« ElőzőTovább »
are dragged up in ignorance of every gainful art, and obliged to become soldiers, or servants, or thieves, for a subsistence. In America, the rapid increase of inhabitants takes away that fear of rivalship, and artisans willingly receive apprentices from the hope of profit by their labour, during the remainder of the time stipulated, after they shall be instructed. Hence it is easy for poor families to get their children instructed; for the artisans are so desirous of apprentices, that many of them will even give money to the parents, to liave boys from ten to fifteen years of age bound apprentices to them, till the age of twenty-one; and many poor parents have, by that means, on their arrival in the country, raised money enough to buy land sufficient to establish themselves, and to subsist the rest of their family by agriculture. These contracts for apprentices are made before a magistrate, who regulates the agreement according to reason and justice ; and having in view the formation of a future useful citizen, obliges the master to engage by a written indenture, not only that, during the time of ser. vice stipulated, the apprentice shall be duly provided with meat, drink, apparel, washing, and lodging, and at its expiration with a complete new suit of clothes, but also that he shall be taught to read, write, and cast accounts ; and that he shall be well instructed in the art or profession of his master, or some other, by which he may afterwards gain a livelihood, and be able in his turn to raise a family. A copy of this indenture is given to the apprentice or his friends, and the magistrate keeps a l'ecord of it, to which recourse may be had, in case of failure by the master in any point of performance. This desire, among the masters to have more hands employed in working for them, induces them to pay the passages of young persons, of both sexes, wlio, on their arrival, agree to serve them one, two, threc, or four years : those who have already learned a trade, agreeing for a shorter term, in proportion to their skill, and the consequent immediate value of their services; and those who have none, agreeing for a longer term, in consideration of being taught an art their poverty would not permit them to acquire in their own country.
The almost general mediocrity of fortune that pre vails in America, obliging its people to follow some business for subsistence, those vices that arise usually from idleness, are in a great measure prevented. In dustry and constant employment are great preserva. tives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there ; infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with an atheist or an infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other, by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to.favour the whole country.
FINAL SPEECH OF DR. FRANKLIN IN THE
LATE FEDERAL CONVENTION.*
T CONFESS that I do not entirely approve of this I constitution at present: but, Sir, I am not sure I
* Our reasons for ascribing this speech to Dr. Franklin, are its internal evidence, and its having appeared with his name, during his life-time, uncontradicted, in an American periodical publication..
shall never approve it; for having lived long, I have experienced niany instances of being obliged by better information, or further 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 am I to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects of religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, 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 doc. trines, is, the Roman church is infallible, and the church of England never in the wrong." But, though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their own sect, few ex. press it so naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little dispute with her sister, said, I dont know how it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right. Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison. In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this constitution, with all its faults, if they are such ; because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government, but what may be a blessing, if well administered, and I believe farther, that this is likely to be well adminstered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too, whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a bet, ter constitution. For when you assemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be 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 confidence, 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.
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 to 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 all 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 or efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depend on opinion ; on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom 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 turn 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 instrument. . [ Che motion was then made for adding the last forz mulag, viz.
Done in convention by the unanimous consent, &c which was agreed to, and added accordingly.]
SKETCH OF AN ENGLISH SCHOOL.
For the Consideration of the Trustees of the Philadelphia
TT is expected that every scholar to be admitted into I tiis school, be at least able to pronounce and divide the syllables in reading, and to write a legible hand. None to be received that are under years of age.
FIRST, OR LOWEST CLASS. Let the first class learn the English Grammar rules, and at the same time let particular care be taken to improve them in orthography. Perhaps the latter is best done by pairing the scholars ; two of those nearest equal in their spelling to be put together. Let these strive for victory ; each propounding ten words every day to the other to be spelled. He that spells truly most of the other's words, is victor for that day ; he that is victor most days in a month, to obtain a prize, a pretty neat book of some kind, useful in tlieir future studies. This method fixes the attention of children extremely to the orthography of words, and makes them good spellers very early. It is a shame for a man to be so ignorant of this little art in his own language, as to be perpetually confounding words of like sound and different significations ; the consciousness of which defect makes some men, otherwise of good learning and understanding, averse to writing even a common letter. • Let the pieces read by the scholars in this class be, short; such as Coxal's fables and little stories. In