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Ben appeared much hurt, and began to preach to the crew on their “injustice,” as he called it, in thus taking away the lives of those pour little fish, who "had never injured them, nor ever could.” The sailors were ut. terly dum-founded at such queer logic as this. Taking their silence for conviction, Ben rose in his argument, and began to play the orator quite outrageously on the main deck. At length an old way of a boatswain, who had-at first been struck somewhat aback by the strangeness of this attack, took courage, and luffing up again, with a fine breeze of humour in bis weather-beaten sail, called out to Ben, "Well, but my young Master Preacher. may not we deal by these same cod here, as they deal by their neighbours."
“To be sure," said Ben.
“Well then, sir, see here,” replied the boatswain, hold. ing up a stout fish, "see here what a whaler I took just now out of the belly of that cod!” Ben looking as if he had his doubts, the boatswain went on, "O sir, if you coine to that, you shall have proof;" whereupon he laid hold of a large big-bellied cod that was just then founcing on the deck, and ripping him open, in the presence of Ben and the crew, turned out several young cod from
Here, 'en, well pleased with this discovery, cried out, Oho! villains' is that the game you play with one another under the water! Uunatural wretches! What! eat one another! Well then, if a cou can eat his own brother, I see no reason in nature why man may not eat him. With that be seized a stout young fish just fresh from his native brine, and frying bim in all haste, made a very hearty meal. Ben never after this, made any more scruples about animal food, but ate fish, tlesh, or fowl, as they came in his way, without asking any questions for conscience sake.
EXCEPT the ADMIRABLE CREIGHron, I have never heard of a genius that was fitted to shine in every art and science. Even Newton was dull in languages; and Pope used to say of himself, that "he had as leave hear. the squeal of pigs in a gate, as hear the organ of Han. del!" Neither was our Ben the "omnis homo." or "Jack of all trades." He never could bear the mathematics! and even arithmetic presented to him no attractions at all. Not that he was not capable of it; for, happening about this time, still in his sixteenth year, to be laughed at for his ignorance in the art of calculation, he went and got himself a copy of old Cocker's Arithmetic, one of the toughest in those days, and went through it by himself with great ease. The truth is, his mind was at this time entirely absorbed in the ambition to be a finished writer of the English language; such a one, if possible, as the SPECTATOR, whom he admired above all others.
While labouring, as we have seen, to improve his style, he laid his hands on all the English Grammars he could hear of. Among the number was a treatise of that sort, an old shabby looking thing which the owner, marking his curiosity in those matters, made him a present of.
Ben hardly returned him a thankee, as doubte ing at first whether it was worth carrying home. But how great was his surprise, when coming towards the olose of it, he found, crammed into a small chapter, a breatise on the art of disputation, after the manner of SOCRATES. The treatise was very short, but it was enough for Ben; it gave an outline, and that was all he wanted. As the little whortle-berry boy, on the sands of Cape May, grabbling for his breakfast in a turtle's nest, if he but reaches with his little hand one egy, in.. stantly laughs with joy, as well knowing that all the rest will follow, like beads on a string. So it was with the eager
mind of Ben, when he first struck on this plan of Socrat!c disputation. In an instant his thoughts ran through all the threads and meshes of the wondrous net; and he could not help laughing in his sleeve, to think what a fine puzzling cap he should soon weave for the frightened heads of Colbns, Adams, and all others who should pretend to dispute with him. But the use which he principally had in view to make of it, and which tickled his fancy most, was how completely he should now confound those ignorant and hypocritical ones in Boston, who were continually boring him about religion. Not that Ben ever took pleasure in coufounding those who were honestly desirous of shewing their
religion by their good works; for such were always his ESTEEM and DELIGHT. But he could never away with those who neglected JUSTICE, MEKcy, and TRUTH, and yet atfected great familiarities with the Deity, from certain conceitert wonders that Christ had wrought in them.
As no, youth ever more heartily desired the happiness of man and beast than Ben did, so none ever more seriously resented that the religion of love and
good works tending to this, should be usurped by a harsh burren puritanism, with her disfigured faces, whiny and cunt. This appeared to himn like Dagon overturning the Ark of God with a vengeance. Burning with zeal against such detestable phariseeism, he rejoiced in his Socratic logic as a new kind of weapon, which he hoped to employ with good effect against it. He studied his Socrates day and night, and particularly his admirable argumentations given by Xenophon, in his book, entitled “MEMORABLE THINGS OF SOCRATES;" and in a little time came to wield his new artillery with great dexterity and success.
But in all his rencontres with the false christians, he adhered strictly to the spirit of Socrates, as being perfectly congenial to his own. Instead of blunt contradictions and positive assertions, he would put inodest questions; and after obtaining of them concessions of which they did not foresee the conseque :Sg he would involve them in difficulties and embarrassments, from which they could never extricate theinselves. Had he possessed a vanity capable of being satisfied with the triumph of wit over dullness, he might long have crowed the master cock of this Socratic pit. But finding that his victories seldom produced any practical good; that they were acquired at a considerable expense of time, neglect of business, and injury of his temper, which was never formed for altercaiion with bigots, he abandoned it by degrees, retaining only the habit of expressing himself with a modest diffidence. And not only at that time, but ever afterwards through life, it was remarked of him, that in argunient he rarely used the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that might convey the idea of being obstinately conceited of his own opinion. His ordinary phrases wereimagine-I supposemor, it appears to me, that such &
thing is so and so-or, it is so, if I am not mistaken. By such soothing arts he gradually conciliated the good will of his opponents, and almost always succeeded in bring. ing them over to his wishes. Hence he used to say, it was great pity that sensible and well meaning persons should lessen their own usefulness by a positive and presumptuous way of talking, which only serves to provoke opposition from the passionate, and shyness from the prudent, who rather than get into a dispute with such self-conceited characters, will hold their peace, and let them go on in their errors. In short, if you wish to answear one of the noblest ends for which tongues were given to rational beings, which is to inform or to be informed, to please and to persuade them, for heaven's sake, treat their opinions, even though erroneous, with great politeness.
“Men must be taught as tho’you taught them not,
And things unknown propos’d as things forgot," says Mr. Pope; and again
"To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence,
SO late as 1720, there was but one newspaper in all North America, and even this by some was thought one too many, so little reading was there among the people in those days. But believing that the reading appetite, weak as it was, ran more on newspapers than any thing else, James Franklin took it into his head to start another paper. His friends all vowed it would be the ruin of him; but James persevered, and a second newspaper,
entitled “The New ENGLAND COURAN'T," was pubJished. What was the number of subscribers, after so loog a lapse of time, is now unknown; but it was Ben's liumble lot to furnish their papers after having assisted to compose and work them off.
Among his friends, James had a number of literary characters, who, by way of amusement, used to write or his paper. These gentlemen frequently visited him
at his office, merely for a little chat, and to tell how highly the public thought of their pieces. Ben attended closely to their conversation, and happening to think they were no great wits, he determined to cut in
and : try his hand among them. But how to get bis little adventures into the paper was the question, and a se rious one to, for he knew very well that his brother, looking on him as hardly more than a child, would not dream of printing any thing that he knew had come from his pen. Stratagen of course must be resorted to. He took his time, and having written his piece pretty much to his mind, he copied it in a disguised hand, and when they were all gone to bed, slyly shoved it in under the door of the office; where it was found next morning. In the course of the day, his friends dropping in as usual, James showed them the stranger paper; a caucus was held, and with aching heart Ben heard his piece read for their criticism. It was bighly applauded: and to his greater joy still, among their various conjectures as to the author, not one was mentioned who did not hold a distinguished reputation for talents! Encouraged by such good success of this his first adventure, he wrote on, and sent to the press, in the same sly way, several other pieces, which were equally approved, keeping the secret till his slender stock of information was pretty completely exhausted, when he came out with the real author.
His brother, on this discovery, began to entertain a little more respect for him, but still looked on and treated him as a common apprentice. Ben, on the other hand, thought that, as a brother he had a right to greater indulgence, and sometimes coinplained of James as rather too rigorous. This difference in opinion rose to disputes, which were often brought before their father, who either from partiality to Ben, or his better cause, generally gave it in his favour, James could not bear these awards of his father in favor of a younger brother, but would fly into a passion and treat him with abuse even to blows. Ben took this tyrannical behaviour of his brother in extremely ill part; and he somewhere says that it imprinted on his mind that deep-rooted aversion to arbitrary power, which he never lost, and which rendered him through life such a firm and unconquera