reign of
Queen Elizabeth; only the penalties were heightened to two hundred
pounds and three months' imprisonment. Notwithstanding she rarely
punished invectives, though the malice of the papists was indefatigable
in blackening the brightest characters with the most impudent
falsehoods, she was often heard to applaud that rescript of
_Theodosius_. If any person spoke ill of the emperor through a foolish
rashness and inadvertence, it is to be despised; if out of madness, it
deserves pity; if from malice and aversion, it calls for mercy.

Her successor, King James I., was a prince of a quite different genius
and disposition; he used to say, that while he had the power of making
judges and bishops, _he could have what law and gospel he pleased_.
Accordingly, he filled those places with such as prostituted their
professions to his notions of prerogative. Among this number, and I hope
it is no discredit to the profession of the law, its great oracle, _Sir
Edward Coke_, appears. The Star Chamber, which in the time of Elizabeth
had gained a good repute, became an intolerable grievance in the reign
of this _learned monarch_.

But it did not arrive at its meridian altitude till Charles I. began to
wield the sceptre. As he had formed a design to lay aside parliaments
and subvert the popular part of the constitution, he very well knew
that the form of government could not be altered without laying a
restraint on freedom of speech and the liberty of the press: therefore
he issued his royal mandate, under the great seal of England, whereby he
commanded his subjects, under pain of his displeasure, not to prescribe
to him any time for parliaments. Lord Clarendon, upon this occasion, is
pleased to write, "That all men took themselves to be prohibited, under
the penalty of censure (the censure of the Star Chamber), which few men
cared to incur, so much as to speak of parliaments, or so much as to
mention that parliaments were again to be called."

The king's ministers, to let the nation see they were absolutely
determined to suppress all freedom of speech, caused a prosecution to be
carried on by the attorney general against three members of the House of
Commons, for words spoken in that house, Anno 1628. The members pleaded
to the information, that expressions in parliament ought only to be
examined and punished there. This notwithstanding, _they were all three
condemned as disturbers of the state_; one of these gentlemen, Sir John
Eliot, was fined two thousand pounds, and sentenced to lie in prison
till it was paid. His lady was denied admittance to him, even during his
sickness; consequently, his punishment comprehended an additional
sentence of divorce. This patriot, having endured many years
imprisonment, sunk under the oppression, and died in prison: this was
such a wound to the authority and rights of Parliament that, even after
the restoration, the judgment was revered by Parliament.

That Englishmen of all ranks might be effectually intimidated from
publishing their thoughts on any subject, except on the side of the
court, his majesty's ministers caused an information, for several
libels, to be exhibited in the Star Chamber against Messrs. _Prynn_,
_Burton_, and _Bastwick_. They were each of them fined five thousand
pounds, and adjudged to lose their ears on the pillory, to be branded on
the cheeks with hot irons, and to suffer perpetual imprisonment! Thus
these three gentlemen, each of worth and quality in their several
professions, viz., divinity, law, and physic, were, for no other offence
than writing on controverted points of church government, exposed on
public scaffolds, and stigmatized and mutilated as common signal rogues
or the most ordinary malefactors.

Such corporeal punishments, inflicted with all the circumstances of
cruelty and infamy, bound down all other gentlemen under a servile fear
of like treatment; so that, for several years, no one durst publicly
speak or write in defence of the liberties of the people; which the
king's ministers, his privy council, and his judges, had trampled under
their feet. The spirit of the administration looked hideous and
dreadful; the hate and resentment which the people conceived against it,
for a long time lay smothered in their breasts, where those passions
festered and grew venomous, and at last discharged themselves by an
armed and vindictive hand.

King Charles II. aimed at the subversion of the government, but
concealed his designs under a deep hypocrisy: a method which his
predecessor, in the beginning of his reign, scorned to make use of. The
father, who affected a high and rigid gravity, discountenanced all
barefaced immorality. The son, of a gay, luxurious disposition, openly
encouraged it: thus their inclinations being different, the restraint
laid on some authors, and the encouragement given to others, were
managed after a different manner.

In this reign a licenser was appointed for the stage and the press; no
plays were encouraged but what had a tendency to debase the minds of the
people. The original design of comedy was perverted; it appeared in all
the shocking circumstances of immodest _double entendre_, obscure
description, and lewd representation. Religion was sneered out of
countenance, and public spirit ridiculed as an awkward oldfashioned
virtue; the fine gentleman of the comedy, though embroidered over with
wit, was a consummate debauchee; and a fine lady, though set off with a
brilliant imagination, was an impudent coquette. Satire, which in the
hands of _Horace_, _Juvenal_, and _Boileau_, was pointed with a generous
resentment against vice, now became the declared foe of virtue and
innocence. As the city of London, in all ages, as well as the time we
are now speaking of, was remarkable for its opposition to arbitrary
power, the poets levelled all their artillery against the metropolis, in
order to bring the citizens into contempt: an alderman was never
introduced on the theatre but under the complicated character of a
sneaking, canting hypocrite, a miser, and a cuckold; while the
court-wits, with impunity, libelled the most valuable part of the
nation. Other writers, of a different stamp, with great learning and
gravity, endeavoured to prove to the English people that slavery was
_jure divino_.[5] Thus the stage and the press, under the direction of a
licenser, became battering engines against religion, virtue, and
liberty. Those who had courage enough to write in their defence, were
stigmatized as schismatics, and punished as disturbers of the

     [5] By divine right.

But when the embargo on wit was taken off, _Sir Richard Steel_ and _Mr.
Addison_ soon rescued the stage from the load of impurity it laboured
under with an inimitable address, they strongly recommended to our
imitation the most amiable, rational manly characters; and this with so
much success that I cannot suppose there is any reader to-day conversant
in the writings of those gentlemen, that can taste with any tolerable
relish the comedies of the once admired _Shadwell_. Vice was obliged to
retire and give place to virtue: this will always be the consequence
when truth has fair play: falsehood only dreads the attack, and cries
out for auxiliaries: the truth never fears the encounter: she scorns the
aid of the secular arm, and triumphs by her natural strength.

But, to resume the description of the reign of Charles II., the doctrine
of servitude was chiefly managed by _Sir Roger Lestrange_. He had great
advantages in the argument, being licenser for the press, and might have
carried all before him without contradiction, if writings on the other
side of the question had not been printed by stealth. The authors,
whenever found, were prosecuted as seditious libellers; on all these
occasions the king's counsel, particularly _Sawyer_ and _Finch_,
appeared most obsequious to accomplish the ends of the court.

During this _blessed_ management, the king had entered into a secret
league with France to render himself absolute and enslave his subjects.
This fact was discovered to the world by Dr. _Jonathan Swift_, to whom
_Sir William Temple_ had intrusted the publication of his works.

_Sidney_, the sworn foe of tyranny, was a gentleman of noble family, of
sublime understanding and exalted courage. The ministry were resolved to
remove so great an obstacle out of the way of their designs. He was
prosecuted for high treason. The overt act charged in the indictment was
a libel found in his private study. Mr. Finch, the king's own
solicitor-general, urged with great vehemence to this effect, "that the
_imagining_ the death of the king is _treason_, even while that
imagination remains concealed in the mind, though the law cannot punish
such secret treasonable thoughts till it arrives at the knowledge of
them by some overt act. That the matter of the libel composed by Sidney
was an _imagining how to compass the death of King Charles II._; and
the writing of it was an overt act of treason, for that to write was to
act. (_Scribere est agere._)" It seems that the king's counsel in this
reign had not received the same directions as Queen Elizabeth had given
hers; she told them they were to look upon themselves as not retained so
much (_pro domina regina_, as _pro domina veritate_) for the power of
the queen as for the power of truth.

Mr. Sidney made a strong and legal defence. He insisted that all the
words in the book contained no more than general speculations on the
principles of government, free for any man to write down; especially
since the same are written in the parliament rolls and in the statute

He argued on the injustice of applying by innuendoes, general assertions
concerning principles of government, as overt acts to prove the writer
was compassing the death of the king; for then no man could write of
things done even by our ancestors, in defence of the constitution and
freedom of England, without exposing himself to capital danger.

He denied that _scribere est agere_, but allowed that writing and
publishing is to act (_Scribere et publicare est agere_), and therefore
he urged that, as his book had never been published nor imparted to any
person, it could not be an overt act, within the statutes of treasons,
even admitting that it contained treasonable positions; that, on the
contrary, it was a _covert fact_, locked up in his private study, as
much concealed from the knowledge of any man as if it were locked up in
the author's mind. This was the substance of Mr. Sidney's defence: but
neither law, nor reason, nor eloquence, nor innocence ever availed where
_Jefferies_ sat as judge. Without troubling himself with any part of the
defence, he declared in a rage, that Sidney's _known principles_ were a
_sufficient_ proof of his intention to compass the death of the king.

A packed jury therefore found him guilty of high treason: great
applications were made for his pardon. He was executed as a traitor.

This case is a pregnant instance of the danger that attends a law for
punishing words, and of the little security the most valuable men have
for their lives, in that society where a judge, by remote inferences and
distant innuendoes, may construe the most innocent expressions into
capital crimes. _Sidney_, the British _Brutus_, the warm, the steady
friend of _liberty_; who, from an intrinsic love to mankind, left them
that invaluable legacy, his immortal discourses on government, was for
these very discourses murdered by the hands of lawless power. * * * *

Upon the whole, to suppress inquiries into the administration is good
policy in an arbitrary government; but a free constitution and freedom
of speech have such reciprocal dependance on each other, that they
cannot subsist without consisting together.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extracts of a letter, signed Columella, and addressed to
the editors of the British Repository for select Papers on Agriculture,
Arts, and Manufactures (see vol. i.), will prepare those who read it for
the following paper:

"GENTLEMEN,--There is now publishing in France a periodical work, called
Ephemeridis du Citoyen,[6] in which several points, interesting to those
concerned in agriculture, are from time to time discussed by some able
hands. In looking over one of the volumes of this work a few days ago, I
found a little piece written by one of our countrymen, and which our
vigilant neighbours had taken from the London Chronicle in 1766. The
author is a gentleman well known to every man of letters in Europe, and
perhaps there is none in this age to whom mankind in general are more

     [6] Citizen's Journal.

"That this piece may not be lost to our own country, I beg you will give
it a place in your Repository: it was written in favour of the farmers,
when they suffered so much abuse in our public papers, and were also
plundered by the mob in many places."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Messieurs the Public._


I am one of that class of people that feeds you all, and at present
abused by you all; in short, I am a _farmer_.

By your newspapers we are told that God had sent a very short harvest to
some other countries of Europe. I thought this might be in favour of Old
England, and that now we should get a good price for our grain, which
would bring millions among us, and make us flow in money: that, to be
sure, is scarce enough.

But the wisdom of government forbade the exportation.

Well, says I, then we must be content with the market price at home.

No, say my lords the mob, you sha'n't have that. Bring your corn to
market if you dare; we'll sell it for you for less money, or take it for

Being thus attacked by both ends _of the constitution_, the head and
tail _of government_, what am I to do?

Must I keep my corn in the barn, to feed and increase the breed of rats?
Be it so; they cannot be less thankful than those I have been used to

Are we farmers the only people to be grudged the profits of our honest
labour? And why? One of the late scribblers against us gives a bill of
fare of the provisions at my daughter's wedding, and proclaims to all
the world that we had the insolence to eat beef and pudding! Has he not
read the precept in the good book, _thou shall not muzzle the mouth of
the ox that treadeth out the corn_; or does he think us less worthy of
good living than our oxen?

Oh, but the manufacturers! the manufacturers! they are to be favoured,
and they must have bread at a cheap rate!

Hark ye, Mr. Oaf: The farmers live splendidly, you say. And, pray, would
you have them hoard the money they get? Their fine clothes and
furniture, do they make themselves or for one another, and so keep the
money among them? Or do they employ these your darling manufacturers,
and so scatter it again all over the nation?

The wool would produce me a better price if it were suffered to go to
foreign markets; but that, Messieurs the Public, your laws will not
permit. It must be kept all at home, that our _dear_ manufacturers may
have it the cheaper. And then, having yourselves thus lessened our
encouragement for raising sheep, you curse us for the scarcity of

I have heard my grandfather say, that the farmers submitted to the
prohibition on the exportation of wool, being made to expect and believe
that, when the manufacturer bought his wool cheaper, they should also
have their cloth cheaper. But the deuse a bit. It has been growing
dearer and dearer from that day to this. How so? Why, truly, the cloth
is exported: and that keeps up the price.

Now if it be a good principle that the exportation of a commodity is to
be restrained, that so our people at home may have it the cheaper, stick
to that principle, and go thorough stitch with it. Prohibit the
exportation of your cloth, your leather and shoes, your ironware, and
your manufactures of all sorts, to make them all cheaper at home. And
cheap enough they will be, I will warrant you, till people leave off
making them.

Some folks seem to think they ought never to be easy till England
becomes another Lubberland, where it is fancied the streets are paved
with penny-rolls, the houses tiled with pancakes, and chickens, ready
roasted, cry, Come eat me.

I say, when you are sure you have got a good principle, stick to it and
carry it through. I hear it is said, that though it was _necessary and
right_ for the ministry to advise a prohibition of the exportation of
corn, yet it was _contrary to law_; and also, that though it was
_contrary to law_ for the mob to obstruct wagons, yet it was _necessary
and right_. Just the same thing to a tittle. Now they tell me an act of
indemnity ought to pass in favour of the ministry, to secure them from
the consequences of having acted illegally. If so, pass another in
favour of the mob. Others say, some of the mob ought to be hanged, by
way of example. If so--but to say no more than I have said before, _when
you are sure that you have a good principle, go through with it_.

You say poor labourers cannot afford to buy bread at a high price,
unless they had higher wages. Possibly. But how shall we farmers be able
to afford our labourers higher wages, if you will not allow us to get,
when we might have it, a higher price for our corn?

By all that I can learn, we should at least have had a guinea a quarter
more if the exportation had been allowed. And this money England would
have got from foreigners.

But, it seems, we farmers must take so much less that the poor may have
it so much cheaper.

This operates, then, as a tax for the maintenance of the poor. A very
good thing, you will say. But I ask, why a partial tax? why laid on us
farmers only? If it be a good thing, pray, Messieurs the Public, take
your share of it, by indemnifying us a little out of your public
treasury. In doing a good thing there is both honour and pleasure; you
are welcome to your share of both.

For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this
thing. I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about
the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making
them easy _in_ poverty, but leading or driving them _out_ of it. In my
youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries that the
more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided
for themselves, and, of course, became poorer. And, on the contrary, the
less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became
richer. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are
established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are
sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many
almshouses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general
law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the
support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest,
humble, and thankful? And do they use their best endeavours to maintain
themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burden! On the contrary, I
affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more
idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.[7] The day you passed that act
you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to
industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependance on
somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for
support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the
encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had
its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal this law, and you will
soon see a change in their manners; _Saint Monday_ and _Saint Tuesday_
will soon cease to be holydays. Six _days shalt thou labour_, though one
of the old commandments, long treated as out of date, will again be
looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with
it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and
more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for
themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.

     [7] England in 1766

Excuse me, Messieurs the Public, if upon this _interesting_ subject I
put you to the trouble of reading a little of _my_ nonsense; I am sure I
have lately read a great deal of _yours_, and therefore, from you (at
least from those of you who are writers) I deserve a little indulgence.
I am yours, &c.


       *       *       *       *       *



My wish is to give you some account of the people of these new states;
but I am far from being qualified for the purpose, having as yet seen
but little more than the cities of New-York and Philadelphia. I have
discovered but few national singularities among them. Their customs and
manners are nearly the same with those of England, which they have long
been used to copy. For, previous to the revolution, the Americans were
from their infancy taught to look up to the English as patterns of
perfection in all things. I have observed, however, one custom, which,
for aught I know, is peculiar to this country. An account of it will
serve to fill up the remainder of this sheet, and may afford you some

When a young couple are about to enter into the matrimonial state, a
never-failing article in the marriage treaty is, that the lady shall
have and enjoy the free and unmolested exercise of the rights of
_whitewashing_, with all its ceremonials, privileges, and appurtenances.
A young woman would forego the most advantageous connexion, and even
disappoint the warmest wish of her heart, rather than resign the
invaluable right. You would wonder what this privilege of _whitewashing_
is: I will endeavour to give you some idea of the ceremony, as I have
seen it performed.

There is no season of the year in which the lady may not claim her
privilege, if she pleases; but the latter end of May is most generally
fixed upon for the purpose. The attentive husband may judge by certain
prognostics when the storm is nigh at hand. When the lady is unusually
fretful, finds fault with the servants, is discontented with the
children, and complains much of the filthiness of everything about her,
these are signs which ought not to be neglected; yet they are not
decisive, as they sometimes come on and go off again without producing
any farther effect. But if, when the husband rises in the morning, he
should observe in the yard a wheelbarrow with a quantity of lime in it,
or should see certain buckets with lime dissolved in water, there is
then no time to be lost; he immediately locks up the apartment or closet
where his papers or his private property is kept, and, putting the key
in his pocket, betakes himself to flight, for a husband, however
beloved, becomes a perfect nuisance during the season of female rage;
his authority is superseded, his commission is suspended, and the very
scullion who cleans the brasses in the kitchen becomes of more
consideration and importance than him. He has nothing for it but to
abdicate, and run from an evil which he can neither prevent nor mollify.

The husband gone, the ceremony begins. The walls are in a few minutes
stripped of their furniture: paintings, prints, and looking-glasses lie
in a huddled heap about the floors; the curtains are torn from the
testers, the beds crammed into the windows; chairs and tables, bedsteads
and cradles, crowd the yard; and the garden fence bends beneath the
weight of carpets, blankets, cloth cloaks, old coats, and ragged
breeches. _Here_ may be seen the lumber of the kitchen, forming a dark
and confused mass: for the foreground of the picture, grid irons and
frying-pans, rusty shovels and broken tongs, spits and pots,
joint-stools, and the fractured remains of rush-bottomed chairs. _There_
a closet has disgorged its bowels, cracked tumblers, broken wineglasses,
vials of forgotten physic, papers of unknown powders, seeds, and dried
herbs, handfuls of old corks, tops of teapots, and stoppers of departed
decanters; from the raghole in the garret to the rathole in the cellar,
no place escapes unrummaged. It would seem as if the day of general doom
was come, and the utensils of the house were dragged forth to judgment.
In this tempest the words of Lear naturally present themselves, and
might, with some alteration, be made strictly applicable:

                        "Let the great gods,
    That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
    That hast within thee undivulged crimes
    Unwhipp'd of justice!

                        "Close pent-up guilt,
    Raise your concealing continents, and ask
    These dreadful summoners grace!"

This ceremony completed and the house thoroughly evacuated, the next
operation is to smear the walls and ceilings of every room and closet
with brushes dipped in a solution of lime, called _white wash_; to pour
buckets of water over every floor, and scratch all the partitions and
wainscots with rough brushes wet with soapsuds and dipped in
stonecutter's sand. The windows by no means escape the general deluge. A
servant scrambles out upon the penthouse, at the risk of her neck, and
with a mug in her hand and a bucket within reach, she dashes away
innumerable gallons of water against the glass panes, to the great
annoyance of the passengers in the street.

I have been told that an action at law was once brought against one of
these water nymphs, by a person who had a new suit of clothes spoiled by
this operation; but, after long argument, it was determined by the whole
court that the action would not lie, inasmuch as the defendant was in
the exercise of a legal right, and not answerable for the consequences:
and so the poor gentleman was doubly nonsuited, for he lost not only his
suit of clothes, but his suit at law.

These smearings and scratchings, washings and dashings, being duly
performed, the next ceremonial is to cleanse and replace the distracted
furniture. You may have seen a house-raising or a ship-launch, when all
the hands within reach are collected together: recollect, if you can,
the hurry, bustle, confusion, and noise of such a scene, and you will
have some idea of this cleaning match. The misfortune is, that the sole
object is to make things clean; it matters not how many useful,
ornamental, or valuable articles are mutilated or suffer death under the
operation; a mahogany chair and carved frame undergo the same
discipline; they are to be made _clean_ at all events, but their
preservation is not worthy of attention. For instance, a fine large
engraving is laid flat on the floor, smaller prints are piled upon it,
and the superincumbent weight cracks the glasses of the lower tier: but
this is of no consequence. A valuable picture is placed leaning against
the sharp corner of a table, others are made to lean against that, until
the pressure of the whole forces the corner of the table through the
canvass of the first. The frame and glass of a fine print are to be
_cleaned_; the spirit and oil used on this occasion are suffered to leak
through and spoil the engraving; no matter, if the glass is clean and
the frame shine, it is sufficient; the rest is not worthy of
consideration. An able arithmetician has made an accurate calculation,
founded on long experience, and has discovered that the losses and
destructions incident to two whitewashings are equal to one removal, and
three removals equal to one fire.

The cleaning frolic over, matters begin to resume their pristine
appearance. The storm abates, and all would be well again; but it is
impossible that so great a convulsion in so small a community should not
produce some farther effects. For two or three weeks after the
operation, the family are usually afflicted with sore throats or sore
eyes, occasioned by the caustic quality of the lime, or with severe
colds from the exhalations of wet floors or damp walls.

I know a gentleman who was fond of accounting for everything in a
philosophical way. He considers this, which I have called a custom, as a
real periodical disease, peculiar to the climate. His train of reasoning
is ingenious and whimsical, but I am not at leisure to give you a
detail. The result was, that he found the distemper to be incurable;
but, after much study, he conceived he had discovered a method to divert
the evil he could not subdue. For this purpose he caused a small
building, about twelve feet square, to be erected in his garden, and
furnished with some ordinary chairs and tables, and a few prints of the
cheapest sort were hung against the walls. His hope was, that when the
whitewashing phrensy seized the females of his family, they might repair
to this apartment, and scrub, and smear, and scour to their heart's
content, and so spend the violence of the disease in this outpost, while
he enjoyed himself in quiet at headquarters. But the experiment did not
answer his expectation; it was impossible it should, since a principal
part of the gratification consists in the lady's having an uncontrolled
right to torment her husband at least once a year, and to turn him out
of doors, and take the reins of government into her own hands.

There is a much better contrivance than this of the philosopher, which
is, to cover the walls of the house with paper; this is generally done,
and though it cannot abolish, it at least shortens the period of female
dominion. The paper is decorated with flowers of various fancies, and
made so ornamental, that the women have admitted the fashion without
perceiving the design.

There is also another alleviation of the husband's distress; he
generally has the privilege of a small room or closet for his books and
papers, the key of which he is allowed to keep. This is considered as a
privileged place, and stands like the land of Goshen amid the plagues of
Egypt. But then he must be extremely cautious, and ever on his guard.
For should he inadvertently go abroad and leave the key in his door, the
housemaid, who is always on the watch for such an opportunity,
immediately enters in triumph with buckets, brooms, and brushes; takes
possession of the premises, and forthwith puts all his books and papers
_to rights_, to his utter confusion and sometimes serious detriment. For

A gentleman was sued by the executors of a tradesman, on a charge found
against him in the deceased's books to the amount of £30. The defendant
was strongly impressed with an idea that he had discharged the debt and
taken a receipt; but, as the transaction was of long standing, he knew
not where to find the receipt. The suit went on in course, and the time
approached when judgment would be obtained against him. He then sat
seriously down to examine a large bundle of old papers, which he had
untied and displayed on a table for that purpose. In the midst of his
search he was suddenly called away on business of importance; he forgot
to lock the door of his room. The housemaid, who had been long looking
out for such an opportunity, immediately entered with the usual
implements, and with great alacrity fell to cleaning the room and
putting things to _rights_. The first object that struck her eye was the
confused situation of the papers on the table; these were, without
delay, bundled together like so many dirty knives and forks; but, in the
action, a small piece of paper fell unnoticed on the floor, which
happened to be the very receipt in question: as it had no very
respectable appearance it was soon after swept out with the common dirt
of the room, and carried in a rubbish-pan into the yard. The tradesman
had neglected to enter the credit in his book; the defendant could find
nothing to obviate the charge, and so judgment went against him for the
debt and costs. A fortnight after the whole was settled and the money
paid, one of the children found the receipt among the rubbish in the

There is also another custom peculiar to the city of Philadelphia, and
nearly allied to the former. I mean that of washing the pavement before
the doors every Saturday evening. I at first took this to be a
regulation of the police, but, on a farther inquiry, find it is a
religious rite preparatory to the Sabbath, and is, I believe, the only
religious rite in which the numerous sectaries of this city perfectly
agree. The ceremony begins about sunset, and continues till about ten or
eleven at night. It is very difficult for a stranger to walk the streets
on those evenings; he runs a continual risk of having a bucket of dirty
water thrown against his legs; but a Philadelphian born is so much
accustomed to the danger that he avoids it with surprising dexterity. It
is from this circumstance that a Philadelphian may be known anywhere by
his gait. The streets of New-York are paved with rough stones; these,
indeed, are not washed, but the dirt is so thoroughly swept from before
the doors that the stones stand up sharp and prominent, to the great
inconvenience of those who are not accustomed to so rough a path. But
habit reconciles everything. It is diverting enough to see a
Philadelphian at New-York; he walks the streets with as much painful
caution as if his toes were covered with corns, or his feet lamed with
the gout: while a New-Yorker, as little approving the plain masonry of
Philadelphia, shuffles along the pavement like a parrot on a mahogany

It must be acknowledged that the ablutions I have mentioned are attended
with no small inconvenience; but the women would not be induced, from
any consideration, to resign their privilege. Notwithstanding this, I
can give you the strongest assurances that the women of America make the
most faithful wives and the most attentive mothers in the world; and I
am sure you will join me in opinion, that if a married man is made
miserable only _one_ week in a whole year, he will have no great cause
to complain of the matrimonial bond.

                                   I am, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Letter to Benjamin Vaughan, Esq._

                                             March 14, 1785.


Among the pamphlets you lately sent me was one entitled _Thoughts on
Executive Justice_. In return for that, I send you a French one on the
same subject, _Observations concernant l'Exécution de l'Article II. de
la Déclaration sur le Vol_. They are both addressed to the judges, but
written, as you will see, in a very different spirit. The English author
is for hanging _all_ thieves. The Frenchman is for proportioning
punishments to offences.

If we really believe, as we profess to believe, that the law of Moses
was the law of God, the dictate of Divine wisdom, infinitely superior to
human, on what principle do we ordain death as the punishment of an
offence which, according to that law, was only to be punished by a
restitution of fourfold? To put a man to death for an offence which does
not deserve death, is it not a murder? And as the French writer says,
_Doit-on punir un délit contre la société par un crime contre la

     [8] Ought we to punish a crime against society by a crime against

Superfluous property is the creature of society. Simple and mild laws
were sufficient to guard the property that was merely necessary. The
savage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently
secured, without law, by the fear of personal resentment and
retaliation. When, by virtue of the first laws, part of the society
accumulated wealth and grew powerful, they enacted others more severe,
and would protect their property at the expense of humanity. This was
abusing their power and commencing a tyranny. If a savage, before he
entered into society, had been told, "Your neighbour, by this means, may
become owner of a hundred deer; but if your brother, or your son, or
yourself, having no deer of your own, and being hungry, should kill one,
an infamous death must be the consequence," he would probably have
preferred his liberty, and his common right of killing any deer, to all
the advantages of society that might be proposed to him.

That it is better a hundred guilty persons should escape than that one
innocent person should suffer, is a maxim that has been long and
generally approved; never, that I know of, controverted. Even the
sanguinary author of the _Thoughts_ agrees to it, adding well, "that the
very thought of _injured_ innocence, and much more that of _suffering_
innocence, must awaken all our tenderest and most compassionate
feelings, and, at the same time, raise our highest indignation against
the instruments of it. But," he adds, "there is no danger of _either_
from a strict adherence to the laws." Really! is it then impossible to
make an unjust law? and if the law itself be unjust, may it not be the
very "instrument" which ought "to raise the author's and everybody's
highest indignation?" I see in the last newspapers from London that a
woman is capitally convicted at the Old Bailey for privately stealing
out of a shop some gauze, value fourteen shillings and threepence. Is
there any proportion between the injury done by a theft, value fourteen
shillings and threepence, and the punishment of a human creature, by
death, on a gibbet? Might not that woman, by her labour, have made the
reparation ordained by God in paying fourfold? Is not all punishment
inflicted beyond the merit of the offence, so much punishment of
innocence? In this light, how vast is the annual quantity of not only
_injured_, but _suffering_ innocence, in almost all the civilized states
of Europe!

But it seems to have been thought that this kind of innocence may be
punished by way of _preventing crimes_. I have read, indeed, of a cruel
Turk in Barbary, who, whenever he bought a new Christian slave, ordered
him immediately to be hung up by the legs, and to receive a hundred
blows of a cudgel on the soles of his feet, that the severe sense of
punishment and fear of incurring it thereafter might prevent the faults
that should merit it. Our author himself would hardly approve entirely
of this Turk's conduct in the government of slaves; and yet he appears
to recommend something like it for the government of English subjects,
when he applauds the reply of Judge Burnet to the convict horsestealer;
who, being asked what he had to say why judgment of death should not
pass against him, and answering that it was hard to hang a man for
_only_ stealing a horse, was told by the judge, "Man, thou art not to be
hanged _only_ for stealing a horse, but that horses may not be stolen."
The man's answer, if candidly examined, will, I imagine, appear
reasonable, as being founded on the eternal principle of justice and
equity, that punishments should be proportioned to offences; and the
judge's reply brutal and unreasonable, though the writer "wishes all
judges to carry it with them whenever they go the circuit, and to bear
it in their minds, as containing a wise reason for all the penal
statutes which they are called upon to put in execution. It at once
illustrates," says he, "the true grounds and reasons of all capital
punishments whatsoever, namely, that every man's property, as well as
his life, may be held sacred and inviolate." Is there, then, no
difference in value between property and life? If I think it right that
the crime of murder should be punished with death, not only as an equal
punishment of the crime, but to prevent other murders, does it follow
that I must approve of inflicting the same punishment for a little
invasion on my property by theft? If I am not myself so barbarous, so
bloody-minded and revengeful, as to kill a fellow-creature for stealing
from me fourteen shillings and threepence, how can I approve of a law
that does it? Montesquieu, who was himself a judge, endeavours to
impress other maxims. He must have known what humane judges feel on such
occasions, and what the effects of those feelings; and, so far from
thinking that severe and excessive punishments prevent crimes, he
asserts, as quoted by our French writer, that

"L'atrocité des loix en empêche l'exécution.

"Lorsque la peine est sans mesure, on est souvent obligé de lui préférer

"La cause de tous les relâchemens vient de l'impunité des crimes, et non
de la modération des peines."[9]

     [9] The extreme severity of the laws prevents their execution.
     Where the punishment is excessive, it is frequently necessary to
     prefer impunity.

     It is the exemption from punishment, and not its moderation which
     is the cause of crime.

It is said by those who know Europe generally that there are more thefts
committed and punished annually in England than in all the other nations
put together. If this be so, there must be a cause or causes for such
depravity in our common people. May not one be the deficiency of justice
and morality in our national government, manifested in our oppressive
conduct to subjects, and unjust wars on our neighbours? View the
long-persisted-in, unjust, monopolizing treatment of Ireland, at length
acknowledged! View the plundering government exercised by our merchants
in the Indies; the confiscating war made upon the American colonies;
and, to say nothing of those upon France and Spain, view the late war
upon Holland, which was seen by impartial Europe in no other light than
that of a war of rapine and pillage; the hopes of an immense and easy
prey being its only apparent, and probably its true and real motive and
encouragement. Justice is as strictly due between neighbour nations as
between neighbour citizens. A highwayman is as much a robber when he
plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war
is only a great gang. After employing your people in robbing the Dutch,
it is strange that, being put out of that employ by peace, they still
continue robbing, and rob one another? _Piraterie_, as the French call
it, or privateering, is the universal bent of the English nation, at
home and abroad, wherever settled. No less than seven hundred privateers
were, it is said, commissioned in the last war! These were fitted out by
merchants, to prey upon other merchants who had never done them any
injury. Is there probably any one of those privateering merchants of
London, who were so ready to rob the merchants of Amsterdam, that would
not as easily plunder another London merchant of the next street, if he
could do it with the same impunity? The avidity, the _alieni
appetens_[10] is the same; it is the fear of the gallows that makes the
difference. How, then, can a nation, which among the honestest of its
people has so many thieves by inclination, and whose government
encouraged and commissioned no less than seven hundred gangs of robbers;
how can such a nation have the face to condemn the crime in individuals,
and hang up twenty of them in a morning! It naturally puts one in mind
of a Newgate anecdote. One of the prisoners complained that in the night
somebody had taken his buckles out of his shoes. "What the devil!" says
another, "have we then _thieves_ among us? It must not be suffered. Let
us search out the rogue and pump him to death."

     [10] Coveting what is the property of another.

There is, however, one late instance of an English merchant who will not
profit by such ill-gotten gain. He was, it seems, part owner of a ship,
which the other owners thought fit to employ as a letter of marque,
which took a number of French prizes. The booty being shared, he has now
an agent here inquiring, by an advertisement in the Gazette, for those
who have suffered the loss, in order to make them, as far as in him
lies, restitution. This conscientious man is a Quaker. The Scotch
Presbyterians were formerly as tender; for there is still extant an
ordinance of the town-council of Edinburgh, made soon after the
Reformation, "forbidding the purchase of prize goods, under pain of
losing the freedom of the burgh for ever, with other punishment at the
will of the magistrate; the practice of making prizes being contrary to
good conscience, and the rule of treating Christian brethren as we would
wish to be treated; and such goods _are not to be sold by any Godly man
within this burgh_." The race of these Godly men in Scotland are
probably extinct, or their principles abandoned, since, as far as that
nation had a hand in promoting the war against the colonies, prizes and
confiscations are believed to have been a considerable motive.

It has been for some time a generally received opinion, that a military
man is not to inquire whether a war be just or unjust; he is to execute
his orders. All princes who are disposed to become tyrants must probably
approve of this opinion, and be willing to establish it; but is it not a
dangerous one? since, on that principle, if the tyrant commands his army
to attack and destroy not only an unoffending neighbour nation, but even
his own subjects, the army is bound to obey. A negro slave in our
colonies, being commanded by his master to rob and murder a neighbour,
or do any other immoral act, may refuse, and the magistrate will protect
him in his refusal. The slavery, then, of a soldier is worse than that
of a negro! A conscientious officer, if not restrained by the
apprehension of its being imputed to another cause, may indeed resign
rather than be employed in an unjust war; but the private men are slaves
for life; and they are, perhaps, incapable of judging for themselves. We
can only lament their fate, and still more that of a sailor, who is
often dragged by force from his honest occupation, and compelled to
imbrue his hands in perhaps innocent blood. But methinks it well
behooves merchants (men more enlightened by their education, and
perfectly free from any such force or obligation) to consider well of
the justice of a war, before they voluntarily engage a gang of ruffians
to attack their fellow-merchants of a neighbouring nation, to plunder
them of their property, and perhaps ruin them and their families if they
yield it, or to wound, maim, and murder them, if they endeavour to
defend it. Yet these things are done by Christian merchants, whether a
war be just or unjust; and it can hardly be just on both sides. They are
done by English and American merchants, who nevertheless complain of
private theft, and hang by dozens the thieves they have taught by their
own example.

It is high time, for the sake of humanity, that a stop were put to this
enormity. The United States of America, though better situated than any
European nation to make profit by privateering (most of the trade of
Europe with the West Indies passing before their doors), are, as far as
in them lies, endeavouring to abolish the practice, by offering, in all
their treaties with other powers, an article, engaging solemnly that, in
case of future war, no privateer shall be commissioned on either side;
and that unarmed merchant ships on both sides shall pursue their
voyages unmolested.[11] This will be a happy improvement of the law of
nations. The humane and the just cannot but wish general success to the

     [11] This offer having been accepted by the late king of Prussia, a
     treaty of amity and commerce was concluded between that monarch and
     the United States, containing the following humane, philanthropic
     article, in the formation of which Dr. Franklin, as one of the
     American plenipotentiaries, was principally concerned, viz.,

     "ART. XXIII. If war should arise between the two contracting
     parties, the merchants of either country then residing in the other
     shall be allowed to remain nine months to collect their debts and
     settle their affairs, and may depart freely, carrying off all their
     effects without molestation or hinderance; and all women and
     children, scholars of every faculty, cultivators of the earth,
     artisans, manufacturers, and fishermen, unarmed and inhabiting
     unfortified towns, villages, and places, and, in general, all
     others whose occupations are for the common subsistence and benefit
     of mankind, shall be allowed to continue their respective
     employments, and shall not be molested in their persons, nor shall
     their houses or goods be burned or otherwise destroyed, nor their
     fields wasted by the armed force of the enemy into whose power, by
     the events of war, they may happen to fall; but if anything is
     necessary to be taken from them for the use of such armed force,
     the same shall be paid for at a reasonable price. And all merchant
     and trading vessels employed in exchanging the products of
     different places, and thereby rendering the necessaries,
     conveniences, and comforts of human life more easy to be obtained,
     and more general, shall be allowed to pass free and unmolested; and
     neither of the contracting powers shall grant or issue any
     commission to any private armed vessels, empowering them to take or
     destroy such trading vessels or interrupt such commerce."

With unchangeable esteem and affection,

                                   I am, my dear friend,
                                              Ever yours.

       *       *       *       *       *



I am an honest tradesman, who never meant harm to anybody. My affairs
went on smoothly while a bachelor; but of late I have met with some
difficulties, of which I take the freedom to give you an account.

About the time I first addressed my present spouse, her father gave out
in speeches that, if she married a man he liked, he would give with her
two hundred pounds in cash on the day of marriage. He never said so much
to me, it is true; but he always received me very kindly at his house,
and openly countenanced my courtship. I formed several fine schemes what
to do with this same two hundred pounds, and in some measure neglected
my business on that account; but, unluckily, it came to pass, that, when
the old gentleman saw I was pretty well engaged, and that the match was
too far gone to be easily broke off, he, without any reason given, grew
very angry, forbid me the house, and told his daughter that if she
married me he would not give her a farthing. However (as he thought), we
were not to be disappointed in that manner, but, having stole a wedding,
I took her home to my house, where we were not quite in so poor a
condition as the couple described in the Scotch song, who had

    "Neither pot nor pan,
    But four bare legs together,"

for I had a house tolerably well furnished for a poor man before. No
thanks to Dad, who, I understand, was very much pleased with his politic
management; and I have since learned that there are other old
curmudgeons (so called) besides him, who have this trick to marry their
daughters, and yet keep what they might well spare till they can keep it
no longer. But this by way of digression; a word to the wise is enough.

I soon saw that with care and industry we might live tolerably easy and
in credit with our neighbours; but my wife had a strong inclination to
be a gentlewoman. In consequence of this, my oldfashioned looking-glass
was one day broke, as she said, _no one could tell which way_. However,
since we could not be without a glass in the room, "My dear," saith she,
"we may as well buy a large fashionable one, that Mr. Such-a-one has to
sell. It will cost but little more than a common glass, and will look
much handsomer and more creditable." Accordingly, the glass was bought
and hung against the wall; but in a week's time I was made sensible, by
little and little, that _the table was by no means suitable to such a
glass_; and, a more proper table being procured, some time after, my
spouse, who was an excellent contriver, informed me where we might have
very handsome chairs _in the way_; and thus, by degrees, I found all my
old furniture stowed up in the garret, and everything below altered for
the better.

Had we stopped here, it might have done well enough. But my wife being
entertained with tea by the good woman she visited, we could do no less
than the like when they visited us; so we got a teatable, with all its
appurtenances of China and silver. Then my spouse unfortunately
overworked herself in washing the house, so that we could do no longer
without a maid. Besides this, it happened frequently that when I came
home at one, the dinner was but just put in the pot, and _my dear
thought really it had been but eleven_. At other times, when I came at
the same hour, _she wondered I would stay so long, for dinner was ready
about one, and had waited for me these two hours_. These irregularities,
occasioned by mistaking the time, convinced me that it was absolutely
necessary _to buy a clock_, which my spouse observed was _a great
ornament to the room_. And lastly, to my grief, she was troubled with
some ailment or other, and _nothing did her so much good as riding, and
these hackney-horses were such wretched ugly creatures that_--I bought a
very fine pacing mare, which cost twenty pounds; and hereabouts affairs
have stood for about a twelvemonth past.

I could see all along that this did not at all suit with my
circumstances, but had not resolution enough to help it, till lately,
receiving a very severe dun, which mentioned the next court, I began in
earnest to project relief. Last Monday, my dear went over the river to
see a relation and stay a fortnight, because she could not bear the heat
of the town air. In the interim I have taken my turn to make
alterations; namely, I have turned away the maid, bag and baggage (for
what should we do with a maid, who, besides our boy, have none but
ourselves?) I have sold the pacing mare, and bought a good milch-cow
with three pounds of the money. I have disposed of the table, and put a
good spinning-wheel in its place, which, methinks, looks very pretty;
nine empty canisters I have stuffed with flax, and with some of the
money of the tea-furniture I have bought a set of knitting-needles, for,
to tell you the truth, _I begin to want stockings_. The fine clock I
have transformed into an hourglass, by which I have gained a good round
sum; and one of the pieces of the old looking-glass, squared and framed,
supplies the place of the great one, which I have conveyed into a
closet, where it may possibly remain some years. In short, the face of
things is quite changed, and methinks you would smile to see my
hourglass hanging in the place of the clock. What a great ornament it
is to the room! I have paid my debts, and find money in my pocket. I
expect my dear home next Friday, and, as your paper is taken at the
house where she is, I hope the reading of this will prepare her mind for
the above surprising revolutions. If she can conform herself to this new
manner of living, we shall be the happiest couple, perhaps, in the
province, and, by the blessing of God, may soon be in thriving
circumstances. I have reserved the great glass, because I know her heart
is set upon it; I will allow her, when she comes in, to be taken
suddenly ill with _the headache_, _the stomach-ache_, _fainting-fits_,
or whatever other disorder she may think more proper, and she may retire
to bed as soon as she pleases. But if I should not find her in perfect
health, both of body and mind, the next morning, away goes the aforesaid
great glass, with several other trinkets I have no occasion for, to the
vendue, that very day; which is the irrevocable resolution

                    Of, sir, her loving husband and
                              Your very humble servant,
                                       ANTHONY AFTERWIT.

P.S.--I would be glad to know how you approve my conduct.

_Answer._--I don't love to concern myself in affairs between man and


"_Mrs. Abiah Franklin._

                                  "Philadelphia, April (date uncertain).


"We received your kind letter of the 2d instant, by which we are glad to
hear you still enjoy such a measure of health, notwithstanding your
great age. We read your writings very easily. I never met with a word in
your letter but what I could easily understand, for, though the hand is
not always the best, the sense makes everything plain. My leg, which you
inquire after, is now quite well. I shall keep these servants: but the
man not in my own house. I have hired him out to the man that takes care
of my Dutch printing-office, who agrees to keep him in victuals and
clothes, and to pay me a dollar a week for his work. The wife, since
that affair, behaves exceeding well: but we conclude to sell them both
the first good opportunity, for we do not like negro servants. We got
again about half what we lost.

"As to your grandchildren, Will is now 19 years of age, a tall, proper
youth, and much of a beau. He acquired a habit of idleness on the
expedition, but begins, of late, to apply himself to business, and, I
hope, will become an industrious man. He imagined his father had got
enough for him; but I have assured him that I intend to spend what
little I have myself, if it please God that I live long enough, and he
can see, by my going on, that I mean to be as good as my word.

"Sally grows a fine girl, and is extremely industrious with her needle,
and delights in her work. She is of a most affectionate temper, and
perfectly dutiful and obliging to her parents and to all. Perhaps I
flatter myself too much, but I have hope that she will prove an
ingenious, sensible, notable, and worthy woman, like her aunt Jenny; she
goes now to the dancing school.

"For my own part, at present, I pass my time agreeably enough; I enjoy
(through mercy) a tolerable share of health. I read a great deal, ride a
little, do a little business for myself (now and then for others),
retire when I can, and go into company when I please so; the years roll
round, and the last will come, when I would rather have it said _he
lived usefully_ than _he died rich_.

"Cousins Josiah and Sally are well, and I believe will do well, for they
are an industrious, loving young couple; but they want a little more
stock to go on smoothly with their business.

"My love to brother and sister Mecom and their children, and to all my
relations in general. I am your dutiful son,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Miss Jane Franklin._[12]

     [12] His sister married Mr. Edward Mecom, July 27, 1727.

                                   "Philadelphia, January 6, 1726-7.


"I am highly pleased with the account Captain Freeman gives me of you. I
always judged by your behaviour when a child, that you would make a
good, agreeable woman, and you know you were ever my peculiar favourite.
I have been thinking what would be a suitable present for me to make,
and for you to receive, as I hear you are grown a celebrated beauty. I
had almost determined on a teatable; but when I considered that the
character of a good housewife was far preferable to that of being only a
pretty gentlewoman, I concluded to send you a _spinning-wheel_, which I
hope you will accept as a small token of my sincere love and affection.

"Sister, farewell, and remember that modesty as it makes the most homely
virgin amiable and charming, so the want of it infallibly renders the
most perfect beauty disagreeable and odious. But when that brightest of
female virtues shines among other perfections of body and mind in the
same person, it makes the woman more lovely than an angel. Excuse this
freedom, and use the same with me. I am, dear Jenny, your loving

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the same._

                                   Philadelphia, July 28, 1743.


"I took your admonition very kindly, and was far from being offended at
you for it. If I say anything about it to you, 'tis only to rectify some
wrong opinions you seem to have entertained of me; and this I do only
because they give you some uneasiness, which I am unwilling to be the
cause of. You express yourself as if you thought I was against
worshipping of God, and doubt that good works would merit heaven; which
are both fancies of your own, I think, without foundation. I am so far
from thinking that God is not to be worshipped, that I have composed and
wrote a whole book of devotions for my own use, and I imagine there are
few, if any, in the world so weak as to imagine that the little good we
can do here can merit so vast a reward hereafter.

"There are some things in your New-England doctrine and worship which I
do not agree with: but I do not therefore condemn them, or desire to
shake your belief or practice of them. We may dislike things that are
nevertheless right in themselves: I would only have you make me the same
allowance, and have a better opinion both of morality and your brother.
Read the pages of Mr. Edwards's late book, entitled, 'Some Thoughts
concerning the present Revival of Religion in New-England,' from 367 to
375; and when you judge of others, if you can perceive the fruit to be
good, don't terrify yourself that the tree may be evil; but be assured
it is not so, for you know who has said, 'Men do not gather grapes off
thorns, and figs off thistles.' I have not time to add, but that I shall
always be your affectionate brother,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN.

"P.S.--It was not kind in you, when your sister commenced good works, to
suppose she intended it a reproach to you. 'Twas very far from her

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Mr. George Whitefield._

                                   "Philadelphia, June 6, 1753.


"I received your kind letter of the 2d instant, and am glad to hear that
you increase in strength; I hope you will continue mending till you
recover your former health and firmness. Let me know whether you still
use the cold bath, and what effect it has.

"As to the kindness you mention, I wish it could have been of more
service to you. But if it had, the only thanks I should desire is, that
you would always be equally ready to serve any other person that may
need your assistance, and so let good offices go round; for mankind are
all of a family.

"For my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look
upon myself as conferring favours, but as paying debts. In my travels
and since my settlement, I have received much kindness from men to whom
I shall never have an opportunity of making the least direct return, and
numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by
our services. Those kindnesses from men I can therefore only return on
their fellow-men, and I can only show my gratitude for these mercies
from God by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For
I do not think that thanks and compliments, though repeated weekly, can
discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our
Creator. You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far
from expecting to merit heaven by them. By heaven we understand a state
of happiness infinite in degree and eternal in duration: I can do
nothing to deserve such rewards. He that, for giving a draught of water
to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a good plantation,
would be modest in his demands compared with those who think they
deserve heaven for the little good they do on earth. Even the mixed,
imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world are rather from God's
goodness than our merit: how much more such happiness of heaven! For my
part, I have not the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect
it, nor the ambition to desire it; but content myself in submitting to
the will and disposal of that God who made me, who has hitherto
preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well
confide, that he will never make me miserable, and that even the
afflictions I may at any time suffer shall tend to my benefit. * * * *

"I wish you health and happiness.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Mrs. D. Franklin._

                                   "Guadenhathen, January 25, 1756.


"This day week we arrived here; I wrote to you the same day, and once
since. We all continue well, thanks be to God. We have been hindered
with bad weather, yet our fort is in a good defensible condition, and we
have every day more convenient living. Two more are to be built, one on
each side of this, at about fifteen miles' distance. I hope both will be
done in a week or ten days, and then I purpose to bend my course

"We have enjoyed your roast beef, and this day began on the roast veal;
all agree that they are both the best that ever were of the kind. Your
citizens, that have their dinners hot and hot, know nothing of good
eating; we find it in much greater perfection when the kitchen is
fourscore miles from the dining-room.

"The apples are extremely welcome, and do bravely to eat after our salt
pork; the minced pies are not yet come to hand, but suppose we shall
find them among the things expected up from Bethlehem on Tuesday; the
capillaire is excellent, but none of us having taken cold as yet, we
have only tasted it.

"As to our lodging, 'tis on deal feather beds, in warm blankets, and
much more comfortable than when we lodged at our inn the first night
after we left home; for the woman being about to put very damp sheets on
the bed, we desired her to air them first; half an hour afterward she
told us the bed was ready and the sheets _well aired_. I got into bed,
but jumped out immediately, finding them as cold as death, and partly
frozen. She had _aired_ them indeed, but it was out upon the _hedge_. I
was forced to wrap myself up in my greatcoat and woollen trousers;
everything else about the bed was shockingly dirty.

"As I hope in a little time to be with you and my family, and chat
things over, I now only add that I am, dear Debby, your affectionate

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To the same._

                         "Easton, Saturday morning, November 13, 1756.


"I wrote to you a few days since by a special messenger, and enclosed
letters for all our wives and sweethearts, expecting to hear from you by
his return, and to have the northern newspapers and English letters per
the packet; but he is just now returned without a scrap for poor us. So
I had a good mind not to write to you by this opportunity; but I never
can be ill-natured enough, even when there is the most occasion. The
messenger says he left the letters at your house, and saw you afterward
at Mr. Dentie's, and told you when he would go, and that he lodged at
Honey's, next door to you, and yet you did not write; so let Goody Smith
give one more just judgment, and say what should be done to you; I think
I won't tell you that we are well, nor that we expect to return about
the middle of the week, nor will I send you a word of news; that's poz.
My duty to mother, love to the children, and to Miss Betsey and Gracey,
&c., &c.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN.

"P.S.--I have _scratched out the loving words_, being written in haste
by mistake, _when I forgot . was angry_."

[Transcriber's Note: Unreadable word after "I forgot"]

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mrs. Jane Mecom, Boston._

                                             New-York, April 19, 1757.


"I wrote a few lines to you yesterday, but omitted to answer yours
relating to sister Dowse. _As having their own way_ is one of the
greatest comforts of life to old people, I think their friends should
endeavour to accommodate them in that as well as anything else. When
they have long lived in a house, it becomes natural to them; they are
almost as closely connected with it as the tortoise with his shell: they
die if you tear them out of it. Old folks and old trees, if you remove
them, 'tis ten to one that you kill them, so let our good old sister be
no more importuned on that head: we are growing old fast ourselves, and
shall expect the same kind of indulgences; if we give them, we shall
have a right to receive them in our turn.

"And as to her few fine things, I think she is in the right not to sell
them, and for the reason she gives, that they will fetch but little,
when that little is spent, they would be of no farther use to her; but
perhaps the expectation of possessing them at her death may make that
person tender and careful of her, and helpful to her to the amount of
ten times their value. If so, they are put to the best use they possibly
can be.

"I hope you visit sister as often as your affairs will permit, and
afford her what assistance and comfort you can in her present situation.
_Old age_, _infirmities_, and _poverty_ joined, are afflictions enough.
The _neglect_ and _slights_ of friends and near relations should never
be added; people in her circumstances are apt to suspect this sometimes
without cause, _appearances_ should therefore be attended to in our
conduct towards them as well as _relatives_. I write by this post to
cousin William, to continue his care which I doubt not he will do.

"We expect to sail in about a week, so that I can hardly hear from you
again on this side the water; but let me have a line from you now and
then while I am in London; I expect to stay there at least a
twelvemonth. Direct your letters to be left for me at the Pennsylvania
Coffee-house, in Birchin Lane, London.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN.

"P.S., April 25.--We are still here, and perhaps may be here a week
longer. Once more adieu, my dear sister."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the same._

                          Woodbridge, East New-Jersey, May 21, 1757.


"I received your kind letter of the 9th instant, in which you acquainted
me with some of your late troubles. These are troublesome times to us
all; but perhaps you have heard more than you should. I am glad to hear
that Peter is at a place where he has full employ. A trade is a valuable
thing; but unless a habit of industry be acquired with it, it turns out
of little use; if he gets THAT in his new place, it will be a happy
exchange, and the occasion not an unfortunate one.

"It is very agreeable to me to hear so good an account of your other
children: in such a number, to have no bad ones is a great happiness.

"The horse sold very low indeed. If I wanted one to-morrow, knowing his
goodness, old as he is, I should freely give more than twice the money
for him; but you did the best you could, and I will take of Benny no
more than he produced.

"I don't doubt but Benny will do very well when he gets to work: but I
fear his things from England may be so long a coming as to occasion the
loss of the rent. Would it not be better for you to move into the
house? Perhaps not, if he is near being married. I know nothing of that
affair but what you write me, except that I think Miss Betsey a very
agreeable, sweet-tempered, good girl, who has had a housewifery
education, and will make, to a good husband, a very good wife. Your
sister and I have a great esteem for her, and if she will be kind enough
to accept of our nephew, we think it will be his own fault if he is not
as happy as the married state can make him. The family is a respectable
one, but whether there be any fortune I know not; and as you do not
inquire about this particular, I suppose you think with me, that where
everything else desirable is to be met with, that is not very material.
If she does not bring a fortune she will have to make one. Industry,
frugality, and prudent economy in a wife, are to a tradesman, in their
effects, a fortune; and a fortune sufficient for Benjamin, if his
expectations are reasonable. We can only add, that if the young lady and
her friends are willing, we give our consent heartily and our blessing.
My love to brother and the children concludes with me.

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the same_.

                                             "New-York, May 30, 1757


"I have before me yours of the 9th and 16th instant. I am glad you have
resolved to visit sister Dowse oftener; it will be a great comfort to
her to find she is not neglected by you, and your example may, perhaps,
be followed by some other of her relations.

"As Neddy is yet a young man, I hope he may get over the disorder he
complains of, and in time wear it out. My love to him and his wife and
the rest of your children. It gives me pleasure to hear that Eben is
likely to get into business at his trade. If he will be industrious and
frugal, 'tis ten to one but he gets rich, for he seems to have spirit
and activity.

"I am glad that Peter is acquainted with the crown soap business, so as
to make what is good of the kind. I hope he will always take care to
make it faithfully, never slight manufacture, or attempt to deceive by
appearances. Then he may boldly put his name and mark, and in a little
time it will acquire as good a character as that made by his late uncle,
or any other person whatever. I believe his aunt at Philadelphia can
help him to sell a good deal of it; and I doubt not of her doing
everything in her power to promote his interest in that way. Let a box
be sent to her (but not unless it be right good), and she will
immediately return the ready money for it. It was beginning once to be
in vogue in Philadelphia, but brother John sent me one box, an ordinary
sort, which checked its progress. I would not have him put the Franklin
arms on it; but the soapboiler's arms he has a right to use, if he
thinks fit. The other would look too much like an attempt to
counterfeit. In his advertisements he may value himself on serving his
time with the original maker, but put his own mark or device on the
papers, or anything he may be advised as proper; only on the soap, as it
is called by the name of crown soap, it seems necessary to use a stamp
of that sort, and perhaps no soapboiler in the king's dominions has a
better right to the crown than himself.

"Nobody has wrote a syllable to me concerning his making use of the
hammer, or made the least complaint of him or you. I am sorry, however,
he took it without leave. It was irregular, and if you had not approved
of his doing it I should have thought it indiscreet. _Leave_, they say,
is _light_, and it seems to me a piece of respect that was due to his
aunt to ask it, and I can scarce think she would have refused him the

"I am glad to hear Jamey is so good and diligent a workman; if he ever
sets up at the goldsmith's business, he must remember that there is one
accomplishment without which he cannot possibly thrive in that trade
(i. e., _to be perfectly honest_). It is a business that, though ever so
uprightly managed, is always liable to suspicion; and if a man is once
detected in the smallest fraud it soon becomes public, and every one is
put upon their guard against him; no one will venture to try his hands,
or trust him to make up their plate; so at once he is ruined. I hope my
nephew will therefore establish a character as an _honest_ and faithful
as well as _skilful_ workman, and then he need not fear employment.

"And now, as to what you propose for Benny, I believe he may be, as you
say, well enough qualified for it; and when he appears to be settled, if
a vacancy should happen, it is very probable he may be thought of to
supply it; but it is a rule with me not to remove any officer that
behaves well, keeps regular accounts, and pays duly; and I think the
rule is founded on reason and justice. I have not shown any backwardness
to assist Benny, where it could be done without injuring another. But if
my friends require of me to gratify not only their inclinations, but
their resentments, they expect too much of me. Above all things, I
dislike family quarrels; and when they happen among my relations,
nothing gives me more pain. If I were to set myself up as a judge of
those subsisting between you and brother's widow and children, how
unqualified must I be, at this distance, to determine rightly,
especially having heard but one side. They always treated me with
friendly and affectionate regard; you have done the same. What can I say
between you but that I wish you were reconciled, and that I will love
that side best that is most ready to forgive and oblige the other. You
will be angry with me here for putting you and them too much upon a
footing, but I shall nevertheless be

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Miss Stevenson, Wanstead._

                                   "Craven-street, May 16, 1760.

"I send my good girl the books I mentioned to her last night. I beg her
to accept of them as a small mark of my esteem and friendship. They are
written in the familiar, easy manner for which the French are so
remarkable; and afford a good deal of philosophic and practical
knowledge, unembarassed with the dry mathematics used by more exact
reasoners, but which is apt to discourage young beginners.

"I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in a
little book short hints of what you find that is curious or that may be
useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars
in your memory, where they will be ready either for practice on some
future occasion if they are matters of utility, or at least to adorn and
improve your conversation if they are rather points of curiosity. And as
many of the terms of science are such as you cannot have met with in
your common reading, and may, therefore, be unacquainted with, I think
it would be well for you to have a good dictionary at hand, to consult
immediately when you meet with a word you do not comprehend the precise
meaning of. This may at first seem troublesome and interrupting; but it
is a trouble that will daily diminish, as you will daily find less and
less occasion for your dictionary, as you become more acquainted with
the terms; and in the mean time you will read with more satisfaction,
because with more understanding. When any point occurs in which you
would be glad to have farther information than your book affords you, I
beg you would not in the least apprehend that I should think it a
trouble to receive and answer your questions. It will be a pleasure, and
no trouble. For though I may not be able, out of my own little stock of
knowledge, to afford you what you require, I can easily direct you to
the books where it may most readily be found.

"Adieu, and believe me ever, my dear friend,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Lord Kames._

                                        "Portsmouth, August 17, 1761.


"I am now waiting here only for a wind to waft me to America, but cannot
leave this happy island and my friends in it without extreme regret,
though I am going to a country and a people that I love. I am going from
the Old World to the New, and I fancy I feel like those who are leaving
this world for the next; grief at the parting; fear of the passage; hope
of the future: these different passions all affect their minds at once,
and these have _tendered_ me down exceedingly. It is usual for the dying
to beg forgiveness of their surviving friends if they have ever offended
them. Can you, my lord, forgive my long silence, and my not
acknowledging till now the favour you did me in sending me your
excellent book? Can you make some allowance for a fault in others which
you have never experienced in yourself; for the bad habit of postponing
from day to day what one every day resolves to do to-morrow? A habit
that grows upon us with years, and whose only excuse is we know not how
to mend it. If you are disposed to favour me, you will also consider how
much one's mind is taken up and distracted by the many little affairs
one has to settle, before the undertaking such a voyage, after so long a
residence in a country; and how little, in such a situation, one's mind
is fitted for serious and attentive reading, which, with regard to the
_Elements of Criticism_, I intended before I should write. I can now
only confess and endeavour to amend. In packing up my books, I have
reserved yours to read on the passage. I hope I shall therefore be able
to write to you upon it soon after my arrival. At present I can only
return my thanks, and say that the parts I have read gave me both
pleasure and instruction; that I am convinced of your position, new as
it was to me, that a good taste in the arts contributes to the
improvement of morals; and that I have had the satisfaction of hearing
the work universally commended by those who have read it.

"And now, my dear sir, accept my sincere thanks for the kindness you
have shown me, and my best wishes of happiness to you and yours.
Wherever I am, I shall esteem the friendship you honour me with as one
of the felicities of my life; I shall endeavour to cultivate it by a
more punctual correspondence; and I hope frequently to hear of your
welfare and prosperity.

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the same._[13]

     [13] Lord Kames had written to Dr. Franklin as early as 1765, when
     the first advices reached England of the disorders occasioned by
     the attempts to carry the stamp-act into execution; and he had
     written a second letter to him on the same subject in the beginning
     of 1767. This is a copy of Dr. Franklin's answer to these letters.

                                             London, April 11, 1767.


I received your obliging favour of January the 19th. You have kindly
relieved me from the pain I had long been under. You are goodness
itself. I ought to have answered yours of December 25, 1765. I never
received a letter that contained sentiments more suitable to my own. It
found me under much agitation of mind on the very important subject it
treated. It fortified me greatly in the judgment I was inclined to form
(though contrary to the general vogue) on the then delicate and critical
situation of affairs between Great Britain and the colonies, and on that
weighty point, their _union_. You guessed aright in supposing that I
would not be a _mute in that play_. I was extremely busy, attending
members of both houses, informing, explaining, consulting, disputing, in
a continual hurry from morning to night, till the affair was happily
ended. During the course of its being called before the House of Commons
I spoke my mind pretty freely. Enclosed I send you the imperfect account
that was taken of that examination; you will there see how entirely we
agree, except in a point of fact, of which you could not but be
misinformed; the papers at that time being full of mistaken assertions,
that the colonies had been the cause of the war, and had ungratefully
refused to bear any part of the expense of it. I send it you now,
because I apprehend some late accidents are likely to revive the contest
between the two countries. I fear it will be a mischievous one. It
becomes a matter of great importance, that clear ideas should be formed
on solid principles, both in Britain and America, of the true political
relation between them, and the mutual duties belonging to that relation.
Till this is done they will be often jarring. I know none whose
knowledge, sagacity, and impartiality qualify him so thoroughly for such
a service as yours do you. I wish, therefore, you would consider it. You
may thereby be the happy instrument of great good to the nation, and of
preventing much mischief and bloodshed. I am fully persuaded with you,
that a _consolidating union_, by a fair and equal representation of all
the parts of this empire in Parliament, is the only firm basis on which
its political grandeur and prosperity can be founded. Ireland once
wished it, but now rejects it. The time has been when the colonies might
have been pleased with it, they are now _indifferent_ about it, and if
it is much longer delayed, they too will _refuse_ it. But the pride of
this people cannot bear the thought of it, and therefore it will be
delayed. Every man in England seems to consider himself as a piece of a
sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the throne with the
king, and talks of _our subjects in the colonies_. The Parliament cannot
well and wisely make laws suited to the colonies, without being properly
and truly informed of their circumstances, abilities, temper, &c. This
it cannot be without representatives from thence; and yet it is fond of
this power, and averse to the only means of acquiring the necessary
knowledge for exercising it, which is desiring to be _omnipotent_
without being _omniscient_.

"I have mentioned that the contest is likely to be revived. It is on
this occasion: in the same session with the stamp-act, an act was passed
to regulate the quartering of soldiers in America: when the bill was
first brought in, it contained a clause empowering the officers to
quarter their soldiers in private houses; this we warmly opposed, and
got it omitted. The bill passed, however, with a clause that empty
houses, barns, &c., should be hired for them; and that the respective
provinces where they were should pay the expense, and furnish firing,
bedding, drink, and some other articles to the soldiers, _gratis_. There
is no way for any province to do this but by the Assembly's making a law
to raise the money. Pennsylvania Assembly has made such a law; New-York
Assembly has refused to do it; and now all the talk here is, of sending
a force to compel them.

"The reasons given by the Assembly to the governor for the refusal are,
that they understand the act to mean the furnishing such things to
soldiers only while on their march through the country, and not to great
bodies of soldiers, to be fixed, as at present, in the province; the
burden in the latter case being greater than the inhabitants can bear;
that it would put it in the power of the captain-general to oppress the
province at pleasure, &c. But there is supposed to be another reason at
bottom, which they intimate, though they do not plainly express it, to
wit, that it is of the nature of an _internal tax_ laid on them by
Parliament, which has no right so to do. Their refusal is here called
_rebellion_, and punishment is thought of.

"Now, waving that point of right, and supposing the legislatures in
America subordinate to the legislatures of Great Britain, one might
conceive, I think, a power in the superior legislature to forbid the
inferior legislatures making particular laws; but to enjoin it to make a
particular law, contrary to its own judgment, seems improper; an
assembly or parliament not being an _executive_ officer of government,
whose duty it is, in law-making, to obey orders, but a _deliberative_
body, who are to consider what comes before them, its propriety,
practicability, or possibility, and to determine accordingly; the very
nature of a parliament seems to be destroyed by supposing it may be
bound and compelled by a law of a superior parliament to make a law
contrary to its own judgment.

"Indeed, the act of Parliament in question has not, as in other acts,
when a duty is enjoined, directed a penalty on neglect or refusal, and a
mode of recovering that penalty. It seems, therefore, to the people in
America as a requisition, which they are at liberty to comply with or
not, as it may suit or not suit the different circumstances of the
different provinces. Pennsylvania has, therefore, voluntarily complied.
New-York, as I said before, has refused. The ministry that made the act,
and all their adherents, call for vengeance. The present ministry are
perplexed, and the measures they will finally take on the occasion are
yet unknown. But sure I am that if _force_ is used great mischief will
ensue, the affections of the people of America to this country will be
alienated, your commerce will be diminished, and a total separation of
interests be the final consequence.

"It is a common but mistaken notion here, that the colonies were planted
at the expense of Parliament, and that, therefore, the Parliament has a
right to tax them, &c. The truth is, they were planted at the expense of
private adventurers, who went over there to settle, with leave of the
king, given by charter. On receiving this leave and those charters, the
adventurers voluntarily engaged to remain the king's subjects, though in
a foreign country; a country which had not been conquered by either king
or parliament, but was possessed by a free people.

"When our planters arrived, they purchased the lands of the natives,
without putting king or parliament to any expense. Parliament had no
hand in their settlement, was never so much as consulted about their
constitution, and took no kind of notice of them till many years after
they were established. I except only the two modern colonies, or,
rather, attempts to make colonies (for they succeed but poorly, and, as
yet, hardly deserve the name of colonies), I mean Georgia and Nova
Scotia, which have hitherto been little better than parliamentary jobs.
Thus all the colonies acknowledge the king as their sovereign; his
governors there represent his person: laws are made by their assemblies
or little parliaments, with the governor's assent, subject still to the
king's pleasure to affirm or annul them. Suits arising in the colonies,
and between colony and colony, are determined by the king in council. In
this view they seem so many separate little states, subject to the same
prince. The sovereignty of the king is therefore easily understood. But
nothing is more common here than to talk of the _sovereignty_ of
PARLIAMENT, and the sovereignty of this nation over the colonies; a kind
of sovereignty, the idea of which is not so clear, nor does it clearly
appear on what foundation it is established. On the other hand, it seems
necessary, for the common good of the empire, that a power be lodged
somewhere to regulate its general commerce; this can be placed nowhere
so properly as in the Parliament of Great Britain; and, therefore,
though that power has in some instances been executed with great
partiality to Britain and prejudice to the colonies, they have
nevertheless always submitted to it. Custom-houses are established in
all of them, by virtue of laws made here, and the duties instantly paid,
except by a few smugglers, such as are here and in all countries; but
internal taxes laid on them by Parliament are still, and ever will be,
objected to for the reason that you will see in the mentioned

"Upon the whole, I have lived so great a part of my life in Britain, and
have formed so many friendships in it, that I love it, and sincerely
wish it prosperity; and, therefore, wish to see that union on which
alone I think it can be secured and established. As to America, the
advantages of such a union to her are not so apparent. She may suffer at
present under the arbitrary power of this country; she may suffer for a
while in a separation from it; but these are temporary evils which she
will outgrow. Scotland and Ireland are differently circumstanced.
Confined by the sea, they can scarcely increase in numbers, wealth, and
strength, so as to overbalance England. But America, an immense
territory, favoured by nature with all advantages of climate, soils,
great navigable rivers, lakes, &c., must become a great country,
populous and mighty; and will, in a less time than is generally
conceived, be able to shake off any shackles that may be imposed upon
her, and, perhaps, place them on the imposers. In the mean time, every
act of oppression will sour their tempers, lessen greatly, if not
annihilate, the profits of your commerce with them, and hasten their
final revolt; for the seeds of liberty are universally found there, and
nothing can eradicate them. And yet there remains among that people so
much respect, veneration, and affection for Britain, that, if cultivated
prudently, with a kind usage and tenderness for their privileges, they
might be easily governed still for ages, without force or any
considerable expense. But I do not see here a sufficient quantity of the
wisdom that is necessary to produce such a conduct, and I lament the
want of it.

"I borrowed at Millar's the new edition of your _Principles of Equity_,
and have read with great pleasure the preliminary discourse on the
principles of morality. I have never before met with anything so
satisfactory on the subject. While reading it, I made a few remarks as I
went along. They are not of much importance, but I send you the paper.

"I know the lady you mention (Mrs. Montague), having, when in England
before, met her once or twice at Lord Bath's. I remember I then
entertained the same opinion of her that you express. On the strength of
your recommendation, I purpose soon to wait on her.

"This is unexpectedly grown a long letter. The visit to Scotland and the
_Art of Virtue_ we will talk of hereafter. It is now time to say that I
am, with increasing esteem and affection,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."[14]

      [14] This letter was intercepted by the British ministry; Dr. F.
     had preserved a copy of it, which was afterward transmitted to Lord
     Kames; but the wisdom that composed and conveyed it was thrown away
     upon the men at that time in power.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Lord Kames._

                                            "London, February 21, 1769.


"I received your excellent paper on the preferable use of oxen in
agriculture, and have put it in the way of being communicated to the
public here. I have observed in America that the farmers are more
thriving in those parts of the country where horned cattle are used,
than in those where the labour is done by horses. The latter are said to
require twice the quantity of land to maintain them and, after all, are
not good to eat--at least we don't think them so. Here is a waste of
land that might afford subsistence for so many of the human species.
Perhaps it was for this reason that the Hebrew lawgiver, having promised
that the children of Israel should be as numerous as the sands of the
sea, not only took care to secure the health of individuals by
regulating their diet, that they might be better fitted for producing
children, but also forbid their using horses, as those animals would
lessen the quantity of subsistence for man. Thus we find, when they took
any horses from their enemies, they destroyed them; and in the
commandments, where the labour of the ox and ass is mentioned, and
forbidden on the Sabbath, there is no mention of the horse, probably
because they were to have none. And by the great armies suddenly raised
in that small territory they inhabited, it appears to have been very
full of people.[15]

      [15] There is not in the Jewish law any express prohibition
     against the use of horses: it is only enjoined that the kings
     should not multiply the breed, or carry on trade with Egypt for the
     purchase of horses.--Deut. xvii., 16. Solomon was the first of the
     kings of Judah who disregarded this ordinance. He had 40,000 stalls
     of horses which he brought out of Egypt.--1 Kings iv., 26, and x.,
     28. From this time downward horses were in constant use in the
     Jewish armies. It is true that the country, from its rocky surface
     and unfertile soil, was extremely unfit for the maintenance of
     those animals.--_Note by Lord Kames._

"Food is _always_ necessary to _all_, and much the greatest part of the
labour of mankind is employed in raising provisions for the mouth. Is
not this kind of labour, then, the fittest to be the standard by which
to measure the values of all other labour, and, consequently, of all
other things whose value depends on the labour of making or procuring
them? may not even gold and silver be thus valued? If the labour of the
farmer, in producing a bushel of wheat, be equal to the labour of the
miner in producing an ounce of silver, will not the bushel of wheat just
measure the value of the ounce of silver. The miner must eat; the
farmer, indeed, can live without the ounce of silver, and so, perhaps,
will have some advantage in settling the price. But these discussions I
leave to you, as being more able to manage them: only, I will send you a
little scrap I wrote some time since on the laws prohibiting foreign

"I congratulate you on your election as president of your Edinburgh
Society. I think I formerly took notice to you in conversation, that I
thought there had been some similarity in our fortunes and the
circumstances of our lives. This is a fresh instance, for by letters
just received I find that I was about the same time chosen President of
our American Philosophical Society, established at Philadelphia.[16]

     [16] The American Philosophical Society was instituted in 1769, and
     was formed by the union of two societies which had formerly
     subsisted at Philadelphia, whose views and objects were of a
     similar nature. Its members were classed in the following

     1. Geography, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and Astronomy.

     2. Medicine and Anatomy.

     3. Natural History and Chymistry.

     4. Trade and Commerce.

     5. Mechanics and Architecture.

     6. Husbandry and American Improvements.

      Several volumes have been published of the transactions of this
     American Society, in which are many papers by Dr. Franklin.--_Note
     by Lord Kames._

"I have sent by sea, to the care of Mr. Alexander a little box
containing a few copies of the late edition of my books, for my friends
in Scotland. One is directed for you, and one for your society, which I
beg that you and they would accept as a small token of my respect.

                    "With the sincerest esteem and regard,
                                             "B. FRANKLIN.

"P.S.--I am sorry my letter of 1767, concerning the American disputes,
miscarried. I now send you a copy of it from my book. The examination
mentioned in it you have probably seen. Things daily wear a worse
aspect, and tend more and more to a breach and final separation."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_John Alleyne._

                                   "Craven-street, August 9, 1768.


"You desire, you say, my impartial thoughts on the subject of an early
marriage, by way of answer to the numberless objections that have been
made by numerous persons to your own. You may remember, when you
consulted me on the occasion, that I thought youth on both sides to be
no objection. Indeed, from the marriages that have fallen under my
observation, I am rather inclined to think that early ones stand the
best chance of happiness. The temper and habits of the young are not yet
become so stiff and uncomplying as when more advanced in life; they form
more easily to each other, and hence many occasions of disgust are
removed. And if youth has less of that prudence which is necessary to
manage a family, yet the parents and elder friends of young married
persons are generally at hand to afford their advice, which amply
supplies that defect; and, by early marriage, youth is sooner formed to
regular and useful life; and possibly some of those accidents or
connexions, that might have injured the constitution or reputation, or
both, are thereby happily prevented. Particular circumstances of
particular persons may possibly, sometimes, make it prudent to delay
entering into that state; but, in general, when nature has rendered our
bodies fit for it, the presumption is in nature's favour, for she has
not judged amiss in making us desire it. Late marriages are often
attended, too, with this farther inconvenience, that there is not the
same chance that the parents shall live to see their offspring educated.
'_Late children_,' says the Spanish proverb, '_are early orphans_.' A
melancholy reflection to those whose case it may be! With us in America
marriages are generally in the morning of life; our children are
therefore educated and settled in the world by noon; and thus, our
business being done, we have an afternoon and evening of cheerful
leisure to ourselves, such as our friend at present enjoys. By these
early marriages we are blessed with more children; and from the mode
among us, founded by nature, of every mother suckling and nursing her
own child, more of them are raised. Thence the swift progress of
population among us, unparalleled in Europe. In fine, I am glad you are
married, and congratulate you most cordially upon it. You are now in the
way of becoming a useful citizen; and you have escaped the unnatural
state of celibacy for life--the fate of many here who never intended it,
but who, having too long postponed the change of their condition, find
at length that it is too late to think of it, and so live all their
lives in a situation that greatly lessens a man's value. An odd volume
of a set of books bears not the value of its proportion to the set: what
think you of the odd half of a pair of scissors? it can't well cut
anything; it may possibly serve to scrape a trencher.

"Pray make my compliments and best wishes acceptable to your bride. I am
old and heavy, or I should, ere this, have presented them in person. I
shall make but small use of the old man's privilege, that of giving
advice to younger friends. Treat your wife always with respect; it will
procure respect to you, not only from her, but from all that observe it.
Never use a slighting expression to her, even in jest; for slights in
jest, after frequent bandyings, are apt to end in angry earnest. Be
studious in your profession, and you will be learned. Be industrious and
frugal, and you will be rich. Be sober and temperate, and you will be
healthy. Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy. At least, you
will, by such conduct, stand the best chance for such consequences.

"I pray God to bless you both, being ever your affectionate friend,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Governor Franklin._

                                             "London, Dec. 19, 1767.


"The resolutions of the Boston people concerning trade make a great
noise here. Parliament has not yet taken notice of them, but the
newspapers are in full cry against America. Colonel Onslow told me at
court last Sunday, that I could not conceive how much the friends of
America were run upon and hurt by them, and how much the Grenvillians
triumphed. I have just written a paper for next Thursday's Chronicle,
to extenuate matters a little.

"Mentioning Colonel Onslow reminds me of something that passed at the
beginning of this session in the house between him and Mr. Grenville.
The latter had been raving against America, as traitorous, rebellious,
&c., when the former, who has always been its firm friend, stood up and
gravely said, that in reading the Roman history, he found it was a
custom among that wise and magnanimous people, whenever the senate was
informed of any discontent in the provinces, to send two or three of
their body into the discontented provinces to inquire into the
grievances complained of, and report to the senate, that mild measures
might be used to remedy what was amiss before any severe steps were
taken to enforce obedience. That this example he thought worthy our
imitation in the present state of our colonies, for he did so far agree
with the honourable gentleman that spoke just before him as to allow
there were great discontents among them. He should therefore beg leave
to move, that two or three members of Parliament be appointed to go over
to New-England on this service. And that it might not be supposed he was
for imposing burdens on others that he would not be willing to bear
himself, he did at the same time declare his own willingness, if the
house should think fit to appoint them, to go over thither _with that
honourable gentleman_. Upon this there was a great laugh, which
continued some time, and was rather increased by Mr. Grenville's asking,
'Will the gentleman engage that I shall be safe there? Can I be assured
that I shall be allowed to come back again to make the report?' As soon
as the laugh was so far subsided as that Mr. Onslow could be heard
again, he added, 'I cannot absolutely engage for the honourable
gentleman's safe return; but if he goes thither upon this service, I am
strongly of opinion the _event_ will contribute greatly to the future
quiet of both countries.' On which the laugh was renewed and redoubled.

"If our people should follow the Boston example in entering into
resolutions of frugality and industry, full as necessary for us as for
them, I hope they will, among other things, give this reason, that 'tis
to enable them more speedily and effectually to discharge their debts to
Great Britain; this will soften a little, and, at the same time, appear
honourable, and like ourselves. Yours, &c.,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Dr. Priestley._

                                             "Passy, June 7, 1782.


"I received your kind letter of the 7th April, also one of the 3d of
May. I have always great pleasure in hearing from you, in learning that
you are well, and that you continue your experiments. I should rejoice
much if I could once more recover the leisure to search with you into
the works of nature; I mean the inanimate or moral part of them: the
more I discovered of the former, the more I admired them; the more I
know of the latter, the more I am disgusted with them. Men I find to be
a sort of beings very badly constructed, as they are generally more
easily provoked than reconciled, more disposed to do mischief to each
other than to make reparation, much more easily deceived than
undeceived, and having more pride and even pleasure in killing than in
begetting one another. * * * In what light we are viewed by superior
beings, may be gathered from a piece of late West India news, which,
possibly, has not yet reached you. A young angel being sent down to this
world on some business for the first time, had an old courier-spirit
assigned him as a guide; they arrived over the seas of Martinico, in the
middle of the long day of obstinate fight between the fleets of Rodney
and De Grasse. When through the clouds of smoke he saw the fire of the
guns, the decks covered with mangled limbs, and bodies dead or dying,
the ships sinking, burning, or blown into the air, and the quantity of
pain, misery, and destruction, the crews yet alive were thus with so
much eagerness dealing round to one another, he turned angrily to his
guide, and said, you blundering blockhead, you are ignorant of your
business; you undertook to conduct me to the earth, and you have brought
me into hell! No, sir, says the guide, I have made no mistake; this is
really the earth, and these are men. Devils never treat one another in
this cruel manner; they have more sense, and more of what men (vainly)
call humanity.

"But to be serious, my dear old friend, I love you as much as ever, and
I love all the honest souls that meet at the London Coffee-house. I only
wonder how it happened that they and my other friends in England came to
be such good creatures in the midst of so perverse a generation. I long
to see them and you once more, and I labour for peace with more
earnestness, that I may again be happy in your sweet society. * * *

"Yesterday the _Count du Nord_[17] was at the Academy of Sciences, when
sundry experiments were exhibited for his entertainment; among them, one
by M. Lavoisier, to show that the strongest fire we yet know is made in
charcoal blown upon with dephlogisticated air. In a heat so produced, he
melted platina presently, the fire being much more powerful than that of
the strongest burning mirror. Adieu, and believe me ever, yours most

     [17] The Grand-duke of Russia, afterward the Emperor Paul I.

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the same._

                                        "London, September 19, 1772.


"In the affair of so much importance to you, wherein you ask my advice,
I cannot, for want of sufficient premises, counsel you _what_ to
determine; but, if you please, I will tell you _how_. When those
difficult cases occur, they are difficult chiefly because, while we have
them under consideration, all the reasons, _pro_ and _con_, are not
present to the mind at the same time; but sometimes one set present
themselves, and at other times another, the first being out of sight.
Hence the various purposes or inclinations that alternately prevail, and
the uncertainty that perplexes us. To get over this, my way is, to
divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns, writing over
the one _pro_ and over the other _con_: then, during three or four days'
consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the
different motives that at different times occur to me _for_ or _against_
the measure. When I have thus got them all together in one view, I
endeavour to estimate their respective weights, and where I find two
(one on each side), that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I find a
reason _pro_ equal to some _two_ reasons _con_ I strike out the _three_.
If I judge some _two_ reasons _con_ equal to some _three_ reasons _pro_,
I strike out the _five_; and, thus proceeding, I find at length where
the _balance_ lies; and if, after a day or two of farther consideration,
nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a
determination accordingly. And though the weight of reasons cannot be
taken with the precision of algebraic quantities, yet, when each is thus
considered separately and comparatively, and the whole lies before me, I
think I can judge better, and am less liable to make a rash step; and,
in fact, I have found great advantage from this kind of equation, in
what may be called moral or _prudential algebra_.

"Wishing sincerely that you may determine for the best, I am ever, my
dear friend, yours most affectionately,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mr. Mather, Boston._

                                             "London, July, 4, 1773.


"The remarks you have added on the late proceedings against America are
very just and judicious; and I cannot see any impropriety in your making
them, though a minister of the gospel. This kingdom is a good deal
indebted for its liberties to the public spirit of its ancient clergy,
who joined with the barons in obtaining Magna Charta, and joined
heartily in forming the curses of excommunication against the infringers
of it. There is no doubt but the claim of Parliament, of authority to
make laws _binding on the colonies in all cases whatsoever_, includes an
authority to change our religious constitution, and establish popery or
Mohammedanism, if they please, in its stead; but, as you intimate,
_power_ does not infer _right_; and as the _right_ is nothing and the
_power_ (by our increase) continually diminishing, the one will soon be
as insignificant as the _other_. You seem only to have made a small
mistake in supposing they modestly avoided to declare they had a right,
the words of the act being, 'that they have, and of _right_ ought to
have, full power,' &c.

"Your suspicion that sundry others besides Governor Bernard 'had written
hither their opinions and councils, encouraging the late measures to the
prejudice of our country, which have been too much needed and followed,'
is, I apprehend, but too well founded. You call them 'traitorous
individuals,' whence I collect that you suppose them of our own
country. There was among the twelve apostles one traitor, who betrayed
with a kiss. It should be no wonder, therefore, if among so many
thousand true patriots as New-England contains, there should be found
even twelve Judases ready to betray their country for a few paltry
pieces of silver. Their _ends_, as well as their views, ought to be
similar. But all the oppressions evidently work for our good. Providence
seems by every means intent on making us a great people. May our
virtues, public and private, grow with us and be durable, that liberty,
civil and religious, may be secured to our posterity, and to all from
every part of the Old World that take refuge among us.

"With great esteem, and my best wishes for a long continuance of your
usefulness, I am, reverend sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mr. Strahan._

                                        "Philadelphia, July 5, 1775.

"You are a member of Parliament, and one of that majority which has
doomed my country to destruction. You have begun to burn our towns and
murder our people. Look upon your hands! they are stained with the blood
of your relations! You and I were long friends: you are now my enemy,
and--I am yours,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Dr. Priestley._

                                        "Philadelphia, October 3, 1775


"I am bound to sail to-morrow for the camp,[18] and, having but just
heard of this opportunity, can only write a line to say that I am well
and hearty. Tell our dear good friend, Dr. Price, who sometimes has his
doubts and despondencies about our firmness, that America is determined
and unanimous; a very few tories and placemen excepted, who will
probably soon export themselves. Britain, at the expense of three
millions, has killed one hundred and fifty Yankees this campaign, which
is 20,000_l._ a head; and at Bunker's Hill she gained a mile of ground,
half of which she lost again by our taking post on Ploughed Hill. During
the same time sixty thousand children have been born in America. From
these _data_ his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and
expense necessary to kill us all and conquer our whole territory. My
sincere repects to * *, and to the club of honest whigs at * *. Adieu.

     [18] Dr. Franklin, Colonel Harrison, and Mr. Lynch, were at this
     time appointed by Congress (of which they were members) to confer
     on certain subjects with General Washington. The American army was
     then employed in blocking up General Howe in Boston; and it was
     during this visit that General Washington communicated the
     following memorable anecdote to Dr. Franklin, viz., "that there had
     been a time when his army had been so destitute of military stores
     as not to have powder enough in all its magazines to furnish more
     than five rounds per man for their small arms." Artillery were out
     of the question: they were fired now and then, only to show that
     they had them. Yet this secret was kept with so much address and
     good countenance from both armies, that General Washington was
     enabled effectually to continue the blockade.

          "I am ever yours most affectionately,
                                    "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mrs. Thompson, at Lisle._

                                             Paris, February 8, 1777.

"You are too early, _hussy_, as well as too saucy, in calling me
_rebel_; you should wait for the event, which will determine whether it
is a _rebellion_ or only a _revolution_. Here the ladies are more
civil; they call us _les insurgens_, a character that usually pleases
them; and methinks all other women who smart, or have smarted, under the
tyranny of a bad husband, ought to be fixed in _revolution_ principles,
and act accordingly.

"In my way to Canada last spring, I saw dear Mrs. Barrow at New-York.
Mr. Barrow had been from her two or three months, to keep Governor Tryon
and other tories company on board the Asia, one of the king's ships
which lay in the harbour; and in all that time that naughty man had not
ventured once on shore to see her. Our troops were then pouring into the
town, and she was packing up to leave it; fearing, as she had a large
house, they would incommode her by quartering officers in it. As she
appeared in great perplexity, scarce knowing where to go, I persuaded
her to stay; and I went to the general officers then commanding there,
and recommended her to their protection; which they promised and
performed. On my return from Canada, where I was a piece of a governor
(and, I think, a very good one) for a fortnight, and might have been so
till this time if your wicked army, enemies to all good government, had
not come and driven me out, I found her still in quiet possession of her
house. I inquired how our people had behaved to her; she spoke in high
terms of the respectful attention they had paid her, and the quiet and
security they had procured her. I said I was glad of it, and that, if
they had used her ill, I would have turned tory. Then, said she (with
that pleasing gayety so natural to her), _I wish they had_. For you must
know she is a _toryess_ as well as you, and can as flippantly say
_rebel_. I drank tea with her; we talked affectionately of you and our
other friends the Wilkes, of whom she had received no late intelligence;
what became of her since, I have not heard. The street she lived in was
some months after chiefly burned down; but as the town was then, and
ever since has been, in possession of the king's troops, I have had no
opportunity of knowing whether she suffered any loss in the
conflagration. I hope she did not, as if she did, I should wish I had
not persuaded her to stay there. I am glad to learn from you, that that
unhappy but deserving family, the W.'s, are getting into some business
that may afford them subsistence. I pray that God will bless them, and
that they may see happier days. Mr. Cheap's and Dr. H.'s good fortunes
please me. Pray learn, if you have not already learned, like me, to be
pleased with other people's pleasures, and happy with their happiness
when none occur of your own; then, perhaps, you will not so soon be
weary of the place you chance to be in, and so fond of rambling to get
rid of your _ennui_. I fancy you have hit upon the right reason of your
being weary of St. Omer's, viz., that you are out of temper, which is
the effect of full living and idleness. A month in Bridewell, beating
hemp, upon bread and water, would give you health and spirits, and
subsequent cheerfulness and contentment with every other situation. I
prescribe that regimen for you, my dear, in pure good-will, without a
fee. And, let me tell you, if you do not get into temper, neither
Brussels nor Lisle will suit you. I know nothing of the price of living
in either of those places; but I am sure a single woman as you are
might, with economy, upon two hundred pounds a year, maintain herself
comfortably anywhere, and me into the bargain. Do not invite me in
earnest, however, to come and live with you, for, being posted here, I
ought not to comply, and I am not sure I should be able to refuse.
Present my respects to Mrs. Payne and Mrs. Heathcoat; for, though I have
not the honour of knowing them, yet as you say they are friends to the
American cause, I am sure they must be women of good understanding. I
know you wish you could see me, but as you can't, I will describe
myself to you. Figure me in your mind as jolly as formerly, and as
strong and hearty, only a few years older: very plainly dressed, wearing
my thin gray straight hair, that peeps out under my only _coiffure_, a
fine fur cap, which comes down my forhead almost to my spectacles. Think
how this must appear among the powdered heads of Paris! I wish every
lady and gentleman in France would only be so obliging as to follow my
fashion, comb their own heads as I do mine, dismiss their _friseurs_,
and pay me half the money they paid to them. You see the gentry might
well afford this, and I could then enlist these friseurs, (who are at
least 100,000), and with the money I would maintain them, make a visit
with them to England, and dress the heads of your ministers and privy
counsellors; which I conceive at present to be _un peu derangées_.
Adieu! madcap, and believe me ever your affectionate friend and humble

                                             "B. FRANKLIN.

"P.S.--Don't be proud of this long letter. A fit of the gout, which has
confined me five days, and made me refuse to see company, has given me
little time to trifle; otherwise it would have been very short; visiters
and business would have interrupted: and, perhaps, with Mrs. Barrow, you
wish they had."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Mr. Lith._

                                    "Passy, near Paris, April 6, 1777.


"I have just been honoured with a letter from you, dated the 26th past,
in which you express yourself as astonished, and appear to be angry that
you have no answer to a letter you wrote me of the 11th of December,
which you are sure was delivered to me.

"In exculpation of myself, I assure you that I never received any letter
from you of this date. And, indeed, being then but four days landed at
Nantes, I think you could scarce have heard so soon of my being in

"But I received one from you of the 8th of January, which I own I did
not answer. It may displease you if I give you the reason; but as it may
be of use to you in your future correspondences, I will hazard that for
a gentleman to whom I feel myself obliged, as an American, on account of
his good-will to our cause.

"Whoever writes to a stranger should observe three points: 1. That what
he proposes be practicable. 2. His propositions should be made in
explicit terms, so as to be easily understood. 3. What he desires,
should be in itself reasonable. Hereby he will give a favourable
impression of his understanding, and create a desire of farther
acquaintance. Now it happened that you were negligent in _all_ these
points: for, first, you desired to have means procured for you of taking
a voyage to America '_avec sureté_,[19] which is not possible, as the
dangers of the sea subsist always, and at present there is the
additional danger of being taken by the English. Then you desire that
this may be '_sans trop grandes dépenses_,'[20] which is not
intelligible enough to be answered, because, not knowing your ability of
bearing expenses, one cannot judge what may be _trop grandes_. Lastly,
you desire letters of address to the Congress and to General Washington,
which it is not reasonable to ask of one who knows no more of you than
that your name is LITH, and that you live at BAYREUTH.

     [19] With safety.

     [20] Without too great expense.

"In your last, you also express yourself in vague terms when you desire
to be informed whether you may expect '_d'étre reçu d'une maniére
cenvenable_'[21] in our troops. As it is impossible to know what your
ideas are of the _maniére convenable_, how can one answer this? And then
you demand whether I will support you by my authority in giving you
letters of recommendation. I doubt not your being a man of merit, and,
knowing it yourself, you may forget that it is not known to everybody;
but reflect a moment, sir, and you will be convinced, that if I were to
practise giving letters of recommendation to persons whose character I
knew no more than I do of yours, my recommendations would soon be of no
authority at all.

     [21] To be received in a suitable manner.

"I thank you, however, for your kind desire of being serviceable to my
countrymen, and I wish, in return, that I could be of service to you in
the scheme you have formed of going to America. But numbers of
experienced officers here have offered to go over and join our army, and
I could give them no encouragement, because I have no orders for that
purpose, and I know it is extremely difficult to place them when they
come there. I cannot but think, therefore, that it is best for you not
to make so long, so expensive, and so hazardous a voyage, but to take
the advice of your friends and _stay in Franconia_. I have the honour to
be, sir, &c.,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Answer to a letter from Brussels._

                                             "_Passy_, July 1, 1778.


"I received your letter dated at Brussels the 16th past.

"My vanity might possibly be flattered by your expressions of compliment
to my understanding, if your proposals did not more clearly manifest a
mean opinion of it.

"You conjure me, in the name of the omniscient and just God, before whom
I must appear, and by my hopes of future fame, to consider if some
expedient cannot be found to put a stop to the desolation of America,
and prevent the miseries of a general war. As I am conscious of having
taken every step in my power to prevent the breach, and no one to widen
it, I can appear cheerfully before that God, fearing nothing from his
justice in this particular, though I have much occasion for his mercy in
many others. As to my future fame, I am content to rest it on my past
and present conduct, without seeking an addition to it in the crooked,
dark paths you propose to me, where I should most certainly lose it.
This your solemn address would, therefore, have been more properly made
to your sovereign and his venal parliament. He and they, who wickedly
began and madly continue a war for the desolation of America, are
accountable for the consequences.

"You endeavour to impress me with a bad opinion of French faith; but the
instances of their friendly endeavours to serve a race of weak princes,
who by their own imprudence defeated every attempt to promote their
interest, weigh but little with me when I consider the steady friendship
of France to the thirteen United States of Switzerland, which has now
continued inviolate two hundred years. You tell me that she will
certainly cheat us, and that she despises us already. I do not believe
that she will cheat us, and I am not certain that she despises us: but I
see clearly that you are endeavouring to cheat us by your conciliatory
bills; that you actually despised our understandings when you flattered
yourselves those artifices would succeed; and that not only France, but
all Europe, yourselves included, most certainly and for ever, would
despise us if we were weak enough to accept your insidious

"Our expectations of the future grandeur of America are not so
magnificent, and, therefore, not so vain and visionary, as you represent
them to be. The body of our people are not merchants, but humble
husbandmen, who delight in the cultivation of their lands, which, from
their fertility and the variety of our climates, are capable of
furnishing all the necessaries of life without external commerce; and we
have too much land to have the slightest temptation to extend our
territory by conquest from peaceable neighbours, as well as too much
justice to think of it. Our militia, you find by experience, are
sufficient to defend our lands from invasion; and the commerce with us
will be defended by all the nations who find an advantage in it. We
therefore have not the occasion you imagine, of fleets or standing
armies, but may leave those expensive machines to be maintained for the
pomp of princes and the wealth of ancient states. We propose, if
possible, to live in peace with all mankind; and, after you have been
convinced, to your cost, that there is nothing to be got by attacking
us, we have reason to hope that no other power will judge it prudent to
quarrel with us, lest they divert us from our own quiet industry, and
turn us into corsairs preying upon theirs. The weight, therefore, of an
independent empire, which you seem certain of our inability to bear,
will not be so great as you imagine. The expense of our civil government
we have always borne, and can easily bear, because it is small. A
virtuous and laborious people may be cheaply governed. Determining as we
do to have no offices of profit, nor any sinecures or useless
appointments, so common in ancient and corrupted states, we can govern
ourselves a year for the sum you pay in a single department, or for what
one jobbing contractor, by the favour of a minister, can cheat you out
of in a single article.

"You think we flatter ourselves, and are deceived into an opinion that
England _must_ acknowledge our independence. We, on the other hand,
think you flatter yourselves in imagining such an acknowledgment a vast
boon which we strongly desire, and which you may gain some great
advantage by granting or withholding. We have never asked it of you. We
only tell you that you can have no treaty with us but as an independent
state; and you may please yourselves and your children with the rattle
of your right to govern us, as long as you have with that of your king
being king of France, without giving us the least concern if you do not
attempt to exercise it. That this pretended right is indisputable, as
you say, we utterly deny. Your parliament never had a right to govern
us, and your king has forfeited it by his bloody tyranny. But I thank
you for letting me know a little of your mind, that even if the
Parliament should acknowledge our independence, the act would not be
binding to posterity, and that your nation would resume and prosecute
the claim as soon as they found it convenient from the influence of your
passions and your present malice against us. We suspected before that
you would not be bound by your conciliatory acts longer than till they
had served their purpose of inducing us to disband our forces; but we
were not certain that you were knaves by principle, and that we ought
not to have the least confidence in your offers, promises, or treaties,
though confirmed by Parliament. I now indeed recollect my being
informed, long since, when in England, that a certain very great
personage, then young, studied much a certain book, entitled _Arcana
imperii_ [_Secrets of governing_]. I had the curiosity to procure the
book and read it. There are sensible and good things in it, but some bad
ones; for, if I remember right, a particular king is applauded for his
politically exciting a rebellion among his subjects at a time when they
had not strength to support it, that he might, in subduing them, take
away their privileges which were troublesome to him: and a question is
formally stated and discussed, _Whether a prince, to appease a revolt,
makes promises of indemnity to the revolters, is obliged to fulfil those
promises?_ Honest and good men would say ay; but this politician says as
you say, no. And he gives this pretty reason, that though it was right
to make the promises, because otherwise the revolt would not be
suppressed, yet it would be wrong to keep them, because revolters ought
to be punished to deter future revolts. If these are the principles of
your nation, no confidence can be placed in you; it is in vain to treat
with you, and the wars can only end in being reduced to an utter
inability of continuing them.

"One main drift of your letter seems to be to impress me with an idea of
your own impartiality, by just censures of your ministers and measures,
and to draw from me propositions of peace, or approbations of those you
have enclosed me, which you intimate may by your means be conveyed to
the king directly, without the intervention of those ministers. Would
you have me give them to, or drop them for a stranger I may find next
Monday in the Church of Notre Dame, to be known by a rose in his hat?
You yourself, sir, are quite unknown to me; you have not trusted me with
your right name. Our taking the least step towards a treaty with
England, through you, might, if you are an enemy, be made use of to ruin
us with our new and good friends. I may be indiscreet enough in many
things, but certainly, if I were disposed to make propositions (which I
cannot do, having none committed to me to make), I should never think of
delivering them to the Lord knows who, to be carried the Lord knows
where, to serve no one knows what purposes. Being at this time one of
the most remarkable figures in Paris, even my appearance in the Church
of Notre Dame, where I cannot have any conceivable business, and
especially being seen to leave or drop any letter to any person there
would be a matter of some speculation, and might, from the suspicions it
must naturally give, have very mischievous consequences to our credit
here. The very proposing of a correspondence so to be managed, in a
manner not necessary where _fair dealing_ is intended, gives just reason
to suppose you intend the _contrary_. Besides, as your court has sent
commissioners to treat with the Congress, with all the powers that would
be given them by the crown under the act of Parliament, what _good
purpose_ can be served by privately obtaining propositions from us?
Before those commissioners went, we might have treated in virtue of our
general powers (with the knowledge, advice, and approbation of our
friends), upon any propositions made to us. But, under the present
circumstances, for us to make propositions while a treaty is supposed to
be actually on foot with the Congress, would be extremely improper,
highly presumptuous with regard to our honourable constituents, and
answer no good end whatever.

"I write this letter to you, notwithstanding (which I think I can convey
in a less mysterious manner; and guess it may come to your hands); I
write it because I would let you know our sense of your procedure, which
appears as insidious as that of your conciliatory bills. Your true way
to obtain peace, if your ministers desire it, is to propose openly to
the Congress fair and equal terms; and you may possibly come sooner to
such a resolution, when you find that personal flatteries, general
cajolings, and panegyrics on our _virtue_ and _wisdom_ are not likely to
have the effect you seem to expect; the persuading us to act _basely_
and _foolishly_ in betraying our country and posterity into the hands
of our most bitter enemies; giving up or selling of our arms and
warlike stores, dismissing our ships of war and troops, and putting
those enemies in possession of our forts and ports. This proposition of
delivering ourselves, bound and gagged, ready for hanging, without even
a right to complain, and without even a friend to be found afterward
among all mankind, you would have us embrace on the faith of an act of
Parliament! Good God! an act of your Parliament! This demonstrates that
you do not yet know us, and that you fancy we do not know you: but it is
not merely this flimsy faith that we are to act upon; you offer us
_hope_, the hope of PLACES, PENSIONS, and PEERAGE. These, judging from
yourselves, you think are motives irresistible. This offer to corrupt
us, sir, is with me your credential, and convinces me that you are not a
private volunteer in your application. It bears the stamp of British
court intrigue, and the signature of your king. But think for a moment
in what light it must be viewed in America. By places which cannot come
among us, for you take care by a special article to keep them to
yourselves. We must then pay the salaries in order to enrich ourselves
with these places. But you will give us PENSIONS; probably to be paid,
too, out of your expected American revenue; and which none of us can
accept without deserving, and, perhaps, obtaining a _suspension_.
PEERAGES! Alas! sir, our long observation of the vast servile majority
of your peers, voting constantly for every measure proposed by a
minister, however weak or wicked, leaves us small respect for them, and
we consider it a sort of tar-and-feathered honour, or a mixture of
foulness and folly; which every man among us who should accept from your
king, would be obliged to renounce or exchange for that conferred by the
mobs of their own country, or wear it with everlasting shame.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Dr. Price, London._

                                             "Passy, February 6, 1780.


"I received but very lately your kind favour of October 14. Dr.
Ingenhausz, who brought it, having stayed long in Holland. I sent the
enclosed directly to Mr. L. It gave me great pleasure to understand that
you continue well. Your writings, after all the abuse you and they have
met with, begin to make serious impressions on those who at first
rejected the counsels you gave; and they will acquire new weight every
day, and be in high esteem when the cavils against them are dead and
forgotten. Please to present my affectionate respects to that honest,
sensible, and intelligent society, who did me so long the honour of
admitting me to share in their instructive conversations. I never think
of the hours I so happily spent in that company, without regretting that
they are never to be repeated; for I see no prospect of an end to this
unhappy war in my time. Dr. Priestley, you tell me, continues his
experiments with success. We make daily great improvements in
_natural_--there is one I wish to see in _moral_ philosophy; the
discovery of a plan that would induce and oblige nations to settle their
disputes without first cutting one another's throats. When will human
reason be sufficiently improved to see the advantage of this? When will
men be convinced that even successful wars at length become misfortunes
to those who unjustly commenced them, and who triumphed blindly in their
success, not seeing all its consequences. Your great comfort and mine in
this war is, that we honestly and faithfully did everything in our power
to prevent it. Adieu, and believe me ever, my dear friend, yours, &c.,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Dr. Priestley._

                                             "Passy, February 8, 1780.


"Your kind letter of September 27 came to hand but very lately, the
bearer having stayed long in Holland.

"I always rejoice to hear of your being still employed in experimental
researches into nature, and of the success you meet with. The rapid
progress _true_ science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes
that I was born so soon: it is impossible to imagine the height to which
may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter; we
may perhaps learn to deprive large masses of their gravity, and give
them absolute levity for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may
diminish its labour and double its produce; all diseases may by sure
means be prevented or cured (not excepting even that of old age), and
our lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian standard.
Oh! that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement; that men
would cease to be wolves to one another; and that human beings would at
length learn what they now improperly call humanity!

"I am glad that my little paper on the Aurora Borealis pleased. If it
should occasion farther inquiry, and so produce a better hypothesis, it
will not be wholly useless.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

     [Enclosed in the foregoing letter; being an answer to a separate
     paper received from Dr. Priestley]

"I have considered the situation of that person very attentively; I
think that, with a little help from the _Moral Algebra_, he might form
a better judgment than any other person can form for him. But, since my
opinion seems to be desired, I give it for continuing to the end of the
term, under all the present disagreeable circumstances: the connexion
will then die a natural death. No reason will be expected to be given
for the separation, and, of course, no offence taken at reasons given;
the friendship may still subsist, and, in some other way, be useful. The
time diminishes daily, and is usefully employed. All human situations
have their inconveniences; we _feel_ those that we find in the present,
and we neither _feel_ nor _see_ those that exist in another. Hence we
make frequent and troublesome changes without amendment, and often for
the worse. In my youth, I was passenger in a little sloop descending the
river Delaware. There being no wind, we were obliged, when the ebb was
spent, to cast anchor and wait for the next. The heat of the sun on the
vessel was excessive, the company strangers to me, and not very
agreeable. Near the river-side I saw what I took to be a pleasant green
meadow, in the middle of which was a large shady tree, where it struck
my fancy I could sit and read (having a book in my pocket), and pass the
time agreeably till the tide turned; I therefore prevailed with the
captain to put me ashore. Being landed, I found the greatest part of my
meadow was really a marsh, in crossing which, to come at my tree, I was
up to my knees in mire: and I had not placed myself under its shade five
minutes before the moschetoes in swarms found me out, attacked my legs,
hands, and face, and made my reading and my rest impossible; so that I
returned to the beach, and called for the boat to come and take me on
board again, where I was obliged to bear the heat I had strove to quit,
and also the laugh of the company. Similar cases in the affairs of life
have since frequently fallen under my observation.

"I have had thoughts of a college for him in America; I know no one who
might be more useful to the public in the institution of youth. But
there are possible unpleasantnesses in that situation: it cannot be
obtained but by a too hazardous voyage at this time for a family: and
the time for experiments would be all otherwise engaged.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To General Washington._

                                             "Passy, March 5, 1780


"I received but lately the letter your excellency did me the honour of
writing to me in recommendation of the Marquis de Lafayette. His modesty
detained it long in his own hands. We became acquainted, however, from
the time of his arrival at Paris; and his zeal for the honour of our
country, his activity in our affairs here, and his firm attachment to
our cause and to you, impressed me with the same regard and esteem for
him that your excellency's letter would have done had it been
immediately delivered to me.

"Should peace arrive after another campaign or two, and afford us a
little leisure, I should be happy to see your excellency in Europe, and
to accompany you, if my age and strength would permit, in visiting some
of its most ancient and famous kingdoms. You would, on this side the
sea, enjoy the great reputation you have acquired, pure and free from
those little shades that the jealousy and envy of a man's countrymen and
contemporaries are ever endeavouring to cast over living merit. Here you
would know and enjoy what posterity will say of Washington. For a
thousand leagues have nearly the same effect with a thousand years. The
feeble voice of those grovelling passions cannot extend so far either
in time or distance. At present I enjoy that pleasure for you, as I
frequently hear the old generals of this martial country (who study the
maps of America, and mark upon them all your operations) speak with
sincere approbation and great applause of your conduct, and join in
giving you the character of one of the greatest captains of the age.

"I must soon quit the scene, but you may live to see our country
flourish, as it will amazingly and rapidly after the war is over. Like a
field of young Indian corn, which long fair weather and sunshine had
enfeebled and discoloured, and which in that weak state, by a
thunder-gust of violent wind, hail, and rain, seemed to be threatened
with absolute destruction; yet the storm being past, it recovers fresh
verdure, shoots up with double vigour, and delights the eye not of its
owner only, but of every observing traveller.

"The best wishes that can be formed for your health, honour, and
happiness, ever attend you, from yours, &c.,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To M. Court de Gebelin,[22] Paris._

     [22] Antoine Court de Gebelin, born at Nismes in 1725, became a
     minister of a Protestant communion in the Cevennes, then at
     Lausanne: he quitted the clerical function for literature, at
     Paris, where he acquired so great a reputation as an antiquary and
     philosopher that he was appointed to attend one of the museums. His
     reputation suffered by his zeal in favour of animal magnetism. He
     died at Paris, May 13, 1784. His great work is entitled, "Monde
     Primitif, analysé et comparé avec le Monde Moderne," 9 tom. 4to.
     The excellence of his character may be appreciated from the fact,
     that, on quitting Switzerland, he voluntarily gave to his sister
     the principal part of his patrimony, reserving but little for
     himself, and relying for a maintenance upon the exercise of his

                                             "Passy, May 7, 1781.


"I am glad the little book[23] proved acceptable. It does not appear to
me intended for a grammar to teach the language. It is rather what we
call in English a _spelling-book_, in which the only method observed is
to arrange the words according to their number of syllables, placing
those of one syllable together, and those of two syllables, and so on.
And it is to be observed that _Sa ki ma_, for instance, is not three
words, but one word of three syllables; and the reason that _hyphens_
are not placed between the syllables is, that the printer had not enough
of them.

     [23] A Vocabulary of the Language of one of the Indian Tribes in
     North America.

"As the Indians had no letters, they had no orthography. The Delaware
language being differently spelt from the Virginian, may not always
arise from a difference in the languages; for strangers who learn the
language of an Indian nation, finding no orthography, are at liberty, in
writing the language, to use such compositions of letters as they think
will best produce the sounds of the words. I have observed that our
Europeans of different nations, who learn the same Indian language,
form each his own orthography according to the usual sounds given to
the letters in his own language. Thus the same words of the Mohock
language written by an English, a French, and a German interpreter,
often differ very much in the spelling; and without knowing the usual
powers of the letters in the language of the interpreter, one cannot
come at the pronunciation of the Indian words. The spelling-book in
question was, I think, written by a German.

"You mention a Virginian Bible. Is it not the Bible of the Massachusetts
language, translated by Elliot, and printed in New-England about the
middle of the last century? I know this Bible, but have never heard of
one in the Virginian language. Your observation of the similitude
between many of the words and those of the ancient world, are indeed
very curious.

"This inscription, which you find to be Phoenician, is, I think, near
_Taunton_ (not Jannston, as you write it). There is some account of it
in the old Philosophical Transactions; I have never been at the place,
but shall be glad to see your remarks on it.

"The compass appears to have been long known in China before it was
known in Europe; unless we suppose it known to Homer, who makes the
prince that lent ships to Ulysses boast that they had a _spirit_ in
them, by whose directions they could find their way in a cloudy day or
the darkest night. If any Phoenicians arrived in America, I should
rather think it was not by the accident of a storm, but in the course of
their long and adventurous voyages; and that they coasted from Denmark
and Norway, over to Greenland, and down southward by Newfoundland, Nova
Scotia, &c., to New-England, as the Danes themselves certainly did some
ages before Columbus.

"Our new American society will be happy in the correspondence you
mention; and when it is possible for me, I shall be glad to attend the
meetings of your society,[24] which I am sure must be very instructive.

     [24] L'Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Letters.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Francis Hopkinson, Philadelphia._

                                             "Passy, September 13, 1781.


"I have received your kind letter of July 17, with its duplicate,
enclosing those for Messrs. Brandlight and Sons, which I have forwarded.
I am sorry for the loss of the _squibs_. Everything of yours gives me

"As to the friends and enemies you just mention, I have hitherto, thanks
to God, had plenty of the former kind; they have been my treasure; and
it has, perhaps, been of no disadvantage to me that I have had a few of
the latter. They serve to put us upon correcting the faults we have, and
avoiding those we are in danger of having. They counter-act the mischief
flattery might do us, and their malicious attacks make our friends more
zealous in serving us and promoting our interest. At present I do not
know of more than two such enemies that I enjoy, viz., *** and ***. I
deserved the enmity of the latter, because I might have avoided it by
paying him a compliment, which I neglected. That to the former I owe to
the people of France, who happened to respect me too much and him too
little; which I could bear, and he could not. They are unhappy that they
cannot make everybody hate me as much as they do; and I should be so if
my friends did not love me much more than those gentlemen can possibly
love one another.

"Enough of this subject. Let me know if you are in possession of my
gimcrack instruments, and if you have made any new experiments. I lent,
many years ago, a large glass globe, mounted, to Mr. Coombe, and an
electric battery of bottles, which I remember; perhaps there were some
other things. He may have had them so long as to think them his own.
Pray ask him for them, and keep them for me, together with the rest.

"You have a new crop of prose writers. I see in your papers many of
their fictitious names, but nobody tells me the real. You will oblige me
by a little of your literary history. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe
me ever, yours affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Francis Hopkinson._

                                             "Paris, Dec 24, 1782.

"I thank you for your ingenious paper in favour of the trees. I own I
now wish we had two rows of them in every one of our streets. The
comfortable shelter they would afford us when walking from our burning
summer suns, and the greater coolness of our walls and pavements, would,
I conceive, in the improved health of the inhabitants, amply compensate
the loss of a house now and then by fire, if such should be the
consequence; but a tree is soon felled, and, as axes are near at hand in
every neighbourhood, may be down before the engines arrive.

"You do well to avoid being concerned in the pieces of personal abuse,
so scandalously common in our newspapers, that I am afraid to lend any
of them here till I have examined and laid aside such as would disgrace
us, and subject us among strangers to a reflection like that used by a
gentleman in a coffee-house to two quarrellers, who, after a mutually
free use of the words rogue, villain, rascal scoundrel, &c., seemed as
if they would refer their dispute to him: 'I know nothing of you or your
affairs,' said he; 'I only perceive _that you know one another_.'

"The conductor of a newspaper should, methinks, consider himself as in
some degree the guardian of his country's reputation, and refuse to
insert such writings as may hurt it. If people will print their abuses
of one another, let them do it in little pamphlets, and distribute them
where they think proper. It is absurd to trouble all the world with
them, and unjust to subscribers in distant places, to stuff their paper
with matter so unprofitable and so disagreeable. With sincere esteem and
affection, I am, my dear friend, ever yours,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Samuel Huntingdon, President of Congress._

                                             "Passy, March 12, 1781.


I had the honour of receiving, on the 13th of last month, your
excellency's letter of the 1st of January, together with the
instructions of November 28th and December 27th, a copy of those to
Colonel Laurens, and the letter to the king. I immediately drew up a
memorial, enforcing as strongly as I could the request contained in that
letter, and directed by the instructions, and delivered the same with
the letter, which were both well received. * * *

"I must now beg leave to say something relating to myself, a subject
with which I have not often troubled the Congress. I have passed my
seventy-fifth year, and I find that the long and severe fit of the gout
which I had the last winter has shaken me exceedingly, and I am yet far
from having recovered the bodily strength I before enjoyed. I do not
know that my mental faculties are impaired. Perhaps I shall be the last
to discover that; but I am sensible of great diminution in my activity,
a quality I think particularly necessary in your minister at this court.
I am afraid, therefore, that your affairs may some time or other suffer
by my deficiency. I find also that the business is too heavy for me, and
too confining. The constant attendance at home, which is necessary for
receiving and accepting your bills of exchange (a matter foreign to my
_ministerial functions_), to answer letters, and perform other parts of
my employment, prevents my taking the air and exercise which my annual
journeys formerly used to afford me, and which contributed much to the
preservation of my health. There are many other little personal
attentions which the infirmities of age render necessary to an old man's
comfort, even in some degree to the continuance of his existence, and
with which business often interferes. I have been engaged in public
affairs, and enjoyed public confidence in some shape or other during the
long term of fifty years, an honour sufficient to satisfy any reasonable
ambition, and I have no other left but that of repose, which I hope the
Congress will grant me by sending some person to supply my place.

"At the same time, I beg they may be assured that it is not any the
least doubt of their success in the glorious cause, nor any disgust
received in their service, that induces me to decline it, but purely and
simply the reasons above mentioned; and as I cannot at present undergo
the fatigues of a sea voyage (the last having been almost too much for
me), and would not again expose myself to the hazard of capture and
imprisonment in this time of war, I purpose to remain here at least till
the peace; perhaps it may be for the remainder of my life; and if any
knowledge or experience I have acquired here may be thought of use to my
successor, I shall freely communicate it, and assist him with any
influence I may be supposed to have or counsel that may be desired of

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To the Bishop of St. Asaph._[25]

     [25] Jonathan Shipley took his degrees at Christ Church, and in
     1743 was made prebendary of Winchester. After travelling in 1745
     with the Duke of Cumberland, he was promoted in 1749 to a canonry
     at Christ Church, became dean of Winchester in 1760, and 1769
     bishop of St. Asaph. He was author of some elegant verses on the
     death of Queen Caroline, and published besides some poems and
     sermons, and died 1788. He was an ardent friend of American

                                             "Passy, June 10, 1782.

"I received and read the letter from my dear and much respected friend
with infinite pleasure. After so long a silence, and the long
continuance of its unfortunate causes, a line from you was a prognostic
of happier times approaching, when we may converse and communicate
freely, without danger from the malevolence of men enraged by the
ill-success of their distracted projects.

"I long with you for the return of peace, on the general principles of
humanity. The hope of being able to pass a few more of my last days
happily in the sweet conversations and company I once enjoyed at
Twyford,[26] is a particular motive that adds strength to the general
wish, and quickens my industry to procure that best of blessings. After
much occasion to consider the folly and mischiefs of a state of warfare,
and the little or no advantage obtained even by those nations who have
conducted it with the most success, I have been apt to think that there
has never been, nor ever will be, any such thing as a _good_ war or a
_bad_ peace.

     [26] The country residence of the bishop.

"You ask if I still relish my old studies? I relish them, but I cannot
pursue them. My time is engrossed, unhappily, with other concerns. I
requested from the Congress last year my discharge from this public
station, that I might enjoy a little leisure in the evening of a long
life of business; but it was refused me, and I have been obliged to
drudge on a little longer.

"You are happy, as your years come on, in having that dear and most
amiable family about you. Four daughters! how rich! I have but one, and
she necessarily detained from me at a thousand leagues' distance. I feel
the want of that tender care of me which might be expected from a
daughter, and would give the world for one. Your shades are all placed
in a row over my fireplace, so that I not only have you always in my
mind, but constantly before my eyes.

"The cause of liberty and America has been greatly obliged to you. I
hope you will live long to see that country flourish under its new
constitution, which I am sure will give you great pleasure. Will you
permit me to express another hope that, now your friends are in power,
they will take the first opportunity of showing the sense they ought to
have of your virtues and your merit?

"Please to make my best respects acceptable to Mrs. Shipley, and embrace
for me tenderly all our dear children. With the utmost esteem, respect,
and veneration, I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Miss Alexander._

                                             "Passy, June 27, 1782.

"I am not at all displeased that the thesis and dedication with which we
were threatened are blown over, for I dislike much all sorts of mummery.
The republic of letters has gained no reputation, whatever else it may
have gained, by the commerce of dedications; I never made one, and
never desired that one should be made to me. When I submitted to receive
this, it was from the bad habit I have long had, of doing everything
that ladies desire me to do: there is no refusing anything to Madame la
Marck nor to you.

"I have been to pay my respects to that amiable lady, not merely because
it was a compliment due to her, but because I love her: which induces me
to excuse her not letting me in; the same reason I should have for
excusing your faults, if you had any. I have not seen your papa since
the receipt of your pleasing letter, so could arrange nothing with him
respecting the carriage. During seven or eight days I shall be very
busy; after that, you shall hear from me, and the carriage shall be at
your service. How could you think of writing to me about chimneys and
fires in such weather as this! Now is the time for the frugal lady you
mention to save her wood, obtain _plus de chaleur_, and lay it up
against winter, as people do ice against summer. Frugality is an
enriching virtue, a virtue I never could acquire in myself, but I was
once lucky enough to find it in a wife, who thereby became a fortune to
me. Do you possess it? If you do, and I were twenty years younger, I
would give your father one thousand guineas for you. I know you would be
worth more to me as a _menagére_. I am covetous, and love good bargains.
Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Benjamin Vaughan._

                                             "Passy, July 10, 1782.

"By the original law of nations, war and extirpation was the punishment
of injury. Humanizing by degrees, it admitted slavery instead of death.
A farther step was the exchange of prisoners instead of slavery.
Another, to respect more the property of private persons under conquest,
and to be content with acquired dominion. Why should not the law of
nations go on improving? Ages have intervened between its several steps;
but, as knowledge of late increases rapidly, why should not those steps
be quickened? Why should it not be agreed to as the future law of
nations, that in any war hereafter the following descriptions of men
should be undisturbed, have the protection of both sides, and be
permitted to follow their employments in surety; viz.,

"1. Cultivators of the earth, because they labour for the subsistence of

"2. Fishermen, for the same reason.

"3. Merchants and traders in unarmed ships, who accommodate different
nations by communicating and exchanging the necessaries and conveniences
of life.

"4. Artists and mechanics, inhabiting and working in open towns.

"It is hardly necessary to add, that the hospitals of enemies should be
unmolested; they ought to be assisted.

"In short, I would have nobody fought with but those who are paid for
fighting. If obliged to take corn from the farmer, friend or enemy, I
would pay him for it; the same for the fish or goods of the others.

"This once established, that encouragement to war which arises from a
spirit of rapine would be taken away, and peace, therefore, more likely
to continue and be lasting.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mrs. Hewson._[27]

     [27] Widow of the eminent anatomist of that name, and formerly Miss
     Stevenson, to whom several of Dr. Franklin's letters on
     Philosophical subjects are addressed.

                                             "Passy, January 27, 1783.

"The departure of my dearest friend,[28] which I learn from your last
letter, greatly affects me. To meet with her once more in this life was
one of the principal motives of my proposing to visit England again
before my return to America. The last year carried off my friends Dr.
Pringle and Dr. Fothergill, and Lord Kaimes and Lord Le Despencer; this
has begun to take away the rest, and strikes the hardest. Thus the ties
I had to that country, and, indeed, to the world in general, are
loosened one by one, and I shall soon have no attachment left to make me
unwilling to follow.

     [28] Refers to Mrs. Hewson's mother.

"I intended writing when I sent the eleven books, but lost the time in
looking for the first. I wrote with that, and hope it came to hand. I
therein asked your counsel about my coming to England: on reflection, I
think I can, from my knowledge of your prudence, foresee what it will
be; viz., not to come too soon, lest it should seem braving and
insulting some who ought to be respected. I shall therefore omit that
journey till I am near going to America, and then just step over to take
leave of my friends, and spend a few days with you. I purpose
bringing[29] Ben with me, and perhaps may leave him under your care.

     [29] Benjamin Franklin Bache, a grandson of Dr. Franklin, by his
     daughter Sarah; he was the first editor of the AURORA at
     Philadelphia: died of yellow fever in September, 1798.

"At length we are in peace, God be praised; and long, very long may it
continue. All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous
ones: when will mankind be convinced of this, and agree to settle their
differences by arbitration? Were they to do it even by the cast of a
die, it would be better than by fighting and destroying each other.

"Spring is coming on, when travelling will be delightful. Can you not,
when your children are all at school, make a little party and take a
trip hither? I have now a large house, delightfully situated, in which I
could accommodate you and two or three friends; and I am but half an
hour's drive from Paris.

"In looking forward, twenty five years seems a long period; but in
looking back, how short! Could you imagine that 'tis now full a quarter
of a century since we were first acquainted! it was in 1757. During the
greatest part of the time I lived in the same house with my dear
deceased friend your mother; of course you and I saw and conversed with
each other much and often. It is to all our honours, that in all that
time we never had among us the smallest misunderstanding. Our friendship
has been all clear sunshine, without the least cloud in its hemisphere.
Let me conclude by saying to you what I have had too frequent occasion
to say to my other remaining old friends, _the fewer we become, the more
let us love one another_.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To David Hartley._

                                             "Passy, May 8, 1783.


"I send you enclosed the copies you desired of the papers I read to you
yesterday.[30] I should be happy if I could see, before I die, the
proposed improvement of the law of nations established. The miseries of
mankind would be diminished by it, and the happiness of millions secured
and promoted. If the practice of _privateering_ could be profitable to
any civilized nation, it might be so to us Americans, since we are so
situated on the globe as that the rich commerce of Europe with the West
Indies, consisting of manufactures, sugars, &c., is obliged to pass
before our doors, which enables us to make short and cheap cruises,
while our own commerce is in such bulky, low-priced articles, as that
ten of our ships taken by you are not equal in value to one of yours,
and you must come far from home at a great expense to look for them. I
hope, therefore, that this proposition, if made by us, will appear in
its true light, as having humanity only for its motive. I do not wish to
see a new Barbary rising in America, and our long-extended coast
occupied by piratical states. I fear lest our privateering success in
the last two wars should already have given our people too strong a
relish for that most mischievous kind of gaming, mixed blood; and if a
stop is not now put to the practice, mankind may hereafter be more
plagued with American corsairs than they have been and are with the
Turkish. Try, my friend, what you can do in procuring for your nation
the glory of being, though the greatest naval power, the first who
voluntarily relinquished the advantage that power seems to give them, of
plundering others, and thereby impeding the mutual communications among
men of the gifts of God, and rendering miserable multitudes of merchants
and their families, artisans, and cultivators of the earth, the most
peaceable and innocent part of the human species.

     [30] See the Proposition about Privateering, annexed to letter to
     R. Oswald. January 14, 1783.

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Dr. Percival._

                                             "Passy, July 17, 1784.


"I received yesterday, by Mr. White, your kind letter of May 11th, with
the most agreeable present of your new book. I read it all before I
slept, which is a proof of the good effects your happy manner has of
drawing your reader on, by mixing little anecdotes and historical facts
with your instructions. Be pleased to accept my grateful acknowledgments
for the pleasure it has afforded me.

"It is astonishing that the murderous practice of duelling, which you so
justly condemn, should continue so long in vogue. Formerly, when duels
were used to determine lawsuits, from an opinion that Providence would
in every instance favour truth and right with victory, they were
excusable. At present they decide nothing. A man says something which
another tells him is a lie. They fight; but, whichever is killed, the
point in dispute remains unsettled. * * * How can such miserable sinners
as we are entertain so much pride as to conceit that every offence
against our imagined honour merits _death_? These petty princes, in
their own opinion, would call that sovereign a tyrant who would put one
of them to death for a little uncivil language, though pointed at his
sacred person: yet every one of them makes himself judge in his own
cause, condemns the offender without a jury, and undertakes himself to
be the executioner.

"With sincere and great esteem, I have the honour to be, sir, your most
obedient and humble servant,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Sir Joseph Banks._

                                            "Passy, July 27, 1783.


"I received your very kind letter by Dr. Blagden, and esteem myself much
honoured by your friendly remembrance. I have been too much and too
closely engaged in public affairs since his being here to enjoy all the
benefit of his conversation you were so good as to intend me. I hope
soon to have more leisure, and to spend a part of it in those studies
that are much more agreeable to me than political operations.

"I join with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of peace. I
hope it will be lasting, and that mankind will at length, as they call
themselves reasonable creatures, have reason and sense enough to settle
their differences without cutting throats: for, in my opinion, _there
never was a good war nor a bad peace_. What vast additions to the
conveniences and comforts of living might mankind have acquired, if the
money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility. What
an extension of agriculture even to the tops of our mountains; what
rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, aqueducts,
new roads, and other public works, edifices and improvements, rendering
England a complete paradise, might not have been obtained, by spending
those millions in doing good which in the last war have been spent in
doing mischief; in bringing misery into thousands of families, and
destroying the lives of so many thousands of working people, who might
have performed the useful labour!

"I am pleased with the late astronomical discoveries made by our
society. Furnished as all Europe now is with academies of science, with
nice instruments and the spirit of experiment, the progress of human
knowledge will be rapid, and discoveries made of which we have at
present no conception. I begin to be almost sorry I was born so soon,
since I cannot have the happiness of knowing what will be known one
hundred years hence.

"I wish continued success to the labours of the Royal Society, and that
you may long adorn their chair; being, with the highest esteem, dear
sir, &c.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

"Dr. Blagden will acquaint you with the experiment of a vast globe sent
up into the air, much talked of here, and which, if prosecuted, may
furnish means of new knowledge."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Robert Morris, Esq._

(Superintendent of Finances, United States.)

                                            "Passy, Dec. 25, 1783.

"The remissness of our people in paying taxes is highly blameable, the
unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see in some resolutions of
town meetings a remonstrance against giving Congress a power to take, as
they call it, _the people's money_ out of their pockets, though only to
pay the interest and principal of debts duly contracted. They seem to
mistake the point. Money justly due from the people is their creditor's
money, and no longer the money of the people, who, if they withhold it,
should be compelled to pay by some law. All property, indeed, except the
savages' temporary cabin, his bow, his matchuat, and other little
acquisitions absolutely necessary for his subsistence, seems to me to be
the creature of public convention. Hence the public has the right of
regulating descents, and all other conveyances of property, and even of
limiting the quantity and the uses of it. All the property that is
necessary to a man for the conservation of the individual and the
propagation of the species, is his natural right, which none can justly
deprive him of; but all property superfluous to such purposes is the
property of the public, who, by their laws, have created it, and who may
therefore, by other laws, dispose of it whenever the welfare of the
public shall desire such disposition. He that does not like civil
society on these terms, let him retire and live among savages. He can
have no right to the benefits of society who will not pay his club
towards the support of it.

"The Marquis de Lafayette, who loves to be employed in our affairs, and
is often very useful, has lately had several conversations with the
ministers and persons concerned in forming new regulations respecting
the commerce between our two countries, which are not yet concluded. I
thought it therefore, well to communicate to him a copy of your letter
which contains so many sensible and just observations on that subject.
He will make a proper use of them, and perhaps they may have more
weight, as appearing to come from a Frenchman, than they would have if
it were known that they were the observations of an American. I
perfectly agree with all the sentiments you have expressed on this

"I am sorry, for the public's sake, that you are about to quit your
office, but on personal considerations I shall congratulate you. For I
cannot conceive of a more happy man than he who, having been long loaded
with public cares, finds himself relieved from them, and enjoying
private repose in the bosom of his friends and family.

"With sincere regard and attachment, I am ever, dear sir, yours, &c.,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Dr. Mather, Boston._

                                             "Passy, May 12, 1784.


"I received your kind letter with your excellent advice to the people of
the United States, which I read with great pleasure, and hope it will be
duly regarded. Such writings, though they may be lightly passed over by
many readers, yet if they make a deep impression on one active mind in a
hundred, the effects may be considerable. Permit me to mention one
little instance, which, though it relates to myself, will not be quite
uninteresting to you. When I was a boy I met with a book entitled
_Essays to do Good_, which I think was written by your father. It had
been so little regarded by a former possessor, that several leaves of it
were torn out: but the remainder gave me such a turn of thinking as to
have an influence on my conduct through life; for I have always set a
greater value on the character of a _doer of good_, than on any other
kind of reputation; and if I have been, as you seem to think, a useful
citizen, the public owes the advantage of it to that book. You mention
your being in your 78th year: I am in my 79th; we are grown old
together. It is now more than sixty years since I left Boston, but I
remember well both your father and grandfather, having heard them both
in the pulpit, and seen them in their houses. The last time I saw your
father was in the beginning of 1724, when I visited him after my first
trip to Pennsylvania. He received me in his library, and on my taking
leave showed me a shorter way out of the house through a narrow passage,
which crossed by a beam over head. We were still talking as I withdrew,
he accompanying me behind, and I turning partly towards him, when he
said hastily, _Stoop, stoop!_ I did not understand him till I felt my
head hit against the beam. He was a man that never missed any occasion
of giving instruction, and upon this he said to me, _You are young, and
have the world before you_; STOOP _as you go through it, and you will
miss many hard thumps_. This advice, thus beat into my head, has
frequently been of use to me; and I often think of it when I see pride
mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their
heads too high.

"I long much to see again my native place, and to lay my bones there. I
left it in 1723; I visited it in 1733, 1743, 1753, and 1763. In 1773 I
was in England; in 1775 I had a sight of it, but could not enter, it
being in possession of the enemy. I did hope to have been there in 1783,
but could not obtain my dismission from this employment here; and now I
fear I shall never have that happiness. My best wishes, however, attend
my dear country. _Esto perpetua_. It is now blessed with an excellent
constitution; may it last for ever! * * *

"With great and sincere esteem, I have the honour to be, &c.,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To William Strahan, M. P._

                                             "Passy, August 19, 1784.


"I received your kind letter of April 17. You will have the goodness to
place my delay in answering to the account of indisposition and
business, and excuse it. I have now that letter before me; and my
grandson, whom you may formerly remember a little scholar at Mr.
Elphinston's, purposing to set out in a day or two on a visit to his
father in London, I sit down to scribble a little to you, first
recommending him as a worthy young man to your civilities and counsels.

"You press me much to come to England. I am not without strong
inducements to do so; the fund of knowledge you promise to communicate
to me is, in addition to them, no small one. At present it is
impracticable. But when my grandson returns, come with him. We will talk
the matter over, and perhaps you may take me back with you. I have a bed
at your service, and will try to make your residence, while you can stay
with us, as agreeable to you, if possible, as I am sure it will be to

"You do not 'approve the annihilation of profitable places; for you do
not see why a statesman who does his business well should not be paid
for his labour as well as any other workman.' Agreed. But why more than
any other workman? The less the salary the greater the honour. In so
great a nation there are many rich enough to afford giving their time to
the public; and there are, I make no doubt, many wise and able men who
would take as much pleasure in governing for nothing, as they do in
playing of chess for nothing. It would be one of the noblest amusements.
That this opinion is not chimerical, the country I now live in affords a
proof; its whole civil and criminal law administration being done for
nothing, or, in some sense, for less than nothing, since the members of
its judiciary parliaments buy their places, and do not make more than
three per cent. for their money by their fees and emoluments, while the
legal interest is five; so that, in fact, they give two per cent. to be
allowed to govern, and all their time and trouble into the bargain. Thus
_profit_, one motive for desiring place, being abolished, there remains
only _ambition_; and that being in some degree balanced by _loss_, you
may easily conceive that there will not be very violent factions and
contentions for such places; nor much of the mischief to the country
that attends your factions, which have often occasioned wars, and
overloaded you with debts impayable.

"I allow you all the force of your joke upon the vagrancy of our
Congress. They have a right to sit _where_ they please, of which,
perhaps, they have made too much use by shifting too often. But they
have two other rights; those of sitting _when_ they please and as _long_
as they please, in which, methinks, they have the advantage of your
Parliament; for they cannot be dissolved by the breath of a minister, or
sent packing, as you were the other day, when it was your earnest desire
to have remained longer together.

"You 'fairly acknowledge that the late war terminated quite contrary to
your expectation.' Your expectation was ill-founded; for you would not
believe your old friend, who told you repeatedly, that by those measures
England would lose her colonies, as Epictetus warned in vain his master
that he would break his leg. You believed rather the tales you heard of
our poltroonery and impotence of body and mind. Do you not remember the
story you told me of the Scotch sergeant who met with a party of forty
American soldiers, and, though alone, disarmed them all and brought them
in prisoners? a story almost as improbable as that of an Irishman, who
pretended to have alone taken and brought in five of the enemy by
_surrounding_ them. And yet, my friend, sensible and judicious as you
are, but partaking of the general infatuation, you seemed to believe it.
The word _general_ puts me in mind of a general, your General Clarke,
who had the folly to say in my hearing, at Sir John Pringle's, that with
a thousand British grenadiers he would undertake to go from one end of
America to the other, and geld all the males, partly by force and partly
by a little coaxing. It is plain he took us for a species of animals
very little superior to brutes. The Parliament, too, believed the
stories of another foolish general, I forget his name, that the Yankees
never _felt bold_. Yankee was understood to be a sort of Yahoo, and the
Parliament did not think the petitions of such creatures were fit to be
received and read in so wise an assembly. What was the consequence of
this monstrous pride and insolence? You first sent small armies to
subdue us, believing them more than sufficient, but soon found
yourselves obliged to send greater; these, whenever they ventured to
penetrate our country beyond the protection of their ships, were ether
repulsed and obliged to scamper out, or were surrounded, beaten, and
taken prisoners. An American planter, who had never seen Europe, was
chosen by us to command our troops, and continued during the whole war.
This man sent home to you, one after another, five of your best generals
baffled, their heads bare of laurels, disgraced even in the opinion of
their employers. Your contempt of our understandings, in comparison with
your own, appeared to be much better founded than that of our courage,
if we may judge by this circumstance, that in whatever court of Europe a
Yankee negotiator appeared, the wise British minister was routed, put in
a passion, picked a quarrel with your friends, and was sent home with a
flea in his ear. But, after all, my dear friend, do not imagine that I
am vain enough to ascribe our success to any superiority in any of those
points. I am too well acquainted with all the springs and levers of our
machine not to see that our human means were unequal to our undertaking,
and that, if it had not been for the justice of our cause, and the
consequent interposition of Providence, in which we had faith, we must
have been ruined. If I had ever before been an Atheist, I should now
have been convinced of the being and government of a Deity! It is he
that abases the proud and favours the humble. May we never forget his
goodness to us, and may our future conduct manifest our gratitude!

"But let us leave these serious reflections and converse with our usual
pleasantry. I remember your observing once to me, as we sat together in
the House of Commons, that no two journeymen printers within your
knowledge had met with such success in the world as ourselves. You were
then at the head of your profession, and soon afterward became member of
Parliament. I was an agent for a few provinces, and now act for them
all. But we have risen by different modes. I, as a republican printer,
always liked a form well _planed down_; being averse to those
_overbearing_ letters that hold their heads so _high_ as to hinder their
neighbours from appearing. You, as a monarchist, chose to work upon
_crown_ paper, and found it profitable; while I worked upon _pro patria_
(often, indeed, called _foolscap_) with no less advantage. Both our
_heaps hold out_ very well, and we seem likely to make a pretty good
_day's work_ of it. With regard to public affairs (to continue in the
same style), it seems to me that your _compositors_ in your _chapel_ do
not _cast off their copy well_, nor perfectly understand _imposing_:
their _forms_, too, are continually pestered by the _outs_ and _doubles_
that are not easy to be _corrected_. And I think they were wrong in
laying aside some _faces_, and particularly certain _headpieces_, that
would have been both useful and ornamental. But, courage! The business
may still flourish with good management, and the master become as rich
as any of the company. * *

"I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_George Wheatley._

                                             "Passy, May 23, 1785.


"I sent you a few lines the other day with the medallion, when I should
have written more, but was prevented by the coming in of a _bavard_, who
worried me till evening. I bore with him, and now you are to bear with
me: for I shall probably _bavarder_ in answering your letter.

"I am not acquainted with the saying of Alphonsus, which you allude to
as a sanctification of your rigidity in refusing to allow me the plea of
old age as an excuse for my want of exactness in correspondence. What
was that saying? You do not, it seems, feel any occasion for such an
excuse, though you are, as you say, rising 75. But I am rising (perhaps
more properly falling) 80, and I leave the excuse with you till you
arrive at that age; perhaps you may then be more sensible of its
validity, and see fit to use it for yourself.

"I must agree with you that the gout is bad, and that the stone is
worse. I am happy in not having them both together, and I join in your
prayer that you may live till you die without either. But I doubt the
author of the epitaph you send me was a little mistaken, when he,
speaking of the world, says that

                        "'He ne'er cared a pin
    What they said or may say of the mortal within.'

"It is so natural to wish to be well spoken of, whether alive or dead,
that I imagine he could not be quite exempt from that desire; and that
at least he wished to be thought a wit, or he would not have given
himself the trouble of writing so good an epitaph to leave behind him.
Was it not as worthy of his care that the world should say he was an
honest and a good man? I like better the concluding sentiment in the old
song, called the _Old Man's Wish_, wherein, after wishing for a warm
house in a country town, an easy horse, some good authors, ingenious and
cheerful companions, a pudding on Sundays, with stout ale and a bottle
of Burgundy, &c., &c., in separate stanzas, each ending with this

    "'May I govern my passons with absolute sway,
    Grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
    Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.'

He adds,

    "'With a courage undaunted may I face my last day,
    And when I am gone may the better sort say,
    In the morning when sober, in the evening when mellow.
    He's gone, and has not left behind him his fellow.
                    For he governed his passions,' &c.

"But what signifies our wishing? Things happen, after all, as they will
happen. I have sung that _wishing song_ a thousand times when I was
young, and now find at fourscore that the three contraries have
befallen me, being subject to the gout and the stone, and not being yet
master of all my passions. Like the proud girl in my country, who wished
and resolved not to marry a parson, nor a Presbyterian, nor an Irishman,
and at last found herself married to an Irish Presbyterian parson. You
see I have some reason to wish that, in a future state, I may not only
be _as well as I was_, but a little better. And I hope it: for I too,
with your poet, _trust in God_. And when I observe that there is great
frugality as well as wisdom in his works, since he has been evidently
sparing both of labour and materials; for, by the various wonderful
inventions of propagation, he has provided for the continual peopling
his world with plants and animals, without being at the trouble of
repeated new creations; and by the natural reduction of compound
substances to their original elements, capable of being employed in new
compositions, he has prevented the necessity of creating new matter; for
that the earth, water, air, and perhaps fire, which, being compounded
from wood, do, when the wood is dissolved, return, and again become air,
earth, fire, and water: I say, that when I see nothing annihilated, and
not even a drop of water wasted, I cannot suspect the annihilation of
souls, or believe that he will suffer the daily waste of millions of
minds ready made that now exist, and put himself to the continual
trouble of making new ones. Thus, finding myself to exist in the world,
I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist: and with all
the inconveniences human life is liable to, I shall not object to a new
edition of mine; hoping, however, that the errata of the last may be
corrected. * * *

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_David Hartley._

                                             "Passy, July 5, 1785.

"I cannot quit the coasts of Europe without taking leave of my ever dear
friend Mr. Hartley. We were long fellow-labourers in the best of all
works, the work of peace. I leave you still in the field, but, having
finished my day's task, I am going home _to go to bed_. Wish me a good
night's rest, as I do you a pleasant evening. Adieu! and believe me ever
yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN,
                                             "In his 80th year"

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To the Bishop of St. Asaph._

                                        "Philadelphia, Feb. 24, 1786.


"I received lately your kind letter of November 27. My reception here
was, as you have heard, very honourable indeed; but I was betrayed 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 retire.

"I have much regretted our having so little opportunity for conversation
when we last met.[31] You could have given me informations and counsels
that I wanted, but we were scarce a minute together without being broken
in upon. I am to thank you, however, for the pleasure I had, after our
parting, in reading the new book[32] you gave me, which I think
generally well written and likely to do good: though the reading time of
most people is of late so taken up with newspapers and little
periodical pamphlets, that few nowadays venture to attempt reading a
quarto volume. I have admired to see that in the last century a folio,
_Burton on Melancholy_, went through six editions in about forty years.
We have, I believe, more readers now, but not of such large books.

     [31] At Southampton, previous to Dr. Franklin's embarking for the
     United States.

     [32] Paley's Moral Philosophy.

"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. * * * *

"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 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

"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 barks 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 risk
where we can make no ensurance, 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 conveyed to him by his father
when we were at Southampton, has dropped 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 agreeable 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 skilful 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 about 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 cheerfully, 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 always hope to retain the
pleasing remembrance of your friendship; being, with sincere and great
esteem, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN.

"We all join in respects to Mrs. Shipley."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mrs. Hewson, London._

                                        "Philadelphia, May 6, 1786.


"A long winter has passed, and I have not had the pleasure of a line
from you, acquainting me with your and your childrens' welfare, since I
left England. I suppose you have been in Yorkshire, out of the way and
knowledge of opportunities, for I will not think you have forgotten me.
To make me some amends, I received a few days past a large packet from
Mr. Williams, dated September, 1776, near ten years since, containing
three letters from you, one of December 12, 1775. This packet had been
received by Mr. Bache after my departure for France, lay dormant among
his papers during all my absence, and has just now broke out upon me
_like words_ that had been, as somebody says, _congealed in Northern
air_. Therein I find all the pleasing little family history of your
children; how William had began to spell, overcoming by strength of
memory all the difficulty occasioned by the common wretched alphabet,
while you were convinced of the utility of our new one. How Tom,
genius-like, struck out new paths, and, relinquishing the old names of
the letters, called U _bell_ and P _bottle_. How Eliza began to grow
jolly, that is, fat and handsome, resembling Aunt Rooke, whom I used to
call _my lovely_. Together with all the _then_ news of Lady Blunt's
having produced at length a boy; of Dolly's being well, and of poor good
Catharine's decease. Of your affairs with Muir and Atkinson, and of
their contract for feeding the fish in the Channel. Of the Vinys, and
their jaunt to Cambridge in the long carriages. Of Dolly's journey to
Wales with Mr. Scot. Of the Wilkeses, the Pearces, Elphinston, &c., &c.
Concluding with a kind promise that, as soon as the ministry and
Congress agreed to make peace, I should have you with me in America.
That peace has been some time made, but, alas! the promise is not yet
fulfilled. And why is it not fulfilled?

"I have found my family here in health, good circumstances, and well
respected by their fellow-citizens. The companions of my youth are
indeed almost all departed, but I find an agreeable society among their
children and grandchildren. I have public business enough to preserve me
from _ennui_, and private amusement besides, in conversation, books, and
my garden. Considering our well-furnished plentiful market as the best
of gardens, I am turning mine, in the midst of which my house stands,
into grassplats and gravel-walks, with trees and flowering shrubs. * * *

"Temple has turned his thoughts to agriculture, which he pursues
ardently, being in possession of a fine farm that his father lately
conveyed to him. Ben is finishing his studies at college, and continues
to behave as well as when you knew him, so that I still think he will
make you a good son. His younger brothers and sisters are also all
promising, appearing to have good tempers and dispositions, as well as
good constitutions. As to myself, I think my general health and spirits
rather better than when you saw me, and the particular malady I then
complained of continues tolerable. With sincere and very great esteem, I
am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To M. Veillard._

                                        "Philadelphia, April 15, 1787


"I am quite of your opinion, that our independence is not quite complete
till we have discharged our public debt. This state is not behindhand in
its proportion, and those who are in arrear are actually employed in
contriving means to discharge their respective balances; but they are
not all equally diligent in the business, nor equally successful; the
whole will, however, be paid, I am persuaded, in a few years.

"The English have not yet delivered up the posts on our frontier
agreeable to treaty; the pretence is, that our merchants here have not
paid their debts. I was a little provoked when I first heard this, and I
wrote some remarks upon it, which I send you: they have been written
near a year, but I have not yet published them, being unwilling to
encourage any of our people who may be able to pay in their neglect of
that duty. The paper is therefore only for your amusement, and that of
our excellent friend the Duke de la Rochefoucauld.

"As to my malady, concerning which you so kindly inquire, I have never
had the least doubt of its being the stone, and I am sensible that it
has increased; but, on the whole, it does not give me more pain than
when at Passy. People who live long, who will drink of the cup of life
to the very bottom, must expect to meet with some of the usual dregs;
and when I reflect on the number of terrible maladies human nature is
subject to, I think myself favoured in having to my share only the stone
and gout.

"You were right in conjecturing that I wrote the remarks on the
'_thoughts concerning executive justice_.' I have no copy of these
remarks at hand, and forget how the saying was introduced, that it is
better a thousand guilty persons should escape than one innocent suffer.
Your criticisms thereon appear to be just, and I imagine you may have
misapprehended my intention in mentioning it. I always thought with you,
that the prejudice in Europe, which supposes a family dishonoured by the
punishment of one of its members, was very absurd, it being, on the
contrary, my opinion, that a rogue hanged out of a family does it more
honour than ten that live in it.

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mr. Jordain._

                                        "Philadelphia, May 18, 1787.


"I received your very kind letter of February 27, together with the cask
of porter you have been so good as to send me. We have here at present
what the French call _une assemblée des notables_, a convention composed
of some of the principal people from the several states of our
confederation. They did me the honour of dining with me last Wednesday,
when the cask was broached, and its contents met with the most cordial
reception and universal approbation. In short, the company agreed
unanimously that it was the best porter they had ever tasted. Accept my
thanks, a poor return, but all I can make at present.

"Your letter reminds me of many happy days we have passed together, and
the dear friends with whom we passed them; some of whom, alas! have left
us, and we must regret their loss, although our Hawkesworth[33] is
become an adventurer in more happy regions; and our Stanley[34] gone,
'where only his own _harmony_ can be exceeded.' You give me joy in
telling me that you are 'on the pinnacle of _content_.' Without it no
situation can be happy; with it, any. One means of becoming content with
one's situation is the comparing it with a worse Thus, when I consider
how many terrible diseases the human body is liable to, I comfort myself
that only three incurable ones have fallen to my share, the gout, the
stone, and old age; and that these have not yet deprived me of my
natural cheerfulness, my delight in books, and enjoyment of social

     [33] John Hawkesworth, LL.D., author of the Adventurer, and
     compiler of the account of the Discoveries made in the South Seas
     by Captain Cook.

     [34] John Stanley, an eminent musician and composer, though he
     became blind at the age of two years.

"I am glad to hear that Mr. Fitzmaurice is married, and has an amiable
lady and children. It is a better plan than that he once proposed, of
getting Mrs. Wright to make him a waxwork wife to sit at the head of his
table. For, after all, wedlock is the natural state of man. A bachelor
is not a complete human being. He is like the odd half of a pair of
scissors, which has not yet found its fellow, and, therefore, is not
even half so useful as they might be together.

"I hardly know which to admire most, the wonderful discoveries made by
Herschel, or the indefatigable ingenuity by which he has been enabled to
make them. Let us hope, my friend, that, when free from these bodily
embarrassments, we may roam together through some of the systems he has
explored, conducted by some of our old companions already acquainted
with them. Hawkesworth will enliven our progress with his cheerful,
sensible converse, and Stanley accompany the music of the spheres.

"Mr. Watraaugh tells me, for I immediately inquired after her, that your
daughter is alive and well. I remember her a most promising and
beautiful child, and therefore do not wonder that she is grown, as he
says, a fine woman.

"God bless her and you, my dear friend, and everything that pertains to
you, is the sincere prayer of yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN,
                                                   "In his 82d year."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To Miss Hubbard._

"I condole with you. We have lost a most dear and valuable relation. But
it is the will of God and nature that these mortal bodies be laid aside,
when the soul is to enter into real life. This is rather an embryo
state, a preparation for living. A man is not completely born until he
be dead. Why, then, should we grieve that a new child is born among the
immortals, a new member added to their happy society? We are spirits.
That bodies should be lent us while they can afford us pleasure, to
assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow-creatures,
is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these
purposes, and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid
become an encumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they
were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by
which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We ourselves, in some
cases, prudently choose a partial death. A mangled, painful limb, which
cannot be restored, we willingly cut off. He who plucks out a tooth,
parts with it freely, since the pain goes with it; and he who quits the
whole body, parts at once with all pains, and possibilities of pains and
diseases it was liable to, or capable of making him suffer.

"Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure which is
to last for ever. His chair was ready first, and he is gone before us.
We could not all conveniently start together; and why should you and I
be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To George Wheatley._

                                        "Philadelphia, May 18, 1787.

"I received duly my good old friend's letter of the 19th of February. I
thank you much for your notes on banks; they are just and solid, as far
as I can judge of them. Our bank here has met with great opposition,
partly from envy, and partly from those who wish an emission of more
paper money, which they think the bank influence prevents. But it has
stood all attacks, and went on well, notwithstanding the Assembly
repealed its charter. A new Assembly has restored it, and the management
is so prudent that I have no doubt of its continuing to go on well: the
dividend has never been less than six per cent., nor will that be
augmented for some time, as the surplus profit is reserved to face
accidents. The dividend of eleven per cent., which was once made, was
from a circumstance scarce unavoidable. A new company was proposed, and
prevented only by admitting a number of new partners. As many of the
first set were averse to this and chose to withdraw, it was necessary to
settle their accounts; so all were adjusted, the profits shared that had
been accumulated, and the new and old proprietors jointly began on a new
and equal footing. Their notes are always instantly paid on demand, and
pass on all occasions as readily as silver, because they will produce

"Your medallion is in good company; it is placed with those of Lord
Chatham, Lord Camden. Marquis of Rockingham, Sir George Saville, and
some others who honoured me with a show of friendly regard when in
England. I believe I have thanked you for it, but I thank you again.

"I believe with you, that if our plenipo. is desirous of concluding a
treaty of commerce, he may need patience. If I were in his place and not
otherwise instructed, I should be apt to say 'take your own time,
gentlemen.' If the treaty cannot be made as much to your advantage as
ours, don't make it. I am sure the want of it is not more to our
disadvantage than to yours. Let the merchants on both sides treat with
one another. _Laissez les faire._

"I have never considered attentively the Congress's scheme for coining,
and I have it not now at hand, so that at present I can say nothing to
it. The chief uses of coining seem to be the ascertaining the fineness
of the metals, and saving the time that would otherwise be spent in
weighing to ascertain the quantity. But the convenience of fixed values
to pieces is so great as to force the currency of some whose stamp is
worn off, that should have assured their fineness, and which are
evidently not of half their due weight; the case at present with the
sixpences in England, which, one with another, do not weigh threepence.

"You are now 78, and I am 82; you tread fast upon my heels; but, though
you have more strength and spirit, you cannot come up with me until I
stop, which must now be soon; for I am grown so old as to have buried
most of the friends of my youth; and I now often hear persons whom I
knew when children, called _old_ Mr. Such-a-one, to distinguish them
from their sons, now men grown and in business; so that, by living
twelve years beyond David's period, I seem to have intruded myself into
the company of posterity when I ought to have been abed and asleep. Yet,
had I gone at seventy, it would have cut off twelve of the most active
years of my life, employed, too, in matters of the greatest importance;
but whether I have been doing good or mischief is for time to discover.
I only know that I intended well, and I hope all will end well.

"Be so good as to present my affectionate respects to Dr. Riley. I am
under great obligations to him, and shall write to him shortly. It will
be a pleasure to him to know that my malady does not grow sensibly
worse, and that is a great point; for it has always been so tolerable as
not to prevent my enjoying the pleasures of society, and being cheerful
in conversation; I owe this in a great measure to his good counsels.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_B. 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 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

"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
piece, which I send you enclosed.

"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 arithmetic 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 a 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 advantages or
disadvantages, 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, than a hundred years' profit, or the full enjoyment of them
can compensate. * *

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_To the President of Congress._

                                        "Philadelphia, Nov. 29, 1788.


"When I had the honour of being the minister of the United States at the
court of France, Mr. Barclay arriving there, brought me the following
resolution of Congress:

"'Resolved, That a commissioner be appointed by Congress with full power
and authority to liquidate and _finally to settle_ the accounts of all
the servants of the United States who have been intrusted with the
expenditure of public money in Europe, and to commence and prosecute
such suits, causes, and actions as may be necessary for that purpose, or
for the recovery of any property of the said United States in the hands
of any person or persons whatsoever.

"'That the said commissioner be authorized to appoint one or more
clerks, with such allowance as he may think reasonable.

"'That the said commissioner and clerks respectively take an oath,
before some person duly authorized to administer an oath, faithfully to
execute the trust reposed in them respectively.

"'Congress proceeded to the election of a commissioner, and ballots
being taken, Mr. T. Barclay was elected.'

"In pursuance of this resolution, and as soon as Mr. Barclay was at
leisure from more pressing business, I rendered to him all my accounts,
which he examined and stated methodically. By his statements he found a
balance due to me on the 4th May, 1785, of 7533 livres, 19 sols, 3
deniers, which I accordingly received of the Congress Bank; the
difference between my statement and his being only seven sols, which by
mistake I had overcharged, about threepence halfpenny sterling.

"At my request, however, the accounts were left open for the
consideration of Congress, and not finally settled, there being some
articles on which I desired their judgment, and having some equitable
demands, as I thought them, for extra services, which he had not
conceived himself empowered to allow, and therefore I did not put them
in my account. He transmitted the accounts to Congress, and had advice
of their being received. On my arrival at Philadelphia, one of the first
things I did was to despatch my grandson, W. T. Franklin, to New-York,
to obtain a final settlement of those accounts, he having long acted as
my secretary, and, being well acquainted with the transactions, was able
to give an explanation of the articles that might seem to require
explaining, if any such there were. He returned without effecting the
settlement, being told that it would not be made till the arrival of
some documents expected from France. What those documents were I have
not been informed, nor can I readily conceive, as all the vouchers
existing there had been examined by Mr. Barclay. And I having been
immediately after my arrival engaged in public business of this state, I
waited in expectation of hearing from Congress, in case any part of my
accounts had been objected to.

"It is now more than three years that those accounts have been before
that honourable body, and to this day no notice of any such objection
has been communicated to me. But reports have for some time past been
circulated here, and propagated in newspapers, that I am greatly
indebted to the United States for large sums that had been put into my
hands, and that I avoid a settlement.

"This, together with the little time one of my age may expect to live,
makes it necessary for me to request earnestly, which I hereby do, that
the Congress would be pleased, without farther delay, to examine those
accounts, and if they find therein any article or articles which they do
not understand or approve, that they would cause me to be acquainted
with the same, that I may have an opportunity of offering such
explanations or reasons in support of them as may be in my power, and
then that the account may be finally closed.

"I hope the Congress will soon be able to attend to this business for
the satisfaction of the public, as well as in condescension to my
request. In the mean time, if there be no impropriety in it, I would
desire that this letter, together with another on the same subject, the
copy of which is hereto annexed, be put upon their minutes.

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Mrs. Green._

                                        "Philadelphia, March 2, 1789.


"Having now done with public affairs, which have hitherto taken up so
much of my time, I shall endeavour to enjoy, during the small remainder
of life that is left to me, some of the pleasures of conversing with my
old friends by writing, since their distance prevents my hope of seeing
them again.

"I received one of the bags of sweet corn you was so good as to send me
a long time since, but the other never came to hand; even the letter
mentioning it, though dated December 10, 1787, has been above a year on
its way, for I received it but about two weeks since from Baltimore, in
Maryland. The corn I did receive was excellent, and gave me great
pleasure. Accept my hearty thanks.

"I am, as you suppose in the above-mentioned old letter, much pleased to
hear that my young friend Ray is 'smart in the farming way,' and makes
such substantial fences. I think agriculture the most honourable of all
employments, being the most independent. The farmer has no need of
popular favour, nor the favour of the great; the success of his crops
depending only on the blessing of God upon his honest industry. I
congratulate your good spouse, that he as well as myself is now free
from public cares, and that he can bend his whole attention to his
farming, which will afford him both profit and pleasure; a business
which nobody knows better how to manage with advantage. I am too old to
follow printing again myself, but, loving the business, I have brought
up my grandson Benjamin to it, and have built and furnished a
printing-house for him, which he now manages under my eye. I have great
pleasure in the rest of my grandchildren, who are now in number eight,
and all promising, the youngest only six months old, but shows signs of
great good-nature. My friends here are numerous, and I enjoy as much of
their conversation as I can reasonably wish; and I have as much health
and cheerfulness as can well be expected at my age, now eighty-two.
Hitherto this long life has been tolerably happy, so that, if I were
allowed to live it over again, I should make no objection, only wishing
for leave to do, what authors do in a second edition of their works,
correct some of my errata. Among the felicities of my life I reckon your
friendship, which I shall remember with pleasure as long as life lasts,
being ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Dr. Price._

                                        "Philadelphia, May 31, 1789.


"I lately received your kind letter, enclosing one from Miss Kitty
Shipley, informing me of the good bishop's decease, which afflicted me
greatly. My friends drop off one after another, when my age and
infirmities prevent me making new ones, and if I still retain the
necessary activity and ability, I hardly see among the existing
generation where I could make them of equal goodness. So that, the
longer I live, I must expect to be the more wretched. As we draw nearer
the conclusion of life, nature furnishes us with more helps to wean us
from it, among which one of the most powerful is the loss of such dear

"I send you with this the two volumes of our Transactions, as I forget
whether you had the first before. If you had, you will please to give
this to the French ambassador, requesting his conveyance of it to the
good Duke de la Rochefoucauld. My best wishes attend you, being ever,
with sincere and great esteem, my dear friend, yours most

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_B. Vaughan._

                                        "Philadelphia, June 3, 1789.


"I received your kind letter of March 4, and wish I may be able to
complete what you so earnestly desire, the Memoirs of my Life. But of
late I am so interrupted by extreme pain, which obliges me to have
recourse to opium, that between the effects of both I have but little
time in which I can write anything. My grandson, however, is copying
what is done, which will be sent to you for your opinion, by the next
vessel; and not merely for your opinion, but for your advice; for I find
it a difficult task to speak decently and properly of one's own conduct;
and I feel the want of a judicious friend to encourage me in scratching

"I have condoled sincerely with the bishop of St. Asaph's family. He was
an excellent man. Losing our friends thus one by one is the tax we pay
for long living; and it is indeed a heavy one!

"I have not seen the King of Prussia's posthumous works; what you
mention makes me desirous to have them. Please to mention it to your
brother William, and that I request he would add them to the books I
have desired him to buy for me.

"Our new government is now in train, and seems to promise well. But
events are in the hand of God! I am ever, my dear friend, yours most

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Dr. Rush._

                   [Without date, but supposed to be in 1789.]


"During our long acquaintance you have shown many instances of your
regard for me, yet I must now desire you to add one more to the number,
which is that if you publish your ingenious discourse on the _moral
sense_, you will totally omit and suppress that extravagant encomium on
your friend Franklin, which hurt me exceedingly in the unexpected
hearing, and will mortify me beyond conception if it should appear from
the press.

"Confiding in your compliance with this earnest request, I am ever, my
dear friend, yours most affectionately,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Miss Catharine Louisa Shipley._

                                        "Philadelphia, April 27, 1789.

"It is only a few days since the kind letter of my dear young friend,
dated December 24, came to my hands. I had before, in the public papers,
met with the afflicting news that letter contained. That excellent man
has then left us! his departure is a loss, not to his family and friends
only, but to his nation and to the world: for he was intent on doing
good, had wisdom to devise the means, and talents to promote them. His
sermon before the Society for Propagating the Gospel, and "_his speech
intended to be spoken_," are proofs of his ability as well as his
humanity. Had his counsels in those pieces been attended to by the
ministers, how much bloodshed might have been prevented, and how much
expense and disgrace to the nation avoided!

"Your reflections on the constant calmness and composure attending his
death are very sensible. Such instances seem to show that the good
sometimes enjoy, in dying, a foretaste of the happy state they are
about to enter.

"According to the course of years, I should have quitted this world long
before him: I shall, however, not be long in following. I am now in my
eighty-fourth year, and the last year has considerably enfeebled me, so
that I hardly expect to remain another. You will then, my dear friend,
consider this as probably the last line to be received from me, and as a
taking leave.

"Present my best and most sincere respects to your good mother, and love
to the rest of the family, to whom I wish all happiness; and believe me
to be, while I _do_ live, yours most affectionately,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_To_ * * *.

                                             (Withoute date.)


"I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it
contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general
Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without
the belief of a Providence that takes cognizance of, guards and guides,
and may favour particular persons, there is no motive to worship a
Deity, to fear its displeasure, or to pray for its protection. I will
not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to
desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that though your
reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some readers, you will not
succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that
subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great
deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to
others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face. But were
you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You
yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life without the assistance
afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of
virtue and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of
resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But
think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men
and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who
have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to
support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it
becomes _habitual_, which is the great point of its security. And
perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious
education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value
yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning
upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most
distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the
Hottentots, that a youth to be raised into the company of men should
prove his manhood by beating his mother. I would advise you, therefore,
not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is
seen by any other person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of
mortification from the enemies it may raise against you, and, perhaps, a
great deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked _with
religion_, what would they be if _without it_? I intend this letter
itself as a _proof_ of my friendship, and, therefore, add no
_professions_ to it; but subscribe simply yours,

                                             B. FRANKLIN."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Copy of the last Letter written by Dr. Franklin._

                                        "Philadelphia, April 8, 1790.


"I received your letter of the 31st of last past relating to
encroachments made on the eastern limits of the United States by
settlers under the British government, pretending that it is the
_western_, and not the _eastern_ river of the Bay of Passamaquoddy which
was designated by the name of St. Croix, in the treaty of peace with
that nation; and requesting of me to communicate any facts which my
memory or papers may enable me to recollect, and which may indicate the
true river which the commissioners on both sides had in their view to
establish as the boundary between the two nations.

"Your letter found me under a severe fit of my malady, which prevented
my answering it sooner, or attending, indeed, to any kind of business. I
now can assure you that I am perfectly clear in the remembrance that the
map we used in tracing the boundary was brought to the treaty by the
commissioners from England, and that it was the same that was published
by _Mitchell_ above twenty years before. Having a copy of that map by me
in loose sheets, I send you that sheet which contains the Bay of
Passamaquoddy, where you will see that part of the boundary traced. I
remember, too, that in that part of the boundary we relied much on the
opinion of Mr. Adams, who had been concerned in some former disputes
concerning those territories. I think, therefore, that you may obtain
still farther light from him.

"That the map we used was Mitchell's map, Congress were acquainted at
the time, by letter to their secretary for foreign affairs, which I
suppose may be found upon their files.

"I have the honour to be, with the greatest esteem and respect, sir,
your most obedient and most humble servant,

                                             "B. FRANKLIN.

         "To Thomas Jefferson,              }
  "Secretary of State of the United States."}


_To the Abbé Soulavie._[35]

     [35] Occasioned by his sending me some notes he had taken of what I
     had said to him in conversation on the Theory of the Earth. I wrote
     it to set him right in some points wherein he had mistaken my
     meaning.--B. F.

_Theory of the Earth._--Read in the American Philosophical Society,
November 22, 1782.

                                             Passy, September 22, 1782.

I return the papers with some corrections. I did not find coal mines
under the calcareous rocks in Derbyshire. I only remarked, that at the
lowest part of that rocky mountain which was in sight, there were oyster
shells mixed in the stone; and part of the high county of Derby being
probably as much above the level of the sea as the coal mines of
Whitehaven were below it, seemed a proof that there had been a great
_boulversement_ in the surface of that island, some part of it having
been depressed under the sea, and other parts, which had been under it,
being raised above it. Such changes in the superficial parts of the
globe seemed to me unlikely to happen if the earth were solid to the
centre. I therefore imagined that the internal parts might be a fluid
more dense, and of greater specific gravity than any of the solids we
are acquainted with, which therefore might swim in or upon that fluid.
Thus the surface of the globe would be a shell, capable of being broken
or disordered by the violent movements of the fluid on which it rested.
And as air has been compressed by art so as to be twice as dense as
water, in which case, if such air and water could be contained in a
strong glass vessel, the air would be seen to take the lowest place, and
the water to float above and upon it; and as we know not yet the degree
of density to which air may be compressed, and M. Amontons calculated
that its density increasing as it approached the centre in the same
proportion as above the surface, it would, at the depth of---- leagues,
be heavier than gold; possibly the dense fluid occupying the internal
parts of the globe might be air compressed. And as the force of
expansion in dense air, when heated, is in proportion to its density,
this central air might afford another agent to move the surface, as well
as be of use in keeping alive the subterraneous fires; though, as you
observe, the sudden rarefaction of water coming into contact without
those fires, may also be an agent sufficiently strong for that purpose,
when acting between the incumbent earth and the fluid on which it rests.

If one might indulge imagination in supposing how such a globe was
formed, I should conceive, that all the elements in separate particles
being originally mixed in confusion, and occupying a great space, they
would (as soon as the almighty fiat ordained gravity, or the mutual
attraction of certain parts and the mutual repulsion of others, to
exist) all move to their common centre: that the air, being a fluid
whose parts repel each other, though drawn to the common centre by their
gravity, would be densest towards the centre, and rarer as more remote;
consequently, all matters lighter than the central parts of that air and
immersed in it, would recede from the centre, and rise till they arrived
at that region of the air which was of the same specific gravity with
themselves, where they would rest; while other matter, mixed with the
lighter air, would descend, and the two, meeting, would form the shell
of the first earth, leaving the upper atmosphere nearly clear. The
original movement of the parts towards their common centre would
naturally form a whirl there, which would continue upon the turning of
the new-formed globe upon its axis, and the greatest diameter of the
shell would be in its equator. If by any accident afterward the axis
should be changed, the dense internal fluid, by altering its form, must
burst the shell and throw all its substance into the confusion in which
we find it. I will not trouble you at present with my fancies concerning
the manner of forming the rest of our system. Superior beings smile at
our theories, and at our presumption in making them. I will just
mention, that your observations on the ferruginous nature of the lava
which is thrown out from the depths of our volcanoes, gave me great
pleasure. It has long been a supposition of mine, that the iron
contained in the surface of the globe has made it capable of becoming,
as it is, a great magnet; that the fluid of magnetism perhaps exists in
all space; so that there is a magnetical north and south of the
universe, as well as of this globe, and that, if it were possible for a
man to fly from star to star, he might govern his course by the compass;
that it was by the power of this general magnetism this globe became a
particular magnet. In soft or hot iron the fluid of magnetism is
naturally diffused equally; when within the influence of the magnet it
is drawn to one end of the iron, made denser there and rarer at the
other. While the iron continues soft and hot, it is only a temporary
magnet; if it cools or grows hard in that situation, it becomes a
permanent one, the magnetic fluid not easily resuming its equilibrium.
Perhaps it may be owing to the permanent magnetism of this globe, which
it had not at first, that its axis is at present kept parallel to
itself, and not liable to the changes it formerly suffered, which
occasioned the rupture of its shell, the submersions and emersions of
its lands, and the confusion of its seasons. The present polar and
equatorial diameters differing from each other near ten leagues, it is
easy to conceive, in case some power should shift the axis gradually,
and place it in the present equator, and make the new equator pass
through the present poles, what a sinking of the waters would happen in
the equatorial regions, and what a rising in the present polar regions;
so that vast tracts would be discovered that now are under water, and
others covered that are now dry, the water rising and sinking in the
different extremes near five leagues. Such an operation as this possibly
occasioned much of Europe, and, among the rest, this mountain of Passy
on which I live, and which is composed of limestone, rock, and
seashells, to be abandoned by the sea, and to change its ancient
climate, which seems to have been a hot one. The globe being now become
a perfect magnet, we are, perhaps, safe from any change of its axis. But
we are still subject to the accidents on the surface, which are
occasioned by a wave in the internal ponderous fluid; and such a wave is
producible by the sudden violent explosion you mention, happening from
the junction of water and fire under the earth, which not only lifts the
incumbent earth that is over the explosion, but, impressing with the
same force the fluid under it, creates a wave that may run a thousand
leagues, lifting, and thereby shaking, successively, all the countries
under which it passes. I know not whether I have expressed myself so
clearly as not to get out of your sight in these reveries. If they
occasion any new inquiries, and produce a better hypothesis, they will
not be quite useless. You see I have given a loose to imagination; but I
approve much more your method of philosophizing, which proceeds upon
actual observation, makes a collection of facts, and concludes no
farther than those facts will warrant. In my present circumstances, that
mode of studying the nature of the globe is out of my power, and
therefore I have permitted myself to wander a little in the wilds of
fancy. With great esteem,

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

P.S.--I have heard that chymists can by their art decompose stone and
wood, extracting a considerable quantity of water from the one and air
from the other. It seems natural to conclude from this, that water and
air were ingredients in their original composition; for men cannot make
new matter of any kind. In the same manner, may we not suppose, that
when we consume combustibles of all kinds, and produce heat or light, we
do not create that heat or light, but decompose a substance which
received it originally as a part of its composition? Heat may be thus
considered as originally in a fluid state; but, attracted by organized
bodies in their growth, becomes a part of the solid. Besides this, I can
conceive, that in the first assemblage of the particles of which the
earth is composed, each brought its portion of loose heat that had been
connected with it, and the whole, when pressed together, produced the
internal fire that still subsists.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Dr. John Pringle._


                                        Craven-street, Jan. 6, 1758.

I return you Mr. Mitchell's paper on the strata of the earth[36] with
thanks. The reading of it, and the perusal of the draught that
accompanies it, have reconciled me to those convulsions which all
naturalists agree this globe has suffered. Had the different strata of
clay, gravel, marble, coals, limestone, sand, minerals, &c., continued
to lie level, one under the other, as they may be supposed to have done
before those convulsions, we should have had the use only of a few of
the uppermost of the strata, the others lying too deep and too difficult
to be come at; but the shell of the earth being broke, and the fragments
thrown into this oblique position, the disjointed ends of a great number
of strata of different kinds are brought up to day, and a great variety
of useful materials put into our power, which would otherwise have
remained eternally concealed from us. So that what has been usually
looked upon as a _ruin_ suffered by this part of the universe, was, in
reality, only a preparation, or means of rendering the earth more fit
for use, more capable of being to mankind a convenient and comfortable

     [36] The paper of Mr. Mitchell, here referred to, was published
     afterward in the Philosophical Transactions of London.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Mr. Bowdoin._

     _Queries and Conjectures relating to Magnetism
       and the Theory of the Earth._--Read in the American Philosophical
       Society January 15, 1790.

I received your favours by Messrs. Gore, Hilliard, and Lee, with whose
conversation I was much pleased, and wished for more of it; but their
stay with us was too short. Whenever you recommend any of your friends
to me, you oblige me.

I want to know whether your Philosophical Society received the second
volume of our Transactions. I sent it, but never heard of its arriving.
If it miscarried, I will send another. Has your Society among its books
the French work _Sur les Arts et les Metiers_? It is voluminous, well
executed, and may be useful in our country. I have bequeathed it them in
my will; but if they have it already, I will substitute something else.

Our ancient correspondence used to have something philosophical in it.
As you are now free from public cares, and I expect to be so in a few
months, why may we not resume that kind of correspondence? Our much
regretted friend Winthrop once made me the compliment, that I was good
at starting game for philosophers, let me try if I can start a little
for you.

Has the question, how came the earth by its magnetism, ever been

Is it likely that _iron ore_ immediately existed when this globe was at
first formed; or may it not rather be supposed a gradual production of

If the earth is at present magnetical, in virtue of the masses of iron
ore contained in it, might not some ages pass before it had magnetic

Since iron ore may exist without that polarity, and, by being placed in
certain circumstances, may obtain it from an external cause, is it not
possible that the earth received its magnetism from some such cause?

In short, may not a magnetic power exist throughout our system, perhaps
through all systems, so that if men could make a voyage in the starry
regions, a compass might be of use? And may not such universal
magnetism, with its uniform direction, be serviceable in keeping the
diurnal revolution of a planet more steady to the same axis?

Lastly, as the poles of magnets may be changed by the presence of
stronger magnets, might not, in ancient times, the near passing of some
large comet, of greater magnetic power than this globe of ours, have
been a means of changing its poles, and thereby wrecking and deranging
its surface, placing in different regions the effect of centrifugal
force, so as to raise the waters of the sea in some, while they were
depressed in others?

Let me add another question or two, not relating indeed to magnetism,
but, however, to the theory of the earth.

Is not the finding of great quantities of shells and bones of animals
(natural to hot climates) in the cold ones of our present world, some
proof that its poles have been changed? Is not the supposition that the
poles have been changed, the easiest way of accounting for the deluge,
by getting rid of the old difficulty how to dispose of its waters after
it was over! Since, if the poles were again to be changed, and placed in
the present equator, the sea would fall there about fifteen miles in
height, and rise as much in the present polar regions; and the effect
would be proportionable if the new poles were placed anywhere between
the present and the equator.

Does not the apparent wreck of the surface of this globe, thrown up into
long ridges of mountains, with strata in various positions, make it
probable that its internal mass is a fluid, but a fluid so dense as to
float the heaviest of our substances? Do we know the limit of
condensation air is capable of? Supposing it to grow denser _within_ the
surface in the same proportion nearly as it does _without_, at what
depth may it be equal in density with gold?

Can we easily conceive how the strata of the earth could have been so
deranged, if it had not been a mere shell supported by a heavier fluid?
Would not such a supposed internal fluid globe be immediately sensible
of a change in the situation of the earth's axis, alter its form, and
thereby burst the shell and throw up parts of it above the rest? As if
we would alter the position of the fluid contained in the shell of an
egg, and place its longest diameter where the shortest now is, the shell
must break; but would be much harder to break if the whole internal
substance were as solid and as hard as the shell.

Might not a wave, by any means raised in this supposed internal ocean of
extremely dense fluid, raise, in some degree as it passes, the present
shell of incumbent earth, and break it in some places, as in
earthquakes. And may not the progress of such wave, and the disorders it
occasions among the solids of the shell, account for the rumbling sound
being first heard at a distance, augmenting as it approaches, and
gradually dying away as it proceeds? A circumstance observed by the
inhabitants of South America, in their last great earthquake, that noise
coming from a place some degrees north of Lima, and being traced by
inquiry quite down to Buenos Ayres, proceeded regularly from north to
south at the rate of ____ leagues per minute, as I was informed by a
very ingenious Peruvian whom I met with at Paris.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To M. Dubourg._


I am persuaded, as well as you, that the seacoal has a vegetable origin,
and that it has been formed near the surface of the earth; but, as
preceding convulsions of nature had served to bring it very deep in many
places, and covered it with many different strata, we are indebted to
subsequent convulsions for having brought within our view the
extremities of its veins, so as to lead us to penetrate the earth in
search of it. I visited last summer a large coalmine at Whitehaven, in
Cumberland; and in following the vein, and descending by degrees towards
the sea, I penetrated below the ocean where the level of its surface was
more than eight hundred fathoms above my head, and the miners assured me
that their works extended some miles beyond the place where I then was,
continually and gradually descending under the sea. The slate, which
forms the roof of this coalmine, is impressed in many places with the
figures of leaves and branches of fern, which undoubtedly grew at the
surface when the slate was in the state of sand on the banks of the sea.
Thus it appears that this vein of coal has suffered a prodigious

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *


The late earthquake felt here, and probably in all the neighbouring
provinces, having made many people desirous to know what may be the
natural cause of such violent concussions, we shall endeavour to gratify
their curiosity by giving them the various opinions of the learned on
that head.

Here naturalists are divided. Some ascribe them to water, others to
fire, and others to air, and all of them with some appearance of reason.
To conceive which, it is to be observed that the earth everywhere
abounds in huge subterraneous caverns, veins, and canals, particularly
about the roots of mountains; that of these cavities, veins, &c., some
are full of water, whence are composed gulfs, abysses, springs,
rivulets; and others full of exhalations; and that some parts of the
earth are replete with nitre, sulphur, bitumen, vitriol, &c. This

1. The earth itself may sometimes be the cause of its own shaking; when
the roots or basis of some large mass being dissolved, or worn away by a
fluid underneath, it sinks into the same, and, with its weight,
occasions a tremour of the adjacent parts, produces a noise, and
frequently an inundation of water.

2. The subterraneous waters may occasion earthquakes by their
overflowing, cutting out new courses, &c. Add that the water, being
heated and rarefied by the subterraneous fires, may emit fumes, blasts,
&c., which, by their action either on the water or immediately on the
earth itself, may occasion great succussions.

3. The air may be the cause of earthquakes; for the air being a
collection of fumes and vapours raised from the earth and water, if it
be pent up in too narrow viscera of the earth, the subterraneous or its
own native heat rarefying and expanding it, the force wherewith it
endeavours to escape may shake the earth; hence there arises divers
species of earthquakes, according to the different position, quantity,
&c., of the imprisoned _aura_.

Lastly, fire is a principal cause of earthquakes; both as it produces
the aforesaid subterraneous _aura_ or vapours, and as this _aura_ or
spirit, from the different matter and composition whereof arise sulphur,
bitumen, and other inflammable matters, takes fire, either from other
fire it meets withal, or from its collision against hard bodies, or its
intermixture with other fluids; by which means, bursting out into a
greater compass, the place becomes too narrow for it, so that, pressing
against it on all sides, the adjoining parts are shaken, till, having
made itself a passage, it spends itself in a volcano or burning

But to come nearer to the point. Dr. Lister is of opinion that the
material cause of thunder, lightning, and earthquakes, is one and the
same, viz., the inflammable breath of the pyrites, which is a
substantial sulphur, and takes fire of itself.

The difference between these three terrible phenomena he takes only to
consist in this: that the sulphur in the former is fired in the air, and
in the latter under ground. Which is a notion Pliny had long before him:
"_Quid enim_," says he, "_aliud est in terrâ tremor, quam in nube
tonitru?_" For wherein does the trembling of the earth differ from that
occasioned by thunder in the clouds?

This he thinks abundantly indicated by the same sulphurous smell being
found in anything burned with lightning, and in the waters, &c., cast up
in earthquakes, and even in the air before and after them.

Add that they agree in the manner of the noise which is carried on, as
in a train fired; the one, rolling and rattling through the air, takes
fire as the vapours chance to drive; as the other, fired under ground in
like manner, moves with a desultory noise.

Thunder, which is the effect of the trembling of the air, caused by the
same vapours dispersed through it, has force enough to shake our houses;
and why there may not be thunder and lightning under ground, in some
vast repositories there, I see no reason; especially if we reflect that
the matter which composes the noisy vapour above us is in much larger
quantities under ground.

That the earth abounds in cavities everybody allows; and that these
subterraneous cavities are, at certain times and in certain seasons,
full of inflammable vapours, the damps in mines sufficiently witness,
which, fired, do everything as in an earthquake, save in a lesser

Add that the pyrites alone, of all the known minerals, yields this
inflammable vapour, is highly probable; for that no mineral or ore
whatsoever is sulphurous, but as it is wholly or in part a pyrites, and
that there is but one species of brimstone which the pyrites naturally
and only yields. The _sulphur vive_, or natural brimstone, which is
found in and about the burning mountains, is certainly the effects of
sublimation, and those great quantities of it said to be found about the
skirts of volcanoes is only an argument of the long duration and
vehemence of those fires. Possibly the pyrites of the volcanoes, or
burning mountains, may be more sulphurous than ours; and, indeed, it is
plain that some of ours in England are very lean, and hold but little
sulphur; others again very much, which may be some reason why England is
so little troubled with earthquakes, and Italy, and almost all round the
Mediterranean Sea, so much; though another reason is, the paucity of
pyrites in England.

Comparing our earthquakes, thunder, and lightning, with theirs, it is
observed that there it lightens almost daily, especially in summer-time,
here seldom; there thunder and lightning is of long duration, here it is
soon over; there the earthquakes are frequent, long, and terrible, with
many paroxysms in a day, and that for many days; here very short, a few
minutes, and scarce perceptible. To this purpose the subterraneous
caverns in England are small and few compared to the vast vaults in
those parts of the world; which is evident from the sudden disappearance
of whole mountains and islands.

Dr. Woodward gives us another theory of earthquakes. He endeavours to
show that the subterraneous heat or fire (which is continually elevating
water out of the abyss, to furnish the earth with rain, dew, springs,
and rivers), being stopped in any part of the earth, and so diverted
from its ordinary course by some accidental glut or obstruction in the
pores or passages through which it used to ascend to the surface,
becomes, by such means, preternaturally assembled in a greater quantity
than usual into one place, and therefore causeth a great rarefaction and
intumescence of the water of the abyss, putting it into great commotions
and disorders, and at the same time making the like effort on the earth,
which, being expanded upon the face of the abyss, occasions that
agitation and concussion we call an earthquake.

This effort in some earthquakes, he observes, is so vehement, that it
splits and tears the earth, making cracks and chasms in it some miles in
length, which open at the instant of the shock, and close again in the
intervals between them; nay, it is sometimes so violent that it forces
the superincumbent strata, breaks them all throughout, and thereby
perfectly undermines and ruins the foundation of them; so that, these
failing, the whole tract, as soon as the shock is over, sinks down into
the abyss, and is swallowed up by it, the water thereof immediately
rising up and forming a lake in the place where the said tract before
was. That this effort being made in all directions indifferently, the
fire, dilating and expanding on all hands, and endeavouring to get room
and make its way through all obstacles, falls as foul on the waters of
the abyss beneath as on the earth above, forcing it forth, which way
soever it can find vent or passage, as well through its ordinary exits,
wells, springs, and the outlets of rivers, as through the chasms then
newly opened, through the _camini_ or spiracles of Ætna, or other
neighbouring volcanoes, and those hiatuses at the bottom of the sea
whereby the abyss below opens into it and communicates with it. That as
the water resident in the abyss is, in all parts of it, stored with a
considerable quantity of heat, and more especially in those where those
extraordinary aggregations of this fire happen, so likewise is the water
which is thus forced out of it, insomuch that, when thrown forth and
mixed with the waters of wells, or springs of rivers and the sea, it
renders them very sensibly hot.

He adds, that though the abyss be liable to those commotions in all
parts, yet the effects are nowhere very remarkable except in those
countries which are mountainous, and, consequently, stony or cavernous
underneath; and especially where the disposition of the strata is such
that those caverns open the abyss, and so freely admit and entertain the
fire which, assembling therein, is the cause of the shock; it naturally
steering its course that way where it finds the readiest reception,
which is towards those caverns. Besides, that those parts of the earth
which abound with strata of stone or marble, making the strongest
opposition to this effort, are the most furiously shattered, and suffer
much more by it than those which consist of gravel, sand, and the like
laxer matter, which more easily give way, and make not so great
resistance. But, above all, those countries which yield great store of
sulphur and nitre are by far the most injured by earthquakes; those
minerals constituting in the earth a kind of natural gunpowder, which,
taking fire upon this assemblage and approach of it, occasions that
murmuring noise, that subterraneous thunder, which is heard rumbling in
the bowels of the earth during earthquakes, and by the assistance of its
explosive power renders the shock much greater, so as sometimes to make
miserable havoc and destruction.

And it is for this reason that Italy, Sicily, Anatolia, and some parts
of Greece, have been so long and often alarmed and harassed by
earthquakes; these countries being all mountainous and cavernous,
abounding with stone and marble, and affording sulphur and nitre in
great plenty.

Farther, that Ætna, Vesuvius, Hecla, and the other volcanoes, are only
so many spiracles, serving for the discharge of this subterraneous fire,
when it is thus preternaturally assembled. That where there happens to
be such a structure and conformation of the interior part of the earth,
as that the fire may pass freely, and without impediment, from the
caverns wherein it assembles unto those spiracles, it then readily gets
out, from time to time, without shaking or disturbing the earth; but
where such communication is wanting, or passage not sufficiently large
and open, so that it cannot come at the spiracles, it heaves up and
shocks the earth with greater or lesser impetuosity, according to the
quantity of fire thus assembled, till it has made its way to the mouth
of the volcano. That, therefore, there are scarce any countries much
annoyed by earthquakes but have one of these fiery vents, which are
constantly in flames when any earthquake happens, as disgorging that
fire which, while underneath, was the cause of the disaster. Lastly,
that were it not for these _diverticula_, it would rage in the bowels of
the earth much more furiously, and make greater havoc than it doth.

We have seen what fire and water may do, and that either of them are
sufficient for all the phenomena of earthquakes; if they should both
fail, we have a third agent scarce inferior to either of them; the
reader must not be surprised when we tell him it is air.

Monsieur Amontons, in his _Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, An.
1703_, has an express discourse to prove, that on the foot of the new
experiments of the weight and spring of the air, a moderate degree of
heat may bring the air into a condition capable of causing earthquakes.
It is shown that at the depth of 43,528 fathoms below the surface of the
earth, air is only one fourth less heavy than mercury. Now this depth of
43,528 fathoms is only a seventy-fourth part of the semi-diameter of the
earth. And the vast sphere beyond this depth, in diameter 6,451,538
fathoms, may probably be only filled with air, which will be here
greatly condensed, and much heavier than the heaviest bodies we know in
nature. But it is found by experiment that, the more air is compressed,
the more does the same degree of heat increase its spring, and the more
capable does it render it of a violent effect; and that, for instance,
the degree of heat of boiling water increases the spring of the air
above what it has in its natural state, in our climate, by a quantity
equal to a third of the weight wherewith it is pressed. Whence we may
conclude that a degree of heat, which on the surface of the earth will
only have a moderate effect, may be capable of a very violent one below.
And as we are assured that there are in nature degrees of heat much more
considerable than boiling water, it is very possible there may be some
whose violence, farther assisted by the exceeding weight of the air, may
be more than sufficient to break and overturn this solid orb of 43,528
fathoms, whose weight, compared to that of the included air, would be
but a trifle.

Chymistry furnishes us a method of making artificial earthquakes which
shall have all the great effects of natural ones; which, as it may
illustrate the process of nature in the production of these terrible
phenomena under ground, we shall here add.

To twenty pounds of iron filings add as many of sulphur; mix, work, and
temper the whole together with a little water, so as to form a mass half
wet and half dry. This being buried three or four feet under ground, in
six or seven hours time will have a prodigious effect; the earth will
begin to tremble, crack, and smoke, and fire and flame burst through.

Such is the effect even of the two cold bodies in cold ground; there
only wants a sufficient quantity of this mixture to produce a true Ætna.
If it were supposed to burst out under the sea, it would produce a
spout; and if it were in the clouds, the effect would be thunder and

An earthquake is defined to be a vehement shake or agitation of some
considerable place, or part of the earth, from natural causes, attended
with a huge noise like thunder, and frequently with an eruption of
water, or fire, or smoke, or winds, &c.

They are the greatest and most formidable phenomena of nature. Aristotle
and Pliny distinguish two kinds, with respect to the manner of the
shake, viz., a tremour and a pulsation; the first being horizontal, in
alternate vibrations, compared to the shaking of a person in an ague;
the second perpendicular, up and down, their motion resembling that of

Agricola increases the number, and makes four kinds, which Albertus
Magnus again reduces to three, viz., inclination, when the earth
vibrates alternately from right to left, by which mountains have been
sometimes brought to meet and clash against each other; pulsation, when
it beats up and down, like an artery; and trembling, when it shakes and
totters every way, like a flame.

The Philosophical Transactions furnish us with abundance of histories of
earthquakes, particularly one at Oxford in 1665, by Dr. Wallis and Mr.
Boyle. Another at the same place in 1683, by Mr. Pigot. Another in
Sicily, in 1692-3, by Mr. Hartop, Father Alessandro Burgos, and Vin.
Bonajutus, which last is one of the most terrible ones in all history.

It shook the whole island; and not only that, but Naples and Malta
shared in the shock. It was of the second kind mentioned by Aristotle
and Pliny, viz., a perpendicular pulsation or succussion. It was
impossible, says the noble Bonajutus, for anybody in this country to
keep on their legs on the dancing earth; nay, those that lay on the
ground were tossed from side to side as on a rolling billow; high walls
leaped from their foundations several paces.

The mischief it did is amazing; almost all the buildings in the
countries were thrown down. Fifty-four cities and towns, besides an
incredible number of villages, were either destroyed or greatly damaged.
We shall only instance the fate of Catania, one of the most famous,
ancient, and flourishing cities in the kingdom, the residence of several
monarchs, and a university. "This once famous, now unhappy Catania," to
use words of Father Burgos, "had the greatest share in the tragedy.
Father Antonio Serovita, being on his way thither, and at the distance
of a few miles, observed a black cloud, like night, hovering over the
city, and there arose from the mouth of Mongibello great spires of
flame, which spread all around. The sea, all of a sudden, began to roar
and rise in billows, and there was a blow, as if all the artillery in
the world had been at once discharged. The birds flew about astonished,
the cattle in the fields ran crying, &c. His and his companion's horse
stopped short, trembling; so that they were forced to alight. They were
no sooner off but they were lifted from the ground above two palms.
When, casting his eyes towards Catania, he with amazement saw nothing
but a thick cloud of dust in the air. This was the scene of their
calamity; for of the magnificent Catania there is not the least footstep
to be seen." Bonajutus assures us, that of 18,914 inhabitants, 18,000
perished therein. The same author, from a computation of the inhabitants
before and after the earthquake, in the several cities and towns, finds
that near 60,000 perished out of 254,900.

Jamaica is remarkable for earthquakes. The inhabitants, Dr. Sloane
informs us, expect one every year. The author gives the history of one
in 1687; another horrible one, in 1692, is described by several
anonymous authors. In two minutes' time it shook down and drowned nine
tenths of the town of Port Royal. The houses sunk outright, thirty or
forty fathoms deep. The earth, opening, swallowed up people, and they
rose in other streets; some in the middle of the harbour, and yet were
saved; though there were two thousand people lost, and one thousand
acres of land sunk. All the houses were thrown down throughout the
island. One Hopkins had his plantation removed half a mile from its
place. Of all wells, from one fathom to six or seven, the water flew out
at the top with a vehement motion. While the houses on the one side of
the street were swallowed up, on the other they were thrown in heaps;
and the sand in the street rose like waves in the sea, lifting up
everybody that stood on it, and immediately dropping down into pits; and
at the same instant, a flood of waters breaking in, rolled them over
and over; some catching hold of beams and rafters, &c. Ships and sloops
in the harbour were overset and lost; the Swan frigate particularly, by
the motion of the sea and sinking of the wharf, was driven over the tops
of many houses.

It was attended with a hollow rumbling noise like that of thunder. In
less than a minute three quarters of the houses, and the ground they
stood on, with the inhabitants, were all sunk quite under water, and the
little part left behind was no better than a heap of rubbish. The shake
was so violent that it threw people down on their knees or their faces,
as they were running about for shelter. The ground heaved and swelled
like a rolling sea, and several houses, still standing, were shuffled
and moved some yards out of their places. A whole street is said to be
twice as broad now as before; and in many places the earth would crack,
and open, and shut, quick and fast, of which openings two or three
hundred might be seen at a time; in some whereof the people were
swallowed up, others the closing earth caught by the middle and pressed
to death, in others the heads only appeared. The larger openings
swallowed up houses; and out of some would issue whole rivers of waters,
spouted up a great height into the air, and threatening a deluge to that
part the earthquake spared. The whole was attended with stenches and
offensive smells, the noise of falling mountains at a distance, &c., and
the sky in a minute's time was turned dull and reddish, like a glowing
oven. Yet, as great a sufferer as Port Royal was, more houses were left
standing therein than on the whole island besides. Scarce a
planting-house or sugar-work was left standing in all Jamaica. A great
part of them were swallowed up, houses, people, trees, and all at one
gape; in lieu of which afterward appeared great pools of water, which,
when dried up, left nothing but sand, without any mark that ever tree
or plant had been thereon.

Above twelve miles from the sea the earth gaped and spouted out, with a
prodigious force, vast quantities of water into the air, yet the
greatest violences were among the mountains and rocks; and it is a
general opinion, that the nearer the mountains, the greater the shake,
and that the cause thereof lay there. Most of the rivers were stopped up
for twenty-four hours by the falling of the mountains, till, swelling
up, they found themselves new tracts and channels, tearing up in their
passage trees, &c. After the great shake, those people who escaped got
on board ships in the harbour, where many continued above two months;
the shakes all that time being so violent, and coming so thick,
sometimes two or three in an hour, accompanied with frightful noises,
like a ruffling wind, or a hollow, rumbling thunder, with brimstone
blasts, that they durst not come ashore. The consequence of the
earthquake was a general sickness, from the noisome vapours belched
forth, which swept away above three thousand persons.

After the detail of these horrible convulsions, the reader will have but
little curiosity left for the less considerable phenomena of the
earthquake at Lima in 1687, described by Father Alvarez de Toledo,
wherein above five thousand persons were destroyed; this being of the
vibratory kind, so that the bells in the church rung of themselves; or
that at Batavia in 1699, by Witsen; that in the north of England in
1703, by Mr. Thoresby; or, lastly, those in New-England in 1663 and
1670, by Dr. Mather.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To David Rittenhouse._

     _New and curious Theory of Light and Heat._--Read in the American
     Philosophical Society, November 20, 1788.

Universal space, as far as we know of it, seems to be filled with a
subtile fluid, whose motion or vibration is called light.

This fluid may possibly be the same with that which, being attracted by,
and entering into other more solid matter, dilutes the substance by
separating the constituent particles, and so rendering some solids
fluid, and maintaining the fluidity of others; of which fluid, when our
bodies are totally deprived, they are said to be frozen; when they have
a proper quantity, they are in health, and fit to perform all their
functions; it is then called natural heat; when too much, it is called
fever; and when forced into the body in too great a quantity from
without, it gives pain, by separating and destroying the flesh, and is
then called burning, and the fluid so entering and acting is called

While organized bodies, animal or vegetable, are augmenting in growth,
or are supplying their continual waste, is not this done by attracting
and consolidating this fluid called fire, so as to form of it a part of
their substance? And is it not a separation of the parts of such
substance, which, dissolving its solid state, sets that subtile fluid at
liberty, when it again makes its appearance as fire?

For the power of man relative to matter seems limited to the separating
or mixing the various kinds of it, or changing its form and appearance
by different compositions of it; but does not extend to the making or
creating new matter, or annihilating the old. Thus, if fire be an
original element or kind of matter, its quantity is fixed and permanent
in the universe. We cannot destroy any part of it, or make addition to
it; we can only separate it from that which confines it, and so set it
at liberty; as when we put wood in a situation to be burned, or
transfer it from one solid to another, as when we make lime by burning
stone, a part of the fire dislodged in the fuel being left in the stone.
May not this fluid, when at liberty, be capable of penetrating and
entering into all bodies, organized or not, quitting easily in totality
those not organized, and quitting easily in part those which are; the
part assumed and fixed remaining till the body is dissolved?

Is it not this fluid which keeps asunder the particles of air,
permitting them to approach, or separating them more in proportion as
its quantity is diminished or augmented?

Is it not the greater gravity of the particles of air which forces the
particles of this fluid to mount with the matters to which it is
attached, as smoke or vapour?

Does it not seem to have a greater affinity with water, since it will
quit a solid to unite with that fluid, and go off with it in vapour,
leaving the solid cold to the touch, and the degree measurable by the

The vapour rises attached to this fluid, but at a certain height they
separate, and the vapour descends in rain, retaining but little of it,
in snow or hail less. What becomes of that fluid? Does it rise above our
atmosphere, and mix with the universal mass of the same kind?

Or does a spherical stratum of it, denser, as less mixed with air,
attracted by this globe, and repelled or pushed up only to a certain
height from its surface by the greater weight of air, remain there
surrounding the globe, and proceeding with it round the sun?

In such case, as there may be a continuity of communication of this
fluid through the air quite down to the earth, is it not by the
vibrations given to it by the sun that light appears to us? And may it
not be that every one of the infinitely small vibrations, striking
common matter with a certain force, enters its substance, is held there
by attraction, and augmented by succeeding vibrations till the matter
has received as much as their force can drive into it?

Is it not thus that the surface of this globe is continually heated by
such repeated vibrations in the day, and cooled by the escape of the
heat when those vibrations are discontinued in the night, or intercepted
and reflected by clouds?

Is it not thus that fire is amassed, and makes the greatest part of the
substance of combustible bodies?

Perhaps, when this globe was first formed, and its original particles
took their place at certain distances from the centre, in proportion to
their greater or less gravity, the fluid fire, attracted towards that
centre, might in great part be obliged, as lightest, to take place above
the rest, and thus form the sphere of fire above supposed, which would
afterward be continually diminishing by the substance it afforded to
organized bodies, and the quantity restored to it again by the burning
or other separating of the parts of those bodies?

Is not the natural heat of animals thus produced, by separating in
digestion the parts of food, and setting their fire at liberty?

Is it not this sphere of fire which kindles the wandering globes that
sometimes pass through it in our course round the sun, have their
surface kindled by it, and burst when their included air is greatly
rarefied by the heat on their burning surfaces?

May it not have been from such considerations that the ancient
philosophers supposed a sphere of fire to exist above the air of our

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Of Lightning; and the Methods now used in America for the securing
     Buildings and Persons from its mischievous Effects._

Experiments made in electricity first gave philosophers a suspicion that
the matter of lightning was the same with the electric matter.
Experiments afterward made on lightning obtained from the clouds by
pointed rods, received into bottles, and subjected to every trial, have
since proved this suspicion to be perfectly well founded; and that,
whatever properties we find in electricity, are also the properties of

This matter of lightning or of electricity is an extreme subtile fluid,
penetrating other bodies, and subsisting in them, equally diffused.

When, by any operation of art or nature, there happens to be a greater
proportion of this fluid in one body than in another, the body which has
most will communicate to that which has least, till the proportion
becomes equal; provided the distance between them be not too great; or,
if it is too great, till there be proper conductors to convey it from
one to the other.

If the communication be through the air without any conductor, a bright
light is seen between the bodies, and a sound is heard. In our small
experiments we call this light and sound the electric spark and snap;
but in the great operations of nature the light is what we call
_lightning_, and the sound (produced at the same time, though generally
arriving later at our ears than the light does to our eyes) is, with its
echoes, called _thunder_.

If the communication of this fluid is by a conductor, it may be without
either light or sound, the subtile fluid passing in the substance of the

If the conductor be good and of sufficient bigness, the fluid passes
through it without hurting it. If otherwise, it is damaged or

All metals and water are good conductors. Other bodies may become
conductors by having some quantity of water in them, as wood and other
materials used in building; but, not having much water in them, they are
not good conductors, and, therefore, are often damaged in the operation.

Glass, wax, silk, wool, hair, feathers, and even wood, perfectly dry,
are non-conductors: that is, they resist instead of facilitating the
passage of this subtile fluid.

When this fluid has an opportunity of passing through two conductors,
one good and sufficient, as of metal, the other not so good, it passes
in the best, and will follow it in any direction.

The distance at which a body charged with this fluid will discharge
itself suddenly, striking through the air into another body that is not
charged or not so highly charged, is different according to the quantity
of the fluid, the dimensions and form of the bodies themselves, and the
state of the air between them. This distance, whatever it happens to be,
between any two bodies, is called the _striking distance_, as, till they
come within that distance of each other, no stroke will be made.

The clouds have often more of this fluid, in proportion, than the earth;
in which case, as soon as they come near enough (that is, within the
striking distance) or meet with a conductor, the fluid quits them and
strikes into the earth. A cloud fully charged with this fluid, if so
high as to be beyond the striking distance from the earth, passes
quietly without making noise or giving light, unless it meets with other
clouds that have less.

Tall trees and lofty buildings, as the towers and spires of churches,
become sometimes conductors between the clouds and the earth; but, not
being good ones, that is, not conveying the fluid freely, they are often

Buildings that have their roofs covered with lead or other metal, the
spouts of metal continued from the roof into the ground to carry off the
water, are never hurt by lightning as, whenever it falls on such a
building, it passes in the metals and not in the walls.

When other buildings happen to be within the striking distance from such
clouds, the fluid passes in the walls, whether of wood, brick, or stone,
quitting the walls only when it can find better conductors near them, as
metal rods, bolts, and hinges of windows or doors, gilding on wainscot
or frames of pictures, the silvering on the backs of looking-glasses,
the wires for bells, and the bodies of animals, as containing watery
fluids. And, in passing through the house, it follows the direction of
these conductors, taking as many in its way as can assist it in its
passage, whether in a straight or crooked line, leaping from one to the
other, if not far distant from each other, only rending the wall in the
spaces where these partial good conductors are too distant from each

An iron rod being placed on the outside of a building, from the highest
part continued down into the moist earth in any direction, straight or
crooked, following the form of the roof or parts of the building, will
receive the lightning at the upper end, attracting it so as to prevent
its striking any other part, and affording it a good conveyance into the
earth, will prevent its damaging any part of the building.

A small quantity of metal is found able to conduct a great quantity of
this fluid. A wire no bigger than a goosequill has been known to conduct
(with safety to the building as far as the wire was continued) a
quantity of lightning that did prodigious damage both above and below
it; and probably larger rods are not necessary, though it is common in
America to make them of half an inch, some of three quarters or an inch

The rod may be fastened to the wall, chimney &c., with staples of iron.
The lightning will not leave the rod (a good conductor) through those
staples. It would rather, if any were in the walls, pass out of it into
the rod, to get more readily by that conductor into the earth.

If the building be very large and extensive, two or more rods may be
placed at different parts, for greater security.

Small ragged parts of clouds, suspended in the air between the great
body of clouds and the earth (like leaf gold in electrical experiments)
often serve as partial conductors for the lightning, which proceeds from
one of them to another, and by their help comes within the striking
distance to the earth or a building. It therefore strikes through those
conductors a building that would otherwise be out of the striking

Long sharp points communicating with the earth, and presented to such
parts of clouds, drawing silently from them the fluid they are charged
with, they are then attracted to the cloud, and may leave the distance
so great as to be beyond the reach of striking.

It is therefore that we elevate the upper end of the rod six or eight
feet above the highest part of the building, tapering it gradually to a
fine sharp point, which is gilt to prevent its rusting.

Thus the pointed rod either prevents the stroke from the cloud, or, if a
stroke is made, conducts it to the earth with safety to the building.

The lower end of the rod should enter the earth so deep as to come at
the moist part, perhaps two or three feet; and if bent when under the
surface so as to go in a horizontal line six or eight feet from the
wall, and then bent again downward three or four feet, it will prevent
damage to any of the stones of the foundation.

A person apprehensive of danger from lightning, happening during the
time of thunder to be in a house not so secured, will do well to avoid
sitting near the chimney, near a looking-glass, or any gilt pictures or
wainscot; the safest place is the middle of the room (so it be not under
a metal lustre suspended by a chain), sitting on one chair and laying
the feet up in another. It is still safer to bring two or three
mattresses or beds into the middle of the room, and, folding them up
double, place the chair upon them; for they not being so good conductors
as the walls, the lightning will not choose an interrupted course
through the air of the room and the bedding, when it can go through a
continued better conductor, the wall. But where it can be had, a hammock
or swinging bed, suspended by silk cords equally distant from the walls
on every side, and from the ceiling and floor above and below, affords
the safest situation a person can have in any room whatever; and what,
indeed, may be deemed quite free from danger of any stroke by lightning.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

Paris, September, 1767.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Peter Collinson, London._


                                        Philadelphia, October 16, 1752.

As frequent mention is made in public papers from Europe of the success
of the Philadelphia experiment for drawing the electric fire from clouds
by means of pointed rods of iron erected on high buildings, &c., it may
be agreeable to the curious to be informed that the same experiment has
succeeded in Philadelphia, though made in a different and more easy
manner, which is as follows:

Make a small cross of two light strips of cedar, the arms so long as to
reach to the four corners of a large thin silk handkerchief when
extended; tie the corners of the handkerchief to the extremities of the
cross, so you have the body of a kite, which, being properly
accommodated with a tail, loop, and string, will rise in the air like
those made of paper; but this, being of silk, is fitter to bear the wet
and wind of a thunder-gust without tearing. To the top of the upright
stick of the cross is to be fixed a very sharp-pointed wire, rising a
foot or more above the wood. To the end of the twine next the hand is to
be tied a silk riband, and where the silk and twine join, a key may be
fastened. This kite is to be raised when a thunder-gust appears to be
coming on, and the person who holds the string must stand within a door
or window, or under some cover, so that the silk riband may not be wet;
and care must be taken that the twine does not touch the frame of the
door or window. As soon as any of the thunder-clouds come over the kite,
the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and the kite,
with all the twine, will be electrified, and the loose filaments of the
twine will stand out every way, and be attracted by an approaching
finger. And when the rain has wetted the kite and twine, so that it can
conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it stream out
plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle. At this key
the vial may be charged; and from electric fire thus obtained, spirits
may be kindled, and all the other electric experiments be performed,
which are usually done by the help of a rubbed glass globe or tube, and
thereby the sameness of the electric matter with that of lightning
completely demonstrated.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Physical and Meteorological Observations, Conjectures, and
     Suppositions._--Read at the Royal Society, June 3, 1756.

The particles of air are kept at a distance from each other by their
mutual repulsion * * *

Whatever particles of other matter (not endued with that repellancy) are
supported in air, must adhere to the particles of air, and be supported
by them; for in the vacancies there is nothing they can rest on.

Air and water mutually attract each other. Hence water will dissolve in
air, as salt in water.

The specific gravity of matter is not altered by dividing the matter,
though the superfices be increased. Sixteen leaden bullets, of an ounce
each, weigh as much in water as one of a pound, whose superfices is

Therefore the supporting of salt in water is not owing to its superfices
being increased.

A lump of salt, though laid at rest at the bottom of a vessel of water,
will dissolve therein, and its parts move every way, till equally
diffused in the water; therefore there is a mutual attraction between
water and salt. Every particle of water assumes as many of salt as can
adhere to it; when more is added, it precipitates, and will not remain

Water, in the same manner, will dissolve in air, every particle of air
assuming one or more particles of water. When too much is added, it
precipitates in rain.

But there not being the same contiguity between the particles of air as
of water, the solution of water in air is not carried on without a
motion of the air so as to cause a fresh accession of dry particles.

Part of a fluid, having more of what it dissolves, will communicate to
other parts that have less. Thus very salt water, coming in contact with
fresh, communicates its saltness till all is equal, and the sooner if
there is a little motion of the water. * * *

Air, suffering continual changes in the degrees of its heat, from
various causes and circumstances, and, consequently, changes in its
specific gravity, must therefore be in continual motion.

A small quantity of fire mixed with water (or degree of heat therein) so
weakens the cohesion of its particles, that those on the surface easily
quit it and adhere to the particles of air.

Air moderately heated will support a greater quantity of water invisibly
than cold air; for its particles being by heat repelled to a greater
distance from each other, thereby more easily keep the particles of
water that are annexed to them from running into cohesions that would
obstruct, refract, or reflect the light.

Hence, when we breathe in warm air, though the same quantity of moisture
may be taken up from the lungs as when we breathe in cold air, yet that
moisture is not so visible.

Water being extremely heated, _i. e._, to the degree of boiling, its
particles, in quitting it, so repel each other as to take up vastly more
space than before and by that repellancy support themselves, expelling
the air from the space they occupy. That degree of heat being lessened,
they again mutually attract, and having no air particles mixed to adhere
to, by which they might be supported and kept at a distance, they
instantly fall, coalesce, and become water again.

The water commonly diffused in our atmosphere never receives such a
degree of heat from the sun or other cause as water has when boiling; it
is not, therefore, supported by such heat, but by adhering to air. * * *

A particle of air loaded with adhering water or any other matter, is
heavier than before, and would descend.

The atmosphere supposed at rest, a loaded descending particle must act
with a force on the particles it passes between or meets with sufficient
to overcome, in some degree, their mutual repellancy, and push them
nearer to each other. * * *

Every particle of air, therefore, will bear any load inferior to the
force of these repulsions.

Hence the support of fogs, mists, clouds.

Very warm air, clear, though supporting a very great quantity of
moisture, will grow turbid and cloudy on the mixture of colder air, as
foggy, turbid air will grow clear by warming.

Thus the sun, shining on a morning fog, dissipates it; clouds are seen
to waste in a sunshiny day.

But cold condenses and renders visible the vapour: a tankard or decanter
filled with cold water will condense the moisture of warm, clear air on
its outside, where it becomes visible as dew, coalesces into drops,
descends in little streams.

The sun heats the air of our atmosphere most near the surface of the
earth; for there, besides the direct rays, there are many reflections.
Moreover, the earth itself, being heated, communicates of its heat to
the neighbouring air.

The higher regions, having only the direct rays of the sun passing
through them, are comparatively very cold. Hence the cold air on the
tops of mountains, and snow on some of them all the year, even in the
torrid zone. Hence hail in summer.

If the atmosphere were, all of it (both above and below), always of the
same temper as to cold or heat, then the upper air would always be
_rarer_ than the lower, because the pressure on it is less; consequently
lighter, and, therefore, would keep its place.

But the upper air may be more condensed by cold than the lower air by
pressure; the lower more expanded by heat than the upper for want of
pressure. In such case the upper air will become the heavier, the lower
the lighter.

The lower region of air being heated and expanded, heaves up and
supports for some time the colder, heavier air above, and will continue
to support it while the equilibrium is kept. Thus water is supported in
an inverted open glass, while the equilibrium is maintained by the equal
pressure upward of the air below; but the equilibrium by any means
breaking, the water descends on the heavier side, and the air rises into
its place.

The lifted heavy cold air over a heated country becoming by any means
unequally supported or unequal in its weight, the heaviest part descends
first, and the rest follows impetuously. Hence gusts after heats, and
hurricanes in hot climates. Hence the air of gusts and hurricanes is
cold, though in hot climates and seasons; it coming from above.

The cold air descending from above, as it penetrates our warm region
full of watery particles, condenses them, renders them visible, forms a
cloud thick and dark, overcasting sometimes, at once, large and
extensive; sometimes, when seen at a distance, small at first, gradually
increasing; the cold edge or surface of the cloud condensing the vapours
next it, which form smaller clouds that join it, increase its bulk, it
descends with the wind and its acquired weight, draws nearer the earth,
grows denser with continual additions of water, and discharges heavy

Small black clouds thus appearing in a clear sky, in hot climates
portend storms, and warn seamen to hand their sails.

The earth turning on its axis in about twenty-four hours, the equatorial
parts must move about fifteen miles in each minute; in northern and
southern latitudes this motion is gradually less to the poles, and there

If there was a general calm over the face of the globe, it must be by
the air's moving in every part as fast as the earth or sea it covers. *
* *

The air under the equator and between the tropics being constantly
heated and rarefied by the sun, rises. Its place is supplied by air from
northern and southern latitudes, which, coming from parts wherein the
earth and air had less motion, and not suddenly acquiring the quicker
motion of the equatorial earth, appears an east wind blowing westward;
the earth moving from west to east, and slipping under the air.[37]

     [37] See a paper on this subject, by the late ingenious Mr. Hadley,
     in the Philadelphia Transactions, wherein this hypothesis of
     explaining the tradewinds first appeared.

Thus, when we ride in a calm, it seems a wind against us: if we ride
with the wind, and faster, even that will seem a small wind against us.

The air rarefied between the tropics, and rising, must flow in the
higher region north and south. Before it rose it had acquired the
greatest motion the earth's rotation could give it. It retains some
degree of this motion, and descending in higher latitudes, where the
earth's motion is less, will appear a westerly wind, yet tending towards
the equatorial parts, to supply the vacancy occasioned by the air of the
lower regions flowing thitherward.

Hence our general cold winds are about northwest, our summer cold gusts
the same.

The air in sultry weather, though not cloudy, has a kind of haziness in
it, which makes objects at a distance appear dull and indistinct. This
haziness is occasioned by the great quantity of moisture equally
diffused in that air. When, by the cold wind blowing down among it, it
is condensed into clouds, and falls in rain, the air becomes purer and
clearer. Hence, after gusts, distant objects appear distinct, their
figures sharply terminated.

Extreme cold winds congeal the surface of the earth by carrying off its
fire. Warm winds afterward blowing over that frozen surface will be
chilled by it. Could that frozen surface be turned under, and warmer
turned up from beneath it, those warm winds would not be chilled so

The surface of the earth is also sometimes much heated by the sun: and
such heated surface, not being changed, heats the air that moves over

Seas, lakes, and great bodies of water, agitated by the winds,
continually change surfaces; the cold surface in winter is turned under
by the rolling of the waves, and a warmer turned up; in summer the warm
is turned under, and colder turned up. Hence the more equal temper of
seawater, and the air over it. Hence, in winter, winds from the sea seem
warm, winds from the land cold. In summer the contrary.

Therefore the lakes northwest of us,[38] as they are not so much frozen,
nor so apt to freeze as the earth, rather moderate than increase the
coldness of our winter winds.

     [38] In Pennsylvania.

The air over the sea being warmer, and, therefore, lighter in winter
than the air over the frozen land, may be another cause of our general
northwest winds, which blow off to sea at right angles from our North
American coast. The warm, light sea-air rising, the heavy, cold land-air
pressing into its place.

Heavy fluids, descending, frequently form eddies or whirlpools, as is
seen in a funnel, where the water acquires a circular motion, receding
every way from a centre, and leaving a vacancy in the middle, greatest
above, and lessening downward, like a speaking-trumpet, its big end

Air, descending or ascending, may form the same kind of eddies or
whirlings, the parts of air acquiring a circular motion, and receding
from the middle of the circle by a centrifugal force, and leaving there
a vacancy; if descending, greatest above and lessening downward; if
ascending, greatest below and lessening upward; like a speaking-trumpet
standing its big end on the ground.

When the air descends with a violence in some places, it may rise with
equal violence in others, and form both kinds of whirlwinds.

The air, in its whirling motion, receding every way from the centre or
axis of the trumpet, leaves there a _vacuum_, which cannot be filled
through the sides, the whirling air, as an arch, preventing; it must
then press in at the open ends.

The greatest pressure inward must be at the lower end, the greatest
weight of the surrounding atmosphere being there. The air, entering,
rises within, and carries up dust, leaves, and even heavier bodies that
happen in its way, as the eddy or whirl passes over land.

If it passes over water, the weight of the surrounding atmosphere forces
up the water into the vacuity, part of which, by degrees, joins with the
whirling air, and, adding weight and receiving accelerated motion,
recedes farther from the centre or axis of the trump as the pressure
lessens; and at last, as the trump widens, is broken into small
particles, and so united with air as to be supported by it, and become
black clouds at the top of the trump.

Thus these eddies may be whirlwinds at land, water-spouts at sea. A body
of water so raised may be suddenly let fall, when the motion, &c., has
not strength to support it, or the whirling arch is broken so as to
admit the air: falling in the sea, it is harmless unless ships happen
under it; and if in the progressive motion of the whirl it has moved
from the sea over the land, and then breaks, sudden, violent, and
mischievous torrents are the consequences.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Dr. Perkins._

     _Water-spouts and Whirlwinds compared._--Read at the Royal Society,
     June 24, 1753.

                                        Philadelphia, Feb. 4, 1753.

I ought to have written to you long since, in answer to yours of October
16, concerning the water-spout; but business partly, and partly a desire
of procuring farther information by inquiry among my seafaring
acquaintance, induced me to postpone writing, from time to time, till I
am almost ashamed to resume the subject, not knowing but you may have
forgot what has been said upon it.

Nothing certainly can be more improving to a searcher into nature than
objections judiciously made to his opinion, taken up, perhaps, too
hastily: for such objections oblige him to restudy the point, consider
every circumstance carefully, compare facts, make experiments, weigh
arguments, and be slow in drawing conclusions. And hence a sure
advantage results; for he either confirms a truth before too slightly
supported, or discovers an error, and receives instruction from the

In this view I consider the objections and remarks you sent me, and
thank you for them sincerely; but, how much soever my inclinations lead
me to philosophical inquiries, I am so engaged in business, public and
private, that those more pleasing pursuits are frequently interrupted,
and the chain of thought necessary to be closely continued in such
disquisitions is so broken and disjointed, that it is with difficulty I
satisfy myself in any of them; and I am now not much nearer a conclusion
in this matter of the spout than when I first read your letter.

Yet, hoping we may, in time, sift out the truth between us, I will send
you my present thoughts, with some observations on your reasons on the
accounts in the _Transactions_, and on other relations I have met with.
Perhaps, while I am writing, some new light may strike me, for I shall
now be obliged to consider the subject with a little more attention.

I agree with you, that, by means of a vacuum in a whirlwind, water
cannot be supposed to rise in large masses to the region of the clouds;
for the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere could not force it up in
a continued body or column to a much greater height than thirty feet.
But if there really is a vacuum in the centre, or near the axis of
whirlwinds, then, I think, water may rise in such vacuum to that height,
or to a less height, as the vacuum may be less perfect.

I had not read Stuart's account, in the _Transactions_, for many years
before the receipt of your letter, and had quite forgot it; but now, on
viewing his draughts and considering his descriptions, I think they seem
to favour _my hypothesis_; for he describes and draws columns of water
of various heights, terminating abruptly at the top, exactly as water
would do when forced up by the pressure of the atmosphere into an
exhausted tube.

I must, however, no longer call it _my hypothesis_, since I find Stuart
had the same thought, though somewhat obscurely expressed, where he says
"he imagines this phenomenon may be solved by suction (improperly so
called) or rather pulsion, as in the application of a cupping-glass to
the flesh, the air being first voided by the kindled flax."

In my paper, I supposed a whirlwind and a spout to be the same thing,
and to proceed from the same cause; the only difference between them
being that the one passes over the land, the other over water. I find
also in the _Transactions_, that M. de la Pryme was of the same opinion;
for he there describes two spouts, as he calls them, which were seen at
different times, at Hatfield, in Yorkshire, whose appearances in the air
were the same with those of the spouts at sea, and effects the same with
those of real whirlwinds.

Whirlwinds have generally a progressive as well as a circular motion; so
had what is called the spout at Topsham, as described in the
Philosophical Transactions, which also appears, by its effects
described, to have been a real whirlwind. Water-spouts have, also, a
progressive motion; this is sometimes greater and sometimes less; in
some violent, in others barely perceivable. The whirlwind at Warrington
continued long in Acrement Close.

Whirlwinds generally arise after calms and great heats: the same is
observed of water-spouts, which are, therefore, most frequent in the
warm latitudes. The spout that happened in cold weather, in the Downs,
described by Mr. Gordon in the _Transactions_, was, for that reason,
thought extraordinary; but he remarks withal, that the weather, though
cold when the spout appeared, was soon after much colder: as we find it
commonly less warm after a whirlwind.

You agree that the wind blows every way towards a whirlwind from a large
space round. An intelligent whaleman of Nantucket informed me that three
of their vessels, which were out in search of whales, happening to be
becalmed, lay in sight of each other, at about a league distance, if I
remember right, nearly forming a triangle: after some time, a
water-spout appeared near the middle of the triangle, when a brisk
breeze of wind sprung up, and every vessel made sail; and then it
appeared to them all, by the setting of the sails and the course each
vessel stood, that the spout was to the leeward of every one of them;
and they all declared it to have been so when they happened afterward in
company, and came to confer about it. So that in this particular,
likewise, whirlwinds and water-spouts agree.

But if that which appears a water-spout at sea does sometimes, in its
progressive motion, meet with and pass over land, and there produce all
the phenomena and effects of a whirlwind, it should thence seem still
more evident that a whirlwind and a spout are the same. I send you,
herewith, a letter from an ingenious physician of my acquaintance, which
gives one instance of this, that fell within his observation.

A fluid, moving from all points horizontally towards a centre, must, at
that centre, either ascend or descend. Water being in a tub, if a hole
be opened in the middle of the bottom, will flow from all sides to the
centre, and there descend in a whirl. But air flowing on and near the
surface of land or water, from all sides towards a centre, must at that
centre ascend, the land or water hindering its descent.

If these concentring currents of air be in the upper region, they may,
indeed, descend in the spout or whirlwind; but then, when the united
current reached the earth or water, it would spread, and, probably, blow
every way from the centre. There may be whirlwinds of both kinds, but
from the commonly observed effects I suspect the rising one to be the
most common: when the upper air descends, it is, perhaps, in a greater
body, extending wider, as in our thunder-gusts, and without much
whirling; and, when air descends in a spout or whirlwind, I should
rather expect it would press the roof of a house _inward_, or force _in_
the tiles, shingles, or thatch, force a boat down into the water, or a
piece of timber into the earth, than that it would lift them up and
carry them away.

It has so happened that I have not met with any accounts of spouts that
certainly descended; I suspect they are not frequent. Please to
communicate those you mention. The apparent dropping of a pipe from the
clouds towards the earth or sea, I will endeavour to explain hereafter.

The augmentation of the cloud, which, as I am informed, is generally,
if not always the case, during a spout, seems to show an ascent rather
than a descent of the matter of which such cloud is composed; for a
descending spout, one would expect, should diminish a cloud. I own,
however, that cold air, descending, may, by condensing the vapours in a
lower region, form and increase clouds; which, I think, is generally the
case in our common thunder-gusts, and, therefore, do not lay great
stress on this argument.

Whirlwinds and spouts are not always, though most commonly, in the
daytime. The terrible whirlwind which damaged a great part of Rome, June
11, 1749, happened in the night of that day. The same was supposed to
have been first a spout, for it is said to be beyond doubt that it
gathered in the neighbouring sea, as it could be tracked from Ostia to
Rome. I find this in Père Boschovich's account of it, as abridged in the
Monthly Review for December, 1750.

In that account, the whirlwind is said to have appeared as a very black,
long, and lofty cloud, discoverable, notwithstanding the darkness of the
night, by its continually lightning or emitting flashes on all sides,
pushing along with a surprising swiftness, and within three or four feet
of the ground. Its general effects on houses were stripping off the
roofs, blowing away chimneys, breaking doors and windows, _forcing up
the floors, and unpaving the rooms_ (some of these effects seem to agree
well with a supposed vacuum in the centre of the whirlwind), and the
very rafters of the houses were broken and dispersed, and even hurled
against houses at a considerable distance, &c.

It seems, by an expression of Père Boschovich's, as if the wind blew
from all sides towards the whirlwind; for, having carefully observed its
effects, he concludes of all whirlwinds, "that their motion is circular,
and their action attractive."

He observes on a number of histories of whirlwinds, &c., "that a common
effect of them is to carry up into the air tiles, stones, and animals
themselves, which happen to be in their course, and all kinds of bodies
unexceptionably, throwing them to a considerable distance with great

Such effects seem to show a rising current of air.

I will endeavour to explain my conceptions of this matter by figures,
representing a plan and an elevation of a spout or whirlwind.

I would only first beg to be allowed two or three positions mentioned in
my former paper.

1. That the lower region of air is often more heated, and so more
rarefied, than the upper; consequently, specifically lighter. The
coldness of the upper region is manifested by the hail which sometimes
falls from it in a hot day.

2. That heated air may be very moist, and yet the moisture so equally
diffused and rarefied as not to be visible till colder air mixes with
it, when it condenses and becomes visible. Thus our breath, invisible in
summer, becomes visible in winter.

Now let us suppose a tract of land or sea, of perhaps sixty miles
square, unscreened by clouds and unfanned by winds during great part of
a summer's day, or, it may be, for several days successively, till it is
violently heated, together with the lower region of air in contact with
it, so that the said lower air becomes specifically lighter than the
superincumbent higher region of the atmosphere in which the clouds
commonly float: let us suppose, also, that the air surrounding this
tract has not been so much heated during those days, and, therefore,
remains heavier. The consequence of this should be, as I conceive, that
the heated lighter air, being pressed on all sides, must ascend, and the
heavier descend; and as this rising cannot be in all parts, or the whole
area of the tract at once, for that would leave too extensive a vacuum,
the rising will begin precisely in that column that happens to be the
lightest or most rarefied; and the warm air will flow horizontally from
all points to this column, where the several currents meeting, and
joining to rise, a whirl is naturally formed, in the same manner as a
whirl is formed in the tub of water, by the descending fluid flowing
from all sides of the tub to the hole in the centre.

And as the several currents arrive at this central rising column with a
considerable degree of horizontal motion, they cannot suddenly change it
to a vertical motion; therefore, as they gradually, in approaching the
whirl, decline from right curved or circular lines, so, having joined
the whirl, they _ascend_ by a spiral motion, in the same manner as the
water _descends_ spirally through the hole in the tub before mentioned.

Lastly, as the lower air, and nearest the surface, is most rarefied by
the heat of the sun, that air is most acted on by the pressure of the
surrounding cold and heavy air, which is to take its place;
consequently, its motion towards the whirl is swiftest, and so the force
of the lower part of the whirl or trump strongest, and the centrifugal
force of its particles greatest; and hence the vacuum round the axis of
the whirl should be greatest near the earth or sea, and be gradually
diminished as it approaches the region of the clouds, till it ends in a
point, as at P, _Fig. 2. in the plate_, forming a long and sharp cone.

In figure 1, which is a plan or groundplat of a whirlwind, the circle V
represents the central vacuum.

Between _a a a a_ and _b b b b_ I suppose a body of air, condensed
strongly by the pressure of the currents moving towards it from all
sides without, and by its centrifugal force from within, moving round
with prodigious swiftness (having, as it were, the entire momenta
of all the currents ----> ----> united in itself), and with
a power equal to its swiftness and density.

It is this whirling body of air between _a a a a_ and _b b b b_ that
rises spirally; by its force it tears buildings to pieces, twists up
great trees by the roots, &c., and, by its spiral motion, raises the
fragments so high, till the pressure of the surrounding and approaching
currents diminishing, can no longer confine them to the circle, or their
own centrifugal force increasing, grows too strong for such pressure,
when they fly off in tangent lines, as stones out of a sling, and fall
on all sides and at great distances.

If it happens at sea, the water under and between _a a a a_ and _b b b
b_ will be violently agitated and driven about, and parts of it raised
with the spiral current, and thrown about so as to form a bushlike

This circle is of various diameters, sometimes very large. If the vacuum
passes over water, the water may rise in it in a body or column to near
the height of thirty-two feet. If it passes over houses, it may burst
their windows or walls outward, pluck off the roofs, and pluck up the
floors, by the sudden rarefaction of the air contained within such
buildings; the outward pressure of the atmosphere being suddenly taken
off; so the stopped bottle of air bursts under the exhausted receiver of
the airpump.

Fig. 2 is to represent the elevation of a water-spout, wherein I suppose
P P P to be the cone, at first a vacuum, till W W, the rising column of
water, has filled so much of it. S S S S, the spiral whirl of air,
surrounding the vacuum, and continued higher in a close column after the
vacuum ends in the point P, till it reaches the cool region of the air.
B B, the bush described by Stuart, surrounding the foot of the column of

Now I suppose this whirl of air will at first be as invisible as the
air itself, though reaching, in reality, from the water to the region of
cool air, in which our low summer thunder-clouds commonly float: but
presently it will become visible at its extremities. _At its lower end_,
by the agitation of the water under the whirling part of the circle,
between P and S, forming Stuart's bush, and by the swelling and rising
of the water in the beginning vacuum, which is at first a small, low,
broad cone, whose top gradually rises and sharpens, as the force of the
whirl increases. _At its upper end_ it becomes visible by the warm air
brought up to the cooler region, where its moisture begins to be
condensed into thick vapour by the cold, and is seen first at A, the
highest part, which, being now cooled, condenses what rises next at B,
which condenses that at C, and that condenses what is rising at D, the
cold operating by the contact of the vapours faster in a right line
downward than the vapours can climb in a spiral line upward; they climb,
however, and as by continual addition they grow denser, and,
consequently, their centrifugal force greater, and being risen above the
concentrating currents that compose the whirl, fly off, spread, and form
a cloud.

It seems easy to conceive how, by this successive condensation from
above, the spout appears to drop or descend from the cloud, though the
materials of which it is composed are all the while ascending.

The condensation of the moisture contained in so great a quantity of
warm air as may be supposed to rise in a short time in this prodigiously
rapid whirl, is perhaps sufficient to form a great extent of cloud,
though the spout should be over land, as those at Hatfield; and if the
land happens not to be very dusty, perhaps the lower part of the spout
will scarce become visible at all; though the upper, or what is commonly
called the descending part, be very distinctly seen.

The same may happen at sea, in case the whirl is not violent enough to
make a high vacuum, and raise the column, &c. In such case, the upper
part A B C D only will be visible, and the bush, perhaps, below.

But if the whirl be strong, and there be much dust on the land, and the
column W W be raised from the water, then the lower part becomes visible
and sometimes even united to the upper part. For the dust may be carried
up in the spiral whirl till it reach the region where the vapour is
condensed, and rise with that even to the clouds: and the friction of
the whirling air on the sides of the column W W, may detach great
quantities of its water, break it into drops, and carry them up in the
spiral whirl, mixed with the air; the heavier drops may indeed fly off,
and fall in a shower round the spout; but much of it will be broken into
vapour, yet visible; and thus, in both cases, by dust at land and by
water at sea, the whole tube may be darkened and rendered visible.

As the whirl weakens, the tube may (in appearance) separate in the
middle; the column of water subsiding, and the superior condensed part
drawing up to the cloud. Yet still the tube or whirl of air may remain
entire, the middle only becoming invisible, as not containing visible

Dr. Stuart says, "It was observable of all the spouts he saw, but more
perceptible of the great one, that, towards the end, it began to appear
like a hollow canal, only black in the borders, but white in the middle;
and though at first it was altogether black and opaque, yet now one
could very distinctly perceive the seawater to fly up along the middle
of this canal, as smoke up a chimney."

And Dr. Mather, describing a whirlwind, says, "A thick dark, small cloud
arose, with a pillar of light in it, of about eight or ten feet
diameter, and passed along the ground in a tract not wider than a
street, horribly tearing up trees by the roots, blowing them up in the
air life feathers, and throwing up stones of great weight to a
considerable height in the air," &c.

These accounts, the one of water-spouts, the other of a whirlwind, seem
in this particular to agree; what one gentleman describes as a tube,
black in the borders and white in the middle, the other calls a black
cloud, with a pillar of light in it; the latter expression has only a
little more of the _marvellous_, but the thing is the same; and it seems
not very difficult to understand. When Dr. Stuart's spouts were full
charged, that is, when the whirling pipe of air was filled between _a a
a a_ and _b b b b_, fig. 1, with quantities of drops, and vapour torn
off from the column W W, fig. 2, the whole was rendered so dark as that
it could not be seen through, nor the spiral ascending motion
discovered; but when the quantity ascending lessened, the pipe became
more transparent, and the ascending motion visible. For, by inspection
of the figure given in the opposite page, respecting a section of our
spout, with the vacuum in the middle, it is plain that if we look at
such a hollow pipe in the direction of the arrows, and suppose opaque
particles to be equally mixed in the space between the two circular
lines, both the part between the arrows _a_ and _b_, and that between
the arrows _c_ and _d_, will appear much darker than that between _b_
and _c_, as there must be many more of those opaque particles in the
line of vision across the sides than across the middle. It is thus that
a hair in a microscope evidently appears to be a pipe, the sides showing
darker than the middle. Dr. Mather's whirl was probably filled with
dust, the sides were very dark, but the vacuum within rendering the
middle more transparent, he calls it a pillar of light.


  Fig. 1
  Fig. 2
  Fig. 3]

It was in this more transparent part, between _b_ and _c_, that Stuart
could see the spiral motion of the vapours, whose lines on the nearest
and farthest side of the transparent part crossing each other,
represented smoke ascending in a chimney; for the quantity being still
too great in the line of sight through the sides of the tube, the motion
could not be discovered there, and so they represented the solid sides
of the chimney.

When the vapours reach in the pipe from the clouds near to the earth, it
is no wonder now to those who understand electricity, that flashes of
lightning should descend by the spout, as in that of Rome.

But you object, if water may be thus carried into the clouds, why have
we not salt rains? The objection is strong and reasonable, and I know
not whether I can answer it to your satisfaction. I never heard but of
one salt rain, and that was where a spout passed pretty near a ship; so
I suppose it to be only the drops thrown off from the spout by the
centrifugal force (as the birds were at Hatfield), when they had been
carried so high as to be above, or to be too strongly centrifugal for
the pressure of the concurring winds surrounding it: and, indeed, I
believe there can be no other kind of salt rain; for it has pleased the
goodness of God so to order it, that the particles of air will not
attract the particles of salt, though they strongly attract water.

Hence, though all metals, even gold, may be united with air and rendered
volatile, salt remains fixed in the fire, and no heat can force it up to
any considerable height, or oblige the air to hold it. Hence, when salt
rises, as it will a little way, into air with water, there is instantly
a separation made; the particles of water adhere to the air, and the
particles of salt fall down again, as if repelled and forced off from
the water by some power in the air; or, as some metals, dissolved in a
proper _menstruum_, will quit the solvent when other matter approaches,
and adhere to that, so the water quits the salt and embraces the air;
but air will not embrace the salt and quit the water, otherwise our
rains would indeed be salt, and every tree and plant on the face of the
earth be destroyed, with all the animals that depend on them for
subsistence. He who hath proportioned and given proper quantities to all
things, was not unmindful of this. Let us adore Him with praise and

By some accounts of seamen, it seems the column of water W W sometimes
falls suddenly; and if it be, as some say, fifteen or twenty yards
diameter, it must fall with great force, and they may well fear for
their ships. By one account, in the _Transactions_, of a spout that fell
at Colne, in Lancashire, one would think the column is sometimes lifted
off from the water and carried over land, and there let fall in a body;
but this, I suppose, happens rarely.

Stuart describes his spouts as appearing no bigger than a mast, and
sometimes less; but they were seen at a league and a half distance.

I think I formerly read in Dampier, or some other voyager, that a spout,
in its progressive motion, went over a ship becalmed on the coast of
Guinea, and first threw her down on one side, carrying away her
foremast, then suddenly whipped her up, and threw her down on the other
side, carrying away her mizen-mast, and the whole was over in an
instant. I suppose the first mischief was done by the foreside of the
whirl, the latter by the hinderside, their motion being contrary.

I suppose a whirlwind or spout may be stationary when the concurring
winds are equal; but if unequal, the whirl acquires a progressive motion
in the direction of the strongest pressure.

When the wind that gives the progressive motion becomes stronger below
than above, or above than below, the spout will be bent, and, the cause
ceasing, straighten again.

Your queries towards the end of your paper appear judicious and worth
considering. At present I am not furnished with facts sufficient to
make any pertinent answer to them, and this paper has already a
sufficient quantity of conjecture.

Your manner of accommodating the accounts to your hypothesis of
descending spouts is, I own, in ingenious, and perhaps that hypothesis
may be true. I will consider it farther, but, as yet, I am not satisfied
with it, though hereafter I may be.

Here you have my method of accounting for the principal phenomena, which
I submit to your candid examination.

And as I now seem to have almost written a book instead of a letter, you
will think it high time I should conclude; which I beg leave to do, with
assuring you that I am, &c.,

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Alexander Small, London._


                                             May 12, 1760.

Agreeable to your request, I send you my reasons for thinking that our
northeast storms in North America begin first, in point of time, in the
southwest parts; that is to say, the air in Georgia, the farthest of our
colonies to the southwest, begins to move southwesterly before the air
of Carolina, which is the next colony northeastward; the air of Carolina
has the same motion before the air of Virginia, which lies still more
northeastward; and so on northeasterly through Pennsylvania, New-York,
New-England, &c., quite to Newfoundland.

These northeast storms are generally very violent, continue sometimes
two or three days, and often do considerable damage in the harbours
along the coast. They are attended with thick clouds and rain.

What first gave me this idea was the following circumstance. About
twenty years ago, a few more or less, I cannot from my memory be
certain, we were to have an eclipse of the moon at Philadelphia, on a
Friday evening, about nine o'clock. I intended to observe it, but was
prevented by a northeast storm, which came on about seven, with thick
clouds as usual, that quite obscured the whole hemisphere. Yet when the
post brought us the Boston newspaper, giving an account of the effects
of the same storm in those parts, I found the beginning of the eclipse
had been well observed there, though Boston lies N. E. of Philadelphia
about four hundred miles. This puzzled me, because the storm began with
us so soon as to prevent any observation; and being a northeast storm, I
imagined it must have begun rather sooner in places farther to the
northeastward than it did at Philadelphia. I therefore mentioned it in a
letter to my brother, who lived at Boston; and he informed me the storm
did not begin with them till near eleven o'clock, so that they had a
good observation of the eclipse; and upon comparing all the other
accounts I received from the several colonies of the time of beginning
of the same storm, and, since that, of other storms of the same kind, I
found the beginning to be always later the farther northeastward. I have
not my notes with me here in England, and cannot, from memory, say the
proportion of time to distance, but I think it is about an hour to every
hundred miles.

From thence I formed an idea of the cause of these storms, which I would
explain by a familiar instance or two. Suppose a long canal of water
stopped at the end by a gate. The water is quite at rest till the gate
is open, then it begins to move out through the gate; the water next the
gate is first in motion, and moves towards the gate; the water next to
that first water moves next, and so on successively, till the water at
the head of the canal is in motion, which is last of all. In this case
all the water moves, indeed, towards the gate, but the successive times
of beginning motion are the contrary way, viz., from the gate backward
to the head of the canal. Again, suppose the air in a chamber at rest,
no current through the room till you make a fire in the chimney.
Immediately the air in the chimney, being rarefied by the fire, rises;
the air next the chimney flows in to supply its place, moving towards
the chimney; and, in consequence, the rest of the air successively,
quite back to the door. Thus, to produce our northeast storms, I suppose
some great heat and rarefaction of the air in or about the Gulf of
Mexico; the air, thence rising, has its place supplied by the next more
northern, cooler, and, therefore, denser and heavier air; that, being in
motion, is followed by the next more northern air, &c., in a successive
current, to which current our coast and inland ridge of mountains give
the direction of northeast, as they lie N. E. and S. W.

This I offer only as an hypothesis to account for this particular fact;
and perhaps, on farther examination, a better and truer may be found. I
do not suppose all storms generated in the same manner. Our northwest
thunder-gusts in America, I know, are not; but of them I have written my
opinion fully in a paper which you have seen.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Dr. Lining, at Charleston._


                                             New-York, April 14, 1757.

It is a long time since I had the pleasure of a line from you; and,
indeed, the troubles of our country, with the hurry of business I have
been engaged in on that account, have made me so bad a correspondent,
that I ought not to expect punctuality in others.

But, being about to embark for England, I could not quit the continent
without paying my respects to you, and, at the same time, taking leave
to introduce to your acquaintance a gentleman of learning and merit,
Colonel Henry Bouquet, who does me the favour to present you this
letter, and with whom I am sure you will be much pleased.

Professor Simpson, of Glasgow, lately communicated to me some curious
experiments of a physician of his acquaintance, by which it appeared
that an extraordinary degree of cold, even to freezing, might be
produced by evaporation. I have not had leisure to repeat and examine
more than the first and easiest of them, viz.: wet the ball of a
thermometer by a feather dipped in spirits of wine which has been kept
in the same room, and has, of course, the same degree of heat or cold.
The mercury sinks presently three or four degrees, and the quicker if,
during the evaporation, you blow on the ball with bellows; a second
wetting and blowing, when the mercury is down, carries it yet lower. I
think I did not get it lower than five or six degrees from where it
naturally stood, which was at that time sixty. But it is said that a
vessel of water, being placed in another somewhat larger, containing
spirit, in such a manner that the vessel of water is surrounded with the
spirit, and both placed under the receiver of an airpump; on exhausting
the air, the spirit, evaporating, leaves such a degree of cold as to
freeze the water, though the thermometer in the open air stands many
degrees above the freezing point.

I know not how this phenomena is to be accounted for, but it gives me
occasion to mention some loose notions relating to heat and cold, which
I have for some time entertained, but not yet reduced into any form.
Allowing common fire, as well as electrical, to be a fluid capable of
permeating other bodies and seeking an equilibrium, I imagine some
bodies are better fitted by nature to be conductors of that fluid than
others; and that, generally, those which are the best conductors of the
electric fluid are also the best conductors of this; and _è contra_.

Thus a body which is a good conductor of fire readily receives it into
its substance, and conducts it through the whole to all the parts, as
metals and water do; and if two bodies, both good conductors, one
heated, the other in its common state, are brought into contact with
each other, the body which has most fire readily communicates of it to
that which had least, and that which had least readily receives it, till
an equilibrium is produced. Thus, if you take a dollar between your
fingers with one hand, and a piece of wood of the same dimensions with
the other, and bring both at the same time to the flame of a candle, you
will find yourself obliged to drop the dollar before you drop the wood,
because it conducts the heat of the candle sooner to your flesh. Thus,
if a silver teapot had a handle of the same metal, it would conduct the
heat from the water to the hand, and become too hot to be used; we
therefore give to a metal teapot a handle of wood, which is not so good
a conductor as metal. But a China or stone teapot, being in some degree
of the nature of glass, which is not a good conductor of heat, may have
a handle of the same stuff. Thus, also, a damp, moist air shall make a
man more sensible of cold, or chill him more than a dry air that is
colder, because a moist air is fitter to receive and conduct away the
heat of his body. This fluid, entering bodies in great quantity, first
expands them, by separating their parts a little; afterward, by farther
separating their parts, it renders solids fluid, and at length
dissipates their parts in air. Take this fluid from melted lead or from
water, the parts cohere again; the first grows solid, the latter becomes
ice: and this is sooner done by the means of good conductors. Thus, if
you take, as I have done, a square bar of lead, four inches long and
one inch thick, together with three pieces of wood planed to the same
dimensions, and lay them on a smooth board, fixed so as not to be easily
separated or moved, and pour into the cavity they form as much melted
lead as will fill it, you will see the melted lead chill and become firm
on the side next the leaden bar some time before it chills on the other
three sides in contact with the wooden bars, though, before the lead was
poured in, they might all be supposed to have the same degree of heat or
coldness, as they had been exposed in the same room to the same air. You
will likewise observe, that the leaden bar, as it has cooled the melted
lead more than the wooden bars have done, so it is itself more heated by
the melted lead. There is a certain quantity of this fluid, called fire,
in every living human body; which fluid being in due proportion, keeps
the parts of the flesh and blood at such a just distance from each
other, as that the flesh and nerves are supple, and the blood fit for
circulation. If part of this due proportion of fire be conducted away,
by means of a contact with other bodies, as air, water, or metals, the
parts of our skin and flesh that come into such contact first draw more
near together than is agreeable, and give that sensation which we call
cold; and if too much be conveyed away, the body stiffens, the blood
ceases to flow, and death ensues. On the other hand, if too much of this
fluid be communicated to the flesh, the parts are separated too far, and
pain ensues, as when they are separated by a pin or lancet. The
sensation that the separation by fire occasions we call heat or burning.
My desk on which I now write, and the lock of my desk, are both exposed
to the same temperature of the air, and have, therefore, the same degree
of heat or cold: yet if I lay my hand successively on the wood and on
the metal, the latter feels much the coldest; not that it is really so,
but, being a better conductor, it more readily than the wood takes away
and draws into itself the fire that was in my skin. Accordingly, if I
lay one hand part on the lock and part on the wood, and after it had
laid on some time, I feel both parts with my other hand, I find the part
that has been in contact with the lock very sensibly colder to the touch
than the part that lay on the wood. How a living animal obtains its
quantity of this fluid, called fire, is a curious question. I have shown
that some bodies (as metals) have a power of attracting it stronger than
others; and I have sometimes suspected that a living body had some power
of attracting out of the air, or other bodies, the heat it wanted. Thus
metals hammered, or repeatedly bent, grow hot in the bent or hammered
part. But when I consider that air, in contact with the body, cools it;
that the surrounding air is rather heated by its contact with the body;
that every breath of cooler air drawn in carries off part of the body's
heat when it passes out again; that, therefore, there must be in the
body a fund for producing it, or otherwise the animal would soon grow
cold; I have been rather inclined to think that the fluid _fire_, as
well as the fluid _air_, is attracted by plants in their growth, and
becomes consolidated with the other materials of which they are formed,
and makes a great part of their substance; that, when they come to be
digested, and to suffer in the vessels a kind of fermentation, part of
the fire, as well as part of the air, recovers its fluid, active state
again, and diffuses itself in the body, digesting and separating it;
that the fire, so reproduced by digestion and separation, continually
leaving the body, its place is supplied by fresh quantities, arising
from the continual separation; that whatever quickens the motion of the
fluids in an animal quickens the separation, and reproduces more of the
fire, as exercise; that all the fire emitted by wood and other
combustibles, when burning, existed in them before in a solid state,
being only discovered when separating; that some fossils, as sulphur,
seacoal, &c., contain a great deal of solid fire; and that, in short,
what escapes and is dissipated in the burning of bodies, besides water
and earth, is generally the air and fire that before made parts of the
solid. Thus I imagine that animal heat arises by or from a kind of
fermentation in the juices of the body, in the same manner as heat
arises in the liquors preparing for distillation, wherein there is a
separation of the spirituous from the watery and earthy parts. And it is
remarkable, that the liquor in a distiller's vat, when in its best and
highest state of fermentation, as I have been informed, has the same
degree of heat with the human body: that is, about 94 or 96.

Thus, as by a constant supply of fuel in a chimney you keep a warm room,
so by a constant supply of food in the stomach you keep a warm body;
only where little exercise is used the heat may possibly be conducted
away too fast; in which case such materials are to be used for clothing
and bedding, against the effects of an immediate contact of the air, as
are in themselves bad conductors of heat, and, consequently, prevent its
being communicated through their substance to the air. Hence what is
called _warmth_ in wool, and its preference on that account to linen,
wool not being so good a conductor; and hence all the natural coverings
of animals to keep them warm are such as retain and confine the natural
heat in the body by being bad conductors, such as wool, hair, feathers,
and the silk by which the silkworm, in its tender embryo state, is first
clothed. Clothing, thus considered, does not make a man warm by _giving_
warmth, but by _preventing_ the too quick dissipation of the heat
produced in his body, and so occasioning an accumulation.

There is another curious question I will just venture to touch upon,
viz., Whence arises the sudden extraordinary degree of cold,
perceptible on mixing some chymical liquors, and even on mixing salt and
snow, where the composition appears colder than the coldest of the
ingredients? I have never seen the chymical mixtures made, but salt and
snow I have often mixed myself, and am fully satisfied that the
composition feels much colder to the touch, and lowers the mercury in
the thermometer more than either ingredient would do separately. I
suppose, with others, that cold is nothing more than the absence of heat
or fire. Now if the quantity of fire before contained or diffused in the
snow and salt was expelled in the uniting of the two matters, it must be
driven away either through the air or the vessel containing them. If it
is driven off through the air, it must warm the air, and a thermometer
held over the mixture, without touching it, would discover the heat by
the raising of the mercury, as it must and always does in warm air.

This, indeed, I have not tried, but I should guess it would rather be
driven off through the vessel, especially if the vessel be metal, as
being a better conductor than air; and so one should find the basin
warmer after such mixture. But, on the contrary, the vessel grows cold,
and even water, in which the vessel is sometimes placed for the
experiment, freezes into hard ice on the basin. Now I know not how to
account for this, otherwise than by supposing that the composition is a
better conductor of fire than the ingredients separately, and, like the
lock compared with the wood, has a stronger power of attracting fire,
and does accordingly attract it suddenly from the fingers, or a
thermometer put into it, from the basin that contains it, and from the
water in contact with the outside of the basin; so that the fingers have
the sensation of extreme cold by being deprived of much of their natural
fire; the thermometer sinks by having part of its fire drawn out of the
mercury; the basin grows colder to the touch, as, by having its fire
drawn into the mixture, it is become more capable of drawing and
receiving it from the hand; and, through the basin, the water loses its
fire that kept it fluid; so it becomes ice. One would expect that, from
all this attracted acquisition of fire to the composition, it should
become warmer; and, in fact, the snow and salt dissolve at the same time
into water, without freezing.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Peter Franklin, Newport, Rhode Island._


                                             London, May 7, 1760.

* * It has, indeed, as you observe, been the opinion of some very great
naturalists, that the sea is salt only from the dissolution of mineral
or rock-salt which its waters happen to meet with. But this opinion
takes it for granted that all water was originally fresh, of which we
can have no proof. I own I am inclined to a different opinion, and
rather think all the water on this globe was originally salt, and that
the fresh water we find in springs and rivers is the produce of
distillation. The sun raises the vapours from the sea, which form
clouds, and fall in rain upon the land, and springs and rivers are
formed of that rain. As to the rock-salt found in mines, I conceive
that, instead of communicating its saltness to the sea, it is itself
drawn from the sea, and that, of course, the sea is now fresher than it
was originally. This is only another effect of nature's distillery, and
might be performed various ways.

It is evident, from the quantities of seashells, and the bones and teeth
of fishes found in high lands, that the sea has formerly covered them.
Then either the sea has been higher than it now is, and has fallen away
from those high lands, or they have been lower than they are, and were
lifted up out of the water to their present height by some internal
mighty force, such as we still feel some remains of when whole
continents are moved by earthquakes In either case it may be supposed
that large hollows, or valleys among hills, might be left filled with
seawater, which, evaporating, and the fluid part drying away in a course
of years, would leave the salt covering the bottom; and that salt,
coming afterward to be covered with earth from the neighbouring hills,
could only be found by digging through that earth. Or, as we know from
their effects that there are deep, fiery caverns under the earth, and
even under the sea, if at any time the sea leaks into any of them, the
fluid parts of the water must evaporate from that heat, and pass off
through some volcano, while the salt remains, and, by degrees and
continual accretion, becomes a great mass. Thus the cavern may at length
be filled, and the volcano connected with it cease burning, as many, it
is said, have done; and future miners, penetrating such cavern, find
what we call a salt-mine. This is a fancy I had on visiting the
salt-mines at Northwich with my son. I send you a piece of the rock-salt
which he brought up with him out of the mine.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Miss Stephenson._


                                        Craven-street, August 10, 1761.

We are to set out this week for Holland, where we may possibly spend a
month, but purpose to be at home again before the coronation. I could
not go without taking leave of you by a line at least when I am so many
letters in your debt.

In yours of May 19, which I have before me, you speak of the ease with
which salt water may be made fresh by distillation, supposing it to be,
as I had said, that in evaporation the air would take up water, but not
the salt that was mixed with it. It is true that distilled seawater will
not be salt, but there are other disagreeable qualities that rise with
the water, in distillation; which, indeed, several besides Dr. Hales
have endeavoured by some means to prevent, but as yet their methods have
not been brought much into use.

I have a singular opinion on this subject, which I will venture to
communicate to you, though I doubt you will rank it among my whims. It
is certain that the skin has _imbibing_ as well as _discharging_ pores;
witness the effects of a blistering-plaster, &c. I have read that a man,
hired by a physician to stand, by way of experiment, in the open air
naked during a moist night, weighed near three pounds heavier in the
morning. I have often observed myself, that however thirsty I may have
been before going into the water to swim, I am never long so in the
water. These imbibing pores, however, are very fine; perhaps fine
enough, in filtering, to separate salt from water; for though I have
soaked (by swimming, when a boy) several hours in the day, for several
days successively, in salt water, I never found my blood and juices
salted by that means, so as to make me thirsty or feel a salt taste in
my mouth; and it is remarkable that the flesh of seafish, though bred in
salt water, is not salt. Hence I imagined that if people at sea,
distressed by thirst, when their fresh water is unfortunately spent,
would make bathing-tubs of their empty water-casks, and, filling them
with seawater, sit in them an hour or two each day, they might be
greatly relieved. Perhaps keeping their clothes constantly wet might
have an almost equal effect; and this without danger of catching cold.
Men do not catch cold by wet clothes at sea. Damp, but not wet linen,
may possibly give colds; but no one catches cold by bathing, and no
clothes can be wetter than water itself. Why damp clothes should then
occasion colds, is a curious question, the discussion of which I reserve
for a future letter or some future conversation.

Adieu, my little philosopher. Present my respectful compliments to the
good ladies your aunts, and to Miss Pitt, and believe me ever

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the same._


                                             September 20, 1761.


It is, as you observed in our late conversation, a very general opinion,
that _all rivers run into the sea_, or deposite their waters there. 'Tis
a kind of audacity to call such general opinions in question, and may
subject one to censure. But we must hazard something in what we think
the cause of truth: and if we propose our objections modestly, we shall,
though mistaken, deserve a censure less severe than when we are both
mistaken and insolent.

That some rivers run into the sea is beyond a doubt: such, for instance,
are the Amazons, and, I think, the Oronoko and the Mississippi. The
proof is, that their waters are fresh quite to the sea, and out to some
distance from the land. Our question is, whether the fresh waters of
those rivers, whose beds are filled with salt water to a considerable
distance up from the sea (as the Thames, the Delaware, and the rivers
that communicate with Chesapeake Bay in Virginia), do ever arrive at the
sea? And as I suspect they do not, I am now to acquaint you with my
reasons; or, if they are not allowed to be reasons, my conceptions at
least of this matter.

The common supply of rivers is from springs, which draw their origin
from rain that has soaked into the earth. The union of a number of
springs forms a river. The waters, as they run exposed to the sun, air,
and wind, are continually evaporating. Hence, in travelling, one may
often see where a river runs, by a long bluish mist over it, though we
are at such a distance as not to see the river itself. The quantity of
this evaporation is greater or less, in proportion to the surface
exposed by the same quantity of water to those causes of evaporation.
While the river runs in a narrow, confined channel in the upper hilly
country, only a small surface is exposed; a greater as the river widens.
Now if a river ends in a lake, as some do, whereby its waters are spread
so wide as that the evaporation is equal to the sum of all its springs,
that lake will never overflow; and if, instead of ending in a lake, it
was drawn into greater length as a river, so as to expose a surface
equal in the whole to that lake, the evaporation would be equal, and
such river would end as a canal; when the ignorant might suppose, as
they actually do in such cases, that the river loses itself by running
under ground, whereas, in truth, it has run up into the air.

Now, how many rivers that are open to the sea widen much before they
arrive at it, not merely by the additional waters they receive, but by
having their course stopped by the opposing flood-tide; by being turned
back twice in twenty-four hours, and by finding broader beds in the low
flat countries to dilate themselves in; hence the evaporation of the
fresh water is proportionably increased, so that in some rivers it may
equal the springs of supply. In such cases the salt water comes up the
river, and meets the fresh in that part where, if there were a wall or
bank of earth across, from side to side, the river would form a lake,
fuller indeed at sometimes than at others, according to the seasons, but
whose evaporation would, one time with another, be equal to its supply.

When the communication between the two kinds of water is open, this
supposed wall of separation may be conceived as a moveable one, which is
not only pushed some miles higher up the river by every flood-tide from
the sea, and carried down again as far by every tide of ebb, but which
has even this space of vibration removed nearer to the sea in wet
seasons, when the springs and brooks in the upper country are augmented
by the falling rains, so as to swell the river, and farther from the sea
in dry seasons.

Within a few miles above and below this moveable line of separation, the
different waters mix a little, partly by their motion to and fro, and
partly from the greater gravity of the salt water, which inclines it to
run under the fresh, while the fresh water, being lighter, runs over the

Cast your eye on the map of North America, and observe the Bay of
Chesapeake, in Virginia, mentioned above; you will see, communicating
with it by their mouths, the great rivers Susquehanna, Potomac,
Rappahannoc, York, and James, besides a number of smaller streams, each
as big as the Thames. It has been proposed by philosophical writers,
that to compute how much water any river discharges into the sea in a
given time, we should measure its depth and swiftness at any part above
the tide: as for the Thames, at Kingston or Windsor. But can one
imagine, that if all the water of those vast rivers went to the sea, it
would not first have pushed the salt water out of that narrow-mouthed
bay, and filled it with fresh? The Susquehanna alone would seem to be
sufficient for this, if it were not for the loss by evaporation. And
yet that bay is salt quite up to Annapolis.

As to our other subject, the different degrees of heat imbibed from the
sun's rays by cloths of different colours, since I cannot find the notes
of my experiment to send you, I must give it as well as I can from

But first let me mention an experiment you may easily make yourself.
Walk but a quarter of an hour in your garden when the sun shines, with a
part of your dress white and a part black; then apply your hand to them
alternately, and you will find a very great difference in their warmth.
The black will be quite hot to the touch, the white still cool.

Another. Try to fire the paper with a burning glass. If it is white, you
will not easily burn it; but if you bring the focus to a black spot, or
upon letters written or printed, the paper will immediately be on fire
under the letters.

Thus fullers and dyers find black cloths, of equal thickness with white
ones, and hung out equally wet, dry in the sun much sooner than the
white, being more readily heated by the sun's rays. It is the same
before a fire, the heat of which sooner penetrates black stockings than
white ones, and so is apt sooner to burn a man's shins. Also beer much
sooner warms in a black mug set before the fire than in a white one, or
a bright silver tankard.

My experiment was this. I took a number of little pieces of broadcloth
from a tailor's pattern card, of various colours. There were black, deep
blue, lighter blue, green, purple, red, yellow, white, and other colours
or shades of colours. I laid them all out upon the snow in a bright
sunshiny morning. In a few hours (I cannot now be exact as to the time)
the black, being warmed most by the sun, was sunk so low as to be below
the stroke of the sun's rays; the dark blue almost as low, the lighter
blue not quite so much as the dark, the other colours less as they were
lighter, and the quite white remained on the surface of the snow, not
having entered it at all.

What signifies philosophy that does not apply to some use? May we not
learn from hence that black clothes are not so fit to wear in a hot
sunny climate or season as white ones; because in such clothes the body
is more heated by the sun when we walk abroad, and are, at the same
time, heated by the exercise, which double heat is apt to bring on
putrid dangerous fevers? That soldiers and seamen, who must march and
labour in the sun, should in the East or West Indies have a uniform of
white? That summer hats for men or women should be white, as repelling
that heat which gives headaches to many, and to some the fatal stroke
that the French call the _coup de soleil_? That the ladies' summer hats,
however, should be lined with black, as not reverberating on their faces
those rays which are reflected upward from the earth or water? That the
putting a white cap of paper or linen _within_ the crown of a black hat,
as some do, will not keep out the heat, though it would if placed
_without_? That fruit-walls, being blacked, may receive so much heat
from the sun in the daytime as to continue warm in some degree through
the night, and thereby preserve the fruit from frosts or forward its
growth? with sundry other particulars of less or greater importance,
that will occur from time to time to attentive minds.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the same._


                                        Craven-street, June 11, 1760.

'Tis a very sensible question you ask, how the air can affect the
barometer, when its opening appears covered with wood? If, indeed, it
was so closely covered as to admit of no communication of the outward
air to the surface of the mercury, the change of weight in the air could
not possibly affect it. But the least crevice is sufficient for the
purpose; a pinhole will do the business. And if you could look behind
the frame to which your barometer is fixed, you would certainly find
some small opening.

There are, indeed, some barometers in which the body of the mercury in
the lower end is contained in a close leather bag, and so the air cannot
come into immediate contact with the mercury; yet the same effect is
produced. For the leather, being flexible, when, the bag is pressed by
any additional weight of air, it contracts, and the mercury is forced up
into the tube; when the air becomes lighter and its pressure less, the
weight of the mercury prevails, and it descends again into the bag.

Your observations on what you have lately read concerning insects is
very just and solid. Superficial minds are apt to despise those who make
that part of the creation their study as mere triflers; but certainly
the world has been much obliged to them. Under the care and management
of man, the labours of the little silkworm afford employment and
subsistence to thousands of families, and become an immense article of
commerce. The bee, too, yields us its delicious honey, and its wax
useful to a multitude of purposes. Another insect, it is said, produces
the cochineal, from whence we have our rich scarlet dye. The usefulness
of the cantharides, or Spanish flies, in medicine, is known to all, and
thousands owe their lives to that knowledge. By human industry and
observation, other properties of other insects may possibly be hereafter
discovered, and of equal utility. A thorough acquaintance with the
nature of these little creatures may also enable mankind to prevent the
increase of such as are noxious, or secure us against the mischiefs they
occasion. These things doubtless your books make mention of: I can only
add a particular late instance, which I had from a Swedish gentleman of
good credit. In the green timber intended for shipbuilding at the king's
yard in that country, a kind of worms was found, which every year became
more numerous and more pernicious, so that the ships were greatly
damaged before they came into use. The king sent Linnæus, the great
naturalist, from Stockholm, to inquire into the affair, and see if the
mischief was capable of any remedy. He found, on examination, that the
worm was produced from a small egg, deposited in the little roughnesses
on the surface of the wood, by a particular kind of fly or beetle; from
whence the worm, as soon as it was hatched, began to eat into the
substance of the wood, and, after some time, came out again a fly of the
parent kind, and so the species increased. The season in which the fly
laid its eggs Linnæus knew to be about a fortnight (I think) in the
month of May, and at no other time in the year. He therefore advised,
that some days before that season, all the green timber should be thrown
into the water, and kept under water till the season was over. Which
being done by the king's order, the flies, missing the usual nests,
could not increase, and the species was either destroyed or went
elsewhere: and the wood was effectually preserved, for after the first
year it became too dry and hard for their purpose.

There is, however, a prudent moderation to be used in studies of this
kind. The knowledge of nature may be ornamental, and it may be useful;
but if, to attain an eminence in that, we neglect the knowledge and
practice of essential duties, we deserve reprehension. For there is no
rank in natural knowledge of equal dignity and importance with that of
being a good parent, a good child, a good husband or wife, a good
neighbour or friend, a good subject or citizen, that is, in short, a
good Christian. Nicholas Gimcrack, therefore, who neglected the care of
his family to pursue butterflies, was a just object of ridicule, and we
must give him up as fair game to the satirist.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Dr. Joseph Priestley._


* * That the vegetable creation should restore the air which is spoiled
by the animal part of it, looks like a rational system, and seems to be
of a piece with the rest. Thus fire purifies water all the world over.
It purifies it by distillation, when it raises it in vapours, and lets
it fall in rain; and farther still by filtration, when, keeping it
fluid, it suffers that rain to percolate the earth. We knew before that
putrid animal substances were converted into sweet vegetables when mixed
with the earth and applied as manure; and now, it seems, that the same
putrid substances, mixed with the air, have a similar effect. The
strong, thriving state of your mint, in putrid air, seems to show that
the air is mended by taking something from it, and not by adding to it.
I hope this will give some check to the rage of destroying trees that
grow near houses, which has accompanied our late improvements in
gardening, from an opinion of their being unwholesome. I am certain,
from long observation, that there is nothing unhealthy in the air of
woods; for we Americans have everywhere our country habitations in the
midst of woods, and no people on earth enjoy better health or are more

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Dr. John Pringle._


                                        Craven-street, May 10, 1768.

You may remember, that when we were travelling together in Holland, you
remarked that the trackschuyt in one of the stages went slower than
usual, and inquired of the boatman what might be the reason; who
answered, that it had been a dry season, and the water in the canal was
low. On being asked if it was so low as that the boat touched the muddy
bottom, he said no, not so low as that, but so low as to make it harder
for the horse to draw the boat. We neither of us, at first, could
conceive, that if there was water enough for the boat to swim clear of
the bottom, its being deeper would make any difference; but as the man
affirmed it seriously as a thing well known among them, and as the
punctuality required in their stages was likely to make such difference,
if any there were, more readily observed by them than by other watermen
who did not pass so regularly and constantly backward and forward in the
same track, I began to apprehend there might be something in it, and
attempted to account for it from this consideration, that the boat, in
proceeding along the canal, must in every boat's length of her course
move out of her way a body of water equal in bulk to the room her bottom
took up in the water; that the water so moved must pass on each side of
her and under her bottom to get behind her; that if the passage under
her bottom was straitened by the shallows, more of that water must pass
by her sides, and with a swifter motion, which would retard her, as
moving the contrary way; or, that the water becoming lower behind the
boat than before, she was pressed back by the weight of its difference
in height, and her motion retarded by having that weight constantly to
overcome. But as it is often lost time to attempt accounting for
uncertain facts, I determined to make an experiment of this when I
should have convenient time and opportunity.

After our return to England, as often as I happened to be on the Thames,
I inquired of our watermen whether they were sensible of any difference
in rowing over shallow or deep water. I found them all agreeing in the
fact, that there was a very great difference, but they differed widely
in expressing the quantity of the difference; some supposing it was
equal to a mile in six, others to a mile in three, &c. As I did not
recollect to have met with any mention of this matter in our
philosophical books, and conceiving that if the difference should really
be great, it might be an object of consideration in the many projects
now on foot for digging new navigable canals in this island, I lately
put my design of making the experiment in execution in the following

I provided a trough of planed boards fourteen feet long, six inches
wide, and six inches deep in the clear, filled with water within half an
inch of the edge, to represent a canal. I had a loose board, of nearly
the same length and breadth, that, being put into the water, might be
sunk to any depth, and fixed by little wedges where I would choose to
have it stay, in order to make different depths of water, leaving the
surface at the same height with regard to the sides of the trough. I had
a little boat in form of a lighter or boat of burden, six inches long,
two inches and a quarter wide, and one inch and a quarter deep. When
swimming, it drew one inch water. To give motion to the boat, I fixed
one end of a long silk thread to its bow, just even with the water's
edge; the other end passed over a well-made brass pully, of about an
inch diameter, turning freely on a small axis; and a shilling was the
weight. Then placing the boat at one end of the trough, the weight
would draw it through the water to the other.

Not having a watch that shows seconds, in order to measure the time
taken up by the boat in passing from end to end, I counted as fast as I
could count to ten repeatedly, keeping an account of the number of tens
on my fingers. And as much as possible to correct any little
inequalities in my counting, I repeated the experiment a number of times
at each depth of water, that I might take the medium. And the following
are the results:

            1-1/2 inches deep.    2 inches.      4-1/2 inches.
  1st exp.          100              94              79
  2d   "            104              93              78
  3d   "            104              91              77
  4th  "            106              87              79
  5th  "            100              88              79
  6th  "             99              86              80
  7th  "            100              90              79
  8th  "            100              88              81
                    ---             ---             ---
                    813             717             632
                    ---             ---             ---
             Medium 101       Medium 89       Medium 79

I made many other experiments, but the above are those in which I was
most exact; and they serve sufficiently to show that the difference is
considerable. Between the deepest and shallowest it appears to be
somewhat more than one fifth. So that, supposing large canals, and
boats, and depths of water to bear the same proportions, and that four
men or horses would draw a boat in deep water four leagues in four
hours, it would require five to draw the same boat in the same time as
far in shallow water, or four would require five hours.

Whether this difference is of consequence enough to justify a greater
expense in deepening canals, is a matter of calculation, which our
ingenious engineers in that way will readily determine.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Oliver Neale._


I cannot be of opinion with you, that it is too late in life for you to
learn to swim. The river near the bottom of your garden affords a most
convenient place for the purpose. And as your new employment requires
your being often on the water, of which you have such a dread, I think
you would do well to make the trial; nothing being so likely to remove
those apprehensions as the consciousness of an ability to swim to the
shore in case of an accident, or of supporting yourself in the water
till a boat could come to take you up.

I do not know how far corks or bladders may be useful in learning to
swim, having never seen much trial of them. Possibly they may be of
service in supporting the body while you are learning what is called the
stroke, or that manner of drawing in and striking out the hands and feet
that is necessary to produce progressive motion. But you will be no
swimmer till you can place some confidence in the power of the water to
support you; I would therefore advise the acquiring that confidence in
the first place, especially as I have known several who, by a little of
the practice necessary for that purpose, have insensibly acquired the
stroke, taught, as it were, by nature.

The practice I mean is this. Choosing a place where the water deepens
gradually, walk coolly into it till it is up to your breast; then turn
round, your face to the shore, and throw an egg into the water between
you and the shore. It will sink to the bottom, and be easily seen there,
as your water is clear. It must lie in water so deep as that you cannot
reach it to take it up but by diving for it. To encourage yourself in
order to do this, reflect that your progress will be from deeper to
shallower water, and that at any time you may, by bringing your legs
under you and standing on the bottom, raise your head far above the
water. Then plunge under it with your eyes open, throwing yourself
towards the egg, and endeavouring, by the action of your hands and feet
against the water, to get forward till within reach of it. In this
attempt you will find that the water buoys you up against your
inclination; that it is not so easy a thing to sink as you imagined;
that you cannot, but by active force, get down to the egg. Thus you feel
the power of the water to support you, and learn to confide in that
power; while your endeavours to overcome it and to reach the egg teach
you the manner of acting on the water with your feet and hands, which
action is afterward used in swimming to support your head higher above
water, or to go forward through it.

I would the more earnestly press you to the trial of this method,
because, though I think I satisfied you that your body is lighter than
water, and that you might float in it a long time, with your mouth free
for breathing, if you would put yourself in a proper posture, and would
be still and forbear struggling, yet, till you have obtained this
experimental confidence in the water, I cannot depend on your having the
necessary presence of mind to recollect that posture and directions I
gave you relating to it. The surprise may put all out of your mind. For
though we value ourselves on being reasonable, knowing creatures, reason
and knowledge seem, on such occasions, to be of little use to us; and
the brutes, to whom we allow scarce a glimmering of either, appear to
have the advantage of us.

I will, however, take this opportunity of repeating those particulars to
you which I mentioned in our last conversation, as, by perusing them at
your leisure, you may possibly imprint them so in your memory as, on
occasion, to be of some use to you.

1. That though the legs, arms, and head of a human body, being solid
parts, are specifically something heavier than fresh water, yet the
trunk, particularly the upper part, from its hollowness, is so much
lighter than water, as that the whole of the body, taken together, is
too light to sink wholly under water, but some part will remain above
until the lungs become filled with water, which happens from drawing
water into them instead of air, when a person, in the fright, attempts
breathing while the mouth and nostrils are under water.

2. That the legs and arms are specifically lighter than salt water, and
will be supported by it, so that a human body would not sink in salt
water, though the lungs were filled as above, but from the greater
specific gravity of the head.

3. That, therefore, a person throwing himself on his back in salt water,
and extending his arms, may easily lie so as to keep his mouth and
nostrils free for breathing; and, by a small motion of his hands, may
prevent turning if he should perceive any tendency to it.

4. That in fresh water, if a man throws himself on his back near the
surface, he cannot long continue in that situation but by proper action
of his hands on the water. If he uses no such action, the legs and lower
part of the body will gradually sink till he comes into an upright
position, in which he will continue suspended, the hollow of the breast
keeping the head uppermost.

5. But if, in this erect position, the head is kept upright above the
shoulders, as when we stand on the ground, the immersion will, by the
weight of that part of the head that is out of water, reach above the
mouth and nostrils, perhaps a little above the eyes, so that a man
cannot long remain suspended in water with his head in that position.

6. The body continuing suspended as before, and upright, if the head be
leaned quite back, so that the face look upward, all the back part of
the head being then under water, and its weight, consequently, in a
great measure supported by it, the face will remain above water quite
free for breathing, will rise an inch higher every inspiration, and sink
as much every expiration, but never so low that the water may come over
the mouth.

7. If, therefore, a person unacquainted with swimming, and falling
accidentally into the water, could have presence of mind sufficient to
avoid struggling and plunging, and to let the body take this natural
position, he might continue long safe from drowning till perhaps help
would come. For as to the clothes, their additional weight, while
immersed, is very inconsiderable, the water supporting it, though, when
he comes out of the water, he would find them very heavy indeed.

But, as I said before, I would not advise you or any one to depend on
having this presence of mind on such an occasion, but learn fairly to
swim, as I wish all men were taught to do in their youth; they would, on
many occurrences, be the safer for having that skill, and on many more
the happier, as freer from painful apprehensions of danger, to say
nothing of the enjoyment in so delightful and wholesome an exercise.
Soldiers particularly should, methinks, all be taught to swim; it might
be of frequent use either in surprising an enemy or saving themselves.
And if I had now boys to educate, I should prefer those schools (other
things being equal) where an opportunity was afforded for acquiring so
advantageous an art, which, once learned, is never forgotten.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Miss Stephenson._


                              Craven-street, Saturday evening, past 10.

The question you ask me is a very sensible one, and I shall be glad if I
can give you a satisfactory answer. There are two ways of contracting a
chimney; one by contracting the opening _before_ the fire, the other by
contracting the funnel _above_ the fire. If the funnel above the fire is
left open in its full dimensions, and the opening before the fire is
contracted, then the coals, I imagine, will burn faster, because more
air is directed through the fire, and in a stronger stream; that air
which before passed over it and on each side of it, now passing
_through_ it. This is seen in narrow stove chimneys, when a
_sacheverell_ or blower is used, which still more contracts the narrow
opening. But if the funnel only _above_ the fire is contracted, then, as
a less stream of air is passing up the chimney, less must pass through
the fire, and, consequently, it should seem that the consuming of the
coals would rather be checked than augmented by such contraction. And
this will also be the case when both the opening _before_ the fire and
the funnel _above_ the fire are contracted, provided the funnel above
the fire is more contracted in proportion than the opening before the
fire. So, you see, I think you had the best of the argument; and as you,
notwithstanding, gave it up in complaisance to the company, I think you
had also the best of the dispute. There are few, though convinced, that
know how to give up even an error they have been once engaged in
maintaining; there is, therefore, the more merit in dropping a contest
where one thinks one's self right; it is at least respectful to those we
converse with. And, indeed, all our knowledge is so imperfect, and we
are, from a thousand causes, so perpetually subject to mistake and
error, that positiveness can scarce ever become even the most knowing;
and modesty in advancing any opinion, however plain and true we may
suppose it, is always decent, and generally more likely to procure
assent. Pope's rule,

     To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence,

is therefore a good one; and if I had ever seen in your conversation the
least deviation from it, I should earnestly recommend it to your
observation. I am, &c.,

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To M. Dubourg._


* * Your observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which
you propose for recalling to life those who appear to be killed by
lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and your humanity. It
appears that the doctrines of life and death, in general, are yet but
little understood.

A toad buried in sand will live, it is said, till the sand becomes
petrified: and then, being enclosed in the stone, it may still live for
we know not how many ages. The facts which are cited in support of this
opinion are too numerous and too circumstantial not to deserve a certain
degree of credit. As we are accustomed to see all the animals with which
we are acquainted eat and drink, it appears to us difficult to conceive
how a toad can be supported in such a dungeon: but if we reflect that
the necessity of nourishment, which animals experience in their ordinary
state, proceeds from the continual waste of their substance by
perspiration, it will appear less incredible that some animals, in a
torpid state, perspiring less because they use no exercise, should have
less need of aliment; and that others, which are covered with scales or
shells which stop perspiration, such as land and sea turtles, serpents,
and some species of fish, should be able to subsist a considerable time
without any nourishment whatever. A plant, with its flowers, fades and
dies immediately if exposed to the air without having its root immersed
in a humid soil, from which it may draw a sufficient quantity of
moisture to supply that which exhales from its substance and is carried
off continually by the air. Perhaps, however, if it were buried in
quicksilver, it might preserve, for a considerable space of time, its
vegetable life, its smell, and colour. If this be the case, it might
prove a commodious method of transporting from distant countries those
delicate plants which are unable to sustain the inclemency of the
weather at sea, and which require particular care and attention. I have
seen an instance of common flies preserved in a manner somewhat similar.
They had been drowned in Madeira wine, apparently about the time when it
was bottled in Virginia to be sent hither (to London). At the opening of
one of the bottles, at the house of a friend where I then was, three
drowned flies fell into the first glass that was filled. Having heard it
remarked that drowned flies were capable of being revived by the rays of
the sun, I proposed making the experiment upon these: they were
therefore exposed to the sun upon a sieve, which had been employed to
strain them out of the wine. In less than three hours, two of them began
by degrees to recover life. They commenced by some convulsive motions of
the thighs, and at length they raised themselves upon their legs, wiped
their eyes with their fore-feet, beat and brushed their wings with their
hind-feet, and soon after began to fly, finding themselves in Old
England, without knowing how they came thither. The third continued
lifeless till sunset, when, losing all hopes of him, he was thrown away.

I wish it were possible, from this instance, to invent a method of
embalming drowned persons, in such a manner that they may be recalled to
life at any period, however distant; for, having a very ardent desire to
see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence, I should
prefer to any ordinary death the being immersed in a cask of Madeira
wine, with a few friends, till that time, to be then recalled to life by
the solar warmth of my dear country! But since, in all probability, we
live in an age too early and too near the infancy of science to hope to
see such an art brought in our time to its perfection, I must, for the
present, content myself with the treat which you are so kind as to
promise me, of the resuscitation of a fowl or a turkey-cock.

                                             B. FRANKLIN.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following admirable sketch of the character of Franklin is from a
new work by Lord Brougham, recently published in London, entitled
"Statesmen in the time of George III." It has not been published in this

"One of the most remarkable men, certainly, of our times as a
politician, or of any age as a philosopher, was Franklin, who also
stands alone in combining together these two characters, the greatest
that man can sustain, and in this, that having borne the first part in
enlarging science by one of the greatest discoveries ever made, he bore
the second part in founding one of the greatest empires.

"In this truly great man everything seemed to concur that goes towards
the constitution of exalted merit. First, he was the architect of his
own fortune. Born in the humblest station, he raised himself, by his
talents and his industry, first, to the place in society which may be
attained with the help only of ordinary abilities, great application,
and good luck; but next, to the loftier heights which a daring and happy
genius alone can scale; and the poor printer's boy, who at one period of
his life had no covering to shelter his head from the dews of night,
rent in twain the proud dominion of England, and lived to be the
ambassador of a commonwealth which he had formed, at the court of the
haughty monarchs of France who had been his allies.

"Then he had been tried by prosperity as well as adverse fortune, and
had passed unhurt through the perils of both. No ordinary apprentice, no
commonplace journeyman, ever laid the foundation of his independence in
habits of industry and temperance more deep than he did, whose genius
was afterward to rank him with the Galileos and the Newtons of the Old
World. No patrician born to shine in courts, or assist at the councils
of monarchs, ever bore his honours in a lofty station more easily, or
was less spoiled by the enjoyment of them, than this common workman did
when negotiating with royal representatives, or caressed by all the
beauty and fashion of the most brilliant court in Europe.

"Again, he was self-taught in all he knew. His hours of study were
stolen from those of sleep and of meals, or gained by some ingenious
contrivance for reading while the work of his daily calling went on.
Assisted by none of the helps which affluence tenders to the studies of
the rich, he had to supply the place of tutors by redoubled diligence,
and of commentaries by repeated perusal. Nay, the possession of books
was to be obtained by copying what the art he himself exercised
furnished easily to others.

"Next, the circumstances under which others succumb, he made to yield
and bend to his own purposes; a successful leader of a revolt that ended
in complete triumph, after appearing desperate for years; a great
discoverer in philosophy, without the ordinary helps to knowledge; a
writer famed for his chaste style, without a classical education; a
skilful negotiator, though never bred to politics; ending as a
favourite, nay, a pattern of fashion, when the guest of frivolous
courts, the life which he had begun in garrets and in workshops.

"Lastly, combinations of faculties, in others deemed impossible,
appeared easy and natural in him. The philosopher, delighting in
speculation, was also eminently a man of action. Ingenious reasoning,
refined and subtile consultation, were in him combined with prompt
resolution and inflexible firmness of purpose. To a lively fancy he
joined a learned, a deep reflection; his original and inventive genius
stooped to the convenient alliance of the most ordinary prudence in
every-day affairs; the mind that soared above the clouds, and was
conversant with the loftiest of human contemplations, disdained not to
make proverbs and feign parables for the guidance of apprenticed youths
and servile maidens; and the hands that sketched a free constitution for
a whole continent, or drew down the lightning from heaven, easily and
cheerfully lent themselves to simplify the apparatus by which truths
were to be illustrated or discoveries pursued.

"His discoveries were made with hardly any apparatus at all; and if, at
any time, he had been led to employ instruments of a somewhat less
ordinary description, he never seemed satisfied until he had, as it
were, afterward translated the process, by resolving the problem with
such simple machinery that you might say he had done it wholly unaided
by apparatus. The experiments by which the identity of lightning and
electricity was demonstrated, were made with a sheet of brown paper, a
bit of twine, a silk thread, and an iron key.

"Upon the integrity of this man, whether in public or in private life,
there rests no stain. Strictly honest and even scrupulously punctual in
all his dealings, he preserved in the highest fortune that regularity
which he had practised as well as inculcated in the lowest.

"In domestic life he was faultless, and in the intercourse of society
delightful. There was a constant good humour and a playful wit, easy and
of high relish, without any ambition to shine, the natural fruit of his
lively fancy, his solid, natural good sense, and his cheerful temper,
that gave his conversation an unspeakable charm, and alike suited every
circle from the humblest to the most elevated. With all his strong
opinions, so often solemnly declared, so imperishably recorded in his
deeds, he retained a tolerance for those who differed with him which
could not be surpassed in men whose principles hang so loosely about
them as to be taken up for a convenient cloak, and laid down when found
to impede their progress. In his family he was everything that worth,
warm affections, and sound prudence could contribute, to make a man both
useful and amiable, respected and beloved.

"In religion he would be reckoned by many a latitudinarian, yet it is
certain that his mind was imbued with a deep sense of the Divine
perfections, a constant impression of our accountable nature; and a
lively hope of future enjoyment. Accordingly, his deathbed, the test of
both faith and works, was easy and placid, resigned and devout, and
indicated at once an unflinching retrospect of the past, and a
comfortable assurance of the future.

"If we turn from the truly great man whom we have been contemplating to
his celebrated contemporary in the Old World (Frederic the Great), who
only affected the philosophy that Franklin possessed, and employed his
talents for civil and military affairs in extinguishing that
independence which Franklin's life was consecrated to establish, the
contrast is marvellous indeed between the monarch and the printer."

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

The transcriber made these changes to the text to correct obvious

  1. p.  29 howsover --> howsoever
  2. p.  98 impaartial --> impartial
  3. p. 123 soilders --> soldiers
  4. p. 129 Phladelphia -->Philadelphia
  5. p. 146 virtuons --> virtuous
  6. p. 179 sentment --> sentiment
  7. p. 179 passons --> (left as published)
  8. p. 183 vents --> events
  9. p. 287 papar --> paper

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself, Volume II (of 2) - With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader" ***

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