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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 ;
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
desires and wishes be quite the reverse of all this; why then, take care against learning your ehildren, 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 spermanent and lasting. Never let it be out of your memories, that 6 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 liis 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 vå
ture. The just man, one of stern integrity, but of a cold heart, does not gain upon our affections like the good man, whose warm benevolence is seen in deeds of charity, and in the whole round of social and relative duties. The incorruptible integrity and stern inflexibility of Cato, we admire, whilst we actually love the mild virtues of gratitude and compassion, and an unaffected benignity of disposition.
One of the features of human character, which peculiarly delight and charm every heart of common sensibility, is the pious affection of children to their parents: nor is it too much to say, that the divine promise of worldly good to those who honor their father and their mother, relates, in part, to the good will of mankind, with which filial piety is almost always rewarded in greater or less degrees. As scarce any thing is regarded with more general abhorrence and detestation than cruelty of children to their parents, or is more frequently punished even in this world by some remarkable retaliation of Providence; so, on the other hand, filial attentions conciliate favour and multiply friends. A daughter, who, with affectionate assiduity nurses and consoles her father or her mother, in the decrepitude of old age, in sickness and in sorrow,-a son, who bestows a liberal share of liis labor, or his income, to the support of his needy parents--children who thus discharge the debt of kindness and tenderness, rarely fail to find friends in time of need.
These remarks are made as an introduction to the following story, which, though it has a romantic appearance, may be credited as matter of fact.
In the former part of the last century, there lived in a large seaport in France, a merchant, who had carried on trade with equal honor and prosperity, till he was turned of fifty; and then, by sudden and unavoidable losses, found himself unable to comply with his engagements; and his wife and children, in whom he placed his principal earthly happiness, reduced to such a situation as doubled his distress.
« His sole resource that situation was the reflection, that upon the strictest review of his own conduct, nothing either of iniquity or imprudence appeared.
He thought it best therefore to repair to Paris, in order to lay a true state of his affairs before his creditors, that being convinced of his honesty, they might be induced to pity his misfortunes, and allow him a reasonable space of time to settle his affairz. He was kindly received by some, and very civilly by all ; from whence he received great hopes, which he communicated to his family. But these were speedily dashed by the cruelty of his principal creditor, who caused him to be seized and sent to gaol.
“ As soon as this melancholy event was known in the country, his eldest son, who was turned of nineteen, listening only to the dictates of filial piety, came post to Paris, ,and threw himself at the feet of the obdurate creditor, to whom he painted the distress of the family in the most pathetic terms, but without effect. At length in the greatest agony of mind, he said, “Sir, since you think nothing can compensate for your loss, but a victim, let your resentment devolve upon me. Let me suffer instead of my father, and the miseries of prison will seem light in procuring the liberty of a parent, to console the sorrows of a distracted and dejected family, that I have left behind me. Thus, sir, you will satisfy your vengeance, without sealing their irretrievable ruin.'-And there his tears and sighs stopped his utterance.
" His father's creditor beheld him upon his knees, in this condition, for a full quarter of an hour. He then sternly bid him rise and sit down, which he obeyed.The gentleman then walked from one side of the room to the other, in great agitation of mind, for about the same space of time. At length throwing his arms about the
young man's neck, “I find, said he, there is yet something more valuable than money : I have an only daughter, for whose fate I. bave the utmost anxiety. I am resolved to fix it; in marrying you she must be happy. Go, carry your father's discharge, ask his consent, bring him instantly hither, and let us bury in the joy of this alliance, all remembrance of what has formerly happened."
Of the inestimable benefits of Law. Of all human institutions, that of Law is of primary importance. The benefit of government consists not so much in its being a guard against external, as against internal violence. For it is not certain that a people living without government would be invaded from abroad; but it is quite certain they would invade, pillage, and murder one another, at home. In every age, and in every country, man, unfettered by law, has been a tiger to man. Not but that, at all times and in all countries, there have been some persons inclined of their own free will to do aright; but their number and strength have never been sufficient to stem the torrent of violence without aids from the arm of civil government. So far from it, where anarchy has prevailed, the more virtuous have ever been its marked victims.
If we trace back the streams of time as far towards the source as there are any lights furnished us from history, we shall find that no tyranny has been so horrible as that of anarchy. In the antediluvian ages, in which no regular government of general extent was perhaps known, “ the earth was filled with violence." Those giants, those men of renown, só termed by the sacred penman, were, there is reason to think, daring and mighty robbers, who, at the head of their companies of bandits, traversed the countries; committing pillage and murders, wherever they went.
In the patriarchal ages there were men of exalted piety, who ruled well their own children and domestics. But even then, well-regulated civil government, was scarcely known any where; else the most venerable patriarch could hardly have been so distressed with fear for the honor of his aged wise, and lest he should himself be murdered on her account, when they were journeying together to Egypt, which at that time was the most renowned for arts and sciences of any country in the world.
There were periods of the like anarchy and its lor