Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

(as every one may observe,) but easing the wearied part by change of business and he that thinks diversion may not lie in hard and painful labor, forgets the early rising, hard riding, heat, cold and hunger of huntsmen, which is yet known to be the constant recreation of men of the greatest condition. Delving, planting, inoculating, or any the like profitable employments, would be no less a diversion, than any of the idle sports in fashion, if men could but be brought to delight in them, which custom and skill in a trade will quickly bring any one to do. And I doubt not, but there are to be found those, who, being frequently called to cards, or any other play, by those they could not refuse, have been more tired with these recreations, than with any of the most serious employment of life; though the play has been such as they have naturally had no aversion to, and with which they could willingly sometimes divert themselves.

201, Play, wherein persons of condition, especially ladies, waste so much of their time, is a plain instance to me, that men can not be perfectly idle; they must be doing something. For how else could they sit so many hours toiling at that, which generally gives more vexation than delight to people, whilst they are actually engaged in it? It is certain, gaming leaves no satisfaction behind it to those who reflect when it is over, and it no way profits either body or mind : as to their estates, if it strike so deep as to concern them, it is a trade then, and not a recreation, wherein few, that have any thing else to live on, thrive: and at best, a thriving gamester has but a poor trade on it, who fills his pocket at the price of his reputation.

Recreation belongs not to people, who are strangers to business, and are not wasted and wearied with the employment of their calling. The skill should be, so to order their time of recreation, that it may relax and refresh the part that has been exercised, and is tired; and yet do something, which, besides the present delight and ease, may produce what will afterwards be profitable. It has been nothing but the vanity and pride of greatness and riches, that has brought unprofitable and dangerous pastimes (as they are called,) into fashion, and persuaded people into a belief, that the learning or putting their hands to any thing that was useful, could not be a diversion fit for a gentleman. This has been that, which has given cards, dice, and drinking, so much credit in the world: and a great many throw away their spare hours in them, through the prevalency of custom, and want of some better employment to fill up the vacancy of leisure, more than from any real delight is to be found in them. They can not bear the dead weight of unemployed time lying upon their hands, nor the uneasiness it is to do nothing at all: and having never learned any laudable manual art wherewith to divert themselves, they have recourse to those foolish, or ill ways in use, to help off their time, which a rational man, till corrupted by custom, could find very little pleasure in.


202. I say not this, that I would never have a young gentleman accommodate himself to the innocent diversions in fashion, amongst those of his age and condition. I am so far from having him austere and morose to that degree, that I would persuade him to more than ordinary complaisance for all the gaieties and diversions of those he converses with, and be averse or testy in nothing, they should desire of him, that might become a gentleman and an honest man; though as to cards and dice, I think the safest and best way is never to learn any play upon them, and so to be incapacitated for those dangerous temptations, and

encroaching wasters of useful time. But allowance being made for idle and jovial conversation, and all fashionable becoming recreations; I say, a young man will have time enough, from his serious and main business, to learn almost any trade. It is want of application, and not of leisure, that men are not skillful in more arts than one; and an hour in a day, constantly employed in such a way of diversion, will carry a man, in a short time, a great deal farther than he can imagine: which, if it were of no other use but to drive the common, vicious, useless, and dangerous pastimes out of fashion, and to show there was no need of them, would deserve to be encouraged. If men from their youth were weaned from that sauntering humor, wherein some, out of custom,

let a good part of their lives run uselessly away, without either business or . recreation, they would find time enough to acquire dexterity and skill in, hun

dreds of things, which though remote from their proper callings, would not at all interfere with them. And therefore, I think, for this, as well as other reasons before-mentioned, a lazy, listless humor, that idly dreams away the days, is of all others the least to be indulged, or permitted in young people. It is the proper state of one sick, and out of order in his health, and is tolerable in nobody else, of what age or condition soever.

203. To the arts above-mentioned, may be added perfuming, varnishing, graving, and several sorts of working in iron, brass and silver: and if

, as it happens to most young gentlemen, that a considerable part of his time be spent in a great town, he may learn to cut, polish and set precious stones, or employ himself in grinding and polishing optical glasses. Amongst the great variety there is of ingenious manual arts, it will be impossible that no one should be found to please and delight him, unless he be either idle or debauched, which is pot to be supposed in a right way of education. And since it can not be always employed in study, reading, and conversation, there will be many an hour, besides what his exercises will take up, which, if not spent this way, will be spent worse. For, I conclude, a young man will seldom desire to sit perfectly still and idle; or if he does, it is a fault that ought to be mended.

204. But if his mistaken parents, frightened with the disgraceful names of mechanic and trade, shall have an aversion to any thing of this kind in their children; yet there is one thing relating to trade, which when they consider, they will think absolutely necessary for their sons to learn.

MERCHANTS' ACCOUNTS. Merchants' accounts, though a science not likely to help a gentleman to gel an estate, yet possibly there is not any thing of more use and efficacy to make nim preserve the estate he has. It is seldom observed, that he who keeps an account of his income and expenses, and thereby has constantly under view the course of his domestic affairs, lets them run to ruin ; and I doubt not but many a man gets behind-hand before he is aware, or runs further on, when he is once in, for want of this care, or the skill to do it. I would therefore advise all gen-. tlemen to learn perfectly merchants' accounts, and not to think it is a skill that belongs not to them, because it has received its name from, and has been chiefly practiced by men of traffic.

205. When my young master has once got the skill of keeping accounts, (which is a business of reason more than arithmetic,) perhaps it will not be amiss, that his father from thenceforth require him to do it in all his concernments. Not that I would have him set down every pint of wine, or play, that costs him money; the general name of expenses will serve for such things well enough: nor would I have his father look so narrowly into these accounts, as to take occasion from thence to criticise on his expenses. He must remember, that he himself was once a young man, and not forget the thoughts he had then, nor the right liis son has to have the same, and to have allowance made for them. If, therefore, I would have the young gentleman obliged to keep an account, it is not at all to have that way a check upon his expenses, (for what the father allows him, he ought to let him be fully master of,) but only, that he might be brought early into the custom of doing it, and that it might be made familiar and habitual to him betimes, which will be so useful and necessary to be constantly practiced through the whole course of his life. A noble Vene.' tian, whose son wallowed in the plenty of his father's riches, finding his son's expenses grow very high and extravagant, ordered his cashier to let him have, for the future, no more money than what he should count when he received it. This one would think no great restraint to a young gentleman's expenses, who could freely have as much money as he would tell. But yet this, to one, who was used to nothing but the pursuit of his pleasures, proved a very great trouble, which at last ended in this sober and advantageous reflection : "If it be so much pains to me, barely to count the money I would spend, what labor and pains did it cost my ancestors, not only to count, but get it ?" This rational thought, suggested by this little pains imposed upon him, wrought so effectually upon his mind, that it made him take up, and from that time forwards prove a good husband. This, at least, every body must allow, that nothing is likelier to keep a man within compass, than the having constantly before his eyes the state of his affairs, in a regular course of account.


206. The last part usually in education, is travel, which is commonly thought to finish the work, and complete the gentleman. I confess, travel into foreign countries has great advantages; but the time usually chosen to send young men abroad, is, I think, of all other, that which renders them least capable of reaping those advantages. Those which are proposed, as to the main of them, may be reduced to these two: first, language; secondly, an improvement in wisdom and prudence, by seeing men, and conversing with people of tempers, customs, and ways of living, different from one another, and especially from those of his parish and neighborhood. But from sixteen to one-and-twenty, which is the ordinary time of travel, men are, of all their lives, the least suited to these im. provements. The first season to get foreign languages, and form the tongue to their true accents, I should think, should be from seven to fourteen or sixteen; and then, too, a tutor with them is useful and necessary, who may with those languages, teach them other things. But to put them out of their parents' view, at a great distance, under a governor, when they think themselves too much men to be governed by others, and yet have not prudence and experience enough to govern themselves; what is it but to expose them to all the greatest dangers of their whole life, when they have the least fence and guard against them? Till that boiling boisterous part of life comes on, it may be hoped the tutor may have some authority; neither the stubbornness of age, nor the tempt. ation or examples of others can take him from his tutor's conduct, till fifteen or sixteen; but then, when he begins to consort himseli' with men, and thinks bimself one; when he comes to relish, and pride himself in, manly vices, and thinks it a shame to be any longer under the control and conduct of another; what can be hoped from even the most careful and discreet governor, when neither he has power to compel, nor his pupil a disposition to be persuaded; but, on the contrary, has the advice of warm blood, and prevailing fashion, to hearken to the temptations of his companions, just as wise as himself, rather than to the persuasions of his tutor, who is now looked on as the enemy of his freedom ? And when is a man so like to miscarry, as when at the same time he is both raw and unruly ? This is the season of all his life, that most requires the eye and authority of his parents and friends to govern it. The flexibleness of the former part of a man's age, not yet grown up to be headstrong, makes it more governable and safe; and, in the after-part, reason and foresight begin a little to take place, and mind a man of his safety and improvement. The time therefore I should think the fittest for a young gentleman to be sent abroad, would be, either when he is younger, under a tutor, whom he might be the better for; or when he is some years older, without a governor; when he is of age to govern himself

, and make observations of what he finds in other countries worthy his notice, and that might be of use to him after his return: and when, too, being thoroughly acquainted with the laws and fashions, the natural and moral advantages and defects of his own country, he has something to exchange with those abroad, from whose conversation he hoped to reap any knowledge.

207. The ordering of travel otherwise, is that, I imagine, which makes so many young gentlemen come back so little improved by it. And if they do bring home with them any knowledge of the places and people they have seen, it is often an admiration of the worst and vainest practices they met with abroad; retaining a relish and memory of those things, wherein their liberty took its first swing, rather than of what should make them better and wiser after their return. And indeed, how can it be otherwise, going abroad at the age they do, under the care of another, who is to provide their necessaries, and make their observations for them? Thus, under the shelter and pretense of a governor, thinking themselves excused from standing upon their own legs, or being accountable for their own conduct, they very seldom trouble themselves with inquiries, or making useful observations of their own. Their thoughts run after play and pleasure, wherein they take it as a lessening to be controlled ; but seldom trouble themselves to examine the designs, observe the address, and consider the arts, tempers and inclinations of men they meet with ; that so that they may know how to comport themselves towards them. Here he that travels with them, is to screen them, get them out, when they have run themselves into the briars; and in all their miscarriages be answerable for them.

208. I confess, the knowledge of men is so great a skill, that it is not to be expected a young man should presently be perfect in it. But yet his going abroad is to little purpose, if travel does not sometimes open his eyes, make him cautious and wary, and accustom him to look beyond the outside, and, under the inoffensive guard of a civil and obliging carriage, keep himself free and safe in his conversation with strangers, and all sorts of people, without forfeiting their good opinion. He that is sent out to travel at the age, and with the thoughts of a man designing to improve himself, may get into the conversation and acquaintance of persons of condition where he comes; which, though a thing of most advantage to a gentleman that travels, yet I ask, among our young men that go abroad under tutors, what one is there of an hundred, that

« AnteriorContinua »