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manned by old smugglers, who knew every creek on the coast of England, and, running all round the island, distressed the British coasting trade exceedingly, and raised their general insurance. One of those privateers alone, the Black Prince, took in the course of a year seventy-five sail : All the papers taken in each prize brought in were in virtue of an order of council sent up to Mr. Franklin, who was to examine them, judge of the legality of the capture, and write to the admiralty of the port that he found the prize good, and that the sale might be permitted. These papers, which are very voluminous, he has to produce. He served also as merchant, to make purchases, and direct the shipping of stores to a very great value, for which he has charged no coininission. But the part of his service which was the most fatiguing and confining was that of receiving and accepting, after a due and necessary examination, the bills of exchange drawn by Congress for interest-money, to the amount of two million and a half of lirres annually multitudes of the bills very small, each of which, the smallest, gave as much trouble in examining, as the largest. And this careful examination was found absolutely necessary, from the constant frauds attempted by presenting seconds and thirds for payment after the firsts had been discharged. As these bills were arriving more or less by every ship and every post, they required constant attendance. Mr. Franklin could make no journey for exercise, as had been annually his custom, and the confinement brought on a malady that is likely to afflict him while he lives. In short, though he has always been an active man, he never went through so much business during eight years, in any part of his life, as during those of his residence in France; which, however, he did not decline till he saw peace happily made, and found himself in the eightieth year of his age; when, if ever, a man has some right to expect repose.
[To DAVID HARTLEY.]
My VERY DEAR FRIEND: I received your favor of August last. Your kind condolences, on the painful state of my health,
are very obliging. I am thankful to God, however, that, among the numerous ills human life is subject to, one only of any importance is fallen to my lot, and that so late as almost to insure that it can be but of short duration. The convulsions in France are attended with some disagreeable circumstances; but, if by the struggle she obtains and secures for the nation its future liberty, and a good constitution, a few years' enjoyment of those blessings will amply repair all the damages their acquisition may have occasioned. God grant that not only the love of liberty, but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man, may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say, This is my country! Your wishes for a cordial and perpetual friendship between Britain and her ancient colonies are manifested continually in every one of your letters to me; something of my disposition on the same subject may appear to you in casting your eye over the enclosed paper. I do not by this opportunity send you any of our Gazettes; because the postage from Liverpool would be more than they are worth. I can only add my best wishes of every kind of felicity for the three Hartleys, to whom I have the honor of being an affectionate friend and most obedient humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.
[To willIAM FRANKLIN.]
PAssy, 16 August, 1784.
DEAR SoN : I received your letter of the 22d ultimo, and am glad to find that you desire to revive the affectionate intercourse that formerly existed between us. It will be very agreeable to me; indeed, nothing has ever hurt me so much, and affected me with such keen sensations, as to find myself deserted in my old age by my only son; and not only deserted, but to find him taking up arms against me in a cause wherein my good fame, fortune and life, were all at stake. You conceived, you say, that your duty to your king and regard for your country required this. I ought not to blame you for differing in sentiment with me in public affairs. We are men, all subject to errors. Our opinions are not in our own power; they are formed and governed much by circumstances, that are often as inexplicable as they are irresistible. Your situation was such that few would have censured your remaining neuter, though there are natural duties which precede political ones, and cannot be extinguished by them. This is a disagreeable subject. I drop it; and we will endeavor, as you propose, mutually to forget what has happened relating to it, as well as we can. 3% 3% 3% B. FRANKLIN.
[To NoAH weBSTER.] Innovations in he English Language— The Latin and the French — Fashions in Printing — Use of Capital Letters, Italics, &c. PhILADELPHIA, Dec. 26, 1789. DEAR SIR: I received some time since your “ Dissertations on the English Language.” The book was not accompanied by any letter or message informing me to whom I am obliged for . it, but I suppose it is to yourself. It is an excellent work, and will be greatly useful in turning the thoughts of our countrymen to correct writing. Please to accept my thanks for the great honor you have done me in its dedication. I ought to have made this acknowledgment sooner, but much indisposition prevented me. I cannot but applaud your zeal for preserving the purity of our language, both in its expressions and pronunciation, and in correcting the popular errors several of our States are continually falling into with respect to both. Give me leave to mention some of them, though possibly they may have already occurred to you. I wish, however, in some future publication of yours, you would set a discountenancing mark upon them. The first I remember is the word improved. When I left New England, in the year 1723, this word had never been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of ameliorated, or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mather's, entitled Remarkable Providences. As that eminent man wrote a very obscure hand, I remember that when I read that word in his book, used instead of the word imployed, I conjectured it was an error of the printer, who had mistaken a too short l in the writing for an r, and a y with too short a tail for a v ; whereby imployed was converted into improved. But when I returned to Boston, in 1733, I found this change had obtained favor, and was then become common; for I met with it often in perusing the newspapers, where it frequently made an appearance very ridiculous. Such, for instance, as the
advertisement of a country house to be sold, which had been many years improved as a tavern; and, in the character of a deceased country gentleman, that he had been for more than thirty years improved as a justice of peace. This use of the word improved is peculiar to New England, and not to be met with among any other speakers of English, either on this or the other side of the water. During my late absence in France, I find that several other new words have been introduced into our parliamentary language; for example, I find a verb formed from the substantive notice: I should not have NoTICED this, were it not that the gentleman, &c. Also another verb from the substantive advocate : The gentleman who Advocates, or has Advocated, that motion, &c. Another from the substantive progress, the most awkward and abominable of the three: The committee having PROGRESSED, resolved to adjourn. The word opposed, though not a new word, I find used in a new manner, as, The gentlemen who are opposed to this measure, — to which I have also myself always been opposed. If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations, you will use your authority in reprobating them. The Latin language, long the vehicle used in distributing knowledge among the different nations of Europe, is daily more and more neglected; and one of the modern tongues, namely, the French, seems in point of universality to have supplied its place. It is spoken in all the courts of Europe; and most of the literati, those even who do not speak it, have acquired knowledge enough of it to enable them easily to read the books that are written in it. This gives a considerable advantage to that nation; it enables its authors to inculcate and spread throughout other nations such sentiments and opinions on important points as are most conducive to its interests, or which may contribute to its reputation, by promoting the common interests of mankind. It is perhaps owing to its being written in French that Voltaire's Treatise on Toleration has had so sudden and so great an effect on the bigotry of Europe as almost entirely to disarm it. The general use of the French language has likewise a very advantageous effect on the profits of the bookselling branch of commerce, it being well known that the more copies can be sold that are struck off from one composition of types, the profits increase in a much greater proportion than they do in making a great number of pieces in any other kind of manufacture. And at present there is no capital town in Europe without a French bookseller's shop corresponding with Paris. Our English bids fair to obtain the second place. The great body of excellent printed sermons in our language, and the freedom of our writings on political subjects, have induced a number of divines of different sects and nations, as well as gentlemen concerned in public affairs, to study it; so far, at least, as to read it. And, if we were to endeavor the facilitating its progress, the study of our tongue might become much more general. Those who have employed some parts of their time in learning a new language have frequently observed that, while their acquaintance with it was imperfect, difficulties small in themselves operated as great ones in obstructing their progress. A book, for example, ill printed, or a pronunciation in speaking not well articulated, would render a sentence unintelligible which, from a clear print or a distinct speaker, would have been immediately comprehended. If, therefore, we would have the benefit of seeing our language more known among mankind, we should endeavor to remove all the difficulties, however small, that discourage the learning it. But I am sorry to observe that of late years those difficulties, instead of being diminished, have been augmented. In examining the English books that were printed between the Restoration and the accession of George the Second, we may observe that all substantives were begun with a capital, in which we imitated our mother tongue, the German. This was more particularly useful to those who were not well acquainted with the English; there being such a prodigious number of our words that are both verbs and substantives, and spelled in the same manner, though often accented differently in the pronunciation. This method has, by the fancy of printers, of late years been laid aside, from an idea that suppressing the capitals shows the character to greater advantage; those letters prominent above the line disturbing its even, regular appearance. The effect of this change is so considerable, that a learned man of France, who used to read our books, though not perfectly acquainted with our language, in conversation with me on the subject of our authors, attributed the greater obscurity he found in our modern books, compared with those of the period above mentioned, to change of style for the worse in our writers; of which mistake I convinced him, by marking for him each substantive with a capital in a paragraph, which he then easily understood, though before he could not comprehend it. This shows the inconvenience of that pretended improvement.