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sion of the social affections, is thus doomed to isolation, and grows selfish through sheer necessity. The mischief produced by this sort of exclusivism, even in the middle ranks, where family influence is comparatively limited, is sufficiently great; but when persons, who, from their rank and consequence, have it in their power to produce good and evil on an extensive scale, suffer not their benevolence to reach beyond the domestic circle, their sin is great indeed, and the omission felt in a ten-fold degree. It becomes pernicious in another way also; for so little are the generality of mankind accustomed to analyze or to discriminate, that when they observe the same person, who shews the tenderest affection to his wife and children, and connexions, exhibiting proofs of cruelty, and hardness of heart, or, at best, of indifference towards all but the favoured few, they learn to regard filial, conjugal, and paternal solicitude with disapprobation and contempt, and to consider this natural exercise of the benevolent affections as necessarily destructive of that more enlarged benevolence, which gives the heart an interest in the happiness of all that live.
trolBad Temper often the result of Nursery Mismanagement
our Religion_An excellent thing in Woman. Of the many beneficial results of that early discipline of the heart, and cultivation of the benevolent affections, which I have so strenuously advocated, none will be found more essential to individual happiness than the regulation of the temper. Volumes might be, volumes have been, written upon this important subject, by authors of acknowledged ability. Of this I am fully aware, and am ready to confess, that I can do little more than reiterate their arguments; but trust, that in so doing I may succeed in impressing upon the minds of my readers the necessity of making every indication of temper in children a primary object of attention. Vain and nugatory will prove every fine quality, either of heart or mind, if the infirmities of an uncorrected temper be suffered to grow up along with them.
When moralists, religionists, and philosophers of all sorts set about reasoning on the phenomena
of the world we live in, and contemplating the mass of human misery to be found therein, trace it to this or that source, they are apt to overlook one apparently trivial cause of suffering, which, nevertheless, blights more happiness, and, as I have just observed, neutralizes a greater portion of God's bounteous gifts than all those heinous enormities put together which are registered in the catalogue of crimes. This insidious, heartdestroying blight is often found where every thing like atrocious vice is utterly unknown, and where many of the very highest virtues flourish. Probity, liberality, temperance, chastity, may all exist with a bad temper, yet are they all sullied, often rendered valueless by it. I perfectly admit the truth of an observation I lately met with, that many a human being has been hung in chains, whose justly punished deeds have not caused one hundredth part of the pain to his fellow-creatures which a perverse, unbridled temper is sure to give.
Mark its evil influence in the domestic circle. Suppose a mother and her children seated round the household hearth in peace, and love, and harmony: another is added to the group—with gloomy or angry brow, cross-grained, imperious, captious, a husband and father enters-peace, and love, and joy take flight at his approach--the merry voices of the children cease-a pang shoots through the heart of the unhappy wife-she knows that her daily trials, from which she had enjoyed a brief respite, are about to recommence. Anxiety to
ward off the gathering storm is now her only thought, and presses like a nightmare upon her breast, crushing and paralyzing every faculty through which she might have received and reciprocated happiness.
I have stated the case thus, because man's power is somewhat more despotic than that of woman, consequently his ability to torment is greater. But the evil is not much lessened when the case is reversed, which it frequently is, and the wife's temper performs the amiable office of scare-comfort. And here I must take occasion to remark, that females too often presume upon the imaginary prerogative of their sex to say aggravating things, which, they are aware, certain established laws of gallantry will not allow the other sex to resent. Even, in the nursery, this sort of feminine provocation will display itself; and if boys are apt to evince a domineering spirit, founded upon their supposed superiority of sex, girls are not less prone to tease and irritate their brothers by the impertinent freedom of their tongues.
The tempers of children, so far as regards persons of more mature life, would be of little consequence, did we not behold in them indications of future misery, on an enlarged scale; but viewing the matter in this light, which reason and experience compel us to do, we must needs allow the importance of arresting the evil in its earliest beginning. To attempt this, however, with any
prospect of success, we ought to be watchful over our own actions; since it is difficult, if not unjust, to correct others for the very faults of which we ourselves are guilty in their presence.
66 Children should not see the deformed expression of the malevolent passions in the countenance of those they live with: before the habits are formed, before sympathy has any rule to guide itself, it is necessarily determined by example."*
Self-denial is a great virtue; Self-control no less an one.
To relinquish our desires and possessions in behalf of others is, in fact, a light sacrifice, in comparison with subjugating for the sake of others, by the daily and hourly exercise of self-control, the temper which would interfere with their happiness. In the one case, applause might follow, and hence pride and self-love might derive gratification by reason of the surrender; but in the other case, we must rest satisfied with our own approbation alone.
Nature, even physical agency, have much to do in the constitution of temper. The tempers of some persons are naturally so even, that there seems little for discipline to achieve. Indeed, the disparities are so great in the gifts of temper, that did we not continually witness the power which persons of the most irritable temper can exercise over themselves whenever self-interest or vanity, or any other benefit in expectancy, calls for such restraint, we might be inclined to believe the in
Edgeworth on Education.