« AnteriorContinuar »
ing, but ignorant in matters of account; and though he sometimes made me remittances, I could get no account from him, nor any satisfactory state of our partnership while he lived. On his decease the business was continued by his widow, who being born and bred in Holland, where (as I have been informed) the knowledge of accounts makes a part of female education ; she not only sent me as clear a statement as she could find of the transactions past, but continued to account with the greatest regularity and exactness every quarter afterwards; and managed the business with such success, that she not only reputably brought up a family of children, but at the expiration of the term, was able to purchase of me the printing-house, and establish her son in it. I mention this affair chiefly for the sake of recommending that branch of education for our young women, as likely to be of more use to them and their children, in case of widowhood, than either music or dancing ; by preserving them from losses by imposition of crafty men, and enabling them to continue, perhaps, a profitable mercantile house, with established correspondence, till a son is grown up fit to undertake and go on with it; to the lasting advantage and enriching of the family.
About the year 1734, there arrived among us a young Presbyterian preacher, named Hemphill, who delivered with a good voice, and apparently extempore, most excellent discourses, which drew
together considerable numbers of different persuasions, who joined in admiring them. Among the rest, I became one of his constant hearers, his sermons pleasing me, as they had little of the dogmatical kind, but inculcated strongly the practice of virtue, or what in the religious style are called good . works. Those however of our congregation who considered themselves as orthodox Presbyterians, disapproved his doctrine, and were joined by most of the old ministers, who arraigned him of heterodoxy before the synod, in order to have him silenced. I became his zealous partisan, and contributed all I could to raise a party in his favor, and combated for him awhile with some hopes of
There was much scribbling pro and con upon the occasion; and finding that though an elegant preacher, he was but a poor writer, I wrote for him two or three pamphlets, and a piece in the Gazette of April, 1735. Those pamphlets, as is generally the case. with controversial writings, though eagerly read at the time, were soon out of vogue, and I question whether a single copy of them now exists.
During the contest an unlucky occurrence hurt his cause exceedingly. One of our adversaries having heard him preach a sermon that was much admired, thought he had somewhere read the sermon before, or at least a part of it. On searching he found that part quoted at length in one of the British Reviews, from a discourse of Dr. Foster's.
This detection gave many of our party disgust, who accordingly abandoned his cause, and occasioned our more speedy discomfiture in the synod. I stuck by him, however ; I rather approved his giving us good sermons composed by others, than bad ones of his own manufacture ; though the latter was the practice of our common teachers. He afterwards acknowledged to me that none of those he preached were his own; adding, that his memory was such as enabled him to retain and repeat any sermon after once reading only. On our defeat he left us in search elsewhere of better fortune, and I quitted the congregation, never attending it after; though I continued many years my subscription for the support of its ministers.
I had begun in 1733 to study languages : I soon made myself so much a master of the French, as to be able to read the books in that language with ease: I then undertook the Italian. An acquaintance who was also learning it, used often to tempt me to play chess with him. Finding this took up too much of the time I had to spare for study, I at length refused to play any more, unless on this condition, that the victor in every game should have a right to impose a task, either of parts of the grammar to be got by heart, or in translations, &c. which tasks the vanquished was to perform upon honor before our next meeting. As we played pretty equally, we thus beat one another into that language. I afterwards, with a little pains-taking, acquired as much of the Spanish as to read their books also. I have already mentioned that I had only one year's instruction in a Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected that language entirely. But when I had attained an acquaintance with the French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surprised to find on looking over a Latin Testament, that I understood more of that language than I had imagined; which encouraged me to apply myself again to the study of it, and I met with the more success, as those preceding languages had greatly smoothed my way. From these circumstances I have thought there is some inconsistency in our common mode of teaching languages. We are told that it is proper to begin first with the Latin, and having acquired that, it will be more easy to attain those modern languages which are derived from it: and yet we do not begin with the Greek, in order more easily to acquire the Latin. It is true that if we can clamber and get to the top of a staircaise without using the steps, we shall more easily gain them in descending; but certainly if we begin with the lowest, we shall with more ease ascend to the top; and I would therefore offer it to the consideration of those who superintend the education of our youth, whether since many of those who begin with the Latin, quit the same after spending some years without having made any great proficiency, and what they have learned becomes almost useless, so that their time has been lost; it would not have been better to have begun with the French, proceeding to the Italian and Latin. For though after spending the same time they should quit the study of languages and never arrive at the Latin, they would however have acquired another tongue or two that, being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in 'common life.
After ten years' absence from Boston, and haring become easy in my circumstances, I made a journey thither to visit my relations; which I could not sooner afford. In returning I called at NewPort to see my brother James, then settled there with his printing-house; our former differences were forgotten, and our meeting was very cordial and affectionate: he was fast declining in health, and requested of me that in case of his death, which he apprehended not far distant, I would take home his son, then but ten years of bring him up to the printing-business. This I accordingly performed, sending him a few years to school before I took him into the office. His mother carried on the business till he was grown up, when I assisted him with an assortment of new types, those of his father being in a manner worn out. Thus it was that I made my brother ample amends for the service I had deprived him of by leaving him so early.
In 1736, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small pox, taken in the com