« PreviousContinue »
as a man would rather be thonght a knave than a fool. I had a great deal more to say, but am called away; we are just preparing to white-wash, and of course I have a deal of business on my hands. The white-wash buckets are paraded, the brushes are ready, my husband is gone off—so much the better; when we are upon a thorough cleaning, the first dirty thing to be removed is one's husband. I am alled for again
FINAL SPEECH OF DR. FRANKLIN IN THE
LATE FEDERAL CONVENTION.*
I CONFESS that I do not entirely approve of this constitution at present; but, Sir, I am not sure ! shall never approve it; for having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by bever information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is, therefore, that the older I grow, the more apt I am 10 doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most nien, in. deed, as well as most sects in religion, think them. selves in possession of all truih, and that whenever others differ from them, it is so far error. Steel, a protestant, in a dedication tells the pope, that, “ the only difference between our two churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines, is, tho Romish church is infallible, and the church of England never in the wrong." But, though niany private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little dispute with her sister, said, “I don't know it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right.” Il n'y a que moi qui a tonjours raison. In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this constitution, with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general government neces sary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a liessing, if well administered ; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well ad. ministered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when che people shall become so corrupted as to ueed des potic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too, whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better constitution : for when you assemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdum, you inevitabiy as. semble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfislı views." Froin such an assembly can à perfect production he expected ? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confi. dence, to hear that our councils are confounded, like those of the builders of Babylon, and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting each other's throats.
* Our reasons for ascribing this speech to Dr. Franklin, are ina internal evidence, and its baving appeared with his name during his Kle-time uncontradicted, in wu American periodical publication
Thus, I consent, Sir, to this constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that this is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice 10 the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose ali the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favour among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and etficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends on opinion; on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisiloin and integrity of its governors.
I hope, therefore, that for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, we
shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this constitution, wherever our influence may extend, and tum our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered.
On the whole Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the Convention, who may still have objections, would with me, on this occasion, doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity put his name to this instru pent.
(The motion was then made for adding the las formuia, viz.
Done in Convention, by the urianimous consent, &c. which was agreed to, and added accordingly.
PEEFERENCE OF BOWS AND ARROWS
IN WAR TO FIRE-ARMS.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL LIL.
Philadelphia, Feb. 11, 1776. DEAR SIR, The bearer, Mons. Arundel, is directed by the Con gress to repair to General Schuyler, in order to be onployed by him in the artillery service. He proposes o wait on you in his way, and has requested me to ntroduce him by a line to you. He has been au officer in the French service, as you will see by hı commissions; and, professing a good will to our cause, I hope he may be useful in instructing our gunners and matrosses: perhaps he may advise iu opening the nailed cannon.
I received the inclosed the other day from an olti cer, Mr. Newland, who served in the two last wars. wod was known by General Gates, who spoke well as him to me when I was at Cainbridge. He is desir ous now of entering into your service. I have ad vised him to wait upon you at New York.
They still talk big in England, and threaten hard. but their language is somewhat civiller, at least nol quite so disrespectful to us. By degrees they come to their senses, but too late, I fancy, for their interest.
We have got a large quantity of saltpetre, on hundred and twenty ton, and thirty more expected Powder mills are now wanting; I believe we mus set to work and make it by hand. But I still wish with you, that pikes could be introduced, and I would add bows and arrows: these were good wea pons, and not wisely laid aside.
1. Because a inan may shoot as truly with a bow as with a common muskel.
2. He can discharge four arrows in the time of charging and discharging one bullet.
3. His ohject is not taken from his view by the smoke of his own side.
4. A fight of arrows seen coming upon them terri. fies and disturbs the enemy's attention to his business.
5. An arrow sticking in any part of a man, puts him hors du combat till it is extracted.
6. Bows and arrows are more easily provided every where than muskets and ammunition.
Polydore Virgil, speaking of cne of our battles against the French in Edward the Third's reign, mentions the great confusion the enemy was thrown into susittarurn nube, from the English; and concludes, “ Est res profecto dictu mirabilis ut tantus ac potens exercitus a solis ferè Anglicis sagittariis victus fuerit; adeo Anglus est sagittipotens, et id genus ar inoruin valet.” If so much execution was done by arrow's when men wore some defensive armour, irow much more inight be done now that it is out of use! I am glad you are come to New
Yark, but I also wish you could be in Canada. There is a kind of Prispense in men's minds here at present, waiting to see what ternis will be offered from England. I ex. pect ncne that we can accept; and when that is gemorally seen, we shall be more unanimous and more