Journal of Dr GFW
Tuesday, 10 June, 1828
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Morning once more awakens the busy tribes of earth. The lark ascends on high to meet th eorient beams of day. The bleating flocks and lowing herds now throng the plain to satisfy the calls of nature, that ease and repose may be enjoyed when the more fervid heat of the sun's meridian splendor shall arrive. But can these animals participate in pleasure? Are they capable of enjoyment? There are but few, if any, who would not answer this question in the affirmative and to this I would not object. But there are those who act without reflection, and know not what they do believe or what the doctrine to which they adhere teaches, and these will say they do enjoy pleasure. Now, if I am not mistaken in my ideas on the subject, to enjoy supposes an idea or knowledge of the thing enjoyed or the passing event. Now if this be admitted, it necessarily follows there must be reflection, and reflection declares a mind, and mind proves there must be thought; and this proves the same principle exists in animals that does in man and the only difference is in the degree. But this answer it will not do to say or you will be stigmatized as a theist or worst a deist, heathen and unfit for society. Yet the same people use language importing the same thing everyday and in their conduct toward animals they acknowledge it. Some over whom superstition reigns uncontrolled imagine when they leave this world and enter the pains or pleasures of the next, they will there have a perfect knowledge of the pasing events in the community where they no live, and of all the suffering they may have endured here, but think that an animal can have no such situation when it seems from every view they have ideas of pleasure and pain. Think and reflect.
That a man has a soul superadded to his body, and that soul is the cause of the mental phenomena exhibited by him in all the variety of expression and sensation of hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting; and that he lives by the food he receives will not be denied. Now show me that the dog who obeys you call is not possessed of faculties and manifestations of faculties precisely the same, only in degree. The same cause supports both; the same external cause will produce the same pain in both, the same cause will alike cause the death of both. Then I would ask, why does man claim this high superiority? But if you admit that organization produces the acts of mental phenomena, then all this difficulty vanishes and the character of the Creator is set forth in a more brilliant light, and His ways are vindicated on the foundation of our understanding, the only legitimate of correct knowledge. For, if a thing be said to have come from the Creator that is repugnant to every principle of humanity and made obligatory for us to believe, many, if not all, must have their doubts as to its origin and consequently will disregard its requisitions. It is done every day in relation to the revealed record we have now for our guide in matters of religion. Even if there are a few who dare openly to avow a disbelief, yet their actions speak volumes.
Suppose you say that man is entirely material and that no immortal influence or principle is now in this state of existence, and that all the intellectual phenomena are the result of omnipotent wisdom in refining matter and organizing our faculties in nicety in exact proportion to the effect to be produced; and then, as it is declared in Sacred Writ, that this mortal shall put on immortality and this corruption put on incorruption. Here, in this view of the subject, no difficulty arises. You teach man to understand, and understanding and reason tell him it was correct; his disbelief could not continue when he is convinced he must believe. There is no way to escape it. ButI will leave the subject. Time and more reflection may change my ideas, so I forbear to express them at this time.
The cool shades of evening now appear and give me time for reflection, and I have examined myself a little attentively and from the feelings there deposited, I will judge of others. And in the beginning I will make this short preface. Man is an unstable and curious creature; he is indeed singular to everybody, and still ore surprisingly, singular to himself. I find now there is a plain but gentle effort gradually touching a delicate point in my feelings and one to that I had supposed invulnerable, let the attack be feeble or Strong, and all this is going entirely against my previous deliberate determination. I then say this will not answer how long have you been in this place? Not yet two weeks. We know not ourselves, a small unnoticed occurrence will introduce things that increase in magnitude every moment and if not arrested, in the bud, and at the first appearance, will in a short time defy our control, and in the end assume a control over us. This it is with gambling, a man at first commences solely for amusement, but indulging in it frequently, it becomes as permanently established as any other occupation. And when he wishes to quit he finds t is absolutely necessary for his happiness, being convinced that this is the case he partakes of it more eagerness, and at last, leads him on into vices, at which he once Shuddered. Such I hope will never be the practice of you, for whose benefit these pages have been written. Turn your face as you would from the deadly viper, and visit not the place of such performances. These are vicious practices, yet there are dangers besides them, equlaly fatal to your peace if immoderately indulged; I mean the too early and injudicious, of love, in the common aceptation of the term as used among the young. When you perceive this youthful passion, and your circumstances and age are not compatible with objects of such desires, I would advice an immediate withdrawal from any and every species of intimacy with the object so admired.
Well, finding such to be my situation, and that too without seeking, I again resolve to fling all Cupid's darts, hurled by whom they may be, even if pointed with gold and silver, or entirely composed of these materials, I say to the pride of North Carolina and all the North and South combined, place not your eyes on me however much I may admire; however great may be my desire, to please or be pleased, I will never give way until time and circumstance make it proper and expedient. This is, I must have a competence of my own, earned by these hands. Here then you have my present determination and these pages, if attended to, will show how I may live in accordance with them, but if my example be contrary, I wish you to avoid it. I have now the most delicate feelings to overcome, insinuating passions to encounter, and under circumstances the most enticing. Men here do not imagine how easily the are laid palsied at once. It has been said we are apt to love those who love us, or we respect those who respect us, and in fact I believe in general it will be found true. When we become sensible that any individual manifests a more defined attachment to us than to any other individual, and particularly so if it be a female, we are apt to some defined partiality for them and are apt to use our endeavors to induce the belief that we have as much or more regard for them as they for us, even if we not one-quarter as much; this is wrong, it is improper and unjust in every respect, and should never be attempted. If then any have entertained sentiments of this nature for me, I entreat the guardian of female happiness to keep it from my knowledge, not because it cannot be returned, but because it may induce me to show a preference not compatible with my determination, and create stronger hopes that must end in disappointment. It cannot, it must not be. I must never approach the edge of dangerous precipice. Thousands have been hurled . I must hope that will never suffer yourself to be captivated sufficiently to be of injury to you or others. Caution is the parent of safety and cannot be too kindly treated on this subject. It is indeed a dangerous situation to you. (Live while life is in your power.)