Vie de Benjamin Franklin, écrite par lui-même - Tome II suivie de ses œuvres morales, politiques et littéraires

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 29

une aussi intolérable
injustice, que celle qui accompagne la presse des matelots.

Pour mieux me faire entendre, je ferai d'abord deux observations. La
première, c'est qu'on pourroit avoir pour les vaisseaux de guerre des
matelots de bonne volonté, si l'on les payoit suffisamment. Ce qui le
prouve, c'est que pour servir dans ces vaisseaux et courir les mêmes
dangers, on n'a besoin de presser ni les capitaines, ni les lieutenans,
ni les gardes-marine, ni les trésoriers, ni beaucoup d'autres officiers.
Pourquoi? Parce que les profits de leurs places ou leurs émolumens, sont
d'assez puissans motifs pour les leur faire rechercher. Il ne faudroit
donc que trouver assez d'argent pour engager les matelots à servir de
bonne volonté comme leurs officiers, sans mettre pourtant de nouveaux
impôts sur le commerce.

La seconde de mes observations est que vingt-cinq schellings par mois
avec une ration de boeuf, de porc salé et de pois, étant jugés suffisans
pour faire subsister un matelot qui travaille beaucoup, ils doivent
suffire aussi à un homme de plume et à un jurisconsulte sédentaire. Je
voudrais donc qu'on établit une caisse, qui serviroit à donner des
récompenses aux marins. Pour remplir cette caisse, je proposerois de
presser un grand nombre d'officiers civils, qui ont à présent de gros
salaires, et de les obliger à remplir leurs emplois pour vingt-cinq
schellings par mois, avec une ration pareille à celle des gens de mer,
afin de verser le surplus de leurs salaires dans la caisse des matelots.

Si l'on me chargeoit de faire exécuter l'ordre d'une telle presse, le
premier que je ferois presser seroit un assesseur de Bristol, ou un juge
nommé _Foster_. J'aurois besoin de son édifiant exemple, pour montrer
comment on doit se soumettre à la presse, car il trouveroit assurément
que, quoique ce soit un _mal particulier_ d'être réduit à vingt-cinq
schellings par mois, il faut, conformément à sa maxime légale et
politique, _le supporter avec patience_, afin de prévenir une calamité
nationale.

Alors, je presserois le reste des juges; et ouvrant le livre rouge, je
n'oublierois aucun des officiers civils du gouvernement, depuis ceux qui
n'ont qu'un salaire de cinquante livres sterlings par an, jusqu'à ceux
qui en ont cinquante mille. Ces messieurs n'auroient pas à se plaindre,
puisqu'ils recevroient vingt-cinq schellings par mois, avec une ration;
et encore sans être obligés de combattre. Enfin, je crois que je ferois
presser ***.

[18] Ce morceau est composé de diverses notes, que Franklin avoit
écrites avec un crayon, sur les marges d'un exemplaire de la fameuse
_Apologie de la Presse des Matelots_, par le juge Foster.




SUR

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