A Delightful Find

Patrick Henry Book

By Angus Kirk McClellan '05

One of the librarians recently found tucked away in an old box a copy of the timeless guide to proper character and behavior, The Young Gentleman and Lady's Monitor and English Teacher's Assistant, by J. Hamilton Moore. Although it was first published some 250 years ago, its advice to young men remains relevant today:

"Every virtue has its kindred vice, and every pleasure its neighboring disgrace. Temperance and moderation mark the gentleman, but excess the blackguard. Attend carefully, then, to the line that divides them; and remember, stop rather a yard short, than step an inch beyond it."

"Never seem wise or more learned than the company you are in. He who affects to show his learning will be frequently questioned: and if found superficial, will be sneered at. Real merit will always show itself, and nothing can lessen it in the opinion of the world, but a man's exhibiting it himself."

This particular copy holds a bit more. The recently unearthed volume bears the signatures and scribblings of three particularly notable Hampden-Sydney students: Patrick Henry, Jr., Nathaniel Henry, and A. Spotswood Henry. They were three of the patriot's seven sons who attended the College. Opposite of the title page is the inscription:

June 21 1803
Spotswood Henry
His handwriting

They surely carried the book around campus, and because this edition was printed before Henry Sr.'s death, he may well have given it to them personally. Staff probably put it away during the move from the old Eggleston Library to the new Bortz Library a number of years ago and simply lost track of it.
Its text describes commonly held expectations of students at the time of the College's founding. The elegant handwriting evokes images of the waistcoated pupils, noses down, swirling their quills under dimly lit oil lamps-much to their father's approval, surely. It was a delightful find that will be cherished for many years.