« 上一頁繼續 »
circumstances are the only excuse for a shorter period of preparation. Should such circumstances compel you to employ a less time in your preparatory studies, supply the deficiency, as much as may be, by superior application both before and afterwards. Make every day, and every hour, yield its advantages by unremitted diligence. Like Jacob, wrestling with the angel, suffer not one to leave you, till it shall have blessed you.
Remember, that a little knowledge gained every day, will make a rich year; that drops fill the ocean, and that sands form the shore.
Methodise, for this end, your whole time. Appropriate its due part to recreation, to food, to sleep, and to business. Methodised time, like methodised business, goes on, not only easily, but advantageously. The Pensionary, De Wit, with more business on his hands than fell to any man in Europe, had always leisure for conversation, and for amusement.
For this end, also, decide, as soon as you can decide satisfactorily, on the profession, in which you are to spend your lives. Indecision and delay, in this concern will injure your happiness, and your
character. Destitute of any object, to engross your attention, and to employ your faculties, your minds will be harassed by suspense, benumbed by listlessness, and depressed by melancholy. At the same time, in a country, where, happily, every man is a man of business, you will be viewed as wavering and indolent, as devouring the sweets of the hive, and adding nothing to the common stock.
2. When you are regularly admitted into the profession, which you adopt, there will usually intervene an unhappy period between your first attempts to obtain employment, and your actual attainment of the business, at which you aim. At this period, you will have no present object to fill your attention and your time. At this period, the horizon of life will be overcast, and the clouds of the morning will appear to you to announce a gloomy and distressing day.
In this uncertain, anxious, situation, many worthy and promising young men are driven to the borders of despair, and either droop into inexertion, or plunge into vice and infamy. Be warned by their unhappy example; and shun the ruin, in which they have been involved.
While I give you this caution, I ought to assist you, in adopting it, by furnishing you with both means and motives. Remember,
First. That this is not a case, peculiar to you; that it is not the effect of any fault or inability of yours ; but the natural result of the crowded state of the liberal professions. Divinity is indeed less crowded, than Law or Medieme; but the older, more improved, and more respectable parishes, which most naturally invite the attention of a young gentleman, will present to his eye a moderate number of vacancies.
Secondly. Bear in mind, that others, who have gone before you, have struggled with the same evils, and surmounted them. They surmounted them by industry and perseverance. The same industry and perseverance will enable you, also, to surmount them. Maukind will always need the services of the wise and the good, and will always possess sufficient ability to discern those, who are furnished with wisdom and goodness. If you labour for these attributes, you will certainly possess them; and if you possess them you will be, for no very long period, unnoticed, or unemployed.
Thirdly. In this unhappy interval, seek for any honest employment, to fill up the painful vacuity; any employment, I mean, which will not retard your professional progress. Should it gratify ambition less than you wish, it will supply that deficiency, by its usefulness to your character, and to your peace.
In this country, all employments, being voluntarily given, are given, of course, to those, in whom contidence is placed. Confidence is always placed in men, who prove themselves to be persons of ability and integrity. This proof is found only in the previous conduct. Our countrymen, with that good sense, for which they are distinguished, uniformly insist on the high evidence of facts, as the proper proof of that worth, which is to be rewarded with their confidence. Hence,
Fourthly, results a rule of life of the last importance-To do zohatever business you undertake, as well as you are able.
As you have acted in the last station, which you have holden, you will be expected to act in the next. From the character, which you have sustained. where you last lived, will be formed the estimate of those, among whom you now lide. If you have
discharged the trusts, heretofore reposed in you, and performed the business, which you have heretofore undertaken, with skill and faithfulness, your fellow-citizens will, with confidence, entrust and employ you again. Let not the smallness, or humblea ness, of the employment, induce you to neglect, nor to slight, the duties, which it brings. Whatever it is, you have thought proper to undertake it, and have thus furnished unanswerable reasons why you should discharge it faithfully. In this world, also, as well as in that to come, you are to remember, that he, who has been faithful over a few things, may expect to be called to superintend many. Throughout that period of your lives, which will precede the age of forty, you ought to view yourselves as apprenticed by the public ; and to feel the fullest conviction, that whenever your countrymen have become satisfied of your skill and fidelity, in the subordinate gradations of character and business, they will cheerfully employ you as Master-workmen.
3. When you have begun the business of Life; your chief duty will be fidelity in the business of your profession.
One of the first requisites to this end, is diligent study through life. The immense importance of this requisite is unhappily insufficient, in many cases, to engross the necessary attention. Multitudes of hopeful Youths, and many of them originally studious, for one reason, and another, quit, by degrees, this desirable course; and become so indolent, or so occupied, as, after their entrance into business, to increase, scarcely at all, their understanding, or their reputation. Some professional men are so poor, as to be destitute of books, and obliged to labour daily for subsistence. Others are too much engrossed by their active employments. The Physician has too many patients ; the Lawyer too many clients; and the Clergyman too large a parish. Others are already possessed of both business and character, and feel themselves to stand in need of no further application. From these and the like causes, there are comparatively few studious men in any profession.
In neither of these instances is found a sufficient excuse for the neglect of study. The demands of poverty are indeed irresistible; but these demands are rarely so violent, as necessarily to produce the alleged consequence. Men in small circumstances
have much time, which is spent in employments, neither so useful, nor so entertaining, as study. Social libraries are, or may be, established, with a small expense to individuals in every neighbourhood; and books may be frequently and conveniently borrowed. The other classes are tot::Jly inexcusable. What unstudious Clergyman might not, with study, preach better sermons ? What Lawyer of the same character might not do more justice to his causes ? What Physician, to his patients ?
In addition to what has been already urged on the subject of study, let me advise you to aim, when you commence business, at distinguished character. Be not sat sfied with merely escaping blame, or mingling with the mass. Determine to excel; not from the envious wish to look down ou others; but from the generous love of excellence; and from the evangelical desire of doing good. Let sloth, ignorance, and insignificance, jog quietly on in the downward track, so congenial to their character. Lift your eyes to the hills of science, dignity, and virtue, and consider the rocks and the steeps, as obstacles placed there merely to be gloriously overcome. Halt not, on account of any suspected deficiency in your talents. Toil is the great instrument of excelling; application the chief source of human distinction. Of the great Marlborough, Chesterfield has written, that he was destitute of genius. No man is useful, or honourable, without industry; few industrious men are found to be void of respectable talents.
In the next place, labour to do the best in your power, in every case in which you attempt to do any thing.
Should any of you pursue the Medical Profession, do all that for each patient, and do it in the same manner, as you would, if your reputation and your living were suspended on that single case. A great part of medical skill lies in determining the nature of the disease. To make this determination satisfactorily, it will often be necessary, that you should spend no small time in examining. This time you may grudge; it is often grudged. To comfort you under the loss, let me remind you, that you will have done your duty, and that your duty cannot be otherwise done. You must, I am sensible, in this way, deprive yourselves of many amusements; and amusements have many and powerful charms. Probably I may not be able successfully to plead against them. I
have known a physician spend two hours quietly at a social dinner, who has finished his visit to a patient, languishing with a malignant fever, in two minutes. That Physician forgot that God was present.
Consult carefully the best books, in every important case; but more carefully still employ your own eyes to examine facts. In every interesting case, many facts will occur, which no book will describe. These will also be varied in new manners,
and blended in new complications. The least, and seemingly the most insigniticant, are often of high importance.
Whatever you observe, of a peculiar nature, note in a common place book; and ultimately arrange, in a volume of superior cha. racter. Whatever other importance this may sustain, it will be certainly known by you, will, of course, be highly useful to you, and may be so to mankind.
Aim, also, at a friendly and honourable intercourse with your medical brethren. Such an intercourse has not always existed among gentlemen of that profession. In cases of high distress, the wretchedness of many families bas been aggravated, by find. ing, that they could not have the benefit of one Physician's advice, merely because they had employed another. A contrary conduct will confer on you honour and distinction. Let me advise you, for this end, to speak respectfully, at least not censoriously, of your brethren; and if you should be called upon to visit their patients, not to preface your prescriptions with censuring theirs,
Some of you will probably be found at the Bar. In this station, I shall not think it necessary to urge upon you honesty in transacting the pecuniary concerns of your clients. To this Coarsespun honesty a very moderate regard for your own prosperity will sufficiently prompt you.
A more refined integrity ought to engage your attention. Your own feelings in the ar. dour of contest, and the wishes of your clients, will naturally pre. sent to you strong temptations to enhance arguments, to discolour facts, and to pervert Law. Suffer not these temptations to prevail. Make it at first, a rule, from which you are never to swerve, to understand the true import of Law as well as you can, and to represent it in exact accordance with your views; to watch