TO CADWALLADER COLDEN, AT NEW YORK
Philadelphia, ——, 1751.
I enclose you answers, such as my present hurry of business will permit me to make, to the principal queries contained in yours of the 28th instant, and beg leave to refer you to the latter piece in the printed collection of my papers, for further explanation of the difference between what are called electrics per se and non-electrics. When you have time to read and consider these papers, I will endeavour to make any new experiments you shall propose, that you think may afford farther light or satisfaction to either of us; and shall be much obliged to you for such remarks, objections, &c., as may occur to you.
I forget whether I wrote to you that I have melted brass pins and steel needles, inverted the poles of the magnetic needle, given a magnetism and polarity to needles that had none, and fired dry gunpowder by the electric spark. I have five bottles that contain eight or nine gallons each, two of which charged are sufficient for those purposes; but I can charge and discharge them altogether. There are no bounds (but what expense and labor give) to the force man may raise and use in the electrical way; for bottle may be added to bottle ad infinitum, and all united and discharged together as one, the force and effect proportioned to their number and size. The greatest known effects of common lightning may, I think, without much difficulty, be exceeded in this way, which a few years since could not have been believed, and even now may seem to many a little extravagant to suppose. So we are got beyond the skill of Rabelais’s devils of two years old, who, he humorously says, had only learned to thunder and lighten a little round the head of a cabbage.
I am, with sincere respect,
Your most obliged humble servant,
Queries and Answers Referred to in the Foregoing Letter
Wherein consists the difference between an electric and a non-electric body?
The terms electric per se and non-electric were first used to distinguish bodies, on a mistaken supposition that those called electrics per se alone contained electric matter in their substance which was capable of being excited by friction, and of being produced or drawn from them, and communicated to those called non-electrics, supposed to be destitute of it; for the glass, &c., being rubbed, discovered signs of having it, by snapping to the finger, attracting, repelling, &c., and could communicate those signs to metals and water. Afterwards it was found that rubbing of glass would not produce the electric matter, unless a communication was preserved between the rubber and the floor; and subsequent experiments proved that the electric matter was really drawn from those bodies that at first were thought to have none in them. Then it was doubted whether glass, and other bodies called electrics per se, had really any electric matter in them, since they apparently afforded none but what they first extracted from those which had been called non-electrics. But some of my experiments show that glass contains it in great quantity, and I now suspect it to be pretty equally diffused in all the matter of this terraqueous globe. If so, the terms electric per se and non-electric should be laid aside as improper; and (the only difference being this, that some bodies will conduct electric matter, and others will not) the terms conductor and non-conductor may supply their place. If any portion of electric matter is applied to a piece of conducting matter, it penetrates and flows through it, or spreads equally on its surafce; if applied to a piece of non-conducting matter, it will do neither. Perfect conductors of electric matter are only metals and water; other bodies conducting only as they contain a mixture of those, without more or less of which they will not conduct at all. This (by the way) shows a new relation between metals and water heretofore unknown.
To illustrate this by a comparison, which, however, can only give a faint resemblance. Electric matter passes through conductors as water passes through a porous stone, or spreads on their surfaces as water spreads on a wet stone; but when applied to non-conductors, it is like water dropped on a greasy stone, it neither penetrates, passes through, nor spreads on the surface, but remains in drops where it falls. See farther on this head, in my last printed piece, entitled Opinions and Conjectures, &c. 1749.
What are the effects of air in electrical experiments?
All I have hitherto observed are these. Moist air receives and conducts the electrical matter in proportion to its moisture, quite dry air not at all; air is therefore to be classed with the non-conductors. Dry air assists in confining the electrical atmosphere to the body it surrounds, and prevents its dissipating; for in vacuo it quits easily, and points operate stronger—that is, they throw off or attract the electrical matter more freely and at greater distances; so that air intervening obstructs its passage from body to body in some degree. A clean electrical phial and wire, containing air instead of water, will not be charged, nor give a shock, any more than if it was filled with powder of glass; but exhausted of air, it operates as well as if filled with water. Yet an electric atmosphere and air do not seem to exclude each other, for we breathe freely in such an atmosphere, and dry air will blow through it without displacing or driving it away. I question whether the strongest dry north-wester would dissipate it. I once electrified a large cork ball at the end of a silk thread three feet long, the other end of which I held in my fingers, and whirled it round, like a sling, one hundred times in the air, with the swiftest motion I could possibly give it; yet it retained its electric atmosphere, though it must have passed through eight hundred yards of air, allowing my arm in giving the motion to add a foot to the semidiameter of the circle. By quite dry air, I mean the dryest we have; for perhaps we never have any perfectly free from moisture. An electrical atmosphere raised round a thick wire, inserted in a phial of air, drives out none of the air, nor on withdrawing that atmosphere will any air rush in, as I have found by a curious experiment accurately made, whence we concluded that the air’s elasticity was not affected thereby.
An Experiment towards Discovering More of the Qualities of the Electric Fluid
From the prime conductor, hang a bullet by a wire hook; under the bullet, at half an inch distance, place a bright piece of silver to receive the sparks; then let the wheel be turned, and in a few minutes (if the repeated sparks continually strike in the same spot) the silver will receive a blue stain, nearly the color of a watch-spring.
A bright piece of iron will also be spotted, but not with that color; it rather seems corroded.
On gold, brass, or tin I have not perceived it makes any impression. But the spots on the silver or iron will be the same, whether the bullet be lead, brass, gold, or silver.
On a silver bullet there will also appear a small spot, as well as on the plate below it.
IMPORTANCE OF GAINING AND PRESERVING THE FRIENDSHIP OF THE INDIANS
[The author of the foregoing essay, having desired the printer to communicate the manuscript to some of the most judicious of his friends, it produced the following letter from one of them, the publishing whereof, we think, needs no other apology, viz.:]
Philadelphia, March 20, 1751.
Dear Mr. Parker:
I have, as you desire, read the manuscript you sent me, and am of opinion, with the publick-spirited author, that securing the friendship of the Indians is of the greatest consequence to these colonies; and that the surest means of doing it are, to regulate the Indian trade, so as to convince them, by experience, that they may have the best and cheapest goods and the fairest dealings from the English; and to unite the several governments, so as to form a strength that the Indians may depend on for protection in case of a rupture with the French; or apprehend great danger from, if they should break with, us.
This union of the colonies, however necessary, I apprehend is not to be brought about by the means that have hitherto been used for that purpose. A governor of one colony, who happens from some circumstances in his own government to see the necessity of such an union, writes his sentiments of the matter to the other governors, and desires them to recommend it to their respective assemblies. They accordingly lay the letters before those assemblies and perhaps recommend the proposal in general words. But governors are often on ill terms with their assemblies, and seldom are the men that have the most influence among them. And perhaps some governors, though they openly recommend the scheme, may privately throw cold water on it, as thinking additional publick charges will make their people less able or less willing to give to them. Or perhaps they do not clearly see the necessity of it, and therefore do not very earnestly press the consideration of it; and no one being present that has the affair at heart to back it, to answer and remove objections, &c., it is easily dropp’d, and nothing is done. Such an union is certainly necessary to us all, but more immediately so to our government. Now if you were to pick out half a dozen men of good understanding and address, and furnish them with a reasonable scheme and proper instructions, and send them in the nature of ambassadors to the other colonies, where they might apply particularly to all the leading men, and by proper management get them to engage in promoting the scheme; where, by being present, they would have the opportunity of pressing the affair both in publick and private, obviating difficulties as they arise, answering objections as soon as they are made, before they spread and gather strength in the minds of the people, &c., &c., I imagine such an union might thereby be made and established; for reasonable, sensible men, can always make a reasonable scheme appear such to other reasonable men, if they take pains, and have time and opportunity for it; unless from some circumstances their honesty and good intentions are suspected. A voluntary union entered into by the colonies themselves, I think, would be preferable to one imposed by parliament; for it would be perhaps not much more difficult to procure, and more easy to alter and improve, as circumstances should require and experience direct. It would be a very strange thing, if Six Nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming a scheme for such an union, and be able to execute it in such a manner, as that it has subsisted ages, and appears indissoluble; and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous, and who cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interests.
Were there a general council form’d by all the colonies, and a general governor appointed by the crown to preside in that council, or in some manner to concur with and confirm their acts, and take care of the execution, every thing relating to Indian affairs and the defence of the colonies might be properly put under their management. Each colony should be represented by as many members as it pays sums of hundred pounds in the common treasury for the common expence; which treasury would perhaps be best and most equitably supply’d by an equal excise on strong liquors in all the colonies, the produce never to be apply’d to the private use of any colony, but to the general service. Perhaps if the council were to meet successively at the capitals of the several colonies, they might thereby become better acquainted with the circumstances, interests, strength, or weakness, &c., of all, and thence be able to judge better of measures proposed from time to time: at least it might be more satisfactory to the colonies if this were proposed as a part of the scheme, for a preference might create jealousy and dislike.
I believe the place mentioned is a very suitable one to build a fort on. In times of peace, parties of the garrisons of all frontier forts might be allowed to go out on hunting expeditions, with or without Indians, and have the profit to themselves of the skins they got; by this means a number of wood-runners would be formed, well acquainted with the country, and of great use in the war time as guides of parties and scouts, &c. Every Indian is a hunter; and as their manner of making war, viz., by skulking, surprising, and killing particular persons and families, is just the same as their hunting, only changing the object, every Indian is a disciplined soldier. Soldiers of this kind are always wanted in the colonies in an Indian war, for the European military discipline is of little use in these woods.
Publick trading houses would certainly have a good effect towards regulating the private trade, and preventing the impositions of the private traders, and therefore such should be established in suitable places all along the frontiers; and the superintendent of the trade, proposed by the author, would, I think, be a useful officer.
The observation concerning the importation of Germans in too great numbers into Pennsylvania is, I believe, a very just one. This will in a few years become a German colony; instead of their learning our language, we must learn theirs, or live as in a foreign country. Already the English begin to quit particular neighborhoods surrounded by Dutch, being made uneasy by the disagreeableness of disonant manners; and, in time, numbers will probably quit the province for the same reason. Besides, the Dutch under-live, and are thereby enabled to under-work and under-sell the English, who are thereby extremely incommoded, and consequently disgusted, so that there can be no cordial affection or unity between the two nations. How good subjects they may make, and how faithful to the British interest, is a question worth considering. And, in my opinion, equal numbers might have been spared from the British islands without being missed there, and on proper encouragement would have come over. I say without being missed, perhaps I might say without lessening the number of people at home. I question, indeed, whether there be a man the less in Britain for the establishment of the colonies. An island can support but a certain number of people; when all employments are full, multitudes refrain from marriage, till they can see how to maintain a family. The number of Englishmen in England cannot by their present common increase be doubled in a thousand years; but if half of them were taken away and planted in America, where there is room for them to increase, and sufficient employment and subsistence, the number of Englishmen would be doubled in a hundred years; for those left at home would multiply in that time so as to fill up the vacancy, and those here would at least keep pace with them.
Every one must approve the proposal of encouraging a number of sober discreet smiths to reside among the Indians. They would doubtless be of great service. The whole subsistence of Indians depends on keeping their guns in order, and if they are obliged to make a journey of two or three hundred miles to an English settlement to get a lock mended, it may, besides the trouble, occasion the loss of their hunting season. They are people that think much of their temporal, but little of their spiritual, interests; and therefore, as he would be a most useful and necessary man to them, a smith is more likely to influence them than a Jesuit; provided he has a good common understanding, and is from time to time well instructed.
I wish I could offer any thing for the improvement of the author’s piece, but I have little knowledge and less experience in these matters. I think it ought to be printed; and should be glad to see there were a more general communication of the sentiments of judicious men, on subjects so generally interesting; it would certainly produce good effects. Please to present my respects to the gentleman, and thank him for the perusal of the manuscript.
I am, yours affectionately.
OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE INCREASE OF MANKIND AND THE PEOPLING OF COUNTRIES
1. Tables of the proportion of marriages to births, of deaths to births, of marriages to the number of inhabitants, &c., formed on observations made upon the bills of mortality, christenings, &c. of populous cities, will not suit countries; nor will tables formed on observations made on full-settled old countries as Europe, suit new countries as America.
2. For people increase in proportion to the number of marriages, and that is greater in proportion to the ease and convenience of supporting a family. When families can be easily supported, more persons marry, and earlier in life.
3. In cities, where all trades, occupations, and offices are full, many delay marrying till they can see how to bear the charges of a family; which charges are greater in cities, as luxury is more common; many live single during life and continue servants to families, journeymen to trades; hence cities do not, by natural generation, supply themselves with inhabitants; the deaths are more than the births.
4. In countries full settled the case must be nearly the same; all lands being occupied and improved to the height, those who cannot get land must labor for others that have it; when laborers are plenty their wages will be low; by low wages a family is supported with difficulty; this difficulty deters many from marriage, who therefore long continue servants and single. Only as the cities take supplies of people from the country, and thereby make a little more room in the country, marriage is a little more encouraged there, and the births exceed the deaths.
5. Europe is generally full settled with husbandmen, manufacturers, &c., and therefore cannot now much increase in people. America is chiefly occupied by Indians, who subsist mostly by hunting. The hunter, of all men, requires the greatest quantity of land from whence to draw his subsistence (the husbandman subsisting on much less, the gardener on still less, and the manufacturer requiring least of all). The Europeans found America as fully settled as it well could be by hunters; yet these, having large tracts, were easily prevailed on to part with portions of territory to the new comers, who did not much interfere with the natives in hunting, and furnished them with many things they wanted.
6. Land being thus plenty in America, and so cheap as that a laboring man that understands husbandry can in a short time save money enough to purchase a piece of new land sufficient for a plantation, whereon he may subsist a family, such are not afraid to marry; for, if they even look far enough forward to consider how their children, when grown up, are to be provided for, they see that more land is to be had at rates equally easy, all circumstances considered.
7. Hence, marriages in America are more general, and more generally early than in Europe. And if it is reckoned there that there is but one marriage per annum among one hundred persons, perhaps we may here reckon two; and if in Europe they have but four births to a marriage (many of their marriages being late), we may here reckon eight, of which, if one half grow up, and our marriages are made, reckoning one with another, at twenty years of age, our people must at least be doubled every twenty years.
8. But, notwithstanding this increase, so vast is the territory of North America, that it will require many ages to settle it fully, and, till it is fully settled, labor will never be cheap here, where no man continues long a laborer for others, but gets a plantation of his own; no man continues long a journeyman to a trade, but goes among those new settlers and sets up for himself, &c. Hence labor is no cheaper now in Pennsylvania than it was thirty years ago, though so many thousand laboring people have been imported.
9. The danger, therefore, of these colonies interfering with their mother country in trades that depend on labor, manufactures, &c., is too remote to require the attention of Great Britain.
10. But in proportion to the increase of the colonies, a vast demand is growing for British manufactures, a glorious market wholly in the power of Britain, in which foreigners cannot interfere, which will increase in a short time even beyond her power of supplying, though her whole trade should be to her colonies; therefore, Britain should not too much restrain manufactures in her colonies. A wise and good mother will not do it. To distress is to weaken, and weakening the children weakens the whole family.
11. Besides, if the manufactures of Britain (by reason of the American demands) should rise too high in price, foreigners who can sell cheaper will drive her merchants out of foreign markets; foreign manufactures will thereby be encouraged and increased, and consequently foreign nations, perhaps her rivals in power, grow more populous and more powerful; while her own colonies, kept too low, are unable to assist her, or add to her strength.
12. It is an ill-grounded opinion that, by the labor of slaves, America may possibly vie in cheapness of manufactures with Britain. The labor of slaves can never be so cheap here as the labor of workingmen is in Britain. Any one may compute it. Interest of money is in the colonies from six to ten per cent. Slaves, one with another, cost thirty pounds sterling per head. Reckon then the interest of the first purchase of a slave, the insurance or risk on his life, his clothing and diet, expenses in his sickness and loss of time, loss by his neglect of business (neglect is natural to the man who is not to be benefited by his own care or diligence), expense of a driver to keep him at work, and his pilfering from time to time, almost every slave being by nature a thief, and compare the whole amount with the wages of a manufacturer of iron or wool in England, you will see that labor is much cheaper there than it ever can be by negroes here. Why, then, will Americans purchase slaves? Because slaves may be kept as long as a man pleases, or has occasion for their labor; while hired men are continually leaving their masters (often in the midst of his business) and setting up for themselves (sec. 8).
13. As the increase of people depends on the encouragement of marriages, the following things must diminish a nation, viz.: 1. The being conquered; for the conquerors will engross as many offices and exact as much tribute or profit on the labor of the conquered as will maintain them in their new establishment; and this, diminishing the subsistence of the natives, discourages their marriages, and so gradually diminishes them, while the foreigners increase. 2. Loss of territory. Thus, the Britons being driven into Wales, and crowded together in a barren country, insufficient to support such great numbers, diminished till the people bore a proportion to the produce, while the Saxons increased on their abandoned lands till the island became full of English. And were the English now driven into Wales by some foreign nation, there would in a few years be no more Englishmen in Britain than there are now people in Wales. 3. Loss of trade. Manufactures exported, draw subsistence from foreign countries for numbers, who are thereby enabled to marry and raise families. If the nation be deprived of any branch of trade, and no new employment is found for the people occupied in that branch, it will also be soon deprived of so many people. 4. Loss of food. Suppose a nation has a fishery, which not only employs great numbers, but makes the food and subsistence of the people cheaper. If another nation becomes master of the seas, and prevents the fishery, the people will diminish in proportion as the loss of employ and dearness of provision make it more difficult to subsist a family. 5. Bad government and insecurity of property. People not only leave such a country, and, settling abroad, incorporate with other nations, lose their native language, and become foreigners, but the industry of those that remain being discouraged, the quantity of subsistence in the country is lessened, and the support of a family becomes more difficult. So heavy taxes tend to diminish a people. 6. The introduction of slaves. The negroes brought into the English sugar islands have greatly diminished the whites there; the poor are by this means deprived of employment, while a few families acquire vast estates, which they spend on foreign luxuries, and in educating their children in the habit of those luxuries. The same income is needed for the support of one that might have maintained one hundred. The whites who have slaves, not laboring are enfeebled, and therefore not so generally prolific; the slaves being worked too hard and ill fed, their constitutions are broken, and the deaths among them are more than the births; so that a continual supply is needed from Africa. The northern colonies, having few slaves, increase in whites. Slaves also pejorate the families that use them; the white children become proud, disgusted with labor, and being educated in idleness, are rendered unfit to get a living by industry.
14. Hence, the prince that acquires new territory, if he finds it vacant, or removes the natives to give his own people room; the legislator that makes effectual laws for promoting of trade, increasing employment, improving of land by more or better tillage, providing more food by fisheries, securing property, &c.; and the man that invents new trades, arts, or manufactures, or new improvements in husbandry, may be properly called fathers of their nation, as they are the cause of the generation of multitudes by the encouragement they afford to marriage.
15. As to privileges granted to the married (such as the jus trium liberorum among the Romans), they may hasten the filling of a country that has been thinned by war or pestilence, or that has otherwise vacant territory, but cannot increase a people beyond the means provided for their subsistence.
16. Foreign luxuries and needless manufactures, imported and used in a nation, do, by the same reasoning, increase the people of the nation that furnishes them, and diminish the people of the nation that uses them. Laws, therefore, that prevent such importations, and on the contrary promote the exportation of manufactures to be consumed in foreign countries, may be called (with respect to the people that make them) generative laws, as, by increasing subsistence, they encourage marriage. Such laws likewise strengthen a country doubly, by increasing its own people and diminishing its neighbours.
17. Some European nations prudently refuse to consume the manufactures of East India; they should likewise forbid them to their colonies; for the gain to the merchant is not to be compared with the loss, by this means, of people to the nation.
18. Home luxury in the great increases the nation’s manufacturers employed by it, who are many, and only tends to diminish the families that indulge in it, who are few. The greater the common fashionable expense of any rank of people, the more cautious they are of marriage. Therefore luxury should never be suffered to become common.
19. The great increase of offspring in particular families is not always owing to greater fecundity of nature, but sometimes to examples of industry in the heads, and industrious education; by which the children are enabled to provide better for themselves, and their marrying early is encouraged from the prospect of good subsistence.
20. If there be a sect therefore in our nation that regard frugality and industry as religious duties, and educate their children therein, more than others commonly do, such sect must consequently increase more by natural generation than any other sect in Britain.
21. The importation of foreigners into a country that has as many inhabitants as the present employments and provisions for subsistence will bear, will be in the end no increase of people, unless the new comers have more industry and frugality than the natives, and then they will provide more subsistence, and increase in the country; but they will gradually eat the natives out. Nor is it necessary to bring in foreigners to fill up any occasional vacancy in a country, for such vacancy (if the laws are good, sec. 14, 16) will soon be filled by natural generation. Who can now find the vacancy made in Sweden, France, or other warlike nations, by a plague of heroism forty years ago; in France, by the expulsion of the Protestants; in England, by the settlement of her colonies; or in Guinea, by one hundred years’ exportation of slaves, that has blackened half America? The thinness of inhabitants in Spain is owing to national pride and idleness, and other causes, rather than to the expulsion of the Moors, or to the making of new settlements.
22. There is, in short, no bound to the prolific nature of plants or animals, but what is made by their crowding and interfering with each other’s means of subsistence. Were the face of the earth vacant of other plants, it might be gradually sowed and overspread with one kind only, as, for instance, with fennel; and were it empty of other inhabitants, it might in a few ages be replenished from one nation only, as, for instance, with Englishmen. Thus, there are supposed to be now upwards of one million English souls in North America (though it is thought scarce eighty thousand has been brought over sea), and yet perhaps there is not one the fewer in Britain, but rather many more, on account of the employment the colonies afford to manufacturers at home. This million doubling, suppose but once in twenty-five years, will in another century be more than the people of England, and the greatest number of Englishmen will be on this side the water. What an accession of power to the British empire by sea as well as land! What increase of trade and navigation! What numbers of ships and seamen! We have been here but little more than one hundred years, and yet the force of our privateers in the late war, united, was greater, both in men and guns, than that of the whole British navy in Queen Elizabeth’s time. How important an affair then to Britain is the present treaty for settling the bounds between her colonies and the French, and how careful should she be to secure room enough, since on the room depends so much the increase of her people.
23. In fine, a nation well regulated is like a polypus. Take away a limb, its place is soon supplied; cut it in two, and each deficient part shall speedily grow out of the part remaining. Thus, if you have room and substance enough, as you may by dividing make ten polypuses out of one, you may of one make ten nations, equally populous and powerful, or rather increase a nation ten fold in numbers and strength.
And since detachments of English from Britain, sent to America, will have their places at home so soon supplied and increase so largely here, why should the Palatine boors be suffered to swarm into our settlements, and, by herding together, establish their language and manners, to the exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us, instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs any more than they can acquire our complexion?
24. Which leads me to add one remark, that the number of purely white people in the world is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny; Asia chiefly tawny; America (exclusive of the new comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians, and Swedes are generally of what we call a swarthy complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who, with the English, make the principal body of white people on the face of the earth. I could wish their numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, scouring our planet, by clearing America of woods, and so making this side of our globe reflect a brighter light to the eyes of inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we, in the sight of superior beings, darken its people? Why increase the sons of Africa by planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and tawnys, of increasing the lovely white and red? But perhaps I am partial to the complexion of my country, for such kind of partiality is natural to mankind.
TO JARED ELIOT
Philadelphia, 12 September, 1751.
I received your favor of last month, with the twelve essays. The Collinson you mention is the same gentleman I correspond with. He is a most benevolent, worthy man, very curious in botany and other branches of natural history, and fond of improvements in agriculture, etc. He will be pleased with your acquaintance. In the late Philosophical Transactions you may see frequently papers of his, or letters that were directed to him, on various subjects. He is a member of the Royal Society.
An ingenious acquaintance of mine here, Mr. Hugh Roberts, one of our most eminent farmers, tells me that it appears by your writings that your people are yet far behind us in the improvement of swamps and meadows. I am persuading him to send you such hints as he thinks may give you farther insight into that matter. But in other respects he greatly esteems your pieces. He says they are preferable to any thing of late years published on that subject in England. The late writers there chiefly copy from one another, and afford very little new or useful; but you have collected experiences and facts, and make propositions, that are reasonable and serviceable. You have taught him, he says, to clear his meadows of elder (a thing very pernicious to banks), which was before beyond the art of all our farmers; and given him several other useful informations.
I am exceedingly obliged to you for the plan and directions concerning ditching. It is very satisfactory, and I hope will be useful here.
Our Academy flourishes beyond expectation. We have now above one hundred scholars, and the number is daily increasing. We have excellent masters at present; and, as we give pretty good salaries, I hope we shall always be able to procure such. We pay the
|Rector, who teaches Latin and Greek, per annum||£200|
|The English master||£150|
|The Mathematical professor||£125|
|Three assistant tutors, each £60 =||£180|
|Total per annum||£655|
Our currency is something better than that of New York. The scholars pay each £4 per annum.
The changes of the barometer are most sensible in high latitudes. In the West India Islands the mercury continues at the same height with very little variation the year round. In these latitudes, the alterations are not frequently so great as in England. Thermometers are often badly made. I had three that differed widely from each other, though hung in the same place. As to hygrometers, there is no good one yet invented. The cord is as good as any; but, like the rest, it grows continually less sensible by time, so that the observations of one year cannot be compared with those of another by the same instrument. I will think of what you hint concerning the hydrostatic balance.
What you mention concerning the love of praise is indeed very true; it reigns more or less in every heart; though we are generally hypocrites in that respect, and pretend to disregard praise, and our nice, modest ears are offended, forsooth, with what one of the ancients calls the sweetest kind of music. This hypocrisy is only a sacrifice to the pride of others, or to their envy; both which, I think, ought rather to be mortified. The same sacrifice we make when we forbear to praise ourselves, which naturally we are all inclined to; and I suppose it was formerly the fashion, or Virgil, that courtly writer, would not have put a speech into the mouth of his hero, which now-a-days we should esteem so great an indecency:
- “Sum pius Æneas, . . . . . . . .
- . . . . . . . famâ super æthera notus.”
One of the Romans, I forget who, justified speaking in his own praise by saying: Every freeman had a right to speak what he thought of himself, as well as of others. That this is a natural inclination appears in that all children show it, and say freely: I am a good boy; Am I not a good girl? and the like, till they have been frequently chid, and told their trumpeter is dead, and that it is unbecoming to sound their own praise, &c. But naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret. Being forbid to praise themselves, they learn instead of it to censure others, which is only a roundabout way of praising themselves; for condemning the conduct of another, in any particular, amounts to as much as saying: I am so honest, or wise, or good, or prudent, that I could not do or approve of such an action. This fondness for ourselves, rather than malevolence to others, I take to be the general source of censure and backbiting; and I wish men had not been taught to dam up natural currents, to the overflowing and damage of their neighbours’ grounds.
Another advantage, methinks, would arise from freely speaking our good thoughts of ourselves, viz.: if we were wrong in them, somebody or other would readily set us right; but now, while we conceal so carefully our vain, erroneous self-opinions, we may carry them to our grave, for who would offer physic to a man that seems to be in health? And the privilege of recounting freely our own good actions might be an inducement to the doing of them, that we might be enabled to speak of them without being subject to be justly contradicted or charged with falsehood; whereas now, as we are not allowed to mention them, and it is an uncertainty whether others will take due notice of them or not, we are perhaps the more indifferent about them; so that, upon the whole, I wish the out-of-fashion practice of praising ourselves would, like other old fashions, come round into fashion again. But this I fear will not be in our time, so we must even be contented with what little praise we can get from one another. And I will endeavour to make you some amends for the trouble of reading this long scrawl, by telling you that I have the sincerest esteem for you, as an ingenious man and a good one, which together make the valuable member of society. As such, I am with great respect and affection, dear Sir, your obliged humble servant,
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
Philadelphia, 24 October, 1751.
My son waits upon you with this, whom I heartily recommend to your motherly care and advice. He is indeed a sober and discreet lad of his years, but he is young and unacquainted with the ways of your place. My compliments to my new niece, Miss Abiah, and pray her to accept the enclosed piece of gold, to cut her teeth; it may afterwards buy nuts for them to crack.
Some time since I sent a letter to your care for our cousin at Casco Bay. Have you had an opportunity to forward it? My love to brother Mecom and your children; and to brother and sister Davenport and children; and respects to Mrs. Billings and her daughter, and all other friends, from, dear sister, your affectionate brother,
TO JARED ELIOT
Philadelphia, 10 December, 1751.
The rector of our Academy, Mr. Martin, came over to this country on a scheme for making potash, in the Russian method. He promised me some written directions for you, which expecting daily I delayed writing, and now he lies dangerously ill of a kind of quinsy. The surgeons have been obliged to open his windpipe, and introduce a leaden pipe for him to breathe through. I fear he will not recover.
I thank you for the merino wool. It is a curiosity. Mr. Roberts promises me some observations on husbandry for you. It is one Mr. Masters that makes manure of leaves, and not Mr. Roberts. I hope to get the particulars from him soon.
I have a letter from Mr. Collinson, of July 19th, in which he says: “Pray, has Mr. Eliot published any addition to his work? I have Nos. 1 and 2. If I can get ready, I will send some improvements made in the sandy parts of the county of Norfolk. By the way, it is a great secret, but it is Mr. Jackson’s own drawing up, being experiments made on some of his father’s estates in that county; but his name must not be mentioned. I thank you for the foul meadow grass. I sowed it June 7th, as soon as I received it, but none is yet come up. I don’t know how it is, but I never could raise any of your native grasses; and I have had a variety from J. Bartram of curious species.”
In another, of September 26th, he says: “I am much obliged to thee for Mr. Eliot’s Third Essay. I have sent Maxwell’s Select Transactions in Husbandry. If Mr. Eliot has not seen them, they may be very useful to him. I have prevailed on our worthy, learned, and ingenious friend Mr. Jackson to give some dissertations on the husbandry of Norfolk, believing it may be very serviceable to the colonies. He has great opportunities of doing this, being a gentleman of leisure and fortune, being the only son, whose father has great riches and possessions, and resides every year, all the long vacation, at his father’s seat in Norfolk. After J. Bartram has perused it, I shall submit how it may be further disposed of, only our friend Eliot should see it soon; for Jackson admires his little Tracts of Husbandry, as well as myself, and it may be of greater service to him and his colony, than to yours. The foul meadow grass has at last made its appearance. Another year we shall judge better of it.” Thus far friend Collinson. You may expect the papers in a post or two.
If you make any use of them, you will take care not to mention any thing of the author.
The bearer is my son, who desired an opportunity of paying his respects to you in his return from Boston. He went by sea.
They have printed all my electrical papers in England, and sent me a few copies, of which I design to send you one per next post, after having corrected a few errata. I am, dear Sir,
Your most humble servant,
P. S.—Mr. Martin is dead.
TO JARED ELIOT
Philadelphia, 24 December, 1751.
I wrote you at large by my son, in answer to your former favors, and sent you an extract from Mr. Collinson’s letter, who much admires your Tracts on Husbandry. Herewith you will receive a manuscript of a friend of Mr. Collinson’s, and a printed book; which you may keep till spring, and then return it to me. I believe they will afford you pleasure.
I send you also enclosed a letter from my friend John Bartram, whose Journal you have read. He corresponds with several of the greatest naturalists in Europe, and will be proud of an acquaintance with you. I make no apologies for introducing him to you; for, though a plain and illiterate man, you will find he has merit. And since for want of skill in agriculture I cannot converse with you pertinently on that valuable subject, I am pleased that I have procured you two correspondents who can.
I am glad you have introduced English declamation into your college. It will be of great service to the youth, especially if care is taken to form their pronounciation on the best models. Mr. Whittlesey, who was lately here, will tell you that we have little boys under seven, who can deliver an oration with more propriety than most preachers. It is a matter that has been too much neglected.
I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately,