« PreviousContinue »
night in which we burn candles, the account will ftand thus
In the fix months between the twentieth of March and the twentieth of September, there
Hours of each night in which we burn candles
Multiplication gives for the total
number of hours Thefe 1,281 hours multiplied by 100,000, the number of inhabitants, give One hundred twenty-eight milli. ons and one hundred thoufand hours, fpent at Paris by candlelight, which, at half a pound of wax and tallow per hour, gives the weight of Sixty-four millions and fifty thou fand of pounds, which, eflimating the whole at the medium price of thirty fols the pound, makes the fum of ninety-fix millions and feventy-five thoufand livres tournois
96,075,000 An immenfe fum! that the city of Paris might fave every year, by the economy of ufing fun. thine inftead of candles.
If it fhould be faid, that people are apt to be obftinately attached to old cuftoms, and that it will be difficult to induce them to rife before noon, confequently my difcovery can be of little ufe; I anfwer, Nil defperandum. I believe all who have common fenfe, as foon as they have learnt from this paper that it is day-light when the fun rifes, will contrive to rife with him; and,
to compel the reft, I would propofe the following regulations.
Firft. Let a tax be laid of a louis per window, on every window that is provided with fhutters to keep out the light of the fun.
Second. Let the fame falutary operation of police be made ufe of to prevent our burning candles, that inclined us laft winter to be more œconomical in burning wood; that is, let guards be placed in the fhops of the wax and tallow-chandlers, and no family be permitted to be fupplied with more than one pound of candles per week.
Third. Let guards alfo be posted to stop all the coaches, &c. that would pass the streets after funfet, except thofe of phyficians, furgeons, and midwives.
Fourth. Every morning, as foon as the fun ri fes, let all the bells in every church be fet ringing and if that is not fufficient, let cannon be fired in every ftreet, to wake the fluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true intereft.
All the difficulty will be in the first two or three days; after which the reformation will be as natural and easy as the prefent irregularity: for, ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute. Oblige a man to rife at four in the morning, and it is more than probable he shall go willingly to bed at eight in the evening; and, having had eight hours fleep, he will rife more willingly at four the morning following. But this fum of ninety-fix millions and feventy-five thoufand livres is not the whole of what may be faved by my economical project. You may obferve, that I have calculated upon only one half of the year, and much may be faved in the other, though the days are shorter. Befides, the immenfe ftock of wax and tallow left unconfumed during the fummer, will proba
bly make candles much cheaper for the enfuing winter, and continue cheaper as long as the propofed reformation fhall be fupported.
For the great benefit of this discovery, thus freely communicated and beftowed by me on the public, I demand neither place, penfion, exclufive privilege, or any other reward whatever. I expect only to have the honour of it. And yet I know there are little envious minds who will, as ufual, deny me this, and say that my invention was known to the ancients, and perhaps they may bring paffages out of the old books in proof of it. I will not difpute with these people that the ancients knew not the fun would rife at certain hours; they poffibly had, as we have, almanacks that predicted it: but it does not follow from thence that they knew he gave light as foon as he rofe. This is what I claim as my difcovery. If the ancient knew it, it must have been long fince forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the moderns, at leaft to the Parifians; which to prove, I need ufe but one plain fimple argument. They are as well inftructed, judicious, and prudent a people as exift any where in the world, all profeffing, like myself, to be lovers of œconomy; and, from the many heavy taxes required from them by the neceffities of the state, have furely reafon to be economical. I fay it is impoffible that fo fenfible a people, under fuch circumftances, fhould have lived so long by the fmoky, unwholfome, and enormously expensive light of candles, if they had really known that they might have had as much pure light of the fun for nothing.
I am, &c.
ON MODERN INNOVATIONS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND IN PRINTING.
TO NOAH WEBSTER, JUN. ESQ. AT HARTFORD.
Philadelphia, Dec. 26, 1789.
I RECEIVED, fome time fince, your Dissertations on the English Language. 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 it, as well as for the great honour you have done me in its dedication. I ought to have made this acknowledgement fooner, but much indifpofition prevented
I cannot but applaud your zeal for preserving the purity of our language both in its expreffion and pronunciation, and in correcting the popular errors feveral of our ftates are continually falling into with respect to both. Give me leave to mention fome of them, though poffibly they may already have occurred to you. I wish, however, that in fome future publication of yours, you would fet 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 fenfe of ameliorated, or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mather's, entitled Remarkable Providences. As that man wrote a very obfcure hand, I remember that when I read that word in his book, used instead of the word employed, I conjectured that it was an error of
of the printer, who had mistaken a fhort / in the writing for an r, and a y with too fhort a tail for a v, whereby employed was converted into improved: but when I returned to Bofton in 1733, I found this change had obtained favour, and was then become common; for 1 met with it often in perufing the newspapers, where it frequently made an appearance rather ridiculous. Such, for inftance, as the advertisement of a country houfe to be fold, 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 juftice of the peace. This ufe of the word improve is peculiar to NewEngland, and not to be met with among any other fpeakers of Englifh, either on this or the other fide of the water.
During my late abfence in France, I find that feveral other new words have been introduced into our parliamentary language. For example, I find a verb formed from the fubftantive notice. Ifhould not have noticed this, were it not that the gentleman, &c. Alfo another verb, from the fubftantive advocate; The gentleman who advocates, or who has advocated that motion, &c. Another from the fubftantive progress, the most aukward and abominable of the three: The committee having progreffed, refolved to adjourn. The word oppofed, 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 alfo myself always been oppofed. If you fhould happen to be of my opinion with refpect to thefe innovations, you will ufe your authority in reprobating them.
The Latin language, long the vehicle used in diftributing knowledge among the different nations of Europe, is daily more and more neglected; and one of the modern tongues, viz. French, feems,