Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

vice, which amply supplies that defect; and by early marriage, youth is sooner formed to regular and useful life; and possibly some of those accidents or connections, that might have injured the constitution, or reputation, or both, are thereby happily prevented. Particular circumstances of particular persons may possibly sometimes make it prudent to delay entering into that state; but in general, when nature has rendered our bodies fit for it, the presumption is in nature's favour, that she has not judged amiss in making us desire it. Late marriages are often attended, too, with this further inconvenience, that there is not the same chance that the parents shall live to see their offspring educated. “Late children, - says the Spanish proverb, are early orphans. » A melancholy reflection to those whose case it may be! With us in America, marriages are generally in the morning of life; our children are therefore educated and settled in the world by noon; and thus, our business being done, we have an afternoon and evening of cheerful leisure to ourselves, such as our friend at present enjoys. By these early marriages we are blessed with more children; and from the mode among us, founded by nature, of every mother suckling and nursing her own child, more of them are raised. Thence the swift progress of population among us, unparalleled in Europe. In fine, I am glad you are married, and congra. tulate you most cordially upon it. You are now in the way of becoming a useful citizen; and you have escaped the unnatural state of celibacy for life – the fate of many here, who never intended it, but who, having too long postponed the change of their condition, find. at length, that it is too late to think of it, and so live all their lives in a situation, that greatly lessens a man's value. An odd volume of a set of books bears not the value of its proportion to the set: what think you of the odd half of a pair of scissars? it cannot well cut any thing; it may possibly serve to scrape a trencher.

Pray make my compliments and best wishes acceptable to your bride. I am old and heavy, or I should ere this have presented them in person. I shall make but small use of the old man's privilege, that of giving advice to younger friends. Treat your wife always with respect; it will procure respect to you, not only from her, but from all that observe it. Never use a slighting expression to her, even in jest; for slights in jest, after frequent bandyiugs, are apt to end in angry earnest. Be studious in your profession, and you will be learned. Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich. Be sober and temperate and yon will be healthy. Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy. At least, you will, by such conduct, stand the best chance for such consequences. I pray God to bless you both! being ever your affectionate friend,

B. FRANKLIN,

TO MISS HUBBARD,
On the Death of Mr. John Franklin.

Philadel. Feb. 23, 1756. 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 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 incumbrance, 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 paintul 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, 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 for ever. His chair was ready tirst, 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 fiad him ?

Adieu.

B. FRANKLIN.

TO MADAME BRILLIANT. The Ephemera an Emblem of human Life.

You may remember, my dear friend, that when we lately spent that happy day, in the deligthful garden and sweet society of the Moulin Joly, I stopt a little in one of our walks, and staid some time behind the company.

can

[ocr errors]

We had been shown numberless skeletons of a kind of little fly, called an Ephemera, whose successive generations, we were told, were bred and expired within the day. I happened to sce a living company of them on a leaf, who appeared to be engaged in conversation. You know I understand all the inferior animal tongues: my too great application to the study of them is the best excuse give for the little progress I have made in your charming language. I listened through curiosity to the discourse of these little creatures; but as they, in their national vivacity, spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their conversation. I found, however, by some broken expressions that I heard now and then, they were disputing warmly on the merit of two foreign musicians, one a cousin, the other a muscheto; in which dispute they spent their time, seemingly as regardles of the shortness of life, as if they had been' sure of living a month. Happy people! thought I, you live certainly under a wise, just, and mild, government, since you have no public grievances to complain of, nor any subject of contention, but the perfections or imperfections of foreign music. I turned my head from them to an old grey.headed one, who was single on another leaf, and talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy, I put it down in writing, in hopes it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so much indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements, her delicious company, and heavenly harmony.

“It was,, says lie, “the opinion of lea ed philosophers of our race, who lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world, the Moulin Joly, could not itself subsist more than eighteen hours: and I think there was some foundation for that opinion; since, by the apparent motion of the great luminary, that gives life to all nature, and which in my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end of our earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness, necessarily producing universal death and destruction. I have lived seven of those hours; a great age, being no less than four hundred and twenty minutes of time. How very few of us continue so long? I have seen generations born, flourish, and expire. My present friends are the children and grand.children of the friends of my youth who are now, alas no more! And I must soon follow them; for, by the course of nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labour, in amassing honeydew on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy! What the political struggles I have been engaged in, for the good of my compatriot inhabitants of this bush, or my philosophical studies, for the benefit of our race in general! for in politics (what can laws do without morals?) our present race of ephemeræ will in a course of minutes become cor. rupt, like those of other and older bushes, and conse

quently as wretched: and in philosophy how small our progress! Alas! art is long, and life is short! My friends would comfort me with the idea of a name, they say I shall leave behind me; and they tell me, I have lived long enough to nature and to glory. But what will fame be to an Ephemera, who no longer exists? and what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end, and be buried in universal ruin?.

To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid pleasures now remain, but the reflection of a long life spent in meaning well, the sensible conversation ot a few good Jady ephemeræ, and now and then a kind smile and a tune from the ever amiable Brilliant.

B. FRANKLIN.

SKETCH OF AN ENGLISH SCHOOL; for the Consideration of the Trustees of the

Philadelphia Academy.

[ocr errors]

It is expected that every scholar, to be admitted into this school, be at least able to pronounce and divide the syllables in reading, and to write a legible hand. None to be received, that are under years of age.

First, or lowest Class. Let the first class learn the English Grammar rules, and at the same time let particular care be taken to improve them in orthography. Perhaps the latter is best done by pairing the scholars; two of those nearest equal in their spelling to be put together. Let these strive for victory; each propounding ten words every day to the other to be spelled. He that spells truly most of the other's words is victor for that day; he that is victor most days in a month, to obtain a prize, a pretty neat book of some kind, useful in their future studies. This method fixes the attention of children extremely to the orthography of words, and makes them good spellers very early. It is a shame for a man to be so ignorant of this little art, in his own language, as to be perpetually confounding words of like sound and different significations; the consciousness of which defect makes some men, otherwise of good learning and understanding, averse to writing even a common letter.

Let the pieces read by the scholars in this class be short; such as Croxal's fables, and little stories. In giving the lesson, let it be read to them; let the meaning of the difficult words in it be explained to them; and let

them con over by themselves before they are called to read to the master or usher, who is to take particular care,

that they do not read too fast, and that they duly observe the stops and pauses. A vocabulary of the most usual difficult words might be formed for their use, with explanations; and they might daily get a few of those words and explanations by heart; which would a little exercise their memories; or at least they might write a number of them in a small book for the purpose, which would help to fix the ineaning of those words in their minds, and at the same time furnish every one with a little dictionary for his future use.

The Second Class. To be taught reading with attention, and with proper modulations of the voice, according to the sentiments and the subject.

Some short pieces, not exceeding the length of a Spectator, to be given this class for lessons (and some of the easier Spectators would be very suitable for the purpose). These lessons might be given every night as tasks, the scholars to study them against the morning. Let it then be required of them to give an account, first of the parts of speech, and construction of one or two sentences. This will oblige them to recur frequently to their grammar, and fix its principal rules in their memory: Next, of the intention of the writer, or the scope of the piece, the meaning of each sentence, and of every uncommon word. This would early acquaint them with the meaning and force of words, and give them that most necessary habit, of reading with attention.

The master then to read the piece with the proper mo. dulations of voice, due emphasis, and suitable action, where action is required; and put the youth on imitating his manner.

Where the author has used an expression not the best, let it be pointed out; and let his beauties be particularly remarked to the youth.

Let the lessons for reading be varied, that the youth may be made acquainted with good styles of all kinds, in prose and verse, and the proper manner of reading each kind – sometimes a well-told story, a picce of a sermon, a general's speech to his soldiers, a speech in a tra. gedy, some part of a comedy, an ode, 'a satire, a letter, blank verse, Hudibrastic, heroic, etc. But let such lessons be chosen for reading, as contain some useful in. struction, whereby the understanding or morals of the youth may at the same time be improved.

It is required that they should first study and understand the lessons, before they are put upon reading them properly; to which end each boy should have an English dictionary, to help him over difficulties. When our boys read English to us, we are apt to imagine they understand what they read, because it is their mother tongue. But

« PreviousContinue »