8. I have, therefore, done, already, a great deal in this way: but, there is still wanting, in a compact form, a body of ADVICE such as that which I now propose to give: and in the giving of which I shall divide my matter as follows. 1. Advice addressed to a YOUTH; 2. Advice addressed to a BACHELOR; 3. Advice addressed to a LOVER; 4. To a HUSBAND; 5. To a FATHER; 6. To a CITIZEN or SUBJECT.
9. Some persons will smile, and others laugh outright, at the idea of ‘Cobbett’s giving advice for conducting the affairs of love.’ Yes, but I was once young, and surely I may say with the poet, I forget which of them,
‘Though old I am, for ladies’
The power of beauty I remember yet.’
I forget, indeed, the names of the ladies as completely, pretty nigh, as I do that of the poets; but I remember their influence, and of this influence on the conduct and in the affairs and on the condition of men, I have, and must have, been a witness all my life long. And, when we consider in how great a degree the happiness of all the remainder of a man’s life depends, and always must depend, on his taste and judgment in the character of a lover, this may well be considered as the most important period of the whole term of his existence.
10. In my address to the HUSBAND, I shall, of course, introduce advice relative to the important duties of masters and servants; duties of great importance, whether considered as affecting families or as affecting the community. In my address to the CITIZEN or SUBJECT, I shall consider all the reciprocal duties of the governors and the governed, and also the duties which man owes to his neighbour. It would be tedious to attempt to lay down rules for conduct exclusively applicable to every distinct calling, profession, and condition of life; but, under the above-described heads, will be conveyed every species of advice of which I deem the utility to be unquestionable.
11. I have thus fully described the nature of my little work, and, before I enter on the first Letter, I venture to express a hope, that its good effects will be felt long after its author shall have ceased to exist.
TO A YOUTH
12. You are now arrived at that age which the law thinks sufficient to make an oath, taken by you, valid in a court of law. Let us suppose from fourteen to nearly twenty; and, reserving, for a future occasion, my remarks on your duty towards parents, let me here offer you my advice as to the means likely to contribute largely towards making you a happy man, useful to all about you, and an honour to those from whom you sprang.