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LETTER XL

HP HE nursery education of Frederic differed in no respects from that of Albert, except that, as an only child, he acquired still higher notions of his own importance. He might from this alone have imbibed a sufficient quantity of self-consequence. Indeed, how is it possible that a child who feels itself the great and sole object of attention, should do otherwise! But, in addition to this misfortune, which it requires no little pains to counteract, Frederic had that of being for ever reminded by those around him, that he was born to be a great man! that is to say, born'to the inheritance of a great estate; for this was the only idea of greatness which any of the people about him happened to have. I must beg, however, that you may not from this imagine that Frederic was ever, in direct terms, told by any one, that his situation in life gave him a right to do what he pleased; but as every thing he saw and heard tended to inspire him with this notion, it amounted in reality to just the same thingHe was taught to say his prayers; but in saying them his heart was never taught to rise with a sense of awe and gratitude to the great Being to whom they were addressed. Having learned to consider all that he enjoyed as a right, he looked on nothing as a blessing; and as for the 9 wants

wants or miseries of others, it never entered into his mind that he had any business to feel for them; far less, you may believe, would he have entertained a thought of relieving them.

As he advanced in years, he enjoyed, as may be supposed, superior opportunities of improvement. He was placed under the care of able tutors, and might doubtless in youth have retrieved the errors of his childhood: and why he did not do so, appears at first view very unaccount* able. He did not want capacity; he in a short time acquired, for his years, a considerable stock of knowledge. He was perfectly well acquainted with the nature of truth and justice, and the theory of moral obligation. He had read the lives of many illustrious men, *and the pre• cepts of many sage philosophers. - He i 6 Ead had likewise been instructed in the doctrines of revealed religion; and never entertained a doubt of its truth. But all this knowledge was to him like the miser's treasure, which he carefully locks up in his iron chest, pleased with the idea of having so much in his possession, but is so far from using it, that he denies himself the common necessaries of life, and starves in the midst of plenty. Of as little use to Frederic was all the knowledge he possessed. On reading of a noble and magnanimous action, it never once occurred to him to ask, "Is it thus that I would have *' done in similar circumstances? Am "I capable of this generosity, or "this degree of self-control? Are "these the precepts by which my "actions have been governed? or, is "this the spirit I must imbibe before *' 1 can be truly worthy?" Had he

frequently frequently thus referred to his own heart, the notions of integrity and honour, which in the course of his education he could not help acquiring, would have been confirmed into principles. Still more effectually would they have been thus confirmed, had he considered the doctrines of religion as of practical use. But though he neither disbelieved in God nor denied the evidences of revelation; his belief was too weak and desultory, either to purify his heart or influence his conduct.

His belief never restrained him in the career of passion; it never occurred to check the impulse of any irregular desire; and when the remonstrances of others, or his own conscience, told him he had done wickedly, it never prevented him from exclaiming, in all the arrogance

'of

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