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To a young Friend, nearly his own Age.
It is true that I have been a little flippant with you
of late, and, it is no less certain that you have taken it uncommonly hotly. I am high and you are low-spirited on the same occasion. I am happy in the thoughts of your settling at -; and you are anxious and uneasy on account of the uncertainty of your prospect. In that event I see nothing that does not tend to give me pleasure ; you view it with concern and anxiety. But after all I have been wrong, and therefore I ask your pardon. And this I do rather to satisfy myself, than you, because you will not require it. We have been nurtured in habits of such rude familiarity with one another, that it is no wonder if we are sometimes mutually hurt at circumstances which happen before strangers. On this subject my complaints have been more numerous than yours; and as I have used the liberty of remonstrating, it is proper that I attend to your remonstrances in turn. And I am very sensible I was wrong, and sorry for it.
For God's sake! do not be cast down, but remember that a firm, collected mind in every situation will crown abilities with success; and that it not only is the greatest blessing, but deserves the highest praise of any intellectual endowment.
Excuse all my faults and failings, and expose them to my view as I do yours; it is this that makes our friendship useful and honourable; it is this which stamps its purity, and makes it to me a source of never-failing happiness.
There are other remarks in this letter to which I again most earnestly recal your attention. Do, for the love of God! be more guarded. You are not aware to what injuries the openness of your heart and speech exposes you.
Take the world at large, you will find nothing but caution and reserve; and if at any time prudence is dropped, you will find it most generally for some purpose of hatred or malice. Naked and exposed, you encounter men cased in impenetrable armour. It is true, you have nothing to fear from a thorough examination. What then ? The number who can value a heart noble and sincere, is comparatively speaking small; and the world is full of selfishness and malice.
Once more, my dear, let me request you to use no familiarity with those you do not esteem; there is no man whom dignity of manners more becomes, nor any who has, in general, a more proper sense of the dignity of character. Again, let me request you to suffer fools and blockheads, if such you meet with, to pass unheeded. What occasion is there for you to take notice of every foolish thing that is said or done in your company, and to be witty upon it? I declare solemnly that your wit is mere caustic
and many more enemies are made, as you know, by insulting their understanding, than by detecting their vices. Besides, this conduct of yours looks like vanity and conceit; for he who laughs at another, tacitly assumes a superiority to himself.
It is this circumstance, my dear that has in many instances brought on you the character of a conceited fellow (a character, indeed, which people often get who exert superiority of talents); and I question whether I am not the only man on earth, who knows that your real opinion of yourself is greatly below par — at least in respect to those qualities of which you have most reason to be proud.
I am anxious to converse with you. I do not know what has got into me, but I am become more restless and uneasy on your account, in proportion as my own happiness seems to become less problematical.
I do not like the temper of mind in which you write. You seem to have given up every idea except of one thing, and, like a desperate gamester, appear willing to risk every thing upon one cast.
My dear believe this serious and solemn truth : no man ever took the world by storm. He who hopes to come off conqueror, must make his approaches gradually and unremittingly; be ready to repair mistakes, to engage with difficulties in the detail, to possess the faculties of his mind firm and unruffled in every change of fortune, and especially, in every step of his progress, to make his footing sure.
One thing let me tell you— you must procure the good will of those around you, and preserve
it; otherwise every thing will be vain. Situated as you are, you ought to be universally esteemed ; the echoings of a fair name are only inferior in value to gold. - Adieu !
To the same.
Have the generosity to forgive this freedom, and let me conjure you, my dearest friend, to be for the future more circumspect in your
conduct. Repeated experience must have taught you, that there is something essentially wrong in your
It is a friend, and a friend only, that can point this out. Let me be that friend, qualified at least by intimacy and affection. It is the loose familiarity of your manner, and the unguarded turn of your expression, which have brought all your quarrels on your hands; not one is referable to any other cause. How often have I remonstrated with you on this subject, and warned you against your unfortunate propensity to point out the weakness and ridicule the follies of those around you? It is nothing to tell me that your heart is free from every spark of malice, and full of affection and be