« AnteriorContinua »
paper, with a press, a' few types, and a huge pair of blacking balls, may commissionate himself, and his court is immediately established in the plenary possession and exercise of its rights; for if you make the least complaint of the judge's conduct, he daubs his blacking balls in your face wherever he meets you: and besides tearing your private character to splinters, marks you out for the odium of the public, as an enemy to the liberty of the press.
Of the natural support of this court.
Its support is founded in the depravity of such minds as have not been mended by religion, nor improved by good education.
There is a lust in man no charm can tame,
On eagle's wings immortal scandals fly,
Whoever feels pain on hearing a good character of his neighbour, will feel a pleasure in the reverse.— And of those who, despairing to rise in distinction by their virtues, are happy if others can be depressed to a level with themselves, there are a number sufficient in every great town to maintain one of these courts by subscription. A shrewd observer once said, that in walking the streets of a slippery morning, one might see where the good natured people lived, by the ashes thrown on the ice before the doors: proba bly he would have formed a different conjecture of the temper of those of whom he might find engaged in such subscriptions.
Of the checks proper to be established against the abuses of power in those courts.
Hitherto there are none. But since so much has been written and published on the federal constitution; and the necessity of checks in all parts of good government, has been so clearly and learnedly explained, I find myself so far enlightened as to suspect some check may be proper in this part also; but I have been at a loss to imagine any that may not be construed an infringement of the sacred liberty of the press. At length, however, I think I have found one, that instead of diminishing general liberty, shall augment it; which is, by restoring to the people a species of liberty, of which they have been deprived by our laws-I mean the liberty of the cudgel! In the rude state of society, prior to the existence of laws, if one man gave another ill language, the affronted person might return it by a box on the ear; and, if repeated, by a good drubbing; and this without offending against any law: but now the right of making such returns is denied, and they are punished as breaches of the peace, while the right of abusing seems to remain in full force; the laws made against it being rendered ineffectual by the liberty of the press.
My proposal then is, to leave the liberty of the press untouched, to be exercised in its full extent, force, and vigour, but to permit the liberty of the cudgel to go with it, parri passu. Thus, my fellowcitizens, if an impudent writer attacks your reputation-dearer perhaps to you than your life, and puts his name to the charge, you may go to him as openly, and break his head. If he conceals himself behind the printer, and you can nevertheless discover who he is, you may, in like manner, waylay him in the night, attack him behind, and give him a good drubbing. If you adversary hires better writers than himself to abuse you more effectually, you may hire as many porters, stronger than yourself, to assist you in giving him a more effectual drubbing, Thus far goes my project as to private resentment and retri. bution. But if the public should ever happen to be
affronted, as it ought to be, with the conduct of sucn writers, I would not advise proceeding immediately to these extremities, but that we should in moderation content ourselves with tarring and feathering, and tossing in a blanket.
If, however, it should be thought, that this proposal of mine may disturb the public peace, I would then humbly recommend to our legislators to take up the consideration of both liberties, that of the press, and that of the cudgel; and by an explicit law mark their extent and limits: and at the same time that they secure the person of a citizen from assaults, they would likewise provide for the security of his reputation.
SOME wit of old-such wits of old there wereWhose hints show'd meaning, whose allusions care By one brave stroke to mark all hunan kind Call'd clear blank paper ev'ry infant mind; When still, as opening sense her dictates wrote, Fair virtue put a seal, or vice a blot.
The thought was happy, pertinent and true;
Various the papers various wants produce, The wants of fashion, elegance, and use. Men are as various; and if right I scan, Each sort of paper represents some man.
Pray note the fop--half powder and half lace-
Mechanics, servants, farmers, and so forth,
The wretch whom av'rice bids to pinch and spare, Starve, cheat, and pilfer, to enrich an heir, Is coarse brown-paper; such as pedlers choose To wrap up wares, which better men will use.
Take next the miser's contrast, who destroys Health, fame, and fortune, in a round of joys. Will any paper match him? Yes, throughout, He's a true sinking-paper, past all doubt.
The retail politician's anxious thought Deems this side always right, and that stark nought; He foams with censure; with applause he ravesA dupe to rumours, and a tool of knaves; He'll want no type his weakness to proclaim, While such a thing as fools-cap has a name.
The hasty gentleman, whose blood runs high,
What are our poets, take them as they fall Good, bad, rich, poor, much read, not read at all? Them and their works in the same class you'll find; They are the mere waste-paper of mankind.
Observe the maiden, innocently sweet,
One instance more, and only one I'll bring; Tis the great man who scorns a little thing, Whose thoughts, whose deeds, whose maxims are his own,
Form'd on the feelings of his heart alone:
ON THE ART OF SWIMMING.
IN ANSWER TO SOME INQUIRIES OF M. DUBOURG * ON THE SUBJECT.
I AM apprehensive that I shall not be able to find leisure for making all the disquisitions and experiments which would be desirable on this subject. must, therefore, content myself with a few remarks.
The specific gravity of some human bodies, in comparison to that of water, has been examined by M. Robinson, in our Philosophical Transactions, volume 50, page 30, for the year 1757. He asserts, that fat persons with small bones float most easily upon water.
The diving bell is accurately described in our Transactions.
When I was a boy, I made two oval pallets, each about ten inches long, and six broad, with a hole for the thumb, in order to retain it fast in the palm of my hand. They much resemble a painter's pallets. In swimming, I pushed the edges of these forward, and I struck the water with their flat surfaces as I drew them back: I remember I swam faster by means of these pallets, but they fatigued my wrists. I also fitted to the soles of my feet a kind of sandals; but I was not satisfied with them, because I observed that the stroke is partly given by the inside of the feet and the ancles, and not entirely with the soles of the feet.
We have here waistcoats for swimming, which are made of double sail-cloth, with small pieces of cork quilted in between them.
I know nothing of the scaphandre of M. de la Chapelle.
I know by experience, that it is a great comfort to a swimmer, who has a considerable distance to go, to turn himself sometimes on his back, and to vary in other respects the means of procuring a progressive
* Translator of Dr. Franklin's Works into French.