« ПретходнаНастави »
mon decencies of life, artfully directed their efforts particularly at the total extinction of the feeling of shame. And, for some time, this success was correspondent to their zeal. It is a recorded fact, that during the short-lived popularity of the writings of Mary Wolstoncraft, a blush incurred a penalty at several of the boarding schools for young ladies in England.
Here two things are to be observed very carefully in training up children :
1. Their natural sense of shame should not be put to trial too frequently, nor too severely. “Shame," says Mr. Locke, “is in children a delicate principle, which a bad nanagement of them presently extinguishes. If you shame them for every trespass, and especially if you do it before company, you will make them shameless. Moreover, if you expose them to excessive shame for their greater faults, they will be very likely to lose all shame, and if once lost it is gone irrecoverably. By tampering with this feeling too often or with a rough hand, children the most susceptible of shame, may be made quite callous to its influence."
2. Children should be guarded betimes against false shame, which, in all its multifarious ramifications, and, oftentimes, in the name, and under the disguise of honor, has done frightful mischiess to our misjudging and deluded race.
It may not be superfluous to add, that false shame, or the being ashamed of moral principle and the christian virtues, usually springs from the baneful influence of some of those
move in the higher regions of the community. Superior talents and fascinating manners, when ranged on the side of profligate vice, have a most powerful tendency to unmoralize society, and especially the youthful part of it. A single individual thus gifted, and thus profaning his gifts, may be the means of communicating moral pestilence to thousands; for every one that is corrupted by him becomes a corrupter of others, and the venom, transmitted from parent to child, goes down to distant posterity, and is still ulcerating the hearts of many, long after the original dispenser of it has been consumed and forgotten in his grave. Several ages elapsed ere the contagion from
the profligate examples of Charles II. and his polished courtiers, ceased to operate in England, if it has ceased to operate there even now.
Of virtuous poverty.
Nor needs that little long,'AND yet to possess but little, though it be quite enough for the real wants of nature, is deemed wretchedness. Poverty is, to many a delicate ear, one of the most frightful words in the whole vocabulary of our language; but it should be remembered that the word has several degrees of signification, and is really frightful in the extreme degree only.
It is true, the rags and filth, and the corresponding ignorance and depravity, so common in the abodes of squalid poverty, are objects of disgust and horror; as they exhibit human nature in its utmost deformity, without aught to shade the picture. The lazy poor, the vicious and profligate poor, compose a mass of wretchedness that is frightful indeed, and not only frightful, but loathsome; and no full measure of pity can be felt for the suffering which they bring upon themselves by their idle and vicious habits.
This is not, however, simple poverty, but poverty and the grossness of vice in alliance: and it is the latter that gives the former its hideous colouring. Virtuous poverty, on the other hand, however disrespected by a scornful world, is in sober truth, respectable. It has a moral gracefulness that is peculiarly its own.
It is not in the splendor of wealth, or on the lap of ease, that Man, considered as a moral being, usually exhibits the finest features of character. For the highest order of virtues can be developed only in a condition of considerable hardship or suffering ;-namely, the virtues of fortitude, self-denial, patience, humility and quiet resiguation. A family, that once had seen better
days, struggling with misfortune, suffering “the rich man's contumely,” and the neglect and scorn of former familiars, but suffering with fortitude and with pious resignation; a family always poor and accustomed to endure hardship, but of pure morals, industrious, honest, unrepining, contented, daily offering up thanks to God for that little which it enjoys; a Father, a Mother, oppressed with poverty, yet striving, with all the little means in their power, to school their children, and at the same time, both by precept and example, training them up, at home, in the way they should go ; these, to the moral ken, are among the most lovely spectacles that are ever exhibited in this fallen world. True, these humble virtues are like the flowers that “ blush unseen.” They are scarcely noticed, and much less admired; while thousands greet with admiration and applause, whatever of shining virtue the eye can descry in the ranks of wealth and grandeur.
The Rev. G. Crabbe, “the poet of reality, and of reality in low life," has portrayed, with masterly powers of description, both vicious and virtuous poverty-not from fancy, but from what he saw and knew. If the images of depravity, in his poem, The Borough, be too coarse, too naked, and too hideous, to excite other emotions than those of disgust, the images of virtue, which, also, were taken from the deepest shades
of poverty, possess almost unrivalled charms. The Tale, for instance, of the Sad Girl, a poor maid of the Borough, who, after waiting a long time in anxious expectation of the return of the young sailor that had promised to marry her, at length received him emaciated and mortally sick, and nursed him day and night with the utmost tenderness till he breathed his last: this tale, in point of heart-moving interest, perhaps has scarcely a rival in the history even
of romance and fiction. The following few lines of it show how venerable, how sacred, how lovely, is the cottage of the poor, when adorned with virtue and pure religion :
“ Still long she nurs'd him; tender thoughts meantime
With him she pray'd, to him his Bible read, Sooth'd the faint heart, and held the aching head: She came with smiles the hour of pain to cheer; Apart she sugh'd ; alone she shed the tear; Then, as if breaking from a cloud, she gave Fresh light, and gilt the prospect of the grave." Blessed indeed are such poor! and of such, the number is, in all probability, far greater than is generally imagined; the virtuous deeds and heavenly dispositions of the obscure children of poverty being very little known or noticed, save by the Omniscient Eye.
There are latent virtues, as well as latent vices, which are brought to light by circumstances; in the depths of adversity are shown estimable and amiable qualities, which nothing but adversity could disclose. The only perfect character that has ever appeared on the stage of this fallen world, was made perfect through suffering.* Even He could not have exhibited the sublime virtues which he did, had he not taken upon him the form of a servant, and passed his life under the sharpest trials of suffering humanity.
* Heb. ii. 10.
Of Frivolity of Character.
THERE are, of both sexes, a number of volatile persons, who bear a near resemblance to the little playsome birds that skip perpetually from bush to bush. Their attention is never fixed; their thoughts run upon every thing by turns, and stay upon nothing long. "In conversation they are unsettled and flighty; when they read," they gallop through a book like a child looking for pictures.
Characters of this sort abound in the upper regions of life, among those who had been badly educated, and have nothing to do; and, by a celebrated writer, they are admirably hit off in the following pictorial sketch of Vetusta :
“She is to be again dressed fine, and keep her visiting day; again to change the color of her clothes, again to have a new head, and again to put patches on her face. She is again to see who acts best at the play house, and who sings finest at the opera. She is again to make ten visits in a day, and be ten times in a day trying to talk artfully, easily, and politely, about nothing. She is again to be delighted with some new fashion, and again angry at the change of some old one. She is again to be at cards and gaming at midnight, and again in bed
at noon. She is to be again pleased with hypocritical i compliments, and again disturbed at imaginary affronts.
She is to be again pleased at her good luck at gaming, and again tormented with the loss of her money. She
is again to prepare herself for a birth night, and again ! to see the town full of company. She is again to hear
the cabals and intrigues of the town; again to have seîcret intelligence of private amours, and early notices of marriages, quarrels, and partings.”
Such is the description of an elderly fashionable lady, of the London stamp; a description, which, under the fictitious name of a single individual, was meant to embrace a large class.
Nor is it only in the regions of fashion and high life, that frivolity of character is seen; though, there, it has the strongest stimulants and the most ample means of displaying itself. Fortunate are they, on whom is imposed the salutary necessity of doing something valuable with their existence; whose daily occupations, as well as worldly circumstances, withhold them from an imitation of those called the great, but : who, by their frivolous pursuits, render themselves least among the little.
A fighty, frivolous turn of mind, is owing partly to nature, partly to education, and partly to habit.
Every body that is observant, must have seen that soine children are more sedate, and others more volatile; and that the latter, during their infantile years, are peculiarly pleasing for their pert vivacity. They perforin childish things in the most engaging manner. And not in child wood only do they gratify and please; in the following stage of early youth there is a charm