Abbildungen der Seite

stand 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 m 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 oodness 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 endeavor 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 holidaykeeping, 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 his commands, to him that professed his readiness, but neglected the work; the heretical but charitable Samaritan, to the uncharitable though orthodox priest and sanctified Levite; and those who gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, raiment to the naked, entertainment to the stranger, and relief to the sick, though they never heard of his name, he declares shall in the last day be accepted; when those who cry Lord! Lord! who value themselves upon their faith, though great enough to perform miracles, but have neglected good works, shall be rejected. He professed that he came, not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance; which implied his modest opinion that there were

some in his time so good that they need not hear even him for improvement; but, nowadays, we have scarce a little parson that does not think it the duty of every man within his reach to sit under his petty ministrations, and that whoever omits them offends God. I wish to such more humility, and to you health and happiness; being B. FRANKLIN.


DEAR KATY: Your kind letter of January 20th is but just come to hand, and I take this first opportunity of acknowledging the favor. It gives me great pleasure to hear that you got home safe and well that day. I thought too much was hazarded when I saw you put off to sea in that very little skiff, tossed by every wave. But the call was strong and just, a sick parent. I stood on the shore, and looked after you, till I could no longer distinguish you, even with my glass; then returned to your sister's, praying for your safe passage. Towards evening, all agreed that you must certainly be arrived before that time, the weather having been so favorable; which made me more easy and cheerful, for I had been truly concerned for you.

I left New England slowly, and with great reluctance. Short days’ journeys, and loitering visits on the road, manifested my unwillingness to quit a country in which I drew my first breath, spent my earliest and most pleasant days, and had now received so many fresh marks of the people's goodness and benevolence, in the kind and affectionate treatment I had everywhere met with. I almost forgot I had a home, till I was more than half-way towards it; till I had, one by one, parted with all my New England friends, and was got into the western borders of Connecticut, among mere strangers. Then, like an old man, who, having buried all he loved in this world, begins to think of heaven, I began to think of and wish for home; and, as I drew nearer, I found the attraction stronger and stronger. My diligence and speed increased with my impatience. I drove on violently, and made such long stretches that a very few days brought me to my own house, and to the arms of my good old wife and children, where I remain, thanks to God, at present well and happy.

Persons subject to the hyp complain of the north-east wind as increasing their malady; but, since you promised to send me kisses in that wind, and I find you as good as your word, it is to me the gayest wind that blows, and gives me the best spirits. I write this during a north-east storm of snow, the greatest we have had this winter. Your favors come mixed with the snowy fleeces, which are pure as your virgin innocence, white as your lovely bosom, and — as cold. But let it warm towards some worthy young man, and may Heaven bless you both with every kind of happiness! I desired Miss Anna Ward to send you over a little book I left with her, for your amusement in that lonely island. My respects to your good father and mother and sister. Let me often hear of your welfare, since it is not likely I shall ever again have the pleasure of seeing you. Accept mine and my wife's sincere thanks, for the many civilities I receive from you and your relations; and do me the justice to believe me, dear girl, your affectionate, faithful friend, and humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.

P. S. My respectful compliments to your good brother Ward, and sister; and to the agreeable family of the Wards at Newport, when you see them. Adieu.

[To MISS CATHERINE RAY.] - PHILADELPHIA, 11 September, 1755.

BEGONE, business, for an hour at least, and let me chat a little with my Katy.

I have now before me, my dear girl, three of your favors, namely, of March the 3d, March the 30th, and May the 1st. The first I received just before I set out on a long journey, and the others while I was on that journey, which held me near six weeks. Since my return, I have been in such a perpetual hurry of public affairs of various kinds, as renders it impracticable for me to keep up my private correspondences, even those that afforded me the greatest pleasure.

You ask, in your last, how I do, and what I am doing, and whether everybody loves me yet, and why I make them do so.

In regard to the first, I can say, thanks to God, that I do not remember I was ever better. I still relish all the pleasures of life that a temperate man can in reason desire, and through favor I have them all in my power. This happy situation shall continue as long as God pleases, who knows what is best for his creatures, and I hope will enable me to bear with patience and dutiful submission any change he may think fit to make, that is less agreeable. As to the second question, I must confess (but don't you be jealous), that many more people love me now than ever did before; for, since I saw you, I have been enabled to do some general services to the country, and to the army, for which both have thanked and praised me, and say they love me. They say so, as you used to do; and, if I were to ask any favors of them, they would, perhaps, as readily refuse me; so that I find little real advantage in being beloved, but it pleases my humor. Now it is near four months since I have been favored with a single line from you; but I will not be angry with you, because it is my fault. I ran in debt to you three or four letters; and, as I did not pay, you would not trust me any more, and you had some reason. But, believe me, I am honest; and, though I should never make equal returns, you shall see I will keep fair accounts. Equal returns I can never make, though I should write to you by every post; for the pleasure I receive from one of yours is more than you can have from two of mine. The small news, the domestic occurrences among our friends, the natural pictures you draw of persons, the sensible observations and reflections you make, and the easy, chatty manner in which you express everything, all contribute to heighten the pleasure; and the more as they remind me of those hours and miles that we talked away so agreeably, even in a winter journey, a wrong road, and a soaking shower. I long to hear whether you have continued ever since in that monastery; * or have broke into the world again, doing pretty mischief; how the lady Wards do, and how many of them are married, or about it ; what is become of Mr. B and Mr. L–, and what the state of your heart is at this instant. But that, perhaps, I ought not to know ; and, therefore, I will not conjure, as you sometimes say I do. If I could conjure, it should be to know what was that oddest question about me that ever was thought of, which you tell me a lady had just sent to ask you. I commend your prudent resolutions, in the article of granting favors to lovers. But, if I were courting you, I could not hardly approve such conduct. I should even be malicious enough to say you were too knowing, and tell you the old story of the Girl and the Miller. I enclose you the songs you write for, and with them your Spanish letter, with a translation. I honor that homest Spaniard for loving you. It showed the goodness of his taste and judgment. But you must forget him, and bless some worthy young Englishman. You have spun a long thread, five thousand and twenty-two yards. It will reach almost from Rhode Island hither. I wish I had hold of one end of it, to pull you to me. But you would break it rather than come. The cords of love and friendship are longer and stronger, and in times past have drawn me further,-even back from England to Philadelphia. I guess that some of the same kind will one day draw you out of that island. I was extremely pleased with the you sent me. The Irish people, who have seen it, say it is the right sort; but I cannot learn that we have anything like it here. The cheeses, particularly one of them, were excellent. All our friends have tasted it, and all agree that it exceeds any English cheese they ever tasted. Mrs. Franklin was very proud that a young lady should have so much regard for her old husband as to send him such a present. We talk of you every time it comes to table. She is sure you are a sensible girl, and a notable housewife, and talks of bequeathing me to you as a legacy; but I ought to wish you a better, and hope she will live these hundred years; for we are grown old together, and, if she has any faults, I am so used to them that I don't perceive them; as the song says,

* Block Island.

“Some faults we have all, and so has my Joan,
But then they’re exceedingly small,
And, now I’m grown used to them, so like my own
I scarcely can see them at all,
My dear friends,
I scarcely can see them at all.”

Indeed, I begin to think she has none, as I think of you. And, since she is willing I should love you as much as you are willing to be loved by me, let us join in wishing the old lady a long life and a happy. With her respectful compliments to you, to your good mother and sisters, present mine, though unknown; and believe me to be, dear girl, your affectionate friend and humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.

P. S. Sally says, “Papa, my love to Miss Katy.” If it was not quite unreasonable, I should desire you to write to me every post, whether you hear from me or not. As to your spelling, don't let those laughing girls put you out of conceit with it. It is the best in the world, for every letter of it stands for something.

« ZurückWeiter »