« AnteriorContinua »
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 of woe. Let not ease and in. dulgence 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 dy. ing 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.—Is.
DILIGENCE, industry, and proper improvement of time are material duties of the young. To no pur. pose 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, eith. er 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 pros. pects which the beginning of life affords. If, dead to these calls, you already languish in slothful 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 labor 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 Aourishing^ 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 vapors, and fills the atmosphere with death. Fly therefore from idleness, as the certain parent both of guilt and ruin. And under idleness I include, no' 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 labors 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 yourselves to the thinking part of the world, and to answer the expectations of your friends and your country ? Amusements youth requires ; 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 vigor of youth into contemptible effeminacy.
VIII.-Proper employment of Time.—Ib.
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 honorable 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 employmentsto a well disposed mind. Wha ever you pursue, be emulous to excel. Generous ambition, and sensibility to praise, are, especially at your age, among the marks of virtile. Think not that any- affluence of fortune, or any elevation of rank, exempts you from the duties of application and industry. Industry is the law of 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.
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 10 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.-ART OF THINKING.
ANDREW DORIA, of Genoa, the greatest sea captain of the age he lived in, set his country free from the yoke of France. Beloved by his fellow citizens, and supported by the emperor Charles V. it was in his pow
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 servi. ces ; 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 honored 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 honorable of all titles—Father of his COUNTRY, and RESTOREK of its LIBERTY.
X... On Contentment.Spectator. CONTENTMENT produces, in some measure, all those effects which the alchemist usually ascribes to what he calls the philotopher'a atone ; 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 influ. ence on the soul of a man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmur, repining and ingratitude towards that being, who has allotted him his part to act in this world. It destroys all inordinate ambition, and every tendency to corruption, with regard to the community wherein he is placed. It gives sweetness to his conversation, and perpetual serenity to all his thoughts.
Among the many methods which might be made use of for acquiring of this virtue, I shall only mention the two following. First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants ; and secondly how much more unhappy he might be, than he really is.
First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants. 1 am wonderfully well pleased with the reply which Aristippus made to one who condoled him upon the loss of a farm : " Why," said he, " I have three farms still, and you have but one, so that I ought rather to be afflicted for you than you for me." On the contrary, foolish men apt to consider what they have lost, than what they pos. sess; and to fix their eyes upon those who are richer than theinselves, rather than on those who are under greater difficulties. All the real pleasures and conveniences of life lie in a narrow compass ; but it is the humor of mankind to be always looking forward, and straining after one who has got the start of thein in wealth and honor. For this reason, as there are none can be properly called rich who have not more than they want ; there are few men,
in any of the politer nations, but among the middle sort of people, who keep their wishes within their
fortunes, and have more wealth than they know how to enjoy. Persons of higher rank live in a kind of splendid poverty ; and are perpetually wanting, because, instead of acquiescing in the solid pleasures of life, they endeavor to outvie one another in shadows and appear. ances. Men of sense have at all times beheld, with a great deal of mirth, this silly game that is playing over their heads ; and by contracting their desires, enjoy all that secret satisfaction which others are always in quest of The truth is, this ridiculous chase after imaginary pleasure cannot be sufficiently exposed, as it is the great source of those evils which generally undo a nation. Let a man's estate be what it will, he is a poor man if he does not live within it, and naturally sets himself to sale to any one who can give him his price. When Pittacus, after the death of his brother, who had left him a good estate, was offered a great sum of money by the king of Lydia, he thanked him for his kindness, but told him he had already more by half than he knew what to do with. In short, content is equivalent to wealth, and luxury to poverty; or, to give the thought a more a. greeable turn, " Content is natural wealth," says Socrates; to which I shall add, Luxury is artificial poverty. I shall therefore recommend to the consideration of those who are always aiming after superfluous and imaginary enjoyments, and will not be at the trouble of contracting their desires, an excellent saying of Bion the philosopher, namely, “ That no man has so much care as he who endeavors after the most happiness."
In the second place every one ought to reflect how much more unhappy he might be than he really is. The former consideration took in all those who are sufficiently provided with the means to make themselves easy ; this regards such as actually lie under some pressure or misfortune. These may receive great alleviation from such a comparison as the unhappy person may make between himself and others, or between the misfortune which he suffers, and greater misfortunes which might have befallen him.
I like the story of the honest Dutchman, who upon breaking his leg by a fall from the mainmast, told the