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they had seen each other, whence he then came, what occasioned the journey, &c. Conrad answered all his questions; and when the discourse began to flag, the Indian, to continue it, said, “ Conrad, you have lived long among the white people, and know something of their customs; I have been sometimes at Albany, and have observed, that once in seven days they shut up their shops, and assemble all in the great house: tell me what it is for? What do they do there ?"! “ They meet there,” says Conrad, “to hear and learn good things.” “I do not doubt,” says the Indian, “ that they tell you so; they have told me the same: but I doubt the truth of what they say, and I will tell you my reasons. I went lately to Albany, to sell my skins, and buy blankets, knives, powder, rum, &c. You know I used generally to deal with Hans Hanson ; but I was a little inclined this time to try some other merchants. However, I called first upon Hans, and asked him what he would give for beaver. He said he could not give more than four shillings a pound: but,says he, “I cannot talk on business now; this is the day when we meet toge. ther to learn good things, and I am going to the meeting.' So I thought to myself, since I cannot do any business to-day, I may as well go to the meeting too, and I went with him. There stood up a man in black, and began to talk to the people very angrily. I did not understand what he said: but, perceiving that he looked much at me and at Hanson, I imagined he was angry at seeing me there ; so I went out, sat down near the house, struck fire, and lit my pipe, waiting till the meeting should break up. I thought too, that the man had mentioned something of beaver; I suspected it might be the subject of their meeting. So, when they came out, I accosted my merchant.-Well, Hans,' says I, “I hope you have agreed to give more than four shillings a pound.' "No,' says he, ' I cannot give so much ; I cannot give more than three shillings and sixpence.' I then spoke to several other dealers, but they all sung the same song, three and sixpence, three and sixpence. This made it clear to me that my suspicion was right; and that, whatever they pretended of meeting to learn good things, the real purpose was to consult how to cheat Indians in the price of beaver. Consider but a little, Conrad, and you must be of my opinion. If they met so often to learn good things, they would certainly have learned some before this time. But they are still ignorant. You know our practice. If a white man, in travelling through our country, enters one of our cabins, we all treat him as I do you ; we dry him if he is wet, we warm him if he is cold, and give him meat and drink, that he may allay his thirst and hunger; and we spread soft furs for him to rest and sleep on: we demand nothing in return *. But if I
. It is remarkable that, in all ages and countries, hospitality has been allowed as the virtue of those, wbom the civilized were pleased to call barbarians : the Greeks celebrated the Scythians for it; the Sa. racens possessed it eminently; and it is to this day the reigning virtue of the wild Arabs. St. Paul, too, in the relation of his voyage and shipwreck, on the island of Melita, says, “The barbarous people showed us no little kindness ; for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.”—This note is taken from a small collection of Franklin's papers, printed for Dilly.
go into a white man's house at Albany, and ask for victuals and drink, they say, Where is your money? and if I have none, they say, Get out, you Indian dog. You see that they have not learned those little good things that we need no meetings to be instructed in, because our mothers taught them us when we were children ; and therefore it is impossible their meetings should be, as they say,
any such purpose, or have any such effect; they are only to contrive the cheating of Indians in the price of beaver.”
It has been computed by some political arithme. tician, that if every man and woman would work for four hours each day on something useful, that labour would produce sufficient to procure all the necessaries and comforts of life; want and misery would be banished out of the world, and the rest of the twentyfour 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 now cessaries 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 em. ploying 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 de. ficiency he occasions.
Look round the world, and see the millions employed in doing nothing, or in something that amounts to no. thing, 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 cannot 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 large 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 ram. bling letter. Almost all the parts of our bodies require some expense. The feet demand shoes ; the legs stockings; 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.
I have already mentioned that I had only one year's instruction in a Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected that language entirely. But when I had attained an acquaintance with the French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surprised to find on looking over a Latin Testament, that I understood more of that language than I had imagined ; which encouraged me to apply myself again to the study of