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18.

Let this path be abandoned, deserted and uncultivated as it is, and hemmed in with hedges and brambles. Let some allowance be made for age; let youth be allowed some little freedom; let not everything be refused to pleasure; let us not require that true and proper system of life to be always predominant; let us allow desire and pleasure at times to get the upper hand of reason, as long as some sort of rule and moderation is observed in that kind of licence. Let youth have a due regard for its own chastity; let it not deprive others of theirs; let it not squander its patrimony; let it not be swallowed up by usury; let it not attack the house or the fair fame of another; let it not bring shame on the chaste, or disgrace on the upright, or infamy on the virtuous; let it abstain from alarming people by violence; from mixing in plots against people; let it keep itself from wickedness; lastly, when it has yielded for awhile to pleasures, and given up some time to the sports of its age, and to these frivolous and passing passions of youth, let it in due time recall itself to attention to its domestic affairs, to forensic employment and to the business of the state; so that it may appear from satiety to have thrown away, and from experience to have learnt to despise, those things which it had not been able properly to estimate by its unassisted reason, [43]

And, O judges, both within, our own recollection and in the time of our fathers and ancestors, there have been many most excellent men and most illustrious citizens, who, after their youthful passions had cooled down, displayed, when they became of more mature and vigorous age, the most exalted virtues; of whom there is no need for me to name to you any particular instance; you yourselves can recollect plenty. For I should not wish to connect even the slightest error on the part of any brave and illustrious man with his greatest glory. But if I did choose to do so, then I could name many most eminent and most distinguished men, some of whom were notorious for excessive licentiousness in their early days, some for their profuse luxury, their enormous debts, their extravagance, and their debaucheries, but whose early errors were afterwards so veiled over by their numerous virtues, that every one felt at liberty to make excuses for and to defend their youth.


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