Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

partially, as in the case of war with France, when tobacco is allowed to be sent thither under the sanction of passports.

EXCUASGES IN TRADE MAY BE GAINFUL TO EACH

PARTY. In transactions of trade it is not to be supposed that, like gaining, what one party guins the other must necessarily lose. The gain to each may be equal. If A has more corn than he can consuine, but wants cattle; and B has more cattle, but wants corn, exchange is gain to each: hereby the common stock of comforts in life is increased.

OF PAPER CREDIT. It is impossible for government to circumscribe or fix the extent of paper credit, which must of course fuctuate. Goverunent may as well pretend to lay down rules for the operations or the confidence of every individual in the course of his trade. Any seemmy temporary evil arising must naiurally work its own cure,

HUMOROUS ACCOUNT OF A CUSTOM AMONG THE AMERICANS, ENTITLED

WHITE-WASILING, ATTRIBUTED TO THE PEN OF DR. FRANKLIN. ALTHOUGH the following article has not yet appeared in any collection of the works of this great philosopher, we are inclined to receive the general opinion (from the plajmness of the style, and the humor which characterizes it,) to be the porforin ince of Dr. Franklin.

My wish is to yo:give some account of the people of these new states, but I am far from being qualified for the purpose, hiring as yet seen little more than the cities of N. York and Philadelphia. I have discovered but few national singularities ainong them. Their custoins and manners are nearly the saine with those of England, which they have long been used to copy. For, previous to the Revolution, the Americans were, from their infancy, taught to look up to the Eng.

lish as patterns of perfection in all things. I have observ. ed, however, one custom, which, for aught I know, is peculiar to this country; an account of it will serve to fill up the remainder of this sheet, and inay

afford

you some amusement.

When a young couple are about to enter into the matriinonial state, a never-failing article in the marriage treaty is, that the lady sha:) bave and enjoy the free and unmolested exercise of the rights of white-washing, with all its cereinonials, privileges, and appurtenances. A young woman would förego the most advantageous connexion, and even disappoint the warmest wish of her heart, rather than resign the invaluable right. You would wonder what this privilge of white-washing is: I will endeavor to give you some i:lea of the ceremony, as I have seen it perforined.

There is no season of the year in which the lady may not claim her privilege, if she pleases; but the latter end of May is most generally fixed upon for the purpose. The attentive husband may judge by certain prognostics when the storm is nigh at hand. When the lady is unusually fretful, finds fault with the servants, is discontented with the chi! dren, and complains much of the filthiness of every thing about her—these are signs which ought not to be neglected; yet they are not decisive, as they sometimes come on and go off again, without producing any farther effect. But if, wher the husband rises in the morning, he should observe in the yard a wheelbarrow with a quantiiy of lime in it, or should see certain buckets with lime dissolved in water, there is then no time to be lost; he immediately locks up the apartment or closet where his papers or his private property is kept, and putting the key in his pocket, betakes himself to flight: for, a husband, however beloved, becomes a perfect nuisance during this season of female rage, bis authority is superseded, his co:nmission is suspended, and the very sculliou, who cleans the brasses in the kitchen, becomes of more consideration and importance than him. He has nothing for it, hut to abdicate and run from an evil which he can neither prevent nor mollify.

'The husband gone, the ceremony begins. The walls are in a few minutes stripped of their fumiture; paintings, prints, and looking-glasses lie in a huddled heap about the Bors; the curtains are torn from the testers, the beds cram

med into the windows; chairs and tables, bedsteads and cradles, crowd the yard; and the garden fence bends beweath the weight of carpets, blankets, cloth cloaks, old coats, and ragged breeches. Here may be seen the lumber of the kitchen, formirig a dark and confused mass, for the foreground of the picture, grirlirons and fryingpans, rusty shovels and broken tongs, spits and pots, and the fractured reinains of rush-bottomer chairs. There a closet has dis gorged its bowels, cracked tumblers, broken wine-glasses, phials of forgotten physic, papers of unknown powders, seeds and dried herbs, handfuls of old corks, tops of tea. pots, and stoppers of departed diecanters ;—from the raghole in the garret to the rathole in the cellar, no place escapes unrummaged. It would seem as if the day of genere! doom was come, and the utensils of the house were dragged furth to judgment. In this teinpest the words of Lear naturally present themselves, and night, with some alteration, be made strictly applicable :

Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful pudder o'er our heads,
Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
That hast within thee, undivulged crinies,
Unwhipt of justice!

Close pent-up guilt,
Raise your concealing continents, and ask
Tliese dreadful summoners grace!'

This cerergony completed, and the house thoroughly evacuated, the next operation is to smear the walls and ceil. ings of every room and closet with brushes dipped in a solution of line, called white-wash; to pour buckets of water over every floor, and scratch all the partitions and waiuscots with rough brushes, wet with soap suds, and dipped in stone-cutter's sand. The windows by no means escape the general deluge. A servan: scrambles out upon the penthouse, at the risk of her neck, and with a mug in her hand, and a bucket within reaeh, she dashes away innumerable gallous of water against the glass panes; to the great annoyance of the passengers in the streets.

I have been told that an action at law was once brought again: t one of these water-nyinphs, by a person who had a new suit of clothes spoiled by this operation; but, after a long argument, it was determined by the whole court that

the action would not lie, inasmuch as the defendant was in the exercise of a legal right, and not answerable for the consequences; and so the poor gentieman was doubly nonsuited; for he lost not only his suit of clothes, but his suit at law.

'These sinearings, scratchings, washings and dashings, being duly performed, the next ceremony is to cleanse and replace the distracted furniture. You may have seen a house-raising or a ship-larmch, when all the hands within reach are collected together: recollect, if you can, the hurry, bustle, confusion, and noise, of such a scene, and you will have some idea of this cleaning match. The misfortune is that the sole object is to make things clean; it matters not how many useful, ornamental or valuable articles are mutilated, or suffer death under the operation : a mahogany chair and carved frame undergo the same discipline; they are to be made clean at all events; but their preservation is not worthy of attention. For instance, a fine large engraving is laid flat upon the floor; smaller prints are piled upon it, and the superincumbent weight cracks the glasses of the lower tier, but this is of no consequence. A valuable picture is placed eaning against the sharp corner of a table; others are made to lean against that, until the pressure of the whole forces the corner of the table through the canvas of the first. The frame and glass of a fine print are to be cleaned; the spirit and oil used on this occasion are suffered to leak through and spoil the engraving; no matter, if the glass is clean and the frame shine, it is sufficient: the rest is not worthy of consideration. An able arithmetician has made an accurate calculation, founded on long experience, and has discovered that the losses and destruction incident to two white-washings are equal to one removal, and three removals equal to one fire.

The cleaning frolic orer, matters begin to resume their pristine appearance. The storm abates, and all would be well again, but it is impossible that so great a convulsion in so snall a community, should not produce some farther ef. fects. For two or three weeks after the operation, the farnily are usually afflicted with sore throats or sore eyes, occasioned by the caustic quality of the lime, or with severe colds from the exhalations of wet floors or damp walls.

I knew a gentleman who was fond of accouuting for ever

ry thing in a philosophical way. He considers this, which I have called a custom, as a real periodical disease peculiar to the climate. His train of reasoning is ingenious and whimsical; but I am not at leisure to give you a detail. The result was, that he found the distemper to be incurable; but after much study he conceived he had discovered a method to di:ert the evil he could not subdue. For this purpose he caused a small building, about 12 feet square, to be erecteil in his garden, and fornished with some ordinary chairs and tables; and a few prints of the cheapest sort were hung against the walls. His hope was, that when the whitewashing frenzy seized the females of his family, they might repair to this apartment, and scrub, and smear, and scour, to their heart's content: and so spend the violence of the disease in this out-post, while he enjoyed hiinself in quiet at headquarters. But the experiment did not answer his expectation: it was impossible it should, since a prinicpal part of the gratification consists in the lady's having an uncontrolled right to torment her husband at least once a year, and to turn him out of doors, and take the reins of governınent into her own hands.

There is a much beiter contrivance than this of the philosopher's; which is, to cover the walls of the house with paper: this is generally done; and though it cannot abolish it at least shortens the period of female dominion. The paper is decorated with flowers of various fancies, and made so ornamental, that the women have admitted the fashion without perceiving the desigu.

There is also another alleviation of the hushand's distress; he generally has the privilege of a small room or closet for his books and papers, the key of which he is allowe; to keep. This is considered as a privileged place, and stands like the land of Goshen amid the plagues of Egypt. But then he must be extremely cautious, and ever on his guard; for should be inadvertently go abroad and leave the key in his door, the housemaid, who is always on the watch for such an opportunity, immediately enters in triumph with buckets, broons and brushes; takes possession of the premises, and forthwith puts all his books and papers to rights to his utter confusion, and sometimes serious detriment. For instance:

A gentlemau was sued by the executors of a tradesman,

« ZurückWeiter »