« 上一頁繼續 »
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 áre 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 scorns 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
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 regulate 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 of wo. 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 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 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 happinesss. 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 putrifies 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 yourselves 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 contemptible 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 cmulous to excel. Generous ambition and sensibility to praise, arc, especially at your age, among the marks of virtue. 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 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 Truc 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 by 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 ahove 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 RESTORER 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
respect of every being to whom hé 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. I am wonderfully well pleased with the reply which Aristippus made to one who condoled him upon the loss of a farm: 66 Why," said he, 6 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 are more apt to consider what they have lost, than what they possess; and to fix their eyes upon those who are richer than themselves, 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 humour of mankind to be always looking forward, and straining after one who has got the start of them in wealth and honour. For this reason, as there are none can be properly called rich, who have not more than they want; there are few rich 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 endeavour to outvie one another in shadows and appearances. 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 secre: satisfaction which others are always in quest of. The truth is, this ridiculous chace 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