« ZurückWeiter »
know not how soon we may again have occasion for all of them. With great and sincere esteem, I have the honour to be, Rev. Sir, Your most obedient and
Most humole ser 'ant,
B. FRANKLIN. fussy, May 12th, I784.
Wiies 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 wliistle 1 And st' 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 ?nttch for their whistle.
When I saw any one too ambitious of court fa, tours, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees. iis 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/or 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 pleasure: you give too much for your whistle.
If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine 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 sweettempered girl, married 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 miseries 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 Supirintendency of
Iaddress 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 ui i 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 needle, I was bitterly rebuked; and more than one ] 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 nry sistei ana 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 rheumatism, and cramp, without makingmention 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 o
(he injustice of an exclusive tenderness, and cf ll* 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.'
Theue 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 companv.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 better and worse dressed: in whatever climate, they will find good and bad weather: under whatever government, they may fin I good and bad laws, and good and bad administration of those laws: in whatever
fioem, or work of genius, they may see faults and leauties: in almost every face, and every person, they may discover fine features and defects, good and bad qualities.
Under these circumstances, the two sorts of people above mentioned fix their attention; those who are disposed to he happy, on the conveniences of things, the pleasant parts of conversation, the well-dressed dishes, the goodness of the wines, the fine weather, .fee. and enjoy all with cheerfulness. Those who are to be unhappy, think and speak only of the contraries. Hence they are continually discontented themselves, and, by their remarks, sour the pleasures of society; offend personally many people, and make themselves everywhere disagreeable. I 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 hp.bit, which, though at present strong, may nevertheless be cured, when those who have it are onvinced 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 w lich, though in the exercise it is chiefly an act of imagination, yet it has serious consequences in life, as it brings on real griefs and misfortunes. For as many as are offended by, and nobody loves, tl.is sort of people; no one shows them more than the most common civility and respect, and scarcely that; and this frequently puts them out of humour, and draws them into disputes and contentions. If they aim at obtaining some advantage in rank or fortune cbody wishes them success, or will stir a step, opeak a word to favour their pretensions. If they . mcur public censure or disgrace, no one will defend or excuse, and many join to aggravate their misconduct, and render them completely odious. If these people will not change this bad habit, and conde- , ecend to be pleased with what is pleasing, without fretting themselves or others about the contraries, it is good for others to avoid an acquaintance with them, which is always disagreeable, and sometimes very inconvenient, especially when one fmds one's self entangled in their quarrels.
An old philosophical friend of mine was grown, from experience, very cautious in this particular, and carefully avoided any intimacy with such people. He had, like other philosophers, a thermometer to show him the heat of the weather; and a barometer to mark when it was likely to prove good or bad i but there being no instrument invented to discover, at first sight, this unpieasing disposition in a person, he, for that purpose, made use of his legs: one of which was remarkably handsome; the other, by some accident, crooked and deformed. If a stranger, at first interview, regarded his ugly leg more than is handsome one, he doubted him. If he spoke o)t, and took no notice of the handsome leg, that wa umcient to determine my philosopher to have no further acquaintance with him. Every body has not this two-legged instrument; but every one, with a little attention, may observe signs of that carping, fault-finding disposition, and take the same resolution of avoiding the acquaintance of those infected with it. I therefore advise those critical, querulous, discontented, unhappy people, if theywish to be re