« PreviousContinue »
TO THE LATE
DOCTOR MATHER OF BOSTON.
I RECEIVED your kind letter, with your excellent advice to the people of the United States, which I read with great pleasure, and hope it will be duly regarded. Such writings, though they may be lightly paffed over by many readers, yet, if they make a deep impreffion on one active mind in a hundred, the effects may be confiderable..
Permit me to mention one little inftance, which, though it relates to myself, will not be quite uninterefting to you. When I was a boy, I met with a book entitled "Effays to do good," which I think was written by your father. It had been fo little regarded by a former poffeffor, that feveral leaves of it were torn out; but the remainder gave me fuch a turn of thinking, as to have an influence on my conduct through life for I have always fet a greater value on the character of a doer of good, than any other kind of reputation; and if I have been, as you feem to think, a useful citizen, the public owes the advantage of it to that book.
You mention your being in your feventyeighth year. I am in my feventy-ninth. We are grown old together. It is now more than fixty years fince I left Bofton; but I remember well both your father and grandfather, having heard them both in the pulpit, and feen them in their houses. The last time I faw your father
was in the beginning of 1724, when I vifited him after my first trip to Pennsylvania. He received me in his library; and on my taking leave, fhewed me a fhorter way out of the house, through a narrow narrow paffage, which was croffed by a beam overhead. We were still talking as I withdrew, he accompanying me behind, and I turning partly towards him, when he faid haftily, "Stoop, Stoop!" I did not
understand him till I felt my head hit against the beam. He was a man who never miffed any occafion of giving instruction; and upon this he faid to me:" You are young, and have "the world before you : ftoop as you go through "it, and you will mifs many hard thumps." This advice, thus beat into my heart, has frequently been of use to me; and I often think of it, when I fee pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high.
I long much to fee again my native place; and once hoped to lay my bones there. I left it in 1723. I vifited it in 1733, 1743, 1753, and 1763; and in 1773 I was in England. In 1775 I had a fight of it, but could not enter, it being in poffeffion of the enemy. I did hope to have been there in 1783, but could not obtain my difmiffion from this employment here; and now I fear I fhall never have that happiness. My best wishes however attend my dear country, efto perpetua." It is now bleffed with an excellent conftitution: may it laft for ever!
This powerful monarchy continues its friendfhip for the United States. It is a friendship of the utmost importance to our fecurity, and fhould be carefully cultivated. Britain has not yet well digefted the lofs of its dominion over us; and has ftill at times fome flattering hopes
of recovering it. Accidents may increase those hopes, and encourage dangerous attempts. A breach between us and France would infallibly bring the English again upon our backs: and yet we have fome wild beafts among our countrymen, who are endeavouring to weaken that connection. Let us preferve our reputation, by performing our engagements; our credit, by fulfilling our contracts; and our friends, by gratitude and kindness: for we know not how foon we may have occafion for all of them.
A TRUE STORY.
WRITTEN TO HIS NEPHEW.
WHEN I was a child, at feven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a fhop where they fold toys for children; and being charmed with the found 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 difturbing all the family. My brothers, and fifters, and coufins, 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 reft of the money; and they laughed at me fo 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 ufe to me, the impreffion continuing on my mind; fo that often, when I was tempted to buy fome unneceffary thing, I said to myself Don't give too much for the whiftle; and fo I faved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and obferved the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
When I faw any one too ambitious of court favours, facrificing his time in attendance on
levees, his repofe, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have faid to myfelf, This man gives too much for his whistle.
When I faw another fond of popularity, conftantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect: He pays, indeed fays I, too much for his whistle.
If I knew a mifer, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citi zens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the fake of accumulating wealth; Poor man, fays I, you do indeed pay too much for your whistle.
When I meet a man of pleafure, facrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere mere corporeal fenfations; Miftaken man, fays I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure: you give too much for your whistle.
If I fee one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prifon; Alas, fays I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.
When I fee a beautiful, fweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband :, What a pity it is, fays I, that he has paid fo much for a whistle
In fhort, I conceived that great part of the miferies of mankind were brought upon them by the falfe eftimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whiftles.