Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

fathers; of him to whom your parents devoted you ; of him whom, in former ages, your ancestors honoured; and by whom they are now rewarded and blessed in heaven. Connected with so many tender sensibilities of soul, let religion be with you, not the cold and barren offspring of speculation; but the warm and vigorous dictate of the heart.

IV.-Modesty and Docility. TO piety, join modesty and docility, reverence to your parents, and submission to those who are your superiors in knowledge, in station, and in years. Dependence and obedience belong to youth. Modesty is one of its chief ornaments; and has ever been esteemed a presage of rising mcrit.

When entering on the career of life, it is your part not to assume the reins as yet, into your hands ; but to commit yourselves to the guidance of the more experienced, and to become wise by the wisdom of those who have gone before you. Of all the follies incident to youth, there are none which either deform its present appearance, or blast the prospect of its future prosperity, more than self conceit, presumption, and obstinacy. By checking its natural progress in improvement, they fix it in long immaturity; and frequently produce mischiefs which can never be repaired. Yet these are vices too commonly found among the young Big with enterprise, and elated by hope, the resolve io trust for success to none but themselves. Pof their own abilities, they deride the admonitions which are given them by their friends, as the timorous suggestions of age. Too wise to learn, too impatient to deliberate, too forward to be restrained, they plunge, with precipitant indiscretion, into the midst of all the dangers with vich life a bounds.

V.-Sincerity. IT is necessary to recommend to you sincerity and truth. These are the basis of every virtue. That darkness of character, where we can see no heart; those foldings of art, through which no native affection is allowed to penetrate, present an object unamiable in every season of life, but particularly odious in youth. If, at an age when the heart is warm, when the emotions are strong, and when nature is expected to show herself free and open, you can already smile and deceive, what are we to look for when you shall he longer hackneyed in the ways of men ; when interest shall have completed the obduration of your heart ; and experi

ence shall have improved you in all the arts of guile? Dissimulation in youth is the forerunner of perfidy in old age. Its first appearance is the fated omen of growing depravity and future shame. It degrades parts and learning, obscures the lustre of every accomplishment, and sinks you into contempt with God and man. As you value, therefore, the approbation of heaven, or the esteem of the world, cultivate the love of truth. In all your proceedings, be direct and consistent. Ingenuity and candour possess the most powerful charm : they bespeak universal favour, and carry an apology for almost every failing. The path of truth is a plain and safe path; that of falsehood is a perplexing maze. After the first departure from sincerity, it is not in your power to stop. One artifice unavoidably leads on to another : till, as the intricacy of the labyrinth increases, you are left entangled in your own snare. Deceit discovers a little mind, which stops at temporary expedients, without rising to comprehensive views of conduct. It betrays, at the same time, a dastardly spirit. It is the resource of one who wants courage to avow his designs, or to rest upon himself. Whereas, openness of character displays that generous boldness, which ought to distinguish youth. To set out in the world with no other principle than a crafty attention to interest, betokens one who is destined for creeping through the inferior walks of life : but to give an early preference to honour above gain, when they stand in competition; to despise every advantage which cannot be attained without dishonest arts; to brook no meanness, and to stoop to no dissimulation, are the indications of a great mind, the presages of future eminence and distinction in life. At the same time, this virtuous sincerity is perfectly consistent with the most prudent vigilance and caution. It is opposed to cunning, not to true wisdom. It is not the simplicity of a weak and improvident, but the candour of an enlarged and noble mind; of one who scorps deceit, because he accounts it both base and unprofitable ; and who seeks no disguise, because he needs none to hide him.

VI.-Benevolence and Humanity. YOUTH is the proper season for cultivating the benevolent and humane affections. As a great part of your happiness is to depend on the connexions which you form with others, it is of high importance that you acquire betimes, the temper and the manners which will render such connexions

of wo.

comfortable. Let a sense of justice be the foundation of all your social qualities. In your most early intercourse with the world, and even in your youthful amusements, let no unfairness be found. Engrave on your mind that sacred rule of “doing in all things to others according to your wish that they should do unto you.” For this end, impress yourselves with a deep sense of the original and natural equality of men.

Whatever advantage of birth or fortune you possess, never display them with an ostentatious superiority. Leave the subordinations of rank to fegulate the intercourse of more advanced years. At present it becomes you to act among your companions as man with man. Remember how unknown to you are the vicissitudes of the world; and how often they, on whom ignorant and contemptuous young men once looked down with scorn, have risen to be their superiors in future years. Compassion is an emotion of which you ought never to be ashamed. Graceful in youth is the tear of sympathy, and the heart that melts at the tale

Let not ease and indulgences contract your affections, and wrap you up in selfish enjoyment. Accustom yourselves to think of the distresses of human life; of the solitary cottage, the dying parent, and the weeping orphan. Never sport with pain and distress in any of your amusements, nor treat even the meanest insect with wanton cruelty.

VII.-Industry and Application. DILIGENCE, industry, and proper application of time, are material duties of the young. To no purpose are they endowed with the best abilities, if they want activity for exerting them. Unavailing in this case, will be every direction that can be given them, either for their temporal or spiritual welfare. In youth the habits of industry are most easily acquired; in youth the incentives to it are strongest from ambition and from duty, from emulation and hope, from all the prospects which the beginning of life affords. If, dead to these calls, you already languish in slotiiful inaction, what will be able to quicken the more sluggish current of advancing years ?. Industry is not only the instrument of improvement, but the foundation of pleasure. Nothing is so opposite to true enjoyment of life, as the relaxed and feeble state of an indolent mind. He who is a stranger to industry, may possess, but he cannot enjoy. For it is labour only which gives the relish to pleasure. It is the appointed vehicle of every good man. It is the indispensable condition of our possessing a sound mind in a sound body. Sloth is so inconsistent with both, that it is hard to determine whether it be a greater foe to virtue,' or to health and happiness. Inactive as it is in itself, its effects are fatally powerful. Though it appear a slowly flowing stream, yet it undermines all that is stable and flourishing. It not only saps the foundation of every virtue, but pours upon you a deluge of crimes and evils. It is like water, which first putrefies by stagnation, and then sends up noxious vapours, and fills the atmosphere with death. Fly, therefore, from idleness, as the certain parent both of guilt and ruin. And under idleness I include, not mere inaction only, but all that circle of trifling occupations in which too many saunter away their youth; perpetually engaged in frivolous society or public amusements; in the labours of dress, or the ostentation of their persons.

Is this the foundation which you lay for future usefulness and esteem ? By such accomplishments do you hope to recommend themselves to the thinking part of the world, and to answer the expectations of your friends and your country ? Amusements youth require; it were vain, it were cruel to prohibit them. But though allowable as the relaxation, they are most culpable as the business of the young.

For they then become the gulf of time, and the poison of the mind. They foment bad passions. They weaken the manly powers. They sink the native vigour of youth into cêntemptible effeminacy.

VIII.- Proper Employment of Time. REDEEMING your time from such dangerous waste, seek to fill it with employments which you may review with satisfaction. The acquisition of knowledge is one of the most honourable occupations of youth. The desire of it discovers a liberal mind, and is connected with many accomplishments and many virtues. But though your train of life should not lead you to study, the course of education always furnishes proper employments to a well disposed mind. Whatever you pursue, be emulous to excel. Genetous ambition and sensibility to praise, are, especially at your age, among the marks of virtue. Think not that

any

affus ence of fortune, or any elevation of rank, exempts you from the duties of application, and industry. Industry is the law

our being; it is the demand of nature, of reason, and of God. Remember, always, that the years which now pass over your heads, leave permanent memorials behind them.

of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

From the thoughtless minds they may escape; but they remain in the remembrance of God. They form an important part of the register of your life. They will hereafter bear testimony, either for or against you, at that day, when for all your actions, but particularly for the employments of youth, you must give an account to God. Whether your future course is destined to be long or short, after this manner it should commence, and if it continue to be thus conducted, its conclusion, at what time soever it arrives, will not be inglorious or unhappy.

IX.--The True Patriot. ANDREW DORIA, of Genoa, the greatest sea captain of the age he lived in, set his country free from the yoke of France. Beloved hy his fellow citizens; and supported by the emperor Charles V., it was in his power to assume sovereignty, without the least struggle. But he preferred the virtuous satisfaction of giving liberty to his countrymen. He declared in public assembly, that the happiness of seeing them once more restored to liberty, was to him a full reward for all his services; that he claimed no pre-eminence above his equals, but remitted to them absolutely to settle a proper form of government. Doria's magnanimity put an end to factions, that had long vexed the state ; and a form of government was established, with great unanimity, the same, that with very little alteration, subsists at present ; Doria lived to a great age, beloved and honoured by his countrymen; and without ever making a single step out of his rank, as a private citizen, he retained, to his dying hour, great influence in the republic. Power, founded on love and gratitude, was to him more pleasant than what is founded on sovereignty. His memory is reverenced by the Genoese ; and, in their histories and public monuments, there is bestowed on him the most honourable of all titles-FaTHER of his Country, and RESTOREf of its LIBERTY.

X. On Contentment. CONTENTMENT produces, in some measure, all those effects which the alchymist usually ascribes to what he calls the philosopher's stone; and if it does not bring riches, it does the same thing, by banishing the desire of them. If it cannot remove the disquietudes arising out of a man's mind, body, or fortune, it makes him easy under them. It has, indeed, a kindly influence on the soul of a man, in

H

« ElőzőTovább »