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count of all informations and accusations received, whoever peruses my writings after my death, may happen to think, that during a certain time the people of Pennsylvania chose into all their offices of honor and trust the veriest knaves, fools, and rascals in the whole province. The time of election used to be a busy time with me; but this year, with concern I speak it, people are grown so good-natured, so intent upon mutual feasting and friendly entertainment, that I see no prospect of much employment from that quarter.
I mentioned above, that without good method I could not go through my business. In my father's lifetime I had some instruction in accounts, which I now apply with advantage to my own affairs. I keep a regular set of books, and can tell, at an hour's warning, how it stands between me and the world. In my. Daybook I enter every article of defamation as it is transacted; for scandals received in I give credit, and when I pay them out again I make the persons to whom they respectively relate debtor. In my Journal, I add to each story, by way of improvement, such probable circumstances as I think it will bear; and in my Leger the whole is regularly posted. I
suppose the reader already condemns me in his heart for this particular of adding circumstances; but I justify this part of my practice thus. It is a principle with me, that none ought to have a greater share of reputation, than they really deserve; if they have, it is an imposition upon the public. I know it is every one's interest, and therefore believe they endeavour, to conceal all their vices and follies; and I hold that those people are extraordinary foolish or careless, who suffer one fourth of their failings to come to public knowledge. Taking then the common prudence and imprudence of mankind in a lump, I suppose none suffer above one
fifth to be discovered; therefore, when I hear of any person's misdoing, I think I keep within bounds, if in relating it I only make it three times worse than it is; and I reserve to myself the privilege of charging them with one fault in four, which for aught I know they may be entirely innocent of. You see, there are but few so careful of doing justice as myself. What reason then have mankind to complain of scandal? In a general way the worst that is said of us is only half what might be said, if all our faults were seen.
But, alas ! two great evils have lately befallen me at the same time; an extreme cold, that I can scarce speak, and a most terrible tooth-ache, that I dare hardly open my mouth. For some days past, I have received ten stories for one I have paid; and I am not able to balance my accounts without your assistance. I have long thought, that if you would make your paper a vehicle of scandal, you would double the number of your subscribers. I send you herewith accounts of four knavish tricks, two * * *, five * three drubbed wives, and four henpecked husbands, all within this fortnight; which you may, as articles of news, deliver to the public, and, if my tooth-ache continues, I shall send you more, being in the mean time your constant reader,
I thank my correspondent, Mrs. Addertongue, for her good will
, but desire to be excused inserting the articles of news she has sent me, such things being in reality no news at all.
A CASE OF CASUISTRY.
TO THE PRINTER OF THE GAZETTE.
ACCORDING to the request of your correspondent, T. P., I send you my thoughts on the following case by him proposed, viz.
A man bargains for the keeping of his horse six months, whilst he is making a voyage to Barbadoes. The horse strays or is stolen soon after the keeper has him in possession.
When the owner demands the value of his horse in money, may not the other as justly demand so much deducted as the keeping of the horse six months amounts to ?
It does not appear that they had any dispute about the value of the horse; whence we may conclude there was no reason for such dispute, but it was well known how much he cost, and that he could not honestly have been sold again for more. But the value of the horse is not expressed in the case, nor the sum agreed for keeping him six months; wherefore, in order to our more clear apprehension of the thing, let ten pounds represent the horse's value, and three pounds the sum agreed for his keeping.
Now the sole foundation, on which the keeper can found his demand of a deduction for keeping a horse he did not keep, is this. “Your horse,” he may say, “which I was to restore to you at the end of six months, was worth ten pounds; if I now give you ten pounds, it is an equivalent for your horse, and equal to returning the horse itself. Had I returned your horse (value ten pounds), you would have paid me three pounds for his keeping, and therefore would have received in fact but seven pounds clear. You then suffer VOL. II.
no injury, if I now pay you seven pounds; and consequently you ought in reason to allow me the remaining three pounds, according to our agreement.”
But the owner of the horse may possibly insist upon being paid the whole sum of ten pounds, without allowing any deduction for his keeping after he was lost, and that for these reasons.
1. It is always supposed, unless an express agreement be made to the contrary, when horses are put out to keep, that the keeper is at the risk of them; unavoidable accidents only excepted, wherein no care of the keeper can be supposed sufficient to preserve them, such as their being slain by lightening or the like. This you yourself tacitly allow, when you offer to restore me the value of my horse. Were it otherwise, people, having no security against a keeper's neglect or mismanagement, would never put horses out to keep.
2. Keepers, considering the risk they run, always demand such a price for keeping horses, that, if they were to follow the business twenty years, they may have a living profit, though they now and then pay for a horse they have lost; and, if they were to be at no risk, they might afford to keep horses for less than they usually have. So that what a man pays for his horse's keeping, more than the keeper could afford to take if he ran no risk, is in the nature of a premium for the insurance of his horse. If I then pay you for the few days you kept my horse, you should restore me his full value.
3. You acknowledge, that my horse eat of your hay and oats but a few days. It is unjust then to charge me for all the hay and oats, that he only might have eat in the remainder of the six months, and which you have now still good in your stable. If, as the proverb says, it is unreasonable to expect a horse should void oats, which never eat any, it is certainly as unreasonable to expect payment for those oats.
4. If men in such cases as this are to be paid for keeping horses when they were not kept, then they have a great opportunity of wronging the owners of horses. For by privately selling my horse for his value (ten pounds) soon after you had him in possession, and returning me, at the expiration of the time, only seven pounds, demanding three pounds as a deduction agreed for his keeping, you get that three pounds clear into your pocket, besides the use of my money six months for nothing.
5. But, you say, the value of my horse being ten pounds, if you deduct three for his keeping and return me seven, it is all I would in fact have received had you returned my horse; therefore, as I am no loser, I ought to be satisfied. This argument, were there any weight in it, might serve to justify a man in selling, as above, as many of the horses he takes to keep as he conveniently can, putting clear into his own pocket that charge their owners must have been at for their keeping; for, this being no loss to the owners, he may say, “Where no man is a loser, why should not I be a gainer?” I need only answer to this, that I allow the horse cost me but ten pounds, nor could I have sold him for more, had I been disposed to part with him; but this can be no reason why you should buy him of me at that price, whether I will sell him or not. For it is plain I valued him at thirteen pounds, otherwise I should not have paid ten pounds for him, and agreed to give you three pounds more for his keeping, till I had occasion to use him. Thus, though you pay me the whole ten pounds which he cost me, (deducting only for his keeping those few days,) I am still a loser;