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THE HERMIT, No. I.
PROPRIETORS OF THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE;
SEQUESTERED as I am from the world and most of its concerns, your plan for publishing an American Magazine has found its way to my retreat. As I have always been a friend to works of this nature, especially when their chief end is made to consist in advancing the interest of religion, virtue and knowledge, I find myself strongly prompted, both by duty and inclination, to contribute my endeayours, and give all the assistance in my power, for promoting a design that appears so well calculated for the public good. It is, therefore, my purpose, to offer you my reflections, once a month, upon such subjects as correspond with the character which the good providence of heaven has called me to sustain; and these, you may easily guess, will be of the serious, moral, and religious kind.
But that your readers may be the better able to form a notion of the entertainment they are to expect from me, and to satisfy a curiosity natural enough to those who look for any thing of importance from an author, the subject of this first paper shall be my own history; or, at least, so much of it as has a more im. mediate relation to the character I bear.
My parents were among the first of those, who left their native soil and dearest connections, with the laudable design of improving their fortunes, and seeking a settlement in this new world. Many were the dangers and difficulties which they encountered, both while they were at sea, and after their arrival here. My father, who was bred a gentleman and a scholar, and consequently unaccustomed to manual labour, was nevertheless obliged to put his hand to the plough, as there was at that time but little other means of getting a subsistence here. My mother, who was descended from a very good family in Yorkshire, and brought up in the most tender and delicate manner, was constrained to forget the softness of her education, and to bear a part, with her yoke-fellow, in most of the labours of his farm. Custom, however, which is justly called a second nature, made even their toils, at length, to become easy and agreeable.
Thus were they employed for several years, till the smiles of heaven upon their industry, blessed them with a comfortable subsistence, and enabled them to pass the remainder of their days, without labour and without care. Happy were they in themselves, and happy in the friendship and good offices of all around them! One thought alone would sometimes give a damp to their domestic joys, and render them a little unsatisfied with all their worldly bliss. They had as yet never been favoured with any offspring, and it grieved them to reflect, that the little fortune which they had collected, by the labour of their own hands, should become the inheritance of strangers. But their anxiety in this respect was at length removed. Scarce were they sat down to rest from their toils, and taste the sweets of their honest industry, before an indulgent providence was pleased to send me into the world, as the wished for heir of a well earned patrimony.
My father, who was a man of strict piety, and looked upon my birth as the highest instance of the favour of heaven upon his old age, named me Theodore, (or the gift of God) and determined, from that moment, to devote me to the service of his maker, as the only acknowledgment he could offer for the repeated blessings showered upon him. For this purpose, he took upon himself the care of my education, as there was at that time no public American seminary erected near him; and he did not chuse, for many reasons, to risque my going to any distant university. He was, indeed, in himself every way qualified for this task; and to him alone I am indebted, not only for my skill in languages and philosophy, but, what is of still higher and more lasting importance, for my knowledge of the principles of morality and sound religion. Unfortunately for me, the good man was called to a better state, before I was of full age; and consequently he failed in his expectation of seeing me fixed in the ministry of the gospel during his own life.
It was, however, one of his last charges to me, that I should spare no pains to prepare myself for that sacred office; and therefore, he enjoined me that,
as soon as I had seen his remains decently interred, and had placed my aged mother under the care of a relation, whom he had named for that purpose, I should take the tour of Europe, in order to join, to the knowledge of books, what is commonly called, the knowledge of men and the great world. With this view, he recommended it to me to visit the most remarkable cities and universities, and to make my observations upon the different characters and manners of men, their state and condition with respect to learning and commerce, their modes of government, religion, customs, and the like. To qualify me for this, and keep me untainted from the vices of the world, during my peregrination in it, he gave me the most wholesome instructions for my conduct, a copy of which I shall insert in some of my succeeding essays, for the common benefit of all young travellers, into whose hands they may fall; and happy will it be for them, if they make the same good use of his wise precepts, which, by the kind providence of heaven, I have been enabled to make.
While my father was thus bestowing his counsels on me, as his last and most valuable legacy, repeating and enforcing them by every motive of duty and interest, he felt his spirits begin to fail, and nature warning him of his approaching dissolution.
He feebly raised his head, gave his left hand to me, and his right he stretched out to his weeping wife. He fixed his eyes upon us, commended us to the blessing of God, and himself to the mercies of his Redeemer. Immediately he sunk back, uttered a gentle groan, and expired—as he had lived-a good christian and an affectionate man!
As soon as I had paid the tribute due to his memory, and endeavoured to dry up the tears of my disconsolate mother, I set out on my tour, always remembering one part of his advice to me, namely; “ to maintain a respeetful behaviour to every people “ I should come among; to divest myself of preju“ dices; to be cautious of blaming national and esta“ blished customs; to keep my sentiments of men “ and things generally in my own bosom, and trea
sure them up in order to be mellowed by time and " a more comprehensive acquaintance with the world, “ for my future conduct in life.”
What countries I visited, and what observations I gathered, cannot be the subject of this paper. .
I shall only observe, that during my travels, the memory of my deceased father, and the disconsolate state of my aged mother, left at so great a distance from me, would often steal across my thoughts; and give a damp to all those joys, which youth and good company and the constant variety of agreeable scenes, would otherwise have inspired. This contributed not a little to hasten my return, and procured me the appellation of a gloomy and reserved man, through all the countries I passed.
Having regained the land of my nativity, which was in two years from the time of my setting out, I flew to throw myself at the feet of my aged parent, determined never to part from her again, but to make it my
business to administer to her declining years all the comfort in my power. My sudden and unex