Page images

these if rightly considered, should be far from overcasting the mind with sorrow, or destroying that cheerfulness of temper which I have been recommeoding. This interspersion of evil with good, and pain with pleasure, in the works of nature, is very truly ascribed, by Mr. Locke, in bis essay on human understanding, to a moral reason, in the following words :

" Beyond all this, we may find anotber reason why God hath scattered up and down several degrees of pleasure and pain, in all the things that environ and affect us, and blended them together in almost all that our thoughts and senses have to do with ; that we, finding imperfec

tion, dissatisfaction, and want of complete happiness in ., all the enjoyments which the creatures can afford us, might be led to seek it in the enjoyment of Hou, with whom there is fullness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore."




1.- The bad Reader. -PERCIVAL'S TALES. ULIUS had acquired great credit at Cambridge, by

bis compositions. They were elegant, animated and judicious; and several prizes, al different times, had been adjudged to him. An oration which he deliv. ered the week before he left the university, had been honored with particular applause; and on his return home he was impatient to gratity his vanity, and to extend bis reputation, by having it read to a number of his father's literary friende.

A party was therefore collected; and after dinner the manuscript was produced. Julius declined the office of reader, because he had contracted a hoarseness on his journey; and a conceited young man, with great forwardness, offered his services. Whilst he was settling himself on his seat, licking his lips and adjusting his mouth, hawking, hemming and making other ridiculous preparations for the performance which he had undertaken, a profound silence reigned through the company, the

united effect of attention and expectation. The reader at length began; but his tone of voice was so shrill and dissonant, his utterance so vehement, his pronunciation 80 affected, his emphasis so injurious, and his accents were so improperly placed, that good manners alone restrained the laughter of the audience. Julius was all this while upon the rack, and his arm was more than ence extended to snatch his composition from the coxcomb who delivered it. But he proceeded with full confidence in his own elooution ; uniformly overstepping, as Shakespeare expresses it, the modesty of nature.

When the oration was concluded, the gentlemen returned their thanks to the author; but the compliments which they paid him were more expressive of politeness and civility, than the conviction of his merit. Indeed, the beauties of his composition had been converted, by bad reading, into blemishes; and the sense of it rendered obscure, and even unintelligible. Julias and his father could not conceal their vexation and disappointment ; and the guests, perceiving they laid them under a painful restraint, withdrew, as soon as decency permitted, te their respective habitations,

II.- Respect due to Old Age.---SPECTATOR. T happened at Athens, during a pablio representa

tion of some play exbiited in honor of the commonwealth, that an old gentleman came too late for a place suitable to his age and quality. Many of the young gentlemen won observed the difficulty and confusion he was in, made signs to him that they would accommodate bim, if he came where they sat. The good man bustled through the crowd accordingly; but when he came to the seat to which he was invited, the jest was to sit close and expose him, as he stood, out of countenance, to the whole audience. T'he frolic went round all the Athenian benches. But on those occasions there were also particular places assigned for foreigners. When the good man skulked towards the boxes appointed for the Lacedemonians, that hopest people, more virtuous than polite, rose up all to a man, and with the greatest respect, received him among them. The Athenians be

[ocr errors]

ing suddenly touched with a sense of the Spartan virtue and their own degeneracy, gave a thunder of applause ; and the old man cried out, “ the Athenians understaud what is good, but the Lacedemonians practise it.” III.- Piety to God recommended to the Young.--BLAIR. THAT I shall first recommend, is piety to God.

With this I begin, both as the foundation of good morals, and as a disposition particularly graceful and becoming in youth. To be void of it, argues a cold heart, destitute of some of the best affections which belong to that age. Youth is the season of warm and generous emotions. The heart should then spontaneously rise into the admiration of what is great; glow with the love of what is fair and excellent; and melt at the discovery of tenderness and goodness. Where can any object be found so proper to kindle these affections, as the Father of the universe, and the Author of all felicity? Unmoved by veneration, can you contemplate that grandeur and majesty which his works every where display ? Untouched hy gratitude, can you view that profusion of good, which, in this pleasing season of life, his beneticent hand pours around you? Happy in the love and affection of those with whom you are connected, look up to the Supreme Being, as the inspirer of all the friendship which has ever been shewn you by others; himself your best and your first friend : formerly the supporter of your infancy and the guide of your childhood ; now, the guardian of your youth, and the hope of your coming years. View religious homage as a natural expression of gratitude to him for all his goodness. Consider it as the service of the God of your fathers ; of Hip to whom your parents devoted you; of Him whom, in former ages, your ancestors honored : and by whom they are now rewarded and blessed in heaven. Connected with so many tender sensibilities of soul, let religion be with you, not the cold and barren offspring of speculation, but the warm and vigorous dictate of the heart.

IV --Modesty and. Docility. ---Ie. 10 piety, join modesty and docility, reverence to

your parents, and submission to those who are your superiors in knowledge, in station and in years. De


pendance and obedience belong to youth. Modesty is one of its chief ornaments; and has ever been esteemed a presage of rising merit. When entering on the ca. reer of life, it is your part not to assume the reins as yet into your hands; but to commit yourself to the guidance of the more experienced, and to become wise by the - wisdom of those who have gone before you. Of all the follies incident to youth, there are none which either deform its present appearance, or blast the prospect of its future prosperity, more than selficenceit, presumption and obstinacy. By checking its natural progress in improvement, they fix it in long immaturity; and frequently produce mischiefs which can never be repaired. Yet these are rices too commonly found among the young. Big with enterprise and elated by hope, they resolve to irust to success to none but themselves. Full of their own abilities, they deride the admonitions which are given them by their friends, as the timorous suggestions of age.

Too wise to learn, too impatient to deliberate, too forward to be restrained, they plunge with precipitant indiscretion, into the midst of all the dangers. with which lite abounds.

V.-Sincerity.--IB. FT is necessary to recommend to you sincerity and

truth. These are the basis of every virtue. That darkness of character, where we can see no heart; those foldings of art, through which no native affection is allowed penetrate, present an object upamiable in every season of life, bat particularly odious in youth. If, at an age when the heart is warm, when the emotions are strong, and when Datare is expected to show herself free and open, you can already smile and deceive, what are we to look for when you sball be longer lackneyed in the ways of men ; when interest shall have completed the obduration of your heart, and experience 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,

own snare.

the approbation of heaven, or the esteem of the world, coltivate the love of truth. In all your proceedings, be direct and consistent. Ingenuity and candor possess the most powerful charm: They bespeak universal favor, 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 tirst departure from sincerity, it is not in your power to stop.

One artifice unavoidably leads on to another; tiil, as the intricacy of the labyrinth increases, you are left entangled in your

Deceit discovers a little mind, which stops at temporary expedients, without risiog 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, belokens one who is destined for creeping through the inferior walks of life ; but to give an early preference to honor above gain, when they stand in competition; to despise every advantage which cannot be attained without dishonest arts; to brook po 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 cuoning, not to true wisdom.

It is not the simplicity of a weak and improvident, but the candor of an enlarged and noble mind; of one who scorns deceit, because he accounts it both base and unprofitable; and who seeks o disguise, because he needs none to hide himn.

[ocr errors]

VI.-Benevolence and Humanity-IB. 7

nevolent and humane afections. of your happiness is to depend on the connexions which you form with otters, it is of high importance that you acquire, belimes, the temper and the manners which will render suci codilexions comfortable Let a sense of its tice be the foundation of all your social qualities. In


« PreviousContinue »