« PoprzedniaDalej »
gold? Do you reckon my attachment worth your care? You must engage me by your temper, by your conversation, by your manners. If these correspond to my sentiments and feelings, if you will leave me in poffeffion of “the liberty with “ which God has made me free," and will treat me with confidential kindness, I shall deem myself happy in your Friendfhip; and though I should never receive aught at your hands, I shall still love and honour you. But remember the terms of our commerce : I cannot sacrifice my understanding : I cannot force my principles : I cannot applaud when I do not approve, assent when I am not convinced, or, like the venal herd, cringe and fawn to yellow dust, or yet be persuaded that a fine house, a gay equipage, or a great estate, can confer a right to domineer, or to dictate. Should you mistake me, or forget yourself, so far as to expect this complaifance, and to show by your behaviour that you expect it, I must be excused, if I
make my escape from the chilling influence of such company, to the genial society of unassuming and unaffected Friends, where I can lay open my soul without restraint, and listen by turns to the inchanting voice of Truth, of Sympathy, and of Freedom.
It has been always remarked, that the most unpretending characters are those of intrinsic value and inward dignity. It is only to such, (and you will commonly meet them in the middle walks of life) that I would counsel you to resign your affection ; for such only will return it, because they alone who perceive worth in themselves can cherish it in you. How often have we seen the honest sensations of Nature, the beautiful tendernesses of youth, suppressed and deadened as men advanced to wealth and preferment! How often have we seen those, who on lower ground appeared sincere, benevolent, engaging, become unamiable, unfeeling, and artificial, when they rose to higher !
But when we warn you against the mit taken ambition of courting the Friendship of those who consider themselves as much above you, we should be forry to think of your contracting an intimacy with persons of abject character, of fordid condition, or greatly your inferiors. A generous and feasonable condescension, indeed, can never degrade you, but, on the contrary, will do you honour in every discerning, as well as christian eye; while a supercilious behaviour is at once unworthy and contemptible, no less than offensive and disgusting : it is a sin against the majesty of our Common Nature, at the same time that it looks as if a man could not trust to his power of procuring respect by deserving it. Nor would we insinuate, that fingular excellence may not be discovered in the shade of obscurity. But it will easily be underftood, that, though distinguished virtue, wherever found, or however depressed, should still be cherished and revered, you ought in general to avoid any peculiar
Familiarity with those, whofe want of repute might take from your consequence without adding to your improvement, or whose obnoxious situation might involve you in difficulties that would impede your success and your usefulness.
If you have chosen your Friends well, and should at any future period find your liberality particularly called upon, to affift them under misfortunes, you cannot exert it too warmly. If touched by that celeftial fire which famed in the bosom of Jonathan, and some other heroic persons of the same stamp, you should display on such an occasion all the grandeur of disa interested zeal and self-sacrifice, so much the more glorious for you, though modern judges might pronounce it madness. But Jet it be remembered also, that your felicity in the progress of life, your advancement both in worth and breeding, and your acceptance among the good and wise, will depend not a little on your connect
ing yourselves early and closely with those who to sound morals join a sense of ftation, and a regard for fame.
We read in English ftory of a Prince, who, though he disgraced his youth by conforting with creatures far beneath him, of vulgar manners, and infamous lives, had yet the vigour and greatness of mind to atone for that debasement afterwards, by a conduct alike royal and exemplary. But it was a rare instance; and when we fee young men let themselves down to such companions, whether from the petty vanity of being at their head, or from an unrestrained propensity to coarse pleasures, what can we think, but that, as they certainly betray a groveling taste for the prefent, so they will probably contract habits of incurable profligacy and meanness? There is not perhaps any thing relative to youth, more strikingly obvious, or more universally acknowledged, than the corsupting and ruinous influence of low com