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'tis well if not the vice, of the general run of conversation. Strive, therefore, as often as you can, to give it a chaste and instructive turn; regarding always the propriety of time and place. And if, on any occasion, an ingenuous honesty of nature, and an abhor. rence of vice and dissimulation, should oblige you to bear your testimony against what you hear; let it be evident to all that you are offended, not at the persons but at the things. Great delicacy is requisite in such cases; and you must blame without anger, in order to remove the offence, and not to wound the offender.
'Tis true, sometimes an animating conviction of a just cause, an undisguised love of divine truth, and a consciousness of superior knowledge, will, in the best of men, on such occasions, produce a seeming warmth of expression, and keenness of expostulation; especially when heated by opposition. But if, from the general tenor of your conduct, you have convinced the world of the goodness of your heart, such starts of passion will be forgiven by your friends, or considered only as the fire from the flint; “ which, being smitten, emits its hasty spark, and is straightway cool again.”
It will be your wisdom, however, to preserve the serenity of your temper; to avoid little disputes; and to raise yourselves above the world, as much as possible. There are really but few things in it, for which a wise man would chuse to exchange his peace of mind; and those petty distinctions, that so much agitate the general run of mankind, are far from being among the number.
But some things there are, nevertheless, which will demand your most vigilant attention; and some occasions, when to be silent or consenting would be a criminal resignation of every pretension to virtue or manhood.
Should your country call, or should you perceive the restless tools of faction at work in their dark cabals, and plotting against the sacred interests of liberty; should you see the corrupters or corrupted imposing upon the public with specious names, undermining the civil and religious principles of their country, and gradually paving the way to certain slavery, by spreading destructive notions of governmentthen, Oh! then, be nobly rouzed! Be all eye, and ear, and heart, and voice, and hand, in a cause so glorious!“ Cry aloud, and spare not,” fearless of danger, undaunted by opposition, and little regardful of the frowns of power, or the machinations of villainy. Let the world know that liberty is your unconquerable delight, and that you are sworn foes to every species of bondage, either of body or of mind!
These are subjects for which you need not be ashamed to sacrifice your ease and every other private advantage--For certainly, if there be aught upon earth suited to the native greatness of the human mind, and worthy of contention; it must be--To
-Το assert the cause of religion and truth; to support the fundamental rights and liberties of mankind; and to strive for the Constitution of our country, and a Government by known laws, not by the arbitrary deci. sions of frail impassioned men.
If, in adhering to these points, it should be your lot, as, alas! it has been the lot of others, to be borne down by ignorance, to be reproached by calumny, and aspersed by falshood, let not these things discourage you
All human virtue, to its latest breath,
While you are conscious of no self-reproach, and are supported by your own integrity, let no earthly power awe you from following the unbiassed dictates of your own heart. Magnanimously assert your private judgment where you know it to be right, and scorn a servile truckling to the names or opinions of others, however dignified. With a manly and intrepid spirit, with a fervent and enlightened zeal, persevere to the last in the cause of your God, your King and your Country. And, though the present age should be blind to your virtue, or refuse you justice, let it not surprize you
The suns of glory please not till they set;
and the succeeding age will make ample amends to your character, at a time when the names of those who have opposed you will be forgotten, or remembered only to their lasting dishonour.
Nevertheless, though you must not expect to escape envy, or to receive the full applause of your
virtue in your own day; yet there will always be some among the better few ready to do you justice, and to judge more candidly. Perhaps, it may be your lot to be singularly favoured by your friends, in this respect. But be not too much elevated thereby. The real good man, as he will never be more un. daunted than when most reviled and opposed in his great career of justice, so he will never be more hum. ble than when most courted and applauded.
The two great rocks of life, especially to youth, are prosperity and adversity. If such meet with any degree either of success or difficulty in the world, before they have learned great self-denial, they are apt, in the one case, to be blown up by an overweening conceit of their own importance; and, in the other, to be borne down by a timid distrust of their own abilities. Both dispositions are equally prejudicial to virtue-the former so far as it tends not to excite emulation, and inspire to worthy actions; and the latter so far as it checks the native ardor of the soul, and ties it down to inglorious pursuits. But the same means will correct both. A larger commerce with the world, and a frequent viewing ourselves through a more impartial medium, compared to others of equal or greater merit, will bring down the one, and raise the other, to its just and proper standard. What was pride before, will then be converted into a sense of honour, and proper dignity of spirit; and what was timidity or self-distrust, will be turned into manly caution, and prudent fore-sight.
Time will not permit me to add more. Happy shall you be, if, by attending to such maxims as these,
you can pass your days, though not with the highest approbation of others, at least with full satisfaction to yourselves! Happy, if in the eve of life, when health and years and other joys decline, you can look back with conscious joy upon the unremitting tenor of an upright conduct; framed and uniformly supported to the last on these noble principles-Religion without hypocrisy, generosity without ostentation, justice tempered with goodness, and patriotism with every domestic virtue!
Ardently praying that this may be your lot, shall take leave of you in the words of old Pollonius to his son
The friends you have, and their adoption try'd,
These things I have sketched for you as the outlines of your duty. I pretend not to go farther. It is not my present business to offer a perfect plan for the conduct of life. Indeed my experience in it has been too small for such an arduous work. And I hope to be judged rather by what I have said, than by what could not properly be said, on such an occasion.