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YOUNG GENTLEMAN AND LADY'S
ENGLISH TEACHER'S ASSISTANT.
Pursuit of Knowledge recommended to youth.
version, that they neglect all those improvements in wisdom and knowledge which may make them easy to themselves and useful to the world. The greatest part of our youth lose their figure and grow out of fashion by the time they are five and twenty.
2. As soon as the natural gaity and amiableness of the young man wears off, they have nothing left to recommend them, but lie by the rest of their lives, among the lumber and refuse of their species.
It sometimes happens indeed, that for the want of applying themselves in due time to the pursuits of knowledge, they take up a book in their declining years, and grow very hopeful scholare by the time they are three-score. I must therefore earnestly press my readers, who are in the flower of their youth, to labour at those accomplishments which may set off their persons when their bloom is gone, and to lay in timely provisions for manhood
In short I would advise the youth of fifteen, to be dressing up every day the man of fifty, or to consider how to make himself venerable at three-score.
3. Young men, who are naturally ambitious, would do well to observe how the greatest men of antiquity made it their ambition to excel all their cotemporaries in knowledge. Julius Cæsar and Alexander, the most celebrated in stances of human greatness, took a particular care to distingush themselves by their skill in the arts and sciences. We have still extant several remains of the former, which justify the character given of him by the learned men of his own age.
4. As for the latter, it is a known saying of his, that he was more obliged to Aristotle, who had instructed him, than to Philip, who had given him life and empire. There is a letter of his recorded by Plutarch and Aulus Gellius, which he wrote to Aristotle, upon hearing that he had published those lectures he had
and old age.
given him in private. This letter was written in the following words, at a time when he was in the height of his Persian conquests.
ALEXANDER TO ARISTOTLE, Greeting. 5. “YOU have not done well to publish your books of select “knowledge; for what is there now in which I can surpass
others, if those things which I have been instructed in are communicated to every body? For my own part I declare to you, I * would rather excel others in Knowledge than power. Farewell.”
6. We see by this letter, that the love of conquest was but the second ambition in Alexander's soul. Knowledge is indeed that, which next to yirtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another. It finishes one half of the human soul. It makes being pleasant to us, it fills the mind with entertaining views, and administers to it a perpetual series of gratifications.
It gives case to solitude, and gracefulness to retirement. It fills a public station with suitable abilities, and adds a lustre to those who are in the possession of them.
7. Learning, by which I mean all useful knowledge, whether speculative or practical, is in popular and mixt governments the natural source of wealth and honour. If we look into most of the reigns from the conquest, we shall find that the favourites of each reign have been those who have raised themselves. The greatest men are generally the growth of that particular age in which they flourish.
8. A superior capacity for business, and a more extensive knowledge, are the steps by which a new man often mounts to favour, and outshines the rest of his cotemporaries. But when men are actually born to titles, it is almost impossible that they should fail of receiving an additional greatness, if they take care to accomplish themselves for it.
9. The story of Solomon's choice does not only instruct us in that point of history but furnishes out a very fine moral to us, namely that he who applies his heart to wisdom, does at the same time take the most proper method for gaining long life, riches and reputation, which are very often not only the rewards, but the effects of wisdom.
10. As it is very suitable to my present subject, I shall first of all quote this passage in the words of sacred writ, and afterwards mention an allegory, in which this whole passage is represented by a famous French poet; not questioning but it will be very pleasing to such of my readers as have a taste for fine writing.
11. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “ Ask what I shall give thee.” And Sola omon said, “ Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before thee, in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee, and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And Now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father; and I am but a little child, I know not how to go out or come in.
12. “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing, and Goel said unto him, “because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment : behold I have done according to thy words, so I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any rise like unto thee.
13.“ And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.” And Solomon awoke, and behold it was a dream.
14. The French poet has shadowed this story in an allegory, of which he seems to have taken the hint from the fable of the three goddesses appearing to Paris, or rather from the vision of Hercules recorded by Xenophon, where Pleasure and Virtue are represented as real persons making their court to the hero with all their several charms and allurements.
15. Health, Wealth, Victory and Honour are introduced successively in their proper emblems and characters, each of them spreading her temptations, and recommending herself to the young monarch's choice. Wisdom enters last and so captivates him with her appearance, that he gives himself up to her. Upon which she informs him that those who appeared before her were nothing but her equipage, and that since he had placed his heart upon Wisdom, Health, Wealth, Victory and Honour, should always wait on her as her handmaids.
„Directions how to Spend our Time. E all of us complain of the shortness of time, saith Sen
eca, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives, says he, are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do: We are always complaining our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them, I'hat noble philosopher has described our inconsistency with ourselves in this particular, by all those various turns of expression and thought which are peculiar to his writings.
2. I often consider mankind as wholly inconsistent with itself in a point that bears some affinity to the former. Though we seem grieved at the shortness of life in general, we are wishing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of business, then to make up an estate, then to arrive at honours, then to retire. Thus, although the whole of life is allowed by every one to be short, the several divisions of it appear long and tedious.
3. We are for lengthening our span in general, but would fain contract the parts by which it is composed. The usurer would be very well satisfied to have all the time annihilated that lies beteween the present moment and next quarter day. The politician would be contented to lose three years in his life, could he place things in the posture which he fancies they will stand in after such a revolution of time.
4. The lover would be glad to strike out of his existence all the moments that are to pass away before the happy meeting. Thus, as far as our time runs, we should be very glad in most parts of our lives, that it runs much faster than it does. Several hours of the day hang upon our hands, nay, we wish away whole years, and travel through time as through a country filled with many wild and empty wastes, which we would fain hurry over, that we may arrive at those several little settlements or imaginary points of rest which are dispersed up and down in it.
5. If we may divide the life of most men into twenty parts, we shall find, that at least nineteen of them are mere gaps and chasms, which are neither filled with pleasure nor business. I do not however include in this calculation the life of those men who are in a perpetual hurry of affairs, but of those only who are not always engaged in scenes of action; and I hope I shall not do an unacceptable piece of service to these persons, if I point out to them certain methods for the filling up their empty spaces of life. The methods I shall propose to them are as follows:
6. The first is the exercise of virtue, in the most general acceptation of the word. That particular scheme which comprehends the social virtues, may give employment to the most industrious temper, and find a man in business more than the most active station of life. To advise the ignorant, relieve the needy, comfort the afflicted, are duties that fall in our way almost
every day of our lives.
7. A man has frequent opportunities of mitigating the fierceness of a party; of doing justice to the character of a deserving man; of softening the envious, quieting the angry, and rectify. ing the prejudiced, which are all of them employments suited to a reasonable nature, and bring great satistaction to the person who can busy himself in them with discretion.
8. There is another kind of virtue that may find employment for those retired hours in which we are altogether lost to ourselves, and destitute of company and conversation; I mean that intercourse and communication which every reasonable creature ought to maintain with the great Author of his being.
9. The man who lives under an habitual sense of the Divine Presence, keeps up a perpetual cheerfulness of temper, and enjoys every moment the satisfaction of thinking himself in company with his dearest and best of friends. The time never lies heavy upon him; it is impossible for him to be alone.
10. His thoughts and passions are the most busied at such hours when those of other men are the most inactive; he no sooner steps out of the world but his heart burns with devotion, swells with hope, and triumphs in the consciousness of that Presence which every where surrounds him; or, on the contrary pours out its fears, its sorrows, its apprehensions, to the great supporter of its existence.
11. I have here only considered the necessity of a man's being virtuous that he may have something to do ; but if we consider further, that the exercise of virtue is not only an amusement for the time it lasts, but that its influence extends to those parts of our existence which lies beyond the grave, and that our whole eternity is to take its colour from those hours which we here employ in virtue or in vice, the argument redoubles upon us, for putting in practice this method of passing away our time.
12. When a man has but a little stock to improve, and has opportunities of turning it all to good account, what shall we think of him if he suffers nineteen parts, of it to lie dead, and perhaps employs even the twentieth to his ruin or disadvantage ? But because the mind cannot be always in its fervour or strained up to a pitch of virtue, it is necessary to find out proper employments for it in its relaxation,
13. The next method therefore I would propose to fill up our time, should be useful and innocent diversion. I must confess I think it is belów reasonable creatures to be altogether convers sant, in such diversions as are merely innocent, and having nothing else to recommend them but that there is no hurt in them.
14. Whether any kind of gaming has even thus much to say for itself, I shall not determine; but I think it is very wonderful to see persons of the best sense, passing away a dozen hours together in shuffling and dividing a pack of cards, with no other conversation, but what is made up of a few game phrases, and no other idea bát those of black or red spots ranged together in dit