Congenial passions souls together bind,
And every calling mingles with its kind;
Soldier unites with soldier, swain with swain,
The mariner with him that roves the main.
That we may be known by the company we frequent, has become proverbial. For, when
unrestrained, we are prone to choose and associate with those whose manners and dispositions
are agreeable and congenial to ours. Hence when we find persons frequenting any company
whatsoever, we are disposed to believe that such company is congenial with their feelings, not
only in regard to their intellectual capacities and accomplishments, but also their moral
disposition and their particular manner in life.
Good company not only improves our manners, but also our minds; for intelligent associates
will become a source of enjoyment, as well as of edification. If they be pious they will improve
our morals; if they be polite they will tend to improve our manners; if they be learned they will
add to our knowledge and correct our errors. On the other hand, if they be immoral, ignorant,
vulgar, their impress will most surely be left upon us. It therefore becomes a matter of no trivial
concern to select and associate with proper company, while avoiding that which is certainly
We should always seek the company of those who are known to possess superior merit and
natural endowments; for them by being assimilated in manners and disposition, we rise.
Whereas, by associating with those who are our inferiors in every respect, we become
assimilated with them, and by that assimilation become degraded. Upon the whole much care
and judgment are necessary in selecting properly that company which will be profitable. Yet
this is not a point of so great interest among women as men; because they are not necessarily
thrown into associations of such diversity of character as the latter. Nevertheless, the greater
care and prudence are requisite to women, should they happen in such circles, to avoid the
pernicious influence of such associations, to which many are too prone to yield.
Good company is that which is composed of intelligent and well-bred persons; whose language
is chaste and good; whose sentiments are pure and edifying; whose deportment is such as pure
and well-regulated education and correct morals dictate; and whose conduct is directed and
restrained by the pure precepts of religion.
When we have the advantage of such company, it should be the object of our zeal "to imitate
their real perfections; copy their politeness, their carriage, their address, and the easy
well-bred turn of their conversation; but we should remember that, let them shine ever so
bright, their vices (if they have nay) are so many blemishes, which we should no more endeavor
to imitate than we should make artificial warts on our faces because some very handsome lady
happened to have one by nature. We should, on the contrary, think how much handsomer she
would have been without it."
What can be more pleasing and more angelic than a young lady, virtuous and adorned with the
graces and elegances of finished politeness based upon a sound intellect, and well improved
"For her inconstant man might cease to range,
And gratitude forbid desire to change."
The reflection is pleasing, that it is in the power of all to acquire an elegance of manner,
although they may be deprived of the advantages to be derived from a liberal education. At
least they may attain to that degree of elegance and manners, by judicious selection of
company, that will render them pleasing in any social circle, whether at home or abroad. This
will excite interest, which will grow into respect; from which always springs that pure, ardent,
and affectionate attachment which alone forms the only generous and indissoluble connection
between the sexes; that which the lapse of time serves only to confirm, and nought but death
If so much importance be attached to the prudent selection of company and associates, and if
this be of such vital interest to every young female, how careful should she be not to take to her
bosom for life a companion of dissolute habits and morals. Such an act might destroy all the
domestic felicity she might have hoped to enjoy, and be a source of constant sorrow to her
"Oh shun, my friend, avoid that dangerous coast
Where peace expires, and fair affection's lost."
For no connection or friendship can be fond and lasting, where a conformity of inclination and
disposition does not exist; but where this exists, all passions and finer feelings of the soul gently
harmonize, and form one common and lasting interest.
The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy