Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

time of utmost need ?- Then hast thou a pearl of inestimable worth-lock it close to thy bosom.

NUMBER XLIV.

Of the importance of learning to say No.

A very wise and excellent Mother, gave the following advice with her dying breath-—“My son, learn to say, No."-Not that she did mean to counsel her son to be a churl in speech, or to be stiff-hearted in things indifferent or trivial-and much less did she counsel him to put his negative upon the calls of charity and the impulses of humanity; but her meaning was, that,, along with gentleness of manners and beneuolence of disposition, he should possess an inflexible firmness of purpose-a quality beyond all price, whether it regards the sons or the daughters of our fallen race.

Persons so infirm of purpose, so wanting in resolution, as to be incapable, in almost any case, of saying No, are among the most hapless of human beings ; and that, nothwithstanding their sweetness of temper, their courteousness of demeanor, and what ever else of amiable and estimable qualities they possess. Though they see the right, they pursue the wrong; not so much out of inclination, as from a frame of mind disposed to yield to every solicitation.

An historian, of a former and distant age, says of a Frenchmen who ranked as the first Prince of the Blood, that he had a bright and knowing inind, a graceful sprightliness, good intentions, complete disinterestedness, and an incredible easiness of manners, but that, with all these qualities, he acted a most contemptible part for the want of resolution; that he came into

eyes wide

all the factions of his time, because he wanted power to resist those who drew him in for their own interest; but that he never came out of any but with shame, because he wanted resolution to support himself whilst he was in tbem.

It is owing to the want of resolution, more than to the want of sound sense, that a great many persons have run into imprudences, injurious, and sometimes fatal, to their worldly interests. Numerous instances of this might be named, but I shall content myself with naming only one-and that is, rash and hazardous suretiship. The pit stands uncovered, and yet men of good sense, as well as amiable dispositions, plunge themselves into it, with their

open.

Notwithstanding the solemn warnings in the proverbs of the Wise Man, and notwithstanding the examples of the fate of so many that have gone before them, they make the hazardous leap. And why? Not from inclination, or with a willing mind, but because being solicited, urged and intreated, they know not how to say No. If they had learnt, not only to pronounce that monosyllable, but to make use of it on all proper occasions, it might have saved from ruin, both themselves and their wives and children.

But the worst of it is still behind. The ruin of character, of morals, and of the very heart and soul of man, originates oft in a passive yieldingness of temper and disposition, or in the want of the resolution to say No. Thousands and many thousands, through this weakness, have been the victims of craft and deceit. Thousands and many thousands, once of fair promise, but now sunk in depravity and wretchedness, owe their ruin to the act of consenting, against their better judgments, to the enticements of evil companions and familiars. Had they said No, when duty, when honour, phen conscience, when every thing sacred demanded it of them--happy might they now have been the solace of their kindred and the ornaments of society.

Sweetness of temper, charitableness of heart, gentleness of demeanor, together with a strong disposition to act obligingly, and even to be yielding in things indifferent or of trifling momentare amiable and estimable traits of the human character : but there must be withal, and as the ground-work of the whole, such a firmness of resolution as will guarantee it against yielding, either imprudently, or immorally, to solicitations and enticements. Else one has

very little chance in passing down the current of life, of escaping the eddies and quicksands that lie in his way.

I will add here only one remark, which is, that stiff tempers in children, are of better omen than generally they are thought to be. Such tempers, properly managed and rightly directed, are the most likely to form characters of fixed and immovable resolution ;-characters the least liable to be bent, by circumstances, by threats, or by persuasions, from the line of pruduce and duty.

It is related, in the life of the illustrious Reformer Martin Luther, that, according to his own account, he had, on a certain occasion, been thoroughly chastized, by his preceptor, with the rod, fifteen times in succession. Had his natural temper been mild, and flexible, like that of his amiable and truly excellent coadjutor, Melancton, it would have unfitted him for being the prime-leader in achieving that most difficult and stupendous work--the Reformation.

NUMBER XLV..

Of the calamities of hereditary idleness.

We cannot, if we will, make ourselves torpid like an oyster. We must needs be doing something with our existence, or endure else a wearisome load, as undescribable as it is intolerable. Indeed occupation of one kind or other is so necessary to human quiet, that life itself is burdensome without it. For short as life is, there are but few, if any, who never complain, at heart, of the superfluity of their time. Whereas the wights, great and small, who have nothing at all to do, are, for the most part, perpetually uttering this most dolorous kind of complaint, or at least manifest no ordinary degree of restlessness-being burdened with their time much more than the most busy are burdened with their business.

The misery of idleness is to be seen nearly as much in high-life, as in the rags and filth of extreme poverty. In Europe there are classes of people who are idle as it were out of necessity : not that they are unable to find employ, but they are unable to find such employ as they think comports with their dignity. Manual labour of any kind would degrade them; nor does the condition of their rank allow them to enter into trade, or even to embrace any of the learned professions. In fact, save those few who are selected to take part in the administration of government, or who are placed in high military stations; they are condemned, by the exalted condition of their birth, to perpetual idleness. And what is the result ? It is, that this very exaltation of birth, which places them so far above all ordinary business, makes them doubly wretched.

“ There is scarcely any truth more certain or more evident,” says a writer who was possessed of a personal knowledge of the splendid group whose picture he has delineated," than that the noblesse of Europe, are, in general, less happy than the common people. There is one irrefragable proof of it, which is, that they do not maintain their own population. Families, like stars, or candles, which you will, are going out continually ; and without fresh recruits from the plebeians, the nobility would, in time be extinct. If you make allowances for the state, which they are condemned by themselves to support, they are poorer than the poordeeply in debt-and tributary to usurious capitalists, as greedy as the Jews."

Persons in the intermediate grades between the rery top and the very bottom of the scale of life, have precious advantages over those who are placed in either extreme. That they have advantages over the lowest, all will readily admit; and that they have some important advantages over the highest, is a position equally true. In point of real, solid comfort and happiness, the condition of the farmer or mechanic who supplies his daily wants by the labour of his own hands, is infinitely preferable to that of the noblesse above descri. bed; who, for want of regular occupation, are under the hard necessity of taking a deal of pains and of resorting to numberless expedients and devices, to wear out the tedious moments of their earthly existence. Even whilst, with utmost eagerness, they are seeming, ly pursuing pleasure, their chief efforts are to escape from misery, by killing the time which hangs so heavily upon their minds and hearts. For, as to pleasure, they are so surfeited of it, that they seek it only as

* Discourses on Davila, by the ex-president Mr. Adams.

« ПредишнаНапред »