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[To Miss E. HUBBARD.]*
— I condole with you. We have lost a most dear and valuable relation. But it is the will of God and nature that these mortal bodies be laid aside when the soul is to enter into real life. This is rather an embryo state, a preparation for living. A man is not completely born until he be dead. Why, then, should we grieve that a new child is born among the immortals, a new member added to their happy society ?
We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or in doing good to our fellow-creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes, and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid become an encumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We ourselves, in some cases, prudently choose a partial death. A mangled, painful limb, which cannot be restored, we willingly cut off. He who plucks out a tooth parts with it freely, since the pain goes with it; and he who quits the whole body parts at once with all pains, and possibilities of pains and diseases, which it was liable to, or capable of making him suffer.
Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure, which is to last forever. His chair was ready first, and he is gone before us. We could not all conveniently start together; and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him 2 Adieu.
[To HIs wiFE.] Humorous Rebuke. “EAston, Saturday morning, Nov. 13, 1756. My DEAR CHILD : I wrote to you a few days since, by a special
messenger, and enclosed letters for all our wives and sweethearts, expecting to hear from you by his return, and to have the northern newspapers and English letters, per the packet; but he is just now returned without a scrap for poor us. So I had a good mind not to write to you by this opportunity; but I never can be ill-natured enough, even when there is the most occasion. The messenger says he left the letters at your house, and saw you afterwards at Mr. Dentie's and told you when he would go, and that he lodged at Honey's, next door to you, and yet you did not write; so let Goody Smith give one more just judgment, and say what should be done to you; I think I won't tell you that we are well, nor that we expect to return about the middle of the week, nor will Isend you a word of news; that's poz. My duty to mother, love to the children, and to Miss Betsey and Gracey, &c. &c. B. FRANKLIN.
* John Franklin married a second wife, by the name of Hubbard, a widow. Miss E. Hubbard, to whom this letter was addressed, was her daughter by a former marriage.
P. S. —I have scratched out the loving words, being writ in haste, by mistake, when I forgot I was angry.
His Lordship's Principles of Equity—Franklin's Plan of Writing
My DEAR LoRD : I have endeavored to comply with your request in writing something on the present situation of our affairs in America, in order to give more correct notions of the British interest, with regard to the colonies, than those I found many sensible men possessed of Enclosed you have the production, such as it is. I wish it may, in any degree, be of service to the public. I shall, at least, hope this from it, for my own part, — that you will consider it as a letter from me to you, and take its length as some excuse for being so long a-coming.
I am now reading with great pleasure and improvement your excellent work, The Principles of Equity. It will be of the greatest advantage to the judges in our colonies, not only in those which have courts of chancery, but also in those which, having no such courts, are obliged to mix equity with common law. It will be of more service to the colony judges, as few of them have been bred to the law. I have sent a book to a particular friend, one of the judges of the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania,
I will shortly send you a copy of the chapter you are pleased to mention in so obliging a manner; and shall be extremely obliged in receiving a copy of the collection of Maxims for the
Conduct of Life, which you are preparing for the use of your children. I purpose, likewise, a little work for the benefit of youth, to be called the Art of Virtue.* From the title, I think you will hardly conjecture what the nature of such a book may be. I must, therefore, explain it a little. Many people lead bad lives, that would gladly lead good ones, but know not how to make the change. They have frequently resolved and endearored it, but in vain; because their endeavors have not been properly conducted. To expect people to be good, to be just, to be temperate, &c., without showing them how they should become so, seems like the ineffectual charity mentioned by the apostle, which consisted in saying to the hungry, the cold and the naked, be ye fed, be ye warmed, be ye clothed, without showing them how they should get food, fire or clothing. Most people have, naturally, some virtues, but none have naturally all the virtues. To acquire those that are wanting, and secure what we acquire, as well as those we have naturally, is the subject of an art. It is as properly an art as painting, navigation or architecture. If a man would become a painter, navigator or architect, it is not enough that he is advised to be one, that he is convinced by the arguments of his adviser that it would be for his advantage to be one, and that he resolves to be one; but he must also be taught the principles of the art, be shown all the methods of working, and how to acquire the habits of using properly all the instruments; and thus, regularly and gradually, he arrives, by practice, at some perfection in the art. If he does not proceed thus, he is apt to meet with difficulties that discourage him, and make him drop the pursuit. My Art of Virtue has also its instruments, and teaches the manner of using them. Christians are directed to have faith in Christ, as the effectual means of obtaining the change they desire. It may, when sufficiently strong, be effectual with many : for a full opinion that a teacher is infinitely wise, good and powerful, and that he will certainly reward and punish the obedient and disobedient, must give great weight to his precepts, and make them much more attended to by his disciples. But many have this faith in so weak a degree, that it does not produce the effect. Our Art of Virtue may, therefore, be of great service to those whose faith is, unhappily, not so strong, and may come in aid of its weakness. Such as are naturally well disposed, and have been carefully educated, so that good habits have been early established, and bad ones prevented, have less need of this art; but all may be more or less benefited by it. It is, in short, to be adapted for universal use. I imagine what I have now been writing will seem to savor of great presumption; I must, therefore, speedily finish my little piece, and communicate the manuscript to you, that you may judge whether it is possible to make good such pretensions. I shall, at the same time, hope for the benefit of your corrections. B. FRANKLIN.
* The plan was never carried out. See some account of it in the Autobiography.
[To MISS MARY STEVENSON.]
CRAven-STREET, May 16, 1760.
I SEND my good girl the books I mentioned to her last night. I beg her to accept of them as a small mark of my esteem and friendship. They are written in the familiar, easy manner for which the French are so remarkable, and afford a good deal of philosophic and practical knowledge, unembarrassed with the dry mathematics used by more exact reasoners, but which is apt to discourage young beginners.
I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious, or that may be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory, where they will be ready, either for practice on some future occasion, if they are matters of utility, or, at least, to adorn and improve your conversation, if they are rather points of curiosity; and, as many of the terms of science are such as you cannot have met with in your common reading, and may therefore be unacquainted with, I think it would be well for you to have a good dictionary at hand, to consult immediately when you meet with a word you do not comprehend the precise meaning of.
This may, at first, seem troublesome and interrupting; but it is a trouble that will daily diminish, as you will daily find less and less occasion for your dictionary, as you become more acquainted with the terms; and, in the mean time, you will read with more satisfaction, because with more understanding. When any point occurs in which you would be glad to have further information than your book affords you, I beg you would not in the least apprehend that I should think it a trouble to receive and answer your questions. It will be a pleasure, and no trouble. For though I may not be able, out of my own little stock of knowledge, to afford you what you require, I can easily direct you to the books where it may most readily be found. Adieu, and believe me ever, my dear friend,
[To GEORGE whiteFIELD.]
DEAR FRIEND: I received your favors of the 21st past, and of the 3d instant, and immediately sent the enclosed as directed.
Your frequently repeated wishes for my eternal, as well as my temporal happiness, are very obliging, and I can only thank you for them and offer you mine in return. I have myself no doubt that I shall enjoy as much of both as is proper for me. That Being who gave me existence, and through almost three-score years has been continually showering his favors upon me, whose very chastisements have been blessings to me. — can I doubt that He loves me? And, if He loves me, can I doubt that He will go on to take care of me, not only here, but hereafter ? This to some may seem presumption; to me it appears the best-grounded hope, – hope of the future built on experience of the past.
By the accounts I have of your late labors, I conclude your health is mended by your journey, which gives me pleasure. Mrs. Franklin presents her cordial respects, with, dear sir, your affectionate humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.
P. S. We hope you will not be deterred from visiting your friends here by the bugbear Boston account of the unhealthiness of Philadelphia. *
[TO THE EDITOR of A LONDON NEWSPAPER.] Satirical Defence of Newspaper Paragraphs and their False Reports.
Monday, 20 May, 1765. SIR: In your paper of Wednesday last, an ingenious correspondent, who calls himself THE SPECTATOR, and dates from Pimlico, under the guise of good-will to news-writers, whom he