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قراءة كتاب The Freedmen's Book

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The Freedmen's Book

The Freedmen's Book

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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had excruciating pains and great lack of patience. Mrs. Sancho had a week of it. Gout did not sweeten my temper. It was washing week, and she had to attend the shop. God bless her, and reward her. She is good; good in heart, good in principle, good by habit."

The children appear to have been the delight of his heart. He called them "Sanchonettas," which would be the Italian way of saying Little Sanchos. He was never tired of describing their little winning ways. At the end of a letter to one of his friends he wrote: "Lydia trots about amazingly; and Kitty imitates her, with this addition, that she is as mischievous as a monkey." But little William, his youngest, was evidently his pet. To another of his friends he wrote: "You cannot imagine what hold little Billy gets of me. He grows, he prattles, every day he learns something new. The rogue is fond of me to excess. By his good-will he would be always in the shop with me. The little monkey! He clings round my legs; and if I chide him, or look sour, he holds up his little mouth to kiss me."

Ignatius Sancho had a very kind heart. It hurt his feelings very much to see any animal tormented. He tried to get some laws passed to prevent cruel market-men from abusing their donkeys; and he always tried to be a friend to everybody that was in distress. In one of his letters he says: "The joy of giving and of making happy is almost the attribute of a god. There is as much sweetness conveyed to the senses by doing a right good-natured deed as our frame can consistently bear."

Such a disposition is better than a remarkable intellect. But he had a quick intellect also, and generally took sensible views of things. Writing to a young colored friend, who had been somewhat wild, he says:—

"Look round upon the miserable fate of almost all of our unfortunate color. See slavery added to ignorance. See the contempt of the very wretches who roll in affluence from our labors. Hear the ill-bred, heart-racking abuse of the ignorant vulgar. If you tread as cautiously as the strictest rectitude can guide you, you must suffer from this. But if you are armed with truth and conscious integrity, you will be sure of the plaudits and countenance of the good.

"You are a happy lad. You have kind benefactors, to whom you ought to look up with reverence, and humbly beg the Almighty to give you strength to imitate them in doing good. Your parts are as quick as most men's. If you urge your speed in the race of virtue with the same zeal you have exhibited in error, you will recover, to the satisfaction of your noble patrons, and to the glory of yourself.

"Some philosopher, whose name I forget, wished for a window in his breast, that the world might see his heart. I recommend him to your imitation. Vice is a coward. To be truly brave, a man must be truly good. You hate the name of cowardice; then detest a lie and shun liars. Be above revenge. If others have taken advantage either of your guilt or your distress, punish them only with forgiveness; and if you can serve them at any future time, do it.

"I sincerely congratulate thee upon thy repentance. It is thy birthday to real happiness."

To one of the white gentlemen who liked to correspond with him, he wrote:—

"There is something so amazingly grand and affecting in contemplating the works of the Divine Architect, either in the moral or the intellectual world, that I think one may rightly call it the cordial of the soul, the best antidote against pride and discontent. The friendly warmth of that glorious planet the sun, the leniency of the air, the cheerful glow of the atmosphere, make me involuntarily cry, 'Lord, what is man, that thou, in thy mercy, art so mindful of him? or what is the son of man, that thou so parentally carest for him?'

"Sometimes, when I endeavor to turn my thoughts inward, to review the powers or properties the indulgent all-wise Father has endowed me with, I am struck with wonder and with awe; poor, insignificant worm as I am, in comparison with superior beings, mortal like myself. At the head of our riches I reckon the power of reflection. Where doth it lie? Search every member, from the toe to the nose,—they are all ready for action, but they are all dead to thought. It is that breath of life which the Sacred Architect breathed into the nostrils of the first man. We feel and acknowledge it, but it is quite past the power of definition. Then to think of the promise of never-ending existence! To rise, perhaps, by regular progression from planet to planet, to behold the wonders of immensity, to pass from good to better, increasing in goodness, in knowledge, in love. To glory in our Redeemer, to joy in ourselves, to be acquainted with prophets, sages, heroes, and poets of old times, and to join in the symphony with angels."

To a white young friend, who had obtained a situation in India, he wrote:—

"It is with sincere pleasure I hear you have a lucrative establishment. Your good sense will naturally lead you to a proper economy, as distant from frigid parsimony as from heedless extravagance. As you may have some time for recreation, give me leave to obtrude my poor advice. I have heard it more than once observed of fortunate adventurers, that they come home rich in purse, but wretchedly barren in intellect. My dear Jack, the mind wants food as well as the stomach. Why, then, should not one wish to increase in knowledge as well as in money? The poet Young says,—

'Books are fair Virtue's advocates and friends.'

My advice to you is, to lay by something every year to buy a little library. You have to thank God for strong natural parts; you have a feeling, humane heart; you write with sense and discernment. Improve yourself, my dear Jack. Then if it should please God to return you to your friends with a fortune, the embellishments of your mind may be ever considered as greatly superior to your riches, and only inferior to the goodness of your heart. This is a good old adage: 'A few books and a few friends, and those well chosen.'"

The same young friend wrote a letter to his father, from Bombay, in India, in which he wrote: "The inhabitants here, who are chiefly blacks, are a set of canting, deceitful people, of whom one must have great caution."

Ignatius Sancho was always ready to defend the despised and the oppressed, and his sympathy was all the more lively if they were of his own color. He at once wrote to his young friend:—

"In one of your letters to your father, you speak with honest indignation of the treachery and chicanery of the natives of India. My good friend, you should remember from whom they learned those vices. The first visitors from Christian countries found them a simple, harmless people. But the cursed avidity for wealth urged those first visitors, and all the succeeding ones, to such acts of deception and wanton cruelty, that the poor, ignorant natives soon learned their knavish arts, and turned them upon their teachers. As a resident of your country, Old England, I love it. I love it for its freedom. For the many blessings I enjoy in it England shall ever have my warmest wishes, prayers, and blessings. But I must observe, and I say it with reluctance, that the conduct of your country has been uniformly wicked in the East Indies, in the West Indies, and on the coast of Guinea. The grand object of English navigators, and indeed of all the navigators of Christian nations, has been money, money, money. Commerce was meant by the goodness of Deity to diffuse the various goods of the earth into every part; to unite mankind with the blessed bonds of brotherly love and mutual dependence. Enlightened Christians should diffuse the riches of the Gospel of Peace together with the commodities of their respective

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