Abbildungen der Seite

Confined air, when saturated with perspirable matter, will not receive more ; and that matter must remain in our bodies, and occasion diseases; but it gives some previous notice of its being about to be hurtful, by producing certain uneasinesses, slight indeed at first, such as with regard to the lungs is a trifling sensation, and to the pores of the skin a kind of restlessness, which is difficult to describe, and few that feel it know the cause of it. But we may recollect that, sometimes, on waking in the night, we have, if warmly covered, found it difficult to get asleep again. We turn often, without finding repose in any position. This fidgetiness (to use a vulgar expression, for want of a better) is occasioned wholly by an uneasiness in the skin, owing to the retention of the perspirable matter, the bed-clothes having received their quantity, and, being saturated, refusing to take any more. To become sensible of this by an experiment, let a person keep his position in the bed, but throw off the bed-clothes, and suffer fresh air to approach the part uncovered of his body; he will then feel that part suddenly refreshed; for the air will immediately relieve the skin, by receiving, licking up, and carrying off, the load of perspirable matter that incommoded it. For every portion of cool air that approaches the warm skin, in receiving its part of that vapor, receives therewith a degree of heat that rarefies and renders it lighter, when it will be pushed away with its burthen, by cooler and therefore heavier fresh air, which for a moment supplies its place, and then, being likewise changed and warmed, gives way to a succeeding quantity. This is the order of nature, to prevent animals being infected by their own perspiration. He will now be sensible of the difference between the part exposed to the air, and that which, remaining sunk in the bed, denies the air access; for this part now manifests its uneasiness more distinctly by the comparison, and the seat of the uneasiness is more plainly perceived than when the whole surface of the body was affected by it. Here, then, is one great and general cause of unpleasing dreams. For, when the body is uneasy, the mind will be disturbed by it, and disagreeable ideas of various kinds will in sleep be the natural consequences. The remedies, preventive and curative, follow. 1. By eating moderately (as before advised, for health's sake), less perspirable matter is produced in a given time; hence the bed-clothes receive it longer before they are saturated, and we may therefore sleep longer before we are made uneasy by their refusing to receive any more. 2. By using thinner and more porous bed-clothes, which will suffer the perspirable matter more easily to pass through them, we are less incommoded, such being longer tolerable. 3. When you are awakened by this uneasiness, and find you cannot easily sleep again, get out of bed, beat up and turn your pillow, shake the bed-clothes well, with at least twenty shakes, then throw the bed open and leave it to cool; in the mean while, continuing undressed, walk about your chamber till your skin has had time to discharge its load, which it will do sooner as the air may be drier and colder. When you begin to feel the cold air unpleasant, then return to your bed, and you will soon fall asleep, and your sleep will be sweet and pleasant. All the scenes presented to your fancy will be too of the pleasing kind. I am often as agreeably entertained with them as by the scenery of an opera. If you happen to be too indolent to get out of bed, you may, instead of it, lift up your bed-clothes with one arm and leg, so as to draw in a good deal of fresh air, and by letting them fall force it out again. This, repeated twenty times, will so clear them of the perspirable matter they have imbibed as to permit your sleeping well for some time afterwards. But this latter method is not equal to the former. Those who do not love trouble, and can afford to have two beds, will find great luxury in rising, when they wake in a hot bed, and going into the cool one. Such shifting of beds would also be of great service to persons ill of a fever, as it refreshes and frequently procures sleep. A very large bed, that will admit a removal so distant from the first situation as to be cool and sweet, may in a degree answer the same end. One or two observations more will conclude this little piece. Care must be taken, when you lie down, to dispose your pillow so as to suit your manner of placing your head, and to be perfectly easy; then place your limbs so as not to bear inconveniently hard upon one another, as, for instance, the joints of your ankles; for, though a bad position may at first give but little pain and be hardly noticed, yet a continuance will render it less tolerable, and the uneasiness may come on while you are asleep, and disturb your imagination. These are the rules of the art. But, though they will generally prove effectual in producing the end intended, there is a case in which the most punctual observance of them will be totally fruitless. I need not mention the case to you, my dear friend, but my account of the art would be imperfect without it. The case is, when the person who desires to have pleasant dreams has not taken care to preserve, what is necessary above all things, A Good CoNSCIENCE.

[ocr errors]

[To Thomas PAINE.]* On his Arguments against a Particular Providence, &c. - [Without date.]

DEAR SIR : I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For, without the belief of a Providence, that takes cognizance of guards and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection.

I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that, though your reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind spits in his own face.

But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it ! You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And, perhaps, you are indebted to her originally — that is, to your religious education — for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.

I would advise you therefore not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification from the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it 2 I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours, B. FRANKLIN.

* There is little doubt that this letter was addressed to Paine, although it was originally published without the name of the person to whom it was directed.

On Party Abuse Newspaper Scurrility.

MESSRs. HALL AND SELLERs: I lately heard a remark that, on examination of the Pennsylvania Gazette for fifty years from its commencement, it appeared that during that long period scarce one libellous piece had ever appeared in it. This generally chaste conduct of your paper is much to its reputation; for it has long been the opinion of sober, judicious people, that nothing is more likely to endanger the liberty of the press than the abuse of that liberty by employing it in personal accusation, detraction and calumny. The excesses some of our papers have been guilty of in this particular have set this State in a bad light abroad, as appears by the following letter, which I wish you to publish, not merely to show your own disapprobation of the practice, but as a caution to others of the profession throughout the United States. For I have seen an European newspaper, in which the editor, who had been charged with frequently calumniating the Americans, justifies himself by saying “ that he had published nothing disgraceful to us, which he had not taken from our own printed papers.” I am, &c., A. B.

“NEw York, March 30, 1788.

‘DEAR FRIEND: My gout has at length left me, after five months' painful confinement. It afforded me, however, the leisure to read, or hear read, all the packets of your newspapers which you so kindly sent for my amusement.

“Mrs. W. has partaken of it; she likes to read the advertisements; but she remarks some kind of inconsistency in the announcing so many diversions for almost every evening in the week, and such quantities to be sold of expensive superfluities, fineries, and luxuries just imported, in a country that at the same time fills its papers with complaints of hard times and want of money.

“I tell her that such complaints are common to all times and all countries, and were made even in Solomon's time, when, as we are told, silver was as plenty in Jerusalem as the stones in the street, and yet even then there were people that grumbled, so as to incur this censure from that knowing prince : Say not thou that the former times were better than these; for thou dost not inquire rightly concerning that matter.

“But the inconsistence that strikes me the most is that between the name of your city, Philadelphia, brotherly love, and the spirit of rancor, malice and hatred, that breathes in its newspapers. For I learn from those papers that your state is divided into parties: that each ascribes all the public operations of the other to vicious motives; that they do not even suspect one another o- the smallest degree of honesty; that the antifederalists are such merely from the fear of losing power, places or emoluments, which they have in possession or in expectation; that the federalists are a set of conspirators, who aim at establishing a tyranny over the persons and property of their countrymen, and to live in splendor on the plunder of the people. I learn, too, that your justices of the peace, though chosen by their neighbors, make a villanous trade of their office, and promote discord to augment fees, and fleece their electors; and that this would not be mended by placing the choice in the executive council, who, with interested or party views, are continually making as improper appointments. Witness a “petty fiddler, sycophant and scoundrel,' appointed judge of the Admiralty; “an old woman and fomenter of sedition’ to be another of the judges, and “a Jeffries’ chief justice, &c. &c.; with ‘two harpies,' the comptroller and naval officers, to prey upon the merchants and deprive them of their property by force of arms, &c.

“I am informed also, by these papers, that your General Assembly, though the annual choice of the people, shows no regard to their rights, but, from sinister views or ignorance, makes laws in direct violation of the constitution, to divest the inhabitants of their property, and give it to strangers and intruders; and, that the Council, either fearing the resentment of their constituents, or plotting to enslave them, had projected to disarm them, and given orders for that purpose; and, finally, that your president, the unanimous joint choice of the Council and Assembly, is “an old rogue,” who gave his assent to the federal constitution merely to avoid refunding money he had purloined from the United States.

“There is, indeed, a good deal of manifest inconsistency in all this; and yet, a stranger seeing it in your own prints, though he

« ZurückWeiter »