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“ They are in general the most amiable companions and the “ best friends, as well as the most learned men I know,” says Pope, in a letter written about a month before his death. “ Whether what Temple says be true, that physicians have “ had more learning than the other faculties, I will not stay 66 to inquire,” says Dr. Johnson: “but I believe every man “ has found in physicians great liberality and dignity of sen6 timent, very prompt effusion of beneficence, and willingness * to exert a lucrative art where there is no hope of lucre.” To the authoritative testimony of Johnson may be added that of the learned Dr. Parr, who says in a letter to Dr. Percival, 6. I have long been in the habit of reading on medical sub“ jects, and the great advantage I have derived from this cir“ cumstance is, that I have found opportunities for conversa“ tion and friendship with a class of men, whom, after a long 46 and attentive survey of literary characters, I hold to be the 6 most enlightened professional persons in the whole circle of “ human arts and sciences.”
On the moral virtues and duties of a physician, on his religion, temper, and manners, it has not been thought necessary to expatiate in this essay, because no peculiar directions can be necessary for forming habits and principles, which ought to be common to all professions ; and because every thing that can be said on these subjects is already before the publick in the popular works of the amiable and philosophic Gregory , the benevolent Percival, and the moral Gisborne'.
• Percival on Medical Ethics.
Gregory on the Duties of a Physician. • Gisborne on Moral Duties.
ON THE EDUCATION OF COUNTRY GENTLEMEN, OR OF MEN
INTENDED FOR PRIVATE LIFE.
M ORE than one illustrious foreigner has envied the happiness of our English country gentlemen ; more than one foreign prince has exclaimed, “The life of an English country gentle“ man is assuredly the happiest life in the world.”
When we reflect upon the condition of English country gentlemen, we must perceive, that much of their happiness has arisen from their independence of mind; and much from their maintaining what is called independent fortunes. It was long their boast, their honest pride, to despise show and frippery, to do without the luxuries of a city, yet, to live hospitably, and in a manner becoming their station. They paid their debts regularly. They thanked God, that they were independent of all men, and could speak their minds freely on every subject, private or public, without fear or reward. Between this independence of mind and of fortune there is such an intimate connexion, that the one must be destroyed, if the other be sacrificed. If country gentlemen, from the desire to make a figure in the metropolis, or to outshine their neighbours, enter into contests of extravagance and scenes of funzionable dissipation ; if, instead of living upon their own estates and attending to their own affairs, they crowd to water-drinking places, and think only of hazard or Newmarket, the consequences must be, the ruin of their private fortunes, and the forfeiture of their political integrity. Instead of being their country's pride and the bulwark of her freedom, they will become the wretched slaves of a party, or the despicable tools of a court. They will be contemned and ridiculed by their superiors in rank, whom with unequal steps they awkwardly pursue. They will be detested by their neighbours, their inferiors, their tenantry, and dependants, and by the nation whose interests they abandon or betray. For when a country gentleman has lived beyond his income, what is his resource? not trade, not business of any kind ; to that he cannot stoop; for this he is not qualified. He has no resource but to sell his vote, if he be in parliament; or if he be not, to solicit and bargain, perhaps by his county interest, with parliamentary friends, who may provide for his sons, or procure for him the means of repairing his shattered fortune. But what can restore his independence of mind!
:: How much the noblest virtues depend on the smallest
can be thoroughly known only to those, who have looked closely into the secret motives of human actions. The great, the brilliant, and the solid virtues of integrity, patriotism, and generosity, cannot long subsist, unless they be supported and protected by the seemingly insignificant and homely habits of prudence and economy.
If this were a treatise on political economy, it might be
necessary here to define the term luxury : by some writers, it is used to signify every thing beyond the mere necessaries of life; with others, it comprehends chiefly the objects of the fine arts, and with others, whatever implies effeminacy of manners. But it is by no means certain, that a taste for luxury diminishes the martial spirit of a people ; and to restrict men to the necessaries of life, would be to destroy commerce, and to reduce them to a state of Spartan simplicity, equally incompatible with modern ideas of happiness and modern systems of defence. The principle of the Lacedæmonian system of defending a country seems to have been, to deprive it of all that could tempt an invader. In modern times, Sparta and the life of a Lacedæmonian would scarcely appear worth fighting for; and it would be bad policy in these days, even if it were possible, to restrict the pleasures of life to that of bare existence, to reduce the love of our country, embellished by commerce and the arts, to mere habitual attachment to the natal soil. It is not in the Spartan, nor yet in the ascetic sense of the term, that luxury is here used.
· Luxury, in fact, is a word that must vary in every age, and in every country, with the progress of civilization: it is not a positive, but a comparative term ; for what is luxury in one rank of life, is not luxury in another; and the luxuries of yesterday become the necessaries of to day: no general or permanent definition therefore can be precise. Sumptuary laws, which have attempted to define luxuries, have always been absurd and incompetent. On this subject common opinion is the only standard; and as this varies with circum
stances, so must the conduct of individuals. In every rank and situation there is a certain style in living, in houses, equipage, furniture, which is usual to persons of that class. Whoever in any of these things vies with persons of a superior station and passes the bounds of his rank and fortune, may be justly accused of being luxurious and extravagant. Those who consider the wealth of nations as the first object are right in wishing to encourage this species of luxury, and to speak of it as tending only to the quick transfer of property and division of estates ; but those who consider the happiness of nations as an object far preferable to their wealth, will wish rather to preserve their moral independence, which must be sacrificed in the indulgence of these tastes for extravagance..
In the education of country gentlemen, therefore, early · care should be taken to prevent their acquiring tastes, that, may render them extravagant. The first means to be used are of a preventive nature. Parents should avoid giving children false notions of the value of things, by praising objects of mere luxury, by anxiety about external appearance, and by deference to wealth and show. They should not teach by example, that ornament is to be preferred to utility : and that people of fashion are superior to other mortals. All who have attended to children know how early they catch notions from those they live with, and how quickly they form deductions from casual expressions of admiration or contempt. By a few well-timed words of praise or blame, parents may infuse a noble and rational pride into the minds of youth, raise them above that petty emulation in expense which ruins the