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True bliss, if man may reach it, is composed
Cowper. Op all the tasks enjoined by duty or imposed by friendship, few, Melissa, are more difficult to perform, or, when performed, more likely to prove unsuccessful, than that of giving advice.
Advice, which the sincerest friends are sometimes compelled by the purest motives of benevolence to communicate unasked, is seldom gratefully acknowledged, or even received with the decent ceremony of respect. The very attempt is frequently considered as an impeachment of the understanding and the heart of him to whom it is offered: and though he may not be so vain as to believe himself beyond the reach of instruction, yet he feels so much of his own importance, as to think the interposition officious; that attention to the common rules of decorum should at least have imposed silence; and that his monitor would have acted more in character, had his judgment been withheld until it was requested.
In delivering an opinion when it is sought with solicitude, there is certainly less risk of displeasure: for who can be displeased with the completion of his wishes ? In this case, however, he that counsels must not always expect his decisions to be received as oracular and implicitly followed ; because the man that finds himself bewildered in contemplating an object of pursuit, generally endeavours to extricate himself without the assistance of others, and rarely discontinues the attempt till he has removed, or thinks he has removed, every impediment that obstructed his progress and damped his hope. He no longer finds objections to combat, nor difficulties to surmount. He therefore ceases to hesitate ; he determines at once the course he shall steer, and afterwards entreats direction-not with his mind in perfect equilibrium-pot so much with a view to increase knowledge to make either scale preponderate that he may decide with the balance, as to know whether the sentiments of others concur with his own.
Are we then, it may be asked, to withhold the salutary aid of advice, because it is sometimes ungratefully contemned, sometimes received with indifference, and at others entirely neglected ? Are there none willing to hear the voice of instruction, and ready to follow the dictates of friendship ?None who believe that wisdom is profitable to direct, and that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety? Yes; there is still a generation that are not wise in their own eyes, and among this number ??m happy to think Melissa is included; I therefore