Item of the Day: Miscellany, for The Port Folio (9 July 1803)

Found In: The Port folio. Enlarged. By Oliver Oldschool. Vol. III., No. 28. Philadelphia, Saturday, July 9, 1803. [p. 219]

 

MISCELLANY,

FOR THE PORT FOLIO.

 

ADVICE TO THE EDITOR OF THE AURORA.

As you have, for some time, assumed the office, and rather imperiously exercised the functions of perpetual dictator to the good people of Pennsylvania, it may be proper to indicate to an attention so heedless as yours, that there are certain elements, in which you should be tolerably skilled, before you establish yourself over us, as our political schoolmaster.

As from a long and assiduous survey of your works, I have frequently found you not a little imperfect in orthography, a total stranger to grammar, and wholly averse to all purity of diction and elegance of stile. I strongly recommend to you the perusal of certain little volumes, written for the benefit of children and other Tyros, by Mr. Thomas Dilworth, a philosopher of the sixteenth century.

The next science, in the order of the circle, to which I would direct your blundering steps, is rhetoric, which, you must know, is the art of speaking eloquently, and of investing your thoughts in colours, bright and clear. As I know that you flounder in the muddiness of your mind, and are extremely unhappy, both in the choice and perspicuity of your phrases, I would advise you to borrow a few hours from those which you dedicate to the silencing of Mr. Burr, or the solacing of your wife, and commit to memory, Farnaby’s little system. Moreover, as I am told, you sometimes make an effort to speak in the primary assemblies, vulgarly called town meetings, and that your voice and periods are equally tuneless, perhaps some discipline of this kind may lash you into something, like a similitude of eloquence.

In Logic, you are so lame, that I am positive you are not equal to the management of a syllogism in Bocardo. Consult some of your Low German friends and borrow Burgersdyck, and Professor Schiltenbruch de Quidditate. From the leaden pages of laborious stupidity, your own cannot be encreased, and possibly you may learn in the art of reasoning, that some pains are necessary to establish the verity of your premises, before you suffer your zeal to hurry you to the conclusion. An important truth of which I am sorry to say, you are utterly regardless in all your speeches and writings.

With Metaphysics, I will not disturb a brain, so confused as yours; and in charity to your ignorance and incompetence, I will not lead them into a thorny thicket, where they would be miserably scratched, and instantly lose their way. I therefore pass on to Ethics; and here I am constrained to say that you will enter this region of science, as an utter stranger. You are not more an alien to America, than to your duties, as a man and a citizen; and such is my diffidence of your capacity, I know you must be frequently and severely flogged, before you will get by heart, the first lesson in this branch of your education.

Having thus suggested to you a course of studies, comprehending some of the initial sciences, I will reserve what I have to say to you upon mathematics, natural philosophy and theology, to another occasion. Of my didactics, I give you only a dose at a time, presuming that this is as much as so weak a creature can bear; and having thus prescribed what you will think sufficiently drastic, you have my permission to go “to breakfast with what appetite you may.”

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 1800's, Culture, Early Republic, Federalists, Magazine, Newspapers, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s