« ПредишнаНапред »
plished understanding, and a well disposed heart; when they have a decided taste for every thing which is noble and good; when they have the capacity, and a sincere wish to instruct and to be instructed; when the joint reading of a good and instructive book serves them instead of splendid assemblies; when they mutually strive after wisdom, virtue and higher perfection; when they unite for the common enjoyment of the pleasures of religion and rational devotion, and take the most lively interest in every thing that concerns mankind and their mutual peace; then it is impossible the sources of domestic pleasures and happiness should ever be exhausted!
9 How necessary it therefore is for every one panting after domestic bliss, that he should never cease to cultivate his mind and heart; and how natural it is that our modern method of educating our children should render them totally unfit for enjoying the purest pleasures which this sublunary world can afford!
10 Is it not natural that our social circles afford us so little
real pleasure, while the majority of our young men possess no other knowledge but what they have acquired in taverns, play houses, &c. or gathered from novels and newspapers.
On candor and tolerance in conversation.
I Want of candor and tolerance in conversation is one of the most common and baneful enemies of social and domestic pleasure.
2 All our notions are produced and shaped by sensual perceptions, by instruction, education, reading, conversation, meditation, and the conclusions drawn therefrom. As for the notions produced by sensual perceptions, it is obvious to the most common understanding, that if some object affects the sensual organs, as the eye, for instance, we cannot avoid judging of it conformably to the perceptions it produces through that medium upon the mind.
3 We must see what we do see. We must think an object to be green, if it appear in that color to our eyes, although to every other person it should seem to be blue. Neither ought we to condemn any one for the notions he owes to his education, instruction, reading, and conversation with others. It is not his fault that he was placed by Providence in the situation in which he is, and that he received no other ideas but such as naturally resulted from it.
4 But what confusion, what disorder could be occasioned
by the free exercise of the liberty of speech? It neither can be injurious to sound religion, nor to a well regulated government, nor to the essential principles of morality. Sound religion needs not to fear the light. The more freely its principles are discussed, the more amiable will it appear to an impartial examiner.
5 Doubts may indeed be raised against some of its tenets, but these very doubts will serve as a new spur to more minute inquiry which ultimately will do it more good than harm. Truth always eventually conquers, and error only cannot stand the test of free examination.
6 All acrimony, passionate heat, rudeness of language, ridicule and hatred which we display towards those that differ with us in opinion about religious, moral, philosophical, or political subjects, is therefore unbecoming a man of honor, a glaring infringement of the general rights of men, and disgraceful to a rational being.
7 If the ideas they advance be really and essentially erroneous, violent and passionate declamations against them will never contribute any thing towards convincing them of their error, but will rather lead them to think that we are sensible of their superiority and our own weakness, and wish to silence, because we are incapable of refuting them.
8 Such conduct, of course, will give them just reason to complain, that we use unfair weapons to combat them, render us suspected of arrogance and tyrannical sentiments, and provoke hatred and contempt. Tolerate the erring without confirming them in their errors.
SELECTIONS FROM FRANKLIN'S WORKS.
Sage Franklin next arose with cheerful mien,
SELECTIONS FROM THE FIRST PART OF THE LIFE OF DR. FRANKLIN, ADDRESSED TO HIS SON WILLIAM FRANKLIN, ESQ. DATED 1771.
His early diligence in reading and improving his mind, &c. 1 Dear Son-I have ever had a pleasure in obtaining any - little anecdotes of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I made among the remains of my relations, when you were with me in England. Imagining it may be equally agreeable to you to learn the circumstances of my life, and expecting a few weeks uninterrupted leisure, I sit down to write them. Besides, there are some other inducements to excite me to this undertaking.
2 From the bosom of poverty and obscurity, in which I drew my first breath and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence, and to some degree of celebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me through every period of life to my present advanced - age; descendants may and my be desirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of Providence, have proved so eminently successful. They may also, should they ever be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my narrative.
3 This good fortune, when I reflect on it, which is frequently the case, has induced me sometimes to say, that if it were left to my choice I should have no objection to go over
* Alluding to the American Revolution.
the same career of life again, requesting only the privilege authors have of correcting in a second edition the errors of the first.
4 I was born in Boston, in New England. My brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. With respect to myself, I was sent, at the age of eight years, to a grammar school. My father destined me for the church, and already regarded me as the chaplain of the family.
5 The promptitude with which, from my infancy, I had learned to read, for I do not remember to have been ever without this acquirement, and the encouragements of his friends, who assured him that I should one day certainly become a man of letters, confirmed him in this design. My uncle Benjamin approved also of the scheme, and promised to give me all his volumes of sermons, written in the short hand of his invention, if I would take the pains to learn it.
6 I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammar school, although, in this short interval, I had risen from the middle to the head of my class, from thence to the class immediately above, and was to pass, at the end of the year, to the one next in order.
7 But my father, burdened with a numerous family, found that he was incapable, without subjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expense of a collegiate education; and considering, besides, as I heard him say to his friends, that persons so educated were often poorly provided for, he renounced his first intentions, took me from the grammar school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a Mr. George Brownwel, who was a skilful master, and succeeded very well in his profession by employing gentle means only, and such as were calculated to encourage scholars. Under him I soon acquired an excellent hand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made therein no sort of progress.
8 At ten years of age I was called home to assist my father in his occupation, which was that, of soapboiler and tallowchandler; a business to which he had served no apprenticeship, but which he embraced on his arrival in New England, because he found his own, that of a dyer, in too little request to enable him to maintain his family. I was accordingly employed in cutting the wicks, filling the moulds, taking care of the shop, carrying messages, &c.
9 From my earliest years I had been passionately fond of reading, and I laid out in books all the little money I could procure. I was particularly pleased with accounts of voyages.
My first acquisition was Bunyan's collection in small separate volumes. These I afterwads sold in order to buy a historical collection by R. Burton, which consisted of small, cheap volumes, amounting in all to about forty or fifty. My father's little library was principally made up of books of practical and polemical theology. I read the greatest part of them.
10 I have since often regretted, that at a time when I had so great a thirst for knowledge, more eligible books had not fallen into my hands, as it was then a point decided that I should not be educated for the church. There was also among my father's books Plutarch's Lives, in which I read continually, and I still regard as advantageously employed the time I devoted to them. I found besides a work of De Foe's, entitled "An Essay on Projects," from which, perhaps, I derived impressions that have since influenced some of the principal events of my life. My inclination for books at last determined my father to make me a printer, though he had already a son in that profession. [He was accordingly bound as an apprentice to his brother James.]
11 In a very short time I made great proficiency in this business, and became very serviceable to my brother. I had now an opportunity of procuring better books. The acquaintance I necessarily formed with booksellers' apprentices, enabled me to borrow a volume now and then, which I never failed to return punctually, and without injury.
12 How often has it happened to me to pass the greater part of the night in reading by my bed-side, when the book had been lent me in the evening, and was to be returned the next morning, lest it might be missed or wanted.
13 At length, Mr. Matthew Adams, an ingenious tradesman, who had a handsome collection of books, and who frequented our printing-house, took notice of me. He invited me to see his library, and had the goodness to lend me any books I was desirous of reading.
14 About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. thought the writing excellent, and wished if possible to imitate it. With that view, I took some of the papers, and making short hints of the sentiments in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then without looking at the book, tried to complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should occur to me.