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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A fun quiz

The following passage is from a book published in 1809 in England. I have two questions for those of you who would like to have some fun with a quiz. The first question is very easy, the second question is much trickier.

Q1: What character in Jane Austen’s novels are you particularly reminded of when you read this passage, and why?

Q2: What was the Google search I did which led me to this book this morning, and why did I do that Google search?

Hint as to Q2: The answer to Q2 is closely connected to the answer to Q1 in more than one way.

Good luck!

I will give the answer to Q2 before 9 am EST on Monday—if I need to give the answer to Q1 before then, it means nobody is trying.

Any additional comments you wish to make about this passage, or JA’s novels, or anything related thereto, would of course also be welcome.

Cheers, ARNIE

“I would always choose that person to be my friend whose spots are least visible, when he is with those whom he loves. But when I speak to young men on this subject, I request them to remark the wide difference between those unavoidable blemishes, which are found in the characters of worthy men, and the vices which are found only in the haunts of wickedness. You see a good man striving against his weakness, and daily acquiring strength to overcome it; but it is the nature of vice to debase the character, and every act of wickedness, whatever it is, makes you worse than you were before. You have less power to resist temptation, and you are less afraid of the discovery of your guilt. Never associate, then, with men whose example or advice may lead you from the path, in which, from your infancy you have been taught to go. Never think of choosing a friend unless you can live with him, by day, or by night, without seeing the example of a vicious conduct. The path of destruction is always most irrecoverably dangerous, when we are found in it with those whom we love. Their persuasive voice, and animating example, conceal from us the pit and the snare. I have known more young people ruined in their best prospects, by improper attachments, than in any other way ; and therefore I expect always to hear that you converse with those who will do you honour by their virtues, and instruct you by-their example.
It is a common practice, among vicious young men, to debauch the sober; and they seem to enjoy a sort of malignant pleasure when they succeed. These companions will not discover to you at once the whole deformity of their character. Their own gradual defection from what they once were, has taught them the most successful methods of infusing the poison of vice, and yet concealing its odiousness. I suppose Satan himself would have been less dangerous to mankind if he had never been an angel of light. Men of this character, from what motive I know not, whether it be to have access to their purse, to have companions in sin, or from the love of evil for its own sake, seem to consider sober and virtuous young men as fair game, whom, by every mean in their power, they are to hunt into their toils. It is my duty to warn you of your danger; and I do it with a thousand times less anxiety, as your temper is open, and your heart uncorrupted, than I should try to reclaim you if you had gone astray. There is a modesty in the innocence of youth which rejects vice. This is a guard which the providence of God has placed over us, when we are in the most unsuspecting and unprotected condition. In leading you astray, therefore, the artful will not discover to you for a long time the whole length they mean to carry you. They will even counterfeit virtue, and disinterestedness, till they get you entangled in the net which they have spread. They will lay hold of your affections, to corrupt your heart. But while I am setting before you the character of a kind of men who make it their employment to deceive unadvised youth, I am far from wishing you to believe, that your acquaintance in general design to mislead you. On the contrary, if you begin life with too much caution, and with great fear of being deceived, you will disgust those who are worthy of your friendship, and lay yourself more open to the attacks of the artful. You need not hang out a flag of defiance, to tempt them to try the powers of their ingenuity on your prudence. It is the wicked only who flee when no man pursues them. Simple integrity is a better defence to a young man's virtue than excessive prudence." END OF EXCERPT

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