principles of honour and honesty as obsolete and unfashionable. The opinion of one, who was both a statesman and a man of letters, who went into office after having fixed his principles from the study of books, should on this subject be heard with attention, and may be cited rather as evidence than merely as authority.

“ It has been observed,” says Addison, in an essay on the duties of men in office, “ that men of learning, who take to “ business, discharge it generally with greater honesty than “ men of the world ; the chief reason for it I take to be as “ follows: A man that has spent his youth in reading has “ been used to find virtue extolled, and vice stigmatized. A “ man that has passed his time in the world has often seen « vice triumphant, and virtue discountenanced. Extortion, “ rapine, and injustice, which are branded with infamy in “ books, often give a man a figure in the world; while several « qualities, which are celebrated in authors, as generosity, in“ 'genuity, and good-nature, impoverish and ruin him. This 6 cannot but have a proportionable effect on men, whose “ tempers and principles are equally good and vicious.”— Addison was himself in practice an example of the truth of his own theory; he conducted himself with perfect probity when he was in office; not with romantic generosity, but with justice and prúdence. When he was secretary under the Duke of Wharton, as lord-lieutenant of Ireland, he never, from compliment to his friends, remitted his regular fees ; “ For," said he, “ I have a hundred friends, and if my fee bé two “ guineas, I shall, by relinquishing my right, lose two hundred “ guineas, and no friend gain more than two; there is there


“ fore no proportion between the good imparted and the “ evil suffered.” Some one, presuming perhaps from this prudent conduct, that Addison was mercenary, ventured to offer him a douceur, a bribe it must not in these days be called, for we must “ never mention Hell to ears polite :” on this occasion Addison answered, “Sir, believe me when I assure 6 you I never did, nor ever will, on any pretence whatever, take 66 more than the stated or customary fees of my office. I might “ keep the contrary practice concealed from the world, were “ I capable of it; but I could not from myself; and I hope I “ shall always fear the reproaches of my own heart, more than “ those of all mankind.” Such an anecdote, and such a speech might perhaps make an indelible impression upon a youth of generous disposition and cultivated understanding. Examples from real life, and among our contemporaries, should be pointed out to him, of the disgrace to which want of integrity reduces public characters. He should have opportunities, if possible, of hearing politicians converse on the characters of men of different parties. It will be advantageous, that he should hear these opinions of men and things at first in the company of a father or friend, who can, by judicious remarks, assist him to form his own judgment and principles ; and at this period of his education, when he has not yet entered the lists, when he is at a distance of some years from the time, when he can be called upon to act, he will be able to listen and judge more calmly perhaps than when his knowledge of the world is increased, and when his own passions and interests are at stake. For these reasons it has been advised, that a young man should spend a few months in his father's house, or with some sensible and honourable friend,

previous to his becoming entirely his own master at the university.

Bacon says, that in his time, in England, “ an affected “ study of eloquence and copia of speech flourished, and grew “ speedily to excess ; men began to hunt more after words “ than matter; and more after the choiceness of the phrase, “ and the round and clean composition of the sentence, and “ the sweet falling of the clauses, and the varying and illus“ tration of their works with tropes and figures, than after the “ weight of matter, worth of subject, soundness of argument, 6 life of invention, or depth of judgment. Then grew the “ flowing and watery vein of Osorius, the Portugal bishop, 6 to be in price. **** Then Car of Cambridge and Ascham, “ with their lectures and writings, almost deified Cicero and “ Demosthenes, and allured all young men that were studious “ unto that delicate and polished kind of learning. Then did “ Erasmus take occasion to make the scoffing echo Decem annos consumpsi in legendo Cicer-one : and the echo an“ swered in Greek, Ove! (Asine !) Thou ass !.

If in our own times young men, who aspire to be orators and statesmen, should be tempted to imitate the flowing vein, or Ciceronian periods, of any modern orator, let them for a moment reflect upon the state of public affairs, and consider, whether it be probable, whether it be possible, that mere men of words, and polishers of sentences should continue in request, or in power. When such arts succeed, the honest patriot abhors the eloquence that undoes his country. Far before eloquence in a statesman must now be ranked prudence, fertility in resource, candour, firmness, knowledge of the character of the nation, and of such individuals as may, even at a distance, influence opinion ; a comprehensive estimation of the physical military and fiscal powers of his own country, and of those foreign states, which are friendly or inimical to his own. Let not young readers be astounded at this formidable list of qualifications necessary for a statesman. Let their ambition scorn the obstacles, that dismay the weak and indolent. The gods sell every thing to labour. This conviction, this ardour, should be fresh in the minds of youth, when first they are let loose from the bondage of scholastic discipline, and when they take the care of their education, and consequently of their future fame and happiness, into their own hands.

At the university, a statesman and a lawyer's' course of study should be nearly similar ; both should begin by laying a foundation of general knowledge ; but on this basis a statesman must afterwards raise not a fabric of law, but of philosophical history, political economy, and finance. These latter studies should not commence till he has left the university, or at least till he has acquired a sufficient stock of various literature to supply materials for public oratory. In reading to collect these stores, he must not suffer his mental powers to remain unexercised, otherwise whatever treasure he may accumulate, it will be of no service to him; he will not be able to apply it to proper use; mere readers lose all activity of understanding, and become dull pedants : thus some men

See Ch, on lawyers.

begin to lay up money with the intention of enjoying it at a distant period ; but, in the habits of amassing, they forget the wish and the very power of employing their wealth, and end by becoming wretched misers.

The manner in which knowledge acquired from books or conversation may be stored up in the mind, so as to be retained with most ease, and recollected with most facility, has been elsewhere discussed*; the advantages and disadvantages of technical helps to the memory have been explained ; and in the preceding chapter it has been examined how far the practices of transcribing, making notes, and keeping commonplace books, may be useful or hurtful to students in general. To orators, in particular, the habit of transcribing passages, or noting ideas in a commonplace book, must be injurious; for they want their knowledge at times when they cannot have recourse to written notices; their thoughts must flow spontaneously to the lips in the midst of the hurry and confusion of a public assembly.

No man, especially in public life, can acquire much information, who does not possess the talent of reading quickly, and of winnowing books with facility. This talent is to be acquired by beginning with reading slowly, and by patiently analysing a few works of eminence, There is a book recommending this species of analysis to students as a constant practice, and giving technical rules for the purpose. This book should be read and considered, but it would be waste of

* Practical Education.

« 前へ次へ »