Transcribed by Iva Trevors, [email protected]
The following letter is from Theophilus DesBrisay Sr. of Dublin, Ireland, and dated May 1769. It is addressed - "My dear Son," and goes on to give advice on proper conduct, behavior, etc. to the son "As Lieutenant Governor of St. John's Island."
(On 31 Jul 1769, Capt. Thomas De La Cour DesBrisay was commissioned lieutenant governor, secretary and registrar of St. John's (Prince Edward) Island under the Governorship of Walter Patterson. When the office of the head of the Island's administration was reduced from a Governor to a Lieut. Governor, DesBrisay lost his position. DesBrisay also held the posts of Secretary, Registrar, and Clerk of the Executive Council.)
My dear Son,
As by all appearance and my great age I cannot hope to see you more after you leave this Kingdom, and my circumstances not affording me the means of shewing you my affection by real effects I shall at least discharge a duty by laying before you such advices for the conduct of your life which if attended to may be conducive to your welfare and happiness. Let me observe to you--
Firstly, --- That your principle duty is to offer daily your worship to the Supreme being, not only in private, but let your family join you in acts of devotion morning and evening. In the post wherein it hath pleased God to place you, you are not to consider yourself alone, but to be an example to others. This you will do by never neglecting, with your family, to attend the Public Worship. --
Secondly,--- As Lieutenant Governor of St. John's Island there are many obligations laid on you, and the mention of some of them may, I hope, be of use. --
Thirdly,--- In regards to the Inhabitants of the Island whom His Majesty hath laid under your inspection, be to them affable and courteous, but especially to the officers immediately attending on public business. Be civil but not familiar, have no favourite and beware to let anyone get an ascendancy over you. Reward virtue, punish vice, without shewing any partiality in either case. Be just and fear not, dare to be wise.
Fourthly,--- Be very sparing in giving entertainments-From a long experience I have found that they answer no and, insomuch that those persons who have eat your meat and drunk your wine will look upon it as a small obligation and perhaps blame you in 'their minds.
Fifthly,--- Be constantly on your guard against being tempted to make any advantage, though perhaps they may appear innocent -- money-making is a dangerous snare, and averice hath often perverted the best minds, who, when out of reach of temptation thought themselves secure from that vice.
Sixthly,--- As you may be allowed to dispose of employments, do not stretch your authority too much to your advantage, for ever give the preference to merit though at your loss. By this method you will gain friends, His Majesty's service will be better promoted and you will have the inward satisfaction of having acted by the rules of generosity, disinterestedness, and with sentiments abhorring a filthy lucre.
Seventhly --- You will, I suppose, have places of worship of different denominations. In general people are very tenacious of their religious principles, when these differences are laid open History will inform us to what lengths opinions and prejudices will carry men. The Consequences are always fatal. If any such arise in your Island these as Governor you may compose by an impartial behaviour, accompanied with gentleness and moderation. If you can compass this great end your Island will be peaceable and every particular member will apply himself to his private affairs and consult the good of the whole ------ Do not suffer party of any kind to take root, prevent them at their first appearance but always with good manners.
Eighthly,--- Apply yourself to agriculture and horticulture. This will employ some hours in each day, take you from idleness, and will occation such reflections as will raise your thoughts and fill your mind with sublime ideas by admiring the works of Providence and must give you an amicable taste to virtue which will every day increase.
I have now laid before you some few leads for your conduct to which you may add your own reflections and enlarge upon them. As to the passions ingrafted in us by our nature or to speak better by Providence and what relates to the education of your children, you are come to the time of life that I should be sorry you should want advice. I most ardently pray God that He may bless you and yours-that He may sow in your minds seeds of morality and virtue, that you may pass the days of your pilgrimage with all those who belong to you in health, happiness and comfort and the consciousness of doing well -------- Amen ---
(signed) Theophilus DesBrisay