Слике страница
PDF
ePub

In

ending entailment, the baneful disease of sloth, upon particular families; yet excessive wealth operates, not unfrequently, the like effects. After a gatherer comes a scatterer”-is a proverbial saying, which, in whatever country it originated, is no where, perhaps, more strikingly matter-of-fact, than in our own. deed nothing can be more paturan than the process. The “gatherer," if he have gathered a very large hoard, is of course a man of great worldly prudence; but so far from being able to bequeath that quality to his children, the single circumstance of their being set up in the world with fortunes, has an almost irresistible tendency to render them imprudent. and improvident. You cannot put the old head upon

the

young shoulders. You can hardly convince the rich-born youth, that much care and attention will be necessary on his part, properly to husband the fortune that falls to him. There is more than an even chance that he will be either carelessly indolent, or prodigally dissipated; that he will either waste his time in idleness, or spend it in vain, if not vicious, pursuits.

The vanity of wealth, will alike affect his children, and his children's children, who will feel themselves quite above the ordinary occupations of life. Meanwhile the family estate will have been divided and subdivided, till the share of each becomes very small. A sort of stateliness, is, however, kept up in their narrow circumstances, and even in their poverty. They preserve, with a sort of religious reverence, old pictures, little fragments of plate, or some precious memorial of what once was. For the pride of family, founded altogether upon wealth, seldom suffers much abatement by the ruin of that foundation. Thus it is that the needy descendants of a very rich family are in a far, worse condition than most others of the sons and daughters of want; since the indolence of their habits and the magnificence of their notions, alike incapacitate them for procuring a comfortable livelihood, and for enjoying the little they possess.

It is a calamity to want an aim ; and to this is owing the ruin of many of our youth. Unaccustomed to any kind of regular industry, and having no particular aim, nothing present to occupy their time, or in prospect to engage their attention ; they hie to the haunts of dissipation and vice, to relieve themselves from the insup.. portable lassitude of idleness.

CHAP. XXXVII.

[ocr errors]

Of the lamentable species of helplessness occasioned by

Pride and false Shame. LEARN your children to help themselves, is a practical maxim deserving more general notice than it ever yet has obtained, or peradventure ever will obtain, among the little great of this world. The highest and most important part of the art of teaching is to learn the

young mind to think for itself, and to exercise and exert its faculties of judgment and understanding, as well as of memory; for these faculties grow and increase only by exercise. The less they are exercised in childhood, the more feeble they become in manhood. And besides, one who has been unwonted to the exertions of thought in the early years of life, commonly lacks all disposition to accustom himself to it after. wards; it being a kind of labor which early habit makes pleasant, but which early neglect renders intolerably irksome.

And as children should be led to think for themselves, or to exert those faculties which pertain to the mind only ; so also should they be inured to the exercise of those mixed faculties that call forth the exertion of the mind and body conjointly.. This class of exercises is of more easy performance, especially in childhood, than the other. It is altogether natural too; and it tends to give vigor and alertness alike to the mental and the corporeal frame. If children be made to help themselves as soon and as much as they are able, it wonderfully conduces to the improvement of their faculties, and has at the same time a favorable influence upon their dispositions; while on the other hand, if they are taught to depend altogether on others, the rust of sloth

[ocr errors]

and the canker of pride, will be very apt to spoil whatever of excellence nature has bequeathed to them.

Childhood and youth, are periods of life which materially influence all its' following periods. Whether these early years be passed in torpid indolence, or in well directed industry, is a point on which greatly depends the worth or the worthlessness of human characters. What man or what woman that has a relish for intellectual pleasure, but can trace that relish down to the days of childhood ? Where is the man who guides his affairs with discretion, or the woman that “ looketh well to the ways of her household," and yet was not in some measure imbued with industrious and provident dispositions in early life? On the other hand, who that had been treated, till the age of twenty, like an helpless infant, and had every want supplied without being put to either mental or bodily exertions, was ever good for much afterwards ? I freely admit indeed that there are some honorable exceptions; but they are like the few exceptions to a well established general rule.

It is the inisfortune of high rank and great wealth, that the children of families so distinguished are often treated as helpless till they become so in reality. They must have waiters to do for them a multitude of little things which it would be greatly for their benefit to do for themselves. They must be served with such assiduity as almost to supersede the use of their own limbs. They have feet, but they walk not; hands have they, but they use them not. And are they happy ? No: it is of the nature of this kind of training up to render them discontented, peevish and querulous, all their lives, even though fortune should never forsake them. And if they chance to fall into poverty, they are wretched indeed, -no less incapable than unwilling to earn a livelihood by industry.

But the sum of the mischief would not be near sa great if it were confined altogether to families of high rank and great wealth; for these are comparatively very few. It is the ardent desire of aping the stateliness of rank and the pomp of wealth, that occasions ihe commonness of this perverted education and the mass of wretchedness which follows it.

Madam is a branch of what had been called a good family. The estate is run out, and she is poor and dependent.-She retains, however, some precious relics of former splendor. With these she feeds her vanity. Not unfrequently she boasts, that never in all her life did she defile her hands with labor; and she would swoon at the thought that one of her maiden daughters should descend to the business of a milliner, or that the other should marry a substantial tradesman.

Mrs. has no rich ancestry or great connexions to boast of, and her worldly circumstances are but indifferent; but the darling wish of her heart is the elevation of her children. Wherefore, she toils day and night, gives herself no rest, for the goodly purpose of bringing up her daughters in genteel idleness.

Not a few, but numerous are the instances of those who spontaneously encounter dolorous straits and bardships, merely through the instigation of vanity and pride. Comfortable, if not happy, might they be, if they would only discard these foes to their peace and consumers of their substance. And what makes it the more strange, these same persons, in other respects, are in their sober senses, and some of them not only rational but

agreeable; it is only in this one particular that they show marks of insanity.

CHAP. XXXVIII.

Of the Proper and Improper, as depending upon the

diverse circumstances and ages of life.

The love of propriety, along with an accurate perception of the difference between the proper and the improper, is an estimable quality in human beings; for thougb it is not virtue in its best and highest sense, it is virtue's shield and ornament. To woman in particular, it is a pledge of honor and diadem of beauty.

There are women who, without any extraordinary strength of intellect or advantages of education, dis

a woman.

0

Gover a sort of intuitive or instinctive perception of propriety, on all occasions and under all circumstances-far surpassing, in that particular, most men of even talents and learning. Solomon, with a single stroke of his pencil, has given us the portraiture of such

She cpeneth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Here are blended two characteristic traits, of which, neither would show well by itself. Discretion, unaccompanied with kindness—mere selfish cold hearted discretion, whether found in man or woman, has very little claim to commendation. She is a woman but in name, that has no heart in her bosom. On the other hand, kindness is very liable to error, and even to fatal error, when it lacks the guidance of discretion. Whereas the union of these two qualities, crowned, withal, with that essential requisite, the fear of the Lord-renders female character alike respectable and lovely. A woman of this description, though destitute of the advantages of beauty, youth, wealth, or wit, is an ornament to the human family; while, to her own family, she is one of the first of blessings.

The laws of propriety not only comprise all the laws of morality-for nothing that is immoral can be proper -but they reach to a vast variety of things that, in themselves, are indifferent :-their propriety or impropriety depending on time, place, age, circumstances or cases, without name or number. Far from attempting to explore this boundless field, I shall but mention two articles culled from it.

First, what may be quite proper for some persons, may be very improper for others. For instance, it is proper for the rich, if they choose it, to make the appearance of riches, in their buildings, their furniture, the elegances of their tables, the superior quality of their apparel, or in any lawful way, which their circumstances can well afford. If a rich man make him great works—if he build him costly houses--if he plant him fine gardens, furnished with pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees," –or if he array his household in splendid apparel ;—there is no impropriety in all this, provided the clear income of

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »