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and while we neglect to preserve and strengthen these ties, domestic life must lose its sweetest charms. 3 Want of mutual concern is one of the most prominent features of the absence of domestic pleasure and happiness. It is impossible we should be capable of enjoying domestie happiness, while we do not take the liveliest interest in every concern of our consort. Want of taste for innocent and simple pleasures contributes likewise very much to destroy domestic and social happiness, and to render our home irkSome to us. 4 Married people who must see each other every day, and therefore have opportunities enough to get acquainted with each other's faults and humors, and suffer many inconveniences even from the most trifling of them, cannot be too circumspect in their conduct; and it is highly important for them to find out means of preventing their society from being troublesome and tedious to one another, and to guard against mutual indifference, coldness and aversion. 5 Dissimulation is one of the worst expedients that can be adopted for that purpose; but nothing is more efficacious than a certain regard for our own person, and an unremitted care to avoid every thing that can produce bad impressions. I would therefore advise married people carefully to cultivate mutual civility, which is the true spirit and characteristic of conjugal familiarity, and at all times distinguishes a man of good breeding. Discord between married people has always a bad influence on the education of their children. Economy is one of the first requisites of conjugal happiness. 6 Want of materials for conversations and enjoyment is a no less common cause of the want of domestic happiness and pleasure. Conversation, particularly with a smaller circle of friends, requires we should be in possession of various materials to keep it alive, that its sources may not be dried up and make room for tediousness and satiety; and that our enjoyment should be multiplied and refined by noble feelings, if we wish to preserve it from degenerating into disgust. 7 Those that bring an empty head and a cold heart into social life, and are capable only of supporting a conversation on the most hackneyed subjects, or being affected by violent sensual impressions, cannot indeed expect to derive much pleasure and happiness from it. Pleasures which are merely sensual are soon exhausted, as well as the little incidents of the day. 8 But when those in near connexion possess an accomplished 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.
SECTION X. On candor and tolerance in conversation. 1 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 disraceful 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 will LAM FRANKLIN, Esq. DATED 1771. -
a SECTION I.
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; and my descendants may 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 eral, and at all times, nor to deny that many follies and absurditics can be counteracted best, in less familiar circles by the lashes of fine, not too plain, nor too personal ridicule. Neither do I desire you to applaud every thing you see and hear, nor to excuse all faults; I rather must confess, that I always suspect people that affect to cover all defects of others with the cloak of charity.
* Alluding to the American Revolution.
12 They are generally hypocrites, who wish to bribe others by the honorable terms in which they speak of them, to forget the injuries which they commit against those very persons: or they intend to prevail on us by such a conduct, to be equally indulgent to their own failings and defects.
13 Be careful not to carry stories from one house to another, nor to relate familiar table talks, family discourses, and observations which you have made on the domestic concerns and life of people with whom you frequently converse. Although you should not be a malicious tale-bearer, yet such an officious garrulity would create mistrust, and might occasion a great deal of animosity and discord.
14 Whenever you speak of bodily, mental, moral, or other defects, or relate anecdotes that place certain principles in a ridiculous light, or reflect some blame upon certain ranks in life; then be cautious to ascertain first, that no one is present who could be offended by it, or take that censure or ridicule as a reflection upon himself, or his relations and friends. Ridicule the person, shape and features of no one; for it is not in the power of any mortal to alter them.
1 Take care of the health of your mind as well as that of your body; but spoil neither the one nor the other by too much tenderness. The man that endangers his constitution by too much labor or excess, squanders away a treasure which frequently is alone sufficient to raise him above men and fate, and for the loss of which the wealth of all the world cannot compensate.
2 But he that dreads every breeze of air, and is fearful to exert and exercise his limbs, lives a nerveless life of constant anxiety, and attempts in vain to put the rusty springs in motion when he has occasion to exert his natural powers.
3. A man that constantly exposes his mind to the tempests of passion, or incessantly crowds the sails of his spirit, either runs aground or must return with his leaky vessel into port,