Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tion on this score. But this cannot be, and you have within yourself the only resource to which we can confidently apply for relief, a philosophic mind.

If to be venerated for benevolence, if to be admired for talents, if to be esteemed for patriotism, if to be beloved for philanthropy, can gratify the human mind, you must have the pleasing consolation to know, that you have not lived in vain. And I flatter myself that it will not be ranked among the least grateful occurrences of your life to be assured, that, so long as I retain my memory, you will be recollected with respect, veneration, and affection by your sincere friend,

GEORGE WASHINGTON.

TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN. Memoirs of his Life. Rules for Composition. Congress. - Parable against Persecution.

Philadelphia, 2 November, 1789. MY DEAREST FRIEND, I received your kind letter of August 8th. I thank you much for your intimations of the virtues of hemlock, but I have tried so many things with so little effect, that I am quite discouraged, and have no longer any faith in remedies for the stone. The palliating system is what I am now fixed in. Opium gives me ease when I am attacked by pain, and by the use of it I still make life at least tolerable. Not being able, however, to bear sitting to write, I now make use of the hand of one of my grandsons, dictating to him from my bed.

I wish, indeed, I had tried this method sooner; for so, I think, I might by this time have finished my Memoirs, in which I have made no progress for these VOL. X.

HH

six months past. I have now taken the resolution to endeavour completing them in this way of dictating to an amanuensis. What is already done, I now send you, with an earnest request that you and my good friend Dr. Price would be so good as to take the trouble of reading it, critically examining it, and giving me your candid opinion whether I had best publish or suppress it; and if the first, then what parts had better be expunged or altered. I shall rely upon your opinions, for I am now grown so old and feeble in mind, as well as body, that I cannot place any confidence in my own judgment. In the mean time, I desire and expect that you will not suffer any copy of it, or of any part of it, to be taken for any purpose whatever.

You present me with a pleasing idea of the happiness I might have enjoyed in a certain great house, and in the conversation of its excellent owner, and his well chosen guests, if I could have spent some more time in England. That is now become impossible. My best wishes, however, attend him and his amiable son, in whose promising virtues and abilities I am persuaded the father will find much satisfaction,

The revolution in France is truly surprising. I sincerely wish it may end in establishing a good constitution for that country. The mischiefs and troubles it suffers in the operation, however, give me great concern.

You request advice from me respecting your conduct and writings, and desire me to tell you their faults. As to your conduct, I know of nothing that looks like a fault, except your declining to act in any public station, although you are certainly qualified to do much public good in many you must have had it in your power to occupy. In respect to your writings, your lan

guage seems to me to be good and pure, and your sentiments generally just; but your style or composition wants perspicuity, and this I think owing principally to a neglect of method. What I would therefore recommend to you is, that, before you sit down to write on any subject, you would spend some days in considering it, putting down at the same time, in short hints, every thought which occurs to you as proper to make a part of your intended piece. When you have thus obtained a collection of the thoughts, examine them carefully with this view, to find which of them is properest to be presented first to the mind of the reader, that he, being possessed of that, may the more easily understand it, and be better disposed to receive what you intend for the second; and thus I would have you put a figure before each thought, to mark its future place in your composition. For so, every preceding proposition preparing the mind for that which is to follow, and the reader often anticipating it, he proceeds with ease, and pleasure, and approbation, as seeming continually to meet with his own thoughts. In this mode you have a better chance for a perfect production; because, the mind attending first to the sentiments alone, next to the method alone, each part is likely to be better performed, and I think too in less time. 19. You see I give my counsel rather bluntly, without attempting to soften my manner of finding fault by any apology, which would give some people great offence; but in the present situation of affairs between us, when I am soliciting the advantage of your criticisms on a work of mine, it is perhaps my interest that you should be a little offended, in order to produce a greater degree of wholesome severity. I think with you, that, if my Memoirs are to be published, an edition of them

dIn

[ocr errors]

six months past. I have now taken the resolution to endeavour completing them in this way of dictating to an amanuensis. What is already done, I now send you, with an earnest request that you and my good friend Dr. Price would be so good as to take the trouble of reading it, critically examining it, and giving me your candid opinion whether I had best publish or suppress it; and if the first, then what parts had better be expunged or altered. I shall rely upon your opinions, for I am now grown so old and feeble in mind, as well as body, that I cannot place any confidence in my own judgment. In the mean time, I desire and expect that you will not suffer any copy of it, or of any part of it, to be taken for any purpose whatever.

You present me with a pleasing idea of the happiness I might have enjoyed in a certain great house, and in the conversation of its excellent owner, and his well chosen guests, if I could have spent some more time in England. That is now become impossible. My best wishes, however, attend him and his amiable son, in whose promising virtues and abilities I am persuaded the father will find much satisfaction.

The revolution in France is truly surprising. I sincerely wish it may end in establishing a good constitution for that country. The mischiefs and troubles it suffers in the operation, however, give me great concern.

You request advice from me respecting your conduct and writings, and desire me to tell you their faults. As to your conduct, I know of nothing that looks like a fault, except your declining to act in any public station, although you are certainly qualified to do much public good in many you must have had it in your power to occupy. In respect to your writings, your lan

guage seems to me to be good and pure, and your sentiments generally just; but your style or composition wants perspicuity, and this I think owing principally to a neglect of method. What I would therefore recommend to you is, that, before you sit down to write on any subject, you would spend some days in considering it, putting down at the same time, in short hints, every thought which occurs to you as proper to make a part of your intended piece. When you have thus obtained a collection of the thoughts, examine them carefully with this view, to find which of them is properest to be presented first to the mind of the reader, that he, being possessed of that, may the more easily understand it, and be better disposed to receive what you intend for the second; and thus I would have you put a figure before each thought, to mark its future place in your composition. For so, every preceding proposition preparing the mind for that which is to follow, and the reader often anticipating it, he proceeds with ease, and pleasure, and approbation, as seeming continually to meet with his own thoughts. In this mode you have a better chance for a perfect production; because, the mind attending first to the sentiments alone, next to the method alone, each part is likely to be better performed, and I think too in less time.

You see I give my counsel rather bluntly, without attempting to soften my manner of finding fault by any apology, which would give some people great offence; but in the present situation of affairs between us, when I am soliciting the advantage of your criticisms on a work of mine, it is perhaps my interest that you should be a little offended, in order to produce a greater de. gree of wholesome severity. I think with you, that, if my Memoirs are to be published, an edition of them

COU

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »