« ZurückWeiter »
him after my first trip to Pennsylvania. He received me in his library; and, on my taking leave, showed me a shorter way out of the house, through a narrow passage, which, was crossed by a beam over head. We were still talking as I withdrew, he accompanying me behind, and I turning partly towards him, when he said hastily, "Stoop! stoop!" I did not understand him till I felt my head hit against the beam. He was a man who never missed any occasion of giving instruction; and upon this he said to me: "You are young, and have the world before you: stoop as you go through it, and you will miss many hard thumps." This advice, thus beat into my head, has frequently been of use to me; and I often think of it when I see pride mortified and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high.
I long much to see again my native place; and once hoped to lay my bones there. I left it in 1723. I visited it in 1733,1743, 1753, and 1763; and in 1773 I was in England. In 1775 I had a sight of it, but could not enter, it being in possession of the enemy. I did hope to have been there in 1783, but could not obtain my dismission from this employment here; and now I fear I shall never have that happiness. My best wishes however attend my dear country, “esto perpetua." It is now blessed with an excellent constitution: may it last for ever!
This powerful monarchy continues its friendship for the United States. It is a friendship of the utmost importance to our security, and should be carefully cultivated. Britain has not yet well digested the loss of its dominion over us; and has still at times some flattering hopes of recovering it. Accidents may increase those hopes, and encourage dan gerous attempts. A breach between us and France would infallibly bring the English again upon our backs: and yet we have some wild beasts among our countrymen, who are endeavouring to weaken that connexion.
Let us preserve our reputation, by performing our engagements; our credit, by fulfilling our contracts; and our friends, by gratitude and kindness: for we
know not how soon we may again have occasion for all of them.
With great and sincere esteem,
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient and
Passy, May 12th, 1784.
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, that I met 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 my 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.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for their whistle.
When I saw 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 have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect; He pays indeed, says I, too much for his whistle.
If I knew a miser, who gave 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, says 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 corporeal sensations; Mistaken man, says I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of plea sure you give too much for your whistle.
If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fing equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison; Alas, says I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.
When I see a beautiful sweet tempered girl, mar ried to an ill-natured brute of a husband; What a pity it is, says I, that she has paid so much for a whistle.
In short, I conceived that great part of the mise, ries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
To those who have the Superintendency of
I ADDRESS myself to all the friends of youth, and conjure them to direct their compassionate regards to my unhappy fate, in order to remove the prejudices of which I am the victim. There are twin sisters of us; and the two eyes of man do not more resemble, nor are capable of being upon better terms with each
other, than my sister and myself, were it not for the partiality of our parents, who made the most injurious distinctions between us. From my infancy, I have been led to consider my sister as a being of a more elevated rank. I was suffered to grow up without the least instruction, while nothing was spared in her education. She had masters to teach her writing, drawing, music, and other accomplishments; but if, by chance, I touched a pencil, a pen, or a needle, I was bitterly rebuked; and more than once I have been beaten for being awkward, and wanting a graceful manner. It is true, my sister associated me with her upon some occasions; but she always made a point of taking the lead, calling upon me only from necessity, or to figure by her side.
But conceive not, Sirs, that my complaints are instigated merely by vanity-No; my uneasiness is occasioned by an object much more serious. It is the practice in our family, that the whole business of providing for its subsistence falls upon my sister and myself. If any indisposition should attack my sister and I mention it in confidence upon this occasion, that she is subject to the gout, the rhumatism, and cramp, without making mention of other accidents-what would be the fate of our poor family? Must not the regret of our parents be excessive, at having placed so great a difference between sisters who are so perfectly equal? Alas! we must perish from distress: for it would not be in my power even to scrawl a suppliant petition for relief, having been obliged to employ the hand of another in transcribing the request which I have now the honour to prefer to you.
Condescend, Sirs, to make my parents sensible of the injustice of an exclusive tenderness, and of the necessity of distributing their care and affection among all their children equally.
I am, with a profound respect,
Your obedient servant,
THE LEFT HAND
HANDSOME AND DEFORMED LEG.
THERE are two sorts of people in the world, who, with equal degrees of health and wealth, and the other comforts of life, become, the one happy, and the other miserable. This arises very much from the different views in which they consider things, persons, and events; and the effect of those different views upon their own minds.
In whatever situation men can be placed, they may find conveniences and inconveniences. in whatever company,they may find persons and conversation more or less pleasing: at whatever table, they may meet with meats and drinks of better and worse taste, dishes bet. ter and worse dressed in whatever climate, they will find good and bad weather: under whatever government, they may find good and bad laws, and good and bad administration of those laws: in whatever poem, or work of genius, they may see faults and beauties: in almost every face, and every person, they may discover fine features and defects, good and bad qualites.
Under these circumstances, the two sorts of peo ple above mentioned fix their attention; those who are disposed to be happy, on the conveniences of things, the pleasant parts of conversation, the welldressed dishes, the goodness of the wines, the fine weather, &c. and enjoy all with cheerfulness. Those who are to be unhappy, think and speak only of the contrarieties. Hence they are continually discon tented themselves, and, by their remarks, sour the pleasures of society; offend personally many people, and make themselves every where disagreeable. If this turn of mind was founded in nature, such unhappy persons would be the more to be pitied. But as the disposition to criticise, and to be disgusted, is, perhaps, taken up originally by imitation, and is, unawares, grown into a habit, which, though at present strong, may nevertheless be cured, when those who have it are convinced of its bad effect on their felicity; I hope this little admonition may be of service to them, and put them on changing a habit