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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 a 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 downwards 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 lookingglass, or any gilt pictures or wainscot; the safest place is in the middle of the room, (so it be not under a metal lustre suspended by a chain) sitting in one chair and laying the feet up in another. It is still safer to bring two or three mattrasses 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 chuse an interrupted course through the air of the room and the bedding, when it can go thro' a continued better conductor the wall. But, where it can be had, a hamock or swinging bed, suspended by silk cords equally distant from the walls on every side, and from the cieling 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.
443. ON SMUGGLING1 (a. P. S.)
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 thro' 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, remark'd, that the Situation was very advantageous on this Account, that being on the Sea-Coast, 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, where they must be bo't of Traders that paid Duty. The other honest Gentleman allow'd this to be an Advantage, but insisted, that the Seller, in the advanc'd Price he demanded on that Account, rated the Advantage much above its Value. And neither of them seem'd to think Dealing with Smugglers a Practice, that an honest Man (provided he got his Goods cheaper) had the least Reason to be asham'd of.
1 This letter was addressed to the printer of The London Chronicle, and was published in that paper, November 24, 1767. A fragmentary draft of it in Franklin's handwriting, and a complete copy in another hand are in A. P. S. The passages enclosed in brackets are found only in the printed version. — Et>,
At a Time when the Load of our Publick Debt, and the heavy Expence of maintaining our Fleets and Armies to be ready for our Defence on Occasion, make 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 consider'd it in.
The People of Great Britain, under the happy Constitution of this Country, have a Privilege few other Countries enjoy, that of chusing the third Branch of the Legislature, which Branch has alone the Power of regulating their Taxes. Then when the Government finds it necessary for the common Benefit, Advantage, and Safety of the Nation, for the Security of our Liberties, Property, Religion, and every thing that is dear to us, that certain Sums shall be yearly raised by Taxes, Duties, &c., and paid into the publick Treasury, thence to be dispens'd by Government for those purposes; ought not every honest Man freely and willingly to pay his just Proportion of this necessary Expence? Can he possibly preserve a Right to that Character, if, by any Fraud, Stratagem, or Contrivance, he avoids that Payment in whole or in Part?
What should we think of a Companion, who, having sup'd 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 call'd, who can enjoy all the inestimable Benefits of Publick Society, and yet by Smuggling or dealing with Smugglers contrive to evade paying his just share of the Expence, as settled by his own Representatives in Parliament, and wrongfully throw it upon his honester, 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 Publick Treasure is the Treasure of the Nation, to be applied for national purposes. And when a Duty is laid for a particular Publick 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, tho' it should amount to no more than a Half-penny 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 Half-pence 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 woe, pronounced against the son that robbeth his father, and saith it is no sin.]1
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 asham'd 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 asham'd to undertake, and execute the commission? No. [Not in the least.] They will talk of it freely even before their Friends [others] whose pockets they are thus contriving to pick by this piece of Knavery.
Among other Branches of the Revenue, that of the PostOffice is by a late Law appropriated to the Discharge of our Publick Debt, and defray the Expences of the State. None but Members of Parliament, and a few Publick Officers have now a right to avoid, by a Frank, the payment of Postage. Whenever any Letter not written by them or on their Business, is frank'd by any of them, tis a Fraud upon the Revenue; a Fraud which they must now take the Pains to conceal by writing the whole Superscription themselves.
1 The paragraph enclosed in brackets appears to have been inserted after the article was written. It is not found in the Ms. copy in A. P. S. — Ed.