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He was remarkably temperate. Before alcohol was proscribed by societies, he took little or none. His table was plain; his fare frugal; his house and fences in the best order. As the stranger passed by them, he pointed and said, there dwells a wise and enterprising man.

Mr. Background was a professing Christian, and was very regular in his attendance on the ordinances of religion. His seat in the sanctuary, on the Sabbath, was filled by his presence, and his family sat beside him in decent array. He reverenced the Bible; and professed his serious belief in the great doctrines of religion; and, in most things, adorned those doctrines, by a sober life and conversation. None could say that he was a filthy-talker, or licentious, or a trifler; for his words were always few, judicious, sober, and to the point. He sent his children to school; taught them their Bible and catechism; and seemed to desire to leave his country that best of all legacies, a well-regulated family. In all these things, the life and conversation of Mr. James Background were blameless.

One thing, I would not omit, and that is, for the forty years I knew him, he never once called on the assessors, to have his taxes abated.

By this time, I am afraid the reader begins to think I am preaching a funeral sermon, and drawing the image of one of those faultless monsters, which the world never saw. But now comes the reverse of the


Mr. Background, notwithstanding his mild face, had a violent temper, which either he could not, or would not govern; and during its paroxysms, he was a perfect Nero. He was cruel to dumb beasts, to excess. Six horses he whipped to death; and five others he injured to such a degree, as to lose half their value. The case of one poor old horse was distressing. The animal had previously been weakened by his cruelty; and he was endeavoring to make the beast draw home an overloaded cart of sand. They came to a miry place in the road; the wheel sank; the horse stopped; Background got into a passion, and beat the poor, staggering creature, already emaciated by his cruelty, until he sunk down, groaning and dying at his feet. To one of his children, it was suspected he gave a watery head, by a passionate blow on the side of his forehead. The physician said nothing, and his wife wept.

Such was the whole character of Mr. James Background. Having shown this sketch, however, to Dr. Snivelwell, our minister, he begs me to scratch out the last paragraph. He assures me the truth is not to be spoken at all times; and that trifles had better sink into oblivion. He says, moreover, if I do not learn to draw moral pictures with more discretion, I shall never be able to sell my Biographical Dictionary of living characters, which I have for twenty years, been preparing for speedy publication.


No. 30.

These metaphysic rights, entering into common life, like rays of light, which pierce into a dense medium, are, by the laws of nature, refracted from their straight line Indeed in the gross and complicated mass of human passions and concerns. the primitive rights of men undergo such a variety of refractions and reflections. that it becomes absurd to talk of them as if they continued in the simplicity of their original direction.

Burke's Reflections on French Revolution.

THOUGH New England has been a place remarkable for the utility of all its designs, and the plain, common-sense character of all its inhabitants, yet it has also been distinguished for the refinement of its speculations, and the subtle, metaphysical character of some of its leading men. I can remember the time, when the discourses of the pulpit were abstruse essays, rather than sermons; and when the humblest hearers in an audience, were required to follow all the dark distinctions, which an acute head could make clear about the purposes of God, the origin of sin, the nature of moral agency, in order to their salvation.

These points were carried from the pulpit to the fireside; and nothing was more common, than to see a farmer with a spade in his hand, or a shoemaker in his leather apron, settling the nicest points in theology by the way-side, and sometimes with a success more honorable to their intellects than their hearts. Our contests with Great Britain, previous to the revolutionary war, brought up before the public mind, most of the abstractions of politics; and thus New England, from her peculiar situation, has become the land of general princi¡ l's. Everything we do, in our associated capacity, must be the deduction from some general principle. I have known the whole country set on fire by a metaphysical abstraction, which one would think, like the sun in winter, to be too distant to warm us; and, however beautiful, might be esteemed as cold as the reflections of that same sun from a mountain of ice.

This singular union of the love of general principles, and the utilitarianism of common sense, which characterizes our land, is to be sought for in our history. When our fathers fled to this land, from what they considered as the terrors of persecution, it was the love of a peculiar system of religion, that animated their resolution, and supported their sufferings. Calvinism was, to them, the gospel; they saw its beauties in no other form; they found its consolations in no other source. Calvinism, metaphysical as it is, has always been a system, which has laid strong hold on

the hearts of those who cordially embrace it. Its very deformity to other minds, makes it more precious to them, as the mother embraces with new fervor the child, which every other mouth condemns. Besides, it was the religion for which they had suffered; and we always embrace, with peculiar ardor, the object we have reached through pain. This system was attacked by the multiplying opinions, which must be expected to arise in a growing country; and it was strongly defended by one of the most masterly minds, which our country has ever produced. Jonathan Edwards, of Northampton, had one of the clearest heads, and the most powerful intellects, that ever came down from the Sun of intellectual light, to shed a derivative beam on the most perplexed paths in the investigations of man. Whether he is right or wrong, none can deny his ingenuity and soundness of intention. Had he been born in Greece, his bust would have stood beside that of Aristotle; and temples would have been erected to his memory, and altars have smoked at his feet. But one evil has followed from his example. He has made thousands of inferior minds lovers of his abstractions; and the most general principles have become connected with the warmest emotions of the heart. So, in politics, the ardor with which we opposed the encroachments of Great Britain on our privileges, was connected with certain dogmas in politics, then first brought into popular notice; and thus it is, that our history has taught us to unite the

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