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PLAIN TRUTH;

OR

SERIOUS CONSIDERATIONS

ON

THE PRESENT STATE OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA AND PROVINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA.

BY A TRADESMAN OF PHILADELPHIA.

.....

Captâ urbe, nihil fit reliqui victis. Sed, per deos immortales, vos ego appello, qui semper domos, villas, signa, tabulas vestras, [tantæ æstimationis] fecistis; si ista, cujuscumque modi sint, quæ amplexamini, retinere, si voluptatibus vestris otium præbere vultis; expergiscimini aliquando, et capessite rempublicam. Non agitur [nunc]. de sociorum injuriis; libertas et anima nostra in dubio est. ..... Dux hostium cum exercitu supra caput est. Vos cunctamini etiam nunc, et dubitatis quid. faciatis? ... Scilicet res ipsa aspera est, sed vos non timetis eam. Imo vero maxime; sed inertiâ et mollitiâ animi, alius alium exspectantes, cunctamini; videlicet diis immortalibus confisi, qui hanc rempublicam in maximis sæpe periculis servavere. Non votis, neque suppliciis muliebribus, auxilia deorum parantur; vigilando, agendo, bene consulendo, prospere omnia cedunt. Ubi socordiæ te atque ignaviæ tradideris, nequicquam deos implores; irati infestique sunt.

.....

M. POR. CATO, in SALLUST.

THE precise date of the publication of this tract is not known. Dr. Smith, in his Eulogium on Franklin, speaks of it as follows. "In 1744 a Spanish privateer, having entered the Bay of Delaware, ascended as high as Newcastle, to the great terror of the citizens of Philadelphia. On this occasion Franklin wrote his first political pamphlet, called PLAIN TRUTH, to exhort his fellow-citizens to the bearing of arms; which laid the foundation of those military associations, which followed at different times for the defence of the country." From this paragraph it has been inferred, that the pamphlet first appeared in the year 1744; but it probably was not published till a year or two afterwards. The first edition I have VOL. III. 1

never seen, but there are several copies of the second edition in the public libraries of Philadelphia, "printed in the year 1747." Considering the effect produced on the public mind by this pamphlet, it is not likely that so long a space as three years elapsed before a second edition was called for.

The following are Dr. Franklin's remarks upon this subject, contained in the part of his Memoirs written near the close of his life.

"With respect to defence, Spain having been several years at war against Great Britain, and being at length joined by France, which brought us into great danger; and the labored and longcontinued endeavour of our Governor, Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker Assembly to pass a militia law, and make other provisions for the security of the province, having proved abortive; I proposed to try what might be done by a voluntary subscription of the people. To promote this, I first wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled PLAIN TRUTH, in which I stated our helpless situation in strong lights, with the necessity of union and discipline for our defence, and promised to propose in a few days an association, to be generally signed for that purpose. The pamphlet had a sudden and rprising effect. I was called upon for the instrument of association; having settled the draft of it with a few friends, I appointed a meeting of the citizens in the large building before mentioned. The house was pretty full; I had prepared a number of printed copies, and provided pens and ink dispersed all over the room. I harangued them a little on the subject, read the paper, explained it, and then distributed the copies, which were eagerly signed, not the least objection being made. When the company separated, and the papers were collected, we found above twelve hundred signatures; and, other copies being dispersed in the country, the subscribers amounted at length to upwards of ten thousand. These all furnished themselves as soon as they could with arms, formed themselves into companies and regiments, chose their own officers, and met every week to be instructed in the manual exercise, and other parts of military discipline. The women, by subscriptions among themselves, provided silk colors, which they presented to the companies, painted with different devices and mottos, which I supplied.

"The officers of the companies composing the Philadelphia regiment, being met, chose me for their colonel; but, conceiving myself unfit, I declined that station, and recommended Mr. Lawrence, a fine person, and a man of influence, who was accordingly

appointed. I then proposed a lottery to defray the expense of building a battery below the town, and furnished with cannon. It filled expeditiously, and the battery was soon erected, the merlons being framed of logs and filled with earth. We bought some old cannon from Boston; but, these not being sufficient, we wrote to London for more, soliciting at the same time our proprietaries for some assistance, though without much expectation of obtaining it. Meanwhile Colonel Lawrence, Allen, Abraham Taylor, Esquires, and myself, were sent to New York by the associators, commissioned to borrow some cannon of Governor Clinton. He at first refused us peremptorily; but at a dinner with his Council, where there was great drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he softened by degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he advanced to ten; and at length he very good-naturedly conceded eighteen. They were fine cannon, eighteen pounders, with their carriages, which were soon transported and mounted on our batteries; where the associators kept a nightly guard while the war lasted; and, among the rest, I regularly took my turn of duty there, as a common soldier."

The pamphlet was translated into German, for the purpose of being circulated among the German population in Pennsylvania. An answer to it, entitled NECESSARY TRUTH, and written upon the Quaker principles of non-resistance, was published in 1748. Dr. Mease has examined the files of Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, and other records in Philadelphia, relating to the period in question, and is satisfied, that the first edition of PLAIN TRUTH did not appear before 1746 or 1747. In the latter year are found accounts of the meetings of the associators, their firings and marchings, and other military displays; as also the devices and mottos. of the several flags presented by the ladies. The celebrated Gilbert Tennent, then resident in Philadelphia, inculcated the doctrines of PLAIN TRUTH from the pulpit; particularly in a sermon On the Lawfulness of Defensive War, published in the year 1747.

As a characteristic trait of Franklin, to enforce precepts and instructions by emblematical signs, it may be mentioned, that the second edition of PLAIN TRUTH is adorned by a wood-cut representing the fable of Hercules and the Wagoner. Hercules sits enthroned on a cloud, with one arm resting on his club; three horses are struggling in vain to drag a heavily loaded wagon from a slough; and the wagoner is on his knees, with uplifted hands, imploring the aid of Hercules. Houses and trees are in the back ground,

The design and the wood-cut are not badly executed. At the bottom is a part of the motto inserted in the title-page; Non votis, neque suppliciis muliebribus, auxilia deorum parantur. - EDITOR.

IT is said, the wise Italians make this proverbial remark on our nation, viz. "The English feel, but they do not see." That is, they are sensible of inconveniences when they are present, but do not take sufficient care to prevent them; their natural courage makes them too little apprehensive of danger, so that they are often surprised by it, unprovided of the proper means of security. When it is too late, they are sensible of their imprudence; after great fires, they provide buckets and engines; after a pestilence, they think of keeping clean their streets and commonsewers; and when a town has been sacked by their enemies, they provide for its defence, &c. This kind. of after-wisdom is indeed so common with us, as to occasion the vulgar, though very significant saying, When the steed is stolen, you shut the stable door.

But the more insensible we generally are of public danger and indifferent when warned of it, so much the more freely, openly, and earnestly, ought such as apprehend it to speak their sentiments; that, if possible, those who seem to sleep may be awakened, to think of some means of avoiding or preventing the mischief, before it be too late.

Believing, therefore, that it is my duty, I shall honestly speak my mind in the following paper.

War, at this time, rages over a great part of the known world; our newspapers are weekly filled with fresh accounts of the destruction it everywhere occasions. Pennsylvania, indeed, situate in the centre of the colonies, has hitherto enjoyed profound repose;

and though our nation is engaged in a bloody war, with two great and powerful kingdoms, yet, defended, in a great degree, from the French, on the one hand, by the northern provinces, and from the Spaniards, on the other, by the southern, at no small expense to each, our people have, till lately, slept securely in their habitations.

There is no British colony, excepting this, but has made some kind of provision for its defence; many of them have therefore never been attempted by an enemy; and others, that were attacked, have generally defended themselves with success. The length and difficulty of our bay and river have been thought so effectual a security to us, that hitherto no means have been entered into, that might discourage an attempt upon us, or prevent its succeeding.

But, whatever security this might have been while both country and city were poor, and the advantage to be expected scarce worth the hazard of an attempt, it is now doubted, whether we can any longer safely depend upon it. Our wealth, of late years much increased, is one strong temptation, our defenceless state another, to induce an enemy to attack us; while the acquaintance they have lately gained with our bay and river, by means of the prisoners and flags of truce they have had among us; by spies which they almost every where maintain, and perhaps from traitors among ourselves; with the facility of getting pilots to conduct them; and the known absence of ships of war, during the greatest part of the year, from both Virginia and New York, ever since the war began, render the appearance of success to the enemy far more promising, and therefore highly increase our danger.

That our enemies may have spies abroad, and some even in these colonies, will not be made much doubt

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