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The Young ~

The young are often accused of being thoughtless, rash, and unwilling to be advised.

That the former of these charges is in a great measure just, is not denied. Indeed, what else could be expected? They are thoughtless, for they are yet almost strangers to the world, and its cares and perplexities. They are forward, and sometimes rash; but this generally arises from that buoyancy of spirits, which health and vigor impart. True, it is to be corrected, let the cause be what it may, but we shall correct with more caution, and probably with greater success when we understand its origin.

That youth are unwilling to be advised, as a general rule, appears to me untrue. At least I have not found it so. When the feeling does exist, I believe it often arises from parental mismanagement, or from an unfortunate method of advising.

The infant seeks to grasp the burning lamp;—the parent endeavors to dissuade him from it. At length, he grasps it and suffers the consequences. Finally, however, if the parent manages him properly, he learns to follow his advice, and obey his indications, to avoid pain. Such, at least, is the natural result of rational management. And the habit of seeking parental counsel, once formed, is not easily eradicated. Temptation and forgetfulness may indeed lead some of the young occasionally to grasp the lamp, even after they are told better; but the consequent suffering generally restores them to their reason. It is only when the parent neglects or refuses to give advice, and for a long time manifests little or no sympathy with his child, that the habit of filial reliance and confidence is destroyed. There are very few children indeed, however improperly managed, who do not in early life acquire a degree of this confiding, inquiring, counsel-seeking disposition.

Most persons, as they grow old, ignore that they have ever been young themselves. This greatly disqualifies them for social enjoyment. It was wisely said; ‘He who would pass the latter part of his life with honor and decency, must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old, and when he is old, remember that he has once been young.’ But if forgetfulness on this point disqualifies a person for self-enjoyment, how much more for that which is social?

Still more does it disqualify us for giving advice? While a lad, I was at play, one day, with my mates, when two gentlemen observing us, one of them said to the other; ‘Do you think you ever acted as foolishly as those boys do?’ ‘Why yes; I suppose I did;’ was the reply. ‘Well,’ said the other, ‘I never did;—I know I never did.’

Both of these persons have the name of parent, but he who could not believe he had ever acted like a child himself, is greatly destitute of the proper parental spirit. He never—or scarcely ever—puts himself to the slightest inconvenience to promote, directly, the happiness of the young, even for half an hour.

He supposes every child ought to be grave, like himself. If he sees the young engaged in any of those exercises which are adapted to their years, he regards it as an entire loss of time, besides being foolish and unreasonable. He would have them at work, or their studies. Whereas there is scarcely anything that should give a parent more pleasure than to see his children, in their earliest years, enjoying that flow of spirits, which leads them forth to active, vigorous, blood-stirring sports.

Of all persons living, he who does not remember that he has once been young is the most completely disqualified for giving youthful counsel. He obtrudes his advice occasionally, when the youth is already under temptation, and borne along with the force of a vicious current; but because he disregards it, he gives him up as heedless, perhaps as obstinate. If advice is afterward asked, his manners are cold and repulsive. Or perhaps he frowns him away, telling him he never follows his advice, and therefore it is useless to give it. So common is it to treat the young with a measure of this species of roughness, that I cannot wonder the maxim has obtained that the young, generally, ‘despise counsel.’ And yet, I am fully convinced, no maxim is farther from the truth.

When we come to the very close of life, we cannot transfer, in a single moment, that knowledge of the world and of human nature which an experience of 70 years has afforded us. If therefore, from any cause whatever, we have not already dealt it out to those around us, it is likely to be lost;—and lost forever. Now is it not a pity that what the young would regard as an invaluable treasure, could they come at it in such a manner, and at such seasons, as would be agreeable to them, and that, too, which the old are naturally so fond of distributing, should be buried with their bodies?

Let me counsel the young, then, to do everything they can, consistently with the rules of good breeding, to draw forth from the old the treasures of which I have been speaking. Let them even make some sacrifice of that buoyant feeling which, at their age, is so apt to predominate. Let them conform, for the time, in some measure, to the gravity of the aged, to gain their favor, and secure their friendship and confidence. I do not ask them wholly to forsake society, or their youthful pastimes for this purpose, or to become grave habitually; for this would be requiring too much. But there are moments when old people, however, disgusted they may be with the young, do so far unbend themselves as to enter into cheerful and instructive conversation. I can truly say that when a boy, some of my happiest hours were spent in the society of the aged—those too, who were not always what they should have been. The old live in the past, as truly as the young do in the future. Nothing more delights them than to relate stories of ‘olden time,’ especially when they were the heroes. But they will not relate to them unless there is somebody to hear. Let the young avail themselves of this propensity, and make the most of it. Some may have been heroes in war; some in traveling the country; others in hunting, fishing, agriculture, or the mechanic arts; and it may be that here and there one will boast of his skill, and relate stories of his success in that noblest of arts and employments—the making of his fellow-creatures wise, and good, and happy.

In conversation with all these persons, you will doubtless hear much that is uninteresting. But where will you find anything pure or perfect below the sun? The richest ores contain dross. At the same time, you cannot fail, unless the fault is your own, to learn many valuable things from them all. From war stories, you will learn history; from accounts of travels, geography, human character, manners, and customs; and from stories of the good or ill-treatment which may have been experienced, you will learn how to secure the one, and avoid the other. From one person you will learn one thing; from another something else. Put these shreds together, and in time you will form quite a several pages in the great book of human nature. You may thus, in a certain sense, live several lives in one.

One thing more is to be remembered. The more you have, the more you are bound to give. Common sense, as well as the Scripture, says, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Remember that as you advance in years you are bound to avoid falling into the very errors which, ‘out of your mouth’ you have ‘condemned’ in those who have gone before you; and to make yourselves as acceptable as you can to the young, to secure their confidence, and impart to them, little by little, those accumulated treasures of experience which you have acquired in going through life, but which must otherwise, to a very great extent, be buried with you in your graves.

But, my young friends, there is one method besides conversation, in which you may come at the wisdom of the aged; and that is through the medium of books. Many old persons have written well, and you cannot do better than to avail yourselves of their instructions. This method has even one advantage over conversation. In the perusal of a book, you are not so often prejudiced or disgusted by the repulsive and perhaps chilling manner of him who wrote it, as you might have been from his conversation and company.

By KINDNESS WISDOM

Life is like a bunch of roses. Some sparkle like raindrops. Some fade when there's no sun. Some just fade away in time. Some dance in many colors. Some drop with hanging wings. Some make you fall in love. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Life you can be sure of, you will not get out ALIVE.(sorry about that)

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