« PreviousContinue »
Pains must be taken to create incentives. The desire of honour, fame, popularity, naturally stimulates the heart to laudable and useful efforts, and rouses those who else would wallow in the stye of Epicurus. - . . - o Therefore acquiesce not in the honour which your forefathers earned. To you it may be but a splendid disgrace. Therefore aspire at a well-earned fame, which may render you respected throughout life, and survive to distant ages. Therefore despise not the people, to promote whose happiness is the duty of every one who shares in government or legislation; despise not their plaudits, for they are honest rewards bestowed on merit, by hands which move in unison with hearts attached by nature, though sometimes misled by passion, to everything upright and fair. Let the attainment of these distinctions call you from the slumbers of indolence on the rose-beds of the Sybarites. Motives like these are indeed subordinate to the sublime ones of virtue and disinterested generosity. But in the present infirm state of human nature, they are found useful, because they operate when better ones are ineffectual. Nay, they often lead to true virtue of the purest kind. He who has once been roused to virtuous action, and tasted the sweets, not only of its consciousness, but of fame and applause, will go on in the glorious career, and finish as he began and proceeded, an honour to his country and to human nature. Admit a little virtuous enthusiasm into your temper. Cold discretion, subtle policy, mean distrust, craft and caution, may indeed guard against danger; but they lead not, unless mixed with a little virtuous enthusiasm, to those heights of excellence, which have saved a country, by withstanding powerfully the encroachment of tyrants, and the madness of the people. These qualities are all consistent with self. ishness. They want, and therefore cannot confer, dignity. - - I am combating indolence. I can call forth no auxiliary so potent as virtuous enthusiasm. Catch the pure flame, my Lord, and let it fire all the latent sparks of virtue in your breast, those sparks which become extinct in thousands and tens of thousands, through the want of it. May it burn with steady heat, and after warming and enlightening all around you in life, burst from your urn, and while it points to heaven, diffuse a glory round your tomb, not to be rivalled by the blazonry of the herald painter's What can the chisel of the sculptor do, compared to the image engraven on the hearts of a grateful people 2 I admire the fine figures of Lord Chatham in Westminster Abbey and Guildhall; but I admire them for the sculptor's skill; I look not there for an idea of the Man. All the civilized world have erected monuments to him in their hearts and imaginations. - It is certain, after all, that many casual circumstances must concur to call forth extraordinary exertions, and to give universal celebrity. Those circumstances may not happen to you. But though you should not be able to eclipse all others in the cabinet, in the senate, or in the field, yet you may adorn nobility with some of its most amiable graces in the circles of private life. Every thing pleasing and beneficent, all that adds to the sweetness of domestic life, and the delight and ornament of neighbourly intercourse, will be required from you, in peculiar perfection, as a nobleman. Birth, education, privileges of various kinds, lead the public to expect in a nobleman, a gentleman of the highest polish, a philanthropist, a man anxious to do good, "WOL. W. K
and to diffuse pleasure and satisfaction, wherever the sphere of his influence extends. But this demands great activity. Indolence will render your best intentions abortive, and cause you, amidst a thousand opportunities of pleasure, honour, and beneficence, to live and die a cypher. It will conduct you to the family vault with nothing but an “Hic jacet” on your tomb. Walk into Westminster Abbey, and learn to scorn such insignificance. Yet at the same time remember, that innocent insignificance is far more estimable than mischievous abilities, and that accursed ambition which pursues fame, grandeur, and despotic power, through fields of blood. What are tigers, wolves, and hyaenas to sanguinary despots? I am, &c.
My Lord, ENOUGH of discipline. I congratulate you on your proficiency; and, with a full confidence in your good sense and good conduct, lay aside the gravity of advice. Man lives not for business alone; but to enjoy, at proper seasons, the rich repast of pleasure which the God of nature has placed before him. Think not, that in recommending application to letters, and the preservation of your dignity, I would prohibit all pursuit of pleasure. Many are the necessary intervals of study and public affairs, which cannot be more usefully employed, than in liberal, gentleman-like, rational diversions. None will have acquired a better right to such indulgences, than one who shall have spent his time in improving his mind and preserving his dignity, not to gratify pride, but that he may be found extensively useful, and therefore truly honourable. He requires amusements for the health of his mind, and he has a just claim to them. Is the honey to be engrossed by the idle drone, who brings nothing into the hive; who neither assists in the construction of the cells, nor the increase of stores, nor the general defence? It is not, however, necessary to urge this point, because most young men, high in rank and affluent in fortune, want no other impulse to the gaieties of life, but their own propensities to them; and are self-taught proficients in the school of pleasure. An idea prevails among the superficial, that scholars are often destitute of the agreeable and compamionable qualities; and that they think too much on all that occurs, to admit that light, airy, frivolous nothingness which passes away elegant or dissipated leisure in thoughtless gaiety. Thus dunces triumph, in their animal vivacity, over men of sense. They are loud, audacious, and unfeeling; and often reduce the modest man of genius to silence and apparent insignificance, by their unblushing effrontery. Thus, among the ladies, and in all gay society, the most accomplished young men sometimes appear below themselves, and almost yield without a contest, their claims to superiority. Now, my Lord, I wish you on no occasion to appear inferior; but, for the sake of doing justice to the solid improvements you have made, the real graces whom you have courted, to shine equally in the senate and the assembly, in the library and at the dinner-table. Polish yourself, therefore, your external manners I mean, by elegant pleasures, in chosen society. Sacrifice to the Graces, as you have already cultivated the Muses and the Virtues. This assemblage of goddesses, rendered propitious, will unite in forming that celebrated character, seldom indeed seen, an all-accomplished man. I contend that in pursuing the art of pleasing, you become not an artful, crafty sycophant, renouncing, together with honesty and sincerity, all just pretensions to nobility. To appear kind and gentle and agreeable, be so. Let your brilliants bear the examination of the nicest lapidary. Let not your side-board be furnished with plated baubles, but solid silver and gold. How can a man pretend to honour, whose whole intercourse with his fellow-creatures is founded on deceit 2 What satisfaction in friendship and conversation can be felt by the mean man, though by abuse called a nobleman, who, in the tenderest intercourse, in his warmest professions, has been acting a part like a player; and whose mind, if it could be laid open, would, like a whited sepulchre, present rottenness to the view, and increase abhorrence by a mean endeavour to cheat the eye by concealing deformity ? To sweeten the temper, and dissipate the clouds of the mental horizon, I advise you to participate in elegant amusements. But let them not degrade, by leading you to low company; low, I mean, not only in rank, but in accomplishments, in virtue, and the liberal qualities of a liberal education. A peer may be pleased with music, without associating with fidlers; he may be delighted in theatres, without making players his bosom friends; he may admire a dancer's agility, without rendering him his confidential companion. Lord ***** fills his noble mansion in the summer with opera singers, French dancers, comic actors, musicians, firework makers. who dine, and sup, and sleep for months under his roof; while his door never opens to the clergy in his neighbourhood, to any of the professions, to capital artists, to men of letters and science, or to the poor. Thus he forfeits his popularity, loses