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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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'The advantages I expect from a twelve months'  sojourning in England are shortly these.  I hope to form some acquaintances, that may hereafter be of service to me, to model myself after some, persons, who cut a figure in ' the profession of the law, to form my manners and address by the example of the truly polite, to rub off in the gay circle a few of Those many barbarisms, which characterize a provincial education  and to curb that vain self sufficiency, which arises from  .  comparing ourselves with companions who are inferior to us.  As this last is the most agreeable, so it is the most dangerous kind of flattery, the surest source of vanity, a disease which can be cured only by conversing with our superiors in understanding.

There are many dangers, which it is alleged attend a young man thrown from under his parents' wings upon the gay stage of pleasure and dissipation, where a wanton circle of delusive joys courts his acquaintance, and an endless variety of objects prevents satiety and removes disgust; and to all the trite observations that may be made on this subject in the present instance, perhaps it may be added, that I have naturally a taste for pleasure, and, if it be allowed that I have a taste for pleasure, it may naturally follow that I shall avoid those low pleasures, which abound in as great an exuberance on this as on the other side of the Atlantic.  As for those poignant joys, which are the lot of the affluent, like Tantalus I may grasp at them, but they will certainly be out of my reach.  I might go farther and make my observations more particular, but as Lord Bacon told the Commons, with respect to his Majesty's power and prerogative, these things are better to be imagined by you than expressed by me.

I desire, however, that you will consider how much better my time may now be spared than hereafter.  I have somehow or other been so hurried through the different scenes of childhood and youth, that I have still some time left to pause before I tread the great stage of life, and you know how much our conduct there depends upon the mode of our education.  After what I have said, it will be needless to add, that my in-

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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 17. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to


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