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for a good name on their honorable parentage, or inherited wealth, or the patronage of friends. Flattered by these distinctions, they have felt as if they might live without plan and without effort, merely for their own gratification and indulgence. No mistake is more fatal. It always issues in producing an inefficient and useless character.
5. On this account, it is, that character and wealth rarely continue in the same family, more than two or three generations. The younger branches, placing a deceptive confidence in an hereditary character, neglect the means of forming one of their own, and often exist in society only a reproach to the worthy ancestry, whose name they bear.
6. In the formation of a good character, it is of great importance that the early part of life be improved and guarded, with the utmost diligence and carefulness. The most critical period of life is that which elapses from fourteen to twentyone years of age. More is done during this period, to mould and settle the character of the future man, than in all the other years of life.
7. If a young man passes this season with pure morals and a fair reputation, a good name is almost sure to crown his maturer years, and descend with him to the close of his days. On the other hand, if a young man in this spring season of life neglects his mind and heart; if he indulges himself in vicious courses, and forms habits of inefficiency and slothfulness, he experiences a loss which no effort can retrieve, and brings a stain upon his character which no tears can wash away.
8. Life will inevitably take much of its shape and coloring, from the plastic powers that are now operating. Every thing, almost, depends upon giving a proper direction to this outset of life. The course now taken is usually decisive.The principles now adopted, and the habits now formed, whether good or bad, become a kind of second nature, fixed and permanent.
9; Youthful thoughtlessness, I know, is wont to regard the indiscretions and vicious indulgences of this period, as of very little importance. But they have great influence in forming your future character, and deciding the estimation in which you are to be held in the community. They are the germs of bad habits; and bad habits confirmed, are ruin to the character and the soul. The errors and vices of a young man, even when they do not ripen into habit, impress a blot on the name which is rarely effaced. They are remembered
a In-ef-fi"-cient, not efficient. E laps'-es, passes away.
c Re-trieve', to recover again.
d Plas'-tic, forming, giving form.
in subsequent life; the public eye is often turning back to them; the stigma is seen; it cleaves fast to the character, and its unhappy effects are felt till the end of his days.
10. "A fair reputation, it should be remembered, is a plant, delicate in its nature, and by no means rapid in its growth. It will not shoot up in a night, like the gourd that shaded the prophet's head; but like that same gourd, it may perish in a night." A character which it has cost many years to establish, is often destroyed in a single hour, or even minute. Guard, then, with peculiar vigilance, this forming, fixing season of your existence; and let the precious days and hours that are now passing by you, be diligently occupied in acquiring those habits of intelligence, of virtue, and enterprise, which are so essential to the honor and success of future life.
11. To the formation of a good character it is of the highest importance that you have a commanding object in view, and that your aim in life be elevated. To this cause, perhaps, more than to any other, is to be ascribed the great difference which appears in the characters of men. Some start in life with an object in view, and are determined to attain it; while others live without plan, and reach not for the prize set before them. The energies of the one are called into vigorous action, and they rise to eminence, while the others are left to slumber in ignoble ease, and sink into obscurity.
12. It is an old proverb, that he who aims at the sun, to be sure will not reach it, but his arrow will fly higher than if he aimed at an object on a level with himself. Just so in the formation of character. Set your standard high; and, though you may not reach it, you can hardly fail to rise higher than if you aimed at some inferior excellence. Young men are not, in general, conscious of what they are capable of doing. They do not task their faculties, nor improve their powers, nor attempt, as they ought, to rise to superior excellence. They have no high, commanding object at which to aim; but often seem to be passing away life, without object and without aim.
13. The consequence is, their efforts are few and feeble; they are not waked up to any thing great or distinguished; and therefore fail to acquire a character of decided worth. But, ny friends, you may be whatever you resolve to be. Resolution is omnipotent. Determine that you will be something in the world, and you shall be something. Aim at excellence, and excellence will be attained. This is the great secret of effort and eminence.
a Stigma, mark of disgrace.
Con-scious, inwardly persuaded.
cOm-nip'-o-tent, having almighty power,
14. The circumstances in which you are placed as the members of a free and intelligent community, also demand of you a careful improvement of the means of knowledge you enjoy. You live in an age of great mental excitement. The public mind is awake, and society in general is fast rising on the scale of improvement. At the same time, the means of knowledge are most abundant. They exist every where and in the richest variety.
15. Nor were stronger inducements ever held out to engage all classes of people in the diligent use of these means. Useful talents of every kind are in great demand. The field of enterprise is widening and spreading around you. The road to wealth, to honor, to usefulness, and happiness, is open to all, and all who will may enter upon it, with the almost certain prospect of success. In this free community there are no privileged orders. Every man finds his level. If he has talents he will be known and estimated, and rise in the respect and confidence of society.
16. Added to this, every man is here a freeman. He has a voice in the election of rulers, in making and executing the laws, and may be called to fill important places of honor and trust, in the community of which he is a member. What then is the duty of persons in these circumstances? Are they not called to cultivate their minds, to improve their talents, and acquire the knowledge which is necessary to enable them to act, with honor and usefulness, the part assigned them on the stage of life?
17. Can any expect to maintain a respectable standing in society, if, while others are rising around them, they neglect the means to rise with them? If any please thus to neglect their opportunities for acquiring knowledge, they can have their choice; but let them at the same time make up their minds to exist as mere cyphers in society; to be hewers of wood and drawers of water; to float down as leaves upon the bosom of the stream, unknown, unregarded, soon to be forgotten as if they had never been.
18. A diligent use of the means of knowledge, accords well with your nature as rational and immortal beings. God has given you minds which are capable of indefinite improvement; he has placed you in circumstances peculiarly favorable for making such improvement; and to inspire you with diligence in mounting up the shining course before you, he points you to the prospect of an endless existence beyond the grave; and assures you that the glories, and the woes of it, depend on the character you form at this period of your life.
c Ap-prox-i-ma'-tion, a near approach.
a Ment-al, belonging to the mind. In-duce'-ments, motives.
19. Here is an argument of infinite weight for the cultivation of your intellectual and moral powers. If you who possess these powers were destined, after spending a few days on earth, to fall into non-existence; if there were nothing in you which death cannot destroy, nor the grave cover, there would indeed be but little inducement to cultivate your minds. "For who would take pains to trim a taper which shines but for a moment, and can never be lighted again?"
20. But if you have minds which are capable of endless progression in knowledge, of endless approximation to the supreme intelligence; if in the midst of unremitting success, objects of new interest will be forever opening before you ;O what prospects are presented to your view! What strong inducements to cultivate your mind and heart, and to enter upon that course of improvement here, which is to run on, brightening in glory and in bliss, ages without end.-Hawes
The incidents of a Voyage across the Atlantic.
1. To an American visiting Europe, the long voyage he has to make is an excellent preparative. From the moment you lose sight of the land you have left, all is vacancy until you step on the opposite shore, and are launched at once into the bustle and novelties of another world.
2. I have said that at sea all is vacancy. I should correct the expression. To one given up to day-dreaming, and fond of losing himself in reveries, a sea voyage is full of subjects for meditation; but then they are the wonders of the deep, and of the air, and rather tend to abstract the mind from worldly themes. I delighted to loll over the quarter-railing, or climb to the main-top on a calm day, and muse for hours together on the tranquil bosom of a summer's sea; or to gaze upon the piles of golden clouds just peering above the horizon, fancy them some fairy realms, and people them with a creation of my own, or to watch the gentle undulating billows rolling their silver volumes, as if to die away on those happy shores.
3. There was a delicious sensation of mingled security and awe, with which I looked down from my giddy height on the
a Ap-prox-i-ma'-tion, a near approach. c Rev'-e-ries, loose thoughts. b In'-ci-dents, things that happen.
monsters of the deep at their uncouth gambols,-shoals of porpoises tumbling about the bow of the ship,-the grampus slowly heaving his huge form above the surface,—or the ra venous shark, darting like a specter through the blue waters. My imagination would conjure up all that I had heard or read of the watery world beneath me; of the finny herds that roam its fathomless valleys; of shapeless monsters that lurk among the very foundations of the earth; and those wild phantasms that swell the tales of fishermen and sailors.
4. Sometimes a distant sail, gliding along the edge of the ocean, would be another theme of idle speculation.. How interesting this fragment of a world, hastening to rejoin the great mass of existence! What a glorious monument of human invention, that has thus triumphed over wind and wave; has brought the ends of the earth in communion; has established an interchange of blessings, pouring into the sterile regions of the north, all the luxuries of the south; diffused the light of knowledge and the charities of cultivated life; and has thus bound together those scattered portions of the human race, between which nature seems to have thrown an insurmountable barrier d
5. We one day descried some shapeless object drifting at a distance. At sea, every thing that breaks the monotony of the surrounding expanse, attracts attention. It proved to be the mast of a ship that must have been completely wrecked; for there were the remains of handkerchiefs, by which some of the crew had fastened themselves to this spar, to prevent their being washed off by the waves. There was no trace by which the name of the ship could be ascertained. The wreck had evidently drifted about for many months: clusters of shell-fish had fastened about it, and long sea-weeds flaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, is the crew?Their struggle has long been over; they have gone down amidst the roar of the tempest; their bones lie whitening in the caverns of the deep. Silence-oblivion, like the waves, has closed over them, and no one can tell the story of their end.
6. What sighs have been wafted after that ship! what prayers offered up at the deserted fire-side of home! How often has the mistress, the wife, and the mother, poured over the daily news to catch some casual intelligence of this rover of the deep! How has expectation darkened into anxietyanxiety into dread-and dread into despair! Alas! not one
a Rav'-en-ous, voracious, very hungry. b Phantasms, images of external objects.
c Theme, subject, topic.
d Bar'-ri-er, a boundary, limit.
e Mo-rot'-o-ny, sameness.
fCas'-u-al, happening without design.