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The committee shall make a report of their proceedings, and of the state of their stock to the society, at their quarterly meetings, in the months called April and October,
Philadelphia, 19th October, 1789.
PAPER: A POEM.
Some wit of old such wits of old there were
The thought was happy, pertinent and true;
various wants produce,
Pray note the fop – half powder and half lace –
Mechanics, servants, farmers, and so forth,
The wretch, whom av’rice bid's to pinch and spare,
Take next the miser's contrast, who destroys
The retail politician's anxious thought
The hasty gentleman, whose blood runs high,
What are your poets, take them as they fall,
Observe the maiden, innocently sweet,
One instance more, and only one I'll bring;
PLAIN TRUTH; or serious Considerations on the Present State of the City of Philadelphia, and Province
BY A TRADESMAN OF PHILADELPHIA). It is said, the wise Italians make this proverbial remark on our nation, viz. The English feel, but they do no see. That is, they are sensible of inconveniences when they are present, but do not take sufficient care to prevent them: their natural courage makes them too little apprehensive of danger, so that they are often surprised by it, unprovided of the proper means of security. When it is too late, they are sensible of their imprudence: after great fires, they provide buckets and engines : after a pestilence, they think of keeping clean their streets and common sewers: and when a town has been sacked by their enemies, they *) "In 1744, a Spanish privateer, having entered the Bay of Delaware,
ascended as high as Newcastle, to the great terror of the citizens of Philadelphia. On this occasion Franklin wrote his first political pam. phlet called Plain Truth, to exhort his fellow-citizens to the bearing of arms; which laid the foundation of those military associations, which followed, as diferent times, for the desenco of the country.”
provide for its defence, etc. This kind of after-wisdom is Indeed so common with us, as to occasion the vulgar, though very insignificant saying, When the steed is stolen, you shut the stable door.
But the more insensible we generally are of public danger and indifferent when warnted of it, so much the more freely, openly, and earnestly, ought such as apprehend it to speak their sentiments: thai, it possible, those who seem to sleep may be awakened, to think of some means of avoiding or preventing the mischief, before it be too late.
Believing the ore, that it is my duty, I shall honestly speak my mind in the following paper.
War at this time rages over a great part of the known world : our newspapers are weekly filled with fresh accounts of the destruction it every where occasions. Penn. sylvania, indeed, situate in the centre of the colonies, has hitherto enjoyed profound repose; and though our nation is engaged in a bloody war, with two great and powerful kingdoms, yet, defended, in a great degree, from the French, on the one hand, by the northern provinces, and from the Spaniards on the other, by the southern, at no small expense to each, our people have till lately, slept securely in their habitations.
There is no British colony, excepting this, but has made some kind of provision for its defence; many of them have therefore never been attempted by an enemy; and others, that were attacked, have generally defended themselves with success, The length and difficulty of our bay and river have been thought so effectual a security to us, that hitherto no means have been entered into, that might discourage an attempt upon us, or prevent its succeeding.
But whatever security this might have been while both country and city were poor, and the advantage to be expected scarce worth the hazard of an attempt, it is now doubted, whether we can any longer safely depend upon it. Our wealth, of late years much encreased, is one strong temptation, our defcnceless state another, to induce an enemy to attack us; while the acquaintance they have Jately gained with our bay and river, by means of the prisoners and flags of truce they have had among us; by spies which they almost every where maintain, and perhaps from traitors among ourselves with the facility of getting pilots to conduct them; and the known absence of ships of war, during the greatest part of the year, from both Virginia and New York, ever since the war began, render the appearance of success to the enemy far more promising, and therefore highly encrease our danger.
That our enemies may have spies abroad, and some even in these colonies, will not be made much doubt of, when it is considered, that such has been the practice of all nations in all ages, whenever they were engaged, or intended to engage in war. Of this we have an early ex
amble in the book of Judges (too pertinent to our case, and therefore I must beg leave a little to enlarge upon it) where we are told, Chap. XVIII, v. 2. That the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts to spie out the land, and search it, saying, Go, search the land. These Danites it seems were at this time not very orthodox in their religion, and their spies met with a certain idolatrous priest of their own persuasion, v. 3, and they said to him, Who brought thee hither? What makest thou in this place? And what hast thou here? [Would to God no such priests were to be found among us). And they said into him, v. 5, Ask counsel of God, that we may know, whether our way which we go shall be prosperous: and the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the Lord is your way wherein you go. [Are there no priests among us, think you, that might, in the like case, give an enemy as good encouragenient? It is well known, that we have numbers of the same religion with those, who of late encouraged the French to invade our Mother Country.] And they came, verse 7, to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt CARELESS, after the manner of the Zidonians, QUIET and SECURE. They thought themselves secure, no doubt; and as they never had been disturbed, vainly thought they never should. It is not unlikely, that some might see the danger they were exposed to by living in that careless manner: but that, if these publicly expressed their apprehensions, the rest reproached them as timorous persons, wanting courage or confidence in their gods, who (they might say) had hitherto protected them. But the spies, verse S, returned, and said to their countrymen, verse 9, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and behold it is very good! And are ye still? Be not slothful
Verse 10, when ye go, ye shall come to a people SECURE; (that is, a people that apprehend no danger, and therefore have made no provision against it; great encouragement this ! ] and to a large land, and a place where there is no want of any thing. What could they desire more ? Accordingly we find, in the following verses,
that six hundred men only, appointed with weapons of war, undertook the conquest of this large land: know. ing that 600 men, armed and disciplined, would be an over-match perhaps for 60,000, unarmed, undisciplinecia and off their guard. And when they went against it, the idolatrous priest, verse 17, with his graven image and his ephod, and his seraphim, and his molten image, Cplenty of superstitious trinkets) joined with them, and, no doubt, gave them all the intelligence and assistance in his power; his heart, as the text assures us, being glad, perhaps for reasons more than one. And now, what was the fate of poor Laish! The 600 men being arrived, found as the spies had reported, a people quiet and SECURE, verse 20, 21, And they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with FIRE; and there was no DELIVERER
because it was far from Zidon.-Not so far from Zidon, how. ever as Pennsylvania is from Britain; and yet we are, if possible, more careless than the people of Laish! As the scriptures are given for our reproof, instruction and warning, may, we make a due use of this example, before it be too late!
And is our country, any more than our city, all together free from danger? Perhaps not. We have, it is true, had a long peace with the Indians: but it is a long peace indeed, as well as a long lane, that has no ending. The French know the power and importance of the Six Nations, and spare no artifice, pains or expence, to gain them to their interest. By their priests they have converted many to their religion, and these *) have openly espoused their cause.
The rest appear irresolute what part to take; no persuasions, though enforced with costly presents, having yet been able to engage them generally on our side, though we had nume. rous forces on their borders, ready to second and support them. What then may be expected, now those forces are, by orders from the crown, to be disbanded, when our boasted expedition is laid aside, through want (as it may appear to them) either of strength or courage; when they see, that the French and their Indians, boldly, and with impunity, ravage the frontiers of New York, and scalp the inhabitants; when those few Indians, that engag. ed with us against the French, are left exposed to their resentment: when they consider these things, is there no danger that, through disgust at our usage, joined with fear of the French power, and greater confidence in their promises and protection than in ours, they may be wholly gained over by our enemies, and join in the war against us? If such should be the case, which God forbid, how soon may the niischief spread to our frontier countries? And what may we expect to be the consequence, but desertion of plantations, ruin, bloodshed and confusion !
Perhaps some in the city, towns, and plantations near the river, may say to themselves, "An Indian war on the frontiers will not affect us; the enemy will never come near our habitations; let those concerned take care of themselves. And others who live in the country, when they are told of the danger the city is in from attempts by sea, may say, "What is that to us? The enemy will be satisfied with the plunder of the town, and never think it worth his while to visit our plantations: let the town take care of itself. These are not mere suppositions, for I have heard some talk in this strange manner. But are these the sentiments of true Pennsylvanians, of fellowcountrymen, or even of men, that have common sense or goodness ? 'Is not the whole province one body, united by living under the same laws, and enjoying the same privileges ? Are not the people of city and country connected as relations, both by blood and marriage, and in
The praying lædians