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kind of reputation.' His Poor Richard's Almanack, containing some homely and valuable rules of life, was begun in 1732. Between the years 1747 and 1754 he communicated to his friend, Peter Collinson, a series of letters detailing New Experiments
machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore, the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brickmaker, the bricklayer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the millwright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them. Were we to examine in the same manner all the different parts of his dress and household furniture, the coarse linen shirt which he wears next his skin, the shoes which cover his feet, the bed which he lies on, and all the different parts which compose it, the kitchen-grate at which he prepares his victuals, the coals which he makes use of for that purpose, dug from the bowels of the earth, and brought to him, perhaps, by a long sea and a long land-carriage, all the other utensils of his kitchen, all the furniture of his table, the knives and forks, the earthen or pewter plates upon which he serves up and divides his victuals, the different hands employed in preparing his bread and his beer, the glass window which lets in the heat and the light, and keeps out the wind and the rain, with all the knowledge and art requisite for preparing that beautiful and happy invention, without which these northern parts of the world could scarce have afforded a very comfortable habitation, together with the tools of all the different workmen employed in producing those different conveniences; if we examine, all these things, and consider what a variety of and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia, labour is employed about each of them, we shall be in which he established the scientific fact, that sensible that, without the assistance and co-opera- electricity and lightning are the same. His experition of many thousands, the very meanest person in ments, as described by himself, have an air of wonder a civilised country could not be provided, even ac- and romance. He made a kite of a silk handkercording to, what we very falsely imagine, the easy chief, and set it up into the air, with a common key and simple manner in which he is commonly accom-fastened to the end of a hempen string, by which he modated. Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of a European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute masters of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.'
DR BENJAMIN FRANKLIN-WILLIAM MELMOTH-
As Adam Smith taught how the wealth of nations might be accumulated and preserved, Dr BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706-1790), with a humbler aim, but with scarcely less practical sagacity, applied the same lessons to individuals. By his admirable writings, and still more admirable life, he inculcated the virtues of industry, frugality, and independence of thought, and may be reckoned one of the benefactors of mankind. Franklin was a native of Boston in America, and was brought up to the trade of a printer. By unceasing industry and strong natural talents (which he assiduously cultivated), he rose to be one of the representatives of Philadelphia, and after the separation of America from Britain, he was ambassador for the states at the court of France. Several important treaties were negotiated by him, and in all the fame and fortunes of his native country-its struggles, disasters, and successes-he bore a prominent part. The writings of Franklin are not numerous; he always, as he informs us, 'set a greater value on a doer of good than on any other
held the kite in his hand. His son watched with him the result; clouds came and passed, and at length lightning came; it agitated the hempen cord, and emitted sparks from the key, which gave him a slight electrical shock. The discovery was thus made; the identity of lightning with electricity was clearly manifested; and Franklin was so overcome by his feelings at the discovery, that he said he could willingly at that moment have died! The political, miscellaneous, and philosophical works of Franklin, were published by him in 1779, and were afterwards republished, with additions, by his grandson, in six volumes. His memoir of himself is the most valuable of his miscellaneous pieces; his essays scarcely exceed mediocrity as literary compositions, but they are animated by a spirit of benevolence and practical wisdom.
The refined classical taste and learning of WILLIAM MELMOTH (1710-1799) enriched this period with a translation of Pliny's Letters, which Warton, a highly competent judge, pronounced to be one of the few translations that are better than the original. Under the assumed name of Fitzosborne, Melmoth also published a volume of Letters on Literary and Moral Subjects, remarkable for elegance of style. The same author translated Cicero's Letters to several of his friends, and the treatises De Amicitia and De Senectute, to which he appended large and valuable annotations. Melmoth was an amiable, accomplished, and pious man, and his character shines forth in all his writings. His translations are still the best we possess; and his style, though sometimes feeble from excess of polish and ornament, is generally correct, perspicuous, and musical in construction.
[From Melmoth's Letters.]
If one would rate any particular merit according to its true valuation, it may be necessary, perhaps, to consider how far it can be justly claimed by mankind in general. I am sure, at least, when I read the very uncommon sentiments of your last letter, I found their judicious author rise in my esteem, by reflecting that there is not a more singular character in the world than that of a thinking man. It is not merely having a succession of ideas which lightly skim over the mind, that can with any propriety be styled by that denomination. It is observing them separately and distinctly, and ranging them under their respective classes; it is calmly and steadily viewing our opinions on every side, and resolutely tracing them through all their consequences and connections, that constitutes the man of reflection, and distinguishes reason from fancy. Providence, indeed, does not seem to have formed any very considerable number of our species for an extensive exercise of this higher faculty, as the thoughts of the far greater part of mankind are necessarily restrained within the ordinary purposes of animal life. But even if we look up to those who move in much superior orbits, and who have opportunities to improve, as well as leisure to exercise their understandings, we shall find that thinking is one of the least exerted privileges of cultivated humanity.
It is, indeed, an operation of the mind which meets with many obstructions to check its just and free direction; but there are two principles which prevail
life, we may have occasion, perhaps, to remark that
Ingenium; capsis quem fama est esse, librisque
Thus Epicurus, we are told, left behind him three
more or less in the constitutions of most men, that particularly contribute to keep this faculty of the soul unemployed; I mean pride and indolence. To descend to truth through the tedious progression of well-ditious workmen were wrought up: sound thought examined deductions, is considered as a reproach to the quickness of understanding, as it is much too laborious a method for any but those who are possessed of a vigorous and resolute activity of mind. For this reason the greater part of our species generally choose either to seize upon their conclusions at once, or to take them by rebound from others, as best suiting with their vanity or their laziness. Accordingly, Mr Locke observes, that there are not so many errors and wrong opinions in the world as is generally imagined. Not that he thinks mankind are by any means uniform in embracing truth; but because the majority of them, he maintains, have no thought or opinion at all about those doctrines concerning which they raise the greatest clamour. Like the common soldiers in an army, they follow where their leaders direct, without knowing or even inquiring into the cause for which they so warmly contend.
This will account for the slow steps by which truth has advanced in the world on one side, and for those absurd systems which at different periods have had a universal currency on the other; for there is a strange disposition in human nature either blindly to tread the same paths that have been traversed by others, or to strike out into the most devious extravagances: the greater part of the world will either totally renounce their reason, or reason only from the wild suggestions of a heated imagination.
[From the same.]
It is with much pleasure I look back upon that philosophical week which I lately enjoyed at as there is no part, perhaps, of social life which affords more real satisfaction than those hours which one passes in rational and unreserved conversation. The free communication of sentiments amongst a set of ingenious and speculative friends, such as those you gave me the opportunity of meeting, throws the mind into the most advantageous exercise, and shows the strength or weakness of its opinions, with greater force of conviction than any other method we can employ.
That it is not good for man to be alone,' is true in more views of our species than one; and society gives strength to our reason, as well as polish to our manners. The soul, when left entirely to her own solitary contemplations, is insensibly drawn by a sort of constitutional bias, which generally leads her opinions to the side of her inclinations. Hence it is that she contracts those peculiarities of reasoning, and little habits of thinking, which so often confirm her in the most fantastical errors; but nothing is more likely to recover the mind from this false bent than the counter-warmth of impartial debate. Conversation opens our views, and gives our faculties a more vigorous play; it puts us upon turning our notions on every side, and holds them up to a light that discovers If we turn our view from active to contemplative | those latent flaws which would probably have lain
From the same source may be derived those divisions and animosities which break the union both of public and private societies, and turn the peace and harmony of human intercourse into dissonance and contention. For, while men judge and act by such measures as have not been proved by the standard of dispassionate reason, they must equally be mistaken in their estimates both of their own conduct and that of others.
concealed in the gloom of unagitated abstraction. Accordingly, one may remark that most of those wild doctrines which have been let loose upon the world, have generally owed their birth to persons whose circumstances or dispositions have given them the fewest opportunities of canvassing their respective systems in the way of free and friendly debate. Had the authors of many an extravagant hypothesis discussed their principles in private circles, ere they had given vent to them in public, the observation of Varro had never perhaps been made (or never, at least, with so much justice), that there is no opinion so absurd, but has some philosopher or other to produce in its support.'
volent man, published in 1744 treatises on art, on music and painting, and on happiness. He afterwards (1751) produced his celebrated work, Hermes, or a Philosophical Inquiry concerning Universal Grammar. The definitions of Harris are considered arbitrary and often unnecessary, and his rules are complicated; but his profound acquaintance with Greek literature, and his general learning, supplying numerous illustrations, enabled him to produce a curious and valuable publication. Every writer on the history and philosophy of grammar must consult Hermes.' Unfortunately the study of the ancient dialects of the northern nations was little prevalent at the time of Mr Harris, and to this cause (as was Upon this principle I imagine it is that some of the case also with many of the etymological distincthe finest pieces of antiquity are written in the dia- tions in Johnson's Dictionary) must be attributed logue manner. Plato and Tully, it should seem, some of his errors and the imperfection of his plan. thought truth could never be examined with more Mr Harris was a man of rank and fortune: he sat advantage than amidst the amicable opposition of several years in parliament, and was successively a well-regulated converse. It is probable, indeed, that lord of the admiralty and lord of the treasury. In subjects of a serious and philosophical kind were more 1774 he was made secretary and comptroller to the frequently the topics of Greek and Roman conversaqueen, which he held till his death in 1780. His tions than they are of ours; as the circumstances of son, Lord Malmesbury, published, in 1801, a comthe world had not yet given occasion to those pruden-plete edition of his works in two volumes quarto. tial reasons which may now perhaps restrain a more free exchange of sentiments amongst us. There was something, likewise, in the very scenes themselves where they usually assembled, that almost unavoidably turned the stream of their conversations into this useful channel. Their rooms and gardens were generally adorned, you know, with the statues of the greatest masters of reason that had then appeared in the world; and while Socrates or Aristotle stood in their view, it is no wonder their discourse fell upon those subjects which such animating representations would naturally suggest. It is probable, therefore,
Harris relates the following interesting anecdote of
that many of those ancient pieces which are drawn up in the dialogue manner were no imaginary conversa- searches illustrate the history of their native country, Two distinguished antiquarian writers, whose retions invented by their authors, but faithful transcripts from real life. And it is this circumstance, may be here mentioned-WILLIAM STUKELEY (1687perhaps, as much as any other, which contributes to 1765), who published Itinerarium Curiosum, or an give them that remarkable advantage over the Account of the Antiquities and Curiosities of Great rality of modern compositions which have been formed Britain, An Account of Stonehenge, &c. &c. Stukeley upon the same plan. I am sure, at least, I could studied medicine, but afterwards took orders, and scarcely name more than three or four of this kind at the time of his death, was rector of St George which have appeared in our language worthy of church, Queen Square, London. notice. My Lord Shaftesbury's dialogue, entitled The (1735-1807), an English barrister, published ObserMoralists, Mr Addison's upon Ancient Coins, Mrvations on Ancient Castles, and an elaborate work, in Spence's upon the Odyssey, together with those of my of English architecture anterior to the Norman three folio volumes, Munimenta Antiqua, descriptive very ingenious friend, Philemon to Hydaspes, are almost the only productions in this way which have Conquest. hitherto come forth amongst us with advantage. These, indeed, are all master-pieces of the kind, and written in the true spirit of learning and politeness. The conversation in each of these most elegant performances is conducted, not in the usual absurd method of introducing one disputant to be tamely silenced by the other, but in the more lively dramatic manner, where a just contrast of characters is preserved throughout, and where the several speakers support their respective sentiments with all the strength and spirit of a well-bred opposition.
WILLIAM HARRIS (1720-1770), a dissenting divine in Devonshire, published historical memoirs of James I., Charles I., Oliver Cromwell, and Charles II. These works were written in imitation of the manner of Bayle, the text being subordinate to the notes and illustrations. Very frequently only a single line of the memoir is contained in the page, the rest being wholly notes. As depositories of original papers, the memoirs of Harris (which are still to be met with in five volumes) are valuable: the original part is trifling in extent, and written without either merit or pretension.
JAMES HARRIS of Salisbury, a learned and bene
SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE.
SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE'S Commentaries on the
Laws of England, published in 1765, exhibit a logical and comprehensive mind, and a correct taste in composition. They formed the first attempt to popuful. Junius and others have attacked their author larise legal knowledge, and were eminently successfor leaning too much to the side of prerogative, and abiding rather by precedents than by sense and justice; yet in the House of Commons, when Blackstone was once advocating what was considered servile obedience, he was answered from his own book! The Commentaries have not been supplanted by any subsequent work of the same kind, but various additions and corrections have been made by eminent lawyers in late editions. Blackstone thus sums up the relative merits of an elective and hereditary monarchy:It must be owned, an elective monarchy seems to be the most obvious, and best suited of any to the rational principles of government and the freedom of human nature; and, accordingly, we find from history that, in the infancy and first rudiments of
almost every state, the leader, chief magistrate, or
[On the Right of Property.]
In the beginning of the world, we are informed by holy writ, the all-bountiful Creator gave to man 'dominion over all the earth, and over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.' This is the only true and solid foundation of man's dominion over external things, whatever airy metaphysical notions may have been started by fanciful writers upon this subject. The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, exclusive of other beings, from the immediate gift of the Creator. And while the earth continued bare of inhabitants, it is reasonable to suppose that all was in common among them, and that every one took from the public stock to his own use such things as his immediate necessities required.
These general notions of property were then sufficient to answer all the purposes of human life; and might, perhaps, still have answered them, had it been possible for mankind to have remained in a state of primeval simplicity; as may be collected from the
manners of many American nations, when first discovered by the Europeans; and from the ancient method of living among the first Europeans themselves, if we may credit either the memorials of them preserved in the golden age of the poets, or the uniform accounts given by historians of those times wherein erant omnia communia et indivisa omnibus, veluti unum cunctis patrimonium esset. Not that this communion of good seems ever to have been applicable, even in the earliest ages, to aught but the substance of the thing, nor could be extended to the use of it. For, by the law of nature and reason, he who first began to use it acquired therein a kind of transient property, that lasted so long as he was using it, and no longer; or, to speak with greater precision, the right of possession continued for the same time only that the act of possession lasted. Thus the ground was in common, and no part of it was the permanent property of any man in particular; yet, whoever was in the occupation of any determinate spot of it, for rest, for shade, or the like, acquired for the time a sort of ownership, from which it would have been unjust, and contrary to the law of nature, to have driven him by force; but the instant that he quitted the use or occupation of it, another might seize it without injustice. Thus also a vine or other tree might be said to be in common, as all men were equally entitled to its produce; and yet any private individual might gain the sole property of the fruit, which he had gathered for his own repast; a doctrine well illustrated by Cicero, who compares the world to a great theatre, which is common to the public, and yet the place which any man has taken is for the time his own.
But when mankind increased in number, craft, and of more permanent dominion; and to appropriate to ambition, it became necessary to entertain conceptions individuals not the immediate use only, but the very merable tumults must have arisen, and the good order substance of the thing to be used. Otherwise, innuof the world been continually broken and disturbed, while a variety of persons were striving who should get the first occupation of the same thing, or disputing which of them had actually gained it. As human life also grew more and more refined, abundance of conveniences were devised to render it more easy, commodious, and agreeable, as habitations for shelter and safety, and raiment for warmth and decency. man would be at the trouble to provide either, so long as he had only a usufructuary property in them, which was to cease the instant that he quitted possession; if, as soon as he walked out of his tent, or pulled off his garment, the next stranger who came by would have a right to inhabit the one, and to wear the other. In the case of habitations, in particular, it was natural to observe, that even the brute creation, to whom everything else was in common, maintained a kind of permanent property in their dwellings, especially for the protection of their young; that the birds of the air had nests, and the beasts of the field had caverns, the invasion of which they esteemed a very flagrant injustice, and would sacrifice their lives to preserve them. Hence a property was soon established in every man's house and homestall, which seem to have been originally mere temporary huts or movable cabins, suited to the design of Providence for more speedily peopling the earth, and suited to the wandering life of their owners, before any extensive property in the soil or ground was established. And there can be no doubt but that movables of every kind became sooner appropriated than the permanent substantial soil; partly because they were more susceptible of a long occupance, which might be continued for months together without any sensible interruption, and at length by usage ripen into an established right; but principally because few of them could be fit for use, till improved and meliorated by the bodily labour of the
occupant; which bodily labour, bestowed upon any subject which before lay in common to all men, is universally allowed to give the fairest and most reasonable title to an exclusive property therein.
The article of food was a more immediate call, and therefore a more early consideration. Such as were not contented with the spontaneous product of the earth, sought for a more solid refreshment in the flesh of beasts, which they obtained by hunting. But the frequent disappointments incident to that method of provision, induced them to gather together such animals as were of a more tame and sequacious nature; and to establish a permanent property in their flocks and herds, in order to sustain themselves in a less precarious manner, partly by the milk of the dams, and partly by the flesh of the young. The support of these their cattle made the article of water also a very important point. And therefore the book of Genesis (the most venerable monument of antiquity, considered merely with a view to history) will furnish us with frequent instances of violent contentions concerning wells, the exclusive property of which appears to have been established in the first digger or occupant, even in such places where the ground and herbage remained yet in common. Thus we find Abraham, who was but a sojourner, asserting his right to a well in the country of Abimelech, and exacting an oath for his security, 'because he had digged that well.' And Isaac, about ninety years afterwards, reclaimed this his father's property; and after much contention with the Philistines, was suffered to enjoy it in peace.
All this while the soil and pasture of the earth remained still in common as before, and open to every occupant; except perhaps in the neighbourhood of towns, where the necessity of a sole and exclusive property in lands (for the sake of agriculture) was earlier felt, and therefore more readily complied with. Otherwise, when the multitude of men and cattle had consumed every convenience on one spot of ground, it was deemed a natural right to seize upon and occupy such other lands as would more easily supply their necessities. This practice is still retained among the wild and uncultivated nations that have never been formed into civil states, like the Tartars and others in the East, where the climate itself, and the boundless extent of their territory, conspire to retain them still in the same savage state of vagrant liberty which was universal in the earliest ages, and which Tacitus informs us continued among the Germans till the decline of the Roman empire. We have also a striking example of the same kind in the history of Abraham and his nephew Lot. When their joint substance became so great, that pasture and other conveniences grew scarce, the natural consequence was, that a strife arose between their servants, so that it was no longer practicable to dwell together. This contention Abraham thus endeavoured to compose:- Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then will I go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then will I go to the left.' This plainly implies an acknowledged right in either to occupy whatever ground he pleased, that was not pre-occupied by other tribes. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, even as the garden of the Lord. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan, and journied east, and Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan.'
Upon the same principle was founded the right of migration, or sending colonies to find out new habitations, when the mother-country was overcharged with inhabitants; which was practised as well by the Phoenicians and Greeks, as the Germans, Scythians, and other northern people. And so long as it was confined to the stocking and cultivation of desert, unin
habited countries, it kept strictly within the limits of the law of nature. But how far the seizing on countries already peopled, and driving out or massacring the innocent and defenceless natives, merely because they differed from their invaders in language, in religion, in customs, in government, or in colour; how far such a conduct was consonant to nature, to reason, or to Christianity, deserved well to be considered by those who have rendered their names immortal by thus civilising mankind.
As the world by degrees grew more populous, it daily became more difficult to find out new spots to inhabit, without encroaching upon former occupants; and, by constantly occupying the same individual spot, the fruits of the earth were consumed, and its spontaneous produce destroyed, without any provision for a future supply or succession. It therefore became necessary to pursue some regular method of providing a constant subsistence; and this necessity produced, or at least promoted and encouraged, the art of agriculture, by a regular connection and consequence; introduced and established the idea of a more permanent property in the soil than had hitherto been received and adopted. It was clear that the earth would not produce her fruits in sufficient quantities, without the assistance of tillage; but who would be at the pains of tilling it, if another might watch an opportunity to seize upon and enjoy the product of his industry, art, and labour? Had not, therefore, a separate property in lands, as movables, been vested in some individuals, the world must have continued a forest, and men have been mere animals of prey; which, according to some philosophers, is the genuine state of nature. Whereas now (so graciously has Providence interwoven our duty and our happiness together) the result of this very necessity has been the ennobling of the human species, by giving it opportunities of improving its rational faculties, as well as of exerting its natural. Necessity begat property; and, in order to insure that property, recourse was had to civil society, which brought along with it a long train of inseparable concomitantsstates, government, laws, punishments, and the public exercise of religious duties. Thus connected together, it was found that a part only of society was sufficient to provide, by their manual labour, for the necessary subsistence of all; and leisure was given to others to cultivate the human mind, to invent useful arts, and to lay the foundations of science.
The only question remaining is, how this property became actually vested; or what it is that gave a man an exclusive right to retain in a permanent manner that specific land which before belonged generally to everybody, but particularly to nobody? And as we before observed, that occupancy gave the right to the temporary use of the soil, so it is agreed upon all hands that occupancy gave also the original right to the permanent property in the substance of the earth itself, which excludes every one else but the owner from the use of it. There is, indeed, some difference among the writers on natural law concerning the reason why occupancy should convey this right, and invest one with this absolute property; Grotius and Puffendorf insisting that this right of occupancy is founded upon a tacit and implied assent of all mankind, that the first occupant should become the owner; and Barbeyrac, Titius, Mr Locke, and others, holding that there is no such implied assent, neither is it necessary that there should be; for that the very act of occupancy alone being a degree of bodily labour, is, from a principle of natural justice, without any consent or compact, sufficient of itself to gain a title; a dispute that savours too much of nice and scholastic refinement! However, both sides agree in this, that occupancy is the thing by which the title was in fact originally gained;