Page images
PDF
EPUB

himself, to intruft his cargo' (as Alumnus moft elegantly ex preffes himself) in a safe bottom, considering what multitudes have foundered in their voyage ;-have been ingulphed in the dreadful charybdis of self-righteousness, or totally thipwrecked against the rocks of ignorance, pride, and unbelief.' See, Oh! fee, the end of the ravings and contradictions of the fanatic followers of Arius and Socinus !'

We shall conclude our account of this tract with a wellknown story, and we wish that all “ the babes and sucklings (the Alumni) of the true, old fanatic nurse would make proper use and improvement of it, before they ransack dictionaries, and rack their poor brains, in order to turn language out of its original channel, and apply to others, what the venerable fanction of time, and all the authorities of wit and wisdom, reason and revelation, have appropriated to them as their exclusive right and property. The story is a short one ; and it is fimply this.--A gentleman walking through the wards of Bethlem Hospital, was accosted by a poor Mania, who complained of his hard and unmerited fortune, and bewailed the case of his fellow-fufferers, and then observed, that “ the people wit the walls of Bedlam, and not those within, were, in reality, mad; and availing themselves of their superiority in point of number, had confined the few that were in their senses, only for having more understanding than themselves."

Now this, Alumnus, was as shrewd an attempt as thine, at turning the world upside down ;-or, as thou thyself callest it, turning the tables. Each was conceived with equal wisdom; and we trust that each will be attended with equal success.

Mutato nomine, de te
Fabula narratur.

ART. IV. Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophical Pieces, &c.

Written by Benjamin Franklin, LL. D. and F. R. S. Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, &c. &c. Now forf collealed, with Explanatory Plates, Notes, and an Index to the whole. 8vo. 6s. in Boards; or in 4to to match the Author's Philosophical Papers, 10 s. 6 d. in Boards. Johnson. 1779. HOUGH these cannot properly be called the posthumous

fituation, and that he has entered on his 75th year,-we cannot help confidering, and lamenting over them, as the relics of the great philosopher, politician, and prophet, as the event has turned out, whose name is prefixed to them: and who, notwithstanding the present hoftile character that he bears to this country, appears, from many papers contained in this colle&ion, to have taken fiacere pains, before the American dispute arrived

at its present formidable magnitude, to preserve the unity of the British empire :-or, to use his own apposite allusion, who • long endeavoured with unfeigned and unwearied zeal, to preserve from breaking that fine and noble china vafe--the British cmpire:'-well knowing, that being once broken, the separate parts could not retain even their share of the strength and value that existed in the whole ; and that a perfect re-union of those parts could scarce ever be hoped for.'-Dead to us, however, as we have just now represented him, we shall still indulge the expectation, that his great talents may yet be employed in arranging and cementing the parts of this shattered vase; and of giving to the whole all the folidity of which it is now capable.

The anonymous Editor, who has taken pains thus to collect, and preserve their own intrinsic meric will perpetuate-the scattered productions of the American patriot and philosopher, appears to be a zealous friend of Dr. Franklin; but at the fame time, a friend who will not disgrace him. Tam Marti quam Mercurio, he appears well qualified to attend bim both in his political and his philosophical capacity. In the former, by annotations subjoined to each piece, he gives the reader all the information which he has been able to procure, with respect to the occasion on which it was written, and other circumstances relating to it. In the latter, the philosophical Editor appears likewise a fit companion for his Author; and in the last piece particularly, on the Aurora Borealis, adds many pertinent observations or conjectures, in the form of notes. The opinions and feelings of the Editor, with respect to his Author, may be beft collected from his own warm expreffions in the preface to this volume.

• The times appear not ripe enough for the Editor to give expression to the affe&ion, gratitude, and veneration, he bears to a writer he has so intimately ftudied : nor is it wanting to the Author; as history lies in wait for him, and the judgment of mankind balances already in his favour. The Editor wildes only that other readers may reap that improvement from his productions, which he conceives they have rendered to himself. -Yet perhaps he may be excused for stating one opinion: he conceives that no man ever made Jarger or bolder guesses than Dr. Franklin from like materials in politics and philosophy, which, after the scrutiny of events and of fact, have been more completely verified. Can Englishmen read these things, and not figh at recollecting that the country which could produce their Author, was once without controversy their own! Yet he who praises Dr. Franklin for mere ability, praises him for that quality of his mind, which stands lowest in his own efteem. Reader,

• In a letter to Lord Howe, published in this collection.

whoever

[ocr errors]

whoever you are, and how much soever you think you hate him, know that this great man loves you enough to wish to do you good :

· His country's friend, but more of human kind,' The papers contained in this collection are disposed under five divisions. Under the first of these, the Editor has collected and arranged such pieces of the Author, as naturally fall under the head of General Politics. In the second, are contained papers upon American subjects, written before the present troubles : particularly, plans of union for the colonies, proposed in 1754; letters concerning taxation and representation; papers relative to Canada; regulations of Indian affairs, and other matters previous to the last peace. The third division contains various papers relative to America, written during the troubles ; comprehending, among other matters, a prophetic letter of the Author, as we may now justly term it, on the causes of the American discontents before 1768,' and their probable effects ; -his equally prophetic answers to the questions proposed to bim, during his examination before the British House of Commons, re lative to the repeal of the Stamp AG, in 1766:-his answers to certain pertinent queries relative to the American discontents, and the means of removing them, proposed to bim by his friend, Mr. Strahan, in 1769 his examination, and part of the proceedings before the Privy Council, relative to the dismiffion of Governor Hutchinson his memorable answer to a letter of Lord Howe's, notifying his commiffion for composing the American troubles : rules for reducing a great empire to a fmall one; together with fome other letters and papers. In the fourth division are contained various papers relative to provincial politics only; particularly those of the province of Pensylvania : and in the fifth and last, the Editor has collected all the miscel, laneous and philosophical pieces of Dr. Franklin that have come into his hands, and which are not elsewhere extant in print, · From a work of so miscellaneous a nature, and which con, tains several papers that have been before separately published, we find it difficult to make a proper selection. Some specimens however will be expected from us; nor can any, from such a pen, be unacceptable to our readers. Under the first divifion, we meet with the following excellent parable against perfecution; the per ufal of which we are sorry to have occasion, at this time of day, to recommend to the members of the present Pratefiant Asociation. The Author of this parable, as the Editor has been informed, has often impofed it upon his friends and acquaintance, as a part of a chapter of Genefis.

A Parable against Perfecution.' '1. And it came to pass after thele things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent, about the going down of the sun.

2. " And

2. And behold a man bowed with age, coming from the way of the wilderness leaning on a staff.

3. And Abraham arose, and met him, and faid unto him, Turn in, I pray thee, and wash thy feet, and tarry all night; and thou shalt arise early in the morning, and go on thy way.

4. And the man said, Nay; for I will abide under this tree.

* 5. But Abraham pressed him greatly : fo he turned and they went into the tent: and Abraham baked unleavened bread, and they did eat.

6. And when Abraham saw that the man blessed not God, he faid unto him, Wherefore doft thou not worship the most high God, Creator of heaven and earth?

7. And the man answered and said, I do not worfhip thy God, neither do I call upon his name ; for I have made to myself a god, which abidech always in my house, and provideth me with all things.

68. And Abraham's zeal was kindled against the man, and he arose, and fell upon him, and drave him forth with blows into the wilderness.

“ g. And at midnight God called unto Abraham, faying, Abraham, where is the stranger?

10. And Abraham answered and said, Lörd, he would not worship thee, neither would he call upon thy name; therefore have I driven him out from before my face into the wilderness.

11. And God said, have I borne with him these hundred ninety and eight years, and nourished him, and clothed him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me; and could ft not thou, who art thyself a sinner, bear with him one night?

• 12. And Abraham said, let not the anger of my Lord wax hot against his servant: lo, I have finned, forgive me I pray thee

613. And Abraham arose, and went forth into the wilderness, and sought diligently for the man, and found him; and returned with him to the tent; and when he had entreated him kindly, he sent him away on the morrow with gifts.

• 14. And God spake again' unto Abraham, saying, for this thy fin ball thy seed be afflicted four hundred years in a strange land:

15. But for thy repentance will I deliver them, and they fhall come forth with power, and with gladness' of heart, and with much substance."

As another specimen of this divifion of the work, we fall select some parts of a popular and useful production of the Au. thor ; which, we are told, his countrymen read with much avidity and profit; intitled, The Way to Wealth, as clearly thewn" in the preface of an old Pensylvanian Almanack, intitled, Poor

Richard

1

Richard improved!' Dr. Franklin, who is said for many years to have publiked Poor Richard's Almanack, in Pensylvania, fure : nished it with various sentences and proverbs, principally relating to the topics of industry, attention to one's own business, and frugality. The whole, or chief of these sentences and proverbs, says the Editor, he at last collected and digested in the abovementioned general preface. -As he is at present our enemy, we naturally wish, as British patriots, to turn his arms against himself, by applying them to our own defence. And as the present situation of our country will render more taxes, as well as more economy, necessary; and certain murmurings on that account are, at this time, growing louder than usual; we Thall first select what our late countryman says on the article of industry. The preface begins thus :

Courteous Reader,

• I have heard, that nothing gives an author fo great pleasure, as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I stopped my horse lately, where a great number of people were collected at an auction of mere chants goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the com- . pany called to a plain, clean Old Man, with white locks,“ Pray, Father Abrabam, what think you of the times? Will not these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be able

them? What would you advise us to?"-Father Abraham stood up, and replied, If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; " for a word to the wise is enough, as Poor Richard says.' They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and gathering round him, he proceeded as follows

Friends, says he, the taxes are, indeed, very heavy, and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them ; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot case or deliver us, by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us ; “God helps them that help themselves," as Poor Richard says.

• It would be thought a hard government that Mould tax its people one-tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service : but idleness taxes many of us much more ; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. « Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears, while the used key is always bright," as Poor Richard says. “But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the Auff life is made of,”.

to pay

as

« PreviousContinue »