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The Answer. Dear Sir,—That tutor is certainly unworthy of being entrusted with the care of youth, who is not equally concerned for the purity of their morals, as he is for the proficiency they make in their studies. When I consider your letter, filled with so many just remarks on the great depravity of human nature, I rejoice that my care of your morals has not been yet rendered useless. When I read your account of the many impositions practised on the siniple and unwary in London, together with the many temptations virtue is daily surrounded with, I ain sorry it is not in my power to point out the different methods used by these miscreants to debauch innocence, and propagate vice. I have often told you that I never was in London, and am consequently a stranger to all you have mentioned. All I can say is, that it must be your continual care to keep in mind those divine precepts of our holy religion, where God has declared that he will punish or reward, in proportion to the degree of kuowledge whereof we are possessed. It is an awful consideration to read those words of our Lord, “ To those to whom much is given, from them much will be required.”
But, Sir, you are now entered on the study of a profession which, though honourable and useful, yet the generality of people have considered as a real mystery of iniquity, and that, as soon as a gentleman enters on the profession of the law, he shakes off all regard to moral obligations, and is equally anxious of being employed as an agent, whether the cause be good or bad. This may be sometimes, and perhaps too often, true ; but then it ought to be considered, that it is not the profession itself
but only the abuse of it, that occasions such complaints. There is not one profession in the world exempted from it; and ever since there was a Judas in Christ's family, there have been hypocrites in his church.-The law has had both its Hale and Jefferies. I am convinced that you may be as honest a man, and as pious a Christian, at the bar or on the bench, as if you were in the pulpit.
It was remarkable of the great Earl of Clarendon, that when he presided in the Court of Chancery, his decrees were so equitable, that no appeal was ever made from his decisions : and the following anecdote may, in some measure, elucidate the reasons for his integrity in such iniquitous times :
Whilst he was solicitor-general, in the reign of Charles I. he went, during the long vacation, to visit his aged father in the country, and being walking together one day in the garden, the old gentleman addressed his son in the following manner : “Son, you are now advanced to the highest eminence at the bar, and may one time or other preside on the bench. I have been often told, that gentlemen of your profession are as ready to engage in a bad, as in a good cause : but be assured that if ever, in order to aggrandize yourself, you should become an advocate for despotism, at the expense of the liberty of your country, you may, like Samson of old, lay hold of the pillars and demolish the fabric, but you will perish under the ruins.” No sooner had he uttered these words, than he dropped down in a fit of apoplexy, and expired immediately. This is said to have had such an effect on the son, that he was determined ever after to act consistently with the dictates of his conscience. Bishop Burnet tells us, that when his father was at the bar, he constantly observed the following rules : First, Never to undertake a cause that he knew to be bad.
Secondly, Never to deny to plead for those who were unable to pay him.-And,
"Thirdly, Never to ask any fee from a clergyman, when he sued in the right of his benefice.
The great Sir Matthew Hale tells us, that his prosperity in secular affairs during the week, succeeded in proportion to his religious duties on the Sunday. His lordship was as great an ornament to Christianity, as he was an honour to the law. Such exanıples as I have mentioned, cannot fail, I think, to stir you up to emulation, and one day or other you may be advanced to the highest seats in the courts of judicature. Let me beg to hear from you as often as it is consistent with your other avocations : and in the meantime, continue to persevere in the same course of virtue you have begun. Virtue is its own reward, and you will at last be convinced, “That her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
dear sir, your sincere well-wisher.
LETTER CXIX. From a young Merchant to an aged Gentleman,
formerly of the same. Profession, but now retired. from business.
Honoured Sir,—Your generosity in sending me instructions during my apprenticeship, will ever remain a lasting proof of that innate goodness for which you have been long justly celebrated, and likewise encourages me to trouble you for advice how to conduct myself, so as to support my credit in the world, now I am entered upon business. Your long and extensive knowledge of mercantile affairs, gives a sanction to every thing you say, and
your goodness of heart encourages the inexperienced to address themselves to you with cheerfulness. I have been now about two years in business, and although my success has been equal to my expectations, yet there are such a variety of failures daily in this city, that I am every day thinking my own name may be that week in the gazette. I should not be much surprised, were all to become bankrupts who are of abandoned characters, as I do not see how any thing less can be expected. You know, sir, that assiduity and regularity are qualifications indispensably necessary to the merchant, so that it must appear morally impossible for the man to prosper in trade, whose time is spent in dissipation and idleness, if not, which too often happens, in debauchery. When I hear of such failing in their payments, I am no ways surprised; but when great numbers of those apparently in affluent circumstances, and the fairest characters, daily fail, I am justly alarmed, and my fears continue to increase in proportion to their numbers.
I would not choose to judge rashly, much less uncharitably, of any man; although, I must confess, I am very much shocked when I hear that a commission of bankruptcy is awarded against one supposed worth thousands, and not sufficient left to pay five shillings in the pound. I am filled with horror on account of my own situation, and led to believe that there is a latent curse attending mercantile affairs, which the greatest prudence can neither foresee nor prevent. I am sensible that the person to whom I am writing, knows the above to be true. Your long acquaintance with the fluctuating state of merchandise procures respect, and gives a sanction to every thing you say; but, as far as I am able to learn, those failings in the mercan
tile world are more frequent now than when you was engaged in trade. I am not ambitious of acquiring riches ; my whole desire is to obtain a peaceable possession of the comforts of life, to do justice to every one with whom I have any dealings, and to live and die an honest man. Such, Sir, is the plan I have laid down for my future conduct in life; but alas ! it will require the assistance of all my friends to enable me to execute it with a becoming propriety. Let me therefore beg your advice on an affair of so much importance, and whatever you dictate shall be the invariable rule of my conduct, whilst the thanks of a grateful heart shall be continually returned for so benevolent an action.-I am, Sir, &c.
The Answer. Sir,-If I can form any judgment of the integrity of your actions and the purity of your intentions, from the contents of the letter now before me, I should not hesitate one moment in declaring, that it is almost impossible your name will ever appear in the gazette, under the disagreeable circumstances you have mentioned ; for how is it possible to suppose, that the man who keeps a regular account of his proceedings, his loss and gain, should not know whether his circumstances are affluent or distressed ? and whatever you may think of those merchants who have often failed, although reputed affluent, yet if you had attended to their examination before the commissioners, I believe you would have great reason to alter your opinion. I speak concerning bankruptcies in general ; for there are some unforeseen accidents, which even the greatest prudence cannot prevent. But these are extraor