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virtuous disposition. Youth and inexperience are ill able to penetrate into characters: the least ap. pearance of good attracts their admiration, and they immediately suppose they have found the object they pursued.
It is a melancholy consideration, that the judge ) ment can only be formed by experience, which generally comes too late for our own use, and is seldom accepted for that of others. I fear it is in vain for me to tell you what dangerous mistakes I made in the early choice of friends; how incapable I then was of finding out such as were fit for me, and how little I was acquainted with the true nature of friendship, when I thought myself niost fervently engaged in it! I am sensible all this will hardly persuade you to choose by the eyes of others, or even to suspect that your own may be deceived. Yet, if you should give any weight to my observa. tions, it may not be quite useless to mention to you, some of the essential requisites in a friend; and to cxhort you never to choose one in whom they are wanting.
The first of these is a deep and sincere regard for religion. If your friend draws her principles from the saine source with yourself, if the Gospel precepts are the rule of her life, as well as yours, you will always know what to expect from her, and have one common standard of right and wrong to refer to, by which to regulate all material points of conduct. The woman who thinks lightly of sacred things, or who is ever heard to speak of them with levity or indifference, cannot reasonably be expected to pay a more serious regard to the laws of friendship, or to be uniformly punctual in the performance of any of the duties of society: take no such person to your bosom, bowever recommended by good-humour, wit, or any other qualification; nor let gaiety or thoughtlessuess be deemed an ex. cuse for offending in this important point: a person habitunted to the love and reverence of religion and virtue, no more wants the guard of serious consideration to resisuin her from speaking disrespectfully
of them, than to prevent her speaking ill of her dearest friend. In the liveliest hour of mirth, the innocent heart can dictate nothing but what is innocent; it will immediately take alarm at the apprehension of doing wrong, and stop at once in the full career of youthful sprightliness, if remiuded of
t or transgression of any duty. Watch for these symptoms of innocence and goodness, and admit no one to your entire affection, who would ever persuade you to make light of any sort of offence, or who can treat with levity or contempt, any person' or thing that bears a relation to reli. gion.
A due regard to reputation is the next indispensable qualification: Have regard to thy naine," saith the wise son of Sirach; " for that will contin “ nue with thee above a thousand great treasures “ of gold." The young person who is careless of blame, and indifferent to the esteem of the wise and prudent part of the world, is not only a most dangerous companion, but gives a certain proof of the want of rectitude in her own mind. Discretion is the guardian of all the virtues; and, when she for sakes them, they cannot long resist the attacks of an enemy. There is a profligacy of spirit in defying the rules of decorum, and despising censure, which seldom ends otherwise than in extreme corruption and utter ruin. Modesty and prudence are qualities that early display theniselves, and are easily discerned: where these do not appear, you should avoid, not only friendship, but every step towards intimacy, lest your own character should suffer with that of your companion; but, where they shine forth in any eminent degree, you may safely cultivate an acquaintance, in the reasonable hope of finding the solid fruits of virtue beneath such sweet and promising blossoms: should you be disappointed, you will at least have run no risk in the search after them, and may cherish as a creditable acquaiutance the person so adorned, though she may not deserve a place in your inmost heart.
The understanding must next be examined: and
this is a point which requires so much understand....
What can one do with those who will not be an.
Fancy, I know, will have her share in friendship, as well as in love;--you must please as well as serve me, before I can love you as the friend of my heart. But the faculties that please for an evening,
may not please for life. The humorous man soon
jest; and the wit, by constant repeated fashes, con.
A good temper is the next qualification; the value of which, in a friend, you will want no argu. ments to prove, when you are truly convinced of the necessity of it in yourself, which I shall endeavour to shew you in a following letter, But, as this is a quality in which you may be deceived, without a long and intimate acquaintance, you must not be hasty in foruring connections, before you have had sufficient opportunity for making observations on this head. A young person, when pleased and enlivened by the presence of her youthful companions, seldom shews ill temper: which must be ex. tieme indeed, if it is not at least controllable in such situations. But, you must watch her behaviour to her own family, and the degree of estima. tion she stands in with them.. Observe her mayner to servants and inferiors,--to children, and even to animals. See in what manner she bears disappointments, contradiction and restraint; and what de. gree of vexation she expresses on any accident of loss or trouble. If, in such little trials, she shew3 a meek, resigned, and cheerful temper, she will pro. bably preserve it on greater occasions; but if she is impatient and discontented under thesc, how will she support the far greater evils which may await her in her progress through life? If you should bare an opportunity of seeing her in sickness; ob
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serve whether her complaints are of a mild and
I have already expressed my wishes that your chosen friend may be some years older than your. self; but this is an advantage not always to be obtained. Whatever be her age-religion, discre. tion, good sense, and good temper, must on no account be dispensed with; and, till you can find one so qualified, you had better make no closer con. nection than that of a mutual intercourse of civi. lities and good offices. But if it is always your ait to mix with the best company, and to be wor. thy of such society, you will probably meet with some one among them deserving your affection, to whom you may be equally agreeable.
When I speak of the best company, I do not