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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From a Letter to James Boswell, Esq.
By Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)
 
LIFE, as Cowley seems to say, ought to resemble a well-ordered poem; of which one rule generally received is, that the exordium should be simple, and should promise little. Begin your new course of life with the least show and the least expense possible: you may at pleasure increase both, but you cannot easily diminish them. Do not think your estate your own while any man can call upon you for money which you cannot pay; therefore begin with timorous parsimony. Let it be your first care not to be in any man’s debt.  1
  When the thoughts are extended to a future state, the present life seems hardly worthy of all those principles of conduct and maxims of prudence which one generation of men has transmitted to another; but upon a closer view, when it is perceived how much evil is produced and how much good is impeded by embarrassment and distress, and how little room the expedients of poverty leave for the exercise of virtue, it grows manifest that the boundless importance of the next life enforces some attention to the interests of this.  2
  Be kind to the old servants, and secure the kindness of the agents and factors; do not disgust them by asperity, or unwelcome gayety, or apparent suspicion. From them you must learn the real state of your affairs, the characters of your tenants, and the value of your lands.  3
  Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell: I think her expectations from air and exercise are the best that she can form. I hope she will live long and happily.  4
 
 
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