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following night by candle-light; 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 tho' 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 our's, he rising during the six following months from six to eight hours before noon, and there being seven hours of course per night in which we burn candles, the account will stand thusIn 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 candles
7 Multiplication gives for the total number of hours
1,281 These 1,281 hours multiplied by 100,000
the number of families, give • 128,100,000 One hundred twenty-eight millions and
one hundred thousand hours, spent at Paris by candle-light, which, at half a pound of wax and tallow per hour, gives the weight of
Sixty-four millions and fifty thousand of
pounds, which, estimating the whole at the medium price of thirty sols the pound, makes the sum of ninety-six millions and seventy-five thousand livres tournois
- 96,075,000 an immense sum! which 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 which 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, which 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 coaches, &c. which would
the streets after sunset, except those of physicians, surgeons, and midwives. Fourth. Every morning, as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set a ringing: and if that be not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street, to waken the sluggards effectu. ally, 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 present irregularity; for “ce n'est que le premier pas qui coûte.” 0. blige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is more than probable he will 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, tho? the days be 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 cheaper as long as the proposed reformation shall be 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, or any other reward whatever. I expect 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 that the sun would rise at certain hours; they possibly had, as we have, almanacks which predicted it: but it does not follow 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 must have been long since forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the mod
erns, 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 reason to be economical. I say it is impossible that so 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, &c.
a true story.
WRITTEN TO HIS NEPHEW
When I was a child, at seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pockets with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, which I saw by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered him all my money for one. 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 iny 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.
grew up, I came into the world, and observing the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle. When I see 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 say to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle. When I see another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting bis own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect: He pays, indeed, say I, too much for his whistle. If I know a miser, who gives up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure 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! say I, you do indeed 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 coporeal sensa. țions; Mistaken man, say I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure : you give too much for your whistle. If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipage, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison; Alas! say !, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle. When I see a beautiful sweet tempered girl, married to an ill-natured brute