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the thing, they are so fain to have it as their own ? It is because property is power. One has exclusive power over that which is exclusively one's own. Of this mat. ter of fact, the child of four, seems almost as sensible as the man of forty: and hence it is, I conceive, that our appetence for property--which is but another name for power-begins even in infancy, and enlarges as our years increase. So true is it, that the passion for powe er is the ruling passion in human nature.
A question, then, arises here, as to the bearing that early education and discipline should have on the predominant passion or principle under consideration :a question of vast importance, which, however, I could but barely touch now, even were I better able to do it justice.
In weeding a garden we take great care, lest, with the weeds, we root up also some precious plant. In like manner should we endeavour to weed as it were, the faults out of the minds of our children ; looking diligently that we neither spoil nor mar what the Eternal Wisdom has planted in them, or any part of the natural constitution of their frame. If, then, the love of power be a part of the radical constitution of man, the proper method of education is not to eradicate, but, to temper and curb it.
This species of discipline should be begun at a very early age, and managed with a firm but prudent hand. It is a task which, for the most part, devolves chiefly upon the mother. As soon as her infant offspring evidently appears to set up a resolution for the mastery, she has no alternative but either to conquer or submit; for there is no such thing as, balancing or dividing the power betwixt them. If she submit for the first time, it prepares the way for a second defeat, and indeed for an endless series of submission ; as the child, in such a case, constantly becomes more refractory and usurping, and she more tame, yielding, and slavish. Thus she nurses up, not so much a son, as an imperious master. But provided the mother begins betimes and manages the matter with discretion, she may subdue the infant to her authority, and that without overmuch correction, even though she should have to encounter a more than ordinary obstinacy of temper ; which, so far from being an ill symptom in children, might, by proper curbing and culture, be made to eventuate in manly firmness of character.
The strife for mastery, as I said before, begins in the cradle, and, if not properly decided and settled there, it will be full likely as years increase, to appear in frightful shapes. For the contentions of little children, first with their mothers, and afterwards with one another, are the germin as it were of the contentions of grown men, which fill the earth with violence and blood.
Wherefore, nothing of human means would perhaps so much conduce to the future peace and happiness of mankind, as to break children betimes of a domineering spirit, and to weave as it were into their tender minds, sentiments and habits of mutual deference, civility and benevolence. If it were generally made a main part of education, (as assuredly it ought to be of christian education,) to learn children to curb their wills and to respect the rights and feelings of one another, an auspicious revolution in the affairs of the human kind might be reasonably looked for. A new and a happy æra might be expected, when fighting and killing, will not, as always hitherto, be the main subject of the history of man ;—when the fame and renown of men will no longer be built on the destruction of their fellow men.
Of giving in Marriage.
MARRIAGE, which is the first and most important of social institutions, is, in civilized societies, generally regulated by law; but giving in marriage is a matter of custom. And, upon this last point, so far forth as the scantlet of my own information extends, custom is very diverse, in different parts of the world.
In the simple patriarchal ages, a father was as it were a sovereign and independent ruler over his own household. His daughters especially, were quite at his disposal. Yet, in giving a daughter in marriage, it was the custom, to consult her own inclination, as appears in the 24th chapter of the book of Genesis, with respect to the case of Rebeckah, In process of time, however, it seems to have become customary in Asia, for fathers to betroth their daughters with little or no apparent regard for their preferences or wishes. In that enslaved country, where women are held in a condition of extreme debasement, a girl is compelled to accept the husband assigned her by family authority, how much soever she
detest and loathe him in her heart. Not that it is quite so, all over the vast continent of Asia. For there are in it, some nations simple in their manners, that still retain the primitive custom of allowing their females the privilege of a negative upon such of their suitors as are not fortunate enough to find favour with them.
In Dr. Clarke's description of the manners of the Calmuck Tartars resident in Asiatic Russia, is an instance in point, respecting their conjugal rites. “ Calmuck women” (he says) « ride better than the men.
A male Calmuck on horseback looks as if he was intoxicated, and likely to fall off' every instant, though he never loses his seat; but the women sit with more ease, and ride with extraordinary skill. The ceremony of marriage among the Calmucks is performed on horseback. A girl is first mounted, who rides off in full speed. Her lover pursues; and if he overtakes her, she becomes his wife, and the marriage is consummated on the spot; after which she returns with him to his tent. But it sometimes happens, that the woman does not wish to marry the person by whom she is pursued, in which case she will not suffer him to overtake her; and we were assured that no instance occurs of a Calmuck girl being thus caught, unless she had a partiality for the pursuer.”
Somewhat akin to this account of the Calmucks, is the following fabulous story of ancient date :" Atalanta had many admirers, but the only condition of obtaining her hand, was to beat her in running a race. At last Hyppodemus ran with her, and dropping some golden apples, which she stopped to pick up, he won the race and married her.”-How much or how little this old fable, so obvious in its meaning, is illustrative of the female heart in the present age, is a delicate question that I shall not take upon me to decide.
Western Europe, from which ourselves have borrowed the most of our customs, allows women a rank unprecedented and unknown in the eastern world. This is owing greatly to its superior civilization, but primarily and chiefly to the influence of christianity, to which also indeed, in no inconsiderable degree, its superior civilization is to be attributed. But even in western Europe, the females of the highest rank are disposable property, as respects giving in marriage. In a matter so deeply interesting to their comfort and
happiness, there is denied them all liberty of choice. A royal maid is disposed of in marriage upon the prirciple of state-policy altogether, and she must accept the husband that is selected for her, or else draw down upon herself an intolerable weight of scorn and indignation. Moreover, among the several ranks of nobility, giving in marriage is conducted on a principle of calculation, rather than that of attachment. So that, in this interesting particular, the liberty of European females is in an inverse ratio to the rank of their families. The deplorable consequences are the same as might reasonably be expected ;-such as coldnessy alienation, domestic feuds, and conjugal infidelity, so common and notorious among those high-born ladies that had been given in marriage contrary to their own wishes.
Nor does it by any means follow, on the other hand, that paternal authority has no concern in this matter. It has indeed a deep concern, but it is rather negative than injunctive. A father has an undoubted right, nay he is in duty bound to refuse consent to an alliance which he thinks would be deeply prejudicial to the interests of his child, and to use all proper means in his power to prevent it.* So far is this from cruelty, that it is a mark of affection, and an act of kindness. But if he overleaps this boundary; if he assumes the right of selection ; if he attempts to give his daughter-in marriage against her own inclination ; if he would sacrifice her peace to the mammon of avarice or to the moloch of ambition :- it is then that he acts the part of a tyrant, and is deserving of severity of censure.
Such instances, however, do seldom happen in common life; in which there is a manifold greater number
* I have particular reference here to children, either in the state of minority, or not of an age fylly wature.