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They are so squeamish, that scarcely any thing, or any company, can satisfy them. This fastidious dislike to all about them, they mistake for delicacy; not aware that it has its roots in the morbid condition of their tempers. Self-torment is ever the consequence of this unamiable disposition: one who labors under this disease of temper, suffers innumerable disquietudes and disgusts with which the rest of mankind are not disturbed.
Others turn the sweets which they enjoy, to gall and wormwood, by their peevishness; daily repining and fretting about something, no matter how trivial. Though Providence deals kindly with them, they are making wry faces at Providence almost every wakeful hour of their lives. Others, again, though not peevish, are querulous, and whine to be pitied. All their little personal troubles they carefully treasure in the memory, to be served up as colloquial banquets for their friends and acquaintance.
Some can relish none of the dishes upon the bounteous table which Providence spreads, because they have not a distinguished seat there; while others, who are seated at, or near, the head of that table, suffer the pains of satiety, and are sinking under the burden of themselves-a burden the most intolerable, and which no worldly affluence can lighten or alleviate.
In short, without noting down in the catalogue greeneyed envy, that consuming plague of the heart, or any other passion which has in itself the blackness of vice, we shall find that the greatest number, and the most annoying, of the enemies of our peace, are in our own bosoms. How many, who are now dissatisfied and wretched in their feelings, would be uncomplaining, contented, cheerful, and thankful, if they had but one tenth of the philosophy of Sadi!
Of Custom, as respects Individuals and whole Communi
"Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclin'd."
Ir can hardly be imagined, how much we are under the power of custom : it blinds and fixes our inclination in almost any direction. That which we are accustomed to, acquires our attachment, and we are uneasy without it. If our customary food has been plain, simple, or coarse, it is sweet to our taste: on the other hand, if we have been accustomed altogether to dainties, we shall feel a kind of loathing for ordinary provisions. The Black Broth of the Spartans, was, to them, delicious, though loathsome to every body else.
I once dined at an inn, in company with a lady who had "fared sumptuously every day." It was a plain dinner, and substantially good, but not such as she had been accustomed to; and the very sight of it threw her into tragical distress. She was not hectical, nor in any manner sickly. Her form was the index of nothing less than of habitudes of abstemiousness. But alas! her stomach turned against every thing. She barely tasted of this, of that, and of the other morsel, and laying down her knife and fork, her visage could scarcely have been more rueful had she been under the hands of the executioner.
Man is said to be "a bundle of habits." And what is habit? Habit is the bias we acquire for what we are accustomed to; whether it relates to the body, or the mind, or both. As by frequency of repetition we become more ready and expert in whatever we have to do; so, also, by frequency of repetition, the appetite, the taste, the inclination, acquire a settled direction that way. Nay, if the thing we are accustomed to gives us little or no pleasure, its absence gives us pain.
"I remember," says the far-famed Burke, "to have frequented a certain place every day, for a long time.
together; and I may truly say, that so far from finding pleasure in it, I was affected with a sort of weariness and disgust; I came, I went, I returned, without pleasure; yet if by any means I passed by my usual time of going thither, I was remarkably uneasy, and was not quiet till I got into my old track."-And he proceeds to say, They who use snuff take it almost without being sensible that they take it, and the acute sense of smell is deadened so as to feel hardly any thing from so sharp a stimulus; yet, deprive the snuff-taker of his box, and he is the most uneasy mortal in the world."
It might indeed be shown, in a great variety of instances, some of an indifferent, and others of a moral nature, that being accustomed to a thing, induces, for the most part, such a settled habit as is aptly denominated a second nature. But my object is to apply the general principle to the all important concern of educa
Training up a child in the way he should go, consists not altogether in pointing out the way, but also, and chiefly, in accustoming him to walk therein. As the tree grows up straight, or crooked, according to the direction given it when a plant, so, in a great measure, it is with animal nature. Of this truth we are deeply sensible, in its application to the inferior animals, and our practice accords with our way of thinking. In training up young animals for use, a colt, for instance, or one of the canine breed, much care is taken to break them of their faults, and to render them docile, and such as we wish them to be at a mature age. Because experience teaches us, that if their faults are permitted to grow up with them, they will become inveterately fixed, and exceeding hard to cure. We know that if the one be suffered to kick, and the other to snarl and bite, at every body that comes near, or if any other mischievous trick be permitted to " grow with their growth," it would be unreasonable to expect to fashion them aright when age shall have matured and confirmed their ill habits, and redoubled their cbstinacy. Rightly judging on this point, we are practical, because, forsooth, it would be a pity the young animal should be spoiled for want of attention to his breeding.
How much less care in this respect, is ordinarily paid to the human offspring! Not that we are sparing of pains and expense for the purpose of imbuing the young mind with the rudiments of learning: But having done this, we unscrupulously leave undone a still more important part, namely, the care to settle those habits, without which the possession of learning can turn to no good account.
It is absurd to expect that children accustomed to do evil, will, in after-life, learn to do well; no less than to look for the growth of a fragrant flower in the spot where you had dropped only the seed of a thistle, For the generality of human beings are such, or nearly such, as early custom had fashioned them; no animal being more wilful, more obstinate in the wrong, or harder to be cured of the ill habits which early custom had rivetted.
Consider it, ye, who are parents of young children. If it be your choice that they should be idle, rear them up in idleness. If you would render them helpless all their days, never compel nor permit them to help themselves. If you wish them to be fastidious and squeamish about their food, feed them daily with dainties.
If you would entail upon their mature age the illhumors of sullenness, obstinacy and peevishness, indulge and foster these wayward propensities during their childhood. If you admire a quarrelsome, a violent, a revengeful spirit, permit their little hands to strike, and their little tongues to lisp out rage; it can do no harm, and is fine sport to see it! Again, if you would breed them up for cheats and liars, laugh at their cunning tricks, their artful falsehoods and equivocations; or if you rebuke them, let them see withal that you are more pleased with their wit, than displeased at the inceptive marks of their depravity.
But if your desires and wishes be quite the reverse of all this; why then, take care against learning your children, what it will be necessary for them to unlearn at a riper age. Take care to make such impressions on their tender infancies as you would wish should be permanent and lasting. Never let it be out of your memories, that "habits woven into the very principles
of their nature, are unspeakably better than mere rules and lessons, which they so easily forget.".
Before I conclude this chapter, I will notice, in few words, the despotic empire of custom viewed on the general scale. In communities and whole countries, its power is paramount to that of law; so that the formidable despots who had attempted to change the customs of ther vassals by force, failed in almost every instance. Nor does it make any material difference, though the custom is ever so absurd, immoral, or barbarous; if it be long established, and deep rooted in the community, it is adhered to with invincible obstinacy. A young Hindoo being reproved for assisting at the horrible ceremony when his own mother was burnt upon the funeral pile, he replied, "What can I do? It is the custom."
We view with mingled emotions of pity and horror, the blind infatuation of this poor pagan; and yet, in our own enlightened country, and even in the highest departments of society, there frequently occurs what is no less revolting and horrible.
See yonder scene of unmingled wo: a widowed mother frantic with grief and ghastly horror: her little orphans folded in her arms, or clinging to her raiment, and blending with her's their infantine shrieks. Before them lies the bloody corpse of the husband and father. The duel in which he fell, was revolting to his moral sense. But what could he do? It is the custom!
Let universal detestation betide it. Is this hideous custom to be longer tolerated in a land overspread with the wings of Emmanuel! Has the time not yet come for unanimous public opinion to frown indignantly upon it, till it frowns it out of existence!
Of one of the many remarkable instances, of divine Providence rewarding filial piety.
THE mind's eye dwells with less complacency on the severe, than upon the milder virtues, of human ua