« PreviousContinue »
she makes an excellent pudding; she can't correct the press, but she can correct her children, and scold ber servants with admirable discretion ; she can't unravel the intricacies of political economy and federal government; but she can knit charming stockings.” And this they call praising a wife, and doing justice to her character, with much nonsense of the like kind.
I say, women generally employ their time to much better purpose than scribbling ; -otherwise this facetious writer had not gone so long unanswered. We have ladies who sometimes lay down the needle and take up the pen; I wonder none of them have attempted some reply. For my part, I do not pretend to be an author. I have never appeared in print in my life, but I can no longer forbear to say something in answer to such impertinence, circulate how it may. Only, sir, consider our situation. Men are naturally inattentive to the decencies of life; but why should I be so complaisant? I say they are naturally filthy creatures. If it were not that their connexion with the refined sex polished their manners, and had a happy influence on the general economy of life, these lords of creation would wallow in filth, and populous cities would infect the atmosphere with their noxious vapours. It is the attention and assiduity of the women that prevent men from degenerating into mere swine. How important then are the services we render; and yet for these very services we are made the subject of ridicule and fun. Base ingratitude! Nauseous creatures! Perhaps you may think I am in a passion. No, Sir, I do assure you I never was more composed in my life ; and yet it is enough to provoke a saint to see how unreasonably we are treated by the men. Why now, there's my husband a good enough sort of a man in the main-but I will give you a sample of him. He comes into the parlour the other day, where to be sure, I was cutting up a piece of linen.“ Lord !” says he,“ what a flutter here is! I can't bear to see the parlour look like a tailor's shop, besides, I am going to make some important philosophical experiments, and must have sufficient room!" You must know my husband is one of your would be philosophers. Well, I bundled up my linen as quick as I could, and began to darn a pair of ruffles, which took no room, and could give no offence. I thought, however, I wonld watch my lord and master's important business. In about half an hour the tables were covered with all manner of trumpery; bottles of water, phials of drugs, pasteboard, paper and cards, glue, paste, and gum-arabic; tiles, knives, scissors, needles, rosin, wax, silk, thrad, rass, jags, taga, books, pamphlets, and papers. Lord bless me! I am almost out of breath, and yet I have not enumerated half the articles. Well, to work he went, and although I did not understand the object of the manœuvres, yet I could sufficiently discover that he did not succeed in any one operation. I was glad of that, I confess, and with good reason too: for, after he had fatigued himself with mischief, like a monkey in a china shop, and called the servants to clear every thing away, I took a view of the scene my parlour exhibited. I shall not even attempt a minute description; suffice it to say, that he had overset his inkstand, and stained my best mahogany table with ink; he had spilt a quantity of vitriol, and burnt a large hole in my carpet: my marble hearth was all over spotted with melted rosin : besides this, he had broken three china cups, four wine glasses, two tumblers, and one of my handsomest decanters. And, after ait, as I said before, I perceived that he had not succeeded in any one opération. By the by, tell your friend, the white-wash scribbler, that this is one means by which our closets become furnished with halves of china bowls, cracked tumblers, broken wine-glasses, tops of teapots, and stoppers of departed decanters. say, I took a view of the dirt and devastation my philosophic husband had occasioned; and there I sat, like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief; but it worked inwardly. I would almost as soon the melted rosin and vitriol had been in his throat, as on my dear marble hearth, and my beautiful carpet. It is not true that women have no power over their own feelings; for notwithstanding this provocation, I said nothing, or next to nothing; for Î only observed, very pleasantly, what a lady of my acquaintance had told me, that the reason why philosophers are called literary men, is because they make a greater litter : not a word more: however, the servant cleared away, and down sat the philosopher. A friend dropt in soon after-" Your servant, Sir, how do you do?” “ O Lord! I am almost fatigued to death ; I have been all the morning making philosophical experiinents.” I was now more hardly put to it to smother a laugh than I had been just before to contain my rage; my precious went out soon after, and I, as you may suppose, mustered all my forces : brushes, buckets, soap, sand, limeskins, and cocoanut shells, with all the powers of housewifery, were immediately employed. was certainly the best philosopher of the two ; for my experiments succeeded, and his did not. All was well again, except my poor carpet-my vitriolized carpet, which still continued a mournful momento of philosophic fury, or rather philosophic folly. The operation was scarce over, when in came my experimental philosopher, and told me, with all the indifference in the world, that he had invited six gentlemen to dine with him at three o'clock. It was then past one. I complained of the short notice, “ Poh! poh!” said he, “you can get a leg of mutton, and a loin of veal, and a few potatoes, which will do well enough.” Heaven! what a chaos must the head of a philosopher be! a leg of mutton, a loin of veal, and potatoes ! I was at a loss whether I should laugh or be angry; but there was no time for determining: 1 had but an hour and a half to do a world of business in. My carpet, which had suffered in the cause of experimental philosophy in the morning, was destined to be most shamefully dishonoured in the afternoon by a deluge of nasty tobacco juice. Gentlemen smokers love segars better than carpets. Think, Sir, what a woman must endure under such eircumstances; and then, after all, to be reproached with her cleanliness, and to have her white-washings, her scourings, and scrubbings, made the subject of ridicule ; it is more than patience can put up with. What I have now exhibited is but a small specimen of the injuries we sustain from the boasted superiority of men. But we will not be laughed out of our cleanliness. A woman would rather be called any thing than a slut, as a man would rather be thought 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 called for again. Adieu.
FINAL SPEECH OF DR. FRANKLIN IN THE LATE
Mr. President :
I Confess that I do not entirely approve of this constitution at present; but, Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it ; for having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better in
* Our reasons for ascribing this speech to Dr. Franklin, are its internal evidence, and its having appeared with his name, during his lifetime, uncontradicted, in an American periodical publication.
formation, 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 to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that whenever others differ from them, it is so far error. Steele, a Prostestant, in a dedication, tells the Pope, that, “ the only difference between 'our two churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Romish 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 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 how it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right.” N 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 administered 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 better constitution : for when you assemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably 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 Babel, 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. T'he 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 w 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 and efficiency of any government, in pro-,' curing and securing happiness to the people, depends 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 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 stili 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.
[The motion was then made for adding the last formula, viz.
“ Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent," &c. which was agreed to, and added accordingly.]