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half, and the revenue of government arising from its share of prizes be totally destroyed And for what ? To gratify the whims of a whimsical sect, who would have us not only forbear making more slaves, but even to manumit those we have But who is to indemnify their masters for the loss 2 Will the state do it? Is our treasury sufficient? Will the Erika do it? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think justice to the slaves, do a greater injustice to the owners? “And, if we set our slaves free, what is to be done with them 2 Few of them will return to their countries; they know too well the greater hardships they must there be subject to; they will not embrace our holy religion; they will not adopt our manners; our people will not pollute ourselves by intermarrying with them. Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets, or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage 2 for men accustomed to slavery will not work for a livelihood when not compelled. And what is there so pitiable in their present condition ? Were they not slaves in their own countries? Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian States, governed by despots, who hold all their subjects in slavery, without exception ? Even England treats its sailors as slaves; for they are, whenever the government pleases, seized, and confined in ships of war, condemned not only to work, but to fight, for small wages, or a mere subsistence, not better than our slaves are allowed by us. “Is their condition, then, made worse by their falling into our hands 2 No, they have only exchanged one slavery for another, and I may say a better; for here they are brought into a land where the sun of Islamism gives forth its light, and shines in full splendor, and they have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true doctrine, and thereby saving their immortal souls. Those who remain at home have not that happiness. Sending the slaves home, then, would be sending them out of light into darkness. I repeat the question, What is to be done with them 2 I have heard it suggested that they may be planted in the wilderness, where there is plenty of land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free state; but they are, I doubt, too little disposed to labor without compulsion, as well as too ignorant, to establish a good government; and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy or again enslave them. While serving us, we take care to provide them with everything, and they are treated with humanity. The laborers in their own country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and clothed. The condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further improvement. Here their lives are in safety. They are not liable to be impressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another's Christian throats, as in the wars of their own countries.
“If some of the religious mad bigots who now tease us with their silly petitions have, in a fit of blind zeal, freed their slaves, it was not generosity, it was not humanity, that moved them to the action; it was from the conscious burden of a load of sins, and a hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation. How grossly are they mistaken to suppose slavery to be disallowed by the Koran Are not the two precepts, to quote no more, ‘Masters, treat your slaves with kindness ; slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity,” clear proofs to the contrary 2 Nor can the plundering of infidels be in that sacred book forbidden, since it is well known from it that God has given the world, and all that it contains, to his faithful Mosselmen, who are to enjoy it of right, as fast as they conquer it.
“Let us, then, hear no more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government, and producing general confusion. I have therefore no doubt but this wise council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition.”
The result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to this resolution: “The doctrine that plundering and enslaving the Christians is unjust is at best problematical ; but that it is the interest of this state to continue the practice is clear; —therefore let the petition be rejected.” And it was rejected accordingly. And since like motives are apt to produce in the minds of men like opinions and resolutions, may we not, Mr. Brown, venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the Parliament of England for abolishing the slave-trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them, will have a similar conclusion ? I am, sir, your constant reader and humble servant, HISTORICUs.
ON GRATITUDE TO THE MINISTRY.
To the Printer of the Public Advertiser.
SIR: Your correspondent Britannicus inveighs violently against Dr. Franklin for his ingratitude to the ministry of this nation, who have conferred upon him so many favors. They gave him the post-office of America, they made his son a governor, and they offered him a post of five hundred a year in the salt office if he would relinquish the interests of his country; but he has had the wickedness to continue true to it, and is as much an American as ever. As it is a settled point in government here that every man has his price, ’tis plain they are bunglers in their business, and have not given him enough. Their master has as much reason to be angry with them as Rodrigue, in the play, with his apothecary, for not effectually poisoning Pandolpho, and they must probably make use of the apothecary's justification, namely:
“Rodrigue. You promised to have this Pandolpho upon his bier in less than a week; ’tis more than a month since, and he still walks and stares me in the face.
“ Fell. True; and yet I have done my best endeavors. In various ways I have given the miscreant as much poison as would have killed an elephant. He has swallowed dose after dose; far from hurting him, he seems the better for it. He hath a wonderfully strong constitution. I find I cannot kill him but by cutting his throat, and that, as I take it, is not my business.
“Rodrigue. Then it must be mine.”
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 ribbon, 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 ribbon 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. * In 1747, Franklin wrote, in reference to his electrical pursuits, to Peter Collinson : “I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my attention and time as this has lately done ; for, what with making experiments when I can be alone, and repeating them to my friends and acquaintance, who, from the novelty of the thing, come continually in crowds to see them, I have during some months past had little leisure for anything else.” Collinson wrote to him from London, in 1753: “The King of France strictly commands the Abbé Mazéas to write a letter in the politest terms to the Royal Society, to return the king’s thanks and compliments, in an express manner, to Mr. Franklin, of Pennsylvania, for his
* We have already quoted (page 106) the high and authoritative estimate placed upon Franklin’s philosophical writings by Sir Humphrey Davy. Lord Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, remarks upon them as follows: 7 “The most ingenious and profound explanations are suggested, as if they were the most natural and obvious way of accounting for the phenomena; and the author seems to value himself so little on his most important discoveries, that it is necessary to compare him with others before we can form a just notion of his merits. As he seems to be conscious of no exertion, he feels no partiality for any part of his speculations, and never seeks to raise the reader’s ideas of their importance by any arts of declamation or eloquence. Indeed, the habitual precision of his conceptions, and his invariable practice of referring to specific facts and observations, secured him, in a great measure, both from extravagant conjectures, in which too many naturalists have indulged, and from the zeal and enthusiasm which seem so naturally to be engendered in their defence. He was by no means averse to give scope to his imagination in suggesting a variety of explanations of obscure and unmanageable phenomena; but he never allowed himself to confound these vague and conjectural theories with the solid results of experience and observation. In his meteorological papers, and in his observations upon heat and light, there is a great deal of such bold and original suggestion; but the author evidently sets little value on them, and has no sooner disburdened his mind of the impressions from which they proceeded, than he seems to dismiss them entirely from his consideration, and turns to the legitimate philosophy of experiment with unabated diligence and humility. As an instance of this disposition, we may quote part of a letter to the Abbé Soulavie upon a new theory of the earth, which he proposes and dismisses, without concern or anxiety, in the course of a few sentences; though, if the idea had fallen on the brain of an European philosopher, it might have germinated into a volume of eloquence, like Buffon's, or an infinite array of paragraphs and observations, like those of Parkinson or Dr. Hutton.”