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chronical distempers. This, indeed, Mr. Town, is the principal cause of my writing to you: for it has often given me great concern to fee the prefent divifion between the young and the old; to obferve elderly men forming themfelves into clubs and focieties, that they may be more fecurely separated from youth; and to fee young men running into diffipation and debauchery, rather than affociate with age. If each party would labour to conform to the other, from fuch a coalition many advantages would accrue to both. Our youth would be inftructed by the experience of age, and lofe much of that levity, which they retain too long: while at the fame time the wrinkled brow of the aged would be fmoothed by the fprightly chearfulnefs of youth; by which they might fupply the want of fpirits, forget the lofs of old friends, and bear with ease all their worldly misfortunes. It is remarkable, that those young men are the most worthy and fenfible, who have kept up any intercourfe with the old; and that those old men are of the most chearful and amiable difpofition, who have not been afhamed to converfe with the young.
I will not pretend to decide, which party is moft blameable in neglecting this neceflary commerce with each other; which, if properly managed, would be at once fo beneficial and delightful: but it undoubtedly. arifes from a certain felfishness and obstinacy in both, which will not fuffer them to make a mutual allowance for the natural difference of their difpofitions. Their inclinations are, indeed, as different as their years; yet each expects the other to comply, though neither will make any advances. How rarely do we see the leaft degree of fociety preferved between a father and. a fon! a fhocking reflection, when we confider that nature has endeavoured to unite them by parental affection on one fide, and filial gratitude on the other. Yet a father and a fon as feldom live together with any tolerable harmony, as an husband and wife; and chiefly for the fame reafon for though they are both joined under the fame yoke, yet they are each tugging different ways. A father might as well expect his fon to be as gouty and infirm as himself, as to have the dif
pofition which he has contracted from age; and a fon might as reasonably defire the vigour and vivacity of five and twenty, as his own love of gaiety and diverfions, in his father. It is therefore evident, that a mutual endeavour to conform to each other is abfolutely requifite to keep together the cement of natural affection, which an untractable ftubbornness fo frequently diffolves; or at leaft, if it does not difturb the affection, it conftantly deftroys the fociety between father
This unhappy and unnatural divifion is often the fubject of complaint in perfons of both ages; but is ftill unremedied, becaufe neither reflect on the cause whence it proceeds. Old men are perpetually commenting on the extreme levity of the times, and blaming the young, because they do not admire and court their company, which, indeed, is no wonder, fince they generally treat their youthful companions as mere children, and expect fuch a flavish deference to their years, as deftroys that equality by which chearfulness and fociety fubfifts. Young men do not like to be chid by a proverb, or reproved by a wrinkle: but though they do not chufe to be corrected by their grave seniors like school-boys, they would be proud to confult them as friends; which the injudicious feverity of old age feldom will permit, not deigning to indulge them with fo great a degree of freedom and familiarity. Youth, on the other hand, fhun the company of age, complaining of the small regard and refpect paid to them, though they often act with fo little referve and fuch unbecoming confidence, as not to deferve it. Suppofe the old were pleased with the natural flow of fpirits and lively converfation of youth, ftill fome refpect may be challenged as due to them; nor fhould the decency and fobriety of their characters ever be infulted by any improper or immodeft converfation.
I am an old man myself, Mr. Town, and I have an only boy, whofe behaviour to me is unexceptionable : permit me, therefore, to dwell a moment longer on my favourite fubject, and I will conclude. With what harmony might all parents and children live together,
if the father would ftrive to foften the rigour of age, and remember that his fon must naturally poffefs thofe qualities, which ever accompany youth; and if the fon would in return endeavour to fuit himself to those infirmities, which his father received from old age! If they would reciprocally ftudy to be agreeable to each other, the father would infenfibly fubftitute affection in the room of authority, and lose the churlish feverity and peevishness incident to his years: while the fon would curb the unbecoming impetuofity of his youth, change his reluctance to obey into a conftant attention to please, and remit much of his extreme gaiety in conformity to the gravity of his father. Wherever fuch a turn of mind is encouraged, there must be happiness and agreeable fociety and the contrary qualities of youth and age, thus blended, compofe the fureft cement of affection; as colours of the most oppofite tints, by a fkilful mixture, each giving and receiving certain fhades, will form a picture, the most heightened and exquifite in its colouring. I am, Sir,
Your most humble Servant,
Letter of Advice to a YOUNG ACADEMIC.
the I would
not be thought to pay fo ill a compliment to your own natural good fenfe, as to fuppofe, that you will not (like many young gentlemen of fortune) in fome meafure apply yourself to study: otherwife the time you fpend there will be entirely loft; for (as Swift very justly remarks)" all ornamental parts of education are "better taught in other places." At the fame time I do not mean, that you should commence pedant, and be continually poring on a book; fince that will rather puzzle, than inform the understanding. And though I know many fprightly young gentlemen of lively and N 6
quick parts affect to defpife it altogether, it will be neceffary to learn fomething of Logic; I mean in the fame manner one would learn Fencing-not to attack others, but to defend one's felf. In a word, you will find it a great unhappiness when you return hither, if you do not bring with you fome tafte for reading: for a mere country gentleman, who can find no fociety in books, will have little elfe to do, befides following his fports, but to fit, as fquire of the company, tippling among a parcel of idle wretches, whofe understandings are nearly on a level with his dogs and horses.
It has been an established maxim, that the world will always form an opinion of perfons according to the company they are known to keep. In the University, as well as in other places, there are people, whom we ought to avoid, as we would the plague: and as it is of the utmost confequence, whether you plunge at once into extravagance and debauchery, or fink gradually into indolence and ftupidity, I fhall point out fome of thefe pefts of fociety in as few words as poffible.
The first perfon I would caution you againft, is the wretch that takes a delight to turn religion into ridicule: one who employs that fpeech, which was given him by GOD to celebrate his praife, in queftioning his very being. This, as it is impious in itfelf, is likewife the height of ill-manners. It is hoped, there are but few of them to be met with in a place of found doctrine and religious education: but wherever they are, they ought to be avoided as much as poffible; and if they will force them felves into our company, they fhould be used with the fame contempt with which they have the hard nefs to treat their maker. And this, I can affure you, may be done fafely: for I never knew any body who pretended to be above the fear of God, but was under the most terrible apprehenfions, whenever attacked by man.
The next character, whom I would advise you to fhun, is the GAMESTER, in fome refpects not unlike the former. The gaming-table is his fhrine, and fortune his deity; nor does he ever speak or think of any other, unless by way of blafphemy, oaths and curses,
when he has had a bad run at cards or dice. He has not the least notion of friendship; but would ruin his own brother, if it might be of any advantage to himfelf. He, indeed, profeffes himself your friend; but that is only with a defign to draw you in: for his trade is inconfiftent with the principles of honour or juftice, without which there can be no real friendship. It should, therefore, be the care of every gentleman, not to hold any commerce with fuch people, whofe acquaintance he cannot enjoy, without giving up his eftate.
The next perfon whom we ought to beware of, is a DRUNKARD; one that takes an unaccountable pleasure in fapping his conftitution, and drowning his understanding. He conftantly goes fenfelefs to bed, and rifes maukish in the morning; nor can he be easy in body or mind, 'till he has renewed his dofe, and again put himself beyond the reach of reflection. I would, therefore, entreat you by all means to avoid an habit, which will at once ruin your health, and impair your intellects. It is a misfortune, that fociety fhould be esteemed dull and infipid without the affiftance of the bottle to enliven it: fo that a man cannot entirely refrain from his glafs, if he keeps any company at all. But let it be remembered, that in drinking, as well as in talking, we ought always to "keep a watch over the "doors of our lips."
A Lownger is a creature, that you will often fee lolling in a coffee-house, or fauntering about the streets, with great calmness, and a moft inflexible ftupidity in his countenance. He takes as much pains as the Sot, to fly from his own thoughts; and is at length happily arrived at the highest pitch of indolence both in mind and body. He would be as inoffenfive as he is dull, if it were not that his idleness is contagious; for, like the torpedo, he is fure to benumb and take away all fenfe of feeling from every one, with whom he happens to come in contact.
It were also beft to forbear the company of a WRANGLER, or a person of a litigious temper. This fometimes arifes, not from any great share of ill-nature, but from a vain pride of shewing one's parts or skill in argumen