Journal of Dr GFW
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I was much pleased today on listening to a stranger endeavoring to show his information and imposing on some of the wise townsmen, merely by show. And he did succeed admirably well. He took a historical circle, in the first place; then a political tour. Then he spoke long and loud on morality and closed with a few patriotic observations. He was a real predestinarian and in order to prove what he advanced, said that Bonaparte was ordained to just what he did and it was impossible for him to have done anything more or further. And that he was buried in Spain and that the people had, from their love to him, erected a great monument to his memory. I need say no more of his information as all was about as correct as this mentioned. But here the people were astonished at the extent of his acquirements, and many almost believed him a prophet.·How often do we see men possessing no information endeavoring to imitate those who do possess valuable and extensive information and why is it so? Because the most ignorant can see that a well-cultivated mind is an ornament to those who possess it and use it for good and noble purposes. Indeed it is a worthy acquisition and much neglected. The moments of youth cannot be better employed than acquiring those stores of laudable information calculated to produce respect for themselves and be of incalculable importance to society. And I hope you will endeavor to improve the mind in those things which are of importance.
Whenever an individual attempts to palm himself on the public for that which he is not, he generally, in endeavoring to conceal his want of the necessary knowledge for that particular occupation, he exposes his ignorance in this attempt. It is much the better way to make no pretension beyond what you feel conscious you can perform well. A diffidence of our abilities is preferable. I have been led to these observations in consequence of the observation forced on me last night. I was confined in Surry County in consequence of the swell of the Yadkin River and could not return home. I stayed at Mr. Joseph Conrad's. He was very kind and sociable and had it not been for the idea of my own dear home, I could have pased the night quite agreeable. During the day, Mr. Conrad conducted me over his plantion, praising with seeming delight his premises, stating how many hills of corn; then to such a place, how many barrels he had gathered, etc., etc. He took me to his brother's plantation just below. I find that some Negroes take a pride in the quantity of grain they produce for those to whom they belong.
While thus rambling over farms, my mind seemed to dwell incessantly on home, so that all these subjects afforded no pleasure. My wife, the River, the difficulty, the danger, the probability and possibility of getting over the water kept me in a state of constant anxiety. The longer I stayed the uneasiness seemed to increase; at last, I was determined to go, as I could get across the River in a canoe, even if I should be forced to leave my horse. However, home I must come, and accordingly to the River I went, determined to cross and go home. As we came to the water there were ten or fifteen Negroes preparing to cross. They poled far up the River, and as soon as they changed their course and struck the current of the water, there was no more guiding the boat; down the stream they all went, as merry a set of fellows as I ever saw. They gradually came to the shore after going down about half a mile and had to pull up against a strong current. Among these Negroes was one who had left his master, and he expected them in prusuit, and I have never seen a man apparently in more distress from similar circumstances. Indeed the fellow shed tears copiously. After finding that the boat could not cross, Mr. Conrad proposed to swim my horse across by the side of a canoe, and after some solicitation and my horse warranted, I consented and had him take over with perfect safety and myself also. After giving my assistants a hearty thanks and a few pood promises, I left for home.
In such cases it is the mark of wisdom to stay until there is less danger in our undertaking. We should, by all means, endeavor to be at home when we can, but by our anxiety to get home, we should not encounter dangers that might prove fatal to existence. After much difficulty, I got safe over and soon arrived at home to an anxious companion. Mother came here in the evening and spent a few pleasant moments. Same secret poison corrodes her breast. Mr. Wm. A. Lash was also here and related some of his mischievous tricks in perfect accord with his principles.