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nourable confidence on which the interest and the prosperity of a commercial country so essentially depends.
To one argument which has been adduced, your committee are disposed to allow considerable weight, viz. that all the sureties or bondsmen for crown receivers of every kind, having become such, depending on their claims to this process in case of necessity, it would be unjust to deprive then of this weapon without notice; and that perhaps in equity, if not in law also, they might thereby be discharged of their responsibility.
To this it may be replied, that if it be so, notice may be given; and as far as experience can guide us, no great difficulty need be expected to arise. The situation of Receiver - General is too much sought after to excite any apprehension that it will not be able to find itself securities. In the case of the increase of surety required on account of the collection of the property-tax, no additional emo lument of poundage was granted; nor have the instances of default heen so frequent as to create alarm but should such a difficulty be unexpectedly found, it may casily be removed by lessening the balances now allowed to be retained, accelerating the payments into the Exchequer, and increasing the number of receivers: by all or any of which means the responsibility of the securities would be diminished, and the facility of obtaining them proportionally increased. On referring, however, to the evidence, it will be found that scarcely any surety has ever been called on, and that very few of the receivers, not being bankers, have ever employed the
process. It will also be seen that an intention has been declared, of not appointing bankers in future to these offices. Of the propriety of this supposed determination, or how far it may have been influenced by considerations connected with the subject of this report, your committee offer no opinion: but they have no hesitation in saying, that in the instances which have come before them, of the exercise of the power by banking-houses, the advantage of the individuals seems alone to have been attended to, without any reference to the safety of the
There are also various other embarrassments and vexations in the course of these proceedings, which, though small in comparison of the enormous grievances which have been detailed, are yet too considerable in themselves to be passed without observation, and which, your committee hope, will, ere long, he also subjected to legislative correction. Such are, the waste of the property by the sheriff's poundage, by forced and hasty sales, and by other expenses of the process, especially that of resistance, or the attempt to set aside the extent, which even when successful, must equally be borne by the insolvent's estate: the extending the operation of the writ to the debtor in the fourth degree, instead of the third; the issuing immediate extents instead of scire facias; the modes and rules of pleading, all too much in favour of maintaining that possession which is so hastily, and which, sometimes when too late, appears to have been unjustly obtained; and all of which, whether dependent on the rules of court, or otherwise,
otherwise, undoubtedly require a careful revision.
That these practices, though really so injurious, should have been permitted so long to exist, and of late even so greatly to increase, seems easily explicable from what has been already stated. It is but too much in the nature of all old establishments to be partial to their own modes: to be slow in perceiving their imperfections, and not very forward in correcting them, even when acknowledged, especially if risk be thereby incurred of diminishing their influence or jurisdiction. It has been already observed, that previous to 1814, the whole nunber of instances in which these writs were employed was comparatively very small, and the gross abuse of them still more rare, so that the call for reformation was neither loud nor urgent; but as soon as ever they began to be more known and used, the encroaching principle of power began to operate; each instance of their unjustifiable misapplication served also as a pretence for another, by way either of self-defence or reimbursement; and those persons with whom interest is the rule of action, eagerly sought the means of including themselves within the class so privileged, at the expense of their neighbours: while the profits arising to all the agents and officers engaged in the soliciting the issue, and the execution of the process, naturally induced them to facilitate it by every means which could be desired, and to recommend its adoption, till, by the concurrence of all these causes, the mischief was increasing with a rapidity which,
had it not been speedily checked, threatened to supersede all the fair and ordinary modes of recovering debts by the common course of law.
Your committee cannot conclude without expressing their satisfaction, that even during the consideration of this report, a bill has passed, which, in its present state, they trust will remedy much of the evil which they have been compelled to expose and to condemn. But as much power is still continued to some classes, in which are found individuals who have exerted it in the most censurable manner, they feel bound to recommend an increased vigilance over its exercise in every quarter in which it may be at all controlled, in order that it may be at least confined to the objects of its original intention. The laudable practice of the Post-office, the Board of Customs, and, perhaps, more prominently still, of the Excise, has shown not only how unnecessary extents in aid are to the security of the revenue, but how beneficially the solicitors to the public boards might be employed, in limiting their issue ; but your committee must observe that, in order to gain this advantage to its proper extent, the example of the Excise should also be followed in another point, which to them appears very important, viz.-that these solicitors should confine themselves to their official practice; or at least be absolutely prohibited from undertaking, for private individuals, the management of any affairs in which the revenue is at all concerned.
July 11, 1817.
LETTERS FROM THE PRIVATE COR- making the least direct return;
RESPONDENCE OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, LL.D. F.R.S. &c.
To GEORGE WHITEFIELD, (The Preacher.)
On Faith and Good Works.
Philadelphia, June 6, 1753.
RECEIVED your kind letter of the 2d instant, and am glad to hear that you increase in strength; I hope you will continue mending till you recover your former health and firmness. Let me know whether you still use the cold bath, and what effect it has.
As to the kindness you mention, I wish it could have been of more use to you. But if it had, the only thanks I should desire is, that you would always be equally ready to serve any other person that may need your assistance, and so let good offices go round; for mankind are all of a family.
For my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favours, but as paying debts. In my travels, and since my settlement, I have received much kindness from men, to whom I shall never have any opportunity of
and numberless inercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. Those kindnesses from men, I can therefore only return on their fellow men, and I can only show my gratitude for these mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children, and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks and compliments, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator. You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit heaven by them. By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree, and eternal in duration: I can do nothing to deserve such rewards. He that for giving a draught of water to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a good plantation, would be modest in his demands, compared with those who think they deserve heaven for the little good they do on earth. Even the mixed imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world, are rather from God's goodness than our merit: how much more such happiness of Heaven! For my part, I have not
the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect it, nor the ambition to desire it; but content myself in submitting to the will and disposal of that God who made me, who has hitherto preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he will never make me miserable; and that even the afflictions I may at any time suffer shall tend to my benefit.
The faith you mention has certainly its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I endeavour to lessen it in any man. But I wish it were more productive of good works, than I have generally seen it; I mean real good works; works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit; not holiday-keeping, sermon-reading, or hearing; performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity. The worship of God is a duty; the hearing and reading of sermons may be useful; but if men rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if a tree should value itself on being watered and putting forth leaves, though it never produced any fruit.
Your great Master thought much less of these outward appearances and professions, than many of his modern disciples. He preferred the doers of the word to the mere hearers; the son that seemingly refused to obey his father, and yet performed commands, to him
that professed his readiness but neglected the work; the heretical but charitable Samaritan, to the un
charitable though orthodox priest,
Your friend and servant,
ral part of them; the more I discovered of the former, the more I admired them; the more I know of the latter, the more I am disgusted with them. Men, I find to be a sort of beings very badly constructed, as they are generally more easily provoked than reconciled, to do mischief to each other than to make reparation, much more easily deceived than undeceived, and having more pride and even pleasure in killing than in begetting one another; for without a blush they assemble in great armies at noonday to destroy, and when they have killed as many as they can, they exaggerate the number to augment the fancied glory; but they creep into corners, or cover themselves with the darkness of night when they mean to beget, as being ashamed of a virtuous action. A virtuous action it would be, and a vicious one the killing of them, if the species were really worth producing or preserving; but of this I begin to doubt. I know you have no such doubts, because in your zeal for their welfare, you are taking a great deal of pains to save their souls. Perhaps as you grow older, you may look upon this as a hopeless project, or an idle amusement, repent of having murdered in mephitic air so many honest, harmless mice, and wish that to prevent mischief you had used boys and girls instead of them. In what light we are viewed by superior beings, may be gathered from a piece of late West-India news, which possibly has not yet reached you. A young angel of distinction being sent down to this world on some business, for the first time, had an old courier-spirit assigned him as a
guide; they arrived over the seas of Martinico, in the middle of the long day of obstinate fight between the fleets of Rodney and De Grasse. When through the clouds of smoke he saw the fire of the guns, the decks covered with mangled limbs, and bodies deal or dying; the ships sinking, burning, or blown into the air; and the quantity of pain, misery, and destruction, the crews yet alive were thus with so much eagerness dealing round to one another; he turned angrily to his guide, and said, you blundering blockhead, you are ignorant of your business; you undertook to conduct me to the earth, and you have brought me into hell! No, Sir, says the guide, I have made no mistake; this is really the earth, and these are men. Devils never treat one another in this cruel manner; they have more sense, and more of what men (vainly) call humanity.