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IN pursuance of our promise in our number for the last
, communicated to us from Charleston.
We will no longer detain the reader from the pleasure of perusing an essay, which combines sound wisdom with elegance and perspicuity of style ; and which proves how sweet are the words of truth, when breathed from the lips of love. We must, however, add, that the miscreant, who can read the few closing periods of the following essay, without shedding a tear, richly deserves, that pity may never sooth him with a sigh, nor ever pleasure glad his cruel heart.
Quid munus reipublicæ majus, aut melius afferre possumus, quam si juventutem bene erudiamus."
Stedfast, and true, to virtue's sacred laws,
When the misconduct of another becomes the subject of conversation, how frequently is it remarked," he has been ill advised !”—And truly, if the failures and misfortunes, which most commonly occur, be closely examined, they will be found to have originated more in the want of determina
tion in mankind to act for themselves, than in any radical error in their own thoughts.
I am led to this reflection by a circumstance, which happened at the last meeting of our society. Soon after we had assembled, when Mr. Lively had just concluded an eloquent recital of the fashionable news of the day, Trusty brought into the club-room a letter addressed to “ The Archer," which, he informed us, was given him at the door, by, a welldressed young gentleman, whose countenance, as we collcted from Trusty's account, bore evident marks of agitation; and who left word, that he would call, next evening, at the same hour, for an answer.-The letter was immediately read, as follows:
« MR. ARCHER, “ You have declared your intention of exerting your talents to contribute to the happines of this community. I, therefore, make no apology for this application. From some unfortunate circumstances, the mention of which might gratify curiosity, but could not possibly produce any good, I am, at this moment, on the brink of a precipice, which threatens me with immediate destruction. I have pledged the word of a gentleman, that I will meet my old school-fellow, within three days from this time, in, what the world calls, an honourable way. In three day's time, I am bound, by the tyranny of custom, and the barbarous laws of false honour, to present a pistol to the breast of my best friend. My soul revolts at the dreadful idea. My conscience tells me, in language too plain to be mistaken, that I am verging on the crime of murder. But the eyes of the world are fastened up
My friends are eager to mark my conduct. The phantom Shame stalks before me, and shews me the word coward branded in her forehead! The finger of scorn is ready to point at me, as I pass along.-Oh, then! confirm me with your advice. The principles of religion are yet alive in my breast. The flame of virtue is smothered, but not extinct. Oh, strengthen me with the lessons of your experience !-Is not the favour of Heaven of more importance than the opinion of the world? - What reproaches ought I to fear but
those of a wounded conscience?-What frowns but those of an offended God?-Speak to me in the words of truth, in the language of authority, and I pledge myself to obey.
“ EUGENIO." It was agreed, that I should meet the writer of this letter in the manner he requested ; and oh, that I could communicate the happiness I now feel, at the recollection, that, under the direction of Providence, I have been the humble instrument of rescuing a fellow-creature from despair. I purposely abstain from the relation of particulars, which might tend to a disclosure of his name and character. It is sufficient for me to add, that he is, now, happy in the society of his friends, and enjoys the satisfaction of a virtuous triumph over the degrading and oppressive opinions of the world.
But the receipt of this letter made a deep impression upon my mind, and the reflection, which is placed at the head of this paper, sunk deep into my heart. How much is it to be lamented—I exclaimed aloud--that men will not endeavour to acquire the habit of thinking for themselves !--I saw the members of our club were disposed to give me their attention.--I do not, often, assume the orator : but I felt myself animated by the occasion. Mr. Lively observed my intention, and prepared to take down every word, which my deliberate manner of speaking enabled him to do with ease and accuracy.
A wish was expressed, that my address might be published in the next number of The Archer,'--agreeable to which it is now presented to my readers, exactly as I delivered it to our society, in the following words.
“ The high value, which the universal consent of mankind attaches to a good character, is a convincing proof of the essential beauty of virtue, and of the natural deformity of vice. No man was ever publicly honoured for being avowedly wicked, or despised merely for the exercise of goodness. And, hence, to obtain a fair reputation, men find it necessary to possess, or to assume the appearance of possesing, some portion, at least, of such qualities as are considered estimable in the eyes
of the world. “ Since it is natural that every one should wish to be respected by the society, of which he is a member, it is not to be
wondered at, that all should strive, with eagerness, to obtain a prize of so great price, which can secure to them that consequence, which is most flattering to their feelings, and offers an easy access to all the honours and rewards, which the world has the power to bestow.
“Such a desire,when the means employed for its accomplishment are virtuous, is, not only, natural, but entitled to our commendation. But, such is the genuine excellence of truth, that no consideration on earth, not all the distinctions in the gift of the world, nor the anxious wish to be esteemed among men, can, for a moment, justify him, who surrenders it. The wretch, who, under the garb of virtue conceals a meanness of spirit, and a mind polluted by the vilest passions, must be perfect, indeed, in the arts of deception, to escape the detection of every one.
And so sovereign is the indignation, that follows every attempt at imposition, that his punishment is eventually as certain, as it will be merited and unpitied, when it arrives.
“Even he, who, with no vicious intention, affects to possess those qualifications, which exalt a man in the eyes of the world, will, sooner or later, discover how unavailing are all claims unsupported by truth. The want of those endowments, of which he sighs to be the master, though it might have denied him the reputation of superior abilities, would not have rendered him less virtuous. And he will find, that the esteem, which his real merit, however small, would, undoubtedly, have secured him, will be forgotten in the miserable attempt to obtain that rank in the public opinion, to which he was not fairly entitled.
“ A little reflection would teach them both, that, instead of labouring to assume the semblance of what the world approves, it is their business to acquire the virtues, which, always, command respect ; that it is easier to be, in reality, what they wish to be considered, than to appear to be so; and that less abilities will enable them to perform a part, which is natural, than to represent a character, which is feigned, and to support which the most studied attention, and the most consistent hypocrisy are required.
“ But it would be uncharitable not to suppose, that by far the greater part of mankind are neither acting under the mask
of hypocrisy, nor endeavoring to obtain distinction by the con temptible stratagems of affectation. And, if we consider the weakness of human nature, it ought to excite less wonder than pity, that so many, with the best intentions, and the purest and most ardent desire to be respected among men, so often miss the object of their pursuit.
“ This is the more deeply to be lamented, because it arises, in a greater degree, from the failings, to which our nature is particularly liable, than from any vitiated principle or design. Men of a yielding disposition, whose minds have not been sufficiently strengthened by education, too often, mistake appearances for realities. They observe the honours, which are bestowed on him, whose character is established in the opinion of the world. Mistaking the effect for the cause, they make the public opinion their rule of action, instead of those virtuous principles, which are sure to command it; and they imagine, the reputation they are so eagerly pursuing, depends on the breath of others, when it can only be obtained by their own exertions.
“ Let him, who, surrendering the dignity of his nature, is wholly guided by the opinions of others, reflect for a moment, how seldom he obtains the real sentiments of those, to whom he applies for assistance; how often they are disguised by interest, distorted by prejudice, or guided by flattery ;-that some will withhold their advice from a diffidence of their own ability, and others from the fear of giving offence; that some will palliate the vices, and extenuate the follies, of which they know themselves to be guilty ; that some will cherish the vanity, which is so grateful to their own hearts, and others argue in defence of errors, into which they, themselves, have been betrayed.
“Admitting their sincerity, let him reflect, that some may be biassed by a fondness for their own opinions, some more in want, themselves, of a guide, than able to direct others, and all, like himself, actuated by the passions, and liable to the frailties of human nature.
difficulties to encounter, in a game, where the chances are so evidently against him, it is almost impossible, that he should succeed. I admit, that in confirming the
66 With so many