Delivered before the Literary Societies of ERSKINE COLLEGE, Abbeville District, S. C., on the Fifth Anniversary, Sept. 18, 1844
An illustrious poet has said, more in the spirit of philosophy than of song, that "the proper study of mankind is man." The wisdom of this remark can but strike the mind of every one. It is not only the proper study of man to know his own faults and imperfections, to find out his own intellectual powers and ability, so that he may govern his passions and evil propensities, and cultivate judiciously those gifts of' mind and body which God has bestowed upon him, but it is proper that he should study the lives and characters of his fellowmen, see their faults, and learn to imitate their virtues.
Nothing can conduce more to the improvement of the young mind, than the reading and contemplation of the lives of great men--men who have borne an illustrious part in the affairs of this world. It is by knowing and studying their virtues, their noble deeds and heroic daring, that we are inspired with emulation and encouraged to imitate their noble examples. In the history of such men, we are taught by example to turn from vice, and to admire and love virtue. We see how great and happy they have become, how much they have been honored, and what noble rewards they met for their welldoing in this life. And although in many instances their cotemporaries may have been ungrateful, yet succeeding generations have never failed to do them justice.
It is said that men are known and to be judged by the company they keep. That there is something in human nature which has a tendency to adapt itself to the circumstances which surround us, must be obvious to