Графични страници
PDF файл

fixing or attaining their utmost force and permanence. The leading features of the character will then be strongly marked, and whether the cast be either virtuous or vicious, it will be wrought into the whole mental constitution. Vicious habits will be grown so obstinate, that no material sudden change can be effected in them, except indeed by some violent effort which 'fhocks and debilitates the whole frame. Virtuous ones will have acquired their utmost stability and vigour, the enthufialm of which is gradually chaftened, and their sensuality purified by the grave meditations of declining age.

We shall first consider the influence of parental in. struction and example upon the minds of children. It is a general fact, (though not without some striking exceprions) that those who have been blessed with pious and virtuous parents, experience the good effects of it through the whole course of their lives. The example and instructions of the parents being daily and perpetually exhibited to the children during their earliest years, leave such an indelible impression on their minds as can never afterwards be effaced. That affectionate concern and assiduous attention which characterize the con. duct of virtuous parents toward their children, begets a gratitude and ardour of affection in their

young which can scarce ever forsake them. Toward all persons and all objects the genial affection is extended - in different degrees, and with different modulations, according to the relations of persons and the nature of objects. Filial affection, when cultivated in its due ardour and purity, will ascend by a moft easy and natural tranfition to the universal parent! It will be extended toward relations, acquaintance, and even ftrangers, with a fincerity and delicacy which diftinguish an affectionate mind. It will survey the brute creation with an humane benevolence, which can be better conceived than expressed. Even inanimate objects will sometimes attract the overflowings of affection, and become the means of exciting gratitude and admiration, and of fulfilling the



designs of kindness and benevolence, which are sometimes transferred to the objects themselves.

Such is the influence of parental example and instruction (especially where the mutual attachment has been great), that the very shades of character and of dispolition in parents are often observable in their children. Affectionate parents, provided their affection does not degenerate into a foolish fondness on the one hand, nor into an unfeasonable austerity on the other, have generally affectionate children. "But the children of those who are deficient in affection are generally no less retijarkable for a cold, unfeeling hardiness of temper. Affection, and the want of it, being the two great charac, teristics which distinguish good and bad parents, are of the most general influence in forming correspondent dispositions in their children.

But there are several other moral qualities which probably, in proportion to the degree of attachment between parents and their children, have a powerful in. fluence in forming their characters. The love of money, in particular, as it has often so powerful an effect on the minds of individuals, so it is often entailed on their descendants. Sometimes, indeed, the real or suspected avarice of the parent may have a contrary effect upon the son, impelling him, through prejudice and disgust, into the contrary extreme of prodigality. But where there is any considerable degree of reverence and affcction (the contrary of which may be a ftill more radical evil), the immoral taint can scarcely avoid extending its unamiable influence over the young and tender mind. Avarice, indeed, is very discordant with the generous ardour of youth, and therefore it not unfrequently gives rise to a prejudice and coldness of affection toward the parent, which terminates in some opposite vice. Ori. ginating in the considerate care and anxiety of advancing age, and being often augmented by increasing gain, and apprehension of loss, it is afterwards inculcated by example and precept upon the young mind. As soon as A a 2


[ocr errors]

the intellect can comprehend the dull doctrine, and the generous fpirit submits to its restraints, it is industriously inftilled ! Ensamples of the fordid spirit are daily exhibited; the lessons of avarice, under the more decent garb of prudence, are perpetually inculcated ; till at length, to gain, and to keep, become the objects towards which the mind and the affections are continually directed, Thus the generous eniotions to which they are opposed are almost overwhelmed, and gradually disappear !

Parents generally impart a considerable degree of their own peculiar genius and disposition to the minds of their children. A man of scientific and enlarged mind, who is at the same time an affectionate and assiduous parent or instructor, sows the seeds of science and refinement in their young

minds. This he does, not only by expressly assuming the office of a teacher, but by the usual turn of his conversation, in which, accommodating himfelf to their respective capacities, he endeavours with an engaging manner to combine entertainment and useful in, Iruction. The knowledge which is imparted in this way frequently makes the deepest and best impression ; being often a seasonable gratification of youthful curio. fity delivered with a freedom from the stiffness and au. sterity of obligation.

The importance of early connections is well known. The characters of seniors among relatives, must of course have, in a degree, a similar influence on the minds of young persons with that of their parents. But it is probable that their younger relations and acqaintance, with whom they associate as companions, may influence their dispositions still more. Where there are ftrong atrach. ments of long continuance, there is almoft universally a resemblance in difpofition and manners. They are con, tinually entering into each other's views, wishes, and dislikes ; engaging in some pursuits about which they are similarly affected. The participation of each other's feelings, so far as they are innocent, have a very falutary influence by producing that mutual good humour and af.


[ocr errors]

fection, which by being improved and extended, becomes the source of pure and enlarged benevolence. It is obfervable, however, that children are capable of only a superficial acquaintance with each other's sentiments, and cannot enter into them with that minuteness which is incident to persons of more advanced experience. This, perhaps, occasions that general resemblance of disposition, with many particular differences, which is so often observable in perfons of the same family.

The profeffion of life in which young persons are engaged also, must undoubtedly have a very considerable inXuence on the general character. Those daily pursuits which occupy the chief attention of youth during a course of years, must not only cause an aptitude and facility in those particular pursuits, but must give a peculiar turn to the genius and temper. Those occupations which are most liberal and useful, are certainly to be preferred, as promotive of a liberal and benevolent fpirit. Next to the more liberal and useful profeífions, those which occupy the least time and attention are, perhaps, on some accounts to be preferred. There are, however, advantages and disadvantages attending most profeflions, even with respect to the main end of life, which is the fora mation of a virtuous character. Even the liberal arts and sciences, which are the immediate avenues to knowledge and refinement, too often occasion a mixture of oftentation and vanity, which, however, should be prevented by the superior wisdom, and which it is their object to inftil. Those occupations which may be considered as the more immediately useful, such as the employments of agriculture, are perhaps, in general, those which oc. cupy the least time and attention ; but on that account may occasion a lifless inactivity of mind, which, if nor corrected by some hours of close application, may introduce an habitual dulness and insensibility. Those occu-pations which engross the attention entirely, sometimes with a continual hurry of thought, occasion a quick but superficial turn of thinking, which requires correction Аа 3


from some hours of recreation, for deliberate reflection and reading.

Thus have I attempted to enumerate some of the more immediate causes which contribute to the forma. tion of the human character. Still far is the important subjeet from being exhausted. I may therefore refume it in some future Number of this Miscellany, which is happily devoted to the instruction and entertainment of the rising generation.


B ,


(F:om the History of that Country.) EFORE the Russian conquest they lived in perfect nor paying any taxes; the old men, or those who are remarkable for their bravery, bearing the principal authority in their villages, though none had any right to command or inflict punishment. Although in outward appearance they resemble the other inhabitants of Siberia, yet the Kamtschadales differ in this, that their faces are not so long as the other Siberians, their cheeks stand more out, their teeth are thick, their mouth large, their ftature middling, and their shoulders broad, particularly those people who inhabit the sea-coast,

Their manner of living is slovenly to the last degree; they never wash their hands nor face, nor cut their nails; they eat out of the same dish with the dogs, which they never wash; every thing about them stinks of fish; they never comb their heads, but both men and wo men plait their hair in two locks, binding the ends with small ropes ; when any hair starts out, they fow it with threads to make it lie close ; by this means they have fuch a quantity of lice that they can scrape them off by handfuls, and they are nasty enough even to eat them. Those that have not natural hair fufficient wear falfe locks, sometimes as much as weigh ten pounds, which makes their heads look like a haycock.


« ПредишнаНапред »