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qualities of other people; to put the most favorable construction upon the weaknesses, bigotry, and errors of others, etc.; and to labor more for an inoffensive and amiable, than for a shining and invidious character.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE FAIR.
Pretensions to wisdom and virtue, superior to all the world, will not be supported by words only. If I tell a man I am wiser and better than he or any other man, he will either despise, or hate, or pity me, perhaps all three. I have not conversed enough with the world to behave rightly. I talk to Paine about Greek; that makes him laugh. I talk to Samuel Quincy about resolution, and being a great man, and study, and improving time; which makes him laugn. I talk to Ned about the folly of affecting to be a heretic; which makes him mad. I talk to Hannah and Esther about the folly of love; about despising it; about being above it; pretend to be insensible of tender passions ; which makes them laugh. I talk to Mr. Wibird about the decline of learning; tell him I know no young fellow, who promises to make a figure; cast sncers on Dr. Marsh, for not knowing the value of old Greek and Roman authors; ask when will a genius rise that will shave his beard, or let it grow rather, and sink himself in a cell in order to make a figure? I talked to Parson Smith, about despising gay dress, grand buildings and estates, fame, etc., and being contented with what will satisfy the real wants of nature.
All this is affectation and ostentation. It is affectation of learning, and virtue, and wisdom, which I have not; and it is a weak fondness to show all that I have, and to be thought to have more than I have. Besides this, I have insensibly fallen into a habit of affecting wit and humor; of shrugging my shoulders and moving and distorting the muscles of my face; my motions are stiff and uneasy, ungraceful; and my attention is unsteady and irregular. These are reflections on myself, that I make; they are faults, defects, fopperies, and follies, and disadvantages. Can I mend these faults and supply these defects?
0 makes observations on actions, characters, events in Pope's Homer, Milton, Pope's Poems, any plays, romances, etc., that she reads; and asks questions about them in company—“What do you think of Helen? what do you think of Hector, etc.? what character do you like best? did you wish the plot bad not been discovered in Venice Preserved ?" These are questions that prove a thinking mind. E-asks none such.
Thus, in a wild campaign, a dissipating party of pleasure, observations
and improvements may be made; some foppery, and folly, and vice, may be discerned in one's self, and motives and methods may be collected to subdue it; some virtue or agreeable quality may be observed in one's self, and improved and cherished; or in another, and transplanted into one's self.
Though 0— knows and can practise the art of pleasing, yet she fails sometimes; she lets us see a face of ridicule and spying sometimes, inadvertently, though she looks familiarly and pleasantly for the most part. She is apparently frank, but really reserved; seemingly pleased and almost charmed, when she is really laughing with contempt; her face and heart have no correspondence.
Hannah checks Parson Wibird with irony. “It was very saucy to disturb you, very saucy, I'm sure," etc.
I am very thankful for these checks. Good treatment makes me think I am admired, beloved, and my own vanity will be indulged in me; so I dismiss my guard, and grow weak, silly, vain, conceited, ostentatious. But a check, a frown, a sneer, a sarcasm, rouses my spirits, makes me more careful and considerate. It may, in short, be made a question, whether good treatment or bad is the best for me; that is, whether smiles, kind words, respectful actions, do not betray me into weaknesses and littlenesses that frowns, satirical speeches, and contemptuous behavior, make me avoid.
Popularity, next to virtue and wisdom, ought to be aimed at; for it is the dictate of wisdom, and is necessary to the practice of virtue in mosta
THE YOUNG LAWYER'S REFLECTIONS.
Reputation ought to be the perpetual subject of my thoughts, and aim of my behavior. How shall I gain a reputation? how shall I spread an opinion of myself as a lawyer of distinguished genius, learning, and virtue? Shall I make frequent visits in the neighborhood, and converse familiarly with men, women, and children, in their own style, on the common tittle-tattle of the town and the ordinary concerns of a family, and so take every fair opportunity of showing my knowledge in the law? But this will require much thought and time, and a very particular knowledge of the province law and common matters, of which I know much less than I do of the Roman law. Shall I endeavor to renew my acquaintance with those young gentlemen in Boston who were at college with me, and to extend my acquaintance among merchants, shopkeepers, tradesmen, etc., and mingle with the crowd upon Change, and traipse the town-house floor with one and another, in order to get a character in town? But this, too, will be a lingering method and will
require more art, and address, and patience, too, than I am master of. Shall I, by making remarks and proposing questions to the lawyers at the bar, endeavor to get a great character for understanding and learning with them? But this is slow and tedious, and will be ineffectual; for envy, jealousy, and self-interest, will not suffer them to give a young fellow a free, generous character, especially me. Neither of these proj. ects will bear examination, will avail. Shall I look out for a cause to speak to, and exert all the soul and all the body I own, to cut a flash, strike amazement, to catch the vulgar; in short, shall I walk a lingering, heavy pace, or shall I take one bold determined leap into the midst of fame, cash, and business? That is the question ;-a bold push, a resolute attempt, a determined enterprise, or a slow, silent, imperceptible creeping; shall I creep or fly?
I feel vexed, fretted, chafed; the thought of no business mortifies, stings me. But let me banish these fears; let me assume a fortitude, a greatness of mind.
In such a slow, gradual ascent to fame and fortune and business, the pleasure that they give will be imperceptible; but by a bold, sudden rise, I shall feel all the joys of each at once. Have I genius and resolution and health enough for such an achievement?
A NEW ENGLAND COUPLE IN 1771.
Spent this week at Ipswich, in the usual labors and drudgery of attendance upon court. Boarded at Treadwell's; have had no time to write. Landlord and landlady are some of the grandest people alive; landlady is the great-granddaughter of Governor Endicott, and has all the great notions of high family that you find in Winslows, Hutchinsons, Quincys, Saltonstalls, Chandlers, Leonards, Otises, and as you might find with more propriety in the Winthrops. Yet she is cautious and modest about discovering it. She is a new light; continually canting and whining in a religious strain. The Governor was uncommonly strict and devout, eminently so in his day; and his great, great-granddaughter hopes to keep up the honor of the family in hers, and distinguish herself among her contemporaries as much.
contemporaries as much. “Terrible things sin causcs," sighs and groans, “ the pangs of the new birth. The death of Christ shows above all things the heinous nature of sin! How awfully Mr. Kent talks about death! how lightly and carelessly! I am sure a man of his years, who can talk so about death, must be brought to feel the pangs of the new birth here, or made to repent of it forever. How dreadful it seems to me to hear him. I that am so afraid of death, and so concerned lest I an't fit and prepared for it! What a dreadful thing it was that Mr. Gridley died so!—too great, too big, too proud to learn
anything; would not let any minister pray with him; said he knew more than they could tell him; asked the news, and said he was going where he should hear no news," etc.
Thus far landlady. As to landlord, he is as happy, and as bis, as proud, as conceited as any nobleman in England; always calm and good. natured and lazy; but the contemplation of his farm and his sons and his house and pasture and cows, his sound judgment, as he thinks, and his great holiness, as well as that of his wife, keep him as erect in his thoughts as a noble or a prince. Indeed, the more I consider of mankind, the more I see that every man seriously and in his conscience believes himself the wisest, brightest, best, happiest, etc., of all man. kind.
THE NOMINATION OF THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
Accordingly, when Congress had assembled, I rose in my place, and in as short a speech as the subject would admit, represented the state of the Colonies, the uncertainty in the minds of the people, their great expectation and anxiety, the distresses of the army, the danger of its dissolution, the difficulty of collecting another, and the probability that the British army would take advantage of our delays, march out of Boston, and spread desolation as far as they could go.
I concluded with a motion, in form, that Congress would adopt the army at Cambridge, and appoint a General; that though this was not the proper time to nominate a General, yet, as I had reason to believe this was a point of the greatest difficulty, I had no hesitation to declare that I had but one gentleman in my mind for that important command, and that was a gentleman from Virginia who was among us and very well known to all of us, a gentleman whose skill and experience as an officer, whose independent fortune, great talents, and excellent universal character, would command the approbation of all America, and unite the cordial exertions of all the Colonies better than any other person in the Union. Mr. Washington, who happened to sit near the door, as soon as he heard me allude to him, from his usual modesty, darted into the library-room. Mr. Hancock, -who was our President, which gave me an opportunity to observe bis countenance while I was speaking on the state of the Colonies, the arm, at Cambridge, and the enemy,—heard me with visible pleasure; but when I came to describe Washington for the commander, I never remarked a more sudden and striking change of countenance. Mortification and resentment were expressed as forcibly as his face could exhibit them. Mr. Samuel Adams seconded the motion, and that did not soften the President's physiognomy at all. The subject came under debate, and several gentlemen declared themselves against the appointment of Mr. Washington, not on account of any personal
objection against him, but because the army were all from New England, had a General of their own, appeared to be satisfied with him, and had proved themselves able to imprison the British army in Boston, which was all they expected or desired at that time. Mr. Pendleton, of Virginia, Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, were very explicit in declaring this opinion; Mr. Cushing and several others more faintly expressed their opposition, and their fears of discontents in the army and in New Eng. land. Mr. Paine expressed a great opinion of General Ward and a strong friendship for him, having been his classmate at college, or at least his contemporary; but gave no opinion upon the question. The subject was postponed to a future day. In the mean time, pains were taken out-of-doors to obtain a unanimity, and the voices were generally so clearly in favor of Washington, that the dissentient members were persuaded to withdraw their opposition, and Mr. Washington was nomi. nated, I believe by Mr. Thomas Johnson of Maryland, unanimously elected, and the army adopted.
ON THE WAY TO FRANCE IN 1778.
One evening when we were approaching the French coast, I was sitting in the cabin, when Captain McIntosh, our prisoner, came down to me, and addressed me with great solemnity. “Mr. Adams, this ship will be captured by my countrymen in less than half an hour. Two large British men-of-war are bearing directly down upon us, and are just by. You will hear from them, I warrant you, in six minutes. Let me take the liberty to say to you that I fecl for you more than for any one else. I have always liked you since I came on board, and have always ascribed to you, chiefly, the good treatment I have received, as well as my people; and you may depend upon it, all the good service I can render you with my countrymen, shall be done with pleasure."
I saw by his countenance, gestures, air, language, and everything, that he believed what he said ; that he most heartily rejoiced in his own prospect of deliverance, and that he heartily pitied me. I smiled, how. ever, at his offers of kind offices to me, knowing full well, that his prayers and tears would be as unavailing as my own, if he should be generous and I weak enough to employ them with British officers, min. isters, judges, or king, in the then circumstances of things and temper of the Britons. I made him a bow, expressive of my sense of his politeness, but said nothing. Determined to see my danger, before I would be in: timidated at it, I took my hat, and marched up to the quarter-deck. I had before heard an uncommon trampling upon deck, and perceived signs of some alarm and confusion, but when upon deck I saw the two