Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

mend his ways, or to remove off to a more congenial so. ciety. 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 Prejudice, or rather in their nefarious efforts to banish from society, not only pure morals but even the common decencies of life; artfully directed their efforts particularly at the total extinction of the feeling of shame. And, for some time, their success corresponded to their zeal. It is a recorded fact, that, during the short-lived popularity of the writings of Mary Wolstencraft, 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 the training of 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 management 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 loose 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 honour, has done frightful mischiefs to our misjudging and deladed race.

NUMBER LXXIII.

Of virtuous poverty.

“ Man needs but little here below,
Nor needs that little long-

And yet to possess but little, though it be full 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 extreme degree only.

True enough, 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 but little 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.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

It is not in the splendour 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 resignation. 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 pureness of morals, industrious, honest, unrepining, contented, daily offering up thanks to God for that little which it enjoys ; : 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 ex. ample, 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 greetwith admiration and applause, whatever of shining virtue the eye can descry in the ranks of wealth and gran. deur.

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 povertynot 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 purs'd him ; tender thoughts meantime
Were intercbang'd, and hopes and views sublime,
To her he came to die, and every day
She took some portion of the dread away ;
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 ;
A part she sigh'd ; alone, she shed the tear ;
Then, as if breaking from a cloud, she gave
Fresh light, and gilt the prospect of the graye."
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.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

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 attentlon 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.

66 She is to be again dressed fine, and keep her visit. ing day ; again to change the colour 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 playhouse, 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 compliments, and again disturbed at ima. ginary 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 secret intelligence of private amours, and early notices of marriages, quarrels, and partings.”

Such is the description of an elderly fashionable la. dy, 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 valua

« ПредишнаНапред »