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versities, and persons of every profession educated at Edinburgh, excepted.
Collins and I fell one day into an argument relan tive to the education of women; namely, whether it were proper to instruct them in the sciences, and whether they were competent to the study. Collins supported the negative, and affirmed that the task was beyond their capacity. I maintained the opposite opinion, a little perhaps for the pleasure of disputing. He was naturally more eloquent than I; words flowed copiously from his lips; and frequently I thought myself vanquished, more by his volubility than by the force of his arguments. We separated without coming to an agreement upon this point ; and as we were not to see each other again for some time, I committed my thoughts to paper, made a fair copy, and fent it him. He anIwered, and I replied. Three or four letters had been written by each, when my father chanced to light upon my papers and read them. Without entering into the merits of the cause, he embraced the opportunity of speaking to me upon my man. ner of writing He observed that though I had the advantage of my adversary in correct spelling and pointing which I owed to my occupation, I was greatly his inferior in elegance of expression, in arrangement and perspicuity. Of this he convinced me by several examples. I felt the justice of his remarks, became more attentive to language, and resolved to make every effort to improve my nyle. Amidit these resolves an odd volume of the Spectator fell into my hands. This was a publi. cation I had never seen. I bought the volume, and read it again and again. I was enchanted with it thought the style excellent, and wished it were in. may power to imitate it; With this view, I selected some of the papers, made short fummaries of the fenle of each period, and put them for a few days aside. I then, without looking at the book, endeavourid to restore the essays to their true form, and to express each thought at length, as it was in the original, employing the most appropriate words that occurred to my mind. I afterwards compared my Spectator with theoriginal; I perceived some faults, which I corrected: but I found that I wanted a fund of words, if I may so express myself, and a facility of recollecting and employing them, which I thought I should by that time have acquired, had I continued to make verses. The continual need of words of the same meaning, but of different lengths for the measure, or of different sounds for the rhyme would have obliged me to seek for a variety of synonymes, and have rendered.me mafier of them. From this belief, I took some of the tales of the spectator, and turned them into verse ; and after a time, when I had fufficiently forgotten them, I again converted them into profe,
Sometimes also I mingled all my fummaries together; and a few weeks after, endeavoured to arrange them in the best order, before hattempted to form the periods and conplete the effıys. This I did with a view of acquiring method in the arrangement of my thoughts. On comparing afterwards my performance with the original, many faults were apparent, which I corrected, but I had fonetiincs the fatisfaction to think, that, in certain particulars of little importance, I had been fortu. nate enough to improve the order of thought or the style ; and this encouraged me to hope that I hould succeed, in time, in writing the English lanVol. I
guage, which was one of the greatest objects of
. The time which I devoted to these exercises, and to reading, was the evening after my day's labour was finished, the morning before it began, and Sundays when I could escape attending divine fervice. While I lived with my father, he had insisted on my punctual attendance on public worship, and I ftill indeed confidered it as a duty, but a duty which I thought I had no time to practise.
When about sixteen years of age, a work of Tryon fell into my hands, in which he recommends vegetable cliet. I determined to observe it.
My bro:her, being a bachelor, did not keep house, but boarded with his apprentices in a neighbcu ing family. My refusing to eat animal food was found inconvenient, and I was often scolded for my fingularity. I attended to the mode in which Tryon prepared fome of his dishes, particularly how to boil potatoes and rice, and make hafty puddings,' I then said to my brother, that if he would allow me per week half what he paid for my board, I would undertake to maintain myself. The offer was in. ftantly embrac'd, and I loon found that of what he gave me I was able to save half. This was a new fund for the purchase of books; and other advantages relulted to me from the plan. When my brother and his workmen left the printing-house to go to dinner, I remained behind; and dispatching my frugal meal, which frequently confilled of a bisquit only or a slice of bread and a bunch ot raisins, or a bun from the pastry cook's, with a glais of winter, I had the rest of the time, till their retuin, for Audy; and my progress tlicrein was propora * 101,4d to that clearnels of ideas, and quickneis of
conception, which are the fruit of temperance in eating and drinking.
It was about this period that, having one day been put to the bluth ior my ignorance in the art of .calculation, which I had twice failed to learn while at school, I took Cocker's Treatise of Arithmetic, and went through it by myself with the utmostease. I also read a book of Navigation by Seller and Sturmy, and made myself master of the little geometry it contains, but I never proceeded far in this fcience. Nearly at the same time I read Locke on the Human Understanding, and the Art of Thinking by Messrs. du Port Royal.
While labouring to form and improve my style, I met with an Englih Grammar, which I believe was Greenwood's having at the end of it two litile essays on rhetoric and logic. In the latter I found a model of disputation after the manner of Socraies. Shortly after I procured Xenophon's work, entitled Memorable Things of Socrates, in which are various examples of the same method. Charmed to a degree of enthusiasm with this mode of difputing, I adopted it, and renouncing blunt contradiction, and direct and positive argument, I alsumed the character of a humble questioner. The perusal of Shaftsbury and Collin's had made me a sceptic; and being previously so as to many doctrines of Christianity, I found Socrates's method to be both the safest for myself, as well as the most embarrafiing to those against whom I employed it. It foon afforded mesingular pleasure; Iinceífantiy practifed it; and becacie very adroit in obtaining, even froin persons of fuperior understanding, conceflions of which they did not foresee the confequences. Thus I involved them in difficulties from
which they were unable to extricate themselves, and sometimes obtained victories, which neither my cause not my arguments merited.
This method I continued to employ for some years, but I afterwards abandoned it by degrees, retaining only the habit of expressing myselt with modelt dillidence, and never making use, when I advanced any proposition which might be controverted, of the words certainly, undoubtealy, or any others that might give the appearance of being cbfiinately attached to my opinion. I rather said I imagine, I suppose, or it appears to me, that such a thing is fo or fo, for such and such reasons ; or it is so, if I am not mistaken. 'l his habit has, I think been of confiderable advantage to me, when I have had occasion to impress my opinion on the minds of others and persuade them to the adoption of the measures I have suggested. And since the chief ends of conversation are, to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I could with that intelligent and well-meaning, men would not theinselves diminish the powers they poffefs of being useful, by a positive and prelum piuous manner of <x; relling themselves, which scarcely ever fails to disguit the heirer, and is only calculated to ex. cite opposition and deicat every purpose for which the faculty of [peech has been bestowed upon man. In short, if you wish to inform, a positive and doginatical manner of advancing your opinion may provoke contradiction, and prevent your being heard with attention. On the other hand, if with a defire of being infornied, and of benefiting by the knowledge of others, you express yourselves as being firingly attached to your own opinions, modest and funsible men, who do not love disperation,