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these they will learn more than from most books; they will see the state of public affairs, as well as the news of the day: they will become interested in political discussions, and their judgments will be continually exercised on questions immediately applicable to affairs in which they are hereafter to be conversant. A knowledge of character is as useful to statesmen as a knowledge of books. Those who are intended for public life should therefore turn their attention to the study of human nature; and they cannot begin better than by observing the character of their schoolfellows, many of whom may afterwards become their rivals or their partisans. The talent for persuading, leading, and governing numbers, may be, and usually is, developed at great public schools : ambition is there strongly excited, parties formed, eloquence, wit, and address called forth, and the cabals and intrigues of public life are there to be seen in miniature. If youths be taught to observe, as well as to act in these scenes, they may learn much from the rehearsals of the parts they are to perform, or to see represented on the great theatre of the political world. Of still more consequence will it be to young men to establish, even while they are at school, characters for truth, fidelity to their promises, and steadiness to their friends; this reputation, as well as the credit for abilities or perseverance, will precede them in the world, and will prepare for them the confidence of those with whom they are to act.
A fond or an ambitious father could hardly form a better wish for his son, than that he should, when he quits Eton or Westminster, have the character of being an honourable, generous lad, of high spirit and great abilities. It is now the part of judicious parents, when a son returns home, not to associate with domestic pleasures the idea that literature is a task, and that il far niente is the summit of human happiness. There should be an interval of some months between the youth's leaving school and his going to college. It is during this time, that judicious and truly affectionate parents should use their utmost skill, exert all the power that fondness, gratitude, and the contrast between school restraints and domestic liberty give them at this period of their son's life, to extend his views beyond mere schoolboy notions; to show the use of what he has already learned, and to nourish the desire to improve. No errour can be more fatal than the belief, that education terminates with childhood, or with school or college discipline. A wise, a truly great man, will continue to improve himself to the latest period of life. This idea should be strongly impressed on youth, especially on those who are destined to take a part in public affairs, and who aspire to influence, or to direct in perilous times the affairs of one of the first nations of the world. It is at this period when the boy just begins to think himself a man, that he is susceptible of the strongest impressions, and that he is most anxious to listen to opinions, that do not come in the form of precepts concerning character and conduct. His friends should, therefore, seize these favourable moments to enlarge his views, and elevate his soul to all that is great and honourable. The generous ambition, with which he was early inspired, should now be stimulated into enthusiasm: it is this which must excite him to great exertions, and render him , capable of noble actions; the gratification of this ruling passion is to repay, to reward him for all the sacrifices of ease, pleasure, profit, time, and health, which he may perhaps, which probably he must, as an exalted public character, be called upon to make for the good and glory of his country. To excite such a spirit in a youth, the parent must himself feel it; those who feel it strongly, will express it eloquently. Lord Chatham inspired his son with this noble enthusiasm, because he felt it; and he spoke, as he felt, energetically. When Mr. Pitt was yet a child, his father, laying his hand upon the boy's head, pronounced that celebrated prediction of his future greatness, which must have roused the generous ambition of the boy, and which probably proved in some degree the cause of its accomplishment *.
While a youth is fresh from the perusal of those classical authors who breathe a noble spirit of virtue and freedom, his father, if he be a man of literature, or his preceptor should take advantage of this knowledge. Those divine works, which he has been accustomed to translate as schoolbooks, he should now look upon with the eyes of a man ; when he reads them from his own free choice, he will feel their beauties, and catch a portion of their enthusiasm. Those authors, who with bold colours paint the vices and virtues of men in public life, should be his peculiar study. These will animate his indignation against all that is base, and excite his admiration of all that is noble. Let him read the character of Helvidius Priscus, which Tacitus drew while yet some virtue remained among the Romans.
“ Helvidius Priscus, while yet a youth, gave up his illus6 trious mind to the severer studies; not to veil inactive 6 sloth by a reputation for philosophy, but that he might be “ prepared to endure adversity in managing the business of “ the state. He followed those who maintained that alone “ to be a good which is honourable and just ; that alone to “ be an evil which is base: power, nobility, and every thing “ external to the mind he pronounced to be indifferent. “ While yet a quæstor, he was chosen for a son-in-law by “ Pætus Thrasea, whom he imitated in nothing so much as « in his ardent love for liberty. As citizen, senator, husband, “ son, and friend, uniform in all the duties of life; contemn“ ing riches, inflexible in the right, and fearless in every “ danger.”
* Practical Education.
“ There were who thought him too ambitious of fame ; “ but the love of glory is the latest passion, which even the “ wise endeavour to subdue.”
Compare this lofty ambition, this “glorious fault of heroes," with the low, wretched vice, which now too often usurps its name. Modern ambition is in general but a vile spirit of avarice and habit of intrigue; ignoble in its means as in its objects; rising or in its fall it can never confer happiness or command respect. Contrast the character of Helvidius Priscus, admired and revered ages after his death, with the miserable, despicable picture of a modern minister in disgrace. “ Alas! my children, what an incurable disease is ambition ! “ What a life of wretchedness is that of a minister in disgrace!” says Marmontel to his children, speaking of the Count d’Argenson. “ Half worn out by fatigue, disappointment and
“ vexation completed the ruin of his health. His body was " tortured by the gout: his mind corroded by recollections " and full of remorse.
“ As I was walking in his garden with him, I perceived a “ marble statue at some distance, and asking whose it was, « • It is one I have not the courage to look ať—and turning “ another way, he said, “Ah! Marmontel, if you knew with 46 what zeal I served him! If you knew how often he has « declared to me, that we should pass our lives together ; 64how often he has assured me, that I had not a better “ friend in the world! Such are the promises of kings, such “ “ their friendship! And at these words his eyes filled with “ tears. These ideas pursued him every where ; and when“ ever he was left to himself, he appeared overwhelmed with “ sorrow. At these times his daughter-in-law used to run to “ him, sit beside him, press him in her arms, and caress him “ like a child ; he would let his head fall on her breast or her “, knees, and bathe them with tears, without attempting to « conceal ito.”
Some parents might perhaps fear to give a youth intended for public life strong tastes for literature, lest these should unfit him for the business of the world, should give him such refined notions of virtue as could not now be applied in practice, and lest they might, upon his mixing with our degenerate politicians, appear to him so antiquated and romantic, as to make him not only abandon them altogether, but with them give up all
Marmontel's Memoirs-For the French see the Appendix.