Графични страници
PDF файл

ble 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 flighty, 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 some children are more sedate, and others more volatile, and that the latter, during their infantile years, are peculiarly pleasing for their pert vivacity. They perform childish things in the most engaging manner. And not in childhood only do they gratify and please ; in the following stage of early youth there is a charm in the vivaciousness of their temper, which we are apt to mistake for the germin of genius. But the expectation is often disappointed at the period of mature age. There is then found a gay surface, but no depth; a high-fed fancy, but a lank understanding and feeble judgment. The Man, even the aged Man, is still as volatile, still as fond of little sports and of little things, still as boyish, as when he was a boy.

The fruit of age is generally corresponding to the education of childhood. Education goes far, very far, in determining and fixing characters; and of none more than of young minds remarkably vivacious. Though a more than ordinary degree of vivacity, in the early years of life, affords no sure promise of superior strength of understanding, so neither is it to be interpreted on the other hand, as a sign that the understanding will be weak; for it sometimes is an accompaniment of great and shining parts. But in either case, the management of children of this description is a matter of peculiar delicacy. If prudent care be taken to curb and regulate, without extinguishing, the vivacity of their

tempers ; if their attention be directed betimes to things most important and serious ; if the solid parts of education be well wrought into their minds :-in such ca. ses, although at last they should turn out to be but merely of middling abilities, yet they would stand a fair chance of being not only useful, but peculiarly agreeable, members of community. Contrariwise, if their education be conducted, as too often it happens, in a manner calculated to nourish and confirm the volatile bias of their nature, there will be very little hope of their future respectability or usefulness. For, should they have talents never so bright, the chances are ten to one that they will misemploy them. Or, on the other hand, if their understanding, prove but slender, they will be always children, in manners and behaviour ;-pert, lively, frolicksome children, with hoary heads, and spectacles on the nose.

“ Habit is second nature.” Especially, when habit is superadded to the strong bias of nature, it is the hardest thing in the world to overcome it. And thus it happens that children of more than common liveliness of temper, so seldom learn to put away childish things,” when they come to be full grown men and wo

Permitted to spend their early days in little else but trifles, the habit of trifling becomes firmly rooted, and triflers they continue to be throughout the whole of their lives. The same volatileness, which made them so pleasing in their childhood, renders them shiftless, worthless, and of small repute, ever after.



Of the natural and the moral heart.

* Thise own things. and such as are grown up with thee, thou canst not know."

To obtain convietion of the truth of this observation of Esdras the Jewish Sage, we need look only to that part of our own system called the Heart. Both the material and the moral heart of man are of mysterious and wonderful construction ; too deep to be fathomed by the line of philosophy, and too intricate to be explored by human ken.

In regard to the material heart, as stated in Keil's Anatomy, “ each ventricle of the heart will a least contain one ounce of blood. The heart contracts four thousand times in one hour : from which it follows, that there passes through the heart, every hour, four thousand ounces, or three hundred and fifty pounds of blood. Now the whole mass of blood (in a commonsized human body) is said to be about twenty-five pounds ; so that a quantity of blood equal to the whole mass of blood passes through the heart fourteen times in one hour ; which is about once in every four minutes."

Dr. Paley, upon this stupendous subject, says, “ The heart is so complex in its inechanism, so delicate in many of its parts, as seemingly to be little durable, and always liable to derangement : yet shall this wonderful machine go, night and day, for eighty years together, at the rate of a hundred thousand strokes every twenty-four hours, having, at every stroke, a great resistance to overcome ; and shall continue this action this length of time, without disorder, and without weariness."


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

It is a fact worthy of notice, that in this wonderful piece of mechanism there is as it were the power

of pelling the meddlesome eye of curiosity ; since, whilst we are in sound health, the mighty labour that is perpetually going on in the little labaratory within gives us no sort of disquietude, so long as we pay no close attention to the process ; but no sooner does one contemplate it with close and undivided attention, than unpleasant and almost insupportable sensations check his impertinent inquisitiveness. Perhaps no one living would be able to fix bis whole mind, for the space of a single minute, upon the pulsations of his own heart without experiencing sensations of undescribabłe unea. siness.

All this is wonderful—“ A mighty maze, but not without a plan.”-Who that takes a sober view of the mechanism of his own heart, can say, in that very heart, There is no God !

Nor is the moral heart of man less wonderful. It is remarkable that this too, as well as the material or natural heart, is repulsive to careful and strict 'scrutiny. It is one of the most difficult of performances for one to scrutinize the moral frame and operations of one's own heart with a steadfast and impartial eye; the difficulty principally consisting in a violent aversion to that kind of scrutiny and the irksomeness of the process. And hence it is, that a great many persons know less of their own hearts, considered in a moral point of view, than of any thing else with which they are in a considerable degree conversant. Partial as we always are to our own understandings and our intellectual powers in general, we judge of them with a great deal more uprightness and truth, than we do of our hearts. The defects of the former we perceive, and own; but those of the latter we conceal as much as possible, not only

[ocr errors]

from others, but from ourselves; and are mightily offended when the finger even of a friend points them out to us.

As the heart is the source of the affections and the volitions, so it is the seat of all real beauty and of all real deformity belonging to man or woman. By its qualities, and by no standard else, is the worth or the vileness of

every human character to be determined. No splendor of talent, no brilliancy of action even on virtue's side, can countervail the want of rightness of heart. Hence, whilst we are bound to judge others to be virtuous, in so far as they appear, from the tenor of their overt acts ; we must look deeper, far deeper, in forming a judgment upon ourselves.

In choosing a wife, a husband, or any familiar and bosom friend, the very first consideration is to be had to the qualities of the heart ; for if those be vile, no intel. lectual excellence can give promise of good. A man, or a woman, either bad-hearted or heartless, however gifted with intellect or furnished with accomplishments, is not one that will brighten the chain of friendship, or smooth the path of life.

The heart that gravitates the wrong way, draws the understanding along with it ; blinding, perverting, and duping that noble faculty ; so that it judges of the thing, not according to what it really is, but according to the feeling and inclination of its treacherous advi

This makes it so difficult for one to determine right in one's own cause.

It is no less melancholy than true, that, in general, we take infinitely less pains to improve our hearts than to improve our understandings. Yet no point is clearer, than that the improvement of the intellectual faculties can turn to no good account, without a corresponding improvement of the moral faculties.


« ПредишнаНапред »