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I. I may observe then, in the first place, that this exemption from labour and exertion, which the higher classes of society are thought to enjoy, is much more apparent than real; and that in truth it extends itself only to the lowest wants of human nature. They are exempted, indeed, from the care of "gaining their bread by the sweat of their "brow," from the labouring day, and the scanty sleep, by which alone the poor man can provide for the wants of his family. But they are called to other labours of no less imperious a kind; and which, from this circumstance itself, possess a higher obligation upon every generous mind, that they are more honourable and more exalted.
1. They are called, in the first place, to the cultivation of the mind,-to the acquisition of knowledge, and the improvement of the understanding. In the unbroken leisure of their youth,—in the facilities of studies and education,-in the society of whatever is respectable or distinguished among men, they enjoy advantages which fall to the lot of few of the human race; and the expectation of the world unites itself with the prayer of the parent, that they may enter upon active life, worthy of the discipline which has been employed to form them.
2. They are called, in the second place, to the noblest and most extensive duties which society demands. They are called to lead the arms of their country in war ;-to dispense its justice, and to preserve its tranquillity in the seasons of peace.
They are called, as possessors of property, to the most interesting office which the citizen can fill,to improve the bounty of nature, and add to the prosperity of their nation ;-to be the friends and the fathers of all that dwell in their land,-to be the patrons of rural industry,-the rewarders of humble merit, and, even in the most desert corners of their country, to diffuse happiness and knowledge among the habitations of men. They are called, still farther, in many cases, to a greater duty; to enter into the senate of their country, -to share in the deliberations by which its misfortunes may be remedied,-its prosperity extended, its honours maintained ;-to extend the firm hand, which, amidst popular commotion, can hold the balance of power and of liberty, and to exert the intrepid mind, which can disregard all the clamours of party, while it is labouring for the good of the whole.
3. They are called, in the last place, to be the arbiters of social life, and the models of national manners. It is to this description of society, as we all know, that the rest naturally look up; from them they borrow their fashions, their habits, and not unfrequently their principles; and it is their conduct of this easy but important dominion, that determines, in a great measure, the character and the morality of their age. They are born the legislators of publick manners; and it is their example, (and let me add, in a peculiar manner,
the example of the female great,) which is to impress its character upon the manners of the world around them, and to render them either pious or profligate, virtuous or vicious, dignified or base.
II. Such, then, are the duties which are demanded of the great and the opulent,—the important uses which, by the Providence of God, they serve in the societies of men; and such, accordingly, my young friends, are the solemn duties to which, in the course of time, you are to be called. It is the great business of youth, to prepare for the course which it is to follow; to acquire the knowledge, and to attain the habits which the scenes of future life may require; and above all, by anticipating the duties which God and Man are to demand, to establish that character and temper of mind which may suit the situation it is destined to fill, and render life honourable, and useful, and happy. Suffer me then, my young friends, upon this principle, to suggest to you some of those considerations which become the peculiar prospects which open upon you, and which befit those generous hours of youth which you now enjoy.
1. There is something, in the first place, very striking to every virtuous or elevated mind, in the importance of the station to which it is called, and the magnitude of the duties which are demanded of it. The great body of mankind are doomed to pass their days in still obscurity, uncheered by
the observation of the world, and unapplauded even for the greatest virtues of which their situation can admit. On their humble path, no eye of curiosity is turned,-no sympathizing interest attends;-and all the exertions of patience, of magnanimity, and of self-denial, which their condition incessantly demands, must pass without any other approbation than that of their own hearts, and that of him "who is greater than their hearts, and who "knoweth all things."
It is not thus with those that are born to rank and opulence. They enter upon the theatre of life with every opinion and every prejudice in their favour. Their first steps are marked by the sympathy of innumerable spectators; and their earliest dawn of talents or of virtue, is hailed by the applause and expectation of their country. The virtues, too, which life demands of them, are not those which shrink from the eye of day, and which are rewarded only by the testimony of conscience. It is not the austere, the passive, or the solitary virtues which they are called upon to exhibit; it is the prominent, the popular, and the commanding ;-the intrepidity of the warriour, the uprightness of the magistrate, the independence of the statesman;-in private life,the wide beneficence which belongs to landed-property, or the innumerable generosities which await commercial wealth; and, even in the bosom of domestick life, that system of pure but dignified manners, which enno
bles while it improves the society of men, and which every where diffuses over rank and greatness their most enviable charm. Such, my young friends, are the qualities of mind which the providence of God may one day call you to display ; -qualities, surely, which accord with the noblest ambition of youth; which it is now your proudest virtue to anticipate; and for the neglect of which, in these invaluable years of education, there is nothing under Heaven which can make any com. pensation. You are called, like all the rest of your brethren, to labour. In the great scene of human life, you have the most important part to perform. But, in proportion to the importance of that part, are the motives and the rewards which the Providence of the Almighty hath assigned you. Whatever can warm the generous, or animate the noble mind, is displayed to your ambition ;-the acquisition of personal fame, the maintenance of family honour ;-the extension of national greatness, and the improvement of national manners; -and, what is still more, the power of embodying your names in the annals of your country, and descending to posterity with the admiration of the wise, and the blessings of the virtuous. These are the motives by which the Almighty summons you to labour; and cold, surely, must be that heart which beats not at a prospect so animating to all the moral or intellectual exertions of man.