Saturday, August 29, 2009

If you always live with those who are lame, you will learn to limp.—FROM THE LATIN.

If men wish to be held in esteem, they must associate with those who are estimable.—LA BRUYERE.

1. By What Men Are Known.—An author is known by his writings, a mother by her daughter, a fool by his words, and all men by their companions.

2. Formation of a Good Character.—Intercourse with persons of decided virtue and excellence is of great importance in the formation of a good character. The force of example is powerful; we are creatures of imitation, and, by a necessary influence, our tempers and habits are very much formed on the model of those with whom we familiarly associate. Better be alone than in bad company. Evil communications corrupt good manners. Ill qualities are catching as well as diseases; and the mind is at least as much, if not a great deal more, liable to infection, than the body. Go with mean people, and you think life is mean.

3. Good Example.—How natural is it for a child to look up to those around him for an example of imitation, and how readily does he copy all that he sees done, good or bad. The importance of a good example on which the young may exercise this powerful and active element of their nature, is a matter of the utmost moment.

4. A True Maxim.—It is a trite, but true maxim, that "a man is known by the company he keeps." He naturally assimilates by the force of imitation, to the habits and manners of those by whom he is surrounded. We know persons who walk much with the lame, who have learned to walk with a hitch or limp like their lame friends. Vice stalks in the streets unabashed, and children copy it.

5. Live with the Culpable.—Live with the culpable, and you will be very likely to die with the criminal. Bad company is like a nail driven into a post, which after the first or second blow, may be drawn out with little difficulty; but being once driven in up to the head, the pinchers cannot take hold to draw it out, which can only be done by the destruction of the wood. You may be ever so pure, you cannot associate with bad companions without falling into bad odor.

6. Society of the Vulgar.—Do you love the society of the vulgar? Then you are already debased in your sentiments. Do you seek to be with the profane? In your heart you are like them. Are jesters and buffoons your choice friends? He who loves to laugh at folly is himself a fool. Do you love and seek the society of the wise and good? Is this your habit? Had you rather take the lowest seat among these than the highest seat among others? Then you have already learned to be good. You may not make very much progress, but even a good beginning is not to be despised.

7. Sinks of Pollution.—Strive for mental excellence, and strict integrity, and you never will be found in the sinks of pollution, and on the benches of retailers and gamblers. Once habituate yourself to a virtuous course, once secure a love of good society, and no punishment would be greater than by accident to be obliged for half a day to associate with the low and vulgar. Try to frequent the company of your betters.

8. Procure no Friend in Haste.—Nor, if once secured, in haste abandon them. Be slow in choosing an associate, and slower to change him; slight no man for poverty, nor esteem any one for his wealth. Good friends should not be easily forgotten, nor used as suits of apparel, which, when we have worn them threadbare, we cast them off, and call for new. When once you profess yourself a friend, endeaver to be always such. He can never have any true friends that will be often changing them.

9. Have the Courage to Cut the Most Agreeable Acquaintance.—Do this when you are convinced that he lacks principle; a friend should bear with a friend's infirmities, but not with his vices. He that does a base thing in zeal for his friend, burns the golden thread that ties their hearts together.