John Wayles Eppes to Francis Eppes
|Dear Francis||Mill Brook June 20. 1818.|
Our neighbor Captn Evans has been so good as to take charge of your virgil He thinks an opportunity will certainly offer of forwarding it while he is in Lynchburg—If none such should occur I have requested him to leave it with Mr Wells the Tavern keeper with whom I was formerly well acquainted & who I am certain will take a pleasure in rendering you any little service of this kind.
We have not heard from you since my return—I have some hope of receiving a letter from you today—I am very anxious to know how your time is employed—The languages Geography and Arithmetic are the subjects to which I hope you will devote yourself—A knowledge of the first will be necessary for your admission to the University—Without the second history is a mere chaos—and a knowledge of the third will be essential in all the different branches of science. For completing your studies you have now left not quite five years—of these it will require for the subjects I have mentioned almost two—So that the period left for the higher branches & your profession will be short—The next five yours of your life will be the most important—On the manner in which you employ them must depend your future [. . .] station in society—My first wish on earth is to see you possess that stern moral rectitude which renders its possessor incapable of an act of meanness in whatever situation he may be placed—The man who has no better motive of action than the fear of punishment in this world or the next is unworthy of being trusted—The man of rigid integrity would be as incapable of a mean act in his most private and retired moments and in the presence of the world assembled—After moral rectitude I would put down those acquirements without which a virtuous man is known only in the immediate circle of his family or friends—These constitute what is called Talent and render man a blessing or a curse to society in the precise ratio of his moral rectitude—These observations are not made from any fear I entertain of your moral rectitude—They proceed from that anxiety natural to a parent who looks in the decline of life for comfort and happiness to his children—
The famous Doctr Franklin left no sons—His Grand children were some of them respectable even for Talents—They were not however allowed their full portion of merit because something above mediocrity was expected from a Grand son of Doctr Franklin—Your situation will be similar—The elevated station held by your Grand Father as a philosopher and statesman ought to stimulate you to great exertion—Render yourself if possible worthy of him—If you are not destined to be his equal in Talents be not his inferior in every manly virtue—The last depends entirely on yourself—
The family are all well—your [mama?] and Matilda send their love to you—John Willie & Caroline enquire for you frequently and ask when you will return—accept for your health & happiness the best wishes of your affectionate Father