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there was a black mulatto-looking man sitting, talking very warmly among some gentlemen, who, I observed, were listening very attentively to what he said, and I sat myself down and did the like. "T was with great pleasure I heard him discourse very handsomely on several weighty subjects. I found he was a very good scholar, had been very handsomely bred, and that learning and study were his delight; and, more than that, some of the best of science was at that time his employment. At length I took the freedom to ask him if he was born in England ?
He replied with a great deal of good humour in the manner, but with an excess of resentment at his father, and with tears in his eyes, “ Yes, yes, sir, I am a true-born Englishman; to my father's shame be it spoken, who, being an Englishman himself, could find it in his heart to join himself to a negro woman, though he must needs know the children he should beget would curse the memory of such an action, and abhor his very name for the sake of it. Yes, yes,” says he, repeating it again, “I am an Englishman, and born in lawful wedlock; happy had it been for me, though my father had
to the devil for whoredom, had he lain with a cookmaid, or produced me from the meanest beggarwoman in the street. My father might do the duty of nature to his black wife ; but, God knows, he did no justice to his children. If it had not been for this damned black face of mine," says he, then smiling, “ I had been bred to the law, or brought up in the study of divinity; but my father gave me learning to no manner of purpose, for he knew I should never be able to rise by it to anything but a learned valet de chambre. What he put me to school for I cannot imagine; he spoiled a good tarpauling when he strove to make me a gentleman. When he had resolved to marry a slave and lie with a slave, he should have begot slaves, and let us have been bred as we were born ; but he has twice ruined me first, with getting me a frightful face, and then going to paint a gentleman upon me."
It was a most affecting discourse indeed, and as such I record it; and I found it ended in tears from the person, who was in himself the most deserving, modest, and judicious man that I ever met with under a negro countenance in my life.
After this story I persuaded myself I need say no more to this case ; the education of our children, their instruction, and the introducing them into the world, is a part of honesty, a debt we owe to them ; and he cannot be an honest man that does not, to the utmost of his ability and judgment, endeavour pay
it. All the other relative obligations, which family circumstances call for the discharge of, allow the same method of arguing for, and are debts in their proportion, and must be paid upon the same principle of integrity. I have neither room nor is there any occasion to enlarge upon them.
OF THE IMMORALITY OF CONVERSATION, AND
THE VULGAR ERRORS OF BEHAVIOUR
ONVERSATION is the brightest and
most beautiful part of life; 't is an emblem of the enjoyment of a future state, for suitable society is a heavenly
life ; 't is that part of life by which mankind are not only distinguished from the inanimate world, but by which they are distinguished from one another. Perhaps I may be more particularly sensible of the benefit and of the pleasure of it, having been so effectually mortified with the want of it. But as I take it to be one of the peculiars of the rational life that man is a conversable creature, so it is his most complete blessing in life to be blessed with suitable persons about him to converse with. Bringing it down from generals to particulars, nothing can recommend a man more, nothing renders him more agreeable, nothing can be a better character to give of one man to another, next to that of his being an honest and religious man, than to say of him that he is very good company.
How delightful is it to see a man's face always covered with smiles, and his soul shining continually in the goodness of his temper; to see an air of humour and pleasantness sit ever upon his brow, and to find him on all occasions the same, ever agreeable to others and to himself — a steady calm of mind, a clear head, and serene thoughts always acting the mastership upon him. Such a man has something angelic in his very countenance; the life of such a man is one entire scene of composure; 't is an anticipation of the future state, which we well represent by an eternal peace.
To such a man to be angry, is only to be just to himself, and to act as he ought to do; to be troubled or sad is only to act his reason, for as to being in a passion he knows nothing of it; passion is a storm in the mind, and this never happens to him; for all excesses, either of grief or of resentment, are foreigners, and have no habitation with him. He is the only man that can observe that Scripture heavenly dictate, “ be angry and sin not; and if ever he is very angry, 't is with himself, for giving way to be angry with any one else.
This is the truly agreeable person, and the only one that can be called so in the world; his company is a charm, and is rather wondered at than imitated. 'Tis almost a virtue to envy such a man; and one is apt innocently to grieve at him, when we see what is so desirable in him, and cannot either find it or make it in ourselves.
But take this with you in the character of this happy man, namely, that he is always a good man, a religious man. "Tis a gross error to imagine that a soul blackened with vice, loaded with crime, degenerated into immorality and folly, can be that
can have this calm, serene soul, those clear thoughts, those constant smiles upon his brow, and the steady agreeableness and pleasantry in his temper, that I am speaking of; there must be intervals of darkness upon such a mind. Storms in the conscience will always lodge clouds upon the countenance, and where the weather is hazy within it can never be sunshine without; the smiles of a disturbed mind are all but feigned and forged; there may be
a good disposition, but it will be too often and too evidently interrupted by the recoils of the mind, to leave the temper untouched and the humour free and unconcerned; when the drum beats an alarm within, it is impossible but the disturbance will be discovered without.
Mark the man of crime; sit close to him in company; at the end of the most exuberant excursion of his mirth, you will never fail to hear his reflecting faculty whisper a sigh to him ; he will shake it off, you will see him check it and go on. Perhaps he sings it off, but at the end of every song, nay, perhaps of every stanza, it returns; a kind of involuntary sadness breaks upon all his joy;
all his joy; he perceives it, rouses, despises it, and goes on; but in the middle of a long laugh in drops a sigh; it will be, it can be no otherwise ; and I never conversed closely with a man of levity in my life but I could perceive it most plainly; 't is a kind of respiration natural to a stifled conviction - a hesitation that is the consequence of a captivated virtue, a little insurrection in the soul against the tyranny of profligate principles.
But in the good man the calm is complete — it is all nature, no counterfeit ; he is always in humour, because he is always composed :
He's calm without, because he's clear within. A stated composure of mind can really proceed from nothing but a fund of virtue; and this is the reason why it is my opinion that the common saying, that content of mind is happiness, is a vulgar mistake, unless it be granted that this content is first founded on such a basis as the mind ought to be contented with, for otherwise a lunatic in Bedlam is a completely happy man ; he sings in his hutch, and dances in his chain, and is as contented as any man living. The possession or power which that