Page images
PDF
EPUB

good breeding with you which is, in the first place, decent, and which, I am fire, is absolutely necessary to make us like one another's company long.

XXII. Address to a young Student. YOUR parents have watched over your helpless in

fancy, and conducted you, with many a pang, to an age at which your mind is capable of manly improvement, Their folicitude still continues, and no trouble ngr expence is spared in giving you all the instructions and accomplishments which may enable you to act your part in life, as a man of polished sense and confirmed virtue. You have, then, already contracted a great debt of gratitude to them. You can pay it by no other me. thod but by using properly the advantages which their goodness has afforded you.

If your own endeavours are deficient, it is in vain that you have tutors, books, and all the external apparatus of literary pursuits. You must love learning, if you would possess it. In order to love it, you must feel its delights; in order to feel its delights, you muft apply to it, bowever irksome at first, closely, conftantly, and for a considerable time. If you have resolution enough to do this, you cannot but love learning ; for the mind always loves that to which it has been long, steadily, and voluntarily attached. Habits are formed, which render what was at first disagreeable, not only pleasant, but necessary.

Pleasant, indeed, are all the paths which lead to polite and elegant literature. Yours, then, is surely a lot particularly happy. Your education is of such a fort, that its principal scope is to prepare you to receive a refined pleasure during your life. Elegance, or delicacy of tafte, is one of the first objects of a classical discipline; and it is this fine quality which opens a jew world to the scholar's view. Elegance of taite has a connection with many virtues, and all of them virtues of the most amiable kind. It tends to render you at once good and agreeable. You must therefore be an enemy to your own enjoyments, if you enter on the discipline which leads to the attainment of a classical and liberal education with reluctance. Value duly the opportunities you

D

enjoy

enjoy, and which are denied to thousands of your fellowcreatures.

Without exemplary diligence you will make but a con. temptible proficiency. You may, indeed, pass through the forms of schools and universities, but you will bring nothing away from thein of real value. The proper fort and degree of diligence you cannot possess, but by the efforts of your own resolution. Your instructor may, indeed, confine you within the walls of a school a certain number of hours. He may place books before you, and compel you to fix your eyes upon them; but no authority can chain down your mind. Your thoughts will escape from every external restraint, and, amidst the most serious lectures, may be ranging in the wild purfuit of trifles or vice. Rules, restraints, commands, and punishments, may, indeed, assist in ftrengthening your resolution ; but, without your own voluntary choice, your diligence will not often conduce to your pleasure or advantage. Though this truth is obvious, yet it seems to be a secret to those parents who expect to find their son's improvement increase in proportion to the number of tutors and external assistances which their opulence has enabled them to provide. These aflitances, indeed, are sometimes afforded, chiefly that the young heir to a title or estate may indulge hinself in idleness and nominal pleasures. The lesson is construed to him, and the exercise written for him by the private tutor, while the hapless youth is engaged in fome ruinous pleasure, which, at the same time, prevents him from learning any thing desirable, and leads to the formation of destructive ha. bits, which can seldom be removed.

But the principal obitacle to your improvement at school, especially if you are too plentifully supplied with money, is a perverse ambition of being distinguished as a boy of spirit in mischievous pranks, in neglecting the tasks and lessons, and for every vice and irregularity which the puerile a je can admit, You will have fenfe enough, I hope, to discover, beneath the mask of gaiety and good-nature, that malignant fpirit of de raction, which endeavours to render the boy who applies to books, and to all the duties and proper business at the fchool, ridiculous. You will see, by the light of your

rea.

reaion, that the ridicule is milapplied. You will dit. cover, that the boys who have recourse to ridicule, are, for the most part, ftupid, unfeeling, ignorant, and vicious. Their noisy folly, their bold confidence, their contempt of learuing, and their defiance of authority, are, for the most part, the genuine effects of hardened i fenfibility. Let not their insults and ill-treatment dispirit you. If you yield to them with a tame and ab. ject fubmiflion, they will not fail to triumph over you with additional infolence. Display a fortitude in your pursuits, equal in degree to the obstinacy in which they perfist in theirs. Your fortitude will soon overcome theirs; which is, indeed, seldom any thing more than the audacity of a bully. Indeed, you cannot go through a Ichool with ease to yourself, and with success, withont a confiderable fare of coorage. I do not mean that fort of courage which leads to battles and contentions, but which enables you to have a will of your own, and to pursue what is right, amidst all the perfecutions of surrounding enviers, dunces, and detractors. Ridicule is the weapon made use of at school, as well as in the world, when the fortresses of virtue are to be aslailed, You will effectually repel the attack by a dauntless fpirit and unyielding perseverance. Though numbers are against you, yet, with truth and rectitude on your side, you may, though alone, be equal to an army.

By laying in a store of useful knowledge, adorning your mind with elegant literature, improving and establishing your conduct by virtuous principles, you cannot fail of being a comfort to those friends who have fupported you, of being happy within yourself, and of be. ing well received by mankind. Honour and success in life will probably attend you. Under all circumstances you will have an internal source of confolation and entertainment, of which no sublunary viciffitude can de prive you. Time will show how much wiler has been your choice than that of your idle companions, who wonld gladly have drawn you into their affociation, or rather into their confpiracy, as it has been called, against good manners, and against all that is honourable and useful. While you appear in fociety as a respectable and va

luable

D 2

luable member of it, they will, perhaps, have facrificed, at the shrine of vanity, pride, extravagance, and false pleasure, their health and their fenfe, their fortunes and their characters.

XXIII. Advantages of, and Motives to, Cheerfulness. CHEERFULNESS is, in the firit place, the best promoter

of health. Repinings and secret murmurs of heart give imperceptible ftrokes to those delicate fibres of which the vital parts are compoled, and wear out the machine insensibly ; not to mention those violent ferments which they ftir up in the blood, and those irre. gular disturbed motions which they raise in the animal 1pirits. I scarce remember, in my own observation, to have met with many old men, or with such who (to use our English phrase) wear well, that had not at least a certain indolence in their humour, if not a more than ordinary gaiety and cheerfulness of heart. The truth of it is, health and cheerfulness mutually beget each other; with this difference, that we seldom meet with a great degree of health which is not attended with a certain cheerfulness, but very often see cheerfulness where there is no great degree of health.

Cheerfuluess bears the fame friendly regard to the mind as to the body : it banishes all anxious care and discontent, foothes and composes the paffions, and keeps the soul in a perpetual calm.

If we consider the world in its subserviency to man, one would think it was made for our use ; but if we consider it in its natural beauty and harmony, one would be apt to conclude it was made for our pleasure. The fun, which is as the great foul of the universe, and produces all the necessaries of life, has a particular influence in cheering the mind of man, and making the heart glad.

Those severál living creatures which are made for our service or sustenance, at the same time either fill the woods with their music, furnish us with game, or raise pleasing ideas in us by the delightfulness of their appearance. "Fountains, lakes, and rivers, are as refrelli. ing to the imagination, as to the soil through which they pass.

There

There are writers of great distinction, who have made it an argument for Providence, that the whole earth is covered with green, rather than with any other colour, as being such a right mixture of light and dade, that it comforts and strengthens the eye inttead of weakening or grieving it. For this reason, several painters have a green cloth hanging near them, to ease the eye upon, after too great an application to their colouring. A famous modern, philosopher accounts for it in the following manner: Alf colours that are more luminous, overpower and dissipate the animal spirits which are einployed in fight ; on the contrary, those that are more. obfcure do not give the animal spirits a sufficient exercite : whereas the rays that produce in us the idea of green, fall upon the eye in such a due proportion, that they give the animal spirits their proper play, and by keeping up the struggle in a juft balance, excite a very pleating and agreeable sensation. Let the cause be what it will, the effect is certain ; for which reason the poets afe ribe to this particular colour the epithet of Cheerfui.

To consider further this double end in the works of nature, and how they are at the same time both useful and entei taining, we find that the most important paris in the vegetable world are triose which are the most beautiful. These are the seeds by which the several races of plants are prepagated and continued, and which are always lodged in flowers or blossoms. . Nature feenis to hide her principal design, and to be industrious in making the earth. gay and delightful, while he is carrying on her great work, and intent upon her own preservation. The husbandman, after i he same mauner, is employed in laying out the whole country into a kind of garden or Jandíkip, and making every thing smile about him, whilft, in reality, he thinks of nothing but of the harvest, and increase which is to arise from it.

We may fartler observe how Providence has taken. care to keep up this cheerfulness in the mind of man, by having formed it after such a manner, as to make it capable of conceiving delight from several objects which seem to have very little use in them ; as from the wildnels of rocks and deserts, and the like grotesque parts of nature. Those who are versed in philosophy may till

[ocr errors]

D. 3.

carry

« PreviousContinue »