Abbildungen der Seite

husbands. I dare say they will be educated so as to deserve them. I knew a wise old man who used to advise his young friends to choose wives out of a bunch; for where there were many daughters, he said, they improved each other, and from emulation acquired more accomplishments, knew more, could do more, and were not spoiled by parental fondness, as single children often are. Yours have my best wishes and blessing, if that can be of any value. I received a very polite letter from your friend, Mr. Bowen, relating to the print. Please to present him my respectful compliments. I am just returned from a long journey. Your affectionate cousin, B. FRANKLIN.


Modes of Evercise Importance to Health.

LoNDoN, 19 August, 1772.

DEAR SoN: IN yours of May 14th you acquaint me with your indisposition, which gave me great concern. The resolution you have taken to use more exercise is extremely proper; and I hope you will steadily perform it. It is of the greatest importance to prevent diseases, since the cure of them by physic is so very precarious.

In considering the different kinds of exercise, I have thought that the quantum of each is to be judged of, not by time or by distance, but by the degree of warmth it produces in the body. Thus, when I observe, if I am cold when I get into a carriage in a morning, I may ride all day without being warmed by it; that, if on horseback my feet are cold, I may ride some hours before they become warm ; but, if I am ever so cold on foot, I cannot walk an hour briskly without glowing from head to foot by the quickened circulation; I have been ready to say (using round numbers, without regard to exactness, but merely to make a great difference), that there is more exercise in one mile's riding on horseback than five in a coach, and more in one mile's walking on foot than in five on horseback; to which I may add, that there is more in walking one mile up and down stairs than in five on a level floor.

The two latter exercises may be had within doors, when the weather discourages going abroad; and the last may be had when one is pinched for time, as containing a great quantity of exercise in a handful of minutes. The dumb bell is another exercise of the latter compendious kind. By the use of it I have in forty swings quickened my pulse from sixty to one hundred beats in a minute, counted by a second watch; and I suppose the warmth generally increases with quickness of pulse. B. FRANKLIN.

[To Joseph PRIESTLEy.]

Moral Algebra, for arriving at Decisions in Doubtful Cases.
LoNDON, 19 September, 1772.

DEAR SIR: In the affair of so much importance to you, wherein you ask my advice, I cannot, for want of sufficient premises, counsel you what to determine; but, if you please, I will tell you how. When those difficult cases occur, they are difficult chiefly because, while we have them under consideration, all the reasons pro and con are not present to the mind at the same time; but sometimes one set present themselves, and at other times another, the first being out of sight. Hence the various purposes or inclinations that alternately prevail, and the uncertainty that perplexes us.

To get over this, my way is, to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns, writing over the one pro, and over the other con; then, during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives that at different times occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them all together in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and, where I find two (one on each side) that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I find a reason pro equal to some two reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out the five ; and, thus proceeding, I find at length where the balance lies; and if, after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly. And, though the weight of reasons cannot be taken with the precision of algebraic quantities, yet, when each is thus considered separately and comparatively, and the whole lies before me, I think I can judge better, and am less liable to make a rash step ; and in fact I have found great advantage from this kind of equation, in what may be called moral or prudential algebra. Wishing sincerely that you may determine for the best, I am ever, my dear friend, yours, most affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.

[TO THE SAME.] The Philosopher's Stone— Wickedness of the American Men. PARIs, 27 January, 1777. DEAR SIR: I received your very kind letter, of February last, some time in September. Major Carleton, who was so kind as to forward it to me, had not an opportunity of doing it sooner. I rejoice to hear of your continual progress in those useful discoveries; I find that you have set all the philosophers of Europe at work upon fixed air ; and it is with great pleasure I observe how high you stand in their opinion, for I enjoy my friends' fame as my own. The hint you gave me, jocularly, that you did not quite despair of the philosopher's stone, draws from me a request that, when you have found it, you will take care to lose it again; for I believe in my conscience that mankind are wicked enough to continue slaughtering one another as long as they can find money to pay the butchers. But, of all the wars in my time, this on the part of England appears to me the wickedest; having no cause but malice against liberty, and the jealousy of commerce. And I think the crime seems likely to meet with its proper punishment, —a total loss of her own liberty, and the destruction of her own commerce. I suppose you would like to know something of the state of affairs in America. In all probability, we shall be much stronger the next campaign than we were in the last; better armed, better disciplined, and with more ammunition. When I was at the camp before Boston, the army had not five rounds of powder a man. This was kept a secret even from our people. The world wondered that we so seldom fired a cannon; we could not afford it ; — but we now make powder in plenty. To me it seems, as it has always done, that this war must end in our favor, and in the ruin of Britain, if she does not speedily put an end to it. An English gentleman here the other day, in company with some French, remarked that it was folly in France not to make war immediately. And in England, replied one of them, not to make peace. Do not believe the reports you hear of our internal divisions We are, I believe, as much united as any people ever were, and as firmly. B. FRANKLIN.

[To JosLAH QUINCY.] Providence Rules—National Characteristics American Superfluities. PAssy, 22 April, 1779. DEAR SIR: I received your very kind letter by Mr. Bradford, who appears a very sensible and amiable young gentleman, to whom I should with pleasure render any services in my power, upon your much-respected recommendation; but I understand he returns immediately. It is with great sincerity I join you in acknowledging and admiring the dispensations of Providence in our favor. America has only to be thankful, and to persevere. God will finish his work, and establish their freedom ; and the lovers of liberty will flock from all parts of Europe, with their fortunes, to participate with us of that freedom, as soon as peace is restored. I am exceedingly pleased with your account of the French politeness and civility, as it appeared among the officers and people of their fleet. They have certainly advanced in those respects many degrees beyond the English. I find them here a most amiable nation to live with. The Spaniards are by common opinion supposed to be cruel, the English proud, the Scotch insolent, the Dutch avaricious, &c.; but I think the French have no national vice ascribed to them. They have some frivolities, but they are harmless. To dress their heads so that a hat cannot be put on them, and then wear their hats under their arms, and to fill their noses with tobacco, may be called follies, perhaps, but they are not vices. They are only the effects of the tyranny of custom. In short, there is nothing wanting in the character of a Frenchman that belongs to that of an agreeable and worthy man. There are only some trifles surplus, or which might be spared. Will you permit me, while I do them this justice, to hint a little censure on our own country people, which I do in good will, wishing the cause removed You know the necessity we are under of supplies from Europe, and the difficulty we have at present in making returns. The interest bills would do a good deal towards purchasing arms, ammunition, clothing, sail-cloth, and other necessaries for defence. Upon inquiry of those who present these bills to me for acceptance, what the money is to be laid out in, I find that most of it is for superfluities, and more than half of it for tea. How unhappily in this instance the folly of our people and the avidity of our merchants concur to weaken and impoverish our country ! I formerly computed that we consumed before the war, in that single article, the value of five hundred thousand pounds sterling annually. Much of this was saved by stopping the use of it. I honored the virtuous resolution of our women in foregoing that little gratification, and I lament that such virtue should be of so short duration. Five hundred thousand pounds sterling, annually laid out in defending ourselves, or annoying our enemies, would have great effect. With what face can we ask aids and subsidies from our friends, while we are wasting our own wealth in such prodigality ? With great and sincere esteem, I have the honor to be, dear sir, &c., B. FRANKLIN.

[To Joseph PRIESTLEy.]

Progress of Science All Situations have their Inconveniences Illustrative Anecdote. - PAssy, 8 February, 1780. DEAR SIR : Your kind letter of September 27th came to hand but very lately, the bearer having stayed long in Holland. I always rejoice to hear of your being still employed in experimental researches into nature, and of the success you meet with. The rapid progress true science now makes occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried in a thousand years the power of man over matter. We may, perhaps, learn to deprive large masses of their gravity, and give them absolute levity, for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may diminish its labor and double its produce ; all diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured, not excepting even that of old age, and our lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian standard. O that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement! that men would cease to be wolves to one another, and that human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity'

« ZurückWeiter »