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years ago, with what they are now, in this goodly country of ours.
But to proceed: our venerable author, is not as a coldblooded satirist, who rather labors to excite the feeling of scorn and hatred, than of compassion. He gives, on the contrary, no countenance to covetous hoarding : much less to griping extortion. He saith not, 6 Since things are so, it is best to trust nobody.” No. So far was this ungracious sentiment from the heart of the son of Sirach, he warmly inculcates a noble liberality, a disinterested benevolence. For, after having observed as above, that many refused to lend for other men's ill dealing, fearing to be defrauded, he immediately adds, 6 Yet have thou patience with a man in poor estate, and delay not to shew him mercy. Help the poor
for the commandment's sake, and turn him not away because of his poverty. Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend, and let it not rust under a stone to be lost.” Again, in the same chapter he says, “ He that is merciful will lend unto his neighbor.”—“ Lend to thy neighbor in the time of his need.” And elsewhere, he cautions against a churlishuess of expression and manner in the act of giving, and, by parity of reason, in lending. “My son, blemish not thy good deeds, neither use uncomfortable words when thou givest." All which is accompanied with this wholesome injunction to the other party : “Pay thou thy neighbor again in due season. Keep thy word and deal faithfully with him, and thou shalt always find the thing that is necessary for thee.”
Upon the whole, then, it may be fairly concluded that the precious book now under consideration—which indeed possesses every venerable attribute, with the exception of inspiration alone—is very far from altogether discouraging the neighborly intercourse of borrowing and lending; seeing the scope of its lessons on this subject is to recommend moderation and scrupulous punctuality to the one class, and a humane and generous line of conduct to the other.
One may borrow occasionally and be the better for it, and at the same time the lender suffers no injury or inconvenience: but to banquet upon borrowing, is a
beggarly way of living. If thou hast nothing in thy purse, replenish it, if possible, with thy own earnings, rather than by borrowing; or if that be impossible for the present, yet be cautious against taking more than is needful, and ever be careful to pay it back in due time. For—to repeat the admonition aforecited—“ Pay thou thy neighbor again in due season. Keep thy word, and deal faithfully with him, and thou shalt always find the thing that is necessary for thee."
I intreat the reader's particular attention to the matter which I have just now rehearsed, since it comes from no ordinary authority, and is of superior excellence in itself. For the rest; the few observations that will follow must suffice.
In the simple old times of our author, borrowing at a premium, or on interest, was scarcely known. So that they who, in those days, banqueted on borrowing, must have done it, only in a small way, which bears no sort of comparison with the every day's experience of the present age. This thing has, with us, both individually and nationally, been carried to a wild and lamentable extreme, utterly unknown to former ages, and in any other country but one. But passing this over, what remains is, to consider the subject of borrowing, on the small scale, and according to the most general acceptation of the word.
In this sense of the term, one who borrows, contracts a debt, with respect to which, every principle of honesty and honor binds him to observe the utmost punctuality. For, the lender gives up the use of his property without fee or reward. Al he demands or expects is, that the thing be returned in good condition, and punctually, according to promise. Wherefore, a loan is a sort of sacred debt; and to delay payment, much more never to pay, though there be no want of power, is returning evil for good, injury for kindness.
* It is not more than about one hundred and thirty years since the commencement of England's national debt, which is now swollen to such an enormous magnitude that the annual product of all the gold and silver mines in the known world would be scarcely sufficient to pay its interests. What an awful warning to this American republic!
Would that this vexatious frailty of character were rare as it is common! And, in order to a radical reform in this important particular, much attention must be paid to it in the early season of education. It is a great deal easier to form the young mind to correct habits, than to cure it of bad ones once contracted. For which reason, children should be carefully taught to mind their promises, and more especially to restore whatever they borrow, good condition and by the set time. Nor is it enough, merely to give them precepts upon this subject; it must be wrought into their practice, even from their earliest years.
In conclusion; there is one description of borrowers, who may fitly be termed spongers. These are persons, who, out of pure stinginess, are in the habit of borrowing of their neighbors the necessary implements of their daily business. They think it cheaper to borrow than to buy. But, generally, in the long run, they are losers by it themselves; and, the mean while, in this way, they are giving a deal of trouble to those about them, whose smothered resentments are neither few nor small.
Of the principle of Shame.
No point is more clear, than that moral worth is superior to every thing else which bears the name of worth; that virtue in rags is more respectable than vice in brocade.
« In the drama of life it is not to be considered who among actors is prince or who is beggar, but who acts prince or beggar best.” So taught Epictetus, a celebrated philosopher of ancient Greece; and Pope has versified him in the following couplet:
" Honor and shame from no condition rise:
Act well your part; 'tis there true honor lies." All this is well said. That the point of honor lies not so much in having a grand or a conspicuous part to
act, but rather in acting well the part that Providence allots to us, is a position which admits of no dispute. But although it contradicts the theory of almost nobody, it is contrary to the practice of almost every body.
He that acts upon the stage of life a high part, will be courted, and he that acts a low part will be slighted; though the latter should very far excel the former in all that relates to the qualities of the heart. The man that comes in with the gold ring and in goodly apparel, is respectfully invited to sit here, in a good place; while the child of poverty, whose raiment is vile, is ordered to sit there, at the footstool; and that, without any regard to real merit or demerit. This is the fashion of the world; a fashion, which all do more or less follow.
It would in no wise be difficult to carry this train of thoughts to any reasonable length; since the subject is no less prolific, than evincive of the distempered condition of the world we live in. But all that I farther intend is, to remark, in few words, on Shame-understood not in the sense here given it by the poet, that is to say, as synonymous with dishonor or disgrace; but as denoting a certain kind of bosom sensation, utterly undescribable, and yet most clearly distinguishable from every other feeling of the heart.
Shame then, meaning the Sense of Shame, is one of the powerful principles of our fallen nature, and, like our other natural principles, it does good or mischief according to the direction it takes. It operates most powerfully in the seasons of childhood and youth, and operates, on the whole, much more good than ill; for it is a preventive of indecency and an incentive to laudable emulation. A diffident youth, if properly encouraged, will exert himself to arrive at such attainments as shall give him confidence : but an over confident one, being full of himself, thinks he has attained enough already, and of course becomes remiss. I believe it would be found upon a close inspection of mankind, in past ages as well as the present, that, of truly great and excellent characters, a very large proportion had felt the pains of diffidence, and displayed
upon their cheeks the blush of shame, in their juvenile days.
The most virtuous do nothing to be ashamed of before men,
and the most vicious are without shame. But between the utmost limits of human virtuousness on the one side, and viciousness on the other, there is a vast interval, which is filled up with mixed characters of
and upon them, well directed shame has a great and a powerful influence.—“Many who have not resolution enough to avoid a bad action, have yet feeling enough to be ashamed of it.” And that feeling of shame may prevent their repeating the misdeed : whereas, of an offender that is utterly shameless there is no hope.
Shame has a prodigious influence in enforcing the social laws of decency. Multitudes of People would not act so well as they do, if they were not ashamed to act worse. And it is better, at least for society, that they have the grace of shame, than no grace at all.
Vice loves the company of its like. And why? It is, that it may keep itself in countenance, or escape the confusion of shame. Vice is conscious deformity, and vicious persons are enabled to hold up their heads in society, chiefly from the knowledge or supposition that numbers about them are deformed like themselves. Whereas if one stood quite alone in the practice of vice, and at the same time had the eyes of the good upon him, he would, unless desperately hardened, be ashamed of himself. Hence, a notoriously vicious person, living in a place where all the rest were virtuous, would be impelled as it were of very shame, either to mend his ways, or to remove off to a more congenial society. In short, the benefits of shame are alike great, in number and in magnitude : so far forth, that it is questionable, whether, in the society of civilized man there be not more persons who act decently from the sense or fear of shame, than from the impulse of a sound moral principle.
This matter was well understood by the sophists of the last age, who, in the war they waged against Prejudiee, or rather in their nefarious efforts to banish from society, not only pure morals, but even the com