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This poem has been printed in nearly all the collections of Dr. Franklin's writings, and for that reason it is retained in the present edition; but I have seen no evidence, which satisfies me that he was the author of it. In the American Museum, where it was printed in 1788, it was said to be “ascribed to Dr. Franklin"; and, on that authority, it was taken first into Robinson's and then into Longman's edition, and thence transferred, under Franklin's name, to various other publications in England and the United States. It is not contained in W. T. Franklin's edition. -EDITOR.
SOME wit of old, - such wits of old there were, Whose hints showed meaning, whose allusions care, By one brave stroke to mark all human kind, Called clear blank paper every infant mind; Where still, as opening sense her dictates wrote, Fair virtue put a seal, or vice a blot.
The thought was happy, pertinent, and true;
Various the papers various wants produce, The wants of fashion, elegance, and use. Men are as various; and, if right I „scan, Each sort of paper represents some man.
Pray note the fop, — half powder and half lace,
Mechanics, servants, farmers, and so forth,
The wretch, whom avarice bids to pinch and spare, Starve, cheat, and pilfer, to enrich an heir, Is coarse brown paper; such as pedlers choose To wrap up wares, which better men will use.
Take next the miser's contrast, who destroys Health, fame, and fortune, in a round of joys. Will any paper match him? Yes, throughout, He's a true sinking paper, past all doubt.
The retail politician's anxious thought Deems this side always right, and that stark naught; He foams with censure; with applause he raves, A dupe to rumors, and a tool of knaves; He'll want no type his weakness to proclaim, While such a thing as foolscap has a name.
The hasty gentleman, whose blood runs high,
What are our poets, take them as they fall, Good, bad, rich, poor, much read, not read at all? Them and their works in the same class you'll find; They are the mere waste-paper of mankind.
Observe the maiden, innocently sweet;
One instance more, and only one I'll bring; 'Tis the great man who scorns a little thing, Whose thoughts, whose deeds, whose maxims are his own, Formed on the feelings of his heart alone; True genuine royal paper is his breast; Of all the kinds most precious, purest, best.
Concerning all the following articles, from The Levee to An Economical Project inclusive, Mr. William Temple Franklin remarks, that they “were chiefly written by Dr. Franklin for the amusement of his intimate society in London and Paris; and were actually collected in a small Portfolio, endorsed as above. Several of the pieces were either originally written in French, or afterwards translated by him into that language, by way of exercises.” The pieces which follow next, entitled The Craven Street Gazette, and A Letter concerning China, may perhaps be properly ranked in the same class. – EDITor.
IN the first chapter of Job we have an account of a transaction said to have arisen in the court, or at the levee, of the best of all possible princes, or of governments by a single person, viz. that of God himself. At this levee, in which the sons of God were assembled, Satan also appeared. It is probable the writer of that ancient book took his idea of this levee from those of the eastern monarchs of the age he lived in. It is to this day usual, at the levees of princes, to have persons assembled who are enemies to each other, who seek to obtain favor by whispering calumny and detraction, and thereby ruining those that distinguish themselves by their virtue and merit. And kings frequently ask a familiar question or two, of every one
in the circle, merely to show their benignity. These circumstances are particularly exemplified in this relation.
If a modern king, for instance, finds a person in the circle, who has not lately been there, he naturally asks him how he has passed his time since he last had the pleasure of seeing him. The gentleman perhaps replies, that he has been in the country to view his estates, and visit some friends. Thus Satan, being asked whence he cometh, answers, “From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.” And being further asked, whether he had considered the uprightness and fidelity of the prince's servant Job, he immediately displays all the malignance of the designing courtier, by, answering with another question ; “Doth Job serve God for naught? Hast thou not given him immense wealth, and protected him in the possession of it? Deprive him of that, and he will curse thee to thy face.” In modern phrase, “Take away his places and his pensions, and your Majesty will soon find him in the opposition.”
This whisper against Job had its effect. He was delivered into the power of his adversary, who deprived him of his fortune, destroyed his family, and completely ruined him.
The Book of Job is called by divines a sacred poem, and, with the rest of the Holy Scriptures, is understood to be written for our instruction.
What then is the instruction to be gathered from this supposed transaction ?
Trust not a single person with the government of your state. For if the Deity himself, being the monarch, may for a time give way to calumny, and suffer it to operate the destruction of the best of subjects; what mischief may you not expect from such power in a