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supportable, as being no otherwise capable of inditgence than by an indiscriminate contradiction. Independently of the acrimony and discord it introduces into conversation, and is often productive of dislike, and even hatred, between persons to whom friend. ship is indispensably necessary. I acquired it by reading, while I lived with my father, books of reli. gious controversy. I have since remarked, that inen of sense seldom fall into this error; lawyers, fellows of universities, and persons of every profession edu. cated at Edinburgh, excepted.
Collins and I fell one day into an argument, relative to the education of women ; namely; "hether it was proper to instruct them in the sciences, and whether they were competent to the study. Collins supported the negative, and affirmed that the task was beyond their capacity. ! maintained the opposite opinion, a little perhaps for the pleasure of dis. puting. He was natually more eloquent than !; words flowed copiously from his lips; and frequently I thought myself vanquished, more by his volubility than by the force of his arguments. We separated without coming to an agreement upon this point, and as we were not to see each other again for some time, I committed my thoughts to paper, made a fair copy, and sent it to him. He answered, and I replied i Three or four letters had been written by each, when my father chanced to light upon my papers and read them. Without entering into the merits of the cause, he embraced the opportunity of speaking to me upon my manner of writing. He observed, that though I had the advantage of my adversary in correct spell, ing and pointing, which I owed to my occupation, I was greatly lis inferior in elegance of expression, in arrangement, and perspicuity. Of this he convinced me by several examples. felt the justice of his re: marks, became more attentive to language, and resolved to make every effort to improve my style.
Amidst these resolves an odd volume of the Spec, tator fell into my hands. This was a publication I had never seen. I bought the volume, and read it again and again. I was enchanted with it, thought a the style excellent, and wished it were in my power
to imitate it. With this view I selected some of the papers, made slıort summaries of the sense of each period, and put them for a few days aside. I then, without looking at the book, endeavoured to restore the essays to their due form, and to express each thought at length, as it was in the original, employ. ing the most appropriate words that occurred to my mind. I afterwards compared my Spectator with the original ; 1 perceived some faults, which I corrected; but I found that I wanted a fund of words, if I may so express myself, and a facility of recollecting and employing them, which I thought I should by that time have acquired, had I continued to make verses. The continual need of words of the same-meaning, but of different lengths for the measure, or of different sounds for the rhy me, would have obliged me to seek for a variety of synonymes, and have rendered me master of them. From this belief, I took some of the tales of the Spectator and turned them into verse ; and, after a time, when I had sufficiently forgotten them, I again converted them into prose.
Sometimes also I mingled all my summaries together; apil, a few weeks after, endeavoured to arrange them in the best order, before I attempted to form the periods and complete the essays. This I did with a view of acquiring method in the arrangement of my thoughts. On comparing, afterwards, my performance with the original, many faults were apparent, which I corrected; but I had sometimes the satisfaction to think, that in certain particulars of little importance, I had been fortunate enough to improve ihe order of thought or the style, and this encouraged me to hope that I should succeed, in time, in writing decently in the English language, which was one of the great objects of my ambition.
The time which I devoted to these exercises, and to reading, was the evening after my day's labour was finished, the morning before it began, and Sundays when I could escape attending Divine service. While I lived with my father, he had insisted on my punctual attendance on public worship, and I ftill indeed considered it as a duty, but a duty which I thought I had no time to practise.
When about sixteen years of age, a work of Tryou fell into my hands, in which he recommends vegeta• ble diet. I determined to observe it. My brother being a bachelor, did not keep house, but boarded with his apprentices in a neighbouring family. My refus. ing to eat animal food was found inconvenient, and I was often scolded for my singularity. I attended to the mode in which Tryon prepared some of his dishes, particularly how to boil potatoes and rice, and make hasty puddings. I then said to my brother, that if he would allow me per week half what he paid for my board, I would undertake to maintain myself. The offer was instantly embraced, and I soon found that of what he gave me I was able to save half. This was a new fund for the purchase of books; and other advantages resulted to me from the plan. When my br ther and his workmen left the printing-house to go to dinner, I remained behind, and vespatching my frugal meal, which fre. quently consisted of a biscuit only, or a slice of bread and a bunch of raisins, or a bun from the pas. try cook's, with a glass of water, I had the rest of the time, till their return, for stully; and my progress therein was proportioned to that citarness of ideas, and quickness of conception, which are the fruit of temperance in eating and drinking.
It was abop this period that, having one day been put to the blush for my ignorance in the art of cal. culation, which I had twice failed to learn while at school, I took Cocker's Treatise of Arithmetic, and went through it myself with the utmost ease. I also read a book of Navigation by Seller and Sturmy, and made myself master of the little geometry it contains, but I never proceeded far in this science. Nearly at the same time, I read Locke on the Human Understanding, and the Art of Thinking, by Messrs. Du Port Royal.
While labouring to form and improve my style, I met with an English Grammar, which I believe was Greenwood's, having at the end of it two little essays on rhetoric and logic. In the latter I found a model of disputation after the manner of Socrates. Shortly after I procured Xenophon’s work, entitled, Memoré
der ble Things of Socrates, in which are various exam, ski ples of the same method. Charmed to a degree of the enthusiasm with this mode of disputing, I adopted it, delle and renouncing blunt contradiction, and direct and le positive argument, I assumed the character of a hum. en ble questioner. The perusal of Shaftsbury and Colalte lins had made me a sceptic; and, being previously so
as to many doctrines of Christianity, I found Socra. tes' method to be both the safest for myself, as well
as the most embarrassing to those against whom I met employed it. It soon afforded me singular pleasure ;
I incessantly practised it; and became very adroit in 8,0 obtaining, even from persons of superior understand= ing, concessions of which they did not foresee the ur consequence. Thus l'involved them in difficulties molt from which they were unable to extricate themselves,
and sometimes obtained victories, which neither my cause nor my arguments merited.
This method I continued to employ for some years;
but I afterwards abandoned it by degrees, retaining En: only the habit of expressing myself with modest dif
fidence, and never making use, when I advanced any porta proposition that might be controverted, of the words pe certainly, undoubtedly, or any others which might frase give the appearance of being obstinately attached to
my opinion. I rather said, I imagine, I suppose, or it appears to me, that such a thing is so and so, for such and such reasons: or it is so, if I am not mistaken.
This habit has, I think, been of considerable advanEl tage to me, when I have had occasion to impress my It opinion on the minds of others, and persuade them to
the adoption of the measures I have suggested. And since the chief ends of conversation are, to inform or
to be informed, to please or to persuade, I could wish hief that intelligent and well-meaning men would not
themselves diminish the power they possess of being.
useful, by a positive and presumptuous manner of to expressing themselves, which scarcely ever fails to
disgust the hearer, and is only calculated to excite opposition, and defeat every purpose for which the faculty of speech has been bestowed on man. In short, if you wish to inform, a positive and dngmatical manner of advan-cing your opinion may provoke con
tradiction, and prevent your being heard with atten tion. On the other hand, if, with a desire of being informed, and of benefitting by the knowledge of others, you express yourself as being strongly atiach. ed to your own opinions, modest and sensible men, who do not love disputation, will leave you in tranquil possession of your errors. By following such a method, you can rarely hope to please your auditors, conciliate their good will, or work conviction on those whom you may be desirous of gaining over. to your views. "Pope judiciously observes;
Men must be taught as if you taught them not,
And in the same poem he afterwards advises us,
To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence.
He might have added to these lines, one that be has coupled elsewhere, in my opinion, with less. propriety. It is thus :
For want of modesty is want of sense.
If you ask why I say with less propriety, I must give you the two lines together :
Immodest words admit of no defence,
Now, want of sense, when a man has the misfore tune to be so circumstanced, is it not a kind of ex. cuse for want of modesty ? And would not the verses have been more accurate, if they had been constructed thus :
Immodest words admit but this defence,
But I leave the decision of this to better judges than myself.
In 1720, or 1721, my brother began to print a new public paper. It was the second that made its ap.