It is like water which first putrefies by stagnation, and then sends up noxious vapours and fills the atmosphere with death. Fly, therefore, from idleness, as the certain parent both of guilt and of ruin. And under idleness I include, not mere inaction only, but all that circle of trifling occupations in which too many saunter away their youth; perpetually engaged in frivolous society or public amusements, in the labours of dress or the ostentation of their persons. Is this the foundation which you lay for future usefulness and esteem? By such accomplishments do you hope to recommend yourselves to the thinking part of the world, and to answer the expectations of your friends and your country? Amusements youth requires: it were vain, it were cruel, to prohibit them. But, though allowable as the relaxation, they are most culpable as the business, of the young, for they then become the gulf of time and the poison of the mind; they weaken the manly powers; they sink the native vigour of youth into contemptible effeminacy.
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The river Jordan rises in the mountains of Lebanon, and falls into the little Lake Merom, on the banks of which Joshua describes the hostile Kings as pitching to fight against Israel. After passing through this lake, it runs down a rocky valley with great noise and rapidity to the Lake of Tiberias. In this part of its course the stream is almost hidden by shady trees, which grow on each side. As the river approaches the Lake of Tiberias it widens, and passes through it with a current that may be clearly seen during a great part of its course. It then reaches a valley, which is the lowest ground in the whole of Syria, many hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. It is so well sheltered by the high land on both sides, that the heat thus produced and the moisture of the river make the spot very rich and fertile. This lovely plain is five or six miles across in parts, but widens as it nears the Dead Sea, whose waters cover the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed for the wickedness of their inhabitants.