Father's Advice To His Son
( Originally Published 1902 )
WHEN Benjamin Franklin was a young man, just before he started in business for himself, he went from Philadelphia to Boston to make a visit of three days at his father's home. That he might enjoy every minute of the time with his father, he insisted upon going into his soap factory and candle shop to work with him. On the afternoon of the third day, as they walked down the garden path, at the foot of which the factory stood, the father, who had appeared unusually bright and happy during the whole visit, became quite sad at the thought of the parting that was to ensue, and gave his boy some excellent advice. He said: " We part tomorrow, and perhaps never to meet again. Then, O, my son, what a wretch were man without religion ! Yes, Ben, without the hope of immortality, how much better he had never been born ! Without these, his noblest capacities were but the greater curses. The more delightful his friendships, the more dreadful the thought that they may be extinguished forever; and the gayer his prospects, the deeper his gloom that endless darkness may so quickly cover all ! We were yesterday feeding fond hopes, my son; we were yesterday painting bright castles in the air; you were to be a great man and I a happy father. But, alas! this is the last day, my child, that we may ever see each other again, and the sad reverse of this may even now be at the door—when I, instead of hearing of my son's glory in Philadelphia, may hear that he is cold in his grave ! And when you, returning, after years of virtuous toils, returning laden with riches and honors for your happy father to share in, may see nothing of that father but the tomb that covers his dust! Yes, Ben, this may soon be the case with us, my child ; the dark curtain of our separation may drop, and your cheeks, or mine, be flooded with sorrows. But, thanks be to God, that curtain will rise again and open to our view those scenes of happiness, one glance at which is sufficient to start the tear of transport into our eyes. Religion assures us of all this ; religion assures us that life is but the morning of our existence—that there is a glorious eternity beyond, and that to the penitent death is but the passage to that happy life where they shall soon meet again, to part no more, but to congratulate their mutual felicities forever. Then, O son, lay hold of religion and secure an interest in those blessed hopes that contribute so much to the virtues and the joys of life."
It would be hard for any father to give better advice to any son. No son, entering upon the activities of business life, could do better than to take the advice which Franklin's father gave to him, and which he followed so faith-fully.