Addresses to Young Men

Description

Addresses to Young Men is a collection of 16 sermons written and compiled by the Reverend James Fordyce, a Scottish minister. The sermons cover subjects such as honour, love, friendship, humility and fame. The collection was published in 1777, the year after the publication of Fordyce’s hugely popular Sermons to Young Women. This is the two-volume second edition, published in the same year as the original edition.

What values does it promote?

Addresses to Young Men emphasises the important role that young men have in shaping society. Because of this, they deserve respect from others and should respect themselves; Addresses I and II are titled, respectively, 'On the Respect due to Young Men' and 'On the Reverence which Young Men owe to themselves'. Fordyce describes ‘self-reverence’ as ‘one of the first and most comprehensive rules of right practice’. However, this must be mixed with humility, which is the subject of Address XV. He places the virtues he admires within a Christian framework, referring repeatedly to God, biblical stories and the importance of religious piety. He also stresses how easily young men can be led astray by bad influences.

Comparing Addresses to Young Men and Sermons to Young Women

The emphasis on self-esteem in Addresses to Young Men is very different from Fordyce’s message in Sermons to Young Women, in which he urges his female readers to be obedient and meek. In A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft criticises Sermons to Young Women, protesting that ‘moralists’ such as Fordyce expect all women to have the same character of ‘yielding softness and gentle compliance’, whereas they allow men ‘to cultivate, as nature directs, different qualities and assume … different characters’. Fordyce exhibits this attitude towards men in Addresses to Young Men, writing that there is a ‘great diversity’ in the personalities of young men, and as a result each one must be treated differently, according to his particular ‘tendencies and manners’.

Full title:
Addresses to Young Men
Published:
1777, London
Format:
Book
Creator:
James Fordyce
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
RB.23.a.34748

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Status, rank and class in Jane Austen's novels

Article by:
John Mullan
Theme:
The novel 1780–1832

Questions of status and class are a major preoccupation of Jane Austen’s characters, and of the novels themselves. Professor John Mullan considers both the importance of social status and its satirical potential.

An introduction to Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

Article by:
Margaret Doody
Themes:
Gender and sexuality, Rise of the novel, Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded evolved from a collection of model letters into a bestselling novel. Margaret Doody introduces Samuel Richardson's work and its exploration of gender, class, sexual harassment and marriage.

Jane Austen and social judgement

Article by:
Kathryn Sutherland
Theme:
The novel 1780–1832

Jane Austen’s characters are continually watching, judging and gossiping about others and, in turn, are watched, judged and gossiped about. Professor Kathryn Sutherland explores the ways in which behaviour and etiquette are closely monitored in the novels, and how characters must learn to be skilful readers of those around them.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

Pamela

Created by: Samuel Richardson

Pamela overview I will bear any thing you can inflict upon me with Patience, even to the laying down of my Life, to ...

Tom Jones

Created by: Henry Fielding

Tom Jones is a picaresque story that chronicles the humorous escapades, romances and redemption of its roguish ...

Pride and Prejudice

Created by: Jane Austen

During 1796–7 young Jane Austen (1775–1817) wrote First Impressions. Her early effort was rejected, but ...