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whom I am so much indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements, her delicious company and heavenly harmony.
“It was,” said he, “the opinion of learned philosophers of our race, who lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world, the Moulin Joly, could not itself subsist more than eighteen hours; and I think there was some foundation for that opinion, since, by the apparent motion of the great luminary that gives life to all nature, and which in my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end of our earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness, necessarily producing universal death and destruction. I have lived seven of those hours, – a great age, being no less than four hundred and twenty minutes of time. How very few of us continue so long! I have seen generations born, flourish and expire. My present friends are the children and grand-children of the friends of my youth, who are now, alas, no more ' And I must soon follow them ; for, by the course of nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labor, in amassing honey-dew on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy! What the political strugles I have been engaged in, for the good of my compatriot inhabitants of this bush, or my philosophical studies for the benefit of our race in general for, in politics, what can laws do without morals 2 Our present race of ephemerae will in a course of minutes become corrupt, like those of other and older bushes, and consequently as wretched. And in philosophy how small our progress Alas! art is long, and life is short My friends would comfort me with the idea of a name, they say, I shall leave behind me; and they tell me I have lived long enough to nature and to glory. But what will fame be to an ephemera who no longer exists 2 And what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end, and be buried in universal ruin 2”
To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid pleasures now remain, but the reflection of a long life spent in meaning well, the sensible conversation of a few good lady ephemerae, and now and then a kind smile and a tune from the ever amiable Brillante.
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN BRITAIN, FRANCE, SPAIN, HOLLAND, SAxONY, AND AMERICA.”
Britain. Sister of Spain, I have a favor to ask of you. My subjects in America are disobedient, and I am about to chastise them; I beg you will not furnish them with any arms or ammunition. Spain. Have you forgotten, then, that when my subjects in the Low Countries rebelled against me, you not only furnished them with military stores, but joined them with an army and a fleet? I wonder how you can have the impudence to ask such a favor of me, or the folly to expect it ! Britain. You, my dear sister France, will surely not refuse me this favor. France. Did you not assist my rebel Huguenots with a fleet and an army at Rochelle 2 And have you not lately aided, privately and sneakingly, my rebel subjects in Corsica? And do you not at this instant keep their chief pensioned, and ready to head a fresh revolt there, whenever you can find or make an opportunity? Dear sister, you must be a little silly! Britain. Honest Holland . You see it is remembered I was once your friend; you will therefore be mine on this occasion. I know, indeed, you are accustomed to smuggle with these rebels of mine. I will wink at that ; sell them as much tea as you please, to enervate the rascals, since they will not take it of me; but, for God's sake, don't supply them with any arms' Holland. T is true you assisted me against Philip, my tyrant of Spain; but have I not assisted you against one of your tyrants,f and enabled you to expel him 2 Surely that account, as we merchants say, is balanced, and I am nothing in your debt. I have, indeed, some complaints against you, for endeavoring to starve me by your Navigation Acts; but, being peaceably disposed, I do not quarrel with you for that. I shall only go on quietly with my own business. Trade is my profession; 'tis all I have to subsist on. And, let me tell you, I shall make no scruple (on the prospect of a good market for that commodity) even to send my ships to Hell, and supply the Devil with brimstone. For, you must know, I can insure in London against the burning of my sails.
* This satirical piece was written soon after Franklin’s arrival in France, as commissioner, at the beginning of the Revolutionary war. f James the Second.
America to Britain. Why, you old bloodthirsty bully You, who have been everywhere vaunting your own prowess, and defaming the Americans as poltroons ! You, who have boasted of being able to march over all their bellies with a single regiment! You, who by fraud have possessed yourself of their strongest fortress, and all the arms they had stored up in it! You, who have a disciplined army in their country, intrenched to the teeth, and provided with everything! Do you run about begging all Europe not to supply those poor people with a little powder and shot Do you mean, then, to fall upon them naked and unarmed, and butcher them in cold blood 2 Is this your courage 2 Is this your magnanimity ?
Britain. O! you wicked — Whig — Presbyterian — Serpent Have you the impudence to appear before me, after all your disobedience 2 Surrender immediately all your liberties and properties into my hands, or I will cut you to pieces! Was it for this that I planted your country at so great an expense? That I protected you in your infancy, and defended you against all your enemies?
America. I shall not surrender my liberty and property, but with my life. It is not true that my country was planted at your expense. Your own records* refute that falsehood to your face. Nor did you ever afford me a man or a shilling to defend me against the Indians, the only enemies I had upon my own account. But when you have quarrelled with all Europe, and drawn me with you into all your broils, then you value yourself upon protecting me from the enemies you have made for me. I have no natural cause of difference with Spain, France or Holland, and yet by turns I have joined with you in wars against them all. You would not suffer me to make or keep a separate peace with any of them, though I might easily have done it to great advantage. Does your protecting me in those wars give you a right to fleece me? If so, as I fought for you, as well as you for me, it gives me a proportionable right to fleece you. What think you of an American law to make a monopoly of you and your commerce, as you have done by your laws of me and mine? Content yourself with that monopoly if you are wise, and learn justice if you would be respected
* See the Journals of the House of Commons, 1642, namely: “Die Veneris, Martii 10°, 1642. “Whereas, the plantations in New England have, by the blessing of Al
mighty God, had good and prosperous success without any public charge to this State,” &c.
Britain. You impudent b—h ! Am not I your mother country Is not that a sufficient title to your respect and obedience? Sarony. Mother country Ha! has ha! What respect have you the front to claim as a mother country 2 You know that I am your mother country, and yet you pay me none. Nay, it is but the other day that you hired ruffians # to rob me on the highway,f and burn my house ! # For shame ! Hide your face, and hold your tongue! If you continue this conduct, you will make yourself the contempt of Europe Britain. O Lord! Where are my friends? France, Spain, Holland and Saxony, all together. Friends ! Believe us, you have none; nor ever will have any, till you mend your manners. How can we, who are your neighbors, have any regard for you, or expect any equity from you, should your power increase, when we see how basely and unjustly you have used both your own mother and your own children 2
FoRMERLY, when duels were used to determine law-suits, from an opinion that Providence would in every instance favor truth and right with victory, they were excusable. At present, they decide nothing. A man says something, which another tells him is a lie. They fight; but, whichever is killed, the point in dispute remains unsettled. To this purpose they have a pleasant little story here. A gentleman in a coffee-house desired another to sit further from him. “Why so 2° “Because, sir, you stink.” “That is an affront, and you must fight me.” “I will fight you, if you insist upon it; but I do not see how that will mend the matter. For, if you kill me, I shall stink too; and if I kill you, you will stink, if possible, worse than you do at present.” How can such miserable sinners as we are entertain so much pride as to conceit that every offence against our imagined honor merits death 2 These petty princes in their own opinion would call that sovereign a tyrant who should put one of them to death for
* Prussians. f They entered and raised contributions in Saxony. 4 And they burnt the fine suburbs of Dresden, the capital of Saxony.
a little uncivil language, though pointed at his sacred person; yet every one of them makes himself judge in his own cause, condemns the offender without a jury, and undertakes himself to be the executioner.
SIMPLICITY IN WRITING.
How shall we judge of the goodness of a writing 2 or what qualities should a writing on any subject have, to be good and perfect in its kind 2
Answer. To be good it ought to have a tendency to benefit the reader, by improving his virtue or his knowledge. The method should be just ; that is, it should proceed regularly from things known to things unknown, distinctly, clearly, and without confusion. The words used should be the most expressive that the language affords, provided they are the most generally understood. Nothing should be expressed in two words that can as well be expressed in one; that is, no synonyms should be used, but the whole be as short as possible, consistent with clearness. The words should be so placed as to be agreeable to the ear in reading: summarily, it should be smooth, clear and short; for the contrary qualities are displeasing.
ADWANTAGES OF THE PRESS.
THE ancient Roman and Greek orators could only speak to the number of citizens capable of being assembled within the reach of their voice; their writings had little effect, because the bulk of the people could not read. Now by the press we can speak to nations; and good books, and well-written pamphlets, have great and general influence. . The facility with which the same truths may be repeatedly enforced by placing them in different lights, in newspapers which are everywhere read, gives a great chance of establishing them. And we now find that it is not only right to strike while the iron is hot, but that it is very practicable to heat it by continual striking.