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like limbs of the body, acquire strength in exercise. But exercise produces habit; and in the instance of which we speak, the exercise, being of the moral feelings, produces a habit of thinking and acting virtuously. We never reflect whether the story we read be truth or fiction. I appeal to every reader of feeling and sentiment, whether the fictitious murder of Duncan by Macbeth in Shakspeare does not excite in him as great a horror of villainy as the real one of Henry IV. by Ravaillac, as related by Davila? And whether the fidelity of Nelson and generosity of Blandford in Marmontel do not dilate his breast and elevate his sentiments as much as any similar incident which real history can furnish? We are therefore wisely framed to be as warmly interested for a fictitious as for a real personage. The field of imagination is thus laid open to our use, and lessons may be formed to illustrate and carry home to the heart every moral rule of life. Thus a lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading “ King Lear” than by all the dry volumes of ethics and divinity that ever were written. This is my idea of well-written romance, or tragedy, comedy, and epic poetry
THE MORAL INFLUENCE OF SLAVERY.
(From "Notes on Virginia," 1782.) It is difficult to determine on the standard by which the manners of a nation may be tried, whether catholic or particular. It is more difficult for a native to bring to that standard the manners of his own nation, familiarized to him by habit. There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, – the most unremitting despotism on the one part and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self-love for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms; the child looks on, catches the lineaments
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of wrath, puts on the same airs, in the circle of smaller slaves gives a loose to the worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances. And with what execrations should the statesman be loaded who, permitting one-half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part and the amor patriæ of the other! For if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labor for another; in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavors to the evanishment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of the people, their industry is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labor for himself who can make another labor for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. And can the libertics of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God ? that they are not to be violated but with his wrath ? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever; that considering numbers, nature, and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest. But it is impossible to be temperate, and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will force their way into every one's mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying; the way, I hope, preparing under the auspices of heaven for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed in the order of events to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.
LETTER TO MR. HOPKINSON.
PARIS, December 23d, 1786. Dear Sir: My last letter to you was dated August 14th. Yours of May 27th and June 28th were not then received, but have been since. I take the liberty of putting under your cover another letter to Mrs. Champis, as also an inquiry after a Dr. Griffiths. A letter to M. Le Vieillard, from the person he had consulted about the essence L'Orient, will convey to you the result of my researches into that article. Your spring-block for assisting a vessel in sailing cannot be tried here; because the Seine being not more than about forty toises wide, and running swiftly, there is no such thing on it as a vessel with sails. I thank you for the volume of the Philadelphia transactions, which came safely to hand, and is in my opinion a very valuable volume, and contains many precious papers. The paccan-nut is, ils you conjecture, the Illinois nut. The former is the vulgar name south of the Potomac, as also with the Indians and Spaniards, and enters also into the botanical name, which is Juglano Paccan. I have many volumes of the “ Encyclopédie” for yourself and Dr. Franklin; but as a winter passage is bad for books, and before the spring the packets will begin to sail from Havre to New York, I shall detain them till then. You must not presume too strongly that your comb-footed bird is known to M. De Buffon. He did not know our panther. I gave him the stripped skin of one I bought in Philadelphia, and it presents him a new species, which will appear in his next volumes. I have convinced him that our deer is not a Chevreuil; and would you believe that many letters to different acquaintances in Virginia, where this animal is so common, have never enabled me to present him with a large pair of their horns, a blue and red skin stuffed, to show him their colors, at different seasons. He has never seen the horns of what we call the elk. This would decide whether it be an elk or a deer. I am very much pleased with your project on the harmonica, and the prospect of your succeeding in the application of keys to it.
It will be the greatest present which has been made to the musical world this eentury, not excepting the piano-forte. If its tone approaches that given by the finger as nearly only as the harpsichord does that of the harp, it will be very valuable. I have lately examined a foot-bass newly invented here by the celebrated Krumfoltz. It is precisely a piano-forte, about ten feet long, eighteen inches broad, and nine inches deep. It is of one octave only, from fa to fa. The part where the keys are, projects at the side in order to lengthen the levers of the keys. It is placed on the floor, and the harpsichord or other piano-forte is set over it, the foot acting in concert on that, while the fingers play on this. There are three unison chords to every note, of strong brass wire, and the lowest þave wire wrapped on them as the lowest in the piano-forte. The chords give a fine, clear, deep tone, almost like the pipe of an organ. Have they connected you with our mint? My friend Monroe promised me he would take care for you in that, or perhaps the establishment of that at New York may have been incompatible with your residence in Philadelphia. A person here has invented a method of coining the French écu of six livres, so as to strike both faces and the edge at one stroke, and makes a coin as beautiful as a medal. No country has ever yet produced such a coin. They are made cheaper too. As yet, he has only made a few to show the perfection of his manner. I am endeavoring to procure one to send to Congress as a model for their coinage. They will consider whether, on establishing a new mint, it will be worth while to buy his machines if he will furnish them. A dislocation of my right wrist, which happened to me about a month after the date of my last letter to you, has disabled me from writing three months. I do it now in pain, and only in cases of necessity or of strong inclination, having as yet no other use of my hand. I put under your cover a letter from my daughter to her friend. She joins me in respects to your good mother, to Mrs. Hopkinson and yourself, to whom I proffer assurances of the esteem with which I am, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.
LETTER TO DR. STYLES.
PARIS, July 17th, 1788. Sir: I have long deferred doing myself the honor of writing to you, wishing for an opportunity to accompany my letter with a copy of the “Bibliothèque Physico-economique”; a book published here lately in four small volumes, and which gives an account of all the improvements in the arts which have been made for some years past. I flatter myself
I flatter myself you will find in it many things agreeable and useful. I accompany it with the volumes of the Connoissance des Tems for the years 1781, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787. But why, you will ask, do I send you old almanacs, which are proverbially useless? Because in these publications have appeared, from time to time, some of the most precious things in astronomy. I have searched out those particular volumes which might be valuable to you on this account. That of 1781 contains De la Caille's catalogue of fixed stars reduced to the commencement of that year, and a table of the aberrations and mutations of the principal stars. 1784 contains the same catalogue with the nebuleuses of Messier. 1785 contains the famous catalogue of Flamsteed, with the positions of the stars reduced to the beginning of the year 1784, and which supersedes the use of that immense book. 1786 gives you Euler's lunar tables corrected; and 1787, the tables for the planet Herschel. The two last needed not an apology, as not being within the description of old almanacs. It is fixed on grounds which scarcely admit a doubt that the planet Herschel was seen by Mayer in the year 1756, and was considered by him as one of the zodiacal stars, and as such, arranged in his catalogue, being the 964th which he describes. This 964th of Mayer has been since missing, and the calculations for the planet Herschel show that it should have been, at the time of Mayer's observation, where he places his 964th
The volume of 1787 gives you Mayer's catalogue of the zodiacal stars. The researches of the natural philosophers of Europe seem mostly in the field of chemistry, and here principally on the subjects of air and fire. The analysis of these two subjects presents to us very new ideas. When speaking of the “Bibliothèque Physico-ceconomique,” I should have observed that since its publication, a man in this city has invented a method of moving a vessel on the water by a machine worked within the vessel. I went to see it. He did not know himself the principle of his own invention. It is a screw with a very broad thin worm, or rather it is a thin plate with its edge applied spirally round an axis. This being turned, operates on the air as a screw does, and may be literally said to screw the vessel along; the thinness of the medium, and its want of resistance, occasion a loss of much of the force. The screw, I think, would be more effectual if placed below the surface of the water. I very much suspect that a countryman of ours, Mr. Bushnel of Connecticut, is entitled to the merit of a prior discovery of this use of the screw. I remember to