Слике страница

contemptible in character; a barden to their friends, and a heavier burden to themselves.

Mark the young beginner in the career of profligacy; one not of the baser, nor even of the common sort-a child of fortune. How accomplished ! how blithe and jovial!

Mark him again, in his next stage, when youth is just ripened into the maturity of manhood.

“If thou beest he, but O how fallen? how changed!”


See his bloated countenance, his livid cheek, his beamless eye!

Once more, mark his mid-age. The crop is now fully ripe. See what it is !-squalid poverty; loathsome disease; bodily decrepitude and mental imbecility; alike loathsome and self-loathing.

Finally, mark his end. This man of pleasure, when, after a wretched scene of vanity and woe, his animal Irature is worn to the stumps, wishes and dreads death, by turns."--Now he is sick of life, and bitterly chides the tardiness of time:-anon he starts back with horror, lest the grave should

prove a

"dreamless bed." The classes of downright drunkards and debauchees, include, however, but a small proportion of the hapless mortals whom the siren Pleasure, allures to their ruin and destruction.

“Come on, let us enjoy the good things that are present. Let us crown ourselves with rose-buds, before they be withered."* With such language it is that the sorceress persuades and prompts the youthful heart; nor does she persuade and prompt in vain. The delicious poison insinuates itself, and spreads over the whole frame. The youth, thus infected, becomes unstable in all his ways. All close and steady application, whether to study or business, he heartily loathes. Plodding industry of every kind, he regards with scorn. To make as it were a holiday of the whole year round, is the object of bis desire and the summit of his ambition. As years multiply upon him, his habits of fickleness are

* 2d chapter of the Wisdom of Solomon


out the more riveted. He is within the circumference of a whirlpool, with a heart and mind too enervated to force his way back. Perhaps he remains, bowever, on the extremity, and never, in his whole life, is drawn to the fatal centre, where is utter wreck of reputation and of the whole moral frame. Perhaps he escapes the grosser vices. Perhaps no foul blot cleaves to his character, and the worst which can be said of him is, that he is a careless, imprudent, and improvident man, a devoted lover of jolly company; that he is here, and there, and every where, except at home and about his own proper business.

Lucky indeed, if he be no worse off; but lucky as he is, he must needs be a poor man; poor in worldly circumstances, and of a character almost worthless at the best. If left with a fortune, it melts away in his improvident hands. If he begins the world without fortune, he lays up nothing for sickness and old

age ; stead of which, he ever lives beyond his income, by sponging his friends, and abusing the confidence of his creditors. If he have a family, his wife mingles her scanty meal with her tears, while their children receive little from him but an example that powerfully tends to lead them astray. In short, he is exactly such as no downright honest and honorable man would choose to be. If all were like him, poverty, wretchedness, and misery, would pervade the whole fabric of human sQc ciety.

To extract cordials to the mind from the alembick of pleasure, every art has been tried, but tried in vain : each attempt produces, uniformly, the same result, which may be summed up in the same pithy expression, This also is vanity.A lover of pleasure, even one of the comparatively innocuous sort last mentioned, seldom enjoys his proportionable share of that commodity. At best, his empty pleasure is so mixt up with vexation of spirit, that he more abundantly feels the one than enjoys the other. Not to mention, that an idle, useless life, however free from gross immorality, is, in the sight of heaven, a criminal life; it is burying the talent that ought to be employed diligently, and to usefal purposes.

We have received our earthly existence, not on co. ditions of our own prescribing, but on the conditions prescribed by Him who made us. With respect to the present life, as well as the future one, it is to be expected that the quality of the harvest will be the same as that of the seed. If we sow the seed of idleness and prodigality, we shall reap the tares of poverty and shame. There is no such thing as abolishing, or bending, or evading the fixed laws of nature; whether we like them or not, they will go steadily into effect.

See you a young man, diligent in his business, frugal, provident and sober? You see one who will be respected and respectable; who, in all probability, will enjoy, through life, at least a competence, and who will be a blessing to his family, to his friends, and to society at targe. On the other hand, when you see young men idle, improvident, extravagant, averse from all regular and close attention to useful business, and practically saying, in the general course of their lives,“ Go to now, let us enjoy pleasure;" you then see such as are speeding, if not to atrocious crimes, at least to the condition of beggarly want; such as will wring the hearts of fathers, mothers, wives, and children ; such as will be moths upon society, rather than its useful and worthy members.

Even worldly interest, imperatively requires selfdenial. One who can deny himself of nothing, will be good for nothing, however excellent be his talents, and however great his advantages. To learn youths the art of self-denial, is one of the essential branches of good education. That is best done by storing their minds, seasonably, with the precepts, prohibitions, and warnings, contained in the Holy Bible. Next to this, they should by all means be kept from contracting habits of idleness and dissipation, and be so inured to some kind of laudable industry, that their very toil, whether of business or of study, will at length be a pleasure.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Of Vanity, as making part of the warp of our general


open with.


[ocr errors]

VANITY, or the undefinable human quality called by that name, being the subject now under consideration, the following facetious little story is somewhat proper to

The Baron de Tott, happening to come, suddenly, into the company of a knot of Turkish ladies, who, from the custom of their country and the precepts of their re

ligion, were in duty bound to be veiled always in the Ti presence of strangers of the other sex; he remarks, in

the book of his travels, that the elderly matrons made haste to veil themselves, but the young and the hand

some remained with their faces uncovered for some time # after his entrance. ed

Now if this be a notable instance of female nature, it springs, nevertheless, from a principle belonging to the general nature of our species, and which operates with nearly equal force, in both sexes. It is not Woman alone, that is vain : -“Surely every Man walketh in a vain show”—at least in some one respect or other.

It is truly wonderful that a creature like man should be affected with the tumor of vanity; a creature so frail and feeble, so entirely the reverse of unerring wisdom and the perfection of inoral rectitude-yet so it is. There scarcely is any single ingredient that more thoroughly pervades human nature, an the one that goes by the general name of Vanity. Hence it was to vanity that the cunning tempter addressed his temptation in the garden, with such deplorable success; and to vanity he addressed his temptations in the wilderness, where he was so signally foiled. He knew the weakest side of humanity, and there made his attacks.

The strange quality called vanity, is a particular modification of the general principle of selfishness, and is exactly the reverse of the scriptural precept, Let each esteem other better than himself. It would be difficult to define it, and still more difficult to describe it,

“ We may see

in all its symptoms, and trace it throughout all its nu. merous branches: and yet, if you observe, with a close and discriminating eye, it is impossible to mistake it; for to the mind's ken, it is clearly visible, in its every shape, however undefinable and indescribable.

Vanity is as it were “the froth of pride," and is distinguishable from downright unmixed pride, which is stiff and unbending: whereas vanity is flexible, and bends any way, and every way, to set itself off.* But though vanity is different in some respects from pride, it has, in its nature, perhaps quite as much selfishness; self-display being its constant and invariable object, or rather the pole-star, towards which its every thought and every action tend.

Although the principal food of vanity, is wealth, rank, learning, wit, beauty, eloquence, strength, valor, or the whatever something that distinguishes the individual from the multitude; yet it can live, and thrive, on food of almost every kind and nature. vanity living in a hovel, vanity clothed in rags, vanity begging by the way, vanity conjoined with bodily ugliness and deformity;" it is to be found, as well in savage, as in civilized life, as well amongst the squalid and beggarly race of gypsies, as in polished society. In a word, it can find nourishment and gratification in all extremnes—in the haggard looks and squalid habiliments of a hermit, provided they confer distinctionas much as in brocades, pearls, and diamonds. It is quite as much gratified with the distinction of Humility, as with that of loftiness and splendor. If a Cardinal of the Romish church is vain of the lofty title, His Eminence, the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople is probably no less vain of the humble title, His Lowli

Nor was the vanity of the most lordly and aspiring of all the Popes of Rome, ever more gratified, perhaps, than when, under the gaze of the public, they were employed, upon their knees, in washing the feet of some of their beggarly vassals. In sober truth, vani


*Unmingled pride is portrayed with no less truth than genius, in the Coriolanus of Shakespeare, and in the Princes of the fallen angels of Milton.

« ПретходнаНастави »