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he puzzled me a little, but he did not satisfy me; and the subsequent observations I made, as above mentioned, confirmed me in my first opinion.
This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections. I considered that, if I had not been awakened so early in the morning, I should have slept six hours longer by the light of the sun, and in exchange have lived six hours the following night by candlelight; and the latter being a much more expensive light than the former, my love of economy induced me to muster up what little arithmetic I was master of, and to make some calculations, which I shall give you, after observing that utility is, in my opinion, the test of value in matters of invention, and that a discovery which can be applied to no use, or is not good for something, is good for nothing.
I took for the basis of my calculation the supposition that there are 100,000 families in Paris, and that these families consume in the night half a pound of bougies, or candles, per hour. I think this a moderate allowance, taking one family with another; for though I believe some consume less, I know that many consume a great deal more. Then estimating seven hours per day, as the medium quantity between the time of the sun's rising and ours, he rising during the six following months from șix to eight hours before noon, and there being seven hours of course per night in which we burn candles, the account will stand thus :
In the six months between the twentieth of March and the twentieth of September, there are Nights
183 Hours of each night in which we burn
Multiplication gives for the total number of hours
1,281 These 1,281 hours multiplied by 100,000
the number of inhabitants, give 128,100,000 One hundred twenty-eight millions and one
hundred thousand hours at Paris by
64,050,000 Sixty-four millions and fifty thousand of
pounds, which, estimating the whole at
seventy-five thousand livres tournois ... 96,075,000 An immense sum! that the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.
If it should be said, that people are apt to be obstinately attached to old customs, and that it will be difficult to induce them to rise before noon, consequently my discovery can be of little use; I answer, Nil desperandum. I believe all who have common sense, as soon as they have learnt from this paper that it is day- light when the sun rises, will contrive to rise with him; and, to compel the rest, I would propose the following regulations :
First. Let a tax be laid of a louis, per window, on every window that is provided with shutters to keep out the light of the sun.
Second. Let the same salutary operation of police be made use of to prevent our burning candles, that inclined us last winter to be more economical in burning wood; that is, let guards be placed in the shops of the wax and tallow chandlers, and no family be permitted to be supplied with more than one pound of candles per week.
Third. Let guards also be posted to stop all the coa. ches, etc. that would pass the streets after sunset, except those of physicians, surgeons, and midwives.
Forth. Every morning, as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing; and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street, to wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest.
All the difficulty will be in the first two or three days: after which the reformation will be as natural and easy as the prssent irregularity: for, ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute. Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is more than probable he shall go willingly to bed at eight in the evening; and, having had eight hours sleep, he will rise more willingly at four the morning following But this sum of ninety-six millions and seventy-five thousand livres is not the whole of what may be saved by my economical project. You may observe, that I have calculated upon only one half of the year, and much may be saved in the other, though the days are shorter. Besides, the immense stock of wax and tallow left unconsumed during the summer will probably make candles much cheaper for the ensuing winter, and continue them cheaper as long as the proposed reformation shall he supported.
For the great benefit of this discovery, thus freely communicated and bestowed by me on the public, I demand neither place, pension, exclusive privilege, nor any other reward whatever. I expeet only to have the honour of it. And yet I know there are little envious minds who will, as usual, deny me this, and say, that my invention was known to the ancients, and perhaps they may bring passages out of the old books in proof of it. I will not dispute with these people, that the ancients knew not the sun would rise at certain hours; they possibly had, as we have, almanacs that predicted it: but it does not fol. low from thence, that they knew he gave light as soon as he rose.
This is what I claim as my discovery. If the ancients knew it, it might have been long since forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the moderns, at least to the Parisians, which to prove, I need use but one plain simple argument. They are as well-instructed, judicious, and prudent, a people as exist any where in the world, all professing, like myself, to be lovers of economy; and, from the many heavy taxes required from them by the necessities of the state, have surely an abundant reason to be economical. I say it is impossible, that só sensible a people, under such circumstances, should have lived so long by the smoky, unwholesome, and enormously expensive, light of candles, if they had really known, that they might have had as much pure light of the sun for nothing.
I am, etc.
Passy, Nov. 10, 1779. I received my dear friend's two letters, one for Wednesday, and one for Saturday. This is again Wednesday. I do not deserve one for to day, because I have not answered the former. But indolent as am, and averse to writing, the fear of having no more of your pleasing epistles, if I do not contribute to the correspondence, obliges me to take up my pen: and as Mr. B. has kindly sent me word, that he sets out to - morrow to see you: instead of spending this Wednesday evening, as I have done its name-sakes, in your delightful company, I sit down to spend it in thinking of you, in writing to you, and in reading over and over again your letters.
I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living, there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that in the mean time, we shonld draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would but take care not to give too much for whistles. For to me it seems, that most of the unhappy people we meet with, are become so by neglect of that caution.
You ask, what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.
When I was a child, at seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered him all my money for it. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth. This put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and they laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin, than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This however was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and so I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men,
thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
When I saw any one too ambitious of court favours, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This inan gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, He pays, indeed, says I, too much for his whistle.
if I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasures of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, says I, you pay too much for your whistle.
When I meet a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken man, says I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure: you give too much for your whistle.
If I see one fond of appearance, of fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, Alas, says I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.
When I see a beautiful, sweet - tempered girl, married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, What a pity it is, says I, that she has paid so much for a whistle!
In short, I conceived, that great part of the miseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider, that with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of king John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were pnt to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find, that I had once more given too much for the whistle.
Adieu, my dearest friend; and believe me ever yours very sincerely and with unalterable affection,
A PETITION to those who have the Superintendency of
I address myself to all the friends of youth, and conjuro them to direct their compassionate regards to my unhappy fate, in order to remove the prejudices of which I am the victim. There are twin sisters of us: and the two eyes of man do not more resemble, nor are capable of being upon better terms with each other, than my sister and myself, were it not for the partiality of our parents, who make the most injurious distinctions between us. From my infancy, I have been led to consider my sister as a being of a more elevated rank. I was suffered to grow up without the least instruction, while nothing was spared in her education, She had masters to teach her writing, drawing, music, and other accomplishments; but if by chance I touched a pencil, a pen, or a needle, I was bitterly rebuked: and more than once I have been beaten for being aukward, and wanting a graceful manner. It is true, my sister associated me with her upon some occasions; but she always made a point of taking the lead, calling upon me only from necessity, or to figure by her side.
But conceive not, Sirs, that my complaints are instigated merely by vanity - No; my uneasiness is occasioned by an object much more serious. It is the practice in our family, that the whole business of providing for its subsistence falls upon my sister and myself. If any indisposition should attack my sister – and I mention it in confidence upon this occasion, that she is subject to the gout, the rheumatism, and cramp, without making mention of other accidents - what would be the fate of our poor family? Must not the regret of our parents be excessive, at having placed so great a difference between sisters, whó are so perfectly equal? Alas! we must perish from distress: for it would not be in my power even to scrawl a suppliant petition for relief, having been obliged to employ the hand of another in transcribing the request, which I have now the honour to prefer to you.
Condescend, Sirs, to make my parents sensible of the injustice of an exclusive tenderness, and of the necessity of distributing their care and affection among all their children equally. I am, with a profound respect, Sirs,
Your obedient servant,
THE LEFT HAND,