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short round s, instead of the long one, which formerly served well to distinguish a word readily by its varied appearance. Certainly the omitting this prominent letter makes the line appear more even; but renders it less immediately legible; as the paring all men's noses might smooth and level their faces, but would render their physiognomies less distinguishable.

Add to all these improvements backwards, another modern fancy, that grey printing is more beautiful than black; hence the English new books are printed in so dim a character, as to be read with difficulty by old eyes, unless in a very strong light and with good glasses. Whoever compares a volume of the Gentleman's Magazine, printed between the years 1731 and 1740, with one of those printed in the last ten years, will be convinced of the much greater degree of perspicuity given by black ink than by grey. Lord Chesterfield pleasantly remarked this difference to Faulkener, the printer of the Dublin Journal, who was vainly making encomiums on his own paper, as the most complete of any in the world; "But, Mr. Faulkener," said my Lord, "don't you think it might be still farther improved by using paper and ink not quite so near of a color]" For all these reasons I cannot but wish, that our American printers would in their editions avoid these fancied improvements, and thereby render their works more agreeable to foreigners in Europe, to the great advantage of our bookselling commerce.

Further, to be more sensible of the advantage of clear and distinct printing, let us consider the assistance it affords in reading well aloud to an auditory. In so doing the eye generally slides forward three or four words before the voice. If the sight clearly distinguishes what the coming words are, it gives time to order the modulation of the voice to express them

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properly. But, if they are obscurely printed, or disguised by omitting the capitals and long s's or otherwise, the reader is apt to modulate wrong; and, rinding he has done so, he is obliged to go back and begin the sentence again, which lessens the pleasure of the hearers.

This leads me to mention an old error in our mode of printing. We are sensible, that, when a question is met with in reading, there is a proper variation to be used in the management of the voice. We have therefore a point called an interrogation, affixed to the question in order to distinguish it . But this is absurdly placed at its end; so that the reader does not discover it, till he finds he has wrongly modulated his voice, and is therefore obliged to begin again the sentence. To prevent this, the Spanish printers, more sensibly, place an interrogation at the beginning as well as at the end of a question. We have another error of the same kind in printing plays, where something often occurs that is marked as spoken aside. But the word aside is placed at the end of the speech, when it ought to precede it, as a direction to the reader, that he may govern his voice accordingly. The practice of our ladies in meeting five or six together to form a little busy party, where each is employed in some useful work while one reads to them, is so commendable in itself, that it deserves the attention of authors and printers to make it as pleasing as possible, both to the reader and hearers.

After these general observations, permit me to make one that I imagine may regard your interest. It is that your Spelling Book is miserably printed here, so as in many places to be scarcely legible, and on wretched paper. If this is not attended to, and the new one lately advertised as coming out should be preferable in these respects, it may hurt the future sale of yours.

I congratulate you on your marriage, of which the newspapers inform me. My best wishes attend you, being with sincere esteem, Sir, &c.

B. Franklin.


On his leaving the Employment of the Empress of Russia.

Amsterdam, 27 December, 1789.

Dear Sir,

The enclosed documents, from my friend the Count de Segur, Minister Plenipotentiary of France at St. Petersburg, will explain to you in some degree my reasons for leaving Russia, and the danger to which I was exposed by the dark intrigues and mean subterfuges of Asiatic jealousy and malice. Your former friendship for me, which I remember with particular satisfaction, and have ever been ambitious to merit, will, I am sure, be exerted in the kind use you will make of the three pieces I now send you, for my justification in the eyes of my friends in America, whose good opinion is dearer to me than any thing else. I wrote to the Empress from Warsaw in the beginning of October, with a copy of my Journal, which will show her Majesty how much she has been deceived by the account she had of our maritime operations last campaign. I can easily prove to the world, that I have been treated unjustly; but I intend to remain silent, at least till I know the fate of my Journal.

I shall remain in Europe till after the opening of the next campaign, and perhaps longer before I return to America. From the troubles in Brabant, and the measures now pursuing by the King of Prussia, I presume that peace is yet a distant object, and that the Baltic will witness warmer work than it has yet done. On the death of1 Admiral Greig, I was last year called from the Black Sea, by the Empress, to command a squadron in the Baltic. This set the invention of all my enemies and rivals at work, and the event has proved, that the Empress cannot always do as she pleases. I am, with sincere affection, dear Sir, &,c.

J. Paul Jones.

P. S. It is this day ten years since I left the Texel in the Alliance.

To .

Construction of the Treaty of Commerce between France and the United States.

Philadelphia, 19 January, 1790.


I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me respecting the construction of the eleventh article of the treaty of commerce between France and the United States. I was indeed one of the Commissioners for making that treaty, but the Commissioners have no right to explain the treaty. Its explanation is to be sought for in its own words, and, in case it cannot be clearly found there, then by an application to the contracting powers.

I certainly conceived, that when the droit iPaubaine was relinquished in favor of the citizens of the United States, the relinquishing clause was meant to extend to all the dominions of his most Christian Majesty; and I am of opinion, that this would not be denied, if an explanation were requested of the court of France; and it ought to be done, if any difficulties arise on this subject in the French Islands, which their courts do not determine in our favor. But, before Congress is petitioned to make such request, I imagine it would be proper to have the case tried in some of the West India islands, and the petition made in consequence of a determination against us. I have the honor to be, &c.

B. Franklin.

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