Графични страници
PDF файл

How much soever woman contributes to refining and amplifying the innocent pleasures of health and prosperity, yet still more doth she contribute, when she acts the woman, to alleviate the pains of adversity. In our sickness and sorrows she is indeed as “a ministers ing angel.” What heart else is so sympathetic ? What hand else is so soothing ? Who awaits the sick bed with most care, with most assiduity, with the most inexhaustible patience? Who, in spite of feebleness of frame, foregoes sleep, and patiently endures a course of remitless watchings of incredible length ? Who, so often, devotes life, and the pleasures of life, to the needs of a helpless parent; to the solitary chamber of decrepit age ? It is woman ; the well-educated, the enlightened, the christian woman.

* Paradise Lost.


Of the increase of Consequence ordinarily given a mar

by marrying.

FAMILIES are clusters of Kttle commonwealths, which can hardly subsist without government, and whose well being depends greatly upon the manner in which they are governed.

The ruler of a family, with respect to the children belonging to his household and under his care, stands in the relation of a magistrate. A sort of magistrate he is, of very ample powers; for he is cloathed at once, in a certain measure, with legislative, judicial and executive authority.

In this character it concerns him to act with the utmost impartiality. To be partial is to be unjust ; and

the injustice being perceived and deeply felt, (as it scarcely ever fails to be,) discontent, heart-burnings, and bitter murmurings will ensue. Favouritism is the bane of government, in the smallest communities as well as the largest. And look! Often it is the favourite child that wrings the hearts of the doting parents ; and no less often the child that shared least in their regards, comes at last to be the solace and the prop of their declining years.

It behooves that the ruler of a family establish no domestic rules and laws but such as are reasonable in themselves, and conducive to the real good and welfare of the little community he governs. Else he acts the part of a tyrant-and one who is a tyrant in his own house, would be a tyrant over millions if he had it in

his power.

As the laws for his household should be enacted with all the prudence and forethought he is master of, so also they should be executed with discretion and cool judgment. What would be thought of a judge, who should proceed to pass a penal sentence without conviction, or without giving a patient hearing and a fair trial, or who should fly into a violent passion, upon the judgment seat, and fuam with rage while in the act of passing sentence ? Every body would think him utterly unfit for his place, and would cry out, Shame upon him! Now the ruler of a family acts as a judge ; while the party arraigned before him, has neither the benefit of counsel, nor the privilege of trial by jury. In these circumstances it is peculiarly fit and necessary that the judge should act not passionately, but with cool deliberation.

Paternal magistracy must be supported by general decency of behaviour, or inevitably it will fall into contempt. It is an old Latin maxim, “ Maxima debetur pueris reverentia :"-in English, “ Very great respect is due to children. Parents must respect themselves in the presence of their children.

A governor, or a justice.of a court, who respects not himself by a steady observance of the laws of decency, brings his office and authority into contempt : and it is alike so in domestic government. Nor does the requisite decorum of

paternal authority, at all imply moroseness, and habitual sternness. So far otherwise, the father who is courteous and affable, and, in a proper manner even intimate, with his children, increases by it their esteem and respect, as well as their love.

A unit standing alone, however great a unit it be, is still the least of numbers ; but place it in close alliance with another unit, and instantly there is produced the respectable number 11.

Ordinarily a man multiplies his importance in society by marrying. Instantly he multiplies the number. of his kindred ; the relations of his wife being, to him, as his own. The circle of friendly acquaintance is enlarged, by the addition of those with whom she had been in the habits of friendship. It is now, that society begins to have fast hold of him ; and it is now, that he himself begins to cling to society in good earnest. He is no longer a citizen at large, whose home is every where, or rather no where. He now feels that he has indeed a particular home, and is attached to the spot. And what though he have neither rank, nor wealth, nor talents, to distinguish him abroad ? He, nevertheless, is a man of consequence in his own family. Of that little community he is the legitimate head, by a right more divine than any regal authority car boast of. There is at least, one individual, who participates deeply and feelingly in all his interests and fortunes. His prosperity and his adversity, his joys and his sorrows, are her's. However obscure, he comes Now to be a man of some authority. His children are

the subjects of his rule, as well as the objects of his paternal care and love. He says to one, Go, and he go eth; to another, Come, and he cometh ; and to a third, Do this, and he doeth it. Nor is any ruler else obeyed with so much alacrity and good will, as that father, who acts the father with a proper mixture of discretion and tenderness. The eyes of his little subjects glisten with joy while they are fulfilling his wishes and obey ing his behests.

Moreover, ordinarily a man is more likely to be a virtuous member of society for marrying. He feels doubly bound to good behaviour by placing himself in this relationship. It is not only his own interest that is at stake, but the interests of the partner whose earthly destinies are so closely connected with his : the interests, too, of the beloved offspring of their union. If he bring a biot upon himself, she, together with their children, shares in the infamy. Full well he knows that if he take to bad courses, he plunges those who are most near and dear to him, as well as himself, into an abyss of wretchedness. This circumstance cannot fail of bearing with some considerable weight upon minds not entirely lost to the cominon sensibilities of human nature.


Of the use and necessity of small change in social and

domestic Commerce.

The commerce of neighbourly social life is carried on chiefly by small change. Vast favours are seldom bestowed, and heavy obligations as seldom incurred. It is the constant interchange of little obliging attentions, that constitutes connubial happiness. It springs from an uninterrupted series of little acts of mutual kindness, light as air of themselves, and costing little or nothing, but of immeasurable importance in their consequences ; as they furnish the only kind of food that will long sustain that delicate kind of friendship, and as the absence of these small attentions occasions, first coldness, then distrust, and finally alienation. Setting aside the brutish and the dissolute part of community, wives and husbands disagree oftener, by much, about trifles, than about things of real weight. Perhaps nine in ten of their disputes and squabbles, grow out of little things, such as trivial nega lects, petty faults, or a word unkindly spoken. Nay, merely a hard look, sometimes lays the foundation of a hard quarrel. A husband never can please his wife, any longer than his general conduct evinces that he is, in most respects, well pleased with her; and so vice tersa.

If we extend our view to the larger circle of social intercourse, which comprehends relations, friends, and acquaintance of every kind and degree, we shall find that the frequent interchange of courteous attentions and petty kindnesses, is the thing that keeps them united together and pleased with each other; and that in default of this, they presently lose all relish for one anothers' company. The truth is, as our tempers are oftener ruffled by trifles than by things of moment, so, on the other hand, our affections are more won by a long series of trivial obligations, than by one single obligation, however great.

Man, put him where you will, is a proudhearted lit. tle animal. And hence we become attached to those who are in the habit of treating us as if they thought us worthy of their particular notice and regard, and at the same time cold and secretly resentful toward such as

« ПредишнаНапред »