Letters from a Father to His Son


Letters from a Father to His Son John Mackenzie, 1848-1849


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<strong>Letters</strong> <strong>from</strong> a <strong>Father</strong> <strong>to</strong> <strong>His</strong> <strong>Son</strong><br />

John Mackenzie, 1848-1849<br />




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TRUTH<br />

London, August 24th, 1848.<br />

My dear son,<br />

You have now left your home for the first time, and as you will no<br />

longer have the benefit of your father and mother's daily advice, I<br />

am going <strong>to</strong> write down for you some instructions, which, if you<br />

carefully attend <strong>to</strong>, may, and I have no doubt will, tend <strong>to</strong> make<br />

you a good and respectable man.<br />

The first thing which I desire <strong>to</strong> impress most deeply upon your<br />

mind (and you will guess what is coming before you read it) is<br />

that you always speak the truth. I have urged and repeated this <strong>to</strong><br />

you, as you know, ever since you unders<strong>to</strong>od the meaning of<br />

words; and you have sense enough <strong>to</strong> believe that I would not<br />

have done so, but <strong>from</strong> a thorough conviction of its importance<br />

<strong>to</strong> your welfare.<br />

To be true is <strong>to</strong> be honest.<br />

The boy or the man who never breaks this golden rule, walks<br />

uprightly through the world is ever able <strong>to</strong> look his fellows and<br />

companions in the face. He knows no fear, and has nothing <strong>to</strong><br />

conceal; and though he is ashamed of doing what is wrong, is not<br />

base enough <strong>to</strong> endeavor <strong>to</strong> screen his faults with a falsehood.<br />

Human nature, in men as well as boys, is ever liable <strong>to</strong> error—<br />

hasty acts bring upon us all lasting regrets; but if we acknowledge<br />

our errors candidly and honestly, and endeavor <strong>to</strong> avoid them in<br />

future, we shall not have <strong>to</strong> add <strong>to</strong> them the pain and remorse<br />

of concealment, nor the shame of detection and exposure.<br />

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Besides speaking positive untruths, all boasting and<br />

exaggeration should be shunned. Boasting often leads <strong>to</strong><br />

untruth. It is like a weak and vain boy, <strong>to</strong> boast of any little<br />

accomplishment you may possess. Leave others <strong>to</strong> find out your<br />

merits, if you have any, and depend upon it, you will be much<br />

more thought of than if you seemed puffed up with conceit of<br />

yourself.<br />

Do not be <strong>to</strong>o ready with excuses for your faults—that often<br />

leads <strong>to</strong> untruth. Do not say, it was only a very small apple I ate; it<br />

was only a very little way I was out of bounds; it was only a very<br />

little knock I gave Willy; and so on.<br />

A boy who is always ready with an excuse, cannot be always<br />

making a true and real excuse. Every now and then, his wish <strong>to</strong><br />

screen himself will lead him <strong>to</strong> soften his fault, and that <strong>to</strong>o<br />

frequently ends in his denying what he has done al<strong>to</strong>gether. Let<br />

everything you say be the whole truth, and the exact truth, neither added<br />

<strong>to</strong> nor diminished; but state things precisely, and truly, and really as they<br />

happened, and as they are.<br />

I say again, therefore, be particularly mindful always <strong>to</strong> speak the<br />

truth; and not only <strong>to</strong> speak the truth, but <strong>to</strong> be perfectly candid<br />

and open, manly and straight forward in all your little ways with<br />

your schoolfellows. Never mislead, or deceive, or attempt <strong>to</strong> do so. If<br />

you are asked a question, give a full, that is, as full an answer as<br />

you are able. Do not keep back half of what is passing in your<br />

mind, and only allow the other half <strong>to</strong> escape <strong>from</strong> your lips. This<br />

is called mental reservation. I will give you an instance of a very<br />

silly and stupid reservation of this sort, as it used <strong>to</strong> be played off<br />

at my school when I was a schoolboy, by lads of an inferior<br />

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description, as a piece of wit; but, in fact, it was simply a low and<br />

vulgar equivocation. One boy would hand an apple <strong>to</strong> another,<br />

and say, "I am going out—here is an apple; will you promise<br />

faithfully <strong>to</strong> give it <strong>to</strong> my brother William?" The other boy would<br />

say, "I will;" but low down <strong>to</strong> himself he said "not," so that what he<br />

really said was "I will not;" and when the boy who gave him the<br />

apple was gone, he ate the apple himself. Of course he was found<br />

out; and then he excused himself by saying he said "not" low<br />

down <strong>to</strong> himself. This was a base, paltry trick; he induced the boy<br />

who gave him the apple <strong>to</strong> believe that he would truly and<br />

honestly give it <strong>to</strong> his brother; and the word "not," which he said<br />

low down, was the same as not said, because no one heard it.<br />

These sort of boys, in the end, always become shunned by their<br />

companions—no one believes them or trusts them; and their<br />

promises and statements are never in the least relied upon.<br />

I explain this <strong>to</strong> you, not that I suppose for a moment either you,<br />

or any of your companions or schoolfellows, would be guilty of<br />

so silly and unmeaning—so false and base a trick; but <strong>to</strong> impress<br />

on your mind, that all tricks which interfere with the truth are<br />

bad, and that you should never for a moment, in any shape or<br />

way, allow yourself <strong>to</strong> trifle with the truth, nor play tricks which<br />

involve a deviation <strong>from</strong> the great principle which I wish <strong>to</strong> press<br />

on your attention in this letter.<br />

Recollect, also, what I have often <strong>to</strong>ld you, that truth and candor<br />

are the basis of all virtue and goodness in life, and a departure <strong>from</strong> them<br />

the foundation of every evil. Abilities of the most splendid character<br />

without truth, are of no avail <strong>to</strong> their possessor. No one respects<br />

an untruthful boy, or a deceitful and false man; his very abilities<br />

often prove his destruction, because falsehood leads <strong>to</strong> crime and<br />

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wickedness. An able and wicked man carries his wickedness much<br />

further than a stupid man can do, and his ultimate punishment is<br />

of course more dreadful in proportion.<br />

Remember, also, that truth, which is honesty, is the best policy. You<br />

know the proverb, that honesty is the best policy: well, that is the<br />

same as truth; truth is honesty, and honesty is truth.<br />

If I was an artist, I would like <strong>to</strong> draw you two pictures of Truth<br />

and Falsehood. Truth would be like the industrious apprentice,<br />

with a fine candid open face, looking upright and manly, with a<br />

free step and a pleasant countenance, which everyone who gazed<br />

upon would see was the face of a true and honest boy.<br />

While falsehood would have a downcast ashamed look, with a<br />

bad expression and unsteady eye, not venturing <strong>to</strong> look straight<br />

before him, so that any one who saw him would say, "That is a<br />

wicked boy."<br />

A wicked mind—a habit of falsehood—a continual deviation<br />

<strong>from</strong> truth and goodness and honesty, make a boy's features bad.<br />

Bad passions and evil propensities soon show themselves in the<br />

face; and no boy or man can long be untruthful or deceitful,<br />

without betraying in his face and manner, <strong>to</strong> all who see him,<br />

that he is not worthy <strong>to</strong> be trusted—that he is untrue, dishonest,<br />

and wicked.<br />

Thus, therefore, you see, honesty is in every way the best policy,<br />

and so is truth.<br />

You remember the newspaper I brought home for you some<br />

months ago, <strong>to</strong> read about the false and wicked man, whose<br />

untrue statements produced his ruin. The words I wished you<br />

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particularly <strong>to</strong> attend <strong>to</strong>, were the words of a gentleman<br />

appointed <strong>to</strong> act as a Judge, and among other things, <strong>to</strong> inquire<br />

in<strong>to</strong> the causes why people called bankrupts cannot pay what<br />

they owe. This gentleman had great opportunities of knowing the<br />

world, and of observing, that, in a great majority of cases, it is<br />

their own misconduct which leads men in<strong>to</strong> difficulties. You may<br />

therefore look upon what he says, as the words of an able, and<br />

what is better, of a good man, and I cannot do better than repeat<br />

them <strong>to</strong> you here over again.<br />

He says, "It has been truly said, when a man has once forfeited<br />

the reputation of his integrity, he is set fast, and nothing will<br />

serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood. Indeed, if a man were<br />

<strong>to</strong> deal in the world only for a day, and should never have<br />

occasion <strong>to</strong> converse more with mankind—never more need of<br />

their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter<br />

(speaking of the concernments of this world) if a man spent his<br />

reputation all at once, and ventured it at a throw. But if he is <strong>to</strong><br />

continue in the world, and would have the advantage of<br />

conversation while he is in it, let him make use of truth and<br />

sincerity in all his words and actions, for nothing but this will last<br />

and hold out <strong>to</strong> the end, and all other arts will fail; but truth and<br />

integrity will carry a man through, and bear him out <strong>to</strong> the last."<br />

I am sure, however that you have had <strong>to</strong>o many opportunities<br />

and advantages, and have <strong>to</strong>o much sense <strong>to</strong> require me <strong>to</strong> say<br />

much more on this matter. This letter you must read over and<br />

over again; and whenever you have said or done anything which<br />

your own mind tells you is not correct, and not according <strong>to</strong> the<br />

instructions in father's first letter <strong>to</strong> you about truth—then get the<br />

letter, and read it again carefully over; go <strong>to</strong> your teacher and tell<br />

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him of your fault, and your doubts, and he will put you in the<br />

right way <strong>to</strong> a<strong>to</strong>ne for any passing error, and amend your<br />

conduct for the future.<br />

In conclusion, let me remind you that I am writing for your<br />

express benefit and improvement—that I am occupying valuable<br />

time in doing it, or interfering with the few hours of leisure<br />

which health requires. You know that no one loves you as your<br />

father and mother do, and you never can have such friends again<br />

as they are. What they say <strong>to</strong> you is the result of long experience,<br />

and having no one but yourself <strong>to</strong> attend <strong>to</strong>, few children are<br />

blessed with the care and attention, both <strong>to</strong> your health and<br />

morals, bes<strong>to</strong>wed upon you.<br />

The way <strong>to</strong> show your sense of their kindness is <strong>to</strong> attend <strong>to</strong> your<br />

parents' advice—<strong>to</strong> think continually of it, and <strong>to</strong> be virtuous,<br />

truthful and good, and then you will not only be happy yourself,<br />

but the source of great happiness and gratification <strong>to</strong> them<br />

throughout their lives. And when they die, you will have the<br />

consolation <strong>to</strong> know, that you have been their comfort and their<br />

joy <strong>to</strong> the last period of their existence, and thus repaid the debt<br />

of gratitude which you owe them. I shall soon write <strong>to</strong> you again<br />

on another subject; and in the meantime,<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate father<br />

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London, Oc<strong>to</strong>ber 25th, 1848.<br />

My dear son,<br />

I have written <strong>to</strong> you a letter about speaking the truth, and being<br />

guided by truth, candor, and honesty in all your words and<br />

actions, and I am now going <strong>to</strong> write <strong>to</strong> you about self-denial. I<br />

hope you attend <strong>to</strong> what I write, and think of it continually.<br />

It would be in vain for me <strong>to</strong> give you the benefit of my<br />

experience and opinion, if you did not carefully read and reflect<br />

upon my words. They are not light words, <strong>to</strong> be forgotten like a<br />

fairy tale—but serious and important words, every one of them<br />

<strong>to</strong> be s<strong>to</strong>red in your memory, and never lost sight or recollection<br />

of during your life.<br />

What I tell you is what I know myself <strong>to</strong> be true. You will find, in<br />

the course of your education, and of your reading, as you grow<br />

older, that there are some things nay, I may say, many things—as<br />

<strong>to</strong> which wise and good men differ in opinion. In my letters <strong>to</strong><br />

you, when I speak of such matters, I shall inform you that this<br />

difference of opinion exists. For the present I am confining my<br />

advice <strong>to</strong> you <strong>to</strong> plain and acknowledged truths, about which<br />

there can be, among wise and good men, no difference of<br />

opinion.<br />

You know the meaning of self-denial. The words, indeed, explain<br />

their own meaning. The time <strong>to</strong> begin self-denial is when we are<br />

young. If young people are indulged in every wish—if they have<br />

only <strong>to</strong> ask and have—if, without reference <strong>to</strong> whether the object<br />

of their desires is good or bad for their minds or bodies; those<br />

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who are entrusted with the care of them—that is, their parents or<br />

teachers, allow them <strong>to</strong> obtain every gratification—then young<br />

boys and girls so treated are almost sure <strong>to</strong> be ruined!<br />

You will find, also, that there is often more real happiness in abstaining<br />

<strong>from</strong> the immediate object of our wishes, than in securing it. Happiness<br />

does not consist in a perpetual round of pleasures and<br />

enjoyments. When you have had a long and perhaps fatiguing<br />

walk, rest is pleasant; and after a long fast, you are hungry. But<br />

were you always eating or always resting, then you would swallow<br />

your food without an appetite, and would feel no pleasure in<br />

repose.<br />

Thus it is that human nature is constituted. The industrious man<br />

enjoys his leisure—the man who is always at leisure enjoys<br />

nothing.<br />

One of the first things that boys are apt <strong>to</strong> do wrong in is, the<br />

indulgence of their appetites by perpetually buying things <strong>to</strong> eat.<br />

The parents of some boys send cakes and sweets with them or<br />

after them <strong>to</strong> school. In the north of England, where I was<br />

educated, this was of rare occurrence, and the few boys who were<br />

so indulged obtained nick-names, and became objects of derision<br />

<strong>to</strong> their playfellows. One, I recollect, was called Dolly, <strong>from</strong> the<br />

name of the servant who brought him the good things.<br />

Do not understand me <strong>to</strong> say that you are never <strong>to</strong> eat sweets;<br />

such things, if in a proper state, are now and then very well in<br />

moderation. What I am cautioning you against is the spending<br />

every penny you get in that way. I recollect we had a boy at our<br />

school who was never done eating pies, cakes, and fruit. When he<br />

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got older he went <strong>to</strong> the pastry-cooks and confectioners' shops in<br />

the <strong>to</strong>wn, and purchased more expensive dainties. I remember<br />

very well one day seeing him with a large paper-bag before him,<br />

seated in a corner by himself, and devouring sweet cakes as fast<br />

as he could cram them down his throat!<br />

You will be surprised when I tell you that this boy had an intellect<br />

of no common order. He was a very quick, capable, and clever<br />

lad; not only a good scholar, but also a capital hand at all school<br />

games which required alertness and dexterity, and the fastest<br />

runner in the school. Had this unfortunate and foolish<br />

boy restrained his appetites in his youth, and cultivated the<br />

excellent abilities he possessed, there was nothing <strong>to</strong> have<br />

prevented his attaining a very high station. He had all those<br />

qualities which ensure success in this bustling world, added <strong>to</strong> a<br />

fine constitution. He went on, however, <strong>from</strong> one indulgence <strong>to</strong><br />

another. As he grew up and became a man, he gave way <strong>to</strong> every<br />

inclination, very shortly <strong>to</strong>ok <strong>to</strong> drinking, and finally, after being<br />

ruined both in health and prospects, died of a disease brought on<br />

by habits of in<strong>to</strong>xication.<br />

Bear in mind that all this misery, misfortune, and death was<br />

brought about <strong>to</strong> this person entirely by the lack of a little timely<br />

self-denial, when he first began <strong>to</strong> indulge his appetite without<br />

control in his youth.<br />

Besides its effect on the body, self-denial is of great use <strong>to</strong> the<br />

mind. It removes selfishness, and prevents us <strong>from</strong> entertaining a<br />

grasping and greedy spirit with respect <strong>to</strong> every apparently<br />

desirable object of which we see or hear. You should accus<strong>to</strong>m<br />

yourself, when there is anything nice <strong>to</strong> be given away, whether<br />

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at home or at school, <strong>to</strong> offer your companions the first choice, or<br />

divide it with them. You will feel yourself afterwards much more<br />

gratified in so doing than if you had appropriated the whole <strong>to</strong><br />

yourself, and a pleasing sensation will come in<strong>to</strong> your mind,<br />

rendering you satisfied with your own conduct.<br />

Self-denial also is <strong>to</strong> be observed not only in such matters as I<br />

have referred <strong>to</strong>, but in all your doings. If you wish <strong>to</strong> walk or play<br />

when you are asked <strong>to</strong> remain quiet or the reverse, always<br />

immediately give up your own desire, and submit cheerfully and<br />

readily <strong>to</strong> the directions of your friends or teachers.<br />

Sacrifice your self-will whenever you are called upon. At first you<br />

will find it difficult, but after a few efforts it will become easier.<br />

You will find that the quiet and kind manner (the result of your<br />

self-government) which this course of conduct will render<br />

habitual <strong>to</strong> you, will be of great service <strong>to</strong> you, and will create<br />

friends wherever you go.<br />

Of course, you will clearly understand that your giving way on<br />

such occasions is not intended <strong>to</strong> extend <strong>to</strong> instances where you<br />

may be asked by improper people <strong>to</strong> do what is wrong. Firmness<br />

of character is quite consistent with the most perfect self-denial,<br />

and you know now, and will know better still when you grow<br />

older, that the giving way <strong>to</strong> the wishes of others in affairs of<br />

comparatively trifling consequence, and which do not involve a<br />

compromise of your principles or a deviation <strong>from</strong> rectitude, is<br />

quite a different thing <strong>from</strong> abandoning those straight paths of<br />

virtue and honor which are clear and well defined, and which are<br />

never <strong>to</strong> be forsaken or departed <strong>from</strong> under any pretense or<br />

upon any solicitation whatever.<br />

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Be moderate in all your wishes, and temperate in the gratification of<br />

them. When you are in school, attend <strong>to</strong> your lessons. When out<br />

of school, manage your amusements in such a manner as that,<br />

when they are over, you shall feel satisfied in your own mind with<br />

your own conduct, and you will seldom get far wrong. Attend <strong>to</strong><br />

what I say; be a good boy and obey your teachers, and there will<br />

be nothing <strong>to</strong> interfere with your happiness beyond the usual<br />

casualties inseparable <strong>from</strong> human nature. Forever remember—<br />

engrave it on your heart, and fix it in your understanding—<br />

that virtue brings its own reward, and vice brings its own punishment.<br />

"Let no vicious man," says an eloquent writer in one of the<br />

monthly publications of the metropolis, "let no vicious man<br />

encourage himself in the thought that he can sin with impunity,<br />

that there is this attainable result—successful and unsuspected<br />

crime. Scourges track his footsteps. Above him is the stern<br />

observer; around him are invisible witnesses; behind him hurries<br />

remorse—his inseparable attendant during life, and his<br />

tyrannical moni<strong>to</strong>r in the bitter hour of death. The sting of sin's<br />

scorpion is real; it is realized in unrepented transgression. The<br />

only recipe for a clear conscience is that traced in the pages of a<br />

record that cannot lie. "Keep innocent and hold un<strong>to</strong> the thing<br />

which is right."<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate <strong>Father</strong><br />

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London, November 10th, 1848.<br />

My dear son,<br />

There are a few first principles—that is, a few leading and<br />

important truths—which, if strictly kept in mind and adhered <strong>to</strong><br />

<strong>from</strong> boyhood <strong>to</strong> man's estate and through life, will ensure <strong>to</strong> us<br />

at least a moderate success in all our undertakings, and make us<br />

as happy and as well off in the world as we can reasonably hope<br />

<strong>to</strong> be.<br />

Life is checkered by joys and sorrows, and sometimes with the<br />

best zeal and care and the greatest propriety of conduct, our<br />

endeavors may seem for a time <strong>to</strong> fail in their object. We must,<br />

however, have patience. Let us steadily continue our work—and<br />

with truth, honesty, and industry for our guides and companions,<br />

we shall not fail. These companions will be <strong>to</strong> us what Greatheart<br />

you know was <strong>to</strong> Christiana in the "Pilgrim's Progress," that<br />

you were so fond of reading. They will cheer us along the way,<br />

overcome all the obstacles which beset our path, and finally<br />

crown us with a fair and reasonable proportion of happiness and<br />

prosperity.<br />

I have already spoken <strong>to</strong> you of truth, and honesty, and selfdenial.<br />

I am now going <strong>to</strong> write <strong>to</strong> you of another of these<br />

important companions and guides, and, next <strong>to</strong> truth and<br />

honesty, the most important, namely, INDUSTRY. This is the<br />

true Great-heart—this is the young man's sword <strong>to</strong> enable him <strong>to</strong><br />

cut his way in<strong>to</strong> a high place among his fellows. Industry, properly<br />

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directed, is power, and strength, and wealth, and greatness. It ensures<br />

all these things; without it, all these things are as nothing.<br />

A pleasing writer, called Zimmerman, says, "If you ask me which<br />

is the real hereditary sin of human nature, do you imagine I shall<br />

answer pride, or luxury, or ambition, or egotism? No, I shall say<br />

indolence. Whoever conquers indolence, will conquer all the<br />

rest."<br />

Dr. Isaac Barrow, who was an eminent scholar and divine in the<br />

reign of Charles II, observes, in one of his works, that "A<br />

gentleman has obligations <strong>to</strong> mankind, which demand industry.<br />

How can he fairly exist on the common industry of mankind,<br />

without bearing a share thereof? How can he well satisfy himself<br />

<strong>to</strong> dwell stately, <strong>to</strong> feed daintily, <strong>to</strong> be finely clad, <strong>to</strong> maintain a<br />

pompous retinue—merely on the sweat and <strong>to</strong>il of others,<br />

without himself rendering a compensation or making some<br />

competent returns of care and pain, redounding <strong>to</strong> the good of<br />

his neighbor."<br />

The English are naturally and nationally an industrious people. It<br />

is that which has made England the greatest country in the world.<br />

You have heard of savages and Indians, and you are aware that<br />

they cannot read or write. They have no books, no printing<br />

presses, no clocks or watches, few and rude inventions, such as<br />

canoes and sledges for conveying themselves <strong>from</strong> place <strong>to</strong> place,<br />

and they cannot even make gunpowder <strong>to</strong> hunt their food.<br />

If you reflect for a moment, you will easily conceive how<br />

wonderful must have been the industry of the civilized portion<br />

of the human race. Man, in his original state, knew no more than<br />

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the savages. He ran wild and naked in the woods. In the times in<br />

which you and I live, only consider how immensely man has<br />

improved his position. We have now houses <strong>to</strong> live in—all sorts<br />

of inventions for producing warmth, light, and security by day<br />

and night—scientific and able men <strong>to</strong> attend us when we are ill;<br />

and for our daily use we have clocks <strong>to</strong> tell the time, and silver,<br />

china, and glass, earthenware and steel, elegant furniture and<br />

delightful musical instruments—all of which were brought <strong>to</strong> the<br />

greatest perfection by the care, pains and industry of man. We<br />

have, also, conveyances of every description by sea and land, and<br />

the benefit of the art of printing, which gives us excellent books<br />

on all subjects for our instruction and assistance with his<strong>to</strong>ries<br />

which tell us of all the past.<br />

Think, therefore, that having derived all these comforts and<br />

enjoyments, and such extensive means of information and<br />

amusement <strong>from</strong> the industry of others—you have your own<br />

part <strong>to</strong> perform. You must aspire <strong>to</strong> do something more than <strong>to</strong> eat,<br />

drink, sleep and die. Having <strong>to</strong> thank those who have gone before<br />

you for the great benefits their labors have conferred upon you, it<br />

should be your wish <strong>to</strong> render yourself as useful as you can <strong>to</strong> those<br />

who may come after you.<br />

To this end you must improve your mind, and labor at your<br />

studies with zeal and perseverance. Never give way <strong>to</strong><br />

despondency or sloth, nor put aside a task because it is difficult.<br />

When you are on one subject, or at one pursuit—never leave it<br />

until you have unders<strong>to</strong>od and mastered it. Renew your<br />

application with spirit and cheerfulness, and you are sure <strong>to</strong><br />

succeed. You will experience a lively pleasure and gratification in<br />

overcoming a difficulty in this way; and every difficulty overcome<br />

16 of 55

will not only be an incentive <strong>to</strong> new exertions, but will sharpen<br />

and prepare your mind for greater efforts, and a more brilliant<br />

success.<br />

Industrious people are always cheerful and happy. The carpenter<br />

sings at his work. The ploughman whistles o'er the furrowed<br />

land. The idle, on the contrary, are always listless and unhappy. Ever in<br />

search of frivolous gratifications which pall on them<br />

immediately, they know no real or lasting satisfaction.<br />

True enjoyment consists not wholly in play and amusement, but<br />

in seasonable relaxation <strong>from</strong> industrious and useful pursuits. You<br />

enjoy your holidays, now that you are at school, much more than<br />

you enjoyed the perpetual holiday you had before you went <strong>to</strong><br />

school. At school, also, your hours of play come in doubly sweet,<br />

because they consist of short intervals between your school<br />

exercises. The one employs the body, the other the mind. This<br />

keeps both in a sound, healthy and cheerful state. You will find<br />

that, in going <strong>to</strong> your play <strong>from</strong> your work, you go with an<br />

alacrity and satisfaction, that you do not feel when all your time<br />

is spent in play, and you do not know what amusement <strong>to</strong> invent<br />

next.<br />

A great philosopher and his<strong>to</strong>rian says, that "a life of pleasure<br />

cannot support itself so long as one of business; but is much<br />

more subject <strong>to</strong> satiety and disgust. The amusements that are the<br />

most durable have all a mixture of application and attention in<br />

them, and in general business and action fill up all the great<br />

vacancies of life."<br />

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Bear in mind, also, that in performing your duty in this respect<br />

you are your own best friend.<br />

Some writer (I forget who) says, "serve mankind and you serve<br />

yourself," and that is particularly true of industry. The first efforts<br />

of industry will be in obedience <strong>to</strong> your teachers. When you are a<br />

little older, your labors will be apparently for the sole benefit of<br />

one who is your master or superior. Idle and stupid lads will<br />

sometimes say, "Why should I do it for him? That will do me no<br />

good; I will go and amuse myself." How short sighted they are. It<br />

may be true that apparently your labor is not productive of<br />

any immediate benefit <strong>to</strong> yourself. I say apparently, because the<br />

habit of industry alone is a benefit. But there is more than this. By<br />

the act of labor you are improving your s<strong>to</strong>ck of knowledge.<br />

Every day's mental labor makes the next day's labor lighter; so<br />

that an industrious youth, when he attains <strong>to</strong> man's state, finds all<br />

inquiries and exertions comparatively easy <strong>to</strong> him. He takes<br />

pleasure in the pursuit of his business, or profession, <strong>from</strong><br />

the habit of industry previously acquired. He is respected and<br />

looked up <strong>to</strong> by all who know him. Accus<strong>to</strong>med <strong>to</strong> rely on<br />

himself, he needs but little help <strong>from</strong> others, while his own<br />

industry assists him <strong>to</strong> obtain and ensures his obtaining all that it<br />

is worth while <strong>to</strong> seek for upon earth. He is termed a clever<br />

person, a fortunate man, and such like—but the main secret of<br />

his good fortune and success in life being that, <strong>from</strong> youth <strong>to</strong><br />

manhood, he has been honest, truthful and industrious.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate <strong>Father</strong><br />

18 of 55


London, December 1st, 1848.<br />

My dear son,<br />

Economy is a word of much more extensive meaning than that<br />

which it is used <strong>to</strong> signify in common speech. At present,<br />

however, I shall confine myself <strong>to</strong> its popular and ordinary<br />

acceptance, namely—frugality, as the reverse of extravagance.<br />

It is necessary for every person <strong>to</strong> observe a proper economy.<br />

Supposing that we have money and all the gifts of fortune at<br />

command—still we should not waste our means in idle and<br />

worthless pursuits, nor foolishly spend our money upon trifles.<br />

There are plenty of poorer people in the world who will be<br />

thankful for anything we may give them, and on whom our spare<br />

cash will be much better bes<strong>to</strong>wed, than in personal<br />

gratifications for ourselves.<br />

I do not mean that you are not <strong>to</strong> have bats and balls, <strong>to</strong>ps and<br />

bicycles, and such other things as boys of your age take delight in<br />

during their play-hours. What I wish you <strong>to</strong> understand is the<br />

value of money; that it is obtained by labor and perseverance, by<br />

industry and self-denial, and by the exercise of a suitable<br />

economy, and that it is not <strong>to</strong> be carelessly thrown away!<br />

You know I required you lately <strong>to</strong> save your allowances until you<br />

could pay for a window you had broken. I did that not so much<br />

because I was angry with you for breaking the window, but <strong>to</strong><br />

teach you <strong>to</strong> save your money, and deny yourself for a time the<br />

little indulgences it might have purchased you. In short, it was <strong>to</strong><br />

give you a little practical lesson on economy.<br />

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Please observe that frugality and stinginess are very different<br />

things. By saving your money and not always running <strong>to</strong> a shop<br />

<strong>to</strong> spend it as soon as you get it, you will generally have some in<br />

your pocket <strong>to</strong> give <strong>to</strong> a poor person in distress, or <strong>to</strong> enable you<br />

<strong>to</strong> make a little present <strong>to</strong> a school-fellow you may respect, or<br />

who may have been useful or kind <strong>to</strong> you.<br />

The habit of foolish and reckless expenditures is a very bad one.<br />

It grows upon those who indulge in it, and is frequently, in after<br />

life, the cause of a ruin which may be dated <strong>from</strong> the thoughtless<br />

and uncorrected errors and follies of childhood.<br />

Economy also extends <strong>to</strong> a proper care of your clothes, books,<br />

and even playthings. Such things are the only property a little<br />

boy possesses of his own; and by not wasting, destroying, or<br />

neglecting them when he is young—he will learn <strong>to</strong> be careful of<br />

things of greater value with which he may be entrusted as he<br />

grows older. Your clothes should be put away with order and<br />

regularity, and you should know where <strong>to</strong> find everything you<br />

have—not leave your bats, guns, bow, etc. all around, you know<br />

not where, as I have known some boys do.<br />

I cannot <strong>to</strong>o often impress on your mind that good fortune,<br />

success in life, and happiness belong less <strong>to</strong> a man's position, than<br />

<strong>to</strong> himself and <strong>to</strong> the good early habits which he acquires. Your<br />

parents may be able <strong>to</strong> leave you, when they die, as much money<br />

as will keep you comfortably all your days—but they may not. An<br />

accident may happen <strong>to</strong> them, and they may lose all their<br />

property, so that they may have nothing <strong>to</strong> leave you but a good<br />

name and education. Prudent people seldom happen <strong>to</strong> have<br />

such accidents, but they are possible.<br />

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In this latter case, if you have attended <strong>to</strong> the advice and<br />

instructions of your parents and teachers, imbibed virtuous<br />

principles, and become truthful, self-denying, industrious, and<br />

economic—then your fortune rests in your own hands, and you<br />

will be able <strong>to</strong> earn a living for yourself.<br />

On the other hand, supposing your parents <strong>to</strong> leave you a<br />

competence, or even wealth—all of that would be of no use <strong>to</strong><br />

you should you be without truth, without industry, and without a<br />

proper economy. No property can long remain in such hands,<br />

and you would soon find that your wealth would slip through<br />

your fingers and be consumed in follies and extravagances, until<br />

you would be reduced <strong>to</strong> poverty! While, on the other hand, you<br />

would possess no qualities either of mind or body which would<br />

enable you <strong>to</strong> re-instate yourself in the place <strong>from</strong> whence you<br />

had fallen, or even probably <strong>to</strong> obtain your daily bread.<br />

Possessing, however, as I have no doubt you will, a competence,<br />

and combining also, as I trust it will be your anxious study <strong>to</strong> do<br />

—good and virtuous principles with energy of character and a<br />

determination rather <strong>to</strong> improve than deteriorate your position<br />

—there are few of the usual objects of ambition in life <strong>to</strong> which<br />

you may not aspire with a reasonable probability of success.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate <strong>Father</strong><br />

21 of 55


London, December 15th, 1848.<br />

My dear son,<br />

I mentioned <strong>to</strong> you, in one of my former letters, that industry was<br />

the young man's sword <strong>to</strong> carve out for him success in life. With equal<br />

truth, I may tell you that perseverance is the magic boot which, like<br />

that in the fairy tale, will enable him who possesses it, with rapid<br />

strides, <strong>to</strong> surpass all his competi<strong>to</strong>rs.<br />

In our native country of England, every office, every honor, every<br />

reward, short of the crown itself—is open <strong>to</strong> the humblest subject<br />

in the realm. It is true that there are a few only of the very highest<br />

stations <strong>to</strong> be filled, and many who aspire <strong>to</strong> them; still that is no<br />

reason why any individual should not so aspire. In attempting the<br />

highest, we perhaps may achieve the next in importance;<br />

whereas, he who sits down without energy, perseverance, or<br />

ambition, is likely <strong>to</strong> descend below the scale of society in which<br />

he was born, and <strong>to</strong> be overlooked or forgotten in the circle <strong>to</strong><br />

which he belongs.<br />

Many, if not most, of our eminent men have not owed their<br />

elevation <strong>to</strong> family connections, but solely <strong>to</strong> their own<br />

indefatigable perseverance. In some instances it has occurred<br />

that the successful individual has been almost ready <strong>to</strong> give up<br />

his long cherished hopes and prospects in despair. Having spent<br />

many anxious years in study and research, and waited and<br />

watched with patience for an opportunity <strong>to</strong> distinguish himself,<br />

he has been about <strong>to</strong> retire <strong>from</strong> the field—when the absence of<br />

some well known person <strong>from</strong> illness or accident has made way<br />

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for the humble aspirant <strong>to</strong> fame and fortune, who has stepped<br />

forward <strong>from</strong> his obscurity <strong>to</strong> fill the vacant place, <strong>to</strong> convince<br />

the world of his abilities and acquirements, and <strong>to</strong> lay the first<br />

s<strong>to</strong>ne of his future prosperity. No earthly blessing is so grateful as<br />

success thus obtained.<br />

Most high places were reached by perseverance and earnest and<br />

continued application. The knowledge of these facts should<br />

prove an incitement <strong>to</strong> the young <strong>to</strong> fix their eyes aloft, <strong>to</strong><br />

maintain a high character for honor and truth, <strong>to</strong> improve every<br />

hour of their existence, and <strong>to</strong> omit nothing which may tend <strong>to</strong><br />

render them capable of fulfilling the highest destinies.<br />

With these, or similar views in your mind, do not let passing<br />

pleasures allure you <strong>to</strong> loiter along the way, nor divert you <strong>from</strong><br />

the course of mental improvement and exertion, which alone can<br />

render you fit <strong>to</strong> compete with those you will find in the same<br />

track as yourself. Brace your nerves and spirits <strong>to</strong> the task—keep<br />

your mind on the alert, and your body free <strong>from</strong> indolence and<br />

unworthy gratifications—spur onward with alacrity, and if you<br />

have but health you are certain <strong>to</strong> win a high prize. "The race is<br />

not <strong>to</strong> the swift or the battle <strong>to</strong> the strong"—but it is <strong>to</strong> the swift in<br />

virtue, temperance, and truth; <strong>to</strong> the strong in persevering<br />

industry and patient labor.<br />

Then comes the reward of <strong>to</strong>il—the thankful satisfaction of<br />

having won your own garlands by your own exertions—the<br />

ultimate prize of the diligent and persevering scholar, the<br />

congratulations of our fellow laborers, the approval of our<br />

relatives and friends, the means of assisting those beneath us, and<br />

the conviction that when we leave this earthly scene, we shall<br />

23 of 55

leave behind us a name unsullied by dishonor, and a character<br />

without blemish or reproach!<br />

Look <strong>to</strong> this—think deeply of it. It is your father who tells you<br />

that this may one day all be yours. Forget not also that it will be<br />

your own fault if much, very much of it is not.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate <strong>Father</strong>,<br />

24 of 55


December 20th, 1848.<br />

My dear son,<br />

There is nothing which contributes so essentially <strong>to</strong> our own<br />

happiness throughout all the varied accidents and relations of<br />

life, as a peaceful and contented spirit. "A contented mind" (says<br />

an old proverb), "is a continual feast!" A celebrated writer truly<br />

observes, "The fountain of contentment springs up in the mind,<br />

and he who shows so little knowledge of human nature as <strong>to</strong> seek<br />

for happiness in changing anything but his own disposition,<br />

spends his life in fruitless efforts, and multiplies the griefs he<br />

purposes <strong>to</strong> remove."<br />

There are various sentences of a similar import, scattered<br />

throughout the works of poets and philosophers, and however<br />

few may be able <strong>from</strong> habit or temperament <strong>to</strong> achieve the<br />

blessing—it is on all hands admitted, that true happiness rests in the<br />

mind and disposition of the man—and not in his outward<br />

circumstances. It is by no means intended by this <strong>to</strong> discourage<br />

proper exertions, or a vigorous pursuit of suitable and<br />

praiseworthy objects of ambition. While we daily strive <strong>to</strong><br />

improve our minds, and render ourselves worthier members of<br />

society—we may still be happy and contented with our present<br />

lot, and not vainly repine at the apparent wealth and prosperity<br />

of those who may seem <strong>to</strong> enjoy superior advantages <strong>to</strong><br />

ourselves.<br />

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Nothing is more unpleasant than <strong>to</strong> hear young people perpetually<br />

wishing for some enjoyment, not reasonably within their reach—and<br />

undervaluing the comforts and blessings they possess.<br />

You will hear (at least I have often heard), a youth say, "Oh! I do<br />

not like this place, it is so dull! I wish I was in London, or at<br />

home, or in Hampshire! Or, "How I dislike this walk, and how I<br />

wish we had gone another way. How sorry I am we are traveling<br />

by rail—the steam vessel on the open sea would have been so<br />

delightful" and so forth. There is no harm in you expressing your<br />

reasonable wishes beforehand, but when once they are overruled<br />

by your parents, think no more of your past longings, but<br />

cheerfully make the best of what you have. This disposition will<br />

give your friends a great desire <strong>to</strong> oblige you whenever they can<br />

properly do so, and will besides render you happy under all<br />

circumstances, and throughout any and every change of fortune.<br />

By imagining we dislike this thing and the other thing—we come<br />

<strong>to</strong> do so in reality. We are unhappy, not because of anything<br />

unpleasant which has occurred <strong>to</strong> us, but because of our own<br />

wayward whims and caprices. The power of the mind over<br />

external circumstances, is underestimated.<br />

An even temper and frame of mind also teaches us <strong>to</strong> bear with<br />

the disappointments and misfortunes, of which we are sure <strong>to</strong><br />

have our share, and not <strong>to</strong> place <strong>to</strong>o great reliance on the delight<br />

<strong>to</strong> be experienced in grasping the objects of our ambition.<br />

An eminent philosopher (in speaking of the way in which a wise<br />

man views the struggles and turmoils which attend the life of the<br />

<strong>to</strong>o restless and ambitious) observes, "The temple of wisdom is<br />

26 of 55

seated upon a rock, above the rage of the fighting elements, and<br />

inaccessible <strong>to</strong> all the malice of man. The rolling thunder breaks<br />

below, and those more terrible instruments of human fury reach<br />

not <strong>to</strong> so sublime a height." "The contented mind, while he<br />

breathes that serene air, looks down with compassion on the<br />

errors of mistaken mortals, who blindly seek for the true path of<br />

life, and pursue riches, nobility, honor, and power for genuine<br />

felicity. The greater part he beholds disappointed of their fond<br />

wishes. Some lament, that having once possessed the object of<br />

their desire, it is snatched <strong>from</strong> them by envious fortune. All<br />

complain that even their own views, though granted, cannot give<br />

them happiness, or relieve the anxiety of their distracted minds."<br />

This is, perhaps, in one respect, and <strong>to</strong> a certain extent, <strong>to</strong>o true a<br />

portrait of humanity, and it is therefore I have quoted it for you,<br />

not because I agree entirely in the somewhat exaggerated picture<br />

which is drawn, nor concur in all the sentiments expressed. It is<br />

quite possible, and indeed it is quite according <strong>to</strong> the instinct of<br />

our nature, for men <strong>to</strong> pursue riches, nobility, honor and power<br />

—all of which are laudable objects—and at the same time, not <strong>to</strong><br />

place all hopes of happiness in their attainment.<br />

We must and ought <strong>to</strong> have views and prospects in the distance,<br />

urging us forward, and yielding us motives for exertion, and by<br />

preserving a serene mind and a contented spirit amid all our<br />

aspirations—we shall not feel <strong>to</strong>o elated should we reach the<br />

summit of our ambition, nor <strong>to</strong>o depressed should we fail or fall<br />

short of our wishes and expectations.<br />

In his own hands—within himself—under the control and<br />

dominion of his own reason, the contented man holds <strong>to</strong> a great<br />

27 of 55

extent the scales of his own happiness or misery. Leading a calm and<br />

virtuous life, happy with his relatives, and esteemed by his<br />

friends and connections—the s<strong>to</strong>rms of fortune and the ills of<br />

fate and humanity will blow past him without shattering his<br />

hopes, or seriously or eventually disturbing the even tenor of his<br />

mind.<br />

That this may be your lot, my dear son, is the sincere wish of<br />

your affectionate <strong>Father</strong>.<br />

28 of 55


London, January 10th, 1849<br />

My dear son,<br />

There is a Latin adage or saying that you will meet with when you<br />

are a little further advanced in the study of that language, which<br />

means that a man is known by the company he keeps. There is a<br />

similar phrase in almost all languages and countries, and the fact<br />

is, therefore, confirmed by the experience of ages, that in<br />

general one who associates with idle and worthless people, is himself of<br />

the same stamp. On the contrary, he who is always found in the<br />

society and fellowship of those who are industrious, virtuous, and<br />

honorable, in all probability partakes of the character of his<br />

companions.<br />

Let it be, therefore, your own care <strong>to</strong> select your associates, and<br />

still more especially your friends, <strong>from</strong> among those only who<br />

merit and obtain the good opinion and approbation of the<br />

holiest of men. This will not only procure for you a like good<br />

opinion and approval, but it will be one step <strong>to</strong>wards your<br />

deserving it. The perpetual example of holy people before our<br />

eyes, their conversation and advice, is of the greatest use <strong>to</strong> us<br />

when we are young; while the language and conduct of the evilminded<br />

and dissolute are apt <strong>to</strong> corrupt even the best<br />

disposition, and <strong>to</strong> undermine the yet unfixed principles of<br />

childhood, especially if accompanied, as is sometimes the case,<br />

by superior, though perverted natural abilities.<br />

In making choice of companions it is generally best for us <strong>to</strong> select<br />

those having similar tastes and dispositions, and occupying<br />

29 of 55

similar stations in society <strong>to</strong> ourselves. Certainly it is not<br />

advisable for us <strong>to</strong> s<strong>to</strong>op <strong>to</strong> a circle below our own—and neither<br />

is it desirable for us anxiously <strong>to</strong> seek for associates among those<br />

whom birth or fortune has placed much above us.<br />

On the other hand, if such people as those I have last referred <strong>to</strong><br />

seek us in a proper manner, and treat us with kindness and<br />

respect, evincing no wish <strong>to</strong> show us that they consider<br />

themselves condescending <strong>to</strong> our level, and honoring us by their<br />

notice—it is not at all necessary or proper for us <strong>to</strong> shun such a<br />

connection so long as it can be continued upon equal terms and<br />

with a due regard <strong>to</strong> our own self-respect. In this, however, you<br />

must be regulated by circumstances, and, while young, by the<br />

advice of your parents and friends, who are older, and, of<br />

necessity, more acquainted with human character than yourself.<br />

The virtue and goodness of your companions are of the first<br />

importance—their rank and station in the world are but a<br />

secondary consideration. It is not well for young men <strong>to</strong> form<br />

hasty friendships, and <strong>to</strong> be first the ardent friend of one youth,<br />

and then of another, as caprice may suggest. I would advise you<br />

<strong>to</strong> be backward in encouraging these sort of temporary<br />

friendships. As it is improper <strong>to</strong> take up hot and hasty prejudices<br />

against others <strong>from</strong> slight causes, it is equally so <strong>to</strong> allow an<br />

acquaintance of a short duration <strong>to</strong> spring up on the sudden in<strong>to</strong><br />

<strong>to</strong>o close an intimacy and friendship. Such ties seldom endure<br />

long, and when broken they leave an unpleasant feeling behind<br />

them, rendering us dissatisfied with our own conduct, and with<br />

that of our temporary friend.<br />

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When, however, you have established a friendship with<br />

another, do not let a little matter divide you. As you have been slow<br />

and deliberate in forming your opinion of your friend, and have<br />

become gradually convinced of his good qualities and kind<br />

feelings, <strong>from</strong> your own observation of his character, as well as<br />

<strong>from</strong> the approbation of others—so be slow <strong>to</strong> believe he would<br />

knowingly wrong you or act an unworthy part by you.<br />

If you think you have cause <strong>to</strong> complain of him, frankly and<br />

immediately tell him of it, but never listen either <strong>to</strong> the<br />

suspicious suggestions of your own mind or the unworthy<br />

insinuations of others, nor let ill-feelings or supposed injuries,<br />

which a word of explanation might dispel—rankle in your mind<br />

until you magnify that which was originally either a mere trifle or<br />

an unintentional slight—in<strong>to</strong> an insupportable grievance and<br />

offense.<br />

Place, on all occasions, the best construction on the acts of your<br />

friend; believe that he feels <strong>to</strong>wards you as you feel <strong>to</strong>wards him;<br />

make allowances for the errors of humanity, and be ever ready <strong>to</strong><br />

overlook and forgive.<br />

On your own part, be careful <strong>to</strong> avoid giving cause of offense;<br />

study your friend's character and turn of mind, and forbear <strong>to</strong><br />

alarm his prejudices, wound his feelings, or hurt his honor. Incur<br />

as few obligations as you can, especially financial ones, and be<br />

very punctual in the repayment of the latter, should you<br />

unavoidably or accidentally be compelled <strong>to</strong> have recourse <strong>to</strong><br />

your friend's purse.<br />

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Be willing <strong>to</strong> yield your plans and wishes <strong>to</strong> his, in your little<br />

pursuits—and, in the end, you will meet with a like delicacy and<br />

forbearance <strong>from</strong> him in return. You will thus mutually consult<br />

each other's wishes, and be what friends ought <strong>to</strong> be <strong>to</strong> one<br />

another—kind, considerate, and obliging.<br />

It is not often, however, that such friendships continue;<br />

circumstances break them off, and different engagements and<br />

undertakings sever us <strong>from</strong> our early associates. In some few<br />

instances they last as long as we live, and that is generally a proof<br />

that the friendship has been advisedly formed and sustained<br />

throughout the vicissitudes of life by the good conduct and high<br />

principles of the parties. Should you have the happiness <strong>to</strong> secure<br />

and retain more than one such friend, you will be more fortunate<br />

or more prudent than the majority of mankind.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate <strong>Father</strong><br />

32 of 55


London, January 20th, 1849.<br />

My dear son,<br />

Manners, it has been said, make the man. This, however, is not<br />

al<strong>to</strong>gether so, because there are people who, <strong>from</strong> birth, habit,<br />

and a constant interaction with good society, possess the most<br />

unexceptionable manners—but nothing else. Such people, you<br />

must understand, would, in all probability, have been unbearable<br />

but for this advantage; and, if good manners make men, without<br />

natural good sense and ability pass current in the world—then<br />

how persuasive and engaging must be their effect when added <strong>to</strong><br />

a well-regulated mind and superior attainments and talents!<br />

Some people of vigorous intellects are apt <strong>to</strong> adopt a roughness<br />

of demeanor, showing their contempt for what they term a<br />

mincing gentility. Affectation of all sorts, whether of plainness or<br />

the reverse, is <strong>to</strong> be shunned. There is, nevertheless, a happy<br />

medium—that of being neither <strong>to</strong>o plausible and silky on the one<br />

hand, nor <strong>to</strong>o blunt and direct on the other hand—which it<br />

should be the study of every man of sense <strong>to</strong> attain. Indeed, it<br />

needs not much study <strong>to</strong> acquire such a manner, because the first<br />

step <strong>to</strong>wards it is the entire absence of all pretense and affectation<br />

<strong>from</strong> the mind, and the rejection of everything like foolery and<br />

foppery on the one hand—or rudeness and slovenliness on the<br />

other—in dress, language, and appearance.<br />

Young men should never obtrude their opinions on their seniors,<br />

nor be forward in speech among those older than themselves. I<br />

saw a youth once, not above fifteen or sixteen years old, tap his<br />

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snuff-box and offer it <strong>to</strong> his father, saying, "Will you take a pinch<br />

of snuff, old boy?" I was young myself at the time, and knew the<br />

parties very well, but the words grated on my ear. There is bad<br />

taste in this; it is out of place and out of order—out of natural<br />

order and propriety. A son may, and ought <strong>to</strong> be, on perfectly<br />

easy and confidential terms with his father, but those terms should<br />

never degenerate in<strong>to</strong> a vulgar familiarity and disrespect.<br />

There is another impropriety I would draw your attention <strong>to</strong>. Do<br />

not use what are called slang terms. If you wish <strong>to</strong> joke, do so like<br />

a young gentleman, not like a chimney-sweeper or a sailor, the<br />

staple of whose witticisms consists of such crude sayings.<br />

It is not well for a youth <strong>to</strong> be always talking; he should listen,<br />

and seek <strong>to</strong> acquire information <strong>from</strong> the conversation of others,<br />

and not volunteer his own opinions unless upon proper<br />

occasions and when called upon by his friends. In due time, if he<br />

is really wise, he will be more thought of <strong>from</strong> his unobtrusive<br />

manners and deportment than if he were ever so fluent and<br />

forward of speech, and his abilities will shine with a double luster<br />

because he has not been ever ready <strong>to</strong> display them.<br />

Be always prepared <strong>to</strong> give up any favorite seat <strong>to</strong> another, and<br />

especially <strong>to</strong> a lady, and endeavor <strong>to</strong> take more pleasure in<br />

presenting the means of a little passing enjoyment <strong>to</strong> a friend or<br />

companion than in hastening <strong>to</strong> gratify yourself.<br />

These things require a control over the mind, and a little selfdenial<br />

at first; but they soon not only become easy but delightful,<br />

and a much truer and more abiding sense of enjoyment than any direct<br />

personal gratification we could obtain.<br />

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In cases where you come in<strong>to</strong> contact with people many years<br />

your seniors, or of a superior station <strong>to</strong> yourself, beware how you<br />

allow any familiarity on their part <strong>to</strong> tempt you <strong>to</strong> a like<br />

familiarity in return. Observe the same rule in writing letters.<br />

Such people may call you by your first name, and may adopt a<br />

friendly and familiar style of address <strong>to</strong>wards both in speaking<br />

and writing.<br />

Do not, however, attempt the like with them. On the contrary,<br />

maintain a proper and respectful address and <strong>to</strong>ne, both in your<br />

language, writing, and manners. This will show those who may<br />

notice you your good sense and good breeding, as well as the<br />

solidity of your character. They will see that they have nothing <strong>to</strong><br />

fear <strong>from</strong> any forwardness or presumption on your part, and<br />

they will place a reliance on your disposition and conduct; while<br />

a flippant and pert behavior, and attempts at facetious jocularity,<br />

or ill-timed and vulgar pleasantry with your superiors—will only<br />

cause you <strong>to</strong> be set down as a shallow fellow, unworthy of further<br />

notice or respect.<br />

When you are conversing with others of your own age and<br />

station, do not be continually speaking of yourself and of your own<br />

sayings and doings. This is called egotism, and is vulgar and<br />

ungentlemanly, besides being a bore <strong>to</strong> your companions. Let<br />

your talk be of matters of general interest, and be a patient and<br />

attentive listener <strong>to</strong> others. Most people are fond of hearing<br />

themselves talk, especially the young, and every one likes a good<br />

listener.<br />

In short, a gentleman's manners should be a type and mirror of<br />

his mind. The mind should be industrious, virtuous, and<br />

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eflective. The manners should be quiet, unobtrusive, and gentle;<br />

then there would be a goodly picture, set in a bright frame, each<br />

worthy of the other. With such qualities you could make no<br />

enemies, and would be beloved and appreciated by your parents<br />

and friends, not only for your sterling good qualities, but for the<br />

mildness and forbearance of your disposition, and the entire<br />

absence <strong>from</strong> all pretension, conceit, and display in your<br />

manners.<br />

Bear these things in mind—they are worth your reflection; all this<br />

you may be, if you please. You have the materials, the result<br />

remains with yourself.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate <strong>Father</strong><br />

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London, February 2nd, 1849.<br />

My dear son,<br />

There is no quality which is more immediately important <strong>to</strong><br />

ourselves, nor more essential <strong>to</strong> our own interests and <strong>to</strong> the safe<br />

conduct of our affairs, whether of business or pleasure,<br />

than prudence. It is that effort or suggestion of the mind which<br />

teaches us . . .<br />

<strong>to</strong> avoid all extremes,<br />

<strong>to</strong> shun unnecessary risks,<br />

<strong>to</strong> suppress sinful expressions and emotions,<br />

<strong>to</strong> think before we speak,<br />

<strong>to</strong> forbear hasty assertions which it may not be easy for us <strong>to</strong><br />

support—and rash promises which we may find it difficult <strong>to</strong><br />

perform;<br />

and, above all, not <strong>to</strong> place reliance on exaggerated statements of<br />

the supposed advantages <strong>to</strong> be derived <strong>from</strong> enterprises which<br />

the ill-founded enthusiasm of others may urge on our attention;<br />

but rather, with judgment and caution, <strong>to</strong> confine our<br />

transactions and regulate our views by the experience of the past,<br />

than by wild and groundless expectations as <strong>to</strong> the future.<br />

It is, therefore, that a prudent person is neither convinced nor<br />

attracted by accounts of wonderful cures, of strange sights, of<br />

surprising bargains, of splendid investments, of capital<br />

inventions, of shortcuts <strong>to</strong> fortune and opulence; nor by any of<br />

the other high flown announcements which, as you know, fill up<br />

the newspapers of the present day.<br />

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In our business affairs and in the outlay and investment of our<br />

money and property, there can be no great or unusual measure<br />

of gain without a proportionate risk of loss, and the prudent man<br />

is, therefore, content with such moderate profits and advantages as he<br />

can enjoy with safety. Hence it is that all games of chance where<br />

money is risked, often <strong>to</strong> a considerable amount, which is<br />

called gambling; all betting, lotteries, and raffles; all extensive<br />

and dangerous speculations and such like follies; and uncertain and<br />

hazardous adventures—are always avoided by prudent and<br />

discreet people.<br />

There are three leading directions or guides <strong>to</strong> be observed by a<br />

man who desires <strong>to</strong> do well in the world.<br />

First, by industry, perseverance, and frugality—<strong>to</strong> enable himself<br />

<strong>to</strong> spend less money than he earns.<br />

Next, <strong>to</strong> be able firmly and resolutely <strong>to</strong> say NO <strong>to</strong> those who,<br />

discovering his habits, desire <strong>to</strong> partake of the fruits of his<br />

industry without any labor of their own.<br />

And, third, safely and securely <strong>to</strong> invest in solid and available<br />

security, the surplus money which he has so earned and saved.<br />

In other words,<br />

1. live within your means;<br />

2. do not listen <strong>to</strong> borrowers;<br />

3. be very careful what you do with your savings. Shakespeare<br />

says:<br />

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"Neither a borrower nor a lender be,<br />

For loans often lose both itself and friend,<br />

And borrowing dulls the edge of industry."<br />

You will hear people say how riches are <strong>to</strong> be despised, that good<br />

men ought <strong>to</strong> set their hearts on things of more importance, and<br />

a great deal of apparently very good morality of a like nature.<br />

There is a vast deal of truth in all this. Yet I never yet happened <strong>to</strong><br />

meet with the man who really despised riches. Property, honestly<br />

and honorably acquired, is a credit; and the proper use of wealth<br />

entitles its owner <strong>to</strong> consideration and respect, and he receives it.<br />

You are not <strong>to</strong> make the acquisition of riches your sole or greatest<br />

object in life. No one praises a miser or a greedy and stingy person.<br />

That is the extreme on the one hand, as profligacy and idle<br />

extravagance is on the other. Good sense points <strong>to</strong> a happy<br />

medium.<br />

Prudence also regulates our labors with reference <strong>to</strong> our health—<br />

invites us <strong>to</strong> take proper air and exercise, prevents the<br />

unrestrained indulgence of our appetites, and recommends <strong>to</strong> us<br />

early rising and the avoidance of late hours, and unnatural and<br />

harmful excitement.<br />

In forming new friendships, and especially such as are likely <strong>to</strong> be<br />

of a permanent character, it is requisite for us <strong>to</strong> be very prudent.<br />

We should satisfy ourselves fully of the character of an associate,<br />

that it is suitable <strong>to</strong> our own, and that there are no circumstances<br />

attending the disposition, connections, or prospects of the party<br />

which render it likely that at some future day we may have cause<br />

<strong>to</strong> regret our engagement. This is particularly applicable as well<br />

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<strong>to</strong> those early friendships of which I have spoken <strong>to</strong> you in a<br />

former letter, as <strong>to</strong> nearer ties, respecting which I shall have<br />

something <strong>to</strong> say <strong>to</strong> you at a future day.<br />

Prudence, likewise, should regulate our expenses. Before we incur<br />

debts or purchase articles either for use or amusement, we<br />

should reckon up our means of paying for them. You cannot<br />

begin <strong>to</strong>o early <strong>to</strong> appreciate the value of money and <strong>to</strong> be<br />

careful and discreet in its use and application. This moral virtue of<br />

prudence, indeed, is the helm or rudder by which we ought <strong>to</strong><br />

steer the vessel of our fortunes throughout our lives.<br />

It may be that our sails may be <strong>to</strong>rn, that seas of troubled waters<br />

may surround us, or in other words we may be overtaken by<br />

temporary misfortunes and the loss of our friends and relatives;<br />

but if we hold fast by this rudder of prudence, we shall not sink<br />

nor be overcome by the tempest—but finally be enabled <strong>to</strong> guide<br />

ourselves <strong>to</strong> the end of the voyage of life with credit and<br />

respectability.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate <strong>Father</strong>,<br />

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HEALTH<br />

London, February 20th, 1849.<br />

My dear son,<br />

I am desirous of saying a few words <strong>to</strong> you on that which you<br />

ought not <strong>to</strong> neglect—that is, your health. Young men are apt <strong>to</strong><br />

think that the elasticity of nerve, and the high spirits and vivid<br />

impressions they enjoy and receive when young, will never fail<br />

them. The advice of their seniors they discredit or pay no<br />

attention <strong>to</strong>, and <strong>to</strong>o often think, in their own minds, that it will<br />

be time enough <strong>to</strong> use care and precaution when ill health arrives<br />

in earnest, which they consider will be a far distant day with<br />

them.<br />

Much of the reasoning, however, which applies <strong>to</strong> the moral<br />

character, also applies <strong>to</strong> the health. If we waste our strength, and<br />

induce bad habits of body when young—they comes upon us<br />

when we grow older. The way <strong>to</strong> enjoy good health is <strong>to</strong> conserve<br />

our resources, <strong>to</strong> be careful of our strength and attend <strong>to</strong> all our<br />

little ailments in due time, and not <strong>to</strong> over-tax nature by <strong>to</strong>o<br />

violent exertions either of mind or body.<br />

It is said a man must be either a fool or a physician before forty<br />

years old. That is, he must, if wise at all, have been forced <strong>to</strong><br />

acquire some knowledge of health. Unfortunately, the fact is that<br />

many men the reverse of fools never become aware that they<br />

have a physical system, liable <strong>to</strong> be diseased, until they are struck<br />

down hopelessly by the consequences of their own imprudence!<br />

As I have mentioned <strong>to</strong> you in a former letter, early rising is of<br />

great importance. The natural hour for men <strong>to</strong> rise is no doubt<br />

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with the sun. All nature is awake as soon as the east is illumined<br />

by its approach. The birds begin <strong>to</strong> sing and feed, the fish <strong>to</strong> seek<br />

the surface of the rivulet, the flowers <strong>to</strong> unfold their blossoms <strong>to</strong><br />

its rays, and the lowing herd <strong>to</strong> crop the fresh pasture on which<br />

the drops of the morning dew sparkle with the light <strong>from</strong><br />

Heaven.<br />

Man alone in crowded cities remains pent up in his heated<br />

chamber, wasting the brightest hour of his existence in useless<br />

and unhealthy slumber. As society is constituted, however, we<br />

cannot well imitate the lower animals; still we may as nearly obey<br />

the obvious dictates of nature as possible.<br />

With this view we should retire early <strong>to</strong> rest. Avoid, as I have said<br />

before, over-heated rooms, late hours, and exciting society.<br />

The head is always clearest in the morning, and one hour at that<br />

time of the day is worth two at a more advanced period, especially at<br />

night.<br />

You should attend also <strong>to</strong> your diet, and the regularity of your<br />

habits. These, while you are at school, will be for the most part<br />

regulated by your teachers, but afterwards, as you become a<br />

young man, you will be left <strong>to</strong> your own guidance. You cannot<br />

successfully study with ill health. A fresh and vigorous mind is<br />

not compatible with a disordered frame. There may be<br />

exceptions, but that is the rule; and it is of the greatest<br />

importance <strong>to</strong> a godly man <strong>to</strong> shun all excess, <strong>to</strong> be temperate in<br />

his habits, and <strong>to</strong> keep his mind free <strong>from</strong> that species of feverish<br />

and nervous excitement which is created by what young men are<br />

apt <strong>to</strong> consider as more than a reasonable share of the pleasures<br />

that surround them.<br />

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All of life is before you, and, therefore, be not in haste <strong>to</strong><br />

anticipate its enjoyments. Some young men I have known, at<br />

twenty years of age, who could find no pleasure in anything.<br />

They had seen so much amusement, and had courted<br />

unwholesome excitement <strong>to</strong> such an extent, that the society of<br />

their friends and relatives filled them with ennui (boredom).<br />

They were old in the ways of the world, and wearied with all it<br />

had <strong>to</strong> offer <strong>to</strong> them, before they had arrived at the years of<br />

discretion.<br />

Take, therefore, your amusements with great moderation, and of<br />

these you will find the simple and natural amusements will last<br />

you the longest. Riding on horseback occasionally, a little fishing,<br />

and a moderate indulgence in such field sports as come within<br />

your reach, without sacrificing more important objects; these,<br />

and such like, are the best and most healthful exercises for a<br />

godly man. They lead <strong>to</strong> the enjoyment of natural scenes, the<br />

inhaling of fresh air, and the expansion of the bodily powers,<br />

which are <strong>to</strong>o often allowed <strong>to</strong> lie dormant, until the mind<br />

becomes injured by an undue and disproportionate exercise of<br />

its faculties.<br />

Be particularly careful <strong>to</strong> avoid all harmful habits, such as smoking,<br />

snuffing, etc. In a young man they are especially disgusting. As <strong>to</strong><br />

wine, in our home, as you know, you never saw a gentleman<br />

tipsy, and I do not know that you ever heard of such a thing<br />

among your friends as one of them taking wine <strong>to</strong> excess at table.<br />

It is al<strong>to</strong>gether so debasing a habit, so unlike a gentleman, and so<br />

unworthy of one who claims <strong>to</strong> possess a refined mind and a<br />

cultivated intellect, that it is, I am sure, quite unnecessary for me<br />

<strong>to</strong> say a word more <strong>to</strong> you on that head.<br />

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One great conducive <strong>to</strong> health is cleanliness; use plenty of water,<br />

especially in the morning. In this respect you have had many<br />

early lessons, and have been daily <strong>to</strong>ld of the importance and<br />

absolute necessity of keeping the surface of your skin perfectly<br />

clean, and the pores of your body open and free. Attend <strong>to</strong> your<br />

feet so as <strong>to</strong> keep them always dry. Wear strong and well-made<br />

shoes which fit you well, and never sacrifice your health and<br />

comfort <strong>to</strong> fashions and finery. Change whenever you get wet,<br />

and when you find that your feet feel cold and damp, you may be<br />

certain that your general health needs attention.<br />

In a few words, by attending <strong>to</strong> the old and homely saying,<br />

namely, keep your head cool, your feet warm, and your digestion<br />

open, you will take the best and safest means <strong>to</strong> retain your<br />

health and preserve your constitution <strong>from</strong> disease.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate father<br />


London, March 12th, 1849.<br />

My dear son,<br />

Your observation <strong>to</strong> me a short time ago, about Sir Robert Peel,<br />

shows me that you have some notion of the matter about which I<br />

am now going <strong>to</strong> say a few words <strong>to</strong> you. The subject is, perhaps,<br />

a little premature; that is, your mind is scarcely yet prepared for<br />

it. Though you will, I know, perfectly understand me, yet you<br />

may treat and consider this letter as one which will be both more<br />

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intelligible and more useful <strong>to</strong> you a few years hence than at this<br />

time. It is about politics that I intend now addressing you.<br />

The word politics is derived <strong>from</strong> a Greek noun, politikos, which<br />

means a statesman. What we now commonly understand by<br />

politics is the science of public government, that is <strong>to</strong> say, the<br />

rules and principles by which a kingdom or community is<br />

conducted and governed, and which regulate not only the<br />

management of the people within its own immediate realm or<br />

jurisdiction, but also its conduct <strong>to</strong>wards neighboring kingdoms<br />

or communities.<br />

On so intricate and comprehensive a subject as the good<br />

government of large multitudes of people there will be, of<br />

course, differences of opinion among able men. It is impossible<br />

for human institutions <strong>to</strong> declare general rules that shall fit every<br />

case that may arise, or that may not sometimes press hardly in<br />

individual instances. No form of government or code of laws can<br />

be so absolutely perfect, but that some cases will occur where it<br />

would be well if the strictness of the general rule could be<br />

relaxed. All that can be done, is <strong>to</strong> adjust and adapt general<br />

principles, as nearly as practical, <strong>to</strong> the exigencies of the people<br />

and their affairs, and <strong>to</strong> proceed according <strong>to</strong> the dictates of<br />

experience and the result of patient inquiry and observation.<br />

In England there were, when I was a young man, two great<br />

political parties, the one called the Tories, and the other<br />

the Whigs.<br />

The Tories were supposed <strong>to</strong> be upholders of the Crown—that is,<br />

of the King or Queen—enemies <strong>to</strong> innovation, and tenacious of<br />

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giving way <strong>to</strong> the voice of populace; hence they were looked<br />

upon formerly as partisans of the house of Stewart (about which<br />

you have read in the his<strong>to</strong>ry of England), being opposed <strong>to</strong> any<br />

interference with the direct and hereditary line of succession <strong>to</strong><br />

the throne.<br />

The Whigs, on the contrary, it was considered, <strong>to</strong>ok the part of<br />

the people, were opposed <strong>to</strong> the extension of the power and<br />

prerogatives of the Crown beyond certain limits, and were<br />

friends <strong>to</strong> the Protestant line of princes who succeeded the<br />

Stewarts.<br />

I give it you, however, as my humble opinion, that these were <strong>to</strong>o<br />

frequently distinctions in name merely. In most instances the<br />

contest between Tory and Whig was for power—that is, which<br />

party was <strong>to</strong> govern the country. As an able writer observes, "the<br />

animosity between the factions had no better foundation than<br />

narrow prejudice or party passion."<br />

At the present day the pretensions of the family of Stewart have<br />

long ceased, and all question as <strong>to</strong> a Protestant or Catholic line of<br />

princes been put an end <strong>to</strong>, and the present royal family firmly<br />

seated on the throne.<br />

In modern times, moreover, political questions are conducted<br />

with more moderation, and, it is <strong>to</strong> be hoped, with less factious<br />

views and more unselfish patriotism. The superior men on each<br />

side, for the most part, deserve well of their country. Look upon a<br />

man who vehemently decries either party, as unworthy of your<br />

confidence. These kind of men say particularly bitter and spiteful<br />

things about men whose politics they disliked.<br />

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What I wish you <strong>to</strong> understand, is that people of both parties are<br />

often wise and good men, having the interests of their country at<br />

heart, and that they only differ in the mode of accomplishing<br />

their object.<br />

If you live and associate much with the world, you will hear<br />

people in private life, who have not only had no adequate means<br />

of becoming acquainted with political affairs, but who have never<br />

been able even <strong>to</strong> manage their own affairs so as <strong>to</strong> place<br />

themselves and their families in a <strong>to</strong>lerably comfortable position,<br />

declaim most loudly against the one or the other of these parties.<br />

Such people will tell you how they would have had matters<br />

managed. These very declaimers, however—you will often find <strong>to</strong><br />

be people in bad credit, speculating beyond their means in<br />

unprofitable merchandise, keeping confused and irregular<br />

accounts, and carrying on their business with small gain, and in<br />

some cases at a loss.<br />

Nevertheless, according <strong>to</strong> their own views, they can point out<br />

with great clearness, how this great populous and commercial<br />

country . . .<br />

should be governed,<br />

can regulate its currency,<br />

revise its taxes,<br />

and amend its laws.<br />

You will readily see and understand how extremely absurd all<br />

such pretensions are.<br />

Politics, like everything else of any moment <strong>to</strong> be unders<strong>to</strong>od,<br />

must be pursued and studied for many years. A man, <strong>to</strong> form any<br />

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very useful opinion on political subjects, ought <strong>to</strong> be, in the first<br />

place, a calm thinking and considerate man, of a quiet and<br />

reflective turn of mind; and, in general, he must have arrived at<br />

years of maturity before he can or ought <strong>to</strong> offer any decided<br />

opinion.<br />

It is admitted on all hands, that <strong>to</strong> know the law, we must study it;<br />

that <strong>to</strong> make a watch, we must learn the trade <strong>from</strong> a craftsman. I<br />

have <strong>to</strong>ld you that you cannot hope <strong>to</strong> perform such<br />

comparatively trifling feats as <strong>to</strong> capture a trout with an artificial<br />

fly; or shoot down a woodcock on the wing—without several<br />

years' practice and experience.<br />

Whenever, then, you hear anyone offering confident and high<br />

sounding opinions about public Government, always in your own<br />

mind doubt the solidity and value of his conclusions.<br />

At the same time, however, that I ask you <strong>to</strong> view party<br />

discussions and differences, and extreme and violent opinions on<br />

such subjects in their true light. I recommend that you not be<br />

carried away by a foolish enthusiasm.<br />

I do not wish <strong>to</strong> advise you not <strong>to</strong> belong <strong>to</strong> a party. If you follow<br />

the profession of law, it will be necessary and proper that you<br />

should do so. In determining what party you will adhere <strong>to</strong>, act<br />

upon principle and not on any imagined expediency.<br />

Some young men on arriving at that period of life when it<br />

becomes proper for professional men <strong>to</strong> belong <strong>to</strong> one or other<br />

of the parties in their country, are governed by chance, or by what<br />

they imagine will be for their interest, rather than by a clear and<br />

educated choice of their own. If they, for instance, find the Whigs<br />

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in power, they elect <strong>to</strong> belong <strong>to</strong> that party because that is the<br />

then prevalent one, and likely as they think <strong>to</strong> be beneficial <strong>to</strong><br />

them in the way of promotion and emolument. This is the<br />

decision of little minds, and of short-sighted and unreflecting<br />

people.<br />

In the first place, the tenure of power by one party or another is<br />

often short-lived; and if it were of ever so long duration, no man<br />

should sacrifice his principles <strong>to</strong>, nor allow his mind <strong>to</strong> be<br />

influenced solely by, sordid views and prospects. The result of<br />

such conduct frequently is that, in more advanced years when<br />

the mind becomes riper and the information of the individual<br />

more extensive, he finds himself placed among people with<br />

whom he has no common sympathies, regrets his early and <strong>to</strong>o<br />

hasty decisions, and would gladly change sides when it is no<br />

longer consistently in his power <strong>to</strong> do so; and he may then even<br />

have the mortification of finding the very party in power of<br />

whose principles and proceedings his maturer judgment<br />

approves, but of whose influence and protection it is then <strong>to</strong>o late<br />

for him <strong>to</strong> avail himself.<br />

Whatever decision you may come <strong>to</strong>, however, do it carefully and<br />

upon reflection; and having once made up your mind, never<br />

change—stick by your party, not by its errors—but stick by it as a<br />

party, and look up <strong>to</strong> some great and wise man as your chief<br />

example and guide.<br />

As society is now constituted, a lawyer must belong <strong>to</strong> a party. I<br />

am sorry for it. It is much <strong>to</strong> be regretted that high offices in the<br />

law are given away more with reference <strong>to</strong> the use a lawyer is of<br />

<strong>to</strong> his party, than his fitness for the position <strong>to</strong> which he aspires.<br />

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So it is, however, and you and I cannot alter that state of things,<br />

nor is it likely <strong>to</strong> be altered in our time.<br />

Whatever party you may espouse, always treat your opponents<br />

with kindness and candor. Believe that their views may be<br />

sincere, though widely different <strong>from</strong> your own; recollect that<br />

humanity is fallible and prone <strong>to</strong> error and mistake, and that you<br />

may be the one in the wrong. Be not, therefore, a violent<br />

propounder of your own views, nor vehement denouncer of the<br />

views of others. Moderate in your opinions, temperate in your<br />

language, and courteous in your demeanor—you will win golden<br />

opinions <strong>from</strong> all sides. You may, like an amiable and estimable<br />

judge and excellent lawyer now on the bench, <strong>to</strong> be promoted <strong>to</strong><br />

the highest honors of your profession by people entertaining<br />

political opinions somewhat at variance with your own.<br />

I am, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate father<br />


London, May 2nd, 1849.<br />

My dear son,<br />

It seems <strong>to</strong> me that there is no subject with which I can more<br />

properly conclude the present series of letters which I have been<br />

writing <strong>to</strong> you than that of morality. I might, perhaps, have<br />

coupled religion with it as being intimately connected; but I<br />

prefer postponing that <strong>to</strong> some future occasion, recommending<br />

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you, in the meantime, <strong>to</strong> attend <strong>to</strong> your prayers and hymns, <strong>to</strong><br />

your mother's lessons, and <strong>to</strong> the discourses of those godly men<br />

whom you have the privilege of hearing at church, both at home<br />

and at school.<br />

All the good qualities, which in my former letters I have been<br />

urging on your attention, are moral qualities. Besides these,<br />

which I may repeat—are truth, self-denial, industry, economy,<br />

friendship, contentment, perseverance, good manners, and<br />

prudence; there are, also benevolence, justice, allegiance <strong>to</strong> the<br />

government under which you dwell, filial love and duty, affection<br />

for your relatives, respect for your superiors, fidelity, chastity,<br />

gratitude, patience, fortitude, and judgment.<br />

I believe these <strong>to</strong> be the principal virtues. There are many other<br />

moral qualities of great importance, but I think you will find that<br />

most of them may be classed under one or other of the foregoing<br />

heads. Temperance and moderation for instance, would come<br />

under the heads of prudence or self-denial. Humanity,<br />

generosity, and even tenderness might be included in<br />

benevolence; and so on with the rest of the catalogue of human<br />

virtues.<br />

All these moral qualities have been defined in general terms, as<br />

those qualities in man which are either useful or agreeable <strong>to</strong> the<br />

person himself, or <strong>to</strong> others. It seems <strong>to</strong> me, however, so clear<br />

that all qualities in us, which are useful or agreeable <strong>to</strong> others, are<br />

also useful and agreeable <strong>to</strong> ourselves; that this definition might<br />

very well be confined, for anything I can see <strong>to</strong> the contrary, <strong>to</strong><br />

qualities useful or agreeable <strong>to</strong> the person himself.<br />

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Indeed, if a man reflects for a moment on what has happened <strong>to</strong><br />

him within his own experience—if he uses the reasoning faculties<br />

which God has given him, he must feel as<strong>to</strong>nished at the folly<br />

and absurdity of those who, by the practice of falsehood and<br />

idleness, by ingratitude, selfish indulgences and rudeness of<br />

demeanor, become at once unhappy in their own minds and the<br />

object of contempt and dislike <strong>to</strong> others.<br />

Considering morality, then, in a merely selfish point of view—<br />

reflecting on what it is certain must be best for ourselves—most<br />

for own advantage, comfort, and happiness, our course is clear. It<br />

appears as<strong>to</strong>nishing that any individual of common capacity and<br />

observation and with ordinary means of instruction, should ever<br />

mistake it.<br />

The pursuit of virtue and the possession of these moral qualities,<br />

increase our capacity and enlarge the field of our enjoyments.<br />

Whereas, immorality deprives its possessor of every blessing of<br />

which humanity is susceptible. The results of immorality and vice are<br />

pain, melancholy, disgrace, loneliness, discontent, disease, and even<br />

death! The practice of morality improves the temperament,<br />

eminently qualifies a man for the society of his fellow creatures,<br />

advances his fortunes in the world, and, in case of unforeseen<br />

adversity, enables him <strong>to</strong> bear with the ills incidental <strong>to</strong><br />

humanity. By the cheerfulness of his temper and the greatness of<br />

his mind, he will rise superior <strong>to</strong> every difficulty. This is part of<br />

the framework and construction of man. It is a self-adjusting<br />

principle fixed in his nature—-it is one of the guides given him<br />

for his conduct, and a very intelligible and plain and<br />

unmistakable guide it is.<br />

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The conscience of a man tell him what is right and what is wrong;<br />

if he neglects these moni<strong>to</strong>rs, and, notwithstanding their<br />

warning, persists in error—the consequences of his conduct are<br />

not slow in appearing. Every wrong committed, sooner or later,<br />

often in this world, brings its own punishment and its train of ill<br />

consequence <strong>to</strong> the wrong-doer. We have thus both <strong>from</strong> our<br />

own inward dictates and the result of our actions, a plain and<br />

direct intimation of what we have <strong>to</strong> expect <strong>from</strong> a continuance<br />

in evil ways. How then can anyone but a fool remain wicked, or,<br />

indeed, ever depart <strong>from</strong> the pleasant paths of truth, virtue, and<br />

morality—<strong>to</strong> seek the dark, crooked and unhappy ways of<br />

immorality, dishonesty, and vice.<br />

There are many interesting works on moral virtues, which, when<br />

you are older, it will be both instructive and entertaining for you<br />

<strong>to</strong> have recourse <strong>to</strong>. You will find in them discussions as <strong>to</strong><br />

whether the principles of morality are the result of sentiment, or<br />

are <strong>to</strong> be deduced <strong>from</strong> our reason and judgment, and various<br />

other arguments and disputations, which the elegance of the<br />

language employed and the ingenuity of the suggestions and<br />

theories by which they are supported—render well worthy the<br />

attention of the scholar.<br />

In this, and in the preceding letters which I have addressed <strong>to</strong><br />

you, however, I have confined myself <strong>to</strong> practical lessons, and while<br />

I have endeavored <strong>to</strong> put those lessons in<strong>to</strong> language which you<br />

cannot fail <strong>to</strong> understand at present, it has also been my wish <strong>to</strong><br />

afford you instruction and advice which may be of use <strong>to</strong> you at a<br />

more advanced period, and, indeed, as long as you live.<br />

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Do not, therefore, throw my letters on one side as if they were<br />

only intended for you <strong>to</strong> read as a boy; but keep them beside you,<br />

and refer <strong>to</strong> them as you grow older. If they have the effect upon<br />

your mind which they ought <strong>to</strong> have as coming <strong>from</strong> your father,<br />

and written entirely for your own benefit and improvement—<br />

then they will render you attentive <strong>to</strong> my words and grateful for<br />

my precepts, and myself happy in my son!<br />

Believe me, my dear son,<br />

Your affectionate father<br />

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