Joseph Fawcett to his son, Lyle B. Fawcett, 21 January 1821
To: Master Lyle B. Fawcett Strasburg Shenandoah Virginia
Harrisonburg, 21st of January 1821
since you have left home it has happened that thoughts of painful anxiety have crossed my mind. having been once an youth myself, I know from sad experience how apt persons of your age are to get into error. do not my dear son, suppose that I am disposed to censure you for any misconduct which is not common to young persons. on the contrary, I can say without flattery that I have marked with pleasure your magnannimus candor on many occasions. Indeed I have allways thought and have frequently told your Mother that your respect for truth and contempt for falshood argued much in your favor. it is not Improbable that it is the short anchor of your reputation, he who is too honorable to Lyle will soon be too prudent to do an act which he would be ashamed to own, it is however due to candor on the other hand to say that I have sometimes witnessed a headlessness and rudeness which gave me much pain. I have therefore to request that you will endevor to be as circumspect as possible lest some unfortunate occuranc may make an unfavorable Impression against you in commencing life, it is the easiest thing in the world to set the public opinion for or against a man. do your duty honestly and faithfully Towards your fellow creature and all will go well. we are Taught to believe that they are all your brothers and sisters and that there is but one common parent whether these be facts or not , we are acting our part on the stage of life at the same time and therefore ought to have a proper fellow feeling towards each other and to love and respect each other accordingly, it therefore becomes our duty to te civil polite and attentive on the one hand and on the other hand to be frank candid and honorable to all avoiding every thing like supercilliousness and haugther in making these remarks I confess I have a large Interest my self as I respect my own feelings but the great object is to promote your own good. I therefore cenjure you to make a good beginning. The particular case of Jacob Bright ought to admonish you as much as any one thing. This youth from the character of his father and other connections had credit to any reasonable amount. This by self will rudness Idleness and contempt of advice he has abused in such a manner that it will take a lifetime of close application to regain the ground he has lost.
I think that if Mr Tillett wase desirious to change his residence that an opportunity now offers in his place. Mr. Baker goes away in the spring, and Mr Millr does not expect to remain long, so that the whole field is open, but there will be a struggle to get Mr Smith of Woodstock here who I am told is an emminant Teacher. I cannot pretend to say whether Mr. Tillett ought under such circumstances to hazzard a change it might not be amiss to mention it to him. All well.