« AnteriorContinuar »
own enjoyments, if you enter on the discipline which leads to the attainment of a classical and liberal educa. tion with reluctance. Value duly the opportunities you enjoy, and which are denied to thousands of your fellow-creatures.
Without exemplary diligence, you will make but a contemptible proficiency. You may indeed pass through the forms of schools and universities, but you will bring nothing away from them 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 strengthening 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 affiftances, indeed, are sometimes afforded, chiefly that the young heir to a title or estate may indulge himself in idlenefs and nominal pleafureș. : The lesson is construed to him, and the exercise written for him by the private tutor, while the hapless youth is engaged in some ruinous pleasure, which at the same time prevents him from learning any thing desirable, and leads to the formation of destructive habits which can seldom be removed.
But the principal obstacle to improvement at your 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 talks and leffons, and for every vice and irregularity which the puerile age can admit. You will have sense enough, I hope, to discover, beneath the mask of gaiety and good-nature, that malignant spirit of detraction, which endeavours to render the boy who applies to books, and to all the duties and proper business of the school, ridiculous. You will see, by the light of your reason, that the ridicule is misapplied. You will discover, that the boys who have recourse to ridicule are, for the most part, stupid, unfeeling, ignorant, and vicious. Their noisy folly, their bold confidence, their contempt of learning, and their defiance of authority, are, for the most part, the genuine effects of hardened insensibility. Let not their insults and ill-treatment dispirit you. If you yield to them with a tame and abjedt fubmission, they will not fail to triumph over you with additional insolence. Display a fortitude in your pursuits, equal in degree to the obstinacy with which they perfift in theirs. Your fortitude will soon overcome theirs, which is seldom any thing more than the audacity of a bully. Indeed you cannot go through a school with ease to yourself, and with success, without a considerable share of courage. 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 persecutions of surrounding enviers, dunces, and detractors. Ridicule is the weapon made use of at schools, as well as in the world, when the fortreffes of virtue are to be affailed. 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 fide, you may be IPSE AGMEN, though alone, yet equal to an army.
By laying in a store of useful knowledge, adorning your mind with elegant literature, improving and eftablishing 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 being well received by mankind. Honour and success
in life will probably attend you. Under all circum. stances you will have an internal source of consolation,
-an entertainment, of which no sublunary vicissitude can deprive you. Time shews how much wiser is
your choice than that of your idle companions, who would gladly have drawn you into their association, or rather into their conspiracy, as it has been called, againft good manners, and against all that is honourable and useful. While you appear in society as a respectable and valuable member of it, they have facrificed, at the hrine of vanity, pride, extravagance, and falfe pleasure, their health and their sense, their fortunes and their characters.
On the Advantages derivable from National
T is very certain that national prosperity, as it is
comprehended in the idea of numerous fleets and armies, of extensive empire, large revenues, advantageous commerce, and a profufion of money in specie, is a kind of good by no means necessarily connected with moral good, or with the substantial happiness of individuals. It makes a splendid figure in imagination's eye; but to reason it appears in a very questionable shape, and experience is able to evince that it has always diffused profligacy and misery through the walks of private life; and, by introducing luxury, licentiousness, indolence, and corruption, has at once destroyed all that can render human nature dignified and happy, and precipitated the decline and the downfal of empires, while triumphing in fancied glory.
It has been observed, that the bodies politic and natural bear to each other a remarkable analogy. A human form, pampered, bloated, and plethoric, will often have the appearance of strength, as well as magnitude ; though no state of it can be less adapted to facilitate the animal movements, or in greater danger of a hafty diffolution. The body politic also lofes in muscular force, as much as it acquires of unwieldy fize, till, by the gradual decrease of vigour, and augmentation of weight, it totters on its baseless supports, and, at last, lies level with the dust, with Babylon and ancient Rome. Luxury, the inevitable consequence of what is falsely called 'national prosperity, becomes the grave of empires, and of all that could adorn them, or render their long duration a rational object of defire.
There is, undoubtedly, a certain degree of magnitude at which when a state is arrived, it must of necessity undergo the alternative, of being purged of its peccant humours, or falling into a nerveless languor and con
fequent decline. Perhaps our own country has already arrived at that degree, and is now, under the operation of Divine Providence, suffering the amputation of its morbid excrescences for the salvation of its health and existence. It may lose some of its revenues; but it will save and meliorate its morals and its liberty.--Ministers may be shaken from their seats, pensioners and placemen may be reduced to despair, funds may be annihilated, and estates brought down to their natural value; but freedom, but virtue, but industry, but the British constitution, but human nature, shall survive the wreck, and emerge, like filver and gold when tried by the fire, with new value and additional lustre. After a state of political adversity, something may take place in society similar to the expected renovation of all things, after the general conflagration of the universe.
Distress and difficulty are known to operate in private life as the spurs of diligence. Powers which would for ever have lain dormant in the halcyon days of ease and plenty, have been called forth by adversity, and have advanced their poffeffor to the most enviable heights of virtue, happiness, and glory. Man is naturally indolent, and when undisturbed will balk and sleep in the funshine till the sleep of death; but, when roused by the blast and the thunder, he rises, strains every sinew, and marches on to enterprize. Success will almost infallibly attend great exertions, uniformly and resolutely continued; so that what begun in misery ends in triumph, as the sun which rose in a mist descends with ferenity, and paints the whole horizon with gold and purple.
Public industry. may be excited in the same manner, and in the same degree, by public misfortunes. The nation is impoverished, or, in other words, its superfluities are retrenched. It is an event devoutly to be wished. Luxury, with ten thousand evils in her train, is obliged to withdraw, and the humble virtues, whom she had driven by her insolence into exile, cheerfully adyance from their concealment. Industry and frugality take the lead; but to what a degree of vigour must