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Moses denied the charge of peculation; and his accusers were destitute of proofs to support it; though facts, if real, are in their nature capable of proof! "I have not," said he (with holy confidence in the presence of God,) " I have not taken from this people the value of an ass, nor done them any othel mjury." But his enemies had made the charge, and with some success among the populace; for no kind of accusation is so readily made, or easily believed, by knaves, as the accusation of knavery. In fine, no less than two hundred and fifty ofthe principal men, "famcus in the congregation, men of renown,"f heading and exciting the mob, worked them up to such a pitch of frenzy, that they called out, Stone 'em, stone 'em, and thereby secure our liberties; and let us choose other captains, that they may lead us back into Egypt, in case we do not sueceeu m reducing the Canaanites.
On the whole, it appears that the Israelites were a people jealous of their new-acquired liberty, which jealousy was in itself no fault: but that, when they suffered it to be worked upon by artful men, preteni mg public good, with nothing really in view but jwrwte mterest, they were led to oppose the establishment of the new constitution, whereby they brought upon themselves much inconvenience and misfortune. It farther appears from the same inestimable history,
. that when, after many ages, the constitution had become old and much abused, and an amendment of
'k was proposed, the populace, as they had accused Moses of the ambition of making himself a prince, and cried out, Stone him, stone him; so, excited by their high priests and scribes, they exclaimed against the Messiah, that he aimed at becoming (ting of the Jews, and cried, Crucify him, crucify him. From all which we may gather, that popular opposition to a public measure is no proof of its impropriety, even though the opposition be excited and headed by men of distinction.
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To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreasonably and vehemently opposed; yet, I must own, I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of Midi momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being.
Though Britain bestows more attention to trade than any other nation, and though it be the general opinion, that the safety of their state depends upon her navy alone; yet it seems not a little extraordinary, that most of the great improvements in ship-building have originated abroad. The best sailing vessels in the royal navy have in general been French prizes. This, though it may admit of exceptions, cannot b* apon the «iiole disputed.
Nor is Britain entirely inattentive to naval architecture; though it is no where scientifically taught, and those who devise improvements have seldom an opportunity of bringing them into practice. What a pity it is, that no contrivance should be adopted, for concentrating the knowledge that different individu tils attain in this art, into one common focus, if the expression may be admitted. Our endeavours shall not be wanting, to collect together, in the best way we can, the scattered hints that shall occur under thig bead, not doubting but the public will receive witli
favour this humble attempt to waken the attention to a subject of such great national importance.
Dr. Franklin, among the other inquiries that had engaged his attention, during along life spent in the uninterrupted pursuit of useful improvements, did not let this escape his notice; and many useful hints, tending to perfect the art of navigation, and to meliorate the condition of seafaring people, occur in his work. In France, the art of constructing ships has long been a favourite study, and many improvements in that branch have originated with them. Among the last of the Frenchmen, who have made any considerable improvement in this respect, is M. Le Roy, who has constructed a vessel well adapted to sail in rivers, where the depth of water is inconsiderable, and that yet was capable of being navigated at sea with great ease. This he effected in a great measure by the particular mode of rigging, which gave the mariners much greater power over the vessel than they could have when of the usual construction.
I do not hear that this improvement has in any case been adopted in Britain. But the advantages that would result from having a vessel of small draught of water to sail with the same steadiness, and to lie equally near the wind, as one may do that is sharper built, are so obvious, that many persons have been desirous of falling upon some way to effect it. About London, this has been attempted by means of lee boards (a contrivance now so generally known as not to require to be here particularly described) and not without effect. But these are subject to certain inconveniences, that render the use of them in many cases ineligible.
Others have attempted to effect the purpose by building vessels with more than one keel; and this contrivance, when adopted upon proper principles, promises to be attended with the happiest effects. But hitherto that seems to have been scarcely adverted to. Time will be necessary to eradicate common notions of very old standing, before this can be effectually done.
Mr. W. Brodie, snip-master in Leith, has lately adopted a contrivance for this purpose, that seems to fee at the same time very simple and extremely eflW cacious. Necessity, in this case, as in many others, was the mother of invention. He had a small, flat, ill-built boat, which was so ill constructed as scarcely to admit of carrying a bit of sail on any occasion, and which was at the same time so heavy to be rowed, that he found great difficulty in using it for his ordinary occasions. In reflecting on the means thamight be adopted for giving this useless cable such a hold of the water as to admit of his employing a sai when he found it necessary, it readily occurred tha a greater depth of keel would have this tendency. But a greater depth of keel, though it would have been useful for this purpose, he easily foresaw, would make his boat be extremely inconvenient on many other occasions. To effect both purposes, he thought of adopting a moveable keel, which would admit of being let down or taken up at pleasure. This idea lie immediately carried into effect, by fixing a bar of iron of the depth he wanted, along each side of the keel, moving upon hinges that admitted of being moved in one direction, but whicli could not be bent back in the opposite direction. Thus, by means of a small cham fixed to each end, these moveable keels could be easily lifted up at pleasure; so that when lie was entering into a harbour, or shoal water, he had only to lift up his keels, and the boat was as capable of being managed there, as if he had wanted thern entirely; and when he went out to sea, where there was depth enough, by letting them down, the lee keel took a firm hold of the water,(while the other floated loose) and gave such a steadiness to all its movements, as can scarcely be conceived by those who have not experienced it.
This gentleman one day carried me out with hiro m his boat to try it. We made two experiments. At first, with a moderate breeze, when the moveable keels were kept up, the boat, when laid as near the wind as it could go, made an angle with the wake of about thirty degrees; but when the keels were let down, the same angle did not exceed five or six degrees ; being nearly parallel with the course.
Al another time, the wind was right a-head, a brisk breeze. When we began to beat up against it, a trading sloop was very near us, steering the same course with us. This sloop went through the water a good deal faster than we could: but in the course of two hours beating to windward, we found that the sloop was left behind two feet in three; though it is certain, that if our false keels had not been let down, we could scarcely, in that situation, have advanced one foot for her three.
It is unnecessary to point out to seafaring men the benefits that may be derived from this contrivance in certain circumstances, as these will be very obvious to them.
Notwithstanding the many fruitless attempts that have been made to discover a north-west passage into the South Seas, it would seem that this important geographical question is not yet fully decided; for at a meeting of the Academy of Sciences, at Paris, held on the 13th of November last, M. Bauche, first geographer to the king, read a curious memoir concerning the north-west passage. M. de Mendoza, an intelligent captain of a vessel in the service of Spain, charged with the care of former establishment] favourable to the marine, has made a careful examination of the archives of several departments: there he has found the relation of a voyage mode in the year 1598 by Lorenzo Herrero de Maldonada. There it appears, that at the entry into David's Straits, north lat. 60 degrees, and 28 of longitude, counting from the first meridian, he turned to the west, leaving Hudson's Bay on the south, and Baffin's Bay on the north. Arrived at lat . 03 and 297, he went towards the north by the Straits of Labrador, till he reached 76 and 278; and, finding himself in the Icy Sea, he turned south-west to lat. 60 and 235, where he found a strait, which separates Asia from America, by which he entered into the South Sea, which he called the Straits of Auian. This passage ought to be, ao.