A Few Thoughts for a Young Man: A Lecture, Delivered Before the Boston Mercantile Library Association, on Its 29th Anniversary

Front Cover
Ticknor, Reed and Fields, 1853 - Young men - 84 pages

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

as an imprudent youth myself, i found the work to fruitful for the endeavor of research, although i am not wholly obliged to credit it as a masterful work of american literature, it is in many senses conventional, not only in message, but also with regard to style.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I am 59 years old. I wish I had read it when I was 18. Though written in 1853, it contains guidance and advice that would be prudently heeded by any young man (or woman) today. I strongly encourage every young person to read this lecture. I also strongly encourage every parent to read it, for the benefit of your child. Be aware, that at the time it was written, America was primarily Christian, and there are references to Christian scripture. If you are Christian, this should create no difficulty. 

Selected pages

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 14 - Legislator's great law of love, that law, which binds him to love the Lord his God with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself.
Page 62 - I may as well depend upon another for my head as for my bread. The day is sure to come when men will look back upon the prerogatives of Capital, at the present time, with as severe and as just a condemnation as we now look back upon the predatory chieftains of the dark ages.
Page 38 - Masters, and has learned the Art of Arts. Enrich and embellish the universe as you will, it is only a fit temple for the heart that loves truth with a supreme love. Inanimate vastness excites wonder ; knowledge kindles admiration, but love enraptures the soul. Scientific truth is marvellous, but moral truth is divine ; and whoever breathes its air and walks by its light has found the lost paradise.
Page 60 - By taking away the stimulus to effort, and, especially, by taking away the restraints from indulgence, it takes the muscles out of the limbs, the brain out of the head, and virtue out of the heart.
Page 48 - No matter what may be the fortunes or the expectations of a young man, he has no right to live a life of idleness. In a world so full as this of incitements to exertion and of rewards for achievement, idleness is the most absurd of absurdities and the most shameful of shames.
Page 14 - Were a young man to write down a list of his duties, Health should be among the first items in the catalogue. This is no exaggeration of its value; for health is indispensable to almost every form of human enjoyment; it is the grand auxiliary of usefulness...
Page 21 - How she hangs labels all over him, to testify her disgust at his existence, and to admonish others to beware of his example! How she loosens all his joints, sends tremors along his muscles, and bends forward his frame, as if to bring him upon all-fours with kindred brutes, or to degrade him to the reptile's crawling ! How she disfigures his countenance^ as if intent upon obliterating all traces of her own image, so that she may swear she never made him ! How she pours rheum over his eyes, sends foul...
Page 28 - Who does not feel a sort of personal complacency in that frugality of his youth which laid the foundation for so much competence and generosity in his mature age ; in that wise discrimination of his outlays, which held the culture of the soul in absolute supremacy over the pleasures of sense ; and in that consummate mastership of the great art of living, which has carried his practical wisdom into every cottage in Christendom, and made his name immortal? And yet, how few there are among us who would...
Page 37 - But a higher and holier world than the world of Ideas, or the world of Beauty, lies around us; and we find ourselves endued with susceptibilities which affiliate us to all its purity and its perfectness. The laws of nature are \ sublime, but there is a moral sublimity before which the highest intelligences must kneel and adore. The laws by which the winds blow, , and the tides of the ocean, like a vast clepsydra, measure, with inimitable exactness, the hours of ever-flowing time; the laws by which...
Page 15 - JEolian harp. In regard to the indulgence of appetite, and the management of the vital organs, society is still in a state of barbarism; and the young man who is true to his highest interests must create a civilization for himself. The brutish part of our nature governs the spiritual. Appetite is Nicholas the First, and the noble faculties of mind and heart are Hungarian captives. Were we to see a...

Bibliographic information