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mother tongue. Such, in particular, was the case of Alexander Selkirk, whose real history is veiled under the fictitious but pleasing tale of Robinson Crusoe.
Now it is obvious, that age naturally delights in repose; in a condition of quiet, both of body and mind ; of quiet bordering on inaction. It is visited with the feeling of lassitude not easily overcome ; for which reason, the most of those whose prime had been spent in vigorous labour of thought, do, in the evening of life, remit this labour, considerably or altogether, and their minds fail for lack of exercise.
It is further obvious to remark, that age seldom enjoys an equal participation in social intercourse. “ Iron sharpeneth iron ; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." The mind can doze over a book, but engaging conversation arouses its dormant powers, and tends, more perhaps than any thing else, to give it tone and tension. But a great many of the aged are solitary and desolate. The companions of their youth, and of éven their riper years, are mostly gone, and they have found none to supply their places. Living as it were alone in the world, their minds are no longer expanded and quickened by a living intercourse with society.
If the topics which have now been merely suggested, were considered in all their bearings and consequences, it would, I conceive, appear, at least as a probable fact, that the imbecility of minds once strong, is more frequently the effect of their own torpid inaction, than of the impairing hand of time.
To those who wish for the prolongation of their rational faculties (and who would not wish it ?) I will venture to suggest the following short bints.
1. “ Be temperate in all things”-in your desires, as well as in your enjoyments.
2. Cultivate contentment and cheerfulness of temper.
« A cheerful heart doeth good like a medicine." Like a medicine it harmonizes and invigorates the body and the mind ; while morbid melancholy and peevishness powerfully tend to impair both.
3. So educate and so train up your children, if children you have, that they will likely be not only the props, but the delightful companions, of your old age.
4. When the years draw nigh, or are actually come, in which the hand of time begins to bear hard upon you, beware of sinking into mental torpitude or inaction : by reading and contemplation, exercise daily the faculties of memory, of reason, and of judgment.
5. Neither withdraw from society, nor give society occasion to withdraw from you. As fast as the friends of your youth drop away by death, make to yourselves other friends from among the succeeding generations. It is not good that the old should consort with none but the old ; it tends to deepen the shade of the gloomy valley which they are passing through, and to accelerate the impairment of their minds. The company and conversation of the young, nay even the prattlement of little children, is animating to well-tempered age : and, on the other hand, age that carries with it experience and goed information, and possesses a due mixture of pleasant humour with becoming gravity, has it in its power to please, as well as to profit, the decent and ingenuous part of younger society.
In conclusion : Lay hold of Wisdom as the only sure anchor of age. “ In her right hand is length of Jays." The firm belief and steadfast practice of our holy religion, as it yields the consolation of hope, which, as to the aged, can no longer spring from the prospect of earthly enjoyments ; so it tends, much every way, to invigorate the understanding, and to preserve it from decay,
Of the silly quarrel between a venerable old couple
about a little goat. Tobit of old, and his wife Anna, unluckily fell into a tough quarrel upon the question, how she came by the kid that he heard bleating in his house.* He, very uncourteously accused her of stealing it ; while she, in return, broadly hinted that, notwithstanding his pretensions, he was no better than he should be. Behold, thou and all thy works are known.
66 The tongue can no man tame.” And besides, it is agreeable to the laws of pneumatics, that the lightest bodies should rise the highest, especially in a tempest. Wherefore, in spite of the degrading subjection in which the wife was held under the husband in that
age and country, Anna had the last word ;-and a cutting word it was. Poor Tobit, it seems, had more than his match; for the retort that his rib made upon him, was so keenly sarcastic, and touched him so deep, that he fell a weeping. Indeed he was not much to be pitied, as he was manifestly the aggressor. Had he patiently enquired into the matter, instead of blurting out his provoking suspicions, the bitter fray between them had never been.
This apocryphal text, which, peradventure, was nev. er treated of so formally and methodically before, embraces several points of sound and wholesome doctrine.
1. The serenity of connubial life is very apt to be disturbed by sudden and unexpected gusts, unless special care be taken in this particular. If both be of a mild and even temper, there is no danger ; or, if one
* 2 Chap. of the Apocryphal book of Tobit,
be so, and the other hasty, the danger is not so great : but if both be inflammable, there is need of the utmost watchfulness. A couple, so tempered, may, notwithstanding, be faithful, generous, noble-spirited and kindhearted, and may live together very lovingly in the main ; but if they fail to keep a sharp look-out, now and then a gust arises, all of a sudden, and quite unexpected to themselves, and the house is made to ring from side to side. Some one, in his speculations upon this subject, has recommended it, that a hasty couple should accustom themselves, ere they fly into a passion with one another, to utter in their hearts, thrice, the three following cooling words-BEAR AND FORBEAR.
2. The most part of domestic feuds, perhaps nine in ten, spring from trifles. “ Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth !” A word unfitly spoken, a sour look, a' neglect, touches and stings the mind and some. times fires the tongue, and occasions a boisterous dispute ; even though neither party can accuse or blame the other, in any matters of considerable moment. For the prevention of this kind of domestic evil, permit me to offer the following recipe :~" The Jesuits,” according to an Italian author— the Jesuits, with whom none could vie in the pleasures of civil life, were exceedingly attentive to appear to each other in the most amiable light. The polite behaviour of the first day was uniformly preserved by them during the many years they continued together ; so, that the honeymoon of their consociation, if this expression may be allowed, lasted for their lives. This reciprocal complaisance, at first merely adopted, was improved, by habit, into a solid, uninterrupted and happy friendship."
The application is obvious.-Go, and do likewise.
3. As' amongst neighbours, so in domestic or conjugal life, sharp contentions arise from judging of mat:
ters prematurely, or before they have been duly investigated and weighed. In this respect, Tobit was sadly out of the way. He should have questioned Anna, mildly, about the bleating kid ; asking her, in á pleasant tone, how and whence it came : and, if not satisfied with her answers, he should have searched elsewhere for the truth. But no: Such was the flurry of his spirits, that he acted with as much assurance and decision upon a mere impression as if he had had proof positive. Neither is this a solitary instance : the like has often happened, to the great discomfiture of social and domestic life. It ought to be deeply engraven on the mind and memory of man and woman, that, “ he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him."
4. In the state of matrimony, hardly any thing is more discomforting, or more deadening to the delicate affection of love, than overmuch suspiciousness of tem. per.-Groundless suspicions, repeatedly manifested, never fail to cool the love and excite the ire of the sus. pected party. And here again, Tobit deserves the lash of severe censure. He acted the part of a suspicious husband. And no wonder that Anna, an honest as well as industrious housewife--no wonder that she was stung to the quick at being suspected of so heinous an offence. It is no wonder that her spirits were aroused, and being well-gifted in that particular, that she played it off with her tongue in the able manner she did.
One thing more, and I shall have done. Let no man take occasion from this subject to ridicule or despise marriage. It has passed into a proverbial saying, that there are but few happy matches : and, in one sense, it is true. There are few, in comparison of the whole, who are very happy in marriage. But permit me to ask, Are there a great many that are very happy in the